Happy Fourth of July!

Something a little different — today I’m sharing a writing assignment I wrote in a writing workshop earlier this year: 250 words of a Fourth of July memory. I thought it would be fun to post here.

Happy Independence Day to fellow inhabitants of the U.S., and a happy Sunday to international friends.


They say the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas, and that’s never more true than on Independence Day.

Sitting in the back of a pickup truck or spread out on the ground, staring up at the vast blue-velvet night sky scattered with diamond stars which are already gorgeous even before the fireworks display. The expectation, waiting . . .

And there—an extra starry burst of explosions kaleidoscope across the night and fill the air with a bang. The colorful fireworks light up the night like memories light up the heart. Laughter and family. Pointing—ooh, there’s another firework—no, over there!

Prickle of grass, sandpaper-sidewalk feel where you sit, concrete still warm from earlier sunshine.

Fingers sticky with ice cream sandwiches, messy in the firework-lit dark, but worth it for the delicious taste filling your mouth with cool, creamy sweetness.

Then up and dance about (yes, safely), spinning with sparklers in either hand, showers of silver-gold sparks falling, writing your name on the dark or swirling fire circles before the flame winks out.

A night breeze cools the remembrance of summer heat, and with it a tang of gunpowder scent on the air, white-grey smoke clouds drifting wispy-faint across stars and fireworks and inky night sky.

Fourth of July, a night filled with stars of all kinds to light the shadows with brilliance.

A night when the firework stars are certainly big and bright, here deep in the heart of Texas.


Thanks for reading! Happy 4th!

Quarterly Ishness + Snowpocalypse 2021

Hi guys!

I haven’t done an Ishness in ages so I thought it would be cool to do a very brief recap of 2021 so far! (Well, the first three months. I actually meant to post this two weeks ago, but anyway. XD)

There’ve been some serious ups and downs, but some good stuff in there, and I’ve missed blogging, so let’s go for it. ^_^

January, February, March (2021)

WRITING

  • January — I finished writing Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole and edited/prepped it for posting.
  • February — I started writing Operation Foxtail again and shared my Girls, Spies, Faeries serial on Wattpad.
  • March — I did some short story editing, wrote random snippets, and did some brainstorming, but mostly was too busy to focus on writing.

If you missed it, you can catch my urban fantasy serial on Wattpad HERE!

There are five episodes, completing one arc/mission, and they’re inspired by The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Snow Queen, following snarky agent Sean and through various shenanigans including selkie shifters, motorcycle chases, portals, and chocolate.

(I’d like to write further missions with Sean, Riel, and company — I’m currently scheming. :D)

Also, I had way too much fun designing that cover. *grin, grin*

(If you don’t have a Wattpad account and it won’t let you read it, check out this sneaky link. ;))

Mostly, I have hit a serious writing slump and haven’t written much at all since November. I feel like I’m in a creative drought, not sure what to focus on, and haven’t been prioritizing writing since I’ve just been busy. Meh. Here’s hoping I can get back to writing more soon, but in the meantime I’m happy to have finished that arc of Sean’s adventures and that I managed a little bit of Operation Foxtail, which I missed. 🙂

READING

(The 20 books I read in the first quarter of 2021)

It’s been a pretty good reading year so far. I’ve read a lot of marvelous books. ^_^

Here’s a list of them all by category!

  • READ ALOUD: Between Frames, Between Homes, Cloudy with a Chance of Dropbears, All the Different Shades of Blue, and Between Walls are part of an urban fantasy series I’ve been reading aloud with the siblings. It’s such fun.
  • REVIEW BOOKS: I reviewed Into the Heartless Wood, Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows, Blood of the Seer, The Icarus Aftermath, Pangur Ban, the White Cat, and Of Myth and Monster.
  • REREADS: Oath of the Outcast and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter were rereads. ❤
  • AUDIOBOOK: Wish You Weren’t Here was my audiobook read of the last few months.
  • COPYEDITED: I was honored to be a copyeditor for Cold Snap (mermaid Snow White), Troll Queen (elven marriage alliance), and Between Two Worlds (Roman/Celtic historical fantasy). They’re all lovely! Between Two Worlds is releasing April 27! (Preorder link and preorder goodies link.)
  • MARCH MAGICS: Witch’s Business, Men at Arms, and The Time of the Ghost were all for March Magics. You can read my wrapup talking about them here.

I’d say that Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows, Blood of the Seer, and Troll Queen are my top three favorite reads so far this year! But everything I’ve read has been enjoyable so far. ^_^

WATCHING

Movies

Ghibli:

I got a collection of Studio Ghibli films for Christmas, so I’ve slowly been catching up on those! I watched a few in December as well, but since 2021 hit, I’ve seen:

  • Spirited Away — Weird but I enjoyed it by the end, especially some of the characters.
  • Princess Mononoke — UM. Too creepy for me buuuut the hero and the music are my fave!!! Like. One of my favorite heroes ever and one of my favorite music themes ever.
  • Ponyo on the Cliff — So. adorable. Aahh! I really loved this one. 😀
  • Castle of Cagliostro — Totally crazy heisty movie, really weird too, but lots of fun. XD
  • I also re-watched Howl’s Moving Castle, because of course!

Other movies:

  • Newsies — I’m not much of a musicals person but Jenelle Schmidt recommended this and I was curious what singing Christian Bale was like, so I watched this on my birthday. XD I enjoyed it. 🙂
  • Reign of Fire — Intense but fascinating! Another recommendation from Jenelle (she gives good movie recs, okay), this was from 2002 so was “futuristic” England set in 2020 after the apocalypse caused by dragons, and it was so. so. unique. O_O A little sadder than I’d like but it was fascinating and I enjoyed watching it overall.
  • How to Train Your Dragon 3: Hidden World — This was a re-watch, but I hadn’t seen it since theaters, so of course I had to revisit Toothless and all the feels. 😉

Basically, lots of dragons and Christian Bale and Studio Ghibli have been the trends of this year so far. XD

Shows

(disclaimer: TV shows notoriously have Content sooo I’m not saying I 100% recommend all these buuut anyhoo…)

  • NCIS — Still watching this sometimes and I adore the characters. Gibbs and Tony are my faves.
  • Stargate — I’m not very far in yet but it’s definitely been interesting. I love the idea so I’m curious to see where it goes.
  • Hustle — Basically the BBC version of Leverage. XD Seeing some of that.
  • The Mandalorian — I finally got to start watching The Mandalorian! Mando is the best and Baby Yoda is so cuuuute and yes, it’s (mostly…) fun so far, though I’ve been too busy to watch anything for awhile so I still haven’t finished it.

And this list reminds me that I need to get back to Avatar: The Last Airbender and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter, which are super fun shows I was watching late last year and apparently got distracted from. XD

LISTENING

  • Let’s be real, mostly I’ve just been listening to the theme-song from Princess Mononoke on repeat 98792837 times. XD
  • Also some Christian rock music (which helps me survive my daily stretches I’ve somehow been keeping up with *collapses*)
  • As I mentioned, finally finished Wish You Weren’t Here, which was an interesting NA urban fantasy.

I’ve been thinking I need to get into podcasts but I haven’t yet, and my plan to listen to one audiobook per month this year has clearly gone out the window, but maybe I’ll get back to that soon! (I did start listening to a C.S. Lewis essay collection on audio but I haven’t finished yet.)

LIFE

  • January — My grandfather passed away and I dealt with a lot of grief and stress. It was rough. But there were some good moments in the month too, and some gorgeous snow!
  • February — The Snowpocalypse of Texas happened. Ice and snow (twice in two months? Texas was very confused) and drama. I was okay and didn’t lose power, so I was much better off than so many, but it was COLD and a very dramatic week or so. The snow was pretty, though. 🙂
  • March — Had a lovely, lovely birthday (with cupcakes!) and was pretty busy, but enjoyed some March Magics reading. And at the very end of the month, I got internet at home again (after nearly a year without) so this is why I can blog again if I can find the time. 😀

The Snowpocalypse

I wrote up a brief something about the Snowpocalypse for a writing workshop assignment, so I thought I would share it here. 🙂

If you don’t have time for a mini 400-word essay about it, feel free to skip to the end of the post. XD

Snow Visitors by Deborah O’Carroll

The 2021 Texas Snowpocalypse was the first time I made the acquaintance of subzero temperatures—an acquaintance I’d gladly have skipped. I live in Texas for a reason. But since Mr. Negative Temperatures (the name says it all!) was visiting, at least he brought a more welcome guest: snow. The ice was less welcome, although the icicle formations certainly fascinated!

When it wasn’t too cold, I went on some snow adventures. New experiences were had walking down the street to a park, the road completely covered in snow, snow flurries blowing along it, and the blinding sun reflecting off the pristine white—so bright I wore a pair of sunglasses. My sister dropped hers on our walk; we returned later, looking high and low for the persnickety things. Apparently they were as excited to play in the snow as we were. A truck pulled up while we searched. “Did you drop these?” The driver handed over the lost-and-found missing sunglasses.

We made a snow dragon in the snow and he stayed for days even when the rest of the snow had melted; I think he liked Texas.

(Snow on juniper; bunny hiding in snow; flowers; cat pawprints; ice on desert holly, cardinal in flight)

I took my favorite winter-themed books outside to use the rare snowy background for my bookish photography for Instagram. Books make good snow walk companions too, though I imagine the one I dropped when I slipped on ice disagrees; it was baptized in snow and no harm was done.

Mostly, I holed up in my room, trying to escape the unwelcome wintry company. Even then, they gusted inside: another visitor was Jack Frost who left a pattern swirled gorgeously across my entire window in feathery elegance. It was stunning—although I would have liked it better if it hadn’t been on the inside of my bedroom window . . .

(Icicles connecting a vehicle to the ground; ice fallen from powerline forming a sword shape; moooore icicles; snow on ground; frost on window, though the photo doesn’t do it justice)

I was on deadline for a copyediting project involving an iceberg*, which brought the cold inside in a new way. Editing a cold story, bundled in hat and fuzzy socks, waiting for power to go out, while occasionally running water to keep the pipes from freezing, felt appropriate.

The wintry visitors didn’t feel gone until iced roads melted, allowing shopping, and mail finally arrived in my mailbox—there was no mail delivery possible for a whole week!

So long, snow visitors. I liked the snow, but for the rest of you, maybe next time you could find a better vacation spot than Texas!

*(Cold Snap by Selina J. Eckert; it’s a Snow White mermaid novella and is delightful!)

(snow dragon; cozy socks/journal/fingerless gloves/mug; snow boots)

Upcoming Plans

Whew! A lot has happened this quarter, while at the same time I feel like it was Christmas a minute ago and all I did was blink . . . But anyway.

My plans involve . . . more of the same, I guess?

  • I have many books I’d like to read (I wish I could read faster!).
  • I’d like to blog a smidge more, if I have inspiration, but we’ll see. (I do keep up with Instagram a fair bit these days.)
  • I’m trying to catch up on all my review books and ARCS; I thiiink I’m almost there?
  • I have a fair bit of work these days keeping me busy.
  • I really miss writing and, while I’m not doing Camp NaNo (can’t handle the pressure right now, and quite busy so I don’t think I’d survive), I am hoping to slowly ease back into writing a bit more often. Which, since it’s been basically non-existent, shouldn’t be too hard. XD I don’t know what to focus on, though! *flails*
  • And I usually take a break in May to recharge so I’m contemplating that, but we’ll see.
  • Of course, since I finally got internet again, I’m slowly trying to catch up on things like the 98374983798 emails languishing in my inbox, so there’s that. *cough*
  • And I’d really, really like to get my author newsletter up and running, and a short story edited and prepped for that (The Secret Piano), but for some reason this is daunting me a lot. Heh. (I have a newsletter set up on Mailchimp but haven’t really sent it out ever and I want to switch to MailerLite or something, I think?)

Conclusion

And yep, that’s about it! That’s what’s been up in my world these last few months. 🙂

I’ve barely blogged here since LAST April, so I suppose it’s probably a bit of a shock that Deborah exists over here, but anyway. XD Hopefully this was mildly interesting. Let me know if you recognize any of the things I read/watched? Thanks for reading!

Girls/Spies/Faeries 3rd Episode Is Up!

Just a really quick post to say that the new episode of my serial short story is finally up today!

So yep, any of you who read the original two episodes here on my blog ages ago can finally find out what happens next. 😀

Part 3: How To Make A Deal With An Ice Queen: https://www.wattpad.com/1021818290-girls-spies-and-other-things-the-faeries-stole

(And if you haven’t read the first two parts, they’re up there too!)

So excited for the next part of my snarky boi Sean’s story to be available at long last! ^_^

Episode 4 will be up next Friday!

Thanks for reading! (If you check it out, I’d be thrilled if you’d leave a comment on Wattpad or here!)

Girls/Spies/Faeries: Moving to Wattpad!

Heya, blog friends! Long time no see. XD

Sooo, remember that serial short story, Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole, about my snarky boy Sean and the twelve dancing girls and the snow queen?

Wellll, it’s back! Ish.

The first two parts were inspired in part by prompts from Fairy Tale Central, about The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Snow Queen. Both parts I posted here on this blog awhile back — Part 1 was in October 2019, and Part 2 was in January 2020. Since then, I’ve written three more installments, finishing that main arc, and I’m super excited to share them with you all!

Along with a cover I made! (Thanks to the magic of Unsplash, Krita, Canva, and sibling help.)

They new episodes aren’t based on prompts, and are simply carrying on from the first two parts to see how Sean and Riel get out of this, or if they do. XD

ANYWAY. I decided I wanted to share them as a serial over on Wattpad! I have an account there and have shared a couple of short stories but have been meaning to do something more there.

So I’m posting all five episodes over there — which means if you’ve already read the first two, you have to wait a smiiidge longer to find out what happens until I get those posted and can get to the new episodes.

But if you’re new, or if you read them but want a quick refresher (both parts have been slightly updated/edited, but the basic story is the same), I hope you’ll enjoy popping over to my Wattpad and reading them!

Part 1: Operation Twelve Dancing Daughters is up now!

Part 2: In Which Agent Riel Annoys Me (As Usual) will hopefully be up this Friday (February 12).

I’ll try to share about it here when part 3 goes up! But I’m hoping to post them each Friday.

It’s been ages since I shared any of my stories and I’m super excited to finally get to share this fun, snarky, urban fantasy/fairytale adventure serial with y’all.

I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

More coming soon, and thanks so much for reading! ^_^

Writing Wrapup (2020)

Well, I haven’t blogged regularly at ALL in quite awhile, but I wanted to post a wrapup of my writerly accomplishments this last year, if only so I’ll be able to look back on it one day.

It was definitely a slow year of writing, for me. I have difficulty writing when I’m stressed, so between that and spending a good deal of extra time on my copyediting business, the words were rather fewer than usual. But at least some writing happened!

2020 WRITING (ISH) ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Writing

  • Total words written: 76,160 (not my usual 100K+ but ah well)
  • 53K of Tare/Kedran’s Wood books (starting book 3 for NaNo plus some edits on book 2)
  • 12K of Operation Foxtail
  • 11K on short stories — The Secret Piano (hopefully coming soon to a newsletter?), and three serial episodes of Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole. (I had written the first episode in 2019. The second was posted last January. So I have two more written, and one more planned, which would total 5 episodes. I hope to share them on here when I get the chance!)
  • I also did some plotting and editing on various works, including making some exciting breakthroughs in various books!

Blogging

I didn’t have home internet for the last 8 months of the year so any blogging that actually got done . . . I’ll take it. 😛

Faves:

Instagram

(My top 9 most popular Instagram pics of 2020. Lots of googly-eyed books, some Tolkien, Cress, and of course that time I cosplayed as Selene Ravenwood back in February.)

I also focused more on my Instagram in this last year, largely due to said issue of a lack of internet aside from my phone. I can’t really blog on my phone but I can Instagram on it, sooo…

  • 285 Bookstagram posts (daily posts aside from a couple of hiatus months and breaks when I got busy)
  • Hit 800 followers
  • I finally did more with themes, even seasonal ones (which was fun) — and aaall the flowers!
  • Finally made a Linktree and some highlights. XD *is almost getting the hang of this Instagramming thing*

Copyediting Business

(Some of the books I had the honor of copyediting last year.)
  • Words copyedited or beta-read in 2020: 2.9 million words
  • Novels/novellas copyedited: 15
  • Short stories copyedited: 11
  • Beta projects (for friends etc.): 8
  • (Curious to know more about my freelance copyediting? Info is here! :))

Miscellaneous

  • Writing journal pages: 136
  • Won my 11th NaNoWriMo and 20th Camp NaNo (actually did two camp sessions this year)
  • Attended Hutchmoot: Homebound online (delightful), as well as a one-day writing conference in January, and read 6 books on writing
  • Sketched my character Teague
  • Was “in print” for the second time (I mean, just like the first time, it was a private bindup collection for authors of the Modern Bard blog stories, so it’s not like it’s… available? But it was still neat to see A Night in the Life of Glassman printed in a real book, personal collection though it may be!)
  • Set new word-sprinting records during November
  • Got a new laptop (after 9 years of writing adventures with my first laptop)
(2020 November writing stats)

So there is a brief (?) look at my 2020 in writing! Although the wordcount was less than I’d hoped, and I didn’t finish any novels (two-thirds into both Operation Foxtail and Kedran’s Wood 3), it still wasn’t a bad writing year, apparently. I’m quite happy with a lot of these things. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed that! Thanks for reading — and let me know if there’s a writing-ish accomplishment you’re proud of from last year!