Thursday, May 30, 2019

May 2019 Doings!

Ahhhh. Finally a quiet month. It's so nice to be back home, away from classes and constant stress — even if I do miss my friends. That said, a quiet month doesn't mean there are no Doings at all, so let's get started!


  • The last major round of edits on Mechanical Heart is done! Finally!
  • Ok, technically, I haven't been working on it that long; only since February. But the fact that I've been working on only Mechanical Heart edits, and the fact that I didn't have much of a break between the different rounds of edits, makes it feel like much longer. Also, I've literally doubled the length of the story every time I edit it. I'm pretty sure this is the opposite of what most people do. Oh well.
  • I still have another round or two of mid-level to minor adjustments to get through (the exact level depends on what Kendra has to say about it in her critique). But those won't be nearly as bad, and with luck, they won't take me more than a week or two.
  • (Hopefully, those won't be famous last words . . .)


  • So, here's what happened: I got home from college. I went to the library. And then I devoured all the books because that's what happens when I have plenty of time and limited energy (which, naturally, I decrease further by staying up late to read . . . ).
  • Most of these were new-to-me reads, but some were rereads. I revisited Illusionarium around the middle of the month because I was losing motivation for Mechanical Heart and hoped that reading some good steampunk would help. (It did, thankfully.) I'm also rereading the Auralia's Colors series because a friend mentioned them and I wanted to see if they were as good as I remembered. I think the first book suffers on the reread; the author leaves too much fuzziness in an effort to create the magic the book requires. The rest of the series, however, improves, especially Cyndere's Midnight. My appreciation for Jordam has significantly increased, a fact I attribute in no small part to The Wingfeather Saga and the Tales of Goldstone Wood.
  • Moving on to the really good new books: the Strange the Dreamer duology was pretty amazing. I wasn't sure about it at the start, but once we moved on from Lazlo's horrible childhood and introduced Sairi and her family . . . yes. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone just because it is rather dark at times and involves some adult topics, but overall, I can see why people like these so much. Tess of the Road was another one covering difficult or mature topics, and I quite enjoyed it as well, even though I'd heard bad reviews from a lot of people. (My take: just go in expecting a slow plot, no dragons, and lots of emphasis on internal conflict and you'll be fine.) And, of course, the one Discworld book that I read, The Last Hero, was pretty fun. It wasn't my favorite in the series, but it's the best of the Rincewind books.
  • I also read a few anthologies! One, To Hold the Bridge, is by Garth Nix; I mostly read it because it had an Abhorsen short story in it. That short story was decent; the rest was highly meh. A Blink of the Screen, an anthology of Terry Pratchett's short fiction, was better — though, oddly, I enjoyed a lot of the non-Discworld stories better than the Discworld ones. And Neil Gaiman's M is for Magic was the best of the three; his short fiction reminds me of Diana Wynne Jones's in a lot of ways.
  • Most of the other books that I haven't mentioned yet were good, but not amazing, but I will mention the two really disappointing ones. Etiquette and Espionage was, like Illusionarium, supposed to motivate me to keep working on Mechanical Heart. Unfortunately, the trope it's founded on (the magical boarding school) is hit or miss for me, and this one missed more than it hit. I definitely will not be continuing the series. And I picked up An Abundance of Katherines because I liked Turtles All the Way Down and thought that I ought to read more than one John Green book in my lifetime . . . and then I put the book down again after the third chapter. Sorry, John Green, but Colin is a whiney child, and like the Katherines who dumped him, I have better things to do with my life than wait around for him to get a grip on his.


  • So, yes. I saw Avengers: Endgame, and it did not kill me and I was very impressed with it. Go read my post on the topic if you want to know more about how I feel. I don't feel like recapping everything I already said more than I just did. Also, if you've watched Endgame since I wrote that post, go comment on my spoiler post and let me know what you thought! (Or just tell me in the comments of this post, if you put a spoiler warning on there.)
  • Also, going to movie theaters by yourself is highly underrated. I wish I'd realized this sooner; if I had, I would've been caught up on the MCU much faster, and I might've seen other recent movies as well. The only downside is that you don't have someone to talk to in-person right after you leave the movie . . . but I'd rather wait to discuss it until I've thought over my impressions more anyway.
  • In addition to seeing Endgame, I watched Mary Poppins Returns with my family and very much enjoyed it. Is it the same as the original? Not at all. It's a different, slightly darker story in a different, slightly darker era. Is it better than the original? Probably not. But is it worse? I don't think so. Honestly, I like the one just as much as the other. And while I will acknowledge that some of Emily Blunt's mannerisms and phrases seemed just the slightest touch off or forced, she stayed true to Mary's overall personality, and I appreciate that.
  • Other than that, I've mostly been watching a lot of Hogan's Heroes with my family, which I'm thoroughly enjoying. I really like that show, ok? I know it's not perfect, but it's fun, and I love a good guile hero — of which Hogan definitely is one. And it's one of the fairly rare humorous shows that produces next to no secondhand embarrassment, so that's a relief.


  • Honestly, there's not a lot to record in this section that I haven't written about already. I'm getting back into the routine of work, writing, and reading. I've been able to do some design stuff, both for professional and personal reasons, and that's been pretty fun. I'm trying to figure out how to get myself to draw more. (Also, I bought watercolor pencils because they were on clearance for really cheap, but I then realized that you need watercolor paper in order to use watercolor pencils, so now I have to buy that . . . gah.)
  • Oh! We went to the Memorial Day concert and fireworks at Wolftrap, which is a National Park/performing arts center about half an hour from my house. The concert was excellent, and I may look up a few of the pieces to see if there are good versions available online. And the fireworks were fabulous, even though our seat was partially under a tree that seemed like it might block our view. On that topic, fireworks are amazing and I forgot how gorgeous they could be, especially when they're arranged with music.
  • Um . . . I made food! That's something! One dish was just pasta and sausage in the skillet, which turned out well. The other was enchiladas, which also turned out well, but I had to make enchilada sauce, which almost burned and smelled terrible, but it's fine. It tasted good in the end. I did intend to cook more than I have, but there's still quite a bit of summer left.

June Plans!

  • I'm hoping that June will be more of the same as May: quiet and mostly occupied with writing, work, and reading. It may not be exciting, but it's pleasant.
  • Obviously, I'll be working on the next few rounds of Mechanical Heart edits just as soon as I get the final critique back from Kendra and have time to think through them. I'll also start working on the interior design and formatting for the Kindle and paperback versions . . . yay. I should probably try to work out how to do the paperback formatting in InDesign; maybe that'll be less aggravating than Word.
  • Also, there will be a cover reveal soon! Keep your eyes open for news about that.
  • Before I go back to work on Mechanical Heart (and possibly in the midst of that), I'm going to work on the D&D campaign I hope to run next semester. I'm hoping to have enough weekly adventures planned to carry me through the first month or two at least, if not more. I do have several of those adventures semi-prepared already, but I need to solidify worldbuilding stuff and figure out how those episodes might fit into the larger plot. (And, yeah, I'm doing this a bit out of order, but it'll work.)
  • And, of course, I need to start figuring out stuff in earnest for Camp NaNoWriMo in July . . . but that'll be more towards the end of the month. (Fingers crossed that I'll have all my Mechanical Heart edits done by then, 'cause that would be amazing.)
  • Outside of writing, it'll mostly be business as usual: work, reading, and so on. I'm knitting a cloak, so that's fun, and I have one or two other craft projects I'd like to work on if I have time. (Fun fact: you can 3D print a sword. And one of my local libraries has a 3D printer that patrons can use. Do you see where I'm going with this?) I may see a movie or two, which is a little out of the ordinary, but hopefully won't be much longer.
  • There's also a pretty good chance that my family will be going to at least one amusement park, so WHOO! Now that I know I actually like wooden roller coasters, I'm super excited. (We were supposed to go to Hershey Park yesterday, actually, but we got rained out. Here's hoping that doesn't happen again.)
How was your May? What are your plans for June? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, May 24, 2019

Books I've Lost Interest In

As a general rule, I don't like to leave things unfinished — especially not when the thing in question is a book or a series of books. Once I've gotten semi-attached to a group of characters or a world or especially an author, not finishing seems disloyal. And that means that I've read more than a few books that I'd lost interest in, but which I felt I ought to read because I'd enjoyed other books in that series or by that author. Lately, however, I've become more willing to drop books I don't really want to read, no matter how much I loved connected books. In this Friday 5s post, I'm going to talk about some of those books and why I lost interest.

Books I've Lost Interest In

  1. Most of the Ranger's Apprentice spinoffs (John Flanagan). I loved the Ranger's Apprentice series, ok? I was genuinely sad when the series ended, and I enjoyed the first several Brotherband Chronicles because they gave me more of what I'd enjoyed so much. Lately, however, my desire to read the spinoffs has decreased dramatically for various reasons. The Royal Ranger spinoffs were a no-go from the start; Maddie annoys me far too much. Brotherband was great at first, but I'm not invested enough in the Herons to keep reading when there are so many other books I'm genuinely excited about. The one exception is the Early Years series (because young Halt), but even that is iffy.
  2. The Dragonwatch series (Brandon Mull). Theoretically, I should be fairly excited for this series, a spinoff of the Fablehaven books. After all, I enjoyed Fablehaven, and this series focuses on dragons! Just my cup of tea, right? Wrong. I enjoyed Fablehaven because of the people, places, and events that surrounded the main characters, but Dragonwatch seems more limited in scope. Also, while I could mostly buy the main characters' role in the original series, I have grown highly suspicious of books that give very young teenagers the kinds of power that a lot of adults would find overwhelming and expect me to think it's a good idea. So, yeah; the only way I'm reading this book is if my sister (who really liked it) does an astonishingly good job convincing me that it's worth my time.
  3. The Dalemark Quartet (Diana Wynne Jones). I feel like a horrible person for having this on the list, especially since I count Diana Wynne Jones as one of my favorite authors. The thing is, while I really want to be invested in the conflict in Dalemark, and while I want to care about the characters, I just . . . don't. I made it through the first two books only because I was too stubborn to put them down. Maybe someday I'll give the series another chance and understand why so many people love it so much . . . but not today
  4. The Alcatraz series (Brandon Sanderson). Speaking of favorite authors: this is literally the only thing Brandon Sanderson has ever written that I don't love. Part of it's the premise (unpopular opinion: secret worlds hidden within our own are only really interesting when the inhabitants don't act as if they're superior simply because they happened to be born in the right place); part of it's the character (unpopular opinion: Alcatraz is intensely annoying). And, having made it through three books with those problems only intensifying, I have officially given up. If the rest of the world likes the series, well, they can keep it. I'll just hang out over here and reread Oathbringer or something.
  5. The Fairyland series (Catherynne M. Valente). This series reads something like a darker Alice in Wonderland crossed with a classic portal fantasy adventure, with hints of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. As you might expect from a combination like that, the books are fairly good . . . but, unfortunately, the blend's not quite right, and so the whole thing comes off (to me) vaguely depressing. So, yeah. Not finishing the series; I have other books I'd rather read.
What about you? What books or series have you set aside because you lost interest? Are you familiar with any of the books on my list? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, May 17, 2019

My Thoughts on Avengers: Endgame (No Spoilers!)

Usually, I'm the last one to see any given MCU film — mostly because I insist on waiting until it comes out on DVD and I can get it at the library. But, having more or less caught up on the MCU for once in my life, and having found a theater with $5 tickets on Tuesdays, I decided to make an exception for once and go see Endgame in theaters. And oh stars was it worth it!

Endgame is best watched unspoiled (or at least minimally spoiled), so I'm going to do my best to keep this post spoiler-free. That said, I have a lot of thoughts which require giving spoilers, so I wrote up second post on my other blog, where I can keep the content behind a password. The password is yes_spoilers; have fun. Please keep any spoilery comments over there as well, or at least mark them if you post them in the comments of this post. Thanks!

My Non-Spoilery Endgame Thoughts

  1. First up, that was way better than Infinity War. Anyone who read my Doings! post last week or who's friends with me on Facebook or Letterboxd knows that I was not crazy about Infinity War; it suffered from too many characters and too many characters making stupid decisions and also too much Thanos being melodramatic. Endgame suffered from none of these problems, and most of the people were actually, like . . . reasonably sensible? And communicated semi-well? And Thanos actually acted like an interesting villain? So that was nice. The beginning dragged a bit, but overall, it was good.
  2. It did not murder my heart as badly as I thought it would. Not that most movies hurt that much; I tend to get over any case of movie-related feels much faster than most fangirls do. (I'm pretty sure it's because I then go and fill myself up with other stories that give me new feels . . . and also I'm an ISTP.) But I kind of thought Endgame was going to hurt a lot more than it did. That's not to say that it doesn't have sad or touching moments or that those moments aren't handled well; it does, and they are. But it does mean that the sadness was balanced out by other emotions.
  3. It does a good job of wrapping up the character arcs for most of the original Avengers. I don't think this is actually a spoiler; the entire internet knows that this is the end of an era, that certain actors aren't signed on for more films, so on. And I think that it's a good ending or wrap-up point for most of the original Avengers — two in particular — but there were others who I'm not so happy about. I'll say outright that I don't think this movie treated Thor as well as it could have or should have. And there's another Avenger — I won't say who, because spoilers — whose arc I'm kind of happy with and kind of not happy with and I don't know what to do with it.
  4. The ladies of Marvel sometimes got the short end of the stick here; I'll be honest. But Captain Marvel and Black Widow (the two females with the most screentime) are both pretty fabulous, and almost all the major Marvel women get their moments of awesome in the climax. There were two in particular that made me almost fistpump in the theater, but . . . those are spoilers. Surprise, surprise.
  5. Speaking of which, the final battle? STORMING EPIC. Like, Lord of the Rings-level epic, and that's not something I typically say about superhero movies. I could probably make a whole post just out of my favorite parts of that battle. And the resolution to the battle was just . . . I don't even know the right word. It was really satisfying and fitting and it worked, ok? It made sense.
So, yeah. That's about as much as I can say without giving away spoilers (remember: check out my spoiler post for those!). All in all: definitely worth watching in theaters, even if you're not usually a theater person . . .  but don't go if you haven't seen at least a good chunk of the previous Marvel movies. It won't be as meaningful.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go write up that spoiler post I mentioned . . . and look up what other movies are releasing this summer that I might want to see in theaters now that I've realized that going by yourself can be pretty storming fun. (I'm almost certainly going to see Spider-Man: Far From Home, assuming I can get ahold of Homecoming before then. It'll be great.) But what about you? What did you think of Endgame (remember, mark spoilers or put them in the other post's comments!)? Do you have any recommendations for movies I should see this summer?

Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, May 10, 2019

April 2019 Doings! (Plus the first third of May . . . oops)

Behold! I return!

So, yeah. April was super busy and I basically did all the things and then semi-collapsed. But I'm back now! And in case you think I was joking about "all the things", I have a Doings! post to show just how crazy this month was.


  • Obviously, the main writing thing of the month (and the reason I haven't posted but once since my last Doings!) was Camp NaNoWriMo. For those who missed it, I was continuing my rewrite/edit of Mechanical Heart: adding new scenes and reworking existing ones to be consistent with the changes I'm making based on beta comments.
  • Because of the work I was doing and because of class projects, this was kind of a weird month. I'd bounce between way ahead of the game and barely keeping up depending on whether I was writing new words or just editing existing stuff. Plus, some days I couldn't get anything done at all. It was a mess.
  • (I also learned that writing while other people are watching a TV show in the same room just doesn't work. Inevitably, I end up watching the show as well, no matter what it is. It's a problem.)
  • In the end, I did win Camp NaNoWriMo, but it was the closest win I've ever had. I validated my final wordcount maybe twenty minutes before midnight on April 30. (It might've been closer to ten 'til, honestly.) Mechanical Heart isn't done with this round of edits either — but I've outlined the rest of the book and written short chapter summaries, so maybe it'll go faster?
  • (At least once I get back my motivation . . . after Camp NaNoWriMo, I sort of switched over all my energy to finishing up final projects, and I've struggled to get back into writing ever since. So that's a problem.)


Image of the books I read this month: the Abhorsen trilogy; A Branch of a Silver, a Branch of Gold; Murder on the Orient Express; Between Jobs; and A Darker Shade of Magic
  • As you can see, April was a much lighter reading month than average — and technically, I only read three of these in April; the other two I read since getting home from college.
  • Murder on the Orient Express was my first read of the month. It was a solid book, as one would expect given how famous it is. I don't think it's my favorite mystery novel I've ever read, but I'm certainly interested to read more by Christie. And I didn't guess the killer before the end of the book, so that's . . . probably good?
  • A Darker Shade of Magic was, as the name suggests, super dark. C.G. Drews yells about this series semi-frequently, so I thought I'd give it a try. Ultimately, I'm not sure if I'll continue the series; the world is interesting, but I'm not super invested in the characters, and did I mention that the book was really, really dark and bloody? So, yeah. I'm glad I read it, but I don't think I'll repeat the experience.
  • Between Jobs, on the other hand, is one I've been looking forward to for a while. It's part of W.R. Gingell's series of urban fantasy mysteries, and, unsurprisingly, I highly enjoyed it. I think I like her Two Monarchies books a bit better, but on the other hand, relatively clean urban fantasy is hard to find. I definitely intend to pick up the rest of the series quite soon!
  • Moving on: A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold was a reread, obviously. I'm hoping to reread all of the Tales of Goldstone Wood sometime in the relatively near future, but didn't really intend to start here — it was just kind of a whim. I definitely like it better this time than I did the first time. The ending makes much more sense and is more powerful, and the whole book is just better when you know what's up and know what to look for.
  • Finally, we have the Abhorsen Chronicles, which are technically three books, but I have them all together in one volume. I acquired the book ages ago, after a blogger friend recommended Lirael as one of her favorite books. That was years ago, though, around the time that Anne Elisabeth Stengl first started the Five Something Somethings anthologies, and it took me this long to read it. I enjoyed the trilogy, though I think Sabriel is my favorite of the books. They're a bit dark, but they're exciting and have a cool magic system and a nice interplay of fantasy and technology.


  • Oh stars. There's SO MUCH here compared to usual.
  • For most of the month, I watched relatively little. Between Camp NaNoWriMo and college, I didn't have a lot of time for Netflix, YouTube, or so forth. The exception was one random evening on which my roommate and I both magically acquired some extra time and decided that I needed to be introduced to Leverage. So, we watched my roommate's favorite episode: a flashback episode about the crew all trying to steal the same thing before they were a crew. I think that format made it easier for me to keep up with what was going on (since I didn't really know the characters — other than Elliot, who I only know about because both my roommate and Deborah O'Carroll love him). I really enjoyed the characters and the show concept, though, so I'm hoping to watch more of the show sometime.
  • Then Easter break hit, and suddenly I was watching ALL THE THINGS.
  • For one thing, of course, I watched all the stuff that was distracting me from writing: specifically, four episodes of Love It Or List It (a househunting/remodeling show; fairly interesting but frustrating because the families literally never did what I thought they should do), a food truck cooking competition whose name I didn't catch (again, interesting, but I probably wouldn't watch it deliberately), and quite a lot of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. CSI, for the record, was pretty cool. Definitely for a more mature audience, but interesting nonetheless. (Also, the last episode I watched ended on a cliffhanger and it's not ok and I need the rest of the story, storm it all!)
  • Finally, and most importantly: I'm almost caught up on the MCU because between Easter break and finals week, I watched three whole Marvel movies!
  • The best of these movies was undoubtedly Captain Marvel, which my roommate, her family, and I saw in theaters on the Monday after Easter. I'm not going to claim that Captain Marvel is the best MCU movie ever, but it's still really good and highly satisfying. It hit all the right beats, had all the right elements, twisted some tropes and played others perfectly straight . . . and, ok, the final battle can't top the climax of Thor: Ragnarok, but it was still pretty awesome.
  • The same day, we watched Ant-Man and the Wasp, which was great in terms of plot, cool tech, and awesome action, but not so great in terms of characters who I actually connected with, cared about, and wasn't annoyed with. (At some point, I need to compare my reaction to Ant-Man and the Wasp with my reaction to Guardians of the Galaxy 1 & 2. Technically, I should be annoyed with Guardians for the same reason I am with Ant-Man and the Wasp: the cast as a whole shows the fundamental selfishness of humanity very clearly, and a significant part of the main cast is populated by idiots. And yet I love Guardians and am just meh about Ant-Man and the Wasp, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the music, or maybe it's the fact that I enjoy Peter Quill's brand of idiocy more than Scott Lang's.)
  • Anyway. Getting back on track: since I was so close to being caught up, during finals week, I decided to bite the bullet and take out the MCU movie I was most dreading: Infinity War. So, Wednesday, my roommate and I had our end-of-semester movie night, and watched that . . . and, honestly, I'm not overwhelmed with either awe or sadness. The movie did the best it could with the number of characters it had to include, and it had some fairly cool action scenes, a few nice pieces of humor, and some pretty touching moments. But it was still kind of all over the place, I'm annoyed with several characters, and Thanos just is not an interesting villain in my opinion. So, yeah. On the upside, now I can go see Endgame in theaters and actually watch an MCU movie before I get all the spoilers for once.


  • Oh stars. There's so much. I don't know how I had time for all the stuff I did, what with Camp NaNoWriMo, but somehow it all happened.
  • The first weekend of April was, of course, my hall's D&D one-shot. (Storms, that feels like so long ago.) Overall, I think it was successful. Everyone seemed to have fun, people liked my storyline and concept reasonably well, and a lot of the girls said they'd be interested in playing again in a longer-term campaign sometime. We had a few hiccups at the beginning due to the fact that six players are definitely too many people, especially when you're a first-time GM. However, things calmed down after a while, people got the hang of what they were doing, and we had some pretty fun moments.
  • (Also: you know the joke about how D&D players will make any encounter a combat encounter? My group was the exact opposite. At the very beginning, I had set up a mini-combat encounter with an angry bear to give everyone a feel for how combat works. Instead, it turned into a mini therapy section as our Ranger talked the bear down, asked why it was mad and who hurt it, and got information about the cave below. This was a trend through most of the game. Giant snake? Chat with it and ask if it knows anything about the treasure. Flying snakes? Try to befriend and/or tame them. It turned out well, though, because I'd set up a dragon at the end, and I wanted them to talk instead of attacking, and they did. It was lovely.)
  • The next weekend was the PWID spring trip, in which a group of people from my major headed down to Nashville to explore, visit companies, and generally have a good time. Also, I spent most of the trip with most of my really good friends in the major, which was fabulous.
    • We left on Thursday morning. I was able to write a lot in the car on the way down, which was good. After we arrived at the hotel and got settled in, most of us decided to head to a coffee shop to eat and do homework. However, only one of the three cars actually ended up at the right coffee shop. One of the others ended up at a completely different homestyle-type restaurant. My group found ourselves at a different coffee shop by the same name — which, honestly, was fine. We worked on stuff, ate crepes, and chatted; it was a good time. (We also established what type of animal each person would be; apparently, I'm either a dragon or an armadillo. I mean, I'll take either one.)
    • Friday was our most structured day. We visited two different marketing companies, one really big but also really new, the other older but smaller. Both were pretty cool and informative. Then, eight of us headed to the big event of the day: a Grey Havens concert at Trevecca University! That was super fun! They played several of my favorites of their songs, and when I got their autographs afterward, I actually managed to ask an intelligent question instead of just rambling about how cool they are. So that was pretty awesome.
    • Saturday we got a late start and headed into Nashville for a day that was pretty much defined by food. We walked around part of downtown and visited a Soda Parlor owned by a YouTuber who I didn't recognize. We had coffee with a published author who graduated from Cedarville (pretty cool, though I don't read her books and probably won't change that) and visited a used/vintage bookstore that definitely had the vibe of a magical shop. Then we went to a board game cafe, which I loved. We played Apples to Apples and Codenames and drank hot apple, and I bought a new d20 (which has served me quite well since).
    • Finally, on Sunday, we headed home. We actually got back in time for me to video chat with my family and get to D&D on time, so that was awesome. Overall, it was a great trip.
  • Moving on: the weekend after that was Easter break. My roommate and I were able to leave a day early and stay a day late, since neither of us had Tuesday/Thursday classes. We mostly just chilled at her house and then at her grandfather's farmhouse (other than the time we went to see Captain Marvel). I wrote, we ate lots of good food, and we played board and card games that I thoroughly enjoyed. (Mysterium is a very fun game that I would absolutely play again given the opportunity.) Overall, it was a nice chance to rest and recharge.
  • Finally, the last weekend in April featured Elliv and the TDK Formal. This was my first year going to Elliv (which is basically Cedarville's big end-of-year music thing . . . other people are better at explaining it than me). It was pretty cool, but I would've enjoyed it more if I actually knew more of the songs. I don't know if I'll go next year or not; it depends on what my friends are doing.
  • The TDK Formal, on the other hand, was awesome. Everyone pretty much agreed that this year's formal was the best one yet, which makes me happy. I was in charge of the decorations, which turned out really nice — though I can't take all the credit; I had ideas and other people helped execute them. But the food was great, the hosts did a great job running it, and everyone seemed to have fun.
  • Outside of all that, of course, I had classwork. Two of my final projects hit significant snags in the last week of April and the first week of May, which was very frustrating. We managed to work most of it out in time to submit things, though. So that's a relief. Better yet, I think I'm done or almost done with classes involving group work. Thank goodness! (Don't get me wrong; I know group work is important, and I see the value in it. But being in a group project, even when I like my group members, can be exhausting.) On the upside, my Web Design final project, essay, and exam all went well, and I'm unreasonably happy with how my website turned out.
  • That covers pretty much all the major stuff this past month. There were a few other small events — CU Lead Kickstart, a morning spent in Cedarville, a DTR show, and so forth — but this post is long enough as it is. And now I'm back home, and all is well. Or, as well as it can be, anyway.

May Plans!

  • Obviously, May is almost half gone at this point, so I don't have a ton of stuff to put here. But there is some. A lot of this is whole-summer plans, but oh well.
  • Most importantly, I need to finish up Mechanical Heart as soon as I possibly can. I plan to join in the Go Teen Writers 100 for 100 challenge, and I want enough space between finishing Mechanical Heart and starting the challenge that I can take a bit of a mental break. (That said, knowing my luck, I'll probably finish up on May 19th, then have to start something new on the 20th.)
  • Second most importantly, I'm working again this summer. I'll be interning again with the same company as last summer, which means I get to work from home on design and writing stuff. But since I don't have a required number of hours I have to get this time around, things should be more chill. (That's not to say that I won't work as much as I can, only that I don't have to stress if I fail to get a certain number of hours of work in a day.)
  • Outside of those two things, I want to take a sizable chunk out of both my TBR list and my to-watch list, though that's definitely a whole-summer aim. I'm planning to start Star Trek: The Next Generation to see if I like it more than the original series. (I am, of course, also going to watch from the original series; I'd like to get through most of the first season, at least.) I also want to watch Endgame in theaters — that will probably happen this coming week, if it happens at all — and finally see the last few MCU movies that I haven't watched, namely Homecoming and Iron Man 3.
  • My last significant plan for the summer: cook more. I know how to cook, but I definitely need more practice, and there are certain things that I've never done and want to try at least once before I'm living on my own. I mean, yes, I have another year at least before I reach that point, but it's not like I can practice much at college, and right now the things I'm best at are enchiladas and chili. So, yeah. That's hopefully going to happen.
How was your April? What are your plans for May? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, May 3, 2019

No Doings; Have a Snippet!

Hey'a, y'all. First thing: I won Camp NaNoWriMo! I validated my count at, like, twenty minutes to midnight, but it's fine. Second, due to a busier-than-expected finals week and a more-tired-than-expected me, I will be pushing the April Doings! post until next Friday. (Hey, I've put Doings! posts up later . . .) To make up for this, I'm sharing some snippets from Mechanical Heart. Enjoy!
First: in which Breen is every sleep-deprived college student (but with higher stakes):
Why had she stayed awake so late last night? Why had she not thought to keep track of the time? Why had she not insisted on finishing the project another night? I’m such a fool . . .
Second: in which people bond over food (which I'm pretty sure is going to be a trademark of my books):
While he did, Breen pulled open the bundle. Here were a half-dozen small loaves of bread — not the course, hard, dark variety she was used to, but light, golden-crusted rounds, some speckled with what looked like cranberries. Here was a packet of large tea leaves, which Breen smelled eagerly — even their faint scent was delicious — and a jar full of coffee, at which Breen let out an audible cry of delight. Here were round, red-cheeked apples, and a small wheel of hard, white cheese, and a metal tin of porridge oats and another small jar of — oh, delight! Honey! And at the very bottom of the bundle, she found a small box wrapped in gold paper, tied with a white ribbon, and marked with a stamp that read Düetschin Confectionary.
She glanced up at Josiah. “Chocolates,” he said, before she could say anything. “That’s how Grace usually likes me to apologize for things. As for the rest — I wasn’t sure what you’d want, so I guessed. I hope it’s all right.”
Third: in which Josiah talks policy and ethics with another senator:
“Good things indeed.” Josiah leaned forward slightly, tilting his head. “Yet you’re still concerned.”
“Of course I am. Everything has a cost, your highness. In blood alchemy, that cost is blood.” Aaronson raised an eyebrow. “My question is, who’s paying it?”
There you have it. Pulling snippets for this was harder than I thought; everything is potentially spoilery. Hope you enjoyed. If not, I apologize.
Have a lovely day!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)