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 – 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 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*

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?

>>> <<<

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

January, 2021

good morning, cyberspace!

It has come to my attention that I failed to write an update for the first month of 2021. And since one of my goals for the year is to become more involved on the blogosphere–and also lowkey keep better track of the months as they slowly slip through my fingers–I thought giving a recap on how January went for me was better late than never!

Honestly, not a whole lot happened during January. It was a rather unremarkable month. But being the first month of this brand new year, I still feel it’s worth acknowledging! This will most likely be a shorter blog post than we’re used to around here, but like … I’m not gonna say that’s a bad thing. XD

>>> <<<

january, 2021

writing

First up, let’s talk writing statistics! As far as writing goes, January wasn’t all that great for me. I definitely did not write near as much as I wanted to, and I’m still relatively behind on my first drafting for PROJECT GOBLIN. However, winter is a pretty strange season for me in general, so productivity typically falls out the window during these colder months.

All that said, though, I definitely did write some words! And though it wasn’t as much as I might have wanted, I’m still proud of the progress I did achieve!

word goal — 15,000 words

total words written — 12,786 words

projects tracked — project goblin

best daily writing streak — 12 days in a row

My main goal for January was to work on PROJECT GOBLIN and get a solid headway into the story. This … did not happen, exactly? But I definitely did work on it, and 12.5k story words is nothing to sneeze at, if I do say so, myself. Of course, I would have LIKED to write that extra 2,300 words and hit my goal of 15k, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Life happens, and I’m learning to embrace the chaos, accept the end result, and give myself grace in the midst of disappointment.

However, all that being said, I’m definitely planning on having a comeback in February. Which is saying something, since we’re already 7 days in at the time of me writing this, and I most DEFINITELY have not had any sort of comeback at all yet. But there’s still time! I have 21 days, peasants! I CAN DO THIS.

*distant sobbing*

Ahem. Anyway.

I also blogged a little bit last month, but since I didn’t track those words, I can’t exactly tell you how much was put towards blogging and how much was put towards actual story work. However, I can tell you that February has seen much more intent towards blogging than it has actual writing, and that … probably is not a very good thing. But since it’s been a while since I’ve actually been serious about blogging, I’m trying to ride this wave for as long as it will carry me.

Hopefully I’ll start writing more story words soon, though. I kinda need that if I’m going to meet my self-inflicted deadline.

reading

As described in my 2021 Goals & Aspirations post, I’ve kept up with my goal of reading books which are actually on my shelf, rather than obtaining more and … not reading them.

This, of course, comes with a wee bit of a caveat, because while I definitely read books on my shelf, they both also happened to be rereads… Which means I’m literally not any closer to narrowing down the list of books I own which I have yet to read.

But this is okay, because at least I haven’t been going out and obtaining new books, right? Haha.

Hahahahahaha…

…heh.

OKAY, FINE. I went out and bought three new books, okay? But it’s not my fault. I take one step into a Barnes and Noble and suddenly I’m having an out-of-body experience in which I’m incapable of stopping myself from adopting at least one new child. It’s … it’s not good. But also I have NO SHAME, PEASANTS. NONE WHATSOEVER.

Awkward Season 4 GIF by The Office

Okay, I honestly have a problem. But it’s fine. I’m excited about the books I bought, and even more excited about my two rereads, so let’s just celebrate the bookishness that happened last month, yes?

Yes. Let’s do that.

books read

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE by JK Rowling

3. sy475

Technically I’m buddy-reading this one with Christine, and GUYS. First of all, this story is absolute whimsy on a page, and secondly–CHRISTINE IS LITERALLY ONE OF MY FAVORITE HUMANS EVER. After reading this book, we had a Zoom call and squealed about all things Harry Potter and life-ishness and writerly, and guys. It was magical. I adore this girl with my whole entire heart, I swear.

ENTWINED by Heather Dixon

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This book, guys. It’s magic and romance and enchantment and whimsy and sisterhood and just…!!! This book has my heart, and it’s had it ever since I read it for the first time a few years ago. I think there’s a more detailed review of my first reading lurking somewhere on this blog, but I’m too lazy to find it, and I’m also a little too terrified to try. (my early reviewing days were … um … *distant screaming whilst my blog backlog goes up in flames*.)

Anyway.

books obtained

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaimon

2213661

This is my first Gaimon, and GUYS! I am so so excited to read this one! I’ve been wanting to read The Graveyard Book ever since Phoebe told me my goblins (from PROJECT GOBLIN) sounded similar to some characters (ghouls, I think?) from this story. And I FINALLY found it at Barnes and Noble and it was like 10 bucks and I’m just!!!!! Over the moon thrilled is what I am, my friends.

READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Clime

12600138. sy475

This one was–not gonna lie–a severely impulsive buy. But I went to a Barnes and Noble with a new friend, and she told me she absolutely adored this book and thought I’d really like it, so … obviously I had to buy it. XD I’ve heard mixed reviews about this book, with the majority of it being positive, so I’m really eager to read it and form my own opinion!

Also I’ve just discovered that me, aforementioned friend, and yet another new friend might be starting our own little book club, with this being our first read, and I just???? This sounds adorable? I’m very excited about this, not gonna lie.

And finally, the book I’m probably MOST excited about right now…

AN ECHO OF THE FAE by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

54198875. sy475

I was part of the cover reveal for this story, as well as an arc reader (though I didn’t finish the book in time, and I wasn’t able to write a review like I’d wanted to for the blog tour), BUT. I hadn’t gotten my own copy of this book yet. However, it’s one that I knew I wanted to add to my collection this year (despite my self-inflicted book-buying ban), and just recently I saw that the hardcover had gone on sale for a limited time!

…you guys can probably piece the story together from here.

Technically, my copy of ECHO hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, but I’M STILL REALLY REALLY EXCITED FOR IT TO GET HERE…!!! I’m so excited, guys… Jenelle is one of my favorite humans ever, and her stories always have this element of whimsy and adventure within them that just speaks to my very soul. I know for a fact that once ECHO gets here, I’m probably going to bump it to the top of my TBR almost immediately.

(smol update: my copy of ECHO came!!! and as predicted, this is going to the top of my TBR. #oops)

community

So! In keeping with my goal of staying connected with the blogging community more this year, I’ve decided that I’m going to add a “community” section to each of my monthly recaps! (very smart. much wow.) This, of course, is a wee bit of an experiment at the moment, but I’m eager to see how it will change and grow over the course of the next few months!

Unfortunately, January was a bit of a “dead month” for me, so I once again wasn’t super active here on the blogosphere as I would have liked to be. BUT. I’m still going to highlight some of my favorite bloggers, because even though I haven’t been reading and interacting as much as I want to, I’ve definitely rediscovered some of my favorite blogs this past month, and I want to share them with you all today! (even though y’all are probably already following each other, but IT’S FINE. I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. MWAHAHAHAHA. #help)

i. Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

If you’re not following Jenelle yet, you are SERIOUSLY missing out. This girl is an absolute FAIRY. Her stories are magic and fairy dust, her blog posts are clever and incredibly insightful towards all things writing and indie publishing. She’s a wonderfully talented writer and an even greater friend, and I am so incredibly honored to have this beautiful human in my life.

Jenelle is also currently hosting something called Fantasy Month, so you should definitely hop on over to her blog and check it out before February ends!

ii. Sarah Seele

Sarah is one of the wittiest, cleverest (yes, it’s a word) bloggers I know. I don’t even remember how we stumbled across each other’s blogs, but I swear hers is one of my favorites to just binge on a rainy day when I’m hit with the sudden, inexplicable desire to just read some blog posts. She also has this really beautiful, almost magical way of writing, and I just *clutches heart*. She’s precious and I adore her and you NEED to go give her a follow if you haven’t already, okay? Okay.

iii. Christine Smith

For almost as long as I’ve been a part of the blogging community, Christine has been one of the sweetest, most encouraging voices. She is sunlight and kindness and I truly do not deserve to have her in my life. But oh my word, am I thankful for her. I literally cannot envision being a part of the blogging world without Christine. She makes every day brighter, and having her as a friend is legitimately one of the greatest things to have come from my time as a blogger.

Oh. And not to mention the fact that her blog posts are actually the most wonderful posts you will ever read in your whole entire life. (not even joking) Christine is one of those bloggers who I feel like everyone already knows, but GUYS. If you’re not following her already … please go follow her. She is actual sunshine in a bottle, and you need to read her posts.

>>> <<<

talk to me, peasants!

and that’s that for my January, 2021 recap! I … don’t exactly know how we’re already nearly halfway into February, but here we are. (are you scared? I’m scared.)

Anyway! Some questions for you all to ponder whilst I go have an existential crisis!

how did your january go? did you get any writing done? read any good books? have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned here, and–if so–what were your thoughts/opinions on them? and for all my fellow bloggers/readers of blogs out there (which is obviously you since you’re reading this), what are some of YOUR top favorite blogs to read?

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 END OF CAMP NANOWRIMO: Episode VII – The Final Interview

This episode of LET’S CHAT! is sponsored by Miss Marple Syrup! When your pancakes and attitude could use some sweetening, pour on the Miss Marple! Guaranteed to be your family’s favorite since 1949!Read More »

CAMP NANOWRIMO CONTINUES!: Episode V (and a half) – Wordcounts and Laptops

GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!

Today I’m popping in to say that I really don’t have a blog post this week.

. . .which is kinda weird, since I’m technically posting this as a blog post, but . . . you know. Ignore that oxymoron.

Basically, I’ve been really enveloped in my Camp NaNoWriMo story, Project Sunset, and haven’t exactly made the effort to carve out any of my writing time for blogging. I could say that I deeply regret this decision, but honestly? The fact that I’m so in love with my book is a wave that I’m going to ride for as long as I possibly can, because soon enough I’ll be absolutely dreading even trying to write a single word. And at that point, I’ll probably bust back into the blogosphere with all the force of a thousand suns.

(oh, look at that. I’m finally beginning to understand my own brain! hallelujah.)

So instead of an actual blog post this week, I thought I’d just bullet-point a few highlights from the past week of NaNo!!! Because that’s both simple AND recap-ish! It’s a win-win situation, amiright?

*claps hands together* Let’s go!Read More »

CAMP NANOWRIMO CONTINUES!: Episode V – Weeks 1 & 2 (and LIVESREAM NEWS!)

First thing’s first, before we pop into the main topic of today’s blog–I HAVE SOME SUPER IMPORTANT LIVESTREAM NEWS!!!

Today (April 18th), Phoebe, Ally, and I are going live over on Ally’s Youtube channel (The Nature of Pages) for our second ever Plots & Plans livestream!!! We’re going to be talking about writing and Camp and hosting writing sprints, so if you want to come and join the fun, come join us at 3 pm EDT right HERE! (please come. I’ll give you cookies!!)

. . .and now back to your regularly scheduled programming. . .

Blog Divider

GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!

This blog post is late. Obviously. You can probably tell that by the slapped together graphic and the fact that it was NOT released on Tuesday morning. Which, despite the fact that I pretty much never post on a Tuesday morning anymore, is actually my reserved posting time.

But I digress.

Truth is, this post is late in going up because I have been reading. And also writing. A lot. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve become so infused with fictional realms that I’m really quite astounded I haven’t dissolved into a flurry of paper and ink by now. (there’s still a potential this will happen soon, so if I spontaneously disappear from the internet, YA KNOW WHY.)

But all this writing and reading and very-much-not-being-here has a very simple explanation, and I’m sure you all know what it is.

CAMP NANOWRIMO. It’s in full-swing, folks. We’re officially two three? who even knows anymore weeks in. And holy guacamole, my friends, have I been writing a book.Read More »

CAMP NANOWRIMO BEGINS!: Day 1 – Freebies and Frenzies!

GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!

I’ve been flipping and flopping over how to start this month off here on Smudged Thoughts. As you all know, April’s Camp NaNoWriMo is one of my absolute F A V O R I T E months of the year, which means that I naturally want this first post–this first step into the month of April–to be something truly special.

I debated character interviews, Camp NaNoWriMo blog tags, pep talks, writing prompts. . . But none of them felt right. During all of this mental brainstorming, however, I was working on a side project of my own–a simple little thing that I was planning on using to make this Camp NaNoWriMo the best NaNoWriMo I’ve had thus far. Spurred on by my constant failure at tracking my writing process, I decided to delve into the confusion that is Google Spreadsheets and create my own kind of progress tracker–a tracker which, instead of being filled with a bunch of useless information I had no desire of knowing, was filled with the kinds of things I was actually excited to track.Read More »