Thursday, June 29, 2017

Summer Life Update // Typewriters, Trampolines, and Trips

HELLO, PEEPS. Once again, I've been scrounging for things to post about. Life has been crazy this summer, and frankly, I haven't had a ton of time to work on blogging. After sifting through my pile of blog post drafts, I finally decided to do something incredibly original: a life update.

I'm so creative, aren't I? *rolls eyes*

In a way, I'm allllmost doing a monthly recap? But I'm not calling it that because then I might feel obligated to continue monthly recaps if I do. AND RECAPS APPARENTLY STRESS ME OUT A LOT?? So if you're wondering what the heck happened to Frabjous Finalities...that's what happened. And if you're NOT wondering, well...

Before I put you to sleep, let's get on with the actual update. ;)

|| L A T E L Y ||


+ Way too many movies, honestly.

+ Oh, that's not an answer? (Picky, picky...)

+ ALL THE ANIMATED MOVIES. Yes! In the past month or so, I've watched The Little Prince, Finding Dory, The Emperor's New Groove, The Peanuts Movie, and Moana. And I basically loved all of them. The Little Prince made me cry so hard. Golly, that movie was so touching. I'm honestly not sure if I liked it more or the book--they were both amazing. And Finding Dory? PRECIOUS. Way better than I thought it would be! Not to mention my latest find, Moana. I'M NOT ADDICTED TO THE SOUNDTRACK AT ALL, NOPE. #lies


+ That Darn Cat! It's rather ridiculous how much I love this movie. It's one of my favorite oldies. Full of humor, fun characters, great costumes, and an engaging's just the best. If you haven't seen it before, YOU SHOULD.


+ Pete's Dragon. AHHHHH. This film was the best. It just felt nostalgic and cozy and somehow PERFECT. I don't know how to explain it, really. But in case you need a solid reason to see it, there is a dragon. There. Nuff said. (And the songs played in this movie have become favorite of mine. <3)


+ My Fair Lady. I couldn't stand this one? I know it's a beloved musical by a lot of people, but none of the characters were likable. It had a terrible ending. There was lots of language (thankfully filtered). HENRY HIGGINS WAS THE WORST. Ughhhhh. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. But in its favor, it did have some catchy tunes and great costumes. *shrugs*



+ I FINISHED MY SHORT STORY!!! Yep, the steampunk short story has been completed. It's titled "Along the Lines of Lawbreaking," which I rather like. As a good friend of mine said, it hints at some of the snarkiness contained in the story. ;) 

+ I began plotting my Five Poisoned Apples entry. I did a whole post about it last week, in case you missed that. I haven't done chapter-by-chapter plotting, but I might do some before NaNo starts in TWO DAYS. Yipes. I'm definitely running out of time to plot. :P

+ I wrote another poem, which you can read on my other blog.


+ Green smoothies. I've become "that person" who makes green smoothies now. XD Surprisingly, they taste really good. (I was skeptical of all the people saying you "couldn't taste the vegetables." I thought they were lying just to make you eat veggies, haha. BUT IT'S ACTUALLY LEGIT. I couldn't even taste any of the spinach,--seriously.)

+ Besides healthy food, I've also had flatbread pizza. YUM. 

Oh, best friends for LIFE.


+ I wrote an entire post about this here, so I'll just link to that because I'm lazy efficient.

+ Folk music. Oh yes, I've really gotten into folk music lately. Specifically some songs by The Oh Hellos, Gray Havens, and The Lumineers. I haven't listened to all their music, so I hesitate to recommend them...but all the songs on my playlists are great. :)

+ Jazz. Because duh, summer. I love classic jazz music; it just makes me think of dusk and porch lights and lemonade and fireflies. <3


*cackles* THE TIME HAS COME TO TALK OF BOOKS. I've been reading up a storm this summer.

+ Rereads: Paper Crowns, Chasing Jupiter, and The Penderwicks. ALL SO GOOD GAHHH. I would 10000% recommend them to everyone. They're perfect summer reads, and some of my favorite books of all time.

+ The Lost Girl of Astor Street. This one was so good! It's a historical mystery that takes place in the 1920s. The characters are FABULOUS, and I love the setting. 

+ The Voyage to Magical North. *blows a fanfare* THIS BOOK WAS THE BEST. It's everything I love in a book: pirates, magic, humor, and great characters. EVERYONE MUST READ THIS. I actually gave it five stars, which is a high honor. I only give the finest books a solid 5 stars.

+ Summerlost, Hope Was Here, The Distance Between Us. All of these books were "okay." I honestly didn't care much for any of them? *shrugs* If you're curious, I reviewed them all on Goodreads.

+ The Illusionist's Apprentice. SO. MANY. MIXED. FEELINGS. I thought for sure this would be one of my favorite books ever...but then the ending happened. I AM STILL CONFUSED A WEEK LATER. I guess the mystery just makes zero sense to me? #clueless BUT I rated it 4 stars anyway because the characters and writing style and setting were amazing.

+ Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors. Ehhhh...nope. I didn't like this very much. *shakes head* It was boring and confusing and not at all what I thought it would be. :P

+ In conclusion? Most of my good books have been rereads. A few good new books, but only one that screamed awesome at me. But hey, I have read ten books this month. I can't remember ever reading that many!

Emperor's New Groove Disney Characters


+ Relieved. I finally booked my airplane tickets for Realm Makers! YES!! That is a huge relief to me. I've been rather worried about it for the past couple months, and we finally found decently priced tickets. God has definitely been gracious in helping us with this!

+ Busy. VERY BUSY. Life has been insane--no joke, it's even busier than the school year. Thankfully, it's a good kind of busy, but summer still seems to be going by way too fast. SOMEONE PLEASE SLOW DOWN TIME THANKS.

+ Excited. What with my plans for Realm Makers set, a sleepover with my bestie tonight, and an upcoming road trip, I've been feeling really excited today. Lots of fun things on the horizon! As the title suggests, we are taking a road trip next month. We're going to the Smoky Mountains and stopping at some places on the way. It should be a ton of fun and hopefully very relaxing. Our vacations tend to end up crammed and stressful, so we're making an effort to enjoy the journey this time around.


+ I GOT A TYPEWRITER. AHHHHHHHHH. I'm super excited about it! I've actually had it for about two weeks now? I'll share some pictures of it in a later post, but it's awesome. I got it for only 5 dollars and it actually works. It's my first typewriter, and I've been wanting one for ages. SO MUCH EXCITEMENT.

+ I went to a trampoline park! Omw, that was the best. My best friend and I were SO SORE afterwards, but it was worth it. I want to go again before the summer is through because we had a blast. (It did take me like a full week till my back was normal, though. #ouch XP)

+ I'm thinking about getting a ukulele. Actually, I'm almost positive I'll get one. My friend just purchased a uke, and we're thinking about learning together. IT'S GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN. Once I see hers, I'll most likely decide whether or not to buy one. 


+ Fourth of July is coming up! I know that everyone has a fourth of July (I mean, it's part of the calendar for everyone, haha), but this is Independence Day for us Americans. AND I'M VERY EXCITED. It's one of my favorite holidays, so I always look forward to it.

/ / /

Well, I think that's about it. Like I said, LIFE = ALL THE CRAZY. I feel like there's so much to update you guys on!

How is your summer going so far? Have you read any good books? Any trips planned? I must know everythingggg. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Introducing My July '17 Camp NaNo Project // Behind the Velvet Curtain

It's that time of year again! It seems like just yesterday that I was doing Camp NaNo...but it's actually been two months since it ended?? Somebody please explain this phenomenon.

In light of the fact that July and Camp NaNo are almost upon us, I've decided to introduce my project. YES, I'M DOING IT EARLY YAY ME. ("Early" as in nine days before July, rather than one. :P)

July Camp is definitely really special to me. Last July was my first time ever doing a NaNoWriMo event of any kind, and I completely fell in love with it. I had a FANTASTIC cabin (and I only knew, like, two of the people in there when I joined XD), and it really stirred up the creative juices for my story. I started a fresh draft of Moonlit Mirror with no clue what I was doing. And thus my glitter-coated, squirrel-ridden story began. ;)

As is my tendency, I didn't commit to doing Camp until about a week or two before. *rolls eyes* SERIOUSLY. We all know I'm going to end up doing it. :P My goal is a little lower this time around at 20k, mostly because I have two trips planned for July so it's going to be pretty busy. I might end up writing more than 20k? Or not? I honestly have no clue. I just decided to set it lower so there wouldn't be any stress. (HAHAHA that's a good one, Mary. No stress. Hilarious.)

AHEM. Anywayyyy, back to the main point of this post. *reroutes train of thought*

Would you all like to see what I'm doing for Camp?




*crickets chirp in the distance*

Oh well, you're going to find out even if you don't want to. :P

Behind the Velvet Curtain

Some curtains should never be lifted.

Adelia is counting down the days until she is finally free of her job as the magician's assistant. And when a young journalist rolls into town with the offer of a lifetime, she dares to hope her dream will be realized. The only thing that might shatter her hopes is the unusual mirror in her possession. When the mirror shows more than just her reflection, Adelia begins to wonder if legerdemain extends past the stage.

Life is determined to make Theodore bleed. One morning, he wakes up in an orphanage with no memory of how he got there. He runs away to join the circus and there discovers his two passions in life: the violin and performing. But with his impaired eyesight, he has no hopes of pursuing a professional career. He has no memory of his past and no prospects for the future . . . until a woman in an airship shows up at his door.

They say the world is a stage. But in the mist-shrouded society of England, some curtains should remain closed.

/ / /

*makes strangled squealing sounds* I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS STORY. I actually think the synopsis turned out great. And I'm not going to lie, writing synopses is so much fun for me. I don't know why, haha.

Technically, I "should be" editing Moonlit Mirror or finishing The Scent of the Sun (which I didn't finish last month as I planned). BUT WHO CARES. I got this story nugget, and I couldn't resist the temptation. :P

Behind the Velvet Curtain is the tentative title right now. I quite like it, but I'm not sure if it's totally what I'm looking for. It's going to be a historical/steampunk/fantasy novel...kinda difficult to describe. XD And and and! IT'S MY SNOW WHITE RETELLING!! Yes, I'm planning on entering the awesome Rooglewood Press contest. I know it doesn't seem very much like Snow White, but trust me, you'll recognize some of the elements from the story if you read it. ;)

I will hopefully be writing the entire novella during July, but I'm thinking about also writing another steampunk short story during July as well. Remember that one unnamed short story I've been posting snippets of on my blog? Well, it's done. And now I just want to write a bunch more and make a short story collection. If that happens, I miiiiight even open it up for beta readers. MAYBE. (By the way, my short story has a title now...and I sent part of it to an author for a critique. *dies* We'll see how that goes. o.o)


aes// shadows. moonlight. velvet curtains. silver combs. white doves. lace. top hats. striped tents. cold metal. gilded mirrors. circus wagons. fog. stagecoaches. rosined bows. playing cards. waistcoats. buttons. phonographs. rain-streaked windows. clicking typewriters. smell of dust. 

This idea has just recently found its way to my brain, but I think that the plot is actually one of the most put-together ones I've concocted. (Note: plot is not my strong point normally.) I'm optimistic about this story, but we'll have to see how it plays out. It's kind of darker than my previous novels...but there will still be snark soooo yeah. ;)

Oh, and you can stalk my progress here, should you desire. I changed my username now, and I rather like it. *coughs*

What did you think of my synopsis? Do you enjoy writing synopses for your books? And are you entering the Five Poisoned Apples contest? YOU SHOULD. GO DO IT.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Cookie Book Tag //

(Ignore the fact that this picture was taken during Christmastime. I haven't gotten any cookie pictures since then. :P)

SALUTATIONS! I've been scraping for ideas the past few days (seriously, I was super desperate to come up with something), and I finally decided to do A Cookie Book Tag! I saw this on Shantelle's booktube channel last summer and it sprang to mind recently. This tag is genius, and you can thank My Bookcase and I for creating it. It looks so fun...because duh, cookies and books. 


So here's how the tag works. There are eight different cookies, and for each cookie, I pick a book to match the description. Don't worry, it will all make sense once I actually stop gabbing and get to the tag. *coughs*

|| A Cookie Book Tag ||

Chocolate Chip // A book that never gets old

Just one?? *dies* I have so many favorites that I could read over and over again and never stop loving them. <3

To narrow it down to three, I'll go with Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal, Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker, and Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. These are three of my FAVORITE books, and I literally just reread two of them this summer. If you haven't already, GO READ THESE BOOKS. *shoves them in your face*

Dutch Snowballs // A book that gave you an unexpected surprise

(I think these are the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey Kisses in the middle, just clarifying. ;))

I'm going to go with The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. There was so much hype surrounding this series that I honestly wasn't too excited about it. (I'm weird that way...when things are popular, I get rather skeptical, hehe.)

I'm happy to report that this book was FABULOUS. The entire series is, actually. There's sass and pirates and more sass and amazing characters and YET MORE SASS. this for the sass, people. XD

Molasses // A book with a character that gets in a sticky situation 

Um...every book ever?? Hehe. I think one of the crucial parts of a book is making sure there is conflict with the character's main goals...which means there will inevitably be some sort of sticky situation. (Admire my alliteration mastery, peasants.)

But if I had to pick one, I would go with llusionarium by Heather Dixon. The main character basically has four days (I think) to find a cure to a disease that is wiping out the entire female population. He's thrown into another world, and suddenly he has to figure out a way to save both realities.

Annnnd he has a cocky airpilot with him, and that makes things even stickier. *coughs*

Runner-up would be Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I mean, the main character is turned into an old woman and has to figure out how to reverse the spell so I'd say that's a rather uncomfortable situation to be in.

Oreo // A book dealing with the light and the darkness

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It's a classic, guys. Lewis was a genius at allegory--which, by the way, is not one of my favorite types of fantasy--and he created a magical world that just feels like home. Not as much as Middle-earth, but still very homey.

Sugar // A book with a sugary sweet villain

*scratches head* I think this is supposed to mean a villain that pretends to be good but is actually evil? Or something like that?

In that case, I'll go with The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The first one has this seriously messed-up person who fools everyone into thinking he's good...but is actually Very Evil. And Pride and Prejudice? You have Mr. Wickham--the guy who fools Elizabeth into thinking he's a "poor miserable soul" who had his life ruined by Darcy. *rolls eyes* Ugh.

Monster // A book that confused your emotions

By this point, I'm sure you've discovered I'm terrible at narrowing my choices to just one book. :P

Well, I've got two for you again: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde and Black by Ted Dekker. These are both books that I have very confused thoughts about. The Last Dragonslayer had a really disappointing ending, and Black was just...not my thing. But I still liked aspects of both books?? IT'S ALL VERY CONFUSING, HONESTLY.

Snickerdoodle // A book that made you laugh

I'm notorious for being the crazy person who laughs out loud randomly in her room while reading a book. Therefore, I have many books that make me laugh...a lot. But the first one that comes to mind is The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo. YOU GUYS. This book = alllllll the hilarity. There's a grumpy, sarcastic godfather who loves to bake. DOESN'T THAT SOUND AMAZING?? (Hint: it is.) I probably highlighted every other sentence while reading it on my Kindle.


Peanut Butter // A book with a nutty character

I have a bit of an obsession with nutty characters. Probably because I'm as nutty as crunchy peanut butter.

There are lots of nutty characters in the books I read, but Lady Moon by Rachel Starr Thomson has some of the nuttiest. They are so. much. fun. EVEN THE VILLAIN.

I love this book so much that I gave it the honor of being the first book I ever reviewed on my blog. AND I REALLY NEED TO REREAD IT ACTUALLY. It's one of my faaaaves.

/ / / 

Now for the lucky recipients of this tag! I know that I'm a tag pirate who, whenever she does a tag, ends up doing one she WASN'T tagged for to begin with (*COUGH*), but I'm still following some of the rules here and tagging people.

Tracey // Adventure Awaits
Faith // The Writer's Song
Lisa // Inkwell
Laura // An Odd Blog
Jonny // Fishing for Ideas
Deborah // The Road of a Writer
Victoria // Wanderer's Pen
Savannah // Scattered Scribblings

As always, there's no pressure to do this tag. Feel free to do what I do and wait months...or years...or forever to do it. Unlike real cookies, A Cookie Book Tag never goes stale. ;)

Have you read any of the books on my list? What is your favorite cookie? And do you have any book recommendations?? I'M DESPERATE FOR GOOD BOOKS. *dramatically faints*

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer Road Trip with My Characters //

In honor of summer, I have decided to do a fun post revolving around road trips. It's such an iconic thing to do during the summer, and I thought it would be fun if I could get some of my own characters involved in it. After all, who doesn't love a bunch of snarky characters thrown together in a car for thousands of miles? *coughs*

I'm going to be interviewing four different characters who will be going on a road trip together: Fiona (my steampunk short story), Lieutenant Bradshaw (Moonlit Mirror), Tom (Moonlit Mirror), and Felix (The Scent of the Sun).


This shall be fun. *rubs hands together and cackles*

// Charrie Road Trip Summer 2017 //

Who drives on the trip?

Lieutenant Bradshaw: Me, obviously. After all, I have an innate sense of direction.

Tom: *snorts* 

Lieutenant Bradshaw: *glares*

Fiona: Wait, drives what? The airship? 

Tom: No, the dragon.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: Don't you two know anything? We're taking a ship. That's the only way to go.

Felix: *rolls eyes* We're taking a motor vehicle, commonly known as a car. And since you three don't even know how to define it, I don't know how you expect me to put my life in your hands.

Tom: Oh well, I'd rather be in charge of the snacks anyway. 

*everyone groans*

What is your most essential item to bring on the trip?

Fiona: My aviator goggles. That is, if Steel didn't accidentally destroy them again.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: Totally worthless item anyway. Applause for him if he manages to properly dispose of them.

Fiona: Don't make me pull out my pistol, please.

Felix: I would bring all my books. You all just have to promise not to damage them. 

Lieutenant Bradshaw: Of course we won't...

Felix: I have the strangest feeling you don't mean that. No idea why. 

Tom: Uh, why hasn't anybody mentioned food yet? 


Tom: *grins* Of course!

Pick one song for your playlist.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: . . . 

Tom: . . .

Fiona: . . .

Felix: Oh please. Why was I thrown in a car with people from fantasy worlds? *facepalms* Just put on Beatles music. They need some culture.

What movie would you watch in the car?

Felix: Okay, remember how I briefed you all on movies? We watched a few together.

Tom: Ooh, ooh! I remember this! We watched Frozen!

*Lieutenant Bradshaw and Felix groan*

Fiona: Hey, I thought it was good.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: Says the one who watched Brave. Twice.

Fiona: You just didn't like it because Merida has better upper body strength than you do.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: I choose to credit that comment to your inherent lack of proper eyesight. 

Felix: Can we get back to the original question? Please?

Fiona: *sighs* Fineeee. I would probably pick Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

Lieutenant Bradshaw: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Even if I look much more handsome than every single pirate in that film. 

Fiona: *makes gagging sounds in the background*

Tom: How about Moana? Or The Lego Movie? Or A Bug's Life?

Felix: Ugh, I can tell this is going to be a long trip.

What snacks would you bring?

Tom: YES. Finally, the question I've been waiting for! I'd bring pumpersnap bread, vargalot sandwiches, razzlebets, and roasted berklon. Oh, and cake! And what about some vrock? And--

Felix: Stop before you make me nauseous.

Fiona: I don't know what over half that stuff is, but I'm afraid to ask.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: *smirks* What about glitter, Tom? 

Tom: *sticks out tongue*

Fiona: I'd bring roasted chicken. That's my favorite.

Felix: There is absolutely no "road trip" food on this list. What about the potato chips and granola bars? And we could bring a cooler with some lemonade to drink.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: How about I get all the cake, and you three go beg on the side of the road?

What is your destination?

Tom: The Royal City! They have cake fights.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: Decent idea, actually.

Fiona: OOH. Do they have pistols?

Felix: Let us pray they don't.

Tom: You know, we could also go back to the squirrel island. That was fun.

Felix: *raises eyebrows* Do I want to ask?

Fiona: I really don't think we want to know.

Felix: In terms of real destinations, I would say the Rocky Mountains or Mount Rainier. But do fictional worlds count? Narnia would be an ideal vacation spot.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: I'd much prefer to hop around various islands and thrill the residents with my charming personality.

Fiona: Somebody please get me a bucket to stick on this guy's head. 

How long is the trip? 

Tom: How about three months?

Everyone else: NOOOO. 

Felix: I think I'd go insane if the trip lasted more than four days.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: Why, are you unable to contain your jealousy of my good looks for very long?

Fiona: I think four hours is the maximum I can last. 

Felix: If only Peri were here...


Felix: The only reason I said that was because I want to see her as miserable as me.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: If she knows you, torture is already part of her daily life.

Fiona: *chuckles*

Felix: Oh, shut up. 

How would you pass the time on the way?

Fiona: By formulating a thousand different ways to murder Lieutenant Bradshaw.

Felix: Agreed.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: Oh, come now, that's not fair. I'm the driver.

Felix: Um, actually I am. So be careful what you say. 

Tom: I would look at all the different license plates! And eat.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: I would find ways to make myself look extremely dashing. Oh wait...I already am. 


Tom: Don't worry, Fiona, it's only 1,300 miles till we reach our destination. In the meantime, I can entertain you with all the magic skills James taught me.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: *glares* Absolutely not. I don't want you to end up blowing the car to bits or something.

Tom: No need to worry! James taught me everything he knows.

Lieutenant Bradshaw: That's precisely why I'm worried.

Felix: I know I'm technically the driver, but with all the bathroom breaks Tom takes, I will most likely get in some reading time.

Tom: See? I'm really helpful!

Lieutenant Bradshaw: *smirks*

/ / / 

Well, there you have it. Doesn't that road trip look fun? (Or dangerous. Take your pick. :P) 

Are you going on any road trips this summer? Which of these characters would you most want to have along for the ride? Should I do another post like this sometime?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

My Steampunk Short Story Pt. 2 // feat. explosions

Since the first part of my short story was so wildly popular (hey, I can pretend, can't I?), I decided to share the second part of my story this week! This is a bit of a longer section, but I hope you all like it. I'm currently working on finishing/editing my short story, so you may not get part 3 for a little while. JUST TAKE WHAT YOU CAN GET, OKAY?

It's still unnamed because darn it I have no idea what to call this story. It's name-defying. Anyone have ideas? BECAUSE I NEED HELP.

(Oh, and go read the first part if you haven't already. Otherwise this probably makes zero sense...or it still might make zero sense, I don't know.)

/ / /

“Remind me again why I’m the one who has to unleash explosives from the highest point in all of Legeria?” I asked.

Steel sighed and leaned dangerously close to the edge of the stationary airship balcony. “Look, Fiona, I told you. You’re shorter so you’ll be less noticeable on the roof—”

“Thanks for the reminder.”

“­—and you’ve dealt with explosives more so you’re less liable to kill everyone.”

“Wonderful,” I said sarcastically. “It’s nice to know that I’m holding the lives of all the citizens of Legeria in my hands.”

“Hey, I’m the one who has to trust you to lower me from a rope into the castle courtyard. Knowing you, you’ll probably let the rope ‘slip’ from your hands as some kind of twisted retribution for my prank.”

I had to laugh at that. He knew me so well.

Blowing on his gloves, he nodded. “Ready?”

I raised an eyebrow and fingered the coarse fibers of the rope. “The question is. . . are you ready?”

Steel glared, producing a big grin from me. “Sometimes I really wish you were a boy so I could hit you.”

“That’s never stopped you before.”

His eyes glinted in amusement. With a low grunt, he sat himself on the ledge and dangled his legs over the courtyard below. He tightened the knot around his waist, gave me a thumbs-up, and dropped into the empty expanse of air.

/ / /

The sun was just beginning to set when I reached the castle tower, satchel full of explosives in hand. I collapsed against the wall, my heart still pounding wildly. That encounter with the air guard patrol had been close. I would have to be more careful next time I docked my airship in a private lot with giant “NO TRESPASSING” signs posted everywhere. Fortunately, the press badge Steel had forged helped me gain access to the main gate. It was astonishing what security would allow for a chance to be in a newspaper article.

What was even more astonishing was the fact that I had made it through the entire castle without being stopped. It seemed everyone was so occupied with the queen’s birthday celebration that security was more lax than usual.

“These explosives should change that,” I muttered, a smile tugging at my lips as I opened the satchel. There were so many firecrackers in there that the seams of the bag had begun to stretch.

I crouched behind the wall, positioning myself so I could see into the castle courtyard. Steel should be back in a few minutes, if all went according to plan.

After about ten minutes of rubbing my hands together and checking my pocket watch, I picked up the sound of voices in the courtyard. Craning my neck, I made out the forms of about fifty people streaming towards the center of the courtyard. The citizens were just beginning to arrive.

My gaze found its way to the sky once again. The sun was dipping lower beneath the horizon. It was almost time.

Another ten minutes passed as the rest of the people gathered in the castle courtyard. I noted an abundance of guards, who were still not paying attention to much of anything. I smirked to myself, scarcely able to believe how fortuitous this was. Any other night and the armed guard would be on high alert; but Queen Amelia’s birthday was a huge event, and they seemed to get lost in the festivities. After all, who would dare invade the castle on such a night as this?

I shook my head at the irony of it all as the queen herself strode into the courtyard, a score of guards flanking her on both sides. Straightening, I grabbed my pair of binoculars from my belt and peered through the glass, focusing on the queen and her attendants. There she was, dressed in a rich blue vest atop a flowing white dress. The front of the gown hit her knees, and the longer train billowed behind her in the stiff autumn wind. Her black boots were laced mid-calf. She was wringing her hands, covered in fingerless silver gloves, and forcing a smile. I frowned, confused by her expression. Usually the queen didn’t seem this distracted.

I shifted my gaze to the right. There was Falston , her advisor, his dark hair slicked back, sideburns and mustache neatly trimmed. He patted Queen Amelia’s hand, and bent over to whisper something in her ear. The queen shook her head just slightly and seemed to take a deep breath before moving past her chief advisor.

As Queen Amelia began her typical address to the people, I scanned the ever-growing crowd for Steel. Where was he? He was supposed to grab the keys to Aerick’s cell, snag a guard’s uniform, and wait for me in the courtyard below.

Just my luck that he got killed or something, I thought, a bit of uninvited worry filtering into my annoyance.

That worry morphed into near-panic as the queen neared her conclusion, much faster than I expected. It was almost time for the balloon launch. If Steel didn’t show up soon, I would have to set off the explosives and find Aerick on my own. There was no way I could break him out of prison without the keys Steel was supposed to get.

There! My heart skipped a beat, relief flooding me as I spotted an armed guard slip into the far reaches of the crowd, near the entrance to the inner court. He had made it.

His gaze casually surveyed the towers overhead. When his hazel eyes landed on me, he gave me a slight grin and nodded.

That was all I needed. The queen was done with her speech now, and it was time to act.

Glancing at the sky to make sure it was clear of aircraft, I hauled a fist-sized amount of firecrackers from the satchel and grabbed the pack of matches from my pocket. Striking one, I began to light each of the fuses, propping up the firecrackers against the wall and hurriedly moving down the line. Already the firecrackers were about to go off. I wouldn’t have enough time to light them all.

I snatched my satchel from the ground. I scurried toward the door to the inside of the castle and bolted through the entrance just as the firecrackers began to go off . The ruckus was louder than I expected, especially since I had made a point not to use the loud ones. Curious, I cracked the door open again. The sky was alight with fire, nearly blinding me.


Blazing heat singed the hair on my arms as a ginormous ball of light exploded in the night sky. Stumbling back a step, I slammed the door shut and collapsed against it. My heart trembled in my chest, and my ears rang with the sound of explosions.

I’d been a pilot long enough to realize that was no firecracker; that was an airship.

But I hadn’t seen any airships! I had made sure there weren’t any in the sky beforehand. If that airship crashed, I doubted there would be any survivors.

I shook my head and tried to push the guilt from my mind. I need to find Steel.

Going back through the castle was even easier than the first time. Any guards that may have been in the castle beforehand had probably raced outside when they heard the explosions.

When I arrived at the entrance to the dungeons, deep within the castle, I spotted Steel right away. He was glancing around nervously, soot smeared across his cheek. He saw me, and the look on his face stopped me dead in my tracks.

I had never seen him so. . . distant. It was as if his mind were trapped in a different world. And the way he looked at me, you would think he’d never seen me before in his life.

Swallowing, I approached him cautiously and laid a chilled hand on his arm. He furrowed his brow and stared at my hand.

“Steel,” I whispered. “You ready?”

He blinked a few times, then seemed to snap out of his fog. He nodded and dug a ring of keys from his pocket. As he handed them to me, he said, “That was an airship.”

I took the keys, careful to keep my grip on the one that he was holding. Licking my lips, I twisted the key in the lock and let the door swing open. “I know. Did it. . . did it crash?”

“Are you kidding?”

I glanced at him, confusion taking over as he grinned widely. “Fiona, I didn’t know your firecrackers were that powerful.”

Now I was utterly flabbergasted. “What are you talking about? Did it crash?”

He rolled his eyes and pushed me forward a step. “Look, Fiona, there was an airship docked on the tower next to yours. It caused quite a show, but I doubt that ancient piece of junk could even lift itself off the ground, much less crash.” He winked and flashed me that annoying grin again. “I didn’t know you had that in you.”

I sighed, relieved that no one had been injured. But now I couldn’t resist smacking him on the shoulder.

“Ow! What was that for?”

“For letting me think something horrendous had happened. Seriously, by the look on your face, I thought the entire city of Legeria had been decimated.”

He shrugged and hurried down the steps to the actual dungeon. “You females are so confusing.”

“Well, this female just exploded an entire airship so you best not insult her.”

He coughed, looking a little uncertain as he noticed the pistol at my side. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

/ / /

Annnnd that's Fiona and Steel for you. AREN'T THEY PRECIOUS LITTLE MUFFINS? I'm...slightly fond of them. *coughs* (Even though they insult each other like 98.4% of the time. Which honestly makes them that much more endearing.)

Thoughts on part two? Would you like to see more? (The answer is obviously, "Whatever pleases you, O Glitter Queen.") OH AND CAN YOU HELP ME COME UP WITH A TITLE FOR THIS STORY? I am so lost right now.