Ishness! NaNo, Christmas, New Year

Oh, hi, my dear Roadlings! It’s been absolutely AGES since I did an Ishness (I think the last one was my Realm Makers Ishness?) — or, well, blogged in general (*cough* I’m sorry, guys!) — so it’s CLEARLY time to do so again!

November, December, and January are the three months which at the blink of an eye mysteriously vanish to wherever missing pens go. So obviously this whole not-blogging-much thing is not my fault. (I jest. It’s totally my fault. And the unreliable internet which has been victimizing me.)

I guess I’ve been busy living life instead of writing about it? And kind of unmotivated as far as blogging goes. Sometimes you just feel tired, you know? But I’ve missed you guys! And writing Ishness posts!

(I . . . er . . . accidentally wrote one after NaNo and then proceeded to get so busy that I never posted it! :O Whoops. So I will just squeeze two more months onto it. As you were.)

So I’m officially back, and I’m here with a recap of my 9th NaNoWriMo, December holidays, and New Year beginnings!

WRITING

November

Writing highlights include:

  • Winning NaNo for the 9th time!
  • Finishing The Siren and the Skyship!!! (Still in the clouds about this one.) *pretends that wasn’t a terrible pun* XD
  • Beating my personal record of words in a day and writing 8K words. 😛
  • Wordwars!! Wordsprinting with friends is one of my favorite things. It’s just so motivating and it’s fun hanging out online with people and getting to chat but also being productive. Seriously, surviving NaNo is so much easier with wordsprints!
  • Finishing NaNo on the 27th!
  • Staying up until midnight on November 30th writing until the very last moment, cheering on one of my bestest writing pals (who won with three minutes to spare).
  • Hitting 58K, my largest wordcount for a single month, ever! (Yay for more records! XD)
  • Staying on par the entire month! (A huge relief. I hate falling behind, and the first week or so it was a serious struggle to stay on that bar, but I managed it because I was determined not to fall behind!)
  • Getting soooo close to finishing KW2. Just two or three chapters from the end. I was super excited. (Plus, finishing “Part 2” of that book, which was a milestone I kept not being sure if I’d ever get to. XD)

It was tough sometimes, and I had my share of days when I just didn’t want to write, or had no clue where to go next in my stories. But I stayed on track, finished one book and nearly finished another, and it was an excellent NaNo on the whole!

December + January

I’m squishing these together because not a lot happened in them, writing-wise. *cough* I had big plans of finishing KW2 in December . . . and then in January . . . and neither really happened. 😛

I did write a couple thousand words across the two months, mostly on KW2. I also finished one writing journal and started another for the new year, did some plotting, and met up with various writer friends (!!) and went to a few writers workshops.

OH! And I did write on my “Writing Day” which happens every January 20th. Because every year on that day, I write something, even if it’s just a snippet, and since I first started in 2010, this was my tenth annual one. Every January 20th for a decade, I wrote on one of my stories, and that’s kind of special to me. 🙂

It was overall a very quiet couple of months on the writing front. I’m trying to forgive myself for that, given the busyness and tiredness and all of that. I did sort of write 58K in November, so a couple of quiet months to recover should be allowed. Maybe?

READING

November – December (in reverse order)

Highlights included Mark of the Raven, Falling Snow, fun Christmas-y stories, finishing my Dalemark re-read, and my new favorite, Echo North! (It’s like a month and a half since I’ve read Echo North and I still have a book hangover…)

January

I got off to a fun start for my reading this year. Highlights include The Fall of Gondolin and A Tale of Time City. You can check out mini-thoughts on each of these in my latest Book Ishness over on my book blog!

WATCHING

  • I saw Mortal Engines in the theater and it was SO MUCH FUN. XD I don’t know why I liked it but it was an absolute blast and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. (And now I want to read the book.)
  • I also saw Mary Poppins Returns, which was fairly enjoyable. I particularly liked the lamplighter dance scene!

Other notable things I saw in the last three months:

  • Despicable Me 2 (fun!).
  • Mowgli (. . . interesting).
  • Some Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes since I hadn’t seen any of those before!
  • A neat mystery called Ace Wonder which I really enjoyed!
  • I also finished the second season of NCIS and am NOT OKAY. *cough*
  • Re-watched It’s a Wonderful Life and A Muppet Christmas Carol for Christmas. 🙂
  • And I re-watched Captain America: Civil War (because Bucky!) and Snow White and the Huntsman (because Thor wasn’t in Captain America; KIDDING. XD).
  • And I finally saw The Secret World of Arrietty which is MY NEW FAVORITE THING. ❤ (I grew up reading the Borrowers books, and vaguely avoided the movie for years because I was terrified it would be dreadful. But I ADORED IT. And have a sudden need to re-watch it and Howl’s Moving Castle and go find more Studio Ghibli films since those are the only two I’ve seen.)

LISTENING

So, back in November, I started listening to Scarlet by Marissa Meyer on audiobook. I NEVER LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS. (Well. Almost never. Let’s just say it’s an Occasion. A small one, but still.) I was at a write-in and saw it at the library and couldn’t resist picking it up since I read Cinder not long before. This was a Terrible Idea because I was far too busy to finish it during NaNo and it had to go back to the library. However! I did enjoy myself and have picked it up again recently — but that’s probably part of some future February Ishness so HUSH. SPOILERS.

During Nano, I also did a ton of listening to the Piano Guys’ version of Rewrite the Stars, on repeat, during wordwars. XD

December brought Christmas music which I really enjoyed this year for some reason.

In January, I discovered some new music such as Celtic rock and Tide Lines (a new favorite band! This song has been stuck in my head nonstop and yes I am currently listening to it and regret nothing. XD) and some others. I must listen to more!

Continuing my audiobook obsession, I re-listened to The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame in January — it’s very short but HILARIOUS and absolutely awesome and I highly recommend reading it. ❤

LIFE

November

November was terribly busy. In a good way. But whew! I’m very much a homebody and I have no idea how people manage to write NaNo when they’re busy and juggling jobs/school/whatever. I salute you guys. But anyway…

Busy (but awesome) things included:

  • Hardly being home the first four days of NaNo and squeezing in writing here and there, in places like the car on the way to-and-from places.
  • An awesome library book-sale which always coincides nicely with NaNo when I should be writing. XD

 

  • My aunt and uncle visiting, which was so much fun! And taking them to the Magnolia Market/Silos etc. (If any of y’all come see it, let me know . . . 😉 I haven’t seen the show, but.)
  • I’m the ML — which stands for Municipal Liaison — for my NaNo region so I was quite busy organizing events, sending messages, and managing forums. One more crazy thing during NaNo. XD I’ve done it six years now, so I’m kind of used to it, but it’s still busy.

  • Having write-in events every weekend — there was much writing and hanging out with other Wrimos.
  • Which reminds me that some of the best moments were chatting with friends old and new — at home, at booksales, at a writer class, at write-ins, in line for a bookstore. I’m an introvert sometimes, but you know, people are awesome too. ❤

  • Thanksgiving. Food. Pies. Nom nom.

Standing in line getting some reading in!

  • Standing in line on Black Friday for the first time in my life, because a bookstore was having a special giveaway. Yes. This is the only thing that can tempt me to go shopping on such a day. Or… ever, in general. XD (Boooooks.) (Fortunately, the bookworm line was small and orderly and we had some lovely bookish chats.)
  • Spontaneously crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves instead of writing. They’ve been so handy!
  • Going for “like-a-quick-lady” walks and runs with my audiobook, and plot-walks with my sister. (Plot walks are magical and consist of talking out the problems in the plot so that I know what to write next.)

Found a cozy bench/garden to curl up with this book while at a fair. ❤

  • Sneaking in reading occasionally, like at a fair and in the car.
  • Some beta-reading and editing, which are of course the best jobs during an already bookish month. 😉
  • In fact, one of the things I beta-read during NaNo is coming out later this month! It’s an utterly charming retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians, called The Road to Bremen, and I adored it!

December Highlights

  • A post-NaNo celebration with cupcakes!

Otter!

  • A fun trip to the zoo with lovely writer friends!

  • Meeting up with some friends from Realm Makers and having a blast chatting over lunch!

  • Sending Christmas cards.
  • A few days of just relaxing and reading Diana Wynne Jones. I kind of needed that after all the crazy that was November.
  • Going to see Mortal Engines and Mary Poppins Returns with my siblings.
  • Peppermint shakes!

  • General quiet, cozy Christmas celebrations with family.

  • Curling up with Echo North and reading it in the cold near-end of the year! ❤

January Highlights

  • Ringing in the New Year watching some fireworks and seeing a shooting star.
  • Starting new journals! My favorite. 😀 Seriously, my writing journal and my bullet journal are super helpful and fun.
  • Some writers’ workshops.
  • Plot-walks with my sis.
  • Mail! Always makes my day. ❤

  • Started trying to make fingerless gloves again. XD
  • Working on some new habits and goals. I’m trying a new thing in my bullet-journal with a habit-tracker that I color in. It’s been fabulous so far!
  • Saw the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse! It was super cold out but so worth it.

February Plans

Things I’d love to get done this month:

  • Quite a bit more blogging (my poor abandoned blogs!)
  • Read some review books and review them
  • Read other things Because Reasons
  • Finish writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (I KNOW. I can’t believe I’m not done yet but I still want to do this! *collapses*)
  • Also, How to Train Your Dragon 3 is coming out this month and I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR THIS. SEND HELP.

Loved this display at the theater when I saw Mary Poppins Returns


Whew! If you made it through this you deserve a cupcake.

In brief:

I made it through my 9th NaNo and I’m super pleased with how it turned out! And so glad I decided to go Rebel and work on trying to finish two WIPs. 😀 There were some rough spots and it was one of my busiest NaNos, but overall it went amazingly and was an awesome month.

December was a mix of busyness and lovely relaxing, and much hanging out with awesome people and Christmas coziness. January was generally quietly starting out the year, with a mix of slumps and bright moments.

And now we’re well into February and EXCUSE ME, Mr. Time, but who gave you permission to run away like this? Ahem. If you need me, I’ll just be over here wrapped in a shock blanket, wondering how we’re this far into 2019 already. 😛

What have you been up to lately? How has your year started off? And have you missed the Ishnesses and should I bring ’em back? Speak to me in the comments! Thanks for reading! ❤

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New Year Calls: 2019 + Writing Ishness of 2018

Happy New Year, my dearest Roadlings! *throws confetti cleverly shaped like little 2019s*

This is the obligatory new-year post but it’s a little different because it’s two weeks late not all goals and accomplishments and resolutions. (Though there’s some of that.)

New Year calls and I’m terribly tempted to pretend like Bilbo that I’m not at home. XD *cough*

We’re already 2 weeks into 2019 and I haven’t figured out all my writing goals yet and . . . I feel a little stressed about that. The pressure is on when the new year hits to figure out All The Things and set goals etc. And I simply haven’t. (Particularly for my writing, which is slightly awkward because this is a writing-ish blog.)

But you know what? It’s okay.

I don’t have to know all the things I want to do this year RIGHT NOW. I do know the next thing I want to do, and that should be enough for this moment.

And if it isn’t, it ought to be.

(*shoos list-aholic self to sit somewhere in the back row instead of booing in the front one* Ahem. >.>)

I’m sitting here wondering why I’m so stressed and thinking how I should let it go . . . and I just glanced at the writing journal I finished minutes before midnight brought in the New Year and it made me pause and reflect, because I’d totally forgotten about it.

Here’s an excerpt of my quietly-excited New Year’s Eve self, inking dreams for the future:

“. . . that the windings of the road of this writer will bring me to wondrous places and tales of the fantastic and of the heart. I don’t know for sure my goals for 2019. But I hope to meet it with a deep breath and a soul ready for the wild adventure of this road that calls me onward to new horizons of pen and paper and imagination — and the love of worlds to touch our souls and show us the stars. Whatever goals and dreams await, onward — let’s rise to meet them with the dawn beyond the horizon. The stars and the sky of imagination await! Happy New Year and may 2019 be filled with words of wonder!”

As I’ve been stressing out these last few days, I’d totally forgotten I wrote that — I suppose that enchanted hour before the turn of the year was closed in the final pages of the book that was 2018 and I forgot to open it and look at it again until just now.

Granted, it’s a little dramatic (I don’t always write like that in my journals, I promise. XD), and may be harking back to my steampunk WIP world, but it’s the feeling that remains.

That girl sitting in the light of the Christmas tree scribbling her soul down before the new year arrived . . . I want to be her. She was so excited and full of hope, and even though the future was strange and she only had a faint idea of what might come next, she was ready to embrace it and make it beautiful to the best of her abilities.

She wrote those words and then went out and stood in the cold under the stars, and watched fireworks ring in the New Year and talked and laughed, and saw a falling star, and the night was full of magic.

So I don’t know my goals. And that’s all right. I have vague inklings of possibilities and I’ll hopefully pick some of them and goal-ify them at some point . . . but here are a few.

Goal Options

  • I know I want to finish The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2), since I’m still a couple of chapters from finishing. I’m so close that I can taste the final scenes but I haven’t quite dared to sit down and actually go for it. The pressure. (New Year’s Eve me thinks I should just get on and DO it already. In time, in time. Tare will make sure it happens, I don’t doubt . . .)

After that . . . I don’t know, exactly.

  • I should like to do something with The Siren and the Skyship, but I don’t know what its next step is — whether that’s working on rewriting it or carrying on with starting the next book in the series. Decisions, decisions.

  • I will probably end up working on something in Tare’s series after I finish KW2, but there are many options there, so again, I don’t know. (I should probably edit KW2 as well, which is a slightly scary thought. At least editing the new parts to be beta-readable . . . which is more doable.)

  • The Other Half of Everything lurks patiently and occasionally tackles me and makes me write a snippet or part of a chapter here and there. So I might work on it more — it always plays second fiddle to whatever my main project is, so someday I suspect it’s going to work its way into the spotlight of my main focus. We’ll just have to see when that might be.
  • And I have a few short stories I’d like to finish.
  • Plus, there are always other novels lurking, in case I’d like to be kidnapped by one of them, although the three above have been my Big Three for the last while.

So you see, I have plenty of options. I just don’t know, after this one goal (last 2 chapters of KW2), which option is going to pick me. (Because sometimes it feels that way instead of the other way around . . .)

Non-Story Goals

  • I’d like to a.) blog a fair amount, b.) actually do something with the newsletter list I started (*nervous laughter*), and c.) I’d love to go to Realm Makers again if I possibly can. (Which raises another question regarding what I should do before then, with which novels, for what next steps, if anything can happen on time — which is doubtful — and all of that’s a little too terrifying for me to want to think about just yet.)
  • Book reviews and my copyediting business will also continue, hopefully, so I’m excited for that. 🙂

It’s all very well to pretend you’re not home when the Sackville-Bagginses come calling, but who knows if 2019 might not be, instead, a whole bunch of dwarves and a wizard, waiting to take us on an adventure? We might miss out. So I think I’ll answer that door anyhow, even if I don’t know my dreams and goals yet. 😉

Speaking of dreams and goals, here’s a quick run-down of accomplishments of the last year, from my 2018 dreams post, since I’m curious how I did with them!

Dreams from 2018 that came true

  1. Finish a novel (possibly The Siren and the Skyship) — CHECK! This was definitely a highlight, finishing in the midst of NaNo.
  2. Start Instagramming — Done! I’ve already posted over 100 bookish pictures there since starting in July and it’s the. most. fun. thing. ever!
  3. Start a Facebook pageCheck! Though I should definitely get back to posting on it more . . .
  4. Set up my official website — DONE! This was one of the hugest and most exhausting but also rewarding things. I did it all by myself and it was hard but I’m super happy with how it turned out.
  5. Spend more time writing stories/characters I love most — Check! Tare and The Other Half of Everything and The Siren and the Skyship definitely qualify.
  6. Get my freelance proofreading/copyediting business off the ground — Done! I spent a lot of last year editing fabulous stories for Kyle Robert Shultz, mostly. (My new title is The Editor of the Afterverse.) I’m excited for the projects I have lined up to hopefully edit this year. I adore polishing novels and short stories, catching all the typos in my typo-net. ❤ I’m calling it a very successful first year of editing. 🙂
  7. Have a giveaway or two — Done! I love giving away books so I hope to keep doing that.
  8. Go to the Realm Makers 2018 conference — YES! When I wrote that as a “dream” I had no idea it could actually happen, but it did and was the most amazing experience! (A post and another post about it.)

Half Accomplished

  1. Start a newsletter — Check! Ish. I set it up but haven’t really sent one out yet, which is slightly awkward. (But it’s terrifying, okay!) Setting up the list itself is a start. I hope to figure out the grand art of newsletters soon-ish. (And hey, if you sign up for it you get a free flash fiction, and will get to read my first newsletter I send, whenever I do! XD)
  2. Just write (no more perfectionism/not-starting) — Sort of? I’d say 50/50 on this.
  3. Letting myself have writing time — Not really? But at the same time I did write a fair amount. I do need to work on these two more, though.
  4. Develop the Siren and the Skyship sequels — Part of me is tempted to say I accomplished this, given that the two sequels have exploded and changed and switched places and also stolen parts of book one. So they’re more developed, but definitely not enough to actually write. So, again, half.
  5. Be open about writing dreams/thoughts on my blog — I did at times, but I also didn’t blog here nearly as much as I usually do, since I was rather busy living life, so I feel like I didn’t have much of a chance to talk about these things.
  6. Get closer to publishing something — The writing, learning, and network building that I’ve done this past year is definitely getting me closer to this elusive goal, but there’s still nothing definite. So I’m calling this half-accomplished.

Didn’t Do

  1. Finish the short stories I started — Nope. But I nearly finished two novels so I’m okay with this. It just wasn’t their time, apparently. 😛
  2. Figure out what I plan to do about publishing — I’ve learned a lot more in the last year about publishing, both traditional and indie, but I’m still no closer to a decision about what I’m going to do with my own writing.
  3. Write more blog posts — Heheh. Not really. XD
  4. Gather publishing/marketing info as a list of tips — Nope. Would still like to do this someday, maybe?

Well! I’m pretty happy with how many of those dreams I managed to track down and haul into becoming a reality! 🙂

A few other highlights:

Writerly Highlights: 2018

I wrote 103K words in 2018! Which makes me happy. (I usually average around that much but had quite a bit less in 2017 so I’m happy that my slump went away. XD)

This included:

  • 51,600 words of The Siren and the Skyship and finished it at a total of 95K!
  • 42,700 words of KW2 (which is currently at 123K and almost finished. *cough*)
  • 4,000 words of The Other Half of Everything, including finishing the first chapter (even though I have about 18K of the book total; I write out of order . . . it’s complicated.)

Other writing stuff that happened:

  • My 2013 NaNo, Underground Rainbow, decided it’s actually a trilogy and split itself into three parts. (This means the first book is suddenly finished, even though I didn’t write any extra. How beautiful is that?)
  • The two sequels to The Siren and the Skyship exploded and then switched places, so that book 3 is now book 2, and book 2 is now book 3. It broke my brain but I’m excited. I also had major breakthroughs about the Sky Voyages series in general.
  • Tare’s series had a couple of interesting developments regarding side stories.
  • I did some major plotting for The Other Half of Everything.
  • Tare and a KW side character nobody’s met yet, along with the purple-haired painter/artist Kevin Johnson from Undercavern Rainbow, as well as Ivan and Lulin Aurelius from The Other Half of Everything, and a raven-shifter fellow, have all decided that they want an urban fantasy novel mashup with all of them in it, and that they’re going to team up for a magical heist, and EXCUSE ME why did none of you guys tell me your books existed in the same world?? HELLO. O_O (Pushy characters. I tell ya.) Anyway, that happened. It’s called The Portal Heist and I’m super excited. I do, awkwardly, have to finish several other books before I can get to this one, but it gives me something to look forward to. 😉

I also:

  • Won a flash-fiction writing contest
  • Was a finalist in another flash-fiction contest
  • Did Camp NaNo in April and passed my 10-hour goal
  • Participated in (and won) NaNoWriMo in November for the 9th time. I wrote 58,323 words, which is the most I’ve written in a single month, ever.
  • Won the Indie E-con word-war with over 10K words in a week. XD
  • Kept my 9th writing-journal and wrote in it every week
  • I mentioned this, but I expanded my online platform with my new website, Instagram, Facebook and Facebook page, and newsletter.
  • Had many lovely get-togethers with delightful writer friends, including workshops, a writer retreat in a cozy cabin over a weekend, Realm Makers (!!), NaNoWriMo events, and just getting together in small groups and chatting. ❤
  • Ran a local NaNo region for the 6th year
  • Wrote 92 blog posts (across my two blogs), including a guest post about Draft Zero
  • And it’s not exactly writerly, but I went on two major roadtrips this last year (one to Realm Makers, one to visit family) and they were both awesome. We can call that research?

Whew! I had no idea so much awesomeness happened. I’m very glad I decided to write this post after all and found out. XD

I’m going to call 2018 an EXCELLENT year in the writing department, and look forward to the new year.

2019.

*tastes how it sounds*

Let’s make it a good one, shall we?

I’ll leave you with my new bullet journal (bjournal, as I Nordic-ly call it) and my new writing journal — a fabulous steampunk cat!

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! 🙂

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!)

Tare & Steampunk Little Merman: In Which I Go Rebel For NaNo 2018 (Know the Novel Intro Linkup)

(Just to clarify on that silly post title: Tare and the Steampunk Little Merman are not in the SAME story. XD)

Today I’m joining in on Christine Smith’s fun new noveling linkup to share about my 2018 NaNo project!

But first, a little about my plans.

I’m officially going all-out Rebel for NaNo this year.

There, I said it. 😛

Fun facts in list form (because lists!):

  • We’ll see if it goes according to plan, but I’m currently hoping to work on two different books I’ve started before.
  • So I’m… like… a double Rebel. XD (Since you’re “supposed to” start a new work and only write one thing.)
  • This will be my 9th NaNo. (Whaaat?? Where did time go?)
  • PLUS, this is really my first purposeful time of going Rebel for NaNo!
  • I’ve rebelled two other times, but both were by accident. 😛
  • One year I got halfway into the month and totally scrapped the book, realizing I’d need to rewrite it, and so worked on two other things.
  • And then last year I wrote a short story as well as starting a new novel but that was kind of a last-minute decision.

At the moment my goal is to FINISH (or at least get quite close to their endings) TWO novels I’ve been working on:

1) The Siren and the Skyship (steampunk-fantasy YA Little Mermaid — I mean Merman — retelling) — I started this for NaNo last year, got 40-some thousand words written (because of said short story which filled in the rest of the 50K) and have been working on it all year since. It’s now up to 73K and I’m hoping that I can finish it next month.

2) The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (YA contemporary fantasy, book 2 in a series, featuring Tare — my favorite character. Shh, don’t tell anyone else. …Eh, never mind. They know already. 😛 ) — I’ve been writing this since… erm… 2014. *cough* It’s currently a monstrous mess of about 86K words, including snippets and bits all over the place and I really want to get those sewn together and the book finished up finally.

I have in my mind about how long I’d like them both to be, and to fill that up for each would be a combined total of about 50K. (I’m 10000% aware that my novels love to laugh in my face and be way longer than I planned. But at least I can make SOME progress??)

SO YEAH. No exciting new novel to announce this year — sorry! Just continuing on two old favorites of mine. Which, honestly, has me super excited because I love them. ^_^

Usually, I spend NaNo starting new books and not finishing them, so this year I figured I’d try something new.

But also, endings are scary and hard and whyamIdoingthistomyselfhalp, so… wish me luck. *bites nails*

SO. I’m going to do Christine Smith’s exciting new novel linkup, Know the Novel, to talk a little about both of these! I know I’ve rambled about both books before, but I’m excited about these questions so I’m going to talk more about my precious book brainchilds — so there. 😛 Hopefully y’all won’t mind. 😉


Giveaway Winner

OH! And last week I shared some NaNo writing tips and ran a giveaway for a copy of “No Plot? No Problem!” by NaNo founder Chris Baty, and today I’m excited to announce that the winner is…

Lilian S.!

Congrats, Lilian! I’ll be contacting you shortly. 🙂

Thanks so much for entering, everyone! ^_^


Now, onward to the Official Linkup Questions!

If you want to know more Tare things or stuff about my steampunk Little Mermaid book (including NEW AND IMPROVED BLURBS — YAY! — for both books), then read on!

Know the Novel, a writers linkup by Christine @ Musings of an Elf! Image from her post.

(Abbreviations: The Secret of Kedran’s Wood = KW2. The Siren and the Skyship: S&S.)

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

S&S: The idea of a Little Mermaid retelling in the sky instead of in the sea, with a wind/cloud siren instead of a merperson — and the siren being a guy, while the heroine is a princess and a skyship captain… because steampunk. >:D So yeah.

KW2: After writing the first book (which was supposed to be a standalone — hahahaHAHAHA — ahem), I still had adventures to explore with Tare and the Chess Club. I loved them too much to stop writing them. Originally there was going to be one sequel (which is now book 3) but then I had an idea for a fun little wintry/Christmassy short story or novella between the two, since I had some fun winter scenes in mind. So I started writing that. Then it became book 2 and is currently a monstrously long novel. Figures. 😉

2. Share a blurb!

The Siren and the Skyship (Sky Voyages Ever After, #1)

Searching for his father’s killer, Prince Auren the Cloud Siren needs to be more substantial than a wind spirit. But to become human he must make a trade. Who needs a voice, anyway?

Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley of the Royal Skynavy finds her life thrown into chaos when assassins strike. She’ll do anything to stop a war from erupting between the sky city states and tearing apart what’s left of her family.

Fighting to forge a new life for himself in the skynavy after everything he holds dear is ripped away, Stirling Rook holds the most dangerous secret of all—one the Sorcerer of the Mist will be happy to take off his hands.

Assassins prowl cloud city rooftops, the pirate king terrorizes the skies, unknown death lurks down the misty ravines where no one goes, and the Sorcerer of the Mist keeps collecting things that don’t belong to him . . .

Tasmania, Auren, and the Star Dreamer’s crew may soar through the clouds on skyships and clockwork dragons, but have they traded away the only thing that can defeat the darkness?

One thing’s for sure: they’ll need all the magic, tea, and true love they can find.

***

The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (Kedran’s Wood, #2)

All that monster stuff the Chess Club of Kedran’s Wood went through in the summer is absolutely and completely over. Totally. Isn’t it?

There are mysteries afoot in the town by Kedran’s Wood. Mr. Larch’s sister is visiting, but the rest of the Chess Club haven’t actually seen her. What is the connection between the Wildlings and the new guy around town and his goons? And why are they looking for Tare?

Speaking of which . . . the resident leather-clad stranger (no longer so strange) returns from his absence one snowy December day. Tare does some investigating of his own into the people looking for him, but he’s haunted by nightmares and the approach of a night that might make his worst fears a reality.

Harold Starrford and his step-father aren’t going to stop until they know the information Tare possesses, and they don’t care who gets caught in the crossfire. Tare’s not going to have that — not in his town. Throw in a mysterious dog that keeps popping up around town, and a legend of a dark faerie (which might not be so legendary), and it’s business as usual around Kedran’s Wood for the Chess Club and Tare these days.

And, oh yeah, Christmas is coming. How is the Chess Club going to find time for gingerbread house making contests? And what on earth are they going to do for Tare for Christmas? If all of them can make it that long, that is . . .

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

S&S: IN THE SKY in a fantasy world. I absolutely love having floating cities, skyships soaring through clouds (and clockwork dragons to ride instead of boats/shuttles/helicopters/whatever), and mysterious pillars of rock all over the place hiding in the mist that skyships have to sail through. Plus creepy ravines nobody goes down because you… kinda die if you go down there. *cough* And I also love the steampunk-flavored touch to this fantasy world, with cool old-fashioned clothes and coats and ball dances and clocks and gears and steam-rifles and the occasional magical gadgetry and especially skyships. The skyships are my favorite. 😀

KW2: In a small town in modern-day America, next to a wood. Kedran’s Wood itself has to be my favorite part of the setting (it’s kind of mysterious and just so neat), but I’m also partial to using abandoned warehouses etc. for the villains to lurk in. And Tare lives in the deserted side of town in his own cozy “lair” as the Chess Club have named it. I kind of want to live there…

4. Tell us about your protagonist.

S&S: *nervous laughter* Which one? XD I kind of have three. 😛

Auren is a cloud-siren prince (okay, so he’s the seventh son, so not that important) which means he’s an insubstantial air spirit. Or, he was. Now he’s human, and he’s not at all used to it. XD He’s got white hair and he’s seventeen and super cool. I actually need to rewrite his entire plotline, and his personality also just changed, so I’m going to move to somebody else here. (But it’s his story, pretty much. He’s the “little mermaid” er… merman… er… siren. I mean, he’s neither little, nor mer, nor a maid, but it’s still a Little Mermaid retelling, I promise. *cough*)

Princess/Captain Tasmania is the princess of a city in the clouds, but since she has two older brothers in line for the throne (twins, actually; one the crown prince, one in charge of the sky navy — they’re awesome, by the way), she’s free to captain her own beloved skyship, the Star Dreamer, in the Royal Sky Navy. She flies around with her motley crew she’s put together (including Auren and Rook now… bwahaha), doing various missions. And she’s like seventeen too, and has curly red hair.

If I tell you about Rook I’ll be here all day because he’s my favorite and keeps stealing the show, but he’s in the Royal Sky Navy and is really cool, and if you ask him he’ll let you know that his author is super mean. *cough*

(Me: Stop stealing the spotlight in this book already, won’t you? I already promised you a sequel!

Rook: And then you made it book 3 instead of book 2. I’m only saying.

Me: Blame Keller! He’s a sky pirate! Of course he stole your book!)

KW2:

The Chess Club are kind of the protagonists, but, again, it would take awhile to introduce them all… Briefly, there’s shy Lavender, rambunctious Baz (the pun-master), fiery Ivy, confident Adrian (who clashes with Tare sometimes), and the siblings, solid Marie and cautious Jake. There’s also wry Mr. Larch (the only one who’s not a teen), and Small Occasion the little fluffy white dog. 😉

Tare is honestly the real protagonist, though. He’s my favorite character I’ve ever written, so… I can’t really sum him up in a paragraph. *cough* I can start, though. He’s 19 (ish… it’s complicated), has black hair and always wears a black leather jacket (usually carting a fair number of weapons in it to deal with any… situations that might arise, though his fists would work just as well). He’s a little mysterious and shady-seeming, with a dark past (like… Khazad-dum dark… Don’t even think of going there.) but honestly he has a heart of gold and you want him on your side in a pinch. Just don’t expect him to be social.

I will direct you to previous interviews and such if you would like more of a glimpse at what Tare is like. XD Here, here, and here to start with.

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

S&S: The Sorcerer of the Mist, who’s… kind of like the stand-in for the Sea Witch of the original tale, but is actually a tall, thin man in a long coat who’s kind of elegant and totally creepy. He’s the main antagonist, but there are also sky pirates and assassins and a traitor sky navy captain (who is a total jerk, ugh) and some danger lurking down the misty ravines which makes no one ever return… There’s a lot of antagonistic forces in this one. I like to keep things interesting for my characters. *cough*

KW2: There’s more than one antagonist in this as well, and… er… awkwardly, one of them is Harold “Mr. Perfect-Teeth” Starrford (the nickname is what the Chess Club called him before learning his name. XD), the guy who’s dating Mr. Larch’s sister Robin. So yeah. But the other one is Harold’s kinda-shady/ominous secretary-slash-step-father, Greg Nobody-really-remembers-his-last-name. (Aaand there may be an evil faerie involved. I’m just sayin’.)

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

S&S: ALL THE THINGS. Literally. The characters (I love them all so much, okay?), the world, the complicated plot now spilling into three books, the fairytale retelling aspect, the steampunkery and fantasyness… I LOVE IT ALL. I’m absurdly in love with all of the things in this book. And writing this blog post is making me even MORE excited! Like… can it be NaNo already? (I’m not ready, honest, but still.)

KW2: My favorite character, Tare, being awesome… as well as getting to meet A NEW CHARACTER I’m rather excited about. But really I love continuing this series. And at the moment, I’m just really ready for this second book to be DONE! (…So that I can hasten onward and write book 3 which has been attacking my brain lately. Not that I’ll complain. ;))

7. Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else?

They were both SUPPOSED to be standalones and are now series. XD Go figure.

S&S: This is the first in a fairytale retelling trilogy. Originally they were going to be standalones, just with a few recurring characters… but now they’re an awesome tangled mess of plot threads following all my favorite characters and being all interconnected and I’m so excited. Currently book 2 is a Jack and the Beanstalk/Snow White/Rapunzel book about a sky pirate by the name of Keller. Book 3 is about my fave character Rook (YAS!) and will feature The Snow Queen… and possibly Beauty and the Beast or East of the Sun, West of the Moon? I’m not sure yet. It’s being stubborn. They’re a bit more “inspired by” fairytales than straight-up retellings, but still fun. (Oh, and book 2 and 3 recently swapped places so MY BRAIN IS CONFUSED but don’t mind me.)

KW2: This is book 2 in a contemporary fantasy trilogy… with extras on the side. I’ve written book 1. Book 3 is going to feature the Chess Club and Tare on summer vacation, and scary agents and new characters and more secrets about Tare’s past and stuff. I’m excited. Then I have a smattering of short stories and novellas with the same characters, so yeah. Lots to write with this one! But it’s so much fun, I have no complaints. 😛 (There’s also the fact that Tare and another side character in the series recently teamed up in my head with some other side characters from two other books of mine to make me promise I’ll write a crossover Urban Fantasy heisty novel about all of them together. So there’s that. *cough*)

8. Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plansting?

Er… some of both, for both. I have a lot of scenes in my head, and a fair amount of notes, but I’m not nearly as plotted as I’d like to be for an actual NaNo month. I do have a rough idea of where things are going, though. And I technically have a list of the rest of the scenes in each, all divided up into 30 days of writing, so in THEORY I should be okay… until it all falls apart. XD I’m just hoping both of them will listen to me and let me get to the end. *sound of both books laughing at me in the background* (Me: Stop it, guys.)

9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.

S&S: Hopefully it’s a unique take on The Little Mermaid, and I like to think the setting is unique too. 🙂

KW2: This one’s unique because it’s about modern teenagers but WITHOUT THE TEENAGED DRAMA/ANGST/LOVE-TRIANGLES yay! XD Um. I’m sure there’s other unique things too. *cough*

10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

Well, for both, here’s a handy pinboard I always set up for NaNo, with various inspiration and stuff.

S&S: Drop by my Pinterest board for a look at the sort of “feel” of it! 🙂

And imagine a kind of Lindsey Stirling esque soundtrack going on. XD

KW2: And then I also have an inspiration board for this one.


SO. There you have a look at the two stories I’ll hopefully be immersed in for the following month!

And thanks to the ever-awesome Christine for the splendid linkup with the great questions! I’m extra looking forward to NaNo now, ready or not. 😀

Talk to me! What do you think about my NaNo plan? Learn anything new about my WIPs? Are YOU doing NaNo this year? (I’m HERE if you’d like to be buddies!) If you’re not NaNo-ing, I half-envy your sanity and hope you won’t mind a smidge of NaNo flailing going on this time of year — sorry. *cough* How is NaNo almost HERE?? :O HALP. #cuepanic