Monday, December 31, 2018

November + December 2018 Doings!

So, yeah, I missed the November Doings! post. I blame finals or something. And now I get to sum up two months in one post at the busiest time of year. Why do I do this to myself? Oh well.


  • Mechanical Heart basically consumed my life for the last two months, as far as writing goes. In my second rewrite, I planned to rearrange a few scenes, give Josiah's sister a slightly bigger roll, and expand a few scenes and elements so things would flow more slowly. The story would expand by maybe five chapters maximum, and I'd be done in about a month.
  • Obviously, though, that didn't happen! Instead, I doubled the length of the story, added a bunch of new scenes and possibly a new subplot (I can't remember for sure how much of any subplot was in the original), and spent waaaay too much time making it all happen.
  • For what it's worth, I do think the story is much better for the changes. I just I wish I'd been able to finish a little faster, especially because I still need to write several of my Actual Writing Job short stories. (Thankfully, I already have those plotted, so all I have to do is actually write them.)
  • Oh, and I wrote three different holiday specials: "A Symphony of Thanks" and "The Promise Star," both of which I've posted on my blog already, and a New Year's special that will go up tonight at midnight. I enjoyed writing all of them; it's nice to work on something so short and contained after spending so much time on longer pieces. I think the New Year's special was my favorite, but that's mostly because I find the concept pretty amusing.


  • November and December were actually relatively good reading months, despite (or perhaps because of) how busy I was. I actually ended up doing a lot of rereading, which is kind of a rarity. Around mid-November, I reread the Raven Cycle — don't ask me why, but I certainly don't regret my decision. There was a lot more of certain content than I remembered — or maybe I just ignored it before. I don't know. I still enjoyed the series a lot, though. Then, once I got back home on Christmas break, I reread all of Donita K. Paul's DragonKeeper and Chiril books. I used to love the series, but I hadn't read them in years, and I wanted to know how well they'd hold up. Thankfully, I actually enjoyed most of them more now than I remembered, especially the last two DragonKeeper Chronicles.
  • On the downside, I want a minor dragon more than ever now. But I'm used to that.
  • I did read quite a few new books, though! The best of these were Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, which I talked about in my End-of-Year Book Freakout last Friday. Close behind was the Five Poisoned Apples collection. It's an excellent set of short stories, each better than the last. I think "Red as Blood" was my favorite, with "Fairest One" and "Snowbird and the Red Shoes" close seconds. And, to be honest, I can see now why Blood in the Snow didn't make it into the collection — it focuses on a slightly different aspect of the tale than most of these stories do, and it shares some significant elements with another story that absolutely deserves to be in there. That's not to say that Blood in the Snow is worse or better than any of the stories, just that it wouldn't have fit as well with them.
  • My third-favorite read of these past two months was Skyward, Brandon Sanderson's new YA release. I will admit that I wasn't as thrilled with it as I hoped to be. Sanderson came through on what he promised: a strong and stubborn heroine, a fascinating sentient spaceship, epic space battles, and a pretty cool space academy. Plus, he gave us some pretty great female friendships — always a plus. But a few elements of the story fell a little flat, and certain characters and elements seemed a little more expected than you'd typically find in a Sanderson novel.
  • We round out the month with Dagger's Sleep and Christmas in Talesend. The latter is a fun collection of Afterverse Christmas stories that I read on Christmas Eve and thoroughly enjoyed. The former is a mixed bag of a Sleeping Beauty retelling by Tricia Mingerink. The storyline and concept were great, and I liked most of the characters . . . but not all of them. Plus, the worldbuilding bugged me a lot. Still a good read, but not a great one.


  • I actually watched a pretty wide variety of stuff these last two months: some Doctor Who, a few episodes of Miraculous Ladybug, the last of the first arc in Sword Art Online, and a lot of random Studio C, Door Monster, and It's a Southern Thing. I enjoyed most of it, and I'm quite glad that I discovered the Door Monster YouTube channel. They make mostly geeky D&D and video game-based sketches and they're just really fun.
  • On a less cheerful note, unless anyone can convince me otherwise, I think I might be giving up on Doctor Who. I managed another few episodes — the one with Dickens and the ghosts, the first Dalek episode, and Satellite 5 — but I keep getting frustrated with the show, the characters, and the storylines. If I'm giving up too soon, please tell me, but otherwise? I have other things I'd rather watch.
  • Also: PART SIX OF JOURNEY TO THE WEST HAPPENED! I've basically been waiting for part six for literal months. (Was it worth the wait? Yes. 500%. And you should go watch the whole series; you can find the playlist here.)
  • I also learned that, if you're going to start an anime, you should sure there's an English version available (or at least English subtitles). On a completely unrelated note, Re:Creators on Amazon Video doesn't meet either of those qualifications.
  • Most of what I've watched recently, of course, has been Christmas movies: some I watch every year (like White Christmas and Grinch) and some that I haven't watched in years: the Barbie Nutcracker and the first two VeggieTales Christmas videos. (What? I had knitting to do, and I needed something short.) Let me say, the VeggieTales ones are seriously underrated and a lot more fun than the last time I remember watching them. I think I may need to add them to my list of movies I watch every Christmas. We'll see.


  • I literally remember next to nothing about November. I think I spent most of the month in a state of perpetual NaNo-and-school-induced stress. Um . . . I drew dice and pencils a lot for 2D Design. That happened.
  • I went to the Ayo dance org's fall showcase midway through November. That was fun, though I enjoyed last year's show better. This year's show involved a lot of swing dance, which was cool, but I didn't enjoy the songs nearly as much.
  • Also in November was the art and design org's Clay Night, an event in which all the people not in the ceramics class got to head down to the ceramics lab and learn how to do hand-thrown and wheel-made clay creations. I had mixed results with most of my creations, and I struggled more with the wheel than I thought I would . . . but I still want to do it again. (I really wish I had the time and money to try stuff like this out for more than just a night — during this semester, I've had the chance to experiment with a lot of media, but I didn't have enough time with any of them to decide to turn them into a long-term hobby. Not that I have a lot of money for them even if I did want to do them long-term . . .)
  • And there were the PWID internship reports, of course. This year, I was giving a report, not just listening, which made the event mildly more interesting but also much more stressful. I don't think I sounded half as professional as I wanted to, and the fact that I initially went to the wrong building didn't help — PWID events are usually in the same room as our classes are, but this year we had so many people that we had to use a room in the BTS. I think it turned out all right, though.
  • Then, in December, everything was either CHRISTMAS or FINALS. I honestly think they both caused me about the same amount of stress. I only had one actual final, but I had really big final projects in all my other classes: a fifty-minute group presentation, a website redesign and rewrite (thankfully, I was only really responsible for the rewrite; my partners handled the design), two infographics, a logo, and eight art pieces on the theme of pencilness.
  • Once again, I covered Campus Christmas Open Dorms for the college paper — but this time I both took photos and wrote an article. That was an interesting adventure. I was really impressed with my hall's setup as well. We decided to theme our hall after Clue and had a whole interactive mystery set up. I was pulled in to help write the storyline and dialogue, which turned out a bit more stressful than I expected (mostly because the other writer didn't get me the information I needed until a day or two before the actual event . . . gah!). Still, it worked out, and I think it's the best Campus Christmas my hall has had in the time I've been there.
  • I also spent a lot of time knitting and crocheting, making Christmas presents for my hallmates. I'm not going to say what they were because some of them read this blog and left before I could give them their gifts . . . but I am happy with how they turned out in the end.
  • And my roommate and I made gingerbread! Which turned out super yummy but also sparked a discussion about the uses of molasses that left me astonished. (I maintain that it is delicious on biscuits at breakfast. She's never heard of such a thing and wouldn't try it if you paid her. But it's fine. Part of the problem is that the only molasses she knows is baking molasses, not sorghum molasses, which is lighter, sweeter, and far superior.)
  • Of course, I had Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, which means I got to spend a lot of time at home, enjoying the company of my family. I introduced them to Codenames, we ate much good food, and I very much appreciated not having to go to class. Plus I had time to do a lot of reading, which makes me happy.
  • And we went to Mount Vernon, which I haven't been to since I was, like . . . six-ish. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the actual house, which was disappointing, but the tour was still very interesting. I think it'll be helpful for story research as well — even without taking pictures, the memory is a good reference for how locations in one of my book series might look.
  • Then we had Christmas itself! My grandpa came down for the holiday, and that meant that my mom made ladylocks (otherwise known as an absolutely delicious type of pastry cookie). He arrived Sunday, and on Monday we went to our church's Christmas Eve service, which was insanely crowded — in fact, we intended to go at 2:00, but even though we arrived on time, we couldn't find seats! We ended up coming back at 3:15 to get seats for the 4:00 service. It was worth the wait, though: very well-presented and moving.
  • And now we just have by Bible Study's New Year's Eve party tonight, which is always a good time, if sometimes a little overwhelming.

January Plans!

  • I head back to college in about a week and I still don't have my books. I'm more than a little stressed about this. But I'm excited about my classes next semester! I have two honors seminars on interesting topics, Tech Tools 1 (a class on different graphic design programs — all of which I know how to use to some degree already, but that means I can really dig into the projects), Instructional Design 2 (which should hopefully confirm whether or not instructional design is a good career option for me), Web Design (which is apparently online instead of in the classroom; I'm nervous), and User Experience (which I'm also stressed about but is with a professor I like, so it's fine). Also, I have no actual classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is going to be super weird but also should give me plenty of time to work on projects.
  • I'm also excited to get back to D&D. My character just leveled up again at the end of last semester, which means I get to choose her Sacred Oath — basically, it's character development and new special powers. And I'm enjoying the group I'm in, even though it's a little more combat-focused than I expected. (Honestly, that's probably for the best, since I'm still a little awkward about talking in character.) Also, I now only need one more level before I get to start dual-wielding, and that's exciting.
  • As far as writing goes, I'll probably talk about my plans a little more when I do my goals post for the year (probably coming on Friday). In the short term, though, my main project is the remainder of my Actual Writing Job short stories, which need to be written, edited, and submitted very soon. After that, I'll get back to longer projects.
  • Other than that, I don't have a lot of plans for this month. Classes and orgs will likely proceed as usual. In my spare time, I'll read, write, and hang out with my roommate and hallmates as much as possible. I'd like to get to the gym more often and do more watching of shows with my roommate, but we'll see how those work out.
So, that's my last two months. What about you? What have you been up to? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)   


  1. Sounds like you had a full year! I'm happy that Red as Blood was your favorite in the collection, Maddie is a talented writer, and it was my personal favorite too!

    I would come to Doctor's Who defense, but it isn't everyone's thing. The story lines and budget do get better in the later seasons, but this year it's gone downhill a bit.

    Happy New Years! Hope you have a great one.

    1. Heh. This was just the last two months, darling. But yes, very full.

      Yeah . . . the problem is, I really WANT it to be my thing, and logically, it SHOULD be my thing. I'm just frustrated.

      Thanks! Same to you!

  2. Wait, do you watch the Journey to the West videos by Overly Sarcastic Productions? Is that what this is? If so, Way-to-Go, fellow fan! ^_^

    1. YES!!!! That is what this is! I mean, I love all of Red's stuff on OSP, but especially Journey to the West. I'm so glad to find someone else who loves OSP too!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.