Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 2017 Doings!

Woah. That was a loooooong month. Honestly, it felt more like two months— yet my summer was still too short. At least it was pretty productive . . .


  • Well, sort of productive. My grand plans to finish Blood in the Snow and then edit more of Fight Song kind of didn't work out. That's partially because I had more scenes to get through than I expected, but it's mostly because I allowed myself to become distracted by various things. Some of them (like organizing my room and being social with family and friends), I did actually need to do. Others, like reading and various internet things . . . not so much.
  • I did get some work done, particularly while traveling. (For the record: on the road is one of my favorite places to write, mostly because I don't get distracted as easily.) However, I didn't accomplish as much as I planned, since on one trip, I forgot my extra notebook, and on another, I didn't actually spend as much time on the road as I expected. (To be more specific: I thought I'd be traveling for five to eight hours, but it ended up being around three. Pretty big difference, though.)
  • And then I sort of left my characters in the middle of the climax for a week when I got to college. Oops.
  • But now I'm nearly done, thanks to a trip to the coffeeshop with my roommate last weekend! If all goes to plan, I should only have two or thee more scenes before I'm done. Of course, then I still have to edit . . . oh stars. Hopefully I can get this done for the deadline . . .


  • Ok, I thought I read way more than that this month. Maybe it just felt like more . . .
  • Most of what I read was fairy-tale retellings. I read all three Sleeping Beauty retellings from the Three Sleeping Beauties blog tour, and all of them were awesome. Unsurprisingly, Poison Kiss was my absolute favorite, partially because of all the fairy tales wound together and partially because of Puss. Puss is the best. If you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It's only $2 on Amazon- if you have Kindle Unlimited, it's free. You can read it in under an hour. What are you waiting for?
  • Of the other two retellings in the tour, Rosette Thornbriar was my second favorite. I enjoyed the setting and the style and the characters, even though I was a little uncertain at first. Twisted Dreams was good as well, though not as amazing as I'd hoped.
  • The last of the retellings I read was also a Sleeping Beauty retelling of sorts: Sew, It's a Quest. Since Kendra re-released it, I thought I'd re-read it, even though I didn't think I liked it that much, and wow. It leapt from my least favorite of Kendra's books to my top five favorites.
  • Besides fairy tale retellings, I read the Dragon's Guide series, which was fun. The first one is definitely the best, but I enjoyed all of them. They're told partially from the perspective of a centuries-old, slightly grumpy old dragon lady and partially from the perspective of a young girl of . . . about ten, I think? maybe a little older? Anyway. They're delightful. Definitely would recommend, especially the first one.
  • Also, I now know what people mean about braving the children's section, because while our new library in VA is wonderful, it does have waaaay too short shelves in the children's section and it's hard not to feel like people are judging you. I rather miss our old VA library, which had all the kids' chapter books on tall shelves. Not only does that make it easier for young adults who like Diana Wynne Jones and similar to find what they want without feeling awkward, but it also makes the kids feel more grown-up. At least I think so.
  • The last book I read this month was, as you can probably see, the first Harry Potter. Yes, this is my first time reading it. First I wasn't allowed, then I wasn't interested . . . but then I came to college, and my roommate's a fan, and I ran into more and more internet people who liked it, and then I got Pinterest and you can't help but run into the HP fandom on there, and some of the stuff made me curious. And then one of us- I can't remember if it was my roommate or me- came up with the idea of reading the series at the same time this semester. So, we did. And I think I like it, but definitely not in the same way that the people who read it when they were younger do. For one thing, I can't quite approve of some of the stuff Harry and his friends get up to. For another, I think I've been spoiled by all the stuff I've seen from the fandom- not because I know what did happen, but because I know what didn't and what could've and honestly I might like some of the headcanons and AUs better than the real thing. We'll see if my opinion holds once we get further in the series.
  • Oh- oh! And before I set off to college, guess where I went? McKay's! If you weren't here for last month's doings, McKay's is a used bookstore about fifteen minutes from my house and I desperately wanted to go, because used books. And so now I own two hardcover Wheel of Time books, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (because I've heard it's good), and- and- AND copies of The Hobbit and The Silimarillion that match my copies of The Lord of the Rings! Honestly, I'm more excited about that than I am about the new-to-me books. And, admittedly, I really don't need The Sillimarillion because I have a gorgeous hardcover copy with beautiful illustrations in it that I got for my birthday several years ago- but it was $2.50, and the new copy is more portable, and it matches, so I think it's a worthwhile purchase. So, yes. I am much pleased.


  • Another reason to be happy: guys, I finally watched Serenity! It took me a year, but I've finally finished all the Firefly material!
  • And now I want to know whyyyyyy there isn't more. I mean, I know why, but still- whyyyyyy?
  • The general feel of the movie was definitely different from the TV shows, especially at the beginning, but I still enjoyed it. Most of the Firefly-related spoilers I'd seen before I got into the fandom came from the movie, so once I realized that, it was . . . interesting, putting the pieces together and trying to figure out how what I knew was actually going to happen.
  • Also, I thought I knew who died. I was wrong on one, but wasn't actually as torn up about it as I expected. The other one I was right about and it hurt more than I expected and was just generally Not OK. Also, it kind of came out of nowhere, and I might've shrieked a little. So, yeah.
  • And then River decided to be awesome and that distracted me for a while because wow. I am not generally impressed by violence and action sequences- ok, that's a lie. I am not impressed by violence, but I am very impressed by a well-done action sequence, and that one definitely qualifies. River is officially scary, in addition to strange and creepifying.
  • Besides finally watching Serenity, my roommate and I started our show of the semester, which is . . .
  • This is my roommate's favorite show in the genre and my first foray into anime, and I'm not 100% sure how I feel about it. I think I like it? I definitely enjoy some things- the plotlines held my interest at first, and then I met Erza and currently she's about a third of the reason why I'm still watching. Also, the worldbuilding and especially all the different types of magic are super fun.
  • That said, a lot of the characters (other than Erza, for the most part) annoy me for one reason or another, and some elements are just kind of . . . weird. The style is hard to get used to as well. The best way I can think to describe it is as a comic book translated directly to the screen? But even that's not entirely accurate, with some of the figurative imagery and exaggerated expressions. It's just odd. Not bad, necessarily, but definitely odd.
  • Also, why do literally none of the main characters dress sensibly? I mean Erza sort of does when she's in her normal outfit (except that her skirt is far shorter than it needs to be), but she's the only one. And I know I haven't met all the main characters yet, but still. It's rather annoying.
  • Overall, the best comparison I can think of is that this show the TV equivalent to popcorn or chips: fun, easy to take in a lot of at once, but without a whole lot of substance. Maybe that'll change as the series goes on. I don't know. I do plan to keep watching until I have a good reason to stop, though (if the roommate agrees), I might end up taking breaks every so often to watch or re-watch movies or other shows. We'll see.


  • We started out the month on the road again, visiting a family friend in Lexington, Virginia. Compared to most of our other recent trips, this one was pretty chill. We did stop at several country stores and Amish stores along the way there and back, though, which was fun. That also allowed me to replenish my supply of chai tea, though I unfortunately couldn't find any decaf.
  • On that note, if you know where to acquire decaf chai tea powder without spending a fortune on it, please let me know in comments. None of the stores I checked carry it anymore, and I can't find it on Amazon for a decent price. If you can help, I'll be forever grateful and probably in your debt.
  • After that, we had only a day at home- just long enough to unpack the rest of my room- before we set off again, this time for Pennsylvania to pick up my sister from White Sulpher Springs support staff and to visit my grandpa. Once again, it was a fairly relaxed trip, and I got to see several of my friends from last year when we picked up Rachel.
  • Then we headed home once again- and again had only one day there before we headed off on yet another trip, this time to Texas to visit my grammy. Of course, Texas is considerably further away than Pennsylvania or southern Virginia . . . Which meant that early in the morning of Thursday, August 10, I found myself in an airport for the first time in almost ten years!
  • Now, just because I haven't been on a plane in years doesn't mean I've never flown before. So I did my best to remain chill throughout the two flights that took us to Texas. But if someone could have looked in on my thoughts before and during either takeoff, they would've heard something along the lines of: Are we going yet? Now? Come on, come on . . . Now? Ahhhhhh! Yes! We're going up! We're going up! Yes! Yesyesyes! So, yeah. Not sure how chill I looked, but mentally I was altogether too excited.
  • For the record: on the return trip, I had a window seat and thus gave up slightly on chill. Or, in other words, I took a bunch of pictures out the window as we went up. And at one point I looked down and saw our shadow in the clouds amidst a halo of rainbows, but it was gone all too fast and did not return no matter how I looked.
  • As for our time actually in Texas: the first two days were fairly uneventful, save for the food. (Rudy's Barbeque! Cheddar's (which I'd never eaten at before but now love)! Mexican!)
  • Then, on Saturday, we went to the Moody Gardens in Galveston, which was super fun. The main attraction there is three glass pyramids, each housing a different type of exhibit. The first and most exciting is an aquarium- for the record, I love aquariums. The good ones, at least- they're filled with strangeness and beauty side by side and sometimes blended into one. Also, there are frequently penguins or seals (this one had both), which means complete and utter adorableness.
  • After the aquarium, we stopped for lunch and a 3D movie about Henry Bates, who discovered Batesian Mimics. Lunch was delicious and far surpassed my expectations; the movie . . . not so much. The imagery was gorgeous, and they clearly tried their best with the storytelling, but there was too much I disagreed with for me to really enjoy it.
  • After that, we headed to the next pyramid: the Rainforest Pyramid, which is exactly what it sounds like. I got more pictures there than in the aquarium, though I was less excited with it as a whole. Granted, that's because it basically combines two exhibits at the National Zoo, which I've visited plenty of times already. I still enjoyed it, though, and it had bats (!!!) and orchids and a shy ocelot, so I'm not complaining.
  • The final pyramid was labeled the Discovery Museum, which was really just a series of displays about Leonardo da Vinci and his scientific and artistic work. So, not terribly exciting, though it was good story research. We finished the day with a walk around Galveston and dinner at the Fisherman's Wharf, which was even better than lunch.
  • Then, on Sunday, I got to meet the lovely Victoria Marinov! We got together at a local cafe specializing in crepes (which are, by the way, amazing and something I want to learn how to make now) and chatted for a while about life and school and books and travel. So that was super awesome. It's always interesting to meet online friends offline because, on one hand, we already know each other, but on the other, we've never actually talked face-to-face, so it's hard to figure out what to say. But despite the fact that we're both introverts, we managed.
  • That gets us up to Monday, when we flew back to Virginia . . . just in time for me to start packing for college! Yay! Not! Word of advice: it doesn't matter if you've done this before. If you try to pack without a list, especially if you're in a rush, you'll forget a bunch of stuff that you need. For example, your purse. And your umbrella. And all the hair supplies you own except for your brush and comb and the ponytail holder on your braid when you left. So that was a bit annoying.
  • The first couple days on campus were actually pretty relaxing, which was nice- I needed some chill time after such a busy summer. Classes didn't start until Wednesday, so all I actually had to do was go to chapel for the Fall Bible Conference and get stuff in order for classes. I may or may not have spent a little more time doing nothing than I really should've those few days . . . but oh well.
  • As for classes- well, despite the fact that I had a bit of a mini-panic on Tuesday when I read through all the syllabi and the other fact that I unexpectedly had to buy books for two of my classes, they're going about as well as I thought they would. My classes for my major involve a lot of discussion and interaction, plus one of them is with my advisor (who's pretty awesome). Theology with my favorite professor is just as awesome as I expected- though it does involve group work, which I'm not particularly thrilled about- with one exception, group projects often seem to end either with me doing all the work or with everyone else ignoring most of my suggestions. It's very annoying. And while I've only had one day of the C.S. Lewis seminar, that seems like it'll be pretty cool too.
  • The only class that I'm not terribly thrilled with at the moment is English Grammar. Not that it's hard exactly, and there's not as much workload as I expected, but, well, I know this stuff already. I've done it for 12 years. And while I like words and writing, grammar, especially diagramming, is kind of tedious. And the classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I have to spend a half-hour longer on them than I would on other classes, so . . . yeah. It's really long, and the tests apparently take two hours or better, and the teacher is far too enthusiastic about the whole business. The only redeeming factors are that: (A) the one big project for the class is a poster, which should be pretty fun, and (B) the worksheets where you have to write sentences including certain elements or following a certain pattern are kind of fun because I can write about my characters.
  • Also, I might be writing or photographing for the school newspaper? I'm a little uncertain, because journalism and I haven't quite gotten on well in the past, but if I'm in the Arts and Entertainment section, I can potentially review plays and movies and maybe even recent books, which would be cool? And I'm fine at photography; I just have to make time for it. And it pays a fair bit more than I thought, so there's that. And it would probably look good on my resume- at the very least, it would show that I was actually involved in something official at college besides the Honors Org.

September Plans!

  • Obviously, I have classes, which'll take up most of my time. So far, none of my classes have a super heavy workload, but that may change soon. It's kind of hard to say for sure; I have all my assignments written down, but I don't know for sure how much actual work a lot of them will be.
  • But it's not like there won't be plenty to keep me busy, however much my workload increases or doesn't. The Honors Org runs a weekly trivia bowl starting tomorrow, which I'm excited for, and other org and hall events will start this weekend as well. And while I'm only in one org this year and probably won't do a D-Group (since my church should have a Bible study again), I do want to try some exercise classes, namely a self-defense/martial arts-type class, assuming the gym offers it again.
  • And, of course, I need to hurry and finish Blood in the Snow so I can start editing it and also edit a few more chapters of Fight Song. I definitely need to make a set goal of some kind so that I actually have something to work towards and build into my routine rather than just saying "Oh, I need to do this sometime."
  • On the bookish front: reading Harry Potter will continue. My roommate just finished rereading book one tonight, so hopefully we can start book two before too long. In the meantime, I have an ever-present TBR and the CMC in my college library is still wonderful.
  • Also, for those who aren't aware: September 7th is National Book Buying Day. You may do with this information what you wish, but I plan to celebrate in the obvious fashion. (That's the main reason I haven't yet bought Exiles- that and I haven't had much time in which to do so.)
  • On a less mundane note: there's apparently a Renaissance Festival less than an hour away from my college. Are my roommate and I making plans to go? Absolutely. I mean, I've only wanted to go to a Renaissance Festival or Faire since I was, oh, I don't know, ten. It's going to be magnificent. I'm not going to cosplay, because (A) I don't have a costume, and (B) I've never been to one and don't know for sure what it'll be like, and so would like to have pockets and comfortable shoes when I find out. Especially the pockets. Pockets are nice.
  • That . . . pretty much covers it, I think. I'm not sure I have time for much more.
So, how was your August? What plans do you have for September? Have you ever been to a Renaissance Festival, and if so, what did you think? Any advice?
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bookshelf Overhaul Tag

So, for those of you who don't know, Kendra E. Ardnek is re-releasing her six major novels with new covers and improved content, and the cover reveal is only a couple days away! I'm quite excited (even though I rather liked some of the old covers, especially Lady Dragon, Tela Du), especially since I'll be participating in the cover reveal. Kendra also released a tag connected to the cover overhaul, and since it looks like fun, I decided to do it.

1. How long have you been following Knitted By God's Plan and how did you find me?
Um. I discovered Knitted By God's Plan when you commented on one of my posts with a snippet of Water Princess, Fire Prince and then offered to let me beta-read the book to satisfy my curiosity. So I've been following for at least two years, possibly close to three. I tried to find the exact post and comment, but they eluded me.
2. If you've read any of my books, which? And which are your favorites? If you haven't read any, which are you most interested in?
At this point, I've read all of them except for a couple short stories. I rather want to read "The Prior Quest" sometime, but I'm not sure when I'll get around to it. Spending money on ebooks, even when I love the author, is always a struggle for me. As for my favorite, definitely Lady Dragon, Tela Du, because that book is five kinds of awesome.

3. If you could redesign any of my covers, how would it look? Feel free to photoshop something, or just describe it.
I'd love to Photoshop something, but I don't have time, so . . . I guess I'd redesign the short story covers so that they looked more professional. I'm sorry; I like hand-drawn covers when they're well done, but those are . . . not exactly well done. I'm not saying that I could've drawn them better (because I can't draw at all), but yeah. That's honestly the main reason why I didn't read most of the short stories until this summer.

4. Of my WIP's, which are you most eager for me to finish and publish?
So, my first instinct is to say Worth of a King, because I'm currently beta-reading it and while I'm not very far in, I expect that it'll end up in my top three favorites of your books. But I know you're writing it and you're going to publish it relatively soon (hopefully next year, I think?), so I feel like I should pick a different book, in which case I guess I'd go with HaV Academy, because it sounds fascinating. Also, superheroes. Superheroes are cool.

5. Which of my Pinterest Storyboards do you find the most intriguing? 
Hard to pick, but I'm going to go with either HaV Academy or Worth of a King again- HaV because of all the masks and quotes and story prompt posts, Worth because it's fun to try to match pins to characters and guess what might happen in the future based on what's pinned there.

6. Pick a fairy tale and tell me how you would like to rewrite it.
I want to see you take on "The Six Soldiers of Fortune" or "The Six Servants." I don't know how I want you to do them, but they're strange and obscure and used to be some of my favorite fairy tales and I just want to see what you'd do with them.

7. Recommend a book for me to read. 
Well, my automatic response is to suggest Goldstone Wood, but I think you might've tried that? You at least know about it. So instead I'll suggest Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, because it's awesome and it has superheroes, which made me think of HaV Academy. I also think you might like Beggar Magic by H. L. Burke, because it's unique and fairly lighthearted and just generally enjoyable. 

8. If you and I were stranded together on a desert island, how long do you think that we would survive?
Um. Hopefully long enough. I don't have much in the way of survival skills, and I'm pretty sure you don't either, but we've read enough books that maybe we could figure things out until someone came to rescue us.

9. What is a project that you're working on that you can't wait to release into the world?
Haha, all of them? But I guess I'll go with Blood in the Snow, since that's the one that actually has a chance of being out there sometime soon. Hopefully, anyway.

10. What is a burning question that you have for me?
I don't really have any burning questions that I haven't already asked in the chat or put in the Character Q&A thread . . . So I guess I'll ask: how long do you think we'd survive on a desert island? I'm curious.

That was fun. Now, time to get back to all the things I'm actually supposed to be working on . . .
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

So, I Wrote a Thing . . .

For context: a few weeks ago, a few friends and I were discussing a book on Google Hangouts and one of the friends mentioned that she had, at one point, put a promise to make spaghetti whenever asked in a character's wedding vows, just to see if her coauthor would notice. This led to a challenge to come up with an awesome backstory for why the character would promise such a thing. And thus, this happened: 
Once, in a land much like our own only more magical, there was a girl who has never tasted spaghetti. Unfortunately, she lived in New Mexico, and all people of Hispanic descent had long ago sworn enmity against the Italians because of some betrayal in a long ago war. One day, this girl accidentally annoyed a sorcerer. Believing that overkill is always the best response, he cursed her to die before the year was out, unless she could taste that which she most desired but could not attain before that time. He also made her mute, so she couldn't just say, "Hey, my life depends on having a plate of spaghetti."

All her family and friends tried everything they could think of. They perfected all their best dishes, then they started buying rare foods from all over the world, hoping one of them would be the cure. None of them succeeded, because they didn't think of spaghetti, but a few went on to be world-famous chefs because of their efforts.

However, the girl's best friend since childhood, who happened to be in love her (and she with him, though neither would admit it) knew of her secret desire, for she'd told it to him one evening. Alone, without telling anyone for fear they should disbelieve and stop him, he set out to find spaghetti.
Along the way, he faced great opposition from the sorcerer's minions, but through wit and courage, escaped each time, though not always unharmed.
Then he reached New York State and found a town full of Italian people. But they were tired of the Mexicans and Spanish treating them like dirt because of something their ancestors did, so they refused to even speak with him. A few even beat him up and tossed him out of town.
However, as he sought to sneak back in, he encountered a girl of no more than ten and her even younger brothers. They asked him why he was so determined to get inside the town, and he told them about his friend and the sorcerer and the curse. The girl was thrilled to have encountered someone on an adventure and said that she'd help him. So she snuck him into her house and went to find her older brother, who she knew secretly wanted to try enchiladas.
After she convinced the brother to actually talk to our hero instead of throwing him out, the two young men agreed to teach each other their recipes while the little girl went to the grocery store down the street to pick up more spaghetti for the boy to take with him.
During the cooking lesson, the young men became friends. So our hero left with not only spaghetti, but homemade sauce and meatballs and directions to a nearby semi-friendly wizard so he could get home without the meatballs spoiling.
The wizard was willing to send him home, but only after making the boy clean out and replant his garden and promise to bring him some really spicy jalepeno peppers, for, though he was not Hispanic, he had lived in the Southwest in his youth and missed the cuisine greatly. Plus, as everyone knows, New York doesn't know the true meaning of spicy. The boy promised, and the wizard teleported him back to his hometown.
The boy arrived before dawn and snuck back into his house. As quickly and carefully as he could, he prepared a pot of spaghetti. All his clatter in the kitchen nonetheless woke his family, who all demanded to know what he was doing and where he'd been and what he was making, but he only said, "I'm saving my friend's life!" and they had to let him be because everyone was desperate at this point.
The boy finished making the spaghetti and rushed over to the girl's house. The girl's parents let him in and woke her up so she could try what he had brought (though they didn't know it was spaghetti). The girl was, by this time, pretty sick and had nearly given up hope, but her spirits rose when she saw her friend. They rose still more when she saw what it was he had brought.
After three bites of the spaghetti, her voice returned, and she thanked her friend with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. After half the plate, she looked nearly as good as new, and the boy had stopped worrying enough that he would answer everyone who kept asking where he'd been and what this food was.
They were all outraged that it had been Italian food, not good, honest Mexican food that saved her. But some of them were curious and asked to try the spaghetti and were quite impressed. They convinced their friends to try some too, and before long, nearly half the town learned to love spaghetti.
They reached out to the people of the New York town, humbly asking forgiveness and if perhaps they could have a new supply of spaghetti and meatballs and such. The people of that town, for their part, had fallen in love with the enchiladas made by the brother of the little girl (though they weren't crazy about the wizard's super spicy jalapenos) so they were willing to reconcile and even teach the New Mexico town how to make more yummy foods, like eggplant Parmesan and lasagna, if the New Mexico town would supply them with tortillas and taco sauce and queso and teach them to make burritos and taquiotos and such. So the two opposing towns became friends through the power of delicious food.
Meanwhile, the girl and the boy dated for a while and then got married. In their vows, the boy promised to make the girl spaghetti any time she asked, so long as they both lived. And they all lived happily ever after, except the sorcerer, who was so annoyed at how things worked out that he moved to California in search of the perfect avocado toast. 
The end.
I hope you enjoyed my little bit of fun. I should get back to regular posts, including Fight Song chapters, soon; the last few weeks have been pretty busy. Have a nice day!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Three Sleeping Beauties Blog Tour: Interview With Rachel Roden

Hey'a, all! Welcome back to another day of the Three Sleeping Beauties Blog Tour! Today, I'm doing another interview, this time with Rachel Roden, author of Rosette Thornbriar. But before we get started on that, a little about Rachel and her book:

About the Book
Once upon a time, way out west...
Back when they were young'uns, Fleur Guardstone proposed to Rosette Thornbriar with a cigar band ring. However, not long after, she disappeared back into the forest and hadn't been heard from since. However, when Fleur hears reports of smoke coming from that woods, he's determined to find out if it is, indeed, his dear Rosette. If he can get past all of the briars.

Find Rosette Thornbriar on: Amazon || Goodreads

About the Author
Rachel Roden is a natural story teller, capable of weaving the most hilarious of fairy tales. She fell in love with the Lone Ranger in her teens, but ended up with a basketball referee instead. Together, she and the Ref homeschool their four children in the Piney Woods of East Texas, as well as any other odd kid who ends up in their house. She might also be the sole human who still uses math after college.

You can connect with Rachel on her blog, twitter, and Pinterest.

And now for the interview!

Hi, Rachel! Welcome to the blog! To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself? Who you are, hobbies, favorite books (other than your own), anything else you'd like to share?

Let's see, well, first, I'm the mother to the famous author, Kendra E. Ardnek.  ::wink:: ...  after that, I'm a little dull.  I'm also the mother to 3 others, two of whom are still shorter than I am.   I've got a whole "Meet Us" on my homeschooling blog. Hobbies?  I read in the few spare minutes I have each week.  But I can polish a 300 page book off in under 4.5 hours. I collect sheep.  I teach 4 kids in homeschool and sometimes create my own curriculum from a mash up of other curriculum, books, youtube videos, and such.   Do I even have hobbies anymore? I collect lamb pictures (because there is no more room on my shelves for more stuffies or figurines). And I collect fancy pens and pencils.  I have drawers full of them. Lately, I've been drooling over these ...  ....  amazing!!! But they are in Australia. Anything else interesting? Well, I do have a degree in Math!

Favorite books? I answered this for somebody else, so I'll give you a different answer. Just depends on my mood. Currently, I'm into Historical Fiction. But the book I'm reading on my Kindle is a high action fantasy mystic kind of a ninja on steroids type story, Warriors of the Way or similar - 5 books.  I've always gone for high action movies and books. But I mostly stick to the fantasy and Sci-Fi.  LOVED the Dune Series, and I loved the Norby books, I think by Isaac Asimov and would love to get my hands on them again. A better question, what do I dislike reading? I don't like murder or mystery, horror, crime or law. Surprising for someone who likes action to NOT like suspense I suppose. I try to not read anything morally objectionable, but when you devour books like I do, sometimes you end up in one by accident. I'm also not a fan of books written in the here and now in our world, unless there is some weirdness to it. I read to escape into other worlds mostly. BUT the two authors I love the most, Tolkien and Dickens.

Rosette Thornbriar is also your debut in the writing world. Can you share a little bit about what led to this moment and how you decided that this was the story with which to introduce yourself?

It's not exactly my debut. Kendra published me as Rachel Lamb in one of her other books. When she redoes it, I'll be Rachel Roden instead. I've actually been writing novel's since I was in Jr. High.  Kendra keeps threatening to publish Rosanna. Not that it's bad, but I was just a kid! I've been a story teller as long as I can remember, but it was only recently that I discovered it might be a unique talent.  As the oldest, I was frequently left in charge of 4 to 6 (more if we were babysitting) kids younger than myself, in days when there was not always TV to amuse a child and sometimes it was just too hot outside to actually play. Reading to them was not always effective, so I took to making up huge parts of the story to go with the pictures. When in high school, I started teaching preschoolers, and soon found myself in charge of teaching the lesson. Looking back, I must have been pretty good getting the kids involved with the Cubbie puppet and the lessons, because they always listened.  Teaching school, the principal commented several times that he'd never heard anyone tell a story to explain Algebra. I dabbled with writing when I had time, poetry and novels and short stories.  I even took a class in College!   But eventually life got in the way. And now I've got this 22 year old kid who did so much of what I wanted to do - publish a book! And now she's managed to get me to sit down and write an entire story for her.

In your story, you put a Western twist on a classic fairy tale. Can you tell us about how you came up with this idea?

Would you believe it was a silly fluke of an idea to cheer up Vannan about 2 years ago, while eating supper and cleaning up the kitchen. We do a lot of brainstorming in the kitchen, or on walks. But the ideas would not leave me along .... so I wrote a Cinderella story, and half of a Frog Prince story. I'm actually quite fond of western prairie books, the whole "going west" part of history.

Ok, we've had several big, tough questions, so how about something a little more fun? If you could spend a day with one of your characters in his or her world and time, who would you pick and what would you do?

Shasta maybe? You have no idea how many half done works I've got tucked into corners. But Shasta is the main character in the story.   Kendra published the first chapter a few years ago on her blog. I like her because the world was uniquely me and my imagination. I'm not giving you the title, because Kendra has changed it a few times. I wrote this when she was a baby. Or maybe the Sci-fi I started to write about the same time. That is another one that I might finish someday.

What was the hardest part of writing this story? The best part?

Hardest part is finding time. Best part is losing myself in the process.

On that topic, do you get attacked by writer's block often? If so, how do you deal with it?

Writer's block is not a big problem for me. The teacher I had in college told me that I had so many ideas in my head from the millions of books that I've read, that there is always something rising to the surface to give me an idea. BUT if I'm having trouble working out a scene or idea, my best tactic is to walk or talk or both.

Besides the obvious, what books (or movies or such; we all know that stories and inspiration come in many forms) influenced Rosette Thornbriar?

Influenced it?  I don't know. Vannan in her cowgirl hat bopping around the library is sort of the image of one of my characters. The woods is from a movie I watched as a child, it just floated into view, and I don't know where or when I obtained the picture. Fleur climbing trees is from a picture of a girl climbing the mast of a boat and looking out over the ocean. There is a bit of Little House on the Prairie in there, a dozen or so borrowed ideas from books and stories and history about moving West.  And I borrowed heavily from the Cinderella book that I had written 2 years ago. Oh yes, and there was a Festus in some show I use to watch, and he's the guy I pictured when I wrote about the peddler.

Do you listen to music when you write? Or are you more of a silent writer?

White noise. Sometimes music. But usually it's white noise that I write too, otherwise the tinnitus bothers me. My brain spends too much time listening if I put on music. During the 70's they mostly used classical music when they made the cartoon shows - like Fantasia. And too many of them have moving pictures when I listen to the music now.

Finally, can you share anything about your future writing plans? I happen to know you're the mother of another amazing writer; are you two possibly considering a collaboration at some point?

Well, we collaborate a lot. I've been the source of her "worst ideas" and "best ideas" and many of those are still in notebooks. She wants me to keep churning out my westerns. And it is likely as I get the 7 and 12 year old grown up a bit more, that she'll get me to sit down and write more. I would love to publish a whole stack of kids books. My westerns will make great bedtime stories... I can see every page of the picture book that should go with this! Someday maybe. My plan right now is to teach the younger siblings, and school started on July 31 for this year. We start early so we can have 6 weeks off at Christmas. Besides, who wants to be outside when it's topping 100 nearly every day?

Thank you for hosting the questions for us.   Have a great day!

Thanks for being here, Rachel! I can't wait to read your book!

Don't forget, both giveaways that I mentioned on Thursday are still running! So if you haven't entered the Rafflecopter giveaway, make sure you do that, and keep commenting on the other blog stops for a chance to pre-read The Seven Drawers and Cindy Ellen!  

Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

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