The girl who was Phoenix


The Girl Who Was Phoenix

She woke up to find ash in her hair, her fingernails, all over her body. She coughed violently. In her lungs too, apparently.

She stood up, aware of aches and pains all over her body, and wearily scanned the small room around her. At least, what appeared to be the sooty remains of one. Somewhere far-off she could hear Life going on as always, random noises drifting in through the broken windows.

But around her everything was silent. This used to be her world, she realised. Now it was gone. Life did not reach here anymore –- everything in here was dead. Except…

She looked down and saw that, despite the wreckage around her, she was unscathed. She was alive. A Life.

Slowly a smile spread across her lips. As long as there is life, there is hope. And as long as there is hope, there is something to fight for, something worth being a-Life for.

She started to clamber over debris and destruction, trying to reach a large hole in the wall. She pushed obstacles out of her way, clawing at the rubble still obscuring her passage to freedom.

Finally she broke through into the blinding light, rising out of the ashes.

And as she started to walk towards the future, she laughed.

Because that’s who I am, she thought. The girl who was Phoenix.


Written 17 May 2010. Originally posted on

Intimacy from a distance

I blog, therefore I am

As I start out on yet another blogging platform (Posterous), I can’t help but wonder, what is this compulsion to keep writing about my personal life and views even when apparently no one cares? I mean, just look at the blogosphere, teeming with hopeful amateurs and disillusioned veterans. Why do we keep creating new places to share our thoughts? Don’t we already have an easier solutions via platforms like Facebook or Pinterest where quick, painless sharing fits perfectly into our ADD lifestyles?

Honestly, I don’t know. I suppose part of that answer, for me at least, is that I am a writer. It’s more than just a profession, it’s a calling; either you are a writer or you’re not. When a writer ignores the words that have to come out, she slowly whittles away until she can’t do anything else but give in to it.

But what about all those millions of bloggers out there who are not writers, but still responding to the siren call of The Blog? I believe it’s part of human nature, that deep-rooted need to be heard, to feel like we matter, to be part of something bigger than just ourselves. And what could be bigger than the vast expanse of the internet?

The world at large has become more focused on the individual at the expense of community, and we seem to compensate for that loss of contact by reaching out to a virtual global community – to strangers – that is just waiting to hear from us on the other side of our solitary computer screens. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves as we click “Publish” and our words spill out into that endless, silent void.

Intimacy from a distance.

Holly Lisle announces that she’s closing shop to focus on writing

Author photo of Holly Lisle

Holly Lisle

It was with a curious mixture of sadness and delight that I read author Holly Lisle’s recent announcement that she will be closing her shop and putting an end to all her online writing courses, to focus on what she loves most: writing fiction.

I am a How to Think Sideways graduate and advocate, and with good reason. It has been one of the best things to ever happen in my life, and I do mean life, not just writing.

Throughout the course she challenged me as a person, my believes, my goals, my priorities and my maturity as a writer and a human being. Yes, Holly Lisle is like that, and she does not apologize for it either.

That is why I’m not surprised that she has decided to follow the advice she’s been giving her students for years: follow your passion. And if you click through to the announcement on her blog, you will find over 180 comments of people cheering her on, because she’s the type of person who inspires that kind of love and loyalty.

In case you have not yet joined any of her courses, there’s still time. She plans on moving all her current courses to Kindle/Nook/iTunes/Createspace over the next two years (removing them from her website as she does that), so you have till February 2012 to register for the online version of How to Think Sideways before she closes that door permanently. Her other courses, How To Revise Your Novel and How To Write A Series will follow suit.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to a woman who has coached, cheered on, encouraged, challenged, laughed and cried with thousands of writers. She has shared and nurtured their dreams and gave them more than just a mere writing course: she gave them a door to their passions, and a roadmap to their dreams.

Thank you Holly Lisle, for being such an inspiration, and a great human being to boot. Know that there’s an army of people supporting you, and waiting with bated breath for your next book. And the next one. And the one after that.

Friday’s indispensable Words of Wisdom or Nonsense (FiWoWon, in case you forgot)

The rough draft of [Divergent #2] was the hardest thing I have ever written, and I had no idea why. After discarding every explanation I came up with, I was finally able to land on the one that was actually true: it was all related to fear.

Most of that anxiety comes from my constant assessment of other people’s opinions about me. So, you can imagine what happened when I entered into a profession in which assessments of my work are constant, abundant, and very, very public.

Then someone pointed out that I chose to write a book about bravery. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that I wrote about [Tris] because I longed for that quality of hers that is so distinctive to me: she chooses the true thing instead of the safe thing. And what she discovers is that the freedom to become who she wants to be is worth the danger.

I’ve learned from Tris that there aren’t really safe places — or that if there are, I don’t really want to be in them, because it’s not who I am.

I don’t want to be a writer who is ruled by fear. I want to be the one who says: they may not like it, but this story is as true as possible, so I don’t mind.

Anxiety doesn’t just disappear. But I am determined not to consult my fear when I make decisions, in life and in writing.

Veronica Roth, author of Divergent. Read the first 100 pages of the book, available on HarperTeen.

The above is an excerpt from this post on her blog.


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You know you’ve read a good book when…

Quote about good books

You know you have read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend

(Reblogged from

Drabble: “Lure”

Aheila’s Drabble Challenge is a weekly feature on Aheila’s blog. The aim: to write a 100-word story (a drabble) ± 5 words, based on her prompt. This week the word is “Lure”. Here’s my take:



The Venus flytrap opens her lips to release a sickly sweet perfume like a mating call. Not all will love it. But those who do will be lured into her clutches the way a witch charms her victims with unbreakable spells.

Shh, her quarry has arrived.

It stands at the entrance, hesitant and suspicious, yet tempted beyond reason. First one foot. Slowly another. Oh how intoxicating that smell! Delirium takes it forward in a rush of wild excitement.

The trap springs shut!

Inside her belly, surrounded by that sweet opium, it will die a slow death.

Hungry no more, she is content for now.

Drabble: “Race”

Aheila’s Drabble Challenge is a weekly feature on Aheila’s blog. The aim: to write a 100-word story ± 5 words (i.e. a drabble) based on her prompt. This week, the word is “Race”. Here’s my take.



I recoiled as the first blow fell. Then came the onslaught: fists raining down, feet kicking, boys jeering like a mob gone mad.

Taunting, hate-filled eyes challenged me to stop them. But I was helpless and they knew it.

Their vengeance spent, they reluctantly left. The iron grips around my arms fell away and I stumbled to the ground.

He just lied there, broken and bloody. Gingerly I touched my lover’s face. My skin against his—my dark chocolate against his white milk … now changed to red by gaping wounds.

I may be black, but my blood is red too.


Afterthought: I kept the style obscure because it just seemed to suite this piece, but in case some meaning was lost I’m giving an explanation below (if you didn’t get the meaning, let me know in the comments please!)

A girl is forced to watch a gang of racists beat up her lover. She is black, but the part that makes this violence so much worse, is that her lover is white. “My skin against his—my dark chocolate against his white milk…” But his blood is red, and that is the only colour that matters—on the inside they are the same colour.