Build Report: Hogwarts Castle

hogwarts castle dragonSince I acknowledged that I’ll never have room for the largest LEGO set ever, I set my sights slightly smaller — on the second-largest LEGO set ever. I also thought this dream was unattainable, even though it was my number one wish-list item for the 2018 holiday/birthday season.

Even though my birthday is 6 days after Christmas, my husband is well aware that he is not allowed to combine gifts. But I made an exception this year, when he approved my purchase of my dream LEGO set!

Hogwarts Castle (71403) — 6,020 pieces

I built this set between Christmas and New Year’s Day of 2018/2019, and not a moment of it was ever boring. The architectural details and moments from the books were amazing, and I’m obsessed with the stained glass elements. This set came with not one, but FOUR instruction booklets (and a whopping 37 bags of pieces), so I’ll show the build off by sections. Continue reading

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Build Report: LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar 2018

I had so much fun with the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar in 2017 that I had to do it again! Below is a quick summary of all the cool things I added to my collection.

LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar 2018 (75213) — 307 pieces

 

First, the holiday-themed elements!

2018 lswac holiday elements

  • Christmas Moisture Vaporator, A New Hope
  • Rebel Pilot Snowman!

Continue reading

December Wrap-Up & January Goals

Another year, come and gone. As with any year, I’ve had some major successes and minor disappointments. On the writing front, the success was my fourth book published, which means that my series is officially over halfway complete. The fifth book is also in the midst of the publication process. Unfortunately, on the disappointment side, cranking out the sixth book has been like pulling teeth. I’ve missed some goals, but the only thing to do is keep moving forward rather than berating myself for time lost.

Another quiet success is a completed goal that I never advertised publicly. In 2018, I published content on this blog an average of three times a week (M/W/F), with a few weeks at T/Th when scheduling made more sense that way. A lot of that has to do with how much more time I spent reading, allowing book reviews to dominate my posts. According to the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I read 138 titles in 2018 (books, novellas, short stories, and graphic novels). I’m actually so far ahead on my book reviews that I have blog content scheduled through February 2019. I hope to keep this trend going, especially considering the enormity of my physical and electronic to-be-read piles.

Let’s take one final look back, then move on to 2019!

December Wrap-Up

  • I had no excuse not to write 15k to 20k in Steel Justice…but I didn’t, and I still have no excuse. I wrote about 3k instead. Vacation and holidays should be the perfect time to write, but I read and LEGOed and spent time with my family instead.
  • I did, however, complete my 2018 Resolution Project for my other blog, Speculative Chic! I finished up the Wrinkle in Time series by reading and reviewing An Acceptable Time (link below).
  • I also contributed to four group blog posts at Speculative Chic (links below).
  • Between Christmas and my birthday on New Years Eve, I also built my largest LEGO set to date (yes, I know I could have used that time for writing). The full Hogwarts set is stunning, with lots of fun architectural details. My build report will appear here soon.
  • And finally, I had an amazing vacation with my family on a Caribbean cruise. I read 7 books in 7 days, ate a lot of amazing food, took some lovely naps, and enjoyed a splash of warm before coming home to chilly Maryland.

December Book Reviews

December Speculative Chic Contributions

January Goals

  1. Let’s do this! 18k words on Steel Justice, bringing me to 60k words.
  2. Which should be helped by the writer’s retreat I will be attending at Broadkill Resort one weekend.
  3. I also need to do a full copy-edit and clean-up pass of Steel Shadows.
  4. And write a short story to submit to an anthology! (More details on that project forthcoming.)

Through it all, I will continue reading and blogging. What do you have planned for this week, this month, this year? Let’s conquer 2019 together.


And the traditional December round-up for all the new blue police boxes to add to my epic collection! I got lots of awesome Star Wars and Harry Potter gifts (Ravenclaw represent) this year too, but my family and friends know that the TARDIS will always be my first love.

2018 TARDIS

(They also know that I live on coffee, apparently. Handmade mug by Mary K. Cloonan: Frivolous Function and Dysfunction.)

Build Report: BTL-A4 Y-Wing Starfighter

IMG_8739Just because I’m behind schedule with all of my writing projects doesn’t mean I will deprive myself of a reward when I do get something done! To celebrate submitting my fifth novel to my editor, I built this year’s special Star Wars set, the Y-Wing Starfighter. The Y-Wing is not one of my favorite ships from that particular universe, so I didn’t expect to enjoy this build as much as I did.

Between travels and other obligations, this build was spread out over the course of about two weeks. But it started with an epic night of watching Marvel movies, spanned the latest season of the Great British Baking Show, and then most of season 2 of Luke Cage.

Y-Wing Starfighter (75181) — 1,967 pieces

Continue reading

September Wrap-Up & October Goals

Steel Time Jacket.inddHow is it almost the end of the year? What happened? Where have I been?

Writing and reading and traveling, for the most part. Oh yeah, and I published my fourth book. Welcome Steel Empires Book 4: Steel Time to the world!

But now October has already started, so there’s no time to waste!

September Wrap-Up

  • Hey, something I completed! I built an awesome LEGO set to celebrate turning my fifth book in to my editor. The built report will show up here next week.
  • Hey, something I absolutely did not complete! As of the time of this writing, book six is all of eight outlined scenes on the floor of my office. But it has a title — Steel Justice. So, a partial win? Maybe?
  • Book 4, Steel Time, did have awesome blog tour. If you missed any of the stops, you can find the full round-up here.
  • Two conventions were also attended this month, which probably contributes to my current haze of mild exhaustion. You can find my con reports for both events below:

September Book Reviews

September Speculative Chic Contributions

October Goals

  1. Finish the detailed outline of book 6. I have no idea why this book is giving me such a mental block.
  2. Write at least 10k words of book 6. Maybe once I start, it’ll go a lot easier.
  3. No conventions this month, but I’m attending two writing retreats over two weekends. The scheduling was unintentional on my part, but I’m looking forward to handing out with writers. Hopefully some of their productivity and enthusiasm for their projects will rub off on me.
  4. I have one more book to read for my Speculative Chic 2018 Resolution Project, so I’d better add it to the list before 2018 slips away from me completely!

A question for you writers in the audience — what do you do when you’re so intimidated by a project that you’re too terrified to even start it? This isn’t writer’s block, I think. I’d appreciate any advice.

For you non-writers, gentle and not-so-gentle nudges on social media of “You should be writing!” are probably welcome in the coming weeks.

These guys are not helpful:

IMG_8806

August Wrap-Up & September Goals

I didn’t travel anywhere this month, but I still managed to have plenty of adventures! The highlights of the month were definitely the cover reveal for my next book, Steel Time, and buying the very first new car for either of us with my husband, a Tesla Model 3! Other fun things included some home improvement (installing a storage room under the stairs in our house), an epic ropes course through the treetops with my best friend at Adventure Park, and escaping a Nicola Tesla-themed escape room with my husband and friends with 45 seconds to spare.

Oh, and I got some work and reading done, too.

August Wrap-Up

  • Book 5, Steel Shadows, has been submitted to my editor! WOOT!
  • To celebrate, I will be building the Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter LEGO set this weekend while I binge the most recent Marvel movies to prepare for a panel I’m on at a convention next month.
  • Prepping for the launch of Steel Time put my book 6 plans on hold, but I’m looking forward to buckling down on an outline in the next few days (technically, I’m writing this post on Wednesday, even though it’s going up on the blog on Friday).

August Book Reviews

August Speculative Chic Contributions

September Goals

  1. Well, to start, build a LEGO set while I watch Thor Ragnorok, Black Panther, and Avengers Infinity War to prep for that panel. I have such a hard life.
  2. Create a detailed scene-by-scene outline of the as-yet-untitled book 6 and write 5 to 10 thousand words of the first draft.
  3. Prep for a short and sweet blog tour to promote Steel Time. It comes out on September 6! Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?
  4. Attend FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2018! I can’t wait to return to this awesome convention and meet up with friends. This is the convention my husband attends with me (happy 6th anniversary to us!). I’ll be giving my presentation on the alternate history genre, participating in a few cool panels (including one on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hence the film rewatch), and getting my picture taken with David Tennant!
  5. Later in the month, I’ll also be participating in a more local convention, Capclave 2018 outside of Washington DC. Plans are afoot for a Steel Time launch party, and I’ll be sure to share the info here.

So much to do, so little time! I could use my very own time machine right about now.

 

Build Report: Hans Christian Andersen

HCAThe first step to admitting you have a problem is to buy more LEGOs. That’s how it works, right? Regardless, I’m officially buying LEGO sets faster than I can build them, but the LEGO sets I buy are expensive enough that they keep coming with awesome freebies to tide me over until my next major goal is met. The current major goal is finishing revisions to book 5 and sending the first draft to my editor. In the meantime, I just completed a major freelance editing job, and this is the result.

Hans Christian Andersen (40291) — 307 pieces

As a writer and reader, this was the perfect set for me!  Continue reading