My Misguided Fairy Godmother Muse

Once upon a time, there was a girl who started writing stories.

She spent several years scribbling away at them, going back and forth between a few different ideas and consequently not making much progress on them.

Then something strange began to happen. She began to have even more and more ideas for even more stories! What could this mean?

But, cheerily, she continued writing, and making notes for all the new ideas. She became obsessed with making lists of the stories, and developing titles for them, and designing mock covers for them, and writing out summaries of what they were about. She began to be more excited about “playing” with the stories than actually writing them.

Time went on. The list of stories continued to grow and grow and grow! But far from complaining, the writer was delighted.

She did so enjoy making those lists and writing those notes, you see.

Somewhere along the way, she began to notice patterns. Whenever she would take a break from working on her writings, whether on purpose to recharge, or accidentally due to busyness, she would suddenly get hit with all this inspiration — and, more often than not, that inspiration might include ideas for new stories.

Then the year of 2015 hit. The ideas were flying in left and write right. It began to get insane. The writer began to despair of ever getting around to writing all of the things, especially at the snail-like pace the actual writing was happening.

So the writer stepped back and analyzed this phenomenon.

That was when the writer discovered the presence of her fairy godmother.

Most writers talk of their “Muse”.

(very helpful…)

This writer realized that instead of a muse, she had a benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of inspiration. (Perhaps rather like Ophelia from Broken Glass by Emma Clifton…)

The writer realized that the fairy godmother muse freaks out whenever the writer is not making Story, knowing that the writer is happier when making Story. So the fairy godmother, thinking the writer is just tired of the old stories, quickly throws a bunch of new ideas at the writer to get her attention.

If you haven’t figured out by now, this writer is me. And this benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of my writerly brain/inspiration/muse is the cause of both my excitedness about having so many story ideas to write, and my despair over ever finishing anything, let alone all of them.

My fairy godmother muse, especially this year, is constantly going:

“STORY. STORY! YOU’RE NOT MAKING STORY. YOU’LL BE HAPPIER WITH SOME STORY. MAKE STORY!”

And hands me more and more storyness, shoving it into my brain and then beaming and watching happily as I flail around like a headless octopus and try to work on ALL OF THE STORY THINGS.

Unfortunately, my fairy godmother muse doesn’t seem to care if I’m actually making PROGRESS on said stories, i.e., actually writing them down…

As long as I’m flailing around doing plotting or brainstorming or making lists, she feels confident that she has been doing her job well and fulfilling her role in keeping her writer happy playing with stories.

To give you an idea of the insanity that’s underway, I’m going to share a list of the story ideas that have “clicked” this year ALONE.

The main ones are:

  • The Other Half of Everything (I think I’ve mentioned this enough…)
  • Darkling Reflections (Finished this one! Huzzah! …Yes, it’s a short story; I can still be proud.)
  • The Siren and the Skyship (swashbuckling sky adventuresome gender-swapped steampunk Little Mermaid retelling)

Five more stories in the Kedran’s Wood series (bringing it to a total of 8… so far; last year it was supposed to be a “trilogy”. Haha. Isn’t that just ADORABLE?)

  • Son of Kedran’s Wood – prequel novella
  • Return to McAllistair Mansion – short story (I wrote this one! I’s so proud of me.)
  • Mixup at Kedran’s Wood – novella between books 2 & 3
  • The Novelist of Kedran’s Wood – novel set after book 3, a double story
  • Celebrations at Kedran’s Wood – short story set after all of the planned books (thus far… *cough*)

As well as:

  • A modern Cinderella retelling about a writer, set during NaNoWriMo
  • An untitled fairy-tale mashup conglomeration retelling (RETELL ALL OF THE THINGS)
  • An untitled thing I’m currently calling “The Epic Book” which is vague but has some awesome ideas swirling
  • An extremely vague notion of an idea for a con/heist story that would be a companion to Underground Rainbow, starring the eccentric purple-haired artist (no, unfortunately this has no plot yet and I probably will never be able to make it work)
  • An idea for a nonfiction book about various things

And I also “made official” i.e. added to my lists because I had had ideas about them but was pretending they didn’t exist:

  • The tenth Starrellian Saga book
  • A sequel/companion novel to Heartseeker about the Bard and Trillum
  • An untitled Arthurian retelling which is going to be super cool

Not to mention my Sleeping Beauty novella The Rose and the Raven, which had been a vague idea for years but only just this year finally came together as something I could write… (But, again, having trouble CONTINUING… ya know?)

Yes. That is 16 (or 17 if you count The Rose and the Raven) stories, either from ideas from this year or “officialized” by listing them as stories to write. THAT’S JUST THIS YEAR ALONE. That’s not even thinking about the 30+ other stories from BEFORE the notorious 2015-when-all-the-stories-exploded-in-plotbunnies-and-said-write-us-or-we’ll-kill you. Sometimes I scroll through my list of 50ish stories and just go… “HOW EVEN.”

Sixteen new stories this year, guys. (So far…)

Can you see how insane this is getting?

Apparently there’s just no dealing with a benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of inspiration.

(And no, I don’t actually know whether you should be very happy for me or PLAYING A DIRGE.

It’s very confusing and I honestly can’t tell anymore.

Blame it on my fairy godmother.)

Favorite Reads of 2014!

I did a post like this last year, and I think it’s a fun and/or useful tradition, so I’m doing it again! (Once again, I’m not including re-reads.)

So here, without any further ado, are the best of the books I read in 2014. 😀

TopReads2014Icon

Top Ten Novels

1. The Crown of Dalemark – Diana Wynne Jones (The Dalemark Quartet, #4)

Ohhhhhh my goodness. I CANNOT EVEN WORD WITH THE AMAZINGNESS OF THIS THING’S CONCLUSION. So it’s book 4 in a series, wrapping up The Dalemark Quartet… Which means I’m sort of including all four books when I say this is the best, because part of the amazing was how the separate storylines of the first three books came together so epically in this one. BUT STILL. It was just… I CAN’T, OKAY.

When I finished it I was literally incapacitated for several minutes. All I could do was some combination of sitting there in awesome-book-ending-shock, and flail around and babble incoherently at my sister who had to put up with me. XD

BUT BUT FANTASY WORLD, WITH MUSKETS, BUT ALSO QUITE MEDIEVAL, BUT ALSO MODERN-ISH BECAUSE TRAINS. AND TIME TRAVEL. IN A FANTASY WORLD. WHY DOES THIS NOT HAPPEN MORE OFTEN? IT WAS ALSKDJFLKJDFL POSITIVELY BRILLIANT. AND THE CHARACTERS WHO I LOVED WHO WERE AWESOME. <3<3 AND THE HUMOR. AND EVERYTHING. AND DIANA WYNNE JONES. And. Just. I CAN’T EVENNNNNN.

THAT. ENDING. *flaiiiil*

2. Orphan’s SongGillian Bronte Adams

So I reviewed this last Wednesday in this post. Which means it is hopefully fresh in your memory… But if not, go read that review. Or better yet, READ THE BOOK!!! But this book was so awesome. Christian Fantasy done RIGHT… An awesome fantasy world… Characters who were 100% human and 100,000% loveable… And the SONG… And the WRITING… And Birdie and Ky and Amos and Cade and Carhartan! This was an epic story and I’m itching to read the next one. ❤

3. The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer

YES. This book. It was recommended to me by several online friends, so I just had to give it a try. I’M SO GLAD I DID. I feel like this is what Jane Austen was trying to do… It’s like Jane Austen with spunk! I enjoy Austen’s works very much, don’t get me wrong! But they are rather… quiet. The Grand Sophy has an AWESOME heroine… I don’t usually love the heroine this much! Sophy is grand indeed, and full of spark and wit. I love her! The story and incidents were all HILARIOUS. And CHARLES RIVENHALL! ❤ Possible one of my top 2 favorite characters this year… I feel like he’s a perfect mix of Mr. Darcy and what I think Mr. Knightly is like (I haven’t read Emma yet, sorry, but I did see a film). Charles Rivenhall is the ultimate dark, kind of furious, strong-willed hero, who is up against the most whirl-wind-ish female he’s ever encountered… Who’s going to tame who? The resulting story is just perfect.

4. Entwined – Heather Dixon

Eeeeeeeeeeeee. This was so good! A retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (which, as you may know, I am obsessed with…) it was just fantastic! If it wasn’t for a certain slightly disappointing thing, this might have made it higher on my list. BUT IT WAS AWESOME ANYWAY. And it’s really neat how the twelve girls are named alphabetically after flowers. I can actually remember them! And… just… It’s beautiful. And all the characters are fabulous. I LOVE THEM ALL. ❤

5. The Boggart and the Monster – Susan Cooper

The sequel to “The Boggart”. (Which when I made my list last year, I put as #12 in my top-favorites of 2013… but if I were to do it over again, it would be wayyyy higher up. I LOVE THE BOGGART.) It was just as good as the first and I absolutely adored it! So much, that as soon as I finished reading it, I started rereading it the same day, aloud to my younger siblings. Many books that I love, I daydream about rereading the moment I’m done, but this might be the only one I’ve ACTUALLY carried that out for… Scotland! Humor! Loch Ness Monster! Fun! Fantasy! Soooo good.

wordchangerscovers

6. The Word ChangersAshlee Willis

I reviewed this awhile back… It was just delightful! Falling into a book and becoming one of the characters… Perfectly carried out Christian Fantasy element… KYRIN of course…! ❤ And just an overall awesome story! I JUST LOVED IT. I highly recommend it!! (And that on the left is a new cover for it!! Isn’t it simply gorgeous?? SO MUCH BEAUTIFUL! I can’t get over it! <3)

7. The Seahorse LegacySerena Chase

I reviewed this one in a blogtour… It was fairly awesome! Especially every. single. moment. with. Cazien. CAZIEN. He might have to be one of my top 2 favorite characters of the year… O_O Maybe. Just. EVERY TIME HE OPENED HIS MOUTH. So much hilarious awesomeness. He is definitely one awesome pirate. Aaand The Seahorse Legacy cut off right when I was waiting for the most interesting thing to happen. XD The second half of the story, The Sunken Realm, is supposed to come out sometime this summer. Can I just say… I NEED IT NOWWWW!!!


8. Merlin’s NightmareRobert Treskillard

This was an AWESOME conclusion to the Merlin Spiral trilogy. (My review is here.) It was rather epic, and the young Arthur up-and-coming toward his destiny of being king, mixed in with Merlin’s own story… it was just awesome. Lots of exciting adventure and humor, too! But my favorite thing about it just had to be Arthur himself. It’s hard to do a King Arthur who lives up to that name — but Mr. Treskillard’s Arthur was perfection! I loved that character so much. ❤ I can’t wait for the second trilogy to start coming out so we can continue to follow Arthur’s adventures!

9. The Princess SpyMelanie Dickerson

I also reviewed this… Exciting story, beautiful setting, and I loved the characters so much! Margaretha was a fun heroine, Colin was awesome, and they were a very cute couple. ^_^ It wasn’t much of a fairytale retelling, I didn’t think, but it was an AWESOME book. Melanie Dickerson always writes awesome books… 😉

10. AlyceSarah Scheele

I’m not sure if this quite counts since it’s a novella and not a novel… But I simply HAD to include this rolick of a Cinderella retelling that had me laughing hysterically but was also rather epic and beautiful. Such fun! So funny, so mysterious, full of witty writing… and the characters were just absolute delights. I loved it a lot! ❤

Things That Are Category-less But Must Go On This List


Prince Valiant, Vol 1: 1937-1938 – Hal Foster


Prince Valiant, Vol 2: 1939-1940 – Hal Foster

So they’re not exactly novels. Or nonfiction. Or picture books. Or really comic-books because they’re not like most. But when I say that the Prince Valiant comic-strip saga is basically my favorite thing ever, I hope you understand how much I really mean that. I’ve loved Prince Valiant ever since my earliest memory of being read it from the comics-page in the newspaper, and on into reading collections of it in book form. So when I discovered that my library had these two earliest collections, I sort of went crazy and checked them out and read them before you could have said “crazy fangirl”. PRINCE VALIANT. So much epic.

Best Non-Fiction

The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children’s Books – Eleanor Cameron

Reflections: On the Magic of Writing – Diana Wynne Jones

Both of these were basically collections of essays by two of my favorite authors ever, about two of my favorite things ever: books and writing. Specifically, children’s books and fantasy, mainly, which are others of my favorite things.

I always say that J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexandar are my 3 favorite authors. But I’ve been fans of them for almost as long as I can remember — I grew up with their books. Eleanor Cameron and Diana Wynne Jones come right after them in my list of top 5 favorite authors, and THEY are the ones who I DISCOVERED. So getting to read their thoughts and see how much I agree with them and how brilliant they were… it was just an absolute joy!

Some people, I suppose, find fiction they like by finding out if they like the author’s opinions. I find fiction I like, and then because I like it, I find nonfiction that I agree with… 😉

Honorable Mentions

They don’t quite belong in my top ten/twelve/whatever because they’re not my normal thing and there were other books that are not on the list that I liked better, overall, but there was just something about these, so I have to mention them.

NeverJ. Grace Pennington

This is here because it is the best Christian book I read all year. I read about a dozen of them, and some were good — some are even up there in my top ten. But there was something about Never that affected me more than any of the other Christian books I read this year; plus it was a good mystery, and it makes me want to read more westerns because I never do, and I loved both of the main characters a ton. But the Christian aspect may have been done the best I’ve seen, and it was not preachy but at the same time was more real than in many books I’ve read. It just hit me with a very strong feeling.

The Mysterious Benedict Society – Trenton Lee Stewart

While I enjoyed it wayyy more than I thought I would and it was a good book, it’s only here because of one particular moment that was one of those explosive things that gave such a FEELING that affected me in that moment way more than any other book this year besides the ending of The Crown of Dalemark and basically the whole of Orphan’s Song. But if you’ve ever heard of Tolkien’s “eucatastrophe”, this was the best example I can think of and just aaaaahhhhh. That feeling of explosive elation and excitement and happifulness right after the moment when you think all is lost; plus mixed in with resolving a mystery I’d been suspecting, and just– I can’t explain it!! It’s weird, too, because other than that moment, it would have been a really enjoyable book but I wouldn’t be too excited about it. But just. Wow. I don’t even know if anyone else would think that way but it really got me and was awesome. So this can’t even go in a category, but it gets mentioned because of the moment. 🙂

Favorite Picture Book

stgrgdragon

Saint George and the Dragon – retold by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

This is just such a beautiful, awesome, picture book! I love Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations… she may be my favorite artist… So much expression in the characters, and so much beauty and detail! And this story was just so cool. Actually, the look of this book very much influenced some of the feel of my own story Heartseeker. Which may be one of the reasons I’m so attached to this book. But it’s just… perfect. ❤

Favorite Short Stories

I didn’t read as many short stories as the year before, but two stood out as my VERY favorites, both from the collection “Book of Enchantments” by Patricia C. Wrede.

The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn (short story) – Patricia C. Wrede

This was just ADORABLE and perfect — it’s set in the Enchanted Forest (of Wrede’s awesome four-book series) and it has a princess and a cat and a unicorn. …Er, well, I suppose you could tell that. BUT IT WAS AWESOME. There need to be more short stories like this.

Utensile Strength (short story) – Patricia C. Wrede

This. THIIIS. It’s probably the closest we get to a “sequel” to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Because it takes place after book 4 AND WE GET TO SEE DAYSTAR ETC AS A HAPPY FAMILY AND JUST ALKDJFLKDJFLKF. I loved it to death. I LOVE CIMORENE AND MENDANBAR AND THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND DAYSTAR AND ALL OF IT SO MUUUUCH. ^_^ So yes, this is absolutely a favorite of the year. Anyone who’s read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles: get ahold of this one and read it!!

***

So there are some of my favorite new reads of 2014! Have you read any of them? What did you think?

What about you? What are your favorite reads of 2014? 🙂

Merlin’s Nightmare

Time for a book review! For “Merlin’s Nightmare”, book 3 of The Merlin Spiral by Robert Treskillard.

The author is running an awesome contest to promote the series, with neat prizes including a kindle and a sword (!), so be sure to go check out his website!

KingArthur.org.uk

***

Merlin’s Nightmare (book 3 of the Merlin Spiral)

by Robert Treskillard

Stupendous – Five Stars!

I’ve never had such a case of review-writer’s-block before, because I couldn’t figure out how to express how much I enjoyed this book.

The Story:

Merlin’s Nightmare, book 3 of The Merlin Spiral, takes place about 16 years after the first two books. It follows an older, 30-something year old Merlin, and a now-grown Arthur, who at 18 is full of liveliness and is ready to take on the whole world, seemingly. Together with various other characters, both new ones and re-imagined figures of legend, they must face overwhelming odds and perils from all sides in a desperate fight to save Britain from destruction.

Here is the Arthurian legend reborn.

I’m not sure how Treskillard managed to make it so original and fresh while simultaneously drawing so many parts of the old King Arthur stories into it so well, but he did.

General Review:

I enjoyed this book SO MUCH. From the very beginning I was completely spellbound – I couldn’t stop reading and finished it in a few days. It was basically everything a book should be: gripping, epic, and just a lot of fun. I kept coming across bits of hilarity and general awesomeness that I would excitedly quote aloud to whatever family member happened to be around. I found myself laughing several times, and the action, adventure, journeying and battles were all awesome.

A lot of things near the end had me nearly squealing with excitement, and it’s killing me I can’t talk about them due to spoilers. Let’s just say it does NOT disappoint in the realm of epic Arthurian-ness. *SQUEAL*

I feel like Merlin’s Nightmare forms the core of Treskillard’s retelling of the Arthurian story. Everything comes together and explodes into this sweeping epic tale, with the first two books providing excellent background so that everything makes sense and you know where it all came from, while also anticipating the continuation of the saga. It was the perfect third book to a trilogy. Anything that bothered me about the first two was swept away because it all makes sense now. I can see the whole. The story arc of Merlin is complete in a way, while at the same time beginning a new one that will focus on Arthur himself.

Merlin:

I loved Merlin in this book, seeing his journey through the first two books, into this one, and with a hint toward becoming the Merlin of legend. I can see his faith from the first one, his fighting spirit from the second, and a measure of caution and wisdom brought on by both and the years since, as he continues to struggle toward who he needs to be, before his earthly lord, and his King on high.

Merlin is in his 30s and has a family of his own by the start of the book (can I just say how much I love his whole adorable family?). I was worried about this, because I normally don’t like stories where the young hero grows up, but Treskillard pulled it off impressively. If anything, I liked the grown up Merlin even better, and could only think “Here indeed is the great Bard of Britain.”

Arthur:

Arthur is without a doubt the number one thing I loved about the book. He was perfect – both original, and also measuring up to the Arthur of traditional Arthurian legend. All King Arthur figures have a lot to be compared to, and I wasn’t sure if he would be able to compete. I need not have worried. Treskillard’s Arthur was absolutely AWESOME. I loved his boundless energy, his dashing recklessness, his courage and natural leadership qualities, and all-around epicness. He was strong and kingly and downright fun, and overall just stupendous and KING ARTHUR. ❤ I really REALLY liked him and can’t wait to see more of him in later books!

Cons:

In the interests of being balanced, I’m trying to think of any downsides to the book, which is actually difficult. I will say that some of it is a bit scary and/or violent for younger readers, though it didn’t bother me for the most part. It also ended more suddenly than I would have liked, but that’s mainly because I wanted to savor it all and didn’t want it to end.

Overview:

Book 1, Merlin’s Blade, was great. Book 2, Merlin’s Shadow, threw me for a loop because it was so unexpected and different, so I was startled into not enjoying it quite as much, though it was still good. Book 3, Merlin’s Nightmare, simply knocked me over with its awesomeness – as a re-imagining of the Arthurian legend, as its own story, and drawing all the threads from the first two into it to complete the epic tapestry of this story.

I say complete, but there are some threads left over to lead into the next three books, The Pendragon Spiral, which I’m absolutely dying to read. Treskillard had better get those books out pronto before I expire of anticipation. 😉

Bottom Line:

Read this book, people! If you like Arthurian stories, action/adventure, fantasy, YA, Christian fiction, or just a really good, well-crafted story, or all of that rolled in one. Just read it!

Disclaimer:

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Blink YA Books) in return for an honest review. It was in no way required to be positive. These opinions are entirely my own.

Find Merlin’s Nightmare at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Goodreads

Find the author, Robert Treskillard:

Website: KingArthur.org.uk

Blog: EpicTales.org

Twitter: https://twitter.com/treskillard

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/treskillard

***

I’ve also reviewed the first two books in the series. You can see my reviews on Goodreads here: (Click the pretty covers)

Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard

Merlin’s Blade

Merlin's Shadow by Robert Treskillard

Merlin’s Shadow

***

Thanks for reading!

Do you like Arthurian stories? Do you have a favorite retelling?

I’d love to hear, if so! I’m always looking for good retellings. 🙂