The Wisest Counselor Silmaril Award: Let The Voting Commence!

good morning, cyberspace!

Ahem. *taps microphone* Mhm. Yes. I do believe this is working.

Good morning, m’lords and ladies, and welcome to the 2021 Silmaril Awards Voting Round for The Wisest Counselor! It’s been a wild rush of a week tallying nominations and jotting down seconds, and I am SO excited to finally present you all with the five names for our Wisest Counselor finalists!

According to our dear readers, these are the top five wisest characters of our age immemorial. And while I’ve had the pleasure to room them–plus some 50 other nominees–in my home for the last week, I can honestly say that I can see why. I’ve had so much helpful advice thrown at me the past 7 days that I have no clue how I functioned as a normal human being for the past 22 years without it!

*eye twitches as someone’s voice floats from off-stage*

One can never have too many socks…”

ALBUS SO HELP ME IF YOU ARE MESSING AROUND IN MY SOCK DRAWER AGAIN–ahem… Er. Never mind about that… It truly has been an honor to welcome these prestigious souls into my home, but I must say I’m glad to kick most of them out I’m excited to narrow down the pool of contestants to a more… er… manageable number…

Beana has been stress-nibbling a hole in my carpet and there’s beard hair in my soup and oh my GOSH ALBUS QUIT POKING AT MY SOCKS!

Which brings us to our topic today, of course, which is The Top Five Wisest Counselors! I have our list of finalists right here in my hands, and it is my deepest honor to be able to share them with you all today! At the end of this post there will be a voting form where you can cast your vote and make your voice heard, so make sure to vote for your favorites! This is the last chance you’ll have to make your voice heard, so it’s VITAL that you vote!

The fates of the mentors are in your hands, my friends!

>>> <<<

THE WISEST COUNSELOR SILMARIL AWARD: TOP FIVE CANDIDATES

BEANA – THE TALES OF GOLDSTONE WOOD BY ANNE ELISABETH STENGLE

A once-mortal now gifted with immortality, Beana is a Knight of Farthestshore, who has been tasked with protecting a strange little girl, Varvere, from harm. Gentle and wise, Beana tends to hide her true human form beneath the disguise of a talking Nanny Goat (which is, you know, completely norm–BEANA PLEASE STOP EATING THE CARPET!), but no matter which form she presents, her motherly and no-nonsense nature never wavers.

RENDAR – MOONSCRIPT BY H.S.J. WILLIAMS

The king of Aselvia by fate, celestial by blood, Rendar is the kind, empathetic ruler of the realm of the earth elves. Though he’s now separated from his people, he’s still able to communicate with them through a valuable treasure known as the Moonscript. Rendar is wise, patient, and firm, and his guidance flows from his belief and closeness in Ayeshune.

RAYAD – THE ILYON CHRONICLES BY JAYE L. KNIGHT

Rayad is a member of the Resistance council in Jaye L. Knight’s beloved series, The Ilyon Chronicles. Though a bit rough around the edges—and a wee bit of a rebel (he may or may not be wanted by the emperor? *cough*)—he is a continuous source of wisdom and comfort to those around him—especially those he takes under his protective wings.

NIA WINGFEATHER – WINGFEATHER SAGA BY ANDREW PETERSON

Daughter of a chaotic ex-pirate and mother to three slightly unruly children, Nia Wingfeather is the epitome of a woman making the most of rather unfortunate circumstances. She is kind, understanding, and gentle when the world would have broken her, and she pours her wisdom and love into her three kids, whom she adores more than life itself.

PUDDLEGLUM THE MARSH-WIGGLE – THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA BY C.S. LEWIS

Puddleglum the Marsh-Wiggle is a rather dreary sort of fellow who resides near the river Shribble. With a slightly pessimistic approach to existence, this humble wet blanket still tries to make the most out of life, and is available for a word or two of wisdom when least expected. (his weather forecasts, on the other hand, may not be the most reliable source…)

>>> <<<

VOTE NOW!

*technically you only have to click the link once to vote for EACH of the 11 Silmaril categories, but make sure you hop around to the other blog hosts (linked below!) to get the full Silmaril Awards experience! Trust me. You’re not going to want to miss everything the other hosts have planned! <3

>>> <<<

I’ve gotta say, friends, having my house filled with Wise Counselors is a LOT easier on the insurance than last year… *shudders in remembrance* (I certainly hope that Jem is doing okay with all those villains this year… And also that Christine’s house hasn’t burnt down yet? *sweats nervously*) Yeah. The more I think about it, the more I realize how truly lucky I am to be hosting this particular award this year. I’m sure our Awards Ceremony is going to go as smoothly as can possibly be desired! Aha…

…right?

>>> <<<

SILMARIL BLOG HOP

Least Competent Henchman … Josiah Dyck
Most Epic Hero … Madeline J. Rose
Most Epic Heroine … E.E. Rawls
Most Faithful Friend … Grace Taber
Most Magnificent Dragon … Christine Smith
Most Majestic Ruler … Sarah Pennington
Most Mischievous Imp … Tracey Dyck
Most Nefarious Villain … Jem Jones
Strangest Character … DJ Edwardson
Silver Tongue … Jenelle Schmidt
Wisest Counselor … Kenzie Keene (you are here!)

talk to me, peasants!

eep! Here we go, folks! It’s finally time to vote for your favorites! So tell me: DID YOU VOTE? And most importantly, who do YOU think is going to win this year’s Wisest Counselor? I personally feel like it could go any which way at this point, but I’m so excited to see the results! (and also someone remind me to read the books these characters are from because OH MY WORD THEY LOOK SO GOOD….)

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

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

THE SILMARIL AWARDS, 2021: Nominations Are Now OPEN!

good morning, cyberspace!

Friends. Foes. Creatures of the deep. We have entered the throes of September, and within it, the Silmaril Awards are once again upon us.

Excited Tom Hiddleston GIF by Marvel Studios

I announced in last week’s post that I was once again accepted as a Silmaril Awards host this year, and GUYS. I am so insanely blessed to be a part of this incredible group of people! Last year was an absolute BLAST, and my beloved Villain Ceremony was–without a doubt–one of my favorite blog posts I’ve ever written. The Silm Awards is not only a chance for me to connect with a bigger audience here on the blogosphere, but also an opportunity for me to stretch my creative writing skills.

Because let me tell you what, friends: writing from someone else’s character POV is NOT an easy feat.

Thankfully, however, the practice is one that I highly enjoyed, and I’m so beyond excited to be once more participating in this lively, fantastical event!

Tom Hiddleston Marvel GIF by Nerdist.com

There is, of course, one small caveat to all of this: because I was the host for the Villain Award last year, I am unable to qualify for that particular award this year. It’s a sad state of affairs, of course, but this small rule among the Awards hosts actually opens up the door to even wilder possibilities, and I’m quite pleased to admit that this year’s Awards Ceremony is sure to be… an intriguing change of pace. (mwahahahahahaha!)

Read More »

Good Morning, September: Agendas, Outlines, & The Return of Lofty Goals

good morning, cyberspace!

It’s September, guys. Yeah. You read that right. Today is the first day of September. This is happening, folks. There’s no going back now. We have entered the months of Fall.

To be honest, I’m less excited about this approaching month than I normally am. Typically I LOVE September, but this one is… not gonna lie, friends, this one’s a lot.

Awkward Season 4 GIF by The Office
my sister walked past me while this was on my screen and said “I’ve seen you make this face”. This is unfortunately not a lie.

I thought August was going to be a complicated, project-filled month, but goodness… it doesn’t even come CLOSE in comparison with September. There’s so much going on in both my work life and personal/creative life, and while I very much would like to just to crawl into a hole and DIE sleep for a good long while, I know that all the stuff happening this month is going to be an adventure.

…whether or not it’s a good adventure is highly subject to change at any given moment, and I should probably note that there is also a very good chance that I may disappear without a trace somewhere in the middle of the month. Haha. Hahahahaha. Heh. Moving right along.

Anyway, I used to love writing goal-oriented posts at the beginning of each new month, but all of that sorta flew out the window recently, what with my unexpected hiatuses and the occasional random post flung here and there. But today, I thought it’d be fun to bring it back! Because Goals! And Life! And Potential Screaming! So let’s talk about September, shall we?

Read More »

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.

Read More »

The Five-Year-Blogiversary! (feat. blogiversary giveaway winner!)

good morning, cyberspace!

My deepest apologies for not posting last week! It was my intention to put out something at the very least, but it turned out that I had far less time to write than I’d anticipated. I always seem to forget how BIG August is around here. For one thing, there’s the birthday of my blog, and then there’s my birthday (hello, yes, hi, that’s why there was no post last Tuesday. XD), and then I’m also preparing for fun bloggy things in September… (more on THAT soon!) And then, of course, as if all of THAT isn’t enough, Life decided to throw yet another curveball my way this year and not only present me with new promotional tasks at my job (which I’m actually very excited about), but also… other things in regards to my job that I currently cannot speak about. XD All good things, of course, all good things. But also exceedingly stressful and a wee bit terrifying, nonetheless.

Read More »

A Happy Birthday To ME! – Smudged Thoughts’ 5th Blogiversary!

good morning, cyberspace!

I have some VERY exciting news for you all today, my friends! Smudged Thoughts–this precious bean of a child which I have painstakingly nurtured since 2016–is having a BIRTHDAY! We’re turning 5 years old this month, folks. FIVE. YEARS. OLD. That’s half of a decade. (if I didn’t feel like a hobbled old blog witch before, I certainly do now. XD) And since this is clearly a momentous occasion, I wanted to do something EXTRA special to celebrate! None of this would ever have been possible without you guys, so this month, we’re doing something extra special to give back to this beautiful community which has accepted me as one of its own…

#dramaticftw

August is officially a month of celebration, my friends, and I’m asking you to bop along with me for this beautiful, magical, wonderful ride!

>>> <<<

A VERY HAPPY BLOGGY BIRTHDAY

For the first few years of Smudged Thoughts’ existence, I didn’t really know how to celebrate a blogiversary. I tried, of course (assuming I remembered it was happening in the first place), but I didn’t know how to make it an event to remember. Then 2019–my third Bloggy Birthday–happened, and we celebrated with a giveaway and short story contest!! It was a wild, slightly manic time–and the notebook I made was, I’ll admit, a wee bit rusty in regards to skill level XD–but goodness, it was fun. It was the only blogiversary I can remember that I really, truly put effort and time into, and that was only for my 3rd year of blogging.

This time, at 5 years old, I really want this to be a blogiversary to remember. Which is why, in a similar vein to two years ago, we’re going to be hosting a giveaway here on Smudged Thoughts!

Notice, however, that I said we. For this giveaway, my dear peasants, is also a collab.

I am so, so, SO extremely excited to announce that my Five Year Bloggy Birthday is going to be in partnership with my dear friend AND favorite sister, Marissa from @hodgeandpodgestudio!

Marissa Keene is a dream-chasing, convention-crushing creative with a passion for making her mark on the world. Her obsessions include any variant of fiber arts, crafting, and other such wabi-sabi-ness, and she uses her many skills to weave handmade creations for her Etsy shop, Hodge & Podge Studio!

I’ll hopefully be tormenting interviewing Marissa here on Smudged Thoughts later this month in a deep dive expose about all of her creative talents, so if you’re interested in getting to know more about the maker of our giveaway prize, please keep your eyeballs peeled for this exclusive Meet The Maker coming soon!

And speaking of the prize, I just so happen to have a sneakety peakety of the VERY THING you could win!

Ready to see what it is? Ah? AHHHHHHHH?

MEEP! I am so unbelievably excited about this giveaway, you guys! I personally have one of Marissa’s notebooks on my own shelf (it’s Alice In Wonderland themed. Yes, I squealed. XD), and I can tell you from experience that these notebooks are otherworldly. The fact that she was willing to create a Smudged Thoughts themed notebook for my smol little blog is just … I’m over the moon happy, you guys. The colors are perfect. The details are perfect. I am just so so excited for one of you to win this. I promise you won’t be disappointed. <3

So now, without any further ado, HERE’S HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! Technically this giveaway is a two-parter–you can enter both here and over on instagram–so if you want optimal prize winning potential, I highly suggest checking us out on Instagram after you’re done here! Meep!

>>> <<<

WANT TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY?
HERE’S HOW!

ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK, PEASANTS:

  • follow this blog–Smudged Thoughts (you can follow either via email or through the handy dandy blue button over on the side!)
  • like this post and leave a comment!
  • follow me (@thesmudgedthoughts) and Marissa (@hodgeandpodgestudio) over on instagram

GIVEAWAY ENDS AUGUST 14th.

And that’s it, folks! The winner of the giveaway will be announced on the 17th both here and on Instagram, so make sure to check back to see who wins! (and for an EXTRA chance to win, don’t forget to enter over on Instagram, too! Not only will it give you a better chance to win this beautiful handcrafted notebook, but it also helps two very smol creators in a very big way! XD)

talk to me, peasants!

And that, my lovelies, is all I’ve got for you today! Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we? Answer my question down in the comments below and get a headstart on entering our splendorific blogospherical giveaway! Are you ready? On your marks … get set … GOOOOOO!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COOKIE?

As always, let’s talk about EVERYTHING down in the comments below! And until next time…!

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

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

>>> <<<

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.

>>> <<<

…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?

>>> <<<

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

>>> <<<

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.

>>> <<<

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.

>>> <<<

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

>>> <<<

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*

>>> <<<

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

>>> <<<

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!

>>> <<<

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!)

>>> <<<

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 *