Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Live!

Well, I'm back.

Not that I really went anywhere. But I have been guest-hosting Random Fridays at Awkwordly Emma for the past few weeks, which is why I haven't been doing those here. That's done now, and your regularly scheduled Random Fridays posts will hopefully resume on the first Friday in April. So will Top Ten Tuesdays (for which my only excuse is that I couldn't think of anything to say for the last several topics).

And you know what else is coming up in April? Camp NaNoWriMo. Which, yes, I am doing. I'm hoping to rewrite my novel from November, since it has plot holes big enough for Smaug to fly through. I'm also hoping to actually do some planning before I start writing this time. Why? A large part of it is that I need to figure out what's going to happen in this novel and what's going to happen in the one after it, which was part of why my first try didn't turn out so well. Also, I'll have main characters in at least three different places, which means at least three main plot threads. I can't keep it all balanced in my head. (Of course, I still need to make this outline, but it's going to happen. Trust me.)

I'm also lowering my wordcount goal to 30K rather than the usual 50K. While I'm guessing this novel will be a bit longer than that, I will still have other things I need to get done. This blog, for example. And school. And the ACT test (eep!). And whatever we end up doing at Easter, because no matter what we decide, I probably won't be able to get 1,667 words in that day. So, 30K seemed like a much easier goal to reach.  

In other news, I recently (as in, this morning) finished watching the extended edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and it was pretty awesome! I do wish that Peter Jackson had just left out the whole Azog plotline and instead left in some of the cut scenes, particularly certain White Council scenes that foreshadow events in The Desolation of Smaug. There were also a few scenes- namely one or two of the dwarves in Rivendell- that I was very glad were left out. They were . . . painful. But otherwise, it was good. And I still have lots of bonus materials to watch, probably over the summer. Yay!

What about you? Are you doing Camp NaNo? Have you seen the extended edition of An Unexpected Journey? What have you been up to lately?

Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)         

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Personality Tests

This morning (well, last night, but I read it this morning), a friend of mine posted on his blog about how he'd done the Meyers-Briggs test for several of his characters. I thought it sounded like fun, so I decided to give it a try with the main characters in my Berstru Tales series.

As a note for those of you who don't know, the Meyers-Briggs test asks you seventy-two questions. Then it gives you a four-letter result, which is some combination of:
1. E (Extroverted) or I (Introverted)
2. N (Intuition) or S (Sensing)
3. T (Thinking) or F (Feeling)
4. J (Judging) or P (Perceiving)

Rachelle Firhirt is an ESFJ.  She's decidedly (89%) extroverted, a moderate (50%) tendency of sensing over intuition, a moderate (38%) preference for feeling over thinking, and a very small (1%) tendency of judging over perceiving. I'm slightly surprised she didn't get 100% extrovert, since she's one of the most outgoing characters I have in any of my stories. Other than that, I wasn't very surprised by any of it.

Dustin Firhirt is an ESFJ as well, just barely. He's pretty much balanced between extroverted and introverted, but a tiny bit (1%) more extroverted. He has a moderate (50%) tendency of sensing over intuition, a moderate preference of feeling over thinking (38%), and a strong preference (89%) of judging over perceiving. He surprised me more than any other character . . . until I actually looked up the difference between judging and perceiving. I discovered that "Judging" doesn't mean "judgmental" and "perceiving" doesn't mean "perceptive." According to what I found, judging people prefer order and organization, and tend to plan more, while perceiving people tend to like being flexible and keeping their options open, and tend to act spontaneously. In that case, Dustin is definitely more of a judger.

Hunter Firhirt is an ESFP. He has a distinctive (67%) tendency towards extroversion over introversion, a moderate (38%) preference of sensing over intuition, a definite (62%) preference of feeling over thinking, and a slight (11%) preference of perceiving over judging.  So, no real surprises.
Gwen Alyron is an ISTJ. She's more introverted than extroverted (56%), has a minimal (1%) preference of sensing over intuition, a distinct (75%) tendency towards thinking over feeling, and a strong (78%) tendency towards judging over perceiving. Overall, what I expected her to get.

Ariana Nernathon is an INTJ. She has a slight (11%) preference of introversion over extroversion, a strong (88%) tendency of intuition over sensing, a moderate (38%) preference of thinking over feeling, and a strong (89%) preference of judging over perceiving. I thought she'd tend more towards thinking, but otherwise, no surprises. As a note, she's the only one of the characters I tested who had a preference of intuition over sensing.

Deanna Alyron is an ESFJ. She's slightly (11%) more extroverted than introverted, has a slight (12%) preference for sensing over intuition, a small (12%) tendency towards feeling over thinking, and a decided (100%) preference for judging over perceiving. Like Gwen, there's no surprises there.

Jared Alyron is an ESTP. He has a strong (78%) tendency towards extroversion, almost as strong (75%) a preference for sensing over intuition, a slight (12%) tendency towards thinking over feeling, and a distinct (67%) tendency towards perceiving over judging. The fact that he's a thinker rather than a feeler caught me off guard; Jared is very much one for spur-of-the-moment decisions. However, after further thought, it made sense. While he is very much ruled by his emotions, he also doesn't make major decisions on a whim. He thinks about them- not always as much as he should, but somewhat.

Finally, Emma Alyron is an ISFJ. She's completely (100%) introverted- no surprise there. In all my writing, there's only one other character who's as quiet and withdrawn as Emma. She has a decided (75%) preference for sensing over intuition, a moderate (38%) tendency for feeling over thinking, and a moderate (56%) preference for judging over perceiving. Once more, pretty much what I expected.

Overall, I had a lot of fun doing this, and I think I got to know my characters better through it. I'll definitely keep these results in mind when I return to work on Destinies and Decisions, my current Berstru Tales WIP. If you're a writer, I'd definitely encourage you to try it with your own characters.

Thanks for reading!    
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)         

Friday, March 7, 2014

In Which I Have an Argument With a Bardess

Not too long ago, I found myself having to do something I almost never do: restart a scene. There were so many things wrong with it that I couldn't stand leaving it until revisions. But I decided, hey, if I'm going to do this, why not have a little fun with it and see how it feels to my characters to rewind and reset the scene? I figured it would take no more than a paragraph, but, well, things got a bit out of hand.

[Ok, this really isn’t working. AUTHOR POWERS INVOKED. REWIND INITIATED.]
Suddenly, the room around Dea blurred into a mass of mingled colors and vague shapes. She felt as if she were being pulled backward and yet wasn’t moving at all. The last several minutes began to fade from her mind.
 Ariana’s voice cut through the strangeness. “What is going on?”
[REWIND IN PROGRESS. Nothing you need to worry about, Ariana.]
“I demand an answer!” The world began shaking ever so slightly. “Now.”

[REWIND IN PROGRESS. Ariana. Relax. It’ll be over in a few minutes and you won’t even know it happened.]
Dea wondered who Ariana was speaking to. She herself could hear no reply to Ariana’s demands, yet Ariana was obviously conversing with someone. “What is this, sorcery? You have no right to manipulate us.”

[REWIND IN PROGRESS. Actually, I do. Will you please just relax?]
“Not until I get an answer.”
 The world jerked violently. It stopped moving for a moment and then jerked again as if caught on something. Dea fought a feeling of nausea. She heard a wail from Micah and Cara and Keely’s whimpers, but couldn’t seem to figure out where they were.  

[ERROR. REWIND JAMMED. ERROR. Ariana! Behave! You’re a bardess!]
“Yes, I am a bardess, and therefore, I have a right to know what is happening. I claim the Right of the Talekeeper.”

[Confusticate and bebother you, Ariana.]
Gwen’s voice slid through the jerking. “Ariana? Do you know something about this?” She sounded as unsettled as Dea felt. Other voices- Dustin, Hunter, Rachelle, Abbie- echoed her question.
 Ariana alone seemed to remain unfazed. “I will soon. Do not worry, Gwen. I have things under control.”

[Let it go, you meddling, pig-headed bardess!]
 “That is hardly polite. Tell me.”

[Gah. Fine. It’s a rewind. I’m resetting the scene. Will you let it go already?]
The jerking stopped and the smooth movement resumed. Ariana’s voice sounded cool, calm, and smug. “Thank you.”

[REWIND RESUMED. You’re not welcome. I swear, I’m going to revoke bard and bardess powers.]
 “No, you’re going to write a new story in which you can actually make use of them.”

[REWIND IN PROGRESS. Dragons eat you, bardess.]
“I’ll take that as a yes.”

Suddenly, all memory of the strange experience disappeared from Dea’s mind. The blur around her shifted and resolved itself into a street and a row of nearly identical small three-story houses. Gwen and Ariana stood in the doorway of one of the houses. 
Yeah. Ariana and I haven't been getting along all that well lately. I think it's her version of revenge for something I did to her two books ago . . . Apparently she was more upset about it than I thought. 

What about you? Have your characters ever surprised you in some way? Have you ever had a conversation with your characters? Please tell me in the comments! Also, please check out my guest post at Awkwordly Emma, where I blog about one of my current obsessions: The Tales of Goldstone Wood.

Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesdays: Popular Authors I've Never Read

Hello again! I wasn't sure at first if I'd do this week's Top Ten Tuesday, since there are a lot of popular authors I've never read. Then I decided that I might as well- after all, I should have no problem coming up with people to put on the list . . . except that I'm not entirely sure who's popular and who's not. In the end, I took a few guesses, but I think that most of these authors either are or were popular.
  1. J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter is one of the few series that my parents have ever specifically said I'm not allowed to read. I'm ok with that.
  2. Rick Riordian. The whole descendants-of-gods thing kind of turned me off. It's one thing when it's the actual mythology; it's another when it's set in modern day.
  3. Ally Carter. I've said a few times that I'm going to try one of her books. It obviously hasn't happened yet.
  4. John Green. No, I haven't even read The Fault in Our Stars. I don't plan on changing that. There are other books that interest me much more.
  5. William Shakespeare. I've read several adaptations of his work, but never the actual plays. I will have by the end of this school year, though. Romeo and Juliet I'll be reading for literature, and I still want to read Hamlet at some point too.
  6. Brandon Sanderson. I think he's popular? I know several people who really like his books. I haven't heard much about them, but I'm pretty sure they're fantasy and I'm considering looking into them over the summer. (Or whenever I run out of new books to read. Whichever happens first.)
  7. Erin Hunter. Are the Warriors books even still popular? Anyone know? I used to know several people who were into them. I even joined a roleplay or two based on the books. (I'm weird that way. I joined a Hunger Games based RP before I read THG.) But I never actually read them.
  8. Cassandra Clare. Her books sound interesting, but also very much  . . . not sure what the word is, but I don't want to get into it.
  9. Stephanie Morrill. I'm a big fan of the Go Teen Writers blog, which she writers for. I have e-copies of two of her books. I think that her Ellie Sweet series sounds pretty cool, what with the main character being a writer and all. But I have yet to actually read any of her work.
  10. Stephen R. Lawhead. I thought about reading one of his series, I think the King Arthur ones, at one point. But I couldn't find them at the library, and I think I heard something about mature content, so I decided not to.
There's my list. Please don't kill me over any of them. Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Blog Awards

Hey'a! My Top Ten Tuesdays post will hopefuly be up later today, but I have another post for y'all first. A bit over a week ago, I was given the Sunflower Blog Award by Ryebrynn of Ryebrynn's Random Ramblings. Hannon le*, Rye! (As a note, what's the etiquette on how soon you're supposed to answer these kinds of things? A week? Two weeks? Let's hope it's two weeks. If it's less time . . . sorry.)

Rules of the award:
-Share 11 facts about yourself.
-Answer the 11 questions given by your nomination blogger
-Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them.

11 Facts:
1. I'm currently knitting a pillow, which I'm approximately halfway done with.
2. I'm trying to write two novels at once and not doing a very good job of it.
3. I enjoy playing writer's truth or dare. 
4. I'm tired of winter.
5. I made chili and cornbread for dinner last night.
6. I'm bad at coming up with facts about myself.
7. I'm cold.
8. I'm currently in about ten roleplays on various forums. It's awesome.
9. I've never been to Boston in the fall.
10. I don't like jello.
11. I do like waffles with cream cheese and maple syrup (together) on them. It's really good.

11 Questions:
1. What are you currently reading?
The Seventh Door by Bryan Davis.
2. What book coming out soon are you most excited about?
Shadow Hand! Though I guess that just came out today, didn't it? HUZZAH!
3. Do you like Mountain Dew(if you don't, I'll still forgive you... maybe :P)
I've never had it and am not inclined to try anything with that much caffeine. 
4. Who is your favorite author?
J.R.R. Tolkien. 
5. What is your favorite series?
The Lord of the Rings
6. What is your favorite stand-alone novel?
Um . . . either The Hobbit or Howl's Moving Castle.
7. Do you like cats?
In general,  yes.
8. What is your opinion of dogs?
I like them well enough, unless they decide to knock me over.
9. What is your favorite state(In America)
Virginia. Or Texas.
10. Spicy food or sweet food?
11. What is your favorite movie?
The Lord of the Rings.
Next, I'm supposed to nominate 11 people, but before I do that, I've also been awarded the Liebster Award by Karolina of Karolina's Bookshelf Recollections. Danke,** Katrina! Interestingly, the Liebster Award and Sunflower Award posts are extremely similar, so I'm 'cheating' and combining the two. In my defense, it's hard to come up with both facts and people to nominate. 
Karolina's Questions:
1. What prompted you to start blogging?
I really don't remember. I think it had something to do with the fact that at that time, I was a lurker on the Underground, and a lot of people on there had blogs.
2. If you could choose to marry any character out of any book you read whom would you choose and why?
Gah, hard choice. Almost anyone I choose splits up a pairing that I love. I guess I'd pick Aragorn, though. He's noble, kind, brave, humble, and all around awesome.
3. What is the weirdest thing you have ever done?
I don't know . . . I probably did a lot of weird stuff when I was a kid that I don't remember. Of what I do remember, probably trying to open a door (like, turn the knob and stuff) with my feet . . . while they were tied together.  It was story research. And I was bored. I did eventually succeed, if you were wondering.
4. What is your favourite book series and why?
The Lord of the Rings. I love the characters, the world, the deepness of the plot, pretty much everything about it.
5. What is the last book you cried over?
I don't know . . . I don't cry over books. I guess probably Allegiant was the last book I got upset over.
6. Which book would you like to give a different ending to than the author intended? What would it be?
Either Allegiant or The Circles of Seven. Either way, someone who died would live.
7. Which author (living or dead) would you like to meet given the chance? 
J.R.R. Tolkien, definitely.
8. You are flying over the ocean with your whole library in tow. The plain crashes but you can save three books. Quick! Which ones will it be?
My two autographed Tales of Goldstone Wood books (Veiled Rose and Dragonwitch) and one of my autographed Bryan Davis books (probably Raising Dragons).
9. Two characters from different books are in a cage-fight. Who are they and who would win?
Characters: Wolf (The Lunar Chronicles) vs. Joram (Auralia's Colors). Wolf is an undefeated street fighter and ***SPOILER FOR SCARLET*** a Lunar Special Operative***END SPOILER***. Joram is a beastman, which basically means a part-person-mostly-beast-creature. I think that Wolf would win in the end. Joram has more brute strength, but Wolf is more cunning.
10. Say you never fell under the spell of reading. What would you being right now?
Not blogging, that's for sure. 
11. You can be anyone you want. Living person or fictional character. Who would you be and why?
Hmm . . . I don't know. Maybe Dame Imraldera, since she's pretty awesome and she's keeper of the Haven Library and all. Or Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia, since it would be cool to be the first human to go to Narnia since its beginning.

And now for my nominations/questions. Questions first!
1. Would you rather live in Rome during Nero's reign or Paris during the French Revolution?
2. You find a secret passage in your room that seems to lead to a beautiful fairyland of sorts. The keeper of that realm says you're free to return as often as you like, on the condition that you'll search for a way to free him from his captivity there. Do you accept? Why or why not?
3. Do you enjoy listening to books on cd/mp3?
4. If you could have any accent in the world, what would you choose?
5. Dragons or griffins?
6. Pie or cheesecake?
7. If you could have any animal, real or otherwise, for a pet, what would you pick?
8. Do you prefer watching movies in the theater or at home?
9. What's one food you'd like to try but never have?
10. What are you listening to right now?
11. The book or the movie?

And now for nominations. Since I've gotten and passed on the Liebster Award before, these are all for the Sunflower Blog Award.
Sarah Faulkner
And I can't think of who else who hasn't already been given it, so . . . yeah. If you're reading this and you want to do it, you can.
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

*Thank you. (Elvish)
**Thank you. (German)