Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hobbits, Dwarves, and other news.

Hello, everyone! I know, it's been a long time since I've updated. Not much has happened until this past week, and Procrastination has been winning all our battles. However, today, I finally have something blog-worthy:

I SAW THE HOBBIT!!!!!!!!!!

As many of you probably know, I'd wanted to see The Hobbit once it came out pretty much since I found out it would be coming out. I was originally hoping to (read as: wanting to but was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to) go to the midnight premiere, but I'd kind of given up on that by the beginning of this past week. That was probably just as well, since I was sick and short on sleep on Thursday night. I then planned to try to go see it with my friend sometime this coming week, but on Friday afternoon, my wonderful daddy surprised me by asking if I wanted to go see it with him! My answer, of course, was YES!

I absolutely loved the movie of The Hobbit. They did change a few things, and they added in quite a bit (especially in the way of orcs), but it was all good, especially since one of those added-in parts was the story of how Thorin got the surname Oakenshield. (The story can be found in The Book of Unfinished Tales, and it's one of my favorite stories in that book.) Another part I loved was the Riddles in the Dark scene, which happens to be one of my favorite chapters in the book. I also liked the Misty Mountains song (or the little I heard of it), and I wish they'd sung the whole thing.

I wish I could share my two favorite (very inspiring) quotes from the movie. Unfortunately, they're both near the end, and they'd both be something of spoilers. I will say that I absolutely loved Bilbo and Thorin. Actually, I loved all the dwarves. In the book, few of the 13 dwarves are particularly memorable. In the movie, however, you can't help remembering them. Each seems very much his own person, with his own stories outside of the general take-back-the-mountain plot. Of the dwarves, I think Thorin and Kili were my favorites.

In other news, Daddy gave me the job of making the calender we send out every year to some of his family, and that's been going well. I've been working on it since Wednesday, and I only have 4.5 months left to do. (I have the pictures and all for March; I just need to arrange them.) School has been going ok, though I'm glad Christmas break is approaching.

Last night (Saturday, December 15) was my Youth Group Christmas party. It was a lot of fun. We did a gift exchange like a White Elephant gift exchange, except that all the gifts had to be something you would want. I brought a McDonalds gift card in a jar of candy (Mommy's genius idea), which turned out to be a big hit. I ended up with two movie tickets, which I think you can all guess what I'll do with them. (The Hobbit just came out, and I've already said how much I love it, after all.)

Well, that's about it. Thanks for stopping by!

Isusarad 'elir!*
- Sarah

*"Merry Christmas" in Elvish

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Hello, everyone! Who can guess what this post is all about?

Yep, that's right! I won NaNoWriMo 2012! That means that I wrote 50,000 words. It's actually 50,120 words, to be exact. I still have a little more of my novel to write before it's actually finished plotwise, but nowhere near as much as I had left when I finished my Camp NaNoWriMo novel in July.

In other news, Thanksgiving was very fun. We had a sort of potluck Thanksgiving dinner with our Bible Study, which was awesome. One of the families has a smoker, so we had smoked turkey, which is pretty much my favorite kind of turkey. Mommy made butterhorns and these turkey cookies that involve Rice Krispie treats, Oreos, frosting, and candy corn. Both were very, very, very yummy. After we were finished eating, my friends and I played Settlers of Cataan and two games of Phase 10. I also enjoyed seeing one of my friends who I haven't seen for several months.

The day after Thanksgiving was spent mostly in shopping and putting up the Christmas tree. We put the Christmas tree in the corner this year, instead of in the middle of the room, and I think it actually looks better that way. I also decided that this year, I'm going to write my own Advent calender. The main reason for this is that most of our Advent calenders have been done at least a half-dozen times each (or so it seems), and we've done my favorite one so many times that I've memorized it.

In other news, I plan to start listening to the Blood of Kings series, which the friend I mentioned earlier recommended to me. The author, Jill Williamson, did a free podcast of her reading the books, so I was able to download those. Now I just need to find some kind of project to work on while I listen to them. I've also been reading the Sherlock Holmes short stories. I'm really enjoying them, though I very rarely even come close to solving the mystery. Once I finish Sherlock Holmes, I'm going to reread the Legends of Karac Tor series. I read this series over the summer and very much enjoyed them.

Well, that's about it. Thanks for stopping by!
- Sarah

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Birthday and NaNoWriMo

Hello, everyone!It seems that my blog is mostly dead . . . at least with this post it'll be slightly alive! I apologize for not posting more. I think you'll understand why when you take a look at this:

That, in case you can't tell, is my NaNoWriMo word count, as of 3:45 PM today. Very spiffy, no? I'm having a ridiculous amount of fun with it too, especially since I'm currently pretty close to the climax. And have I mentioned lately how much I love some of my characters? (Particularly Gwen and Emma Alyron?) It does keep me fairly busy, though. Most days, I aim for about 1,800 words. As you can see, my average is a little above that.

However, NaNoWriMo isn't the only thing going on around here, though it might seem like it is sometimes. A few days ago, I celebrated my birthday! I had a lot of fun. My dad and I went to the Botanical Gardens in D.C. in the morning. Since it's an indoor garden, there were still lots of nice plants and flowers to take pictures of. I'll make sure to post pictures once I finish editing them. It'll be a few more days, though, since I only just started editing today.

Later that day, my family and I went to Anita's for dinner. Anita's is a New Mexican style restaurant that I love. I had a Taco and Taquito Dinner, which was very yummy, especially since it had been an extremely long time since I had a taquito. 

After dinner, we came home to eat cake and open presents. As you may recall, I got a recurve bow back in July, which was actually a very early birthday present. On my actual birthday, I also got a Barnes&Noble gift card, a box of chocolate covered cherries, The Princess Bride movie, and the Hobbit movie calender! I was extremely excited about the movie and calender. The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, and I think most people know how obsessed I am with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I absolutely love the calender pictures too. July has the absolute coolest picture of Elrond I've ever seen; he looks very action-y and yet very wise at the same time. That's kind of how I originally pictured him when I first read about him in The Hobbit: incredibly wise, and yet incredibly powerful. December's picture is of Legolas, complete with bow and arrows. I'm not sure if I like the elf or the bow better. The one thing I don't like about the picture is that Legolas is wearing black, and I just don't usually picture him wearing that color. (Aragorn or Elrond, sure. But not Legolas.) The dwarves are also growing on me, especially Thorin, Kili, and Bofur. I still don't like Nori's hair, though. 

After I opened presents, we had cake. Mommy made me a chocolate-cherry cake that looked like one of the notebooks I write my stories in. I was going to post a picture, but they're all on Daddy's computer, unfortunately. We also had cherry-chocolate chip ice cream with the cake, which was very yummy. Then we watched The Princess Bride. I think I like that movie more every time I watch it. After that, it was late, so I went to bed. All in all, it was an excellent birthday.

Well, that's all for now. Thanks for stopping by!
- Sarah

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo Excitement and Other News

Hello, everyone! It's almost Halloween, and guess what that means? It's nearly time for . . .

Yep. that's right. NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as "30 days and nights of literary abandon", otherwise known as "one of the two months in the year where Sarah goes slightly crazy with excitement and it's actually a good thing". (The other month, if anyone was wondering, is July, which is Camp NaNoWriMo.) Believe it or not, I'm more excited about NaNoWriMo than I usually am about Christmas or my birthday. (Ok, maybe not Christmas. The excitement there is probably about equal. But I'm definitely more excited about it than I am about my birthday, which happens to be drawing near.)

This year, of course, I'm about four times as excited about it than I was last year. Why? Here are the reasons:
♥ My plot and characters. I've wanted to write this plot for several months now, and my characters are some of my favorites I've ever created. This is my plot for this year:
Emma Alyron isn't fond of the danger and adventure so many of her siblings seem to relish. That's why she and her mother moved away from Alyron Village and to Port Metre in Beylend so many years ago. Now, with her mother dead, Emma is alone, friendless, and defenseless. She doesn't mind too much- at least she's safe . . . for now.

Meanwhile, Emma's ne'er-do-well brother, Jared, is in trouble once more. Having run up more debts than he can pay, he's fled from his creditors and headed straight to Port Metre, where he hopes his luck will change for the better. It seems to have when he runs into Emma and falls in with a group called the Circle of Eight, but soon he begins to wonder if he's jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

To make matters worse, Gwen Alyron and the Firhirt siblings are on their way south, in search of another Alyron brother, Jake. They too run into Emma, much to the consternation of both Emma and Gwen, neither of whom is very fond of the other. Gwen and the Firhirts' search is cut short, however, when friends arrive with news of a terrible emergency. Thanks to Jared, Emma knows a secret that could be the key to solving the emergency, but will she share it and not only help Gwen, but become permanently entangled in what she's been running from for so long? And that's not her only secret . . . will she risk everything for this? Find out in Secrets and Searches, the third book in Leilani Sunblade's Berstru Tales series.
 For the record, "Leilani Sunblade" is my username on two forums: The Underground (which I'll be talking about again later) and the NaNoWriMo YWP (young writer's program) forum. 
♥ As I think I've mentioned, I'm doing it on the official site this year. Basically that means that I have a place where I can get help from other NaNoWriMo participants when I get stuck. And if I get my novel finished and edited in time, I have the opportunity to get five free copies of it.
♥ One of my favorite authors, Wayne Thomas Batson, is also doing NaNoWriMo! Even better, the book he'll be writing is Dark Sea Annals #3! For those who don't know, the Dark Sea Annals series is pretty much my favorite Wayne Thomas Batson series of all time. Book 2 in the series, The Errant King, also has the double honor of being my favorite book by Batson, as well as having one of the most awesome covers I've ever seen. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I learned about this! (This paragraph was actually two reasons for why I'm quadruply excited for NaNoWriMo this year, by the way.)

In other, non-NaNoWriMo-related news, I recently received the honor of being chosen as a Sentinel (moderator) on The Underground, one of the three forums I'm on. The Underground is a forum based on The Berinfell Prophecies, one of my favorite series. Needless to say, I'm pretty happy about it, and I enjoy being able to help on the site. The other moderators are all quite busy and don't have as much time as they used to, which is part of why they were looking for a new Sentinel.

Editing my Camp NaNoWriMo novel is going well. I hit the 2/3 mark this morning, which I'm happy about. Since the last third of the novel is probably my favorite part, I'm hoping it'll go a little faster than before. Of course, I won't get it done by NaNoWriMo, but I'm hoping I'll be close enough to being done that I won't have much to edit after November and I'll be able to start editing my NaNoWriMo novel soon after finishing it.

Finally, I watched Ever After last night with my family. I enjoyed it, though I like the Narnia and Lord of the Rings movies better. I'd probably put it about on par with The Princess Bride. I'm hoping that we'll have time to watch another movie on Saturday, preferably one of the longer ones that we were going to watch last night but didn't because didn't have time.

Well, that's about it. Thanks for stopping by!
- Sarah

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Terrible Shriek of Princess Carrie du Kaye

Once, long ago, in a land far away
There was a fair princess called Carrie du Kaye
It cannot be denied that she was quite good
At doing the things all princesses should-
Like dancing and sewing and being polite
(Even to people she didn’t quite like)
And playing the lute and singing so sweet
And keeping clothes and hair so nice and neat.
But one thing about this princess just must be said:
When it came to a fuss, she could not keep her head!
At the mere sight of blood she’d faint dead away.
(Once she didn’t wake up for a night and a day!)
And if the smallest of bees should be flying around,
She’d scream and she’d cry until all heard the sound.
So, knowing this knowledge, it’s no wonder, you see,
That when one day a dragon dropped by at tea
And carried her off, away through the sky,
Princess Carrie du Kaye let out a great cry.
So very loud and long was her shout on that day
That it scared every bird so they flew far away.
They flew with the insects ‘til they couldn’t hear Carrie’s cry.
But the poor dragon was wondering why
He’d had to pick this fair maiden to snatch-
Surely there were quieter girls he could catch!
Her scream just went on, and for a half-hour he endured
Carrie’s carrying-on, with nary a word.
Then, finally, he thought to himself,
“It’s certainly not worth, it not if she were an elf!”
(Every dragon knows in these parts
That catching an elf is a sign of great smarts.)
“She’s far too loud; I can’t hear myself think,”
This he decided in the space of a wink.
So he turned back around just like that
And took Princess Carrie home in ten minutes flat!
And not even once did he e’er darken her door-
Nor any dragon, forevermore!
So that is the story of how and of why,
Princess Carrie du Kaye, with her terrified cry,
Forced a great dragon to take her home
And, furthermore, to leave her alone.
The moral of the tale: if by dragon you’re caught,
Give Princess Carrie’s tale a short thought
And scream long and loud so the dragon can hear
And hope that your screaming will very much hurt his ears!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Speak Life

Hello, everyone! I'm back, with a new story! This one's called "Speak Life", and it's inspired by the new TobyMac song of the same name. (If you haven't heard the song yet, I advise that you try to listen to it soon. It's a great song.) Anyway, enjoy!       

     Erica woke to darkness so pitch-black she could feel it. It felt like spiderwebs on her skin, tickling and sticky. This, for some reason, thoroughly annoyed her.
      Her annoyance was immediately followed by a half-dozen questions. Where am I? Am I dead, or am I still alive? What am I doing here? Are there others here? Why is it so dark? Most pressing of all was the last question she thought of. And who am I anyway?
      The realization that she couldn’t remember anything except her name was accompanied the cold pinpricks of fear. Erica tried to shrug the fear away, but the question remained: where was she? Who was she? This bothered her even more than the darkness. She had a life, didn’t she? Or she’d had one, if she was dead. She should be able to remember it.
      Erica took a deep breath, and was pleased to find that breathing still seemed to work. She pushed herself to a sitting position, and felt her hands press against cold, rough stone, like the floor of some medieval dungeon. Then, just to make sure she could, she called out, “Where am I?” to the darkness. As she spoke, a grey glow formed in front of her face for a moment like frosty breath on a midwinter morning. The glow quickly disappeared, fading into the pressing blackness.
      Erica frowned. This is odd. Even without her memories, she felt sure of that fact. She tried again. “Anyone else here? Hello?” Another glow, this one a bit larger than the first, though it lingered no longer. Erica frowned. “Come on! If there’s anyone out there, I just want to know where I am!”
      A sigh came from somewhere in the blackness. “Very well.” The words appeared as a pale blue swirl that floated into the darkness some distance before disappearing. “Give us some light!”
      What happened was not so much light breaking away the darkness as it was the darkness growing transparent enough in one spot that Erica could see. About ten feet away, three people sat: a sleeping boy no older than six, an old man seated on a stool with his back against a stone wall, and a young woman a few years older than Erica herself. They were quite obviously family, perhaps a grandfather and his grandchildren.
      Erica, however, cared not for this. She could see someone else, and that someone else seemed to know something about where they were, and that was all that mattered. “Who are you? What is this place? Where is this place?” Instead of forming a cloud, her words appeared like tiny fireflies that zoomed away and circled the young woman’s head before disappearing.
      The young woman sighed again. “I am Emraldra. This is my brother, Lukas, and my grandfather, Markus Key. We are three of those who have wandered into this place and cannot find our way out. As for what and where this place is, we cannot tell you.”
      Erica frowned. “What do you mean, you can’t tell me?”
      “I mean what I said.” Emraldra raised her hands in a gesture of helplessness. “We cannot tell you, for we do not know. It appears as a castle, but if it is a castle, it is impossibly large. I have walked for a week without reaching the other side of it. I cannot tell you where it is, for I do not believe it is anywhere.”
      Erica crossed her arms. “It has to be somewhere, and it has to have an end. Nothing is infinite, and everything has to have a location.”
      “Then perhaps this is nothing.” Emraldra shrugged. “I have told you what I know. I can tell you no more.”
      Something inside Erica suddenly snapped. “You really aren’t very smart, are you,” she spat. “You live here. I’m willing to bet that people you know have died here. And you don’t know where you are. What kind of idiot are you?”
      Each of Erica’s words appeared as a fiery ball before her lips. They flew towards Emraldra like arrows from a bow, striking against her and exploding like tiny fireworks. With every word that struck her, a wound appeared on Emraldra’s arms, back, or face as if someone had struck at her with a knife, or perhaps with a whip. She bore it without a sound, though her face contorted with pain.
      Erica didn’t even notice until she’d finished her tirade. Then and only then did she see Emraldra leaning against the wall, blood oozing from her cuts. Erica’s eyes widened. “What- What happened? Who did that to you?”
      The old man glared at Erica as he stiffly rose from his stool. “Who did that to her?” he growled. “You did that to her, fool girl. And don’t you dare do it again. Emra never did anything to you. She’s too sweet-hearted to. She tried to help you, even. And you hurt her for it. You’re lucky, fool girl. Lucky I don’t have the breath anymore to give you twice what you gave her. Don’t you know that if you speak hate, you speak hurt?”
      Now it was Erica’s turn to be on the receiving end of those fiery balls. Again and again, pain rippled across her arms or back. The darkness grew solid again as she crumpled to the ground. She curled up in a ball, hoping to protect herself from most of the strikes, but by then they had stopped. “I didn’t mean anything,” she whispered. “I just wanted to get out of here. Can’t someone tell me how to get out of here?”
      Erica had spoken so softly she could barely even hear herself. She didn’t expect anyone else to hear her, and so didn’t expect an answer. She didn’t hear one either. But something from the old man’s torrent of angry words had stuck in her mind. If you speak hate, you speak hurt. Speak hate, speak hurt.
      Abruptly, Erica realized what had happened. Words are more than words here. No. That’s not right. They’re still just words. But you can see what they do here. That’s what happened. I yelled at her. And instead of the effects staying inside like they should, the hurt showed on the surface.
      And if that was true, the opposite should be true. If words brought pain and darkness, couldn’t they bring healing and light too? But how do you heal with words? Then, suddenly, Erica realized the answer. She didn’t know how she knew it. She just did. And she knew what she needed to do.
      She pushed herself into a sitting position, doing her best to ignore the lightning-bolts of pain that shot through her. “I’m sorry,” she called into the darkness. Her words formed a stream of golden vapor that floated away and disappeared. “Emraldra, Mr. Key, even Lukas if you know what happened, I’m sorry. I didn’t know-” She stopped herself. “No. I did know. That was why I said them. But I shouldn’t have. I realize that now. Mr. Key, you’re right. I had no reason to yell at Emraldra. No excuse for saying what I did. I deserved every word you threw back at me.” She swallowed hard. “I hope you’ll accept my apology. And maybe, even though I don’t deserve it, you can forgive me.”
      Five minutes of silence passed. Then ten. Erica wondered if her words had been heard by anyone. Maybe they hadn’t. Maybe Emraldra and her family had left. Then, suddenly, Erica heard Emraldra’s voice. “I forgive you.”
      The words appeared in the form of a golden glow that flowed towards and around Erica before disappearing. The pain from the word-induced wounds eased. And Emraldra’s voice came again. “I forgive you. How could I not? I have made the same mistake many times. And I have been forgiven to it. I cannot withhold the same mercy from you.” Her voice grew soft. “Speak love, speak life. Speak life, speak light. Speak hate, speak hurt. Speak hurt, speak darkness. We all have to learn it. And yet, it seems, if we do learn it, we always seem to forget when we most need to remember.”
      As Emraldra spoke, the darkness finally lifted. Erica could see her surroundings now: grey stone walls and floors, extending twenty feet in each direction before coming to a wall. In each wall was a door, and directly across from Erica, behind Emraldra and her family, was a stone staircase. She could see Emraldra, her wounds healed but scars remaining. Erica knew that she had been healed as well. Hurt or heal. Death or life. Funny what words can do.
      Erica stood up and shook herself. Slowly, she crossed the empty space between herself and Emraldra. She extended her hand to the older girl. And, smiling, she said, “Let’s find a way out of here.”
      Her words glowed golden.

In other news, I will be doing NaNoWriMo next month. For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. It takes place every November, and there's a summer version called Camp NaNoWriMo. I'm very excited, both because I'm using a plotline I've been wanting to write for a while and because I got permission to do it officially this year. (There's an actual site for it where you can sign up, upload your word count, and get free copies if your book if you "win", aka meet your goal.) Also, I applied to be a writer for The Scribe Magazine,a teen creative writing magazine. Anyway, that's about it. Thanks for stopping by!
- Sarah