New Year Calls: 2019 + Writing Ishness of 2018

Happy New Year, my dearest Roadlings! *throws confetti cleverly shaped like little 2019s*

This is the obligatory new-year post but it’s a little different because it’s two weeks late not all goals and accomplishments and resolutions. (Though there’s some of that.)

New Year calls and I’m terribly tempted to pretend like Bilbo that I’m not at home. XD *cough*

We’re already 2 weeks into 2019 and I haven’t figured out all my writing goals yet and . . . I feel a little stressed about that. The pressure is on when the new year hits to figure out All The Things and set goals etc. And I simply haven’t. (Particularly for my writing, which is slightly awkward because this is a writing-ish blog.)

But you know what? It’s okay.

I don’t have to know all the things I want to do this year RIGHT NOW. I do know the next thing I want to do, and that should be enough for this moment.

And if it isn’t, it ought to be.

(*shoos list-aholic self to sit somewhere in the back row instead of booing in the front one* Ahem. >.>)

I’m sitting here wondering why I’m so stressed and thinking how I should let it go . . . and I just glanced at the writing journal I finished minutes before midnight brought in the New Year and it made me pause and reflect, because I’d totally forgotten about it.

Here’s an excerpt of my quietly-excited New Year’s Eve self, inking dreams for the future:

“. . . that the windings of the road of this writer will bring me to wondrous places and tales of the fantastic and of the heart. I don’t know for sure my goals for 2019. But I hope to meet it with a deep breath and a soul ready for the wild adventure of this road that calls me onward to new horizons of pen and paper and imagination — and the love of worlds to touch our souls and show us the stars. Whatever goals and dreams await, onward — let’s rise to meet them with the dawn beyond the horizon. The stars and the sky of imagination await! Happy New Year and may 2019 be filled with words of wonder!”

As I’ve been stressing out these last few days, I’d totally forgotten I wrote that — I suppose that enchanted hour before the turn of the year was closed in the final pages of the book that was 2018 and I forgot to open it and look at it again until just now.

Granted, it’s a little dramatic (I don’t always write like that in my journals, I promise. XD), and may be harking back to my steampunk WIP world, but it’s the feeling that remains.

That girl sitting in the light of the Christmas tree scribbling her soul down before the new year arrived . . . I want to be her. She was so excited and full of hope, and even though the future was strange and she only had a faint idea of what might come next, she was ready to embrace it and make it beautiful to the best of her abilities.

She wrote those words and then went out and stood in the cold under the stars, and watched fireworks ring in the New Year and talked and laughed, and saw a falling star, and the night was full of magic.

So I don’t know my goals. And that’s all right. I have vague inklings of possibilities and I’ll hopefully pick some of them and goal-ify them at some point . . . but here are a few.

Goal Options

  • I know I want to finish The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2), since I’m still a couple of chapters from finishing. I’m so close that I can taste the final scenes but I haven’t quite dared to sit down and actually go for it. The pressure. (New Year’s Eve me thinks I should just get on and DO it already. In time, in time. Tare will make sure it happens, I don’t doubt . . .)

After that . . . I don’t know, exactly.

  • I should like to do something with The Siren and the Skyship, but I don’t know what its next step is — whether that’s working on rewriting it or carrying on with starting the next book in the series. Decisions, decisions.

  • I will probably end up working on something in Tare’s series after I finish KW2, but there are many options there, so again, I don’t know. (I should probably edit KW2 as well, which is a slightly scary thought. At least editing the new parts to be beta-readable . . . which is more doable.)

  • The Other Half of Everything lurks patiently and occasionally tackles me and makes me write a snippet or part of a chapter here and there. So I might work on it more — it always plays second fiddle to whatever my main project is, so someday I suspect it’s going to work its way into the spotlight of my main focus. We’ll just have to see when that might be.
  • And I have a few short stories I’d like to finish.
  • Plus, there are always other novels lurking, in case I’d like to be kidnapped by one of them, although the three above have been my Big Three for the last while.

So you see, I have plenty of options. I just don’t know, after this one goal (last 2 chapters of KW2), which option is going to pick me. (Because sometimes it feels that way instead of the other way around . . .)

Non-Story Goals

  • I’d like to a.) blog a fair amount, b.) actually do something with the newsletter list I started (*nervous laughter*), and c.) I’d love to go to Realm Makers again if I possibly can. (Which raises another question regarding what I should do before then, with which novels, for what next steps, if anything can happen on time — which is doubtful — and all of that’s a little too terrifying for me to want to think about just yet.)
  • Book reviews and my copyediting business will also continue, hopefully, so I’m excited for that. 🙂

It’s all very well to pretend you’re not home when the Sackville-Bagginses come calling, but who knows if 2019 might not be, instead, a whole bunch of dwarves and a wizard, waiting to take us on an adventure? We might miss out. So I think I’ll answer that door anyhow, even if I don’t know my dreams and goals yet. 😉

Speaking of dreams and goals, here’s a quick run-down of accomplishments of the last year, from my 2018 dreams post, since I’m curious how I did with them!

Dreams from 2018 that came true

  1. Finish a novel (possibly The Siren and the Skyship) — CHECK! This was definitely a highlight, finishing in the midst of NaNo.
  2. Start Instagramming — Done! I’ve already posted over 100 bookish pictures there since starting in July and it’s the. most. fun. thing. ever!
  3. Start a Facebook pageCheck! Though I should definitely get back to posting on it more . . .
  4. Set up my official website — DONE! This was one of the hugest and most exhausting but also rewarding things. I did it all by myself and it was hard but I’m super happy with how it turned out.
  5. Spend more time writing stories/characters I love most — Check! Tare and The Other Half of Everything and The Siren and the Skyship definitely qualify.
  6. Get my freelance proofreading/copyediting business off the ground — Done! I spent a lot of last year editing fabulous stories for Kyle Robert Shultz, mostly. (My new title is The Editor of the Afterverse.) I’m excited for the projects I have lined up to hopefully edit this year. I adore polishing novels and short stories, catching all the typos in my typo-net. ❤ I’m calling it a very successful first year of editing. 🙂
  7. Have a giveaway or two — Done! I love giving away books so I hope to keep doing that.
  8. Go to the Realm Makers 2018 conference — YES! When I wrote that as a “dream” I had no idea it could actually happen, but it did and was the most amazing experience! (A post and another post about it.)

Half Accomplished

  1. Start a newsletter — Check! Ish. I set it up but haven’t really sent one out yet, which is slightly awkward. (But it’s terrifying, okay!) Setting up the list itself is a start. I hope to figure out the grand art of newsletters soon-ish. (And hey, if you sign up for it you get a free flash fiction, and will get to read my first newsletter I send, whenever I do! XD)
  2. Just write (no more perfectionism/not-starting) — Sort of? I’d say 50/50 on this.
  3. Letting myself have writing time — Not really? But at the same time I did write a fair amount. I do need to work on these two more, though.
  4. Develop the Siren and the Skyship sequels — Part of me is tempted to say I accomplished this, given that the two sequels have exploded and changed and switched places and also stolen parts of book one. So they’re more developed, but definitely not enough to actually write. So, again, half.
  5. Be open about writing dreams/thoughts on my blog — I did at times, but I also didn’t blog here nearly as much as I usually do, since I was rather busy living life, so I feel like I didn’t have much of a chance to talk about these things.
  6. Get closer to publishing something — The writing, learning, and network building that I’ve done this past year is definitely getting me closer to this elusive goal, but there’s still nothing definite. So I’m calling this half-accomplished.

Didn’t Do

  1. Finish the short stories I started — Nope. But I nearly finished two novels so I’m okay with this. It just wasn’t their time, apparently. 😛
  2. Figure out what I plan to do about publishing — I’ve learned a lot more in the last year about publishing, both traditional and indie, but I’m still no closer to a decision about what I’m going to do with my own writing.
  3. Write more blog posts — Heheh. Not really. XD
  4. Gather publishing/marketing info as a list of tips — Nope. Would still like to do this someday, maybe?

Well! I’m pretty happy with how many of those dreams I managed to track down and haul into becoming a reality! 🙂

A few other highlights:

Writerly Highlights: 2018

I wrote 103K words in 2018! Which makes me happy. (I usually average around that much but had quite a bit less in 2017 so I’m happy that my slump went away. XD)

This included:

  • 51,600 words of The Siren and the Skyship and finished it at a total of 95K!
  • 42,700 words of KW2 (which is currently at 123K and almost finished. *cough*)
  • 4,000 words of The Other Half of Everything, including finishing the first chapter (even though I have about 18K of the book total; I write out of order . . . it’s complicated.)

Other writing stuff that happened:

  • My 2013 NaNo, Underground Rainbow, decided it’s actually a trilogy and split itself into three parts. (This means the first book is suddenly finished, even though I didn’t write any extra. How beautiful is that?)
  • The two sequels to The Siren and the Skyship exploded and then switched places, so that book 3 is now book 2, and book 2 is now book 3. It broke my brain but I’m excited. I also had major breakthroughs about the Sky Voyages series in general.
  • Tare’s series had a couple of interesting developments regarding side stories.
  • I did some major plotting for The Other Half of Everything.
  • Tare and a KW side character nobody’s met yet, along with the purple-haired painter/artist Kevin Johnson from Undercavern Rainbow, as well as Ivan and Lulin Aurelius from The Other Half of Everything, and a raven-shifter fellow, have all decided that they want an urban fantasy novel mashup with all of them in it, and that they’re going to team up for a magical heist, and EXCUSE ME why did none of you guys tell me your books existed in the same world?? HELLO. O_O (Pushy characters. I tell ya.) Anyway, that happened. It’s called The Portal Heist and I’m super excited. I do, awkwardly, have to finish several other books before I can get to this one, but it gives me something to look forward to. 😉

I also:

  • Won a flash-fiction writing contest
  • Was a finalist in another flash-fiction contest
  • Did Camp NaNo in April and passed my 10-hour goal
  • Participated in (and won) NaNoWriMo in November for the 9th time. I wrote 58,323 words, which is the most I’ve written in a single month, ever.
  • Won the Indie E-con word-war with over 10K words in a week. XD
  • Kept my 9th writing-journal and wrote in it every week
  • I mentioned this, but I expanded my online platform with my new website, Instagram, Facebook and Facebook page, and newsletter.
  • Had many lovely get-togethers with delightful writer friends, including workshops, a writer retreat in a cozy cabin over a weekend, Realm Makers (!!), NaNoWriMo events, and just getting together in small groups and chatting. ❤
  • Ran a local NaNo region for the 6th year
  • Wrote 92 blog posts (across my two blogs), including a guest post about Draft Zero
  • And it’s not exactly writerly, but I went on two major roadtrips this last year (one to Realm Makers, one to visit family) and they were both awesome. We can call that research?

Whew! I had no idea so much awesomeness happened. I’m very glad I decided to write this post after all and found out. XD

I’m going to call 2018 an EXCELLENT year in the writing department, and look forward to the new year.

2019.

*tastes how it sounds*

Let’s make it a good one, shall we?

I’ll leave you with my new bullet journal (bjournal, as I Nordic-ly call it) and my new writing journal — a fabulous steampunk cat!

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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! ❤

The Return of the 777 Writing Challenge

I know I haven’t been posting much, and it’s because I’M SWAMPED GETTING READY FOR REALM MAKERS. *shrieking*

Ahem. (Really excited, though! :D)

If you’re going to be at the #RealmMakers2018 writers’ conference next week, I hope I’ll see you there!

Meantime, I’m stealing this writing tag from the awesome Claire Banschbach because I wanted an excuse to share some snippets. XD (And because it has paragraphs instead of merely lines — huzzah!)

Rules

  1. Open your WIP to the seventh page
  2. Scroll past the seventh line
  3. Copy the next seven paragraphs and paste them on your blog for THE WORLD to read
  4. Tag seven people

Let’s Do This Thing

I’m using my three current Works in Progress, because I’m contrary like that. 😉

I’m sharing a bit from The Other Half of Everything, and also from two other WIPs… with a twist.

See, the part from The Siren and the Skyship that would normally be the 7th page is going to be rewritten, so instead, I’m counting from my writing-since-NaNo which is kind of part 2 of the book.

Similarly, since I shared a 777 snippet from The Secret of Kedran’s Wood already (and then again), I’m counting 7 pages into part 2 for that as well.

Enjoy these glimpses at Teague and Meridian, Rook and Xasper, and Tare and Adrian. 🙂 (And please forgive any first-draft-ish-ness.)


The Other Half of Everything

He swiveled around. “Oh, where are my manners? Of course,” he said.

I could have given him an answer to that, but I kept a lid on it, because potential job and everything.

He held out his hand and gave a rather absentminded smile. “The name’s Teague. Teague Aurelius. A pleasure to meet you.”

Same,” I said, shaking his hand. What? A girl can’t lie occasionally in the interests of being polite? Somebody certainly needed to be that around here.

What was your name again?” Teague asked as he turned away and clambered up a ladder to reach a book on a shelf near the ceiling.

Meridian Brownley,” I said crisply. I’d already told him twice. Politeness was suddenly overrated. I could see why it didn’t do anything for him.

Overcompensating, were they?” he muttered on his way back down, a book under each arm, another tucked under his chin somehow, and a fourth open in one hand, which he seemed to be trying to read while using the other hand to help himself down the ladder. It flashed through my mind that his great-uncle might not be the only person around here to become deceased.


(Note: Xasper is a street urchin and Rook is in the Royal Skynavy. Rook recently discovered that Xasper is his long-lost little brother and tries to take him in — which Xasper has opinions about. This is the first time they have tea together in Rook’s flat.)

The Siren and the Skyship

Xasper was looking at him expectantly over the scone he was munching, as if waiting for him to say something.

“What?” Rook asked.

“I said, I’m surprised you didn’t make me wash my hands before eating these.”

Rook blinked. “Why are you surprised at that?”

Xasper shrugged. “Thought you’d be the rules-and-regs type.”

Eying the grubby fingers in question, Rook said carefully, “What you do with your hands is your business. Now that you mention it, I might suggest doing something about it, but I’m not going to shove a lot of orders down your throat if that’s what you’re wondering.”

Xasper watched him for another second, then put down the remains of the scone, hopped up quickly and crossed to the washstand where he cleaned his hands, then returned to the table. He pursed his lips and rubbed a smudge off the pastry before downing the rest of it in one gulp, and washing it down with tea.


The Secret of Kedran’s Wood

And Tare knew Adrian—he would follow and try to get involved and “help” if he even suspected that Tare had anything as interesting going on as being chased by a gunman. He had to get him out of the way without telling him there was any danger, but make it clear that Adrian was not welcome to follow him around today and pester him with questions or whatever reason he had come looking for Tare. There was no time to explain.

As his thoughts calculated, humming swiftly through his mind, Tare was already moving across the roof toward where the ladder came up, and had almost reached it as Adrian made it to the rooftop and stood upright. His blue denim jacket and tousled blond hair would make a great target in all this snow and lifelessly-gray architecture.

“Tare—” Adrian began, panting a little from his quick climb. But Tare tuned him entirely out, ignoring whatever words followed, and made straight for him. Before Adrian had quite figured out that Tare wasn’t stopping, Tare practically walked into him, forcing Adrian to back up a couple steps, breaking off with a “Whoa—” and holding his hands up.

Tare punched Adrian full in the jaw, sending him reeling back over the edge of the roof. Tare had planned and timed it perfectly. Adrian plummeted directly into the dumpster by the building, which Tare happened to know was entirely filled with mounds of black garbage bags filled with raked leaves, covered in a thick layer of snow.

Tare walked off across the roof, pausing only briefly enough to be sure that Adrian had landed safely where he’d wanted him—he’d be a little sore and likely furious at Tare, but at least he wouldn’t end up getting shot as long as he took the hint and went home.

Glancing over at the alley on the other side of the building Tare stood on, he spied Greg just coming into sight, and let him catch sight of him, fully in view against the sky on the rooftop for long enough to grab his attention, before sprinting off across the roof and leaping onto the next one in the long chain of buildings there. Greg and company gave chase.

Tare stayed out of sight for the most part, to avoid being an actual target, but let them see him just often enough that they knew he was still ahead of them. And he drew them off — away from where Adrian was likely clambering sulkily from the dumpster — drawing them back toward his new escape plan, closer to his lair and the edge of Kedran’s Wood.


Tagging

I tag… Sarah, Skye, Mikayla, Daley, Shantelle, KelseyC.B., and… I ran out of people in the 7, but I also tag YOU/anyone else who wants to do it! And those I did tag, absolutely no pressure if you’d rather not/don’t have time. ❤

(I’m also not tagging Realm Makers peeps because I suspect you’re as busy as I am, BUT if you’d like to give this a shot at a later date, DO IIIT! :D)

If you do, link back so I can read your awesome snippets too!


I hope you enjoyed that! What was your favorite part, or which character do you like the best? XD Thanks for reading!

(And if there are any fellow Realmies reading this, drop me a line! 🙂 I want to meet everyonnne!)

Camp NaNo Ishness/Hiatus

Hello, reader peeps!

If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to during the last few weeks of relative silence around here, you’re in luck!

It’s time for an Ishness post — hurrah!

In which I recap my Camp NaNo and other Ishnesses of April. It’s been a busy and exciting month! And also to say that I’m taking a bit of a blogging break for May.

There may also be snippets. And photography.

So let’s get to it!

Camp NaNo Writing Adventures

I participated in and completed Camp NaNo!

And it was amazing, guys. So, so amazing. I’ve missed writing.

Thanks to some awesome wordsprints courtesy of Jenelle and Sarah and some other writing friends, I discovered that I can write 1K in 40 minutes’ worth of wordsprints, which led to a whirlwind of Camp writing for me. I’m. so. excited. I had written hardly anything this year and it was so delightful to finally get back into it!

I made my goal of 10 hours of writing/writing-related-stuff-like-plotting-and-editing, hitting 11 hours for the month.

My April writing accomplishments included:

  • 11,439 words of writing.
  • Naming an important character (the hero of book 3 of my Sky Voyages retelling trilogy) — he’s a pirate and his name is Keller. 😀
  • Outlining the next several parts of The Siren and the Skyship.
  • Realizing I need to redo basically all that I’d written of the book during last November, but OH WELL, at least I know. XD I think I’ll try to power through to the end before rewrites… hopefully…
  • I wrote 10K words of The Siren and the Skyship, a mix of rough first draft and draft-zero, some in order, some later on. But it’s the first writing on this I’ve done since last year’s NaNo, so I’m excited to be back to it!
  • My characters seemed to spend a lot of their time meeting at night on rooftops. Okay, then! Also, I’m having the best time writing about my character Rook.
  • I also wrote 1300 words of The Other Half of Everything, finishing and editing the first chapter, which has been in a half-written-out-of-order state for years.
  • GUYS. I’M DONE A WHOLE CHAPTER OF THE OTHER HALF OF EVERYTHING.
  • I have several thousand words of OHE written, but it’s all in snippets out of order. So having a completed first chapter all finished is SO EXCITING to me!
  • Anyway, between plotting, writing 10K of S&S, and finishing OHE’s first chapter, I’m very pleased with what I got done this month for Camp NaNo. 🙂 I’m hoping to keep up the writing momentum, but we’ll see what happens.

Snippets!

… exchanging the usual niceties one exchanged over tea.

“What did you want to see me about?” Rook asked finally, politely but warily.

He was not used to being called on by dignitaries, and was more than usually aware that his new little brother, sitting right at the table with them, was a street thief. Although Xasper had been silent and as well-mannered as could be, he could well be a ticking steam-bomb counting down to something disastrous.

It was all rather alarming, really, and the sooner it was all over with, the better Rook would like it.

The Siren and the Skyship

***

Percival chose this extremely inopportune time to wake up and hear what they were discussing. “Don’t even think about it, Mania,” he said blearily from his half-asleep and bandaged state. “You’re the princess, and as a princess, you can’t go there without causing an international incident.”

Tasmania shooed a hand at her brother. “I know, I know. As a princess, I won’t.”

“Not as a Royal Skynavy captain either,” he warned.

Blast. He shouldn’t even be alert enough to notice. “As you command, my king,” Tasmania said, saluting. But Auren and Noya were giving her Looks which meant they knew exactly what she was thinking.

Fortunately, Percival’s eyes had drifted shut again and he didn’t see.

Well then. Not a princess, and not a captain, either. She would go as herself—even if she had to smuggle herself in a pirate ship to do so.

Which, incidentally, was exactly what she planned to do.

The Siren and the Skyship

***

“Do try not to jump; it disturbs the books,” the young man remarked.

— The Other Half of Everything

***

He held out his hand and gave a rather absentminded smile. “The name’s Teague. Teague Aurelius. A pleasure to meet you.”

“Same,” I said, shaking his hand. What? A girl can’t lie occasionally in the interests of being polite? Somebody certainly needed to be that around here.

The Other Half of Everything

Reading

I… did not read very much this month. Between Camp NaNo and editing and life, not to mention starting about half a dozen books and then not finishing them (I’m in 5 right now; it’s embarrassing) I don’t have much to show in the reading department.

I managed to hit my 50-book goal for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, though! (I’ve been including short stories this year, okay. Don’t be too amazed. :P)

But I did read a handful of things. A picture book, ONE novel (The Lost Castle, which I reviewed), two short stories, and two non-fiction short ebooks about writing. Aaand that’s it. They were all pretty good, and I highly recommend Jamie Foley and Angela Castillo’s Busy Moms’ Guide to Writing even for those who are not busy moms but are still writers. XD

Not pictured but hopefully releasing in the next month or two is Horseman by Kyle Robert Shultz, which I edited and therefore read a couple times this month. It’s hilarious, and is a fantastic magical wild west tale, so watch for that!

Watching

  • I re-watched the first couple episodes of the original season of Sherlock… which was neat to re-visit. XD (They’re so YOUNG, though! :O)
  • I saw a bit more White Collar, which I’m still enjoying aside from the usual bits I don’t care for that all TV has. But it’s still fun. XD Love these characters!
  • I started watching Trollhunters, just a few episodes, which is a lot of fun so far.
  • And a little NCIS and original Star Trek. To keep me on my toes.
  • I also re-watched The Last Jedi and… eh. I’m still mixed on it, but that seems to happen to me with ALL movies these days, so. 😛 (I need a crystal fox.)

Listening

  • I’m still listening to Wander with Me, Smoke and Mirrors, and Rise and Fall periodically from Brittany Jean’s latest album. ❤

  • Jen Ledger, the drummer girl for the band Skillet, started her own band: Ledger! I’m kind of excited because she’s so sweet and I love her voice, so this is great. I’ve been listening to the tracks she just released and having fun with those. 🙂

  • Speaking of Skillet, you know how sometimes you get a song stuck in your head and listen to it all the time because it’s so catchy and the latest thing you love? Well I have that with Stay ‘Til the Daylight (by Skillet), which my character Rook informed me is his theme song for the sequel to The Siren and the Skyship.
  • It’s also been Camp NaNo so I’ve been listening to fast word-warring music and the Ren: The Girl with the Mark soundtrack because it’s perfect for the “feel” of The Siren and the Skyship — gorgeous and epic.
  • And Cara Dillon, because her voice is amazing. ❤

  • (Yes, I’m aware this is a strange mix of music. I have unique taste. *cough*)

Life

  • It’s been quite the busy month, juggling life and various projects/work and Camp NaNo.

  • I won my first writing contest with my otter flash fiction (my goodness, was that this month?)!
  • Camp NaNo kept me on my toes. XD But it was glorious focusing on writing again.

  • I randomly realized “OH, I HAVE A WATTPAD ACCOUNT; I SHOULD USE IT,” and posted Wintertale over there. I may put up another couple of short stories when I have time.
  • Arielle Bailey more or less convinced me that my personality type is probably ISFP even though I’ve tested as a couple other types (INFP/INFJ). I’m going to look into it more but from what she said, it seems legit. XD (Arielle, do that MBTI blog series!)
  • I got to attend a lovely writer retreat; it was fun getting to hang out with a bunch of fellow writer gals for a weekend! ❤ Not to mention appropriate, because it was like a real-live Camp NaNo! 😉 It was amazing. ^_^

sunset

cozy cottage

sunrise from the balcony

May Plans / Hiatus

I’m taking a bit of a blogging/internet break during May.

Before anybody panics (no panicking, okay?), this is not to say that I won’t be around at all. There are, after all, a few exciting things going on this month (like the ones I mentioned in my In Bookish News post on my book blog) which I may (haha, pun!) drop in on. Plus, my hiatuses (hiatusi?) don’t always turn out as hiatus-y (shh, it’s a word) as I plan; but it should help anyway. XD

(Goodness, that was a lot of parentheses. Please excuse.)

I just need to give myself permission to step away a little and breathe. Sometimes everything gets to be a little much, you know?

I’m a little worn out with all the busyness that’s been non-stop for the past four months, and I also need to catch up on things and do some more prep for Realm Makers (which is creeping up on us at an alarming rate!).

So for my own sanity (what’s that? O_O), I’m reining back a little, and if you need to get a hold of me I’m sure I’ll still be checking email. 😉

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a Merry Month of May, friends! ❤ And let me know what’s up with you, in the comments! ^_^

#WIPjoy: The Other Half of Everything

(images found on Pinterest, other than the title banner in the middle)

As you may or may not be aware (depending on whether you follow me on Twitter or not), I took part in this month’s #WIPjoy challenge, which was great fun! ^_^

I really enjoyed sharing all my answers to the prompts in one handy spot, here on my blog, when I did it last October for The Siren and the Skyship, so I’d like to do that again!

This month I featured The Other Half of Everything, and I thought y’all might enjoy another glance at that work-in-progress of mine, so here you go…

#WIPjoy (Work In Progress Joy) is a writing meme hosted by Bethany Jennings @simmeringmind

WEEK 1: INTRO

Day 1: Introduce your MC & their story

Meridian: 17, no-nonsense, unreliable narrator. <3’s music. Zero patience for Teague.

Teague: the other MC; writer, bookworm, Hero.

Their story: Fantasy world(s), unexpected romance, Teague’s broken/quirky family. Humor, snark, DWJ-esque.

(mock “cover” made by me from images on Pinterest)

Day 2: About you! List 5 things you value

  • Fantasy
  • Heroism
  • Truth
  • Humor
  • Happy endings

About me: Fantasy writer, reader, blogger, punctuation enthusiast (freelance copyeditor/proofreader), Tolkienite, Diana Wynne Jones fan, avid bookshelf organizer, secretly an otter. ^_^

Day 3: A line that’s attention-grabbing

But, I reasoned, it wasn’t the end of the world. It could be worse. Teague could have been an axe-murderer instead of just a writer. I’d live with it. I’d have to.

Day 4: Your main writing goal this year

I’m more doing Dreams than Goals, but some of the main ones are: finish another novel, expand writing platform (newsletter/social media/website), and maybe go to Realm Makers. Here’s a list of my 2018 writing dreams.

Day 5: Your MC’s greatest yearning

Meridian yearns to change the world with music.

Teague… well… who knows what he wants, vague man of mystery that he is…

(Okay, you never heard this from him, but he wants to fix his estranged family relationships and save a couple worlds…)

Day 6: An aesthetic/visual for the WIP

WEEK 2: PRIDE AND JOY

Day 7: Your writing victories of 2017

Wrote 86K (30K in short stories), 5 whole short stories, started a new novel I love, won NaNo for 8th time, NEW PLOTBUNNIES, wrote in my writing journal every week, 116 blog posts.

Day 8: Your strengths as a writer

I have strengths? O.o (JK… *cough* >.>)

I like to think a dash of humor, elegant writing, fun characters, and snappy dialog, are my strengths.

Anyone who’s read anything I’ve written: What do you think my strengths are? I’d love to know!

Day 9: A line that makes you grin

[How about THE WHOLE THING?? Ahem.]

“Pardon me, Miss Meridian, but did you live under a rock your whole life?”

“No, I lived under you,” I shot back. “Which is clearly the same thing.”

Day 10: A character friendship you love

Teague and Meridian. I LOVE their dynamic/snark (but pleasant too… kinda). He annoys her. XD And they’ll fall in love. OBViously. Especially since they don’t know it. Both will deny EVERYTHING if you ask ’em. 😉 *evil author is evil*

Day 11: Has this WIP made you cry?

Not yet. *cue ominous music* I’m writing snippets out of order, so I haven’t been in the mode/emotional. Anytime I think about Teague & his family problems I cry a little inside though. (And then I laugh/smirk/fangirl because I love them.)

Day 12: 5 things you like about this WIP

  • TEAGUE. Can’t describe him
  • Involves a writer (see above) + bookishness
  • Fun + banter (love writing/re-reading!)
  • ALL THE FANTASY. (Spoilers, sweetie. But fantasy worlds…)
  • The “feel” (Diana Wynne Jones-ish but not) + characters/relationships

Day 13: A magical moment in the story

“What happened?” I asked Teague, meaning: “how did you end up locked in an invisible enchanted prison-thing?”

“I made a Wind Chaser angry.”

“And how on earth did you go about doing that?”

“It must have been my charming personality.”

WEEK 3: BOLD CREATIVITY

Day 14: A poem about/from your WIP

No poetry in it as yet; anything serious would be spoilers.

Random/silly thing:

It horrified (or slightly bothered) Teague
To find Meridian and Lulin in league
About his lack of a good memory
But he quickly forgot and went back to his tea

Day 15: Your best tip for writer’s block

Turn on a timer and try writing just until it goes off, and see if you don’t find that you’re writing after all…

Day 16: (1) A line that feels daring

[Drawing a blank, so have this one.]

“Well, what’s wrong with him?” Gran asked.

I grasped about for the right words and couldn’t find them. “…Everything!”

I didn’t know the half of it.

Day 16: (2) Other creative outlets you enjoy

Wait, there’s something other than writing? O.o

Sometimes: graphic/web design, sketch, color, crafty things [origami/knit/crochet], play a line on piano/pennywhistle.

But who has time for that when there’s books to read/write??

Day 17: Your WIP described as a food

A coffee-cake, mildly brownish and demure and coffee-flavored at first, so it’s tasty; but when you cut it open, there’s a whole new world of a hundred different colors and flavors inside…

Day 18: 3 songs that inspire me (for The Other Half of Everything)

Touch the Sky (Brave)

Walls (After the Morning – Cara Dillon)

Into the Open Air (Brave)

(First: the wonder of worlds; other two: Teague & Ivan… ‘Scuse me while I go cry.)

Day 19: Doodle an image from the story!

I… er… haven’t drawn anything for this one, so have my very first fan-art, from my dear friend Skye Hoffert, instead. (It’s Meridian and Teague and it makes me happy. ^_^)

Meridian and Teague (art by Sky Hoffert)

Day 20: How is writing this WIP brave?

My first novel in first-person w/ unreliable narrator + nothing like me. Writing out of order. Throwing away all story conventions & doing what I want. Aspiring to be a bit like Diana Wynne Jones. Dealing w/ dark things but a fun story.

WEEK 4: CHARACTER TAKEOVER!

(Character takeover week is my FAVORITE! :D)

Day 21: MC: your favorite holiday

Meridian: Bonfire Night.

Teague: National Read a Book Day.

M: IS there such a thing?

T: I haven’t the faintest notion, but there ought to be.

M: You could look it up.

T: Too much work… *goes back to reading*

Day 22: Antagonist: your side goals

I’m skipping this one since my antagonist(s) are… erm… in the works. >.> Which is to say, I’m having a hard time pinning them down. -_- (Anyone have villain tips? *cough*)

Day 23: A line of dialogue

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

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

“Remarkably wise of you,” Teague called back.

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

“That’s probably for the best.”

Day 24: MC: describe your work day

Meridian: I go upstairs & clean house/make food for THIS guy so he won’t burn the house down.

Teague: *blinks absently* Work? What’s that? I don’t work; I ART. *reads/writes/makes money on scribblings*

M: No idea how he gets away with that. -_-

Day 25: Sidekick: a day your life changed

Lulin: Classified. Sorry, sweetie. *smiles*

Me: You could —

L: If I told you, I’d have to kill you. Politely… But you’d still be dead = unpleasant for both of us. So. Classified. ^_^

Me: … The problem with questions like this… -_-

Day 26: Antag: do you relate to the MC?

(I’m using Ivan for this one; he’s slightly antagonistic, though not villainous.)

Ivan: No.

Me: I didn’t mention if said MC is Meridian or Teague —

Ivan: NO.

Me: (He kind of does because — )

Ivan: SHUT UP.

Day 27: Main Character: a memory about family

Meridian: I don’t really remember my parents, but one of my mother playing the violin I play now. Gold music and sunlight in her hair.
Teague: My siblings & I on some adventure. NOT the dragon one. (Me: Too late.) Very well, that one. Fun times…

WEEK 5: VISION

Day 28: How do you hope to publish?

AHAHAHAHA.

Ahem.

I have no clue yet. Hence the insane laughter. (Hope you enjoyed that, by the way, because it’s all the answer you’re getting, unfortunately… Come back in a century or two once I know. *tips hat* Good day…)

Day 29: Who do you write for?

Teens, twenty-somethings, and those young at heart, who enjoy a good fantasy tale with a dash of humor and elegance and (I like to think) a unique twist on a thing or two, and don’t want to worry about content or an agenda. Just a good ol’ enjoyable story. 🙂

Day 30: A line about hopes or goals

Teague sighed as if he carried the burden of the world on his shoulders. “My new life goal is to turn you into a bookworm. Preferably of fantasy. Read this.”

“Why would I want to read a book?” I protested.

“Because I am selflessly lending it to you.”

Day 31: Where to find you (link day!)

Still working on that official website; stay tuned. 😂


What do you think? Comment below — I’d love to chat! Thanks for reading! ^_^