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)


  1. A Renaissance Festival?!? THAT SOUNDS SO COOL. And it also looks like you had an amazingly eventful month with lots of travel there.๐Ÿ˜ฑ Also yay that you started Harry Potter! I also wasn't allowed as a kid which I find hilarious because I grew up on Narnia and Lord of the Rings. ๐Ÿ˜‚ But I loved it in my 20s! (Also I hope your characters hold in while you've left them in the middle of that climax!๐Ÿ˜‚)

    1. It was super cool! You should totally go to one sometime! And same here- though, in all fairness, the feeling and magic of HP are indeed different from Narnia or LOTR. (And the characters are no longer in the middle of the climax, thankfully, but they're still having to hold on just before the conclusion . . . I need to just finish this thing.)
      Thanks for stopping by!


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