Know the Novel: Tare 3 (NaNo 2020)

Um . . . hi, guys! Long time no chat! A lack of internet and a general insanely-busy time has distracted me from blogging for the last few months.

But today I want to join in on the fabulous Christine Smith’s Know the Novel writer linkup to talk about my writing plans for November/NaNo! (How is that so soon?? SEND HELP.)

So. I’m writing the third book in my modern fantasy Kedran’s Wood series, so that I can hang out with Tare (my fave) and the Chess Club and have a hopefully chill/fun November for once!

THE QUESTIONS

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

Wow, it’s been so long . . . Well, I guess since it’s book 3, it would be because of starting a random modern fantasy back in April 2012 . . . which then had more spinoff ideas. I don’t remember the original spark for this one off hand, but origianaly it was going to be the sequel to book one, to be the adventures the Chess Club and Tare had the next summer, after The Owl of Kedran’s Wood. But then a snowy Christmas short story crept between them, eventually becoming a massive novel (145K words; please send help), so book three this one became! But the idea of the Chess Club and Tare on vacation has long been a fun one for me, and various things from the first two books and other Tare backstory stuff are leading up to this book. I’m excited. ^_^

2. Share a blurb (or just an overall summary if you’d prefer)!

(I’ve had this cover foreverrr. Maybe someday I’ll update it or come up with a new title, but it works for now. XD)

The Shadow of Kedran’s Wood (Kedran’s Wood, #3)

Road trip from Kedran’s Wood!

All the Chess Club wants is a fun vacation at the cabin Robin found them for the summer. All Tare wants is — well, probably for the Chess Club to stay out of trouble. (Saving teens, as well as the world all the time, gets exhausting.)

They find more than they bargained for with agents, a sinister secret lurking in the pine woods, a new side to Tare’s past, and of course McAllistair Mansion — which, let’s face it, is cooler than a cabin.

A storm is coming for the Chess Club and Tare.

So much for a quiet vacation . . .

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

Still set in a vague/undisclosed part of modern-day America, but this time since the Chess Club road tripped away from their hometown, I have some new settings to play with. Pine woods and a cabin and a cool mansion and . . . other . . . things. I’m excited because, while I adore Kedran’s Wood itself, this gives me some new settings/dynamics I can play with — and Tare has an unexpected connection to this place too, so I’m going to have loads of fun with that! *cackles*

4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).

Meet the cast!

  • Tare20 years old – black hair – Enigmatic monster-fighting, black-leather-wearing guy and also my favorite character I’ve ever written

Chess Club

  • Lavender17 – blonde – Shy, softhearted, heart of the Chess Club
  • Baz17 – brown hair – Happy-go-lucky, fun-loving prankster and pun king
  • Ivy18 – red hair – Feisty, no-nonsense, go-get-’em Chess Club member
  • Adrian19 – blond hair – Easy-going, laid back guy, very protective of the Chess Club
  • Mr. Larch32 – brown hair – head of the Chess Club, dry and reserved, voice of reason
  • Robin Larch26 – light hair – Mr. Larch’s sister, enthusiastic, planning The Perfect Vacation

New Players

  • Arielle Everglade20 – long black hair – Appeared briefly in book 2, now shows up mysteriously (spoilers, sweetie)
  • Roderick Hendricks29 – dark brown hair – British, lawyer, basically an awkward penguin, lives at McAllistair Mansion, permanently anxious about Tare (not that we can blame anyone for being anxious about Tare)

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

Um. Spoilers? But there mayyy be a group and it mayyy be connected with villains of earlier book(s) and there is also a return of a side antagonist-ish or two . . . it’s complicated.

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

That it’s a new book with Tare and the Chess Club! I finished a novella with them last December, and while I’ve fiddled with things since, I haven’t actively been writing a KW book in ages (a.k.a. all this year!) and I’m excited to start this one. Also, I mean, it’s going to be a blast with Chess Club vacation and new characters and Tare being done with everything and yeah. 😀

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

Well, it’s in a series . . . book 3 of 3! :O Sort of . . . I currently have an “official” trilogy of novels in the series, but also (either written or planned) 4 short stories, 2 novellas, a sort-of-for-fun alternate-ish novel that doesn’t really count, and a spinoff novel that also spins off of some other books I have. Not to mention sometimes my short story ideas turn into novels, and I have ideas for new adventures occasionally . . . (So there’s 10 . . . or, well, 11 . . . currently. But kind of just 3. XD I’ve drafted 2 novels, 2 short stories, and a novella so far.) BUT I still think of these three being the main books, so in that sense I’m starting on the last “official” (currently) Tare and Chess Club book. But I’m so excited because I felt like I’d never get this far! XD

8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Hooopefully plotting? I haven’t done a lot yet but I do like to have an idea of how things will go. I have tons of it in my head already, and some basic notes/lists/snippets. I always mean to plot more for NaNo than I usually get around to, resulting in some flailing around, and with Tare and co. you never know when something might dash out of outline plans, so . . . call it a mix?

9. Name a few unique elements about this story.

Um. Mansion + secret agents (ish) + modern fantasy + British penguin lawyer (he’s not actually a penguin but he’s basically an awkward penguin, more or less) + Tare Doing Things + Chess Club shenanigans + road trip + camping + Tare backstory info (bwahaha) + I’m also planning a cameo of a character from one of my non-KW books. 😀 I don’t know how unique any of that is, but I’m looking forward to it!

10. Share some fun “extras” 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!).

I’m drawing a blank on this since I don’t have a playlist yet (oh, help) and haven’t really made any fun things . . . Sooo, here, have my ancient KW series Pinterest board which I haven’t messed with in ages but should have some inspiration stuff for all the books, including this one!

Talk to me! ^_^

And there we are! Do join in on the linkup if you’re writing anything for NaNo, or just, you know, writing! (Find me on NaNo here!) And let me know what you think of this? I know I’ve been very absent from blogging, sorry! *hides face* I’m looking forward to hopefully starting writing this in November, and I wish you luck if you’re writing as well! Thanks for reading! ^_^

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.