Friday, November 29, 2019

Books Full of Delicious: The Pie Book Tag!

Hey'a, everyone! It's the day after Thanksgiving, and we all know what that means — well, we know three things specifically. First: it's the first day on which you can reasonably play Christmas music in public. Second: it's the first day of holiday sales (or "sales," depending on where you shop). Third: it's the day on which, if you're lucky, you get to eat an abundance of leftover pie! I covered the first a couple years ago, and I'm taking care of the second over on Light and Shadows. That just leaves the third . . . which I'm taking care of with the Pie Book Tag, created by Emma over at Awkwordly Emma! I love this tag, since it basically combines two of my favorite things, and I'm super excited to go through it!

The Pie Book Tag!

Caramel Apple: A book that reminds you of fall!

For some reason, Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren feels like a very fall-ish book. Something about the emphasis on change and transition and tension between past and present and future makes me think autumn

 Pumpkin: A book with a great family (biological or found).

Here's a series that I don't talk about half as much as I used to (or as much as it deserves): The Legends of Karac Tor series by D. Barkley Briggs! This series starts strong with a pair of brothers who accidentally end up in another world, and eventually, their other brothers and father get in on the adventure as well. (And there's another significant family who comes up later, so that's great.) I really wish there were more books like this in many ways.


French Silk: A book that's easy to read or rich with descriptions.

Speaking of books I don't talk about as much as I used to: Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (aka one of my favorite books and authors of all time) fits perfectly in this category! The way Anne Elisabeth describes the characters and the setting is one of my favorite things — she has a knack for just the right words and language to make everything unfold gradually and beautifully and to let you know clearly what's going on while still keeping the mysterious fairyland feel.


Key Lime: A summery sweet book 

This was surprisingly hard to pick something for . . . but I think I have to go with The Paper Magician and its sequels. They're light and fun, with clever magic and fairly sweet (if occasionally frustrating) romance.


Blueberry-Peach: A book with a perfect pairing.

Shoot. This is hard to pick. Ummmmm . . . let's go with Lady Dragon, Tela Du, which involves two of my favorite ships, Reutra and Amberite. Admittedly, it's Amberite in one of its sadder chapters, but still. And, as I'm currently alpha-reading Love and Memory, the sequel to this book, I'm experiencing all the feels regarding both ships. It's a problem.


Oreo: A book that reminds you of your childhood.

I still love a lot of my late-childhood favorites, so I have a lot to choose from . . . but I'm going with one I don't talk about as much, All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. This is an autobiography about a pre-WWII vet in the Yorkshire region of England, and it's just a delight to read. The author interacted with a lot of colorful characters, both in terms of his patients and his patients' owners. This is one of the last books my dad read to me, so rereading it reminds me of being younger and sitting curled up in my favorite chair and listening to the stories.


Lemon Chess: A book with a very Southern setting.

Hello, Raven Cycle! I don't read a lot of books set in the South (mostly because I don't read many books set on Earth, period, and those that are set there, sort of, tend to be alternate Earths and take place in England or some such). But The Raven Cycle is very Virginian, which means I have a special kind of affection for it.

As a runner-up in this category, I have to mention the Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rodgers, which is a fantasy set in a world that feels like colonial America in the deep South, with settlers and swamps and 'gators and so forth. It's intensely underrated, and I highly recommend it.


Dark chocolate orange: A book with a bittersweet ending.

Here's another two-for-one deal: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull, both for its own sake and as a representative of the whole Beyonders series. I mean, technically most fantasy books have bittersweet endings, but this one sticks out to me for reasons that I can't entirely explain. 

And that's it! Do you agree with my choices? What books would you put for each category? Please tell me in the comments, or feel free to pick up the tag for yourself. (Just make sure you link back to Emma's post.) 
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, November 8, 2019

Magical Powers I Wish I Had (For Totally Mundane Purposes)

Everyone wants magical powers, am I right? Or superpowers, if you prefer that term — they're honestly about the same thing, just with slightly different connotations and sources. Anyway. We frequently pick the powers we'd want based on sheer Rule of Cool — I mean, how absolutely storming awesome would it be to be able to fly or shoot fire from your hands or use most standard forms of gravity manipulation? But at the same time, most of those would be pretty impractical or even dangerous if you're not a superhero or fantasy adventure hero. And then there are powers that might not be flashy but would actually be incredibly helpful for the average person (and some that are flashy or cool but would still be really useful even in the every day). Today, I thought I'd highlight a few of those powers that I'd particularly like to have, not because I want to have adventures but because they'd make my life easier or better. And, just to make things a little more interesting, I'm going to limit myself to only specific powers from books, movies, and so on, so I can't just wish for generic time manipulation (because we all know that's the best superpower).

Magical Powers I Wish I Had
(For Totally Mundane Purposes)

  1. Ashna's color manipulation (Lady Dragon, Tela Du). Some of you may be asking "Sarah, what the heck? Why is this topping your list?" And to that I ask: why is it not topping yours? Maybe it doesn't solve the "big problems" that some of the other items on this list will deal with, but if I had this power, I would use it literally every single day. Or at least a couple times a week. It has basically a million applications. Can't find a matching or coordinating outfit for the day? Bored of the color of your phone or laptop case or backpack? Change it, then change it back later! Thinking of dying your hair but not sure if you want to commit? No problem, and no expense! Colors just won't come out right on the poster you're working on? No need to spend your whole print quota trying to fix it! Just nip in and adjust them on the print you've got. Boom. (Obviously this won't work if you have a large number of items, but if it's just a few things, you're fine.) And just think of the possibilities for cosplay! All you have to do is find or make pieces that are the right shape or fit, then change the color to suit. We've already mentioned the possibility for hair color, and if you're cosplaying, say, Gamora or some other character with a non-human skintone? No need for body paint or makeup! You have the power! Storms, you could even make money off of it. So, yeah; this is about as non-flashy as you can get, but it takes the cake for most practical magical power.
  2. Sliding/Subsuming, aka Bendalloy Twinborn Compounder (Mistborn: The Alloy Era). Y'all knew this one was going to be on the list. For the uninitiated, Sliding in the Mistborn world is the ability to create a "bubble" in which time is expanded (giving yourself more time relative to the outside world). Subsuming is the power to basically store energy for later without having to do the whole convert-it-to-fat-and-burn-it thing. Either on their own is pretty great, but if you can use them both, it would be the the second-best-power ever, possibly the best power ever, for someone like me. Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, if you have both the Allomantic and Feruchemical versions of a metal power, you can get ten times as much power on the Feruchemical side. So, basic M.O. with this power:
    1. Eat whatever the heck I want and, instead of it all turning to fat and making my life more difficult, I store everything except what I really need in my metalminds (the pieces of metal used to store Feruchemical power). Boom, I've already eliminated one source of stress.
    2. Whenever I have a lot to get done, tap into the Allomantic side of the power to create a time bubble until I'm done, have accomplished a decent amount, or need to move outside the bubble.
    3. Once I'm done, tap the Feruchemical side of the power to restore all the energy I just used up.
    4. Repeat.
    5. Use some of my extra time to go to the gym more often.
    6. Profit (emotionally and physically, because I'm less stressed and more fit).
  3. Gold Feruchemy/Bloodmaking (Mistborn, both eras). Ok, yes, there are much more practical and efficient healing powers out there, most of which don't require you to make yourself sick so you can store up health to use later. But most of those more efficient healing powers require just as much energy as being sick does — and the Feruchemical version of healing comes with a built-in bonus, even if you're not a Compounder (which would, of course, be the ideal). What's that? Simple: an instant out of any undesirable social situation. No one wants to hang around a sick person, so you can provide yourself a future benefit and give yourself a perfectly legitimate reason to stay home instead of going out at the same time. And, yeah, being sick isn't fun, but if you're not an action hero, you wouldn't have to spend nearly as much time storing up health for later because you wouldn't use it as quickly. (The downside of this, of course, is that it somewhat increases rather than decreases the time you spend being sick, even if your usual approach is "If I'm sick anyway, just make myself more sick and get all the misery over with at once", but I currently can't think of a singular healing ability that does ward off sickness, so, yeah. If anyone knows of one, let me know.)
  4. Basically any force field ability (various media). I'm going to cheat a little with this one because there isn't one specific version of the power that I'd want, and there's a very simple reason I would want it: instant umbrella. This would be particularly helpful if you're a college student at any campus that has a lot of wind. For one thing, you wouldn't have to worry about your umbrella flipping inside-out or getting pulled out of your hands. For another, you could potentially adjust the shape or angle of the force field to be the most effective against wherever the rain is coming from. (Water manipulation could also work for this purpose, but force fields have the bonus advantages of giving you a personal space bubble, which is practical in a lot of situations, and letting you make yourself a hoverboard, which sounds great to me.)
  5. The Arc of Time (Fairy Tail). Ok, so this is a slight spoiler for one of the Tenrou Island villains, but basically this lets you turn back the clock on the state of non-sentient objects so you can restore them to a previous condition or fast-forward them to a future condition. And while the wiki page says this ability is primarily used in combat, let's be real: it would have so many everyday applications that there's no way the people who have this magic wouldn't use it all the time. Just think about it. Stain or tear in your favorite shirt? Arc of time it back to its previous condition! Need bananas but everything in the store is green? Doesn't matter; get them anyway and fast-forward the amount of fruit you need to the perfect ripeness. Dropped your final project in a puddle and now it's ruined? Never fear; you can fix that in an instant with this power! You could even use it to make a ton of money restoring artwork and architecture if you so chose.
So, yeah. What about you? What magical ability or superpower would you love to have for mundane reasons? Any ideas for other uses of any of the ones I've mentioned? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, November 1, 2019

October 2019 Doings!

Hello, everyone! So, October. It's been a crazy month, let me tell you. I mean, that is the whole point of this Doings! post, but yeah.

(Also, I just got back from a Halloween party about an hour before I finished this post, and I'm still so hyped. Tired, but hyped. It was amazing. But more on that later!)


  • So, there's good news and there's bad news.
  • And the bad news is that Blood in the Earth/Soil is most likely going to be delayed because I've barely had time and energy to work on it at all this month.
  • I'm keeping up with creative nonfic all right . . .
  • And I'm keeping up with D&D all right . . .
  • But once I get through the week-to-week deadlines and my schoolwork and my various social commitments, there's not much energy left over for Eun-Ji, Azuma, Baili, Gan, Chouko, Xiang, and company. And I wish there was, and I hate that this is the spot I'm in, but I'm not sure what to do about it.
  • (And I just added one more thing to my workload . . . but more on that later.)
  • The good news, at least for me, is that my D&D campaign is still going well. Everyone seems to be having fun, and I think I've found a good balance between the plot of the week and the overarching storyline. And I've been able to introduce several NPCs who I really like (including one who's showing up tonight), so that's fun.
  • (I also learned the importance of testing NPC names for possibly unfavorable mispronunciations — case in point, one of the NPCs last session was named Morin, and some of the players insisted on mispronouncing his name as "Moron." Oops.)
  • The other good news is that next semester should be much less stressful, and hopefully, I'll be able to dedicate a lot more time to writing, which could mean extra stuff releasing to make up for the delay? But we'll see how that works out . . .


  • This was another light reading month, unsurprisingly.
  • I did finish Northanger Abbey at last . . . and was not really impressed. The more I interact with Austen's books, the more I think that I'm not really an Austen fan; I'm a Pride and Prejudice fan. That said, there are a couple Austen books I haven't tried yet, so maybe I just don't jive with what I've read so far.
  • I also reread Masque because I needed something to read and couldn't get at Prince of Stars, Son of Fate, plus you can't really go wrong with a Beauty and the Beast murder mystery. I have exactly 0 regrets, and it was honestly an excellent destresser.
  • The last complete book I read this month was Ghostlight, another sort of magical mystery. It was interesting, but not my favorite thing I've ever read. I may read the sequel, but it's hard to say for sure.
  • Finally, I'm currently reading the Thing Explainer, another Randall Munroe book. I feel a little weird whenever I'm reading it because it sometimes kind of feels like a kids' book, even though it's not a kids' book, and I can't help feeling guilty that I'm not reading something more sophisticated. On the other hand, I am enjoying it and I'm learning things, so I'm not about to stop reading it.


  • My roommate and I finished Season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago. You can check out my season thoughts post if you missed it and are interested in reading my overall reactions as someone who knows a ton of spoilers and basically loved the show before she started watching it.
  • We intended to watch a bunch of stuff (mostly Disney movies) over Fall Break, but that . . . didn't happen. I'm ok with that, except for the fact that we were going to watch Aladdin (the original, which I've never actually seen) and I was going to knit a bunch and I was kind of disappointed by the lack of both those things. But we played a ton of board games instead, so . . . worth it.
  • And my roommate and I are endeavoring to pick Sword Art Online back up. We kind of skimmed past the Gun Gale Online arc because my roommate doesn't like most of it that much and I was . . . not super enthusiastic about the idea of watching it. As I mentioned to a friend of mine, Sword Art Online is kind of like the DC Dark Knight trilogy, in that it's deep and intellectual and thoughtful and people tell me it's really good and I should definitely watch it, and I want to take their advice . . . but it's also heavy and dark and doesn't have a ton of joy or humor to balance that out, and so even though I theoretically want to watch it, in practice, I avoid every opportunity I get to do so.
  • But, as I said, we're past the GGO arc; we picked the episodes that my roommate liked best and watched those; I got a recap of the rest of the arc from her, and now we can move on to the remaining mini-arcs! Which I'm excited about!


I painted a pumpkin for a contest hosted by my campus bookstore. (It didn't win.)
  • So, there are four main highlights of this past October: Parents' Weekend, fall break, academic decision crisis, and Halloween.
  • We will start with the chronological first of those items: Parents' Weekend. This is also the easiest one to tell: the first weekend in October was Homecoming/Parents' Weekend, and my parents came up because it's my last year and my sister's first year and both of those are significant. Also, my sister was part of one of the Cardboard Canoe Race teams, so they wanted to support her in that, even though she wasn't actually in the boat. (Her boat did not win, but they did make it across without sinking, so all is well.) Getting to see them was super fun, and we got to go out to eat at Cheddar's, which is always a win.
  • That weekend, I also went to Cedarville's production of A Comedy of Errors, which I enjoyed (though not as much as some of the other plays I've seen). The actors all did a very good job, and of course, Shakespeare is always great. Some of the mistaken identity humor did get old after a while, but overall it was good.
  • After that, it was a fairly quiet-but-busy two weeks until . . .
  • The academic decision crisis . . . which wasn't really much of a crisis, more of an opportunity that I had to decide whether or not to take. See, between the classes I've taken and the classes I plan to take, I'm only one class away from a web design minor, and it was bugging me . . . but I didn't think I could do anything about it because the class I needed was only offered in the fall semester, aka now, and I'm not sticking around an extra semester just to take one class. But my advisor encouraged me to email the professor in charge of the design department and ask if I could switch out the class for something else, so I did, expecting the answer to be no.
    • The answer was not no.
    • The answer was "I've talked to the professor who runs the class, and he remembers you from Web Design 1 and because he remembers you doing well in that class and really enjoying that class, he's willing to let you take this class as an independent study. But you have to start this semester, not next semester when you currently have a lighter workload."
    • So. That sparked a lot of debate and reassessing my plans and calling my parents and trying to figure out if the independent study is doable -- which I've decided it is, but only if I cut down on some non-class activities.
    • Thus why Blood in the Earth/Soil is being delayed.
  • In the middle of all that was fall break, which was, honestly, delightful. Once again, I went to my roommate's house . . . but this year, we had my sister and her roommate along for the ride. That turned out to be really fun, as it meant we played a ton of board games.
    • A few of the board game highlights: multiple games of "Sentinels of the Multiverse" (in which I confirmed that my ideal playstyle is not support), two rounds of "Escape the Temple" (fun, but easily the most stressful game I've ever played, and not the best thing for when you're trying not to have a cold), and two games of "Mysterium" (including one in which I played as the ghost and learned that I like that much more than playing as a normal player -- it's a great game, but I get frustrated when I'm trying to work through the clues I'm given and everyone else is talking around me and telling me what I should think).
    • My sister and I also went to the Columbus Zoo with our aunt, which was really fun. We got to ride a camel (I can definitely tell why they're called ships of the desert) and we saw absolutely adorable arctic foxes!!! They were so white and pretty and fluffy and were basically my favorite part. The cheetahs were pretty cool as well, though.
  • Then we got back, I had a super stressful week in which I had to do aaaaalllllllll the graphic design, and then reached this week. Which, of course, is Halloween!
    • To make it clear, I am excited about Halloween solely because it's an opportunity to dress up, not for any other reason. I have no interest in the spooky side of the holiday.
    • But, yeah. I basically managed to have Halloween events every night of Halloween week except Monday, which meant I got to wear all the costumes!
Me in my dragon keeper Halloween costume. 
    • Tuesday: PWID Halloween party. I dressed up as a dragon keeper from the DragonKeeper Chronicles. As usual, no one knew what I was. As usual, I did not win. But I got to walk around with a sword on my hip and a dragon on my shoulder, and I got to eat cinnamon pretzels and caramels, and I got to meet my professor's baby, so I call the evening a success.
    • Wednesday: Inklings creative writing org, with costumes welcome. I thought about trying to be a Jedi this evening, but stuff didn't work out, so I went back to the classic assassin look. (Specifically, I was a Shadowwalker assassin from one of my to-be-eventually-published books, but I didn't advertise the specifics.)
    • Thursday, daytime: So I didn't exactly dress up, but I went with a sort of low-key Jedi-ish look and carried my lightsaber around in my backpack pocket, so I count that. Speaking of which, I have a lightsaber now. Like my sword, it's 3D printed. I still need to paint details on the hilt, but that's only going to be a little bit of work, and it wasn't significant enough that I felt the need to get it done before Halloween.
    • Thursday evening: Orion Halloween Hogwarts party! My roommate and I went to this together, and it was SO MUCH FUN. I did a whole post about the event over on Facebook and Instagram (pick the one you like better), so I'm not going to recap all the details here. That said, it was so much fun, I ate a ton of good food (including Orion's version of fever fudge, which is DELICIOUS and AMAZING), and I got to dress up AGAIN. This time, I was a Hogwarts alum who works with dragons. It was probably my most comfortable costume of the week (with the exception of my low-key Jedi one), but also had the most small fun details. And I got a Hogwarts letter! Which was awesome!
    • Friday evening: AKA tonight, AKA a time that has not occurred as of the writing and publishing of this post. But I've invited people in my D&D group to dress up, and I'm planning on wearing my capelet at least and having my dragon on my shoulder, so it will be a good time.
  • Outside of those three things, most of October has been occupied by schoolwork, mostly graphic design. I'm currently in a group project in one of those classes, and it is not my favorite thing, but it's the only group project of the semester, so I'll deal with it.

November Plans!

  • So, you may be asking "Sarah, if you're delaying your WIP and taking this independent study, will you still have time for NaNoWriMo?" And the answer is . . . not really. But I'm doing it anyway with a rebel goal of one creative nonfic piece and one D&D episode written and edited per week. Aka, I'm doing the stuff I need to do anyway, but at a slightly faster rate. And then if I have time around those things, I'll work on my WIP as well.
  • On a side note, if you have been able to find the NaNoWriMo banners and profile things, please point me in their direction, 'cause I'm kind of lost on the new site.
  • The other part of the main November plan is "do all the graphic and web design."
  • Seriously, though, basically every weekend in November is going to be occupied primarily with my independent study. It's going to be great (I say only slightly sarcastically; I am really excited for this class).
  • In my spare time (such as it is), I hope that my roommate and I will be able to keep watching either Avatar or Sword Art Online; I'd like to finish a season of something by the end of the semester. We'll see how that works out.
  • I am planning to go home for Thanksgiving break, which I look forward to. I miss being home. This will also be my and my sister's first drive of that length when we're not following our parents, so that's going to be exciting and mildly nerve-wracking. I'm hoping that we can leave super early Wednesday morning so I don't have to drive most of the way in the dark. We'll see how that works out.
  • Also, there's a chance that the TDK Christmas party will end up being before Thanksgiving, and I am not happy about that. I have strong feelings about when Christmas is meant to be (AKA, only after Thanksgiving) and I hold to those feelings with a significant enough conviction that I will have an actual crisis of conscience if the party is before then. I'm an officer, so I have to go, but . . . yeah.
How was your October? What plans do you have for November? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? When do you think the proper time for Christmas celebrations and decorations is? And did you dress up for Halloween this year? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)