Am I Lost?


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Am I lost? the young girl wondered, peering up a tree. She clutched at her teddy bear, frowning with confusion; what she knew in her mind contradicted how she felt in her heart. If she was lost, then she preferred it this way.

The forest felt like home.

She’d been wandering for hours among ancient trees, stopping occasionally to pick a flower from the ground. In her head, she knew she ought to be afraid, but her heart basked in the open space around her.

Mother always told her not to venture into the trees, lest she lose her way. That advice had been spoken ominously, as if something awful would happen in the midst of the green. Perhaps her mother had been wrong; it was lovely here, and she felt safer than she had by the hearth at home.

Perhaps the forest was home.

The breeze sounded familiar, like a voice she’d heard long ago. If she stopped, she could almost hear a song of welcome. Leaning against the tree, she closed her eyes and breathed in perfect rhythm with the wind.

If the forest was home, then she had been lost on those nights she sat by the hearth. Had the trees been calling her each time she dreamed of going to the woods? Was Mother trying to keep her lost by telling her not to return?

She did not want to leave this peace behind. The forest felt like home.

Smiling, she hugged the bear to her chest, watching a bird flit from branch to branch. She realized that she was not lost, for she felt no fear as she breathed in the fresh air. Rays of sun warmed her face, surrounding her with warmth.

No, she was not lost. It was quite the opposite: at last, she’d been found.

On Mermaid Tales & Short Stories


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I may have completed edits for Serenade (which I still expect to release sometime in October,) but that doesn’t mean I’ve stepped away from these characters and their adventures.

It has been a fun week of world-building and character profiling. My personal copy of Dissonance is currently full of sticky notes! They were placed to mark facts I would like to expand on in future books. The first book focused more on characters than setting, leaving plenty of room for creativity in future installments.

In the process of taking notes for backstory and character personalities, I accidentally worked out a rough outline for Book 3. I have always wanted to write a world involving mermaids, and can finally get to that when I work on Allie’s next adventure. With the help of some friends, I have worked out some of mermaid culture, and it’s more complex than I had anticipated.

It would seem backstory is a lot easier to work on than a blurb for Serenade. I will try to have it ready this weekend, though; in the past I have been very good at procrastinating, but want to change that. There will never be a blurb if I don’t sit to type it up.

Another habit I’ve been working on is writing a little every day; a lot of that random fiction has been shared on this blog. It’s a way to control plot bunnies and make sure my Muse doesn’t get bored. Short stories are an interesting new form of writing; I look forward to practicing and getting better. I’ve been reading collections of short stories, starting with a book of Mark Twain’s work, and for Halloween I’m going to try Lovecraft.

How have your stories been treating you? Do you have a specific method for world-building? Do you work on detailed character profiles?

I would love to hear your advice!

The Melody of Moving On


lighthouse

In the past, the ocean’s cry had never filled my heart with sorrow; everything had changed. My heart felt heavy as I approached the lighthouse one last time. Without her hand to hold, the place was bleak, haunted by years of shared laughter.

Our favorite spot at the cliff’s edge had seen good memories, all of which were spoiled the day she fell. This lighthouse was the place where I failed to save her. The blame was heavy on my shoulders; drinks didn’t help and time didn’t heal, so I’d come back for closure.

The air was chilly, fitting for a late September night. I ignored the cold biting my skin, breathing deeply. I heard the waves but didn’t see them, in the same way I sometimes heard her voice knowing she wasn’t with me.

My love no longer breathed, but she lurked in my heaviest memories.

I closed my eyes and let the phantom of her laughter fill my mind, not numbing it with vice or distraction. Her laughter, the singsong way she used to say I love you—and later, her scream as she fell.

It was time to stop running from these sounds.

The full force of her loss hit me in waves colder than the ocean. She was everywhere and nowhere. The sea echoed her poetic words, immortalizing songs she would sing and the way she whispered my name.

It hurt, but I didn’t run. I sat on the cold ground, heart aching as each memory pierced it like the thorns of a rose. Then, finally, numbness crept over me. It might not have been peace, but my agony drifted off in the breeze.

Standing, I walked away from this cursed place, turning my back on a red rose I had left on the ground. The rose was not closure, and wouldn’t change the past. Still, it was my last gift to her—a gift, an apology, and a good-bye.

The Enchantment of Spring


Inspired by this photo on Pinterest!


It was a pleasant, bright afternoon. Not a trace of frost remained from the colder months, and the world was coming back to life. In the village, children played, singing songs and shouting. Windows were flung open so that laughter could be heard, sounds of joy because beauty had returned.

In the village, no one thought of how the forest had reacted to the awakening of spring. Flowers sprouted and trees reassumed their vibrant green hues; animals came out of hiding, yawning and stretching underneath a cloudless turquoise sky.

Nor could the villagers see a young girl wandering alone through the bushes. She was alone, but did not feel lonely; she was not sullen, but full of joy. Laughing, she twirled in a graceful pirouette, feeling wind tousle her hair.

Another giggle escaped her as she let her arms dangle mid-twirl, feeling alive as the wind kissed her face. At last the winter frost had gone! Already, she could feel her magic waking from its slumber.

Around her trailed the springtime magic, winding around her with each pirouette, ribbons of purple smoke. Her magic had gone to sleep during the months in which snow dominated; oh, how she’d missed these outside games, the freedom of open fields.

The young girl stopped dancing, pleasantly dizzy, and flopped down onto the grass. All around her, purple flickered—different shades, bold to her eye—slowly vanishing into the air.

She closed her eyes, listening to the birdsong. Spring only lasted a few weeks, and seemed to be shorter each time it came around; she would make the best of it this year. She would leave magic wherever she went, until her time for slumber came around once more.

Book Review: Wendy Darling – Stars by Colleen Oakes


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I am fascinated by retellings of classic novels! Some stories are so beloved that they capture imaginations for years, never losing their magic. Often these retellings can be shallow and unoriginal, but Wendy Darling: Stars did not disappoint.

It’s the story of Peter Pan told from Wendy’s point of view, and though it’s been a few years since I read the original book, this version was lovely to read. I enjoyed the care placed in each relationship. Conflicts were added to make characters realistic and believable; even though they’ve been written before, they were pleasantly original here.

No one was perfect in this book. Wendy’s brothers all had flaws, and even her father, though overall kind, still valued the family reputation over her happiness. He won’t approve of Wendy’s relationship with a young bookseller named Booth, and that disagreement creates a chasm between them, one we could feel—because they’d gotten along well before that. There is a scene where she and Mr. Darling are looking at the sky, looking for the second star to the right, and it was so cute that I was sad when they fell apart.

Peter Pan in this novel is more human than in other retellings. His crush on Wendy makes him more than a boy who won’t grow up; here he’s a young man afraid to face reality. There were scenes where he was kind to Wendy, and others where he lost his mind. There were times when he was considerate of others, and dark moments when he thought little about killing. Like Wendy, he’s older and makes decisions that are fitting for his age.

I also liked that the book was well-written. The author put thought into plot and location, and the writing was poetic. This novel took me through the streets of London; I flew in the skies of Neverland, swam with dark mermaids, and stole from pirates.

This book is ideal for people who loved Peter Pan. It made me sad for Wendy and Booth, made me curious about Peter, and took me to a world where lost people never grow up. I can’t wait to read the next one.

On Finishing Serenade & Old Clichés


There is a curious emptiness many writers feel when a project is finally done. I’ve finished editing Serenade, and find myself searching for ways to pass the time—plotting a new novel, or working on my TBR pile.

It’s tempting to keep searching the document for things to edit, but I’ve already made all the changes suggested by my beta readers. I checked for typos and inconsistencies; I mended paragraphs and smoothed out sentences. Any changes I could make now would be for the sake of doing something to the manuscript, which wouldn’t necessarily help it. I have to sit back now and work on something else, because Serenade is as close to ready as it’ll ever be.

There is a point where you know you’ve done all you can for a book, that it can stand on its own, and it’s almost time for a book release. This is an exciting feeling, for sure, but it also brings the emptiness—the sensation that you need to be working on something, writing something. There’s almost a feeling of betrayal—why isn’t your manuscript around to help you anymore?

It’s attachment, it’s habit, and it can be bittersweet. It’s also liberating, because now I can start plotting my next novel.

Thank you for providing support on this journey as I went through the beta rounds, made edits, and even procrastinated work! I don’t know exactly when the book will be out. It’ll probably be in October, because that’s my favorite month (Halloween!)

Also—Serenade is shorter than Dissonance by a couple of chapters, and I feel perfectly okay with that. A struggle I had throughout the writing process was fear of not making it the length I wanted. I read the manuscript this morning, though, and feel that it said what it needed to. It’s not worse because of those couple thousand missing words. Quality over quantity—it’s an old cliché, but a lesson I learned, and a piece of advice I will keep with me whenever I am working on a new book.

How do you deal with the emptiness after you finish writing a project? Are there specific ways in which you pass the free time?

The Blue Lady, Conclusion


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The city was struck by a plague. The old man spoke these words in such a matter-of-fact tone, and little Abigail accepted them without so much as a question. They made no sense to the ghost listening in, though. Evelyn couldn’t remember a plague.

“You probably visited the hospital they built to treat the illness,” he continued. “They built it too late—by then, many people had already perished.”

The fire danced in the hearth, as if nodding in agreement. The spirit dared take a step closer, self-conscious for the first time in years. She saw Abigail shiver a little, wrapping herself up in a blanket.

Outside the window, a heavy breeze rattled the trees, making the floorboards creak. It was not a new sound—the house had always been drafty—but its familiarity made Evelyn feel oddly out-of-place.

“There was something wrong with the water that year,” the man continued. “It poisoned many people who lived in this city. Lady Evelyn was one of the first to perish. Her death was blamed on a witch believed to live in the forest, one who was jealous of the young girl’s beauty. That portrait has been on the mantle ever since.”

“Do you think she’s still here?” asked Abigail, as the spirit took a step away from them and the warmth of the fire.

Her grandfather smiled, looking more lively than he had at the beginning of the conversation. “I know she is, but not for long. Today is the anniversary of her death.”

When he uttered those words, the Blue Lady felt her bond vanish. For the first time, she realized she was free like the wind, no longer gripped by the impulse to roam in search of attention. She took another step back, puzzled—what was happening?

“Is she unhappy?” the young girl asked.

Her grandfather’s smile held. “I think she’s free.”

She’s free. The Blue Lady found herself vanishing into the familiar space of the house, fading into the fibers of the wallpaper, melting into the floorboards. She allowed herself to be carried off by memories, absorbed by the comforting truth.

“I think it’s time to put that portrait away,” said the old man, several seconds later. Despite his old, aching body, he got to his feet and reached up for the portrait on the mantle.

Abigail watched her grandfather carefully remove the portrait from its spot, putting an end to eighty years of mournful display. She gazed at the wall, hugging herself tightly with the wool blanket, and whispered to the ghost she knew was no longer there.

“Happy birthday, Lady Evelyn.”

The End

The Blue Lady, Part II


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The wind appeared to whisper words as Lady Evelyn walked up a familiar cobblestone road. Her destination was in sight, the home where she’d grown up. Light spilled through one of the windows; she remembered it had been the parlor where her father used to sit and read.

It had been years since she came here, but she could not bring herself to feel more than deja vu. Little excited her these days. Hopefully in this familiar place, she would find puzzles to pass the time.

It was a handsome house with red shutters. Two rocking chairs sat abandoned on a frosty deck. Though candles had been placed on the windowsills in form of protection, she was not a dark entity to be scared off by superstition.

She slipped through the door with no great effort and looked up at a familiar crystal chandelier; to her right, a winding staircase inched to the second floor. Her feet made no sound as she made her way to her father’s parlor.

Inside, two people spoke in quiet voices. The first was a child. “What a cold night, Grandfather.”

“I know, Abigail.” There was a sigh. “The fire should warm you soon enough.”

Evelyn peered into the parlor, where the fireplace had indeed been lit. She saw by its glow that two armchairs had been occupied, one by a girl of eight or nine. Across from her, a feeble old man hugged himself against the draft.

There was sadness in their eyes. It was strong enough to shock a ghost.

Her wandering eyes stopped on a portrait hanging over the mantle. It was a painting of herself at the age of sixteen, three years before she breathed her last. She’d been in the forest for so long that her own face startled her.

In the painting her dark hair was braided, woven into the same style she wore now. Her blue eyes peered from the depths of the painting, an uncanny likeness. She wore a blue dress much like the one she’d been buried in.

Abigail spoke, voice oddly hushed. “It always feels like that painting is watching me, Grandfather.”

Evelyn wondered if her presence could be sensed by the living in this house.

“Souls often haunt objects. It lets them catch a glimpse of the living.”

“Will you tell me how she died?” asked the girl.

“It’s a grim story, dear.”

“I’m old enough.”

There was a long pause, and he sighed. “Very well. I don’t like how your mother protects you from everything.” He looked into the fire for a moment, reminiscing. Then he clasped his hands and began.

“Eighty years ago, the city was struck by a plague.”

To Be Continued…

The Blue Lady, Part I


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It was that time of the night when insect voices rose in chorus over branches in the breeze. Some said the sighs of a miserable woman could be heard, always a little heavier than the wind. Few came to this part of the forest—only those with hearts of steel dared to camp here.

If only they would visit more often. The Blue Lady got so very lonely with nothing to haunt but owls in trees.

Her long, silky robe made no sound on the ground, though sometimes by chance it would move in time with the rustling foliage. It was clear material, shiny like it had been the day she bought it; sometimes she could still smell the dye.

A silken sleeve slid off her arm as she waved off a firefly. It darted out of her way, scuttling into the night. Nothing could stand between her and her goal; she had chosen to make a change in her life—erm, afterlife.

Evelyn, the Blue Lady, was headed back to the house where her life had ended. She found no comfort in the cold forest, so empty of humans to interact with. She would lurk in the shadows of her old chamber, basking in the familiarity of those cerulean walls.

If she was doomed to roam this earth for all eternity, she wanted to spend it in the place she’d once called home. She felt no sense of belonging here with the trees and birds; they were so full of life that she was a trespasser, but she wouldn’t be for much longer.

Lady Evelyn would return to her home. She had tended to it all her life, hosting parties in the parlors she so lovingly designed. She might only be a spirit now; however, that house had been her home. She chose to wait out eternity in the place that had seen her laugh and cry until her last day.

It was the first choice Evelyn had made since her death. Nothing could get in her way, and thankfully little could slow a ghost in movement.

Her blue cloak made an invisible trail. She walked, head up, determined—dying to go back home.

To Be Continued…

The Hopelessness of a Firefly


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Crickets sang in chorus, a merry song dancing around like freedom. Fireflies drifted from bush to bush, their light bringing sparkle to the hollow. They couldn’t outshine the moon, a familiar face in the sky; some believed it saw and knew all.

In the light of the moon, I caught a firefly in a my glass jar, closing the lid before it could get away. Sometimes I doubted folklore’s claim that the moon saw everything. If it could see everything, it was cruel—or powerless to change fate.

After all, it was silent as it watched me trap a firefly in my jar. It could not, or would not do a thing to keep me from stealing the small creature’s freedom. I knew it would not save me from the small things that bothered me throughout the day.

I made my way home in silence, my back turned to the moon. It was not all-knowing or powerful, just another light by which I could see the injustice of the world. Just to be safe, I kept a firefly with me every night.

There should always be light near.