Friday, September 7, 2018

August 2018 Doings!

Hello, everyone! August has been over for a week now, so I think it's high time that I post my Doings! On a side note, do you like this format for my monthly update posts? Do you think there's a good balance of topics in here? Sometimes I feel like I'm sort of just talking into the void with these posts, and that's fine, but if there's a way I can improve, I'd like to do that.

Writing!

  • So, yes! If you missed it, I'm publishing Blood in the Snow as part of the Magic Mirrors group release! It comes out October 26, and I'm quite excited. Also nervous, because this is a big step, but mostly I'm excited.
  • The first half of the month, I kept busy finishing up Mechanical Heart. I had to change the ending pretty substantially in order to be satisfied with it, but I think I got it figured out. That's not to say that the rest of the story won't need another hefty rewrite in some areas, but it is what it is . . . at least it's on the computer now, which means it's easier to cut out certain bits and put in new scenes.
  • The other half of the month, I worked on two contemporary short stories for an Actual Writing Job. One is drafted and just needs to be edited. The other one . . . I've been working on it, but I'm struggling. I think I got the pacing wrong or something? It's going to need another serious rewrite.
  • Other than that, I spent a good bit of time working on formatting for Blood in the Snow, only to discover that InDesign doesn't work half as well for formatting eBooks as I expected. Honestly, I think I would've been just as well off to do it in Word, and I honestly might do that going forward . . . At least I have an idea what I'm doing for the paperback. That's something.

Reading!

  • GUYS. OBSIDIO. I HAVE NO WORDS.
  • I love it, ok? Abso-storming-lutely love it. I saw next to none of the plot twists coming. The characters were awesome as ever. The relationships were great. (I especially love Nik and Ella — we need more fabulous siblings — and how Isaac tries to parent everyone — spec fic needs more parentals like Isaac, ok?) The ending — THE ENDING. The ending was amazing. Waaaaay less depressing than I expected. And AIDAN . . . AIDAN is something. I still don't know how I feel about him, but he's a thing, and I think the author handled him well.
  • In other news, The Worth of a King is still amazing, and I love it, but if you were paying attention to the blog tour, you knew that already. I mean, I certainly screamed about it a lot. (Not enough. I cannot scream about Worth enough. Y'all should buy it and read it because it's amazing and Delaney is the actual best.)
  • Isle of Blood and Stone was another good book, though not as good as Obsidio and Worth. It was less high-seas adventure and more mystery than I expected, but y'know what? I'm definitely not complaining. I'm always down for a good fantasy-mystery, and this one totally qualified. The main character was ok; the side characters were fascinating; and the villain was . . . not who I expected. Let's say that. I have a couple small quibbles with the book (like one particular aspect of the ending), but I'm not complaining.
  • I read two anthologies this month. The first is Tales of Ever After; the second, The Madman of Elkriahl and Other Stories. Ever After is the latest Fellowship of Fantasy anthology and contained the usual mix of excellent, average, and meh. Madman is by my friend Emmarayn Redding and contains stories that feel very much like original Grimm fairy tales (including some darker elements). I'd recommend both books.
  • And, as you may notice, I've picked up the Harry Potter series again. I'm no longer reading it at the same time as the roomie (because that failed last year), so I should be able to make it through the rest of the series this semester, even with review books and everything else I need to do. Anyway, Goblet of Fire was definitely the best yet, and I enjoyed the storyline . . . even if certain things do make me sad.
  • And now for a few good-but-not-amazing books: The Spirit Well is the third Bright Empires book and involves my usual quibbles with the series . . . but did feature more Wilhemina than other books, which I was very happy about. Eliza and Her Monsters was good and featured delightful online friendships, but I found myself unable to understand why Eliza made the choices she did as often as not. And Spice Bringer was interesting, but I also had concerns about certain elements of the story and worldbuilding.

Watching & Listening

  • So, I finally finished the Grand Magic Games arc. Finally. Pro tip: don't stop an anime arc five episodes before it ends and then pick it up again two months later. You'll get there and realize that you remember unfortunately little about what happened last. And then the first two episodes you watch will be super depressing and you'll be internally screaming and your texts to your roommate will look something like this:
  • So, yeah. That happened. And no, I don't normally send my roommate long text strings like that, but this was a special circumstance. The rest of the arc was good, though! And now we're watching the Eclipse Spirits arc, and . . . well, at least I don't think it's another save-the-world story? It's more personal, which is nice. But I'm very upset about things all the same.
  • I also finally watched Thor: Ragnarok! It wasn't quite as amazing as the internet claimed, but it was still pretty awesome. I love a good sibling story, and Thor is probably one of the most sensible characterss in the MCU at the moment. So that was pleasant. Valkyrie's pretty fabulous too. And the final battle? 100% just as good as everyone on the internet said it was. I literally had to go look it up on YouTube about a week ago just so I could watch it again.
  • And my family watched Mary Poppins the weekend before I went back to Cedarville, and oh storms I had forgotten how much I enjoy that movie. Pretty sure it used to be my favorite Disney movie, or at least in my top five, and it's definitely back up there again. But it seems to have gone out of fashion with a lot of the internet since I never see anyone talking about it except for "Mary Poppins was secretly a _____" crossover headcanons with other fandoms. And that's sad, because, yes, it's a fun movie, but it also has a message that I think we need more than ever now, and I'm not talking about the bit about cheerfulness. Because, yes, Mary Poppins has a lot to say about that, but the truer message is the need for families to support each other, to come together. Mary Poppins didn't come to the Banks family just to sing a song or two about cheerfulness and ridiculous words and spoonfuls of sugar. She came to make the family start acting like a family; to cease being wrapped up in their own worlds and to recognize the need to help and support one another — all of them! And that's a message always worth hearing.
  • (And, as pointed out by the closest thing this movie has to an antagonist, "While stand the Banks of England, England stands. When fall the Banks of England, England falls!" True, he was talking about the institution, but it's by the Bankses, the ordinary families, that England and any other county stand or fall.)

Doings!

  • The main event of the month was the return to college, of course. I've been back since the 17th and so far everything's going smoothly. I'm enjoying most of my classes, even the ones I was stressed about. 2D Design doesn't involve nearly as much actual drawing as I expected — thank God for that! The first few projects are all fairly abstract, which I can definitely handle. I mean, the objective is to make things that don't look like real things. That's not a problem. The problem is when I have to draw realistic things.
  • I will admit that Instructional Design (the class I was most excited for before the start of the semester) isn't quite as awesome as I hoped. Right now, it's a lot of theory and process and not a lot of actual writing and design, so . . . yeah. That's a bit annoying. I'm trying to reserve judgment, though, because it's a two-part class, and I think that the stuff I'm excited for is mostly in the second half.
  • The rest of my classes are good, though!
  • I'm also the secretary for the Honors Org, which is interesting. So far, the most challenging thing has been figuring out lists on MailChimp (because I royally messed up several times and had to make whole new lists twice). But I have it worked out now! And the rest of what I do isn't terribly difficult; it's mostly emails and meeting notes and updating member lists, all of which are quite manageable.
  • And that's a good thing because Cedarville has gone from no creative orgs to all the creative orgs. And because none of them require dues or extremely consistent attendance, I've basically joined all of them. There's The Studio (art and design; their sketch nights are delightful), The Inklings (creative writing; no points for guessing where they got the name), Photography Club (I couldn't make it to the first meeting, but I'm excited!), and C3 (Creative, Collaborative, Community; basically an org for all creatives, no matter their medium). With those, Honors, my hall, and whatever exercise stuff I decide to do, my evenings are going to be pretty full . . . but I'm not complaining. Honors is the only org that I can't skip if necessary, and I think the other orgs are going to be super helpful for staying motivated with various creative things.
  • Oh, and there have been excursions! Our first full weekend back, my roommate, her parents, a few friends from the hall, and I all went to King's Island, where I discovered that wooden roller coasters are the actual best. (I went on three — three! And I would've gladly ridden any of them again.) I also went on my first looping/upside-down rollercoaster, the Firehawk, and have decided to never repeat the experience. I mean, in hindsight, I'm glad I did it the once, and I hope to draw on the experience as story research — the roller coaster's thing is that you're basically on your stomach, facing the ground, the whole time, so you feel like you're flying Superman-style — but it was also terrifying and I screamed the entire time. So, yeah.
  • My roommate, a different hall friend group, and I also went to the Rennaissance Faire again this year! Several of us actually dressed up, which was exciting. Unfortunately, it was a lot hotter and sunnier than last year, which meant we all kind of died of heatstroke and dehydration. (But we lived! So it's fine!) We ended up spending much more time watching shows and much less time wandering through shops than we did last year, which I was a little disappointed about? But it was still fun. And the joust was fabulous. (There was a female knight. She wasn't the knight for our side of the field, which meant I wasn't supposed to cheer for her, but I did anyway. And she won in the end, and I'm not disappointed.)
  • I'm sure that something happened before I went back to Cedarville? But honestly, I don't remember much about it. I know I got a hammock, which is exciting. And I did more work for my internship, which was interesting. And my family and I did stuff.
  • Also, I made myself a new skirt. It has pockets. I'm very happy about it, even though I haven't worn it yet. (It's too heavy for the current weather.)

September Plans!

  • Obviously, most of my time will be taken up by classes, because college. I'm still trying to really find the rhythm of classes and homework and social time and everything else. In particular, I'm trying to figure out which orgs and activities (other than TDK) I'm going to do regularly and which ones I'm doing irregularly and which ones I'm not doing at all. It's a challenge; everything sounds fun but I don't have time to do it all.
  • Besides that, I'm still working part-time at my internship, though that's slowed down quite a bit. I also plan to start reviewing books for the college newspaper again soon, which should be fun! I'm really excited for the lineup of books I have planned; I just hope that my editor likes my suggestions.
  • And, of course, most of my time will be taken up by working on formatting and Blood in the Snow and putting together all the extra, non-story bits that go into a book. I do hope to work a bit on Mechanical Heart as well, and, of course, I have my short stories for my writing job to edit. Those will be interesting . . . one of them definitely needs a serious rewrite before I can send it in.
  • So, yeah. That pretty much sums up my plans. September should be a quiet month, but hopefully it'll be a good one.
How was your August? Have any fun plans for September? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

7 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you have a bunch of creative outlets on campus. I wish I had tried harder to get some started at Asbury. For a liberal arts university, we weren't very...arts-focused. (Sure we had the annual film festival, but the fine arts and creative writing departments rarely got as much support/focus.)

    Everyone hates Goblet of Fire I feel like, but I really enjoy it! Glad you did too.

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    1. Aw, that's sad. But at least you probably have more now. We're only just getting them at Cedarville.

      Really? I've heard that the next one is the one everyone hates . . .

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    2. That one, too, to be honest, but whenever I say Goblet of Fire is in my top three, people are shocked.

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  2. So glad your self publishing! Seems like you had a full month.
    I've always wanted to go to a Rennaissance Faire, they seem like a lot of fun.

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    1. Yep, I definitely did! And they are; you should try to make it to one sometime!

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  3. Sounds like you've had a pretty great month, overall! Self-publishing, writing, a Renaissance faire! So much fun.

    You read my book! Yay! ^_^ I'm glad you liked it.

    I hope all goes well for you this semester, with both school and your publishing goals.

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