Battle Song Q&A — An Introduction to My Current Novel

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Sorry this post has been so late in coming! It’s mostly because I feel like I haven’t really made significant progress on Battle Song. I’m in the middle of scene 10 (out of 64), and I’ve written just over 11,000 words. I love my outline, and I love the story, but I still find it hard to actually sit down and write.

But here I am to talk about my novel! In a nice Q&A format that I made up myself.

So…what’s it about?

Good question. It should be easy to come up with a blurb, with all the planning I’ve done, but I still can’t come up with something I’m satisfied with. I’ll keep trying, but here’s what I have for right now:

Amrya il Osamarii is trapped in tradition. Forced to fight and kill, she longs for something besides the ceaseless battles and bloodshed of the mers. Something more. Something like the humans.

After the pain and conflict become too much, she risks all that she has in order to become human–only, the humans aren’t anything like she dreamed. Forced to fight in a war, she continues to seek for peace.

But how can it be found, when forgiveness is impossible?

Where did you get the idea for Battle Song?

This is actually a long story.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might have noticed that Battle Song has evolved a lot.

My very first idea was written down at school, I think. I don’t remember where I got it from, but I had the idea that “the little mermaid trades her beauty instead of her voice”. I was tired of love at first sight, and I wanted a story where people fell in love for someone’s personality, not just how they looked.

Then other stuff got added in, such as warrior mermaid clans and fabulous princes. I became especially fascinated with the mentions of religion in the fairy tale, and I decided that religion would be an important part of the story.

(If you haven’t heard, in the original fairy tale, the merfolk don’t have immortal souls, but the humans though. When the little mermaid becomes human, she has to marry the prince, so that their souls can become one and she can live forever.)

Unfortunately, as I continued to develop it more, I found that both of these aspects became less prominent. I still would love to address the religion aspect as it relates to marriage more in Battle Song, but it just doesn’t work. The conflict just doesn’t work.

When I wrote (or, more accurately, started) Battle Song 2.0, I touched on some really great conflict at the beginning. However, I didn’t realize how important that conflict was at first, still thinking that the main issue of the story was marrying the prince, like the original fairy tale.

Then I began the Snowflake Method, and I realized that the real conflict of the story was about war, forgiveness, and hope. So the conflict became much more internalized–and much more complex, which is awesome and what makes it so exciting!

Who are the main characters?

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From left to right, we have Malena, Rhysdan/Rhys, Amrya, and Aeren.

Although I’d say Amrya is the only actual main character, the others do play their roles. (Plus, I drew this before the others became less important, so that’s why they’re all on there.)

Amrya il Osamarii–

In one word, I’d say she’s conflicted. Throughout the entire story, there are so many different things pressuring her. But she’s also determined and loyal, which is why she’s so great.

Prince Aeren li Sannave–

Aeren is just…awesome. Okay, I’ll come up with a better word. He’s tender. But he’s not necessarily weak; he’ll also fight for those he loves.

(And no, the pineapple shall remain mysterious.)

Princess Malena il Althair–

Malena is a princess from the neighboring island of Sannave. She’s perceptive. And she’s surprisingly kind for who she is and how she grew up, which is awesome.

Prince Rhysdan li Sannave–

Yes, Rhys and Aeren are brothers. Rhys is older. Rhys is resolute. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep Sannave and his people safe. Even if that means doing something good. Definitely an ends justify the means kind of guy.

There’s also another awesome character, but he doesn’t have a name yet, so I won’t introduce him. (I also don’t know all that much about him, but he is awesome.)

What do you think will be your favorite part to write?

Oooh, I have several. Of course, I can’t tell you about any of them because of spoilers, but…scenes 37-38, 46-47, 54, and 60 will be quite fun. *grins evilly*

What are your thoughts?

What do you think about Battle Song? Do you have any ideas on how the blurb could be improved? What questions would you add to the Q&A? I’ll try to answer them, if they’re not spoilerous. (Just so you know, spoilerous is probably the best writing word ever. It’s just so fun to say! Spoilerous!)

Oh, and do you like fairy tale retellings? If so, which ones are your favorites?


Review of The Snowflake Method

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As you may have known, I’ve been using The Snowflake Method to plan my novel, Battle Song. The Snowflake Method is a method created by Randy Ingermanson to design a novel outline. The idea is that you start small (one sentence), and expand it until you get to something large and complex (a fifty-page outline, then your first draft).

Here’s the link to his article about it: The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel

I haven’t yet finished all ten steps of The Snowflake Method, as the last step is to actually write the entire first draft, but overall, this method has worked quite awesomely for me. In this review, I’ll share some of my thoughts, including my likes and dislikes, about this method.

My Favorite Part: The Outlines

I know, I know, I told you that I wasn’t a planner, and I didn’t like outlines! Well, that’s just what I thought. I love my outlines. Why do I love them? Well, for two simple reasons:

  1. They organize my writing and plot fantastically. Previously, I’ve struggled with writing my middle…which then led to struggles in writing the climax and the ending. But having an outline makes it easy to see how the story progresses and will serve as a great guide as I draft Battle Song.
  2. They make me feel so professional! Which is definitely the more important reason, haha. But seriously, it’s so much fun to be making notes about a certain spot in the book and be able to say, “But wait, in scene #42, she says…” It just makes me feel like a real author, which is such a cool feeling.

In The Snowflake Method, you end up making two outlines. The first is in a spreadsheet, with just a short explanation of each scene. At times, it was hard to boil down the essence of a scene into 10 words or so, because there was just a lot going on in each scene. Plus, I wasn’t entirely sure what constituted as a scene. However, I love being able to see the novel at a glance. Instead of having to scroll through pages to be able to find a specific scene, I can just look at the spreadsheet and go, “Okay, that happens ten scenes later, in scene #35.” (And referencing specific scenes is, again, ridiculously fun.)

The second outline is an expanded version of the first, taking those few words you wrote and then making it into a couple of paragraphs. This is actually an optional step, but I’m loving it. It’s so fun to imagine writing these scenes later on, and since I’m not actually writing anything, the first draft will still be fun. And it will be easy to write, because I’m outlining every scene.

I made a google doc for this step only, with header links for each scene, which allows me to navigate the doc easily. Each scene has a little template that makes it easy to fill out, too.



I’ve just been having so much fun with the outlines! That being said, developing the plot enough to get to the point where I could make an outline was difficult, and I ran into several large problems. Now, however, I only have to solve little problems, so planning becomes a lot more fun!

What I Liked: Expansion of Plot

The thing I like the best about The Snowflake Method is this idea of expanding your novel from a tiny idea into an thought-out outline. And the best part about this is that you don’t expand linearly–you expand from the center outward.

To clarify, it’s not as if you start at the beginning of the outline, write the first scene, then the second, and so forth. Rather, you start with an idea that slowly leads you to create a comprehensive guide to the entire book. You have a beginning, middle, and an ending all the way from the second step, which is only a paragraph long.

Which was awesome! In previous novels, I hardly ever knew the middle or ending of the novel when I started, but by using The Snowflake Method, I was able to come up with an entire plotline that actually worked.

The organization of these plot-related steps is very cohesive and smooth. By the end of each step, I had enough information to move onto the next step. Rather than being daunted by the idea of creating an outline involving every scene, by the time I had a four-page summary of the novel, I was ready!

Here are all the plot-related steps:

  • 1 sentence summary (logline)
  • 1 paragraph summary
  • 1 page summary
  • 4 page summary
  • Spreadsheet outline (short description of each scene)
  • Expanded outline (longer description of each scene) (optional)
  • First draft

I loved how these steps fit together, and they helped me create a plot that I love.

What I Disliked: Insufficient Character Expansion

There are seven plot-related steps above. But what about the other three? Well, those are for developing characters.

  • 1 page character sheets (including a 1 paragraph storyline)
  • 1 page character storylines for major characters, 1/2 page for minor
  • Character charts detailing everything there is to know about each character

To me, these steps just aren’t sufficient to create an entire character, especially one who develops in synchrony with the plotline.

The first two steps work well together, but then, you’re suddenly expected to know “everything there is to know about each character” (the last bullet point is, in fact, a quote from the Snowflake Method article). I ended up skipping that step (more or less), as it actually seems impossible to me.

Rather than that step, I researched character arcs and developing realistic characters, and I found an article about a very simple yet emotional way to develop them: Creating Deep Realistic Characters

This includes only 4 steps:

  1. The Goal
  2. The Motivation
  3. The Deep Dark Belief
  4. The Origin of the Deep Dark Belief

It was difficult to figure this out so late in the process, so when planning another novel, I will definitely move this sooner. I still have yet to figure out how exactly I will alter The Snowflake Method to fit my character needs (perhaps adding more steps?), but I will.

Which is actually another thing I love about The Snowflake Method: you’re allowed to, even supposed to, alter it to fit your needs. You can add, remove, and change steps all you want, so that it works for you.

No Worldbuilding?

There is no worldbuilding, or even setting development, involved in The Snowflake Method. Which can be a problem, especially if you’re creating a fantasy world.

There are two sides to this issue. On one hand, you want to be able to develop your setting enough that it can take part in your plot. On the other hand, you don’t want the setting to be so important that it constricts your ability to create a good plot.

For me, this wasn’t as important. I’ve started writing Battle Song twice, and both times I developed the world and the magic a little bit more. I already had enough information that I could incorporate it into the plot.

I don’t think there’s a way to include worldbuilding into the steps of The Snowflake Method, though. Character and plot are very much intertwined, while the setting may only have a minor effect.

I’d assume this is part of the “composting” that Ingermanson talks about: the time before you begin The Snowflake Method, where you spend time just thinking about your novel, collecting ideas. Doing some development beforehand gives you a solid backdrop while you create characters and plot, but you can always change it later on, if needed.


I love how The Snowflake Method helped me organize my novel into something cohesive and understandable! It needs a few personal tweaks and alterations to work for me, but there is definitely a solid foundation.

I would definitely recommend this method to anyone who:

  • doesn’t already have a planning method that works for them
  • wants to become more serious about writing
  • wants outlines that make them feel professional (obviously important)

Your Thoughts

If you’ve tried The Snowflake Method, what did you think of it? What were some things that you would change?

If you haven’t, how do you plan your novels (or do you)? What is your favorite part of the writing process (planning, writing, revising, etc.)? What do you think is the most important element to develop when planning a novel?

(P.S. I started drafting Battle Song the other day! So you should see a post about that soon!)

The Writer’s Tag

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I know, I haven’t done a tag since…well, since the Week of Blog Tags, and I don’t remember how long ago that was. But what writer doesn’t love talking about writing? And when May @ Forever and Everly tagged anyone who wanted to do it, why not do it…a month later? (That’s pretty good for me, actually.) Thanks, May!

So, it’s time for The Writer’s Tag! Where I talk about writing!

What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

Lots of things, but I suppose it’s usually the same things that I like to read about!

For genresFantasy with cool plot reveals and a dash of romance. But, you know, I’ve never read epic science fiction, and yet that’s something else I’m writing about? I need to read more sci-fi…anyone know of any books?

For styles: I usually write in 3rd person, past tense, but for Battle Song, which I’m starting to work on again, it’s actually in 1st person! And my writing style is usually fairly straightforward. I would love to develop better word choice and a more beautiful writing style, but mine is pretty simple right now.

For topics: I love to write about dragons, magic, fairy tale retellings, cultures/beliefs, deep characters, and war. Probably too much war. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure that I’ve written a novel that doesn’t have war in it…I just love the strength and heroism it brings out in people!

How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember! I still have old notebooks from when I was in elementary school with unfinished stories in them (usually about fairies or orphans…who knows?).

However, I never really took writing seriously as something I’d actually want to do with my life until my dad suggested we do Camp NaNoWriMo together, in April 2013. That’s when I realized how much I loved writing.

Then, 2014 was when writing became more a part of my life, when I took the 365K challenge and tried to write a thousand words every day.

And now, I’m trying to make writing my career, so I guess it depends on your definition of “writing”. Maybe I’m just beginning!

Why do you write?

I write because I love it. I write because if I don’t write, my mind fills with new ideas and new plots, and my Creative Dragon awakes within me, telling me that it won’t leave me alone until I write something. (True story.)

I write because I love to express emotions through words, because I can’t always speak, because there’s a beauty in showing how people progress through difficult challenges.

I write because weaving a story is my favorite way to spend my time. I adore my characters, I can’t stop the exhilaration of coming up with a new idea, and I love trying to puzzle out how everything fits together. In short, it’s awesome!

When is the best time to write?

All the time! Just kidding. I don’t know if there’s a particular time of day that I feel more productive to writing, because that’s not something I normally pay attention to, but on my new schedule I’m writing from 3:00-5:00 p.m. I don’t know, if I did it a little earlier, I’d probably be a bit more creative, but it still works! I like having a timeframe that I have to stick to–writing, and nothing else, during those hours.

What parts of writing do you love, and what parts do you hate?

Love:love that moment when everything just fits together! After you’ve been thinking hard and pondering how anything relates, and it’s so confusing, but this flash of inspiration comes and everything makes sense!

When you think of an awesome plot twist or plot reveal.

When you’re developing a character you didn’t really connect with before, and then you figure out something about them, and you just love them to death.

When thinking about a character’s death makes you want to cry (even if you don’t).

When you write that super emotional scene and your heart feels like it’s being squeezed and your characters are all so awesome and dramatic and everything is awesome.

When you have dreams about your characters being shippy. *nods*

When you have dreams that spark story ideas.

When you share your work and someone loves it! And not only that, but they connect with it. That’s awesome.

When you look back on old writing and realize that it’s not as bad as you remembered.

When you think of a deliciously sad and emotional ending or scene.

When you get to be the evil author. All too often done by me…but it’s so fun!

When you’re so in love with your story that everyone else can’t help but love it too.

…that was kind of long…

Hate/Dislike: Being stuck and not knowing where to go next.

When you have such a great idea, and it doesn’t turn out as good on paper.

When your characters are all refusing to develop themselves. Hence all the character-glaring that I do.

When you start to compare yourself with other writers and feel like a failure.

When you feel like you don’t know how to write anymore.

When someone doesn’t like your writing that you’re really proud of.

When you feel so inadequate and like you’ll never measure up.

Gosh, why do we put the “hates” after the “loves”? That’s just depressing.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I don’t. Umm, probably through endurance, I guess? Sometimes all it takes is to keep going when it’s hard. But I think usually it helps to take a break and do something else (like drawing or playing the piano) to calm me down. After that, it helps to find where things went wrong and then try to fix it or go from there. Identifying the problem is half the battle!

(And fixing it is the other half. *sighs* Usually something needs more development…always more development.)

Are you working on something at this moment?

Yes, I’m writing this blog post. Yup! I just started working on Battle Song, a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, with warrior mermaids + cool characters + cool religion stuff + wars! (See? There’s even multiple wars in this one.) I started writing it last November for NaNoWriMo, but I’m restarting.

(I’d link you to the page, but some things are changing and I need to rewrite it. And also make a better blurb. Because I’m great at that.)

Anyway, I’m still working on re-developing stuff, but soon I’m going to start writing. This time, I’m going to write the last 10K first because then I’ll know where I’m headed. Plus, there’s some great emotional/shippy/awesome scenes at the end. *grins*

What are your writing goals this year?

Well, I do have goals from my New Year’s Resolutions post, buut a few of those might be changing. My new goals are to write every day, to publish at least two short stories, and have the first and second drafts of Battle Song done.

Unless you mean “year” as in a year from today, in which case to have Battle Song as ready for publishing as I can get it.

And, of course, to always be improving!

Tag–You’re it!

If you read this and enjoyed it, consider yourself tagged. Because I only have a few people who I could tag, and I’m also not sure how many you’re supposed to tag for this…so tag if you want it!

(Also, if you do this tag, feel free to use the graphic!)

we talk and talk and talk

Are you going to do the tag/have you done it before? I’d love a link! And if you don’t want to do the tag, feel free to answer the questions in a comment below! I especially want to know what you love and what you hate about writing.

Oh, and, P.S. I’m going to be gone next week on a family vacation. I was going to write a post and pre-schedule it, but I don’t know if I’ll have time. So if you don’t see me, that’s why!

Spotlight #6: Meet Samuel (Iris, Part 2)

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Spotlights: excerpts, commentary, and random stuff about my current writing. Previous Spotlights can be found here.

If you remember the last Spotlight, I introduced to you a new story that I’ve been calling Iris but will probably be called something else (The Flower of Esclia?). Well, it was supposed to be a short story, but I have 17,000 words so far and it’s still not done.

So it’ll probably be more of a novelette/ novella.

Anyway, I told you about some characters last time, and today you get to meet a new one! His name is Samuel, and he’s quite fantastic. He’s the son of a travelling merchant and was Rosie’s and Iris’s childhood friend. He’s perceptive and…I don’t know how to describe him. You’ll have to read the excerpt.

Random updates on the current writing: The story keeps getting more complicated. Shippiness is at an all-time low between Garic and Iris, but don’t worry, it’ll get better. And I basically have no idea what I’m doing anymore, so I’m making it up as I go along.

All right, all right, I’ll give you the excerpt.

A few minutes later, Samuel sat down next to her and flicked the reins, starting the horses into an easy walk. “The prince is in the back…but he’s right, you know. It looks like it might snow.”

Iris tilted her head to the sky, blanketed with clouds so that neither stars nor moon could be seen. “Maybe.”

“So what’s this about Rosie?” asked Samuel.

This was not how she wanted him to find out. If anything, she didn’t want him to find out at all. Rosie would be better in his memories as free and unfettered, not crippled and locked away in her room. “Last time you and your father left…”


“About a month later, there was an…an accident.”

Samuel turned to her, dark eyes filled with pain. “What happened?”

Iris took a deep breath. Better to get it over with quickly. “A carriage driver lost control and one of his horses nearly killed Rosie. She survived but…but she has no movement below her neck.”

He was breathing heavily, and she thought she could see the memories running through his mind. Their times together had always been filled with physical activities, with running wild through the streets in a race, or playing tug-of-war, or dancing in the lantern glow of the autumn festival.

That had been the last time Samuel had been there, and Rosie had practically glowed all through those two weeks. And at the end was the festival, where the musicians played and the people of Eyspar danced, and Samuel and Rosie had spent half the night together, spinning around each other and whispering and laughing.

Looking at him, Iris knew that was exactly the memory in his eyes.

“She’s pulled through, though,” she whispered. “You know Rosie…she can find happiness in every situation. I don’t know how she does it, but she does.”

Samuel didn’t answer for a long time, the silence filled by the wind in the grass and the quiet clopping of the horses’ hooves on the dirt road. Finally he spoke. “It’ll be warmer in the wagon. You should go inside.”

It was easy to tell that he wanted to be left alone, so Iris nodded, and he stopped the horses so that she could climb inside.

The wagon was cluttered with wares and barrels and a dim lantern hung in the corner, swaying, illuminating Garic in the only clear spot, leaning against the wall.

She sat down as far away from him as she could, which was only a few feet, and looked down at the ground.

“You’ve been crying,” said Garic.

Of course he’d notice the one thing that she was trying to hide. But what did it matter? It didn’t change the fact that Rosie was never going to stand or walk again. That she could never be who she was once before.

“We haven’t seen Samuel for over a year,” she whispered. “He didn’t know about—” Her voice broke. “About Rosie.”

Iris glanced up at Garic, bathed in warm lantern light, extending his arms to her.

Tonight, when the wind whistled sorrowfully and Samuel’s heart was breaking, she let herself go to him. Tonight he held her, and his solidity dampened the pain, made it bearable.

Tomorrow she would push him away again, tomorrow, but tonight…tonight she let her silent tears fall on him until she fell asleep.

lettuce talk (hahaha I’m so clever)

What do you think of the Spotlight/excerpt/Samuel/everything? Does the block quote format make the text too big? (I’m kind of thinking so.) If you could put the characters into any situation & observe their reactions, what would it be? And randomly, how are you today? What’s been the best part of your day/week?

Beautiful People: Parental Edition (with Aleria, Iris, and Garic)

PAPERFURYThis month’s Beautiful People interview is about parents! The character we shall be talking about today is Princess Aleria of Esclia, whose parents are Iris and Garic, so basically I’m just talking about Iris and Garic anyway. See how clever I am, talking about what I’m currently working on?

If you missed my excerpt with Iris and Garic, you can check it out here (Spotlight #5: Iris) and understand why I’m casually just fangirling over my own characters…

Beautiful People is a monthly character interview hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In.

Now for the questions!

  • Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?

Pretty good. Garic and Iris both try to be close to their daughter, but they also try to protect her from a lot of things, which causes some tension. They’re also gone a lot and it’s hard for Aleria to always communicate with them, but she does know that they care about her.

  • Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?

Yes, she does.

  • How did their parents meet?

Well, this is the story that I’m writing currently, so I could give you the very in-depth version, but in short, Iris is famed to be “the prophetess of Eyspar” and Garic comes to her for help because he’s the prince and he’s afraid someone wants to kill him.

  • How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?

Aleria would get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside because she admires her parents, especially her mother. She wants to become like them, and if she were told that she was, she’d be thrilled.

  • What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?

Well, Aleria’s story starts when she’s younger than Garic and Iris are in their story, so nothing extremely exciting. Garic was doing princely things, like preparing to come of age and being tutored in all sorts of things and trying to deal with his father’s remarriage. Iris was probably embroidering pillows and starting to look for suitors and being dragged on adventures with Rosie and Samuel.

  • Is there something they adamantly disagree on?

Garic and Iris trust their adviser, but Aleria does not, and in fact does not like him at all. She wants them to get rid of him, but they won’t, and she doesn’t understand why.

  • What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?

Raising her to not thinking that she could have whatever she wanted…which they didn’t exactly succeed at. She’s the princess and the only child, and she did get what she wanted. But they did manage to raise her to be kind, which was a partial success.

  • What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?

Aleria remembers more with Iris, I think, and there’s not specifically one that stands out more than the others. She loved to sit and watch her mother embroider in the night, by light of a candle, humming…

  • What was your character like as a baby/toddler?

Adorable but willful. She liked to get into things she wasn’t supposed to, but you know, with that innocent smile and chubby cheeks, how could one be angry with her?

  • Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?

Aleria is Garic’s mother’s name, and she was awesome. They wanted Aleria to grow up as strong and gentle and royal as she was.


Because I love you, when I was supposed to be writing yesterday, I made a Pinterest board about my story with Garic and Iris. There are adorable pictures & mysterious captions and little quotes from the story, so check it out and tell me what you think!

let us talk!

What are your thoughts? What would you ask Aleria, Iris, or Garic if you could ask them one question? What are the best kind of parents in books/in real life? If you did this Beautiful People interview, link me to your post!

Dragons + Viking Culture + Middle Grade = Camp NaNoWriMo

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That’s right, friends, Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner (a.k.a. tomorrow), and today I’ll be sharing my novel idea with y’all!

As you can (hopefully) tell by the title, it’s a middle grade novel with dragons and a Viking-era setting, and what you didn’t know is that it also involves three banished children and a miniature, snarky dragon.

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I wrote those runes in on this picture; it means “dragon novel” in Nordic runes. The picture is a pretty good representation of a drake as well…

Who are the characters?


Mikael is the main character. He’s quiet and creative, and he carries around a sketchbook with him. He has a big family and sometimes goes unnoticed, so he wants to become someone great that people will appreciate.


Asta is the daughter of wealthy parents, and she’s extremely intelligent. She sees the world in a very direct and clear way, and she uses that to her advantage in order to get whatever she wants.


Izak is a bit of an outcast compared to the other two. After his mother died, he and his father have been on their own. Consequently, he’s spent a lot of time out in the wild and knows how to survive.


Loki is a drake (miniature dragon) who can talk and uses his clever wit to insult anyone around him. When that doesn’t work, he’ll bite them. He can be very influential and charismatic when he wants to be, but making jabs at other people is much more fun.

(I had a drawing of them, but Izak was drawn wrong, and the clothing was inaccurate for the time periods, so you don’t get to see it… Hopefully I can draw another one soon to show you!)


What’s the story about?

Well, here’s my synopsis:

The coming-of-age ceremony requires three children to work together to complete tasks, but even quiet Mikael knows that it’s not all about learning how to work together. Those who win are awarded with respect that no other child would receive–and with the loud, inconsiderate Izak in his group, Mikael is less than happy with their chances.

So when Asta, the third and cleverest member of the group, suggests taking one of the talking drakes with them, Mikael agrees, even though it’s not allowed. Everything falls apart during the competition, and when the drake is found with them, the three of them are banished for a week–the three children and the drake, Loki.

Away from their home for the first time, they find out what lies beyond the cliffs–runes and ruins that lead to secrets that have lain hidden for hundreds of years.

They must work together and develop friendship in order to uncover the deepest secrets and stop the forces that are combining against them.

It’s all very friendship-y and touchy-feely, but hey, it has a good message for middle-graders, right?

I’m very excited to write this! It came about partially because dragons but also because I wanted to write something for my younger brother. It should hopefully be short and sweet and maybe with a hint of plot twist

¡Háblame! (Speak to me!)

What do you think of the novel? What is your project about for Camp NaNo? Are you ready to write like crazy tomorrow? Do you like dragons? (If you say no, something drastic might happen…) What does your candy stash look like?

P.S. Because of this post, I’ve decided to try increasing my blog’s readability. I think my post is definitely more readable than others, but I feel like my voice has faded and this post was not as exciting as it should have been, since I love this project. Feedback? I would love to find a good balance and improve my blog.

P.P.S. If you are wondering where I’ve been, I went on choir tour (much fun!) and then I’ve also been procrastinating/frantically doing homework in the wee hours of the night/stealing the books my mom is reading/occasionally writing, all instead of blogging. Sorry?

Enhanced: The Complete Field Guide, Part Two (Characters)


I fully expect this to be the longest of the three parts of the Enhanced Field Guide (places, characters, and plots). If you missed the first part–Places in Enhanced, you can find that here: Enhanced: The Complete Field Guide, Part One (Places).

Why will this be the longest one? Because I have a whole bunch of characters, both major and minor, and I fully expect that the more I write, the more characters will come up. So when this field guide is officially posted on its own page, I’ll update it with new characters when I start 105_0189-editedtalking about them. For right now, though, all of the characters in this post should appear or be mentioned somewhere in the first book, Enhanced.

Oh, and Kellyn Roth @ Reveries was the first one to guess which character this hairstyle belonged to: Meryn. Despite the fact that the hairstyle does indeed look like a boy’s, it is her hair. (Of course, Kell did just list all of the main female characters after I said it was a girl, so I don’t know how much effort it took.) You’ll get a full sketch of Meryn later on in the post–yay!–and she’ll look much less like a boy then.



I just made up her last name right now. So it’s subject to change…but I kind of like it, so who knows?

Brie is my smol, emotional cinnamon roll who is thrown into this world with no experience and wants nothing more than to save her brother, Seth (see Plots–Rescue Seth and Characters–Seth). She has way too much hair and loves music and singing. She loves deeply and is extremely empathetic.

And because I know you want it, here’s my little chibi drawing of her:


Isn’t she so adorable? I love her and so should you.


Will is extremely computer-savvy, and therefore the Reapers’ hacker. It might be weird to say that he feels some sort of emotional connection with computers, but he does–when he was part of the Delorem Program (see Places–The Delorem Program), computers were really the only thing that he could hold on to.

He also makes horrible jokes and puns that no one laughs at, and he likes cats. Going deeper than that, though, he feels responsible for his cousin, Taira (see Characters–Taira) and worries about her (and other people) a lot.

Fun Fact: In the original draft, Will and Brie were going to be a ship. Now, they’re not, but they do develop a sort of sibling-like relationship throughout the first book because Will likes to take care of people and Brie needs taking care of.

LILIAN SHAZI (also referred to as LIL)

Lil is the only POV character who is an adult, and she is definitely a mother figure to lots of people, but especially Will (see Characters–Will). Because of some time spent in the Enhancement Facility (see Places–The Enhancement Facility), she can’t feel physical pain. However, she has a very sad backstory (which I may someday write a novella about…) and her life is filled with emotional pain that just grows worse as the book goes on.

She always cares about people deeply and grows very attached to them. She notices the lonely soul and gives cookies to those with hurting hearts. And she’s so friendly and warm and inviting that you can’t help but be friends with her and want her love.

Fun Fact: She wears ribbons in her braids in her hair. I seriously use this for every fun fact I’ve done with her. But hey, if you have a good one, do you have to find a new one?


Kai is the hero. Not necessarily the hero of the story but just a hero in that he sticks to what he believes in, which is awesome. I adore characters like that. Despite being heroic, he’s also a little confused and a little lost about everything. He’s trying to grow up and figure everything out, and without a father, that’s especially hard. (His father died when he was young.)

He also has this desire to be strong and to show that he’s just like everyone else or better…which leads to lots of flirting with girls. (I don’t know whether to facepalm or headdesk.) But he just struggles and it’s awesome.

Fun Fact: In the first draft, Kai was totally honest. Like, he could only remember telling one lie in his life. *claps for Kai* So that’s part of what inspired me to have him be the hero, but yeah, no, he fails as much as the rest of us, don’t worry. He makes mistakes, too, but it’s just that in the end, good triumphs over evil.


Meryn who also doesn’t have a last name, oops. She’s the hairstyle up above, remember? She’s lived in the city (see Places–The City) her entire life, and she is a little spoiled (read: very spoiled). She goes on dates and flirts with guys and loves fashion designing. She fights with her sister Aislynn and also has some loving conversations with her at times as well.

And because I have nothing else to say at the moment, here is a full picture of her:


She’s actually a little shorter than in that picture, but yeah, that’s a pretty good representation. And yes, she puts pockets in all of her dress designs because she understands the painnn.



She actually has a last name, but I can’t remember it…I’d have to look at the first draft to find it. Anyway, Taira is very blunt and generally rude to everyone except for Will, her cousin (see Characters–Will). She’s rude to him, too, just not as much. And she glares at everyone because other people should not exist she has bad headaches the more she’s around people.

Mainly, she just chooses to stay away from people as much as possible. And she has some good reasons for it, but some would say that they aren’t really excuses. So yeah, she has problems and is very enjoyable to think about.

Fun Fact: Taira was one of the main characters in the first draft. Then, she was just going to be one of the POV characters in Enhanced, and then Brie decided she was more important and took over her spot. But she’s definitely going to show up as a POV in the second book, Cryonic, where you’ll get to see some of her internal thoughts, which will be fun.


As you may have figured out by now, Seth is Brie’s (see Characters–Brie) older brother. He’s adventurous and always looking for some new thing to do. He might possibly be an adrenaline junkie if he lived in our day. And he loves other people, but he kind of loves nature more. He loves to be outside and exploring the great outdoors, and that’s where he gets the most joy.

Fun Fact: He also has curly hair like Brie’s, but his is a bit more under control. Actually, he’s *coughs* kind of good-looking. I mean, according to the pinterest picture I found.


Aislynn is Meryn’s (see Characters–Meryn) younger sister. She’s very analytical and ordered and structured about things, which kind of clashes with Meryn’s very creative way of thinking. Hence fights. Also, Aislynn steals Meryn’s stuff, especially her holographic computer (she doesn’t really care about stealing clothes), and basically they fight a lot but also love each other deeper. Aislynn isn’t very good at showing that love, though. She’s also into science and psychology and loves learning.

Fun Fact: Hawaiian pizza is her choice of pizza. Because you need to know that for the story to make sense.


He goes by Bennett (possibly because his name sounds like it’s from a Jane Austen novel–but if it actually is, then tell me, because I could use that) and he’s a politician. Or, I should say politician-in-training  or attempting-politician because he’s only in his early twenties and hasn’t done much yet.

But yes, Bennett has an oversized opinion of himself (which could be because he really is handsome and popular and all the girls flock around him) and he and Taira clash dynamically in the second book which is quite fun! He doesn’t do much in the first book, though, but, you know, he’s there.

Fun Fact: Bennett kind of spawned into the story by accident? I was writing the first part of Cryonic and Taira ended up meeting him, and they clashed so much that I developed him more, and he’s actually really important. For spoilerous reasons.


Jethro is–do I dare to say?–the villian…ish. I need to develop his role in the story better because he’s kind of not at the moment and he needs to be. (Even though he has a heartwrenching reason for what he’s doing…*sobs in a corner because no one knows my pain because spoilers*)

Anyway, he’s the Lead Enhancer and founder of the Enhancement Facility (see Places–The Enhancement Facility), and he does lots of cruel things. Enough said. Possibly because his personality isn’t developed super well…shhh.

Fun Fact: His name used to be Javier until I realized that a) that was basically like Javert from Les Mis, and b) that Javier was pronounced with an ‘H’ sound rather than being pronounced like Javert from Les Mis. So I needed a new name, and I was reading the Bible…and yeah, even though Jethro is a great guy, I decided his name was awesome and would be used.


I still don’t know how I feel about the name Julius. Like, part of me says yes, and the other part of me says no, and then the other part of me says yum, orange julius. So I may need to change his name, but I need suggestions. Anyone?

Julius is the leader of the Reapers (and they may be explained in the Other section of the Field Guide, if I do decide to post it?) and he makes elaborate plans but doesn’t share them with people. And then gets upset with people when they tell him something that conflicts with his plans even though that’s because he didn’t tell anyone.

He has a lot of annoying faults like this, and probably the most so is that whenever people try to tell him this, he won’t listen to them. So yeah, he annoys me sometimes, too, but he’s also really cool. He really does have a brilliant and strategic mind, and he does love people, but it’s even harder for him to show it than for Aislynn.

Fun Fact: He does, indeed, like orange julius. He’ll never admit it, though, because, let’s admit it, you can’t ever live that down.


I figured I should put them together to save times. They’re brothers and look very similar…but their personalities are fairly different. Rick acts stupid on purpose, and he pulls it off well, so he ends up being fun. He also has an obsession with old stories and fables. And he has a ponytail and a gold tooth.

Ruben, on the other hand, is more practical and refuses to laugh at Rick (that’s okay, Rick knows that he thinks he’s funny) and he likes to cook food and make lists and be ready for anything (while Rick takes things impromptu for the fun of it). Basically, he could be a butler?

Fun Fact: Rick and Ruben once broke into a chocolate factory…don’t ask.

Sometimes I forget about how much I love this novel until I think about how much I love all of my characters…seriously, all of them. *hugs them all* Anyway, be sure to watch out for the third part of The Field Guide–Plots! And if you didn’t see it the first part, here’s the link again: Enhanced: The Complete Field Guide, Part One (Places).

Do you, too, ever have the problem of not choosing a last name for your characters? It happens to me all the time obviously. Which was your favorite character? Which do you want to learn more about? I need to choose one to use for Beautiful People this month, so opinions are obviously needed! Oh, and tell me about your characters! What are they like?

Rambles on Writing #2: Things Are Looking Up


In my last post, Rambles on Writing #1, I talked about how everything in my novel seemed to be falling apart and I didn’t know how to write it and the plot was terrible and blah blah blah all of my complaining. So a big THANK YOU to everyone who encouraged, advised, supported, and commiserated with me in response.

I said I wanted my next post to be more happy and so it is! I am much more happy. There are still things to work on (like maybe actually writing something in Enhanced, but I figured out most of the problem and kind of how to fix it. (I found more problems, too, but mainly smaller ones.)

The main problem with my plot, I realized, was that none of my characters really changed. I’d made all of these lovely little plots for them to go through and struggle with, but they weren’t really struggling because the plots didn’t really affect them.

First of all, I added in the moralistic dimension that my writing had been missing. Obviously, you don’t want a book to end with, “And that’s why you should always…” because that isn’t going to change people. But if you can write a book with inspiring characters and play with the reader’s emotions, then they can learn a lesson from it and apply it to them. That wasn’t happening before, but hopefully it will now.

For that, I wrote down a list of a lot of the life lessons that I’ve learned (or should have learned) and a lot of them just fit with characters. Like, “You can’t change other people, so change yourself,” goes definitely to Taira. And Kai’s is clearly, “Heroism means integrity. You have to keep to your standards no matter the situation or justification,” which is possibly my favorite one.

Some of the others were tricky, like with Will or Bennett, but I figured them out. (“You can make a difference” and “if you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything,” respectively.)

Then I took the plot and altered it just slightly so that it would affect all of them personally. Since Meryn is so separated from the rest of them and really isn’t participating in the main plot, she was the main problem, so I spent a couple pages figuring out why their plan would affect her.

And now I’m feeling much better about the plot. There’s still so much to do, but at least I know where I’m going and why it’ll affect the character and so hopefully I have enough to get back to writing on.

I may do a very short and basic outline so that I can figure out what I’m already supposed to have written and included, but I might not and instead just continue where I left off with the better plot. *shrugs*

Anyway, I know this is a rather short and bland post, but, hey, things are working out more and I’m feeling happy about the development I’ve done, so I figured that was worth sharing. (Don’t worry, I’ll have some more exciting posts after this busy weekend.)

Oh, and before the questions at the end of this post, here’s a quick update on blogging that I forgot to post a week or two ago-I’ve gotten to a thousand comments! The thousandth comment was done by Kellyn Roth, who well-deserved this honor due to her many comments on my blog (somewhere around 150 by now. Actually, I lied–nearly 200 comments!). Thank you all for all of your comments and your conversation with me! It’s been lots of fun.

How has your writing been coming along? Have you had any breakthroughs like I have had, are you stuck in writer’s block, or are you still just breezing along with amazing skills? I would love to hear about all of your novels–go ahead, ramble!

Spotlight #4: A Novel for Sundays


In Monthly Dares: January 2017, I mentioned that on Sundays I was writing a different novel than Enhanced in order to try to honor the Sabbath more, and today I shall be talking about that novel!

The decision not to write my normal novel on Sundays came…I don’t know, a year or two ago, when I was doing NaNoWriMo. I decided that I wanted to not have to think about it or worry about it on Sundays, and just go to church and spend time with my family. Sometimes, it’s hard not to write when the characters are crowding my head, but I haven’t done it since then.

However, doing the 365k challenge this year posed a problem…if I was to write 1000 words every day, that meant I’d have to write a thousand words on Sunday as well. And so I found this novel that I’d written a prologue and part of a first chapter of beforehand and decided to continue it this year. (See, that way, it doesn’t count as starting a new novel, so I’m not breaking any resolutions.)

It’s a contemporary romance about this independent, stubborn girl (well, adult) named Scarlett, and some of the challenges she has to go through with her faith and life. I’ve read a lot of romances by LDS authors, and while some of them touched on the subject of their faith, I’d never really found one that really showed the progression of faith and how that changed the character–they were all just about the romance.

So this novel was born from me wanting to write something where the main character has to really go through some big spiritual development, with some romance on the side.

Basically the idea is that Scarlett has been running from her life for the past year or two because of a lot of really hard things that all occurred around the same time, and she just felt like she had to get away.

One day, she finds herself back in her home state of Utah, in a little town called Heatherfield, where her old car (lovingly called Miss Must) breaks down in front of a box of zucchini and a house for rent.

A series of “coincidences” occur, and Scarlett finds that everything has fallen in place for her to settle down for a few months in Heatherfield. Throughout her time in the little LDS town, she has to show her resilience and be humbled, to give up her pride and fears and trust in the Lord–and those around her.

It’s about her spiritual journey and how she herself improves, and has to give up things, and try new things, and fix her mistakes, and…I’m really happy about it. I don’t know yet what specific things are going to happen to her, but I love the concept of the novel and that I can include my faith and testimony in it, which is so precious to me.

Since this is a Spotlight, I’m going to include a little excerpt here of one of my favorite parts that I’ve written. It’s by no means polished, but I love its message.

All the way out of Heatherfield, my mind was drawn back to Lane and that old house. It wasn’t that either had been particularly special, but…it was just nice to talk to someone normally again.

Missy started stuttering as I drove past the church. “Don’t you dare break down again, Miss Must.”

Even with me threatening her full name, Missy still shuddered to a halt, just in front of the church where I’d prayed earlier.

I leaned my head against the steering wheel and closed my eyes. “This is it. Next time I can get to a car dealership, I’m going to buy something better than you,” I muttered to Missy.

After I let the threat sink in, I tried the car again. Nothing. I then tried to appease Missy, telling her how much I appreciated her, but nothing worked. What was it Lane had said he’d done? Something about the engine…or maybe the battery? I couldn’t even remember.

I’d learned in primary to pray in situations that seemed hopeless, so I figured it was worth a shot. Heavenly Father, please help Missy to start again so that I can leave. Thank you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Nothing. Of course it hadn’t worked. It wasn’t like any of my other prayers had ever been answered; why should this one, the smallest of them all, be the one He listened to?

I looked out the window again at the church. On the other side of the street, just an hour ago, I’d sat there and prayed for an answer. I hadn’t seen a vision; I hadn’t heard a voice. I wasn’t even sure if the Spirit had said anything.

But five minutes later, Missy had broken down just in front of Lane’s house, where he’d shown me a house that should have been on sale but the owners were considering renting. And now, just when I was about to leave Heatherfield, Missy had broken down again.

Heavenly Father…? Maybe I shouldn’t even have to ask you this, but…is this the answer to my prayers? Am I supposed to stay in Heatherfield? Is this where I’m supposed to be?

I hadn’t even said “amen” when I felt something a little indescribable. I hadn’t felt it in a long time, the sense of warmth and complete peace that filled my heart, emptying my mind of all its doubts. The Spirit.

Thank you, I whispered to my Father.

Spotlight #3: Yay, Battle Song Excerpts!

Today you shall behold wonders.

You shall behold first-draft, unedited, totally fabulous excerpts from my NaNoWriMo novel.

You shall behold that there was great sarcasm in that last sentence. Although, I will only be including my favorite excerpts, so maybe there will be some fabulous bits in there…we’ll see.

So, quick review if you weren’t around, since I still haven’t made a page for Battle Song yet: Little Mermaid retelling where she trades her beauty instead of her voice, is trying to get an immortal soul, is fabulous at fighting, and there are two adorable princes. Got it?

Great. Let’s get to the excerpts, then! Just be forewarned that they may be random and confusing…

“Have you seen the beauty of the ocean? Have you seen the rippling of the sand and the swaying of the seaweed? Have you seen the fish swimming past you in schools, close enough to touch? Have you seen the light streaming through the water and the bubbling of the currents? Have you seen the deep blue that grows so dark light cannot penetrate? These are sights that no human has ever seen. We come here to experience the beauty for a short time, even if it ends sooner than not.”

She [Alavar] bit her lip. I knew it even though I couldn’t see, because that’s what she did whenever she was worried about something. “There was a battle, and you were gone.”

“I…why did we attack them?”

“We didn’t. They attacked us.”

My heart froze as I thought of the implications. “But there wasn’t a storm.”

“That doesn’t matter anymore. Now all that matters is keeping us safe, which means staying together. We needed you there—Tarisah got hurt, badly.”

“Where is she?” I was suddenly frantic. Tarisah, my sister, hurt. I had to find her, had to apologize for not being there, for not protecting her. She was the third youngest, but she’d always been smaller than either I or Kariven. Always the weakest, always the one who needed to be protected, and I hadn’t been there to fight the other mers off.

“That’s not fair,” I said, as I followed Alavar out of the hut and into the blackened ocean. “They’re not supposed to do that. They’re not allowed to.”

She laughed softly, derisively. “You think that matters to them? Now, it doesn’t matter. We’ll have to be on the watch all the time, night and day, on all sides, waiting for attacks from anyone. You think our clan will survive? No. Not us. We lost all power and authority the day Mother died.”

“No, Alavar, you don’t get it. You don’t understand. You think I’m like you–you think I’m like everyone else! I try to be, but it just doesn’t work. I fooled you, but I can never fool myself. I hate fighting. I want to explore. I want to try new things. But you all expect me to be the same and I’m just not!”

She swam back from me slightly, as if my words had physically pushed her away. “What are you talking about?”

“I hate fighting. I never liked it. But I did it because everyone expected me to. I did it because it felt like my only option. And now, my only option is to stay here and be sentry because maybe then someone will trust me again and think I’m a normal mer instead of who I actually am.”

She didn’t say anything, so I kept talking. “You want to know why I spent so much time practicing how to fight? I did it because that’s what Mother and I always fought about. Maybe I thought that learning how to be a warrior would bring her back, but it never worked because she’s just seafoam and I’ll never get to see her again and tell her—” My voice broke suddenly, clogged up so much that I couldn’t speak. “Tell her how sorry I am.”

“She will share her magic with you, but for an exorbitant price, far more than one wants to pay. But she teases it out of you, hiding everything she can with half-truths. She’ll tell you she’s mended her ways, she’ll say that she only wants the best for you, but what she really wants is the best from you. It’s said she’ll steal your tail from you if you’re not paying attention.

“Down in the darkness of the deepness of the ocean she dwells, waiting for any unwary sea creature to come her way, into her grasp. Some are lured in by visionary sights; others choose to bargain. Only those who come knowing what they want manage to leave again at all, but you can never really escape.”

Her [the sea witch’s] voice became soft now, rippling through the water like how the wind caused ridges in the water and the sand. “I know what you want, Amrya, more than you do. I can see into you, to your deepest desire, the reason why you came here. Do you want to know why you are here?”

My heart was already broken; I had no idea why I would have come, so I uttered an emotionless “Yes.”

“You are here because you want to be human. You are here because you have to cling to something and that something is a soul. You want to last longer. Haven’t you thought to yourself that you wanted to be human? When Alavar laughed at that, you wanted to show her that she was wrong. She is, Amrya. There is more beauty up there that you will never see if you stay here your entire life, and all of it will last so much longer. There is no sea up there to decay the houses, nothing to wash away all the life you have known. The human world is so much more permanent than ours, and that is why you want to go.”

After I’d exhausted my spears for the fifth or sixth round, I went to go pick them up. I bent to grab one, and when I stood up, a man was standing there, holding out two of the spears I’d thrown to me. I squinted at him, at the light blond hair, the plain clothing, and then I remembered where I’d seen him before: talking to the prince on the riverbank the day of the fireworks.

“Thank you,” I said, after staring at him for a moment, and took the spears into my arms.

“What’s your name?” he asked, a glint of surprise in his blue eyes…blue just like Alavar’s.

“Amrya,” I replied, picking another spear off the ground, and waited for him to respond with his name, but he never did. Instead he grabbed the last spear, handed it to me, and walked back the thirty-or-so paces to where I had been throwing with me.

“Where did you learn to use a spear like that?” he asked.

I wasn’t sure how to answer. The way he asked it implied that this wasn’t how he normally saw spears being used…either that, or he thought it was impressive and also rare. Either way, saying anything specific might give something odd away. “My mother taught me.”

He looked at me even more oddly than before. “Your mother? So do all the women in your family do it?”

I nodded. “I have five older sisters.”

He looked at me in surprise again, and I wondered if he would ever look at me normally. “And they all can throw spears like that?”

I shrugged. “More or less.”

“What are your plans, then, for your future?” he [the king] pressed.

Before I had time to even think about answering, Aeren put his glass down on the table, a little harder than necessary. “Amrya has just been in a shipwreck that took the lives of her loved ones. Do you expect her to have an immediate plan for her future? She’ll figure everything out, I’m sure, but she needs time, not more stress than she already has.”

“Calm down, Aeren,” said the queen. “We’ll talk about this after dinner.”

Aeren still looked angry with his parents, but his spine, which had stiffened during his outburst, relaxed slightly.

I judged the situation cautiously. I was supposed to be nice to him [Rhys], to try to get him to fall in love with me, but I couldn’t help be a little bit annoyed with him. “You enjoyed that, didn’t you?”


“Playing with them. Lying to them.”

He raised an eyebrow and looked at me coolly. “I’m not the one who should be talking about lying.”

I looked away, at the dancing, but I didn’t really focus in on it. “What did you tell Aeren?”

“Why does it matter to you whether he believes you or not? I thought I was the one you were trying to impress. You’re just like all those other girls. You only want the crown prince in order for my money, or worse, to become queen. Or, alternately, you could be a spy from Althair who merely heard about the story of the mysterious girl who saved me from the ship.”

“I’m not a spy, and I’m not like the other girls.” I looked at him levelly and gathered the courage I had. “I told you the truth when I said I was the one who saved you. The only reason I told Aeren differently is because you didn’t believe me, so I knew he wouldn’t.”

Rhys returned the same gaze. “I don’t know whether I should trust you or not.”

We walked in silence for a long moment, both of us looking out at the ocean and the sunset as the light died and drifted into darkness. The palace glowed with faint, yellow light, and we headed toward it. “When are you planning to go back to Althair?” asked Aeren suddenly.

“I do not know yet. I’m not sure. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to go back.” No, I knew that. I was a human now, forever, and there wasn’t a way to go back. Either I would stay a human into the eternities, or I would turn into seafoam as soon as Rhys was married.

“You can stay as long as you need, of course. But my father is already impatient…he wants to know why you’re here. He thinks you’re a spy for Althair. A girl just happens to show up at the brink of war, claiming to be shipwrecked, just happening to be taken in by the royal family…he thinks it’s too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.” He looked at me and his eyes met mine. “You’re not a spy, are you?”

“No. I’m not a spy.” I might have lied about where I came from, but I was not a spy from Althair. It would have been a simple plan, though, had it been so.

“But if war did break out…you would be an Althairian in Sannave. My father doesn’t think that safe, especially because of your training in the spear.” His voice was unsure, and I could tell in his eyes that he wanted me to confirm.

“My heart lies in the ocean,” I whispered. “I have no desire to fight anyone.”

“I believe you.”

Alavar’s voice was more bitter than I’d expected. “Is it everything you’d imagined? Did you find what you were looking for, away from your family?”

“Not yet,” I said quietly, not wanting to confront her, not when I could still preserve our relationship. I didn’t want to lose her like I had Mother.

“I told you blood was stronger than anything else. You won’t find it. You”—her voice broke—“won’t find it and you’ll die.”

I reached out a hand, as if to hold hers, but she wouldn’t come any closer to shore. “I’m sorry, Alavar,” I said. “I really am.”

“If you were sorry, you wouldn’t have ever gone. You would have stayed with us, and this wouldn’t have happened.” She motioned to the stormy ocean, the clouds above that were threatening rain. “It’s chaos down there, Amrya. I don’t know what’s happening. I escaped here because this was the only place I could think of to go. I don’t know where anyone is or even if everyone is alive. The war began and there was singing, but so much of it. As if all the clans were singing, all of them are fighting now. I don’t know if it’ll ever die down, but I can’t find anyone.”

“Alavar…” I whispered, too shocked to say anything else. My breath was caught in my throat. It was hard to think, hard to think about what it was like down there in the darkness. “No.”

“You would’ve been able to fight them off. You would have saved us, at least kept us together. You could have made everything all right, but you weren’t there.” Her tone was as biting as the rain that had just started, splattering against me in tiny drops that stung against my skin. I was already wet, so I bent down and knelt in the water, where I could reach out and just touch the tips of Alavar’s fingers when she reached out her hand.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, and tears rolled down my cheeks just as the rain did. “I don’t know what to do.”

“There’s nothing you can do. You just stay there and try to get your prince to fall in love with you so that you can stay human forever. I…I don’t even know why I came.”

“Because you miss me?” It was more a question than a statement, one that I needed confirmation to.

I thought I saw tears in her eyes. “Because I miss you.”

Can you see why I love this novel so much? Okay, maybe you can’t. I mean, I didn’t even include any of the shippy parts with Aeren and Amrya and the fruit. (Which is great.) But even though I can’t say that all of it is that well-written (these are the best I could find), I love my characters and my plot so much, and maybe in this Spotlight you got to see a tiny piece of that.