Visions of Zarua || Review, Book Birthday, and Giveaway

Visions of Zarua


Visions ISBN 978-1518802393 Visions of Zarua cover

Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past?

An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?

Buy the book HERE (It’s 99p for a limited time to celebrate its birthday, so be quick!)

Click HERE for a chance to win 3 paperback copies of the book!


Although this book started out slowly, it soon swept me into the world of Paltria, immersing me in a mysterious magical world full of threats and dangers. It almost felt like a mystery at some points – dropping clues and trying to solve what was going on. I loved the mashup between genres, and think that Suzanne Rogerson handled it really well – weaving clues with magic in a clever way, and being able to keep the book feeling like both an epic fantasy and a mystery novel and the same time. It kept me guessing and on my toes, and, once it got going, was an exciting read. I also liked how action was interwoven with slower-moving scenes as the story switched from viewpoint to viewpoint – daring rebels and fighting in one, and a slower-paced hunt for a target in the other.

“Varnia wanted to lost herself in the magic of their song, but the excited chatter in the room picked up a notch and drowned out her peace.”

The book is split into two parts – one a third person POV, the other a first person POV occurring a few hundred years before the main events of the book. At first, I struggled to see what the two stories had to do with each other, but then they crashed into one another with a sudden sweep of coming together, pulling all of the threads they had been individually weaving together into one big story. It was a little bit like when you find the perfect piece for a puzzle, and it sets off a chain of other pieces slotting in, with everything suddenly finding the place it belongs in. It was cleverly crafted – the way it managed to feel so separate at first, and then all link neatly together, before continuing to link as it moved along.

“The scene looked to peaceful, contrasting with the turmoil her attuned senses felt building in the air. Dread fluttered in her chest.”

In its most basic form, this is a good vs. evil story.  There are wizards and magicians scattered around – it wasn’t completely clear exactly how magic was passed on/appeared, but it seemed that, for at least one person, it was passed on from her mother – a powerful witch. Some wizards answered to the king, serving as royal wizards and working in specific areas, and others served as apprentices or got along quietly on their own.

It was also possible for some wizards to lock away the magic others possessed, stopping them from using or even knowing of their power. As for the wielders of good magic – they seemed to be able to do a lot of things, and most of the power involved came from within the caster of the magic, but the bad focused around sacrifice. Using dark magic, the evil wizards were capable of summoning and controlling ‘Nagra’ – big, scary beasts that were hard to kill, and very good at hunting people down. Overall, the magic was woven nicely into the story – no info-dumps of world-building here!

“The dawn light was just colouring the sky when the gate-guards pushed the heavy oak doors open, offering us a tantalising view inside the citadel.”

Finally, can we take a moment to talk about the cover? I really like it! It’s beautiful, but also very mysterious, with the hooded figure and the obscuring fog all around. They say not to judge a book by the cover, but I’ll admit that I (at least partially) do, and I love it when a cover is; A) beautiful, and; B) reflects the book to some extent. For me, the cover of this book ticks both those boxes, and I really, really like it!

“It was fully dark by the time we were done, and the moon was just a sliver in the clear night sky.”

Pros:

  • interesting magic system, featuring a darker ‘sect’ of magic, and a hierarchy of wizards
  • strong friendships
  • a sweet adoptive relationship
  • determined rebels

Cons:

  • slightly slow start (that then speeds into action)
  • um… I can’t think of anything else? That’s good, I guess!

Remember, it’s on sale right now, so get your hands on a copy and immerse yourself in this fantastic magical mystery!


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About the Author…

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

You can find Suzanne’s website here, and also find her on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and Goodreads.


 

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Is Said Dead? || Guest Post

Have you ever been told that ‘said is dead’, or that dialogue tags are clunky and outdated? Well, read on for Jessie Bingham’s opinion on the matter!

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SHOULD YOU USE SAID IN DIALOGUE?

Said is dead.

Did your English teacher or writing instructor ever tell you that? There are a thousand and one articles out there calling for said’s swift demise but there are also many fighting against its unjust condemnation. What is the big deal anyway and should you be using said in your writing?


THE CASE AGAINST SAID

I remember my teacher once telling me never to use said when writing dialogue because it is tedious and boring. If you read the example beneath, you will understand her point.

We both know Maia doesn’t have it,” she said, “And we’re running out of time.”

Yes,” he said.”I have a plan. It’s not great, but it’s a start.”

She nodded seriously.

Not great is better than not at all,” she said.

He smiled.

It’s you, you know,” he said.

What is?”

You’re trying to work out what it is that has changed but everything seems exactly the same,” he said. “It’s not the house Nina, it’s you.”

The first time, it’s not a problem but when every dialogue tag is said, it ceases to be invisible and becomes distracting. One of the greatest cases against said is that it is invisible when used sparingly but irksome when peppering your dialogue. That’s why your teachers often tell you not to use it. Here is that passage again, adapted so that each dialogue tag is replaced with a non-said tag.

We both know Maia doesn’t have it,” she stated. “And we’re running out of time.”

Yes,” he replied simply. “I have a plan. It’s not great but it’s a start.”

She nodded seriously.

Not great is better than not at all isn’t it,” she affirmed.

It’s you, you know,” he smiled.

What is?” she queried.

You’re trying to work out what has changed but everything seems exactly the same,” he explained. “It’s not the house that has changed Nina, it’s you.”

The above has improved on variety massively but we have another problem: the dialogue tags are still annoying and distracting. Many younger or new writers hear that said is dead and opt for substituting every usage for something more interesting. Though it is an excellent exercise for broadening your vocabulary, it’s also extremely distracting for the reader. So if you can’t use said and interesting dialogue tags are problematic, what is a writer to do?


A CASE FOR COMPROMISE

Said is alive and healthy. One of the things I love most about the word is that it is invisible so it unobtrusively indicates who is speaking, keeping things straight in the reader’s mind while still remaining in the background. It is a very useful tool that must be used sparingly – as soon as you begin to notice it, you need to think about cutting it.

But more interesting dialogue tags (whispered, screamed, cried, wailed, giggled, etc.) should also be used sparingly else they lose their effect and drive the reader to distraction. But if I’m telling you not to use said too much and to use other words sparingly, how on earth are you supposed to indicate who is talking? Well, here is the original version of the passage above.

“We both know Maia doesn’t have it.”

Paxton stared at his feet as she continued.

“And we’re running out of time.”

“Yes.” His resolve flinched once more and he clenched his teeth, refusing to lie but despising himself for not telling the whole truth. “I have a plan. It’s not great but it’s a start.”

She nodded seriously.

“Not great is better than not at all, isn’t it?”

He smiled, despite himself.

“It’s you you know.”

She leant on the frame of the half-open door, eyes bleary.

“What is?”

“You’re trying to work out what has changed but everything seems exactly the same.” He said. “It’s not the house that has changed Nina, it’s you.”

Granted, this is not the best example but can you see the difference? Dialogue tags work and said works too, but in moderation. Rather than convey what a character is feeling through a tag, you can insert character actions into the dialogue, have them interact with one another and with the setting in order to imply attitude and tone.


WP_20180510_17_43_26_Pro[130]1About the Author

Jessie Bingham grew up in a house full of books and it has never occurred to her not to write. Her education came from reading novels tucked inside her textbooks and scribbling notes in the back of her jotter when she should have been paying more attention to French infinitives and quadratic equations. You can find her at jessiebingham.com

 

NaNo Update – 30,000 Words + You Should Write More

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I was going to do an update every 10,000 words… but 20,000 kind of disappeared into the void and now I’m at 30,000. So… yeah. This is my 30,000 word update, and I have no idea what my word count will be next Saturday. It could be anything…!

Read on for an update on my progress, and this week’s advice on making your NaNoWriMo experience the best it can possibly be…

Find my 10,000 word update HERE.


Day 5 (Monday)

Words written – 1,760

Total – 13, 598


Day 6 (Tuesday)

Words written – 3,464

Total – 17,062


Day 7 (Wednesday)

Words written – 3,157

Total – 20, 219


Day 8 (Thursday)

Words written – 6, 359

Total – 26, 578


Day 9 (Friday)

Words written – 2, 248

Total – 28, 826


Day 10 (Saturday)

Words written – 1,558 (so far)

Total – 30, 384


I went away for the night on day 8, and, whilst I was away, wrote like mad. I wrote more than 6,000 words, and finished the first draft of my second novel!

It now stands at 52, 041 words – half of which were written during NaNo! I’ll admit, it was kind of emotional to finish it, as I fulfilled a lot of personal goals whilst writing it, and I’m so excited to edit it! (and slightly terrified, too).

You can find more about the aforementioned novel HERE.


Now, into the next part of this post.

I’d like to give you some writing advice for this month – write more! Now, I’m not being condescending by saying ‘you should write more’ – promise! What I mean is that – although NaNoWriMo officially suggests that you should write 1,667 words a day, I say that you should aim for more than that. 2,000 is probably a good amount of words to write daily, for optimum NaNo enjoyment.

Why? Well, consider this scenario. You’ve written 1,667 words every day of NaNo so far, you’re perfectly on track, and you’re happy with your progress. Then, suddenly, for whatever reason – your laptop breaks, you can’t write because of other arrangements – anything – you miss a day or two. Now, you’re about 3,000 words behind, and that’s a real pain. Now you’ve got to write a ton extra to get back on track, and, chances are it’s going to feel a lot more stressy, and be much less enjoyable.

In contrast, think about this – every day, you aim to write 2,000 words. In this case, you may still miss a day or two, but that’s ok – because you’re hitting above the minimum word goal every other day. This method lets you have a little bit of wiggle room, and allows you to be able to just pick up where you left off and keep going without dipping below your word count. In a challenge such as NaNo, where word count is… well, everything, staying above the word count is key. I’ve follow this latter strategy as best I can – aiming to write above the minimum goal, so that if I miss a day or two, it’s not the end of the world. And crazily enough, I’ve wound up 8 days ahead of schedule, so I’d say it’s working!

Dropping behind with your word count isn’t the end of the world, but can be discouraging and feel like a major setback. So avoid that discouragement – write more!


What’s your strategy for staying on track during NaNo? Let’s chat!

Check out my currently-running giveaway HERE – enter NOW, before it’s too late!

Character Interview – Amara Clark

Today, I’m joined by Amara Clark for an interview. She stars in an exciting soon-to-be released book by Mya Gray, and she talked with me about her fears, favourites, food preferences, and much more. Thank you for answering my questions, Amara!


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Amara Clark is haunted. When her childhood friend, Asher, vanished during a seemingly ordinary game of hide and seek, she was left bewildered and alone.

Now, eight years later, memories of Asher are coming back to haunt her and she struggles to decipher the meaning of his disappearance. In a terrifying sequence of events, she comes to the deadly realization that a simple game of hide and seek can be much more dangerous than one might think.

Before they know it, Amara and her best friend, Rowan, are whisked away on a journey to find Asher and take down the sinister group that is holding him captive. But time is running out, and saving one friend could mean losing another.

Find Hide and Seek on Amazonand Goodreads

Win a signed paperback copy of Hide and Seek


Amara’s Interview

– What is your greatest fear? Probably losing my friends.

– Do you have any bad habits? What are they? Uh, not that I can think of? Besides being late to school, of course.

– Who do you look up to the most? My mom. She’s hard working and cares about me a lot. She’s cheerful and stays positive in everything she does.

– What is your best memory so far? I think it would definitely be hanging out with Rowan after we got back to Silverton. More specifically, the day he got back and met up with me at Little Latte.  OR a recent memory with Asher, but at that time I was still worrying about other things so the memory wasn’t as happy as it could’ve been. I’d say it’s a tie.

– Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Extrovert.

– Do you prefer sweet or salty food? Definitely sweet. But having a mother who owns a coffee shop has probably has biased me.

– What’s your favourite book? I’m not a HUGE reader, like Rowan, but I do like to read sometimes. I guess my favorite book series are Percy Jackson or Harry Potter.

– Which talent would you most like to have? Why? Sometimes I wish I was good at dancing, but I think I’m over that now. Oh, I know! I wish I could be smarter.

– Name three things you consider yourself to be good at, and three things you consider yourself to be bad at. I’m pretty good at drawing, hiking, and baking. And I’m not good at singing, doing math, or acting.

– What do your favourite shoes look like? I love wearing just plain black Converse, or a pair of boots.

– What’s one thing you always have in your pocket? Why? A pen, because I never know when I’ll want to draw something.


798443863a4ef90cb52bb5187ef0b9b8The Author…

Mya Gray is a teenager with a knack for words: when she isn’t penning a story, she can be found reading, taking photos, or blogging. Her dreams range from becoming a well-known author to fostering shelter kittens. Mya is a homeschooled high school student who resides in the Midwest with her parents, three siblings, and cat, Cupcake. Stay up to date with her and her writing on her website, lifefrombehindacamera.com.


Previous post – 1st Blogiversary Giveaway!!!

1st Blogiversary Giveaway!!!

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Today’s the day! It’s giveaway day!

I’m running this giveaway as a celebration of my blogiversary, and to thank all those who support me in my blogging journey. It’s been great fun in this first year, and I really appreciate the support I’ve received. So, I wanted to give back to you guys!

I’m giving away a set of beautiful watercolour bookmarks, a delicious bar of chocolate, and a fun roll of bookish washi tape. To enter, just scroll down to the link below, and follow the instructions.

The giveaway will run from today (7th November) to 12 AM (GMT) on Tuesday (13th November). So enter now, before it’s too late!



CLICK TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY


Good luck!

My #1 Tip for New Bloggers

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I’ve learnt a lot in my first year of blogging, but if I had to give one tip to every new blogger, it would be to post consistently. Choose a blogging schedule, and then stick to it like glue! Of course, this isn’t always possible, but I do see the benefits of a more consistent schedule. When I first started out, I wasn’t always able to post on a regular schedule, so simply focused on posting whenever I could. That was what worked for me at the time, but I am now able to blog three times a week, and am fully embracing that. Take what you’re able to do and roll with it, making it the best it possibly can be!

I’ve got four tips for scheduling and planning your blog posts – so read on!


Post Regularly

I started focusing on posting three times a week a month or so ago, and my engagement has soared since then. It really is worth the effort, and will make your blogging so much more fulfilling. Whether you post once a week, once a month, or once a day, figure out what you are able to do, and then do it. You’ll get into the habit of posting according to your schedule, readers will know when to visit to see your posts, and you’ll be much more productive, both within and outside of your blog.

How to do it? Well, take a look at how much time you have to blog in a week, and figure it out from there. It’s quite a personal thing, but I would say that you should look at everything you do, and figure out the times in which you can blog + how much you can get done in them. You may have to prioritize blogging over some other things, as the time is never going to come to you, but figure out what you’re able to do, and then focus on doing it.

Know What You’re Posting

Now, you may be wondering how to stick to a schedule, and how to know what to post each day. Here’s how I do it: First of all, I have a rough idea of what sort of post I’ll do on which day – Monday is for book reviews, Wednesday writing-related posts, and Saturday either whatever I’d like to do, or a set of posts around a theme (so, a series, I guess). Having this loose guideline helps me to be thinking about my post in advance, and means that if I’m not sure what to write, I have something to go off of.

To figure this out, you should first decide what you want your blog to be about. Mine is themed around books and writing, so I focus on book reviews, snippets of my writing, writing tips and tricks… you get the idea. It’s your blog, so you are free to post about whatever you want – just get a basic idea of it first, so that you can start to…

Plan Ahead

Plan. Ahead. Your posts will not be the best they can be if you rush through them on the day, only having figured out what you want to write about five minutes before you start. I would suggest that, at the beginning of the month, you sit down with a notebook or a piece of paper, and take 20-30 minutes to plan what your posts for that month will be. It’s not set in stone, but it will help so much.

I tend to take two pages of my notebook, and title one ‘Blogging Ideas’. I’ll split the other one into sections, with the date of a posting day on each line, and title it ‘Blog Posts’. Then, I take the time to brainstorm all the things I’d like to post about or could post about that month, and put them all in the ‘Blogging Ideas’ page. It’s like a brain dump for all things blog. Then, I go over to ‘Blog Posts’ and make a plan of what I want to do for the month, taking the most interesting ideas from my brain dump, and creating a rough plan for myself to follow. Then, when I’m ready to write a blog post, it’s simple – I go over to my notebook, select the closest date, and write the post it needs.

Schedule

This is the number one best thing that I have ever done for my blogging – scheduling my posts in advance. It takes all the stress off, and allows your blog to just chug along for itself on posting day. WordPress has pretty decent post-scheduling software, and once you’ve written and scheduled the post, there’s no need to worry about it. At the very least, I aim to write my posts at least a day before I want to post them, but the best thing to do is to pick one day in the week, sit down for a few hours, and get all the posts you want for the next week written. It’s like you’re creating a ‘batch’ of blog posts, all ready to be served up when you need them.

You can then either schedule them all then, or let them rest for a day or two before coming back and editing them, and then scheduling. It just makes you feel much more prepared, and makes it easier to stick to the schedule you’ve decided on.


At the end of the day, what works for you is what’s best for you (and your blog). If your schedule controls you, or takes away your enjoyment of blogging, ditch it, and do what you need to make blogging fun again. If it’s not fun, you’ll lose all your motivation, and it will show through in your posts. So, follow these tips if you can, but more than anything, follow this tip – do whatever is necessary to make blogging fun for you. It’s a very individual thing, so listen to yourself, and do what YOU need to enjoy your blogging experience.


Thank you for reading! What would your #1 tip for bloggers be?

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning || Mermaids and Magic and Princes – Oh My!

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Evie’s life has not been without tragedy. Loosing her mother and then her best friend at a young age pushed her to the limits, but with the help of a close friend, she has pulled out of the bleak world she fell into after Anna died, and encouraged to live in the best way possible. But even that friend doesn’t know her closest secret – her family is a long line of magic users, the sort of people heated by the other inhabitants of their island.

Regardless of her heritage, Evie and her friend (the crown prince, Nik) get into all sorts of trouble, upsetting the other islanders. They totally disapprove of Evie spending time with Nik, thinking she is stuck-up and rising above her station. When Evie meets a girl who is the spitting image of her dead friend, Anna, she doesn’t know what’s going on, but does know that she can’t loose Anna again. But this girl – Annemette – is not quite what she seems, and Evie has no idea what she’s getting herself into by trying to save her…


I’d seen this book around when looking for sea-themed books a few months ago, and found it at the library last week. I was looking forwards to reading it, because I love fairy tales, and all different variations of them. And it didn’t disappoint! I will admit, there were a few less great parts of it, but overall, I really enjoyed reading it, and look forwards to seeing more from this author. I love where Sarah Henning took the story of The Little Mermaid – her imagination flying through the story and considering what made Ursula what she became, and the factors surrounding that.

“Though magic can shape life and death, love is the one thing it cannot control”

The little mermaid action didn’t appear until the end, and for a while, I was trying to figure out what made it a little mermaid retelling. And then I realised – it’s the villain origin story! And it was a good origin story (and by that, I mean that it made me stop disliking the villain). I really like it when that happens, because then I’m able to weigh up the two sides of the story, and it provides a completely new view of a classic tale. It was a similar storyline to the little mermaid – a mermaid comes to land with legs, has only a few days to win love, or she’ll die… but with a darker aspect. More like the original tale than Disney’s ‘fairytale’ version – which I like. I don’t like washed out versions of fairy tales as much, but much prefer originals as they were told hundreds of years ago.

Perhaps fantasties are only meant to come true for a moment.”

The romance aspect was a little annoying. It was very insta-love, and the kind where you just end up sitting and wondering what is going on. Thankfully it wasn’t too overarching – there was the storyline of the mermaid needing to find love, but other than that, it was more a side act than the thing the story revolved around. I think that the needing to find love storyline was necessary, but the other – frankly, unnecessary, and just there for the sake of it. Frankly, the main character’s romantic interest, Iker, was predictable, flat, and boring. I couldn’t see in the slightest what would draw somebody to him. The romantic aspects did add in some conflict, but I’d like to see more interesting ways of adding conflict than unnecessary romance.

my mind already thick with dreams of days on the sea.”

On the other hand, the friendship part of this book was great! Nik and Evie were truly good friends, and trusted and helped each other with everything. It was Nik who helped Evie to enjoy life again after Anna’s death, and the two of them are a great pair. They truly care for each other, and Nik doesn’t look down on Evie for her low status for a moment. They have to fight for their friendship, yes, but it’s valuable enough for Evie to face the disapproval of the villagers, and Nik to stand up to his (slightly snobby) parents. Evie is looked down on by pretty much everyone because of her low status, and the fact that she has continued to spend time with the crown prince after childhood, but she stands strong to continue the friendship. It’s worth a lot to her, and she chooses to fight for it.

She’s the sun and the rest of us are ordinary stars.”

As for the writing, the first bit was kind of draggy, but then it got to a point where I actually couldn’t put it down – everything suddenly sped up and twisted, and I sped through to the end. It’s a reasonably sized book – just under 350 pages, but things didn’t really start to get to the exciting point until maybe about 60% into the book. I did notice that a few bits were a little confusing – I think it was partly to do with Evie’s narrative, as she would realise something, but it wouldn’t really be explained beyond her realisation. It just required a little more focus to figure things out occasionally.

Overall, I did really enjoy reading Sea Witch. It had a few faults, sure, but it also had some really redeeming qualities, and I would say that the good bits were good enough to outweigh the not-so good bits. So if magic, mermaids, and fairytales are your thing, go find a copy of this book!


Do you like origin stories? What’s your favourite fairy tale? Let’s chat!

NaNo Update – 10,000 Words + Apparently I’m a Rebel

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So, it’s day 4 of NaNoWriMo. And honestly, it’s going very well for me so far. I’m motivated, enjoying every bit of it, and rocketing through my story. My survival kit is proving great fun – a square of chocolate every day is turning out to be incredibly motivating, and I’m really enjoying lighting a candle when I sit down to write. It kind of gets me in the right mindset. And seriously, all I want to do is write – ink is pumping through my veins, and my fingers are flying over the keyboard!


Progress Report


Day 1

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Words written – 2,108

Total – 2,108 words

 

 

 


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Day 2

Words written – 2,477

Total – 4, 585 words

 

 

 


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Day 3

Words written – 3,475

Total words – 8,060

 

 

 


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Day 4

Words writen – 2,329

Total – 10,389 words (currently)

 

 



So, I was originally planning to start a completely new novel, but I didn’t really want to. I wasn’t sure if the idea would actually work, and I really wanted to finish the novel I started back in the summer (which was sitting at 25,000 words and screaming to be finished). So, I decided to throw away conventional NaNo practice, and rebel it this month.

A NaNo rebel is somebody who does anything but start work on a completely new novel on the 1st of November. They might edit, write short stories, re-write a current project, or finish up something they’ve wanted to finish for a while.

I’m very glad that I decided to do so. I feel satisfied with how my novel is coming along, and after it is finished, I plan to write five short stories (I have so many ideas for these, I can’t even begin to decide which ones to do), outline a recent novel idea (pirates + fairies = can’t wait!), and write a Christmas story to post in sections on here.

Now, to continue with my story! If you’re partaking in NaNoWriMo, good luck, and don’t stop writing!


Preptober posts – NaNoWriMo Survival Kit and Goals+Outlining

My 1st Blogiversary + Special Announcement

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Happy blogiversary to me! I’m really enjoying having this space to chat to you fellow book lovers.

I love writing posts, reading books to review, snapping photos of beautiful covers, and sharing my passions with the wider world. I find it so exciting to see all the different places I’m reaching from my little corner of the internet. And every time I get a new follower, and see that somebody likes my writing enough to want to keep seeing it, I dance for joy!

As a thank you to all of you who’ve joined me on this journey so far, I’ve got a little giveaway planned – pop in on Wednesday to find out more…

Short Story – Forest of Lights

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When the glowing plants first appeared, he had plucked one and stuffed it inside an empty lantern, using it to light his way in the night. It stayed the size it had been at first, but those that were not picked continued to grow and grow, filling the forest he lived in with luminous balls of light. New ones constantly appeared, and the old ones constantly grew, meaning that as soon as the sun went down, hundreds of the strange balls of light would brighten, making it still appear to be as bright as day.

Whilst they had been small, he had loved them. They reminded him of the Christmases of his childhood. And the small ones weren’t a problem. It was the huge ones – the ones that were slowly taking over his home. He’d experimented with them a little – when cut down, they retained their luminous quality, but stayed the same size. The vines that had previously held them up would die, fading from living brown to shriveled black. And if he cut them up, they would stay as a bright slice of light for a day or two – depending on their size – but then crumble into dust.

If he was honest, they were beautiful. They were like thousands of miniature moons, studding the paths of the forest. But they were confusing every creature around – owls had begun appearing in the day, accompanied by badgers and moles, and small birds were so exhausted that they would fall from the sky in mid-flight. He had been taking small animals into his hut and drawing the curtains, trying to allow them sleep, but being awoken by madly flying birds meant he was forced to rethink that action. It was obvious that something had to be done, or they would die from lack of sleep.

Cutting down the large lights did no good, as they simply stayed where they fell, still lighting up the forest. So, he set out to explore further. Every vine seemed to be an offshoot of a larger one, so he walked from vine to vine, following each one to its source, and following that to its source. On and on he walked, until he began to wonder if he was even still in his forest. It grew dark, and he contemplated sleep for a moment, but instead pulled out his lantern and continued on his way, using the lantern in the infrequent gaps between the luminous plants. He pushed on, tripping over roots and dodging low-growing vines, until he saw a vine that was as thick as he was tall. He had to be near. If he wasn’t, he’d never be able to destroy the vine – it would be too large to cut through.

Suddenly, there it was. A thick vine, pale brown, with a bright light emanating from the inside and showing through cracks in the outer skin. He took a deep breath, and then pulled out his axe, beginning to chop. It saddened him slightly to spoil something so beautiful, but if he didn’t take it down, every creature in the forest would continue to suffer. So would he, for that matter. Putting his pillow over his eyes could only block out so much light. Without sleep, nothing living would be able to survive – it was them or the strange plant. He just hoped that cutting it down at the source would kill the lights, and save him having to seek out and destroy each one.

Dawn was breaking as he began to chop. He worked for as long as he could before resting was necessary, swiftly breaking through to a glowing core that matched the lights studding the forest. His progress was somewhat slow, for the bright inside was so hard that it almost felt like chopping through metal, and he had to stop and sharpen his blade frequently. But still he persevered, his love for the creatures of the forest spurring him onwards. As dusk fell, he made the last swing, severing the vine completely, and fell to the ground, exhausted. The adrenaline that had spurred him on all day had left him drained, and all he could do was lie on the ground and take great gulps of water from a nearby stream. He was so exhausted that he forgot the completed task for a moment, and simply watched the sun disappear.

The sun dropped below the horizon, and the world went dark. There was no moon that night, and the only thing that could be seen were the pinpricks of starlight, many miles above him. He laid and waited for an hour, hoping desperately that no lights would appear. None did. He waited a little longer, praying that his plan had worked, and then pulled out his lantern to head back home. The lantern was dark. He opened it up, and a fine dust fell into his hand – proof that he had succeeded. The lights would plague him no longer. The forest could return to normal.But it did sadden him a little to know that the beauty of them had faded.

An owl flew over his head, shrieking, and he smiled. The beauty of the lights was no more, that was true, but the wildlife of the forest could stay alive. That was why he had set out to destroy the troublesome light – so that the creatures could be happy once more. And who knew – maybe it would grow again, someday, and fill the forest with light once more.

THE END.


I hope you enjoyed this little story! It was inspired by the image at the top of the post – my mind began to fly through reasons for a forest to be filled with lights, and then I started to think about the potential problems that might accompany a plant like that. And so, a story was born…