Friday, May 22, 2020

Graduation Reflection

What's this? A list post that's not promoting a recently-released book? MADNESS. I bet you didn't know we still did those, did you? But we are currently between book tours, which means I get to think of other things to talk about. And that means that I can do the thing I've been meaning to do since the beginning of May, which is some graduation reflection. Specifically, I wanted to look back and reflect on some things that have changed or stayed the same for me or about me since I arrived at Cedarville — other than the obvious things, like the fact that I'm four years older and know a lot more about writing and design and marketing and such and live in Virginia again instead of New York. (Of course, I just mentioned all those things, so I don't even have to include them on the list!)

Graduation Reflection

  1. I'm rather more confident when it comes to people things. For one thing, I'm more comfortable talking in front of people. I think the fact that I was required to do it at least a little in almost all my classes sophomore year helped, as did playing and running D&D this past two years. I actually got to the point where I would volunteer to speak for my group any time we had presentations or such — not because I necessarily enjoyed it, but because I didn't mind doing it. I also became more comfortable taking charge of groups — to be honest, I may have gotten too comfortable doing that, which probably did not do wonders for my popularity. But once I didn't mind actually talking, I found that the best way to stay in the loop about what was happening was to be the one running the loop. So . . . that's what I did. (That may also have contributed to my willingness to talk in front of people; I was the one who was in charge of everything and knew the most about what was going on, so I was the one who did the most talking about it.)
  2. I'm also more comfortable with criticizing professors when they deserve it. I remember back in freshman year, I mentioned in one LATE Club post that I was terribly bothered by how negative my classmates' attitudes towards a particular professor seemed to be, not because I thought they were wrong but because I didn't think we should talk so much about it. I . . . am over that now. I still do try to keep in mind professors' good points, and I respect that they have their positions for a reason, but if I have a problem with them, I will talk about it. (Respectfully, and not to random people on the street. But still.
  3. I actually have less solid goals than I did when I started? When I started at Cedarville, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do — job type, industry, location, everything. (And, yes, it was basically a full-time version of the internship I'd just completed, but in a different state). Now, though, I'm interested in so many things that I'm kind of like "I could do this . . . or this . . . or this other thing . . . they all sound good, really." I'm not sure if this is progress or not, but it does make job searching easier, so there's that. (It's just weird, though — I had a sort of idea that you go to college and you leave with a better idea of what you want to do with your life, but the opposite happened to me.)
  4. I somehow developed a social life? And became a person who organizes things? And by "things" I mean group events. (In terms of actual orderliness, I am exactly as inclined to organization as I was before college. Which is to say, I'm mildly obsessive about some things and can't be bothered with others.) Sometimes group events involving upwards of a dozen people. Sometimes even things involving whole clubs of people. This is coming from me, a confirmed introvert. I'm really not sure how any of that happened, but I'm glad it did . . . except for the fact that I get lonely more easily now. So that's not ideal. (The fact that I still have D&D to hang out with a lot of my closest friends helps, for the record.)
  5. And finally, something that's apparently stayed the same: I don't move on super easily unless the rug gets yanked out from under me. This is actually something I've been thinking about with the whole COVID-19 thing and the fact that neither of my senior years have gone the way I wanted them to or given me all the time I wanted with my friends. In high school, I moved to New York the summer before my senior year, which meant that all the last moments with my friends had to be compressed into the space of a few months. And then COVID-19 sent everyone home from college with even less time for goodbyes and last hurrahs and so forth. And I hated both of those, but . . . there was actually a benefit? I didn't want things to end, and I didn't want things to change, and I didn't really want to get on with the next stage of life in either case . . . until all the things and people I was attached to in that stage either got stripped away or reset, and suddenly I was ready for the potential of the next stage and excited to move on. So, I'm not saying that God orchestrates my life so I get slammed with catastrophes every time I need to move on from something, buuuuut . . . there's a trend developing. That's all.
For my fellow 2020 graduates: what do you see about yourself that's changed since you started college? Do you feel like any of the things I mentioned apply to you as well? And if you're not a 2020 grad (which a lot of the people following this post probably aren't), feel free to share something that's changed for you in the last four years! I'd love to hear your perspectives!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

A Twist of Rapunzel Blog Tour: Interview with Kirsten Fichter

Hey'a, everyone! It's a two-post, two-tour week; today we're back with the Twist of Rapunzel double release tour! This tour features Kendra E. Ardnek's Misfortune and Kirsten Fichter's Diamond. And for today, we have an exclusive interview with one of the main characters of Misfortune, the Daughter of Blood and Misfortune. (Yeah, it's a mouthful.) in addition, we'll have another interview with Kirsten Fichter here this coming Tuesday, and you can find my thoughts on Misfortune over on Light and Shadows. So make sure you check out all of those — after the interview.

About . . .

The Book

Once Upon a Twist #3
 
Diamond leads a quiet life with the woman she calls Mother. There isn’t much to pass the time save for excursions in the forest and one-sided conversations with her pet rabbit, Hobie. Men are cruel beings who care only for themselves and must be avoided at any cost. After all, Diamond’s own father gambled her away once. What other terrible fates might await her if people knew she existed?

Seth Stendahl is an alchemist with a middling proficiency in the Rohesian tongue. After growing up with and surviving six sisters, there shouldn’t be anything too difficult for him to master – except maybe breaking his leg and being locked in the top of a ruined watchtower.

This is Rapunzel with a twist like you’ve never seen it before.

Find it online at: Amazon || Goodreads

Explore the rest of the series: Goodreads



The Author


Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who loves being the wife to her favorite person ever, mommy to two precious blessings, a piano enthusiast, a dragon buff, a serious bookworm, and an INFP synesthete. Fairytales have always fascinated her, and she has made it her goal to rewrite as many as possible and become known as the “Grimm Dickens” (i.e. mixing Grimm fairytales with a Dickens style). Diamond: A Rapunzel Story is her third published fairytale retelling. You can find out more about her on her blog, A Synesthete Writer.

Find her online at:  Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram || Amazon





Interview With Kirsten Fichter

1. Hello, Kirsten! Welcome to the blog! To start out, can you tell us a little about yourself? Who you are, favorite hobbies (other than writing), favorite books (outside your own), coffee or tea?
Hello, and thank you so much for having me! I grew up the second of six homeschooled siblings, but I am now married to my best friend who’s currently working on his PhD in theology; I’ll be a doctor’s wife in a few years! *winks* Most of my time is taken up being mommy to two precious kiddos, a 2-year-old daughter and a 7-month-old son. I love all things dragons, I enjoy playing the piano, and I’ve memorized just about every Disney song out there. I’m a big fan of Kit-Kats, and I take a little coffee with my creamer, thankyouverymuch.

When it comes to books… Charles Dickens and J.R.R. Tolkien are without a doubt my favorite authors; I love big, thick, juicy books that REALLY explore worlds and characters. I love reading and I’m addicted to second-hand books. It’s hard to say “no” in thrift stores when you find amazing stories for $3 or less! Thus, I do not have enough bookshelves to house my collection.

2. Ha! I have that problem too! Now, looking at your book: what originally inspired Diamond, and what additional inspiration did you find in the process of writing the book? 
Rapunzel has long been a favorite fairytale of mine, so I always knew I was going to retell it. While I was working on Spindle Dreams (book #2 of my series), a missing child kept popping up in my head, and I knew she was the key to unlocking a villain for both books. And then came the age-old question: WHY? Why was this child missing? Who was she? What would happen if she wasn’t the one in the tower? From there, ideas just catapulted out of control.

My additional inspiration came right at the end of my planning/beginning writing stages – I found political tensions that were not quite resolved from the previous book that needed attention. I was not planning on politics showing up in this book, but the tensions soon became pretty crucial for the plot. And then one of my characters showed up with an interest in alchemy after I’d binged on Disney’s Tangled and the succeeding TV series – and so alchemy became a big part of the book as well.

3. Cool! Rapunzel is one of my faves as well, and I keep thinking that I should check out the Tangled show. Beyond just inspiration, what challenges did you deal with in writing this book, and how did you overcome them? 
One of my biggest problems with this book was getting into Diamond’s head and character. I am big on writing dialogue and arguments when it comes to discovering characters, but Diamond doesn’t have a lot of people that she can talk to. Thus, I had to learn who Diamond was by simply watching what she did, rather than listening to her talk. And let me tell you, that was rough. I tried to focus on her thoughts, trying to discover why she did what she did, while at the same time bringing her to life and making her seem real for the readers.

4. That definitely is a major challenge. However, advice is often a way we can get past challenges. What's the most unusual or unique piece of writing advice you've ever received? 
My dad always told me, “Don’t fall in love with your own writing.” Even though I enjoy the books and adventures I put together, I always need to remember that a writer is always learning. There is always room to improve. No draft will ever be absolutely perfect, but you can’t let that stop you. Keep looking for ways to better your writing and keep practicing.

5. That really is good advice! Now, for a fun question: if the main characters of your book suddenly came to life in your living room, what would they do, and how would you react? 
First off, I’d be super flabbergasted and really not know what to do for a few minutes. Then, I’d probably offer everyone coffee or water or tea. And then sit awkwardly trying to think up things to say to them. That may sound odd, but I’m a true introvert, and if it’s not writing, I struggle with words. *shrugs* I can see most of the characters trying to weasel my plans for their futures out of me, and they would probably not be pleased with my answers – not that I would want to tell them everything, of course.

6. Ha, yeah. That is true. What is your favorite place in which to write? (Physically, I mean, not in the story.) 
I struggle with writing around people. I get way too distracted, so I typically retreat to my bedroom for solitude. I’ve done a lot of writing straight from my own bed. Ideally, I’d love to camp out on the porch and write outside, but I get distracted with birds, and the wind, and… pretty much everything. Finding good time to write has become problematic in the last few years since I have two kids, so I’ve learned to use naptime to its fullest potential.

7. I can imagine that would be a challenge. What do you plan to work on next? What can we expect to see from you in the future? 
I’d love to have the next few books in this series out within the next few years, and I’m really excited about where these characters are taking me! I’m excited to announce that I’ll be retelling Snow White and Rose Red for the next book, and we’ll be following Diamond’s adventures for a bit longer. I have several other retellings plotted for the series, but I’m not able yet to pin down where each book will fall in my overall timeline. One day, I’m hoping to break into the traditional publishing world with some thick books that will do Tolkien and Dickens proud.

Thank you so much for having me! This interview was a lot of fun!

What do you think of the Daughter of Blood and Misfortune? Are you intrigued? Please tell me in the comments! And don't forget
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Tour Stops for May 19

Kendra E. Ardnek – Special Announcement 
Kirsten Fichter – Easter Eggs in Diamond 

Interviews: 

Dreams and Dragons – Kirsten Fichter 
Books, Life, and Christ – Kendra E. Ardnek 

Reviews: 

World of Chronicles – Diamond

View the full list of tour stops here! 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

A Twist of Rapunzel Tour: Interview With the Daughter of Blood and Misfortune

Hey'a, everyone! It's a two-post, two-tour week; today we're back with the Twist of Rapunzel double release tour! This tour features Kendra E. Ardnek's Misfortune and Kirsten Fichter's Diamond. And for today, we have an exclusive interview with one of the main characters of Misfortune, the Daughter of Blood and Misfortune. (Yeah, it's a mouthful.) in addition, we'll have another interview with Kirsten Fichter here this coming Tuesday, and you can find my thoughts on Misfortune over on Light and Shadows. So make sure you check out all of those — after the interview.

About . . .

The Book

A Twist of Adventure #4

The day she was born, her kingdom fell, and so she was branded the daughter of blood and misfortune and locked away. Now a dragon plagues the land and her curse may be the only thing that stops it.

But is she really cursed?

Find it online at: Amazon || Goodreads

Explore the rest of the series: Amazon || Goodreads





The Author

Kendra E. Ardnek is the self-proclaimed Arista of Fairy Tales. She lives in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her dragon babies and massive herd of mini-giraffes, and she is still waiting for one of of her fifty nutcrackers to come to life and marry her. When not writing, you can usually find her sitting in a random box, and she’s frequently known to act before she thinks.

Find her online at:  Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || YouTube || Newsletter || Instagram || Amazon

Interview With the Daughter of Blood and Misfortune

1. Welcome, um, Daughter of Blood and Misfortune? That's quite an interesting name; can you tell us where it came from, and possibly a little about yourself as well?
It's not a name. I don't have a name. I was born in the place of a seventh son, and thus instead of a bringer of good luck, I am a vessel of misfortune. My country fell on the day of my birth. I ruin everything I touch. I have to keep to myself and protect the world from my bad luck.

2. Well. That's tragic. I'm sorry. How about the other characters in your story? Can you tell us a bit about what you think of them?
Some of the priests are nicer to me than they should be. The prince is far, far too nice to me.

3. I think I like this prince. What is one thing that you think most people don't know about you?
That I exist? I'm hidden away in a temple, where I can stay away from people and not cause trouble.

4. That's fair. If you could leave your tower and be instantly transported anywhere in the world (or any world, in fact) for a day, where would you go and what would you do there?
Oh, I'm in the safest place I can be already. I don't want to go anywhere. I don't want to hurt people.

5. Ok . . . how about other times? If you could go back in time and tell your ten-year-old self one thing, would you do it, and what would you tell her?
I just want to hold myself - I'm bad luck already, so I can't hurt myself - and tell myself that it will all be okay, that no matter how miserable I am, it's for the good of others so they don't have my misfortune. It took me a long time to learn.

What do you think of the Daughter of Blood and Misfortune? Are you intrigued? Please tell me in the comments! And don't forget
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tour Stops for May 16

Kendra E. Ardnek – Top 10 Rapunzel Retellings. 

Interviews: 

Dreams and Dragons – The Daughter of Blood and Misfortune 
Rambling Rose – Kendra 

Reviews: 

Live. Love. Read – Diamond

View the full list of tour stops here! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Moonscript Blog Tour: Spotlights!

Hey'a, everyone! As promised, I'm joining up with the blog tour for Moonscript, H.S.J. Williams's magnificent new novel. I am SO EXCITED that it's here and I not only get to read it, but I also get to yell about it to all of you. Today, I'm going to tell you a little bit about the book and why I love it. (It's not a full review, mind you, just some quick points — go hit up my other blog for my full thoughts.) I'm also going to share about some of my favorite characters in the book because I didn't get to do all the Instagram/FB character spotlights I hoped. It's going to be great. But first, the official word on the book and author:

About . . .

The Book


"It is said that Darkness is empty and whatever vanishes into its depths is lost forever. I know this better than anyone. For I have suffered here in the shadows, and there are none who might find me."
Seventy years. Seventy years the elven prince has been lost to the darkness, assumed dead by his people and endlessly broken for a book that connects to the hidden realm of his ancestors, a land untouched by evil.

And now a light in the shadows. A chance for freedom. But those willing to help him come from the unlikeliest of worlds.

The orphan girl, yearning for a loving family, and the boy who won't leave her side. A healer maiden given an unexpected chance for a life beyond narrowed expectations. A grieving creature flown far from home.

They all search for something and now their fates are tied to his. If their quest for life can pull him from the dark mire in which his soul drowns, then perhaps he can be saved.

Or else he will drag them all down to a fate worse than death.
The beginning of an epic saga, MOONSCRIPT is a journey of innocence, despair, and redemption.

Seven illustrations by the author exclusively included in the paperback edition! 
 Find it on: Amazon || Kindle || Barnes & Noble || Book Depository || Goodreads

The Author

From the beginning, H. S. J. Williams has loved stories and all the forms they take. Whether with word, art, or costume, she has always been fascinated with the magic of imagination. She lives in a real fantastical kingdom, the beautiful Pacific Northwest, with her very own array of animal friends and royally loving family. Williams taught Fantasy Illustration at MSOA. She may also be a part-time elf.

Find her on: Art Page || Instagram || Facebook || Pinterest






Quick Thoughts on Moonscript

  • Moonscript feels like a combination of The Silmarillion, The Tales of Goldstone Wood, and The Songkeeper Chronicles. It's awesome.
  • On that note, I feel like you can definitely tell that the author is a Silmarillion nerd and not just a Lord of the Rings nerd. The influences of both are evident, but yeah. (I mean, technically she's a general Tolkien fan, but I digress.)
  • The book is very focused on family and friend relationships, which I absolutely love.
  • The book's spiritual elements are handled super well. I don't think I've read a book where overlap between the spiritual and physical felt so natural since Goldstone Wood and Karac Tor.
  • It's just a really good book, ok? Read it.

Favorite Character Spotlights!

All art is by the author; please appreciate how gorgeous it is. She's legit one of my favorite artists I know. I have some of her art as my phone wallpaper and lock screen just so I can look at it periodically and appreciate the beauty and the fact that I know such an amazingly talented person.
 

Errance is the main character and our resident Tortured Elf Prince and Slightly Burnt Cinnamon Roll. He's an actual disaster and a hot mess, but I love him. For one thing, though he does get a little angsty, he has good reason — he has truly magnificent amounts of trauma, poor baby. But his character arc is so satisfying, and so is watching him develop friendships and other relationships with various other characters. Also, it's a weird sort of refreshing to have truly justified angst.



Tryss is another major character and the one I think I would get along with best out of everyone in this book. She's the mum-friend, but she also has a well-developed sense of and desire for adventure. She's practical, but with an appreciation for the wonderful and strange and beautiful and yeah. She spends a lot of time trying to take care of others, but never so much that it overwhelms who she is. If she were real, I think we'd be buddies.



Coren and Zizain are partners in adventure and smuggling, and they're kiiiiiiiiinda my favorites in the book, especially Coren. Coren is clever and daring and bold and adventurous and has a keen sense of dramatic style that I heartily appreciate. And Zizain is also daring and cheerful despite a tragic past and is astonishingly friendly. She's lovely.  



The Daisha is also awesome, something like a cross between a dragon and a cat, with many of the best traits of both. She's the last of her kind, which is tragic, but she doesn't really waste time moping around. She is very ready to tell everyone else when they're being stupid, which I heartily appreciate, and is absolutely loyal, which I also love. 



Finally, Leoren and Casara are minor characters, but I wanted to mention them because they're such sweethearts. Leoren is a bit of a tangle of anxiety trying to help everyone and do the right thing, but he's also willing to stand and act when the time comes. And Casara is a delight; like Tryss, she spends a lot of time caring for everyone, but in a different way. I don't know. I love them a lot, ok?

Are you excited for Moonscript? Which characters are you most excited to meet? Please tell me in the comments, and don't forget to stop by the other blog tour stops!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

May 7th

H.S.J. Williams—Tour Launch

May 8th

Light and Shadow—Book Spotlight
E. Rawls—Book Spotlight

May 9th

Tracey Dyck
Elizabeth’s Universe—Book Review
Grace M. Morris—Book Spotlight

May 10th

Allison’s Well—Book Spotlight
Amelia Nicole—Book Spotlight

May 11th

Ester S. (Instagram)—Book Spotlight
Imperial Scribis—Book Review

May 12th

Liv K. Fisher
The Labyrinth—Book Review

May 13th

Dreams & Dragons—Book Spotlight
Bookish Musings—Book Review

May 14th

Unicorn Quester—Author Interview
Embers Reviews—Book Review

May 15th

Unicorn Quester— “3 Reasons Why” Video Review
Writing in Rivendell—Book Spotlight
Sarah, Plain & Average—Book Review

May 16th

Jane Maree—Book Review

May 17th

Jemma the Dragon Slayer (Tumblr)—Book Spotlight
The Bookish Raven—Book Review

May 18th

Words of Hannah Kay—Book Review
Purely by Faith Reviews—Book Review

May 19th

Functionally Fictional—Book Spotlight
Jenelle Schmidt—Book Spotlight

May 20th

Beka Gremikova—Book Spotlight
Seven Billion Smiles—Book Review

May 21st

Today by Bryn—Tour Conclusion & Art Gallery
 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Forging the Fellowship Tag!


Hey'a, everyone! So, it has, in fact, been actual ages since I did a tag. I think. Let me check.

Ok, so apparently "actual ages" means "slightly less than six months." Or, if you include my other blog, right around two months. In all fairness, though, one of those months was March, which we all know was secretly a full year stuffed inside a month-sized suitcase. Anyway. Jem Jones tagged me in the Forging the Fellowship blog tag (created by Julia at Lit Aflame), in which you forge your own Fellowship out of book characters. Sounds fun, yeah? I think so, and thus I'm doing it now before I forget about it.

On a side note — over at Light and Shadows, I'm joining the blog tour for H.S.J. Williams's Moonscript, which just released yesterday. I'm sharing my full thoughts in this week's Friday 5s post, but the long story short is that it's an excellent book and you all should go buy it. Also, check back here on Wednesday for another post about the book. We'll see what it's going to be; I haven't decided yet. Anyway. ON WITH THE TAG!

1. [The Ring Bearer]: If you could choose, which of the four races would you be: Elf, Dwarf, Human, or Hobbit?
Ok, first of all, who the pumpernickel made me the Ring Bearer? I am a terrible choice for this for so many reasons. (Not least of which: I'd probably lose the thing. And then someone would be like "Sarah, where's the One Ring?" And I'd be like "Well, I had it when I was trying to find that one notebook . . . um . . . maybe it's in the box with the other notebooks? Or the other box with the notebooks? Or my desk drawer? Or buried in the piles of stuff on my desk? I don't know."

Anyway. If you asked me this five years ago, I would've said elf without hesitation. And it's still a strong consideration. But, let's be real, I'm much more hobbit-like. 

2. [Gandalf the Grey]: A wise/powerful elder/mentor character:

Fun fact: apparently I have somehow never written a "favorite mentors" list, at least not that I can find. I'm not sure how that happened in a full six years of weekly list posts, but yeah. So this question just got that much harder.

That said, I'm going with a bit of an unconventional choice: a character who's actually primarily known as a protagonist, but who grows into a mentor to other characters after a while. Who is this? Sapphira Adi from Bryan Davis's Oracles of Fire and Children of the Bard series, specifically from just before the CotB era, when she's had quite a bit of leadership experience on top of her several thousand years of life experience. While not my favorite mentor or my favorite character in general, Sapphira Adi, as an Oracle of Fire, does have the wisdom to lead a group, the spiritual discipline and power to deal with all the nastiness and terrifying enemies associated with the One Ring quest, and the patience to handle everyone else being overdramatic and ridiculous.

3. [Aragorn]: A character with good survival skills:
This one's an easy choice! We're calling in Errance from Moonscript! As a half-Celestial, half-earth elf, he's very at home in the wilderness, and as the story proves, he's a very capable defender of both himself and others. Granted, the fact that he'd have minions of Darkness after him particularly might make the quest a little difficult . . . but, let's be real, we're going to have enemies aplenty anyway. What's a few more?

4. [Boromir]: A character who makes mistakes, but has a good heart: 
It's more like "one fairly major mistake" than mistakes plural (and therefore a bit of a stretch, but I want him on the team), but we're picking Artham Wingfeather of The Wingfeather Saga for this category. Specifically, Book 3 (or late Book 2) Artham. Or possibly post-series Artham. Anyway. Artham is probably my favorite character from the Wingfeather Saga, and yes, he did have a pretty major moment of weakness, but, y'know? That doesn't change the fact that he's loyal and courageous and loving when it matters most.

5. [Gimli]: A stubborn character:
Stars, who wouldn't fit this category? I'm pretty sure that if there's one defining trait all my favorite characters share, it's that they're all pretty stubborn. (Keep in mind that determined and stubborn are synonyms, yeah?) So, who will it be? After much thought, I'm going with Robin from the Bookania Quests. She's definitely very stubborn, but in a reasonably levelheaded way. (Or, at the very least, she's not angsty. She's very straightforward, honestly.) She's capable, she's clever, she's a masterful swordswoman, and she lets exactly nothing stop her from accomplishing her goals.

6. [Legolas]: A character who is talented: 
Ok, is there actually any question here? If I'm assembling my own quest team, it absolutely has to include Bard Eanrin of the Tales of Goldstone Wood. Eanrin is a cat-faerie of many talents, including, but not limited to, singing, poetry, creating distractions, being a cat, annoying the forces of evil (and sometimes also the forces of good, but y'know), and denying his feelings/lying to himself for years on end. As a bonus, this means we have two of my favorite fictional poets (Artham and Eanrin) in the same party, which I think sounds great.

7. [Peregrin Took]: A character who at first seems useless, but ends up surprising you:
So, I had a pretty major debate for this spot: Steris from the second era of Mistborn? Or Matrim Cauthon from the Wheel of Time series? Both of them fit very well. I mean, "initially seems useless but surprises you in the end" sums up Steris's arc very well, and it's part of the reason why I love her so much. As a bonus, all the things that make you underestimate her are the things that prove essential in the end. (Plus, if she joins the party, then Waximillian Ladrian has to come along and I get a bonus gunslinger/Misting.)

And then Mat plays a very Pippin-ish role at the start of his series — the prankster, the one who touches things he's not supposed to, so forth — but even by Book 5 (which is the last one I've read; I need to get back to the series; don't judge me), he's coming to his own as astonishingly resourceful, skilled, and intelligent — all backed up by some serious luck.

In the end, though, I would probably pick Mat for one simple reason: he's familiar with the type of world we're dealing with. Steris (and Wax) are from a world that's a bit more Old West/Victorian-esque. Mat, on the other hand, is from a medieval-esque world that's much closer to Middle Earth in terms of cultures and technology and all that. So, he'll be able to adapt much more easily to this new location. (On a side note, we're getting Mat of anytime after about the halfway point of Book 3, but ideally Book 5.)

8. [Meriadoc Brandybuck]: A character who is small/not very strong, but has great courage:
Let's go back to an old friend and get Kale Allerion from the DragonKeeper Chronicles on this quest. Granted, by the end of the series, Kale is quite capable as a wizard, dragon keeper, and warrior, but we're calling specifically on Book 3 Kale, who's competent but still has a fair bit of learning to do. As a bonus, Kale brings with her a watch of clever, colorful minor dragons, all of whom also fit this category. Huzzah!

9. [Samwise Gamgee]: A character who is extremely loyal and doesn’t give up:
Adolin. Adolin. Storming Adolin Kholin. Absolutely, no question. He has many, many excellent qualities (he was second choice for a talented character, after Eanrin), but one of his best qualities is his loyalty — to his family, to his friends, to his duty. He makes a habit of standing by people in desperate situations. Of never giving up. And if you know him and you don't agree, I'm sorry, have we read the same book? When his father is going mad, when the world is being turned upside down (and then upside down again, and again, and again), when his friends are falling apart — he's there. Even when he's hurting as deeply as anyone else, he's standing up and keeping everyone else going and looking for hope. And so who else could I pick for this spot?

How would this group do on an actual quest? It's hard to say, and a lot of it depends on how broody Errance decides to be and how well Artham and Eanrin get along. I feel like those three would take up most of the attention while the rest of us quietly got stuff done. (That is, until we got attacked, at which point everyone is very helpful except me and half the group ends up showing off because, quite frankly, when you have a terrifyingly competent elf prince, a Throne Warden, the best swordswoman in the world, and an extremly skilled Shardbearer and duelist in the group, they're probably eventually going to get to the point of trying to show each other up. And then you have Sapphira Adi and Kale throwing around fire and wizardry, respectively, and Mat being like "Light burn these people, so extra" while being intensely extra himself. And I'm just like ". . . Imma hide and not die now, ok, thanks. Lemme know when it's safe to come out.")
 

And now we come to the part of the show where I tag people. Um. We're going to tag Deborah O'Carroll (when she comes back from hiatus) and beyond that, if you want to do this, consider yourself tagged. I can't keep track of who's actually still blogging and who's on hiatus and who still does tags and who doesn't. So. Yeah.

If you decide to do this tag, you need to:
  • Include the tag banner in your post
  • Link back to the creator of the tag ( LITAFLAME.BLOG )
  • Thank and link back to the person who tagged you
  • Forge your Fellowship out of BOOK CHARACTERS by answering the given questions!
  • Tag three bloggers to pass the ring to. 
And here's a clean copy of the questions:
1. [The Ring Bearer]: If you could choose, which of the four races would you be: Elf, Dwarf, Human, or Hobbit?
2. [Gandalf the Grey]: A wise/powerful elder/mentor character:
3. [Aragorn]: A character with good survival skills:
4. [Boromir]: A character who makes mistakes, but has a good heart:
5. [Gimli]: A stubborn character:
6. [Legolas]: A character who is talented:
7. [Peregrin Took]: A character who at first seems useless, but ends up surprising you:
8. [Meriadoc Brandybuck]: A character who is small/not very strong, but has great courage:
9. [Samwise Gamgee]: A character who is extremely loyal and doesn’t give up:

Even if you don't feel like doing the tag, what do you think of my choices? And who do you think you'd pick? Please tell me in comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

April 2020 Doings!

Well. That month probably existed. I mean, I'm 90% sure it did and it wasn't just a mass hallucination since a couple reasonably significant things happened in it. But since I may look back in the future and have my doubts, let's get going with recording the Doings!

Writing!

  • My goal for April Camp NaNoWriMo was 30,000 words, 15K of which were in Blood in the Soil/Earth, and 15K of which were in other projects — namely, D&D, a white paper about NaNoWriMo, and my capstone paper. And I'm happy to say that I pretty much achieved that, with a grand total of 36,046 words at the end of the month. Plus, I actually wrote every day in April, which makes me happy! (It helps that I really wanted to get those writing streak badges on the NaNoWriMo site.) I hit my official Camp goal on April 25, the same day I finished drafting my capstone. (As it turns out, including your 15-page academic paper in your Camp wordcount is a great way to boost things up and keep yourself from getting distracted from said capstone.)
  • My wordcount per project wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. I ended up with only about 13K words in Blood in the Soil/Earth and a bit over 2K in other projects. Again, a lot of that was because I spent a few days working on my capstone and only my capstone, plus I slowed down on everything once I hit my goal. (I did flirt with the idea of trying to hit 40K, but decided I had too many other things that needed my time and energy.)

Reading!

  • So, yes. Another low reading month. On the upside, four out of the five were really good books, and the last one wasn't bad.
  • On Stories, Adorning the Dark, and Orthodoxy were all for my capstone. I can't recommend the first two highly enough; if you are a writer or you want to be a writer or you enjoy creative pursuits in general, you need to read them. They aren't "how to write" books, but they have a lot of wisdom and insight and are generally very enjoyable to read. I was less impressed with Orthodoxy, but I was also reading it on a time crunch and frustrated by the fact that it wasn't as relevant to my actual capstone as I wanted it to be. (Also, I was tired and couldn't appreciate it as much as I wanted to.) I may have to come back to that one at a later date when I'm less exhausted.
  • On the fiction side, I read Moonscript (which I had as an ARC) and Empress of All Seasons (which was also an ARC, but one I won from Emma of Awkwordly Emma). I'm in the blog tour for Moonscript, so you'll hear quite a bit about it in a week or two — though I have been helping Hannah share character art on Instagram, so if you've seen that, you've seen a bit of my fangirling. For the moment, suffice it to say that it was excellent. Empress of All Seasons was a bit less impressive; part of the problem may have been my mood, but I got frustrated with too many things to say I really loved it. I am glad I got to read it, though, and there were some interesting elements.
  • Update on reading goals: I'm at 21 books read out of a goal of 99, which puts me 12 books behind schedule. Part of the issue is that Cedarville canceled Blind Date With a Book this year, which is when I do a lot of reading, plus March was 99% madness. Hopefully, I'll catch up over the summer. I'm doing better on my other goals. After this month's capstone reading, I'm at four books outside the speculative fiction genre (out of a goal of twelve such books). And I'm at a total of six books published before I was born, one of which (Orthodoxy) was published all the way back in 1908! Plus, I've found out that one of the libraries I have an account at has a sizable e-collection of Chesterton, so I may give some of his other books a try.

Life!

  • This was a weird month in that I was really busy, but not a lot really happened.
  • Obviously, with the quarantine on, I've spent most of my time at home. As such, pretty much all the stuff that happened was either baking, class, or D&D-related.
  • The one thing that happened that didn't involve staying at home was driving back to Cedarville at the very start of the month so my sister and I could get our stuff from our dorms. It was not a fun trip, but it also could've been much worse. We also ended up getting a flat tire about an hour out from the hotel where we were staying, which was . . . interesting. I was minimally involved in the whole thing; I was in the other vehicle, and I did not get out to help my dad and sister change the tire because, quite frankly, it was cold and I didn't think I'd be much help and the gas station we stopped at was kind of sketch. Thankfully, we were able to get the tire fixed the next morning in time to go load up our stuff. In general, it was just a lot of driving (and then a lot of packing and unpacking in between the driving).
  • On the college classes front: this month was a lot of final and close-to-final projects and papers and such, all of which turned out really well! I got to pull off a lot of crossover between classes and aspects of my life: my capstone is about how story influences faith (and vice versa), my final project for graphic design involved a lot of writing and a fun bit of near-future sci-fi storytelling (which my professor apparently loved; it got me one of the best grades I've ever gotten in any of his classes), my final Report Writing project was, as I mentioned earlier, a white paper about the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, my honors capstone pulled a lot from my PWID professional project that I did earlier in the semester, and I managed to work some JavaScript into my Web Design final project (which was supposed to be just HTML and CSS).
  • Finals week was also a weird mix of chill and not; I only had one final exam (Graphic Design I, of all things), but I had a presentation and basically two papers and two projects, which took up a lot of time. I made it to the end, though, and now I've officially graduated Cedarville with a proper degree. (I'm supposed to get my actual diploma by mail in a few weeks.)
  • Obviously, we couldn't have an actual graduation ceremony for reasons of the pandemic. But Cedarville did put together an online video ceremony/recollection/speech thing, so that was a pretty good substitute.
  • In terms of baking: I would like to point out that I was on the sourdough bandwagon first, thanks. And I've actually been doing less bread baking than I normally would because all the stores are still out of bread flour, so I'm only making things that I think I can risk using all-purpose flour for.
  • Still, I've been doing a bit of baking. A short list of the food-based adventures:
    • Replica Bertucci's rolls at the start of the month (SO GOOD).
    • Soft sourdough rolls for Easter — also very good, and they worked very well for ham sandwiches.
    • Crusty sourdough rolls. I made the double batch; they were yummy, but they used a TON of flour, so next time I'm just making a single and making the rolls smaller.
    • Sourdough crumpets — actual crumpets this time, with biscuit cutters taking the place of crumpet rings. They were DELICIOUS, a bit like a cross between an English muffin and a pancake, but better.
    • And, just yesterday, flatbread pizza with apples and cheddar cheese and sourdough chocolate cake. Yes, you read that second one correctly. It didn't turn out quite as well as I hoped, mostly because we mixed by hand when we should have used a mixer, but it wasn't bad.
  • Finally, on the D&D front: the climax of my campaign's second season has been stretched from its intended two sessions into three due to my players not even considering what I thought was the obvious choice. (In all fairness, said choice involved asking more questions of a character whom everyone had agreed was kind of a prat, so it may not have been as obvious as I thought.) So, we've been kind of taking the long way round and accidentally doing things on hard mode. We're all enjoying it, though (except for the part where the poor paladin who got stuck in the middle of the group in a stairway battle and had to just hang out using her wand of magic missiles until people could move out of the way).
  • And in the other D&D campaign, we've dealt with the whole orc situation (with mixed success) and now it's my character's turn to have backstory-related plot stuff. So that's going to be interesting. I'm excited, but my character is not. (She started adventuring primarily to get certain family members off her back, and she enjoyed not having to deal with those family members on a daily basis, even if she did sometimes miss her younger siblings. And now that she's going to have to deal with those family members again, she's probably going to be falling back into old habits a bit. It's going to be a very interesting challenge for me to roleplay, and it's going to be pretty confusing for some of the other players, because however much my character is frustrated with her family members, they're still her family, and she will defend them to the death even as she argues with them.)
  • On the downside, the other major thing that happened this month is that the fast router we've been using for WiFi got shut off. Thankfully, it lasted for most of the semester, but now I'm trying to figure out how to do stuff when we're on more limited data. Normally it's not a problem; I just go to the library whenever I need to do something internet-heavy. But, obviously, all the libraries are closed now . . . But yeah.

May Plans

  • Obviously, the next big thing for me is finding a job, something that kind of went on hold when the pandemic hit. I have one possibility from before the pandemic, but for the most part, it's going to be a lot of searching. I have some new sites to search for remote work, so that's exciting.
  • The other big thing is working on my novel. I haven't been really pushing myself on the novelling front, mostly because I've always had five other more imperative things to think about. Now that I actually do have more free time, I plan to get busy, which means hopefully finishing it sometime in the near future. (Not sure exactly when. Much like Mechanical Heart, it's a story that I originally intended to be fairly short, but which is turning out to be a bit of a beast.) To that end, I'm setting a goal of 25,000 words on Blood in the Soil/Earth or a thousand words a day, which should be doable but will still force me to stretch my writing muscles a bit more. (I was originally thinking a full 30K, but I've missed several days of writing, and this will give me time to catch up.)
  • The D&D group I run is going to be meeting a little more sporadically for most of May, both so I can sort out my internet situation and so I can work on the next season and a half's session plans. To that end, my other writing goal is to write three episodes over the course of the month and to come up with and write summaries for another three. (For context, my method is to write summaries of D&D episodes as I come up with them so I don't forget what I was going to do, and then I use those to write the actual episodes.)  Generally, D&D episodes aren't hard to write, but they do take time, so this one may get adjusted depending on how other things go.
  • In addition to job searching, I hope to get in contact with the people I've worked internships for before and see if they need an extra writer/designer on deck. I don't want to overload myself with job searches and writing also in the mix, but I do want to try to get some income sooner rather than later.
  • (I also should take this time when I can't be on social media a lot to figure out some proper social media and marketing strategy for author things. I've been saying that for a while at this point; maybe it'll finally happen now.)
  • And, of course, I have the usual assortment of fun things — reading, baking, watching movies and shows, and actually playing D&D (including a potential new campaign?) — that I want to fit in somehow. Here's hoping that I can get my hands on some bread flour soon.
How are you holding up under the pandemic? Did you do Camp NaNoWriMo (and if so, how'd it go)? If you're a college student, what are your plans now that the school year is either over or almost over? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah Pennington