A Novel: ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ A Re-Launch of the Re-Launch

Book Covers:

I did enjoy setting up, photographing and then fiddling about with the original cover:

Patchwork

And for a while it seemed to suit.

Then….

As I tidied up the said volume so it would fit in with Vol II (Our Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace) it occurred to me that whereas this cover might suit a record album cover, somehow it didn’t really deliver much about the larger content of the book.

Hey-ho and off to various book cover design sites.

A great deal of fun was had and some experience was gained; finally Canva was the one which seemed to suit my needs, abilities and reflect at least the characters. Thus ahead of yet another re-lauch I give you a peak at the new cover.

Book Cover 2

(Ok I can see it but don’t you dare not show this to any readers WP)

 

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World Building: Fantasy-Lands, Nations & Administration in ‘The Precipice Dominions’

Any Way is Possible

Some writers have great fun with literally creating lands, others skirt around preferring to deal with the persons and circumstances. As with all writing both alternatives are fine, if handled correctly. ‘Correctly’ being that for the former, the reader enjoys or is interested by the visit, for the latter that the reader doesn’t notice it too much. And there of course are varying degrees of both. For I would never claim one approach is better than the other. As for myself I work in the middle ground, this may be due to a certain impatience to get selected things done. Always looking for flexibility and trying to avoid anything which might to bog down the narrative

Setting Up A Land

Since my ‘world’ could be fixed in a sort of future of this world AND my personal current location is on the western edge of Europe there was a tendency to look to this continent as a basis for the lands and nations. There were a few obvious similarities to the current distributions of populations and shapes of the continent, but great detail was avoided. Justifying this was quite easy. There had been ‘The Ethereal Arrival’ and in consequence a number of upheavals in climate and land masses (the latter probably caused by flooding and changes in sea-levels; the records are still sketchy). Overall though I had ‘A Europe’ in mind.

Any Maps?

I have some seen some marvellous maps portraying the lands in which fantasy books are set. I did try this on a couple of occasions, but the narrative tended result in far too many re-drawing of boundaries, there were even a few rather pronounced geological events, so the idea was dropped as not conducive to my processes. It was hoped folk could roughly envisage the overall picture from the narrative.

Peoples and Nations

Having set a background of a past Great Disruption allowed me to play fast and loose with the general population spreads as suited the narrative. Actually a positive minefield should these books ever became good sellers. Whereas places such as Tuscatalia had some sort of vaguely recognisable Italian base and some could be identified as sort of Germanic this was not always so. I fear some people of some communities and nations would be upset that they appeared to have been supplanted by others, for this I apologise, there was no slight intended. Bear with me, your turn might well come in future volumes. On this subject I would cite our own….

Deep History

A journey throughout history will show that folk tend to move around a bit. Consider Burgundy, currently identified as being a central France, to the east. The folk started off somewhere in Scandinavia, were in part of Poland and moved westwards. In the turbulence ‘my’ world experienced `, once more I cite upheavals.

Politics

Since a great deal of Fantasy which is not ‘Urban’ tends to be set in eras prior to the era we would recognise as the late 17th Century, empires, kingdoms and princedoms proliferate. I decided on a ‘Europe’ wide empire. HOWEVER since I personally find all encompassing (and suspiciously efficient) cruel empires places where clichés tend to lurk, my option was for somethings little more chaotic and resembling the Holy Roman Empire. In my empire The Oakhostian the standard administrative unit is a princedom (with large smattering of city states and other favoured units). The princes themselves have to be wary of their grand dukes who are often the ones with the vicious backbone. Emperors in all shapes, sizes and levels of effectiveness have come and gone, often reliant of the ‘organs of state’ to hold the whole thing together. These backgrounds allowed for a degree of flexibility in an era where no one is totally in control, states within states conduct their own agendas, princes try to survive their own grand dukes and a young emperor who no one rates plans his own means of imposing his will. This avoids the often ghastly cliché of the ‘Emperor’s Finest’ who are either from a religious office or some proto- palace guard and if not handled properly pop up like a clutch of pantomime villains grinning (possibly twirling moustaches) and picking on usually defenceless folk, with no one thinking to pick them off in guerrilla warfare.

Religion

First I am a Christian, by choice Catholic, with beliefs on Inclusivity which would probably get me finger wagged by a bishop and this I daresay has some sorts of influence. Historically once a religion becomes subsumed within the state apparatus there can be a tendency to become moribund in fervour of faith and more concerned with inconsequential minutiae. Thus was created in my world The Ecclesiastes. Whereas religion and its apparatus is all about the place its influence is mostly by convention, its feet on the ground The Translators are a mixed bag some heroic, some benign , some mean, others quite hopeless. There are the Custodians who are a sort of Inquisition and do scare folk when they turn up; Meradat is one but is scathing of his own brethren for avoiding the foremost threats. This area was something of a platform where I could poke a bit of fun at the needless excesses of all sides of the argument (including having positive figures in the religious organisations….that does annoy some dreary and sour folk, though they’ll probably not get to read my books). And there is The Libratery, the convents, if you like, who are quite independent, what their exact agenda has not been made clear, readers will have to either guess or wait. As per usual in Human Interactions there are also schisms and heresies none of these have figured much, yet.

And of course there are those who worship The Zerstorung (Demonish….). Well those ‘believers’ are idiots for a start off. Anyone who reads Vol I & II would realise those creatures are not going to give out any prizes to the bozos who show adoration to them. The Zerstorung are simply another bunch who have taken their place in and around the world and want (or ‘wants’) it. Nor do I care how ancient they are; they take their chances against things which in a very big way go ‘bang’ (Shadow Lords and Humans being very good at producing them).

Conclusion

Overall, once more, a lot of fun in creating this and again being flexible and avoiding too much detail, which with a sneaky thing such as The Ethereal/Stommigheid makes matters easier. I assert World Creating should be enjoyable, if you have to write up a small encyclopaedia of your world then I would advise you plan to do at least fix or six volumes otherwise your characters will never get a word (literally) in edgeways amongst all that detail being mentioned or explained.

Hope gives you some ideas on how to go about your own creating process.

World Building. ‘Powers’ In ‘The Precipice Dominions’ Series

Fiction and World Building

The Precipice Dominions- One Writer’s Journey

 

 

Through My Father’s Eyes by Sheila Jacob

Sheila, my wife is a very talented poet and after a great deal of hard work brought out this volume of poems all themed around her father who died when she a teenager. I did try to produce a post but everything I wrote fell flat.
Angela Topping’s post say it all

Angela Topping

I was recently sent this beautiful pamphlet of poems by Sheila Jacob. I have just started reading it, turning the thick cream-coloured pages with pleasure. The opening poem had me hooked, as the poet goes through a photo album full of happy memories, until she reaches blank pages when her father stopped taking photos. The last few lines are a punch in the gut: ‘as though Dad’s box-Brownie/ saw him cough into his handkerchief/ and clouded its glassy eye’ (Camera Shy). Another poem compares the poet to the son she could have been and all the things she couldn’t be to please him, because she was a girl. But the epiphany of the poem is realised when the father is angry for her bad Maths scores, and she can say sorry to her father, hug him, and do all the other things her non-existent brother cannot. True, he can’t fail…

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World Building. ‘Powers’ In ‘The Precipice Dominions’ Series

Setting the Scene

In the last post I wrote a brief overview of some of the challenges a writer will encounter in world building. This post is an account of my own experiences.

Once again I stress this is not a How To….. This was a great deal of fun putting together and honing, thus has more in common with someone’s account of a strenuous holiday. It is hoped the enthusiasm will seep across and encourage other writers to experiment in their own style, at their own pace and in their own direction.

Basic Strategy (employing my own weaknesses or inclinations)

My own imagination does not sit still on a facet for very long and so jars with my experience as a UK Civil Servant leaning for a requirement for order. To avoid these two quarrelling and getting in the way of My Muse ( delicate fellow at best) the world of my stories needed to have a degree of flexibility to aid the narrative. To help me here I called in the part of me fascinated with history, science, the history of science and the social approaches to science, religion and so forth, while trying to avoid detail. The lessons taught to us on the great panorama of Creation from cosmological scale down to the quantum, along with our own jagged historical paths were enough for me. For I needed an easy background to work with, one the narrative could dip into. The stories would centre on a group of individuals the web of relationships and personal challenges, around this would be their various ways of dealing with their world, survival and getting whatever job thrown at them done. This was complicated enough. The detail of the world had to be background.

Sleeves Up Times

Firstly I took this World of ours, or maybe a world so similar as to be nearly indentical. In a cosmos of 14+ billion years in age and at least 50 billion light years in size (I think) the situation of two very similar worlds would be perfectly acceptable; just think of the number of possible worlds in Time and Space. Whether it is this world, or another is not to be answered, great upheavals have distorted the deep historical record. The events take place after a great deal of history has passed. You might care to call it a future of our World, if you care. It is all very open. Again this gave me a great deal of flexibility, as I find rule books somewhat constricting. (my civil service career was a troubled one)

Inviting Cosmological Nature In

The event giving rise to the particular circumstances of this world was to introduce another possible aspect of Cosmological Nature. This I named The Ethereal. Whether it simply arrived in the area of this world or resulted from some incautious physics experiments is lost in various upheavals over thousands of years. Its actual nature is also kept somewhat vague. To take advantage of my own impatience and weakness in sticking to this sort of detail I relied on our current perceptions. This strategy was based on the premise of our own knowledge of physics, chemistry, weather, geology and so forth still being in an area of constant investigation. We simply do not know everything and nor do the folk of these stories. There are no tomes of all knowledge (forbidden or otherwise), lots has been written, about lots of bits and that is that. Just like today.

Powers and Utilities.

Folk can utilise The Ethereal in many ways; a force to move or destroy things, a type of communication and means of travel are the most common. Some folk have an inate ability, others uses complex, usually portable devices. Those wise and honest practitioners are the first to admit, these days they are wary of it. Whether it affects folk or folk affect it is also a complex matter subject to debate. In addition its presence has given rise to realms and pathways which occupy nearly the same place in Time and Space, some easier to access than others. It will also act in its capricious ways; like the weather.

Volume One Of Patchworks Warrior opens with a brief account of recorded history of the world and The Ethereal. Officially it is view with hostile suspicion and titled The Stommigheid (one dictionary I encountered inspired links to the Danish word for ‘folly’- I do a lot of that taking another language and its English equivalent then mangling it- lots of historical precedence). The State-within-a-State The LifeGuard name it The Astatheia, which has connotations of a warning (and I’ve forgotten where I stole the root for that from). The convent-like Libratery to indicate their independence are still terming it as The Ethereal. There are various regional terms none of which are complimentary. There are independents known as the Jordisk (another managing of Scandinavian this one for ‘Underground) and are best viewed as hackers; these having no single viewpoint but operate outside everyone’s laws. In addition there are a collection of crusty guilds collectively known as Mechanicals; these are home to cussed, conservative but inventive folk who believe the only safe way to harness this force is by solid, dependable (usually large) machines, they tend to grumble about and dismiss everyone else in particularly the Jordisk who they feel take too many short cuts . To add to the general variety and confusion, the empire in which these tales are based has officially banned the use of this power; except that all the official organs of the state have to use it to get their tasks done. All these views, contradictions and hypocrisies gives the power an unsettling quality, similar to our ambivalent views about nuclear power (as I write this it suddenly occurs to me where I got the notion from- without nuclear power’s history or detail of course!)

So there is a lot of talk and action involving this power, along with some theorising but very little of the latter. In fact the only time there is great detail arises in Of Patchwork Warriors when a conflicted captain in the LifeGuard, Dekyria is writing up a treatise on how he sees this power affecting the three central characters and speculating on whether they in turn affect it. It is therefore left up to the reader to gain an overall picture from the conversations taking place and descriptions of actions taken by individuals. A learning curve if you like.

Conclusion

This is one way to go about World Building. You may decide you have a better idea. You could think ‘This is not for me’. I am quite content with that.

In the next post I will talk about the politics, local, institutional, geo-political, religious, etc, etc, etc

Fiction and World Building

Fiction and World Building

Introduction: The Commonality of Writing

Whenever a writer embarks on a tale they are to a certain extent world building. If the story takes place in our ‘Here and Now’ this usually involves taking a scene familiar in day to day life and creating a small world of characters and fitting them in. Therein are many difficulties and challenges all of their own; authenticity, atmosphere, credibility (even in wacky comedy) and all the factors which go to making a narrative whose background the reader can relate to in some way. Therefore in most forms of fiction story telling there has to be an element of a credible creation. Something the reader can comprehend even if this is that situation is completely bizarre.

Otherworldly

When addressing SF & Fantasy this takes on a global and even cosmological scale.

There are those in SF who are versed in taking science facts or speculations and melding complex scenarios in which adherence to some laws of a physics must be adhered to. Others would have a broader view and leave the detail ‘as read’ while concentrating on the social implications (something I can relate to). There will be writers who will tend to ignore physics, some succeed because they have written a very compelling narrative with vivid characters.  Whatever path is chosen there will be a lot of hard work to make the story readable.

Fantasy and Its Own Requirements

Fantasy might see an easier option with a temptation to have wands waved and spells uttered. Whereas in some scenarios this works quite well, again if the narrative is compelling. However if handled sloppily it fails, the reader will know the writer has not been trying. Fantasy requires a certain measured approach and a respect for what might be possible and impossible in the world in question. If this is not adhered to then characters are leaping around the place at their own convenience and all suspense, tension and interest fade. If you are doing parody or satire, this might work even there it’s a tough call and requires a great deal of effort in honing the humour otherwise it comes across as just plain lazy. (a luxury only some established ‘names’ have got away with, I daresay due to the demands of publishers).

In some cases the writer has manage to meld sf with fantasy in a rich and complex scenario while at the same time inserting laws of physics and chemistry. My favourite example being Brandon Sanderson’s ‘Mistborn’ series.

A writer must bear in mind their own limitations, inclinations, weaknesses and strengths when going about this as these will have an unconscious bearing on the creation, after all you will be doing this in your own image (as it were). Of equal importance is the universal maxim for all writers…Remember Who You Are Writing For. By all means have fun but remember you would like someone to enjoy the result.

Fantasy is my own preferred choice. I have a smattering of understanding of some branches of science and this would cause me, personally a  great worry when writing SF just in case I was making some fundamental error. Fantasy gives me more scope to indulge my own peripatetic imagination, while mixing a smidge of science in.

Where this led me will be the subject of the next post.

Dragon Prince Fanart Process

This is a delightful piece of art and a fascinating story in this coming to life

Soraya Corcoran

Here’s a fun post so you can see how I work through digital art pieces. My latest work, Rayla X Soren from The Dragon Prince. Here’s the final piece:

Rayla-Soren6.Final

For the life of me, I cannot make digital sketches. I’m still a slave to pencil and paper for that. But I don’t mind. I love drawing on paper! Haha, you can even see the drawing on the next page!

img_8510.jpg

From here, I go digital. I brush hard lines over the pencil drawing and put in a couple base colors underneath. Each solid color represents a separate locked layer to work over. Then I did a solid background color and threw some trees back there. At this point I had also shifted Rayla (she was tilting to the left in my sketch, and I resized Soren’s head lol)

Rayla-Soren1BaseColor

This next image is a bit of a leap. A LOT happened between…

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 #JusticeForNusrat: Honor Killing For Reporting Sexual Harassment

A ghastly crime

The Human Lens

The honor killing or shame killings culture that was born in pre-Islamic Arabia and South Asia have a world-wide impact today, as women and young girls continue to fall prey to this barbarity in name of culture, religion and so called traditions. 

The exact figure of world wide honor killings are difficult to ascertain due to lack of reporting and ineffectual recording, however according to HBVA (Honour Based Violence Awareness Network) at-least 5000 honour killings take place internationally per year.

Recently, the news is buzzing with the latest case of 19-year old Bangladeshi student; Nusrat Jahan Rafi who was doused with kerosene and burned at her madrassa school for reporting the sexual harassment she endured at the hands of the school principle.

Nusrat Jahan Rafi died in a local hospital just 10 days later of her injuries but refused to take back the complaint against the perpetrator who had subjected her to sexual harassment. 

The…

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