Ishness!

ishness

Happy February!

Wow, I haven’t done a real Ishness post in ages! So it’s time for another one. 🙂 Here’s a look at my January…

Writing

After the insane writing time that was November and December (which I now realize I have STILL to chronicle fully on the blog here…), I was pretty much burnt out on the writing front.

And by “pretty much” I mean “a completely blackened stub of candle-wick at the end of a very gone candle.” Ahem.

So I took a writing hiatus in January. Yup. The whole month off. Which may sound extreme to some, but I really needed it and found it super relaxing.

Obviously, I still blogged… a ton… largely due to said writing break. Because I always need to write SOMETHING, and when I “take off” it generally manifests itself in the form of fiendishly frequent blogging, and starting a book blog only amplified that…

I also cheated a liiittle bit and did writing in my writing journal/notebook, which is something I start every year and use to keep track of my miscellaneous writing ideas etc. So I wrote 25 pages in that. …Which is more than I usually do. Eheh.

OHEcollageAnd Teague and co. from The Other Half of Everything have been steadily bombarding me with ideas this last month, so I’ve been surreptitiously taking notes on that and may have kinda-sorta worked out a rough structure for the story. Which makes me happy.

So this is why I’m not entirely DYING to write just now, which is what usually happens after I take a break and starve myself on words. Instead of starving, I tried to just… cut back and give myself permission to not write. But I’m wonderfully refreshed after my writing hiatus and although I don’t know what I’m going to work on next — so many options! So many books! — I’m excited to return to it.

Oh! And I did write on my writing day. January 20th every year is designated my writing day, because a few years in a row I happened to write something on that day, so I turned it into a tradition. So I wrote a snippet of The Silver Forest. Because Taghdach demanded it. Because he was grouchy and wanted to blow up some diamond trees. So I let him and wrote it. Because I’m nice like that.

Some snippets from The Silver Forest (you’re welcome. XD)

SilverForestCoverFinalWithout warning, he swung round, his head jerking forward and down as if under a great weight, and he flung his arms out to both sides in a violent gesture which leveled the trees around them, at the same time that a howling wind seemed to spring inexplicably up around him, tossing his cloak wildly. At the movement of his arms and the power that brought the wind, every diamond tree within a few feet in a wide swathe around them seemed to constrict for a moment and then shattered, crashing to the forest floor in myriads of glittering, tinkling fragments.

***

His face was carefully sculpted, a cold marble statue under unforgiving moonlight on a frozen night, and no emotion could be found there. But his eyes burned a painful silver steel of starfire. Taghdach’s voice was as blank as his face as he spoke now. “He was my closest—and only—friend.” He looked unwaveringly straight into her eyes, his own like ice with not a trace of any thought readable within them, and finished, “And I killed him.”

Reading

january2016read

(I seem to be following a trend of reading books with blue-ish-grey-ish covers? Except for the white one, which is trying to shrink into the background because it’s nonfiction, which I rarely read. Also I feel the need to point out that these are listed in reverse order: I read Fire and Hemlock first and Half-Blood most recently… but Goodreads has these nicely listed — albeit backward — and I’m too lazy to go make a new image collection right now.)

I read 10 books in January. Which was nice, because in the previous four months, I read literally 6 books total and was starved for reading… (More about these books in my Reading Roundup over on my book blog if you’re interested in hearing further about ’em.)

Watching

I saw Sherlock: The Abominable Bride!

…Three times. *cough* (Once at a theater it was showing at, which was awesome — Sherlock on the big screen! — and twice afterward online. Because obviously I’m addicted.)

It was so awesome and I loved it. So many little (and not-so-little) nods to the original story and to the modern ones, all wrapped up in a clever plot. I just LOVE how clever the Sherlock episodes are. They make me happy, and this is definitely one of my favorites… And the setting! It was so awesome to see the beloved characters in that time period. All tidy and neat-looking in their clothes and combed hair etc. XD And so much humor. My goodness. So. Fun. I had a couple complaints (like the creepiness, but a lot of the original Holmes stories are creepy too…) but mostly just ignored those and had a blast. And the interaction and dialog and all the characters and Sherlock and John and Mycroft and Lestrade and Mary and just lskjflkjsdl SHERLOOOCK.

Basically, IT WAS AWESOME!!!

…Can you kinda tell I enjoyed a lot? 😉

Listening

January’s song-of-the-month for me was Tell Your Heart to Beat Again by Danny Gokey… yes, I’m still listening to that. I discovered it at the beginning of the month, and it’s been constantly playing — if not actually, at least in my head. I love it so much and it’s sort of my “theme-song” for January that I associate with the month. 🙂

Life-ing

Humm… Not too much of interest going on here… I’ve been really busy (who knew that basically postponing your life for two months in favor of writing piles up??) but can’t think of anything specific of interest. I had a cold there at the end as I may have mentioned… And I’ve been trying to look after myself better, which has included trying to get outside more, which means that I’ve been actually noticing the weather. Which has been insane. Some days it’s freezing cold with a nasty wind and it’s all I can do not to run back inside to my heater instead of taking a little walk. Other times it’s been like 70 degrees, with a soft breeze and hot sunshine when I even *gasp* had to wear short sleeves.

Apparently our weather is confused about the fact that it was January…?

(Of course, one of those days taking a walk with short sleeves this last week, something — I suspect it was a wasp — decided to randomly sting me, so THAT was fun. I am reminded of why I actively try to avoid the outdoors. >.>)

February Plans

I still want to read. A lot. And I have plans of avoiding Goodreads so that I can focus on reading and writing (if you see me on there before March, feel free to yell at me. ;)), and of trying to consolidate my internet time. …We’ll see how that goes. *cough*

I still have a lot of life projects I’m behind on, so I hope to tackle those as well.

Now that I’m off writing hiatus, I hope to get back into writing again! Yay! …How exactly I’m going to do that, I have no idea, but pfft, details. 😉 There’s some Tare editing calling my name, and I’m throwing around the idea of working on a couple of different books, but haven’t officially decided what yet. Hopefully February will hold a wondrous return to the writing world, regardless of what exactly that entails!

I know that February’s going to be busy, but hey! At least we have an extra day this month, right? 😀

How was your January and what are your February plans? 🙂

Also, tomorrow’s Groundhog Day, and on behalf of groundhogs everywhere, I petition you: celebrate on this little-noticed holiday! (I don’t care how. Just celebrate. Because groundhogs. And spring(ish). And glorious things like that.)

Looking Forward, Looking Back (2016/2015)

dannygokey

I love the change of the year and have been doing many of my favorite New Years things like starting new journals. A fresh year is waiting, like a blank page to be written on, and the old year is gone, with all its good times and, yes, failures. It’s time to start fresh.

Danny Gokey says it beautifully in his song Tell Your Heart to Beat Again: “Yesterday’s a closing door — you don’t live there anymore.” Give the song a listen! (I heard it on the radio this week, fell in love, and have listened to it ten billion times since and am listening to it on repeat as I write this post). It’s beautiful and feels just right for the New Year.

Here are some of my excitements for the new year of 2016, as well as a brief look back at my 2015. And — yes! — lists!

2016

My word for 2016

Joy is my word this year. I want to find joy in everything if I can. It’s going to be hard, since I struggle with a tendency to be stressed and down on myself. But I’m tired of feeling crushed beneath expectations, beneath things I feel are obligations which ought to be enjoyable but have become chores. This includes — yes — writing, reading, emailing… even the things that I usually love, sometimes can become a burden because I’m a chronic procrastinator and a perfectionist. I’m hoping to approach everything, the fun and the not, with Joy. To rediscover my Joy in writing and life and find a freedom I’ve been looking for . . . that is my wish for the new year.

JOY! 🙂

I’M EXCITED FOR THIS YEAR:

aspysdevotionThese books coming out:

Yorien’s Hand // The Goblin’s Puzzle // A Spy’s Devotion // Fridays with the Wizards // Rebel of the Sands // Songkeeper // The Story of Kullervo // King’s Folly // The Beautiful Pretender // Five Magic Spindles // Defying Shadows // Stolen Crowns #1 // The Bone Queen // Crooked Kingdom

(I did a post about this if you want pics/links to Goodreads, but I’ve since added Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams — sequel to Orphan’s Song — and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, both of which are sequels that I need this instant. *flail*)

These movies releasing:

  • The Abominable Bride (Sherlock special which I’m hopefully going to see on Wednesday… YAY!)
  • Captain America: The Civil War (YESSSS!! As I may have mentioned, I’m kind of looking forward to this a lot, primarily because BUCKY and HAWKEYE!)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Because Star Wars…)

(Also, perhaps someday I’ll see Kung Fu Panda 3, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Batman Vs. Superman, which are releasing this year, but I’m not in a super hurry as they also sound weird…)

sherlockspecial

I’d also like to see:

  • Pan (missed that when it came out last year)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy (somehow still haven’t seen this)
  • Thor 2: The Dark World (which I technically saw once but need to rewatch since I have no memory of it which is slightly terrifying since I think I liked it a lot?!)

My 2015 at a Glance

READING

66 Books

2015books

I read many lovely books, notably many retellings and much Diana Wynne Jones; and discovered steampunk and heist books. (Yay!) And I just posted my top 15 favorites of the year.

Goodreads has a lovely new “Year in Books Feature” which I love! (Mine is here.)

WATCHING

Shows I saw:

  • Leverage (seasons 1-5) — everyone knows how much I love this… *cough*
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (BBC Miniseries) — interesting to see on screen
  • Star Wars: Rebels (Season 1) — I ADORED THIS! Sooo much fun. ❤

ezra

I don’t go to the theater often, but this year I saw:

  • starwars7posterStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — AS;LDKJFLSK FEELS. WHAT. Still haven’t decided what I think of it except that I know I had a blast and then felt extremely sad near the end… I think overall I loved it? But I’m not sure yet! *flail* One thing’s for sure: ALL OF THE FEELS. And I adore the new characters, particularly Poe, and want to see the movie again.
  • Cinderella — Gorgeous.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — Hawkeye!!
  • Mockingjay Part 2 — Um.
  • Beyond the Mask — EPIC!!! ❤

beyondthemaskDVDshelf

BLOGGING

87 Posts

I really discovered my love of blogging this last year, and started my Ishness posts, and just had a fun time.

My top viewed posts were:

ccakeFrom which I discern that people are unprepared for NaNo (always), and love movies (or characters), bookshelves, Christmas, and cupcakes (or possibly denial). Basically you, my blog readers, have your priorities in order. *thumbs up*

WordPress has a handy blog report showcase for the year which is fun. Take a look at my blog stats if you enjoy numbers like I do. XD

It says my top commenters were Sarah, Tracey, Christine, C.B., and Abi — thank you guys! And to every single person who reads this blog and who has commented (even just once) a heartfelt thank you. ❤ You make my day every time. ^_^

WRITING

Over 100,000 Words

DRcoverishR&RI wrote an entire novella and two whole short stories (and a couple fanfictions) — namely:

KW2coverPSilverForestCoverFinalAnd worked on several other books:

  • 2. The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (mostly this one)
  • The Silver Forest (and this one)
  • 0.5. Child of Kedran’s Wood
  • 2.5 Mixup at Kedran’s Wood
  • 3 The Shadow of Kedran’s Wood
  • 4 The Writer of Kedran’s Wood
  • Heartseeker
  • The Other Half of Everything (snippets)

S&Scover4

OHEcoverI was attacked by several new plotbunnies that I adore and can’t wait to write, most notably:

  • The Other Half of Everything
  • The Siren and the Skyship

My Kedran’s Wood series exploded into several different books/novellas/short stories.

starrellianicon

My epic fantasy series the Starrellian Saga is taking shape in a new and exciting way as I reimagine all of the threads into a different sort of book structure.

A few other exciting things:

ac46bd_75dff376188e4a22af1238184833ab1e.jpg_srz_p_856_300_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

***

PonyFrom the start of the year when I was followed by a pony from the post office, through seeing my first stage play, spontaneously going on a few roadtrips, being a NaNo Municipal Liaison for the third time, all the way to spending my last days of the year frantically editing a novella under a deadline for the first time . . . it’s been a very interesting year!

With my new word (Joy) in hand, I look forward to what 2016 holds!

I haven’t made specific writing/reading goals yet. I’m on a semi-hiatus from writing for a bit, so we’ll see what happens after that… I’m currently leaving my options open. 🙂

How was your 2015? I wish you all a truly fantastic 2016!

Encrypted Fangirl Message

We interrupt your regular reading schedule of rather lengthy semi-coherent posts usually about writing and books on The Road of a Writer to bring you the interesting (?) phenomenon of a brief message from a screaming, flailing, entirely incoherent fangirl who claims to be dying of “all the feels” or some such.

*Begin Encrypted Message*

A;LSJDFLKSJDL;KASJDLFKSAJDLFKJSLDJ
GUYS
THERE’S A TRAILER THING
AND IT’S
I JUST
AAAAAHHHH
I CAN’T
WHY ISN’T IT MAY ALREADY
I NEED IT TO BE MAY
DYING
ALKDJFLKSJDFL
HAWKEYE AND BUCKY AND ALL IN ONE MOVIE
BUT PAIN TOO AND JUST NO

BUT I NEED IT SO MUCH
ASKDJF
BUCKY & HAWKEYE
AND ALL MAH PEOPLES
HAWKEY & BUCKYYYYYY *flail*
TRAILER THING
SEE
SEE SEE SEE???
TRAILER
AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH
WATCH IIIIIIIIIIIIT
*flailing*

halp
dying here
send help
a time machine to May 6th would be extremely helpful
thank you goodbye I’ll just be in my fangirl corner dying thanks

*End Encrypted Message*

For those who understood that reference* that message, thank you for reading. For others, we apologize that we cannot provide a translation at this time as our staff is mysteriously missing and/or incapacitated and cite above message and NaNo as culprits of this phenomenon.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program. Thank you.

*

Of October Madness

IsItNovember

I know I used this in my last post, but I’m posting it again because it’s an accurate depiction of my feelings right now. (Which is why I put together this handy graphic. ;))

I’m a little in shock about it being November already. How. Even.

Still, my October madness ishness was as follows!

ishness

Life

I feel like I was gone all month — if not literally, at least mind-wise.

I went to a fair/rodeo thing for the first time in forever, which was a lot of fun. Also some NaNo events — yay!

Then last week I was camping . . . Just the right thing to do before NaNo instead of plotting, am I right? 😉

I was also sick for a week smack-dab in the middle of the month, which totally threw me off. Not to mention my dead internet.

I basically spent the month in a blur of being insanely busy and unprepared, flailing around trying to get caught up on things and prepare for NaNo and panicking over The Rose and the Raven and not having my NaNo novel plotted. …Actually, I’m still panicking over those things! Funny how that works…

Watching

moviesoct2015

I saw Ever After: A Cinderella Story, which I always hear about but had never seen. It was not what I was expecting, but fun.

I finished my re-watching catch-up of the Hunger Games movies (paiiin) because for some reason the final one is coming out in a couple of weeks… I still haven’t read the books so I know next to nothing about what’s going to happen in Mockingjay Part 2, except a certain couple of deaths; but I have a feeling I’m going to be very upset about the entire movie. *sigh* I don’t even know why I inflict this series on myself…

I also saw Age of Ultron again. HAWKEYE!! 😀 No, I’m not going to shut up about him; he’s just the best, okay? Don’t deny it.

Star Wars Youtube Stuff

starwars7posterI saw two Star Wars things recently, so that gets its own category this round of Ishness. 😉 Have you seen the new trailer for Star Wars Episode VII (The Force Awakens) yet?? It is HERE and looks amazing.

And it’s not new, but I only just saw it and thought it was funny enough to share if you haven’t seen it: a Star Wars Episode I (The Phantom Menace) parody of the song American Pie. It’s really funny.

Reading

I read nothing in October.

I know, I know, you’re probably as shocked as David Tennant… And so am I. But my month was SO insane I had positively no time to read. I was going to read a very long book for review (that I happen to be EXTREMELY excited about. I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for a year now) and didn’t get to it and consequently got to nothing else.

So. No books. It’s sad.

Writing

Mostly my writing this month was (trying to) plot The Silver Forest. And getting distracted by Tare from my Kedran’s Wood series (because he has no sense of timing) and ending up plotting his series as well accidentally, and being informed there’s yet another novella in the series, bringing it up to 9 stories. Also Teague, from The Other Half of Everything, who has, if possible, an even WORSE sense of timing, tried to distract me too. So I ended up writing snippets of both of them (not together, though; thank goodness).

R&RI also did some writing of (my possible Rooglewood Press contest entry) The Rose and the Raven, bringing its total up to 5k words, as I believe I mentioned. It’s currently on hold (perhaps indefinitely…. I don’t even know right now. But I can’t focus on anything besides NaNo at the moment).

My total words for October was about 3000. Which, for the month before NaNo and considering the insanity, I’m calling a win.

October Snippets

For fun, here are some snippets of The Other Half of Everything, and of Tare and friends. In which Teague makes it his life goal to turn Meridian into a bookworm, and Tare makes spicy tea.

The Other Half of Everything

    Teague sighed as if he carried the burden of the world on his shoulders, and stood up. “My new life goal is to turn you into a bookworm. Preferably of fantasy. Read this.” He held out a book with a plain brown cover.
    “What?” I said.
    “Read it,” he repeated.
    “Why would I want to read a book?” I protested.
    “Pretend it’s a movie.”
    I gave him a look. Then I tried again. “Why would I want to read this book?”
    “Because I am selflessly lending it to you. What do you do when people are kind enough to lend you things?”
    “Normally I put them carefully on a shelf and then do my homework,” I said without thinking, forgetting momentarily that I had graduated.
    “And then?”
    “And then I procrastinate over doing them until the last second before I have to give them back, because I never actually want to do them and am just being polite.”
    Teague gave me look of mild disbelief. “Polite? You?”
    I leaned forward slightly, looking him squarely in the eye, and said very seriously in a lowered voice as if it was a secret: “Are you talking to a mirror?”
    He pushed the book toward my face and I was forced to grab it as he dropped it—which apparently he knew I would do. Infuriating. Then he turned and started crossing the room. “Just read the book.”
    “Again: why?” I asked his retreating back.
    “It’s homework,” he said over his shoulder.
    “Homework?” I repeated.
    Teague spun halfway round. “Yes. Because I am your employer and I said to read it.” There may have been a glint in his eye.
    “You’re evil.”
    “Nope. Just your employer. And are you not listening? I said this was my new life goal. It would be extremely considerate of you to go along with it, you know.”
    I shook my head and gave up. It was too ridiculous. “If you say so, ‘boss’.”
    “ ‘Teague’, thanks,” he corrected as he sailed off through the door back to his writing.

***

A series of loud thumps proceeded from the direction of the kitchen. Then silence.

“I don’t want to know what that was!” I called.

“Remarkably wise of you,” Teague called back.

“I still don’t want to know what that was!” I warned.

“That’s probably for the best.”

***

Mixup at Kedran’s Wood (KW 2.5 novella)

Tare leaned over and poked the fire in the hearth with the poker. “Anyone want some tea?” he asked.
    They sat in stunned silence, blinking at him, until he finally looked over his shoulder at them.
    “Some what?” Ivy demanded.
    “Tea,” Tare repeated with a flat look. “You know—that thing that people drink.” There was a strong note of sarcasm behind it.
    “But why would—?” Lavender began, trying to understand why Tare was talking about tea or why he would have any.
    “Because it’s there,” Tare cut in, exasperated, “and I thought I’d offer you some. Have it if you want.” He flapped a hand in the direction of the table. “Otherwise, forget it.” And he dropped into a chair.
    Now that they looked where he had waved, they saw the brown tea pot crouched on the table among the other stuff, steam curling upward from the spout.
    “Did it not come in black?” Baz teased.
    Tare tilted his head with a fake and humorless smile. “Haha.”
    Marie poured some of the hot tea into a few brown ceramic cups and handed them around.
    “Ooh, cinnamon!” Baz said happily, staring into his cup.
    Tare sent him a weird look. “There’s . . . no cinna—”
    But Baz had taken his first sip, and started to cough. After a cautious sip from each of the others, most of them were coughing too. Tare just looked at them all like he couldn’t figure them out.
    Adrian grinned. “Come on, guys, it can’t be that bad.” Adrian took one large gulp, choked, coughed several times, and managed to splutter, “What is in that?”
    Tare gave him a hard stare. “I told you. It’s tea.”
    “That’s not tea, that’s dragon fire in a cup!” Jake gasped, clutching at his throat.
    “Well excuse me for not noticing the dragon when I was making it. I guess I need to work on my observation skills.”
    “No, really, what is it?” Marie asked.
    “It’s ginger tea,” Tare answered, nonplussed.
    “No way—what else?” Adrian said.
    Tare shrugged. “Lemon and honey . . .” He paused as if thinking. “And cayenne pepper.”
    “Seriously?” Ivy exclaimed
    “Oh my goodness,” Lavender managed.
    “Is that what the little floaty red specks were—not cinnamon?” Baz squealed indignantly.
    “What is wrong with you that you would ruin perfectly good tea like that?” Marie said.
    “And then feed it to your friends,” Adrian added.
    “Maybe he wanted a good laugh,” Jake said.
    “Maybe he wanted to kill us,” Baz put in.
    “Maybe, I’m neither laughing nor killing anyone and don’t understand what is wrong with you that you are all dying on me over some tea.” Tare folded his arms.

What’s Next?

SilverForestCoverFinalSo that’s what was up in October. As for November, well, as you may guess I’m very busy writing! If you’re doing NaNo and would like to be buddies on the site, you can find me here. 🙂

I don’t know how “around” I’ll be online this month, but never fear — I’ve scheduled some posts of some old writings of mine on the blog this month so that I won’t entirely forget and abandon y’all. Hope you’ll enjoy them!

And good luck on whatever your plans are, especially all you NaNoers! (Only because you may need more “good lucks” than less insane people. 😉 ) YOU CAN DO IT!

Meantime, I’d best get going on filling this November with some Ishness of its own.

I’m off into the Silver Forest. I may get lost on the way, but it’s bound to be interesting all the same. See you on the other side…

(And I’m just going to leave you with this thing I made, even though only Leverage fans will get it…)

Splintered: A Thor/Loki Fanfic

(Notes:

This, like my Hawkeye fanfiction, was a dream I had and then wrote down. If it’s weird, that’s why…

I wrote this back when I had only seen “The Avengers” and hadn’t yet seen either of the Thor movies… so I didn’t know Thor used to grin in Thor 1, and hadn’t seen Loki’s hair like it was in the dungeon scene in Thor 2.

These characters don’t belong to me, obviously, but to Marvel.

Pictures from Pinterest.

This is just for fun.

Hope you enjoy.)

“Splintered”
A Thor and Loki Fanfiction

by
Deborah O’Carroll

Starring
an Old House
a Random Girl (that’s me)
and
Thor and Loki from the Marvel Movies


974dd788523f19b1affc1d42aeccf977I walked gingerly along the half-finished floor of a room in the big old wooden house that was under repair, trying to find safe footholds on the rickety boards that I feared might snap under my weight. Whoever was fixing this place wasn’t doing a very good job.

But hopefully Thor, who was following my lead, would catch me if I fell. Come to think of it, why wasn’t the so-called floor merely falling apart beneath his weight? He probably weighed a ton.

I swiveled to see how he was faring in our crossing of the room.

Thor was walking easily, his fair hair and silvery armor dulled in the faint light, his dark clothes blending with the shadows, and his red cloak swaying after him as he strode along, finding the solid beams beneath the floorboards.

As he went, he glanced down and absently poked at a board with his boot. The piece of wood snapped and fell away. He kicked another and it met the same fate.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He glanced at me. In his serious and strong-jawed face, dusted with golden stubble, there suddenly flashed what if I hadn’t known better I would have thought was a gleam of malicious intent. It looked more like an expression his brother Loki–who was in the back yard and who we were on our way to find–might make, than anything that would cross the face of Thor under normal circumstances.

(That’s as close to devious as I could find. Thor just doesn’t make devious faces, y’all…)

Saying nothing, he leaned over and started deliberately breaking the floorboards with his hands, in a way that jeopardized my currently safe footing.

“No,” I said, as I stepped hastily backward, and then “nonononono!” in one long word with five short syllables as the boards under me caved in partly so that I fell backward and slid halfway between them. I ended up lying on my back at the bottom of the slanting wood; if I moved the wrong way, I would slide down under the house.

Thor kept coming toward me, leaping lightly from beam to beam, tearing up boards. With his hammer, he could probably have demolished the entire house in three seconds flat, but fortunately he did not have it with him. Apparently he was in a mood for leisurely destruction.

Something was clearly wrong with him.

With some little difficulty, I scrambled out of my precarious position and streaked across the room as quickly as the treacherous floor would allow. I dashed out a side door and I found myself outside on a sort of balcony-porch—only half-finished like most of the house—that was several feet above the ground and didn’t have any steps yet.

I turned toward the back-yard and made a call for help to the only person for miles who might be able to do something.

“Loki!” I yelled.

A short silence followed. I could still hear Thor shattering the floor inside. Then the thin smooth face, sharp nose, and long sleek black hair (spiky in the back) of Loki appeared just above the side of the balcony’s floor, where he had apparently climbed up.

“What,” he said, more in annoyance than inquiry, as he pulled himself higher.

“Help,” I squeaked, barely suppressing an exclamation mark, in a sort of sheepish but panicked plea. Loki was the last person I could imagine going to for help.

Apparently he thought the same thing. His face held a blank and incredulous look as he tilted his head slightly to one side and blinked his shifty eyes at me as though trying to grasp the idea.

Louder crashing ensued from inside.

“Thor’s breaking things!” I wailed.

“Ah.” The questioning look cleared and Loki vaulted himself over the edge of the balcony up to where I stood, his green cloak swishing, and went inside through the doorway I had left by.

Careful to stay away from the area I had been in before, I hurried inside the house another way to find the people who lived in the more completed rooms. I paused in a doorway, unable to go further due to a rift in the floor, and found them in a hurried state, trying to leave. With good reason. Thor’s previous noises paled to nothing in comparison to the catastrophic smashing that now came from the far end of the house, the tell-tale signs of a fight between Thor and Loki.

“Girls!” the mother called. She was a tall thin woman in grey, with wispy blond hair pulled up into a bun on the back of her head.

Her three daughters scampered from the other room where they had apparently been grabbing coats, and began following her out, along with their two dogs who were barking frenziedly at the sounds of the battle.

(In the dream, the mom was Mrs. Everdeen from Hunger Games)

(And two of the girls were Bard’s daughters from The Hobbit movies)

In her haste, the oldest daughter, dark-haired and wearing blue, dropped a pail she was carrying, and it slid down a sloping board.

“Bucket, bucket,” she said, running after it to fetch it back, while the mother called for her to leave it and hurry, herding the two younger girls with blond curls out the door. But the older girl retrieved it quickly and all four of them quickly exited the house, the two dogs following half-heartedly as though torn between going with them and staying to bark at the strangers who were breaking the house.

As I was about to go back out the way I had come, the floor suddenly gave way beneath me—chain reaction from the next room, I supposed—and for the next several minutes I was engaged in trying to clamber my way out from a tangle of broken wood. During that time, things got oddly quiet except for the one dog, who had stayed and was still barking.

I couldn’t find any sort of proper footing on what used to be the first floor, so I clambered up more wreckage to a sort of attic area. It was dark up there, and piled with stuff, but I managed to find a place to stand at the edge of the gaping hole that used to be the ceiling of what had once been the room Thor and Loki had been fighting in.

The dog barked still, and I heard the oldest girl, who must have come back for it, telling the dog, “Be quiet—you’ll wake him!” The dog quieted and apparently left with the girl, for there was silence.

Wake him? I scanned the dark attic anxiously, the words “Waken a sleeping giant . . .” running through my head. It was hard to see in the dark, but I gradually made out a mattress by one wall with a pile of blankets tumbled on top. They shifted, and a pair of boots stuck out at one end suddenly. The person under the blankets moved again and the coverings fell away, showing Thor curled up under his scarlet cloak, apparently napping after his fight.

Not wanting to wake him in case he still had any smashing feelings left, and wondering where Loki was, I tried to tiptoe quietly away.

Despite my efforts, the floor creaked. Thor stirred, flicked his cloak to one side and sat up, stretching his arms over his head. Then he glanced over at me. His mane of blond hair was all pushed back instead of falling to both sides of his face as usual, and he smiled.

“Greetings,” he said in his deep rumble of a voice.

“I’ll just be leaving,” I said.

“What, no kiss to commemorate my victory?” he jested, grinning again. A big grin on him was so weird . . . He stretched again and the movement caused the floorboards to quake a little.

I felt my portion of the floor begin to teeter—I was about to fall.

“Eheh,” I said, grinning skittishly at Thor as I tried to regain my balance and not panic and plummet to my death. “Loki!” I hissed urgently in a furious whisper in the general direction of where the shattered room used to be. Where was he?

Thor looked in that direction as though he saw something.

Loki!” I yelled again.

Loki’s head and shoulders appeared, poking up above the edge of the hole in the floor, his black hair no longer sleeked back and instead hanging forward over his ears from the fight. It struck me that I had never seen his hair like that before.

Thor and Loki faced each other, opposites—Thor with his fair hair pushed back, and grinning, Loki with his dark hair hanging down, and serious-looking. They both looked so different than they usually did, just with their changes of expression and what their hair was doing.

“I win,” Thor said in his deep voice, still smirking.

“You usually do,” Loki’s more flute-like voice said. I blinked. That was an uncharacteristically truthful and non-competitive thing for him to say . . . He turned to me, casting a brief look at his brother and saying with mock-weariness, “Let us be going before he knocks down the entire building.”

He lent me some balance with his arm so I could get off the unsafe part of the floor, and we exited through a far-window, leaving a still-grinning Thor watching us leave, reclining in comfort on a mound of pillows. We climbed back down onto the unfinished balcony. As soon as we were standing there safely, I turned and stared at Loki.

“What is going on?” I said.

“We have to go and find out why he’s being so petty and violent and foolish—it’s out of his character,” Loki said, looking thoughtful.

Thor is acting out of character? I thought. Then what about you? Normally Loki would have enjoyed calling his brother those things, and grinned the whole time.

(“Wait… what?”)

“And we have to find out why you’re acting so serious and noble,” I said as a test.

I expected Loki to blink and suddenly realize he’d been acting like his brother, and shake his head and say, “Oh, is that what I’ve been doing. It’s a repulsive feeling.” Then he would suddenly flash his brilliant grin with all his white teeth and sleek his black hair back, saying, “You know what? You go on ahead. I’m staying right here.” And then he would leap back inside, from where further fighting noises would shortly ensue.

Instead he paused, tilting his head and raising an eyebrow. “And that,” he agreed. Then he blinked and shook his head slightly as if thinking that’s not right, and half remembering . . . but he couldn’t seem to grasp it. He blinked again and shrugged.

“Loki,” I said, almost saying ‘Thor’. “I think someone switched out your personalities with each other.”

“I think you’re right,” Loki said. “Come, we must solve this.”

He strode toward the end of the balcony and I followed him.