Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July Doings!

Well, it's the end of another busy month, which means it's time for another Doings post. July really has just flown by, it seems-

What's that you say? July's not over yet? We still have over a week to go?

Well, I do actually know that. However, I won't be able to put up Doings at the usual time, for reasons which I'll explain later. For now, on with the post!


  •  As I mentioned last month, I'm once again participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. My project this month was Fight Song, a superhero novella. Synopsis for those interested:
Three years ago, she saw murder done.
Three years ago, everyone said she was crazy.
They still say it now. But she knows what she saw. She knows what she heard. And she will find the killer no one knows is a killer and bring him to justice, even if no one in the world believes her.
Because she's just one girl. But she has the power of her songs at her back- songs that can shape the world if used the right way- and she's not going to let anything stop her from completing her mission.
  • My goal was only 10K words, which is my lowest NaNo goal yet. I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to get through, and I'm glad I didn't try for more. Although I did hit 10K less than halfway through the month, I don't think I could've made it to 15K, let 20K, by this time. As it is, I won with about 12K words, and I should be able to finish the rest of the novel sometime in the next week or two.
  • For those desiring snippets, the first two paragraphs of the novel:
The digital clock behind the receptionist's desk had just turned to twelve, and I was starting to wonder if I could get away with sleeping on duty when I heard it: the song of death.
The discordant notes jolted me into alertness, chasing all thoughts of sleep from my mind. I'd heard that song once before- when my family sat 'round my gramma's bed while she traveled through the pearly gates. It sounded worse now. Then it had bordered on being real music; this time it was . . . not. Not music, not simply noise, but something so harsh and wrong that listening was physically painful.
  • And another piece of dialog that made me rather happy:
"All business, Songbird?" Jonathan turns his computer towards me. "Our villain committed the classic blunder-"
I can't resist. "He got involved in a land war in Asia?"
Jonathan rolls his eyes, though in an amused way. "No."
"Oh, so he went up against a Sicilian when death was on the line?"
"Good grief, Songbird, do you want the information or not?"
  • Outside of Camp, I haven't done much other writing or editing, though I am hoping to re-edit at least one chapter of Destinies and Decisions before the month is out, and there's one or two stories (or story pieces) that I want to write for blogs if I can find time. We'll see how that works out.


  • I have read approximately 50% of The Shadow Rising and that's all. In my defense, I've been busy, and when I've gotten free time, other things have taken priority. In general, my feelings about this book so far are about the same as my feelings about the first three books. I'm not a Rand fan, though he has improved. I like Perrin, though he's currently making a questionable choice or two and his refusal to admit that he's ta'veren is rather amusing. Faile needs to get off her high horse and stop driving Perrin crazy. Egwene is challenging Celeana Sardothien for the position of "Most Aggravating Female Character (Who Still Actually Does Something) Ever." Mat and Thom are both awesome and two of my favorite characters. Elayne is alternately annoying me with her Rand-crazyness and making me happy as she gets a chance to shine a bit away from Egwene's shadow. and Nynaeve continues to be fabulous and my other favorite character.
  • I'm still hoping to finish The Shadow Rising by the end of July. I don't know if it'll happen or not, though.
  • Oh, and I listened to The Penderwicks at Point Mouette with my family. I always enjoy the Penderwicks books, so that was fun. And it's sort of reading, right?


  •  Most of the month was occupied by my internship, which just ended today. I am very glad to not have to get up at 5:15 or 5:45 anymore unless I want to, let me tell you. I did enjoy the work, though, and I accomplished a lot in the relatively short time I was there. And today I had to give a briefing on what I'd done and learned during my internship, and I actually did pretty well, so that made me happy.
  • We celebrated Independence Day weekend with a trip down to Lexington to visit a family friend who we haven't seen since we moved. I enjoyed the trip, and got a lot of writing done on it- 9+ hours in the car is pretty useful in that respect (even if a lot of that time was taken up by listening to the aforementioned audiobook).
  • I crocheted my sister a dragon! The picture is above, for those interested. I'm really happy with how it turned out, especially as it's only my second crochet project. The hardest part of making him was actually sewing all the pieces together; making the parts was all single crochet and decreasing, which is pretty easy. I used the Hannah's Red Dragon pattern, though I used the wings from Tarragon the Gentle Dragon (which is a knit pattern that my sister has done more than a dozen times) because when I grabbed the dragon pattern, the author hadn't added wings. I want to make myself a similar dragon now, but I have to figure out what yarn to use, as I don't have enough red left.
  • Last weekend, my church had a summer carnival/festival/mini-VBS thing. I ended up running the can-knock-down game. It was exhausting, but not as bad as I expected, and some of the kids were pretty cute. I think my game ended up being one of the most popular ones, partially because it was easy and partially because I tended to be generous with the tickets. 
  • We also had a fair amount of family visiting this month. My grandpa came up the weekend of the 9th, which was fun. And then last weekend my aunt, uncle, and cousins visited, which was also nice since we haven't seen them in a while.
  • We finally visited Fort Stanwix! Fort Stanwix is a recreation of a Revolutionary War fort- the only fort which never fell to the British during that war, and the site where the first red, white, and blue American flag was flown. I've wanted to go there ever since we moved here, since it looked pretty cool and like a great place to take pictures. As it turns out, it's even better than I expected. Like Williamsburg, it's a sort of "living history" site- but because it's a recreation rather than an original, you can actually go into the rooms, sit on the chairs, touch and pick up the stuff, and so on- which both made it more fun and better for photography. A few rooms were blocked off, yes, but I think that they may be on a rotation: some are open one day, some are open another, and some are open all the time. I also did my first escape room at Fort Stanwix, which was really fun. It wasn't quite what I was expecting- it was less like the escape room games I've played on the computer and more like a Nancy Drew or puzzle game- but I still enjoyed it.
  • I bought a Kindle! I haven't actually used it because (A) I don't have a case for it yet, and (B) I've barely read anything all month. But it's still nice to have one that's all my own as opposed to technically being my mom's. (Not that she used it much at all- it was mostly my sister and I who read things on it.)

 August (and the last ten days of July) Plans!

  •  As you may or may not have guessed and/or remember from my June Doings post, I'm taking another internet hiatus, starting on Friday, July 22. It should last for two weeks and a bit, so I'll be back in mid-August.
  • However, I may be spotty during the rest of August; it's hard to say. I should be back to my regular posting schedule (or will have formulated a new schedule) by September, barring calamity. Just warning you.
  • I really want to read more in August and the end of July than I have the rest of the month. No internet should help with that, though, as should not having an internship to keep me busy.
  • I also want to finish writing Fight Song and then maybe work on some short fiction. And also fanfiction, if I can get my ideas sorted out. And once my hiatus ends, I'm going to get back to work editing Destinies and Decisions and whatever else I decide needs edited. 
  • And there's something else happening in August, the nature of which some of you (or most of you) may be able to guess. And I think I should be slightly terrified about it, but I haven't had much time to be, so I'm just vaguely nervous and absentmindedly conscious that I really ought to have done more to prepare by now. So that's probably good- the not-being-terrified bit, I mean. Not the needing-to-prepare bit.
How's your July been? What plans do you have for August and the rest of the month? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Beautiful People: July 2016 Edition

Hosted by Paper Fury
Hello, everyone! It's time for another edition of Beautiful People! Once again, there's no particular theme to these questions, just an assortment of various queries. And, once again, I'm doing it proper interview style, because that's more fun. Today I'll be interviewing Callie, the heroine of my Camp NaNoWriMo WIP, Fight Song. (Incidentally: I hit my goal for the month on said WIP! The novella isn't done yet, but I'm hoping to finish that by the end of the month too.)

Anyway! On with the interview!

1.  Do you want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?
Callie: Good lord. I don't know anymore. When I was a little girl I figured I'd find a nice guy and have a few kids; then I got older and I decided I wanted to into music, and then there was the murder and . . . I don't know anymore. Ask me in five years; maybe I'll tell you then.

2. What is your weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)
Callie: My violin- Well, the music off my violin. I'm better on the guitar, but for a weapon, the violin has more oomph.

3. What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone else, and why did you do it?
Callie: Nicest thing? Not sure about that either, not really . . . I've rescued a few people; that count?  I wasn't trying to be nice; it was just the right thing to do. Actually trying to be nice; guess you could say taking care of some of my friends when they were sick- throwing-up sick, I mean- would count.

4. Have you ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?
Callie: Mm, define physically violent?

If you think it might be physically violent, it probably is.
Callie: Well, then, I guess so. I've never hit someone, not since I was old enough to know better. 'Least, not hitting them in a way that's meant to hurt. Punching a guy friend in the arm when he's being an idiot's doesn't count. But I've used my songs to hurt, physically hurt, sometimes. Doesn't feel violent, though, using music to control wind or water or fire or earth or steel or anything else you can think of. And I don't do it just because- just when the person I'm after is hurting someone else. Not that I'm not tempted sometimes.

5. Are you a rule-follower or a rebel?
Callie: Rule-follower, mostly.

6. Are you organized or messy?
Callie: In-between. I'm not a neat freak, but Momma was, and she's taught me enough that I keep my place clean enough.

7. What makes you feel loved, and who was the last person to make you feel that way?
Callie: Oh, little things mostly. Doing a chore for me so I don't have to, making or buying food for me, making sure I'm ok, spending time with me doing whatever, taking an interest in my activities. It doesn't take much, honestly. So, last person to make me feel that way . . . Rebecca, honestly. But she makes everyone feel that way- she wants to know about your life and are how are you doing and what do you like, and she actually cares about the answer.

8. What do you eat for breakfast?
Callie: At home, Momma never lets anyone leave the house without a good breakfast. Even if you can't wait for her to be up and making things, she always keeps baked oatmeal cups in the freezer that you can heat up, and cut-up fresh fruit in the fridge or freezer, depending on the season. Here in the city . . . coffee and whatever I can grab before I run out the door. Bowl of cereal, granola bar, something like that. Let me tell you, sometimes I think it's mornings that make me miss home most.

9. Have you ever lost someone close to you? What happened?
Callie: Gramma- Dad's momma- died when I was 'bout ten. No one was surprised, really. She'd been sick for a while. But it still hurt; I missed her stories and her singing with me. And it was the first time I'd really experienced death.

10. What’s your treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do you reward yourself?)
Callie: I'd say coffee, but that's a way of life, not a treat. Fancy coffees qualify, though.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about Callie! Are you doing Beautiful People this month? If you are, please link me to your post in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Original picture via
Hello, everyone! Usually, around this time of year, I'd do a post featuring my top ten or so reads of the first half of the year . . . which I may still do sometime. But this year, I'm also doing something a little different. See, Deborah O'Carroll over at the Page Dreamer has tagged me with the Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag, which looks super fun. So, I'm going to do the tag, and if y'all still want to hear about my top ten books for the first half of the year, let me know in the comments and I'll either post them or tell you there. For now, though, on with the tag!

According to Goodreads, I've read about 69 books- the number may be a bit off because Goodreads still doesn't count rereads (unless, of course, you read the book before you got Goodreads). That means I have about 30 books left before I reach my completely arbitrary goal of 99 books. Those interested can see my full challenge, sorted by rating, over on the Goodreads site.

Now, with that out of the way, time for questions!

1. Best book you've read so far in 2016:
Heh. You expect me to pick just one? Nooope. We're going to go with two (which are actually more or less tied for second-best book in 2016, because the very best book is a sequel and therefore goes in the next question.

Shiloh by Helena Sorenson is absolutely gorgeous. A friend recommended it to me, saying that it reminded her of Tales of Goldstone Wood. I would agree, but I'd say that it reminded me of other books as well: The Wingfeather Saga, The Auralia Thread, and even parts of The Silimarillion, along with definitely original touches. All in all, it's a winning combination.

A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold by Anne Elisabeth Stengl is excellent. I mean, that was never really in question- one of my favorite authors retells one of my favorite fairy tales; what's not to like?- but still. It was a bit creepier than some of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, but not too much. And along with that creepiness came a more mysterious feel than usual, which I quite enjoyed. There weren't a lot of familiar characters or places, true (with the usual exceptions- Goldstone Wood and Dame Imraldera chief among them)- but there is one character who I recognized and I don't know how many others did as well but I very much look forward to seeing the rest of his story.

2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2016:
Not only the best sequel, but the best book overall:
Which shouldn't be a surprise, because, honestly? It's pretty much inevitable that if there's a new Sanderson novel out, it'll end up somewhere in the top 3-5 of my list. Seriously, though, The Bands of Mourning is an amazing book. And Steris is an awesome character, ok? I know that in the first book, she's not that likeable . . . but she really comes into her own in this book, and guys, we need more characters like her. She's not a hero-hero, not action-y, not at all the sort of person you'd expect would be useful on an adventure . . . and yet she's awesome in her own crazy-prepared, insanely-organized way, and I'm pretty sure that without her, everything would've fallen apart on multiple occasions. Also, the ending was amazing, and we finally have . . . well, a few answers, at least.

Also amazing sequels:
 Mistborn: Secret History by Brandon Sanderson

 Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams

3. New release you haven't read yet but want to: 
I'm hoping to buy Samara's Peril sometime in the next month or so (possibly the next week or so), but we'll see what happens.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:
Ghostly Echoes! It's only a month away and I can hardly wait!
5. Biggest disappointment:
Despite its potential, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton was the year's biggest disappointment. It started off pretty good, with a great deal of potential, but midway through, a plot twist turned the whole thing towards a story I'd seen before.

Other disappointments:
 The Princess Bride novelization wasn't half as funny as the movie, unfortunately.

And Whose Body? had me actually wishing for an excuse to put the book down, even as I plowed through hoping that it would get better later on.

6. Biggest surprise:

Alllllll the Maggie Stiefvater! I mean, I expected to enjoy her books, but not as much as I actually did. I loved The Scorpio Races- somehow it has a bit of the taste of Misty of Chincoteague, but wrapped up in magic and mist and danger. And then the Raven Cycle was thoroughly addictive; my only complaints were the language and certain other content.
7. Favorite new-to-you author:
Helena Sorenson and Maggie Stiefvater are both amazing, if you haven't figured that out yet. And I'm quite enjoying Robert Jordan's books too, though not as much.

8. Newest fictional crush/ship:
Wax and Steris count, right? I mean, they're a ship that's existed for a few years now, but I didn't really ship them until Bands of Mourning.

No new fictional crushes, though. (Partially because everyone crush-worthy is already taken. Why does that always happen?)

9. Newest favorite character:
Steris! She finally comes into her own in The Bands of Mourning, and it's splendid. We need more characters like her. She's not a hero-hero, not action-y, not at all the sort of person you'd expect would be useful on an adventure . . . and yet she's awesome in her own crazy-prepared, insanely-organized way, and I'm pretty sure that without her, everything would've fallen apart on multiple occasions.

Other new favorites would be Benedict (A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold) and Trevn (King's Folly).

10. A book that made you cry:
I don't really think there was one? But the ending to Shiloh did make me sad for . . . certain reasons.

11. A book that made you happy:
The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye was quite a fun little read; highly enjoyable indeed. Not amazing, but delightful all the same.

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you've seen this year:
Um. The only movies I've watched this year are Inside Out, The Princess Bride (for the millionth time), and The Force Awakens. So unless we count The Princess Bride . . . yeah. I got nothing.

13. Favorite post you've done so far this year:
I'm really happy with all four of the writing posts I've done this year: Book Title Poetry, Black Letter, Pi(e) Day, and My Fault. I also really liked Why I'm Not Self-Publishing and If They Were Real.

14. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year:
A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold . . . though I haven't bought that many books at all this year, only three or four.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Soooo many books! I'm just going to try to hit the highlights (in no particular order):
White Sand by Brandon Sanderson

Samara's Peril by Jaye L. Knight

Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

 Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George

Lady Dragon, Tela Du by Kendra E Ardnek (which I'm actually in the process of very slowly beta-reading)

And because "Mid-Year" is sort of slipping away at this point, I won't tag anyone . . . but, please, if you want to do this tag, I'd love to hear your answers! You can either make your own post, or just answer in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)