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! ^_^

Fantasy Favorites Tag!

G’day, my Roadlings!

It’s the LAST day of February (say what? How did this happen?) so I’m squeezing in at the last second of February Fantasy Month to do this lovely tag that the hostess of this awesome event, Jenelle Schmidt, put together.

No, I’m not late—what gave you that idea?

Ahem. On with the tag, shall we? All of these questions are so hard! O_O

What is your favorite fantasy book?

(I lied. This question is super easy.)

The Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion and Howl’s Moving Castle. I KNOW. SUCH A SHOCK. XD

(Okay, I know that’s not one. But. You know.)

Also, I’m looking forward to reading Howl’s Moving Castle for the sixth time (I think?) next month for March Magics since there’s going to be a readalong for it! 😀

What is your favorite fantasy movie or TV show (or both!)?

At first I couldn’t think of any fantasy TV shows, which shows a definite problem somewhere . . . But I’m going to go with Ren: The Girl with the Mark, which I mentioned before, and if you haven’t checked it out, I totally recommend doing so!

I’m going to be posting about that soon, regarding a possible season 2 (!!) so stay tuned!

For movies:

(I need to see the new How to Train Your Dragon movie! Aaahh!)

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Prince of Persia

And if you haven’t seen Prince of Persia yet — what are you even doing with your life?

Prince Dastan can’t believe you haven’t watched it, either

Who is your favorite fantasy hero/heroine?

I have SO MANY FAVORITE HEROES, I’m not even going to try listing anybody. My mind overwhelmed itself and short-circuited with the sheer amount and left me suddenly unable to recall anybody. I’ll regret it later but I’m going to skip that.

Instead, I’ll just do heroines, since that’s a much shorter list. 😉 Here are some:

  • Mina Klug (The Bright Empires series by Stephen R. Lawhead)
  • Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings) and Luthien Tinuviel (The Silmarillion), both by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Eilonwy (The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander)
  • Ginny (Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal)
  • Cordelia Beaumont (The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz)
  • Echo (Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer)

It takes a LOT to write a heroine I really love and admire. I’m not sure exactly what quality these heroines share but they’re all fabulous! (You can read a post I wrote which in part concerned those first few heroines, if you like.)

Who is your favorite fantasy side-kick?

Uuuurgh. Do you realize how difficult this question is? Do you realize how many amazing fantasy side-kicks there are? This is threatening to short-circuit my brain again.

*panics* *scrambles around* *grabs one name from the swirling mass and tosses it out*

CRISPIN BEASLEY HE’S JUST THE BEST OKAY BYE

*panting*

*thrusts The Beast of Talesend haphazardly in your face*

*hurries on*

Who is your favorite fantasy villain? (the one you most love to hate?)

For some reason all I can think of right now is the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. He’s just . . . really creepy. O_O

(I was tempted to list Carhartan from Orphan’s Song or Rupert de la Mare from Plenilune or the Keeper from Entwined but “most love to hate” might not apply; it’s more like I HAVE FEELINGS WHICH MAY BE HATE I DUNNO. I talk about villains here.)

I . . . don’t want to linger on this question; there’s a sort of chill in the air over here. I’ll just . . . Yeah, I’ll move on.

*sprints hastily to next question and locks door behind self*

What is your favorite fantasy sub-genre?

*breathes sigh of relief* Much safer, cozier, warmer question. 🙂

Fairytale retellings, and steampunk-fantasy or Regency-fantasy! Those are ones I’ve been really into lately, anyway.

I love a good classic epic fantasy, too!

What is your favorite thing about fantasy?

The limitless possibilities and imagination and wonder. There’s just so MUCH that can happen! It also has great potential for my favorite sorts of character types, and of course fantastical creatures and settings! And . . . well . . . everything.

Fantasy is my home, and while I enjoy other genres from time to time (non-speculative fiction, and non-fiction occaaasionally), they just often seem . . . dry. They don’t have the wonder. I enjoy visiting them sometimes but Fantasy is where I live.

It has so much potential. I find I learn truths about life more deeply when I encounter them in fantasy.

Lloyd Alexander said it best.

What is your favorite fantasy realm?

Tolkien’s world, absolutely. I have recently been re-immersing myself in Middle-earth and particularly Beleriand and the other lands of The Silmarillion, reading Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales and The Fall of Gondolin.

I “grew up” there, living and breathing the richness of his world and the far-reaching wonder of the ages of Middle-earth. I had no idea how much I missed it until I went back again and realized it was so natural to slip back into this world. I do need to give The Lord of the Rings a good re-read one of these days soon, but at the moment I’m enjoying going through the older drafts of what later became The Silmarillion and having a blast.

If you need me, I’ll be walking the shores of Valinor or visiting the hidden valley of the city of Gondolin between the mountains; treading under the trees of Doriath with Luthien and Beren or staring at the wide sea from the cliffs of Beleriand; visiting the Shire or the Lonely Mountain or Lothlorien or Minas Tirith; spending a couple of weeks by the fire in Rivendell with the music and the books, the food and the Elves; galloping the vast plains with the Rohirrim; or walking the woods of Ithilien with Faramir. Watch out; I may never come back. 😉

What is your favorite fantasy magic system?

I’m not sure! I don’t always pay that much attention to how the fantasticalness works in the fantasy I read? But I will say that I know I liked Spellsmith and Carver (where it was half like computer coding) and Beggar Magic (the “strains” sort of like music), both by H.L. Burke. And the Song from the Songkeeper Chronicles by Gillian Bronte Adams, and the aether gifts in the Sentinel Trilogy by Jamie Foley, are all coming to mind. So I guess I’ll go with some of those. XD In Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, I ADORED the book-mirrors where you can step into a story, so if that counts . . .

Sell me a fantasy book! Have you written a fantasy book? Give me your best pitch for it! Have you read an exceptionally great fantasy book recently? Convince me to make it my next read!

Wellll. I have written a fantasy book, or several. But they’re not exactly available yet. XD *cough*

My latest is basically a Steampunk-Fantasy Little Mermaid. Except that the Little Mermaid is neither little nor Mer nor a maid — being a cloud-siren prince on a quest to find his father’s killer — and he gets mixed up with Princess Tasmania who is the captain of a skyship. Cloud cities, assassins, tea, love, and clockwork dragons ensue.

So yeah, that’s The Siren and the Skyship, currently in needs-to-be-edited limbo. I’m working on trying to figure out the plot for the sequel right now and it’s giving me headaches.

Maybe I’ll do an update post about how my writing is coming, since I haven’t talked about that or anything on here in awhile . . .

Actual book

In the meantime, how about a book that is actually finished! and published! and awesome!

I wanted to screech about Echo North or The Electrical Menagerie, but since y’all prooobably know by now how much I love those (given all the shrieking I’ve done. XD) and things like Howl’s Moving Castle, I think I’ll give a quick shout-out for a book I haven’t talked as much about for a little while! (But seriously, go check those out if you haven’t!! They make me happy!)

Blood Ties! By Hazel West!

Alternate modern Ireland! Warriors with swords and fast cars! Brothers by blood and by bond with great messy relationships I love! SNARK. Fighting. Epic characters! (I love them ALL! AWK!) Loyalty and goblins and castles and cell phones! (Those are good because they’re all together in one book, not because goblins or cell phones are necessarily inherently good in themselves.)

Did I mention Ireland? Because it’s almost Saint Patrick’s Day so you OBVIOUSLY need something to read for that.

I love it so much and I’ve been missing this series (the sequels are just as good if not better) and wanting book four BADLY. So go read this one if you haven’t. 😀

And look, I’m part of Ciran’s Company! And I have a real BPAFF (Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk) shamrock necklace I won from the author, so if any of you reading this are actually malevolent fae or goblins trying to convince people not to read this book, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Ciran and I are comin’ for you. And the rock band Swords and Shamrocks are going to write a ballad about it. So watch out.

So there you are! I hope you enjoyed this fantasy tag and my answers — do feel free to steal the tag to use on your own blog, even if Fantasy Month is over. Because the time for fantasy is always!

What are some of YOUR fantasy favorites? Let me know in the comments!

5 Year BLOGIVERSARY + Giveaway!

Hi everyone! Guess what’s special about today? 😉 (Okay, okay, the title may have given that away. *cough*)

It’s my 5 Year Blogiversary! 😀

Yes, you heard that correctly.

On this day, half a decade ago, I posted my very first post on this blog!

It’s been a long, exciting journey, and I just started another shiny website too (as well as having a book blog I’ve been enjoying for a few years) — but this is where it all began, and it’s still the heart of my online presence as a writer, and… well… a human. 😉

So I’m celebrating with a giveaway (Hobbit-birthdays and all that sort of thing, so read on for that) and general merriment and partying.

*passes out virtual cupcakes and tosses confetti on everyone*

The Stats

  • 5 years
  • 293 posts (as of this one!)
  • 590 followers (plus social media = 1,091 followers, hence the number on the side. ;))
  • 6,700 comments
  • 16,298 visitors
  • 45,789 views

Top Commenters

Commenters are my favorite — this means you! Also, special shoutout to my top commenters of late. You guys are amazing! THANK YOU! (Everyone, check out their amazing blogs! ^_^)

My top 10 most popular posts this year

Thank You

I just want to say thank you.

Thanks to all my lovely readers, followers, and commenters! You make this blogging thing worthwhile. 🙂 It’s been such a joy taking this road with you all. Thank you for joining me in the journey. ❤

*GROUP HUG*

Blogiversary Giveaway

Okay, here’s the part you’re REALLY here for! 😉

There are 5 (ish) prizes — because 5 years — and they are (surprise, surprise!) books!

I love sharing books with people, and I also frequent library sales and collect beloved books. So I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites with y’all! ^_^

But just a second, because I’m going to tell you all about one of the awesome prizes. 😀

Stellar September

I’m extremely excited to be showcasing The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder today!

I won an ebook ARC copy of this book, and loved it so much that I raved about it in a review, got a paperback copy when I got to meet the author at Realm Makers (!!!), and just ordered a second paperback copy just so I could give it away on my blogiversary post today. 🙂

Mollie was also awesome and donated two sets of gorgeous character cards, of the delightful characters from The Electrical Menagerie, for me to share with y’all! (Visit the artist on Instagram.) One set I’m giving away with the paperback (US), and one set I’m offering as an International prize, because I love you peeps too! ❤

But wait, there’s even more delightful news! 😀

The Electrical Menagerie got a starred review on Publisher’s Weekly yesterday! :O I’m SO excited for Mollie, and so proud of her and this splendiferous book (and its characters. ;))! I just love it so much, and I hope more people will discover it. ^_^

If you’re curious to read it, now is a fantastic time to try it out, because the ebook is only 99 cents on Amazon right now, for a promotion Mollie is calling Stellar September. And is it ever stellar! 😀 So go get yourself a copy! ❤

And, of course, enter to win a paperback copy of this (and other books) below. 😉

You can learn more about The Electrical Menagerie, Mollie, and the characters, and sign up for Mollie’s newsletter for a free novelette about Huxley (it’s hilarious, FYI!), at thecelestialisles.com or writeratops.com!

The Giveaway Prizes

  1. The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder (paperback) — Steampunk (ish). The rest of these books I got at library sales, but this one I ordered. It’s a recent release, which I may have flailed about a lot. 😉 And since I’m writing steampunk right now, and love humor and dynamic characters, it seemed to fit the theme of my giveaway. 🙂 Let me just tell you that if you love The Greatest Showman, or steampunk, or dynamic duo friendships, or humor/snark, or magical worlds (floating islands with sky-trains run by stardust!), you simply have to try this book out! ❤ Included with this book is a set of the 4 lovely character cards!
  2. Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede (paperback) — Regency Fantasy. You can read my full review here, but this is a fascinating and fun story set in an alternate Regency London, about the fabulous magician (and eligible bachelor) Mairelon the Magician, and his ward, Kit, who is a street-thief-turned-Regency-lady. And yes, this is as fabulous as it sounds. XD It’s technically the second book in a duology, but I read it as a standalone and understood it just fine. (I’ve since read the first book, and enjoyed it, but not as much as I loved this one.) This is an ex-library paperback and is slightly worn — apologies! — but the story inside is lovely. 😉
  3. Conrad’s Fate (Chrestomanci Series) by Diana Wynne Jones (hardcover) — Fantasy. You know this had to be on here, because of COURSE I have to give away a DWJ book. 😉 Even if you haven’t read any of the Chrestomanci books before, you can start with this one (as it’s sort of a prequel). It’s a lot of fun, and features a teenage Chrestomanci/Christopher Chant, which was AWESOME. It’s also a buddy story, from the point of view of the “servants” at an older, fancy, British-like house, with magical shenanigans and humor. I love it. 😀
  4. The End of the Third Age by J.R.R. Tolkien (paperback) — This is the tail-end of a series of books featuring some of Tolkien’s older drafts of The Lord of the Rings (edited by his son Christopher Tolkien). But the reason I’m giving away this one is that it has the UNPUBLISHED epilogue of The Lord of the Rings, which never made it into the final version, but which I strongly believed SHOULD HAVE. It’s about Sam and his kids after the end, and makes the end of LOTR not sad, say I — it ends on a better note. There are two versions of the epilogue, both collected in this volume, and even if you don’t read the rest of the book, you HAVE to read them. And I want to make it possible for some LOTR fan to read it, so I’m giving away a copy. 🙂 (Plus, what with the Silmaril Awards going on right now — don’t forget to vote for your favorite characters this week!! — this feels like an appropriate thing to give away. ;))
  5. If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence, and Spirit by Brenda Ueland (paperback) — Nonfiction. This is one of my favorite books on writing. I wrote a whole post about it once, which you can check out to see if it’s the sort of book you would like. And since this is “The Road of a Writer” and I know many of you are writers, it seemed fitting. 🙂
  6. Another set of Electrical Menagerie character cards (INTERNATIONAL) — Because, as I mentioned, Mollie kindly sent along two sets, and I wanted something for any of my lovely non-American readers who would like to enter a giveaway. (Huxley makes a great bookmark. I’m just sayin’. ;))

Giveaway details

  • You must be subscribed to my newsletter, or if you haven’t, your email address will be added to my newsletter, from which you can unsubscribe any time. (But I like to think that the sort of people who enjoy the sorts of books I’m giving away above, will be the sort to enjoy my newsletter. ;))
  • This giveaway is open from September 11 – 15, 2018
  • The books are US entries only (sorry! Because shipping) but the second set of character cards are just for international entries! 🙂
  • There will be 6 winners
  • Winners will be chosen by random draw. The winners be contacted by email, and posted here on or after September 17

You can subscribe to my newsletter here. 🙂

Enter the giveaway in the form below, or, if it’s not working for you, click here!

Giveaway Form

That’s it!

P.S. If you want to follow me on Instagram, I’m hoping to post a different fun picture there each day this week during the giveaway to showcase each of the books, so… there’s that. 😉

Whew! I think that’s all the fun I have for you guys today. 🙂 (Special thanks to Mollie for providing the character trading cards for the giveaway!)

Do you want to read The Electrical Menagerie? And which of these books would you most love to win? 😀 Thanks for joining me in my blogoversary as I celebrate 5 years of blogging! You’re all awesome! ❤

NaNo Snippets: Siren and the Skyship

And now for the long awaited party I mean snippets I promised you!

The time has come, the blogger said, to take you on some trips

Through NaNo! Clouds and sirens, and Royal Sky Navy Ships!

Or something like that.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse at my YA Steampunk-Fantasy Little-Mermaid(-ish) 2017 NaNo novel, The Siren and the Skyship . . .

Snippets

“Skyship off the starboard bow!” cried the lookout.

Auren wondered a) how the lookout had managed to see anything in this abysmal weather, and b) how anyone could possibly hear him.

* * *

In the mellow lamp-light in her cabin, Tasmania’s fine penmanship filled white pages with ink as black as the night the skyship was currently sailing through.

Nearly died today. Again.

Otherwise an uneventful day.

* * *

Rook crouched forward astride the dragon, keeping Emmy safely in front of him with his arms to either side of her as he steered the clockwork dragon into the night. He did not know if they had been spotted in the light from the explosion, or if they were being followed, and he did not intend to stick around to find out. Protect Emmy.

Navyman and girl flew with all speed through the clouds and mist, wind in their faces blowing back her fair hair, and what had escaped from the tie he kept his long dark hair tied back with. The barest silver crescent of the moon emerged from the clouds above and radiated soft white light into the dark night, gleaming on the metal of the clockwork dragon’s beating wings, and showing the looming forms of several dark stone pillars rising up in the night.

* * *

“And we’ll just be careful.”

“Always,” Tasmania said cheerfully.

“Says my reckless captain,” Gerias said, but he smiled as he said it.

“When was I ever reckless?” Tasmania said, and she breezed out the door on her way to some breakfast and tea.

* * *

Tasmania swiveled back toward Rook.

“Stirling Rook,” he said.

She frowned, looking somewhat confused. “What about him?”

“He’s me,” Rook said, knowing there was probably something wrong with the way this conversation was going, but not quite sure he had the brain power to rectify the situation.

Captain Tasmania blinked, then folded her arms and shook her head. “Impossible. Can’t be. He’s dead.”

Rook raised his eyebrows. “News to me…” he muttered. “I mean, I feel terrible, but not that terrible…”

* * *

Before Captain Tasmania could ask any more questions, a tall man with blond hair and a chiseled jaw, in an officer’s uniform, came down the steps into the infirmary room.

“Captain, you’re wanted on deck,” he said. “And how is my patient?”

“Fine,” Rook rasped warily, looking at the man.

“Mr. Rook,” Tasmania said, “this is Gerias Bridgington-Cramley, the First Mate and Medic aboard the Star Dreamer. Gerias, we have a name to our mysterious rescue: this is Stirling Rook.”

Gerias’s blond eyebrows raised. “The Stirling Rook? Admiral Rook’s son?”

Rook sighed. Not this again. “Yes.”

“I thought you were dead.”

“So I keep hearing,” Rook said.

* * *

“Why, oh, why, can’t I touch things!” Auren howled in exasperation and panic. He thought he was slowing her fall just a little, but not stopping it. The skyship was out of sight above them, obscured by clouds, and she was rapidly falling straight toward whatever was below the next batch of clouds. Auren hoped, for Tasmania’s sake, that it was one of the rope nets…

No such luck. They were near a net stretched between two pillars, with grass growing on the tops of the rock, but the trajectory of her course was aimed straight for the pillar or, worst case scenario, even down beyond that to who-knew-what—probably jagged rock or maybe a crevice down into no-man’s-land.

All Auren could think was: She’s going to die. Tasmania’s going to die and I can’t save her. And that was when he realized. I love her. It was completely a miserable thought to have at a moment like this, and extremely inconvenient too. Why did he have to care so much? But he couldn’t stop it now. Determination and anger flowed through him. He wouldn’t let it happen.

Auren bent his entire will and all his thought and strength toward becoming a wind, pushing her up, slowing her descent, fighting the air currents with wind of his own, fighting them to keep his Tasmania alive.

And as he did, he sang.

He sang with all his heart, siren song words which welled up from somewhere deep inside of him, half lullaby, half war song—a song to keep the most tired soldier fighting, to wake and put to sleep a child all at once, to say You are safe in my arms—let’s fly together, and don’t worry about anything.

Every part of his mind and wispy-wind-like body strained as hard as he possibly could and—he—slowed—her—down.

His nearly insubstantial touch that had never been able to hold anything, held her, stopped her fall, and, still singing, he slowly, gently, ever so gently, laid her very softly to rest on the green sward of grass at the top of the mist-wreathed pillar of rock.

* * *

Auren woke to find Rook standing by the side of the bunk bed, arms folded, looking down at him.

Auren stretched and yawned. “ ’Morning?” he said.

“Are you an assassin?” Rook asked calmly.

Auren blinked. “Pardon?”

“I didn’t hear you come in last night,” Rook said, as if this explained everything.

Auren yawned again and rubbed his eyes, wondering if this was a human thing to have no idea what someone was talking about this early in the morning. “I’m sorry, why is that a bad thing? I was trying to be quiet; that was just me trying to be considerate and let you sleep. What’s wrong with not hearing me come in and— why do you think I’m an assassin? Because no, I’m definitely not.”

* * *

“So . . . what you’re saying is that I’m an assassin, but I’m just a really bad one?” Auren said, incredulous. “I feel like I should be insulted, but I’m still trying to wrap my mind around why you think I’m an assassin.”

* * *

So he did the only thing he could do: he spun the wheel and steered them directly between two of the pillars. Auren had never steered a skyship before, but he knew the air and the wind currents, and if there was one thing he did know how to do, it was fly.

* * *

“Because like it or not, someone wants you dead.”

Tasmania sighed and dropped her face into her hands to rub her forehead. This was turning into a long day.

* * *

Auren had fallen in love with hammocks and abandoned his bunk in favor of sleeping on one.

“It’s like sleeping in the air, or flying,” Auren had said in raptures, completely delighted at this concept for some reason Rook could not make head nor tail out of.

Rook grunted. “We’re on a skyship. You’re already flying.”

Auren ignored him.

At least Rook had the bunk to himself now.

* * *

She saw Auren, across the deck, vault up onto the railing, rope in hand. Without hesitation, he leapt in a graceful arc, as one with the air, over the side of the skyship and out of sight into the sky below.

* * *

As soon as he was gone and the door closed behind them, Tasmania relaxed and slumped a little in her chair, grimacing. “Back to civilization, is it? Civilization can’t pluck you out of the sky when you’re falling a thousand feet through a storm. You’re very welcome for picking you up on this little not-civilization ship, sir.”

* * *

She laughed. “It’s Tasmania. Really. Or… my brothers call me Mania.”

Auren’s eyes widened. “I could never call you that.”

Her grin was infectious. “Believe me, if you’d known me as long as they have, you would.”

* * *

“I thought you were dead.”

“Yeah, I… get that a lot,” Rook said.


What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know! Thanks very much for reading — I so appreciate it! And Merry Christmas! ^_^ I’ll not be blogging next week, so I’ll see you all in a couple of weeks with the turning of the year! Love you, lovely readers! ❤

How’s the Writing Going? NaNo + Skyships (Beautiful Books: Nov. ’17)

It’s time once again for BEAUTIFUL BOOKS, a monthly blog-link-up for writers hosted by the lovely Sky and Cait. This month’s is focused on “How’s the Writing Going?” and looking in on the current progress of the novels we’re writing for NaNo… or writing for any other reason. 😉 (Join up in the linky at one of the posts linked above.)

Last month, I introduced my NaNoWriMo 2017 novel, The Siren and the Skyship, my YA Fantasy-Steampunk retelling of The Little Mermaid, so here’s an update on how this story’s coming along!

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

It’s going pretty well. 🙂 I’m at 31,714 words for NaNo so far, so as of last night I was on track! I shall have to dash off and do today’s words hopefully after this post. 😉

I was only behind for two days, early in the month, due to circumstances outside my control (this has been an INSANELY busy November, and I’m just like “SLOW DOWN ALREADY, IT’S NANO, HALP.”) but I’ve managed to claw my way to the on-par bar each night, somehow. I keep meaning to get ahead, but… not really happening. *grimaces* But at least I’m on track! Yay! 🙂

The novel itself is only 25K so far (since I started NaNo with a 6K short story about Tare and the Chess Club), so it’s a little less far along than I’d normally be, but that’s okay — the higher number is giving me more of a sense that STUFF HAS TO BE HAPPENING instead of “oh, I’m only 25K in, I can still do beginning stuff…”

I’ve finally got the three main characters on a skyship together — hurray! And I just dropped a major plot point so yes, things are going well. 😀

As far as my mental state — AHAHAHA. Ahem. Well, it’s been going back and forth between “Ugh, this story is a MESS, what am I doing; I should drop noveling and move to a remote island in the Arctic instead” to “this is fun! I wanna write the next scene!” and basically fluctuating between panic/loathing, and enjoying it immensely. So yes, I’d say it’s a normal NaNo. XD

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

(I’m sharing three, since I have three POV characters. ^_^ The first is the opening line of the novel; the other two are when we meet the other characters.)

Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley stepped out of her ship’s cabin and met the dawn how she most loved to: flying through the dawn-hued clouds in her skyship.

***

Auren, an air spirit and the youngest son of the Cloud Siren queen, flew through the air by the Star Dreamer, moving with the wind.

***

Gunfire rang out, and a small explosion rocked the skyship, gunpowder smoke and steam mixing in the air to form a mist as Rook bounded along down a walkway in the depths of the ship.

3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

(Image found on Pinterest)

Rook.

Oh, wait, you wanted more than that? Ahem.

For anyone who’s read my #WIPjoy post, you’re prooobably not surprised that my favorite character so far is Rook, the side character who wants to steal the show from Tasmania and Auren (who are the Little-Mermaid-esque romantic leads/main characters). I haven’t gotten to write with him as much as I’d like, since he doesn’t meet up with the other main characters for a little while, but so far he’s definitely my favorite. ^_^ And he’s kind of epic and just yes.

BUT I’M FOND OF THEM ALL. ❤ I just need to write more so I can get to know them all better…

4. What do you love about your novel so far?

I love my characters, and I love how it’s unlike anything I’ve ever written, and I especially love getting to play around in this sky-based fantasy world with the skyships and clouds. It’s gorgeous in my head and I’m having an amazing time exploring it, and — basically somebody just make a movie of this thing already because it would look amazing. ❤

(Images found on Pinterest)

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

I don’t know, really, because my backspace-key-instincts when I spot a typo are faster than the speed of thought, which means I fix them ASAP in the midst of my writing (usually; if I see it in the mad rush of writing) and so I don’t remember what they were.

I did just realize that since I accidentally wrote chapter 6 before writing chapter 5, I referenced something in chapter 5 that happened later… which was very silly. Oh well, more words. We can all fix our mistakes after November 30. 😉

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

I’m going to have to say middles, because there’s a lot of pressure involved with beginnings and ends.

With beginnings, you don’t quite have a handle on the characters yet and you’re just starting out, not sure about how the story is going to go.

With endings (not that I ever reach there these days… >.> *COUGHCOUGHCOUGH*) it’s like “How am I supposed to wrap up all the things and make it awesome?”

Like I said: pressure on both counts. (Though I WILL say that starting a novel can be exhilarating — why do you think I start so may? *ahem* — and nothing beats the feel of finishing a novel… So I kind of like all three, but middles are especially fun.)

Middles mean you are just wildly running around playing around with your characters who are surprising you, and it’s just glorious fun.

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I don’t usually eat while I’m writing because who can focus on both at once? (Spoiler: not me.) If I’m writing, I’m writing; the end.

I do listen to music, especially during NaNo, and it’s usually very fast to help with my typing speeds: either gorgeous soundtrack-type instrumentals, or Christian Rock/Pop, because FAST TYPING. Or Lindsey Stirling, if I have internet access while I’m writing (which isn’t as often as I would like, and more often than my wordcount would like).

I write best at night when there are no distractions and I can get in the zone, but these days I write a lot in the last afternoon/early evening, because that’s when I get around to it…

And I usually write in my comfy chair. Behold my NaNo life of late:

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I’m a mix, because I’m very shy about sharing my stuff especially when I’m feeling unsure about it or stuck, BUT I do need the cheer squad to keep me motivated, otherwise I feel down. So I might mention what’s up in the novel (or share a small snippet) in an email/forum/Tweet, and I usually read my chapters aloud to my sister every so often, so she can cheer me on. (10/10 recommend getting yourself an extremely supportive sister to do NaNo with — she’s amazing and encourages me and is awesome.) And I have a couple of major NaNo-buddies who I keep up with and it’s AWESOME supporting each other. ^_^ I don’t know what I’d do without my writerly friends! Y’all are awesome! ❤

(But yes, as far as writing goes, I work alone, like Batman and my character Tare. *nodnod* *puts on shades and wears black and walks away mysteriously to novel in some back alley of my imagination*)

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

Um… the ever-demanding stats-graph on the NaNo site and the fact that I need to hit that on-par line each day. XD Falling behind is NOT something to do during NaNo, as I’ve learned from hard experience…

Other times, it’s how much I’m loving this story/characters. It flips back and forth between the two. 😉

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

(Watch while I blissfully ignore my own advice… *cough*)

  1. Just start. Sit down and start writing, because you’re never going to feel ready.
  2. Don’t worry about perfection, just get the story down in its most basic form — and if that’s messy, go for it! First drafts are exploration missions — you’re exploring the terrain and drawing a map. The building of homes and fences and making it livable and such can come later.
  3. Use wordsprints to your advantage! Try the awesome one on the NaNo site, or just set a timer, and write until the alarm goes off. You’ll be amazed to find that at the end of every 10 minute session, you’ve written two or three hundred words… Then try it again. And again. And then you’ll be done before you know it. 🙂

Here’s a look at my wordsprinting secret-weapon layout. Wordsprint timer from the site open in my browser in one window; very fast music in a playlist in another; and Scrivener, my PRECIOUSSS, where I can monitor how many words I have in my current little segment during the wordwar. It’s a stellar combination and makes me write SO FAST. ❤

I had some more NaNo writing tips here. 🙂

Welp, back to the drawing writing-board! I have a busy day and need to get on writing those words to stay on track, and try to get ahead because Thanksgiving, awk; MUST GET AHEAD. So it’s off to Life/Write for me! I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving, American friends! ^_^ (And a fantastic week, anyone else. ;))

How’s your novel going, if you’re doing NaNo? If not, what are you up to? Chat in the comments below! And if I possibly can squeeze in some editing between my novel-writing, I’m hoping to see if I can share a short story on the blog next week, so stay tuned! Thanks so much for reading! ^_^ *hugs all around*