The End of NaNoWriMo 2018

I have called an end to my NaNoWriMo Marathon due to personal injury. Throughout November, I was experiencing pain in my hands and wrists. I thought I could persevere to complete my 50,000-word goal but decided against this. My doctor suspects that I am developing carpal tunnel syndrome and recommended that I rest up. Typing my novel was becoming increasingly painful and so I tried to turn to dictation. 

Dictating isn’t something that comes easily to me, as stories flow better when writing or typing rather than thinking outloud. I thought that this may take some getting used to, so I was set to persevere once more.  I downloaded a speech-to-text app and gave it a go.  The results were nonsense:

Opened the door to the bedchamber. To receive you and the children amazed by this forward that her father’s phone hounds hand held her of the feedback. He is expression Worcester and he turned to look at his first foursome and noted. Father straightforward, pasta midwife is some followed at his heels. E, some juice now, followed into the room, her eyes downcast. Her mother name in a bed, plumped up by pillows with the baby nestled in the crock of her arm. Her breasts were bound with linen drip.  
Her eyes met herFor a moment “well that, “he said “and how far is mother and baby? “”Well met, husband., And so shall be once I have recovered. Her husband are one smile which she did not returnBehind her father, straining her neck to see the newborn.

Blood of the Dragon Queens
So, I decided to place my health before my NaNoWriMo goals before I burned out or injured myself further. It was disappointing, but I am doing the right thing for me. Blood of the Dragon Queens may take longer, but my pace will be more sustainable in the long term.  

In total, I wrote 18,699 words during NaNoWriMo 2018 and I have written 27,000 words in total for the overall Dragon Queens project.  I am happy with my progress and confident that I will finish my first drafts.

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‘Through the Uncrossable Boundary’ by Daniel Ingram-Brown

I thoroughly enjoyed Daniel Ingram-Brown’s conclusion to The Firebird Chronicles. I’ve been a fan of the trilogy since the first instalment was released, and would highly recommend reading the first two books. The Firebird Chronicles is an engaging read for children and adults alike. I’ve have been sent a copy of Through the Uncrossable Boundary ahead of its release on 30th November 2018, and you can pick up your copy through Amazon here.

Through the Uncrossable Boundary begins where The Nemesis Charm leaves off. Scoop and Fletcher must brave new perils as the world as they know it comes to an end. Gigan Ticks roam Fullstop Island and a mysterious sickness affects those closest to the Apprentice Adventurers. Their mission will take them to unchartered territories and cross their paths with new friends and adversaries. The thrill of adventure and daring is palpable, whilst remaining accessible to a wide audience

The empowering message that began in Rise of the Shadow Stealers continues to weave through the final instalment of the trilogy. Scoop and Fletcher have been encouraged to find their own way by the mentors throughout the series, and reach new heights of self-awareness as they continue to forge their own path. These characters have been expertly developed by Daniel Ingram-Brown. Scoop and Fletcher seem to walk between the pages as living beings, inviting the readers into the fantastic world they call home. 

The final chapters were handled with sensitivity and were an emotionally satisfying conclusion, whilst remaining accessible to a young audience. I look forward to Daniel Ingram-Brown’s next work.

Overall, Through the Uncrossable Boundary easily deserves a five stars rating. The trilogy’s premise sets it apart from other children’s books, and Daniel Ingram-Brown has shown skilful mastery of the world and characters he has created.

NaNoWriMo 2018 – Day 9

Morning All,

I seem to have woken up pretty perky, without the aid of caffeine so far… Don’t worry, I’ll get my fix. I’m not insane, or a morning person. Still, I’m up and I’m not miserable about it.

One of my colleagues noticed something about me this week that shocked me; she noticed that I was happy. I’m never at my best in the morning and take a little while to warm up, and I’ve been a little stressed over the last few months.  I thanked her for noticing, and I think that my writing has had a positive impact on my state of mind. It seems that writing has been great for my mental health.

I finally feel that I’m creating these stories that have been swirling around my head since May. I am finally taking concrete steps to help me achieve my life-long ambition of being an author.

Last night, I hit 12,000 words and wrote 2000 words.  I’m really happy when I have days like this, and I’m getting better at being compassionate to myself on days when I don’t.

Anyway, it’s time for me to aim for the skies!

See you soon with another update!

NaNoWriMo – Day 8

Morning All,

Yesterday, I hit my 10,000-word badge and have bumped this up to 10,600 words with another pre-work writing session. I’m behind schedule and I can’t see me hitting today’s target of 13,333 words unless I make some serious headway this afternoon. It’s my regional ‘write-in’ in Derby, but I think I will give it a miss this week because I need some undistracted time alone to bring my word count up and working on my current shift pattern leaves me depleted in the evenings.

Anyway, what I have really come here for is to share a little (100% unedited first draft) of today’s writing. Here is a short sample of what to expect from the Blood of the Dragon Queen series:

The Grand Hall was full and seated when she arrived, Wyndair at her Father’s side at the High Table as the Guest of Honour with her seat beside her husband-to-be. Her mother sat on the other side, too far to talk to throughout the evening without ostentatiously moving away from her betrothed. She sighed, but tried to school her face into a look of serenity as she walked down the moonlit path in centre of the room (the tables having been laid out length ways, allowing her to walk through them), the dress billowing out behind her.
The Master Tutor stood as she approached the head of his table. He stepped before her, between the her and the High table.
Master: “Halt, who goes there?”
E: “It is I, tutor, Erwyn Tytius-sire.”
Master: “I see not Erwyn Tytius-sire, but Erwyn Everspring.” He turned to the silent crowd. “I call on all gathered here this eve to witness that the girl entrusted into my care is now a woman grown. I bestow upon her the name ‘Evenspring’, may it bring her honour.” He held in his hands a necklace set with small sapphires that glistened like ocean spray, a single, larger sapphire in the centre that resembled a droplet of water or a tear. She knelt before her Master Tutor and he fastened the clasp. Erwyn’s heart fluttered and she suppressed the urge to grin widely as she stood. Instead, she opted for the deferred demure smile and deep curtsy. It was her Father’s turn next to speak.
T: “Erwyn Everspring, I bid you welcome at my table. Please, approach.” He raised his hands and began clapping as she approached the high table, and the crowd followed Lord Tytius’ lead.

NaNoWriMo -Day 6

Morning Everyone,

Today brings one very blurry-eyes writer to the table, as I’m not a natural morning person and some of the initial NaNo excitement has faded into “ugh, I want to sleep”. I closed my writing session yesterday evening behind the official NaNo target of 8333, having achieved 7895 words. I don’t see me catching up today, as I will be swinging my sisters to drop off my nephews birthday present after work.

That’s all part of the challenge isn’t it? NaNo starts but life doesn’t stop. You still need to make an effort with family and to remember to take time to enjoy each day with your loved ones. Last night, I knew I was behind word count, but I decided to finish early and enjoy some quality time with my partner on Bonfire Night. We sat by the fire with a glass of port and watched fireworks. It was a beautiful evening and I’ll catch up my word count on other evenings.

If you’re doing NaNo this year, how are you balancing life and this enormous challenge we’re undertaking?

Here a quick snap from me, check out my Insta for more @Faylloumi 🔥🥃

NaNoWriMo 2018 – Day 5

Hello Everyone!

It is the morning of  NaNoWriMo Day Five and it is back to work for me. I’ve had a glorious weekend to catch up on missed words over the first few days. I was hoping to use my Sunday writing time to get ahead of this week’s wordcount but this was not meant to be.  At least I am on target and in a good place to push on as I juggle my work with writing.  I am really looking forward to my birthday, and the week off that I have booked off!

Anyway, my current word count on Blood of the Dragon Queen is 7071. I am on a late shift this week, so I am waking up at my usual time to get in some writing before work. I’ve done a 15-minute sprint so far and will start another in a few minutes.  The sprint timer on the NaNoWriMo website is proving very helpful at encouraging me to just GET DOWN some of the thought swirling and whirling around my head. They also boost my daily word count nicely. Anyway, I’m full of hope and positivity at this stage of NaNo… the soul-crushing doubt kicks in later.

My real reason for blogging today is to share with you all these synopsises that I’ve been working on for the series, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Blood of the Dragon Queen is a series of novelettes that takes us through a brutal rebellion and explores the far-reaching consequences through the descendants of the once-powerful Queen.

Nilsine Fury-fire is a woman haunted by her past and the violent death of her mother. She was raised in isolation and fear. Her uncle had slain any concept she had of familial ties, leaving only a feral husk.

Flo’ellyn Green-bringer is born in tumultuous times as the Humans break off the shackles of Elven rule. She braces herself to endure and seeks solace in her family, who may just be her downfall as she is dragged into her mother’s agony.

Erwyn Everspring only ever wanted to be free to choose her own path and is distraught when her betrothal is announced by her Father. She sets her will against the match and seeks release from a life she has not chosen.

Bryna is raised in obscurity in a land far from her ancestral home. Whispers of an old magic reborn echo across the known realms, even as she tries to remain hidden

NaNoWriMo 2018 – Day 3

I’ve decided to give NaNoWriMo another try and I am focusing on expanding the world from my previous post, Evolving a Story. Today has been a very productive day, with me catching up from previous days where I have not completed 1667 words.  I’ve announced my project with the working title of Blood of the Dragon Queens! I’m super excited about getting stuck into this project and expanding my world-building with new narrative characters.  You can track my progress through the NaNo if you want by clicking here.

Dragon Queens has expanded into a series of short(ish) stories of about 10,000 words each following several generations of Elven women descended from dragon-riding Queens. The story-arc takes us through a brutal rebellion and explores the far-reaching consequences through for the descendants of the once-powerful Queens.

Here is a little extract from what I have been writing today, please bear in mind that this is very much still in rough draft stages:

Baker: “You do have the look of a castle-whelp, in your pretty silk gown and your fancy, plaited hair. But, do you think I’m soft in the head to think that those guards will let me near Lord Tytius on the say-so of a child?” The boy was creeping up behind the baker and she began to turn in his direction, he tensed and froze, expecting to be caught.
E: “Where are you from?” The baker stopped and turned back to Erwyn.
Baker: “I’d say you know damned well with your question about the Merfolk. The Wester Isles.”
E: “What are the Wester Isles like? I’ve never been.” The baker sighed and Erwyn sensed a mysterious sadness coming from the baker, a yearning she didn’t understand. She relaxed, and the boy behind did too.
Baker: “Mother Ocean is never out-of-sight on the Wester Isles, she’s always watching her children. We learn to swim and sail as soon as we can walk.” The baker paused, her mind heavy and clouded. Erwyn tried to pry, to catch a glimpse of the Wester Isles from the baker but she remained closed off. It was a veil coming down and Erwyn couldn’t push it aside.
E: “What happened there? Why are you so sad?” The boy crept away and down a side street, leaving Erwyn alone with the baker. She probed harder, and was rewarded with a glimpse of a fevered child, tossing and turning. She looked down at the babe with the baker’s eyes, filled with sorrow and regret. The child’s skin was scarlet, streaked with ashen grey lines all over its body as if snakes were constricting the child as prey. It squealed, its naked body exposed to the cold wind and a sob wrenched through her body. She placed the child in a basket weaved from reeds and placed the suffering child in.
“Take my child, make him strong again and raise him beneath the waves. Take away the taint of sickness and raise him as your own.”
What we take we cannot give back, came a voice from the ocean.
“So be it, I know the price and pay it so that he may live.
He will have no memory of you that birthed him, nor ever know of his blood-kin on land.
“So be it.” Erwyn was brought back into the marketplace with a jolt, looking at the world with her own eyes once more.
Baker: “Nothing that concerns you, child, now leave in me peace!”

Evolving a Story

It started with my first Skyrim save.

I started playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim blind. The game had been recommended to me by several friends who were sure that I would love it, and they were quickly proven right. I was gripped by the ruthlessness in which I was thrust into this new world; a prisoner being taken to their execution. A dragon interrupted the proceedings and set in motion the most immersive “tutorial” I’ve ever played.

My story, working title Dragon Soul, started as the backstory of my character. My High Elf character, or Altmer as they are known, grew up with her mother and grandmother. They had fled the oppression of the Summerset Isles and practised healing magic in villages and hamlets. My character fell in love with a human and they were happy for a time. Until the influence of an Elven supremacist faction, the Thalmor, grew and they were discovered. My lover was killed under the pretence of heresy, and my family too for harbouring a fugitive. I escaped and was caught up in an ambush near the border.  This took me up to the start of Skyrim and the rest of the story I played out in-game.

Only, my story kept playing round and round in my head. It took on a life of my own and I started to write it down. It soon became its own story, coming free of the world of Skyrim and Tamriel. The mother and grandmother, previously just foils for my characters tragedy, developed lives and pasts of their own. At this point, my story stopped being my Skyrim backstory and started to become Dragon Soul.

I completed my handwritten draft of Dragon Soul, removing the human lover and instead focusing on the family relationships. Their world and story expanded as I wrote, and the ending changed. The story evolved again until the title Dragon Soul became obsolete and seemed derivative of the Dragonborn questline.  By now, I had not one short story but three stories spanning back multiple generations.  Each of my characters developed their own set of powers, strengths and arcs.  The political climate has shifted, away from Skyrim and it’s Thalmor problem.

It started off as a Skyrim story, but it has become so much more than that.

‘Dead Ends’ by Tony Moyle. Book Three in ‘How to Survive the Afterlife’

Dead Ends is the third addition to the How to Survive the Afterlife series by Tony Moyle. Moyle continues to playfully explore the nature of life after death, in a thought-provoking and humorous way. There is plenty to reflect on without Dead Ends ever feeling heavy or overly moralistic. If you haven’t already, read my review on Moyle’s previous work and catch up on the series so far. I’ve been an avid reader of this series since book one, and this volume does not disappoint.
This book reacquaints readers with old favourites and some new characters, tying together the events of the first two books with an excellent conclusion. Dead Ends does not disappoint. Moyle continued to exhibit his characteristic creative flair with the introduction of Neutopia, populated by origami-based keepers who create an afterlife of paper-mache.

Moyle extends on his previous analogy of Hell being a slow and ineffective bureaucracy, extending this into Heaven and into Life. As the endgame approaches, humanity is paralysed by bureaucratic motions and international summits that is both amusing and relatable. The clock is ticking down to the final hour as the characters navigate through the diplomatic obstacles and a war of Godly proportions. Moyle builds suspense by contrasting the epic quest to save humanity with the mundane. This serves as a satirical mirror through which we can observe the world around us.

I highly recommend Dead Ends, giving it five out of five stars.

‘The Fellowship of the Ring: Book One of the Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve been a fan of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) films since I was a child, but I’ve never read the books before.  I thumbed through a copy of The Hobbit, but I didn’t enjoy it. Then Callum brought me a copy of The Silmarillion, the story of the origins of Middle Earth.  So, I’ve decided to read the trilogy for the first time. I did attempt to live-tweet my reactions, but they felt flat when I had limited internet access after moving house.  Besides, I don’t think anyone else would really want to read that!

I’ve finished Fellowship of the Ring now and I’m taking a break before picking up The Two Towers.  I found it an enjoyable read, even if the beginning was rather slow.  It seemed that Gandalf’s purpose in the opening chapters was to expedite exposition and that amounted to a lot of chatter from him. Still, it was interesting observee Frodo’s development as he left the comfort zone of all he knew, without Bilbo and Gandalf to guide him.

The early chapters of the Hobbits’ adventure seemed to consist mostly of ambling into danger and being saved by a well-meaning stranger and settling down with a large, sumptuous supper and a warm bed.  This contrasts with the conditions of the Hobbits’ face later, when the harsh realities of Frodo’s are driven home.  Over time, the Hobbits’ abandon their naivety and begin to see the dangers that lurk around them.

The Fellowship epitomises a sense of comradery in the face of adversity.  Rival races and tribes come to together to cast aside old rivalries to join the common goal of defeating the forces of evil.  On their journey, each character takes turns to shine and be the guiding figure.

I found that I related strongly to Galdriel’s speech when she was offered The Ring by Frodo.  Sometimes, I reflect on the world and the things that I consider wrong.  I suspect that if ever I, or indeed most of us, were offered absolute power that the power would corrupt us, and lead to yet more wrongs, even if our intentions were pure.  After all, there is both darkness and light in all of us, with no one person being truly “good” or “bad”.  My perception of The Lord of the Rings was deeply challenged; I had expected a story of good triumphing over evil and I was reading a tale of greater moral complexity, where the heroes could easily become the villains in a moment of weakness.

“In the place of a Dark Lord you will set up a Queen.  And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night!  Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain!  Dreadful as the Storm and Lightning!  Stronger than the foundations of the earth,  All shall love me and despair!”

The Mirror of Galadriel, The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R.Tolkien

The real emotional rollercoaster came during the scene whereby Gandalf engaged in battle with the Balrog.  Gandalf gallantly challenged the mighty beast that would have been certain to have killed his companions, at great cost to himself.  This was where Gandalf the Waffler became Gandalf the Grey for me, ironic really if you know anything at all about his later development in the Trilogy.  This scene was one of Tolkein’s crowning jewels in The Fellowship, with Gandalf channelling an awesome power rivalling the Balrog’s.  Tolkien showed his mastery in the execution of the emotional highs and lows, the awe and the fear, that he inspired in me. Tears well in my eyes as the Balrog’s whip wrapped around Galdalf and pulled him into the darkness.

The Balrog reached the bridge.  Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white.  His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow it about reached out like two vast wings.  It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked.  Fire came from its nostrils.  But Gandalf stood firm.

“You cannot pass,” he said.  The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell.  “I am the servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor.  You cannot pass.  The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun.  Go back to the shadow! You cannot pass.”

The Bridge of Khazad-Dum, The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R.Tolkien

After years of believing that I wouldn’t enjoy Tolkien’s writing style, even if I enjoyed the story of The Lord of the Rings, I was glad that I approached this book with an open mind.  I was pleasantly surprised and I look forward to reading the next instalment.