Wednesday, November 7, 2018

It's That Time of Year, Again

Has anyone else noticed that it's November? Like October is GONE, and we're suddenly in the middle of NaNoWriMo?

My schedule didn't realize that.

My Little Writer, however, is happy since I'm currently NaNo-ing and plugging away on adding at least 50,000 words to my Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, The Twelfth Kingdom... which I've left sitting stagnate since, like, 2012. I had worked hard on it for about two months, written about 25,000 words, and then had gotten distracted with another story. Yeah, I had twelve very angry princesses waiting to pounce on me when I opened that dusty document.

To be honest, I toyed with the idea of starting a brand new novel for this year's NaNo, and my Little Writer immediately vetoed that. But I had a spark of new inspiration for this story, and I'm happy to jump back into it. I'm praying that this gives me the nudge I need to get the story out of being a "started-but-abandoned-draft" sitting in my documents folder.

And since I just hit 14K this morning, I thought I'd pop onto dear Blogger and give you all an update.

Firstly, I'm super excited to being doing NaNo again... FINALLY. With the last four years of my life being swallowed over in college and classes, I had absolutely no time to try to write 10K, let alone 50K. Now, I'm graduated and (metaphorically) pulling on my boxing gloves again. I'm also a wife and a mommy this time around, but so far keeping baby alive and trying to keep the house from falling down hasn't been too difficult to maneuver around.

My good friend, Christine of Musings of an Elf, is hosting a great writer's link-up for those of us participating in NaNo this year. This is the first of a three-part link-up, dedicated to NaNo enthusiasts knowing their novel. And I'm ignoring my Little Writer (who's demanding that this tag below is the October edition of the link-up, and I'm officially a month behind the times) and filling out the questions below for your enjoyment.

So there, Little Writer. I have to introduce my NaNo novel at some point, don't you know.


1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

I believe it was actually first inspired by the film Barbie in the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I had just watched it for the fourth(teenth) time with my sisters and was wondering how one woman could have twelve daughters all so close in age without having multiple twins and triplets and quads, etc. I mean, come on. The story makes the most sense to have the girls fairly close in age. Fairytale age for a marriageable princess is typically 18 or 16; 12 daughters later, the youngest would have to be 6 or 4. Can you imagine a four-year-old dancing the night away? Uh, yeah. Me, too. If the oldest is 22, say, then the youngest (without multiples) has to be at most 10. Those ages could technically work with the story, but it still just didn't seem realistic to me.

So, I began brainstorming. And the thought struck me while I was doing the dishes (which just so happens to be my best brainstorming activity): What if the twelve princesses were adopted? They could all be super close in age that way, and the storyline would make more sense. The problem with that: What monarch would adopt twelve girls? And WHY?

Thus, The Twelfth Kingdom was born.

Mock cover for inspiration :)

2. Share a blurb!

Still pretty rough, but this is a scene from the beginning of the novel.

At last, J and B made it all the way to the iron fence. They pressed their faces to the bars and looked up, just as the crowd fell silent. 

“Thank You, Père,” B breathed. “We made it.”

The balcony doors opened and a man dressed in a crimson coat stepped out. He held a golden trumpet to his lips and blew a single note. 

“Why would he do that when he already has everyone's attention?” J whispered to B.

“Shh,” she waved her hand vaguely at her friend, not willing to look away from the balcony for one second. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, people of Tellorn, and all Findenland!” the man yelled. J was instantly glad that B had suggested they get closer. Otherwise, they would never have been able to hear him, and they would have to resign themselves to waiting for the gossip to reach them and learn the new princess's name. 

A real name. J licked her lips in anticipation. This was the part that excited her the most. Each of the orphan girls the king had adopted were given names suitable for princesses. The days of being labeled a solitary letter were over. Only people from the upper classes and royalty had real names. People of the street, like J, were not allowed to have names, only letter labels that they could use to refer to themselves.

“It gives me great pleasure,” the man continued, “to introduce you all to newest princess of Findenland, King Jakken's new daughter: Her Royal Highness, Princess Zelburna!” 

The doors opened again and this time a lithe figure wearing a pink gown and a silver necklace that caught the rays of the morning sun stepped out onto the balcony. For one silent moment, she stood nervously, as if unsure what to do. But the next moment, the crowd erupted. Cheers and shrill whistles rang out and echoed down the streets. J winced. The noise was deafening. Princess Zelburna blushed but waved as perfectly as one of her station should.

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

This story takes place in the completely fictional kingdom of Findenland. It is one of twelve kingdoms on a single continent, firstly inspired by (but not truly modeled after) the twelve tribes of Israel. This continent is actually where most of my stories take place, and Findenland is south of Secret of the Hazel Tree's Troisem.

Findenland is a mix somewhere between Denmark and Switzerland. While part of a large continent of twelve kingdoms, it is the only kingdom of the twelve to be completely landlocked, meaning their military advantage is handicapped due to not being able to have a navy like the other kingdoms. Instead, Findenland has to be creative with its trade and diplomatic relationships to remain stable. Diamond mining is their greatest asset, and they have plenty of lovely mountain views. While it is not as cold as Troisem, Findenland still boasts impressive winters, and one would be well-advised to not traipse alone through the mountains because wild cats run faster than humans.

4. Tell us about your protagonist.

J is a young girl living in the streets, trying to survive and take care of her best friend, B. That is, until they both get chosen to become the eleventh and twelfth orphan girls the king has adopted. While the opportunity seems like a miracle, it doesn't take J long to discover that being one of King Jakken's daughters isn't all it's made out to be.

J, to me, is a type of Esther Summerson. She's quiet, but she has a temper enough to speak her mind from time to time. She's compassionate, and she's got a good amount of courage that she keeps tucked in her back pocket. At the start of the story, J is about 15 or so years old.

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

This one is actually difficult to answer, because I'm not exactly sure. That's one of the things I'm fully discovering as I'm writing the novel. King Jakken would probably be the best answer, though. Although he is a father figure to the princesses, seeing as he saved them from the streets, he is incredibly selfish and only wants to use the girls he adopts to his own advantage. His patriotism probably runs deeper than it should, and he would do just about anything for his kingdom and his title.

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

Right now, a new pantsing exercise with a former minor character. What re-sparked my interest in writing this story was a minor character complaining that he wasn't getting enough attention. Although he had a big-ish role near the end of the novel, he insisted that he was big at the beginning, too. And then went on to prove it to me by trying to assassinate the king. I mean, if that doesn't grab the writer's attention, I don't know what will.

Then I realized that this was a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling... and I didn't have the soldier anywhere in the story. The soldier is probably one of the most iconic characters of the story, as it is he who discovers the princess's secret and exposes them. Of course, I had to have the soldier in the tale to make it as genuine as possible, and this guy who was supposed to be minor-ish was insisting that he was the soldier.

The only problem was he wasn't. He was the character of the soldier from the original fairytale, but he wasn't actually a soldier. He needed to have military experience to qualify for the job.

THAT'S when I saw political tensions creeping in from foreign parts, and then BOOM... I had another plot with a soldier that I hadn't ever planned on.

7. Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else?

Lord willing, standalone. It may be close to the near 200K Hazel Tree was, but that's how I like my fairytales. Thick, complicated, genuine, and chock full of gorgeous WORDS.

I have no idea what this pic is from, but -- all 12 girls right here. 

8. Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plansting?

Typically, I'm a total pantser (as made obvious with the answer to #6 above). However, I actually have most of this story planned out. I took the time to write down everything that should happen, and that's why my interest in this book died like it did. When I knew everything that was going to happen, why did I need to write the story?

Now, I've decided to use my six-page outline as more of a guideline of what might happen, rather than a specific roadmap dictating what exactly needs to happen. And things are a lot more exciting.

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

Twelve adopted princesses with backstories that don't leave them as 2D characters.

A law stating that commoners aren't allowed real names, only letter labels.

An assassin-turned-soldier serving under the very king he was trying to kill.

No magic.

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!).

I do have a map I've created of the Twelve Kingdoms, but as it includes private author notes and was made with the amateur-ish Windows Paint software, I'm not super ready to share it with the world.

Instead, how about a look at Pinterest?


And there you have it! Now, if you'll excuse me, folks, I have a novel to write.

God bless!


  1. I'M SO HAPPY YOU JOINED THE LINKUP!!! And pssshhh. Tell your Little Writer to shush, we can totally pretend it's still October for a minute. ;)

    This is so fun you've returned to your 12DP story!!! Being as how it's one of my top favorite fairytales EVER, I'm sooo looking forward to this one! (I mean, I totally watched the Barbie movie on multiple occasions too, despite being, erm, older than the targeted age group for it when it came out. *ahem*) But oh my goodness, so I'm not the only one who never could grasp the logistics of the princess' ages??? I've seriously spent IMMENSE amount of time thinking it through. I feel so much better bot being alone in this. XD And your solution of the princesses being adopted is BRILLIANCE.

    Every single thing about this sounds so amazing! Your worldbuilding is SO well thought out. The commoners names having to be just letters is most definitely unique! I LOVE IT. And I reeeeally like the idea of the father actually being rather antagonistic.

    Also, that's really funny about the soldier taking over everything, because that's literally what happens to me with like...every one of my stories. I have a character whom I think is just a minor one, but then he/she takes over everything and not only steals the show, but changes the PLOT and...yeah. What're we gonna do with these characters? *shakes head*

    Anyways, I love, love, LOOOOVED hearing more about this story and am really excited you're writing it again! Thank you for sharing and joining my linkup! I do hope this NaNo goes absolutely amazingly! *sends motivational cookies*

    1. Haha, thank you so much, Christine!! I'm excited to get back into this and GET IT DONE. I've had this story sitting on the back burner for far too long. My poor girls... 12DP is honestly one of my all-time favorite fairytales, but I don't think I've read a retelling yet that doesn't include magic. So, here's hoping I can work our a good retelling that's non-magical.

      So, not only do those characters jump in and tell you they're big deals, but then they also end up being your faves. WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN?? Also... HOW? It's awful. I'm currently working on two different parts of the book right now, one track following the princesses, and another track following the soldier-who-was-minor, and he's so much more fun to follow! Yesterday, I actually got so bored with my princesses, I ditched them and went back to the soldier. And BAM! More words in an hour on him than I'd written on the 12 in 6 hours. #gofigure

      Hope your Midas retelling is going well! I've been following your progress with my mouth gaping. HOW DO YOU WRITE SO FAST? When I grow up, I want to write like you. ;) Keep up the fabulous work!

  2. It was great to read your answers to this tag! I look forward to reading this when it's all done. :)

  3. This book sounds really good. I loved the Hazel Tree so much. The story still sticks with me. I'm certain this will be as good