Writing Update! (New Steampunk + Tare Snippets)

Hey, friends!

SO. I haven’t talked much about my writing projects in awhile, and since I actually have Exciting Progress Things to report, I thought I’d pop in and let you know how things are going over on the writing desk and share about my new projects! (And share some snippets. Because snippets.)

The Siren and the Skyship (S&S): first draft — finished!

As you may know, once upon a time (last November), I finished writing the first draft of The Siren and the Skyship, my steampunk-fantasy Little Mermaid Not-Little Cloud-Siren Prince retelling. It took me a smidge over a year to write it (starting it one NaNo and finishing it the next, with some writing in-between) and I had an absolute blast with it!

I had intended to dive into the sequel not long after that, but instead got sidetracked trying to finish a different book, namely . . .

The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2): first draft — finished!

Somewhere around 2:30 a.m. on April 30/May 1st, I finished writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (affectionately known as KW2), which is the second book in a contemporary fantasy series.

Guys.

I. FINISHED. KW2.

(Okay, so I realize I mentioned this in my last Ishness, but IT BEARS REPEATING.)

It took me just over 5 years to write this, and it’s a massive 145K, but I’m just so ecstatic to have reached the end of this one! It’s been my constant background writing companion, interspersed with other things, throughout the past half-decade, and I’m not sure exactly what to do now that it’s over?? It was so rewarding to get to pound out the last few chapters — messily, but so much fun. XD

Also, writing a wintry, Christmas-y scene in April/May isn’t what I was planning on, but it works. *shrug*

Finishing, Y’all

Finishing a draft is such a rush of amazing feelings.

I hadn’t finished a novel in quite awhile, between spreading myself too thin across various writing projects, working on short stories, and blogging/online presence stuff.

So it was beyond incredible to get to finish two projects I’ve adored working on, within six months of each other. It provided such a boost to my writing enthusiasm, and I feel on top of the clouds! (Literally, with my steampunk-fantasy series. XD)

Next Up . . .

So, what now?

I’ve been working on S&S and KW2 for a long time now and not much else, so it was a really weird feeling to not have either of them to write! O_O

Mixup at Kedran’s Wood (KW2.5) novella: WIP

. . . Which is why I turned around and started writing a between-books novella (set a few months after KW2) a week after I finished KW2. XD

I’m currently about two chapters in and having a blast just working on a smaller, fun project!

Short version: Tare and Adrian having a buddy story while looking like each other. Bwahaha. 😀

Spring comes to Kedran’s Wood and brings with it a series of mishaps, both magical and ordinary. Tare battles a cold (to the astonishment of the Chess Club, who somehow feel he should be immune to ordinary human complaints), and Adrian and Tare run into a magical scrape with chaotic consequences: They accidentally switch appearances. Attempting to live each other’s lives is hard enough for even a day. They’ll have to work together, despite their differences, if they’re going to get out of this one.

I don’t have a pinterest board for it specifically, but here’s the board for the series in general.

Siren and the Skyship sequel: plotting

Meanwhile, I’m trying to wrangle the plot of my next major project, which is hopefully going to be S&S2.

I’ve tentatively decided that since book 1 is going to need a massive overhaul/rewrite anyway, I may as well dash out rough drafts of the two sequels. Since, apparently, they’re going to be tightly knit together, instead of semi-standalones like I was originally intending. Heh.

SO. It’s high time for me to introduce this one to you! At the moment it’s a mess of exciting ideas but hasn’t formed into a solid plot.

I’ll share a blurb in a second, but first, if you want some pretties, you can check out my pinterest board! It started as a board for The Siren and the Skyship and I’ve just been adding S&S2 stuff to it more recently, so you can find that here.

Introducing . . .

*drumroll*

The Skythief and the Secret Tower (S&S2 for short)

The short version: Steampunk-fantasy Jack and the Beanstalk meets Snow White in Rapunzel. (At least loosely. XD)

A young sky pirate named Keller teams up with a girl called Ebony from a stone pillar with hidden secrets and a magic mirror, to pull off the ultimate heist. Stealing from the dragons has never been easy, and neither is evading the pirate king to whom Keller owes forced allegiance — especially when Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley, Royal Skynavy captain, is hot on Keller’s trail, in search of the stolen crown jewels which are the only way to stop a war. If he doesn’t manage the mission the pirate king sent him on, Keller could lose everything, but if he succeeds, he could release the worst threat to the sky world. Despite his smooth-talking, thievery skills, and power to control plants, Keller may have finally hit the end of the line. This skythief’s heart isn’t the only thing that might be stolen from him.

…That’s a working summary, so I have no idea how it will actually turn out, given that my plotting is an unfocused mess and currently looks like this.

My favorite Scapple (relation of Scrivener) plotting software! Currently dropping all my ideas in and making a mess. XD

More factoids!

  • Book 2 of my Sky Voyages steampunk-fantasy fairytale-retelling trilogy
  • Loosely inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Snow White
  • MC is a blond sky pirate by the name of Keller, who has plant powers
  • Continues to feature plot-threads with characters from the first book (Princess Tasmania, Rook, etc. — ALL MY FAVORITE CHARACTERSSS)
  • Used to be book 3 and then switched places with the one I knew more about, so that one is now book 3 and this one is book 2, which is understandably causing my brain confusions. XD
  • Is giving me a dreadful time of it trying to wrangle said plot threads
  • Heroine (who is Rapunzel/Snow White) refuses to tell me much about herself which is naturally making it difficult to plot
  • URGH
  • But also I’m REALLY REALLY EXCITED
  • Especially after writing up that blurb. 😀

Ahem. Anyway, there are EXCITING THINGS going on, even if I’m having a spot of difficulty figuring the plot out. XD


So that’s what’s up on the writing front!

Short Tare scribbling and attempted-plot-wrangling of The Skythief and the Secret Tower. I’m really excited about both of these! Even if I don’t have a lot of time to spend on either, due to life and the fact that I should switch to prepping for Realm Makers. 😛

But just sharing about them is making me MORE EXCITED! So hurray! Maybe I’ll be motivated to sneak some progress in on these when I can. 🙂


Snippets!

Ah, yes, I did promise snippets!

Since I recently finished KW2, it seems like a good time to share a few of those, and maybe one from the story I’m currently working on. 😉

All the best lines are spoilers (whyyy?? Answer: because I was near the end of the book, which is spoiler-rich territory) but I managed to find a few fun ones that aren’t. XD

(I know that they mostly feature Baz and Tare. I equally apologize and don’t apologize for this fact. Baz = humor, Tare = awesome, which means they’re in most of the snippets I want to share, naturally. :P)

Snippets from KW2 (The Secret of Kedran’s Wood)

“Where are we going?”

“To get pizza,” Baz said firmly.

Tare raised one eyebrow. “Because?”

“Pizza doesn’t need a reason. Don’t question pizza,” Baz replied.

***

“I hate to break it to you, but not everything is your fault, Tare,” Ivy said.

***

“Like a secret society.”

Baz shrugged. “We’re not very secret. Open books—that’s us.”

“Speak for yourself. I’m a closed book. Locked. And written in code,” Ivy said, tossing her red hair over her shoulder.

Baz blinked. “No fair—why didn’t I think of that!”

***

Tare’s last thoughts before the world went dark were that he hated magic, and that he couldn’t pass out because the Chess Club were in danger and he had to find them.

***

“So, my family’s kind of rich and important; don’t judge.”

“Not judging,” Tare said briefly.

Baz blinked, surprised. “Oh. Thanks.”

“Any time,” Tare said dryly. “As long as there are no puns involved.”

“Talking through bars kind of imprisons my sense of humor,” Baz said.

***

And Tare was tied up on the floor, which pretty much signaled the apocalypse.

Possibly literally.

***

“You know, looking around your home, no one would be able to tell it was Christmas next week,” Adrian said. “You should decorate.”

Tare raised a sarcastic eyebrow, looking over his shoulder as he opened the door. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been a bit too busy to decorate.”

“No, we didn’t notice at all,” Ivy said innocently, following him out onto the porch.

“Well, what do you think we’re for?” Baz exclaimed. “We can decorate your house.”

“Don’t you dare touch my house.”

Baz, passing through the doorway, deliberately reached one finger out and touched the wall.

Tare spread his arms in a “why me?” posture and gave Baz a disbelieving look. “Really? Are you five?”

***

“As someone who is very definitely not a football,” Baz gasped out in his version of defiance, “I resent being thrown around.”

***

Tare’s blood boiled momentarily before turning to frigid ice as he coolly stepped out and pointed a pistol at them. “Let him go,” Tare said.

Adrian looked up at the sound of his voice and the others jerked to see him. The one who had just punched Adrian—a fair-haired young man not like the two red-heads—drew back and went for his gun.

Tare leveled his own toward him. His voice was iron. “I wouldn’t.”

***

Baz raised one hand. “I, for one, have all my ribs broken, buuut yeah, I’m fine.”

Lavender leaned her head on his shoulder, and Baz didn’t object at all.

Adrian rolled his eyes. “They’re bruised, not broken, Baz. Don’t be a baby.”

***

“Well,” Baz said, “welcome to the Chess Club, officially. Now you know why we don’t play chess as often as we might, because what we actually do is lead a double life of fighting monsters and evil faeries and saving the world and all of that—”

“Speak for yourself,” Tare muttered.

“—and when we’re finished we limp home if we’re alive and laugh about it and wonder why superheroes think this is fun.” He grinned.

***

Tare paused. “Did I just agree with Baz?”

Ivy rolled her eyes theatrically. “The world is ending after all.”

And one from KW2.5

Tare smirked and kept backing as he turned to leave. “Don’t worry. I don’t get colds.”

*

“Really, Tare? You had to say it,” Tare remarked to the underside of his bed canopy as he lay staring up at it.

Tare woke feeling like death.

Which, considering how often he had gotten close to actually dying through the course of his life, was silly, since he wasn’t very close to it this time, and merely had a nasty cold.


And there we are! What do you think? About . . . any of it! My steampunk story, or the snippets . . . I’d love to hear! Thanks for reading! ^_^

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Snippets + Snow + Superheroes: Feb. Ishness!

Oh, hi! It seems to be March.

. . .

Yeah, no clue how that happened.

Anyway, for once I have an Ishness concerning the month, so let’s see what I was up to in February, shall we?

WRITING

I unfortunately still seem to be in a huge writing slump, which I’ve been stuck in since NaNo ended . . . But I’ve also been very busy, so oh well.

I did manage to scribble an odd thousand words this last month, still limping along with KW2 and trying to finish, and random Sky Voyages series snippets.

Speaking of which, I’ve been doing some plotting for the sequel to The Siren and the Skyship, so that’s fun. 😀 I’ll chat about that in another post.

So yep, not a lot going on in the writing arena. Essentially, I’m busy, Tare is stalling (or I’m stalling him; honestly not sure which right now), and Keller of S&S2 is all “Well, if no one else is going to then I may as well take center stage HI!”

March looks exhaustingly busy so we’ll see what writing or lack thereof occurs. But I may have to take Drastic Measures if writing doesn’t happen soon.

SNIPPETS

Oh, hey! I haven’t shared any snippets in awhile. 😀 So here, have a few.

“Stay out of my head,” Tare snarled.

[spoiler redacted]’s eyes were cold in his carven face. “Make me.

***

(This snippet is actually from book 3 but I’m not supposed to be there yet. XD)

Rook sighed. “We all make mistakes. Both of us have done things we can’t take back, but we can’t run forever.”

“Maybe you can’t. I’ll do what I need to do. I betrayed everything I believed in.”

“So did I,” Rook said harshly. “You can’t even begin to know—” He broke off.

***

(I’m enjoying Meridian interacting with Teague’s brother Ivan. XD)

“When you get out, tell Teague to take Lulin and get out of here.”

I snorted. “He won’t do it.”

“Why not? He’d be an idiot not to.”

“Because he cares about you, you great lump!”

Ivan gave a little humorless bark of laughter. “You don’t know anything.”

“I know more than you two do! And you care about him too—admit it.”

Ivan mutinously tilted his nose off toward a corner. “No. Nothing of the sort.”

“Honestly!” I threw up my hands. “You are impossible. Both of you!”

READING

(In reverse order, from my Goodreads Reading Challenge)

So, I love how I’ve got these sweeping gorgeous covers with somber tones and then suddenly . . . Fortunately, the Milk. XD

Anyway, these were all varying levels of fun! (Except for The Gilded Wolves which Disappointed Me. I gave it one star. *shifty eyes*)

My absolute favorite was Beneath the Haunting Sea — gorgeous! I first met it pitched as The Silmarillion meets Jane Austen and just . . . yep. It took me a little while to get into it and the beginning is super different than the rest, but once she got to the mysterious old house I was totally in! 😀

Smol (ish) reviews on Goodreads:

Speaking of reviews, here are a couple of reviews I shared on my book blog this last month, for books that make me happy! ^_^

I also lurk on Instagram a lot. XD

WATCHING

  • I finally saw The Incredibles! I know. I’m . . . a little late on that one. XD It was sooo much fun, and now I need to see the sequel.
  • Despicable Me 3 was okay; the second was the best. 😛
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas — Yep, finally saw this one too, despite the nonseasonalness of February. I vaguely suspect it was not historically accurate, but it was a lot of fun. Because writers. XD And A Christmas Carol. And yep.
  • Black Panther — I’m only centuries late on this one. XD Super enjoyable! (Though from all the hype I had expected more?) And yes, I liked his sis. 😛 Also, Bilbo and Gollum were great. XD
  • Antman and the Wasp — Also great fun! 😀

I also got to see a PLAY! Which was loads of fun. It was Peter and the Starcatcher (based on a book which I read ages ago and didn’t love due to its explaining-away-prequel-ness, but for some reason liked the play more). Aside from a few quibbles, I reeeally enjoyed it. 😀 Plays are just so much fun (this was only my second one ever!) and the actors did a fantastic job—particularly Peter’s, who was SO Peter-ish, and the villain, who was absolutely hilarious. XD

LISTENING

I was super happy to get back to listening to audiobooks. It’s a new thing I was trying and it’s working out SO splendidly. I’m so happy!

I finished listening to Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and had LOADS of fun—it’s like my daily half-hour TV show in my earbuds while I do exercising. There are parts of the book I don’t care for, naturally, but on the whole it was just so fun, and I quite enjoyed the narrator, and the snark and character stuff was gold. XD

I’m currently in withdrawal because I haven’t managed to get to the library for Cress so I’m missing Cinder and Thorne and everyone . . .

There has been a Suspicious Lack of Exercising ever since I ran out of Scarlet to listen to, which may be connected to the cold I caught at the same time, or may just be me missing my Lunar exercise buddies. ❤

***

I think there was also music consumed, but I don’t recall what any of it was. Probably more Tide Lines and definitely themesongs for my Siren and the Skyship sequel (which I really should introduce to y’all!).

LIFE

Life things included:

  • Going to a couple of writers workshops.
  • Starting a new schedule/routine which has been incredibly helpful for productivity and which I need to get back to. (As soon as I pick up Cress . . . *cough*)
  • Much copyediting/proofreading work has been keeping me busy and happy.
  • Caught a cold; yay. So lovely. At least it was minor?
  • A library sale also happened which makes up for the cold because BOOKS.
  • The weather has been INSANE, ranging from high-70s suitable for lounging in the grass and reading, to super-cold and we actually got SNOW. (Only a smidge and didn’t stick around very long but it was so awesome! And was in the same week as the super warm days. So. Yeah.) It can’t seem to make up its mind and is playing roller-coaster.

Snow and a snow-ish book! Which you should go read ASAP if you haven’t. ❤

MARCH PLANS

I have a lot of life projects piling up on me that I need to deal with so I’m currently panicking over here. *curls up in shock blanket* But hopefully I can still find time for reading and writing and blogging, since there are many of all such things I want to do. 😛

Still, there are also exciting things going on, what with it being my birthday month and especially with March Magics!

For those who don’t know, March Magics is a celebration, around the interwebs, of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett. The theme this time is re-reading old favorites (yesss!) and there’s also a readalong for The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett and Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, both of which I plan to join in on. 😀

I’ll be doing a post on my book blog about March Magics and other Book Ishness, but I’m waiting on a trip to the library to hopefully pick up a couple of books before I share my TBR stacks . . . (Wee Free Men and Cress, wait for meeee.)

Meanwhile, for more info, check out the host’s blog and feel free to join in around social media with the hashtags #MarchMagics and #DWJMarch — it’s going to be so much fun!

***

Whew! So that’s what I’ve been up to.

How about you? And are you ready for it to be March or at least spring? Also, thoughts on the snippets and books and films? And do you “read” audiobooks?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a magical March! (See what I did there? *cough*)

Know the Novel: Writing and Beyond (Siren and the Skyship & Tare)

It’s time for another Know the Novel post — hurray! The third and final in a series of writer linkups from my dear blogging buddy Christine @ Musings of an Elf!

You can check it out here and read my two previous installments here and here.

Once again, I’m answering with The Siren and the Skyship (S&S; my YA steampunk-fantasy Little Merman novel) and The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2; wintry contemporary fantasy), since those are what I was writing for NaNo and they’re the only things my brain has been thinking about. (*pretends this is true and casually pushes aside other jealous novels who are looking over my shoulder waiting for their turn*)

Onward to the questions!

1. Firstly, how did writing this novel go all around?

S&S: Considering that I wrote it in about a year, which is fast for me, and that I actually got to the end, SPLENDIDLY. Though, on the other hand, it kept switching directions, which is going to make the rewriting a total headache. But I can’t really complain because each time it changed, it got so much more awesome. Overall, I totally loved writing it! It was fun almost the entire time and I had an absolute BLAST writing this thing!

KW2: I . . . don’t know for sure since I still haven’t finished it. *hangs head in shame* I’ve written nearly a thousand words since NaNo but have just been too busy to write these last couple of chapters and finish! But overall it seems to have gone pretty okay, other than taking years to write and wanting to be written out of order and stuff. XD Still, it’s been fun because I love these characters!

2. Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome?

S&S: I really don’t know because I haven’t had a chance to look at it since finishing. And I know it’s a terrifying mess and needs to be seriously rewritten. XD I think I’m pretty pleased, though. It’s just a rough draft so I’ll know more once I get to the rewriting stage. *hides* I think the main thing I’m surprised about is that I thought it would be basically a standalone, wrapping up most things, with the two sequels just following other characters we’ve met. UM. AHAHA. NO. There’s a whole lot left hanging and the books are so interlocked now and eeeee I’m really excited!

KW2: Again, can’t quite answer this since I haven’t finished. And given that I originally thought it would be a small holiday novella, and it’s currently at 120K+ and not quite finished, I’d say it turned out quite different. XD I do wish the plot would cooperate more and that the villains weren’t hiding all their villainous secrets until the end, though. Ahem.

3. What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.)

S&S: CHARACTERS. I adore them all and they’ve been so much fun to write. Although, actually, the setting takes a close second, because this steampunk fantasy world with rocky pillars and mist and skyships and clockwork dragons and cloud cities IS MY FAVORITE.

KW2: Definitely Tare and the Chess Club. ❤ I love them so much.

4. How about your least favorite part?

S&S: I don’t know if I have a least favorite part of the writing. It was just fun, I tell you!

KW2: I don’t know… All the times I got stuck, I suppose. XD

5. What do you feel like needs the most work?

S&S: ALL OF IT. *collapses* Probably the main plot-lines of Auren and Tasmania, and just fitting everything together properly. The fact that it kept changing hugely as I wrote it, and then I’d keep writing as if I’d fixed it, has made it quite the patchwork story. It’s going to need a ton of work. But I’m excited too, because I love it so much and can’t wait to rewrite it to its full potential!

KW2: The length, the meandering plot, and the villains not being active enough. All due to thinking it was going to be a novella and then it got huge. XD And the fact that I hardcore hoarded plot-reveal-secrets. At the moment I just want to finish and get on to the next adventure, though! I’m writing this one for fun so at the moment I’m learning what I can but not bothering too much about making it The Perfect Novel — yet.

6. How do you feel about your characters now that the novel is done? Who’s your favorite? Least favorite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!

S&S: I lurve themmm. My favorite would be Rook (haha. Don’t be too surprised, everyone . . . *cough*), BUT I have so many other favorites too! Like Tasmania and Gerias. Xasper, Rook’s little brother, surprised me by being so fun and sneaky. Noya surprised me by being kind of tense and awesome. Tasmania’s twin brothers surprised me by gaining their own personalities and being totally different — like how Durward apparently loves food. XD And Auren and Keller have surprised me by being totally different than I thought they were, which is awkward, given that they’re the main characters of books 1 and 2 and I kind of have to rewrite them now. 😛 As for least-favorite . . . we can give that one to Captain Haversham, Rook’s new boss, who is blackmailing him and is TOTALLY SLIMY. Okay, and the Sorcerer of the Mist, because eek.

KW2: I kind of don’t make any secret of the fact that Tare is my favorite character. 😉 I do have new favorite characters but they’re spoilers. The Chess Club are fun, of course, and I really liked getting to do more with Adrian and Ivy — love them! And how Lavender is kind of almost like a little-sister for Tare and slkdjflkdj she kind of looks after him and it’s the cutest. Least favorite would be Greg — yeesh. I think I was surprised how Harold “Perfect-Teeth” was less straight-up villain than I thought; like, he’s a jerk but he’s kind of mild about it. Or maybe it’s just the comparison with Greg. And both the new characters are surprising me a bit, just because I hadn’t met them before. And I had no idea Robin would be quite so bouncy. XD Also there’s a side character who is like “by the way, there’s something up with me” and I’m like “excuse me, you only just arrived and there’s only like two chapters left so there can’t possibly be anything at all up with you; and anyway you’re not important” and said character is like “fine, I’ll just disappear and be a loose thread, then” and I’m like “??? RUDE?” Writing. I tell ya.

7. What’s your next plan of action with this novel?

S&S: Let it sit for awhile while I cry over what a mess it is let it simmer on the back-burner. After that . . . well . . . maybe I’ll start the major mess that is trying to rewrite it? *sound of characters laughing at me* Or possibly move on to writing the sequel instead. *cough* (What? I need to know what happens later so I can make the series make sense . . .)

KW2: FINISH IT. AAAGH. I’m so close. So. close. After that, I don’t know, but I might lowkey move on to sequels on this one too . . .

Thanks, Tare. I did have Christmas, you know. …Aaand you don’t care, do you.

8. If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be?

S&S: Have it re-writtten just right, published with a shiny cover, and sitting on shelves — and people enjoying it. 🙂 Having it be super popular wouldn’t go amiss but is not 100% required. XD

KW2: I don’t even know. Probably having it make sense (*editing sobbing*) and maybe published? I don’t know… This series I just started for fun but in the long run I’d like it to be out there someday. 🙂

9. Share a snippet of one of your most favorite scenes!

S&S:

“Hear that, Durward?” Percival called across Tasmania’s shoulder as their brother walked past them with a crystal glass in one hand and a plate of some kind of pastries in the other.

“Mmm?” Durward said, pausing and turning with eyebrows raised, in mid-chew on something delectable.

Percy repeated the appointment: library, midnight (ish) or as soon as they could get away from the ball, the three of them, talking.

Durward nodded. “Will do. I had my heart set on a night of real sleep, but”—he sighed dramatically—“I can sacrifice it for the good of the country so you can fall asleep at your coronation tomorrow.”

Percy snagged a pastry from Durward’s china plate, saying, “Is that so,” while Tasmania was laughing and trying to say she’d been saying the same thing.

“Now put those down. We need to find you somebody to dance with,” Percival added.

“Not a chance. I’m starving. All that paperwork makes a man hungry.”

“But we have already decided to find you a partner,” Tasmania said.

Durward smiled winningly. “Already have one.”

They paused, blinked, and stared at him in silent questioning.

He gestured with his drink at his plate.

They groaned.

“Food and I. True love. Won’t find me a better.”

“You’ll need to sign on as my cabin boy after this,” Tasmania said mock-seriously.

“And why’s that?” he asked, somehow munching on another pastry while still holding his refreshments in both hands.

“For the exercise, of course. Nothing like climbing rigging to keep a man fit,” Tasmania said innocently.

“You don’t see Percy doing that sort of thing,” Durward remarked placidly.

“You forget that all I’m ever doing is constantly running around after matters of state,” Percy said. “So much exercise. You’d be wise to take Mania up on her offer if you’re set on your true love and all. You’ll get fat sitting behind a desk doing paperwork and doing nothing but eating pastries.”

“Bah,” Durward said cheerfully and ambled off through the crowd.

KW2:

(The Chess Club and Tare are locked down in a cold, dark, underground room.)

Lavender sighed. “I wish we had our phones.”

“Me too,” Ivy said. “We could call Adrian.”

“We could call Mr. Larch,” Marie said.

“We could call both,” Jake added gloomily.

“You could call neither,” Tare said.

They all looked up at him and there were some noses wrinkled in annoyance.

“We were just getting comfortable with light and wishful thinking—don’t rain on our parade!” Baz complained.

“I’m not raining on anyone’s parade,” Tare said. “Just saying. No good. There’s no signal down here.”

“And you know this exactly how?” came Ivy’s skepticism.

Tare reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a shiny black cellphone, which he waved slightly. “Because I checked.”

They were taken aback. “You have a cellphone?” Marie said, catching onto the unspoken question from the others and voicing it for them.

“No, I have a magical box I keep in my pocket which can surf the Internet. Of course I have a cellphone; what’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, but . . . you have a cellphone,” Lavender stammered.

Tare sighed, slipping it back in his pocket. “Not this again.”

“No, really,” Baz said. “How did this happen?”

“Someone gave it to me.”

“Now that I find hard to believe,” Ivy said.

The corner of Tare’s mouth twitched. “Long story.”

10. Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel?

S&S: Draft Zero is still magical. Write in quick scenes like it’s a movie — you don’t have to connect everything because that’s boring. Keep going to the end because it won’t look the same when you get there. And once you get to the end, you’ll know how the rest needs to go.

KW2: I probably learn all sorts of life lessons from writing Tare. XD But a writing lesson I learned the hard way is make sure that big-important-things happen early on and keep happening — don’t hoard plot-reveal-secrets (okay, hoard a few for the end; but sprinkle some throughout!). And don’t write long books. *cough* Also, writing out of order is simultaneously the best and worst life choice ever. XD


I hope you guys enjoyed this look at how the writing went! I don’t know when I’ll find time to finish KW2 but here’s hoping it will be sometime in the next month! Let me know what you think in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading!

Christmas Character Tag: Teague & Meridian & Co.

The awesome Sarah @ Dreams & Dragons tagged me for her original The Christmas Character Tag waaaay back when, and I didn’t get around to it at the time. But I figured, what better time to do it than now? 😉 Thanks so much for the tag, Sarah! ❤

I’m featuring the characters from my WIP The Other Half of Everything: Teague and Meridian, and Teague’s siblings (Ivan and Lulin). Because I’ve been focusing on my steampunk book and Tare lately, and these characters were feeling left out. 😉

And because I’ll take any excuse to let Teague and Meridian take over my blog. 😛 Though this time Ivan and Lulin are joining in the fun.

The first several answers are the characters answering the questions directly, and later it moves on to something more like impromptu scenes I wrote just for this post’s questions.

Consider it kind of like my little Christmas present just for you, my dear bloglings! 🙂

Enjoy!

Rules

1. Acknowledge the person who tagged you. Thanking them is nice, but not necessary. You can be annoyed at them if you like. (Though, if you’re annoyed, why are you doing the tag anyway?)
2. Pick your characters. I advise having several, though not too many. They can all be from the same story, or they can be from different stories. If they’re from different stories, make sure to specify who’s from the same story.
3. Answer the questions. This should be self-explanatory.
4. Tag people. If you want. Don’t tag more people than you have characters in the tag. If you don’t want to tag anyone, you can do that too.
5. Listen to your favorite Christmas song. Because putting the effort in to write a post deserves a reward, my friend!

About the Characters

For those joining us new or who need a quick refresher:

Teague Aurelius: 23. An extremely absentminded author of fantasy who lives in the top floor of a huge old house, where all his rooms are filled with books. May or may not travel to the worlds he writes about.

Meridian Brownley: 17. Narrator of the book The Other Half of Everything (and slightly unreliable, at that) that I’m writing. Housekeeper for Teague. Plays violin and cooks. Doesn’t care about reading. Can’t stand writers. Or fantasy. (Awkward.)

Ivan Aurelius: 21. Black sheep of the family. Doesn’t get along with Teague. Has spiky blond hair and wears black leather and spikes.

Lulin Aurelius: 19. Sometimes playful and seems younger. Other times seems far older than her age and is carrying a secret. Peace-maker between her brothers. Her hair is a white pixie-cut, because of course.

Onward to the…!

Questions

1. If any of your characters are from Earth: what are some of their Christmas traditions? If your characters aren’t from Earth: does their world have an equivalent to Christmas, and if so, how do they celebrate it?

Teague: What an interesting question. What if we do both?

Ivan: We haven’t done a lot with it here in awhile. And that’s… just fine with me. >.>

Lulin: Oh, stop pretending! Anyway, we used to do decorations and all the usual stuff. And in the other worlds there would sometimes be a sort of midwinter feast if we were there around that time — so that was nice. ^_^

Meridian: I usually bake. With Gran. But not really any traditions.

2. Which of your characters gets the most into Christmas? The least? Who gets annoyed at the commercialization, and who doesn’t care because it’s CHRISTMAS?

Lulin: CHRISTMASSSSS!!! *dances around and puts up garlands and gives everyone Christmas sweaters*

Meridian: Hmph. Commercialization. And… yeah. I’m not the hugest Christmas person. The only thing that’s the best about it is the baking.

Ivan: *folds arms and coolly pretends not to care* It’s okay. I guess. *surreptitiously steals cookies*

Teague: *reading* *bewildered* Christmas? What were we talking about? Are there books involved?

3. All the characters try to decorate a Christmas tree together. What happens?

Lulin: More tinsel!

Teague: We could build a tree out of books instead.

Ivan: Guess who can put the most ornaments on the fastest without breaking any.

Meridian: Everyone! Stop! I’m doing it. It has to be perfect.

Everyone: But you don’t care about Christmas!

Meridian: It still has to be perfect!

(Dear reader, we draw a veil over the remainder of this scene and leave you to imagine it, because the chaos is immeasurable.)

4. What’s each character’s favorite Christmas song?

Teague: Silent Night.

Meridian: Any of them that are pretty but played just instrumental so I can hear the melodies.

Teague: Oh. Yes. The musician. You would be like that, I suppose.

Meridian: *wrinkles her nose* At least I didn’t say “none of them.”

Lulin: Carol of the Bells! And Drummer Boy! And… All of them!

Ivan: Last Christmas.

Lulin: What??

Ivan: I’m kidding. I hate that one too. Jingle Bell Rock.

Lulin: DON’T YOU DARE.

Ivan: But with real rock.

Meridian: Why am I not surprised.

5. Can your characters agree on a Christmas movie to watch together? What happens if they try?

Lulin: Elf! Or It’s A Wonderful Life…

Meridian: I don’t really care. Maybe there’s some good cheesy Hallmark movies. Or… not.

Ivan: *groans* Spare us. I’ll be watching Die Hard.

Teague: *mildly* That’s not a Christmas movie.

Ivan: It is so!

Teague: I don’t see why anyone would watch a movie when they could be reading instead… *pulls out long list of Christmas books he intends to read*

The list unfurls and rolls across the floor. Everyone stares at it.

Meridian: Bye. I’ll be baking.

Lulin: *looks at Ivan* Muppet Christmas Carol?

Ivan: You wish.

Teague curls up on the couch to read.

Lulin turns on the Christmas Carol movie.

Ivan pretends he’s not watching but really is.

Delicious smells start wafting from the kitchen…

6. Your characters are going to a White Elephant Gift Exchange; what kind of gift does each one bring? (Or, because I had a different question here originally and forgot to change it before it started circulating, if you prefer you can answer: “Speaking of which, who cries at Christmas movies?”)

Meridian: I don’t care if the rules say not to bring food. I’m bringing stuff I bake. Or some music albums…

Lulin: Something pretty!

Ivan: What if yours goes to a guy?

Lulin: Honestly? I really don’t care. Something pretty.

Ivan: I’m not going so I’m definitely not giving anything.

Teague: There’s only one answer to this, as to most, questions: Books. Possibly one of the ones I wrote…

Ivan: *facepalms* Don’t inflict them with that.

Teague: *coolly* You already said you’re not going, so you don’t have a say in the matter.

(Alternate question “who cries at Christmas movies?” Everyone points at Lulin. She smiles weakly.)

7. What’s each character’s favorite Christmas treat?

Teague: I’m honestly not picky… But chocolate is probably the best, on general principles.

Lulin: Gingerbread! And peppermint hot cocoa.

Meridian: You’re honestly going to make me choose between foods?

Ivan: Candy-canes.

8. Who among your characters likes eggnog? Who thinks it’s disgusting?

Lulin: *wrinkles nose* Eggnog is weird.

Ivan: It’s awesome. Be quiet.

Teague: I haven’t the faintest idea how I feel about it. I’ve never noticed what it tastes like.

Meridian: How could you not notice? It’s gross!

Ivan: Fight me.

Meridian: I think I will.

Lulin: Um…

Teague: Children. Please.

Ivan: What did you just call me??

Lulin: *quickly* Who wants a candy-cane?

9. Who’s meeting who under the mistletoe? Who’s catching those people and teasing them about it forever?

Meridian eyes the mistletoe hanging in the doorway to the Teague’s living-room. “Who put that up there?”

Lulin’s innocent blue eyes stare out from her face framed in a white pixie-cut. “Nobody?”

Meridian grumbles under her breath something about plants belonging outdoors and returns a moment later lugging a ladder usually used to reach books. She pauses.

Teague leans in the doorway reading a book and apparently not paying attention to anyone.

Meridian sighs and leans it against a nearby bookcase. “Teague. Move,” she says. “I need to put a ladder there.”

“Mm?” Teague doesn’t look up.

Meridian waves a hand in his face.

Lulin walks casually behind her and “accidentally” knocks into her. Meridian crashes into Teague, who drops his book and catches her instead, looking down into her eyes.

“Oh, hello, Meridian,” he says with a smile. He looks up at the mistletoe above them and then back at her with laughter in his eyes that indicates he knew right where he was standing all along.

“No you didn’t — !” Meridian begins.

Ivan can be heard snickering around the corner and Lulin gives a peal of merry laughter.

“Fine,” Meridian relents. She pecks Teague’s cheek. “Merry Christmas. I guess.”

Somebody needs to stop being so mushy,” Ivan calls loudly.

“Oh, shut up,” Meridian says fiercely.

Teague smiles and leaves a kiss on her forehead, murmuring, “Merry Christmas, my Meri.”

10. Who makes all the Christmas cookies and other treats? Who eats all the Christmas cookies?

“I don’t trust anyone else to do the baking,” Meridian says firmly. “I’m doing all of it. Now shoo until I finish.”

“I can help,” Lulin protests mildly.

“You’re just covering for Ivan,” Meridian says, snagging his leather-clad wrist as he reaches toward the platter of cookies.

Ivan yelps. “I was just going to taste it!”

“You can taste it when I finish.” Meridian is remorseless and continues mixing batter.

Teague wanders through the kitchen with his face in a book, grabs a cup of tea and somehow drinks it without looking at it or spilling anything.

Meridian turns around from checking in the oven and sees an empty spot where a cookie had been a moment before. “Ivan!”

“It wasn’t me! So!”

“Then is there a cookie gremlin because something took it.”

Ivan points at Teague, who is retreating with his face still in a book and doesn’t appear to realize what’s going on around him.

Meridian looks to Lulin for confirmation, but she just blinks wide-eyed at her and won’t give up either of her brothers.

“He’s far too distracted to properly steal a cookie,” Meridian accuses, hands on hips.

“Mm?” Teague puts in as he disappears around the corner and calls back, “Delicious cookies, by the way. You’ve outdone yourself.”

Meridian blinks after him.

Ivan gives a told-you-so smirk, then sighs. “How come I can’t get away with stuff like that?”

Meridian gets a dangerous gleam in her eye and starts to follow Teague. “Who said anyone’s getting away with anything?”

Ivan snags a cookie from the plate and says through munches, “Teague being an unwitting accomplice is still the best thing ever.”

Lulin pulls more cookies out of the oven and smiles innocently. “Talking of best things ever, I’m going to enjoy watching Meridian go after you in a minute.”

Ivan gives her a shifty look and grabs another cookie. He slinks quickly out, to the accompaniment of Lulin’s chuckle and Meridian somewhere in the house going off loudly at Teague whose faint murmurs are difficult to hear.

11. Who stays (or used to stay) up late waiting for Santa?

Lulin and Ivan both point at Teague.

He blinks. “What? I didn’t.”

“You always stayed up all night Christmas Eve,” Ivan says.

“Reading,” Teague protests. “And I always do that. You just don’t want to admit that the two of you used to.”

“A lot of stranger things than Father Christmas are real,” Lulin says. “I’m only saying. What about you, Meridian?”

“Nope.” The answer was a little too quick to be strictly true.

“Grinch,” Ivan says haughtily.

“Speak for yourself!”

12. What would each character say Christmas isn’t Christmas without?

“Family,” Lulin says at once.

Teague hesitates, and doesn’t look at Ivan, but agrees. “Family.”

They look at Meridian.

She coughs. “I was going to say baking but now I sound like a shallow jerk.”

Lulin smiles. “Not at all.”

“I just don’t remember having a family. Other than Gran,” Meridian says.

“No siblings like these two terrors.” Lulin throws an arm each around her two brothers.

Ivan squirms and tries to escape the hug. “Candy-canes!” he says quickly, answering the question. “Aaugh. Leggo.”

Lulin just hangs on, laughing.

Teague smiles, one arm around his sister, and reaches out his other arm to pull Meridian into the group-hug. “Now you do,” he says softly.

And Meridian smiles back at him.

Thanks for reading! ^_^ I’m not tagging anyone but feel free to steal this for your blog if you like! Sorry I haven’t been around as much (I’m afraid NaNo more or less killed me and I’ve been recovering and busy. XD) — but I do have some fun posts planned after I finish relaxing this coming week. Merry Christmas! ❤

Guess Who Finished A Novel?? (Know the Novel 2: Within Siren & the Skyship and Tare)

NaNo’s almost over and it’s time to answer the super fun questions for the second round of Christine Smith’s fabulous writer linkup, Know the Novel!

I’m doing the two novels I’m writing for NaNo, The Siren and the Skyship (“S&S” — YA steampunk-fantasy Little Merman), and The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (“KW2” — wintry contemporary fantasy sequel). You can read my answers to the first round of questions introducing the novels at that link!

1. How’s the writing going?

STUPENDOUSLY.

I hit a very exciting point on the night of the 27th:

I HIT 50K AND WON MY 9TH NANOWRIMO!!! 😀 I’m super excited. ^_^

It was super hard just to stay on track the first week or so, simply because life was SO BUSY, but I somehow stayed on par for the first 8 days, just barely.

On November 9th, I wrote over 8,000 words (beating my personal record for a single day) and FINISHED The Siren and the Skyship!!!

Guys, I’m so happy! This is my fifth finished novel, but I hadn’t finished a novel (novellas/short stories don’t count) in 5 years and just… the thrill of finally doing so again and getting to the end of this story I’m so in love with was absolutely amazing! ❤ It’s 95K words long, a total and absolute mess of writing, with draft zero bits scattered here and there, and is going to need a complete overhaul and rewrite because the story kept changing itself on me… but I still absolutely adore it AND IT’S DONE FOR NOW.

I’m so, so happy. ^_^

Bucky is grouchy because some random writer girl’s stats bars are hitting him in the chin. (gorgeous art/spreadsheet credit to Svenja Gosen)

So the first 9 days of NaNo, I worked on S&S and wrote 21K on that.

On November 10, I switched right over to working on The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. I’ve been making SERIOUS progress on that and it’s absolutely glorious! I’ve written 33K on it this month and finished part 2 and I’m in the final homestretch of the novel. AAAHH!

And, as I mentioned, I hit 50K for the month on Tuesday! 😀

I’m actually STILL writing, though, because KW2 is not over yet and I probably won’t finish this month but I’m close enough that I want to keep writing anyway! (Let’s just pretend the novel isn’t 118K already and not quite done. *dies*)

SO YEAH. At the time of writing this post, I’m at 55K for the month, and I don’t know if I’ll get much more done before December 1st hits, but it’s been going great and I’ve been having a blast!

a write-in I hosted

2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

S&S: The characters I love and the steampunk-fantasy world and getting to write the ending! ❤

KW2: Getting to write scenes I’ve been looking forward to getting to for ages — and writing characters I love so much. ^_^

3. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

S&S: Given that I didn’t actually know all the details of the big-ending-stuff and how it would happen until I was this close to having to actually write it . . . I’d say yes. It’s been surprising me the entire book because I keep thinking it’s going to be a certain way and then the story veers off completely and leaves me going “OKAY THEN” with my mind blown but really excited about the new direction. It’s just going to make it really hard to rewrite. *cough*

KW2: I’m surprised at how it’s coming together finally because I thought I’d never get to this point. XD But I’m really excited!

4. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

S&S: I LOVE THEM ALL. Rook is definitely my favorite to write (hence why he stole the show and then proceeded to get a sequel), but Princess Tasmania is really fun to write too, and so are her brothers (love themmm!) and street-thief Xasper and sky-pirate Keller (who is also stealing a sequel for himself and earned an AHA epilogue at the end of this one), and even Gerias (young Sean Bean) and Noya who’s kind of intense and I lowkey ship her with Rook. ANYWAY. I love all of them and honestly the entire cast is a blast to write. 😀 I’m already really excited to write more about all of them in the two sequels!

KW2: I obviously lurve all of my characters in this, given that I am nearly done their second book when I was only originally going to write one book! 😉 Tare is definitely my favorite to write, being my favorite ever, but I’m also really enjoying a couple of new, spoilery characters, including one I just met the other day and am absolutely ecstatic about because I’ve been dreaming of meeting this person for AGES.

5. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

S&S: I’m never good at this question! I’d probably be a random crew member on the Star Dreamer? If I had to be a major character I’d be Tasmania but I’d be terrible at being as awesome and brave and no-nonsense as she is, sooo yes, my different actions would consist of sitting in the enormous library at the palace in the sky city, devouring books and scones and tea, instead of doing action and quests, and there would be no story. XD

KW2: Well. I’d like to think I’d be Tare but honestly I’d be no good at that despite our kindred souls, so I’d doubtless be Lavender, and since she’s kind of a timid, cautious kind of person, I’d probably do about what she does… Or maybe I’d be somewhere between her and Marie.

6. Give us the first sentence or paragraph and then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

Probably because I’ve been writing near the end of the books, most of my favorite lines are terrible spoilers so I can’t share them, but let’s give this a go…

S&S opening:

Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley fell through the clouds.

This was not usually a problem. Normally, she could catch hold of ropes hanging from her skyship—and anyway, her personal clockwork dragon was programmed to swoop down and catch her when she fell.

Normally.

Unfortunately, normal didn’t cover it this time.

***

S&S snippets:

“I didn’t even know he had a brother—step-brother,” Tasmania amended quickly before Keller could correct her, “until we ran into you. I thought Gerias was an open book.”

“Oh, he is,” Keller said breezily. “You just weren’t reading the right chapter.”

***

“I don’t know,” Rook stammered, running his fingers through his black hair. “I don’t remember. I don’t even know… That is… Do I know you? And who’s Rook?”

***

The front bell tinkled and Xasper clattered in through the door. “Noya, get going—we’re going to be late,” he said by way of greeting.

You’re going to be late if you order me around—late for what?”


KW2 opening:

Sporadic sleet and a biting December wind conspired to form a day not fit for man or beast. Marie Valerian and her brother Jake, being neither, were of course out in it.

KW2 snippet:

“Are you okay?” Lavender asked automatically.

“Sure. Fine,” Tare said.

“You’re tied to a chair,” Baz pointed out.

“Oh, really? People keep telling me that.”

Lavender skidded to her knees in front of the chair on the concrete and reached for some of the ropes, holding out her other hand. “Baz, give me a knife.”

There was a pause. She looked up to see Baz hovering uncertainly. Lavender dropped her hand and her shoulders slumped a little. “Seriously? I thought all boys have pocket knives.”

Baz coughed. “It’s been awhile since my Boy Scout days. I might have some gum if that helps any . . .”

Tare sighed and kicked his foot a little. “In my right boot.”

7. Have you come across any problem areas?

S&S: Um, how about THE ENTIRE BOOK? *headdesks repeatedly* Honestly, it keeps switching direction and is so full of inconsistencies, due to my continuing writing while acting like I’ve already addressed them, that it would make less than zero percent sense if anyone else were to try to read it right now. 😛

KW2: *sweeps sudden gaping plot holes and entire lack of a plot under the rug* Nothing to see here… *innocent whistling*

8. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

S&S: FINISHING IT! ❤ I’m seriously so, so excited about this, even though it feels like a long ago thing of the past since it was in the first third of NaNo. XD *cough* And a few mind-blowing plot pieces clicking into place. 😉

KW2: Finishing part two, which I feel like I’ve been writing FOREVER and was a huge milestone for me, and getting to meet a certain character… And honestly just getting SO CLOSE to the end of this thing! I still have big ending stuff and wrapup to do, and honestly no clue how to do a lot of that, but it’s still closer than I dreamed of getting on this thing. ^_^

9. Be honest, have you killed any characters off yet?

ER. SPOILERS, HELLO. (I mean, if you know me, you might have a guess… so probably not. *cough*)

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this particular novel has looked like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!

It depends but I usually end up writing in the evenings, and I’ll often see if any friends are online word-sprinting. I really like doing wordsprints even if it’s by myself. For S&S, I’d usually have Stay Till the Daylight by Skillet (Rook’s themesong for the sequel) or Skyworld on repeat while writing, with my earbuds in and a wordsprint timer open in one window, and Scrivener in another.

For KW2, it’s the same layout but I usually listen to Kate Price’s Planxty Amblade-Cruso (the themesong melody for KW2 because it feels wintry and just fits it). OR, lately, I’ve been listening to an assortment of various songs I like on youtube, most noticeably this GORGEOUS version of Rewrite the Stars from The Greatest Showman, done by the Piano Guys, which I had on repeat for forever. ❤

Also, I’ve been wearing my new fingerless gloves when it’s been cold, which I crocheted one week while I was procrastinating writing. 😉

At a write-in — and one of the rare times I had a coffee because peppermiiiint from Starbucks since I had a giftcard to use. Hence this “classic” writer photo. XD


Whew. That’s it from me today — I hope you enjoyed this look within the WIPs and hearing about my NaNo! How are YOU doing, NaNoers or otherwise? If you’re doing NaNo and still need to write, GOOD LUCK TO YOU!!! YOU CAN DO IT! Even if you’re nowhere near hitting 50K, keep writing all the same because it’s still writing! ^_^ Congrats to any fellow NaNo winners — you rock! And also to all you people not doing NaNo: we’re almost done flailing about it and getting back to normal life, promise. XD

One more day, guys!

Thanks for reading and lemme know what you think of the snippets or… anything! 🙂