Sep 8, 2017

Welcome to Musings of a Messenger!

Here you'll find the stories and writing-related ramblings of Meri Greenleaf. If you'd like to learn more about the novels I'm writing or read about my musings as a writer, those pages and blog posts are available in the menu above.

For easy access, here are the short stories and novellas I've shared to this blog; the title links will take you to the full story.

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

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

Writing Status
My main project right now is the 2nd draft of Colorweaver (book 1 in the Unexpected Inspiration series), but every few weeks I'll continue to write a new short story based in that world/series. If you'd like to follow me on Wattpad, I'm sharing most of the Unexpected Inspiration stories already shared here to that site once a week (Sundays). Once I have all of these shared over on Wattpad, I'll post any new stories there and here simultaneously.

I'm also currently in the process of editing/touching up Hidden Magic so that I can share it on Wattpad, too; I'm aiming to breathe new life into the story every Wednesday when I update the story a chapter at a time there and here. (So far I've adjusted up through Chapter 4.)

~Meri

Sorting my MCs

Here’s the info: First put down what Hogwarts house you’re in, and then sort each of your MCs into a house and explain why you think they belong in that house. It’ll be interesting to see how many of your MCs are in the same house as you.


I was tagged over on Tumblr to do this game and I think this is the coolest writing tag game that I've ever done! I’ve actually been thinking about this for a bit, trying to figure out where my characters would go. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be!

Me: Hufflepuff

Adair: Hufflepuff. This was the character I had absolutely no trouble sorting. He’s so incredibly loyal to his friends- his friends quickly become his family and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them. He’s nurturing and loves taking care of them (especially if it involves cooking for them!) and he has a bad habit of adopting any stray animal that he sees. He’s the character who most “plays fair” I guess you’d call it- the one least inclined to break rules or cause trouble, but also the one most likely to go along with what the others want. He hates having to make decisions and tends to be more than a little wishy-washy. He hates rocking the boat and is the perpetual peace-keeper. He doesn’t care if someone insults him or does something to hurt him, but his claws come out if someone dares do this to someone he loves. And he’s just so practical which is a weird, weird thing considering that he’s an Artisan and artists in his culture are prone to being melodramatic and eccentric.

Etri: Ravenclaw. He’s the character I waffled over second least. I thought briefly of putting him into Gryffindor because he has something of a habit of self-sacrifice, but he’s just too Ravenclaw. He’s all about knowledge and learning and books and history. He’s the logical one who comes up with the best plans because he’s the one who puts the most thought into what the group should be doing. He’s incredibly open-minded and this takes Adair by surprise more than once because it’s not something you’d expect from someone with Etri’s stoic personality and indoctrinated childhood. He loves learning anything about pretty much everything, but it’s weird subjects that he reads most. His favorites are astronomy and mythology, which also takes everyone by surprise because he’s so grounded and logical.

Sol: Ravenclaw. I waffled for a little longer here because he’s pretty dang Hufflepuff with his constant cheer and a desire to see everyone around him as happy as he is. If anything he’s even more family-centric than Adair. But he’s just so… well, I call him my eccentric inventor and that’s why he’s better in Ravenclaw. He’s not books smart like his brother- I think Sol has dyslexia so bad that he can’t read- but he’s come up with an entire writing system for himself involving pictures and dots to use in his notes that he uses for his inventions. And he’s always creating things. Sometimes practical, sometimes bizarre. His mind is always going a mile a minute and it’s difficult for the other characters to keep up, so it ends up sounding like Sol’s talking nonsense. On the surface he looks silly and dumb, without a thought in his head, but he’s always thinking at a speed that rivals even Etri.


And here’s where things start to get weird and not what you’d expect. Blythe and Firedrake are the two that I spent forever thinking about because my first instinct was absolutely wrong for both of them.

Blythe: she’s the team mom, the one with her own head on her shoulders who makes sure that the others don’t end up neck-deep in trouble. She’s the one who runs into danger to rescue those who needs it- anyone who needs it, regardless of if she knows them or not. While Adair tends to adopt animals, she tends to adopt people and kind of assigns herself the role of their protector even if they don’t need it. She’s a healer, for pete’s sake. My gut instinct was Gryffindor. Nope. Slytherin.

While she’s willing to help out anyone who needs it, her default state of being is her own goals and career and she’ll sacrifice and work her butt off to reach those goals. She has a tendency to be judgmental with a better-than-you attitude (or more like a “you’re about to do something incredibly stupid and I’m smarter than that” attitude). She doesn’t think things through, she just goes with her gut even if it ends up being absolutely the wrong course of action. Gods does she need Adair’s heart and Etri’s brains to balance out her need to be right in the middle of the action- or to just plain balance out her need to be right. She’s constantly taking risks even when she’d simultaneously be complaining about someone else taking the same risks. I’d say she’s a leader, but I don’t think she’s actually any good at leading. What she tends to do is decide her own course and assume the others will follow her. These things make her sound like a horrible person and I guess that’s inevitable for someone in Slytherin. :-/

Firedrake: I think I may have spent even longer trying to sort Dray! I mean, they’re egotistical and cynical and tends to think of themself first (or at least second). They love being the center of attention- infamy is fine because it means at least people see them. Dray’s a prankster with mind-control magic who sees nothing wrong with inconveniencing or embarrassing someone they feel deserves it. Dray’s had the hardest life of the five and this definitely shows. My gut said Slytherin. Nope. Gryffindor.

Almost all of Dray’s showboating, their ego, their sarcasm, their “me first” attitude… it’s all an act. A lie they tell themself so they don’t get hurt, to keep people away. But it doesn’t work. People get into Dray’s heart and these people absolutely become the center of Dray’s world. Most of the bad things Dray does are a misguided attempt to protect the ones they love. They try to do what they think is right and it just ends up backfiring because Dray tends to not think things through past the first fiery burst of inspiration of an idea. Dray will absolutely do something reckless and dangerous to protect someone they care about. They’ll even do this for someone they don’t know well- they’ll question this decision later and maybe even while they’re helping, but they’ll help anyway. Dray will always fight back against things that are wrong or people who are cruel, even if this isn’t currently being directed at them. Dray’s been on the receiving end of this too often to be willing to let others experience it, too. Despite the pranks and the mind-control magic, Dray will never voluntarily hurt anyone. I can’t say the same for Blythe even with her whole “do no harm but take no shit” mindset.

—————————

This is long and super rambly, but such a fun thing to do! It really did give me new insight about characters I know incredibly well. I don’t think Blythe or Firedrake are happy where they ended up and both assumed they’d be reversed lol. I’m absolutely not surprised that Adair’s in the same house as me, though. I mean, we’re both pretty much the epitome of Hufflepuff.


~Meri


Aug 24, 2017

A mess of writing ideas = solution for a story


If you ever wanted to know what goes through a writer's head when a story idea comes together, it's this mess. This collage is a combination of world building blog post (top left), a short story I started last year but dropped because I didn't know what to do with it (same picture), the constellations in my world's sky, a random plot bunny in my note app that had no story attached to it (bottom left), and a writing game question by my writing-partner-in-crime (top right) that gave me the "ah ha!" moment of realization this morning. I grabbed my notebook and jotted down plot points for that realization-turned-story (bottom right), combining all these ideas together.

This is how my brain tends to work. I'll put a story aside for a bit, then whatever had me stuck becomes clear later because I was working on world building or random ideas in the meantime.

In this case the ideas combined as:
-A holiday in the culture that's based around visiting family
-The first page and a half of a story where my characters hate said holiday because they don't have family, so they decide that they want to have a vacation instead
-The constellations in my fantasy world, a character obsessed with astronomy, and another character who's a cartographer
-A plot bunny involving a happy Firedrake and silliness
-A question game about what my characters would do if they were trapped on a deserted island

After almost a year, I just might be able to finish that partially-written short story! Now if only I could figure out the solution to the other four or five short stories I have started/planned...

~Meri

Aug 16, 2017

Another story on Wattpad!


Well, I’m not entirely sure about this cover. How DO you get the point across about lighthearted fantasy using stock images? It definitely has the feel of the main character in this story, though, so I’ll stick with it. All this rambling means that I’m sharing one of my older stories over on Wattpad! You can find my Wattpad here and this particular story here.

Here’s the summary of Hidden Magic:
A young elf takes up the task of hunting down a band of orc trespassers with the help of her centaur brother. When she stumbles into a pitfall, Meren finds an object: an amulet that gives strange new powers. Little does she know that an increasingly desperate young wizard is looking for the very same amulet and that their paths are destined to crisscross in a weave of chaotic magic… 

This takes place in a different world than my usual writing because I wrote this long before those characters/world existed (this is from ‘11) and it’s more traditional fantasy than the style I write now. It’s still got comedy and cute romantic stuff, though! This is a longer story, a novella probably since it’s about 22k words. I’ll be sharing each chapter as I do some editing to it. I'm planning to share those on Wattpad (and update those chapters on this blog, as well) on Wednesdays.

~Meri

Aug 15, 2017

You can now find my stories on Wattpad!


Exciting news! I'm going to be sharing my short stories over on Wattpad! I'll still post them here as I write them, but this gives another medium for reading them. If you're on Wattpad, feel free to add me so I can follow you back. I'm MeriGreenleaf there, just as I am everywhere else.

To celebrate, I made a shiny new cover for my short stories. I'm going to be gradually putting most of my previously written ones in the Unexpected Inspiration series into one anthology "book" on Wattpad. My longer short stories will get their own book. As I write new ones, this is how I'll be adding those, too: short into the anthology, long into a stand-alone book.

So if you're interested in lgbt+ comedic/lighthearted fantasy short stories about artists and carnival performers, I've got you covered!

~Meri

Aug 13, 2017

Colorweaver (book 1) songs

I was tagged over on my Tumblr blog for a music-themed writing game. The rules are: Now, not all of us listen to music while writing, but sometimes there’s just this tune that matches something in our story—whether that’s a character, a chapter, or the whole WIP (a theme song, even). Maybe it’s multiple songs! Share one or more songs that “go” with your story. It just has to be cool.

I love sharing songs! I have a playlist going on Spotify where I put the songs that inspire me to write. I can't listen to music while actively writing because I need total silence to be able to concentrate, but listening to a playlist puts me in the mood to write. Since I’ve been working on just book 1 (Colorweaver) lately, I’ll share a few songs that make me think about the main characters and their relationships, both platonic and romantic, as of that book.

One of Us” - New Politics 
Everybody needs a place to call their home
Everybody’s skin is different, not their bones
Even when you’re lonely, know you’re not alone
You’re one of us, one of us, one of us
One of us 
The Lucky Ones” - Brendan James 
On the edge of a moment,
 In the land that we love,
 In the time that our best has to be good enough,
 Like all those before us, we start out alone,
 We race from our schoolyards, into the unknown
 City lights, as far as the eye can see,
 You and I, we will live differently 
These two songs really put me in the mood for writing about my characters in general. One of the themes of this trilogy is found family and learning that home is the people you’re with, not a physical place. Another theme is growing up: the characters are all adults, but they’re still young and they’re finding their place in the world. These two songs hit both of those themes really well and both are so optimistic/positive! (And as a bonus, the singer in the second song is how I picture my main character Adair’s voice.)



Never Been in Love” - Cobra Starship 
That stupid party talked outside
Walked to your place stayed up ‘til 5
You’d never think a random night could change your life
I know now I’ve never been in love before
I know now I’ve never been in love before you
We all need a light in the dark
Come and spend the night in my heart
Now the romantic songs. This song makes me laugh because it’s so perfect if you look at it from a non-sexual perspective. (I'm an asexual writer writing a triad where one of them is asexual. Yeah, not in the slightest bit my thing to write suggestive stuff.) The trio meeting was entirely an accident. Adair ended up at their carnival then he, Etri, and Blythe spent the night talking. After that they’re pretty much attached to each other and it’s a disaster when they have to be apart- all because of a random meeting.


 “Don’t Let Go” - Swiss American Federation feat. Jimmy Wong 
Catch our breath, slow it down and look within
As darkness falls away from us to block the sun from edging in
Spill our secrets from within
Is now the time, will you be mine
Don’t let go, this is for the rest of my life
So believe we don’t need to rush
We’ll be free
This song is just so pretty! I feel like it just resonates so well with the trio’s relationship at the end of book 1, moving into book 2. And yeah, most of the trio songs on my playlist have a dark/night/star theme because of Etri, the goth with shadow magic.


Unsteady” - Enter the Haggis (Jubilee Riots) 
The first time I saw you I was broken and bruised
You were holding up the bar and I had nothing to lose
It’s all a little hazy now, tell me
When did we get so damn proud?
Made a few mistakes, but I made them with you
And every time we said that we were gonna pull through
Something feels different now and it’s not me 

Not a trio song, I swear! This is my Firedrake/Talan song. Talan’s the “antagonist” in book 1 and this song is just so very much this pair’s relationship, from how they met to where they are now. This relationship starts to fall apart throughout book 1 and boy have there been mistakes lol.


I'm going to pass this on to anyone who sees this and wants to come up with a short playlist for whatever they're working on right now. This is a lot of fun! Do you writers pick songs that remind you of your characters or stories?

~Meri

Aug 3, 2017

Current projects

This was a tag game going around on Tumblr with the instruction "list all the things you’re currently working on in as much or little detail as you’d like."

Warning: dorks ahead. Most of what I’ve been working on are books (and ideas for books) in my lgbt+ comedic fantasy series Unexpected Inspiration, so this is going to get a bit long. I didn't include the possible-future books that are even more vague ideas, so that's a help, right? (Why do I have so many dorks, I'm overrun with them, why do they all want stories??)

Colorweaver (Book 1, current trilogy)
Status: rewriting 2nd draft
Blurb: Adair Cerulean is an amateur cartographer with the ability to make his drawings have the semblance of life. Like the other creators who possess magic and channel this through art, Adair is a Weaver. Adair is in the process of working on the project that, once complete, would advance him in rank when disaster strikes! The map is stolen and’ as its new owner seeks out more Weavers, Adair feels a tug from his creation to follow. This pull leads him to a carnival where he meets a healer standing guard over a stricken performer. It turns out that his thief is more than a mere robber and there’s more at stake then just a stolen map. Wacky antics ensue as Adair attempts to get his art back and stop the thief before he hurts anyone else.

(OneTwo sentence summary: A young artist with magic bumbles his way into a carnival, befriends a few carnies who are as dorky as he is, and the group bumbles their way to a sort-of-victory while wondering where all these antagonists came from. Lots of dorks, lots of bumbling, not nearly enough pies.)

Sentinel (Book 2) 
Status: brainstorming 3rd draft (aka why won’t this story find the right plot??)
Blurb: Adair has recovered his stolen map and acquired a loyal bodyguard who will - with luck and a lack of imps - protect him in the future. Adair’s elation is short-lived when the other artists refuse to accept his choice of sentinel. Conflict with his peers and a realization of magic gone awry lead Adair to restore a fractured friendship. Caught between past and present, Adair must decide how far he’s willing to bend the rules of his class. No one ever actually decreed that carnival performers couldn’t be sentinels, did they?

(One sentence summary: “One True Threesome” trope crosses “Mindlink Mates” trope, partially distracting the dorks who are trying to investigate why magic is glitching across the city and why one of their friends suddenly grew a tail.)

Iconoclasm (Book 3)
Status: brainstorming 1st draft
Blurb: When Adair and his companions find themselves summoned by the Artisans’ guild, they are given a specific assignment. They are to travel north to Montglace, the former home of the twins, under cover of their fledgling carnival troupe. Their true task is to investigate the source of the frequent earthquakes and a possible corruption of magic. There’s only one problem: Etri and Sol are fugitives. Can this group of inexperienced carnies-turned-envoys find the source of the elemental corruption before their presence is detected?

(OneTwo sentence summary: The dorks, who have no idea what they’re going to face, are sent by people who have even less idea to spy on a situation that really should be Someone Else’s Problem. Unsurprisingly, “spying” becomes “neck deep in trouble and also elementals help where did all these come from and how do we make them go away???”)

Then I have two more books that are even less planned out that take place later in the series and are about different characters.

Shadowweaver (tentative title - book 1 in this duology? Trilogy?)
Status: brainstorming ideas
Blurb: Gilly is a girl who cannot speak except to ghosts. She has the ability to make things vanish- or appear out of thin air- and works as a carnival performer and thief. While she’s hunting down art that was illegally gained by a dishonest art dealer, the dealer’s teenage sister catches her in the act. Gilly gets away, but is intrigued by this girl whose weak voice is oddly captivating. She soon learns that while Chantrell is confined in her own home, she isn’t as sick as she appears. Gilly is determined to find out the truth and set her new friend free.

(One sentence summary: Teenage girl falls madly in love and decides that she needs to create an heroic rescue with the help of her long-suffering roommate.)

Sciamachy (book 2 in this trilogy or whatever it is)
Status: brainstorming ideas
Blurb: Chantrell has become Gilly’s thieving partner; with her magical ability to produce any sound, Chell is the perfect distraction for Gilly’s silent heists. It’s during one of these encounters that Gilly notices a shadow that shouldn’t be there. Meanwhile Astra, a few miles away and sixteen years in the future, notices the same thing. Someone or something is trying to reach out to both her and Gilly using the shadow magic that the two young women share. Astra, however, has been secretly using light magic without the knowledge of her father/teacher- could this be what the mystery shadow senses?

(One sentence summary: Somehow the author figures out how to make 3 POV characters work when one lives in the present, one in the future, and one in another world that connects to both timelines.)


This was fun to do, so if you catch this post and have a writing blog of your own, I encourage you to do this for your own writing. :)

~Meri

Aug 2, 2017

I think I'll call this my "love yourself" story binder


I decided that if I ever feel bummed out that I’ve been writing this series of books for four years and the first one is still nowhere near being ready to publish, I need to look at this binder I put together this week. It’s bright and colorful, just like how I picture this series. (I mean the main character sees magic as color and the first book is called Colorweaver. Definitely a theme!) But more importantly, it holds a ton of writing! Look! 



Not just any writing, but finished writing that I really love! (And trust me, "love" can be a complicated thing as a writer. There's a lot of stuff I've written that I don't love, to put it mildly.) These are all my short stories about the world of my books, most of which I've shared to this blog. But having it there in my hands where I can flip through the pages and see the words in print is such a wonderful feeling! This reassures me that I’ve done a ton of writing- and that's not including my world building (that’s in another binder), my novel drafts themselves (those are on the computer), or the stories that are only partly written. I have the sections divided by the year I wrote the stories (2015-17 so far) with one for the longer novella I wrote two years ago.


In the folder are drawings of my characters that my husband did, layouts and maps of my locations, and drawings of my characters’ home. And as a bonus happiness, I have a section in here for fanfic that my writing partner-in-crime and my husband wrote for me. (That's here on my blog, too, if you want to read it.)




So if I get bummed out and feeling like I haven’t made much progress as an author because my books aren’t done, I need to look at this and see just how many finished, polished words I’ve written in the past few years. My book drafts are super rough and that bums me out sometimes because they don’t feel right, like they’re not the style I want them to be, but eventually they’ll be edited and make me as happy as looking at these stories does.

I absolutely recommend this to other writers. Even if you've only written one story, print that baby out and put it where you can see it. You did something amazing that's entirely you own and you deserve to preen about it! Be your own biggest fan! (You know, to counteract all the times when you feel like your writing is terrible and you're a hack. Take advantage of the prideful moments, okay?)

~Meri

Aug 1, 2017

July wrap-up and August goals


I'm going to call July's Camp NaNo a success! My goal was 35 hours and I hit a staggering 50! I think this is the most writing I've done for any camp and possibly for any NaNo. I made some great progress with my book 1 (Colorweaver) rewrite, plus I finished a short story I started in June and wrote another short story towards the end of the month, plus I did some world building/character development stuff, and completely redid my outline. Super productive month! Now I've got a coherent story for book 1 written up to about the 2/3 point and I have the rest of the plot outlined. I should be able to finish in the near future, which takes me to...



My goals for August! I'm determined to not lose momentum, so I was excited when I remembered that the NaNo site has this goal tracking thingy! I track my writing in my planner (you can find my post about how my planner keeps me organized here), but I liked being able to do this last month and see the graph, so I'm going to do it this way, too. I set the goal at the same as last month because I don't want to fall short, but I should hopefully be able to do an hour and a bit of change each day. I'm not sure if I'll be able to finish this draft by the end of the month, but I'm hesitantly hoping to have it done by mid-September. (Partly because fingers crossed I'll be going on vacation for a week then.)

So I'm optimistic! I'd love to at least have this draft finished in time to outline the next draft of book 2 (Sentinel) before November. I'd love to work on that for NaNo this year. Unless I completely change my mind a week before NaNo because that's definitely happened before lol.

~Meri

Jul 27, 2017

Picking a favorite...

I was asked by one of my writing friends which of my characters was my favorite. Oh gosh, this is never an easy question. Just out of the current main characters, not counting the characters I wrote before them, all five have qualities that would make them my favorite.


I love Adair for his courage even though he’s probably the least brave and heroic protagonist ever. His courage doesn’t come from being fearless, but from following his heart and doing what’s right even when it terrifies him. And a lot of things terrify him.

I love Blythe for her sense of honor and her strong self confidence. She knows exactly what she wants out of life and she won’t back down until she reaches it. But I also love that sometimes she doesn’t realize exactly what she wants until it’s almost too late and she has to reevaluate the things she thought were true.

I love Firedrake for their resilience. They’ve had a ton of horrible things happen in their life, but they always push past this and come out stronger for it. Somewhere under all that snark and bravado is a kind heart and if they could just get past all their inner negativity, they’d make a wonderful mentor.

I love Sol for his constant positivity and willingness to help out anyone. It doesn’t matter what happens, Sol will see the light at the end of the tunnel. And if that light happens to be an approaching train, he’ll invent something that gets him and his friends out of its path just in time because there’s no way he’s just saving himself.
Etri, though, I think I might love even more than I do all the others. In a way he possesses a little of everyone else. Even though he has intense social anxiety and self doubt, he can face the things that scare him when someone he cares about is in trouble. His honor is a different kind than Blythe’s and developed not out of cultural expectation and training, but as an individual need to do what’s right. Etri was born into a strict and frankly horrifying culture, but refused to live by those expectations and rules. It was love for his brother (defying the teachings that called for no family bonds) that got him and Sol safely out of there and to where they are now, and while he may not be willing to put his life on the line for strangers, once someone has earned his loyalty, they have it for life.

I think it’s because I see myself in Etri (an introvert with anxiety and not so great self confidence) that I also see the things I wish I could be in him (the bravery, the loyalty, the strength against odds). If he can do these things and face a deck stacked against him, then so can I. So he’s my favorite because he gives me, personally, the most hope. It would be such a wonderful experience if one day he and the other dorks do the same for the people who read my books- that others will be able to see themselves in these characters.

This turned super serious when I’m writing comedic stories and things usually devolve into Sol losing his pants or Adair accidentally hitting the others with invisibility paint or Firedrake’s pranks backfiring, but I guess sometimes I have to admit that there is seriousness mixed in with the sarcasm and pies and dorks. ;)


So here's a question for anyone reading this blog: if you're a writer, who's your favorite of your characters? Why are they your favorite? And are you having as hard a time picking as I did? (Seriously, now I feel guilty that I didn't pick everyone else lol.)

~Meri


Jul 25, 2017

Short Story: "All Washed Up"

“Ha! I bet you thought I forgot. I mean, you thought I actually loved you and all was forgiv-…”


(I was tagged in a writing game over on Tumblr where I was asked to write a scene or short story based on the dialogue prompt “I’ll shoot. I mean, you thought I actually loved you?” I fudged the prompt slightly, but those words are in here, I promise! This is basically canon because I can see this happening to these dorks.)

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "All Washed Up"


“Maybe this isn’t a good idea,” Sol said as the pair eyed their target.

Firedrake yanked him back behind the wagon and glared up at him. “Are you kidding? Firing this thing was your idea in the first place! Besides, it’s your brother. If we’re hitting anyone, it has to be him.”

Sol looked down at the hollow- but definitely not empty- tube he held in his hands. “But he’ll get mad.”

“That’s precisely what I hope for.”

Firedrake inched along the wall of their wagon-home and peeked around the side. Oh good, Etri hadn’t heard Sol’s complaints. His nose was still buried in a book. Judging by the cover, it was the one Firedrake had “borrowed” from him last week.

Sol moved over to where Firedrake stood and raised his arm. Then lowered it again. “I can’t do it. It’s too mean.”

“Fine. I’ll shoot. Call him over.”

Sol looked as though he was going to protest against this, too, but finally his shoulders dropped and he called out, “Hey, Etch! Can you come here for a sec?”

Firedrake grinned as Etri placed the book on the stairs of the wagon and stood up. Not wanting to be seen until the last moment, Firedrake took a few steps back. This was going to be great. Ever since Etri had caught on about Firedrake “accidentally” misplacing everyone’s belongings and, in retaliation, stuck Firedrake’s costumes up high where Firedrake couldn’t reach, Firedrake had wanted to get back at him. What better way than to humiliate someone so stoic and boring? Firedrake forced down a cackle of glee.

…This was taking longer than Firedrake expected. Had Etri decided to return to his book? When Firedrake heard the crunch of the dead summer grass, they raised their makeshift weapon up to the level they knew Etri’s chest would be. That was the upside to Sol and Etri being identical twins; Firedrake had already tested this out on Sol as soon as he’d invented this weird plunger-inside-tube contraption.

As soon as Firedrake saw movement, they fired. When the ammunition splashed back into their face, Firedrake shut their eyes. They’d forgotten that Sol hadn’t fixed that malfunction. “Ha! I bet you thought I forgot. I mean, you thought I actually loved you and all was forgiv-…”

This wasn’t right. The response should have been Etri skulking away in a humiliated yet silent funk. Not a … growl? Fearing that they may have just made a horrible mistake, Firedrake cracked their eyes open.

A spluttering and furious Blythe stood where Etri should have been. Firedrake was surprised that the water dripping from her face and hair wasn’t steaming judging from her red-hot anger and clenched fists. “I. Am. Wet. I hate being wet.”

Firedrake took a step back. Why’d it have to be Blythe? Etri’s chest height meant Firedrake had fired right at her face. As Firedrake gaped and tried to come up with an explanation better than “Sol made me do it,” she snatched the water-tube out of Firedrake’s hand. In one smooth, quick motion it was pointed at Firedrake.

“And I know you hate being wet as much as I do. Hmm, I wonder how this is going to play out?” Blythe lowered it and twirled it around in her hand, then nodded. “Just like I thought. This seems to have started out life as a cheap blow dart gun. Where did he even find… But whatever. I could just hand this thing back to Sol where I know it must have came from.”

Firedrake could hear the “but” at the end of that sentence even though it wasn’t said. They didn’t like the idea of any “buts” when Blythe was holding Firedrake’s only weapon. Firedrake glanced behind them for backup and found that Sol had wisely fled.

Here came the word Firedrake expected. “But you and I both know that I’m not particularly forgiving.”

She was right. Firedrake knew she wasn’t forgiving. They also knew that gleam in her eyes. Before Blythe could push the plunger back in, Firedrake was flat on the ground. When Firedrake risked a look upwards, Blythe’s mouth hung open and the water-tube hung loosely from her hand.

Firedrake turned their head. Adair stood in the now-open doorway of the wagon, staring down at his dripping pajamas and the puddle under his bare feet.

“Oh. I guess Sol came up with a new way to take a bath.”

Blythe nudged Firedrake with her foot. “Yeah. You could say that.”

Jul 1, 2017

Short Story: "Change of Choice"

“This will be an interesting tour if neither of us know where we’re going.”
“Interesting is what I strive for,” she replied with a wink. “Now let’s see what’s that direction. I predict a bathroom, another art studio, and a room with nothing but a collection of decorative wooden spoons.”


(When I saw the prompts "4 people are shown where the made the biggest decision of their lives and what would happen if they had chosen differently" and "Your OC has the chance to go back in time and change something in their past. Do they take it?" a story immediately started brewing in the back of my head. This short story would take place somewhere between book 2 (Sentinel) and book 3 (Iconoclasm). It's basically true to the books, so I consider this canon.)

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "Change of Choice"


“What exactly do you mean by ‘can you see a different me?’ Did you do some of your weird illusion weaving again?” Blythe squinted as she looked Adair over. “You don’t look any different. Maybe a few extra paint stains since this morning. Or is that pie filling?”

Adair scooped up some of the questionable splotch with his finger and put it in his mouth. Belatedly he realized this could be a bad move, but to his relief it wasn’t paint. “Jelly.”

Blythe covered her face with her hand. “Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer. So what was your question about?”

Adair wiped his hand on his shirt, adding more stain to a piece of clothing already overdue for the trash bin, and found he couldn’t meet her gaze. He knew his request was going to sound foolish because Blythe rarely cared what other people thought. He usually didn’t either. Just about this and only because… he looked over at Etri who was too engrossed by the book in his hands to pay any attention to the conversation going on not five feet away. Etri was the one the horrible words were usually directed towards. Adair didn’t really care when someone said he was a failure as an Artisan; he’d heard it for most of his life. He was nontraditional and he’d ended up with nontraditional muses. The other Artisans didn’t approve of this. Blythe and Etri were carnival performers and to top it off, both were Adair’s sentinel. There was no rule saying an artist couldn’t have two bodyguards as their spouses, but it was all about tradition. Two artists were bound to one bodyguard. That was how it was done. That was how it had always been done.

So the other Artisans- and more than a few sentinels who were insulted by carnies having the same status they did- didn’t hide their disapproval. Etri, who was unusually tall, pale, and foreign, got the brunt of this. Blythe, as a local who trained as an ordinary guard before becoming a performer and healer, at least looked the part. She was also likely to out-snide anyone who tried to sass her. Etri, on the other hand, never said much. He didn’t have to. Adair could sense Etri’s anger and frustration through their link. So could Blythe, which is likely why she had so little patience for rude comments. Now that Adair thought about it, her knee-jerk response to Etri feeling hurt probably didn’t help matters.

All this was the reason for the request Adair wanted to make of Blythe. He was pretty sure he’d made the right choice. His pair of sentinels felt right, inside his head or his heart or wherever it was his weaving linked to them. Still, a part of him couldn’t help fearing that maybe the naysayers were right. If he’d chosen tradition instead of his own path, would he have ended up with “normal” muses? If his choice had been different, would the chosen be changed?

Adair’s mind made up, he looked into Blythe’s dark, worried eyes. “You learned how to read memories and predict actions, right? Can you tell me what would have happened if I did something different? If I was something different?”

Blythe held out her hand and brushed Adair’s forehead with her thumb.“I can try. If I do this, will you promise to not taste-test paint in the future?”

Adair fully trusted Blythe inside his head and so let his eyes close. “I only did that because I thought it was-”

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


Adair’s ears picked up the grating sound of Feren’s voice. Even the overpowering music and laughter of yet another party couldn’t mask a sound he had heard almost every day for the past ten years. Feren reached him before Adair could decide between ducking under the nearest table or making a beeline for the kitchen. He did inch closer to the table just in case.

“There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you. There’s someone I want you to meet.”

Adair didn’t budge when Feren held out his hand. “It’s another of your Protectorate friends, right? Can’t we do this later? I’m really not feeling up to it.”

Adair coughed to try to make this sound truthful, but knew before Feren let out a too-dramatic sigh that it wasn’t going to work. He found ways to avoid this often enough that now Feren didn’t believe any of his excuses. Ever since Feren gave up his original role as Adair’s sentinel-intended from fear of being inadequate as a bodyguard, it had become a nearly daily goal to set Adair up with another one. While Adair appreciated his concern because an artist did need a sentinel, Feren had far different taste than Adair. Every single one was bossy or crude or lacking in the brains department. Sometimes all three at once. Usually all three. Could Adair help it if he wanted a sentinel who could hold an actual conversation?

Feren was not to be deterred. He tucked a loose strand of Adair’s hair back into the hated style- Adair pondered briefly what Feren would do if he hacked it all off like he wanted to- and brushed a few crumbs off the front of Adair’s silken dress robe. He made a disapproving clicking sound with his tongue. “You’re never going to make a good first impression. I swear you do this on purpose.”

Adair bit back a retort about not wanting to impress anyone Feren introduced to him. If he argued, Feren would make a scene about how he should act like a proper Artisan. The last thing Adair wanted was all those disproving stares directed his way again. Directed at Feren’s outburst would have made sense. Instead it was at the fact that Adair was so flawed he needed a scolding in the middle of a crowded room.

With his reluctance remaining unvoiced this time, he allowed Feren to take his hand.

His silent prayers of escape were answered when an artist he didn’t know stopped Feren to ask him a question Adair didn’t bother to hear. He took this distraction as the lucky break it was and headed for the staircase at the back of the house. Adair plopped down at the top of the stairs- not caring about the wrinkles it would make in the draping fabric he wore or the anxiety caused by being up high- and propped his head on his knees. Hidden behind the railing he would be able to see if Feren approached again while hopefully remaining unseen, which made this the best location even if it did make Adair’s insides twist from the elevation. He wished he had brought his sketchbook despite Feren’s assumption that it would be rude to be so distracted. Adair’s protest that this was an Artisan party and others likely had brought their tools with them had been disregarded. Adair’s protests were usually disregarded.

As he traced his fingertip over the intricate floral pattern carved into the banister, he could feel the sour taste of regret begin to ferment into resentment. He never should have chosen to stay with Feren. He could have been somewhere, anywhere else right now.

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


Blythe leaned against the wall and crossed her arms over her chest. Unaware of her boredom, her roommate talked on and on with a cluster of other Protectorates. Occasionally her friend tried to draw Blythe into the conversation, but Blythe had nothing to add. She had been away from soldier gossip for too long. She had no idea who they were talking about or what “whip-flopping” even meant. Blythe got the feeling she’d only been invited along because her roommate felt sorry for her.

When Blythe overheard the word “carny” and saw a few heads turn to look curiously in her direction, she pushed herself away from the wall. She didn’t want to talk about this. There were always two reactions when people learned she had worked as a carnival performer for two years: curiosity and disdain. Curiosity led to far too many questions about her past that she didn’t want to answer and disdain meant she wasn’t seen as a “real” Protectorate because she’d been forced away for a few years. Sometimes she wondered if it would have been better if she’d stayed with the carnival troupe instead of returning to her original career path.

Deep in these thoughts, she headed in the direction she hoped the nearest set of stairs were located. Artisan houses were built with plenty of floors, display cabinets, and windows. What they weren’t built with was any common sense. A staircase in a house like this couldn’t be directly next to the one leading to the next floor down. No, that would be too logical, too mundane. Instead the one down to the next floor would be across the house in the library or the back of the kitchen. It would probably be simpler to knot together a couple of tablecloths and use the makeshift ladder to climb out a window.

She smiled for the first time this evening when she spotted a staircase that did in fact go down. Another few of these and she could be out of here- assuming she hadn’t entered one of the artists’ paintings and was heading sideways. She stepped around the person sitting hunched over on the top stair, then stopped when she noticed the glare he aimed at nothing in particular. He was the first person besides herself who looked like he didn’t want to be here. “Hey, you okay?”

It took a moment for the boy to realize she was talking to him. When he saw her he shrugged. This made his collar start to slide down his shoulder and he yanked at his sleeve to put the fabric back in place. Artisans dressed the way they built their homes: too many layers, too many colors, and a style that made you wonder how the whole thing didn’t come apart. As it was, a section of his hair had fallen out of its twist and hung down to the floor. She avoided this as she sat down.

He didn’t seem to mind and leaned his back against a baluster to give her more room so she didn’t have to sit in the way of staircase-traffic. “Yeah. Let’s just say this is the last place I want to be right now.”

Blythe chuckled. “Tell me about it. You got dragged here, too?”

He wrinkled his nose. “Yeah. Third party this week. I’m so sick of parties.”

“I was looking for the exit a second ago. Why don’t you come with me and we can both leave, assuming we can find the dang thing.”

Blythe meant this as a joke, but he frowned and gestured in a downward direction. “My muse-intended would never let me hear the end of it if I left. Creators forbid there’s something I want to do...”

It sounded as though he wanted to say more. Instead he trailed off and lowered his chin down on his knees.

“Then how about we poke around the place instead? It has to be better than sitting here all night and your intended can’t complain if you’re still in the house, right?”

“I guess not...”

“Good. Then it’s settled.” Blythe climbed to her feet and held out her hand. “I’m Blythe and I’ll be your tour guide tonight.”

He let her pull him upright then released her hand when his outer coat began to slide off his shoulder. After a mumbled curse and some adjusting, he said, “I’m Adair. So wait, you’ve been here before?”

Blythe grinned at him. “Nope. Have you?”

For the first time Adair smiled. She thought he had a nice smile and had a feeling he didn’t make that expression often. She decided that she’d make it her goal tonight to make him smile as often as possible.

“Nope,” he replied. “This will be an interesting tour if neither of us know where we’re going.”

“Interesting is what I strive for,” she replied with a wink. “Now let’s see what’s that direction. I predict a bathroom, another art studio, and a room with nothing but a collection of decorative wooden spoons.”

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


Spoons. Etri had broken into more than a few homes and this was the first time seeing a room full of eating utensils. His employer had specified a spoon from a particular set and while that instruction sounded easy enough when assuming no sane individual owned more than maybe a dozen spoons, Etri was now at a loss as to which spoon. The one he was tasked to steal was imbued with weaving which would have been helpful if he had been given any way to test this.

He reached out to take the nearest one from the where it hung on a rack with eight other nearly identical ones. It felt like a wooden spoon. In the hope it would play a song or light up, he turned it around in his hand. It remained spoon-like. Perfect for eating soup, not so perfect for determining its status as mundane or magic. Finding a needle in a haystack would be easier than this; at least he would have known the needle when he found it.

He stared around the room in growing trepidation. He had but one more hour before he needed to report back to his employer with her requested theft. If he failed...

Etri heard laughter from the hallway and hastily replaced the spoon with its siblings. It slipped off the hook and fell silently onto the carpet. He had just enough time to blend himself into the shadow of a curio cabinet- filled with forks as a nice change of pace- when the door opened.

“It is a room of spoons! How in Petra’s name did you know that?”

“Would you believe me if I told you I was psychic?”

The first speaker broke into a chortle. His laughter was the contagious kind and it made Etri want to smile- if Etri was currently in possession of a mouth. “Nope! How’d you really know?”

It was never easy for Etri to see when he took this form. The world became fogged and grey, as though he looked through a piece of fine gauze. The one was certainly an Artisan and the other, judging from her height and build, was likely his sentinel.

The sentinel’s footsteps took her closer to Etri who tried to meld further against the wall. If only his shadow-weaving allowed him pass through it! She stopped a few feet away and picked up the spoon he so recently dropped. “Earlier tonight I poked my head into a studio and saw a bunch of spoons spread out on the work table. I figured whoever lives here made them and would probably be vain enough to display them. I was right, although I have to say I didn’t expect an actual room.”

“Then you don’t know how vain most artists can be.” The artist came up next to her and took the spoon from her hand. “I see where this one’s supposed to go. I wonder how it fell?”

This was all the warning Etri was given before his hand reached for the hook- and passed through Etri. It was the most uncomfortable and intrusive thing Etri had ever experienced. After the artist stared at his hand and the spoon in confusion, he turned his attention towards the narrow space between cabinet and wall.

He hooked the spoon onto the rack and took a step back, never once taking his gaze away from where Etri hovered in the shadow of the cabinet. He couldn’t have seen him. Etri was all but invisible when he blended into shadow. Yet the artist didn’t look away until the woman asked, “What are you staring at the wall for?”

Etri’s hope that he’d been wrong, that the artist couldn’t see him, was dashed when he reached back into the shadow. “There’s weaving here. Not the spoon weaving. That’s deep olive green. This one’s a sparkly pewter. And it’s cold. Feel it.”

Now the sentinel held out her hand. This was disturbing and Etri really wished they’d stop prodding him. “I can’t see your weird artist colors, but you’re right about the cold. Are we near a window?”

When they both looked around to see if this was the cause, Etri slid away and over to the far wall.

“Now it’s warm again,” she said.

The artist turned around to look at the room and his eyes fell on Etri almost immediately. “Because it’s over there now.”

Etri didn’t have time for a hide and seek game. Whatever they could do to him wouldn’t be any worse than what would happen if he didn’t return back with the spoon in hand. He supposed the sentinel could try to arrest him for art theft, but it wouldn’t be successful when he could simply go intangible again. His only option was to take human form again and try to get out of here with the correct spoon. Whichever one was the correct spoon.

He visualized his human self and when his vision returned to normal he found to no surprise that the pair had noticed. There was no way they could have failed to notice a person appearing out of thin air directly in front of them.

The woman took a step forward and pulled the artist behind her, placing her body between him and possible danger. This solidified Etri’s theory that she was the sentinel. “What are you doing here? What are you?”

“Why do you have weaving?” the artist piped up as he stood on tiptoe to see over her shoulder.

Would truth or a lie be better? Etri decided on truth without all the details. “I am seeking a spoon.”

The sentinel snorted a laugh. It was strangely endearing even if it wasn’t as infectious as the artist’s. “You do know you could buy a spoon anywhere, right? Not that the artist would notice one missing out of four billion.”

“He is not the artist?” Etri nodded his head towards the boy who grinned at him.

“Cartographer and part time painter. The only thing I use spoons for is eating.”

The sentinel nudged him in the ribs. “Hush for a minute.”

Then to Etri she asked, “What kind of thief steals a single spoon?”

Etri couldn’t keep the bitterness out of his voice. “One who has been ordered to steal a particular spoon. One who would much rather be anywhere else right now. One who would prefer any other career.”

The artist's voice was soft when he asked, “Then why do you do it?”

Etri looked over at him in surprise. He expected anger from an artist after catching a thief, not… sympathy? While the sentinel didn’t seem quite as calm about this, she also hadn’t made any move to stop him. This was not his previous experience with sentinels. Perhaps his assumption about her status was incorrect.

“If I do not return with this spoon, my employer will turn me over to the guards and claim she caught me stealing from her. If I could escape the guards, she would find me. Find us. I could not leave my brother behind. We are too foreign to remain hidden for long.” His mouth twitched into a wry smile. “There is not a day where I do not regret a decision I made.”

The artist’s breath caught sharply and he turned to the woman. “We have to help him. I know what it’s like to have a choice like that.”

She frowned, then looked from one to the other. Slowly she spoke, “I could change the choice I made. If I did, if I went back to the people I left, I could protect you. You would be out of the city where anyone would be hard pressed to find you.”

“Why would you help me?” Etri’s voice was barely audible, but she heard him.

“Because my heart tells me that walking away and leaving either of you where I found you tonight would be disastrous for you both.”

The artist looked towards the door, then stood tall. “I don’t care where this place is, it’s gotta be better than what I have now. I’m in.”

“I will only agree to anything if I can bring my brother.” At the probably-not-sentinel's nod, Etri added, “I would like to know where you plan to take us.”

“My former carnival troupe. I was told if being a Protectorate didn’t work out, I could always come back. Frankly it’s a choice I don’t think worked out, so I’m willing to use my mistake to fix both of yours.”

Troupes constantly traveled and in costume Etri and his brother would be hidden in plain sight. For the first time in years, he had hope. “I also accept.”

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


"-pie.”

Adair opened his eyes and found that he was back in the room the three of them shared at the Artisans’ guildhall. He pulled Blythe into a tight hug with a squeal of joy. Then he threw himself at Etri, causing the book to go sailing through the air as Etri fumbled it and scrambled to catch him.

“What is the cause for such excitement?” Etri asked.

Adair grinned up at him, too elated to make words work. He had his answer: any change in choice would have brought them together. Even if he had suffered through tradition, he still would have met his beloved carnies.

It was a long time before he stopped smiling any time he saw a spoon. Although as Blythe could attest, Adair usually smiled whenever he saw a spoon because it might mean dessert.

May 31, 2017

Short Story: The Shrine

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


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

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "The Shrine"


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That is less of a concern.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 30, 2017

How I write

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


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

What time of day do you usually write? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Meri

May 10, 2017

The moral of the story is...

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


~Meri

May 2, 2017

Writing update for April and goals for May




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

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

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

~Meri

My novel, as reviewed by its main characters

This was a fun challenge going around on Tumblr, so I thought I'd share it here, too, since it's writing related. My characters always make me laugh! This is for Book 1 (Colorweaver) since that’s what I’ve been working on this year.

 “A ridiculous story with a happy ending, although I’m still not sure how we pulled that last trick off. Oh, and too many dorks.” - Blythe

 “Not nearly enough pie. … Wait, what do you mean, too many dorks?” - Adair

 “You call that a happy ending? More like an unfortunate addition to the tragic tail that is my life. Err… I meant tale. I better get a more pleasant story in the next book.” - Firedrake

 “Hey guys! Guys guys guys! I heard that I get a much bigger role in book two! Isn’t that great!” - Sol

“I am relieved this drama has been resolved. Now we can return to living quiet, normal lives, for which I am quite thankful. … A second book? It is too late to request transfer to a different author, yes?” - Etri

 “I didn’t even realize until the book was half over that I was the antagonist. Then it took me another quarter to learn what one was! You have to tell me these things, I don’t know what I’m doing. It was just a piece of paper, how’d I know it was going to turn into a me hunt?” - Talan

 “Far far too many dorks. (Who also don’t seem to understand the concept of a review.)” - Blythe again


Apr 1, 2017

Set of character aesthetics for the “Unexpected Inspiration” series and Camp NaNo ramblings


I realized that since I finally remembered to share the last one, I should put them all into one post. I’m really proud of these! For details (and larger pictures) of each aesthetic, they can be found here: Adair, Blythe, Etri, Firedrake, Sol. (I also have a post where I cast each character and gave short info about them here.)

Plus, Camp NaNo! These five are my dorks, the characters who have been traveling with me since NaNo ‘13. I’m slowly but continuously recording their adventures in an lgbt+ comedic fantasy trilogy. For Camp this year I’m planning on continuing my rewrite of book 1 (Colorweaver). I’m calling this my second draft because I’ve only reached “the end” once, but several chapters have been rewritten several times. It’s always hit or miss if I stick with a project for a whole month- or even if I have the energy/time to stick with NaNo a whole month!- but if I decide to work on something else like short stories or book 2, it’ll be about these characters. Here’s to hoping life doesn’t get in the way so I get a lot accomplished this month! I’ve fallen out of the habit of writing regularly, so I could use the kick in the pants of a NaNo to get me moving again.

Here’s the summary for Colorweaver:

Adair Cerulean is a novice cartographer with the ability to make his drawings have the semblance of life. Like the other creators who possess magic and channel this through art, Adair is a Weaver. Adair is in the process of working on the project that, once complete, would advance him in rank when disaster strikes! His map is stolen and as its new owner seeks out more Weavers, Adair feels a tug from his creation to follow. This pull leads him to a carnival where he meets a healer standing guard over a stricken performer. It turns out that his thief is more than a mere robber and there’s more at stake then just a stolen map. Wacky antics ensue as Adair attempts to get his art back and stop the thief before he hurts anyone else.

Character Aesthetic for Firedrake


I'm a good month behind with sharing the last of the five aesthetics for the main characters in my fantasy series. Whoops. Not surprisingly, it's Firedrake's. Poor Firedrake always has the worst luck. Or, rather, Dray always makes poor choices that result in bad things happening to them. This isn't to say that life hasn't kicked them around because it absolutely has. Firedrake just doesn't make things easier for themself. Seriously Dray, why is sarcasm, inconveniencing pranks, and your weak mind control magic your solution to everything?

Anyway, Firedrake is Blythe's sibling-by-choice; at one point the two of them shared a sword dancing act before Dray left the carnival troupe to perform on their own. Dray still does blade dancing, but tends to prefer fire. By "prefer" I really mean "is absolutely obsessed with." When Dray learns that they can summon/control fire, they're ecstatic! It's probably the only good thing that happens to Dray for a book and a half. There are those terrible decisions again! Firedrake's costume/stage persona is a dragon because Dray's more than a little obsessed with this particular mythological species.

The people I picked here aren't how I imagine Dray's physical appearance, but the makeup, costumes, and hair are very similar. Dray is agender and uses they pronouns.

My other four character aesthetics can be found here: Adair, Blythe, Etri, Sol. For image sources for this aesthetic, I found these: 13, 5, 6, 8, 9.


~Meri

Mar 26, 2017

ABC Writing Game

I was tagged over on tumblr to do this really fun writing tag game for one of my characters and figured I'd share it here, too. I’m picking Adair because he’s the most-main character of my current trilogy, but I might fill this out for Blythe later since she’s pretty much as much an MC as he is.

A is for Age: 18 (Adair’s the youngest of my five characters- the rest are in their 20s)

B is for Biggest Fear: Until book 2 when his fear becomes more emotional (losing the empathetic bond to his pair), it’s heights. He’s terrified of being off the ground in any way.

C is for Current Time: It’s late winter at the start of book 1.

D is for Drink Last Had: Tea. Definitely tea. This culture drinks a lot of freaking tea.

E is for Everyday Starts With: Grumbling about it being way too early to be awake (usually directed at Blythe who’s a Cheerful Morning Person ugh), but then getting super excited because he gets to make breakfast! Then losing some excitement because his family of carnies can’t agree on anything ever including breakfast.

F is for Favorite Song: There are bound to be popular songs in a culture that revolves around the arts, but darned if I know what any of them are. Blythe was probably humming it this morning while being Annoyingly Awake.

G is for Ghosts, Are They Real?: At the start of book 1, Addy would say probably not. By the end it’s a definite, personal yes. (I mean, he gets to kiss one. That’s pretty definite.)

H is for Hometown: Sagewood, one of Concordia’s small towns in the middle of nowhere. It’s boring.

I is for In Love With: Like that’s a secret. Blythe and Etri. My gosh, the boy has it bad for both of them. Fortunately for him it works out to be mutual. It starts as a bit of a crush on these two attractive, slightly older performers, then they become his best friends and eventual significant others.

J is for Jealous Of: Addy’s not a particularly jealous person. I guess he’s sort of jealous of the other artists his age who get more respect than he does, but he knows that he could too if he acted more traditional and he’s dang well not going to do that. He’s kind of an outsider in his own community.

K is for Killed Someone: Unless a shadow or light creature (I haven’t decided which) counts, no. That’s assuming he can even hurt them. Not sure yet.

L is for Last Time They Cried: Probably within the past few days. He cries pretty easily over pretty much any kind of emotion. (I really need to make this come up more often. He’s the most emotional character of the bunch.)

M is for Middle Name: None at the moment, but when he gets his promotion to a higher ranking artist in book 2 (basically a symbol of adulthood), his parents’ surname (Cerulean) becomes his middle name and he gets to choose a new surname based on his profession.

N is for Number of Siblings: One younger sister. He gets along with her, but they’re pretty far apart in age and he hasn’t been home in a while so he hasn’t seen her lately.

O is for One Wish: To have a sentinel who will protect him and respect him better than his ex boyfriend did. (Sentinels are an artist’s bodyguard/significant other.)

P is for Person Last Called/Texted: He avoids writing home whenever possible, but he keeps in better contact with his former master who was like another mom. That said, the last letter he wrote was probably to his ex girlfriend. They’re still good friends and keep in contact with each other.

Q is for Questions They’re Always Asked: I couldn’t think of one so my husband suggested “You? Seriously??” because no one ever takes Adair seriously. He’s young, adorable, harmless looking, and kind, and I think this tends to make people disregard him.

R is for Reasons to Smile: So many things make Adair happy! A new thing to sketch/paint, a change in scenery so he can see/experience new things, friends telling jokes and enjoying his company, yummy pies, beautiful spring days, his cat snuggling him, affection from Blythe or Etri.

S is for Song Last Sang: I still don’t know songs for this world yet. Probably whatever Blythe was humming while she tended to her plants this morning has gotten stuck in his head, though.

T is for Time They Wake Up: Well into morning, probably around 10 given the choice. (Still not as bad as Etri who hates waking up before noon lol.)

U is for Underwear Color: Adair’s the kind of person who wears whatever looks cleanest. That said, most of his clothes are blue or purple, so it’s probably one of those colors.

V is for Vacation Destination: As a cartographer, he spent much of his apprenticeship traveling. He doesn’t have a favorite place so much as places that served the best foods.

W is for Worst Habit: Messy handwriting is probably the most harmless but most frequent. He’s a cartographer. His writing has to be legible. He’s really bad at making it this way but he’s trying to be neater. The most harmful one is a tendency to be too passive and not speak up or letting other people make the decisions. He’s gradually getting better at this.

X is for X-Rays; Ever Broken a Bone?: Probably several. The other four members of his found family are all strong, athletic carnival performers. Adair is… well, he’s a kindhearted artist who got picked on a lot as a kid and probably struggled to keep up with the other kids.

Y is for Youth: *cough* I guess this is where I was going with the previous letter. He had a pretty boring, fairly traditional childhood and a slightly less traditional apprenticeship (his master is kind of an oddball like him who didn’t quite fit into what Artisans are supposed to be like). He’s a friendly person, but he’s also kind of quiet and would rather draw something than play with the other more outgoing and social kids. It didn’t help that his magic manifested a little later than average (an Artisan’s worth is in their ability to possess magic and be an artist with it) and he was always kind of an outsider. He wasn’t disliked, but he wasn’t exactly included, either. And his biggest childhood bully grew up to be his closest friend because they were both kind of social outcasts with the other kids- this person was also later his aforementioned inept sentinel/boyfriend. He never really got on with his family, either, although hit fit in much better with his master and her family. Yeah, Adair is much happier with where his life is right now even though it’s nothing like how an Artisan is supposed to live. He was a crappy Artisan but he’s a dang good carny lol.

Z is for Zealous: What Are They Passionate About?: Drawing and painting, putting his magic and effort into a really cool map that’ll be his final project as an apprentice artist (this is basically like a graduation project and rite of passage rolled into one), cooking, finding yummy foods.

~Meri