Of all the teahouses…

…this is where we end.

Mason will be one book.  After a lot of deliberation, and several “Book crisis.  Tea date?” texts later, I’ve finally wrapped my head around this book enough to figure it out.  It will be one book only.  Mason will not be kidnapped in the end, like he is in the short story.  Rather, it will end with him taking on the mantle of leader and stepping forward into war.

And though edits continue, and I will update this as the other half of his world starts developing (ie: when I start sending out to agents), updates will be fewer and farther between as I begin work on another novel.  Yes, it’s only the first draft, and yes, I still have a long way to go, but for the first time in 11 years, I’m not worrying about Ronan, and I feel like I have a decade’s worth of novels waiting to be let out, so here I go, into the unknown.

wings

Last night, I entrusted my soul with someone new.

So I met Jack in the fourth grade.  We didn’t really start becoming friends until the sixth grade, and then, by seventh grade, we were thick as thieves.  I started writing Harry Potter fanfiction in the sixth grade, and by seventh grade, we were both writing it and Good Charlotte fanfiction.  Oh, I shudder just thinking of those days.  We were always reading each other’s stories, though.  We even co-wrote one for Good Charlotte.

At the end of eighth grade, I said to him that I wanted to write about dragons, and for the next 11 years, I did just that.  I created five different versions of the same story, over and over again.  He read and edited every single version.  There were others–Patrick and Maggie read the first version, maybe the second.  One of my creative writing teachers in high school read the first and told me I would one day change everything.  I disagreed, and then I rewrote it four times.  I’m so grateful to him for even looking at the horrible thing.

In college, my second roommate, Katie, also read a lot of my fanfiction, and one version of “the book”, as I always called it.  One of my friends, Jen, from high school, whom I met in my sophomore year, also read one of the versions.  Jack continued to read everything I wrote for Ronan.  He stopped reading my fanfiction, but our interests were vastly different by then, and he’d left that world behind long ago.  Then, I met Erin.  In my junior year, we started bonding over music, superheroes, boys and their butts, and every forever-friendship thing that we could think of.  She read almost every single fanfiction I churned out for Marvel (there’s one that both her and I cringe just at the thought of), as well as anything I wrote for Supernatural, and then laughed fondly at me when I kept writing Panic! at the Disco fanfiction.  I’ll never stop, I can’t, it’s awful.  She read one of the versions of Ronan, listened to me ramble on endlessly about him, and though it was a new person, Ronan was also transforming for the fourth time, and so I felt comfortable handing him out.

In 11 years, only two people have stuck through the mess.  Jack was there at the beginning, and is still there now, and Erin has seen me through two different rewrites and helped me realize it was finally time to let him go.

So, I let Ronan go.  This is all old news.  I’ve written about this before.  But it was crazy, stepping back from Ronan after 11 years and turning toward Mason, who I’d known for all of 8 months.

And then, last night, I sent a PDF version to Matt, and had another copy printed for Jenny.  I’ve had this very small circle for my entire writing career–Jack and Erin.  They’ve read my fanfiction, good and bad, they’ve read multiple versions of Ronan, and they’re both reading Mason.  But now, for the first time, I’m handing it off to someone new.  Someones new, really, because after Matt and Jenny are done, it goes to Kelly, Hannah, and Joyce.  I’m freaking out a little bit.  There are going to be brand new eyes peering into my soul and giving me feedback on it.  (Thankfully, this blog is still private, and my five new people don’t have to go oh god I have to be nice just hearing all this.)

Deep breaths.  It’s going to be okay.  It’s scary as heck, but this is good.  I have a very wide audience now, and this time, I’m going to do it right.  I’m going to get it right.  I’m not going to rewrite it five times and hate it every single time.  In fact, I’m going to have edits finished by April, and I’m going to have an agent by September.  I’m going to keep saying this until it happens.

Here we go.

quarter life crisis

Last night, I texted Jack and said, “I’m having a book crisis.  Meet me for tea?”

This book has gone through so many transformations, and it’s only been (maybe) a month since I started writing it.  When I embarked upon Mason’s story, I realized, about six chapters in, that I was writing the third book of five.  The first four would be about the different elements, so one book per character–Miriam, Leila, Mason, Lukas.  The fifth one would be all of them coming together to fight the big fight–humans versus faeries.  That deteriorated at the close of Mason’s novel.  It became a trilogy, something I’ve always been familiar with and liked the concept of.  Miriam’s story would be the first, Mason’s story would be the second, and Lukas’s story would be the third.  That changed pretty quickly, as well.  I was starting to realize that Mason was the story, so the first book was halved between Miriam and Mason, and the third one would be the story of getting him back, so halved between Mason in captivity and Lukas searching for him.

I started writing it last week, and it failed on chapter five.  I wasn’t telling the right story.  I wasn’t telling Mason’s story.  So, I texted Jack, we met for tea, and here we are.

Two books.

Book one: the Mason story I already wrote.

Book two: the sequel to that.

That’s it, and I’m really excited about where it’s all going.  I wanted to write about them in their youth because I wanted to experience that, but the story that’s important is the one I’ve already started writing, and beginning where I have with Mason feels like the most natural start.

So, here we go.  Today, I’m going to outline the second book and then hopefully start writing it.  Things are changing.  My goals are shifting a little.  I can see a final draft of these two novels being completed by probably February 2017, and while I’ll still keep the goal of acquiring an agent by September 2017, I’m going to start sending out like crazy in the new year.  I’m ready.

Are you ready?

last night, we danced with air

Happy Solstice!

A day late and a dollar short, but here I am.  Last night, I attended the level 2 prana flow class at BYS, and then stayed for the winter solstice after.  Jenny talked about the air element, and I kept thinking about the opening line of the fourth chapter for Miriam’s novel.

Yes.

Hello, Miriam.

It has begun.  The energy yesterday was wild and creative, so I did just that.  I wrote almost 5k words for her first few chapters, and then I just had the opening line for the next chapter on repeat all night.  I have officially started writing the first book of the series.  With the organizational changes, this means I got to play with Mason again yesterday, too.  It was just for a few brief lines, but he was there, and I’m so excited to be seeing this new side of him.

Last night, we also set intentions, and I had five that I wrote down, but two that stood out.  I will have a literary agent for Mason & Co. by September 2017.  I will finish the final drafts of all three books by April 2017.  Obviously, there will be other final drafts, but I want my initial ones to be done by then.  As soon as the first drafts are finished, however, I’ll start sending inquiries out.  This is happening.  This is the future I want, and I’m taking control of it.

Watch out, world.  My elements are coming for you.

witchcraft on the weekends

I went up to Maine this weekend, and this always happens.

Erin has some kind of creative witchcraft going on, that’s the only explanation.  My desire to write is fiercer than ever when I’m with her.  When we talk virtually, I’m always inspired to create something, but put me next to her, and it’s like this big flashing, neon sign that says IT’S HAPPENING NOW.  I went up there to get away, and I fully expected to write, write, write while we were together.  Instead, I created.

While writing Miriam’s outline, I kept trying not to put too much of Mason in it, and I’ve been concerned about writing Leila’s book because I don’t know what the heck will go in it, and I realized that Lukas’s book is entirely about Mason, and then–oh.  There’s a common denominator here.  So, I reorganized this weekend.  I stripped away the original idea (kept Mason’s book, don’t worry), and reshaped it.

Three books instead of four.  A connecting story instead of four individual ones.  All centered around Mason.  And no faery versus human war.

The idea now is to see Miriam, Mason, and Lukas at 18, Mason and Lukas at 22, and then all three again at 22/23.  Their becomings are like a catalyst for one another.  Throughout the first book, Miriam is slowly losing herself to the ocean.  Mason leaves in the middle of the book, and ultimately births Madhouse.  In the second book, after Miriam’s thrown herself in the ocean, Mason starts losing himself to fire.  After Mason’s been kidnapped, the third book shows Lukas going after him, and his own becoming coming to a screeching halt because their central point, Mason, is gone.  It was always the idea that without Mason, the world and the other elementals couldn’t flourish; now, I’m just taking away all the other layers and focusing on that.

Yes, Leila will still be in it, but she’s managed to create a little space in the world that keeps her segregated, and I’m okay with that.  She’ll be featured in all three, but she won’t be a main character, and I like that better.

So, we have a trilogy with Mason as a loose main character.  He comes and goes, but he’s the reason why I’m writing this.

As for the faery versus human war, I’m not writing it.  Everyone always writes the big huge thing that happens, but I’m more interested in the beginning, in the why and how of these people, so I’m writing their story instead of the larger story.

This feels good.

I’m ready to begin.

Hello, Miriam.

The High Priestess.

She keeps showing up.  When I first drew for Mason, she was his future card.  I like to draw cards for my novels before I begin them.  I did it with Ronan when trying to figure who he was, where to begin with him, and if I was ready.  I thought I was, and the cards tried to tell me otherwise, but I still persevered.

With Mason, I knew, without a single doubt, that I was ready for him.  I asked the cards, simply, where do I begin?  I wasn’t asking for myself, I realized later.  I was asking for Mason, and they spelled it out clearly.  Two of cups, ten of swords, the high priestess.  Of course.  Past: Lukas.  He was happy, carefree, and full of love.  Present: addicted to tea.  He’s at rock bottom.  He’s in the worst possible place of his life, and he needs to get up.  Future: acknowledge your shadows.  Oh man, oh man, oh man.  I can’t wait for you to see what Mason becomes.  He is amazing.

So, I was ready to begin, and I did.  18 days later, I ended.  For now, of course.  This is only the first draft, and there’s still a long way to go, but now, I was ready to meet Miriam.  So, I drew for her.  Two of pentacles, nine of wands, the high priestess.  Okay.  That’s–interesting.  I’ll digress into why this reading freaked me out a little after explaining the reading itself.  Past: change is coming.  Yes!  Miriam is ready to burst at the seams, waiting for her life to make sense.  Present: you are strong.  Her mother constantly forces her into this box of hate and anxiety, and it’s time for her to break free.  Future: acknowledge your shadows.  Oh.

Okay.

Hang on.

Rewind.  Usually, if there’s a reading in the story, it’s based on a reading I actually did.  For one of Mason’s, I decided what cards I was using the first time.  I picked the emperor and two other major arcana cards.  I wanted power.  I wanted strength.  The reading felt fake.  I hadn’t actually done it, so the cards I’d picked didn’t fit into the story.  So, I did a reading.  The first card I drew was the emperor.  The other two were wands, and the reading was so much better, but it was drawing the emperor after wanting it to be there that made me pause.  The next day, Jack and I went to Life Alive, and there it was.  The Emperor bowl.  I got it.  It was delicious.  And now here I am drawing the high priestess for both Mason and Miriam for their future cards.  It fits perfectly, but it’s a little scary.

The world has been showing me signs, over and over again for the past month.  I’ve been so terrified of moving on from Ronan that I almost didn’t know how, and yet, the universe knows.  The universe is confident in my decision to write this series.  And I am over the moon excited to be here.

it’s over

Holy magic.

It’s done.

It’s over.

I finished writing Mason’s novel.

Granted, this is only the first draft, but it’s done.  It’s 73k words, and it’s done.

Okay.  Deep breaths.  I’m going to stop panicking, read for a little bit, and then plunge in to start forming chapters.

I’ve been rambling all day

Turns out I’m bad at blogging even when it’s in secret.  No lie, I haven’t updated my yoga blog in months.  And I’m not that upset about it?  The last few months have been fairly difficult for me, and I think a lot of why I’m doing better now is because of my words.  Granted, a lot of the difficulty stems from things beyond my control, but I’m definitely handling it better now that I’ve been with Mason for a while.

For a while, I say, like it’s been OH MY GOD I STARTED THIS ON 11/26, ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

Okay, a quick moment of history.  I write fanfiction like it’s going out of style.  I wrote a 70k James Bond fic in three weeks, I wrote a 100k Avengers fic in about the same time, and I just roll these things out in the most insane fashion.  Oneshots, chaptered, series–it’s ridiculous.  I’ve been writing fanfiction since about 2004, and I haven’t slowed at all.  This doesn’t always just apply to fanfiction.  I wrote the second version of my second book in a month and a half.  And while I’m proud of a lot of my fanfiction, I haven’t been proud of my Ronan novels in a long time.

I’m talking years.

And that hurts to admit.

Every version has had merit.  Every version has seen me through something, and I’ve grown with each one.  The last one?  Not so much.  I wrote six chapters in total, and while the journey was fun for the first two weeks, it quickly became not.  At all.  I just–don’t know if I’m ever going to write Ronan.  And that’s okay, I’m realizing, because holy hot damn, my talents definitely lie in YA.  Is anyone surprised?  I’ve been writing fanfiction since I was 12, which has pretty much always been written in a YA style, and well–I started writing this novel on 11/26.  Today is 12/11.  In 15 days, I’ve written 52k spread out among 10 chapters.  Wow.

This is happening.

This is real.

Really, this occurred to me on Friday.  (Yes, that this was real.)  I was printing out chapters to bring for Sunday’s writing club, and Jack had told me to bring everything I had so far.  Well, that was eight chapters.  It was about 80 pages, and it looked like the first half of a book.  I’m writing a book, guys.  I don’t think anyone, myself included, realizes how extraordinary this is.  I’ve done nothing but rewrite the same story for 11 years, and I’ve felt stuck every single time.  It takes months to write a single version, sometimes weeks to work around a single chapter.  But this?  I wrote half a book in two weeks.  And I freaking love it.  You know who else loves it?  My editors.  I have a system, which I talked about the last time I posted.  Right now, Erin is editing scene by scene, Jack just got the first half of the book to edit by chapter, and then I’ll get it back from them.  They’re mostly doing line editing, but then I’ll be handing it off to Matt for content editing.  And I just asked my final reader, so I’ve officially got three readers lined up–Kelly, Hannah, and Joyce.  After I finish Matt’s edits, they’ll get a final first draft, and then comes the scary part.  Miriam.  I have to keep writing.

When I posted at the beginning of December, I ended the blog, “I hope it keeps happening.”  I was on chapter four.  I have chapter eleven open right now.  It’s still happening.  I have three other individual books to write, and then a fourth when all of them are together, but it’s happening.  It’s really and truly happening.

I’m so terrified.

I’ve never felt panicked like this about my writing before.  Sure, handing it off to Jack and Erin was scary, but Jack’s been reading my writing since I was 12, and Erin reads all of my fanfiction, so I could predict their reactions.  I have four strangers looking at my writing soon, and it’s so scary.  More than that, though, what scares me is the idea of leaving Mason behind.  Sure, I’ve only known him for about half a year, maybe longer (just checked, we met in April), and I’ve only truly been writing with him for two weeks, but I’ve grown so attached to him.  Ronan felt like another version of myself, a child I had to protect maybe, or even just someone I loved dearly.  Mason feels like an old friend.  He feels like someone I’ve been writing over and over again without realizing it was him.  And really, he is.  He’s a troubled gay boy.  Hello, that’s literally every fanfiction I write.  But this time, he’s different.  I’m different.  It’s all different.  Because it’s original, and it’s not Ronan (who is also a troubled gay boy).  I went from writing adult high fantasy to YA urban fantasy.  The fact that I was on Earth alone was a huge shift, but suddenly, the characters felt relatable.  They felt like people I’d known all along.

My mom keeps saying that I had to go through all of these issues with Ronan to get here with Mason, and you know what, maybe she’s right.  Maybe Mason needed to wait until right now.  And maybe he had to come first even if he’s not chronologically first.  And even though I’ve been stressing all day about how I don’t want to leave Madhouse and I don’t want to leave Mason, I’m not.  He’ll be in all of the other books, and while Madhouse won’t, I can always revisit in my dreams.

It’s okay.  It really is.  I have great readers, I have amazing editors, and I have four other books to write.  I’m not going anywhere, and neither is he.

black tea makes me wild

Oh boy, oh boy.

Hello.

Hi.

Wow.

So this is a private blog for now.  Someday, maybe, I’ll publish this as a kind of stream of consciousness into a writer’s insane mind.  For now, it’s where I can put my thoughts down concerning Mason & Co.  Everything is titled that right now.  The Pinterest board for this, the folder in my Documents, how I explain it to anyone, and really, it’s not fair, but it is.  There are four main characters, but he’s the big one.  He’s the one I keep dreaming about.

Okay.  There are, right now, five novels.  Novel one: Miriam, water element.  Novel two: Leila, earth element.  Novel three: Mason, fire element.  Novel four: Lukas, air element.  Novel five: Mason & Co.  I was driving down the highway home from work the other day when I realized that Mason was the third novel, not the first, and now I’m writing them out of order, and realistically, I’ll probably continue to because my mind is saying Mason, Miriam, Lukas, Leila.  I know that’s because I haven’t found a way to connect with Leila yet, but I will.

I guess I should start at the beginning?  Jack and I had this writing blog, Writers of the Mark, funny play on words there for any LOTR fans, and most of the time, I was lazy and would post old poems/short stories or just write really fast poems to stick up online.  However, very occasionally, I would actually write a short story over the week and post it on the day I was actually supposed to.  It started with Miriam.  I don’t know what the hell I thought I was doing with that story, or where it was going.  All I knew was that there was a young girl (then Marian) who was attracted to the sea, her mother was a faerie, her father was an incubus (the dream stealing kind), and, at the end of the story, she would kill her mother and surrender to the ocean.  I didn’t realize until the end that her mother was a faerie or that Miriam was a kelpie.  I thought that was the end of it.  Then, I wrote Leila’s story.  She was attracted to a copse of birch trees near her house.  Without warning, three names popped up–Marian, Lukas, and Mason.  She talked about knowing them as a young girl, growing up with them, and how she’d heard that Marian had thrown herself into the sea, Lukas had survived a terrible plane crash, and Mason was a drug addict (I didn’t know what drug it was yet).  She had this friend, Amar, that I figured out at the end.  He was part of a race of people called the Undying that helped people like her.  I still didn’t know about the faeries part, let alone the elementals part.  At the end of the story, Amar takes Leila to Zinoviya, a secret city built as a sanctuary for mythical creatures.  Oh!  Miriam was a kelpie, and Leila was a dryad.  By now, I knew something bigger was at play, so when I began Lukas’s story, I had some idea of where I was going.  I knew he was a halcyon from the get-go, I knew Nila was his Undying counterpart, and I was starting to piece together the overarching story here.  Humans versus mythical creatures.  In Lukas’s story, he has trouble breathing, is constantly overheating, and sees visions of Mason strung out.  Turns out air and fire go well together.  WAIT, WHAT.  I had finally figured out the elements part, but still not the faeries.  At the end of Lukas’s story, he sees a vision of Mason asking for help before Mason flips his palm over, and it reads 10/6.  Ten over six, mad as a hatter, I know where you are, Lukas says, or something of that ilk.  Nila doesn’t understand, Lukas says, You should read more! and something happened–Madhouse.  Mason’s story unfolded in three seconds flat.  He was addicted to tea, he owned a teashop called Madhouse, and he was a faery that controlled fire.

That’s where it ended.

I went on my merry way, Jack told me he wanted a novel (as always), I turned back to fanfiction, and life continued on.  Eventually, around September, I started writing the infamous Ronan novels again.  He’s been with me for 11 years, since I was 13, and I’ve never written a novel that didn’t include him, or Irizedd.  Last week, I wrote the first chapter for Mason.  It just happened.

Okay, realistically, I wrote 604 words, freaked out and sent it to Erin to read, reached out to Matt to ask him if he’d read a different novel to edit, told Jack I was having a mental breakdown, and kept writing.  Right now, I’m on chapter four, I know it’s a YA urban fantasy, I have 14 chapters planned, and I just asked someone brand new if they would read it.  So, Jack and Erin are reading it right now, editing while I write, Matt is going to content edit the entire thing, and then I’m handing it off to a few select readers, so here’s your warning that I’ll be asking eventually.

So here I am.  I bought a new tarot deck because Maggie’s was Ronan’s.  That wasn’t really why, I love the Wild Unknown deck and have wanted it for a while, but I also knew that any reading I had to do for Mason had to be done with the Wild Unknown deck.  The first reading I did, I drew for past, present, future, and asked, “Where do I begin?”  I was presented with the two of cups, the ten of swords, and the high priestess.  I mean.  Really?

For non-tarot readers: the two of cups, as the past card, tells me about a budding relationship Mason had, one that was beautiful and romantic and everything he needed at that time.  Translation: Lukas.  They’re on again/off again in Mason’s novel, and eventually might become on permanently, but we’ll see.  The high priestess, as the future card, talks about intuition and a higher form of knowledge.  It literally says in the book, embrace the shadows.  So Mason is finally in control of his power and ready to take on the world.  The ten of swords, as the present card, well fuck.  It tells me that Mason is at his lowest point, but the only way out is up.  Okay.  I’m ready to begin.

Since that reading, I’ve bought three books–The Ancient Art of Faery Magick by D.J. Conway, A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk by Edain McCoy, and A Field Guide to Fantastical Beasts by Olento Salaperainen.  I’ve been researching other modern faery tales, looking for more on faery lore, and desperately looking for anything to do with the Wild Hunt (more on that later).  I’ve created a Mason playlist, and even stuck one or two songs in a Lukas and Miriam playlist the other night.  I’m drinking tea right now, and this is probably a form of procrastination because I have chapter four open, and I’ve just been avoiding it all night.  I can’t believe this is happening.  I hope it keeps happening.

Thank you, universe.