Beautiful People — Dead Shot and Laser // sneak peek at Mingled + UPDATES WHAT HO

I am a worm of low degree. OF LOW DEGREE.

In other words, I can’t believe how shamefully I have neglected you all lately! I feel like I need to reacquaint myself with Curious Wren, dust off the cobwebs, fling open the windows and let the fresh air in…

In my defense, the Older Sister and I are road-tripping right now which, by the by, has been a magical and rewarding experience. Made new friends (I fully intend to visit Germany someday now), bought lots of books, wandered idyllic side-streets, cried over the beauty of sprawling, green landscapes… the list goes on. Yay for road-trips. I can feel my soul stretching and deepening every time I go on one.

Anywho.

I feel like I need to reacquaint myself with all you dear, wonderful people too so please, pretty please, tell me how life has been! What are you reading/writing/learning? How has your May been thus far and what are the happenings? I wish to know all, lovelies. And have a chocolate chip cupcake whilst you’re at it. ^_^

And now, Beautiful People. Also hosted by Sky.

I was toying around with the idea of several different stories this time–the questions are just. that. good–and I finally decided to use two characters from my science fiction, steampunk series Mingled. This is the first time I’ve mentioned it on the blog, but it’s basically like the Avengers meets Star Wars and it’s quite deliciously steampunkish and futuristic. The idea is that a special team called Mingled is formed by the leading governments of three planets (including Earth) and they end up like this adorable gang of feels and angst and much mission accomplishing.

The charries are as follows:

— Captain Lukas Keyes. Ship captain and leader of Mingled. 28. Male.

— Lechra Keyes. Historian/Translator. Lukas’ younger sister. 24. Female.

— Archangel “Angel.” Gunslinger-esque agent. 32. The Keyes siblings best buddy for his whole life. Male.

— “Dead Shot.” Infamous assassin. Crack shot, hence his “title” given to him by a past client. Uncertain age. Male.

— Sii Sari. Top bounty hunter. 26. Female.

— Laser. Tech geek. Near genius. 20. Male.

(I’ll be highlighting Dead Shot and Laser since they are polar opposites.)

Dead Shot

1. How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?

Once upon a time Dead Shot hardly ever smiled, and when he did it was more of an ironical smirk, but now that he’s part of the “gang”–what with ridiculous antics, constant humor, and slowly-growing friendships– he has ample cause for unexpected smiles. Which, of course, remain unseen because he never takes his face mask off. 

He does not smile at strangers.

2. What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

One word: “No.”

He became an assassin.

3. What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

For Dead Shot actions speak louder than words every time. Lechra once brought him a mug of tea when he was in a rough spot emotionally and mentally (which she didn’t know at the time). He was so touched he couldn’t even bring himself to drink it. Lechra found the mug later, still full to the brim with ice-cold tea. She thought he disliked it. 

4. What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

This ties in with #2, but essentially that memory is the whole reason he chose to become an assassin–and not only an assassin, but the best one to be had. 

5. What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

How to Win Friends and Influence People? Or any book teaching people skills that doesn’t involve broken necks, a switchblade or poison.

Actually, probably the Bible would he best. *coughcough*

6. Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?

Hah. Hah.

Dead Shot’s been pulled from death’s door enough times to make him a walking miracle. Eventually he became skilled enough and subtle enough that not many people have the training to actually be a threat to him.

If he’s hurt he tends to himself stoically or seeks aid if the injury is too severe for even him to handle.

7. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

He and Lukas have built a cautious balance of trust and respect in their respective roles as assassin-who-answers-to-someone-besides-himself-now/ship captain turned leader of a motley crew. 

Dead Shot holds a high opinion of Lechra. Sii Sari annoys him to no end. 

His and Angel’s friendship is of the love/hate variety and Laser is like the kid on the block that you tolerate and end up getting out of scrapes left and right. 

I love these guys so much.

8. On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?

Depends on who he’s around. As a general rule, he’s about a 5. Only because he has a tendency to blend in with the background and people forget he’s around. Until he abruptly joins in the conversation, that is. 

He regularly gives poor Lechra and Laser near heart attacks. 

9. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

Well, seeing as he can already travel most anywhere in the world, and has actually traveled further throughout the galaxy than most people….

10. Who was the last person they held hands with?

Probably his mother? Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far–oh, wait.


Laser

1.How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?

Laser has an exhaustive repertoire ranging from a deceptively innocent smile to genuine mirth to full-out glee. He uses said repertoire frequently. 

If a stranger smiled at him he’d probably either grin back or pretend to be blind depending on his mood. 

2. What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

Most of his peers had nothing but negativity to say about his level of brilliance, but the worst was when his girlfriend broke up with him and told him that the only thing keeping him from being utterly worthless was his brains. 

Needless to say, since then Laser’s avoided relationships, and most girls around his age. 

3. What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

The kindest thing hasn’t been said to him yet.

4. What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

His grandpa taking him on an illegal space jump. Laser was grounded for six months when they got back, but the dazzlingly splendor of the universe was burned into his mind and the resulting hunger to travel throughout the galaxy directly influenced his decision to join Mingled.

5. What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

I…. actually have no idea. 

PSALMS. He needs all the verses about how loved and precious we are. 

6. Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?

He broke his left wrist once. Worst three months of his life (he’s left-handed). And he has a germ phobia of sorts so when he gets so much as a paper cut he’s scrambling for iodine, skin adhesives, ANYTHING AT ONCE PROMPTLY AND ASAP.

7. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

Wellll. Laser has authority issues so his first few months interacting with Captain Lukas were….. interesting. Angel is his object of hero worship (which said Hero feels slightly unworthy of/soaks it up like a sponge. Oh, honey). Sii Sari is basically like the intimidating big sister and Lechra the lovable big sister… who still has stern moments anyway. 

Dead Shot scares him, and also fascinates him because ASSASSIN. Laser’s still very much a boy at heart, bless him. 

8. On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?

A six, methinks. Being just out of his teenage years he’s still going through some rough patches when it comes to maturity and all that. But Laser tends to be a weird combination of easy-going and high-strung so it makes for some interesting group dynamics. Basically nobody in Mingled has any qualms putting him in his place if need be, but they all are affectionately rough or supportive depending how they express their care for him. 

(For instance, given a certain situation, Sii Sari would hit him upside the head and tell him to stop being such an idiot. Lechra would ask him questions designed to get him to think it through.)

9. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

He particularly wants to visit the Scarlet Cities that orbit Jupiter. His Grandpa told him incredible tales about its people and the spice markets and how if you stand under the golden hourglass in a particular market square, you can actually see all seventeen kaleidoscope-like cities at once. 

10. Who was the last person they held hands with?

Lechra. It was in the middle of a mission, Laser happened to be along instead of on the ship running backup as per usual; he got distracted, Lukas had no intentions of leaving him behind so when they were discovered he told Lechra to grab the “kid” and make a run for it. 

This not-actual-family makes my heart happy. 

The (belated) post of Writerly goals and resolutions

 

Technically this post was supposed to go up last month, but January = insanity. Which means today you get to hear all about my 2016 writing goals and plot bunnies and all that good stuff! I’m using the Beautiful People questions (hosted by Sky and Cait) because as always they suit perfectly, and I like lists and such things. They give a sense of order in the universe. *dramatic music*

Shall we?
What were your writing achievements last year?

*in which Annie does a happy dance because SHE ACCOMPLISHED STUFF*

In March I found out that I was a finalist in Rooglewood’s Beauty and the Beast re-telling contest. Of course, I was disappointed not to be one of the winners, but finding out I was one of the Top Twenty? I still get happy chills over that.

For the first time I participated in Camp NaNo July which was a blast (shout-out to Schuyler and Emily for being such amazing writer buddies). I’ve never written so much in one month, and I’ve never had that much fun, or that much pain (I write longhand). Also, it had the added bonus of creating a habit of writing daily for me. WOOT. I’m a procrastinator, folkies, hence why July was so important. Not to mention I added over 25,000 words to the third draft of I am Juliette so there’s that. I worked on typing it up over the next few months – my sister-in-law helped me tremendously – and in the meantime I started Blood Thread, my fantasy steampunk novella about a cat-fae and his unruly human charge. In November I joined in NaNoWriMo for the first time and wrote about 11,000 words of Witching, the sequel to I am Juliette. I would have written more, but life happened. I finished and edited Blood Thread in December.

All in all, I feel happy about what I did last year. I finished two books, one full-length and one novella. I learned good habits and more about my own style and voice. And my social media platforms grew steadily – I made connections with some brilliant, lovely people. Also, I discovered that Fantasy is my life’s blood; I suspected it already, but now I know for sure.

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

I feel like I should maybe have a microphone and a holograph right now.

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I am Juliette takes Top Priority for sure. It needs an extensive edit of the Draft 4 (that’s actually what I’m in the middle of right now). But after that? Once IAJ is sent out to beta-readers I have no idea what I’ll be working on, and I am incredibly excited about it. There’s this glorious horizon awash with bright ideas and I can hardly wait to have a blank slate and a fresh story to work on. A few I am dying to get my paws on are:

the Zorro re-telling: in my head it’s all a palette of dusty roads and orange sunsets and rad motorcycles and political tangles and swashbuckling rescues and Spanish food/jargon and deliciously suspenseful bad-guy-is-two-steps-behind-Zorro-on-the-staircase scenes. I need this book in my life, people.

Witchling: It’s a bit untrue that I’m wild to write this one since most of it takes place in outer space and that can be a hampering setting for me. I crave the color and life and air of Earth. Not even kidding, humans; this is an actual, legitimate problem I face as a writer. Space drains my creativity. BUT. There’s also Hansel and Gretel who are just so sweet and adorable and wring my heart, and I want to spend more time with the Witchling. The Wolf Master is one of my favorite villains of all time, and as for Halsey? He is a precious charrie who deserves to be set loose on paper again.

The Runner Chronicles: Again, Fantasy is my Kryptonite. MUST HAVE THE FANTASY. I’ve been half-brainstorming this series in the back of my mind, and then I wrote a Beautiful People for two of the characters which just made matters worse, and now I want to write all about this gifted, confused, prejudiced world with its gorgeous scenery and bone-chilling creatures. The problem? It’s a series. I have no wish to start another series right now. I get cranky just thinking about it. Someone give me chocolate chips.

List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

Writing description: I never used to be so unsure of myself in this area, but now when I write it’s like I’m looking through poorly-made glasses at the world around me. It’s incredibly frustrating.

Keeping to a consistent schedule: Honestly, I’m doing much better at this, but it’s too easy for me to slip up. I want to get up earlier, start writing earlier and accomplish my set word-count/goal each day. Lists are my best friend.

Plot: I know I’m pretty strong on the character front, but plot is my Waterloo. I don’t like simple, I like convoluted and surprising—it’s just a matter of learning how to replicate that.

Writing humor: My brand of humor tends to always take place in dialogue and a lot of time it sounds similar—snarky one-liners and the like. I plan on learning how to write different kinds of humor, focusing on working it into the prose.

Bravery: In keeping with my word for the year I want to be braver when it comes to my writing. I want to incorporate the themes I feel called to, even if they scare me. I want to try new styles and modes of writing, and delve into my imagination and creativity without thinking about how other people might respond negatively. I’m going to query this year and work more on the publishing side of things which terrifies me. Hence, this resolution.

Are you participating in any writing challenges?

Since I loved Camp NaNo so much last year, I really want to join in again. April will probably be too busy (pleasedontbepleasedontbe) but, Lordwilling, I will be writing up a storm in July. I may or may not do NaNoWriMo this year… WE SHALL SEE.

What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

There are several lovely humans who beta-read for me, and I’m hoping to increase their number this year; specifically, a few male readers/writers since I don’t have any at the moment and a masculine viewpoint is invaluable. I don’t really have any steady critique partners, but I’d like to have a few (I need to, would be more accurate). My sisters are stellar in the critique department, but I would also like some writers who are more advanced in their craft.

Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

Yes, indeedy! I have a list with a plethora of writerly books I plan on digging into sometime. Top of said list being Bird by Bird, The Emotion Thesaurus, Revising and Self editing for publication, Structuring your Novel and Outlining your Novel among others.

As for research I need to read the original Zorro book, re-hash various fairytales for my I am Juliette series, study some more well-written science fiction (recommendations, anyone?), and I’m planning on reading Quiet since I need to have a better handle on how introverted people think. Also books about ninjas and aromatherapy and gunmanship and Spanish culture and outer-space and blindness. Beyond that? Who knows? That’s half the reason a writer’s life is so exciting.

Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

Only one? That’s adorable.

The Wolf Master from Witchling fascinates me and, since he’s the antagonist for the whole of the series, I really need to learn more about him; what makes him tick, what his driving motivation is, why exactly he became the way he is. I have strong inklings and I am eager to find out more. I’m hoping to explore the Witchling and Halsey’s friendship more too because a) they give me many Best Friend feels, and b) they help each other grow in ways I can’t quite grasp yet. I need to understand exactly what their dynamic is and how they view each other.

Another character I’m anxious to get to know is my “Rapunzel” from the third book in the I am Juliette series. She’s going to be grand fun to write because she is just so blunt. That girl has absolutely no filter, I tell you. Or any concept about the normal way to behave, and her mistakes are hysterical and embarrassing and adorable. She’s like a wide-eyed, innocent child in a 17-year old’s body, but she has startling flashes of insight and womanly intuition. Plus, she and her AI have the cutest, grumpy fits at each other which make me happy.

And then there’s this assassin charrie from another book….

Lots of character sketches, questionnaires, interviews, and excerpts are in store, methinks. *rubs hands together gleefully*

Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

I shall be editing I am Juliette like a small, maniac tornado and then querying it out like said tornado’s scared twin. Of course, I’m terrified to my very bones. This is all as new as the first sunrise for me, peoples. But secretly (well, less secretly now) I’m also wildly optimistic so hopefully there won’t have to be too many comfort-blanket forts built (I promise, I am a serious adult, but right now I’m listening to Spanish music and it’s bringing out the unquenchable child in me. And I struggle with hyperbole anyways).

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

I have strong opinions on this subject.

Firstly, I would love to see more books that are clean, but still have depth. There’s no earthly reason why a book can’t be free of foul language and innuendoes/scenes and still be deeper than the Mariana Trench. No reason at all. Half the reason I don’t want to market my books as “Christian” is because of the bad name so many Christian authors have given that market by writing shallow, preachy, bland books—see here. I want to see more of my fellow authors-in-the-faith tackling tough issues head-on. Be brave, darlings. The moon shines all the more clearly in the dark (I keep telling myself this because I know I need to write a book that deals with human-trafficking and the idea scares me stiff).

More thick historical novels that aren’t solely romance fiction would make me happy. More anthropomorphic fantasy is always good. I would be thrilled to see less of the strong-woman-who-don’t-need-no-man and more of the strong woman who can still have a man without thinking it degrades her (maybe I’ll write an article on this at some point).

Please, more books with a male protagonist. I BEGS.

And I second Aimee: lots of steampunk, pretty please and thank you. And more platonic/close sibling relationships would be nice too.

(aaand this question has reminded me of so many plot-bunnies/spawned more.)

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

I want to see:

I am Juliette edited, sent out to beta-readers, queried, and even accepted (I believe in reaching for the sky, lovelies).

– the first draft of Witchling completed.

– Zorro re-telling at least plotted and out-lined.

– win a creative writing contest.

– secure a critique partner and male beta-reader (or two).

– accomplish a Thing with Blood Thread which is currently under wraps.

– lots, and lots of research done.

– attending a writers’ conference would be spectacular.

– my writing vastly improved on all fronts.

How about you? Tell me a few of your goals for 2016. I want to know ALLLLL the things, my friends! And which of my plot bunnies intrigues you the most? H

Beautiful People — Valentine’s Edition // Quinn and Keelyne

Quinn&Kee

Today I am linking up with Beautiful People to chat about a couple I’ve never mentioned on Curious Wren before. Quinn and Keelyne are from my high fantasy The Runner Chronicles which is all about prejudice and war and love and family. Their relationship is unique because:

a) they’re the only two pure-blooded young people left of their race, and so it’s been pretty much a given since they were born that they would end up in an arranged marriage (right now they’re engaged). 

b) they both have special gifts. Quinn can manipulate gravity and Keelyne is a fire-bender. 

I love these two precious bunnies so much, humans. 

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Q1. How did they first meet?

Quinn was seven and Keelyne was five. It was at a Feast of the New Moon, and both children were trying to escape their respective nursemaids. Needless to say, they accidentally sabotaged each other’s escape plans and neither was thrilled with the other.

Q2. What were their first impressions of each other?

Kee made a flame-imp to terrorize Quinn and he retaliated by tripping her up throughout the rest of the evening with his gravity-bending gift.

That answer that question sufficiently?

Q3. How long have they been a couple?

Their parents arranged a betrothal agreement for them when Keelyne was ten and Quinn was twelve. The engagement became official in a public ceremony six years later, and the couple exchanged rings per tradition. The actual wedding will take place a year later and both of them dread the day.

Q4: How committed/loyal are they to each other? Would they break up over a secret or disagreement? Could stress drive them apart? Would they die for each other?

Ohhhh, boy. I’ll try to answer this without spilling too many spoilers.

Since Quinn has a strong code of honor he would never betray Kee, even though being betrothed to her is not his favorite thing ever. Kee on the other hand? You can never be sure exactly how loyal she is to her reluctant fiancée.

Because they’re a couple out of necessity and obligation (pure bloodline and all that) it’d have to be a really terrible secret to get them to actually break their engagement—basically destroying a hierarchy of a thousand years. It could happen though.

Being with each other tends to stress them out so they avoid private confrontations. Formal and distant is their motto. Which is adorable, because their younger siblings ship them and are always trying to “accidentally” trick them into meeting.

They would die for each other without hesitation.

Figure out that conundrum. O.o

Q5. List 5 “food quirks” (feel free to mention non-food quirks).

— Keelyne adores pomegranates.

— Quinn firmly maintains he is allergic to them—how much truth is in that statement is anyone’s guess.

— Quinn hates eating at feasts, he prefers being all by his lonesome or just with a few friends.

— Kee sometimes eats off a flaming plate just to freak people out.

— They both love rich, hot tea.

Q6. Is there anyone who disapproves of their relationship?

Themselves? 90% of the time?

Q7. What would be an ideal date?

Dancing together in the moonlight. Alone, because their first dance at the betrothal ceremony with everyone watching was the most awkward thing ever.

Q8. What are their personality dynamics? Similar? Contrasting? Do they fight a lot or mesh perfectly?

Keelyne = spitfire with a dash of Ice Queen.

Quinn = gentleman with a strong streak of introvert.

When they’re together sparks fly. Sometimes they have calm, agreeable conversations, but the general state of affairs is all tension and unspoken feelings and turbulence and an acute awareness of each other.

Nobody makes Quinn slip from his customary politeness faster than Kee. On the flip-side nobody can get Keelyne’s attention as quickly as Quinn can.

Q9. What have been their best and worst moments together as a couple?

Best?

As children they practiced controlling their respective gifts all the time together, so now that they’re older and engaged the moments when they are most comfortable are whenever they train. It’s easiest to forgot about their future then and just be friendly. It says a lot about their relationship that while they are the most encouraging to each other in maintaining the stability of their fire/gravity abilities they also struggle to control their gifts the most when they’re together.

One of my favorite scenes between them is when one of their siblings gets hurt, and they sit together for hours in silent sympathy while they wait for a verdict from the healers.

As for the worst?

Spoilers, sweetie. So, so many spoilers. *bribes self with peppermint patties not to say anything*

Q10. Where do they see themselves and their relationship in the next few years?

Both of them are terrified to get married, but for very different reasons. I would explain more, but, again, SPOILERS.

*gives everyone freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies in apology*

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