The "Unexpected Inspiration" Characters

Dec 4, 2016

Short Story: "Of Parties and Potions"

She knew that over excited voice, even if it was a little more echoing than usual. "Sol?"
"Yeah! Hey, look what I can do!” The door swung open on its hinges and... well, burped was the only way Blythe could describe the outflow of heat and flame. That was Sol, all right.
Blythe dropped to her knees so she could be eye level with Sol’s knobs. She hoped those were his eyes and not something else. “Yes, that’s great. What do you mean no one wants to talk to you? No one else is here! And-- I'll probably regret asking this-- 
why are you a stove?”



(This is a Halloween/costume party themed story that I finished a month ago. Pretend that it's still seasonal, okay? This short story mostly fits into the Unexpected Inspiration series canon, except that it takes place shortly after book 3 [Iconoclasm]. This story is what you get when a you mix a character who loves causing mischief with a world where magic is readily available. This is another super ridiculous story that I'll blame on my husband, my muse of silliness.)

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "Of Parties and Potions"


Firedrake nudged the door of their wagon shut with their hip and placed the small brown sack on the table. The contents of the bag, while difficult to acquire, were well worth the effort for the devious plan they had in mind. “Solei, what did you do? Open every window?”

Sol glanced up from where he knelt on the floor. His usual orbs of light hovering a foot above his head did nothing to heat the wagon. The stove served that purpose. The stove, Firedrake now noticed, was cold and dark. Sol sheepishly grinned at Firedrake. “I kinda blew the door off again. But I’m fixing it!”

Firedrake’s exasperated response went unsaid when a shiver shook their body. Sol had improved the stove enough that it could keep even a Salamander warm, but every upgrade meant he broke the blasted thing for most of a day, usually by blasting the thing. “Is this going to take long?”

“Nope! I’m almost done.” Sol snapped his fingers and then pointed at the hinge. A narrow jet of flame streamed from his fingertips to turn the metal a dimly glowing orange. After a few minutes of mixing fire weaving with metalworking, the door was back on and Sol had relit the coal.

Sol climbed to his feet and pushed his goggles back up onto his forehead where they stopped just short of the carefully-styled blond spikes. “There. Told ya!”

“Good. If you’ve finished blowing things up for the evening, I made plans for us.”

Firedrake reached into the bag and was relieved that Sol’s curiosity brought him over to investigate. This was much better than an unreliable stove since Sol emitted a steadily warm body heat. Sol’s inability to understand personal space was never a problem.

Once the glass jar was in their hands, Firedrake pivoted around to show this to Sol. Before Firedrake could explain further, however, Sol reached for it. “Thanks! I was thirsty!”

Firedrake snatched it back, grateful the lid was stoppered with a cork. Who knew what would happen if it hit their skin instead of being ingested? “I didn’t get this for you, goofus. It’s not for drinking. Yet.”

Sol’s lips twitched into a pout. “Aww, why not? It looks like fruit juice.”

“And I’m hoping that’s all it tastes like. Remember the party tonight?”

Sol shook his head.

“You know, the one our sibs were invited to, but the one to which no one saw fit to invite us?”

Sol continued to look blank.

“For the Creators’ sakes. They’re at a costume party right now thrown by one of Adair’s Artisan friends. We’re going to crash it.”

Now Sol got it. His face broke into a wide grin. “Oh! Sounds like fun! What are you going to wear?”

Firedrake rolled their eyes and gestured down. “Was it ever in question?”

“You always dress like a dragon. Can’t you wear something else?”

Firedrake had no desire to change out of the costume they wore to their performance earlier. It took long enough to get the makeup right as it was. “Don’t be ridiculous. Now find something you can wear- one of your silly hats or something- and meet me outside. There’s one more thing I have to do.”

“I guess that would work...” Sol paused for a moment, then his eyes widened. “No! I have the most perfect idea ever!”

Oh no. A Sol idea couldn’t end well. “What-”

Sol interrupted Firedrake with a laugh and gave them a gentle shove towards the door. “It’s a secret, like your not-juice. You’ll see!”

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

“I take it you are having as much fun as I.”

Blythe stopped trying to push her annoyingly floppy ears away from her eyes when she heard the familiar voice. Etri leaned against the wall next to her as though he wished he could pass through it- something not too far outside the realm of possibility considering that he was a Shadowweaver. Although Etri towered over everyone here, Adair had chosen the most suitable costume for someone with a penchant for hiding.

“Hang on, your whiskers are smudged.” She reached up to wipe his cheek. His round ears were knocked slightly askew by his mess of curls, so she adjusted these. “There. Yeah. I’m hoping if I stay in this corner long enough, Addy will forget I’m here and I can sneak out the side door.”

“That is unlikely after all the begging he did to get you to come in the first place.”

“Said the pot to the kettle. He knows we hate parties. I don’t do small talk and you don’t do talk.”

“It could be worse, yes?”

Blythe let out a huff of air and pushed her ears away from her face again. As obnoxious as the things were, they still weren’t as obtrusive as the fake snout tied behind her head with string. She would have preferred the painted whiskers. “Since when are you the optimistic one?”

Etri gestured towards the center of the room. “Ever since I saw what the other sentinels wear. He could have garbed us in that.”

Blythe snorted a laugh. The lounge was full of artists and their sentinels, most dressed far more ridiculously than Blythe and her pair. The artists seemed to have gone in for a few of the Muses this year-- lots of dragons, arborein tree-folk, and birdlike aerigals. These were presumably supposed to be Tessera, Mortise, and Andante, the Muses of glassblowing, woodworking, and music. And, of course, cats. There were always cats at a costume party. What wasn’t normal was the fact that the bodyguards were almost entirely crustaceans.

“Okay, I get the whole fixation with artists and Muses and their whole art thing. But why lobsters? Shouldn’t sentinels be dressed more … impressively? Or at least a little less silly?”

Etri’s lips twitched into a smile. “Well, ponder this. We are supposed to be defensive of our artists, yes? What better for this than an animal both possessing a natural kind of armor and capable of attacking a foe.”

“Claws made from stuffing and fabric kind of defeat the purpose. How exactly is a sentinel supposed to defend an artist when their hands are inside large oven mitts and they’re waddling around with a stupid tail?”

“What could possibly hurt us here?” In her ranting about how mind-numbingly stupid this all was, she hadn’t noticed Adair walk over to them. He grinned behind his own set of painted whiskers and handed Etri a red beverage. “And I knew you’d say that. That’s why I didn’t make you or Etch wear gloves for your paws.”

“Thank your Creators,” Etri muttered under his breath as he took a drink.

“Ha! I knew you’d start talking like a Concordian eventually!”Adair reached up to adjust Etri’s headband from where it had slid forward again. As he shifted to stand on his toes, his striped tail swung back and forth. Blythe thought he looked far better than the trees and lobsters, even if he had expressed disappointment that so many people also chose cats. A cat suited Adair. He was like a small, hyperactive, overly-affectionate kitten. Even his tattoo-like skin discoloration- the side effect of channeling weaving that was not his own- resembled the dark markings on a tabby.

When he took the glass back to hand it over to Blythe, she couldn’t stop the sigh that escaped her lips. While Etri might be getting more and more Concordian as time went by, she just couldn’t adjust to Adair’s Artisan traditions. Why did the three of them always have to share food and drink? It wasn’t as though she really minded sharing with Adair and Etri, but she wouldn’t say no to her own drink every once in a while. She couldn’t remember the last time she finished a meal without Adair nibbling from it. Etri once jokingly threatened to climb up on the roof of their wagon during meals, a place where he knew the acrophobic artist wouldn’t go. The intense disappointment Adair projected through their link had quickly stopped that jibe.

Blythe rubbed at her forehead as she handed the drink back to Adair. It made her head a little fuzzy, which shouldn’t be able to happen to her, especially after only a few sips. “What’s in this, anyway? It’s potent.”

Adair shrugged as he drank from it. “I dunno. Fruit?”

A loud clanging sound distracted Blythe from her worries. “Oh no. What’s he doing here?”

Clamoring across the dance floor and bumping into everyone he passed was Etri’s brother. When Sol saw them, he waved his arms wildly to get their attention, spilling some of his drink on a pair of birds and knocking a tree off her feet.

Etri hid his face behind his hands. As the only other tall foreigner at the party, it was obvious that he knew Sol- or if this wasn’t obvious, Sol untangling his feet from branches and coming over to give Etri a bear hug would have made this undeniable.

Adair broke into a titter as Etri tried to pry himself away from someone who seemed to be made entirely out of metal.

"So you're a... stove?" Blythe leaned over to unhook Etri’s shirt from where it stuck to Sol’s burner. “That’s certainly different.”

"No, I'm a knight! Like from the stories! Dray's my dragon!"

Blythe groaned. “Dray’s here too? What part of ‘private party’ don’t you understand?”

Never mind that she didn’t want to be here and would have gladly allowed Sol to come in her place. He didn’t have to know this.

“The part that left us sitting at home bored, of course.” Firedrake had come up behind Sol. Dwarfed by the much taller man, Firedrake wouldn’t have made a very threatening dragon if not for the fact that Firedrake really could breathe fire. “We decided to see what all this fuss was about. Frankly this party is rather boring.”

Blythe couldn’t disagree there, but before she could say as much, Firedrake let out a gasp. “Solei!”

At the sound of his name being shouted, Sol started with his glass halfway to his lips. The liquid ran down his arm and splashed the front of Firedrake’s coat. Firedrake crinkled their nose and frantically began brushing at this with their hands.

“You klutz! It will be impossible to remove this stain. Do you know how hard it is to get punch out of-” Firedrake froze and stared at their hands in disgust. When Etri handed them a handkerchief, Firedrake waved it away. “There isn’t much point now, is there? I’m afraid I made a horrible mistake.”

Something was wrong with Firedrake’s hands. They seemed stained a strange color different from the punch… green, perhaps, but when Blythe took a step forward to get a better look, she stumbled. She reached out to steady herself against Etri only to find he no longer stood at her side. Typical, she thought as her knees hit the floor. Ten minutes into a social situation and out he crept through the nearest door. Occasionally it was through a window. Once it was up a chimney.

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

Blythe’s ears itched. Her legs itched. Her back itched. It felt like she had walked through a patch of nettles. No… it was more like the time the cat had slept on her clean laundry and shed fur everywhere. When she brought her foot up to scratch at her ear, the embarrassment won out over the incessant prickling. What was she doing?

She climbed to her feet to make sure no one saw this. Luck was on her side- no one had, if just for the reason that no one else was in the room. She peered under a nearby table to check that no one was playing a trick on her and found it empty of all but a lizard.

As this skittered away, Blythe rubbed at her head. She still felt fogged from the drink Adair gave her, whatever it was. Her eyes widened and she dropped her hand. Maybe that was what happened. Maybe everyone else got sick from this, too, and left to go home.

That couldn’t be right. As a healer she recovered faster, so there was no reason she would have been struck down immediately and then affected longer. For another thing, Etri and Adair would never leave her here.

Blythe headed towards the door and tripped over a row of potted plants that she didn’t recall having been there earlier this evening. Why were there so many trees? These people really went all out on decorations. If only she could find the people. Her pair would be preferable, but anyone would do. Creators, her skin itched! Her costume wasn’t made of wool, was it?

She pushed the door to the hallway open, expecting to find everyone waiting outside to yell “surprise!” The hall was as vacant as the lounge. She poked her head into each of the rooms on this floor to find them all empty. Where the hell was everyone? If this was a joke, she didn’t find it very funny.

She was halfway across the dance floor with the goal of the side door in mind when she heard a familiar clattering sound behind her. At least someone was still here! “Sol! Do you know where Addy and Etch are? Or any-”

She spun around to find no sign of Sol, either. She had been so sure. When two parrots whizzed past her head, she had to duck to avoid being brained. This was so stupid. Who let all these animals in here, anyway? It would be just her luck if Etri escaped out a window instead of a door and left it open. She always got stuck cleaning up after his and Adair’s mistakes.

Grumbling about her grievances as a sentinel, she spun around and rammed her knee against the side of a table. She looked down. No, not a table. A stove. In the middle of the dance floor.

Okay, things were beyond weird. This had to be a dream.

“I’d like to wake up now,” she muttered in the hope this would jolt her sleeping self into consciousness.

“Oh! Are you sleepwalking! You looked awake! If you want me to go so you can sleep, I’ll go.”

She stared at it. It couldn’t possibly be speaking, yet with each word the flap on the stovepipe lifted up and down. When the stove began to prance away on its stubby legs, she called out, “Hey, wait!”

It stopped and turned around. She got the impression it was grinning at her, but a stove couldn’t emote. Or talk. Or walk. “So you are awake! I was hoping you’d talk to me! No one else wants to.”

She knew that over excited voice, even if it was a little more echoing than usual. “Sol?”

“Yeah! Hey, look what I can do!” The door swung open on its hinges and … well, burped was the only way Blythe could describe the outflow of heat and flame. That was Sol, all right.

Blythe dropped to her knees so she could be eye level with Sol’s knobs. She hoped those were his eyes and not something else. “Yes, that’s great. What do you mean no one wants to talk to you? No one else is here! And-- I'll probably regret asking this-- why are you a stove?”

“It’s great, isn’t it! I can blow out fire and make things warm and no one yells at me for it!”

“Sol, there’s no one else here to yell at you even if they wanted to. Just me. Where is everyone?” If Sol had shoulders she would have shaken him by them. As it was, she had to settle for glaring at the flapping stove pipe.

“They’re right here. I’d point, but I don’t have a hand. It’s the only thing bad about this, I guess. Hey, want to see what else I can do?”

Blythe scooted back on her heels in case Sol decided to belch again. “No no, that’s fine. What do you mean ‘here’?”

“All around you, silly!”

Blythe glanced quickly around the room, then rolled her eyes. “Sol, I already looked. No one is here. And you didn’t answer how in Petra’s name you ended up a stove. Did Addy set you up for this? Did he use his weaving on you?”

That had to be it. Adair had recently learned how to make illusions. Sol-as-stove was a trick.

“Nope! Not Addy, but you’re close. Pretend I’m waving my arm around again, okay? Okay, so all this is weaving.”

Blythe looked around again and finally noticed how many new things were in the room than there were before. If Sol wasn’t a figment of her imagination and wasn’t under an illusion, that meant…

It was weaving. Potent weaving. Blythe snatched a candelabra off a nearby table and stared at it. “Right. So then this is actually a person?”

Sol let out an echoing chortle. “No, silly! That’s just a lamp! I’ll give you a hint: what was everyone wearing before?”

What did their clothes have to do with price of apples in Agren? Then it hit her. That was why Sol turned into a stove. If his costume had been better, he might have actually turned into a knight. No wonder she had tripped over a row of potted plants. Those were probably fine; they weren’t going anywhere and not much could hurt a small tree. The animals, however, were going to be a problem. She needed to get them separated before… her eyes slid to the left where a lobster had cornered a lizard, possibly the same one from earlier. Oh no.

“Sol, stay here! I’ll be right back!”

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

After many a scratch, pinch, and bite, Blythe managed to dump all of the lobsters into a bathtub, drop the lizards into a large box, and shoo the birds into the adjoining room. She could only hope each of the same species wouldn’t hurt another- or try to mate. That would be embarrassing after they became human again. If they became human again.

She couldn’t think about that now. There was one last task to protect the rest of the party-goers from themselves and it was shaping up to be the most difficult. Herding cats was like… herding cats. Painful, frustrating, and nearly impossible. As she dropped what she hoped was the last one into a room already beginning to make her nose itch, one darted between her legs.

Blythe growled after it, then cleared her throat. So the effects of the drink hadn’t quite worn off. What good was her enhanced metabolism, anyway? She ran after the cat while a part of her subconscious tried to force her down on all fours. She caught up with it when it skidded in a u-turn to follow a small grey shape.

Tell me that isn’t…

As the cat pounced, she leaped. Wrestling the tabby around until she was glaring into its eyes and hoping it wouldn’t claw her too much, she told it, “Drop it! I mean, him! Spit your sentinel out right this minute!”

This cat had to be exactly the one she guessed it to be. Only Adair could manage to look that sheepish in animal form. Through their link she could sense annoyance, then confusion, then recognition. She kicked herself for not thinking about their bond earlier. If nothing else, she could have tracked down these two fools first.

In her head his voice sounded as contrite as she expected. -Blade? Why are you so big?-

She gave him a quick hug followed by a sneeze before placing him down on the ground. Thank the Creators, at least Adair was starting to think like a person again. “Someone spiked the punch with weaving. Everyone’s their costume.”

-But you’re okay… Oh, healer’s healing, right?-

She nodded. This also explained why Adair was returning to normal thinking patterns. Her healing extended to the other two through the bond they shared.

The mouse climbed up her leg to sit on her thigh. -Impossible. Weaving does not work in that manner.-

Blythe shrugged. “You’re the Weavers, not me.”

When Adair lifted a paw, she swatted it away before he could swat Etri. "Knock if off, Addy. We’re going to need Etch’s help."

Etri scampered up her sleeve to reach the safety of her shoulder. -What do you have in mind?-

She leaned over to scratch Adair behind the ears. “I may not know weaving like you do, but I know a thing or two about antidotes. And the perfect way to brew up this concoction. First we find the punch bowl.”

-Then what?- Adair asked as he purred and rubbed against her hand.

“Then we figure out how to get you back to normal. You’re both cute and all, but fur make me sneeze.”

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

“But you know what? Honestly it just feels right! Heck, I wouldn’t mind if I stayed this way!” Sol prattled on as Blythe placed a pot of water on his stove top. It figured he was the only one affected who could still speak aloud.

“That’s nice,” Blythe muttered as she tried to figure out what knob would increase the heat. There was no way she wanted to turn any of his knobs. “Um… Could you maybe make this a little bit hotter?”

A few seconds later Blythe leaned back and blinked. She didn’t need her eyebrows. “A little less oomph this time, please.”

“Oops! Sorry!”

Something brushed up against her leg. Adair had returned carrying a jar in his mouth.

“Oh good, you found them!” She rook the jar from him and read the label. “No, Addy. I said peppercorns. This is pepperoni.”

Adair’s tail twitched in annoyance. -Drat! I thought it was right! It’s so hard to read when my eyes are funny like this!-

Blythe opened the jar and handed a few pieces down to him, which started the purring again. “What’s wrong with your eyes?”

-Colors are weird. I hate not seeing colors right!-

Of course he wouldn’t. Adair was an artist and a painter to boot. She gave him another pepperoni to ease his suffering. “Maybe the label on the peppercorn is a single color script. Can you try again?”

-Yeah. I guess. There’s this mean cat who lives in the kitchen and she keeps hissing at me.-

Blythe wondered if this was because Adair was another cat or because that cat knew Adair was likely to raid the nearest kitchen at any given time, regardless of form. “You’re a person. Ignore her.”

-Easy to say when she’s bigger than me.-

“You should be used to that. It’s not like you’re very big as a person either. Please get me the peppercorn?”

With indecipherable mental grumbles, Adair padded across the floor. Once he was out of sight, Etri appeared back on her shoulder. At some point he must have climbed her again, but she hadn’t noticed. Etri was surprisingly light as a human due to his weaving, so it only made sense that his weight would do the same as a mouse.

“Didn’t want to be drooled on again, did you?” she asked him.

-No, I did not. I have that which you asked.- Blythe held out her hand and in it he placed a tangle of hair into the palm of her hand. -I believe this is from every garment in the coat room. What would happen if there are some I missed?-

Blythe dropped the knot into the pot then plucked out a single strand of her hair and did the same with this, just in case. It felt coarser than usual and wasn’t the right color. She hoped this would work because at the moment “human” wasn’t as much as it should have been. “Artisan party. Almost everyone here should be in a link like ours. As long as I have the hair from one, this should also work on their bondmates, too.”

-What about S--

Etri’s words were cut off when a much heavier animal landed on Blythe’s shoulder, forcing Etri to climb up her braid and cling to her scalp. “Mrrrttt!” came the sound as Adair began to slip, followed by a mental -Ouch!- when he dug his claws in for grip.

Blythe lifted Adair off her shoulder with a wince and tucked him into the crook of her arm. “Did you not hear what I was saying to Etch? We’re still linked, doofus. No clawing me. And for the love of Petra, stop trying to eat Etri! If you think clawing me hurts, what do you think eating him would feel like?”

-But he’s a small fuzzy moving thing,- Adair grumbled. -I like small fuzzy moving things.-

Blythe wasn’t sure if it was the cat side or the human side talking and didn’t really want to know. “Did you get the peppercorn?”

-Oh. Yeah. Umm... I hope.-

Blythe knelt to pick up the jar, bending slowly at the knees so she wouldn’t dislodge Etri from her hair. She wasn’t sure what a fall like that would do to him in his current shape. The last thing she needed right now was all three of them to end up with broken legs. Paws. Whatever. When she saw the label she groaned. “Now you’ve grabbed popcorn.”

“Ooo! Popcorn! I love popping popcorn! Let me pop it!” Blythe should have known Sol wouldn’t stay silent for more than a few minutes.

“We don’t have time for that. Look, I’ll keep the jar so you can pop it later. Can we please get on with this?” She placed Adair on the floor in front of the stove. “I’ll go get it myself. Can you make sure this doesn’t boil over and come get me if it does? And Sol, try not to do your burping thing again. I need this a steady temperature.”

“Right! Can do!” Sol flapped. Adair’s response was a mental affirmative.

She returned a few minutes later with the correct jar in hand to find Adair curled up in a ball in front of Sol. When she nudged him with her boot, one of his eyes slid open. -I wasn’t asleep. Just watching. Like you asked.-

Blythe unscrewed the jar and placed the last ingredient she needed into the pot. As she stirred this together, she said, “Since you’re so helpful, you can be the first to try this out.”

Adair sat up and his ears twitched back. -You can’t expect me to drink that! It smells! And has hair in it!-

Blythe transferred the contents into a smaller bowl and placed it in front of him. “A sip would do.”

Adair shot across the room and vanished under a table. By the time Blythe was able to coax him out, on no small part thanks to the remaining pepperoni, the brew was cool enough to drink. Adair sniffed it.

When he turned his head in disgust, Blythe had enough. She dipped her fingers into the bowl and flicked the liquid at him. Immediately Adair began washing his fur while making intermittent faces at the taste. He stopped mid lick with his tongue sticking out as realization dawned. -That was a dirty trick.-

“A dirty trick that worked.” She held the bowl up to the level of her head. “Etch?”

-You said only one of a triad needed to drink this,- he pointed out.

“It’s a theory. Do you really want to test it by staying a mouse?”

-You have a valid point.-

Blythe poured a small amount into her palm and held it out to him. As he drank this, Blythe turned her attention back to Adair who was still attempting to lick himself clean. The difference was he no longer had any fur. It took him a moment to notice this, then he let out a laugh and threw himself at Blythe to hug her. “It worked!”

Too well. Blythe hadn’t thought ahead to move Etri to the floor and within the breath of Adair tackling her and Etri taking a drink, Etri returned to his normal size.

Blythe’s voice was muffled. “I think I liked it better when you were both smaller.”

The three of them climbed to their feet, Etri and Adair a bit unsteadily. Once they were used to two legs again, Blythe checked on the bowl to find its contents covering them and the floor. Adair began to lick Etri’s sleeve until he remembered he didn’t have to clean him this way and gave him an embarrassed smile.

Etri gently pushed him away and chuckled softly. “No more spit today, if you would please.”

Safe in the knowledge that Adair could no longer hurt his sentinel, Blythe walked over to the stove to ladle more into the bowl.

“Can I stay like this a little longer?” Sol asked. “Please please please?”

“Fine, yeah. I’m not sure how you’re going to drink it anyway. At least the plants have dirt I can pour it into.” She nodded at Etri and Adair. They were slightly damp, but at least they were human again, which would make them far more helpful. “Now we give this to everyone else. Grab bowls and fill them up. It’s going to be a long evening.”

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

Blythe was pouring the end of her bowl into a potted fern when she heard clanging again. “Sol, you really shouldn’t be walking around like that. Since people are people again, you’re going to scare them.”

“Like what?”

Blythe looked up. Sol was Sol again, other than balancing the pot on his head. So basically Sol again.

“Oh. How did that happen?”

“When you spilled it, I guess some splashed on me. I guess it’s what happened when I splashed Dray with the punch, too.”

Sol looked forlorn, so she stood and patted him on the shoulder. “You’re still a pretty good stove even on two legs.”

She paused as the other part of Sol’s sentence made its way into her tired mind. “Wait. Dray. The lizards!”

She darted across the hall and into the room where she had left the box of lizards. She arrived just in time to see Adair place his bowl inside.

“There you go,” he said. “Now everyone drink this and you’ll be normal soon.”

“Addy, no! The box! You have to-”

Too late. As she watched, the box exploded outwards as the reptiles changed shape. Green claws became hands, tails became simply extensions of costumes, and silent animals became confused and bickering humans.

Sitting at the top of the human pyramid was Firedrake who blinked slowly at her. “About time. Did you really have to stick me in there with them?”

Firedrake hopped lightly down to land next to Blythe. Of course Firedrake would only be mildly affected by being a lizard, having spent six months with a tail and scales.

She folded her arms across her chest and glared at her sibling. “Don’t you have something to say for yourself?”

Firedrake ignored her question and brushed at the now dry stain on their coat with their hands. “Do you know how dull these lizards were? I could have thought of a better way to spend the evening.”

Blythe bit back her retort when the now familiar clanging entered the room. “Hey, guys! I found another glass!”

With speed he didn’t normally possess, Adair cleared the gap between them and knocked the glass out of Sol’s hand with a sound somewhere between a “mrowl!” and a “no!” It bounced off the floor and upturned over the carpet.

While Sol pouted at the spreading stain on the floor, Blythe reached over to scratch Adair behind his now-round ears. “Good boy. Now let's get out of here before anyone starts to wonder what happened and why they have feathers in their teeth or a desire to sit in a pot of dirt.”

Firedrake fell into step beside her and nudged her with their elbow. “You’re taking this awfully well.”

Wait for it… a few more steps… now! Blythe caught her foot around Firedrake’s ankle at precisely the right moment and kept walking as though nothing had happened.

Before she stepped out of the room, Blythe called over her shoulder. “I am, aren’t I? I’ll be back in the morning.”

“I probably deserved this,” Firedrake muttered as they pushed themself up onto their hands from their sticky spot on the floor – hands which were just starting to turn green again.

Nov 30, 2016

Writing update for 11/21-11/27 (and my favorite line)


This week a prompt for the NaNoWriMo photo challenge was "favorite line you wrote." I did a lot of editing, character development/background, and world building this month, so I didn't have as many new lines from the new rewritten stuff to choose from as I normally would. Of those words, this is probably my favorite, though!

I just realized I never did an update/goal post for last week, so I'll do that now. I'm gradually moving forward in my rewrite of book 1. I'm going to continue on with this for this week, assuming I don't decide to jump back over to the rewrite of book 2. I never know what book I'm going to be working on or if I'm going to do a random short story instead. That's okay! I've accepted that that's the way I write. At least I'm moving forward even if it wasn't with the original project. :)

~Meri

Nov 26, 2016

First Lines Challenge

Rules: list the first lines of your last 20 stories. See if there are any patterns.

I was tagged for this over on my tumblr writing blog and figured I'd share this here, too! I didn’t think I had 20 stories, but I do! The first 15 are stories about my current batch of characters. The last five were about the D&D world I was writing prior to my current series. Most of these (minus the books) are shared here on my writing blog, so I’ll link to those.

1. Colorweaver (Unexpected Inspiration book 1) 
“Blythe! There's something wrong with Solei!”
(The response to this line is “Is there ever anything right with Solei?” which makes it way funnier.)

2. Sentinel (Unexpected Inspiration book 2)
"No, I do not need a squeaking monkey-shaped toy. Or a hat with a feather in it. Or a... what is this?"
(I really like this scene from the previous draft where Sol is sneaking weird things into his brother's bags, so I'm likely going to see if I can keep it as the opening chapter in the next draft.)

3. Iconoclasm (Unexpected Inspiration book 3)
Blythe winced as her heavy boots echoed footsteps across the expansive hallway.
(Clearly I need to open book 3 on a silly line of dialogue, too.)

4. (As yet unnamed Halloween short story that I'll share soon)
Firedrake nudged the door of their wagon shut with their hip and placed the small brown sack on the table.

5. A Sparkler's Glow (short story/novellette)
Talan scrambled to lose his pursuer, his thin shoes flapping against the cobblestones as he raced alongside the busy street.

6. Roommates (short story)
"Were you hit on the head or something? Why would you want to move in with Sol of all people?"

7. Lost and Found (short story)
“I’m going to need you to put on some pants before you say anything else.”
(This one was actually a dialogue prompt, used to refer to Sol.)

8. Soul-Marks (AU short story)
Etri loved nightfall because in the dark he didn't need his magic to make himself invisible.

9. Mile Long Cow (short story)
Adair groaned a sound that was closer to a whimper, not that he would admit it, as a flash of light made its way to his eyes.
(This has such a boring opening line, but the story is incredibly silly.)

10. Rising to a Challenge (short story)
“Owning your own restaurant is a great opportunity,” her master said when the position was offered to her by a retiring chef.

11. A New Beginning (short story)
The young would-be-thief leaned further inside as he perched half in and half out of the open window.

12. Who Picked Whom (short story)
"I'll never really be sure who picked who because it wasn't supposed to happen."

13. Three Keys (short story) 
Blythe blinked up at the indiscernible ceiling of her bunk as her sleepy mind tried to figure out what could have awoken her in the middle of the night.

14. (Unnamed future/alternate reality story that I haven't finished)
Etri pulled the ring of keys out of his jacket pocket and exhaled a sigh of relief.

15. (Unnamed alternate reality story that I'm unlikely to finish. Why are these things always Etri's POV?)
Etri wondered if this had been the right choice.

16. In the Cards (my abandoned '12 NaNo)
She dreams of her divination cards, spread across the ground in a circle at her furry feet.
(LOL! I'd forgotten my one POV character was a halfling.)

17. The Acolyte's Map (novella) 
It is a much overlooked but well-established fact that in order to excel at world domination, overlording, or even to just be particularly irksome in a fantastical setting, you need to get your hands on a magical item- if you can create said item, this is even more effective.

18. Calling in a Favor (short story)
"Cyn, there's someone looking for you. I brought him to your office, but I think he might be crazy."

19. It's Not Easy Being Green (short story)
Cyneric sat in a soft, overstuffed old chair in the common room of the Messenger's Mosque in Woodland city, his attention fixed on the worn leather-bound book that rested on his knees.

20. Hidden Magic (novella)
The frantic pounding at the upstairs door startled the young wizard; he dropped the vial he'd been preparing and it shattered on the workroom's dirt floor.


I’m not too keen on some of these, but I love opening stories with a line of dialogue. It works so well for comedic fantasy, which is usually what I write. That’s a pattern, I guess. I also tend to make fun of Sol in most of my opening lines- 4 of them directly refer to Sol, and another few have him coming up in the next few lines that follow. Gotta love my comic relief.

~Meri

Nov 22, 2016

A plot twist!


One of the NaNo photo challenge themes this month was "a plot twist" - the twist I picked was that the enemy isn’t always who the characters think it is. This actually works for each book in my trilogy! This picture makes the series sound so serious, but I’m writing comedic fantasy. Definitely not all that serious, lol.

I'm really proud of how this turned out! The picture is one I took last year of lights on a lake and I added a filter to make it look like fire. Let’s just say fire is tied into this from both friend and enemy.

~Meri

Nov 21, 2016

Writing update for 11/14-11/20 (a drawing this time!)


This is sort of my “writing goal update” post for the week because this is really all that I’ve worked on over the past few days. Mostly it’s an idea I got from a post a tumblr friend made about about characters’ rooms. That post made me think because my characters don’t really have permanent homes for most of the trilogy. Adair and Firedrake have been living out of inns before the story starts- Adair as a cartographer and Dray as a solo traveling performer. Blythe, Etri, and Sol have wagons since they’re part of a carnival troupe, but even then they’re not always staying in them. In book 2 Adair and Etri stay at the Artisans’ guild while Blythe and the twins stay at the caravanserai (sort of an apartment complex for the carnies who live in the capital city) because the wagons are too big to take into cities. In book 3 they’re all sent to a different country via a magical doorway so they’re going to be staying wherever they can crash. So I decided to draw where they spend the most amount of time in book one: their wagons.

I decided on Blythe’s wagon (rather than Etri and Sol's) since that’s where Adair and Firedrake also stay in book 1, and those three are my POV characters. I call these things “wagons”, but they’re more like a cross between a motorhome and a cabin that floats about a foot off the ground. Blythe’s wagon is cozy and inviting. She’s kept most of the wood its natural color and tends to decorate in earth tones. Book 1 takes place in late winter, so there are only a few plants growing. Later in the year there’d be racks of flower pots near the windows and plants growing in window boxes outside, too. Blythe’s a healer who loves plants, so there are always herbs and flowers in her wagon regardless of the time of year. On the walls are some of her weapons, although there should be more than this. Blythe started out life as a Protectorate (the group that guards art and trade) and currently works as a blade performer with her carnival troupe. She does fiber arts as a hobby, so she’s the one who embroidered her curtain and she crocheted the rug that the cat’s sleeping on. (This isn’t tie dye, although it came out looking that way, lol.) The counter at the back is the sink and her kitchen/work space where she prepares her healing stuff. To the right is the stove. Her bed is behind the green curtain on the left. (The rectangles below this are steps recessed into the wood and drawers below these, cabinets next to this). Behind the door is a small bathroom the size of the nook where the stove is. The curtains and the chair cushions are made from the same olive green fabric. The hatch on the ceiling leads to storage space under the roof.

Most of this wagon is Blythe’s because it’s her home, but Adair and Firedrake have things here, too. Neither of them possess much since they travel all the time. (Adair’s a cartographer, Dray’s a solo performer.) Adair’s possessions all fit into that backpack and the trunk against the back wall. Otherwise he just has his blankets and pillow. His sketchbook and pencil are sitting on the bed because he always has these out! Firedrake lost most of their possessions in a fire, so Dray has even less than they normally would. The stuffed dragon was a gift from their mother when they were really young- Dray has always been obsessed with dragons. The things on the chair are Dray’s coat, a hairbrush, and their ribbon. (Each troupe has a specific ribbon that everyone who’s a member wears. Dray hasn’t lived with this troupe in a few years, but they’re still a member, so they still have this ribbon. It’s a minor plot point, along with the dragon.) The curtain hanging in front of the other bed has bells sewn to it and it’s the only thing Blythe kept of Firedrake’s after Dray moved out about two years before book 1. (Dray and Blythe are siblings-by-choice and lived together for a while. Blythe didn’t like the way they decorated, but never got around to changing this curtain.) The cat is technically Adair’s and her bowls are over to the right.

I’m super proud of this drawing because I don’t think I’ve ever drawn anything like this before! It’s pretty darn close to how I picture Blythe’s wagon to look. It took me days to finish this, but I think it was worth the time because now I can see where they live. :) I’m a little disappointed that coloring it in took away some of the detail, so I uploaded a picture of what it looked like before I colored it, too. I started drawing Etri and Sol’s wagon, but it wasn’t coming out right- I might finish that later. For now I’m done with drawing for a while.

This week I'm hoping to get back into working on books 1 or 2, whichever calls to me more.  Besides the drawing, I did a little writing for book 1 last week, but only about a scene and a half. I have a few days off this week (although that's including Thanksgiving and I'm not expecting to get much done that day) so maybe I'll be able to actually write. Fingers crossed!

~Meri

Nov 15, 2016

Writing update for 11/7-11/13

Word count is 16,404 for NaNoWriMo so far, but that’s a weird total. This month I ended up doing a bunch of projects and planning rather than new words in a particular book- but I only missed one day so far! (That was the 9th, which, let's face it, was a terrible day for a lot of people.) I’ve been keeping track of this weird progress in my writing planner. Trust me, I’m all over the place this month, lol.

Last week I finished editing my Halloween themed short story (I’m just waiting on my husband to have time to read it over before I share it here on my blog), worked on character stuff for my main character, and started writing some scenes from book one. My main character recently told me that he was trans, so I’ve been checking to make sure this fits in the scenes I’ve already written- it does, but I’m adding a few lines here and there and making a few new scenes to make this more clear. The fact that I have very little to edit/add makes me positive that Adair has been telling me this all along and I just didn’t notice what I was writing. I'm rather oblivious. It wouldn't be the first time one of my characters had to hit me over the head with a clue-by-four.

This week I’m hoping to write more scenes, be it in book one, two, or a new short story. Words are words! Since book 2 is technically my NaNo, I’d prefer the words there, but I’m fine with words in other place, too, I mean, I have to rewrite book 1 anyway and I’m always up for silly short stories about my characters to keep myself motivated!

~Meri

Nov 7, 2016

Writing update for 10/31-11/6


Since my Facebook writing group (that any writer is welcome to join!) is still doing our regular weekly goals thing during NaNo, here’s mine! Last week I finished the first draft of my Halloween short story (that’s the doc on the left), started working on my NaNo (the 3rd draft of book 2- that’s in the middle), and wrote up a really long file trying to sort out what my plot for book 2 needs to be (doc on the right).

This week I’m going to keep trying to figure out my plot (I’m SO CLOSE), get back to writing book 2, and maybe start editing the short story. I decided yesterday that I’m not going to worry about word count for NaNo and just keep doing my October thing where I was doing something writing-related for an hour or two a day for most of the week. It worked out well then so I’m hoping it’ll work well this month, too. I’m a NaNo rebel anyway since I’m rewriting something that isn’t new. ;) I figure after two previous drafts of this book (and close to 200k words total for just this book), I don't need to spew lots of words at the page for NaNo- what I need is to figure out what exactly this book needs to be and make sure that comes together. Word count is secondary to having something coherent.

~Meri

Nov 2, 2016

Short story: "Strays" (Fanfiction written by Ruthie!)

(I'm so excited about this! My husband has written me two silly fanfics of my Unexpected Inspiration series and now Ruthie [my muse/writing partner in crime] gifted me with one, too! I guess this means I'm putting a category on my blog so people can read all of them: that's here. This is so adorable and I love it so much! She set it a little bit ahead in the timeline from where I'm currently writing and she definitely knows these characters well. You can find her original post with the story here.)

STRAYS

Adair burst through the front door with a big grin on his face and a wriggling bundle in his arms, “Guys! I found a puppy! Just wait till you get a look at his cute face. I was walking down Sunrise Lane and saw him stealing a pie and… well I couldn’t just leave the poor thing there, he was obviously meant for us.”

Etri and Blythe both stifled groans. They both loved that Adair was so caring, but neither of them was quite sure why the three of them getting their first house together had lead to Adair suddenly bringing home every stray he came across.

Their very first morning he came in from doing who knows what outside, holding a duck that looked like it had recently wrestled with a raccoon. Blythe had nursed the duck back to health and they had tried to set it free but, to Adair’s delight, it had stubbornly refused to leave. It also seemed to think that Blythe was its Mama. She acted grumpy about it but no one really believed her.

Next had been a whole bag of kittens that Adair had seen some heartless bastard toss in the river. There were nine of them and they’d managed to find homes for most of them, but they had ended up keeping three of them. The runt, a pure white girl that had already developed a penchant for getting into Adairs paint, and two little grey boys that were constantly wrestling and knocking things over.

After that Adair had brought home an orphan boy he had found begging. That had almost caused a big fight, kittens and ducks were one thing, a human child was another. Besides, children were very precious to the Artists, surely there was a family who would take him that was more ready to have children, as it was the three of them didn’t even have all their stuff unpacked! However, the sight of his face lighting up when the kittens started climbing all over him was enough to melt anyone’s heart, and it had been decided that he could stay.

Knowing that he probably wasn’t going to be able to talk Adair out of this stray either Etri said, “Alright, let us have a look then.”

Adair struggled for a minute to get a better hold on the wriggling bundle and then held him up in triumph. “Look at that face and tell me you aren’t in love.”

Blythe grunted a bit skeptically at this but Etri was still with shock. He didn’t know where Adair had found it, but the black fur, red eyes, and the slight smokey aura around the puppy that Etri was pretty sure no one else could see, all added up to one thing. It wasn’t just a puppy, it was a hellhound puppy.

Awed, Etri just reached out his arms for the bundle of fur and then pulled the suddenly quiet puppy close. Looking into its eyes he said, “This one is mine. His name is Smokey.”

As if it understood his words the puppy got excited and started licking Etri’s face.

Blythe just shook her head and left the room muttering about living in a zoo.
Adair ignored her cheerfully, and Etri? Etri had only eyes for the hellhound puppy.

He settled down on the floor with the puppy in his lap and started looking it over to make sure it was healthy. While he did, Etri’s mind was racing, trying to remember everything he’d ever learned about hellhounds. It wasn’t much because most people had no clue that hellhounds were anything more than a myth.

Etri was a bit worried about what the others would think when he informed them it was a hellhound, and a bit surprised that neither of them had commented immediately on the bright red eyes. Still, Adair was bringing home strays with relative frequency, the likelihood of him and Blythe wanting to kick out the hellhound puppy was pretty low right? Eventually Etri decided he’d wait to say anything until the other two commented on the eyes, or speculated on what type of dog it was.

After all, it would be at least a year before they had to worry about the puppy randomly setting things on fire.

Oct 31, 2016

Writing update for 10/24-10/30


Writing goal update! Last week I finished my sticky note chapter outline for NaNo (top picture). This is going to be the third draft of book 2 in my lgbt+ comedic fantasy series and I'm hoping this draft plays out better than the previous two! I also wrote a good chunk of the Halloween-themed short story (that’s the computer screen) which is sort of part of the series since it’s the same characters. I’m sitting just under 4k words and I’m thinking it’ll probably be close to 6k when it’s done. A little longer than I’d planned, but it’s funny and I love it. :) I'll share it here once I get it finished and edited, although this will likely be later this week. I'd planned for Halloween, but at least that week is close?

The green paper shows this week’s goal: Start NaNo! My goal is going to be 50k, so that gives me a target daily word count. I’m also planning on finishing this short story.

(The idea for keeping track of writing goals is something my Facebook writing group does. If you’re a writer, you’re welcome to join us!)

-Meri

Oct 24, 2016

Writing update for 10/17-10/23


My Facebook writing group (which any writer is welcome to join!) does a thing for weekly goals- in this picture I combined last week’s with this week.

The top picture is part of my success from last week: character sheets for three of my antagonists and one secondary good character. The good characters get smiley faces in the top corner and bad ones get paw prints, although I’m not sure how easy this is to see here. I still have a few things to fill out on the pink sheet, but I’m not going to know those things until I write these characters more. Last week I also started a short story and finished my outline for book two (my NaNo project), so I had all sorts of writing success!

The bottom picture is this week’s goal sheet and my projects list- I finally added a smiley because I finished something else on the list! My goal for this week is to write 1 hour day/4 days a week. I’m upping it from three because the past few weeks I’ve been hitting at least 4 days of working on writing. My plan is to work more on that Halloween-themed short story (and possibly finish it? I’d like it done before Halloween anyway) and to turn my outline into an organized series of post it notes in my planner. I may also work on culture sheets that are similar to these character ones in the top picture, so we’ll see!

-Meri

Oct 23, 2016

I got my second fanfic- that makes me a real author, right?


My freaking husband, I swear. He was clicking away at his typewriter and told me “you have to see this!” He wrote another ridiculous fanfiction about the characters in my series. I feel like I should frame this, but I did put it inside my writing planner to look at if I ever need a laugh. He didn’t seem bothered that the world doesn’t have privies or Tuesdays and stated it wasn’t canon. He's such a dork and I love him! (The first one he wrote me is here.)

~Meri

Oct 17, 2016

Writing update for 10/10-10/16


My weekly writing success wasn’t nearly as photographic this time as it usually is! Usually I use my pretty notebooks, but this was all on the computer. My goal was to do writing stuff 1 hour/3 days and I think I hit 5 days. Hooray! This week ended up being a blurb for my NaNo project that took forever since I didn’t like any of the original versions (that’s on the right), continuing to outline this book (back window), and outlining a Halloween themed short story (left). Pretty good when I was fighting an awful ear infection all week!

I'm hoping this week to start writing that Halloween short story so I have it done by Halloween and before NaNo starts. I'm also hoping to finish my outline of my NaNo project- specifically I want to focus on the ending because I'm not really sure how it ends yet. My biggest problem with NaNo or writing in general is having most of a story but no end planned out in advance. I abandoned my first NaNo project for that reason, it’s why the book I’m doing this month has had two rewrites but never reached an ending, and it’s why I have three short stories started and not finished. Sigh. I hear a lot of writers say middles are the hardest, but I can middle. I can’t end. *beats head against wall*

(This weekly writing goal thing is something my Facebook writing group does. If any writer would like to join us, you’re welcome to!)

~Meri

Oct 12, 2016

Writing update for 10/3-10/9



I just realized several days late that I forgot to share my writing success from last week! My Facebook writing group (which any writer is welcome to join!) does a thing where every week we set our own goals. Last week mine was to work on writing for an hour a day, three days. I've been sick so I did less than I'd hoped, but I still managed to hit the goal with ideas/outlines for both a short story and my NaNoWriMo. The short story is based on a Halloween prompt that really intrigues me, so I'm hoping I can start it this week. My NaNo project this year is likely to be draft 3 of book 2 in my series, so I'm going to continue that by working more on my outline this week.

And! After three years I also reached the end of my old notebook for series notes (on the top left) and started a new one (middle). This makes me feel oddly productive because I've made so much progress with this series just in that notebook. Finishing it shows that I am moving forward. :) The tree notebook on the top right is my short story notebook. I love pretty notebooks!

~Meri

Oct 2, 2016

Writing update for 9/26-10/2


So my Facebook writing group is doing a thing where we set weekly writing goals. I reached mine! Mine was pretty simple: work on writing stuff for an hour a day, three days this week- but it’s more than I’ve done I’ve weeks! I finished the character sheets (front and back) for my five main characters. The cat supervised and as you can tell from the wet spot on the red paper, she also tasted, lol.

My goal for next week might be the same- time rather than a concrete goal. There are a few different things I want to work on, like an outline of book two, the character sheets for my antagonists, and possibly getting back to the rewrite of book one. We'll see!

~Meri

Sep 29, 2016

My writing planner

I've never been a very organized writer. I have hundreds of text documents on my computer of ideas, outlines, half written scenes, world building, and drafts. Then I have several notebooks, all for different things. It was getting to the point where I was losing track of what was where, so I decided that I needed to get organized. I'm a very visual person, so the best way to do this was with paper. This post is about my writing planner, which is my main way of keeping track of my writing and life. I have another binder that's larger and more comprehensive, but I haven't had a chance yet to transfer most of that information over from my jumble of computer docs.

I know this is a long post, but I’m hoping this is helpful- please stick around to look at the pictures! I got some of the ideas from my planner-loving friends on Facebook, some ideas from a writing planner one of my tumblr friends uses, and some things are just things that I realized I needed.


For this planner I'm using an A5 size Color Crush planner/binder, so it's a little smaller than a regular size binder. This makes it a little easier to carry around, although with all this stuff in it, it's pretty heavy.  This is the cover. This was actually an accident- I ordered grey and got teal, but that’s okay because teal is a color I associate with my main character. I used glue dots to attach charms. My main character is a cartographer, so a bunch of these are compasses. The others represent my other 4 main characters: a sun for Sol, a moon for Etri, a sword for Blythe, and fire for Firedrake. Attached to the planner’s strap is a lizard charm. That one is also for Firedrake. ;)



Inside I’m keeping with the teal/blue/purple theme and have a cute fox dashboard I got from shopwithpinkpeony on Etsy. (I’ve always loved foxes!) I also have some page dividers, paperclips, and stickers tucked into the front pockets along with a NaNo sticker. I added the peace sign ribbon because it matched the colors. I didn’t get a picture of my dividers other than just sticking out between the pages, but they’re matching colors, too! The dividers and the bookmarks that are currently sitting in the front flap came from ChelseyJeanneDesigns on Etsy (that's also where I got the pencil case later in this post).



Okay, onto the important stuff. The sections! The first section is my writing lists, which I took out of the binder for this picture because otherwise you'd just be seeing the blank back of one. Here I have a list of project ideas that I would like to work on with smiley stickers showing the ones I've finished. I have a weekly to do list (that’s the green page) and a monthly to do list (white page). The monthly one involves crafting and flow arts as well as writing. (Since my characters are carnival performers, my flow arts love is relevant!) The white "to do" pages came from ChelseyJeanneDesigns on Etsy. The other "to do" type pages were pdfs I got from HeatherGreenwoodShop that I printed on rainbow paper from HappyCardFactory. As you can see, Etsy is a great source for this kind of thing!



The next section is my “remember” notes. These are to do lists specific to my stories. The orange page is characteristics and things I need to remember about my characters for the entire series. The green is specific things I have to fix or look up or remember for book 1 specifically. In hindsight, I should have taken the orange one out so you could see the front filled in.



Next up are my character sheets. Oh my gosh, these are so useful! The most important info about my characters is right at my fingertips: appearance, mannerisms/habits, personality, background, magic, occupation, and secrets.





The same goes for the next section: culture sheets. I have more detailed ones elsewhere, but it’ll be cool to have these handy, too! I made these and the character ones up in LibreOffice since I couldn’t find any pdfs like what I was looking for on Etsy, then I printed them out A5 size to fit in my planner. The fill in the blanks for my culture sheets are things like location, physical description of culture/group, fashion, history, hierarchy, customs, taboos, beliefs, economy, occupations, fun, and magic. I still haven't gotten around to filling these in yet, but I know they'll be as helpful as the character ones!



Next section: Outlines. This is where I have my signature sticky note outline for the book/s I’m currently working on. I love using sticky notes for this because I can easily remove them or move them around when my story changes a little! I laminated these pages so that they’re a little stronger for the sticky notes. Each sticky note is a chapter. This is somewhere around the middle of book 1.



Next section: my calendar. I’m using a custom calendar for my culture (I blogged a bit about that here- basically the calendar is one I made using this site) that involves 6 days in a week and 9 months in a year, so I couldn’t just use a real calendar. It’s mostly empty now except for character birthdays and notes telling me what dates correspond with real word dates so I can get an idea of season (the year is weird, but there are still 365 days). Eventually I’ll be putting the events that happen in the books onto this calendar so I can keep track of my timeline.



Next section: inspiring quotes! Most are just in printed list form that I copied and printed from LibreOffice, but this one is pretty so I took a picture of it instead, lol. These were pretty font quotes that had fed through my tumblr dash at one point or another.



Here's an important section for NaNo and just general tracking: word counts! The first picture is for NaNo this year, the second picture is the sheet I'm going to be filling in for non-NaNo months. Since it's fall/winter, I decided to use a lot of leaf stickers. Also pandas. At least the cat has a scarf?






Then I have a section for “good things” that I don’t update nearly often enough. I can find myself getting so bogged down in negative things, so I’m trying to use these pages to mark down the good or positive things that I did/saw that day. I’m trying to color code them by week, but I don't always remember to do this every week lol. Oh, the divider here is weird looking because I didn't like the original colors on it (it came with my planner) so I tried painting it. It sorta worked.



After this is the traditional planner part of my planner. I have my regular calendar for keeping track of appointments and stuff, as well as my weekly schedule and things I have to do. Sometimes these are writing-related, most of the time it’s just stuff. After each day I put down a cute sticker because stickers make me feel productive. I also use a different color pen each week. This planner part is really the only thing I kept that came with the planner/binder; the rest of the inserts just weren't my style, which is why I bought pretty much everything from Etsy.



And last up are my planner supplies. I have some tapes, white out, and pens in a cute pencil case. Behind this are my small sticky notes. I also have a tiny kitty charm in the back cover because I love cats and because my characters have a pet cat.



And that’s all for now. I know this was a super long, but I hope it gave some ideas! It’s nice having this all in one place even though I haven’t had time yet to fill everything in. It's already been super useful! :)

~Meri

Sep 15, 2016

Casting my next set of characters!






Casting my next set of characters! Okay, so I’m writing an lgbt+ comedic fantasy series and I’ve been working on the first trilogy for the past few years. I’m nowhere near done that, but I’ve been jotting down ideas for the next trilogy in the series. Since I’m taking a bit of time off from my novel writing to write short stories (hopefully!), I had an idea for a short one about two of my future characters. But I realized I had no idea what those characters look like!

So yesterday I started going through Pinterest and adding casting pictures to my writing inspiration board. I'm pretty happy what I've come up with, although these might change once I start writing those books. This is sort of the next generation since two of them are kids of my current batch of characters.

These characters actually exist in three places in the timeline. It's complicated, but the idea has intrigued me so much! Gilly, Chantrell, and Ametrine are in the present (a few years after the first trilogy takes place). Astra and Char are about 15 years in the future from that. Grandeau and his ghost friend are caught on the plane of shadow that exists outside of time, but Grandeau originally started in the present.

The pictures above are:
1.) Gilly: she fills the "main character" slot that Adair holds in the first trilogy and is part of a trio, as well. She can’t speak, so she communicates via sign language and a small chalkboard. She’s a carnival performer as her profession, working mostly with sleight-of-hand tricks. Her more secret occupation is that she's one of the thieves that return stolen art. Her magic is that of a medium who can control/communicate with ghosts.

2.) Chantrell: the Artisan of the trio who becomes a musician with the carnival troupe. Chell's magic involves sound. Gilly rescues her in their first book and brings her back to the troupe. They fall in love and it's freaking adorable.

3.) Ametrine: Gilly's long-time roommate and best friend. Exasperated roommate because Gilly keeps bringing home haunted objects and leaving them in their apartment. Ametrine is gender fluid and aro/ace, ending up in a queerplatonic relationship with Gilly and Chell later. Ametrine's a dancer with the troupe, specializing in hula hoops. (I needed a hooper in my series somewhere!) Ametrine is my only completely mundane character so far and has no magic whatsoever.

4.) Grandeau: Gilly's brother, although neither of them know this. Grandeau was raised by their mother, Gilly was with their father but adopted after he died. (Their parents separated to keep the kids safe... it sorta worked.) He makes decisions based on arbitrary answers- I'm thinking he uses playing or tarot cards. This bad decision is what got him stuck on the plane of shadow in the first place. He's a goofball- basically the kind of person who would make decisions based on the equivalent of a coin toss, lol.

5.) ? is Grandeau's best friend, if just for the fact that he's a ghost on the shadow plane where Grandeau is stuck. He has no memory of who he was before he died and can't remember his name. Gradually I think he starts to piece this together.

6.) Astra: the daughter of Adair, Blythe, and Etri. She's a member of a different carnival troupe (haven’t come up with an act for her yet) and her part of the story exists in the future. Her magic is... weird. She has Etri's shadow magic, but she also managed to end up with light magic, too. (Because Etri's twin has light magic, it runs in the family.) Part of her plot is deciding between the two types and using it to help free Grandeau.

7.) Char: daughter of Firedrake and Sol, she’s Astra's cousin and closest friend. She's a fire performer with the troupe since she inherited the fire/light magic from both of her parents. She's also part Salamander (my shapeshifting lizard people), but I don't know if she's enough of one to be able to shift. It's possible she can only change her appearance slightly.

I really need to finish the current trilogy so I can move onto the next one! These characters and their stories intrigue me so much! (You can find my post where I cast the characters of my first trilogy here.)

~Meri

Aug 25, 2016

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.)

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