Guess Who Finished A Novel?? (Know the Novel 2: Within Siren & the Skyship and Tare)

NaNo’s almost over and it’s time to answer the super fun questions for the second round of Christine Smith’s fabulous writer linkup, Know the Novel!

I’m doing the two novels I’m writing for NaNo, The Siren and the Skyship (“S&S” — YA steampunk-fantasy Little Merman), and The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (“KW2” — wintry contemporary fantasy sequel). You can read my answers to the first round of questions introducing the novels at that link!

1. How’s the writing going?

STUPENDOUSLY.

I hit a very exciting point on the night of the 27th:

I HIT 50K AND WON MY 9TH NANOWRIMO!!! 😀 I’m super excited. ^_^

It was super hard just to stay on track the first week or so, simply because life was SO BUSY, but I somehow stayed on par for the first 8 days, just barely.

On November 9th, I wrote over 8,000 words (beating my personal record for a single day) and FINISHED The Siren and the Skyship!!!

Guys, I’m so happy! This is my fifth finished novel, but I hadn’t finished a novel (novellas/short stories don’t count) in 5 years and just… the thrill of finally doing so again and getting to the end of this story I’m so in love with was absolutely amazing! ❤ It’s 95K words long, a total and absolute mess of writing, with draft zero bits scattered here and there, and is going to need a complete overhaul and rewrite because the story kept changing itself on me… but I still absolutely adore it AND IT’S DONE FOR NOW.

I’m so, so happy. ^_^

Bucky is grouchy because some random writer girl’s stats bars are hitting him in the chin. (gorgeous art/spreadsheet credit to Svenja Gosen)

So the first 9 days of NaNo, I worked on S&S and wrote 21K on that.

On November 10, I switched right over to working on The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. I’ve been making SERIOUS progress on that and it’s absolutely glorious! I’ve written 33K on it this month and finished part 2 and I’m in the final homestretch of the novel. AAAHH!

And, as I mentioned, I hit 50K for the month on Tuesday! 😀

I’m actually STILL writing, though, because KW2 is not over yet and I probably won’t finish this month but I’m close enough that I want to keep writing anyway! (Let’s just pretend the novel isn’t 118K already and not quite done. *dies*)

SO YEAH. At the time of writing this post, I’m at 55K for the month, and I don’t know if I’ll get much more done before December 1st hits, but it’s been going great and I’ve been having a blast!

a write-in I hosted

2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

S&S: The characters I love and the steampunk-fantasy world and getting to write the ending! ❤

KW2: Getting to write scenes I’ve been looking forward to getting to for ages — and writing characters I love so much. ^_^

3. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

S&S: Given that I didn’t actually know all the details of the big-ending-stuff and how it would happen until I was this close to having to actually write it . . . I’d say yes. It’s been surprising me the entire book because I keep thinking it’s going to be a certain way and then the story veers off completely and leaves me going “OKAY THEN” with my mind blown but really excited about the new direction. It’s just going to make it really hard to rewrite. *cough*

KW2: I’m surprised at how it’s coming together finally because I thought I’d never get to this point. XD But I’m really excited!

4. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

S&S: I LOVE THEM ALL. Rook is definitely my favorite to write (hence why he stole the show and then proceeded to get a sequel), but Princess Tasmania is really fun to write too, and so are her brothers (love themmm!) and street-thief Xasper and sky-pirate Keller (who is also stealing a sequel for himself and earned an AHA epilogue at the end of this one), and even Gerias (young Sean Bean) and Noya who’s kind of intense and I lowkey ship her with Rook. ANYWAY. I love all of them and honestly the entire cast is a blast to write. 😀 I’m already really excited to write more about all of them in the two sequels!

KW2: I obviously lurve all of my characters in this, given that I am nearly done their second book when I was only originally going to write one book! 😉 Tare is definitely my favorite to write, being my favorite ever, but I’m also really enjoying a couple of new, spoilery characters, including one I just met the other day and am absolutely ecstatic about because I’ve been dreaming of meeting this person for AGES.

5. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

S&S: I’m never good at this question! I’d probably be a random crew member on the Star Dreamer? If I had to be a major character I’d be Tasmania but I’d be terrible at being as awesome and brave and no-nonsense as she is, sooo yes, my different actions would consist of sitting in the enormous library at the palace in the sky city, devouring books and scones and tea, instead of doing action and quests, and there would be no story. XD

KW2: Well. I’d like to think I’d be Tare but honestly I’d be no good at that despite our kindred souls, so I’d doubtless be Lavender, and since she’s kind of a timid, cautious kind of person, I’d probably do about what she does… Or maybe I’d be somewhere between her and Marie.

6. Give us the first sentence or paragraph and then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

Probably because I’ve been writing near the end of the books, most of my favorite lines are terrible spoilers so I can’t share them, but let’s give this a go…

S&S opening:

Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley fell through the clouds.

This was not usually a problem. Normally, she could catch hold of ropes hanging from her skyship—and anyway, her personal clockwork dragon was programmed to swoop down and catch her when she fell.

Normally.

Unfortunately, normal didn’t cover it this time.

***

S&S snippets:

“I didn’t even know he had a brother—step-brother,” Tasmania amended quickly before Keller could correct her, “until we ran into you. I thought Gerias was an open book.”

“Oh, he is,” Keller said breezily. “You just weren’t reading the right chapter.”

***

“I don’t know,” Rook stammered, running his fingers through his black hair. “I don’t remember. I don’t even know… That is… Do I know you? And who’s Rook?”

***

The front bell tinkled and Xasper clattered in through the door. “Noya, get going—we’re going to be late,” he said by way of greeting.

You’re going to be late if you order me around—late for what?”


KW2 opening:

Sporadic sleet and a biting December wind conspired to form a day not fit for man or beast. Marie Valerian and her brother Jake, being neither, were of course out in it.

KW2 snippet:

“Are you okay?” Lavender asked automatically.

“Sure. Fine,” Tare said.

“You’re tied to a chair,” Baz pointed out.

“Oh, really? People keep telling me that.”

Lavender skidded to her knees in front of the chair on the concrete and reached for some of the ropes, holding out her other hand. “Baz, give me a knife.”

There was a pause. She looked up to see Baz hovering uncertainly. Lavender dropped her hand and her shoulders slumped a little. “Seriously? I thought all boys have pocket knives.”

Baz coughed. “It’s been awhile since my Boy Scout days. I might have some gum if that helps any . . .”

Tare sighed and kicked his foot a little. “In my right boot.”

7. Have you come across any problem areas?

S&S: Um, how about THE ENTIRE BOOK? *headdesks repeatedly* Honestly, it keeps switching direction and is so full of inconsistencies, due to my continuing writing while acting like I’ve already addressed them, that it would make less than zero percent sense if anyone else were to try to read it right now. 😛

KW2: *sweeps sudden gaping plot holes and entire lack of a plot under the rug* Nothing to see here… *innocent whistling*

8. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

S&S: FINISHING IT! ❤ I’m seriously so, so excited about this, even though it feels like a long ago thing of the past since it was in the first third of NaNo. XD *cough* And a few mind-blowing plot pieces clicking into place. 😉

KW2: Finishing part two, which I feel like I’ve been writing FOREVER and was a huge milestone for me, and getting to meet a certain character… And honestly just getting SO CLOSE to the end of this thing! I still have big ending stuff and wrapup to do, and honestly no clue how to do a lot of that, but it’s still closer than I dreamed of getting on this thing. ^_^

9. Be honest, have you killed any characters off yet?

ER. SPOILERS, HELLO. (I mean, if you know me, you might have a guess… so probably not. *cough*)

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this particular novel has looked like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!

It depends but I usually end up writing in the evenings, and I’ll often see if any friends are online word-sprinting. I really like doing wordsprints even if it’s by myself. For S&S, I’d usually have Stay Till the Daylight by Skillet (Rook’s themesong for the sequel) or Skyworld on repeat while writing, with my earbuds in and a wordsprint timer open in one window, and Scrivener in another.

For KW2, it’s the same layout but I usually listen to Kate Price’s Planxty Amblade-Cruso (the themesong melody for KW2 because it feels wintry and just fits it). OR, lately, I’ve been listening to an assortment of various songs I like on youtube, most noticeably this GORGEOUS version of Rewrite the Stars from The Greatest Showman, done by the Piano Guys, which I had on repeat for forever. ❤

Also, I’ve been wearing my new fingerless gloves when it’s been cold, which I crocheted one week while I was procrastinating writing. 😉

At a write-in — and one of the rare times I had a coffee because peppermiiiint from Starbucks since I had a giftcard to use. Hence this “classic” writer photo. XD


Whew. That’s it from me today — I hope you enjoyed this look within the WIPs and hearing about my NaNo! How are YOU doing, NaNoers or otherwise? If you’re doing NaNo and still need to write, GOOD LUCK TO YOU!!! YOU CAN DO IT! Even if you’re nowhere near hitting 50K, keep writing all the same because it’s still writing! ^_^ Congrats to any fellow NaNo winners — you rock! And also to all you people not doing NaNo: we’re almost done flailing about it and getting back to normal life, promise. XD

One more day, guys!

Thanks for reading and lemme know what you think of the snippets or… anything! 🙂

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Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse (Review)

Time for a book review, since I haven’t done one in awhile, and I have a fabulous new book to tell you about!

Title: Mark of the Raven (The Ravenwood Saga, #1)

Author: Morgan L. Busse

  • Date read: November 25, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy
  • Age: Technically listed under Adult but teens would love it too!
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 341 (paperback)
  • Series: The Ravenwood Saga, #1
  • Fave character: Damien
  • Source: The publisher
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes and NobleAuthor’s Website

Published November 6, 2018 by Bethany House Publishers

My thanks to Bethany House for the complimentary copy of MARK OF THE RAVEN. I was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are entirely my own.


Aaah, that was so cool! Now where’s the next book?

I love a good epic fantasy and this one was awesome! The world was so rich and the characters were fantastic. The plot was a slow-burn kind of one, full of mystery and politics but enough spice of danger and adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat—the rest of it did that actually as well!

I love anything involving dreams in fiction so I was really excited to try this one. Like Inception in a fantasy world. 😛 The Dreamwalking was a cool aspect to the book. I particularly liked the soul aspect of it. I think I thought there would be more time spent in the actual dreamscapes, but at the same time I don’t really mind because the rest of the book was so cool too!

I was so intrigued by this setting and loved the world-building. The idea of the seven nations and the Great Houses and their secrets and gifts was so intriguing. The political intrigue aspect of it was interesting instead of boring. It made me think a little of Jill Williamson’s fantasy, which is high praise from me. 😉 I was pulled into this story and loved visiting these mountains, castles, secret passages, and seaside—and the different Houses were really neat. Everything had a distinct feeling and vibrant color to it and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I can’t wait to return to this world and find out what happens next, as well as learn more about the gifts—and spend more time with these characters.

The characters were all well-drawn and I loved them. ^_^ Selene was an interesting heroine and I felt bad for her and was always curious what she’d do next. I can’t wait to see where her story goes from here. No spoilers but… it should be interesting! 😉 Damien was my absolute favorite! I loved how the story alternated between his point of view and Selene’s. It was so neat getting to see each of them from the other’s perspective. But yes, Damien was a high point of the book—I loved his passion for helping people and how he had such a good heart and tried so hard and… he was just awesome. 😀

I loved many of the side characters, too! Selene’s father was so great. Taegis, Damien’s mentor, who I also loved. Lady Bryren! Man, I LOVED her and the other wyvern riders and hope we’ll see more of them! (And I don’t love them, but the villains stood out too. Lady Ragna was sooo chilling.)

The atmosphere of the book was just really neat—with the rich colors, the harsh beauty of the mountains, the shadows and mysteries of Rook Castle, the autumnal feel, the meetings and gala and dances, the passages and secrets, and all shot through with so many questions and interesting thoughts, a thread of faith in a unique way, and the many varied people and cultures inhabiting this world.

It took me a little while to get invested in the story (maybe until meeting Damien?) but once I got into it, I lived and breathed it, and now I’m sad it’s over. There were some pretty neat twists at the end which make me super curious to read the next book! I NEED IT.

MARK OF THE RAVEN was gorgeous and a little ominous and I was so intrigued the whole time, and I’m attached to these characters. It’s a touch scary a few times but is a basically clean read which I think older teens and adults alike would enjoy, and I highly recommend it to fantasy fans! 🙂


About the Book

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy — a legacy that supports her people — or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?


Also, the next book is releasing April 2019 and I neeeed it already! Isn’t it gorgeous? ❤


Talk to me! Does or does it not sound SO cool? Have you ever read a dream-related book? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading! 🙂

10 Years of a Writer’s Journal

10 years ago today, I started keeping a writer’s journal — it’s a series of notebooks I call A Forest of Thought (FT for short) and I’m on my 9th volume.

It’s where I keep random ideas, names, and dialog, as well as plotting about my various books, and musings about the writing life. There’s something magical about writing out thoughts by hand with real ink, even when typing is faster (and more searchable) these days.

The first couple of years I was very sporadic with it, but I slowly developed the habit of writing down things that came to mind, before I could forget them. (Because you know you will, even if you tell yourself you’ll remember it!)

It took three years to fill the first volume, but these days I start a new journal each January 1st.

Now, I write something in it — even if it’s just a name I don’t want to forget or a line of random dialog or a quick jot about my writing status — every week, and have kept up that streak for two or three years now; not because I feel I have to, but because it’s a habit.

So, it just goes to show, even if it takes eight or ten years, you CAN develop habits and they CAN change your life — writing-related or otherwise.

It’s been an invaluable resource and a beautiful journey so far. They’ve been with me through so much and recorded so many thoughts from the forest of my mind as I travel the road of a writer.

Happy birthday, my FT journals! We’ve come through a whole decade together, and you’ve helped my writing in ways you could never know.

Onward to new horizons! ❤

(P.S. NaNo is going well and I hope to have an update post on that soon!)