World Building Live Chat

On January 14th, several fantasy writers (myself included) got together for a live feed on Youtube to talk about world building. It was our first time doing something like this, but it was a great time!

We plan on doing one video a month, so please let me know what topics you would like us to discuss.

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Free Kindle Book: The Purest Blood

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The Purest Blood will be free Oct 31-Nov 04 2015.

I am already getting people say things along the lines of “Why would you ever give your book away for free?!” but trust me, I do have a reason. ¬†If I am completely honest, the major reason is marketing. As of right now, my book has no reviews on GoodReads, and one in total on Amazon.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not mind if I don’t make money off my book, but the fact that no one has considered reading is sort of heartbreaking. I would love to give it at least the smallest chance at getting a little known; even if the reviews are not what I want.

Wish it luck; and if you do read it, please don’t forget to review! ūüôā

Medieval Life Reference Master List

medieval

Hi everyone! For my High Fantasy novels, a long time ago I started gathering YouTube videos on life in medieval times. From everything from weapons to daily life, I collected it all.

I was thinking about it, and I decided it would only be fair to share this. So, without further delay, here is my list! I will add more videos to it as I find them:

Music:

Daily Life:

Places:

Weapons:

My Book is For Sale!!!

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So The Purest Blood is finally for sale! I can’t really believe it….it just does not seem real to me.

There is, however, a catch. As-is, the novel is un-edited.

I know that is a huge¬†risk to take, but to be honest, I thought on it for a long time. Most editors cost by word, and my novel is currently sitting at 118665 words…so the one editor would have been about $4000. Ouch, am I right? Well, as much as it pains me, I currently can not spend that kind of money. I wish I could, but I just do not have it; and after thinking about it, I realized that I can not spend that kind of money on a book that may not go anywhere. I do understand that you have to spend money to make money; but as of right now, my money is spoken for. I am going on a trip to Japan in September, so I need to save every penny I can to make that trip the best.

I do have hope, though. CreateSpace(the company that prints the books) does let you edit the file at any time, so hopefully friends and family who buy it will be kind enough to point out any typos they might see. Perhaps, if I am lucky, these friends and family will help me edit my book just because they want to. That is; if they buy it. I don’t believe in pressuring people to spend money, so I won’t ask anyone if they have or have not purchased it. Most people I know in my age-group are struggling for money just as much as I am, so I will have to wait and see.

What about all of you?  Did any of you write a book and pay for an editor? How much money do you think is too much to spend on a gamble like this?

Edit:

The book is now live for Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.Fr, Amazon.de, Amazon.es, and should be on kindle within about 14 hours.

6 Ways to Make Your Novel Pubs More Unique

I am guilty of it. I have written a stereotypical pub and looking back on it, I wish I had spent more time on it.

 

Picture this; your character enters a pub. Groups of people crowd tightly around small tables, and many turn to glare at your character as they enter. Your character ignores them and walks up to the bar where a gruff looking man with huge muscles is cleaning off the counter annnndd….how familiar does this sound? This formula is used in more fantasy novels I can count. So how can you fix that?
  1. Serve More than Beer. Nearly every bar in novels boasts of beer. What if the town is known for making wine out of a local berry? What if they like a whiskey made with sea water? Have people drink more than a pint of ale.
  2. Music. This is something video games actually take more advantage of than books. Having a performer singing a mocking song about the king of an enemy royal family can quickly add lore to your novel.
  3. Entertainment. Some bars play pool, others just watch sports on TV. Your pubs shouldn’t be any different. Is there a local game they like to play? do they watch people arm wrestle? Bar fights?
  4. Food. Sure you could have a plate of something placed in front of your character, or you could have this pub known for something special. Maybe there are dozens of pubs in this city, but the one your character is in is known for their secret recipe of wild herb stew.
  5. Bartender. I get it. These are rough men who need a rough barkeep. That being said, wouldn’t it make you wonder how a young man with barely any muscle can run a bar where the customers are too scared to cause trouble? Maybe your bartender is talented at magic, maybe they are talented at gathering information on people who cross them, or maybe, just maybe, the barkeep is an old lady who helped raise all these men as the neighborhood grandma, and they are all still scared she will smack their butts with her left shoe.
  6. Setting. Instead of having the old bar/inn, why not think bigger? Maybe the bar is in a crypt, maybe it is in a cave, or maybe it is in a treehouse. Whereever it is, it certianly does not have to be in an inn.

My Art | Scottish Fairies: Part 1

If you picture a fairy as how they are described in Hollywood, then you are in for a surprise. In folklore, the term “fairy” is more of a category for a certain type of mythological creature. Some are generally¬†nice, and some are generally¬†mean, but all are fascinating¬†to me.

A current novel I am writing for Wattpad has several fairies, so I plan on doing one drawing a week and posting those drawings on here every so often with a brief description of what they are. So, here are the first drawings!

brownie

Brownies

No, not the chocolate dessert. Brownies are from Scottish & English folklore and will help with chores in exchange for food, but you can not call the food a gift or payment or it will leave. It used to be common for houses to leave a small stool near a fire just for a brownie to warm himself at.

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Crodh Sidhe

A Crodh Sidhe is a “fairy cow” found in Scottish folklore and is described as without horns, white-bodied & red speckled. They eat seaweed & sometimes visit with regular cows, but will always leave again for the sea.

I got a tad carried away with the branches and green fur, but I wanted to make it clear that this cow is not a regular cow. Also, I figured even a fairy cow might want some camouflage to hide from predators.

mermaid copy

Merrow

Scotland has their own mermaid lore (including a clan which is supposedly descendants of them), and they come in the form of Merrows. Unlike mermaid myths elsewhere in the world where mermaids are often only described as female, Marrows have a balance of lore about both male and female marrows.  The female marrow love to seduce sailors, and the male marrows love to drag sailors down and drown them.

Merrows are often described as having skin with a green tint, webbed hands, a fishtail, and seaweed green hair. I know, my drawing does not depict any of those descriptions, but I thought it would be fun to draw a mermaid with jellyfish-like hair.

Flower Pixies

A “pixie” is sort of a vague description of a small sized mythological creature. Like “fairy,” it is still a broad category, so that is why I decided to put these drawings in that category. Sometimes the words “pixie” and “fairy” are used interchangeably, but in some places, they are seen as very different things. For example, at Buckland St Mary in Summerset, England, the faires and the pixies are said to have gone to war against each other.

Want to learn more about fairies/Sidhe? Click here.

 

2017 Wrap Up & 2018 Goals

Happy (late) New Year! It’s time again for me to do my yearly wordly¬†wrap up, where I talk about what goals I did or did not accomplish last year for 2017 in terms of writing and reading, and also my goals for this year.

Writing:

  1. What writing goals of yours did you meet in 2017? 
    This year was an average year for writing for me. I did finish the first acts of both Haze and Glitches, my two Wattpad practice novels. My goal in posting them is to become a better writer, so I am really glad I got further into them.
  2. What did you not get done in 2017 that you wanted to?
    Unfortunately, I did not get very far into my main writing project, Woad. I did somewhat of a very rough first draft, and then again a part way first draft, but I did not really complete a full first draft I was happy with.
  3. What are your writing goals for 2018?
    I want to choose between Haze and Glitches, and whichever one I choose I want to post at least one chapter a month on Wattpad for readers to critique.
    I also want to get at least the first draft and second draft of Woad done.

Reading:

  1. What was your favorite book or series that you read in 2017?
    I had a bad reading year, so I really did not find a book where I was like “wow, that book was amazing!” Last year it was Six of Crows, but this year I sadly did not find one. On that note, I will gladly look into any book recommendations¬†anyone might have!
  2. Are there any books you are looking forward to reading in 2018?
    Nope. None that I can think of off the top of my head. I have many books on my to-be-read list, but there are none that are freshly being published that I am super excited for. I really hope I find a book like that for me this year!
  3. Did you have a Goodreads reading goal? If so, did you meet it?
    Nope, it was not a very impressive year for me in both reading and writing. My reading goal was set to 50 books, and I hardly read more than half that.
  4. What is your reading goal for 2018?
    I am going to set this year at 50 books again, and I am determined to beat it this year~!

Why Your Medieval Loner Can’t Live Alone

Imagine a loner character in a medieval-based fantasy novel. I am going to go with a male since they are the most common offender. This guy has a small castle, a house, or even a hole, but this character does not need help from anyone…or does he?

If your character is a true loner, chances are he is going to have to give up the majority of his hobbies if he is in a medieval-like setting. This counts knights; if your character is a loner knight, chances are he will not get any of his knightly duties done if he actually lives alone.

On his own, he will have to…

  • Care for the farm animals/garden
  • Go to town to buy necessities
  • Grind his own flour and make bread
  • Cook every meal
  • Clean dishes, the house.
  • Chop wood
  • Collect water from the well or river.
  • Keep the fire going(even at night)
  • Wash laundry by hand.

And while he is doing all those, he has to somehow be making money so he can buy things and pay taxes.

There is actually a really smart reason as to why in medieval times a man and a woman would get together and populate the human race like rabbits. One of those reasons is that you can pass down the work to children. One of the children might collect the eggs every day, while another one might chop the wood. Shared work equals less work for all and more time for hobbies.

The most likely way for your character to “live alone” is to have staff. If your character is wealthy, having staff who will do all the chores around the house will leave time for your character to do whatever (likely murderous) hobbies he may have. Better yet, because staff doesn’t count as “real people” to the high society, to everyone’s¬†eyes he is still living alone.

Another common option is to have your character be a traveler of some variety. Have him stay at inns, and he can pay people to do all his chores. He could be completely useless and not even know how to make himself a meal, and no one would ever know.

The last common example is to have him be a street thief. Instead of doing the chores, he will simply steal what he needs.

If you are still deadset on your character being a loner, keep in mind that about 80% of his day will be chores. Making food, getting water, and so on.

As I have said previously, it is a myth that medieval peasants did not have hobbies or free time, however, if your character is, for example, a knight in training, his training will take up most of his day and he will not have time for chores.

If the character has no job, being a loner could work, but with one it will be hard to not depend on other people for at least some of the work daily life takes.

Desert Survival | Writing Help

Dehydration Side Effects:

Your body needs water desperately. Here are just some of the symptoms based on the percentage of water loss in the body:

  • 1-5%: Dizziness, Lack of Appetite, Nausea, Lethargy
  • 6-10%: Headache, dizziness, tingling limbs, slurred speech, losing vision
  • 11-12%: Swelling tongue, skin shriveling, darkening vision, deafness, inability to swallow, death.

Very often in novels and even real life, people in desert situations ration their water. Never, ever, ration water. In real life, people are sometimes found dead in the desert with a bottle full of water because they ration their water and die of heat stroke before the dehydration gets them. Instead, you are better off drinking what water you have in small sips over time. Not rationing, and not chugging.

Water Collection:

  • Solar Stills. Solar stills are a great way¬†to get water. See how to do it here.
  • Digging for water. Often in movies, characters are shown finding plants and digging for water. In truth, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, the roots of plants reach very far down so you would have to dig for a very long time to find that water. Instead, set a limit on how far to try digging.
  • Following Creatures. Even bees need water. I work at a bee farm, and if the weather gets too hot we have to put out water every day for them or they will die of thirst. If you see a beehive, there is a good chance there is a water source nearby. Follow a bee, and you might find it! The same goes for ants, or even grazing animals.
  • Collecting rain.
  • Splitting Cactus for Water. Many cacti are pretty starchy inside, and some of those that are full of water can make you very sick. Maybe don’t do this one.

Conserving Water:

  • Stay in the shade; especially around noon when the sun is highest in the sky. The heat will only make you sweat off what water you have. Instead, find a shelter for during the day.
  • Do not lay on the ground. The ground can hold heat, so instead put some layers between you and the ground.
  • Don’t Smoke. Smoking dries out your mouth.
  • Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol can dehydrate you faster.
  • Talk little. Talking can dry out your mouth.

Shelters:

  • Caves. You are not the only one who likes easy shelters; beware of snakes and other creatures. Also, put the fire at the back of the cave. Putting a fire at the front will only blow wind in, making your cave into a smoker. Instead, put the fire at the back of the cave, and the smoke will go along the top of the roof and out the opening.
  • A-Frame. A simple shelter with minimal supplies needed. Even better with a space/emergency¬†blanket which can help reflect heat.

Cold Protection:

People very rarely mention this, but deserts can be brutally cold at night. Some deserts can go from being hot enough to cause heat stroke in the day, to having to worry about hypothermia at night.

Another issue could be seasonal cold. Even Alberta, Canada, has a dessert, and though it is what you would expect from a desert in the summer, in the winter they can get large amounts of snow.

Deserts are not necessarily only about heat; cold can be an issue too.

Food:

You can survive three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Keeping that in mind, you should also know that food takes water to digest. Eating when you don’t have water can dehydrate you faster, so if you do not have water you are better off not eating.

Did I miss an important tip for desert survival? Or did you find this useful? If so, please let me know in the comments section below!

Arena Fight Plots

 

Arena fight stories are nothing new. These storylines are common in martial arts movies, cartoons, and early every superhero comic has some sort of arena fight arc.
The basics of an arena plot are simple; people are put into a fight against each other in front of an audience and there can only be one winner(or occasionally one winning team).
Although many places around the world historically have variations on this, the most common source inspiration for writers seems to be the gladiator games.
Being a good gladiator made you a hero to the people, so combatants were comprised of criminals, slaves, citizens, and even high ranking people.
Both men and women could be gladiators, and there were even gladiator schools. If you were talented, you could get sponsorship, property, and even promoted to be a guard.
If things got boring, traps, such as with wild animals, could be included.
Starting to sound familiar?
In fantasy novels, the most common plot is that a king is holding a competition. It is normally a Colosseum sized arena but can be a maze.
For SciFi sci-fi, is is normally a way to show the darker side of people. This arena can be as large as an island, and the most common theme is using cameras so spectators can watch from home.
I think arena fight plots can be interesting, but only when done right.
I recently read a book where the majority of it was preparing for games, then there were the games themselves….which bored me beyond belief. Why? The only thing at stake was money. Competitors could drop out or lose without a single meaningful consequence. Basically, they could have been playing football. Yes, the book mentioned that “occasionally people die” but certainly not in this book.
I’m not competitive. At all. If you challenge me to a soccer game, I’ll likely lose interest in minutes. So what can you do to catch my interest for arena fights? Add in stakes.
It does not have to be “only one can live” for motivation. You could have a world where there is a ritual where characters have to win the competition in order to be gifted with magic, you could have a prison where characters are fighting to win freedom, and so on!
Many writers say what characters will win, but very few writers mention what will happen if the characters loses.

Brooks Medieval Faire

Last weekend I was at my first ever medieval themed festival in Brooks, Alberta(Canada). The Brooks Medieval Faire is a yearly event which has jousting and combat competitions, vendors selling themed goods, villagers explaining history, and more.

Long story short, it was amazing.

Everywhere you looked, there was something interesting to be seen. Even many of the visitors were dressed in historical or fantasy garb; some of them appearing to be straight out of a fairy tale.

One of my personal favorite things was touring the medieval camp. There, reenactors were showing activities that were once part of daily life; such as making bread in a clay oven or spinning wool.

My next favorite had to be the tournament fights. The clang of an sword hitting armour is something unique, and not to mention exciting. These fighters did not go easy on each other; it is a full-contact sport, and I applaud them for fighting so hard in such heat. To those who do not know, Brooks is a desert, and these fighters were working out in metal ovens.  They certainly got toasty.

All in all, the Brooks Medieval Faire was a great experience, and I look forward to going again next year!

Creating Holidays & August Updates

Special days Рor holidays-  in novels are actually surprisingly rare. Very few books take advantage of the summer or winter solstice and other days even though they give you many writing opportunities.

  • Putting in a holiday gives readers an¬†opportunity to see how your character interacts with other people.
  • Since a lot of attention of holidays are on those running it,¬†people of power are normally right in the spotlight so it can show where your character sits in a position of power.
  • Food. There is¬†always food at celebrations,¬†so it gives you a chance to engage the sense of taste and smell for readers, and it also shows what it is the people of your world eats.
  • You could use it to show things to come. For example, perhaps a ghost does not disappear¬†after Halloween. Is that hinting of things to come? Is the veil between the ghost world and our own getting thinner?
  • It gives opportunity to show thoughts on power. For example: the Kings or Queens birthdays, and also what day they became the king or the queen. Perhaps the people just use it as a day off to drink, perhaps they reluctantly celebrate because they have to, or maybe they go all out because they actually love the king or queen. This is a quick opportunity to show the average persons perspective on whoever is in charge.

Need some examples of what holidays you could have?

Perhaps to mark spring, the whole village goes out and plants seeds on the same day. This marks rebirth and the start of a new year, so to amplify this, if a person wants a fresh start, they can burn everything they own and even cut and burn their hair, and from that day on the villagers must accept this person is a new person. They can not hold grudges on them because they are no longer the person they were the day before.

Another example is harvest festivals. Most places in the world celebrate the last day of harvest had have a great feast. Some even give some of the harvest to some sort of spirit or fair folk.

There are many ways to use holidays to your advantage in writing, and they are an often skipped over tool.


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