Geo-Drifting in the Arkane World

One of the ways that the Arkane world differs from our world, is the main method of travel. Everyone in the Arkane world, Elentori and Arkane alike, are able to Geo-Drift. Geo-drifting isn’t a new concept, it’s just a new name for teleportation. Using a system of naturally occurring portals, the members of the Arkane world can seamlessly and quickly travel from any place on the planet and appear seconds later in another part of the world.

It takes a lot of training to learn how to properly use the portals, you cannot go somewhere that you cannot picture clearly, and doing so usually ends badly. Though not difficult to master once you’re taught, it usually takes a few tries with a guide before you’re able to get it right. They can take the form of naturally occurring circles in the woods, tunnels, some doorways, pools of water, alley’s are popular spots in larger cities. Any sort of liminal space can house a portal. Learning how to identify one is sometimes the hardest part. A Karhu can walk right through and never know, but a member of the Arkane world will always know.

It isn’t uncommon for Elentori (human passing mythological races; example: vampires, shifters, selfies, sirens, etc.) or Arkane (humans born with the ability to manipulate one of the six naturally occurring elements) to end up married to a Karhu (regular person), so there are ways to drift without being born into one of these two circles. There are several characters that I have written who Drift by means of a “Drift Ring”. These rings are specially designed by the Arkane peoples and contain at least one representative of each element. Common substances include, a gemstone of some kind, meteorite, opal, metal, and antler or bone. Abalone shells are also common.

Each element must be involved in some way in the construction of the ring, and then the finished product is spelled to ensure its usefulness. These Drift Rings can only be given out by the crone of whatever territory you happen to live in. The entire application process isn’t difficult, though it does take a lot of time, except in a few rare cases. Usually a couple will apply for their rings before departing for their honeymoon and often they are ready when they get back.

No one is quite certain when the portals started appearing, but the best information says somewhere around the sixth century. According to legend, until the seventeenth century, some portals led to other dimensions, though that is no longer possible, and there are not many left who know why. If there are, they usually refuse to speak on it, as it has been so long ago that their memories cannot be trusted.

I sort of wish that I could Drift, or that this was a real form of travel. I have friends in all corners of the United States and it would be great to be able to visit them as quick as nothing. It would be a lot cheaper and I wouldn’t miss so much of my California kids lives.

Well, that’s it for today. You guys have a great one and I’ll talk to you later. As always, behave.

The Arkane World

Okay folks, it’s occurred to me that though I am now working on the third book for the Bluebird Chronicles, and I’ve told you quite a bit about different settings and characters, I haven’t told you much about the Arkane world. Even the setting for Port Shadeau (My Short Story Saturday series) is in the Arkane world and the rules aren’t exactly explained. I aim to rectify that in the future. Not only am I running out of settings that I can tell you about, not settings that exist mind you, but settings that I can reveal right now, but I want to start letting you in on more of the Arkane world than I can conceivably convey in just one series.

The Arkane world is vast. Made up of six Arkane Alliances that span several countries and continents, sometimes completely ignoring the boundary lines that we know on our own maps. The Alliances are made up of Territories, each of which is ruled over by the Crone of that Territory. There are thirty-three Crones in all, throughout the entire world. Serving under the Crones, and charged with keeping the peace between the Elentori (Magical Creatures like Vampires, Werewolves, etc.), the Arkane (Humans with abilities that pertain to one of the six elements), and the Karhu (Non-magical humans) are the sixty-six Sages, and the sixty-six Lords or Ladies. There are two of each per Territory. The Sages are primarily in charge of the Elentori population, where as the Lords and Ladies are in charge of the Arkane population within their specific Territory.

For example, Baxter Vartlett is the Crone in charge of Territory Three of the North American Arkane Alliance (NAAA). Working for him are the Sages, Atlas Rivers (Eldritch Demon), and Ivy Herrick (Vampire). They are in charge of the entire Elentori population residing within the borders of the Midwest Territory. Velvela Dewbrook and Antonella Havendale are the Ladies in charge of the Arkane population. The Karhu are regulated by their own governmental bodies.

If the Crones are equivalent to the President, the Sages and Lords/Ladies are the governors. It helps keep crime to a minimum, and peace between the three groups of people. There are members of the Karhu governments that do know about the Arkane world, though the number is limited.

The Arkane world boasts sixty-six schools designed to teach the Arkane children. They don’t start school until they turn sixteen and do not finish until they are twenty or twenty-one, depending on where their birthday falls. Some schools are smaller, but there are several larger ones that teach speciality information that isn’t as common. Arkane schools teach the Arkane children how to control their abilities as they correspond to the six elements: Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Metal, and Wood. As Arkane children hit puberty, their abilities start to manifest. They can be as mundane as helping plants to grow, like Cedar Wolfendale, or manifesting and controlling air currents in small areas, like Izara Sutton, who regularly floats six inches off the floor while wearing ballet Pointe shoes because she can. Then there are people like Keita Hayes, who when upset can burn the surrounding flora in a one-hundred foot radius from the inside out, or Rowan Alderton, who can manipulate emotions. There are also some abilities that are completely useless, and others that are dangerous, so training is very important.

In addition to the Elentori and Arkane populations, there are also magical creatures and other such things that exist as part of the Arkane world. I plan to get into all of them a little more deeply as the weeks go on, because explaining the Arkane world, that took me over a decade to create, with quite a bit of help, cannot be summed up in one blog post. This is just the introduction to a very long series. Come along for a ride and learn about the world that The Bluebird Chronicles and the next couple of series are based in. I can’t wait to show you everything.

Jackelope’s are just one of the many magical creatures that exist in the Arkane World.

So my friends, thanks for reading thus far. As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have a wonderful adventure this weekend my loves. Ta ta!

Bye Bye Butterfly!

My Summer Reading List – Summer 2022

Amber Marie’s Summer Reading List Graphic

This summer I am going to read a lot of books. My goal is 12, but I’m sure there will be more! Between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox there are exactly 12 weeks. My current TBR list…it’s over fifty books long. So there are a lot of choices. In the past I’ve decided what order I was going to read in, not this time. Several of these books don’t even come out at different points in the summer. Some of them are already out, or came out recently. I’m excited about it. So without further ado, here’s the list. Read with me if you want. Or feel free to suggest more books that you think I should read.

Amber Marie’s 2k22 Summer Reading List
(In order of publication date)

Temptation by Ivy Smoak – published April 8, 2015
Suddenly Dirty by JA Law – published April 1, 2016
Mr. Perfect by JA Huss – published April 27, 2016
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – published August 2, 2016
Firefighter Griffin by Zoe Chant – published December 3, 2016

Greed by Lana Pecherczyk – published July 8, 2019
Bad Prince by Lilian Monroe – published October 1, 2019
The Longing of Lone Wolves by Lana Pecherczyk – published June 8, 2020
Curvy Girls Can’t Date Quarterbacks by Kelsie Stelting – published July 31, 2020
Promises and Pomegranates by Sav R. Miller – published August 10, 2021

Reborn by Anne K. Whelan & Liz Cain – published August 13, 2021
Hooked by Emily McIntyre – published September 7, 2021
A Throne of Ruin by K.F. Breene – published November 12, 2021
Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score – published January 13, 2022
Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox – published April 28, 2022

The Wild Side by Cassie-Ann L. Miller – published May 12, 2022
Filthy Rich Vampire by Genova Lee Albin – published May 24, 2022
Phoebe by Minerva Spencer – published May 31, 2022
A Frankness of Character by Pemberly Darcy and A. Lady – published June 3, 2022
Filthy by Tia Louise – published June 9, 2022

Hell Gate by Veronica Eden – published June 9, 2022
Rowan by Robin D. Mahle – published June 9, 2022
Alpha’s Redemption by Skye Wilson – published June 13, 2022
An Unpleasant Sort of Man by Michelle D’Arcy – published June 14, 2022
Blind Side by Kandi Steiner – published June 15, 2022

(These titles not yet published)
On Thin Ice by Kat Obie – published June 23, 2022
Not a Vampire by Auryn Hadley – June 24, 2022
Tangle of Dragons by Jane Darkspire – published June 27, 2022
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston – published June 28, 2022
Yellow by N.M. Burns – published June 29, 2022

Click the Bell to Subscribe by N. M. Burns – published June 29, 2022
Captured by Billionaires by Drusilla Swan – published June 30, 2022
The Phoenix Prophecy: Nova by Cara Clare – published July 1, 2022
Deucalion Academy: Pawn of the Gods by Ruby Vincent – published July 2, 2022
Audrey by Elle Lincoln – published July 5, 2022

The Sedition of Sophie Covey by Tana Rose – published July 5, 2022
Blood and Vows by K. Easton & Amanda Richardson – published July 7, 2022
Amp by Sybur Phyre – published July 11, 2022
Noire by Anna Fury – published July 12, 2022
Demons So Dark by Alessa Allure – published July 22, 2022

Midnight Sin by Morgan Elliott – published July 26, 2022
Silenced by Jayce Carter – published July 26, 2022
A Vampire in Rosings Park by Penelope Talbot & A. Lady – published July 30, 2022
Invoking the Blood by Kalista Neith – published August 2, 2022
A History of Vampires: A New Queen by Amanda Lewis – August 8, 2022

Ruthless by Gena Showalter – published August 9, 2022
Consort by Ada Dart – published August 14, 2022
Dawn of the Dark Ice by Grady P. Brown -published August 21, 2022
Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck – published August 23, 2022
Numinous by Victoria Woods – published August 23, 2022

Sanctuary by Holly Hanzo – published August 26, 2022
Pack of Lies by Charlie Adhara – published August 30, 2022
Wolf Found by Kaylin Peyerk – published August 31, 2022
Vamps: Fresh Blood by Nicole Arend – published September 1, 2022
The Siren and the Water Witch by Cameron Allie – September 16, 2022
Fated to be King by Skye Alder – published September 16, 2022

That’s the list. I hope you enjoy it. If you decide to read along with me, let me know which ones you pick and what you think of it! You never know, I could just invite you to help out with a Book Review for Complicated Houseplants! Well, that’s it for now my loves, as always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have a wonderful adventure!

Bye Bye Butterfly

Bailey Stills-Parker’s House

There are so many settings that help shape The Bluebird Chronicles stories. One of the major ones is Bailey’s house. It’s the center of Penelope’s life in Illinois. She has her own room there, sort of like an in-law sweet. Complete with her own entrance and exit to the house. It’s Bailey’s oasis, the one place she loves, and Penelope loves coming home to it.

Bailey’s House in Southern Illinois.

When the Sawyer family moved to Michigan, they kept Penelope’s Grandmother’s house. She had no need of it after moving back to England and while they used it until Penelope and Cohen left for school. Cohen had initially wanted it, but after his death, they planned to sell it. Bailey was looking to move out of her parents house, and was interested in the property. The Sawyer’s cut her a deal, way below market value, since they really didn’t need to make a profit on it, they owned it outright. With help from her parents, she was able to purchase the house and still have enough left over to renovate the entire inside. She made the floor plan a little more open, took out one of the upstairs bedrooms and added in a small living room feature just outside the master bedroom. It was then that the basement was finished and Penelope’s suite was included as well. She’s still paying on the house, but her payments aren’t that much, which allows her a little bit of freedom when it comes to her life.

Kitchen (L), Living Room (C), and back deck (R).

Her first act of business was to renovate the first floor, allowing the kitchen and living room to feel a little more open. It created a bigger feel to the room and after finishing the space with the deck outside, she loved the way it looks. The laundry room is also on the same floor, along with a nice pantry. The stairs upstairs and the stairs to the basement are near the kitchen and they’re wide enough that moving furniture up and down are not a problem.

Bailey’s closet, bedroom, and master bathroom.

The next thing she worked on was the upstairs. First she started with her own bedroom. She made it spacious, and added a walk-closet, making the bathroom a little smaller than it could have been and taking out one of the guest rooms to make room for the closet and the small living room that sits outside her door at the top of the stairs. Bailey decorated with burnt oranges and colors that felt homey and warm. She wanted to make it lively, and feel happy, even if she’d had a rough day.

Guest Room One (L), Guest Room Two (C), Sitting Room (R)

Once she’d finished her room, she moved on to the guest rooms upstairs. Though basic in theme, she wanted any potential guests to feel comfortable. The decor matches that ideal and looks well. The small sitting room outside her bedroom is decorated in the same theme as her room, or close to it. Moving the colors out and blending them so that the guest rooms, the bathroom, and the hall all came together beautifully.

Bailey spends a lot of time in the sitting room. She has a desk in the corner where she does her school work or looks over cases she brought home from work. She’s amassing a small law library on the shelf next to her desk in the corner, but she’s happy with it. In the evenings when she doesn’t have class, she’s apt to sit at her desk while Asher sits on the couch playing video games until they’re both ready for bed. She finds the entire thing domestic and wonderful.

Penelope’s bedroom (L), Living Room (C), and Bathroom (R).

The last thing she worked on was Penelope’s basement suite. Once everything else was done, Bailey was able to move into the house and they worked on Penelope’s space downstairs with a lot of input from Penelope. The room is smaller, barely bigger than the queen sized bed and night stands that Penelope chose for the room. There is a small reach in closet on the same wall as the door and other than that, it isn’t large. The living room is full of soft and comfortable furniture. Penelope enjoys her space as much as she can. She has a desk off to the left of the living room, a small office, not much more than the desk and book case next to it. It’s sufficient if she has to work from there, but not as nice as her office at home. The bathroom is comfortable, but like everything, it’s smaller than what she has at home. It was never designed to be permanent, just comfortable for her when she’s on vacation. She loves that she has a door that leads directly outside so she can come and go as she pleases, which is helpful if she arrives late at night.

Laundry Room (L), Stairs to the upstairs and the door to Penelope’s suite (C), Penelope’s outside entrance (R).

Bailey’s house is comfortable and is one of the major settings throughout the series. I’m hoping that you enjoyed this look into her sanctuary. It’s a beautiful thing that Bailey has created and it’s good that everyone feels comfortable hanging out there.

Well, until next time my friends, you know the drill. Be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an adventure.

Bye Bye Butterfly ❤

Friends Forever?

Face claims for Bailey (L), Penelope (C), and Callie (R)

One of the primary things that holds The Bluebird Chronicles characters together is the friendships that have before the story starts, and the ones they make along the way as well. While I like writing romantic stories, my favorite ones are always those that have something more going on than just a romance. I hope that I can do that as well. As most of us know, there isn’t always just one thing going on in our lives, when romance hits. It’s never just that. There’s always something else as well.

I hope that by sharing some of these friendships, everyone can get a deeper understanding of these characters before you get to meet them on the page. I’m so excited for it. So, this first one is probably the most important. Penelope being the main character and all, it’s important to know where she comes from. Who her people are. Perhaps the most important people that she has, are her best friends.

Katie McGrath: Penelope’s Face claim

Penelope Sawyer was four years old when she met Bailey Stills-Parker. They were kind of thrown together while their family’s spent time together. Penelope, for her part was overjoyed to finally have a new friend to hang out with instead of just her brother Cohen, and his friend Micah. Micah, was finally happy to have a baby sister of his own, just like Cohen. It didn’t take long for Bailey and Penelope to form a fast friendship that couldn’t be severed, no matter what.

Melissa Benoit: Bailey’s Face Claim

By the time they were in high school, they were more like sisters, along with their brother’s, the four of them spent most of their time together. By the time that Cohen and Penelope left Illinois to move to Michigan, even the distance couldn’t dampen the friendships they shared and they continued on into adulthood unfettered.

Chyler Leigh: Callie’s Face claim

When Penelope joined the military after high school, she met Callie Gracen. They’ve became fast friends and that hasn’t changed. Through Penelope, Callie met Cohen and after a few meetings, the two began dating. They were about to get engaged when the unthinkable happened. Penelope and Callie were both due to get out of the military and while Penelope did, Callie didn’t. That change did nothing to dampen their friendship.

Photo by APG Graphics on Pexels.com

Penelope introduced Bailey and Callie and the rest is history. The three get on like a house on fire. Though the distance between them is vast, the advent of technology and group chats has made everything easier. The girls regularly talk in the group chat they’ve created. Though they don’t get together often, when they do it’s always chaos. There is drinking and adventure and they renew their bonds of friendship in the oldest ways.

Emilia Clarke: Nora’s Face Claim

Though not as close Bailey or Callie as Penelope is, Nora Whitley is the fourth member of their little group. She is dating Penelope’s cousin Rich, and has been for a number of years. She’s met Bailey, and Callie at different points, and though they don’t get a chance to hang out as often as they’d like, with Nora living in London, when they do it’s always special. She rounds out the group. Bailey and Penelope are ride or die for one another. Callie and Nora are the same. For some reason the two developed an immediate bond and that doesn’t ever diminish. The four remain fast friends.

Photo by vjapratama on Pexels.com

As a writer, I had a lot of fun creating these characters. Though they might have been defined by events out of their own control, they have a lot of fun together and show that it really doesn’t matter what life throws their way, the four of them will face it together. In spirit if not standing back to back. Everyone deserves a friend like that. A friend that is ride or die, and always has your back. I hope that everyone who reads The Bluebird Chronicles thinks of their best friend when they see how the four of them interact. I hope that everyone has at least one friend as good as these four are to one another.

I’ll see you guys next time. As always, be safe, drink your water, and don’t eat yellow snow.

Setting Preview – Penelope’s Apartment

Hello all! How’s your Friday? So far so good over here. Today’s setting is Penelope Sawyer’s apartment. Since she is the main character in the Ashes & Stars series, I thought it important over the next couple of weeks to show you exactly where my characters live and what their spaces look like. Maybe tell you why certain things are there. You can tell quite a bit about someone by the things they surround themselves with. So, without further ado, let’s explore Penelope’s apartment.

Penelope lives in a two bedroom apartment that she used to share with her brother. Cohen wasn’t there often, but it was his home of residence when he came home on leave. He got the bigger room because Penelope liked the access to the outdoor patio from the smaller room. After her brother died, it took months before she was able to convert his room into a guest room, a feat that was only accomplished with the help of both her Mom and her best friend Bailey. Now the room lacks a lot of personality, which is the way Penelope likes it. It was easier. After which it has unofficially become Bailey’s room at her house, since they live in different states, it’s important to both of them to have a room that feels like their own.

While she isn’t very fond of living in an apartment, she’s made a home for herself there and doesn’t see herself moving. Though she’s thought about it, she hasn’t seriously made plans to do so. She is comfortable with her small kitchen, since it’s always just her.

All of the rooms in her house, besides the guest room, have a common theme that connects them. Specifically the use of the colors of gray and dusty rose. It’s comforting to her as the dusty rose is her favorite color. She loves it and it shows. (I certainly can’t blame her, I use that color with Navy blue in my office and absolutely love it!) While her apartment does appear feminine, and why shouldn’t it, it’s not overly so.

Penelope tends to spend a lot of time in the warmer months out on the patio or on the balcony. She likes to curl up with a good book, or bring her tablet out to relax in the sun with a movie. Some of the important conversations she ends up having take place in these two spots. Despite it’s smaller size, she enjoys that she can turn music on in the living room and anywhere on the first floor she is, she can hear it without the volume being so loud that it disturbs her neighbors.

Since she lives by herself, the separate dining room didn’t make sense to her, so she added bookshelves and a smaller table to the room to make it into a library/game room. When she has company they can sit in there and play cards or board games and have a good time. She eats either on her couch or at the island so there isn’t really a good place to play cards in the living room. Unless there are a bunch of people, like when her and her friends play poker at the coffee table for her birthday. There isn’t room at the table for that so they congregate elsewhere.

Normally, however, there aren’t that many people in her apartment at any given time. Since it’s been just her, she doesn’t have company too often and often ends up feeling isolated. Her parents live a couple of hours north of her and her best friends both live in different states. It’s one of the reasons she keeps coming back to the decision to move elsewhere, though she can’t seem to commit. It would mean leaving behind the last piece of her brother that she has.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look into Penelope’s apartment. A lot of the plot happens here, so I hope you got to look around and get familiar with it. Stay tuned next Friday for the next setting. What do you guys want to see? Do you have a preference? Reid’s house? The cabin? Bailey’s house? These are other important settings. Quite a bit of the series actually takes place in and around Vampire House (Reid and Asher’s house). Let me know what you think.

Character Profile – Kestral Sherwood

Today’s Character profile is about a character that first shows up in this upcoming weekend’s Short Story Saturday. He’s going to be the counterpart to the main character of Ailee Creed. The two of them will go on an epic journey that you’ll get to read about but only here on the blog. So, without further ado, let’s meet Kestral Sherwood.

Kestral is a Gorlass, a descendant of long ago Dragon shifters. They can no longer shift but retain several characteristics of their previous Dragon ancestors. Kestral himself is the only son out of five children. He’s the youngest and his sisters live to make his life complicated. While his sisters all have jewel colored eyes, his are the same gold as his fathers. When threatened, his skin takes on a golden sheen that is strangely reminiscent of scales, and though his skin is impervious to fire, it is not impenetrable. 

Kestral works with Wilder as a Diffuser. Since he is fireproof, it made sense to him that he could use his gifts to help people. He moved to Port Shadeau two years prior and despite his willingness to settle down, no one had yet caught his eye. 

When he isn’t working, he loves to read books and drink coffee. His favorites are mystery and detective stories and he can spend hours on his days off doing nothing but sitting in his favorite chair and devouring books. When he has enough time to leave the city, he prefers to spend time in wide open spaces. He loves stargazing and watching the night sky while he sleeps next to a campfire.

Ten get to know you questions with Kestral Sherwood:

What makes you happy? A good cup of coffee and a good book on a rainy day.

What is your favorite flower? Sunflowers

Who was your childhood hero? My father. He was honest and unfailingly kind.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Buy a house out in the country and some land. Then build a room that was all windows and fill it with books and comfortable chairs to relax in when the rains come.

Are you a dog person or a cat person? Dog person more often than not. But I don’t mind cats. 

What would you name your future child? Lawson Sherwood, after my father, if it was a boy. And Caroline Sherwood if it’s a girl. I’d be willing to compromise on the middle names, but the last names are fixed in my mind. 

Something you hate that you used to love? Spinach. When I was a kid I’d eat it all the time, but now I can’t stand it. 

What did you want to be as a kid? I’ve always wanted to be a Diffuser, so I guess I did that right. 

What is the last thing you bought? [laughs] Groceries. I bought groceries, though they were minimal. 

That’s the brief introduction to Kestral Sherwood. At least as much as you’ll get for now. Tune in this Saturday to actually meet him in the story. Let me know what you think so far. For now, I’m off to get some work done around the house. Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday friends!

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!