Know the Novel: Writing and Beyond (Siren and the Skyship & Tare)

It’s time for another Know the Novel post — hurray! The third and final in a series of writer linkups from my dear blogging buddy Christine @ Musings of an Elf!

You can check it out here and read my two previous installments here and here.

Once again, I’m answering with The Siren and the Skyship (S&S; my YA steampunk-fantasy Little Merman novel) and The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2; wintry contemporary fantasy), since those are what I was writing for NaNo and they’re the only things my brain has been thinking about. (*pretends this is true and casually pushes aside other jealous novels who are looking over my shoulder waiting for their turn*)

Onward to the questions!

1. Firstly, how did writing this novel go all around?

S&S: Considering that I wrote it in about a year, which is fast for me, and that I actually got to the end, SPLENDIDLY. Though, on the other hand, it kept switching directions, which is going to make the rewriting a total headache. But I can’t really complain because each time it changed, it got so much more awesome. Overall, I totally loved writing it! It was fun almost the entire time and I had an absolute BLAST writing this thing!

KW2: I . . . don’t know for sure since I still haven’t finished it. *hangs head in shame* I’ve written nearly a thousand words since NaNo but have just been too busy to write these last couple of chapters and finish! But overall it seems to have gone pretty okay, other than taking years to write and wanting to be written out of order and stuff. XD Still, it’s been fun because I love these characters!

2. Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome?

S&S: I really don’t know because I haven’t had a chance to look at it since finishing. And I know it’s a terrifying mess and needs to be seriously rewritten. XD I think I’m pretty pleased, though. It’s just a rough draft so I’ll know more once I get to the rewriting stage. *hides* I think the main thing I’m surprised about is that I thought it would be basically a standalone, wrapping up most things, with the two sequels just following other characters we’ve met. UM. AHAHA. NO. There’s a whole lot left hanging and the books are so interlocked now and eeeee I’m really excited!

KW2: Again, can’t quite answer this since I haven’t finished. And given that I originally thought it would be a small holiday novella, and it’s currently at 120K+ and not quite finished, I’d say it turned out quite different. XD I do wish the plot would cooperate more and that the villains weren’t hiding all their villainous secrets until the end, though. Ahem.

3. What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.)

S&S: CHARACTERS. I adore them all and they’ve been so much fun to write. Although, actually, the setting takes a close second, because this steampunk fantasy world with rocky pillars and mist and skyships and clockwork dragons and cloud cities IS MY FAVORITE.

KW2: Definitely Tare and the Chess Club. ❤ I love them so much.

4. How about your least favorite part?

S&S: I don’t know if I have a least favorite part of the writing. It was just fun, I tell you!

KW2: I don’t know… All the times I got stuck, I suppose. XD

5. What do you feel like needs the most work?

S&S: ALL OF IT. *collapses* Probably the main plot-lines of Auren and Tasmania, and just fitting everything together properly. The fact that it kept changing hugely as I wrote it, and then I’d keep writing as if I’d fixed it, has made it quite the patchwork story. It’s going to need a ton of work. But I’m excited too, because I love it so much and can’t wait to rewrite it to its full potential!

KW2: The length, the meandering plot, and the villains not being active enough. All due to thinking it was going to be a novella and then it got huge. XD And the fact that I hardcore hoarded plot-reveal-secrets. At the moment I just want to finish and get on to the next adventure, though! I’m writing this one for fun so at the moment I’m learning what I can but not bothering too much about making it The Perfect Novel — yet.

6. How do you feel about your characters now that the novel is done? Who’s your favorite? Least favorite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!

S&S: I lurve themmm. My favorite would be Rook (haha. Don’t be too surprised, everyone . . . *cough*), BUT I have so many other favorites too! Like Tasmania and Gerias. Xasper, Rook’s little brother, surprised me by being so fun and sneaky. Noya surprised me by being kind of tense and awesome. Tasmania’s twin brothers surprised me by gaining their own personalities and being totally different — like how Durward apparently loves food. XD And Auren and Keller have surprised me by being totally different than I thought they were, which is awkward, given that they’re the main characters of books 1 and 2 and I kind of have to rewrite them now. 😛 As for least-favorite . . . we can give that one to Captain Haversham, Rook’s new boss, who is blackmailing him and is TOTALLY SLIMY. Okay, and the Sorcerer of the Mist, because eek.

KW2: I kind of don’t make any secret of the fact that Tare is my favorite character. 😉 I do have new favorite characters but they’re spoilers. The Chess Club are fun, of course, and I really liked getting to do more with Adrian and Ivy — love them! And how Lavender is kind of almost like a little-sister for Tare and slkdjflkdj she kind of looks after him and it’s the cutest. Least favorite would be Greg — yeesh. I think I was surprised how Harold “Perfect-Teeth” was less straight-up villain than I thought; like, he’s a jerk but he’s kind of mild about it. Or maybe it’s just the comparison with Greg. And both the new characters are surprising me a bit, just because I hadn’t met them before. And I had no idea Robin would be quite so bouncy. XD Also there’s a side character who is like “by the way, there’s something up with me” and I’m like “excuse me, you only just arrived and there’s only like two chapters left so there can’t possibly be anything at all up with you; and anyway you’re not important” and said character is like “fine, I’ll just disappear and be a loose thread, then” and I’m like “??? RUDE?” Writing. I tell ya.

7. What’s your next plan of action with this novel?

S&S: Let it sit for awhile while I cry over what a mess it is let it simmer on the back-burner. After that . . . well . . . maybe I’ll start the major mess that is trying to rewrite it? *sound of characters laughing at me* Or possibly move on to writing the sequel instead. *cough* (What? I need to know what happens later so I can make the series make sense . . .)

KW2: FINISH IT. AAAGH. I’m so close. So. close. After that, I don’t know, but I might lowkey move on to sequels on this one too . . .

Thanks, Tare. I did have Christmas, you know. …Aaand you don’t care, do you.

8. If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be?

S&S: Have it re-writtten just right, published with a shiny cover, and sitting on shelves — and people enjoying it. 🙂 Having it be super popular wouldn’t go amiss but is not 100% required. XD

KW2: I don’t even know. Probably having it make sense (*editing sobbing*) and maybe published? I don’t know… This series I just started for fun but in the long run I’d like it to be out there someday. 🙂

9. Share a snippet of one of your most favorite scenes!

S&S:

“Hear that, Durward?” Percival called across Tasmania’s shoulder as their brother walked past them with a crystal glass in one hand and a plate of some kind of pastries in the other.

“Mmm?” Durward said, pausing and turning with eyebrows raised, in mid-chew on something delectable.

Percy repeated the appointment: library, midnight (ish) or as soon as they could get away from the ball, the three of them, talking.

Durward nodded. “Will do. I had my heart set on a night of real sleep, but”—he sighed dramatically—“I can sacrifice it for the good of the country so you can fall asleep at your coronation tomorrow.”

Percy snagged a pastry from Durward’s china plate, saying, “Is that so,” while Tasmania was laughing and trying to say she’d been saying the same thing.

“Now put those down. We need to find you somebody to dance with,” Percival added.

“Not a chance. I’m starving. All that paperwork makes a man hungry.”

“But we have already decided to find you a partner,” Tasmania said.

Durward smiled winningly. “Already have one.”

They paused, blinked, and stared at him in silent questioning.

He gestured with his drink at his plate.

They groaned.

“Food and I. True love. Won’t find me a better.”

“You’ll need to sign on as my cabin boy after this,” Tasmania said mock-seriously.

“And why’s that?” he asked, somehow munching on another pastry while still holding his refreshments in both hands.

“For the exercise, of course. Nothing like climbing rigging to keep a man fit,” Tasmania said innocently.

“You don’t see Percy doing that sort of thing,” Durward remarked placidly.

“You forget that all I’m ever doing is constantly running around after matters of state,” Percy said. “So much exercise. You’d be wise to take Mania up on her offer if you’re set on your true love and all. You’ll get fat sitting behind a desk doing paperwork and doing nothing but eating pastries.”

“Bah,” Durward said cheerfully and ambled off through the crowd.

KW2:

(The Chess Club and Tare are locked down in a cold, dark, underground room.)

Lavender sighed. “I wish we had our phones.”

“Me too,” Ivy said. “We could call Adrian.”

“We could call Mr. Larch,” Marie said.

“We could call both,” Jake added gloomily.

“You could call neither,” Tare said.

They all looked up at him and there were some noses wrinkled in annoyance.

“We were just getting comfortable with light and wishful thinking—don’t rain on our parade!” Baz complained.

“I’m not raining on anyone’s parade,” Tare said. “Just saying. No good. There’s no signal down here.”

“And you know this exactly how?” came Ivy’s skepticism.

Tare reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a shiny black cellphone, which he waved slightly. “Because I checked.”

They were taken aback. “You have a cellphone?” Marie said, catching onto the unspoken question from the others and voicing it for them.

“No, I have a magical box I keep in my pocket which can surf the Internet. Of course I have a cellphone; what’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, but . . . you have a cellphone,” Lavender stammered.

Tare sighed, slipping it back in his pocket. “Not this again.”

“No, really,” Baz said. “How did this happen?”

“Someone gave it to me.”

“Now that I find hard to believe,” Ivy said.

The corner of Tare’s mouth twitched. “Long story.”

10. Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel?

S&S: Draft Zero is still magical. Write in quick scenes like it’s a movie — you don’t have to connect everything because that’s boring. Keep going to the end because it won’t look the same when you get there. And once you get to the end, you’ll know how the rest needs to go.

KW2: I probably learn all sorts of life lessons from writing Tare. XD But a writing lesson I learned the hard way is make sure that big-important-things happen early on and keep happening — don’t hoard plot-reveal-secrets (okay, hoard a few for the end; but sprinkle some throughout!). And don’t write long books. *cough* Also, writing out of order is simultaneously the best and worst life choice ever. XD


I hope you guys enjoyed this look at how the writing went! I don’t know when I’ll find time to finish KW2 but here’s hoping it will be sometime in the next month! Let me know what you think in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading!

Christmas Character Tag: Teague & Meridian & Co.

The awesome Sarah @ Dreams & Dragons tagged me for her original The Christmas Character Tag waaaay back when, and I didn’t get around to it at the time. But I figured, what better time to do it than now? 😉 Thanks so much for the tag, Sarah! ❤

I’m featuring the characters from my WIP The Other Half of Everything: Teague and Meridian, and Teague’s siblings (Ivan and Lulin). Because I’ve been focusing on my steampunk book and Tare lately, and these characters were feeling left out. 😉

And because I’ll take any excuse to let Teague and Meridian take over my blog. 😛 Though this time Ivan and Lulin are joining in the fun.

The first several answers are the characters answering the questions directly, and later it moves on to something more like impromptu scenes I wrote just for this post’s questions.

Consider it kind of like my little Christmas present just for you, my dear bloglings! 🙂

Enjoy!

Rules

1. Acknowledge the person who tagged you. Thanking them is nice, but not necessary. You can be annoyed at them if you like. (Though, if you’re annoyed, why are you doing the tag anyway?)
2. Pick your characters. I advise having several, though not too many. They can all be from the same story, or they can be from different stories. If they’re from different stories, make sure to specify who’s from the same story.
3. Answer the questions. This should be self-explanatory.
4. Tag people. If you want. Don’t tag more people than you have characters in the tag. If you don’t want to tag anyone, you can do that too.
5. Listen to your favorite Christmas song. Because putting the effort in to write a post deserves a reward, my friend!

About the Characters

For those joining us new or who need a quick refresher:

Teague Aurelius: 23. An extremely absentminded author of fantasy who lives in the top floor of a huge old house, where all his rooms are filled with books. May or may not travel to the worlds he writes about.

Meridian Brownley: 17. Narrator of the book The Other Half of Everything (and slightly unreliable, at that) that I’m writing. Housekeeper for Teague. Plays violin and cooks. Doesn’t care about reading. Can’t stand writers. Or fantasy. (Awkward.)

Ivan Aurelius: 21. Black sheep of the family. Doesn’t get along with Teague. Has spiky blond hair and wears black leather and spikes.

Lulin Aurelius: 19. Sometimes playful and seems younger. Other times seems far older than her age and is carrying a secret. Peace-maker between her brothers. Her hair is a white pixie-cut, because of course.

Onward to the…!

Questions

1. If any of your characters are from Earth: what are some of their Christmas traditions? If your characters aren’t from Earth: does their world have an equivalent to Christmas, and if so, how do they celebrate it?

Teague: What an interesting question. What if we do both?

Ivan: We haven’t done a lot with it here in awhile. And that’s… just fine with me. >.>

Lulin: Oh, stop pretending! Anyway, we used to do decorations and all the usual stuff. And in the other worlds there would sometimes be a sort of midwinter feast if we were there around that time — so that was nice. ^_^

Meridian: I usually bake. With Gran. But not really any traditions.

2. Which of your characters gets the most into Christmas? The least? Who gets annoyed at the commercialization, and who doesn’t care because it’s CHRISTMAS?

Lulin: CHRISTMASSSSS!!! *dances around and puts up garlands and gives everyone Christmas sweaters*

Meridian: Hmph. Commercialization. And… yeah. I’m not the hugest Christmas person. The only thing that’s the best about it is the baking.

Ivan: *folds arms and coolly pretends not to care* It’s okay. I guess. *surreptitiously steals cookies*

Teague: *reading* *bewildered* Christmas? What were we talking about? Are there books involved?

3. All the characters try to decorate a Christmas tree together. What happens?

Lulin: More tinsel!

Teague: We could build a tree out of books instead.

Ivan: Guess who can put the most ornaments on the fastest without breaking any.

Meridian: Everyone! Stop! I’m doing it. It has to be perfect.

Everyone: But you don’t care about Christmas!

Meridian: It still has to be perfect!

(Dear reader, we draw a veil over the remainder of this scene and leave you to imagine it, because the chaos is immeasurable.)

4. What’s each character’s favorite Christmas song?

Teague: Silent Night.

Meridian: Any of them that are pretty but played just instrumental so I can hear the melodies.

Teague: Oh. Yes. The musician. You would be like that, I suppose.

Meridian: *wrinkles her nose* At least I didn’t say “none of them.”

Lulin: Carol of the Bells! And Drummer Boy! And… All of them!

Ivan: Last Christmas.

Lulin: What??

Ivan: I’m kidding. I hate that one too. Jingle Bell Rock.

Lulin: DON’T YOU DARE.

Ivan: But with real rock.

Meridian: Why am I not surprised.

5. Can your characters agree on a Christmas movie to watch together? What happens if they try?

Lulin: Elf! Or It’s A Wonderful Life…

Meridian: I don’t really care. Maybe there’s some good cheesy Hallmark movies. Or… not.

Ivan: *groans* Spare us. I’ll be watching Die Hard.

Teague: *mildly* That’s not a Christmas movie.

Ivan: It is so!

Teague: I don’t see why anyone would watch a movie when they could be reading instead… *pulls out long list of Christmas books he intends to read*

The list unfurls and rolls across the floor. Everyone stares at it.

Meridian: Bye. I’ll be baking.

Lulin: *looks at Ivan* Muppet Christmas Carol?

Ivan: You wish.

Teague curls up on the couch to read.

Lulin turns on the Christmas Carol movie.

Ivan pretends he’s not watching but really is.

Delicious smells start wafting from the kitchen…

6. Your characters are going to a White Elephant Gift Exchange; what kind of gift does each one bring? (Or, because I had a different question here originally and forgot to change it before it started circulating, if you prefer you can answer: “Speaking of which, who cries at Christmas movies?”)

Meridian: I don’t care if the rules say not to bring food. I’m bringing stuff I bake. Or some music albums…

Lulin: Something pretty!

Ivan: What if yours goes to a guy?

Lulin: Honestly? I really don’t care. Something pretty.

Ivan: I’m not going so I’m definitely not giving anything.

Teague: There’s only one answer to this, as to most, questions: Books. Possibly one of the ones I wrote…

Ivan: *facepalms* Don’t inflict them with that.

Teague: *coolly* You already said you’re not going, so you don’t have a say in the matter.

(Alternate question “who cries at Christmas movies?” Everyone points at Lulin. She smiles weakly.)

7. What’s each character’s favorite Christmas treat?

Teague: I’m honestly not picky… But chocolate is probably the best, on general principles.

Lulin: Gingerbread! And peppermint hot cocoa.

Meridian: You’re honestly going to make me choose between foods?

Ivan: Candy-canes.

8. Who among your characters likes eggnog? Who thinks it’s disgusting?

Lulin: *wrinkles nose* Eggnog is weird.

Ivan: It’s awesome. Be quiet.

Teague: I haven’t the faintest idea how I feel about it. I’ve never noticed what it tastes like.

Meridian: How could you not notice? It’s gross!

Ivan: Fight me.

Meridian: I think I will.

Lulin: Um…

Teague: Children. Please.

Ivan: What did you just call me??

Lulin: *quickly* Who wants a candy-cane?

9. Who’s meeting who under the mistletoe? Who’s catching those people and teasing them about it forever?

Meridian eyes the mistletoe hanging in the doorway to the Teague’s living-room. “Who put that up there?”

Lulin’s innocent blue eyes stare out from her face framed in a white pixie-cut. “Nobody?”

Meridian grumbles under her breath something about plants belonging outdoors and returns a moment later lugging a ladder usually used to reach books. She pauses.

Teague leans in the doorway reading a book and apparently not paying attention to anyone.

Meridian sighs and leans it against a nearby bookcase. “Teague. Move,” she says. “I need to put a ladder there.”

“Mm?” Teague doesn’t look up.

Meridian waves a hand in his face.

Lulin walks casually behind her and “accidentally” knocks into her. Meridian crashes into Teague, who drops his book and catches her instead, looking down into her eyes.

“Oh, hello, Meridian,” he says with a smile. He looks up at the mistletoe above them and then back at her with laughter in his eyes that indicates he knew right where he was standing all along.

“No you didn’t — !” Meridian begins.

Ivan can be heard snickering around the corner and Lulin gives a peal of merry laughter.

“Fine,” Meridian relents. She pecks Teague’s cheek. “Merry Christmas. I guess.”

Somebody needs to stop being so mushy,” Ivan calls loudly.

“Oh, shut up,” Meridian says fiercely.

Teague smiles and leaves a kiss on her forehead, murmuring, “Merry Christmas, my Meri.”

10. Who makes all the Christmas cookies and other treats? Who eats all the Christmas cookies?

“I don’t trust anyone else to do the baking,” Meridian says firmly. “I’m doing all of it. Now shoo until I finish.”

“I can help,” Lulin protests mildly.

“You’re just covering for Ivan,” Meridian says, snagging his leather-clad wrist as he reaches toward the platter of cookies.

Ivan yelps. “I was just going to taste it!”

“You can taste it when I finish.” Meridian is remorseless and continues mixing batter.

Teague wanders through the kitchen with his face in a book, grabs a cup of tea and somehow drinks it without looking at it or spilling anything.

Meridian turns around from checking in the oven and sees an empty spot where a cookie had been a moment before. “Ivan!”

“It wasn’t me! So!”

“Then is there a cookie gremlin because something took it.”

Ivan points at Teague, who is retreating with his face still in a book and doesn’t appear to realize what’s going on around him.

Meridian looks to Lulin for confirmation, but she just blinks wide-eyed at her and won’t give up either of her brothers.

“He’s far too distracted to properly steal a cookie,” Meridian accuses, hands on hips.

“Mm?” Teague puts in as he disappears around the corner and calls back, “Delicious cookies, by the way. You’ve outdone yourself.”

Meridian blinks after him.

Ivan gives a told-you-so smirk, then sighs. “How come I can’t get away with stuff like that?”

Meridian gets a dangerous gleam in her eye and starts to follow Teague. “Who said anyone’s getting away with anything?”

Ivan snags a cookie from the plate and says through munches, “Teague being an unwitting accomplice is still the best thing ever.”

Lulin pulls more cookies out of the oven and smiles innocently. “Talking of best things ever, I’m going to enjoy watching Meridian go after you in a minute.”

Ivan gives her a shifty look and grabs another cookie. He slinks quickly out, to the accompaniment of Lulin’s chuckle and Meridian somewhere in the house going off loudly at Teague whose faint murmurs are difficult to hear.

11. Who stays (or used to stay) up late waiting for Santa?

Lulin and Ivan both point at Teague.

He blinks. “What? I didn’t.”

“You always stayed up all night Christmas Eve,” Ivan says.

“Reading,” Teague protests. “And I always do that. You just don’t want to admit that the two of you used to.”

“A lot of stranger things than Father Christmas are real,” Lulin says. “I’m only saying. What about you, Meridian?”

“Nope.” The answer was a little too quick to be strictly true.

“Grinch,” Ivan says haughtily.

“Speak for yourself!”

12. What would each character say Christmas isn’t Christmas without?

“Family,” Lulin says at once.

Teague hesitates, and doesn’t look at Ivan, but agrees. “Family.”

They look at Meridian.

She coughs. “I was going to say baking but now I sound like a shallow jerk.”

Lulin smiles. “Not at all.”

“I just don’t remember having a family. Other than Gran,” Meridian says.

“No siblings like these two terrors.” Lulin throws an arm each around her two brothers.

Ivan squirms and tries to escape the hug. “Candy-canes!” he says quickly, answering the question. “Aaugh. Leggo.”

Lulin just hangs on, laughing.

Teague smiles, one arm around his sister, and reaches out his other arm to pull Meridian into the group-hug. “Now you do,” he says softly.

And Meridian smiles back at him.

Thanks for reading! ^_^ I’m not tagging anyone but feel free to steal this for your blog if you like! Sorry I haven’t been around as much (I’m afraid NaNo more or less killed me and I’ve been recovering and busy. XD) — but I do have some fun posts planned after I finish relaxing this coming week. Merry Christmas! ❤