Many Happy Returns (Also Hobbits)

Happy New Year! It seems to be 2014 already, which is something my mind is having a hard time comprehending . . . And I know for a fact that I’m going to continue to write and type “2013” for a long time still (case in point: I accidentally typed that when I was trying to type 2014 up there), but I’m excited for the clean slate and open possibilities of a new year!

Which no doubt includes posting on my blog more regularly. *glances around and dusts things off, disappearing in a particularly large cloud of dust, from which I shortly emerge, coughing loudly and trying to pretend I’m not* From the looks of things around here, and judging mostly from the fact that the last time I posted, NaNoWriMo hadn’t even ended yet, it might be presumed that I did not survive November. In fact, I barely did; but it was a close call.

When last I posted I was very behind on my words for the month and still going slow, but in the last couple weeks of NaNo I pulled an epic comeback and crossed the finish-line victorious at 50,237 words. Alas, my story is not finished (and in a sense only begun) but despite that I’m immensely pleased by how Underground Rainbow has turned out so far — especially the characters taking over and coming out so wonderfully — and overall I had a superb NaNo 2013!


Still, when December hit I had some intense writer’s burn-out and have been too exhausted from my writing (not to mention out of breath from a whirl of pre-Christmas activity) to even think about blogging.

But all that to say, I have at last returned! Hence one of the reasons for the “return” in the title of this post. Though . . . “many” probably does not apply. And I don’t know if anyone is happy about it either. But the subject of my return is not the only thing I’m here to talk about.

You see, it’s also a birthday. Not mine, of course, but the birthday of my favorite author. I love a lot of old books written by authors who lived awhile ago, but even though most of my favorite authors are no longer among the living, I like to remember them and appreciate their wonderful books by celebrating the authors’ birthdays. So today I’m here to do just that.

Once upon a time, on a January 3rd, 122 years ago (in 1892 to be precise) J. R. R. Tolkien was born.

(Please note the “i” before the “e” in Tolkien. That is the correct spelling, which some folks, even in published books, cannot seem to remember, and tend to reverse it and spell it like “Tolkein”, which I shudder just looking at. And hey look; even my spellchecker knows that’s the incorrect way to spell it . . . This is a minor aside to all such people, correcting them, even though I’m sure none of them is reading this. “Tolkien” — “i” before “e”, please. I’m not nit-picky, no; not at all. Whatever gave you that idea?)

I’ve never gone so far as to bake a cake or anything (yet), but I always mark my calendar and each January 3rd I go about in a celebratory feeling of appreciation for everything Tolkien wrote and how much epicness and enjoyment his books have caused (not to mention how much of an increase of books written in the fantasy genre — my favorite — there have been since The Lord of the Rings was published). The Lord of the Rings is probably my favorite book, and well overdue for a reread; but every other thing by Tolkien I’ve read I have likewise enjoyed immensely.


I have a map of Middle-earth framed and hung on my wall. I happen to have in my possession 63 books by or about Tolkien or his stories — yes, I just counted. Some are multiple copies of various books by him, but the fact remains. If you just said I’m obsessed, I fear I won’t argue with you. I also own all the soundtracks for the films based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit so far — I feel like the music of Howard Shore in the movies are a much better adaptation of Tolkien’s books than the movies themselves.

Which brings me to the final point of this post: I saw “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” the day it came out. I had planned to review it on my blog, and had such low expectations (except for the music) that I already had picked out what I was going to say in my review. It was going to be this:

My review for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”:

I enjoyed the music.

. . . Yup, that was going to be it. Now, the music was splendid, but that’s not all I enjoyed, and nor can I just let the awfulness go unnoticed, so I’m going to have to amend my review. (Caution: May contain spoilers…)

Recipe for a certain movie:

  • Take one well loved book.
  • Chop in three parts.
  • Take all the events and tumble them together so they’re not separated at all. Mix well.
  • Throw in lots of made up stuff — whatever you like. (It doesn’t matter if it has nothing to do with the original book or characters. The fans of the book can protest but they can’t really do anything.)
  • Add a pinch of Radagast and Gandalf doing stupid out-of-character things, and a sprinkling of far-fetched over-the-top “battles” between light and dark.
  • Mix in some insane dwarf plans for getting rid of Smaug, and lots of parts where he could have blasted them all with fire but for some reason decided not to. (?)
  • Add generous helping of ridiculous love affair that doesn’t work, between an elf and a dwarf. (Come on; seriously?)
  • Season with non-stop action throughout (Legolas is a good help for this).
  • Carefully chop the ending off to leave enough bits dangling so people will come back for the third part.
  • Serve cold (December will do) to indignant audiences.
  • Note: Be sure to top with brilliant actors and spice well with beautiful epic music so no one will notice.

Lot of parts annoyed me, and I could go on and on about it. But on the whole, as a movie, it was a really fun movie and I enjoyed it a lot. It just wasn’t anything like the great book it was supposedly based off of. I loved Bard — he was great. Bilbo was splendid as ever. The Dwarves were fun at times. I oddly really enjoyed Legolas (one of the bigger but less naughty additions — at least he would have been in the area). His parts were some of my favorite, especially a certain fight near the end . . . Also most of the river/barrel sequence was hilarious and awesome. And Thranduil! I don’t know why, but he was spectacular.

As such an extreme book lover, I only enjoyed the movie because I had been keeping up with the rumors of the horrible things they were going to do to it and resigned myself to the fact that it would be ruined even worse than the first one, and it was only by that mental attitude that I managed not to get extremely annoyed. With the first one at least I could list the problems and complain about them; with this, there are too many changes and I’m giving up and just looking at them as completely different entities.

Today being the birthday of the man who wrote The Hobbit, I’m going to appreciate the real Hobbit — the classic and wonderful book that I’ve so enjoyed reading so many times, and that led to the writing of my favorite book ever. My thanks to Professor Tolkien — Happy Birthday.

11-12-13, NaNo Update, and BOOKS

We take a break from the hecticness of NaNo to bring you a slightly frazzled and rather brief blog post from a certain authoress.

The point of this post is threefold.

Today Yesterday is was 11-12-13. Which is of course far too awesome to pass up mentioning. (Okay, so I’m a day late on my post. I blame NaNo. It’s very useful for blaming. In a good way, of course.) I, obviously, forgot to take a screenshot of the lovely number on my laptop yesterday. Even though I told myself I would. Go figure. Ahem. Moving on…

To tell you that I am indeed still alive and NaNoWriMo has not killed me. Yet. A brief update and some stats:


Yes, I’m behind. Which is embarrassing. But I’m making myself post this anyway. Maybe it will push me into catching up. Anyway it’s not quite as bad as it looks because I haven’t written yet today… I hope to write a lot today and tomorrow because if I can finish chapter 4 and get into the next one, I think things can actually start to finally *gasp* happen! I know, it’s shocking.

But we’ve now met the main character and his parakeet, seen a big mansion (that he now owns, lucky fellow. The main character owns it, not the parakeet. Though he probably thinks he does). And we’ve also met the sidekick and “the girl”, as well as a grumpy lawyer with a British accent, who is far funner to write than I thought he would be. And since they’re all about to go camping in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains (with the exception of the parakeet, who might get lost if he came, and the British lawyer fellow, who, I suspect, would not be caught dead camping) the adventure can begin to  . . . well . . . begin.

I’m excited.

In case you were wondering, booksales are the most wonderful events ever (besides gatherings of writers, of course). A few days ago I spent nearly the entire day either in line to get into this enormous awesome booksale that comes every November, or dashing madly about inside around the tables stuffed full of books, happily filling brown paper sacks to the brim with scrumptious books. That I incidentally cannot wait to read . . . They are part of my incentive to actually catch up on my wordcount for NaNo, because I’m not allowed to read until I’m on track again. Just look at all the prettttty:


I’d love to say more about the sale, but I’m running short of time and must dash. And anyway, my friend Kelsey described the booksale better than I could, in her lovely post today, so check it out! 🙂

If this post (now over) was incomprehensible, I beg your pardon. My brain is slightly fried these days.

Press on, NaNoers! Nearly half-way there!

Off to write,

A frazzled Deborah O’Carroll, limping hastily along the road of a writer toward the finish line labeled “December 1st – 50,000 words written in November”

Lost in a NaNoWriMo Mist

And creeping up, November came
We readied, all, our hands and wrists
Sat down before that pale white screen
Lost in a Nanowrimo mist

(A scrap of poetry I wrote the night before my first NaNo. Inspired by this song, with the same melody. Give it a listen — it’s beautiful and haunting.)

It’s NaNo, as you may have noticed . . . This means my brain is too busy coming up with words for a story to be able to think about words for a blog post. My prose is being used up at a rapid pace and I must conserve it. So you get a collection of pictures, poetry, and music links instead.

My little NaNo mascot (borrowed from my brother) with my books on writing.


Here’s my current Stats Graph. Which I spelled Graff the first time. Yes. I re-read and watched Ender’s Game recently and have been obsessively listening to this part of the soundtrack while writing — give it a listen too, it’s epic.

Everyone needs some inspiration. I haven’t gotten to the griffins in my story yet but this was something I doodled to inspire me when I get there. (and encourage me to keep writing so I can get there!)


My Nano Toshiba Board (which is a cork-board type thing that came with my precious). From it I can reach most everything I need for my story, including shortcuts to the folder with all the plotting and writing, and music to keep me going, and inspirational pictures etc. Plus there’s the Doctor telling me I should be writing. So I guess I’d better.

So here ends my post.

If you’re NaNoing: good luck to you and don’t give up — you can do it!!!

If you’re not NaNoing: good luck in whatever else you’re doing, you wonderful sane person you, and I hope you’ll not get too sick of hearing about everybody’s month of noveling. 😉

NaNo Looms

Around this time of year, you see them all over the blogosphere — posts about how blogs will be mostly neglected for about a month. Since there are always so many, I figure one more won’t be amiss.

I’m going to try to keep up a post a week, but I cannot make promises, and I may or may not be somewhat absent from my blog — or at least highly sporadic and unpredictable — during November. Due, of course, to Nanowrimo. Whether I’m around on the blog during the next month will depend on writing and busyness.

This will be my fourth year doing NaNo (plus a couple of Camp NaNo sessions) and I’ve always won so far. Each year has been a very different adventure, and I guess we’ll see what this year holds in store!

(Boring backstory follows — skip if desired.)


2010 – Year 1:  Twelve Fugitives in the Wild – Fantasy, set in another world during an 18th century type era, complete with muskets, carriages, and tri-cornered hats.

The Wild Ride: I decided to do NaNo the night before it began. I had no plot, hectically (or desperately) came up with it as I went along, fell woefully behind, and spent the entire last day, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., munching chocolate and pounding out 8,000 words to catch up.

The Result: About a half-done story full of a suspicious number of plot-twists near the end. I still have not dared to start trying to tie off all the threads necessary to finish the story. But I was very proud of myself for winning and had a blast during the month.


2011 – Year 2: Far-mark’s Dream – Medieval Fantasy

The Adventure: This time I plotted for two weeks beforehand and was much more organized, with the story all fitted nicely into chapter-breaks. I stayed up on my personal goals, the story behaved itself (mostly) and was incredibly exciting and fun to write, and I actually wrote “The End” on it — two days before the end of November.

The Result: A complete, though a bit short, very fun novel that I have plans of rewriting sometime. Once it’s rewritten I think it might end up being one of my very favorite stories.


2012 – Year 3: Grey Betrayal (book 1 of the Chronicles of Starrellia) – Medieval Fantasy

The Chaos: I had been planning for months to write a different story (Underground Rainbow), so I thought I was all set. But just ten days before NaNo began, I switched over to this one and consequently was not as well prepared as I thought. The first week or so was smooth sailing but after that things got rocky. I still hit my 50k though, and on top of that got to meet one of my favorite characters that I didn’t think I would get to meet yet.

The Result: A part-finished start to my fantasy series (which already has parts of the other books written). Very glad to have gotten that far, and now only have to find time to finish the story and fix all the plot holes, and hope that it won’t end up being 200k words long . . .


2013 – Year 4: Underground Rainbow – Contemporary Fantasy

… ? We’ll see how this session of NaNo turns out when we reach December 1st!

I can’t wait to write this story — I’ve spent October figuring out the plot (or, some of it… still have a ways to go… 3 days left!) and meeting the characters, and I think it’s going to be stupendously fun! Nanowrimo is almost here! I AM BEYOND EXCITED!!! (Ahem. Getting carried away in the spirit of things . . .)


November is just around the bend, and our stories are all set (or not, as the case may be… But we’ll not let that daunt us!). It’s time to shut out the world and get settled into the worlds of our own words.


Grab your pens, laptops, coffee, and miscellaneous writing paraphernalia!

Let’s go write some novels, people!

“I’m Going On An Adventure!”

(Otherwise entitled: Regarding November–Yes, I’m One of Those Crazy Writers)

“I’m going on an adventure!”

-Bilbo Baggins in the film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

As previously mentioned, fall is in the air . . . and adventure approaches. What adventure, you ask? Well, NaNoWriMo, of course.

Yep, National Novel Writing Month has crept up on us once again. 50,000 words in 30 days. A whole novel in the month of November. Who’s insane enough to try it? Me, for one. Because it makes me write. And it adds a measure of community to an otherwise solitary occupation. And it’s fun. I’d say those are three very good reasons.


Ah, NaNo . . .

The thrill, the joy, the panic, the excitement.

The frantic brainstorming, the sleepless nights, the overdoses of chocolate and caffeine.

The despair, the exhilarating discoveries, the unexpected plot-twists.

The characters in our brains alternating between pestering us, ignoring us, and locking us up.

The frenzied sound of the tappity-tappity-tap of fingers going crazy on keyboards, and minds going crazy in heads.

We love it, we hate it, we fear it, we revel in it.

It is obvious we writers are crazy.

I have a feeling it will be even crazier for me this year than usual. Not only am I going to try to write 50,000 words, but I’m also going to try to keep up with correspondence (ha), with life (double ha), and to cap it all, this year I’m a co-ML (Municipal Liaison) for my local region, which means I’ll be helping organize events, urging on other writers and answering their questions, and generally being about three times as busy as usual. In short, I’m more excited than ever.

This month I’ll be frantically brainstorming away, trying to gather together a plot for this year’s novel, a contemporary fantasy adventure. (Normally I’m a medieval fantasy person. But this story was too yummy to pass up.)


Underground Rainbow
Teen photographer Jancsi Foil encounters a world of fantastical creatures living undetected alongside the humans of Earth. Griffins, Gnomes, Mermaids: dwellers in sky, earth and water, with Leprechauns betwixt the three, trying to unite them in friendship—though not averse to some mischievous fun along the way. Jancsi and his friends are swept along in a colorful yet perilous adventure that will endanger everything they hold dear, as they join forces with the creatures and attempt to restore freedom to all—and find that golden friendship at the end of the rainbow.

There’s a colorful (sorry, couldn’t resist) cast of characters in this story that I just can’t wait to “meet”! If I can get the plot figured out I think this will be a spectacularly fun NaNo!

So . . . How about you? Are you willing to take the plunge? Come and join me on this epic writing adventure of fifty-thousand words in thirty days!

Everyone has a story in them. Set aside time to write the one you have to tell.

NaNoWriMo: write a novel in November.

If I can do it, so can you.

What will you be writing this year? And are you excited yet?