Friday, March 15, 2019

Let's Talk About Pie.

So, in case you didn't notice, yesterday was Pi Day. And while I may not be a STEM major, I still enjoy the holiday because it's an excuse to eat pie, which happens to be one of my favorite food types in the world. A well-made pie is on level with a well-made cake . . . and a poorly-made pie is far superior to a poorly-made cake, at least if you ask me. Pie also happens to bear the distinction of being both a dinner food and a dessert food, so you really can't go wrong.

Now, my college, despite being heavily focused on STEM (especially engineering), failed to serve any sort of pie yesterday, which made celebrating very difficult. Technically I could've bought a slice of Reese's peanut butter pie at the Hive, but I forgot that existed until my roommate reminded me long after dinnertime ended. So, in a last-ditch effort to mark the day somehow, I'm writing my weekly post about my favorite types of pie. I mean, I'm writing it on Thursday anyway, so it counts, right?

Let's Talk About Pie.

Let's Talk About Pie.

Pecan pie slice
  1. Pecan pie. This is, hands-down, the best type of pie, at least when it's made right. Yes, it's very sweet, and yes, it is pretty much made of sugar and pecans, but I'd say those are benefits, not bugs. Of course, part of why I like it so much is that I don't get it super often, so when I do, it's like a special treat.
    Chicken pot pie (whole, in dish)
  2. Homemade chicken pot pie. And by that I mean the sort that's actually in a pie crust, not the sort with biscuits on top — I mean, I love the type with biscuits on top, but that's technically a chicken pot cobbler, not a chicken pot pie. It's basically one of the ultimate comfort foods in my book: warm and savory and filling, with the deliciousness of a good homemade pie crust to complement the chicken and veggies . . . yeah. It makes me happy.
    lattice-topped apple pie
  3. Apple pie. Otherwise known as the number one dessert pie that everyone in my family can agree on. But really, you can't go wrong with a good apple pie. I prefer it hot with ice cream, but I'm not opposed to the idea of putting cheese on top — it's like a cinnamony dessert version of a grilled cheese-and-apple sandwich, and we all know how delicious those are.
    Slice of grasshopper pie
  4. Grasshopper pie. For the uninitiated: grasshopper pie is a fluffy mint pie with chocolate chips and oreo pieces in it. Usually, it has a chocolate crumb crust, though sometimes you'll get a graham cracker crust instead. Like most things that involve mint and chocolate, it's delicious — though it's also often so light that you're strongly tempted to eat a second piece. Then again, I'm almost always tempted to eat a second piece of the pie.
  5. Spaghetti pie. Tell me: is this a common thing in anyone else's house? (Not that it's a common thing in my house anymore, but it used to be.) A "crust" of spaghetti and cheese, topped with tomato sauce, ground beef, and more cheese, it's almost like a pie version of lasagna, just with different noodles. (Also, I just had a vague, half-formed idea for a version using eggplant instead of beef that seems really good in theory? I'm going to have to think about it more.) Anyway. It's delicious and I love it. (Also, my family had it for Pi Day, and I'm really sad that I missed it.)
What are your favorite types of pie? Do you celebrate Pi Day? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, March 8, 2019

Five Books Whose Sequels I Need IMMEDIATELY

You know the feeling. You finish an amazing, epic book. You're in love with the characters, the plot, the world, everything. You might even say you want to marry the book, if you're the sort of person who says that kind of thing. You dash to your computer, leave your Goodreads review, and then look for the sequel — only to discover that it isn't out yet. Or, worse still, there's no sequel planned.

It's a tragedy, it is. No two ways about it.

I, like most of you, have experienced that feeling many times. In fact, I'm experiencing it now as I write this blog post. And, obviously, the best way to deal with book-related frustration is to complain on the internet where other people can commisserate with you. So, here we go: five books whose sequels I'm desperate for — but have no chance of getting any time soon.

Books Whose Sequels I Need IMMEDIATELY


Five Books Whose Sequels I Need IMMEDIATELY

The Aeronaut's Windlass Cover
1. The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher. This is the book that set off this post; I've been meaning to read it for absolute years, ever since Jenelle Schmidt recommended it to me. Honestly, I ought to have read it sooner — except then I would still be waiting for the sequel now. The ending practically promises more adventure, and there's no way the characters wouldn't have more even if the ending wrapped everything up with a neat bow and a perfectly satisfying conclusion, but the sequel doesn't even have a release date. This is absolutely unfair and should be remedied immediately. (And while we're at it, maybe a book or two about Captain Grimm before this story begins? Or a short story or two, at least? Captain Grimm is the best.)

Masque Cover 
2. Masque by W.R. Gingell. Yes, I'm still yelling about this one. In this case, Gingell did wrap just about everything up with a neat bow and a satisfying conclusion — but I want more. Specifically, I want an entire spinoff series about Isabella and Lord Pecus solving mysteries and being happily (if adventurously) married and working as a proper team instead of sneaking around each other — except, of course, when one of them decides that the situation is absolutely too dangerous for the other to be involved in, but the other knows better and shows up just in time, and then the first one admits that it was for the best and it's a good thing the other showed up. (I really like that trope, ok?) Anyway. That's all I want — well, that and more about Melchior and Annabel, and Poly and Luck, but that's not so much to ask, is it?

Illusionarium Cover 
3. Illusionarium by Heather Dixon Wallwork. I love Heather Dixon's writing, but she has a habit of writing a story and then not writing sequels to it, or even spinoffs, and so even though you're in love with the characters, the one book is all you get. And that's not so bad when the book is Entwined and it ends with everyone in their happily-ever-after (even though you're fairly certain they could manage a few more adventures), but when the book is Illusionarium and there's no chance whatsoever that the characters didn't find more adventure? Then it's immensely frustrating, especially since there's next to no chance that the author will ever do anything about it.

An Enchantment of Ravens cover 
4. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. How long has it been since I raved about this one? (A fair while, I think — which is somewhat surprising, given how amazing it is.) Anyway. Once again, there is no way whatsoever that Isobelle and Rook don't have further adventures after the story ends. No storming way. And while there are plenty of ways that a sequel could go wrong, I am confident that Rogerson could make it go extremely right. Also, I love this book and this world and these characters and I need more of it, please and thank you very much. I have heard rumors about a sequel . . . but now I can't find where I heard them, and so I might just have imagined them.

The Sky Riders Cover 
5. The Sky Riders by Christopher Hopper. What is it with steampunk novels that don't get sequels? I've been waiting for the second Sky Riders book since 2013 — and, I'll admit, I've pretty much given up hope for a sequel. Now that Hopper's finally writing again, he's working on a sci-fi book that . . . ok, it looks interesting, but it's not a Sky Riders sequel. But this was one of my first introductions to steampunk, and it used to be one of my favorite books, I'd love to see it get some resolution, especially since it ends on a cliffhanger.

What books do you need sequels for immediately (or at least in the very near future)? Please tell me in the comments! Also, have you read The Aeronaut's Windlass, and if so, who's your favorite character? Thoughts on the book in general?
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, March 1, 2019

February 2019 Doings!

Ok, all the stuff I said about February being a horrible month? I was wrong. February was a very good month (with the exception of a few days). It was also a very busy month, so I'm kind of glad it's done . . . not that it's going to get any easier from here on out.

Writing!

  • I spent most of the month working on the fourth round of edits on Mechanical Heart, which ended up being more extensive than I expected. My beta readers made some excellent points about pacing and character dynamics that mean completely rewriting several more chapters than I expected. Of course, completely rewriting things takes longer than regular editing, so I'm only about halfway through the story instead of all the way through.
  • That said, I'm really excited about the results of the edits I've done so far, and I think that the story as a whole will be much better for the changes. And I get to annoy Josiah and write a really fun female friendship at the same time as a result, so that's exciting.
  • (For the record: Josiah needs to be annoyed more. He had it far too easy in the previous versions of the novel. Also, he's just a generally dramatic sort of guy and that comes out very strongly when he's annoyed.)

Reading!


  • I don't know if it was a self-defense mechanism against all my stress this month or the fact that I've felt like I'm starving for good books or just the fact that I found a lot of really good reads, but February was an amazing month for reading. It can be pretty easily divided into two halves: pre-Blind Date and post-Blind Date.
  • Pre-Blind Date was mostly defined by one author: W.R. Gingell. I tried Masque on a whim; I'd just finished the latest Invisible Library books and needed another fantasy mystery (ideally, fantasy murder mystery). I happened to remember Masque and figured, hey, it probably won't be as good as the Invisible Library books, but it's a fairy tale retelling and a murder mystery, so it can't be that bad.
  • Surprise: It was as good as the Invisible Library books. Not a surprise: by the time I finished, I was officially addicted to both fantasy mysteries and W.R. Gingell's books. I mean, the Two Monarchies series is basically what would happen if you combined that series with a Diana Wynne Jones book and I am in love.
  • So, yeah. I devoured Masque, which is arguably my new favorite retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I mean, you can't go wrong with murder to drive a plot, and the protagonist is delightfully sneaky and clever — plus, she's 28 and happily unmarried when the book starts, and she isn't particularly interested in changing that but also isn't angsty about the fact that she does inevitably fall in love. And the magic system is fascinating; it hits a sweet spot between technical/scientific and fairy tale-like that I didn't even know existed. And the world is highly interesting; you don't see a lot of fantasy worlds where magic is normal. Also, there's politics. I love politics in fantasy. And the love interest is pretty cool.
  • All that put together, it should be no surprise that I proceeded to devour the other Two Monarchies book that I already owned, Spindle, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. That one was also very good, but in a different way. No murder here, but still mystery and politics and a couple whose relationship dynamics, combined with the world, reminded me of Howl's Moving Castle. Like, I've never read another book that I could honestly compare to Howl — except this one.
  • So, obviously, I had to read the rest of the series . . . which I didn't own. Surprise: I bought all the Two Monarchies books, plus the random spinoff. (This actually is a surprise; I almost never buy eBooks unless they're free or $0.99 unless I really like the author, but I paid full price for these. And I would've bought all her other books too, but I ran out of spending money.) Blackfoot wasn't quite as good as Spindle or Masque, but Staff and Crown was utterly delightful. (Annabel is at her best when she's got Isabelle by her side, plus we had Melchior and a boarding school full of noble and upper-class girls, and someone's sneaking about plotting things, and there was intrigue and sneakery and explosions. What more could you want?) And Wolfskin, the spinoff, was excellent too. It had a very different feel, and I'm not 100% satisfied with the ending, but the mystery was excellent.
  • I had two other Gingell books already on my Kindle: Twelve Days of Faerie (a fun mystery involving fae; not my favorite of Gingell's books but still fun) and A Time Traveler's Best Friend (kind of confusing and weird, but not bad). And after that, I had to console my soul by reading Pratchett — specifically, Night Watch, which is also time travel but much less confusing. It was pretty cool to see what characters were like before we met them at the series start. Also, you can't go wrong with Vimes.
  • And as soon as I finished that, it was Blind Date with a Book time!
  • This is my best year yet for Blind Date books. I had a grand total of seven 'dates', and I was pretty satisfied with all of them. Here's the rundown!
  • VIRTUAL REALITY, GAMING, and CYBERCRIME: Warcross (Marie Lu). I really enjoyed this one! It was less predictable than I expected and much more colorful than most sci-fi novels I read. Plus, SAO has made me a sucker for virtual reality game stories. My one complaint is that the romance moved much faster than I liked. It was a really nice slow burn for a while, and then — boom. They're kissing. Oh well.
  • EPIC TEEN ADVENTURES, MAGIC, and MYSTERIES: The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson). This was one of three rereads and definitely my favorite of those three. I think I've probably read The Rithmatist more than any other Sanderson book at this point. Not that I'm complaining; it's a good book!
  • ABSURDITY, ALIENS, and QUIRKY TECHNOLOGY: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams). Another reread. I tried this one a couple years ago and found it depressing, but a lot of my friends love the series. I hoped that maybe I'd enjoy it more now since I knew it wasn't basically sci-fi Discworld, but . . . no such luck. It's still depressing and nihilistic.
  • FANTASY, LOST MEMORIES, and SACRIFICE: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman). This is my first Gaiman, and I really enjoyed it. It was a little bit weird and a little bit creepy, but I'm not complaining about that. I loved the way that myths were quietly intertwined with the story, and the general feel of the book . . . it's like if someone wove a Diana Wynne Jones book and A Wrinkle in Time into one story, and it's beautiful.
  • MONSTERS, TIME TRAVEL, and SPECIAL POWERS: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs). Ugh. I saw the description and thought storms yes, but now that I've finished it, I am intensely disappointed. This is the book you'd get if you combined the most cliche YA contemporary fantasy novel in existence with those Aggressively Realistic contemporary books I was semi-forced to read as a kid. (They were all set in the South, all featured relatively poor characters who were generally miserable, and were supposed to be Deep and Significant but were mostly just depressing. I'm pretty sure they were trying to be modern To Kill a Mockingbirds or Flannery O'Connor stories, but they failed miserably.) It was boring, it was annoying, and it was cliche. It could've been amazing, but it failed me. I definitely will not be back for the rest of the series.
  • MAGICAL VISITORS, CHILDHOOD ADVENTURES, and SURPRISE: Mary Poppins (P.L. Travers). I haven't read this book in so long. It used to be one of my favorites, and I enjoyed revisiting the stories. I will confess that Mary seemed a lot grumpier than I remembered, and the writing style is definitely aimed at younger kids . . . but some of the magic is still there.
  • FRIENDSHIP, SPACE & TIME, and CONSPIRACIES: Twinmaker (Sean Williams). This is the only book I read about which I had no prior knowledge regarding the author or story. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't amazing. A lot of the ideas were interesting, and I think the author did a fairly good job with the worldbuilding. Unfortunately, the plot and characters were kind of predictable. I enjoyed it, but I don't think I'm going to read the sequel.

 Watching!

  • The number one thing I learned this month? I am not a fan of "art" pieces when it comes to television and movies. It's not that there's anything wrong with them, but I have very low patience for TV and movies in general. (Part of the reason is probably that I'm stuck if I watch something long, as opposed to reading a long book, which can be done in bits and pieces over the course of a day, week, or month.) So, when I end up watching a movie that's the cinematic equivalent of a highbrow literary novel — all introspection and silence and obscure metaphor and symbolism and confusion — I end up bored and frustrated rather than stimulated. Watching them when you're running a fever and probably should be in bed doesn't help matters.
  • All that to say: the Studio Ghibli film The Red Turtle is a beautiful film full of metaphors that I don't think I understood. And the middle 90 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey are excellent and suspenseful and thought-provoking (if slow), but the beginning was odd, and the end made no sense at all. And you can call me uncultured all you like, but I don't think you should have to confuse and bore the audience to create a story — whether on the page or the screen — that's deep enough and meaningful enough and full of enough symbolism to be considered art. Art doesn't cease to be art simply because it's accessible.
  • Much more pleasant was Cedarville's winter play: Agatha Christie's Appointment With Death. The first half was a bit frustrating because it was so much character buildup and I kind of wanted to get to the murder already. The actors all played their characters well, and I understand why they needed so much time to set up characters' motivations and personalities and so forth. The second half was excellent, though, and the answer to the whudunnit made sense.
  • And the Honors org put together a Princess Bride movie night for Valentine's Day. It was awesome. We watched the movie and then our philosophy prof (who is every Honors student's favorite professor) talked about love and relationships and whether or not true love is a thing and whether or not it's really wise to marry a pirate. It was a good time.
  • Outside of those four things, I didn't watch a whole lot. We managed a few more episodes of Doctor Who; I'm enjoying Tennant a bit more than I was when he first showed up. Also, I met K9, so that was fabulous. (And also Sarah Jane Smith — that was interesting, seeing a current and former companion interact with each other and the Doctor.) And the roomie and I are slowly making our way back into Fairy Tail. Sadly, the amount of writing I needed to do (and the number of events I had) cut severely into our watching time.

Life!

  • The highlight of the month was definitely the weekend before Valentine's Day. My family came up — not primarily for me; there were events that my sister needed to be at, but we still got to spend time together on Sunday and Tuesday.
  • Also on Tuesday was the second-best Cedarville chapel event of my life: Andrew Peterson speaking in chapel! He played a few of his songs from Resurrection Letters, and he read us the first chapter of his upcoming book on writing. It was fabulous. And then that evening he did a concert, which was amazing. He played a lot of my favorites and shared some of the stories behind the songs, and it was just beautiful. Plus I had a really good time trying to guess which songs were coming up based on his descriptions; I only guessed wrong once. (I though he was going to sing "After All These Years" or maybe "You Came So Close," but instead it was "Every Star Is a Burning Flame.")
  • Now, you may be wondering "Why is Andrew Peterson in chapel only the second-best chapel of your life, Sarah? That sounds pretty amazing." The reason is: he was actually in chapel twice, and the second time was better. It was less serious, more fun, and he played some of his less-well-known songs. I'm going to suggest you actually go watch it. It's a little under an hour, but it's super fun, and something happens at the end that couldn't have been better if it had been planned.
  • And I got to go to a Q&A with him after chapel, which was cool. Sadly, I didn't get to ask any of my questions — all the music majors got their hands up first. But it was still cool to hear what he had to say on some of the topics.
  • In non-Andrew-Peterson-related news . . . Um. Honestly, I've covered most of it. I went to plays and movies. I saw Andrew Peterson (and got a CD signed by him, which was great!). I read copious amounts of fiction. I didn't have to spend much time arguing with Captivate, and my group projects are all going very smoothly — except one, but that one's not our fault. We had a survey that we needed sent out to the whole school, and we did what we were supposed to do to make that happen, but the person sending it apparently just forgot for a week solid. We're rather annoyed about that.
  • Oh! We did have a snow day pretty early in the month! That was exciting, and it was nice to have a day off of classes. The only problem was that all the meetings that were supposed to happen that day got rescheduled to Thursday, as did a meeting that was supposed to happen on the weekend (and for which I needed to put something together in the computer lab), so that was stressful. I'm pretty sure I ended up with the same amount of stress for those two days that I normally would've had; it was just all condensed into Thursday instead of being split between the two.
  • The last thing that happened this month was Sing, Dance, Laugh, a show put on by the Inversions (an acapella group), AYO (the dance org whose showcases I LOVE), and DTR (an improv comedy group). It was pretty fabulous; they made fun of millenials, lip-synced to the Bellybutton Song and "Let's Get Down To Business" (the latter of which involved a joke about the philosophy prof I mentioned earlier), and generally had a good time on stage — which meant those of us in the audience had fun too.

March Plans!

  • I'm on spring break! Almost! I have a couple classes still today, but once those are done, I'm free! I had a hard time finding a ride home, which was frustrating, but I did get it worked out. So, pretty soon, I'll be back in VA!
  • I don't have any particular plans, but I know I have a lot of writing to do. I need to get as much as I can done on Mechanical Heart, and I want to see if I can put together a D&D one-shot for some friends of mine on the hall who are kind of interested in D&D but aren't certain enough to commit to a full campaign. I have the skeleton of the adventure already; I'm adapting a forum roleplay plot that I created earlier this fall (and which is progressing very slowly). I'm well aware that I'm not super experienced with D&D, so I'm a little nervous, but I figure that my friends will be pretty forgiving — and I know how to tell a good story, so all I have to do is work out the mechanics. That shouldn't be too hard.
  • I do have class projects that I'll need to work on, but not as many as I've had some years. Several of my projects I can't really do anything with off-campus. I do want to get ahead in Web Design if I can, but we'll see if my internet cooperates.
  • I also have to figure out my schedule for next semester, so that's stressful. Actually, it probably won't be too bad; I'll be a senior, so I just have to figure out which of the classes I still need are offered in fall and which are offered in spring and sort it out from there. I just hope that Advanced Comp with the professor I want doesn't conflict with a graphic design class again. It will be super weird, though; I'll only have one actual PWID class; everything else will be Honors, Graphic Design, or PWID electives (which are all run by other majors or departments).
  • I'll also be working on designing a website for my church here in Cedarville, and I'm super excited about that. I'm meeting with him later this morning to talk about what he's thinking and hosting options and content and so forth. (I was supposed to meet with him on Tuesday, but that got delayed . . . oh well.)
  • And, of course, there will be reading. Probably not as much as there was this past month, but you never know . . .
How was your February? Was yours as non-blah as mine? Any fun plans for March?
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, February 22, 2019

Why Honor: A Quest In Is Worth Yelling About

I spent a lot of time yelling about books on the internet. It's sort of a fact of life at this point. However, I don't yell about every book I come across — obviously, or else I'd never shut up. In fact, out of all the books I read, there's actually a very small percentage that I think are worth the time and energy it takes to shout their merits from the virtual merits. Kendra E. Ardnek's newest book, Honor: A Quest In — releasing in four days! — is one of those.

Why Honor: A Quest In Is Worth Yelling About

  1. It starts after "I do." Technically this is also true of My Kingdom for a Quest, if I recall correctly, but Honor has much more of a focus on Robin and Eric . . . even though Eric spends a lot of the book off-screen. Anyway, even if Robin and Eric aren't in the same place much, the fact that their story continues after they're married is pretty unusual. However, as someone who's getting a little tired of reading the same old love stories, I really enjoyed the fact that Honor focused on a part of life that most YA books kind of ignore.
  2. Marianne is adorable. Oh, yes. Robin and Eric have a child, a little girl, and she's just the cutest. What's better is that she's actually a proper character instead of a generic child like a lot of authors would write. (I attribute this to the fact that Kendra comes from a large enough family that she actually knows what children that age are like . . . or something.)
  3. It's delightfully heartrending without being angsty. By this point, I'm kind of over unnecessary angst, so it's a good thing that Honor doesn't have any. The characters experience their fair share of pain and deal with an abundance of problems, but they deal with their problems in a reasonable, mature way. They get upset, but they don't dwell in that sorrow and frustration. And compared to the last book I read, that's a beautiful relief.
  4. It involves one of my favorite Bookania battles yet. That fight happens pretty early on in the series and involves a very angry Robin proving why she's so awesome. You'll know it when you see it. I love all of it.
  5. It gives me hope for adventure. Here is the list of people who don't seem to get invited on adventures nowdays: anyone married. Anyone over the age of high school. Anyone with a reasonably stable home life. But Robin and the rest of the Bookania cast fit two of those categories, and they manage to keep having adventures — so maybe there's hope for me as well.
Are you excited for Honor: A Quest In? Please tell me in the comments! And if you haven't ordered Honor yet, go do so now (unless you plan to buy the paperback).
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Honor: A Bookania Tag


Hey'a, everyone! First off, if you missed my late-night Facebook excitement last Tuesday: I saw Andrew Peterson in concert! It was amazing and beautiful and he played a lot of my favorite songs and I'm so glad I got to be there. Next up: another source of excitement for me this month: Honor: A Quest In! This is Kendra E. Ardnek's next book, which releases in about a week and a half! I got to alpha-read it, and I'm looking forward so much to when it comes out and y'all get to enjoy it too. In the meantime, though, Kendra made this awesome tag themed on the book, so I'm filling that out this week!

1. Have you read any of the Bookania Quests yet? If so, what is your favorite thing about them? If not, why are you excited to read them?
I've read all the Bookania Quests that have been released so far. I'd say my favorite thing about them is the sheer number of fairy tales (including some pretty obscure ones) that are woven into the stories.

2. What is your favorite fairy tale that no one else seems to know about?

"Six Soldiers of Fortune" and similar stories are some of my favorites, but most people have never heard of them. That's probably for good reason; they're kind of weird, and there's not really a hero — but they're fun to read, and they involve some pretty crazy and awesome powers.

3. Sword or Bow?
In general, swords. Bows do have the advantage of distance, but I like the style of swords better.

4. What is your favorite Fairy Tale mash-up universe?
Either Bookania or Christopher Healy's Hero's Guide series universe. I can't decide which; they're both awesome for different reasons.

5. What is your favorite fictional sword?
Oooh. That's a tough question. I'm going to say that it's a three-way tie between Sting from The Lord of the Rings (the first really significant fictional sword I encountered), the version of Excalibur from Dragons in Our Midst (because it's an awesome legendary sword that can also disintegrate people), and Riptide from Percy Jackson (because a sword that can turn into a pen is automatically awesome).

6. Name a Rebellious Princess that you felt to be particularly well-developed and compelling.
Er. I typically don't like rebellious princess characters; it's far too easy for authors to make their rebelliousness their only real trait, or else I get frustrated with them because they aren't rebellious because they're sensible; they're just as silly and petty and ridiculous as the pink puffball princesses. Don't give me a merely rebellious princess; they're so common that good, obedient princesses are the rarity these days. Give me a clever princess, one who recognizes the potential in her position and uses every assumption to her own advantage.

Anyway. All that said: Poppy from the Midnight Ball series isn't exactly rebellious, but she does know her own mind, and she does what she likes regardless of how proper it is. And Siri from Warbreaker is a bit closer to being actually rebellious, but she turns out to be pretty clever as well.

7. What is your favorite representation of Robin Hood?
Personally, I like the original Robin Hood best, but that could just be that I haven't read many Robin Hood retellings. If anyone has any particularly good recommendations, let me know.

8. Who is your favorite fictional mother?
Oooh. That's a good question. I'm going to go with Nia Wingfeather from the Wingfeather Saga, who's brilliantly brave and loving and wonderful in many, many ways. She's been through quite a lot, but she never gives up.

9. If you could learn any language in the world instantaneously, which would you choose?
Like, learn it and be able to speak and write it with perfect fluency? Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic. Any of those three could have potential practical applications (particularly the former two), but would require a lot of effort to learn the normal way because they're so different from English. Then I can continue to learn the more English-like languages like most people learn languages.

10. Who is someone in your life that you couldn't bear to lose?
My sister, my parents, my roommate . . . probably my sister most of all.

Thanks for putting this tag together, Kendra! And thanks to all of you for reading! Tell me: what language would you pick if you could learn any of them instantaneously? And do you have any really good Robin Hood retellings that you'd like to recommend? Let me know in comments!
Have an excellent day!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Only Blind Dates I'll Ever Go On

Hey'a, everyone! It's almost Valentine's Day, and you know what that means — it's Blind Date with a Book time! As a quick note for those who aren't aware: Blind Date with a Book is basically an event where the library staff wraps up a ton of books in pretty paper and puts some kind of clue or hint on the paper. Last year it was the genre and the first line of the book; the year before it was the genre and a few key descriptive words. You pick whichever book sounds most appealing based on the information given, take it home, and read it. Usually, there's a little card with the book that you can fill out to be entered in a drawing as well. It's basically my favorite library event of the year. Anyway, now that that's sorted out, let's get on with explaining why this is so awesome.

Why Blind Date with a Book is the Best!

  1. It's a good way to get out of a reading rut. Generally, at least for me, reading ruts are caused by one of two things. Either I've figured out all the books I want to read way in advance and now what I planned doesn't seem appealing anymore, or else all my reading options are so familiar to me that none of them sound appealing. Blind Date with a Book effectively nullifies both of these, because whatever I end up reading is unplanned and mysterious and exciting. It's wonderful.
  2. It puts reading at a temporarily higher priority. You know how I said there's that bit with the card that you have to fill out to get entered in the giveaway? Well, obviously you have to have that card back by a certain date . . . and you also have to finish the book by that date so you can rate it on the card. Also, if you're a Book Blind Date addict like me, you end up reading your first date fast so you can go back and get another . . . and another . . . and possibly another after that. (The fact that, by February, I'm generally mentally exhausted and so I want to read something that I don't have to think too hard about helps quite a bit, but y'know.)
  3. You sometimes discover good books you never would've read otherwise. For example, last year I ended up reading Court of Fives and The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I'm not going to say that either of these is an amazing book, because they aren't . . . but they're still good, if flawed by cliche characters. Court of Fives, in particular, is African/Roman-inspired fantasy and so I'm happy that I read the book just for that, even if I did lose patience with people more than once.
  4. You sometimes end up being pushed to read books that you've forgotten about! Like, two years ago I ended up reading East, which is a retelling of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" that people had told me to read multiple times and I never got around to. And last year I read Watership Down, which was, by the way, pretty amazing. It was also pretty dark for a book about rabbits, but you know. I'd been meaning to read it for ages, and getting it as a Blind Date Book was just the push I needed.
  5. You're taking a risk! Without actually taking a risk! So, yeah. For an ISTP, I'm an astoundingly non-risk-prone person. (For context: ISTPs tend to be stereotyped as impulsive daredevils, among other things.) It's not that I don't have a sense of adventure; it's just that, in any conflict between Tookishness and Baggins-ness, the Baggins side has the better arguments, namely "You have assignments due; you don't have time for [X, Y, and Z potential consequences]." However, Blind Date with a Book allows me to satisfy both the Tookish desire for adventure (because the book is mysterious and WILL I LIKE IT? WHO KNOWS. I HAVE TO READ IT NO MATTER WHAT IT IS!) and the Baggins-esque desire for stability (because what's more stable than a good book and a cup of tea, I'd like to know?) and so it's basically perfect. And yes, it is possible to overdo it, but . . . I haven't yet? We'll see what this year brings.
What about you? Have you ever participated in a Blind Date with a Book event? Would you want to? Please tell me in the comments! (Also, if you came here hoping that I was HOSTING a Blind Date with a Book event . . . sorry. Though, on a serious note: is that something you'd be interested in? Because I have an idea and I'm debating whether or not to try to pull it off. Again, let me know in comments.)
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Friday, February 1, 2019

January 2019 Doings!

I'm not going to lie, y'all: it's a small miracle that this is up on time. This week — this whole month — has been a cycle of super chill days abruptly dissolving into obscenely frantic and packed ones. (Part of this is my fault; if I don't have a deadline for a project, or if the deadline is far away and the task is small, I'm very easily distracted. However, it's also partially due to the fact that professors and other people keep saying "Oh, here's this project; it's due in two class periods; have fun!" . . . and they do this on weekends when I'm already busy with other stuff.) Anyway. Let's get on with the Doings!

Writing!

  • I . . . did not actually meet my writing goal for the month of January, in the sense that I didn't write 300 words per day, five days a week. I did write a ton for the first week or so because I had to finish up my short stories for my Actual Writing Job. Thankfully, I got those sent in on time, the client liked them, and I should be getting money pretty soon.
  • The rest of the month, though? I was so burned out that I didn't touch anything creative until halfway through the month after my first Mechanical Heart beta got back to me. At that point, I started doing a little bit of on-and-off work on the end of Mechanical Heart; basically, I figured out that I really needed to rearrange some scenes at the end for the story to work properly. So, I've been doing that and trying to get it sorted out before I look at the rest of my beta feedback.
  • Thankfully, almost all of my betas have gotten back to me! And I'm almost done with the last piece I'm rearranging! So as soon as I finish that, I can really jump into beta-inspired edits.
  • Oh! And the Year of Snow White Facebook party was just the other night! That was super fun! I ran an online game of Bring Your Own Book, which went pretty well . . . aside from the fact that my computer crashed halfway through the night and wouldn't restart for twenty minutes. That was frustrating. But the rest of the evening was great!

Reading!

  • This was actually a really fabulous reading month in terms of how many books I actually read. In terms of the quality of those books . . . it's a little iffier, but it got better as the month went on.
  • We'll start with the highlights of the month — obviously, the two Invisible Library novels I read and reread. The Lost Plot was just as good on the reread as it was the first time around — in fact, it might've been made better by anticipation of exactly what I was getting into. As for The Mortal Word, AAAHHHHHHH IT WAS SO AWESOME!!!! All my favorite characters were in one place! And there were murders! And fae! And dragons! Basically, it was all the reasons I love the series stuffed into one book.
  • The third major highlight of the month was the latest Fellowship of Fantasy anthology, Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales, a set of cat-themed short stories. As always, some of the stories were better than others, but all of them were delightful in some fashion. My absolute favorite was H.L. Burke's "Whisker-Width" . . . though I may be a little biased there due to the fact that I want the plot of that story to happen to me!
  • Moving on to the next level of books, the ones that were great but not quite my favorites of the month: The Last Motley, while not a perfect book, was a fun adventure with plenty of twists and turns. I can see why so many of my friends rate it so highly! Fairest Son was a lovely Snow White retelling from a friend of mine; it could've been a little longer, but overall it was delightful. I also enjoyed K. M. Shea's Beauty and the Beast — of course, I'm always down for a good retelling of my favorite fairy tale, so no surprise there! All That We See or Seem was good as well, once I figured out that it was more romance than adventure, and West was an exciting but emotionally-frustrating sequel to East.
  • In the middle ground, we have three books: H. L. Burke's Coiled, Lea Doue's Mirrors and Pearls, and Hannah Moskowitz's Salt. All of these were good books, just not great. Coiled was a lovely retelling of Cupid and Psyche featuring two cursed princes and two cursed princesses. Mirrors and Pearls was a fun Snow White retelling, albeit one that could've been fleshed out a little more. Salt had fun sibling relationships and monster-slaying, but was a little frustrating at times.
  • And, finally, we have three books that disappointed me: one by no fault of its own, one by overly high expectations, and one because I absolutely should not have picked it up in the first place. First up: Sarah Addison Fox's Disowned. Now, don't get the wrong idea. Disowned is not a bad book by any means. People who aren't me have rated it very highly, and in hindsight, I understand why. Here's the thing, though: what I knew of the rest of the series led me to expect something with adventure and intrigue and constant danger. Disowned does not have those things. The first half of the book primarily concerns the growing relationships between Celeste and the family that takes her in, with a healthy dose of angst on Celeste's part. It's not bad in and of itself, and I will read the second book in the series to see if it's more like what I expected. (Plus, with indie books, the second book in a series is almost always better than the first one.) I just kind of feel like I was the victim of false advertising or something. Or maybe I just needed to read more reviews. I don't know.
  • Moving on! Next up, the book for which I might have had overly high expectations: Brandon Sanderson's Legion anthology. Again, this wasn't a bad book in and of itself. The first two short story/novellas in the anthology are actually quite good. They have everything you'd expect from Sandersons' work: colorful characters, exciting plots, cool magic (in this case, more like cool technology, but you know what I mean), and fascinating twists. The third story also has these things, but it ended in a very frustrating and unsatisfying fashion.
  • As for Trail of Lightning: It has content that's somewhat more adult than I really wanted to experience. It's very dark. The main character angsts too much and trusts too little. There's more blood and gore than I expected or was comfortable with. The magic system was super weird and confusing. The only things it had going for it were that it was based on Navajo myths and that it was basically a Western fantasy dystopia. So, basically: plenty of potential, but not enough of that potential came through.
  • Oh, and I acquired a lot of books this month! Rosalie sent me a copy of her latest Ticket to Write book, and I won a copy of Because  . . . Anonymous from Diana L. Sharples. Then I bought a lot of ebooks . . . including a preorder of Honor: A Quest In, which you should all go preorder now. Trust me; I beta-read it and it's awesome.
  • That said, I didn't read any old books this month. I fully intended to; it just . . . didn't happen. Oh well.

Watching!

  • Good news: I am no longer completely behind on the best movies of the MCU! By which I mean that I finally watched Black Panther, almost a year after it came out. Should I have watched it sooner? Yes. Was it awesome? Yes. Is it my new favorite Marvel movie? No. But it is my second favorite! The characters were great (even though I would've been really confused about 75% of the names if I hadn't seen so much about it on the internet first)! The plot was exciting! The themes were excellent! Basically, I have nothing bad to say about it (except the name thing), but Thor: Ragnarok is still my favorite. It also has all those things, plus it has one of my favorite final battle scenes in any movie. So, yeah.
  • That said, Shuri is a fabulous science princess and I love her and she's amazing. And I loved that we had scenes with her and T'Challa being sibling-ly. We need more awesome sibling teams of all kinds.
  • I also watched the rest of Season 1 of Doctor Who, and I'd like to say thank you to everyone who told me to stick with it; I quite enjoyed the rest of the season! I ended up skipping episode 8 ("Father's Day") because I'm not crazy about the trope it seems to be founded on. I also ended up watching the last five episodes out of order — people who aren't my roommate and I didn't want to watch the Empty Child episodes at night, so we watched episodes 11, 12, and 13, and then my roommate and I backtracked to watch episodes 9 and 10 . . . which weren't actually that scary, but were pretty cool. Of course, I also knew spoilers, so that probably contributed. Also, Jack Harkness makes almost everything better. He's a mess, yes. But he's a fun mess who fits multiple of my favorite character tropes.
  • Now we're in Season Two with Tennant, two episodes in, and I'm back to not knowing how I feel about anything. Tennant is a Doctor I've heard a lot about, and I know he's there for a while . . . but he showed up just as I'd finally gotten used to Eccleston's Doctor. I don't know.
  • That said, speaking of things that I like better in the second half of the season: the Alfheim Online part of Sword Art Online is fabulous. Much less angst, a really cool world, and a more connected plot all helped keep me more engaged. I mean, the whole subplot with Leafa/Suguha's crush was annoying, but still. My roommate and I finished it two nights ago and I was pretty satisfied with the climax.
  • And now we can finally return to Fairy Tail and hopefully get through all the completed arcs of that by the end of the semester. After that, we might watch the second season of Sword Art Online, but that's still a long way away.

Life!

I knitted these for the people who got signed copies of Blood in the Snow. I'm super happy with how they turned out.
  • I'm going to be honest: I don't remember a lot of what happened this month. I need to start writing these posts over the course of the month instead of doing the whole thing at the very end.
  • The first week of January was pretty chill, other than the fact that I had so much writing to do. At least, I'm pretty sure it was.
  • College started back up the second week of January. My schedule is interesting; I'm in class from dawn to dusk (literally) Monday and Friday, I have normal class hours Wednesday, and I have nothing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm sure that contributes to my feeling of either being completely chill or completely stressed; hopefully, I can find a better balance as the semester goes on. I am really enjoying several of my classes, though. Web Design is cool because I realized I know more about it than I thought; my blogs and forums gave me a little bit of a jumpstart with the basics of HTML, so now it's just a matter of expanding that knowledge and keeping all the tags and terms in place. Plus, I can work ahead, which is super nice.
  • Both of my Honors seminars are going well, especially Artificial Intelligence. I'm pretty sure that I get more story ideas every week; at this rate, I'll have at least half a dozen science fantasy concepts ready to be expanded into full stories! Oddly, my actual PWID classes are my least favorite in my schedule — which isn't to say that I hate them, but one is a lot of theory and group work (stressful for obvious reasons) and the other is basically on one of my least favorite parts of the writing and design process. So, yeah. They aren't my favorite classes I've ever had.
  • I also learned that I do not like leadership conferences, mostly because they tend to tell me stuff I already know. Or, at least, that's what happened at the one I attended this month — it's hosted by the university, and all org officers are required to attend. It was a very frustrating, stressful, exhausting experience.
  • D&D is still going strong, thankfully. We lost a few people, but we also gained some new members, one of whom is a good friend of mine from my hall. I also think that I'm getting better at playing as my character instead of playing as me or just doing what seems like the most strategic option. (Admittedly, my character's personality is fairly similar to mine, but there are some differences.) So, yeah. That's a generally good time.
  • Also, this week was so cold that the college literally shut down on Wednesday. I enjoyed the day off, but I would like spring, please. I know that's not going to happen, but . . . I can dream, right? (And if you live in Minnesota or Chicago or somewhere that's even more horribly cold, yes, I know, you had it worse. Just let me be miserable in peace, please; I'm not used to this.)

February Plans!

  • I really, really hate February, ok? It's the shortest month, but it always feels like the longest. I'm pretty sure that has something to do with the fact that it's the coldest month and hot things move faster than cold things and all that. There's a very scientific reason, that's all I'm saying.
  • I also expect that my workload will start amping up pretty soon. (In some respects it already has, but you know.) Odds are high that I'll be spending a considerable amount of time either in group project meetings or arguing with Adobe Captivate. (It's not the easiest Adobe program I've ever worked with, ok? And all the other programs are fairly intuitive; once you know one, you can figure out all of them. But Captivate acts more like Word or Powerpoint, and it's just . . . ugh. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it, but it's taking me a whole lot longer than it usually would.)
  • And when I'm not working on something for a class? I'll be editing Mechanical Heart, trying to get it polished and submitted to the Golden Braids group release before Kendra gets another steampunk Rapunzel retelling that she likes better. That's my goal for the month: do something with Mechanical Heart every day until it's finished. It doesn't matter if I edit one paragraph or five chapters, just as long as I make progress. I would make a time-based goal, but that feels like a risky proposition right now since my schedule is so wacky and will probably get weirder as the month goes on.
  • As far as reading goes, I don't have any particular plans, but I now need to read two old books instead of just one. I still hope to read The Four Loves so I can ask intelligent questions about it in one of my honors seminars. As for the other . . . I haven't decided yet. Any suggestions?
How was your January? Any fun plans for February? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Friday, January 25, 2019

Writer Stereotypes (Part 2)!

Hey'a, everyone! Last week, I shared some of the writer stereotypes that fit me pretty well. This week, I'm focusing on the opposite: writer stereotypes that, when it comes to me, couldn't be further from the truth. So, let's get started!

 Writer Stereotypes (Part 2)

  1. Writers are insomniacs and night owls who stay up to the wee hours of the morning to write. My hallmates can confirm that this is not the case. While I have occasionally, in a fit of inspiration, stayed up to an unholy hour because the words just kept coming, I typically try to turn in no later than 10:30, maybe 11. After 11 PM, I am definitely not in a state where I can write coherently, nor am I inclined to try. I would much rather get up early (or early-ish) and write before the sun comes up, accompanied by a lovely mug of chai.
  2. Writers cannot survive without coffee. I'm pretty sure that this is directly caused by the last stereotype? In any case, I strongly dislike coffee, even the smell of it, and the best efforts of my coffee-loving friends haven't changed that. Tea, on the other hand? Like I said last week, I love it. But I can survive just fine without it, especially during the summer.
  3. Writers delight in the pain they can cause to their characters (and readers). There seems to be a trend among certain writers to treat their characters' pain as either a competition or a joke. People brag about how horrible their characters' lives are, they laugh about how much they torture their favorites. And, yes, causing your characters (and, by extension, your readers) pain to some degree is required to tell a good story. But I don't agree with pain for the sake of pain. I believe there's no such thing as purposeless pain in life, and so I don't put it in my stories.
  4. Writers use their writing to get revenge on people whom they dislike. I used to threaten to do this on occasion, but it's not a threat I'm likely to carry out. When I'm writing, the last thing I want to think about is the people who frustrate me; part of why I write is to get a break from those people. So why would I want to put them in my novel, even as dragon food?
  5. Writers hate editing but will correct your grammar anyway. I do dislike editing, though I dislike it less when it's my own book. However, the odds that I'll actually correct you grammar are pretty small. Most of the time, I don't care. Or, if I do care, I'll just judge you silently from my side of the internet. No pressure.
What about you? Are there any writer stereotypes that don't fit you in the least? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)   

Friday, January 18, 2019

Writer Stereotypes (Part 1)

Hello, friends! So, stereotypes. Everyone's affected by them. Everyone tries to pretend that the stereotypes for whatever they happen to identify themselves as — writer, bookworm, athlete, science person, crafter, girl, guy, anything — doesn't actually apply to them. But, y'know, while not every stereotype applies to everyone in a particular category, some of them will always apply to some of the people. That's as true for writers, and for me as a writer, as it is for everyone else. This week, I'm revealing some of the writer stereotypes that apply to me. Then, next week, I'll reverse the topic and talk about the stereotypes that I don't embody (and, in most cases, probably never will).

Writer Stereotypes Banner

 Writer Stereotypes (Part 1)

  1. Writers are reclusive introverts. Well, "reclusive" is a stretch, as my roommate (or anyone in my hall) will tell you. But despite the fact that I somehow acquired a social life after coming to college, I'm still very much an introvert who needs a certain amount of peace and quiet in order to function. And even when it comes to writing, I may love the Inklings writing org events, but I don't really get much done at them.
  2. Writers love working at coffee shops. Not all the time, and not if they're crowded and busy, but going to a coffee shop to write often provides a nice change of scenery and a bit of extra motivation to write. Of course, the fact that I get something sweet and yummy to drink whenever I go to one certainly helps too.
  3. Writers are spend more time in daydreams than they do in the actual world. This isn't as true as it used to be. Middle- and early high-school me definitely lived her life with her head in another world — typically one involving magic, dragons, adventures, portals, and guys who talked about something other than sports, video games, and school. (Trust me: for middle-school me, that last one seemed as far-fetched as a dragon in my backyard.) But even now, it doesn't take much for my brain to wander off into the world of one of my books, either playing out a scene I'm going to write or figuring out how whatever song I'm listening to might describe one or more of my characters. That said, I like to think I'm a little more aware of my surroundings than I used to be.
  4. Writers can write anything. Pros of being a PWID major and a creative writer: I probably can write whatever you think I can write, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, business or pleasure. (Or, if I can't write it now, I'll be able to write it within a few years.) That said, I can't write everything equally well. I'm much better at fantasy than contemporary or historical fiction. I'm better at marketing materials than official reports — at least, I'm pretty sure I am. I'm better at fantasy than marketing materials. You get the idea.
  5. Writers love tea. I do not know where I would be without tea. Probably in a very sad, miserable world. I'm not an addict, but I will say that my morning tea sets up my best days and makes my bad days a bit more bearable. (And it got me through Professional Editing and Instructional Design 1, and it's going to get me through Instructional Design 2, all early morning classes that cause me more frustration than they should.) And when I need to settle down for the long haul with my writing, or when I need motivation to work on a troublesome scene, a cup of tea is just the thing to get me going.
What writer stereotypes do you fulfill? Please tell me in the comments! And don't forget to check back next week to find out what writer stereotypes I definitely don't fit.
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)    

Friday, January 4, 2019

2019: It's Goal Time

Well, here we are. 2019. We're four days in and I already feel like we've been here for ages. But I guess that's not really a surprise, given how long last year felt. Hopefully, 2019 will be better than 2018 was — though, all things considered, 2018 was a pretty great year. And I did a reasonably good job meeting most of my goals . . . though not all of them.

2018 Reviewed!

Writing
  • As you may remember, last year, my main writing goal was to set myself a writing challenge of some kind every month so I would keep up a more consistent writing schedule. I'm happy to say that I largely succeeded with this, though there were a few months (especially towards the end of the month) when I basically just defaulted to a goal of 100 words per day, six days a week.
  • And that goal paid off! I wrote and edited a total of 183,132 words this year, up by about 54K words from last year! So, basically, I got an extra NaNoWriMo's worth of words in this year, which is pretty fabulous since I never actually did a full 50K NaNoWriMo (even though I participated in all three events).
  • I did not work on all the projects that I hoped to. I managed another few chapters of Destinies and Decisions, but in general, I'm setting aside the rewrite until later. (It's entirely possible that I'll rewrite the first three books, then restart the rewrite of book four, but we'll see.) As for Between Two Worlds, I didn't even touch it.
  • But I did finish Fight Song! And I wrote almost two dozen short fiction pieces of varying lengths! I didn't spread out the short stories as much as I intended to, but I'm not complaining.
  • I also published my first book, Blood in the Snowso, I mean, that's exciting. It also definitely wasn't in the plan for the year, but, hey. Plans change, and I think that was a change for the better. Though the release didn't go as smoothly as I hoped, everyone's been super supportive. (To everyone who's said nice things about my book: thank you! You get all the hugs.)
Reading
  • In 2018, according to my Goodreads Year in Books, I read a total of 109 books and 33,848 pages, with an average rating of 4.1 stars. That's pretty good, considering that I actually dropped my Goodreads reading challenge in 2018 from my usual 99 books to 77 books.
  • However, my C.S. Lewis reading challenge thing? Epic fail. I didn't even make it out of January before my new books overwhelmed my old books. Oh well. At least I enjoyed what I read.
Life
  • I got a marketing and design internship! I actually still have it; it's just very, very part time! I have concluded that if you let me work from home on marketing stuff for the next ten years, I will probably be very, very happy.
  • I became secretary for the Honors org and so far am enjoying the position. I do need to send an email out soon for that, though.
  • I actually kept up with doing German on Duolingo the whole year! So now, at least in theory, I know more German than I did when I started. I don't think I could hold a solid conversation in German, but I could probably find my way around a German city and make myself understood in short exchanges.
  • I did not keep doing martial arts (mostly because the instructor left), but I did learn how to swing dance! Kinda. And then I stopped going this semester because classes didn't fit in my schedule and social swing is super boring when no one asks you to dance.
  • I reworked both my blogs and created a shiny new author site!
  • I finally found a D&D group! Without advertising for other players! (That said, I did respond to someone else advertising for players.) I am very happy with my group and my lovely paladin, and I can't wait to get back to it next semester.
So, that was my year — a good year, overall, if a busy one. As for 2019, then . . . well, that's another adventure. As usual, I'm setting some goals, though (again, as usual), they're more a general idea of what I want to accomplish this year than hard-and-fast I will do this in 2019 or die trying. I like to keep things flexible, after all.

2019 Goals!

Writing
  • Once again, I want to set myself a writing challenge every month. I mean, it worked out well last year, so why not keep it up?
    • That said, I'm going light in January because I pushed myself so hard the last two months. My goal is 300 words of writing, editing, or worldbuilding per day, 5 days a week. (That said, as long as I get some edits done on Mechanical Heart and make a little progress on Dust of Silver, I'll be happy.)
  • What projects am I hoping to work on this year? Great question!
    • Editing Mechanical Heart even more and submitting it to the Golden Braids collection. For those unaware, Golden Braids is the next Arista Challenge group release that Kendra's running. My hope is that I can publish Mechanical Heart with that instead of doing it all on my own. Of course, Kendra has to accept the story first for me to do that . . .
    • Writing more of Dust of Silver. I'll probably do this in conjunction with the Tattered Slippers Arista Challenge, though I entertain no illusions of having it written, edited, and ready to submit for that release. However, it is quite pleasant to work on retelling the same fairy tale with a lot of other writers, and Dust of Silver is primarily a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling.
    • Writing a new novella? Maybe? Speaking of the Tattered Slippers Arista Challenge, I need to figure out whether or not I'm going to write anything to submit to it. I caught a glimpse of a plot bunny the other evening, but only time will tell if it's worth chasing down or not. Right now, I'm just giving it time to grow while I work on other things.
    • Editing Once Upon a Dream? Maybe? I know that I want to publish Once Upon a Dream, a Sleeping Beauty retelling featuring magic, chemistry, and romance, at some point. It's already in pretty good shape, but it needs to be expanded in certain areas. I'd like to start doing that sooner rather than later.
    • Figuring out a rough publishing plan. At some point in the near future, I need to look at what I've written so far and what I plan to write in the future and determine how it all fits together — not in a hard-and-fast sense, but in a some-idea-of-where-I'm-probably-going sense. What do I want to release now, and what do I want to save for when I've established myself a little more? What am I self-publishing and what am I submitting to traditional publishers? If I submit something to a traditional or small press publisher, do they have any kind of dibs on future books? Are there any restrictions on crossovers between, say, traditionally and self-published books? I need to find the answers, and I need to do it sooner rather than later.
Reading
  • I'm setting my Goodreads reading challenge at 77 books again, even though I read so much last year. That seems safer than going for 99.
  • I'm also going to make another attempt at reading more old books, but I'm not aiming for anything so intense this time. My new goal is to read one book per month that was published before 1975. Or, at least, written before 1975, because all the new Tolkien books are a thing. (I don't know if they're a thing I'll actually get around to reading, but y'know, I'm leaving the possibility open.)
Life
  • Continue to survive and do well in college. I mean, I'm pretty sure I'll do this whether or not I make it an official goal or not, but y'know. I might as well say it.
  • Get another internship and/or continue the internship I have. I'm a tiny bit hesitant to try for a full-time desk-job internship like I had back in New York for this summer because of some other stuff I want to do. However, I do want to get more work experience and, ideally, continue to earn money. But I also love the internship I'm currently at, so I'm hoping I can keep working at it either part- or full-time, depending what else I'm doing.
  • Attend the RealmMakers writing conference. I was a little uncertain about whether or not to put this up here, but I've been telling so many people that I hope to go that I might as well say it on the blog. Is it the wisest financial decision? Not sure, especially since I just did some calculations and realized that it's going to cost a bit more than I anticipated. (I hoped that my Actual Writing Job paycheck would cover all the expenses with a bit left over. It won't. But it should cover most of the cost.) However, I think that the opportunities for networking with publishers and other authors and learning from more experienced authors will be worth the money. (And, if nothing else, I want to meet some of my writer friends in person.)
  • Keep practicing German and start learning another language. Since German is going to so well with Duolingo, I'm thinking of trying another language, one I don't have prior experience with. I'm still debating which one; suggestions are welcome. I've also been informally learning bits and pieces of ASL from some friends on my hall, and I intend to keep working on that. Depending on how time works out, I may try to learn it more formally through LifePrint or another site as well.
How was your 2018? What are your goals for 2019? Any suggestions for what language I should learn or what old books I should read? Also, if you've been reading my blog (or my old writing thread on the Underground) for a while, are there any of my stories that you're especially hoping I publish in the near future? Please tell me in the comments!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)