Friday, October 30, 2015


Hullo, everyone! First, no Random Fridays this week . . . because I'm guest-hosting over at Awkwordly Emma, where I'm talking about book characters I'd love to cosplay as! You should definitely go check out that post. I had a lot of fun writing it.

Second, today and tomorrow are the last days to nominate books for the Book Blogger Awards! If you haven't nominated something already, the other judges and I would all love it if you went and did that now. (You are allowed to nominate multiple books for the same category, if inability to pick one is holding you back.) We already have a lot of great nominations- but more are always welcome!

Finally, two. days. until. NaNoWriMo. (One, if you don't count today.) I haven't really done much of any proper planning for my NaNoWriMo novel- I have the basic plot in my head, but I want to do some brainstorming on paper, since that's helped a lot with my last several novels. I have decided that it's set in the same universe as, but a different world than, Between Two Worlds. Also, a few characters from BTW may or may not make an appearance, depending on how stuff works out. On the upside, I've gotten to the point in Monster in the Castle where all the exciting scenes I had planned in my head are written and I need to get busy on figuring out how to fit shirt-washing into a wedding, or else find a reasonable substitute for said shirt-washing. (If you're curious about why, go read "East of the Sun, West of the Moon.") Other than this dilemma, I'm pretty happy with my progress.

How's your Friday going? Are you ready for NaNoWriMo? Do you have any ideas of a suitable substitution (or explanation) for shirt-washing as a test of worthiness-to-marry? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sweater Weather Tag

As I think I've said at some point, fall's my favorite season for various reasons- so I'm super excited to have been tagged with an autumn tag by Allison Rudivich. Here's the Sweater Weather Tag!

Favorite Candle Scent?
Basically anything that smells like a baked good. I think we had a cinnamon vanilla candle at one point that was really good . . . could be wrong, though. And there was a yummy apple cider (or maybe apple pie? something like that) scented one too. It does have to be a strong scent, though, or I won't even notice it for a while- I don't have much of a sense of smell.

Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate! But I love tea as well, especially in the early mornings. My current tea-of-choice is Celestial Seasonings' Caramel Apple herbal tea . . . but I just finished the box this morning. (I do have another box, but I'm not sure if I'll open it now or save it for later.)

What's your best fall memory?
. . . Do I have to pick just one?
Ok, fine. This isn't necessarily my best fall memory, just a fall memory that I especially like. Back in Virginia, there was a kind-of-local  fall festival called Joshua's Hands- well, that was the name of the nonprofit that held it. It was a longish drive away, but it was the one fall festival that we kept going back to the longest. They had all sorts of games- mostly variations on the beanbag toss and similar- that you could play to win candy or bracelets or that sort of thing. They had a barn full of craft activities- my favorite, or at least the one I remember best, was the quilt squares you could sew (the only time I ever sewed anything by hand, other than buttons). Recently, they added bingo for prizes- backpacks and notebooks one year, Chick-fil-a coupons another- and a scavenger hunt for teens. It always was a lot of fun.

Best fragrance for fall?
Perfume fragrance? Don't wear them. Scent in general? Apple pie (or any pie really) in the oven or cooling on the countertop.

Favorite Thanksgiving food?
Everything. I pretty much just love food in general. But if I have to choose, the pies- pecan especially, though apple and pumpkin are delicious as well. (Anyone surprised? No? Didn't think so.)

Most worn sweater?
I actually wear sweatshirts more than sweaters . . . one sweatshirt in particular, an oversized grey VMI sweatshirt that I wear when it's coldest in the mornings. But if you want to know about actual sweaters, probably my blue turtleneck sweater.

Football games or jumping in leaf piles?
Um, neither? I know about as much about football as I do about quantum physics, and I've never understood the appeal of jumping in leaf piles. (Someone in the comments, can you explain it to me, maybe?) Like Allison before me, I'll take a third option: photographing all the pretty leaves and all the people enjoying both the football games and the leaf piles. 

Skinny jeans or leggings?
Leggings? I don't have the shape for skinny jeans (which may or may not be related to my answer to "Favorite Thanksgiving food" . . .) but I don't really wear leggings a whole lot either- only under skirts (long ones; I love maxi skirts!) when it's cold out.

Combat boots or Uggs?

Uggs! I love boots in general (other than hiking boots), and I'd love a pair of tall-ish medieval-type boots, but I do have a pair of similar-to-Uggs and they're super comfy and I wear them pretty much everywhere from October/November to February/March.  

Is pumpkin spice worth the hype?

Don't know; I haven't had a lot of pumpkin spice foods. But I do love pumpkin foods in general, so probably. (Last week, while I was in VA for a few days, I had some of the yummiest pumpkin spice cake ever . . . it was made with fresh shredded pumpkin and had cream cheese icing and walnuts on it and it was so good!)

Favorite fall movie?
Um. Most of the movies I watch are fantasy or superhero and therefore don't really have a season, or if they do it's either summer or winter, so . . . I guess the only fall movie I really watch (and therefore my favorite) would be A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which my family watches most years somewhere around Thanksgiving.

What do you want to be for Halloween?

In all honesty, I have nowhere to go for Halloween, so there's a strong possibility I won't get to dress up at all. Which is sad. But if I do find an opportunity, I'll be either a bardess from my stories (white shirt, brown skirt, gold belt, and red cape/capelet) or a black cat. 

Hats or scarves?
Both! Well. Mostly hats- berets or tams when I want to look good, and watchcaps or beanies for when I just want to stay warm. And then I don't actually wear scarves a lot, but I love infinity scarves and cowls, so that counts, right?

What's your #1 favorite thing about fall?

It's when everything happens. Fall festivals, NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving, my birthday, most Christmas preparation (early December is technically still fall!), photography (ok, that happens all year round, but fall and spring are probably two of the biggest times of year for it) . . . the list goes on. And all this is happening while, for most of the season, it's at a fairly nice temperature outside so you can actually enjoy it.

Now, as for tagging people, I tag:
Emma at Awkwordly Emma
Hannah at The Writer's Window
Merenwen Inglorian at Shattered Fractals
And anyone else who wants to do this!

By the way, don't forget that nominations are open for the 2015 Blogger Awards. I'd love to see your nominations!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Monday, October 19, 2015

The 2015 Blogger Awards Begin!

It's back.

Some of you- hopefully most of you- may remember the Blogger Awards, a celebration of this year's best books and authors. And now begins the second annual Blogger Awards! Huzzah! (And this year, I get to be a judge- also huzzah!)

Gorgeousness designed by Hannah Williams
This year, we'll have six categories:

Saturday, December 19- Best Cover, hosted by Schuyler
Sunday, December 20- Best Title, hosted by Hannah
Monday, December 21- Best Short Fiction, hosted by Ghost Ryter
Tuesday, December 22- Best Character, hosted by Annie
Wednesday, December 23- Best Book, hosted by me (!!!)
Thursday, December 24- Best Author, hosted by Allison

I hope everyone else is as excited for this as I am, because guess what? We judges need to know what we're judging. Comment on this post with your nomination for the best new book published in 2015- sorry, republications don't count. Then go visit the other judges and give them your nominations in their categories too! Nominations close November 1, so you have time if you're not sure what to nominate . . . but don't procrastinate too long! 

I'm looking forward to seeing your nominations!

-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Random Friday: Fangirling

I’m pretty sure we all know: I’m a fangirl. I have been since before I knew what a fangirl is. (For anyone who doesn’t know, a definition:

It’s almost scary how accurate this is.)

This week’s Random Fridays theme, as you probably guessed, is fangirling. And I totally could list all the things I fangirl over, or talk about the latest objects of my obsession . . . but the former might be kind of long and as for the latter, there’s only so much I can say about Beastly Bones without giving away spoilers. (The train station scene, though!) So, instead, I decided to list some of the things I do because I’m a fangirl.
  1. Obsessively rereading books. More accurately, certain sections of books. This is why I keep my already-read library books in stacks by my bed: if I have a few minutes before bed, I can reach down, grab one of them, and reread my favorite chapters, or whatever random chapter the book opens to. Occasionally, depending where the chapter is located and how much time I have, I end up reading a little bit more than that favorite section . . . like, to the end of the book.
  2. Checking the library website every day once new books come out to see if said new books are available to request. Depending how long I’ve been waiting for said new book, discovery that it’s available may or may not be accompanied by triumphant squealing, fistpumping, or jumping up and down. (Actually getting the new book will definitely be accompanied by one of those things- quietly. Though the one librarian who’s actually seen me do it seemed happy I was so excited.)
  3. Telling the entire internet when I get a new book. Or I’m reading an especially awesome part of a book. Or when I finish a book. Ok, “entire internet” is a stretch- it’s really just Goodreads, the TPS forum, and Whitehall Castle forums, but still. The world must know I am excited.

  4. Soundtrack stories. I’ve mentioned this a few times at least, but when I listen to music, I almost always try to fit it in with a story I’ve read or I’m writing. Sometimes my soundtracks are a bit of a stretch . . . but others I’m super happy with. (For example: Flyleaf’s “Tiny Heart” is basically Heartless from Prince Aethelbald’s point of view, and anyone who tries to convince me that “Antigravity” by Starset is not basically Kaladin’s soundtrack- especially in the last part of Words of Radiance- is facing a hopeless task.)
  5. Use quotes, phrases, and references from my fandoms in conversation. This mostly means I say things like “dragon’s teeth” and “blitherated beetles” and “oh, stars!” and “storming” a fair bit. Occasionally I manage to work in a longer quote . . . for example, “I think you exploded!” if someone (mostly my sister) sneezes especially hard. Or using examples from books to prove a point.

  6. Look for excuses to dress like characters. Which is why I always wear my Lorien cape on September 22nd, as long as it’s not impractical, and why I dressed up when I went to see The Hobbt: An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug, even though it was after the premiers for either. But occasionally I’ll do it other days too- for example, wearing all black and one of my Misting vials when I want to feel Vin-ish.
  7. Fanfiction. Ok, I don’t actually write a whole lot of it, except in preparation for the Tales of Goldstone Wood fanfiction contest and similar. But I daydream it a lot, in as much vivid detail as I do my actual novels, and occasionally said daydreams turn into something else- for example, Between Two Worlds started out as a Wingfeather Saga-Tales of Goldstone Wood crossover daydream. (Between Two Worlds is, in all honesty, a very fangirly book in some ways- Kately and her sister, like my own sister and me, spend a fair bit of their conversations referencing favorite books and movies and such, causing much bewilderment to certain other characters.)
How do you show you’re a fangirl? Please tell me in the comments, or make a Random Fridays post of your own. Just remember to add your blog post to the link-up on Awkwordly Emma and link back to that blog.
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)      

Friday, October 9, 2015

Internal Monologue

One of my recent assignments was to write an internal monologue. Naturally, I decided to do it for one of my own characters rather than their suggested historical or literary character. The following takes place in the world of my Berstru Tales, about four years before the series starts.

The silence woke her.
 Gwen lay still for a moment, curled up beneath her dragon’s wing, listening. Pale morning light filtered through the translucent membrane above her. No birds sang- though that was hardly surprising, out here where anything could and would eat any small creatures foolish enough to make their presence known. Still, the silence was deeper than that. Gwen could recall other times she’d heard such stillness, and all had been in the wake of a monster.
Without waking the dragon, Gwen grabbed her sword and slid out from under Icetora’s wing. Better see what’s wrong. She reached out mentally for Jake-
Nothing. Of course. He’d left weeks ago. Still, to not have him there felt strange.  I’ll get used to it. She’d have to. And it was better that he’d left anyway.
She extended her mental search to scan the surrounding woods for any signs of other sentient minds. She found nothing but herself, Icetora, and a few terrified or sleeping animals, but that meant less than the silence. How many of the monsters in these mountains had no more mental presence than a squirrel? Too many. And they’re all twice as dangerous as the ones you can sense.
Gwen searched the camp, walking in ever-widening circles around Icetora and studying ground, sky, and trees. Most people, she suspected, wouldn’t even call what she had a camp. There was no fire, no tent. Just a spot of relatively flat ground where she and Icetora could sleep. Without Jake, there was no need for fire, not when she had nothing to attempt cooking. And even when he’d been here, they’d been happier to sleep under Icetora’s wings than under canvas.
She found the footprints all around the edge of the clearing: almost birdlike, but far larger than any bird she’d ever seen. She measured them with her hands; they were smaller than Icetora’s prints, but the holes and scratches from the talons were deeper.
And they went all around the clearing. Why? Had the creature been stalking them, deciding if they were foe or food? Why hadn’t it attacked while they were sleeping and vulnerable? Was it frightened of Icetora? But if it was, why would it have lingered? Even from sleeping dragons, most creatures ran.
The prints led away from the clearing, along a trail of crushed foliage and broken branches. Jake would’ve warned her to head straight the other way, or at least to let him investigate first- as if she weren’t twice as stealthy as he. He surely would’ve wanted her to wake Icetora- though why bother? She could call the dragon later if need be, and she didn’t need help to follow a trail.
She returned to her sleeping spot to retrieve her weapons: bow, knives, and the sheath for her sword. Then, satisfied she was well-armed, she set off along the trail. She carefully avoided stepping on any of the prints, just in case. Not a twig cracked beneath her feet as she walked. Every few steps, she reached out mentally, just in case- but each time, found nothing.
Before long, however, her ears detected heavy breathing up ahead, along with a wet snapping sound. Finally! Putting one hand on her sword hilt, Gwen crept closer, peering through the trees.
And then, there it was.