The Book Behind The Blog

good morning, cyberspace!

Okay, friends, I have a solid question: how on earth are we already in the final stretch of August? I feel like August started just yesterday, and then suddenly I blink and… POOF. We’re already so close to September? Somehow I feel like this shouldn’t be so. (someone grab the TVA because I sense a break in the sacred timeline over here…)

Ahem. Anyway. As promised, I still have so much that I want to talk about during my Blogiversary month, and I figured that with just one more Tuesday left in August, now was as good a time as any to get those posts drafted up and sent out into the blogosphere.

Today’s post, in particular, is one that is very near and dear my heart, because it deals with the book which essentially started this very blog that you’re reading right now. The funny thing, though, is that on this very date five years ago, I didn’t even know this book existed.

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CAMP NANOWRIMO, 2021: Recaps & Revisions

good morning, cyberspace!

And just like that–it’s August. Somehow I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that we’re 8 months into 2021, but I don’t think Time really cares about that. This summer has been quite possibly the strangest I’ve had in a great long while, but you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve had highs. I’ve had lows. I’ve made new friends and I’ve experienced new adventures. I’ve suffered injuries–both physical and emotional. I’ve watched fireworks. I wore a dress and wielded a sword and stood on the lawn of a castle. I’ve eaten ice cream for breakfast. I’ve risen to new levels and dropped off the face of the earth. And all the while, God has been working inside of me, showing me that He’s not even close to being finished with whatever this season of life is.

And I’m strangely okay with that.

This year more than ever I’ve begun to notice the subtle shifts in His plan for me. I’ve seen steps taken in the dark become more clear. I’ve watched His hand pulling strings to take me where I’m meant to go. And it’s beautiful. And it’s scary. And it’s exciting.

And I’m sitting here at the end of summer just basking in the fact that this crazy life I’ve been given really is something magical. I’m lucky, guys. I’m very, very lucky.

And also I failed NaNoWriMo miserably. So let’s talk about that, shall we? XD

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camp nanowrimo, 2021: recaps and revisions

The results are in, my dearest peasants. You might want to shield your eyes, though. The shame is exponential.

INITIAL WORD GOAL – 50,000
SECONDARY WORD GOAL – 33,000
FINAL WORD GOAL – 22,000
WORDS WRITTEN – 15,561
CHAPTERS COMPLETED – 8

Not gonna lie, when you stack the numbers up together, I feel pretty stinkin’ proud about my progress this month. Project Goblin has been a story YEARS in the making. I started it back in 2018, shelved it, and honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever get to a point where it could be written the way it deserved. It’s such a big, whimsical undertaking, and even now I’m not sure I’m writing it correctly. But I’m trying. And sometimes that’s all we can ask for.

The words I wrote this month aren’t anywhere close to perfect. But they’re mine, and they’re leading me one step closer to the story I see in my dreams. It feels monstrous at the moment–the editing process has already begun to stress me out–but it’s a journey that I’m willing and determined to take. I believe in this book. I believe in these characters. And I believe that this story is one that deserves to be written and read and loved. And for right now, that is more than enough to keep me moving forward.

I’ve also been continuously surprised by the turns this book has taken–both plot-wise and structurally. This story has taught me that it’s okay to let your process shift, that nothing is set in stone once written, and–most importantly in my humble opinion–that talking mimes most definitely wear socks. Never before have I had so much freedom with switching up major plot points midway through telling a story. Normally something as catastrophic as plopping entirely new cast members into the book halfway through would be cause for concern. Now, however, I’ve learned to just kinda shrug it off, test them out for a few scenes, and then scrap them later on if I change my mind.

…have I mentioned the fact that this first draft is a complete and utter mess? *sweats nervously*

Another interesting tidbit about this novel: the deadline (hard deadline, by the way. my soft deadline whipped by without a second thought.) for this book just so happened to be a couple days ago. I saw the notification pop up on my phone calendar, and I just kinda…swept it away. XD Because there wasn’t a way in this universe that I was going to meet it. BUT. I was much closer to hitting that goal than I’ve ever been to hitting ANY of my initial novel goals, and I feel pretty darn good about that, peasants. I may not have finished the book in July, but I’m getting closer to figuring out how to make reasonable deadlines for myself, and that is something I’m going to celebrate. (I’ve also taken this opportunity to make NEW deadlines, and EEP, that’s pretty exciting!)

Once the first draft of this book is officially done, however, I’m debating whether or not I should post some snippets. I know a lot of you expressed interest in meeting my talking mime named Martin, and honestly? I really really want you guys to meet him. Like immediately. XD But alas, we shall have to wait and see!

Overall, this month was a process of learning, conquering my writerly fears, living life to the fullest (both in and outside of the page), and taking the time needed to reprioritize my crazy, chaotic writerly existence. So while I may not have won Camp NaNoWriMo, I did win in SO many other aspects of my life, and for today, that’s enough.

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…and in OTHER news…

And in other, non-Camp related news, I have some very big things coming up within the next couple months!!!! And while I can’t tell you what they are exactly quite yet, I AM going to vaguely elude to them! Because I’m a monster. It’s fine.

THING NUMBER ONE – August 3rd!

This one is very exciting, because it’s not just a happy thing for ME, but it’s also a happy thing for YOU, and I’m so so so excited to reveal it to you all!! More information is coming in JUST TWO DAYS!!! So definitely swing back here on Tuesday to get all the juicy details on this most exhilarating surprise! (and if you think you know what this one is about, hit me up in the comments. I’m very eager to see if someone actually knows. XD)

THING NUMBER TWO – September

While I can’t give any specific dates for this one quite yet, I can tell you that I’m extremely excited to be a part of something very big, very exciting, and very very terrifying at the same time! I’ll be able to give more info soon, but for right now, all I can tell you is that this Thing is coming in September. *zips lips* THAT’S ALL I CAN SAY, PEASANTS. (don’t bribe me with cookies, I can’t stand that kind of pressure…)

THING NUMBER THREE — Unknown

This last thing happened literally just this last week, and I’m STILL reeling from the news of it. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to tell you all about it (hopefully I’ll be able to tell you all about it?), but rest assured that as soon as I get the okay, YOU’RE GONNA KNOW ABOUT IT. XD (also, to cut into the suspense, I did NOT get a book deal, literary agent, or am otherwise anywhere near publishing a novel at this point in time. but this is still a really huge step for me in a direction I’ve been wanting to go for–oh, I don’t know….MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE–so I’m just. You know. Chilling. Completely chill-like. it’s fine.)

Did I mention that this month has been CRAZY? Because y’all. This month has been C R A Z Y. I can’t even begin to describe how blessed I feel to have this pocketful of secrets to share with you all soon. It honestly feels like all the loose strings in my life which I’ve been flapping around aimlessly for the past few months are finally–FINALLY–coming together. I truly hope that I’m able to do justice to the opportunities I’ve been blessed with, because if my intuition is telling me anything, it’s that this is going to be a year I’ll never forget.

talk to me, peasants!

And that’s everything for today, my friends! I’m honestly so excited for August. I’ve got so much that I want to do and write and live, and I have a peculiar feeling that this month is going to be magical. And obviously this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that this also happens to be my birth month. Nope. Not even a little bit. XD

But that’s quite enough about me! Let’s talk about you! For those of you who participated in NaNo: how did July go? were you able to meet all of your writing goals? what was your favorite writing memory from Camp NaNo?

And for my peeps who didn’t do Camp NaNo this time around: what kinds of adventures have you been undertaking this past month? do you have any end-of-summer book recs for Yours Truly? (I ended up reading quite a lot last month, and I’d really like to keep that momentum into August!) and–most importantly of all–do you have any guesses for my Super Secret Announcements coming soon???

Let’s talk about all of the things down in the comments below, and until next time….

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021 – Week 3 (?): lol, idk what’s happening at this point

good morning, cyberspace, and welcome to Kenzie has a slight mental breakdown but it’s fine because Camp NaNoWriMo is supposed to be FUN!

This is my favorite time of year, guys. Absolutely. Literally nothing has been going wrong the past two weeks and I am THRIVING! *nervous laughter intensifies*

Ahah…. Okay, let’s just get to the stats, shall we?

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CAMP NANOWRIMO WEEKS 3 — THE STATS

CURRENT WORD COUNT — 10,467
REVISED WORD GOAL — 33,000
WORDS BEHIND ORIGINAL GOAL — 39,533
WORDS BEHIND SECONDARY GOAL— 22,533
WORDS PER DAY TO CATCH UP — 3,756
PROBABILITY OF THIS HAPPENING — 0.002%

Ahem… Well. As you can see from the above statistics … it is highly unlikely that I’m going to win Camp NaNoWriMo with these goals. XD Which, you know, is kinda disappointing, I’ll admit. But I’ve made peace with the disappointment and have decided that, while I could choose to beat myself up over this most unfortunate circumstance, I’d rather embrace it, instead! Why? Because throughout this crazy month of complete and utter chaos, I’ve also rediscovered three invaluable truths about my creative process–truths which have provided more creative momentum for me in the past week than I’ve had in the past six months.

What are these truths, you may be wondering? I’m so glad you asked. XD

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KENZIE’S FIELD GUIDE TO CHAOTIC CREATIVITY

RULE ONE — goals are good. adjusting your goals once they become problematic is better.

I did this once already this month when I dropped my initial goal of 50,000 words down to 33,000. Obviously at the time I thought this would be sufficient enough, but it has since come to my attention that this is STILL too big of a chunk for this month. So, in the vein of acknowledging this season of writing I’m in and being kind to myself, I’ve decided to drop my goal once again to a grand total of 22,000 words!

(there actually is a solid reason for 22,000 words, but that will probably become more apparent next month. so. just go with it for now. XD)

Am I sad that I won’t be hitting 50k by the end of July? Yes. But am I going to consider myself a failure for not meeting it? Nope! This is a very strange, malleable time of life for me, and I’m choosing to enjoy the process rather than burn myself out over deadlines.

RULE TWO — words don’t get written unless you write them

This one sounds so blatantly obvious, but like … it’s true. XD I tend to think that procrastinating my writing till the very last dregs of the day is going to be enough for me to hit my word goals of 1,000 to 2,000 words, but trust me when I say that this RARELY. EVER. WORKS.

Writing takes time. Time takes dedication. Dedication means prioritizing, making a plan and sticking to it, and finding a writing routine that WORKS.

For the longest time, I didn’t have a writing routine. I just let myself write whenever I found a spare moment, which meant there was never much structure to the way I did things. I’ve always prided myself on my “chaotic energy”, but something I’ve learned this month? You can still be chaotic within structure. In fact, it’s 100% more fun to do it that way, because you actually get things DONE.

Which is, you know, more than I can say for the way I did things a month ago. XD

RULE THREE — it’s okay for your process to change

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t really like change all that much. It scares me. Makes me queasy. I like things to be easily understood and quickly accomplished, and anything that requires blind trust and shaky footsteps into the unknown is certain to make me scream. But just as I’m learning that it’s okay to give yourself grace when you fail, I’m also learning that change is a good thing. Change is progress.

Change is what makes us grow.

And though it TERRIFIES me that my writing process–and even my writing style?–has begun to change, I know that there is growth within the change. I’m learning. I’m experimenting. I’m creating. And that’s okay.

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At the end of the day, this session of Camp NaNoWriMo has–once more–gone nothing according to plan. My commitment wasn’t as strong as I would have liked, I chose to spend time away from the screen in favor of reading good books and spending time out in the real world, and while I know that’s a solid part of being a writer and prioritization, it still hurts to know that once again I’ve managed to put all my grandiose plans to flame. But you know what, friends? There’s always a gleaming light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope that says “there’s another chance to try again, my dear”. And that gleaming light, that glimmer of hope … it’s called November. *manic laughter intensiFIES*

Evil Laugh GIF

also yes this blog post is completely all over the place because I have a RESCUE MISSION TO WRITE, FRIENDS. brb gotta go bust a scarecrow, wizard, enchanted enchantress, and not one, but TWO little girls out of a goblin king’s castle. it’s fine. everything is fine.

talk to me, peasants!

for all my fellow NaNo participants out there: how is YOUR camp going? are you crushing your goals like the good little goal crusher that you are, or is the writing coming a little bit slower than you would have liked? either way, you are doing FANTASTICALLY and I have cookies for you over on the side-table. (grab one on the way out, won’t you?)

for those NOT doing NaNo: how has your month been so far? reading any good books? going on any fun adventures?

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

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

CAMP NANOWRIMO, WEEKS ONE & TWO: Adventures, Adjustments, & Whirlwinds

good morning, cyberspace!

Many apologies for the no-show last week! It’s been a Time over here at Smudged Thoughts central, and while I’d had this post all drafted up and ready to go by the scheduled due date, I just kinda … forgot to post it …?

Aha. Anyway. We’re going to pretend like that didn’t happen and sally onwards anyway. XD Alsooo, since it’s already the end of week two by the time I’m writing this, I’ve decided to squish weeks one and two together into one post! That way we can just sorta squeeze by and pretend as though everything is normal and good and right with the world. (I’m so smart, oh my word.)

AHEM. MOVING ON.

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july 5, 2021

The first week of Camp NaNoWriMo is almost over—by the time this is posted, perhaps it has already passed us by—but for me, the adventure of writing 50,000 words by the end of the month has only just begun.

This past weekend has been a whirlwind. For many, the fourth of July meant fireworks, extra days off from work, and—if you’re a writer doing Camp NaNoWriMo—hopefully a word sprint or ten. But this year, Fourth Of July looked just a little bit different.

There was no writing. No sprinting till midnight to hit a certain word goal before calling it quits. But there were castles, toads, a very haunted looking gravestone, suspension bridges, dresses, and…

…swords.

Many, many swords.

Y’all. Words cannot even describe how insane the past two days have been. How insane this past year has been. I know we’re only six months into it, but just within the past four months, I’ve been graced with the extraordinary opportunity to meet five of my beautiful writer friends in the actual, wide-open plane of existence known as reality.

Phoebe. Kate. Ruby. Ally. Leona.

Five people who have impacted my life in ways I will never be able to comprehend. Five girls who have helped me grow not only as a writer, but as a friend. I will never forget the emotions felt when meeting each of them for the very first time. I will never forget what it felt like to tackle them in the biggest of hugs and refuse to let go. I will never forget the absolute chaos we get ourselves into when we’re together.

You live your life thinking nothing ever changes. You watch the sunsets fade and the seasons pass and you wonder whether or not the dreams in your heart will ever come to pass. And then something like this happens. Something as beautiful and wild as finally meeting the friends God has put into your life—though unfortunately not always in your state. And you realize that it’s not that nothing ever changes, but the things that change you happen so very little and so very far in between that you simply must cherish them when they do occur.

This weekend, I spent 24 hours with four members of my writing group. They are crazy. They are wild. They are real. And for the first time, I’m fully comprehending that they are mine.

Were words written this past week? Eh. Not exactly. But the moments we created were moments that will live inside my memory for the rest of my life. And that is so much more precious to me than 3,000 words.

However. It wouldn’t be a Camp NaNoWriMo update if I didn’t mention some of the writing adventures I’ve been getting into—and, trust me, the first two days of Camp NaNoWriMo were filled—so I suppose now is as good a time as any to add an awkward transition to the statistics portion of this weekly recap! XD

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THE STATS

DAYS 1-5

WORD GOAL: 8,065
WORDS WRITTEN: 3,119
WORDS BEHIND: 4,546

Okay, so looking at the stats, this isn’t very good progress, I’ll admit. XD Typically, I prefer my overall wordcount to be larger than the words I have yet to write. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be happening this month. (again, I’m not sorry in the slightest. just a little worried at this point. it’s fine. everything is fine.)

The word count may not be quite what I want, but the story that I have written so far has been an absolute BLAST. After working on some (minor) revisions before the start of Camp, I decided to start off right after my weird little cast broke into the Goblin King’s castle. There were some finer details which needed smoothing out—one of them being my mime.

Ah yes. My talking mime. His name is Martin, and he is—currently—my favorite character I’ve ever created. (at least for this story, though I’d go so far as to say he’s my favorite among all my stories, ever.) I honestly have no clue where the inspiration for this sad little man came from, and—if I’m being totally honest—where he came from in and of himself. He’s odd, slightly depressed, is missing his shoes, and is probably the most complexing character I’ve ever had the pleasure to write, simply because he’s so … odd.

I’d like to say that the entirety of Project Goblin is filled to the brim with odd, slightly terrifying creatures, and anyone who’s ever heard me talk about this story in incomprehensible snorts and squeals would probably agree with me on that. But despite the fact that reading through a chapter of this story would most likely give a small child nightmares, I have to admit that the weirdness is probably what’s making this book so much fun to write. There’s just something about dark, creepy forests and weird, slightly mutilated characters that makes my Tim Burton fangirl heart squeak with delight every time there’s a twist and bend in the plot line. And while I’m not entirely sure where this story is going (to be quite honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever know where this story is going until the end of it), I’m so incredibly excited to be the writer behind this project.

Aside from the talking mime and the invasion of the Goblin King’s castle, I’m also proud to announce that I’ve officially hit 30,000 words in this manuscript! I totally thought I’d hit this milestone like a week ago, but alas alack, apparently I lied. XD I’m currently at 33,811, which means I only have (insert awkward silence for math 46,189 words left until I hit my overall goal.

Which shall hopefully be enough words to wrap this book up and call it done. *grins awkwardly*

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july 11, 2021

I have officially lost my marbles. I mean, anyone who truly knows me knows that I’ve already lost my marbles (more than once, even), but this time … yep. They’re gone.

If you look at my progress this week strictly through the lens of word count, not a whole lot happened during this second week of Camp NaNoWriMo. If, however, you take a peek at the inner workings of my mind, you will see that there has been a major, almost terrifying shift.

My friends. Colleagues. Fellow scribes and poets.

I have officially become a scene skipper.

I’m not sure what, exactly, possessed me to do this. I’ve never scene skipped. In fact, I usually pride myself on my ability to slough through the chapters which truly bore me just so I can get to the ones I’m excited to write. But this past week I was staring at the blank page and thinking about how, if I could only just make it through this one scene, then I could finally write the fun stuff, and I just … snapped.

I snapped.

I clicked open a new document in my binder, titled it ‘chapter 16’, and started writing. Before I knew it, I had an entire chapter down and was heading into chapter 17–all within a single day.

And all without finishing off chapter 15.

It was a beautiful freedom, I must admit–albeit terrifying–but during this brief stint into insanity, I have discovered two things about my creative psyche:

  1. It is, in fact, possible for me to outline a book and enjoy it. Maybe it isn’t for EVERY book that I write, but it is certainly working for Project Goblin, and I’m definitely interested in plotting books in the future…
  2. If I’ve done enough plotting and am comfortable enough in the stability of my plot to know what happens multiple chapters in advance, I can successfully scene skip without any immediate issues.

These should, under normal circumstances, be cause for celebration. But as a writer who’s found peace with the fact that she’ll never be a massive plotter, I’m a wee bit worried about how this is going to affect all future endeavors of mine.

On the other hand, however, I’m extremely excited to see where this new inspiration takes me! Perhaps my next novel will have a 12k outline, complete with road signs and plot point maps. Who can say?

Certainly not me. XD

In other news, I’ve hardly done any writing this past week. XD We’re already heading into the tailend of Week Two, and I’m only at *checks word count* 5,000 words total for the month.

This is, of course, exceedingly mood-dampening, but I have faith, my friends! …faith in the fact that I’m dropping my word goal from 50,000 to 33,000. XD

Okay okay, so I know that dropping my word goal should probably make me feel ashamed and all that nonsense, but like…? I literally have no shame. I’ve discovered that the first draft of this book is going to be weirdly small (for a Kenzie Keene novel, that is XD) and I’m PREEEEEETTY sure that 33,000 words will be plenty for me to wrap this book up? According to my plot map, I have about 6-8 chapters left to write before this guy is complete. Which means that I…might…actually….???? finish this book before the end of July??????

I’m crossing all of my fingers and toes at this point, friends. I’m also VERY worried that I completely miscalculated, but lol whatever. It’ll be what it is and I’m excited. XD

(also 10/10 going to still shoot for 50k because why not so YEET. we shall see how this goes, peasants. XD)

Alas. If I’m to write 50k 33k before the end of July, I guess I should get cracking. It’s gonna be a LOOOOOONG month, my friends. XD

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talk to me, peasants!

how did the first two months of Camp NanoWriMo treat my fellow Campers out there? is anyone else egregiously behind on their word count? or are you blissfully ahead and can’t hear my distant sobbing through the intensity of your maniacal laughter? let’s talk about ALL of the Camp NaNoWriMo things down below, shall we? And until next time…

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Take Two (in which Kenzie writes a book)

good morning, cyberspace!

It’s no secret that I didn’t win April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Or the NaNoWriMo before that. Or, dare I say it, the NaNoWriMo before that. (actually, I might have won that one? It was during quarantine, and I’m pretty sure I won. but anyway, back to my obviously important point.) Lately it would seem as though my NaNoWriMo success rate has been anything less than resplendent, and it’s come to the point where I’m almost too scared to participate, because I know there is a very likely chance that I will not come through on the other side victorious.

However, despite the little voice in my head telling me I should think about simply skipping this year’s second session of Camp NaNoWriMo in pursuit of a simpler, less stressful time, I’ve decided to go full gung-ho and dive headfirst into a chaotic summer of epic disaster!

…aka, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month, peasants!

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CAMP NANOWRIMO 2021: TAKE TWO (in which Kenzie writes a book)

I know I should probably be dreading this, seeing as though my last few attempts at doing the NaNo were rather sad. But I’m honestly just so excited to dive back into this community. There was a time in my life when I was a constant lurker in the NaNo forums, when any conversation pertaining to me was nary without the mention of NaNoWriMo at least once. Or twice. Or three times. Usually within a single sentence. XD

And as I grow older and my NaNo track record decreases, I’ve begun to wonder if maybe I’m just getting too old for NaNoWriMo. Perhaps I’ve become one of those writers who’s too “seasoned” to participate in something as frivolous as a crazy writing month filled with intense word counts and an even more intense sleep schedule. (or, should I say, nonexistent sleep schedule, amiright? Ah? Ah? distant sobbing) But then I take a closer look at where these thoughts are coming from, and I realize that it doesn’t have anything to do with age or skill at all—I’m simply not putting my all into it as I used to.

It’s not something anyone likes to admit, but I’m sitting here today and putting these words down because they need to be said: the past few times I’ve tried NaNoWriMo, I’ve allowed myself to be buffeted by all that life has to throw at me and have let my writing fall by the wayside.

And that’s not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing! Life is important, and obviously I want to experience as much of it as this world has to offer. But I also want to write my books and share them with the world, and the only way that’s ever going to happen is if I have the courage to sit down and put words to the page, no matter how scary that prospect may seem.

So today, I am throwing all caution to the wind and shouting into the grand void that I WILL be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month! And—yes, I’m going to say it—I’m going to win.

Obviously I wrote a whole blog post about how I was going to win April’s Camp back in March, but … yeah. That didn’t work out too well, did it. XD Ah well. This time around, I don’t have anything fancy to share with you all. No great tips or tricks for defeating writer’s block. No special hats or survival kits or playlists. This time, all I have is me, a notebook, a pen, my laptop, and a story that I desperately want to get written. And chances are, the draft I crank out over the next couple months will be nothing like the story I eventually want to share with you all. But I’m getting the skeleton down. I’m figuring it out the only way I know how—by experimentation—and that, my friends, is an exciting adventure in and of itself. Future Kenzie may have a beast of a time trying to edit this monster, but Present Kenzie is going to enjoy herself to the highest extreme during this drafting process!

THE GOAL

As of right now, Project Goblin is sitting at a very sad 30,000 words. I promised myself I wouldn’t share any of my deadline goals here on the blog (you know, since I’m absolute garbage at actually following them once written), but I will say that at this current word count, I’m very, very far behind on where I wanted to be in this draft. I had a very solid word goal established for the end of June, but due to some unprecedented events and one too many days I let slip by without even trying to put pen to paper, I’m sorry to admit that it will take nothing short of a miracle for me to catch up to my final deadline.

That is, unless I’m able to write 50,000 words next month.

Some might call it idiocy to try and reach this goal. Some might call it madness. I prefer to call it a dash of optimism with a touch of insanity.

Under normal circumstances, I would take a moment to stop and think about the fact that my day-job is about to get a little bit more complicated and demanding (yay, promotions!) and do I REALLY want to tackle such a large commitment right through the thick of that? I would also sit myself down and say, “Kenzie. You do realize that trying to pump 50,000 words out within a single month is going to drain you both creatively and mentally, right? You do realize this is going to be VERY BAD for your mental health…right?” But to be honest, I feel exceptionally good about this very abrupt change of plans. I’m excited to push myself (healthily!) and see where I end up. I’m eagerto test my limits and see just how far I can go without falling.

I have no interest in hurting myself, of course, but if writing is something that I want to do full-time in the not-so-near future, then I have to take the baby steps to get there today. And those baby steps include fitting my writing life into my everyday living—not the other way around.

Of course, I’m not ignoring the fact that we are entering what is—by nature—one of the busiest months of summer (for me). But due to some unforeseen recent events (which I’m definitely not going to complain about), this month isn’t going to be near as busy as it normally is! Most of the events I participate in during the month of July have either been canceled or … I’m just not doing them. XD So aside from a road trip (more on that in the future, hopefully!), this month is wide open for ALL OF THE CREATIVE ENDEAVORS! And that is a very freeing sort of feeling, my friends.

THE PROJECT

I’ve already mentioned this above, but the project I’ll be working on this month is the first draft of Project Goblin! …..still. To be honest, I thought the first draft of this book would be finished by now, but alas. I guess my timeline was a little bit off.

I will say that while I’m definitely not trying to rush this drafting process, there are many other projects on my radar for 2021 which I’m very eager to get to (one of them being an editing project, which is extremely exciting!), and if I’m going to stay on track with my gameplan for those projects, Project Goblin’s gotta hurry up and get a move on. XD Normally I wouldn’t care so much, but the editing project has a very, very hard deadline, and I … well. Let’s just say that if I’m unable to complete the first draft of Project Goblin by August, it’s going to have to take a pause whether it likes it or not.

Also, I’m sure none of you are wondering this, but I’ve been trying to decide whether or not I want to try and blog during this crazy intense month of drafting. Every single time I participate in NaNo, I say that I’m going to blog through it. But then that sort of falls by the wayside (along with my project), and essentially I accomplish none of the things I said I wanted to accomplish. However, after much thought, I’ve decided to try this one more time.

As far as I’m able, I would really really like to blog during Camp NaNoWriMo! I’m not sure if it’s actually going to happen or not, but we shall see! It’s definitely on my radar of things I’d like to do, and even if it’s only weekly updates that take literally two seconds to slap together, I still want to maintain a presence during July. (you know. especially since I’ve been MIA for the past couple weeks. XD)

However, please do not be shocked if it turns out I’m unable to hold up to this. I have literally no clue what sorts of things July may hold, and because of that, I can’t promise that blogging is going to take a high priority. My first and foremost priority this month is drafting Project Goblin. After that … well, honestly I don’t really know. XD

But rest assured that whether or not I’m lurking around the blogosphere this month, there WILL be blog posts in August, and—if all goes according to plan—something very, VERY exciting happening that month, as well! (mwahahahahahahahahahaha!)

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talk to me, peasants!

Is anyone else participating in Camp NaNo next month??? If so, I’m actually using the website again this time around (I haven’t been using it previously, and the struggle is REAL), so please come and friend me! Also tell me what kind of project you’ll be working on, and whether or not you’ll be blogging during Camp! I want to hear about ALL of the fun creative things you’ve got planned this summer!

And as always, until next time …

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

Life & Other Disasters! – an update

good morning, cyberspace!

So! Some of you might have noticed that I have not posted for a couple weeks. This was in no way supposed to happen, and I am really quite sorry that it did. However, as I am sure you will come to see in the next few paragraphs, life has been a little funky lately, friends. XD It’s in no way a bad thing–actually, two out of the three major circumstances are really quite good! But as it is, sometimes life prevents us from doing the things which we love.

Fortunately, the things we love have a way of sticking around until we can make it back to them.

So! Today, in leu of the fact that I don’t currently have a super amazingly epic blog post lurking around my drafts folder waiting to be posted, I’d thought I’d give a smidgen of a writing/life update!

Because clearly y’all love hearing me ramble, yes?

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LIFE (and other disasters of similar quality)

Soo. Where have I been, you might be wondering? Where could I–the great and powerful Kenzie–have disappeared off to for two whole entire weeks? (the horror!)

The answer, my friends, is really quite wonderful:

I went on a writing retreat! And technically it was a virtual writing retreat, which … you know … means I didn’t even have to leave my couch. so the fact that this kept me from blogging is entirely irrelevant *cough* but I MUST POINT OUT that during this writing retreat, I was simultaneously having a series of the worst weeks of 2021! So like?? I feel like I should get some slack there, yes? It’s really difficult for me to be productive and creative when my IRL existence is in shambles and crumbling down around me, but I digress. Life moves on, I discovered some really amazing writing advice from the curators of the writing retreat, and here I am today to tell you all about my progress in both my WIP (project goblin, for those keeping score), and my real life! (more on both of these things below).

But first, I want to tell you guys the reason that I missed a post for this specific Tuesday. Because technically the writing retreat ended last weekend, so I should have had plenty enough time to draft something. But I sorta kinda completely blew off writing a blog post for Tuesday to … er … go to a trampoline park?

…and then I completely busted up my ankle. While bouncing on a trampoline. At said trampoline park.

I didn’t say I was proud of it, okay? XD

So Tuesday after work, instead of following my initial plan to sketch up a blog post and throw it onto the internet, I decided to spend the evening with a whole gang of coworkers and friends. It was a jolly, high-energy time which I’m SO thankful for, but then, towards the end of the night when we were all beginning to crave Chick-Fil-A, I took a leap of faith on one final trampoline, stumbled, tripped, and face-planted into a giant foam mattress that completely absorbed me into its comforting embrace.

And suddenly there was an intense burning sensation in my left ankle.

Fast forward to today (Friday night), and I’m sitting on the couch sporting a deliciously galaxy-like bruise and questioning not only my sanity, but the sanity of anyone who dares enter a trampoline park.

And yet? I have no regrets, my friends. Absolutely none at all. XD #noregerts (except, you know, for the GIANT BRUISE ON MY ANKLE. But like it’s fine. I had fun. 10/10 will not be going back.)

But yeah, that’s about it for the life update! There are some Other Things going on behind the scenes that I don’t feel quite comfortable talking about yet (nothing but good things, of course!), but to give a conclusion on that aforementioned terrible series of weeks I experienced recently, I’ve been on the receiving end of God’s grace and His everlasting kindness the past couple weeks, and everything that was piling up around me to the point of near-suffocation has–despite all odds–been completely flipped on its head. Life is good. My heart is full. My foot looks like the backdrop for a wormhole.

I’m happy, guys. I’m really, really happy.

And also slightly in pain.

And now, on to the writing update!

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WRITING (Behind The Scenes of Project Goblin)

Okay, so this is something that I’m EXTREMELY excited to talk about, guys! I don’t have a whole lot to share right now (bummer), but I do have a lot of excitement for this story and where it’s headed!

I think the last substantial update I gave for The Girl and The Goblin King had something to do with my revelation/breakthrough, in which I discovered that this story had a slight Wizard of Oz vibe to it. Now, a month or so and 12 chapters later, I’ve finally reached a spot in this novel that I had yet to reach.

My friends, lords and ladies, children and hobgoblins–we have officially reached the hall of the goblin king.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for YEARS now. Never in all my rewrites, in all of my drafts, in all of my half-finished NaNo’s, have I gotten to the goblin king’s castle. Never. Not even once.

And yet….here we are. Technically I haven’t exactly stepped foot into the castle yet, but rest assured that this will be happening tonight. I have a wee bit of writer’s block at the moment from this being such a momentous occasion in the drafting of this novel, but the good news is that since I know the cause (MOMENTOUS OCCASION, YEET!), I know exactly how to fix it.

…just keep writing.

And since I’ve got a bum leg and a Saturday of doing nothing before me, I have a vaguely good feeling about what I’m going to be working on over the weekend. XD

Aside from the fact that we have now entered the hall of the goblin king, I’d also like to mention that my main terror child, Annalora, has decided to completely shut me out. She won’t talk to me–or even look at me, for that matter–but this is all fine and dandy since Todd has decided to become my new best friend. He’s a nervous mess, and apparently becoming a nervous mess about potential death and hallucinatory nightmares is enough to crack him open and get him talking? To be honest, I’ll take it. Annalora I can fix in a later draft. Todd is the man carrying this story at the moment, and I kinda need my leading guy to develop some sort of a personality within the first draft.

But I digress. Of more notable quality, Todd’s sanity is slowly whirlpooling down the drain, my walking tree got left behind because he couldn’t fit inside a tiny secret passage, and WE HAVE FINALLY DISCOVERED MY CREEPY TRIPLET BOYS!!

I’m probably most excited about that, quite frankly. My triplets are some of the most disturbing creatures I’ve ever dreamed up, and getting to flesh them out further on the page has been an experience. I’m not sure they’re quite up to par with the vision living inside my head, but you know what? This is a first draft. It’s allowed to be a little subpar every now and then!

As far as wordcount goes, I am very, very behind on my goals for June, but my progress through the story has been so substantial recently that I can’t bring myself to be disappointed. Currently, I’m deciding to focus on scenes rather than wordcounts. It seems a little less harsh on my mentality towards writing, and though I may not be progressing as quickly as I want to be, I know that I’m filling out these chapters in a way that feels right. Every book is different, I guess, and for right now, slow and steady is how this book is demanding to be written.

I do–as I might have mentioned previously–have a hard deadline for this book, but as of right now I’m not going to be sharing it anywhere on cyberspace. It’s not only a protection for my own sanity, but also to keep me from stressing about breaking yet another goal deadline in front of everyone on the internet. XD But rest assured that you will all know the moment the first draft of this book is completed! I am extremely excited to have the first draft of Project Goblin FINALLY under my belt, and though it might take a little longer than initially expected, I’m pushing forward with everything I have, and am determined to complete this manuscript before the year is out…!

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talk to me, peasants!

And that, my friends, about sums up my life update for today! Personal injuries, fun writing plans, and a whole slew of messy life-ish-ness… I gotta say, this year is really shaping up to be quite the whirlwind. But that’s quite enough about me! Tell me something about YOU!

Have you ever blown off writing priorities to spend a night with friends? Are you working on anything special during the beginning of these glorious summer months? What is the WORST injury you’ve ever sustained as a human? (not gonna lie–this one is ranking uip there)

Let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below! And until next time…

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

THE JOLLY GENRE JUBILEE TAG – A Writing Tag by Yours Truly

GOOD MORNING CYBERSPACE!

This is my absolute favorite time of year, guys. May is kind of like a snapshot from a Polaroid. It’s bright skies and warm weather and bare feet in cool grass and strawberry milkshakes and messy hair. I used to think that April was my favorite Spring month, but now I’m sure it’s May. There’s magic in the air this month, my friends. I can feel it.

And what better way to celebrate this magical feeling than with a writing tag! I mean, clearly this has nothing to do with the magic that is May, but I recently had an idea for a tag that revolved around fictional genres, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head ever since. So clearly I need to get it out of my system so I can go back to binge reading the entire Harry Potter series for the fiftieth time.

Of course, as always, there are a few housekeeping rules to go over before we can dive into the fun stuff, but don’t worry. It’s very, very simple. (and basically like every other blog tag rules and regulations segment, so feel free to skip it if you’re feeling particularly rebellious.)

I would also like to apologize for the lack of a blog post yesterday. I was reading Harry Potter and The Prizoner of Azkaban, and goodness me I could not pull myself out of it. oops.

THE JOLLY GENRE JUBILEE: A WRITING TAG

RULES & REGULATIONS

  • thank the blogger who tagged you, and leave a link back to their blog
  • leave a link back to the creator of the tag >> (I mean, technically this bit is optional, but I’d really appreciate a link back, especially if you enjoyed the tag!)
  • answer the questions honestly, and include at least one (1) gif of a pelican >> it’s in the rules, folks. you have to do it.
  • tag 3+ friends to do the tag on their own blogs! >> and make sure to give them cookies. because that’s always fun.

See? That wasn’t so hard, was it? *rifles casually through my collection of pelican GIFs* And now on to the actual tag!

THE TAG

i. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GENRE TO WRITE?

Ah, yes. Let’s start off with the most difficult question, shall we? (you’d think as the creator of this tag, I would have had more sympathy for myself. clearly this is not the case.)

I think my favorite genre to write (at the moment) is soft fantasy. Hard fantasy is  a wee bit difficult for me to swallow at times, but soft fantasy with dragons and the occasional gnome and a rogue wolf-pack living on the edge of a dangerous, slightly creepy wood? YES, PLEASE. I will forever write soft, whimsical fantasies. I may not be the next Tolkien with a wide, sprawling fantasy world, but soft fantasy worlds are where I thrive, and therefore that is where I choose to live. XD

ii. WHAT GENRE WOULD YOU NEVER GET CAUGHT WRITING? . . .EVER.

Ignoring the blatantly obvious (*cough*erotica*cough*), I think the genre I would have to pick for this would be Westerns. I’m just . . . not a cowgirl, folks. I’m sorry, but cowboy stories ain’t for me.

Now, I guess this is not to say that I would never ever ever write a Western. If the right plot bunny came along, I guess I would have no choice but to follow it to the ends of the earth. (ya know. as I do.) But at this precise moment, I haven’t had any cowboys sidle into my saloon begging to be written yet.

I also don’t know as if I’d ever write a Rom-Com. Now, this one’s a little weird, because I DO appreciate reading/watching a good Rom-Com! (You’ve Got Mail, Tweet Cute, Decoy Bride, etc.), but as for actually writing one?

Aha. . . Yeah, I don’t think that would ever happen, folks.

iii. WHAT FICTIONAL GENRE FEELS MOST LIKE HOME TO YOU?

Ooooh! This would probably have to be Fantasy(again.) Especially–as I previously mentioned–of the soft™ variety.

Seriously. Give me a book filled with gnomes and dwarves and eerie forests and nymphs and pixies and I will settle in, build a house made of logs, and raise my three pig children there in perfect ecstasy.

(just a guess here, but I’m going to assume that a LOOOOOT of us bloggers are going to choose fantasy for this question. let’s see if I’m proven wrong.)

iv. IF YOU COULD TRANSFORM YOUR IRL INTO ANY GENRE OF YOUR CHOOSING, WHICH WOULD IT BE?

lol . . . rom-com?

OKAY OKAY, REAL ANSWER TIME. I’m honestly not sure which genre I would pick, to be perfectly honest. I’d say Fantasy, but since I’ve chosen that for so many questions already, I think I want to pick something a little less obvious.

So I think I’m going to pick Steampunk. But like, more specifically, a Steampunk Fantasy. And if we’re getting seriously nitty gritty with the details, a Steampunk Fantasy Alice in Wonderland Retelling.

(okay this kinda sounds like Splintered by A.G. Howard. clearly I need to read this book. XD)

v. WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR IRL MOST RESEMBLE AT THE MOMENT?

Aha . . . hahaha . . . heh.

Well, seeing as though I’m writing this during the height of a plague, I’d have to say Dystopian.

End of the universe plague, people dropping like flies, the entire world under lockdown… If that doesn’t sound like your run-of-the-mill dystopian novel, I’m not entirely sure what does.

vi. WHAT’S A GENRE YOU’RE INTERESTED IN WRITING, EVEN THOUGH YOU’VE NEVER WRITTEN IT BEFORE?

So since Middle Grade technically does not count as a genre, I’m going to have to go with Steampunk. AGAIN.

Technically everlost has a subtle trace of Steampunk within it, but I haven’t actually done a full-blown Steampunk novel yet. But the whole metal-cogs and funky attire and brass goggle appeal . . . man, I want to write something like that.

I also haven’t written a full-blown sci-fi yet, and that’s something I’d really like to delve into someday. I just . . . don’t feel smart enough to actually get my facts straight with that one. Maybe someday when I become a brain surgeon or neuro-scientist (what even is that) I’ll be able to feel confident enough in my ability to write such a tale, but for now I’m at the mercy of Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman.

vi. WHAT GENRE IS YOUR MOST RECENT PLOT BUNNY, AND WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

Oh goodness. I….actually don’t know if I have an answer to this one. I’ve been so focused on writing my current WIP, The Girl and The Goblin King, that I haven’t exactly been letting my mind wander into the unseen lands where plot bunnies dwell. BUT. I do have an idea for my next book, and I think it’s one of my most recent plot bunnies? It’s Pumpkalagoo, and it’s a smol Middle Grade fantasy which involves a which and a crow. I’m 100% positive I don’t remember where it came from, but I love it.

Oh! I’ve also been toying with my misfit pirate story again recently, and that’s been a lot of fun! I guess the fact that I’ve been getting new ideas for it counts as a plot bunny, right? Right?

Eh, who cares. I made this tag. I’m allowed to bend it a bit to suit my needs. XD

happy drake GIF

vii. HOW MANY GENRES HAVE YOU WRITTEN THUS FAR IN YOUR WRITING JOURNEY?

Holy guacamole, how on earth am I supposed to answer this? who made these questions????

Okay. Let me dredge up the deepest, darkest memories from my past writing ventures (this will not be pretty folks):

* I’ve marked the books that I’ve actually finished with a ♥, and books that I’m working on/hope to write someday are marked with a ∴ . All other stories have either been scrapped or shelved. Oops.

  • Fantasy
    • The Dragon Elements ♥
    • Some story about a magical kingdom and horses and dragons (I wrote like a page of this before giving up. it was . . . bad?)
    • a story about a girl who FOUND a magical kingdom where she could talk to animals. (there was a bird that delivered mail by air-bombing it onto your head. that was the most interesting part.)
    • a story where horses could talk? (oh my goodness. there were cowboys that the horses called “wranglers” in this book. WAS I WRITING A WESTERN??? [well, we’re filing it under Fantasy because . . . talking horses.)
    • Project Sunset (previously known as SK) 
    • White As Snow, Dark As Night >> this particular novel is one that I’ve been piecing together bit by bit just for me. I don’t foresee this one ever making it to shelves, but who knows? ∴
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy
    • everlost ♥
  • Paranormal/Fantasy
    • The Girl and The Goblin King
    • Gretel >> this one is published on Wattpad. I would highly recommend not checking it out.
  • Dystopian
    • RESET
    • DELETED (yes, these two novels were related.)
  • Contemporary
    • a story about a rebellious girl who took writing lessons from a strange old hermit. >> I was writing this on my typewriter. It was not fun.

Assuming that this isn’t even ALL of the stories I’ve started and scrapped in all my years of being a writer, I’m kind of shocked by how long this list grew. I don’t think I’m missing any genres, but chances are I’ll publish this and like five other genres will spring into mind afterwards.

>>><<<

TAG! YOU’RE IT!

All right, folks! Now that I’ve answered the questions, it’s time to tag some of you guys to do the tag with me! Now, since this is the pioneer voyage for this smol tag as it sails out into the blogosphere, I want to tag every single person who’d like to participate! Seriously. If you’re interested in doing this tag, please please PLEASE accept this as an official tag from me! I’d love to see your answers!

But, since it’s technically in the rules (that I totally made up) to tag and link back to at least three other bloggers, here’s a few blogs that you should DEFINITELY check out!:

(I’m honestly not sure if I’m tagging these people because I want them to do the tag, or because I’d really like everyone to discover their blogs if they haven’t already. . . So yeah. There ya go. XD)

THE QUESTIONS

What is your favorite genre of fiction to write?

What genre would you NEVER get caught writing? . . .EVER.

What fictional genre feels most like home to you?

If you could transform your real life into any genre of your choosing, which would it be?

What genre does your real life most resemble at the moment?

What’s a genre you’re interested in writing, even though you’ve never written it before?

What genre is your most recent plot bunny, and where did it come from?

How many genres have you written thus far in your writing journey?



TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!

And there you have it, folks! The Jolly Genre Jubilee Tag by Yours Truly! Did I have trouble coming up with a name for this one? Yes. Was it still fun to create? YES! Hopefully you guys will think so, too, because I would REALLY love to see your answers to these questions! And if you’ve got any more genre-specific questions you’d like to add on at the end, go ahead and do that, too! I was initially hoping for ten questions, but I guess eight’s as good as any.

But anyway! Questions!:

What’s your absolute FAVORITE genre to write? What’s your absolute favorite genre to read? Are they exactly the same, or–if not–how different are the two? (would you ever consider writing a book in your preferred reading genre?) How many genres have YOU written in your writing journey? (and have you finished the majority of them? or do you, like me, have a giant pile of half-finished manuscripts topped with a soppy blanket of broken tears? i’m fine, i swear.and most important of all. . .

ARE YOU GONNA PARTICIPATE IN MY TAG?

Please say yes!! It would make my whole entire day! And if you do participate, please make sure to leave a link down in the comments below so I can check your answers out! As always, until next time. . .

_flings cookies in the air and disappears_

You Might Be Reading A Kenzie Keene Book If….

good morning, cyberspace!

A long, long time ago, I saw something floating around the blogosphere in which bloggers were spilling all their dirty secrets and revealing common themes found within their manuscripts. I wish with all my heart that I could find those original posts again, but for the life of me I’m unable to track any of them down. (although I DO believe that Christine Smith did one of them?? I just??? cannot seem to find it????? *much confusion*) I think it was started as an original blog concept and then turned into a sort-of-tag, but to be perfectly frank with you all, I honestly have no clue what the origins of said posts were. I just know that it looked like fun, and when I had the idea for this post a few weeks ago, I realized that I’d seen it somewhere before. That, unfortunately, was as far as my brain would take me, for I’ve since been unable to find someone to credit the idea with.

But I digress. If you remember seeing these posts–or even have links to said posts–please feel free to shoot them at me so I can properly credit whoever came up with this concept! For the time being, however, I guess we’re moving on. XD

Ahem.

I’ve been in the writing industry for *quickly counts on fingertips* 10 years now. Ish. My first novel was completed at the tender age of 12, and many, many scribblings had been scribbled and typed before that. During all this time, it would make sense that I’d start to notice patterns within my manuscripts–certain little similarities which make me pause and think, “huh… sure seems like I’ve seen that before…” before prattling on aimlessly as I always do. And I would absolutely be lying if I said I haven’t–on more than one occasion–realized I’d used a particular plot thread or theme or character archetype in a previous book before inserting it yet again into my newest WIP.

I can’t help it, folks. There are just certain things that make my heart squish with all the writerly feels, and I’ll be darned if I don’t continuously find ways to incorporate them into my stories.

So today, I figured I’d make a list of just a few of these common threads in order to bring you all an inexhaustive list of what it takes to write a Kenzie Keene Original!

Because who doesn’t want to emulate my writing style? That’s what I’d like to know.

No Idea Idk GIF by SomeGoodNews

UPDATE!: As I’d hoped, some of my lovely friends found where this thing originated! Supposedly it started as a twitter tag (which???? HOW DID I MISS THE TWITTER TAG. That sounds so fun??), #HowYouKnowIWroteIt, and was eventually brought over to the blogs!! Thank you SO much to Jenelle and Christine for finding this, and you can read both of THEIR blog posts of a similar nature by clicking on their names!!! (you guys are the best and I love you so dearly)

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YOU MIGHT BE READING A KENZIE KEENE BOOK IF…

  • there’s death and/or mutilation within the first 3 chapters

Or, in the case of everlost, within the first chapter. Because clearly this sets a tone that readers will find comforting and acceptable and will 100% not scare them off at all.

Mr Bean Thumbs Up GIF
  • one of the main characters is a young child (typically a girl) with a penchant for murder destruction

Adaline, Annalora, Shelby…

From my three main novels come three young girls who will 10/10 destroy an entire city block in order to protect those they love. Or, in Annalora’s case (The Girl and The Goblin King, for those wondering where this particular child hails from) an entire universe.

Aha… This story is a fun one to write, guys.

  • the main character–or one of–is male. and also severely snarky and/or clueless

I have so many of these, guys. XD In fact, I don’t think it would be a Kenzie book at this point if it didn’t include an entirely clueless, snarky, and potentially unreliable male narrator. Probably the most well-known of these is Thao from everlost, but I also have Ed and Fitz (Project Sunset), Todd (The Girl and The Goblin King), Peter (everlost again), and Finnigan (N/A).

  • there are multiple points-of-view

Sometimes–very infrequently, but sometimes–people ask me how I write such large books. “Why are your novels hundreds of thousands of words long, Kenzie?” they ask, their eyes round and innocent and completely oblivious to the true horror of watching your manuscript grow to the size of a small rhinoceros. And every time I sort of flail awkwardly, not truly knowing how to answer. But I think I’ve finally hit on the reason for it all, and that, my friends, is the above bullet point.

I have too many POV’s per book. everlost, which is 150k+ words, had four unique POV’s, and within each one I tried to create a personal character arc and storyline. It was a beautiful chaotic mess, and I have since come to the conclusion that in future stories–to rid myself of horrifying word counts–to cut points-of-view down to two at the most. Maybe three if I’m feeling particularly auspicious.

Project Sunset had two POV’s, and the first draft of that novel came out at around 120k–still large, but far more acceptable. The Girl and The Goblin King has exactly one, and I’m shooting for a goal of 90,000 words.

Actually, speaking of large word counts…

  • it has 150k+ words

*points dejectedly towards above checkpoint*

  • there’s light romance (read: none)

I’m not huge on writing romance (which is strange, coming from a hopeless romantic, but I digress). I understand that this is something that makes the publishing industry–and even the movie industry–go round and round and round, but to be honest, I find it far more fun to write other things. Things like goblins and fairies and death shadowy creatures with big teeth. I prefer to focus on the adventure aspect of story, and if I have any romance whatsoever, it typically comes in the form of–

  • a random Scottish man is pining after a prim Englishwoman

Most people are probably like ????? right about now. After all, this seems like a very specific thing to write into one’s stories. But after two stories organically producing characters built upon this precise metric, I feel like it’s a little too coincidental not to note it down.

And also can someone please help me figure out where all the Scotts are coming from, because they’re getting a wee bit out of hand and I’m frightened.

  • the mentor dies

I’m sure this is less a “Kenzie thing”, and more a “fantasy genre” thing, but I still feel it’s worth noting. Mentors die. No one likes it. No one looks forward to it (unless it’s a really idiotic mentor, which … that’s a whole thing in and of itself). But it happens and it’s there and it’s a wonderful motivator for the final act of a story. And so, to become the cliche I’ve always been destined to become, I tend to milk this particular trope for all it’s worth.

You just can’t dodge the facts, friends.

  • found family/fierce friendships

I’m a sucker for a good found family, okay? There’s just something so wholesome and pure about a group of complete strangers coming together and saving the world and–GASP–learning to love each other like the weird little family that they are.

everlost, Project Sunset, and The Girl and The Goblin King all use this particular thread (albeit differently) and I’m not sorry about it in the SLIGHTEST. It’s one of my favorites, and it will continue to be one of my favorites until the day that I stop obsessing over Jim Moriarty.

(i.e. this will never happen #yeet)

  • bromance

Yeah…. Unashamedly, I tend to write some stellar bromances into my novels. Peter and Thao, Ed and Fitz, Sam and Eugene… Fierce bro friendships make me uncannily happy, guys. I cannot explain it. XD

  • fairytale elements & retellings

I feel like I’ve said it before, and I will continue to say it until the day I die: I adore fairytales and fairytale retellings. I simply cannot get enough of them! And, more specifically, I love writing fairytales and fairytale retellings.

I’ve often said that The Girl and The Goblin King is a fairytale of my own making, and *cough cough* I may or may not have written a secret fairytale retelling in the past. Fairytales are something I’m just so passionate about: the magic, the whimsy, the forests filled with secrets and twinkly twilight atmosphere. Whimsical stories will always have my heart, and I’d be extremely disappointed in myself if someday I discovered that I didn’t love them as deeply as I do now.

  • villains you love to hate
Proud Starz GIF by Outlander

This one’s a wee bit newer. (for anyone who’s read everlost, you will probably know I struggled a wee bit with the antagonist) But within my more recent manuscripts, I feel as though I’ve locked in on my own particular brand of villain.

I’m especially excited for the villain of The Girl and The Goblin King. I technically haven’t even written him yet, but–with any luck–that will soon change. And I am SO. EXCITED. to finally get to meet this guy! He’s so creepy and weird and charming and 10/10 will murder your uncle for a piece of chocolate cake.

  • themes of brokenness, forgiveness, and redemption

And last but not least, we have reached our final point for what it takes to write a Kenzie book!

I think, more often than not, writers often infuse their stories with the themes they’ve experienced personally. As for me, I’ve had many instances in which I’ve dealt with the three themes above, and I think it shows in the stories I create. I love writing about how broken things can still shine–how their brokenness can actually make them shine brighter. I love themes of forgiveness, of finding yourself after you thought you were broken beyond repair and would never return to the you that you were Before. I love redemption arcs.

I love stories which show the cracks of human nature and the all-encompassing forgiveness of God.

And I think, in the end, that’s why I write these books. Because I’ve experienced the failure, the collapse, the darkness which grows in your heart when you feel the furthest from grace that you’ve ever felt. And I’ve felt the release, the understanding that there is Hope in a world which is nothing but darkness and shadow. I’ve been broken and forgiven. I’ve fallen and have been helped up. And it’s a beautiful wonderful magical thing–something I want to share with everyone who reads my words.

And while I understand that you can’t write the same theme into every story, I also know that there’s hardly a day that goes by in which God doesn’t show me His grace through even the smallest of things. And if He can continue to find new ways to show me His love, why can’t I do the same in my novels?

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talk to me, peasants!

Let’s talk common themes! What sorts of things do you find reoccurring within your stories? Are you a writer who tends to write the same–or similar–themes into your novels, or do you prefer a fresh start with each and every WIP? Are you a fan of Found Family? Bromance? CHARMING VILLAINS??? As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below! And until next time…

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

featured photo by Fang-Wei Lin on Unsplash

Camp NaNoWriMo, 2021 – preparation

good morning, cyberspace!

Camp NaNoWriMo is just over a week away, and I am officially starting to panic. Not in an “oh my goodness I’m going to die” kind of way, but an “lol things are happening and I’m not sure if they’re good but YEET LET’S DO THIS ANYWAY” kind of way. It’s honestly very inspiring, and I’m even more excited for April than I was before, which is … saying something.

Aside from panicking about the approaching NaNo, my brain has also decided to start splitting itself away from the projects I’m supposed to be focusing on, and has instead popped a very intriguing, very time-consuming idea into my head. As of right now, it’s still in the very first stages of speculation. I still don’t know when or if or how long it will take to finalize should I continue with it, but I can say that while this new project is exceedingly exciting, I’m forcing myself to keep its progress to a strict minimum in the weeks to come. Most–if not all–of my writing time is currently devoted to Project Goblin, this blog, or writing random short stories for my own sheer amusement. Anything else is simply a distraction.

…or that’s what I’m trying to tell myself, at least.

I definitely did not start a Scapple board two nights ago onto which I’ve started flinging all of my wildest hopes and dreams for this project. Definitely not. (stop looking at me like that, I’m completely fine.)

Anyway, in honor of Camp NaNoWriMo’s ever-quickening approach, I’ve decided to make a list of completely non-writing related things I’d like to accomplish before the first of April! I mentioned in last week’s post that there really wasn’t much to do for Project Goblin prep-wise, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing I can do to mentally prep for NaNo! So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

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camp nanowrimo, 2021 — preparation

one – deep-clean my room

First thing’s first, I’ve been undergoing a deep, DEEP clean of my room lately, and I’d like to get that finished up before Camp NaNo comes. It’s not so much of a “this will help get me in the mindset for writing” kind of thing, but more of an “if I have all of this random stuff-purging done before April, I won’t have any excuses to procrasticlean”. And let me tell you–I am the QUEEN of procrasticleaning.

So the first step on my to-do list is to get all of my random junk tidied up and sorted out! And while I’m sort of half-n-half when it comes to cleaning, I’m actually weirdly excited for this one. I’m really enjoying the purging process, and I feel like once I’m done, I’ll have more of the things I truly enjoy, and less of the stuff that’s simply taking up space.

two – set up my story board

Or, as my writing group fondly dubbed it, my murder board. Essentially, I recently had the grand idea to start plotting out the scenes that still need to be written for Project Goblin–and any editing notes I’m going to be making for Project Sunset–out on my corkboard! My mom gave me a whole stack of neon-colored index cards which are PERFECT for color-coding different stories, and I’m extremely excited to start. Plotting has never gone too well for me in the past, but I think if I leave it open enough, my curious brain will still find nooks and crannies to investigate and pilfer through, which will continue to add a sense of discovery to the writing process which my brain so clearly craves.

three – prepare Project Sunset notebook

In order to start taking notes on Project Sunset, I need to get my notebook ready. I haven’t taken notes on a draft since everlost, and I’ll admit I’m a little bit rusty. But I have some Thoughts on how I want to take notes for this project, and while it may seem a little too advanced for my simpleton of an easily-distracted brain, I’m still choosing to be optimistic about this approach.

I also have a really cute notebook that I used while drafting this book, and MY GOODNESS I’m so excited to use it again… Toting that notebook around literally made me so happy when I was writing Project Sunset, and getting to bust it out again kinda feels like coming home.

four – equip myself with proper work attire

Fun fact: both jobs I’ve held within the past two years had mandated work attire. At Goodwill, I had to wear a bright blue shirt and–for the first 8 or 9 months–khakis. (this later turned into jeans, and my dear goodness it was the most wonderful change) At the coffee shop, I have to wear a store shirt and either a hat, visor, or headband. (I usually choose the hat.) I never really put much thought into mandated work attire other than the typical “huh. I wish I didn’t have to wear this today” kind of thing, but recently….recently I’ve begun to notice something.

The first day you wear your work uniform, you have this weird sense of imposter syndrome. You look at yourself in the mirror and wonder how on earth you managed to hoodwink your employer into hiring you, because holy guacamole you’re underqualified for this position. But then, as you get trained (or, in the case of Goodwill, thrown on the register and wished the best of luck) and begin to learn the ins and outs of the industry, you start to feel this strange sense of belonging when you go to work. You know what you’re doing (kinda), you love what you do and do what you love, and your uniform signifies that. You’re no longer an imposter in a hat. You’re someone who belongs.

And not only that, but for me, personally, I’ve noticed that whenever I’m at work, I have no trouble getting myself to stay dedicated and determined to succeed for my allotted time on the clock. There’s no sense of wanting to procrastinate. There’s no endless scrolling on my phone as soon as there’s a lull in work. Whenever it quiets down and there’s nothing straightforward to be doing, my brain automatically clicks into “find something productive to do” mode.

It shocks people when I tell them I’m a disorganized mess. It boggles their brain meats. Why? Because the person I give to others at work is a complete opposite of the person I give to myself. When I’m working for someone else, I’m committed and “on” at all times. I’m dedicated to my work and am willing to learn and grow and get better with each passing day. When I’m working for myself, I tend to grow stagnant. I tell myself that this pressing thing I’m supposed to be working on can be done tomorrow. I let myself procrastinate. I tell myself deadlines don’t matter.

But spoiler alert: deadlines DO matter. And as someone who hopes to someday be self-employed, I need to start treating my personal deadlines and goals with as much respect as I treat those imposed on me by others.

So I’ve been doing some self-reflection. I’ve been digging a little deeper into my psyche to understand the why’s behind this most confusing jumble of mental blockages. And after much thought and one too many lost staring contests with the floral patterned wall, I realized that there is one significant difference between my days clocked in as a writer and my days clocked in as a barista.

…at the coffee shop, I have a hat.

And it may not seem like much, but I have come to the conclusion that this hat is instrumental in my excellent work ethic. So after some digging, I decided to purchase a writing hat.

It’s coming in the mail on Friday, and I’m going to start wearing it every time I sit down to write.

…I cannot be stopped, peasants.

five – gather and curate my nanowrimo survival kit

Every year, I try to create a survival kit for Ultimate NaNo Success, and every year, I hardly use the things which I so carefully place inside of it. But this year … yeah, this year isn’t going to be any different. But I’m still going to create my survival kit, because GUYS. IT IS FUN.

And if you don’t believe me, you’ve clearly never created your own survival kit, and therefore I urge you to go change this immediately.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to be placing inside my Survival Kit this year, but I guarantee it’s going to have some sort of Goblin-esque themed notebook, my USB drive (a must for intense drafting), and an assortment of pens and pencils I shall completely ignore in favor of a random black pen I find in the family pencil basket. (I’ve accidentally stolen a lot of those pens, actually… My apologies to my family members who can never seem to find a normal pen anywhere.)

Also maybe some snacks, my laptop (obviously), and a carefully curated playlist which I will also completely ignore in favor of my work playlist, which is fondly dubbed ’tis but a bop. (I’m so clever, oh my goodness.)

If my survival kit turns out to be something rather noteworthy, I’ll do my best to write a blog post on it! But for right now, I’m gonna stick with a Vague Mention of the thing. XD It really is fun putting these together, though, so seriously. 10/10 recommend creating one for yourself. (and if you DO end up making one, tell me all the things you put inside of it in the comments! I want to hear about others’ survival kits!!)

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talk to me, peasants!

And there you have it–my list of to-do’s to mentally prepare for the gloriousness that is Camp NaNoWriMo! Not listed are the sleepless nights and internal screaming matches between me and the Void, but I figured those were safely implied.

But now it’s your turn! what sorts of things do you do to prepare yourself–physically, mentally, etc.–for NaNoWriMo? do you have any “writing attire” that you wear while writing, or–similarly–any talismans that bring you good luck when writing? what kinds of things do you store in your writerly survival kit? are you participating in Camp NaNo this year, and if not, how can I convince you to change your mind? XD

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

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

Camp NaNoWriMo, 2021 — planning + plotting

good morning, cyberspace!

In honor of nothing particularly interesting happening in February in regards to my writing journey, I move to completely ignore last month’s statistics and instead pretend like everything is fine and my goals for the year are definitely not going up in flames before my very eyes. All in favor, say aye!

Lovely. Let’s move on!

So! It’s March! The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, my writerly muse has finally decided to return from his extended vacation in the Bahamas (thanks, Chess), and I–after a long, tiring winter–have decided that now is as good a time as any to dust off the potential I left to rot in the back of my closet and scrape together some semblence of a writing routine to get me through the next few months! And–with any luck–finally make some substantial progress on my current works-in-progress!

This surge in creating inspiration is aided by the fact that Camp NaNoWriMo begins next month (!!!). This will be my fifth year participating in the Camp session of NaNoWriMo, and let me tell you, folks: I could not be more excited. Camp NaNoWriMo–April’s session, in particular–holds a very dear place in my heart. It has helped me stay accountable to and finish so many of my writing projects, and–with any luck–this year it will be instrumental in doing it again.

I have many plans and ideas and goals for this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and while a part of my brain fears I may be biting off a wee bit more than one man can chew, I’m also incredibly excited to see what the next couple months have in store for both me and my projects!

…ah yes. You read that correctly. I’m going to be working on project(s) next month. Because I am nothing if not incredibly optimistic about the amount of side-hussles I can maintain.

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camp nanowrimo, 2021

With Camp NaNoWriMo just around the corner, there are two types of people crawling out of the woodworks: the writers who squeal and scream about Camp Nano and all their exciting plans for the month ahead, and their friends, who are even now buying earplugs to avoid the long, endless ramblings of writers who know not when to stop talking about half-bred goblin kings and monstrous trolls who may or may not actually exist.

I, of course, belong in the former category, and rightly so. I earned my “I’m a NaNo Fanatic” badge at the tender age of seventeen, when my friends would roll their eyes every time I started in again on the gloriousness which was Camp NaNoWriMo. “Here we go again” was a phrase I quickly became acquainted with, and one I adjusted to with just as much ease. There was a time when I wondered if perhaps I was a wee bit overexuberant in my NaNo excitement.

I now know that there is no such thing.

This year, however, while I’m planning on working on multiple projects, I am hoping that it’s a quieter sort of NaNo for me. I’ve only just gotten my excitement for writing back since it slipped out the window last autumn, and while I’m trying to get as much out of this sudden inspiration-fueled stint as I possibly can, the last thing I want is to use it all up and be left stranded again. So the plan is to gently grow my creativity over the next two months, carefully easing myself into longer writing projects as I reestablish myself into the writing groove I completely fell out of. Of course, as with most of my plans, I’m not holding out much hope for its success. But they say the best way to grow is to try everything you possibly can until eventually something sticks, so I guess I’m on a solid path.

(me. i said this. don’t judge me, please, i’m small.)

But all that aside, the projects I have prepped for Camp NaNo 2021 are–if I do say so myself–some of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on in a while. They’re books which feel like stepping stones towards the writer I want to be someday, and with a month filled with stories like that, well … what can possibly go wrong?

(*nervous laughter*)

project one – the girl and the goblin king

For anyone who’s been paying attention (lol, not me), The Girl and The Goblin Kingi is my YA paranormal fantasy, complete with goblins (duh), a starving artist, creepy triplets, and an anthropomorphic tree. So, essentially, it’s like a nightmare come to life, and I adore every single part of it.

There’s not a whole lot to do in regards to prepping this one, actually. I’m currently knee-deep in the first draft, so the majority of prep-work is simply me showing up to the story every day and putting words to the page–something I have obviously been struggling with. In a perfect world, I’d like to work out some of the kinks that I’ve begun to find within the narrative before April so I can start with a mostly clean slate, but this is, unfortunately, a first draft. And first drafts are messy, complicated, and in more ways than one, honestly terrifying to look at. If I’m able to simply hit the midpoint before April 1st, I’ll count my preparatory work as a win.

As for the actual NaNo-ing part of this project, my goal is to finish the first draft of Project Goblin by the end of April. March 31st is my soft deadline for this story, but with such a wild winter, I’ll be more shocked if it happens than if not. So my hard deadline for this project is April 30th, and if I don’t hit it, I will cry and eat a cookie in compensation give myself grace, because that is what I would give to anyone else in my shoes.

(oh, look at that. i think i spot some growth.)

project two – project sunset

Ah, yes. Anyone remember my sunshine child from last April? The gang is returning for another Camp this year, but this time, I’m going to be reading the words I wrote last year! (much nail-biting. such fear.) I literally have not done a deep edit or revision since the Great Everlost Expedition of 2018, and–if I’m being perfectly honest–I’m kind of scared to dive in, here. BUT. I remember greatly enjoying the revision process. It’s something I’ve come to love over the years, and taking something that was once pretty good and turning it into a semi-polished really good thing is where I feel I can really shine as a writer. Or perhaps I just feel that way because most of my first drafts are absolute garbage and I’m trying to convince myself that this does not make me a terrible writer. WHO CAN KNOW. XD

Prep-work for this simply involves compiling all the chapters I’ve written into a PDF (already done), and sending it off to my kindle for reading (soon to be done). Since all I’m doing for this project in April is reading through the book and taking down notes for revision, I’m not too concerned about finishing it within a month. This is mostly a “my brain needs a break from Project Goblin–OH LOOK. SHINY NEW THING” kind of project, so it’s very low-pressure, which is NICE.

I would, however, very much like to get the whole book read and have a solid plan for revision come May if I can! But that’s simply a cherry on top of the Project Goblin First Drafting cake. If it turns out that Project Goblin gets finished, and this poor, unfortunate little pancake is left miserably on its own till the end of Camp, I can’t say as though I’ll be disappointed. I’ll be too ecstatic over my brand new book baby to care too much. XD

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In all truth, I really just want to have some fun with my writing next month. I’ve spent so much of my career wondering if I’m “professional” enough to be a writer–if my words were good enough, bold enough, deep enough. Everyone looks at the greats and sees their writings as these deep, existential plunges into the human existence, and there are moments when I look at my life and the words I piece together and wonder how on earth I could ever compare to those who came before me. I’ll never be the next Hemingway or Tolkien or Lewis. I’ll most likely never write something that will be praised by the masses for its intricate tug into the heart of human life. But I can write things that are strange and quirky and odd. Things that will keep both my readers and myself questioning my ever-decreasing sanity. And I am so excited to take that deep, irreversible plunge into my own originality next month. I want these to be the first steps I take in which I truly allow myself to breathe, to stretch my wings and step off the cliffs of normality into the piercing waters of the unknown. And if it turns out that what I create truly is awful and unfit to be published, then I guess the intense fun I had while writing it will completely outweigh its crippling uselessness to me. XD

talk to me, peasants!

what are you guys working on next month? are any of you participating in camp nanowrimo? have you participated in the past, and if so, do you prefer camp or the OG nano? and for all the writers like me out there, have you ever had to remind yourself that writing should be not only an adventure, but fun? I think sometimes we get so caught up in the act of thinking of our writing as a profession that we forget to have as much fun with it as possible in the process–and I don’t want to stay inside that rut.

Anyway, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below, and as always, until next time…

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

featured photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash