So it’s Day 13 of the NaNoWriMo challenge and I feel it as good a time as any to provide an update on my progress. It’s been a ride so far I can tell you. Most of you might already see my word count plastered on my other social media pages and the NaNo site. Despite the ups and downs of November that have already got my head spinning, I can honestly say the experience is MORE than worth the cost. (mainly paid out in sleep dividends) I can only attribute this success in my endeavors to the following:
Seeing other WriMo’s and their word counts gave me goals to pace myself against. I’ve never gone a day without writing something. Even if it was just a two hundred word blurb about a chapter I will most likely scrap completely when all is said and done.
My husband has been avidly reading over everything I write as I compile it into something that will one day – fingers crossed – be tangible, readable, and actually enjoyable for a wider population of readers. DH is also something of a drill sergeant when it comes to his methods of encouragement. (Great example during my exercise routine yesterday morning. “One more sit up, Sarah. Don’t give up. Alright three more now. Come on. You aren’t a quitter.” All yelled at the top of his lungs. For those of you who know my DH, you know he NEVER yells. It’s actually intimidating.)
My own expectations. I have plans for this novel (and the two outlined sequels as well). This story has embedded itself into my brain now. The characters are alive and actively telling their stories. See: Socially acceptable schizophrenic) I am passionate about telling fairy tales and this one has all the elements I’ve loved since I first learned to read. It’s a rough draft now. I am hoping desperately to find someone who’s just as passionate about telling this story as I am – so I can publish it someday soon.
I am way ahead of my goals which has been a delightful surprise and a blessing since I know the rest of November will only bring more excitement and scheduled activities to interfere with my writing. It’s a safety net. When November 30th rolls around, I’ll be more than ready to verify my success. 🙂 The actual writing? It’s rough, like I said. Okay, some parts just suck. And I’ve skipped around so much on the scenes that it’ll take me a whole month just to piece it all back together again. However, the story is definitely workable and according to my DH, has GREAT potential…it’s brought us both to laughter and tears already. (Though the tears on my part may be due largely in part to my own wacked out hormones and the god-awful sleep schedule I’m keeping. See: Insomniac) Now it’s time for some NaNoWriMo fun facts! (For those of you whose ears I haven’t already burned off with my inane chatter) Wordcount: 34,965 Words Remaining: 15,035 Days Remaining: 18 Words Per Day To Finish On Time: 836 (Should I stretch it out that long???) Name of Hero/Heroine: Jared Octavius Grandstorm & Serra Nadine Kingston (AKA Princess Serena) Name of Villain: Tiernan (Usurper of the throne of Erene) Other Characters’ Names: Gwendolyn Atticus Fiona Brand (Don’t ask yet; I’m not telling), The Oracle (AKA Iris, goddess of the rainbow), Melnoch, Bomrin, Iakona, Elise, Rose, Amlodi, N’dalea, Anatole (oh he’s an interesting character), Prince Cedric, Leyla (yeah that name has got to change), Stasia, Taylor Ellington III, Kate…and many more! Places of Interest: New York, Tirn Aille, Indana, Erene, Molwood (Best ale this side of the veil – no kidding; it’s really their advertisement), Vairhol, I’tori Desert, Wizard’s Annex, Forbidden Forest Magic: Still working out the rules in this reality, but the basic premise is that there’s good and evil, light and dark. When a person or being uses the magic for evil or manipulation of unchangeable truths, the magic becomes twisted and bent. In turn (and points to whoever guesses my reference) the wielder of the bent magic becomes subservient to what the wielder once controlled) I do know that music will be playing a large part in the story as a magical element… Animals: The usual, though many of the animals can communicate with those of royal blood. The Story So Far: She always dreamed of being the princess in a fairy tale. Too bad no one ever informed this princess what happens when the fairy tale hits the fan! Serra Nadine Kingston literally lives out of sync with not only her peers, but the world around her. Adopted at an early age by a wealthy couple, she enjoys her fairy tales and little else. She cannot sing to save her life, she’s completely average in everything, and not one boy notices her unless she trips over their feet – sometimes not even then. Klutzy and unsure of herself, she quickly becomes targeted by the high school queen bee and her horde. She spends the next three years of her life wishing for a knight in shining armor who can vanquish the wicked witch and steal her away into a land of happily ever afters. On one of the most tragic days in history – and in her own life – Serra receives her first kiss. From the lips of a compelling stranger on the streets of New York, who then disappears without a word of explanation. She might have passed it off except for the strange things that happen to her after that kiss. It’s bad enough when her skin and hair suddenly glow healthy and blemish free, causing the boys at school to finally take notice and the Queen Witch to redouble her efforts of sabotage now that Serra is actually a THREAT to her popularity. She thought it couldn’t get worse when the pigeons in the park started gossiping about her – and she could UNDERSTAND them. It’s nearly the end of the world when her voice suddenly has range, tone, pitch, and power – and her best friend suggests she try out for choir again. (She’d gotten a waiver when her instructor’s ears bled so hard the poor woman started crying) The worst thing about finding out she just MIGHT be a real princess in a fairy tale though? She feels the magic of the fairy tale world in her dying a little more every day – and unless she can find the man who awakened her with his magic-laden kiss, she won’t survive to see her seventeenth birthday. Somehow, being the princess in the fairy tale isn’t all it was cracked up to be anymore. The Grimm Brothers definitely had the right idea. And she was suing Disney if she ever got the chance.
Prince Jared, born the second son of the king and queen of Erene, lived in the menacing shadow of his older brother Tiernan his whole life. The arrival of a neighboring kingdom’s infant crown princess just means he’s now got an annoying tag-along on all of his adventures. Still, she’s not a bad playmate all things considered. Until a protection spell gifted to her at birth goes awry and he ends up blamed for her disappearance. Now seventeen year later, he’s on the run from a vindictive, jealous older brother (and the bumbling assassins Tiernan sends once in a while just to torment him) and he’s only recently lost the stigma attached to being the last person to see the infant princess before she vanished. An old friend and wizard calls on Jared for help and the prince answers – to his everlasting chagrin. See, what Gwen forgot to mention in his plea for help was that a certain tag-along princess is the damsel in distress – and Jared just won the bachelor of the year quest to wake her up with a kiss. Theoretically, he can still avoid any long term repercussions (AKA marriage to said princess) because technically (Didn’t I mention this?) she is still betrothed to his brother. Magical contracts don’t just fade away because of a little thing like travel between realities. So Jared’s safe…Right? Except said princess keeps getting under his skin and he’s had enough of just surrendering to Tiernan’s menacing shadow – especially when his surrender endangers the princess with whom he’s slowly falling in love. He’ll never admit it out loud though. Now he (and the supposedly wonky protection spell Gwen gave Serena at birth) is the only thing standing in the way of Tiernan’s evil intentions toward said princess. He’s also the key to undoing a curse on his family that triggered the moment Tiernan was ill-conceived. (Pun intended) Will Jared rise to the challenge and win the girl? He’d rather drown himself in a good vat of Molwood ale. At least that’s the story he’s sticking to. Extract: Offbeat: Part One in A Fairy Tale Trilogy Of all the places for Gwen to plant a wizard’s tower, the idiot had to choose the center of the Forbidden Forest.
And, Jared mused dryly, whatever imbecile named it the Forbidden Forest was high on fairy dust. The massive expanse of wooded land wasn’t all that forbidden per se. Just a bit wild. Exactly the type of place for which he had an innate affinity that drove his mother batty.
Come to think of it; Mum might very well have named it to keep me from going out and getting myself tusked by a wild boar or gutted by a unicorn incensed by my less than sterling reputation. He chuckled and hacked his way through a few low hanging branches on a gnarled apple tree that dripped ominously with a bright green substance. His sword would need a thorough cleaning and a few turns at the whetstone when next he found a blacksmith.
He finally caught sight of the crumbling tower in a fogged clearing just beyond a hedge of particularly nasty looking briars and settled on his usual mode of greeting. After all, it had been a while and he was feeling particularly puckish today.
“Oh Gwennie dearest, will you let down your long beard and bid me enter your gilded prison?”
His cheerful, falsetto shout earned him several colorful curses and a projectile globe of bewitchingly rosy hue that Jared caught in midair. A silvery-crowned, dwarfish figure poked his face out of the lone window and snarled an unrepeatable greeting in reply.
“Curse you Jared Octavius Grandstorm. A thousand curses on you for using that bloody moniker. My mother was a fool, naming me for the daughter she never had.”
“Now, now Gwennie. We wouldn’t want you bounding about, carelessly cursing another royal into nonexistence. Would we?” Jared watched the elderly wizard flinch as though struck and a brief flicker of malicious pleasure at causing pain rushed through him. Serves him right for making my life a living hell for the last seventeen years.
Many in both kingdoms still blamed Jared for…well it wouldn’t due to rehash the past now. The tell-tale twinge that he got after heckling his father’s ex-adviser indicated the familiar gnawing guilt. Years of suppressing his conscience still had not completely removed its intrusion.
“A thousand pardons old friend,” He finally surrendered to what he referred to as his worst flaw – compassion. “I take my bitterness out on you because there is no one else in the kingdom who can handle it.”
Gwen sighed heavily, ready forgiveness in the glint of empathy shining through aged eyes. They had both suffered much over the years; misunderstanding, censure, unforgiveness…disdain.
“Here we are on the eve of possibly changing the outcome of our destiny and we return to sniping and insult. You’d think two grown men could learn to better get along after being thrown into the same fire pot for all this time,” The old wizard released another tired sigh and Jared watched the spark of a fighting spirit disappear back into oblivion.
The aged head pulled back through the small opening into the shadowed room as Jared waited patiently in the clearing below. While he waited, he polished the apple on his sleeve, sniffed it once, and satisfied at the absence of dark magic, took a bite. He wouldn’t have blamed his friend for tossing a poisoned apple, but was thankful for edible food all the same. It had been awhile since he ate anything decent. His brother’s last attempts on his life had kept him running throughout the various kingdoms of Tirn Aille. His last hiding place had been right in the midst of the enemy and the pickings were slim in the I’tori desert as it was. It would be nice to be in a civilized country once again; Molwood dark ale, meat that was good and dead hours before consumption, and women.
At this point, it was a stalemate as to which need was most pressing.
A distinct shuffling could be heard, accompanied by several ominous bangs and more curses. Finally the stooped figure emerged from a crooked doorway half hidden by climbing vines and rubble. The door itself had long disintegrated, helped along by wood-boring insects and the ravages of time. But Gwen’s well-devised wards would keep most intruders at bay – particularly the four-footed ones looking for a midnight snack.
Jared watched warily as his old friend beckoned him past the wards, but eventually gave in and stepped through. Other than a sense of bone-chilling cold as he passed the protective shield, no other harm befell him. Unless he counted the ticklish strands of a spider’s webbing that clung to him, but that was more annoyance than harm. He had a feeling Gwen left up the cold sensation as a means of retribution for the cruel greeting. After the last visit, he was surprised there was no magical shock involved. Jared could be an incessant tease sometimes and the old man possessed an equally punishing streak. The two men were surprisingly well-matched in their friendship, all differences aside.
Gwendolyn Atticus Fiona Brand always blamed his mother for his inability to maintain the proper poise and respect required of the realm’s chief wizard. Ex-chief wizard now; another reason for his current estrangement from the woman. He would have gone by Atticus and attempted to reclaim some of his dignity – and his self-esteem – but a youngster on the playground called him out one day and the first name stuck like dragon-tongue glue. It was to his credit as a master in wizardry that he managed to keep the respect of the people for as long as he did.
“It’s good to see you my boy. Won’t you come in for a cup of tea?” The unfortunate man asked with a bit of his usual jovial personality returned to him. He patted Jared on the shoulder as they entered his home, the touch friendly and inviting. “I would prefer a little pleasant repast before getting down to the business end.”
“Why did you call me here anyway?” Jared refused the distraction with an arched brow and crossed arms in a defiant stance. Gwen groaned and shook his head in resignation. “Is Tiernan giving you a difficult time again?”
“That depends on what you mean by difficult. The crown prince is at the root of my reason for contacting you nevertheless. Bloody boy repudiates me and still expects me to be at his beck and call.”
“It’s just because he didn’t want you on his payroll anymore. Now he can use your services without losing his gold.”
“Yes, well this task will hopefully settle my debts with him once and for all.”
“What is it this time? Dragon he’s too busy to fight? Enemies on the northern border he needs me to eliminate?” Jared scoffed at the crown prince’s self-importance. “A damsel in distress he cannot rescue because of a conveniently scheduled counsel meeting with the Mountain dwarves?”
Gwen ushered him into the chaotic hovel the wizard affectionately called home, absently shaking his head at each sarcastic question. He made his way skillfully through the jumble of books, alchemy instruments, and sundry clutter while Jared struggled to find a path through unfamiliar territory. It seemed his old friend had amassed quite a few new trinkets since his last visit. He was also pretty certain that the room had been expanded magically in order to make room for it all.
At Jared’s last inquiry, the wizard stuttered mid-shake. The look of sheer guilt would usually have Jared laughing loudly. Gwen did a good impression of a child, caught with his hand in a crock full of honey cakes, for a man pushing the end of his first century. This time, the old magician’s expression landed with sickening dread in Jared’s stomach.
“I must find a worthy man who could bring her back in his stead,” Jared closed his eyes as the nausea intensified. “You really are the only other worthy man in any of the kingdoms I can send and…”
“No. NO. NO!” Each no was stated with more force than the last. “What about Prince Cedric? Or Anatole? Even Marsden has to be royal enough for the quest. Better yet, why won’t my idiot brother go do his own job instead of delegating? Don’t you think sending someone in his place might change the entire situation?”
“As far as I can deduce, the spell is not that specific. Your brother already has the right of the firstborn and a betrothal claim. Sending someone else won’t change the underlying circumstance…theoretically speaking.”
“Then send one of the other men I mentioned. I want nothing to do with his asinine plan.”
“Prince Cedric is already married and I am pretty certain that Rose would have his head if he so much as looked at another woman. Anatole is…well…less than worthy, and I’ll just leave it at that,” Gwen ticked off the count on his fingers as he spoke.
“And Marsden? He’s royal and single and…not Anatole,” Jared bit out through clenched teeth.
“Marsden isn’t truly royal, as well you know. His mother bastardized the lad when she was caught philandering amongst the castle servants. Not even magic can determine his true lineage and that alone disqualifies him, not to mention the fact that red hair has never appeared in the Woodburn line for as long as our realm has existed.” The stooped set of the elderly wizard’s shoulders suddenly shifted and he stood tall and stoic. The intensity of the change frankly intimidated Jared – a feat over which few could claim mastery. “Marsden’s kingdom is a lesser holding anyway. And before you go begging me to send the Troll prince, hostilities are too high even now; King Bomrin would be more liable to eat her as soon as kiss her. Or send his son for that matter.”
“Woodkin, not trolls. The trolls, as you call them are not of a cannibalistic nature, though I see your point. However,I am positive my brother did not mean for me to take this particular quest. He’s never liked me playing with his toys and you know that,” Jared was fishing; he was well aware of the fact, but desperation will drive a man to any lengths. “Tiernan just got finished sending his last assassin after me; I don’t want to give him an actual reason to this time.”
“Your brother is…not always mindful of the details when he makes an order. He merely finds loopholes whereby he can avoid doing the difficult work himself. And you know he is fighting to maintain a tenuous hold over the kingdom. If he goes, he could lose everything, though that’s not a bad idea in the long run.”
“Treason Gwen? I’ve never taken you for that sort before.”
“I speak the truth and you know it Jared. You would’ve made a much better king and it’s a pity indeed that you were born second. You know when to abide by the rules, but you also know there’s a time and place for breaking them.”
Jared growled a warning and the wizard threw up both hands in surrender. Gwen usually gauged well how far he could push him before his limits were breached. And this subject was a touchy one as it was.
At the same time, he knew his old friend spoke what everyone else in the kingdom already knew.
Tiernan was a brutal monarch with a sadistic bent. He kept the laws of course; but he took great pleasure in resurrecting some of the old laws that even their father had refused to heed. Laws involving torture, execution, and ultimately absolute power. Jared knew that for the kingdom to thrive, change was an inevitable and much needed part of its survival.
But who was he to offer his opinion? A second son really didn’t hold any sway over the crown. Tiernan had already tried to get rid of him multiple times for insubordination. At least that was the excuse he gave. Laying low may be the coward’s way, but it kept him alive and Jared liked breathing.
“I have said my piece, my boy, so I will say no more on the subject. Moreover, you still need to be the one to go and awaken her. It IS your quest whether you agree with me or not.”
There was a shrewd, calculating look in the wizard’s eyes that Jared rarely saw. It once again reminded him of Gwen’s wisdom and deep intuition hidden beneath a largely foppish exterior. Not for the first time did he consider the very substantial possibility that every circumstance surrounding his old friend could be a well-orchestrated game.
He dismissed it instantly as just the paranoid part of his personality playing tricks. It wouldn’t be the first time that happened anyway.
Aware. That’s what it is; that expression. Jared shivered a bit. Like he knows something I don’t know.
And Gwen still stood awaiting his answer. The younger man cursed under his breath.
“We can finally right the wrong that was done so long ago, my boy. If I could go, I would and well you know it,” The wizard took on a pleading tone, alerting Jared’s conscience once again with a painful throb.
“If I refused?” He wasn’t giving up without a fight, conscience be damned.
“She is finally of age Jared; her presence here is required if we are going to maintain stability within the kingdoms. If we miss this window of opportunity, who knows when the next one will be? Furthermore, your brother may yet be redeemed if she returns.”
“I have a sinking feeling that you do know but are refusing to tell me. And if you truly wanted me to accept this bloody quest, you really need a better argument than that my bloody brother might change his ways. I thought you preferred his abdication over redemption anyway.”
“Beside the point Jared,” Gwen waved away his statement with a careless shake of his hand. “I need you to take this task upon your shoulders. Please.”
Jared scrubbed roughly at the back of his neck. His calloused fingers traced the puckered scar that began just beneath his hairline and whose origins still gave him hellish nightmares. Another reminder of his brother’s conniving, calculating ways.
“It’s been seventeen years Gwen. I am finally losing the stigma that little tag-along gave me and now you are asking me to bring her back? Offering her up as a sacrifice to my brother no less.”
“That was never her fault; the blame lies solely on my shoulders and I apologize for that. But it’s time to bring her home and we consequently have the means of doing so at our fingertips. Will you condemn her to always live in a reality not her own? That alone is worse than death.”
“Curse you Gwen; you know my answer already. On one condition however. And I won’t take no for an answer because it’s a deal breaker.”
“What would that be?” The wizard had sprung into action the moment Jared spoke of conditions, puttering around the crumbling lab as he drew lines and glyphs on the only empty wall amidst the clutter in preparation for the portal. The younger man grew impatient at the meticulousness of Gwen’s work. It looked as if the representation of a door had already started forming before he got there.
His yes was merely formality as far as Gwen seemed to believe.
“Once the quest is over, I wash my hands of the entire thing. As far as I am concerned, I never had anything to do with her awakening. Is that clear?” Jared nearly growled his request, but it wasn’t necessary to use force.
“Agreed. Now I prepared the portal to take you within five leagues of her last position. After you get there, it’s just a question of scenting her inborn magic.”
“Will she actually have magic? She’s been in a different reality for nearly her whole life.”
“The magic is there, though it may be a bit muted under the circumstances. Theoretically, the reality in which she exists has its own primitive form of magic; this should make it a bit easier for you to locate her.”
“Because she smells differently?” Jared scoffed, reasoning out Gwen’s logic.
“Well, technically, it would be her magic that smells different. Not the girl,” Was the dry response. “But yes; that’s the general idea.”
“How much time do I have?”
“Until sunset. The cycles of time seem to be the roughly the same for both realities, so just keep an eye on the sky. Any other questions?”
“Would you answer them if I did?” An awkward silence pervaded as the old wizard continued his task. “So that’s a no then?”
“The portal is nearly ready. Prepare yourself. It’s not a smooth ride as far as I know,” Gwen stepped back from his drawing and dusted the chalk off his hands with a satisfied expression. He did not even acknowledge Jared’s sarcastic response.
“What? No last meal before you send me to certain doom? What happened to tea and cake?”
“Tea? Take this instead boy,” Gwen offered him a silver flask taken from the folds of his wizard’s robes. “You are going to need something a bit stronger than tea for this particular quest.”
Jared grasped the small flask in his left hand, his right already unscrewing the silver top eagerly. After taking a sniff, that lit up his eyes and watered them simultaneously, he gratefully tossed off the potent brew. A loud belch in gratitude swiftly followed and he tossed the empty flagon into a corner of the room with a flourish. Molwood dark ale had always been a favorite of his, a treat whenever he visited friends among the Woodkin.
Gwen arched a brow in amusement and clapped his hands together twice before spreading them out in front of his artwork. A muttered word and a single clear note followed, and the wall glowed with an otherworldly light as the portal opened.
“I can only hold the gate open for so long. Find her, wake her, and then retrieve her through the same portal location before sunset. Can you do that?”
“If I said no?” Another eye roll was all Jared received for his efforts and he gave up the fight. “I guess I’ll be seeing you later, princess or no princess.”
As he stepped toward the shimmering entry to a foreign reality, Gwen stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
“It’s imperative Jared. Do not come back here without her. Drag her kicking and screaming if you have to, but do not return without the girl.”
“Or the wicked fairy godmother will turn her into a toadstool?” He did not pause to hear Gwen’s sharp retort. With a running leap, he was lost in a convolution of wind and light.
Gwen was correct about the transportation. His first action when he got to the other side was to promptly vomit into a conveniently located hedge.
He was going to murder the wizard when he got back to Tirn Aille.
*** How are you guys keeping motivated? And how are my fellow first timers finding the NaNo experience?