Happy New Year (on day 10…)

Hi Aledan Merfolk *sheepishly waves* It’s been a while, yeah?

YAllFest Friends!

I have to admit, that compared to the first half of the year (baby niece, NYC, book contract, my mom’s new kidney), the second half of the year was not quite as exciting, with the huge exceptions of Nebo Retreat and YAllFest (any time a bunch of authors get together it’s exciting and memorable!). I met a bunch of new friends at YAllFest, and hung out with a bunch of old friends I only see once a year, so that weekend was a blast. The weekend before YAllFest, Hubs met his author idol, so November was a huge literary awesomeness month for us.

Most of October and November I spent working the late shift at the lab, so I listened to lots of books, but didn’t have the brain power for much else. I listened to and/or read AGE OF MYTH by Michael J Sullivan (CHOCK FULL OF AWESOME WOMEN), NOW I RISE by Kiersten White (oh Radu, I just want to give him a hug), COMMUNICATION FAILURE by Joe Zieja (which I’ve now listened to three times because it’s hilarious), THE BOOK OF SWORDS Anthology, PARADOX BOUND by Peter Clines (I love Clines, and I will literally listen to anything Ray Porter narrates), THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski (it’s the first Witcher book – Hubs is obsessed with the game and now the book series so I tried it), DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone (this was the most intense book I’ve ever read, and written in such a strange, stand-offish way that I have no idea how she pulled the intensity off. It’s amazing), ARTEMIS by Andy Weir (even better than The Martian), A PLAGUE OF GIANTS by Kevin Hearne (I was worried I wouldn’t like this one, because it’s so different from The Iron Druid Chronicles, but I think it was my second favorite fantasy of the year, behind The Stone Sky), and STRANGE THE DREAMER by Liana Taylor (which left me with a lot of conflicting emotions that I haven’t untangled yet).

Now I’m re-listening to the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown and reading EMPRESS OF A THOUSAND SKIES by Rhoda Belleza (who I met at YAllFest and had nails to match her book!)

Whew. Told you I did nothing but read this fall! Well, read and play WoW. I got my fellow author and pony fanatic, Courtney Moulton, into my guild and we’ve been playing almost every night. I even started doing raids *gasp* My hunter’s a badass now (her name is Kindra, duh), and I finally learned how to play feral druid! My baby druid, Karigan, is blowing through Northrend *sniffles* They grow so fast *wipes away tear*

As for 2018, it started with a snowstorm that shut down Charleston for FOUR DAYS. So instead of a week off between Christmas and New Years, I ended up with a second week off as well…and a horrible cold from playing in the snow without proper winter boots (they don’t even sell proper winter boots here). My cold is finally abating, and I plan to be around the blog a lot more this year, especially since I’ll be posting interviews with my fellow 2018 debut authors! I also plan to get a newsletter started, to keep you all updated on Speak the Ocean’s journey to publication! This is going to be an exciting year of edit letters and cover reveals and book birthdays ^_^

Until then, I’m working on Regina, my revenge-murder sci-fi that’s so much fun!

Have a wonderful week, Aledans! I’ll see you all soon <3

Happy Autumn!

Happy Autumn, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been an entire season since I’ve seen you (although I’ve been on Twitter, obviously), so I thought I’d update you on what’s been happening here. Let’s go in backwards order!

Nebo Retreat!

Last weekend I went to Nebo, NC for a writing retreat on Lake James, and I wrote an entirely new first scene for Fie Eoin! My agent read the first two chapters last month and sent back notes, one of them being that the book starts too late and I needed a new first chapter to set up the current first chapter. So I went back to the first day Kindra tries to join the trainees and started there (I tried to go back to when her father died, but I just couldn’t make it work). I actually really like the new beginning, and I’m going to try to get another scene in there if I can. If I can’t I still think it works better than the current first chapter. Of course, now I have to edit the current first chapter again to delete the info you find out in the new first chapter. Wheee editing!

Two days before Nebo, Hurricane Irma hit. And while we didn’t get the brunt of the storm, it was still extremely windy and rainy, and three tornadoes touched down within a mile of our house – scary! We all made it through just fine (even the chickens) with only one large branch coming down and a small lake in the front yard. This weekend is devoted to cleaning up the small stick debris in the backyard. Fun.

I was able to see my new niece twice this summer, the first time when I went home to visit my momma on her birthday (and because she got a new kidney!), and then when my sister came down Charleston way to visit for a week. So here’s some baby pictures, because you can never have too many baby pictures:

And speaking of babies…we had a baby! A baby squirrel! ^_^ “Puppy” was only with us for a few days before he went to the vet to continue rehabbing, but Hops the dog was absolutely in love with her puppy, and I was pretty fond of him too. Still, cats and baby squirrels don’t mix.

And last but not least, I’ve read a ton in the past two months since I’ve seen you! Last I posted, I was reading CITY STAINED RED and I finished that on the boat last weekend (yes, there was a boat at the retreat!). It was REALLY GOOD. I especially liked page 470, when Asper the super pacifist kicks someone’s ass (he deserves it). I read that page four times.

I also read STILETTO by Daniel O’Malley, THE OBELISK GATE and THE STONE SKY by N.K Jemisin (Holy Carp you guys, this series was one of the best I’ve ever read!), the BOBIVERSE series by Dennis E. Taylor (super fun sci-fi that I just re-started listening to yesterday), THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzi Lee, and AGENT TO THE STARS and REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought from Speak the Ocean. Being an author is weird.

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans, and a wonderful autumn! I’ll try to update more often this season 🙂

 

What a Wild Spring! (pic heavy)

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! We’re a little over a week into summer, and I’ve barely posted any updates this year. I was silent for pretty much all of spring, with the giant exception of my publishing news, so I wanted to catch you up real quick.

Spring started with the birth of my niece, who I absolutely adore:

Sophie3

Hubs and I spent a week visiting her, her extremely tired parents, and Mt. Vernon, where we made a new friend:

MtV
It was a windy day!

And for two months everything went back to normal. I read/listened to a bunch of books: The Vicious Deep series by Zoraida Cordova (I’d already read this series, but re-read it this spring), A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu (I liked it until the ending, which was just disappointing for me), Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja (TWICE! I listened to the audiobook and it was so hilarious and I started it over and listened again!), The Paper Magician triology by Charlie Holmburg (Emery <3), The Seafarer’s Kiss by my agent-sister Julia Ember (f/f Little Mermaid/Vikings!), Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (which quickly became my FAVORITE BOOK EVER! It’s so beautifully written and feminist af), Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor, When Dimple Met Rishi by one of my real-life BFFs Sandhya Menon (the most adorable meet-cute you’ll ever read <3), The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (if you haven’t heard of this one, well I just can’t help you), and Our Dark Duet also by V.E. Schwab (that last chapter, guys, oof).

Now I’m listening to Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley (sequel to The Rook, which I enjoyed), reading The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes in paperback, and Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor in ebook. Why yes, I do read multiple things at the same time.

For much of the spring I was also working on editing StO into a YA, but that’s no longer necessary because Reuts bought it as an adult book! I actually found out about it the day before I left for NYC, and you can read all about that here. If you haven’t already, you can add SPEAK THE OCEAN to your Goodreads TBR list!

And the next day I left for NYC! It was overwhelming and awesome and I can’t wait to go back! We saw The Colbert Report and Waitress (with Sara Bareilles <3), ate at Delmonicos, Lupa, Russ and Daughters, and this amazing, tiny, Trini place called Trinidad Golden Palace (it was actually my favorite food of the whole trip!). We also wandered around the city and met up with one of my CPs, Natasha Razi!

Right before the trip I dyed my hair bright magenta with blonde streaks. I wanted to look like my mermaid Erie (she’s on the Home page, if you’re curious)

And last but not least, my mom got her new kidney! I’m going to see her in July, and my niece will be there too, so I’m sure I’ll be back with another photo-heavy post 🙂 Until then it’s time to finish editing Fie Eoin before I get my StO edit letter! MY FIRST OFFICIAL EDIT LETTER FROM AN EDITOR!

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Me being super excited on the subway after WAITRESS!

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.

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).

mome
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.

loreenaconcert
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:

voted
Just helping to stop the apocalypse in my spare time…

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans!

 

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!).

littlesgrill

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!

It's Time for Camp! (NaNo that is)

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! Today is the beginning of Camp NaNo: a month-long, set-your-own-goal writing challenge! It’s kind of like the original NaNo, but you don’t have to write 50k to “win”. I’ve set the goal of finishing the rough draft of Enfields, or at the very least writing as much of it as I can and plotting out the rest so I can keep up the momentum in August. Considering I still haven’t figured out my worldbuilding problem from last week’s update, AND realized the scenes I’m writing currently are in the wrong order, we’ll see how far I get in Camp…

I have my trusty CP Mike to help me with the plotting this weekend, and he’s a superstar, so I’m sure we’ll have it all figured out by Monday 🙂 In fact, I may have figured out part of it on my drive in to work…or I may have screwed up the order of the scenes even worse. We’ll find out at lunch break.

I finished listening to ANCILLARY JUSTICE last weekend and LOVED IT! I loved it so much I re-listened to the last chapter the next day, and as soon as I get through some of the other books in my que I’ll be buying the rest of the series. Mostly so I can hear Seivarden say “Breq” in that annoyed-yet-amused way the narrator does it.

I’m still reading NAME OF THE WIND, and I finally got my B&N credit last week so I bought eight books (I also had a coupon!): SEA OF TRANQUILITY, THE GHOST BRIDE, A STRANGER IN OLONDRIA, HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS, STORY FIX, THE CITY STAINED RED, A HARVEST OF RIPE FIGS, and BINTI. It’s going to take me the rest of the year to read them all! And I still have A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES from my last B&N shopping spree…

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans, and if you’re in the US have a wonderful Fourth of July!

thistle
This cardoon thistle looks like a firework!

 

Little Eggs and Worldbuilding Issues

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! Every time I jump back onto the blogging bandwagon life decides to smack me with the busy stick, so it’s been a few weeks. I’ve decided to change Science Tuesday to a monthly post, so most of June’s science news will be posted next Tuesday (the 28th). But I’ll still be posting custom ponies every Sunday when I can find them. I have one for you this weekend and it’s so beautiful!

Last we talked, I was in my reading cycle (I’m now in my video games/HGTV/recover cycle, which is kind of backwards from normal…but I’m not complaining because I’ve been playing WoW for the first time since the Panda expansion came out!). I finished TAMING OF THE QUEEN and HALF A WAR. I really enjoyed both of them, but TAMING was really really really good. It gave me nightmares about King Henry VIII, and even though I already knew the history and what would happen, I was seriously on the edge of my seat in places. That’s how well done that book was. I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re a female author (Katherine Parr was the first woman to publish under her own name in English). I’m now reading THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss and listening to ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie.

I’m about to roll into the writing cycle, and as I was trying to fall asleep two nights ago I realized the issue I was having with Enfields. I’ve got two MCs who’re trying to fight the big bad guy, but the big bad guy isn’t fighting back. The MCs are too small to really be much more than an annoyance to him – he’s focused on something else until the end of the book. So it’s time to restructure this sucker, rip apart the worldbuilding and stitch it back together, and get the big bad guy to see the MCs as a threat and actively work against them.

And I still need to find a place for that sex scene I already wrote…

I’ve joined Camp NaNo next month in hopes that my cabin-mates will help kickstart my brain and make the pieces fall together so I can finally make some headway on this book. I also picked up STORY FIX by Larry Brooks (you may have heard me praising STORY ENGINEERING in the past, which I’ll also be re-reading with an eye towards Enfields).

LittleEgg

Last but not least: the Littles have become Ladies! They started laying eggs this weekend! Little eggs, because they’re still half the size of Mona 😛

<–Look how teeny the eggs are!

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans! I’ll see you on Sunday for Custom of the Week 🙂