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! ^_^

Know the Novel: Writing and Beyond (Siren and the Skyship & Tare)

It’s time for another Know the Novel post — hurray! The third and final in a series of writer linkups from my dear blogging buddy Christine @ Musings of an Elf!

You can check it out here and read my two previous installments here and here.

Once again, I’m answering with The Siren and the Skyship (S&S; my YA steampunk-fantasy Little Merman novel) and The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2; wintry contemporary fantasy), since those are what I was writing for NaNo and they’re the only things my brain has been thinking about. (*pretends this is true and casually pushes aside other jealous novels who are looking over my shoulder waiting for their turn*)

Onward to the questions!

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

S&S: Considering that I wrote it in about a year, which is fast for me, and that I actually got to the end, SPLENDIDLY. Though, on the other hand, it kept switching directions, which is going to make the rewriting a total headache. But I can’t really complain because each time it changed, it got so much more awesome. Overall, I totally loved writing it! It was fun almost the entire time and I had an absolute BLAST writing this thing!

KW2: I . . . don’t know for sure since I still haven’t finished it. *hangs head in shame* I’ve written nearly a thousand words since NaNo but have just been too busy to write these last couple of chapters and finish! But overall it seems to have gone pretty okay, other than taking years to write and wanting to be written out of order and stuff. XD Still, it’s been fun because I love these characters!

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

S&S: I really don’t know because I haven’t had a chance to look at it since finishing. And I know it’s a terrifying mess and needs to be seriously rewritten. XD I think I’m pretty pleased, though. It’s just a rough draft so I’ll know more once I get to the rewriting stage. *hides* I think the main thing I’m surprised about is that I thought it would be basically a standalone, wrapping up most things, with the two sequels just following other characters we’ve met. UM. AHAHA. NO. There’s a whole lot left hanging and the books are so interlocked now and eeeee I’m really excited!

KW2: Again, can’t quite answer this since I haven’t finished. And given that I originally thought it would be a small holiday novella, and it’s currently at 120K+ and not quite finished, I’d say it turned out quite different. XD I do wish the plot would cooperate more and that the villains weren’t hiding all their villainous secrets until the end, though. Ahem.

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

S&S: CHARACTERS. I adore them all and they’ve been so much fun to write. Although, actually, the setting takes a close second, because this steampunk fantasy world with rocky pillars and mist and skyships and clockwork dragons and cloud cities IS MY FAVORITE.

KW2: Definitely Tare and the Chess Club. ❤ I love them so much.

4. How about your least favorite part?

S&S: I don’t know if I have a least favorite part of the writing. It was just fun, I tell you!

KW2: I don’t know… All the times I got stuck, I suppose. XD

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

S&S: ALL OF IT. *collapses* Probably the main plot-lines of Auren and Tasmania, and just fitting everything together properly. The fact that it kept changing hugely as I wrote it, and then I’d keep writing as if I’d fixed it, has made it quite the patchwork story. It’s going to need a ton of work. But I’m excited too, because I love it so much and can’t wait to rewrite it to its full potential!

KW2: The length, the meandering plot, and the villains not being active enough. All due to thinking it was going to be a novella and then it got huge. XD And the fact that I hardcore hoarded plot-reveal-secrets. At the moment I just want to finish and get on to the next adventure, though! I’m writing this one for fun so at the moment I’m learning what I can but not bothering too much about making it The Perfect Novel — yet.

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!

S&S: I lurve themmm. My favorite would be Rook (haha. Don’t be too surprised, everyone . . . *cough*), BUT I have so many other favorites too! Like Tasmania and Gerias. Xasper, Rook’s little brother, surprised me by being so fun and sneaky. Noya surprised me by being kind of tense and awesome. Tasmania’s twin brothers surprised me by gaining their own personalities and being totally different — like how Durward apparently loves food. XD And Auren and Keller have surprised me by being totally different than I thought they were, which is awkward, given that they’re the main characters of books 1 and 2 and I kind of have to rewrite them now. 😛 As for least-favorite . . . we can give that one to Captain Haversham, Rook’s new boss, who is blackmailing him and is TOTALLY SLIMY. Okay, and the Sorcerer of the Mist, because eek.

KW2: I kind of don’t make any secret of the fact that Tare is my favorite character. 😉 I do have new favorite characters but they’re spoilers. The Chess Club are fun, of course, and I really liked getting to do more with Adrian and Ivy — love them! And how Lavender is kind of almost like a little-sister for Tare and slkdjflkdj she kind of looks after him and it’s the cutest. Least favorite would be Greg — yeesh. I think I was surprised how Harold “Perfect-Teeth” was less straight-up villain than I thought; like, he’s a jerk but he’s kind of mild about it. Or maybe it’s just the comparison with Greg. And both the new characters are surprising me a bit, just because I hadn’t met them before. And I had no idea Robin would be quite so bouncy. XD Also there’s a side character who is like “by the way, there’s something up with me” and I’m like “excuse me, you only just arrived and there’s only like two chapters left so there can’t possibly be anything at all up with you; and anyway you’re not important” and said character is like “fine, I’ll just disappear and be a loose thread, then” and I’m like “??? RUDE?” Writing. I tell ya.

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

S&S: Let it sit for awhile while I cry over what a mess it is let it simmer on the back-burner. After that . . . well . . . maybe I’ll start the major mess that is trying to rewrite it? *sound of characters laughing at me* Or possibly move on to writing the sequel instead. *cough* (What? I need to know what happens later so I can make the series make sense . . .)

KW2: FINISH IT. AAAGH. I’m so close. So. close. After that, I don’t know, but I might lowkey move on to sequels on this one too . . .

Thanks, Tare. I did have Christmas, you know. …Aaand you don’t care, do you.

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

S&S: Have it re-writtten just right, published with a shiny cover, and sitting on shelves — and people enjoying it. 🙂 Having it be super popular wouldn’t go amiss but is not 100% required. XD

KW2: I don’t even know. Probably having it make sense (*editing sobbing*) and maybe published? I don’t know… This series I just started for fun but in the long run I’d like it to be out there someday. 🙂

9. Share a snippet of one of your most favorite scenes!

S&S:

“Hear that, Durward?” Percival called across Tasmania’s shoulder as their brother walked past them with a crystal glass in one hand and a plate of some kind of pastries in the other.

“Mmm?” Durward said, pausing and turning with eyebrows raised, in mid-chew on something delectable.

Percy repeated the appointment: library, midnight (ish) or as soon as they could get away from the ball, the three of them, talking.

Durward nodded. “Will do. I had my heart set on a night of real sleep, but”—he sighed dramatically—“I can sacrifice it for the good of the country so you can fall asleep at your coronation tomorrow.”

Percy snagged a pastry from Durward’s china plate, saying, “Is that so,” while Tasmania was laughing and trying to say she’d been saying the same thing.

“Now put those down. We need to find you somebody to dance with,” Percival added.

“Not a chance. I’m starving. All that paperwork makes a man hungry.”

“But we have already decided to find you a partner,” Tasmania said.

Durward smiled winningly. “Already have one.”

They paused, blinked, and stared at him in silent questioning.

He gestured with his drink at his plate.

They groaned.

“Food and I. True love. Won’t find me a better.”

“You’ll need to sign on as my cabin boy after this,” Tasmania said mock-seriously.

“And why’s that?” he asked, somehow munching on another pastry while still holding his refreshments in both hands.

“For the exercise, of course. Nothing like climbing rigging to keep a man fit,” Tasmania said innocently.

“You don’t see Percy doing that sort of thing,” Durward remarked placidly.

“You forget that all I’m ever doing is constantly running around after matters of state,” Percy said. “So much exercise. You’d be wise to take Mania up on her offer if you’re set on your true love and all. You’ll get fat sitting behind a desk doing paperwork and doing nothing but eating pastries.”

“Bah,” Durward said cheerfully and ambled off through the crowd.

KW2:

(The Chess Club and Tare are locked down in a cold, dark, underground room.)

Lavender sighed. “I wish we had our phones.”

“Me too,” Ivy said. “We could call Adrian.”

“We could call Mr. Larch,” Marie said.

“We could call both,” Jake added gloomily.

“You could call neither,” Tare said.

They all looked up at him and there were some noses wrinkled in annoyance.

“We were just getting comfortable with light and wishful thinking—don’t rain on our parade!” Baz complained.

“I’m not raining on anyone’s parade,” Tare said. “Just saying. No good. There’s no signal down here.”

“And you know this exactly how?” came Ivy’s skepticism.

Tare reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a shiny black cellphone, which he waved slightly. “Because I checked.”

They were taken aback. “You have a cellphone?” Marie said, catching onto the unspoken question from the others and voicing it for them.

“No, I have a magical box I keep in my pocket which can surf the Internet. Of course I have a cellphone; what’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, but . . . you have a cellphone,” Lavender stammered.

Tare sighed, slipping it back in his pocket. “Not this again.”

“No, really,” Baz said. “How did this happen?”

“Someone gave it to me.”

“Now that I find hard to believe,” Ivy said.

The corner of Tare’s mouth twitched. “Long story.”

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

S&S: Draft Zero is still magical. Write in quick scenes like it’s a movie — you don’t have to connect everything because that’s boring. Keep going to the end because it won’t look the same when you get there. And once you get to the end, you’ll know how the rest needs to go.

KW2: I probably learn all sorts of life lessons from writing Tare. XD But a writing lesson I learned the hard way is make sure that big-important-things happen early on and keep happening — don’t hoard plot-reveal-secrets (okay, hoard a few for the end; but sprinkle some throughout!). And don’t write long books. *cough* Also, writing out of order is simultaneously the best and worst life choice ever. XD


I hope you guys enjoyed this look at how the writing went! I don’t know when I’ll find time to finish KW2 but here’s hoping it will be sometime in the next month! Let me know what you think in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading!

Guess Who Finished A Novel?? (Know the Novel 2: Within Siren & the Skyship and Tare)

NaNo’s almost over and it’s time to answer the super fun questions for the second round of Christine Smith’s fabulous writer linkup, Know the Novel!

I’m doing the two novels I’m writing for NaNo, The Siren and the Skyship (“S&S” — YA steampunk-fantasy Little Merman), and The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (“KW2” — wintry contemporary fantasy sequel). You can read my answers to the first round of questions introducing the novels at that link!

1. How’s the writing going?

STUPENDOUSLY.

I hit a very exciting point on the night of the 27th:

I HIT 50K AND WON MY 9TH NANOWRIMO!!! 😀 I’m super excited. ^_^

It was super hard just to stay on track the first week or so, simply because life was SO BUSY, but I somehow stayed on par for the first 8 days, just barely.

On November 9th, I wrote over 8,000 words (beating my personal record for a single day) and FINISHED The Siren and the Skyship!!!

Guys, I’m so happy! This is my fifth finished novel, but I hadn’t finished a novel (novellas/short stories don’t count) in 5 years and just… the thrill of finally doing so again and getting to the end of this story I’m so in love with was absolutely amazing! ❤ It’s 95K words long, a total and absolute mess of writing, with draft zero bits scattered here and there, and is going to need a complete overhaul and rewrite because the story kept changing itself on me… but I still absolutely adore it AND IT’S DONE FOR NOW.

I’m so, so happy. ^_^

Bucky is grouchy because some random writer girl’s stats bars are hitting him in the chin. (gorgeous art/spreadsheet credit to Svenja Gosen)

So the first 9 days of NaNo, I worked on S&S and wrote 21K on that.

On November 10, I switched right over to working on The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. I’ve been making SERIOUS progress on that and it’s absolutely glorious! I’ve written 33K on it this month and finished part 2 and I’m in the final homestretch of the novel. AAAHH!

And, as I mentioned, I hit 50K for the month on Tuesday! 😀

I’m actually STILL writing, though, because KW2 is not over yet and I probably won’t finish this month but I’m close enough that I want to keep writing anyway! (Let’s just pretend the novel isn’t 118K already and not quite done. *dies*)

SO YEAH. At the time of writing this post, I’m at 55K for the month, and I don’t know if I’ll get much more done before December 1st hits, but it’s been going great and I’ve been having a blast!

a write-in I hosted

2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

S&S: The characters I love and the steampunk-fantasy world and getting to write the ending! ❤

KW2: Getting to write scenes I’ve been looking forward to getting to for ages — and writing characters I love so much. ^_^

3. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

S&S: Given that I didn’t actually know all the details of the big-ending-stuff and how it would happen until I was this close to having to actually write it . . . I’d say yes. It’s been surprising me the entire book because I keep thinking it’s going to be a certain way and then the story veers off completely and leaves me going “OKAY THEN” with my mind blown but really excited about the new direction. It’s just going to make it really hard to rewrite. *cough*

KW2: I’m surprised at how it’s coming together finally because I thought I’d never get to this point. XD But I’m really excited!

4. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

S&S: I LOVE THEM ALL. Rook is definitely my favorite to write (hence why he stole the show and then proceeded to get a sequel), but Princess Tasmania is really fun to write too, and so are her brothers (love themmm!) and street-thief Xasper and sky-pirate Keller (who is also stealing a sequel for himself and earned an AHA epilogue at the end of this one), and even Gerias (young Sean Bean) and Noya who’s kind of intense and I lowkey ship her with Rook. ANYWAY. I love all of them and honestly the entire cast is a blast to write. 😀 I’m already really excited to write more about all of them in the two sequels!

KW2: I obviously lurve all of my characters in this, given that I am nearly done their second book when I was only originally going to write one book! 😉 Tare is definitely my favorite to write, being my favorite ever, but I’m also really enjoying a couple of new, spoilery characters, including one I just met the other day and am absolutely ecstatic about because I’ve been dreaming of meeting this person for AGES.

5. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

S&S: I’m never good at this question! I’d probably be a random crew member on the Star Dreamer? If I had to be a major character I’d be Tasmania but I’d be terrible at being as awesome and brave and no-nonsense as she is, sooo yes, my different actions would consist of sitting in the enormous library at the palace in the sky city, devouring books and scones and tea, instead of doing action and quests, and there would be no story. XD

KW2: Well. I’d like to think I’d be Tare but honestly I’d be no good at that despite our kindred souls, so I’d doubtless be Lavender, and since she’s kind of a timid, cautious kind of person, I’d probably do about what she does… Or maybe I’d be somewhere between her and Marie.

6. Give us the first sentence or paragraph and then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

Probably because I’ve been writing near the end of the books, most of my favorite lines are terrible spoilers so I can’t share them, but let’s give this a go…

S&S opening:

Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley fell through the clouds.

This was not usually a problem. Normally, she could catch hold of ropes hanging from her skyship—and anyway, her personal clockwork dragon was programmed to swoop down and catch her when she fell.

Normally.

Unfortunately, normal didn’t cover it this time.

***

S&S snippets:

“I didn’t even know he had a brother—step-brother,” Tasmania amended quickly before Keller could correct her, “until we ran into you. I thought Gerias was an open book.”

“Oh, he is,” Keller said breezily. “You just weren’t reading the right chapter.”

***

“I don’t know,” Rook stammered, running his fingers through his black hair. “I don’t remember. I don’t even know… That is… Do I know you? And who’s Rook?”

***

The front bell tinkled and Xasper clattered in through the door. “Noya, get going—we’re going to be late,” he said by way of greeting.

You’re going to be late if you order me around—late for what?”


KW2 opening:

Sporadic sleet and a biting December wind conspired to form a day not fit for man or beast. Marie Valerian and her brother Jake, being neither, were of course out in it.

KW2 snippet:

“Are you okay?” Lavender asked automatically.

“Sure. Fine,” Tare said.

“You’re tied to a chair,” Baz pointed out.

“Oh, really? People keep telling me that.”

Lavender skidded to her knees in front of the chair on the concrete and reached for some of the ropes, holding out her other hand. “Baz, give me a knife.”

There was a pause. She looked up to see Baz hovering uncertainly. Lavender dropped her hand and her shoulders slumped a little. “Seriously? I thought all boys have pocket knives.”

Baz coughed. “It’s been awhile since my Boy Scout days. I might have some gum if that helps any . . .”

Tare sighed and kicked his foot a little. “In my right boot.”

7. Have you come across any problem areas?

S&S: Um, how about THE ENTIRE BOOK? *headdesks repeatedly* Honestly, it keeps switching direction and is so full of inconsistencies, due to my continuing writing while acting like I’ve already addressed them, that it would make less than zero percent sense if anyone else were to try to read it right now. 😛

KW2: *sweeps sudden gaping plot holes and entire lack of a plot under the rug* Nothing to see here… *innocent whistling*

8. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

S&S: FINISHING IT! ❤ I’m seriously so, so excited about this, even though it feels like a long ago thing of the past since it was in the first third of NaNo. XD *cough* And a few mind-blowing plot pieces clicking into place. 😉

KW2: Finishing part two, which I feel like I’ve been writing FOREVER and was a huge milestone for me, and getting to meet a certain character… And honestly just getting SO CLOSE to the end of this thing! I still have big ending stuff and wrapup to do, and honestly no clue how to do a lot of that, but it’s still closer than I dreamed of getting on this thing. ^_^

9. Be honest, have you killed any characters off yet?

ER. SPOILERS, HELLO. (I mean, if you know me, you might have a guess… so probably not. *cough*)

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this particular novel has looked like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!

It depends but I usually end up writing in the evenings, and I’ll often see if any friends are online word-sprinting. I really like doing wordsprints even if it’s by myself. For S&S, I’d usually have Stay Till the Daylight by Skillet (Rook’s themesong for the sequel) or Skyworld on repeat while writing, with my earbuds in and a wordsprint timer open in one window, and Scrivener in another.

For KW2, it’s the same layout but I usually listen to Kate Price’s Planxty Amblade-Cruso (the themesong melody for KW2 because it feels wintry and just fits it). OR, lately, I’ve been listening to an assortment of various songs I like on youtube, most noticeably this GORGEOUS version of Rewrite the Stars from The Greatest Showman, done by the Piano Guys, which I had on repeat for forever. ❤

Also, I’ve been wearing my new fingerless gloves when it’s been cold, which I crocheted one week while I was procrastinating writing. 😉

At a write-in — and one of the rare times I had a coffee because peppermiiiint from Starbucks since I had a giftcard to use. Hence this “classic” writer photo. XD


Whew. That’s it from me today — I hope you enjoyed this look within the WIPs and hearing about my NaNo! How are YOU doing, NaNoers or otherwise? If you’re doing NaNo and still need to write, GOOD LUCK TO YOU!!! YOU CAN DO IT! Even if you’re nowhere near hitting 50K, keep writing all the same because it’s still writing! ^_^ Congrats to any fellow NaNo winners — you rock! And also to all you people not doing NaNo: we’re almost done flailing about it and getting back to normal life, promise. XD

One more day, guys!

Thanks for reading and lemme know what you think of the snippets or… anything! 🙂