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!

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 😉

IslandChapOne
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.

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!

Happy April Fools Day!

Happy April Fools Day, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a few busy weeks since my big news, but not because of anything writing-related. My coworker switched labs, so I’ve been busy taking over two additional tests at the dayjob, and then my sister came to town last week for spring break. I also CPed a GIANT book. It was a really good book, but the size of two! My brain hasn’t stopped buzzing long enough to write a blog post, and there hasn’t really been anything to update you about.

Spring is in full force here, with pollen covering everything in yellow and the wisteria blooming. If you’ve been around for a while you know that wisteria is Aleda’s flower (there’s a reason I call you all Aledans), so it’s fitting that I’ve been working on editing Fie Eoin (The Nameless Warrior) again. Well, sort of. I’ve been reading Mike’s notes for the first four chapters and slowly figuring out what to do with them, but I’ve been a bit too busy to actually put my plans into action. And I’m in my reading cycle right now (thank Aleda – it’s been forever since I was in a reading cycle!), so I’m using that reading momentum to prepare for the writing cycle that comes next (I read until I’m overflowing with ideas, then I write/edit until I burn out, then I watch HGTV and play video games to recover. It works for me).

I listened to SEVENEVES, which was one of the strangest, most wonderfully bizarre books I’ve ever read. The first two-thirds of the book are near-future SciFi based mostly on the International Space Station when the moon explodes. Shenanigans and fiery death for almost everyone! Then the book jumps 5000 years into the future and becomes basically a different book, all about the terraforming of the Earth after the fiery death ceases. There was almost too much hard scifi even for me in places, but it was still worth the listen, and the characterization was spot-on. Really, really interesting book.

Now I’m listening to A GATHERING OF SHADOWS, which is also full of fun shenanigans (as one would expect from Lila and Kell), and reading THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT, which is just…*wistful sigh* so beautiful. Everything about this book is beautiful. The writing, the characterization, the worldbuilding…I cannot say enough good things about it. Last night I had Baru Cormorant/Gathering of Shadows dreams, which were bizarre and wonderful.

And last but not least, it’s my little Fool’s birthday today:

HopsEight
Happy Birthday Hops! Eight years old and still a rockstar <3

Have a wonderful weekend Aledans! And a wonderful spring! You probably won’t see me much until May because April is always a busy month at work, and this year it’s shaping up to be doubly-so.

 

Speak the Ocean is Done! (Which Means: Query Time!)

Happy HAPPY Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! I’m happy to say we didn’t float away in last weekend’s flood, although we weren’t able to leave the neighborhood for a couple days. It made for a soggy birthday, but the chickens loved the rain – it brought up all the worms and they had a feast!

It rained so much even the cats learned to use umbrellas.
It rained so much even the cats learned to use umbrellas.

In even happier news that you might have already guessed from the title: SPEAK THE OCEAN is done! Wooooooo! Erie’s aged up so I can label it Adult instead of NA, and I’ve fixed every crutch word I could find. The last several scenes still make me cry, so I haven’t edited the heart out of it. It’s as ready to query as it’ll ever be, so once my agent list is ready I’m going to send out the first batch!

I’m sick of mermaids.

It’s Enfield time!

I still have a bunch of world building to finish before I can start writing. And I have to figure out what happens in the middle of the book to get from point A to point Z, but I’ll finally have time to devote to it without feeling like I’m procrastinating StO.

While I’m world building Enfields, I may work on re-writing the beginning of Nameless as well. I tinkered with it a bit the past couple of weeks, but didn’t get much done because StO was looming that entire time.

But first I’m celebrating with a glass of wine!

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledan Merfolk! I’m heading to see The Martian since I was rained in last weekend. I can’t wait! I also *gasp* have a custom pony to feature this weekend. In fact, I have TWO! Check back on Sunday for those beauties 🙂

Changing the Fabric of Fie Eoin's Culture

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! The past week has been a mind-boggling whirlwind for me. I thought my foot was broken (it’s not – just a burst blood vessel and shoes that rub against it, making it worse), we’ve had three different sets of people come to our house for various upkeep reasons, with another two sets yet to come, and we threw a dinner party on Saturday. One of my coworkers gave us her extra tickets to a Beck concert last spring, so we repaid her with homemade polish-style ribs, pierogies, and sauerkraut (and “Becka Margaritas” which are regular margaritas with an inappropriate amount of tequila. They didn’t go with the polish food, but no one seemed to mind ;P). The female-half of the guests got to play with my ponies and make up, while the male-half talked politics. The female-half had much more fun 😉

The spread for last weekend's dinner party
The spread for last weekend’s dinner party

Last week I mentioned that autumn always turns my thoughts to Fie Eoin, and I did indeed spend most of the past week working on that instead of Speak the Ocean. One offhand comment from Kindra made me realize that I need a god who embodies negativity/chaos. So I’ve changed the pantheon, and thus the entire fabric of Fie Eoin’s culture. Which means I have to re-write the entire damn thing…again. It’s a good thing I love this book so much, because I’m kind of sick of rewriting it.

But Kindra! Whee! It’s hard to get into her heart to write her properly, but I do love it so much when it clicks. And I’ve missed her the past two years.

I have to finish StO first, though. No more playing with Kindra and Gar and Monk until I’ve finished aging Erie up. I got the first two chapters back from a CP, and I’m headed in the right direction, so I just have to keep going. I’m trying to be ready to query by the 15th, so I need to bust my butt and finally get this thing done. Then I can play with Kindra, or with the new character from the Enfields book. I have lots of good ideas for that one, I just have to figure out where everything goes.

Have a good weekend, Aledans. We’re prepping for Hurricane Joaquin and a foot of rain here, as well as my birthday (and the Warrior’s Ceremony in FE’s world). And hey, maybe we’ll have a cut scene on Sunday to celebrate 🙂