Kenzie is a writer, blogger, full-time dreamer, and daughter of the King. With books in her hands and dragons in her pockets, her mission is to sprinkle the universe with pixie dust and whimsy. (and also cookies. all of the cookies.)
Recently I was contacted by the ever lovely, potentially magical Jenelle Schmidt in regards to The Silmaril Awards–a yearly blog event which is, essentially, a giant Oscars for Fantasy Characters. (why, yes, you did read that right. it is an OSCARS for FANTASY CHARACTERS. *initiate intense flailing*)
The Question: Would I help host one of the nomination categories for the Silm Awards this year?
The Answer: ASDFGHJKL OH MY GOODNESS YES SLDKFASDLFKVODKJSDOKJ THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE OH MY GOODNESS ME YESABSOLUTELY!!!!
…or something to that affect, anyway.
As far as the Silmaril Awards go, I’ve always seen it floating vaguely across the expanse of the blogosphere each year, but I’ve never really participated. That is, I haven’t participated until this year. Because now, not only am I participating, but I’m also one of the co-hosts, and–this is the best part, folks–I’m in charge of hosting the villains category!!!!
I won’t go into too much detail on all this amazingness today, but I do want to share a few important pieces of information regarding the awards and how to participate!
First of all, nominations for the awards officially open up on AUGUST 31, so if you’re like me and have a tendency to forget important dates such as this until, like, three weeks later, MAKE SURE TO WRITE THIS ONE DOWN. Put it in your planner. Mark it on your calendar. Make a reminder on your phone. I’ve done literally all three of these, and so help me if I forget it, I will physically eat my left foot.
You can find all of the hosting blogs in the graphic below, which was designed by Jenelle and is actually the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. (in case you guys can’t tell, I absolutely adore this girl. she’s the best and her books and posts literally never cease to make me smile and warm my heart, so if you haven’t started following her yet … do it. do it now.)
So on August 31st, make sure to swing by each of these blogs and nominate your favorite fantasy characters for every award! (I think that’s how this works, anyway. can you tell I’m a newb? *pats NEWB badge nicely*)
Second piece of exciting information: there’s actually going to be a BOOKSTAGRAM CHALLENGE (#SilmarilAwards2020) this year! I’m doubly excited for this one, because I’ve … actually never participated in an instagram challenge before? At least, I’ve never completed an instagram challenge. probably because I am actually just a very smol bean sprout growing in a garden and there’s extremely poor internet way out here, so.
But this time I’m going to be both participating AND completing, and I think we can all agree that this is a very big promise for the Queen of Procrastination and Anxiety, but I digress. IT SHALL HAPPEN. *shakes fist at sky*
For dates and prompts, check out the graphic below (also created by Jenelle, who I now believe is not only a smol magical fairy, but a graphic-making genius, as well):
The challenge runs from the 24th of August to the 4th of September, with breaks on the weekends. (which is good, because I’m gonna NEED those. XD) I’m already beginning to collect my notes and try to figure out which characters I want to screm about over on my instagram page (@thesmudgedthoughts), so if you’re not already following me over there, make sure to check my page out! It’s still very smol and cute, but eventually I want to start sharing more about my WIPs and my writing progress over there!
And I think that’s all I’ve got for now? I’ll try to keep you all posted on any new developments as they come, but for now you can find more information about the awards over on the official website!
talk to me, peasants!
EEP!! I am SO. INCREDIBLY. EXCITED. for this, you guys!!! Words literally cannot describe it. And I sincerely hope y’all will come and help vote in the most Nefarious Villain. It’s going to be AMAZING and I’m so ready for it!
Also a huge thank you to Jenelle for thinking of me when she needed another host?? Just….thank you. My heart is so full right now, and I’ve spent the last week preparing my guest room for all the villains who are undoubtedly going to become my new best friends. (this is going to be an AMAZING time, guys. seriously. I even baked cookies.)
I unfortunately don’t have any questions for today, but feel free to hit me up with all your recent writing/life-ish escapades! My next post is going to be filled with my OWN adventures, so … stay tuned for that, I guess. *sweats nervously*
Well, here we are! The post you’ve all been waiting for. I hinted last week two weeks ago now (lol, oops) that I had some exciting news to share, and this post right here is the one in which I spill the beans. *rubs hands together gleefully* I may or may not be a little too excited about this…
But anyway! Some of you may already know my news. Some of you may not. I’ve been trying to keep it a secret until this post could come out, but if you’re in my inner writing circle, you proooooobably already know what this is. Maybe. I don’t know for sure. But we’re all here today and I’m ready to finally–officially–announce it to the universe.
So here we go!
Here it comes…!
I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF PROJECT SUNSET!
Oh my goodness. OH MY GOODNESS. I can’t believe I’m actually typing these words right now! But it’s real and it’s true and I finished it! I mean, of course the first draft is kinda … you know … less than ideal. But it’s mine. This tiny child of trash and sunshine is mine, and oh, how I love it. It’s everything I never knew I wanted it to be and so much more. And–not to give spoilers away or anything–the last three chapters that I wrote almost made me cry.
Like actual, eye-burning, cheek-wetting tears. Of course, I was able to suck it up like a man and didn’t actually shed anything, but it was still really weird to have something that I wrote make me tear up. There was one specific moment where I literally shoved my laptop away from me in frustration (not from the writing itself, of course, but an event within the story that was … unexpected), and I’m pretty sure in that moment I realized how horrible of a human I truly am.
i’m sorry, my children…
It was, in a nutshell, an all around strange day.
But I digress! Now that the first draft is done, I’m forced to reflect on this project as a whole, and I just … what a whirlwind this story has been. I first began drafting this book in April of 2019, tried NaNo-ing it in November, scrapped the majority of what I’d written (with the exception of exactly two chapters), and then wrote 90,000 words during quarantine, with 60,000 of that being written in April alone.
Just… *head implodes* This has been a crazy experience. And today I’d like to share some of the whirlwind with you all! (and also some sneaky peeks into the story itself, but SHHHH. that’s a surprise.)
PROJECT SUNSET: THE FIRST DRAFT
Where to begin, where to begin. Project Sunset first came to me on a Saturday morning about two years ago, when I was reading through blog posts and thinking about basically nothing at all. I think that’s when the best ideas come to us, actually. Those spare snatches of time when our brains are filled with a blissful nothingness, perfectly open to whatever random, beautiful ideas may come knocking.
The idea for Project Sunset wasn’t my typical plot bunny, however. It wasn’t a scene or a character. Not a setting, a theme, or even a plot twist. Instead, it was a single, specific sentence. One sentence–a concept, really–so intriguing that the minute it fluttered into my brain, I knew there was no hope of shaking it.
In my experience, there are many forms of plot bunnies. Some of them are “maybes”, some of them “somedays”, and others are bunnies so floofy and smol that you just know this was a book you were always meant to write. It’s like it was designed for you, waiting for you to finally think the right thought to blossom it into existence. That’s what happened with The Dragon Elements. It’s what happened with everlost. And it’s what happened with this particular manuscript, as well. As soon as I had the idea, I knew that this was it. Project Sunset was supposed to be my next novel.
As with all things in my life, though, there were many detours along the way to this manuscript’s completion. But now, almost two whole years later, it is here–rough, choppy first draft though it may be. Project Sunset is written, and while I’m sure a road filled with excruciating editing is before me, I’m still so excited to be able to have something to edit. Something hard and concrete–more than just a few blank pages and an idea.
I won’t go into the details of the plot right now. (some things must still remain secret, of course! mwahahaha!) but–as promised–I will be sharing some snippets from the book! (but please keep in mind that this is VERY rough draft material. like, so rough it could probably impale you if you touch it. Ye’ve been warned.)
And for anyone who enjoys playlists, I’ve got one of those coming your way, as well! *thumbs up*
— SNIPPETS —
Ed woke up with a frown on his face. It was there when he first looked in the mirror as he rolled out of bed, there when he got dressed—his green-checked flannel shirt fit a little bit tighter around the middle than he remembered—there when he smoothed back the grey wisps of hair crowning his head, there when he yanked his cane off the hook on the wall and plunked it into the carpet, and there—more pronounced than ever before, shrouded beneath two thick grey eyebrows and one big, bulbous nose—when he finally found himself squished at the rickety table in Setting Suns’ sunlit dining hall between Samuel Plinkett and Eugene Crandall.
As it turned out, Eleanor was not joking about the ice cream. Much to Shelby’s shock and Ed’s very transparent, very audible displeasure, Carlos whipped Stanley’s van into the teeny parking lot of Mel’s Ice Cream Shack, nearly hitting a child on a glistening green tricycle in the process. The child, quickly attended to by his frantic mother, dropped his baby-sized mint chocolate chip ice cream cone and proceeded to promptly have a temper tantrum right in the middle of the parking lot. “Nasty kid,” Carlos muttered, jamming the stick into park and dislodging the key from the ignition. “Has no one taught him the rules of the road?” “He’s three years old, Carlos,” Eugene pointed out from the back seat. Now that Liam and Beau were absent, everyone fit perfectly on the back bench, and for the whole fifteen minute drive back to the city center, no one bothered to complain about the cramped quarters. The silence had nearly been deafening. “And I’d be willing to bet my left foot that he knows more about the rules of driving than you do,” Sam added. “Your left foot is the one with the fungus, right?” Eugene asked. “Yep.”
“What are you ladies getting up to over here?” Eugene sidled into the booth beside Shelby, handing her a slightly lopsided Super Mega Chocolate Fountain Sundae with a plastic spoon stuck into the side, its indent already dripping with gooey hot fudge and a few dislodged sprinkles. Shelby blinked down at the sundae, and her eyes caught on an already scooped out section, where someone had clearly taken a scoop and a bite. “Hey!” Shelby said. “You ate my ice cream!” Eugene licked hot fudge off his thumb and bit a section off his mint chocolate chip cone without acknowledging her. Eleanor and Juanita pulled apart begrudgingly as Sam puddled in beside Eugene, his hands cradled around a massive milkshake in a Styrofoam cup. “You two look like you’re scheming,” the old man said knowingly, draping his white cane across his knees. He pointed his milkshake towards them, jabbing the straw their way like an extendable finger. “Spill.” “We’re not scheming anything,” Eleanor answered. “We’re talking. There’s a difference.” “When two women get to talking, rarely anything good comes out of it,” Sam said, and shot Shelby a wink.
“You can’t just leave me here!” Shelby’s bare feet slapped across the kitchen floor after her brother, but Stanley was doing a fine job of ignoring her. Grabbing his wallet off the counter, he walked out of the kitchen without even bothering to glance her way. “Stanley!” Stanley sighed—she could see his shoulders rise and fall with it—but even though he spoke, he still didn’t turn to look at her. Maybe he couldn’t. “Shells… You know I don’t like being the bad guy, but—” “I wasn’t just wandering around!” Shelby argued. Plowing forward, she pushed herself in front of him and spun on her heel, forcing him to look at her. Or, at the very least, to stop walking. Stanley sighed again, and this time he turned his gaze out the front window. “Those people you were with—” “They weren’t trying to hurt me!” Shelby insisted. “They were protecting me!” The words slipped out before she could stop them, and she froze, her teeth chomping down on her bottom lip far too late. Now she’d done it… Stanley’s eyes met hers now. The confusion inside of them was tangible. “What?” “They wouldn’t hurt me,” Shelby repeated, dodging his question. “I know they wouldn’t. They’re kind.” “How much did you talk to them?” Stanley asked. “Shells, if you told them anything about us—” “Why are you so concerned about a bunch of old people?” Shelby asked. “You’re always telling me to make friends. I’m just doing what you wanted me to.” “Yeah, make friends with kids your age, not some crackpot band of old folks rotting away in a nursing home.” “Retirement village,” Shelby muttered. “Whatever.” Stanley waved her away. “People were talking about them, Shells. They were telling stories about the strange group at table two, and I just … I don’t want you hanging around with them anymore. I don’t trust them.”
Maria was late. Shelby had time to make popcorn and find the perfect angle of squish from the couch before the doorbell rang. Tossing a slightly burnt kernel into her mouth, she rolled her eyes. “COME IN!” she screamed, her voice rising above the television, which she’d cranked up to 20. Captain Blade reruns were supposed to be enjoyed at maximum volume—a fact her mother had taught her, and one that Stanley greatly disagreed with. Why was Maria even bothering to use the doorbell? She was always Shelby’s babysitter—not that she really needed one. Maria was more like a super cool older sister who typically barged right in, throwing assortments of chocolaty snacks and watercolor supplies everywhere with a soft, “Today—we create.” She was an amazing artist, and an even better friend—one who wouldn’t complain that Shelby’s breakfast of choice had been buttered popcorn—so it was no surprise that Stanley had a huge, secret crush on her. Of course, he denied it every time Shelby brought it up, but the beet redness of his cheeks was enough of a tip-off. And why else would he insist on Maria always coming over whenever he left? Shelby was almost twelve. She could totally take care of herself by now. The doorbell rang again. “COME IN!” Shelby screamed. This time she was positive her voice exceeded that of Captain Blade, who was mid-battle with a zombie from planet Gorgon. “THE DOOR’S UNLOCKED!” The doorbell chimed for the third time, and this time Shelby groaned, pulling herself off the couch with some difficulty. It was rare she was able to find the perfect amount of squish. She’d have to wriggle around for another thirty minutes just to find it again. Her bare feet padded across the wood floor, and she whipped the door open without thinking to check the front porch first. “The door was open,” she said, swinging it back so that a warm autumn breeze swept in. “Are your hands full or somethin—” Shelby stopped short. It wasn’t Maria standing on her front stoop. Short, beautiful Maria with the caramel skin and the hair that always seemed to be changing colors. It was a man. A tall, thin, horribly familiar looking man. “Well. I must say I was hoping you would have better manners for someone your age,” Casey said, staring down at her. He was neither smiling nor scowling. It was a sizing-you-up kind of stare. The kind that made Shelby’s heart drop like a stone. “You’ve been taking lessons from Sam and Eugene, no doubt.” Shelby’s fingers tightened against the door, but something kept her from slamming it closed in his face. She was frozen. Completely, utterly frozen. “Oh, come now, don’t look so frightened,” Casey said cheerfully. His voice was like a strange, methodical coo. “I’m not here to hurt you, my dear. Not yet, anyway. Aren’t you going to invite me in?” Shelby’s heart hammered against her ribs, and her eyes flicked out into the street. Please, please come, Maria. Please, please, please, please… “That won’t do you any good, Miss Westburn. Let’s just keep this little thing between you and me, yes? We wouldn’t want anything to happen to that special big brother of yours, now would we?” Shelby’s eyes widened. Stanley… “What…” Her voice cracked, and she tried again, forcing her legs to remain steady beneath her. “What do you want from me?” “Ah, nothing much, my dear. Nothing much at all.” Casey smiled at her now, and the sight was so warm and genuine that it almost had the reverse effect—it was cold and cruel and horrid and welcoming all at once. Slowly, he extended one wrinkled old hand towards her, veins flashing blue beneath the sunlight. “All I ask is that you come with me.”
I can’t remember if I’ve shared the playlist of this book before, but either way, I’m pretty sure there have been some new additions to the lineup. So, here’s the newest version of the Project Sunset playlist! (for all you peeps out there who enjoy listening to music…)
I also have a few songs that are “character specific”, so for anyone who’s into things like that, here are some of the songs which my darling have adopted for their own:
ED – Song for Ten
SHELBY – Song for Sienna
EUGENE – Honeycomb
LIAM – Time Warp
CARLOS AND JUANITA – Sway
CASEY – Who Wants To Live Forever
SAM – The Show Must Go On
Obviously I’ve left out some major factors of this book. The plot is still something that I’ve been meaning to tweak, the characters are still going by their pseudonyms rather than their actual titles, and there is–I’m not going to lie–something rather obvious that I’m not ready to share yet. But I’m so beyond excited to share this story with you all someday–because I WILL share the entirety of this story with you all someday–and when that time comes, I can’t wait to spill every single bean I’ve been collecting over the course of the past two years.
For today, however, I hope this is enough to tithe you over until the book is a little more polished and “shareable”!
talk to me, peasants!
Do you have any questions about Project Sunset? I can’t promise I’ll share ALL of the gory details, but I’m definitely open to answering any non-spoilery things!
How long does it typically take you to finish a first draft?
How long do you wait after finishing a first draft to dive into edits? I’m thinking I’m going to wait at least three months for this one, but I’m not entirely sure yet. (I may or may not have a smol goblin story that I want to write next, so we’ll see if that happens or not!)
Is there a particular character you would like to see interviewed for a sort of celebratory interview post? I’m open to anyone as long as we don’t pit Sam and Eugene together again. I don’t think I can handle that right now. XD
And most importantly…
WHICH SNIPPET WAS YOUR FAVORITE?
Assuming, of course, that you had a favorite. XD
As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below! And until next time…
As you may have noticed, I unwittingly disappeared from the blogosphere yet again. Am I proud of this? lol, nope. But sometimes life likes to give you a nice little drop-kick to the spleen, and that, my dear beans, is what happened this summer.
I’m pretty sure we can all agree that 2020 has been the year of unpredictability, but as much as I want to blame my inconsistencies on this year and all the horrors it has flung at us, I can’t. The truth is, the only person I can blame for my horrible habit of falling off the face of the earth time and again is myself. I’m the one not putting my whole self into blogging and writing and staying consistent. I’m the one who doesn’t even try to get organized, and therefore doesn’t have anything to post when Tuesday rolls around. I’m the one who needs to make some changes to the way I do things, and therefore, that is what I’m trying to do.
I know I said I have some news for you all this week, and that post will be coming out in a day or so. But today is for clarifying something that’s been heavy on my mind for quite some time:
I don’t know where this blog is going.
Have I mentioned this before? Maybe. I honestly don’t even remember. But the fact remains that I no longer know the direction in which to take this. When I first started out, it felt easy. Almost natural. Like blogging was a part of me that I hadn’t realized I’d been missing until I had it. But lately, blogging has felt less like a part of me that I’ve been missing, and more like a past part of myself I’m trying to hold on to.
Smudged Thoughts means so much to me, guys. I’m not sure if I can fully describe the extent of it. This blog is where I found my voice, where I stepped out of my shell and created a thing I’m proud of. It’s where I met my friends and released the side of myself that I’d been holding back for so long. The Kenzie you see standing before you today is here because of Smudged Thoughts. Had she not taken a leap of faith nearly four years ago and created this smol little chaos corner, I might be an entirely different creature.
Possibly a goblin. Or a unicorn.
But despite how much I love and cherish and adore this blog, even a dreamer like me has to admit that we sometimes outgrow things. Sometimes we have to give things up in order to have greater, grander opportunities present themselves. And this has been my conundrum–not for the past three weeks of my absence–but for the past few months.
Lately it feels like I keep rehashing the same old things. It feels like nothing is new anymore, and every post I write feels like an old outline recycled. And as someone who thrives on the new and the exciting and the adventurous . . . I don’t like this feeling. So I’ve been pondering, stewing, thinking over ways to fix this, and all the while, I keep disappearing from the internet without so much as a word of warning. And I hate that. I hate disappearing. I hate not being present in this beautiful community. I hate not feeling like I have the time to be a part of it, because in all actuality, I do have the time. I’m just not making it a priority.
And admitting that is like stabbing myself in the shin.
So I’ve been considering my options. I’ve been tossing them back and forth for the past few days especially, trying to determine how I want to move forward. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, actually. A lot of decisions have been made in the course of so little time that I’m quite literally shocked by the pile of them I now have sitting in the corner. But even as I type this, the truth of what I know I want becomes clearer. It’s just a matter of doing it that frightens me. Because I know–I know–what I must do. And I know that I’m going to fall again.
And probably again until I eventually land on the perfect, golden formula of time-management which constantly eludes me. But the truth is, no matter how much I may think it’ll be easier just to give up blogging in its entirety, just to have the fear of failure no longer sweating over my back, I can’t. I love it too much. I love my corner of the internet too much. And I love this community too much, even if I haven’t been as big a part of it lately as I’ve wanted to be.
But what I said about outgrowing things is still true, which is why I’m taking the plunge and–with any luck–changing some things up around here. I want to talk about books more. Good books, especially. Which is why–in the coming months–you might be seeing more reviews from me. But I also want to talk about writing and life, as well. Because being a writer isn’t all there is to living. There are so many adventures to be had out in this great and crazy world, and I want to go out and seize them. And I want to share my journey into the writing and publishing world with you all.
So even though I’ve been disappearing, Smudged Thoughts is sticking around, even if I have the occasional slip-up. Who knows if I’ll fall off the face of the earth again, but if I do, know that I will keep coming back.
Again and again and again.
talk to me, peasants!
Well, I’m back. This wasn’t exactly the post I’d planned to publish today, but then again, plans have never been my strong suit. XD I’m not really sure what to ask for questions, though, so we’ll just go with something random.
If there is one post you’d like to see from me in the future, what is it, and why?
I currently have a few posts already planned or in the works, so let’s see if I can actually keep my head this time around…
As always, let’s talk about ALL of the things in the comments below! And until next time–because there will be a next time…
There is so much I want to tell you, Cyberspace. So, so much has been happening in my life–which is probably why you haven’t been seeing me around here very much lately–but I’m finally ready to come back and tell you.
Hello, Cyberspace! This is just gonna be a quick little post to help promote a 12-hour read-a-thon/fundraiser hosted by my lovely friends, Ally and Stassia, tomorrow afternoon at 12 pm EST! All donations received during the read-a-thon will go towards building a group home for orphans in North Macedonia, and the book they’re reading–My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry–looks absolutely adorable, and I just. . .!!! I am so excited for this, guys, you have no idea.
If you want to find out more about the read-a-thon, you can do so here. And if you’re interested in the overall project of building a home for orphans in North Macedonia, then you can find information about that and how to help on this page right here!
And for anyone interested in following along with the read-a-thon tomorrow, here’s the link to the youtube channel where the read-a-thon will be held!
(also also also, that amazing graphic up there was made by Stassia, and I just. . .??? IT IS GORGEOUS??? Please teach me your skill, girl, because my graphics are never this amazing. XD)
But anyway, I think that’s everything! If I remember something I forgot to include, I’ll pop it into an edit later. XD Wishing you all the bestest of Wednesdays and the most beautiful of weeks. . .!
Remember a few weeks ago when I helped reveal the cover for Jenelle Schmidt’s newest release, An Echo Of The Fae? Well, today I was given the chance to go even deeper into the creation of this story! I’ve never really been part of a book release tour before, but if there is one book that I seriously want to help boost out there in the great, wide Cyberspace, it is this one.
I was initially supposed to do an author interview/book review post today, but because Life is a cruel mistress and Time hates my guts, I am unable to do the review portion today. I will, however, be posting that in the near-ish future, so please stay tuned for that! (seriously. y’all NEED to read this book.)
But, despite my inability to complete my tasks on time, I still have an absolutely LOVELY author interview to share with you all today! And I am so so excited for you to read it, because–as I’ve mentioned before, and as I shall keep mentioning until it is known world-wide–Jenelle is literally the Fairy Godmother of Indie Publishing. She is an absolutely hUGE inspiration to me in my own writing journey, and I am so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know her better over the course of the past year or so.
(not to mention we actually KNOW PEOPLE IN EACH OTHER’S IRL CIRCLES??? the world is eerily small sometimes, my dudes. XD)
So when the chance came for me to help promote her book and interview her on ALL OF THE WRITERLY things, I couldn’t pass up the chance. I still have a multitude of things I’m going to have to pick her brain on in the future, but for today, allow me to introduce you to our first ever Smudged Thoughts Author Interview!
(I feel so profesh now. look at me, guys, I’ve actually interviewed a real-life author!!! …ahem. moving on.)
LET’S CHAT!: featuring Jenelle Schmidt
Kenzie: Good morning, cyberspace, and welcome back to yet another episode of LET’S CHAT! This is a very special episode, however, for today, our interviewee is actually alive.
*collective gasp from the crowd*
Kenzie: I know. It’s quite shocking even to me. So before our lovely star has a chance to completely rethink this entire decision, let’s dive right into the interview! Ladies and gents, boys and girls, let’s give a giant, warm welcome to the one–the only—Jenelle Schmidt!
Kenzie: First thing’s first, our first question! How do you balance family and overall chaotic crazy Life-ish-ness with your writing life/goals and dreams? (I would absolutely love to hear how you juggle family and life with writing and blogging and just ALL OF THE THINGS, because you are a huge authorly inspiration to me, not gonna lie.)
Jenelle: Aww, well, thanks!
Balance is always a hard thing to find, and it’s not always easy to keep things properly balanced. I will be the first to admit that there are many things to do, and at any given time in my life, there’s at least one important thing that’s not getting done or being neglected.
Usually it’s house work.
Pretty much always house work, actually. And sometimes it’s cooking. We probably eat take-out more often than we ought to. Which is a bummer, because I actually like cooking and am pretty good at it.
But, that aside, there are a few things I do that I think help me.
God comes first. When I slack off in reading my Bible or spending time in prayer, everything else in my life suffers. Usually, when things begin to tip out of balance, this is the reason. I’m not making time in my day for my Lord and Savior, and that throws all the rest of the things out of whack.
Limit time on social media. This one has been a major problem for me the past few months during the quarantine, and my time on social media definitely got way out of balance, which meant that a lot of other things did not get done in a timely fashion… or at all. So it was a good reminder and wake-up call to set limits on how much time I spend on social media.
Protect your writing time and do whatever you need in order to make sure that time is spent writing. This is a two-fold key, because when those moments come that you’ve set aside for writing, you have to be proactive to make sure that you actually WRITE during that time. Don’t let other things get in the way. If you know you’ll be distracted by a messy house, make sure you do your cleaning before you get to your writing time, otherwise you’ll spend your writing time cleaning! (And nobody wants to do that!)
I also have a super incredibly amazing supportive husband who loves my stories and loves the fact that I’m an author and helps make sure that I get time to work on my writing.
Kenzie: Oh my word, I LOVE this answer!!! I definitely need to start limiting my social media time, as well. (specifically youtube…aha.) And THANK YOU for mentioning the part about putting God first. That is such a crucial point and I feel like it really needs to be discussed more…
Kenzie:What does your writing process typically look like on a day-to-day basis? (I’m probably being kind of selfish, here, because I absolutely love insider looks into author lives.)
Jenelle: I’m never quite sure how to answer this question. I just… erm… write. I open my computer, pull up my document, and pick up where I left off. (If I’ve been consistent and disciplined, I don’t even have to re-read much of what I wrote before… though lately so much time has passed between writing sessions because of getting ready for this release that my other projects have suffered a little).
I used to be a revise-while-you-draft writer, where I would spend a couple of hours writing, then the next day I would start out by going over what I had written the day before, editing and tweaking before moving on to write new stuff, but then I discovered the amazingness that is word sprints (thank you, Anne Elisabeth Stengl!) and ever since then, I have implemented those into my writing process with a lot of success. I don’t do much revising or editing when I’m drafting now, though I definitely do a lot more outlining!
I tend to have a very basic overall outline for the story, and then as I’m writing I’ll create more detailed outlines for the next scene or the next several scenes so that I know my next immediate destination with regards to the overall plot, and then I write as fast as I can to get there.
Kenzie: *INTENSE FLAILING* WORD SPRINTS!!!! YES!!! I absolutely ADORE those, as well! Goodness, next time I’m going to have to ask you about your outlining process. I definitely need help, there. XD
And finally: they say that each new book teaches you something new. Did this particular novel teach you something about writing/your creative process that you hadn’t yet realized?
Jenelle: Yes! An Echo of the Fae taught me a lot of things. But the thing it taught me the most was the beauty of creating something with my Creator. I really feel that God laid this story on my heart, and He was with me every step of the way throughout the entire process. I didn’t write a single scene without talking to Him about it first.
If you haven’t read Allen Arnold’s “The Story of With” I highly recommend you get a copy of the audio book and give it a listen. (Or you could read it, but the audio book is fantastic). It’s a book about what it can look like when you choose to pursue your creative identity with and for God, rather than for yourself or for the acclaim of the world. It’s one of the things that has been extremely inspirational in my own life over the past couple of years.
Why do I bring this up, a book recommendation sort of randomly in the middle of my answer to this question? Well, I felt like the things I learned while listening to The Story of With sprang to life in my own creative process as I wrote An Echo of the Fae. It was a transforming experience, and one that I am sure I will have to relearn again and again. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the same sort of writing experience I had while writing Echo… but I’m glad I got to experience it once.
Kenzie: …I absolutely love this, and am totally checking out that book now. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Jenelle! All of your answers were so inspiring and helpful, and I cannot WAIT for the world to meet Echo!
Kenzie: As for the rest of you, don’t forget to snag your own copy of this amazing book over on Amazon, and also make sure to check out this post right here over on Jenelle’s blog to find the rest of the blog tour stops! There’s an insta challenge and a TON of fun content coming your way, so head on over to Jenelle’s site so you don’t miss anything!
Kenzie: As always, let us talk about ALL OF THE THINGS!! down in the comments below, and until next time. . .
Kenzie:*flings cookies in the air and disappears*
talk to me, peasants!
GUYS!!!! AN ECHO OF THE FAE IS OFFICIALLY OUT IN THE UNIVERSE!!!! I am so impossibly exited about this, and I can’t wait to get my own copy… Having this book on my shelf is going to be my reward for finishing my own novel, methinks. XD
But anyway!!! Questions!!!
how do you balance life and family and the overall chaotic craziness of existing with your writerly dreams?
have you ever read The Story of With? (I’m gonna be checking my library for this as soon as I can. It sounds like a book I’m desperately in need of right now…)
do YOU like writing with word sprints? (if not, you should really try it. I’m gonna form a word sprint club that meets every Monday night. I’ll bring the cookies and the punch. XD)
And finally, most important of all–
ARE YOU GOING TO READ ECHO?????
I am ridiculously excited about this book, guys. I don’t think I’ve been as excited for a new release since The Boy Next Story came out last year. XD But anyway. I DIGRESS.
As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down below, and until next time. . .
Today’s post is one that I am v e r y excited about, my friends. Recently I read a post from my enviously talented friend, Kate, in which she went through her blog search histories and commented on all the weird and wacky searches that brought slightly grammatically challenged Googlers to her blog. As she said in her post, this is something that Cait from Paper Fury has done on numerous occasions in her monthly recaps, and something that I–inspired by Cait–have also done in the past. (I’m a pirate, what can I say. [although one could argue that it’s not true piracy when I blatantly admit that the idea is 100% not my own? but whatever. LET ME BE A PIRATE, PEASANTS!!!!])
Ahem. Moving on.
Today, as you could probably guess, I’m going to be reacting to my most recent search histories! I feel like a sufficient amount of time has passed for me to have some decent pileage to sift through, so without further ado, let’s crack open that Search Terms bar and find some things to comment on!
— FALLING DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE: reacting to my blog search histories —
i. gif of wicked witch of the west saying curses
Um. . .? I’m not entirely sure why this particular search brought you to my blog, but I think I may know what you’re looking for.
There you go. It’s always my goal to make sure my readers are taken care of.
ii. the pros and cons of the boy from wonder going to school // pros and cons of the book wonder // what were the cons and pros of august of wondergoing to school // strength and weakness of the book wonder // pros and cons of auggie going to school // what are some cons of auggie going to school
Fun Fact: I definitely don’t know what the pros and cons are for August Pullman going to school in the book Wonder. But I can definitely tell you some cons to writing a pro/con review of the book Wonder!
Con #1 – THIS.
iii. super villian cliches
Okay, so technically I wrote a whole post about Villain Cliches about three thousand years ago (it was initially going to be part of a series, but . . . lol. that has unfortunately not happened yet), but holy guacamole. I never even thought about doing supervillain cliches???
Someone get on this. I need this list in my life STAT.
iv. reviews of amazingflings.com
Uh . . . okay, so I have absolutely no clue what this website is, and honestly, I’m a little scared to look?
*one google search later*
Aha. Okay. So to save you the trouble of googling this and having it forever scarred in your search history (as it is now in mine), I’m just going to put it politely and say that it looks like a “dating app”. But since you’re apparently here for a review on this particular website, allow me to give you what you came for.
— KENZIE’S REVIEW OF NOT SO AMAZING FLINGS —
CONS — this site exists
OVERALL OPINIONS — Don’t use this website. It’s creepy and looks like something my great uncle Carl would use to try and find his next serial murder victim.
v. otp writing challenge
Yesssssss!!! This challenge was SO much fun to do! I highly recommend it to any writer out there looking for a fun, easy post to draft. Of course, my version of this tag was slightly weird because I *cough* don’t write romance, but you can still check it out right here if you’re interested!
vi. bookpub a scam
I believe we’re missing an important ‘is‘ in there, and the answer to that is YES. Anything with the word ‘pub’ in it sounds like a scam to me. (although this is coming from the girl who thought the NaNoWriMo site was going to give her a virus, so….?)
Now, if you were asking me about bookbub, on the other hand . . . then the answer to that is probably still a yes. I wouldn’t trust it.
Be safe, people. Scams are everywhere.
vi. an experiment is a beautiful thing it is an adventure
Oh my word, I wholeheartedly agree with your rather strangely worded and grammatically incorrect sentence! (there should be a semi-colon in there, friend.) But I digress. An experiment IS a beautiful thing, and it is most certainly an adventure. What a wonderful way to phrase that!
vii. am ia pile of disappointment
Well then. This is probably the saddest search term I have in my inbox.
No, friend. You are most definitely NOT a pile of disappointment. And I sincerely hope that if this search term really and truly did bring you to my blog, that you come away from my posts with a smile on your face and the knowledge that you’re worth more than diamonds and rubies and the whole force of a dragon’s hoard.
Whatever made you google this, just know that it does get better eventually. Okay? Okay.
. . . and lastly, our final search term of the day. . .
viii. smudged thoughts
AHA!!! See??? At least someone knows what to put into Google to find some quality content.
Whoever did this, you’re my new favorite. <333
talk to me, peasants!
And there you have it, friends! This post is rather short and sweet, I know, but there have been Things going on in my life–things to prepare for, things to do, things to REMEMBER–and I’ve just kinda been hiding from the internet like the scared little chameleon that I am. This is what happens when I get stressed out, apparently. I HIDE. (does anyone else do this? No? Just me? Okay then…)
But anyway! On to the questions!:
what is the weirdest search you’ve ever found in your history?
have you ever read the book Wonder? and if so, DO YOU KNOW THE PROS AND CONS OF HIM GOING TO SCHOOL? because I seriously get like eight of these every month, apparently.
have you ever tried bookpub (or even bookBUB), and is it a scam? the public needs to know.
And lastly, most important of all–
DO YOU KNOW OF ANY SUPERVILLAIN CLICHES????
Because holy guacamole that would be so much fun to draft. . . *eyes messy drafts folder warily*
As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below! And until next time. . .
Today I’m coming at you all with a book review, which–in case you’re kinda confused with all the general bookishness that I’m flinging at you this month–has absolutely nothing to do with the book cover that I helped reveal last week. (however, if you’re interested in beautiful covers and want to join me in my mass excitement for Jenelle Schmidt’s new release coming out later this month, GO CHECK THAT SMUDGE OUT, PEASANTS!)
However, sallying forth, let’s talk about The Girl And The Witch’s Garden!(a.k.a. the novel I shall be providing a non-spoilery review for today!)
(special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher–Simon and Schuster–for sending me a free e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review!!)
THE GIRL AND THE WITCH’S GARDEN – A BOOKISH BEANS REVIEW
Mallory Estate is the last place twelve-year-old Piper Peavey wants to spend her summer vacation. The grounds are always cold, the garden out back is dead, a mysterious group of children call the property home, and there’s a rumor that Melena M. Mallory—the owner of the estate and Piper’s wealthy grandmother—is a witch.
But when Piper’s father falls ill, Mallory Estate is exactly where she finds herself.
The grand house and its garden hold many secrets—some of which may even save her father—and Piper will need to believe in herself, her new friends, and magic if she wants to unlock them before it’s too late.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
SO. I’m going to be perfectly blunt here and say that this particular novel was . . . not exactly what I expected when I requested the arc for it. I’m sure this is yet another prime example of judging a book by its cover, but looking at the adorable illustration pictured above, I was expecting something soft and whimsical and–dare I say it–childish between the pages. That’s what I love most about Middle Grade, after all. Of course it has deep themes and hard truths of life and all that “fun stuff” about what it’s like living through your Youngin’ Years, but there’s also a simplicity and innocence lurking there, as well–something that Young Adult novels are strikingly without.
However, this book in particular felt more like a read for fans of the Percy Jackson series than fans ofThe Girl Who Drank The Moon, if that makes any sense. Whereas they’re both Middle Grades with an emphasis on magic and the fantastical, they both have drastically different tones to them.
HOWEVER! That being said, this is definitely not a bad thing and should not be taken as a knock against this book! Despite the fact that it wasn’t the tone I was initially anticipating (something that is entirely my fault), I still thought this book was very well done.
The theme, in particular, stands out as one of this book’s shining qualities. For one thing, it is deep for a children’s book. Not in a “this is gonna fly right over this kid’s head” kind of way, but in a “this is something that kids should really have more access to/conversation about” kind of way. It was nice to see a topic of such importance handled with such grace and tact, and I truly believe that somewhere out there, there’s a child who will benefit greatly from having a book with this particular message in their life. (not to mention that it IS filled with magic and wonder and enchantments, which is clearly what all of us readers are here for anyways, amiright? XD)
While the theme may have been my favorite aspect of this book, the characters were probably my least favorite. (which sounds harsh, but I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds.) Actually, the more I think about it, I’m not entirely sure whether it was the characters or the plot which fell a little flat for me–in some ways I think it might have been a mixture of the two working together–but there was definitely something about this novel that felt . . . “off”.
Our main protagonist, Piper Peavey, started off with quite a bit of promise. And for the most part, she was a likable protagonist. She was smol and young and sassy–a beautiful combination, truly–but as the story progressed, she began to develop a trait which I’m seeing more and more in the fiction world, and one that I just canNOT get behind, no matter how many times it crops up: lying.
My goodness, if there is one thing we can change in the future years of the publishing industry, can it PLEASE be the storylines that revolve around lies? Like??? Please??? I can’t even tell you how many books I have read that have “conflicts” which could easily be resolved in three minutes flat if the characters would just TALK to one another openly and honestly. I’ve actually considered flinging books at the wall because the characters are acting like utter imbeciles.
But I digress. These characters were not quite as bad as that, and the adorable motley crew of children living at Mallory Estate were, as a matter of fact, my favorite characters of the bunch. Especially Teddy and Kenji. (which is probably why it bothered me so much that Piper, who had JUST MET THESE SMOL PRECIOUS BEANS, started lying to them, even if I can understand the reasoning behind her secrecy.)
If you’ve been a reader of my blog for any length of time, you’ll already know that characters MAKE a story for me. Plot is important, of course, but if your characters are flat, chances are I won’t enjoy your story, even if it IS the coolest concept I’ve ever seen. So, with that being said, I truly believe that the smol beans of Mallory Estate brought the story together in a way that wouldn’t have otherwise happened had they not been included in the cast.
Piper’s grandmother, on the other hand . . . well, she’s part of the reason the story felt a bit off, simply because her and her daughter’s character arcs felt slightly unnatural and forced. (Sophia Peavey, especially, was a bit of a disappointment as far as character development goes. I didn’t really understand the reasoning behind her choices, even at the resolution of the story. it felt inorganic, in a way. definitely unnatural for the woman I had initially believed her to be, but maybe that was the point. . .?)
Overall, if I can stop thinking about the plot and characterization from a writer’s perspective and view it as a reader simply looking for a good dose of the fantastical, I can honestly say I found this book to be a rather pleasant read. I wouldn’t say it’s an absolute favorite, but for readers looking for a sweet, enchanting Middle Grade novel with deep themes of love, loyalty, and family, I’d definitely recommend giving The Girl and the Witch’s Garden a try!
talk to me, peasants!
Have you read any particularly good middle grade novels recently? (I’m currently trying to devour as many of these as I possibly can for some reason?? Middle grade is SPEAKING to me right now, and I think I’d like to try my hand at writing one someday…? *hint hint*)What kinds of themes do you like to see in books? Soft themes? Deep ones? And do you prefer softer, more whimsical MG novels(like The Girl Who Drank The Moon), or more hardcore fantastical ones(like Percy Jackson)?
And most importantly of all. . .
IS IT BAD THAT I’VE NEVER READ PERCY JACKSON?
I feel like not reading this book is semi-akin to the sin which is never-having-read Harry Potter. So. Tell me if this is something that needs to change immediately. XD
As usual, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below, and until next time. . .
Today, I have a very, very, very, very exciting post for you all! Recently, Jenelle Schmidt–author of The Minstrel’s Song series, ‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem, and many other delightful books which you can find right here–sent out a call for bloggers to help spread the word about her newest release–an original fairytale titled An Echo Of The Fae. And I–being the very lucky bean that I am–was able to sign up to help out with the cover reveal!!
(and also the actual book release, but shhh. you’ll hear more about that later. . .!)
Obviously, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I absolutely adore Jenelle. She’s like the fairy godmother of indie publishing, and her Self-Publishing Summer School series is something that I think every aspiring author should read–especially if you, like me, are interested in learning more about the indie side of publishing. So when I discovered that I actually had the chance to help celebrate the release of her newest book baby, I was over the moon excited.
And I’m possibly even MORE excited for you guys to see this cover today!!! I don’t even know the right words to describe it. Whimsical? Enchanting? Absolute perfection in every way? I’m honestly squealing just looking at it in my email. Which DEFINITELY ISN’T WEIRD AT ALL, HOW DARE YOU.
Ahem. So I should probably share it with you all now, right? Right. I’m pretty sure that’s how a cover reveal works. . . *laughs nervously*
All right, folks! Without any further ado, allow me to introduce you to the absolutely stunning cover for An Echo of the Fae!
Echo enjoys the peace and solitude of the Faeorn forest, regardless of how strange spending time in the “haunted” wood seems to others.
But on the cusp of her thirteenth birthday, the discovery of a family secret reveals why Echo has never been drawn to the sea like her mother. This discovery shakes the foundations of her world and sends Echo on a quest, not merely into the forest, but into the heart of the fae-lands themselves, to rescue the sister she didn’t know existed.
Elves, dragons, and fairy courts will put Echo’s wit and resolve to the test. But with time running out for her sister, will Echo even be able to save herself?
A fairytale adventure perfect for fans of The Secret of Roan Innish and The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
PRAISE FOR AN ECHO OF THE FAE
“Enthralled by the terror, charm, riddles, and beauty of a richly depicted fae world, I devoured this marvelous book in two sittings! Readers of all ages will love Echo, a heroine strong in her weakness, clever and resolute amid her doubt and fear. An Echo of the Fae is sure to satisfy lovers of adventure and faery!” — J.M. Stengl, author of The Faraway Castle Series
OH. MY. GOODNESS. First of all, let’s talk about the cover, shall we? Because is this the most beautiful cover in the whole entire universe, or what? The font. The forest. The whole enchantment of it all. . . I am literally in love with this cover, okay? I’ve been squealing ever since I found it in my inbox.
BUT CAN WE ALSO TALK ABOUT THAT BLURB, THOUGH??? I don’t know about you guys, but this sounds like it’s going to become one of my all-time favorite books of ever. It has the makings of everything I absolutely adore in a book–a precious protagonist, mysterious fae, creepy forests, FAIRYTALES. Not only that, but it’s geared towards 12-to-13-year olds, and that’s kind of where I’m finding my reading tastes to be leaning towards lately???
(I’m not entirely sure what this means for my mental state, but it’s fine. I’m sure this is perfectly normal for a twenty-year-old.)
So yeah. Suffice to say, this is a book that I am very excited about. Later this month I’ll be back with my full–hopefully non-spoilery–review of this book, but until then, allow me to leave you with a beautiful snippet from this beautiful book!
A SNIPPET FROM AN ECHO OF THE FAE
My earliest memory returns often in my dreams. My mother’s soft smile caresses me as she bends down to kiss my forehead, my own tiny hand reaching up and trying to capture a lock of her long red-gold hair between clumsy fingers that refuse to obey my wish. A soft, sweet humming fills the memory, a tune that is both dear and yet unfamiliar. Eyes filled with love gaze down at me, and a gentle laugh, a man’s laugh, fills the room. Strong arms encircle us both, my mother and me, and I know I am perfectly safe. Perfectly loved.
Another sound permeates the memory: a rhythmic, rushing, liquid sound I do not recognize, but which fills me with a deep longing that threatens to burst out of my chest and leave me completely hollow. In the dream, it is merely a subtle noise in the background, but when I wake I feel a desperate need to find its source. Sometimes the longing clutches me so tightly that it leaves me gasping, desperately sucking in each breath as if through a narrow reed, my lungs screaming as though they have forgotten how to breathe the very air I need to survive.
It is rare to have a memory from such a tender age, especially one so vivid. And yet, that moment is locked in my thoughts with perfect clarity. During the day it grows distant and faded, but it has haunted my sleep in full, vibrant detail each night for nearly thirteen years.
So why is it that the face in my dreams is wholly unfamiliar to me? Why is the mother from my memory a stranger?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenelle first fell in love with stories through her father’s voice reading books aloud each night. A relentless opener-of-doors in hopes of someday finding a passage to Narnia, it was only natural that she soon began making up fantastical realms of her own. Jenelle currently resides in the wintry tundra of Wisconsin—which she maintains is almost as good as Narnia—with her knight-in-shining armor and their four adorable hobbits. When she is not writing, she homeschools said hobbits and helps them along on their daily adventures… which she says makes her a wizard.
Follow Jenelle around the interwebs to get news about latest releases and her writing adventures:
is anyone else super excited about the arrival of this book? I have had SO MUCH FUN getting to be a part of this cover reveal, but I’ll be honest–it’s making me super impatient for this book to be released. XD Only 19 more days until it’s out in the universe and I can squeal about it without worrying about spoilers!!! MEEP!
what sorts of things compose your favorite kinds of books? For me it’s a mixture of the fantastical, the whimsical, and the strange. Fairytales are a wonderful example of this, which is probably why I love them so much. . .
and most important of all. . .
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS GORGEOUS COVER???
I’ve seen a lot of covers in my day, but my goodness. This probably has to be one of my personal favorites.
As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below! And until next time. . .
Today, my dearest peasants, is a day of pure celebration. For today is the day in which I post Smudged Thoughts’ 200th blog post!
I honestly can’t believe we’ve made it this far, guys. Smudged Thoughts started out as just a smol little hobby of mine in 2016, but since then I feel as though it’s grown into so much more. It’s become my safe space, my tiny corner of the internet in which I can scream and rant and fangirl about all of the writerly/bookish things. And over the past 3+ years, I’ve found community here on the blogosphere. It’s been a wonderful, beautiful, magical ride, and I wouldn’t trade away these past three–almost four!–years for anything in the world.
So today, in honor of our 200th blog post and all the wonderful peeps I’ve met here on the blogosphere, I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to do a tag!
But not just ANY tag, however. This tag in particular was created by the ever mischievous, forever enchanting Jem Jones, who just so happens to be one of my favorite humans on this whole entire earth. (hint: this means you definitely need to go follow her blog, peasants.) Secondly, it’s a tag about other bloggers–specifically the blogs and bloggers that influenced us in our blogging/creative journeys. And if THAT doesn’t sound like the perfect way to honor my life here on the blogosphere, then I don’t even know what is.
Unfortunately, I cannot, however, don my spare ski mask and eye-patch and become the thieving pirate burglar that I’ve always dreamed of for this tag, because Jem was an absolute dear and ACTUALLY TAGGED ME FOR THIS. So alas. I’m doing this, not under the guise of piracy, but with a gentle pat on the head and a soft, “Hey, Kenzie, you should totally do this tag!”
Very disgruntling, I can assure you.
But I digress. If you are reading this and find I did not tag you, BY ALL MEANS please tag yourself and go for it! This tag actually takes your answers and turns them into the taggees, which I find a very delicious concept.