Out of Context: new weekly writing prompt

As you know from my previous posts, the weekly Weekend morning writing activity came to an end upon reaching the 50th week, but that doesn’t mean I will stop from posting at least once a week. What I will do, is just change the rules with a new series that I hope you’ll find interesting.

So here are the rules:

  • the genre must be fiction, preferably fantasy
  • the content will be based on one random sentence I heard during the week (in a conversation I wasn’t part of)
  • the post must be weekly, during the weekend, but there is no longer the restriction of posting only in the morning
  • the length is flexible (it can be as short as a haiku or as long as a short story)

That’s it in a nutshell. If you have any suggestions on how I can make this writing activity even better, I am eager to hear each and every one of your ideas!

Posted in An author's view

To Read List 2020

2020 was a special year, no doubt, full of its highs and lows and challenges for humanity. Now that we’re coming at an end, it’s high time for me to share my reading list.

I want to think there is a silver lining to this year, at least in terms of reading. Staying quarantined and taking classes online gave me plenty occasions to pursue this enlightening hobby, and I think that, from this perspective, 2020 has proven fruitful.

Without further ado, here is the list!

  1. Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari)
  2. Homo Deus (Yuval Noah Harari)
  3. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  4. Conversations with a Writing Coach (Susan May Warren)
  5. (Beta) Rise of the Fomori: Lies of the Haven (Jenni Shumate)
  6. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (J. R. R. Tolkien)
  7. A Game of Thrones (George R. R. Martin)
  8. The Long Earth (Terry Pratchet & Stephen Baxter)
  9. A Way of Kings (Brandon Sanderson)
  10. Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson)
  11. Labyrinth (J. P. Beaubien)
  12. The Two Princes (spotify podcast)
  13. Manipulating the Clock (C. S. Lakin)
  14. Writing the Heart of Your Story (C. S. Lakin)
  15. 10 Ways to Generate Ideas (Beth Barany)
  16. Snapshot (Brandon Sanderson)
  17. The Kill Order (James Dashner) (reread)
  18. Royal Assassin (Robin Hobb)
  19. The Lovecraft Compendium (H. P. Lovecraft)
  20. Crescent City – House of Earth and Blood (Sarah J. Maas)
  21. The Blade Itself (Joe Abercrombie)
  22. Before They Are Hanged (Joe Abercrombie)
  23. To Kill a Kingdom (Alexandra Christo)
  24. Shadow of the Conqueror (Shad M. Brooks)
  25. Angelfall (Susan Ee)
  26. World After (Susan Ee)
  27. End of Days (Susan Ee)
  28. (Beta) Mind Captive (Jenni Shumate)
  29. The Fifth Science (Exurb1a)
  30. The Ethics of Authenticity (Charles Taylor)
  31. Dracula (Bram Stoker)
  32. The Writer’s Journey (Christopher Vogler)
  33. Tithe (Holly Black)
  34. The Cruel Prince (Holly Black)
  35. The Wicked King (Holly Black)
  36. The Queen of Nothing (Holly Black)
  37. ATLA comics (all)
  38. (Beta) Feud: A Lies of the Haven Novella
  39. Half a King (Joe Abercrombie)
  40. Half the World (Joe Abercrombie)
  41. Half a War (Joe Abercrombie)
  42. Save the cat! (Blake Snyder)
  43. A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas) (reread)
  44. A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J. Maas) (reread)
  45. A Court of Wings and Ruin (Sarah J. Maas) (reread)
  46. Who moved my cheese? (Spencer Johnson)

A good many of these books were added to the list on a whim, and I am proud to admit that I managed to read most of the books I intended to. In retrospective, this was a very good year for trilogies (from a multitude of authors: Joe Abercrombie, Holly Black, Susan Ee and Sarah J. Maas). In total, I managed to read 39/46 books on the list, and that is an achievement I am content with. Of course, I do hope that in 2021 I will reach an even higher number. Consider it my New Year’s resolution, if you will.

Now, a question for you. What book(s) have you read that you are proud of? Maybe I’ll give them a read as well!

Until next time. I wish you a wonderful 2021 and, of course, happy reading!

Posted in An author's view, Bookish stuff

To Read List 2019

So many things can happen in a year, both expected and unexpected. The same can be said about the reading list I had planned for this year. Now that it has come to an end (already!), I see what a strange turn the original 2019 reading list took. Books were taken out and books were added. The outcome, to be frank, I am pleased with.

So without further ado, here’s my 2019 reading list now that the year has come to an end:

  1. L’étranger (Albert Camus)
  2. The Assassin’s Blade (Sarah J. Maas)
  3. Throne of Glass (Sarah J. Maas)
  4. Crown of Midnight (Sarah J. Maas)
  5. Heir of Fire (Sarah J. Maas)
  6. Queen of Shadows (Sarah J. Maas)
  7. Empire of Storms (Sarah J. Maas)
  8. Tower of Dawn (Sarah J. Maas)
  9. Kingdom of Ash (Sarah J. Maas)
  10. La terre sauvage (Julia Verlanger)
  11. Harry Potter et l’école des sorciers (J. K. Rowling)
  12. In Defense of Globalisation (Jagdish Bhagwati)
  13. The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss)
  14. A la recherche du temps perdu (Marcel Proust)
  15. North and South (Elisabeth Gaskell)
  16. C’est la vie – The French Art of Letting Go (Fabrice Midal)
  17. Stupeur et tremblements (Amélie Nothomb)
  18. La Théo des fleuves (Jean Marc Turine)
  19. Coeur d’encre (Cornelia Funke)
  20. Chansons d’amour médievales (Rodica Stanciu Capota)
  21. Dreamwalker (J. D. Oswald)
  22. Royal Assassin (Robin Hobb)
  23. Inferno (Dan Brown)
  24. Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
  25. Exercises de style (Raymond Queneau)
  26. The Fork, the Witch and the Worm (Christopher Paolini)
  27. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (Yuval Noah Harari)
  28. Mademoiselle Scaramouche (Jean Michel Payet)
  29. La socialisation (Muriel Darmon)

So this means I’ve read 24/29 books from my list this year. And some of them were quite consistent.

What excites me most is having read all in a year Sarah J. Maas’s whole 8-book series A Throne of Glass, and it has become my favourite series (and author) yet.

On a side note, I find that many of the books, and this great series in particular, very inspiring for my own creative process. For once, I actually invested time in worldbuilding and plotting ahead. I’ve been starting to put some distance between myself and my comfort zone which is being a discovery writer and just going with the flow. And to my surprise, it can be just as much fun!

To cut to the chase, I wish you a happy 2020, full of great books and inspiration, as 2019 proved to be for me.

Posted in An author's view, Out of Context

Miss, I didn’t understand anything – Ooc #10

“And you see this is why dragons prefer to nest on castle towers or on cliffs and not in the forest or in some swamp like other minor lizards. Then there is the problem of weather. You see the sun, how’s it shining up on the horizon, you can see it through the leaves. Don’t tell me you don’t see it.”

“But it’s night…”

“And how brightly it is shining! I received a letter, once, from the sun. It was delightful. He asked to meet me under the willow. You know the willow, the one where the fairies, go to party, so everyone else avoids because they think they will cast dark magic on them? They’re very nice. I’ve seen them play with the neighbouring witch. You’ve met her, haven’t you? Lovely girl. I think I met her two hundred years ago, and she still looks as young as the first day. I wish I had her hair. Look, even yours is falling off! Mine has fallen already, there’s none left!”

“But you’ve still got…”

“And the treats! Don’t forget the treats. Cookies and cupcakes on flying plates, and colourful top hats on foxes’ heads. Even now when I look at the clear sky I can see the rainbows from that special day. They would show up in dozens!”

“But it’s raining tonight…”

“Not to mention the dozens of shrooms, we would go out into the rain forest and pick them up, then mix them with the swamp water and dream well every night. Do you remember, dear? Of course you don’t, you were too young to remember, but you had such a good time. My best friend’s girl came too, and I used to make her a princess out of a story book. Of course, she was a princess anyway, but I made her special with a nice haircut. And you were the bandit. Oh, how much fun we had in the caves!”

“Miss, I didn’t understand anything!”

Posted in An author's view, Out of Context

Then, which way do we go? – Ooc #9

“Are you sure we’re going the right way?”

“Yes, the man at the inn said the vegetation would start to dry up if we went this way. I can even see how the leaves are falling.”

“That’s because it’s autumn, genious,” joined in a third person.

“Well, yeah, but the branches are becoming more and more dry and gray. Looks like they’re about to crack.”

“Hmm, it could be.”

The three adventurers stopped arguing and kept moving forward through a forest they knew little of. Deep within, each of them was scared, but neither would admit it. If you paid attention, you could notice it in the heavy steps they took and in the way they gripped their weapons, as if they were afraid they might be snatched. The forest did get darker and more lifeless as the man had told them.

“Why are we even doing this again?” asked the first person.

“Because we’re desperate and need to live off something,” shortly explained the second. “There isn’t much else three orphans like us can do in the world other than mercenary jobs. Lucky us we can do even those.”

“I agree. The other thing we could do is become highwaymen, bandits, and I would much rather avoid that. Laws are there for a reason.”

“Okay, sure. You two have a point. But this is probably the most dangerous thing we’ve ever done. That man mentioned something about spiders and moving corpses. I’d prefer facing a group of goblins.”

“Even after they stole you and almost ate you?”

“Even so. Oh, the road is splitting up ahead.”

“There’s bodies on the ground to the left. Must be the living dead. And to the right there’s a whole lot of webs, I don’t think we can even walk past them. They’re too thick.”

“Then, which way do we go?”

The three of them were left wondering. The man hadn’t told them the road would come to a fork, so they had to decide a course of action all by themselves. Before they even came up with ideas, something else happened. A scream of terror could be heard echoing through the forest. A different voice followed, screaming just as well. The three adventurers opened their eyes wide and looked at each other.

“There’s someone else here. And they need help.”

“It’s coming from the webs. You said yourself we can’t get through.”

“Do you intend to leave them to die? What if it were you in their place? Do what you want, I’m going.”

Before waiting for an answer, the adventurer disappeared behind the webs, cutting through them as he moved forward, closer to the sound source. Whether his fellow adventurers followed or not, he didn’t check, for he had other troubles ahead. Not too long after entering the webbed area, he met with the source of the sound, and was left petrified by what he saw.

A spider, a giant one five times his height, towering above him at only a few steps distance. Its many eyes turned to watch the newcomer. In a matter of seconds, more spiders, tall enough to reach his hips, formed a circle around the prey. Then the mother of all spiders let out a shriek that sounded very much alike as the shouting people the adventurer had heard. It turned out there had never been any people shouting, but only a trap set by the mother and her offspring.

Stunned beyond all rationality, the adventurer fainted.

Posted in An author's view, Out of Context

Then I’ll come with you – Ooc #8

“Wait up! Stop… wait… hey!”

The huntsman stopped and turned around, facing back the village he had only just left, and turning his back to the forest full of danger. His brows knitted into a frown.

“What is it, kid?”

“You forgot this shiny thing of yours back at my place.”

“The Path Crystal! I could have never forgotten such an item, give it back here, you thief!”

“Take it, I didn’t steal it. Promise.” In a rage, the huntsman took the small orange crystal from the boy’s hand and it started glowing stronger than before. “Woah! It’s even more beautiful now.”

“Go home, kid. This thing is none of your business.”

“You said earlier you’d be going on a mission for the king, right?”

“A dangerous mission. Who I’m doing it for is irrelevant.” As he spoke, the huntsman began turning around, ready to leave. However, the boy’s next words made him freeze midway.

“Then I’ll come with you!” You could feel his excitement coming out from every pore. The boy also began jumping happily, already making the first step deeper into the forest. The huntsman turned back around and pushed his free hand against his shoulder to stop him.

“There’s no way you’re coming with me. You’re young and this is a dangerous trip.”

“I don’t care of the danger. I can protect myself!” As if to demonstrate it, he took out of nowhere a beautiful dagger. An heirloom of a royal family long forgotten. Could he be… “Besides,” he added on the sad tone. “Nobody here likes me. They think I’m useless and foolish because I do things differently. I want to prove them wrong, show them I can do something important and do it right! I know I don’t belong here.”

“And so you decided to tag along with me.”

“Yes! I really want to come.”

The huntsman paused to think for a moment, scratching his beard. He gazed once again at the boy, then at the dagger he was holding, then back at the boy again. His grip was firm, and his face serious. He reminded him of himself, not too long ago.

“No second thoughts?”

“I swear!”

“In that case, we’d better get moving. There’s a long way to go.”

“So you’re letting me come?” The smile on the boy’s face was the most precious thing the huntsman had seen in too long. He smiled back.

“Don’t make me change my mind.”

Full of excitement, the boy followed, sheathing back his dagger and looking around the forest. So far it was an area he knew well, better than most villagers in fact, but soon they would enter a darker place, one he had never dared venture out to. The huntsman next to him felt his slight fear, and knew how to exploit it.

“Do you know what we’ll be up against?”


“Let me tell you then. There will be wolves, really big ones with fangs like daggers. Luckily, these ones are immune to the common sickness so we don’t need to fear getting sick from them.”

“How come they’re immune?”

“Because they’re in fact werewolves, and they’re so much stronger than normal wolves. They’re the worst of their kind. Then we’ll have to face grotesque creatures like goblins and trolls, decaying corpses that pull you neath the ground, harpies, imps and… show I continue?”

“I think I can picture it well enough.” The boy swallowed as he was trembling, his eyes wide open and fixed on a point somewhere ahead, never looking down to see where he was stepping. To break him from that trance-like state, the huntsman put one foot before him as an obstacle for him to lose balance. It worked, and the boy was close to hitting the ground when the huntsman caught him midair.

“You’re not changing your mind now, are you?”

Standing back up, the boy looked the huntsman in the eye and spoke: “No way. I said I’d be coming. No second thought now.”

The huntsman liked the boy. He really reminded him of himself, back in the days.