This month’s games were #AuthorConfession, #HeroesandVillains, #WIPlash, #WriterChronicles and #WriterlyWIPChat.


  1. A House Valerius limerick…
  2. Ash’s list – Stop De Vries. – Regain both his & his father’s swords. – Restore House Valerius.
  3. I think homophones are the ones that bug me the most, particularly there, their, they’re.
  4. De Vries would tell you he’s moving towards a better, fairer Ceteri society. It’s just coincidence that includes him having dominion over them…
  5. Just started The Dinosaur Lords by the late Victor Milán.
  6. Overall, I’d say endings. Although I will admit I had the last page of book 3 in mind before I’d finished book 2.
  7. De Vries would definitely have Sun Tzu’s Art of War and The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. Probably some others about business strategy, how to manipulate people etc.
  8. I think Ash values both but, at this point in his life, he’s more interested in being respected. Or at least taken seriously by those in power. Which might be why them accepting De Vries over him stings as much.
  9. Well, the series is set 2003/2004 so smartphones aren’t a thing yet. But if Ash somehow had one, he’d be using the maps more than anything else.
  10. Not very nice but it is the truth: When my depression was at its worst, I thought about self-harm. Not with any serious intent of hurting myself, more that there would be external evidence of what I was going through.
  11. Nature.
  12. I think out of the 3 I have (Facebook, Instagram & Twitter) I tend to spend more time on Twitter.
  13. Indigo. Not sure I could give you a decent reason why, though.
  14. De Vries likes Vlaai, although he doesn’t indulge very often.
  15. If not someone else, at least himself.
  16. I’m going to say 95% hard work, 5% luck.
  17. Nothing too outlandish. Pay off the mortgage, buy a bigger house, have my own library.
  18. On the plus side, I can go out during the day. On the negative side, I’d probably be dead a lot quicker.
  19. A supreme. Not only would the name appeal to De Vries, but the fact it has some of the most popular toppings is also emblematic of his ability to appeal to various groups of people.
  20. Nowadays it’s a Scrivener file with folders for characters, locations, plot elements, questions etc.
  21. Freedom from being judged and having control of his own life.
  22. Outside by Staind.
  23. Hmm, most of the main characters have had some degree of Praetorian training so they tend to be on the more fatalistic side. Maybe Ash, with the combination of youth and lack of real-world experience.
  24. De Vries is the most obvious threat in the series although the ongoing issue of the Curia swinging back to a more old-fashioned viewpoint might be the greater danger in the long run.
  25. I have a bad habit of letting my sentences run on…
  26. December 28th – The Emancipation of Arkhangelsk.
  27. Given his love of movies, I think Ash would want to be a film-maker.
  28. Comfort. And anonymity.
  29. Yes, but since that’s edging into spoiler territory, I’ll say no more.
  30. Since I’m not sure I’ve got anything usable this month, I’m going to say 0.
  31. Be well.


  1. Hi folks, I’m (mostly) Drew, currently working on my House Valerius urban fantasy series. – I could feel the ragged skin on my face, all taut & itching. I fought the urge to put a hand up, wanting to cover the three-quarters healed scars forming a V-shape.
  2. My hero is Ash Valerian. Valerian is a derivation of Valerius who was one of Ash’s ancestors and the founder of House Valerius, along with his wife Sennaara. And I called him Ash because I love the Evil Dead movies…
  3. My villain is Piter De Vries. The only meaning I ascribe to his name is that Dune was a big influence on me and I always liked the name.
  4. **Potential spoilers** In book 2, both Ash and De Vries are brought before the Curia & told to explain the events of book 1 (attacks on various Ceteri businesses, etc). Unfortunately for Ash, De Vries was the more convincing of the two, setting up book 3.
  5. If De Vries was revealed as the one really behind the campaign of attacks against the Curia’s businesses, he’d want to take as many down with him as he could.
  6. Ash, as of the start of book 3: Physical condition – adequate, despite rationing blood intake and insufficient sleep. Recent facial scars are still in the process of healing. Mental condition – signs of exhaustion and acute depression.
  7. As others have said, if it’s a favourite story, the ending is already known anyway. I think the main thing De Vries would do is make a note not to let that person anywhere near his plans or any other sensitive information.
  8. I think the thing that Ash would have the biggest issue with would be not being taken seriously. It’s one of the few things he and De Vries actually have in common.
  9. If De Vries was to do such a thing, it would probably be about travel. He’s been a lot of places over the years.
  10. If this was during the early days of book 3, Ash would go for some changes of clothes, a backpack (or some other means of carrying them), some longer-lasting but easily carried food, first aid kit. Basically, anything that would help him stay on the move.
  11. In terms of physical scarring, they’ve both taken some damage. De Vries is missing the last two fingers from his right hand. Ash has two scars on his left shoulder (one sword slash, one bullet wound) & now has a ragged V cut into the left side of his face.
  12. At the start of the series, Ash has travelled some but not a lot. Over the course of the 3 books so far, the action has moved from the UK to Russia to Japan, back to the UK, Canada, the US and still going…
  13. De Vries hates having to make nice with the Curia, even though it’s necessary since they are the power in Ceteri society.
  14. Ash does have a fondness for sour gummies…
  15. Given his age and the amount he’s travelled, De Vries has tried most things so there’s not much he would consider fancy. Roast swan, perhaps.
  16. Ash always loved stories from his family history.
  17. De Vries doesn’t celebrate any saints.
  18. Actually, the first time Ash and De Vries meet, De Vries is quite considerate, even offering to help treat Ash’s injuries. He often seems more interested in co-opting Ash to his cause than anything else.
  19. Righteous vengeance. That’s what he believes he is doing.
  20. Ash would fight – I spun, turning inside my attacker’s reach, hand jabbing out hard. I hooked my fingers into the hollow at the base of his throat, eliciting a gagging sound. I used his surprise to turn us, putting him between me and his accomplices.
  21. De Vries does a combination of tai chi for flexibility and running for endurance.
  22. Decomposing flesh.
  23. No reason for De Vries to be in the desert but assuming he’s alone with no other help and he can’t move the rock by himself, he would likely sever the hand. Better that than risk being held in place until the sun comes up. That would be much more painful.
  24. Probably history. It’s always been of interest and, with as long-lived as the Ceteri are, he could get some good first-hand source material.
  25. I suspect Ash would have the harder time of it. Even if he succeeds in stopping De Vries, he still has to put the rest of his life back together.
  26. Well, that would depend on who’s giving the eulogy but the first one that came to mind was Quinn. He’d keep it simple, someting like, “He was a good kid.”.
  27. De Vries already has bodyguards. He’s made a bunch of enemies over the years and will no doubt make more with his cause.
  28. Protecting the people he cares about.
  29. It wouldn’t bother De Vries. He’d just carry on.
  30. I’m not sure I have a good answer for this one.
  31. De Vries has a Jaguar Mark 2, with custom windows. He’s kept it in prime condition for 30-odd years.


  1. I’m a Scotsman living in New Mexico, does that count?
  2. I enjoy the creative energy of it, I keep coming back to it even after extended dry spells and I can’t imagine not doing it. Maybe not the best answer but it’s an honest one.
  3. I’m not sure I could say I consider anyone an idol but the closest are probably Neil Gaiman and the late Sir Terry Pratchett.
  4. Well, the very first would have been written while I was at primary school and would have been influenced by whatever I was reading at the time. I can recall one Narnia-type story and one Blyton-esque story but I couldn’t tell you which came first.
  5. To believe in my writing.
  6. For whatever the reason, these terms always irritate me. Nothing to do with what they stand for, it’s just the words themselves. Yes, I know its a weird thing to get bothered by. Anyways, I prefer the gardener vs architect analogy. I’m a gardener.
  7. I like the creative energy of it; the excitement of a sudden flash of inspiration and the satisfaction of when something comes together in your mind.
  8. It’s difficult to single out just one but if I absolutely had to I would have to say Guards! Guards! by the late Sir Terry. It’s a murder mystery where the murder weapon is a dragon, it’s very funny & it introduces one of my all-time favourite characters, Sam Vimes.
  9. An (attempted) aesthetic…
  10. Ash goes on the run, trying to strike back at De Vries and clear his name.
  11. The whole House Valerius series grew out of a combination of 3 things: 1) a piece I wrote for English class as a teenager. 2) my dissertation from my university course. 3) watching the first Underworld & wondering “what would it be like to grow up in the vampire mansion?”
  12. I usually describe the House Valerius series as urban fantasy.
  13. When The Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin. It feels appropriate for both the plot and Ash’s state of mind at the beginning.
  14. “In their eyes, any who followed you away from that debacle in Japan are equally responsible for his condition.” Anya’s face softened again, a gesture presumably meant to comfort. “At least your people are tech-savvy enough to stay off-grid as much as possible.”
  15. “It’s alright, love.” He headed her off gently. “I’ll join you shortly.” “Liar.” She rounded on him, her eyes beginning to glisten. “You’re going to stay & fight, even though you know it’s hopeless. You’re going to stay & they’re going to kill you.”
  16. A series – novels for the main series storyline and short stories for some of the supporting characters and their backstories
  17. Scarred. Lost. Determined.
  18. I can’t decide if Ash’s biggest fear is not living up to what he thinks his father expects of him or losing control of his own impulses.
  19. Ash hates not being taken seriously.
  20. My current choice to play Ash is Iwan Rheon.
  21. Ash’s family consists of his father, two uncles, 1 aunt and 1 cousin. The majority are Ceteri, like Ash. The exception is his cousin, Elizabeth, who doesn’t have the mutation. Despite that, the two of them grew up together; more like siblings than cousins.
  22. Ash was born at his family’s ancestral home, Shadowcroft Manor, in Cornwall.
  23. Technically, Ash didn’t have a job at the opening of the series. Now, with his father incapacitated, he is technically the head of House Valerius but since the Curia have declared him a traitor that doesn’t count for much.
  24. Not sure much Ash since we’re similar enough that I generally know how he’ll react. Other characters have though.
  25. Book 1 takes place exclusively in the U.K. Book 2 moves from the U.K. to Russia to Japan & back to the U.K. So far book 3 goes back and forth between the U.K. and the U.S., with a side stop in Canada.
  26. So far, the series takes place over a few weeks from Dec 2003 to Jan 2004, so the weather is mainly cold, dark and rainy.
  27. Well, it works for one of the settings anyway…
  28. The flora and fauna are earth standard.
  29. In days past, Ash would often retreat to the library at Shadowcroft.
  30. At the start of book 3, Ash no longer has a home, he’s living out of hotel rooms.


  1. I opened the door to my room and was immediately hit in the chest with two hammer-blows that knocked me staggering back into the hallway. “Lucky,” I thought, even as I struck the opposing wall and began gasping for breath.
  2. I’m Drew (most of the time). Scribbler, book collector, reviewer, general nuisance.
  3. Probably doing this one wrong but… Ash is quite bitter at the opening of book 3. Bitter about the Curia choosing to accept De Vries’ version of events over his & his subsequent outlaw status. Bitter about mistakes he made that led the Curia to turn on him.
  4. I’m working on my House Valerius series. It’s an urban fantasy about a race of genetic vampires who have been part of the world since the days of the Roman Empire. I’m trying to write book 3 while also overhauling books 1 & 2.
  5. Could be anywhere. Something I read, something I hear, something I see on the drive to or from work. That’s the fun of it.
  6. I think everyone should follow: M.L. Spencer, Dyrk Ashton, C.M. Turner, C.T. Phipps, Raimey Gallant, Alex Micati, Elizabeth Mays, Paul Lavender, D.M. Newlun, Ben Galley, Lexi LeFevre, David Humphrey, Andry Bach, T.A. Uner, Ivet Putnam & Kerri Davidson.
  7. The original title of book 1 was In My Father’s House, a nod toward one of my influences. I later changed it to House Valerius since it was the less used name. The titles of books 2 & 3 retain House in the title & are supposed to reflect the events of each.
  8. A line with the word wicked. (it’s in there somewhere).
  9. De Vries’ goal is to re-order Ceteri society. With himself at the head, of course.
  10. What does Ash long for?
  11. Ash wanted to be like his father. Actually, he still does.
  12. I tried to keep this to the core group for book 3. Plus De Vries, just for the hell of it.
  13. Ash at the beginning of book 3 – Try to sleep through the day but wake every couple of hours worried about being attacked. After nightfall, head to the nearest station and get a train to a randomly chosen city. Find a new hotel. Repeat.
  14. Me – Pecan. Ash – Apple.
  15. “No tricks, I promise.” Anja sat her mug down carefully as an almost playful smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Besides, haven’t we already established by now that I’m no threat to you?” “No,” I replied. “But you have shown that you don’t mean me any immediate harm. Probably.”
  16. Yes, they do believe in luck. But they’re not going to rely on it.
  17. See below.
  18. Right now, Ash would settle for anywhere where he could be reasonably sure of avoiding a Curia capture team. Otherwise somewhere where his noctural lifestyle would go unremarked. Vegas, perhaps.
  19. There are season but what I’ve written of the books only covers the space of a few weeks from Dec 2003 – Jan 2004 so it’s just been winter so far.
  20. Progress report – something like this…
  21. It’s pretty much a version of our world circa the early 2000s. But with a race of genetic vampires living alongside the rest of humanity.
  22. My head swam but I sat up. Anja was still in the same clothes she’d been wearing when she’d put me in the bloody coffin in the first place. Her companion was wearing a set of green surgical scrubs, which she somehow managed to make compliment her complexion.
  23. Somewhat. There are often references to my characters listening to music, especially when travelling, but I don’t think you could consider it integral to the plot.
  24. See below.
  25. Some do, some don’t. Ash likes reading, so does Casey. Quinn isn’t much of a reader though.
  26. To make his family proud of him.
  27. Ash will read, Casey likes video games, Jodie listens to music, Quinn watches sports or convinces the others to play cards. MacReady does his own thing since he can go out during the day. I haven’t decided yet how Mbejane spends his downtime.
  28. I haven’t really had cereal in some time but I did like rice crispies when I was younger. As for Ash, he’s been more accustomed to shredded wheat.
  29. I knew I was hiding. Now I was back with the rest of them, the only thing I wanted to do was collapse & not have to deal with all their questions. I hated the feeling, knowing that it was weak, the easy thing to do, but part of me just didn’t care.
  30. Each House has its own doctors and private medical facilities.
  31. I don’t think I can do justice on this one so I’ll pass


  1. Hi folks, I’m (mostly) Drew, currently working on my House Valerius urban fantasy series. As for why I write; well, I enjoy the creative energy of it, I keep coming back to it after extended dry spells and I can’t imagine not doing it.
  2. I’m working on my House Valerius series. It’s an urban fantasy about a race of genetic vampires who have been part of the world since the days of the Roman Empire. I’m trying to write book 3 while also overhauling books 1 & 2.
  3. No, Ash is the only protagonist. All three of the House Valerius books are in 1st person perspective.
  4. I have and will do so again, if asked. Not sure how much help it was though.
  5. If they’re used diligently, I’ll react warmly to them. If they’re used badly or clumsily, I’ll rapidly get annoyed.
  6. All of them, although I’ve been fortunate enough that I haven’t yet encountered the negatives of it that some people experience. Generally, I enjoy it and find myself missing interacting with the people on here when I’m away.
  7. The central problem of the series is De Vries & his ambitions. Ash learns about attacks on Ceteri businesses early in book 1 and by the end knows De Vries is behind them. Book 2 has him trying to convince others about De Vries.
  8. Since Ash was young, his father insisted he take part in Praetorian training including martial arts, use of firearms and swords. Since the start of the series though, he’s relied mostly on Quinn & Casey for field training.
  9. Ash is definitely the most like me.
  10. Well, at the opening of book 3, Ash is on his own, moving from one city to the next, trying to stay ahead of both De Vries and any Ceteri capture teams that might be looking for him.
  11. I’d like think I’ve put a decent amount in, although I’m not sure I could quantify it. After all, there’s a fair bit that hasn’t made it into the series yet…
  12. Well, I will admit to liking gadgets but nowadays I generally wait until I need to replace something.
  13. A four-letter word, rhymes with duck.
  14. Food hasn’t had a very prominent role in the series so far, but it’s been more of a social thing. That may change a little with Ash being on his own and with limited resources.
  15. With them being hunted, Quinn is returning to his old bounty killer ruthless pragmatism. As Ash is relying on him more and more, he’s becoming more amoral.
  16. Yes, I do post my reviews on Goodreads.
  17. Ash – To put a stop to De Vries’ plans. Me – To ensure health and safety for my loved one.
  18. It wasn’t until I saw them standing in the doorway that it hit me how much I’d needed to see them again. Without words, I stepped out & hugged them. They were my friends & I’d missed them. At that moment, it was all that mattered.
  19. Honestly, I have my doubts about being published by either method.
  20. I’d say it depends. More important when it’s an author I’ve never read before.
  21. Without a doubt and more than I can put a number to.
  22. As of the early chapters of book 3, the main one influencing Ash is Anja Kavčič. But once he reunites with Quinn and Casey, he takes his cues from them.
  23. I’ve been known to try switching to a different project to give myself a change of mental scenery. Doesn’t always work mind you.
  24. I try to find a middle ground; detailed enough that everyone is distinctive, vague enough that people can form their own impressions. Not sure if I accomplish it.
  25. Progress Report…
  26. Description, not exposition. Build a picture for your readers and let them draw out the elements you want.
  27. Being smuggled out of the UK in a coffin…
  28. I’ll let you know when I have a final draft of something.
  29. His own self-doubt.
  30. Offhand, I think there’s maybe a couple per book.
  31. Hmm, well, I know how book 3 ends but I’m not sure where the ultimate end is. So, pass.

As Always, Thanks to the hosts:

#AuthorConfession – J.M. Sullivan & Jessica Julien

#HeroesandVillains – Troy H.W. Greenwood

#WIPlash – Caitlin Mazur, Michelle Perry & K.C. Clarke

#WriterChronicles – Amber Elzinga

#WriterlyWIPChat – Kerri Davidson & Mark Gelinas, Sr.

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