SUN

I wonder if the sun ever has a bad day.
If its alarm clock goes off
And it rolls over in bed
And that sinking pit develops in its stomach
As it remembers all of the wrong which occurred the day before.

I wonder if it considers simply never getting up.
If it would rather stay indoors
And wrap itself up in a nice cozy blanket
And eat some ice cream to feel better for three minutes
And then guilty for twenty.

I wonder if it asks the moon for just a few more hours
Minutes
Seconds
So that it doesn’t have to face the pain of simply existing
Anymore.

But then I remember
That even after the hard days
The tough days
The days that make me wish there were no more days to follow
The sun continues to rise
And pull itself out of bed
And brush its teeth
And hang itself nicely in the sky
So that it can smile down on me
And remind me that there’s still a little patch of good left in this world.

And if
Even after the bad days
The sun can continue to rise
Then I suppose I can try
To get up after the hard days
Too.

twenty-one

Twenty-one is such a funny age, isn’t it?
It’s poetry and ink-stained fingers
Hopeful eyes and broken dreams.
And yet
Scattered throughout the pages of this chapter
There is a wish
A dream
A captured breath
That says maybe, just maybe
What I’ve wanted all along will come to be.

I’m older and wiser than I was at seventeen.
Stronger and fiercer than ever.
My dreams are clutched tight in both hands
And this time I refuse to let them slip through like water.
This time I will release them into the air
One by one
Watch them sprout wings and fly
Flutter through the wind like dragonflies.
And maybe
Just maybe
They will come back to me
Land on my fingers and tell me stories of faraway lands
And long-lost hopes now forgotten.
They will tell me to wish upon a burning star
And continue to dream the most dangerous dreams.

Because the only dreams worth chasing
Are the ones with the potential to break you.

The 2020 Silmaril Awards – Awards Ceremony for Most Nefarious Villain

The Smudged Thoughts’ studio is eerily quiet. Darkness curls around its edges, shrouding the room in a thick blanket that’s nearly suffocating. Feet rustle in the stands. Someone munches on popcorn in the darkness.

A voice near the very back mumbles a grumpy “are you sure we’re in the right place?” to its companion, who hushes him almost immediately.

The time is exactly midnight, and the anticipation of the crowd is palpable. They know why they have gathered. They know what is to come.

Read More »

NaNoWriMo 2020: Should You Participate?

good morning, cyberspace!

That title is unapologetically clickbait and NO. I shall not change it. Mwahahahahaha. *coughs and adjusts the neck of my cape awkwardly* Ahem.

So as you can probably tell from the subtle bite in the air, October is quickly approaching. Or approaching as quickly as anything is expected to approach this year, which means that time is completely irrelevant and doesn’t exist. We could wake up to a fierce December snowstorm tomorrow and no one would bat an eye. But I digress. October is coming, and with it comes preptober, and for any well-worn NaNo veteran, you know exactly what this means:

The screaming.

The hair-pulling.

The sleep-deprivation.

NaNoWriMo is nigh upon us, my friends. And this year–not for the last time–I’m questioning whether or not to participate. And since I know for a fact that I’m not the only writer pondering this *waves happily at my writing group* I thought it would be fun to go over some of the pros and cons of NaNoWriMo that will more or less affect my decision on whether or not to participate.

Whether or not you choose to participate this year is completely up to you, of course, and I’m not here to sway you to either side–though you would think that is the purpose of this post. Some of the things that I consider cons might be meaningless to you, and that is perfectly okay. We’re all friends here. We can settle our differences over pitchfork battles and tea.

But before we start sharpening our blades, let’s discuss the actual pros and cons.

Read More »

TO THE DREAMERS – a letter from me

“If I see you still working here in another five years, you might as well quit writing. Because at that point it’s clearly not for you.”

Ah. Words. Such funny little things, aren’t they? Sometimes I really love words, and sometimes–sometimes–I really, REALLY hate them.

This sentence in particular makes my very skin fibers tingle with self-righteous anger. Firstly, because the mere thought of someone putting a time limit on another’s success makes me furious. And secondly, because this very sentence was aimed directly at me a few months ago.

But in order to tell the story properly, we must first go back a few months to a drizzly February day. This day in particular hadn’t been the best thus far, mostly because I was nursing a horrid head cold which would later dissolve into the flu. But I digress. It’s February. It’s drizzly. And an older gentleman has just waltzed up to my counter.

The man seemed mild, at first. A quiet sort, with one of those “knowledgeable” voices that makes you automatically grin and nod because anything else is going to start a debate. (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are l u c k y.) He also had a head full of questions. Something I found out the hard way as he started badgering me with them relentlessly. Under the disguise of harmless checkout chatter (something the employers are constantly trying to strangle out of us), I did not foresee what was happening until we were already knee-deep into the dark, tumultuous waters of dangerous conversation.

He found out I like to write.

This, of course, has never been something I’ve kept hidden. I will forever scream at the universe that I–the great and powerful Kenzie–love to write. Fiction, blogging, some weird little poems that will never see the light of day. . . You’ll know I like to write, all right, but actually getting to see some of my work will be where the main hassle lies.

But this kind soul did not have any interest in seeing my work. Instead, he wanted to impart on me his wisdom.

And hoo boy, did he have some wisdom to share. . .

As fate would have it (I despise you, Fate), he was a writer, too! What were the odds? He then proceeded to tell me about his own writing adventures–about how he’d sent out his own work to a local, trusted librarian, and how I should do that with my writing, as well, because it’s what Stephen King suggested people do with their writing. Getting feedback was important. It was necessary.

He then completely ignored the fact that I was–at the moment–rounding up beta readers for my novel.

He also said I should attend a writing conference.

What was holding me back, aside from the cost? Taking care of a bird? Don’t let the bird stop me. You only get one chance at life, you know.

Oh, I hoped to go someday? When is someday? Someday is going to slip me by, because I’ll keep saying “I’ll do it someday” my entire life until I die.

50 cent laughing GIF

All throughout this exchange, I was trying my best to view his additions to the conversation in a positive light. Perhaps this is God sending me someone to get me thinking about my books and career after such a long hiatus in December, I thought, whipping out one of our store bags to start bagging up his merchandise. Perhaps this is the push I need to forget about this blasted cold and start writing again. . .

And oh, it was a push, all right. Just not the kind of push I had anticipated. Not the kind of push anyone would anticipate, because instead of a gentle nudge in the right direction, I was most ungraciously flung head-first off the cliffs of aspirations to land face-down in the murky swamp of spite.

For as this man was leaving, after wishing me luck in my writing ventures, he imparted unto me one little phrase that I will never, in all my life, forget: “If I see you still working here in another five years, you might as well quit the writing. Because at that point it’s clearly not for you.”

. . .

. . .

*awkward cough* Okay, then. Well. Here’s the moment in which this post could branch off into one of two directions.

Direction A) I snarkily roast this poor unfortunate soul for all he’s worth in a blog post he will never see, or–

Direction B) I use my spite and frustration at having experienced this to build up other writers and encourage them to follow their dreams no matter what.

SO, since I am nothing if not a conundrum-centric pickle, I believe I will choose Direction Cwhich is to combine the best of both worlds. Meaning I shall encourage other writers to follow their dreams no matter what, while also layering in a bit of snark.

I’m sorry, random writer man, but you kinda sorta deserve just a little bit of spite from me.

So without further ado, here is a list of all the things I would like you–whether you’re a seasoned writer or a smol sapling freshly risen from the earth’s core with dreams and aspirations the size of a unicorn–to know. About writing. About yourself. About what it takes to follow your dreams to the ends of the earth. These are the things that I feel everyone needs to hear, even if we already know them in our hearts. It’s kind of like affirmations. Except, instead of talking to myself in the mirror (which I already do on an eerily regular basis), I’m writing it down. Which makes it a lot less creepy and a lot more helpful for the people out there like me.

Just Kidding Finger Guns GIF

Blog Divider

TO THE DREAMERS - a letter from me

To The Dreamers. . .

“no one can put a time limit on your success”

And how DARE they if they even try. You were given a gift for creativity–and even if you don’t feel your gift is as advanced as another’s, you were still given the passion and drive to continue learning and growing, and that’s even more precious than raw talent. You were created and designed to make art. Beautiful, glorious, sometimes messy art. And if anyone has the audacity to put a time limit on how long you have until your art actually means something? . . .well, the joke’s on them, because your art already DOES mean something. To you. To your family. To the people who truly love you.

Goals and aspirations are amazing, but don’t look so far ahead that you forget to relish in the moments you have now–the late nights hunched over your keys, the early mornings with steaming mugs of hot cocoa by your side as you wrestle through plot holes, the sheer joy of getting to write down the words spoken by characters taking over your mind. If your only goal as a writer is to publish, then you’ll never find true joy in each of the many writing stages. And there is so much joy to be found in all of them, my friend. Don’t let the chance to truly fall in love with your craft slip you by in the name of chasing stardom.

“write what makes you happy”

Do what makes you happy. Be the kind of creative that drives you to produce the kind of art YOU love.

Everywhere you turn, there’s another blossoming method for “10 Ways To Be Your Most Productive Self”, or “How To Use (fill in the blank) To Plan Your Entire Month!”, or what have you. Everyone everywhere is looking for hacks and tips to do the most they possibly can in their time on this earth. And while I can’t necessarily blame them, I’ve noticed that this mindset is a little bit toxic, especially to a creative like me who thrives in the chaos.

Planning out my entire novel before I write it HORRIFIES me. It cripples my creativity, and I’m lucky if I barely scratch the surface of 30,000 words before calling it quits. But there are people out there who swear by plotting out your entire novel and discovering your characters’ backstories before writing a single word.

Planning out my entire week hour-by-hour also horrifies me. I need flexibility. I need randomness. And while I love setting goals for myself and making checklists of all my To-Do’s for the day, going any further than that causes a mental block. But, again, there are people out there who think this is the greatest thing since sliced cheese. But–and here’s the interesting thing–for them, it is.

That’s the beautiful thing about art, isn’t it? The fact that all of us are so different, yet are absolutely in love with the same thing: writing beautiful books. Some of us love plotting out every inch of our stories and our lives, some of us thrive better with a general direction and an overabundance of curiosity. However you write, however you live, make sure the life you’re leading is the kind of life that helps you create the kind of art which sets your soul on fire.

You were not created to be some kind of rehashed version of your favorite artists. You were created to be perfectly, beautifully, uniquely your own kind of wonderful. So don’t let someone else’s process define who you can be or what you can write. Be yourself, be true to who you are, and–because I am nothing if not an oxymoron–don’t be afraid to try new things while finding your style.

“ignore the naysayers”

Now, there’s a very distinct line between “naysayers” and “critiquers”. The latter are people who are going to give you feedback on your work in order to improve your craft. Some–if not most–of the feedback they give isn’t going to be what you want to hear (no one wants to hear that they’re main character is a whiny baby who needs some massive revision, but alas. if it’s true, it needs to be stated. *glares at Peter from everlost*), but the beautiful thing about this feedback is that, even if it hurts to hear it at first, it’s all given out of love. It’s given to you by people who care about you and your craft, and  who understand that this precious book child you have entrusted them with means the universe to you. Trust me: them giving you honest feedback is almost as scary for them as it is for you to receive it. So whatever you do, L I S T E N to them. Take as much time as you need to process–they’ll understand–but in the end, objectively look at the feedback you’re given and listen. (this is something I’m still trying to get better at. it’s . . . a process, folks.)

BUT! We are not here to talk about the critiquers, because those people you definitely, 100% SHOULD listen to. Instead, we’re here to talk about the naysayers. The people who exist solely to drag you down and tell you that your dreams aren’t worth pursuing. That you’re not going to make it. That you’re not good enough.

I’d like to give these people the benefit of the doubt and think that the only reason they’re this pessimistic about someone else’s dream is because they, themselves, had a similar dream once upon a time. But they–like you–had someone tell them they couldn’t, or that they weren’t good enough, and instead of rising like a phoenix from the ashes, they actually listened.

Or maybe they tried, and they failed, and they didn’t have the strength to get back up and try again. So now, in their own weird little way, they’re trying to save you from the same heartache that they experienced.

I like to give the benefit of the doubt. I try to give the benefit of the doubt. But at the end of the day, the only thing you can really do is ignore them. Sure, they’re going to try and persuade you with their words and their bullet points, but the truth is it doesn’t matter what they think of you or your dream. What matters is that you continue pushing forward no matter how hard they shove back. What matters is that you write the stories of your heart. Because if what you write matters to you, inevitably it’s going to matter to someone else, and all those naysayers are eventually going to have to eat their words.

“write like the wind, bullseye, and don’t you dare look back”

At the end of the day, everything I’ve said boils down to one thing: write. Write all of the things. Write like the wind, and never look back.

Write, revise, rinse, repeat. Because no matter what anyone says, you were given this gift of storytelling for a reason. You were designed to write. It’s in your blood. And despite what anyone else thinks of you or your abilities, the only way to prove them wrong is to do the thing that everyone says you can’t do.

So write a book, a blog, those short stories burning inside of you. Write the things you love, and then write some more of them. And if you don’t get published today or in thirty years, you are still as valid of a writer as anybody else. And no one–especially not some random stranger wading through your checkout line–can tell you otherwise.



talk to me, peasants!

  • have you ever had someone tell you that you weren’t cut out for writing? (and if so, how did you respond? I highly recommend not responding like I did, which was to laugh awkwardly and internally daydream about stabbing him in the pinky toe.)
  • what is something you wish every writer knew? a piece of encouragement, a bit of knowledge you’ve picked up on your own writerly joureny, a quote that inspires you, etc. . .

and most importantly. . .

. . . is there anything I can do to help/encourage you?

Even if it’s as simple as praying for you and your writing or just overall life-ish-ness, let me know what I can do for you down in the comments below! My inbox is a l w a y s open, so feel free to hit me up anytime you wish!

As always, let us talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below, and until next time. . .

_flings cookies in the air and disappears_

Featured Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

2020 Silmaril Awards Voting Round: Most Nefarious Villain!

voting for the 2020 silmaril awards is NOW CLOSED! (technically it’s been over for a few days, but LOL OOPS. add that to the list of things I’ve forgotten to fix…) ahem. anyway. thank you so much to everyone who voted! you guys are the best! <3

>>> <<<

good morning, cyberspace!

And welcome back to the 2020 Silmaril Awards center for Most Nefarious Villain! Last week we opened up nominations for you guys to vote in your most favoritest, most vile fantasy villains of all time, but tonight … well, tonight we get to reveal which five made it into the final voting round!

Now, as this is my first time hosting/participating in the Silmaril Awards (hello, yes, I’m a newb), I had absolutely no clue what to expect during nominations week. I definitely did not expect it to fly by at the speed of a pixie wing, and I most definitely did not expect to receive over 60 villain nominations over the course of five days–all of which are now lounging about in my living room watching the extended editions of Lord of The Rings and monologuing about their tragic backstories. This is the most traffic I’ve ever had on my smol little blog, and–not gonna lie–it’s kinda freaking me out. But it’s not freaking me out near as much as the fact that Captain Hook used his hook as a skewer for last night’s shish kebobs, so I digress.

This past week I’ve had villain after villain flock to my door looking for solace, comfort, and the desire to return home with a beautiful Silmaril which they can then flaunt in their arch rival’s face. It’s been a beautiful, chaotic time, and though I’m sad to see so many of them go, I do believe having so many villains trapped beneath my roof is starting to affect me…

*adjusts collar of my billowing scarlet cape nervously*

But anyway. Let’s get on to the finalists, shall we?

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THE 2020 SILMARIL AWARDS: MOST NEFARIOUS VILLAIN FINALISTS

KENZIE: Ahem. *clears throat and taps microphone nervously* Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, cookies and crumblings, welcome one and all to the 2020 Silmaril Awards finalists panel! We have only the best of the best in the line of villainy lined up for you all today, so please make sure to keep all children, small pets, short friends, and screaming fangirls secured before we continue.

*sounds of restraint rifle through the crowd,

Thank you. Now that that’s all settled, we can officially get onto the nominations!

Our first nominee, is none other than…

Lord Whitlock from Beaumont and Beasley by Kyle Robert Shultz

Lord Whitlock–a tall, powerfully built grey-haired fellow in his fifty-somethings–is what we can only describe as the prime example of the perfectly dressed, perfectly megalomaniacal villain. (whether or not he will murder you for the sake of his own end is highly debatable. [actually, that’s a lie. he will definitely murder you. oops.]) Often found in a suit and tie like the gentleman that he totally is, Lord Whitlock is grudge-holding, rune-wielding enchanter who enjoys destroying things just for the fun of it.

…..*whispers* I think I just found the magical counterpart of my boy Moriarty, guys….

KENZIE: AHEM. *resists the urge to fangirl* Let’s bring out our boy, shall we? Come out, come out, wherever you are, Lord Whitlock!

A tall, shadowy figure lumbers out onto the platform, his fingers carefully adjusting his perfectly positioned tie with the utmost care.

KENZIE: Ah! There he is! Please take a seat, good sir. *waves nonchalantly towards the interviewing couch, which is a staple here at the LET’S CHAT! studios* The others will be joining us shortly.

LORD WHITLOCK: *sinks rather uncertainly onto the shabby, worn couch, his eyes full of suspicion and perhaps the distaste at having found himself in such a dismally inexperienced blogger’s company* Others?

KENZIE: Oh, yes! Five of you were invited here today, don’t you know? In fact… *flips notecards carefully, squinting down at her own scribbled handwriting which, unfortunately, no longer resembles anything from the English language* Aha, here we are. I do believe you’ll recognize a few of them from last year’s Silmaril Awards!

LORD WHITLOCK: *with apparent disgust* Oh no… Please don’t tell me–

KENZIE: *tosses index card over her shoulder gleefully* Let’s bring out our next contestant, shall we? This one actually has a similar title to you, Locky!

LORD WHITLOCK: Do not call me that.

KENZIE: VOLDEMORT! GET OUT HERE!

Lord Voldemort from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Lord Voldemort–a.k.a. He Who Must Not Be Named–is essentially the most powerful wizard within the Harry Potter universe. However, most fans often are of the opinion that he is far less disturbing than his cat-loving counterpart, Dolores Umbridge, who has unfortunately been beaten out yet again by the honorable Dark Lord. (it is said that when the news was broken to her, she smashed no less than three of her highly esteemed cat plates)

Voldemort can most often be found drinking unicorn blood in the Forbidden Forest late in the evening, terrorizing small children on Halloween night, and burning down local candle shops. (the reason for which he will not claim, but I think we can all make a solid guess.)

At Kenzie’s summons, the Dark Lord apparates onto the platform, his dark robes billowing about his serpentine figure. His slitted eyes burn into the audience, which seems to quiet down, simultaneously sucking in a bated breath.

Someone near the back of the audience breaks the silence.

“OI, VOLDY! YOU STINK!”

“Shut up, Ronald!”

KENZIE: *hastily flipping her cards whilst Voldemort spins towards the voices, his, long, bony fingers tightening against his Yew wand* Ahem! Come on over and take a seat beside dear Mr. Whitlock, your Dark Lordiness!

VOLDEMORT: *sneering at the sight of Lord Whitlock* I would rather not…

KENZIE: Oh, come now! We’re all friends here!

Two piercing scowls cut through Kenzie, and she plasters a grin to her face and moves on hastily.

KENZIE: Okay, then! Next contestant!

The Nameless Evil Named Gnag The Nameless from The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

The Nameless Evil Named Gnag The Nameless is the resident villain of the beloved Wingfeather Saga (a series our esteemed host has yet to read and is severely regretting in this moment.) The leader of the terrible, nasty fangs, Gnag The Nameless enjoys destroying whole kingdoms in his free time and exacting his revenge on all who ever wronged him.

At the mention of his name, Gnag appears on the stage, the hems of his robe whispering against the smooth floor. The sound of hooves clicking beneath him follows him all the way to the couch, where he nestles himself a little too closely beside Lord Whitlock.

Lord Whitlock curls his lip in disgust and fidgets closer to the armrest, which does very little in the way of putting distance between himself and Gnag.

VOLDEMORT: What a disgusting creature…

Gnag’s white eyes swivel towards Voldemort.

GNAG: *sneering* Have you looked in a mirror, recently?

KENZIE: *hastily flips her cards before Voldemort can Avada Kedavra the nameless evil named Gnag* All righty, then, moving on! Our next contestant is yet another runner up from last year. Will this be the year he finally wins the coveted Silmaril Award?

Brother from Deadwood by Kyle Robert Shultz

Quite possibly the most terrifying villain here, Brother is the soulless creation of none other than alchemist Nicolai Gepetto. Gepetto’s goal was to create a form of life through magic, but soon rejected his child creation and sent Brother–also known as Pinocchio, though he despises the name–down the raging path of madness. Disliking the puppet body he had once inhabited, Brother has since transcended into a being of pure thought and now enjoys turning living creatures into his own personal puppets, possessing human bodies, and manipulating any form of wood he can find.

KENZIE: All right, Brother! You can come out now!

Silence.

KENZIE: …Brother?

BROTHER: I’m already here, you blind old bat!

Kenzie jumps as the taunting jeer leaks out of the cards in her hands, and she flings them halfway across the room with a startled shriek.

BROTHER: HEY! *the voice splits into an echo as the cards separate against the smooth floor* Don’t drop me! Precious cargo, here!

Gnag hisses as two of the cards flitter towards his feet. Voldemort’s face contorts into horror at the talking cards, and he flicks his wand into the air with a deafening cry.

VOLDEMORT: AVADA KEDAVRA!

Beams of green light shoot from the tip of Voldemort’s wand, obliterating the cards.

BROTHER: Gee, great idea there, big guy. Killing an index card. Remind me to vote you in for Most Nefarious Villain. You deserve it.

Brother’s voice now seeps out from Voldemort’s wand, and Voldemort hisses, tossing the offending stick of wood out into the now screaming crowd. Sparks fling out of the wand, catching a man’s coat on fire in the front row.

As the stand-by fire squad rushes down through the crowd to put out the sparking inferno amidst Brother’s cackling, Kenzie hastily tries to compose herself.

KENZIE: Ahem. Yes. Well, I believe we have one last finalist who–

???: –needs no introduction, my dear.

Captain Hook from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Captain Hook–known to some in Neverland as a codfish–is the one-handed villain in J.M. Barrie’s well-loved fairytale, Peter Pan. Frequently outwitted by a young boy who refuses to grow up, it is quite a shock that he has made it this far within the Silmaril Awards. However, seeing as though he is continuously hunted down by a hungry crocodile–of whom it is rumored to have eaten Hook’s missing hand–it is probably a good idea that he tries to win this award as quickly as possible.

KENZIE: *relieved to see that at least one of the villains seems relatively excited to be here* Ah! Captain Hook! Nice to see you’ve joined us.

CAPTAIN HOOK: Oh, I wouldn’t miss this opportunity for the world, love. Mr. Smee has been flaunting that ridiculous rock of his for the past three years. Not to mention that awful boy receiving another one a year later… It was only a matter of time before I was recognized for my excellence. This comes as no surprise to me, surely.

KENZIE: Um … you are aware that you haven’t actually won the award yet, right?

HOOK: ‘Yet’ being the operative word, my dear.

KENZIE: Uh … right. Well, then. I suppose now that everyone is here, we can get to the voting!

The screaming from the crowd intensifies as the flames grow stronger, and more of the waiting fire crew speeds down through the crowd, trying to evacuate everyone before the inferno can spread.

KENZIE: Thank you all so much for joining us today! Your votes can be cast until September 11th, so make sure to get your votes in for each category before then! And if you haven’t already, make sure to hop around to each of the host blogs to check out the Top 5 in each category!

Brother’s maniacal laughter erupts from the still panicking crowd, and Voldemort disapparates in a fury of black robes.

“Everyone, stay calm please!” one of the fire squad shouts amid the fray.

No one stays calm.

KENZIE: Each of the links will be available at the exit, as well as the voting form. As always, until next time…

KENZIE: *flings cookies in the air and disappears*

>>> <<<

time to vote, peasants!

Now it’s time to cast your votes! Who will you pick to win the coveted Silmaril Award?

CAST YOUR VOTE NOW!

And don’t forget to check out the other hosting blogs! These people–unlike me–are actually professionals, and therefore know what they are doing. XD

Thanks for holding out through all of this insanity, my friends! I cannot WAIT to see which of our delightful villains wins this year’s Silmaril!

THE SILMARIL AWARDS BEGIN! — Most Nefarious Villain Nomination

NOMINATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED! Thank you to everyone who nominated and seconded(edededed)! Stay tuned to vote for the finalists! <3

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happy monday, cyberspace!

Today is a very important day in the history of days, my friends. Not only is this the last day of August (which obviously means that Autumn is just around the corner, because September is the start of fall [this is what my heart believes, so don’t go crushing me with facts, peasants]), but it is also the very first day of the 2020 Silmaril Awards!!!

The Office Party Hard GIF

Oh my goodness, I am so beyond excited for this, you guys. I’ve seen the Silmaril Awards floating past my blog feed every year, but I never really knew what it was until Jenelle (one of the creators and the actual SWEETEST bean in the whole entire planet) contacted me to ask if I’d help host it this year. So for anyone–like me–who might be a wee bit confuzzled by this whole Silmaril Awards fandangle, allow me to take a moment to explain it all!

The Silmaril Awards

WHAT IS IT?

In the smallest of nutshells, the Silmaril Awards is like the Oscars–but for literary fantasy characters! It’s a yearly event where you are able to nominate and vote for your favorite characters in fantasy fiction in the hopes that they go home with the famed Silmaril Award!

Nominations open TODAY and run through September 4th, so make sure to get your nominations in for each character category before it’s too late! (the other presenters and categories are all linked at the very end of this post, so keep your eyeballs peeled for that)

“But Kenzie,” I hear you saying to your screen, “how does this all work?!”

Well, my dear bean, there are few ways to explain that. First and foremost, I would recommend checking out the official Silmaril Awards site for all the “officially official” rules. But if clicky buttons scare you, I’ve also tried my best to replicate the general gist for you down below. Please continue at your own discretion.

The Ruleses and Whatsits Galore

RULE #1no characters from Tolkien can be nominated for the silm award

Tolkien’s characters are actually the ones presenting the Silmaril Awards to the winners, so unfortunately we are unable to have any of them be the recipients of such awards. (otherwise we would have a time-space paradox on our hands, and that would make this a science-fiction award. of which it is most decidedly not.)

RULE #2 … only fantastical literary characters allowed!

As someone who greatly enjoys reading and writing science-fiction/fantasy, I am very aware of how heartbreaking this is to all my fellow sci-fi lovers. But remember that this is a fantasy literary award, and every character nominated/voted for MUST be from a fantasy book! There are, of course, some stories that have both fantasy AND science-fiction elements to them, so if you believe that the character’s story is fantastical enough, drop their name anyway! It can never hurt to ask, right? (or maybe it can? I’ve never done this before, don’t look at me for information. XD)

RULE #3 … tell us which book the character you’re nominating is from!

My brain is an actual marshmallow, so if you don’t tell me which book your character is from, I’m probably just going to melt into a puddle of confusion and Google searches.

RULE #4 … you can nominate/second however many characters you want! the sky is the limit!

The top five characters with the most amount of “seconds” (we’ll get there in a moment) are going to move on to the VOTING round, so be sure to nominate and second all of the characters you want to see move forward! (but also please remember that you cannot “second” a character you nominated. so. keep that in mind.)

RULE #5 … authors cannot nominate their own characters!

It’s a bummer, I know, but you can definitely give your readers a gentle nudge in the right direction! I’ve found that threatening to chop their legs off with my trusty pitchfork has worked wonders in the past…

RULE #6 … previous winners cannot win twice!

The Silmaril Awards are actually considered “lifetime” awards, so make sure you’re not re-nominating someone who’s already won! (for a full list of characters who’ve won each of the categories, check out this page right here)

RULE #7 … HAVE FUN!

Apparently this is an actual rule. So DO IT OR ELSE, PEASANT!!! *waves pitchfork at you menacingly*

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All right! Now that you hopefully know how the nominating works, let’s talk about how to actually … you know. Nominate. Aheh.

So! Firstly first, you’re going to pop down into that delightful little comment section down below and drop off the name(s) and book(s) of the character(s) you want to nominate! Then, as time progresses and more names appear, you can go through and “second” any of the characters you think deserve to win this most illustrious award! The 5 characters with the most amount of “seconds” are going to move on to the voting round, where I believe the process begins all over again and we narrow it all down to a single winner!

Sound like fun? TRICK QUESTION. Of course it sounds like fun! And now that all the rules are behind us, we can finally get to the thing that I’ve been dying to talk about…

MY CATEGORY!

MEEP! I think the fairy godmothers over at Silmaril Awards HQ know me just a leeeeeeetle too well, because for my first ever hosting of this most prestigious award, they were kind enough to grant me with the category for … (drumroll please)

MOST NEFARIOUS VILLAIN!

EEP! Oh my goodness, guys!!! I am so impossibly blessed to be able to be the host for this category this year! My September month has been made. And also this ties in perfectly with the fact that I wanted the two months leading up to Halloween to be filled with epic-villainy and nefarious schemes, but I digress. Let’s talk about the actual award, shall we?

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Nefarious Villains. Everyone here knows that I’m a sucker for a good villain. They are the broken, evil brains behind the most vile of plots. The darkness to the hero’s light. my smol children who deserve nothing but the best out of life and who I shall avenge to the death. There are many facets to a good evil villain, from the polished, wise, and terrifying (*cough*moriarty*cough*) to the madman with a bloody knife (*cough*stillmoriarty*cough*). But every villain has exactly one thing in common–the unrelenting desire to stop their hero, no matter the cost.

They also have a lot of emotional baggage and more than a few inner scars but SHHH. We don’t talk about those ’round here, okay. That’s for our midnight therapy sessions.

The previous winners for Most Nefarious Villain include:

  • 2016 … The White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia
  • 2017 … Shift from The Chronicles of Narnia
  • 2018 … Queen Levana from The Lunar Chronicles
  • 2019 … Death In Life from Tales of the Goldstone Wood

–so make sure that any nominations this year do NOT include these most nefarious of villains!

Personally, I see a gaping hole where a very specific villain should be listed, but…you know. There’s still hope for this year, amiright? (unfortunately I don’t believe that series is actually considered fantasy, but it’s fine. we can change that.)

sherlock moriarty GIF

AHEM. Anyway. Moving on.

Unfortunately there are just a few more things that I need to throw at your face before we can officially wrap this post up and get to the nominating, but don’t worry. You’re gonna love them!

First and foremost, this year we’re having a Silmaril Award GIVEAWAY, in which you can enter to win some fun prizes! I’m kinda jealous that I won’t be able to participate in this one, actually. But the fact that I get to house all the lovely villains this year makes up for it. XD

And secondly, we have a #silmarilawards2020 bookstagram challenge going on during the course of the Silmaril Awards! I’ve been a little behind with the daily challenges recently (hello, Life), but I’m definitely hoping to get caught up with that today! So if you haven’t already, hop on over to Instagram and share some of YOUR favorite literary characters with us!

And finally, here are the other hosting blogs and the schedule overview for the 2020 Silmaril Awards (a few of the names may not be available at the moment. I’m doing my best to track them down, however!)! I am so impossibly excited to be a part of this amazing team this year, and I cannot wait to see all the lovely villains you guys nominate! (just be sure to remind them to bring their sleeping bags, toothbrushes, and pitchforks when they come over. I heard we’re crashing the most epic heroine party, so maybe we should bring some s’mores, as well…)

SCHEDULE OVERVIEW

NOMINATIONS WEEK – August 31st – September 4th

VOTING WEEK – September 7th – 11th

AWARDS CEREMONIES – September 14th – 25th

THE PRESENTERS

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talk to me, peasants!

OH MY GOODNESS. I honestly cannot believe that this is actually happening… I’M HELPING HOST THE SILMARIL AWARDS, PEASANTS!!! *flails for five-thousand days* And not only that, but I get to play with all the VILLAINS!!!! My heart. I don’t think it could get any fuller than it is in this moment, guys…

BUT! Enough about me! Let’s get to the nominating…! Go ahead and drop your nominations and seconds down in the comments below, my friends! I cannot WAIT to see what lovely villains I get to house this year… (I’m thinking I should have stocked up on more candy, though. if anyone has some to spare, I’d be eternally grateful.)

And as always, until next time…!

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

A Wild Silmaril Award Approaches!

good morning, cyberspace!

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 YES ABSOLUTELY!!!!

…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!

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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*

Until next time. . .

Another One Bites The Dust

good morning, cyberspace!

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!

Drumroll please…!

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

37 chapters

125,000 words

much death

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.

black and white love GIF

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

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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…

Going Forward

good morning, cyberspace!

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 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…