The Ghost of NaNos Past

The Ghost of NaNos Past

As we approach the NaNoWriMo season (*sound of panicking in the background*), I thought it would be fun to look back at the last six years of NaNos, ever since I started.

It’s amazing how different they’ve all been! Ups and downs… And each year I step deeper down the rabbit trail as it were. 😉

(I did also do 4 Camp NaNo sessions — a 20K goal and three 10K goals, all of which I reached — but for the sake of continuity I’ll be ignoring those this post. 😄 They are, however, little footnotes in my NaNo history, so maybe someday I’ll do a post about them! But 6 + 4 = 10 times I’ve participated in (and won) a NaNo-ish event! *celebration*)

Here are my NaNo experiences . . .

NaNo #1: 2010 — The Chaos Year

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(Since I didn’t join the NaNo site my first year, I don’t have a handy graph from the site of my wordcount, so this one will have to do. Blue bars = where my wordcounts should have been to be on par. White bars = where my wordcounts actually were.)

Twelve Fugitives in the Wild — set in another world, without fantasy elements but with an 18th-century time period. Muskets, carriages, a dark tower, missing persons, and lots and lots of unexpected plot-twists…

Brave new step: Undertaking my first NaNo.

My first year was utterly insane. It was an unofficial NaNo (i.e. I didn’t sign up with the site) and I had no idea what I was getting into. I decided to do it the night before, and pantsed the whole thing, which I had very little experience with… I managed to reach my goal but not without falling dreadfully behind most of the month, and having to do an enormous catch-up day, writing 8,000 words on the last day. It took the entire day and much chocolate and family members pushing me back to the computer every time I wandered away in despair… *cough* But I made the 50,000! I was so happy.

NaNo #2: 2011 — The Perfect Year

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Far-mark’s Dream — to this day, the only novel I actually finished during NaNo. A fantasy adventure story featuring prophecies and salt fairies and bats and a serpent, and three friends (one reluctant; okay, he hates them and opposes everything they stand for, but to be fair he’d been enchanted. *cough*) who set out to defeat the Empire, with much epicness along the way.

Brave new step: Joined the NaNo site and forums.

My second NaNo was a complete dream come true. Learning from my mistakes of the first year, I planned ahead and had the whole novel plotted before day 1, made sure to stay on top of my wordcount, and just had a blast. I hit a few snags through the month, but always came through, and finished two days early… actually finishing the novel itself as well. I still look back at this year as my ultimate NaNo experience. ❤ I loved the book too. I still do… though I’d like to rewrite it a bit and expand some of the things. *nod*

NaNo #3: 2012 — The Overconfident Year

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Grey Betrayal — Book #1 in my several-book Epic Fantasy series, this one features plots and war and mountains, a talking bear, and the adventures of two friends, one of whom has many secrets…

Brave new step: I stepped out of my introvert writer shell and went to write-ins and a victory party at the end!

Oh, this year. I had grown arrogant, I fear… After my insane impromptu first year, followed by one where I took precautions and nearly everything went smoothly, I thought that NaNos were a breeze, apparently, as long as you planned for them. Alas, I was wrong! I didn’t realize that my second year had been the best and easiest NaNo I’d ever have the pleasure of being a part of. I started out pretty well on this third year, especially thanks to the numerous rambling thoughts of my main character, which gave me lots of words (thanks, Faron). But then I hit a snag a third of the way through called running-out-of-plot. I had neglected to plot further, and the rest of the month was a serious struggle. I pushed through at the end, but emerged a humbled NaNoer, realizing my good fortune of the previous year for what it was.

NaNo #4: 2013 — The Leading Year

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Underground Rainbow — contemporary fantasy featuring a young photographer and his adventures with various fantastical creatures: gnomes, griffins, leprechauns, and the like.

Brave new step: I stepped into a co-leadership role as a NaNoWriMo ML for my region. (Municipal Liaison: volunteer event organizer/local leader.)

This year started out all right, and then life crashed around me. It was my first year as an ML and that took up a lot of my time and creative juices, plus I was kind of in a writing slump, so that took its toll. This year is actually kind of hazy in my memory… But the story was a lot of fun, despite that, and I did make it in the end. Not to mention the wonderful camaraderie of my region this year, which was fantastic. ^_^

NaNo #5: 2014 — The Roadtrip Year

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Heartseeker — original fairytale YA fantasy romance type thing, featuring the princess who goes on a quest to find the heart of her betrothed.

Brave new step: Well, it wasn’t very brave, exactly, since I had no choice, but it was definitely crazy. I managed to do NaNo while being on a roadtrip most of the month AND ML-ing at the same time. It. was. insane. But I’m also very proud of me for surviving and doing okay. 😄

Although it was arguably my most difficult year, due to a roadtrip in the middle on top of life and ML-ing, this is also one of my favorite NaNos, looking back at it. I’d say this and the Far-mark year were the best. Writing in the car was a new challenge, and one I only survived due to helpfully-pestering family members, and the kindness of my co-ML lending me a power adapter so I could use my laptop in the car and some rewarding letters from her characters which I could only open at certain points. I also was thankful for being snowed in at my uncle’s house for a couple of days, which allowed me to catch up in the middle of the trip. I finished off this NaNo with a spectacular write-in at a library late at night, which is my favorite NaNo memory. ❤ I can’t believe I survived it, and I definitely wouldn’t have without the support of wonderful friends and family, but it was a challenge and, despite the stress, was a blast as well.

NaNo #6: 2015 — The Rebel Year

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  • The Silver Forest — retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses
  • The Rose and the Raven — novella retelling of Sleeping Beauty
  • The Secret of Kedran’s Wood — book #2 in my modern-fantasy series starring Tare and the Chess Club

Brave new step: Turning rebel (not so much brave as insane) and actually working on THREE different stories during NaNo in order to hit my 50K goal, instead of just one like the “rules” (made to be broken. ;)) state and like I’d done every year.

I did all right with my 12 Dancing Princesses story until exactly halfway through the month when it decided to inform me that I’d gotten the whole beginning wrong and would have to scrap everything I’d written and completely restart the novel. Um. It was going to be so much awesomer with the new twists that had emerged, but SERIOUSLY?? IN THE MIDDLE OF NANO?? What kind of bad timing was this? (Answer: it was the best of times; it was the worst of times . . . You can read the story of my Mid-NaNo-Crisis here.) I ended up abandoning it for the time being and instead taking the opportunity to work on my novella for the Rooglewood contest, with bits of KW2 to help whenever the painstaking shortness of the novella got too much. I survived this one too (despite a nasty cold near the end and running out of plot a couple times) but wow, it was definitely a new challenge! Writing more than one story in a month is super hard, because you have to get into the right mindframe for each of them, and switching between them is difficult. But it turned out okay, so huzzah!

NaNo #7: 2016 — ???

Story to write this year: To Be Announced…

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Brave new step: I’m going to be ML-ing this  year totally on my own. In my previous three years as an ML, I’ve had wonderful co-MLs and helpers with whom I’ve shared the burden. I’m all alone this year and just hoping I’ll be able to do it without those wonderful people having my back. Wish me luck, because this is scary. 😄

Obviously, this year’s NaNo adventure is a mystery yet to be discovered (unless you happen to be a time-traveler, which I, unfortunately, am not…). What will happen this year? I’m as curious as you are!

Stay tuned for next week’s post which will (hopefully) be all about what I hope to work on this NaNo! (No promises, of course; NaNo projects are notoriously slippery beasts.)

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So there you have my past NaNo exploits! What about yourselves, my roadlings? Have you done NaNo? How many? What were your best (and worst) NaNos? Tell me aaall in the comments!

My Misguided Fairy Godmother Muse

Once upon a time, there was a girl who started writing stories.

She spent several years scribbling away at them, going back and forth between a few different ideas and consequently not making much progress on them.

Then something strange began to happen. She began to have even more and more ideas for even more stories! What could this mean?

But, cheerily, she continued writing, and making notes for all the new ideas. She became obsessed with making lists of the stories, and developing titles for them, and designing mock covers for them, and writing out summaries of what they were about. She began to be more excited about “playing” with the stories than actually writing them.

Time went on. The list of stories continued to grow and grow and grow! But far from complaining, the writer was delighted.

She did so enjoy making those lists and writing those notes, you see.

Somewhere along the way, she began to notice patterns. Whenever she would take a break from working on her writings, whether on purpose to recharge, or accidentally due to busyness, she would suddenly get hit with all this inspiration — and, more often than not, that inspiration might include ideas for new stories.

Then the year of 2015 hit. The ideas were flying in left and write right. It began to get insane. The writer began to despair of ever getting around to writing all of the things, especially at the snail-like pace the actual writing was happening.

So the writer stepped back and analyzed this phenomenon.

That was when the writer discovered the presence of her fairy godmother.

Most writers talk of their “Muse”.

(very helpful…)

This writer realized that instead of a muse, she had a benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of inspiration. (Perhaps rather like Ophelia from Broken Glass by Emma Clifton…)

The writer realized that the fairy godmother muse freaks out whenever the writer is not making Story, knowing that the writer is happier when making Story. So the fairy godmother, thinking the writer is just tired of the old stories, quickly throws a bunch of new ideas at the writer to get her attention.

If you haven’t figured out by now, this writer is me. And this benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of my writerly brain/inspiration/muse is the cause of both my excitedness about having so many story ideas to write, and my despair over ever finishing anything, let alone all of them.

My fairy godmother muse, especially this year, is constantly going:

“STORY. STORY! YOU’RE NOT MAKING STORY. YOU’LL BE HAPPIER WITH SOME STORY. MAKE STORY!”

And hands me more and more storyness, shoving it into my brain and then beaming and watching happily as I flail around like a headless octopus and try to work on ALL OF THE STORY THINGS.

Unfortunately, my fairy godmother muse doesn’t seem to care if I’m actually making PROGRESS on said stories, i.e., actually writing them down…

As long as I’m flailing around doing plotting or brainstorming or making lists, she feels confident that she has been doing her job well and fulfilling her role in keeping her writer happy playing with stories.

To give you an idea of the insanity that’s underway, I’m going to share a list of the story ideas that have “clicked” this year ALONE.

The main ones are:

  • The Other Half of Everything (I think I’ve mentioned this enough…)
  • Darkling Reflections (Finished this one! Huzzah! …Yes, it’s a short story; I can still be proud.)
  • The Siren and the Skyship (swashbuckling sky adventuresome gender-swapped steampunk Little Mermaid retelling)

Five more stories in the Kedran’s Wood series (bringing it to a total of 8… so far; last year it was supposed to be a “trilogy”. Haha. Isn’t that just ADORABLE?)

  • Son of Kedran’s Wood – prequel novella
  • Return to McAllistair Mansion – short story (I wrote this one! I’s so proud of me.)
  • Mixup at Kedran’s Wood – novella between books 2 & 3
  • The Novelist of Kedran’s Wood – novel set after book 3, a double story
  • Celebrations at Kedran’s Wood – short story set after all of the planned books (thus far… *cough*)

As well as:

  • A modern Cinderella retelling about a writer, set during NaNoWriMo
  • An untitled fairy-tale mashup conglomeration retelling (RETELL ALL OF THE THINGS)
  • An untitled thing I’m currently calling “The Epic Book” which is vague but has some awesome ideas swirling
  • An extremely vague notion of an idea for a con/heist story that would be a companion to Underground Rainbow, starring the eccentric purple-haired artist (no, unfortunately this has no plot yet and I probably will never be able to make it work)
  • An idea for a nonfiction book about various things

And I also “made official” i.e. added to my lists because I had had ideas about them but was pretending they didn’t exist:

  • The tenth Starrellian Saga book
  • A sequel/companion novel to Heartseeker about the Bard and Trillum
  • An untitled Arthurian retelling which is going to be super cool

Not to mention my Sleeping Beauty novella The Rose and the Raven, which had been a vague idea for years but only just this year finally came together as something I could write… (But, again, having trouble CONTINUING… ya know?)

Yes. That is 16 (or 17 if you count The Rose and the Raven) stories, either from ideas from this year or “officialized” by listing them as stories to write. THAT’S JUST THIS YEAR ALONE. That’s not even thinking about the 30+ other stories from BEFORE the notorious 2015-when-all-the-stories-exploded-in-plotbunnies-and-said-write-us-or-we’ll-kill you. Sometimes I scroll through my list of 50ish stories and just go… “HOW EVEN.”

Sixteen new stories this year, guys. (So far…)

Can you see how insane this is getting?

Apparently there’s just no dealing with a benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of inspiration.

(And no, I don’t actually know whether you should be very happy for me or PLAYING A DIRGE.

It’s very confusing and I honestly can’t tell anymore.

Blame it on my fairy godmother.)

Blogoversary Shenanigans

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I want to thank each and every one of you, blog readers and commenters, for coming with me thus far on my writing journey and reading my li’l ol’ scribbles on this here blog, as The Road of a Writer turns 2 years old today.

Thank you so much.

I love you guys to Starrellia and back.

Here’s a bit of a (longish…) scribble in celebration. Enjoy! 🙂


Blogoversary Shenanigans

The sun rises slowly and shines its warm pleasant golden beams past the trees circling a green forest glade. It is empty. All is still save for a quiet twitter of birdsong and the rustle of the leafy branches swaying gently in a soft breeze.

A black raven flies into the glade, and alights soundlessly on a large grey rock near the center. It ruffles its wings into place, cocking its head this way and that to survey the area as it settles on the rock. Then there is a blur and it morphs into a black-haired woman with a black cloak and a dress with a pattern of roses, sitting on the rock.

She is still looking about as she was when she was a raven, and a moment later she nods and stands up with a little smile.

“Yes. I think this will do nicely.”

Immediately, an ageless looking man with gold-tinged light hair that curls about his ears, and a gold harp in one arm, appears in the glade. He does not appear surprised, merely curious, as his golden eyes survey the dark-haired woman. Then he smiles very slightly and sits down on a nearby stump. He begins to softly pick out a melody on his harp, the golden notes filling the glade.

At that moment, there is a sudden bump and two more figures appear.

“. . . I just don’t see why on earth you should be acting like — Oh!” The eighteen year old girl in jeans and an assortment of either fashionable or extremely slipshod shirts and layers, with brown eyes and dark brown hair, breaks off in the middle of her sentence from talking to her companion, to look around the glade in a startled manner.

Her companion, however, a young man of twenty-something with sandy-ish fair hair, a pencil behind one ear and a pen in one hand, with a rather large notebook in the other hand, does not seem to have noticed either the girl’s talking or the glade he is suddenly in. He just goes on scribbling where he sits on the grass.

“Teague!” the girl half shrieks, half whispers, prodding him in the ribs with the toe of her red converse sneaker. “Pay attention! What on earth just happened?”

“Mm…?” Teague says distractedly, and finally looks up. His uncertainly-colored eyes rove about. “Oh.” He pauses a moment, looking absentminded. “I thought we were in my house,” he adds mildly, going back to his scribbling.

“We were.”

“Hmm. We seem to be somewhere else now. How did we get here, exactly?”

“How should I know? But I suggest you figure it out pretty quick. Your dinner’s going to burn,” she adds, folding her arms.

“Don’t get so excited, Meridian,” Teague says mildly. “My dinner usually burns.”

“Not when I’m there to look after it.”

“Well, you’re not.”

“That’s entirely the point!” Meridian howls in exasperation. “Look, stop scribbling and do something about it!”

His pen continues scratching. “I don’t get any pleases around here, do I?” he says resignedly.

“We don’t even know where ‘here’ is,” Meridian says pointedly. “But okay. Please.”

Teague sighs and stops writing. He looks around again. Then he gets unconcernedly to his feet, looking absentminded again, like he’s forgotten the entire conversation already. He wanders toward the bard, a trail of yellow sticky-notes detaching themselves from his notebook pages to flutter quietly toward the ground behind him. Meridian grimaces, but begins picking them up from the grass as she trails in his wake.

“You there: harper,” Teague calls.

The golden-eyed bard looks up, his fingers still moving on the strings.

“Any idea how we got here? Or . . . where here is, for that matter. That would be extremely helpful,” Teague says.

The bard nods toward the black-haired lady by the rock. “You might ask her. She was here at the start.”

“Mm.” Teague wanders toward her. Meridian sends a quick “Thank you, by the way,” that Teague had forgotten, in the bard’s general direction; he smiles.

“Good morning,” the black haired lady says pleasantly.

“Is it,” Teague says vaguely. “Incidentally, I don’t suppose you’d care to tell us why we’re here, would you? I’m not particularly caring about it myself, but Meridian will carry on and keep me from writing until I find out for her,” he adds with a certain stare over his shoulder at his follower.

Meridian wrinkles her nose at him and says, “Teague.

“I wouldn’t mind at all,” the black haired lady says, smiling widely. “In fact, I’ve called you two and the others here –”

“Others?” Teague says, raising a quizzical eyebrow.

“They don’t seem to have all shown up yet. How annoying.” The black haired lady looks questingly around the glade. “Ah. Here they are.”

The forest glade is suddenly full of several other people, scattered randomly about in small groups, save for the nearest person, who is alone. He wears a long black leather jacket, has black hair, and glances sharply around with narrowed eyes, looking tense and ready to fight off anyone who so much as steps in his direction.

“Tare, would you mind awfully — ?” a voice is saying, but breaks off and turns into a yelp.

“Yes, I would,” the young man in the leather jacket growls at the teen boy, in jeans and blue t-shirt with tousled brown hair, who had yelped.

He changes his tactic and his plan. “Where are we?”

Tare’s black eyebrows draw together, his dark blue eyes scanning everyone in the glade. “I’m working on figuring that out. Quiet.”

“You don’t look like you’re working very hard,” the other remarks, tucking his hands in his jeans pockets.

“I said quiet,” Tare repeats, his glance making its way warily over the nearby observing faces of Teague and Meridian and the black-haired lady.

“Alright, alright, I’ll be quiet. I can be quiet. Bazzes are very good at being quiet when they need to be, especially this Baz –”

The freezing dark blue eyes turn to look him in the face. “I said — ”

“Right.” Baz clams up very quickly.

A short way off, a very tall young man in his twenties, with a shaggy mane of rusty-brown hair, clad in a sleeveless brown leather jerkin and brown pants, wields a long double-ended crystal spear in his hands, looking warily about like a trapped beast. If the leather jacket fellow looked ready to fight off anyone who steps toward him, this one looks ready to instantly kill anyone who so much as breathes in his direction. His jewel-green eyes dart quickly all around the glade. A harassed-looking boy in a cloak and a once-fine travel-stained blue embroidered tunic looks nervously around, standing just behind the spear-holder, and beside them is a dark-haired princely-looking fellow, who looks like he’s resenting something. Or possibly everything.

A young man with shockingly purple hair runs languidly by, clearly neither knowing, nor caring in the least, what is going on around him. He is apparently in pursuit of two very small men in dusky brown jackets (one in an Irish-looking cap) who seem to be carrying paintbrushes far too large for them. The little men are much too quick for the purple-haired fellow.

Two small, scruffy baby griffins prance awkwardly by at dangerous speeds, flailing feather-down-kitten-fluff tails and wings. They make chaos and get underfoot everywhere, snapping and biting at ankles merrily, and frolicking about with a small fluffy white puppy who is yapping with apparent ecstatic joy and panting with a little puppy grin, his pink tongue hanging out.

“What are we supposed to DO?” wails a flustered-looking lad of seventeen, with ordinary brown hair, looking for help from a younger lad with silver hair and sharp grey eyes and a blank expression, who is leaning unconcernedly against a tree, absently fingering a gold ring.

“Calm down, Faron,” a deep voice rumbles, as an enormous black bear saunters by, pats the brown-haired boy briefly on the shoulder — in a comforting gesture that nearly knocks him over — and commences efficiently and effortlessly taking charge of the small fluffy mischievous things.

“How can I be calm when –” Faron splutters, apparently lacking further words to continue.

Several other people mill about around the edges of the glade, and between yapping, screeching purrs, harp music, and miscellaneous chatter and wailing, the place has become quite lively in the space of a short time.

“Oh. Those others,” Teague says, unconcernedly.

Meridian sighs and hands him his dropped sticky notes, neatly stacked, which he takes with mild surprise and tucks into the notebook under his arm.

“May I have everyone’s attention?” the black-haired woman calls loudly.

Most eyes turn to her (the painter, leprechauns, griffins and puppy don’t seem to notice), and there is a slight quieting down so that only a few murmurs and the soft trill of the harp continue.

“Now, perhaps you’re wondering why I’ve gathered you here on this auspicious day –”

“Then be quick about it and tell us so that we can be on our way,” the spear-holder growls.

“Shut your mouth, outlaw,” says the dark-haired resentful-looking princely young man behind him. “Let the lady speak.”

“Don’t you tell me what to do — ” the outlaw spits through his teeth.

“Calm down, both of you,” the harassed boy says hastily.

“Just because you’re princes doesn’t mean you can — ” the outlaw begins.

A loud thrum of harp music pauses everyone’s voices. “Quiet for the lady.” The golden-eyed bard speaks seemingly quietly, but the strength of his voice carries through the glade with authority.

“Thank you,” she says. “Now. I have called you all here today because it is a special day and I thought we should consult together for an appropriately celebratory . . . well . . . celebration.”

“Which is?” Meridian prompts.

“It has been two years since the author began a certain endeavor . . .”

“Is this about the blogoversary and throwing a surprise party for her?” Baz speaks up, suddenly.

There is a pause, all eyes turned on him.

“Which . . . I know nothing about, of course,” he adds quickly.

“Yes, I believe the ‘blogoversary’ is what it was called,” the black-haired lady says. “Two years is a long time . . . for some” — here she smiles distantly with what might be mischief in her eye — “and I thought it would be considerate of us to congratulate the author in some way.”

“The author . . .” Tare says, fixing her with a hard stare. “She’s not even writing you yet.”

“Yet. I have my ways.” She smiles.

Tare snorts. He folds his arms and eyes her warily. “Who exactly are you, anyway, and why do you think you’re in charge here?”

“I’m Ev, of course; I’m a fairy and — oh, I forgot my own,” she adds suddenly, and that instant beside her, standing by the rock, appears a young man in a royal purple tunic with a golden coronet, and a young woman with a silver circlet in her dark hair. They appear to be kissing, and break off just then, looking around in confusion.

“What — ?” the prince begins, looking around at the assembled gathering and gently pushing his lady behind him in a protective gesture, a hand going to rest lightly but unapologetically against his sword-hilt as he turns a calculating eye on everyone.

“Prince Derrick, Princess Brier-Rose . . .” The raven fairy Ev quickly fills them in on why they are gathered. “So,” she finishes, “I am only asking what you all think we should do to surprise the author in celebration for this day that she finds so special. Suggestions?”

Princess Brier-Rose smiles. “I think it’s a lovely idea.” She pulls a long-stemmed scarlet thorny rose from behind her back and holds it up. “We could give her roses,” she adds softly.

Prince Derrick deftly takes the rose from her. “Don’t touch that, Brie,” he says, kissing her forehead. “You’ll hurt yourself.”

She frowns. “I like roses, and I don’t see why they’re forbidde –”

“Cake!” Baz exclaims. He gets another round of stares. “Cake,” he explains firmly, grinning widely and obviously enjoying the attention, “is absolutely the only way to celebrate any celebratory celebrations whatsoever. Which would include blogoversaries.”

The bard is seen to smile in the background.

“Well, not that I know anything,” Faron speaks up from the edge of the crowd, still looking flustered — it looks as though he had been continually prodded by the silver-haired boy, who looks innocent of all such doings as if he has merely been quietly observing the bark on the branch above him. “But I should think that a proper royal feast would fit the occasion.”

“How about we leave her alone,” the outlaw growls.

“Nonsense, all of you,” says an imperial voice from somewhere above everyone’s heads. Several people look up. A great airship is hovering above the glade, and standing on the bottom rung of a long slightly-swinging rope-ladder, unconcernedly holding the side with one hand, is a young woman with truly impressive fiery red hair in gorgeous but haphazard curls about her pretty face. “A ride in my skyship should do. Scurry off, everyone. Unless you’d all like to be invited along too, which… could perhaps be arranged. I think you’d fit. As long as everyone behaves in a shipshape fashion, of course.”

“They won’t. I don’t like their looks. Don’t let them up,” calls a voice from above.

“You’re one to talk,” the redhead says, tossing her hair out of her face as an errant breeze tries to blind her with it.

“And who are you, exactly?” Ev calls up. “I’m not certain we have met before.”

The girl on the rope-ladder smiles with cheerful charm, mixed with royal elegance, and touches her brow in a sort of salute. “Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley, Captain of the HRSS Star-Dreamer, at your service.”

“That won’t do. I believe the author is afraid of heights,” calls a random sandy-haired youth in a cloak with a sword, who is standing among a collection of others.

“Not at all — it’s only you that is,” retorts one of his companions, a sea-blown looking young fellow with a young lady at either shoulder.

A new rush of voices begins as almost everyone begins to give suggestions or argue about them.

Tare shakes his head, muttering. “This is ridiculous. I’m out of here.” He strides toward the edge of the glade, ignoring everyone, but when he reaches the border, he finds himself suddenly back where he had been standing near Teague and Meridian and Ev and the rock. “Hey –”

Ev finds herself the recipient of the icy dark-blue stare, but instead of doing anything about it, only climbs up onto the rock so she can see everyone better.

The outlaw looks as though he had been going to try to leave as Tare had, but seeing the results of it, he makes a surly face, sticks one end of his double-ended spear in the ground, and leans against a tree, apparently waiting it out.

At this point, there is a rather interesting disturbance at one side of the glade. A whole cluster of young ladies come through the trees and into the clearing, talking animatedly among themselves. There are twelve of them, they appear from their circlets to be princesses, and they are each wearing a different colored dress: grey, black, purple, blue, green, blue-green, red, reddish-brown, white, yellow, pink, and light orange. The grey one is leading the way, looking about alertly while engaged in some sort of argument with the one in blue-green. The green one seems to be complaining about a horse, or perhaps the lack of it, while the blue one is soothing her and simultaneously trying to keep track of the pink and the orange. The red and the brown, who have the same face and appear to be twins, are laughing, and the yellow one is somehow reading a book while walking. The one in black and the one in white are at the back, silent; the black, a withdrawn silent; the white, a shy one.

“Good afternoon,” the princess in silvery-grey says to Ev as they approach. “We seem to have lost our way; or at least to have found a very curious gathering.”

“Indeed,” the golden-eyed bard speaks up pleasantly, still playing a quiet melody that weaves through the sunbeams.

“And I have certainly not met the rest of you, either,” Ev says curiously. “Who might you be?”

“We are the daughters of King Fergal,” the blue princess says. “Or . . . most of us are,” she adds with a glance at the silver princess.

“And it’s quite obviously not doing us a bit of good, because we’re bloody lost,” the green princess says, folding her arms.

I don’t care,” the peach princess says carelessly, her eyes sparkling. “It’s far more interesting to be lost.”

“And the author is definitely not writing them yet,” Tare mutters. “Not till November. She promised.”

“Jealous, much?” Baz says comfortably from behind him.

“Actually . . . no, I’m not. And you said you were going to be quiet.”

Meridian is frowning, staring around with her hands on her hips. “Well, one thing’s for certain,” she says. “There are far too many princesses around.”

The outlaw glowers. “More like far too many princes.” His resentful prince looks ready to go at his throat, but the harassed one makes peace by stepping between them (a dangerous move, but he seems to live despite it). Prince Derrick stands by politely and does not appear offended.

I think,” Teague says mildly, “that there are far too many people of any kind around.”

“That’s the first sensible thing I’ve heard all morning,” Tare says with an annoyed sigh. “Nothing’s going to get done, and we’re never going to get out of here.” He looks toward Ev with a left-over glare. “Can’t you — ”

But at this point a rather severe, tragic looking young man — or fairy? (He does seem to have the semblance of silver wings growing out of his black cloak.) — with long black hair and silver eyes, arrives and severely addresses the twelve princesses. “There you are. I told you not to stray off the path. Come.” And, with several severe glances at some of the others, particularly Tare and the outlaw, he escorts the twelve princesses to the edge of the clearing . . . and out of it.

Which means that they at least could get away.

Tare looks put upon, and the outlaw looks angry.

Princess Tasmania, still swinging idly on the end of her rope ladder above everyone’s heads, is looking vaguely bored.

But most everyone else is still talking at the same time and there is a general buzz of noise, mostly arguments, that makes it quite impossible for anyone to really accomplish anything.

“For the love of Faerie, be quiet at once before I decide to put you all to sleep just to save a headache!”

This startling announcement is made at the top of her lungs by Ev the raven fairy, who is standing on top of the rock at the glade’s center. There is a sudden silence. Everyone looks at her. Until now she had been the picture of amiability, but now there is definitely some anger to her, and her black hair seems to have been fading into a shade of red.

“Now then. Can we possibly stop quibbling and come to an agreed-upon mode of celebration?” Ev glares around, hands on hips, the red color crawling further up her hair. “Everyone, make one suggestion each, and then we’ll vote.”

She unfortunately had not specified who was to give suggestions first, for everyone begins talking at the same time again. But before Ev or the bard or anyone else can restore order, there is a sudden voice from another direction altogether.

“Guys! What . . . in the world . . . is going on here?!”

There is a sudden, deathly stillness. Then everyone turns to look.

A girl with long brown hair, in a green t-shirt and brown skirt, with a notebook embellished with clock-faces in one hand, and a black pen held limply in the other, is standing at the side of the glade and staring in utter confuzzlement at everyone.

The bard ceases his playing and comes smoothly to his feet, his golden harp in the crook of one arm. He makes a minor bow in the direction of the newcomer, a smile playing in his golden eyes. “Author. We did not expect you so soon. The Lady Ev here has been . . . Well . . . She had plans.”

“What are you doing all together — what happened — is everyone all right?” the author asks, darting frantic looks at everyone. “Has anybody killed anyone? You do not mix well! Tare, get away from Bithoa — now.”

“I wasn’t doing anything,” Tare says with a frown of perplexity, not moving. The outlaw narrows his jewel-green eyes but otherwise makes no move. They are several feet away from each other, but this does not seem to do anything to soothe the author’s worries.

Ev slides down the rock and smiles. “We’re fine. I only thought it would be nice to call everyone together. We were going to . . . surprise you.” Her face falls. “Unfortunately, we seem not to have come up with a surprise yet.”

“For what?” The author looks very confused.

Tare sighs and folds his arms. “Your blogoversary. Obviously.”

“Yes, we were going to give you a surprise celebration,” Baz cuts in. “I suggested cake, but nobody’s listening.”

Others begin to put in what they had thought of, particularly Princess Tasmania.

The author begins to laugh and stops everyone. “Well, you needn’t think any further,” she says. “I’m glad everyone’s okay — I was worried there for a second. There’s a reason you’re not all in the same story, you know. And a reason you don’t ever gather together, besides. But if you were looking for a special way for me to celebrate my blogoversary . . . you’ve already done it. Thank you, guys.” She smiles happily.

Several of them smile back — though some, like Tare, the outlaw, the silver-haired boy, and the still-oblivious purple-haired young man, do not seem to do smiling much in these or any circumstances.

“Well, I’m off,” Princess Tasmania is saying from above everyone’s heads. “You’re sure you don’t want a ride, author?”

“Sometime, thanks,” the author calls back. “I’m just busy for now, with . . . other things.”

“As you please,” Princess Tasmania says cheerfully, shimmying up the rope ladder in a twinkling. “I’ll give the rest of the crew your greetings.” She waves a hand back down. The author waves back with a wistful look.

“If that’s all cleared up,” Teague says, “I suppose you can go back to writing. And so can I,” he adds with a pointed look at Meridian, who picks up another dropped sticky-note and sticks it firmly on the notebook he is holding, giving him a raised-eyebrow-look.

The author laughs. “Fine. And . . . Ev. I loved seeing you all together for a minute, and there weren’t any casualties, but don’t go making a mess like this again.”

Ev laughs too. Her hair is quite black again. “I was only trying –”

“I know, I know,” the author says. “But please don’t. Now, everyone back to where you belong. Before somebody kills anyone,” she adds under her breath.

“I shouldn’t worry about that,” Ev says, tilting her head curiously to one side.

The crowd breaks up and people (and griffins, dog, bear, leprechauns, etc.) begin to disappear or wander out of the glade, which they now seem able to leave.

“Where did Baz go?” the author asks suddenly.

Tare had been striding off to leave, but pauses and looks sharply around.

“You may want to look up,” the golden-eyed bard remarks casually as he strides by, harp under one arm, on his way out of the glade.

The author and Tare both turn their gazes skyward. Baz is just disappearing inside the skyship, waving cheekily down at them. “I’m going to explore the clouds and be fabulous!” he crows when he catches their eyes.

“I’m gonna kill him,” Tare says through his teeth, making a lunge and catching the bottom of the rope ladder. Baz yelps and disappears inside as Tare quickly climbs upward.

The author sighs, about to go after them and prevent violence, but first gives Ev a pointed look. “You see?”

Ev’s laugh turns into a sound of ruffling feathers as she is once more a sleek black raven. She spreads her wings and flies off in the other direction from the skyship (with the dangling rope-ladder and its climbers), leaving below an empty forest glade full of golden sunbeams and no sound save the quiet twitter of birdsong and the rustle of the leafy branches swaying gently in a soft breeze.

Starring, As Themselves (In Order of Appearance):

Ev (The Rose and the Raven)
Bard Reldin (Heartseeker)
Meridian Brownley (The Other Half of Everything)
Teague Aurelius (The Other Half of Everything)
Tarragon “Tare” (Kedran’s Wood Series)
Basil “Baz” (Kedran’s Wood Series)
Kevin Johnson (Underground Rainbow)
Donal and Liam (Underground Rainbow)
Troggsie and Scottle (Underground Rainbow)
Small Occasion (Kedran’s Wood Series)
Faron (Starrellian Saga)
Ryan (Starrellian Saga)
Darksky (Starrellian Saga)
Bithoa (Starrellian Saga)
Prince David (Starrellian Saga)
Prince Donavin (Starrellian Saga)
Prince Derrick (The Rose and the Raven)
Princess Brier-Rose “Brie” (The Rose and the Raven)
Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley (The Siren and the Skyship)
Andrew (Starrellian Saga)
Liam (Starrellian Saga)
Laura (Starrellian Saga)
Marigold (Starrellian Saga)
Princess Silver (The Silver Forest)
Princess Ebony (The Silver Forest)
Princess Amethyst (The Silver Forest)
Princess Sapphire (The Silver Forest)
Princess Turquoise (The Silver Forest)
Princess Emerald (The Silver Forest)
Princess Auburn (The Silver Forest)
Princess Ruby (The Silver Forest)
Princess Ivory (The Silver Forest)
Princess Goldie (The Silver Forest)
Princess Rosie (The Silver Forest)
Princess Peach (The Silver Forest)
Prince Taghdach (The Silver Forest)

With Special Guest Star:

Deborah O’Carroll as ‘The Author’

Written on location at the forest glade.

No characters were harmed in the writing of this crossover.
(Baz came close, though.)
(And Tare and Bithoa within seeing distance of each other were murders waiting to happen.)

Story Snippets & Pictures

I haven’t officially said anything about my Camp NaNo since July ended, so I’m here to do just that. Yes, I won! *there is a sound of trumpets and a rain of confetti*

wincamp2014july

I worked on three different stories and passed my widdle-bitty 10k goal for a grand total of 11,177 words. ‘Twas a good month, and although to some it may not sound like much, I’m still quite pleased with the chapters I got written.

Which brings me to the main point of this post: Snippets! Today you get some tidbits from each of the stories I was working on in July.

Oh, and the other point of the post? I joined Pinterest. Heehee. I couldn’t stay away any longer. Much fun and pinning and late hours online ensued. I’m having the time of my life setting up my story-boards for my various works-in-progress! So much inspiration. ❤

My profile is here in case you’re interested: http://www.pinterest.com/deborahocarroll/

Here are the pin boards for the stories I’m featuring today:

The Invisible Mask

Underground Rainbow

Kedran’s Wood Series

On with the show. Half a dozen snippets from my Camp NaNo writing. Hope you enjoy!

IMcover3

     “So, Bremask,” Kenneth said, turning to his friend and breathing a cloud of white breath on the cold air. “Was there any particular reason you wanted to go riding?”

Bremask kept his great black horse in check without apparent effort, sitting easily astride with his dark caped greatcoat flapping behind him in the wind. “Not particularly.” He shrugged. “I thought it would do you good if I could lure you out of that stuffy house of yours.”

“It’s not stuffy,” Kenneth said.

“Isn’t it,” was all Bremask said.

“If you don’t like visiting me, you needn’t come.”

“If I did not like visiting you, I certainly would not come, and you know it.”

~ The Invisible Mask

***

     “And what are you doing these days?” Declan asked. “If I might ask about the nature of your ‘business’. Robbing carriages now?”

Artren grinned. “Not all is as it seems, my friend. That highwayman venture was mostly for the benefit of that untrustworthy fellow who conked you on the head. And there was no robbery involved in the end, as you may recollect.”

~ The Invisible Mask

***

     “Swine,” Declan muttered under his breath.

Artren laughed and reached into his coat. “Now, now,” he reprimanded teasingly. “He’s not all bad. As a small compensation for your cousin’s infamy, he gave this to me to pass on to you.” Artren tossed a small clinking bag across the sofa to Declan, who caught it in one hand deftly but with surprise.

“Really?” Declan asked suspiciously.

Artren nodded, crossing his ankles and putting both hands behind his head. “It’s the truth.”

Declan tilted his head sideways. “All of the truth?”

The corner of Artren’s mouth quirked. He winked but said nothing.

~ The Invisible Mask

***

URcover3     Ellerion laughed his rumbling purr of a laugh, without the screech behind it. “And what would you ride then, Lord Achnor?” He purred the r‘s and there was mockery in his deep, dark voice.

“You know I’m the best and fastest of all my kind.”

“Which is the only reason why I haven’t fed you to the Lake-Coiler long ago,” Achnor snapped, shaking back his dark hair with the blond streaks from his face. “Now shut your beak and fly.” He dug his heels into Ellerion’s flanks as if he were a horse.

With a growl and a mighty beat of his gleaming black wings, the great shadowy Griffin leaped into the air and swooped off with his rider.

~ Underground Rainbow

***

KW2coverP     Baz was startled. “You had a mother?”

Tare groaned and ran a hand over his face. “Seriously, what is it with you guys? Always shocked if you learn I’m normal in some way. Like I’m not human or something.”

“Well sometimes it’s hard to remember that.”

Tare groaned again. Baz realized maybe he took this in a bad way, like they thought non humanness was bad. Really, they just saw him as the opposite of normal. That kind of not human.

“Don’t get me wrong, we mean that in a good way.”

“Is that so,” Tare said skeptically.

“Yeah. We think you’re really cool.”

“Cool,” Tare repeated absently.

“Yeah. You know. Really awesome.” Baz paused and was met with a vacant look. “Come on, you can’t seriously not know you’re cool,” Baz exclaimed.

Tare just looked at him.

~ The Secret of Kedran’s Wood

***

     “Adrian.”

Adrian paused on the sidewalk and swung around, looking for the source of the quiet voice. There was nobody in the yard.

“Adrian,” the voice said again.

“Baz?” Adrian said, glancing cautiously around. “You hiding someplace?”

“It is not the boy.”

Adrian’s eyes narrowed and he made an incredulous face at the empty snow-paved yard, turning again, trying to figure out where the sound came from, since none of the directions seemed to work. “Baz, are you fooling around? Because I must say you’re doing a better job than normal.”

“Where is my voice coming from,” the voice said.

Adrian blinked, swinging around a third time. Where was it coming from? It was disorienting.

“Everywhere,” he responded.

“Correction: nowhere. It is in your head.”

Well. This was new.

~ The Secret of Kedran’s Wood

A Visit From the Leprechauns

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

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

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

Shamrock_Brooch

Keychain

CelticJournal

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

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

URcover3

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

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

“Leprechauns,” Jancsi said.

Matt’s face twitched.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No-oo . . .” Natalie began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There you are. Hope you enjoyed!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Irish_Blessing