A Kedran’s Wood Christmas

Hey guys! I have a couple announcements and then I want to share a snippet of a Tare and Chess Club Christmas scene with y’all!

NaNo Post

Firstly, if you missed it, I talked about how my 10th NaNo went in this post!

(It didn’t go out to inboxes because I accidentally scheduled it to post November 9th instead of December 9th… while it was December. Further proof of how dead I was after NaNo. *headdesk* Anywayyy…)

Blogging Hiatus

Secondly, I’ll be taking a blogging break for the next couple of weeks to enjoy the holidays, so this will probably be my last post of the year . . . and decade. :O

I will (hopefully) see y’all in 2020 with some recaps or something.

About this Snippet

Okay, on to the story behind this post!

This spring, I finished my Kedran’s Wood story set at Christmas-time (like I’m hoping to finish my Kedran’s Wood novella set in the spring . . . sometime this month if I can . . . which is Christmas-time. The irony).

But since it’s 145K words and book 2 in the (contemporary fantasy) series, and rather a mess, it’s going to be . . . awhile until such things as publishing or whatever is going to happen with it, happens. XD

However! Since I did finish it, that means I have actual Christmas scenes! With my characters!

(Not just a blog tag interview with my characters like I did last year for my Other Half of Everything peeps. Which was tons of fun and you should go read if you missed it. XD *I just re-read it myself and honestly had a BLAST* *cough*)

I wanted to share something Christmas-y with you guys here on my blog, and thought that a bit of Chess Club and Tare Christmas-spirit would be a fun thing to share. ^_^

Disclaimer: This is from a first draft. It’s also near the end of the book, and more happens before and after it. I also redacted a couple of spoilers. But it stands alone pretty well as an adorable Christmas scene with some of my favorite characters, and I hope y’all enjoy it. 🙂

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my dear blog readers!


Excerpt from the end of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2), work-in-progress by Deborah O’Carroll

They followed Tare and found themselves suddenly in a clearing surrounded by pines and firs, snow covering the ground, and in the very center grew a tall fir tree, decked out in glowing splendor—literally.

Soft white and yellow lights sparkled all over it, with a few garlands and red or gold or white globe decorations and other minor items hanging here and there, tastefully, with a white angel at the very top, and still some snow on it from the light dusting earlier that evening.

It was just the right time of night when it was not fully dark and the sky was velvet-midnight-blue and scattered with a few beginning stars, but it was dark enough to appreciate the radiant tree lighting up the clearing and bathing their upturned faces in golden light.

“So remember what I told you about being too busy to decorate?” Tare said. “And how I didn’t have a Christmas tree?”

“Trees live outside,” Lavender whisper-laughed.

He glanced at her. “Exactly.”

“It’s beautiful,” Robin breathed in awe.

“It’s perfect,” Marie said.

And several others murmured something along those lines.

“I figured it wasn’t much good for one person . . .” Tare said, folding his arms and looking up at it. “It kind of needs a few. So. That’s what I wanted to show you guys.”

“It’s like your gift to the Chess Club, huh?” Baz said.

Tare got a shifty look. “Maybe,” he said, and added, “[redacted] helped. A little.”

“Where is [redacted]?” Adrian asked.

“Off doing mysterious [redacted] or something.”

“Goodness knows you know nothing about going off and being all mysterious,” Ivy said.

“Exactly.” Tare either missed the point, or missed it on purpose.

Small Occasion was straining at his leash in Mr. Larch’s grip, trying to get closer to the tree—all the sparklies and hanging things that might be chewable! (There had been some small wars between Small and the tree in Mr. Larch’s house, which had resulted in it being blocked off where Small couldn’t get at it to attack it with his joy and love.)

“Well. Go look at it if you want. It’s not fragile,” Tare said, making shooing motions with one hand.

They laughed and moved forward, away from where they’d been clustered at the very edge of the clearing, to look at Tare’s Christmas tree. It was even more beautiful up close, simple but so elegant, and so perfect in this setting. Tare had brought Christmas into Kedran’s Wood.

“Oh, there are chess piece ornaments! How absolutely perfect!” Robin said.

Tare coughed. “Those are actually . . . for you guys.”

Everyone looked at him and blinked.

Tare crossed his arms tighter and went on, “They’re not ornaments, they’re necklaces, and I made them for you.”

All eyes blinked at him for a moment and he looked more uncomfortable than Lavender had ever seen him.

“Oh—!” She and Ivy apparently had the same idea and both spontaneously lunged toward him.

His awkward look vanished, replaced with alarm, and he staved them off by hastily raising both hands defensively. “Ah, no. I don’t do hugs. That’s too much like—you know—getting attacked. I might kill you or something. You never know.”

Ivy snorted. “Sure.” But she and Lavender respected his distance and reversed course.

“This one has your name on it, Adrian!” Jake called excitedly, looking around on the branches.

“Coming,” Adrian said, and walked past Tare, giving him a friendly slap on the shoulder, grinning.

Tare half-dodged it but didn’t seem to mind terribly, and stood by, watching with arms folded again.

There was something of a fun treasure hunt scramble as everyone searched the branches of the Christmas tree for the little natural-wood-colored chess pieces hanging on silver chains, with names carved around their bases, and everyone matched up everyone else with the proper names.

Small got loose and happily galloped around and around the base of the tree, yapping and joining in the noises of laughter. Finally everyone had their chess necklace and tilted them toward the Christmas tree light to examine them.

They were all the chess pieces except the pawns: Mr. Larch’s was a king piece, Robin’s a queen. Adrian and Ivy had knight pieces, Baz and Lavender bishops—“because I’m a saint and/or my head-slash-mind is so sharp,” Baz said, nodding wisely and causing much eye-rolling—and the Valerian siblings each had rook pieces.

“There have got to be some lonely pawns back at your place to complete the set,” Mr. Larch said with a grin.

“Nooo,” Tare said, “because I carved these which means they are the set.”

Everyone blinked at him again.

“You carved these?” Baz yelped.

“What?” Tare shrugged. “I had to have something to do all those sleepless nights to avoid nightmares. I do have some skills besides killing monsters and freaking you guys out whenever I use technology. So. Those are my gift to the Chess Club,” Tare clarified.

“They’re perfect—thank you!” Everyone said their thanks and Tare looked at his feet and muttered something—and it was a little too dark to be sure but he might have been smiling.

Lavender clutched hers and thought she was probably glowing as much as the tree. She hung the chess piece necklace around her neck and the others began to as well.

“You don’t have one, though,” Adrian said, once everyone was wearing theirs.

Tare held up his hands. “Fine with me. I’m not the Chess Club.”

“Yeah, but you’re like an honorary member,” Ivy said.

“Maybe,” Baz said, “but we’re ‘the Chess Club and Tare,’ and if Tare was one of us it would just be ‘the Chess Club’ and that’s not quite as cool.”

“It is really bothering me that I keep agreeing with him,” Tare muttered. “Got one thing wrong, though. It’s Tare and the Chess Club, not the other way around.”

They laughed and agreed, even Baz.

A peaceful quiet settled over the snowy glade and they wandered slowly around, just looking contentedly at the tree together in silence. Even Small had gone silent, since Robin had picked him up.

It was almost Christmas Eve. Despite the cold, the tree’s glow lit their faces and their hearts. The wood sighed in the breeze around them and the stars shone.

Someone started singing Silent Night. Slowly, everyone else picked it up and joined in—except Tare, who seemed a little distracted—standing in a ring around the Christmas tree and filling the glade with their soft voices.

NaNo 2019: Know the Novel, Part 3!

The fabulous Christine Smith is hosting the third part of her writerly linkup this month and I’m hopping on to share about how my 10th NaNoWriMo (Nov. 2019) went! (Spoiler alert: It went REALLY well.)

Firstly, I should explain that I’ll be talking about two different stories, since I ended up going Rebel for this NaNo and writing some of Operation Foxtail (codename) and also working on my novella WIP Double Lives at Kedran’s Wood.

Also, near the end I’m sharing a few snippets from the Tare novella!

THE QUESTIONS

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

Operation Foxtail: Smashingly well! I wrote 35K, which, although not 50K, is gobstoppingly fantastic considering I didn’t even know if I could write a chapter. XD And I already had some snippets and stuff for this, so I got to connect a bunch of those, and it felt AMAZING. I got stuck a couple of times but was able to pants through the difficult bits until I got to the end of my rough outline and decided I should stop (instead of floundering around with a part I didn’t know what to do with). I think I’m probably about halfway… which I’m super excited about.

And then I switched to something else to finish up my 50K for NaNo. Because Rebel. 😛 (I’ve been doing a lot of NaNo rebelling lately. XD)

Double Lives at Kedran’s Wood (KW2.5): Pretty well! I mean, I wrote 15K on this one and I was able to more than double the wordcount I had before NaNo. I binge-wrote 15K in 5 days so that’s pretty good for me. XD I’d been stuck in the middle part of this novella for a few months and this gave me the chance to finish the middle and get probably half through the big ending stuff.

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

OF: I’m not sure! I didn’t really know what to expect, but I thiiiink it turned out pretty well so far? And how do I feel? ECSTATIC. I am just so, so, so happy that I got to write so much on this thing, and while I do have a couple of not-sure feelings about one or two things, and it got progressively messier as I went, I’m still super pleased with what I wrote! *happy pterodactyl screaming* Some aspects are definitely different than I expected, but I didn’t really know WHAT to expect, so. And some parts were even better, and I just had a BLAST. 😀

KW2.5: It turned out more rambly than I thought it would and I hoped to be done with it by now (it’s at 27K), but anyway. XD I’m pretty happy? I feel like it’s a mess and for some reason I’m not totally happy with how this one’s been turning out, buuut I’m glad to be getting the rough draft down, either way. And writing it during NaNo and pushing through the parts I didn’t know forced me to pants a little which actually turned out really interesting, especially near the end there… So I guess I’m pleased I got this far. 🙂

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

OF: Definitely the characters and dialog. So much fun! I love them so much. 😀 And certain plot/theme/settings that I’m just super excited about! *zips lips*

KW2.5: Probably the dialog and shenanigans that are clearly a part of any story involving two opposite characters ending up looking like each other and having to fill in for each other’s lives. XD A buddy-story where they look like each other instead of themselves is proving to have lots of fun. And I loved the unexpected fantasy parts at the end that happened when I was figuring it out as I went.

4. How about your least favorite part?

OF: Probably the parts where I didn’t know what was going to happen, since that’s scary to a plotter like me. XD But they all worked out so far? But honestly, until I got stuck there at the end and decided to switch, and aside from the times when I didn’t want to write just because of life, I pretty much enjoyed every single part of writing this thing so far! IT WAS SO FUN. AAAAHH.

KW2.5: I was having a tough time with this one, just in general. I think I’m second-guessing a lot of it because it had a lot of new dynamics I wasn’t used to writing with this series… So nothing specific, just trying to get through difficult bits. And using it to try to finish NaNo early since the last week of the month was CRAZY.

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

OF: I’m not sure I’m revealing plot things at the right pace… But it’s in first-person so it’s a little hard to gauge that. XD I’m sure I’ll need to deal with more PLOT things since, you know, plot is important and I still only have a hazy idea of the second half, which I’m sure will affect the first half. 😛 But otherwise it actually feels a little more polished than sometimes, at least early on.

KW2.5: It just feels messy and rambly, honestly. *hides face* I don’t really know. XD

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!

OF: My favorite is definitely the hero. HE’S JUST GREAT OKAY. But I love all of them. And yes, they all surprised me! :O That time my heroine yelled at a dragon… That time my laid-back hero got furious… That time one side-character’s attitude was so much more attitude-ish than I thought… That way another side character manages to contain two opposite sorts of temperaments and also ended up in the story way more than I thought she would be… It’s been interesting!

(Yes, I’m sharing this pic collage for KW2.5 again and I’m not sorry. XD)

KW2.5: Tare is always my favorite, but I guess it gets complicated who’s my favorite when Tare looks like Adrian and Adrian looks like Tare. XD I sort of enjoyed writing some of Adrian’s parts more because he’s filling in for Tare’s life, which is fun. XD And I guess they both are a little hard to predict in their different settings… So that’s been fun. Heheh.

(Also I realized that both of these don’t really have character-villains at this point in the story at least, so I don’t really have a least favorite. Is it fair when the antagonist is more of a… magical mishap for KW2.5 (left over from book 2’s villain) and… TBD for Operation Foxtail? *cough*)

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

OF: I’m not sure. I’m taking a break, definitely, to work on KW2.5 and just recover from NaNo and deal with holiday busyness, and then I guess at some point I need to plot the rest of the book and write the second half. Heh. Eheheh. Not sure how soon that will happen, but at some point!

KW2.5: I’m taking off a bit to recover from NaNo and then I would love to see if I can finish this novella this month… if possible, in the midst of Christmas and general life-catch-up. 😛 I probably only have a couple of chapters left? Hopefully?

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

OF: I really want this one published. Like. Really. Obviously, I don’t know in what way or when, but maybe someday. XD In the meantime my dream is to finish it and for it to turn out how I want it and to manage to edit it, at least enough to get it to beta-readers! Which I’m really excited about. So. We’ll see. 😛

KW2.5: I don’t really know. XD It’s a novella for fun, in the middle of a series for fun, so… have it finished and how I want it? Maybe publish it someday? It’s a little far out still, though.

9. Share some of your favorite snippets!

I’m not quite ready to share Operation Foxtail stuff yet, so you get a few from Mixup at Kedran’s Wood! 🙂

(Context for this first one: Tare-who-looks-like-Adrian, along with Adrian’s sister, Emily, are talking over speaker-phone with Adrian-who-looks-like-Tare.)

***

“We just kind of assumed you broke up with Ivy or something.”

“What?” Adrian said, alarmed. “She—I—we didn’t!”

“Mm-hmm,” Emily said. “It’s just one of the only reasons I could think of why you might actually be acting like this.”

“Tare, stop acting like my girlfriend dumped you. Me. Whatever.”

“I’m not,” Tare snapped. “I’m acting normal.”

“You never act normal.”

“I’m acting normal for me,” Tare said.

“I know. That’s why I told you to stop.”

Tare narrowed his eyes. “You’d better be glad we’re not in the same room.”

***

“We need to get a selfie!” Baz said.

Adrian blinked. “Does Tare do selfies?”

“I’m quite certain he doesn’t, which means we have the once in a lifetime opportunity to get selfies with Tare while he’s not here. I understand that doesn’t make sense when put into words, but . . . anyway,” Baz added.

“Oh, fine,” Adrian said with a half smile. He got up and slid into the side of the booth with Lavender and Baz and leaned over toward them. He grinned (which looked wrong on Tare’s face) and made a peace sign at the camera which resulted in Baz and Lavender both laughing way too hard while Baz snapped the photo, so it looked like they were having the life of the hilarious party.

Adrian dug out his—Tare’s—phone and took one on that too.

“Tare’s going to kill me,” he said, grinning.

“Oh, he’s going to kill all of us,” Baz said cheerily. “It was toootally worth it though.”

***

Tare covered his face with one hand. “What did you do?” he groaned.

“I was just a little conversational—it’s not a crime,” Adrian protested.

“Conversational,” Tare said, “is something that I am not. If you just made it where people are going to start making small talk with me for hours, I’m going to kill you.”

“Add it to the list,” Adrian said with a grin.

Tare scowled all over Adrian’s face. “You do that. And stop grinning with my face.”

“You’re one to talk,” Adrian said, tossing a twig over the fire in Tare’s direction. “Scowls look terrible on me. Cut it out.”

***

“You don’t own anything not-black, do you,” Adrian said. “I was thinking maybe I could find something else to wear, maybe even some grey, but nooo, it’s all black. It’s depressing, that’s what it is.”

“You know what’s depressing? All the yellow you have,” Tare said, pushing aside a branch and not bothering to hold it, so it sort of tried to thwack Adrian in the face before he could catch it. “I had to work to find this.” Tare turned half-way around and flicked the dark grey fabric on his chest.

“It’s no wonder people thought I was depressed and had broken up with Ivy, with you dressing in dark clothes like that,” Adrian said. “And there’s nothing wrong with yellow.”

“I wouldn’t be caught dead in most of your wardrobe. And your jeans are too blue,” Tare said over his shoulder.

Adrian threw his hands up. “Jeans are supposed to be blue!”

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

I learned, as I often do during NaNo, that I’m capable of writing large amounts of words in less than a month, even when I feel stuck, as long as I just sit down and do it. I also learned that writing a book that you’re excited about is the. most. fun. And that pantsing does occasionally lead to exciting unplanned things, which I don’t like to admit, since pantsing scares me because I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen. XD


I hope y’all enjoyed this little peek into how NaNo went for me!

All told, I wrote 50,188 words in 25 days, and finished the earliest I’d ever finished NaNo! Life was kind of stressful but writing-wise it was a spectacular 10th NaNo! ^_^

Also, partway through, I hit a million words, which I shared about in a previous post. I’m still pretty excited about that. 🙂

If you did NaNo, how did yours go? And let me know if you liked the snippets. XD Who else is in denial it’s December?? *raises hand* I hope you had a good November, regardless!

(Whoops…)

Awk, I accidentally posted a post wrong, so if you got an email about it with a non-working link, I APOLOGIZE.

My Know the Novel post for wrapping up NaNo 2019 will be going up tomorrow morning (spoiler alert: NaNo went great!).

SORRY.

Carry on. XD

Posted in All

A Million Words Are Keeping Me Awake…

Something exciting happened this week — I hit a million words!

In the summer of 2010, I started keeping a daily/weekly writing log, and I also started tracking how many words (of actual manuscripts/stories) I wrote. I had already been writing for a few years before that, but ever since July 2010 I’ve kept fairly detailed records of my monthly manuscript words written. And I just hit a rather exciting milestone . . .

Since starting to track my wordcounts, I have now officially written

one

million

words.

Of course, I had been writing for awhile before that. And I am not including plotting or emails or the gadjillions of blog posts I’ve written, etc. Just actual draft words, counted since July 2010.

Some people say that once you’ve written a million words, your writing starts to be good. I don’t know how true (or not) that may be, but regardless of any writing mythology, 1,000,000 is still a pretty exciting number to hit.

Like a million dreams (you have the song in your head, now, don’t you? You’re welcome), a million words represent this single subcreator’s adventures of the written page so far.

I’ve journeyed through dozens of fantastical far-distant lands (who’s to call them imaginary or not?), with hundreds of characters who have been friends and enemies and kindred spirits, and it’s been a decade-long journey of a million words poured onto pages physical and digital, like ink or blood or the essense of the soul.

And I’ve learned a lot on the way — probably more than I even know that I learned, because that’s part of the journey, you see. Many sights still await. Many discoveries. The words that have been written — some of them are pretty good, and many others of them will never see the light of day, but they served a purpose; they served Story. And they’re the stepping stones that lead to a farther path. Regardless of their state, I’m terribly glad that I decided to write those words. You can’t be on a journey without those first steps — sometimes those first hundred, thousand, or million steps.

The numbers don’t matter, on their own. But it does help, sometimes, when the road seems long, to look back and see how far you’ve traveled. One step in front of the other. One more word on the page. Until you realize that you’re partway up that seemingly insurmountable mountain, after all.

The words, or their amount, are not the point. But the story is. And you can’t have the story without the words.

Here’s to a million more.

In Which I’m Kidnapped (Interviewed) by the Frabjous Ness Kingsley

Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know that I’m being interviewed today over on Ness Kingsley’s blog and it’s a total blast!

She is always one of the MOST DELIGHTFUL of bloggers and humans, with one of my top favorite blogs (it’s so funny, halp!) — plus, being from England and probably ranking as the world’s #1 fan of Georgette Heyer are further marks in her favor!

Also, her questions are hilarious WHILE being insightful, and I had a blast answering them, so you definitely don’t want to miss it.

So please go here: [i totally didn’t kidnap deborah o’carroll for an interview. pfft.] unless, as Ness delightfully puts it “DON’T READ ON … if you don’t want book recommendations, VITAL TIPS on participating in NaNoWriMo, and a banquet of scintillating conversation.”

Thanks for reading!