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Summer 2022 goal review

I try to review my goals several times a year. I know I just posted them not too long ago, but I’m trying to get back into the habit of blogging semi-regularly so here we are.

  1. Publish consistently. Nope. My goal is a couple times a month, and my total for the year is 8 publications, all of which were 100-word microfictions on Medium.
  2. Keep traveling. This I HAVE excelled at. I’ve been able to take a trip a month, with trip defined as at least overnight and at least several hundred miles away (ie, day trips to Chicago or Madison don’t count). The beginning of January we went to the Everglades and Florida Keys. In February I went down to Arkansas to hike around the forests near Little Rock and Hot Springs, and eat alligator and gumbo. In March, the kid and I took the train to Santa Fe and hiked around the desert and mountains (and as I discussed with the hiker I picked up in Wyoming, it’s a good thing we went when we did because the whole area was later on fire). The kid and I spent Easter weekend eating our way through Detroit. When classes were done in May, I headed out to Wyoming to hike around the Grand Tetons and Laramie, which is my happy place. For June, the kid and I went to DC for the Poor People Campaign’s Moral March. And I have some truly epic trips planned out for the next few months too. Knowing I’m getting away each month has been wonderful for my mental health.

    Map of the US with red dots marking destinations visited in 2022

    Google gives you a dot for every place you visit. This is my 2022, so far.

  3. Be more mindful regarding sustainability and my health. Several years ago, a house on my block burned down. The lot finally went up for sale last fall, and the price had dropped enough that I bought it this spring, as a place to grow everything I don’t have room for in my backyard. As of right now, I’ve planted 3 pear trees, 3 apple (want 2 more), 2 pawpaws (not sure what these even are??), 2 cherry, 1 plum, 1 juneberry, 1 jostaberry bush, and 2 pink current bushes. There was already a mulberry tree (which was used to make yummy apple mulberry strudel). In addition to the apple trees, I still want a walnut tree and several hazelnuts. Plus maybe some grapes, and then a big garden plot and all the spaces in between the trees. Also, the kid got chickens this spring as a 4-H project. His three are Magnus, Vulcan, and Alpharius (from Warhammer 40k), and my three are Carmen, Mercédès, and Frasquita. My three are sassypants assholes, much like their namesakes. They should start laying eggs in another month or so.

    On the other hand, I’ve been working 50-55 hours a week for the past few months, and my summer class is 3-4 hours/day 3 days/week, so I barely have time to sleep or eat, which probably ain’t so great for my health. Fingers crossed we’ll be fully staffed soon so I won’t be working as much. And my fall schedule is a lot lighter, with just one class a couple days a week, which maybe will give me some breathing room until I find something else that’ll take that back away.

    chickens next to several shrubs

    Damn chickens have since eaten every single leaf off that honeyberry bush on the right.

  4. Keep plugging away on my Heartsbane series, both writing and marketing. Another nope. I’ve started a few more ads, but I don’t exactly have much writing time right now.
  5. Start a series on Kindle Vella. Nope again, although I’ve started on a few short stories based on “The Diarassia Not Taken.” I think they’re going to be a horror/speculative fiction mix.
  6. Read 100 books. I’m not even going to say the embarrassingly small number of books I’ve read so far this year. Suffice to say, it’s bad.

Overall, I’m not doing so well on goals. Like always. I’ve been spending almost every daylight moment (when I’m not sleeping, since I work nights) outside, either working in my yard or my lot or doing outdoorsy stuff like kayaking. And traveling. Oh well. I’ll get there eventually.

Random Carmen thoughts, of which I have many: Elīna Garanča is the best Carmen, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the best conductor, and this is the best scene in the whole opera. Roberto Alagna (who was almost 50 in this production) is wayyyyy too old to play Don José. Keith Miller should be in everything, and they should’ve left in the part where Dancaïre and Remendado set him on fire, as he shows up later with scars but without any explanation as to how he got them. Carmen: The Hiphopera is actually a really accurate, pretty decent adaptation. And Lillas Pastia is an awesome cat name.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them? Also, thoughts on Carmen?

Annual goals: 2021 review and 2022 goals

Wow, I am really late with this.

Every year, I set goals for myself. And every year, I look back at how I didn’t meet those goals.

This year is no exception.

About a year and a half ago, I started a new job, as an overnight admissions social worker at a local psych hospital. I really enjoy it; not only is it a second shift job in my field, I like my coworkers, the pay is awesome, and it’s only 3 12-hour shifts a week with no weekends (although we’re short-staffed so I usually work 4 shifts). Theoretically I have an extra 1-2 days a week to myself, although that usually doesn’t happen because I’m sleeping or spending the weekend days with my kid.

So with all that in mind, let’s look at my 2021 goals and how I did with them.

2021 goals

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. This really fell off. I don’t think I actually got any more of them published this year. And while I did work on edits and rewrites for the first half of the year, that fell off too when I consistently started working 50+ hours a week in midsummer. And, quite honestly, the response to the series has been super underwhelming, so I’m not as gung-ho to get published quickly like I was this time a year ago.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I did decently with this for the first half of the year, until again, I got caught up with work over the summer.
  3. Marketing. I’ve consistently been running Amazon ads, and they’ve been good for some movement. I didn’t get around to a blog tour because I was waiting until I had a couple more books out. I have several in mind though, so maybe I’ll get to it later this year.
  4. Painting of Renaissance peasant woman holding a dog and shrugging as if to say WTF

    Possibly my favorite painting at the Met.

    Travel travel travel. This is one goal that I did overwhelmingly meet! In February I went to Dodge City, Kansas, because I liked watching Gunsmoke with my dad and because I wanted to spend more time in Wichita, where I found an awesome German restaurant, Prost. In March my kid and I spent a weekend in Chicago; usually we just go for a day, but this time we stayed overnight downtown and had some awesome arepas (which are his favorite thing this year). In April we went to Detroit, mostly to eat at Al Saha, my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant there, as well as Cadieux Cafe, a yummy Belgian restaurant, but we also went to a Korean barbecue place that was awesome. Memorial Day weekend we went to the Black Hills of South Dakota and hiked around the Badlands and Custer state park. In June, I vanlifed in Bemidji, Minnesota (home of delicious pasties), but it was too hot so I wandered over to Devils Lake, North Dakota. In July we went back to Wichita to hit up Prost, then over to Oklahoma City to get some goat sausage at the farmer’s market (yes, it really is worth the trip). In early August I vanlifed at Spirit Lake, Iowa, and also hit up the National Hobo Museum where I found my tribe. Then my mom, kid, and I spent a week in Hawaii, kayaking and hiking and of course eating our way across Oahu. I’d planned to vanlife up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in October but canceled due to bad whether. My kid and I went back to New York City for his birthday in November – in addition to good food, we caught Stomp again (five years to the day from when we saw it previously). Then in December we went down to New Orleans for a long weekend of shrimp po’ boys, jambalaya, and gumbo, before hitting up a couple barbecue places in Memphis, Tennessee, on our way back. And then right after Christmas, my dad, son, and I spent a week down in the Everglades and Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, kayaking and hiking and eating great Latino food like pupusas and baleadas and ropa vieja. It was wonderful, all of it.

  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. This year I tried to tackle my yarn stash. The problem is that with each box I tried to organize, I’d get sidetracked into making something with the yarn, and then I’d need to buy more yarn to finish the project. And while I’m buying more yarn, oh hey look there’s some clearance yarn. Just think what I can make with that! So, while the rest of the house isn’t too bad, my office/craft room is horrible.
  6. Read 100 books. Made it to 53.

So, maybe not the best year for goals. But what about 2022?

2022 goals

  1. Publish consistently. As of right now, I’d like this to be at least a couple times a month. I’ve already gotten back into the habit of posting on Medium every couple weeks, and I’ve noticed that I can get a lot more consistent readership when I’m on a more consistent schedule, as opposed to every few months. I also want to try to expand where I publish, rather than just Medium most of the time.
  2. Keep traveling. My theme this year is filling in the gaps – getting to all the places I haven’t been to yet. I’m hoping to go somewhere at least every months, if not more frequently. I have a ton of PTO and there’s no reason I shouldn’t use it, especially when vanlifing is my self-care.
  3. Be more mindful regarding sustainability and my health. I’ve noticed over the last year or so I’ve been eating out a lot more. It’s super easy to wake up and just grab dinner on my way to work, but it’s not healthy or cheap. And I’ve noticed that when I do cook, a lot of it doesn’t get eaten. To that end, I want to decrease my food waste, either by cooking less or freezing or dehydrating the leftovers. This goes for veggies too. And I want to grow a lot more of my food, as well as make healthier choices as to what I do buy. And more environmentally sustainable choices, such as less plastic and less meat. I’m also going to throw that Marie Kondo’ing goal into here, as I try to cut down on how much stuff and clutter I have.
  4. Keep plugging away on my Heartsbane series, both writing and marketing. It’s been a while since I published anything with this. I’ve been picking at edits for #1.5 “The Brave Little Thrall,” and #2.5 “Ezichi the Beautiful” is about half done. #3 Little Amethyst Abaya is done, but I need to incorporate changes based on what happens with #2.5. I have some Amazon ads running, and I want to promote it more as I release more books.
  5. Start a series on Kindle Vella. Amazon has this new platform for serialized stuff, and I have a few friends who are finding success with it so I’d like to try it out. I have a series of short stories I’ve been playing with, The Suburban Hedgewitch, about a woman who grants little innocuous wishes and curses to her suburban neighbors, that would work for Vella. I also wrote a little microfiction piece last year, “The Diarassia Not Taken,” and I think it would be a fun world to continue in. Then there’s a third work I’ve been scribbling on this year, about the MC’s past lives, that I think would lend itself well to serialization.
  6. Read 100 books. My perennial goal.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How do you plan to accomplish them?

 

Media Monday: What if cryptids were real?

The books: Lorestalker series (1-5) by J.P. Barnett

The music: “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult

A few years back, as I was wandering the country, I found myself at a cryptozoology museum in New England (I won’t mention the name because when I criticized it on Twitter, the owner got a little pissy about it). Suffice it to say, the exhibits were built on some questionable “science.” And I wondered, how can anyone believe this stuff?

Well, the Lorestalker series takes this and runs with it. It follows Miriam Brooks, daughter or renowned cryptozoologist Skylar Brooks, as she and her friends investigate weird phenomena around the country, from a Bigfoot-like creature, to a giant kracken and skinwalkers.

Book 1, The Beast of Rose Valley, takes place in small-town Texas. Some creature is killing livestock and animals at a wildlife sanctuary, and the powers that be are trying to cover it up. What hooked me into this book, and the series as a whole, as that I figured out who was responsible about 1/3 of the way in – and then the author said, “Yep, here’s what you figured out but also here’s this twist.” It’s a great twist, something that’s built on in the rest of the series so I won’t spoil it, but something that makes you want to try to figure out each book as you’re reading it. Throw in likeable, believable characters, and this is a series you won’t want to put down.

Book 2, The Kraken of Cape Madre, switches the main character from a Texas guy to Miriam. This threw me at first, since she was basically just a side character in the first book with no POV, but it works for the series, and she becomes the main protagonist for most of the series. Miriam, her cousin, and her best friend are on vacation on the Texas Gulf coast, and a giant octopus appears. Again, the author takes everything you think you’ve figured out about the story, tells you you’re right, and then takes it further with a similar twist to what he did in the first book. The plot is good, but it’s the characters that have me giving this book 5 stars. Miriam is very real, from her on-the-spectrum-ish behavior instilled in her by her obsessive, narcissistic father, to her guilt-ridden PTSD earned in the last book. Even without the enjoyable sci-fi/fantasy/thriller/horror elements, I’d keep reading just to tag along on her adventures and watch her growth.

Book 3, The Witch of Gray’s Point, shifts gears a bit. Miriam is taking a study break at her father’s ranch in the Texas desert – only he’s there too, with his new team of assistants. Miriam and her dad have a complicated relationship, to put it mildly, but she’s convinced to stay at least the night. And that’s when the skinwalkers show up – Native American demon people. Based on their descriptions and their abilities, I thought there was no way this book could have the same twist as the others – but then bam, there it was, showing just how creative and ingenious the author is. Some great character development in this too, for characters I wasn’t expecting it from, and I was even more invested in the series to see how everyone continues to grow.

By book 4, The Haunt at Hogg Run, I was devouring this series. As in, as soon as I finished book 3 I immediately bought and read book 4. Unfortunately, book 4 was a shift away from the themes of the rest of the series. I’m not saying it wasn’t good – it definitely was – but it was almost straight-up slasher horror, compared to sci-fi/thriller/horror of the rest of the series. This book focuses mostly on Macy Donner, Miriam’s best friend. We know her pretty well at this point, but it was jarring for her to carry the book on her own, without her friends along. And the cryptid in this book, unlike the rest of them, is revealed pretty early, so there’s none of the related suspense that the rest of the series has had. Again, this is a good book, but it broke my stride in the series a bit.

Book 5, The Devil of Misty Lake, was a return to the rest of the series. Miriam and Macy have their first real cryptid investigation, this time in the forest of the Pacific Northwest (I would’ve loved to see a reference to the Pacific Northwest tree octopus). The author also returns to the same twist/reveal he’s used in the prior books, and it works as well here as it did in the rest of them. I also liked the introduction of the new characters – a monster-focused bounty hunter and a local guide – who I hope to see teaming up with Miriam and Macy in future books. Miriam again shows some great character growth in this book, especially at the end, that I expect to affect her in future books as well. Macy has growth too, the realistic kind that comes from her experience in book 4, that demonstrate the author’s deep understanding of human nature.

Overall, I highly recommend this series. It’s a mix of sci-fi, horror, and thriller, but the characters are so skillfully written that the plot almost takes a backseat and becomes a way for them to interact and grow. Even if you’re not generally into this kind of series, I recommend at least checking out the first book.

The song accompanying this week’s books is awesome in its own right, but there’s one lyric that specially applies: “History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.” And that’s the theme of these stories – whenever people start messing with nature, bad things happen. Again, and again, and again….

Fall 2021 goal review

Clyde happens

Clyde from Heartsbane does not care about my goals.

It’s that time of year – my quarterly check-in to see how I’m doing with the goals I set for myself in January.

We were short-staffed at work this summer, so I volunteered to pick up an extra shift each week. My schedule was 7pm-7am Monday-Thursday nights (50+ hours), and with sleeping and spending time with my kid, I didn’t really get a whole lot accomplished this summer. Just this month I’ve gone down to that extra shift just every other week, so maybe I’ll find some time for these goals. Haha.

That said, let’s take a look at my goals.

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. I haven’t made any progress on getting more stuff published, but I have increased the number of ads I’m running, and that’s helped with sales a bit.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I’ve only published 3 microfictions on Medium since my last update. A couple places I’d been publishing to regularly have Friday evening deadlines for prompts posted Monday morning, and with my schedule I don’t have time to write during the week.
  3. Marketing. As I mentioned for goal #1, I’ve been increasing my Amazon ads, and that’s helped with sales.
  4. Travel travel travel. This is one area I will NOT compromise on, because travel is my self-care. I spent a weekend at Spirit Lake and Lake Okaboji in northwest Iowa in early August, knocking the National Hobo Museum off my bucket list. Then a few days later my mom, son, and I went to Hawaii for a week, where we hiked and kayaked just about every day which was awesome. In September I went to St. Louis for the Pointfest concerts and to catch up with an old friend (I haven’t been to Pointfest for 20 years and we talked about our 401ks – I feel soooo old). I have several more trips planned – camping in northern Michigan next weekend, NYC in November for my kid’s 15th birthday (again, feeling old!), and the Florida Keys at Christmas. Maybe another weekend getaway in November or December too, depending on schedules.
  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. I just went through my bedroom closet and got rid of a ton of clothes I haven’t worn in a few years and probably never will, plus one of my bookshelves with stuff for a local little free library. My basement is next on my list, as is my shed.
  6. Read 100 books. I’m at 45 books, which puts me at 33 behind schedule. I’m doing several review swaps, plus several of my friends have either just released books or will be soon, so I’ll be making an effort to read those. I’ve also had a hard time getting into some of the books I’ve started, and if I don’t finish sometimes I don’t count it at all. I don’t think I’ll make it to 100 though; maybe 75 by the end of the year?

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them? And what books would you recommend I read, so I can maybe hit that goal?

Summer 2021 goal review

Once again, it’s time for my quarterly check-in to see how I’m doing with the goals I set for myself in January.

I’m still adjusting to my new-ish job. Someone quit when they moved, so I’m picking up an extra shift every week for the next I-don’t-even-know how long. Which means 50 hours, over 4 days. Sometimes it’s slow and I have some free time to write or crochet or read or whatever, but for the most part life right now consists of work, sleep, and loading and unloading my dishwasher. As you can see, my annual goals don’t really fit into that very well.

Anyways.

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. I’m still picking away on edits on books 1.5, 2.5 (which has to come out before book 3), 3 (which has to be edited to match book 2.5), and now book 3.5.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I’m at 29 stories published on Medium so far in 2021, which is just over one a week. I serialized the first Heartsbane Saga story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” into 7 parts, but even excluding that I’m not doing bad for this. Aim for the stars, still on top of the world, and all that Pitbull jazz. I’m also looking into a series for Amazon’s new Vella thing, which would bump this number up too.
  3. Marketing. I have several things on my radar, as soon as I get another Heartsbane book or two out. September, maybe?
  4. Travel travel travel. Now here is somewhere I’m exceeding my goal. Since my last update, at the end of May I went to Rapids City, SD, and eastern Wyoming to hike around the Badlands and Black Hills (and tried Runza in Nebraska for the first time, after driving past them for years. Verdict: okay). Then the next weekend, I headed up to Bemidji, MN, to vanlife around the Frigid Northlands (and eat pasties), but it was almost 100F so I headed over to cooler North Dakota instead. Last weekend, I picked my kid up from his aunt’s in Kansas City, MO, so I’d have an excuse to go back to that German restaurant in Wichita I ate at in February, and then head to Oklahoma City to get some more goat sausage for ravioli. I’m hoping to squeeze in another weekend trip in early August, and then in the middle of that month I’m heading to Hawaii for a week, where I plan to make myself sick eating fresh pineapples and lychee smoothies daily.
  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. My current project is my office, and specifically the yarn that covers every surface. My problem here is that every time I sort through a box of it, I get sidetracked by starting a new project with every skein. I have a couple craft shows planned for this year, so at least the projects aren’t wasted (assuming I finish them).
  6. Read 100 books. I haven’t made much progress with this since the last check-in; I’m currently at 28 books (26 behind schedule). I’m looking forward to spending some time reading on the beach next month, to try to catch up.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

Weekend Writing Warrior 7/18/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane logoWelcome back for the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP. I skipped last week, as I was out of town. My son spent a week with his aunt in Kansas City, so I drove down to pick him up and then we spent the weekend in Oklahoma City. It’s a nice city, with lots of great food – which is really one of the main things I look for when traveling, not gonna lie.

No food in this week’s excerpt, however. I’m continuing on with book 3.5 of my Heartsbane Saga series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. This one is “The Horrible Husfreyja,” a retelling of The Ugly Duckling. Protagonist Uli wants to be a warrior, not a housewife. She’s out in the woods near her home when she runs into some local boys. This snippet picks up right where the last one left off.

* * * * * * *

Uli continued to grin at him, although her heart pounded. Was this how berserkers felt before battle, this mix of fear and euphoria? Not that she would ever know what battle was like; her fate was to remain at home, always expected to be deferential to men like her stepfather and Torleif. A wave of despair rushed over her, and she channeled it into reckless abandon. Here and now, for just this brief moment, she was in control.

“Afraid of being beat by a woman, are you?” she taunted. “And especially in front of your friends? Afraid they’ll run home and tell your father, and he’ll never let you go on raids with him?”

“I’m warning you….”

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

“I’m more likely to go raiding than you ever are! Maybe I should teach you how to bake ebelskivers, for the warriors to eat when they return home without you?”

Torleif let out a yell and charged at her. Although she only had a dagger against his short sword, and he had a longer reach, she was a more skilled fighter, more nimble, and she was able to jump away from his blade while parrying his attacks. He swung angrily, with seemingly no thought to his next blows, and Uli was able to land multiple stabs as she silenced her mind, to just feel and react in the moment.

* * * * * * *

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

Book 3: Little Amethyst Abaya: When Nyah discovers a traitor among her friends and no one believes her, she’ll have to take matters into her own hands to save them all.

Media Monday: A delicious romantic comedy

Cover of ebook Food Fight by Thea LambertThe book: Food Fight!: An Enemies to Lovers, Reality TV Romance by Thea Lambert

The media: “Why Are Cooking Shows?” by We’re in Hell

First off, a disclaimer: While I’ll read just about anything, there are a few genres I generally avoid: Omegaverse MMPreg. Cozy mysteries. Amish romances. And chick lit.

This week’s book is strongly in the chick lit category.

That said, I really enjoyed this book. It follows two contestants on a food truck reality show competition, who just happen to have a history together. The author does a great job of weaving together their past and their present, in a way that hints at what happened but drops in the flashbacks as the present story needs them, rather than all at once – or starting then and skipping to now.

The book also makes you hungry, as the author describes lots of mouth-watering dishes that the contestants make. Maybe she could do a spin-off cookbook too?

The only issue I had with this story was the ending, and I don’t want to give away spoilers (although it’s a romance so I’m guessing you can figure out the ending just by reading the blurb) – but if someone was a jerk to me, I’d hold that grudge forever. Case in point: I recently got called up for jury duty, and I was fully prepared to tell the courts that I would side with the defendant every freaking time if the officer involved was this guy who thought it was funny to call me Daria in 11th grade PE. It wasn’t funny. There were 500 kids at my high school, and maybe 30-40 in my PE class. He knew my name. He’s an asshole and 20 years later I still dislike him. (I got put on a grand jury, and none of the cases we heard were touched by Detective Dickhead. He lucked out this time.)

Back to food.

The media that accompanies this is a fun look at the history of TV cooking shows, starting with Julia Child and continuing through the macho boom (Anthony Bordain, Gordan Ramsey) through to reality shows we have gazillions of now. This video also speaks of the kinda exploitative nature of the shows, which Thea Lambert touches on in her book too.

Are you a fan of chick lit? Cooking shows? Cooking? Books about cooking? Share your thoughts below, and make sure to get a copy of Food Fight!

Weekend Writing Warrior 7/4/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane logoHow is it already July?? Summer seems like it just started, and it’s really almost half over!

Anyways.

Welcome back for the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP. I’m continuing to share from book 3.5 of my Heartsbane Saga series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings, which is a retelling of The Ugly Duckling. I’m tentatively calling it “The Horrible Husfreyja.”

Uli, our protagonist who would much rather be a warrior than a housewife, was out in the woods when she ran into some local boys who always pick on her. This picks up from where I left off last week.

* * * * * * *

“Pretending to be a man again, Uli?” Torleif sneered at her, but didn’t come any closer. She knew he used a sword, badly, and hadn’t been the one to shoot an arrow at her. Probably one of his friends, trying to scare her. “What’s the opposite of argr?”

“Certainly not you,” Uli retorted.

Torleif glared at the one boy who dared to laugh. To call someone argr — meaning unmanly, or a man who lived as a woman— was one of the worst insults a Karjalander could call someone. Had they both been men, he would have had every right under the law to challenge her to a duel on the spot.

“You’re lucky you’re a woman, although a poor one at that, or I would kill you here and now for those words.”

* * * * * * *

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

Book 3: Little Amethyst Abaya: When Nyah discovers a traitor among her friends and no one believes her, she’ll have to take matters into her own hands to save them all.

Weekend Writing Warrior 6/27/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane logoWelcome back for the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP. I’m continuing to share from book 3.5 of my Heartsbane Saga series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings, which is a retelling of The Ugly Duckling.

There’s just something about kickass heroines that pulls me into a story, and the protagonist of this WIP, a young Viking maiden named Uli, is about as kickass as you can get.

I’m continuing on from last week. Uli’s stepfather told her to make herself scarce the next few days as a nearby noble visits, so she’s headed out to play in the woods. Last week left off with someone shooting an arrow at her.

* * * * * * *

Without hesitation, she fitted the rock into the leather sling and shot it off towards where she judged her attacker to be, followed in quick succession by several other stones from the pouch at her waist. Although she listened carefully, no grunts or cries of pain indicated she’d hit her target, and she swore under her breath.

Unsheathing the dagger she kept tucked into her boot, she stood tall and faced her attacker. “Are you a warrior or an old woman?” she bellowed. “Show yourself and fight me honorably like a man!”

She swore again as four boys melted out from the forest. They all lived either in the village or on nearby farms, and they all took pleasure in tormenting her, especially Torleif. Two years older than her own fifteen, he should have been out on his first raid already but his father had refused to let him go, stating he wasn’t ready. Uli couldn’t fault his father; she wouldn’t want to have to rely on him either in battle or at sea. It was well known that Torleif was lazy, always trying to shirk his duties and then blame it on those around him when called out for it.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

Uli knew she could easily best him in a fair fight, but Torleif didn’t fight fair, especially when he had his friends around as witnesses. She also knew there was no way she would come out of this fight unscathed. She grinned at them, a trick her father had told her Karjalander warriors often used to unnerve their foes. These boys wouldn’t get away unscathed either.

* * * * * * *

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

Book 3: Little Amethyst Abaya: When Nyah discovers a traitor among her friends and no one believes her, she’ll have to take matters into her own hands to save them all.

Weekend Writing Warrior 6/20/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane logoWelcome back for the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP. I’m continuing to share from book 3.5 of my Heartsbane Saga series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings.

This story is a retelling of The Ugly Duckling, and it centers on Uli, the childhood nurse of Prince Brandulfur who accompanies him on all his adventures, even when he’s grown up. This week’s snippet continues on directly from last week’s. Uli’s stepfather told her to make herself scarce the next few days as a nearby noble visits, so she’s headed out to play in the woods.

* * * * * * *

Uli’s grin widened the farther she rode from the farm. Early summer was her favorite time of the year; the weather was still cool but not chilly, and the daylight stretched seemingly forever. Her father had told tales of farther north, near the edge of the world, where there was no night during the summer, and she longed to discover whether that was true. His tales also told of giants in the north, and sea serpents, and the Drottnar, a race of demigods who were as powerful as the Fates themselves, with knowledge of everything that had ever happened and everything that would come to pass.

Her grin dampened. Her father had been killed in a raid across the sea when she was just a little girl, and even nearly a dozen years later, she still missed him dearly. If he were still alive, she knew he wouldn’t push her to be merely a housewife. She sighed. He wasn’t here, and unless the Drottnar intervened, her fate was already decided.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

But that was in the future, and today was a beautiful day all her own to enjoy. She slipped off her horse, removed her boots, and padded barefoot alongside him. The moss and dirt were cool beneath her toes. She bent down to pick up a rounded pebble for her sling, and then whirled around as an arrow whizzed past her head.

* * * * * * *

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

Book 3: Little Amethyst Abaya: When Nyah discovers a traitor among her friends and no one believes her, she’ll have to take matters into her own hands to save them all.

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