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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'.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Paperbacks, Sketchpads, Diaries and Notebooks (+ Fiction Friday!)

Yesterday was indeed a Good Friday. *waggles eyebrows* (see what I did there.)

Why? I finally, FINALLY, FINALLY sat down to write my novel. This May is the second birthday of Karalan's Legacy aka OOTD, and it must must must be finished, because I need to be able to start editing. It is the one thing I am solely devoted to right now.

Well, my luverly readers! It has been a HELL of a month! Where shall I start?

New Job

I'm loving my new job, although it's weird not to work with books and have knowledge of what is current and popular. Probably a good thing - my TBR is still appalling.


This month, I have been able to get out of my reading slump by reading to and from work, which is an hour journey each way. That way I got to read SteelheartAll The Bright Places, Vicious, The Sin Eater's Daughter, and now I'm onto The Lies of Locke Lamora which I bought last July. Finally! I'm so pleased.

To the right is my library books that I still need get round to. Underneath are the books I bought at Fantasy In The Court last year that I also still need to read. But now it actually seems likely I will get round to reading them. My book buying ban has been going great - I'm surprised I was able to be this disciplined.


For those of you who remember, I'm studying the Japanese language. It's been bugging me lately that with changing jobs, I hadn't been able to practise properly, but the schedule I'm going to put together this weekend will mean I'll start practising again. YESSS. I have been learning for over a year already and I still can't say basic stuff because I rarely ever actually study. The only thing I want to do as much as finish my novel Karalan's Legacy book one is be able to speak Japanese fluently.

Pockets and Budgets

Since I've started my new job, my salary has taken a dip upwards. It's such a relief because now I can start saving to move out - plus, I can buy clothes from the Tall section, which can be slightly more expensive but at least they fit me.
I have some new smart clothes including some blazers. I realised with one of them that instead of being a false pocket - I HATE FALSE POCKETS - it's actually just sewn up. Imagine my surprise! I was so happy that my blazer has actual pockets, ten times more useful than a flipping fake pocket. My Mum reminded me that manufacturers would do that to make sure nothing was transported in the pocket. Huh. Never considered that before.


Aside from my novel and studying Japanese, another thing that's made me a bit miserable is how little I've been drawing. I never seem to find the time - which means my artistic ability never improves. My third most important goal is to draw again and that means a lot to me.

I have two sketchpads from paperchase, which are 100 sheets each. I liked that they have so many sheets - I can keep more of my drawings in one place. One is for Jade Rose only, an original children's fantasy character I created, and the other is for fantasy only. My other sketchbook is called Dragonera and that's for my old StarLit fantasy.


From my old forum days, one of my buddies Shaire (who has her own blog) inspired me to try my hand at writing lyrics. This was years ago, by the way. Her lyrics are so emotive and full of anguish and the last set of lyrics I'd written back then was for my music GCSE. My first attempts at lyrics were pretty embarrassing and dismal, but I became addicted to it - sometimes when I was depressed, the only thing I would ever feel like doing is going over my songs and writing new ones.

Now, I've gotten to the point where I'm so hooked on my own music that I feel doubtful I'll ever share it. Sometimes I'll write a song, hate it at first, then grow to like it as it improves. Sometimes I'll love it when I create it and later feel embarrassed. Some, I knew from the start I'd always love. Others were bad from the start and will be eternally laughable.

When I have a song stuck in my head for a while and I stop to notice it, I'll realise it's my own song. There comes a point where it doesn't feel like mine any more, which is always pretty cool. One in particular I end up singing a lot, one I wrote early this year called Where I'm Going, which perfectly summed up my feelings about wanting to go somewhere special and do something worthwhile, mean something, make a difference, yada yada, but not knowing where on earth I should start.


A few months ago, an old school friend who is living in Paris as a young nanny to two adorable twins sent me some music, one of which being Stromae, Tous les mêmes. I then found Papaoutai from my university friend Miss Lovely. After discovering Pentatonix version of Papaoutai, which inspired a revamp of my story Fury's Finest, I finally bought Stromae's album. There just something about it. I'm hooked.


Now I'm working full time, I have less time than ever before. It's been even more important to make use of the diary I bought at the end of last year from WHSmith. I use it to remember anything from work-related research, to tidying my room, to health routines, to household chores. I also forget to keep my water intake up, so I use it to see how much cups of tea or water I drink.


Heather from Sometimes I'm A Story has a series called Interview a Notebook, and I thought it was great because everybody knows how writers are about their precious notebooks. I do have special notebooks from when It All Began - these four A5 Oxford office pads with the smoothest white pages you ever felt. The red was first and holds all my snippets, unusual names, fleeting inspirations and ideas. The purple one came next for my sci-fi stories. The green one came next, mainly for Que$t. Then the blue, for the Become Her series, which I suppose would include Moon vs Lane.

I bought a new sketch pad from Rymans recently to use as an A4 blank notebook for the Fury's Finest revamp. That's is a story I made up in my early teens about vigilante groups - a fanfiction. Last month, I was listening to Love Me When You Leave and Papaoutai by Pentatonix, and that story came alive again. I need to write everything down before that initial kick fades. o_O


Every day when I walk to and from work, I listen to music. Every song unfolds a scene from any one of my in-progress stories, so I'm bursting with inspiration without the day without a chance to get anything down. Then I get home, dejected, exhausted, and go to bed.

Karalan's Legacy, Fury's Finest, Supe'd Up, and a new one called Queen Nasrin. For example, here's a song I discovered last week, a remix of Dear Boy. The original Dear Boy helped inspire the entire story of Supe'd Up in January 2014.


I have eaten so much JUNK since I've started working. I've had fast food from Sainsbury's and M&S, Nandos, McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Pret A Manger, EAT, Indian food from a place near my house, this lovely restaurant called Ishtar... I've had such a range. I get bored with food so much easier than I did before I started this new job. It's lack of time to cook, and also I've never been a great cook so I felt stumped sometimes as to WHAT to cook. I have been cleaning up my diet... I swear. Exercise though, I still haven't even plucked up the courage. It's becoming my mortal fear - to do ten minutes of exercise.


Specsavers can be so pushy, but I needed some new glasses so I went back. £150 for two pairs with anti-glare and thinning, I shit you not. They are very nice glasses. But I hope it's the last time I ever go back. The assistants there talk SO much garbage, it's unbelievable. They actually told me the fact that my eyesight had gotten worse is natural (what, degeneration is NATURAL? The body's natural process is to heal and regenerate.) despite the fact that that only happened when I wore glasses, and in the four years I stopped wearing them, my eyesight then remained the same. The lady who did my eye test told me that herself. And I was like, why are you refusing the see the glaringly obvious? Then I realise - oh yes. It's because if they admit glasses make my eyes worse, they'll lose business. Fiddlesticks.

More Music

Finally, I discovered Purity Ring a few weeks ago. Again, the music is so bizarre and haunting but before I knew it, I was listening every day until this week I finally bought it. =D I just adore it. Heartsigh, Bodyache, and Begin Again are my favourites.

Oh - the cupcake? It's a recipe of my sisters, the most delicious cupcake I've ever had. The sponge is soft but not crumbly - the chocolate on top is soft and the chocolate inside is CRUNCHY, believe it or not. OMG. It's so delicious. I call them Amararys. (Don't ask, it's a family joke.)

So yep, ate that in front of my laptop trying to catch up on blogs during this four week holiday! I hope to be chatting with all of you lovely bloggers soon. Have a great easter break.

Ashana Lian .


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 were your inspirations for this story?

To see past and future questions for the next few months and find out more about this feature, visit the main About Fiction Friday post. 
Note: I'm posting chapters of a fantasy short story for the next few Fiction Fridays, but there will be a little delay because of some pretty major changes in my life these past few weeks. Bear with me!


  1. Holy mama, you've been really busy, Ashana. But good for you for getting back to the novel despite it all!

    That's really cool that you're learning Japanese. How are you finding it so far? Is it tough to learn? I don't know anyone personally who has studied Japanese, so I'm curious.

    What do you think of the Rae Carson and Marie Lu series? I have Legend at home but haven't read it yet, and I've been meaning to check out The Girl Of Fire And Thorns (that's the title of the first book in Carson's series, right?).

    And those cupcakes. I know I already commented about them on Twitter, but... THOSE CUPCAKES. *drools*

    1. Thanks Sara. It had to happen sooner or later, it was driving me mad.

      I love Japanese. Once you understand the patterns of the written or spoken language, it's straightforward to learn as long as you practise regularly, if possible daily. But at the mo I'm not even practising weekly so I've forgotten a lot of stuff. It's not tougher to learn than any other language (I personally find it easier than French, French is my NEMESIS) provided you DO practise daily, and excepting the fact that when you read Japanese, you kind of have to translate twice in your mind - first from hiragana/katakana/kanji to romaji, then from romaji to english. The most you do it the less delay there is getting from the characters to english. Also, it's extremely important to practise speaking with a native Japanese speaker!

      Ooh I haven't read those yet, hoping to get the beginning of the series from the library and then read them all the way through. But they're sitting there on my TBR pile, staring expectantly at me, waiting to be read O_O

      I know *drool* I was supposed to be cutting out junk food on Friday but when my sister came round I was like "... just the one. =D" Aaand then I had three.

  2. Wow. Someone's been a busy bee.

    Learning a new language must be so difficult to do, so I applaud you for attempting to do so *overenthusiastic clapping*

    Those cupcakes make me hungry just LOOKING at them! *tries to grab cupcakes through screen*

    Good luck on your novel! :)

    1. I'm trying not to become really lazy! It's so tempting, especially when I feel overwhelmed. Just gotta push through ._.

      It's not actually that difficult, of course there are challenges, but I think what makes language learning hard for a lot of people is simply having the mentality that Learning Languages Is Hard. You just gotta change your mentality to Learning Languages Is Definitely Achievable. (Albeit Challenging.) XD

      I wholeheartedly agree. In the future I shall ban my sister from coming round when I'm trying to cut out junk food. e_e Thanks! About to write some more now.

  3. Busy, busy, busy! But I'm so glad to read a post from you - listening to Dear Boy (the remix) as I's so good. Avicii is SO good.
    Congrats on the new job! (Junk food is the way to go...I'm trying to cut back but exercise has me quaking in fear too XD)
    Ooh, what inspired you to learn Japanese?? My friend's currently studying it too - could it be that you're an anime junkie? I know I am. In fact I just finished watching Karneval yesterday and it has topped my list of top animes out there. It's a bit like your regular shoujo girly anime but it's darker and for an older generation me thinks. Karneval was so good (Yogi is my dream man) that I FORGOT about blogging yesterday. *facepalm*
    STROMAE. Oh my days - he is WONDERFUL. I looked into him last year after finishing up on French to, y'know, "sample" the culture and he is so good. Formidable is a massive one and so is Papaoutai of course. I don't like Tout les memes that much. Indila is another french artist who's getting popular and another guy that I like is Maitre Gims. He raps in French and it is SO cool.
    Purity Ring's OBEDEAR is the only track I've heard by them but they are promising (they're good for my weird moods...FKA Twigs is another growing favourite...but it's kinda creepy).

    1. Hey London buddy! Long time no read. How's exams?
      I KNOW. I didn't realise how much I adored Avicii's music until I heard the original Dear Boy. When you mentioned Formidable I started screaming at my laptop lmfao. That's probably my favourite song, it was was made me buy the album anyhow.

      ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Stop reading my mind in the past! e_e I really like Indila, I bought half of her album and Stromae's at the same time. But this post was getting long and I couldn't mention everything, heh. Dernière danse was how I heard of her, but actually she has better songs on her album like Ego and S.O.S. Omg thank you, I will check out Maitre Gims. Whoo new music!

      I'd never actually heard of Purity Ring until I stumbled across them in the Alt section of iTunes. Haven't heard Obedear but will have a listen. And thanks - it's always a relief to settle into a job you like after the gruelling process of finding it. The cupcake is starting to lose it's novelty on me now I keep remembering how sweet it was o_O it was veeery sweet.

      I think 99.9% of people who learn the Japanese language was addicted to anime at some point in their lives XD It comes with the territory, doesn't it?! To be honest, when i started learning I was more of anime junkie then. Now I'm trying to focus on fantasy lit so I watch less anime than I used to. this anime called 'K' is my favourite fantasy anime, and also Nabari No Ou. My friend keeps urging me to watch Free and Kuroko no Basuke, which got my little brother into playing basketball (only an anime would make him do exercise). And oh... I forget to blog every other day now. *facepalm*.


  4. Wow! Quite some long walk up the stairs you did. Keep climbing higher. Kindly visit

  5. WOW. This is a lot of update! First of all, thanks for the shout-out (:D :D :D) and wow to all the big things in your life! It's awesome that you're working and eating and making great food, and I feel your pain about the glasses. I want contacts so badly but noooo. The writing of lyrics and reading of books is also good. You go girl! :)

    1. Hi Heather! Well, you know how much I admired that notebook series. And I have SO. Many. Notebooks. O_O Yeah, there's been a lot going on... a friend reminded me not to stress myself out and that was some advice I really needed. What makes me nervous is treading the line between doing too much and completely laziness. It's kinda hard for me to just be balanced. c: Thank you dear cx

  6. OMG SO MUCH AWESOME IN THIS POST. I literally...gah. I don't even know what to comment on first. Okay YES I DO. Those cupcakes look divine. Like the queen of cupcakes really. *drools all over laptop* Ahem, 'scuse me. And yaaay that you're liking your new job. Money is always a bonus too. ;-) Food is delicious. I'm on a weird way of eating atm, that doesn't involve, well, grains and dairy and stuff, to try and help my mental health but GAH I MISS JUNK FOOD A LOT. I would kill for some chips. xD
    Those journals are sooo cool.
    And sewing pockets?! I have never heard of that. I don't think they do that in Australia! 0_0

    1. Hi Cait! It has been SO crazy lately, I just dunno how to cope with it all. Urghh >.<

      Agreed! I do consider my sister the queen of baked edibles in our house, heh. Caaait that's brilliant! It's not a weird way of eating at all. When I cut that stuff out of my diet my health improved so dramatically, I felt ashamed of how my diet had been before. O_O And my diet pretty bad right now so it's a priority that I introduce more clean stuff, veg in particular. I'm a bit better with fruit.

      Thanks for commenting!

  7. False pockets annoy me so much too! Like seriously, why would you even take the time to make a fake pocket if it's completely worthless anyway?

    Congrats on your job! I hope you're enjoying it. And I hope you get a bunch of your TBR list knocked off. Also, I find writing lyrics hard--so it's really cool that you enjoy it.

    And I know what you mean about eyesight getting worse with prescriptive lenses. Over the years, my eyes have begun to get better, which is really encouraging.

    Thanks for posting! And thanks for dropping by my blog ages ago; I'm sorry I didn't return the favor earlier.

    1. LOL I'm so glad SOMEBODY feels my pain on fake pockets. e_e It's clearly just a style thing, but what is the point? It's much more useful to have an actual pocket.

      Thanks! I've really been making progress with knocking things off my TBR. I used to find writing lyrics so hard as well. With fiction it was so easy, but I had no idea what I would want to sing about. So I started off writing these really crappy meaningless songs until I eventually found the knack of finding things worth singing about and weaving words on the subject. Now it's positively addictive.

      Ooo really? That's great, about your eyes. My eyesight got a lot better when my diet cleaned up and I wasn't straining them so much looking at computers. Now they're getting worse again. =/ Hey, no problemo! Thanks for visiting.

  8. Psst! I've nominated you for the Summer Bucket List Tag!

    1. Thank you Cindy! Apologies for the ((shameful) 15 Day) delay =/
      I'm going to do a bunch of tags in the next 6 weeks! that should get through all the ones I've been nominated for.

  9. Hey there!

    That's pretty dope that you got a new job. It's always nice to have some extra coins. I'm glad you like Stromae. He's pretty big in France right now. I didn't think anyone outside France and Belgium would know him since he speaks and sings in French. By the way, your pencils are all so cute.

    I remember a couple of years ago, I tried my hand at making lyrics. Oh god, I was so bad at it, I stopped as quickly as I started, lol. Can you sing as well or do you have a nice singing voice?

    1. Hi Sarah! (I keep thinking Carla in my head so it ends up something like 'Sair-Carle') Apologies for the delay. It's a long story, but check out my latest post for the short version. :3

      Interesting you should say so! I actually heard of Stromae from a close friend who's nannying in paris at the moment. But as I started telling other friends of mine, turns out they already knew of him. So I think he probably is quite popular here, just not being talked about as much as he should be! His album is great, I STILL have it on repeat.

      I'm not tone-deaf, if that's what you mean! But my voice isn't strong yet so I'm training it up. Not for performance or anything, just because I love walking around the house belting. It makes chores so much more bearable. XD

  10. Wow... you have been BUSY!!!! :) Feels nice to finally be back blogging and able to check in on my favourite blogs. I hope you know that I am now going to go check all the blazers I bought for my new job to see if those pockets are sewn up.... it has been bugging me that they were fake!!! :') Congrats on the new job, what are you doing now???!!!??? I'm still in libraries, but a college library that is essentially 99% non-fiction. I MISS FICTION :'( That's where most of my knowledge was. Plus I was an expert at our library management system. The new place uses a completely different one and it hurts me head a bit, haha.

    1. Yeah! lmao, I've been checking all my blazers as well, now! Some of them are, alas, pointless false pockets e_e Thanks indeedy - I'm an admin for a Chartered Surveyors. I still feel a bit surprised I got it. I'm pretty sure a lot of people applied, so every time I think about it the gratitude wells up again. :3

      I know what you mean. I do kinda miss knowing about the brand new fantasy books that came in from my old job, and I knew the old system inside out. Now I can be uncertain at times about the proper way to do things. My colleagues are really supportive though and don't mind me asking questions. (Which is good because I ask a lot. XD) I hope you're settling into your new role - you still get to be around books which is a plus, right? c: Thanks for dropping by!


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