Final Goodbye

This is going to be a short-and-simple post. It's the end of the year. Everyone is busy.

So today I'm just going to share some WIP playlists. Maybe you'll hear some new tracks that you can enjoy in 2021. Or maybe you can just melt into the music and imagine your in the storyworld.


The Red War Annals: The Golden Bard of Taliyaven

high fantasy // fiddles // war horses // long journeys // travelling through snowy mountains // climbing canyons // slipping through dark streets // gathering with friends to play music together // friendship

The Pirate Hunter Chronicles: Ships, Secrets, and Survivors

pirate fantasy // talking ships // assassins // princesses // sea dragons // ocean magic // stars on the water // siren songs // storms on the horizon // deserted islands // strange countries // different accents // kingdoms


Havendenara: Rauladin

ya fantasy // strangers in the woods // winged beasts // distrust // an ancient legend // old forests // shadowed sunlight between thick branches // murky swamp // warring clans // twisted histories // winged beasts // hatred // blood-debt


Anyways, hope y'all enjoyed that.

2020 has been quite a year, yah? Hard to believe it's about over. I'll be back in January with some wrap-ups and goals and all that rot. So talk to y'all next year!

NaNoWriMo 2020 WIP Excerpts

So Sarah and I wrote the third book in The Pirate Hunter Chronicles for NaNo 2020. We actually only made it a little over halfway through the outline, but hey, it went well otherwise. :)

Today I have a few excerpts. Non-spoilery, of course. But a taste of what is to come...

You're welcome.


A slimy tentacle rose out of the harbor, dripping water onto the deck of the ship. Justin choked on his words and the tea cup fell to the deck and shattered. Shade muttered a few words that Ravin hadn’t heard in a while (and hopefully would never hear again).

Oh, yeah,” the High Dragon’s voice echoed across the harbor. “There’s a kraken.


A pirate rushed towards Ravin, cutlass in hand. Ravin pulled a knife from his pocket, dodged the man’s thrust, and sunk the knife into the back of the man’s hand. The cutlass tumbled to the deck, and Ravin kicked it away.

“Please be careful.” Ravin adjusted his grip on his violin. “I don’t want to drop this.”


“You’re the one that ran,” the assassin said, pointing to the tattoo on Ravin’s bare arm.

“I hope you’ve heard a little more than that,” Ravin set his crossbow down on the ground and drew a knife. “I’ll give you one chance to drop your weapons and surrender right now.” 


“You got more knives?” Adi didn’t look surprised.

“They’re Jaco’s.”


“You doing alright?” Adi put a hand on his shoulder. “From the pirates?”

“Oh, yeah, it’ll take more than that to worry me!”

“Justin, you passed out!”


“Well, the king was busy.”

“Doesn’t excuse his tardiness or negate the fact that we had everything under control.”

“So having the entire port in flames is your definition of ‘under control?’”


Anyways, there you have it. I wanted to share more, but some are spoilery for book three and book two. So oh well.

Good news is, we are still pushing for a publication of Sins, Sons, and Siren Songs in May 2021. Not only will you be able to buy the paperback and get cool swag (music?? another short story?? stickers??), but you'll be treated to the title of book three. :) So stay tuned!

Dreams Take Work

March 2014. I was going to buy my dream horse.

After finally selling Nugget, my horse-with-no-brakes, I went to a huge 3-day auction with my dad. As you can imagine, my head was full of dreams. What kind of horse was I going to come home with? A fun little Paso, just like my sister's horse? Maybe another Haflinger? A beautiful buckskin? Who knows?

I came home with an elegant black Friesian. I remember holding the end of the lead rope and walking him to the trailer, filled with awe that this ginormous beastie was now mine. We drove home, and I imagined what it would be like to gallop bareback across the hay fields...just like Alec and the Black Stallion, only the "I live in the mountains, far away from the beach" version.

Pepper at his fastest speed (a trot) at a Ride and Tie in VA.

But when I got home, my dreams were shattered. Pepper didn't like to ride away from the house alone. He panicked every time he got left behind by the other horses and would bolt to catch up (which, because he walks so slow, was pretty frequent). Loading and unloading him was a pain. He bucked every time he cantered, and sometimes when he was in a trot.

I cried myself to sleep a number of times. This wasn't the dream horse I had thought I'd bought. A few times I even wondered if I should sell him, but despite the rough rides I really loved him.

Pepper and Max getting ready for a ride in the rain.

Years passed, and I kept stubbornly riding Pepper. And then, one day, I realized I was riding my dream horse. I could load him right up in the trailer, go out riding by myself, trot and canter away, and load him right up and go home.

Pepper enjoying a quick cool-off during one of our solo rides.

August 2020. I was going to look at a cheap Craigslist horse.

A long time ago I had told myself, if you go to look at a horse and he's already tacked up when you arrive, the sellers are trying to hide something, so don't buy the horse. Well, this horse was tacked up, tied to a tree, and sweating. To keep the drive from being a total waste, I rode the horse anyway, and while he threw in a buck or two and tossed his head around and was an emotional mess, he wasn't horrible.

Then I took the saddle off and found I could see every rib on the poor thing. I offered the seller $500 less than what she was asking, and she took it and I took the horse. I've made a mistake, I told myself. This horse is crazy. He'll never be like your old Paso. He was trained by a drunk, never been on the trails, and has who knows how many bad habits.

Shadow learning to be a good little Ride and Tie beastie.

But I jumped right into working with him. I practiced loading him. I started on trails. Worked on tons of little quirks.

This November, I took this horse to VA with a friend and we rode over bridges, through tunnels, and even galloped a couple times. This little horse didn't put a hoof wrong the whole time.

Me and Shadow after going through the tunnel.

Perfect horses, dream horses, aren't purchased. They're made.

So pull your boots on, take a deep breath, and get on that horse. He or she may not be your dream horse yet. There may be a few rides between now and that "bareback gallop across the field" that everyone dreams of. But don't give up.

To those who don't have horses, maybe you have some other dream you're chasing and maybe it seems so unattainable. Maybe it'll take some bravery, or maybe some hard work, or maybe lots of time and dedication, or maybe a healthy dose of everything I just mentioned.

Don't give up. Keep pushing forward. Every little bit counts. Every step forward is forward progress. Every ten minutes spent on your project is ten minutes closer to finishing.

Don't give up on your dream. Stun it with your last bullet, and when it tries to get up and run away, grab a hold of the tail and and run after it through the woods and never let go no matter where it drags you (sorry, a hunting story analogy here).

2021 is beginning and we're all setting new goals and trying to get over the shock of 2020. Here is your reminder to keep trucking on. Don't give up. It gets better, I promise. It may get worse for a while, and you'll stress and you'll cry. But when you're done crying, dry those tears, maybe look at a different angle, and try again.

These boys have some blood, sweat, and tears in them, but boy, have they been worth it! <3 Don't give up on your dreams!

Blood of the Seer - Cover Reveal

 Super awesome news on the blog today -- Claire's book Blood of the Seer now has a COVERRRRR and BOY AM I EXCITED!!!! <3

So Claire has been a favorite author of mine ever since I stumbled across her indie book The Rise of Aredor (which I SUPER SUPER SUPER recommend -- think The Horse and His Boy meets G. A. Henty). The sequel to Aredor (The Wildcat of Braeton) was also awesome. And then her first book in the Dragon Keep Chronicles (Oath of the Outcast) was AMAZINGGGG 

and now the second book in the Dragon Keep Chronicles HAS A COVER

and I get to share it with y'all.

(so I have a little sister bellowing away on our bagpipe chanter right now IN THE SAME ROOM as I try to type this up and it's RaThEr DiStRaCtInG....)

Anyway, let me share with you this cover. Because there's a high change y'all scrolled down and didn't even read half of this to begin with, yah?

Isn't it beautiful??? <3 And let me share the blurb, just in case you already don't want to read the book based on the cover alone.

A blood curse.

A shadow world.

An indomitable evil.

A forgotten bond.

Banished for a crime he didn’t commit, Rhys MacDuffy risked his life to rescue the little brother he no longer could claim as his own. Sean, the Seer of Clan MacDuffy, returns from his ordeal to war between the Clans and Lord Adam Barkley. Moreover, the Clan Lords refuse to lift the exile on Rhys. No outcast has ever been forgiven. 

But the druids who held Sean captive have taken the key to controlling his powers—his blood. Rhys determines to keep his brother safe no matter the cost. Heedless of the war, he leads his rowdy band of Mountain Brigands on a hunt to destroy the druids before they destroy Sean with their dark magic.

The druids force Sean into a shadow world full of demons and danger, where their menacing god Deronis can consume him. Yet Rhys is able to follow Sean into the other world. There they discover an older magic that might be the key to stopping the druids.

The bond of brotherhood between Rhys and Sean runs deep. But is it strong enough to stand against the druid’s blood god?

C.M. Banschbach is a native Texan and would make an excellent hobbit if she wasn’t so tall. She’s an overall dork, pizza addict, and fangirl. When not writing fantasy stories packed full of adventure and snark, she works as a pediatric Physical Therapist where she happily embraces the fact that she never actually has to grow up.

She writes clean YA/MG fantasy-adventure as Claire M. Banschbach.

Instagram: @cmbanschbach (

Facebook: @cmbanschbach (


Pinterest: @clairebanschbach (

Email Newsletter Freebie:

Blood of the Seer releases February 9th, 2021 (and I don't think I can wait that loooooooonnnnggg). You CAN (if you're impatient like me)(or if you like preorder swag, also like me) preorder the book HERE (for a signed paperback) or on Amazon HERE

(See y'all tomorrow, for my regularly scheduled post as well...)

Getting Hitched

October 22nd. I drove my Trailblazer into town and picked up a log-splitter-trailer-thingy to get some work done in the new pasture we were clearing. Dropped it off in the pasture and was on the phone with Sarah when I pulled up to the gate. (For quick reference, the gate is on a downhill slope.) I put the car in park, open the gate, and get back in the driver's seat. I shift the car from park to drive and...the car goes backwards, and not just because of the hill. I hit the brakes, glance at the gear shift's stuck in reverse. It never made it to drive. Just went to reverse and stuck. I wiggle it, play with it, and consider my situation.

Seeing how I need to hurry and close the gate before an animal gets out, I coast down the hill, drive the car in reverse around the barn, and back it up the hill and through the gate. Because gravity pulls the car downhill, but the stuck-in-reverse-engine makes the car want to go uphill, the parking brake manages to balance everything out and keep the car from moving so I can jump out and close the gate.

At this point, I tell Sarah that I need to call her back and end my phone call. Then I sit there for another few minutes, trying to figure out how to get my car out of reverse. The gear shift refuses to budge. If I take the parking brake off and step off the brake, the car goes backwards.

So I decide to turn the car off and then on again. That always works, right?

Haha, nope. It turns off, but because the car is in reverse, and I can't get it out of reverse, it won't turn back on.

So I do the phone call of shame and Dad comes, also can't get it to start, and we leave it. The tow truck comes to take it to the repair shop, and I head to work in my mom's car.

(I promise this story is going somewhere....)

The next day, Friday, I get a call from my dad. The conversation basically went like this:

Dad: Hey, I went back to the barn and there are horses on the road.

Me: Are they my horses?Dad: No.Me: What do they look like? Is there a yellow one? *thinks of Richard, the closest neighbor who has a couple horses, two of which are palominos.

Dad: Yes, there's a yellow one and a black and white one.

Me: *panics, because Richard doesn't have any paints* *panics more, because another neighbor, Betsy, is out of town, and has a buckskin and a paint*

Dad: They're running around, I think you need to come home and help us catch them.

So I leave work, drive the 10 minutes home, and see three horses that I've never seen before. By the time I arrive, their owner has come to help catch them. Apparently a tree had fallen on the fence, and they had gotten out and run off.

Dad kindly offered to hitch up the trailer so they could drive the horses back instead of lead them back through the woods. The hitch on the trailer is my fancy $200 Amazon hitch - 

(Quick Interruption to tell the story of the $200 Amazon hitch...when I bought my 2-horse, the only hitch I had with the right size ball made the trailer tilt up at such an angle that the front set of tires were lifted off the ground. My dad said to buy a new hitch that would drop down lower for the trailer, and offered to split the cost with me, since it would go on his truck and he would use it as well. Long story short, he never paid me back, and I keep forgetting to remind him, and at this point, i really don't care. Anyway, I went to Amazon, picked out a heavy duty, fancy hitch and when I went to order, Amazon gave me the whole "try Amazon prime, and we'll ship this 2-day for free!" And I calculated the weight of the box with this heavy hitch, said "okay, then, your funeral" and took the free trial. And then cancelled it shortly after. But I got my hitch in 2 days.)

- and back to the story. So I go to flip the ball size on my hitch, since I need the 2'' ball for the red trailer won't come off. I jiggle it, shake it, pound it on the ground, but nothing happens. My brother finds a hammer and manages to pound it off (and deafen everyone in a 3-mile radius), but now the connector is so damaged that we can't hammer it back in with the 2'' ball on top.

Rather frustrated at how my trusty hitch has suddenly decided not to work now, in the moment of emergency, I rummage around in the garage and grab one of the older hitches. We hitch up the red trailer, load the runaway horses, and get them home. When I mention to my dad that I had troubles with my fancy hitch, he says, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you...I was fixing something at the barn and couldn't find a hammer, so I used your hitch and think I broke it."

The next day, Saturday morning, I get up and begin to prepare for my usual Saturday trail ride. I load everything up in my 2-horse as always, and back the truck up to get hitched. That's when I realize I have the wrong hitch (a 2'' inch ball). And then I remember that Daddy broke my hitch. So I hurriedly pillage the garage until I find my old 2 5/16'' drop-down hitch (it's better than using the 3-ball hitch that makes the tires lift off the ground, but still is a little too high). I hitch up the trailer and go to plug in the lights when...

...the adapter is awol.

Well, not exactly. The adapter is on my Trailblazer, from when I pulled the log splitter. And the Trailblazer is still in the shop (I told you I had a point to that intro). So I pull out one of the new adapters, just to see if it still has the same problem. And it does. Basically, the truck brakes are so crap and the trailer brakes are so /sharp/, that using a brand new adapter makes the trailer brakes lock up. (So I use the old broken adapter, which somehow makes the lights work, but not the brakes.)

By now I'm worried I'll be late to the ride. So I switch hitches and hook up the red stock trailer. Only to find the pigs have chewed the cables so there is no way I'm getting any lights or brakes there, either. Oh, and the tag just expired like, a month ago. But at least this trailer is lighter and I'm just going 20 minutes down the road, and I'm not re-hitching anything.

So I move the tack into the truck, load the horses, and head out. The trail ride went well. I get my car repaired and back from the shop. All is good.

The next weekend, my dad needed the truck to help a friend move, so he took the flatbed. No worries, I said, I'll just pull the stock trailer with the Trailblazer (the 2-horse is too heavy for the Falcon, but she pulls the red one just fine). That's when I remember the lights haven't been fixed. And since my car is a good step down or two from the truck, I decide I'd rather have brakes for this. (Thankfully, my friend is able to pick me up, and we still went on the ride.)

Then the third weekend comes. My family is out of town, and I'm meeting with a friend to go ride in VA. I remember my hitch problems on Friday, and while on lunch break, run to Tractor Supply, examine the row of hitches, and look for a 2 5/16'' drop-down hitch (that's lower than the one I already have). Finding one, I make my purchase and head back to work, feeling, for once, on top of the game.

Saturday morning I go to hitch up and...the hitch will not fit on my truck. The shaft is too big. (Like....why?????) So I go to use my old drop-down hitch and...I can't find it. It's gone. Vanished. Yeeted into the void and blasted into oblivion.

I'm driving to VA. Over the mtns. I need brakes and lights (so I can't take the red one, which still doesn't have hookups...or a current sticker). But I'm not driving up and down the mtns with the first set of tires spinning uselessly in the air. And the closest tractor supply store is 30 minutes away...

After calling my family and friends to complain, I search the truck one more time and manage to find my old drop-down hitch. With that, I am able to successfully hook up safely and use the old adapter to have lights/turn signals. (And we had a very good 18 mile ride in VA, if you're curious.)

Earlier last week, I returned the new hitch to Tractor Supply and found that, for some reason, they don't have any drop-down 2 5/16 hitches with a smaller shaft that would fit my truck (Ford 250).

So yeah. Hope you enjoyed that little taste of my life.

NaNo Wrap-Up(ish)

Well, another NaNoWriMo has come and gone. This year was pretty wild, imo. I had two WIPs that I was working on (which I think is sort of against the rules? but because my "official" WIP was the one I was co-writing with Sarah, I needed something to write while I was waiting for her to finish her chapter, so yeah). And while neither are finished, they have about 25ish added to each, so that's cool.

(I did win, btw. With 50,656 words on Nov. 28th.)

This month, I have a couple fun posts planned, so enjoy the humor. :)

In January, I will be starting a new posting schedule (every other week). This is because I have accepted the position as President at my local trail system. I have been a board member for years, and in November, the election committee approached me about becoming President. Because I have trouble saying no, I said yes.

I really miss having time to read all your blog posts and comment and interact with y'all, so I decided to cut back on posts a bit in order to have more time to read other blogs. (And not to pile more things on my to do list.)

Anyways, here's to a December-that-will-probably-fly-by.

Shared WIP Tag - Part 4

So it's the last week of the Shared WIP Tag, and we have a couple days of NaNo left. Hard to believe...

How has Covid affected your writing this year?

Well, I didn't work all April, so that was great. Got a bunch of writing done. But other than that, I've been working like normal so my writing schedule has been fairly normal.

How has Covid affected NaNoWriMo itself for you?

Well, my library usually has some Write-Ins or other kinds of NaNo meetings, but because of Covid, that isn't happening. Other than that, things are normal.

What particular or personal or non-Covid-related challenges do you face for NaNo this year?

Well, trying to write around a slightly whacked-out work schedule (some first shift, some second shift, and always getting into overtime) has been fun. 

Are you trying to over-achieve and go over 50K?

Haha, NOPE. Not this year. Past two years I did 100K, but yeahhhhhh not this time. Mostly because I'm only writing half a book (Sarah is writing the other half), and don't have anything else to write after that. But also because of work.

What is your plan if you don’t reach 50K?

Um...if I don't make 50K at the end of the month? I mean, if it's because of work, that I won't stress about it. If I finish the book and haven't reached 50K, I'll probably try and write something from The Red War Annals to get my word count in. 

Have the current situations given you any new ideas and/or changes for your story?

Not for this book, per se. But for others? Yeah...but not giving any info cuz #spoilers

What are some things that excited you about writing this November? 

Everything about writing a first draft. The adventure of delving into a new story for the first time. Knowing others are also writing like crazy. Getting to spend time with Ravin and Adi and the whole Red Wind crew.

What are some ways you took care of yourself during NaNo?

I did let myself sleep a few hours every night...

How would you describe this NaNo year (in one word)?

Exciting. I mean, hey, I worked on a book with Sarah, drafted some scenes for The Red War Annals, and just enjoyed writing.

Are you going to relax in December or do you still have more work to do?

Tbh, there's always work to do. Edits. Rewrites. Drafting. And even if I take a break from writing, I have blog posts to write, chores to do, a house to clean, horses to ride.... *cries* 

But congrats to everyone who attempted NaNoWriMo this year, and congrats on the progress that you made!! Special thanks to Sarah, MK, and Catherine, who all joined in for this year's round of the Shared WIP Tag! Can't wait to read your books!! <3

Shared WIP Tag - Part 3

If you were dropped into the storyworld, what would your life be like? Things cannot change (i.e. your job description, clothing choices, etc) except for obvious world differences. Like you can’t imagine yourself to be a warrior princess...if you are a farmer IRL, you are a farmer in your storyworld. Answers must be as close to real life as possible.

What sort of job would you have in your storyworld?

So I would be the bookkeeper for the harbor master in Genady port, and also help out with the little tavern that's built onto his office. I'd spend time doing the books and keeping track on who is coming in and out of the harbor, and then helping out at the tavern when things got busy there. I'd get to spend my days talking to new folks arriving and leaving on ships and chatting with sailors and locals over mugs of ale and bowls of sea dragon chowder.

What sort of house would you live in?

I'd live outside of the city, in a house overlooking the ocean. My family has a boat and feels like there's always one of us out on the water. The house has faced many a wild storm, and the gray stone has now become grey and green like the rocks on the edges of the shore. The horses in the pasture are shaggy to protect against the salty spray, and run as fast as the wind.

What sort of community would you live in?

The port of Genady is a busy community, what with ships coming and going and the royal family living uptown in their fancy castle and all. If it isn't a new ship arriving with a load of goods from Riyar, it's some fancy noble from Belhallen coming to visit to Kashinda's. The people make most of their livings off trading, buying, and selling - especially when the yearly Scaera Dumeda comes along and visitors from all over can be found walking the streets.

Would you be valued in the community or not? (Not just job specific.)

As I have managed to secure a job working for the harbormaster, I would say that yes, I would be valued. Keeping taxes and payments straight and maybe giving visitors directions to get to places of interest.

Wait...not job specific?

Um, well, I'd say maybe. I'd be helpful to people and be willing to help rebuild a blown-over barn or watch kids or whatever else my neighbors need done. I'd certainly get to know some of the locals and try to keep a good relationship up with them.

What sort of religious practices would you be doing? 

We haven't really delved into religious practices in our storyworld, tbh, so not sure what to say here.

What would you be doing in your free time? 

Um....what free time???

Okay. JK. Mostly.

I'd probably be out on the water with my siblings, fishing or playing in the water or maybe riding the horses along the beach. Or just hanging out at work talking to people. Helping with chores on the farm. All that fun stuff.

What would you be eating? 

Lots of seafood.

If you could change your current position in the storyworld and do something else (like join the heroes) would you?

NO. NO. NO. 

I am not going out sailing and fighting pirates and sea dragons and assassins. I may be kind of brace, but I don't think I'm that ready to stare down the mouth of a cannon and scream shoot me I dare you.

That being said, if I somehow accidently ended up on board the Red Wind, I wouldn't have too much of a panic attack about it. Like, I don't really seek out adventure, but if it comes, I'm chill about it.

Would you have the opportunity to run into your characters in every-day life?

Cool thing, yes. They'd come in to pay their docking fees and any taxes they felt they needed to pay (does bringing in pirates need a sales tax??) and then they'd go to the tavern for a drink or two and I'd listen to their tales of where they've been and where they're going and then I'd tell them where the best shops are for anything they would need.

Would you be friends with your characters or would they have no idea you “exist” in their storyworld?

Since they sail into Genady fairly often, I'd probably to get to know a few if not all of them. Maybe not all by name, but by sight at least as tavern regulars. They'd probably know me as "the girl who works for the harbor master and the tavern" and we'd wave and trade a story or two, but that would possibly be as far as our relationships go.

Hard to believe NaNo is reaching the end...but let me tell ya, this story is SO AMAZINGGGGG

Shared WIP Tag - Part 2

So for today's post, we had the following prompt: write a piece of flash fiction about what would happen if you invited your MC(s) over for a cup of tea. *cue evil laugh*

"When you said come by for some tea and cookies, this wasn't quite what I had in mind." Adi's voice suddenly rose in pitch as she stumbled on a root. "Phew! Almost fell there."

I gingerly pushed aside a thorn branch. "Well, I didn't exactly plan for the cows to get out. These things just kind of happen. I'm just glad the neighbors called to let me know they saw Sweetie in their yard." Of course Sweetie couldn't stay in the neighbor's yard, but instead had to run back into the woods and run along the couple miles of trails. Now she could be anywhere.

"At least Ravin's good at tracking," Adi pointed towards the creek we were about to cross. "I mean, I can see a few cow prints in the mud, but other then that, I have no idea where she could have gone."

We jumped over the creek and broke into a steady trail shuffle. A stick cracked up ahead - was it Ravin? Sweetie? A deer? Maybe the local black bear that everyone claims they see all the time?

"I should have given Ravin the halter." I clutched the purple rope halter-and-lead on one hand, having given up trying to keep it on my shoulder while running. "I'm glad he's trying to catch her, but he's going to have a hard time..."

Sweetie broke through a little clearing, cantering along the trail towards us. Ravin sat on her back, arms wrapped around her neck and legs clamped to her round belly.

"Oh!" Adi said.

"Oy!" I said.

"Ouch!" Ravin said as he slid off Sweetie's side and landed in the muddiest section of my entire trail system.


Sweetie bucked once, brushed past me without a second glance, and hurried on up the trail. Thankfully she was running towards home.

Ravin lay on his back in the mud, not even attempting to get up. "It seemed like a good idea at the time," he said to the trees looming overhead. "Maybe I should have waited for the halter."

"You're not hurt are you?" Adi stared down at the ex-assassin, as if considering giving him a hand up or not.

"Perfectly fine. But tea and cookies sounds really good right about now."

Horror froze every bone in my body. Cookies. The oven. "I forgot to turn the oven off!"

Ravin staggered to his feet, mud coating every inch of shirt and pants and hair and skin. "Please tell me you remembered to take the last tray of cookies out."

"Why do you think I'm freaking out about the oven still being on??"

Adi's face paled.

"They're probably fine," I shrugged.

"We've been out chasing your cow for what, fifteen minutes? That's probably longer than what those cookies need."

"Adi, you run home and get the cookies out of the oven. Ravin and I will get Sweetie."

"But Ravin's the better runner. He'll get there faster."

Ravin extracted his boot from the mud with a loud ssscchhluupppp. His nose wrinkled in disgust, but before he could slide the boot on, something heavy splashed in the creek just around the bend of the trail.

"Sweetie?" I called, hopefully, even though it was from the opposite direction the cow had run.

The black head and blinking eyes of a bear appeared over the little rise of ground where the trail veered away from the creek and towards the side of the forested hill.

Ravin tossed the boot over his shoulder. A knife appeared in his hand.

Adi shook her head and groaned.

"Maybe the bear would like some tea?" I offered.

The End.

Haha, anyways, hope you enjoyed that. (Yes, there is a bear on our property that we've caught with the trail cams, but never actually seen. Yes, Sweetie the cow is our escape artist beastie. And no, I haven't caught any cookies on fire before, but there's always a first time.)

Shared Wip Tag - Part 1

 Hey hey hey it's that time of year again! NaNoWriMo is upon us, and everyone is writing some new and exciting stories!

For those who may be unfamiliar, the Shared WIP Tag is something I do every year, for NaNo. Those who want to participate work together to decide on a couple groups of questions about our NaNo novels, which we then answer on our blogs during November. So it basically gives us something to prepare beforehand so we don't have to create blog posts during November. :)

Anyways, on to the show!

(Thanks to Sarah Rodecker for making the graphics!)

Title, Genre, Expected Word Count of the WIP.

Well, the working title for this book is Rumors. It's the third book in The Pirate Hunter Chronicles. Fantasy (with a more historical fantasy feel, tbh). Expected word count is around 80,000-100,000. We'll see how it goes.

(The title will be revealed when the second book is published!)

Provide a blurb.

A year has passed. A new Scaera Dumeda approaches. An old enemy emerges from the ocean. The Pirate Hunter crew joins with the Alliance Ambassadors to take down their biggest threat yet.

Describe the MC(s) in one word (each).

Well, for Ravin I would say either caring or knives. Which sort of sound like opposites but oh well???? And for Adi I would say determined.  (Bonus round: tea for Justin Case.)

Is there an antagonist? If so, how would you describe them?

Ah, Colyn. A young pirate captain who needs some sense knocked into his head...I would call him bold or maybe crazy

Describe your story in ten short phrases.

-Release the kracken!

-Don't eat the eggdrop soup - it has turned.

-John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt (that's my name, too).

-Drink to goodbyes and drink to hellos; drink to the open, drink to the close; drink to me only with thine eyes and I will drink with my nose; AND SO WE DRINK.

-Ambassador business, back to your drinks.

-Row, row, row your rowboat like your life depends on it (cuz maybe it does).


-Why is everything on fire?

-Captain Martin and Jay Hill.


Are you planning on publishing this WIP? If so, when and how? 

Um, yes. This book is likely going to be published in 2021 if all goes well.

Something about the WIP that you love.

Um, the huge sense of caring, whether it's deep friendships, romantic interests, blood-family, or found-family. These guys are determined to care for others.

A scene that you are looking forward to writing.

Um, a non-spoilery scene....oy. There's a scene where Ravin is with some Ambassadors, and they don't know he's a del Mankayl, and he's trying to act all posh and it's gonna be hilarious.

What was the original plot bunny?

Back in 2010 or so, when I watched Pirates of the Carribbean and decided to write a story about people hunting down pirates. Jay Hill and his "magic" ship appeared almost instantly afterward. 

How does it differ from the original plot idea?

The whole Scaera Dumeda thing and Princess Adi are new additions (Sarah's ideas, really). The biggest difference, IMO, is that in the original plot, Jay Hill was the main character. His ship did move without sails, but she wasn't "alive" like in the published work.

Welp, there you have it! Be sure to check back next week for the second installment, which is a little different than the usual questions. :)

Camping Woes

The wind whipped around the edges of my horse trailer, and I briefly wondered what would happen if a tree fell on top of me. I'd be stuck in the tack compartment, cocooned in a sleeping bag, surrounded by saddles and snack food. How long would it take the other campers to realize a tree had fallen on my trailer?

Then I chuckled to myself. We weren't that close to the woods line, I was safe.

Half a minute later, a pair of hobbles slipped off the hook on the side of the trailer and fell on my face, rendering me terrified for a few horrifying seconds.

So I love camping. There's something fun about getting up in the morning and just relaxing. Starting a fire. Being outside. Reading a book in a folding chair.

But, as one does, I have camping stories.

Like the time I was kayak camping and a friend carried an entire cast iron pot in his kayak and made peach cobbler while in the wilderness.

Or "bare essentials" kayak camping with just some Chef Boyardee cans for food and a hammock to sleep in...and the hammock stretches so much during the night I wake up and find I'm basically sleeping on the ground.

Or the time we went kayak camping and the river was so high we camped in the parking lot. *ducks head*

Or the time I rode my horses to a nearby bluegrass festival and camped overnight with them and someone set off fireworks beside the horses and...yah...I never went back.

Or the time we were camping at an endurance race and someone's horses got loose and raced about the camp and nearly trampled our tent.

Or the time we took the pull-behind camper to a church conference and the truck decided to stall everytime we went into reverse (so getting into the campsite was a challenge), and then the hookups were damaged and we blew 2 tires on the van while driving into town to get equipment to fix the hookups and we pulled into the wal-mart parking lot with only two tires to find the Wal-Mart is permanently closed and then the friend who was going to pick us up got lost and we finally got back and managed to get something worked with the hookups but that backfired when we accidentally electrocuted the whole camper so every time you touch it you get shocked and in the end we just went without lights and AC for an entire week in the middle of a KY summer.

Or the time we did a Ragnar race during a hurricane and the entire field flooded and tents were drifting down in the current and mud was everywhere and the race was cancelled halfway through the event.

And then just a few weeks back, when I forgot my 20-year-old tent was technically just a kids play tent....and not a waterproof outdoor tent.... hence me sleeping in the horse trailer for two nights, with a damp sleeping bag and backpack...and a drenched play tent in the back of the truck.

I like camping, but let's be honest, nothing beats my nice bed.

Situational Humor

Situational Humor is not super hard to write. Some people seem more naturally drawn to it in their writing.

But it's simple.

Start with one thing. One simple moment...say your character plans to do something. They want to step forward to volunteer for an important mission at the Big Important Meeting later that day.

Then ruin it. And not just "character steps forward to volunteer and awkwardly stutters something" ruin it.

We are talking "humiliate them to the end of time" ruin it.

While putting on their boots to leave for the meeting, they remember their boots are still soaking wet from being out in the rain the previous day. They can either slosh their way across town, or break out their spare pair.

They vote for the spare pair of boots and then on their way out the door, they remember why it's the spare pair...the boots are two sizes too big.

So they slap-slap their way across town, worrying about being late, when the neighbor grabs holt of their elbow and reminds the MC about some task or other that the MC had promised to do. And they want it done now. So the MC has no choice but to hurriedly weed the garden or cut the grass or whatever, and in the process they get stung by a bee and now their face is swollen on one side and they're sweaty from all the labor.

So off the MC slap-slaps in their extra large boots, hurrying to the meeting so they don't arrive too late...and then they're almost there when a friend steps in front of their path with a huge goose under each arm. "Look what I got at auction!" the friend grins. "I got one for both of us!"

Trying to thank the friend through gasping breaths, the MC grabs the squawking goose gift and continues the race towards the Important Town Meeting. Banging the doors open 2 minutes after the hour, the MC bursts into the meeting, beet red and dripping in sweat, wearing boots two sizes too big, with a hugely swollen cheek from a bee sting, and carrying an angry goose. "I volunteer!" the MC manages to say, trying to regain any remaining shreds of dignity. "I can do this important task!"

*mic drop*

And there you have it. Situational Humor. No snark. Not a quick one-liner. But a couple paragraphs of a growing situation.

Learn anything?

Like me recapitulate.

-Take a situation.

-Decide to ruin it.

-Start with something simple happening.

-Add something else to happen.

-Add a third thing.

-And a fourth.

-Continue until peak chaos has ensued.

Okay, so there's a little more to it than that. There are a few things you need to be aware of in order to write Situational Humor.

Be willing to make a "cool" character less cool. That cool, black leather outfit is out. Spending almost the entire book in Pajama Pants because stuff keeps happening and the character has no time to change is in. I may not be able to relate to "knives hidden in every conceivable place" (okay, so some of my friends might argue that) but I can relate to "I just came downstairs in my PJs and apparently we have company and now I'm outside chasing a cow in the middle of the night in my bathrobe and slippers."

One thing in itself may not be super funny, but a number of things happening at one time is what makes a situation hilarious. The MC showing up in the meeting room with a goose might be kinda funny. But you gotta add in all the other stuff to paint a truly memorable moment.

Anyways, there you have it!! Please drop some of your favorite situational humor moments below!! I'd love to hear them!!

Snark Levels: Rising

There has been a rise of late, imo, in regards to the levels of snark in storytelling. And not in the writer's voice, but in the characters. I feel like this is mostly in the self-pub YA genre??? Anyways, let me continue...

I'm not 100% ranting against snark. I like it. It's funny. There are times when I need some of those back-and-forth banters on a t-shirt.

But I'm going to be honest. It starts to get boring after non-stop snark for pages and pages...

We all want to make our books entertaining. We like it when readers quote the characters and want to put some of their quips on t-shirts and insta posts and all the bookish swag. I'm an author. I understand.

But there are other ways to provide humor and entertainment without resorting to nonstop snark and sarcastic humor. 

How to Write Humor: a quick crash course by me, Helena

First off, there are basically four kinds of humor in writing.

Word Humor - When a character says something funny, or when there is back and forth banter, or basically any kind of funny thing that someone says. A quip, a sarcastic comment, a quotable quote, you know what I mean.

Narrator Humor - Kind of like when the character says something, only it's the voice of the narrator. Obviously, this isn't found in every book, and it can be subtle, or boldly on the page.

Action Humor - When something funny happens. A character slips on a banana peel in mid-sentence. Spills soup all over an important document. Gets spit on by a llama. These are also fairly common, but usually fairly forgettable. Maybe the reader chuckles a little as they continue to read on.

Situational Humor - This is like action humor, but it builds up, until it becomes a complete "situation". This isn't a funny little single paragraph incident, but at least a page of building up before releasing an absolute bell-ringer of a Humorous Situation.

Secondly, why is snark (or Word Humor) on the rise?

Simply put, it's a quick and easy way to make readers smile. It makes them like the character(s), and it makes them laugh - two things you want for your book.

And with the rise in Social Media, book swag, and book crates, quippy one-liners can often be a big help in advertising.

"Never trust an assassin within six feet of a weapon."

Sounds cool, yah? It's got a hint of danger, and people see that on a bookmark or a t-shirt or opening a Bookstagram post, and they want to know more about the book the quote comes from.

But notice what I said. It's a "quick and easy" way... It's easy to write, especially when you get in that snark zone. The words are coming quickly and your fingers fly across the keyboard, and BOOM you've got the scene finished and it's so funny and okay, so maybe the characters just verbally sparred for three pages, but you got the plot more or less where it needs to be and readers are probably going to be laughing the whole time...

Third - why write Situational Humor?

Once the four types of humor existed in harmony...until the Snark attacked.

*clears throat*

We need to stretch our abilities and be able to write at least the three types of humor (the Narrator Humor, I'm not so concerned about).

We need to write Word Humor so it feels natural, not stiff. We need to write it so it sounds like something someone would say, and complete it with enough description and action beats for the writing to flow.

We need to write Action Humor so readers can clearly see what's happening, and be able to execute our narratives with professionalism. A good little "whoops, I just tripped" moment can add realism to our writing (and a laugh to our readers).

And we need to write Situational Humor because it expands our writing abilities, keeps our writing voice (and the plot) from growing too weary, and when done right, makes a book extremely memorable. Being able to successfully pull off SH can help strengthen our Word and Action Humor as well. How in the world does one even write situational humor?? Answers coming another blog post!

Guest Post: Brooke @ Words in Her Soul

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to Julian's blog! Isn't it pretty?

You may be wondering what this is about. Well, Julian was very kind to let me guest post about my blog relaunch. 

If you don't know me, HI! I'm Brooke from Words In Her Soul. I have been blogging for years, but only a year and a half at Words In Her Soul. I've been going back and forth on keeping up with blogging, but I decided to do a complete rebranding.

What does this rebranding include?


First, allow me to introduce myself a little. 

I am the Indie author to a YA dystopian/Contemporary novel, How We Rise. I am also a writer, poet, and blogger. 

The main things I will be discussing on my blog are:

- Indie Publishing

- Writing Tips and Advice

- Book Reviews/ Bookish posts

- Mental Health

I am very passionate about all of these things and want to share my knowledge with the world. I hope my blog can be a little sparkle and sunshine to your day!

I will be posting every other week, meaning two posts a month, but I can't rule out extra posts in the future.

Thank you, Julian, for having me on your blog and for joining in the blog tour! 

And thank you, lovely reader, for taking the time to get to know me! I hope you decide to follow me over at my blog, Words In Her Soul

Stay Amazing!

~ Brooke

Writing is a Journey

You ever wish you could wave your hand and all those assorted stories and plot bunnies and random ideas would just...materialize into fully formed books, already printed and bound in hardback copies, perfect to place on your shelf?

Yeah, that would be amazing.

(Suppose I could settle for some paperbacks, though, if that was the only caveat.)

But if we could snap our fingers and just have them all be *poof* done...they wouldn't be quite as special.

I will always remember drafting Sins, Sons, and Siren Songs during the Covid-19 crises, typing my chapter up in Google Docs while Sarah hovers on the other side of the screen, watching each word go up as I type.

I will always remember reading old drafts of Words of Gold and loving the scenes that will never make it into a final draft...but are so sweet and powerful and beautiful.

I will always remember the snippets, the character journals, the personal fanfics of my own stories...where would they be if I just snapped my fingers and made the finished project?

Sometimes we can grow impatient with how long things take. But enjoy the journey. Enjoy the little memories that spring up alongside the path. Enjoy writing

Of Gold and Iron Cover Reveal

 So I'm a few days late to the party, but I have been out of town the past few days and didn't have time to get a blog post prepared. But I still had to share the cover for Nikki's latest book because it's sooooo pretty!

Feast your eyes on this!

If that cover isn't exciting enough, here's the blurb:

“Swear on something else. Swear on your humanity.”

I suddenly find it very hard to swallow. My humanity? With a jolt I realize that there are far greater things at risk here than just my life. I’m in the faerie world, anything could happen. Even immortality.

The Otherworld is the home of the faeries, deceitful, decadent, and deadly. As the next in line to be-come Guardians, Jaye and her brother Thomas are tasked with defending the human world from all things magical. But when a routine scouting mission ends with them trapped in the Otherworld, it becomes pain-fully clear that someone doesn’t want them to leave the world of the faeries. Determined to not become an immortal’s pawn, Jaye kidnaps Ravven Crowe, an arrogant solitary faerie, so that he can guide them safely home. But things quickly go from bad to worse when they are captured by the Winter Court and embroiled in a plot to start a faerie civil war. Thomas is enslaved by an Unseelie faerie, and it seems that the only way to save her brother and avoid a war is for Jaye to ally herself with Ravven.

The faeries are governed by a set of strict laws. For their own safety, the Guardians have their own rules. But with Thomas’s life hanging in the balance there is only one way to save him that does not include breaking the faerie’s Fair Law, a crime that ends in death. Together Jaye and Ravven must compete in a series of deadly tests given by the faerie courts in order to earn Jaye the right to be named the Fair Assassin and wield the Blade of Gold and Iron. As the Fair Assassin she will be permitted to kill any faerie she so chooses, but first she has to live long enough. Walking a fine line between destruction and further entanglement with Crowe, Jaye is going to have to break her own rules if she wants to win. She must trust a faerie. Her life and humanity depend on it. 

(Okay, so maybe I'm a little curious to see if Nikki stole the name Ravven from my character Ravin, one of the MC's in Ships, Secrets, and Survivors, but I'll not file for compensation or anything...)

If you want to know more about the book, check out Nikki's blog or add the book to your Goodreads lists!