What Frostbite is Like

Ever wonder what frostbite is like? In this video, I share my experience with it.

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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.

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! 🙂

Medieval Life Reference Master List

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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.

Created religions in fantasy novels. Bad idea? Or great?

Is creating a religion for a fantasy novel a bad idea? I used to think so, but now I’m not so sure…

It’s really become a common advice to keep religion out of your novels. The idea is that by creating a religion, you might accidentally turn away readers. For example, by creating a pagan based religion for your novels, you might unintentionally turn away Christian readers.

For years now, this is a “rule” I have followed. To be honest, a large part of me is still torn. The last thing I would ever want is to unintentionally insult someone, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how many creations in the fantasy genre do have religion.

There is the game Skyrim(or any Elderscrolls game, really), Lord of the Rings, and Mistborn, just to name a few, that all feature invented religions.

Although the “safe” advice is to avoid all mentions of religions in novels, looking at it, all the big names in fantasy have a invented religion.

So is the advice good, or isn’t it…?

Honestly, I don’t really know. However, even if it does turn away some readers, there are clearly a massive amount of readers that don’t mind, otherwise the big names in fantasy wouldn’t be big names.

Like it or not, religions are a realistic thing. When people don’t understand something, they turn to religion for answers. That’s why we have so many different religions here on earth. So, to have a world without religion in any part of your world at all isn’t realistic.

My worry is that by keeping out religion in order to please a certain amount of people, I may be making my world-building more flat.

So, with all this in mind, I am seriously thinking of breaking the “rule” and inventing a religion for my current novel. It is a risk, but the world just won’t feel right without it.

For example, in the novel I am currently writing, there is a village in the middle of a monster-filled forest. There, humans are not at the top of the food chain, but they are able to survive because of large stone guardians that somehow repel the monsters, keeping the village safe. I’ve been trying to think of a way of having this happen without some sort of belief system, but anything I think of just doesn’t feel right. It needs a belief system in the village, at the risk of offending some readers.

Adding it could also make my book seem more realistic. These villages in the forests are isolated from the outside world and do not even speak the same language, so it would make sense that they would have different religion then, say, a fishing city on the opposite side of the world.

What do all of you think? Is it best to follow the rule and avoid mentioning anything to do with religion? Or do you think breaking the rule is important for world-building? Please let me know!

Writers are Art Thieves?

Today I talk about the very sad fact that many writers steal illustrations and photographs for their own promotion. From covers to social media posts, writers are becoming major art thieves.

You can read about Allie Penn talking about images for novel aesthetics here.


Writen version of this topic coming soon.

Evil Kingdoms & Food

I get it. Your evil kingdom is suuppper evil. They are just so evil that even where they live is somewhere scary.

I’ve briefly talked about this before, about how often in fantasy novels there is an evil lord taking over the kingdom, and they never really mention what he plans for after the fact.

Is gremlin number  578 going to become a farmer? And gremlin number 382 going to become the royal seamstress?

A lot of the time fantasy novels simply state that he is evil, he is taking over the kingdom, and he is killing everyone and everything as he goes. Not only that, he also lives in some sort of creepy wasteland of ice, volcanic rubble, or endless night. It is somewhere that the average person would not survive in, and it just makes him look even more creepy.

Unfortunately, this is a problem because he has to get his food somewhere. He’s killing everyone and everything, but we are still supposed to believe he is some sort of human-like creature. Hate to break it to you, but humans, animals, and human-like creatures all need to eat.

Both him and his army, are both going to need a food source. A lot of novels try to get around this by having his minions eat people, but eventually, the people are going to run out. If you are not farming the people, the people will run out.

All in all, it’s a major plot hole. This guy wants to take over the kingdom, but once he has it he is going to have nothing left. He wants this power, but once he has the power, he is ruling over…dust? And then he dies.

It is not a sustainable plan.

There are two major ways you can get around this.  The first is think of a food source. Maybe in his icy landscape, they eat seals and fish, or maybe in his volcanic rubble, there is life the manages to survive. Or maybe they are more advanced and have worked out underground gardening with some sort of artificial light source.

A second way to get around the cliche is to rethink your villains’ motives. If he really is living in some sort of area devoid of life, of course, he would want to get out. Maybe the reason why his kingdom is a volcanic wasteland is that a volcano erupted and it used to be a paradise. Now, his people are dying and he is trying to take over the enemy kingdom to save his own people. Now, you have a reason for both your villain and his army to be extremely motivated; if they fail, they are dead anyway. If they win, they have farming grounds again.

Just as an extra, one final, and unpopular way, to get around the cliche is to avoid having your evil villain in an “evil” landscape. It would be an interesting twist to have the villain in a lush green landscape not all that different from the lush green landscape the hero is from.

All in all, please remember one simple rule when coming up with your villain: even evil people need to eat.

Dream + Fantasy Novel Updates

A Writing Shed in a Garden

I read once that visualizing dreams help them come true, so I did what I do when trying to visualize something, and I drew it out.

Ever since the so-called “she-sheds” first started making an appearance online, I started dreaming of a writing shed. Instantly, I knew where I would want it to be without any thought. For me, I would adore having a large garden with so many fruits and veggies that I could leave extras for my community to take as they need them. A garden that would not just help me, but my neighbors too.

At the back of all of this would be a modest shed with opening screened windows and a small attached greenhouse. In it, I could open the windows, and smell the dirt, herbs, and flowers. I could hear the wind in the trees, the singing of birds, and the soft hum of pollinators.

It would be just outside my home, but stepping inside of it would leave all the stresses of life behind. It would feel like I was going to work, even though it would only be just a few steps from my home.

If I was having a moment of writer’s-block, I would quietly tend to the garden while thinking of my stories.

That, to me, would be the best writing spot. : )

 

Writing Progress:

My current major writing project is something I am currently calling “Woad.” The name may change, but the story itself is proving to be intense to flesh out. The story will be from multiple points of view, forcing me to know more about my characters than I might have had it only been one POV, and the world is so large that the details about it keep growing.

Before I attempt a second attempt at a draft of the first book, I would like to know absolutely everything I can about both the characters and the world. I am determined to make both seem real in my writing, and something that often helps me do that is drawing.

Sometimes, I can be working on one sketch of one character for hours, and those hours is a sort of private time with that character. My mind is only on them as I draw, so I flesh out their personality, and while my pen moves I also finalize their appearance more and more in my mind. It is a win-win situation!

Here are some of the drawings I have done for this novel so far(more are sure to come!):

 

Thanks for reading!

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Using Animals to World-Build | World-Building Help

You want to make up your own underground human-like fantasy group, but don’t want them to be like all the red-bearded dwarves with Scottish accents that you normally see. So, what can you do?

One of the most untapped resources for creating fantasy creatures is animals we already have here on earth.

For example, let’s say you’ve decided for sure that you want to make a group of people that live underground. What do years of time underground do to animals? Luckily, we have examples here on earth.

If you look at the majority of cave creatures, like an Ozark cavefish and grotto salamanders, they are either blind or have no eyes, and have almost no pigment. Since there is no light, they have no use for eyes, and since they can not see each other, then pigment has no use either.

Food in caves is in short supply, so some animals go months without eating. What they do eat is sometimes washed in from outside, other small cave creatures or something too small for the human eye to see, like bacteria.

Since they don’t have eyes or are blind, they get around using sensory organs. For example, the blind salamander has receptors in the skin. They also normally have special organs for lack of oxygen, or sometimes even for breathing in toxic gases or waters.

So, let’s go with that.

Now, we have a group of blind people who see by sensors on the skin, and they are essentially albino, with no skin or hair pigment. Their clothes and homes would also be plain in color, so maybe to make things interesting they use extremely detailed houses and homes in terms of texture. For example, carefully carved scenery on walls so detailed you could feel the flow of water if you run your fingers across it.

Due to living so deep underground, they have the ability to breath in air that would kill surface dwelling creatures. This could be interesting in a story, if, say the enemies are trying to poison everyone. They release something in the air to put everyone to sleep, walk into the room, and there is our undergrounder just sitting in the chair, poking his surface dwelling friend with a stick.

For food, if we want the simplest answer, we could say that an underground cave is stocked full of blind fish. This also explains why they do not need things like fruits and veggies; these creatures we just created are strictly carnivores like most cave-creatures. They get what nutrition they need from the creatures in the caves.

If you want them to be dwarves, that would also make sense too. Most cave creatures are smaller than their surface-dwelling simulars so it would not be a huge step to say that our undergrounders would be shorter than the average surface dweller.

See? Interesting, right? And that took me very little work and we have a group of human-like people with abilities that we can explain why they have them.

I really hoped this helped to explain how to use earth animals to help come up with creatures for your fantasy novels.

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!

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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.

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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.