Martyrs And Thieves: Part 2

Hey friends! Welcome to part two of my serial novel, Martyrs and Thieves. In case you forgot what happened in Part One, here it is. And for your reading pleasure (remember it’s being drafted on the fly, and forgive me my mistakes), here is Part Two.

 

Vivian stepped around the shelves. “Who are you? What do you want?”

The man standing in the doorway was tall and lean. He shouldn’t have been noteworthy. If he’d turned around and left the room, no one would have remembered his features clearly enough to describe him to someone else. He wore a suit the color of deep twilight and his posture was relaxed as if he hardly noticed the stares.

“The labs are open, aren’t they? I might just be here to watch and observe.”

“But you’re not.” Vivian glanced back, but both Saul and her dad were still silent. “And the labs aren’t open. They never have been.”

“Right. Because the study and use of magic is reserved for the scientists.”

He took a few steps into the room, brushing a hand lightly over the cage of a golden chicken that clucked nervously twice and went as silent as all the other creatures.

A shudder crawled up Vivian’s spine, slower than should have been possible.

“The use of magic isn’t restricted to scientists. The development of magic into useful forms is, and only because that process can be dangerous and has resulted in several accidents over the years. Everyone knows the reasons for the laws we have in place.”

The man stopped three cages away from her, smiling. He shouldn’t have been smiling. There was nothing to smile about.

“You sound like the talking heads all over the television.”

“Don’t be stupid. You know we keep magic out of the public eye.” She felt out of control somehow, like the things she was doing, the words she was saying, even the way she held herself and how she met his gaze were not her own. It had to be him. And despite all the warnings, all the rumors she’d heard, she had no idea how to handle it.

“Just like you know who I am. So we’re both asking questions when we already have the answers. Which means the real question we should both be asking is why.”

“Fine.” Vivian steeled her spine and folded her arms over her chest, as if somehow changing her stance could give her the courage she needed to finish the conversation without fainting. “You’re Elen Beaudair. No one knows exactly what you do or why, they just know that when you show up, things go bad very quickly. Which means you showing up in my lab is a problem that needs solving.”

“And you’re Vivian Armain, and very possessive of this lab for someone who won’t take control of her father’s company for another three weeks. A position that makes you the very person I most want to speak with.”

“And if I choose to call security instead? Have you removed from the lab?”

Elen smiled again, and Vivian’s stomach churned.

“They won’t come. I’ve arranged it so everyone else is unavailable for the moment. So we can speak uninterrupted.”

Vivian shivered again, and Elen’s smile grew.

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Pushing Through

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed me posting about a million updates on how the drafting is going. That’s because I’m trying to finish a book this week.

Ugh. You guys, how is it that I’ve finished approximately 17 novel drafts, and this is still like yanking my fingernails out one at a time using only my teeth?

Sorry. That’s gross. I must be thinking of the book that is to come 😉

I love this book. I do. It’s the radio roadtrip book I told you all about before, about the boy going to try and meet the grandpa he’s never known before he dies, and the girl who has an interest in everything but can’t keep the one thing she’s really passionate about – the radio station – alive, and the snowstorm that brings them together. I like the story. I think it dives deep into things that were and are really hard for me, about identity, and not turning people into idols, and sorting out your passions and dreams. I also absolutely adore my MC’s little sister, who carries a steak knife around with her and tells off everyone she meets.

But I had NO IDEA that writing a contemporary would be so hard.

When I get stuck, I can’t whip out a monster or a spell or a shifting of the earth’s gravity. Those are my favorite things, and they can be done both very well or very poorly just like anything else, and they are gone when it comes time to write contemporary, which I am. I have nothing but the beauty of the words and the strength of the story, and it is TERRIFYING.

Now that I’ve probably scared you all away from this book, and possibly from trying contemporary for yourself, I’ll turn right around and say – DO IT. If you’ve always written the same thing, if you’re scared of something different, then give it a shot. Force yourself to go far outside your natural inclination. It’s going to teach you things about yourself as a writer and a person, and about your writing. It’s going to reveal flaws and weak spots in your craft the way nothing else could. You need that something different to push you and take away your easy answers, so that you have to sit there and do combat with those words instead of using your usual fixes.

As hard as this book is for me, I believe in the story, and I firmly believe that I need to tell it- for the characters, for future readers, and for my writing. So this is your Monday reminder that no matter how hard it is, you must keep typing, and not matter how settled you are, you must keep expanding. Carry on, my friends. Make words that matter.

Martyrs and Thieves: 1

The serial novel begins today! Part One is below. In case you forgot what it’s all about, here’s the explanation post.

~~~

“The pain of a phoenix burn was somewhere between stabbed in the thigh by a unicorn horn and being slapped in the face by a flying monkey wing. Distracting, but not so much so that Vivian didn’t also notice the way Saul had trapped her dad in the corner again, super serious business face in place and smooth talk flying a thousand words per minute. If Saul had his way, the family business would be exiting the family and into his hot, waiting hands. They’d been together three years and despite his dark good looks and his very convenient habit of giving her little gifts almost every day, he did still try to overreach. Frequently.
Still nursing the burn on her hand, Vivian locked the phoenix’s cage again and wandered through the rows of cages and storage spaces, stopping to stroke a blue dragon’s fragile wing and drop a handful of lemon drops into the waiting claw of the flying monkey they hadn’t had time to name yet. Even with the delays, Saul spotted her coming from a distance. He angled his shoulders away from her and spoke faster.
“Hey, what’s going on here?” Vivian asked, sliding a hand over her dad’s arm and leaning over to kiss Saul’s cheek.
“Your boyfriend thinks he can angle himself into a spot as vice president after the company transfers to you. Why he’s not using your love as a foundation for employment, I’m not sure.”
“He knows it won’t work. I hire people who are good at the thing they’re being hired for.”
Saul’s cocky grin popped into place. “So you’re saying I’m good at other things.”
“Don’t get full of yourself.” Vivian slipped in between them, effectively blocking Saul out of the conversation. “Did you get the rest of the investors on board with the timing?”
When she was a little girl she’d thought her dad would never grow old. He’d always been faster, smarter, harder-working, and quicker to laugh than anyone else in her life. But now the creases around his eyes and mouth weren’t just visible, but deep like scars, and over the last year his hair had gone entirely white. The magic was showing.
“They’re on board. There’s still one or two dragging their feet, whining about the company going to a woman. But they’ll get over it eventually.”
“How soon is eventually?” Vivian grabbed a clean cloth from the stack and begin wiping out food dishes as they talked. The nerves and the tension had helped her make the entire lab cleaner than it had been in the last five years.
“Once you show them what you can do, there won’t be a single one left who’ll mind what gender you are.”
“I don’t see why I should have to prove it. You didn’t have to prove anything.”
Her dad sighed, stacking the dishes she’d finished into the cupboards and starting the presort of herbs and seeds for the nighttime feeding. “I don’t know where you ever got that idea. Everyone has to prove themselves in this business. You don’t get by on anything, not word of mouth, not recommendations. It comes down to keeping the animals producing materials and how well you can mix those materials into magic.”
Saul butted in, leaning on her shoulder and pulling a handful of seeds for his own snack.
“And everyone knows that you’ve already created more magic than people twice as old as twice as well-funded.”
Vivian was ready to encourage the conversation along in the hopes that half a dozen more compliments would wipe out the anxiety curdling in her stomach, when she realized the lab had fallen silent. Every creature was still, and the few techs on duty had paused mid-measurements.
“I didn’t expect to make quite such an impressive entry.”
She couldn’t see the person who spoke around the tall stack of cages holding magician’s rabbits, but Saul’s face was frozen in shock. Her dad was equally silent, standing like one of the magical beanstalk plants from the labs across the street had sprouted through the floor.
There was only one thing terrible enough to render them both silent.

 

Review: How We Fall, Kate Brauning

Good morning friends! I am SO EXCITED about the book I have to share with you- How We Fall by Kate Brauning! Not only is Kate an amazing, kind, and wonderful person, How We Fall is in my top ten reads of this year and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the book! But I’m sure going to try:

The book: Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting way too much–and with her own cousin, Marcus.

Her friendship with him has turned into something she can’t control, and he’s the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for…no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn’t right about this stranger, and Jackie’s suspicions about the new girl’s secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus–and deepens Jackie’s despair.

Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else’s lies as the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

My review: I ADORED THIS BOOK!!! At first I was nervous because a relationship between cousins is so unique and could slip into some dangerous territory. But How We Fall was so sweet and lovely, funny and lighthearted, serious and even scary in some parts! The suspense element is awesome, it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat and I didn’t see the twist coming. The romance is full of all the inside jokes, confusion, fun, and sacrifice that the best relationships are, and I absolutely loved how much family as a whole was involved in the story and how they were key to the plot overall. I don’t always see enough YA with strong love family so it was a treat! I loved this book unequivocally and I recommend it for fans of suspense, great romances, or books with a strong family element.

imageThe author:Kate is an author of young adult fiction. As a child, she spent a lot of time in her local library, wandering the shelves and discovering all kinds of stories about all kinds of people. She grew up in the hills of Missouri on twenty acres with a big pear tree, cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, and bottle calves. An incurable love for seeing real life through the pages of a book drew her to writing fiction, and at fifteen she decided she wanted someone to find her own books by searching through the shelves of a library. She’s been writing ever since, and she’s not going to stop until she can no longer put one word after another.

Kate has taught high school English, has taught fiction workshops at her library, and has worked with a literary agency and publishing houses. She loves attending writing conferences and book fairs, and is an associate editor at Entangled Publishing, where she works with young adult fiction. She’s also an advocate for domestic abuse victims and poverty eradication, and she volunteers with a grassroots nonprofit, One Body One Hope, which creates community-to-community relationships in Monrovia, Liberia, for infrastructure redevelopment and education.

Currently Kate lives in Iowa with her husband and their Siberian husky. They do a lot of traveling to visit her husband’s family in the Dominican Republic, and to visit Kate’s family and friends, which against her advice, scattered all over the U.S. In her spare time, she makes three-tier cakes, hunts down new music, and reads just about everything.

Kate loves unusual people, good whiskey, dark chocolate, everything about autumn, bright colors, red maple trees, superstitions, ghost stories, anything Harry Potter, night skies, pie, and talking about books. She’s working hard on her next few novels, and if you see her, say hello, because she’d love to take you out for coffee and ask you what you’re reading.

 

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NaNo Prep and Who Are You?

Hello my fabulous and lovely friends. How’s things?

Today I thought I’d dive into my most favoritest time of the year – NaNoWriMo! If you don’t know what it is, basically every year a bajillion people take on the challenge of writing 50k or, basically, a short novel, in one month – November. You can read more about it here.

I am doing it this year, as I have for the past three or four – or however many – and, as every year, I am SO EXCITED about the book! You can read a synopsis on my user page here, but basically what you need to know is that it’s a YA fantasy retelling of Robin Hood from the perspective of “Maid Marian”, though her name is Giselle in my book. And I’m so happpyyyy to be writing this, since I’ve been thinking about it forever, but I’m also terrified, and I’ve learned that the best books to write during NaNo are the ones that terrify you because the speed helps eradicate the fear.

Anyways, that’s not the main point of this post. What is the point, is that to get ready, I’ve been doing a lot of freewriting. I’m still not one hundred percent sure where the right starting point is or what the main plots will be,so what I’ve been doing is filling one notebook page per day with my random thoughts and questions. I’m focusing on really developing the characters, so that out of their interactions with one another will arise the plot. I’m hoping that the better I develop this girl who was raised as a warrior and may need to allow herself to feel feminine in order to achieve her goal, and this soft-hearted prince terrified of inheriting his father’s madness and determined to defeat the brother who has always bested him, and this boy who once was a prince and now fancies himself a commoner, but may just be manipulating everyone to his own ends, will become so powerful and so real that they must take certain actions, and that these actions will create a story.

Maybe this will go horrible. It’s quite likely. But it also might not.

So here’s my suggestion to you, whether you plan on doing NaNo or you just are developing a current project: start from the present and work backward. Right now, she’s a princess in a castle with blood red walls. But what if she’s not a true princess? Where did she come from, then? What’s her history? How did she grow up? Why then? Why in that manner? Let the stories develop roots, and let the trunk and branches form naturally out of those roots, and see what it does for your story.

I’ll keep you posted on whether my story tree grows big and strong or shrivels up like Jonah’s bush.

Fleeting Wisdom

Okay, friends, here’s the thing – I buy lots of books

Lots of books.

And I love all of them dearly. I’m also a big fan of cute shoes, colorful scarves, fun things for my house, etc, etc.

And all of these things cost money.

A few years ago, I went on a spending break, and even though it was really hard, I remember it having tons of benefits – I got more creative with things to do, since I couldn’t spend money, I found clothes and books I forgot I owned since I couldn’t just buy new stuff, and I built up a very nice nest in my savings that helped me pay for grad school completely out of pocket while also paying rent and being able to afford groceries.

So, I think it’s time for a spending break for me. I had a little life change, which I’ll tell you more about on Monday – it’s good! and there will be picture! and if you follow me on Twitter you already know what it is 😉 – and with the holidays in the not so distant future, I think now is a good time. Plus I’ve ordered and preordered enough books to last me that long, easy.

I’m going on spending break from now (this post is actually being written on Sunday the 12th :)) until Thanksgiving Day. I’m giving myself that weekend off, so I can take advantage of sales for Christmas gifts and things, then going back on spending break until Christmas.

That’s a LONG time and I’m a little nervous, but I also think it’s going to be really good. I think it’s very wise for all of us to take a break, sometimes, and remind ourselves what matters, and also, that it doesn’t take money to have fun and enjoy things.

Here’s my list of acceptable expenditures from now until Christmas:

Bills and Mortgage (unfortunately, I don’t think they would enjoy my tale of practicing frugality affecting my ability to pay them)

Groceries (trying to stick to basics and keep the snacks and junk spending down to ten percent of the grocery bill)

Tithe

Gifts for others (not to exceed 20 dollars per person, since I tend to go a bit overboard)

Event fees or money for meals with friends, not to exceed 10/meal or 30/event, not to exceed three times during break

Expenses related to new life event 😉

Necessities for the house or things like toothpaste and lotion

Expenses to host a housewarming party I already have planned and up to two more group get togethers, not to exceed 75/time

 

And that’s it. That’s what I’m going to spend, and I’m going to make it a fun challenge instead of a drag because hello, fun versus drudgery is no contest.

What I’m hoping is that maybe some of you are finding you could use some saving up strategies before the holidays roll in, and you might like to join me in this little save money mission. Or, maybe just one or two of the areas above are things you tend to overspend in and you could use a little check. Let me know in the comments below if you’ll be joining me these next two months – I’ll be so, so glad to not be alone!

The Time Has Come – Introducing Martyrs And Thieves

Remember that serial novel I talked about starting?

Well, I almost backed out. Just real talk there. But I didn’t, so without further ado I present the pitch and first line of the serial novel that Will Be.

“Vivan Armitage is on the cusp of inheriting her father’s business, which might not be so newsworthy, except his business is the care and keeping of magical creatures – and the study of how to use their magic to help humans do the unthinkable. Vivian has spent her whole life around dragons, unicorns, phoenix, and every other kind of creature. There’s nothing they can do that surprises her. What does surprise her is people. And not in a good way.

When a handsome man strolls into the labs with an infuriating smirk and the ability to take over anyone’s body with a flick of his wrist, what should have been a simple transfer of name becomes a dangerous clash of power. And when Vivian’s sister, silent since the tragedy that killed their mother, disappears, Vivian will have to decide if everything she believes and practices about the responsibilities of power is more important to her than the lives of people she loves. And she’ll have to decide soon – because each time she goes up against the handsome stranger, she must take in magic to use power, and each time she does, she loses one day of life.”

There you have it – the pitch for what is theoretically going to be a serial new adult urban fantasy novel – Martyrs and Thieves.

The first chapter will be up next week, but let me tide you over with this first line:

“The pain of a phoenix burn was somewhere between stabbed in the thigh by a unicorn horn and being slapped in the face by a flying monkey wing. Distracting, but not so much so that Vivian didn’t also notice the way Saul had trapped her dad in the corner again, super serious business face in place and smooth talk flying a thousand words per minute.”

 

So friends, now that you have the pitch and the first line, what say you? What are you hoping to see or not see in this here wannabe novel?