The "Unexpected Inspiration" Characters

Aug 25, 2016

Welcome to Musings of a Messenger!

Here you'll find the writing and writing 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, each about 2k words, each starring different characters. They're set in my lighthearted/comedic lgbt+ fantasy series about artists, inventors, and circus performers. I'm currently writing the first trilogy in this series, so these short stories go along with those characters. You can learn more about the series here.

Novellas
These are longer stories set in the world I was writing previous to "Unexpected Inspiration". 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: "Roommates"

"What iss itch with you and your perpetual lack of pantss?”
Sol looked down at himself with a shrug of his broad shoulders. “I'm losing at cards.”
In one swift- and flustered- movement, Firedrake snatched the discarded articles of clothing off the floor and dumped these on top of Sol's clearly empty head. “You are playing
ssolitaire.”


(I've come up with a system for randomly generating short story ideas: a numbered list of characters, a list of situational prompts, and a list of dialogue prompts. A few dice rolls gave me "Firedrake" and "characters move into together" and I decided this dialogue prompt would be perfect for that combination. This isn't quite a story, more like a few fun little scenes, but my husband liked this and said I should share it. :) This is MASSIVE SPOILERS for my series since this story is likely going to be edited and adjusted and slid into book 2. If you don't mind spoilers for a series that's not likely to be finished for several more years, read on!)

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "Roommates"


"Were you hit on the head or something? Why would you want to move in with Sol of all people?"

Firedrake tried to raise an eyebrow to indicate the asininity of the question and had to give up when their face didn't want to respond properly. Right, Firedrake didn't have those anymore; eye ridges weren't the same as eyebrows. Instead they gestured at the shifted body mostly hidden beneath layers of clothing and the tail that insisted on poking out from under their skirts. That was one small favor there. Firedrake didn't own a single pair of pants, so the addition of a tail was only a minor clothing inconvenience.

The scales and spikes that kept ripping through their sleeves, on the other hand... which incidentally ended in claws now, just like the first hand.

"He offered t-to keep the sstove on and hotch- hottchh-" Firedrake sounded the short word out slowly to get the ‘T’ to stick. “Huh-ot.”

That was yet another problem. Firedrake's tongue was no longer the same shape it had been and their words came out all wrong with obnoxious clicks and slurs garbling their speech. Awful didn't even begin to describe this unfortunate change.

When Firedrake's body shook with another shiver, Blythe walked over to drape a blanket over her sibling’s shoulders. "But he's a slob. And I don't care what he says about his Weaving. I'm not convinced that he can't accidentally set the wagon on fire if he's not paying attention."

Firedrake’s clicks stumbled them over the very first word in their reply and they threw their arms down at their sides in frustration. Blythe brought her hand up to rest it on Firedrake's forehead. A small smile crept over Firedrake's lips. At the moment Blythe’s one-way telepathy made communication a lot easier.

Instead of speaking the words, Firedrake thought them. -Don’t fret. Even if he does set it on fire, now I can control it, too. I'll be fine.-

Blythe brushed Firedrake's cheek with her hand in a gesture of affection before taking a step back. “If it's too much to deal with Sol or if you need my help with, you know, the lizard thing, you know where to find me. My wagon's empty until Addy and Etri come home.”

Firedrake nodded, then went back to packing their belongings. It was kind of her to offer, but it wasn't as though Sol was that bad. Firedrake would be fine living with him.

-----------------------

Firedrake pushed open the door of Sol's wagon and was greeted by a wall of warm air. With a grateful sigh, Firedrake nudged the door shut and dropped their bag onto the nearest bed. Already the warmth was seeping into their bones and making Firedrake want to curl up in comfort for the first time since this blasted change happened.

“Oh! You're here! Do ya need help with your stuff?”

“No, I'm-” The unspoken words faded out of existence when Firedrake noticed Sol's clothing- or lack thereof. “What iss itch with you and your perpetual lack of pantss?”

Sol looked down at himself with a shrug of his broad shoulders. “I'm losing at cards.”

Firedrake's claws clicked against the wooden boards as they stalked over to Sol. In one swift- and flustered- movement, Firedrake snatched the discarded articles of clothing off the floor and dumped these on top of Sol's clearly empty head. “You are playing ssolitaire.”

Sol moved his vest aside to look up at Firedrake with wide, confused blue eyes. “Yeah. And I'm losing.”

The sigh that escaped Firedrake's lips was more of a hiss. “Fine. Whatever. Now putch your pantss back on.”

-----------------------

With gritted teeth, Firedrake buried their head deeper under the nest of blankets. The shrill scraping sound continued. Lizards didn’t really have ears, right? Firedrake hadn’t paid much attention during biology lessons. It wasn’t as though they expected that this information would come in handy a decade later. If someone had told them “hey, in ten years you’ll grow a tail and, incidentally, lizards have ears,” Firedrake might not have skipped class that day.

Or they probably would have rolled their eyes and left because clearly that person would have been out of their mind and not worth listening to.

Scrape. Clang. Quiet mutterings. More scratching. It was the middle of the night. What in the Creators’ names was Sol doing?

Firedrake raised the blankets just enough to peek out with one eye. Sol stood hunched over the stove while prodding it with something. Firedrake let out an annoyed hiss and returned to the secure, warm nest before it struck them what Sol held in his hand.

Blankets and pillows exploded outwards as Firedrake clambered out of bed. That was their dagger! How dare Sol use their favorite prop for such a mundane task! Firedrake was halfway across the wagon before the sensation of something tickling their feet made its way to their consciousness.

Firedrake looked down. Tiny flamelets poked out from between their claws. Firedrake wiggled their toes and experienced a sensation akin to wading in shallow water. Huh. It looked like Sol really couldn’t set the wooden wagon on fire.

Speaking of Sol, Firedrake reached over to yank the blunt blade from his unresisting hand. “Whatch are you doing with thiss?”

“Oh! Hi, Dray! I needed something to prop the door open so my magic could reach fuel-”

“Sso you ussed my prop? Creatorss, Sssol, there are a billion other thingss you could have ussed than another performer’ss prop!”

While Firedrake chewed him out, they eyed the blade to make sure that the soft metal wasn’t chewed. If the blade was no longer balanced it would no longer function for dancing. The fact that Dray’s tail got in the way of simply walking in a straight line wasn’t the point.

“Umm… Dray?”

“You know carniess are notch suppossed to touch another performer’ss prop. That’ss nearly the firsst rule you learn before they’ll even letch you think about joining. Right after ‘do notch be a dinguss,’ I believe.”

“Dray?”

“And you’ve performed for yearsss. You know thiss.” Firedrake tilted the dagger to view it from a different angle. It seemed okay, but in this flickering light it was difficult to tell for sure.

“Your sleeve is on fire.”

It would have to wait until morning when Firedrake could look at this in sunlight. “Hmm?”

“Your sleeve. It’s on fire.”

Was that a nick near the tip or was that the flickering firelight creating a shadow? “Mhmm, I ssee.”

“Will you stop looking at that sword and pay attention? Your sleeve is on fire!”

Firedrake rubbed at the marring with their thumb. No, it was just soot. Sol must have pushed the blade into the stove before he tried to jam it in the door from the other direction. “It’ss a dagger and yess. Everything around uss iss on fire, Ssol. You sset itch.”

“But that’s not my fire. I mean, I’m not controlling it. That’s stove-fire. Your sleeve dipped in when you took the sword.”

“Dagger.”

Sol’s words caught up with Firedrake and their head snapped down. The draping hem of their left sleeve was ablaze almost to their elbow. That would explain the unsteady lighting. Firedrake batted at it with their free hand and only succeeded in making it spread faster. They waved their arm at Sol. “Why didn’tch you ssay I wass on fire? You know I can’tch feel itch!”

“I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen!”

Through a joint effort they relocated the flame into the stove. Unfortunately the shirt went with it. Marvelous. Another piece of clothing ruined. Between scales, claws, and fire, Firedrake would run out of clothes by the end of the week.

Sol shrugged out of his vest while stammering apologies and draped it over Firedrake’s shoulders. It hung down to Firedrake’s knees. Firedrake let out a resigned sigh. With Sol’s penchant for being undressed, at least Firedrake had an entire second wardrobe to burn and tear, even if it was about six sizes too large.

Sol glanced down at the sea of flame that continued to slosh against his bare feet. “I’m sorry, Dray. I only wanted to make you warmer.”

“Yesss, I would ssay thatch ending up on fire ccertainly fulfillsss thatch goal. Congratch- congratttch-” Firedrake stumbled on their sarcastic retort and finally gave up. “Dammitch, I’m going back to ssleep.”


(The reference to Sol's lack of pants/clothes comes from this story, but it's really a running joke in the series. Gotta love Sol.)

Aug 14, 2016

A peek at my writing supplies

I’ve become a little obsessed with the idea of having physical versions of my writing notes and world building stuff. The smaller book is my planner that’s small enough to bring anywhere with me- things I need to fix, look up, and do, and anything I need to find quickly like basic character stats and my outline. The larger binder is going to be detailed character info, plotting, setting info… Basically the stuff I have scattered in files on my computer. I’m a very visual person, so I’m thinking these will work a lot better than computer docs that I never get around to updating! I love the cover of the smaller planner so much because it's so relevant for this series. The compasses are for Adair who is a cartographer, the sun is for Sol, the moon for Etri, a sword for Blythe (a blade-dancer and warrior), and a fire charm for Firedrake. I haven't made jewelry in ages, but I still have a ton of silver charms in so many shapes!

In the planner I made up some templates for basic character info so I can see character traits and mannerisms and stuff at a glance. I also did something similar for each of my cultures/social groups.

I'll blog more about these later. My usual laptop died on me today and I'm left with my really old, slow one and it makes doing anything incredibly time consuming.

~Meri

Jul 16, 2016

Writing Music (the songs that currently most inspire me)

This is kind of a duplicate of my other writing playlist posts, but I got tagged on Tumblr to share five songs that currently inspire my writing, so I figured I'd post them here, too. :) My series greatly revolves around the relationships between characters, whether that be romantic, friendship, or familial. Right now I’m feeling sappy, though, so I’m picking a bunch of romantic songs to go with Book 1 (Colorweaver).

1.) Hanson - “If Only”
If only I had the guts to feel this way
And if only you’d look at me and want to stay
And if only I’d take you in my arms and say
I won’t go, ‘cause I need you
Please don’t go
'Cause I need you now
This song is just so upbeat and sappy and perfect for Adair! It fits how he feels about Blythe and Etri in book 1. They’re serving as his temporary bodyguards on his “adventure” to get his stolen art back, but by the end of the book he wants them to stay with him.


2.) Hanson - “For Your Love”
If you’re lost then I will find you
And if you ask me
I’ll lay my life down, not for glory
I’m striving for your love
I’m fighting
For your love
I would tear down any wall
And for your love
I’ll turn my back on this world
For your love
Okay, another Hanson song. I could probably make a 25+ song playlist just from this band because their songs fit my style of writing so well. This song is the one I associate with my sentinels (bodyguards/spouses who protect the artists) and Etri falls into this role far more readily than Blythe does. All the lyrics are perfect from his POV and let’s just say the “lay my life down” line isn’t too far from the truth.


3.) Kelly Clarkson – “Miss Independent”
Misguided heart
Miss play it smart
Miss if you want to use that line you better not start, no
But she miscalculated
She didn’t want to end up jaded
And this miss decided not to miss out on true love
So, by changing her misconceptions
She went in a new direction
And found inside she felt a connection
She fell in love
This whole song is basically Blythe’s problem with the whole sentinel thing. Blythe is grey-romantic, she had always been happy to focus on her career, had no interest in relationships, and she had forcibly avoided any contact with artists because she always feared that she would become a sentinel. Then Adair shows up and she’s dragged into acting as his sentinel. She’s conflicted, not just about him, but about her future career because Adair being there is shaking that up.


4.) Imagine Dragons - “Demons”
They say it’s what you make
I say it’s up to fate
It’s woven in my soul
I need to let you go
Your eyes, they shine so bright
I wanna save that light
I can’t escape this now
Unless you show me how
This would be the song of Talan, my antagonist. He’s probably the least antagonistic antagonist ever, though, and it’s just unfortunate circumstances that put him into that role. He’s also Firedrake’s boyfriend and that’s really the reason Talan made the mistake that turned him into the antagonist- he’s trying to protect Dray, but Talan knows very little about humans. Ugh, I want to be able to talk about this but it would give too much away!


5.) Paramore - “Ignorance”
Don’t wanna hear your sad songs
I don’t wanna feel your pain
When you swear it’s all my fault
'Cause you know we’re not the same
No, we’re not the same, oh, we’re not the same
Yeah, we used to stick together
We wrote our names in blood
But I guess you can’t accept that the change is good
It’s good, it’s good
This is the song I associate with Blythe and Firedrake. They’re siblings in so far as having a blood oath, but it’s been a while since they’ve seen each other and they’ve both changed. Blythe gets so sick of Dray’s crap by about the halfway point of the book that she’s wishing Dray hadn’t shown up again.

~Meri