What’s My NaNo: Snow in the Valley of Men



For nearly 50 years, it’s been winter on the border of human and fey lands.
After a mysterious plague of dark magic drew the fey into oblivion, humankind has been left to fend for itself on the border between the two worlds as Magic-Touched creatures spill over the unprotected border of the two lands, bringing death and destruction with them.
Living right on the edge of that tumultuous border is Runhild – Runi – Korsdotter, the granddaughter of a famed (and dead) beast-hunter.
When the legendary beast that killed her grandfather, a seemingly immortal bear, returns to Runi’s village and injures a member of her family, Runi begins to question the part that she plays in the rift between the two lands.
In an attempt to kill the bear that has so long plagued her family, Runi will have to venture deep into fey lands and equip the aid of a cursed fey lord.
If Runi is to have any luck killing a monster and clearing her family’s legacy, she will have to stare deep into the heart of magic – and come to terms with her own existence as a half-blood child of a human and fey romance.


I’m breaking some rules for this year’s NaNoWriMo – I’m not writing a new piece.
Snow in the Valley of Men (abbreviated: SitVoM) has been a WIP for…some time now. I believe I started writing this novel a little over a year ago and I’m not going to embarrass myself by telling you how much (….how little….) I have actually put into words-on-paper for this project.

For those who may not be familiar with the term “NaNoWriMo” – it stands for National Novel Writing Month (although not everyone who participates is writing novels). It began in 1999, and is a month-long challenge throughout November that encourages writers of all ages, genres and experience levels to put their pen where their mouth is and just write.
Anyone who calls themselves a writer in any capacity is fully aware of the shameless ways we writers also procrastinate.
Instead of writing, we feed the cat, walk the dog, browse social media, create a Pinterest mood-board, clean the house, watch a show, mow the lawn – literally anything to keep us from doing what we actually enjoy doing. What other hobbiest tries to actually not do their passion?

But with NaNoWriMo – you have to write. The goal is to write 50,000 words in your book between November 1 through November 30, which breaks down to about 1,500 words a day.
It might sound nice and easy – after all, what’s only 1,500 words a day? – but when it comes to reality, its a lot harder than it sounds.
NaNoWriMo participants must write 1,500 words around working a job, caring for their families, celebrating Thanksgiving, prepping for Christmas, spending time with loved ones, traveling for the holidays and everything else that piles up in life.

This means either a lot of late nights, early mornings or simply writing as if possessed by the spirit of Alexander Hamilton in any spare moment you get.

Another rule of NaNoWriMo is to start writing a completely new work – starting entirely from scratch. Some writers start the month off with absolutely no idea of what they will write – they greet November 1 with a blank slate entirely. I could never do that. I’m not into overly-plotting my work, I like to see where it goes on its own. But I do need some idea, some concept and some sort of skeleton outline to follow before launching myself into a work.

In the past, I’ve always started with a novel I had planned and held in mind exclusively for NaNoWriMo. But this year, I’m breaking bending the rules a little bit, and writing 50,000 words in a project I’ve already been writing in.

SitVoM has been, as I stated earlier, a back-burner project for some time now, and it needs to be worked. It needs to be written in. It’s actually very fleshed-out and I have very little gap areas (except this…huge sinkhole in the middle where I’m actually not sure what will happen). But I have the main points, the beginning, the climax, and the ending all figured out. Endings are hard for me, so to have one already worked out and finalized? Y’all oughta be proud.

SitVoM is a norse-style fantasy depicted in a cursed village right on the edge of fey and human lands.
While I use the word “fey”, the mythical creatures I’m using are more likely to be called “Alfar” in the book – which is closer to the norse word for “elf”.
Dökkálfar (“Dark Elves”) and Ljósálfar (“Light Elves”) were actual parts of norse mythology, and I’m trying to incorporate as much mythology into the book as possible, without actually using any norse gods (sorry, no Loki here).

Something I’m excited about, when it comes to writing this novel, is even though the main character, Runhild is an orphan – she’s far from an orphan.
Her parents aren’t a part of her life, but she’s surrounded by aunts and uncles who have completely filled the role of parenting her. She has cousins and is empowered by the memory of her grandfather.
It’s a story about family – an you don’t get a lot of fantasy that depends on family.
Even though I’m playing into the ‘orphan trope’ myself, I’m also defying the orphan trope.

The biggest struggle when it comes to writing this is determining what the heck are they eating – because after 50 years of winter, food options are pretty limited. And food is a big part of my writing.
I always admired Brian Jacques’ ability to really transport you into the world of Redwall through use of food, and I’ve attempted to do the same – writing about what the characters are eating, how it smells, and how it is cooked is such an easy and essential way of really pulling a reader into the world you’ve formed.
I think I’ve explained a way for the SitVoM cast to grow some tubers and root produce – like potatoes, and I’m also using a lot of cuisine pulled from traditional Inuit diets.
So, lots of meat (which I still feel kinda fits into my norse-vibe?).
I’ve yet to find a way to incorporate any solution for ale/mead – so that might be lacking from this norse tale.

For the past few years, completing NaNoWriMo has been…difficult.

Partly because I didn’t know where I wanted to go with a career in writing, and partly because it’s incredibly difficult to juggle a job with writing as well.
While I am going into the 2019 NaNoWriMo a bit more confident in what I want, writing-wise, I’m still working full-time as a reporter, journalist, columnist and photographer for a twice-weekly newspaper. That has not changed from last year.
So I am going to have to really work hard at setting aside the time to write – and if my day job alone wasn’t a lot, I’m also making plans with a friend to start going to the gym together before work in the early, starry mornings.

So I have a lot going on in November (on top of the fact that Thanksgiving is a big holiday for my family)….so here’s to NaNoWriMo – and surviving it!


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? What are you planning to write this year?
Also – feel free to send me a friend request – just comment below and let me know who you are, so I can make sure to accept your request.

5 thoughts on “What’s My NaNo: Snow in the Valley of Men

Add yours


    Girl, I totally feel you. NaNo has MURDERED me over the past couple years. I have exactly 0 expectations of actually finishing it this time but I’m giving myself all of December and January to work on it, too. (Also! We’re both working on old WIPs 🙃)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! I’m really excited to delve into the world of this book – and I plan to try (at least once or twice) to post some updates on my NaNo progress as well as favorite snips from throughout what I’ve written so far – so stay tuned. ;D

      Sometimes the best way to do NaNoWriMo is to do NaNoWriMo unconventionally. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay! I’m thrilled that you’re doing NaNoWriMo and I hope you’ll be able to squeeze in a few posts to keep us updated on how it’s going.

    Your idea sounds AMAZING. HOW FUN!

    I did NaNoWriMo in 2016 and actually hit the goal, but the draft is a pile of crud and I haven’t touched it since then. I’m amazed that people can take the frenzied work of that month and make it into something to be proud of. Good luck to you — I hope you enjoy the month!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a friend who always completes NaNo with these BEAUTIFUL stories that are glossy and not a trash-fire. and im ??? how ???

      my aim for SitVoM this year is just to get some words dOWN. i can redraft it later when I’m not pressed for a word count. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This story sounds amazing! Best of luck in getting something written. Just remember any progress is good!

    I’m cheating this year as well and revising/rewriting a novel. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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