PREPTOBER 2021 – Know the Novel Linkup: Re-Introducing Project Sunset

good morning, cyberspace!

Today’s Preptober post was a wee bit impromptu, but GUYS. My favorite linkup has officially returned for the chaotic NaNoWriMo season, and there’s no way I could do a Preptober series without participating! Know The Novel is a linkup created by not only one of my favorite bloggers, but one of my favorite humans, as well! Christine Smith is the sweetest, most kind-hearted individual you will ever meet, and if you’re not already following her blog, I highly recommend checking it out!

Know The Novel is a yearly linkup set within the final three months of the year. There are different “themes” for each linkup, and this month’s theme is Introductions! So without further ado, for anyone who’s interested in the novel I’ll be working on next month, here’s all you could ever hope to know (and that I’m comfortable sharing) about Project Sunset (SK)!

Fun Fact: I actually did this linkup for Project Sunset way back in 2019 when I first decided to draft this novel! Buuuut, since so much has changed between then and now, I figure it wouldn’t hurt to “re-introduce” this book to the blogosphere! If you’d like to take a peek at the previous entry, however, here’s the link!


Christine made this gorgeous graphic, and might I just say–I AM IN LOVE. OH MY WORD.

What first sparked the idea for this novel?

Oh goodness. It’s been so long since I had the initial idea for this book, but I do vividly remember where I was when the idea fell into my head!

I was reading a random blog post about writing, specifically flipping tropes on their heads, and suddenly an idea just clicked. It wasn’t anything super remarkable. It’s probably been done before, even. But I was so excited to explore this trope that I knew I needed to chase it.

Ever since that initial inception, I’ve been drawing inspiration from bits and pieces of movies and books dealing with the specific tropes I’m using (I apologize for being vague. it’s Secret Information right now), just to see what sorts of things work in my genre. I wish I could share more details, but alas. Top Secret Information and all that…

Share a blurb (or just an overall summary)!

Um…. *sweats nervously* I guess this means that I’m supposed to have some semblance of an idea as to what I’m supposed to be writing, right? Aha. Yeah! I totally have that! *scrambles through notecards*

When Ed Whittaker’s arch-nemesis escapes from eternal banishment, he is faced with a difficult choice: confront his rival and save lives, or hide away and save himself. Pushed to confrontation by those he loves, Ed and the Gang embark on one more wild adventure to save a world that never wanted them. The only problem? There’s a kid in the backseat of the car they just stole.

That is legit the best I can do right now, guys. *wipes sweat from brow* Goodness, it’s hard to be vague but informational at the same time.

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

The story’s setting has swapped around a bit, but currently it’s set in a very small town that, uh, still has yet to be named. *side-eyes pile of scrapped names in the corner* It’s fine. We’re getting there.

One of my all-time favorite things about this setting is that it takes place in autumn, though! Like what better time to write a book set in a cozy, golden-red filled haze than when the real world is undergoing the same phenomenon! Any book with an autumn setting is sure to be a favorite of mine, and the fact that I actually get to WRITE one is just…!!! It makes my heart happy!

I also really love the smallness of the town I’m writing. At first I thought this book would take place in a larger city, but it’s since come to my attention that it’s more small-town country vibes. Very cozy. Very quaint. There’s a little park surrounding a lake (Lake Squipple, as it’s currently called), and there’s geese. I’m currently drawing some inspiration from some lakes that my family and I visit each year, so that’s been super fun. Honestly, worldbuilding isn’t always my strong suit, but I feel like it’s really coming together for this second draft!

Tell us about your protagonist(s).

Ooooh. Okay. This one’s gonna require some creativity. #spoilerintervention

ED WHITTAKER – the main male protagonist

Ed is your typical grumpy protag. He’s angry at the world, doesn’t really let people into his inner circle anymore because of some Big Bad Things that happened to him in the past. (gotta love that backstory!) But as the story progresses, he learns to open his heart up once again, which has been healing for the both of us.

Ed is one of those characters that are just so difficult to get inside the head of. But once he’s there, it’s impossible to get him out again. The first draft was hard, but I eventually did find a solid rhythm with his voice, so I’m hoping that the second draft will be easier for me to figure out now that I know his general personality.

SHELBY WESTBURN – main female protagonist

Shelby is a firecracker. She’s 98% spunk, 2% fiesty, and 100% herself. She’s been through some awful stuff for a kid her age (who did this to her, cause we gonna have some words), but she holds her head high and keeps marching forward. Honestly, I’m a little jealous of her resilience, but it’s also inspiring. Because if she can keep going after all she’s been through, so can I.

I think a fun little “side” fact about Shelby is that she LOVES Comic Books. She wants to write and illustrate them when she grows up, which is something that I…uh…completely failed to go into in the first draft. (can my secretary gnome get on that for me, please and thank you.)

Who (or what) is the antagonist?

Casey Crawford! (used to be Casey Brooke, but like…no. Casey Crawford has a much better ring) This guy is evil to his very core, and oh my GOODNESS I’m excited to write him!

There are also a few inner demons the characters have to work through, such as Ed’s inability to let go a grudge, Shelby’s hard-headedness, Eugene and Sam’s constant bickering… It’s going to be an incredible month of writing all this craziness, and I couldn’t be more excited!

What excites you the most about this novel?

Oh goodness! Everything! This book has been such a heart project for me. I’ve been trying to write this novel for two years, and have had the idea for even longer, but it only just now feels like I’m pegging down the true core of the story. And I am so excited to write the version of this book that I feel best represents everything I ever wanted it to be!

I’m also obsessed–as always–with the cast. You can never go wrong with a good Found Family, and with a cast as large as this one, the chaos is loud! It’s going to be such a blast revisiting this world, developing it, and falling in love all over again with the characters who I had to say goodbye to over a year ago. (honestly, that’s the best part of revision. you never really say goodbye! until, you know…. you have to. XD)

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

Currently, Project Sunset is set to be a standalone! Which I am VERY excited about since I hardly ever write standalones. XD *ignores the fact that the last two books I’ve written were standalones*

Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Believe it or not, I’m actually PLOTTING.

I know. I’m shooketh, as well. I never thought I’d be the sort of person to enjoy creating an outline for my stories, but goodness gracious, times have changed. I would be quite lost without my happy little outline, and I’m really excited to see if having an outline makes writing a second draft easier or worse. Whenever I plot my first drafts, it seems as though nothing goes according to plan. But now that I’ve done my experimental draft, I feel I’m ready to buckle down and iron out all these plot holes Past Kenzie created!

And, since my outline is now done, I can happily say that most of those plot holes have been ironed! At least, they’ve been ironed out in theory. We shall see what happens in November.

Meme Reaction GIF

Name a few unique elements about this story.

I mean, this implies that I’ve ever written something unique in my life. *sweats nervously in imposter syndrome* But, if you insist

  • the cast

I know, I know, the most cliche thing ever. But seriously, the cast of this book is… particularly unique for reasons I cannot describe. I’ve never had a group so chaotic, loud, and overall just odd. If you simply looked at them at face-value, I’m not sure it would seem as though they belonged together. But once you dig deeper and see all the bonds they’ve forged between themselves, it’s truly a beautiful spiderweb of friendship. I adore seeing that part of them, and I’m eager to dig even deeper this next month!

  • the research

I’m not exactly good with doing research, guys. It’s just not my forte, and quite frankly, I only do it when I really, REALLY need to. (yes, I need to get better at this.) BUT. A lot of the “research” I did for this novel is actually things I’ve picked up on from real-world situations I’ve been involved in–particularly when it comes to the character relationships. So many of the characters I’m writing have pieces which have been taken from various individuals I’ve met/come across/seen randomly but never talked to. It’s been a true people-watching experience, and I absolutely love that. XD

  • there’s a mini van that’s basically a main character, even though it’s actually not sentient at all

…I don’t think there’s much more to say in regards to this.

Share some fun “extras” 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!).

Oof! This one is hard! I really wanted to share my pinterest board with you all, but it unfortunately contains a LOOOOOT of spoilers. XD So I’ll just have to share some weird little behind-the-scenes facts about this book instead!

  • When I first had the idea for this book, it really didn’t fit into my “publishing plan”. I wasn’t sure I’d ever really be able to share it with the world, because it’s a completely different vibe than anything else I’ve written. More recently, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that–different or not–this is a book I greatly want to share with the world, and so once it’s reached a stage of completion, I will, in fact, be querying it!
  • I’ve also considered the possibility of indie publishing this book, though that would mean I’d become a hybrid author, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that level of responsibility yet. XD
  • The majority of the first draft of Propject Sunset was written during my three-month quarantine of 2020. It was also during this time that I wrote 10,000 words in a single day–my highest record to date!
  • Project Sunset was initially supposed to be set during the months of summer, but was pushed to late fall due to school needing to be in session for specific plot points to work.

and finally…

  • This is the only book I’ve ever written where I’ve seen a legit doppleganger to one of my characters out and about in the real world. And it’s the WEIRDEST experience, guys. I’ve seen at least two–maybe three–of my characters just… living life in my universe? And it is the oddest thing. Completely surreal. 10/10 may have stared a hole through them accidentally…? (please don’t think I’m weird, random stranger, you just really looked like Ollie)

>>> <<<

talk to me, peasants!

has anyone else done the Know The Novel linkup this month? do you feel fully prepared for NaNo, or are you lowkey screaming into the void wishing for the sweet release of death? (I keep bopping back and forth between extreme excitement and eternal despair. there’s literally no middle ground.) And also.. is there any Preptober-ish thing that you hope I cover over the next few weeks of October? I already have most of my posts planned out, but if there’s something y’all want to see, my eyes and ears are wide open for suggestions! *stares unblinkingly*

As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below! And until next time…

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *


22 thoughts on “PREPTOBER 2021 – Know the Novel Linkup: Re-Introducing Project Sunset

  1. Isn’t it great when an idea just clicks into place? Doesn’t happen to me very often, but I always love when it does.

    I love your blurb, Kenzie! It sounds like so much fun, and the last line is perfection.

    Autumn setting! Love!

    I love that the minivan is basically a main character. So on point!

    WAIT you’ve seen character doppelgangers? That’s CRAZY. Unreal. (Were they also doing things your characters would be doing? 👀

    So, I have decided that I AM going to do NaNo (*gulps in also getting a new job this month and being a full-time college student*) and I have come up with an idea that I am in love with, and am working on assembling my NaNo kit!!! So: I appreciate the inspiration AND the push, because without this blog series, I would not have gotten my rear in gear to do anything about it! (But I’m not doing Know the Novel because…I don’t like to tell people stuff about what I’m writing. Hint darkly, yes. Actually tell? No way, Jose.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Me too!! It’s one of my favorite parts of the writing process! It also doesn’t happen to me very often, but I think that helps me love it even more when it does finally click!

      EEP, thank you!! I’m actually quite pleased with how it turned out, but goodness gracious writing blurbs is not my favorite thing to do at ALL. XD

      (I believe in at least two instances, they were!! And this is the ONLY story I’ve ever written where this happened, so I was…kind of fangirling a little bit. Which got me some odd looks. XD)

      Oh my GOODNESS!!!! SAMANTHA!!! This makes me happier than anything!!! I am SO excited to write with you next month! Please please please friend me on the NaNo site! (I’ll helpfully leave a nice little link right here… Mwahahahaha. XD >> ) I totally understand being nervous about other commitments during November, because my job has also been more demanding as of late, and I…am not sure I’m gonna be able to hit all my writing goals next month. *laughs awkwardly in the hopes that you can’t notice my tears* BUT. IT’S FINE. We’re gonna be fine! (lol, I hope XD) And I also get not wanting to share too much information on your projects! I’m the same way, so I just sort of dangle weird little bits of information and then wonder if I shouldn’t have said anything at all. XD


  2. *HAPPY FLAILING AND SQUEALING* This post totally made my day!

    First of all, YOU are the sweetest and one of MY favorite humans of ever and all your kind thoughts on things put such a huge smile on my face. <333

    Secondly… PROJECT SUNSET!!! I just love hearing how this story came to be and how close it is to your heart. Those stories are truly the best. Also I am HERE for that blurb. That last line tho! It's too great.

    The setting sounds DELIGHTFUL. I mean, YES FOR AUTUMN. Gimme alllll the Autumn-vibes please and thank you. But also I have such an affinity for small, quaint towns in fiction. They're so COZY. And that just makes it even more special that it's based off a place you and your family visit! This is totally random, but the description made me think of the town Amy and Rory lived in Doctor Who with the "duck pond" they always referenced. XD I don't even know, but that just popped in my head.

    The characters sound like SUCH FUN too! I can imagine they bring alllll sorts of delightful chaos! :D Also Casey Crawford is an on point villain name. Yesss. AND the fact that the mini van is basically a character is the greatest thing! I am a total sucker for things like that becoming their own characters. It's so much fun!

    EVERYTHING SOUNDS FUN. I'm so excited about this, girl! I do hope all your revisions plans go AMAZINGLY. And thank you so, so much for joining the linkup! This made me so happy! :D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meep!!! This LINKUP made my whole day when I saw that it returned!!! I absolutely adore it so much!

      EEP! Okay so it seems like my blurb may have been a hit! (look ma! i finally wrote a decent blurb! XD) And this story has been such a blessing in my life. It’s kind of like my escape when everything else is going horribly awry. And I have SO many fun first drafting memories with this project, so I have a feeling I’m going to be creating a lot more of them with the second draft!

      OH MY GOODNESS!!!! Girl, you are SO RIGHT!!! I’d completely forgotten about that reference and place until you mentioned it!!! Okay…now I’m gonna have to look up that plot thread because I need some more setting inspiration. XD And also YES to small, cozy autumnal towns! They are my favorite to write lately, and I’m worried that all of my stories from here on out are going to be set in a similar aesthetic, lol! XD

      Totally same! Non-sentient things becoming sentient is like…my favorite trope ever. XD And I’m so happy you like Casey Crawford! I feel like it’s gonna be super interesting to see if his personality changes at all with his new name…

      Meep! Thank YOU, Christine! I appreciate you putting this together every year so we can squeal about our stories! It legit makes NaNoWriMo all the more fun!


  3. I love this story SOOOO much already! And it’s sooo much fun when an idea just… CLICKS.

    I have a new story idea that’s sort of coming together in my head right now and I’m having to be super stern with it. “No, sweet little floofball plot bunny, I do not have TIME for you right now.” But it’s cute and smol and involves the fae… (no, it’s not the sequel to Echo, sadly… that’s still waiting for another couple of lightning bursts of inspiration… but it’s being patient. This is something totally new and it’s being all obnoxious now).

    ANYWAY, I am loving your Preptober posts! And I really enjoyed reading about your Project Sunset! I hope Nano goes well for you and you write all the beautiful words next month!

    Your characters sound so epic. And I love their names! And I just can’t wait to meet them all properly. :) So let me know when it’s available! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right??? It’s legit my favorite moment in the writing process!

      Okay, not gonna lie, the second you said “fae”, my brain perked up and was like “ECHO????” XD But I totally get not being ready to write something quite yet! There are definitely stories in my own head that are waiting for a few extra little touches before they can be written! But also…obnoxious plot bunnies are the BEST. I’ve been having some of those lately, myself, and it’s been…difficult to keep them at bay. XD

      Aww, thank you SO much, Jenelle! This means the world to me! I will absolutely let you know once this book becomes something a little more tangible! It would make my heart so happy for you to be able to read it!!


      • The new story has now abandoned the fae and wants to be part of my Turrim Archive world.

        And it’s making me read Oliver Twist. And I HATE Dickens so much.

        But I think the story is going to happen, so that’s exciting. I just have to find time for it.

        There WILL be a sequel to Echo (maybe even more than one). Eventually. So many books, so little time. I have parts of an outline for it. Thankfully, Echo is shorter than my other stuff, so sequels shouldn’t take as long to write. Hopefully.

        I would LOVE to be able to read a Kenzie book someday! (And let me know if you ever need a beta-reader!!!)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh. OH. OH MY GOODNESS. This sounds even more exciting, not gonna lie!! XD I’m so unbelievably excited to hear more about it when the time comes!

          I’m honestly so in love with the thought of multiple extra Echo books. That storyworld felt like a second home to me, and I desperately want to return for all sorts of new adventures!

          MEEP! It is my dream to someday get one of my books into your hands!!! I hope that dream comes to be sooner rather than later! <333


  4. Wow. Your blurb – ❤️ it!!! The last sentence stole my heart (I’m a sucker for stuff like that). And yes! Found family! I also absolutely adore that the van is almost a main character. It makes me so happy!

    People watching is the best. Do I look crazy? Probably. Do I care? Not really.

    It’s so weird/cool when you see someone who looks like your character. I got inspiration for my protag from a waitress once (turns out, hair color matters more than you’d think).

    Mmm, stories set in Autumn are so cozy and wonderful.

    Anyways, I hope your second draft goes amazingly!

    P.S. I want to read your book even more now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EEP! Thank you so so much! And okay but SAME. XD Found Family is my favorite!! (and the van is…goodness gracious, he needs some help and I adore him. XD)


      OOOOH. Okay that is a very intriguing story! I’ve definitely met some super cool individuals at work or at restaurants, and I think it’s so cool how we can weave bits and pieces that we noticed from them into our stories! I just love that so much…

      Meep! Thank you SO much!!! This honestly made my day, and I cannot wait for you to be able to read it someday! Hopefully sooner than later, but publishing is a massive beast that I’m still learning how to slay. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are so welcome! And I adore all your replies (they make my day).

    About the waitress. I was stuck with my protag, Carla, for a minute. She was just…flat. And then, we went to Red Robin. Our waitress had dyed half her hair pink, and just had the vibe I was looking for (she will be put in the acknowledgements XD). When I changed Carla’s hair from silvery-purple to pink, she wrote so much easier. Who knew?

    And publishing definitely sounds intimidating, so you have my sword.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness! You know, I always knew there was a reason I gave people green hair… (specifically one character archetype that I was ADAMANT about adding into every single story I wrote. XD) 100% am in love with having a character named Carla with pink hair.

      EEP. I appreciate your sword very muchly!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. KENZIE, THIS SOUNDS SO AMAZINGGGGG. Just AHHHH. All the love! <3 <3 <3 An autumn setting, a minivan, Ed and Shelby (comic books!), found family, quirkiness…*squealing with happiness* This just sounds so AMAZING!

    (And *more squealing* you're thinking about indie publishing!!! I wish you all the best with whatever publishing path you travel, and I CANNOT wait to read your stories someday!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meep!! Thank you SO much, Amelie!!!! Your kind words honestly mean the world to me! I’m so so excited to start writing this book again. I have a feeling it’s going to be very much like slipping back home after a long, tiring day.

      (EEP!!! I know, right??? It’s a terrifying thought, but at the same time…exciting? An exciting terror, I suppose! XD)

      Liked by 1 person

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