Fish Eyeballs, Temper Tantrums, & Snippets {Cue Raquel}

Y’all. The last week I’ve been having a delightful time working on the third draft of Echoes. I haven’t been so excited about the project since back before my computer (and a month’s worth of work) was stolen in May. But now I’m back in the swing of things and YAY!

To celebrate, I thought I’d share a snippet that I wrote last night. For those of you who don’t know, Echoes is the story of sixteen-year-old Nicolette and Raquel – identical twins who live in the country of Kios, where twins (echoes) are outcasts. They masquerade as one girl, Rylie, who is also the crown princess. Only a few trusted servants know their true identity.

This snippet is told from Raquel’s perspective, and as you’ll soon be able to tell, she has a bit of an attitude issue toward her father, the king.

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I inhaled deeply, the smell of burnt fish making me instantly wish I hadn’t done so.
“Servants fare.” Wren placed a hearty portion in front of me. “I’d imagine you wish you were dining with your father tonight.”
I snorted. “I’d rather survive on goopy fish eyes and dried rice pudding than spend an extra moment in his presence.”
“Raquel.” Teah’s voice held more rebuke than I felt warranted.
I lowered my head. “I don’t mean to speak disrespectfully of him-.” I stopped when Uncle Izaac lifted his all-knowing eyes to me. “Alright. So mayhaps I did mean to speak disrespectfully. But I have reason!” I hit the table with my fist. “You know I’m justified.”
“Justified or not, bitterness will never produce anything lovely.” Uncle Izaac scooped some blackened fish onto his trencher. “You, my dear, have so much potential. You can’t trade your possibilities for the satisfaction of holding on to the wrongs that have been done to you.”
Resting my elbows on the table, I leaned my chin onto my hands. “He doesn’t deserve anything better.” I scrunched my nose at how whiny I sounded – like a petulant toddler.
“Did I say he did?” Uncle Izaac commenced to eating, singling that the conversation was over.
I sulked for a few more minutes before silently acknowledging how immature I was being, then proceeded to eat in an unladylike manner, simply to get on Teah and Uncle Izaac’s nerves – neither of them paid me any mind.
Nicolette had gone to dine with the king, doubtlessly after Uncle Izaac had filled her in as to the day’s happenings since I’d been banished to the sleeping chamber. I snorted at the thought. Since when had Uncle Izaac taken to ordering me around like I was a toddler? Reason answered that he’d had every right since I was acting like one, but I ignored the voice.
After finishing my trencher of distasteful food, I loudly sucked off each finger, a habit I hadn’t indulged in since I was three summers old. It was so disgusting I nearly couldn’t bring myself to do it, but forced myself to continue until all ten fingers had been significantly licked, making sure that I made a loud slurping sound each time I pulled a finger out of my mouth.
“Once you’ve had your fill of being childish you may stack and clear the table, placing the dishes on the dumbwaiter.” Uncle Izaac didn’t even look up from his plate. “And, when you’re ready to move on in life, please inform me so that I may begin talking to you in a reasonable manner again – instead of acting like you don’t exist which is doubtlessly no fun for either of us.” Uncle Izaac glanced at me, “Especially considering we could have spent the eating hour in a deep discussion or playing Zarse.”

Echoing Echoes

‘Tis a happy day to be alive.

October has arrived wholeheartedly and nearly steals my breath with its inspiring beauty, vibrant colors, and the full grand ushering in of autumn. Yesterday I had off from both my nonwriting jobs, so after getting some writing work done, I hopped in my car and drove to my adopted parents where I spent a very relaxing day and night. Now I sit at their table, listening to the rain drumming on the metal roof, and preparing to head to work.

I spent the car ride over listening to an audiobook, delighting in the autumn scenery around me, and thinking of how incredibly grateful I am for the friends I have. After I got here I set my laptop up on the table and all throughout the day dropped by to work on catching up on writingish stuff.


The overwhelming response yesterday was to start the third draft of Echoes, which quite frankly made me very happy. Nicolette and Raquel are characters I’ve worked with for over seven years now, so as you can imagine they hold a special place in my heart.

It’s amazing to me how characters morph and grow and develop over the years. These girls started out as mirror images of each other – body and soul. It was after years of thinking about them on and off as I went about my daily tasks that I realized how very different they are despite being identical in appearances.


I still haven’t settled on an opening line for Echoes, but I did change it. Originally the first line read: “Princess Rylie.” Dropping into a soft curtsy, the woman in front of me seemed to expect recognition on my part. Which I actually still like, but this draft was a long time ago – one that I ended up not using at all, except for the concept and names, etc….

Later on, the first line read: A commotion in the hall broke into Father’s and my conversation. And that was more of a filler first line, because I didn’t figure I’d actually use it in the final draft.

But now it reads: Loyalty is a harsh taskmaster. I like that line because the next one reads: I looked down at my hands – hands kept white by the loyalty I had for Father, but longed to dye blue due to the loyalty I felt for my people.

The opening to a book is supposed to make you ask questions, and I don’t know about you, but that opening makes about a dozen questions leap to mind. I’m excited to see what else changes in this book, and where all it goes. Editing is hard for me, but it can also be so much fun.

What about you? Which of the above lines is your favorite and makes you most curious to read the book?

Multiple Choice – Echoes Update

If you had to come up with any ocean-y-ish foods, what would they be?

A. Duck eggs topped with turtle and fish eggs

B. Fish-stuffed pastry balls and seaweed crisps

C. Peppered cod and buttered peas

D. All the above – one for each meal of the day

If you had to travel sneakily, what way would you choose? 

A. With a servant who you previously distrusted (which happened to be a good thing since she turned out to be a spy)

B. Wearing a disguise and traveling incognito

C. Accompanied by a witty smuggler

D. All the above

If you were writing a book about princesses what kind of research would you do? 

A. Read everything you can find about Princess Kate

B. Look up Prince George and Princess Charlotte while you’re at it and sigh delightedly over their pictures

C. Inform everyone who will listen about the random facts you’ve discovered about the Royal Family

D. All the above

IMG_6185If you were listening to music while working on Echoes in hot Mexico, what music would you choose? 

A. Random music from Spotify

B. Random songs from Youtube

C. Christmas music. Cause yeah, Christmas in May? Why not?

D. All the above

If you were to choose a main character for a book, what would that main character be? 

A. A princess

B. An identical twin

C. A sword-fighting, javelin-throwing, whip-snapping, and knife-tossing expert

D. All the above

If you were to create a country for the aforementioned main character to live in, what would it look like? 

A. New Zealand

B. Portogul

C. The Swiss Alps

D. All the above

I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I’m going with “D” for each choice. Why not come up with a crazy mishmash of worlds and characters and seafood-ish meals and see what we can come up with? (Spoiler: The answer would be Echoes.)

Coffee Shop & Echoes

Today I’m hanging out at a coffee shop in Mexico, working on Echoes, and drinking a frappè de caveat y chocolate blanco. I’m not exactly sure what it means, except for being an exceptionally delicious and extremely, extremely sweet cold coffee drink  with carmel  and white chocolate. (And, in case anyone doesn’t know this, white chocolate is the best.)


I’ve finally reached a place with When Life Hands You Lymes where I can’t do any more on it until I receive feedback from the (hopefully) last round of beta reading. That means I can turn my focus nearly solely to Echoes, which is a crazy feeling, and rather exciting. (Just for the record, I’m chomping at the bit to send WLHYL off again so I can focus 100% on Echoes. When that day arrives, I will probably be found dancing around and yelling happy comments to the world.)


For now though, I’m happy to have snagged a round table by the window that includes a nice little ledge where I can put my drinks. There’s AC (a rarity around here!), internet for blogging, Spotify, and maybe allowing myself to be distracted by texting. Twenty-eight other people are moving or sitting around me, all completely intent on accomplishing their own set of tasks. It’s the perfect environment for a writer.

Adios amigos!

Z is for Zephyr #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z ChallengeThis year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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One of Kios’ boards is the ocean, and often times people will go there and dance on the green hills that overlook the rolling waters and enjoy the delightful zephyrs that are accompanied by the healing saltwater. (Zephyr = a light breeze.) In fact, one of the most important port cities in Kios is called Zephyr.

When Nicolette and Raquel are discussing where they will spend the Year of Proof, Zephyr is one of the cities that both of them would love to go to. It’s one of the most visited and up-and-coming cities in the entire country, and although vacations isn’t a word they use in Kios, if people did have vacations, Zephyr would be the top destination choice.

And there we have it, folks! The very last post in the A to Z Challenge! Thank you to everyone who has joined me. I’ve had so much fun answering your comments and visiting so many of y’all’s. I visited 200 posts during this month, which was so much fun and provided some great reading.

Y is for Year of Proof #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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Y’all. Today is the second last day of the A to Z Challenge, and also the second to last day of April. Say what??? That means I’ve got to skedaddle along with my day so I can work on finishing up my goals for the month.

The Year of Proof plays a rather important part in Echoes, but strangely enough I have absolutely no idea where it came from. In the first draft I think it literally just showed up on the page (with me typing of course), but with no previous mention in the plot, etc…. It made so. much. sense to me, that as soon as I had typed it out, I was like “Well duh! Of course this is what they should do.” In fact, it kinda made me wonder why countries in real life don’t do it? Or do they, and I just don’t know about it? (Of course, if anyone wants to grant me princess status in a country then I can help institute their very own Year of Proof into that society.)


So, what exactly is the Year of Proof? It’s where the heir to the throne chooses any city in the entire country and moves there for a year along with her entourage to rule the city. This is to prove to the land of Kios that she’s ready to rule when the crown is placed on her head. If something happens to the current ruler before the Year of Proof has taken place, then the heir to the throne assumes rule in title only, and has a council who does the actual ruling until the heir has completed more training.

It’s a huge privilege and honor to have your city be chosen for the Year of Proof, and the honor is accompanied by a bunch of festivities, holidays, and people coming to meet the heir to the throne. It’s by far the biggest year in the heir to the throne’s life until they actually become the king or queen.

And there you have it folks. What are some potential benefits or problems you think would accompany the Year of Proof?

X is for Xerxes #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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Queen Esther’s account in the Bible has long been one of my favorites, and as I mentioned before, it was one of the inspirations for Echoes. In fact, in the second half of the book (which was originally going to be Book #2), there’s a set of Echoes who are named Esther and Hadassa. Esther and Hadassa are the Esther’s from the Bible Greek (I think?) and Hebrew names, and I always thought it would be rather neat to name twins after them.

King Xerxes was a historical figure that sometimes I think I’d like to know more about, and other times I’m quite happy with my lack of knowledge about him. To make a long story short, this guy (who happened to be a very powerful king) got mad at his wife and disposed of her, then had his men gather up hundreds of girls who then spent a year or so readying themselves for meeting the king. Then, the king choose one of them to be his queen.

In my Echoes book, King Dalan wasn’t supposed to be like King Xerxes, but he ended up being a bit of a villain anyway. Thankfully King Dalan at least tries to have a good relationship with his daughter. King Xerxes was the kind of king that if his wife approached him without him asking for her to come, then she’d be put to death unless he extended his scepter to her. #ouch

I’m pretty sure Echoes has my first ever human villain – the rest of my books contain villains like Lyme disease and such, so this book has been a fun challenge.

Do you generally read books with human villains?

W is for Water (And No Tea) #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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Thanks to posting a review today (see it here), for the A to Z Challenge post I’m simply posting a small snippet. I hope y’all enjoy!

The food the woodcutters provided was by far the worst I had ever dined on. The bread was thick, tough, and made with a black flour that contained small hard chunks. After the first day I learned to eat slowly and carefully to avoid chipping my teeth. Potatoes were also one of our staples, but the fact that we had to pick worms out of them before partaking of them was enough to make me lose my appetite. The meat wasn’t much better, since it was all dried and had been preserved with far too much salt. I could barely choke down my pieces, even when I took little nibbles of the meat, paired with huge mouthfuls of the bread and potatoes. I was ever so hungry for tea, but plain water was all they provided me with. Determined to fit in and be strong I didn’t complain or let my face show my distaste, but it was a challenge to be sure.

“Now, ye said King Dalan will know who you are?” Titus asked the question as he chomped open-mouth on a piece of meat. He scratched his nose with the same hand that held the meat, a feat that looked nearly impossible and sent waves of nausea through me.

“Aye.” My sour mood had dissipated a bit as the days dragged on, but I still refused to spend too much energy socializing.

“Might you tell us what your plan is now?” Thurston asked, then took a few loud slurps from the common water pouch. When he was done he wiped his hand across his face, then down the front of his clothes.

V is for Vacillating #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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When it comes to certain elements, plot twists, characters, and scenes in Echoes I’ve vacillated like a pro. (Vacillated = wavered back and forth.) In fact, six years into the project the change I’ve made or plan to make are somewhat amusing to me. Here’s a compilation of some of them:

  • I’m planning on merging Farrow and Gage, two of the lesser-talked-about guards, into Chadwin, a guard with a lot more air time in the novel
  • I changed the City of Outcasts into Island of Outcasts
  • One of the guards from the City of Outcasts is instead going to be a smuggler in the Island of Outcasts
  • Instead of being loosely based on a Scottish/Irish/English countryside, Kios is set in a country that bears a remarking resemblance to New Zealand
  • Originally there were three maids: Wren, Mekayla, and Marina. Eventually I narrowed it down to two maids, excluding Wren. Then some beta readers said it was confusing to have the two maids have names that were about the same length and started with the same letter. So, the maids are now Wren and Marina #nowlookwhosconfused #spoilerthatwouldbeme
  • The story was originally named “The Guardian’s Secret” and then I realized that the title implied that Teah was the main character, and that happens to be false, so I changed the title to Echoes 
  • I’m contemplating there not being any music in Kios, but that’s still one of those things I’m vacillating about


There are more things – especially dealing with plot twists, but of course I can’t exactly tell y’all about them without ruining the storyline.

One of the things I enjoy about writing is all the surprises that take place. You might have heard the quote that says something about “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” I don’t 100% agree with that quote, but I will say that if it’s true, then my readers will be exceedingly surprised. I’ve been so surprised while writing this book that it’s rather amusing.

What is something you’ve vacillated about recently?

U is for Uncle Izaac #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Today I’m sharing another snippet with y’all. It takes place after Raquel is on the Island of Outcasts, but before Nicolette has joined them. This snippet features a missive from Uncle Izaac, who I’m featuring for the “U” word for today.


A knock sounded at the door and Mekayla opened it to find a messenger on the other side.

“We have a missive for the High Guard Keagan.” The messenger held out the paper that was sealed with wax and had Uncle Izaac’s stamp on the back.

“Thank you.” Keagan strode over to the door.

“What does it say?” I asked as soon as Mekayla had closed the door.

“Patience, Raquel.” Keagan’s words were abrupt. “Most likely he’s just making sure we’ve received word of their arrival.” He slid the seal open and his forehead crinkled as he read the words.
“Bad news?” My voice rose in pitch. “Is Nicolette alright?” I felt a spasm of panic.

“She’s fine.” Keagan did not sound convincing.

“Give me it!” I made a grab for the paper and he held it up out of my reach.

“What is it?” Even Mekayla looked worried.

“It’s a minor change in plans.” Keagan opened his mouth and then closed it. Finally after what felt like forever he nodded his head in a decisive manner. “Uncle Izaac writes to say Nicolette has taken the fever but is quite alright. In an effort not to alarm the citizens of the City of Outcasts, and to give Nicolette time to recover, he has proposed that we take Raquel out in disguise and bring her in as Princess Rylie.”

“What do you mean she has the fever but she’s fine?” I stamped my foot. “I want to read the missive for myself.”

Keagan glared at me and then softened his face into an understanding look. “I know tis hard for you, Raquel, but in truth, Uncle Izaac says it’s a light case of the fever and she’s only had it for a few days. She’s been resting in the carriage and will doubtlessly return to health soon enough. You know how the people tremble at the word fever though, hence the reason he doesn’t want them to know.”

“There’s reason the people tremble.” I narrowed my eyes. “My concern is not for the people at this moment but for my sister. She’s all I have and I can’t risk loosing her.”