know the novel: parts I & II (feat. my kingdom adventure fantasy novel!!!)

I am extremely late to the party when it comes to participating in Christine Smith’s excellent ‘Know the Novel’ link-up, but better late than never, as they say! If you’ve never heard of Know the Novel, just follow this link to get all the fun details. As the title of this post indicates, I’ll be answering the questions for both October and November’s link-ups in this post. And I’ll be focusing on my NaNoWriMo 2021 project KING’S WINTER.


What first sparked the idea for this novel?

Tolkien. I’ve been itching to write a fantasy story for at least a couple months, inspired by my great love for all things Tolkien. I had a couple characters and a whisper of a plot, but I wasn’t very excited or inspired. Things just weren’t coming together. But after I chatted for a little bit with a friend (she writes in a similar genre, and inspires me so much!) I began to get excited about the story. One thing led to another, and now I am SO in love with my characters and the world in which they live.

Share a blurb (or just an overall summary)!


As princess in exile in Myndor, the very country she will one day rule, Una has been on the run for almost as long as she can remember. If the king of Cuinloch, a neighboring kingdom, finds her, he will kill her.

As a ranger who spends his days in the bitter, dangerous cold of the Fell Forest, Gareth is accustomed to hardship. But his newest assignment is more difficult than he expected: find the person responsible for the twenty-year-long winter gripping Cuinloch—the princess of Myndor—and have her killed.

When the mission goes awry, Gareth finds himself dependent on the very one he was trying to harm. Will Una and Gareth be able to see past the lies entrapping them? Or has the truth been buried for too long?

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

The bulk of King’s Winter takes place in the Fell Forest (and a little fortress on the borders of the forest). Before a decades-long winter gripped the land, the forest was an inviting, magical place–basically your standard, cozy, autumnal woodland filled with deer and hares and tall trees and little paths and burrows and all that. Now the forest is a frozen, tree-filled no-man’s land between two warring kingdoms, filled with huge wolves, ravenous bears, and way too much snow. There is still beauty there, but most people are too afraid to see it. I love the snowy, mysterious, dark aesthetic of the Fell Forest. It’s a dangerous and (sometimes) sad place, but there are wonders to be found and bits of joy as well. All in all, I personally feel as though it’s a pretty cool (haha) place!

Besides the forest, there are also the kingdoms of Myndor and Cuinloch. Myndor is a mountain kingdom, with the king’s fortress/castle carved out of a mountain. Cuinloch used to be a sun-drenched kingdom, with its the castle set in the middle of a beautiful lake. Flowers and bees everywhere, and fields full of summer wheat. But with winter’s onslaught, it’s become a starving, wind-swept land where every day marks a new struggle to survive. Will things ever get better? You’ll have to read the book… 👀

Tell us about your protagonist(s).

Una is the daughter of King Egan (who rules Myndor). She has been on the run ever since her father accidentally killed the king of Cuinloch’s son (on the run because the king of Cuinloch, Feargal, has vowed to kill her in revenge). Una is terrified of being found out, dragged to Cuinloch, and killed by Feargal. During her years on the run, she has become quite an experienced healer–she has a passion and focus for healing people that even her fear must bow to. Una’s compassion, empathy, and determination are inspiring to me. ❤

Who (or what) is the antagonist?

I can’t say too much about my villain, for the sake of spoilers, but let’s just say that he is NOT what he seems. At all. He is playing a tricky, dangerous game that involves several layers of betrayal, treachery, and triple-agent-ness. Also, I’ve fan-casted him as Rufus Sewell, so there’s that. But yeah, he is super devious; you can never be sure about him. I’m still not sure about where his character will end up! Redemption? Death? Imprisonment? All three somehow??? Very intriguing.

What excites you the most about this novel?

THE CHARACTERS. One million percent. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so in love with any of my OCs before. I wrote a few scenes with them yesterday (which led to me hitting 50K!) and I realized just how much I love them. As I told a friend (the same friend who inspires me), I’m so glad that none of my characters are nasty or mean or rude people (with the exception of the villains). The conflict does not come from interpersonal rivalries or rivals/enemies-to-lovers or whatever, but from events beyond the characters’ control.

Una, Gareth, Berik, King Egan, and others are all good people doing the best they can with their conflicting loyalties and their ideas of what ‘doing right’ looks like. We need more kind, honorable, good heroes! Not perfect Mary Sues or Gary Stus, but simply people whose moral compasses are working properly.

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

Standalone! I love standalones, and I’m hoping that King’s Winter will be one of those thick, brick-like fantasy books. *heart eyes*

Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Plotting, always. Being at work gives me a lot of time to mull over plot elements in my head, so that helps. And then I’ve also started writing detailed outlines for almost every individual scene of the story. Helps me stay on track, and it’s also just plain fun–I’m definitely a person who loves organizing and lists and all that.

Name a few unique elements about this story.

–People can control weather, animals, and plants in King’s Winter (to a certain extent).

–There are your typical rangers, BUT they wear white instead of green. (Eternal winter, and all that.)

–My secondary protagonist (Gareth) loses one of his legs very early on in the story and has to deal with that throughout the rest of the book.

Share some fun “extras” 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 am planning to make a map (maybe even today!), but for now my Pinterest board will have to do. I also have a playlist, but it’s more like a mash-up of a million different movie soundtracks that vaguely match the aesthetic of King’s Winter instead of a carefully curated selection of lyrical songs that capture the vibe of the story/characters. I also like to take one soundtrack or album and listen to it on repeat while I’m writing until I’m sick of it (and even then, sometimes I’ll keep listening). The soundtrack I’ve indulged in the most while drafting King’s Winter is Randy Edelman’s score for Dragonheart (1996). The movie is…not the greatest, but the soundtrack is GOLDEN.

Well, those were my answers to Part I of Know the Novel. Now on to Part II! (Here’s the original post about it. <3)

How’s the writing going overall?

VERY well. I reached the 50K word goal yesterday (exactly halfway through the month!) and I’m still in love with the characters, the story, and the storyworld. I know that writing through the ‘muddy middle’ can be challenging, but I’m very thankful that, so far, the plot still seems to be working/engaging me. There’s a lot more story still to cover, including a character death that I am both dreading and looking forward to (but mostly dreading *sadness*). Should be a wild ride!

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

Everything??? It’s been cool to have the story and characters all come together in my mind–and then emerge on the page! The vibes have been wonderful; I think I’m really capturing the aesthetic and mood that I was/am going for. I’ve been able to listen to beautiful music, watch and read wonderful stories for research (hehehe), and get copious amounts of words written. It’s been a blast. I’ve prayed over King’s Winter–I believe that God has helped me write, and He should get all the glory anyway because He’s the one who gave me everything that makes me able to write in the first place.

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

The characters in King’s Winter are some of the most-loved (by me) characters I’ve ever created. Well, at least some of them. And even the ones I don’t love are quite well-developed and I still do care about them. Gareth is the one I’m most meh about, sadly. I want to love him as much as I love the others, but there’s some kind of disconnect happening. Hopefully I figure it out soon! Because he really is a great guy. ❤ My favorite character to write about is probably Berik, Una’s bodyguard. He’s got a tragic past, and he’s very cool and capable and courageous. Love him.

Has your novel surprised you in any way?

I wasn’t expecting my main villain (the Rufus Sewell guy) to be a thing. But other than that, I haven’t been really surprised by much else. Of course, there will almost always be hidden details about characters and plot points that you didn’t see coming when you write a first draft. But overall, I haven’t been surprised by much.

Have you come across any problem areas?

Gareth, maybe? Just because I’m not feeling so much of a connection though, not because he’s ruining the plot or anything. (Thankfully! A wayward character could derail the whole plot.) My drafting process has been pretty smooth so far, which is good. One less stressor in my life. 😉

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

Writing 50,000 words in fifteen days! It’s not the quickest I’ve ever hit 50K, but it’s still a major achievement–one that I’m quite happy with. On a more meta level (is that the correct use of the word?), I’m still VERY pleased that I’ve felt the vibe/aesthetic as I’ve written King’s Winter. When I open the document and continue writing, I’m instantly pulled into the world of the Fell Forest. And that’s not something I take lightly–it’s a pretty special gift I get to enjoy.

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’d be Una (unsurprisingly, I feel). I’d probably be doing a lot more whining and complaining than she does, truth be told. 😛 But I also like to think that I’d do the same as her and save Gareth’s life, even though he is an enemy. I guess I’ll never know though…

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

Opening line: The small boy and the smaller girl regarded each other gravely.

A couple favorite snippets:

Another howl, even closer.

Oh, Eldùn, we need You.

Shame filled her. She had given into fear, and not thought of Eldùn once in all that time. But now that she had, prayers filled her mind swifter than the snow fell, fiercer than the howls that echoed all around her and Gareth and Berik and the ponies. Berik could not fight what he could not see. He could not be everywhere at once. She could not fight and hold fast to the ponies at the same time. And Gareth would be lost if the ponies bolted. Their only hope was in Eldùn, and she had a feeling that Berik, at least, had not forgotten that. His faith was a mountain, strong and steady, while hers was only a river pebble that could be shifted and overturned by the swiftness of the currents.

She brushed her fingers over the dried, faded petals with a touch as light as a snowflake’s fall.

When she looked back at him, he saw the knowledge, the recognition in her eyes.

“You gave this to me, I think. Long ago.” A look of wonder touched her face, and the dimples appeared again. Amazement filled her voice. “Gareth. I knew I had heard your name before, but I could not remember where. You were the boy in the garden, weren’t you?”

Denial would only sound feeble, and he did not want to lie to her again.


“That day was so beautiful.” She looked back down at the rose. “And then, so terrifying.”

They were treading on dangerous ground. “I remember it too.”

Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)

I nearly made myself cry at work just thinking about an upcoming character death. So there’s that. =)

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

Most days I wake up around six or six-thirty (that’s even if I stay up really late–I tend to compensate with a nap later in the day). I’ll drink coffee, have my devotions, catch up on blog posts and social media, and then settle in to write. I write at my desk (newly decorated for Christmas!), on my old-yet-working laptop, and I don’t really have a set amount of writing time. I’ll usually listen to music (movie soundtracks, most often), sometimes burn a candle, and always drink lots of water. I like leaving my phone on silent mode so I’m not distracted by notifications. I also want to start putting an elastic around my phone case so I can’t pick it up and scroll through Instagram so easily. 😉

Wow. That was a loooooong post. Writing it has been on my to-do list for a while though, so I’m glad I finally did. If you’ve made it all the way through, I’d love to hear your thoughts on King’s Winter, details about how your NaNoWriMo is going, or anything else you’d like to share. Let’s chat in the comments!


16 thoughts on “know the novel: parts I & II (feat. my kingdom adventure fantasy novel!!!)

Add yours

    1. I’ve been writing seriously for about ten years (same as blogging!) and I’ve probably written six or seven novels (at least). Writing is definitely one of my main passions! (As I’m sure is obvious lol.) NaNoWriMo is a yearly challenge that takes place every November–participants are tasked with writing a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days (although it can be longer–50K is just the official goal). That works out to roughly 1700 words a day. I’m such a fast writer that it isn’t really a challenge for me anymore, but I do enjoy the focus on writing that comes every November among my blogging/Instagram community.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a fast typist, too – but my brain doesn’t work that fast! 😀 Sometimes I can get into a flow, but most of the time, it takes me forever to figure out HOW to say what I want! I circle around and around, write a little, then circle back again. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. OOOOooOOoohhhh! THIS. SOUNDS. SO. DELCIOUS!!! I’m ALL about those epic fantasy stories. Especially inspired by Tolkien! *heart-eyes* I also ADORE wintry settings. And weather, plant, and animal magic is SO. FUN. I’m just loving everything about this SO SO MUCH. And that aesthetic. *more heart-eyes*

    CONGRATS ON REACHING 50K!!! Aaaahhhh! You are killing it! I’m so very happy to hear it’s been going so well! That’s just wonderful! I do hope all the rest of NaNo is even BETTER. Cheering you on!

    Thank you so much for joining the linkup. This was SUCH a treat to read. I am in LOVE with all of this! <333


    1. Thank you!!! Your enthusiastic comment made me so happy. *heart eyes* Thanks for hosting the link-up! I’m looking forward to the third round of questions. ❤


  2. This sounds great!! I’m so intrigued by Una and Gareth’s conflicting quests/missions. And, well, you know how I feel about your villain… 😅


    1. P.S. 50k in 15 days?!!! HOW?! I used to do Nano, and I don’t think I ever managed more than 2k a day on average, if that. 😀 Way to go!!


      1. Well, I’m a very fast typist and when I’m doing a first draft the words tend to explode out of me. Also, I do have quite a bit of free time. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Awww, this is so cool and exciting! I’m doing nano this year too, though I’m not so speedy as you and am only at 26K right now. Congrats on passing 50K halfway through the month! Berik sounds awesome, and casting Rufus Sewell as good guy or bad guy is always a plus! 😀


    1. Thank you! I noticed you requested to be my writing buddy on the website–if that person with Dana Andrews as their profile picture is you? 😉

      Berik is awesome, I think! Having Sean Bean in my mind’s eye as I write him definitely helps. =) The funny thing about casting Rufus Sewell is that the only thing I’ve seen him in is a few episodes of Victoria aaaaages ago. But he fit my villain so well, physically speaking!


    1. Sweet! I LOVE that kind of aesthetic too!! (Which is good, because I live in it irl for about seven months out of the year. =))

      Liked by 1 person

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