Lesley Livingston: “Must-Have Writing Necessities” + The Valiant Re-Read

Today, we’re kicking off a re-read of The Valiant by Lesley Livingston, the first in a thrilling series about kick-ass lady gladiators during the reign of Julius Caesar. It’s all in anticipation of the February 12th release of The Triumphant, the third and final book in the series (which I looooove, by the way).

We’ll have fun content every Monday for the next three weeks — one for each book in the series — and today, Lesley herself is kicking things off by sharing her writing must-haves with us.

When I first started out writing, I used to try and set an atmosphere that was conducive to luring the Muses to come and whisper divine phrases in my ear. Y’know, candles, music, mood lighting… it was like getting ready for a nervous first date, expecting to get a call any moment saying “sorry, car broke down”… Now? I’ve realized that even if the Muses are just on a bus that’s running late, I’m not gonna sit around and wait for them. They can catch up.

So. All I really need nowadays is a few basic essentials to get up and running. Chief of which is my trusty Mac Air laptop. It’s getting on in years. The battery life is shot. It needs an external antennae to pick up the wifi signal in certain corners of the house (most notably, my office, which is where I do most of my work, so that’s awkward). The “N” key is a worn-out white blob. So is the “D” key and the “M” key isn’t far behind. But this little machine has gone on an awful lot of adventures with me and my characters. It’s my trusty story steed.

Second: coffee. No coffee, no brain-y.

Third: The cats. Or, as I like to call them: Butters the Office Intern, Hawkeye the IT Guy, and Daisy the Office Manager. They keep things running smoothly around here.

A stack of research books on the topic at hand are always a necessity (the internet can only get you so far down the research road). These are frequently festooned with a colorful, mildly baffling array of sticky notes.

As many distractions as possible to procrastinate with (phone games, aforementioned felines, towels that simply MUST be folded right that minute) until my brain finally shrieks at me to stop screwing around and get to work!!

And if all that’s not enough to get the gears meshing, a nice hot shower. Good for unsticking sticky plot points. I should really seriously consider installing a whiteboard in the bathroom so I can make notes. But mostly I just leave a trail of damp little footprints down the hall as I run for my notebook before whatever genius waterborne idea I’ve conjured evaporates into thin air!

But yeah, good music and candles are still nice sometimes, too.

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

Lesley Livingston  is the author of Once Every Never, winner of the inaugural Copper Cylinder Award and shortlisted for the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the BC Stellar Book Award. She is also the author of the Wondrous Strange and Starling trilogies. She lives in Toronto.

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