Monday, 31 October 2016

Motivational Monday! NaNoWriMo!


EEEEEEE! So this year I've decided to bite the bullet, as they say, and have a go at NaNoWriMo! Which  for any of you who don't know, is National Novel Writing Month. 
The task is to write a 50,000 word novel, in a month. In the few sweet days between the 1st and the 30th of November. That's only roughly 1,666 words a day, easy right? Right? Right? 

No small feat! Novels can take years of planning, writing, re-writing, editing, re-editing, editing, re-editing, re-writing, etc etc etc. 
But the idea of this challenge is not to have a fully finished, edited, proofread, publishable novel by the end of the month, it is simply to get that novel, that one that we all know we can write, out of our heads and on to the page. It won't be pretty, but it'll be there, a good, solid, first draft that you can then build on over the next however-long-you-want. 

So last week - yes I made my decision a bit late - I decided that I wanted to write a novel, and I logged on to nanowrimo.org, created my profile and pledged my participation in this furiously intense writing event.
Was that an impulsive decision?
Yes.
Was it perhaps a silly decision?
Possibly.
Do I really have time in my life to write at least 1,666 words a day?
Not really.
Did I have an idea for a novel?
Barely.
Am I excited?
Heck Yes!

Lets get one thing straight... I am one of those creatives that sucks, like really really really sucks, at planning. I always have done, and I probably always will do. Plan they say... blahhhh that's far too boring, I'll just spurt some words at a piece of paper and something will appear and I'll see where it takes me.
But I looked at the event I'd just signed up to, and I had a little poke at the vague-sort-of-not-really-formed-at-all idea that I could potentially maybe turn into a novel, and I decided that maybe this time, I ought to have at least a rough plan, at least enough to know who my characters are and what might actually happen during the novel. So, I've spent the last few days, in between my normally hectic life, desperately pulling at the straws of the novel idea that's been lurking at the back of my mind for a while now. Trying to figure out exactly what I want it to be about, how I want it to work, what my characters should be, where it should be set, what sort of theme and genre I want it to fall into, what's actually going to happen, and pretty much every other aspect of novel planning.
Am I any good at planning?
No.
Do I usually plan my writing?
Not really.
Did I have a vague concept in the back of my mind that I thought might one day have the potential to be a novel?
Yes.
Was that vague concept anywhere near actually being a novel?
No.

Do I now have a solid novel idea?
Heck Yes!

Folks, I don't know if I would recommend doing it this way - it starts tomorrow and I'm actually still in the throes of planning, something I'm sure most nano participants have already completed a month ago - but damn I've pretty much done it. And actually I think doing it all at such short notice has only added to the excitement, because I'm full of it already, it's all I can think about, all I can focus on, which is exactly what I need when I'm about to embark on the month long writing extravaganza that is NaNoWriMo.

So as far as Motivational Monday! posts go this one is a bit different. You're probably not going to read this and decide that you want to go and sign up to NaNoWriMo - which starts tomorrow - but you might be reading it as a fellow NaNo-er in a similar position that's glad to know there's someone else out there in your crazy little boat. Or you might never have heard of this insane writing event and tuck it away as information to have a go at next year. Or you might just simply take from this post that no matter how short your time limit, if you've got the motivation to do it, you can get it done. Maybe.

If you are a fellow NaNo-er (is that even right?) then please get in touch throughout the coming month, I'd love to chat to you about your process and how you're getting on. Leave a comment and let me know how you've been getting ready for this mad event, if you even have been getting ready at all, maybe you've done less prep than I have!
Have you done NaNoWriMo before?
When did you start preparing your novel idea?
How much planning did you do?
How are you gonna meet the word count?
(I'm just gonna wing it - organisation, much like planning, is really not my forte!)

I'll keep you updated on my progress as we move through November - If I am indeed managing to make any!

Good luck to everyone out there participating in this crazy event! And for those of you who love a participant, be patient with them, they need your support right now!


Happy Writing!


Rach x 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Artel, 12 - A Beautiful Beast

How long had it been? Weeks? Months? Years? In the darkness there was no way of telling, and Artel was growing restless. He could feel the energy building inside of him, tumbling through his veins like so many little creatures itching to be free. His nerves were fraught. The dim green tinged darkness reeked of captivity, of subservience, of slavery. He had to submit, had been forced to do as he was bid. He had accepted that to fight, to escape, would only lead to certain death. The warren these creatures lived in, that he now lived in, was too vast and too complex for him to even imagine he could find a way out before he caught his death in one of the dark, earthy tunnels. He had even wondered at one point if there were tunnels leading to the surface at all. He could not imagine the strange, pale, creatures having any need or desire to visit the surface, they seemed quite content to exist in their subterranean universe. But he had felt it, the other day, as he was being lead from his cell to the hall where he would spend his day, if you could even call it a day. They had lead him down the usual corridor, and he had expected to continue past three exits, make two left turns, one right turn, another two lefts, then it was a long walk down a tunnel that curved slightly to the left and sloped gently downwards until they reached a great door, behind that door was what he supposed you would call a kitchen, although it hardly looked like a kitchen to him. It certainly was where they prepared their food though, which was a strange mix of captured rats, earthworms and other insects, and root vegetables they seemed to have harvested from the tunnel walls themselves. He had even seen a mole in there once, the poor animal had still been alive when one of the creatures had brought it in, exclaiming loudly in its strange nonsensical language and swinging it by its back left paw. The mole hadn't even had time to put up a fight. The cook, if you could even call him a cook, had gripped the animal in a wave of something that looked like it might have been joy, swung it down atop an earthen surface and promptly released it from the burden of having a head. The severed head rolled away and dark blood leaked down across the grimy floor, seeping into the earth, as the body jerked and twitched unpleasantly before finally laying still. The cook picked up the head in one hand, then the body in the other, then turned and held Artel's gaze for a moment before making his way over to a large bubbling pot in the corner and throwing both parts in to it. Artel looked at the floor, he couldn't help but feel that gaze had held a very real threat. Misbehave, it had said, try to escape, it had said, and this is what will happen to you.
But the other day they had turned right instead of left and he had been lead upwards, definitely upwards, he could feel the ache in his legs. They had made a left turn, then two rights, then another left along a long tunnel that seemed to slant upwards. It was just as they were reaching the end of that tunnel that Artel had felt it, the rush of cold air, like a breath of freedom, taunting him from the end of the tunnel. They had to be near the surface at that point, they had been going steadily uphill, and in that rush of air he could smell the forest. He only got a whiff, a sharp intake of breath before he was pushed right into another tunnel and away from the promise of freedom. But that was all he needed, that one precious moment had delivered to him something he thought he had given up, hope. There was a way out, and now he knew where to find it. All he had to do was create a diversion, something that would distract his guards, allowing him time to make a break for it.
Right, left, right right, left and up. Easy.

He was still asleep when the sharp kick sent a flare of pain through the right side of his body. He yelped and rolled away, instinctively reaching for the sword that was no longer there. Consciousness brought with it the memory of reality and he pulled himself to his feet, facing the guard standing in the doorway.
"Big thing sleep late, big thing come now, much work to be done."
"Y-yes." Artel stammered. "I just need to get my cloak."
This was it. Today was the day. He bent to retrieve his cloak from the hard ground, the only bed he had been afforded. As he gripped the cloak he also picked up the small device he had so lovingly created the night before. He swung the cloak over his shoulders and held the device in the palm of his hand, which, despite his years of training, was beginning to sweat. If this didn't work he was screwed, they would kill him there and then, no second chances. But better dead than a life lived serving giant white rats beneath the ground though. He took a breath and walked towards the guard that stood at the door. The guard nodded and stepped back into the corridor, waiting expectantly for Artel to join him. Artel walked forwards, exiting the cell and following the guard along the corridor, a second guard falling in behind him. For a moment there was nothing except the shuffling sound of their footsteps in the silence, then Artel let out a small yelp and crumpled to the ground. As he sank he twisted and stuck his foot out so that he was facing the guard behind him, who, taking an instinctive step towards his captive, struck Artel's outstretched foot and plummeted to the ground himself. Artel threw out his right hand, releasing the device which flew through the air into the darkness beyond. For a terrible second there was nothing, and Artel heard the guard who had been in the lead begin to speak. A half formed word erupting from between his lips, Artel's heart began to sink. Then several loud bangs echoed through the earthy tunnel and suddenly fire was spitting out from the direction they had come, lighting up the dark earth and roaring up the walls. The guard behind Artel pushed past him, at once terrified and full of a duty to protect. Artel took his chance. He knew the fire would last only moments, then it would die, suffocated beneath the earth, as he would if he didn't get a move on. He pushed himself to his feet and began to sprint up the tunnel.
Right, left, right, right, left and up. He could feel it now, the cold air on his face. It filled his chest, his mouth, his nose. The smell of the forest. The promise of light, of life, of escape. He pushed on, though his aching legs complained and his breath tore his throat, certain that his captors were only moments behind him, ready to grab him and pull him back down, down into the depths and the darkness that waited beneath. He was almost there. He could feel it in the clarity of the air. It was crisper, sweeter, lighter. A few more steps. One foot in front of the other as the adrenaline coursed through his body. He could feel his heart pumping in his chest, beat after beat after beat, so fast he thought it might explode. Step, step, step, step, step. What if he was wrong? What if there wasn't an exit? No. He beat the thoughts from his mind and pushed his body on. Surely it wasn't much farther yet. His lungs burned and his heart raced and his legs screamed. He squeezed his eyes shut, opening and immediately closing them again as he rounded a corner and the bright light of day blinded him. His instinct was to stop but he forced himself to continue, blind, out into the world. He felt something break around him as he left the tunnel, some sort of guard, shield, netting, web, he couldn't be sure. He stumbled forwards, his right arm shielding his eyes as he blinked in the bright light and tried to make sense of the blurry shapes around him that refused to come into focus. He pushed on no matter, putting as much distance as he could between himself and the terrible tunnel he had just left.
He ran at first, until his run became a stumbling jog, and his stumbling jog became a walk, and then he tripped on a tree root and found himself spread eagle on the floor, panting and breathing and sweating and whimpering and alive, oh so very, very alive. He lost consciousness then, his tired body shutting down and sending him into its own darkness.

When Artel woke the sun was setting, sending streamers of colour across the sky. Pink and orange and yellow and red. It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. He pushed himself into a sitting position, brushing the dirt from his clothes and breathing in the clean, fresh air. He looked around him, he was no longer in the forest, which was perhaps half a days walk behind him now. To his left endless plains stretched towards the horizon, but in the far distance to his right he could see what looked like the sparkle of a river, beyond which smoke rose from a collection of tiny houses. It would take him a day or so to reach the village, but there he would be able to find food, and shelter, and, most importantly, a new sword. He felt pained to have had to leave his behind, it had been a gift from his father. But he had no idea where the creatures had put it after they had disarmed him and he couldn't have afforded the time to look for it.
Beyond the village and the plains, great mountains stretched their inky fingertips towards the slowly darkening sky. That was where he was headed. Somewhere in those mountains were the answers he sought.
Artel stood and started walking, heading towards the village and the mountains beyond and thinking about his fire device, made from a piece of flint, some string, and a several matches he had found in his pocket. It had been a stroke of genius, and it had worked perfectly, he almost laughed out loud. Freedom was a most beautiful beast indeed.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Motivational Monday! Book of Blasphemous Words




This weeks Motivational Monday! post features submissions for the Book of Blasphemous Words by A Murder of Storytellers.

A little bit different, this is not a competition but open submissions to their next anthology.

A Murder of StorytellersBook of Blasphemous Words is a weird fiction, horror, and speculative fiction anthology about humanity's relationship with its gods. When we answer the call for salvation from the bondage of the material - when we believe in gods - we reach a hand into the unknown and risk losing it to something peckish. When we forget the power of the hearth, we risk a conflagration that can return civilisation to the dirt from whence it has come.

As this is a submission rather than a competition there is no entry fee and if your work is selected it will be published in the upcoming anthology, you will receive $15 and a free copy of the anthology.

Simultaneous submissions, multiple submissions and reprints are all accepted.

Please check the website for formatting guidelines and more information on the theme.

The closing date for submissions is the 31st of October.

To read the rules, find out more and to enter please visit Book of Blasphemous Words.

Happy writing


Rach x

Sunday, 23 October 2016

A Note on Inspiration


I was recently asked what inspires me to write. 

It's a good question, and one that does make you think. There are all sorts of methods that people use to get inspiration, from inspiration boards to internet surfing, but when I really thought about it, I realised that I don't do any of those things...  

And I think this might be food for thought, or maybe something to remember in those dark times when you're searching for ideas but you just can't find any. Maybe you'll agree, or maybe you won't.

So here it is. 



'Everything. Everything around me inspires me to write, all the time. The places I go, the people I meet, the conversations I have with friends, family, co-workers, strangers. Everything is inspiration and can be used. A half-heard remark of a stranger on the bus, the deep russet colour of the autumn leaves, the half smile on my lovers face when he's daydreaming. The world is a huge pot of never ending inspiration, you just have to look for it.'



How would you answer that question? What inspires you to write?



Rach x

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Revise, and Revise Again


"Revision is like wrestling with a demon, for almost anyone can write; but only writers know how to rewrite. It is this ability alone that turns the amateur into a professional." 

— William Knott.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

3. The Way In



Master Jinder Sondeus had a reputation for tenacity and cunning. Like any field experienced officer in the Maker Army, he was easily bored and didn’t like to stand on ceremony if there was work to be done, and Lord Enik had given him free rein to conduct whatever investigations he saw fit in order to to thwart the Levyethin threat.
Enik himself was now in seclusion in his apartment in the Lunar Keep, with only Aethian’s assault Gobot, ‘Tackle’ serving as his bodyguard.
One thing was for sure, he thought, Tarapel was the finest technical specialist and inventor alive and it would be outright stupid not to make use of his skills. The lunar keep was no place for Jinder - not now that there was a job to be done.


“Good morning Lemin.” Said Master Sondeus as he entered the Teck area mess hall.
Tarapel was stood on the Poniard range, a blade in each hand and his back to Sondeus. With the blades set to whipping energy, he gracefully pulled back and then once again held the grips hard before throwing the smart metal blades down range to the target, allowing them to stretch out in front of him while he still held them. As the energised silver blades elongated to their full extension, satisfyingly formidable gashes appeared in the plasteel dummy standing there. Then, much like the cracking of a whip, the energised metal blades fell back towards the hilt at Tarapels control, taking their solid form again for a fraction of a moment before he once again whipped the deadly smart metal back down range again with a flick of his wrist.


“You remind me of a Salmon fisherman!” Said Sondeus, louder this time.
“Ah, Jinder! Good morning!” Replied the old Quartermaster as he turned to face Master Sondeus. “I agree. My late wife was a keen Angler and a sheer artist with a poniard too. It is, as they say ‘All in the wrist’, when it comes to the whip setting. Would you care for a cup of tea?”
Tarapel flicked the thumb switches on his poniards and the blades hurried back into their normal solid forms. He then held both blades together, lined them up flush and shook them until they locked together to form a single elegant dagger which he spun around his finger by its ring and sheathed back at his waist.


“Tea sounds good. Thank you.” Sondeus nodded as he sat down at one of the long, brightly lit mess table.
“You dance your blade well Master! I could have used talent like that in times many fold - no mistake!”
Tarapel smiled back at Jinder from the corner kitchen where he had begun to boil a pan of water.
“Too kind my Son!” He said as he wryly poked his tongue out and back in again with a wink.
“When you’ve been providing for soldiers, assets, and agents for as long as I have, the tendency is to procure a few extra talents along the way. I never joined the Temple; I barely scraped through a heavy mek academy on Goetia - but I can build things. More importantly, I can improve on existing things that are given to me, and I can back engineer alien technology.” He turned and smoothly filled a shiny metal teapot with hot water and spooned in two heaped spoonfuls of dark green Tea.


“Which leads us rather nicely to the point Lemin.” Said Sondeus as the quartermaster finished stirring the pot. “I like toys - and your toys are the best.”
Tarapel smiled and nodded as he poured two glasses of hot tea, set them down upon the mess table, and gestured to one of them.
“Thank you.” Said Jinder, taking a sip. “This is good tea.”
Tarapel smiled and nodded. “And?” Said the old quartermaster as he crossed his hands.
“And,” said Jinder,  “I would be curious to find a way of being placed down there in the Ziggurat forest, where I might be able to make Tea, walk, sit, sleep, and observe - unobserved.”
Tarapel mused and looked out of the window at the lush blue and green planet beneath them.
“To be… shall we say, invisible? - Why yes my son, of course. I have the very thing. A device of my own making which is based on the Levyethin personal spacefolder unit. The flesh burner module has always puzzled me. I have asked myself a hundred times, why do they insist on burning every last shred of themselves, post mortem, so that no trace of the flesh remains? But now, I’ve finally done it you see?” A wry smile crept across his face as for a moment he enjoyed the puzzled and excited look that the Master wore. He took a breath before continuing, allowing the moment to stretch out slightly longer.
“I cracked the technology only last night. - I now know how they move - and so much more!”
Jinder dropped his Tea and the glass shattered, spreading sparkling crystals and hot tea spraying across the table. He looked up at Tarapel in awe.
“Show me Lemin! - Show me now!”

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Writing Prompt!

Today's writing prompt is first sentence.
You must use the given sentence as the opening sentence to your piece, but it is up to you how you use it and where you take your character. Your story can be any length and any genre.


'For a moment her mind blanked, it was as if the world around her had simply fallen away, leaving behind it nothing but an empty space... then with a sharp buzzing she was back, blinking in surprise as the world around her came back into focus.'


If you would like to share your writing please leave it in the comments section for more fantastic inspiration, or if you would like to submit any of your work to this website please visit the submissions page.


Happy Writing


Rach x

Monday, 17 October 2016

Motivational Monday! Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Commonwealth Writers

This weeks Motivational Monday! post features The Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

This competition is open to all members of commonwealth countries and is for a short story of between 2,000 and 5,000 words that has been previously unpublished.

This competition is free to enter and there will be a winner from each region of the commonwealth; Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. There will also be one overall winner. The regional winners will receive £2,500 each and the overall winner will receive £5,000.

Published writers are welcome to submit work as long as it is unpublished. Work that has been translated to English is also accepted, as well as work written in Bengali, Kiswahili, Portuguese and Samoan.

The closing date for this competition is the 1st of November 2016.

To read the competition rules, find out more and to enter the competition please visit Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Happy writing


Rach x

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Secrecy and Clarity


We were all so young. You must understand that. Much too young in fact.
With the un naturally extended lives which we all now endure, we look at octogenarians as teenagers. Imagine how it was for us.
My five companions and I, were each a mere twenty two years old and all orphans - our dear Adoni was just forty - and the bastard son of a despot.
We were all thrown into the tornado by our God himself  - in a baptism of betrayal.
Our Masters and our training was what kept us alive in the end.
The universe is cruel and I know that better than most through the understanding of my deep sight. Sometimes I envy the unborn. Although my blood allegiances ensure that I could never condone their actions -  I certainly understand their motives.
I weep for the future - and for anyone who has to learn the truth about what happened.
I don’t sleep anymore.

The Sacred Sister, Ki’entha Kapos Chi.
- Diaries after Gia.


“Everybody inside as quickly as possible please!” Barked Raethal as he beckoned Adoni and the others into the temple portico with haste.
Looks of shock and confusion were worn on the faces of the six younglings and indeed of Adoni himself, as the temple walls screeched upwards and out of the ground, sealing them all inside. They looked up to see the underneath of a fast moving, and massive, emergence of plasteel. The solid, pyramidical, armoured security cover now encased the entire temple and all those within.
Standing in the now floodlit courtyard of the sealed temple garden, Master Hassan jumped up onto a bench in the quad and brought everyone to attention.

“Form up! You too please my Lord!” Hassan clapped his hands.
“Everyone remain calm.” He said with a soft voice. “This is a serious situation but it is exactly what we are here for - so make yourselves comfortable. Please be seated.”
The group sat down on the grass with the exception of Lars Raethal, who was still monitoring all of the security viewers in the western corner of the garden.
“The tanks report a clear perimeter.” He said as he wiped the sweat from his brow. “A tight formation and a good landing. - I’m pulling up the Levyethin files now Thorin.”

“Thank you Lars.” Hassan said with a smile. “I need your complete and undivided attention now please everyone. You are all about to be briefed about a very serious problem that the Maker army has been tackling for thousands of generations. This is privileged information and must remain so.” Everyone stared back at Hassan, listening intently.
“Firstly I would like to talk to you all about the nature of secrecy and why it is so important here. To keep a secret, is to intentionally retain a piece of information from others. We all know this of course, but at this level - it’s often about life or death. Being as the word ‘keep’ is a successful word - it must follow that to ‘keep a secret’ follows on to be a successful act. In essence, what you are about to learn could be very dangerous information if it were to be made available to our enemies. I can’t make it any clearer. Many have died for us to have gained this intelligence.”
The Master then jumped down from the bench and spun down elegantly into a crossed legged sitting position with the others on the grass.
Across the quad in the corner, Raethal transferred his poniard from his belt to the waistband of his trousers, unclipped his belt and took off his tunic which he draped over his left arm as he walked across the now sealed up courtyard to join them.

“Here’s what you want.” Raethal barked as he reached into his shirt pocket and threw a small clear bead up into the air towards the dark converging plates of the temple’s shielded ceiling. The bead stopped dead in mid air some six meters above and then lit up and expanded out into a holoframe. Hassan addressed everyone calmly.
“Before we go on, all of you please read this. It is a highly classified report by Grand Master An’ewat Jentha Korbandin, the Director General of Stellaris Militia Intelligencia.” Said Hassan as he typed at his wrist pad.
“For the time being at least, we shall be answering directly to S.M.I and to Lord Enik’s staff - nobody else. It is important that you fully absorb all of the details in this report - read it twice if you need to. I regret that I can’t add very much to this report as you will understand after reading it, but I imagine you may all have some questions afterwards - if I am able to elaborate, I will. There is more Shem Bread available if any of you need it.”
Momentarily, the holoframe filled with a report entitled  - THE LEVYETHIN.
As the six students and Adoni sat and read the report outlining the great threat, Luka and Adoni’s sleek smilodon Cat, joined Masters Raethal and Hassan who were now seated on the bench next to the firestone.

Hassan turned to Raethal and the Gobot and pulled a reference pad out from underneath the bench.
“We shall need the full hand to hand and short weapons training set.” He whispered. “Also, basic outdoor survival - tailored to Gia, and the regular S.M.I field protocol training.”
“Agreed.” Said Raethal with a nod.
Luka lowered her vocal volume level to address the Masters. “How can I assist? She said. “Is there anything that I can arrange as far as tutorial assistance is concerned?”
Raethal frowned. “Normally Luka, I would say yes, but this situation is too pressing for us to burn any unnecessary time. I recommend that we split them into two groups and field train them separately, half and half - I’ll Take the Acolyte shadow guard first for weapons and strategy. That leaves Thorin to take the younglings and Adoni for field and survival training. After a week we switch groups - in two weeks we should be able to graduate them. What do you think Thorin?”

Hassan Grimaced and shook his head. “I think this is thin ice Lars. I think it’s negligent corner cutting, and I don’t feel good about it. But - you’re right. We just don’t have the time to do this any other way. Anything outstanding will have to be taught on Gia as they go along.”
“So be it.” Raethal agreed. “I will be accompanying them all back to Gia when they're done to assist Aethian - we can get them sharpened up then. We’ll just have to hope that the mouth breathers are a few steps behind us.”
“Good.” said Hassan with a smile. “That’s a working plan. If we have to adjust it in the process then we shall skin the beast after the hunt. When you all leave for Gia in two weeks, I will report back to The Mothers and follow you there afterwards.”
“Understood.” Said Lars. “Right! Are you done reading everyone? Hands up if you are?” He barked at the seated younglings. All of their right hands were raised in reply. “Excellent.” Lars and Thorin stood and walked back to the lawn to address the students.
Hassan sat down with them. “Before we go on,” he said, “it’s clear to me that there will be a further piece of data regarding the situation on Gia which we don’t have yet. It is of note that we don’t have the exact details of what has happened in the Sol system from Lord Enik. It may be that it is not entirely understood yet, or that it is too sensitive for comms.  I’m guessing it may be a compartmentalised issue, but we will be briefed fully, and soon no doubt. I will chase up the intelligence and try to find out exactly what has happened from S.M.I. - For now though, do any of you have any questions?”

Adoni Raised his hand. “Yes -I do Master.” He said.
“Go on.” Said Hassan gesturing toward him.
“Why have I not been informed about this threat before? I feel hoodwinked! My knowledge of galactic history is flawless Master. I may only be forty years old, but my bloodline is royal and I have the sovereign awakening of my entire ancestry!” Adoni had a clear tone of disdain in his voice.
Luka spoke, “Adoni… we” - “Thank you Luka, I’ll take this question.” Hassan cut in over her. “This threat is quite ancient. Keeping it suppressed over the years has been vital for so many reasons. Only the highest Orders and selected individuals within them have ever been made aware of it. You must realise that YOU - are now one of those individuals. This will never appear in a history book Adoni. History - is written by winners my lord. In our case, that’s means your father. He has now seen fit to brief you all. Therefore - you have NOT been hoodwinked, quite the opposite in fact. - Is that clear?”

Adoni frowned. “It is clear - but I still feel like I am being taken for a boy!”
Master Raethal cleared his throat and spoke over Adoni -
“You are a boy my lord! Don’t sulk about it. You will one day have your own stem, and your legacy will determine the future of an entire world - but you have to build it and manage it independently of the rest of the galaxy. Once you take up your Godhood, only the seven of you here will be in place on Gia - locked in, until the population awakens thousands of generations from now. If you fail - they may NEVER awaken! It would be a serious threat to your planet if you labour under any illusions about anybody coming to save it other than yourselves. Now -  I have made that clear? Do you feel ready to take up that responsibility yet? Because, if you do - then you are indeed a MAN. - If you don’t - then you must accept that you still have things to learn! I will not train someone with personal delusions, ego or bitterness! - Period! Are we absolutely clear on that Adoni?”  Lars stared Adoni down with his arms crossed.

“Very well Master!” Shouted Adoni, a clear hint of contempt in his voice. The Smilodon jumped up with it’s heckles proud, bared its saber teeth and roared at Raethal, who looked across at it, rolled his eyes and laughed. “Any time puss cat!” He shouted as he fingered the pommel of the poniard at his waist.
“We shall see.” Added Hassan. “You would do well to listen to Master Raethal my lord. Your training will be as easy or as difficult as you make it. Without the training - you are all as good as dead. Make NO mistake about it”
The other younglings sat wide eyed and confused. None of them had ever seen an exchange like this before and none of them felt entitled to say a word, much less ask a question. - All but Ki’entha, who spoke assertively without raising her hand.

“This situation is clearly very grave - and as such, I shall not mince my words.” She said.
“I should hope not Sister! Everybody’s opinion is valuable here!” Said the widely grinning Raethal.
Ki’entha continued. “I should like first, to explain a little about my deep sight ability so that we may all have transparency on the subject.”
“Please do Sister.” Said Hassan with a nod. “I rather doubt that any of your fellows here have ever encountered anyone who shares your gift.”

Ki’entha adjusted her crossed legged position on the grass to face everyone else before continuing. “I shall use our recent initiation to the awakening brought about by Shem Bread as an example I think.” The others sat silently each listening intently to their Sister.
“The deep sight ability is hereditary in the female lines of very few families - a rare gift. There is no doubt much more about the gift which I have yet to learn, what I do know, I learned from the one remaining journal left to me by my late Mother, who also had the sight. The deep sight can skip several generations with no sign of manifesting in a young girl and then can show clearly out of nowhere. No males have ever developed the sight. It is a latent genetic trait which may be traced back directly to Holy Mother Chi. The sight generally manifests between the ages of three and six. If it has not developed by the age of eight, it never will. When we all took our Shem Bread for the first time, I was shocked by the sensory overload it brought about in me.  I felt the awakening of other memories from my genetic line through the generations. Although these memories are fragmented and some completely anonymous, the truths and knowledge which can be gleaned from them and applied in the living moment is quite remarkable. - The deep sight has a very similar mechanism to this awakening, and indeed the vibration and feeling associated with it is very much in keeping with the classical awakening of the Shem. - In simple terms, I have the ability to see through to the truth of things very quickly. I have accelerated intuition and am able to see patterns and extrapolate outcomes of situations quickly and accurately.”
Jachin smiled warmly and looked at Ki’entha. “Outstanding!” He said. “Truly extraordinary!”   

“Quite so” She continued matter of factly. “And now I have explained myself to you all, I would speak directly to our Masters.” She said, looking now at Raethal and Hassan.
“Please go on Sister.” Said Raethal.
“Very well.” Ki’entha stood up and walked to stand just below the holoframe.
“This report Gentlemen, is in part at least - a lie.” She said pointing up at the Levyethin file.
Hassan frowned and crossed his arms. “I respect your gift Sister.” Hassan spoke firmly. “But you must understand that this intelligence comes from the highest level and carries Lord Enik’s seal! If you see a problem with anything therein - You should explain yourself.”
Ki’entha’s eyes scanned over the document once more and as she finished reading, she shook her head tight lipped before turning to face everyone else once again.
“I cannot give you specifics, only strong intuitive suspicions. This report is certainly not complete. The author has omitted valuable data - by design, in an effort to withhold a greater truth. - I know it. It feels very suspicious. There is fear here - fear of discovery.”

Hassan and Raethal both looked at each other with a mixture of bemusement and confusion before Hassan replied. “I can’t see how this can be true Ki’entha - I just can’t.”
“Well it is.” She said calmly. “I would stake my life on it!”
Raethal walked across to Ki’entha, placed his hand on her shoulder and spoke reassuringly.
“Try to relax Sister. This situation must be shocking to you all, but we must combat it logically and collectively. I trust you implicitly, but there’s a mistake in your analysis. None of us are perfect and some things are not what they seem.”
Ki’entha stared back at him knowingly. “You may be quite sure of that Sir! She said wide eyed. “I know that neither of you Masters are aware of this subtle deception, but I assure you - that it most certainly IS there.”
Adoni smiled sardonically at Raethal “Very interesting Sister!” He said.

“That’s enough for now I think!” Said Hassan. “Why don’t the seven of you take an hour to get better acquainted. - You will spend the rest of your lives together after all! This issue will wait for a little while longer I think.”
Ki’entha shook her head. “Good idea!” She said with a scowl - and walked hastily across the garden to leave via the north porch. “Why do I get the feeling that we are being set up for a fall!”

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Wordy Wednesday!


This weeks Wordy Wednesday word is;

Fuscous


- Dark and Sombre in colour.
- A brownish-grey or dusky colour.

Fuscous comes from Latin and would have entered the english language in the mid 17th century.

'Alaya fell to her knees, breathing hard and digging her fingers into the fuscous earth, her body ached, yet her anger fuelled her adrenaline and moments later she was back on her feet, pushing herself forwards once again.'

Challenge;


Comment a short piece of prose, flash fiction, or even just a sentence, using this word!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Writing Prompt!

Today's writing prompt is an image.
What comes to mind when you look at this beautiful place?
(And yes it is a real place, it's in Italy somewhere, but I think it could be a great setting.)

Vezzolacca - Piacenza - Italy

If you would like to share your writing please leave it in the comments section for more fantastic inspiration, or if you would like to submit any of your work to this website please visit the submissions page.


Happy Writing


Rach x

Monday, 10 October 2016

Motivational Monday! London Magazine's Short Story Competition


This weeks Motivational Monday! post features The London Magazine's Short Story Competition.

London Magazine is looking for unpublished short stories of 4,000 words or under that are written by anyone from anywhere around the world.

The winner will be published in a future issue of the London Magazine and will receive a cash prize of £500, the entries coming in second and third place will be published on London Magazine's website and will receive £300 and £200 in prize money.

The closing date for this competition is the 31st of October, there is an entry fee of £10, and you can submit your story via submittable on the London Magazine website.

There is a full list of guidelines and rules for entries available to look at on their website, always remember to read the entry rules to look for formatting instructions or guidance, many competitions will not even consider your work if it's not formatted in the way that they asked for!

To read the competition rules, find out more and to enter the competition please visit The London Magazine.

Happy writing


Rach x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Win Books on Writing!


Hello writer friends! 

Would you like to be in with a chance of winning some great books on writing? So would I! 
Just follow 'Enter the Competition' below to follow the link that I've supplied, then answer the question, enter your email, and share with all your writer buddies, it's as simple as that! 
There's no catch, nothing to sign up to and no money to pay. 
Good luck!

Rach x 



Friday, 7 October 2016

Artel - Alone

Millon felt lost. He had never felt quite so lost in all his short life, and he hated it. He didn't like most things, but compared to this everything else seemed like a holiday. He had failed. Completely, totally, and utterly. It would barely be possible for anyone to fail as spectacularly as he had, yet he had managed it. Stupid, stupid Millon, useless, bumbling fool. He cursed himself over and over again as he plodded through the never ending trees.
It had been three days since Artel had disappeared, swallowed up by the ground, as if he had never been there at all. Millon had heard his cry and had turned to see the knights tousled head disappearing into the ground, but when he had reached the spot where he had disappeared he had been unable to find any sign of a hole, pit or pathway that could have swallowed him. He had spent hours walking over the same patch of ground, backwards and forwards until he had trodden the grass flat and created a small clearing between the bushes. Confusion had addled his brain, in his understanding of the world people didn't just disappear into the ground with no conceivable explanation. Eventually he had sat down, deciding to wait until Artel reappeared, which surely he would have to at some point. Maybe he was playing a cruel joke on Millon? Maybe he had finally had enough of the smaller man and had given him the slip? Maybe a dangerous forest creature had sprung out of the undergrowth and gobbled him down whole before slithering back to wherever it came from? The last thought made Millon shiver, he had never been the bravest of men, and as the light between the trees slowly started to fade he began to contemplate whether he would survive the night alone in the forest. His mind slipped back to the shadow creature that had plagued them before and he felt a cold stab of fear in his chest. If the creature came back while he was alone he wouldn't stand a chance.
The small man huddled against the thick base of a tree trunk next to the clearing he had made, watching the forest around him grow darker and darker. The temperature began to drop and Millon thought about making a fire, but he desperately didn't want to attract attention to himself, so he pulled his cloak tighter about his shoulders and hugged his pack to his chest.
In the darkness the forest came alive, buzzing and ticking and screeching around the frightened Millon, who soon found that without a fire he could barely see past the end of his nose. He sat very still, listening to the strange night noises and trying to pretend he wasn't really there. At one point he heard the footfalls and snuffling of a large beast moving nearby him. A million possibilities flashed through his mind as he imagined what kind of creature it could be, and he held his breath until it had passed, trying harder than ever not to move a muscle.
Eventually he slept, and when he woke the now familiar squawking of the birds high up in the branches above him filled the air, and the scene around him was lit with the soft glow of early morning sunshine. He pulled himself to his feet groggily, wincing as he discovered the crick in his neck, and looked around. The forest looked exactly the same as it had the day before, and there was still no sign of Artel. He took a few steps towards the bushes next to him, shaking life into his dead legs, and relieved himself onto their dark green leaves. Then he turned and stared at the trampled grass clearing he had made, completely at a loss as to what he should do.

Millon stood in the clearing for a long time. He felt confused, and lost, and couldn't decide whether he should leave or stay. Now that Artel was gone he knew he would not be able to complete the quest alone, he wasn't quest material, he was no knight, no warrior with bravery on his side. He was just a poor, bumbling fool who'd happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when Artel was assigned a companion. It occurred to him that he probably wouldn't make it home either. He was no rugged man of the wilds, he had little experience of living outside of community, and he could neither hunt nor fish successfully. He probably wouldn't even make it out of the forest.
The sun rose, brightening the forest, and Millon dawdled in his small clearing. Every so often he would take a step in one direction or the other, then he would stop and dawdle some more before reversing the step. The indecision weighed on him like an ocean and he felt as if he were drowning in it. Around him the calls of the birds changed and other noises came and went as life moved on with itself, ignoring the alien presence in its midst. Millon watched a small creature, not unlike a mouse or a squirrel, scurry across the ground in front of him, pausing now and then sniff at the grass and dig at the dirt beneath it. He wondered absently what it was like to be that squirrel-mouse, was it an easy life, was it happy, did it even know what happiness or decisions were? He decided that it didn't, and fervently wished he could have been born a squirrel-mouse, able to happily scurry across the forest floor, unaware of the many trials and tribulations that affected the world of man.

Eventually the hunger in his belly pushed Millon to move forwards. Somewhere in his heart he knew Artel wasn't going to magically reappear and that he ought to at least try and find his way out of the forest, even if he didn't really know where he was going.
For the next two days he had wandered through the trees, not knowing which direction he should be going in, and eating berries he picked from the bushes he passed. At night he curled up at the base of whichever tree was nearest, he didn't make a fire, and he slept fitfully. The morning light was a relief, bringing with it some semblance of safety, he had yet to meet something dangerous during the day.
He knew he was completely lost, and he had no expectation of finding his way out. Thoughts of his failure plagued his mind, even if he did find his way home what would say, that he had lost Artel, that he had failed his quest?
The thoughts buzzed in circles through his mind and he knew that no matter what happened he couldn't return home alone.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Book Two, 1 - A Cold Warrior's Coffin

The Young Blood.

By Matt Murdoc & Rachael Hill.

Book 2.   - The Lessons of the Ages.



Chapter 1

A Cold Warrior’s Coffin.


My first assignment in the field was as the handler for an informer on the colonised gas mining planet of Jentekka.
Feudal house dissidents were good assets in those days.
Such good days too. All filled with blood, cloak, dagger - and sophisticated subterfuge. - The spice of life, for spies and assassins like us - I’m sure you will agree?
The man was a fire warden in the capital city of Ashenborn. The planet is a dry and bush ridden place with a constant risk of fire brought about by the ever present natural gas which seeps through the surface layer and which can be ignited by even the most modest spark.
He told me that the most valuable thing in his house was a box of letters and pictures from his family and friends which he kept under the table by his bed. If a fire struck his home and he was forced to flee at short notice – that box was the one thing that he would grab and take with him to safety. He would forsake everything else, to save a collection of valuable keepsakes and memories, which could never be duplicated, bought or otherwise replaced.
I learned a good lesson from him.  - A person is the sum of their most cherished and indeed, their most regrettable experiences.
I say this to you, remember it well. - We must do away with the box.
Make your own mind - the Ark of your being.
We are too quick to remember the things that make us great - and to forget the things which made us fail. To be hard, is to be scarred.
Only the knowledge, acceptance and preservation of our failures will allow us to move forward with any degree of strength or success. A harsh, simple truth – but essential.
Will you stand with the flock, or run with the pack?
Life is one long knife fight - and as we all know,
- Winners bleed and losers - gush.

An'ewat Jentha Korbandin – Notes from the field.




It had to be fast and it had to be invisible.
Aethian was three hours into his slip send journey from Gia, through deep space-fold, to planet Sobek. There, he was to meet with his estranged father at Castle Du'at.
His clandestine but unyieldingly uncomfortable mode of transportation allowed him eleven hours of still, silent contemplation.
Lemin Tarapel, had given him an antique, slip-send equipped, battlefield evidence cartridge to travel in undetected. This capsule would fold through the space of the ancient shipping lanes in the Leuranthian system and be lost amongst the gulf of aeons worth of intergalactic ice, dust and debris.
It would be auto piloted, and was quite genius.
The old evidence cartridge was effectively a smooth, five meter by one meter, pressurised plasteel coffin, with a space folding unit attached to it's rear. Aethian’s journey through space-fold would be undetectable to any enemy observer.
Inside, he was wearing a grey, tight fitting, five layer bio sustenance pressure suit and modular helmet - which provided independent life support within the crate.
The Cadmium layer inside the tube, where Aethian was laying down on a gurney in the frozen fold-space vacuum, would mask any signs of the life within.
So there he lay, like a corpse, travelling the gargantuan distance from Gia to Sobek – in an ancient container that was originally designed to return the remains of dead soldiers home from the battlefields of old.
Only Tarapel and Aethian were wise to this method of transport and their plan to utilise it. Many a defector or footlocker full of espionage had been sent from point to point through the labyrinthine expanses of space lanes via this method before, but not for many thousands of years - It was “Old Teck”, long forgotten. – Elegantly elusive.

The mission itself was simple, -
“Bring me my An'ewat!” Those had been Enik's orders.
As Aethian was clearly the new section chief for the situation surrounding Brindi's defection, the introduction of his father, An'ewat, to the table was a threefold problem for him.
It was not about pride. Pride during a cold war, could get you killed - and it was generally a character flaw found in young agents who had died at the very moment they had realised their mistakes.
No, the three problems Aethian had with this mission, had been determined with the application of sheer logic, and his years of experience in the field.

Firstly, Aethian's father was the supreme power at the top of Stellaris Militia Intelligencia. His father's career was the stuff of legend but these days, there was a good reason why he was serving out his directorship from planet Sobek. - An’ewat, was old.
He was experienced beyond any other Knight - no doubt about that - but his body simply couldn't take the field work anymore.
The glory days and spoils of the Taurid campaign were long gone. Only the medals on the old man’s chest remained. For An’ewat to attempt field work again now and after so long - seemed foolhardy at best.
“Why is Enik bringing my father in over my head?” Aethian muttered to himself as he shifted subtly in his pressure suit, causing the thin, hard layer of ice covering him to shatter and float around the gurney in a whisping cloud of sparkling dust.

The second problem was obvious. If An'ewat had to leave Castle Du'at, who would guard the guards? Who would monitor Central? Who would head the command structure?
Enik had given no clue as to who would undertake the directorship in the absence of his father. Some bloody specialised Gobot no doubt. Machines. Damned machines! - So easily tampered with.
Aethian began to feel a dull cold ache in is shoulders and buttocks. He only had around one fist's distance, Ten Centimeters at the most, space around his entire body to move within the whole length of the slip send cartridge. His core was warm but his extremities were getting extremely cold.
He longed to be able to sit up or turn over but this old coffin was far too unforgiving to afford him any such luxury.

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. The last problem. Issue number three, was the death of Aethian's mother. This was a personal matter - but no less loaded with potential to negatively influence the mission ahead.
He still didn't have all of the facts surrounding her death. She had decided to stop taking Shem bread as an act of protest that was never fully explained to her son - and she was dead within a month of her withdrawal.
- WHY?
What had driven her to effectively, commit suicide?
Why hadn't she contacted Aethian?
Most unforgivably of all, WHY, had she been interred in her tomb in the family vault for nearly a year, before An'ewat deemed it “time” to tell Aethian, about his dear mother's passing?
Too many questions, each holding answers that may very well lead to bloodshed between father and son.
If it had been up to him, Aethian would never have spoken to his father again – but now, the conscience of the blade demanded it - just as much as his orders from Lord Enik.
The loop was closing and in a matter of hours, Aethian would be serving an order to An’ewat  that might very well lead to a conflict of interest. And what then?
This was counter-productive thinking, but still true nonetheless. - Unavoidable.
Sleep. “Get it while it's going!” That was the old soldiers maxim that seemed to fit the remainder of the flight. Aethian began a descending concentric breathing mantra and allowed himself to slip into a state of alpha sleep for the rest of the journey.

The interior of Aethian's coffin had lit up with the familiar green light which confirmed the completion of the space-folding process. He opened his eyes and reached down to the rip rail at his hip. He twisted it and pulled hard. The pressurised lid of the transportation cartridge was blown off into a black night's sky, before landing with a crash some fifteen meters away.
The torrential rainstorm outside, was clearly to be the only welcoming party that Aethian would receive. Nobody knew he was coming anyway, but it would have been better to have arrived in warm daylight than on this dark stormy night.
He sat upright in his now wide open, frozen, and steaming container and relished the flood of blood that finally rushed into his movement starved muscles. It was almost painful as his extremities began to warm up again but the liberation was a welcome feeling.
He reached behind his helmet and pulled up the ring locking mechanism in the pressure suit at the nape of his neck. A whoosh of escaping compressed air allowed the helmet to pop smoothly out of it's housing, and Aethian immediately smelled the familiar fresh grassy scent of the Du’at forest.
He threw the helmet into the cartridge beneath his feet and carried out the same clasp releasing procedures on his gloves, boots, and waist rings. The thin layer of ice that covered the entirety of his suit was now cracked and melting as the cold compressed steam from the tube began to warm up. As the container's temperature adjusted to it’s new environment, Aethian found he could see more clearly.
He began to feel the leftover cold thawing liquid seeping through his single suit to his skin as he jumped out onto the leaf and bark covered forest floor of planet Sobek.
There didn’t seem to be any space fold atrophy in his limbs. - Aethian had arrived safely.

The tall evergreen forest surrounding him was just the same as he remembered it from his first days assigned to Stellaris Militia Intelligencia - but the cold stormy night in which he now found himself, was not what he was expecting.
The wind and rain was cutting against him now that he had shed the warm survival suit, and he was forced to adapt quickly to the shock of the harsh elements of this landing site.
As if to punctuate his doom ridden thought processes about the impending meeting with his father, a deafening crack of thunder roared down from the clouds, followed by an intricate and blinding bolt of lightning which lit up the previously dark sky and forest, affording a clear view of the dominating black edifice of Castle Du'at on the nearby hilltop.

After spending three minutes on stretching and breathing exercises to regain full control of his body, Aethian stripped himself naked in the rain and grabbed his kit holder from the footwell of his transport cartridge. He reached into a pouch and retrieved, chewed and swallowed a wafer of shem bread. He immediately felt fully revived and alert.
Then he quickly pulled out a fresh set of clothing - single suit, boots and tunic, which he hurriedly dressed himself in. Finally, he armed himself with his two poniards at his belt and wrapped his hooded robes around himself. With another bolt of lightning and its booming crack of thunder, Aethian steeled his gaze through the night and the pouring rain, along the dark path ahead leading to the gatehouse. Beyond that, he could see the shimmering, dimly lit glasslike portcullis at the other side of the Castle moat.
A huge dark form momentarily broke the water's surface in the distance and then disappeared beneath the murky depths once more.

“Gods below!” He whispered. It had been so long since he had been there, he had almost forgotten about the aggressive, genetically engineered beast  - a giant freshwater Megalodon, which lived to keep a deadly guard beneath the waters of the Castle's moat.
Not many things had ever stirred thoughts of fear in the old spymaster’s mind - but the thought of that vicious abomination and it’s many enormous teeth, still made his stomach squirm.  
Aethian took a deep breath, grimaced, shook his wrist and opened a coded call com with a bleep.

“Castle Du'at? - This is Commander Aethian Jentha Korbandin!” He shouted through the roaring wind and rain into his wrist pad.
Another booming crack of thunder rang out around him followed immediately by more brilliant white lightning. The cold rain began to pour down upon him even harder.
Then the reply came back -  “Yes…..er,  - YES... SIR! - Du’at central here - receiving. - Your code is confirmed - SIR! - We were not expecting you?”
“You weren’t meant to be expecting me boy! - I’m a fucking spymaster!” Aethian shouted.
“I have just arrived at the south forest path by slip send! - I am here at the behest of Lord Enik himself! - Tell the Paladin Commander to meet me at the drawbridge gatehouse! - Now! - And someone needs to secure that damned fish before the bridge is lowered!”

Aethian shook his wrist once more to close the com channel, wrapped his robe tightly around himself, pulled the brim of his hood down level with the tip of his nose, clenched his fists  - and began his march towards the Castle.