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.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day 15: Writing Challenges (Again)!

Wordcount: 29181
Words Written Today: Don't know; haven't gotten a chance to count.
Words I Still Need to Write Today: A lot.

I won't have much time to write today or tomorrow. There's a photo expo in my area, so I'll be taking a several photography classes there. I'll still try to squeeze in writing when I can, though; I don't want to lose too much of the lead I built up.

Since you all liked the writing challenges I posted last week so much, I'm posting more this week! I hope you enjoy them!

Challenge 1: Write So Many Words If . . .
The rules are simple: if any of the statements below apply to you, write the given number of words. I've done this once or twice, though I usually play a slightly different version based on movies (which I'll post below). Have fun!
  • You're writing on a computer: 300 words
  • You're writing on paper: 100 words
  • You have a pet: 50 words
    • Your pet is nearby: +25 words
    • Your pet is on your lap: +50 words
  • You like chocolate: 75 words
    • You're eating chocolate now: +25 words
  • You're homeschooled: 100 words
  • You're public-schooled: 125 words
  • You're behind on schoolwork: 25 words
  • You're caught up or ahead on schoolwork: 100 words
  • You're behind on your NaNo wordcount: 200 words for every day you're behind
  • You've drunk coffee, tea, or hot chocolate today: 50 words
    • You've drunk multiple cups of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate: +25 words per cup
  • You'd rather be reading right now: 25 words
  • You're running low on sleep: 0 words; go take a nap.
Challenge 2: Write So Many Words If . . . LOTR Version!
In the mood to watch some LOTR, but know you need to write? You're in luck! This game is an awesome excuse to watch the movie while still getting in at least part of your wordcount. (Note: it'll work best if you pause after each scene to write the necessary words. This is experience speaking.)
  • A hobbit eats something: 10 words
    • It's Pippin doing the eating: +10 words
  • Frodo stares dramatically off into the distance or otherwise acts out-of-it because of the Ring: 25 words
  • Gandalf yells at someone: 20 words
    • It's Pippin: +5
  • There's a battle scene: 100 words
    • It involves orcs: +25 words
    • It involves the Nazgul: +50 words
    • The battle has an official name: +50 words
  • Gimli or Legolas insults the other: 20 words
  • Someone charges an enemy: 75 words
    • If it's Merry and Pippin: +25
  • Gollum has a conversation with himself: 150 words
  • Someone dies or seems to be dead: 150 words
    • "Someone" is Frodo: +25 words
  • Legolas misses: 300 words
Challenge 3: Writing Prompts!
People asked for more writing prompts last week, so here you go! Enjoy!
  • Well, this is creepy: Have your characters encounter an abandoned house, other building, ship, etc- the creepier the better!
  • Is someone gonna eat that?: A character finds a seemingly abandoned sandwich or other food item. What happens? (Ideally, said character should be hungry or should be one of those people who'll eat anything, anytime. Also, thanks to Blue for giving me this idea and letting me use it!)
  • The way is shut: Your characters need to get somewhere, but something is stopping them. Maybe their method of transportation broke down, maybe the place is closed, maybe a storm hit. How do they deal with it?
Please post in the comments which challenge(s) you did and how many words you got! Also, if you did a writing prompt and don't mind sharing, I'd love to read it! I'll be posting the scene I wrote for one of last week's prompts sometime in the next several days, if anyone's interested.

Thanks for reading, and happy noveling!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day 12

Wordcount: 25411
Words Written Today: 1328
Words I Still Need to Write Today: 339
Writing Music Obsession: The Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

It's funny how stories never seem to go quite how you expect them to.

The story I'm writing now, I've told myself in my head a hundred times. Each time it happens just a bit differently, but it's still the same story. So, when I set out to write it down for NaNoWriMo, I figured that I knew pretty well how it would play out.

But the scenes I've written in the last few days, possibly in the last week, are ones I never imagined. I didn't plan them. They weren't there when I told the story in my head. Yet here they are, appearing on paper. They came partially because I had gaps in my plans and I needed something to fill them, but they're also changing the course of the story ever so slightly. Hopefully, they're making it better.

In a way, these unexpected scenes are one of my favorite parts of writing a novel. I love writing the scenes I've been planning since before I even started the story, yes, but the scenes that just happen are exciting in a whole different way. They often reveal things about my characters and plot that make me think "Oh, wow! I never thought of that before!" Sometimes, they end up being my favorite scenes in the entire novel. And sometimes I look back and realize "You know, this is a mess", but, hey, as long as it's a fun-to-write mess, I'm ok with that. (At least until I have to edit . . .)

Have you encountered any unexpected scenes in your stories? How have they changed what you were writing? Please tell me in the comments!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Monday, November 10, 2014

My friends, today is a very big day!

Why, you ask? Four words:

Golden Daughter is out!


Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.

But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?
For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.

I was fortunate enough to get an influencer copy of Golden Daughter, and let me tell you: it's every bit as awesome as the description makes it sound. You need to read it. (Though if you haven't read the rest of the series, read them first. Then you can read Golden Daughter.)  

Also, for some extra awesomeness, Anne Elisabeth is celebrating Golden Daughter's release with an ebook special on her novella Goddess Tithe.

For a limited time, the Goddess Tithe ebook will be available for only 99 cents. I reviewed this book when it came out, and it's also quite good. Once again, I highly recommend it.

You can purchase Golden Daughter or Goddess Tithe at these links:
Golden Daughter on Amazon
Goddess Tithe on Amazon
Golden Daughter at Barnes and Noble
Goddess Tithe at Barnes and Noble

Happy reading, everyone!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day 8: Writing Challenge Time!

Wordcount: 17206
Words Written Today: 520
Words I Still Need to Write Today: 1147, plus 300 some to make up for what I missed yesterday.
Writing Music Obsession: See below.
I love writing challenges. They're often just what I need to get me to stop procrastinating and start writing. They also provide a set mini-goal, something I find very helpful- I work best when I can say "Ok, I'm going to write for X amount of time/Y pages". And since I know others enjoy them too, I thought I'd post some challenges here.

Challenge 1: Music Marathon

I mentioned a while ago that I've never written all the way through this, but I'm going to try today, and I challenge you all to do the same, either today or sometime in the next week. Celtic not your thing? That's fine; just pick any 2-hour music compilation (or two one-hour compilations) and write all the way through. The point is just to write for two hours without stopping. If you don't have two hours, you can do the same for a one-hour stretch. Or, if you're feeling really daring, try to outwrite the Lord of the Rings Soundtrack (3 hours) or this 5 hours of Epic Music. Post in the comments what you listened to and how many words you wrote!

Challenge 2: Writing Prompts/Dares
I don't usually use prompts or dares outside of games of Writer's Truth or Dare, but sometimes they're fun, and I think others enjoy them. So, here are some prompts I came up with for you to try, either as part of your actual plot or in "bonus scenes".
  • Double Trouble: Introduce a new character who's identical to one of your other characters. Ideally, either hilarity or chaos should ensue.
  • Time Out!: Give your characters a chance to relax and write a scene where they play a board or card game.
  • I Understood That Reference: Write a scene including as many quotes from your favorite movies and/or books as possible. Alternately, write a scene in which one of your characters quotes or references something famous and the other characters either get excited about it or are totally confused.
Again, post in the comments which challenge you did. If you don't mind sharing, you could also post the scene you wrote on your blog- I'd love to read them!
Thanks for reading, and I hope your writing goes well!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day 5

Wordcount: 13290
Words Written Today: 2006
Words I Still Need to Write Today: 0.
Writing Music Obsession: Enya, particularly "Orinocco Flow".

I intended to do a NaNo update sooner than this, but oh well. Life's life. And, obviously, I've been doing a lot of writing. Brief overview of the month so far:
  • Saturday, November 1: IT'S NANOWRIMO! I wrote all day, and by that I mean all day. (I did not, by the way, start at midnight. I don't function well past ten or maybe eleven.) I also realized that I never actually set up my novel on the NaNoWriMo site, despite doing more planning for it than I've done for any story since fifth or sixth grade. Oopsy.
  • Sunday, November 2: This was a busy day, but I still got in a pretty solid wordcount. No youth group and being able to write during AWANA helped quite a bit.
  • Monday, November 3: I took Monday off of physics and math (yay for being homeschooled!) so I'd have more time to write. My goal for the first three days of November was 8,000 words; I hit 9,000 and celebrated with a book. (Alcatraz Versus the Knight of Crystallia, if you were wondering. Hopefully it won't be the only book I read this month.)
  • Tuesday, November 4: Yeeks! And I thought Sunday was busy . . . on top of normal schoolwork, I had German class, and my youth group did a service project. I enjoyed the service project more than I expected to, though, so not being able to write as much was worth it. 
  • Wednesday, November 5: First word war of the month! Thanks, fellow TPSers! I lost epically, but that's what happens when you're a paper-and-pen writer going against computer users, particularly when you're not quite sure what you want to do in the next few pages. Alnd as one of the writers there said, every word counts.
So, that's my NaNoWriMo so far. How's your month going? Please tell me in the comments!

Happy noveling!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)