A Kedran’s Wood Christmas

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

NaNo Post

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

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

Blogging Hiatus

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

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

About this Snippet

Okay, on to the story behind this post!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“Trees live outside,” Lavender whisper-laughed.

He glanced at her. “Exactly.”

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

“It’s perfect,” Marie said.

And several others murmured something along those lines.

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

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

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

“Where is [redacted]?” Adrian asked.

“Off doing mysterious [redacted] or something.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone looked at him and blinked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone blinked at him again.

“You carved these?” Baz yelped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They laughed and agreed, even Baz.

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

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

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

NaNo 2019: Know the Novel, Part 3!

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

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

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

THE QUESTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. How about your least favorite part?

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

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

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

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

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

6. How do you feel about your characters now that the novel is done? Who’s your favorite? Least favorite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Share some of your favorite snippets!

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

“You never act normal.”

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

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

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

***

“We need to get a selfie!” Baz said.

Adrian blinked. “Does Tare do selfies?”

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Interview with Tare & Adrian! (Language of Worlds Linkup Sept. 2019)

The lovely Liv K. Fisher has a new Language of Worlds linkup for September-October, and in honor of my current WIP, I’m letting my characters Tare and Adrian answer the questions! Oh yeah, this is going to be fun. *grins*

A brief intro to this story and these characters before we dive in.

Story/Character Intro

Double Lives at Kedran’s Wood (trying out a new working title; previously Mixup at Kedran’s Wood) is a contemporary fantasy novella, set after book 2 in my Kedran’s Wood WIP series. I’m nearly 12K words into it so far.

Tare is a twenty-ish (it’s complicated) young man with black hair and a black leather jacket, whose specialties include being a loner, skills with a variety of weapons, fighting monsters, and saving our other heroes, the Chess Club.

Adrian is 19 at this point, and he’s basically Tare’s opposite (blond, easy-going, loves the color yellow and drives a big yellow pickup truck) except that they both share a protectiveness of the other Chess Club members that often causes sparks between the two.

In Double Lives at Kedran’s Wood (KW2.5), through a magical mishap, Tare and Adrian end up switching appearances and have to live each other’s lives for a day and then figure out how to reverse this mixup, while working together.

It’s. So. Much. Fun. XD

Setting the scene

Now. Let’s pop in at the cafe where Mr. Larch (head of the Chess Club) works, and have a chat with Adrian and Tare over a cup of coffee . . .

(Tare doesn’t really drink coffee so he’s just having it straight black, and Adrian’s having a caramel frappuccino. In case you needed to know.)

1. Your character is in crisis! Who is the first person they turn to?

Tare: *folds his arms* “Okay, first of all, I don’t get in any crises. And if I did, there wouldn’t be anyone to turn to, so I’d deal with it myself.”

Adrian: *smirks* “Oh, come on, admit it—you’d turn to us. The Chess Club is totally here for you.”

Tare: *side-eyes Adrian* “. . . Maybe. Now you answer it.”

Adrian: “If it was something every-day and not dangerous, I’d turn to Ivy. She always knows what to say. Best girlfriend ever.”

Tare: “And if it was dangerous?”

Adrian: *shifts in his seat but smiles disarmingly* “I’d . . . take care of it myself. Maybe.”

Tare: *raises eyebrow*

Adrian: “. . . Okay, I’d take it to you. Whatever. But I don’t have to like it.” *blows out a breath* “Next?”

2. Who has their unconditional loyalty?

Tare: “Nobody.”

Adrian: *side-eyes him this time* “The rest of the Chess Club. That’s the answer for both of us. We’d do anything to keep them safe. It’s like the only thing we agree on.”

Tare: *hides a smile behind one hand* “Fine. Maybe.”

3. What cause do they believe in? Why?

Tare: *sighs* “Keeping the Chess Club from dying every time we have a little incident with monsters or rogue fae or anything like that. They’re like puppies trying to play in traffic, so guess who gets to stop them? Full time job. Thankless. Hopefully worth it. Saving the world is a side-effect sometimes.”

Adrian: “Hey, I like to think I hold my own in these little situations.”

Tare: “How about the time—”

Adrian: “All right, I get it. And for me? I don’t know. Doing what’s right, I guess. Helping others. Loving them. Sounds like a good cause, to me.”

4. Are they easy to get along with?

Tare: “No.”

Adrian: *grins* “Got that one right. Me, I’m a pretty laid-back guy.”

5. Are they a night owl or morning dove? (Or “weird daytime pigeon”?)

Tare: “Night owl, all the way.”

Adrian: “This guy literally spends most of his nights up. Or used to, anyway.”

Tare: “Could you stop making commentaries on my answers? Just answer the stupid question.”

Adrian: “‘Weird daytime pigeon.’ I like it!” *laughs* “Nah, I’m pretty much a morning guy, though I don’t think I’m a dove. Ivy says I’m a golden retriever in human form, so we’ll go with that.”

6. What do they consider most vital to their health? Are they right?

Tare: “Sleeping occasionally. Ask me how I know.”

Adrian: “Okay, how do you—?”

Tare, through gritted teeth: “That. Was. Rhetorical.”

Adrian: “Getting quality time in with friends and family. And eating. I mean, hamburgers, am I right?”

Tare: “I prefer steak, myself.”

Adrian: “Steak is good!”

Tare: “Did we just agree on something?”

Adrian: *grinning* “I’m shocked too. It’s too much work to cook it in a fireplace, though.”

Tare: “Only way to eat it. Grills are lazy.”

Adrian: “Ooo-kay.”

7. What was their childhood fear?

Tare: “Didn’t have any. Next.”

Adrian: “Oh, come on! Everybody did.”

Tare:

Adrian: “Really? Not even one thing? You never talk about your childhood.”

Tare:

Adrian, sighing: “Fine. I guess that’s assuming you ever had one. Okay, this is gonna sound weird, but I was always scared of this one cartoon character and thought it lived in my grandfather’s attic and was terrified it was going to come down and get me.”

Tare: *snorts*

Adrian: *puts hands in the air* “Hey, I’m just saying it like it is. Lots of weird things are scary when you’re a kid, okay? Especially cartoons and picture books. Oh boy, picture books. I loved them, but—so scary, you know?”

Tare: *smirking*

8. What do they have nightmares about?

Tare: *crosses arms tighter and glowers* “I was trapped in a dimension of eternal night full of monsters for eight years. What do you think I have nightmares about.”

Adrian: *shrug* “I don’t really dream much. If I do, probably just the normal stuff.”

9. What sights/sounds/smells remind them of home?

Tare: *leans back in chair* “I’ve lived in many places and none of them were home. Unless we’re talking about my leather jacket. Well. Maybe Kedran’s Wood, now.”

Adrian: “What about your lair?”

Tare: “It’s an abandoned apartment. But fine. That and the woods. So . . . The sounds and smells and sights of a forest, or a fireplace, I guess.” *shrugs*

Adrian: “Dogs, laughing kids, basements, mechanic tools, and the color yellow. And the smell of Mom cooking lasagna.”

10. What do they love most about themself?

Adrian, protestingly: “Hey! Not fair. Way to put us on the spot, right?”

Tare: “Yep. Do you see why I hate interviews?”

Adrian: “I can’t think of anything, can you?”

Tare: “Nope.”

Adrian: *laughing* “Guess that makes us humble, right? We can like that.”

Tare: “Sure.”

Adrian: “For real, though, I guess I like that I am—or, try to be—kind of easygoing and friendly and just . . . kind of there for people. Everyone needs somebody who’ll be their eye in the storm, their rock in the ocean, their sunshine in the clouds, and I try to be that as much as I can for the people in my life.”

Tare: “I suppose you could say I never give up. I always. keep. fighting. No matter what. That could . . . be something I like. Are we finished now?”


And there we are!

Let me know in a comment what you thought of Adrian and Tare’s interview!

(And feel free to join in on the Language of Worlds linkup, which is open through October as well!)

Thanks for reading! ^_^

June Ishness 2019!

June 2019

Oh, hey, look who’s getting an Ishness post up only a week late instead of waiting for several months! *gasp*

I kind of consider June and July one really long Junely “J” month, but anyway, June was pretty cool and I’m here to recap it!

WRITING: Plots + Wordwars!

I’ve been brainstorming The Skythief and the Secret Tower and KW2.5/Mixup at Kedran’s Wood (which I introduced last week HERE) and making a little progress on those, which is exciting!

I managed to write just short of 6K words of KW2.5 in June, largely thanks to wordwarring with my awesome wordwar buddy, Claire Banschbach (who has a book coming out this month, Oath of the Outcast, one of my favorite recent reads, and it’s Celtic-esque and features outlaws and brothers and my favorite smol floof of anger management issues and is basically AWESOME, so go check it out!)!

Er . . . that was a slight sidetrack. But a necessary one. 😉 Because you need Rhys the Mountain Baron in your life.

Anyway.

I’m nearly 10K into my Kedran’s Wood novella and having a blast writing it! 😀

Otherwise, I’ve been keeping up with blogging (aside from last week because Independence Day *cough*) and trying to prep for Realm Makers, both of which I can count as writing-related, right? 😉

READING: Delicious Fantasy!

It was another good reading month! I don’t know why but seeing these books together makes me happy. 😀

I’ll post brief thoughts about all of them in a Book Ishness post on my other blog later this week, but highlights:

  • The Wolf Prince – Claire M. Banschbach — Brothers + faeries + Rangers + snark + wolves = SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS EPIC STORY!
  • Curse and Consequence – Savannah Jezowski — Regency Fantasy + hilarity + adorable dragons + faery curses + piglets + true love = YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE. (One of my faves so far this year; I read it twice!) Review coming to the book blog tomorrow!
  • Deadwood – Kyle Robert Shultz — Fantasy Western + Todd Crane + Julio the dragon + creepy Pinocchio twist + I edited it = yay, more Afterverse! (It just released and you need this in your life too, and, no, I’m not biased. ;))
  • Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones — Chrestomanci re-reads are always awesome! ❤ Where my Chrestomanci fans at?

WATCHING: Holmes + NCIS + Bolt!

  • I haven’t seen many new things lately, though I re-watched a few old favorites like Prince of Persia and Batman Begins. 😀
  • I did see a couple of new-to-me Sherlock Holmes episodes (starring Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone, respectively) which was fun. I’m always up for some Holmes of any type!
  • I watched Bolt, which was SO ADORABLE! ❤ The dog and the cat and the hamster. XD I loved it! ^_^
  • Also still occasionally working my way through the early seasons of NCIS — just started season 5 and things have been Going Down. O_O (I watch it for the characters and they’re just so much fun. :D)

LISTENING: Cress!

I finally got back to listening to Cress and I’m about 3/4 done now and I’m having SUCH a blast! It’s been keeping me to a semi-regular exercise routine (unless I’m too busy or sick or something). It’s so motivational since I get to find out what happens next while I’m exercising, and I’ve also been bribing myself with a daily chapter of a Chrestomanci book if I get it done. XD

Anyway, Cress and her friends are doooomed but I’m having a blast and I love all of them so much! Especially Thorne because he’s hilarious, and Jacin because he’s verrry intriguing, and Cinder because Cinder, and Wolf because sad puppy, and… well… you get the picture. I LOVE THEM ALLLL. The humor and snark is my favorite, and the retelling aspect is fun too. 😀

BLOGGING: Success! + Blogging Hacks

Since my plan was to actually blog consistently again this month, and I actually DID, I wanted to share this little success with you guys. 😀 And share my blogging calendar hack.

I write blog post ideas on sticky notes (color coded for the different blogs: yellow for this one, pink for my book blog, blue for guest posts etc.) and that way if I need to move them around, I can do that without having to scribble stuff out. And since it’s a physical calendar that I keep around, I’m more likely to look at it than at a digital calendar. I can also see at a glance how often I’m posting on my different blogs.

Anyway, it works for me and I LOVE it, and it usually looks like this (minus being crossed out) at the beginning of a month but is usually too ambitious to manage. XD But I did in June!

Reviews

Regular Posts

Guest Post

INSTAGRAM: Daily Posts + Almost One Year!

I had a personal challenge to post on Instagram every day in June, and I succeeded! You can check out my bookish photos here if you like. It was loads of fun. *grins*

Later this week will mark the one-year anniversary of when I first started Instagramming! So that’s exciting. ^_^

LIFE: Editing + Rain + Colds

Nothing particularly striking to report in the life category — just, well, Life, you know. 😉

I’ve been:

  • scheming about costumes and in other ways prepping for Realm Makers
  • editing
  • enjoying the rain (which is somehow keeping the three-digit Texas summer weather at bay temporarily)
  • seeing friends
  • and wrestling off a random and very-unwelcome summer cold. 😛

JULY PLANS: Realm Makers! (+ No Camp NaNo)

I’m not doing Camp NaNo WHICH MAKES ME SAD. But I figure I can’t wrangle that on top of Realm Makers so I won’t try. XD

So that’s going to be the biggest thing for me this month: final preparations for Realm Makers, a roadtrip, and attending the Realm Makers speculative fiction writers conference in St. Louis! I’M VERY EXCITED.

This is my second year going, and since it will be farther afield next year I probably won’t go that time, so I was determined to make it this year again if possible, and I’m so thankful it’s working out!

If you’ll be there, leave a comment and let me know! I’m SO excited to see so many friends, meet new people and authors, find some new books, learn more about writing, and make connections. ❤

(And no, I’m not ready at all, so excuse me while I panic and disappear for a week to frantically get ready for this. XD)

If you’re going to Realm Makers: check out Christine Smith’s fabulous post about getting the most out of this conference!

If you’re NOT going to Realm Makers but wish you were: check out Christine’s amazing post about that.

(Am I redirecting you to her posts instead of saying them myself? Yes. Yes I am. She does an incredible job of saying all of those things far better than I could, and you need those posts in your life.)

I also won’t be blogging or online as much in the next week or two, so . . . just so you know!

St. Louis Book Festival at Realm Makers

Also, if you’re in the St. Louis area on July 20th, you should make sure to swing by the Book Festival that’s open to the public and taking place at the Realm Makers conference! You can check out all the details here but tons of authors will be there signing books, including Terry Brooks, C.J. Redwine, Morgan Busse, and Bryan Davis!

And there we are! How was your June? Read or watched anything good lately? Are you doing Camp NaNo? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a splendid July! ^_^

Writing Update! (New Steampunk + Tare Snippets)

Hey, friends!

SO. I haven’t talked much about my writing projects in awhile, and since I actually have Exciting Progress Things to report, I thought I’d pop in and let you know how things are going over on the writing desk and share about my new projects! (And share some snippets. Because snippets.)

The Siren and the Skyship (S&S): first draft — finished!

As you may know, once upon a time (last November), I finished writing the first draft of The Siren and the Skyship, my steampunk-fantasy Little Mermaid Not-Little Cloud-Siren Prince retelling. It took me a smidge over a year to write it (starting it one NaNo and finishing it the next, with some writing in-between) and I had an absolute blast with it!

I had intended to dive into the sequel not long after that, but instead got sidetracked trying to finish a different book, namely . . .

The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2): first draft — finished!

Somewhere around 2:30 a.m. on April 30/May 1st, I finished writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (affectionately known as KW2), which is the second book in a contemporary fantasy series.

Guys.

I. FINISHED. KW2.

(Okay, so I realize I mentioned this in my last Ishness, but IT BEARS REPEATING.)

It took me just over 5 years to write this, and it’s a massive 145K, but I’m just so ecstatic to have reached the end of this one! It’s been my constant background writing companion, interspersed with other things, throughout the past half-decade, and I’m not sure exactly what to do now that it’s over?? It was so rewarding to get to pound out the last few chapters — messily, but so much fun. XD

Also, writing a wintry, Christmas-y scene in April/May isn’t what I was planning on, but it works. *shrug*

Finishing, Y’all

Finishing a draft is such a rush of amazing feelings.

I hadn’t finished a novel in quite awhile, between spreading myself too thin across various writing projects, working on short stories, and blogging/online presence stuff.

So it was beyond incredible to get to finish two projects I’ve adored working on, within six months of each other. It provided such a boost to my writing enthusiasm, and I feel on top of the clouds! (Literally, with my steampunk-fantasy series. XD)

Next Up . . .

So, what now?

I’ve been working on S&S and KW2 for a long time now and not much else, so it was a really weird feeling to not have either of them to write! O_O

Mixup at Kedran’s Wood (KW2.5) novella: WIP

. . . Which is why I turned around and started writing a between-books novella (set a few months after KW2) a week after I finished KW2. XD

I’m currently about two chapters in and having a blast just working on a smaller, fun project!

Short version: Tare and Adrian having a buddy story while looking like each other. Bwahaha. 😀

Spring comes to Kedran’s Wood and brings with it a series of mishaps, both magical and ordinary. Tare battles a cold (to the astonishment of the Chess Club, who somehow feel he should be immune to ordinary human complaints), and Adrian and Tare run into a magical scrape with chaotic consequences: They accidentally switch appearances. Attempting to live each other’s lives is hard enough for even a day. They’ll have to work together, despite their differences, if they’re going to get out of this one.

I don’t have a pinterest board for it specifically, but here’s the board for the series in general.

Siren and the Skyship sequel: plotting

Meanwhile, I’m trying to wrangle the plot of my next major project, which is hopefully going to be S&S2.

I’ve tentatively decided that since book 1 is going to need a massive overhaul/rewrite anyway, I may as well dash out rough drafts of the two sequels. Since, apparently, they’re going to be tightly knit together, instead of semi-standalones like I was originally intending. Heh.

SO. It’s high time for me to introduce this one to you! At the moment it’s a mess of exciting ideas but hasn’t formed into a solid plot.

I’ll share a blurb in a second, but first, if you want some pretties, you can check out my pinterest board! It started as a board for The Siren and the Skyship and I’ve just been adding S&S2 stuff to it more recently, so you can find that here.

Introducing . . .

*drumroll*

The Skythief and the Secret Tower (S&S2 for short)

The short version: Steampunk-fantasy Jack and the Beanstalk meets Snow White in Rapunzel. (At least loosely. XD)

A young sky pirate named Keller teams up with a girl called Ebony from a stone pillar with hidden secrets and a magic mirror, to pull off the ultimate heist. Stealing from the dragons has never been easy, and neither is evading the pirate king to whom Keller owes forced allegiance — especially when Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley, Royal Skynavy captain, is hot on Keller’s trail, in search of the stolen crown jewels which are the only way to stop a war. If he doesn’t manage the mission the pirate king sent him on, Keller could lose everything, but if he succeeds, he could release the worst threat to the sky world. Despite his smooth-talking, thievery skills, and power to control plants, Keller may have finally hit the end of the line. This skythief’s heart isn’t the only thing that might be stolen from him.

…That’s a working summary, so I have no idea how it will actually turn out, given that my plotting is an unfocused mess and currently looks like this.

My favorite Scapple (relation of Scrivener) plotting software! Currently dropping all my ideas in and making a mess. XD

More factoids!

  • Book 2 of my Sky Voyages steampunk-fantasy fairytale-retelling trilogy
  • Loosely inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Snow White
  • MC is a blond sky pirate by the name of Keller, who has plant powers
  • Continues to feature plot-threads with characters from the first book (Princess Tasmania, Rook, etc. — ALL MY FAVORITE CHARACTERSSS)
  • Used to be book 3 and then switched places with the one I knew more about, so that one is now book 3 and this one is book 2, which is understandably causing my brain confusions. XD
  • Is giving me a dreadful time of it trying to wrangle said plot threads
  • Heroine (who is Rapunzel/Snow White) refuses to tell me much about herself which is naturally making it difficult to plot
  • URGH
  • But also I’m REALLY REALLY EXCITED
  • Especially after writing up that blurb. 😀

Ahem. Anyway, there are EXCITING THINGS going on, even if I’m having a spot of difficulty figuring the plot out. XD


So that’s what’s up on the writing front!

Short Tare scribbling and attempted-plot-wrangling of The Skythief and the Secret Tower. I’m really excited about both of these! Even if I don’t have a lot of time to spend on either, due to life and the fact that I should switch to prepping for Realm Makers. 😛

But just sharing about them is making me MORE EXCITED! So hurray! Maybe I’ll be motivated to sneak some progress in on these when I can. 🙂


Snippets!

Ah, yes, I did promise snippets!

Since I recently finished KW2, it seems like a good time to share a few of those, and maybe one from the story I’m currently working on. 😉

All the best lines are spoilers (whyyy?? Answer: because I was near the end of the book, which is spoiler-rich territory) but I managed to find a few fun ones that aren’t. XD

(I know that they mostly feature Baz and Tare. I equally apologize and don’t apologize for this fact. Baz = humor, Tare = awesome, which means they’re in most of the snippets I want to share, naturally. :P)

Snippets from KW2 (The Secret of Kedran’s Wood)

“Where are we going?”

“To get pizza,” Baz said firmly.

Tare raised one eyebrow. “Because?”

“Pizza doesn’t need a reason. Don’t question pizza,” Baz replied.

***

“I hate to break it to you, but not everything is your fault, Tare,” Ivy said.

***

“Like a secret society.”

Baz shrugged. “We’re not very secret. Open books—that’s us.”

“Speak for yourself. I’m a closed book. Locked. And written in code,” Ivy said, tossing her red hair over her shoulder.

Baz blinked. “No fair—why didn’t I think of that!”

***

Tare’s last thoughts before the world went dark were that he hated magic, and that he couldn’t pass out because the Chess Club were in danger and he had to find them.

***

“So, my family’s kind of rich and important; don’t judge.”

“Not judging,” Tare said briefly.

Baz blinked, surprised. “Oh. Thanks.”

“Any time,” Tare said dryly. “As long as there are no puns involved.”

“Talking through bars kind of imprisons my sense of humor,” Baz said.

***

And Tare was tied up on the floor, which pretty much signaled the apocalypse.

Possibly literally.

***

“You know, looking around your home, no one would be able to tell it was Christmas next week,” Adrian said. “You should decorate.”

Tare raised a sarcastic eyebrow, looking over his shoulder as he opened the door. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been a bit too busy to decorate.”

“No, we didn’t notice at all,” Ivy said innocently, following him out onto the porch.

“Well, what do you think we’re for?” Baz exclaimed. “We can decorate your house.”

“Don’t you dare touch my house.”

Baz, passing through the doorway, deliberately reached one finger out and touched the wall.

Tare spread his arms in a “why me?” posture and gave Baz a disbelieving look. “Really? Are you five?”

***

“As someone who is very definitely not a football,” Baz gasped out in his version of defiance, “I resent being thrown around.”

***

Tare’s blood boiled momentarily before turning to frigid ice as he coolly stepped out and pointed a pistol at them. “Let him go,” Tare said.

Adrian looked up at the sound of his voice and the others jerked to see him. The one who had just punched Adrian—a fair-haired young man not like the two red-heads—drew back and went for his gun.

Tare leveled his own toward him. His voice was iron. “I wouldn’t.”

***

Baz raised one hand. “I, for one, have all my ribs broken, buuut yeah, I’m fine.”

Lavender leaned her head on his shoulder, and Baz didn’t object at all.

Adrian rolled his eyes. “They’re bruised, not broken, Baz. Don’t be a baby.”

***

“Well,” Baz said, “welcome to the Chess Club, officially. Now you know why we don’t play chess as often as we might, because what we actually do is lead a double life of fighting monsters and evil faeries and saving the world and all of that—”

“Speak for yourself,” Tare muttered.

“—and when we’re finished we limp home if we’re alive and laugh about it and wonder why superheroes think this is fun.” He grinned.

***

Tare paused. “Did I just agree with Baz?”

Ivy rolled her eyes theatrically. “The world is ending after all.”

And one from KW2.5

Tare smirked and kept backing as he turned to leave. “Don’t worry. I don’t get colds.”

*

“Really, Tare? You had to say it,” Tare remarked to the underside of his bed canopy as he lay staring up at it.

Tare woke feeling like death.

Which, considering how often he had gotten close to actually dying through the course of his life, was silly, since he wasn’t very close to it this time, and merely had a nasty cold.


And there we are! What do you think? About . . . any of it! My steampunk story, or the snippets . . . I’d love to hear! Thanks for reading! ^_^