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.

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! ^_^

Spring Ishness 2019 (The End, Merlin, & Camp NaNo!)

Oh, hi! I live! *gasps of shock*

In this edition of Ishness (which accidentally became quarterly instead of monthly this time), I:

  • finished writing a book (!!)
  • survived Camp NaNo
  • saw several delightful films (including How to Train Your Dragon 3, Endgame, and BBC’s Merlin)
  • read some lovely books
  • and met some famous people! (Kinda.)
  • Also, lots of pictures at a book fair or two.

Shall we dive in? 😀

March, April, and May Ishnesses, all squished into one! (Yes, the last time I did one was for February. *cough*)

Writing

March: #WIPobsessed

I had mentioned joining in on the #WIPobsessed challenge (which is actually the latest non-review post on here; oh help), but I neglected to report back on the results of that on here. (Whoops!)

I’m excited to say that I completed my challenge of writing three hours in three days — in fact I wrote 4.5 hours/3.5K words — on KW2! It was rather fabulous and I’m so glad I hopped aboard, and grateful to Liv K. Fisher for hosting! It was also good practice for . . .

April: Camp NaNo

I participated in and won Camp NaNo! Huzzah!

I set a 10-hour goal (since I didn’t know how much I had left to write, and thought that I might finish and go on to do plotting for a different book the rest of the month — HAHAHA).

About halfway in, things weren’t looking so well . . .

But I rallied and pulled a 4+ hour day, got over 3K words in, and finished up the climactic ending chapter of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood!

Which just left a wrapup chapter or two, which is how I occupied the rest of the month . . .

I hit my 10-hour goal with about 10K words, with a couple of days to spare, and then I just kept on writing — I wrote nearly 7K over the course of the last two days and SOMETHING REALLY COOL HAPPENED.

I FINISHED KW2!

Sometime in the area of 2:30 a.m. on the night of April 30/May 1st, I finished writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood, which is book 2 in my contemporary fantasy series and a book I’ve been working on for OVER FIVE YEARS.

So. Yeah. That was pretty momentous. 😀

The end is a bit messy, but first drafts, you know. (We just won’t discuss the fact that it’s currently a 145K word monster. *cough*)

So then I stayed up past 3 a.m. because I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited. XD

ANYWAY. It was a lovely end to Camp NaNo, which I ended with 17K words and one completed book. ^_^

May – June: What now?

I may have also started working on a new, smaller Kedran’s Wood story and I’m doing some plotting for another book, so I totally plan to do a WIP update post and talk about my writing projects, soon! Maybe I’ll also share some snippets. 😀

Writing Totals

I wrote just shy of 25,000 words over the course of three months! Which may not sound like much to many prolific writers out there, but I’d been majorly stuck ever since NaNo ended, so it felt amazing to write so much, particularly finishing a story and starting another! (Which are the best things. ;))

Nearly all of that was Kedran’s Wood stuff, which makes me and my character Tare happy. 😀 (I mean, as much as he’s capable of being happy. You didn’t hear it from him. >.>)

I’m basically a happy writer right now!

Life Highlights

In March, for my birthday, I got to go to a homeschool convention where I got the chance to see a talk on C.S. Lewis by Douglas Gresham (and he signed my copy of The Horse and His Boy!). So that was cool, to hear Mr. Gresham give actual personal recollections on Lewis and his life!

The best part of the day was getting to visit with author friends Claire Banschbach, Mollie E. Reeder, and Gillian Bronte Adams and hang out at the Realm Makers Mobile Bookstore run by the inimitable Scott and Becky Minor. It. Was. The. Best!

*pic dump*

Realm Makers Bookstore! They travel to different events, and even have an online store.

Gillian Bronte Adams!

Busy! Friends! Books!

Becky Minor and the beautiful sign she made!

The Wingfeather mini-film is SO CUTE. I need to finish reading the series…

The Rabbit Room was there too!

Can you tell I like chocolate? *cough*

In April, I got to attend two absolutely fabulous talks by author Bryan Davis, about writing and the Hero’s Journey, and hang out with the delightful people of Lorehaven Magazine!

Bryan Davis!

E. Stephen Burnett, Lacy Rhiannon Burnett, and Marian Jacobs at the Lorehaven table!

How about Lacy’s FABULOUS hat? 😉

I got this magazine, featuring Morgan L. Busse (author of Flight of the Raven which I just reviewed)! You can sign up for the e-magazine list at Lorehaven.com for free! They have book reviews and all kinds of speculative fiction awesomeness!

Throw in get-togethers with some other dear writer friends of times past and it’s been a happy few months. ^_^

Between March Magics, Camp NaNo in April, and a social media hiatus in May, during which I stepped back to catch up on some things like review books and my editing job, it’s been quite a time!

Watching

I actually saw four new movies in theaters over the course of three months, and that’s not something I do . . . ever. XD But it was fun!

  • How to Train Your Dragon 3 — IT WAS SO PRECIOUS. The first movie is my favorite animated one of all time, so I was really excited and nervous about this one. It was GORGEOUS and I loved it! Especially Toothless and the Light Fury, and the Hidden World, and the end. So much laughing! So many tears! But I loved it SO, SO MUCH. ❤ (Even if I kind of don’t remember/care about the actual plot part involving a villain or whatever happened. I was just here for the gorgeousness and the epic music and the CHARACTERS like the dragons and Hiccup and Astrid. But I’m that way about a lot of things. XD) TOOTHLESS IS THE BEST. It made me so happy. ^_^
  • Captain Marvel — I’d heard totally conflicting views on this, both that it was awful and that it was the best thing ever. XD So I guess it’s no surprise that it’s simply a fun movie. It’s not my favorite ever, but I quite enjoyed myself watching it, and there were a few really fun moments, particularly with young Nick Fury, and Coulson briefly, and the cat. 😛 (I knew most of the spoilers before seeing it, sadly, but it was still fun.) I liked Captain Marvel herself much more in this one than in Endgame for some reason. Also the villain was neat. And it was really weird having it set in the ’90s. Like. ’80s and ’90s are historical fiction settings now? IT’S SO WEIRD.

  • Endgame — No spoilers, don’t worry! But I actually really enjoyed this one, and aside from a few quibbles (like how one character was treated and a few plot things that I didn’t like or think are stupid), I thought it was super epic. 😀 I ADORED the time-travel and the characters and I laughed a lot and cried a bunch near the end but also less than I thought based on how some people had acted. XD I did see a fair handful of spoilers online before though, so . . . meh.
  • Tolkien — I was actually determined NOT to see this one, on principle, since I was sure Tolkien would hate it. >.> But I caved and went after all. I haven’t actually sorted all my thoughts on it. I think I enjoyed it as a movie, but can’t quite reconcile it to being about my favorite author as a person. I’m a super-huge Tolkien fan and just from that and reading his works, including his letters, I feel like a lot of it just didn’t get him right. I don’t know as much about that time of his life as I could, so I can’t back up all my doubts with fact, and they did stick to the big points in his life that I did know about, but . . . I don’t know. I have really mixed thoughts. I went “really?” a lot, but I did laugh too (the spears moment. XD I really liked the actor who played his younger-younger self), and there were some good moments. Just . . . I don’t feel like it was quite right. Very gorgeous movie, though, and I loved the shadow credits at the end. (Also, for anyone who’s seen it and/or has read The Beast of Talesend: there was a TOTAL Cordelia moment! It was probably out of character but it totally made me think of Cordelia. XD)

I also saw a few other movies and shows, but the highlights were definitely:

  • Christopher Robin — I adored this one! It was the best. ^_^ I mean, it was sort of like Mary Poppins Returns, plot-wise, but better! And so funny too. XD (Also, Mycroft is the villain. XD) I loved Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin, and how Pooh and the others from the Hundred Acre Wood felt and looked a bit more like their real selves from the original books, which I grew up on. It just made me happy. ❤
  • The Incredibles 2 — Yes, I finally saw this one! At last I have seen the Incredibles movies and caught up on the hype. XD But it was so much fun and I had a blast watching it. 😀 I just love them! Especially Dash. XD And baby Jack-Jack and the racoon! *dies laughing*

And for shows . . .

  • Merlin

I at long last started watching BBC’s Merlin! Yes, I know, I’m only a century late on this one. *cough* But since March I plowed through four whole seasons, and since I’ve heard from reliable sources that the final season gets sad, I miiight call it quits there, at least for now.

SO YES. I’ve now seen Merlin and enjoyed it tons! XD It’s not my favorite thing ever, and there were definite missed potential things, but it’s just absolute loads of fun and a total blast! 😀 Merlin and Arthur are so much fun, and Gwaine is the BEST.

Absolute best bit = the donkey ears. XD

Reading

March

March Magics was a bit slower of a reading month than I wanted it to be, but I still found time to read a handful of delightful Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones books!

And there are the rest of my March reads, all quite good. You can read more about all of these in this Book Ishness post!

April

April was a very interesting month of reading, since I read some nonfiction, a bunch of delightful sci-fi short stories, and re-read some old favorites, as well as reading a couple of new-to-me Sleeping Beauty stories. XD You can read more about these in another Book Ishness post.

May

In May, since I was on internet hiatus, I actually focused more on reading than usual, and plowed through the rest of my review books, as well as a couple for-fun reads, and managed to read 8 novels and 2 novellas. IT FELT AMAZING. I haven’t read so much in a very long time and it was a blast! And I caught up on review books (for the moment) which was also a glorious moment. 😀

These were all excellent as well, and you can read more about them here — which is also my 200th post on my book blog!

All in all, I’ve had a very delightful last few months of reading! And I also hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 50 books for the year, so that happened. 😛 (A lot of them are short stories, I promise. XD)

Listening

In audiobook news, I started Cress and then promptly derailed myself on that one by listening to The Electrical Menagerie audiobook, in full, and enjoyed myself to no end! (Read my audiobook review here.)

I’m getting back to Cress this month, though!

I also re-discovered the band Red and have been listening to them ever since. 😀 I hadn’t really paid attention to them back before I started enjoying Christian Rock, but I’m really enjoying their music now! (Some songs are too metal for me, but for the most part = delightful! I may have listened to their calm, melancholy song Hymn for the Missing 876384768 times in the last few months and have zero regrets.)

May Hiatus

I neglected to share about it on this blog (whoops) but I went on a blogging and social media hiatus in May. I pulled back from the internet somewhat and focused on catching up on my editing job, beta-reading, review books, and a few blog posts ahead! It was delightful and so refreshing, as well as productive, so I feel really good about it! (I also felt like I was barely home in May so it’s just as well I didn’t need to be online much. XD)

Now that I’m back, I’m honestly a little overwhelmed but I’m trying to make it through each day. (Doesn’t help that I’m fighting off a cold as I write this.)

June Plans

  • I’m back to blogging! Hurrah! (I know I’ve only been gone for . . . forever. *cough* I’m so sorry! I’ve just been terribly busy!) I have a few posts in the works so I’m hoping to get back on something of a schedule again on both my blogs. I’m so excited!
  • It also happens to be five-ish weeks until the Realm Makers writers conference in July, and just typing that is making me hyperventilate because I’m laughably unready. *nervous laughter* But I’m so excited for it, too! So I’ll be trying to gear up for that!
  • Otherwise, June is looking to shape up to be a busy one (and is somehow already a third finished?) but hopefully will contain lots of books, blogging, editing, and maybe a smidge of writing thrown in if my characters cooperate. 😉
  • Also, I’m trying to post every day on Instagram this month! Just because. XD So check out my account if you like. Aaall the books.
  • I’ll have to work on that writing WIP update post to introduce you guys to my next couple of works in progress!

WHEW. If you read all that, you deserve a medal, or at least a virtual cupcake. *offers you one* How’ve you been? I’ve missed you guys! Let me know what you’ve been up to in a comment — or share your thoughts on any of those movies I mentioned, or whatever strikes your fancy! Thanks for reading. ❤

#WIPobsessed & Middle-earth Day!

G’day, my Roadlings!

Today there are two exciting things going on!

MIDDLE-EARTH DAY

March 25th has been dubbed Middle-earth Day and Tolkien Reading Day, in celebration of the day the Ring was destroyed. (It’s also more or less New Year’s Day due to that, as decreed by Aragorn, so . . . let’s brush up some new New-Year’s-Resolutions, shall we?)

Here’s a huzzah for all things Lord of the Rings and Tolkien!

(I’ll be celebrating by smiling over the two Tolkien books I’ve read so far this year and crying over how I haven’t been keeping up with my History of Middle-earth book-per-month personal challenge. 😛 *cough*)

Anyway, I had to mention because I’ll never not celebrate a Middle-earthean holiday! 😉

CALLING ALL WRITERS

The other thing is actually a three-day-long thing:

#WIPobsessed, an online writers’ retreat hosted by Liv K. Fisher!

It runs March 25-27, and the idea is to pick a goal and work on some writing during these three days, and share your progress and updates with the #WIPobsessed hashtag on whichever social media you prefer!

(Here’s the info on Liv’s Instagram, and on her blog.)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been far too busy all month to do much of anything remotely writing-related and it’s been devastating. So even though Camp NaNo is around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect excuse to push me into at least dipping my toe back into the writing waters. I can make time on three days to write, right?

Since I’m also terribly busy this week, and my saner half (sorry, my saner 3/8ths) says I have no business even thinking about writing, I’m going to set a low but hopefully achievable goal of one hour per day for a total of 3 hours of writing. Maybe that will add up to 3K words. We can hope!

I’m setting a secondary goal, if I pass the first, of finishing writing KW2 during #WIPobsessed (which I calculate, or rather hope, has about 5K left).

So there!

I’m announcing this which means I have to work toward it and at least try to set aside this time, even during an insane week, to do a little writing.

I hereby give myself permission to write for an hour each day for three days. Because that’s the only way writing is going to happen.

(Isn’t it dreadful it has to come to this? XD)

And besides, it’ll be good practice for Camp NaNo starting in exactly one week. 😉 (Please tell me I’m not the only one who is TERRIBLY PLEASED that April is starting on a Monday! XD)

SO WHO’S WITH ME? Why don’t you commit to writing even ten minutes or 100 words per day for the next three days? Join in the glorious swirling of creativity/mutual support!

It’s not like it’s a month-long challenge like NaNo. Just three days. Because every day counts!

I’m not sure how much I’ll be sharing or where, during these three days, but hopefully at least an update or two over on my Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Go forth and join in, and get #WIPobsessed! May the words be ever in your favor!

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!