Dec 29, 2015

Inspiration Strikes!

Oh my gosh, I’ve been trying for over a year to figure out how to fix a short story I started ages ago. I absolutely loved the premise, but after doing a lot of worldbuilding and work on the novels, the story broke. Horribly. As in I had no idea how to salvage any of it. But I loved the idea of a character crossing into an alternate reality- it’s something I’ve always wanted to write and with this character’s magic, it’s possible!

Now I’m staring at the most obvious solution in the world and not understanding why this didn’t occur to me months ago. I could have had this thing done by now! Ah well. I have three days before the “52 short stores in 52 weeks", so I can either start the rewrite now or wait until I reach a theme that fits this. I have a feeling this is going to be a longish short story rather than the ficlets I plan for the challenge, so it might be better to start it now and continue it as I work on other stuff. Maybe I’ll set a goal to have it finished by one of my wildcard weeks or something?

So yeah, just some rambling, but I’m super excited that I just might be able to pull this story off! I'll try to keep this blog updated with what I'm working on and share my finished ficlets. I haven't done any "Dear Character" or "Dear Writer" posts in over a year, either, so maybe I should do some of those. I'm determined to get back into writing after a pretty awful and distracting two months. Short stories are the perfect solution to feeling like I'm actually being productive!

~Meri

Dec 27, 2015

Playing with some math

I realized something about my writing: if you’re a male between the ages of 17-30 and see a protagonist heading your way, RUN. Don’t look back, just get out of there! The gender of the protagonist doesn't matter- you're doomed.

A 93% chance of dating said protagonist isn’t bad, but… there’s only a 25% chance of an eventual happily ever after, a 100% chance of something horrible happening to you (but hey, only a 34% chance of actual death, so there’s that), and an 85% chance of becoming an antagonist of some kind. There is a 76% chance of having a story told from your POV, so at least you can possibly redeem yourself?

Long story short: boyfriends are expendable and I think I found a repeating theme. I'd be amused if not for the large group of young male characters glaring at me. Sorry, guys?

~Meri

Dec 26, 2015

52 short stories in 52 weeks

I was originally using this post to keep track of a "52 short stories in 52 weeks" challenge, but I fell super behind. Instead I'm going to use it to keep track of short stories in general, as well as prompts and ideas.

Finished stories set in the Unexpected Inspiration series along with the prompts I used:
  1. Describe your character’s keys. ("Three Keys")
  2. The line "I will never entirely be sure who picked whom." ("Who Picked Whom")
  3. A story entitled “A New Beginning”. ("A New Beginning")
  4. A story about rising to a challenge. ("Rising to a Challenge")
  5. A retelling of a fairytale. (Well, it's kind of a myth? "Mile Long Cow")
  6. A Soulmate AU ("Soul-Marks")
  7. A story about finding something that has been lost. ("Lost and Found")
  8. A story about characters moving in together. ("Roommates")
  9. A story about a magic spell. ("Of Parties and Potions")
  10. Your character wakes up to find their entire town empty. When they return home, they find a note. ("Sheltered")
  11. You have broken into someone’s house, and discover a shrine dedicated to you. ("The Shrine")
  12.  "4 people are shown where the made the biggest decision of their lives and what would happen if they had chosen differently" and "Your OC has the chance to go back in time and change something in their past. Do they take it?" ("Change of Choice")
  13. Dialogue prompt: “I’ll shoot. I mean, you thought I actually loved you?” ("All Washed Up")

Here are some more prompts from the "52 Short Stories in 52 Weeks" post that gave me this idea. I may do these or I might do other ones instead.
  1. A story about three siblings.
  2. A story about a journey.
  3. A story set during a war.
  4. A creepy story.
  5. A story featuring a countdown.
  6. A story set at a full moon.
  7. A story about a contest or competition.
  8. A story that takes place entirely inside a vehicle. 
  9. A story from a villain’s perspective.
  10. A story set at a concert or festival.
  11. A story that begins with a gunshot. (Wildcard week or would need a different noise.)
  12. A story about a historical figure. (This can work- I'll pick one for the culture.)
  13. A story set in a theatre.
  14. A story written in 2nd person narrative.
  15. A story set on another planet. (More likely I'll set it on a different elemental plane.)
  16. A story written from the perspective of someone dead/undead.
  17. A story about a birthday.
  18. A story that ends on a cliffhanger.
  19. A story set at the summer solstice.
  20. A story about nostalgia.
  21. A story that features a song or poem.
  22. A story that ends at sunrise.
  23. A story opening with the words “F*** you!”
  24. A story about a magical object.
  25. A story set at sea.
  26. A story about a curse.
  27. A story set 100 years in the future.
  28. A story about loneliness.
  29. A story written from an animal’s perspective.
  30. A story about a scientific discovery.
  31. A story with only one character.
  32. A story about a secret.
  33. A romance that ends in tragedy.
  34. A tragedy that ends in romance.
  35. A story about a near-death experience.
  36. A story about anger.
  37. A story set in a strange small town.
  38. A story about justice being done.
  39. A creation myth.
  40. A story set at Christmas. (Or whatever the winter holiday is.)
  41. A story entitled “The End”.

To keep myself organized, here are some of the miscellaneous prompts I've been collecting:
  • "I don’t care about what people think of me; I just care about cake."
  • "Trusting me was your first mistake."
  • "I’m not afraid to be protected, you know? It doesn’t annoy me… I just hope, someday, to be able to protect the people I love as well."
  • "I wouldn’t trust you as far as I could throw you- which is actually pretty far… but that’s besides the point."
  • "This, what we used to have, it’s been over for a while now. You need to move on from this, from us… From me."
  • "Don't let the lizards get you down."
  • “You know what I’ve noticed about you? You don’t answer to anybody.”
    “Oh, well thanks, I-”
    “Oh no, I mean you LITERALLY don’t answer to anyone. We have to call your name, like, four or five times just to get your f***ing attention, and frankly, it’s getting on my nerves.”
  • “Well, people do stupid things when they’re in love.”
    “What are you talking about? I’m not in love, I just don’t think things through before I do them.”
  • “We’re bad for each other, don’t you see? We don’t work!”
  • “Don’t close your eyes,” he whispered. The sand was still draining from the hourglass.
  • “Would it be so terrible? To not hate ending up with me?”
  • “I don’t even want to know why you’re looking at me like that.” 
  • "I'm just as human as you are."
  • “Run. I need you to run, as fast as you can. Run, and don’t stop. Don’t look back.” Honestly, as I think back on my father telling me this. I realize I probably should’ve ran faster.
  • “You’re lucky I’m tired because if I was fully awake I would have already shoved you off this roof.”
  • "Do you have any idea what you’ve just done?”
    “Uh, in all honesty? No. No, I don’t. And you’re kinda freaking me out with the tone you just used.”
  • “Huh, I thought for sure that would get him.”
    “You mean that was intentional?”
  • “Do you really think I’d get shot for you if I didn’t like you?” 
  • “Why is there a summoning circle in the pie crust?”
  • “I know what I want, but I think it’s time to admit that that doesn’t matter anymore.”
  • “Every time I think I’ve found something that makes me happy, it gets taken away from me.”
  • I walked up to my porch, breathing hard after a long run. A cat with white feet nuzzled up to me and I muttered, “I’m not your owner, but you’re really soft.” I stroked the cat until it dozed off in my lap. 
  • “I’m worried, what if this doesn’t go right? What if-”
    “You talk too much.”
  • “What are you two doing? I mean, I know what you’re doing. Just stop doing it!”
    “[—-], this is not what it looks like…”
    “This is the definition of something looking like what it looks like. Just go, [—-].”
  • "I had just had another fight with my father and now he was unable to look me in the eye."
  • “One day, I’m going to get famous. Just watch.”
  • “That’s okay, you can be my sidekick.”
  • “Going anywhere with you just brings me trouble.”
  • “You aren’t gonna like what I have to say.”
    “Can you just not say it then? Can that be a new rule?”
  • “I’ve been pronouncing that word wrong this entire time. Why didn’t you correct me? I’m so embarrassed.”
  • “I know I said it’s a cool sword and that I wanted it, but not like this.“ 
  • “We’re more alike than you want to believe.”
  • “Lie to the world if you must, we all do.” They took a step closer. “But don’t you dare ever presume to lie to me as if I’m one of them.”
  • “Could you just listen to me for two seconds?”
    “No, because frankly, I don’t give a damn about what you have to say.”
  • “Do you know what this is?”
    “No idea.”
    “Me neither. You have not one implement in these drawers an honest man could call a kitchen utensil.”
  • “I’m just scared you’re going to get tired of me.”
    “Why?”
    “Because everyone gets tired of me.”
  • It wasn’t exactly the welcome they’d been expecting.
  • “Let them be. There’s nothing you can do to make it worse.”
  • “What if I forget? What if I let myself forget?”
  • “I did it for you.”
    “No, you didn’t. The worst part is that you didn’t do it for you either. It was for him.”
  • “I can’t imagine my life without you, anymore. I’m not leaving.”
  • Writing prompt: “Write a diary entry, dated 10 years in the future.”
  • Write a piece in which absolutely nothing goes the way it should.
  • Write a piece in which someone has promised to be in two places at once
  • Write a story in which a magical being must face the choice of giving up their magic.
  • The characters from one of your abandoned stories have found out that you’ve given up on them.
  • The narrator really really hates the protagonist but everyone else believes in him.
  • A story where the protagonist is stuck with an indecisive author who keeps changing things.
  • Her features were smudged with grease and she smelled of metal.
  • You joke about pigs flying with a prophetic voice, and your friends laugh. Then, you all find out it came true not a minute after—in the middle of the city. Turns out you can manipulate reality, but only through sarcastic humor.
  • As a child you noticed that by making a ring by touching your index and thumb you could look through and see another dimension. Later in life you realise that this works by touching any ring so you pick up your daughter’s hula hoop and step through.
  • Today, a magic trick plays an important role.
  • You are part of an old and ancient race that speaks the old tongue, the language of magic. The only problem? You and your people can’t stop doing accidental magic when you speak.
  • A person visiting another dimension returns home to find it doesn’t exist anymore. They need to go through all the others to find the one that is closest to their previous life.
  • Who does your character hate most in the world? Why? Would they ever forgive this person?
  • You are a Dreamweaver, a being who creates dreams and nightmares to influence or inspire someone. You’ve inspired many people from rulers to inventors since the start of mankind. Now humans have found your existence, and are now trying to actually communicate with you.
  • You run a paranormal investigation show- the most famous, widely known, and consistently watched in the world. Every week, you and your crew successfully find a paranormal creature hiding in the midst of society, or from it. There’s been talk lately, though- no source other than yourself has been able to confirm your education or enlightenment about the paranormal. You have never had other professionals in the field on the show. You haven’t made any statement on the matter, and with good reason… You yourself are a demon, and the human body you live in isn’t yours to control.
  • You have a special backpack that supplies you with everything you may need for the day. One morning, while preparing for your day, you take a peek in the backpack and think, “Huh, well this should be an interesting day.”
  • Your character is a ghost. They live in a quiet world full of ghosts. But one day, they see a very “lively” person walking around town. No one else seems to notice.  
  • You’re a demon, who got bored and disguised yourself as a human for the fun of it. A person gets a crush on you, and takes you on a date. After two dates he summons your demon form to impress you.
  • Imagine tiny and aggressive Person A getting into an argument with someone. When the person they’re arguing with asks ‘Are you looking down on me?!’, the much-taller Person B chimes in to say ‘I don’t think they can look down on anyone.’
  • A party crasher who crashes the wrong party.
  • A group of teens find a chest full of bizarre masks, and discover that each mask gives the wearer a different ability.  Like amazing rhyming skills, or sick dance moves.
  • Throughout the whole story, you never identify the age, sex/gender, name or characteristics of the narrator/protagonist. They don’t have an identity. You can only describe actions, thoughts, or feelings that they have. 
  • Write about a con artist who convinces people he/she is some sort of supernatural creature: a fairy, a ghost, etc. Try to go into specifics about how they achieve their “magic.” Or, alternately, write about a supernatural creature who uses his/her magic to be a successful “mundane” entertainer: an escape artist, a magician, etc. Talk about where they perform and how/if they explain their impossible feats. Bonus if the two end up meeting somehow.
  • Which OC would spend valentine’s day sabotaging other people’s dates?
  • Relationships: friends with benefits, soulmate AUs, seeing color AU, domestic triad, fantasy setting AUs, childhood best friends
  • Ghosts: 1, 2, 3, 4
  • (And all of these ridiculous ones or these ridiculous ones, this jerky job descriptionthese dialogue ones are funny, some good dialogue ones here, along with these silly disastrous date ones are giving me plot bunnies. These angsty ones have some potential, too, as does this bingo card, these dream prompts, bodyswapping, asexual stories, unique fiction ideas, childhood backstory, artwork as portals, wizard tattoos, magic drawings, and this list of experimental writing styles.)

I've been wanting to do little writing exercises/ficlets/vignettes because it's a good way to keep myself in the habit of writing without worrying about the stress of working on my novels during crazier weeks. Plus is a fun distraction when I get bogged down with rewriting novels!

I don't know how many I'll do, but it'll be neat to have a collection! I'm curious how I can turn the more depressing-sounding prompts into my usual flavor of humor. I'm really excited about all this!

~Meri

Dec 18, 2015

A list of writing ideas


Jotted down some ideas for short writing that have popped up in my head recently. Life’s been hectic, so my novels have been pushed aside, but I miss writing terribly! Hopefully these ideas will give me words without stress. Right now trying to fiddle with drafts of three books is stress. If someone says writing is easy, they’re lying, lol. 

These all fit into my current series/world. Stars are stories I’ve already started in some form. I’ve had some ideas for my other world, but I think jumping back there would be too jolting right now considering I haven’t touched those characters (or the completely different magic system- eep!) in four years. I kind of had a bad breakup with my protagonist over there and we agreed to see other people for a while, so going for less stress probably isn’t switching back to him. XD

~Meri



Dec 13, 2015

Book Review - Joy of Witchcraft

I received Joy of Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky from LibraryThing as part of the Early Reviewers program.


Here's the summary from Amazon:
A humorous paranormal romance by USA Today bestselling author Mindy Klasky. Sometimes a thunderstorm is just a thunderstorm. But not this time. Jane Madison’s school for witches is in session, and the first order of business is an intricate Samhain ritual. Alas, in the midst of a sudden, unseasonable deluge, a classic Greek monster is released into the magic circle. Jane succeeds in vanquishing the beast, but only with the assistance of her sworn enemy, the Coven Mother of Washington DC. Crisis averted, Jane would be perfectly happy to plan her wedding to her astral protector, David Montrose. But how can she look at seating charts when she’s under attack by more monsters, the Coven Mother, and the highest law in the witchy land, Hecate’s Court? All these disasters can’t be coincidence. One of Jane’s students must be a traitor. But will Jane find the turncoat before she loses everything—and everyone—she holds dear?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I flaked when I requested this book from LibraryThing and didn't realize that it was something like the fifth book in the series. I think that was the reason that it took me a while to get into the book- I didn't know who any of the characters were and didn't yet have an attachment to them. After a while, though, I did start to get into it and found the plot engaging. Klasky is a good writer and I think the problem was more that I dove into the series at the wrong point than any shortcomings on the writer's part. This worked as a stand alone because everything I needed to know was explained in the book, but I think I would have enjoyed it better had I read the earlier books, as well.

I'm intrigued by the idea of witches and their warders and familiars, as well as the witchy theme. I haven't read a lot of paranormal or books set in the present time, so this was something of a novelty to me. This book made a positive impression on me, so I'm going to go back and read the earlier books in the series.

(Short review, but I figure I'll do a better one for the earlier books when I read them.)

Dec 12, 2015

More outlining



If book 1 would ever settle into the correct order of events, that would be wonderful. Made a mini outline so I could easily see what’s going on, but geez, this story has shifted at least a dozen times. Who knows if this outline is going to hold up longer than a day? My dorks keep changing things.

Somehow a few more chapters got added since my last outline post. It looks like Adair and Firedrake both have 12 while Blythe still has 8. I'm a little worried about that, but it's probably okay. Adair's the main-main character so it makes sense for him to have the most. Firedrake's chapters are generally pretty short so in terms of word count it's probably even with Blythe who gets longer chapters. (Generally plot happens in Firedrake's chapters, then the fallout/result happens in Adair or Blythe's.)

~Meri


Dec 5, 2015

Are there writers whose characters actually listen to them?

So for those people out there who think asexual characters can't fall in love: I'd like to direct you to two of my main characters. I've written this part of book 1 something like three or four times and they keep insisting on closeness WAY too quickly. The one is supposed to be unemotional (well, he comes off that way to people because of his culture's mannerisms and some social anxiety- he's definitely not) and the other is supposed to be concentrating on getting back a stolen piece of his magic because it keeps hurting him. Every draft I say "I'll make their friendship develop over time! That would be great! And in book 2 they can develop it further!"

Hahahaha. They're definitely in love by the end of book 1 and they can't seem to stay away from each other from pretty much the time they meet. Guys! Stop it! This scene is your first conversation! Etri was supposed to walk away after a line of dialogue and now Adair's somehow gotten him to stay through the cunning use of tea and puppy eyes and I have no idea how to wrap up this scene because it's devolved into a conversation when Etri isn't supposed to be freely conversing this early in the story! *pulls hair out*

I guess I'll keep writing it like I am. I've learned that fighting my characters is usually a waste of time. If these two dorks want to hit it off earlier than I'd planned this many drafts in, then I guess that's how it needs to be. :-p

~Meri