5min – Rutines 

I’m trying to get into a new routine to make editing and writing work for me. 

Edit one chapter in the morning before work. A bit of writing on a different project after work. Another chapter of editing after writing, if I can. Even with one or two chapters edited a day I should get this first book finished and edited by the end of the week, which is when I need to get it to my editor. 

This project has been a lot more challenging than the first trilogy. Partly because I’m building an entire world from scratch, including how the mythos of creation and the magic system works. There are no elves, no dwarves, no other races in this series except humans, dragons, and ifrits. The magic is still elemental based, but works more like alchemy than  it did in my other series. 

It’s been fun to design a whole new world. I can’t wait to share it! 

And that’s my five. 


Fire and Ice

I’ve been working on the new cover for the first book in “The Half Blood Sorceress” series. Book one, Dragon’s Flame, is finished. Well, the first draft is. I have a few things to clean up before sending it off to the editor, but I am hoping to have it out soon (in relitive terms).

The back of the book:

A tragedy. A secret. A journey to find the truth.

Sybel watched as her mother burned on a funeral pyre, but she never expected her father to push her into the flames. When Sybel survives the pyre without a single burn she’s banished from the village for reasons she doesn’t understand.
With more questions than answers, Sybil’s only hope is to make a treacherous journey to find the wise mages of Kemoor. As she ventures out beyond the edges of her village she finds a world filled with dangers; massive creatures, vindictive humans, and an ice cold wind blowing from the north. A wind that is far more sinister than anyone suspects.
Now the girl who would not burn must trust in unlikely allies to save her life, and discover the truth…

And the best part is I’ve already written most of book two. I’m hoping to have books one and two out this year, with the third one next year some time. I have at least a five book arc for this series.

The Half Blood Sorceress is not part of the same world as my Witch’s Trilogy. In the Witch’s Trilogy there are many sentient creatures created by the elements. In The Half Blood Sorceress series there are three races; humans, dragons, and ifrits. The world building of these two series was so completely different. Peyllen (the world of Witch’s Trilogy) took years to flesh out. But because of all that world building the mythos of Peyllen is an entire series of it’s own that I’m still writing.

The Half Blood Sorceress is different in a lot of ways, and so is the experience of creating the world, and writing the stories. I honestly can’t wait to get it out and hear what others have to say about it.

Map Building

PeyllenI’ve always enjoyed building maps, and world building in general. I have a few dozen of them stashed among the pages of old hand written story ideas, their edges smudged over time, and words sometimes faded out WSsmltill it’s illegible. But the concept, the idea of the map is still there.

The journey of Peyllen started with a young girl leaving home for the first time. That was the first book that I wrote in the series, the first book I finished in the series. But it won’t be released for a long time. There are many stories that come before that one, and it will have to be rewritten in its entirety before it ever sees the light of day. But the idea behind it, the world and the magic, remain. You might have already taken a peak at it. It is the same world that my Witch’s Trilogy came from.

map2The very first iteration of Peyllen was a scratchy pencil drawing on a spare piece of paper.

I scanned and copied it into Gimp and started adding outlines, colors, adjusting the land masses, and giving it more definition. I added “The Sea of Tears” since it did not appear on the original maps (though the idea was always there).

peylinPeyllan has grown, taken shape and mass of it’s own in my thoughts. And the stories have grown as well.

I’m getting to the end of book three in the trilogy. I think I’ll take a short break from Peyllan after that to work on a few other projects, but eventually I’ll be back. There are ten more novels in this world waiting to be told. And I bet by the time I’ve finished some of them I’ll find more stories lurking in the world. Maybe some from areas yet uncharted on the far side of the world.

Mapping it out!

Ipeylin‘m starting to put together a map of the entire world of Peyllen, and how the Sea of Tears (from the “Witch’s Trilogy”) fits into the greater world. You can see the Sea of Tears in the middle with land on either side. Oddly the islands in the Sea of Tears do not appear on any maps of the various kingdoms because any ship who traveled there never returned. They assume there’s a sea monster, or some large whirlpool there.

I love having maps in Gimp because I can do various layers that include roads, trade routes, and even a map just to lay out which character goes where in the world. Then you can just make the layers that you want visible. It’s fantastic for story planning, and keeping everything in order. Plus it’s just awesome to look at.

Next I’ll be adding various features like large forests, major cities, and the mountain ranges.

Also, I should note that because of the way Peyllen was created this map isn’t based on normal geological features, as in plate tectonics and shifting like that. Other things like weather, and where deserts and swamps might occur, are effected naturally but the underlying structure of the world was created by the movement of the trolls, not plate tectonics. (More on that in another post.)

I have lots of books planned in this world, spanning centuries, so look for updates of that after I’m finished with the Witch’s Trilogy.

Magic Systems

Another FAQ from reddit.

I’m not very experienced in terms of magic systems. So I thought about going sort of Final Fantasy (black, blue, red, white) classification. Can I use latin names for my spells? Is it tacky? I can’t think of imaginative ways to name my spells rather than that. Will it sound too Harry Potter-esque?

Spells have been done in all sorts of unique and interesting ways, from ingesting pieces of metal in the Mistborn series, to land magic in MTG, transmutation alchemy in “Full Metal Alchemist” and energy magic in Krynn.

The most common magic system is based on the mind and/or elemental magic. The red/blue/red of Final Fantasy is one of them.

For a magic system of your own you can borrow from the classics and adjust it, or you can create your own and make up your own names for it. Latin is perfectly fine and has been used before. It is not tacky, though some might think it’s over done. (Besides, “tacky” is in the eye of the beholder and I happen to love several series where the wizard yells out a spell word/name to cast. Like Dresden.)

To create your own magic system I suggest starting with these questions: 
What does it cost to cast?
How is it cast? (words, items, gestures, etc.)
What does it feed on?
What does it effect?
Who can cast?
What is the negative side of the magic?

This should get you on the right track.

What I’ve Learned

In an interesting post today on G+ John Ward ask us “What have you learned, and where did you learn it?” He wanted sources. The idea is that others might learn from that source as well. It’s a fantastic idea, but I’ve got a LOT of sources, so I am going to list them here on my blog instead of in a reply on G+.

Self Publishing

So the big one, self publishing. I didn’t know self publishing was really an achievable goal until I ran into The Self Publishing Podcast. They introduced me to several other podcasts like The Creative Penn, Rocking Self Publishing, and The Sell More Books Show. All of them are fantastic resources on the publishing mindset, marketing, and strategies to get known.

Publishing the Traditional way

Before self publishing there was traditional publishing. I actually went through quite a bit of that back in 2000 trying to get that prestige. (I’ve had several articles and a short story published in magazines, mostly Queensland Fantastic that use to be in Australia.)

To figure out how to do all of this I relied mainly on one book. How to get Happily Published. It was the most informative step by step book, letting me know exactly what to expect, what steps I needed to take, some helpful suggestions on getting the words right, and how to format the manuscript correctly. Great resource, if you are going trade publish I highly recommend it. The Writers Guidelines is also useful to find various publishers/addresses/etc, but a lot of that is also available online.

World Building

I love world building. From sketching maps, to creating new races and creatures. I love building up a society from the ground, and making the world flow together. BUT! In order to do all of that you need to have some basis in reality to build upon. You need to know how land and weather work. How different ecology’s boarder each other, and creatures might develop in those places. You have to figure out how governments, religions, and societies work together.

The only classes I felt really helped me in college were the classes regarding history, and anthropology. But I’m not going to recomend you go to a college when you can learn the same thing via documentaries and books.

One of my favorite books about the simplest thing is Salt: A World History. It’s amazing how much of our history of exploration, war, expansion, and industry revolved around this simple mineral. On the same vein, How Beer Saved the World (video) shows how man may have gone from hunter/gatherer to agriculture because of this wonderful thing called beer. Again showing how the small things effect the grander scale.

I also enjoyed books on competitive religion, astrology, mythology, astronomy, physiology, economy, ecology…. Just everything. Non fiction books and documentaries are wonderful treasure troves when fleshing out how own world and I found that every time I read/watched something new I had a little tid-bit to add to my worlds. This isn’t something you get all at once, it is from a lifetime of gathering little bits of information. Watching, observing, and internalizing, and eventually it just congeals on  your own story. It isn’t as though I plan for certain aspects to come out, they just often are there and only later do I realize that it was inspired by a specific thing I read long ago.

I’m not sure what else anyone else would be interested in. If you have any specific thing you’re looking for a refrence for let me know, I might have come across it at one point.

Also, I do have a page of references available here with some other little things I didn’t mention.

FAQ: I’m stuck, now what?

download“Writers Block” is often synonymous with “I’m stuck, what do I do?” It isn’t that you don’t want to write, or can’t write, it’s that you’re not sure what you should say, or how to say it. It is usually the “how” part that gets me to stumble. When that internal editor starts telling me my writing is terrible, and I need to do better. That nothing I write is going to be worth the effort, that is when I have to dig into my repository of tricks to get the words flowing again.

The first trick is to reread what you alread wrote. Not all of it, just the last couple of pages. eventually something might spark the flow and get you moving again.

If that fails, then you can use stream of thought writing. This is like “beats” (or rough outlining) but a bit more specific for the area you are working with.

An example from “Mermaids Curse”

the kraken is flailing about, and gets stabbed, and immediately flails more, grabbing acolyte’s and tossing them into the waters.

Koric is trying to reach his wife and daughter, but the tentacle falls in front of him, blocking his path, and two priests grab him from behind, thrusting him up against the skin of the kraken where he is covered in a layer of slime from the tentacle.

It isn’t the best writing. It probably won’t even be the finished plot, but it gives me a good idea of where I am heading, and when I come back to that little section I can rewrite it and polish it up.

First drafts are often messy and need to be stripped down to the good bits before sending to an editor, so this is your first draft. Keep going.

Another trick would be to start filling in the world building a bit more. Just write about the culture, the town, a person, or and event that happens near your story. It may not effect your story directly, or it could be the extra plot point you were missing.

And besides, you might use the little bits of world knowledge that don’t make it into the final product somewhere else. It may become a new plot point in future tales, or reference in this work. Don’t discount world building just because it doesn’t fit right now. In general, someone like Tolkien who had so much extra world building that he put it into a separate book of it’s own, writes fuller and richer worlds then someone with no world building at all.

Happy Writing

Geeky Discussions

My friends are geeky. There isn’t any getting around it, and I kind of like the fact.

I have listened, and even participated  in several conversations that began “Who would win….” The answer is usually “Batman,” because even if he looses he will come back and win the second battle.

So when the question regarding world building, and specifically how two sentient species could coexist popped up I had no problem entering into this discussion. I’d already had this discussion on other occasions.

This question comes up a lot when dealing with worlds like TSR, LOTR, and others that have several species (elf, dwarf, human) that all live together. Some authors add in explanations of how they came about. Others simply make it an act of a god and leave it at that. The more scientific explanations usually come from Sci-fi sources such as Star Trek.

Star Trek 4 has to be one of the worst movies in the lot. (And I’m a major Trekkie. I still think it was pretty bad.) It did have one subject that I rather liked: humans assume we are the only intelligent race on earth, but have no common frame of reference to distinguish this as fact.

As an example, dolphins have been known to do things we recognize as intelligent or showing feeling. Whales have tried to rescue their calves. Dogs will rescue their owners. Several species of ape and birds are known to use tools.  Is this intelligence? Do they feel emotion? Is it just instinct or something else? Can we really tell?

When discussing how and if two intelligent races can coexist on one planet we first have to determine what is intelligence  and how do we measure it. For earth, and humans, we acknowledge humanity as intelligent because of how much we can adapt to the environment  and the environment to us. We can build, create, and invent, while other species are still learning the value and use of tools.

If they did evolve, we may not even recognize their intelligence because their goals in life, their ambitions, and needs do not overlap ours enough to make it known. As an example take dolphins. They do not need homes, or jobs. They do not need money. They need fish and open waters. They do not compete for many of our resources, and likely never will since their sphere of influence is the ocean, while ours is mainly the land.

It isn’t inconceivable that these species could evolve to human like intelligence… if we let them. I think a big part of it is, evolution wise, that whichever species evolved first would have to get to a point where they did not feel threatened, and even helped the “lesser” species. If we continue to hunt apes and dolphins their evolution could end short in extinction.

In short… We really don’t know the possibilities. They are simply endless.