Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Kel's Castle (Interior)

Interiors from Schloss Neuschwanstein. Some of the castle is a little too...excessive...for my taste, but I absolutely LOVE the intricate wood carving. So expect that to feature.

Also possibly the paintings, because I see lots of possibilities to hide clues in them for the rest of the series.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kel's Castle (Exterior)

I was fooling around on Pintrest, ostensibly looking for writing inspiration and really just procrastinating, when I found it.

The castle.

This is the setting for the beginning of Princess. It's the castle where Kel and her siblings grew up, where the novel opens. And while the fictional version will have a slightly different surrounding landscape, the architecture is SPOT ON. I think I'll probably also borrow heavily from the interior, although that's still a bit up in the air.

So, without further ado, I present to you Schloss Neuschwanstein


Friday, July 26, 2013

Eclectic Reader Challenge New Adult: Dark Light of Day

I did some waffling as to whether I was going to call this my NA book or not. The majority  of NA books out there seem to be contemporary romances, but with slightly younger protagonists. However, New Adult is like Young Adult - it's an age category, not a genre. Just like a book can be YA distopian, or YA fantasy, a book can be NA paranormal romance or NA science fiction or NA post-Armageddon demon lawyers. And yes, the point of the challenge is to lead me to genres I don't normally read. But I know for a fact that I'm not interested in 90% of the contemporary books out there so I'll stick with demons, thanks!

4 stars.

Armageddon is hundreds of years in the past, and yet life goes on. The Host - the females with waxing, healing magic and the males with waning, destructive magic - control the demons; the Hyrke (humans without magic) adore them.

Noon Onyx and her brother Night are anomalies - twins whose magic seems to have been switched in the womb. Noon enrolls at St. Lucifer's to become a demon lawyer, although secretly she wants nothing more than to reverse her magic. Noon's struggles to accept who she is and learn to control her magic are interwoven with a mystery surrounding disappearing healers and her best friend's quest to find a magic-reversal spell.

I thought the concept was extraordinarily unique, and despite there being an overwhelming amount of information in the first few chapters I followed along okay and the book quickly hits its stride. I reached a certain point perhaps 2/3 of the way through where I was no longer able to put the book down. In fact, I stayed up far too late to finish it!

I also enjoyed the romance subplot. While there were two potential love interests in the book there wasn't really a love triangle. I loved reading about the progression of a single relationship rather than a which-boy-should-I-choose situation. (And I knew Peter was a jerk from the beginning. Actually, I didn't quite understand why Noon ever liked him. I mean, I can hypothesize all sorts of reasons but the way he came across in the text was inherently unlikeable.)

The major theme of the book -accepting yourself for who you are rather than trying to change- was  skillfully woven through the whole novel without ever being too blunt or too trite.

Though the conclusions is satisfying, enough loose threads are left to leave me wanting more. I'm eager to read more of Noon's and Ari's adventures.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

From the Archives: The Eighth and Last Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor, part 2

Continued from Part One

The next day I thought up a plan, and set to work. 

First, I took a sharp stone and cut down a tree. Then I split it into quarters, and bound the split logs together with some vine, leaving a hole in the middle. In this I put the mast, securing it with some tree sap. Hiding this in the cave, I set out to see if I could find something to use as a sail. While walking down to the beach I cut some palm fronds and other leaves to weave together as a sail. On the beach, I procured a great heap of seashells and pearls, and in a cave I found some precious stones. Walking back to the cavern I gathered some other precious items, so that I had a great store of valuable things.

Loading my new possessions on to my raft, I heard a terrible rumbling sound coming from near the river. Hurriedly I hauled the raft to the beach but on the way I lost my turban. When I ran back to get it, the spider grabbed me! Not having enough time to think I wrapped my turban around its head and pulled! In fact I pulled so hard that the spider suffocated. 

Unwrapping my turban, I unfurled the sail with great haste for I was sure that there were more of these evil creatures. The wind carried me to the same location that I was rescued from the valley of the snakes, and luckily there were some merchants enjoying a repast they had brought with them. 

They brought me back to Bagdad with them were I returned to my house and having given generously to the poor, I vowed not to travel again, for I was too old.

So saying Sindbad gave one hundred sequins to Hindbad, and invited the entire company to come again, though the stories of his adventures were finished. 


The ending has a couple references to previous voyages (the valley of the snakes, the frame tale with Hindbad) so they're not just random things I threw in there.

Going back for the turban makes me think of Indiana Jones and his hat, which is probably where I got the idea.

I really wish that more of these old stories survived; I know I wrote my own "Just So" story about how the dolphin got its blowhole but I think that one was lost to the ravages of time/the great hard drive crash. Hard copies of all these stories existed at one point but who knows where they are now...

Monday, July 22, 2013

From the Archives: The Eighth and Last Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor, part 1

 Written in 4th grade as a school assignment while we were reading One Thousand and One Nights (also called the Arabian Nights).

Now my friends, as you can imagine, I once again grew restless and wished to traverse the sea. 

Wishing to see other lands, I traveled to a distant port in Persia, joined a merchant trading vessel, and set out for the West Indies. Three days after we set out, a strong wind blew us to a distant part of the sea. I advised the sailors to rejoice while they could, for I knew that we were probably going to meet with trouble. How right I was! Our captain soon came out from his cabin looking very sad indeed, and upon asking what it was that troubled him, he revealed that we were in the exact spot where the horrifying sea monster Eelailesny dwelled. 

When the crew heard this, they all began bemoaning the terrible fate that had befallen them. Only the captain and I did not lament, for he was brave and I, though I had heard tales of this horrible creature, had never actually learned the story. From what I picked up, Eelailesny appeared to be a giant serpent, but with two heads. 

At that exact moment, a great tremor shook the boat as the first head of the sea monster appeared. At once, all my comrades (including the captain) stared moaning and sobbing like newborns. I alone kept my head. I tied myself to the mast with my turban, and luckily the mast snapped off just at the moment the sea serpent swallowed the boat whole. 

I don’t know how long I drifted, but it must have been at least 10 days because when I came to, I felt weak and giddy from lack of food. Suddenly I began to spin. Spinning and spinning, I slowly started to sink. Looking about me, I saw that I was headed towards a gigantic whirlpool! Struggling got me nowhere, so weak and exhausted, I let myself sink. 

After waiting for some time while I recovered my strength, I looked around and saw that I was in an underground cavern. I examined it and found that it was as desolate as an abandoned island, and that the only way out was the whirlpool.

Looking around, something on the back wall caught my eye. At first I thought it was a jewel, but upon looking closer I saw that it was a small bird, about as big as half my fist, on the wall. It had appeared to be a jewel because of its amazingly colorful feathers that seemed to change color every minute! 

Suddenly the bird disappeared and looking around saw it halfway down a stone passage concealed by two rocks. Moving the rocks aside, I followed the bird down the passage and emerged out in the sunlight. The air around me was filled with a very curious sound, and looking up I saw that the air was filled with tiny birds, that looked just like the one I saw in the cavern, but all different colors. 

Feeling very tired, I lay down to rest, unknowingly falling asleep. When I awoke, only three or four birds were left. Realizing that they might be of great value, I procured some of them to sell and left to explore the island. After walking for some time, I found a river that was ten feet deep and as many wide. Looking across, I saw that the river was there to deter any passers by from going in there because, in a cave on the other side, was a giant sleeping spider who had come there obviously because of the birds, though I was puzzled as to how it managed to catch enough of those tiny things to feed it. 

Going back to the cavern to spend the night, I tried to devise a plan to escape this new peril. At first I thought that if I tempted it with some of the little birds, it would leave me alone, but it would probably want me more, because I was bigger. Thinking about this, I fell asleep. 

Continued in Part Two


Repeated use of participial phrases to start sentences: "Feeling very tired,..." "Thinking about this..." - This construction tends to cause lots of problems.
The original document had no paragraph breaks.
On the other hand, I obviously had a wild imagination.

Friday, July 19, 2013

When your bookshelf is just a little too full

I have far too many books, and for the most part I love them all dearly and couldn't imagine being parted.

But there are a few I am willing to pass on to others - because I didn't like them, or because I have two copies, or because I've outgrown them and they're not something I love enough to save for my far-in-the-future children.

What to do with these books? Throwing them out seems wasteful. I could donate them, to Project Cicero or something similar, and often do.

But there's something else to consider, and that is that I am constantly searching for new reading material.

If I bought all the books I wanted at full price, I would be bankrupt already. I do well enough buying $2 paperbacks from the vendor on Broadway, but that still leaves me with more books than I have room for.

Is there some solution that would elegantly solve both these problems together? Perhaps some way to trade in books that I don't want for books that I do?

There is, and it's called BookMooch.

BookMooch is one of several book trading sites out there, but it's a good one. It operates on a point system. You gain points for listing books you are willing to trade (.1 points), sending books within your country (1 point), and sending books internationally (3 points). Receiving books costs 1 point if the book is mailed in country and 3 points if mailed internationally. Registration is free!

You can search BookMooch for available books to request, or search amazon for books to add to your BookMooch wishlist. If someone lists that book - or a similar edition - you will get an email notification allowing you to request the book.

So far I've listed 3 books on BookMooch; I may add more but I have to go home and look at what I have available.

Does anyone else use book trading websites? If so, which? If not, would you consider it?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When I Grow Up

So lately I've been thinking a lot about the fact that I'm twenty and not really a child anymore and maybe I should learn how to do some Grown Up Things.

I mean, I'm going to be in school for a billion more years. But after college, I might be in school somewhere other than New York, and my mother won't be there to fix everything. So, you know, time to suck it up and act my age. At least sometimes.

Some of the things which fall under the category of Grown Up Things:

-Doing my own laundry
-Going to the bank; maintaining my own checking account
- Keeping my room clean and organized-ish
-Procrastinating less (this is going to be the hardest one)
-Taking more care with my appearance (including good posture)
-Maintain a schedule/planner/to do list so I don't  forget about things
-Feeding myself

I already do a few of those - like go to the bank and use a planner - and I'm working on others - like procrastinating and keeping my room clean and being more thoughtful with my clothing choices.

Next up on the list? Laundry, which I have a great fear of.

Also? Food. I want to learn to cook. (And also to expand my food horizons and be less picky.)

Honestly I like to bake a lot better but I can't survive entirely off cupcakes and brownies and cookies. Well, I could, but it wouldn't be pretty. So I'm working on finding some good recipes, and practicing cooking, and stuff like that. I'll share if I have any particularly tasty successes or  particularly spectacular failures. In baking or cooking.

I probably won't share anything about laundry. Too boring.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Flashfic: Yuki-onna

The snows come howling down from the mountains like ravenous wolves. They prowl the streets of the town and rattle the shutters and push against the doors.

The cold creeps in through the cracks and reaches out its fingers, stroking our skin and chilling us to the very bone.

On this, the longest night of the year, we lock our doors and stuff the keyholes with dried rosemary. We wear jewelry made from horseshoe nails and fill our pockets with salt.

But still, the snow ghosts come.

They come out of the whirling snows; they shriek like the souls of the damned. Their wails wake us up in the night and though they strike fear into my heart Riku goes to the window to listen.

He tells me that he dreams about them, women with skin pale as the snows and just as cold. Their blue lips brush against his skin like icy butterflies, and in their wails he hears singing.

I fear that one morning I will awaken and his bed will be empty. That iron and salt and rosemary will not be enough. That we will find his body, blue and stiff and empty, lying in the snows. Like we found my father's. Like we found my mother's.

But more than that, I fear that once they have taken him they will come for me.

Riku is not the only one whose dreams are full of ghosts.

Friday, July 12, 2013

From the Archives: Of Magic, part 1

Written during nerd camp- so summer of 2006. Despite being unfinished, this piece received a fair bit of critique from the instructor and several rewrites.

"We're not going to make it."

She could hear the soldiers' whispers as they marched down the road. Lyssa scowled. It could hardly even be called a road - really more of a dirt track - but it was the most direct route across the Basin, so they had turned away from the Great Road North to march through this Gods-forsaken country.

The whispers continued. "The northern pass is still hundreds of miles away! By the time we get there, Ravenna will have fallen!"

Lyssa glanced back to see if Raoul had heard the whispers - and from the grim set of his mouth it was clear he had. Lyssa surveyed the troops surreptitiously, trying to locate the source of the whispers.

Movement in the ranks of the Third Company caught her eye. "The King's Mastiffs" had absorbed the soldiers sent by the king of Brantau, a sworn ally to Oloris but known to be fickle in his loyalty. Their leader, a loathsome man Lyssa preferred to avoid, turned to his companions and sneered. "Ah, no! Under our most illustrious general, how could we possibly lose?" The men guffawed, clearly enjoying this joke at her expense.

Lyssa looked down at her saddle, cheeks burning, as these men made a mockery of her command and her own soldiers refused to speak in her defense.

Scowling, she kicked her horse into a gallop, distancing herself from the soldiers and all their mutterings.

  •   I really like this. It could totally be a story about a young girl thrust into command and learning how to earn respect instead of act like a surly teenager.
  •  On the other hand, I could very easily adapt this for the middle of Princess.
  • In other news, a protag whose name doesn't start with A or K!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Accents and other Pretty, Shiny Things

I love listening to people with accents.

I don't know what it is, but I find them absolutely mesmerizing. It's even better if they speak a romance language, because that gives their voice this gorgeous musical cadence.

(As an aside: If I ever wrote something literary, I think I'd write it in Spanish. Because of that cadence, and because you can say so much with so few words.)

My new favorite TV show is called Crossing Lines, and although it is a good show in its own right, a lot of its appeal for me is the accents.

Frankly the idea of the ICC investigating regular crimes, even cross-border ongoing whatever they say on the show, is a bit silly. But I love it because it means every actor on the show has a different accent.

There's an American, a Brit (well, there was), a German, a Frenchman and Frenchwoman, and an Italian. I like listening to the French and Italian accents the best.

This post has no point other than accents are pretty and I could listen to them all day.

Since this blog is supposed to be about writing I will also take this opportunity to tell you that I finished the major revisions on my short story for Saucy Ink!

It's beautiful. It's wonderful. I love it to death.

I am so utterly happy with it. It's the best thing I've ever written and I want to print it out and frame it.

I'm going to go admire it for a bit now. Then I'm going to go write something better!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sometimes I turn into a girl

I spent most of last week up at my grandparents' house in Connecticut. There are lots of things I could say about that, but most of them would be uninteresting to the internet-at-large so I'll refrain.

But I will share this: up there, I turn into a girl.

I have a six cousins, two of whom are girls. One of those girls is 9 or 10 now and lives in Boston. She's a total sweetheart but it's not really like hanging out with a friend, because she's half my age. The other girl cousin is three years younger and I love her to death. She's the one who turns me into a girl.

When I hang out with my school friends we mostly talk, or go see a movie, or go out to eat. If we go shopping it's usually for books. That's just the way we are.

When I hang out with my cousin we shop for clothes and makeup and take selfies (usually I hate doing that) and just generally act like a couple of teenagers.

It's a little weird. But I like it.

Friday, July 5, 2013

From the Archives: Story Description

Typed into a word document which was rescued from the Great Hard Drive Crash of  2010. Date of the original document is unknown, but most likely 6th grade (2004-5).

Arianna has always been good at finding things, especially things she’s “tagged”—marked with magic she didn’t know she had. When a stranger passing through the village discovers Arianna and her magic, he takes her back to the palace to train with the High Wizard—a powerful and ambitious man Arianna can’t bring herself to trust. When the prince himself goes missing Arianna thinks the High Wizard is to blame, so she sets off to find the prince and expose the High Wizard as the traitor he is. Thrown into a world of plots and revolutions she never knew existed, Arianna must race against time and the High Wizard to save the kingdom she loves.

  • Surprisingly well-written synopsis for a twelve year old.
  • I would probably change "High Wizard"; it's a bit...uncreative :)
  • I actually really want to write this now.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Eclectic Reader Challenge Urban Fantasy: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

3.5 stars.

Ilona Andrews absolutely has a talent for worldbuilding. It's the greatest strength of Magic Bites, the ability Andrews have to put a new spin on tired tropes.

I loved her treatment of vampires, having them be 1. Evil, nonsparkly monsters and 2. Bloodthirsty brutes controlled by necromancers. She was creative with the shapeshifters as well, having were-rats and were-bears and were-felines along with the wolves. I liked having an intermediate form as well as man and beast, which harkens back to traditional werewolf legends. And I thought the idea of both wereanimals, infected humans, and animal-weres, infected animals, to be borderline genius.

The whole magic/tech situation was really interesting, if not really explained. I'd like to see it affect the main story more, become an important plot point, something like that. The Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid was an interesting concept. All in all, the backdrop to the story is rich and fascinating.

It's in the substance of the story where Magic Bites falls a little short. For the most part the plot is fine, suspenseful and quick-moving, but nothing that struck me as exceptional. Two issues presented themselves. One, I though the fake-out big bad came out of nowhere. I don't mind the idea of having a big battle with an enemy who's not the true enemy, but I had almost no context for her and it felt sort of random.


I also hated the Crest-as-the-Upir thing. It was NOT KATE'S IDEA, and yet she gets the blame (and she blames herself) when Crest turns out to be human. Stupid. Irritating.


Obviously Kate and Curran are being set up to eventually become a couple, but I have to say there were lots of places where Curran really got on my nerves. Maybe the sequels will win me over but every time he did something to redeem himself in my eyes he followed it up with something entirely aggravating. Yes, he's an alpha, and that's going to make him behave a certain way. But sometimes I really felt like smacking him.

I'm interested enough to read the sequels, although I much prefer Ilona Andrews' web serial Clean Sweep to Magic Bites. Just as much inventive worldbuilidng, a much more engaging plot, and a slightly less irritating alpha-male.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I got a little excited that summer was here and checked out approximately 1 million books from the library. Here, in no particular order, are the books sitting on my desk waiting to be read.

PLUS Bill's novel (WHICH IS TOTALLY #1 I AM ALMOST DONE PROMISE). So I'm a busy girl.

[UPDATE: Since scheduling this post I have finished Throne of Glass and Magic Bites. I'm still working on Bill's novel because Amazon is stupid.]