NaNoWriMo Update: Week 1

NaNo Log Image

Good morning and salutations! The first week of November and the first week of the 2019 NaNoWriMo challenge has sped past, and I thought I’d give you an update about how it’s all been going here at Bag End.

This is only the second year I’ve ever even tried to participate in NaNo with any kind of serious intent. In the past, I have loved the idea of it, but it never lined up well with my writing schedule. Either I had just finished writing a story and was hard at work editing, or I was prepping for a book launch and doing all the polishing things, or various other things. But last year I was actually at the beginning of a project, and this year I know I have at least 50,000 words left to write in my current rough draft, and a goal to finish the book by the end of December… so NaNo is just the incentive I was looking for to help me stay on target.

The first week of NaNo started well.

Day 1: 2,009 words

I pounded out the words on day 1 in an effort to start strong and maybe get ahead so that when company comes for the week of Thanksgiving I don’t have to excuse myself to go write instead of enjoying fellowship with my family.

Day 2: 1,400 words

Not quite staying ahead of the game the way I hoped, but with my extra words on day 1 I was still doing okay.

Day 3: 640 words

NaNo starting on a weekend was rough, as I usually don’t have a lot of writing time on the weekends. They are days I reserve for family, but my super supportive husband is very eager for me to actually finish this book before the end of the year and is making sure I get some writing done every day. I stumbled around a bit and then logged my words, but somehow the site didn’t save the entry and I couldn’t fix it the next day to back-date the words I had actually written on Nov. 3rd no matter how hard I tried to get the site to acknowledge that fact… this discouraged me a bit…

Day 4: 4,530 words

My best day of writing so far. I got caught up, felt like the words were flowing, the story began to unfold nicely.

Day 5: 644 words

As I coasted into the latter half of the first week, distractions slipped in, along with a very real sense of, “why do I bother?” I’m not sure where it came from, all I know is that it struck with a vengeance. I grew more and more discouraged as I flailed about for the words and couldn’t find them.

Day 6: 759 words

Discouragement dug a nice little niche in my soul as I began to fall behind. Falling behind is a thing that is dangerous for me when it comes to NaNo, because I get more and more discouraged and that makes it harder and harder to write… a vicious cycle, true, but no less real.

Day 7: 1,859 words

Made back the ground I’d lost because my husband told me to sit down and do a 5 minute sprint. That was enough to get the creative juices flowing and I continued to write for another hour after that, ending the week pretty much right on target with 11,870 words.

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All in all, not a bad week of writing. I wasn’t quite as ahead as I’d been hoping, but the outlook was promising, and the story was tripping along nicely. I am loving getting to know some of these secondary characters from earlier books who are stepping into the limelight and really getting a chance to shine.

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How about you? I’d love to hear about what you’re working on! If you’re a writer, tell me whether you’re participating in NaNo or not and how it’s going! And if you’re not a writer… tell me… what sorts of things do you hope to find in the final book of a series you’ve loved reading?   

~ jenelle

Goodreads Choice Awards: I need your help!

GR Choice Awards


The Goodreads Choice Awards have just opened for nominations! For pretty much the first time ever, one of my books is actually eligible to be written-in as a nomination!

‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem is eligible to be nominated in the Picture Books category.

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Would you consider helping put this beautiful Christmas Book “on the map” by writing it in?

It is SUPER EASY to do. Just click on THIS LINK and then scroll down to the spot where you can enter in the title of a book, type in “Twas an Evening in Bethlehem” and click VOTE.

That’s all there is to it!


Note of Importance:

You DO need to be a Goodreads Member or have a Goodreads Account in order to see the “write in” option on the page!



~ jenelle

Know the Novel: October 2019

Know the Novel is a 3-part writers linkup series, one for each of these last three months of the year created by Christine Smith. Each part will feature 10 questions about your novel or how the writing is going!

Here were are… on the very precipice of October, about to jump feet-first into November and all the NaNoWriMo craziness….

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(This is actually me… jumping off a cliff… and it fits my metaphor, so…. of course I had to use it!)

I’m joining NaNo this year not to start a new project, but to help motivate myself to finish the one I’ve been working on. That still counts, right? I still hope to write 50,000 new words on this project… I’m just starting already 40,000 words into the novel itself…

Anyway, I always enjoy Christine’s Know the Novel link-up questions, so let’s chat a bit more about Towers of Might and Memory. Telling you about it might also help hold me accountable to actually write, as well, and that’s not a bad thing. (Probably a genuinely needed thing, actually… my writing muse appears to have packed its bags and left the building).

Ahem. So here are some delightful thought-provoking questions are just the ticket to help me continue procrastinating… I mean, gear up for writing the beautiful words and the epic conclusions and all that jazz.

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1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

This particular novel? Well, it’s the fifth and final book in a five-book series, so… I’m not entirely certain how to answer this question. Originally, the entire idea for this story sprang from the fact that my husband wanted to create a fantasy world and a few characters. That was fifteen years ago. It took him many years before he actually convinced me to write a story in that world, mostly because I was worried that he’d be upset if I got the story “wrong.” This particular story in the series, however, has been brewing for the past two years as I’ve been focusing more on writing the rough drafts of books 2-4.

2. Share a blurb!


Sorry, this is the fifth and final book in a series I haven’t published yet, and blurbs are horrible anyway, but all the blurbs I can think of for this one include massive spoilers… so… no actual blurb for you.

However, I can’t just leave you with nothing so… here’s… my very own Honest Trailer:

*clears throat… puts on best alto narrator voice I have*

In a world where airships are commonplace but electric lights haven’t been discovered yet, team up with a band of unlikely heroes, and a few more likely ones. As Marik and his crew hunt down an artifact that might hold the key to defeating the vile villain intent on taking over the world, the rest of these other more secondary characters must do all the actual fighting.

Journey through lands you haven’t discovered yet and try to keep from biting your fingernails as everything seems poised to topple down and all your heroes face their worst nightmares… and might possibly die. But we can’t tell you whether or not they do, because the book isn’t written yet….

Okay… you read that in the Honest Trailer guy’s voice, didn’t you? Bonus points if you did!

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

The book takes place in Turrim, the fantasy world my husband created many moons ago. Most of this book centers in Vallei (a region that hasn’t been featured so far in this series and that I can never spell correctly to save my life…. there. Vallei… with two l’s… sounds like “valley” can I remember that now? Probably not, let’s be honest, I’ve got too many things in my head to remember how to spell the names of things I ACTUALLY MADE UP!) and Dalma (which readers will recognize from book 1).

I’ve really enjoyed exploring Valei, which is a sort of Asia/Russia blend when it comes to culture and architecture. My main characters have to go there to find an artifact that is crucial to defeating the villain, and Marik and Raisa especially will face some of the ghosts from their past, as both of them are from Valei. I love describing Valei, with its winding rivers and single mountains jutting up into the sky, the villages they visit there are quite different from one another, as one is a wealthy area due to some tourism and the fact that it has no value as a tactical location and has been mostly left alone by the Igyeum soldiers, while the other village has suffered greatly.

4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).

Well, you met Marik and Raisa last week.

A few of my other protagonists are:
Grayden and Wynn, best friends from the small village of Dalsea who made it into the Military Academy earlier in the series. Grayden is an extravert with an impish side, but he is also diligent and intent on doing well in his studies. He works hard and plays hard. Wynn is more of an introvert, seriously bad with the people-skills, and has some obsessive tendencies, especially when a building or engineering project captures his imagination. He can easily get lost in his studies and is grateful to have a friend like Grayden who will often pull him away from whatever project has consumed his attention and force him to do other things like eat and socialize.

Beren Adelfried, a new friend they met as they traveled to the Academy. Beren is good-natured, huge, and friendly, but when he has a mission he’s all business, which can cause him to clash with Grayden at times when he feels Grayden isn’t taking things seriously enough.

Then there’s Dalmir… a strange, old man who has spent a lot of time all by himself in a tower. When Grayden breaks into his tower, Dalmir emerges to find the world has changed rather a lot during his self-enforced exile. Not much is known about Dalmir (well, not much at first, by book 5 you should have a pretty good idea of his personality, character, and back story, but since that contains books 1-4 SPOILERS I won’t say anything more about him here except that he’s kind of a grump, but he has good reasons for it). Sorrynotsorry.

I have lots more, but those are the most important ones.

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

The antagonist is a powerful man with some terrifying powers and weapons at his disposal. An egomaniac with a penchant for world dominance… this guy is cunning, patient, and severely lacking any sort of moral compass.

Okay… maybe not QUITE Jafar level.

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

Finishing it. Not just finishing the drafts, but having the whole series FINISHED and ready to hand to readers. I am so excited about these characters and this world and this story and I am anxious to share it with readers. There’s just…. so much still to do… lots of pieces, SO MUCH EDITING and putting it all together is a bit… terrifyingly overwhelming…

7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

Oooh! An EASY question!!! This is the fifth and final book in my new series.

8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

I’ve been plotting this story to varying degrees of intensity. Book five has had the loosest outline so far, which was causing problems once I had gotten a little ways into the story. However, Derek and I went to a nearby coffeeshop recently and worked together to do some more intense outlining of the big, overwhelming middle of this book. There are still things I don’t know, and I always enjoy leaving a little wiggle room so that the story can jump outside the boundaries of the outline if it wants to and take off dragging me behind… every story I write tends to come together differently. Some write themselves, others require an intense outline… it just depends on the story, really. This one has been mostly a plotted story.

9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.

I’d like to think that a lot about this story is unique. Airships AND wizards. Robots/magi-tech AND genetic manipulation. A few spoilery spoilers that I can’t divulge here but happened completely by accident (as in, some big AHA moments I never intended to write until I realized what had happened). A world with 6 distinct and varied cultures (which has necessitated a CRAZY amount of research and world-building, but I’m confident it will have been worth it). And a cast of characters who couldn’t be more different from each other if they tried…

10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

How about the opening scene of book 5? I’m pretty sure this shouldn’t include any spoilers (though it does contain characters I haven’t introduced or mentioned anywhere else in this post…):

“What is it, Thorben?” Nadia asked as her husband came into the house, his face pale beneath his golden beard. “What did the messenger have to say?”

Thorben Adelfried crossed the room and slumped into the large chair next to the enormous, double-sided stone hearth that proudly stood in the center of his massive living room. He rubbed his hands across his face. Nadia, sensing that something was terribly wrong, crossed the room and took his hands in hers. 

“Tell me,” she said, her voice quiet and calm.


The single word fell from his lips and thudded to the floor like a heavy stone. Such a small word, and yet with its utterance Nadia understood the lines of sorrow and weariness etched in her husband’s face. He had worked so hard to prevent this day from coming, he had spent the majority of his adult life on the Council working toward that end, and yet it had arrived anyway. She knew how tirelessly her husband had strived for peace, all the while doing everything he could to protect the alliance of Telmondir with the other council members. Her thoughts flew through everything that had happened in recent events: the long hours spent in the forge with Keene and Daegan, the trips to the shipyards, the arguments at the Arxis meetings, the messages back and forth to Langston and Roshana, the urgency of raising up new Defenders to fill the ranks of their own army, and even years before that, there had been the agonizing decision of whether or not to accept the Igyeum’s apparent offer of friendship when it introduced the airships and cynder technology to the world. The Council had argued over that long and hard, but Thorben had convinced them that the benefits outweighed the potential risks, pointing out that if they had the technology, at least they could be better prepared to defend themselves against it should the necessity arise. In light of all these things, Nadia understood, as only a wife can, that in this moment, he felt like a failure, that his every effort had been for naught.

But as much as she ached for her husband in this moment, Lady Nadia was not one to brood over what could not be altered. She knelt before her husband, pulling him into her embrace. For a long moment she held him, letting him know in the only way she knew how, that she still believed in him, and was proud of everything he had done to prevent this outcome.

After a long moment, Thorben sighed and Nadia released him, looking up into his eyes. “Tell me what the messenger said.”

Thorben grimaced. “The message comes from Marik. The Ar’Mol has mobilized his army and is marching against Dalton. The Igyeum plans to attack there with its full force.”

“How do they know the Ar’Mol’s intended target?”

“Because we infiltrated their base and learned secrets the Ar’Mol did not want us to know.” A new voice at the door made both Nadia and Thorben to whirl about. Illuminated in the doorway stood a tall, ragged figure. Two shorter figures flanked him.

“What…” Nadia gasped as the tall figure stumbled through the doorway, his features growing recognizable as he moved away from the harsh back-light of the sun. “Ioan?”

“Greetings Aunt. Uncle.” Ioan lifted a weary hand. “Forgive me, I had hoped to arrive sooner.”

“Ioan!” Thorben and Nadia both leaped to their feet and hurried to usher the young man to be seated.

“Are you injured?” Nadia asked in concern, noting the thinness of his face. “Or ill? What happened to you?” She craned to look out through a window, her heart lurching when she caught no sight of her son. “Where are the others?” Her gaze caught sight of the two other figures still hovering uncertainly near the door and she beckoned to them. “Please, come in,” she urged.

Mountain Segue

Well, now that you know precisely nothing more than you did before about Towers of Might and Memory…. I think I’m ready to tackle NaNoWriMo and try to get pretty close to completing this rough draft. I hope you enjoyed reading my extremely vague answers. Are you an author? Are you joining the NaNoWriMo challenge this year? What are you currently working on? If you’re not a writer, then what are you reading/planning to read in November?

~ jenelle

Interview with Marik and Raisa

The day started out cold and gray. Rain beat down against the windows of my house all morning long. But now the clouds have parted and turned to fluffy whiteness, the sun is shining, and all that remains of the long storm are a few puddles.

Writing has been exceptionally difficult lately. With the busy-ness of autumn, a book release, unexpected travels, and all the fall-ish things starting back up, I’ve been sitting in what feels like a writing traffic jam, inching slowly towards an unknown barricade. That is to say, not much writing has happened in the past three months.

However, NaNoWriMo is fast-approaching, and what better time to try diving back in to the writing regimen? I’d still like to finish up my current story by the end of the year, and if I can rediscover my discipline… then I still think that deadline is doable. But somehow I have to find a way to reignite my own enthusiasm for this project, rather than the sense of dread I’ve been struggling against lately.

Which is why I decided to join Liv K. Fisher’s Language of Worlds link-up… but I’m letting a couple of the characters from my Turrim Archive series answer the questions.

Rubs hands together… this is going to be fun!


First of all, a bit about this story I’m writing and the characters you’re about to meet.

Towers of Might and Memory is a gaslamp fantasy novel. It is the fifth and final book in the Turrim Archive series. I am currently sitting about 45,000 words into the story.

Marik is a pirate. An airship pirate, to be precise. He prides himself on being able to steal anything… but he’s been distracted from piracy of late in an effort to save the world. He’s got a murky and questionable past, with secrets he’d like to keep hidden.

Marik Aesthetic

Raisa is one of Marik’s crew. She’s fiercely loyal to her captain, but she’s recently had a rough time (which I won’t go into due to SPOILERS) but suffice to say that she’s re-evaluating everything she thought she knew about herself and where her place in the world might be.

Raisa Character Aesthetic

We find ourselves aboard the Valdeun Hawk, Marik’s airship, high above the ground. The sails flutter in the breeze as the ship drifts lazily through a cloud. Despite the idyllic scene, the airship is being pushed to its top speed. However, since no threat appears to be imminent, perhaps we can let Oleck take the wheel and chat with Marik and Raisa on the main deck for a bit. Here, let me help you adjust your goggles, they’re new and a bit clunky since up until recently airships couldn’t manage speeds high enough to warrant them. 

1. Your character is in crisis! Who is the first person they turn to?

Marik: gives a dashing grin “I’d get myself out of it, like I always do. I spend most of my life dodging one crisis after another. Do you think it’s easy or safe being a pirate? Somebody’s always trying to kill you, and there’s never enough money to pay for proper repairs, but that’s what makes it fun.”

Raisa: lets out a snort “He would, too. Can’t have anyone seeing the *great* Captain Marik needing help.”

Marik: “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Raisa: “Like you don’t know.”

Marik: “Well, who would you turn to?”

Raisa: “Oleck, of course. He’s always been there for me.”

Marik: “Oleck! What about me?”

Raisa: “Well… if you weren’t off somewhere blowing up a mine or signing us up for a job without consulting us first… then I might come to you.”

Marik: “Excuse me? If you don’t like the way I run this operation…”

Raisa: waves a hand “We can’t spend the entire interview on this question. Next?”

2. Who has their unconditional loyalty?

Raisa: shifts uncomfortably “Captain Marik and Oleck. They’re… my… family.”

Marik: “We are NOT family.”

Raisa: “What is your problem?”

Marik: crosses his arms stiffly “Nothing.”

Raisa: clears throat pointedly

Marik: “My crew. Next question.”

3. What cause do they believe in? Why?

Marik: “I used to know….” he drifts off and stares out at the horizon “I had a monster to fight. One I thought was the worst possible. But then I met Dalmir, and he showed me how little I understood. There are bigger evils in the world than I ever knew. They have to be stopped so that people can live their lives without fear.”

Raisa: stares at Marik like she’s never seen him before “I… um… this is going to sound… I always just believed in taking what I could. The world kicked me in the teeth and I just wanted to kick back as hard as I could. But… recently….” she pulls her sleeves down over her hands in an effort to hide them and if we’re observant we might notice that she has a strange pattern criss-crossing her deeply tanned skin “Well… I’d love to see the Ar’Mol and his entire regime toppled for good.”

4. Are they easy to get along with?

Raisa: Flashes a wide smile, her green eyes gleaming in the shadows of her hood “Not really. I don’t enjoy being around people much. It’s why I keep my circle of friends small. Besides, you never know when someone might come along and stab you in the back.”

Marik: “You really have to let that go, Ray. If I can forgive Shaesta, so can you. She didn’t have a choice.”

Raisa: shrugging “I wasn’t talking about Shaesta.”

Marik: raises an eyebrow “Well then.” grins and spreads his hands “I have to be easy to get along with, it’s part of what makes me a good pirate… getting people to trust me.”

Raisa: snorts

Marik: “I’m very easy to get along with.”

Raisa: “I didn’t say anything.”

Marik: glowers

5. Are they a night owl or morning dove? (Or “weird daytime pigeon”?)

Marik: “I guess you’d say I’m a weird daytime pigeon. When I’m awake, I’m awake. When I climb into my bunk, I sleep.”

Raisa: “Mornings are my favorite time of day. I love the quietness of the air, the colors swirling on the horizon, and that moment when golden dawn pierces the sky and changes everything from darkness to light.”

Marik: “Since when are you a poet?”

Raisa: “I like mornings, okay?”

Marik: tries to hide his laughter

6. What do they consider most vital to their health? Are they right?

Raisa: “Being able to trust the people around me.”

Marik: “The Valdeun Hawk.”

Raisa: rolls her eyes “Admit it, the only thing you really care about is this ship.”

Marik: “She’s the only thing that’s never let me down.”

Raisa: “Um….”

Marik: “Neither of those times was her fault. Besides, I’m still here, aren’t I?”

Raisa: muttering “Barely.”

7. What was their childhood fear?

Marik: presses lips together

Raisa: “Were you ever a child?”

Marik: “Ha ha, very funny.”

Raisa: “Well, it’s not like you ever talk about your past. The rest of the crew and I don’t know anything about you before we all met.”

Marik: “And that’s worked well for everyone. I see no reason to change that now.”

Raisa: “Well, I was afraid of Igyeum soldiers. Turns out, I was right to be scared.”

Marik: scowls “Let’s move on.”

8. What do they have nightmares about?

Raisa: shudders and wraps her arms around herself “Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

Marik: “They probably do. That’s why they asked the question.” he scowls “Fire. My nightmares are about fire.”

Raisa: takes a deep breath “The night my father was murdered. And…” she shudders and draws her sleeves further over her hands “…and…. no… I’m sorry. I can’t.”

9. What sights/sounds/smells remind them of home?

Marik: his gaze grows wistful “Long, winding rivers cutting through emerald plains and meandering around the tall, verdant peaks of mountains that rise up almost unexpectedly throughout the landscape. When a sudden breeze wafts the scents of fruit past you. The gold of aspen-glow…” he shakes himself. “But of course, the only real home I’ve ever had is the Hawk.”

Raisa: “I try not to remember home. It’s too painful to think about the things I loved and lost.”

10. What do they love most about themself?

Raisa: laughs self-consciously A few months ago, I could have answered that question without a single thought. But now… now I’m not even sure I know who I am, let alone what I love about myself.”

Marik: “My freedom.”

Raisa: “I’m… not sure that’s what they mean, Captain.”

Marik: shrugs “It’s still true. But if you need more… well, I’m dashing, confident, stylish, and charming. I’m also brilliant. What’s not to love?”

Raisa: “Humble, too.”

Marik: looks up thoughtfully “No… not that so much.” tosses her a wink that makes her laugh out loud then gives us a flourishing bow “I hope we have answered your questions to some amount of satisfaction, my lady, but we have urgent business to be about. Outrunning and outwitting assassins, and forestalling the end of the world and all that… so… if you’ll excuse us…”

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And there we have it!

I hope you enjoyed reading this little interview as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Thanks for reading! And let me know what you think of Marik and Raisa in the comments!

~ jenelle