Saturday, August 4, 2018

July 2018 Doings!

So, I'm currently very confused, because I felt like I literally just did one of these? But, no, it actually has been a month. What the actual pumpernickel. Time is weird. And y'all sort of get this rant every few months, but  . . . yeah. Sorry. Sorry-ish, anyway. I also feel like this month has been more defined by what I didn't do than what I did, but oh well. Let's get to it anyway.


  • Yup, Camp NaNoWriMo as usual! This month's project was a first edit/rewrite of Mechanical Heart, my steampunk Rapunzel retelling. My goal was 20,000 words edited, which I knew would get me most of the way through the novella. I hit that literally two days before the event ended, so . . . yeah. I think that's the closest I've cut a NaNo win in a while.
  • Snippets, 'cause I can. First, one from Breen's first chapter:
The clock struck two just as she reached the level she’d been working on. She couldn’t hear the strike anymore. She couldn’t hear much of anything anymore. But the sound made the floor vibrate beneath her feet, and all the gems on the gears flashed like sudden stars, and Breen stood still and savored the moment.
  • Next, Josiah and his friend Luis (who honestly doesn't get half as much page time as I'd like him to, but I haven't figured out how to work him in more yet):
“No. And do you know why?” Josiah started pacing again, hands behind his back. “Because, despite the fact that the towers are government property, and the royal family is theoretically still a part of the government, I’m as unable to enter the clock tower as this young woman should have been! Ten separate people I asked! The ten most likely to have keys! And what did they say?”
Luis sighed and tried to turn one of the gears on the device. When it wouldn’t turn, he picked up his screwdriver again, this time to loosen some screws. “Since you’re ranting in my workshop, I imagine they said no.”
  • That basically describes Josiah's relationship with a lot of people, for the record. He rants and paces. They work and let him talk until he hits a climax or expects a response. Everyone's happy.
  • Finally, a piece from Josiah and Breen's first meeting:
The young man grabbed the edge of the floor just in time as the lift fell away beneath him. Breen scrambled back and grabbed a wrench from her toolbelt. She lifted it uncertainly, staring at the hole in the floor as the man struggled to pull himself up. Never before had there been an intruder in her tower— especially not a male one.
  • (And, if you can't tell . . . yes, their first meeting does involve Breen almost dropping Josiah down a lift shaft and then threatening him with a wrench. It's lovely. I think it is, anyway.)
  • In non-NaNo-news, I completed what I hope will be my final edit on Blood in the Snow. Of course, I hoped the last edit would be final too, but this one has higher chances of being actually final. And now I need to start sorting out other things. Which I probably should've been sorting out all month, but I've been busy.
  • Also, one of the writing jobs I applied to back in February-ish got back to me with an assignment! It's realistic fiction, which isn't my favorite, but I like most of my storyline ideas, and it pays pretty well. So, yeah, I'm happy about that.


  • Though I was pretty busy for most of July, I still managed to do a decent bit of reading, including some books I was really looking forward to. I feel like it was a bit more of a mixed bag than past months have been? But in general, I'm pleased with how the month turned out.
  • I read an uncommon number of short stories this month: three anthologies (Tales from Earthsea, Fantastic Creatures, and Mythical Doorways) and one standalone (Feather and Nettle). Of those, Fantastic Creatures was probably my favorite, with Mythical Doorways a close second. Both were free Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, so I'm pretty happy about that. Tales from Earthsea didn't impress me quite as much as I would've liked, though it was still a good book in general.
  • On that topic, I'm officially finished with the Earthsea Cycle. The Other Wind was a satisfying ending and a good book, though I don't know if I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Most of it was solid, but there were certain themes and ideas that seem . . . off? I'm going to have to think about them more before I go recommending the series to everyone.
  • The Last Magician was another book I've been looking forward to for a while, but I'm sad to say that it wasn't as good as I hoped. All the elements of good were there: heists, conspiracy, time-manipulation powers, interesting characters, tragic backstories . . . but the character dynamics frustrated me to no end, and I didn't understand most of the magic system until the last quarter of the book or later. I think I've been spoiled by Mistborn, honestly, because that's what I kept mentally comparing it to.
  • On a happier note, Gemina was an excellent sequel to Illuminae: same excellent writing style, but more action-y; more great characters; fabulous snark; awesome twists . . . yeah. My only complaints are that the author killed off a certain character and sank one of my ships. (I'm low-key still upset about that, because I don't ship the remaining couple half as much as I did the original pairing. But it's fine.)
  • Also, The Master Magician was a wonderful conclusion to Ceony's story (even if she does get away with far too much at times). And the ending? Absolutely awesome. Then I read The Plastic Magicianwhich is arguably even better. Alvie is an interesting lead, she's less prone to getting into trouble than Ceony (she has a more practical head on her shoulders, to start with), and she's surprisingly relatable. 10/10, would befriend given the chance.
  • Other fun thing: I finally reorganized my bookshelves, so now I have all my classics and nonfiction on one bookshelf, all my epic fantasy on another bookshelf (Bryan Davis and Brandon Sanderson each have a shelf mostly to themselves now! With room for all the new books they're going to write!), and a third bookshelf full of miscellaneous fantasy (and one shelf with historical, contemporary, and dystopian fiction). This makes me very happy.

Watching & Listening!

  • I almost didn't watch anything this month. But then my family decided to watch The Parent Trap, because they wanted to watch a movie and I wanted to edit and then go to bed, so they were looking for something I didn't like. That backfired quite a bit, since The Parent Trap used to be one of my favorite movies, and I still like it quite a bit. But I enjoyed the movie, and I managed to get my editing in for the day anyway (though I'm pretty sure I stayed up way too late in the process), so it worked out.
  • I also haven't listened to more podcasts, unfortunately. They take too much attention for me to listen to them while I'm working, and I haven't been walking as much as I should've been.
  • I haven listened to Owl City's Cinematic album a ridiculous number of times, though, as well as Twenty One Pilots' "Nico and the Niners". So there's that? And I recently discovered Rachel Rose Mitchell, who does creepy-ish fairy tale/folk tale-inspired music, and I don't love all her songs, but I'm low-key obsessed with a few of them. This is the one that hooked me:

  • Yeah. I really enjoy stories that deal with what life is like after you get back from "Wonderland" and the lingering desire to return. (I mean, I wrote a whole novel centered on that topic, so . . .) If you like that song, I also recommend "Something You Don't Know", "Glow in the Dark", and "The Ticketman," two of which are fascinating and emotional story fodder and one of which is just gleefully creepy.
  • (I blame Elsewhere University for my current semi-obsession with mildly creepy folk tale-based everything, for the record. That and the number of times I read the Spiderwick Chronicles when I was young.)


  • Mostly the month has just been work as usual. I'm nearly done with my internship requirements for it to count academically, so that's good. What's better is that my employer invited me to keep working part-time during the school year, which is like . . . yes please. I really enjoy the work I'm doing, and I'd love to keep doing it, especially if that also means I have a slightly more regular source of income than book reviews for the college newspaper.
  • Seriously, I'm still low-key in awe that I actually get to do some of this stuff and get paid for it. The writing, not so much; I've always planned to get people to pay me for that, in some form or another. But design? That was my hobby until shortly before college, something I did just for fun, not because I thought I'd make a career out of it. And now someone's paying me to sit down with Illustrator and make things, which is still fun. I mean, there's more to my job than that, and there are still bad days sometimes, but in general? I really, really like it. Honestly, sometimes it's almost as good as getting paid to read.
  • Anyway, yeah. I'm excited about that. I am having to rework stuff with my schedule, though, since I seem to have ended up with a lot of commitments and opportunities this semester that I want to take advantage of. I emailed my advisor a couple weeks ago, asking if he would approve a particular schedule change, and he still hasn't gotten back to me, so . . . That's stressful.
  • Another benefit of the internship: I actually had money to buy a tablet! I've been thinking about getting one for several months now, since so many of my classes involve doing stuff on the computer, but don't involve enough of that stuff to justify dragging my laptop around all day. And then Best Buy had a sale, so . . .
  • This is the Perpendicularity (named for the connections between worlds in the Cosmere universe). I actually went all-out and got the version with the S-Pen and a case with a keyboard, so it's almost like a mini-laptop, which is super nice. Most of my family members have iPads, so I did very briefly consider getting one of those. But the iPad in the size I want was twice as much as even the nicest Android tablet I found and the accessories for that tablet. Also, I like being different. That . . . may or may not have also been a significant factor in my decision.
  • Much like last month, I spent a decent portion of July minus a sister, this time because she was volunteering at White Sulphur Springs. We drove up to visit her midway through her time there, which was nice (and which gave me a chance to do some solid editing on Blood in the Snow). Honestly, not having her home isn't half as weird as I thought it would be. So that's helpful.
  • I also discovered that the church we're going to now has a college-age youth group type thing, which I've been going to. I think I might be slowly making friends? Everyone's very friendly, and I feel like people would notice if I was gone (which is more than I can say for some youth groups I've gone to), but it'll take time to find a place when so many of the people already know each other pretty well. Still, it's nice to hang out with people my own age; that's one of the only things I don't like about being home.

August Plans!

  • Of course, next month (technically this month), I'll have plenty of time to spend with people my age, because it's back to college midway through! I'm excited; I'm already friends with half my hall, I have some pretty interesting classes (even if I'm stressed about rearranging my schedule), and I'm going to be the secretary for the Honors club. So . . . yeah. I'm going to be busy, with classes and an internship and friends and an official position and my writing and everything else, but it should be good.
  • Before then, however, as I mentioned before, I need to start looking into the best ways to format both print and eBooks . . . I've been informed that KDP has a guide or guidelines or something, so I'm planning to start there, but I want to know how to do more than upload a Word Doc to KDP. (And you never know; if I like designing book layouts as much as I enjoy designing other graphics and print materials, maybe someone will pay me to do that too?)
  • As far as writing goes, my plan is to finish up edits on Mechanical Heart, write my first two paid stories, and then spend the rest of the month taking a rest and just working on Dust of Silver enough to keep up with 100-4-100. Come September, or maybe sooner, I'll start another edit on Mechanical Heart, so I want a bit of a break between the two of those.
How was your July? What plans do you have for August? Please tell me in the comments!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)


  1. Wow, it looks like you had a filled month!! Congrats on your position! It's so awesome that you can get paid to do what you love!

    1. I knowwww! It's so awesome!
      Thanks for commenting!


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