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Ashana Lian's Fantasy Lab

Fantasy and Fantasy Writing from every angle: fantasy and sci-fi novels, films, artwork, superhero cartoons, children's and YA books, manga, anime, video games and comics. Put the microscope on 'Geek Culture'.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Fiction Friday: What is the strongest friendship in your story?

It's Fiction Friday, the meme for writer-bloggers! For those who are taking part, share a snippet on your work and link-up. Support each other, and if the blogger asks, give them constructive criticism! If you don't have anything to share this time, answer this week's question:

What is the strongest friendship in your story?

To see the upcoming questions for the next few months and find out more about this feature, visit the main About Fiction Friday post.

I'm posting chapters of a fantasy short story for the next few Fiction Fridays, but due to short-notice interviews and suddenly being offered a job (!!  WHOO! =D) I have been unable to finish up the next chapter this week. Apologies for the delay, and it will be posted tomorrow.

My answer(s)

Karalan's Legacy

The strongest friendship in the Kaia group; Karalan, Jory, Cassie, Dim, the Prince of Pearls, Enny, and Rogs. Karalan is their driving force. They lay their beliefs on her and without meaning to, their hopes as well. She slowly comes to realise, being someone who has mostly felt alone, that the Kaia group love her like family.

Everybody knows how their group works - Karalan's response to most things is offended or aggressive; Cassie is the other main girl and she charms and teases, but with her partner Jory she's calm, content, and maternal; Jory is mostly silent, but is extremely good and finding whatever food is available (or hidden) and eating it all without telling anyone. As the oldest, he also takes the odd moment to talk to tell them something important, usually something nobody else has noticed.

The Prince of Pearls and Karalan understand each other on a level, so he keeps her calm and rational when she trademark fury boils over. He's also the joker of the group and brings up the mood and morale of the others. Enny Brijettie is the ray of sunshine, the girl who always laughs and is never without a smile. Enny has been sheltered from most hardships and is moderately rich, so she tries to get them the connections they need or private/expensive resources they wouldn't otherwise have access to. Finally, Rogs is the first mate of the Silk Maiden, the Prince of Pearls' ship. He's crude, loud, swears a lot, drinks a lot, and sleeps with too many girls to count. Most of the group dislike him, Karalan and Jory in particular, but excepting the Prince who sees his heart of gold, and Cassie who finds him amusing.

Oh wait, Dim! I always forget him. Ironically my characters always forget him too. Dim is the weirdo of the group, being the only one who isn't human - he's insanely curious, always wandering off to explore for large chunks of time, prodding things, setting things on fire to see what will happen, spinning things. Almost everything he says is a question. He is generally liked by the group, although he drives them insane.

So there you have the Kaia Gang.

Brilliance Of The Light

The strongest friendship in this book is between Sati and The Light Of The Forest, and they become friends later in the story. What makes their friendship so powerful is that they don't actually speak to each other but communicate through motions and music. They both have an affinity for the forest.

The Light Of The Forest takes the appearance of a little girl, but it is actually millenias old. It is curious, respectful and joyful towards Sati, and often relied of Sati for stronger connections to the real world, for example, when other people are present. Sati, at this time of the story, is probably about thirty-five. She is drifting between a dreamlike human state and an exhilarating deity state, and The Light Of The Forest helps her to cope with her newfound knowledge.

The other strongest friendship is between Sati and her husband, Nandin. When they met, their personalities were so much alike that love and friendship came hand in hand. Later on, when Sati began to come out of her shell, their relationship was tested but ultimately they never doubted the strength of their bond, and how fierce their would fight to stay together.

Ashana Lian .

Friday, 20 February 2015

Fiction Friday: The Sorcerer's Secretary (Chapter One)

It's Fiction Friday! For those who are taking part, share a snippet on your work and link-up. Please support each other, and if the blogger asks, give them constructive criticism! If you don't have anything to share this time, answer this week's question:

Your main character – what are their defining skills?

To see the upcoming questions for the next few months and find out more about this feature, visit the main About Fiction Friday post.

For the next few weeks, I will be posting a new adult fantasy short series called The Sorcerer's Secretary. Thanks to those who applied for the Cast Call!

I always appreciate constructive feedback - especially regarding typos because I am AWFUL with that!

Chapter One
A Cat Called Rabbit and Three Dead Dragons

Believe it or not, Mum was attacking my dad with a lightning whip when I visited them at home. The tiny kitchen was charred everywhere, and Dad was doing everything to dodge her while protecting the TV.
       “Hi darling!” he yelled, ducking another flames that burst into the air. “How was work?”
       “Mum! Stop!” I shouted, and she snapped her head to look at me like a snarling beast, her nostrils flared and brown curly hair falling over her face. “What’s he done?”
       “Why don’t you ask him!” she shouted, waving the lightning whip threateningly. The rug in the hallway caught on fire, and both me and Dad both inhaled sharply and began to back away. There was just no reasoning with my Mum when she was angry.
       “Now, love...” Dad said feebly.
       “Mum!” I hissed. “You’re not on TV any more, stop seeking attention. Where did you even get that?” I looked at Dad. “What is going on?”
       Dad muttered, “Apparently, I forgot to lock the hovercar.”
       “Of course you did! Do you see it in the driveway, you moron?” My mother screamed. We were pretty much hiding behind the TV at this point. She suddenly noticed the flaming rug and began to stamp on it, tutting and muttering.
       “Why would I forget? Have I ever forgotten before?” Dad looked confused.
       I turned to Dad sceptically. “Are you sure you locked the car, Dad?”
       Then he glared at me. “Go ahead, insult your poor old Dad.”
       I glared back at him. “You forget to lock the front door sometimes.” I shook my head. “Mum, the fact that your car was stolen doesn’t mean Dad forgot to lock it. To be honest, your hovercar is so old that if someone wanted to steal it, and Nova knows why, it wouldn’t matter if it was locked.”
       I cringed and waited for the snap but Mum had finally run out of energy. She flopped in front of the TV flipped it to Criminal Dragons’ Minds. Dad and I breathed a sigh of relief, and I quickly got on with what I came here for.
       “I came round to tell you both something important.” Deep breath. “I’ve decided to go back to uni.”
       They both stared at me. Really stared.
       “But you’ve already been.” Mum said blankly.
       “I know. That’s why I said ‘back’.” I said pointedly, then winced when she gave me a warning look for my ‘tone’.
       “You can’t afford it.” Dad said flatly.
       I hesitated. I’d been putting off telling them that I’d won the lottery for several weeks. Even what little they had they squandered on household ornaments, new toys for Rabbit (the family cat) and luxury items I wasn’t supposed to know about. It’s not that I want my parents to live in poverty – obviously – but I also didn’t want them to spend it all reliving their glory days.
       “Yes,” Mum said loudly, “You definitely can’t afford it. I won’t have you stripping to pay your way through uni.”
       I frowned. “I don’t understand why that was the first conclusion you jumped to.” I could hear Rabbit in the next room hissing at something. Probably the air. Or his reflection in the mirror.
       “So what, you got the money?” Dad said casually, but I felt the atmosphere change.
       “I may have a bit,” I said with difficulty, but I could already see their eyes go round and glisten, like an anime character that’s just been told they’re cute. I backed away, slowly.
       “How much?” my Mum said, leaping to her feet.
       “Just enough – bye!” I gabbled and made a break for it. I heard my parents scramble after me.
       “Oh, be nice to your old poor parents, love!” Dad called but Mum didn’t bother with the fake niceness - the lightning whip just missed my head, instead hitting the doorframe and set it on fire. I flew down the driveway, screaming that my parents were trying to kill me for my money. And my neighbours glanced over with little interest, then went back to scanning the sky for dragons, or playing on their handheld Basilisk XL, or hailing down a hoverbus from their front garden. They must have thought; ‘Another day at the Willesden residence.’

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t work for, date or insult a sorcerer, but let’s start with the most obvious. Their purpose in life is to prove how agonisingly mundane and insignificant everybody else is. To find a sorcerer that isn’t patronising is like finding a golden unicorn with wings, which actually I did find last summer when I dropped my cough medicine by mistake. How about that! Golden unicorns like red Skittles.
But, I did end up working for a sorcerer. It’s a long story actually...

The choice of whether to take the hoverbus or the turbotrain home is a question of whether you would prefer to puke or pass out. If the stomach-turner is the one you prefer, buy yourself a bus pass. If you’d rather the mind-melter, get a train ticket. I personally value all of my digestive and cognitive functions, so I walk. It takes me two hours, but I don’t mind. It solves my insomnia problem; I’m so exhausted by the time I get home, I flop into bed and fall straight asleep.
       But when I reached my flat after visiting my parents, I saw a car that shouldn’t have been parked outside my flat. However, it was. Parked outside my flat. The car. To clarify, we are still talking about the car. I’m sorry. I’m just tired.
       I looked around, then up at my window to make sure Nana wasn’t watching. Then I ran to the car. “No, no, no, you can’t be here!” I hissed.
       Noah jumped out of the car. “Where the hell have you been?” he snapped, “I’ve had an emergency alert up for four hours. My secretary, the main receptionist, and all three of my PAs are out looking for you.”
       “I’m your secretary, and I left work five hours ago! I said bye when my shift ended! You waved!” I growled back. He rubbed his eyes. He looked a little drained. “I went to my parents’. You’re here bitching at me like I’ve done something wrong.”
       “Well, it doesn’t matter now – we need you back at the lab office now, you can sleep on the way there. We all left a little after you, but I got the alert just before I got home. Get in.” He said firmly and opened the door for me. I made a sound that was halfway between a moan and a cry.
       “It’s not fair! I’m so tired. I pay my taxes; why should I be deprived of one evening where I can watch Desperate Witches and eat Doritos on a bowl of from my tummy?”
       “Oh, grow up.” he said with disgust and slammed the door. As he walked around, I flipped him the finger for being mean and then giggled smugly to myself. But then, out of the corner of my eye, Nana came running. I was amazed. How did she know? Her eyes and ears never missed a trick. seeing as she was a private investigator for the Novapol government, I wasn’t surprised.
       “Oh no. You are not taking her again, she’s just got back from work. Hey!” she yelled, sprinting over in her black leather jacket and jeans. “You’d better not be ignoring me, Mr Tight Arse!”
       I love Nana. She’s fierce, pessimistic,  When I met her, she refused to tell me her name and she still does. I call her Nana because she’s like a ninety-nine year-old trapped in a twenty-nine year old’s body; at heart she’s an old woman who’s lived for so long, she resents everything about life and human nature.
       Noah paused, looked her over and sneered, “Let’s make a deal, Ms Hammer. I’ll let you do your job, and I’ll do mine. Otherwise, things could get very ugly.”
       A cold laugh ripped from Nana’s throat as she approached him and balled her fists. “Let’s dance, skinny. I want to see those pearly whites fall out.”
       I rolled down the window hastily. “Nana, please! I’ll be back in time for dinner, Noah will drive me back. Okay? Promise-promise-promise.”
       She gave him a dark look with her dark, slanted eyes. Finally her pride allowed her to give a strained nod and step back. Noah smirked and got in the car.
       “You shouldn’t attack people who earn twice as much as you do, Ms Hammer.” he called through my window, and kicked the car into full speed as she roared and lunged, but ended up standing in a cloud of green smoke. I tutted and rolled my eyes at them both – my boss and my best friend, scratching at it other like kittens. I think deep down, they liked it. A minute later my phone began to ring.
       “Why does he keep calling me Ms Hammer?” Nana said with confusion.
       Oops. I told him her name was Nana Hammer because he kept insisting to know her name. ‘You live with her – how can you not know?’ he said scathingly. So I made something up. Then I forgot to tell her.
       “Er... no idea.” I said promptly and hung up.
       When we reached Novapol International Research Facility and Laboratory, at least ten people waited outside for Noah. That was when, for the first time, the tiredness left me and I was fully awake. Normally, his dogs and underlings waited at the doors of the lift on the third floor, where we work. They’d bark and yip at him when he got out. For them to wait outside the building meant something was very wrong.
       “Mr Franklin!” one woman screamed even before he’d finished getting out of the car. “Where have you been?
       “The Director here and wants to speak to you personally, sir!”
       “We’ve taken some very heavy losses, Noah. The entire dragons facility on the third floor is demolished.” one man said gravely.
       “What message should I take to the Director?”
       “Sir, you’re very late.” stressed the first woman, and glanced at me. “It’s not strictly necessary to have her present. She could have been informed later.”
       He stopped to look her up and down as he did to Nana, but this time he was confused. “I’m sorry, you are my...?”
       “I’m Aranisha, sir. Your accountant.”
       “Oh.” he said, his expression clearing. “So I don’t pay you to give me that sort of information.”
       She blushed fully but got the point loud and clear, and fell silent. She gave me a dirty look like it was somehow my fault. I hurried up behind Noah, and the moment I held my arms out my assistant Oliver dumped a pile of folders into it. I felt secretly proud that Noah had thought I was important enough and busy enough to have my own junior PA.
       “How bad is it?” I demanded.
       Oliver hesitated, his hand brushing his hair and resting on his small black ponytail. He was swaying on his feet with exhaustion. “Let me put it this way. None of us are going to be in a permanent office for quite some time, because everything in your arms is all that’s left of it.”
       I stopped walking. My heart dropped out of my ribcage and I don’t know where it went. “My office is destroyed?” I whispered. I looked up at the impressive white building, then back at him.
Slowly, he nodded. He looked embarrassed, like he didn’t know how or if he should console me. Then he held open the main doors for me, it was a moment before I followed him in. “Three dragons got out, and I heard they were sick or something because they –”
       Noah turned around in the lift, saw how slow I was walking, and caught the doors. “What’s the hold up?” he demanded.
       “My office,” I said stupidly. “It’s –”
       “A pile of ash and somebody else’s problem now.” Noah said bluntly. “We have work to do. Years worth of documentation to retype, rescan, reorder...”
       He suddenly stopped and ran a hand over his face with a deep sigh. I could see then how tired he was too. I wondered how long head been up. I’d worked all through the night, which was why I was so tired. But it was worth it – the project we worked on was about a newly discovered creature, very rare, and I was one of the few entrusted to know about it. The feline creature had bonded with Noah and hummed a steady, gentle melody whenever he walked by. It had awed my entire department so much that we were willing to stay to observe and document it. I’d spent hours typing up the reports of our progress. But those reports had been...
       I closed my eyes with horror. They’d been in my office.
       Noah came back and guided me toward the lift by my shoulders. “I don’t want you to think about that, it’ll drive you mad. We need to take one thing at a time. First, we should see what’s left of the office.”
       We took the lift up, the twelve of us standing uncomfortably close, and when the doors opened on floor three a dark blue smoke gushed in. Coughing, we stumbled out of the lift and stared around in utter amazement.
       I don’t know if you know anything about dragon fire, but I’ve studied them with fascination since I was a little girl. Different sub-species breathe different types of fire, and the types we had at the lab were Sapphire dragons, quite uncommon. They usually live in caves and valleys between mountains. Their fire was a deep rich blue, and as it burned everything nearby to ash it would also leave a sparkling crystalline residue.  So we stared around at our demolished office, now a cavern of glittering blue crystals.
       “Beautiful.” I murmured, and touched the nearest shard with a smile. Noah grunted, unimpressed.
       “Yeah, gorgeous.” he said sarcastically, “But I’d rather have my office back, thanks.”
       The five scientists of our department were already there, acting as a clean-up crew and making delighted squeals at new finds, like little children. They wore bright white and yellow suits and each had a thermometer in their mouth. When they heard us enter, they took their time to amble over like unsteady deer.
       “Hi,” Noah said blankly, “My entire department has been destroyed, including your laboratory. Please tell me why exactly you’re all grinning like idiots...?”
       “Hi!” said one of the older men with glasses and a light stubble. I think his name was Ash or Aston or As... something. “Which one of you is Noah Franklin?”
       All of us were a bit too stunned to speak. We knew the scientists didn’t focus on much beside their work, but it was pretty amazing they didn’t know who made sure they got paid.
       “Which one do you think?” Noah said, weariness now turning into anger. “The one who’s trying to get some fucking answers!”
       I took that as my cue to swiftly step in. “Hi Ash,” I said brightly, hoping to God I got his name right, “If you’ve made an analysis, it’s alright to say in front of us; we all work in this department.”
       That seemed to do the trick; he smiled at me. “It’s not so much of an analysis as it is a....” The man scratched his head, and then impatiently tugged on Noah’s arm and led him further down the huge room, where the glass wall between the office and the lab would have been. In the meanwhile, we all drifted about to make sure there was nothing left to be saved. I went straight to my little box office and stared at the ruin. Oliver trailed behind nervously.
       “How were you even able to save these folders?” I asked.
       “Actually...” Oliver suddenly looked sheepish. “I had them with me in the company restaurant when the dragons started breathing fire everywhere.”
       “You had paperwork out of the office?!” I bellowed, but the way he cringed away was so pitiful that I couldn’t stay mad at him. “Don’t do it again.” I warned him. I caught a glimpse of something encased behind the shining blue crystal in the corner. I went to prize it off, and the smell was so sweet and heavenly, I was very tempted to eat this possibly toxic or poisonous crystal.
       “Ellen.” Oliver muttered. I picked up the object. It seemed to be a small green stone, but it didn’t feel like stone. “Ellen.
       “Hm?” I glanced over as I pocketed it. The other members of the department team were casually breaking off tiny chunks of the crystal and slipping them into their bags and briefcases. I was confused when Oliver showed me the two small chunks under his jacket.
       “Do you know how much this stuff is worth?” he whispered.
       “Probably less, now that everybody has a piece.” I said wryly.
       “Well this is your chance. They’ll probably add it to the lab downstairs for rare items.”
       “Actually,” Noah said, appearing beside us. “It’s likely a large portion of it will be sold to museums to help pay to repair the damage done to this department. That’s why everybody here,” he raised his voice, “- is forbidden to take any. Is that understood?”
       Everybody froze and innocently nodded. I saw hands causally slide into trouser and jacket pockets. Maybe I could give some to my vulture parents and keep them off my back for a while. They seriously needed a holiday. Or maybe I could use it as a savings account. I’ve never really had one. Then – I knew what I wanted it for.
       I quietly broke off a thumb-sized chunk just as the director of the company strode into our department, sunglasses on and brown hair slicked back, seemingly oblivious of the smoke that choked the rest of us. My heart stopped – the Director was looking in my direction. Did I give myself away? Inwardly, I panicked. Noah saw his boss and went over. As they began to talk, he paused to look at the rest of us.
       “Unless you can see anything to be salvaged, I don’t think there’s anything left to be gained today. You can all go.” he said.
       In my tiredness, a very unreasonable fury settled over me, like a cowl of fire. So, he drove me here like a maniac to take a look around? Oliver must’ve seen how angry I was on my face because he silently, tactfully, headed for the lift with everybody else.
       “Wait. Not you, Ellen. Come here.”
       As I walked over, I tried not to make my surprise and discomfort obvious – I really couldn’t tell if the director was a woman or a man. The stern mouth, squarer jaw and block-like physique was very male, if then this male had quite a waist and shapely legs. The androgynous appearance really made me confused and flustered, so I decided to go with ‘she’ to make myself feel better. She removed her sunglasses and gave me a chilling look with glassy grey eyes.
       “This is Miss Willesden!”
       It wasn’t a question, but it felt rude to stay silent so I gave a tired smile. “That’s me. Hello.”
       The director nodded. “I have observed this department once or twice. Noah tells me you have a strong work ethic and take pride in your work for our company.”
       I couldn’t help but feel flattered. Noah was smiling.
       “I’d not have your talents wasted redoing work here, so you will temporarily be moved to the fifth floor. Your junior assistant will take your place in this department until it is running smoothly again.”
       A promotion? I was getting unreasonably excited.
       “Hang on,” Noah said, and I felt a flash of irritation. Be quiet, man! Let me get promoted.
       “She’s being moved? Ellen is the only one who knows this place inside out.”
       Oh. I struggled between a modest and a proud expression.
       “The only one?” she said pointedly.
       “Y-e-s,” he said hotly, as slowly as if he was speaking to a very dumb child. “That’s how our team works. Her co-workers know they can go to Ellen to find something quickly, which saves them valuable time. ”
       “She had an assistant, yes?”
       Noah saw where the trail led but was reluctant to follow. “Yes, but...”
       “Then I must assume that if this assistant is at all competent, his knowledge is almost as good as hers. That will suffice, until this floor is repaired.” Her eyes were suddenly very hard. I cowed under that gaze, and expected Noah to as well, but he just stared coolly back at her.
       “I understand. In that case my question should be – how long until this floor is fully repaired?”
       The director shrugged. “The smoke from the dragons clings to everything in here. It’s safe for us, but if we brought the other creatures back in, they would die in this atmosphere. Your scientists have suggested a solution that would take seven months, but I’d make it nine to be safe.”
       “Nine months?! We’re the most advanced laboratory in this entire nation. Don’t tell me we can’t do better than that.”
       “We can’t.” she said coldly. “Bite, chew, swallow.”
       She turned and made to leave, before another thought entered her head. “Oh! I meant to say, Miss Willesden. You’ll be the secretary of our new in-house sorcerer, and he’ll be with us from next Monday. He’ll be on the eighth floor. Any problems?”
       “N-no,” I stammered, “It’s just weird to start completely from scratch and built up a system again. I’m used to picking up where I left off.”
       Her lips curled into a very patronising smile. “If you’re as good as Noah said you were, that shouldn’t be a problem.” She walked to the lift an called over her shoulder, “Nine o’clock, Monday.”
       We waited until she was gone and we were left with our yabbering scientists to exhale. “What a bitch,” I said bitterly.
       He gave a dark laugh. “Bite, chew, swallow.”
       “What does that even mean?”
       “It can mean ‘shut up and deal with it’, but in this case it means, ‘I hate you.’ ”
       “Is it a ‘she’?” I asked suddenly, then felt embarrassed at calling the director an ‘it’.
       “I have no idea.” He looked at me, is face twisted into something both awkward and sad. “It’s going to be strange not having you to support the team.” he said softly. “I like Olly, but he can be a bit of a dunce.”
       I smiled at him. “He copes with pressure much better than I do. He’ll do fine.” I glanced around, lowering my voice as I said, “What happened to the dragons? What did the scientists find?”
       Noah took out a small green stone identical to the one I found. “First of all, they found this. It isn’t dragon-scale, so they think perhaps another creature was in here but they don’t really know for sure what happened. The strange cat we kept here has escaped. And the dragons... it’s really odd they fell sick just like that. But they were becoming more vicious and there’s no cure that any dragon researcher knows of, so –”
       “They were put down.” I said quietly, a strange sorrow creeping into my heart. We were silent for a moment. Noah tiled his head.
       “I kept meaning to ask... why did you want to know my birthday?”
       “Birthdate,” I said, managing a small grin. “I didn’t tell you? I won the lottery.”
       His surprise made me laugh with even more relish. “How much?”
       “Fifty-thousand coopas.”
       He gave a low whistle. “Bloody Bobby. You’d better be saving a cut of that for me.”
       “Hell no. I also used my parents birthday, Oliver’s birthday and Nana’s birthday, and I’m not giving them any money.”
       He laughed. “Ouch! Cold.”
       “What? You don’t own that number. Don’t try and get a patent for it." I snorted. "Anyway... I wanted it to pay my university fee.”
       It took him a moment to get it. “You’re going back?” He looked more confused than my parents.
       I fiddled with my hands anxiously. “I’ve been a secretary for three years. That’s not putting my Supernatural Species degree to good use.”
       “You’re working in a lab...?” he suggested but I shook my head.
       “You know what will double my income? Learning how to use magic.”
       He was silent for a long time. A long time.
       “Just tell me – yes, that’s a great idea, go for it.” I said hopefully.
       He gave me a sceptical look. “Do you know how many people die each year from using magic?”
       I twisted my mouth in fearful anticipation. “How many?”
       Suddenly he grinned. “None. Go for it, Ell.”
       I laughed, feeling so relieved. I wanted at least one person to support me – no luck with mum, Dad or Nana. “Really? Death rates are that low?”
       “Yes, but only because ten percent of those who apply get in, and ten percent of those who get in graduate.”
       I stared in shock. “So only one percent of everyone who applies... actually becomes a magic-user? Holy Molly.” I glanced over when the lift chimed. Oliver got out and headed our way. “Why does nobody ever use the stairs? It’s only three floors.” I muttered.
       “Hi Ellen. Just wanted to say... your friend’s outside in her car. She told me to come and get you. She has long black hair and she swears a lot.”
       Nana. Noah rolled his eyes but I knew it was time for me to go. I was so tired, I didn’t know how I was still standing up. “We’ll... keep in touch, or something. Nine months isn’t that long when you think about it. And... thanks for saying what I needed to hear.”
       The smile he gave me then was so disarming because I’d usually seen work, work, work, stress, stress, stress. “Anytime.”


Ashana Lian .
created 11 February 2015

Read On

Chapter Two - A Clever New Best Friend and A DRAGON UP CLOSE!
Chapter Three - Faux Coffee With Graduates and Illegal Dragons Eggs
Chapter Four - An Old Boyfriend and Dragon Murderers
Chapter Five - A Dinner Date and A Month of Horror
Chapter Six - TBA
Chapter Seven - TBA
Chapter Eight - TBA
Chapter Nine - TBA
Chapter Ten - TBA

read something else -

Thursday, 19 February 2015

New and Improved Weekly Feature: FICTION FRIDAY

Welcome to the new and improved Fiction Friday, the feature that showcases the work of budding authors! This is a feature I have run on this blog since last year, only now it has become a weekly link-up.  My only request is that if you take part, link back to this blog so that the network of writer-bloggers can grow.  You simply post a bit of fiction, use the above banner in your post, and then add your link to the link-up widget! It’s a great way to discover new bloggers (who may become authors in the near future. =D)

You can participate in one of two ways. First Option: you can share a snippet. The snippet can be any length, but between 500-2000 words is pretty good because it’s a satisfying amount to read in one go, and not too long. Also, if your readers get engrossed, they’ll come back for more!

Second option: answer a question about whatever it is you are writing. This option is only for if you don’t have anything ready to share yet or you are uncomfortable sharing your actual work. That’s perfectly fine, but do the First Option if you can because it builds your fan base, increases your confidence, and allows others to give you constructive criticism. It also lets us avid penniless book readers read something for free. Whoo! :3

Upcoming Second Option Fiction Friday Questions:

3 April 2015 What were your inspirations for this story?
10 April 2015 – What is the biggest catastrophe that takes place in your story?
17 April 2015 – What is the relationship between your main character and their parents?
24 April 2015 – What is the primary romance in your story?
1 May 2015 – Who is the villain in your story?
8 May 2015 – Who is the youngest character in your story?
15 May 2015 – Who is the oldest living relative of your main character?
22 May 2015 – Who does your main character respect or admire the most?
5 June 2015 – How did your main character’s parents get together?
12 June 2015 – Assuming your main character likes reading, what would be their favourite book?
19 June 2015 – What is the moral of your story?
26 June 2015 – Who was your main character’s first love (and did it last)?
3 July 2015 – Where would your character go on summer holiday, and who with?
10 July 2015 – Why is your main character the most important person in your story?
17 July 2015 – Can you share a quote that describes your feelings while writing your story?
24 July 2015 – How did you decide on names for your characters?
31 July 2015 – Are there any important animals in your story? Tell us about them.
7 August 2015 – How does your novel fit into its genre? (ie. What makes it a fantasy novel?)
14 August 2015 – What subject most interests your main character?
21 August 2015 – What object (such as an accessory, weapon or charm) would your main character never be without?
28 August 2015 – What does your character look like?
4 September 2015 – What is your main character’s habits?
11 September 2015 – How long have you been writing your novel?
18 September 2015 – Where is your character’s favourite place to be?
25 September 2015 – Where is YOUR favourite place to write your novel?

Past Second Option Questions:
2. 27 February 2015 – What is the strongest friendship in your story?
3. 6 March 2015 – Where is your story set?
4. 13 March 2015 – Has your main character ever done something they were ashamed of?
5. 20 March 2015 – Does your main character have any siblings? Tell us about them.
6. 27 March 2015 – What are your main character’s weaknesses?

Ashana Lian .

I'm very excited to discover new bloggers and authors-to-be. =D If you have any questions for me, you can contact me on TwitterGoodreads, or using the form in the footer.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


Please do me a favour and read the below blurb.
When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago. 
When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell's life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties - the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.
What the heck is going on?

That blurb is from a book called Vendetta. It caught my eye on Goodreads because I had a story (Well, strictly speaking it was a "fanfic") called Vendetta that I wrote years ago. Interestingly enough, it was also about warring families, but let's not stop there. Because the fanfic was based on a boyband of five brothers, the main family in the story had five brothers.

First I was staring my my screen like:

But then I thought about my old story, really thought. To be honest, it's not the most unique story in the world. I don't even regard it as an accomplishment; it's just the coincidence of the five brothers that threw me. However, it's not the first time I've read a synopsis and my jaw has slowly dropped. And then I remembered the writer's dilemma...


Are there any original ideas left?

Apparently... no. So then, why do we write? Why do we struggle to discover, both in writing and reading, our perfect story?

There are only like, 10 stories in the world. Some say 8. Some say 20. The number isn't as important as the fact that the point is there are limited ideas. But are there? Accepting that is kind of dismissing all the times we've read a story and fallen in love with it. If it was unoriginal, it wouldn't have that effect on us.

So... we've been lied to?

Even though the base idea may be the same, what makes us FEEL like the story is fresh is the elements the author throws in to convinces us that we haven't read this Avenge-My-Father or Girl-Meets-Boy story a hundred times before. The exact recipe the authors uses, of character, setting, and plot determines whether or not they'll forge a story that'll stick in your mind.

Anybody can make a fruit cake. But it's the way my grandma makes her fruit cake that makes it unlike any I've ever tasted, and the memory of it outlasts the rich flavour in my mouth. Woah-hoa, I haven't even told you guys that story! Well anyway, that's for another time.

But it huuuurts.

I know, baby. There there. *pats shoulder.* In my very first post on this blog, I talked about ideas of mine that were strikingly similar to other ideas. At the time, I felt really down about it. But now I see those ideas were simply weak. Besides, that same idea has evolved WAY past that thing I thought it was like. It just needed time to mature.

So how do I make my idea original?

There's a book my eldest sister had called Structuring Your Novel - she said it was brilliant and that it really helped her. I did an exercise in it myself that got me to narrow down precisely what story I was telling. But before that, I would ask myself some brutal questions.


You need to figure out what genre it is, then find out if something similar is already out there. If you don't know because you don't know the genre, you should be reading it. You should be IMMERSING yourself in it. It's very insulting to the fans of that genre if you don't do your research. This is why so many fantasy fans despise writers who believe fantasy is 'easy' and write something we've all read before.

But say you do know the genre, and you can't think of anything similar to your work... well great! This is where a blog comes in handy. If you pose the question in your post after your synopsis, your fans and readers will tell you if it sounds like something else.


My first novel Karalan's Legacy is set into motion by Karalan coming back from the dead. Many stories feature resurrection, but few of them do so from the POV of the corpse. That's why I felt it was interesting enough to built a 200k+ story around (if you didn't get that joke, see my other post).

If the reader will expect it, how can you surprise them? How can you shake their beleifs down to the foundations? How can you make it a story that'll stick in their mind forever?

'What If' is a powerful tool for shaping your work. It gets us to move slightly away from our natural inhibition and write something that's a surprise both to us and the reader. The ending of the epic fantasy Tigana left me amazed, horrified and dismayed. I didn't like it because it didn't satisfy me or provide closure for some of the sub-plots - that's the danger of surprising the reader too much. But there is no denying that I will never forget that ending.


This is how most of my stories come into creation. Girl discovers magic. Cats can sense supernatural creatures. The world is about to end. Nothing special. But what if the girl discovered magic BECAUSE her cat sensed a supernatural creature BECAUSE the world's about to end?

Well, then you have my story The Cats and The Keys, for which you can find the Pinterest Board Here.

The great thing about this method is that the stories aren't always a perfect fit, which means I have to employ some logic and fiddle around with them until they fit seamlessly. What I end up with is always better than what I had before, and by that point it's so unusual and unique, the chances of anything being strikingly similar is unlikely.

Well... good luck!!
Fiction Friday is back!

After some thinking, I have decided to post a short series. It will be urban fantasy and if I do it right, about 15 short chapters. Rating is probably...  at least 13+ (minor swearing). I'll post it on my blog (and possibly Wattpad) every Friday, beginning with this Friday.

But now I have a question for you. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN THE STORY?

If you'd like to apply for this Cast Call, leave your character's name, age, talent or superpower, 2 physical traits, and 3 personality traits. I may not use all of it, but it'll help. This feels so weird! I haven't done one of these in ages. Still, it'll be fun! To apply, you can comment, use the form, or pm me on Twitter or Goodreads.

Ashana Lian .

Click for other Writer's Tools and Tips posts.
I also have an incredibly useful Writing Tips Pinterest board (ways of saying 'said' and somesuch).

Have you ever come across a book or any story in any media, that was unnervingly similar to something you created? Do you agree with the argument that there are "no new ideas left?" Just curious. =/

Thursday, 12 February 2015

My Fantasy Artwork Start-To-Finish In Pictures

An Experimental Superhero Sketch in Images:
Because it's much easier to appreciate how much work went into something when you see how it started out. (In my case, disproportionate and illogical.)

Today I'm linking up with Tabitha at Not Yet Read!

1. Original Sketch
2. Trace
3. First Copy
4. B&W First Look
5. Tracing Again On Makeshift Lightbox
6. First Dabbles In Colour
7. Some Rouge And Matilda's Ribbon (joking)
8. Keeping My Pencils Sharp With A Burger Sharpener.
9. Quick Look
10. Another Portrait (Getting A Bit Blotchy...)
11. Sketching Dark Anti-Energy Ball
12. Testing Yellows
13. Finished Light Spear
14. Traced Leaf, Finished 'Big A' Insignia
15. Begin Energy Stream
16. Rainbow Pencil!
17. Testing Out Energy Stream Colours.
18. Defining Dark Anti-Energy Ball
19. Left Arm
20. Right Arm
21. Colour Leaves
22. Final Close-up (I don't like the face anymore. It's messed up.)
23. And Voila.
24. -

I liked this experimental piece, despite not knowing what the hell I was doing. I guess I wanted to see what I could really do with colouring pencils. Better than I thought, but still a long way to go.

Also, it looked way better in partial colour. Second nicest was black and white. I actually like it LESS now the whole thing is in colour. Oh well. You live and you learn.

Ashana Lian .

I've got one or two doodles up on Pinterest and Deviant Art.
I need to draw more often! My skills really need some work.

TALK TO ME, CREATIVES! Have you drawn or made something lately? Or written something c: Tell me about it below. I reply!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Ultimatum: Read or Die

I must imagine: 
- I'm very ill and reading is the only cure
- The world is overrun by zombies and the only way to repel them is to read
- I'm stuck in the Cube/school/dystopian universe/Twilight/other horrifying destination and the only way to escape is through the portal that is a good book.
It's pretty much what I've going to have to do to get out of this reading slump. I'll tell myself, "If you don't read this book, you're going to have to run ten laps around the park." And I wouldn't survive such a trial. So I pick up a book.

(1/5Book Haul

This post will be about a bunch of stuff. First and foremost... I'M BROKE, YAY!!! My library and I are the best of friends again. I went straight to the fantasy and sci-fi section and tried to drag the whole shelf out but they wouldn't let me. So I grumpily settled for the measly 15 my library card allows me. (I'm joking. Fifteen books is a FEAST!)

Haul: Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox; The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro; Exile and Sanctuary by Rowena Cory Daniells; The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss; The Republic Of Thieves by Scott Lynch; Discovery Of Witches and Shadow Of Night by Deborah Harkness.

I really want to buy some Doritos to eat while I read, but this junk eating needs to stop. >.<

(2/5I. Could. Not. Resist.

YOU ARE MY LOYAL READERS AND THEREFORE I SHALL NOT LIE. Despite my broke-ness, I did preorder some very very exciting books about to be dropped this year.. =D

- The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May: the sequel to The Falconer! CAN'T WAIT!

- Voyage Of The Basilisk by Marie Brennan: A Natural History Of Dragons (click for my review) was amazing. I just, asdfghjkl. I want it now.

- Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling: Isn't this her first non-fiction book ever...? I MUST HAVE IT!

- The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani: After falling in love with The School For Good And Evil (click here for my review) I will read ANYTHING Chainani writes. I will probably lose all sense of reason when this series ends.

(3/5Make Sure It's Not A Chore

As mentioned on my Goals for 2015 post, I aim to read at least 52 books this year, which you can follow on my Goodreads. I've come across some amazing challenges that can make reading that bit more fun!

I can do ten challenges in one year, right? Right?!

<< Bookish Bingo by the Great Imaginations

Authors A-Z Challenge by Tracee at I'm Shelf-ish

British Books Challenge by Michelle at Fluttering Butterflies

Debut Author Challenge by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl

(4/5) 2015 Reading Challenges Entry Post x3!!

Long overdue! I'll be checking in with those who signed up this week to find out where you're at. I have a cute group of four so far! Very cosy. Group hug! *hugs Mahima, Bridget, Bec and Alyssa*

There's still time to link up; you can literally tweet that you're joining in, link up the tweet, and begin. Simples! *makes cute meerkat face*

TBR Smash reading challenge - Post | Goodreads Group

My first five books!! 3 out of 5 are library books, which I think is a good strategy. I should also get round to books I borrowed from my sister but... meh.

1. The Fellowship Of The Ring (done)
2. Red Rising (done)
3. Dark Eden (done)
4. Two Towers (in progress)
5. Discovery of Witches

Trilogies and Series reading challenge - Post | Goodreads Group

Fun fact: LOTR is six books published in three volumes, not a trilogy! I did not know this. =D

1. Lord Of The Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch
3. The Outcast Chronicles by Rowena Cory Daniells
4. Legend Series by Marie Lu
5. The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

Under The Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi (recommended by Charnell from Reviews From A Bookworm) was originally on this list, but I wasn't very moved by the first one, so... yeh. Bleh. (sorry Charnell! I know you love the pants off the Rossi books.)

The Kingkiller Chronicles (by Patrick Rothfuss) I want to read so BAD, but the third book isn't out yet e_e

If you're not a fan of my challenge, you can also try the Prequel & Sequel Challenge by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat and Melissa at Writer Grrl Reads.

AL Fantasy reading challenge - Post | Goodreads Group

1. The Fellowship Of The Ring (done)
2. Astro City, Vol. 1: Life in the Big City comic (counts as half)
3. Under the Never Sky (counts as half)
4. Two Towers (in progress)
5. Discovery of Witches

Red Rising is technically sci-fi so it didn't count.

I'm trying to be clever about this, so I can complete several challenges at once. I'm limiting the books that I buy, so almost everything I read will be from my TBR, physical or virtual. After that, I just have to pick fantasy books that are part of a series, and I should be swimmin' through this!!

(5/5Coming Up Next:
FINALLY my header illustration post! One month overdue! Also some very overdue book reviews, some fantasy writing and reading tips, blogging tips, tags and awards, and pretty much ALL the things that should've been posted last year... Oh well, what're ya gonna do?

Ashana Lian .

I feel bad for forgetting to do updates! If I forget, you can also check my
Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and I recently made a Wattpad account!
(mainly to read Cait's novel. c: )

Have you bought, borrowed, won or pre-ordered any books so far this month? Are you doing any reading challenges? Leave a comment, and I'll reply!

Friday, 6 February 2015

My Fantasy Novel's 2nd Birthday Terrifies Me

My baby is going to be two years old. Which is wooonderful. ONLY.


So it's February. A month has already flown by of the new year and I can say for a fact, I haven't written as much as I hoped. Changing jobs is very stressful indeed. The two combined is making my depression a fair bit worse, and I've eaten so much junk, it's a wonder my skin hasn't broken out again.

Karalan and Silk (that's the Prince of Pearls, for those who remember) are in my thoughts all the time. When they support each other with their problems, especially with Karalan's depression, I remember how much I need to write this story. I finally added up all the word counts for the documents, and that had some pretty dismal results... and - oh shit, that reminds me...

Writing As An Alternative To Alcohol and Drugs - Just Get Drunk And High On It

What do people do to forget their problems? Drink? Drugs? Well I don't, but I do write like a maniac. It's great therapy, unless its your profession. When I've spent ages writing a good scene, I stumble into bed with a book like, 'I AM AWESOME.' And when I don't, I stumble into bed half-crying, 'I'M SO AWFUL!'

My goal for Karalan's Legacy/Out Of The Dust is 100k. Words, that is, not readers. (Though one hundred thousand readers... wow!) I finally did the maths. I have written, and no I am not shitting you: Two hundred and forty-eight thousand, four hundred and twenty-two words.


How could I have written that much, more than DOUBLE my goal, and it's not finished? What am I going to do?! This is terrible.

You may remember the post when I mentioned my biggest chapter being the introduction of the Prince of Pearls, which is 35 thousand words. It should really be thirty-five hundred, or something. I very badly want to finish this story so I can EDIT it already! No wonder I ended up starting a new one! Oh, by the way, I will do a post on Brilliance Of The Light soon. I also need to catch up on some tags and awards (thank you all c:) But first of all, and without further delay:

Beautiful People #6, part 2! These questions are for Karalan's Legacy/OOTD and examine Cassie and Jory, two of her companions.

The Questions

1. How long have they been a couple?
At the time when Karalan is resurrected, six years. They remain a couple throughout the story.

2. How did they first meet?
After escaping her stifling hometown and the scrutiny of her parents, Cassie ended up voyaging with Bicher Bikers until she ended up on Xivi Island. Jory had remained at the House Of Nocsaare after Karalan died there. The House of Nocsaare is thought to belong to Ankou, the personification of Death, so it wasn't the most romantic place to meet.

3. What were their first thoughts of each other?
Due to the trauma of Karalan's death and the endless stream of fighting afterwards to prevent her body being moved, Jory is quite broken and doesn't notice Cassie much. But Cassie was drawn to him immediately, and her first thought was, 'I've never seen someone look so sad.'

4. What do they do that most annoys each other?
Fast forward - Karalan has returned to life and they are now on the mainland with Dim. It annoys Cassie that Jory can be emotionally numb a lot of the time, but is able to feel annoyed or affectionate towards Karalan. It annoys Jory when Cassie tells the Prince of Pearls and the crew of his ship things about their personal life.

5. Are their personalities opposite or similar?
Opposite. Jory is always the same; calm, mature and rational. Cassie is dynamic, high energy, charming and alluring, but the maternal part of her is happy to settle and be at peace living her life at Jory's side.

6. How would their lives be different without each other?
Cassie would have kept adventuring, and as she was dating a series of destructive boyfriends she probably would have continued doing that. Jory would have left Xivi island eventually, but much later in life. They would each have found a way to be happy, but they never would've known the serenity they would've found with each other.

7. Are they ever embarrassed of each other?
Cassie is never embarrassed of Jory, but Jory can get embarrassed at the moment when Cassie tells their friends priate things!

8. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?
Nope, not in this story. Secretly, most of the other characters are as envious of their happiness as much as they are happy for them. Oh wait sorry, Cassie's parents would disapprove if they knew, but they don't. c:

9. Do they see their relationship as long-term/leading to marriage?
In this fantasy world, a marriage needs seven people and a sentinel (or several) present. Cassie and Jory are cut off from all family, and the sentinels are extinct by the time the story begins. The modern world does marriage ceremonies in a new way, but as they were already in a long-term relationship, they saw no reason to marry when they could simply continue what they were doing. They are regarded as if they are already married.

10. If they could plan the “perfect outing” together, where would they go?
Cassie would want to go somewhere that reminded her of their home of Xivi island and Jory would want to go somewhere that reminded him of Bless'd Bay - so they would stay by the sea.


I've already joined the link-up in my other post, so to find out more about Beautiful Books, how to link-up, or about my new WIP Brilliance Of The Light, click this link.

Ashana Lian .
WIP: Karalan's Legacy/OOTD
WIP: Brilliance Of The Light

Are you writing something at the moment? Have you reached an anniversary, and how did you feel about it? If you're not writing, what are you reading? Do comment! I reply.

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