A Kedran’s Wood Christmas

Hey guys! I have a couple announcements and then I want to share a snippet of a Tare and Chess Club Christmas scene with y’all!

NaNo Post

Firstly, if you missed it, I talked about how my 10th NaNo went in this post!

(It didn’t go out to inboxes because I accidentally scheduled it to post November 9th instead of December 9th… while it was December. Further proof of how dead I was after NaNo. *headdesk* Anywayyy…)

Blogging Hiatus

Secondly, I’ll be taking a blogging break for the next couple of weeks to enjoy the holidays, so this will probably be my last post of the year . . . and decade. :O

I will (hopefully) see y’all in 2020 with some recaps or something.

About this Snippet

Okay, on to the story behind this post!

This spring, I finished my Kedran’s Wood story set at Christmas-time (like I’m hoping to finish my Kedran’s Wood novella set in the spring . . . sometime this month if I can . . . which is Christmas-time. The irony).

But since it’s 145K words and book 2 in the (contemporary fantasy) series, and rather a mess, it’s going to be . . . awhile until such things as publishing or whatever is going to happen with it, happens. XD

However! Since I did finish it, that means I have actual Christmas scenes! With my characters!

(Not just a blog tag interview with my characters like I did last year for my Other Half of Everything peeps. Which was tons of fun and you should go read if you missed it. XD *I just re-read it myself and honestly had a BLAST* *cough*)

I wanted to share something Christmas-y with you guys here on my blog, and thought that a bit of Chess Club and Tare Christmas-spirit would be a fun thing to share. ^_^

Disclaimer: This is from a first draft. It’s also near the end of the book, and more happens before and after it. I also redacted a couple of spoilers. But it stands alone pretty well as an adorable Christmas scene with some of my favorite characters, and I hope y’all enjoy it. 🙂

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my dear blog readers!


Excerpt from the end of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2), work-in-progress by Deborah O’Carroll

They followed Tare and found themselves suddenly in a clearing surrounded by pines and firs, snow covering the ground, and in the very center grew a tall fir tree, decked out in glowing splendor—literally.

Soft white and yellow lights sparkled all over it, with a few garlands and red or gold or white globe decorations and other minor items hanging here and there, tastefully, with a white angel at the very top, and still some snow on it from the light dusting earlier that evening.

It was just the right time of night when it was not fully dark and the sky was velvet-midnight-blue and scattered with a few beginning stars, but it was dark enough to appreciate the radiant tree lighting up the clearing and bathing their upturned faces in golden light.

“So remember what I told you about being too busy to decorate?” Tare said. “And how I didn’t have a Christmas tree?”

“Trees live outside,” Lavender whisper-laughed.

He glanced at her. “Exactly.”

“It’s beautiful,” Robin breathed in awe.

“It’s perfect,” Marie said.

And several others murmured something along those lines.

“I figured it wasn’t much good for one person . . .” Tare said, folding his arms and looking up at it. “It kind of needs a few. So. That’s what I wanted to show you guys.”

“It’s like your gift to the Chess Club, huh?” Baz said.

Tare got a shifty look. “Maybe,” he said, and added, “[redacted] helped. A little.”

“Where is [redacted]?” Adrian asked.

“Off doing mysterious [redacted] or something.”

“Goodness knows you know nothing about going off and being all mysterious,” Ivy said.

“Exactly.” Tare either missed the point, or missed it on purpose.

Small Occasion was straining at his leash in Mr. Larch’s grip, trying to get closer to the tree—all the sparklies and hanging things that might be chewable! (There had been some small wars between Small and the tree in Mr. Larch’s house, which had resulted in it being blocked off where Small couldn’t get at it to attack it with his joy and love.)

“Well. Go look at it if you want. It’s not fragile,” Tare said, making shooing motions with one hand.

They laughed and moved forward, away from where they’d been clustered at the very edge of the clearing, to look at Tare’s Christmas tree. It was even more beautiful up close, simple but so elegant, and so perfect in this setting. Tare had brought Christmas into Kedran’s Wood.

“Oh, there are chess piece ornaments! How absolutely perfect!” Robin said.

Tare coughed. “Those are actually . . . for you guys.”

Everyone looked at him and blinked.

Tare crossed his arms tighter and went on, “They’re not ornaments, they’re necklaces, and I made them for you.”

All eyes blinked at him for a moment and he looked more uncomfortable than Lavender had ever seen him.

“Oh—!” She and Ivy apparently had the same idea and both spontaneously lunged toward him.

His awkward look vanished, replaced with alarm, and he staved them off by hastily raising both hands defensively. “Ah, no. I don’t do hugs. That’s too much like—you know—getting attacked. I might kill you or something. You never know.”

Ivy snorted. “Sure.” But she and Lavender respected his distance and reversed course.

“This one has your name on it, Adrian!” Jake called excitedly, looking around on the branches.

“Coming,” Adrian said, and walked past Tare, giving him a friendly slap on the shoulder, grinning.

Tare half-dodged it but didn’t seem to mind terribly, and stood by, watching with arms folded again.

There was something of a fun treasure hunt scramble as everyone searched the branches of the Christmas tree for the little natural-wood-colored chess pieces hanging on silver chains, with names carved around their bases, and everyone matched up everyone else with the proper names.

Small got loose and happily galloped around and around the base of the tree, yapping and joining in the noises of laughter. Finally everyone had their chess necklace and tilted them toward the Christmas tree light to examine them.

They were all the chess pieces except the pawns: Mr. Larch’s was a king piece, Robin’s a queen. Adrian and Ivy had knight pieces, Baz and Lavender bishops—“because I’m a saint and/or my head-slash-mind is so sharp,” Baz said, nodding wisely and causing much eye-rolling—and the Valerian siblings each had rook pieces.

“There have got to be some lonely pawns back at your place to complete the set,” Mr. Larch said with a grin.

“Nooo,” Tare said, “because I carved these which means they are the set.”

Everyone blinked at him again.

“You carved these?” Baz yelped.

“What?” Tare shrugged. “I had to have something to do all those sleepless nights to avoid nightmares. I do have some skills besides killing monsters and freaking you guys out whenever I use technology. So. Those are my gift to the Chess Club,” Tare clarified.

“They’re perfect—thank you!” Everyone said their thanks and Tare looked at his feet and muttered something—and it was a little too dark to be sure but he might have been smiling.

Lavender clutched hers and thought she was probably glowing as much as the tree. She hung the chess piece necklace around her neck and the others began to as well.

“You don’t have one, though,” Adrian said, once everyone was wearing theirs.

Tare held up his hands. “Fine with me. I’m not the Chess Club.”

“Yeah, but you’re like an honorary member,” Ivy said.

“Maybe,” Baz said, “but we’re ‘the Chess Club and Tare,’ and if Tare was one of us it would just be ‘the Chess Club’ and that’s not quite as cool.”

“It is really bothering me that I keep agreeing with him,” Tare muttered. “Got one thing wrong, though. It’s Tare and the Chess Club, not the other way around.”

They laughed and agreed, even Baz.

A peaceful quiet settled over the snowy glade and they wandered slowly around, just looking contentedly at the tree together in silence. Even Small had gone silent, since Robin had picked him up.

It was almost Christmas Eve. Despite the cold, the tree’s glow lit their faces and their hearts. The wood sighed in the breeze around them and the stars shone.

Someone started singing Silent Night. Slowly, everyone else picked it up and joined in—except Tare, who seemed a little distracted—standing in a ring around the Christmas tree and filling the glade with their soft voices.

A Million Words Are Keeping Me Awake…

Something exciting happened this week — I hit a million words!

In the summer of 2010, I started keeping a daily/weekly writing log, and I also started tracking how many words (of actual manuscripts/stories) I wrote. I had already been writing for a few years before that, but ever since July 2010 I’ve kept fairly detailed records of my monthly manuscript words written. And I just hit a rather exciting milestone . . .

Since starting to track my wordcounts, I have now officially written

one

million

words.

Of course, I had been writing for awhile before that. And I am not including plotting or emails or the gadjillions of blog posts I’ve written, etc. Just actual draft words, counted since July 2010.

Some people say that once you’ve written a million words, your writing starts to be good. I don’t know how true (or not) that may be, but regardless of any writing mythology, 1,000,000 is still a pretty exciting number to hit.

Like a million dreams (you have the song in your head, now, don’t you? You’re welcome), a million words represent this single subcreator’s adventures of the written page so far.

I’ve journeyed through dozens of fantastical far-distant lands (who’s to call them imaginary or not?), with hundreds of characters who have been friends and enemies and kindred spirits, and it’s been a decade-long journey of a million words poured onto pages physical and digital, like ink or blood or the essense of the soul.

And I’ve learned a lot on the way — probably more than I even know that I learned, because that’s part of the journey, you see. Many sights still await. Many discoveries. The words that have been written — some of them are pretty good, and many others of them will never see the light of day, but they served a purpose; they served Story. And they’re the stepping stones that lead to a farther path. Regardless of their state, I’m terribly glad that I decided to write those words. You can’t be on a journey without those first steps — sometimes those first hundred, thousand, or million steps.

The numbers don’t matter, on their own. But it does help, sometimes, when the road seems long, to look back and see how far you’ve traveled. One step in front of the other. One more word on the page. Until you realize that you’re partway up that seemingly insurmountable mountain, after all.

The words, or their amount, are not the point. But the story is. And you can’t have the story without the words.

Here’s to a million more.

In Which I’m Kidnapped (Interviewed) by the Frabjous Ness Kingsley

Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know that I’m being interviewed today over on Ness Kingsley’s blog and it’s a total blast!

She is always one of the MOST DELIGHTFUL of bloggers and humans, with one of my top favorite blogs (it’s so funny, halp!) — plus, being from England and probably ranking as the world’s #1 fan of Georgette Heyer are further marks in her favor!

Also, her questions are hilarious WHILE being insightful, and I had a blast answering them, so you definitely don’t want to miss it.

So please go here: [i totally didn’t kidnap deborah o’carroll for an interview. pfft.] unless, as Ness delightfully puts it “DON’T READ ON … if you don’t want book recommendations, VITAL TIPS on participating in NaNoWriMo, and a banquet of scintillating conversation.”

Thanks for reading!

Flash Fiction: Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole

Hey guys! Today I’m excited to share a flash fiction/snippet/beginning of a story/SOMETHING.

Basically, I wrote it for a Twelve Dancing Princesses prompt and wanted to share it.

October is Twelve Dancing Princesses month over at The Fairy Tale Central. (If you don’t follow them, YOU SHOULD, because they’re amazing and all about fairy tales.)

As a part of that, Arielle Bailey, one of the Fairy Godmothers who run the site, has a writing prompt themed after the fairy tale of the month.

This month’s is . . .

And then you pick one of these answers to use . . .

You can join in the prompt and find all the info HERE!

(I cheated a tiny bit because I moved the prompt lines later in the story instead of starting with it, because I wanted to start somewhere else, buuut you know. :P)

I wasn’t NOT going to write something for this — I mean, it’s my favorite fairy tale!

And then I had a dream about writing something for it and took something from that, as well as a title I’d been meaning to use, and a couple of other orphan ideas waiting for a story. (By which I mean that they’ve been quietly insisting they would like a story of their own and I’ve been pretending they don’t exist because I already have TOO MANY.) And there you are!

(I apologize that it ends as it does; I hope to write more someday, when it’s not less than two weeks until NaNo. XD)

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!


Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole

Part 1 (?)

by Deborah O’Carroll

I dismounted from my old motorbike and surveyed the huge mansion silhouetted against the lake. The location being near water was less than ideal, given the rather important selkie shifters I had offended, but this job shouldn’t involve going near the water. I hoped.

I pulled off my sunglasses and hung them on my collar as I stepped into the sunset shadow of the looming mansion and knocked on the huge elegant doors at the top of a stairway I tried not to let impress me.

A man in a suit opened the doors almost at once and looked out. “Good evening, sir. How can I help you?”

Sir, indeed. My battered leather jacket and torn jeans didn’t exactly look like sir material, and the man was three times my age. But I let it slide, just this once.

“I’m here to collect that half-million reward,” I said.

“That would require solving the mystery.”

I smirked. “Oh, I intend to.”

“And where did you hear of this opportunity?”

“Craigslist,” I grunted. He didn’t need to know that an . . . acquaintance of mine had already come trying to solve this and had disappeared.

Satisfied, he nodded and stepped back. “Right this way, sir, and I’ll introduce you to Mr. King.”

“Don’t ‘sir’ me,” I said, and adjusted the handgun tucked into the back of my jeans under my jacket as I stepped through the doorway.

“Of course not, sir.”

I shook my head, following him into the depths of the mansion. Butlers.

My interview with Mr. King was brief—he was bored and impatient, and since I liked to think that people didn’t react that way just because of me, I figured he was getting kind of tired of this whole business after the dozens who had come in search of the reward and gotten nowhere—or if they had, nobody knew where, since they’d all disappeared.

Honestly, you’d think that would be more worrying than a billionaire’s twelve adopted daughters wearing out their ballet slippers every night, but there was no accounting for the rich. He said they couldn’t perform ballet in the daytime if they did it all night, and the stage was missing them.

Whatever he wanted to do with half a million was his business, and I could certainly use it to take care of a few things, on top of tracking down my . . . acquaintance.

So here I was, in a corner of a room full of chattering teenage girls, pretty much the last place I wanted to be. Well. Other than somewhere near water.

At least the invisibility cloak I wore kept them from knowing I was here—helpfully provided by Mr. King to aid in the investigations, with an enchantment on it to return to its proper hook hanging on a wall in his office at sunup every day to prevent unwarranted thefts. Otherwise I’d have suspected the previous investigators of having made off with it—it would explain their disappearances, and one of these was worth a fortune.

As part of the pre-arranged plan, I’d slipped in while the butler brought an evening snack to the teens—well, maybe a few of them were a smidge older, closer to my age; I was terrible with ages—and waited, Mr. King’s weary “good luck” still swirling in my ears. I guess if neither the wards around the house nor the security cameras could figure out where his girls were going or how, and they seemed to be in their room from ten p.m. until morning, that had to get kind of stressful.

The girls were either chatting, reading, engaged on phones or laptops, or doing some kind of crafting. One was practicing ballet steps in the corner opposite to mine.

Absolutely nothing interesting happened until the clock hit midnight.

They all stopped what they were doing and watched the huge wall clock finish chiming, then stood up—all except the one who seemed to be the youngest, who had fallen asleep reading a book.

She woke up and groaned. “Just one night. Can’t we sleep for just one night and forget all this?”

The eldest snorted. “Sounds great. Except for the part where we’d all wake up as ghosts.”

“Come on, you don’t really believe that, do you? Just because they told us—”

“I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that faeries can’t lie,” said another girl.

“And I’m pretty sure that’s just a rumor they spread around to make themselves sound trustworthy. Have you seen how sarcastic some of them are? I’m pretty sure sarcasm is a kind of lie and I doubt they could do it if they had to tell the truth.”

I smirked. That was definitely true.

“Come on, you know why we have to—and you usually love it. If you’re tired, you can just as easily nap there. Let’s go. One more night.”

The other girl got up and they put on their ballet slippers, then lined up, following the first girl.

I tensed, ready.

They walked right into the wall and vanished.

Well.

I quickly slipped after them. The wall let me through, fortunately. On the other side, a dark shadowiness waited. I could feel that we had passed through a barrier and were now somewhere else entirely.

Faeries. This was going to be interesting.

I spied the girls disappearing in a long spiral down a winding staircase with a gleam of light waiting at the bottom.

About to slip after them, I paused. A scratch on the banister at the top caught my eye. A symbol I knew well. He had been here. And the only reason he would have left that mark was if he was in trouble and thought I’d be following and would find it. Of all the entitled—

I growled. What did that idiot get into now?

I pulled my cloak of invisibility tighter around myself and stepped onto the spiral stairs, following the twelve girls toward the source of light—and what sounded like waves.

Which meant water.

I groaned. This was not my day.


To be continued . . . ?


And there you are! I hope you enjoyed it despite ending sooner than we might like it to. XD I do really want to continue writing it sometime. Thank you for reading!

Undercover, Gifs, & NaNo Know the Novel Intro

The frabjous Christine Smith is hosting her three-month Know the Novel linkup for writers these last three months of the year and I’M EXCITED. The first one is INTRODUCTION which I’m doing today. (Go join in if you like! It’s fun!)

Last week I announced that I’d be writing my NaNo project under a codename (Operation Foxtail) to put less pressure on myself, and then got kind of sad when I realized I couldn’t partake in Know the Novel if my novel was a secret . . .

But you know what? I still can because I want to! I will just be vague and nebulous like a mysterious secret undercover agent writer. XD

This post is going to be full of vague answers and way too many sunglasses/secret agents gifs.

Let’s do this thing.

Know the Novel: Part 1: INTRODUCTION

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

Actually, it was the title! (Not Operation Foxtail; the real title. XD) Which, funny story, is half my sister’s fault.

It sort of latched onto a swirling of vague ideas and somehow the story appeared and… I don’t really remember where all the ideas came from but the title definitely pulled everything together.

Even if it’s . . . you know . . . a different title. 😛

2. Share a blurb!

Characters do stuff and things happen and there is drama and banter and doom and we will hope that at least most of them get to live happily ever after eventually!

Okay, I know that’s a rubbish blurb. XD But I don’t even know all the important plot stuff for later-on myself, even if I was sharing what the story is. So.

Here, have the shiny codename cover again to distract you from the lack of information. *cough*

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

It’s actually going to take place in several places, which is both exciting and daunting, because I have to figure them out. XD But my favorite is how at home I feel with this idea/places and yet also totally out of my depth. It’s gonna be interesting!

4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).

We have a heroine who is spunky! (Actually rare for me.) And a hero who is awesome and I love! And side characters who I also love but are kind of a mess too! And a rather small cast, for me. And yeah, everything else is a spoiler, so. 😛

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

GOOD QUESTION. I should probably know this, shouldn’t I. >.> *cough* I think there’s a couple different antagonists but some of them are relationship problems instead of actual physical people… but there are some of those too.

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

The characters and fun of it and just . . . IT. I’ve been wanting to write it for a long time and I’m terrified I won’t be able to but I’m gonna try!

7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

Standalone, ish. Like I might have some spinoff things? Mayyybe? But mostly it stands alone.

Of course, I usually say that and then KABOOM it’s a series and I’m questioning all my life choices. But anyhoo…

8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Ahahahaha. WHO EVEN KNOWS. I’m planning to do some planning but haven’t if you know what I mean. I have SOME notes but definitely need to gather them and do more. So I’m probably plantsing. 😛

Which is slightly terrifying but when am I ever prepared for NaNo? *nervous laughter*

9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.

*squirms* THIS IS HARD. Without spoilers, I mean. Let’s just say I’m taking some tropes and I’m totally hoping to twist them around and it should be fun.

  • It’s (kind of) a subgenre I haven’t exactly written before?
  • It’s in first-person which I usually only do for short stories.
  • It’s going to have all the feels.

10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

Well, let’s see, most of those things would probably be spoilery.

Still. We’ll see what we can do. XD

Here is a section of my inspiration board for NaNo! I always do one of these, with a cover and to-do list and inspirational memes, and also pictures for inspiration (not shown because it’s undercovaaahh).

So there you are. And now it’s back to plotting for this story and pretending it doesn’t exist because I’m being an undercover writer agent.

I kind of like this sunglasses thing…

How about you? What are you writing for NaNo (if you are)?

And are you going to drop over and do the linkup tag? You shoullld! It’s fun!

Thanks for reading! 😀