The Sunken Realm by Serena Chase: Review (Pirates!)

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(Yes, I made this. I couldn’t help it…)

THE SUNKEN REALM KINDLE COVER SEPT 2015The Sunken Realm

by Serena Chase

5 stars

Fantasy / Christian Allegorical / Pirates / Twelve Dancing Princesses Retelling (ish)

Book #4 in the Eyes of E’veria series (but can be read as book 2 in the second set within that series, after The Seahorse Legacy).

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My Review

I’ve been breathlessly awaiting THE SUNKEN REALM ever since I finished reading THE SEAHORSE LEGACY. And at long last I have read it! (Many thanks to the author for the free copy I received in exchange for my — honest — review! Which follows…)

This book has pretty much everything. Love. Pirates. Fantasy. A touch of time-travel. A twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale. Duels of sharpened wit in dialog. Actual duels (or at least fights). Adventure on the high seas (and/or islands). Awesome characters. And of course Cazien (see above).

In a sense, it starts a little slow, focusing on Cazien’s and Erielle’s relationship, but honestly I didn’t care that not much was happening excitement-wise, and would have been content to read an entire book about them doing nothing, because I just love them so much and I was never once bored. But not to worry — it quickly got quite exciting! Oh, did it ever. I was on the edge of my seat with all the thrilling adventures they got up to, including dealing with sinister plots and all the mysteries and fighting and the Island Realm and all.

Readers of the first two books (THE RYN and THE REMEDY, which I haven’t read yet, having started on book 3, THE SEAHORSE LEGACY) will be glad to see Julien, Rynnaia, Rowlen, Gerrias and others make quite an appearance in this one, about halfway through.

Things that I loved:

  • Cazien is still basically the best thing of ever!! Ah, that dashing endearing rogue of a Seahorse Pirate, ever ready with a blade or a perfect snatch of dialog. Impossible to describe, just take my word for it that Cazien is one of the awesomest characters ever.
  • Cazien and Erielle together. They are positively adorbz. Erielle grows a lot in her character arc and I’m happy to say that I liked her in this book! (She had been getting on my nerves in the previous one.) She has so much spark and fire and bounce to her. And she and Cazien in their duels of wit and their love story are simply perfect and precious and awesome. It’s so much fun. ❤
  • The dialog, humor, wit, and flying sparks. This sort of fits into the previous point. But all the dialog is great, especially between Cazien and Erielle, and between Erielle and Ayorn — aahh I loved that! (She’s quite talkative, and Ayorn is… not. So amusing. XD)
  • Along that line: Ayorn. AYORN WAS AWESOME. THAT IS ALL. (This coming from a book where you’d think all I’d be able to do is babble on and on about Cazien… well, there’s another fella in here who’s awesome too. That’s most impressive.)
  • Julien and Cazien interacting. Julien, being Erielle’s brother and all, kind of hates Cazien for a bit there and it’s glorious. I loved it so much. XD
  • Rowlen and the Storyteller stuff. IT. IS. AMAZING. I adore it way too much and simply NEED to go back and read the first two books if only for more glimpses at Veetrish storytelling. That’s fabulous fantasy. (Can I live in E’veria and be a Storyteller, please and thank you?)
  • Speaking of… The setting. I was so immersed in this stunningly rich and well-drawn world! The islands, the sea, everything — I was so much a part of it and so pulled in. A fabulous world that I want to read on and on about!
  • The twelve dancing princesses bits!!! Wow. It took awhile for that part of the story to arrive, but when it did I was just so so SO excited to see parts of the fairytale weaving into this new tale in a totally unique, different way, and yet there all the same. AAHH. It was so fascinating. I just loved it. (My favorite fairytale and all… and this was a totally new take on it!) It’s not TOO big of a part of the overall plot, but important enough to be awesome.
  • The Christian allegorical stuff was simply beautiful. Erielle’s struggles and the scene at the end of part one… so powerful. Rynloeft, the E’verian equivalent of God, had a definite presence in the book which I found very well done. Christian fantasy of this sort is a favorite of mine.
  • Everything about the Seahorse Legacy. I love the idea of these Seahorse Pirates who are the wielders of justice on the high seas… And everything about the Legacy which Cazien carries as its Heir, his connection with the currents and even the brilliance of everything relating to his inability to be inland too long in connection with the main plot problem. I. Loved. That. It was brilliant. And poor Cazien! Whenever he needs to go be in the sea… Just awesome. ❤ But… yes, all of the Seahorse Pirate stuff was some of my favorite ever. This is awesome fantasy, y’all. (Plus, piratey stuff! Yay!)
  • Also their apparent motto: “May justice and truth be served.” (And usually answered with something about cleverness… a sort of pass-code, almost.) I loved it!! It’s used so often and I became so familiar with it that when I was reading another, totally unrelated book, after reading this one, the characters were talking about justice and I found myself wanting — and in fact expecting! — them to say “May justice and truth be served.” It would have been as natural as breathing. And then I was actually disappointed that they didn’t, in fact, say it; before realizing that DUH, of COURSE they didn’t — this was an entirely different story! Ahem. All that to say, I’m very attached. ❤
  • Last but not least: Timey wimey. There’s not a lot of it and I can’t say much because spoilers, but the time-travel-ish things were so cool and really added an extra layer of awesomeness to this story.

As far as downsides… I had some slight disappointments in the plot, and also I can’t entirely recommend it to everyone, just because it was more dark and adult, which is a bit unfortunate to my mind… but couldn’t really have been avoided. There were some darker, scarier, more mature themes than even in The Seahorse Legacy, and some disturbing stuff. I’d definitely recommend it for older readers; not so much YA. I’d call it adult, myself (though I may be overreacting…). And I do wish . . . oh, a hundred things! *clutches heart* I can’t really complain here because spoilers, but I wish a thing or two had turned out slightly different… *wistful sigh* But all in all it turned out pretty well and I don’t have anything to complain about other than a personal preference or two.

Basically I loved THE SUNKEN REALM and just want to hug these characters and live on the high seas of E’veria with the Seahorse Pirates forever.

In the words of the Seahorse Heir himself: “May justice and truth be served. …And may I be clever in the dispensing of it.” Oh, you are, Cazien. You are. Always. ❤

Snippets Galore! (NaNo 2015)

In which there are snippets from the three stories I worked on writing during NaNoWriMo 2015. (Since I turned Rebel this last NaNo, which is a topic of its own for a later post, perhaps…) Enjoy!

SilverForestCoverFinal

THE SILVER FOREST

Beast and rider swept up at a gallop and came to a halt directly in front of the princesses. The animal pawed at the ground with a hoof and snorted, prancing in place for a moment before standing very still.

Silver stared at it in awe, for it was not a horse but a magnificent kingly stag, silver-white, with a grand array of sweeping horns.

Except, in this point there was later an argument. For some of the sisters distinctly remembered it being a horse, others a stag like Silver, and others in fact a unicorn. Some of them claimed it was white, others that it was silver, and a few that it was a solid black like the clothes of its rider. They were all adamant about what they had seen, convinced they were right, but the accounts varied so much, and they could not come to an agreement.

As for the rider of the black or white or silver creature (horse or stag or unicorn), he was quite as magnificent to look at.

His hand clutched the reins in the act of reining his steed to a halt, in an effortless yet strong gesture, and he sat very straight in the saddle—if there indeed was a saddle (or reins, in fact), for there was some confusion over the existence or absence of that as well—and he had very tall shiny black boots and was dressed entirely in black. Pants, tunic, and great caped cloak, all were deepest black, edged with intricate silver embroidery.

He had a mane of black hair that flowed loose and fell past his shoulders. His face was very handsome in a fierce and frowning way, with the angles of his jaw and nose and cheekbones all sharp but smooth at the same time, in the way of a statue carved of stone. He looked to be about twenty-five years of age.

There was a strength of presence about him that Silver had never felt before, and she thought it was as one with the wild calm of the feeling of the silver forest itself. He belonged there, she felt. And yet . . . at the same time he did not. He was like no one she had ever seen before, though at the same time almost familiar.

A pair of shadowed silver eyes set in that distinctive face keenly took in the group of twelve princesses standing among the silver trees staring back at him like a captive audience.


“And where is ‘here’, if I may ask?”

He seemed to pause. “Faerie,” he said at last.

“And where is that, please?” Silver asked politely, wondering at the strange name.

Taghdach raised one black eyebrow and the corner of his mouth curved into a sardonic smile. It was the first expression he had made yet that was not remotely related to a glare. “It’s . . . difficult to explain. I thought you would have known better than to ask such a question.”

“Indeed, I did not,” Silver shot back, rather nettled at his tone of condescension, and losing her temper rather. “I have never heard of any place called Faerie, or for the matter of that, of any king called Sisceall, so unless you wish me to believe you are entirely making all of this up and deliberately giving us falsehoods for your own amusement, I should advise you to at least explain where we are.”


“Are you not going to dance at your own celebration?” she asked, stopping beside him.

Taghdach did not move for a moment or make any acknowledgment showing he had heard her. Just as she was about to ask again, he stirred and finally glanced over at her.

“Did you say something?”

“As a matter of fact, I did. I was asking if you were not going to dance at your own celebration.”

His silver eyes appraised her for a moment. She tried not to back down from the steely look. He said finally, “Dancing.” Then he shrugged, tossing his mane of black hair. “And it is not my celebration.”

“It is a ball held in honor of your day of birth,” she protested. “That is as much your celebration as anything can be.”

“I do not see that my being born is any cause to celebrate,” Taghdach said in a low voice, his eyes burning past her as if they did not see her at all. “In fact . . . more specifically the opposite,” he added, glancing at the floor, a subtle note of harsh bitterness behind his words.


Taghdach strode off, a swirl of dark cloak and mane of black hair, and disappeared into the silver forest.

“Oh, and he can go off the path, I suppose,” Emerald said.

“I believe, my dear Emerald,” Silver said, “that he does whatever he pleases.”


Seamus gave Peach a flamboyant bow, and casually pulled a silver coin out of Rosie’s golden curls with the deft fingers of his outstretched hand and flicked it through the air to Peach, who caught it.

“If you keep doing that, Father’s going to wonder why he pays you,” Rosie teased.

“You raise a good point,” Seamus mused, rubbing a hand over his jaw.


Seamus always said of himself that he was vain as a peacock, and twice as handsome.


“Well then, how about I make it an extra-special juggling lesson?”

“Like what?”

“With daggers.”

“Oooh!” Rosie’s eyes lit up.

“Oh no you don’t!” Peach cut in quickly.

“Come on, Peaches!” Rosie protested. “Don’t give me that. Since when are you all practical like Silver?”

“I’m not, and I don’t mind if you get dagger juggling lessons sometime, but not just now. It’s almost the ball tonight, and I came to fetch you to get ready. I don’t exactly want your arms slashed all to bits right before, thank you. No offense, Seamus.”

“Oh, it’s taken,” Seamus said. “Are you implying that I’m a poor teacher? I’ll have you know that when I’m teaching your sister to juggle daggers, she’ll be as safe as a baby bird in a dragon’s nest.”

“You’re not reassuring,” Rosie and Peach both said together.

“Did I say a dragon’s nest? I meant a patch of daisies and soft fluffy harmless dandelions. Naturally.”


Finnigan gasped a lungful of breath and threw himself mostly clear of the falling stones, tumbling to lie on the wall top and glancing up to see what— That was when he saw the enormous golden dragon, the cause of the fire and falling masonry, blasting through the air overhead.

He shut his eyes a moment, and reopened them to see if it had been his imagination.

No. Evidently not.

He would have groaned again if he had not been so winded and also busy flinching away from smaller bits of stone falling on him.

A dragon.

This was all he needed.


The guardroom was empty . . . probably because half of it was on fire. That was the problem with dragons. Too much flame.


“Why did you take us this direction?” Finnigan asked, glaring in the direction he thought Kern was, not that it would do any good as neither of them could really see each other in the dark. “You could have taken us to where my father and the rest of the army is.”

“No, I could not,” Kern growled. “I took you the easiest way, through the least enemy soldiers. The castle was surrounded but there were the least the way we took. The way to toward where the king and the rest went would have been through the bulk of the enemy, through the worst part of fighting and the most fire, not to mention the fellow I don’t like with the lightning, and I might add the dragon. So unless you wanted both of us to end up extremely dead in a very short amount of time, this was the best way we could have gone, and taking you to your father would have defeated my orders because you would be dead, and keeping you alive was half of them. Taking you somewhere safe was the other half. So that’s what I’m doing.”

“But—! You—! That—!” Finnigan couldn’t seem to get his words to work with how exasperated he was. He threw his hands in the air. “Why am I even talking to you?”

“Excellent question,” Kern said dryly. “Finally one that I’m glad you asked.”

R&R

THE ROSE AND THE RAVEN

Derrick was up early that morning, walking along the corridor in search of breakfast, minding his own business, when a whirlwind suddenly ran into him.

“Whoa—!” He regained his balance, grabbing at the arms of the whirlwind, which on further inspection proved to be a wild-eyed, frenzied Princess Brier-Rose apparently in an extreme hurry, with quite untamed hair and seemingly still in her nightdress.

“What are you in such a—?” he began.

“I have to save the tower room!” she exclaimed distractedly in one breath—so that he was not entirely sure he had even heard her correctly—even as she tore away from his steadying grip and off along the corridor.

“Wha—?” Derrick wavered a fraction of a second, then gave up and switched directions, hurrying after her. He caught up in time to witness her bursting into the room where the two kings were talking over breakfast and a game of chess. These activities were paused as they looked over to see a very disheveled ten year old princess standing at the flung-wide door, apparently with something on her mind, and Derrick in the background as unsure of what was going on as they.


“Funny, you’ve always seemed quite grown up to me. At least, I always thought so,” Brier said.

“I always did too,” Derrick said with a laugh.

“Even when you were five?”

Especially when I was five,” Derrick said with mock solemnity.


“Derrick!” Brier said, quickly moving to stand in front of the roses. “What—?” she began.

Derrick answered distractedly, looking past her, “I met a maid coming down the stairs from bringing your breakfast—she said I could go in—and why do you have roses in your room?”

“Roses?” Brier laughed. “What are you talking about?”

Derrick looked uncertainly from the roses—which Brier now reflected must be visible behind her no matter how much she tried to block the sight—to her, and back again.


“You will be dead before the day is out.”

“Good luck with that, then,” Ev said cheerfully.

KW2coverP
THE SECRET OF KEDRAN’S WOOD

Tare turned to Baz. “Move.”

Baz quickly elbowed Lavender out of the seat so he could scoot over and hastily move out of Tare’s way, making a mental note that he should never ever block Tare’s way again, even unintentionally.


The Chess Club were running around hither and yon, messing up the blanket of fresh snow, pelting a rain of snowballs in every direction, making enough noise to wake the dead, and clearly having the time of their lives.

Tare folded his arms and watched.

They weren’t making very good use of the various snow forts and the impromptu shelter made of a snowman which Baz was using. Their military strategy was very much lacking, he observed, except perhaps—he had to grudgingly admit—for Adrian. Chucking snowballs every which way, dumping arm loads of snow on other people and giggling seemed more to be the order of the day.

He was about to turn to leave, but one of the teams rallied and began rushing at the other, and somewhere in the midst of it a stray flying snowball hit Tare square in the face.


“Um, Tare . . . is that a gun?”

Tare glanced down at his hand that wasn’t holding on to the door, and almost looked like he hadn’t known he was holding the black handgun. “Yeah, why?”

“And your knuckles are bloody,” Marie observed.

He looked like he hadn’t noticed that either. “So.”

“What happened?” Lavender asked.

Tare gave her a flat look and blinked once. “A wall ran into them.”


“Are you all right?” Adrian asked straightforwardly.

Tare closed his eyes and said wearily, “Leave me alone, Adrian.”

Adrian nodded slowly. “I will,” he said simply.

Tare watched him another moment, appraisingly, then finally turned away and reached for the doorknob. He paused with his hand on it. Adrian waited.

Then Tare said in a low voice, “Tell them I’m sorry.” And with that Tare pulled the door open and disappeared inside his lair.

Beautiful People: 2016 Writerly Resolutions/Goals

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE IS HERE! With Writerly Resolutions and Goals for 2016. Sound scrumptious? Of course it does. Let’s get this proverbial show on the proverbial road!

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Beautiful People is a monthly meme for writers held by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In — join in the linky if you like! It’s a lot of fun! 🙂

1. What were your writing achievements last year?

R&RWriting and editing an entire novella (The Rose and the Raven) and entering a contest. Writing two short stories. And working on several novels and getting a total wordcount of over 100k words for the year. Also taking new approaches at my two series. And I learned how to do a draft zero, how to write a lot of words, how to write small things, and also how to CUT a lot of words. I also learned how to write utterly adorable romances (in my humble opinion) so I’m proud of that. XD Basically I made some achievements and learned a TON in 2015 about writing and vaguely feel as though I’ve taken great strides.

*blinks* …Wow, until I answered this question, I had no idea I felt that way about the year! o.o Hurray for Beautiful People bringing out our deepest thoughts! (If it works for our characters, it can work for us writers too!)

S&Scover42. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

Ummmm. Work on The Other Half of Everything, The Siren and the Skyship, The Silver Forest, continue The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2), and replot my entire epic fantasy series, the Starrellian Saga? Maybe? I know, that’s not one, but I’m sort of on writing hiatus right now and… yeah. Those are what I’m thinking about anyway and want to work on the most. 🙂 (Now watch something entirely different happen… >.>)

3. List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

  1. Plotting. I get so caught up in “I have to write WORDS and increase my number of actually WRITTEN writing!” that I often write when I’m not ready for it. I need to remember that plotting is a HUGE part of writing, even though it’s not easily visible.
  2. Actually writing. I’m very much a binge-writer, and I can’t write consistently to save my life (or… okay, during NaNo. But it’s exhausting and I usually would rather write 3k one day so I can take a day off than write 1667 words consistently every day). Consequently, it can be really hard for me to actually sit down and START writing! I need to work on this.
  3. Stop waffling. In line with the first one, I need to try to make my plots tighter and more interwoven. I tend to go off down rabbit trails and have a lot of stuff going on without actual plot happening, which makes for freakishly long and daunting books.
  4. STOP CHASING PLOT BUNNIES! …Okay, so this one is probably out of my control. *cough* But I keep getting SO distracted by attractive new plot bunnies that hop by me and drag me off down rabbit holes. I have oodles of perfectly good books to work on already and I don’t need any more until I’ve actually WRITTEN a few of these!
  5. Write what I love. This is actually a contradiction to the point before this, since many of those plot bunnies ARE what I love. But vaguely, I get caught up in stories the way they appear, and sometimes I don’t remember to throw in things that really catch my interest. I’d like to focus on that more this year.

4. Are you participating in any writing challenges?

NO. …Ahem. Yes, I’ll probably participate in NaNoWriMo in November, because I love NaNo, but I’m kind of burnt out as far as challenges go so I think I’m going to leave it at that… (Of course, that was my plan last year and then I randomly entered the Rooglewood Press contest soooo there’s that. *cough*) Challenges tend to stress me out and make me feel guilty for not writing, and I really need to relax and rediscover my joy in writing without all the pressure. 🙂 Currently, writing is for ME so I shouldn’t get caught up in deadlines when I don’t have to!

5. What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

Hum. I have a few lovely people who like to read my things at times — I still don’t quite know WHY. O_O — and… I haven’t worked on this much. I still haven’t figured out what I want most from a critique, which also accounts for my struggles trying to be a good beta-reader for others (I’m sorry, everyone!) so… I don’t know. I basically fail at all things beta/critique. :-/ I guess if I had plans it would be to actually read and give feedback for the lovely stories people send me, and figure out what I actually am looking for in a critique? Basically: LEARN THINGS AND NOT BE A HORRIBLE PERSON. There. That can be “plans to expand,” right? 😉

writingmagic6. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

I’d like to read Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine and possibly On Writing by Stephen King and maybe a few writing books I have around. I do have like twenty random ebooks on writing etc. that were given to me. Not sure. *shrug*

Research… not really. I’m not much of a researcher. Reading fabulous books that I love is my research in general and always has been. 😀

7. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

meridian2

Meridian

Oh my goodness, I don’t even know. O_O I do have a few characters who kind of lack something or I don’t really know what they’re LIKE yet… like Meridian in The Other Half of Everything, or Arielle in my Kedran’s Wood series (and also a certain spoilerish character from KW who I can’t even mention). So maybe someone like that. Or maybe just rediscovering my favorite characters from my Starrellian Saga, or any one of my favorites in the other books I want to work on.

As to how to achieve it? I have no idea. My characters do what they want and I can’t make them behave so I’ll just sit here and wait probably, because I’m lame like that. 😛 (Tips, anyone?)

8. Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

I don’t knooow! *flails around* I usually edit somewhat as I go, and whenever I actually FINISH a thing I edit it… I don’t have a plan of attack and I have no idea about queries vs. self-pub and all of that utterly confusing industry type of questions. Basically I want to write and not worry about such things right now.

9. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

OHEcoverWhimsical, funny, epic, rollicking, insane fantasy adventures of the sort that Diana Wynne Jones wrote. The world does not have enough of these. I have no illusions that I will in any way approach DWJ’s genius, but The Other Half of Everything is SUPPOSED to be more along those lines… (Though it is still very vague and also keeps throwing dark subplots/characters at me… HONESTLY. It’s supposed to be lighthearted! Like I said, my books do what they want. >.>)

Also retellings of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. There are definitely not enough of them. Which is why I’m going to totally return to The Silver Forest and write MY version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (and hopefully make it fabulous *cough*).

(Also, there need to be more YA heisty/con-artist books. But I’m afraid I can’t help there. Yet…)

10. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

I’m really bad at making goals and actually sticking to them. My inspiration is a flighty and unpredictable thing, and whatever I think is the most important will probably get tossed to the wayside as my writing self tackles a totally random project I never heard of before (*cough* basically everything I wrote last year *cough*). So instead of having anything particular I’d like to have achieved by the end of 2016, I will only say that I would like to HAVE ACHIEVED. I’m not particular. As long as I can look back at my writerly year and say “I achieved”, then whatever that is that I did achieve, I’ll be content. ^_^

Beautiful Books #2: NaNo 2015

So… I have stuff scheduled for the blog throughout this month, and was going to entirely ignore blogging (after my Ishness post) until December, because NANO! Because I’m so insanely busy and can’t even seem to get around to replying to comments till like a week later (sorry guys…).

…But then I saw that Cait and Sky have a second round of Beautiful Books up, and I fell in love with the questions and just HAD TO DO IT!!! *flails around*

So, for those who care, you’re going to get a peek into how my November writing is going and what’s up with The Silver Forest. 😉

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Join in the linkup if you want! (You don’t have to be doing NaNo to do it.)

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

My goodness. HOW DO I EVEN ANSWER THIS QUESTION??? *rides on roller-coaster of emotions and gets off, panting*

SilverForestCoverFinalUm. Some of it I like and is turning out wonderfully. Most of the princesses are kind of how I want them, especially Emerald… Fun dialog, gorgeous description of Faerie. I love some of the other characters too. But it also has a lot of poor quality writing, just thrown together. Some of the characters are being stubborn and not turning out how I want them to be (i.e. not cardboard…), not to mention I’m 16,700 words in (which is a third of NaNo’s goal of 50k) and I still haven’t gotten out of what I was originally planning to be chapter two…? Um. Yes.

I basically am going up and down between passionately loving it and loathing it with the loathing of a thousand burning suns.

I was sick of it last night and thinking of just ignoring it forever and going to write something else instead, or, ya know, just ignoring the fact that I need to write at all this month and just read books… when suddenly I read over some of it and fell in love again and a whole bunch of things clicked into place and now I want to go back and rewrite all of it that I have so far BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT NOW AND IT’S GOING TO BE AMAZING. …But I’m going to make myself press on instead, just knowing that I’m going to know how to fix the beginning after I finish the story.

So right now I adore it and can’t wait to write more (even though I’m behind and am apparently blogging instead…?) but probably by this weekend I’ll be in the depths of despair again, I dunno. *shrugs* Such is NaNo.

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

As the first chapter was written between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m. after a week of sleep deprivation and absolutely no plotting whatsoever, the first chapter (including its first sentence/paragraph) is not fit for any living being to see and is going to be SCRAPPED. So, instead, you get the opening of Chapter Two:

     Peach skipped along a white-pillared, tapestried corridor and ducked out a side-door into the castle garden in search of more sisters. At fifteen, she was the youngest of the twelve, and that was perfectly fine with her. She was full of life, constantly curious, and tended to move at higher speeds than any of her siblings besides Emerald. So it was not surprising when she came around a magnolia bush in the glory of summer bloom and ran smack-dab into someone else, and they both went down in the grass in a tangle of arms and legs and skirt.
      “Oh, stars! I’m so sorry,” she said, scrambling back to her feet and surveying with curiosity the person she had run into, who was doing likewise. It was a boy, perhaps her own age, whom she had never seen before.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

I am a plotter. I need plot, otherwise I flail around and make messes and the story gets monstrously long and sprawled-out. I always try to plot extra for NaNos, but most NaNos I seem to end up pantsing more than ever because I don’t get my plotting finished because I was too busy. THIS IS A PROBLEM BY THE WAY.

So I’m currently using a mixture of both methods because I have a rough outline for the first several scenes, and after that a VERY rough Three-Act-Structure (which I’d never used before) outline of the rest of the story. But the details, I’m pantsing ish, and as soon as I get past the scenes I have in mind, I’m basically doomed, so we’re not going to think about that right now…

4. What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

I update my wordcount on the NaNo site so that I can see the little graph looking as it should. *nod nod*

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(Yes, yes, I know I’m behind. Hush.)

5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

I don’t usually have themes for my names, but this time I do, so YAY! 😀

The princesses are all named after colors, mostly gems/precious metals. Silver, Ebony, Amethyst, Sapphire, Turquoise, Emerald, Ruby, Auburn, Ivory, Goldie, Rosie, Peach.

For most of the other characters, I’m using Celtic names, mostly Irish ones, or tweaked combinations of words from an Irish dictionary. 😉 Irish names like Finnigan, Brogan, Seamus, Rory, Fergal, Etain, Niav, and Alanna, some of which I pulled from memory; others I looked through some books of Irish fairy tales for inspiration. Niog is a Welsh name, I believe, which I ran into somewhere and just LIKED. Justin and Tristan and Kern just sounded right. Taghdach (moody), Cothrom (fair), Dilis (faithful), Riogal (from rioga/riuil: royal), Prechan (rook), Bronach (sad), and Leithshae and Sisceall, were derived from Irish words or tweaked.

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

I have no idea. I’ve only written endings a very few times, so I don’t feel I can even answer this question… But probably endings because it gets so exciting and I’m almost done and just yes. I only wish I got to them more often… 😦 HOWEVER I also enjoy beginnings, getting to explore the opening of the story and meet the characters. But middles might be the best too because you’re over the awkward figuring-out stage of the beginning and are just zipping along with the plot. I DON’T KNOW OKAY. Maybe all of them? Or none of them? Or something.

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

My half-fae prince Taghdach. ❤ …Also Niog the enigmatic gardener boy. And unexpectedly, Seamus the court jester who appeared fully formed on the page without planning and stole my heart. I imagine the only reason there aren’t several others on here is that we haven’t met them yet in the story…

8. What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

(See my review on Goodreads.)

I researched the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale, which means that I read a collection called Twelve Dancing Princesses Tales From Around the World edited by Heidi Anne Heiner.

I also “researched” character types that I like, meaning that I went through my list of favorite characters from books I read this year, and previous years, and categorized them in the categories I wanted to use, and then made lists of the characteristics and stuff. (Dark guy; sweet romance hero; young enigmatic lad; awesome fighter; rogue/thief; and Undefined — which is a favorite category of mine, which I cannot describe, and is where Seamus is going.)

And I’m going to eventually have to research magnolia bushes and wharfs and causeways and such things because I threw them in there in the heat of the moment when I was writing, and then realized I don’t know if they were really what I was thinking of. XD

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

It depends. I think in the long run I write better in a room entirely alone. But sometimes, being at a write-in will make me actually write because everyone else is writing.

And I like to share my work sometimes; it also depends. I usually read each day’s work aloud to my sister to get a feel for it and some immediate feedback/encouragement. Most of the time I like having beta readers as well, but during NaNo it’s far too horrendous for anyone to see, so I like to keep it to myself for the most part during November. 😛

10. 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!

During NaNo, I usually open my bulletin board on my laptop (a feature that came with it) where I keep inspiration, and open my document and plotting file, start some music, and — hopefully — write.

NaNo2015BulletinBoardSilverForest

(Bulletin board for my NaNo this year.)

I don’t eat while I write; I can’t multi-task like that. I listen to a playlist of fast or inspirational music I have on my computer; or, if I’m somewhere with internet, I’ll have Pandora or my youtube playlist. Music is so helpful! I think I write best late at night, which is unfortunate. But I do want to try writing early in the morning to see if that’s better… it just hasn’t happened yet.

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(Le writing space.)

And there you are. My Writing Process. Huzzah for Beautiful Books!

Now it’s back to NaNo for me…

Of October Madness

IsItNovember

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

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

Still, my October madness ishness was as follows!

ishness

Life

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

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

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

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

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

Watching

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

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

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

Star Wars Youtube Stuff

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

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

Reading

I read nothing in October.

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

So. No books. It’s sad.

Writing

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

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

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

October Snippets

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

The Other Half of Everything

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

***

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

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

“Remarkably wise of you,” Teague called back.

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

“That’s probably for the best.”

***

Mixup at Kedran’s Wood (KW 2.5 novella)

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

What’s Next?

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

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

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

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

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

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