Finishing Up, with Spells and Chocolate and a Question


The year as a whole may not end until December 31st, but my kids’ last day of school is tomorrow…so as every work-from-home parent can guess, this has been my very last week of real writing before the holidays begin. And huzzah – I just finished the first draft of Spellswept!

Spellswept is a prequel to Snowspelled, telling Amy and Jonathan’s story, and I originally intended it to be just a short novelette (maaaybe 12,000 words at most?) because I didn’t want to put too much time into writing a just-for-fun project like this one, but…well…the problem is, I really, really like these characters! So I got wrapped up in their story, absorbed and curious, aaand…in other words, it’s turned out to be a novella after all. Oops! Obviously, this means that I spent more time than planned in the writing, which wasn’t sensible for my schedule, but I hope that it will be good news for readers. :)

Sometime in January, we’ll be announcing the anthology where Spellswept will first be published (in spring 2018), and of course I’ll let you guys know the very moment that that announcement happens. (I’ll also be publishing it later as an ebook on its own, but the anthology is full of SO many amazing other writers, you’ll really want to grab the whole thing!)

Finishing that draft feels like a really happy way to wrap up the working year. The line edits for The Girl with the Dragon Heart just arrived from my publisher, and I’ll be working on them today and tomorrow – but in terms of fresh writing, I’m definitely now done. So I’m going to go ahead and post my yearly writing roundup (for my own accountability) here today instead of waiting until the 31st the way I usually do.

And here it is! In 2017 I wrote:

  • The last 16,000 words of Snowspelled (which was published in September);
  • The first 10,000 words of a possible next MG novel;
  • The first 5,000 words of another MG novel that’s just waiting its turn;
  • My 4400-word Kat tie-in story Forbidden Magic (telling the story of Kat’s parents, and available now as an ebook);
  • My 1382-word Dragon with a Chocolate Heart tie-in story The Dragon with an Unbearable Family (a prequel from Aventurine’s older sister’s PoV, free to read online);
  • My 3100-word Dragon with a Chocolate Heart tie-in story Girl in Boots (a story starring Silke and set between Books 1 and 2; I sent it out to my newsletter subscribers earlier this week and will probably put it out as an ebook in 2018);
  • My 3500-word Masks and Shadows tie-in story Shadow Duet (a sequel starring Carlo and Charlotte, published as an ebook);
  • Spellswept, my 17,500-word Snowspelled-prequel novella, to be published in 2018;
  • The first 3,000 words of Thornbound (the sequel to Snowspelled, to be published in 2018);
  • 40,000+ new words on The Girl with the Dragon Heart in the midst of a major, ground-up rewrite that stretched me far past what I’d thought I was capable of and resulted in SUCH a better book. (Thank goodness for wonderful editors who push us to do better than we think we can!) Only 20,000+ of those words ended up in the final draft, because I had to write 20,000 new words just to figure out that I’d gone in the wrong direction [argh!] and then I deleted them and started over again – but in my year-end roundup, I am ABSOLUTELY claiming those deleted words, because I worked far too hard on them to pretend they didn’t happen! ;)

    The Girl with the Dragon Heart is Silke’s book. In some ways it’s the most personal book I’ve written (as my editor pointed out, I put a LOT of myself into Silke!); it was definitely the hardest and most vulnerable book I’ve ever written – and I cannot wait to share it with you guys in 2018. I hope you’ll love it too!

So! This has been a year when I constantly agonized that I wasn’t getting enough work done, wasn’t accomplishing enough at any point…but I’m really happy with the writing that I did do. It might not be as much as I’d have liked, but every story I’ve written has had my whole heart in it. And it truly helps me to see the tally set out here! So thanks, guys, for bearing with me every year as I use this space for my own accountability.

I’d love to hear, too, about what you’re happiest to have gotten done this year, whether it was a professional or a personal accomplishment and whether it felt large or small. (On my own personal end: this year, I learned how to confidently poach eggs and I conducted a Great Chocolate Chip Cookie experiment, testing out a whole bunch of different recipes until I settled on my favorite – as well as finding my husband’s new favorite (vegan) chocolate chip cookie recipe – and it now feels easy to make both of those. As someone who’s never been a confident cook, those both truly do feel like major accomplishments to me! I’m also really glad that I got out with my kids for our once-a-year ballet trip despite total exhaustion and organized some really nice holidays for them this year.)

2017 has been a really hard year for an awful lot of people, and I know that a lot of us have really struggled with finding ways to be creative and productive while absorbing and reacting to all the frightening/enraging/horrifying news of the world. It can feel utterly overwhelming. But I hope you guys can each take a few minutes to think about what you did manage to accomplish this year, and be proud of it. It matters.

And so do you.


  1. That is actually a *ton* of writing! You accomplished quite a lot! I do think writing it out is so helpful.

    Maybe I shouldn’t count it quite yet, but I set myself a ridiculous knitting goal (of a hat for most members of my extended family for Christmas) (and I started in September, why do i do this to myself) and I cast on the last one last night. :)

    • Oh, that is a fantastic achievement! (A) I’m sure you WILL have it done on time, and (B) even if you’d only knitted hats for all but that one member of your extended memory, it would ALREADY be a huge achievement!

      (Also, I seem to remember you publishing two novellas this year…. :) )

      And thank you! I’d done SO much angsting over the year about the fact that my overall word count of “fresh” words was lower than many years, but seeing the list made me feel a lot happier about what I did accomplish after all.

      • Perhaps there was some writing in there too! ;)

        I loved that you counted the fresh words in addition to finished projects! It’s made me reassess that I had a few written-but-not-finished projects too, and I should count them as well. I borrowed the idea of a ‘done’ list instead of a ‘to-do’ list from you and it’s been very helpful this year. :)

      • Done lists have been SO crucial for maintaining my emotional balance! :)

  2. What I’m proudest of professionally: having a short story accepted and published by an online magazine. What I’m proudest of personally: finally learning (in my 30s!) how to ride a bicycle.

    Have a wonderful holiday season, Stephanie!

  3. Congratulations! Happily, I have a lot of your books to read (having only read Snowspelled so far), but I already look forward to what you’ll publish in the future! (Spellswept in particular).

    My achievement this year was writing writing and then re-writing the longest and most complex story I’ve worked on so far. It falls somehwere between 7 and 10 thousand words, which isn’t much in objective terms, but I’d never worked on this big a story before. Finishing the second draft gave me a huge sense of accomplishment and I learned so much writing it. I hope I can re-write it once again and then start submitting it in 2018.

    • Oh, that is a wonderful achievement! And second drafts are so crucial. It’s the best feeling when you feel yourself growing as a writer through your rewrites.

      And thank you so much! I really hope you’ll enjoy Spellswept. :)

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