Monday, February 29, 2016

February Doings

First off, happy Leap Day! I don't know if anyone actually does anything for Leap Day . . . but if you do, tell me in the comments. (I, personally, will be enjoying an extra day of reading. Hopefully.) Anyway, onto the doings of this month!


  • The entirety of the month was spent in a long-term word war with some friends at Whitehall, which helped a lot with motivation. I didn't win- the person who did win left me behind midway through the month and I never caught up- but I'm still happy with how I did. Why? Well . . .
  • I finished Monster in the Castle! Two years and just-under-ten-months of (on-and-off) work and it's finally done! Or . . . drafting it is, for clarification. It still needs a lot of editing, but that'll wait. I ended up writing the climax and denouement in about grand and glorious days heavy with inspiration. Overall, I'm actually really happy with how it turned out.
  • Non-spoilery snippet from the climax (well, non-spoilery considering what the story is based on):
"Queen du Karel's expression tightened. 'Servant's work? Do you intend to make a mockery of your betrothed, Lord Aethan?'
'No more than you plan to make a mockery of my country, your majesty,' Aethan replied, with a diplomat's smile. 'In any case, any lady of Aldurna, even the queen herself, could perform this task. Surely the princess is capable as well.'"
  • I really thought I'd be burned out on this world and characters by now- that after I finished Monster, I'd want to give up on these fairy tale retellings for a year or two. But, amazingly, I'm not. I have ideas for two or three more novels in my head, and while I'm not sure when I'll write them, I do want it to be (relatively) soon. 
  • However, at the moment I have no WIP (which is a really weird feeling . . .) and instead I'm hoping to focus on editing and short stories. Oh, and worldbuilding. Storyworld First awaits!
  • Amazingly, I did get a respectable amount of editing done this month, despite all the writing. I'm up to chapter eight of Destinies and Decisions, so huzzah! I also figured out how to use yWriter . . . ish. It works much better once you have the tedium of making characters and all that set-up stuff. And it works quite well for when you want to work ahead (as long as you know roughly how many chapters are going to be in between what you're working on and what you've already done) or if you need to switch around the order of chapters . . . which is something I've had to do a bit.   


  • You know how I said I only read 12 books last month? I read even fewer this month: 10 total, and one of them was more of a short story. However, considering how much writing I did, I'm not really surprised.
  • The reading highlights of the month, at least at the time I'm writing this, were Stars Above (the Lunar Chronicles anthology, which was wonderful and provided a very nice closure to the series . . . even if all my predictions about the wedding of the century were wrong!) and The Eye of the World (which was probably as long as any of the Stormlight Archive and rather slower . . . but still very good).
  • I mentioned last month that I was hoping to reread the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy- which I succeeded in doing! I liked some bits more than the first time and some bits less . . . but I'd forgotten a lot of what happened, so it was almost like reading them for the first time, except I had a bit of warning of certain especially-memorable bits.
  • I also enjoyed The Screaming Staircase and The Dagger in the Desk, both of which were deliciously creepy and a bit Jackaby-esque, though not quite as much as I'd been hoping. I have the next two books in the series waiting in my room, but I haven't read them yet, because . . .
  • I finally have Bands of Mourning! At the time I write this, I haven't actually read it yet, because shortly before the previously-mentioned three grand and glorious days of writing, I put a personal ban on reading any and all Sanderson until I finished my novel. However, since I didn't actually pick up BoM until Friday, I first reread Warbreaker and Elantris, both of which I already had out. There are, by the way, some rather striking similarities between the two novels. I'm not sure which of the two is better, though. And, since I finished Elantris yesterday, I'll hopefully be reading Bands of Mourning by the time you see this post! At last!


  • My family celebrated Valentine's Day with peppermint patty brownies and our usual half-dipped heart cookies. Well, the brownies might not have been for Valentine's Day, per se, but they were close to it. The point is, both brownies and cookies were delicious, and they would've been the outside-of-reading-and-writing highlight of the month, if not for . . .
  • Sunshine! Glorious, beautiful sunshine! I mean, we had snow (not a ton, but enough), and we had miserably cold temperatures, and we had weeks of clouds. But the better part of the last week has been sunshine and fairly warm temperatures- all but one of the bad days wouldn't have been unreasonable for a Virginia February; the better days felt more like spring- so thank God! I even went for a walk yesterday, that's how nice it was. Of course, it's supposed to snow tomorrow . . . but that's tomorrow.
  • I promise that I won't talk about the weather in every Doings post. Only when there's something exceptional that happened. 
  • I am, by the way, getting really tired of hearing and seeing the Allegiant trailer on YouTube. I know it hasn't been out for terribly long (or I don't think it has?) . . . but I feel like I've heard it way too often.
  • Last week was just a really good week in general, ok? There was lots of writing, there was rereading-of-Sanderson, there was lovely weather, and calculus didn't kill me. 

March Plans!

  • I'm going to do a lot of editing, much of it on Destinies and Decisions, but I'm hoping to get back to Between Two Worlds some as well. I'm still not quite sure how I'm going to balance them . . . depending how Destinies and Decisions goes, I may try to switch back and forth between them, or I might just work on Destinies until I get stuck and then go back to BTW for a while.
  • As mentioned previously, I'm also going to be trying to do some short story writing (mostly one-shots) and worldbuilding. I may or may not end up requesting prompts on here for one-shots . . . my plot bunnies have an annoying habit of hiding whenever I'm actually looking for them. And, of course, I do need to be thinking about Camp NaNoWriMo in April . . .
  • Tomorrow is the announcement of the winners of teh Five Magic Spindles contest hosted by Rooglewood Press! I'm a bit nervous (to put it lightly) since this is my first year entering and I have no idea how much chance I have . . . And if you happen to notice me squealing, yelling, dying, or otherwise being somewhat-incoherently excited on forums or Goodreads tomorrow, it's either the contest or Bands of Mourning. Or both. I'm really hoping for both.
How was your February? What plans do you have for March? Are you celebrating Leap Day? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tagged! Getting to Know Me!

Hey'a! I was recently tagged by my lovely friend Ryebrynn with the Getting to Know Me Tag. Which is probably good, because I'm pretty sure there are some people who read my blog who don't actually know me elsewhere in real life or the internet.

Name: Sarah. Or, if you're one of my characters, Lady Taleweaver.
Nickname: One of my friends calls me Quillia. Another friend (who I don't talk to much anymore because she got busy) used to call me Late For Dinner, because I used to introduce myself with a modified Redwall quote: "My name's (username), but you can call me anything as long as you don't call me late for dinner."
Birthday: If you need to know this, you already do.
Place of birth: Virginia.
Star sign: Haven't the foggiest idea.
Occupation: Writer, student, and bookworm.
Photo by Goodhart Photography
Hair color: Brown
Hair length: Down-to-my waist long. I want it to be longer.
Eye color: Blue.
Best feature: Not sure . . . either my eyes or my hair, I guess?
Braces: Nope!
Piercings: I do not like pain, even very briefly. No.
Tattoos: In addition to not liking pain, I also don't like needles. No.
Righty or lefty: I am not left-handed.

Best friend: Um. My first best friend who I remember was a girl named Grace, who I knew from church/Bible study. She was several years older than me, and I pretty much copied everything she did. (She's actually one of the people in my poem "Do You Remember Me?")
Award: Not sure, but probably something in AWANA- maybe whatever award the Cubbies get for completing their first book?
Sport: Hahaha. You're funny.
Real holiday: Um. Is this holiday as in Christmas, Easter, etc? Or holiday as in the British word for vacation? If the former, the Christmas after my birthday. If the latter . . . I don't know. Probably sometime when I went to Florida to visit my grandma.
Concert: Awakening Fest! I went with my youth group and saw Skillet and Family Force 5 and Fireflight and The Letter Black and Dara MacLean and did I mention Skillet? And I had a signed poster from it hanging on my wall until we moved, but then it never got put back up.
Film: The Lord of the Rings! 
TV Show: I don't watch TV. 
Color: Depends on the day. At the moment . . . blue.
 Song: . . . One song. Do you have any idea how many songs there are that I love? But, picking a few . . . "Hero" by Skillet, "The Real World" by Owl City, "We are Giants" by Lindsey Stirling, "Welcome to the Masquerade" by Thousand Foot Krutch, and "Tiny Heart" (otherwise known by me as the theme song for Heartless) by Flyleaf.     
 Restaurant: Anita's or Bertucci's, depending on whether I want Mexican or Italian. 
Shop: Just about any bookstore!  
Books: The Lord of the Rings, The Tales of Goldstone Wood, and Mistborn. Oh, and Howl's Moving Castle!  
Shoes: I have a pair of tan sandals that are fairly pretty and super comfy, so if I have to wear shoes, I like those.<3
Feeling: Eh. Mildly bored? 
Single or taken: Single (and passively crushing on various book characters).
Eating: Nothing. But I had chili and cornbread for dinner, so that was yummy.
Thinking About: This post, and trying to remember what I need to get done tonight and tomorrow.
Watching Reading: I'm not actually watching anything (see the "I don't watch TV" bit above), but I'm currently reading Elantris.
Wearing: A purple microfleece pullover, white shirt, and super-comfy brown corduroys (that feel like sweatpants in a way, but look nice). Oh, and grey knit-looking slippers. 
Want to be married: Yes, assuming I find the right guy. Though it's not something I stress over.   
Want children: Um . . . maybe I'm just immature, but . . . not really? I mean, don't get the wrong idea. Motherhood is an amazing, important thing, I love my own mother, and most of the women who've influenced me most are moms. And if God says "Sarah, I want you to have kids," then of course I'd do that. But honestly? I think I'd be perfectly happy without children. And there's a fair chance that'll change when I'm older, but . . . yeah.
Careers in mind
: My dream job is to be a full-time writer who makes enough to live comfortably. However, since that's not terribly likely (and even if it does happen, it'll take time), my plan is to go into technical writing or another communications field (maybe marketing? but not journalism!) and write on the side.

Where you want to live
: Probably either northern Virginia or Texas, but . . . I don't know. I'm open to other options. Somewhere with history and non-miserable winters, and somewhere I can own a rifle and a pistol and have a place to go shooting on a semi-regular basis. I'd like somewhere with trees, but it's not a necessity as long as wherever I am is still fairly pretty and isn't inner-city or something. And I'd like to live in a house with secret passages in it, one of which preferably leads to my own personal library . . . but that might be a bit tough.  
God: Most definitely
Miracles: Yes- not just in Biblical times but today as well.
Love at first sight: Ehhhhh . . . sometimes.
Ghosts: Nope.
Aliens: Probably not. There's a chance they could be out there, but odds are, no.
Soul mates: Yes.
Heaven and Hell: Absolutely. 
Kissing on the first date: Stars, no!
Yourself: In general, yes. 

And now I need to tag someone else . . . I suppose I'll tag Allison Rudivich, and anyone else who wants to do this tag.
Thanks for reading!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Friday, February 19, 2016

If They Were Real . . .

As a general rule, we writers love our characters, and tend to joke about how our characters hate us because of what we put them through, or how they're not cooperating with our plans, or such. (Though . . . it's not always a joke.) But what would they really think of us if they knew us as people, not authors? If we went to their worlds or they came to ours, and we met, how would we get along? That's the question I'm answering for five of my characters this Friday!
  1. Rachelle Firhirt (Berstru Tales) and I would probably get along famously, whether or not she knew I was her author . . . but, then again, Rachelle gets along with pretty much everyone. She loves to meet new people and learn about their lives (and share her own with them), and she's always ready with a smile and a helping hand. Of course, if she were real outside my head, my life would probably be a lot more exciting . . . not all of it by my choice! I'd be happy to get a dragon ride or two with her and Skyla, don't get me wrong. However, while Rachelle and I share an appreciation for adventure, I prefer to get my share of it through books, and Rachelle would rather live hers- and bring all her friends (me included, in this case) along for the ride!
  2. In theory, Prince Hayden of Aldurna (fairy tale retellings) should also get along well with me. The problem? We'd never actually talk. He's not unfriendly, but he'd rather observe than talk. And while I might say hello, I'm not great at, y'know, conversation. And since Hayden's one of my favorite characters, I'd either be getting really excited (and, unfortunately, making him doubly wary of me) or kind of just being in awe (which is not helpful for intelligent conversation). So . . . if we could actually, by some miracle, get a conversation going, we'd probably be good. But otherwise? Nope.
  3. Speaking of characters who I'd be kind of in awe of if I met them outside my head, Gwen Alyron would probably find me off-putting for the same reasons she does her sister Emma: Emma and I both view her, to some degree, as someone we wish we could be but know we never will. (I'm ok with that, for the record. Emma, not so much.) We see her as a hero and an adventurer and a leader and someone who knows what she's doing. And she is all those things . . . but she doesn't always feel like she is. And while neither Emma or I would say these things out loud, well, Gwen's a mindreader, and she'd know every word of it anyway. She'd also know that I know her failings, her weaknesses- and that would make things even more awkward. But, if we could work past that, I think Gwen and I could be friends- just not close ones.
  4. On the other hand, neither Jared Alyron (Berstru Tales) or Jason Silver (fairy tale retellings) would have a problem with me- but I might have one with them! In-story, I love these two. They're fun to write, they get strong reactions from other characters, they have the best banter . . . but in real life? They'd annoy me just as much as they annoy their fellow characters. And while I wouldn't go so far as Poppy does and actually slap either of them, I'd probably be tempted. (Jarek Gilleth (Between Two Worlds), though? He's the same character type, but much nicer- and so, while I might end up flustered a lot around him because I couldn't think of a good repartee to his teasing, we'd still get along.) 
  5. Finally, Ariana Nernathon and I already know each other, after a fashion . . . and since she's a bardess, there's no way she wouldn't know I'm her author. And so there's a chance she might have some pointed words for me . . . but once she'd had her say, and I'd defended my position, and we'd both stopped being annoyed, we'd chat over favorite books and legends, and I'd lend her The Lord of the Rings and she'd let me borrow some of her books and scrolls (which would either be useful, so I'd know what they'd say and could reference them in the story, or useless, as I'd have to make up everything on them). So, I think in the end, we'd end up being friends.
What about you? How do you think you and your characters would get along if you met in real life? Please tell me in the comments- or even in a blog post of your own!
Thanks for reading!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)   

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Or: "To the people who think bookworms have no life"
February 8, 2016

What did I do today? Oh, a hundred things!
I roamed the rustic woods, for start,
And trekked the mountain ‘til I found its heart.
I learned the charmed song the fairies sing
And was guest in marble halls of kings.
I walked with elves, questioned, and learned their art;
I road with knights as they their foes did part;
And I soared the skies on mighty dragon’s wings.
All these things and more I’ve done
Since the day has first begun.
And without once leaving my chair,
I’ve fought in wars and battles won.
For there’s no limit to dreams to take me anywhere,
I but open a book and then- poof! I’m there!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Beautiful People: Valentine's Edition!
So, let's just get this out there . . . I do not write a lot of romance. I mean, I write more now than I did three years ago, but I honestly don't have that many couples in my stories. In general, I'd rather focus on family relationships or friendships. However, there are some characters who are together (or headed that way), and those I tend to ship very hard- though few more than Kate and Aedon from Between Two Worlds. And since this month's Beautiful People theme is couples, guess who I'm answering these questions for? (I know some people do this as an interview, and I might try that another month, but since there's two of them, it's easier to just do it this way.)

1. How did they first meet?
Aedon was the first person Kate met in Aralan. She’d been told that she was being called to another world, but hadn’t been told how or when . . . and, unfortunately for her, the portal landed her not in the city but in the woods outside the city. Thankfully, Aedon happened to be nearby, found her, and guided her to the city. 

2. What were their first impressions of each other?
Aedon thought Kate was rather adorable, if kind of odd. Kate, for her part, was kind of in awe but mostly just happy to have been found by someone very nice.

3. How long have they been a couple?
Officially? Less than a year. Unofficially? About two years, give or take a month or two.

4. How committed/loyal are they to each other? Would they break up over a secret or a disagreement? Could stress drive them apart? Would they die for each other?
Kate and Aedon are highly committed to each other. There’s not much that could possibly drive them apart- they have their disagreements, but they’ll do their best to work things out once they’ve cooled down. When they’re in danger, though, any arguments are forgotten- they’re fighting side by side, watching each other’s backs, and, yes, if necessary they’d willingly die for each other. (Except they’d probably argue over who was going to die for whom . . . most of their disagreements stem from the fact that they’re highly protective of each other and of their families.)

5. List 5 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)
-Kate loves pie of all kinds- she’s a little notorious for it- but only Aedon knows that her favorite type is strawberry-rhubarb.
-Not a food quirk, but: Kate always dreamed of being a princess/lady in a fantasy world . . . which Aedon found out, and that’s why he started calling her “Lady Kate.”  
-Aedon drinks coffee. Kate drinks tea. No, they don’t fight over it.
-Aedon had never had peanut butter before the events of Between Two Worlds. Now Kate has a stash imported from Earth, which he ‘raids’ on occasion. (She knows about it, and gave him permission to do so.)
-Not sure if it’s a quirk, exactly, but Aedon is a surprisingly good cook, at least in the field.  

6. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?
‘Disapprove’ is a strong word, but Aedon’s family has discouraged it. Traditionally, people live their lives in the world where they’re born. They may visit another world temporarily, but they won’t stay there. So, while Aedon’s family loves Kate, they weren’t thrilled when the two fell in love.

7. What would be an ideal date?
Something exciting, but not seriously dangerous. Exploring, a mini-quest, something like that. Followed up, naturally, by a stop at their favorite bakery for pie.

8. What are their personality dynamics? Similar? Contrasting? Do they fight a lot or mesh perfectly?
Kate and Aedon are pretty similar in several ways. They’re both protectors by nature- not only in the way that I mentioned in #4, but in the sense that they both plan to spend their lives protecting Aralan as a whole from evil. Kate is a bit more fiery than Aedon, and also more prone to snap decisions, while Aedon is more thoughtful, so they complement each other in that respect. They’re also both on the stubborn side . . . but they work it out. 

9. What have been their best and worst moments together as a couple?
Their worst moment (well, rather more than a moment) as a couple was after the war in Aralan was over, but before Kate returned to Earth. Kate was basically pushing everyone away because she was feeling broken and guilty and was just in a really, really dark place. And she pushed Aedon away most of all because she felt like she didn’t even deserve to see him. And she may or may not have disappeared for a little while.
Their best moment is connected to that worst moment. After a while, Aedon and Jarek agreed that they were fine with giving Kate space but they couldn’t just stand by and do nothing and they were worried about what might happen if someone didn’t intervene. So they found her, but Jarek let Aedon handle actually talking to her (because Jarek’s the tough-love sort and that was not what Kate needed at that point). And Aedon alternately talked to her and prayed over her for a while, until she finally started responding, and long story short, he helped her get on the path to healing. 

10. Where do they see themselves and their relationship in the next few years?
They’ll court for a while, until the standards of both families and Society have been met; then they’ll get married. In the meantime, they both fully intend to keep having adventures.

I hope you all enjoyed hearing about Kate and Aedon. Many thanks to Cait Grace for hosting this event, and thanks to all of you for reading!
Happy Valentine's Day!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)