Thursday, April 27, 2017

Character Encounters April 2017

http://knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com
Hello, everyone! Character Encounters is back! This month, we're meeting our characters under a bridge- which actually is pretty easy, since we have at least two bridges here on campus. And under one of them happened to be a character from my current WIP, Fight Song, . . . well, you'll see which one in a minute.
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I noticed the hammock as I pushed open the second set of SSC doors and emerged into the brilliant sunshine. Now, hammocks are hardly an odd sight on campus. On a day like this, the strange thing would be to not see at least one student happily hammocking. However, two things about this particular hammock caught my attention as I headed towards Tyler for my next class. First of all: the location. For some reason, the owner of the hammock had hung it under the bridge between the HSC and the ENS. This still wasn't unheard-of, even if it was unusual; unless the lake was especially high, that bridge only crossed a concrete slab. Anyone could walk on it and set up a hammock if they wanted to. 

The second unusual thing about the hammock, I didn't realize until  I had almost reached the bridge. At that point, the person occupying the hammock poked her head out, grinned, and called out, "Oh, hello!" Even that wasn't particularly unusual, though- except for the identity of the person. 

"Uhjin!" I immediately scrambled down the grassy bank towards the edge of Cedar Lake. "What are you doing here?"

Uhjin pushed her black curls away from her face. "I'm enjoying myself. You don't need me for another six chapters at least, since Callie and Jonathan are doing all the work right now, and it's a beautiful day; I might as well make the most of it. Join me? There's room for a second hammock down here."

"Sorry, no. I have a class in . . ." I checked my phone. "Half an hour. Also, I don't have a hammock."

"You're an author." Uhjin twisted so she lay on her stomach, which set the hammock rocking so much I thought she'd fall out. "Can't you just poof one into existence?"

"Sorry, reality-warping abilities only apply in storyworlds." I hooked my fingers around my backpack straps. "So why are you under the bridge?" 

"Because I wanted to be, of course. It's something different." Uhjin looked out at the lake. "This is nice. We should get one at Foundry City College."

"Good luck with that." I laughed. "You're in the middle of a city, not a cornfield like here-- which I think is why you went in the first place- and I don't see the college trustees or whoever runs the place putting in an artificial lake."

"You could put in a lake." Uhjin gave me a sweet smile, the same one that convinced Callie to set aside work and practice in favor of campus on more than one occasion and won Uhjin all her many boyfriends to date. "You're the author."

However effective Uhjin's smile might be, I have enough experience with my younger sister to not be swayed. "Nice try, but no."

"Oh well." Uhjin slid back into her hammock so she was basically hidden. "Worth a try."

"No, it really wasn't." I checked my phone again. "I need to get going. Will you be here later?"

"Probably." Uhjin sat back up to wave. "See you around."

I headed back up to the sidewalk. "See you- if not here, then in the story." 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Secondhand Fandom Syndrome

Hello, everyone. My name is Sarah. And I have Secondhand Fandom Syndrome.

Secondhand Fandom Syndrome (SFS), simply put, is a curious phenomenon in which someone who has never read or watched the focus of a particular fandom nevertheless displays signs of being in that fandom. Sometimes it's a mild condition; sometimes it's so extreme that the person is actually mistaken for a fandom member. And today, bouncing off Top Ten Tuesdays' fandom theme for this week, I'm going to detail five symptoms to help you recognize Secondhand Fandom Syndrome in yourself or your loved ones.

Friday 5s: Secondhand Fandom Syndrome Symptoms

  1. A significant number of the person's friends are in that particular fandom. This is both cause and symptom of SFS. One develops Secondhand Fandom Syndrome through constant exposure to a particular fandom. Then, once one becomes a Secondhand Fan, one tends to seek out true fans of the series (or other Secondhand Fans) as friends, which intensifies the syndrome, creating a cycle. The only ways to break this cycle? If the Secondhand Fan looses interest in the fandom or if they officially become a part of that fandom by reading the book, watching the movie or TV show, or playing the game.
  2. The person easily recognizes even not-immediately-obvious references to the fandom. There is an important distinction here. If someone knows that a Weeping Angel is from Doctor Who or that "girl on fire" means Hunger Games, that just means they have some awareness of popular/geek culture. On the other hand, if the person gets why someone else has tally marks on their arm (and denies knowledge of why the marks are there) or if they know why a dam snack bar is hilarious . . . they're probably a Secondhand Fan (if not a full-on fan). 
  3. The person attempts to make references to the fandom. This might be to appeal to their fandom friends, or to make other people think that they themselves are legitimately in the fandom. Unfortunately, these references tend to fall flat because the person making them doesn't quite understand everything behind the reference. And even if the reference was done well, others still might not get it, since they don't associate that person with the fandom in question. Such is the unfortunate plight of the overly enthusiastic Secondhand Fan.
  4. The person reads, and may actively seek out, fanfiction or fanart for the fandom of which they're a Secondhand Fan. Like the friends in the fandom, this may be both cause and symptom, particularly in the case of fanfiction. The person encounters a piece of fanfiction and reads it, possibly without realizing that it is fanfiction. They enjoy it, so when they see another piece, they read that as well. Often, they may read the fanfics simply because the stories are written by friends whose writing styles they enjoy. Eventually, the person will become a Secondhand Fan, which means they will be even more likely to enjoy fanfiction and fanart for the series. (On a sidenote: this is super effective; it's basically what got me into the PJO fandom, and why I'm a Secondhand Fan of HP.)
  5. The person actively ships or otherwise has strong feelings regarding particular characters in that fandom. This represents a very extreme form of SFS. In most cases, although the Secondhand Fan enjoys the fandom, they do not have strong feelings about it. If one's SFS progresses to this stage, one should probably just join the fandom already if at all possible; it'll be easier all 'round.
The question, of course, remains: why do those with Secondhand Fandom Syndrome stay Secondhand Fans instead of fully joining the fandom? Well, parental permissions may be a factor, but the most common reason is that we all only have so much time to read, watch, and otherwise engage with the fandom, and that means that sometimes, the series or show will just have to wait.

Are you a Secondhand Fan? If so, of what fandoms? Do you know of any symptoms I missed? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)     

Friday, March 31, 2017

March 2017 Doings!

Hey'a, everyone! How's everyone doing? For me, March on the whole was pretty busy. However, it was also pretty awesome for a variety of reasons, not least of which was that I got to go home! But more on that later; let's start with the writing, as usual.

Writing!

  • Overall, I had a pretty decent writing and editing month: roughly 4.4K words edited and 1.6K words written. I'd hoped for more, what with spring break, but I'm still pretty satisfied.
  • Also, I'd forgotten how much work writing a fight scene can be . . . also how much research it can take, because I'm pretty sure I spent half the time googling some variation on "What happens if you're stabbed in X location?" or "Will a sword pierce chain maille?" (For those curious: the answer to the latter question is no. Chain maille is actually pretty effective, as long as it's well-made. Also, for cosplaying purposes, you can make chain maille out of soda can tabs. Just throwing that out there.)
  • All that was for editing. Writing-wise, most of the 1.6K was in an attempted short story inspired by psych class and Pinterest, which kind of fizzled out after the first scene- oh well. Next month will be better, hopefully.
  • One exciting thing: I fulfilled a writer stereotype by writing at a coffeeshop for the first time ever! My roommate and I have been thinking of spending a morning in town- hanging out for an hour or so at one of the little coffeeshops, stopping at the thrift store (in search of costume pieces for me and random stuff for her), and getting treats at the bakery- for a while, and we finally managed to do it last weekend. I was productive, which made me happy, and the coffeeshop we chose had an old-time feel to it that was super inspiring. We're definitely going to do this more often.

Reading!

  • Wait, I only read five books last month? I could've sworn-
  • Oh, WAIT. One of them was a Wheel of Time book. That explains everything.
  • Backing up: I quite enjoyed East, which I finished a few days into the month. I feel like the ending could've been better; though all the plot threads tied up nicely, it felt . . . I don't know. Mildly distant. Otherwise, I very much enjoyed it. And it made me want to work on Monster in the Castle again, but that certainly wasn't happening . . .
  • Then I returned to The Fires of Heaven, which lasted me all of spring break. Overall, my thoughts on it were roughly the same as my thoughts on almost every other Wheel of Time book: a bit of a slow beginning (made worse by the fact that I didn't remember who half the names belonged to), a middle that alternated between interesting and aggravating (depending how stubborn the characters were being), several false climaxes, and a real climax and ending featuring much impressive magic-slinging and plot twisting. (One of the plot twists- regarding the death of a Certain Character who I expected to live to the end of the series- did leave me rather in shock for a while, and I'm still hovering on the edge of "We didn't see a body!" denial.) Oh, and also as usual, Mat was awesome and probably one of the best parts of the book. Can we have a whole book of just Mat and Lan and Nynaeve with occasional scenes of Rand being dramatic and the Aes Sedai scheming rather than the other way 'round?
  • Then I got back to the college and reading time went out the window for a while except for research. The next two books on my list- Toxic Charity and Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life were both for a speech on the impoverished in America. They were fairly interesting. Not amazing, but interesting and eye-opening.
  • And, finishing out the month, we have a reread of the Echoes from the Edge! I finished Beyond the Reflection's Edge on Monday, and currently I'm working on Eternity's Edge, which I think was my least favorite in the trilogy. I'm not entirely sure why. Overall, I'm enjoying the books, though not as much as I did the first time I read them. It's very clear that these were written early in Mr. Davis's career, given how heavy-handed certain themes come off. Once I finish the series, I'm going to buy the rewritten version and see how the two compare.

Watching!

  • Over spring break, I finally watched the first Back to the Future after discovering that my mom and sister had watched them without me in February-ish. Obviously I can't let my sister watch such an iconic movie and not experience it myself, so we got the whole trilogy out from the library and a few days into break, my sister and I settled in to enjoy the first one. I enjoyed it, though it was different than I expected- it's one of the movies that I've heard a ton about, and I knew most of the major plot twists before I watched it, but I didn't know how those twists were going to happen. I had hoped to watch the other two on break as well, but I didn't have time.
  • However, my family also watched (or, in my case, re-watched) the first two Night at the Museum movies. I'd forgotten how funny they are- and the second one is especially fun, since I'm pretty familiar with D.C. and the Smithsonian museums. Also, Kahmunrah is a pretty fabulous villain. Just saying.
  • In other news: still working on Merlin. My roommate and I finally finished Season Two, and we're one episode into Season Three. Hopefully we'll get to watch more this weekend, because the last episode ended in a cliffhanger. I'm still upset over "The Last Dragonlord," though. Why can't Merlin be happy for once? Why does he have to keep losing people? It's not fair.
  • (Also, thing I'm mildly confused about- what's the proper way to signify an episode name? Does it go in quotation marks like a short story? Or should it go in italics? Anyone know?)

Musings!

  • I am continually bewildered by the differences between who I am, how I see myself, and how others see me. One friend who knows me only online expresses surprise that I'm far more quiet in appearance than I am in online personality. Another friend, an offline one this time, says "You don't seem like the type to romanticize," and I think "Oh, if you could just see inside my head, you'd never say that, not in a million years!" It's just strange how even people with whom you know you're genuine can have such different views of you, and it makes me wonder how the way I see people differs from how they see themselves.
  • How much difference would changing history really make? One thinks that it would make all the difference. Yet for many of us, unless you prevented some development, not some event, everyday life would still probably look about the same.

Life!

  • Spring break! I got to go home! I hadn't been home since January, y'all. Getting to go back for a week was absolutely awesome.
  • Besides the movie-watching that I already mentioned, I worked ahead a bit in schoolwork, did some editing and writing, a bit of crafting, went to youth group, and generally had a lovely time. (Except for the afternoon I spent trying to do taxes- well, doing them wasn't that hard, but submitting them went rather less well. But otherwise it was good.)
  • Then I had to come back and immediately started low-key panicking because oh my goodness our advocacy speech is in two weeks roommate we need to get WORKING! That's more or less what I said too; my roomie will confirm. We did get in done in time, though, gave it a week ago, and did really well!
  • The week of the speech, basically all my free time was spent following Kendra E. Ardnek's Indie e-Con. For those of you who weren't aware of its existence: Indie e-Con was a virtual gathering of indie authors featuring posts on writing, marketing, editing, and other aspects of writing and publishing; games; Q&A posts; critique opportunities; and more. It was fun, though kind of overwhelming. If you're disappointed you missed it, you can still go back and read the posts. Plus, there's going to be another e-Con next year, and you can join the mailing list to get more information!
  • More or less as soon as I finished researching the speech (though not before we gave the speech), I launched into my next major class project: research for a Cultural Anthropology paper (which I'm writing about the culture of New Zealand). At this point, I'm basically done with that, after spending part of almost every afternoon in the library for two weeks. I just have to wait for the interview responses to come in (yay for having friends in the country!) and then actually write the thing. 
  • As I mentioned earlier, my roommate and I went in town last Saturday, which was super fun. It was also a nice break after a pretty stressful week, since I got to do basically nothing school-related all morning.
  • Oh, and I'm officially registered for classes, so huzzah for that. I'm going to be taking mostly major classes next semester, which I'm pretty excited for- so far, I've only had one major class, and that one's online only, so it hardly counts.

April Plans!

  • I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo! No, I'm not crazy; as soon as I get the anthropology paper written, I'll be done with just about everything major except finals. And I'm only going for about 10K, and I'm editing, so it should be all good. Right?
  • Also, if anyone wants to join my cabin, let me know. I've still got room, thanks to NaNo increasing the cabin size. (We've got about ten people at the moment, mostly female, all Christian speculative fiction writers at the moment. If that matters.) I'd love to have you; the more the merrier!
  • Most of April should be pretty chill, or as chill as a Camp NaNo month can be, anyway. Looking at my calendar, the first half of April has next to nothing on it. I'm hoping to get as much done on writing and such as I can during that time, since things will get busier after Easter break.
  • For those curious: I'm not going home for Easter. NY is waaaaay too far away to make the drive just for a weekend.
  • After Easter, I suspect that finals prep will start up. Also, there'll be end of year celebrations . . . which make me a bit nervous, honestly. I mean, I enjoy a social event now and then? And I know that one will be really small and the other will be larger, but still cool. But both of them are formal things? And I'm not really used to formal? And I'm mildly freaking out even though I'm excited? So yeah, that's happening.
  • The roommate and I need to watch Merlin. Specifically, we need to be done with at least the season by the end of the month. We'll probably have time over Easter break, though . . . fingers crossed that it works out!
  • I feel like there's something else happening in April, but I have no idea what it is. Hopefully I remember sometime soon. Oh well.
How's your March been? Do you have any exciting plans for April? Or even unexciting ones? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)     

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Character Encounters March 2017: Indie e-Con

Hey'a, everyone! First things first: I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo next month (yes, I'm slightly crazy; I should have most of my big projects done by then, though . . .) and I'm looking for cabin mates. So if anyone here is doing it as well, or thinking of doing it, and you need a cabin, let me know! So far, we only have five members, so there's plenty of room!

Second off, some of you may know that Kendra E. Ardnek has, this past week, hosted a virtual convention called Indie e-Con, where over a dozen indie authors came together to share advice on different aspects of writing and publishing, critique writing, answer questions, play games, and generally have a grand old time. It's been pretty awesome. Hard to keep up with, since I've had an exhausting week preparing for a speech and trying to figure out next semester's schedule and starting research for a paper and all that, but still awesome. And as part of the e-Con, Kendra's revived Character Encounters! This month, we're meeting our characters at- where else?- Indie e-Con, only we're pretending that we've got a big convention center in Dallas so we can actually, y'know, meet them. Anyway, enjoy!


The hubbub of excited voices, cheerful conversation, and dramatic book quotes flows around me as I push my way through the crowd of authors, readers, and costumed fans. I weave my way around a trio of girls dressed- very convincingly- like Petra, Sarah, and Amber and wave to C.B. Cook, who's currently at her booth. Actually getting to meet her in person might've been the best part of this convention so far. Not only is she a fabulous author, but she's a good friend.

But as amazing as the convention is, I'm exhausted from trying to take in everything and still keep up with my classwork- deadlines wait for no man, after all- and overheating, since even March in Texas is far hotter than it is at college. So I soon collapse onto a bench in a less-crowded hallway off the main convention area. I can hear voices from down the hallway, and it sounds like someone's started playing Celtic music over the loudspeaker, but despite these things, it's peaceful. I lean back and shut my eyes. All I need now is a cool breeze and I'd be set . . .

A voice- male, edged with teasing sarcasm- interrupts my solitude. "What's this, Taleweaver? I thought you didn't nap."
"What the-" My eyes shoot open and I stare at the person in front of me. He's tall and wiry, with dark, somewhat shaggy hair and a faint smile that suggests he sees all the absurdity of life and finds it quite amusing. He's also in medieval-ish garb: dark green doublet with a lighter green tunic underneath, a brown cloak, and a belt with a long, narrow sword hanging from it. Quite honestly, he looks like a character from my imagination come to life, and ordinarily I'd complement him on his realistic costume. Only problem: there's no way in the nine worlds that anyone would cosplay as this particular character. After all, he's from my books- one that isn't even out of the first edit, let alone published! 

"I don't nap," I finally say, unable to come up with something more intelligent. "And I wasn't napping. I was thinking. Who are- Are you-"

"Jarek Gilleth, at your service." Jarek raises an eyebrow. "I thought you'd done this before, Taleweaver."  

"Yeah, but not in ages." I sit up straight. "How are you even here? There are no portals leading directly from Aralan to this Earth, or from that version of Earth to this one!"

"Not quite sure about that yet." Jarek's tone only hints at his displeasure with this fact. "A couple of the characters of the girl running this place managed it- Laura, and one of the ones who looks like the author-in-charge. I'm going to corner her later and find out, though." 

Whether "her" refers to Laura, Amber- it has to be Amber; and now thinking back to the trio I saw earlier, I can't help but wonder- or Kendra, I'm not certain. And Jarek doesn't give me time to figure it out, instead grabbing my arm and pulling me to my feet. "But right now, the kitten's going to turn shadow and kill me if I don't find you and bring you back so the two of you can have a chat and then probably wander around being strange together. Come on. There'll be pie involved."

"You could've just asked." I pull my arm free and follow him as he leads the way back into the crowd. "I would've come. Even if you didn't bribe me with pie." Now that I'm looking, I think I spot other people whose costumes seem too realistic to be just costumes- there's Reuben, or possibly Robert, conferring with one of his brothers, and I'm fairly certain that the girl in the green dress over there is Caitlyn from Blood Ties

I realize I've slowed in order to try to spot book characters when Jarek calls back to me, "Are you coming, Taleweaver, or do I have to come back and drag you again?"

"I'm coming!" I speed up my steps with a grin. Awesome as Indie e-Con already was, it just got a whole lot better.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Random Fridays: Spring 2017 Reads

http://bookworm716.blogspot.com/
Hello, everyone! The weather outside is still frightful, but today we're turning our thoughts to things delightful- spring 2017 reads! I was originally going to save this topic for next week, when spring will be a little closer. But, when I noticed that Emma's doing it for Random Fridays over at Awkwordly Emma this week, I decided to join in!

Spring 2017 Reads

1. Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull (March 14)
 So, I prefer Bradon Mull's Beyonders series to the Fablehaven stories . . . but that doesn't keep me from being excited for Dragonwatch! The series ended on a pretty epic note, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next. Even without the added excitement of restless dragons, the last book left plenty of potential for more adventures.

2. Hunted by Meagan Spooner (March 14)
I'm not quite sure what to expect from this one. On one hand, I'm always up for another Beauty and the Beast retelling, and Hunted sounds like an interesting twist on the classic tale. On the other hand, I'm a bit worried that the main character will end up being another in the long line of highly unfeminine female protagonists. We'll just have to see what happens.

3. Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller (March 21)
The primary reason this is on my TBR list? It's advertised as "Firefly meets Dune," and while I haven't read Dune, I know I love Firefly and anything like it has a strong chance of being awesome. That aside, I don't read a lot of sci-fi, so this'll add some variety to my usual lineup. And the blurb claims political intrigue as well as Firefly-ness, so that's always fun. Hopefully it'll live up to my expectations.
4. Exiles by Jaye L. Knight (May 2017)
I don't know if this'll actually come out in May, especially since there's no specific date listed. However, I am excited for Exiles, especially since Samara's Peril was so amazing. And it's supposed to focus more on Daniel, who happens to be one of my favorite characters, so huzzah! Perhaps I'll actually read this one when it comes out instead of waiting until winter . . . time will tell!
5. Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner (May 16)
I've discussed this one already, back in my End-of-Year Book Freakout, but to recap: more Eugenides! more Eugenides! more Eugenides! I'm not sure how I feel about the apparent focus on the Medes instead of more familiar characters, but, hey, I know it'll be awesome. I just don't know what kind of awesome yet.

What new releases are you looking forward to this spring? Please tell me in the comments! 
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)    
 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Doings: Surprisingly Not-Blah!

So remember how I said last month that February is the most boring month of the year? Well, that may still be true . . . but this last month has actually been pretty interesting, at least for me! It's also been an odd mix of busy and really chill, so that helps. Anyway, let's get on with what made it so interesting.

Writing!

  • So whatever made February interesting, it definitely wasn't writing, because I only wrote 554 words this month, and all of them were for one of the GTW writing prompts. It was still fun, and I really didn't expect to get any actual writing done this month anyway, but yeah. Also, while I'm actually rather pleased with what I came up with for the prompt (which was to have one of your characters meet his or her future self), I'm probably not posting it here. 
  • I did a bit better on editing, getting in about 1,661 words. Admittedly, most of that was re-editing new scenes that I wrote last month, but oh well. Better than nothing. Also, the number is lovely and symmetrical, which makes me happy.
  • I did figure out the problem I mentioned last month, I think, thanks to a lecture on the music of the Romantic period. (Fun fact: Franz Liszt was a total drama king who associated himself with the Faust legend- as in, he played up the idea that he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for insane musical skill- and on top of that, he was an egotistic playboy to rival Tony Stark. I will leave you to wonder how, if at all, this possibly relates to a medieval-esque fantasy story.) The solution to the problem will involve a fairly extensive rewrite of that subplot . . . but it should make for more conflict in that subplot, while taking out the character altogether would mean less, aside from random encounters, and would require just as much work, if not more.
  • Also, editing on Fight Song is currently not in progress, but I hope to make it in progress soon, and I'll start posting the story as soon as I have a few chapters done- that way I have a bit of a buffer, but not so much that I can't adapt to any feedback I get.

Reading!

  • So I totally thought that I read a lot this past month . . . but actually I read next to nothing and just took a long time to do it. 
  • I finally satisfied my Discworld kick, but not before I'd finished The Truth (a good story, but one that put me very much in the mood for Moist von Lipwig), a reread of Making Money (to satisfy the desire for Moist von Lipwig), and Hogfather (which I'd intended to read around Christmas, but which I couldn't get from Overdrive until this month). By that time, much as I love Discworld, I was ready for something new.
  • "Something new," as it turned out, was The Fires of Heaven, the fifth Wheel of Time novel. Yes, this is the same series as that one book that took me a month to finish. I don't think The Fires of Heaven will take quite that long . . . but it's hard to say, because I've currently paused reading it. Why? Well . . .
  • I got a blind date! With a book. Not a person. A love life is a thing that happens to other people right now, thank you, unless you count getting crushes on fictional characters. And in any case, I'm generally opposed to blind dates with people on principle, but with books? Sounds like fun! So, after perusing the tables full of "masked" books, I picked up one that advertised itself as "fantasy" and "Greek mythology" and found myself reading . . . Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Which is not something I ever planned on reading, but that's rather the point of a blind date with a book. Overall, it wasn't bad, but it's not one I would recommend either. 
  • That said, I got to pick up another blind date book (at this point I'm probably either addicted or just aggressively procrastinating on The Fires of Heaven), and this one is more promising: East by Edith Pattou, a retelling of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." At the time of writing this post, I'm not quite done with it, but I'm really enjoying it. (By the time you read this, however, I'll probably be done with it, so feel free to ask what I thought.) Unfortunately, it's making me want to work on editing Monster in the Castle, but other things are higher priority and I don't even have the notebooks . . . ugh. Writer problems.
  • Oh, and towards the beginning of the month, I read Blood Ties, which was pretty fun. It wasn't quite what I'd expected (for one thing, I thought it would be funnier), but I enjoyed it on the whole. It's urban fantasy, which I'm always hungry for more of- and it includes a berserker who happens to knit as a hobby, so that's awesome.

  Watching!

  • Same old same old: still watching Merlin. Still on Season Two. Still facepalming over certain characters' bad life choices.
  • Seriously, though, I really want to write an AU fanfic in which Merlin tells Morgana that he has magic too and then she doesn't end up turning villain and they team up to take on the actual villains who inevitably threaten Camelot every other week (or so it seems, which would be great except for the fact that neither of them is much good at telling each other anything about what they're going to be doing- but somehow, they don't kill each other and the villain gets found, so it works. And everyone things that Merlin is developing a thing for Morgana and vice-versa, even though he's really not (well, maybe before a certain point, but not after), but they let people think that because it's a good cover for what's actually going on. And yeah. Everything would be awesome. Except Uther would still exist, but oh well.
  • Back to the actual show, not my fantasy of the fantasy- I would be almost done with the season by now, actually, but my roommate went home for one weekend, and we were both pretty busy the weekend before. So that made two weekends where we didn't watch anything, which is sad. We are hoping to get one more episode in before spring break, though, particularly since the next episode introduces one of my roommate's favorite characters.

Life!

  • This month, for me, basically centered around three big events: The Music Man, my speech, and the Ark Encounter. I already posted about The Music Man, so I won't go into that more- but it was pretty great.
  • My speech also went well, thankfully. As I think I mentioned last month, it was on character archetypes, specifically character archetypes in popular media, which meant I got to talk about LOTR and Marvel and Star Wars and a few animated films in the process of explaining the different archetypes. And I didn't freak out or forget what I was supposed to say, so that was good.
  • Oh, and after I did my speech, I ended up going to the Career Fair, which was . . . overwhelming. I'm glad I wasn't actually looking for a job, because I think I would've died. I did manage to talk to a whole two companies, though, so that's something. And then I went back to my room and called my mom and ate a sea-salt caramel truffle. And had a brownie sundae for dessert after dinner. (Chocolate: the ultimate reward/nerve-calmer!)
  • Anyway. Third major event: the Ark Encounter! I've wanted to visit both the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum basically since I found out they existed. I still haven't managed the museum, but one of the orgs I'm in put together a trip to the Ark . . . which only three people total ended up wanting to go on, because they scheduled it right after the planning session for our major essay of the semester. But I put off schoolwork for the day to go, and I really enjoyed it! They did a great job showing what life on the ark might've been like, what animals were on the ark (differentiating between species and kinds), evidence for creation and the flood and such . . . Basically, the whole thing was awesome. Expensive, yes, but awesome. If you're in the area, I highly recommend stopping by.
  • Other events: I got to see my aunt and her family the weekend before the Ark Encounter, which was a lot of fun. She also took me out to lunch, which made it better- don't get me wrong; my college has pretty good food for a cafeteria, but Sunday lunch, they don't even try. It's terrible. But that Sunday I got to eat good food (specifically, a falafel pita) with family (rather than eating alone), so yeah. That was great.
  • Also, one of the guys from the other section of the honors class put together a trivia bowl thing that meets every Friday. Essentially, people show up, they somehow split into teams, and they answer trivia questions. It's super fun; I've been three times so far, and . . . well, I don't do super great, but I have answered some questions. Fewer than I've gotten credit for, since bonus questions don't count towards your personal score. But I've really enjoyed it and I'm going to keep doing it the rest of the semester.

March Plans!

  • Spring break! Spring break! Spring break! I get to see my family again! And be at home! And not go to class! And hopefully work on editing a bunch of stuff! And it's going to be awesome! And it's almost here!
  • If you can't tell, I might be a tiny bit excited about break. You probably couldn't tell. 
  • Other than that . . .  business as usual, pretty much. Classes, papers, speeches, tests . . .  I think I have to do an advocacy presentation sometime in March for speech, but that might be happening early April. And I have a big paper for Cultural Anthropology that I need to start research for. I'm probably going to do that over break(!!!), if all goes well.  
  • And my roommate and I need to pick up the pace on Merlin . . . I want to be done with season two and a good bit into season three by the end of the month so that we'll have half a shot of finishing it before the end of the school year.
  • As I said earlier, I'm going to work on editing stuff, hopefully. I want to get another several chapters of Destinies and Decisions done, plus I want to start on Fight Song and get through a few chapters of that. We'll see which one takes priority over break(!!!).
  • And I'm probably going to have to figure out next fall's classes . . . I already have a pretty good idea of what I'm doing, so it's just a matter of figuring out how to make everything line up. Shouldn't be too hard.
  • Oh, and Gillian Bronte Adams is running a birthday blog tour for Songkeeper, which'll last all this month and into April and it's going to be pretty cool and I'll definitely be following that. (There's a giveaway involved. And a mug. And I'm hoping for sneak peeks of the last book. We'll see what happens.) 
 How's your February been? Boring? Or surprisingly exciting like mine? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Beautiful People February 2017: Couples

Hosted by Paper Fury
Hello! Look what's back! Yes, I know, I haven't done a Beautiful People post in ages- in my defense, I was kind of busy the last few months, plus I didn't really have a project I could do one on. But I loved doing the couples questions last year, and I'm excited to do it again now. I'll be doing it interview-style, as usual, and I'll be focusing on Jared and Bianca. Also, I'm interviewing them as they are at the last edited portion of their story, rather than at the furthest point I've written- if I focused on that time, their answers would be very different indeed.

1. How and why did you meet?
Bianca: Jared was the latest in my brother's line of friends, mentors, and miscellaneous acquaintances whom he invited to dinner in hopes that one of them could talk me into officially joining the Circle like the rest of my family. Like the others, he failed. Unlike the others, he proved somewhat interesting, since he didn't treat me as a recruitment project.

2. What were your first impressions of each other?
Jared: Eh, I thought she was pretty, but an ice princess like no other girl I've met.

Bianca: I- correctly- judged Jared to be a rogue, a scoundrel, and a flirt. Thankfully, he proved to have some redeeming qualities.

3. How would you prove your love for each other?
Jared: . . . *eyes narrow* Define 'prove your love.'

Storm it, Jared. We're not asking for commitment. Just how you show that you care more about Bianca than some random girl off the street.
Jared: Fair enough. I'd say letting her come with me would qualify. I mean, she's pretty and good company, but generally, I travel alone, with no one to question if I know where I'm going.

Bianca: The fact that you also promised to see me safely through Arrain doesn't also indicate any . . . concern?

Jared: The fact that I promised, yes. The content of the promise, no. You're the one who keeps insisting I'm a better person than I admit, princess. And no half-decent fellow would lead city folk into Arrain without making sure they at least got somewhere safe.

Bianca: Interesting. For my part- I would say that my giving Jared the benefit of the doubt as to his character is proof enough of my commitment- and yes, I will say commitment, Jared, don't give me that look. As is the fact that I trust him enough to be led into Arrain.  

4. What would be an ideal date?
Bianca: A nice dinner at one of Port Metre's better restaurants would be pleasant, followed by either a walk along the shore or a concert at Port Metre's opera house. We would end the evening, of course, with a game of chess.

Jared: Some social event, not too formal, with plenty of good drinks and the lady willing to give a few kisses and not ask for more. That said, the last few nights- riding across Arrain with the stars coming out- haven't been unpleasant.

5. Is there something you emphatically disagree on?
Jared: The nature of this relationship, for one thing.

Bianca: Also, the relative merits of the Circle.

Jared: By which she means that she's against it on principle, while I don't care- it's easy money, but I don't like people telling me how to live my life.

Bianca: Essentially, yes. Acceptable levels of risk would be another difference, though Jared's choices seem to have paid off so far.

Jared: Look, princess, part of gambling well is recognizing risks worth taking. I know what I'm doing.

6. List 5 “food quirks” you know about each other. (Ex: how the other one takes their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)
Jared: Food quirks? Who came up with these questions? Anyway, how would I know that?

Bianca: You have eaten with me on multiple occasions.

Jared: And on half those occasions so far, we've been eating trail food or else what I happened to catch because it ran across our path and I was quick enough to throw a knife. So I know you don't like watching me skin a rabbit, but aside from that, I have no clue. And I don't think you do either.

Bianca: Oh? You dislike shrimp- we had them twice when you came to dinner, and you failed to even try them on either occasion. You drink your coffee black, and refer to tea as "leaf-water for people who are too weak to handle coffee." You prefer wine to beer or ale and whiskey to wine. You undersalt rabbit when you cook it- or it seemed to me that you did so the other night. And you apparently have a great appreciation for any pastry including nuts.

Jared: What the-

Bianca: I notice things.

Jared: Obviously . . . Also, don't think I missed your insult, princess. That rabbit was perfectly seasoned and you know it.

7. What’s one thing you know about each other that no one else does?
Bianca: I cannot speak to who else knows or doesn't know this, but Jared has very strong feelings about Arrain and its merits- which surprised me at first, but having seen what he is like in Arrain as opposed to elsewhere, I am unsurprised. One would not expect a region known for its lawlessness to bring out the best in a man, but there you have it.

Jared: I think you're reading too much into everything, princess.

Bianca: Perhaps. Or perhaps that is merely what you wish me to think.

Jared: Think what you want, princess. Doesn't matter to me. Anyway, guess I should answer the question too . . . I know that Bianca's not always as in-control as she'd like people to think. That count?

8. What’s one thing that you keep a secret from each other?
Jared: I feel like this question misses the point of secrets.

That would be the case, except for the fact that I'm going to ensure whoever isn't talking doesn't hear the secret. *snaps fingers* There. Who wants to go first?
Bianca: I suppose I will. Jared said that he knows I am not always as in-control as I wish people to think. He is not wrong . . . but I do not think he knows how genuinely terrified I am, particularly since we entered Arrain. He promised to keep me safe, true- but though I say I trust him, I have heard too many stories to not fear. But I find it better to fear for my physical safety in Arrain than to fear being forced into the Circle as I have ever since Mother died.

Thank you, Bianca. Jared, your turn. 
Jared: *jumps* The lady of logic done already? And she can't hear me? All right then. Things I keep secret from her . . . plenty of stuff. The fact that I didn't leave the Circle altogether- that I'm still working with them to a degree. The fact that I don't have half the "hidden depths" she seems to think I do- though that's less something I'm keeping secret and more something I let herself keep thinking. But the biggest secret . . . eh. Probably the fact that, somewhere along the way, I ended up caring what she thinks.

9. Fascinating. *snaps fingers again* Back to normal- How would your lives be different without each other?
Jared: I wouldn't be in the middle of a mess with the Circle, for one thing. And I'd be off enjoying myself with cards, dice, and a drink in whatever town caught my fancy instead of traveling through Arrain while I escort the lady of logic to Elgea.

Bianca: The fact that I am with you doesn't seem to have stopped you from enjoying cards, dice, or drink, Jared. As for myself- if I had not met Jared, I would still be at home in Port Metre, carrying out the life of a proper, well-educated lady- with continued study of tactics in my free time- rather than gallivanting across the worst possible region of Berstru with a gambler-adventurer.

Jared: And can you tell me you regret it, princess?

Bianca: I regret whatever I did to make you give me that nickname. Other than that . . . no, I don't regret the choice I made. Not in the least.

10. Where do you each see this relationship going?
Jared: To Hoaka. After that, we'll see. The lady of logic can keep following me around if she wants, or she can find someone to take her further north, where the Circle has less influence.

Bianca: I cannot say for sure . . . but I hope that what I have found in Jared here in Arrain will not recede again when we leave the country. If that hope proves true, well, I will hope further that I will indeed be able to continue to travel with him . . . and perhaps do more than that.

Thank you both for your cooperation. I'll let you get back to your journey now- and I'll see you as soon as I get to another of your chapters. Until then, enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts.
Bianca: I'm not so certain I like the sound of that . . .

Jared: Eh. It'll be fine. There's nothing in Arrain I can't handle, princess. Wait and see.

Sure, Jared. We'll wait and see. In the meantime: thanks to everyone reading this for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this interview!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)