Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

What’s New — July 2018

This seems like a fitting day to write my What’s New post, since it’s my blog’s 6th birthday. It’s ready for first grade, guys. This blog has been such a great outlet for me to write about all of my geeky interests and meet people online who share them, so I am really happy that it’s still going strong.

world cup.jpgJust in the past few weeks, I’ve been obsessed with soccer and the World Cup. I’m watching as many games as I can, rooting for England, and having a blast watching soccer documentaries in between games to learn more about the sport. My fiancé is a big fan, so it’s been fun to get into it with him. =)

I’m also getting married in the fall, so wedding planning has definitely been ramping up as we finalize a lot of the last details. It’s been a fun ride, but also incredibly time consuming. Seriously, planning a wedding on your own is like being a project manager. Lots of e-mails, deadlines, meetings, and contracts. To keep track of everything, I have a bunch of budget spreadsheets, day planner schedules, notes for things like color schemes and my wedding vows… It’s fun, just a big energy investment.

That’s why I haven’t been blogging as often as I used to. There was a time when I had a schedule of at least three posts per week, but now I’m lucky to get in one or two per month. That’s probably how it will be for the rest of this year. But I love blogging and will always do it on some level. It’s a huge stress reliever for me, as a diversion and a source of joy.

You know when you have a really hectic week and you’re so busy taking action that you don’t have time to reflect on your life or who you are? For me, blogging is a way to be in the moment, savoring time to myself and celebrating my interests which make me who I am.

That’s a long-winded way of saying sorry I haven’t been around here as much, but I’m not going anywhere. =)

So, here’s what I’ve been up to lately. I’d love to hear what you all have been doing lately too!

Reading

I finally finished the novel Kushiel’s Dart this month. It’s a beautiful fantasy novel by Jacqueline Carey, but my feelings about it are mixed. As much as I loved the world that she created, the book gets really long-winded about halfway through. What starts out as a character story becomes a political one, and I had trouble keeping track of all of the different names and alliances going on. I only really cared about the protagonist, Phedre, and her circle of friends, allies, and enemies. For that reason, when the politics take over in the second half of the story, I lost interest. I made myself finish the book, but even the romance is lackluster for me because Phedre spends so much time in love with or sleeping with other people beforehand. I’d still recommend the book just for the world-building, but I don’t plan to continue reading the rest of the series.

grace kelly wedding dress.jpg
Grace Kelly’s bridal look

I also listened to an audiobook called Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. It was inspired by the royal wedding last month, and seeing pictures of Grace Kelly’s wedding dress which was gorgeous. And with all the wedding planning, I guess I just thought it would be fun to read about a real-life romance and wedding. The book details some of the struggles Grace faced in her acting career and marriage, but is overall pretty light and fluffy. A lot of the reviews liken it to a really long Vanity Fair article, which seems just right.

Now I’m listening to the audiobook of the second Outlander novel by Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber. I just finished watching the Starz series and re-reading the first book, so I’m excited to get into this one, which follows Claire and Jamie after they move from Scotland to France. If you haven’t read the books or watched the show, it’s part historical fiction, a little bit of magic, and a lot of steamy romance. If any of those appeal to you, check it out. I’d recommend the show for most people, just because it’s the cleanest telling of the story. But Gabaldon’s novels are so beautifully-written, I love sinking into them. The only challenge is that they are extremely long. The audiobooks, narrated with perfect enthusiasm by Davina Porter, are over 30 hours long — so to really enjoy them, you have to let yourself lose track of time and savor the details. I think it’s actually therapeutic for me!

Writing

It’s another NaNoWriMo for me! If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll probably know that I’m obsessed with National Novel Writing Month, which is when you are prompted to write a 50,000 word book all during the month of November. But the organization also offers writing “camps” in April and July, when you make your own writing goal. Sometimes I make a goal of writing every single day of the month, even if only for five minutes. This time, I want to write two chapters of my book per week — eight chapters total. For me, that will be great progress and get me deep into the novel so I can finish it this year.

Gaming

I’ve been all over the place with my games lately, but I finished Detroit: Become Human last month and have now jumped into another narrative-driven game, Vampyr. It’s the latest release by Dontnod, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite developers.

Years ago Dontnod released a fun beat-em-up game called Remember Me, which had amazing puzzles involving rewinding other characters’ memories and changing small details to affect what happened. For instance, if you wanted to recruit someone to your cause, you might rewind one of their memories and make one of their loved ones pass away; even though it didn’t really happen, the character would then “remember” that death and side with your cause out of revenge, as just one example. With their episodic series Life is Strange, they took that memory-remixing to the next level and based the entire game around that type of puzzle, instead of the combat. It worked really well, and let them focus more on storytelling which is where they really shine.

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A Victorian vampire

Vampyr seems to be drawing on those strengths. Set in Victorian London, you play a doctor who has just become a vampire and is trying to figure out who made him this way, and why. He’s struggling to come to terms with his new thirst — especially since his career is devoted to saving lives, not taking them. I thought the game would be more combat-focused, but so far it’s very much a narrative game where you spend a lot of time interrogating people for clues, following blood trails through the streets of London, and deciding whether or not to take someone’s life when you drain their blood. I’m still in the early hours, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What’s everybody else reading and playing this month? I’d love to catch up in the comments. =)

— Ashley

What’s New — April 2018

Happy April, everybody!

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you will know that I have been pretty obsessed with Monster Hunter: World lately. I also read and watched Annihilation, which was incredible. The new Tomb Raider movie won me over too, mostly because of how amazing Alicia Vikander is in the role. Since I also read the novel Borne (by the author of Annihilation), have watched most of the new Jessica Jones series on Netflix, and finished watching the first season of the new Star Trek series — I had a busy month. I feel so accomplished, just with how much entertainment and storytelling I managed to absorb!

This month I want to re-focus on my goals for the year. The two biggest are creative writing and being healthy.

Since April has a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge, I’ve decided to make a personal writing challenge: to write every day this month, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. These NaNoWriMo months are always great at getting me back in the habit of writing, and I can’t wait to make real progress on my novel in the coming weeks!

At the end of the month, I’ll be running in a 10K, my first run of the year. I am only just getting back into running after almost a year off, but I managed to run 4 miles this past weekend — so I know I can push myself to reach the full 6.2 miles by the time of the official run. I’m excited at the prospect of getting back into that kind of shape. Running for me is not always enjoyable, but it’s the hardest workout I know, and that’s why I feel like it’s worthwhile to make it a regular part of my life.

ready_player_one.jpgIn geekier news, I just saw Ready Player One and loved it. Although I’ve heard mixed reviews of the book, I was so enamored with the movie that I want to read the novel now.

While I’m still playing Monster Hunter: World, I am also eager to finish and review the second season of Telltale’s Batman here. It might be my favorite Telltale game so far. Although I loved the investigation aspect of Wolf Among Us and the action-humor of Tales from the Borderlands, so far Batman has managed to play notes from all of its previous series and create something that feels truly well-rounded.

What are you up to this month? I’d love to hear what everybody is watching, reading, and playing in April. :)

— Ashley

What’s New — November 2017

I’m so happy it’s November, guys. November is always a great month for me. For one thing, it’s the beginning of fall — which comes a little late to the Bay Area where I live. It’s also when one of my favorite holidays occurs, since I love reconnecting with family and doing a little cooking for Thanksgiving. It’s also a tradition to start decorating for the holidays this month. And writing like crazy during NaNoWriMo. So, here’s what I’m up to these days…

Over the weekend I started playing Assassin’s Creed Origins. It’s easily my most-anticipated Assassin’s Creed game ever, because of the ancient Egypt setting. I was a huge ancient Egypt nerd when I was a kid. In fact, my mom recently moved to a new house, and in cleaning out and packing up my old bedroom, I found a heap of books on Egyptian history and King Tut. That’s why I couldn’t wait to explore this setting in such an immersive way.

So far, Origins is extremely fun and very pretty. I’ve barely scratched the surface, so it may be way too early to judge, but I feel that the story hasn’t grabbed me in the early hours the way most Assassin’s Creed games do. Fortunately, that’s balanced by the fact that this one is so open-world. Which can be both good and bad, for me. We’ll see how far I make it with this game — for now, I’m enjoying the exploration of this gorgeous place.

star trek discovery romance.jpgI’ve also been watching CBS’s new Star Trek series, Discovery. While the first episodes had me on the fence, I found it entertaining — just not quite Star Trek-y. Fortunately, the series has picked up, and last week’s episode — which involved the return of a very entertaining bad guy, a really cool time-loop, and lessons in getting outside your comfort zone — was the best one yet. It kept me invested and guessing the whole time. The deep-dives into both the main character’s emotional life and time travel were perfectly interwoven, too. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a little romance. If you have to watch just one episode of Star Trek Discovery, make it this one!

Finally, this month is National Novel Writing Month, which I like to jump into every November. It’s just so crazy how fast it creeps up on me every year! I’ll admit I’ve been so busy with personal stuff, wedding stuff, my-mom-moving-to-a-new-house stuff, and Paris Games Week work stuff that I haven’t prepared for NaNoWriMo at all. But I’m excited to participate again all the same, so I guess I’ll just wing it this year and have fun.

What are all of you up to this month? I’m always interested to hear what games you’re playing, shows you’re watching, and anything else big in life. =)

— Ashley

What’s New — June 2017

Hey everybody! I can’t believe summer is already here, and this month the thing I am most looking forward to is E3. While I’m not attending this year, I am eager to see what new games are announced so I can keep on filling my already way-too-full stack of games I need to play. =)

eos outpostRight now, I’m in the process of finishing my playthrough of Mass Effect Andromeda. I’m not sure exactly how far along I am, but I feel like things are starting to crescendo, so the finale must be on the way! While I can’t say I am as hooked on the game as I was on the original Mass Effect trilogy, it’s definitely scratching my itch for sci-fi, and I love the exploration aspect of the game. The characters are great, missions are exciting — the biggest issue I have, I would say, is that it does still rely too much on fetch quests and repetitive side missions, like their other open world game, Dragon Age Inquisition. But I’ll post my thoughts when I’m all done with the game!

DA8KVQHUMAAsJr5I’ve also been really into Injustice 2 lately, although it’s harder for me to get the hang of than Mortal Kombat X was. I tried a bunch of characters until I decided Catwoman was the one for me, but even then, it’s been taking some time to nail her special moves and combos. She doesn’t come as naturally to me as D’Vorah did in Mortal Kombat X. I’ve also enjoyed playing as Poison Ivy, Black Adam, and Robin, and I’m in love with Black Canary’s outfits which makes me want to play as her sometime too. But I have to focus on one character at a time, because getting those combos down is all about muscle memory! I can only learn so much at once. Plus, Catwoman has some pretty kickass moves — she uses a whip, guys — and I love her gear. One of my favorite things about Injustice 2 so far is the ability to play with gear, outfitting your characters the way you want. Different outfits come with different stats, but you can swap gear with something you like the look of more, and use shaders to customize colors. For someone like me who gets way to into character creators, playing dress-up like this is really addicting.

Anyway, other than that I’ve been reading The Witcher books. I just re-read The Last Wish — well, specifically I listened to the audiobook this time — and now I’m moving on to Sword of Destiny (which I totally missed before) and then the first novel in the series, Blood of Elves. You can read my thoughts on The Last Wish here!

uk-orig-the-blade-itselfI also just started reading my first Joe Abercrombie book, The Blade Itself. I know I just started it yesterday, but I’m now five chapters in and falling in love fast. It feels like everything I want in an epic fantasy — amazing world-building, deep characters, hand-to-hand combat action — but with a real sense of humor. It actually reminds me of the tone of The Witcher series, just because it’s both fun and funny, while still tackling some serious fantasy politics and danger. (I mean, one of the main characters is a torturer.)

For other entertainment, I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu and American Gods on Starz.

The first is an adaptation of one of my favorite books, and in the latest episodes it’s been taking some very dark turns, some of which deviate a little bit from the novel. I think everyone should read the book, honestly. The show is excellent too, but I think it would probably help to read the book first, as it’s a pretty stark world to dive into on a screen; somehow reading it feels like a more gentle, if still disturbing, introduction to this world where fertile women are forced into servitude to produce children.

american gods tv show.pngThe latter, American Gods, is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel, which I read recently and only kind of liked. However, the show is amazing. I like it a lot more than the book so far, in part because it visualizes things with much more color and excitement than the novel did. Where the book plodded along, the show creates a distinct energy as you take in the details of the setting, the characters’ expressions, and the beautiful cinematography. The fact that the show doesn’t shy away from the conquests of Bilquis, who devours those she sleeps with, is impressive too. I appreciate the novel’s concept so much, but in execution, it works better as a show for me.

And then there’s my writing. I am getting back into noveling lately. I miss it. I’ve been pretty busy with work and video games the past couple of months, but National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is also awesome enough to organize a couple of months every year dedicated to making your own writing goals. The next one is in July, so I’m going to come up with a goal for it. In the meantime, I’m prepping by getting back into the habit of writing on a daily (or almost daily) basis, and outlining in greater detail so I don’t get stuck when I sit down to stare at a blank page!

What are you all up to this month? Are there any new games or shows you are excited about, and what are you most excited to see from E3?!

Ashley