Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z Is For Zodiac...

Lots of people read their horoscopes, whether they admit it or not. Even if you don't believe what they say, it is still kind of fun and silly to see what your zodiac sign says about you.

Then you have those who are downright superstitious and can't go a day without reading it. Even back in the middle ages, people would comment on births and the signs that came with it.

"Ah, born under a lunar eclipse, this child shall bring darkness..."

"Hmm... born under a red sky at sunset, this child shall have blood on his hands..."

"Born in a basket, under a weeping willow with twenty doves flying around. He'll become a beggar."

I mean really, some of them can be pretty silly. But it played a huge role in people's lives. The zodiac and birth signs became important to people. Peasants and nobles alike would scramble to find the woman who could read their birth signs and tell them their futures.

I actually have zodiac signs and the like for my world, but it isn't something that I elaborate upon. It's there, quietly lurking in the background for when it becomes important.

And that's it, everyone. That's the Z post. We're at the end of the challenge! How'd you do? Did you make it through? Did you have to drop it for whatever reasons? Hey, been there. I've had to quit things before. But good on you for taking up the challenge and giving it your best effort!

See you all tomorrow for the Insecure Writer's Support Group and then again on Friday for the A to Z Reflections post.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y Is For You...

Yes. YOU! You, sitting there, reading this post. You, my favorite follower.

When writing anything, fantasy or otherwise, you are bound to put a lot of yourself into your world. Seriously. Think about it.

What sort of world would you create? What customs and cultures do you find yourself drawn to? What sort of climates would there be? Would you have everyone on equal footing or would you have people struggling in the streets?

Well, a lot of that in world building is going to be necessary. Humans were given the gift of free will, after all, so you may have those beggars in the streets. Your world will take on a life of its own, of course, but it would be interesting to see what you'd put into a world of your own creation. If it is Sci-Fi, I bet you would have lots of cool gadgets to make life easier, simpler.

You put just as much of what YOU want into your world, just like you put parts of yourself into characters. There will be traces of your personality everywhere in your characters and your world.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X Is For X-Factor...

That's right. In any writing you'll always have the X-FACTOR.

Dun dun dun!

Definition: a circumstance, quality, or person that has a strong but unpredictable influence 

Now this isn't JUST for fantasy writing, my lovely readers. This is for any writing. What is the unpredictability?

In my fantasy world, I'd have to say it is the area around old Argisindya, where, after the city was destroyed, magic went "mad". If I were to pick a person, well, that would be the entire Li'endrin bloodline. Minus Alabassin. He's such a sweet boy.

The unpredictable is something that keeps your readers hooked. I love tossing in that x-factor. The thrill of knowing it is going to shock the reader, that's just downright awesome.

Do you like to be predictable or unpredictable in your writing? What about in what you are reading?

Friday, April 26, 2013

W Is For Weapons...

Well duh, what did you think I would post for a fantasy themed A to Z on MY blog? I don't even know of a cutesy word that starts with 'W'.

There are lots of weapons to think about in fantasy. You usually want to stay with your more real life medieval weapons. Granted, there are lots you can make up yourself, but with such a huge array of battle gear, I dunno...

However, the only way I can really explain some of these weapons to you is through pictures. Yeah, baby!

You have your halberd and naginata (Can I just say I LOVE me some naginata!):



 You have your usual swords, which you know what they look like, right? Dirks, daggers, shields, bows, crossbows and axes.




And of course, don't forget your standard berserker:

Pretty much self explanatory.  But you have all sorts of things to choose from. Of course, there are lots of options and you can always mix up some usual weapons and create your own. And since it is a 'W' post, I'll even throw in:

And you can't EVER show a whip without having Devo's "Whip It" playing in your head.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Very Inspiring Blogger Award...

I'm deeply honored to have been given this award by Kas over at Spunk & Spice. She has a very cool blog, pretty background and when she nominated me for this award, awesome characters. (Thank you Kas!) I love good characters! Hers have me hooked and I look forward to hearing more about them.

Okay, so here's the rules:

~ Display the award logo on your blog post. 

~ Link back to the person who nominated you.  

~ State 7 things about yourself. 

~ Nominate 15 bloggers to the award.  

~ Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back and you can also go comment on their blog.

So there's the award itself. Very shiny! I linked back to Kas, check!

Seven things about me... Hmm...

1. Mint chocolate chip ice cream is my fave.

2. I would love to do "ghost hunting" sometime, but summer in Alaska makes that difficult when it is light outside for so long.

3. I'm about to become a grandma.

4. Once I'm done with this first fantasy trilogy, I'm going to try my hand at paranormal.

5. I'm a crafty kind of person. No, not THAT kind of crafty... well, okay, yes, but I also like to DO crafts.

6. While I like to play lots of games such as World of Warcraft and the like, I can't play all the others for very long because they make me motion sick.

7. But get me on a boat, and I don't get seasick. Go figure, lol!

Okay so there is the seven things about me. But I am going to follow Kas' lead on this. 15 people is a LOT to pass this on to, even though I follow LOTS of blogs. But the people listed below are the most inspiring to me and I don't know what I would do without them:

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Jamie at Mithril Wisdom

Diane at Spunk on a Stick

Hart Johnson at Confessions of a Watery Tart (even though you got it already, you're still inspiring to me!)

Lynda at W.I.P. It

Cheri Chesley at The Other Side of the Mirror (my sister is very inspiring to me)

Donna Hosie at Musings of a Penniless Writer

Allison at Geek Banter

Katie at Creepy Query Girl

Matthew at the QQQE

I'm sure I've forgotten someone. But those are the ones who stand out in my mind the most. 

V Is For Volume...

Yep, you want lots of bouncy, full, thick looking hair. And you totally know that's not the kind of 'volume' I'm speaking of too. Sheesh! Silly.

Volume as in, 'how-many-books-are-in-this-bloody-series-anyway???' kind of volume. I'm all for a good epic fantasy. I don't mind ten to twelve books in a series as long as the story keeps going, doesn't bog down and/or get stupid.

If you're going to write a series of books, don't write to make money off of it, write it until the story is done. Don't throw in crap just to lengthen to book and get the most bang for your buck.

This is just my opinion when it comes to how long a fantasy story should be. When you're building a fantasy world from scratch, you very well may end up with seven books or seventeen. Who knows? How long is it going to take to show off your world and tell this story?

My current works, I think it will only be three books. Simply because there is not THAT much to tell about this one story. I have other books in mind for this world and I don't see a lot of them being more than one book, but it may surprise me and become more. Depends on how involved in the details I want to get.

But there comes a point where it seems like enough is enough. We're getting the same stuff over and over and things keep repeating. It isn't necessary at this point, it's just fluff. A little fluff is fine, but I think I'd have to call it quits after the ninth book of just...fluff.

What do you think is too long for a series, fantasy or otherwise?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U Is For Unusual...

In fantasy, you have the usual creatures, but you also have the unusual to go right along with it. Creatures that give you the heebie jeebies or a sense of awe. They can be just about anything. I have a book called, "The Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were". Makes for some interesting reading.

The Djinn or Genies ~ Wish granting, smoke-legged beings that can range from evil to good all seem to have their own agenda. Get their bindings off of them no matter the cost. Be careful what you wish for? Absolutely! If you wish for riches, someone close to you will die so you can inherit the wealth. Wish for anything and the Djinn will take it from someone close to you so you may have it. Wish granted.

Bunyips ~  Water monsters with a diet consisting of mainly of women and children. Their cry is a loud, booming roar. Their description varies so much, because people who have seen them never live to tell the tale.

Banniks ~ If your stories have a bath house or anything related to steamy saunas, bring in Bannik-like creatures. Their touch against bare skin is unmistakable. A caress brings good fortune, a scratch bodes ill.

These are just a few. For the life of me, I can't recall any others and I know there are tons of them out there. Tell me some unsual creatures in the comments!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T Is For Traditions...

Traditions are fun in anything, especially in fantasy. Think about traditions you've started yourself. Think about other traditions from other parts of the world.

They don't have to be connected to a holiday or anything special, they can be simple, mundane things. For example, when we moved to Alaska, the first time we invited anyone over, they asked if they should take of their shoes. I raised an eyebrow and said, "We're not in China or Japan". I had never heard of anyone doing this. But the reasoning is simple in this example, it's wet and muddy outside and people don't want stuff tracked all over their nice homes.

Look at the tradition of bowing in the Asian countries. How over in the middle east, the left hand is used for hygiene and considered unclean so you must eat with your right hand. Marriage proposals and engagements vary. Funerals are all dealt with differently. Even the birth of children are widely diverse. Living in Alaska, there are a lot of orthodox Russians and I see a young couple holding hands constantly and it is part of a tradition, I think, the day before their wedding. It's kind of fun to look up a lot of these traditions and figure out where they started and what they will be.

Traditions in fantasy world building are just as important as they are in our world. They pull people in. Family, friends and in certain situations, total strangers. It creates a bond where you feel connected to other people even if it is only for a fraction of a second.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S Is For Simplicity...

So we're nearing the end of the A to Z Challenge for April and the end of my fantasy world building from A to Z as well.

I'm sure some of the posts you have read, you've looked at them and just went, "Huh?"

Trust me, I did the same thing when I first embarked on this road of fantasy writing. I can't begin to tell you how many times I deleted something, spent days thinking about the logistics and believability of quite a few things. I stressed over whether or not it was "fantastical enough", good enough. Or just down right laughable.

Would people believe me if I told them about Blood Guards, protectors of the goddess of the underworld who drain the essences of people, devour their souls and drink their blood? A more intense version of vampires, I suppose.

You know what people do believe? The simplest of things.

Even while you are stretching your imagination to the farthest reaches of its limit, don't forget the simple things. Don't forget the small stuff, but certainly don't sweat it, either. Because while you are drawing the reader into your world, you still want to make them feel like it's home. So give them simplicity in your writing and that will be just as big a hit as the intricate details.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review: Firehurler by J. S. Morin...

Title: Firehurler

Author: J. S. Morin

Publisher: Magical Scrivener Press

Pages: 492 (Print), File size: 1232 kb


Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble & Smashwords

Summary from Amazon:

Kyrus Hinterdale has never dreamed. Neither has Brannis Solaran. What they once thought were dreams were really windows into another world. Linked by fate, and a mystical connection that they do not fully understand, each of them watches the events of the other’s life when they close their eyes to sleep. Kyrus’ world is ruled by reason and bustling trade, while Brannis lives in a world of magic and fabulous creatures.

When they cross paths with another pair with knowledge from both worlds, it becomes a battle of wits – each must try to outmaneuver the other, with the fate of kingdoms, and their own lives, at stake.

My thoughts:

I have to say that this book really caught me off guard in a good way. This is some serious, classic fantasy. This is sword and sorcery, high fantasy, epic, hard fantasy, you name it. Don't let the size of the book put you off, it is long, yes. However, this is a world that needs some time to be built in the reader's eye and with good reason and fabulous end results.

Kyrus is just an ordinary man making a living at something he's good at. He never suspects that his dreams might actually be real somewhere else.

Brannis is your literal Knight in shining armor kind of guy and even though he's surrounded by magic on a daily basis and should be able to practice it, he simply thinks his dreams are showing him what life could have been like.

There is so much detail I could get into, but I did love this book. Fantasy will always be my first love. But I do have to say this: the book had a bit of a slow start, but it's worth it. It wasn't mind numbingly boring, it just built the details you needed to know through the characters and dialogue. Once things got rolling, very hard to put it down. I know lots of people out there who will look at the cover of a book and might be tempted to bypass this one because of the simplicity, but don't! The intricate tale told within will have you ignoring that in no time.

So, out of 5 skull and crossbones, I rank this:


Saturday, April 20, 2013

R Is For Races...

No, not the kind of race where you speed to the finish line and win a shiny bauble. Races, as in types of beings in your world.

There are a lot in fantasy that are considered "Old School", such as:

Elves: Beings of fair skin and temperament. Ageless, graceful beings who usually dwell in the forests. They are masters of magical craftsmanship from weapons to clothing. Speakers to and for trees and animals, they're the most mystical in fantasy.

Dwarves: Short, stocky men (for you rarely see the women!) who dwell beneath mountains. Delvers and spelunkers, they dig to the core of the earth to find precious gems and minerals. Their handiwork rivals the elves in creation.

Ogres: Large brutes, somewhat more intelligent than their Troll cousins, they live for war. They can do some serious damage to their enemies, if not rip them apart completely.

Humans: Well, we know about humans, don't we?

Goblins: Short, chittering, greedy little buggers who tend to get underfoot. They reproduce quickly and can usually overwhelm an army just in sheer numbers rather than any sort of skill. They prefer to attack the weak of any given species and travel in large packs.

Drow: Dark Elves. With almost jet black skin and white hair, they are the exact opposites of their woodland kin. Eyes as red as blood and underground dwellers, the Drow have lots of different qualities and stories of how they came to be. Warring with their Elven brethren, they went underground and got involved in arcane magics. (At least according to Dungeons and Dragons)

Of course, in all of this, you can't forget dragons. They are just as important as the others, but I covered them in my "D" post.

There are lots of fantasy creatures that are not "Old School" coming into play more and more these days. There is nothing wrong with creating your own beings as long as you make them believable, for one, and know their creation background, for another.

Be creative! Don't hijack someone else's ideas unless you have explicit permission to do so. The imagination is a powerful tool when used correctly, so think about things in our own fairytales and folklore and expand upon it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q Is For Quests...

Lots of fantasy stories revolve around characters going on a quest. In 'Lord of the Rings', Frodo and the Fellowship were charged with returning the One Ring to its original location and destroy it. They were trying to stop a force of evil larger than anyone could have imagined. And Aragorn needed to be returned to his rightful place as the King of Men.

Most quests involve a magical item or the return of something the world thought was lost. Like the unassuming farm boy who is actually the rightful heir to a long lost throne. Perhaps it is a quest to slay a dragon and return to a city that was lost.

When starting out on a quest, there has to be some questions answered. Who is going? How will you get there? And where did you find that magical map/weapon/thing? Artifacts in fantasy quests are just as important as anything else. Some trinket is always turning up in the most unexpected places. Perhaps the key to the city of gold was tucked away in a strongbox down in some wine cellar of a farmer who retired from the military after the last battle of some now forgotten city. The only way it was found was because of the man's passing and his handing his small fortune down to a son who had to fight off greedy relatives who thought the man had other treasures hidden.

Well, they'd be right, but they certainly wouldn't know it. Not until someone else came along with a map to said city and a picture of what the key looks like.

But quests don't have to be about items or lost kings all the time. Quests can be simply finding answers to questions that have plagued a person their entire life and they finally decide to go looking for answers. Maybe the quest is to regain a freedom from a centuries old oppression. Or perhaps the person beginning the quest just wants to find out who they really are and what the fates have in store for them.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P Is For Patience...

One thing I have learned the most about writing fantasy is to have patience. Yes, patience.

I started writing my fantasy story after lots of years of building the world. I had to know who was going to be involved, what rank they held (if any) and what their purpose was. If I told you it only took me a few short weeks to do all of this, I'd be a better storyteller.

In truth, I worked on my world for over ten years before writing down the first part of the story. Most of the planning was put to paper, but a greater portion was in my head. I had to visualize a great deal. The first story that came out, wasn't quite what I expected, but by this time I was in such a rush to get it out to the public, I didn't stop to take the time to plan the rest of it.

Even after the first story was done and I went through the whole, “What Do I Do Now” period, my brain was working. It changed the story, shifted things a bit and I ended up writing “Adversarius”. See, that first story was really just my rough draft. I wouldn't have written Adversarius had I not fouled up that first book.
Patience would have helped me determine this eventually, I suppose. And even though the first book is now done and in the hands of readers, I'm still being a bit overly cautious and patient to get book two done. There are so many things happening in my world that I have to make sure I keep a good eye on it all.

Once it is done, though, I need to practice patience all over again to get it polished up and ready for the readers again. Half the time, I'm so impatient, I skip over things. I won't do that again and hopefully book two will be better than the first.

So have patience when building your world and writing the story. There are lots of details to include and you don't want to skip over any of them.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O Is For Oppression...

"Help, help, I'm being oppressed!"

Not really. But in lots of fantasy worlds, there is always someone who is feeling a bit oppressed. Peasants feel it from their rulers, merchants feel it from the ship traders. It all rolls down hill.

You want your fantasy world to resemble our world, our reality. Even if just a little bit. So you're going to have your tyrannical enthusiasts and you'll have your yoked, whipped oppressed.

I know I refer to Melanie Rawn's books quite a bit, I know. However, "The Dragon Prince" series is one of my all time favorite reads. Her High Prince, the one who rules over all and makes everyone's life miserable, is the perfect example of a tyrant. The way the rest of the world perceives him and his family, you know they all have a deep seated desire to kick the living snot out of the guy.

Talk about being oppressed. I think the entire world breathed a collective sigh of relief when he dies.

Now, not all fantasy stories have to have an oppressor, but it is kind of fun.

Then again, I have fun with those kinds of characters in my stories. I never liked bullies while growing up and I used to stand up to them. So I sort of let my characters take over that aspect of me. They stick up to people, they do everything in their power and then some to make sure that they take them down.

So who is oppressed in your stories?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N Is For Names...

Names are a huge thing in fantasy world building. You're either going to stun and amaze people, or you'll piss them off.

Personally, I like coming up with unique sounding names in my fantasy writing. Sorry to all of you out there who have read my book and can't get over the names. Not my intent. Just like... skip 'em or come up with you own nickname, I suppose.

But that's the point of this post. You want your names to be simple, yet fantastic. This IS fantasy, you know. I don't want my main character running around saying, "Hi! I'm Bob the ogre. Nice to meet you."

Bob? Bob is the slightly overweight, balding guy who sits behind his desk in the managers office of the insurance agency in town and shows off his old high school football trophies to new clients.

No offense to any Bobs out there.


When I came up with the name Kayta, it was while playing Dungeons and Dragons. I took my middle name, Kay, and added the last two letters. I just randomly pulled it out of the air. Then again, names come easily to me. To other people? Not so much, from what I've been told. But there are baby name books out there to help you. Find something with meaning. Try different languages. I named a character Alkarinque once. It's Tolkien's Elven language and it means "a star". There are all sorts of translators out there, use them if you want.

Or, be nice to your readers and give your characters simple names.

It doesn't have to be hard to pronounce to be a fantasy name. It is all personal choice. What seems viable to you may be hard for someone else to pronounce and get past. They might even put the book down. I don't intend for people to put my book down because of the names, but I still will make up a really cool sounding name over something generic. I can't help it. You can find a happy medium. Remember the name Bob? Try spelling it Bahb.

Good luck!

Monday, April 15, 2013

In Other News...

Hey all, just wanted you all to know I was interviewed by Michael Brookes. My interview is up on his blog today. Drop by if you have time and say hi. I know we're right in the middle of A to Z, but what can I say. Timing is not my forte. Lol!

M Is For Magic...

I have been on the fence for days trying to decide what my M post would be. A couple other blog posts over the last week have made my decision for me. I wasn't going to talk about magic originally, but seems the cosmos has other ideas about it.

So, magic. Yep. Okay. What kind of magic are we talking about here? Are we talking about wand-waving-cool-latin-incantation type magic or just-think-about-it-release-the-energy-poof!-it's-there kind of magic?

Well, whether or not you're writing a story akin to Harry Potter or The Belgariad, magic has to have rules.

Magic without rules... not so much fun. If your magic has no rules, then why bother with anything else? All the wizards have to do is wave a wand and poof! things are done. Where is the fun in that? Oh, broke a nail. Poof! Fixed. Oh, half my guts are spilling out. Poof! It's fixed. Now where did I put my car keys? Poof! There they are.

Totally. Lame.

Now, break your wand and try to fix it with Spell-o-tape and cast a spell only to have it bounce back the caster. Epic.

Magic has to have rules. I can't stress it enough. Magic users in my world are born into it and at a certain age, they have to go to the wizard city for training. If they don't get it under control, it literally burns them up from the inside out. The energies in their bodies has to be contained and controlled.

Don't make it easy for anyone. Seriously. Have repercussions to using magic.

Okay, okay, here is something from a future book of mine in my current trilogy. It's winter, it's the beginning of a war and the troops are cold. The Mahjii offer to help out and make the troops warm all the time without fires, but something goes wrong and all the troops are now glowing. Oops. Warm, yes, but glowing. Talk about easy targets at night. Ha!

So make magic rules! This is important! Did I use enough exclamation points!? Okay! Good.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L Is For Legen (Wait-For-It) dary...

Ha! Had to get that reference in there for the show, "How I Met Your Mother" just because I can.

But I have to correct my title. L isn't for Legendary, but it is for Legends.

In fantasy world building, you have your gods and goddesses, your heroes and your sinister beings hell bent on ruling the world. Magicians and dragons, Elves and Dwarves, Knights, Lords and Ladies... (Ooh, more 'L's'!)

But you also have legends.

These can be stories passed down from generation to generation.

"History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge." ~ Lord of the Rings opening narration.

Stories become history. History becomes legend. This is absolutely true. This can be events that shaped the world at the time they happened. They can be events that shaped the world later, after they happened. They can be people.

Think about some of the fantasy worlds out there that you know of. I'll give you a couple examples of books that stand out in my mind.

In "The Dragon Prince" series by Melanie Rawn, stories and history turned into traditions as well. Every few years there was a dragon hunt. Rohan was told by his father to hunt the dragons to keep the population down to protect his people.

Rohan, however, discovered the truth of why the dragons were hunted and killed. When the dragons hatched from their eggs, they spewed fire to dry out their leathery wings. But when the dragon-fire hit the eggs, they turned into gold. They weren't killing the dragons for population control, they waited until the dragons hatched to take the gold. And so dragon's gold became a legend.

In "The Belgariad" series by David Eddings, Belgarath the Sorcerer and his daughter, Polgara were legends. Stories were told of their deeds and influences on the world. Polgara herself even admitted to involving herself in politics and wars. Even when she wasn't supposed to. But things they had done were in the history scrolls and became legendary.

So what do you have in your world that helps shape and reshape your world? Who or what in your world is considered legendary? You have the foundations of how to build legends, now go forth and be epic!

Friday, April 12, 2013

K Is For Kings...

Ah yes, kings. Gotta have kings in our stories, because they're the only ones in fantasy half the time that have the energy, the funds and the drive to start wars.

I have lots of different kingdoms in my world. Some are small and some are large. Some are too big for their britches and the rest of the world is afraid of the power they hold.

It is a good thing for the rest of the world that the two largest kingdoms have spent ages warring with each other. While this has kept them occupied, it has also become tiresome. The final battle is about to pick up the pace, but when one of the kings is defeated, what will happen to the rest?

If the tyrannical king wins, he's sure to just walk in and take over. If the other king wins, there will be peace. Or will there?

There are lots of reasons for kings to start wars. All you have to do is look back on history and mythology. Look at Helen of Troy. Fell in love with someone else and started a war because she left her husband. "The face that launched a thousand ships..."

Can you imagine starting a war over love? Men (as in mankind... not trying to be sexist!) have fought over lesser things.

If you want your kings to fight, pick a topic, any topic. It could be over a gambling debt, if you so choose.

Kings may be rulers, but it doesn't mean they are leaders. I have a few kings who are weak, who whine about being put in their position yet do nothing about it. I have kings who do do something about it. They range from compassionate to cry babies.

So depending on the king, you could have some fun with your world or you can make it miserable for all involved.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J Is For Jobs...

Everyone has a job, even in fantasy. Hard work is what makes a world run. From the servant girl in the kitchens of the castle to the tailor, there is something for everyone to do.

A castle runs on the commoners who work it. The question remains, where do these people go at the end of the day? Do they have homes outside of the castle or is the castle their home? If you think about the kitchen of the castle, the people who work it are generally women. And they start before the sun rises to make sure dinner is done. Breakfast and lunch are made along the way, but they begin with dinner. Meat has to cook over fires for quite a long time, depending on what it is and how many you are feeding. Breads and pies have to be baked and cooled. Servants need to be fed as much as the King and his family and any guests that are staying over. Think of "Downton Abbey" and all the bustle to get ready for one simple meal.

Outside of the castle, you have stable boys, groomsmen, blacksmiths, tanners, weapon-smiths and guards. In the city you have tailors and bakers and innkeepers. Farmers and merchants and people who maintain the streets and keep them free of debris and human excrement. People who light lanterns at night and patrol the docks. Fishermen and traders.

There is a lot to keep a world running. You don't have to show all of this in your stories, but you have to build up an image of the area. Make sure you are including everyone from the King and Queen all the way down to the people who empty the chamber pots to make a world turn.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Is For Inventions...

So what do inventions have to do with fantasy, let alone fantasy world building?

Lots, actually.

Depending on what your story is like, you might have lots of "Old World" items in your fantasy setting. I'm currently reading a book that has people walking around lighting the lanterns in the street. There were some books I read where black powder was involved and people fired muskets. Steampunk involves, you guessed it, steam engines.

Personally, I don't have black powder in my fantasy world. This is a decision I made some time ago. I feel the invention of guns made the fight too easy. Hand to hand combat, in fantasy, feels more honorable to me. I know, contradiction in terms. But I have pirates. So how do I fire cannons on ships? I don't. They have small catapults and ballista anchored to the decks of the ships.

Catapults have a basket to launch a boulder, ballista look like giant crossbows. In my case, the catapults launch flaming pitch pots. The ballista have lengths of rope attached to the spear. Some have been soaked in pitch and they're lit as they're launched. Land a flaming rope over the deck of a ship and you have some serious destruction.

In Melanie Rawn's "Dragon Prince" series, there was a water clock that told the time of day. Items like these bring about a sense of familiarity. It also describes the progression from candles with notches marking the hour to actual clocks. 

What if my cannons were steam powered? What if I came up with some other sort of combustible material that would launch projectiles at objects or armies? What other inventions could I think of to bring into my fantasy world that would be believable?

These are all questions you have to ask at the beginning of it all, before you set pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. What will you allow in your world and what do you draw the line at?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H Is For Hierarchy...

We're one week into the A to Z challenge! Good on you all for keeping up the posts. Thanks to all who have dropped by and commented.

Also, a quick thanks to all who came by and got their free copy of my book over the weekend. It was sort of spur of the moment, but I shall do it again someday, so keep an eye out.

My theme for the challenge is world building from a to z. Feel free to leave me comments. And now that I have my link figured out, I make sure to leave it there when I comment on your blogs.

We're talking the pecking order of things here. Who rules the roost? Who does the grunt work? Who really holds the power in society?

When you are thinking of the hierarchy of any given state or kingdom, you can follow the traditional rules or make your own.

There are Kings and Queen, Princes and Princesses, Dukes and Duchesses, Earls, Counts and Countesses, Marquis, Marquesses... oh the list goes on! Lots of research if you are so inclined.

If you have a king and queen, who inherits the throne? Eldest son or eldest daughter? Or just eldest child no matter the gender? Perhaps the family is given lands and titles upon the King's passing and a new one is voted in by the commonwealth. Perhaps there is a huge festival during which Knights compete for the crown.

Of course, there is always the old favorite of starting a war and invading a kingdom to take over. Doesn't always work out so well for your soldiers, though.

These are things to think about when structuring a society in fantasy world building. Do you have a matriarchal or patriarchal society? What's the difference? Matriarchal is run by women, patriarchal is run by men. If you have more than one kingdom and each society is different, how do they maintain the peace? Do they look down on each other for their ways of doing things?

Only you can answer these questions. You'll know who holds the true power in your world!

Monday, April 8, 2013

G Is For Gods & Goddesses...

That's right. Gods and Goddesses rule the realm of fantasy more often than not. Sometimes it is just one higher being or a whole plethora. Well, pantheon, if you want to be technical about it.

Gods and Goddesses can play a significant role in your world, or they can just be casual mentions. Their involvement is entirely up to you.

They can either roam the world in avatars, walking, working, living side by side with their creations. Or, they can live high above the world, looking down on what they have created, pushing people through their lives like puppet  masters.

They can be cruel or loving. Generous or miserly. Full of wrath and hate for their creations or compassion.

Maybe the gods were at war and humans, Elves and Dwarves became their champions or they were just a nasty side effect of their magical battles.

In my world, their was one creator, Ioweth. He created the earth and everything in it. The other gods and goddesses came about through the power of prayer and energy. Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Ogres, whatever the race, if there was a significant need for something like protection from bandits while traveling, their plea would be heard and out of the energies of the world, a deity would be "born".

Some choose to remain apart from the world, others choose to interact. Fizanu is the goddess of Justice and her Champion is the Black Rose. She speaks to him, gave him longevity and special weapons and he makes the world a better place for those who seek justice but are unable for whatever reason to take care of it themselves.

So think about if you want your world to include deities or just one higher being and the role they play in the lives of those living on earth.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F Is For Fighting...

Just remember, that most of these topics are geared for Fantasy world building. So when I speak of fighting, I'm talking swords, baby!

Fighting, in fantasy, can be a huge endeavor. Especially if you are going to be moving towards battle scenes. This will consist of hundreds of people attacking at once. So remember, you don't have to give a narrative about every single soldier! Please, please don't. I'll have to put down your book, find where you live and when you answer your door, smack you upside the head.


Fight scenes can be very powerful and difficult to describe. You can see the movement in your mind's eye, but to capture that in so many words without boring the reader... don't tear your hair out.

First of all, you're going to be tempted to explain each tactic, stance, cool-ninja-fighting-move and by the end of it all, you're going to get so frustrated, you'll leave it out altogether. You WILL confuse your reader, who may not know all those technical fighting move names. So you are left with things like: twist, spin, reach, flick, snap and poke. Yes. Poke.

Which of these two fight scenes makes more sense?

Technical fight scene: "Kayta squared off with Trinara, each taking their favorite fighting stance. After a pause, they began. Kayta stepped forward and thrust her fencing blade towards Trinara's chest, forcing Trinara to parry and reposte. While the block was effective, it allowed Kayta to gain the upper hand, creating the botta-in-tempo. Kayta lunged again and Trinara executed a cavazione..."

Fight scene: "Trinara faced Hedric, her sword raised and ready. When Hedric gave a slight nod of his head, the two began to fight. They circled each other for a moment, not wanting to be the first to strike. Hedric decided to make a move. He took a large step forward, thrusting his fencing blade towards Trinara. She raised her sword, effectively blocking his attack. She forced him back with a shove, lightly stepped around him and flicked her sword towards his backside. Hedric spun around, twisting his blade to block her attack..."

Now, minus the added details, the second scene is "dummied down" for the reader. You're not questioning the reader's intelligence, you're just trying to make sure everyone understands the words, thus causing the story to flow. When people get hung up on words like "reposte" and "cavazione", it's going to break their reading stride.

So keep it simple when it comes to fight scenes!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Want My Book For Free?...

That's right! I said F-R-E-E!

I will be giving away my fantasy e-book, "Adversarius, Shadow of the Rose: Book One" for free this weekend.

So what do you have to do to get it?

Why, it's so simple!

Send me an e-mail here.

In the subject line, type in: Adversarius

That's it. Simple as can be! Check your e-mail inbox once you've sent it off and there you go.

Have a great weekend, everyone and keep on enjoying the April A-Z blog posts!

E Is For...

Well, at the risk of sounding cliche in this world building A-Z challenge, 'E' is for Elves!

The Elven race has always intrigued me. Even though I never read Tolkien's books until much, much later in life, his perception of the race is exactly how I imagined them.

Of course, I have my differences to the race. Every fantasy author will see them differently. But for world building purposes, let's take a look at some of the differences in the fantasy genre.

ElfQuest: Wendy and Richard Pini portrayed Elves as being smaller than humans, almost the size of a child. They didn't start off that way. The "High Ones" were not just the very first Elves, they were significantly taller in stature. They had a thumb and three fingers, they could speak telepathically, (called "sending") and if and when they discovered their true Life Mate, the term for discovering them was "Recognized". Each would Recognize the other's soul or "true self". Their existence was explained as a "spaceship" crash.

Tolkien: The Elves in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" are magical beings. Fair haired, graceful beings. Some with dark hair. They didn't vary much in color or stature. They looked like any other human being with pointy ears being the only exception to their appearance. They did not feel cold or intoxication. They were light of foot, as displayed by Legolas' walking on top of snow or lightly leaping from the ship in "Return of the King".

Other depictions of Elves explain them as being as tall as humans and hair and eye color can be just about any color imagined. World of Warcraft shows Elves with long, pointed ears that flop when they run. I don't like many of those Elves. But their skin color is different, whether it is a Night Elf with glowing eyes or a Blood Elf with an arrogant attitude.

Personally, my Elves are as tall as humans, have just the right amount of point to their ears to indicate their race. They can't get drunk unless they consume at least ten times as much as a normal human and they don't age. They can be killed, of course. Any life can be taken. However, if an Elf lives to a ripe old age of a thousand years and has decided enough is enough, they can choose to leave their current existence and allow their energies to return to the earth.

How do you imagine Elves? What makes yours different from what people consider "The Norm"?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D Is For Dragons...

There are lots of typical creatures in fantasy writing that some writers choose to leave out for whatever reason. The one creature that is starting to fade from fantasy, in my opinion, is dragons.

Maybe I am not reading the right books. But George R. R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" is the first book series I have seen in awhile that even mentions dragons.

I remember back when I started writing, I casually mentioned I had never read any of J. R. R. Tolkien's books. I could feel the astonishment weighing heavily in the silence that followed before the person practically erupted, saying, "HOW can you call yourself a FANTASY WRITER if you have NEVER. Read. Tolkien!?"

Allow me to exclaim:

How can you call yourself a fantasy writer if you don't write about dragons!?

Some people think dragons are over done. I don't think so. I think dragons are as crucial an element of fantasy as the sword and shield. Kings and Queens, Knights, Dwarves, Elves, all of it. Lots of people are veering away from a lot of these things in fantasy writing because they're afraid of sounding cliche, but geez, man! Don't eliminate them altogether!

More often these days, I browse the fantasy section of books on Amazon and almost all of them seem to me better off in the paranormal or sci-fi section. A good majority of them involve werewolves, vampires and witches.

Oh. My. Gah!

If I am wrong, please tell me. But it seems that good old fashioned sword and sorcery is starting to go the way of the garden gnome.

Bring back the Dragons! Bring back their caves of gold and jewels, their fire breathing ferocity and their wise, honorable nobility. Make them fill the sky with the spread of their massive wings and block out the sun!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group...

IWSG is brought to you by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month, sharing our insecurities or support. So drop by Alex's place for details and a list of participants.

So two posts from me today! This and my post for the April A-Z blog challenge. Aren't you the lucky ones?

Well, since there is so much going on I will try to keep it brief. Ha, yeah... right. ::snorts::

I've been slacking in the book promoting area these days. Trying to get my book set up to give away for free for a day or two. I may have to take matters into my own hands and set up a form here with a link to an automatic download page. I know it can be done, but I have to research it a bit. I know Goodreads has a giveaway option, but it looks like it is for new releases only.

So if you know of a place that will show me how to set this up, please share in the comment section. Otherwise, I will figure it out.

Why the slacking, though? Well... life to be honest. We're getting more daylight here now that it is Spring. We're a bit more involved in activities. (We being me and hubby.) My son is about to graduate, my daughter is close to her due date. We're moving to Washington in July, but we're driving, so that means a huge purge has to happen. We spent most of the winter going through stuff, but there is always more.

It entails quite a bit of work, promoting a book. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You can flood all your social sites with links, but the best advice given to me was flood the market with stories. Get your name out there.

Thanks to all who shared that advice with me. I'm still working, still revising and nearly done with book two. Other stories have sort of blind sided me and I had to get the bare bones of them written down before they drove me crazy. Characters just don't have much patience, do they?

So there, that's my insecurity for the month. If it can be deemed as such. I'll be hopping around today, reading some of yours, so see you soon!

C Is For Creatures...

I have spoken of creatures before, when writing fantasy. This is where you want to think outside of the box, but you also don't want to confuse your readers. There are lots of cool creatures in fantasy writing. Gnolls, Goblins, Imps, you name it.

What about thinking outside of the box and coming up with new, exciting creatures.

I've talked about mine before. There is the Belching Scurvy Knave. He's a very ugly bird. Looks like an ostrich that is constantly molting. Blue feathers, probably cross-eyed if you looked him straight on. But he struts around like he's the most gorgeous thing in the world. His mating call gives him his name. It's a belch, followed by an "Oooh!".

I also have Morigwaiths. These are shadow wraiths that were created when Argisindya (the wizards city) magically destroyed itself. The blast leveled the land and when the shockwave struck people almost 500 miles away, it knocked their souls out of their bodies and into their shadows. So they drift around looking for a weary traveler to stop and doze in the shade so they can inhabit their body.

So think about things when you want to create creatures for your world. Pick a couple of animals, toss 'em together and give them a funny name. I mean, really, we have a platypus. Come on. Who thought that one up?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B Is For Bodies...

Got your attention, didn't I? Yes, yes I did.

But the Bodies I am speaking of today are actually Bodies of water and Body counts.

Before we get started though, here is a question I had when building my world:

What is the difference between an ocean and a sea?

Answer: "Many people use the terms "ocean" and "sea" interchangeably when speaking about the ocean, but there is a difference between the two terms when speaking of geography (the study of the Earth's surface).

Seas are smaller than oceans and are usually located where the land and ocean meet. Typically, seas are partially enclosed by land"

I had no idea when I first started building my world and throwing in a continent here, an island there. So I had to make sure I correctly named the oceans and seas. Your readers, if they know the difference, will look. Trust me.

And body counts... what do I mean by that?

Well, as writers, we tend to fall in love with our characters and wish them no harm. Some writers will create what I call "Cannon Fodder Characters". These are characters created specifically to kill.

While having a few of these CFC's is okay, don't just run your characters through some heavy stuff and expect them to come out at the end all shiny and new like they're still in the package. People gotta die!

So make sure you keep a good body count if you are writing stories that involve war or assassins.

C you tomorrow! (Ha! I know. I'm a dork.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Is For Arlee...

Ha! Thought I was going to say April or even some other... 'A' related... um... thing to do with world building.

Well, it IS April Fool's Day. I'm the biggest fool!

While it is the first day of April, it is also the first day of the April A - Z Blog Challenge and of course it was started by the Awesome, Articulate Arlee! Click the link to learn more or even join.

I couldn't think of any more 'A's.

Arlee, thanks for starting this challenge. Not only has it brought some wonderful people to my blog when I first participated, but I keep finding more and more and more! My first A-Z challenge was kind of scary, but I am so glad you invited me to participate when I was a little nobody, all scrunched in my tiny corner of the blogging world.

Made me feel all special. But it is you who are special, sir. Thank you for all you do!