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! ^_^

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Fantasy Favorites Tag!

G’day, my Roadlings!

It’s the LAST day of February (say what? How did this happen?) so I’m squeezing in at the last second of February Fantasy Month to do this lovely tag that the hostess of this awesome event, Jenelle Schmidt, put together.

No, I’m not late—what gave you that idea?

Ahem. On with the tag, shall we? All of these questions are so hard! O_O

What is your favorite fantasy book?

(I lied. This question is super easy.)

The Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion and Howl’s Moving Castle. I KNOW. SUCH A SHOCK. XD

(Okay, I know that’s not one. But. You know.)

Also, I’m looking forward to reading Howl’s Moving Castle for the sixth time (I think?) next month for March Magics since there’s going to be a readalong for it! 😀

What is your favorite fantasy movie or TV show (or both!)?

At first I couldn’t think of any fantasy TV shows, which shows a definite problem somewhere . . . But I’m going to go with Ren: The Girl with the Mark, which I mentioned before, and if you haven’t checked it out, I totally recommend doing so!

I’m going to be posting about that soon, regarding a possible season 2 (!!) so stay tuned!

For movies:

(I need to see the new How to Train Your Dragon movie! Aaahh!)

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Prince of Persia

And if you haven’t seen Prince of Persia yet — what are you even doing with your life?

Prince Dastan can’t believe you haven’t watched it, either

Who is your favorite fantasy hero/heroine?

I have SO MANY FAVORITE HEROES, I’m not even going to try listing anybody. My mind overwhelmed itself and short-circuited with the sheer amount and left me suddenly unable to recall anybody. I’ll regret it later but I’m going to skip that.

Instead, I’ll just do heroines, since that’s a much shorter list. 😉 Here are some:

  • Mina Klug (The Bright Empires series by Stephen R. Lawhead)
  • Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings) and Luthien Tinuviel (The Silmarillion), both by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Eilonwy (The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander)
  • Ginny (Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal)
  • Cordelia Beaumont (The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz)
  • Echo (Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer)

It takes a LOT to write a heroine I really love and admire. I’m not sure exactly what quality these heroines share but they’re all fabulous! (You can read a post I wrote which in part concerned those first few heroines, if you like.)

Who is your favorite fantasy side-kick?

Uuuurgh. Do you realize how difficult this question is? Do you realize how many amazing fantasy side-kicks there are? This is threatening to short-circuit my brain again.

*panics* *scrambles around* *grabs one name from the swirling mass and tosses it out*

CRISPIN BEASLEY HE’S JUST THE BEST OKAY BYE

*panting*

*thrusts The Beast of Talesend haphazardly in your face*

*hurries on*

Who is your favorite fantasy villain? (the one you most love to hate?)

For some reason all I can think of right now is the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. He’s just . . . really creepy. O_O

(I was tempted to list Carhartan from Orphan’s Song or Rupert de la Mare from Plenilune or the Keeper from Entwined but “most love to hate” might not apply; it’s more like I HAVE FEELINGS WHICH MAY BE HATE I DUNNO. I talk about villains here.)

I . . . don’t want to linger on this question; there’s a sort of chill in the air over here. I’ll just . . . Yeah, I’ll move on.

*sprints hastily to next question and locks door behind self*

What is your favorite fantasy sub-genre?

*breathes sigh of relief* Much safer, cozier, warmer question. 🙂

Fairytale retellings, and steampunk-fantasy or Regency-fantasy! Those are ones I’ve been really into lately, anyway.

I love a good classic epic fantasy, too!

What is your favorite thing about fantasy?

The limitless possibilities and imagination and wonder. There’s just so MUCH that can happen! It also has great potential for my favorite sorts of character types, and of course fantastical creatures and settings! And . . . well . . . everything.

Fantasy is my home, and while I enjoy other genres from time to time (non-speculative fiction, and non-fiction occaaasionally), they just often seem . . . dry. They don’t have the wonder. I enjoy visiting them sometimes but Fantasy is where I live.

It has so much potential. I find I learn truths about life more deeply when I encounter them in fantasy.

Lloyd Alexander said it best.

What is your favorite fantasy realm?

Tolkien’s world, absolutely. I have recently been re-immersing myself in Middle-earth and particularly Beleriand and the other lands of The Silmarillion, reading Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales and The Fall of Gondolin.

I “grew up” there, living and breathing the richness of his world and the far-reaching wonder of the ages of Middle-earth. I had no idea how much I missed it until I went back again and realized it was so natural to slip back into this world. I do need to give The Lord of the Rings a good re-read one of these days soon, but at the moment I’m enjoying going through the older drafts of what later became The Silmarillion and having a blast.

If you need me, I’ll be walking the shores of Valinor or visiting the hidden valley of the city of Gondolin between the mountains; treading under the trees of Doriath with Luthien and Beren or staring at the wide sea from the cliffs of Beleriand; visiting the Shire or the Lonely Mountain or Lothlorien or Minas Tirith; spending a couple of weeks by the fire in Rivendell with the music and the books, the food and the Elves; galloping the vast plains with the Rohirrim; or walking the woods of Ithilien with Faramir. Watch out; I may never come back. 😉

What is your favorite fantasy magic system?

I’m not sure! I don’t always pay that much attention to how the fantasticalness works in the fantasy I read? But I will say that I know I liked Spellsmith and Carver (where it was half like computer coding) and Beggar Magic (the “strains” sort of like music), both by H.L. Burke. And the Song from the Songkeeper Chronicles by Gillian Bronte Adams, and the aether gifts in the Sentinel Trilogy by Jamie Foley, are all coming to mind. So I guess I’ll go with some of those. XD In Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, I ADORED the book-mirrors where you can step into a story, so if that counts . . .

Sell me a fantasy book! Have you written a fantasy book? Give me your best pitch for it! Have you read an exceptionally great fantasy book recently? Convince me to make it my next read!

Wellll. I have written a fantasy book, or several. But they’re not exactly available yet. XD *cough*

My latest is basically a Steampunk-Fantasy Little Mermaid. Except that the Little Mermaid is neither little nor Mer nor a maid — being a cloud-siren prince on a quest to find his father’s killer — and he gets mixed up with Princess Tasmania who is the captain of a skyship. Cloud cities, assassins, tea, love, and clockwork dragons ensue.

So yeah, that’s The Siren and the Skyship, currently in needs-to-be-edited limbo. I’m working on trying to figure out the plot for the sequel right now and it’s giving me headaches.

Maybe I’ll do an update post about how my writing is coming, since I haven’t talked about that or anything on here in awhile . . .

Actual book

In the meantime, how about a book that is actually finished! and published! and awesome!

I wanted to screech about Echo North or The Electrical Menagerie, but since y’all prooobably know by now how much I love those (given all the shrieking I’ve done. XD) and things like Howl’s Moving Castle, I think I’ll give a quick shout-out for a book I haven’t talked as much about for a little while! (But seriously, go check those out if you haven’t!! They make me happy!)

Blood Ties! By Hazel West!

Alternate modern Ireland! Warriors with swords and fast cars! Brothers by blood and by bond with great messy relationships I love! SNARK. Fighting. Epic characters! (I love them ALL! AWK!) Loyalty and goblins and castles and cell phones! (Those are good because they’re all together in one book, not because goblins or cell phones are necessarily inherently good in themselves.)

Did I mention Ireland? Because it’s almost Saint Patrick’s Day so you OBVIOUSLY need something to read for that.

I love it so much and I’ve been missing this series (the sequels are just as good if not better) and wanting book four BADLY. So go read this one if you haven’t. 😀

And look, I’m part of Ciran’s Company! And I have a real BPAFF (Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk) shamrock necklace I won from the author, so if any of you reading this are actually malevolent fae or goblins trying to convince people not to read this book, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Ciran and I are comin’ for you. And the rock band Swords and Shamrocks are going to write a ballad about it. So watch out.

So there you are! I hope you enjoyed this fantasy tag and my answers — do feel free to steal the tag to use on your own blog, even if Fantasy Month is over. Because the time for fantasy is always!

What are some of YOUR fantasy favorites? Let me know in the comments!

New Year Calls: 2019 + Writing Ishness of 2018

Happy New Year, my dearest Roadlings! *throws confetti cleverly shaped like little 2019s*

This is the obligatory new-year post but it’s a little different because it’s two weeks late not all goals and accomplishments and resolutions. (Though there’s some of that.)

New Year calls and I’m terribly tempted to pretend like Bilbo that I’m not at home. XD *cough*

We’re already 2 weeks into 2019 and I haven’t figured out all my writing goals yet and . . . I feel a little stressed about that. The pressure is on when the new year hits to figure out All The Things and set goals etc. And I simply haven’t. (Particularly for my writing, which is slightly awkward because this is a writing-ish blog.)

But you know what? It’s okay.

I don’t have to know all the things I want to do this year RIGHT NOW. I do know the next thing I want to do, and that should be enough for this moment.

And if it isn’t, it ought to be.

(*shoos list-aholic self to sit somewhere in the back row instead of booing in the front one* Ahem. >.>)

I’m sitting here wondering why I’m so stressed and thinking how I should let it go . . . and I just glanced at the writing journal I finished minutes before midnight brought in the New Year and it made me pause and reflect, because I’d totally forgotten about it.

Here’s an excerpt of my quietly-excited New Year’s Eve self, inking dreams for the future:

“. . . that the windings of the road of this writer will bring me to wondrous places and tales of the fantastic and of the heart. I don’t know for sure my goals for 2019. But I hope to meet it with a deep breath and a soul ready for the wild adventure of this road that calls me onward to new horizons of pen and paper and imagination — and the love of worlds to touch our souls and show us the stars. Whatever goals and dreams await, onward — let’s rise to meet them with the dawn beyond the horizon. The stars and the sky of imagination await! Happy New Year and may 2019 be filled with words of wonder!”

As I’ve been stressing out these last few days, I’d totally forgotten I wrote that — I suppose that enchanted hour before the turn of the year was closed in the final pages of the book that was 2018 and I forgot to open it and look at it again until just now.

Granted, it’s a little dramatic (I don’t always write like that in my journals, I promise. XD), and may be harking back to my steampunk WIP world, but it’s the feeling that remains.

That girl sitting in the light of the Christmas tree scribbling her soul down before the new year arrived . . . I want to be her. She was so excited and full of hope, and even though the future was strange and she only had a faint idea of what might come next, she was ready to embrace it and make it beautiful to the best of her abilities.

She wrote those words and then went out and stood in the cold under the stars, and watched fireworks ring in the New Year and talked and laughed, and saw a falling star, and the night was full of magic.

So I don’t know my goals. And that’s all right. I have vague inklings of possibilities and I’ll hopefully pick some of them and goal-ify them at some point . . . but here are a few.

Goal Options

  • I know I want to finish The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2), since I’m still a couple of chapters from finishing. I’m so close that I can taste the final scenes but I haven’t quite dared to sit down and actually go for it. The pressure. (New Year’s Eve me thinks I should just get on and DO it already. In time, in time. Tare will make sure it happens, I don’t doubt . . .)

After that . . . I don’t know, exactly.

  • I should like to do something with The Siren and the Skyship, but I don’t know what its next step is — whether that’s working on rewriting it or carrying on with starting the next book in the series. Decisions, decisions.

  • I will probably end up working on something in Tare’s series after I finish KW2, but there are many options there, so again, I don’t know. (I should probably edit KW2 as well, which is a slightly scary thought. At least editing the new parts to be beta-readable . . . which is more doable.)

  • The Other Half of Everything lurks patiently and occasionally tackles me and makes me write a snippet or part of a chapter here and there. So I might work on it more — it always plays second fiddle to whatever my main project is, so someday I suspect it’s going to work its way into the spotlight of my main focus. We’ll just have to see when that might be.
  • And I have a few short stories I’d like to finish.
  • Plus, there are always other novels lurking, in case I’d like to be kidnapped by one of them, although the three above have been my Big Three for the last while.

So you see, I have plenty of options. I just don’t know, after this one goal (last 2 chapters of KW2), which option is going to pick me. (Because sometimes it feels that way instead of the other way around . . .)

Non-Story Goals

  • I’d like to a.) blog a fair amount, b.) actually do something with the newsletter list I started (*nervous laughter*), and c.) I’d love to go to Realm Makers again if I possibly can. (Which raises another question regarding what I should do before then, with which novels, for what next steps, if anything can happen on time — which is doubtful — and all of that’s a little too terrifying for me to want to think about just yet.)
  • Book reviews and my copyediting business will also continue, hopefully, so I’m excited for that. 🙂

It’s all very well to pretend you’re not home when the Sackville-Bagginses come calling, but who knows if 2019 might not be, instead, a whole bunch of dwarves and a wizard, waiting to take us on an adventure? We might miss out. So I think I’ll answer that door anyhow, even if I don’t know my dreams and goals yet. 😉

Speaking of dreams and goals, here’s a quick run-down of accomplishments of the last year, from my 2018 dreams post, since I’m curious how I did with them!

Dreams from 2018 that came true

  1. Finish a novel (possibly The Siren and the Skyship) — CHECK! This was definitely a highlight, finishing in the midst of NaNo.
  2. Start Instagramming — Done! I’ve already posted over 100 bookish pictures there since starting in July and it’s the. most. fun. thing. ever!
  3. Start a Facebook pageCheck! Though I should definitely get back to posting on it more . . .
  4. Set up my official website — DONE! This was one of the hugest and most exhausting but also rewarding things. I did it all by myself and it was hard but I’m super happy with how it turned out.
  5. Spend more time writing stories/characters I love most — Check! Tare and The Other Half of Everything and The Siren and the Skyship definitely qualify.
  6. Get my freelance proofreading/copyediting business off the ground — Done! I spent a lot of last year editing fabulous stories for Kyle Robert Shultz, mostly. (My new title is The Editor of the Afterverse.) I’m excited for the projects I have lined up to hopefully edit this year. I adore polishing novels and short stories, catching all the typos in my typo-net. ❤ I’m calling it a very successful first year of editing. 🙂
  7. Have a giveaway or two — Done! I love giving away books so I hope to keep doing that.
  8. Go to the Realm Makers 2018 conference — YES! When I wrote that as a “dream” I had no idea it could actually happen, but it did and was the most amazing experience! (A post and another post about it.)

Half Accomplished

  1. Start a newsletter — Check! Ish. I set it up but haven’t really sent one out yet, which is slightly awkward. (But it’s terrifying, okay!) Setting up the list itself is a start. I hope to figure out the grand art of newsletters soon-ish. (And hey, if you sign up for it you get a free flash fiction, and will get to read my first newsletter I send, whenever I do! XD)
  2. Just write (no more perfectionism/not-starting) — Sort of? I’d say 50/50 on this.
  3. Letting myself have writing time — Not really? But at the same time I did write a fair amount. I do need to work on these two more, though.
  4. Develop the Siren and the Skyship sequels — Part of me is tempted to say I accomplished this, given that the two sequels have exploded and changed and switched places and also stolen parts of book one. So they’re more developed, but definitely not enough to actually write. So, again, half.
  5. Be open about writing dreams/thoughts on my blog — I did at times, but I also didn’t blog here nearly as much as I usually do, since I was rather busy living life, so I feel like I didn’t have much of a chance to talk about these things.
  6. Get closer to publishing something — The writing, learning, and network building that I’ve done this past year is definitely getting me closer to this elusive goal, but there’s still nothing definite. So I’m calling this half-accomplished.

Didn’t Do

  1. Finish the short stories I started — Nope. But I nearly finished two novels so I’m okay with this. It just wasn’t their time, apparently. 😛
  2. Figure out what I plan to do about publishing — I’ve learned a lot more in the last year about publishing, both traditional and indie, but I’m still no closer to a decision about what I’m going to do with my own writing.
  3. Write more blog posts — Heheh. Not really. XD
  4. Gather publishing/marketing info as a list of tips — Nope. Would still like to do this someday, maybe?

Well! I’m pretty happy with how many of those dreams I managed to track down and haul into becoming a reality! 🙂

A few other highlights:

Writerly Highlights: 2018

I wrote 103K words in 2018! Which makes me happy. (I usually average around that much but had quite a bit less in 2017 so I’m happy that my slump went away. XD)

This included:

  • 51,600 words of The Siren and the Skyship and finished it at a total of 95K!
  • 42,700 words of KW2 (which is currently at 123K and almost finished. *cough*)
  • 4,000 words of The Other Half of Everything, including finishing the first chapter (even though I have about 18K of the book total; I write out of order . . . it’s complicated.)

Other writing stuff that happened:

  • My 2013 NaNo, Underground Rainbow, decided it’s actually a trilogy and split itself into three parts. (This means the first book is suddenly finished, even though I didn’t write any extra. How beautiful is that?)
  • The two sequels to The Siren and the Skyship exploded and then switched places, so that book 3 is now book 2, and book 2 is now book 3. It broke my brain but I’m excited. I also had major breakthroughs about the Sky Voyages series in general.
  • Tare’s series had a couple of interesting developments regarding side stories.
  • I did some major plotting for The Other Half of Everything.
  • Tare and a KW side character nobody’s met yet, along with the purple-haired painter/artist Kevin Johnson from Undercavern Rainbow, as well as Ivan and Lulin Aurelius from The Other Half of Everything, and a raven-shifter fellow, have all decided that they want an urban fantasy novel mashup with all of them in it, and that they’re going to team up for a magical heist, and EXCUSE ME why did none of you guys tell me your books existed in the same world?? HELLO. O_O (Pushy characters. I tell ya.) Anyway, that happened. It’s called The Portal Heist and I’m super excited. I do, awkwardly, have to finish several other books before I can get to this one, but it gives me something to look forward to. 😉

I also:

  • Won a flash-fiction writing contest
  • Was a finalist in another flash-fiction contest
  • Did Camp NaNo in April and passed my 10-hour goal
  • Participated in (and won) NaNoWriMo in November for the 9th time. I wrote 58,323 words, which is the most I’ve written in a single month, ever.
  • Won the Indie E-con word-war with over 10K words in a week. XD
  • Kept my 9th writing-journal and wrote in it every week
  • I mentioned this, but I expanded my online platform with my new website, Instagram, Facebook and Facebook page, and newsletter.
  • Had many lovely get-togethers with delightful writer friends, including workshops, a writer retreat in a cozy cabin over a weekend, Realm Makers (!!), NaNoWriMo events, and just getting together in small groups and chatting. ❤
  • Ran a local NaNo region for the 6th year
  • Wrote 92 blog posts (across my two blogs), including a guest post about Draft Zero
  • And it’s not exactly writerly, but I went on two major roadtrips this last year (one to Realm Makers, one to visit family) and they were both awesome. We can call that research?

Whew! I had no idea so much awesomeness happened. I’m very glad I decided to write this post after all and found out. XD

I’m going to call 2018 an EXCELLENT year in the writing department, and look forward to the new year.

2019.

*tastes how it sounds*

Let’s make it a good one, shall we?

I’ll leave you with my new bullet journal (bjournal, as I Nordic-ly call it) and my new writing journal — a fabulous steampunk cat!

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! 🙂