The "Unexpected Inspiration" Characters

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.