The "Unexpected Inspiration" Characters

May 31, 2017

Welcome to Musings of a Messenger!

Here you'll find the writing and ramblings of Meri Greenleaf. For easy access, here are the stories I've so far shared to this blog.

Short stories from "Unexpected Inspiration"
These are a collection of short stories about artists, inventors, and carnival performers. They're set in my lighthearted/comedic lgbt+ fantasy series Unexpected Inspiration. (You can learn more about the series here.) I'm currently writing the first trilogy of books in this series, so these short stories go along with those characters, and I'm always adding new stories to this list.
  • "Three Keys"
    Friendship, trust, and keys. Sweetness abounds.
  • "Who Picked Whom"
    The trio reflects on fate being
    weird. This never should have happened.
  • "A New Beginning"
    A would-be thief gets offered a job after a strange blue woman catches him.
  • "Rising to a Challenge"
    A young arcane chef regrets her decisions and wonders if her restaurant is cursed.
  • "Mile Long Cow"
    Some myths and legends go back centuries. This one goes back five minutes and you'll probably want that five minutes back.
  • "Soul-Marks"
    It would help if anyone ever went by their real name. (Every writer writes a cheesy soulmate AU at some point. This is mine.)
  • "Lost and Found"
    Sure, blame the newcomer when your stuff goes missing. That won't come back to bite you.
  • "Roommates"
    What do you do when your new roommate is an offbeat inventor who can control fire? First step: make him wear pants.
  • "Of Parties and Potions"
    A mischievous scheme causes chaos at a costume party. The healer enlists the help of a cat and a mouse to right a lizard's wrong.
  • "Sheltered"
    Adair wakes up and finds that he has been left alone. He's not happy about this.
  • "The Shrine"
    A familiar face is discovered at the center of a stranger's altar.

Novellas
These are longer stories set in the world I was writing previous to Unexpected Inspiration; they're older stories written in '10 and '11. These are more traditional fantasy and are set in the "Dungeons and Dragons" world my husband and I created. I've since moved on from elves and traditional fantasy, but these stories hold a special place in my heart as the ones that gave me my love of writing.
  • The Acolyte's Map
  • A powerful magical artifact has been unleashed! Unfortunately it has fallen into the unlikely hands of a hapless young priest who is now bound by its bizarre curse. This is the tongue-in-cheek tale of a half-elven cleric who is trying to locate and free the unwitting victim from said item's grasp with the help of his mischievous (and not always competent) brethren. Along the way there will be magic, intrigue, mischief, and a talking dog.
  • Hidden Magic
  • Meren, an unusual elf girl (and her more unusual centaur brother) take up the task of hunting down a band of orc trespassers. When she stumbles into a pitfall, Meren finds an object: an amulet that gives strange new powers. Little does she know that an increasingly desperate young wizard is looking for the very same amulet and that their paths are destined to crisscross in a weave of chaotic magic...

Short Story: The Shrine

Technicalities do not make me mythological. I am more worried why your people- whose only display of worship is to eat a lot and collect cats- have suddenly discovered the idea of an altar.


(This is a silly, very short story that I wrote a few months ago. I wasn't going to share it because it feels a little spoiler-y since it takes place after my trilogy, but... well, frankly I forgot that I wrote it and it's much easier to keep track of my writing when I have the stories here on my blog. So because I'm forgetful, here's a story about some dorks! The prompt I used for this was "you have broken into someone’s house, and discover a shrine dedicated to you" although I ultimately ignored the "break into" part of it.)

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "The Shrine"


"Uhh… Look at this and tell me it isn’t what I think it is."

Adair's whispered comment was loud enough for only his sentinels to hear. Blythe and Etri waited until the chattering Artisans walked past before returning to the front door.

Adair gestured at the small table set up at the entrance. It held a collection of knickknacks, a common sight in the home of artists who filled their rooms with handmade trinkets gifted to each other at every opportunity. Already the trio's home was beginning to fill up and Adair had only a few artist friends. She hated to think how cluttered the place would be if he spent more time around them instead of preferring the company of carnival performers.

Blythe reached down to catch Adair's hand. "Come on. They're going to notice that we're not with the others."

Adair wasn't listening. Neither was Etri who stared down at the table with his mouth slightly agape. Blythe followed his gaze.

It wasn't the collection of mismatched baubles that she expected. Arranged in a circle were a key, a strip of black fabric, a tiny painting displayed on an equally small easel, a few paintbrushes, and, at the center, a sculpture. Blythe had traveled the continent as far north as Etri’s native mountains. One word, unused in their home of Concordia, called out for attention from the depths of her memory. Shrine. To all appearances a shrine devoted to...

Blythe looked up to see if the others agreed with her. Etri’s nearly impassive expression hadn’t shifted, but she sensed that he was mortified to the point of nausea. She didn’t need their empathetic link to tell that the emotive Adair was worried. He clutched his own paintbrush tightly in his hand- always a telling sign- and chewed at his bottom lip.

Blythe cleared her throat. If neither of them were going to say it, that meant she had to. "That's a striking likeness of you, Etch."

"You see it, too! I thought maybe I was seeing things." Adair tapped the brush against his chin as he thought. "I suppose you'd be a good choice as a model, though. I mean, traditionally artists do get inspiration from tales of-"

Etri's sharp words cut him off. "I am no such thing. Technicalities do not make me mythological. I am more worried why your people- whose only display of worship is to eat a lot and collect cats- have suddenly discovered the idea of an altar."

"And placed you at the center of it?" Blythe pointed out. She couldn't help it. This was too ridiculous. It had to be a coincidence. There was no way someone could have sculpted the perfect likeness of her introverted muse without his knowledge.

“That is less of a concern.”

“You mean to tell me you’re not concerned by someone using you as a model and only worried about the philosophical weirdness of the situation?”

“As Addy so tactlessly pointed out, I am familiar with the concept of stories being turned into art.”

Adair’s hissed “I got it!” called their attention over to him. He gestured to the objects on the table with a hand that shook. "Think about it. A key, a facsimile of a painting, dark fabric that could be coincidence or have something to do with being worn by sneaky people, a sculpture of someone who regularly breaks in and out of houses..."

Blythe spit out a curse. She knew exactly where he was going with that ramble. "Someone found out about your band of not-really-thieves. They’re either thanking you for returning what was stolen or setting this up for luck that it doesn’t happen again."

Etri now had a green hue to his already pallid skin.

Blythe tried to lighten his mood. "Hey, what's the worst that can happen? A second culture can throw flowers at your feet?"

That got Etri to turn his attention away from the shrine. Unfortunately his attention became a nudge to her ribs. He was so bony and a disproportionate amount of elbow! "That did not happen."

As Etri turned away from the table, Blythe said to Adair in a stage whisper, “He’s right. He comes from a city underground. They would have just thrown potatoes and mushrooms at him.”

“Oh, good.” Adair grinned at Etri’s retreating back. “Soup.”

Etri’s comment was directed somewhere towards the ceiling and certainly wasn’t meant for the two people following him down the hall. “Some sentinels possess supportive muses. I have a comedy act.”

May 30, 2017

How I write

This was another question game going around on Tumblr last week and since it was writing-related, I figured I should share it here. :)


Is there a snack you like to eat while writing?
I try not to snack too much while writing because it’ll end up with me taking a break while I find the food, then inevitably finding more food, then checking my phone for a minute, then whoops an hour has passed. I do try to keep a drink (water, tea, or juice) handy.

What time of day do you usually write? 

This is part of the reason that I haven’t done as much writing as I’d like in the past year. My prime writing hours are 9pm-1am, but early work means I can’t do that. I’ve been trying to squeeze it in during my niece’s naps (so 3-5pm) but it’s hit or miss if I get anything done then because I’m usually wiped out and need a nap myself by the time she conks out.

Where do you write?
Usually on my couch or my sister’s couch (depending where I am) but I’d like to start using my desk again because it’s better for my back. And now that the weather’s nice, I’d like to start writing in notebooks outdoors.

How often do you write a new thing? 
It depends. Previous years I’ll average about a short story every month/every other month while working on my longer novels. This year I haven’t started much new stuff. I feel like I should, though, because short things inspire me to work on the longer things. Hopefully once I get a job that’s less hours!

Do you listen to music while you write? 
Nope, I need silence to write, although I do listen to music to get in the mood to write. I have a Spotify playlist that I listen to that’s inspired by my dorks.

Paper or laptop? 
Laptop. I used to write on paper all the time, but I work best on the laptop. Lately I’ve been trying notebooks sometimes, though, to get back into that because it’s much more convenient.

Do you have a special pre-writing ritual? 
I really should. Maybe then I could get started faster instead of getting anxious about how long it’s been since I wrote last and freezing up and not getting much done.

What do you do to get into the writing? 
Listen to music, go for walks to with my husband (we’ll talk about my dorks and worldbuilding and this helps a lot), I’ll spend days just coming up with worldbuilding stuff, I’ll answer those “tag your OC” posts about my dorks, I’ll think of (and sometimes write) AUs for them… actually this sounds more like procrastination lol. Before I actually start writing, though, I’ll write up a paragraph of what the next scene/chapter has to contain so I have a good idea of where I’m going.

Do you have a reward system for word counts? 
Not word counts, but I will bribe myself sometimes if I reach a specific goal, like finishing a draft or winning NaNo.

Is there anything else about your writing process your readers don’t know? 
Hmm… I know that most days I’m thinking about writing even if I’m not actively writing- like I’ll think of ideas for the series or world building or character development or lines of dialogue… so I guess I need to not be so down on myself for not getting actual writing done because usually there’s at least something I’m thinking about on a given day. :) Oh! And in the past I would take on little appearance things about my MC- usually this involved changing my hair or wearing a certain color. I don’t really do that with my current characters, probably because there’s just too many of them lol.

~Meri

May 10, 2017

The moral of the story is...

This is another fun writing game going around on Tumblr right now, so I thought I'd share it here. The rules are: For all of your WIPs and completed works, write a line that describes the moral of the story. It can be as funny or as serious as you want.

(I’m going to use the larger projects that are either finished or that I’ve done the most work on. The first two are novellas you can find here on my writing blog, the third is an abandoned novel set in the world of those stories. The fourth is a novella set in my current world along with the last three, which are the trilogy I’m writing now.)

The Acolyte’s Map: Working together will save the day OR You really should have listened to the talking dog.

Hidden Magic: Sometimes the person you can trust most is the one you thought you should trust least OR You really should have listened to the talking horse. (Okay, it was a centaur.)

In the Cards: You never know who the shapeshifter might be- the elf? A table? Your left shoe? OR Don’t be stupid enough to anger a bunch of deities.



A Sparkler’s Glow: Love comes from unexpected places OR Don’t bother trying to explain sarcasm to an imp. He’ll never get it.

Colorweaver: Bravery is a little easier alongside loyal friends OR If you don’t lock your door, you’ll end up dragged on an adventure.

Sentinel: A bond of the heart cannot be easily broken OR Carnies are probably a bad influence, but those rules you’re breaking did kind of suck.

Iconoclasm: Never let yourself become entangled in someone else’s problem OR It pays to have a god on your side even if that god isn’t really a god.


~Meri

May 2, 2017

Writing update for April and goals for May




I kinda fell off the wagon with updating about how my writing is going, but I swear I did work on it last month! My original goal was 45 hours for Camp NaNoWriMo, but I lowered it to 30 about halfway through the month when I got sick and fell behind. The good news is that I did reach the 30 hours goal and won Camp! This was my first NaNo win in a while! I didn’t do quite as much work as I liked, but as of May 1st (okay, a day late) I caught up with where I wanted to be.

I spent April adjusting what I have so far of my rewrite/2nd draft of book 1. I had worked on this rewrite months ago and got a little more than halfway through the book, but I knew there were things that I had to fix and I had to refresh my memory about what the heck the current version was about. I filled in a LOT of plot holes in April. Like seriously, it felt like it was more hole than plot. Sheesh. But now that I’m paving over those holes, this is starting to feel like a coherent (and hopefully even good!) story. :D

So my next step is new writing. That’s my goal for May. This is kind of scary because it’s been months and months since I’ve actively written new things for any of my books. I don’t think any of the first draft is sticking around, so I’m also going to be doing a lot of outlining as I try to figure out what the heck is happening in the last third of the story. I have a basic idea of the main events, but no idea of the details and that scares me because I’m a huge planner. Next week may be devoted to outlining rather than writing because I can see myself getting stuck. I know where the next two chapters go, but after that? I have no idea. Hopefully my dorks will dork their way to the end of the book without too much trouble!

~Meri