Behind The Scenes of Project Sunset – Writing is Rewriting is Rewriting is Rewriting…

good evening, cyberspace!

*cough cough* Please excuse the construction dust around here, friends! I’ve been reformatting some of this blog’s old pages and behind-the-scenes features, so while things might not look too awful different… there are definitely some new things happening here at the Smudged Thoughts headquarters…

One of which being the revival of the writing update series that I created approximately 3,000 years ago and then promptly forgot about! As one does, naturally.

look, I never said I was perfect, okay XD *kicks the amount of times I’ve called myself flawless under the carpet*

Anyway, back when this series first aired, I named it WIP It–a title I have since come to deeply regret. XD I’m still not sure exactly what I’d like to call this series–or how often I’ll even update this–but for right now I’m calling it “Behind The Scenes”. Because it’s… behind the scenes… of the book I’m writing… aha….

(by now it must be obvious that I have no clue what I’m doing.)

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good morning, 2022 – my plans and plots for the new year!

good morning, cyberspace!

Happy New Year, my friends! I can’t believe it’s already 2022–or January, for that matter–but here we are on the cusp of another shiny new year, hoping (I think) that perhaps this one will be just a little less terrifying than the past couple have been…

To be honest, I don’t think ANYONE expected the 20’s to be… whatever it is the 20’s have been lately. But hey! We’re making the most of it! And what better way to focus on the good than by thinking about plans and plots for the oncoming year? and simultaneously kicking all terrible things that have happened underneath the rug, ne’er to be seen again. this is fine. Specifically, of course, ones in regards to writing, reading, and any otherwise creative pursuits!

Goal creation is one of my favorite things, especially at the start of a new year. Not only is it new and exciting–the very fuel this chaotic creative thrives on–but it also helps hold me accountable to the very many things I want to accomplish within a calendar year. At least, it should hold me accountable. As we discovered last week, sometimes I’m not very good about staying true to the goals I’ve set for myself. XD But! That’s all part of the learning experience, amiright?

So this morning, for our very first post of 2022, I’m going to pull back the curtains of my mind and show you all a sneakety peakety of what I’m planning for this year!

What will I be writing within the coming months? Are there any new stories in the works? Do I have a publishing plan(lol wut)? What about secret projects? Are there any of those? (trick question. there are ALWAYS secret projects in the pipeline.) There’s so much to be excited about in the coming months–some of which I’m not even covering in today’s post–so let’s dive right in and take a look!

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NANOWRIMO, 2021: The Final Stretch

good morning, cyberspace!

Well, friends, we made it! it’s officially December, and NaNoWriMo is behind us once and for all. In case you didn’t notice, I kind of disappeared halfway through the month, but this was less because I didn’t feel mentally capable of writing blog posts, and more the fact that every spare moment I had to write, I was working on my book.

Because by golly, my friends, I was determined to win this NaNoWriMo. Sometimes, however, things don’t go accordingly to plan. Like here. Or right here. Or… ya know, in 2020 when I also failed NaNoWriMo but was wise enough to not document the crippling disappointment. I feel like a constant theme in my life lately is God stabbing a stick of dynamite into my plans before whispering, “Wait. I have something even better planned.”

Except I’m still not sure what that ‘something better’ is, and–though I truly believe He’s right with my whole heart–it’s starting to feel a little bit like clickbait. XD

So when I started off on this NaNoWriMo 2021 journey, I wasn’t holding out that much hope. 15 revised chapters in 30 days certainly seemed like an achievable goal. It sounded easy. But not everything that sounds easy is easy, and nothing is truly quite how it seems.

Which is why I wanted to take this first post of December to recap on what, exactly, happened during those final two weeks of NaNoWriMo.

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NaNoWriMo, 2021 – Week Two

good evening, cyberspace!

It’s currently the evening of Monday the 15th, and I’m sitting here trying to type up an accurate summary of the past week with an insane amount of difficulty.

The goal? Get this post drafted and posted by the end of the night.

The struggle? This week was a blur and I don’t even know what timeline I’m living in anymore, let alone what happened within the past seven days.

But alas! We are officially entering the third week of NaNoWriMo, and I must not let it slip past without acknowledging the week that came before it! So Week Two Recap, here we come!

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Know The Novel – Part Two: Within Project Sunset

good morning, cyberspace!

And we are back with another episode of Know The Novel!–the monthly writer’s linkup hosted by the inimitable Christine Smith! Last month, I talked about the (non-spoilery) details surrounding my current WIP, Project Sunset. This month, we’re going to take a deeper look into the process behind the writing!

If you’re a writer participating in NaNoWriMo–or even just a writer working on a book–I would highly recommend checking out this linkup. You can find the questions to Part One here, and Part Two right here! This linkup is such a fun way to connect with other writers, as well as a much-needed gentle reprieve from the absolute chaos that is writing a book in one of the craziest months of the year, so if you’re not participating already (or if you’ve never read Christine’s blog before), do yourself a favor and check both of them out immediately.

Or, ya know, after you finish reading this post. Because I’m also cool, apparently. XD

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NaNoWriMo, 2021 – The First Week

happy november, cyberspace!

I was going to do a whole introduction post for the first day of NaNoWriMo last week, but alas alack, sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

Whoopsies Oops GIF

The past two weeks have been silent here on my end of the blogosphere, but let me tell ya, folks: that time away was used for some much-needed rest. I have exactly 0 regrets. XD I’ve definitely missed being present on the blogs, though, and now that I’m back, I thought it would be fun to jump back in with a Weekly NaNoWriMo Recap! It’s crazy to think that we’re already a solid week into November, but I guess time truly does fly when you’re having fun! *awkward laughter*

Let’s take a look at the first week of NaNo, shall we?

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PREPTOBER 2021 – Behind The Scenes of The Project Sunset Playlist

good morning, cyberspace!

And welcome back to the 2021 Preptober series! Today’s post is a little more on the lighteared and fun side, which I feel provides a nice little relief from the nitty gritty topics we discussed last week. This particular idea wasn’t voted on too heavily during the Instagram polls, but some of y’all really wanted to see what I had up my sleeve in regards to my Spotify playlists! And who am I to tell you no? If it’s behind-the-scenes content you want, it is behind-the-scenes content you are going to get!

So without further ado, let’s dive into my playlist for Project Sunset!

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BEHIND THE SCENES OF PROJECT SUNSET – THE PLAYLIST

Not gonna lie, this playlist was one of the highlights of drafting Project Sunset. I absolutely adore creating playlists, specifically ones with themes or inspiration for character casts, and this one is by no means an exception. The creation process of this playlist was a labor of pure and intense love, and I am so excited and proud of how it turned out. (and since we’re only just beginning the second draft, I have a feeling it’s only going to grow as time progresses.) However, since this is a Behind The Scenes sort of deal, I feel it is not only necessary, but my duty to share the nitty gritty details behind some of the song selections. Because there is a LOT of thought that goes into choosing a song for a story playlist, my friends. A lot of thought.

And at the forefront of my mind at all times, no matter what song I’m listening to, there are the characters.

I’ve mentioned multiple times that I’m a character-driven writer, so it’s by no means a surprise when I say that my playlists are typically driven by my characters, as well! One of my favorite things to do when learning the “voice” behind the cast of my novels is to find songs that perfectly match their unique personality. And since Project Sunset has so many characters, I have quite a few songs that are character specific.

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THE SONGS BEHIND THE CHARACTERS

ED WHITTAKER

As the Main Main character of Project Sunset, Ed Whittaker’s main theme is technically double-sided. Not only is it his theme, but it’s the Main Theme for the entire novel as a whole! He also has two theme songs in particular, whereas the majority of other characters only have one–thus is the curse of being a side character.

behind the scenes: this is Ed’s Main Theme song, and also one of the very first songs I chose for this playlist! When drafting the first scene of the novel, Song For Ten was the track I listened to in order to orient myself into what I wanted the vibe of the book to be. I still use it to reorient myself into the novel, even, and when I switch over to re-outlining later today, this will be the first song I play before working on my outline.
behind the scenes: this particular song has a very specific part to play in the story of Project Sunset, and I have listened to this track a LOT during the first drafting process! There’s something about the guitar in this song that gets me every time. XD

SHELBY WESTBURN

As the other main character of Project Sunset, Shelby’s theme song is, once again, directly integrated into the plot. I discovered her song while listening to Pandora one day, and it immediately stuck in my head. I knew that it would play during a pivotal scene for Shelby (one that I had planned since the very inception of this novel), but trying to find the song after it stopped playing on our Alexa was nothing short of a nightmare. (curse you, lyric-less music XD)

behind the scenes: not gonna lie, the scene this song was chosen for may or may not have brought tears to my eyes when I drafted it. I’m… not exactly excited to get back to it during the second-drafting process. (even I’m not proud of my Vulcan soul sometimes, friends.)

LIAM FITZ

Not necessarily a Main Character, but still one of my favorites–Fitz’s theme song is one that I still jam out to to this very day… I even went so far as to add it to my work playlist so that all of my coworkers could jam with me. (it’s fine. they love me. kinda.)

behind the scenes: I actually used to HATE this song, and I’m not entirely sure why. Thankfully, I wizened up, because holy guacamole, this song is a bop. Now I can’t help but think of Fitz every time I hear it, and it makes my heart weirdly happy. Any day where Fitz pops into my head, I know it’s gonna be a good one.

CARLOS & JUANITA GUTIERREZ

Not gonna lie, these guys impacted the playlist a LOT. XD Carlos and Juanita love music–particularly songs they can dance to–and there are at least two or three songs on this playlist that they directly influenced due to their passion for dance. However, the song that I’ve chosen to highlight was their “first dance”, if you will. It was also my initiation into actually enjoying some of Michael Buble’s music, which I still blame Carlos and Juanita for to this very day.

behind the scenes: this song is what I envision to be playing in the very first scene in which Carlos and Juanita are introduced. It makes my heart happy to listen to this song now, because all I can see are these two characters being absolute goofballs. (also, a bit of a side tangent, but one time I was working at my old thrift store job, and a guy with the same last name as these characters came through my checkout line. I was so excited I might have fangirled for a moment…and then they never came back.)

BONUS TRACK!

behind the scenes: Another song that is specifically Carlos and Juanita! This song used to come on ALL THE TIME at the thrift store, and I would dance through the aisles, hanging up clothes and trying not to look like the delusional psychopath that I definitely am.

EUGENE CRANDALL

To be honest, this guy is such a minor character that he probably shouldn’t even have his own theme song. But one day my mom started playing this randomly during dinner and… well, honestly the rest is history.

behind the scenes: to be perfectly honest, I have no clue why this song reminds me of Eugene, but if you know the character and his personality… it just… it just makes sense, okay. Trust my word on this one. XD

SAM PLINKETT

Similar to Eugene, this is another minor character who somehow managed to get his own theme song! I can’t really complain, though, because Sam was one of my favorite characters to write during this first draft. He was unpredictable and chaotic, but with a soft heart of gold that made my own Vulcan soul melt. If I’m excited about anything when it comes to this novel, it’s for you guys to meet Sam Plinkett.

behind the scenes: I first heard this song on The Blacklist, which is–oddly enough–where a few of the songs on this playlist came from. XD (tbh, The Blacklist had a BOP of a playlist, so if you haven’t checked that show’s soundtrack out yet, I highly recommend it.) It wasn’t until much later that this song would appear on this playlist, but I love that about music. It’s eternal, in a way, and sometimes the songs you heard a year ago won’t click until they’re meant to.

CASEY CRAWFORD

And last, but certainly not the least, on the flipside to Ed, we have our antagonist–Casey Crawford. And if Ed, our hero, has two songs dedicated in his honor, it only makes sense for the villain to have two songs, as well.

Parallels between Good and Evil and all that.

And that, my friends, is exactly why Casey has two songs! (that, and two songs claimed him organically, so it only made sense to feature both) The songs I chose for Casey are not only ballads, but by one of the greatest musical artists of our time… The man. The myth. The legend. Scott Sterling! Freddie Mercury.

behind the scenes: I’ve always loved Queen, but it wasn’t until Project Sunset that I was finally able to give one of my villains the Queen ballad that they truly deserved. XD I don’t know what it is about this band, but there is ALWAYS a Queen song on each of my story playlists. Always. It literally makes no sense.
behind the scenes: not to give away any spoilers or anything, but the selection of this song was pure genius on my part. Once you know, you know.

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THE SONGS BEHIND THE BOOK

Despite the fact that there are about a gazillion characters in Project Sunset, not all of the songs on my playlist have a specific character to correspond with. Sometimes, a song makes it through simply because it matches the vibe of the book–that particular blend of guitar riffs and vocals that takes you away from this mortal plane and deposits you swiftly into the world of your story.

So while the next few song highlights may not be driven by any character in particular, they are still driven by the story as a whole, and without them, I could never have captured the sound of Project Sunset.

behind the scenes: once again, this song was added very early on when creating the playlist. I knew right away that I wanted Istanbul to be a main staple for this book, and this song along got me through many a tough scene when first drafting.
behind the scenes: if you’ve ever watched a movie in which this song played, you will know the impact it can have during a critical scene. I don’t pride myself on my action/fight scenes. In fact, I think they’re one of my greatest weaknesses as a writer. But this song pushed me through the difficult battles and helped me keep writing, even when my brain was screaming at me to quit and become a goat herder.
behind the scenes: …yeah. I got a lot of my music from The Umbrella Academy. I mean, can you BLAME me? XD That soundtrack was a BOP. But also, I’m just eternally in love with Fitz and The Tantrums. They’re incredible, and they’re music has been used in many of my playlists–both writing and personal.
behind the scenes: I have used this song in almost every single project playlist I have ever made. There’s something about the vibe of this song that just screams “found family”, and I’ve been in love with this track ever since the days of everlost.
behind the scenes: not gonna lie, the only reason I’m including this song is because it reminds me of my one eternal love, Jim Moriarty. That’s it. That’s the Behind The Scenes information. XD

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THE PLAYLIST

And lastly, in case you just wanted to take a peek at the playlist as a whole and listen to it for yourself, I’ve included the entire thing right here for easy access!

Of course, please keep in mind that this playlist is still very much a work in progress, and I’m constantly adding and removing tracks as I see fit. Some songs help me write for a little while before I realize they don’t match the specific vibe I’m going for, and then I’m forced to remove them to make room for the tracks which do fit the vibe. But all in all, this playlist has been–and will continue to be–my constant companion when drafting Project Sunset. And as I prepare to head into this story’s second draft, I expect it to continue morphing and changing with the theme of the story.

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talk to me, peasants!

Okay, y’all! It’s time to talk about one of my favorite topics–MUSIC!

do you create specific project playlists for your stories, or do you prefer to work in silence? if you’re a music listener, what kinds of songs do you typically listen to when writing? and for my non-music friends, do you create playlists to listen to when you’re NOT writing, or do you prefer other methods of inspitation–such as pinterest or aesthetic boards?

As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below!

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

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

good morning, cyberspace!

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

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

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

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PREPTOBER 2021 – My NaNoWriMo Survival Kit: Rebel Edition

good morning, cyberspace!

It’s that time of year again, folks! NaNoWriMo is on its way, and for our first Preptober 2021 post, we’re bringing back a yearly tradition! That’s right! It’s time for this year’s NaNoWriMo Survival Kit: Rebel Edition!

honestly the only reason I’m claiming my rebel title this year is because it reminds me of the Rebel Alliance. do NOT judge me. XD

This year’s survival kit is a wee bit different than years’ past since I’m revising a novel rather than first drafting it, but there are definitely some familiar staples I’ve included! Also, I’ve been trying to fit most of this stuff into my writing bag, and it’s… kinda chunky at this point? Almost back-breaker level chunky. I definitely will not have a hunch by the time this NaNoWriMo is over from hauling this guy all over the place. Absolutely not.

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A Long Overdue Writing Update & Two Exciting Announcements

good morning, cyberspace!

I can’t believe that this is the last post of September. This month has absolutely flown by, and now that I’m sitting at the end of it, I couldn’t tell you where on earth all the time went. The Silmaril Awards have been happening–and if you haven’t managed to check out the Awards Ceremonies yet, I highly encourage you to do so!–and I think I got so swept up in the thrill and excitement of the Silms that I might have forgotten to reveal some very exciting news that happened back in August. (tbh, I might have already told you all about this, but I can’t find a single trace of it anywhere on the blog, so please forgive my cornflake of a brain cell XD) So while I wanted to jump on in here and tell you all my exciting plans for October, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do that until I patched up some untold information in regards to my current WIP, Project Goblin.

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A LONG OVERDUE WRITING UPDATE

So! Last we talked, I believe I was telling y’all about my grandiose plans to try and enter Project Sunset (or SK) into Pitch Wars this year. That, as we all probably could have predicted, did not happen. Of course there was some slight disappointment in regards to this, but all in all, I’m actually not all that sad about it. I knew September was going to be a giant chunk of a month regardless of whether I participated in Pitch Wars or not, and after about the first week of September, I realized that Pitch Wars just wasn’t gonna happen. One month wasn’t near enough time for me to redraft an entire novel–at least not to a point where I was proud of it and willing to let potential mentors look at it–so I decided to drop the idea of Pitch Wars before it could consume me and swathe September in a blanket of anxiety and dread. (and between you and me, it was one of the best decisions I made all month)

But all of this talk and dreaming of Project Sunset begs a very obvious question: what happened to Project Goblin? Astute readers of my blog, followers of my Instagram, and listeners of my everyday life will know that Project Goblin has been my WIP for the past 6 months or so. It’s been one wild adventure after another with that book ever since its birth in 2018, but after some careful consideration, I have decided to no longer work on that book for the time being.

Because I finished its first draft back in August.

Yep! You read that correctly! Project Goblin is no longer just a thought, but a messy, chaotic, plot-holey mess on my hard drive! The characters are a little warped, the setting is a little deprived, and the overall story arc resembles more of a limp noodle than an arc, but my goodness it’s finished! At least, the really sloppy first draft is finished, and that is obviously the hardest part.

I feel like I might have mentioned the fact that I finished this book somewhere in a blog post a month or so ago, but for the life of me I can’t remember saying it. So I’m saying it now! Project Goblin’s first draft is over and done with, and after a much-needed month-long novel hiatus (in which I read good books and essentially just stared at a wall in contemplation for four hours a day), it is my greatest pleasure to announce that I’m back to drafting and ready to dive in to another project!

Which is perfect timing, if I do say so myself, because–*another announcement incoming!*–I’M PARTICIPATING IN NANOWRIMO THIS YEAR!

excitement GIF

Except I’m not participating in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, one might even say that I’m rebelling entirely. But I’m definitely going to be working on a book during the month of November, which obviously means that I’m a perfectly reliable Wrimo, and no one can tell me otherwise… *brandishes pitchfork menacingly*

Ahem. Anyway. Now that I’ve clarified where I’m at with Project Goblin and have announced my rather sketchy participation in NaNoWriMo, you might be wondering… what AM I working on during the month of November? And this, my friend, is a very solid question–and also one that I’m more than happy to announce!

The book that I’ll be working on for NaNoWriMo this year is none other than Project Sunset! (a.k.a SK. a.k.a. oh my word I need to stick to a name for this book already) Despite the fact that I wasn’t able to enter it into Pitch Wars, I still very much want to have a solid second draft of this book done by the end of 2021. It would make this slightly terrifying year feel slightly more productive than it currently does, and also… I’m just so beyond ready for people to be able to read this book already. I know there’s still so much left to do before it’s reader-ready, but a second draft would be one more step closer to that final goal, and that alone makes me excited and inspired to dive in and do the hard work necessary to accomplish that.

However, since NaNoWriMo is still a month away, and technically I’m not QUITE ready to start revising this novel yet, I’ve decided that one more exciting thing should happen between now and November. Something a little bit bloggerly, but also a little bit writerly. And what is this Thing, you might find yourself wondering? What exciting diversions do I have in store for all my NaNoWriMo peeps during the month of October? Well……..

*drumroll please*

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PREPTOBER 2021: The Beginning

For anyone in the NaNoWriMo-sphere, you already know what Preptober is. For those of you who maybe aren’t quite as familiar with this hobgoblin of a writing event, allow me to explain!

Preptober is, essentially, a month long event in which hopeful Wrimos spend the 31 days of October prepping their novels–and themselves–for the 30 days of intense, grueling writing which is to be done during National Novel Writing Month (November). Typically, I don’t do Preptober. I usually pin down what book I want to write somewhere between October 20th and Halloween (#procrastinationftw), do some very minimal prep-work, and then wipe my hands of the mess and call it good. XD But THIS year, since I’m revising a novel and–hopefully–coming out on the other side with a partly revised second draft, I decided to do things a little bit differently! This year, I’m gonna be going all out with my Preptober planning, and you guys get to come along for the ride!

I recently did some polls over on my Instagram page asking for y’all’s opinions on some of the topics I wanted to cover this month, and you guys absolutely delivered! Currently I have 5 posts in the works which cover everything from my re-outlining process, to what’s inside my NaNoWriMo Rebel Survival Kit (a yearly staple at this point XD), to the mentality behind writing. It’s going to be an intense month of writing and prep and all of the delicious creativity, and I am 100% here for it.

All in all, October is going to be packed with writing and work and Halloween and two of my favorite humans’ birthdays, and I’m so excited for all of it. Autumn is the time of year where I truly thrive, and with NaNoWriMo just on the horizon, I sense beautiful magical wonderful things on the way! So thank you all for sticking around and putting up with my slightly chaotic posting schedule as of late. It hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like, but I’ve been managing to get something posted every week, and in this crazy season of life I’m in, I consider that a pretty big win! So here’s to October and all of the craziness it throws our way! Let the Spooky Season officially commence!!!

*maniacal cackling in the distance*

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talk to me, peasants!

are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? if yes, what project are you working on? are you sharing it on the cyberwebs, or are you keeping it private until it’s finished? if no, what sorts of beautiful wonderful magical things are you doing during October? let’s talk about ALL OF THE AUTUMN things down in the comments below, my friends! And as always, until next time…

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *