NaNoWriMo No Mo

Well, this is it- the last day of NaNoWriMo. I wrote a few more words this afternoon, bringing the month's total to a little over 51k, but (as I mentioned the other day) there is still a ways to go. Probably another five thousand words or so to reach the (initial) end. So that's pretty good. And here is (possibly) the last excerpt you'll get for a while. Oh! First, a few words of explanation. First, "Storm Petrel" is my place-holder name until I come up with an actual name. Second, "black metal" is to Immortals what iron basically is to faeries. Think watered-down kryptonite. Finally, the "her" in the cage is the seagull that's been following Sera around ever since she ran away from the Welkin Court four years ago.


Dramen landed on a thick branch next to her and eyed the cage. If he could get it open he would eventually be able to worry the collar off- but first he had to get into the cage. He was large and powerful in his crow form: a strike of his beak was enough to crack even the toughest shell, so he should be able to break even a sturdy lock. But there was no lock- there was only an elaborate panel across the top of the cage.

Inlaid in the panel were two discs, and each disc a hand-shaped depression; within the finger-troughs of each was a fine line of raised metal. It appeared that if you placed your hands in the depressions you could press down the metal bits, and then turn the discs, which would open the cage. Simple enough, if you had hands.

Which, of course, he didn’t. He croaked in frustration, and the seagull opened its bill and panted.

A sudden scream caught his attention, and he whirled back toward the beach- Sera and the man were no longer dancing- they were fighting. And running up and down the man’s body was… lightning?

Any moment now, my little storm will manifest itself… Storm Petrel’s words echoed in his mind. Had she truly placed the fury of a storm in a mortal shell? Damen clawed and stabbed fruitlessly at the indentations in the panel- but his crow anatomy was useless against it. He threw himself into the air, determined to drive away Sera’s attacker, only to find himself slammed back to the tree by a mental weight more powerful than any he’d before encountered. More powerful than his sister even, the most powerful of all the Elder Immortals.

**Release me, dark one.** It was a command, and Dramen realized it must be coming from the seagull. **Release me, and I will save her.**

**I cannot!** He didn’t want to spend time arguing with this unknown power, but she held his will so firmly in her own that he could not move.

**You can. Abandon your crow form.**

**You don’t understand! The curse-**

**Now! I will not stay lucid for much longer!** Dramen shuddered, and allowed his body to transform. The seagull would see that he was intangible, and release him- he might still drive off the attacker, give Sera time to seek shelter…

The branch he was crouching on dipped alarmingly beneath his increased weight, and he flung himself on the cage for support. The black metal burned his arms, but he was too shocked to do anything but cling. He was corporeal!

He was corporeal. He shoved his hands into the indentations and twisted, ignoring the pain. The cage sprang open and E’ia let out a shriek of triumph- but the collar still held her fast. Dramen reached in and unbuckled it, but as he did so he felt a sharp, piercing pain in the flesh of his thumb. The seagull launched herself into the air, and toward the struggling pair on the sands- but Dramen did not follow her progress with his eyes. Instead he slumped backward, a curious heaviness having overtaken his limbs. Only one substance in all of the realms would have such an instantaneous effect on an Immortal.

Morrian’s Tears, he thought dully, picturing the small, flowering plant which grew only in the Empyrean realms. They produced a juice toxic to any lesser Immortal- but only if he had first been weakened by black metal. Apparently Storm Petrel wasn’t as cavalier as she’d seemed. As the poison spread through his system he felt himself slipping from his perch in the tree- and he no longer had the capacity to shift himself. As his all-too-solid body began to plummet to toward the ground he realized-

I will die…

…but Sera will live.

He smiled as he fell.


What I've Learned About Remembering From the Elephant in the Room

All of us have little calendars carved into our hearts, calendars marked with important dates that may or may not be observed by anyone other than ourselves. These days are holidays in the old sense- that is to say they are holy days, days that must be kept in remembrance. We may not celebrate these days, but we never forget them, either. We may spend them in mourning, or merry-making, or deliberate negligence- but we are always aware of their presence on our personal calendars. Time wears on the carving, smoothing down the edges so that maybe these days slip by with little more than a smile, or a moment of silence, or a nod in a particular direction- but the acknowledgment is there. Will be there, forever.

Today is one of those days for me. And my mom. And my brother. And a handful of other people who knew my father. Today is a day that I text my mother, "I love you," and instead of "What's up?" she responds, "I love you, too."

We don't have to talk about the Elephant to give him his due.



Early Morning Escape

It's not yet dawn, but I'm wide awake. Slip from the warm warm bed into the tiny bathroom, brush my teeth, quietly put on my clothes- time yet to let him slumber. Crack the door so a little light falls into the bedroom, pack up the cords that were charging things overnight. Creep downstairs and out into the glittering darkness to start the car running- my hiking shoes crunch through the gravel and the frost, my breath marks my path to and from the cabin. Stars so bright they're like tiny shards of violence in the sky, fierce and alien to my city-bred eyes.

Back up the stairs to kiss him, rouse him, get him moving. Everything in silence so as not to wake the others. Bite of gingerbread is my breakfast, and then we have everything, leaving the key on the table for those still asleep, lock the door behind us and oh so grateful I warmed up the car so there's no more ice to scrape.

Easing down the steep incline, the sharps turns, first gear and infinite patience keeps us on the path until the tires meet asphalt once more, and we can accelerate to the thrilling speed of 45mph, twisting through these mountains that are starting to glow, back-lit with pink.

Down, down, down further and further we descend as the sun comes up and up and up. We break free of the park as he breaks free of the trees, and I watch the water play at being a holy trinity of itself, down in the canyons.

So many kinds of home.

(Smoke on the Water)


Beyond NaNoWriMo

Well, post NaNo day one. I only wrote about two hundred words today, because I was distracted by Other Things, but I think that's okay. I have plenty more time to write when I get home, whereas I only had today to play with the entire family all in one place.

I got drawn up in a couple of epic games of Pretend with Quail and Toad (oldest niece and nephew, respectively). I don't think I'm flattering myself when I say I may be the best of their relations for said games; having played tabletop RPGs has kept my ability-to-play-an-adventure-on-the-fly pretty sharp, and I tend to jump in with more enthusiasm and crazier ideas than the other adults (save perhaps their father, but he doesn't count because he's Dad). Man, running around with kids is exhausting, but I feel like if I ever have any of my own it will keep me in some pretty dang good shape. Unless of course by the time that happens I am too old to do anything but lay there and complain they have vampired all the energy out of me (that's my actual theory on how kids stay so hyped-up; they literally drain energy from adults and use it for themselves. There's a story in that, I just know it...)

While we were engaged in said silly pursuits (and we did occasionally manage to draw the younger Eel in) the guys were being very manly and playing football. Even my beloved father-in-law (who honestly was always more all-around athletic than any of his sons) got in on that action:

(Old Man Still Got It)

But anyway, back to musings on the whole NaNo thing. The way I see it, I'll try to finish up this proto-draft (seriously, it doesn't even deserve the title "rough") and then let it sit for a month or two in a drawer while I work on something else (like maybe the fabulous/ludicrous idea I had today that I shall call Fire Hacker) (no it's awesome. It could be like AxeCop awesome, pretty sure.) Then I'll come back to it and try to edit it through my tears of mortification until it's in good enough shape to give to a couple of Beta readers. And then I'll be sulky and defensive about the changes they suggest, but because they are carefully selected for their ability to roll their eyes at my BS I will probably actually listen to them and make it better. (Thank the stars for true friends who also happen to be excellent editors). And then I'll probably rewrite it another couple of times, and then possibly I will have something worth submitting for publication. And also possibly a few other fleshed out stories, since by that time it will be 2011 and I'll be done with this project and able to devote more time to developing the ideas that it spawned.

Not to mention my 2011 365 Project. But that's a post for another time...


Nothing Can Stop Me NaNow!

By which I mean...

Mission Accomplished!

Woo! Imagine horns and streamers and all that jazz! I passed 50k words this afternoon, and while I'm not done with my story, I have achieved the goal of NaNoWriMo, which means that I am a winner (or I will be as soon as I verify my word count). Lovely, lovely winningpants: I have them! ^_^ It definitely felt good to hit that- and it's encouraging to know that it's not beyond me to churn out that much in that time span. I may just be a professional yet... I suppose it's the editing that will tell.


Today's grand adventure was going to see Tangled, which I must say I highly recommend for everyone in your family, regardless of age, gender, or position-toward-long-hair. From a purely artistic standpoint it was absofreakinglutely gorgeous. I kept salivating over how they'd managed to capture the translucence of skin, the stray hairs in an eyebrow, the shimmer of Rapunzel's fabled locks. From a design standpoint- fantastic. It was luscious and lovely and just the right amount of Stylized. (Plus Rapunzel had freckles. Has there ever been a Disney heroine who had freckles? Yay freckles!) The story was an intriguing take on the original, and as plausible as any magic-fueled story can be- the characters were believable and most importantly they stayed in character. And it was funny- holy crap it was funny. My brother-in-law and I were all but rolling at some points (Nathan had to stay back at the house working. Laaaaame.) And it was moving- I cried. I cried so hard, even though Rapunzel is my all-time-favorite fairy tale and I knew how it ended I cried at the climax like a great big baby anyway. Of course, it's been pointed out to me that I'm a bit of a sap when it comes to movies, so possibly you will not cry. But I think you will appreciate the emotional punch, anyway.

So yeah. Go see Tangled. And also appreciate this photo that Nathan took a little after midnight, because he knew he'd have to work all day:

(Early Moth)


Turkey Liberation Day!

That's right, no NaNoWriMo quip for today's entry (although I did manage to get within 1500 words of my goal...). Today is about liberating turkeys from this mortal coil! And also other, more delicious foodstuffs. Not that the turkey was not delicious- it was (and moist, too!). I'm just not really the world's biggest fan of turkey. I pretty much eat it once a year, and then I'm done.

I must say, I really love the family I married into. And I like them, which works out excellently, as well. I'm definitely very lucky on that front. Didn't matter what part of the house I was in- there was someone excellent to talk to or hang out with or what have you. And yeah, having four kids under five around was a little weird (we never had more than two at any given family gathering while I was growing up) but also entertaining as hell. It's so funny to me to watch them grow up and see how fundamentally different their personalities are, even from such young ages. Nurture, yes, but Nature certainly has her say in development, as well.

We really love it out here- heck, we love all the National Parks. In fact, Nathan talked to our brother-in-law (the ranger) about getting some help finding an IT position up in the PNW. Sure would be ideal... Also, here is an example of why this is an excellent place to be:


(obviously that's not in the park proper, but it's only about a mile or two outside of it...)


NaNover the River and Through the Woods...

...although we did not technically go to grandma's house. We headed back up to Great Smokey Mountains National Park for the Thanksgiving Holidays, to stay with my sister-in-law and her family for a few days (hence the belated updates). Everyone from Nate's nuclear core is now here, which makes for ten adults and four kids, plus another one in the oven (Eel gets to be a big brother in May- woo!). Crazy times.

I managed to pound out about a thousand words on the drive up (about five and half hours since we hit icky traffic in Chattanooga). I probably could have written more than that, but I felt bad ignoring Nathan for so long. It's one thing to ignore him when he's sitting next to me on the coach with a computer of his own (writers make terrible spouses), but it just seems really rude to leave the driver hanging... I probably wouldn't have written at all if he hadn't encouraged me to do so- what an excellent man.

One of the more interesting things about being married to a photographer is that our road trips inevitably involve sudden-pull-overs. I still occasionally panic, thinking something has gone wrong with the car- but it's usually just that Nathan's seen a good photo op. He caught this one just as the sun was setting:

(Old Barn)


I'm Too Old for This NaNo

No excerpt for you!

Not because you haven't been good, mind you- I'm certain you've been lovely. But because I only managed to squeeze out about a thousand words tonight, and they are just embarrassing. Most likely because I'm in the World's Rottenest Mood. Or, I was. I'm still not in the best of moods, but I don't hate the entire world quite so much as I did a few hours ago.

I'm way ahead of the Commercialmas game this year- I've gotten almost everything that needs to be ordered, ordered, and I've almost finished the one hand-made item I'm making. So you'd think that I'd be nice and stress-free regarding the holidays.

Not so.

No, instead I've apparently pushed the stress up by a month. As I said to my mother in a falsely cheerful voice, "Stress early, stress often!" But really it's more like bitterness and irritability.

Last year we made most of our gifts- which stressed Nathan out to no end, so he stated that this year we would be purchasing our gifts (except for the one that I am making for the person-I-drew-from-the-hat). Which I did. And it was easy and convenient and blah blah blah- but it's put me in a horrible mood. I hate that we've spent so much money on gifts (especially for people that we're buying for out of that stupid holiday obligation bs business) and I hate how impersonal it feels.

Don't get me wrong- I don't mind spending money (even what might be considered "a lot of money") on a gift for a person if I know they will genuinely love and enjoy it, if I've picked it out because it is just the right thing for them. Hell, that's what money is for! But I hate spending it on a bunch of crap gifts that you have to buy because if you don't give them something then someone's feelings (not even theirs! someone else!) will get hurt or insulted or whatever, even tho' the recipient would be just as happy not getting a gift at all rather than having to pretend to like whatever crap thing you've picked up to save everyone face. And it can't look "cheap", oh no! Gods forbid. And then women end up with more stupid bath stuff and smelly candles than they know what to do with, and men get whatever the hell men get in that situation. (Ties?) So the whole thing just pisses me off. Can't we all just agree to let go of the obligation aspect? Argh.

I have a friend (two friends, actually- they are a lovely married couple and I miss them sooo much) who just eschews Christmas entirely. Today is one of those days where I would totally get on board with that. Ugh.

I was much happier with last year's gift-giving experience- except the part where it stressed Nathan out so badly. Nathan is much happier with this year's gift-giving experience- except the part where it is stressing me out so badly. We obviously need to find a nice blending of the two.

There are other things upping my Cranky Factor right now, but I don't really want to get into them on here. I don't feel it's far to subject you to more than one soap box at a time. More specifically, I don't feel it's far to make my mother read it all again after having heard me burst into tears over everything earlier today. Sorry mom.

I probably just need snuggling. Sometimes that's all anyone needs:



NaNoWriMo Returns!

(and so does that one guy)

I've broken the 45k wall, and if I push it I can probably finish before the week is up. We shall see.

I'm doing a bit of floundering with my writing right now. It's one of those days that makes me really glad that no one is seeing the vast majority of what I'm churning out. Needless to say, I'll have my work cut out for me when I finally start editing... although something tells me I'll also get a lot of pleasure from finally getting to correct all those things that are driving me crazy...


The light turned out to be sunlight reflecting off the bow of a small boat, and before it got close enough for her to make out his face, she knew him by his craft.

It was him, the silent, mourning stranger. Sera’s insides knotted up on themselves. For many months after he’d disappeared, she’d occasionally day-dream of his return, of him professing his love for her and them building a life together, as she helped to ease his pain and turned it to joy.

But of course she’d known it would never happen. Never never never. He was just a fleeting moment in her life. An important moment, to be certain, a moment she treasured even as it caused her pain- a moment she didn’t fully understand but didn’t really need to. But moments aren’t supposed to come back.

And yet there he was, jumping out of the boat, pulling it onto the shore, sunlight warm on his golden skin. She was torn between greeting him like an old friend and hiding away in shame. Why she should be ashamed, she did not know- but she felt it burning like a coal in her chest.


A NaNoWriMo to Remember (or... Not. At All.)

I am posting this from my phone on the drive home from P-ville. I am doing this in an attempt to be able to go to bed relatively soon after getting home. Woo!

We had another successful day of baking, and I'm so sick of cookies that the very idea of sugar makes me want to vomit. Sooo... mission accomplished? Survey says yes!

As for NaNoWriMo, I'm pretty sure today is going to bedome the second day I officially raise my word-count by a big fat ZERO. And I'm pretty okay with that, since I'm all ahead of the game- plus I will, theoretically, have plenty of time to work on it tomorrow. And also Wednesday.

Hmmm, I've officially run out of room on my phone screen, and can no longer see what the hell I'm writing. So maybe it's time to cut this cop-out post off at the knees. And maybe when I get home i'l add a link to Nathan's photo, which is an excellent November-y sort of shot.

man, I wonder how many tos are in what I just wrote...


Revenge of the NaNoWriMo

Very low word count today (sub 1000, actually) because most of the day was taken up in The Great Annual Holiday Cookie Baking Event. Part One.

It's become something of a tradition for my mom and I to get together at the end of November and spend the weekend baking our family's Traditional Cookies. By which I primarily mean spritzkuchen. (I would love to put a link for that, but apparently no one on the interwebs can agree on what the meaning is. When my family uses the term we are talking about a very delicate, buttery, traditional German cookie, made from a recipe of my Oma's. Usually we just call them "spritz"...)

Anyway. It started out as a way for us to get together and make spritz, and we just sort of started adding to the list. Now we also make gingerbread (we have two competeing recipes for that and as of yet neither has emerged a clear victor), chocolate chip cookies, and spitzbuben, a delicate hazelnut cookie (again, or German origin) filled with delicious raspberry jam . We have in the past also included peanut butter cookies (one of Nathan's favorites) and brandy balls (which are not techically cookies but which go over awfully well). And this year we thought we'd try experimenting with some sugar cookies, but so far that's been a bust...

I love spending time with my mom, especially in the kitchen, and I always start out the weekend in such a chipper mood. And inevitably I think to myself, "I remember being in a bad mood last year? How could I possibly have been in a bad mood?" Well, gentle reader, by the end of hour nine, I sure as hell remember how I might have been in a bad mood. And much of it has to do with aching feet. The other part is primarily how ill I feel after samping cookies all damn day, and hating sugar straight down to the core of my being. And then there's the whole, knowing-it-starts-again-tomorrow part. That doesn't help, either.

But I'll feel better in the morning (I always do) and I'll make an even greater effort to keep from sampling (and fail) and I will remember how much these memories will mean to me someday when I no longer have the luxury of showing up on my mom's doorstep to bake "our cookies" together. And it will all be worth the tiny hassle of a pair of aching feet.


What's All This NaNonsense?

And now... it's time for Real Quote of the Day!

"Note to self: write something interesting before the first 22 pages have passed."

Now this was said sarcastically to my husband, but actually it's good advice. See, the context of this comment of mine was him giving me grief for never having finished The Darkness That Comes Before. I had tried to read it (on his recommendation) about two years ago, but was so bored that I gave up (you guessed it) 22 pages in. How do I know it was 22 pages in? Because today he made it a point to go look for the last thing I remembered reading and then point out to me that if I had just read a little longer I'd have reached the part with an epic wizard battle.

Well maybe that epic wizard battle should have happened about six pages sooner, hmm?

It's a valid point, I think. If I'm writing a book that I would like to read, then I'd better get the party started at a point before the page-number where I, as a reader, would be likely to bail. You know, just in case my readers are as short in the attention span as I am.

Now, I've promised Nathan that I will in fact go back and once again try to read the book, and because I am a dutiful wife I will do so. And it's possible that I will stick to it this time and will be rewarded with the part wherein Things Become Interesting.

But in the meantime, I'll make certain Something Happens before page 22 of my book.

(No excerpt tonight, but I have topped 42,000 words, as well as come up with a super-exciting plot twist. Nathan has dubbed it "clever", and he's picky, so it must be good.)


NaNothing to Do With NaNoWriMo

Once upon a time I did not live in Alabama, and thus had no real concept of College Football, let alone Team Loyalty. But then we moved to Alabama when I was twelve, and my brother and I came face to face with the requirement (I’m not making this up) that we wear our “favorite team shirt” for spirit day at school (that was seventh and second grade, respectively).

My mother dutifully loaded the two of us into her car and took us to Wal-Mart (big excitement in our little town back then), where we were faced with row upon row of crimson-and-white vs orange-and-blue. My brother and I were bewildered- what should we choose? We didn’t know- and we didn’t care, beyond not wanting to endure further torment from people who already thought we were hopelessly alien and weird. If we thought about college ball at all we thought about Air Force Academy (our dad’s alma mater) but that was not going to cut it in the Heart of Dixie. Finally the three of us came to a decision- we had always kept cats, so we decided that a team with a tiger for a mascot couldn’t be that bad, in spite of their horrible color preferences.

Hence my family became nominal Auburn fans. We still didn’t care, we still didn’t watch any games, but by golly we had our shirts to wear on spirit days and people left us the hell alone about it. (Auburn had the added benefit, for me, of being the preferred team of my A#1 Crush at the time, but let’s not examine that too closely…)

Fast forward about ten or eleven years, to when my brother was applying to colleges- he dutifully applied to both Auburn and Alabama, and in the end Alabama gave him more money. And boom, my nominally-fans-of-Auburn family became Alabama fans. But what is strange is that we became genuine fans. Perhaps moreso, in the beginning, for my mom and brother, but when I married Nathan I came over the actually caring part of being a fan (although the twelve-year-old in me is still horrified that we have betrayed A#1 Crush…) (which is very likely a factor in why I still root for Auburn every day but the Iron Bowl…).

So there’s the history of my Fanhood. Which leads us to today, when Nathan and I got to go, for the first time ever, to an Alabama football game. My boss (a huge Auburn fan, himself) worked with a friend of his to get me tickets, and then gave me the day off to boot. How sweet is that? Pretty dang sweet. My boss is excellent. My original plan had been to surprise Nathan with them, but I ended up telling him about a month ago so that he could ensure the day off (obviously Thursday is not a typical day for a college football game). But he was still really happy and excited, which was the point (he’s been a life-long fan and never gotten to go).

Kickoff wasn’t until 1830, but we drove out there super early to take some photos and such. I’d asked my brother for his recommendations for where to eat lunch, and although he gave me a few he suggested I’d be better off asking one of his friends that still lives there. So I harassed said friend on FB, and he directed us to Wilhagan’s. I had hoped he could join us for beer and catching up, but he was unable to get away from work… ah well, maybe next time. Anyway, we took his advice and holy cow- the food there was amazing. I hate a blue-cheese burger which was one of the best I’ve ever had, and Nathan had a pork shank platter that impressed even me. It had some sort of sauce on it that is probably illegal in some states, it was that good. And he topped it off with an oatmeal stout, which he deemed "tasty". So we rolled out of there fat, happy, and full of enough calories to carry us through to game time.

We spent the next four hours wandering around campus, taking photos and reminiscing about college and just being happy to be off work and together. Then we headed back over to the stadium so we could watch the players do their little pre-game-strut, and I will admit it was pretty exciting even for non-obsessive me to see the young men I’ve been cheering so hard for over the past few years. Plus Coach Saban. Oh my yes, Coach Saban.



We were pretty foot-sore by that time, so we headed on up to our seats, which were admittedly nose-bleeders. But here’s the thing- once we were up there I realized they were actually pretty great seats, because we could see everything, and we were sheltered from the wind and rain (there wasn’t any rain, but it did threaten a bit). And then our seat-neighbors showed up and turned out to be very nice people that we chatted extensively with. We were a great curiosity to the group in that corner, since we obviously were not the regulars…

The game itself was great to watch- I’d thought it would be really hard for me to tell what the heck was going on without slow-mo-replay all the time, but I actually followed it quite well. And the lack of “color commentary” was just about the sweetest experience I’ve ever had. I wish every game was like that.

I must say, I was quite proud of Georgia State, playing against Bama in the inaugural season. Nathan points out that they got lots of money to do it, but whatever- I completely cheered when they made their touch-down. I was so happy for them! What fantastic stories they’ll be able to tell someday (because quite frankly a 97-yard kick return touchdown is pretty freakin' impressive any way you slice it). The fans near us were very amused by my wanting GSU to score at least once, and I even got them to admit that it would be okay. So see- I have gone out in the world and spread the gospel of the non-dickish fan. Join me, brethren…

That being said, I’m glad we won. And I’m glad we got to see our 3rd and 4th string guys play. We had a wonderful time, and it was so exciting to be there, and I would definitely go to another one… although I’d prefer a slightly earlier kick-off, since I was falling asleep on the ride home. Poor Nathan.



NaNoWriMo in the Machine

I did write today, oh yes I did (even broke 40k, go me), but nothing I feel like excerpting. Which means- you guessed it! Blogging time!

...except I don't feel like I have much to write about. Other than the fact that holy crap! November is halfway gone! Yikes! I need to press "submit" on a couple of my online shopping carts, you know? Not to mention get to work on the craftier items on my list...

I guess I could talk about music. More specifically, I could talk about Music I Listen to While Writing. Obviously it is, to a certain extent, genre and mood dependent, but there are a few things in my library that function well regardless of what I'm working on. Those are the things that get put on my "Writing" play list, and they include the likes of James Horner (man, especially friggin' Braveheart) and the chanting of Benedictine Monks which I have suddenly discovered is actually Gregorian chants so you learn something every friggin' day. Man, suddenly I feel dumb.


Where was I? Oh right, music.

You know what? No. My mind is just too blown by the fact that Benedictines chant it up Gregorian style. I need to go rock back an forth in a corner for a while... maybe even for the full five hours until Nathan gets back...



Do you know what's just fabulous for bulking up your word-count? Clothing description. Oh hells yes. This is another "gone-back-and-added-in" scene. Originally I had Sera running around in a plain white shift for, like, 3/4 of the novel, but I decided she needs something slightly more sensible. The theory behind this outfit is that Sivon knows what's to come, and wants her to have decent garb to travel in. This thing looks wispy, but it's actually quite tough and- best of all!- totally stain-resistant. Yep, the Immortals have access to some totally awesome fabrics... Also, I just realized I forgot to throw in the description of the shoes, which is thrilling because I can totally use that to help bulk up tomorrow's word count. My goal is to break 40k tomorrow, and it would be really nice if I could hit 41k. I don't expect to be able to do much writing on Thursday or over the weekend, sooo... write while you can!


“I have revised my early opinion about your attire,” Sivon said as they moved through the paper-hallways of her home. Sera glanced down at her silk shift, wondering if it was going to be exchanged for a skirt and necklace like Sivon’s. She hoped not.

“That is to say,” Sivon continued, “I retain my opinion that you are lovely just as you are, but I believe that for Court you might feel comfortable in something just a little less unadorned. We Immortals do love to dress up for one another, even as we sacrifice some of our more personal preferences’ for fashion’s sake.” Sera remembered the stiff robe Sivon had briefly appeared in, and how Dramen had suddenly worn a shirt. Apparently one did not go topless at Court, regardless of one’s status or gender.

“As such,” Sivon led her into a brightly-lit room. “I have had something sewn for you, and I would like for you to try it on and either approve or disapprove.”

“Alright,” said Sera, still feeling nervous about what Sivon’s personal taste might put her in. As though she could read her thoughts (and Sera wasn’t entirely certain she couldn’t), Sivon smiled reassuringly and gestured to a servant.

“Here,” she said as the woman stepped forward with a neatly folded bundle of white. “See if this will not suit you.”

Sera took the bundle with a nod of thanks, and retreated behind a screen to change clothing. The new items were made of the same fine material as her shift, which was itself the finest she had ever worn. But these clothes- she stepped out again and found that two servants were holding up a mirror for her to see herself in.

The design for the outfit had obviously had its origins in what she had once worn in her home village: a loose blouse paired with a corset and a long skirt. But there the resemblance ended; rather than the daughter of a prosperous artisan, she looked like a romantic’s concept of a shipwrecked princess. Everything was white on white, right down to the wave-patterned embroidery of the corset, which was really more like an extremely low-cut vest than the simple waist-cincher she was used to. The short sleeves of the blouse had been artfully shredded, so that they did not do much to cover her shoulders, but did float about charmingly with every little breeze. There were two belts that crossed her hips like sword-belts, each sewn with four pouches; the material was very sturdy, like suede, so she knew she could carry heavy things without fear of them tearing off- but she had no idea what she was expected to carry. The skirt was made up of dozens of sheer panels sewn together until mid-thigh, where they suddenly swirled free in a manner that would allow her legs to show when she walked. The skirt, like the sleeves, appeared purposefully and attractively tattered.

The effect was surprisingly ethereal, and Sera stared at her reflection for long moments.

“I should look silly in this,” she finally said, “But I don’t.”

“No, you don’t. You look as though you’ve been cast adrift, which is as I intended. I want those who have not yet chosen a side to feel compassion for the poor, brave mortal, so far out of her element.”

“Brave, am I?” Sera thought of the heaviness that manifested in her belly any time either sibling mentioned the nightingale queen. Sivon looked her in the eye and raised a single brow.

“How many mortals do you know that dare to consort with Immortals? Let alone venture to one of the Sidereal Courts!”

“I suppose that’s true.” Seral looked back at her reflection. She may not feel brave, but at least she could look it. For Dramen she could do anything.


You Can't Handle the NaNo!

It is a lazy day, as far as writing goes. I churned out maybe five-hundred words today (okay, more if you remember that I deleted some, too) but I honestly just wasn't really feeling it. So, with Nathan's encouragement, I decided to be all slacky about it after work(s), and read a book instead of writing on one. It was nice.

I'm missing Nathan. Shocking, I know. But I'm missing him extra-specially much not on my own behalf so much as on his. He's had a rotten couple of days, and I hate that he's away from home. I mean, I hate that his days have sucked regardless of his location, but I especially hate that I'm not around to help make it better.

Is there anything worse than not being able to "make it better" for someone you love? I don't think there is. It's especially terrible to have all these lovely, vengeance-demon plans and know that even if you enacted them, it still wouldn't really fix things. Satisfying and fun, perhaps, but not worth much in the long run. Ugh, stupid spiritual maturation ruins everything (keeping in mind that I use the term "maturation" as an ongoing verb, not an attained noun).

Meh. I'ma get back to reading my book now, where I can be certain that the villains will be punished, and the good guys live happily ever after. And everyone's hat will mark them accordingly.


Here We NaNo Again

Today was a low-key day for me- Nathan is back on the road and I was feeling at loose ends. That's not to say there weren't things to work on and do (there were and I did), but I just wasn't particularly motivated to go above and beyond today. As such I brought my word-count up over 36k and didn't strive for any more- although I probably could have. I wasn't really tired of writing, or out of ideas or anything... I just didn't feel any particular need to carry on.

Instead I played with my hoop! (That picture is actually from yesterday, but whatever...) I've neglected it for far, far too long, and as such I am rusty to the point of being pissed off at myself (you know how it goes- you used to be able to do "that one thing", but now your body isn't used to it and you're left being frustrated with how everything is awkward now, in spite of your perfect mental image of you being able to do it in the past). But I put a couple of hours of swearing into it today and it's starting to be fun again. And I found a couple of classes here in the Ham, so I'm thinking it's time to get some instruction beyond YouTube, you know? First one I can go to is this upcoming Friday... wheee!

No excerpt tonight, because I don't feel like opening my netbook back up. Maybe tomorrow. I may just get insano and strive to break 40k. Although maybe not, since I'm teaching two classes tomorrow night... hmmm, we'll see how the schedule works out...

PS I baked cookies. Good times. Also, I'm pretty sure it's time for new tattoos...


The Rise of NaNoWriMo

Wow, what a great day for writing! Doing that world-building yesterday was just what I needed to release the word-dam, I guess. My official NaNo word count for the day is about 3200, but it's actually closer to about 3600, because I also took out about 400 previously-written words.

I'm doing what I'd mentioned yesterday- working more story back in to the earlier parts of the novel. It's actually pretty fantastic, because I have a better grip on my characters now than I did when I first started, so I think that's why it's flowing easier now. That or the stars have aligned just right, or whatever. Maybe my muse found a hidden stash of chocolate? Anyway I'm taking advantage of it while it's around...

Today's excerpt comes from before Sera even left her village to start her apprenticeship. I wanted to show the reader more examples of the way she was before she ended up a priestess, rather than just relying on the "telling" that I was using before.

PS (It might strike you as inappropriate for a 21-year-old to flirt with a 15-year-old like I show here. To which I say, "Yeah- that's kind of part of the point.")


...in the meantime she had a mind to head over to her father’s dye shop and see what was going on there. He had a first-year journeyman named Evern that Sera found particularly intriguing; he had come all the way from the capital to their small village just to study southern dye methods with her father, and he always had wonderful stories to tell. It would be difficult to say if Sera was more fond of his stories or of his dark blue eyes and deep dimple, but she was determined to find out.

Her father was nowhere to be seen when she entered the smelly sanctum of the dye shop, but Evern was up to his elbows in indigo dye- literally. Sera started laughing as soon as she saw him.

“What on earth happened?”

“Sera!” The young man’s expression was rueful. “Just exactly the person I was hoping would catch me looking foolish.” She immediately felt bad for laughing hurried over to him.

“What can I do to help you?”

“Hide me from your father?”

“Evern, if I had any skill at that I wouldn’t have so many memories of a tender posterior!”

“Now there’s an image,” he grinned, and Sera felt herself flush. Evern was much better at flirting than she was- all the more reason to spend time around him.

“Oh hush, or I won’t help you at all.”

“Might be worth it- tell me, when your cheeks flush like that, do they bear any resemblance to-“


“Sorry, sorry- sometimes I forget how young and innocent you are.” Sera sniffed at this and walked over to a bolt of raw fabric.

“I’m not that young. Or that innocent.”

“Of course you're not, princess. You know how it is, you hit twenty-one and you feel like you’re a jaded old man who’s seen all there is…”

“Old man indeed! You’re absolutely full of silliness this morning. Will this work to soak up some of that dye?” Evern eyed the cloth.

“I was going to experiment on that, but I may as well use it for this.”

“You could always tell father you’re pioneering a new method of dye application.” She cut off a large swath and handed it to him.

“Hand-dying, as it were? Clever girl. I mean, clever young lady!” He winked at her and began wiping off as much of the liquid as he could. Unfortunately it couldn’t do anything for what had already stained his skin. Sera stifled another giggle.

“You look like you got both of your arms trapped in a sheet of ice.”

“Yes it is rather noticeable, isn’t it?” he sighed, scrubbing at his wrist. He held out the cloth and they both considered the oddly patterned smears.

“You could probably make something out of that,” she said thoughtfully. “Maybe a panel on a bodice, done with embroidery to highlight the swirls…”

“That’s not such a bad idea,” he said. “I should get you to come to market with us, act as a salesgirl.”

“Oh no,” she laughed. “You’re not tricking me into becoming an apprentice to my father.”

“He’s a good Master,” Evern protested. “And I’m not just saying that because you’re his daughter and might tell on me.”

“I wouldn’t do that!” She stuck her tongue out at him. “I know my father is a good Master- he’s a good father, too- but I’m not apprenticing with him or anyone in this village. If I have my way, I’m going to get as far away from here as possible.”

“Why? What’s so wrong with here?”

“It’s boring here!”

“It is?” He sounded amused.

“Well not to you, obviously- you’ve only been here a few months so things are still new and interesting because they’re so different from your home. But I’ve been here my entire life- and I’m ready for something different!”

“Maybe you’ll go to the capital? I could give you a good word. What do you want to do?” Sera shrugged.

“Your stories of the capital make it sound wonderful but… it’s still too close.”

“Too close? It’s a three week ride!”

“Too close,” she said stubbornly. Evern laughed, and then stepped closer to her, causing her heart to jump.

“When do you turn sixteen, Sera?” His deep blue eyes were suddenly very serious.

“Early summer,” she said, proud that her voice stayed steady.

“And you’ll be off as soon as you may, I assume?” He moved closer still, and she could feel his warm breath on her skin.

“Yes,” it came out a whisper. Her heart was racing faster than a bird’s.

“Well then I’d better do this before I lose my chance.” He leaned forward and she tilted her mouth up to meet his. Her blood felt like it was boiling, and when their lips touched it exploded in her veins.

“A-hem.” Sera stepped back quickly, her face bright red. One of the second-year apprentices was standing in the doorway with a pail. It was Fenna, and she looked rather amused.

“Good thing I’m not the Master,” the older girl said with a raised eyebrow. “Because I can’t imagine what would make him angrier- the waste of good indigo dye, or the liberties being taken with his daughter.”

“He didn’t take any liberties!” snapped Sera, her blood now boiling for an entirely different reason. “If anything I took liberties from him!”

Fenna laughed. “Is that so? Well good for you, then, sweetie. Now, why don’t you run along before you get poor Evern thrown out in the streets for idleness.”

“Father wouldn’t get rid of Evern!” Sera said, but she took another step away from him. He, in turn, had grown a little pale, although the grin he gave her was as charming as ever.

“Of course he wouldn’t, Sera. But all the same…”

“I was going anyway,” she sniffed with a glance toward Fenna. “I’m sorry about your liberties,” she said to Evern.

“I’m not,” he whispered, and winked.

Sera left the dye shop with a smile.


The Bridge to NaNoWriMo

Let's talk world-building, peeps.

Last night as Nathan and I were driving down for our friend's 30th birthday party I started grousing about my novel. Primarily I was complaining that I need more excitement, because right now it's mostly about feelings and as we all know, feelings are boring.

No, seriously- feelings are important and yes this is meant to be a book about the emotional maturation of my characters but still- feelings without adventure are boooooring. Or at the very least not the sort of book I would want to read, so why subject my readers to it? Not to mention the fact that if I ever want Nathan to actually read it, I have to provide some entertaining action. Which I feel is fair.

Anyway I was saying that the main problem was that I needed to put Sera into a life-threatening situation, but I didn't want it to be something stupid like a natural disaster; I wanted it to be someone trying to kill her, but I have no conflict! Nooo conflict, gentle readers. Beyond the feelings. No wonder there was boredom on the horizon!

So Nathan combined his giant brain with my brain concentrate, and we sparked up a few ideas about the conflict coming from my already handily-established Immortals. And today I sat down and pounded out about 1500 words of getting-it-straight-in-my-head, which I have streamlined for your reading convenience! I also wrote about 800 words on the novel, but honestly I've gotten to a point where I need to go back and rewrite/expand large swaths before I can go forward any more. Seriously- I have to incorporate what I figured out today in terms of EXCITING CONFLICT! before I can go anywhere else.

I asked my writer's group if they thought it would be fair to count my world-building as part of my word-count for the day, and was told (paraphrased) "Absolutely yes!" "Absolutely no!" "That's your call!" Ah, my helpful compatriots... in the end I'm opting not to use it, because I'm just kind of strict with myself that way. I do feel that I could use it- I wouldn't fault anyone for doing so- but I'm far enough ahead that it'll be okay even if I don't. And if I manage to refine it enough to work into my story over the next few days then it won't really matter, anyway, because those words will be in there, one way or another.

Now, as promised, the streamlined version of what I came up with:

(PS Spoilers, obviously)


The Celestial Courts consist of Four Courts, roughly aligned with the elements:

(in descending age/order of power)

Empyrean (Fire/"Radiant Court")- mythological creatures, Dragon Regents
Welkin (Air/"Feathered Court")- birds, Phoenix Regents
Hyetal (Water/"Court of Scales")- fish, Sea Serpent Regents
Alluvium (Earth/"Court of Skins")- land-bound animals, Unicorn Regents

(There are some monarchs that cross between courts [bats , dolphins, etc].)

The gods are never seen in the story- they are not prone to blatant interference the way Immortals are, preferring to subtly manipulate natural events and seeming coincidence- but the immortals are aware and afraid of them, for they are their makers and their power absolute.

Most of the Immortals have “gifts” unique to them (ie Sivon’s ability to See truth, Dramen’s manipulation of perception, Aniqi’s luck) in addition to the standard immortal powers (telepathy, teleportation, agelessness, command of their animal subjects).


Unnamed gods create the world, and then the Empyrean Court (sets of mated twins) to watch over it. An epoch goes by and the Empyrean Court is super-bored with looking after the world, so they create the Elder Immortals of the three lesser Courts (Welkin, Hyetal, Alluvium) to correspond with various mortal creatures. They, too, are created in mated pairs, but not twinned. Some of the Elder Immortals get pissed off that they’re just expected to do the Empyreans’ work for them, so they rebel, lose, and are cast down to become mortal humans. One of them is the oldest of the Welkin Court, the Seagull King, and when he falls his mate (the Seagull Queen) goes mad with grief and follows him to the mortal realms. The remaining Elder Immortals set about creating the Younger Immortals from their own essence (hence Dramen is Sivon’s “younger brother”) to replace those who fell (replace their numbers, not their roles). The Younger Immortals are created singley, without mates. The Empyrean-natured rotate stints as Regents for each of the Lesser Courts (hence the Phoenix Regents currently rule over the Welkin Court) to keep the Lesser Immortals in line. In a bit of known-only-to-them-logic, they use a bit of the mad Seagull Queen to create a Lesser Immortal in place of her and her husband (Storm Petrel).

Because Petrel was made from a flawed source, rather than being most powerful of the Lesser Immortals (as she should be as eldest of eldest), she is much diminished in powers and a bit cracked mentally, to boot. Her lack of power makes her insanely jealous of all the other Younger Immortals- especially Dramen, whom she feels has usurped her rightful place as first among the Younger Immortals, and who doesn’t display any sort of gratitude for his gifts. She becomes a mage in an attempt to augment her powers, and when Dramen breaks Nightingale’s heart she helps Nightingale craft the curse that will essentially rob Dramen of his power and influence.

Eventually Dramen brings Sera (a mortal descendent of the Seagull King) to the Welkin Court, which attracts the attention of the mad Seagull Queen (in permanent bird form). When Sera flees the court and is caught in a killing storm of Petral’s creation, SQ rescues her and takes her back to the mortal realms, where she remains as her companion (because being around Sera helps SQ feel better). Eventually SQ regains enough sanity to want to transfer her essence to Sera- essentially killing herself, but leaving someone whole and sane to watch over her people as a new, Elevated Immortal.

In the meantime Sera and Dramen are beginning to fall really and truly in love, which will break Dramen’s curse. So Dramen is on the verge of getting his powers back and there is a potential Elevated in the lineup- someone to receive the power Petrel believes is hers by right. This infuriates her, and because she doesn’t understand the nature of love (that it is not dependent upon being alive) she looks to kill two birds with one stone (hah!) by killing Sera.

What’s up Conflict.


So, one last time, to clarify- the older the Immortal, the closer in essence they are to the gods, and therefore the more powerful they are. (Also the less concerned with the doings of the mortal realms.) So, in descending order of power (with helpful "class labels"!)

Empyrean Court (Oro/Ara)
Elder Immortals (Sivon and her mate Irroc)
Younger Immortals (Dramen)
Mortals (descendants of fallen Elder Immortals)

Then there are the wild-cards, the Elevated Immortals (Robin). By and large they are the least powerful of all the Immortals, because they are formerly-human rather than created.


NaNoWriMo and a Half

I am grumpy this evening because I went to go update my word-count on the NanoSite (broke 30k tonight) but apparently I was set on Eastern time, so it was showing me as having written five-hundred words "today" (that being tomorrow). Well I got huffy (I like my charts and graphs!) so I went in and updated my time zone to the correct Central time (now that I think about it, I think the damn thing just didn't switch over for daylight savings) and now it's just sort of eaten my word count! Oh, it still says I'm over 30k on my little banner, but my "NaNo Stats" graph is stubbornly staying on the last number I entered this afternoon (which was embarrassingly below the daily minimum). Grrrr! I demand accuracy!


I'm up waaaaay too late. But Nathan is home, so it's all going to be okay.


“Sera, I’m still cursed.” He said it aloud, trying it out. “Sera, the curse was never broken. I’ve never found true love.” He dropped into a crouch and put his head in his hands.

“Maybe I’ll never find true love.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” said Sivon. He lifted his face to look up at his sister, who was wearing an expression he could not read. He was in too much turmoil to yell at her for intruding- and what’s more, he didn’t even know that he actually wanted to. It was… good to see her again.

“Will you tell me what you’ve seen?” He knew he sounded pitiful, pleading- but he did not care. Sivon smiled and lowered herself in a graceful seat next to him.

“I have seen a king who has been taking a much-needed break from his relentless pursuit of love. And I have seen him smile, which I have not seen in far too long.”

“That’s not what I meant,”

“I know.”

“Of course you do.” Dramen sighed and lay back until he was propped up on his elbows.

“Dramen- I think it is good for you to spend time in the temple by the sea.”

“But it’s not doing me any good in terms of finding my true love.”

“I think it is helping to turn you into someone who can find true love.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means forget about true love for a while, Dramen." She gestured at him with an elegant hand and continued, "How long have you stalked it like a starving wolf, hoping to force it out of hiding with your howling? That is not how love works; you cannot compel it to do anything, much less appear. I would have thought you’d have learned that lesson four years ago.”

Dramen felt himself flush, but he remembered the calm acceptance he saw on Sera’s face, and bit back angry words.

“Maybe a more intelligent person would have learned it at the time," he admitted, "but I guess it just takes longer for things to sink into my skull.” Sivon reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind his ear.

“Listen to me, little brother. Go back to the temple and just be for a while.”

“But Sera…” he trailed off, not certain how to explain.

“Has become your friend.”

“…yes, I suppose she has.”

“And you feel bad lying to her.”


“So tell her the truth.”

“All of it?”

“As much as is appropriate.”

“And how much is that?”

“That I cannot tell you that; every person must work that balance out for themselves.”


NaNoWriMo and the Quest for the Goblet of Doom

I have been queasy off and on all day. Bleh. On the upside, I dyed my hair this evening, so that should be a pleasant surprise for Nathan when he gets home tomorrow morning. Speaking of my handsome husband, check out his picture for today: Middle America. I like it!

I'm about a hair's breadth over 28,000 words now, and I have to say- I have no idea where on earth I'm going to get enough words to get me to 50,000. I think I am going to have to go back and bulk up scenes I've already written.

Wait, have I already talked about that on here? Ugh, I don't know. All this writing is starting to blend together in my brain...

(this excerpt takes place years after the last one, so don't imagine it's like the next morning or something...)


A few days later, when Sera left the temple to greet the rising sun, she found Dramen standing next to a pile of sticks.

“What is that?” she asked.

“Firewood. I noticed you were running low.”

“Well… thank you, Dramen. That’s actually very thoughtful of you.”

“Don’t sound so surprised,” he said dryly.

“Sorry. I guess it’s not fair of me to expect that I’m the only one who’s changed.”

“What do you mean by that?” He followed her as she grabbed an armful of the sticks and began to climb the spiraling steps up the side of her little light tower. “I brought you gifts when we were together!”

“Well yes, you did,” she said slowly, “but they tended to be more the sort of gifts that made you look like a generous giver. You never, ever would have brought me something so unglamorous as sticks.”

“You don’t like them?” he sounded wounded. She shook her head as they reached the top platform, where she threw the sticks down next to the fire pit.

“It’s not about whether or not I like them, Dramen- I needed them. And you saw that, and you brought them to me. Which is what makes them a much nicer gift than, say, a gold bracelet.”


“It’s a change for the better, Dramen,” she smiled at him before turning to face the east. “Be glad."


Return to NaNoWriMo!

This is a portion of the story I did not know existed until yesterday. And yesterday I didn't even know what the story was, just that the stranger had shown up. I argued with him- I pointed out that there was no need for him, and I didn't even know what he was up to, and probably I should just erase that introductory scene- but he didn't care. He needed to be there, doing whatever the hell it was he was doing to the tree (we argued about that, too). So I left him, and today I discovered a portion of his story.

This passage is very important, I think, although I'm still not entirely certain why. And I know in my bones that the stranger will pop back up later in the novel; his influence on events is not complete. And I feel it is fairly likely that I will write his story at a later date- although I will probably not put it in the novel. Not everything has to be, you know. Anyway, I hope you like this, because I actually do...


One evening a young man appeared, barefoot, at her temple; he was very good looking, with skin darkened and hair lightened by the sun. He had very white teeth, and freckles, but he didn’t look as cheerful as the lighter lines around his hazel eyes suggested he was. Sera felt a flutter deep in her belly that she had not felt in a long time.

Like the first pilgrim that had come, the man said nothing, but walked up to the altar and placed a small bundle there. Then he went out on the sand, laid down, and went to sleep. Sera thought sadly that it would be a shame when he went away in the morning. He was very nice to look at.

But he didn’t go away in the morning. When Sera woke not long after dawn she found him dragging a large tree from the woods down to the beach. Curious, she walked over to him and watched in silence as he began stripping it of its foliage. Still he said nothing, and for some reason, neither did she. Finally she turned and walked back to the temple. People had their own reasons for what they did. If his demons wanted him to denude a tree on the beach, and it wasn’t harming her or anyone else, who was she to interfere?

She brought him baked fish for lunch.


As it turned out, he wasn’t just destroying trees- he was carving a boat. At first Sera just sat and watched, but eventually her desire to contribute overcame her, and, with a questioning look, she picked up one of the metal chisels he had and began helping him carve out the interior. Still he did not speak- but he also did not stop her. Days went by with the two of them sitting side by side in silence, slowly bringing the boat into existence.

Once the vessel’s rough shape had taken form, the stranger began using more delicate tools, finer strokes. Sera did not feel qualified to help with this, so instead she began weaving together a great long garland of sea glass and rope, to decorate the sides of the boat. It was intricate work, and she finished about the same time he did, so that when he began to smooth the entire thing with sand, she was able to help once more.

It was a gorgeous thing, when it was finished- dark umber and gleaming in the setting sun. Sera carefully attached her creation to the prow and felt satisfied with the contrast. She turned toward the temple, but was halted by the sound of a splash. When she looked back, the stranger was starting to push the boat into the water.

She didn’t know what to do- what to say. She hadn’t spoken a single word to him this entire time- what right had she to do so now? But she wanted him to stay.

As though he could feel her eyes on him, the stranger paused. The boat was still grounded; he walked away from it and back toward Sera. They stared into one another’s eyes for a long time, and Sera thought that for the first time he looked as though he might have found some peace. He laid a rough hand on her cheek and smiled.

“Thank you, Lady,” he said, and kissed her very softly on the mouth. Then he returned to his boat, and pushed it into the surf.

Numb, Sera returned to the temple. She sat in front of the altar for a long time, staring at the little flame she worked so hard to keep lit. Finally, she noticed the little cloth bundle the stranger had brought when he first arrived, all those days ago. Not caring if it was sacrilege, Sera reached forward and removed it from the altar.

The material was very soft, and very fine, the sort of thing a woman might use for her wedding dress. As Sera unwound it and discovered a bit of traditional fertility embroidery, she felt certain that is what the length had originally been part of. Finally the fabric was laid open, and she could see what it had protected.

It was a pair of carefully knitted boots, each no longer than Sera’s thumb.

She covered her face and wept.


Rehab? NaNoNoNo...

I wrote over two-thousand words on the "novel" today, and I am not kidding when I tell you that not a single paragraph was worth excerpting for your reading pleasures tonight. Reading discomfort, perhaps, but who am I to contribute to squirmitude when the world provides so much of it, naturally?

I'm waiting for Nate to post his picture, to see if it will be something I can write about. He's in Milwaukee (not spelled with an "i"- who knew?) this week, which means I am Missing Him, but it's alleviated by watching episodes of Psych together. Gods bless NetFlix streaming, eh?

I'm listening to my friend Kat's radio show (every Monday night from 6pm-8pm, Pacific Time!) and she's playing "Portland music" (at the moment it's the Decemberists "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect", which is one of my favorites) and it's making me ache with longing for my rain-swept kingdom. I miss the land, I miss the people- I'm glad we're heading back there in the quasi-near future.

Holy Guacamole! Nate just posted his picture and it's pretty much awesome. Go look, go look! And then look at this one from January, and just try telling me we aren't going to produce green-eyed babies. And then look at this one from March, because tee hee! Kitty!

I'm wishing I had some chocolate. And perhaps a point to this entry. But I suppose neither is particularly essential. Time for more Psych!


NaNoWriMo Writes Again!

I buckled down and churned out a little over 4000 words today, which brings my total up over 22k. Keep on truckin', right? Right. My shoulder hurts...

Anyway the best part of today's writing was the introduction of a new character I didn't even realize existed: the fox queen. But she does exist, and she's terribly fun to write, and I'm glad she decided to make herself known. And I think it likely she will shove her way back into the story at a later point, as well... so there's that to look forward to, if nothing else.


The food arrived and Aniqi plucked a few grapes and began walking them over and under her fingers, a look of consideration on her face. Finally she flicked them into her mouth, one after another.

“Alright, Dramen. I am going to save us a bit of bother. You want something from me, and as much as I’d enjoy making you squirm for it, or laugh while you fail to steal it, I’m actually in the middle of a crisis amongst my people, and I don’t have time for games. So why don’t you tell me what it is you want, and I’ll tell you whether or not you can have it, and we will play our games another time.”

Dramen sucked in a breath. This was entirely unlike Aniqi. She never did anything straightforward that she could come at from the side. It made him highly suspicious, and for a moment he considered telling her he wanted something completely unrelated to the ring. Aniqi smiled at him as though she could read his thoughts. Damn her, thought Dramen. If I tell her something else she’s sure to give that to me, just to be perverse. Better to take the chance she’s being sincere, and just come back and steal it later, if I have to.

“A ring,” he said at last. “I believe you have a ring that I would like to borrow.”

“A ring?” she sounded delighted. “Dramen, I never knew you shared your people’s affection for shiny objects!”

“This ring has… powers,” he said. “It would let my spirit walk free from my corporeal body.”

“Ah,” suddenly her eyes narrowed and looked cunning. “A spirit you could shape as you willed, and speak through. Such a ring would allow you to… bend the conditions of your curse.”

“Perhaps to the breaking point,” Dramen said grimly.

Yesss…” Aniqi bared her pointed teeth. “A cheat! Oh my old friend, I will certainly help you cheat.” She snapped her fingers and a servant appeared.

“Bring me my jewelry box,” she said, and the man bowed and walked out.

“I am not giving you this thing for free, mind you,” she warned Dramen. “You will owe me a boon.”

“Of course,” Dramen inclined his head, trying to hide his excitement. “A cheat for a cheat, perhaps?”

“Perhaps. It will take time to think up an appropriate payment, I think. But I have faith you will give value for value. Ah, here we are!” the servant had returned with a plain wooden box. No- not plain… Dramen looked more closely at it and realized it was inlayed with thousands of tiny pieces of wood, laid out in such a way as to appear like a larger grain. It was breathtaking. Aniqi stuck her hand in the box and rummaged for a big.

“Hmmm… no, no, no… maybe… possibly… definitely not…” and finally pulled out three different rings.

“It’s one of these,” she said carelessly, “But for the life of me I can’t remember which one. Maybe you can figure it out.”

Dramen stared at the rings in her palm, knowing this was actually a test. Aniqi would certainly agree with whatever he chose, regardless of truth, just to be difficult. One was made of gold and silver woven together, the next of carved jade, and the final was the gaudiest, ugliest thing he’d ever seen, covered in a variety of bright, cheap gemstones. It looked like the sort of thing a child might build for himself from tin scraps. Dramen sighed and reached for that one. Aniqi laughed.

“King of crows indeed!” she said.

“I just have the feeling that somewhere is a god or a mage laughing about how some fool is going to have to wear this monstrously ugly thing in order to take advantage of its powers. It’s something I would do.”

“As would I- that’s how I knew to steal it from the mortal I acquired it from. No thief in their right mind would have stolen such a cheap-looking thing.”

“Good thing you’re not in your right mind then, eh?”




At least, no excerpt. I did the absolute bare minimum today, because it's been a busy day full of travel, and I am actually headed to bed early, since Nathan is leaving in the morning (insert sad face here). Also, I'm reaching a part in the story that I thought I'd be skipping over, except apparently not. So the writing has become tooth-pulling-like. Blargh.

Anyway, we drove up to visit Nathan's grandparents today, because it was his grandfather's 94th birthday. I haven't spent a lot of time around them- until now I've only ever seen them in the context of Family Gatherings. Keeping in mind, of course, that the smallest of Nate's family gatherings is like thirty people. Minimum. Not counting kids. Seriously, it's insane. But my point is that in these gatherings there is so much going on that Grandma and Grampa Richey don't really say much. They just sort of sit in their respective recliners and beam at us all. Which means I hadn't ever heard them say much.

Today, however, we had a good long stretch of having them to ourselves, and I discovered to my delight that they're actually quite talkative. I got Grandma Richey to tell me the story of how they first met (I am a sucker for that sort of thing) which I may use for fodder in a later story.

But now? Now it's bedtime.



A NaNo Bit of This, A NaNo Bit of That

Let's do things a little backward today, and start out with a photo:


If this were any other month, I would totally bust out a narrative for that. But it's not any other month, it's this month, and even tho I only did about 2200 words on the story today, that's all I have in me (aside from this stream-of-consciousness stuff, obviously).

You'll be pleased to hear that Kahnji is settling in nicely- he is now officially a certifiably healthy "it", and moreover is apparently loving the new digs. Yay, I did a thing that didn't suck!

I'm hoping I'll pump the word count back up this weekend- but here is a small smackeral of what I did today...

(Oh, just to clarify that I'm not getting crazy with the typos, Oro and Ara are twins, male and female respectively.)


“Nightingale,” said Oro sternly. “Here is Dramen with his true love, just as you required of him. Will you not break the curse?”

“There is no need for me to break the curse,” Nightingale said, eyes glinting in a way that made Sera want to hide. “It will break itself when the conditions are met.”

“They are met!” cried Sera. “I love him, and he loves me, and we are here before the Court, declaring it!”

“See, Nightingale,” said Ara approvingly. “True love. Most wonderful.”

“Dramen has always been a liar,” spat Nightingale. “Even to himself.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Demanded Dramen. Sera dug her nails into the palm of her hand to keep from striking out at the mage.

“It means love is not so easily recognized as we might wish it. It is a deceiver, just like Dramen has always been. It means maybe we should ask the only one among us with clear vision what the truth is.”

Oro turned his gaze to Sivon, whose face had gone still as a mask.

“Well, raven queen? What is the truth? Are they in love? True love?”

Sivon gave Sera look of sorrow, and Sera felt her blood run cold. Finally Sivon turned away from them all and said in a wooden voice.

“They are not.”

What?” choked Dramen, whirling to face his sister.

“It is infatuation,” Sivon said clearly, still avoiding her brother’s eyes. “For the both of them. A very strong infatuation, but… it is not true love.” And she vanished.

Sera had never felt so betrayed in her life.


A Break From NaNoWriMo

Not in the writing sense- oh no, the word count is up over 13k as we speak- but in the sense that I'm not subjecting you to an excerpt tonight. Instead I'm going to give you a little slice-o-the-O-life. Heh. I like that. You've been warned...

You may remember the photo-tie-in to this entry. If not, you can skip that link and just go straight to this one. See that kitty there? He's been hanging out around our house for months, and I'd started feeding him and such. But he was not my cat, by golly. Sure, I named him Bagheera and brushed him and made sure he had food and water and was going to take him in to get him neutered but he was not. my. cat. Because we absolutely could not afford another friggin' cat with all the vet bills and feeding and destruction to hearth and home. Definitely, 100% not our cat. (You know how that goes). Got it? Good.

Now we turn to a little grey-tabby cat named Kenobi. Kenobi came to live with us (us being the nuclear family of me, my brother, and my mom) when I was about 14 or so. Which would make her about 15 today. Except she isn't 15 today, because she died recently. It was her time, and I'm glad she's in the Summerlands now, where she doesn't have to put up with arthritis, and can jump on any counter she wants. Plus she gets to see Klawtu and Baron again, so that's probably pretty good. But anyway, the point is that because of her moving on, there was a certain cat-shaped hole in the lives of my mom and step-dad.

O to the rescue, my friends. O to the rescue.

We lay in wait for our inky friend, and when he made an appearance (he was gone for a few days and I was starting to worry) we pounced on him, stuffed him in a carrier, and drove him down to Prattville, where we established him in what is probably the best possible place for any cat to live, ever. Seriously. If I die, I want to come back as one of my mom's cats.

Bagheera took it all in stride, and as we left my mom was coming up with a suitable name for him (we name cats with "k" sounds in our family- which is why I gave Bagheera the moniker I did; to reinforce that he was not my cat). The great thing is that she settled on one that leapt into our minds almost simultaneously (always a good sign when naming something). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Khanji (deliberately misspelled for the purposed of calling him Khaaaaaaan!).

Now let's just hope he's as healthy as he seems...


Son of NaNoWriMo!

Day three. I'm up over 10k words now, which is nice. I'm thinking that if I can keep this pace up, I'll maybe let myself go back in and do some editing after week two, just to keep from dying from personal shame... we'll see. In the meantime: excerpt! Woo!


"...Shall I tell you my story?”

“Please do.” She reached out to hold his hand as he began speaking.

“When the world was much younger, and the gods were choosing who would rule in the Sidereal Courts, I was made crow king. This is when the crows were still a beloved people, admired for their beauty and wit. Those were glorious days- full of fun and laughter, and so much love. Everyone loved us, from the young to the old, mortals and immortals alike.

“And therein lay the problem; some loved us too much. Or rather, loved me to much.

“There was a powerful mage- the nightingale queen- who fell so in love with me she would have no other. But when I could not return her love she grew angry, and in her anger she decided to punish me. She worked a magic that keeps me in my crow form whenever I leave the Sidereal Realms, and turned the Court against me. That I might have born- but she also cursed my crows. She turned the hearts and minds of mankind against them, so that all mortals hate and fear my people unjustly. It is for their sake, if not my own, that I have longed to find and be found by my true love.

“And now you have come at last,” he smiled at her.


NaNoWriMo Continues

Day two of NaNoWriMo- I've bled out about 2600 words today, hiking the total up to just over 7200. I'm definitely getting a good backlog built up- I'm sure I'll thank myself later. ^_^ I'll probably write some more before bed (as I did last night), but in the meantime, here's this evening's (painfully unedited) excerpt...


On their way back to the dorm, Sera caught sight of a single crow winging its way across the bay. His reflection mirrored him in the waters below, and she thought wistfully to herself that it was a shame she seemed to be the only person in the world capable of seeing them for the beautiful creatures they were. Her eyes fell back down to the street in front of her- and there was another rose!

“Oh,” she said, and stooped to pick it up. It was a perfect match for the one that was now wilting in her hair. Layclin turned to see what had caught her attention.

“Another one? Good grief, somewhere in this town is a gardener with a very careless apprentice.”

“Oh hush,” said Sera, twirling the bloom against her cheek and smiling. “It was very obviously left specifically for me. Nothing careless about it at all.”

“Oh really?” laughed Layclin. “So now a gardener’s apprentice is in love with you, and hoping you’ll be won over by randomly dropped blossoms?”

“Of course not. Nothing so mundane as that.”

“Oh, of course nothing mundane. A mysterious prince, then? Just passing through Portmont, and utterly taken by the beauty of your finely-stitched cuffs?”

“No, better than a prince. A king.”

“A king?”

“Yes, definitely a king. In fact, I’d say it’s fairly obvious that it’s the crow king himself that’s in love with me.” She wasn’t certain where this pronouncement came from- she was only being silly- but the moment she said it, it felt right.

“The crow king? Sera, you have some seriously weird fantasies. Nobody in their right mind wants the crow king’s attention. May as well kill yourself if you catch that one’s fancy: the end result’s the same.”

Sera just smiled, and tucked the new flower behind her other ear.


NaNoWriMo Begins

NaNoWriMo is off to a brilliant start- I churned out a little over 3000 words today, with the idea that if I build up a backlog while I'm feeling the Muse, it won't cause me a panic attack if I don't feel like writing later on. Anyway, when I sat down to do tonight's blog entry Nathan looked at me like I was crazy and said, "You've already written so much! Just post an excerpt!"

So I am.

(Keep in mind this is totally unedited- the only way I can turn out the high word count necessary for this project is to refrain from going back for any reason. Yeah, we'll see how well that works out...)


Serenity often thought she had been misnamed, which was a large reason why she preferred to be called Sera. She wasn’t entirely certain what her parents had had in mind when they’d burdened her with a name that meant “calm”- if they’d hoped that she would be calm, or that she would bring calm to those around her- but whatever the intention had been, she was pretty sure it had failed. Because if there was anything that Sera embodied, it was restlessness. Which is why when it came for her Apprenticeship Years she had no difficulty choosing to go away for them. It’s true she was a little sad to leave her many friends in the village- but she wasn’t too sad, because deep in her soul she knew it was time and past time for her to move on.

Not that she had any real idea where she was to move on to, or even what. But she knew things would work out. They always did, for her. She had never met a stranger- everyone loved Sera, and she loved everyone. Most of the time. Usually. Anyway everyone was always kind to her and always helped her out, and as such she had a particularly benevolent view of the way the world worked.

Sera never stopped to ponder why people were drawn to her- she just accepted it as her due. But the truth is that while she was pretty enough with her clear skin, wide gray-blue eyes, and dark blonde hair she kept cropped at her chin- she was not, strictly speaking, a great beauty. Her nose was too long and her mouth too wide, her torso too short and her hips too narrow- but some sort of inner force came manifested itself in her smile, in her laugh, and people fell all over themselves to be close to her in a way that they did not for some of the more traditionally beautiful girls. Sera was just- charming. And she was charming with very little effort on her part.