Friday, March 31, 2017

March 2017 Doings!

Hey'a, everyone! How's everyone doing? For me, March on the whole was pretty busy. However, it was also pretty awesome for a variety of reasons, not least of which was that I got to go home! But more on that later; let's start with the writing, as usual.


  • Overall, I had a pretty decent writing and editing month: roughly 4.4K words edited and 1.6K words written. I'd hoped for more, what with spring break, but I'm still pretty satisfied.
  • Also, I'd forgotten how much work writing a fight scene can be . . . also how much research it can take, because I'm pretty sure I spent half the time googling some variation on "What happens if you're stabbed in X location?" or "Will a sword pierce chain maille?" (For those curious: the answer to the latter question is no. Chain maille is actually pretty effective, as long as it's well-made. Also, for cosplaying purposes, you can make chain maille out of soda can tabs. Just throwing that out there.)
  • All that was for editing. Writing-wise, most of the 1.6K was in an attempted short story inspired by psych class and Pinterest, which kind of fizzled out after the first scene- oh well. Next month will be better, hopefully.
  • One exciting thing: I fulfilled a writer stereotype by writing at a coffeeshop for the first time ever! My roommate and I have been thinking of spending a morning in town- hanging out for an hour or so at one of the little coffeeshops, stopping at the thrift store (in search of costume pieces for me and random stuff for her), and getting treats at the bakery- for a while, and we finally managed to do it last weekend. I was productive, which made me happy, and the coffeeshop we chose had an old-time feel to it that was super inspiring. We're definitely going to do this more often.


  • Wait, I only read five books last month? I could've sworn-
  • Oh, WAIT. One of them was a Wheel of Time book. That explains everything.
  • Backing up: I quite enjoyed East, which I finished a few days into the month. I feel like the ending could've been better; though all the plot threads tied up nicely, it felt . . . I don't know. Mildly distant. Otherwise, I very much enjoyed it. And it made me want to work on Monster in the Castle again, but that certainly wasn't happening . . .
  • Then I returned to The Fires of Heaven, which lasted me all of spring break. Overall, my thoughts on it were roughly the same as my thoughts on almost every other Wheel of Time book: a bit of a slow beginning (made worse by the fact that I didn't remember who half the names belonged to), a middle that alternated between interesting and aggravating (depending how stubborn the characters were being), several false climaxes, and a real climax and ending featuring much impressive magic-slinging and plot twisting. (One of the plot twists- regarding the death of a Certain Character who I expected to live to the end of the series- did leave me rather in shock for a while, and I'm still hovering on the edge of "We didn't see a body!" denial.) Oh, and also as usual, Mat was awesome and probably one of the best parts of the book. Can we have a whole book of just Mat and Lan and Nynaeve with occasional scenes of Rand being dramatic and the Aes Sedai scheming rather than the other way 'round?
  • Then I got back to the college and reading time went out the window for a while except for research. The next two books on my list- Toxic Charity and Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life were both for a speech on the impoverished in America. They were fairly interesting. Not amazing, but interesting and eye-opening.
  • And, finishing out the month, we have a reread of the Echoes from the Edge! I finished Beyond the Reflection's Edge on Monday, and currently I'm working on Eternity's Edge, which I think was my least favorite in the trilogy. I'm not entirely sure why. Overall, I'm enjoying the books, though not as much as I did the first time I read them. It's very clear that these were written early in Mr. Davis's career, given how heavy-handed certain themes come off. Once I finish the series, I'm going to buy the rewritten version and see how the two compare.


  • Over spring break, I finally watched the first Back to the Future after discovering that my mom and sister had watched them without me in February-ish. Obviously I can't let my sister watch such an iconic movie and not experience it myself, so we got the whole trilogy out from the library and a few days into break, my sister and I settled in to enjoy the first one. I enjoyed it, though it was different than I expected- it's one of the movies that I've heard a ton about, and I knew most of the major plot twists before I watched it, but I didn't know how those twists were going to happen. I had hoped to watch the other two on break as well, but I didn't have time.
  • However, my family also watched (or, in my case, re-watched) the first two Night at the Museum movies. I'd forgotten how funny they are- and the second one is especially fun, since I'm pretty familiar with D.C. and the Smithsonian museums. Also, Kahmunrah is a pretty fabulous villain. Just saying.
  • In other news: still working on Merlin. My roommate and I finally finished Season Two, and we're one episode into Season Three. Hopefully we'll get to watch more this weekend, because the last episode ended in a cliffhanger. I'm still upset over "The Last Dragonlord," though. Why can't Merlin be happy for once? Why does he have to keep losing people? It's not fair.
  • (Also, thing I'm mildly confused about- what's the proper way to signify an episode name? Does it go in quotation marks like a short story? Or should it go in italics? Anyone know?)


  • I am continually bewildered by the differences between who I am, how I see myself, and how others see me. One friend who knows me only online expresses surprise that I'm far more quiet in appearance than I am in online personality. Another friend, an offline one this time, says "You don't seem like the type to romanticize," and I think "Oh, if you could just see inside my head, you'd never say that, not in a million years!" It's just strange how even people with whom you know you're genuine can have such different views of you, and it makes me wonder how the way I see people differs from how they see themselves.
  • How much difference would changing history really make? One thinks that it would make all the difference. Yet for many of us, unless you prevented some development, not some event, everyday life would still probably look about the same.


  • Spring break! I got to go home! I hadn't been home since January, y'all. Getting to go back for a week was absolutely awesome.
  • Besides the movie-watching that I already mentioned, I worked ahead a bit in schoolwork, did some editing and writing, a bit of crafting, went to youth group, and generally had a lovely time. (Except for the afternoon I spent trying to do taxes- well, doing them wasn't that hard, but submitting them went rather less well. But otherwise it was good.)
  • Then I had to come back and immediately started low-key panicking because oh my goodness our advocacy speech is in two weeks roommate we need to get WORKING! That's more or less what I said too; my roomie will confirm. We did get in done in time, though, gave it a week ago, and did really well!
  • The week of the speech, basically all my free time was spent following Kendra E. Ardnek's Indie e-Con. For those of you who weren't aware of its existence: Indie e-Con was a virtual gathering of indie authors featuring posts on writing, marketing, editing, and other aspects of writing and publishing; games; Q&A posts; critique opportunities; and more. It was fun, though kind of overwhelming. If you're disappointed you missed it, you can still go back and read the posts. Plus, there's going to be another e-Con next year, and you can join the mailing list to get more information!
  • More or less as soon as I finished researching the speech (though not before we gave the speech), I launched into my next major class project: research for a Cultural Anthropology paper (which I'm writing about the culture of New Zealand). At this point, I'm basically done with that, after spending part of almost every afternoon in the library for two weeks. I just have to wait for the interview responses to come in (yay for having friends in the country!) and then actually write the thing. 
  • As I mentioned earlier, my roommate and I went in town last Saturday, which was super fun. It was also a nice break after a pretty stressful week, since I got to do basically nothing school-related all morning.
  • Oh, and I'm officially registered for classes, so huzzah for that. I'm going to be taking mostly major classes next semester, which I'm pretty excited for- so far, I've only had one major class, and that one's online only, so it hardly counts.

April Plans!

  • I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo! No, I'm not crazy; as soon as I get the anthropology paper written, I'll be done with just about everything major except finals. And I'm only going for about 10K, and I'm editing, so it should be all good. Right?
  • Also, if anyone wants to join my cabin, let me know. I've still got room, thanks to NaNo increasing the cabin size. (We've got about ten people at the moment, mostly female, all Christian speculative fiction writers at the moment. If that matters.) I'd love to have you; the more the merrier!
  • Most of April should be pretty chill, or as chill as a Camp NaNo month can be, anyway. Looking at my calendar, the first half of April has next to nothing on it. I'm hoping to get as much done on writing and such as I can during that time, since things will get busier after Easter break.
  • For those curious: I'm not going home for Easter. NY is waaaaay too far away to make the drive just for a weekend.
  • After Easter, I suspect that finals prep will start up. Also, there'll be end of year celebrations . . . which make me a bit nervous, honestly. I mean, I enjoy a social event now and then? And I know that one will be really small and the other will be larger, but still cool. But both of them are formal things? And I'm not really used to formal? And I'm mildly freaking out even though I'm excited? So yeah, that's happening.
  • The roommate and I need to watch Merlin. Specifically, we need to be done with at least the season by the end of the month. We'll probably have time over Easter break, though . . . fingers crossed that it works out!
  • I feel like there's something else happening in April, but I have no idea what it is. Hopefully I remember sometime soon. Oh well.
How's your March been? Do you have any exciting plans for April? Or even unexciting ones? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)     

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Character Encounters March 2017: Indie e-Con

Hey'a, everyone! First things first: I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo next month (yes, I'm slightly crazy; I should have most of my big projects done by then, though . . .) and I'm looking for cabin mates. So if anyone here is doing it as well, or thinking of doing it, and you need a cabin, let me know! So far, we only have five members, so there's plenty of room!

Second off, some of you may know that Kendra E. Ardnek has, this past week, hosted a virtual convention called Indie e-Con, where over a dozen indie authors came together to share advice on different aspects of writing and publishing, critique writing, answer questions, play games, and generally have a grand old time. It's been pretty awesome. Hard to keep up with, since I've had an exhausting week preparing for a speech and trying to figure out next semester's schedule and starting research for a paper and all that, but still awesome. And as part of the e-Con, Kendra's revived Character Encounters! This month, we're meeting our characters at- where else?- Indie e-Con, only we're pretending that we've got a big convention center in Dallas so we can actually, y'know, meet them. Anyway, enjoy!

The hubbub of excited voices, cheerful conversation, and dramatic book quotes flows around me as I push my way through the crowd of authors, readers, and costumed fans. I weave my way around a trio of girls dressed- very convincingly- like Petra, Sarah, and Amber and wave to C.B. Cook, who's currently at her booth. Actually getting to meet her in person might've been the best part of this convention so far. Not only is she a fabulous author, but she's a good friend.

But as amazing as the convention is, I'm exhausted from trying to take in everything and still keep up with my classwork- deadlines wait for no man, after all- and overheating, since even March in Texas is far hotter than it is at college. So I soon collapse onto a bench in a less-crowded hallway off the main convention area. I can hear voices from down the hallway, and it sounds like someone's started playing Celtic music over the loudspeaker, but despite these things, it's peaceful. I lean back and shut my eyes. All I need now is a cool breeze and I'd be set . . .

A voice- male, edged with teasing sarcasm- interrupts my solitude. "What's this, Taleweaver? I thought you didn't nap."
"What the-" My eyes shoot open and I stare at the person in front of me. He's tall and wiry, with dark, somewhat shaggy hair and a faint smile that suggests he sees all the absurdity of life and finds it quite amusing. He's also in medieval-ish garb: dark green doublet with a lighter green tunic underneath, a brown cloak, and a belt with a long, narrow sword hanging from it. Quite honestly, he looks like a character from my imagination come to life, and ordinarily I'd complement him on his realistic costume. Only problem: there's no way in the nine worlds that anyone would cosplay as this particular character. After all, he's from my books- one that isn't even out of the first edit, let alone published! 

"I don't nap," I finally say, unable to come up with something more intelligent. "And I wasn't napping. I was thinking. Who are- Are you-"

"Jarek Gilleth, at your service." Jarek raises an eyebrow. "I thought you'd done this before, Taleweaver."  

"Yeah, but not in ages." I sit up straight. "How are you even here? There are no portals leading directly from Aralan to this Earth, or from that version of Earth to this one!"

"Not quite sure about that yet." Jarek's tone only hints at his displeasure with this fact. "A couple of the characters of the girl running this place managed it- Laura, and one of the ones who looks like the author-in-charge. I'm going to corner her later and find out, though." 

Whether "her" refers to Laura, Amber- it has to be Amber; and now thinking back to the trio I saw earlier, I can't help but wonder- or Kendra, I'm not certain. And Jarek doesn't give me time to figure it out, instead grabbing my arm and pulling me to my feet. "But right now, the kitten's going to turn shadow and kill me if I don't find you and bring you back so the two of you can have a chat and then probably wander around being strange together. Come on. There'll be pie involved."

"You could've just asked." I pull my arm free and follow him as he leads the way back into the crowd. "I would've come. Even if you didn't bribe me with pie." Now that I'm looking, I think I spot other people whose costumes seem too realistic to be just costumes- there's Reuben, or possibly Robert, conferring with one of his brothers, and I'm fairly certain that the girl in the green dress over there is Caitlyn from Blood Ties

I realize I've slowed in order to try to spot book characters when Jarek calls back to me, "Are you coming, Taleweaver, or do I have to come back and drag you again?"

"I'm coming!" I speed up my steps with a grin. Awesome as Indie e-Con already was, it just got a whole lot better.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Random Fridays: Spring 2017 Reads
Hello, everyone! The weather outside is still frightful, but today we're turning our thoughts to things delightful- spring 2017 reads! I was originally going to save this topic for next week, when spring will be a little closer. But, when I noticed that Emma's doing it for Random Fridays over at Awkwordly Emma this week, I decided to join in!

Spring 2017 Reads

1. Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull (March 14)
 So, I prefer Bradon Mull's Beyonders series to the Fablehaven stories . . . but that doesn't keep me from being excited for Dragonwatch! The series ended on a pretty epic note, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next. Even without the added excitement of restless dragons, the last book left plenty of potential for more adventures.

2. Hunted by Meagan Spooner (March 14)
I'm not quite sure what to expect from this one. On one hand, I'm always up for another Beauty and the Beast retelling, and Hunted sounds like an interesting twist on the classic tale. On the other hand, I'm a bit worried that the main character will end up being another in the long line of highly unfeminine female protagonists. We'll just have to see what happens.

3. Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller (March 21)
The primary reason this is on my TBR list? It's advertised as "Firefly meets Dune," and while I haven't read Dune, I know I love Firefly and anything like it has a strong chance of being awesome. That aside, I don't read a lot of sci-fi, so this'll add some variety to my usual lineup. And the blurb claims political intrigue as well as Firefly-ness, so that's always fun. Hopefully it'll live up to my expectations.
4. Exiles by Jaye L. Knight (May 2017)
I don't know if this'll actually come out in May, especially since there's no specific date listed. However, I am excited for Exiles, especially since Samara's Peril was so amazing. And it's supposed to focus more on Daniel, who happens to be one of my favorite characters, so huzzah! Perhaps I'll actually read this one when it comes out instead of waiting until winter . . . time will tell!
5. Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner (May 16)
I've discussed this one already, back in my End-of-Year Book Freakout, but to recap: more Eugenides! more Eugenides! more Eugenides! I'm not sure how I feel about the apparent focus on the Medes instead of more familiar characters, but, hey, I know it'll be awesome. I just don't know what kind of awesome yet.

What new releases are you looking forward to this spring? Please tell me in the comments! 
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)