Tag Archive: 2015

Merry Winter Holiday

From me, to you, I hope you are enjoying the day, whatever you might or might not be celebrating.

anee stokes dragons

95 – Advertisment

Vark’s scales were bristling. Mostly it was from the cold, but he suspected that it was also partly because of the non-stop chatter from the human walking behind him.

“Trust me, up North, they have the most problems. Because most people don’t live up here, when they do have a problem, who’s there to solve it? No one, I tell you, everyone who’s any good at anything is in the big cities, down south, so we’ll get loads of work up here, trust me.”

He hadn’t stopped. Ever since they had become travelling companions, Quinn’s mouth had rarely stopped.

“Have you been up here before?”

“Personally, no. But, I talked to a guy, who’s got a cousin, who knows some people up here. Trust me, I know that they have problems up here, and we’ll be the ones to fix it.”

The settlement was very much smaller than the ones in the south that Vark was used to, and the air was much greyer he thought. North certainly was different.

Quinn was already going ahead into the village, looking left and right as Vark stood back to appreciate the sight and new smells. Heavily in the air was fresh wood, pine in particular, although looking in the distance at the large forest, that’s wasn’t a surprise.

“Ah ha!”

Quinn’s triumphant noise rang through to him, and he trudge up to the man, shifting his axe on his back. In his hand he was holding a poster, torn at the top from where he had removed it from the outside of a building that was probably the tavern.

“Here we go?”

“What is it?”

“An advertisment, want me to read it to you?”

“I could read it just fine if you would stop shaking it,” Vark snagged the edge of the paper with his claw and quickly scanned the document, “Cultist?”

“I told you there would be problems. This is exactly the sort of thing we can use to build our reputation.”

“And solve the problem which is evidentally bothering these people.”

“Well duh, that too. Come on, it says to talk to the town warden. What’s the betting it’s not a warden, but just a person with a badge? I think-” he was still talking as he walked into the tavern, paper flapping in his hand.

Vark took in another breath, catching something…unfamiliar in the air. He turned his muzzle up to the sky, a bird was lazily circling above the forest, and clouds were gently rolling about. Nothing out of the ordinary. He turned back to the door and followed the ever present sound of Quinn’s voice.


94 – Last Hope

Rana reached out one arm, and with Caleb supporting her on one side managed to walk with him out of the tunnel and into the clean air again. Celia rushed forward and took her other arm, but she couldn’t support her weight anymore, and her knees buckled.

Caleb ducked down, and simply picked her up, his armour digging into her side as they walked back around behind the hastily erected barricade, shimmering with magic as well as the logs and dirt banks.

Her chest heaved and every breath was an effort as she was gently lowered to the floor. Her eyes were fluttering, it was hard to keep them open when breathing took this much energy. She could feel the vibrations through the floor and the magic starting to seep through the air.

“What’s happening?”

“Thomas. Broke the. Seal.”


“Stole. My power. Add his. Big mess.” Her hands fluttered apart in a pathetic resemblance of an explosion, before collapsing back against Caleb, his hands coming up to try and support her, warm on her arms.

“You can steal power?”

“Really. Shouldn’t.”

Mortimer was standing above them, his shadow long against the grass, “How bad does this get if he does break this Seal?”

Rana opened her eyes and looked up at him, just letting the desperation and utter despair that she felt rise up to the surface. If magic descended onto this world, raw, unchecked, it would be just like last time, like “Ashfell.”

Mortimer’s face grew grave, and Rana felt the world slip away from her, she couldn’t tell how long for, but when she came back, mages were streaming out from behind the barricade, and it was just her, Caleb, and Celia, standing over them.

“Rana, is there anything you can think of we can do? Anything at all?”

She looked down at the ring on her finger, contemplating the weights against them. A crack came from the mound behind her, and even she could see the spray of earth that shot up into the sky, as a wash of magic told her that the Seal was broken.

With one last sigh, she slid the ring off her finger, “Last hope.”

“Rana? What are you doing?” There was concern, panic almost, in his voice, but she just gave a weak smile, she hoped he could see it.

And then she snapped the ring.


Every ward died with a whisper, the ground stopped shaking, and the earth slumped back into the gap that magic had thrown it from. The magic in the air died back into the afternoon sunlight as a ghastly silence froze everyone in place.

“Rana? Rana!” Caleb pressed his hand against the deathly pale face, limping lolling over his arm, chest barely moving.

December Recovery

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to recover after November. There was probably some minor burning out going on, I did have a lot going on. But now I have dropped some responsibilities, I’ve got two assignments for my Master’s degree handed in, and I’m not pressuring myself into writing extraordinary amounts every day.

Admittedly, today is the first day I’ve written since November, hence why I suspect that there was some minor burnout going on. And there was a tiny bit of neglecting the blog, but as evidenced by these posts, that is over, and I am slowly hacking away at those words. Eidetic isn’t finished, so I am still going to be working on that, but I am not limiting myself to it either. Archmage and Mechanica Awakening are in editing, and I am not making as much progress on them as I should be. I also have a couple of ideas that didn’t make it as my NaNoWriMo novel this year, so I’ll probably have several projects on the go at the same time.

So, in an effort to help with this, I’ve signed up to a 365K club in one of my writing groups. Write 1,000 words every day, or 365,000 over the course of a year. Although since next year is a leap year, we get an extra day. Perhaps this is a bad idea, but I do like goals, and I work better with stuff like this, and 1,000 words a day is very doable for me. Sustainability? Well I’m hoping that it is. Even if I don’t get 1,000K every single day, I hope that I write something each day, even just a bit. Because I have a seeming inability to develop consistent habits, and I do need to write more.

Christmas is fast approaching, and although there’s social stuff going on, I’ve managed to get a week and a half off work between Christmas Eve and 4th Jan. I’m probably going to devote that time to reading, since I have a large to read pile, and haven’t managed to find a lot of time for it recently. Of course, that will be interspersed with other activities, such as gaming and writing and coursework. But you should get an update on my reading for the year before the New Year.


The only other news is that I went to see a midnight (well, half past midnight) screening of Star Wars: the Force Awakens. By the dragons it was a good film. And you should definitely go see it.

So I’m catching up with myself, definitely happier than I was in November, and I’ll be pecking away with all my projects, and I will keep you lovely readers informed about them both in the final weeks of this year and the new one.

The snow was drifting against the window as Karise sat down in the large armchair, arms wrapped around herself, shivering gently. Adrianna lifted up a large fur from the end of the bed, and draped it round her shoulders, tucking the fabric round the shivering princess.

“Do you not normally lit the fire?” Karise was looking over at the empty grate.

“No one who lives in this castle needs it,” Adrianna said, but crouched down by it and started to fill it with wood and small twigs. Soon, there was a small fire going, bathing the room in warm orange tones rather then the chill greys of the outside sky.

Adrianna took the other seat, pleased to see that a hint of colour was coming back into Karise’s cheeks, “You know, it was slightly foolish of you to come here. It would have been very easy for you to get lost and die in the wilderness.”

“I wanted to see you Adri. I need you. The kingdom needs you.”

“Unfortunately, the King does not, and I have no desire to go back to a place that wants me dead.”

“So you’re just going to give up on them?”


Karise looked shocked, and then hurt, curling up small in the fur. “But, that’s my home, my family, my life.”

“And if the King should change his mind and wish for my help, then all he has to do is ask. However, I do not expect it to happen. This is not the first time that other humans have disappointed me, nor the first time that I have given up on them.”

“You’d give up, on me?”

Adrianna sighed, “Oh Karise. In this whole world, you and Vesper are the things that I can never give up. I hate being up here away from you two, but I will get nothing accomplished if I am dead.”

“Come back down with me. I’ll talk with father, and if I can’t make him see reason, we’ll do it anyway.”

“I have no desire to fight two armies at once Karise.”

“Then I’ll stay here, with you. And I’ll tell father that I won’t come home until he changes his mind.”

“That’s called emotional blackmail dear.”

“I don’t care,” the fur fell off her shoulder as she made a gesture with one arm, “He’s wrong, and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do everything I could to protect my kingdom.”

Adrianna looked over at the princess, then smiled, “Do whatever you think is right Karise, that’s all we can ask for in this world.”

“You promise not to give up? Not just yet.”

“I will never give up on you. So as long as you don’t give up on others, I’ll follow you.”


“I mean, you don’t even have anything from them, just a pile of steaming shit from being a half and half?”

Kali placed her hands on the edge of the table, and leaned forward, “All that I have from my parents, my real parents, is their memories. Passed from them to me over years and years of dream speaking, every fight, every battle, every victory, every piece of history, every ounce of culture that ever got passed to them, has been passed to me. In my head, is everything I could want to know about two races that scream how different they are from the rooftops, and yet do exactly the same as each other down on the street. So yeah, I have inherited a giant pile of steaming shit from being what I am, but if you think that’s all I got, then you’re more imbecilic than I thought.”

Warren shifted, wrinkled his nose a few times, and then turned so that he wasn’t looking straight at her any more, “Didn’t think of it like that.”

“Clearly. Now, can you get your wizards on side?”

Warren looked over at her, as she straightened up, folding her wings and arms back, and then nodded, “I’ll take your proposal to them. It’s good, I think I can get them to agree to it.”

“Excellent,” she held out her hand to him and they shook it, Warren wincing slightly at the strength in her hand, then got up and left the room.

Kali flipped her eyes, and out of a pocket, drew a cigarette and a lighter, and within second there was a tiny trail of smoke coming out of her mouth.

“That stressful?” Haines got up from the corner of the room he had been lounging in, lazily walking over to her.

“He’s a pretentious prick.”

“He’s got what you need though.”

“I know, that’s why I didn’t smush him into the ground,” she blew out a long stream of smoke as Haines slipped his hands either side of her hips.

“You got what you got. Maybe soon it’ll be the whole world.”

“I don’t want to have the whole world. I just want to change it.”

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Week 4

Tomorrow (okay, today if you count midnight as the change between days, but I’m more of a measure days by when you sleep kind of girl) is the last day of NaNoWriMo.

How have I done? Not badly. I’ve just hit 73K, which means that it’s only 2,000 more words until 75K. That would be nice to end on. I started this month aiming for 100K, but given the stress and the masters and everything else that has been going on, I’m not going to be too disappointed with 75K

Well, I’m trying to tell myself that. I know that I could have done better, but this month hasn’t been smooth sailing for me. Ups and a lot of downs, illness, exhaustion, balancing acts between trying to do too many things. Hopefully, Decemeber will be less stress.

Also, you know, I haven’t finished the novel. Not by a long shot. So, although I have 75K under my belt, what I am also hoping I now have is some sort of routine, where I can come home and continue to chip away at at this novel until it’s done, although at a slower pace than NaNoWriMo I think.

We’ll call it a win, because that’s what it is. I just need to convince my brain to smile about it, because writing more than you had at the beginning of the month is what NaNo is all about in my opinion, and I’ve certainly done that.


So, for this final instalment, I’ll talk about my actual writing process. My actual decisions when I come to write novels.

Plotter vs Panster? Pantser. All the way. For Eidetic this year I had a word document with names for the important characters, and a timeline of big events. And that’s a lot of planning for me, mainly I did that because I was having trouble with the order that things were meant to go in. I really do prefer just opening up a blank screen and getting on with things. And yes, I have tried to plan in the past. A couple of different methods, it’s just not worked for me. So the ideas brew in my head, and when I’m ready, or they’re ready, I open up at the document and start typing.

Chronological vs out-of-order? You know, I always thought I would be the latter. Indeed, my first NaNoWriMo I did do out of order. However, ever since then, I’ve been chronological. My last four NaNoWiMo’s, including this year’s have all been chronological. I think it allows for development, both of the novel, the characters, and of me as I write, although stuff like that can always be fixed in editing. I think if I ever got stuck on a particular part, I would skip it, write the bit I knew what was happening with, and then come back to fill it in. That hasn’t happened yet, but it’s something I could easily see myself doing.

Character vs Plot? ……bit of both? No, actually, I would say plot. I start with plot and work my characters into plot. However, I am very aware that a good book only works with good characters, so I do make sure that my characters have personality, and traits, and aren’t one dimensional, and they develop as thing go along. But, I do start with the plot, and I tend to know what people are doing before I know how they go about it, or how they react to things.


Morning Lark vs Night Owl? Night Owl, I always prefer staying up late to getting up early, it’s just how I work. Naturally, I go to sleep at 3am and wake up at midday, I’ve tested this. Although, one of the writing groups I’m in shared this very interesting infographic about authors productivity and waking times. Turns out, quite a lot of writers are morning larks.

So basically, it can be summed up, as I will sit down, late at night, on the sofa, on my laptop, something playing in the background (tonight it’s QI), open up the writing software and just start typing. That’s how I write.

I hope that those of you who have been doing NaNoWriMo as well ahave validated or are close to it, and if not, then I am sure that you have more right now that you had at the start of the month!


Also, congratulation to this blog – Five Years Old today! It’s been through some changes, but I think it’s only gotten better, I certainly like it now more than ever ^.^

Her back was pressed to the railings, the setting sun throwing long shadows over the scene. It looked like a god-damn movie.

The police cars were at the edges of the bridge, blocking off anyone else from coming on, as the officer evacuated the people who had already driven on, leaving empty cars all around her.

Her hand was slippery, but she gripped the gun even tighter, eyes flicking back and forth to either end, as she spotted both uniformed officers, and men in suits, the ones that she had been running from all this time, advancing towards her.


There was a megaphone, an officer saying…something. She couldn’t hear the words, even though there were being yelled at her. Probably something about putting the gun down. Hell no, as soon as she let herself get caught, that was it. Game over.

And she still wasn’t sure what the game even was.

She gritted her teeth, gun coming up fractionally, and she saw the ripple of response through the officers, as they took cover behind cards and doors. Shit, she didn’t want to hurt any of these guys, they were just cops, doing their jobs. It was the suits that she was afraid of, wanted to go away. Clearly, if they could get the cops of side, then it was bigger than she had anticipated.

The sun set her hair on fire as it set below the edge of the world, everything in reds and oranges and burning colours, urgency in the very air as this played out. And she could see how it would all end here.

Unless…she flicked her eyes over the edge of the railing. This bridge wasn’t all that high, it probably wouldn’t kill her. She glanced back at that slowly advancing teams.

Damn it.

In two steps, she had turned and was over the fence, air whipping past her, screams from the bridge. Shit, it was higher than she had thought. And it was high tide.

Kelly took in a huge breath, and made sure her heels were pointing at the water. She’d read somewhere that surface tension was often what killed people jumping into water. And then it hit her.

Tumbling, down, the air being squeezed from her lungs, she gripped onto her bag and her gun, even though her instincts said to let go. She kicked, but didn’t know which way, she couldn’t see anything, the water was pressure in her ears, her eyes stung as she opened them and could see only bubbles.

The air was being squeezed from her lungs, she didn’t know why way was up, but at least it was calm down here. No screaming sirens, or men in suits. Maybe it didn’t matter anymore.

There was pressure around her neck, something fierce, but she didn’t quite care anymore.

Until something stomped onto her chest, and she woke up,  hacking up her lungs, screaming from every inch of her body as she spewed water out of her lungs, someone pressing down on her chest.

She slapped the hands away, and rolled onto her side, curling around her lungs as they sucked in air, great bit whooshing gasps.

“You crazy bitch, what the hell were you thinking?”

“Gates?” Kelly rolled back over and looked up at him. “What the-?”

“You’re bloody lucky I decided to follow you when I saw you sprint past. Come on, stand up, you need to keep moving or you’ll die of hypothermia. Seriously, jumping into the Illinois?”

“I didn’t want to shoot the cops.”

Gates looked at her, something between incredulous and exasperation, “Here,” he swung his jacket off and wrapped it around her shoulders, “Come on, I know a place.”

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Week 3

*Large exhale of air*

It could be going better. Also, could be going a lot worse.

I’m on…65.5K so over the last week I’ve written about 16K. So week 1 was 30K, week 2 got 19K and this week got 16K. Slowing down, and although there is often a bit of a last hurrah during week 4, I am not sure if that will happen for me.

I think that unless something drastic happens and I get a huge wave of productivity (which, you know, could happen) I am unlikely to reach my original goal of 100K. I think at this point I’ll set minimum at 75K, and anything over that will be nice. I mean, I should definitely be able to get another 10K over the next week, and there’s a touch over a week left, and at current speed, 15K seems likely for the week, but we’ll just have to see.

What I know is unlikely to happen, is penning ‘The End’ on the novel. I reached the halfway point of the novel, the bit where I write ‘8 years later’ at 64K, so only just. And this means that unless I feel like doubling the word count in the next week (roughly, the two halves are relatively equal in my head, but you never quite know until you get it out onto paper) it’s going to have to continue after November. However, this is probably a good thing, I need to get back into the habit of writing every day, or almost every day, and having a project I want to finish is good for that. I am certainly not going to abandon it after November like I did a previous years (Archmage got picked up eventually, but only during the next year’s NaNo).

Hopefully if I pick away at it during December/January (Christmas is going to be a big interruption, much like Thanksgiving is for my american peers) I’ll get it finished within the next couple of months, although I will be taking it at an easier pace than NaNo. I have things which I have put on hold for this month which will come back on board in December, and I have all my other work as well.

Which brings me onto my writing process portion for this week – writing time.


I am not a marathon writer. I cannot sit down for hours at a time and devote myself to a task, it just isn’t how I work.

Instead, I am a sprinter, or piecemeal worker. Or…some other word I can’t think of right now, it is late in the evening, forgive me. Basically, my attention can only focus on one task for so long, so I do one thing for ten minutes, and then swap tasks, doing a different thing for ten minutes. Then maybe I’ll have a five minute break of checking social media, ro listening to music, and then I’ll go back to the first task for ten minutes.

Yes, it’s a bit pick and mix, but that’s how I work, and this is tried and tested over many years. Occasionally, I can get more than twenty minutes out of my attention span, but hitting that kind of grove is rare for me, and I am far more likely to do ten/fifteen minutes of a thing, go do something else, come back to it, another ten/fifteen minutes, off again.


Sprinting and word wars work wonder for me when trying to boost my word counts. Admittedly, I haven’t been doing many word wars against other people this month, I keep seeming to forget about the OA chatroom, but there is an entire twitter account for NaNoSprints and I love using that to help me write.

Short, sharp bursts. Today I was actually experimenting with one minute sprints. Really hard, really fast typing for a minute, then a minute off, then again, then off. Worked really well, managed to get 500 words in not too much time at all.

However, right now, I am feeling the lure of bed more than the lure of some more sprinting. How is everyone else doing with writing? Got any good projects on the go? Any exciting events? My most exciting event is that I killed my MC’s father, and she kind of orchestrated the whole thing.

“No I am not going to tell you the details of summoning spells. This is an overview to tell you some bits and pieces you might not know. I am not teaching anyone on how to become a Blood Mage,” Francesca gave a steely glare at the person who has asked until they shrunk back down into their seat, and tried to make themselves as small as possible.

“Anyone else have a question that isn’t idiotic?”

There was a pause in the auditorium, and then a couple of tentative hands.

“You,” Francesca jabbed the chalk at a random girl in the audience.

“How might we recognise a summoning taking place? Are there any distinct feature of the magic used or does it just look like a normal ritual?”

“Now that is a good question. Triangles.”

There was a puzzled silence, and frowns around the audience, as Francesca turned to the board and drew some quick shapes, “So in most casting magic, when you want to draw your paradigm, you use circles and squares. Circles are used for continuation, enclosing and energy, and squares for stability. However, blood magic, especially demonic magic, relies on instability, and thus triangles are drawn. Circles are still used for power though.”

There was rustling, as more than a thousand people scrabbled to take notes. Francesca turned, and crossed her arms again, waiting for the next person to put their hand up.


“So, how many triangles are used for a summoning?”

“Again with the details. Details are not your friends here.”

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I have people to kill, lives to ruin, plagues to bring, and worlds to destroy. I am not the Angel of Death. I'm a fiction writer.