Beautiful Books: Novel Update

Pleased to be participating in the lovely Beautiful Books meme hosted by  Cait and Skye. And before the very end of the month, too! What?

This month is focused on “how is the writing going?” So, since I’ve actually been getting rather a lot of writing done, though not Nano-numbers, I figured I’d grab the questions and write a blog post… because their questions are usually quite helpful in generating some focus.

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

I would say it is pretty good. Considering that my goal is much smaller, I am still getting to edit some and add here and there to parts I’ve already written as I go back and flesh some scenes out. I get a little frustrated by the days that I am not able to get any writing done, probably because the success I’ve been having on the days I do get to write is a good indication of how much closer I could be to finishing this draft if I could manage to write every day… but that’s just not a realistic goal at this point in my life.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

A roaring fire blazed merrily in the hearth of the large room. Its light mingled with those of the torches that hung in elaborate, black iron sconces on the walls, and the tall candelabras that adorned the massive, wooden table. The table was covered with a cloth of fine, white linen, and set with crystal chalices and dishes that were rimmed with gold. The feast laid out could have fed an entire village for several days. Fruit of every variety, an entire pig, as well as large slabs of mutton and beef, and enormous loaves of bread filled the surface of the table, along with various other delicacies and trifles.

Seated around the table were lords and ladies dressed in their finest splendour. They talked and laughed together as they ate the evening meal, lending an air of joviality and friendly conversation to the atmosphere of the lavishly adorned room. And yet, there was an undercurrent of unease just barely visible on the faces of the guests. The smiles were a tiny bit too wide, hinting that the laughter was forced. Eyes darted warily, suggesting that the guests did not feel wholly safe in their current location. And a few bore tiny furrows in their brows, a tell-tale sign that they were thinking hard about something other than the light-hearted conversation.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

That’s a tough one. I really do enjoy most of the characters in this series so far. I am even finding the villains to be at the very least intriguing, if not even compelling, in their own… rather twisted ways.

I’ve been falling in love with Wynn more this go-round. The first novel was all about Grayden, and Wynn has started to really come to life since that book, so it’s been fun to experiment with telling some parts of the story from his point of view. I need to be careful, though, as too many POVs can annoy readers. But sometimes it’s just nice to get a peek into what some of the other characters are thinking/feeling. That’s one of the reasons I really love writing (and reading) 3rd person omniscient.

What do you love about your novel so far?

I love that I’m getting to explore more of the world the story is set in. There are a lot of things going on and various subplots and storylines (see what I did there, Tracey?!?!?) going on throughout the novel, and it’s really fun to watch them as they twist around each other and begin to converge. It’s complex, and I am enjoying that.

It’s probably also the thing driving me the most crazy… I’m used to writing things in a much more linear fashion… so this is quite hard work, actually.

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Probably. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, though.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

I really enjoy beginnings. They seem to come the easiest. But middles and endings are where all the action tends to be, and so can be a lot more fun to write when I get into a good groove. I don’t know, I really enjoy every part of the writing process… even when it’s difficult. The only thing I don’t enjoy is hitting road blocks.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I tend to write in the afternoons when my kids are in quiet time/naps and in the evenings after they go to bed. I don’t usually eat while I write, though I may have a gatorade or a glass of water nearby. Sometimes I listen to music, but not always. My writing space is either on my bed or on my couch… nothing super exciting, but comfy.

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

Always be Batman.

No, I really do crave a cheering squad… I miss the days of writing King’s Warrior and Second Son and getting instantaneous feedback every ten pages. I don’t really have the ability to do that any more (partially because it’s hard to find people who are willing to read my book as it gets pieced together over the course of a year or two… most people don’t like waiting interminably long periods between chapters… or halves of chapters!) (I am one of those people who is willing to wait… so please don’t read this and wonder if I’m talking about you, Ally! I LOVE getting to read your story whenever you finish a chapter!)

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

My family. They are my biggest fans, and probably the people who would be most disappointed if I gave up or stopped writing. They are the ones constantly asking, “When’s the next book coming out?” or “What are you working on now?” And I know they actually mean it. I can’t even begin to count the number of times my dad has read my books, but almost every time I talk to him he tells me he’s started reading one of my stories over again… because he has nothing else new to read (hint hint, get to work, Jenelle!)
What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

I’m not the best at advice, because I tend to believe that there is a very wide variety of what will work for various people. But I’ll try to come up with three.

1. Write something. My friend DJ posted a quote that resonated with me quite strongly a little bit ago: “The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.” — Unknown And it’s true. No, your first draft may not be publishable… it may be a mixed up, muddled mess. But messes can be cleaned up and straightened out and fixed and polished until they shine like new pennies. Blank pages will never be a novel.

2. Mix it up. If you usually write to music, try writing in silence. If you have a specific location you usually write in, try going somewhere else. I find that a change of scenery is often just the thing I need to get the words flowing again. (Case in point, after several months of writer’s block, I hammered out nearly 4000 words during two different layovers in the O’Hare airport)!

3. Make it your constant goal to FINISH that first draft. So many authors give up or quit or never get anywhere because they spend too much time focused on making every word they write perfect, or because they get distracted by other stories. There’s nothing wrong with chasing other plot bunnies or taking a break from your project to work on something else, or doing a little going back and editing here and there… I do all of those things. But it is also important to finish things, to realize that more editing will happen once that rough draft is complete, and more editing after that, and then more, and then proof-reading…. and even then, it probably won’t be that ever-elusive perfection you were seeking…. but it will be done, and it will be presentable, and you will then be able to experience the best part of being an author: sharing your work with someone else.

~ jenelle



I love the descriptive beginning! It really places me right in the story. :)

Yes, always be Batman. Always.

I love your advice so much! I really need to try mixing things up. Get some different creative juices flowing.

Best of luck writing this NaNo season! :)

DJ Edwardson

Great to hear you’re making progress. Honestly, I don’t know how you do it with home schooling, three kids, and another one on the way!

I am really interested in this next series. From everything I’ve read about it, it sounds like it’s going to be very cool.

And yes, sharing your story is one of the best parts about being a writer for sure. It’s also potentially the most humbling/nerve-wracking/scary thing too! But having that story finished, it makes everything worth it.


Thanks! Hope you’re feeling better after your concussion!

I am really excited about all the progress I’m making on this series, I really think it’s going to be an enjoyable read.

I have no idea how I get any writing done, honestly. Well, yes, I do… it generally happens on days when the day ends with the house looking like a tornado swept through it!

Tracey Dyck

YES, I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE. That was the best! XD

I love the name Wynn. And your beginning snippet does such a good job of laying out the scene! I liked how the “camera” sort of “zoomed out” from the table settings to the people and the room they’re in.

Aw, your dad sounds so sweet! ^_^

I admire you finding time to write while being a busy wife and mother. That gives me hope that I’ll manage to do it too one day.

GREAT writing tips, too. I’m really, really having to remind myself that what I’m writing right now is just a first draft. Messiness is inevitable. I guess I spent so much time editing and perfecting manuscripts that to draft a whole new novel again feels a little foreign. Though I have drafted novellas for the Rooglewood contests, it’s not quite the same as a longer story. Especially a sequel–those come with a different set of challenges!


Ah, I think it’s about time to go eat breakfast because your opening made me hungry. :) That kind of setting is practically my favorite to read and write about. Keep up the good work!


I love hearing from you, dear Reader!