“The Mermaid’s Sister” by Carrie Anne Noble Review

Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook version of this book.

The Mermaid's SisterThe Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say about this book? A lot really. I absolutely loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it!

You know how we always read stories where the main character is the chosen one, the magical one, or the one all the adventures are about? I was interested in this story for the very thing it’s not.

Auntie, the guardian of two young teenagers, tells the story a hundred times – perhaps more – for they love to hear it. She raised two girls from babes. The first arrived in a conch shell. The second was delivered to her doorstep by a stork. When Maren starts becoming a mermaid, it is up to her sister Clara, the stork’s delivery, and their childhood friend, O’Neill, to take her to the ocean where she belongs.

Clara is an ordinary girl in a lot of ways – beyond her odd stork-ish beginnings. She loves her family, loves a boy she realizes loves her sister and hates herself for her jealousy and her love, and she doesn’t believe in herself. She isn’t brave. She isn’t as beautiful as Maren. She fully believes she might become a stork, as her sister is becoming a mermaid. She is full of doubt and modesty, but beyond that, she is a loving and caring soul. She’ll do anything to save her sister. She’ll doubt herself along the way, but she will do everything humanly possible to see her sister returned to the sea.

That’s one of the things I loved about this book. Maren was a mermaid, a fantastical creature. O’Neill and his father, Scarf, were traveling people who sold their wares and told fantastical stories and played a bit of magic or tricks. Auntie was a healer with a bit of fae blood and able to cure anyone of any ailment they had. It was Clara who was the most ordinary of them all, unless you want to count her friendship with their pet wyvern, Ausbert. So many times, the main character is someone who is magical themselves, and it was so refreshing to have someone who wasn’t as fantastical as those around them – and still managed to find a way to use their skills to keep themselves out of trouble.

And trouble did indeed find them as they journeyed from the mountainside in their attempt to return Maren to the sea from which she came. Who wouldn’t expect trouble when one travels with a mermaid? Again, these troubles were – in their own way – magical and odd, and Clara was still the most ordinary among the people surrounding her.

I loved that there was no real love triangle. There was the possibility of such, but Clara’s feelings were always clear, even if she did try to deny the way she felt about one of them as she believed (with all her heart) that he belonged to someone else. She never led either boy on, and it was fantastic because it allowed us to see more of her personality. Her loyalty to her friends and her sister and her own feelings was amazing. No one could sway her in her emotions. She hid them from some, mainly the young man she had feelings for, but when the other young man tried to draw her out, tried to turn her affections toward him, she spurned him, and she spurned him hard. It was amazing.

There was so much faith and love and promises and magic and music and stories in this tale. It was, by all rights, a magical piece of storytelling that I can’t wait to read again.

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Writing Projects in 2018

0000HelloDragonlings!

In my last Shifters & Mages update, I mentioned that I didn’t want to publish the Shifters & Mages series until I was sure it was nearly ready to go, and I don’t, but one of the major hang-ups with that series is the fact that I don’t have covers for it currently.

There are other stories I’ve been working with off and on that do have covers though, and I think it’s high time to start working on them more seriously. So while my main focus will be on re-writes and edits for the Shifters & Mages series, I also want to work on other projects as well in 2018.

Weres Trilogy

Come the end of January, I’ll have the third cover for this series. I currently have two, neither of which I’m revealing… yet. These novels are outlined, and the first draft of the second one (the one I don’t have a cover for; go figure) is written – only because that was the idea that smacked me in the face during NaNoWriMo and demanded it be written.

Packless
Broken Laws
Wereling

Surrender

This is a contemporary romance I purchased covers for a couple years ago, but never finished writing. The first draft of the first book is written, but it needs a complete re-write. Then the rest of the series (outlined) needs to be written.

Hold Me Now
Leave Me Never
Say You’ll Stay
With Me Forever

I haven’t yet decided if I’ll publish them under the name “Skye Hegyes” or “S.D. Hegyes”. The paranormal romances will be under the name S.D. Hegyes, but I don’t know if I want both genres published under the same name or not. What do you think?

Stand Alones and Anthologies

Endless Starry Nights
A contemporary romance I already have a cover for. The first draft is written, but it needs a heavy re-write.

Moon Blessed
An LGBT anthology I have a cover for. This will have four short stories revolving around the moon and includes the short story, “Changeling”, which was originally published in the anthology Myths Untold: Faery.

Fur, Teeth, & Claws
I bought this cover on a whim, but I don’t really have a story idea for it. There’s a couple that could work for it, but I haven’t decided yet. Until I do, this one is on the back burner. At the time of purchase, I had an exact book in mind, but that project has since fallen apart as the research and the idea itself weren’t meshing. I may, in the future, pick a couple of random ideas and create a poll and let my fans decide what story I should write for this cover.

Writing Schedule

This is the hardest thing for me to do because of how busy my life seems to stay. I seem to do really good some months and others I do next-to-no writing. November and December are proof of that. I wrote 90K words in November and I haven’t written even half that in December.

My main focus will be the Shifters & Mages series because I know I want to get those published in 2018, but I’d also like to get a good chunk of work done (if not all of it done) on the Weres Trilogy since I’ll have covers completed for them. After that, I want to go ahead and try to finish the rest of the books I have covers for (except maybe Fur, Teeth, & Claws since I don’t have a set idea for it yet). You know… So I can start buying more covers for other ideas.

I plan on writing at least 1K a day Monday through Friday. I want to start treating it like a real job. If I write more, especially now that I have Dragon Naturally Speaking up and running well again (Yay! I fixed it!), then great, but I’ll be happy if I can get 1K in per day during the workweek. Yes, even holidays. (My five-year anniversary is on a Thursday. Justin can play video games while I write.)

This is not only about making it a habit, but turning my writing into a career, and it’s time for me to get serious about that. Don’t you think?

0000ThanksDragonlings!

Long Books Or Short Books?

0000HelloDragonlings!

Do you like short books or long books? Do you want something like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, or do you want Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin?

Me? I actually prefer shorter books. And stand alone novels. Maybe I’m weird, but that’s what I like – a mouthful of story I can read in a short period of time. I think that’s why I like short stories so much.

I’m also discovering that’s what I like to write as well. I am looking over the plots of several “novels” I have planned out, and if my word counts for those outlines come out anything like the books I’ve finished in the past, they will not be novels, but novellas.

And while most people wouldn’t like that, I’m finding I’m OK with it. I don’t want to write really long novels. I want to write shorter novels (novellas). Like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton or Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut or any of the Harliquin romance novels. I want to be writing the stories that someone who doesn’t usually read can read in a couple of days and those who read all the time can read in a couple of hours.

These are the kinds of stories that make me happy usually. It’s actually been one of my biggest complaints about some of the romance novels I’ve read and even some of the fantasy ones too. Some of them have a lot of material I feel could have been cut and it would still be a compelling story, albeit a lot shorter.

I find that a lot of my first drafts are between 30-40K, and then I work through them to add more, but I don’t really want to do that. This is what I was trying to do with Hunters’ Betrayal and it fought be every step of the way until I gave in and made it a novella. Then, and only then, did everything finally click into place and then I did the same with Warren’s Rage and Scott’s Investigation.

Instead of trying to increase my word count, I want to try just strengthening and tightening the writing I have and publish shorter works.

What do you think? Do you like longer novels or shorter novels? Why (or why not)? Let me know below.

0000ThanksDragonlings!

Shifters & Mages Update #9

0000HelloDragonlings!

The Shifters & Mages series has gone through many changes as I’ve worked on it, but I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on it. In a past update claimed it would be four books and that the first would publish in March.

Well… It’s not. It won’t be ready for publication by March. The whole series won’t be ready. I want to do this series justice, and I want to release them quickly so that the voracious readers will have something to munch on fairly quickly. I’ll have drafts completed and done. Right now I only have three re-writes and a draft to finish, but that’s not the point. What’s hurting me now is making sure I’m able to get them edited and covers made in time to release them. I can do one, but not both.

I do plan on having covers in the process starting in January. I have a cover designer and we have discussed the series (although not in great detail) so we have a plan of action. I plan on attempting to get one or two covers a month until I have all six.

Yes. You heard that right. Six.

While editing Jenna’s Story, it occurred to me that since separating the two narratives and changing some other things, that a lot of what worked in the original draft of the novel no longer worked. I ended up cutting a lot of it. It was around 52K just taking out the second narrative, but I shortened it even further, finally bringing it down to about 30K with this final re-write.

And that gave me an idea. I’d like to get this series to be mostly novellas. It already was anyway.

Original Series Layout

Puck’s Choice – 72K
Jenna’s Story – 72K
Untitled Novella Collection – 75K (Warren’s Rage, Hunters’ Betrayal, and Scott’s Investigation)
Mages’ Sacrifice – 72K

New Series Layout

Hunters’ Betrayal – 25-30K (after re-write)
Puck’s Choice – 72K
Warren’s Rage – 25-30K (after re-write)
Scott’s Investigation -25-30K (after re-write)
Jenna’s Story – 30K
Mages’ Sacrifice – 70-80K (after first draft)

Because of the number and the length of the novellas, I no longer feel comfortable releasing them as one collection. I will probably still make an ebook omnibus for them in the future, but I’ll be releasing them individually as well, so that they can be read in order of occurrence.

Another thing I’d like to do is write a few short stories (this is a far future project AFTER the rest of the series releases) from some of the other characters’ POVs – Myles, Jay, Gem, etc. I have some vague ideas for those, and they’ll probably be here on my site for free until I have enough to create an entire collection, at which point, I’ll create an anthology. This is still a far future plan and may change though depending on what readers decide they want – or if I’m willing to dive back into the world after I finally leave it… Because, let’s face it. I’ve been in this world nearly ten years (off and on since 2009 when I wrote the first draft of Puck’s Choice), and I’m ready for something different to be honest.

My plan is to finish the re-write of Hunters’ Betrayal this month, and get it to my editor sometime early February after I’ve had another edit of it. I’ll have a cover by that time too, and hope to do a cover reveal then.

After Hunters’ Betrayal is complete, I’ll focus on Warren’s Rage, which will need a series edit/re-write. I was in a hurry when I wrote it, and in my mind right now it’s complete and utter crap. I have decided that I don’t like writing villians. I have a bias of hate for Warren and can’t relate to him enough to write his story correctly, but I will suffer through it because his story connects some of the dots and answers some of the questions I’ve been asked about Puck’s Choice. I hope to have a cover for Puck’s Choice in March (while Warren’s Rage is being edited) and Warren’s Rage in April.

The last re-write I need to do is Scott’s Investigation, which I don’t like the title of… still… I’ll need to come up with something better before I get a cover for it in May. Editing for this one will also probably take place in May as my editor is also a writer, and I’m not certain if she plans on taking part in Camp NaNo or not. It’s not something we’ve discussed yet.

I still have to finish the first draft of Mages’ Sacrifice and when I start working on this again, I’ll be comfortable enough to come up with a new release schedule. The one I’ve mentioned in the past will no longer work, as I won’t have the books ready. I was hoping to. Seriously hoping to, but if I’m realistic, I won’t. There’s too many factors out of my control on the matter. They will all get published next year (2018). I do know that. I just don’t have any exact dates yet and won’t give any until I’m comfortable with where the books are with covers and editing in order to talk about it further than that.

For those of you patiently awaiting this series, I applaud and appreciate you. You are amazing, and I hope you love it. I sincerely do. We’re almost there. I can feel it.

0000ThanksDragonlings!

Previously on Shifters & Mages Updates: Update # 8

2017 NaNoWriMo Update #2

0000HelloDragonlings!

NaNoWriMo is over in about three days. Yeah. It’s happening… *internal screaming*

I’ve actually won, but I did so working on multiple different projects, and while I’d planned on working on two projects, other projects reared their heads and demanded to be worked on.

First, the stats!

2017NaNoWriMoWinner

Next, the projects!

Mages’ Sacrifice (Shifters & Mages, book 4)
Nicky, head of the Council, has betrayed them, but before any of them can get their hands on her, she vanishes and no one, not even Myles, can find her. Puck is preparing for what feels like will be the final battle against the Hunters, but her mage-partner, Cassie, seems to be hiding something from her, and if she can’t figure out what it is before it’s too late, it could be the end of everything as they know it.

“Solace” (a Moon Blessed story)
When Brijit, a serving maid, seeks solace at the fountain one evening, she meets K’la, a gargoyle and lone guardian of the castle. They strike up a quick friendship, but betrayal threatens their friendship when Lord Devin learns of the gargoyle and seeks her assistance in taking over the throne.

Broken Laws (Werelings, book 2)
Clara is a filmographer hired to follow a triathlon star as she trains for her next big race, but when she’s pulled over and accused of stalking, her world takes a turn for the worst. Braden is different than the rest of the werelings in his Pack. An officer of human law first and a follower of Pack laws second, he has trouble following the rules of his people when his brother pulls a heinous stunt in human laws that’s perfectly allowable in Pack laws.

Lastly, updates!

Shifters & Mages series

I am unhappy with this series overall. I’ve been getting writing done. Heck, Puck’s Choice is ready for publication as soon as I get a cover for it. However, the rest of the series is in shambles. Why? Because I keep cutting pieces from one book to put in another. (This is why I originally wanted Puck’s Choice to be a friggin’ stand-alone. *growls*)

Development of the series has changed over the years. Originally, it was a stand-alone, and then Jenna popped up her head and said, “Hey! What about me?!?” so I turned it into a series that was supposed to have five books. Then it turned into three novels and three novellas. Now, it looks like it’s changing again.

Yes… again…

The more I tried to work in a Hunter subplot for Jenna’s Story, the more I felt like I was just adding fluff to thicken it from novella length to novel length, and I hated it. So, I took out that subplot and I’ll be turning it into another novella.

That means the Shifters & Mages series will end up being two novels and four novellas. *headdesk* Seriously? Seriously, series? I mean, come on!

On top of that, I decided that I’d take out the dual personalities of Hunters’ Betrayal as well. It started off in Rand’s perspective, flipped back to before the Salem Witch Trials to Michael’s perspective, and finally back again, but now it’s just in Michael’s perspective. That said, the length of the novellas are changing. There were supposed to be three novellas, all around 25,000 words, but I felt like I was forcing Warren’s Rage to be that length, and now I can breathe again, because I feel like I can cut a lot of fluff from it now.

At the moment, after all these edits, the works are sitting at the following progresses:

  • Puck’s Choice (73K) – ready for publication
  • Jenna’s Story (53K) – needs complete re-write
  • Warren’s Rage (26K) – needs edit
  • Hunters’ Betrayal (17K) – needs edit
  • Scott’s Investigation (17K) – needs complete re-write
  • Mages’ Sacrifice (38K) – writing first draft

There’s a lot of differences in all those word counts. I have a feeling that when I finish the re-writes of Jenna’s Story and Scott’s Investigation, they’ll end up being around 20K or so. There’s a lot of things I think could be dropped from Jenna’s Story, and thanks to some ideas I had for the end of Hunters’ Betrayal, I need to cut a lot from it in order to make it make sense with the rest of the series.

Basically, I have my work cut out for me, and I have to play Doctor Frankenstein for a bit. I’m starting to understand what P. T. Wyant means when she talks about cutting and splicing and editing her multi-book (I think it’s up to thirteen novels) series. I’m so glad I don’t have that many books in this series. I’m struggling with the ones I have.

Because, let’s face it, this is a bit disheartening. I thought I was nearly done with the series, and… I’m not. Can I get done in the time I wanted to? That’s a good question… I’m not sure.

That said, I’m leaving my release dates up in the air now. I don’t know when the series will be ready for editing because I don’t know when the next book will be ready for edits. Because I don’t know when they’ll be ready for edits, I don’t know when they’ll be ready for publication. *le sigh*

Wereling Trilogy

This is a series I’ve been keeping hush-hush since I switched to this site. It was something I wanted to start a couple of years ago based off a short story I wrote… so long ago I can’t remember when.

Packless
I have a cover for this and a basic blurb and outline for this novella. I’m not certain how long it will be, but the goal is to be between 20-45K. This will be based on ancient Greek times and features Aesop.

Broken Laws
I started writing this one for NaNoWriMo this year, and currently, it’s sitting at 35K. I’m not happy with the direction it took, and I need it to end a certain way to flow into the next book. I expect the re-written version will be anywhere from 35K-45K. This is the only title in the series I don’t have a cover for, but I’m working on it.

Wereling
This is basically a re-write of the original short story with more character development and more backstory. It’s going to be the last in the trilogy, and I also expect it to be somewhere between 35-45K, but I already have a cover for it, so once it’s done, I’ll be ready to publish.

Moon Blessed

This is the LGBT anthology I wanted to hand-write during NaNoWriMo. I worked on it the first two days, but then didn’t the rest of the month. I do plan on finishing them in handwritten form before typing them up, but for now, they’re still on the to-do list.

  • Changeling – ready for anthology inclusion
  • Solace – writing first draft
  • Moonlight Dance – need to write
  • – need to write

Since I already have a cover for this anthology, I just need to write, edit and publish this anthology, and I’m hoping to do that some time in 2018. Guess that means I need to get to work.

I have gotten a lot done this month, but I also have a lot of work to do. Bring it on.

0000ThanksDragonlings!

Fruits Basket Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya

Friday Feature

Fruits Basket Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya

A family with an ancient curse…

And the girl who will change their lives forever…

Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home. Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets.

About the Author

Natsuki Takaya (高屋 奈月 Takaya Natsuki, real name Naka Hatake) is the penname of a Japanese manga artist best-known for creating the series Fruits Basket. She was born on July 7, 1973; (Tanabata). Takaya is left-handed and once revealed that she wanted to be a mangaka since first grade, when her sister started drawing.

She was born in Shizuoka, Japan, but was raised in Tokyo, where she made her debut in 1992. She enjoys video games such as the Final Fantasy series or Sakura Wars, or working on her different manga series, such as Fruits Basket, which is the second best-selling shōjo manga ever in Japan, and the top selling shōjo manga in North America. Fruits Basket has also been adapted into a twenty-six-episode anime series.

In 2001, Takaya received a Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo manga for Fruits Basket.

According to Takaya (in a sidebar of a Fruits Basket manga volume), she enjoys drawing girls (girly ones) more than she does boys. Takaya also enjoys electronics and music, but dislikes talking about herself. Also revealed in a sidebar of Fruits Basket, Takaya broke her drawing arm (left) after Fruits Basket volume six was published. She had to go into surgery, and as a result, had put Fruits Basket on a brief hiatus. Takaya made a full recovery, but complains that her handwriting had gotten uglier, due to the surgery. During her hospital stay, she gained an interest in baseball.

Disclaimer: All images pulled from Goodreads and Amazon.

UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn

Friday Feature

UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated; until she saves her crush’s life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it’s next fairytale victim.

To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.

About the Author

Chanda Hahn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Reign An Unfortunate Fairy Tale. She was born in Seattle, WA, grew up in Nebraska and currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their twin children. She attended North Central University in Minneapolis Minnesota for Childrens Ministry. She was also a children’s pastor, bookseller and children’s librarian.

Books published by Chanda include the UnEnchanted series a.k.a. (Unfortunate Fairy Tale Series) and The Iron Butterfly series.

Disclaimer: All images pulled from Goodreads and Amazon.