Happy New Year’s Day

The streamers are strung and poppers are popped,

the firecrackers are out and they are dancing hot.

Cone hats all donned and champagne chilled nearby,

Goofy dancing and laughing without needing to worry quite why.

I wish you a Good Year with all of my might,

And now that we’ve been festive, I wish you good night.

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Ring in The New Year

Wishes for happy new days,

and parties for happy new nights,

and celebrating new friends that fill us with delight.

Happy new hearts that try to care for the world,

and happy new smiles that last even when our efforts grow cold.

Happy New Year my friends

as we say goodbyes to the Happy Year of Old

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Even the Grinch can’t find a reason to hate it

The Christmas season is the greatest

Presents shining under a decked out tree

And sweet treats made from secret family recipes

But most of all the only thing I need

Is to spend some time with the people who love me

 

Have I Gone Crazy? Writing a Series in 30 Days

It’s Nanowrimo this month, which if you’re not familiar with the event means many authors, including myself, are challenging themselves to do the near impossible.

Writing a Series in One Month, title on yellow dot at right, wow! hand drawn style speech bubble at left,on gray sweater writing on paper at crowded desk background photo

For most authors, this means writing the first draft for an entire book in just 30 days.

For me this year, this means writing the draft for an entire series in just 30 days.

Thankfully, I have a little bit of a head start. I have an outline, which helps me know where the story is going, even if I don’t yet know exactly which words will take us there.

I’m also fully stocked on snacks, caffeine, and time. Because you know, time is the main ingredient needed to do near impossible writing marathons like this!

I’ve made some good progress on my full book draft so far.

I’m a little behind at being only halfway through book one so far, but I’m still trucking along at drafting about 3 whole chapters per day. I’m pretty happy with my writing speed on this, and I think with a few concentrated marathon days to make up for any chapters I’ve fallen behind on I will be able to finish the challenge on time even with the occasional demands of things like a social life and business obligations and all that sort of stuff.

I think I’ll actually make it.

Handwriting a series draft in chartreuse green binder with mechanical pencil on top, on black desktop with looseleaf paper

It will be the fastest I’ve ever written a series before. And, I’ve found that writing it all at once like this, has also made it better writing because it never has a chance to fade out of my head or for the plot to get confused or forgotten from leaving it a little too long between writing sessions.

But we still need to keep in mind that writing a book is a challenge that takes many authors an entire year, or many, to accomplish. I’m trying to write 3 books in a month.

Wish me luck!

The Most Iconic YA Characters Make Great Haloween Costumes

I love Halloween, and books, so you know I love it when those two things come together!

My Favorite YA Characters as Costumes

There are some iconic YA characters out there in the world that everyone knows. Even better, YA characters tend to have super simple outfits you can easily copy for a costume!

The Most Iconic YA Characters (Make Great Haloween Costumes!) from Author K.G. Wilkie, on time travel background

 

Some of My Favorite Teen Characters

  • Madeline
  • Katniss Everdeen
  • Alanna
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Frodo
  • Percy Jackson
  • Gregor the Overlander
  • Harry Potter
  • Jace Lightwood


How Easy Would Those be to Make a Costume Out Of?

For Katniss, you’d need a leather jacket and a hair braid. Then there’s characters like Tamora Pierce’s Alanna (If you don’t know who that author or character is, you need to get on it stat. Tamora practically started YA Fantasy as we know it.) who you’d need a full gold suit of armor for.

Okay, I’ll admit these aren’t necessarily easy costumes. But they would all be super cool!

Who are your favorite teen characters? What costume are you wearing this year?

The Best YA Dragon Books

Books about dragons make me happy. I read them almost exclusively as a teen, and I still read them more than I probably should as an adult with other things I am supposed to devote my time to, like doing the laundry and getting work done. But I don’t think I could go a week without a little magic in my life, and I definitely don’t think you should either.

The Best Teen Books About Dragons

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Here There Be Dragons

James A. Owen wrote and illustrated this first book (and all the later books) in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. It has just about everything I could ask from a book, from cool pictures to dragons to unlikely heroes and adventures. The cool thing about this book is that it is the first book in a series, but it really works as a stand alone book all by itself as well. It’s also always fun to have books that play around with mythology and history, and this is also a cool hybrid between a steampunk and a gaslight and more traditionally fantasy. I actually just went through and reread the entire series last month, and I just find new interesting layers to the stories every time I read through it. Plus, the series has 8 books, so you won’t have to leave the characters behind for a good long while.

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Dealing With Dragons

This book is a teensy bit older, but it’s still awesome. The story starts with Cimorene, a princess who does things princesses aren’t supposed to do like learn fencing and baking and other common things that just simply aren’t done by princesses. It all comes to a head when her parents get fed up with her antics and secretly betroth her to a proper prince Cimorene just doesn’t want to marry, so instead she takes some advice from a talking frog and runs away only to discover she’s run into a life full of dragons. I have honestly reread the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series about once a year, and it’s wonderful. It’s funny, it’s adventurous, and it has the right mix of magical creatures and fun personalities to be the perfect read for me.

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Dragon Rider

Cornelia Funke, that same author of the Inkworld books, also wrote one of my favorite books, “Dragon Rider“. An ordinary kid saving the dragons in danger of extinction from an evil force is always a pretty awesome story. Different libraries can’t make up their mind if this counts as a YA or a kid’s book to them, so I know it could potentially feel very embarrassing to check this out, but if it makes you feel better there are full grown adults who check out Winnie the Pooh books so reading this at your age won’t be very strange at all in the grand scheme of “weird things book worms do”!

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The Fire Within

A good friend of mine originally introduced this series, The Last Dragon Chronicles, to me, which in my opinion is always a good sign it’s going to be a good read. And it was! I enjoyed this series a lot. There’s action, magic, and dragons, and with that combination you can’t really go wrong.

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The Reborn King

The Dragon’s Blade is a series that is starting to blow up. This series is based on dragon shifters, which can always be a fun change from more traditional dragon stories. This trilogy is all about kingdoms and dragons facing mortal enemies. Truth be told, it reminds me of a YA version of Game of Thrones.

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Obsidian

This is an Indie series, which you know I love to support. The Dragon Kings is fantasy dragon romance series which is really gritty, which I’ve never really experienced before. If you want to read a series that kind of reinvents dragon stories, read this. The series only gets better from the first book. Plus, it’s an Amazon best seller!

Everyone Loves Dragon Books

I am no exception to the rule. I thought it would be fun to share with you some great new reads. And if you ever want to read about dragons and kingdoms and drama and magic, might I recommend you check out my book P.S. The Dragon Bites?

 

 

Writing on Vacation

Hello, hello, hello! It’s lovely to speak with you from beautiful Hilton Head Island, South Carolina!

wildlife preserve sand dunes beach
I love beaches that save sand dunes for wildlife!

It’s been a lovely trip here. Incidentally, this is the location that inspired the book, “The Water is Wide”.  It’s a little spooky to read the account of Pat’s time teaching the descendants of plantation workers abandoned on the island and growing their own community through the decades here because Pat is from my area. I can far too easily put myself into his shoes in the book. You can read a book blogger’s review here.

Image result for The Water Is Wide (book)

But though it’s a great book, it doesn’t really reflect the area very much anymore. Few people on the island are locals, as Hilton Head has become quite the Summer beach getaway destination filled with more transplants than Southern accents.

I honestly haven’t written a single thing in my manuscript while on vacation. Instead, I wrote like a madwoman on the long drive South, and once I got here I restrained myself to writing only in my personal notebook with bits of poetry and dialogue and other shiny words I like to collect but never publish.

In the end I probably got more work done that way instead of slogging through work when I want to be on the beach or having fun, but I mainly did it that way to just give myself a break. It’s not a bad thing to take time off, and I haven’t really done that since I started working for myself (surprisingly, I’m actually an awful boss to myself) so it was important to me to actually let myself not do anything remotely related to work.

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Aerial Adventure is great fun- and exercise!

I even got a chance to push some of my boundaries and conquer my issue with heights in a treetop obstacle course at the local zipline place. It was much more intense than I’d expected from the advertising, but it was very fun (even despite the sore muscles and bruises!)

treelined road right of ocean view and shore

Thankfully, my retreat here hasn’t led to any direct progress in writing P.S. The Dragon Sleights, but I needed the break to energize and not throw the whole thing out the window after months of working on it.

Now I’m refreshed I’ll be able to get back to work and zip right through it.

I hope you are enjoying your Summer reading and, if you have one, your vacation!

Happy Fourth of July!

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Today is known in the USA as Independence Day. It’s the day we celebrate signing the Declaration of Independence and formally becoming a distinct country and severing ties with England.

Today there’ll be a lot of fireworks, and I’ll go to one of the viewing events with my family. We’ll have a cookout with various meats stacked on potato rolls- sweet and sour vinegary pulled chicken straight out of the smoker, sweet barbeque pulled pork, and burger patties with all the fixings and probably ten different types of mustard knowing my family’s obsession with the condiment. We’ll buy most of these meats from the smoke cooking machine selling his goods at the farmer’s market, except for the burgers which will be put on the grill in the back yard and probably slightly burned in the process.

There will be coleslaw and potato salad, or maybe egg salad instead, and heaps of romaine lettuce with a few cherry tomatoes that will pass for a salad I won’t be eating, and either poundcake heaped with fruits and whipped topping or a trifle of layers of whipped topping and strawberries and blueberries.

We’ll end the day by joining friends at one of the fireworks viewings and buying cotton candy which normally sells for a buck but will cost six or eight times as much today for the convenience of it. We might even drink a soda or too, which my family normally avoids because they are so sweet none of us really want to finish an entire can. Then it’ll be totally dark and we’ll play with glowsticks. Or maybe we’ll skip going out and just hang out with our neighbors, putting up the smaller fireworks that only shoot up a few feet in the air unless someone bought illegal full size fireworks, and enjoy a nice time relaxing and chatting with people we like but don’t end up seeing too often because we are all too busy.

It won’t be the stuff of stories, but it will be a nice chill day either way and I am sure I will enjoy it.

Researching Royals for the Shadeworld Series

 

Sometimes when writing about dragons and magic and awesomeness like that, you have to research real life facts and stuff. It’s a strange world novelists live in.

 

Researching Royalty

For those of you reading the Shadeworld series (P.S. The Dragon Bites, The Dragon Fights, The Dragon Sleights) you’ll know that royalty plays a major part in the plot line. There’s revolution and amnesia and an Earth High School and a bunch of teenagers, but at the center of it all there’s Prince Aeron, Prince Richard, and King Vovin, the royals who rule over the entire Shadeworld, and every creature from harpy to fey to vampire that lives there. But, on account of how I’m an American, I’m not super up to date on royalty and all of that sort of thing.

So while in earlier books I researched fighting and battle tactics, for P.S. The Dragon Sleights I set myself to research up on royalty. And because of a certain famous royal wedding, I decided to do a bit of research on how royalty works in Britain.

So I want to take you along on a bit of the research rabbit hole now and share some of the things I used to learn about the royals.

a rhinestone crown with fleur de lis with pearl details on white bright backgroud

Research is a Great Excuse to Watch T.V.

It’s true, research is a great excuse to watch t.v. What I like to do since I work at home now is to turn my lunch break into a nice time to enjoy my food while watching an episode of something fun on Netflix. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying:

Grace of Monaco

This film is no longer available on streaming Netflix in the USA and you’d have to either do the dvd rental service or check it out on Prime now if you want to watch it. The story was an interesting telling of a true series of events where a Hollywood starlet became a princess and was really quite miserable in it. Interesting events, and of course as an American I love any sort of underdog story. The ending of it cut things off a little abruptly, but I guess it makes sense you can’t boil someone’s entire life into a single movie, so I wasn’t too upset by that.

The Crown

I’ve quite enjoyed this series. I knew very little about the queen’s reign (we learned other things in History classes in my American schools, like The Trail of Tears, the Civilization of Mali, Ancient China, World War II, those sorts of things that had a bit more impact on my hemisphere, though I’m sure the queen is perfectly lovely)  so every episode has been a surprise to me.

I’m sure it’s not completely accurate, it would be almost impossible to capture the nuances of family life and personal relationships just from years of media coverage those outside of the royal family would have access to, but even keeping in mind to take events with a grain of salt I’ve enjoyed the series purely for its entertainment value.

I can’t help but think though that the casting director made some very odd choices for the characters outside of the main cast. The actress for Jackie Kennedy, in particular, was a very unique choice in both voice and appearance in my mind. But the main characters are very well done, so I probably should be more appreciative to just have that!

Prince Philip: The Plot to Make a King

I enjoyed this a great deal. It felt rather documentary-ish, so I’m hoping it’s somewhat historically accurate. Even if it isn’t though I enjoyed it, and that’s what matters.

Final Thoughts on Televised Research

I’m sure none of what I’ve been watching is high quality educational content. But it was fun to watch, and it got me the gist of the ideas, so I figure it works well enough. Learning doesn’t have to be stuffy, I thoroughly believe that is true, so I had fun with my inspiration.

And besides, I’m writing Fantasy, not a research paper. If some of the facts are skewed, it really doesn’t matter at all.

Or, it may be that my “research” is just a poor excuse I’ve made to myself to goof off on occasion. And why not? If you work longer hours, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a slightly longer lunch.

What do you do for work that’s really just for fun?

 

 

 

 

 

Gone Fishing

This weekend I went fishing for the first time.

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Arriving at the dock at 7 A.M.

We set out at 4 AM to get to the dock by 7 AM (which is still very early). I live in Virginia, and the dock was in Maryland, so it was a bit of a trip, but not too awful. The dock itself was lovely, because it was pretty far out of the way of D.C. where I’m based.

The fishing boat we went on with a family friend was one of the smallest at this dock, but I know most of the docks at home wouldn’t have been able to fit it just because there’s a lot of people wanting very convenient dock spaces so they are much smaller near the capitol.

photo of K.G. Wilkie, on a fishing boat, on the Potomac River

Just riding the boat out to the end of Potomac River was quite fun! I always love a good boat ride. I especially loved hanging a little off the side so I could feel the wind whipping at my face and the waves slapping my hands like a high five.

K.G.Wilkie fishing, catfish

I caught several fish, we all did. We were getting fish almost continuously after we got to our destination on the water. The fun thing was that I personally caught the two biggest fish on the trip, a 26 inch catfish and a 24 inch catfish. Unfortunately we threw them both back out, because I love catfish but the rest of the group dislikes it and I couldn’t finish off that much fish all by myself. After the catfish was on board it started to moo at me, which was oddly scary in a way the other fish weren’t, so in the end I was happy to toss it back out.

No need to worry though, we caught plenty of rockfish and a perch (all of the legally required lengths) as well as many fish that were too small and had to be tossed back. Don’t worry about the rockfish though, we were several hours out from D.C. and all of the fish we caught were healthy normal fish and lacked the sores that are becoming a problem in D.C. caught rockfish.

feet in navy blue boat shoes on deck of fishing boat with view of river

Then after a long day of really struggling to reel in the strong fish that fought valiantly against reeling, I was happy to spend the return trip by boat just enjoying the view. And the view included a cooler full of many dinners worth of fish as well as the almost endless view of blue, so it was truly wonderful.

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The sky was lovely as well at the end of a long day.

The only thing that wasn’t lovely was myself covered in bits of fish scales and fish slime and other unmentionable ickiness.

So we hosed ourselves off at the marina and changed clothes before heading home to enjoy a nice grilled rockfish.

Thankfully just taking a day off like this- I normally skip taking weekends off even because I’m a workaholic- was able to supercharge my mental juices and helped me complete an additional two chapters in P.S. The Dragon Sleights and get some good revising and editing done as well!