Sunday, 15 July 2018

Write200 week five


I can’t remember how I got into my current frame, how I became the girl in the mirror. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t born here. Pretty sure I’m real, not manufactured or conjured from nothing. The queen’s never been specific, but I get the impression I was collateral - kidnapped in revenge for some perceived slight. Probably someone said she wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the world. The queen is petty like that. Vindictive. Vain. 
My earliest memories are all from within the four gilt borders of my frame. Of my life before, I remember nothing. Well, almost nothing: snippets of lullaby come to me sometimes in a language I no longer understand and haven’t heard on the shores of this kingdom; the smell of jasmine makes me want to cry, but I don’t understand why. And yes, I can smell. It’s odd, what I can and can’t do. I can move frame, but I can’t leave the frame all together. I can smell, but I can’t taste, see but can’t touch. My senses feel stunted. Undeveloped. I hear everything and everyone, but only one person can hear my responses. 
And most of the time she acts as though I’m not even there.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Tower of Dawn

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

You should read Tower of Dawn if you are a writer because:

  • Maas is an expert at writing from multiple perspectives. All of her viewpoints are convincing and she's really good at maintaining the pace of the novel even when swapping between characters in very different places. She also keeps readers waiting to discover if her characters will get themselves out of jeopardy. 
  • The world building over the course of this series has been so intricate, complex and enthralling. There are so many layers to her world, and centuries of history for multiple nations, continents and races. 
  • Maas side-characters are just as developed as her main ones. You can imagine many of her supporting cast starring in their own novels. 

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Write200 week four

Gwen could still remember the day she broke the bronze-wood table. 
She’d been seven. Freya only two, all chubby limbs and rosey cheeks. Gwen couldn’t picture her without smiling. She used to run in and out of the table legs; still small enough to go under the table without ducking. To a two-year old - unaware of her lower body on show beneath it - it was the perfect hiding place. But Gwen was a model big sister and dutifully looked at every other potential space in the dining room before ‘giving up’ and sitting on a chair at the table’s edge, waving her legs beneath it. 
“Ow!” A giggle. 
“Hmm,” Gwen replied, swinging her legs again - light enough to brush her sister’s shoulder, but not so much that she’d heard her. 
There was another giggle. 
“That’s strange,” Gwen said to the room. “I can’t find Freya anywhere, but the table is definitely making strange noises.”
A third giggle, stifled by a chubby hand over a mouth. 
“I hope there isn’t a ghost in here.”
“Whoooo!”
Gwen jumped up, so that she was standing on the chair. 
“Whoooo!” 
She stepped from the chair to the tabletop. 
A small voice at the back of her mind told her that she shouldn’t be on there. That Mama would have a fit if she came in and saw her. 
But she was too focused on Freya’s joy to pay it any notice. 

This one isn't finished, so I might extend it at some point. Hopefully you can see where it's going from this brief snapshot. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Clean


I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter ... it's liquid gold.

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom.

She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all ... 

It's a dirty business getting clean ...

Reasons you should read Clean if you're a writer: 
  • Voice. Clean flows beautifully. Lexi's voice was utterly believable, from the language to the tone she used. 
  • Clean is a novel about addiction - and it's utterly addictive to read. The short chapters made it very hard to stop reading, and I was always thinking about this novel when I was away from it.
  • Clean is also a great example of how you don't have to agree with all the decisions a character makes - or even like them all that much - to still root for them and enjoy following their narrative journey. 

Monday, 2 July 2018

Write200 Week three


The bird’s keen eyes watched her. Blue-grey as a storm-shook sky. An awareness far beyond its years. It was as if he looked not at her, but through her, right down into the depths of her soul. She was stripped bare before that gaze, but it didn’t frighten her. Instead, it strengthened. Here, finally, was someone in this kingdom who could see her. Who beheld who she was and didn’t shrink from it, just silently considered. There was no judgement in those eyes, only peace. 
“Hello, clever one,” she said, her voice little more than a breath on the evening tide. 
The bird inclined its head - a permission. 
The feathers her hand brushed against were even softer than she’d expected; not the gentle smooth down of city pigeons, but fluffy, as if it were covered in feathers of fur, more mammal than ave. They were deeper than she expected too. Her whole hand was swallowed by the impossible white softness and still she couldn’t feel the warm flesh beneath. She was reminded of the alpaca blankets her father had traded last winter. These feathers were just as soft. As deep. Her eyes stung at the memory. 
“Why are you here?” she whispered. Why aren’t you devouring me was what she really wanted to know. The bird, as if in answer to her unspoken question, nipped at her shoulder. Do you want me to eat you? She seemed to ask as she drew back, observing again. 
Gwen shook her head. Of course not. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

A Court of Frost and Starlight

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. 

Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated--scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court. {goodreads}

Why you should read ACoFaS as a writer: 
  • The relationship between Feyre and Rhys is intense, enthralling and creates the sort of fan-base enthusiasm that many writers dream of. 
  • The world building is really detailed. We are four books in now, so I suppose that's unsurprising - Maas has had a lot of pages to give readers a detailed insight into her world, but I still think it's worth reading Frost and Starlight for the mythology and world building. 
  • Frost and Starlight shows how you can continue to add to a series and world without it becoming tired or dull. Another writer who does this superbly is Leigh Bardugo. 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Write200: week two

It's been tricky to chose my write200 sample this week. Despite my best intentions, most of my pieces have centred around the same story, but I'm quite enjoying dipping in and out of the world, working out some of its quirks and getting to know the characters without any pressure. I got a copy of John Yorke's Into the Woods for my birthday and I'm going to read that before I fall down the planning rabbit-hole. I think this is my favourite part of writing - the very early stages when an idea is rough and anything is possible. 

Snowflakes brushed against the glass like fingertips; a gentle, barely-audible beat that filled the otherwise silent room. 
Home was never this quiet. Home was always a hive of activity: Papa preparing clothes and fabrics for the market; Mama busy mending, fixing, tinkering with the house - our lives; Freya was a whirlwind of energy, never too tired to play, never too exhausted to make noise. I missed the life that flowed through our house; the happiness contained in those everyday noises. I’d never appreciated them until now. 
Now, the quiet of the palace was suffocating. Small noises roared like klaxons. Not just the snowflakes made a racket: silk slippers across marble floors; the soft breaths of the guards on the door. The palace was loud and silent all at once; full of far more people than had ever stepped foot in our townhouse at one time, but so much emptier. Lonelier. 
Tears splashed onto my newly-bejewelled fingers before I even realised I was crying. 
Great. Now I’d have to arrive at the breakfast feast with puffy eyes and ruined makeup: the princess who wanted to go home. 
I took a deep, shuddering breath and turned away from the window. I ran my fingers under my eyes to wipe away the tears but dipped my head down to avoid the mirror by the door; I had no interest in surveying the damage I’d done. A clay mug wouldn’t fit into a porcelain tea-set just because it was polished. It would be better to appear exactly as I was. No point establishing standards I’d only fail to keep. 

It's rough around the edges, and probably doesn't make sense without all the accompanying backstory contained in my head, but I think the imagery at the end has potential.