Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 2017 Doings!

Hey'a, everyone! It's the end of another month- but not a crazy one, thankfully. Actually, this was the most relaxing month I've had in a while . . . but just because it was relaxing doesn't mean there's nothing to report here!


  • On the whole, this was a pretty good writing month, possibly because I spent a lot of time in the car (it's an excellent place to write because there's no internet to distract me and I'm too scared of wasting my battery to play Solitaire or Candy Crush) and possibly because I had no schoolwork, nice weather, and a few days with good motivation.
  • In terms of actual writing, I completed two and a half flashfics (I'll post the two eventually, after I've edited them a bit) and a new scene in Destinies and Decisions. Editing was slightly less productive, but most of the work I did was on Destinies and Decisions, which I've been neglecting for a while now. (That was partially because of Camp NaNoWriMo and partially because I was procrastinating on rewriting another subplot.)
  • In addition worked on random bits of worldbuilding (dragon Riders don't get concussions! but they do have problems with cancer), part of which I actually wrote down and part of which is still in my head. I've decided to finally create a file on Evernote for all my worldbuilding info instead of just keeping it in a standard notebook, so that (A)there's less chance of losing it and (B)I can access it at any time. I still have to copy all the stuff I've done before into the file, but . . . oh well. It's a start.
  • Also, in case you missed it, I started posting Fight Song! So far, the prologue, and first two chapters are up. You don't have to read them, obviously, but if you haven't yet and you're interested . . .


  • As I already said, May was a pretty good writing month . . . but it was an even better reading month, with a lovely blend of rereads and new books, many of which people have been recommending to me for a while.
  • In that latter category fits Plenilune, which came out . . . I want to say around the time the first Ilyon Chronicles was released? So it's been a few years, and it was before I really bought new books that I hadn't read yet. I'm honestly glad I didn't read it then; I don't think I would've appreciated it as much as I did reading it now. It is an amazing book, though dark enough in places that I'd recommend it more for mature readers.
  • Also in that category goes The Firethorn Crown, which was a pretty cool 12 Dancing Princesses retelling that Deborah O'Carroll heartily recommended to me. I enjoyed it; there's dragons (including tiny butterfly dragons!), a reasonably creepy villain, and sisters being awesome and having each other's backs. It's not my favorite 12 Dancing Princesses retelling, but it's still good (and free on Kindle, if you're interested)! I didn't enjoy the sequel, The Midsummer Captives, quite as much, maybe because I didn't connect as much with the characters and maybe because I didn't realize until after the fact that it was a retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was still a good book, though, and had more dragons in it.
  • The final book in the category of heartily-recommended-to-me-reads is The Lies of Locke Lamora- and, yes, when I say "recommended" here, I mostly mean "Cait Grace yelled about it on her blog so much that I got curious." I was rather less impressed by this one than by Plenilune or the Firethorn Crown books. Don't get me wrong, the story is great, the characters likeable (mostly), and the heists and intrigue as exciting as you might want. It honestly felt the same way I think a Mistborn prequel novel about Kelsier's old crew would feel. However, there was a lot of very strong language and not-entirely-appropriate references- so much that I almost put the book down only a tenth of the way in, and enough that I can't wholeheartily recommend the book myself.
  • On the retelling side, we have the first three James Herriot biographies. I'm not sure these totally qualify as rereads, since I didn't read them myself; rather, my dad read them to me when I was younger. The whole matter started because I found the first book, All Creatures Great and Small, for 25 cents at a curriculum sale and decided to get it. I expected to be a few days getting through it (it's a relatively thick book, and I assume biographies are slow), but then I read it in roughly 24 hours and found myself in desperate need of the next one, All Things Bright and Beautiful. Thankfully, we owned that one already, and I got through it almost as quickly. The last two we had to get at the library, and I'm currently working on book three, All Things Wise and Wonderful, though not as quickly because I've been doing other things besides reading.
  • A few other books that don't fit into the heartily-recommended-to-me or rereads categories: Wires and Nerve Volume 1 is the new Lunar Chronicles graphic novel; I enjoyed it, but felt like it should've been longer. Graphic novels are tricky that way. Long May She Reign was fantasy-mystery with a scientist protagonist: something different, definitely enjoyable, and surprisingly clean, though not as amazing as I hoped. And Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth's new book: sci-fi, on the darker side, not really what I expected but not bad.


  • So many things!
  • Obviously, I finished watching Merlin and I was actually fairly satisfied with the ending? I mean, yes, I'm sad and now I want more than ever to write my modern-day continuation fanfic since BBC seems unwilling to give us a modern-day reboot. But I wasn't as upset as I expected to be.
  • Then I came home and tackled all the movies I need to catch up on. I started with the Back to the Future trilogy, specifically the second and third movie. I almost think the second might be my favorite, which is weird since usually the second is the worst in any trilogy. And, yeah, I absolutely hated the first thirty minutes of the the movie. But I actually enjoyed the rest of it quite a bit. The third one was fun as well, since it was sort of a western but also not and I didn't have to deal with everyone dying in the end, which is what usually seems to happen in westerns.
  • And then I moved on to what I was really looking forward to: the rest of the Marvel movies! All I had left was Guardians and the second two Captain America movies, plus I wanted to rewatch the first Captain America, just to refresh my memory. Guardians was fabulous- not my very favorite Marvel movie, but it's probably up there. Hopefully I'll be able to watch the second one more or less as soon as it comes out on DVD (or arrives on Netflix, if I can convince my roommate to watch it with me, since I don't think it'll be out until September).
  • Then came the Captain America movies. Rewatching the first one was actually super refreshing for two reasons. For one thing, I knew everything that happened already, which prevented the panic moments ("He has to survive! There's another movie! Right?". For another, it's one of the few Marvel movies where I never feel the need to yell at the characters for being idiots/unreasonable/etc.
  • Of course, The Winter Soldier and Civil War were considerably less relaxing . . . though TWS wasn't nearly as emotionally draining as I expected it to be. The fact that I knew most of the major twists already helped a lot. Civil War was another story- but I already posted my thoughts on it, so I won't repeat myself here.


  • You don't have to understand something to love it; you don't have to know everything about something to like it; you don't have to be good at something to enjoy it. So often in the fandom world (and outside it too), you feel like you don't really love something if you don't know all the trivia, if you can't quote half the movie or all the best lines from the book, if you haven't read or watched it a dozen times. Or in terms of activities, people assume that if you enjoy doing something, you must be good at it in the sense of having a natural affinity for it, because why else would you keep doing it? But it's not like that. The fact that I do not know every little piece of LOTR trivia and haven't read The Silimarillion since I was eleven does not make me less of a LOTR fan than my friend whose favorite fictional character in the world is never mentioned in the main trilogy. The fact that I don't understand a lot of science and philosophy doesn't mean that I can't be fascinated by it, that I can't enjoy learning about it, that I can't appreciate all that those things give us. I can call myself a photographer even though I still don't get ISO and probably use Photoshop techniques that would make an experienced photographer recoil in horror. I can be a writer even though I don't always know what I'm doing and I couldn't explain the snowflake method to you if you offered me a million dollars. But that's ok. Storms, I don't always understand that which I love most- God, family, friends- but that doesn't mean I love them any less. And I think that's beautiful.


  • Well, there's plenty to put in here, even if it has been a fairly relaxing month. Where to start, then? I suppose at the beginning- which was also an ending. Specifically, the end of my first year of college! Finals went well; I honestly think that I stressed more about packing than I did about any of my finals. Thankfully, I ended up having no finals Thursday, the day before I was supposed to leave, so I could just pack EVERYTHING and not have to go anywhere except to eat. I still ended up stressing most of the day, trying to fit everything into roughly as many boxes and suitcases as I had with me (and kind of failing because I'd accumulated way more stuff than I had at the beginning of the year, plus I'm not an efficient packer to begin with).
  • We stopped at my grandpa's house for a day on the way home, which was nice. While we were there, my dad and I went on a photo expedition to Carrie Furnace, which used to be part of an old steel works and is now abandoned.

    Eventually I'm going to write a whole blog post about the experience and show off the pictures I took. I would've done it sooner, but all the movie-watching that I mentioned earlier kind of distracted me.
  • Then we got home, I unpacked- which was easier than packing, since I knew already where most stuff was going to go- and also went through my clothes and books to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Going through my personal bookshelves was the hardest part. I have a lot of books that I rarely, if ever, read, but I held onto because I liked them when I was younger, or because they're classics, or because I just feel like I should keep them even though I've outgrown them. But I managed, and so there's a little more space on my shelves . . . at least for now. I'm still going to try to convince my parents that I need another bookshelf later, even if I have to buy it myself.
  • That brings us to roughly the 9th of May, and you know what I've mostly done since then? Absolutely nothing. Or, sort of. I did all the reading and writing and editing and movie-watching and such that I already mentioned, so that's something, but it's a different kind of something than what I'd been doing for the last nine months, and it's lovely. There's no deadlines. No places I have to be. No reason I can't spend the morning working on a story or sit outside with a book all afternoon. Of course, there's also nothing to keep me from wasting too much time on Pinterest, but oh well . . .
  • The exception to the doing-of-nothing: last weekend, my family joined our Bible Study group from back in Virginia on a retreat at White Sulphur Springs. And, ok, there was a fair bit of doing-nothing there too. Technically I was supposed to help with meal prep, but there's a lot of other people who know a lot more about what they're doing in the kitchen than I do, so basically all I did was set stuff out on tables- and I wasn't even needed for that much, really. So I mostly ended up reading books in whatever comfortable spots I could find and chatting and playing games with friends and catching up on their lives.
  • Oh, and for anyone who remembers that I was supposed to do the #Walk30DaysChallenge and is wondering how that's going, well, it kind of didn't work out as well as I hoped. Finals week kept me busy enough that I didn't have much time to go walking. Then I got home and it was cold and wet and I started thinking "Y'know, maybe I'll just wait and try this again in June." And then I realized that maybe that wasn't a great idea and put some effort into getting regular physical exercise the rest of the month. Thankfully, the weather warmed up a bit, which allowed me to go walking a fair number of days. Plus, I managed to come up with an alternate aerobics routine for when it's too rainy to walk, so that's something.

June Plans!

  • First off: in case you can't guess from the fact that I'm posting this early or the fact that this happens basically every year: I'm going on hiatus for the next two weeks or so, during which I will have little, if any, internet access. You probably also know why I'm going on hiatus. I really don't know why I pretend you don't at this point, but I'm going to keep doing it anyway. I'd say not to go crazy while I'm gone, but I suspect that some of you won't even notice I'm not here.
  • The exception to the hiatus: I will be participating on a pretty exciting cover reveal on June 1 through the magic of prescheduled posts. I'm not going to say what cover is being revealed; you'll just have to stop by and see. (I'm giving the screen a Significant Eyebrow Wiggle here. You can't see it, so you'll just have to imagine it.)
  • During and after the hiatus, I hope to do quite a lot of reading and editing/writing. Usually I'm pretty productive during the hiatus; I generally average a book every two days, and I can often block out an hour or two solid for writing purposes. Hopefully that trend continues. And even after the hiatus, I shouldn't be super busy, so maybe I can keep up the pace?
  • One thing I'm super excited for: the announcement of the fairytale for the next Five Something Somethings contest! This contest, run by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and Rooglewood Press, offers the challenge to retell a fairytale in a 20K word novella. It was canceled last year, much to my disappointment, and this is going to be the last year it's going to happen. The fairytale theme and the title of the book will be released on June 1, which means that it'll be time for me to start brainstorming so I can write my novella for July's Camp NaNoWriMo.
  • Outside of reading and writing, I hope to keep up with the whole regular-exercise thing. We'll see how it goes; I have rather limited options for where I can walk right now, and I'm getting bored of my main route (which also happens to be the best route for walking in the area).
  • There's also some stuff going on in mid-June that will keep me rather busy and might cause another brief hiatus from blogging (though not from the internet as a whole). However, I'm not sure what I can say about it right now, so . . .. yeah. Details will come when they can come.
How was your May? Any fun plans for June? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  


  1. Oh, a photo expedition in an abandoned steelworks factory! I can just imagine the story potential in that!

    I love the James Herriot books, they are so rich.

    1. Yep! It was very much awesome.

      They truly are. I just finished the series this past week, and I swear, every one is just as wonderful as the last.


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