In a world of magic that runs like lifeblood through the very earth, Ro is a rare outlier: a null. Magic doesn't affect her or work for her; she instead cancels it out. This comes in useful; as an assassin, Ro slips through all magical defences and snares easily.
When two different contracts come her way, requesting that she assassinate Queen Alyss of Miraré's oracle for a truly obscene amount of gold, Ro happily, eagerly accepts the assignment. For one, she's never killed an oracle before. For another, the reward is practically a king's ransom, and Ro loves nothing so much as she as gold.
It takes months, but eventually Ro gets herself into the perfect position to kill the mystical oracle...only she hesitates. Not out of any moral quandary, but out of curiosity.
And that single hesitation has far reaching consequences for an entire universe, because the oracle isn't an oracle. He is something else far more influential than that, whether he knows it or not...
Alyss | also called the Red Queen, ruler of Miraré through usurpation, one-time destined saviour of the world, currently attempting to forge an alliance with Teimor.
Ro | also known as Carrow, a null and assassin whose moral compass points to 'gold' or 'would be fun', depending on the situation.
Sage | an oracle who isn't, motivated by a dual desire for revenge and finding a way home, full of secrets.
Fintan | leader of the Order of the White Hare, a rebel organization dedicated to removing Alyss from the throne, also known as Fin.
Jac | Ro's one-time guardian and current liaison for assignments.
Remember how I said I'd be doing more subtle references to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland duology? Well...I changed my mind; it's much less subtle now. Still, I'm quite excited about this! All my characters are sort of awful but still sympathetic, which is a treat to write, and I have a very developed backstory for everything that I'm eager to slowly reveal. Speaking of which, the backstory is hefty enough and interesting enough to be its own story told in a more straightforward manner but...I don't want to write it like that so I simply shan't.
I am, however, already falling into the trap of trying to develop and implement a big, world-changing plot which is not my thing at all. It's a strange instinct to have when I don't want nor actually have the capacity to follow through on such a thing. I think I may have just gotten into the habit of thinking up Big Plots™ because I tend to read Big Plots™ and also almost all the writer peers I have or know of tend to write Big Plots™ too.
So I'm trying to simplify it, or at least, make it more character-oriented (which is the type of plot I enjoy and excel at writing to completion). Currently the synopsis is perfect as is, but you'll notice it's not really plot-focused.
The plan so far is to 1) have Ro and my oracle, Sage, on the run, being pursued by the villain, 2) slowly reveal Sage and the villain's secrets and entwined pasts, 3) have Ro and Sage trying to get sanctuary with a group of people who have their own agenda, because that group is the lesser of the two evils for Sage who 4) ultimately just wants to go home.
It's good enough for now! I shall just keep tinkering with it and see where I end up.
As for the cover: I absolutely adore it, and it has lots of symbolism, which I only realized after I'd settled on this design. Let me be a stereotypical English student for a second and dive into it:
Until next time, happy reading and writing!
Sirin's son has been kidnapped by the djinn, and she will stop at nothing to find him and bring him home, even if that means marching into the realm of the Unseen on what everyone insists is a hopeless mission. He's gone, she is told. Grieve him, for he is as good as dead. If he is returned to you, he will not be the same child you knew.
But he isn't dead, and Sirin refuses to wait around for an if. She doesn't care that no one has ever returned from such a venture. She's going to save her son, or die trying.
Enter Halah; the only person taken by the djinn who claims to have escaped them, rather than been returned. Only she knows the paths into the Unseen realm and the ways through the kingdom of the djinn, and when Sirin pleads for her help, she agrees.
She can't abandon a child, even one she doesn't know. Even if it does mean returning to the last place in all the realms she ever wants to see again...
Sirin | a desperate, determined mother, chief of her tribe after her husband's untimely death.
Qusaiy | Sirin's son, a six year old boy, renowned for his beautiful voice and excellent memory.
Raoul | Cousin to Sirin's husband and her childhood friend, secretly in love with her, utterly devoted to her.
Halah | escapee from the djinn, living as an outcast at the edge of a village with her best friend and a sootdragon for company.
Ilyas | Raoul's best friend and a fierce warrior of Sirin's tribe, Nilam's twin brother, and a former slave.
Nilam | A Ranger, Halah's best and only friend, Ilyas' twin sister, and a former slave.
I'M SO EXCITED FOR THIS!
Welcome to Legends of Mourra, formally known as Chronicles of Mourra. And yup, you read that right: this is only volume one! The plan is to basically write a series of books that all take place in the same universe, and each will be a different 'legend'. Probably there will be some cameos from book to book, but they won't be direct sequels. As of yet, I only have two volumes in mind; the second will probably be the oft-mentioned gender-swapped retelling of Aladdin!
But oh, the plot of this one! It's new and fresh and pared down from the former too-grand scale of the old one, in which an entire kingdom succumbed to civil war and invasion after a coup, as seen from the perspective of four or five people. This revamped plot is both way more manageable and delicious, if I do say so myself.
There's some mystery, some magic, some wonder, some romance, a little bit of horror but nothing too bad, and a spicy sprinkling of complex relationships and tragic backstories.
Some things remain the same though; this is still a rescue mission for poor Qusaiy, there's still gonna be a road-trip of a quest, Raoul's still hopelessly in love with Sirin, (as is Ilyas with Halah), Nilam is still awesome, and Halah is still an outcast.
I'm also super excited to feature various mythical creatures pulled from various Arabian and African (and more!) traditions, as well as inspiration from different Muslim beliefs! I have a whole alphabetical compendium/encyclopedia ready to go and everything.
However, I am not, as of this moment, at the writing stage. I am at the planning and note-making stage though! Will keep y'all updated!
Also, sidenote: I'm not 100% sold on the cover I've whipped up, but it'll work until/if I get something I like better.
Until next time, happy reading and writing!
Well, I'm back after another long absence. Raise your hand if you're surprised. No hands in the air? Yeah, I didn't expect there to be. You know the drill: I had a crisis, shut everything down, ran away until I felt better, and came back, shamefaced but determined not to pull the same stunt again.
Anyway, you're not here for my personal woes, you're here for writing! Presumably. I don't know if anyone's still around, actually, but if I shout into the void, perhaps the void will shout back a welcome.
So. You may be wondering what's with this post's title. Well, it references both my recent mental state and also the states of two of my wips: Chronicles of Mourra and Wonderland.
Guess what! The plans I had for both? Shattered. On purpose. I picked up both wips, threw them at a metaphorical wall (aka my debilitating writer's block), shuffled through the pieces, picked up the shiniest, prettiest fragments, got a new frame and some glue, and made two different mosaics.
This extended metaphor is getting away from me, so let me speak plainly. Neither of these wips were working for me, so I took what I liked best of them and made something new. Wow, that sounds way easier than it actually was. In reality this took me literal months and serious angst to do.
Let's jump right into it, shall we?
Chronicles of Mourra
Wow, sometimes I'm mad stubborn. Maybe tenacious is a better word? Pigheaded? Willfully blind? Either way, you'd think after ten years of trying and failing to make a story work I would give up and try something really and truly new with it.
Ok, so I got there eventually. Three weeks or so ago, I was driving to the airport, watching a landscape of olive groves and desert scrub and a packed highway whizz by while suffering the worst allergy-related congestion, and I was thinking about fairy tales. And then, given that I was in a setting reminiscent of CofM, I also started thinking about my wip.
This eventually led me to realize that my favourite parts of CofM, the parts I thought worth salvaging, the parts that kept me from trashing the entire thing completely, were 1) the characters and 2) an alphabetical glossary/encyclopedia I put together featuring the creatures, places, and notable people of the world.
Yeah, my favourite part wasn't the plot. I hated the plot. I was in denial about hating the plot. I thought if I just tweaked the plot, added new elements to it, I'd finally find a way to make it something I loved. Nope. Turns out the entire plot is just not something I'm interested in writing at all. Not anymore.
Well, except for this one core thing: a mother willing to do absolutely anything for her son, and the people who help her because they love them both.
Ultimately, I figured out that what I actually want to write is:
So I came up with a whole new, refreshing, dare I say exciting plot! I will introduce the new and improved CofM soon, so keep an eye on this space/your email for that.
Ok, so I liked the idea of an Alice in Wonderland retelling as I'd imagined it, but...I didn't actually wanna write it? Much like CofM, I came up with the idea of this retelling years and years ago and it never went anywhere.
Turns out that's for a good reason: I really don't personally enjoy writing big, overarching, complex plots where the fate of the world/kingdom/country rests on the shoulders of a handful of people.
(I do like reading it. But that's a kind of epic I don't have the inclination to dive into, and it can only be done well if you're committed to it. Newsflash: I am not. It overwhelms me.)
What I do like writing, what I've been successful at writing, are stories that are character-driven and character focused! (Rivener is my only completed novel for a reason! How did I not realize this sooner???)
Anyway, cue my latest emotional breakdown and a lot (a lot) of anger and despair and resentment about pretty much...everything...as well as the realization that another thing that made Rivener successful is that I wrote it while channeling Big Feelings™ into it.
Self-reflection complete, I decided to throw various self-imposed restrictions to the wind and write something that was purely and 100%, no holds barred (ok, lies, some holds barred) for me.
Which is how Oracle wip was born. Like CofM 2.0, I am taking bits of pieces of the original idea and doing something different. Like, really different. I've actually never wrote something like this before. I'm excited for it! Bit nervous about sharing it too, but whatever, I'mma power through.
So Wonderland is now Oracle, and it is no longer an Alice in Wonderland retelling. It does still have...little callbacks to Caroll's stories though? I think for the most part it's not enough for anyone to pick up on unless you're really looking for it, but it does bring me joy, and it facilitated this new plot, so I'm going with it.
It also has the most unhinged characters I've written to date. Everyone is sort of awful, but in a fun way! Like CofM 2.0, stay tuned for more about it. This post is already long as heck.
My memory's terrible, because it wasn't until I was perusing my own blog that I remembered one of my goals for this year was to write my Rivener AU. Nope, that's not happening, unless something changes! Which it might! Who knows! Certainly not I!
Also, Glitch wip is still stalled and not going anywhere. My other goals are also...no longer my goals. I shoulda known better than to aim for them because that's almost a sure-fire way to guarantee I won't do them. Me? Keeping promises to myself? Not letting myself down? HAH.
Ok, so it's only June. Who knows what the rest of the year will hold for me.
Anyway, thank you for your attention, if I've managed to hold it this long. (Mind letting me know that I'm reaching actual human minds?) As ever, happy reading and writing. Hope you're doing better than I am, but if you're not. Well, nothing bad lasts forever. Take care babes.
This book brought me unexpected joy! I love period and Regency romances, and having exhausted Austen and the Bronte sisters’ works, I’ve been slowly making my way through Georgette Heyer.
Most of her work is fluffy and fun but not quite ...hm, engaging? But Frederica was a romp, a delight, and emotionally engaging!
Featuring a sarcastic Marquis almost fatally bored with life who enjoys teasing (read: annoying and subverting the demands of) his avaricious sisters, the titular heroine who manages her siblings with spunk and humorous frankness, absolutely hilarious and endearing little brothers, and a very beautiful if vapid (but still sweet!) younger sister who falls for a Regency himbo.
The relationship is a slow burn where the main couple develop a friendship first, and they just so genuinely like each other that it doesn't actually feel like a burn. The Marquis undergoes a wonderful, accidental development as a person, quite literally despite himself. He genuinely can't help but be charmed by Frederica and her siblings. I'd say Frederica reminds me of Anne Elliot if she had a nicer family and Elizabeth Bennet's liveliness.
It's a little slow in its first couple of chapters before it amiably sweeps you along. Every single character was either delightful or amusing, and I loved the sarcasm and teasing and characters saying what they absolutely don't mean half the time.
I also loved the misadventures of the siblings and the crotchety aunt who is supposed to be minding them in London and even the valets and butlers and people they encounter on the street! Literally every single minor character was pretty well fleshed out enough to feel real and also be fun to read about. 10/10 would read again.
I hope it gets made into a film or miniseries, I think it would do great! I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you enjoy Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion (my two fave Austen novels)!
Hey hi hello and happy new year!
Every December I tell myself I won't bother making resolutions because I rarely meet them, and every January I make them anyway. But! I've decided this time to make 'intentions' rather than 'resolutions'. It feels a bit more flexible, hopeful, and aspirational that way, instead of a commitment I already foresee myself breaking, y'know?
As Hyba noted in her positive productivity post (one of a series of three, I encourage you to read them all!), it's important to treat ourselves with grace and compassion.
So here's a non-exhaustive list of my writerly intentions for this year:
✧.* Chronicles of Mourra
There you have it! These are manageable intentions, I think, but also listing them like this is making me a little anxious, not gonna lie. I calm down when I remember this is supposed to be spread out over a full year, and my main 'goal' is to work towards these things, even if I don't finish them! I need to have something to aim for, at the end of the day.
Have you set resolutions and/or intentions for this year? If so, what are they? Comment below so we can support each other!
Best of luck this year babes, and as ever: happy reading and writing.
It has been...a year. Apparently. As this tumblr post put it:
So anyway, it's December and 2022 is around the corner, which means it's time for my year in review! (Shoutout to Hyba for reminding me this is a thing I can do lol).
I did something similar last year and it was fun to see how much I accomplished or what changes occurred that I just plum forgot about, because I have brain like swiss cheese (full of holes).
So remember how I said I wanted to write an isekai novel featuring an "oracle" figure on the run who doesn't actually have the gift of foresight? Well, it's rapidly developed since then into something Bigger™.
Many years ago, when I was still as obssessed with fairytales and folklore retellings as I am now, I dreamed up an Alice in Wonderland retelling that...never really got off the ground.
(Sidebar: it just occurred to me that retellings are the root of my love for fanfiction! I can't believe I didn't realize that until literally this moment!)
My last blog post on the isekai/portal genre naturally got me thinking about Lewis Carroll's story, which got me thinking about my retelling idea, and BAM! It occurred to me I could merge my old story concept with this new one!
For a few years now, I've had this image in my mind of an oracle figure sitting in a dank little cell, and then that same oracle figure on the run, being hunted by pursuers. I think it came about after watching Minority Report (2002) years ago with my dad. These two scenes were the beginning of a story, I could tell, only they were lacking something to truly bring them from the 'spark' stage into 'development' mode.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was talking with my friend Hyba about isekai stories (specifically in webcomics). I have long been a fan of portal and isekai stories, and I love mashing up tropes and adding twists to them. Talking to Hyba got me wanting to dabble in this genre.
For those who don't know and don't want to click on the link, isekai is a Japanese term for a genre of story where a person is transported into another (often fictional) world; sometimes this involves reincarnation. Some of these stories are portal fantasies, however not all isekai stories involve portals.
Some examples of both that I've personally enjoyed include Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, John Carter (2012), Inkworld, InuYasha, and Fushigi Yugi. (The latter two are manga turned animes).
"Take me with you," her reflection whispered, and the girl only shook her head with a finger to her lips, and turned away to smile at the king who'd come to court her, though she was but a peasant.
"Take me with you," the girl in the mirror begged again, as the now-princess laid her hand in her soon-to-be husband's, and was led out of her old home. But the princess turned her back on her image, and pretended she did not hear its whisper.
Much time passed, and the princess became queen, and she had a child with skin white as snow, and cheeks like blossoming roses, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony. And the figure trapped in the glass called to the queen, for the third time.
And it said, "Fairest, dearest, now will you take me with you? For you promised to free me if I gave you everything you wanted, and so you have found love, and become queen, and you have borne a daughter as beautiful as you are, and now I am owed my freedom."
But the queen did not want to free the being in the mirror, for she knew there would be dire consequences, but neither could the mirror be destroyed, or all the queen had would be undone. So instead, the queen carried it deep into the woods, to be forgotten in a dark place where no one would venture and find it.
Only even without the queen to cast an image on the mirror, the being within it had enough power to call out to any who would hear, and the world is not so large that its hidden places long remain so.
And so one day, a girl found the mirror, a peasant girl like the queen used to be, and as she beheld the mirror and the image of herself it cast back upon her, she heard a voice whisper,
"Do you wish to be the fairest of them all?"
Fictober is an event hosted on tumblr where writers respond to a prompt a day for the whole of October.
You can find the prompt list here.
"Don't ruin this," she begs me, "Everything we have, everything we've worked for, all those years, all those lives—we sacrificed them for the greater good and you want to just—just--throw it all away?"
I stare out at the ruin of the city, the burning and the smoke and the bodies, and then down at the unassuming stone in my hands, which has the power to change time itself, for all that it looks like any old meteorite.
"It's already ruined," I tell her. "It was ruined the moment we killed the first person to stand against us, to see us for what we are."
"They call us monsters," she cried, "Monsters, for trying to save them."
I look at her then, feeling so very numb inside, unmoved by her tears. "Save them?" I repeat, "You really think we've done that? That we haven't just made things worse?"
She doesn't answer, mouth pressed tight. "Only because they fought us," she says, her voice shaking. "Only because they resisted. We can still—we can fix it, we can salvage it all. None of this matters when we can just undo it. That's what the stone does—and you want to erase us from time, rather than the real monsters of history?"
"I think," I say slowly, "That we've proven we can't be trusted to do the right thing."
For a moment I think I've gotten through to her, as she looks at me, at the stone, and then at our surroundings. But then her expression hardens, loses its pleading edge.
"We're heroes," she spits. "And we're going to remake the world in our image, like we always planned. No more hunger and disease. No more disparity between the rich and the poor. No more war. Not after this one."
She raises her hands, lets the light of her power begin to pool in her cupped palms, bleed into her eyes. "I won't let you damn us all," she says.
If I could still feel anything, I'd be heartbroken, presented with this final proof that who we are, what we wanted, has become so irrevocably twisted. She would never have stood against me before.
But maybe that's the problem. Maybe she should have. Maybe we wouldn't be here if we hadn't been such a united front against all the injustices of the world...until we became the greatest injustice.
We're not heroes, not anymore.
And we need to be stopped.
So even as she flies at me, ready to destroy me like we've destroyed everything else, I let the stone fall.
And too late she sees that I've cracked it open.
I hear her scream in wrath, in despair, in horror.
And then time is rewritten, and we are erased from it.
Fictober is an event hosted on tumblr where writers respond to a prompt a day for the whole of October.
You can find the prompt list here.
Welcome to the blog!
Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.