Monday, December 2, 2013

Winning Mode

Yup, I won NaNoWriMo this year! But I still have to finish All the World was Grey. I'm fairly tempted to post and update it online, but I'm not entirely sure how to go about doing that. Maybe Google Docs? If anyone has any ideas, absolutely feel free to share them.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Planning Mode

I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and I'm definitely looking forward to it! I've seen some bloggers kind of deride it, saying that 50,000 words does not a novel make, and while that's sort of true, that's running under the assumption that everyone's just going to be bashing out every word they've ever learned to make the goal. And while I'm sure there are people who are gonna try that, there are so many more who are going to sit down and at least start a novel. It's a good jumping-off point, I think.
I don't know, I can't form too much of an opinion, it hasn't even started yet I'm just in planning mode for my novel.
Anyway, if you're doing it this year as well, or if you've just now decided to give it a try: wanna be buddies?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oh, Look!

I've been published! It isn't much, just the blog of a local environmental group, but still! Go check it out if you're interested in why I love biology, and why I think education is so important for ecology!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It Was Quiet

It was quiet and soft and patient in the way it crept in. It was like the mute stretching of shadows as the sun went down and painted the world purplish-blue. It was insidious and fine and gossamer-light. One day, you'd be fine, and the next, you'd notice that things haven't been quite right for a long, long time.
While its origination was slow and subtle, the realisation was swift and terrible. It was the dark understanding that you haven't touched that doorknob with your bare palm in months. It was the shadowed knowledge that you ignored the ritual and were fine until you noticed. It was the black realisation that your shoulders have been hunched and the skin of your hands are cracked and dry and you have't taken a proper breath in days.
It was poison.
It was, quite simply, horrible.
And, while one may write or speak about it in the past tense, with some dull notion that it was somehow easier that way, it would never be anything other than hideously, constantly, persistently present.
It was something dark and grey in your veins, clinging sharply to the inner walls and gasping for your notice. It was in the pockets of the marrow of your bones, centred most thickly in the fine bones of your wrists and hands. It was in the deeply-worn creases of your overwashed, overdried, overlamented palms.
It was different for everyone, manifesting as counting and washing and coping and screaming and coping and screaming and coping and screaming and screaming and screaming and screaming.
It was a monster with endless jaws and teeth and whispers. Something that was okay one day was horrible the next. Something that you hadn't noticed yesterday was wrong today.
It was a battle you constantly lost, a problem you hated endlessly.
It was—it is—winning. And one day, lungs burned by bleach and skin washed down the drain of the bathroom sink and tear tracks etched into your face after all these disordered years, it would win.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Willow Playlist

Go fill your ears with the auditory equivalent of Willow. This is a small, condensed version of what I listened to while writing it. Be glad it's not the massive version (though I could totally set you up with that if you wanted).
Check it out here!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Soldier Who Did Not Kill

He was a typical soldier, he supposed. Well, anyone would suppose such a thing, really. He went in right out of school, with his mother tutting nervously while his father sat back proudly. He went to training and he learned everything he was meant to, and perhaps a bit more than he’d thought he would. He was, for the first time in a long time, exhausted to the point where happiness didn’t even matter.
He did everything a training soldier was meant to do, and he did it well. He learned so much, so quickly. He and his newfound brothers learned to shoot guns, clean guns, maintain guns. They learned how to kill.
It wasn’t until his unit was deployed that anyone learned how to die.
It was sand and heat and far too much sun sparkling on the sand and rippling in the heat. So much, always, all the time. It was constant and horrible and eventually, it was so, so red. Seeping into sand and boots and cracks in hands. It was everywhere. The coppery hotness under his tongue was everything.
Sprays of red stars and grey matter and shattered hearts shone in the sun like nebulas spinning together and screaming apart. The soft rush of air before a hot bullet slipped through the air was so quiet, but hideously, viciously loud in the hush before someone fell.
It was the most heinously unfair thing, he thought, that he had been taught so many things and that he hadn’t ever properly known what death was until he saw it in the blazing deserts and sand and red red red glitter of life forcibly expelled.
His finger was always on the trigger, as any good soldier’s would be, but he was something strange and wonderful and terrible.
He was the soldier who would not kill.
Never did a bullet explode from the muzzle of his gun. Never did he drive existence out of the body of, God, anyone, friend or foe.
And then.
And then.
Heat and pain and his accidental brothers yelling and he was being lifted off the ground on which he had collapsed. It felt like the end. It felt like the last few words of the novel of his life.
It felt like void.
He woke up two days later, and went home a month after that. He’d just been shot in the leg, and was, ultimately, fine. He limped for a while, but eventually, he was able to go back to work. He was never put on the front lines again, but he was still that strange and wonderful and terrible thing.

Over thirty years at that job, and he was still, always and forever, the soldier who did not kill.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

For a Change, We Dance

So I kind of thought I'd start posting little snippets from The Willow Queen, because I'd like to be presented with a very good reason as to why I shouldn't.
That's right, you totally can't.
All that aside, here are a few paragraphs from Chapter Five. I hope you enjoy!

Life drags on, no matter how awful everything gets. It keeps going, on and on, constant and full and so thick and heavy that I can hardly breathe. But I am the same. I am constant and ongoing. I keep my ladies distracted, especially if they have sweethearts in the army. I help Charlotte prepare for her wedding. I strategize with Mel and Beaufort. I slowly read my way through the library.
When the day comes, things feel almost bright. Most of the people in the church are either female, children, too old for the military, or simply uninterested in war games. There are so few people here. Yet every single face wears a smile. The music makes us thrive. Charlotte and Alec are bursting with light.
For a change, we dance. Just like the coronation, we dance defiantly. In the wake of horror and war and death, we dance.
I fall asleep feeling slightly uneasy, full to the brim with an uncertain mixture of utter joy and inexpressible dread. The dread is such a constant thing that I’ve almost grown accustomed to it. I’m unused to happiness. How strange. It’s been three months and already happiness feels unfamiliar. This is what war does. It drains you of everything good and leaves you empty. Anything that fills you up again feels strange and, I don’t know, wrong. It ruins and scars you.
Mel hugs me in his sleep, and suddenly, I know that I’m wrong. The war may wound me, but its damage will not be permanent. As long as I have this little moment, and moments like it, I know that I’ll survive.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Let Me Just Say

While summaries will be the death of me and synopses merely an unfortunate bout of the flu, query letters might just resurrect me for the sake of killing me again.
And to think, people do this with only hope spurring them on.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Playing Favourites

Technology is a wonderful thing. It's been finely honed to give the world the iPad, and a bunch of apps to put on it. These are some of the apps I use for my writing.
For the record, I don't know what other platforms have these apps, but I know that you can get them for your iPad, and maybe even your other iProducts.
Also be well aware that all of these are free. I'm a total cheapskate, and I'd imagine that I'm not alone in that. Relish this news.
The funny bit is that all of the screenshots are from the iPhone. I don't even have an iPhone.
This is a great story structure app. There are various different places to flesh out ideas and characters and everything. It's incredibly simple and allows you to connect ideas. It's sort of like a series of questionnaires, and I love that. The character section, for example, asks for stuff like height (eight feet), hair colour (N/A), and external conflict. Cool, no?
I'm not impressed with the sudden bout of ads suddenly filling up the screen, but, hey, it's free.
This one's just a lot of fun to play with. I've got a million notebooks going right now, and one is devoted to my current project. It's pretty user-friendly, and allows you to draw and write and put in pictures all over the place. It's a great place to compile your inspiration.
It's still kind of glitchy, but honestly, it's worth it. It is really cool.
This one's great. I use it on my iPad and my computer, though I vastly prefer organising on my iPad. It's so much easier. It's perfect for collecting and organising inspiration and things you find in your research. I also use it as a sort of makeshift YouTube playlist, but that is not the point. Here's my writing Pearltree, feel free to peruse technical information and inspiration all at the same time!
This is one of those catch-all apps. Most of my favourites are, actually. Whatever, I like having lots of places to jot down ideas at three in the morning. I like to write full scenes in this one, actually. Unlike the Moleskine app, it uses your iThing's autocorrect, so you can at least be marginally coherent when you write. It's simple to use, and that's how I roll, yo.
If you think you don't need a dictionary and/or thesaurus, you are wrong. So very, very wrong. I mean, where else are you gonna look up words like Tarmac or wiles at three in the morning? Google?
Okay, yeah, probably.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Years and Years

I sort of feel like posting more short stories (and eventually a few serials) on here, and you know, I totally will. Gotta stretch those writing muscles, or something like that.
Anyway, here's a little thing I wrote this evening! Let me know what you think! I'd really appreciate prompts, as well. They can be as simple as words or ideas, or as complicated as vague storylines you'd like to see fleshed out. Feel free to share!

Years and Years
They had known each other for years and years and years. To the pair of them, the beginning of their friendship felt like the beginning of the universe. It was like the Big Bang, the spark that ignited every last little thing. It was intrinsic and absolute; no universe could exist without their friendship, and that was the thing.
The pair had known each other since before they were born; their mothers had been in the same expecting mothers group, and they had been born on the same day. He’d been a trouble baby, kept under close watch while she thrived on the outside world. Once he got past that, though, he was perfectly fine. He was simply perfect.
They grew up together, spouting like evergreens and daisies. He grew tall and strong and brave, and she grew fine and delicate and braver. She saved him from the bullies, and he saved her from her own self-destructive tendencies.
The pair celebrated every birthday together, and it was the celebration of their eighteenth that broke their hearts.
It had become quite obvious to each in turn, truth be told. It clicked almost simultaneously as they danced at their birthday party, hands warm on her waist and his shoulder. It was the finality or a camera shutter clicking shut, or coffin lid banging closed.
It was the absolute saddest thing either had ever known.
Each saw it flash in the other’s eyes, and each felt their heart break. She was leaving in the morning, and he was staying behind.
But still, in the soft light of dusk, grass brushing their ankles, their lips touched so lightly.
It was a kiss that had waited for years and years, and when it came, it was the saddest kiss the world had ever known. It was a kiss that said either tonight or forever, no in-between. It was a kiss like ashes in their mouths, burned and forgotten memories and what-ifs.
So she touched his lips once again, letting the song play out, knowing all the while that all she could do was leave.
Decades later, their paths crossed, and she tasted ashes in her mouth again. Her husband and daughter smiled cheerfully enough at the old friend, and they caught up on each others’ lives, hearing the impossible possibilities threaded between each word.

They both went home that night, and they did not remember.

Friday, June 28, 2013


I love you, Modcloth.
Author tours are a thing, right? So, if I end up getting published, and if my things are popular (as we all know they will be, I'm fantastic), and author tours are actually a thing, can I have a big ol' dress budget set into my contract?
Please and thank you, anonymous faces of the internet.
Sometimes, adorable dresses inspire you to write, and that is okay.

Friday, June 21, 2013


My first reader has completed their mission. That is, reading and telling me things as they do so.
I am pleased.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Music is one of the most important pieces of my writing process. Certainly more than Tetris. As such, I compile playlists every time I start a new project, because I know how much of an impact music has on my writing. It offers inspiration when the well runs dry, helps me to properly envision the scene, and is a good way to waste time while still telling people, "Leave me alone, I'm busy doing writer things."
I've already talked about two of the songs on my Willow playlist, but here's another. It's a slow, haunting melody that really worked well for the more emotional aspects of the story, of which there were many.
Seriously, guys, I'm an emotional wreck.
Worth it, though.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Trouble with Names

Location names and surnames are hard, guys.
I just use name sites for first names. I'm not even sorry.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Part of Your World

I'm watching a mockumentary about mermaids. It's called Mermaids: The Body Found, and Animal Planet put it out last year. It's fascinating, and wildly inspiring, but what's funny is how certain people are that this is an actual documentary about real events and stuff.
Seriously, guys, slow down. It's not real.
Of course, there are more things in heaven and earth, but you guys have to chill. It's an interesting film, done in an interesting fashion, and not fodder for conspiracy theories.
Writing about mermaids is making me a cynic. Whoops.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

First Tendrils of Fear

Yet another attempted summary for Willow. I'm not sure if I dislike it more or less than previous attempts. It feels like less. Have I found a decent one?
Callie was born and bred to be special, though never very important. When she quite unexpectedly finds herself the queen of a country at war, she quickly finds that no head is heavier than the one that wears the crown.
While I like that this kind of captures the general feel for my novel, there's not much about the plot. Like, at all. What. So. Ever.
I can do a little four-word tagline fairly well (Queens must never falter (it's okay)), but an actual summary? That's terrifying, yo.
Writing a proper synopsis isn't quite as frightening, as the point of that is to sum up the whole thing, beginning to end. No need to make people wonder Oh, gosh, what happens next? But a summary has to hook you, grab you in and hold you tight and never, ever let you go.
Well, not quite, but you know what I mean.
Callie is a young duchess who marries a prince. She leaves her peaceful home for court life, making her own home among the nobility. When she finds herself quite unexpectedly as the queen of a nation at war, however, she discovers that not all battles are fought with soldiers. Callie must suffer personal tragedies while ruling her nation and waging war. How can she lead her people to victory when she can barely keep herself together?
I think the best summary, however is this: A story of loss and unknown strength, The Willow Queen will hopefully leave you an emotional wreck just like the author.
Just tellin' it like it is. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Writing Motto

"Back that thing up."
BACK THAT THING UP. I don't care if you use email, Dropbox, a flash drive, or whatever: back up your work all the time.
These are things we very nearly learn the hard way.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tools of the Trade

These are some of my chosen writing tools. We've got three different notebooks, a sketchbook, several different colours of pens, and a pencil. Though you can see that, actually. I write on a computer, but I like to compile my thoughts and inspirations in notebooks.
I mostly use the black notebook, and it's slowly starting to fill with absurd notes like, reminders to pay my application fee for CSUCI, bits of dialogue ("I rather think I have a better grasp on English than you do."), and chunks of snark like "He is a middle-school girl, okay?" 
The big one is strictly for my current project. So far, I have notes on the species I've created (also a drawing), decisions on how to feel about certain characters, and quotes that act as inspiration. This is where the different colours come in handy. Each has a different purpose, though, truth be told, I haven't totally figured out what yet. Still useful.
Seriously, though, I am literally never without something to write with and on. When I went to the Renaissance Faire and couldn't find the little circle notebook, I made one out of sketchbook paper. I'm clever like that. My iPad works in a pinch as well. At the end of the day, I just collect relevant things into the black notebook, and one of these days, I'll do the same with my big notebook.
Finally: a sketch of a character and some really messy writing. It's all good, yo.

Monday, April 29, 2013

So Still, So Serene

Have I said that I'm terrible at summarising things? Because I am. I really, really am.
That being said, I've taken another crack at it and come up with one that's really short and not that hideous. I think.
This story, like so many others, is about a girl who marries a prince and finds her Happily Ever After. Quite a lot happens between the first and the last, though, as Callie finds herself ruling a nation at war. Personal tragedies befall her, but she keeps on going; after all, the queen is a beacon of hope.
Okay, I still hate it. I guess I just have to keep coming up with summaries until I find one that doesn't make me want to tear my hair out in giant clumps. Blah.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Real Live Mermaids

Sometimes, during your research, you come across people who are way too convinced that mermaids are real. Guys, seriously. The US National Ocean Service said that no evidence has ever been found. And this was last year.
I love researching for novels, you just discover all sorts of things that you never intended to know about.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ever the Professional

Truth be told, most of my writing process includes playing Tetris. I can't even say it aids in inspiring me or whatever, it's just fun.
Maybe I'm a Tetris addict.
Can't stop, won't stop.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

On Loop

While writing The Willow Queen, there were quite a few songs that I played constantly. I had two playlists set up for it, one with more modern songs, one that sounded more like a movie score, and it was fantastic. For this second project, I'm sadly lacking Spotify, so I'm just randomly sifting through music in the hidden realms within YouTube. Worth it.
Either way, here are two of the songs I had on repeat for The Willow Queen.

"Soldier On" by Temper Trap. It sort of became my theme song for my main character, and it became a major inspiration for the whole novel. It has a tremendous sort of strength that was channeled directly into the main character, and I think it affected it hugely. Not that I'm complaining.
"Metamorphosis 2" by Philip Glass was another major inspirational song. This one went on the playlist that sounded like a movie score, for good reason. It starts off a bit solemn, but there's the undercurrent of, I dunno, excitement, I think, running through it. I dunno, it just fit. I'm the writer, I say it works.
Also, while writing the book, I ended up listening to more Renaissance and traditional Indian music than I'd ever assumed I would, ever. These are things that happen.