Friday, November 25, 2016

Thankfulness: Bookish Edition (Plus a Black Friday Sale)

Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas season is upon us! If all goes according to plan, I'll be helping my family put up the Christmas tree today, and I'll definitely start listening to Christmas music (including catching up on all the songs Peter Hollens keeps releasing and I can't listen to because it's not time yet, storm it!). But that's no reason to stop thinking about what I'm thankful for- and one thing that I didn't manage to mention on yesterday's list was books. Obviously, I need to remedy that today with a list of five books that I'm thankful for this year!

Books I'm Thankful For

  1. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer. Mostly for the last story, since it acted as epilogue to the series and gave me a proper Happily Ever After to enjoy. Not that I didn't like the end of Winter, but I wanted a wedding- and I got one!
  2. A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Because I'm always grateful for new Goldstone Wood, even if it's not in the main series, and this particular book was delightfully dark and gorgeous and eerie and amazing. 
  3. The Odyssey by Homer, which was an excellent start to my Western Lit class at college, besides being an amazing story in its own right. Seriously, go find a copy of the Robert Fitzgerald translation and give it a try, if you haven't already. Yes, it's epic poetry, and yes, it can be hard to get through at times, but honestly, it's worth it. And as epic poetry goes, it's pretty easy to read.
  4. The Cat's Eye Chronicles by T. L. Sheffler. I'm not going to claim these are amazing, but they are pretty good, especially once you get further along in the series. My roommate insisted that I read this series, since it's one of her favorites, and I've really enjoyed both the books themselves and chatting with her about what we each think about them.
  5. Wingfeather Tales by Andrew Peterson and Company. Admittedly, I haven't actually read this one yet . . . but I'm very thankful that I get to read it, and very excited to find out what tales are within! (I'm hoping for something more about the Florid Sword and Shadowblade, personally . . . but we'll see what happens.)
One other thing I'm thankful for: books on sale! And, like last year, a group of independent Christian authors have banded together to offer over seventy discounted books on Nov 25-28.


There's literally something for everyone. Every single book listed on Indie Christian Books is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you. Don't know what to pick? The fearless Indie Christian Books team created a quiz that will generate a book list perfect for you! Check it out!  

What awesome reads of 2016 are you grateful for? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as "Sold Out." This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks. Also, some of the authors this year chose to not sell their paperbacks directly through the site. Those books are also marked "Sold Out" but if you click them open, you'll find a link to the site where they are on sale and a discount code for you to use at check out.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! No matter how you celebrate (or even if you don't celebrate at all), today is an excellent day to be thankful- and so I'm marking it with a list of things for which I'm giving thanks today.

I'm thankful for . . .

  1.  Thanksgiving break! I'm so happy to be back home with my family for a little while. Even if it's not quite as schoolwork-free as Christmas break will be, it's still wonderful. I've missed them a ton while I was at college- my sister in particular. We aren't doing anything especially exciting, but it's nice to be able to just hang out and talk and play games.
  2. Audiobooks. Because without them, the already-long drive to get basically anywhere would feel even longer. Also, because there's something special and wonderful in being read to, and audiobooks are a socially acceptable way for people of any age to experience that.
  3. The fact that God knows what He's doing with my life way better than I do and that my parents are wise enough to recognize it when I don't. White Sulpher Springs, my internship this past summer, Honors, my whole schedule this semester . . . God has opened so many doors and worked so many things out in the past year and a half, things that I never would've chosen for myself but which have turned out to be incredible blessings. 
  4. The incredibly long summer. Until last Saturday, temperatures at my college had stayed in the upper-50s-lower-60s range. That's the longest Indian summer I've ever seen, and it was lovely. Believe me: I appreciated every day of it (particularly since that weather is the easiest in which to look nice: it's warm enough that you don't have to wear heavy coats and hats and sweatshirts to keep from freezing, but it's cool enough that you can wear long sleeves and cardigans). 
  5. However, I'm also thankful for cold weather . . . Because it's a lot easier to restrain oneself from ice cream when it's a chilly 38° outside than when it's an unseasonably warm 60-something. Also, my roommate gets excited when she gets to wear sweaters, and her excitement is generally contagious.  
  6. Mail. Getting mail in college is as exciting as it was when I was 10 or so; I'm not getting college advertisements anymore, and so anything I do get is something personal . . . or a grade, but that's still exciting, just for different reasons.
  7. Sunrises, which I'll probably be seeing a lot more of in the next few months, since I'll be walking to breakfast around the crack of dawn. They're still beautiful, though, as is golden morning light on the lake.
  8. Homemade meals. Don't get me wrong. Being a generally positive person, I like the dining hall, and I can almost always find or assemble something tasty. But it can't compare to my mom's cooking. (We had cheeseburger soup last night, which is one of my absolute favorites. And she made my favorite cranberry granola for me as well! Have I mentioned that my mom is awesome?)
  9. Random discoveries of fun music. Like when a friend and I found LEAH a few years ago (a discovery that would lead to inspiration for one of my novels), or when my TPS friends introduced me to Starset, or when I tried this Asian Epicness playlist and found out that I really like Asian music, or my recent discovery of Nightcore covers (which, I've discovered, are sometimes bad but also are sometimes really sweet and cute-sounding). As a general rule, it's really cool to explore a new artist or genre of music and find inspiration and stories in the songs.
  10. And, last but not least, my friends, both old and new. I'm thankful for the friends I knew before college, whether online or off, for those who've chatted with me and prayed for me and helped me grow and supported me through moving and starting college and everything else. And I'm grateful for the community of new friends I've met at college, for those in my hall and in Honors and in my Bible study group and my major, and those who I don't even know how I know them, I just know that I do and they're awesome. 
What are you thankful for? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I Wonder . . .

"I wonder why . . ."

"I wonder what would happen if . . ."

"I wonder how . . ."

Such are the phrases that precede many a great and marvelous discovery of some principle or idea that will change the course of history forever. However, they also begin more than a few less significant inquiries- the sort often brought on by realizing that something commonplace really doesn't make sense, or noticing some odd detail that you didn't pick up on before, or simply by considering what might've been if a situation had gone differently. Today, I'll be considering six things that "I wonder"- and possibly trying to find answers for a few of them. We'll see how successful I am at the latter.

I Wonder . . .

1. Why the part of the car that contains the steering wheel and other controls is called a dashboard? I mean, I get the "board" part. But why the "dash"? There doesn't seem to be a good reason for that . . . until you Google it. At that point, you discover that it's a leftover from when cars were actually horseless carriages, and that the original dashboard was the barrier that kept mud from being thrown onto the passengers. As carriages became cars, the dashboard became a convenient place to put gauges and such. Funny how words can change so much over time . . .

2. What the time-travel novel J.R.R. Tolkien was supposed to write would've been like? Also, how much would it have tied in with Middle Earth? For those unaware, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien made a deal to try their hand at science fiction- Lewis with space travel; Tolkien with time travel. Lewis kept his end, writing the Space Trilogy (which I need to reread). Tolkien was busy with Middle Earth and died before he could write his time travel story . . . but, according to Google, he did actually write the first four chapters, which are published in The Lost Road and Other Writings. And, yes, they did tie in with Middle-Earth, at least a little bit. I know what's going on my to-be-read list now . . .

3. What happened to all the dead people who were apparently raised at Jesus' death? Matthew 27 says that"The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people." But then these people are never mentioned again- not in the Gospels, not in other period accounts, nowhere. What happened? Did they just disappear? Did they appear and then head straight to heaven (probably not; the Bible doesn't imply that's a thing that could've happened)? Did the people freak out? (I probably would if I saw my ancestors walking around . . .) We know it actually happened, since it's in the Bible, but beyond that, it's a mystery. Unfortunately, Google can't really solve this one- I'll have to wait 'til heaven to find out what actually happened there.

4. Why, in modern dystopians, is it always the teens or young adults who start the revolutions? I mean, I know the obvious reason- a lot of dystopians are aimed towards the young adult audience. But there never seems to be a good in-story reason. You'd think that there'd be a few more adults who take action instead of waiting for some angry teenager to step up and light the spark. (Actually, a similar question could be asked of a lot of fantasy/sci-fi as well, except there you usually have a prophecy to explain it in those.)

5. Why do eyebrows and eyelashes exist? I mean, I'm pretty sure they're supposed to have some functional purpose other than our faces would look mildly weird without them? But they're also kind of annoying, particularly eyelashes. (When an eyelash gets bent and pokes in your eye . . . and then trying to unbend the one bends a bunch more . . . yeah, it's bad.) However, this question brings us back to ones Google can answer! Eyebrows, apparently, are meant to redirect moisture and sweat away from the eyes . . . which, yeah, that makes sense. Eyelashes also help redirect moisture, as well as locking together when you shut your eyes to create a seal and sensing objects that get too close . . . Which, ok, makes sense as well. But that doesn't change the fact that they can be really annoying.

6. What would the world be like if World War II had never happened? If the Allied Powers in World War I had treated Germany with mercy after the war was over, if Germany hadn't had so much anger for Hitler to take advantage of, if Hitler hadn't existed in the first place? Again, there's no way to know, and even a very quick Google search turns up quite a few possible realities. But it is interesting to think about. (Of course, I find the events leading up to both WWI and WWII fascinating- perhaps more so than the wars themselves- so, yeah. If anyone happens to know of a good novel dealing with this idea, let me know; I'd love to read it.)

7. Why can you be "too tired to sleep"? This is a phenomenon I've encountered a few times over the last few months- I'll be so tired that I'm either mildly loopy or the grumpiest person this end of the hall- yet I'll go to bed and be unable to get to sleep for a good ten, twenty, even thirty minutes. It just doesn't make sense. Google's somewhat helpful on this- apparently, tiredness and sleepiness aren't the same, and falling asleep does take a certain amount of energy. Interestingly, if you exercise too close to when you go to bed, that can also make falling asleep more difficult . . . which means I may need to rethink certain elements of my schedule. Botheration.

What are some things that you wonder? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Why I Love My WIP

If you've been paying attention in my Doings! posts, you may have noticed that I've been working on the same novella, Fight Song, since July. That might not seem terrible, seeing as I worked on Monster in the Castle for about two years before finishing it, and editing it will probably take another two to four at least. But considering that Fight Song is still under 25K, while Monster was 30K after a month and ended out being at least 150K . . . yeah. It's bad. Part of the problem is that I don't have a ton of motivation for the story, and my monthly goal is only helping so much.

So, I decided that I needed another way to motivate myself- specifically, I need to remind myself of why I wanted to write this novel in the first place, of why I enjoyed writing it, of why it's not terrible and therefore worth finishing. And to do that, I'm making a list of five reasons why I love my novel, even when I'm not super motivated to write it. (I'm 99% certain I'm stealing this idea from someone, for the record. Either that or I'm modifying a piece of relationship advice which I keep hearing in discussions on Philippians 4. One of the two.)

Reasons I Love My WIP

  1. It's my first major foray into writing a solely modern-day setting in, well, years. I think the last time I wrote anything this length which was set on Earth and didn't involve portals to some degree was before I did NaNoWriMo for the first time. That's six years ago, at least. So, yeah. Kind of a long time. On a related note, Fight Song is my most culturally diverse story, since a lot of my fantasy worlds (with the exception of Udarean) tend to be fairly European-inspired. It's also my only story in which a major character is a legit coffee addict. In other stories, 75% of my characters don't know what caffeine is, let alone coffee, and of those who do know what coffee is, only about half of them like it. Callie, on the other hand, is more addicted than an Araluen Ranger- she doesn't even care if it's good coffee; as long as it tastes sort of right and contains caffeine, she'll drink it. So, on the whole, this is definitely something out of the ordinary for me.
  2. I love the concept of the story. At its heart, Fight Song is not just about a quest for justice, even if that's the main plotline. It's about my main character proving to the world that she's not crazy; that she indeed saw what no one should have to witness. It's about her proving to herself that what others say doesn't control her fate and ridding herself of her guilt over letting their disbelief silence her for so long. And it's about my character- a young college-age woman, on her own and uncertain about both present and future- starting to find her place in the world. Has this draft done justice to all those elements? Maybe not. But they're there all the same.
  3. Fandom references! I like making fandom references in stories- which is part of why I like writing about Katelyn (of Between Two Worlds), because she loves all the fandoms I do and I can throw in nods to those stories with utter abandon. Callie and Jonathan aren't anywhere near that into fandoms- but I've still managed to reference The Princess Bride, Jackaby, and Hamilton, among other things. And, as a bonus, all the characters involved get the references and can respond appropriately. Well, except the Jackaby ones. But that's life.
  4. Teenage Superhero Society crossovers! Which are kind of unavoidable, because it's set in the same version of earth as the TSS is. But it's still super fun to write. So far, at least three TSS characters- possibly all five of the heroines- know of Callie's powers. Two of them have outright saved her life. And Starlight, at least, is aware of Callie's mission. Audrey might be as well; I can't remember for sure. Though in all fairness, it's a small miracle that the entire city isn't aware of Callie's mission. She tries, but she's not very good at things like, you know, being subtle. (This fact is going to be pointed out to her fairly soon, once she and Jonathan get back on speaking terms.)
  5. On that note, there's girl-guy friendship without any romance. I know this isn't totally unheard of (actually, in my stories, it might be more the norm than the exception), but it's still sort of rare, and it makes me happy. By the end of Fight Song, I plan that Callie and Jonathan will be fairly firm friends, with no interest in romance. And getting them there should be interesting, I think- particularly as some miscommunication and more than a bit of lost sleep means that, as I mentioned, they're currently not talking to each other. So, yeah. That's interesting.
Did this work? I think it did- I do feel slightly more cheerful about my novel now. So now I'm off to write a bit and then go to bed and hope that I won't keep myself up this late again tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

What are some things you love about your WIP? Tell me in the comments, or even feel free to make your own post on this theme! I'd love to hear what you've got to say.
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October Doings!

Hello, everyone! It feels like it's been a long time since I wrote a non-tour blog post . . . probably because it has been. Whoops. In my defense, October's been a pretty busy month, as you're going to see in this post.


  • Guys, I actually wrote something this month! Not for school, I mean!
  • Seriously, though. That's a pretty significant thing. Not that it's a significant number of words- only about a thousand- but that's better than I did last month.
  • (Admittedly, half those words only came about because some friends reminded me that I needed to hurry up and finish my part of a story we're coauthoring. And the other half happened because I went outside in the evening to do schoolwork, but then I realized that, nope, tonight is not a night for planning an essay; tonight is a writing night. Also, I had no idea how to organize the essay and made the executive decision to go to the writing center for help. So, yeah. I wrote. It was lovely. Maybe it'll happen again next month?)
  • I also wrote two papers and an annotated outline for actual classwork. I'm quite proud of the first paper- it's the justice paper I mentioned last month. Not only did I reference The Princess Bride, but I basically used it to frame my essay in certain respects. So, yeah, that was awesome. I'm slightly less satisfied with the second paper, but I still have time to edit it, and I don't think it turned out too bad. (It better not have- I've already spent twice as long on it as I meant to!
  • Oh, and I'm sticking this in this section because it doesn't quite fit anywhere else: this past Friday, I discovered Ambient Mixer. Basically, this creates "background noise" loops meant to evoke a certain atmosphere. But that's not the best part. The best part is all the fantasy/sci-fi themed atmospheres. For example, there's a whole section based on The Lord of the Rings (I love the Rivendell Library mix), another section based on superhero movies (which I haven't explored much, but looks pretty cool), and even a mix based on Howl's Moving Castle. How awesome is that? (Note: this doesn't mean that I'm giving up on music- some of these have music included in them, and those that don't, I tend to use in conjunction with music, usually something classical or just instrumental.)


  • Um. So my reading went waaaaaay down this month, if you can't tell. It's not as bad as it was back in July. But it's still pretty bad. 
  • I continued my reread of the Queen's Thief series, as you can probably see. I just finished A Conspiracy of Kings, which I enjoyed more the second time around, even if Sophos is slightly an idiot at times. I also enjoyed The Queen of Attolia more this time, since I knew what was coming and could see the clues when they showed up. And, of course, The King of Attolia is absolutely fabulous; it's still my favorite book in the series. And there's going to be a new Queen's Thief book coming out and it has a title and a cover and a synopsis and it's going to be awesome and I'm so excited!
  • Plus I read Lady Dragon, Tela Du, which is the latest release from Kendra E. Ardnek. Y'all should read it, because it's awesome. If you didn't notice, I also participated in the release tour, which was super fun. I got to interview Petra, and she's one of my favorite Rizkaland characters. 
  • My second-to-last book for the month: Amusing Ourselves to Death, which I read for my Comp class (as I already mentioned). It's nonfiction and was written in 1985, but it's still pretty interesting, all about the effect of news media and other "serious" TV on the way we think, act, and carry out things like politics and education. I highly recommend reading it. 
  • And my final book, which I also read for school and just finished yesterday: Augustine's Confessions. It was long. And rather dense in places. And more than once climbed into theological discussions that made me go "Wait, what? There are words, and there are sentences, but I think I'm missing some pieces here?" Augustine was, obviously, a very smart guy, and I am very glad that my Honors professor went over two of the hardest sections last month or else I would've been totally lost and very much stressed. So, yeah.


  • My roommate and I finished Firefly over fall break. And now there's no more Mal and Kaylee and River and Simon and Serenity and everyone else and I'm sad. Hopefully we'll get our hands on the movie sometime . . . except I've heard that characters die in it. So. I don't know.
  • On a happier note: as you can probably guess from the image above, we started watching Merlin! So far, I'm enjoying it, but I'm looking forward to whenever Merlin stops being such an idiot. Also, I'm having a very hard time not shipping him and Guinevere, even though I know they're both meant for other people.
  • My roomie and I also watched Spirited Away, which is a Studio Ghibli film. It was . . . interesting. Very weird in some ways, very good in others, and sort of fairy-tale-ish but not exactly. I did enjoy it, so that's good.


  • I made a Mistcloak!!!!!!!! And got to actually wear it out to a legit costume party!!!!!
  • (And obviously that's the most important thing that happened this month. Obviously.)
  • Going back to the beginning, though- I left off in my last Doings post with Parents Weekend, which was awesome. The week after that was pretty uneventful, if I recall correctly. 
  • And then Fall Break arrived! And I spent an entire day doing almost nothing productive. And then the day after that was . . .
  • Craft day! My roommate decided to do art and made three paintings for our room. I think they turned out pretty well. And I fulfilled a life-goal and made a Mistcloak! Which took the better part of a day and a half, though it would've taken less time if I'd realized sooner that I could cut strips and watch Firefly at the same time.
  • Pictures and a tutorial will be coming, by the way. I just need to get a weekend that isn't totally  consumed by schoolwork in which to edit the pictures. 
  • Oh, and over fall break my roommate and I got a diffuser for our room. So occasionally our room smells like essential oils, which is nice, especially when it's peppermint. And playing with the steam/mist stream amuses me, particularly when I'm tired.
  • And then I got back from fall break and immediately panicked because I had three million things due in the next three or four weeks and I had done (almost) nothing useful towards that end over break. Plus I had misread the reading assignment for one of my classes, and so I only read a fraction of what I should've.
  • It got better, though. Both of my midterms went well, though I'm still waiting for the grade on one of them. And I'm done with all but two of the big assignments, so that's good.
  • And I got to dress up twice in the space of a week!!!!!!! (Three times, if you count wearing a capelet and vaguely fantasy-ish outfit on Halloween.) My major has a Halloween party/costume contest, so I wore my Mistcloak to that. No one recognized what I was, but they all seemed fairly impressed by the cape, so it was ok. And then my dorm holds another Halloween event, which was two days later, and which provided a much-needed study break at the end of a stressful day. So I dressed up in my Lorien cloak and an elven-ish outfit and wandered the halls of my dorm and got candy and a cupcake. It was quite enjoyable.
  • I'm also just about done with the cowl I've been crocheting for the last few months, which I'm rather happy about. 
  • Still looking for a church. I've made some progress, in that I've eliminated churches I was thinking about and found new ones to try. But, yeah. It's a long, slow process.

    November Plans!

    • Most of you have probably figured this out by now, but I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, not even as a rebel. I have enough on my plate as it is. 
    • However, to keep y'all company, I am thinking that I'll try to write something creative every day- a hundred words at least, maybe more when I can. (I'll allow one grace day a week, like during the 100-4-100 challenge.) I know I can manage that.
    • The press of major papers and assignments has also slowed down. I have a group project for Honors, an exam in New Testament Lit, and a research paper for Comp, and that's pretty much all for the month in terms of big schoolwork stuff.
    • On the topic of the research paper: it's rather pleasant when very smart scholars who spend all their time studying stuff write long papers that tell you you're right about something you feel passionately about. 
    • Also: Thanksgiving break is coming!!!!!!! And that means I get to go home! And see my family! It's going to be awesome.
    • The reading will continue as usual, of course. I'm currently working on one of my roommate's favorite series, The Cat's Eye Chronicles. I'm about a third of the way through the first book and currently don't know how I feel about most of the characters, save one. But I am enjoying it, so yeah.
    • And I'll keep looking for a church. I have two that I need to revisit and two others I want to visit for the first time, so we'll see how that works out. Hopefully this will be the month I find the right place . . . I want to find the right place by the beginning of next semester if I can, just so I can be settled.
     How was your October? What are your November plans? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Please tell me in the comments!
    Thanks for reading!
    -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)