I’ve been thinking

If you’re on my personal facebook, or even follow the Amber Marie Writes facebook, you may have seen this already, but I felt it worth repeating here. I had a bit of a rough year last year, as did everyone. It hasn’t gotten much better this year but I’m pushing through and I’m determined to make something good this year. This post kind of came to me after I saw a graphic in my memories and I thought it was important enough to share here with maybe a little more detail than I’d put on my facebook. Some of it is a little difficult to talk about but the overall idea is about making art out of the difficult stuff that happens.

As most of you know, if you’ve paid any attention at all over the last year, I lost my Dad March 13th of last year. What only my brother knows, is that the night before Dad died, Damien and I were at the hospital until two in the morning. We were emotional and trying to distract ourselves. I had been gearing up for Camp NaNo which happens every year in April. I had written out an outline that I had spent the last couple of months creating from a random thought into an actual story. It wasn’t easy but dealing with everything those last couple of months with Dad gave us, it gave me something else to focus on while working nights. So, my brother and I sat there, three foot from my dad, talking about this outline, talking about my ideas, to distract us from what was happening in the bed right next to us. Dad died the next afternoon. And despite everything that happened in the years leading up to that moment, and no matter how many time we told ourselves we were, we weren’t ready. I wasn’t ready.

Then the world shut down in almost the same breath as we lost Dad. We were trapped at home. People were scared. I was grieving. Hard. I had no idea what to do and my brain desperately was searching for something to do. So a couple of weeks later, when April started, I did what I had planned to do. I did Camp Nano. I set goals, and I smashed them. Quickly.

It had been a very long time since I had finished anything besides a short story. I’d get almost to the end of something and then I just couldn’t finish it. It was frustrating. I started to feel like that with this but I pushed on. I made myself write every second I wasn’t working, or helping the kids with school, or cleaning the house. I did my best. I distracted myself to escape the pain. And this amazing thing happened. On April 25th, 2020, I finished Hold On. Sure, it was just a first draft. Sure, it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was just a piece of fanfiction that I may or may not publish anywhere. It was for me. I wrote my emotions out. I took that grief and turned it into something beautiful.

My goals, as you can see, were simple, 10k words minimum. That was my goal. just something on paper. Anything. Create Art, which I created a lot of art. I really did. And to finish it. Which I did. 25 days and I finished it. Ending with 18 chapters and a total of roughly 63, 457 words. I have never won a full NaNoWriMo before since I started competing in 2013. And the goal there is only 50k in 30 days. I wrote 63k in 25 days. It was huge.

That feeling allowed me to keep going. It allowed me to keep writing and to write everyday. When it’s not a NaNo month (April and November are when I participate), the timeline I give myself is somewhat more relaxed. And by the time October of last year rolled around, I had finished 3 stories, one was primed to go to my editor, and I was working on three more, as the ideas struck. I was making art, so much art, I had perfected my writing process. I was doing so well and I knew, without a doubt that I was going to kick NaNo’s ass in November. If I could do it in April, I could do it in November.

Then my Mom died. And it was, ugh. I shut down. Immediately. It was like my brain had a moment where it went “We’ve already done this, we are NOT doing this again!” I tried to do what I’d done earlier in the year, but I’d stare at the screen and couldn’t make the words come. I just couldn’t. They were gone. The words, the ideas, they were still there, I could feel them but they were silent. For once in my writing life, the voices that guide me were silent. And it was deafening.

I didn’t do NaNo last year. I barely made it through November. Dad’s funeral, finally, then Mom’s the next day. It was, a lot. Then the kids started acting out. Jay almost missed Thanksgiving. Emily hated her 16th birthday, even though I tried. Emily has been acting out since. Sneaking out, and taking off for weeks at a time. This has been constant since November. It hasn’t made the words come, if anything they feel farther away.

I’ve started editing again, because despite everything, life goes on. As much as I’d love to sit and never have to process the things I put off at the end of last year so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it, life doesn’t work that way. So, while I still can barely write, I’ve been editing. I’ve been plotting. I will make it through whatever I have to, and not lose my identity as a writer. I have to, because who am I if I’m not?

My 2k20 Camp NaNo Goals graphic was in my memories recently, and I saw it before I’d even had my first cup of coffee and when I saw it, I immediately remembered that sense of pride I felt when I was done. I felt my chest swelling with it again. I felt my shoulders squaring and my head lifting just a bit. It may be just a simple fanfiction that got me through a large portion of my grief. 63k words that I wasn’t sure I’d ever show to anyone. But I’m so glad that I did. It was officially published on August 31st of last year. Since then I’ve gotten 22 comments telling me what a great story it is. 22 comments telling me I was good at this. 22 comments that helped me get through the hardest year of my life, so far. As of yesterday, I’m up to 107 kudos, which if you read anything on AO3, you know that isn’t that great, but it’s not bad either. And the newest Kudos was just yesterday, according to my email.

I created something that will last. I created something. I took my grief and shaped it into a stepping stone for my goals. This stone may be a bit harder and I’m still working on it. I may be juggling more than one stone right now, but that’s all they are. Stepping stones to my dreams. Stepping stones to my goals. Each painted a different color of memory. I can take this, and I can use it. Art is emotion after all.

If you read all of this, thank you. It’s really just to remind myself that even when it hurts, even when it feels like you’re going to break, you never know what’s going to happen next and that next thing, may be everything you ever needed.

Leftovers

I know that it’s been a while since I’ve been here, but there have been a lot of things going on personally the last few months. But here I am, back at it and hopefully there won’t be too many more interruptions.

So we are going to kick off May with a lovely new Short Story Saturday. I’m going to pick up where we left off with Ailee Creed and her time in Port Shadeau. So, enjoy!

    Ailee set down the boxes she’d been carrying and wiped her forearm over her brow.  A quick glance at the clock as she opened the top box told her she wasn’t too far from the end of her shift.  With a smile she went back to unloading the boxes and putting the products on the shelf.  When she was finally done, she checked in with her Assistant manager who was working the evening shift, said goodbye to employees still on the clock, and then clocked out.  

    She made her way downstairs toward where Marlowe was also finishing her shift.  Ailee waited, leaned against the end of the counter flipping through a magazine while she finished doing what she was doing.  Once Marlowe was done they walked to the back to grab Marlowe’s coat and went out into the city to find something for dinner.  

    The next couple of days went the same way, and Ailee was happy to finally have a friend. It made her new life in Port Shadeau a little more bearable.  After work on Friday, Marlowe and Ailee met up at Marlowe’s for a couple of drinks and to make dinner.  Marlowe’s husband Wilder was at work for the weekend and so Marlowe had the apartment to herself.  They sat around at the counter and discussed the options for dinner.  

    “I have a lot of easy stuff because I’m not a big fan of cooking.” Marlowe explained standing in front of her fridge and trying to find something to make for them. “It’s such a difference cooking for me as opposed to cooking when Wilder is home.” 

    “Just because you make easy food doesn’t mean it has to taste easy.” Ailee said setting her beer on the counter and sliding off of the stool.  She moved to stand beside Marlowe.  

    “I don’t know how.” Marlowe said, shaking her head.  Ailee just grinned. 

    “I can teach you.  Let me see what you’ve got in here.” Ailee spent a couple of minutes looking through Marlowe’s fridge and cupboards.  She amassed a small collection of things on the counter and then looked at Marlowe.  “Okay.  Let me grab a couple of seasonings from my place that you don’t have, and I’m going to teach you to make something really delicious that isn’t complicated at all.” She said with a grin.  

    After she grabbed the few things from her apartment that she needed, she got to work in the kitchen teaching Marlowe how to make Chicken Penne.  They spent the time laughing and talking and Ailee was happy to really feel like she had a new friend here.  When the food was done, Marlowe was impressed about how easy it was to cook and it smelled amazing.  They sat down and shared a good meal with a lot of laughs and had a great evening.  When dinner was done, they worked together to clean the kitchen and pack up the leftovers.  

    “So, I’m gonna take these home with me since I don’t have to work tomorrow.” Ailee told her with a grin picking up the container off the counter.  

    “Oh no, those are staying here. I have to show Wilder I can actually cook.” Marlowe told her with a grin as she attempted to swipe at the container in Ailee’s hand.  

The girls devolved into a silly play fight over the leftovers before Ailee let Marlowe take them with a proud smile. She went home feeling happy that she had taught her friend the benefits of good food. Marlowe waited no time in taking the leftovers down to the fire house to share with Wilder. It took only one bite before he had shared with a couple of friends, offering a bite or two a piece. He was proud of his wife. When Marlowe got home, she had texted Ailee and asked her to do weekly cooking lessons, and Ailee was happy to agree. It was something wonderful and she was happy to be settling into her new life in Port Shadeau and settled into bed that night with a smile on her face.

Character Profile – Marlowe Lark

This week I wanted to tell you guys all about Marlowe Lark.

Marlowe Lark is the manager at the bookstore, the Librarie, and makes friends with Ailee Creed on her first day. It doesn’t take long for the two of them to become good friends.

Marlowe married a Diffuser, or Arkane fire fighter, named Wilder Lark when she was twenty two. They were high school sweethearts and didn’t let anything stand in their way. They moved to Port Shadeau about five years prior to the start of this story because of Wilder being transferred there. She started working at the bookstore shortly after and about a year later, they bought the larger of the two studio apartments above the Librarie itself. While they have no children, Marlowe and Wilder live a full life.

Marlowe loves to travel, and when their schedules align, they tend to go somewhere new. It averages out to one vacation a month. Although sometimes they prefer to stay at home and never leave their bed.

Marlowe spends a lot of time on her own because of her husband’s work schedule. Since she doesn’t work weekends, she usually spends her time reading and drinking tea. She also likes to wander around Port Shadeau and Seattle trying to find things no one else has. She hikes sometimes out to remote locations so she can play a little with the air discipline that she can’t use as much inside the city. Normally, she will sit on rooftops in the summer with a book and let herself play with the wind around her.

She takes great pride in the way she runs the Librarie. She likes to do special themes every couple of weeks to try and bring people into the shop. Ailee, once she hears about the plan, does her best to create special drinks to match the theme as well.

I don’t know if there are going to be too many surprises with Marlowe. So far she seems like the steady, kind of crazy, force you’d want as a best friend. This week’s Short Story Saturday features heavily on Ailee and Marlowe’s budding friendship as they hang out after work one day. I can’t wait for you guys to read it!

Let me know what you guys think of Marlowe, I’m excited to hear your thoughts!

Currently Writing

As you have probably figured out by the last couple of posts, I am always working on Short Story Saturday, however, I am also writing something else as well.

Just before my world blew up, I started working on the sequel for Noctivagus, tentatively titled Paroxysm. So far, I’m about twenty chapters in and already I know it needs some structuring. I am really excited about it actually.

Then just before the holidays, I got the manuscript evaluation back from my editor Erika, over at The Werd Nerd. You guys should check her out, she’s amazing! She sent me such a detailed report, that the work that needs to be done doesn’t seem all that daunting really. I am actually excited about the changes that have to be made for Noctivagus.

So how do I keep writing the sequel if I’m still making changes on the first story? Good question. I just know I have a lot to make happen, and the worst thing I could do is to stop writing. I took the last couple of weeks off to spend time with my family that visited for the holidays. Well, they left yesterday, so I am excited to get together with Erika and talk over the list she sent.

I have plans to keep writing the sequel, as it stands, Reid is facing a couple of challenges at the moment, and some of them are personal while some of them are a bit bigger than that. He’s having a bit of trouble working through some of these challenges and it’s starting to show in his stress levels. In addition to all of that he’s continuing to work. He’s still on Penelope’s protection detail, but he has his work to do for Atlas still.

I’m excited to see how this year shapes up as a writing year. I wrote three novel length stories last year, and a couple of short stories. Due to personal setbacks, I have been negligent in writing as much as I wanted to, but this year, I’m going to work as hard as I can to keep not only my writing on track as well as my writing platform running as well.

Well, have a great day guys! See you later!

Setting – Ailee Creed’s Apartment

Today we are going to talk about Ailee’s apartment. I mentioned before that she lives above the bookstore and cafe that she works at. It’s a little 500 sq ft studio space. I actually took inspiration for the entire thing from a post on Pinterest. I saw it an immediately knew it was the look I was hoping for for Ailee.

I don’t know what it was about it, but everything about it screamed that character’s name in my head. Back when I knew almost nothing about her but her name and her basic look, it made me latch onto it quickly. I followed the link and read all about the awesome lady that lived in this studio in Seattle. It seemed to be kismet.

So I gathered up the pictures, and then started making a few changes here and there, and I probably will continue to do so as the story goes on. I just loved the jewel toned colors and wood floors. It seems like the sort of space I would love, even though there isn’t enough room for me to craft. It seemed perfect for a person just starting out. Which of course, meant that it was perfect for Ailee.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look into Ailee’s apartment. I hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing what I’m thinking of as I describe the apartment more in future stories. Have a great day guys!

Character Profile – Ailee Creed

So, if you caught the last Short Story Saturday, you got to meet a brand new character by the name of Ailee Creed. There are a few characters in the cast of the stories that will take place in Port Shadeau. Today I will do my best to introduce you to the main character, Ailee and hopefully we can all find out something about her together.

When we first meet Ailee she’s hanging out in her apartment considering a list of things she wants to do. Having recently moved to Port Shadeau from another location in the Arkane world, she’s just starting this new life. She talks a little about her estranged boyfriend Gideon, and the death of her father, but she doesn’t elaborate on either one.

From what I know so far, because I’m making this up as I go, after her dad dies, she doesn’t much want to hang around in Cheaveaux so she plans to move. When she chooses Port Shadeau, she asks Gideon to come with her, and he declines. She doesn’t see this as too much of a deterrent as those in the Arkane world can travel via Geo Drifting.

Geo Drifting is an easy way to travel once you’ve been trained. Drift points, which can appear in any location and often take the form of a doorway. An arch in the woods made of twisted branches, or a doorway at the back of an alley that appears to lead into a building. it could be anything. Most often in Arkane cities, they appear in their natural form, an archway filled with a swatch of swirling purple color, most often tucked up against a wall somewhere.

Drift points are easy to maneuver as long as you have a clear idea of where you’re trying to go, anywhere in the world. Essentially they’re portals, but only Arkane can use them. If a Jejune (typical non-Arkane human) were to walk through one of these Drift locations, nothing would happen. They’d simply be on the other side of the archway or door. By using these, Ailee could walk through a Drift point in Port Shadeau, Washington and walk out in Paris, France. The entire trip taking no longer than a few seconds.

Although not completely important to the story of Ailee, it is important to the Arkane world. Due to the ease of travel, living in another state from Gideon doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Once she moves, however, he goes radio silent and she’s having a hard time dealing with it.

Ailee finds work in a bookstore cafe, which she also lives above for now. The bookstore, called the Librarie, is managed by a young woman named Marlowe Lark. The two of them become fast friends, and she finds it refreshing to have someone to talk to after a couple of weeks of near radio silence. Ailee is excited about the opportunity to run the cafe alongside Marlowe. She is concerned about some of her employees, and their well-being but isn’t too worried. it seems like a wonderful challenge, and exciting opportunity.

I’m not sure yet what her larger motivations are, but I’m sure that by the end of March we will know. I created these characters as little more than outlines. The prompts for 2021 are set, and I have sketched out a basic outline between now and March. Whether the story will continue after that or not, we will have to see. I hope to add more depth to Ailee as a character in the future. At least more than a mid-20’s blonde woman who has just moved to a new city and likes photography and has a crappy boyfriend. The story is really taking shape and I’m excited to share it with you! Have a wonderful day guys!

Character Profile – Asher Jameson

Hello again! I’d like to introduce you to our second Vampire character, Asher. Asher is the friend everyone wants. He is the gentlemanly boyfriend we all wish we had. He is amazing and I’m so glad you get to meet him today. You’ve already met Bailey, and even though I created them, it is hard to think of one without the other. I briefly debated on just doing one long blog post with the two of them in it because I have a hard time with it. Then I decided against it because I wanted to do justice to Asher’s story. So, without further ado, please meet Asher.

Asher Dean Jameson was born in September, 1931. He was poor and grew up with strong morals thanks to his parents. When he was turned into a Vampire in 1952, it was with full knowledge of what that would mean for him, but after losing his entire family, he didn’t care about living without them anymore. At least this way he could be of service. Unlike Reid, he is actively trying to do the things he needs to to climb the ranks of Vampire and Elentori hierarchy. He wants to be the best he can be, and he’s good at his job.

Asher met Reid shortly after he was turned. Reid was one of the people sent to kill Asher’s maker for crimes unspecified. He hit it off with Asher and took the young vampire back to Paris with him for a few years. After which Asher made his way back to the US. When Reid left Akina, he sought out Asher to help him hide out. Asher is one of the few people on the planet that Reid considers family and as such, would do anything to protect him. The feeling is mutual. Asher would do anything for his family at Vampire House, but Reid especially. He’s the one that introduced Reid to Atlas and got him the job with them once Emma was grown. They’ve spent most of the last decade acting like typical twenty-somethings, and enjoying themselves.

Asher has a fascination with cars. He tends to spend his free time fixing them up and then donating them for charity auctions. He’s going back to college for a couple of reasons, it helps maintain the blending in, and he is learning something new about cars that he doesn’t know. With the advances in technology and the computers that now run almost every part of a car, he wants to know how to do that. It wasn’t a class when he was last in school. That’s where he meets Bailey.

Bailey was like no one Asher had ever met before. His attraction to her was unmistakable and more than a little overwhelming. After explaining it to his brother Eli, he learned about the concept of Twin Flames. It was then he learned that Bailey was his. Even so, he wanted to do things the right way. He woos her, romances her, respects her parents and more than that respects Bailey and everything she wants to achieve.

He meets Penelope and Ryan and forms and instant connection with Ryan. They become unlikely friends and despite the drama surrounding their mutual friends, they never lose touch. Asher goes to visit Ryan quite a bit and they stay quite close. He gets along with Penelope as well, and because of how important she is to Bailey, he feels the immediate need to protect her from anything that may harm her. He supports her like he would his sister Becks and Penelope, in turn, doesn’t give him too much trouble about dating her best friend.

Asher is one of my favorite people to write. His relationship with Bailey is my favorite thing about this story, in all honesty. I want what they have. I can’t wait for the next book so that you guys get to see what is next for them.

That’s all for today. As always guys, Be Awesome!