NaNoWriMo Prep 2017 #1

NaNoWriMo Participant BannerYes, it’s that time of year again, National Novel Writing Month prep season is upon us! This will be my (lucky?) 13th time participating. As you can see from the screenshot below, last year didn’t go so well…

2016 novel stats screenshot

In my defence, I had a young baby and was desperately writing up my MSc dissertation, so I was a bit busy and a bit tired. But hey, look at that lifetime word count! Over half a million NaNoWriMo words! That’s good, right?

Anyway, this year I have decided to have another bash at last year’s story. This will technically be the 3rd attempt at it. I planned to write it for 2015 then changed my mind at the last minute (see NaNoWriMo 2015), before having a proper go in 2016. The whole novel is planned from start to finish, the Scriviner file is set up and ready to go. I just need to refresh myself on my notes and we’ll be all set.

The added challenge: this year during November I will be on my PhD! Is this good for NaNo or bad? I’m not sure yet. I’ll be busy, I’ll have lots of work to do and be finding my feet in my new academic environment. On the other hand I’ll be at university managing my own time so finding a quiet hour in the library every day might be easier. Who knows! But I do have a plan and I do have the motivation so at least I’ve got a chance.

However, since I’m already ‘ready’, and it’s still a while until November, and I don’t start my PhD for a couple of weeks, I’m doing a little something else in the meantime. Something I should be working on now actually. Something with pixies…IN SPACE! Coming soon, watch this space ;).



NaNoWriMo Prep 2016 #1

What year is it now? 2016? So the first year I took part in NaNoWriMo was 2005, which will make this year NaNo #12 for me! That’s a lot of words written, and a lot of lessons learned. You’d think after ten years I’d be an expert at it, however despite all my experience, last year was an abject failure for me. We can partly put that down to me being busy with my MSc and a scary time in my pregnancy with Asher, so maybe I wasn’t giving it my all. 

Perhaps NaNoWriMo has lost some of it’s thrill for me in recent years. I already know I can write 50,000 words in 30 days. I have a large collection of unfinished/unedited manuscripts that never seem any closer to being read by anyone other than me, and each year I add another to the collection. Motivation has been at an all time low. “What’s the point?” I ask myself. NaNoWriMo is no longer the challenge. I can do 50K with ease, if I can be bothered. So does that mean I’m done with NaNo?

Heck no!

I still get excited every year just before November, eagerly joining in the forums and chatting with fellow wrimos about plans and dreams and the real life that threatens to get in the way of them. I still look forward to NaNoWriMo. I just can’t sustain that motivation through the month anymore. 

So what’s a girl to do? 

Actually I already know. I need to be honest and redefine what ‘success’ means for me. With 11 NaNos under my belt I have enough of a track record to draw some solid conclusions about which of my attempts were the most satisfying. Success is not another 50K. I’ve got plenty of them. Nor is it 75k. 100k or any other arbitrary word count target. Stumbling across whatever finish line there is with a meandering tangle of a manuscript doesn’t make me feel good any more. All that does is leave me a load more work rewriting that I don’t have time to do!

 Success is a first draft I can work with without having to restructure it from the ground up once December comes. Success requires careful thought and planning in advance. Success cannot be ‘pantsed’. I can pants my way to 50k but I can’t feel happy about it at the end. Basically, the stories I’m happiest with are the ones I outlined. The ones languishing is the purgatory of unfinished books are the ones I pantsed. I can’t even look at them. I need happy, well organised books.

So this year I return to my old planning ways. I’m going to try following K.M.Weiland’s guidance in “Outlining your novel”. I’ve done the snowflake method before with some success (NaNoWriMo 2007 – Cold Spell), but I want to try some different techniques. I started following her workbook last year but ended up changing ideas and winging it at the last minute (big mistake!). This year I have the workbook and the ebook that goes with it so we’ll try this again. 

Prep for NaNo 2016 officially starts here. I have the beginning of an idea – basically the magical equivalent of a former secret service agent gets stuck protecting a kid from dark forces, but has no idea why anyone wants to hurt them. That’s all I’ve got, so it will be fun to see how the idea grows as I work through the outlining process. If it doesn’t work, I’ve still got most of an outline from last year that I didn’t use to fall back on. 

Getting excited about NaNo again this year now. Yay :). Roll on November! But not too fast, I’ve got planning to do first…

NaNoWriMo 2015: Days 1-2

NaNo-2015-Participant-BannerIt’s NaNoWriMo 2015! Yay! We are on the second day and so far writing is going well. I’m on target. I did originally say I was planning a book for Nano involving parallel universes. And plan I did. I have a whole plan worked out. Unfortunately I lost the fun, and slightly lost the point, so that story is out and a new story is in. I’m writing a sequel, baby, yeah!

This year I’m finally doing a book 2. I’ve got lots of book 1s all alone, so it’s time for me to start getting some series done. I’m back with Flora, Bryn and Issa for the sequel to Cold Spell: Wild Fire.

Check it out on my participant profile

The Pros of working on a sequel

  • I know the characters already so there’s none of that early awkwardness of finding the voice with this book. We’re picking up where we left off!
  • I’ve not planned this book, I just have a vague path in my mind, but I love these guys and can’t wait to see what happens to them next. I’m feeling confident that lack of planning isn’t going to make me stall this time.
  • It’s been 8 years since I wrote the original so giving them a new story kind of feels like writing my own fanfic! 🙂

The Cons

  • I can’t completely remember every detail of the original. What was the name of that character? Which town was that? Did this event happen like this or did I change it in editing? And NaNo is not the time to go back and check so I’ll have some work sorting my facts and continuity out later.
  • Time jump exposition. This book picks up six months after the previous one, so I seem to have a lot of words about what happened during the down time. But hey, it’s all words, right?

But I’m happy, excited. 2 days in and we’re going well. Bring on the rest of the month. I’m ready for you, November!

3500 words and counting

Multiple writing projects

My final MSc assignment is in so I’ve got no university work until October. Though I couldn’t resist signing up for a bunch of free courses on Coursera* and I’ve got a pile of psychology text books out of the library just because they look interesting, I still want to make progress with my writing before I start my dissertation next year. But which project to choose?!

After 10 years of nanowrimo, plus the diary challenge, I’ve got a lot of novels and ideas in various states of completion. I probably should pick one project and give it all my attention, but where’s the fun in that? Instead I’m going to have four projects, each at a different stage of development, to enjoy the benefits of productive procrastination. Productive procrastination is great. I discovered it during my open university course. When I had an essay due but I didn’t feel like working on it I’d start reading for the next unit instead. I still had a last minute panic to meet deadlines but at least I was ahead on the next bit. Procrastinating with something you need to do can sometimes be a good thing!

So, with that in mind, four projects. One editing, one restructuring, one writing and one planning. Daily set writing periods. If I’m stuck on one book or stage, no problem. Procrastination on a different one is fine. Encouraged even 😀.

Project 1 (editing): Cold Spell

I just reread this after a very long break. Having forgotten most of it I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was a fun read! It’s in need of a good edit, but after being faced with two WIPs that need major rewrites having something that’s closer to the final version is a welcome relief! It’s might be worth noting that I used the snowflake method to plan this one, so it may have resulted in a stronger structure from the outset.

Project 2 (restructuring): Technomancer

Needs something more drastic than an ‘edit’. I’m currently working on a new outline that will hopefully fix the plot problems!

Project 3 (writing): Elderwood University

In a departure from my usual style I attempted to ‘pants’ a novel for camp nanowrimo. Pantsing is a delightful term from the community that refers to writing without a plan or outline. I wrote about 20,000 words for camp, in which an interesting world started to develop so I’m going to carry on and see where it goes.

Project 4 (outlining): Otherside (working title)

I have officially created my Scrivener file for what will be my 2015 NaNoWriMo effort. It’s something completely new. All I will say about it now is the idea came to me in a dream (yeah, sorry!) and I wrote a short piece for the diary challenge based on it. And it just might involve parallel universes….

I think that’s enough to be getting on with! Might even finish something one day :).

*who could resist computational neuroscience? Not me!

NaNoWriMo 2014

NaNoWriMo winner banner

I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog about National Novel Writing Month this year. This wasn’t by design. I’ve just been very busy. When I went into the challenge I wasn’t feeling confident about ‘winning’. I’ve only lost NaNo once, in 2006. What went wrong in 2006, you may well ask. University went wrong. As an Open University student, most of the time I had the wonderful good fortune of an academic year that started in January and finished in October, just in time to completely devote myself to NaNoWriMo. Except for 2006, when the course started in October instead. That year I wrote only 5,000 words.

So let’ s just say I didn’t have very high expectations going into this year. Not only was I only 1 month into a Masters degree, I have the added distraction of two children who weren’t around in 2006, and still work 4 days a week. I planned to fail. I decided that rather than end up with 5000 words of a beginning to abandon I might as well add to one that I still needed to finish. That way even if I only wrote a tiny bit it would at least be a little bit I needed.

At first things did not go well. For the first couple of days getting back into the swing of continuing a story I started six years ago was hard going. Even after spending a couple of months rereading and plotting I didn’t feel very well acquainted with my book. I think my book and I sat together in awkward silence for the first hour of November while I tried to come up with valid reasons to ditch it and wing it on a new one instead. Fortunately the only reason I could come up with was ‘finishing my old book is too hard and I don’t wanna write it’. So since that was a stupid reason, I persevered. I wrote 50,000 words. I finished my book.

So how on Earth did I manage it, with two kids and a job and university, when I failed so badly the last time? I think there are two main factors:

1) Mark
Having a supportive spouse was key! Mark always does NaNoWriMo with me, but after realising he just wasn’t going to be able to make 50,000 words himself this month he’s gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure I had enough time to do it. Thank you, Markie! I would not have finished the first draft of my book this month without you.

2) Experience
2006 was my 2nd NaNoWriMo attempt. I won the first year, with a story I had planned quite well in advance. I had successfully completed one other novel prior to that and it took me about 7 years to finish that one. I was inexperienced.
This year marked my 10th anniversary of taking part in NaNoWriMo. I’ve also spent much more time outside NaNo editing, done Script Frenzy a couple of times, and done my daily writing challenge. I’ve developed good writing habits in that time, and I think it’s likely that my typing speed has improved. I have got better at doing NaNo :).

What have I learned this year? I’ve learned that if I get up at 6am I can fit a lot of writing in before breakfast, and that’s something I’m going to try and do for the rest of the year as I go through the editing process with this book. I also learned that I can do this with University. I can make a little time for writing every day. And next year I can work on something new because I don’t have to plan to fail next time. I can plan to win 🙂

Camp NaNoWriMo


Yup, signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo! Before anyone says I’m crazy, let me assure you I have not signed up for another 50,000 word monster first draft to lie unfinished and unedited on the hard drive for years. I have signed up to complete another 30,000 words of ‘Homunculus’, my 2012 NaNo tale of androids and psions in the far-future encompassing large amounts of material from the DD303 course books (it was my final year of uni, my head was kind of in that zone). I’m hoping that this will take me to ‘the end’ and I can move it to the edit pile. Since I’m going to be concentrating on that for the next month I had hoped to get two short stories finished this month for my other challenge. I typed up two different stories from The Diary and spent a lot of time thinking before finally admitting that neither of them where right. These were the original challenges:
Point of View Character Tag:
1 scene written from 2 different PoVs:

They were both fun writing challenges, and I invite anyone to have a go at them for themselves :). But in the end I just had scenes, not a complete story, and I’d be happy to share them but it’s more of a writing group thing (any of the Lancs & Cumbria Wrimos fancy taking on the challenge?). So, I’m giving you something else over the next couple of months. Probably my favourite piece from the whole of the diary challenge – my 2011 script frenzy script ‘The Captain’s Blog’. This was planned to be a ten-episode web series, so super short episodes of about 5 minutes each. It was also the last Script Frenzy, so a fitting thing to share in April when the challenge used to run :(. I could just publish an episode a month and get to the end of the year very easily, but that seems like a bit of a cheat, so this month I will give you episode 1 and I’ll try and update once a week. That should get me through to the end of May and give me enough time to finish my novel before starting another short story editing job. So check in on Friday for Episode 1: Alone.

Right, where was I up to in that novel now…

NaNoWriMo 2012

It’s December, which means my 8th NaNoWrMo is over, and I am a…

NaNo Winner bagde

Yes, last month I wrote 50,271 words of ‘Homunculus’ (see my profile for synopsis and horrible excerpt), secured my 7th Nanowrimo win, and wrote 139 more words than last year :). But last year I got to 50,132 words, closed the document and have not opened it since. This year will be different. I went into November with a rough chapter outline and an ending in mind. 50K took me to about half way through that plan, so I shall write on through December and I shall reach the mystical realm of ‘the end’. So look out 100,000 words, because I’m coming to get you!

Homunculus – 50,271 words and counting…



NaNoWriMo 2012

NaNo participant web badge

It’s that time of year again! Time to write a novel. It’s fair to say that November has snuck up on me this year, what with small people and my degree just finished. I have only the bare bones of a plan, but that’s better than nothing :).

This year is a first for me. I’m doing sci-fi! And not ‘Pixies in Space’ space opera type sci-fi. Proper sci-fi. And how can you tell it’s proper sci-fi? It’s got robots in it. Still not convinced? OK, the robots have neuromorphic chips! You can’t tell me that’s not sci-fi enough :). This month I will be writing ‘Homunculus’. Part thought provoking psychological discussion on the nature of consciousness and free will, part CSI:Space. And I should probably be writing it instead of blogging about it, so TTFN!

It’s actually starting to make sense

It’s five days into NaNoWriMo and I think it’s fair to say I started out with lots of vagueness. I had some characters and some disjointed ideas, but a couple of days in I was struggling.”My main character can’t do anything,” “What’s the time traveller’s motivation?” “These events don’t develop the character,” “There aren’t enough pixies!”. These are the problems that plagued me. I didn’t have time to make a plan and now my plot was crumbling around me. They plagued me to the verge of ditching the whole thing in favour of writing the sequel to Technomancer I’ve been planning for a while.

But then last night I realised something. This is NaNoWriMo! It’s ok to change things on the fly if they’re not working. Main character sucks? Change them! Not enough pixies? Who said there had to be lots of pixies anyway? So I’ve made some changes to help me focus.

First, Pixies in Space is no longer called Pixies in Space. It’s now called Star Faering. No, it doesn’t sound as much fun as Pixies in Space ( 🙁 ), but I was too hung up on the pixies to just go wherever the story led me, so now I am free from them!

Second, my main pixie is no longer sheltered traditional flower fairy Foxglove Thistledown. He’s still there, but in a secondary role. Seriously, try describing a spaceship from the point of view of someone who has lived in one meadow their whole life. It’s hard! So the pixie lead is now taken by Fable, fairy engineer who seems a much better choice to tie the fantastical and technological world together. At least as a character she has a lot of knowledge about Fae and is allowed to use the word ‘pipe’ having actually seen them before.

Third, time travel is out. I spent ages trying to decide how I was going to do it, and have now settled on ‘not’. Huzzah! My mysterous passenger who was originally going to reveal herself as a time traveller now has a shiny new secret that fits much better.

I’m on 12,000 words, there’s 50 minutes until the online write-in, and I finally feel like I’ve got some direction with this. Here’s to another 1,000 words tonight!

Pixies in Space – Chapter 1

Here is the first bit of chapter 1 for all to read fresh from the NaNo madness, so please expect it to be a little rough. And by a little rough I mean it was up all night drinking and has now had to crawl out of bed for an early meeting rough. If you want to read the rest of it you can email or message me on whatever board you know me from and I’ll give you the password. If you don’t know my email or any other way to message me, then I probably don’t know you, so sorry, I’m not letting total strangers read my unedited crap :P. Well, no more than the first couple of pages of unedited crap anyway.

Chapter 1

The Other Side

“Foxglove Thistledown, you come out here right now,” Buttercup demanded, a quiver in her voice betraying the nerves she hid behind her bravado. “I know this is one of your tricks so you can just stop it.”

Fox peered out at the young blond pixie and her friends from behind a large toadstool and stifled a chuckle with his hands. Four of them had come in the end. He was impressed. He must have made a rather convincing case when he’d spoken to the girls in the village earlier in the day.

“This is ridiculous,” said Bella dismissively. “I don’t know what we’re doing out here. We’re not going to see anything except Foxglove jumping out covered in roots going ‘boo-ga boo-ga’.”

A tiny snort escaped before he could stop it. That one had been funny. He’d called that one ‘lost swamp monster in the meadow’. It was one of his favourites.

“This is different,” Rosie pleaded. The youngest and smallest of the girls hovered delicately over dandelion gently showering the seeds with pixie dust as she looked earnestly around the dimming field. “This is about – well, you know.” The young girl lowered her voice to a whisper before saying “Outside”. Though the light was beginning to fade Fox could still clearly see her face. As her eyes searched the field she clearly expected to see something.

“I don’t know,” said Buttercup, her own searching glances much more skeptical. “He did make it sound serious, but something couldn’t really get into the meadow, could it? We do have protection.”

“Maybe it got past it,” Daisy, the fourth girl suggested. “Just because nothing has in the past doesn’t mean that it can’t. Besides, if he was telling the truth and we didn’t believe him it could put all of us in danger.” Fox both liked and disliked Daisy. She was the best of victims and the worst in one. More than any of the others she always looked at his claims logically. If she concluded that it was within the realms of possibility she would give him the benefit of the doubt and go along with it, but then when she was proved wrong she didn’t feel silly or embarrassed because she ‘went with the facts that were available at the time so had nothing to feel silly about’. This sort of quiet smugness resulted in Fox never quite feeling like he ‘got’ her. Still, if she was as logical as she thought she was she would have worked something out by now – it was always a game for Fox.

“You think it might be dangerous?” asked Rosie, her eyes suddenly wide with fright.

“It’s not going to be anything,” Buttercup promised. “It’s just…”


The girls that were in the air rose slightly higher away from the flowers, apparently fearful that whatever had made that noise might appear and grab their feet, and huddled together. That was when two important things occurred to Fox. Number one, he had jumped too, because he hadn’t made that sound, and number two, Bella wasn’t with them. The panic didn’t even get a chance to settle in properly before he’d spun around and found himself face to face with the mahogany-haired pixie with the stern expression and the crossed arms.

“Well well well,” she said accusingly. “Look what we have here, ladies. If it isn’t Mr Thistledown lurking here in the dark.”

“Oh, hi, Bella,” he replied, nonchalantly. “I’m so glad you girls came, you see…”

“Save it, Fox,” said Buttercup.

“Oh, come out to the dandelion patch,” said Bella in a parody of his early performance. “Come and see the creature from outside. Do you think we’re stupid?”

Rosie blushed and quickly hid her face, obvious embarrassed at being taken in by his rouse. The others just looked annoyed. Perhaps a little psychotic in the case of Bella.

“Of course I don’t think that, ladies,” he protested. “This really isn’t what it looks like. If you’d just let me explain.”

Suddenly a low growl pierced the relative quiet of dusk.

“What was that?” Rosie squeaked.

Bella and Buttercup glared at Foxglove accusingly, but before they could say anything Daisy interjected on his behalf. “It couldn’t have been him. I was watching him.”

“Shh, I just heard it again,” said Fox. He slowly raised his own wings, ready to take to the skies if necessary. The girls were already cautiously aflutter.

That was when the undergrowth seemed to explode as something leapt through the flowers scattering dandelion seeds in its wake. Fox heard at least two screams, though he couldn’t tell who they were from. He even jumped himself and instinctively left the ground. The dark, ragged looking form with snarling teeth and a huge spiked tail seemed to make a grab for the closest foot, which happened to belong to Daisy. She kicked off her shoe and spiraled up out of reach, covering the creature in a fine layer of glittering dust as she did so. The creature sneezed and turned it’s shiny black eyes to Fox.

“It’s a demon!” he shouted. “Fly for it.” He flapped his wings but he found his ascendance hindered by tiny claws around his ankle.

“Foxglove!” he heard Rosie squeak.

“Back to the village!” Buttercup cried. “We must get help from the elders.”

“But what about Fox?”

“It’s got me,” he said as it pulled him down. “No! Please! Stop it!”

“What’s it doing to him?” Rosie asked, her eyes covered.

“I don’t know,” said Bella, “but we don’t have time to wait for the elders.” She dove down towards him and reached for his hands to try and pull him away, while at the same time his assailant delivered his devastating attack. He burst out laughing as it’s whiskers tickled his face.

“Nom nom nom nom,” the ‘monster’ said in a playful voice.

Bella groaned. “Oh, you two just think you’re so funny,” she said, quickly regaining her composure. If not for the flush in her cheeks and the fire in her eyes you wouldn’t have been able to tell she’d been worked up.

“What’s going on?” asked Rosie, still hiding behind her hands.

“It’s just Hazel,” Bella explained.

“Ah yes, the accomplice. I suppose we should have anticipated that,” Daisy concluded.

“Come on,” said Buttercup, putting an arm around Rosie while she shot a glare at Fox. “Lets get home. It’s nearly your bed time.”

The girls left Fox and Hazel rolling on the floor in fits off laughter. “That was brilliant,” said Fox. “Did you see their faces.”
“I thought they were going to leave you for a minute there,” his best friend said. “Do I really look that scary?”

“I think I did a pretty good job.” Fox took another moment to admire his handy work. In full daylight Hazel would have looked like exactly what she was: a squirrel covered in mud with sticks all over her tail. But in the eerie half-light of the dusk the disguise had been rather effective.

“Well, I hope it was worth it,” she said, “because I think that’s going to be your last shot at that gag. They’re not going to fall for it again.”

“I don’t know, I think Rosie and Daisy might.”

Hazel tilted her head to one side and twitched her nose. “Perhaps, but where’s the challenge in that?” she said, deliberately provoking him.

“You’re right,” said Fox. “Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll think of something. The next big thing is right around the corner.”

It was dark when Fox and Hazel made it back to the village, but warm glow from the fireflies nestled into the bluebells that were scattered around the pixie dwellings gave the dell a cozy, friendly feel. Most of the little ones were tucked up in their beds, but there were still plenty of people fluttering about leaving trails of dust that glowed and sparkled in the moonlight. A perfect little ring of toadstool houses made up the boundary of the village. At the moment many of the villages still had their animal companions with them enjoying an evening chat or a meal before their furry friends went off to their own nooks and crannies for the night. Fox quickly spotted Buttercup with her own companion hanging around outside an old hollow log in the centre of the dell that served as the village hall.

“Oh dear,” said Hazel, echoing his thoughts. “This doesn’t bode well.”

“You can say that again,” Fox agreed. The only thing that ruined a good prank was getting grilled by the elders about it when he got him.

“Good evening, Fox,” said Buttercup cooly when they approached. Her companion, a white rabbit named Nix, wrinkled his nose at them.

“I notice you didn’t come,” Hazel commented.

“No,” said Nix. “I’m afraid we weren’t taken in by Fox’s claims. I know that Buttercup has certain whimsical fancies that allow her to believe there could be something outside, but personally I’m convinced that nothing can penetrate the perimeter of the meadow.”

“I know, Nix, I should have listened to you,” Buttercup sighed. “Next time I will.”

“Oh well, all’s well that end’s well, that’s what I always say,” said Fox in a breezy tone. “So, I guess we’ll just say goodnight and Hazel and I will be-”

“Foxglove Thistledown,” a stern voice said from behind him. Fox felt his shoulders instantly stiffen, but he turned to face the music. The Elder pixie’s face was etched deeply with wrinkles and his hair was as white and fluffy as the dandelion seeds still stuck to a bit of the mud Fox hadn’t been able to get off Hazel’s fur. He had to be at least 15. Maybe even as old as 20! “I’ve had some troubling complaints from some of the  young ladies of the village.”

“Sorry, what?” said Fox, realising he’d been too fascinated by the pair of huge bushy white eyebrows dancing on the man’s face to completely pay attention to what he was saying.

“Pardon,” the elder corrected.

“I said ‘sorry, what?’,” Fox repeated, causing the elder to sigh heavily and shake his head.

“You must cease these tall tales of yours, Foxglove,” he said sagely. “Have you not heard the tale of the boy who cried wolf?”

“Can’t say I have,” said Fox. “What’s a wolf?”

“A monster that lives outside the boundary,” the elder explained patiently.

“Oh, right. No, um, what happened to the boy then?”

“He kept telling people there was a wolf as a joke and then when one really appeared no one believed him.”

“I can see that being a problem,” said Fox, “but he didn’t have Daisy, so I think we’re safe.”

“That is not the point, Foxglove, but I can see you’re not going to take this seriously so I am simply going to explain this to you slowly. Nothing can get into the meadow from over the boundary. We are perfectly safe and I have told this to the girls. There will be no more talk of monsters from over the boundary because there simply are none.”

“But what about the wolves?” he asked.

“Forget about the wolves!”

“I’d forget about the wolves if I were you,” Hazel whispered to him.

“Just try to limit yourself to wholesome, productive activities,” the elder advised him. “You’re nearly 4 years old now, you need to channel your energy into healthy venues.”

“You think I need more exercise?”

He was answered with a weary sigh. “Just stop annoying the girls, alright Foxglove?”

“Oh, I see,” he said, being careful not to agree to anything he might regret.

“Good night, Foxglove. Hazel.”

“Wait,” said Fox, “just one question.”

“Go one then.”

“If there aren’t any wolves, what is on the other side of the boundary.”

The Elder seemed to get a slight twinkle in his eye as he looked dreamily into the distance. “Ah, that is a topic that many of our greatest thinkers have enjoyed pondering for generations. It has been so long since our ancestors built the barrier no one can even remember why they did. Personally I believe that maybe, just maybe…”

“Yes?” asked Fox eagerly, learning in closer to learn the secret.

“There might be…another meadow.” The elder looked rather proud of this revelation, but Fox was less than impressed.

“Another meadow,” he repeated with disinterest. “Well that’s thrilling. I can see why they’d want to block that off.

“Well, it could be dangerous. They could have foreign pixies.”

“Or grey squirrels,” Hazel chimed in with a visible shudder. “You certainly wouldn’t catch me going out there.”

“Hmm, I don’t know about that,” said Fox. “Maybe we should. There’s got to be something out there, and it has to be more interesting than another boring old meadow.”