There is always some sort of inspiration behind every character a writer creates. Sometimes it’s pictures we see, sometimes it’s someone we’ve met, someone we’ve seen, or someone we know well. Oftentimes, a writer ends up with little pieces of themselves in every character they create. It’s happened to me quite a few times, almost every single one of my main characters has a little bit of me. Some more than others, but they all have a piece. So today we’re going to talk about a few of my favorite characters and who they were based on.
Let’s start with Penelope Sawyer, the main character in the Bluebird Chronicles. She’s got a lot of me in her. In fact, the small island in Italy where she was stationed at the beginning of her time in the Navy, I was stationed there. They say to write what you know, so I do that. A lot. Penelope goes through losses similar to some that I have faced in the previous few years, though that particular plot point has been there since 2009, I never imagined that it would follow my life as closely as it did, and I don’t know how to feel about that. Penelope’s job, the business she’s trying so hard to create, that has nothing to do with me. That was inspired by my very first editor on Blood Song, Erika. I needed to do something different with what Penelope did for a living during one of the rewrites and I just kind of decided to honor Erika that way. She has no idea so I can’t wait for her to find out.
Then there’s Penelope’s best friend Bailey Stills-Parker. Bailey has parts of a lot of different people. Some of which I no longer have contact with. Bailey, however, remains an amalgamation of the best friends that I’ve had since I started this book. Her most recent incarnation has mostly parts of my best bish/cousin Steph. Callie and Nora are also the same kind of amalgamations of other friends as well. I love that I can look at them and know that I have immortalized them in some way, even if I’m the only one who ever knows exactly which parts belong to who.
Then there’s Micah Parker. Mike is the big brother I never had, but based on my little brother Damien. Mike’s boyfriend, based exclusively on my brother-in-law Jason, who passed a few years ago. I promised him I’d put him in my books somewhere, so Trey was my promise kept. The biggest difference between them, Trey is gay and my brother wasn’t.
There’s other things too. The house that Penelope’s parent’s live in? It’s based on the house I grew up in. Certain birthdays belong to people I know. My children, my nieces and nephews, my grandson, all of them have some piece of a character somewhere. Whether it’s a shared birthday, a shared middle name, or a similar look. I love my family, and I want them to know that when they read my books (when they’re old enough). I only have two adult children (one turned 18 this week!) the rest are between 13-17, with the next round of birthdays happening in February. It’s the little things that make creating as many characters as I have to, seem more real. I give them a detail from someone I know.
Reid isn’t actually based on anyone I know. Originally, in the VERY first version of Blood Song, he wasn’t even my character, and his name was Christian King. I was writing with a friend and our stories happened to cross over here and there. Her’s was focused on my main characters best friend. Or maybe it should be the other way around since she started writing first and it’s what inspired me to get my pen back to paper. Either way, there was crossover with the main characters. Well, eventually we realized the stories were going in two very different directions that weren’t going to mesh well for what we were doing so we split the stories and created new characters. I took mine back, she did the same. Only, Christian wouldn’t do anything for her. Nothing. Wouldn’t speak to her, she had so much trouble writing for him after months of me writing for him. So, when I moved to California, she gifted Christian to me to do with as I pleased and she replaced him with another character (who I actually love just as much). When I started changing names of characters for the original draft of THIS version, I wanted to honor his roots, so Christian King became Christian Reid Walker, Prince of Paris. Though, so not to confuse myself with who I was writing, I called him Reid. It worked and she absolutely loves everything he’s become.
There is a little of almost everyone I know in a character somewhere. Sometimes it’s just easier with the tertiary and smaller secondary characters to do that. Saves me time and energy trying to flush out a character. Or at least that’s what I tell myself, though I always seem to end up tweaking them just a little bit. My inspiration comes from everywhere. I have based characters on other fictional characters, like Tucker Clark in It Could Be Monsters is based on Dean Winchester, probably because that story started as a Supernatural Fanfic. I’ve done that before too, with several stories and I have since all the way back in my sophomore year when I started writing “the secret” that you guys will probably never read.
Well, that’s it for me today. See you all tomorrow for a book review! I know how much you like those. Hahaha. As always, drink your water, be safe, make good choices, and don’t eat yellow snow. Love ya!
[Amber Side note: during this takeover, there are times when more than one person is talking. This is your handy guide to figure out who. Reid Asher[Amber] It won’t really let me change the font at all, so this is how we decided it looked. Anything that’s just bold, is probably questions, which are also technically from me. Also, this version of Reid is from the end of Blood Song, Book 1 of The Bluebird Chronicles due out July 20, 2023. Thanks!]
Hello. My name is Reid and I guess I’m taking over today. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but Amber let me have full reign, with some guidelines. First, I have some questions I have to answer, then I had to provide her with some pictures, and apparently there’s a brief one-shot at the bottom of all of this about me and the first time I met the Territory Four Crone, Freesia Wolfendale. First, let’s get some basics out of the way shall we?
Full Name: Christian Reid Walker
Nickname(s)/Alias: Reid, I guess. Prince of Paris, Papa, and, my favorite, Crow.
DOB: October 28th. [What year Reid?] Depends, when I was born as a human? Or when I was turned into a vampire? [Both I guess] Fine. October 28, 1876 was the day I was born to my Ma and Da in Galway. I was turned into a vampire on July 22, 1896 in Paris. My maker is Akina Rue, the sage in Territory Two of the European Arkane Alliance. I hate her. There, happy? [Yes. Thank you.] *rolls eyes and mumbles under breath* …creators…
Sexuality: Mostly straight. I’m old. I’ve experimented. Didn’t hate it. Deal.
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
Eye Color: Blue
Hair color: Like a dark auburn? It looks brown most of the time unless I’m in the sun. And yes. I have a few freckles. On my face. On my arms. They’re there. Do not attempt to play connect the dots or I’ll introduce you to the lovely daggers I got as a birthday gift.
Location: Territory Three of the North American Arkane Alliance. [Specifically Reid…] Southern Illinois. Are you happy? I thought I was taking over, go away.
Profession (if any): Executioner for Territory Three; Working for Sage Rivers
Family: Daughter, Emma Walker (20); Sister (through my maker), Echo Kingston (339); Niece, Aria Kingston (21); Grand-mère (don’t ask); and I guess Akina qualifies as she is my maker but I’d rather not count her.
I guess I should explain these pictures right? [Yes.] Fine. #1 – My favorite picture is of Penelope laughing. Do I really need to explain why? #10 – My dream vacation – the beach again with Penelope. I’d like to do it right this time though. #11 – Coolest thing I own is a vintage Indian Motorcycle. I restored it myself and am quite proud of it. I don’t ride it much though, the parts are hard to come by. #16 – My next adventure would be children. I want more of them. I don’t have plans for that currently, but that’s the next adventure I’d like to be on. Fatherhood where I’m not running and hiding is probably different. I want to experience that. #17 – My best friend is Asher Jameson. Of course it is. There are others as well, like Annistyn, Shiloh, Becks, but Asher is the one I’m closest to. Despite his annoying personality. 🙂 #27 – My Grandmother is the person I miss. She died before I went to Paris. I was her favorite. #29 – The person I’d like to see everyday is Penelope. I thought maybe Emma too, but my daughter wants her space and that’s fine. I think. I don’t like it but I can’t do much about it either.
Answer these questions:
What is one thing you regret doing?
Not checking on my family sooner.
What celebrity do you want to be best friends with?
I’m not sure, but it isn’t Pretty Boy Noah Meade. Hate him almost as much as Akina.
What strange habit do you have?
I don’t know, ask Asher. He pretends he doesn’t give a fuck, but we all know he does. He also likes to play the martyr. Fuck off Ash. Love you too Reid.
When did you and Asher become friends?
Too long ago. I need new friends now. Fine. The 1950’s. I killed his maker as they were passing through the EUAA. Ash hadn’t done anything wrong, so I took him back to Paris with me. He was a fairly new vampire and he needed a mentor. I introduced him to Shiloh when Akina sent him away six months later. Yeah, when she figured out she couldn’t manipulate me like she could you. Yeah, yeah. Shut up.
What makes you feel better?
A good bottle of bourbon. He takes baths. Go the fuck away Asher or I will put Nair in your shampoo again.
Did you have a mentor?
Sort of. I was trained by my maker, but Shiloh would qualify as my mentor if pressed.
What’s your relationship status?
It’s fucking complicated is what it is.
Thoughts on love at first sight?
A year ago, it didn’t exist and was made up nonsense from fairy tales. Despite knowing multiple people with Twin Flames….. I swear to the gods Asher, if you do not get the fuck out of here…. Going [and now?] Now I believe in instant connections. Love comes later.
Do you have a Twin Flame?
I do. [you wanna elaborate on that?] No.
Do you consider yourself to be a good person?
Yes I do. Most of the time. More Chaotic Good if I’m being completely honest.
What’s the coolest moment in history that you’ve been alive for?
The big Vampire Reveal back in 1903. I’d apologize again but it seems to have worked out in our favor if I’m being completely honest. [How did that happen anyway?] That is a story for another day.
Have you ever gotten high?
There are ways for vampires to get high. Arkane drugs are potent sometimes. So yes, I have been. But not since I left Paris.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
One summer day, my ma took me, Cian, Muirne, and Meealla all down to the creek to play. She was supposed to be doing the wash, but she ended up splashing in the water with us and helping us find different creepy crawlies. Cian and I were 8 I think. It was a good day.
Are you scared of heights?
I am not afraid of anything. Liar If you don’t go away I will tell Bailey about that one time in Germany…. Actually leaving now…bye
What Vampire Rank are you?
Everyone assumes I’m an Astrum who’s never applied to be a Dominum, but I’ve been a Dominum level for longer than I should have been.
Why do they call you the Prince of Paris?
It just kind of stuck. I’m the last of the Princes in the Arkane Royal Family, and for just over a century I was based in Paris. No matter where I go in life, Paris will always be my city.
Do you remember your dreams?
No. I’m not even really sure that I do dream.
What is your most used swear word?
Some version of Damn or Fuck. Especially in reference to Asher.
What’s the first app you check when you wake up?
Weather. I don’t always feel the temperature like a human would, so I need to know how to dress to blend in.
What is the coolest piece of technology you’ve come across?
A tablet or smartphone. It amazes me the things you can carry in your pocket these days.
What’s the strangest thing you believed as a child?
Cian once convinced me that I was a changeling child that my parents kept. Believed it for almost two years. Was too afraid to ask my ma. I got in trouble at church one sunday and was convinced they were going to send me away. Da was not happy with Cian, I’m not sure what happened in the shed that afternoon, but Cian wouldn’t look me in the eye for hours.
Describe yourself in one sentence.
Prince of Paris. [Reid…] No. that’s my answer. No more questions. [Fine. Say goodbye to the nice people and I’ll share the story of you and Flower.] Deal.
Well, it’s been fun, but I have to leave now. I’ll be back to annoy Asher when it’s his turn because turnabout is fair play. Enjoy the story of how I met Flower back in the 80’s when she first became the Territory Four Crone. I was in New York City at the time, because I had done something to irritate Akina. It was a turning point for me. She helped me see that maybe there was another way, that I didn’t have to be exactly what Akina wanted me to be, that I could be more. When I fled with Emma, she was the first person I went to. I can never repay her. So now, thirty-four years later, when she asks me for things, I always do everything I can to help her.
Enjoy the story. I’d say it’s been a pleasure, but at best it wasn’t horrible. Sorry, I’m kind of a solitary vampire and I prefer to be in my garage or reading in my room. Good day.
An Excerpt from the (so far unpublished) Flower Novella
Prince Reid Walker drained the last of the blood from the bottle he was currently drinking, and tossed it into the backseat of the Jeep. His supply was getting low and he’d have to remember to pick up more if he could find some in Coldwynne. If he couldn’t, well he’d just have to Drift home while Freesia was in meetings. He glanced next to him to find the woman in question sleeping peacefully as he drove through the night. He still didn’t understand why she insisted that they drive between the smaller Arkane cities instead of drifting, but he wasn’t one to question the assignment he’d been given.
Freesia Wolfendale was the youngest crone in Territory Four history, having been awarded the title at just thirty-one. She still had small children at home, but here she was gladly accepting one of the most notable titles in the Arkane world. Reid was no idiot, he’d done some research when he’d been assigned the job by Damon Dethantos, one of the territory sage’s. The one he’d been assigned to after his latest exploit in France had angered his maker. He couldn’t wait to be done with this and hopefully beg Akina’s forgiveness and get to go home. He missed Paris and his privileged existence.
It wasn’t that Freesia hadn’t become delightful company, it was just that she was starting to poke holes in the role he played and he wasn’t sure he liked the churning feeling in his stomach that it often caused. He shook his head and concentrated on the road. Driving through the backcountry in Canada wasn’t something one should lose focus on.
They arrived in Coldwynne about an hour after the sun came up and he was more than ready for a warm bed and a chance to rest. They’d left after she’d had dinner the night before with some dignitary or other, they were all starting to run together in his mind. These small minded Arkane, some of them didn’t seem to see the vision Freesia held for the future, and he was annoyed, even if he didn’t personally see it. He hoped that the two day visit with Galvan Asherock would prove more fruitful for her. It made her better company at the very least. After this it was off to Newfoundland to visit the other Territory Four Sage and the last school on the trip.
Reid woke sometime in the early afternoon, feeling groggy and a little disoriented. He got up, showered and went to find Freesia. They’d both been given rooms in Asherock’s home and Reid had wasted no time getting some rest. He wandered down the stairs, subtly listening for the sound of Freesia’s voice. He didn’t hear her at all on his way out to the Jeep for a bottle of blood, which he’d kept there. While he downed his first bottle, he looked around the area a little better. It was beautiful here, and he would have liked a couple of days to just relax and enjoy it, maybe have Annistyn up to visit, he hadn’t seen her in a few months. Tossing the empty bottle with the others, he grabbed a second and went in search of his charge.
Freesia Wolfendale had been surprised to find out that her name had been in the running for crone when the latter had decided to vacate. She’d met him a number of times and thought he was interesting enough, but stuck in the past. He’d been crone for almost forty years. So when she’d been called to appear before the council, she’d been taken aback to find she’d been his choice. She’d done as best she could with the council and then waited to hear back, thinking they would never pick her. Once they had, she’d immediately dived into a plan to get Territory Four moving into the future. The new century was on the horizon and she wanted them to be ready. The first part of this plan was to go out and meet with as many people as possible. That included the sages, of course, but also included the lords, ladies, and those running the smaller communities. Helping the Arkane keep quiet in cities full of Karhu. To visit the schools, to ensure their children were receiving the best education. She wanted to know what she could do to help achieve the smaller goals these places had.
She hadn’t been overjoyed at the appointment of a bodyguard and chaperone in the form of Reid Walker, vampire and the Prince of Paris. How was she supposed to get to know the territory she represented for what it truly was if she had a member of the Arkane Royal Family following her around? She’d been pleasantly surprised to find him not as stuffy or arrogant as she thought he’d be. Though he did have some very backward thinking about some things. She hoped she could get him to think for himself a little more, if nothing else. They’d been on this trip for two weeks and were almost done with the Canadian portion and only had a couple more stops before they toured the American side.
So far Freesia had found the leaders to be a frustrating mix of old school, and forward thinkers. She was hoping to inspire those that weren’t convinced of her vision to at least give it a try. She wasn’t sure she was successful yet. Reid seemed to think she was, then again, she wasn’t sure she could trust his opinion just yet. He still seemed very young in a lot of ways, especially for an eighty-eight year old vampire.
“Freesia, I have to tell you, that although some of your plans seem like they will indeed help send us into the next century on the right foot, I’m not sure how you’re going to garner the support to do so.” Galvan Asherock told her, leaning forward in the chair he was sitting in on the dock near the water. Freesia was near him in a similar chair, looking out over the horizon. She wished Calkin and the children were here, they’d absolutely love this.
“Lord Asherock, while I’m sure that garnering support will sometimes be difficult, make no mistake, as crone it is well within my rights to enact change without the approval of any council.” She told him, lifting her drink to her lips, grateful that her voice had remained steady.
“Now, that isn’t necessarily true. There are many things that have to be approved by the council, and I know the members on this one. Many of them are going to argue that too much change too fast isn’t good for the Arkane or the Elentori.”
“I think you’ll find more people will agree than they won’t. I would like to work together and find ways that work for everyone. Karhu technology is changing rapidly, who knows where we will be in twenty years. We need to be prepared for that before it becomes a problem.”
“Now that is something we can agree on.” He said nodding and leaning back in his chair, seemingly content to dismiss the conversation for now. Freesia took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She hoped Reid would be awake soon, she desperately needed intelligent conversation. As if summoned, she heard his voice a few moments later.
“Everything okay, flower?” He asked, making his way down onto the dock, a half empty bottle of blood in his hand. Freesia had been disgusted at first, but very quickly had gotten used to this way of feeding for him. It’s what he seemed to prefer and had made it clear he wasn’t going to change that, and she agreed it was better than the alternative.
“I’m good, Reid. Did you get enough sleep?” She asked as he nodded to their host and took the seat closest to her.
“It was adequate. I’m headed into town for a supply run,” he shook his bottle back and forth a little so she’d know exactly what he meant. “Would you like to come along?”
“That would be nice. I’d like to get to know some of the people, see their daily life.” She said standing, leaving her half empty glass of beer on the small stand between where she and Lord Asherock sat. “Would you mind dearly if I took my leave?” She asked, looking at the man in question, old fashioned or not, it was rude to be disrespectful to her host. She may need his help one day and it wouldn’t do to make enemies only a few months into her run as crone.
“Go ahead.” Galvan told her with a wide grin. “I have some paperwork I need to attend to before the dinner tonight anyway. May I recommend lunch at Backlane, and a coffee at Jackie’s. They’re the most popular places in town and you would have a chance to really get to know the people here in Coldwynne there.” He offered. Freesia smiled before she turned and took the arm Reid had offered to help her up the hill.
“I’m not sure I’m going to like that man.” She confided as they walked through the little village. So far it was quaint, but she hadn’t seen a lot of diversity here. Mostly water and wood Arkane. A few earth, but almost zero Elentori seemed to live in these parts.
Reid shook his head, but smiled. “Well, hopefully you can count on him as an ally, whether or not you like him.”
“He seems ambivalent. He wants to sound supportive but also to warn me that I will have a lot of trouble with the council.” Freesia scoffed. “As if they have to approve every decision. Major policy changes, yes, need to be run through the council, but not every decision.”
“Then don’t worry so much, flower, you’ll be fine.” She smiled up at him. He was so much taller than her. He was over six foot and Freesia was lucky if she made five five in heels. She liked that he’d started calling her flower, two days into the trip. When she’d asked about it, he’d just shrugged and smiled. She noticed he assigned nicknames to almost everyone though, especially if he seemed to like them.
“I’ll try. Now, let’s find this restaurant and see if we can find someone who can tell us where to get the supplies you need.” She smiled and took his arm again as they made their way further down the main drag.
The dinner was nice, and Reid felt himself melting into the background as much as possible so he could watch Freesia work the room. She may be young, but she had an aura that demanded the respect of not only her title, but of her other accomplishments as well. She seemed to know intrinsically when to be the devoted mother, when to be the steely crone, and when to be something in between. It was like watching his maker work, but with softer edges. His maker always seemed to have an agenda, but Freesia seemed to just genuinely be able to handle the pressures.
Everyone seemed to be waiting to see if she would rise to the challenge that being crone brought, or if she’d buckle under the pressure. Reid was starting to understand that this woman, whether they ever spoke again, was going to change the face of Territory Four, and he wouldn’t be surprised if the other territories didn’t follow suit. He’d listened to her speak, asked probing questions and really listened to the answers. If only others would do the same.
“You know flower, I thought you did a great job.” He told her later, when she’d stepped out onto the back deck for some air and a chance to clear her head.
“But do they believe I can do the things I promised?” She asked, glancing at him. He inhaled deeply off of the cigarette he was smoking and let the smoke out slowly from his lungs.
“Most of them want to believe you, all that’s left is for you to prove you mean the things you say.” He told her slowly as he did a quick scan of the minds still inside the house. She smiled up at him again.
“I honestly hope I can too. I don’t want to let them down.” She confided, leaning against the railing and looking out at the moonlight reflected on the water.
“Can I give you a piece of advice?” He asked carefully. He’d been quiet on the topic of leadership, but after their conversation earlier in the day, there was something he wanted to tell her.
“Sure.” She turned her attention to him as he joined her at the railing, his cigarette put out in the ashtray by where he’d been standing.
“You are the Crone of Territory Four. The youngest ever.” She nodded, but waited silently for him to continue. “When I want something to be done, I don’t pander and try to convince those I want to do it. I tell them it needs to be done, and then wait for my orders to be carried out. I outline the plan if need be, but I don’t let them question me. I am in charge.” He paused and looked at her. “Now obviously I listen to my maker, my sage, and my crone and of course my Grand-mère, but I don’t let others question it. You need to do that. Obviously our positions are slightly different.” Freesia chuckled and nodded her head. Reid couldn’t help the smile on his face. “But don’t let them feel like you have to convince them of anything. You’re their leader. So lead. Let them figure out how to do as you say.”
“Reid, that’s all well and good, but I need the council on my side.” She told him with a sigh.
“I know that you do. So answer their questions, but make sure you leave no doubt that these are things you will accomplish with or without them. You’re the crone. You can replace them as you see fit, remember? And that is a completely different council, is it not?”
“It is.” She said with a grin.
“Then they need to know they either get on your side, or you’ll find someone that will.”
“That is helpful. Now let me give you a piece of advice.” Reid raised an eyebrow and turned to face her, leaning his back on the rail and glancing at the party still happening inside. “You need to find someone that can question you. That can make you think about things in a slightly different way. That can do that, and hold you responsible without overstepping their place in your life.”
“Isn’t that why you’re married?” He asked with a grin.
“While Calkin is great for that in our personal life, I’m still searching for someone with a slightly different perspective that can keep me balanced for work. You need to find both I think.”
“Akina keeps me balanced.” He said confidently, though he couldn’t ignore the small kernel of doubt that was starting to bloom in his heart.
“Does she? Or does she punish you for not doing the things she wants you to do just like she tells you?” With that Freesia turned and walked back into the party.
Reid stood there thinking about what she said, and what she hadn’t. When this was all over, he thought he might go see his sister for a long weekend. See if she could shed some light on some of the feelings Freesia was bringing to light. He watched her mingle for a few more minutes before he shook his head. The woman was amazing, and every bit as commanding as he himself was, even without the crown.
[That’s all for this month’s character takeover. I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I’ll make sure Reid answers them. Have a great new year my loves. Be safe, make good choices, and don’t eat yellow snow. Happy New Year.]
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.