Within the Novel: The Twelfth Kingdom

Or My NaNoWriMo 2020 Recap Post.

[A small note: I began writing this to post DURING NaNo/November, which is when we were supposed to post to link-up with Christine, but due to THINGS I ran out of time to actually post in November and finally got around to posting it now. But better late than never, amiright?]

Well, we’ve just survived that time of year where I ignore my blog and post more random updates on my Facebook page in 30 days than I normally do all year.


Pretty sure I’ve already announced this, but I was back in The Twelfth Kingdom last month. My poor 12DP retelling — which has blossomed into a mammoth political epic when it was originally supposed to be a fairytale princess adoption story. My dee-lightful friend, writing compatriot, and fellow fairy godmother Christine is (as usual) hosting her three part NaNo linkup, and you can read more about that HERE. It’s glorious, procrastinating fun for any writer who is participating (or who isn’t) in NaNoWriMo. (Even though at this point, we’re into the third section, and I’m only on section two. Shhh.)

I actually answered the first part of the tag (the October portion) back in 2018 when I tackled The Twelfth Kingdom that year (click HERE for that post), and now I’m FINALLY returning to answer another portion of the tag. I am NOT planning on waiting another two years before I answer the last part of the tag, for anyone who wanted to know. I hope to have this book DONE before then.

Onto the questionnaire!

1. How’s the writing going overall?

I won’t lie — NaNo was kinda a struggle. It helped that I had to pants most of my scenes, since I really have no idea what these characters are going to be up to next. And I’ve got quite a few characters who really love to argue, so that’s been a lot of fun to write. For some reason, my word count always grows significantly when I write arguments. I don’t know why I love writing arguments so much, but they’ve kinda become my go-to to get over writer’s block. Story-wise, there’s still a lot I haven’t figured out yet — and that’s bad since I’m trying to figure out where the end of this book is.

I was anticipating writing for NaNo this year to be a lot harder than it’s been. On the very first day of NaNo, I busted out 4K and then sat there, stunned and gaping. I don’t normally write 4K a day. I think I’ve written 4K in a single day probably five times in my life… or less. And then on day two, I busted out another 4K. 48 hours and I already had 8K under my belt. For a bit there, I actually considered trying for a double NaNo and hitting 100K.

But since then, things have sobered down. I averaged probably closer to 2K a day (ish) which is pretty normal for me, and hit 50K on day 18! *woot, woot* This wasn’t my fastest NaNo (in 2013 I won in 16 days with my Cinderella retelling), but 50K in 18 days isn’t bad at all. If I do say so myself.

I kept writing after I hit 50K, and managed to get 70K total for the month. And *sigh* of course, the book still isn’t done. So, I’m planning on keeping at it and writing until probably until the end of the year… or next — whatever it takes to COMPLETE this book.

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

THE CHARACTERS. I love these characters so much. While I do rightly adore each and every one of my so-sweet cinnamon roll charries, the people I’ve been writing in TK are REAL and gritty. They’re so not perfect, and it’s been so much fun to explore everyone’s weaknesses and fatal flaws.

I am planning a post or two in the (hopefully) near future to expound on the characters a bit more, so I’ll wait until then to dish up all the words and gushing.

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

I can hear all my characters laughing at me. They know I’m SO NOT in charge of this show, and they think it’s hilarious. I don’t know that I’ve eve had a story get this far away from my original idea before. It’s terrible. You will never meet a more rebellious batch of fictional characters in your life. I certainly haven’t.

My favorite character tends to be whomever I’m currently writing about, but if I had to pick one and stick with it, probably Princess Nattalaris. She’s unladylike and brash and impulsive, and it’s been so fun to keep after her. I really don’t know what she’s going to do next.

4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

Oh, you mean the death, wedding, escape, coronation, and WAR (not necessarily in that order) that I didn’t have ANYWHERE in my original plans? Not to mention all those relationships popping up where I least expected them.

No, not surprised at all. *dies*

5. Have you come across any problem areas?

This is probably going to sound really odd, but I’ve really been struggling writing the relationships in this book. I don’t consider myself a romance writer; I’m not a huge fan of romance in general, but when you’ve got twelve princesses of marriageable age, relationships tend to be a THING. I was not prepared for most of them. While I’m all for these relationships, trying to make the interactions and actual falling in love stuff seem genuine has been difficult. It’s really weird. I’m married, but I still struggle writing romance. *shrugs*

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

Staying on top of a full-blown war without losing my head. I am not a big strategist, nor am I an expert on historical wars (I enjoy learning history, not being tested over it). Thankfully, my husband is both, and he was a true gem with trying to help me figure out what was going on. We had several conversations geared toward my war, and his insight on motivation, battle strategy, and resources was invaluable. I’m so lucky to be married to him. *beams*

7. 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?

This one is really hard to answer. I’ve got twelve princesses who — more or less — each have a little bit of me in them. I think the main princess, Josette, is most like me, but if I had to choose, I wouldn’t want to be the princess who was most like me. Change it up some.

Princess Nattalaris, or Laris as everyone calls her, is my favorite, yes, and she’s what I’d want to be if I could pick who to become. I am not nearly as bold as she is (she did challenge a foreign prince to a duel, after all), but she’s raring with energy and not afraid to speak what’s on her mind. For a princess, she’s coarse, but compassionate.

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

This is the first paragraph I wrote for NaNo, so it’s nowhere near the beginning of the book.

With so much of the palace’s attention focused on the main ballroom and the newly engaged couple, it wasn’t too difficult for three princesses to sneak away. Josette knew their absence would be discovered sooner or later, but at the moment nothing mattered more than getting some answers from [name removed].


And another snippet! (Slightly edited for spoilers.)

Course after course came and went, and Josette fought every one with her left hand. Her right hand itched from the tightly bound cord, and the heat of Tarren’s hand sitting beneath hers was making her palm sweat. I can’t wait to wash my hand. Their tied hands didn’t seem to be bothering Tarren in the least, so of course Josette couldn’t admit to defeat so soon. Her eyes were straying more and more towards her knife, but she restrained herself. If Tarren can last through this meal, then so can I. I will outlast him.

With that in mind, she didn’t touch her water glass. I’ll last longer if I don’t have to seek out a privy to relieve myself.

The doors opened again, and she nearly groaned aloud when she saw servants with another course. Why couldn’t this have been a short luncheon?

None of her sisters were close enough to talk to, not even Bethjasmine. Her throat was feeling parched from consuming food but not drinking, but she still refused to drink. Tarren will not win this.

Tarren abruptly moved his left hand in reaching for his glass of water. When Josette’s hand lurched forward and consequently nearly wrenched her arm out of joint, he stopped to look at her.

“I’m sorry. I forgot we were still tied together.”

Then he looked away to continue his meaningless conversation with Captain Murris.

Fury flared within her. He didn’t forget. If his hand is itching half as much as mine, he couldn’t forget. Her left hand was itching now. Don’t slap him, Josette. Don’t slap him.

The doors opened yet again to usher in the first course of dessert. How many courses of dessert is it polite to sit through? In her efforts to prove to Tarren that her bound right hand wasn’t affecting her in the least, she’d eaten enough with her left hand to render her stomach mightily uncomfortable. I don’t know how much more I can eat. She wanted to stand and stretch and possibly bury her hand in a pile of mud to stop the itching. I wonder if Zel will have an herb to stop the itching. Or is it that she only has an herb to cause itching?

A servant placed a dish of cold sweet cream and berries. Normally, it would have been a favorite dish of hers, but her stomach protested against even one bite. Tarren accepted his dish with a smile.

Her eyes landed on her own glass of water, still full and untouched. Before she’d given herself enough opportunity to think things through and stop herself, she grabbed at the glass with her right hand. Her fingers locked onto the glass just as Tarren yanked his own hand back. Josette provided no resistance. 

Her hand caught the edge of his dessert dish, spilling it even as her water flew towards him.

Tarren leaped to his feet in a satisfying clatter of dishes and howls. Josette didn’t even mind the pain that flashed through her arm as he tried to brush cream and berries off himself with his hand. His efforts were futile, as the berries only ground deeper into his robe.

“Blasted thorns,” he muttered, reaching for the ties on the front of his robe. He had one done and was working on the second when it must have occurred to him he couldn’t pull the robe off himself without first untying their joined hands.

Fury smoldered in his eyes as he turned to Josette.

“I’m sorry,” she said quickly. “I was just thirsty. I forgot we were still tied together.”

9. 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 think we all know any outline I may have had is long gone. XD I DID kill off a character, who obviously shall remain nameless. I knew going into NaNo that this person was going to die, so it wasn’t a huge surprise.

I have officially decided that this is no longer one book. I’m not sure yet if it’ll be two books, three books, or four books. I think I’m kinda waiting to see how the end goes before I decide how I want to break it up. I’d like it to be two books, because that means the end is closer and easier to obtain. XD

One very INTERESTING tidbit about this book and this month was that I had to write while having COVID-19. Yup, my family finally caught it. My husband tested positive and consequently got two weeks for Thanksgiving break. *cheers* We got a pretty mild strain, because neither of our kids ever showed symptoms, and the hubby and I only felt like we had sinus colds. Since I’m asthmatic, we were a little concerned how COVID would affect me, but my breathing didn’t worsen at all. My evil twin, Ken (my alter ego/my deep voice when I have an asthma attack), never showed up, so I was super grateful for that. The fatigue was a thing, though, and that was interesting to work around for NaNo. 😛

BUT I was most upset at COVID stealing my taste buds and smell. FOR THANKSGIVING. Do you know what it’s like to go through a whole Thanksgiving and not be able to taste anything? IT IS AWFUL. I can taste a bit better now, but it’s mostly salty things. Sweet just isn’t there. And I’m mad because chocolate is flavorless and meaningless right now. All I want for Christmas is my taste buds back. I want to enjoy my chocolate for Christmas!

10. 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!

Let’s see… for this NaNo, I mainly wrote between 9:30 and 11:30 at night. Why? Because that’s when my kids were in bed. Since my hubby was still working through his homework for his PhD courses, we would sit together after getting the kids to bed, and he would homework and I would write. It was nicer to work knowing that I wasn’t the only one having to get things done. That being said, it did get a lot harder to write once his semester and all his homework ended at Thanksgiving break!

Sometimes I was able to write during the kids’ afternoon nap, around 2 or 3pm. And that session always includes coffee. My habit is to drink two cups a day, one for each kid. For writing music, I listened to the Ever After soundtrack on REPEAT because it’s THE BEST, and recently I found a really cool Youtube channel that does ambiance music/sounds, and I’ve been stuck on listening to the Star Wars Naboo ambiance. Definitely recommend checking them out if you’re anything like me and can’t write to lyrical music. They’ve also got a boatload of LOTR/Hobbit ambiances, which is insanely epic.


And that’s it, folks! If you’re still here, after reading this mammoth post, have some virtual gingerbread to celebrate!

Consider answering one or more of the following in a comment: 1) Did you participate in NaNo this year? 2) If yes, how did you do? 3) What book were you working on? 4) Those who have had COVID-19, when did your taste buds come back (if they ever left)? 5) WHO’S READY FOR CHRISTMAS?

9 thoughts on “Within the Novel: The Twelfth Kingdom

  1. It’s always SO SO thrilling getting to learn more about this delicious novel! And oh my goodness, girl! The fact that you wrote 70k words with two kids AND catching COVID just– YOU ARE SUPER HUMAN!!! I am in complete and utter AWE! And I know you are going to finish this thing. You’ve made soooo much progress. YOU GOT THIS!!!

    And EEP. THE SNIPPETS. Now I am SO curious why those two had their hands tied together. :O Oh man, that was a RIOT. It definitely sounds like these characters have kept you on your toes!

    Thank you so much for joining in the linkup and sharing all this! Totally cheering you on as you reach the end of this novel! ❤


    1. I don’t know how I did it, honestly. *in Kronk’s voice* By all accounts, it doesn’t make sense. 😛 Probably too much coffee. XD

      The tied hands scene was one of those scenes that popped up on me unexpectedly, and it was just way too much fun. Of course there are REASONS for the tied hands, but ya know. Spoilers. I’ve always wanted to write a scene like that, and this book just provided the perfect opportunity for it. *grins*

      Your support means the world. ❤ I think my biggest fear right now is the story continuing on so long that I have to return to writing another 50K on it next November. WHICH, if I'm completely honest with myself, may yet happen. One of these days I'll actually get to work on something NEW for NaNo. Like a normal person.


  2. I’m glad you only caught a mild strain of COVID And were still able to write through it. That’s really impressive.
    Love the snippets, especially the “Oh, sorry I forgot our hands were tied.” hilarious!


  3. Oh my goodness! I am so sorry you and your family got covid! Awww, you poor thing, I hope your taste buds come back in full real soon!

    You won NaNo!!! YAY! *tosses fireworks and lights confetti… or something like that* XD Wow! You got a lot written despite having two little ones running around. *hands you superwoman cape* You’re awesome!

    I ADORE those snippets!!! *all the heart eyes* Josette may be my favourite princess. 😉

    And yes, please, whenever you have time, I would LOVE a post about your characters! Like I said, I loved reading your posts about the princesses and would love to learn more! ^_^

    Death, wedding, escape, coronation, and WAR!? Tell me more!!! This story keeps sounding more and more epic and amazing! ^_^ If you ever need a beta reader for any of your stories, I’d be more than willing to volunteer! 😀

    I am SOOOO ready for Christmas! This next week we’re going to begin decorating in earnest! We put up the outside lights at the beginning of December while it was still warm, (we live in the South) and are now finally getting ready to deck the halls! ^_^


    1. Thanks for your kind comment! ❤ I'm slowly getting my taste back; I definitely can taste a lot more now than I could last week, so I have high hopes for Christmas. *beams*

      I'm still planning on doing more character posts, but I'm not sure yet when that'll happen because… Christmas busy season. 😛 Hopefully before the New Year… or soon-ish. *crosses fingers* Yes, this was certainly an eventful 70K in the story, but I feel like I can kinda see the end of it all. It's still down a long, dark tunnel, but I have a much better vision for the ending than I did at the beginning of NaNo — and for me that's a HUGE win!

      I LOVE lights outside! I rarely do them just because I don't have the practice and eye for making it all look good, but I'm obsessed with driving around at night to look at them all. ❤ I do sometimes go a bit overboard hanging lights inside, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s great! I hope you’re fully recovered soon! ❤

        Yeah, Christmas time is really busy, (as you can see by how long it took me to reply XD) so as much as I really want to read about your fabulous charries, whenever you have time is great! ^_^ I'm so glad things are getting clearer in your story! I'm cheering you on as you write and will hopefully be able to buy the published book one day! 😀

        We drive around looking at lights too! It used to be a yearly family tradition, until our area kind of stopped doing lights outside. Lights inside are wonderful! We hung some all down our hallway and from our currently unused ceiling fans. 😉

        Merry Christmas Eve-Eve! ;D


  4. This is just an epic monster of a story! I do hope you get to finish it soon! I just so admire that you keep on writing this story even though it has taken forever. Go you! It is really inspiring.
    I just love this post! Every little detail about this story was so cool and interesting, and I am even intrigued by it. And OH MY GOODNESS, I just love those snippets! The second one was so hilarious. Her comeback at the end had me literally laughing. XD
    COVID is evil for taking your sense of smell and taste. I hope you and your family are going well now!


    1. I keep telling myself that I’m still writing it because I want to know how it ends. XD I don’t have a full outline of this book anymore, so pantsing it (or writing by the seat of my pants) has been both dangerous and entertaining. I have some ideas on the end, but I’m really not sure how it all comes together yet.

      So glad you enjoyed the snippet! It’s definitely a favorite scene of mine in the story!

      Liked by 1 person

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