Friday, August 2, 2019

August 2019 Doings!

Welp. That's another month gone. For once, I was aware of the time passing . . . if only because I was painfully aware of how much longer I had to work on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel at times. Speaking of which, let's jump into the Doings!


  • Obviously, the main event of the month was Camp NaNoWriMo. My 12 Dancing Princesses/Hades and Persephone retelling is turning out significantly longer than I anticipated, which is . . . I don't know how I feel about it, honestly. I do know that I forgot how talkative some of these characters are.
  • I'm not going to lie; a lot of this month was a struggle. I had a week where I barely had time to write, and another few weeks after that where I didn't want to write or do much of anything creatively productive. I'm pretty sure I know why — because most of the books at the top of my TBR were Asian fantasy, which I didn't want to read while I was still starting my new book for fear that they'd influence the setting or story more than intended. But that meant I basically didn't read anything, which meant that once my well of inspiration started getting low, it never got refilled. Lesson learned, I guess.
  • I did manage to finish the month, though, after a weekend trip that involved a lot of writing time in the car and after binge-re-reading Today Nothing Happened, a journal webcomic that's about as far in genre from my WIP as possible. My final count for the month was 20,140 words. So that's great.
  • And, in case anyone was curious: no, the book doesn't have an official title yet — particularly since my comment in my last Doings post about how the term Earth might not exist in this world sparked a discussion about why not and a revelation that I got mixed up on my etymology. (That is to say, the Earth is named after the dirt, not the other way around.) So now I'm trying to decide between two names:
    • Blood in the Earth. (Fits really well thematically with the book's setting and certain plot elements, but I'm not sure if people would see the term "Earth" and think our planet first, rather than dirt or soil — which would be a problem; while the world of the book resembles Earth strongly, it is not actually Earth.)
    • Blood in the Soil. (This avoids the confusion about Earth and fits most of the same themes that Blood in the Earth does, though it has somewhat different connotations. My main concerns with this one: for one thing, I'm not sure it would lock me into "Blood in the [insert s-word] for future titles, and for another, it kind of sounds like a Southern gothic novel to me? Though I could be wrong; I don't read Southern gothic.)
    • There were almost three names here, since I was still kinda considering Blood in the Night, but then I realized that it sounds like a vampire novel. So . . . that's out.
  • I also worked a bit on my D&D campaign during some of the points where I didn't want to work on my novel. (You would think that would be just as draining, but it kind of depends which episode I'm working on.) I currently have a bunch of ideas for different episodes and challenges, and they're all kind of right around level 3 or level 4, so . . . good thing characters tend to stay there for a while. I am seriously excited for this campaign, though, even if it's a long way from done.


  • So . . . you know how basically tried to devour the library the last few months?
  • That did not happen this month.
  • Basically the only books I read were the other Five Golden Braids books — all of which are pretty great, by the way. But each of them gets a list-post next week in the blog tour, so I'll skip talking about them now.


  • The most exciting thing I watched all month: How To Train Your Dragon 3! In the theater! One of our local theaters was showing it again on special, so my sister, my mom, and my sister's friend and her family all went to see it. I liked it on the whole, aside from some intended-as-comedic elements that I thought didn't need to be there, but I also have mixed emotions about the ending.
  • I mean, on one hand, it was a great ending — thematically fitting and all that. It definitely paid off all the character and plot conflict that we'd had over the rest of the movie.
  • But on the other hand, I am sad about certain things because those things involved goodbyes and it was not OK.
  • Also, this may have been the prettiest of the HTTYD movies, but don't quote me on that.
  • The second-most exciting thing I watched all month: I finally saw Spider-Man: Homecoming. Like most Marvel movies involving Tony Stark, it was a good movie, but could have been better if certain people actually bothered to communicate. Seriously, that could have eliminated a significant number of the more frustrating plot problems. And it's not like the pieces weren't already in place! And I'm going to rant about how I would have written the movie differently if I were in control — it's been out long enough that everyone probably has either seen it or knows all the spoilers. If you don't fit in one of those categories and you care about staying that way, just skip past the whole indented section.
    • So, a lot of the conflict comes from the fact that after Germany, Tony is kind of ignoring Peter — or, not necessarily ignoring, but at least not responding. And he gives no explanation for why that we're aware of. Bad call. We'll give Tony a pass initially, 'cause Steve kind of did a number of him in Civil War. But once he starts pulling himself back together and saw that Peter was still all excited to be a superhero and an Avenger, what should or could he have done?
    • Simple. Contacted Peter, maybe even invited him to Avengers/Stark Tower and basically said "Look, kid, you did great in Germany, you're excited, all that is awesome. But you're not quite ready to officially join the Avengers yet. So, the next several months are training time. Keep practicing with the new suit, keep proving what you can do at street level, and when you're ready, you can go on another mission with me."
    • Even better: Tony also uses this as an opportunity to set up a regular "check-in" time when Peter can talk to either him or (more likely) Happy and let them know how stuff is going, ask questions, that sort of thing. Y'know. An actual mentorship. That would've been great, but not absolutely essential.
    • Possibly Tony also uses this opportunity to start whatever training program Karen referenced in the film for helping Peter learn how to use the suit's advanced features (though that would eliminate some of the tension and comedic elements later on).
    • (Possible counterargument to this part of the plan: Tony is a busy man. He has bigger things to worry about than a kid superhero. Counter-counterargument: the film makes it pretty clear that Tony was aware of what Peter was doing anyway, and also, taking responsibility for your choices is a thing.)
    • So. Now Peter's not as frustrated by the fact that he's not doing "real" superhero stuff because at least he knows he hasn't been forgotten about. He's still hero-ing every spare minute, probably, and so the film's plot goes more or less as it would anyway up through the first encounter with Vulture up through the bit where Peter finds out where the weapons deal is happening and tells Happy about it.
    • At that point, instead of Tony still pretending he's ignoring Peter and secretly calling in the feds, he tells Peter "Great work, kid; I've called in the feds and we'll take it from here." Peter probably protests that he wants to still be involved. Possibly he shows up anyway and still messes stuff up somehow, but in that case, it's his own storming fault and Tony is honestly justified in taking the suit away.
    • Or, possibly, it doesn't even get as far as the weapons deal. Possibly Peter instead tells Tony about tracking the Vulture and his crew to Maryland, Tony says "Great; thanks; we'll take it from here," and Peter interferes then and gets the suit taken away then — though, obviously, that would have made the Washington Monument scene go very differently.
    • After this, the film continues basically like it did anyway, and the climax goes down pretty much just like it did in the movie, 'cause that was honestly really great.
    • And after the climax, Tony still invites Peter to be an Avenger, and Peter probably still says "Thanks, but I think I need more training." Or possibly it's more low-key; maybe Tony shows up with Peter's new suit in hand and is like "Hey, you did great. You're still technically in training, 'cause you're a minor and probably shouldn't be doing full-time heroing, but you get to go on missions with me sometimes now. Speaking of which, suit up." That would lose the impact of Peter's choice, but I think it would still work thematically.
    • Aaaaand there you go. Spider-Man: Homecoming as rewritten by me.
  • Ok, for those of you who didn't want to read spoilers: those are over now. MOVING ON.
  • In other movie-watching news: I'm trying to figure out how I feel about western movies.
  • See, my dad really likes western movies (specifically John Wayne western movies), and I like the idea of westerns (to the degree that I had a whole subplot in one novel that was basically "how close can I get to a western in a medieval-ish fantasy setting?"). But the only western movie I'd watched until recently was the original The Magnificent Seven, which is a good movie with great character development . . . culminating in the death of a lot of the characters I really liked.
  • Needless to say, this did not make me feel terribly inclined to watch more westerns.
  • However, my dad recently bought a collection of old John Wayne movies and wanted to watch some of them. And I was feeling bad about having judged an entire genre off of one work, so I said I would watch a couple of John Wayne movies before I went back to Cedarville. And that is how I ended up watching Blue Steel and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and why I'm now trying to figure out how I feel about the genre as a whole.
  • (Blue Steel, for the record, was intensely unimpressive, but it was also obviously a low-quality movie with equally low-quality writing. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, on the other hand, was very well-written, very well-acted, and very well-staged. The scriptwriters and directors did an excellent job of showing you that even minor characters had lives and dreams outside of the plot, the conflict was pretty well set up . . . but certain things didn't happen like I expected them to, and I'm not sure if I like how they happened instead. Also, Tom Doniphon is problematic, but he reminds me of certain of my characters, so now I don't know how I feel about him or them. It's a problem.)
  • Oh, and I watched more Star Trek. I continue to prefer The Next Generation to the Original Series, but I don't think that surprises anyone.


  • I MADE PECAN PIE! Obviously this is the most important thing that happened all month.
  • (It's not. But it was delicious and I'm very happy about how well it turned out.)
  • Anyway. Even aside from Camp NaNoWriMo, July was pretty busy, especially the first half of the month. That's not a bad thing, but it doesn't help my ability to write.
  • Independence Day was fun, but low-key: we went over to a friend's house, enjoyed some really great barbeque, and watched the DC and New York fireworks from the comfort of the friend's living room. (It had been threatening rain all day, plus no one was really that excited about going somewhere to sit in a buggy field to watch things explode, so we decided it was better not to risk anything.)
  • Next on the lineup: Cow Appreciation Day! Yes, we did go to Chick-Fil-A for all three meals. But, look, if they're going to give me a free chicken biscuit or BBQ chicken sandwich or whatever and all I have to do is show up wearing a cow shirt, I will absolutely take that deal. (I mean, technically I got a breakfast burrito instead of a chicken biscuit, but my point remains.) This was also the day we went to see HTTYD3, so it was a good day all 'round, if not a terribly productive one.
  • And shortly after that, my grandpa came to visit (as he usually does this time of year), so that was fun. That said, we didn't do a ton while he was here, since he's having hip problems. We did go to 7/11 on 7/11 day for free slurpees, though. And then, oddly enough, we then visited him a week or so after he left so that he and my dad could make my sister a desk hutch for Cedarville. (Why did we not just make it here? Basically, Grandpa is better set up for woodworking projects than we are, and we had to be in Pennsylvania anyway to drop my sister off for the camp she was volunteering at, so . . . why not?)
  • So, yeah, that's pretty much all the event-y stuff. In non-event-y stuff: my sword is progressing fairly well. All the pieces are printed and sanded, so now I just have to epoxy them all together and paint the whole thing. I'm also toying with the idea of making some kind of sheath for it, but I don't have the skills to make a model for 3D printing . . . anyone have any suggestions?
  • And, yeah, as you probably guessed from the start of this section, I've been baking! So far, I've made several loaves of sourdough bread (I still can't get it shaped right, though I'm making progress on the density problem), pretzels (twice! they were delicious), pancakes (also delicious), and pizza. I'm unreasonably proud of the pizza.
  • (Also, I play Hearthstone on and off, but July was more an "on" month than an "off" one because they were running a special event and I absolutely loved their special twist on the game for the first two weeks of the month. I really wish there was a way I could play those characters outside the event, 'cause they made those particular classes two to five times more interesting than they had been. Well, three of the five did. The other two, not so much. Needless to say, this did not help with Camp NaNoWriMo, especially since the most interesting week of the special event coincided with the week in which I felt least inspired.)

August Plans!

  • Mechanical Heart releases August 7! That's less than a week away! I am quite excited but also a bit stressed — more about the tour than the actual release. It should be good, though.
  • On that note: you get a blog post every day next week on both my blogs. Different blog posts, even. On Light and Shadows, I'll be posting five reasons why you should read each of the Golden Braids books. Meanwhile, Dreams and Dragons will be hosting an assortment of interviews.
  • And after that, I will probably take a week or two off of blogging, both because I'll be tired from the blog tour and because I'll be headed back to Cedarville the week after my book releases!
  • This semester should be pretty solid on the whole. I don't have any classes that I'm dreading, though I am nervous about some of my graphic design classes — I've heard that the professor is tough. But, hey, I get to learn how to make fonts, so that's exciting. Plus, I get to take a creative nonfiction class, which was one of the creative writing courses I was most disappointed out missing back when I decided not to do a creative writing minor.
  • Besides that, August will mostly be occupied with trying to finish up projects: the draft of Blood in the [Something], the first month or two of my D&D campaign, my sword, my knitted cloak (or, part of it, anyway), a few other dorm items, and so on.
  • Also, I need to get back to the whole reading-all-the-books thing. And I have shows I want to watch.
  • So, yeah.
How was your July? What are your plans for August? Which title do you think sounds better, Blood in the Earth or Blood in the Soil? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)


  1. I'd also avoid Blood in the Earth if I were you because those words are SUPER popular for YA books right now, and Sarah J. Maas's adult debut is titled House of Earth and Blood. 😬


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