3 Tales of Jack and the Beanstalk

It’s Jack and the Beanstalk month over at Fairy Tale Central and I’m excited!

I realized I haven’t seen many retellings of this one? But I do love a certain movie of it, and I read a fascinating retelling, and I have a steampunk reimagining of this fairy tale on my to-write list . . .

So I thought I’d celebrate Jack and the Beanstalk month by briefly highlighting those three here today!

FILM

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

I absolutely loved this movie! Aside from the giants (who are kind of gross and creepy), I just loved everything about it! 😀 Jack is a great hero, the princess is great, it’s exciting, deliciously fantastic, gorgeous, funny, and it has a great ending. *grins* And best of all, Ewan McGregor is fabulous as a guard in it. What is not to love? I’ve only seen it once or twice, from the library, and it’s been awhile so I don’t remember it as well as I should, but I’m reminded of just how FUN it was and now I want to see it again. 😀 I’d call it one of those underrated fantasy movies that you don’t hear about much but is actually really good!


BOOK

Trial by Song (by Alicia Gaile)

Aahh, this book! I read it quite awhile ago now, but it was just SO striking and atmospheric and gripping! I was utterly enchanted — which is appropriate, what with it being about magical music and scary fae and all of that. It’s a modern fantasy and it’s SO INTENSE! A little on the grittier side, so if creepy fae and a bit of language/gore/etc. bugs you, beware, but it was just so absolutely fascinating and I could NOT put it down! I loved the Jack and the Beanstalk elements and bits of another fairy tale that I didn’t expect, and the modern elements mixed with faeries. Jack himself was a really engaging hero, and I absolutely loved his family of so many brothers and how they were so different but so real and protective. It was such a vivid book and if you like faeries and urban fantasy, you absolutely have to try it out! It also ends on a cliff hanger so I really need to get around to reading the sequel! *collapses*

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Goodreads


WIP

(Click to visit my series Pinterest board)

I’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s the second book in a YA steampunk-fantasy series I’m writing. Book one (The Siren and the Skyship) is in rough draft form, and I would like to start book 2 soon . . . but it’s in plotting mode and there’s something that’s keeping it from clicking finally, enough for me to write it. Hopefully I figure it out soon.

The Skythief and the Secret Tower

  • (Sky Voyages, book 2)
  • Steampunk re-imagined fairy tale
  • Jack and the Beanstalk meets Rapunzel/Snow White
  • [Pinterest board for series]

If young sky-pirate Keller can’t pull off a heist the shadowy pirate king sends him on, he could lose everything — but if he succeeds, he could unleash the worst threat the sky world has ever known.

Stealing from dragons has never been easy, and neither is evading Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley, Royal Skynavy captain, who is hot on Keller’s trail, in search of the stolen crown jewels which are the only way to prevent a war.

Despite his charm and plant-powers, and the magic mirror belonging to Ebony — the mysterious girl in the stone pillar — Keller’s luck may have finally run out.

This skythief’s heart isn’t the only thing that might be stolen from him.


Do any of these sound interesting to you, or have you seen/watched any of them? (If you’ve read my WIP, please let me know, time-traveler, so that I can take notes . . .)

Have you read or watched any great Jack and the Beanstalk retellings that you would like to recommend to me? I would love to hear about them!

8 Year Tare-iversary!

Happy Tare-iversary to me!

Eight years ago today, I wrote the first chapter of The Owl of Kedran’s Wood, my first foray into contemporary fantasy . . . and what I thought would be a brief standalone novel, something just for fun that I’d write and set aside.

Eight years later, my Kedran’s Wood stories have completed (if rough) drafts of two novels, a novella, and two short stories (plus dabbles of non-canon “fanfiction”).

I have plans for another novel or two, another novella, two more short stories, and a spinoff novel.

I’ve written over 300,000 words of Kedran’s Wood stuff and it’s one of my happy places.

These stories have been a big part of my life, a constant writing companion, and Tare is my favorite character I’ve written (shh, don’t tell the others). 

(Some images are mine; others found on Pinterest here.)

I’m so happy that I took that random idea, that odd and not-me-like modern story (I mostly wrote medieval-type fantasy at the time, because I didn’t like modern fiction — so I ended up writing the type I would like to read) and ran with it.

I’m terribly glad I sat down on that day eight years ago to write and met Tare, Lavender, Baz, Ivy, Mr. Larch, and the Wildlings, for the very first time.

The moral? Take those shots in the dark, those leaps of faith, those random steps that seem like they might not come to anything. Try new things. Try.

No matter how strange, no matter how small, you never know what that moment could look like, looking back eight years later.

(Who knows? Maybe some future April 5th I’ll look back and some of these stories will be published.)

So hi from me and Tare and the Chess Club. We’re celebrating. We wish you all a wonderful week. (Even if Tare won’t admit it. ;))

(He’s also judging me for not writing these last two days, since it IS Camp NaNo, even if I’m not writing about him. XD)

January 2020 Ishness!

It’s only been FOREVER since I posted one of these, but I want to get back into the habit of writing Ishnesses, so here’s a recap of January!

Today I’ve got an update on my writing/reading/watching/listening, as well as some photos I took, and other thoughts. So let’s get to it!

(I plan to have a 2019 recap post soon too, but I got this one done first. XD)

WRITING

I took a writing hiatus in January, and it was so refreshing! After writing 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo, and another 7K (finishing my WIP novella!) in the midst of Christmas craziness in December (which is when I usually take a writing break), I was ready to recharge.

I did start a new writing journal, though—a gorgeous Christmas present that I’m in love with! It’s my 11th in a series of yearly writing journals I start every New Year.

I also popped out of writing hiatus to write the second installment of my Urban Fantasy serial Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole, which I posted last week!

(Images via Unsplash)

That was the first writing I did this year (decade??), and it felt marvelous to dive into after a three-week break following finishing Double Lives at Kedran’s Wood in the final days of December. Also, I wrote it on my “Writing Day” (January 20th), on which I’ve written at least something every year since 2010. (Bonus: that’s also my character Tare’s birthday.)

I’m not sure what my writing goals are this year, but after taking a month off to refill my creative tank, I’m looking forward to dipping back into writing again now that it’s February. 🙂

READING

I read fifteen books in January! (I use the term “book” loosely. XD)

Seven novels (ish?), four short stories (one on audio), two anthologies, and two nonfiction works about writing.

Some of these I beta-read or copyedited (I edited 400,000 words in January, so . . . that took up some time. XD), and there were a couple of review books, and the rest I just slipped in for fun.

I’ll post a complete list on my book blog with brief thoughts on each, later, hopefully. 🙂

Highlights were Winter Spell by Claire M. Banschbach and The New Emperor’s Concerto by Hazel B. West! Both are releasing this month (I can’t wait to see their covers!) and y’all need them in your life!

(The physical books I read in January.)

WATCHING

My watching this month has been rather assorted. A couple of random action movies, re-watching the first Thor movie (I forgot how much fun that one is!), finishing the first season of Trollhunters, finishing the sixth season of NCIS, a couple of random fantasy movies (Dragonheart and Earthsea, both . . . strange but with good parts), and Arthur Christmas—which was hilarious and so much fun. XD

LISTENING

I’m still obsessed with Burn the Ships by For King and Country. *grinning*

I planned to get back into audiobooks this year, and I did! Albeit in a small way. I listened to a short story, Elapse by Sarah Holman, and quite enjoyed this Kingdom Adventure tale, which made me excited to read the next book in the Tales of Taelis series.

BLOGGING

(Most of these were on my book blog.)

Cover reveals

Other posts

LIFE / PHOTOS

I got a nasty flu a week into January and spent most of the month sick and trying to stay on top of work and commitments. But it was a good month, regardless. 🙂

I went to a writer event and got to see authors and talk with friends new and old, which was fun.

Those are the main things not represented by pictures. XD So here are some photos from this last month!

It’s the little things. Drinking lots of tea from this new mug I got. Setting up my new journals for the year. Getting back into using calligraphy pens, to spice up my journals.

Nature pics from rain and sunshine! My cat and a good book helping me beat the flu. Sparklers on New Year’s Eve and watching the decade turn at midnight. Going to a horse farm event where I got to see an old friend and watch talented people train and ride gorgeous horses.

I got to trek through some rainy woods and while I was looking at a HUGE tree my brother snapped this picture of me. (Sometimes I forget my hair is that long because I don’t see it!)

MUSINGS

I absolutely love this quote from Winter Spell (by Claire M. Banschbach)—a book that I copyedited this last month. I loved this so much I had to write it out in calligraphy and prop it on my nightstand as a reminder. It’s been so inspiring. ^_^

Other musings and things I’m learning include that I’m afraid of change (I’m Baggins-ish and don’t always have that Tookish adventurous spirit!), but that even when things are scary it’s still probably going to be okay and I need to stop worrying so much.

Breathe. I’ve been thinking a lot about this word. I don’t really choose a word for the year like some people do, but if I did, I might pick this one. Breathing is literally the number one thing that keeps us alive, physically, and this might be a hint about needing to metaphorically breathe—to rest and take time between things. I spend a lot of time feeling stressed or behind or trying to conquer the never-ending to-do list. But slowing down and taking time out for resting and recharging is so important. I’m trying to remember to stop and breathe in this way. Last week I took a whole day with the internet turned off and my to-do list cleared, and I rested up—I read some short books, napped, watched a movie, sat in the sun for a few minutes, and just breathed and de-stressed, and it was fabulous. Just a reminder (mostly to myself!) that we are not machines and we can’t keep going every minute, nor should we.

FEBRUARY PLANS

I’m hoping to make some writing goals and get back to that, as well as catch up on review books, keep up with editing jobs, and finish up some other life projects. We’ll see how the month goes . . .

It’s February Fantasy Month, hosted (for the fifth time!) by the fabulous Jenelle Schmidt! So be sure to check that out for giveaways and fantasy awesomeness! Not sure if I’ll have a chance to do much for that, but I hear there’s a tag, and an Instagram challenge, and I might post some reviews . . . We’ll see!

Also . . . we get a leap day. How cool is that? 😀


That’s all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my January! If you read this far, you deserve a cupcake. *offers virtual cupcakes*

What have you been up to so far this year, and what are your February plans?

Thanks for reading!

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.

Undercover, Gifs, & NaNo Know the Novel Intro

The frabjous Christine Smith is hosting her three-month Know the Novel linkup for writers these last three months of the year and I’M EXCITED. The first one is INTRODUCTION which I’m doing today. (Go join in if you like! It’s fun!)

Last week I announced that I’d be writing my NaNo project under a codename (Operation Foxtail) to put less pressure on myself, and then got kind of sad when I realized I couldn’t partake in Know the Novel if my novel was a secret . . .

But you know what? I still can because I want to! I will just be vague and nebulous like a mysterious secret undercover agent writer. XD

This post is going to be full of vague answers and way too many sunglasses/secret agents gifs.

Let’s do this thing.

Know the Novel: Part 1: INTRODUCTION

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

Actually, it was the title! (Not Operation Foxtail; the real title. XD) Which, funny story, is half my sister’s fault.

It sort of latched onto a swirling of vague ideas and somehow the story appeared and… I don’t really remember where all the ideas came from but the title definitely pulled everything together.

Even if it’s . . . you know . . . a different title. 😛

2. Share a blurb!

Characters do stuff and things happen and there is drama and banter and doom and we will hope that at least most of them get to live happily ever after eventually!

Okay, I know that’s a rubbish blurb. XD But I don’t even know all the important plot stuff for later-on myself, even if I was sharing what the story is. So.

Here, have the shiny codename cover again to distract you from the lack of information. *cough*

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

It’s actually going to take place in several places, which is both exciting and daunting, because I have to figure them out. XD But my favorite is how at home I feel with this idea/places and yet also totally out of my depth. It’s gonna be interesting!

4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).

We have a heroine who is spunky! (Actually rare for me.) And a hero who is awesome and I love! And side characters who I also love but are kind of a mess too! And a rather small cast, for me. And yeah, everything else is a spoiler, so. 😛

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

GOOD QUESTION. I should probably know this, shouldn’t I. >.> *cough* I think there’s a couple different antagonists but some of them are relationship problems instead of actual physical people… but there are some of those too.

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

The characters and fun of it and just . . . IT. I’ve been wanting to write it for a long time and I’m terrified I won’t be able to but I’m gonna try!

7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

Standalone, ish. Like I might have some spinoff things? Mayyybe? But mostly it stands alone.

Of course, I usually say that and then KABOOM it’s a series and I’m questioning all my life choices. But anyhoo…

8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Ahahahaha. WHO EVEN KNOWS. I’m planning to do some planning but haven’t if you know what I mean. I have SOME notes but definitely need to gather them and do more. So I’m probably plantsing. 😛

Which is slightly terrifying but when am I ever prepared for NaNo? *nervous laughter*

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

*squirms* THIS IS HARD. Without spoilers, I mean. Let’s just say I’m taking some tropes and I’m totally hoping to twist them around and it should be fun.

  • It’s (kind of) a subgenre I haven’t exactly written before?
  • It’s in first-person which I usually only do for short stories.
  • It’s going to have all the feels.

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, let’s see, most of those things would probably be spoilery.

Still. We’ll see what we can do. XD

Here is a section of my inspiration board for NaNo! I always do one of these, with a cover and to-do list and inspirational memes, and also pictures for inspiration (not shown because it’s undercovaaahh).

So there you are. And now it’s back to plotting for this story and pretending it doesn’t exist because I’m being an undercover writer agent.

I kind of like this sunglasses thing…

How about you? What are you writing for NaNo (if you are)?

And are you going to drop over and do the linkup tag? You shoullld! It’s fun!

Thanks for reading! 😀