Story Anniversary

Things that are making me happy today —

The smell of freshly-mowed grass.

SPRING! (it’s here, people!)

Celtic music.

Chocolate.

And of course . . . writing anniversaries!

***

April 5th, 2012, was a special day for me…

On that day, two years ago now, I embarked on a new adventure that took me places I could never have imagined. On that day, I wrote the first words of my contemporary fantasy novel, “The Owl of Kedran’s Wood”.

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Summary: Sinister creatures called Wildlings are lurking in the woods by a small town and the members of the local Chess Club take it upon themselves to do something about it. But that is before the arrival of shape-shifting Wildlings who can look like humans, and the sudden appearance of a shady character in a black leather jacket, calling himself Tare. The Chess Club are caught up in a swirl of dark mystery and must find the answers to the secrets of Tare and the Wildlings — before it is too late.

I had never written anything modern before, so it was a totally new thing for me, and on top of that I had not much of an idea of where it was going — I was mostly “pantsing” it, and I’m a plotter by nature. So that made two different things. It was a weird experiment, and I figured it would be a fun little story that I would write in a few months, finish, and move back to my previous projects.

Boy was I wrong.

It quickly took over and consumed my writing life.

Funny how books do that to us writers, isn’t it? 😉

I had a blast with the story — which is an odd combination of scary adventure and lighthearted humor — and fell in love with the characters. Timid Lavender, fiery Ivy, placid Mr. Larch, hilarious Baz, strong but laid-back Adrian, and adorable fluffy white puppy Small Occasion. And of course the dark, mysterious, all-important black-leather-clad Tare.

Six months later, I was nearly 80 thousand words in and took a break for NaNo… Just short of a year after starting it, I wrote “The End” on that monster of a 105,000 word novel. At a year and a half after starting, I had finished editing it. And last month, just short of two years later, I started writing the sequel. I have just finally admitted — as of yesterday — that it is NOT going to be a mini-adventure-novella, but rather a full-fledged novel.

I’m now planning a trilogy and am extremely excited about it.

Who would have thought that such a small step of starting a random story, would set me off on such a marvelous journey? That the characters would thus entwine themselves so deep in my heart? They have to be one of my favorite casts to write about. “The Owl of Kedran’s Wood” was going to be a standalone novel. But I just loved the characters too much to let them go and by the time I had finished it, I knew I would be returning for more adventures with them.

AND, to mark the anniversary of the first book, last night I finally started Camp NaNo, picking up where I left off a month ago on chapter one of book 2 in the Kedran’s Wood Trilogy, “Snowfall at Kedran’s Wood”. There’s an excerpt here if anyone’s interested… Hopefully many more fun words await!

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But! I won’t be much of a writer if I don’t stop scribbling this blog post and get back to my Camp writing! So cheerio for now. 🙂

Camping! (not-really)

In April I’ll be hopping onto the Camp NaNoWriMo bandwagon — though just with a low goal of 10,000 words. I want to get myself writing something and I figured it would provide a good push.

What am I going to be working on? Eh. That’s still undecided. But I figure that with all the stories I have in the works, there should be something to write each day… right?

Here are my most-likely candidates for working on in April, as described on my Camp page, in this edition of OPERATION WRITE SOME WORDS THIS MONTH.

CampApril14coverSong of a Pirate
A nautical medieval fantasy novella I worked on for both of 2013’s Camps, featuring pirates, gypsies, memory-loss, and possibly a giant crab.

Snowfall at Kedran’s Wood
A contemporary-fantasy Christmas novella sequel to my latest finished novel. I say novella because I’m pretending it’s going to be short — I’m obviously a delusional person. Contains a hilarious group of friends and one of my favorite characters ever, complete with black leather jacket.

The Invisible Mask
A fantasy novel with mansions on windswept moors and fine people going about in carriages. Think “Pride and Prejudice”, with action, from the point of view of the fellows instead of the girls. Starring Richard Armitage.

I may end up working on any, all, or none of these, and if anything else rears its head and begs to be written, I’ll not complain. 😉

Is anyone else doing Camp NaNo this April?

What are you currently writing?

(Also, I keep not posting any of the posts I keep planning to post — colds have a way of making your brain not want to function — but I’m determined to get to them soon.)

A Visit From the Leprechauns

March 17th. The day when everyone goes around wearing green, wishing (or pretending) they’re Irish.

(I don’t have to wish or pretend, since I have an Irish background myself. But I do go around wearing green. Then again, I do that most of the time anyway . . .)

I love Irish things and Irish music, and my plan was to share some of my favorite songs and tunes. But the sheer enormity of such a task — narrowing it to a FEW favorites — daunted me. So, here. In honor of the occasion, have some Irish-ish pictures. (I usually say “Celtic” in these circumstances, but Irish-ish goes today. My spell-checker is informing me that it’s not a word. You don’t say…?)

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I’d been thinking for awhile that I might post a snippet or two of writing on my blog to give an idea of what I’m writing these days . . .

Since my latest NaNoWriMo novel, Underground Rainbow, happens to have leprechauns in it, I figured what better time than St. Patrick’s Day to share a snippet from it?

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There was no sign of the little men. Jancsi nearly wailed. “But . . . the leprechauns,” he managed to say. Over in the doorway, Natalie and Matt traded wordless glances and came into the room, closing the door behind them.

“What . . . did you say?” Natalie asked.

“Leprechauns,” Jancsi said.

Matt’s face twitched.

“You know, the little Irish fairy fellows,” Jancsi said, waving a hand in the air expressively. “They were on my desk a minute ago.”

The Sheldon cousins blinked again and once more traded glances. Natalie chewed her lip thoughtfully.

“Um . . .” Matt said cautiously. “Don’t you think you should go to bed?”

Jancsi threw up his hands. “Of course. I might have known nobody in their right mind would believe me. I was having the most fascinating talk with them, and they up and vanished right when you came in. What did you want, anyway?”

“When I passed your door a minute ago I thought I heard voices,” Natalie said. “So I thought Matt had come back and was talking with you, but he was still in his room, and we knew Mr. Gummer had gone to bed, so we just thought we’d poke our heads in.”

“You think I’m crazy,” Jancsi said without bitterness.

“No-oo . . .” Natalie began.

“We just think . . .” Matt said with a slight hint of guilt, “. . . that maybe you should get some sleep?”

“Well I can show you the gnome I found in one of my pictures anyway,” Jancsi said, pulling his netbook over to him, suddenly desperate to show them something.

They both looked uneasy, like they didn’t think Jancsi was totally okay but were his friends and didn’t want to doubt him.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” an Irish accent said wearily from the back of the bed. All eyes turned in that direction, and there was Donal standing on the bed, leaning against the pillows. “We’re here, all right? You can come down now, Liam me boy. They may as well all see us.”

“As you say,” said a voice above them, and the other leprechaun came sliding nonchalantly down one of the corner posts of the canopied bed, like a fireman down a fire-pole. Far from looking comic or ridiculous, it looked like the most natural—not to mention coolest—thing for a leprechaun to do. Liam landed on the edge of the bed and took off his cap briefly in what might have been a polite gesture, or else just so he could fluff his hand through his hair, before replacing it on his head.

Matt had frozen with his mouth hanging open. Natalie clutched the other corner post at the end of the bed, and her brown eyes were very wide.

Enjoying this display of a repeat of what he had felt like earlier, Jancsi grinned. “Natalie and Matt, I would like you to meet Liam and Donal,” he said, gesturing at each of the leprechauns.

Donal, still leaning against the pillows as though they were a pile of very large grain sacks, touched his forehead as though taking hold of an invisible hat, in an old sailor-like salute. “At your service,” he said charmingly.

“Which you don’t really mean,” Liam put in cheerfully.

“Well . . . no. But it sounded like the thing to say.” Donal shrugged.

“They’re . . . leprechauns?” Matt managed to gasp out.

“But they’re not wearing green,” Natalie whispered with a little frown.

“And they don’t have top hats or buckle shoes,” Matt added, putting his head to one side as though thinking. He pulled over one of the chairs and sat down in it.

Natalie grabbed another and did the same, still looking at the little men. “How are they here?” she squeaked.

“I didn’t count this time,” Donal said pointedly to Jancsi. “But you see how it is. Always the same questions. It quite tires a fellow out.”

–Snippet from Underground Rainbow by Deborah O’Carroll, work-in-progress, NaNo 2013

There you are. Hope you enjoyed!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Meet the Stories

Juggling a stack of books is difficult, and one can only imagine that juggling a stack of books that aren’t written yet would either be impossible or very easy. In truth, it’s somewhere in between.

My silly brain is overly active and constantly overwhelmed with far too many ideas to write. But sometimes an idea reaches a certain stage when it becomes a “story” and at some point (if I have a title for it) I usually put it in my list of “official” stories, which means I’m going to try to write it. Someday.

Unfortunately, I’m by no means a fast writer, so many are going to have to wait quite awhile for me to get to them. But maybe by that time I’ll have amassed enough ideas about it that I can write it. So for some of the more vague ideas I’m in no hurry. I also have a sad tendency not to focus on one story at a time, which makes it an even longer time before I finish anything.

So this post is to “meet” a few of the books I’m writing, have written, or plan to write someday. Since there are so many, a very detailed post would be far too long for anyone to read, so I’m going to try to keep it short. Ish.

My stories — written, unwritten, and in progress — fall into the following categories (not counting fanfiction, old endeavors, and co-writing attempts).

Standalone:
7 novels
4 novellas
11 short stories

Series:
The Chronicles of Starrellia (8 novels, 3 novellas, a few short stories)
Kedran’s Wood series (2 novels and 1 in-between novella)
Tales of Evera fairytales (3 short stories)

Which comes out as roughly 40 all together. Am I crazy? Well yes, actually, but that’s beside the point. (Also, don’t worry — I’ve only actually finished 3 novels and 3 short stories, aside from my “unofficial” stuff. Which makes me not so much accomplished as ambitious.)

So without further rambling, let’s meet some stories . . .

Finished novels

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Quest For a Legend
(The Chronicles of Starrellia, book 4)
Fantasy, complete at 98,000 words.
10,000 words into rewrite, which is on hold.
Ethan sets out on a quest to discover the secrets of a strange map, but with the sudden invasion of the kingdom, he is caught up in the action. Alongside an array of friends including a princess, two talking bears, a merry young spy, and a mysterious prince who seems to have questionable intentions, Ethan battles to save the realm from the greedy clutches of an evil king. But can he save the kingdom and still complete his quest for a legend?

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Far-mark’s Dream
Fantasy. Complete at 53,000 words. On hold for a rewrite.
More info here.

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The Owl of Kedran’s Wood
(Kedran’s Wood series, book 1.)
Contemporary Fantasy / Mystery, complete at 105,000 words.
Sinister creatures called Wildlings are lurking in the woods by a small town and the members of the local Chess Club take it upon themselves to do something about it. But that is before the arrival of shape-shifting Wildlings who can look like humans, and the sudden appearance of a shady character in a black leather jacket, calling himself Tare. The Chess Club are caught up in a swirl of dark mystery and must find the answers to the secrets of Tare and the Wildlings—before it is too late.

Finished short stories:

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Clarity in Darkness
(Unsure of genre; complete at 2500 words.)
Music from beyond the buildings, through the darkness . . . calling.

Dragon Eyes
(Fantasy, complete at 4500 words.)
Ronan’s world is acting unusual, and he must discover the cause before anything truly dreadful happens.

Midnight Fear
(Horror? Complete at 1000 words.)
Walking home in the dark . . . and a black panther is on the loose.

Past projects that are on hiatus but I plan to finish/rewrite someday:

Grey Betrayal
Fantasy novel: The Chronicles of Starrellia, book 1. 50,000 words so far.

Twelve Fugitives in the Wild
Fantasy novel. 48,000 words so far.

(Those two are talked about in this post.)

The Emerald Avenger
(Novella. Historical Fiction? 22,000 words so far.)
In the tradition of Zorro and other such non-supernatural superheroes, this is a story of a masked man, set during the 1700s on a fictional Caribbean island under the jurisdiction of England. I started it a very long time ago and it will need some serious rewriting after I finish it.

Hairdo Havoc
(Humorous short story. 600 words so far.)
A whimsical tale that I started writing one day and haven’t gotten very far on due to having no idea what happens next. Sometime if I can figure out what else will happen and regain that whimsical humorous mood, I may try to finish it. It’s a very fun story even as it is at the moment.

Currently in the midst of
(meaning you’ll probably hear mostly about these over the next several months)

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Underground Rainbow
Contemporary Fantasy novel, currently writing for NaNo.

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The Invisible Mask
(Fantasy novel, currently at 10,000 words.) On hold at the moment while I work on other things and figure out the plot (because I’ve no idea what’s going to happen).
A young nobleman searching for the woman he wishes to marry. A princess who wants revenge. A disinherited brother and sister looking for a new way of life. A young lady seeking to regain her rightful land. A man who disappeared five years ago, whose daughter is still searching for him. Secrets, spies, highwaymen, people who are not what they seem, and at the heart of everything, a missing book and a dark and secret tower. The key to it all may lie with a mysterious nobleman whose shady past is hidden in lonely mansions on the windswept moors.

SPcoverSong of a Pirate
(Fantasy Novella, currently at 22,000 words.)
Started for Camp Nanowrimo and I just need to get around to figuring out the ending and writing the rest.
The pirate crew of the Sea Maid is losing the memory of why they appointed their captain, a new sailor is curious about it—and the Captain has plans of his own. An enigmatic woman who knows impossible things, a silent man found by gypsies, and a lonely nobleman with a tangled history, join in the voyage. They are bound for an unreachable island that holds the secrets to their past and their hopes for the future, but all may be lost in the end. For the boy Captain of a pirate ship no longer sings his song.

OUcover2Out of the Unknown
(Fantasy Novel, The Chronicles of Starrellia, book 2.)
Currently at 34,000 words. I’m going to go back and rewrite most of what I have so far, adding some plot points and characters, before continuing the story. Finishing this is going to be my main focus in 2014. I hope.
They will have to face their fears. An exiled king and his brother—haunted by the present. A man who has forgotten his identity—haunted by his lack of a past. A girl on a mission—haunted by dreams of the future. An outlaw four times over—haunted by his past, present, and the possibility of a similar future. All are brought together by a fate that will cause them to undertake a journey together, to try and depart from the land they are trapped in—a land from which no one in remembered history has ever escaped.

KWnovellaCoverSnowfall at Kedran’s Wood
Contemporary Fantasy Novella. Kedran’s Wood series, book 2 (or 1.5, depending on how you look at it). Unstarted, but might start soon. Currently in brainstorming/plotting/snippet-writing mode.
After the otherworldly events of the summer, the Chess Club believes the Wildling affair is behind them. But when some alarming men begin investigating what happened, and Tare returns from his absence one snowy December day, they realize their adventures are far from over. Assailed by nightmares, Tare tries to recover and does some investigation of his own, while the Chess Club must deal with local mysteries, a group of threatening people, and Christmas holidays, amid the snowfall in the shadow of Kedran’s Wood.

***

So those are the stories I’m most likely to mention ’round here.

Sometime in the future I plan to also write:

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5 other novels and a collection of novellas/short stories in the Chronicles of Starrellia
a second novel in the Kedran’s Wood series (following the novella)
a fantasy novel about young river pirates
2 science-fiction novels (one a sci-fi thriller, the other a sci-fi western)
a time-travel/sci-fi/historical fiction novella
a fantasy novella that I can’t figure out how to explain
a post-appocalyptic short story
a sci-fi short story having to do with mind reading
a time-travel story (possibly steampunk)
2 fantasy short stories about birds
a fantasy short story Cinderella retelling
a world-hopping fantasy short story (or two)
3 fairytale-like short stories that are interrelated

Several of those I occasionally work on or write down a snippet or some story idea notes for, and if at some point I get closer to writing those stories, they may get introductions as well.

But at the moment I think this post is quite long enough . . !

 

 

Fall: A Long Expected Party

Today is a special day, for two reasons.

For one thing, Fall is officially here. But before I get carried away rambling about the weather (that’s boring, right?), I must mention the other reason for September 22nd being a stupendous date. That being the birthday of Tolkien’s Bilbo and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. No post on this day is complete without a mention of them.

Happy birthday, favorite Bagginses! I’ll be celebrating your birthdays today. *tips hat to the Hobbits*

In The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday is marked by a long expected party, and each year the 22nd of September is something of a long expected party to me, ushering in the start of another season.

As the autumnal weather begins to sweep through the area, I feel a call to adventure, an urge to at least venture out of my writer cave to relish the change of weather (saying farewell to the–somewhat–vanished stifling heat of summer), watch colorful leaves drift lazily to earth, and smell the scent of Fall.

It’s the sort of weather where you want to stay curled up in your cozy blankets all morning, thinking lazily about a story, and eventually get up, pad in stocking feet into the kitchen for some steaming tea or hot chocolate, and curl up in a chair to read. Or scribble a story snippet of those characters who have been inhabiting your brain all morning, insisting you write something about them even if you’re “officially” writing something else. (Which is something I may or may not have been doing myself this morning . . .)

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And later, maybe wrap up in a jacket and go tramping outside through the cooling air, among the spiraling leaves, maybe just into the yard or maybe down the road to the park, sniffing the smell of autumn and feeling as though adventure is just around the corner.

It’s difficult to believe that only earlier this week I was practically dying of the heat, with my ceiling fan on full blast and my window open at night trying to catch the slightest hint of a breeze. And then last night was the first truly cold night in six months–cold, as in, break out the fluffy blankets and warm pajamas. Of course, with our weather, we’ll probably be back to 100 degrees in a week or so and not get really into Fall weather until next month, but so far it’s been a lovely change.

With the change of seasons, I find that the seasons in my writing change too.

InvisibleMaskTreeIn January this year, a story came out of the blue and I started writing it. A tale of mysterious characters going about in long black coats, riding winding roads through bleak misty hills in carriages, and living in large shadowy refined mansions on dark windswept moors, with stark empty trees twisting blackly against grey winter skies. I wrote in it on and off for a few months, but then spring came and suddenly I was no longer as interested in that story.

PeacockFeatherWith the arrival of spring, the weather turned warm and the bare trees that had offered so much inspiration for The Invisible Mask were filled suddenly with leafy greenness. All at once I ended up writing a story of pirates sailing through aquamarine water under a tropical sun, or ashore among green rain-forests with colorful birds calling amid the foliage. And when summer came along and all was stiflingly hot around here, somehow the characters in Song of a Pirate began traveling through a desert, with a baking sun shining down on bright yellow sand.

I’ve seen this before in my writing. My contemporary-fantasy summer adventure story, The Owl of Kedran’s Wood, was rather more difficult to finish writing earlier this year due to the winter weather. No matter what the story, the weather of the season I’m writing it during seems to creep into the tale. If I’m writing a story set in summer and it’s winter at the moment, cold scenes invade my mind. Or if I’m trying to write a winter scene during summer, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around the concept of it being cold.

And as I’m talking about the subject, I’m beginning to reflect that perhaps setting my upcoming Nanowrimo novel in spring may not be the best of ideas, and I might be advised to change it to autumn while I can . . .

What about you? Is your writing seasonal?

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