Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Doings

So I decided that I ought to try doing a monthly recap sort of post, much like Deborah O'Carroll's Monthly Ish-ness posts and Katie Grace's Monthly Highlights. This is partially so I have something else to blog about, partially so I can lump all the little things that (I think) happen that I find interesting but not worth blogging about on their own into one larger post, and partially so that in six or so months, when I'm wondering "What the thrice-baked pumpernickel did I do in January? Did that month even actually exist?" I can look back and have this post as a reference. (And also as an assurance that the month did, indeed, happen. Logically, I know that all months and days and such must have existed, but sometimes they all just blur together so that some bits and pieces of time feel as if they didn't actually happen and it's rather disorienting.)

Anyway. Doings!


  •  On January 4th, I finished writing Binding Destiny! I'm happier about that than I have a right to be- comparatively speaking, I wasn't working on it for long, only a bit over two months. However, I was also a bit tired of it, mostly because I pushed myself so hard during NaNoWriMo and it just didn't turn out like I expected. But I'm still fairly happy with it, all things considered.
  • I did not finish Monster in the Castle. But I did finish a sixth notebook's worth of first draft (I'm fairly certain that the size of this novel is a bigger monster than the titular one . . .) and I'm rapidly approaching the climax, so we're good. And I get to write about the Princess du Karel, who changed about a year ago from being a rather cliche and useless sort of sub-villain to one of my favorite characters in the novel (after the protagonists and Jason Silver- and, honestly, she might be on par with the heroine). Can you tell that I'm excited?
  • For those wondering: yes, I did solve the dilemma I mentioned before NaNoWriMo concerning the shirt-washing situation. Many thanks to Meredith and Elethia for their suggestions!
  • I'm trying to edit Destinies and Decisions. It's going . . . slowly. My wordcount spreadsheet says I edited 5,038 words this month, which isn't very much. Part of it's because I'm procrastinating; part of it's because I'm having to shift a lot of scenes around and completely rewrite several of those scenes.
  • I did download yWriter to my laptop in hopes that it might be helpful, since I know some of my friends use it. I'm . . . still figuring it out. And also wondering if I might've been better off to just stick with Microsoft Word. But everyone raves about how Scrivener is so amazing, and yWriter is the same type of software, just fewer features, so I thought I'd give it a try. I don't know. It's a muddle right now. People with yWriter or Scrivener: please remind me what I should be getting out of this program, because I feel like I might be missing something.


  • Apparently I only read twelve books this month. Which would be sad, except . . .
  • Two of the books were rereads of The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance. Which are gorgeously thick and enormous books, and which are as amazing and incredible as they are gigantic. So, rereading those took at least a week and a half, during which I rarely got to sleep before 10:30 because there's always another chapter and I for some reason think that saying "Hey, I'll read a chapter before I go to sleep" is a good idea. (Actually, it is a good idea for my reading habits. Just not good for my sleeping habits.)
  • I also reread Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow as research for Monster in the Castle, since that book was one of the original inspirations for my story. And I reread Illusionarium, though I didn't record it on Goodreads. (I tried the recently-released audiobook, but wasn't thrilled- mostly because I wanted a British-sounding narrator and didn't get one. Oh well. That was my only real quibble with what I listened to of the book, so don't let me stop you from trying it yourself.)
  • Then there were the new-to-me books I read: Moving Pictures (Discworld, and therefore weird, but also quite good), Prince of Demargen (an improvement over the first two! Go read it!), Relic (which I'd been looking forward to for a while, but which was . . . not quite what I was expecting?), Cascade (second in the River of Time series, which I liked about the same as I did the first), Reaper Man (more Discworld weirdly-awesome-ness), The Hero and the Crown (which was generally pretty good), and Whose Body (the first of the Lord Peter Whimsey mysteries; I'm sorry to say it disappointed me). Overall, not too bad.


  • Snow. That happened. Not too much of it yet, thankfully. I'm still trying to get over the fact that Virginia got buried under snow and New York barely got any. (So far. Next month's February; we all know what that means . . .) 
  • My sister and I worked our way through two Nancy Drew games: The Phantom of Venice and The Haunting of Castle Malloy. Both were fun- not my favorites, but fun. Though some bits of Castle Malloy could be tedious . . . like chasing sheep around in the dark. My sister will tell you that I eventually ordered asked her to finish that bit of the game for me, since I'd run out of patience. 
  • I joined/helped start a Stormlight Archive roleplay on Whitehall Castle! I'm playing a proto-Edgedancer (who may or may not be based on one of my novel characters), and I'm super excited to see where the story goes. 
  • I'm sure there should be something else here, but I can't for the life of me think of what it should be. School, I suppose, but no one wants to hear about that.

 February Plans!

  • I am going to finish Monster in the Castle. I really am. I'm too close to the end to let another month go by without writing "The End." And I have the ending scenes all planned out (well, sort of- I have pictures in my head of the really important bits) and I really want to write them, so. It's going to happen.
  • I'm also doing a month-long word war of sorts with some friends on Whitehall Castle. That'll help with the finishing-Monster-in-the-Castle goal as well. I expect I'll be sorely beaten, but I'll try my best anyway.
  • And I'm going to continue editing and hopefully accomplish a bit more than I did this month. Maybe I'll even get past the annoying rewrite-heavy bits! Or figure out yWriter! 
  • School stuff. Not going to talk about it because it's not especially interesting.
  • Hopefully I'm going to read more than twelve books. But Bands of Mourning is out, and Calamity is coming out, so as long as I get those two, I'm happy. (I'd like more Discworld, though, and I'm hoping to reread the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy. And The Eye of the World is waiting for me to pick it up as well . . .)   
 How's your January been? What plans do you have for February? If you use yWriter or Scrivener or similar, how do you use it? (I don't mean in the tutorial sense . . . I mean in the "what aspects of it do you find most helpful" and that sort of thing sense.) Please tell me in comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Friday, January 29, 2016

Do You Remember Me?

Do You Remember Me?
To the friends who I've lost and who've drifted away . . . I might only mention three people here, but it's for all of you. Not that you're going to see it.
  Do you remember me?
The girl who you played games with
Every Tuesday night?
Do you remember me?
The girl who looked up to you
And copied all you did?
Do you remember me?
The girl who would try anything
If you suggested it?
Do you remember me?

Do you remember me?
The girl who sat beside you
And called you her best friend?
Do you remember me?
The girl who competed with you
And always came out even?
Do you remember me?
The girl who wrote you letters
‘Til you didn’t write back again?
Do you remember me?

Do you remember me?
The girl who chatted with you
Across the internet?
Do you remember me?
The girl with whom you roleplayed
As long as there were stories to be told?
Do you remember me?
The girl who seemed to come from
A home so unlike your own?
Do you remember me?

Do you remember me?
You’ve probably forgotten
As your life moved on.
Do you remember me?
I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t;
I forget things too.
Do you remember me?
Whatever you may answer,
I’ll still say the same:
I remember you.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Why I Love Roleplaying

I love roleplays. If you and I have met on a forum, or on Goodreads, you might know that already; the roleplay threads are where you'll find me posting the most. I love it as much as I love writing- maybe more at times, since it combines some of the best parts of both reading and writing: the excitement of finding out what'll happen next, the thrill of creating characters and a story. But that's not the only reason I love to roleplay . . . and this week, I'm going to tell you why.

Why I Love Roleplaying

  1. It's telling a story, but with other people. I love writing things by myself. But I also love writing with other people, seeing what happens when different people work together to tell one story. Each person has a different view on the situation, different expectations on how it'll go, different ideas for the story they're trying to tell. Put those together and you get something special- something that never would've happened without collaboration. And while sometimes those differences can end up being explosive . . . more often than not, they turn into something pretty awesome.
  2. It teaches you to improvise. In a novel, you're in control. No matter what you say about characters surprising you, you're the one who creates the plot and tells them where to go. In a roleplay, it's a different story. You can't know what the other players will throw in your way, what the other characters will do. You have your own characters and, depending on who- if anyone- is running the story, certain plot elements. And so when your roleplaying partner (who happens to be the GM of this particular plot in all but name) throws your Jedi against four scarily powerful Sith ghosts (not all at the same time, thankfully) and everything those Sith and the traitor who let them out can come up with . . . well, you learn to think your way out of situations you never would've come up with on your own.
  3. It teaches you how to plan (and to write convincing villains). On the other hand, if you happen to be the one largely driving the plot, well, you need to be able to plan ahead- at least a little bit. Otherwise, you'll find yourself spending a lot of time stalling while you try to figure out where to go, and that's the best way to kill a roleplay. And you need to be able to write a good villain- one who'll raise the other players' interest and who'll give them a good fight before going down, but who is possible to defeat . . . one way or another. 
  4. It gives you ideas for your own stories. I'm sure I've said it before: at least half my characters owe their origins, one way or another, to roleplay threads. The Battle! thread, one of the longest-running roleplays I've ever been a part of, gave birth to my Berstru Tales novels and the Alyron and Firhirt families that make up most of the characters in those stories. And some of those characters came from other roleplays before Battle!; Jared Alyron in particular- along with Jason Silver and Jarek Gilleth- came from Jared Siver, a character on a dying roleplay who I just couldn't seem to let go of (and still can't). Outside of my own experience, I know that two or three of my other friends (including the one who came up with the four Sith ghosts) have written or are writing their own books based on roleplay threads.
  5. On the other hand, it's a good testing ground for your ideas. For example, there's the New Generation- an idea I came up with after I watched The Avengers for the first time. What happens when the government decides the existing superheroes are too inclined to be loose cannons? When they decide to try to create their own heroes, more loyal to them than the originals? I thought of writing it as a fanfic or a novel- but I had enough projects going on already, and I knew next to nothing about writing superheroes anyway. But the next summer, there came a surge of superhero threads . . . and so I grabbed the opportunity to test my idea, and I think it's turned out pretty well.
Of course, there's one last, very simple reason I love roleplaying: it's just plain fun to come up with characters and see them interact with each other and with the challenges you put in their way. It's one of the same reasons I enjoy writing.

Have you ever roleplayed? If you have, what are some of your favorite roleplaying memories? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Beautiful People: Writerly Resolutions and Goals

Hosted by
Hello, everyone! It's Beautiful People time! For those who don't know, this is a monthly link-up hosted by Cait of Paper Fury. And also, I have realized since last month, Sky of Further Up and Further In. (Sorry, Sky!) The topic for this month is Writerly Resolutions and Goals, which I talked about some earlier this month, but I'm happy to discuss it more.

1. What were your writing achievements last year?
Well, I did all three NaNo events, with 50K in April (The Way of the Pen) and November (Binding Destiny) and 20K in July (Once Upon a Dream). I finished two of the three WIPs I had at the start of the year, as well as The Way of the Pen. I also edited Once Upon a Dream and submitted it to the Five Magic Spindles contest hosted by Rooglewood Press.

2. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?
I . . . do not have a single top priority writing project. I have several high-priority ones, which will each take precedence at different times of the year. At the moment, finishing Monster in the Castle is the highest priority. Once that's done, editing my completed novels will be my main project.

3. List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.
-Brevity. I am very good at writing long, long novels and scenes and such. I am not so good at being concise. And while long is good, there is something to be said for being able to fit a complete and cohesive plot into ten pages or less.
-Poetry. I don't exactly write poetry very much, and I feel like a lot of it (not all of it, but a lot) is pretty average. And while I'll always be primarily a novelist, I would like to get better at verse.
-Editing consistently. In some ways, editing is easier and more fun than the first draft- the plot and scenes are already there; I'm just polishing it up. However, if a story or scene needs more than just polishing, I . . . well, I tend to procrastinate. I know I shouldn't- I want to be able to edit a certain amount every day just like I write a certain amount every day. (Or, so many days a week, anyway.)
-Character voice. I feel like a lot of my characters sound really similar? I mean, there are exceptions. ( For example, Jared, Jason, and Jarek all have distinctive voices in their stories- and they're distinct from each other as well, though more subtly- and Katelyn might be recognizable simply because she's my only character to regularly make book/movie/etc. references. And Abbie Alyron has an accent that I stole from Entwined.) But a lot of my characters do sound very similar, in my opinion.
-Worldbuilding. By which I mean I want to do more of it this year, outside of thinking of things while I'm writing and saying "Hey! That sounds like a cool idea! Let's use this!" Once I finish Monster in the Castle, I'm planning to go through Storyworld First by Jill Williamson and use whatever advice and such I find in there to further develop the worlds of Berstru, Aralan, Udarean, and whatever I end up calling the world of my fairy-tale retellings. 

4. Are you participating in any writing challenges?
I'll do the Camp NaNoWriMos, and hopefully the main NaNoWriMo as well. If GTW does the 100-4-100 challenge this year, I'll do that too. If not, well, probably no. Not unless you count the occasional long-term word war with friends.

5. What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?
 . . . I don't have a critique partner or beta reader situation? The closest I come at the moment is that I occasionally post bits of my stories (or, in the case of Berstru Tales, whole novels) on Whitehall Forums for my friends there to read. I will need to get some betas, though, once I finish some editing.

6. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?
I got Storyworld First for Christmas, so I'm going to read that as soon as I finish Monster in the Castle. Other than that . . . nope.

7. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?
That's a tough one. I guess maybe Eleri from Between Two Worlds, who . . . well, she's not as vibrant in my mind as Aedon or Jarek, let alone Katelyn and Ella. How will I get to know her better? By writing about her more. And by answering questions in the Supporting Character Questionnaire on the NaNo site, which is one of my three favorite threads on that forum.

8. Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?
 I plan on editing. Great deals of editing. And also researching where to query and submit so that when I'm done with a round or two of edits, I'll be ready to start querying and such.

9. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?
Well, for one thing, I want to see more steampunk. For another thing, I want to see more characters- main characters- in fantasy and related genres who are pretty much average. Characters who aren't super-warriors or such, or perhaps even characters who can't fight, period. Characters who don't have special, magical powers. It's not that I don't love these characters- it's just that I'd like a few main characters who are a bit more like me. (That's one of the many, many reasons why I love the Goldstone Wood books- the vast majority of the main characters are not particularly skilled or powerful or anything of that sort, not in the traditional Heroic ways.)

10. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?
By the end of 2016, I want to have all my current draft-WIPs finished. I want to have finished editing at least one, preferably two or three, of the novels I have in queue to be edited. I want to have entered the next Rooglewood Press contest, and I want to have taken steps towards publishing- preferably have something ready to submit for publishing. I want to have written a host of short stories and poetry that I can share on here and on Whitehall. And, most importantly, I want to have grown as a writer and a person.

Well, there you have it. My goals for 2016. Will I accomplish all of them? Any of them?

We'll have to wait and see.

Thanks for reading!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Random Fridays: Book Title Poetry
Hey'a, everyone! It's been a while since I participated in Random Fridays, but this week's topic, I couldn't resist. Emma's introduced me to the idea of book title poetry, and I thought I'd give it a try. The following poems are meant to be read as parts of the same story- though each can, I believe, stand on its own.

(And yes, I know, I might've cheated a little on adding words. I think it's ok, though.)

Act I
[A] Golden Daughter
By darkness hid,
Writing magic:
Words of radiance
[To] white.

Act II
The Hero of Ages,
[Turned from]
The way of kings
[By] a swiftly tilting planet,
[Now] out of darkness rising.

[Shattered by the]
Orphan's Song;
The ravaged realm
From darkness won
[By] the return of the king.
I hope you enjoyed these! (And that I might've inspired you to create some title poetry of your own!)
Thanks for reading!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A New Year's Hopes

Well, here we are. A week into 2016. So far, I think I've done fairly well at not writing the year as 2015 when I date things, but then again, I haven't had to write the date much.

2015 was definitely a very eventful year. In the space of 12 months, I:
  • Completed two of the three WIPs I had at the beginning of the year.
  • Took the SAT for the first and last time.
  • Found out I was moving.
  • Participated in Camp NaNoWriMo.
  • Participated in another Camp NaNoWriMo.
  • Spent two weeks on WSS Support Staff.
  • Packed up my life and moved to New York state.
  • Took an online dual-enrollment course through Cedarville University.
  • Edited and submitted Once Upon a Dream for the Rooglewood Press Five Magic Spindles contest.
  • Participated in NaNoWriMo.
  • Read 116 books.
I hope this year will be less difficult than last year was. And it might be. But I know there's changes still coming- one in particular. You can all probably guess what it is . . . but it's half a year away, and so I'm trying not to stress about it too much. And maybe I'll be fortunate; maybe that'll be the only really big change I face this year. Maybe, with the exception of that one thing, 2016 will be an easy year. Maybe.

(I probably just made my chances of this year being easy a whole lot slimmer . . .)

But however hard or easy 2016 proves to be, there are some things I want to accomplish, both in the creative realm and the life-in-general realm.
  • I want to finish Monster in the Castle. This is looking fairly likely. I know pretty well where I'm going with the rest of the story, and as long as I stay motivated and write a solid amount every day, I should be able to get it done. I'm feeling pretty excited about the story right now, so that's a huge improvement from where I was most of last year.
  • I want to write more short stories. For the last two years, I've been focused pretty exclusively on novels and the occasional shorter project. And I love novels; there's so much room for plotting and character development and just having fun. However, they're also time-consuming and require a great deal of editing before I can show them to anyone. So while I'll probably still write novels for at least one of the NaNo events, I do want to focus more on novellas and short stories.
  • I want to do both Camp NaNoWriMos. I don't know yet if I'll do the full NaNo in November, mostly because of that big change I mentioned earlier. I want to. But I also want to not go crazy from stress. I figure that I can decide in September or October. But because of that uncertainty, I do want to make sure I get in both Camp NaNos, even if I have to take a smaller goal than the full 50K.
  • I want to do more editing and maybe, just maybe, have something ready to submit to publishers by the end of the year. I have two different novels that I think are unique enough to make good potential debuts: Between Two Worlds and The Way of the Pen. Both still need a good bit of polishing and rewriting, but if I'm focusing more on writing short stories than novels, it should be doable. (For the record, I do plan to pursue traditional publishing over self-publishing. I may or may not make a post about it sometime, if anyone wants to know my reasons.)
  • I want to do WSS Support Staff again. The two weeks I spent on Support Staff were two of the best weeks of my entire 2015. I don't know if the second time will be as powerful- I'm hoping it will; I'm hoping that I won't fall into the trap of expecting it to be just like the first and get disappointed when it isn't- but I want to go.
  • I want to survive the major change I keep mentioning with minimal emotional turmoil. I . . . do not know how that will go. There are a lot of people involved. And a lot of being a long way from home with no chance of going back anytime soon. And a lot of a very different environment than I'm used to. But I will, hopefully, be with at least one of my friends from VA, and whatever happens, I am never alone. (I also want to figure out how to pay for this change . . . something which I'm working on now. I have no idea if it's going well or not. I'm trying not to get stressed out about it, and actually doing a fairly good job.)
  • I want to do more photography . . . which I say every year and rarely do very successfully. I managed for about half of last year . . . but then moving happened. So I have an excuse there. Hopefully I'll manage better this year, but it's hard to say- New York may be pretty, but so far, January seems too cold to go out and take pictures. (Hmm . . . maybe I can try to scrounge up items for my own personal macro workshop or something . . .)
  • I want to reread more. I've read a lot of new books over the last two years. And I have reread a fair bit, but not as much as I would've liked. Which is sad, because there's some series I really want to revisit, but I don't because there's always something new and exciting and ooh, shiny. But, honestly, as long as I am indeed reading, I'm not complaining.
  • I want to try tabletop-style RPGs. I've heard a lot about these, and they sound really fun- I mean, it's basically like online roleplaying, right? Except with fancy combat systems and dice and actual talking to people instead of typing on the computer. And online roleplaying is basically my favorite thing to do on the internet. So it should be really fun. The problem is finding someone to do it with.
I have no idea how many of these goals I'll succeed in- or if I'll succeed in any. But whatever happens, I know my Author has a plan, and it'll be better than anything I come up with. I just have to remember that.

What are your hopes for 2016? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)