Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 2017 Doings!

What. How is April over already? That seems really fast, guys. Where did the time go? It was a super busy month, though, so I guess that explains it. Hopefully I'll be less busy sometime in the future . . . That said, as a friend of mine pointed out, at least the busyness means I'm actually doing things.


  • I won Camp NaNoWriMo! I hit my goal of 10K words edited on Friday (the 28th), ending the day with 10,054 words.
  • The month started out a bit slow. I did get 650-odd words on the first . . . but then I spent the rest of that day, plus all of the next two, writing an immense paper on New Zealand. Which, I will admit, was quite interesting, but it was also quite exhausting.
  • Thankfully, after I finished that, I didn't really have many other major projects, save my final speech, so I was able to keep a steady pace for the rest of the month. It helped that, the week before Easter break, my Psych professor had to go out of town, so I had an extra hour to write Monday and Wednesday, plus my awesome hour on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Easter break was also more productive than I expected. I worried that I wouldn't really get anything done, since I'd be spending time with friends and I did need to draft my speech at that point. However, I discovered that I could edit on my phone in the car by using Google Drive, and so I ended up getting an average of 600-odd words every day and it made me immensely happy.
  • Despite this, I didn't go quite as far over my goal as I hoped to, mostly because I had to slow down some once I got back to college, and also once I ran into some more difficult scenes. I'm still ok with how I did, though.
  • Hopefully I'll start posting chapters sometime very soon. Within-the-next-week-or-two soon. We'll see if that works out or not.


  • Perhaps because I spent so much time writing (and, as you'll see, watching, and going to events), April was a pretty slow reading month. I finished up the Echoes from the Edge series and meant to buy the new versions right after, but that . . . didn't happen. At this point, I think I'm just going to wait until after finals and get the books then.
  • After that, I wanted . . . well, I wanted something light, and I wanted Diana Wynne Jones, and what I thought I wanted was Charmed Life. Except all the library had in the Chrestomanci series was The Pinhoe Egg, so I settled for that . . . and then discovered that it was really what I'd wanted all along.
  • I still wanted more Chrestomanci, but unfortunately that wasn't an option, so I went on a general Diana Wynne Jones kick and reread Howl's Moving Castle over Easter break and House of Many Ways when I got back. I'm still on the kick now, as I'm finally reading Hexwood, partially because I have the book anyway and partially because Deborah O'Carroll did a fabulous review of it that made me curious.
  • Oh, and I reread Dealing With Dragons, mostly on a whim. Well, I got it out on a whim. Then I reread it because I had it out and I felt obligated. It's a problem. Not really, actually, not in this case. But sometimes.
  • And I just now realized that the only new thing I read all month was Hexwood. What is this madness?


  • I actually watched a ton of stuff this month. Most of it, naturally, was over Easter break.
  • Most of the month, naturally, was taken up by watching Merlin, mostly because Alana and I had to get through three seasons in a little over a month in order to finish before we both go home for the semester. At the moment, we're a little over halfway through Season 5, so we should be able to get to the end in time.
  • Because we've moved so fast through the seasons, I can't really post all my thoughts on them. But, in general:
    • Gwen and Arthur are quite adorable. Also, Gwen is a surprisingly ruthless queen. I approve. Except not right now because that's not the right people to be ruthless at; Gwen what are you doing? But at the beginning of the season, I approved.
    • Why does no one run background checks on servants? Or visiting nobles? Or anyone? I know it's medieval era, but they should be able to do something more than whatever they're currently doing, and I'm pretty sure that would prevent at least 50% of their problems right there.
    • So, my roomie's favorite characters are Gwain and Percival, and I very much understand why. They're quite awesome, especially Gwain. Gwain is fun. If he's not in my top five, he's at least close to there. That said, my favorites of the knights are Lancelot and Elyan. I'm not sure if they're my favorite characters overall, because I love Gwen and I quite like Merlin and usually Arthur. But those are my favorite of the knights for sure.
    • But Lancelot. Whyyyyyyy. It's not ok.
    • Seriously not ok.
    • And then there was that one episode and I thought it was going to be ok for an hour or so? But then Morgana did that and it was even less ok. Whyyyyy.
    • And then Elyan too. Whyyyyyy. Morgana needs to stop messing with my favorite characters.
    • Also, I understand that characters need to make bad life choices sometimes in order for them to be relatable and all, but certain recent life choices by certain characters, particularly in a certain episode which I watched this past week are just stupid. Why.
  • All that said: Merlin wasn't the only thing I watched this month! And none of the other things I watched were half as feels-heavy!
  • I am one step closer to catching up on the Marvel universe! Over Easter break, I saw Doctor Strange. As I expected, there was a bit of spiritual weirdness. That aside, I really enjoyed the movie. The character development was really good, and there were some great scenes, both in the funny sense and the serious sense . . . but honestly, one of my favorite bits was the superpowers. The whole reality-warping bit is something I've tried to do with one of my villains and it didn't work so well because I didn't have a good idea of what it would look like, but now that I've seen someone else do it, I'm kind of excited to revisit that story and make it better. Also, time-related powers! Yes! Thank you!
  • Also over Easter break, I finally watched Despicable Me. Yes, I know, it's been out for ages. Yes, I know, I've seen Despicable Me 2 at least a half-dozen times. I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy it- I like the second one, but worried that the first one would make me cringe more than laugh- but I quite liked it!
  • Finally, I got to watch two episodes of Hogan's Heroes, which is basically my favorite old-time TV show. And while I was waiting for that to come on, I ended up watching an episode of MacGyver for the first time, so now I have a slightly less vague idea about what it is. It was pretty good overall, but I still prefer Hogan's Heroes. That said, MacGyver is on Prime, so I may give it another try later on if I have time.
  • (You know, between trying to knock some books off my TBR list and catching up on Marvel and finishing the Back to the Future trilogy and watching Indiana Jones because my family watched that without me too . . . Of course I'm not bitter at all. And all the other stuff I want to do this summer.)


  • Different people have different perspectives of God, right? Some people tend to focus more on certain aspects of His character and others focus more on other aspects. And I think a part of how people see God relates really strongly to the things they're passionate about. For example, I'm a writer and a bookworm, so I tend to see God in the context of the Great Author of history. My Western Lit prof last year was excited about gardening and cooking (in addition to the obvious, books), and she often compared God to a gardener, and once she commented on how the Bible has the world's oldest recipe for beef stock. And a scientist, like the Enlightenment rationalists, might see God more in terms of the Cosmic Designer. And that can be bad in some respects because it's really easy to get fixated on just those aspects of God that fit with your passions. But it can also be good, and it's a major reason why we need to have community with other Christians who have diverse interests, because different people will have different insights, and will understand some concepts better than others, and by sharing those insights, each person in the community can learn a little more about who God is and spiritual life in general.
  • It's scary how little is required to turn an OK day into an awful one. One bad class and I can end up frustrated and stressed the rest of the day. One announcement from the prof or realization that something is coming up sooner than I thought and I can easily end up in a panic. One event- sometimes, that's all it takes to determine what color the rest of my day will take. It seems stupid in some respects, that I get so worked up about relatively little things at times. And in other respects, it's terrifying, because I can't be the only one who does this, and how many people's days have I unintentionally ruined through a thoughtless statement or action?
  • Even an introvert is not meant to be always alone. We get lonely sometimes. I don't want to constantly be around people, but there are times when I really want people. One of those times is at meals. Food is best if it's enjoyed with someone else. I don't mind eating alone when necessary, but I am convinced that eating alone is one of the loneliest things in life, particularly if you thought you would eat with someone else. Eating alone when you knew you'd be eating alone is one thing. It can almost be enjoyable, and if you end up running into a friend who'll join you, it's a pleasant surprise. But eating alone when you thought you'd have a friend with you is just sad.


  • As you can see, I decided this month to run off and go visit an old German village. It was amazing! So beautiful! So many photography opportunities! My two years of high school German totally came in handy!
  • Just kidding. I did actually leave campus this month, which is a bit of a rarity, but I definitely did not go to Germany.
  • The picture which is not in a German village is actually my roommate's home library. Yes, it is magnificent. Another girl from our hall and I went home with her for Easter break, and on Monday we went to visit the library because my roommate kept telling me about how amazing it is. She wasn't exaggerating at all; it's like a castle.
  • Also over Easter break, we went to the outlet mall, which was surprisingly fun. I needed new dress shoes, so we were looking for that, but it was nice to just sort of wander and look around. Usually when my family goes to any mall, we have fairly specific stores we need to go to and there isn't really any wandering.
  • In addition, I got to have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory with my aunt and her family! Catching up with them was nice, and the cousins were cute. Plus, I hadn't actually been to the Cheesecake Factory before, so that was exciting. Also, I now understand this meme:
  • And then we celebrated actual Easter with my roommate's grandparents, who are quite wonderful people, and there was much delicious homemade food both there and at the roommate's actual house. I don't think I realized quite how blessed I was at home to have Mommy's homemade cooking every day until I had to eat dining hall food every day for so long. I mean, Chuck's is good. As dining halls good, we have one of the best in the country. But by this point . . . well, it's getting old.
  • Of course, Easter break was only one small weekend!
  • Backing up: the weekend before Easter break, my roommate, another friend, and I went to see our college's spring play, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged] [Revised]. It was . . . interesting. I don't think I caught all the references because I only really know a half-dozen of Shakespeare's plays. I still enjoyed it, though.
  • That same weekend, my roommate and I went down into town and spent the morning at a coffeeshop, like we did last month. We visited a different coffeeshop this time, though. I think I like the first one better for overall writer-y atmosphere, but this one served more breakfasty foods. That said, we've discovered that the best place to get breakfast in cedarville is the Corner Bakery, which has delicious quiches and equally delicious scones. And if you happen to want dessert, not breakfast, their maple-walnut bars and lemon bars are also pretty amazing.
  • Anyway. Sort-of-continuing the topic of food: remember how I mentioned last month that I had fancy-ish end-of-year things coming up? One of those things was the PWID Awards Banquet, which took place the day after I got back from Easter break. It was nice. Good food (I haven't had chicken breast in ages, and the chocolate cake was spot-on), and less intimidating than I expected, even if I did end up seated with a complete stranger, without another student for backup . . . And then the banquet ran late, so I had to run across campus in fancy shoes to get to a finals study group meeting.
  • Rather more exciting thing that also happened that day: TDK Assassins began! For those who are currently freaking out because SARAH, I THOUGHT YOU WENT TO A CHRISTIAN SCHOOL (or who are just curious): assassins is sort of an elaborate game of tag. Everyone who signs up receives two things: a plastic spoon and the name of one of the other participant. This other participant is your target; your goal is to tap or lightly stab them with the plastic spoon. Once you do this, they're "dead" and you receive the name of their target as your next target. I managed to get first "kill" (a fact that I tried to keep quiet in order to not be considered a threat, though somehow it leaked out), and I also survived until day three, of which I'm rather proud. I would've gotten my second target too, except she slept through both chapel and her first class . . . I think it's going to become an annual thing (the game, not this particular person oversleeping), so I'm quite excited for next year. Hopefully I'll do even better then.
  • Also I attended three concerts this week! Which meant I spent a few days feeling quite fancy and cultured and all that sort of thing.
    • The first was a farewell concert by one of the music profs, the former head of the music department actually. It was also the world premier of a set of pieces by another music prof. Those two factors meant that literally everyone was there: the university president and other officials, all the professor's former and current students, the head of the honors program (who also happens to teach the philosophy part of Honors and is my favorite professor ever) . . . I got there fifteen minutes earlier and still ended up sitting in the very back. Because it was such a Big Deal, this concert also included a fancy reception with cake and little tarts and macarons. You know something's fancy when there are macarons there. The tarts and macarons were delicious; I can't speak for the cake. Also, I managed to meet the philosophy prof's wife, so that was fun.
    • The second concert was the symphonic band concert. I realized in hindsight that I have several friends in said band, so I could've said I was there because they were playing or something. Actually, I only went because I happened to have time after the Communications Department end-of-year celebration (more good food- barbeque, macaroni and cheese, fruit, and desserts, including peanut butter cookies with Reese's Cups in the middle) and the posters said the band was playing something called the "Steampunk Suite." It wasn't quite as amazing as I hoped, but I still enjoyed it.
    • Finally, I went to the jazz band concert, partially because I have a friend in jazz band, and partially because I discovered last semester that I actually enjoy some jazz. (For context: I spent most of my life thinking that I heartily disliked jazz; then the jazz band provided music for chapel one day and I realized, "Oh my pumpernickel, this is so fun!") By the end of the concert, I'd realized that I don't understand jazz any better than I understand any other type of music, but I did enjoy it very much. I also had "Jericho" stuck in my head for a few hours afterwards, but there are worse songs to have stuck in your head . . .
  • To finish out the month: tonight is the end-of-year celebration for the Honors Org. We're having a formal soiree, and I'm not quite sure what that means? But the invitation says "food, fellowship, and jollification," and the people running it have mentioned games, so it should be all good. Feel free to ask me in comments how it went, if you're curious.

May Plans!

  • I'm going home! There's less than a week left until summer break! Huzzah!
  • Except before that, I have to survive finals. I have three, and only one is cumulative, so it should've terrible. Prayers would be nice anyway, if you don't mind, especially since I got the date of one of the finals mixed up and so didn't start studying as soon as I perhaps should've.
  • But after that- home! freedom! family! homemade food!
  • Yes, I think about food a lot. How very observant of you to notice. I'm pretty sure that's a common trait of college students, though.
  • I am a little sad about the semester ending, since it means I have to say goodbye to my roommate and my friend and everyone, and some of them either are not or might not be coming back. I don't think I realized until I came here how much I'd missed having people my own age around while I was in New York. But I'm still looking forward to seeing my family and having more time for creative stuff and all that.
  • I need to keep editing Fight Song, obviously, particularly if I'm going to start posting soon. Plus I'd like to get back to work on Destinies and Decisions at some point in the near future. And I think I might have some photos I need to edit from last summer? I could be wrong about that, though.
  • Also I have, like, two or three seasons' worth of book releases to catch up on, so that's going to be fun.
  • And I want to do some movie-watching, namely the rest of the Back to the Time trilogy and more Marvel. And hopefully Indiana Jones as well. I don't think I'll get in all of that during May, though; it'll have to be spread over the summer.
  • Also, there will be photography. Some of the people from our photo club in Virginia are running a photography tour of an abandoned factory/steel mill, or at least what's left of it, and we're going and I'm very excited.
  • I'm also hoping to join in on Nadine Brandes' #Walk30Days Challenge. With luck, that'll be enough to keep me moving once I get home, because I definitely need to exercise . . . I kind of slacked off over the winter, because it was cold outside and I didn't want to leave the dorm more than necessary. Also, I was busy. Obviously. But, yeah, we'll see if that actually happens or if my motivation peters out halfway through the month because books/editing/movies/whatever seem more interesting.
  • Other than that . . . there may be some travel, but I don't know exactly what the plans for that look like yet. We'll see. The month overall should be pretty chill- it has to be; I won't have classes or homework to deal with!
How's your April been? Have any big plans for May? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Character Encounters April 2017
Hello, everyone! Character Encounters is back! This month, we're meeting our characters under a bridge- which actually is pretty easy, since we have at least two bridges here on campus. And under one of them happened to be a character from my current WIP, Fight Song, . . . well, you'll see which one in a minute.
I noticed the hammock as I pushed open the second set of SSC doors and emerged into the brilliant sunshine. Now, hammocks are hardly an odd sight on campus. On a day like this, the strange thing would be to not see at least one student happily hammocking. However, two things about this particular hammock caught my attention as I headed towards Tyler for my next class. First of all: the location. For some reason, the owner of the hammock had hung it under the bridge between the HSC and the ENS. This still wasn't unheard-of, even if it was unusual; unless the lake was especially high, that bridge only crossed a concrete slab. Anyone could walk on it and set up a hammock if they wanted to. 

The second unusual thing about the hammock, I didn't realize until  I had almost reached the bridge. At that point, the person occupying the hammock poked her head out, grinned, and called out, "Oh, hello!" Even that wasn't particularly unusual, though- except for the identity of the person. 

"Uhjin!" I immediately scrambled down the grassy bank towards the edge of Cedar Lake. "What are you doing here?"

Uhjin pushed her black curls away from her face. "I'm enjoying myself. You don't need me for another six chapters at least, since Callie and Jonathan are doing all the work right now, and it's a beautiful day; I might as well make the most of it. Join me? There's room for a second hammock down here."

"Sorry, no. I have a class in . . ." I checked my phone. "Half an hour. Also, I don't have a hammock."

"You're an author." Uhjin twisted so she lay on her stomach, which set the hammock rocking so much I thought she'd fall out. "Can't you just poof one into existence?"

"Sorry, reality-warping abilities only apply in storyworlds." I hooked my fingers around my backpack straps. "So why are you under the bridge?" 

"Because I wanted to be, of course. It's something different." Uhjin looked out at the lake. "This is nice. We should get one at Foundry City College."

"Good luck with that." I laughed. "You're in the middle of a city, not a cornfield like here-- which I think is why you went in the first place- and I don't see the college trustees or whoever runs the place putting in an artificial lake."

"You could put in a lake." Uhjin gave me a sweet smile, the same one that convinced Callie to set aside work and practice in favor of campus on more than one occasion and won Uhjin all her many boyfriends to date. "You're the author."

However effective Uhjin's smile might be, I have enough experience with my younger sister to not be swayed. "Nice try, but no."

"Oh well." Uhjin slid back into her hammock so she was basically hidden. "Worth a try."

"No, it really wasn't." I checked my phone again. "I need to get going. Will you be here later?"

"Probably." Uhjin sat back up to wave. "See you around."

I headed back up to the sidewalk. "See you- if not here, then in the story." 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Secondhand Fandom Syndrome

Hello, everyone. My name is Sarah. And I have Secondhand Fandom Syndrome.

Secondhand Fandom Syndrome (SFS), simply put, is a curious phenomenon in which someone who has never read or watched the focus of a particular fandom nevertheless displays signs of being in that fandom. Sometimes it's a mild condition; sometimes it's so extreme that the person is actually mistaken for a fandom member. And today, bouncing off Top Ten Tuesdays' fandom theme for this week, I'm going to detail five symptoms to help you recognize Secondhand Fandom Syndrome in yourself or your loved ones.

Friday 5s: Secondhand Fandom Syndrome Symptoms

  1. A significant number of the person's friends are in that particular fandom. This is both cause and symptom of SFS. One develops Secondhand Fandom Syndrome through constant exposure to a particular fandom. Then, once one becomes a Secondhand Fan, one tends to seek out true fans of the series (or other Secondhand Fans) as friends, which intensifies the syndrome, creating a cycle. The only ways to break this cycle? If the Secondhand Fan looses interest in the fandom or if they officially become a part of that fandom by reading the book, watching the movie or TV show, or playing the game.
  2. The person easily recognizes even not-immediately-obvious references to the fandom. There is an important distinction here. If someone knows that a Weeping Angel is from Doctor Who or that "girl on fire" means Hunger Games, that just means they have some awareness of popular/geek culture. On the other hand, if the person gets why someone else has tally marks on their arm (and denies knowledge of why the marks are there) or if they know why a dam snack bar is hilarious . . . they're probably a Secondhand Fan (if not a full-on fan). 
  3. The person attempts to make references to the fandom. This might be to appeal to their fandom friends, or to make other people think that they themselves are legitimately in the fandom. Unfortunately, these references tend to fall flat because the person making them doesn't quite understand everything behind the reference. And even if the reference was done well, others still might not get it, since they don't associate that person with the fandom in question. Such is the unfortunate plight of the overly enthusiastic Secondhand Fan.
  4. The person reads, and may actively seek out, fanfiction or fanart for the fandom of which they're a Secondhand Fan. Like the friends in the fandom, this may be both cause and symptom, particularly in the case of fanfiction. The person encounters a piece of fanfiction and reads it, possibly without realizing that it is fanfiction. They enjoy it, so when they see another piece, they read that as well. Often, they may read the fanfics simply because the stories are written by friends whose writing styles they enjoy. Eventually, the person will become a Secondhand Fan, which means they will be even more likely to enjoy fanfiction and fanart for the series. (On a sidenote: this is super effective; it's basically what got me into the PJO fandom, and why I'm a Secondhand Fan of HP.)
  5. The person actively ships or otherwise has strong feelings regarding particular characters in that fandom. This represents a very extreme form of SFS. In most cases, although the Secondhand Fan enjoys the fandom, they do not have strong feelings about it. If one's SFS progresses to this stage, one should probably just join the fandom already if at all possible; it'll be easier all 'round.
The question, of course, remains: why do those with Secondhand Fandom Syndrome stay Secondhand Fans instead of fully joining the fandom? Well, parental permissions may be a factor, but the most common reason is that we all only have so much time to read, watch, and otherwise engage with the fandom, and that means that sometimes, the series or show will just have to wait.

Are you a Secondhand Fan? If so, of what fandoms? Do you know of any symptoms I missed? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)