Sunday Sum-Up: June 14, 2020

Ever have one of those weeks that gets away from you? Like you wake up on Monday morning, and then you blink and it’s Saturday night and you feel like you’ve gotten pretty much nothing done?

That was my week. Fun.

I blame the heat for killing my focus. We have another hot week ahead. Great…

On the bright side, though, I have managed to keep my windowsill herb garden alive! I worried that I had accidentally (somehow) managed to kill my peppermint plant, but with some extra water and a bit of pruning, it’s making a comeback. The thyme plant was getting a little wild, so I trimmed it back. My first (tiny) thyme harvest is currently hanging up to dry.

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Obligatory Mina Photo:

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I borrowed a lighting kit to see if it would fit better with my new studio set-up (I rotated my drawing table 90°, and it works a lot better in the space this way). I put a bit of background paper over the drawing table and plopped Mina onto the table. She wasn’t completely thrilled about being a model, but once I grabbed a crinkle ball and crinkled it a bit to get her attention, she looked up and I was able to get a series of shots. As many photos as I take of her, you’d think she’d be used to the camera by now.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

Nothing. I finished reading nothing last week. Who even am I?

What I’m Currently Reading:

  • The Game of Kings (The Lymond Chronicles #1) by Dorothy Dunnett (170/543)
  • Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly (139/416)
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle, audiobook narrated by Victor LaValle (50%)
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, ARC provided by NetGalley (41%)

I’m starting to see the plot coalescing in The Game of Kings and beginning to pick out some favorite characters. Dunnett’s writing is so quick and light, but also incredibly dense. It really helps me to picture what’s going on as though it were a movie, rather than a straightforward narrative.

I’m not as far along in Amberlough as I hoped I would be, but the political machinations are coming to a boiling point, and while I can see what’s going to happen overall, the characters don’t so there is a lot of suspense ahead. I’m buddy reading it with Jackie @Death by Tsundoku, and it’s been fun to discuss the story as we go along, and speculate on what might happen and who we think the possible bad guys are.

The Changeling is such a fascinating book! It’s about Apollo Kagwa, a half-Black half-white rare book dealer in New York City. His father disappeared when Apollo was four. Apollo grew up with strange nightmares that eventually faded away. Now, as an adult, he and his wife Emma welcome a baby to their family. But Apollo’s bliss fades away when his nightmares return. Then Emma and the baby are gone, and Apollo will do everything he can to find out what happened. The Changeling won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 2018 (LaValle shared the award with Fonda Lee, who also won for Jade City). It has a peculiar blend of the banal and the horrific, and even when the story is dealing with the mundane aspects of the characters’ lives, it is still fascinating. I am looking forward to getting to the rest of this book.

I’ve been looking forward to Mexican Gothic since I first heard about it back in December or January, and was thrilled when I got an ARC through NetGalley. It reads like a classic Gothic novel, where the heroine, Noemi, travels to an aging mansion where her cousin has fallen ill. The English family that resides in the mansion is strange with rigid rules and a grand sense of their own superiority. Moreno-Garcia blends classic Gothic stories with the consequences of English colonialism on the people who were colonized to create a story that, so far, is genuinely unsettling. I am loving it so far.


What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

Nothing! I plan to finish the books I’m in the middle of! I want to get something finished before I start on yet another book!

About That Writing Thing:

I did a bit of writing last week. I think I finished a whole three pages. Y’all, I hate hot weather. It zaps my brain and my will to do anything. I can write like mad when it’s cold or dreary, but give me lots of sunlight and (too) warm weather, and I wilt.

Let’s just call it: I’m a vampire. A winter vampire.

That said, I did get some research done. I had to look up what happens when someone overdoses on a particular herbal remedy (the story takes place in the Medieval era, so herbal remedies are what they have), so I have that all sorted out and am ready to continue on with this chapter. Assuming my brain doesn’t just wither away in the upcoming heatwave.

And on a useful note! I remembered a phenomenal resource for writers or people who are just weirdly curious about strange things: Wolfram Alpha. This is a computational database that covers dozens of topics from mathematics to health to history. So if, like me, you need to know what time sunrise was in a particular English town on April 16, AD 439, then you’re set.

(By the by, sunrise in that English town on April 16, AD 439 was at 5:01AM)

So…. That’s all for this week. I really hope I’ll have more of a brain this week, because trying to get anything accomplished when your focus is completely shot is a challenge at best, and I have so many things I want to get done.

But I’ll leave you with a pretty photo I took while on an evening walk the other day:

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11 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: June 14, 2020

  1. I love the photos, both of Mina (black cats are tough to photograph) and the evening clover. I know what you mean about the heat, especially if it’s also very humid. Many times on those days I get home from work and just collapse. Dinner is whatever fits in the microwave. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying Mexican Gothic. I’ve been wanting to try something by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I have ebook copies of Gods of Jade and Shadow and Certain Dark Things. Have you read either of those?

  2. Thanks! Thankfully, my camera has the animal eye-autofocus feature, so it makes it a lot easier to photograph Mina!

    Hot and humid days are the worst. I just want to skip July and August every year…

    I read Gods of Jade and Shadow last year– loved it– but I haven’t read Certain Dark Things.

  3. That photo of Mina looks amazing! Pets never get used to cameras. My dog no longer treats the camera like it will steal his soul, but he still hates it. He’s not particularly interested in being photogenic. Mina is a beautiful model! Will you be investing in a lighting kit, then?

    Ugh. I can relate to weeks that vanish. That happened to me the first week of June. I blinked and where did the time go? I felt like I accomplished nothing. But things seem to be improving now. That’s one reason I finished Amberlough this weekend. I couldn’t stop reading once the Opsies started to gain power more quickly… It was horrifying and intriguing at the same time. I am STILL worried about our characters!

    Good on you for planning to just finish reading your current books this week. I read only two books at once right now — that’s all I can focus on. I am always impressed with how many books you can read at once.

  4. I’m not sure yet if I’ll get a whole kit, or if I’ll just get a ringlight (which I’ve used for things before and liked). It’ll depend on the costs. I may just borrow this one another time or two, or just keep using windowlight for these smaller things I’m photographing (like books and plants). That’ll get harder once Fall rolls around and they days get shorter, though.

    Wow! I am now waaaay behind on Amberlough! I started reading it last night, and kept falling asleep, so I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped. I finished Mexican Gothic today, though, so I’ll be focusing on Amberlough! I already own the second book in the series, so I’ll be able to start it right away if I absolutely must find out what happens next.

    I just get so excited about books that I can’t wait until I’m done with the first one before I start on the next one!

  5. You’re fine! Life has been NUTS for you. I just need to wait until we chat more before I pick up book 2 or I know I’ll start to smash things together. I’m quite poor at separating books in discussion. It’s all one story so it all tends to run together in my head.

  6. I totally feel you on being a winter vampire writer. For ages, I’ve only been able to write during cooler weather, and I’m really trying to just bash that over the head this year and force myself through the summer anyway to try to see if I can become a year-round writer again? Who knows, maybe it’ll work.

    I’m so curious to see what you end up thinking of Amberlough overall! The ending totally knocked me off my seat, and it was one of the few times I truly considered going to the bookstore at nearly 10PM at night to get the sequel.

  7. I used to be able to write year-round, but once I hit 30, it seems like summer hits me harder than ever before. I never acclimate to the heat and humidity. Meanwhile, winter can get as cold and nasty as it wants, and I don’t have a problem with it. I’m trying to push myself to get back into the habit of writing, but those days of and easy 2,000+ words/day is going to be a trick to get back to.

    I am really like Amberlough right now! I have a feeling I’m going to love it by the time I hit the end (thought I don’t think I’ll love some of the characters by then…). Fortunately, I have the second book already, and I’m prepared to pick up the third one from the bookstore if I simple must have it.

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