Final Chapter!

What a perfect day to finish my beta copy of Out of Ashes. It’s been amazing to work on the latest draft and, despite life getting in the way, I’ve put the final changes into my final chapters all in time to finish 2020.

Well… technically. The final chapters just need a SpaG edit, then they’re off to Critique Circle for feedback. 

I find the opening and final chapters have to do so much. The opening has to set enough up so the reader can follow the story as it unfolds. And the final chapters have to wrap everything up in a neat little bow. 

If you’ve done everything right, then your final chapters will bring the story and characters together in one beautiful coda. Some things fade away over several pages while others go out with a bang in one paragraph. But you need to give a satisfactory conclusion whether it’s a single book or part of a series.

That’s not to say you can’t leave things open as long as they’re not key plot points. Where the characters’ lives go from here is still questionable, but the final moments of the book work best when they complete the short-term goals you set for them earlier in the book. If you want a more definitive conclusion, you could write an epilogue or have the final chapter be several years later. Show what the character did with what they learned in their story. 

Everything must begin and end somewhere. Make it a great start with an even greater finish.

And Happy New Year!!!Title image by  at Mati-foto Pixabay.com

Sharing Some Winter Cheer!

Inspiration comes from all kinds of places for me. There isn’t one single source that I can draw from. Seasonal things are inspirational too, like renewing things in spring, relaxing in the summer heat, or enjoying the beautiful colours of autumn.

Winter cheer isn’t so different from Christmas cheer for me, but in the spirit of holiday equality, there are lots of ways to brighten up the darkest months of the year that aren’t obvious Christmas decorations. Also, this means you can put them up early and leave them up well after Christmas and have the excuse, “They’re not Christmas decorations. They’re winter decorations.” 🤣

Lights in a bowl. I have plug-in lights mixed with Christmas baubles, but just the lights would look really pretty and brighten up a dark hallway in winter. Or you could use battery LED lights in a glass or a small vase. 

LED candles.😍 I love them soooo much. They’re safe and pretty, and you can move them around if you want them in different rooms. I have a few candle holders about the flat, so LED tea lights look fantastic in them.

Or try coloured candles for decoration. I have some scented ones in sparkly glasses. I never light them because I don’t trust my cats with candles, but they look and smell really nice.

Light-up wall art. This beautiful winter picture acts like a night light in my hallway. It’s just as beautiful without the lights.

Add sparkly and shiny things to normal things. The candle normally has potpourri around it, but in winter, I swap it for some beads and painted pinecones. I swap my fake flowers for wintery twigs and add glittered twigs or flowers to them. You can’t see very well in the photo, but the glittery twigs have LED lights on them. They broke a while ago, but I still like the glitter in the vase.

My ten-month-old kitten, Tinkerbell, very helpfully pointed out my practical peg lights. They’re just on my desk organiser right now, but sometimes I string them up and peg photos or Christmas cards on them.

I’m like a flower. I need light and warmth and pretty things. Hah, that last one makes me sound awfully materialistic. I can’t help it if I like shiny and sparkly things. Maybe that’s what makes me a cat person. 

Anyway, don’t le the darkest months drain your cheer and inspiration. 

And here’s my Christmas playlist again. There are some wintery songs on there, too. Enjoy…

Title image by Larisa-K at Pixabay.com 

What’s Your Christmas Soundtrack?

Some people love Christmas songs and carols while others despise them. That’s okay. I sometimes hate them myself. 

Not this year. I’m loving pretty versions of Christmas classics and modern songs. I’ve found even more inspiration to spark my creativity. It’s mostly musical, but I like writing to tinkly Christmas music. It’s calming, thought provoking, and just really nice to listen to.

Some of my favourite Christmas music comes from ballets like The Nutcracker’s Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy is one of my favourites. I found a version by Lindsey Stirling after a friend mentioned her. She also plays a lovely Carol of the Bells, which I wanted to learn but was too basic on the flute at the time. Now I can play it on my keyboard and I’m learning Silent Night on the violin, which I’m doing really well with. I can play it really well on flute and piano because it’s a simple tune.

I’ve been having so much fun with music lately and it’s helped a lot with my writing because I feel all creative and jolly. It’s nice to feel jolly after such a complicated year all around, plus a horrible year and Christmas last year. 

After everything we’ve all gone through this year, we need the Christmas spirit more than ever. Even if you don’t celebrate it, you can have your own merry spirit. 

My Christmas playlist.

Image by Islembenzegouta at Pixabay.

Little Snowflake!

Winter’s coming, lol. Had to. It’s been a long few months since I started back at work after the lockdown, and I’m about ready for a nice Christmas. This year things are weird but good and I have two weeks off work to write, play music, and spend time with my parents. 

My musical creativity has already been flowing with my violin practice and more piano practice. I’ve dipped into playing my flute, but I’ve had this weird cold for like a month, so I don’t have the breath for the flute right now. Don’t worry, it’s not Covid, I got tested to be sure and was negative. Anyway, back to winter and music.

It’s this just the cutest little winter/Christmas song ever. I love to play it for my little students, and we spin around like snowflakes.

Anyway, I decided to make a score of it just from fun. It took me a few hours to get the right notes along with a more-or-less ok-ish left hand. But I’m proud of being able to take a simple song and translate it into notes musicians can read. 

Here it is on Musescore where you can hear the synthesizer.

Or download it below. It was just for funsies, but it made me feel super creative.

Feature image by Jill Wellington at pixabay.com

Creative Dissociation!

My wonderful instruments.

I can lose myself in writing so much that time vanishes and, suddenly, it’s lunchtime or time to go to my day job. I’ve been very in and out with my writing pages of fun new revisions or crickets on my WIPs depending on the day or week. 

After a mostly calm summer, things have been escalating in my life again. With COVID issues affecting my family and my job, it’s been a rough autumn and not a great start to winter. My family have all been ill, and my mum tested positive for COVID, which is weird since my dad and I are negative. Luckily, she’s doing well compared to what we feared if either of my parents got COVID. So that’s a fantastic silver lining, and she hopes to be better in a week or so.

This is when I need creative outlets like writing, music, blogs. They help me zone out for even a short time a bit like meditation.

I rediscovered this in music, too. I’ve had my keyboard for a year now and love playing it. I still play my flute and try to learn new tunes occasionally, but last month, I got a violin. 

My MC from Out of Ashes plays violin, and I figured it would be fun to learn. I’ve only learned a little from YouTube videos, but I’m doing ok-ish, and playing some simple things that sound a little like tunes. 

With all the busy days and extra work, I’ve found it hard to get into writing on weekdays, but music, I can play for fifteen minutes to an hour and just let myself go. It’s also useful from a writing perspective to actually do what my MC does. I’m now a huge fan of classical string instruments, and The Piano Guys are on my car playlist. I found them a few years ago, but have been listening to them more to inspire my piano and violin, even though the string instrument is cello. I found some fun tunes that I’m working on. 

This is something I struggle with on the flute because of the top notes, but I can play the basic (and I mean basic) version on piano just fine and can play a little on the violin. But it’s still super inspiring to try and play beyond that simple version. It’s slow going, but practice makes perfect.

It’s always great to have multiple creative pastimes if you’re that way inclined, even if some are just for fun. Creativity is what you need it to be. For me, it’s fun, a distraction, a future career, a little self-validation, and mostly a necessity because I just can’t live without it.

Death Is Only the Beginning!

It’s an old Egyptian saying, which makes sense if you believe in an afterlife. Life is fleeting, but an afterlife is infinite.

Okay, ideology aside, I’m referring to fantasy or Sci-Fi stories where death is either an evolved state or temporary. It happens with people dying and getting turned into cyborgs, fighting their way back to the real world, or long dead voices who can speak to the living. 

It’s not only fun from a magic perspective, but also helpful in the plot. Voices from beyond can guide the MC to do something they can’t do themselves. Death can be reversed with magical spells or some life transferring power. Either way, death is not always the end. 

This is both good and bad for your fantasy or Sci-Fi story. You have to set limits on the revivals or contact with the living otherwise it just comes across as a deus ex machina. They can work in rare cases, but it’s best to set up the possibilities during the story.

Without spoiling too much, I have distinct differences between my versions of heaven, hell and purgatory across my WIPs. And some characters have the capability of returning to the land of the living, while others can only whisper to it or barely touch it. Of course, there are limits to when, where and how to all of it.

So how many ways can death be undone? Here are just a few ways death is only the beginning.

Faking a Death

This works in many genres and doesn’t require any kind of resurrection or special science or magic to bring the person back to life. The reader doesn’t have to know the MC’s boyfriend faked his death to protect her from the mob men who were going to kill her too. In fact, it works best when the MC has no idea until they really need to know. Keeping it a secret is the whole point of faking a death. Sure, you could have the MC fake their death which would make for an interesting story, but the point of this post is the ways the reader will think someone is dead but they’re not gone. 

Unfinished Business

Ghosts, spectres, voices of loved ones. These are people trying to complete something important to them or those they left behind. It could be something personal that they convince someone to do for them. Or they could have been waiting for a “chosen one” to put things right in a bigger sense. Either way, these are nothing more than guides who can’t physically interact, or if they can, they can only manipulate natural elements or signals in the air.

Reincarnation

A character is reborn from centuries ago and has the chance to complete a quest their past self didn’t. They may know they are reincarnated from a young age or they may find out when they’re older and have to figure out where their past self failed so they can avoid making the same mistake. Obviously, their past self died, but why?

Resurrection

Bringing people back to life has to have serious consequences or a very unique or lost spell otherwise everyone would be doing it. My favourite way to do this is some form of special energy like a rare planetary alignment or a hidden relic that is just as dangerous to find as it is to use. That’s the idea of resurrection that it may or will require a sacrifice. You have to balance the energy of your world. Whatever your parameters for this, make them hard as hell to put off even the bravest of souls from trying to bring back a loved one.

Suspended Animation

This mostly works in Sci-Fi like someone in a cryogenic chamber who gets surgery in the future to fix previously fatal wounds.So they were more on the verge of death rather than dead. This also works in fantasy where someone’s magical energy is still alive, but their body has been destroyed. This would leave their character requiring a physical form to be fully alive, which might be magically possible. So again, they’re not completely dead.

However you use death in your story, there are always possibilities.

Featured image by Dieterich01 at Pixabay.

Take Flight

Another story from Dreams of a Fantasist. The title was inspired by Lyndsey’s track, but the story is a Fantasist original.


I run through the battlefield, dodging swinging swords as I go. My weapon long lost, the balance tips further in their favour. Blooded ground stretches out before me until it meets dark mountains beyond. Only starlight casts a faint glow to see the silhouette of the treacherous peaks. 

Loss weighs heavy on me. This war has stolen more than I can bear. 

Fire bursts in the sky and rains down, scorching the land. A phoenix cries from within the flames and heads towards the mountains, its wings sparking and sputtering with fatigue. I must follow it. 

Now, there is only one hope, a beacon I’ve fought hard to find, and finally, I see it. Light glimmers in the distance, and my hope is renewed to end this war as the phoenix lands and awaits my arrival.

The steep slopes grow closer as I chase the heat trail of the phoenix. It whispers words of hope and comfort. For its fire never burns those whose intentions are true. I want this war over and for peace to reign. 

Scrambling up the rock takes all the strength I have in me, each limb pushing further than ever. My last battle. 

Battle cries echo from below, creeping up and piercing my ears. I’ve fought enough in that battle. I’m done. My true quest lies atop this mountain. With one last push, I crawl over the edge and lie flat. 

A tower looms over me, ancient and oddly jagged in its form. I wonder how it can hold itself with such a toppling structure. An arched door opens, and I get to my feet. Golden spirals and whorls adorn the frame, shimmering through the dark night. 

The voice calls again, urging me through the doorway. Stairs greet me, and I take that first step. As I ascend the spiralling stairs, the night sky peeps through sporadic windows, but inside is lit with soft candles that guide my way. 

More light pours in from above, and a soft voice whispers. My legs ache from the climb, but the light spurs me on until it floods a crystal dome at the tower’s tip. Flames reach out, twisting and reforming into something new. 

I breathe in the warm air and let the flames wash over me, bath me, fill me with hope.

A heavenly angel sits upon her winged steed in the centre of the dome. She smiles and reaches out a hand. Wordless, she slides gracefully off her steed and takes me in her arms. Closing my eyes, I absorb her strength, her power, her hope. 

When I open my eyes again, she is gone along with her steed, but the light still fills the dome. I look down to see the light is mine. My skin glows and almost blinds me. Wings form behind me in vibrant flames. The steed’s flight. 

Smiling, I step towards an opening in the dome. Morning sun tints the sky in colours I have I never known. Luminous rays touch the earth where the battle still rages below. They stop their attacks and stare up. Not at the sun, but at me. 

My wings flutter behind me, and the need to leap overwhelms me. The battle ends, and clanging of falling swords echoes throughout the land. I relish in the quiet and peace and hope that no battle is too great to win.

I take flight. 

Feature image by Mark Frost from Pixabay