Blog-o-versary Vlog Part 2

Today I am posting the continuation of my vlog, and answering some more questions from YOU!

Table of Contents:

0:30 – My favorite Anne Elisabeth Stengl book

1:57 – Have I ever left the country? Where have I gone?

4:50 – I’m going on a quest, I can bring my own Fellowship of Characters from any book… who do I bring? (spoiler alert, I’m supposed to choose 9… I choose a few more than that!)

7:15 – Do I read every review I get?

7:55 – Am I ever tempted to reply to a review?

9:01 – Why should you leave reviews? How does one leave a good review?

11:45 – Have I ever changed anything in my books because of a review?

12:00 – Have you changed big things because of editorial feedback or beta readers? Is there a big scene that got cut because of feedback from them?

~ jenelle

NaNoWriMo Recap

For those of you who have been asking, “What exactly does it mean that you ‘won’ Nanowrimo?” or “What is Nanowrimo?” this post is for you!

NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” It’s been going on for almost 20 years, as I believe it got started back in 1999. I remember people talking about it in college, but I didn’t start participating until 2012 when I first started writing “The Orb and the Airship.”

But what is it? It’s a challenge to writers to write 50,000 words in a single month on a single project. This does not mean the book has to be completed by the end of 50,000 words, or even that you have to start at the beginning (and some “rebels” will spread that 50,000 words across two or more projects). You “win” if you manage to hit the target of 50,000 words, and they have an official “word counter” so you can verify your win. (Though, as a side-note, their word-count tracker and Scrivener’s word-count tracker are SIGNIFICANTLY different from each other).

According to my “recap post” I wrote 6 years ago (which also, oddly enough, was ALSO my first post here at this domain name!) I managed to get 21,000 words written that first time I tried it, and I was pretty firmly convinced that I was never going to manage a win.

I’ve dabbled with NaNo ever since. The siren song of all my author buddies furiously writing all month long and posting their word counts is a temptation that is difficult to resist. It just makes a person want to jump in and join the creative fun. However, November is such a busy month, what with my birthday, Thanksgiving, and holiday travels and fun. I’ve never managed to do more than dip my toes in the water.

This year, however, was almost tailor-made for me to participate. We did not travel anywhere, we had no guests come visit us until the very last day of November, and Derek’s been out working at the house every night laying tile, leaving me home alone with a couple of hours all to myself each night after the kids went to bed… AND we all stayed fairly healthy all month long!

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Week 1 (partial week): I did pretty well the first day, then fell behind on day two, only writing about 200 words. (You need to write approximately 1667 each day in order to stay “on track” with their counter. The rest of the week was better, but I was behind the tracker. Didn’t feel too stressed about it, though, as I still had the whole month to catch up.

Week 2 (first full week): Got caught up and stayed a little ahead for the majority of this week. Was feeling pretty good about myself.

Week 3: Lost all motivation, took the weekend off to celebrate my birthday and had a very difficult time forcing myself to write this week. I managed not to fall TOO far behind, but this was where I started to doubt whether or not I could keep up the grueling pace.

Week 4: The laid-back nature of school and our simple stay-at-home as a family Thanksgiving allowed me the time I needed to get caught up and even ahead this week! The end was in sight, but I also knew that I only had 29 total days to write, because we had family coming into town on the 30th and I wanted to spend SOME time cleaning up the disaster-zone that my house had become after several weeks of neglect (hey, when you’re a writer, some things just get neglected… for me, it’s housework)!

Week 5 (Sun – Thurs): Spent a lot of time praying over my writing this week, because I had hit a bit of what I thought was a snag. With the Lord’s help, I got it ironed out. I helped host a virtual write-in on Thursday evening (which was scary, but fun) and with the bump in adrenaline that gave me I managed to hit just over 50,000 words by the end of the evening!

So that was my experience winning NaNoWriMo for the first time ever! It was fun. I’d do it again – but the circumstances would have to align perfectly like they did this year so I wouldn’t have any reason to feel guilty for neglecting my family. Sure have changed my tune since six years ago, huh? *grin*

Also, today in celebration of SIX YEARS of blogging, I’d like to offer you all a FREE copy of Minstrel’s Call on kindle (if you do not have a kindle and would like a PDF or .epub copy, shoot me an email at Jenelle.L.Schmidt@gmail.com and I’ll send it to you in that format as well – you need to send the email to me by DEC. 7th – the day the deal ends on amazon - in order to redeem this offer).

~ jenelle

Interview with a Beast

Hello out there, dearest of Readers! It’s SO SO SO good to be back! I hope you enjoyed the first installment of my vlog earlier this week. Today, I have the great privilege of helping out my fellow author and dear Kindred Spirit, Jack Lewis Baillot with a blog tour and giveaway for her newest release, Finding the Magic!

I just finished reading this book a few days ago and OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE IT SO MUCH AACCCCK!!!! It is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, which is near and dear to my heart, and I just love what she did with the story.

I will do a more thorough review later, but seriously, this book is simply lovely and I highly recommend it!

But you’ll have to wait for my review, because today I am getting to interview one of my new favorite characters, Mr. Adam Prince. So, without further ado…


A cheerful young man named Chip greets me at the door to the enormous house and leads me inside, chattering enthusiastically. He brings me to a large, wooden door, whispers, “good luck” and gives me an apologetic grin as he leaves me to speak with my latest subject.

I knock on the door and it opens to reveal a stern man with stiff, gray hair and wild, bloodshot eyes. He stares at me out of those eyes, his shoulders hunched, and scowls deeply. 

“What do you want?” he asks.

“Excuse me, Mr. Prince, I’m the reporter…” I don’t have time to finish.

“No!” he growls, and slams the door in my face.

In real life, I would timidly retreat. However, this is fiction, and when dealing with fictional characters, I get to be braver than I would be in real life. I raise my chin and hammer my fist against the door until it re-opens.

“Mr. Prince, your author assured me that you would cooperate.”

Muttering and threats can be heard and a certain Author is very concerned and hopes the threats are idle, then the door opens. “Come in and have a seat, but know I am only doing this because I am forced to.”

I flip open my notebook. “I promise not to take up too much of your time. Let’s start with you, can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?”

“What do you hope to find out?” Mr. Prince scowls. “That I am too cranky for my own good? That I was forced to open up my house to a child fleeing the blitz because I owed a favor to a friend? That I like too much sugar in my coffee?” 

I try to hide my smile. “Those are all wonderful answers and will give my readers a fairly good picture of you to start. What is going on in the world these days? Can you give my readers a picture of what your world looks like? Where exactly are we and what are some important current events?”

He squints at me in disbelief. “Do you live under a rock? There’s a war going on! A world war it’s coming to be called. As for my personal world, I try to keep my nose out of it as much as possible. I live outside London, in the English countryside and have not been effected by the Blitz until I was forced to take in a child needing to escape. That should count for my good deed in this war, goodness knows I served long enough in the last war to be allowed to sit away from this one.” 

I cough. “Well, yes, you see, I come from a different time…” I pause. “Never mind. It’s not important. About this young girl staying at your house, I believe she arrived here last night. Her name is Belle Maurice, if I’m not mistaken. Can you tell my readers why she is staying here? How did that come about, do you have some connection with her family?”

“I seem to be getting ahead of you.” And he smiles though it is humorless and doesn’t reach his eyes. “I have no connection with her family, but with a  friend of the family. I served with man who is friends with her grandfather, I believe. I didn’t ask too many questions. I owed this friend a favor and he asked me to keep this child safe for the remainder of the war. Of course I agreed.”

“I believe you have a vast library in this house. Can you tell me some of your favorite titles?”

There’s a slight relax to his shoulders and a deep sorrow in his eyes. “I have a fondness for all the classics. Jules Verne is one author I never tire of reading. Of course, there are also books on theology which I have gone through and find much to learn from their wisdom.” 

I nod and smile, glad that I can ask a question that doesn’t cause him to retreat into coldness. “What is your happiest memory?”

The stiffness returns and his eyes harden. “This is one question I refuse to answer, no matter what my Author has to say on the matter.”

“Oh… I… I…ah… I am very sorry,” I stammer at the unexpected rebuke in his voice. I rise and start to gather my things, flailing about for a way to extricate myself from the suddenly very chilly room. “Um…. finally, Mr. Prince — I am sorry for taking up so much of your precious time —but if you could ask your author to change one thing about your story, what would it be and why?”

“I could ask her to end this blasted war I suppose, though I don’t think she has that ability. I guess there is something she could change, but again, it is something I don’t feel you have any reason to ask me about.” He huffs and stares out a window.

I sense my dismissal and let myself out, closing the door softly behind me. As I make my way back to the front door, I pass a young girl coming down the stairs. She looks disoriented and achingly sad. I give her what I hope is an encouraging smile… she’s got a difficult task ahead of her, that’s for sure!


Are you intrigued? I hope so, because this story is just adorable and I love it to pieces and AAAHHH!

Also, it is a Christmas story, so this is the PERFECT time of year to grab a copy and curl up with it. Clocking in at just 56 pages, it’s an easy read that I promise will leave you satisfied, though you might want to flip back to the beginning and read it all over again just so you can spend a little more time with these characters as they find magic in the most unlikely of places!

Available on kindle and in paperback, get your copy HERE.

GIVEAWAY!

Jack is holding a giveaway where the prize is a paperback copy of Finding the Magic and a box of rose tea. In order to enter the giveaway, follow her on Instagram and comment on THIS POST with the name of someone you think would enjoy reading her book. (There are ways to gain additional entries, as well, so head on over and check that out!) If you’re not on Instagram, you can also enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on her blog HERE.

Now it’s your turn, dear Reader! What’s your favorite retelling of Beauty and the Beast? Let me know in the comments!

~ jenelle

Know the Novel Part 2: Within the WIP

Happy 6th Blog-o-versary to me!!

Good morning! So I know this is too late to officially join the link-up – since I wasn’t blogging during November – but I thought the questions were pretty awesome and I wanted to participate anyway – because I’m such a rebel!

Today I’m answering Christine’s questions for her link-up “Know the Novel” and will be diving into The Prisoner and the Pirate (I like that title more every time I type it, it might stay…)

1. How’s the writing going?

It’s going fairly well. I’ve had a few hiccoughs throughout the past month as the story keeps trying to wander off into the weeds for no apparent reason. But it’s going well. The book itself is now over 70,000 words, and I think I might be about two-thirds of the way through? (That may be wishful thinking, as it FEELS like I’m only about halfway through, but I really don’t want to even acknowledge the possibility that this book might be another 140k monster).

2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

Getting to know the characters better, hands down. They are really a fun bunch. Unruly and rather rebellious at times (I TOLD you to sit down and talk to each other! Sit! Stay! Wait… what’s going on? Why aren’t you talking? What? Oh… you’re being chased by the bad guys….well… okay.. that’s a good reason to flee right now, but seriously, y’all need to TALK). Ahem.

Also I’m having fun taking the story to different parts of the continent and exploring the differences between the various cultures in my world so far. That’s been a different aspect of this series from The Minstrel’s Song, so it’s been fun to insert those little nuances here and there.

3. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

Yes, it definitely has. The beginning has changed on me a couple of times, and quite a few things have transpired differently than the way I had them in my outline, but it’s all for the best.

4. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

I LOVE these characters! They are really fun. Not extremely obedient, but that’s characters for ya. My current favorite to write about is Raisa, she’s getting a lot more page-time in this book than in the previous three, so it’s been fun getting to know her better. I always enjoy writing Marik, as well, and Dalmir, as well as Grayden, Wynn, and Beren… I mean, I love all of them…. even my villains. The villains in this series kinda seriously creep me out, but they are fun to write.

5. if you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

I would choose to be Raisa. And if I were, I would probably do things differently, because I’m nowhere near as awesome as she is, so I’d be dead by now. Thankfully, she’s not me!

If I didn’t get to choose, I’d probably end up as Cathrin, who is cool, but doesn’t get to go on the adventures… so the one thing I’d do differently than her is I would sneak on-board Marik’s airship when he leaves and stow away until we were too far along the journey to turn around. Hmmm… maybe she should do that.

Nah.

It’s not in her personality to do that. But it’s what I would do differently, for sure.

6. Give us the first sentence or paragraph and then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

I’m going with first sentence because there are potential spoilers in the first paragraph that I’d like to keep to myself for now.

Marik sat at the table in the Adelfried’s home, sipping at a glass of water and staring thoughtfully out the window.

Snippet 1:

Raisa glared at the man. “Do you have a plan?”

“Parts of one.”

Irritation flooded through her. “I’ve heard that before. Part of a plan is worse than no plan at all.”

“That’s why I need you.” The Shipwright grinned.

“Oh really? And what makes you think I can help you? You know nothing about me. I could be terrible at planning things.”

Snippet 2:

He did not look up at her approach, but his face wrinkled into a hideous smile.

“Ah, my Raisa. My good Raisa.”

Bile rose in her throat, but she choked it down. She sat down on the other side of the fire. “Master,” she ducked her head.

“Yes, my Raisa. The only one of my children to respect me the way a father should be respected.”

Unbidden, a memory of her own father rose in Raisa’s mind. His face swam in her vision: the sun-darkened skin of his face creased in a smile, the scratchy feel of his rough beard on the top of her head as he held her in his arms, comforting her when she awoke out of a nightmare, the smell of woodsmoke and sawdust that clung to his rough woolen shirt. For a moment she could feel his strong arms wrapped around her, lending her his strength even now, so many years after his death. The insane creature before her was nothing like the man who had cared for her, loved her, and protected her even with his final breaths. She banished the memory with a shake of her head, clamping her teeth down on the angry, stinging retort she wanted to throw in his face.

“The soldiers would not give me water. I cannot fight without water,” she said instead, reciting her part dutifully.

“Ah,” Lorcan frowned. “You must always come to me when you are sad or if someone hurts you. Yes.” He handed her a cup filled with water.

Raisa just managed to keep from snatching at it, but could not prevent her hand from trembling slightly as she raised the cup to her lips. She drank deeply, the cold water soothing her throat and her temper.

His sharp gaze caught hers above the rim of the cup. “Would you like to meet your brother?” 

She lowered the empty cup and frowned. “My brother?”

He grinned at her puzzlement. “It was unkind of me, perhaps, that I kept him from you. But he does not seem to understand as you do, how to treat his father. I wondered if you might speak with him? Explain to him? He is angry and frightened. I wonder…” Lorcan trailed off for a moment. He shook himself. “I believe it is because he did not know I was alive.”

If that’s the case, then he’s probably angry to find out that you are still alive, Raisa thought.

“You will speak with him?”

Raisa shrugged. “If you wish it.”

“My good girl. I do.” Lorcan rose and beckoned, so Raisa followed. He led her across the camp and into the trees in an area she had not yet explored. He wound his way through the trees. As they left sight of the camp, Raisa wondered if this might be her chance to kill the man. 

7. Have you come across any problem areas?

A few. I was struggling with how everything should come together for a while. I have various characters running along their arcs and a lot of potential for the arcs to collide but I wasn’t sure how exactly that was going to happen. Thankfully, I had a lovely “aha!” moment recently after I spent some time in prayer about the story.

Also, I’ve been really struggling with one of my characters’ names. This is actually quite an unusual problem for me, as I am very careful with what I name characters… but this one is on his third name so far… not sure what he’s going to end up being called. And he’s become a far more main character than I intended for him to, so he does, in fact, need a name.

8. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

Probably just getting through NaNoWriMo and actually getting fifty-thousand more words written into it in a single month.

9. Be honest, have you killed any characters off yet?

Not in this book… yet…. mwahahahahahahahaha!

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this particular novel has looked like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media? Tell all!

It’s been a fairly straight-forward process, lately, actually. I spend the afternoons (approximately 2pm – 4pm) writing while my kids are napping/in quiet time (and yes, this is the time when I often get distracted by social media or laundry or a dozen other things vying for my time when I have a few minutes to myself). Sometimes I have water or Dr. Pepper… depending on whether or not I needed caffeine earlier than the afternoon or not… hehe

Then, because my awesome wonderful amazing husband has been working so hard out at the new house to get a tile floor laid and save us many dollars… I’ve also had the evenings pretty much to myself, which is really the only reason I managed to get through NaNo. I put the kids to bed around 7:45pm and then I get another 2-ish hours to write. This has been the time where I’ve been able to be far more focused. And yes, I generally do light a candle, put on a mix of several CDs (for this project it was usually either a combination of Christmas music/Firefly soundtrack/Celtic instrumental or listening to various songs by Lindsey Sterling on Youtube), and make up a quick mug of hot apple cider. Also I led a LOT of word-sprints over on facebook in my “Writing Together” group, which helped keep me focused.

What about you? Are you writing anything these days? (I know many of my readers are also writers, and would love to hear your answers to any of these questions!) Or if you are not a writer, what do you think of what you’ve heard about my new series so far? What are you reading this month? Or just leave a note to say “hi!” I love hearing from you!

~ jenelle