Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Music!

Christmas is almost here- there's less than a week left to wait! To make the time go faster, I thought I'd share about one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season: the music. I'd happily listen to Christmas music all year round, except that then it wouldn't be Christmas music anymore. (Also, my family holds to the "no Christmas music before Thanksgiving" thing.) Anyway, for your enjoyment, here are seven of my favorite Christmas songs!

1. "The Promise" by Michael Card
If any Christmas music could be given the title of "epic", I think it would be this song. It's beautiful and, in a way, powerful. I just love everything about it: the melody, the lyrics- especially the chorus- and the whole feel of it. It also sounds like something that could be sung by one or two of my favorite novel characters, which is a bonus- not many Christmas songs have that distinction.

2. "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" by PureNRG
I don't think a lot of people have heard of this song, which is sad, because it's really awesome. I love how triumphant it sounds, particularly the last verse.

3. "Joy to the World" 

This is actually one of the first Christmas songs I remember learning. When I was a really little girl- maybe four or five years old- my Sunday school class (and maybe the class above mine as well) learned four Christmas songs to sing in front of the church. This is the one that's stuck with me the most. My favorite part is the third verse, though it seems to be left out a lot (at least in my experience). It's a great reminder that, even if the world is messed up, it won't be forever.

4. "Merry Christmas" by Third Day
This is just a really sweet song. It and two other similarly themed songs- "All I Really Want" by Steven Curtis Chapman and "This Christmas" by TobyMac- are some of my favorite modern Christmas songs just because they're so touching. They also remind me of some of my novel characters, coincidentally. (Though, as I think the songs came first, maybe the songs influenced my creation of the characters and I just didn't realize it . . .)

5. "Christmas Ceilidh" by Celtic Christmas

I discovered Celtic Christmas music about two years ago, and it- like most Celtic music- is lovely. This is the only song I could find on YouTube from my favorite Celtic Christmas album. (This one, by the way. It's super cheap to download it digitally; I definitely recommend it.) Thankfully, it happens to be one of my favorites from the album. I love the pictures it creates in my mind of the friends gathered for their Christmas celebration, their singing and enjoyment of one another.

6. "Carol of the Bells" by BarlowGirl
To me, this song sounds really eerie for a Christmas song, but that's why I love it. It gives me this image in my head- almost a story, but I can't quite turn it into words yet. I imagine the darkness gathering, trying to snuff out the light- but it's stopped by the bells and their reminder of the Light. Or something like that. Eventually I'll figure it out- I hope.

7. "Christmas is Coming"- traditional
  I like the Danny Byram version best, but it's not on YouTube. This one is pretty good, though. It's just a fun little song, and I can imagine it echoing from one corner to another of a busy village square in some English town of a hundred-odd years ago. (It'll also get stuck in your head, and you'll likely be humming it the rest of the day. You're welcome.)

What are your favorite Christmas songs? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books/Series I Read in 2014
Book-wise, 2014 was a really awesome year. I discovered new series to love, branched out into a genre I usually wouldn't consider, and added Brandon Sanderson to my top three favorite authors. My reading adventures took me from the Shattered Plains to Middle Earth, from the Gallagher Academy to Adarlan, from Goldstone Wood to Newcago, and so many other places. I met new character-friends and revisited old ones. With all that, choosing my Top Ten Books- or even Top Ten Series- of 2014 will be difficult, but I'm going to try my best. (Though . . . I may go a few over just ten.)

1. Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.
This book was insanely amazing. There is one Tale that I like better than it, and that one is Heartless. I stayed up until almost midnight on a school night reading it, and I never do that. Never. Except, obviously, for this book. If you want to hear me obsess over it more, you can read my review.

2. The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
The Mistborn trilogy was mind-blowing. I'd be reading them, and I'd be like "Ok, this is really cool" one minute, and then the next I'd be like "Oh my pumpernickel what just HAPPENED?" I saw next to nothing coming- and yet I'd think about it and realize that the clues were there; I'd just missed or misinterpreted them.

3. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
Like Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive is seriously mind-blowing. The worldbuilding, the twisted and tangled plots and backstories, the characters- it's all seriously incredible and definitely deserving of the title "epic". Also, Words of Radiance evoked the largest emotional reaction of any book I've ever read. I am not exaggerating. 

4. Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
This wasn't my favorite of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, but it was still awesome. It's hard to say a lot without giving out spoilers, but  . . . Time is a very interesting thing. Also, I never thought I could like Foxbrush as much as I did in this book.

5. The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
This series isn't quite like anything I've ever read, which is part of what makes it so amazing. I love the characters, especially Eugenides. Also, the author has a way of giving you just enough information that you think you know what's going on and then springing a twist on you with that one piece of information that you didn't know. My favorite in the series was The King of Attolia, but they're all awesome.

6. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
I've read a lot of books about dragons, but none portray these magnificent (if sadly fictional) beings in quite the same way Seraphina does. Rachel Hartman takes traditional dragonic features, gives them little- but powerful- twists, and then adds in new elements to create a very unique take on dragons, which I loved. I also liked the mystery in the story; it was very well done.

7. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Superheroes gone bad? Sounds awesome- but that's only the start. Add in amazing characters- Cody and David in particular- a dystopian city of steel, and Brandon Sanderson's insane plotting skills and you get this amazing book. If you like action or superhero stories (or even if you don't), you should definitely read this book.

8. Cress by Marissa Meyer
These books just keep getting better! Cress is definitely my favorite Lunar Chronicles heroine- maybe because she's so much like me. I loved just about all of this, particularly the ending- no spoilers, but it was beautiful. Except for the cliffhanger, which was . . . not so beautiful. But it was worth it. 

9. The Knight and Rogue series by Hilari Bell
A good fantasy-mystery can be hard to find, which makes the Knight and Rogue books that much better. I heard about this series several times from a friend of mine, but never tried it until this year. Oh, am I glad I finally picked it up! Really getting into the first book took a chapter or two, but once I'd picked up a few things about the characters and setting, I really enjoyed it, and the next two books are awesome.

10. The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis
Bookish girl gets stuck inside a book? It sounded like it would be right up my alley, and it was! I especially loved the idea of characters in books having lives of their own (and the explanation of why, in some books, you're always discovering details that you didn't remember before), and of what might happen if they rebelled
against their Author.

11. The Hollow Kingdom trilogy by Clare B. Dunkle
This trilogy reminds me of Howl's Moving Castle in some ways. It's lighthearted, humorous fantasy with just the right twist of unexpected romance. The characters were great, particularly Marak, and I liked the somewhat unusual take on goblins and elves and their rivalry.

12. Five Glass Slippers by Elisabeth Brown, Emma Clifton, Rachel Heffington, Stephanie Ricker, and Clare Diane Thompson
Five unique Cinderella retellings in one book? What's not to like? Each of the five stories is awesome in its own way. My favorite is "The Windy Side of Care"- I love the dialogue, the characters' plotting, and the twist of humor.

Honorable mentions go to the Girl of Fire and Thorns series and the Throne of Glass series, both of which are also awesome but have some romantic stuff that's borderline on what I'm comfortable with. (I had to skip one scene in particular in the second Throne of Glass book.) What about you? What were your favorite books of 2014? Please tell me in the comments, or feel free to make your own Top Ten Tuesdays post!

Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Shelfies to Share

Back in November, the lovely Katie Grace tagged me with the Shelfie Tag. I'd seen the tag floating around the internet for a while, and thought it looked really fun, so getting to it for myself was pretty exciting. I haven't been able to get around to it for a while because of NaNoWriMo and Christmas preparations, but I finally have the shelfies to share with y'all!

I'll start with the bottom two shelves of my larger bookshelf. This is where I keep all my classic books, other than LOTR.

The next shelf up contains more variety in terms of genre than the entirety of my other bookshelf.
From left to right, we have: biographies, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and a few how-to books. (Also, yes, I have The Dangerous Book for Boys despite having only girls in the house other than my dad. It was a dollar and looked like it could be useful for story research.)

The top two shelves of this case also contain a conglomeration, though with less variety of genre.
On the top we have fairytale retellings and similar, as well as three Ranger's Apprentice books that wouldn't fit on the shelf below. The second shelf contains dystopian and/or sci-fi books and most of the Ranger's Apprentice series.

Now we move on to my other (smaller) bookshelf, which is devoted exclusively to one genre. I'm sure you can guess which genre it is.
Bryan Davis is the only author whose books get a shelf all to themselves, mostly by virtue of his having written more books than any other author I read other than Brian Jacques, whose books occupy the next shelf down. The Inheritance Cycle books also reside on this shelf, since I know I won't be getting any more Jacques. I own almost all of his books, and most of those I don't own, my sister does Also, fun fact: the only one of the books on the lower shelf that I bought new was Redwall, which is almost hidden behind Mattimeo. The rest? Library book sales (aka the best place ever to find cheap books, at least in popular series).

This is the top two shelves of the smaller bookcase. The upper contains mostly Tolkien and Batson, with a few other authors. (The empty space is where Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers should go, but my sister is currently borrowing those books.) The lower shelf contains various Christian fantasy.

Finally, my desk has two shelves, which are partially occupied by books and partially taken up by miscellaneous other items.
The right side of my desk contains photo albums, devotionals, and two Bibles on the top section, which is usually guarded by my Gandalf and Bilbo Christmas ornaments. (They're too awesome to put in boxes all year. After this Christmas ends, Thorin will join them.) Below them are some of my notebooks and folders and such. All those black notebooks have already been filled- they're the first drafts of my fairy tale retellings and the third and fourth Berstru Tales. The rest are still waiting to be used.

And finally, my favorite section of shelves, despite the fact that it's the smallest:
Goldstone Wood and Brandon Sanderson. I'd put Tolkien here too and have all my favorites together, but I didn't want to run out of room. I predict that one day, this section will have taken over the entire top shelf of my desk- and except for the fact that I'd then have to find somewhere else to put the other books, I look forward to that time.

I hope you all enjoyed that little tour of my shelves! Now it's time for me to nominate others for the Shelfie Tag. I choose:
Charlotte of Winding Passages
Jag Swiftstorm of From a Jagged Inkwell
And if you're reading this, haven't already done the tag, and want to participate, feel free to do so! I'd love to see your shelves!

Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Random Fridays: Winter 2014/2015 Reads
NaNoWriMo is over, and that means we're back to the regular schedule of posting: Random Fridays, Top Ten Tuesdays, and whatever other posts I happen to come up with. Today's Random Fridays theme is Winter 2014/2015 Reads. Since I have a lot of books I want to read in the next few months, I'm going to stick with highlighting the new releases coming out this winter (and one that releases in late fall but I know I won't actually read until winter).

1. The War of Swords by D. Barkley Briggs
It's here! Here! Already! The last book in the Legends of Karac Tor series! I guessed that it would take a lot longer for The War of Swords to come out, but it's here! And I'll finally get answers! (I'm still wondering about Cruedwyn Creed, thank you very much. And Gabe as well, but mostly Cruedwyn because I didn't read a word of him in The Ravaged Realm and I need answers.)

2. Fairest by Marissa Meyer
I want Winter. I really do. But as I have to wait for that, I will content myself with Fairest. I'm sure it'll be good- all the other Lunar Chronicles are- and it'll be interesting to read Levana's story. 

3. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
Yes, yes, yes, yes. I need this book- now, preferably, but I can live until January when it actually comes out. Steelheart was awesome (is there such a thing as a non-awesome Sanderson book?), and the ending . . . I have to find out what happens, particularly with Megan.

4. Dearest by Alethea Kontis
I was more than a little worried for a while that Dearest wouldn't be released at all- but, yay, it's coming in February! I'm definitely excited to read it. Alethia Kontis's fairy tale retellings have been really good so far, and I've never seen a remake of "The Seven Swans" before.

Short list, I know, but this and the already-released books I want to read will be plenty to keep me busy. What are you hoping to read this winter? Please tell me in the comments, or feel free to make your own Random Fridays post! 

Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Want to join in the Random Fridays fun? Feel free to make a post of your own on the week's topic! Please just be sure to use the Random Fridays banner, link back to Awkwordly Emma, and post the link to your post on the Awkwordly Emma blog so other participants can check out your post. For a list of future Random Friday topics, click here

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Best Blogging Buddies Award

Hello, all! Ghost Ryter of "Anything, Everything" nominated me for the Best Blogging Buddies Award- which, by the way, sounds like a tongue-twister. Anyone who can say it three times fast gets virtual cookies. This award doesn't have a banner, but it does have a mascot: Dave the Blogging Buddy Owl, who is adorable.

I want to hug him. Now.
Anyway! These are the rules of the Best Blogging Buddies award:

  • You must post to show the award on your main blog.
  • You must tag the person who nominated you, in your post.
  • You must tag all of your best buddies, and those whom you want to become best buddies with, who, to your knowledge, have not been nominated, for this award.
  • You must ask your buddies at least fifteen questions on your post.
  • You must answer all of the questions your buddies ask you. On your post.
This sounds like fun. I love answering questions- though I'm pretty sure I've told y'all that already. So, let's get started!

1. What is you favorite aspect of blogging? 
Um. I have to choose just one? I suppose I'd have to say sharing my thoughts with others and then reading their responses in the comments.

2. Your least favorite?
Struggling to come up with topics to post about when I don't have TTT, Random Fridays, or NaNoWriMo to help me. 

3. What's one of the best books you've read this year? 
Not a fair question, precious! I read a lot of awesome, amazing books this year. Buuuut if I have to pick one, I'd have to say Golden Daughter. It was incredible.

4. Describe yourself in five words. 
Daydreaming bookworm and aspiring author.

5. If you were supreme ruler of the world, what would be the first thing you'd do? 
Organize my dominion so that I didn't look like a dictator.

6. What Disney character do you relate to most? (Yes, I did just ask that.) 
Belle, of Beauty and the Beast. We share a love of books and a desire for an adventure or something else outside our ordinary lives. 

7. Do you have many siblings? 
Nope. Just one. 

8. Think of a book, any book at all. Now, what's one thing you would change about that book?
The first book I thought of was Golden Daughter . . . but I can't think of anything I would change about it. No, wait. I just thought of something. I'd insert myself into the book somehow so I could be present for . . .  something. Preferably something that wouldn't get me killed.

  9. Who is one of your biggest role models? (Besides the obvious answer.) 
Hmm . . . probably my mom. She's amazing.

10. Autumn or spring? 
Autumn. Spring's better for photography, but autumn has NaNoWriMo, two birthdays, Thanksgiving, and the start of the Christmas season.

11. What's a yet-unreleased book or movie you are really excited about? 
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is the top movie I'm looking forward to, for obvious reasons. I'm also going to go see it with a bunch of friends from TPS (online school I take German at), which pretty much doubles my excitement. For books, I'm really excited for Poison Crown by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and for The War of Swords by D. Barkley Briggs.

12. Realistic fiction, or speculative? Why? 
Speculative! I've always loved fantasy and fairy-tales. They appeal to and fuel my desire for adventure, and they provide an escape from the ordinary. 

13. What is one of your favorite non-fiction books? 
Er . . . I read very little non-fiction, but I guess I'll say Walking With Frodo. It's a devotional book by Sarah Arthur based on The Lord of the Rings, and it's probably one of my favorite devotionals I've ever done.

14. What's something happening this month that you are really excited about? 
Christmas, of course! I have a lot to get done- cards and presents to make and buy, the second half of my Advent poem to write, and more- but Christmas is one of my favorite holidays.

15. Alright then; the last question. You have just had a mysterious ring of great power that can turn the wearer invisible entrusted into your care, and told that it must--must--be destroyed at all costs. What are you going to do?
Not put the ring on, for one thing. And start looking for Gandalf. Or elves. Or hobbits. Or a map to Mount Doom. Oh, and practice a lot more with my bow and arrow, because I'd definitely need it.

Now, my questions:
1. It seems to be tradition, so . . . what's your favorite part about blogging?
2. Is there a song stuck in your head right now? If so, what is it?
3. What's your favorite Bible verse?
4. If you could trade lives with any fictional character for a day, who would you trade with? And at what point in his/her life?
5. What's your favorite Christmas song?
6. What's your least favorite Christmas song?
7. What's the next book you're hoping/planning to read? (For fun, not for school.)
8. Which book/movie villain would you most want to show up on your front doorstep?
9. If said villain showed up, what would your reaction be?
10. If you could have any superpower, what would you pick?
11. What's your favorite place to read/write?
12. Are your bookshelves organized? If so, how?
13. What's one odd quirk of yours?
14. What's one recently written book that your grandchildren will be assigned to read in high school? (Or, to put it another way, what's one recently written book that you think will become a major classic?)
15. Do you like even or odd numbers better?
16. What's your favorite kind of chocolate? 
17. What are you going to do after you finish this tag?

I shall tag:
Ryebrynn of Ryebrynn's Random Ramblings 
Emma of Awkwordly Emma 
Rayne Speryll of Writing in Rivendell 
IDK323 of World of Panin 

Thanks for reading, everyone! And thanks again to Ghost Ryter for tagging me! I hope you all enjoyed reading this!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)            

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is here again, that time when we enjoy family and friends and remember all the ways we've been blessed throughout the year. I definitely have a lot to be thankful for, and I thought I'd share some of them with y'all. So, here are some things I'm particularly thankful for right now:
  1. An overabundance of books. In past years, I've often gone long stretches with very little new to read. Since I don't mind rereading books, this isn't terrible, but in the past year, I don't think I've had this problem at all. I've always had at least a few new books to read, and actually ran into the opposite problem- too many new books- once or twice. And quite honestly, having too many new books isn't really much of a problem, and if it is, it's one I'm happy to have. 
  2. On that subject, I actually have time to read again. Right now I'm reading Five Glass Slippers, a collection of Cinderella retellings, and it's lovely. Next on my list is either The Word Changers or Out of Sight, Out of Time, depending on my mood and how long it takes me to finish up Five Glass Slippers
  3. Roleplays! I love roleplaying, and in this past year, I've been a part of a lot of awesome ones. One particular highlight is the Star Wars RP on The Underground, which I've been more active in lately than I used to be. The superhero RP on that same site is also really awesome- and it's restarting now, so yay! On the TPS forums, the Keepers RPG is probably my favorite one that I'm actually active in. They're all fun, though, and it's great to be roleplaying more.
  4. On the subject of roleplaying, I'm better at it (and writing in general) than I was 3-4 years ago. I've been copying/rereading one of my favorite roleplays on The Underground, the Battle! thread, and it's bringing back a lot of fun memories. However, it's also made me realize something: I was not as good at roleplaying as I thought I was. Comparing my more recent posts with my older ones, I think I've definitely improved- at the very least, my average posts no longer consist of "She smiled. '(dialogue).'" Also, my characters are no longer quite as melodramatic. (Note: I'm not saying melodramatic characters are bad. I know some people who do quite a good job with them. However, 3-years-ago-me didn't handle them quite as well as she thought she did.)
  5. School is no longer trying to kill me on a semi-daily basis. Overall, the school year thus far has gone well, and I expect that to continue through the rest of the year. All my subjects but one have been either about what I expected or better, and the one (literature) is getting better unit by unit. Admittedly, the second half of the year is often harder than the first- but hopefully it won't be too bad. 
  6. I'm very close to finishing at least two stories. One is my NaNo novel from this year; the other is my April Camp NaNo novel from this year. Both are within 5-8 scenes of being finished, I think. I also have my April Camp NaNo novel from last year that needs finished, but that one's a bit further away from being done. Once I finish the other two, though, I can give it more attention and hopefully it'll be done by the end of the school year. 
  7. I don't live in the 1800s. That's the time period I'm on in history right now. It's interesting, but I'm much happier in the 21st century.
  8. I can start listening to Christmas music tomorrow. 'Nuff said.
What are you thankful for? Please tell me in the comments!
Happy Thanksgiving!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day 25

Wordcount: 51624
Words Written Today: 2677
Words I Still Need to Write Today: 0!
Writing Music Obsession: 1 Hour of Early Middle Ages Music and 2 Hours of Fantasy Music.


I wasn't expecting to get this much today, since I kind of slacked off this morning. I knew I was almost there, but the forums seemed much more interesting at the time. However, I decided that I wanted to finish up the fantasy crawl I mentioned on Saturday, and that got me more than enough words.

Now that I've hit 50K, I kind of want to take tomorrow off from writing and spend all day catching up on my reading instead . . . and then keep doing that the rest of the month. But, I'm only a scene or two away from the climax of the novel, and I really want to finish it this month or close to the beginning of December. So, I think I'm going to try to keep writing, though probably not at such a fast pace.

How's your NaNo Novel going? Are you almost done? Not there yet? Wherever you are, don't give up!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day 22

Wordcount: 45662
Words Written Today: 1362
Words I Still Need to Write Today: 305
Writing Music Obsession: Lindsey Stirling
Can you believe it's WEEK FOUR already? I can't; it seems like November is just flying by! I hope everyone's on track with their wordcount. If not, maybe this post will help: the topic is wordcount crawls. What's a wordcount crawl, you ask? Well, it's basically a series of writing challenges- word wars, word sprints, and so on- arranged in the form of a story. I like using them for a boost after I've accomplished part or all of my required wordcount for the day. The series of smaller challenges (and sometimes not-so-small challenges) really helps break down a lot of words into not-so-intimidating chunks. So, without further ado, here are some crawls I think are worth checking out.
  1. The Dice Bag Mini-Crawl. This is a pretty easy crawl. It doesn't take super long- I finished the entire thing in under two hours, and I'm a slow writer. There also aren't many timed challenges, which is good for handwriters and slow typers. Also, the challenge amounts usually aren't too large unless you're very unlucky with your dice rolls. I got 1667 words out of it, but the amount can vary depending on what you roll and how far behind in your novel you are. It doesn't have much of a story, but I kind of like that; there's less to distract you. If you want to try it but don't have all the dice, you can use this virtual dice-roller, which seems to work pretty well.
  2. The RPG Crawl. This is probably my favorite of the wordcount crawls I've done, as well as the only one I've done twice. It's difficult, but not too much, with some nice variety in the challenges. If you're a handwriter or slow typer, the first section will be a little aggravating, since it has the only two timed challenges in the crawl. However, neither has super-serious consequences if you fail (you miss out on two potions, which allow you to skip a challenge later on, and you have to write an extra 200 words), and the rest of the challenges are fine. I also like the unpredictability that the dice rolling brings. The story isn't the most amazing of the crawls I've seen, but it's not bad either.
  3. The Fantasy Crawl. This is the crawl I'm currently working on. Typers will definitely have an advantage in this one, since a lot of the challenges are timed. However, the author of the crawl seems to do a good job balancing out later challenges so that slower writers don't constantly have the longest challenges. You also have the option to write for a certain amount of time instead of doing word wars, which I appreciate; waiting for someone to be ready for a word war is a good way to make a writing session less productive. The story is also pretty fun, which is nice.
  4. The Doctor Who Crawl. I'm not a Whovian, but I might do this crawl anyway. It looks like fun, though it also looks like it would be pretty challenging if you're not lucky. It also has the best story I've seen in any wordcount crawl- and I've at least looked at all but the Harry Potter ones- so that's a bonus. (If anyone decides to do this, let me know what you think, particularly about how challenging it is, please!)
  5. The Hunger Games Crawl. Yes, this is every bit as brutal a crawl as it sounds. However, it's also incredible for major wordcount boosts. How incredible? Well, when I did this last year, I died at the very beginning of the Arena section (which is the largest part of the crawl) and I still got at least 3K words. So, if you type/write faster than I do (and therefore have a better chance of survival), I wouldn't be surprised if you got twice my score- or more- in total.
Also, here's one last set of prompts for the month, just in case you get stuck. (Though, since most people should be wrapping up their novels by now, I'm not sure how necessary these are . . .) Enjoy!
  • Life is a musical.: Write a scene in which one of your characters randomly starts singing. Cookies if he/she manages to get others to join in.
  • Is that who I think it is?: Give one of your favorite characters from another story (either by you or someone else) a cameo. 
  • Not all tears are evil.: Write a scene where characters part way- the reason is up to you. (If you need to get into the mood, just go listen to this.)
I hope you enjoy the crawls and the prompts! As always, let me know if you do any and how it turns out. Good luck this last week of NaNo, and have a great Thanksgiving!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Word War!

This is the official post for today's word war! As a reminder, it'll run from 3:00-4:00 PM EST. Feel free to join in!

Confused about what a word war is? It's pretty simple: a word war is a competition to see who can write more words in their story or novel in a certain amount of time. The winner gets bragging rights; everyone gets writing done. It's awesome. If you have any other questions, just ask in the comments.

When the time's up, just post your word count in the comments. I'll officially announce the winner tomorrow (or Saturday, in the event that I don't post tomorrow for whatever reason).

Good luck, and may the words be ever in your favor!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day 18

Wordcount: 36214
Words Written Today: 1651
Words I Still Need to Write Today: 16
Writing Music Obsession: 1 Hour of Epic Music (Brunuhville version)

First of all, I'm planning to host a word war on my blog from 3:00-4:00 PM EST on Thursday, November 19. I hope this time will work for everyone; if it doesn't, let me know and I'll try to reschedule.

Second, a friend of mine requested a "Write so many words if . . ." for the Avengers movie, since she liked my LOTR version. I thought others might enjoy it as well, so here it is!

Write so many words if . . .
  • Two of the Avengers argue: 75 words
    • More than two are in the argument: +5 for each additional person
    • Steve and Tony are arguing: +25
  • Loki uses the spear to try to take control of someone: 100 words
  • Someone is released from Loki's control: 50 words
  • Someone says one of your favorite quotes: However many words are in that quote.
  • There's a fight/battle scene: 100 words
    • +10 words for every Avenger involved
    • +50 words if Loki's directly involved
    • +20 words if two or more Avengers are fighting each other
  • Someone mentions Coulson's trading cards: 25 words
    • +10 words if it's Coulson himself
  • Tony tries to provoke Dr. Banner: 25 words
  • Someone jumps into something without a plan: 75 words
    • +10 if it's Tony
I hope you enjoy it! Let me know how it goes, as well as whether or not you'll be able to participate in the word war!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Golden Daughter Review

When I picked up Golden Daughter, the latest book in Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Tales of Goldstone Wood series, I wasn’t sure what to expect. (This was probably just as well, since Anne Elisabeth has, in her last few books, made a habit of turning my expectations on their heads.) Golden Daughter sounded like it would be very different from the other Tales, and in many ways, it was. However, it’s every bit as amazing. 

For fans of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, Golden Daughter is a book full of questions asked and answered. We discover more about people, things, and events we’ve heard about in other books, like Una’s ring and the Night of the Moonblood, though some of these discoveries, like what we learn of Sunan (previously seen in Goddess Tithe) are only smaller pieces of a much larger puzzle. Even newcomers to the Tales will be able to enjoy this book, however. Though there are many, many references to other books in the series, Golden Daughter is a complete and independent story in its own right. 

As I mentioned earlier, Golden Daughter is quite different in some from many of the other Tales of Goldstone Wood. It’s set far from Parumvir and Southlands, in Lunthea Maly and the surrounding country, which I very much enjoyed. Though I love the countries we’ve seen previously, it was really fun to explore somewhere new. Golden Daughter also has a more mysterious, suspenseful feel than the other Tales, which I also really liked. 

Another favorite aspect of Golden Daughter is the characters. I’ve talked about Anne Elisabeth’s gift for character creation before; even the minor characters seem incredibly alive and real. The population of Golden Daughter is no exception. My favorite character was definitely Sairu. She’s an incredible contradiction: determined and deadly, yet fun, clever, and lovable from the first time we meet her. Eanrin was also awesome; I think I love him more with every Tale he appears in. Moving on to much-less-lovable characters, the Dragon reappears as main villain for the first time since Veiled Rose. I was very excited to see him again; the Dragon is one of my all-time favorite villains, and he’s every bit as chilling and evil in Golden Daughter as I remembered him from previous books. 

I did have a slightly hard time getting into this book at first. It started off a bit slowly, and certain characters turned me off until I figured out that I didn’t have to like them. Then the twists started coming, ushered in (for the most part) by Jovann and Eanrin, and the slow beginning was all but forgotten. Once again I learned the folly of thinking I could predict the path of one of the Tales of Goldstone Wood; each time I thought I knew how the rest of the story would play out, I was proven wrong. By the end of Golden Daughter, I was so captured by the story that I stayed up until eleven at night to finish it. 

Be warned, though: Golden Daughter is not always easy to read. There is heartbreak and tears and yelling at characters. There is failure and death and seeming certainty of defeat. But in the mist of all this darkness, there is light. There is hope. There’s a promise that good will overcome in the end. There’s a beautiful, powerful, message that shines all the more for the darkness it’s held against. And that, most of all, is why I love Golden Daughter. 

In conclusion, Golden Daughter is an amazing addition to the Tales of Goldstone Wood, and my favorite Tale since Heartless. Both newcomers and experienced Goldstone Wood fans will love this book for its amazing characters, stunning plot, and beautiful, inspiring message. It’s a book that you’ll want to read over and over again.