Writers procrastinate by writing something else.

A/N: For the last week, I’ve been feeling so uninspired to edit the book I’ve been working on (I’m calling it Draft 1.5 because calling it Draft 2 just seems like a joke at the moment lol) so I thought I’d post an irrelevant scene I’ve written instead of actually editing. Procrastination at its best. This scene has drastically changed since I posted it, and so has the entire book (the setting is different, the time-period it exists in has changed) and I think that’s the beauty of editing–you take your own book in new, unexpected, and exciting directions. So, we’ll see what Draft 2 brings when I get to that. Oh, and I also have some sort of title I think I like for it!

Irrelevant scene I wrote when I struggled with editing

The beginning of summer was a blessing for someone like Tori. The oak tree’s foliage was thick and dense enough to hide at least five of her. Some long dead landscaper must have decided to bring some nature back to the city after the War had reduced most of it to piles of rubble almost a century ago. Tori scoffed at the thought of one solitary oak tree in the centre of a city square serving any purpose. At least it was providing her with cover whilst she watched Central Station from her perch. 

            A criminal like Tori needed quick getaways and safe hideouts and with the crowds thinning as the end-of-work rush hour came to an end, she’d have to be careful not to be seen. For a lesser criminal it might have been a challenge.

            “Less than five minutes.”Tori adjusted her glasses as the voice of her always-omnipotent colleague, Ghost, crackled to life in the comms unit implanted inside her ear. She muttered a confirmation to Ghost even though the train times whizzed across the holographic screen of her glasses. She’d been monitoring them closely for any sudden changes since the morning.

            She gave the station entrance and the square below a quick once-over through the branches while she readied herself to drop to the ground. The glasses’ interface streamed bits and pieces of information across her vision—mostly escape routes and records of the faces it scanned through its in-built facial recognition system. Nothing flagged up as suspicious from any of the databases Ghost kept updated so Tori proceeded to adeptly swing onto lower branches until she made the jump to the cobblestoned ground beneath the shade of the tree.

            Something caught her eye from across the street that gave her pause—a group of men in immaculately pressed suits were jogging straight for the station’s entrance. Tori groaned low in her throat, recognising the men as Peter’s cronies, as she slipped behind the tree on silent feet and used the thick trunk to hide herself from view. 

            “You seeing this, Ghost?” she grumbled into her mic implant.

            “I’m offended for you,” the hacker replied.

            Peter’s crew were Tori’s main competition (as well as a complete pain in the neck). They liked to work in numbers and had a flare for the dramatic—Peter took pride in the crimes he played a part in committing. Tori and Ghost liked to work alone in a far more lowkey capacity.

            Ghost hadn’t plucked Tori from the streets to show off her own skills. They provided a service, they got the work done, they got paid. Working in codenames kept them anonymous and safe and Ghost had given Tori hers—Hermes—and had made sure she’d earned it. Tori was swift and stealthy, quick and clever just like the god of messengers, thieves, and trickery. 

            From hacking into various chatrooms and tapping into private phone calls, Ghost had confirmed that the name ‘Hermes’ had provided Tori with the best cover of all—her rivals and potential employers believed her to be male.

            Not pleased with the appearance of Peter’s crew, she adjusted the mask, which covered her nose and mouth only, over her face and stalked across the street, the help and protection of Ghost’s eyes in every camera in the area watching her back. 

            Tori pulled her black cap lower over her face as she descended the stairs into the station, pulling her phone from her pocket and swiping through the fake social media accounts Ghost had created for her. Her pace slowed as she scrolled—just another young girl more interested in her phone than looking to see where she was walking. Or so it appeared. 

            From below the brim of her cap, Tori clocked Peter’s crew, five in total, spread out along Platform Three trying their best to look inconspicuous. One of them kept nervously touching his ear where his own comms unit was no doubt nestled. 

            At least send the competent ones, Peter. Make my job a little more interesting, Tori thought.

            “Two minutes and three seconds left,” Ghost counted down. “The package is in the third carriage.”

            Tori meandered over to the newsstand and scrolled through the entertainment section on one of the tablets on display whilst continuing to keep an eye on the five well-dressed amateurs.

            Peter’s crew became antsy as an announcement rolled out across the station that the train was now approaching Platform Three. She noticed, with concealed amusement, that they had stationed themselves at each of the five safety doors along the platform. They don’t know which carriage the package is in, she thoughtfeeling triumphant.

            Sauntering closer to the platform’s edge, Tori stationed herself at the third safety door and angled her body just so—she needed to be on the train before Peter’s men.

            The train slid smoothly to a halt. As soon as both the safety and internal train doors opened, Tori barged her way on, not waiting for any passengers to alight first. No way in hell was she going to let her money line someone else’s pocket—she had to get to the package first, undetected.

            The walk-by guy was immediately recognisable to Tori, even without Ghost’s confirmation in her ear. Sweat beaded across his brow and he kept patting his right pocket then running his no doubt sweaty palms along the lapels of his suit jacket.

            As per his instructions, he made his way, casually, off the train with the other passengers, waiting to be intercepted by the hired courier. Tori skirted round him, already looking for an empty seat, and swiped the package—a small USB flash drive—from his right pocket as she passed.

            She shoved both her hands along with the flash drive into her own pockets and slipped into an unoccupied seat. After a few seconds passed, she reached into the inside pocket of her leather jacket, pulling out a compact mirror. Pretending to check and fix her makeup, she angled the mirror to get a better look as the man disembarked from the train completely unaware the infamous Hermes had pickpocketed him. 

            “How’s he looking, Ghost? Got eyes on him?” Tori whispered down the comms unit.

            Making his way to the exit now—no tail.”

            Tori relaxed slightly, but kept her mirror raised as one of Peter’s men came rushing up the carriage, a look of confused frustration on his face.

            Tori clicked the compact shut, put her feet up on the chair in front of her, and started scrolling through her fake social media profiles once more. Her night was far from over, but she slouched in her seat as the train moved off—just another commuter tired after a day’s work.

            Peter’s crew were now gathering in her carriage, sitting themselves in the booth behind hers, arguing in hushed tones.

            “But there’s no way Hermes would have made it off the train in that amount of time!” one of them exclaimed. “I still say he’s definitely an Other.”

            “He’s Hermes,” another offered, “he probably intercepted the package in the station—wider space and more people.” He lowered his voice so Tori had to strain to hear. “And shut up about the Others, will you? There are ears everywhere.”

            It was an effort of will to keep from laughing. Only another Other would panic about speaking of them. Hidden in plain sight, my friend.

            Ghost’s voice crackled to life. “Interesting they know you were hired, don’t you think?”

            I assume you’re already looking into it?”

            “Hacking into Peter’s mainframe as we speak.”

            Tori stood then stretched, making her way to the train’s doors to alight at the next stop. She had to catch a connecting train to reach the drop-off point she’d been instructed to leave the package at. 

            A thought occurred to her then and she clicked her mic back on. “Do you think this is a set up?”

            Ghost was silent for a second before she answered. “We already decided it wasn’t when we took on this job, remember? Plus, I’ve already scouted your route ahead—all clear—and no tails are following behind that I can see.”

            To be safe, Tori added an extra loop to her journey and messaged Tristan, her only accomplice (and friend) she had, to adjust his own plans slightly. She trusted Ghost with her life; she was her eyes and ears everywhere at all times. Still, it was second nature to take in her surroundings, noting anything or anyone as odd or suspicious. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Even her… gifts were quiet, her Other-ness.

            So, only fifteen minutes later, Tori crossed the station, scouting the lockers lining the far wall. It didn’t take her long to locate locker 427 and deposit the flash drive inside. She locked the door and dropped the key into the base of a potted plant beside the little hole-in-the-wall doughnut shop on her way outside.

            The fresh night air washed across her face as she lowered her mask. Another job successfully completed. Rolling her neck to release some tension, Tori was already making plans to stop on her way home at the street vendor, who sold a selection of spicy rice dishes, for dinner, when Ghost’s voice crackled in her ear again, shrill and urgent.

            “City guards, due south. Tori, they’re doing checks.”

            Instantly, she was on the move. Mask pulled back up, she strode for the nearest building and grabbed hold of its drainpipe, shimmying herself all the way up to the roof supernaturally fast. She took off along the rooftops, listening to Ghost’s directions and changing course when informed. It didn’t take her long to cross the skyline to the south-side of the city where the drab olive uniforms of the City Guard were stopping people randomly and forcing them to take their intrusive tests.

            A man in his mid-forties huffed and puffed, making a great show of being put out, whilst a guard clamped a thick bracelet onto his left wrist. The LED screen flashed white a few times before glowing a bright green.

            Congratulations, Tori thought, despondently. You’re not the chosen one. 

            Sticking to the shadows, Tori inched closer to the roof’s edge, hoping to get an even better look at the streets below. Her superior sight may have helped her see farther than a normal human but her glasses provided her with invaluable information so she flicked them on, attempting to scan every face she could.

            Farther down the street’s left side, another guard had slapped a bracelet on a young woman. Visibly distressed, terror bright in her eyes, Tori knew the outcome before the bracelet’s screen shone a brilliant red. The young woman tried to tear herself away from the guard, but it was too late—everyone had seen she’d been confirmed as Other. She was slammed to the ground, cuffed at the wrists and ankles, then roughly shoved into the back of the City Guard’s hover van. 

            With no time to waste, Tori tried to identify as many Others as possible. Ghost’s database only stored confirmed humans (since it was smarter to remain unknown as an Other) so Tori was waiting for a face to pass by that wouldn’t flag up as human. Easier said than done when this street was teeming with people. The guards definitely liked an audience for their little evening show. 

            Every person on this street seemed to be human. Until the boy in the worn leather boots and faded jeans passed across her vision. 

            Trying to look unhurried, he weaved in and out of the crowd, dodging guards whenever they came too close to him. From above, Tori could see the route he was trying to take—across the street into a narrow alley wedged between two restaurants. She could also see he would never make it without being intercepted by any number of guards. She moved before her plan had completely formed in her mind. 

            This building had to be at least fifteen storeys high but Tori was unafraid as she scaled the side of it which would lead her down into a shady alley, unseen from the busy street beyond. With nothing but her own body to get her safely to the ground, Tori found that dropping from windowsill to windowsill was her best option to save her from being splattered all over the concrete. Ghost remained calm. Whatever camera she was watching Tori from must have given her a good view, for Tori was surprised that she was not screaming a stream of profanities at her right about now.

            “You better hope that super strength serves you well, girl. I’ll be emptying your funds into my own account if you die, just so you know,” Ghost stated calmly.

            You handle my money anyway,” Tori retorted, trying to keep her tone light for her partner’s sake. “Who’s to say you’re not skimming a little off the top already?”

            Super strength or not, Tori’s arm muscles were beginning to ache with every successive drop and her t-shirt stuck uncomfortably to her sweat-slicked back beneath her jacket. 

            As soon as her feet hit the concrete beneath her, she took off out into the crowd, keeping an eye on every guard within spitting distance. She knew what would happen if they slapped a bracelet on her.The boy, who looked to be about her age, hadn’t yet made it across the street. Tori did what she did best and faded, unnoticed, in and out of the shadows and between the throngs of people. Only in this city would the streets still be crammed and busy at this time of the day.

            The boy had to double back as a City Guard van hovered dangerously close to where he’d been seconds before. Tori followed his every movement until she was close enough to lay a hand on his shoulder. He whirled at her touch, throwing punches, but she was a trained fighter, fast and agile. She blocked his blow, twisting his arm round his back before leading him toward the side street, away from where he’d been aiming for.

            “You and I do not want to be on this street right now, understood? We’re going to quickly and quietly get ourselves away from the main streets,” she whispered in his ear, putting a light bounce in her step, imitating a girl excited to be out and about with her boyfriend. He relaxed his body slightly but remained wary, his head turning to look behind him every few steps. Tori adjusted his arm so it hung round her waist as she reached hers over his shoulder. He was quite a bit taller than her, so she had to stretch to reach but she managed to push his head round to the front and keep it there. “Just concentrate on walking forward and what’s in front of you, I’ll make sure we’re safe, yeah?”

            There was a taxi rank not too far along this road and if she could get them there without the guards wandering off the main street and onto this one, then she would have succeeded with her plan. Ghost would keep an eye on what was behind them—there was no reason for her to look back.

            “City Guard van just turned up the street. Hide, Hermes.”

            Well, shit, Tori cursed inwardly. The City Guard could stop a taxi, no questions asked, and “test” whichever unlucky passenger was inside. If they rode the taxi across the city, there was no guarantee they’d be safe. In fact, they’d be no better than sitting ducks. 

            She looked around for inspiration, in need of a quick change of plan. Whether he was an Other or not, there was no way to know if this boy could scale buildings like she could, so she took that method of escape out of the equation. From a tall office building, a man in a crisp grey-checked suit exited from its glass entrance. Tori saw her chance and took it.

            Dragging the boy along with her, Tori caught the door to the office building before it could shut and slipped inside. She clocked the security cameras as, one by one, they shut down. Ghost could only give them a few seconds before she’d have to turn them back on in order to avoid the notice of some beady-eyed security officer awake enough to see the feed had been tampered with.

            Tori moved quickly to the emergency stairwell, ushering the boy inside before securing the door behind them and ducking under the stairs in case anyone was riding a health kick and by-passed the elevators.

            “I can’t find this boy anywhere online. Be careful, Hermes.” Ghost warned.

            Tori rolled her eyes at Ghost’s pointless warning. If this boy tried to make a move on her, he’d be on his back, unconscious, in seconds. She examined him quickly from where they crouched together under the stairwell. His honey-brown eyes darted back and forth under raised brows. 

            “What’s your name?” Tori asked. If Ghost couldn’t find his identity, then there was no harm in trying the old-fashioned way. The boy’s jaw clenched as he brushed his brown hair from his forehead. 

            Tori narrowed her eyes. “The silent type, eh?” When the boy just glared at her in response, she shrugged. “Suits me. Listen, in approximately fifty-five seconds those emergency doors are going to open. Go right, keep your head down, and follow my lead, okay?” The boy just blinked, remaining silent. “I’ll take that as a yes,” Tori muttered under her breath.

            Ghost pinged a timer across her glasses’ screen to alert her when she would bypass the building’s security and open the emergency exit across from them. At the five-second mark, Tori held up her hand and counted down on her fingers for the boy. When her timer hit zero, and she had no more fingers to count on, Tori dashed for the door, pushing it open farther, and heading along the alley located at the back of the building. She didn’t turn to see if the boy was smart enough to follow but from the heavy footsteps coming from behind her, she knew he was hot on her heels.

            “God almighty, was that boy raised by a herd of elephants? That’ll need to be trained out of him,” Ghost gasped.

            Despite herself, Tori chuckled, picturing Ghost shaking her head in disapproval, as she bent over a grate in the ground. Reaching into her leather jacket, she plucked a code-cracking device from it and attached it to the grate. A series of numbers whirled past on its screen before a satisfying click sounded and she hauled the heavy iron grate open. She gestured for the boy to jump down but he backed away from her.

            “No way. You first.” The first words he’d spoken to her.

            Tori levelled a look at him, hands on hips. “I’m not leading you to your death. If I wanted you dead there’s a whole host of city guards who’d be especially glad to see you. I can drop you off at their front door, free of charge, if you’d like?” The boy gulped, head swiveling left and right as he looked along the deserted alley. Tori nodded. “Didn’t think so. I would go first but I need to shut and lock this behind us. Unless you have knowledge of code crackers and underground tunnels?”

            His expression was one of someone who’d just been told the grass was blue. Tori couldn’t blame him, but, really, what were his other options? He momentarily debated with himself before hastily scrambling through the opening. 

            Right behind him, Tori swung the grate over with a clank and hung from it with her full weight to check it was securely in place. 

            Dropping to the ground, she spun in a circle, arms wide, as the dark tunnel flooded with light from the automatic lamps mounted along the smooth stone walls. The boy eyed her warily.

            Tori flashed him a grin. “Welcome to the rebellion—we hope you enjoy your stay.”

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All Things Considered

She thought herself wind,

but really she was rain–

Cold and sleek;

Unrelenting, she remained.

If she were wind,

she’d be brash and bold.

Unwilling to settle.

A feat to behold.

Something told her

to shine like the sun:

Bright and steadfast,

a beacon for everyone.

But what of the moon?

Pale and prone to change.

Does it always have to be

mysterious and strange?

Maybe she’s one.

Maybe she’s the other.

Maybe she’s none.

Maybe she doesn’t bother.

Minds can be provoked.

Mouths will still chatter.

But, let’s get real,

none of it should matter.

When it comes to others,

she’s not here to enthrall.

Because, all things considered,

can’t she be all?

–MR


What I Read in 2018…

…and my thoughts on all of them.

There’s 18 days left of 2018. I’m just going to let that sink in. It’s been the fastest, longest year ever, if that’s even possible. There was a Winter Olympics this year, I re-applied for uni, completed 50k words for NaNoWriMo, Incredibles 2 was finally released, broke up with my boyfriend, turned 23, survived Thanos’ snap, and, most importantly, read 40 books.

I’ve sorted all the books I’ve read into three categories and will do a quick recap on all of them. Surprisingly, I only re-read 9 books this year, and five of them were the first Throne of Glass books in anticipation of Sarah J. Maas’ epic finale – Kingdom of Ash. So I done pretty well in the ‘new books’ department this year.

Anyway, let’s get started. The creme de la creme of my 2018 reads can be found in the 10/10, would recommend category, the neither here nor there reads in the Meh. category, and the ones that just did not tickle my fancy are in the thank u, next category. Side note: re-reads will have its own category separate from the others (because if I’ve re-read it chances are I loved it the first time round).

10/10, would recommend

The Illuminae Files (Trilogy) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

With Obsidio‘s release this year, I was able to read all three at once and, my god, this was an amazing series! These books were fast-paced, thrilling, exciting, and the writing style is completely different than anything else I’ve ever read before. I had so much fun reading these and are absolutely a must-read for sci-fi, space adventure lovers.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

A contemporary novel set in the 80s. No wonder this book won awards; it’s poignant and heartfelt and tackles what it’s like to be a sad, angry, and unable-to-explain-why teenager. I flew through this beautiful story with the even more beautiful ending. Both Aristotle and Dante were real and diverse, and their friendship felt authentic and sincere. I’m excited for future me to sit down and re-read this captivating story.

Shatter Me (Series) by Tahereh Mafi 

Okay, so I know the Marmite Effect takes hold of this series for people and I wasn’t quite sure which category to put this in. The original 3 books were a lot of fun and I really enjoyed reading them. For me, that’s all that matters. The story captivated me, the characters grew and developed in interesting ways (some for the best, some for the worst), and I think it’s a good time had by all who read it. It is a dystopian novel which I’m always skeptical about, yet this one I would read again. However, I did start the fourth one and just… stopped reading? I will give it another go since there are more on the way but, there you go.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Funny, relatable, endearing. Just read it if you haven’t.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Trilogy) by Jenny Han

Teen high school rom-com. I read them in anticipation of the Netflix movie release (which was great, btw.) The first two were awesome; light, funny, easy-to-digest, cheesy, sweet, fun. The third one I could have done without and belongs in the thank u, next category. However, because of the first two, I would definitely recommend this trilogy to anyone who needs an easy “holiday” read.

Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare & Co.

8 short stories written in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter World, released throughout this year before Queen of Air and Darkness. Unlike everyone else in the book community, I have yet to start QOAAD but having read GOTSM‘s short stories I am super excited to get to it (and even more excited for The Last Hours!) These short stories should be mandatory reading for all fans of the Shadowhunter World; they were fantastic, fast-paced, and chock full of great moments from new and familiar faces.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

The grand finale to Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series was every bit as epic as we were promised. Although I think way too many characters survived and, having had months to stew over it, some character arcs could have been played differently in my mind, this book was absolutely a highlight of my year. I laughed and cried and wrote so many ridiculous, often frustrated, notes throughout and, all in all, just had a wonderful time with it.  I was lucky enough to get my copy signed by Sarah herself at her KoA event in Edinburgh, another highlight of my year!

Meh.

Midnighters #1 & #2 by Scott Westerfield

My mum actually bought me these. She’d read them years ago and recommended them to me. The concept is so cool with a select few people gaining an extra hour at midnight when everyone else freezes. They have supernatural abilities only for the hour and get hunted by ancient creatures (and non-Midnighters). This was an easy read. I zipped right through the first two but haven’t picked up the third yet. I’m not sure the characters have stuck with me, or resonated with me enough, and that’s maybe why I’m in no rush to pick it up.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I remember enjoying it when I read it. I think it took me a day or two, but it never left a huge impression on me. I want to read the next book in the instalment, for sure, but I have so many other books on my TBR that it’ll take me a while to get round to it. By then, I might have forgotten it entirely.

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

The anticipation I had for this novella was HUGE. A spin-off to the ACOTAR series, a story to bridge the gap between the original trilogy and the upcoming spin-off books. I’m going to be up front: nothing happens. There is no plot, or any character development. It’s literally just a window into the immediate aftermath of the war in A Court of Wings and Ruin. With that being said, I genuinely adore these characters and this world so much that I did find myself smiling away as I read it, so, for me, it was totally enjoyable. 

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

This was a book I actually really liked but never got around to buying the rest of the series to read this year, and for that reason alone I stuck it in the Meh. category. If I had been desperately in love with it I know I would have wasted no time in getting my hands on the second one. With that being said, I am making it a priority of mine to complete the series in 2019. (Side note: I didn’t see the film either but we all know how book to movie adaptations tend to go so am I really missing much?)

thank u, next

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu and Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

I’ve bunched these two together since this whole DC Icons business has been a strange affair. It’s a fantastic idea, getting four big authors to write a story for four big superheroes. Why do they all fall flat for me? Batman didn’t pick up until the last third of the book and I honestly just trudged my way through Catwoman out of obligation. I can’t quite place my finger on why this brilliant idea for a series just doesn’t work for me because I love Leigh Bardugo (who wrote Wonder Woman: Warbringer), Marie and Sarah’s writing styles and respective works but these were not… great. I’ve never read a Matt De La Pena book so I’m not sure whether I’ll read Superman when it is released next year (although, let’s be real, I will buy it just to have it on my shelf ’cause I have a book buying problem lol).

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

I read this in January or February and all I remember was that it was a little to morose and somber, a bit too sad for me. Some readers love that dramatic, down-in-the-dumps style of story and I can understand why, but, overall, it’s not something I particularly enjoy as a form of escapism. 

Red Rising Saga (Books #1 & #2) by Pierce Brown

Before beginning these books I was so rooting for them to be my next obsession, especially since a whole load of people seem to really love them and think they’re great. Red Rising was slow to begin with and didn’t pick up until the midpoint of the book. As I continued to read, I hoped beyond hope that this was how the rest of the series was going to carry on. But, alas, I kind of forced myself through Golden Son and that’s where I stopped. Sometimes it can be the wrong time in your life to read certain books, and maybe I should give it another chance one day, but I rooted for none of the characters. In fact, that’s a lie, I did like some of them but just when I started rooting for them, something happened that turned me off them. Perhaps this series deserves a second chance, or perhaps it and I just aren’t a good match.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

As I decided which category to put this in, I actually had to go on to Goodreads and read some reviews to remind myself what it was about. This didn’t stand out to me as much as Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and it felt slightly lacklustre in comparison, in my opinion anyway.

Re-reads

Throne of Glass (Series) by Sarah J. Maas

With Kingdom of Ash being about the biggest release of 2018, it’s no surprise I had to read the entire series again, you know, to refresh the old memory – I didn’t want to miss any little detail that might be important later haha! This was actually only my second time reading the entire series (minus KoA, obviously) and I actually think I loved it more this time round than the first. Every YA/NA/Fantasy lover needs to give this series a go at least once!

A Court of Thorns and Roses (Trilogy) by Sarah J. Maas

I don’t think a year goes by since ACOTAR was first released that I don’t re-read this series which is very telling of how much I adore this world. In particular, ACOMAF which, excitingly enough, got third place on Goodreads Award’s  Best of the Best category this year.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Another book/series that takes determination NOT to read every single year haha! The Infernal Devices trilogy will always be a classic and will always be very much loved by me (and a whole lot of other people, too!)

Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom (Duology) by Leigh Bardugo

Currently re-reading these two masterpieces to round off my year because it’s been a while since I last read them. I was never fond of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, especially the ending and Alina and Mal and the under-utilised potential of the Darkling. However, Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom is grittier, darker, cleverer, and every character has their place within the story. Bardugo has recently announced King of Scars, a novel following Nikolai from Shadow and Bone (definitely my favourite character from that series), will be released in 2019 and I cannot wait to delve into Bardugo’s Grisha-Verse again!

Well, that was 2018… I wonder what books 2019 will bring my way.

~ Monica x

NaNoWriMo ’18 Excerpt

A/N:- For the first time ever I am participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November! I’ve already written a plan for a novel and my goal is to hit 50,000 words by November 30th. This piece you’re about to read is an excerpt from said novel so it is by no means done (this is literally a first draft of a scene I’d had stuck in my head with a quick once over for any grammar mistakes) but hopefully, when it is done, I’ll post the entire thing! Please feel free to give me feedback or if you’d be interested in reading more!

If anyone is interested in NaNoWriMo, click here.

Untitled Novel, an excerpt

Hurry, the voice, which had protected Alvy all her life, urged. Hurry, little one. She could feel the phantom wind biting at her heels, leading her away from danger.

Her dark cloak whipped behind her as she pushed her legs onward. It had been a risk, she knew, to have gotten as close as she did tonight but it was one she’d need to take again to ensure she possessed what she sought.  She’d get word about this test run to the rebels as soon as possible but… For now she concentrated on getting herself to the secret tunnels which wound underneath the palace and would get her back inside to safety. Relative safety.

It had rained heavily and unexpectedly that afternoon, leaving the cobblestone streets slick and dotted with puddles. The guards’ feet slapped and splashed through them as they chased her. Their heavy panting the only indication they were tiring. She had a few more corners to turn then she would be out of sight.

Nimbly, she used the lamppost at the corner’s edge to swing round and give her more momentum, that phantom wind again shoving her none too gently along. If she wasn’t running for her life she would have cursed it out.

The city guards hadn’t been the only one’s on watch at Atlena’s sacred monument. Oh no, her grandmother had made sure that she had a two-tier rotation of guards from both the city and her own personal guard. Clever to keep it heavily defended but, and it give Alvy some satisfaction, stupid to make it so obvious. Atlena’s monument was popular enough for city guards to be keeping watch for trouble, however, the Queen’s personal guard? Her grandmother may as well have dressed in her finery and paraded down to the monument, shouting that something important was hidden there.

Alvy chanced a quick glance over her shoulder and was pleased that, for now, she was alone. Although, she could still hear the thud of boots and occasional grunts and knew her chasers were most likely on the street she’d just left behind so she did not slow down as she sprinted down yet another street. 

A quarter of the way up the path she was on, a tall, broad-shouldered man leaned against the brick wall of one of the many shop-fronts lining this particular avenue. Alvy didn’t slow down as she grabbed him by the crook of his elbow and whirled him round, only dropping it when his pace matched hers. He tugged a folded bundle of fabric from where he’d tucked it into the waist band of his trousers before thrusting it in her direction. A cloak—pale in colour and expensive looking. He unfurled it as she peeled off the one she was currently wearing before dropping it into the nearest rubbish bin. 

In one fluid movement, she slipped on the new cloak as she and her companion made their way down a bustling alley filled with late night revellers enjoying the first warm night of the year despite the earlier rainfall. They slowed to a walk, arms linked together as they put their heads close, the picture of a young couple seeing what the Tuaceatha nightlife had to offer. 

A vendor wheeled her cart alongside them, thrusting two sugar-covered pastries into their hands. She conspiratorially winked at them before heading back along the alley shouting her wares. Alvy didn’t try to conceal her smile as her friend rolled her cart away, ever the actress. She’d have to visit her tomorrow with a box of treats from her favourite chocolatier.

At the lip of the alley, where they had entered moments before, the guards who had been on her tail stopped abruptly, heads whipping in every direction as they searched for a figure clad in a dark cloak. 

They had quite clearly lost her. 

She silently thanked the gods while she watched, merely a curious onlooker, as the group of guards split up, a handful of them now barrelling down the alley toward her.

Quickly but calmly—collected—Alvy and the man strode for the open-air beer tent. The long, rectangular space was cordoned off by lengths of thick rope attached to knee-high wooden posts. The space was crammed full of raucous, rowdy customers perched round rickety tables and mismatched chairs. Two servers managed to find pathways through the throngs of people, circular trays containing precariously balanced, empty tankards and glasses held above their heads.

The perfect place to lie low—just as she’d planned.

How lucky that two seats had now just been vacated.

A quick, barely perceptible nod from the two co-conspirators was all she gave them as they took their seats. A second later, one of the servers placed two tankards of ale in front of them.

Alvy crinkled her nose at the stale smell but took a gulp anyway. She quickly took a bite of her pastry, letting the sugary goodness soak up the bitter taste of ale, repressing a shudder.

Her companion chuckled. “It honestly can’t be that terrible.”

“Well, Owen, I’m glad you think so,” she smirked. “You can do the honours of finishing mine for me.”

She raised her tankard and clinked it against his, the contents sloshing over the sides and onto the table leaving it instantly sticky. “Here’s to the men and women who force this shit down their throats.”

Owen laughed good-naturedly as he swiped the spilled ale off the tiny table with a coaster.

A male clad in the purple-and-gold uniform of the city guard, her grandmother’s coat of arms emblazoned on his chest, sidled up to exactly where Alvy was sitting. He squinted at the crowd, looking for a face she was certain he had not seen beneath the folds of the now discarded cloak.

Not missing a beat, Owen raised his hand and cupped her cheek, blocking her face from the guard’s view. The guard’s might not know the face of who they were chasing but they did know her face—and she shouldn’t have been this far from the palace at this hour. 

Following Owen’s lead, Alvy leaned into his touch, gazing into his hazel eyes, amping up the loved-up couple act. The guard gave up his impossible searching and jogged off down the alley.

Hardly daring to drop the act, Alvy and Owen stayed there, finishing their pastries and beers while they gossiped and laughed, for a good ten minutes before a young man on a bicycle zipped passed ringing his bell—the all-clear signal for the pair.

The streets turned progressively quieter the further from the chaotic alley they got but Alvy wouldn’t allow herself to relax fully until they were inside those tunnels, headed back to the castle.

She prayed her grandmother’s queenly duties had remained unchanged tonight. Although she had no doubt been alerted to the disruption at Atlena’s monument, the Queen of Ailios would surely wait till morning before addressing the situation—if she even deemed it worthy of her time.

Owen stayed silent at her side as they meandered to the other side of the city to Pinerest Park, his eyes alert, scanning for threats. Content enough that there were none, he led the way into the park, holding the wrought iron gate open for Alvy to pass through. 

Tree branches stretched across the central pathway, reaching for them like an old crone’s gnarled hands. Moonlight glinted off the gurgling stream making the shadows dance and sway.

It was only now, in this dark place, with nobody around, did Alvy let her magic sing.

Here we go…

I keep reminding myself that the least scary thing I could possibly do is share my writing with the world. Because the world doesn’t give a fuck what I do and chances are no one will read this anyway. But here I am, scared senseless.

All I have to do is put my (often vivid and ridiculous) imagination into a couple of paragraphs, hit ‘Publish’, and go about my day not giving it another thought. Like a normal human being.

But, again, here I am, overthinking every possible outcome of, what is essentially, typing onto a keyboard and clicking a button. I suppose, as this is my first blog post, I should give you a bit of background as to what and why this blog currently exists.

I made this site way back in July 2018 (it’s now October 2018 at the time of writing) as a way of sharing the pieces of fiction I create. I’ve been making up stories for myself my whole life but it wasn’t until a few years ago I  began to write the thoughts I had down and once I started it was hard for me to stop – I found something I love to do. It’s a complete joy for me to write and create and visualise a story and, increasingly, I find myself dreaming of being a published author… one day. So I forced myself to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and created this blog as a first step.

I still haven’t posted anything 3 months later. lol.

That’s going to change. I’m giving myself a monthly goal. On the first week of every month I’m going to post something. Maybe it’ll be a chapter of the novel I’m currently working on, or maybe it’ll be a short story but something will be posted.

You know how birds push their chicks out of the nest to see if they’ll fly? That’s what this blog post is for me. So, Monica, pal, if it’s not too much to ask, just get it done!

You’ll never know if you don’t try.

~Monica x