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)


  1. Fun fact: the Gray Havens attended the church I spent my preteen and teen years at, and I worked in the nursery with them a few times, lol.

    Also, may I ask who the published author from Cedarville is? You can e-mail me if you'd prefer. ;)

    1. Also, I wish you the best of luck with your cooking goals! That's something I've been working on this past year too, since I've been out on my own mostly. I've turned to CrockPot meals mostly but I do a few things on the stove, and I'm in love with a recipe for salmon and broccoli cooked on a sheet pan.

    2. WHAT THAT'S SO COOL! I'm jealous, haha.

      The author is Donna VanLiere. She wrote The Christmas Shoes and some other Christmas-themed books, plus some biographies.

      Thanks! CrockPots are FABULOUS; I have a recipe for CrockPot chili that I absolutely love, plus there are some other CrockPot dishes that I also enjoy. Pasta dishes in the skillet are pretty fun too, though, and I made enchiladas for Mother's Day. Roasted salmon and broccoli sounds pretty tasty, though I'm not a fan of salmon. (If you ever feel like sharing the recipe, feel free, haha.)

      Thanks for stopping by!


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