I’m an Auntie!

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a long time since I’ve updated you, and if you follow me on Twitter you know why. There’s been a lot going on, but I’m here today to tell you about the best of it:

Meet my niece, Sophie!

Sophie3

I have never been a baby person, but I AM IN LOVE <3 We spent last weekend with her, and the only time I put her down was when Hubs begged to hold her instead (he is also in love).

Here, have some more pictures:

We also spent some time with college friends, toured the Smithsonians, and hung out with the animals at Mount Vernon, but tiny Sophie was by far the best part of the weekend and I miss her so much already <3

Now that we’re home, I’m back on the editing train! It’s been a month since I’ve done any really good writing stuff (I’ve mostly been reading in preparation for editing), so it’s nice to be back on the horse pony (dolphin?) 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans. I’m going to spend mine Skyping with my sister and niece!

A “Short” Update of Writing and Reading and Yoga

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! This is going to be a quick update, because I’ve got a cold that’s turning my brain fuzzy, but I wanted to let you know that I finished STORY FIX and figured out how to fix the Kaye parts of Fie Eoin! I know who her antagonist is (it’s not who you’d guess), and I’ve started rewriting her half of the book with this in mind (which is also aging her voice up, which was desperately needed).

Of course then this cold hit and fuzzed up my brain, AND my agent-sister Erica Cameron had a book birthday on Tuesday, so I’ve put aside FE for a moment to read ISLAND OF EXILES. This book is so beautiful. Every chapter has artwork in the heading, and the glossary has artwork, and the cover is simply gorgeous! The writing’s good too 😉

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Look how beautiful that is!

Instead of listening to an audiobook lately, I’ve been getting ready for bed with the Sleep With Me podcast (based on the recommendation of another agent-sister, Bassey). I really like the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, because Hubs and I have been re-watching the show for the past year and a half (usually only one or two episodes a week, which is why it’s taking so long).

I’m happy to say that last week I did yoga four times! I wanted to keep that up this week, but if I did downward-facing-dog right now three pounds of snot would run onto my mat, so I’m going to wait until this cold is done to pick that back up. Yoga with Adriene has a 30-day yoga primer that starts with an Ease Into It session and gets progressively more difficult. I really like the instructor, and needed to start out with something easier, so I’m enjoying these sessions a lot.

This quick updated ended up being a little longer than I anticipated, so I’m going to stop here and go buy some more cold medicine. Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans, and I’ll see you soon!

Baby Showers and Activism

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a long, draining week that started in a tiny plane and running from one side of Dulles airport to the other with all my bags in three minutes, and ended with my neck and rib going out in an excruciatingly painful manner (probably because of said plane and running). The neck and rib are back in place and I made the connecting flight, so everything’s good, but I’m exhausted and ready for a weekend at home filled with reading, writing, and animals (and possibly another trip to the theater to see Rogue One).

Last weekend I flew home to Michigan for my little sister’s baby shower. Her belly was so big, and I got to feel my niece kick! It was wonderful <3 I saw lots of friends and family for the first time in years (the last time I saw most of them was my sister’s wedding), and we had a wonderful time celebrating this new little nasty woman while other women around the world were marching. We also played Catan and went to see Hidden Figures, which was the best way I could think to spend the day of the inauguration.

Ah, the inauguration. All week (hell, since the election), I’ve been drowning in politics. Several folks posted this article: How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind, and one of the points was to chose the issues that are most important to you and focus on those, otherwise you’ll drown trying to focus on everything. So I’ve chosen my issues: women’s reproductive rights (I set up monthly donations to Planned Parenthood last year), and science, especially now that the EPA and other government agencies are under a gag order. I’ll RT other causes to bring awareness, and do what I can, but I’m focusing on the two things that are most important to me at the moment.

In reading news, I finished possibly the best overall series I’ve ever read with MORNING STAR by Pierce Brown. I really can’t say enough amazing things about this series, especially considering the political climate we’ve found ourselves in. I also caught up on the Gentleman Bastards series with THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES which was possibly my favorite of the series because Sabetha is such a great character.

Other than the audiobooks, I’ve been reading STORY FIX to fix my stories. And it’s working! I figured out what’s wrong with Kaye’s storyline in Fie Eoin, but I haven’t successfully figured out how to fix it yet. I’m going to try to write a query for her side of the story to see where I can strengthen it and see if that helps me figure out how. She needs more conflict, and to tie into the core story more, but I’m not quite yet sure how to get there and keep what I need to happen in. Either way, I highly recommend Story Fix if you’re floundering with your novel.

Keep working, keep fighting, and enjoy your weekend, Aledans!

Me and my “sisters” celebrating little Nugget <3

Welcome to the new(ish) Mermaids and Margaritas!

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! At the end of last year I told you Mermaids and Margaritas was moving to a new site, and here we are (same address, but self-hosted). Everything looks pretty similar to what it used to be, and everything should be moved over, but you’ll notice the colors aren’t so glaring and there’s some beautiful Erie artwork by Diana Beebe in the sidebar now (you can see the whole picture on the Home page).

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Hubs and I had a very low-key but lots-of-food season. We played a lot of video games and watched a lot of movies and read a few books. Since THE HATE U GIVE (which you have to read), I’ve read THE PURLOINED POODLE (an IRON DRUID CHRONICLES short story, from the POV of Oberon the Irish Wolfhound), RED RISING by Pierce Brown, and it’s sequel GOLDEN SON (OMG THAT ENDING!), and a CP book that I loved but can’t tell you about yet. I dnf-ed WINTERSONG – I liked the first half okay, but the second half was too slow for me and I wasn’t that invested. I started TRUTHWITCH by Susan Dennard and THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab.

So, it’s 2017. Last year was both amazing (I signed with an agent!) and horrible (election and then Hubs lost his job for a month). I have to confess, I haven’t done a damn thing writing-wise since November. I did write a little Yule/Ocean fluff scene (I wrote it on Yule, set during Yule, because that’s how I roll), but I haven’t done any actual work. It’s time to hop back on that pony and take the reins, so I’m reading STORY FIX by Larry Brooks to make a plan to get Fie Eoin in shape.

Guess what else I’m getting in shape? ME. I know, everyone’s doing that in January, but it’s really really time to actually stick to it. So no drinking on weekdays, yoga at least twice a week, and I need to get to some cardio (now’s the time to do it – it’s cool enough to run outside right now. Come summer I’ll have to get a gym membership to run or do it at like 3am so I don’t die of heat stroke). Have I mentioned how much I hate running? But I have audiobooks now, so I’m hoping that’ll work better than music. They even make cleaning the bathroom not so bad.

And that’s the beginning to 2017. Newish website. Newish Me. But as always: working on Fie Eoin 😉 Have a wonderful beginning to your new year, Aledans, and I’ll see you back here on Sunday for a gorgeous custom pony!

A very happy Boudin. Just because.

Screw You November; Thank you December

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been over a month since I updated you on my life, and there’s a good reason for that. Everything went to absolute shit in November. My entire life was turned upside down (not just because of the election, but that’s certainly part of it) and it’s only just starting to right itself again.

After my read-a-thon in October, I was finally feeling really creative and started working on Fie Eoin (again. Yes, I know, hush), and then the election happened. I stayed up until almost four am, mostly crying, but also railing against the universe for being so utterly stupid. When I went to work Weds morning I was scared and sleep-deprived and depressed, and I had no idea it could get even worse.

My husband called me at lunch. His company had “re-organized” because of the election results and his position had disappeared. Not twelve hours after the election was called, my husband lost his job.

And thus started the shittiest month of my life. Aside from Thanksgiving weekend, I haven’t slept in four weeks. I caught a bad cold the next week because I was so stressed out (and drunk most nights) that I tanked my immune system. I’ve had horrible canker sores for most of that time (stress and/or processed sugar does this to me – did you know your epiglottis and tonsils can both get canker sores? That’s fun). Paying bills left me in tears because I knew I wouldn’t be able to pay next month.

But so many of Hub’s coworkers have been working overtime trying to find him a new position in the company, and this week it paid off: Hubs has a new position in the company!

After a month hanging out by my ears, my shoulders are sore now that they’ve gone back to their normal position as my shoulders. And sleep! Holy Aleda, I think I could sleep for two weeks straight and still not be caught up. Yesterday I slept through the chickens screaming to be let out of the coop. I was so tired I pulled their cries into a dream that I was letting them out, and when Hubs got up to let them out I told him I already did it (I hadn’t – they’d been screaming for half an hour).

Other than Thanksgiving, which was low-key and as relaxing as it possibly could be, there was one really bright spot in my November: YAllFest. As always, the huge YA Lit book festival was amazing, and heart-filling, and so needed this year. I went with one bookish goal in mind: get a copy of THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. And not only did I accomplish my goal of getting an arc, but I also met Angie and got my arc signed! And you guys, this book was so devastatingly good. So absolutely needed that I’ll be running a giveaway for the one I pre-ordered closer to the pub date. I also plan to run a giveaway for some of the other arcs and swag that I picked up that weekend, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

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Angie is such a sweetheart! Go pre-order her book!

I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing, life-affirming weekend and holiday season, Aledans. If you need a shoulder to cry on, I’m here <3

October Was A Busy Month (with photos!)

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! The last time we spoke, I was cleaning up post-hurricane. There’s still one pile of leaves/branches in the backyard that we have to get bagged up, but it hasn’t rained since Matthew and I’m sick of inhaling all that dust (every time I blow my nose it’s black from dust), so we’re waiting until after it rains to get that final pile cleaned up. Despite that final pile, all the animals are super happy that the backyard is once again back to normal.

Look at all those happy animals! And a bonus picture of Modelo looking like a cat instead of a shadow (he’s a Havana Brown, which means he usually looks all-black until the sun hits him just right and you can see he’s actually dark brown).

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My sister and I

Aside from hurricane cleanup, it’s been a busy month. My little sister came to Charleston for the weekend and I got to see her tiny baby bump! I bought my niece her first My Little Pony (Princess Twilight Sparkle, of course) <3 And Hubs and I went to see Loreena McKennitt in concert, and I cried through basically the entire thing. The concert was SO good, and we were SO close to the stage. Then we stayed downtown that night to pretend we were on vacation 🙂

I also finished my edits, and have started working on Fie Eoin again. And I read. Holy gods have I read. After months of struggling to get through books, I devoured the following this month: EMPIRE OF STORMS (it took me a while to get into this one, but once I hit the halfway point I was hooked), A HALL OF KEYS AND NO DOORS, A WORLD WITHOUT YOU, THE PAPER MAGICIAN, AND I DARKEN, THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, and I’m currently reading THE PURLOINED POODLE and THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS. Half of those were audiobooks, which means I’ve been super busy at work, because it usually takes me a month to get through an audiobook.

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Panoramic of the Loreena McKennitt concert

And that was my super busy October. Birthdays and Hurricanes and Clean-up and Family and Concerts and Editing and Reading. Whew! I’m sleeping in tomorrow.

Oh yeah, and I did one other thing:

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Just helping to stop the apocalypse in my spare time…

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans!

 

Birthdays and Hurricanes Don't Mix

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been an exciting couple of weeks around here, first with birthday excitement, and then with the interruption of Hurricane Matthew. But first, the birthday excitement! It started with a new ‘do:

Purple hair with blonde highlights!

And after Hubs cleaned my car, I was able to put on all my new stickers!

carstickers

I think the Star Trek one is my favorite, because it’s on the front windshield and I can see it while I’m driving. The rest of the pre-birthday weekend was spent reading and writing and playing WoW…and eating amazing food. Hubs made farrotto (risotto but with farro instead of rice) using the stock from the Littles (remember them? They were delicious) and mushrooms he found while mountain biking (we’ve had them before so we knew they were safe to eat). He also made a blueberry and mint pie!

blueberrypie

On my birthday I had pie for breakfast, because that’s how you start off 34 right.

So the birthday started out pretty freaking awesome. Pie for breakfast, pumpkin muffins at coffee break (made by a coworker because I can’t eat processed sugar, so she made them with agave nectar <3), cheese grits and broccolini for lunch. And lunch was when the first grumblings of the hurricane began.

By 3pm, the governor was holding a press conference, talking about evacuating the coast. By 4pm my dayjob was talking about closing (which is UNHEARD OF). By 5pm, gas stations were running out of gas and grocery stores were running out of bottled water. Instead of leaving work early to go out to a fancy birthday dinner, I ended up staying at work late to get things done before the hurricane. I tried to get a cat carrier on the way home in case we needed to evacuate (we have three cats but only two carriers), but they were sold out. I did manage to get gas, and Hubs was able to snag the last crate of bottled water at the grocery store. That night we tried to figure out how to get seven animals and our luggage in one car.

Side note: it’s impossible to get seven animals and our luggage in one car. So we decided to stay.

I will never, EVER, stay during a hurricane that’s stronger than a 1 again.

On Weds I went to work for a couple hours to finish up data and get the instruments ready for the storm. On Weds afternoon, they switched the lanes on the highway so you could only leave Charleston, and the evacuation began. On Thursday and Friday, work was closed, and Hubs and I were scrambling to get the house ready to stay. I cleaned the tub so we could fill it with water just in case the plumbing stopped working. I filled five coolers with water so the animals could drink and we could save the bottled water for ourselves. Hubs cleaned the garage so we could get my car in, and we packed his car in case we needed to get out in the thick of it. We tried to put up the hurricane shutters, but the last folks who lived in our house screwed them into the garage wall and stripped the screws. We were only able to get two shutters up (and thank god we got those up, because we would have lost the living room window otherwise).

And then we waited for the storm to start. And let me tell you something: waiting for a hurricane to hit is far worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. I was so mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted on Friday night, that I passed out at 11:30 and slept through the worst part of the storm.

I woke up at 8am on Saturday, which is when I thought the worst of the storm was supposed to hit, got the dogs out to potty, and checked on the chickens. They were snug in their coop, and luckily we had moved their coop to a different area of the backyard, because there was a limb down where they had been. The backyard was a mess. Limbs everywhere. Our ten-foot azalea had been squashed by a huge limb. Another was hanging in the tree, just waiting to come down (it’s still there – we’re waiting on a company to have time to come get it). The dogs and I got back inside and the wind started picking up even as the rain stopped.

The wind. Holy Gods, the wind. Thank goodness the tree in the front yard is so bendy, because there were 70mph gusts. Around 11am or so, a huge limb came down in the backyard and split our dogwood tree in two. That dogwood is the only thing that saved our fence – it kept that giant limb hovering two inches above our fence. All over the neighborhood trees uprooted because the soil was so soft from the rain and the gusts were so hard. We were lucky that we didn’t lose any of the trees in the backyard (we have a lot of trees in the backyard).

The power went out several times, but our neighborhood was lucky to keep it for the most part. The plumbing never went out (thank Aleda). We didn’t have any issues with flooding. The house didn’t suffer any major damage. The chickens even laid an egg during the worst of the storm. Overall, Hubs and I were extremely lucky.

We still have a good bit to clean up in the backyard, but Boudin has been helping with the smaller sticks:

I did manage to stab my toe with a rusty pair of chicken-poo covered garden sheers while cleaning up, which lead to a tetanus shot because I’m terrified of needles and haven’t had one in nineteen years. The toe is fine. Four days after getting the shot, my arm is still swollen, itchy, and painful.

And that, Aledans, was my overly-exciting birthday week. We still haven’t made up that birthday dinner yet, but we’ll do that after the swelling in my arm goes down 😉

Last, but not least, tomorrow is the last day to vote in #PonyFest16! Get your vote in before it’s too late.

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Trees came down all over Charleston, but these resilient tomatoes stayed on the vine.

The Amazingness that was #NeboRetreat

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! Last weekend I spent a few days at Lake James in Nebo, NC with my BFF Juliana and several other authors on my first ever writing retreat! It was so much fun, even if I didn’t get as much work done as I had planned. So much fun, in fact, that I’m having a hard time coming back down to the real world where shit needs to get done.

Can you blame me, when this was my view?

The weekend was so much fun. I made a ton of new friends, got to hang out with my BFF (who lives 5 hours away so I rarely get to see her in person), tried paddle-boarding for the first time, went swimming, worked on edits, helped plot a couple books, played some games, read my own writing out-loud to a group for the first time ever, and then got to sit through someone else reading one of my sex scenes out loud. I’ve never blushed so much in my life 😉

We also painted our nails because why the heck not?

Before we’d even checked out we’d already reserved the house again for next year, and now I can’t wait to go on my second-ever writing retreat with these fabulous ladies!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Aledans, and don’t forget to check out #PonyFest16 for a chance to win a My Little Pony based on your book!

Bouncing Around Projects (and #PonyFest16 is coming!)

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been about a month since I last posted, because we’re officially in the busy season at work (it’ll last until the end of December), and OMG I just realized that it’s almost #PonyFest time! (Like, I literally realized that as I wrote “December”). Last year’s #PonyFest was cancelled because of family health issues, so this year’s fest will be doubly fun!

Not sure what #PonyFest is? You can check out past contests here: Contests

I am so excited now! Compounding that excitement? I’ll be in the mountains of NC on a writing retreat with my BFF Juliana (and a bunch of other authors) when the #PonyFest announcement post goes live ^_^ I can’t wait for next weekend!

Last time we talked, I was still trying to decide between three different paths for Enfields, otherwise I was going to start working on Fie Eoin. Well, a fourth path sprang up and punched me in the face, and it’s so good I’m going with that one. But instead of actually working on it, I decided to work on Fie Eoin, and got a bunch of good feedback from some new readers. The first three chapters are too long, with too many characters, so I’m going to have to tear them apart and rewrite them again. This is the book that never ends. And I adore it <3

But I’ve put that aside as well, to work on creepy mermaids ^_^ This summer is just me bouncing between projects like a manic puppy.

As for reading, I’m still listening to EMPIRE ASCENDANT, and I finished reading A STRANGER IN OLANDRIA. It was so beautiful, and I especially loved the Jissavet parts. It was also way more literary than I’m used to, so I’m giving my brain a break with EMPIRE OF STORMS. I also bought A WORLD WITHOUT YOU, AS I DARKEN, A HALL OF KEYS AND NO DOORS, and LABYRINTH LOST (which I CPed last year, and let me tell you: you will love this book! Brujas and magical worlds!).

bookhaul

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans! I’ll see you next weekend for the official #PonyFest announcement!

Reading and Writing and Butchering Chickens (Oh My!)

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! How is it already Friday? I swear it was just Tuesday…of last week. I’ve been busy busy lately, first with work, then CPing, and now work again. Lots and lots of work. *breathes in the chemicals* The lab smelled like tomatoes this week and I wonder what kind of poison that is? Whatever it is, it made my face break out like crazy. Tomato chemical = acne.

As I said, I finished my CP project (and OMG I can’t wait for you guys to read it someday. It was so wonderful and tear-filled and just *le sigh*). I also finished listening to THE ROOK, listened to the entirety of THE IRON KING (ugh, Ash, go away), and started EMPIRE ASCENDANT. And I finally finished reading THE NAME OF THE WIND – it took me a little while to get into it, but once I did I loved it. It was bizarre and wonderful, and I can’t wait to read the second one (but I still have seven books to finish first). I started reading A STRANGER IN OLANDRIA, which has almost the same feel as NAME, but is completely different. It’s also extremely literary, which isn’t really my jam so it’s taking a while to read. I’m enjoying it though – the setting is beautifully described.

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Fox notebook to finish Enfields someday…

As for Enfields? I still don’t know which of the three paths to choose, so I’m still letting it simmer. I’m going to play WoW this weekend, and if no path asserts itself, I’ll start working on Fie Eoin, because I figured out what I’ve been doing wrong with Kaye. I mean, I’ve known for a while what I’ve been doing wrong with Kaye, but I finally figured out how to fix it.

 

In sad but delicious news: we finally butchered the Littles. Well, Hubs butchered the Littles because there was no way I could even look at them without crying. We ate the first one last weekend, and it was delicious. It tasted like no other chicken I’ve ever had, not even the super-organic, pasture-raised ones we buy at Whole Foods. And we’re using every little bit of them, from the meat to the intestines (tripe tacos, yum!).

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Hops the dog was so distraught over the Littles that she was depressed for the entire weekend 🙁 We kept having to show her the Bigs and tell her that we aren’t going to eat them because they’re her pets (she absolutely thinks that the Ladies are her pets – she helps feed them and everything).

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans!