A Kedran’s Wood Christmas

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

NaNo Post

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

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

Blogging Hiatus

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

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

About this Snippet

Okay, on to the story behind this post!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“Trees live outside,” Lavender whisper-laughed.

He glanced at her. “Exactly.”

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

“It’s perfect,” Marie said.

And several others murmured something along those lines.

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

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

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

“Where is [redacted]?” Adrian asked.

“Off doing mysterious [redacted] or something.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone looked at him and blinked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone blinked at him again.

“You carved these?” Baz yelped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They laughed and agreed, even Baz.

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

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

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

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.

10th! NaNo 2019: Operation Foxtail

It’s . . . October? I’m not really sure how, but since it is, it’s time to start thinking of NaNo. *cue screaming*

So I’m introducing what I’ll be writing for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) during November 2019! (A challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.)

Or, at least, sort of introducing it. *cough*

Say hello to . . .

Operation Foxtail.

Which doesn’t actually involve any foxes, but there you are.

Operation Foxtail is a codename for another story.

See, I want to write this other story, but I’m afraid of getting it wrong or getting stuck, and I’ve no idea if it will work to write it for NaNo. Plus, sometimes if I announce something, it suddenly doesn’t want to be written. (Awkward.)

I’m giving this vague story a codename to take the pressure off myself, so that if it turns out it doesn’t actually work, I can switch to something else, or several something elses, without feeling like a failure.

In the words of Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle:

“Only way I can do something this frightening is to tell myself I’m not doing it!”

So that’s what I’m doing.

I’m very obviously not writing this something. I’m writing something called Operation Foxtail.

Obviously.

You see? Less pressure.

I’m Howling myself into doing it (perhaps) by saying that I’m not.

(And because codenames are cool and this sounded vaguely better than a Super Secret Project.)

(Also, I like the name, and adorable little cover I made, enough that someday maybe I actually will write something called Operation Foxtail. Just to be more confusing. Ahem.)

(And I’m entirely too fond of parentheses, if you didn’t notice.)

10th NaNo

Also, also, this is my TENTH November NaNo! And since this is NaNo’s 20th, that means I’ve been here for half of the journey. XD

I’ve done and won 9 NaNos so far and I’m looking forward to (hopefully!) rounding out the decade. Here’s to a frabjous November! Which we still have nearly four weeks to prepare for, THANK GOODNESS.

Let’s be buddies!

Sooo, since the NaNo site recently had a serious overhaul (and is still slightly glitchy and new and I’m still not used to it, halp), if we were buddies in the past we’ll have to re-buddy each other. If you’d like to be buddies (new or old!) you can find me under the name Celtic Forest Dweller or at this link! Or drop a comment with your username or link for me to find you! 🙂

NaNo Tips

And if you are new to NaNo, or would like a refresher, feel free to check out my most-popular post ever, from ages past, featuring a NaNo Prep Checklist! Not all of them will necessarily apply, but there’s a few ideas in there! (And lots of gifs. XD)

So anyway…

Thanks for reading, guys, and sorry I’m not more forthcoming about my current project. XD It’s an experiment, so we’ll see how it goes. 😛

Who else is doing NaNo?

If you are, good luck on this writing journey! YOU’VE GOT THIS. (And to those souls who aren’t doing NaNo, I salute you and your sanity.)

*disappears to do frantic outlining for a couple weeks because NaNo will be here before we know it*

Winners! (Of Silmarils & Swag)

Just popping on real quick today to announce the winners for my 6th blogiversary giveaway last week, and to let y’all know that the Silmaril Award WINNER presentation ceremonies are going on this week and next week! (Details below!)

Giveaway Winners

The winner of the paperback copies of Dealing with Dragons and Searching for Dragons iiiis . . .

*drumroll*

  • Maya!

And the four random swag pack winners are . . .

  1. C.B.!
  2. Abigail Harder!
  3. Skye!
  4. Janice Verhoog!

Congrats to all the winners! I’ll be in touch with you shortly through email to get your mailing info. 🙂

THANK YOU so much to everyone who entered and celebrated my blogiversary with me! I wish I could give ALL of you something! *schemes for more giveaways in the future*

Silmaril Awards Presentation Schedule

Yes indeed, the nominations were brought in, the votes were tallied, and only one victor in each category has been chosen in this year’s Silmaril Awards — ten winners in all.

Check out the awards ceremonies linked below, presented by various bloggers and Middle-earth characters, to the most esteemed fantasy characters in 10 categories!

Presentations run September 16 – 27, one per weekday. I’ll update the links as they arrive!

And be sure to come back here on the 25th for my award ceremony for the winner of the Most Silver Tongue Silmaril!

Which category are you most excited to find out the winner? Who are you rooting for? I hope everyone’s been enjoying the 2019 Silmaril Awards!

5 Year BLOGIVERSARY + Giveaway!

Hi everyone! Guess what’s special about today? 😉 (Okay, okay, the title may have given that away. *cough*)

It’s my 5 Year Blogiversary! 😀

Yes, you heard that correctly.

On this day, half a decade ago, I posted my very first post on this blog!

It’s been a long, exciting journey, and I just started another shiny website too (as well as having a book blog I’ve been enjoying for a few years) — but this is where it all began, and it’s still the heart of my online presence as a writer, and… well… a human. 😉

So I’m celebrating with a giveaway (Hobbit-birthdays and all that sort of thing, so read on for that) and general merriment and partying.

*passes out virtual cupcakes and tosses confetti on everyone*

The Stats

  • 5 years
  • 293 posts (as of this one!)
  • 590 followers (plus social media = 1,091 followers, hence the number on the side. ;))
  • 6,700 comments
  • 16,298 visitors
  • 45,789 views

Top Commenters

Commenters are my favorite — this means you! Also, special shoutout to my top commenters of late. You guys are amazing! THANK YOU! (Everyone, check out their amazing blogs! ^_^)

My top 10 most popular posts this year

Thank You

I just want to say thank you.

Thanks to all my lovely readers, followers, and commenters! You make this blogging thing worthwhile. 🙂 It’s been such a joy taking this road with you all. Thank you for joining me in the journey. ❤

*GROUP HUG*

Blogiversary Giveaway

Okay, here’s the part you’re REALLY here for! 😉

There are 5 (ish) prizes — because 5 years — and they are (surprise, surprise!) books!

I love sharing books with people, and I also frequent library sales and collect beloved books. So I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites with y’all! ^_^

But just a second, because I’m going to tell you all about one of the awesome prizes. 😀

Stellar September

I’m extremely excited to be showcasing The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder today!

I won an ebook ARC copy of this book, and loved it so much that I raved about it in a review, got a paperback copy when I got to meet the author at Realm Makers (!!!), and just ordered a second paperback copy just so I could give it away on my blogiversary post today. 🙂

Mollie was also awesome and donated two sets of gorgeous character cards, of the delightful characters from The Electrical Menagerie, for me to share with y’all! (Visit the artist on Instagram.) One set I’m giving away with the paperback (US), and one set I’m offering as an International prize, because I love you peeps too! ❤

But wait, there’s even more delightful news! 😀

The Electrical Menagerie got a starred review on Publisher’s Weekly yesterday! :O I’m SO excited for Mollie, and so proud of her and this splendiferous book (and its characters. ;))! I just love it so much, and I hope more people will discover it. ^_^

If you’re curious to read it, now is a fantastic time to try it out, because the ebook is only 99 cents on Amazon right now, for a promotion Mollie is calling Stellar September. And is it ever stellar! 😀 So go get yourself a copy! ❤

And, of course, enter to win a paperback copy of this (and other books) below. 😉

You can learn more about The Electrical Menagerie, Mollie, and the characters, and sign up for Mollie’s newsletter for a free novelette about Huxley (it’s hilarious, FYI!), at thecelestialisles.com or writeratops.com!

The Giveaway Prizes

  1. The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder (paperback) — Steampunk (ish). The rest of these books I got at library sales, but this one I ordered. It’s a recent release, which I may have flailed about a lot. 😉 And since I’m writing steampunk right now, and love humor and dynamic characters, it seemed to fit the theme of my giveaway. 🙂 Let me just tell you that if you love The Greatest Showman, or steampunk, or dynamic duo friendships, or humor/snark, or magical worlds (floating islands with sky-trains run by stardust!), you simply have to try this book out! ❤ Included with this book is a set of the 4 lovely character cards!
  2. Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede (paperback) — Regency Fantasy. You can read my full review here, but this is a fascinating and fun story set in an alternate Regency London, about the fabulous magician (and eligible bachelor) Mairelon the Magician, and his ward, Kit, who is a street-thief-turned-Regency-lady. And yes, this is as fabulous as it sounds. XD It’s technically the second book in a duology, but I read it as a standalone and understood it just fine. (I’ve since read the first book, and enjoyed it, but not as much as I loved this one.) This is an ex-library paperback and is slightly worn — apologies! — but the story inside is lovely. 😉
  3. Conrad’s Fate (Chrestomanci Series) by Diana Wynne Jones (hardcover) — Fantasy. You know this had to be on here, because of COURSE I have to give away a DWJ book. 😉 Even if you haven’t read any of the Chrestomanci books before, you can start with this one (as it’s sort of a prequel). It’s a lot of fun, and features a teenage Chrestomanci/Christopher Chant, which was AWESOME. It’s also a buddy story, from the point of view of the “servants” at an older, fancy, British-like house, with magical shenanigans and humor. I love it. 😀
  4. The End of the Third Age by J.R.R. Tolkien (paperback) — This is the tail-end of a series of books featuring some of Tolkien’s older drafts of The Lord of the Rings (edited by his son Christopher Tolkien). But the reason I’m giving away this one is that it has the UNPUBLISHED epilogue of The Lord of the Rings, which never made it into the final version, but which I strongly believed SHOULD HAVE. It’s about Sam and his kids after the end, and makes the end of LOTR not sad, say I — it ends on a better note. There are two versions of the epilogue, both collected in this volume, and even if you don’t read the rest of the book, you HAVE to read them. And I want to make it possible for some LOTR fan to read it, so I’m giving away a copy. 🙂 (Plus, what with the Silmaril Awards going on right now — don’t forget to vote for your favorite characters this week!! — this feels like an appropriate thing to give away. ;))
  5. If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence, and Spirit by Brenda Ueland (paperback) — Nonfiction. This is one of my favorite books on writing. I wrote a whole post about it once, which you can check out to see if it’s the sort of book you would like. And since this is “The Road of a Writer” and I know many of you are writers, it seemed fitting. 🙂
  6. Another set of Electrical Menagerie character cards (INTERNATIONAL) — Because, as I mentioned, Mollie kindly sent along two sets, and I wanted something for any of my lovely non-American readers who would like to enter a giveaway. (Huxley makes a great bookmark. I’m just sayin’. ;))

Giveaway details

  • You must be subscribed to my newsletter, or if you haven’t, your email address will be added to my newsletter, from which you can unsubscribe any time. (But I like to think that the sort of people who enjoy the sorts of books I’m giving away above, will be the sort to enjoy my newsletter. ;))
  • This giveaway is open from September 11 – 15, 2018
  • The books are US entries only (sorry! Because shipping) but the second set of character cards are just for international entries! 🙂
  • There will be 6 winners
  • Winners will be chosen by random draw. The winners be contacted by email, and posted here on or after September 17

You can subscribe to my newsletter here. 🙂

Enter the giveaway in the form below, or, if it’s not working for you, click here!

Giveaway Form

That’s it!

P.S. If you want to follow me on Instagram, I’m hoping to post a different fun picture there each day this week during the giveaway to showcase each of the books, so… there’s that. 😉

Whew! I think that’s all the fun I have for you guys today. 🙂 (Special thanks to Mollie for providing the character trading cards for the giveaway!)

Do you want to read The Electrical Menagerie? And which of these books would you most love to win? 😀 Thanks for joining me in my blogoversary as I celebrate 5 years of blogging! You’re all awesome! ❤