I was updated my book list, and realized that when I finished Where there’s a Witch the other day I hit my 52 book goal. It seems a little like cheating though, since the last book was one that I read earlier in the year, so I’m not going to count is as officially finished until I read one more book. And I think I might up my personal challenge to 75 books, or something like that. This has been a really fun challenge, and I know I’ve read a lot more in the past year than I have the last four years I’ve been in college. I’m looking forward to next year. Maybe I’ll up the stakes to 104 books in 52 weeks?

Speaking of books, I’ve been keeping up with my writing. I hit a stall point in “High School Never Ends,” so I opened up a novel I was working on last year and haven’t touched in months and cranked out 2,200 words yesterday, which broke 45k and makes it the longest thing I’ve ever written. On hand I’m really proud, but on the other I kind of feel like an underachiever. Still, it’s a step in the right direction so I’m going to celebrate it.

I also broke down and got a FictionPress.com account. If you want to read “Life is a Zoo,” I’ve got the first three chapters posted. You can find my profile at http://www.fictionpress.com/~SinePenn, or search for either my pen name (Sìne Penn) or the title of the story.

Working on Fiction Press reminded me that I have a FanFiction.net account languishing away with an unfinished story, so I logged in and imagine my surprise when I discovered that I have a story with 166 reviews, and even though I haven’t posted a thing in over three years my stories are still averaging 50 hits a week, with my two most popular getting about 20 apiece. One of them has over 11,000 hits and 46 people signed up to receive notices if I update. I’m still startled but so happy–I didn’t think anyone would like my work that much, and I haven’t done any networking or anything on ff.net–haven’t even logged in for about two years. It makes me want to finish that story, just because of how warm and fuzzy the reviews and hits make me feel.

Alice and I have been watching an anime called Saiunkoku Monegatari, which is really fantastic–drama, lots of humor, great characters, and a little bit of romance. I’ll load about six episodes at the school, and then we watch them bundled up under comforters in the evening. By law, we aren’t allowed to turn on the heat yet, and even then only for 8 hours a day, so our apartment gets really cold in the evenings We think one of our neighbors has turned theirs on though, because it’s warm–almost hot–at night.

But anyway, we’re watching this series, which is great. I love the story, the characters, and every night we keep wishing we had more. The only problem, is this:
Manju buns. Well, there are several kinds of steamed buns that pop up in this series, but they’re the most common. And I want some! We both do. So much that we’re braving the awful Italian-Chinese to try a new place and see if it’s edible. I don’t know if they’ll have the buns, but I’d be happy with some garlic chicken, mushrooms, or beef and broccoli (maybe I should learn to cook? Nah). So if anyone knows of an Asian groceries or bakeries (is that a contradiction? Most of the grocery stores in Florence are run by Asians, but the only “ethnic” food they sell is ramen) in the area, let me know. I’ll let you know how our foray into Chinese-Italian cuisine goes.