Reappearance

Ok, so I didn’t realise I’d been away from this blog for 10 months! I’m going to try doing monthly posts this year if I have enough things to say about my writing.  Last year was a bit crazy in several ways but things are starting to look up a little.

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Introducing Delve

delve-cover-2

I am proud to announce the Delve anthology, a collaborative writing project that includes Beguiled, one of my own tales.

Our writing/editing team are members of the A Song of Ice and Fire fan group on Facebook. The Song of Ice and Fire novels, by George RR Martin, have long had a huge cult following which has only grown larger since the inception of the TV show Game of Thrones, which is based upon the novels. Our Facebook group has, over time, become an online family for its regulars.

The anthology was conceived as a fundraising project after a number of our members were lucky enough to meet up with one another whilst attending WorldCon 2016. The proceeds of Delve are intended to facilitate the communal experience of group members attending Worldcon 2017 in Helsinki, as well as allowing those of us with literary aspirations to get our name out there in the world of publishing.

As we began as a group of fantasy fans, it was natural that we should choose the fantasy genre as our starting point whilst planning the anthology. We also decided to include fantasy’s brother, science-fiction, since the two genres are essentially two sides of the same coin.

After months of hard work from our team, we were finally able to publish in December 2016. I hope you will enjoy reading Delve. I certainly enjoyed taking part in the anthology and am currently enjoying the experience of reading my collaborators’ work. I look forward to working on future volumes with the team.

The book comes in both paperback and ebook formats.  Here are the links, to the UK ebook and the US ebook.  The paperback is accessible by choosing to view other formats.

O hope some of you will be kind enough to help out a group of fledgling authors and give the book a read. If you like it, I hope you will recommend it to family and friends and perhaps. if you are feeling especially generous, write a review on Amazon.

Have a wonderful 2017.

Creating Fantasy: The Pirate Kingdom

This is my last major post about my characters and kingdoms for now.  It’s time at last to talk about the Darkmere Isles, home of the pirate kingdom.  I really need to create some other kinds of government besides monarchies when the time comes to add more countries!  Anyway, the pirate kingdom is a patrilineal society, so men tend to hold the lordships, though a man may be succeeded by his daughter if he has no sons.  However, the law of the islands does not allow for a Queen Regnant.  Inheritance matters aside, Darkmere society allows largely for equality between the sexes.  Both men and woman typically receive some degree of martial and naval training in childhood, as well as other types of education.  Their future role in society is depended upon a variety of factors, such as their personal aptitudes, their preferences and their social and financial status.

The societal structure of the Darkmere Isles is in part based upon the Napoleonic era.  Although the kingdom makes much of its income from piracy, it is usual for a Darkmere captain to refer to himself as an officer in the King’s navy, though natives of the other lands will call him a pirate.  Although ruled by a monarchy, with strict military principles, the Isles are fond of their administration and so both military and civil matters are heavily regulated.  Office employment is highly sought after by those who have no affinity for life at sea, or prefer a more stable lifestyle.

The Disgrace of Darkmere

My point of view character in the Darkmere Isles is Alfric Edmundson, a disgraced former captain who lost his vessel after falling into a trap.  Alfric is lucky to be alive since custom dictates that a captain who loses his vessel should not survive her.  Unfortunately for Alfric, his naval career now lies in ruins and he has been given a desk job while all he desires is a return to the sea.  Alfric must now face prejudice and contempt from his countrymen whilst attempting to rebuild his life.  His quest to restore his good name will take him along paths yet unknown.

Here’s Alfric’s Sims 4 picture.  It’s not great, because unfortunately Sims 4 is a little too pretty and clean for creating a pirate.

 

alfric

 

On the plus side, someone on the Nanowrimo Facebook page suggested I try the Black Desert Online character creator.  After a couple of tests, I managed to create a much better Alfric.

 

alfric

 

I’ll probably add a post about a couple of minor characters whose roles remain somewhat undetermined but that can wait a while.

Creating Fantasy: Troubled Wives

In this post I want to talk about the kingdom of Meriva.  As I mentioned in my previous post in this series, the kingdom of Meriva is a patriarchal theocracy.  They are ruled by a king who is also the head of the church.  Unlike Henry VIII and successive British monarchs, the kings of Meriva fulfill the roles of both king and priest, so the term priest-king is perhaps more appropriate.

 

Meriva’s patriarchal customs are somewhat similar to traditional medieval values but perhaps a little more extreme in places.  Women are barred from holding office or inheriting land, title or wealth and are expected to obey the decree of their fathers, and later their husbands.  Should a man have only daughters, the inheritance would pass to the husband of the eldest daughter.   The Merivan church is equally oppressive, supporting the patriarchal customs and barring women from holding religious office.  Meriva’s creation is still in the fairly early stages but I am already addressing the problems of extreme patriarchy through my two Merivan narrators.

Royal Wife

My first Merivan narrator is Harmony, a princess by marriage.  Her husband, Prince Shale, is King Obsidian’s younger son.  They were married for political reasons.  The two have a troubled marriage because Harmony doesn’t enjoy the social whirl of court life, dislikes sex with her husband (she’s actually asexual) and has only managed to produce one daughter in several years of marriage .  Here she is in Sims 4.

harmony

When her tale begins she has grown resigned to her unhappiness but her attitudes begin to change when she meets her future sister in-law, Marcia of Praxia.  Harmony’s story is about finding happiness in repressive circumstances, whilst being surrounded by the wider political and religious issues affecting Meriva.

Here’s a basic family tree for the Merivan royal family.

merivan royalty

 Vena

My second Merivan narrator comes from a different place in the social spectrum. Vena is a seamstress who has grown up in Celestia, Meriva’s capital city.  Although patriarchy affect all ranks of Merivan society, it isn’t always enforced so strongly among the working classes, though that depends on the attitudes of the individual men.  Vena’s husband, Rostifer, believes in the patriarchal values he grew up with, but he loves Vena deeply and their marriage is much happier than Harmony’s.  Despite their close relationship, Vena finds herself won over by Camilla’s tales of a society which offers more freedom to women and becomes the first and most devoted of Camilla’s new disciples.

vena

The Inquisition

As I’ve already said, the Merivan church can be oppressive, particularly towards women.  To help maintain order and stamp out heresy, the church is served by an order of clerical policemen known as the Inquisition, whose powers are almost limitless within Merivan borders.  This order is of course inspired by the Spanish Inquisition.  At present I have only included a few members of the church, but the most important of these is Inquisitor Xenon, a senior officer in the organisation, pictured below.

xenon

Xenon is deeply devoted to his church and has a fierce hatred of all other faiths.  He is also somewhat sadistic and enjoys inflicting pain.  That’s all I can say about him for now!

Death Row – A Short Story

 

Well, part of it, anyway!  Death Row was one of the tales I wrote for my Nanowrimo project.  It tells the story of Agata, a murderess living in Actium, Praxia’s capital city.  In the full text, which has a word count of 6218, the narrative jumps between two perspectives.  Much of the story is told by Critus, the guard who arrests Agata, but Agata does relate part of the tale, the murder, and the events that occur after her arrest and before her sentencing.  I felt that it was too long to post the entire thing so here are Agata’s two sections of the narrative.  I’ll put them below the cut with a warning, the murder section is pretty violent.

Continue reading Death Row – A Short Story

Creating Fantasy: Magical Princesses and Devout Priestesses

First I want to talk about Livia, who started it all.  The initial part of Livia’s story was actually written as part of a self-publishing anthology I agreed to contribute to in 2014.  I pretty much made it up as I went along, and realised as I was writing that there was much more I could say about Livia’s story.  I’m not particularly good at writing short, concise stories.  I have a tendency to create narratives that actually belong in novellas or even novels!

If anyone is interested in reading the initial version of Livia’s tale, it can be found here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Worlds-Entwined-Collection-Authorauthor-Houwelingen/dp/B00V74A25Q/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1454076713&sr=8-9&keywords=worlds+entwined

Sadly future collaborations by the group haven’t happened but perhaps they will at some stage.

Livia’s story is the tale of a princess who loses her magical powers under mysterious circumstances.  As I wrote, I incorporated a miracle at the city’s major temple.  The short story ends with Livia agreeing to go on a quest to regain her power.  However, when I decided to begin creating a full fantasy world, I decided to use Livia’s world as my starting point and to make this world my focus for Nanowrimo 2015.   Livia’s quest will form one of the major narrative arcs of the novel.  Here’s my Sims 4 image of Livia.

So, a few details about Livia.  When her tale begins, she’s widely regarded as the most promising student about to graduate from the Mage’s College, so the loss of her power comes as a major blow.  The incident strips her of her confidence and her faith as well as her skill and forces her to leave the familiarity of her world and embark on a quest into the unknown with only her ex-boyfriend and a knight for company.

livia

 

The Praxian Empire

At the beginning of her tale, Livia resides in Actium, the capital city of the Praxian Empire, which is in part inspired by the Roman Empire.  I hope over time it will sound a little less like the Empire in the Elder Scrolls games, but it’s early days yet!  The Empire is a matrilineal society, so noble lineages are always descended from the female line where possible and the ruler of the Empire is always female.  The current empress. Gaia Antonia, is Liva’s grandmother.

The Imperial family tree currently looks like this:

praxian royalty

As I have been focused on the female members, I haven’t got around to creating male members of the family other than the fathers and husbands, or any extra female relations.  The family tree will be worked on in the future.  For my current purposes, this bare bones family tree illustrates the fact that Livia’s Aunt Julia is heir to the Empire.  Livia herself is the child of Gaia’s younger daughter.  The Praxian line of succession thus runs:

Gaia Antonia
Julia Antonia
Silvana Antonia
Marcia Antonia
Cassia Antonia
Livia Antonia

Livia’s cousin Marcia doesn’t narrate any of thes tory but she’s stillone of the most important characters because she features as a major character in another of the narrative arcs, due to her betrothal to the future king of Meriva – I’ll talk more about that in another post!  Here’s Marcia in Sims 4.

marcia

Marcia is considered the beauty of her family.  She loves to wear jewelry and makeup and . has a knack for knowing how to behave at social functions but her magical prowess was questioned by her relatives and tutors before she passed her test.

I mentioned above that Livia’s tale begins with her losing her magical powers.  It’s important to note that members of the imperial family are usually magically gifted , as well as many members of the Praxian nobility.  It may be that there are other mages of less noble origins but this isn’t Harry Potter, so I haven’t really explored that.  However, while the gift of magic is relatively common in Praxia, it is not widespread across all provinces currently ruled by the Empire and certainly not common in countries not ruled by the Empire (at least not the ones I’ve been working on so far!)  This means that magic gives the Empire a distinct advantage over some of the other countries in the world.

The Temple of Miniva
Magic is also linked to religion in the Praxian mind, as they believe that it is the gift of their goddess, Miniva.  Theirs is a dualistic religion.  Miniva is the goddess of life, while her consort Aidas is the god of death.  This will be particularly important since the novel will feature a handful of different religions, and there will be conflict between the adherents of these faiths.

One of my narrators is Camilla Cinna, a priestess of Miniva serving as a missionary.  Here’s her image in Sims 4.

camilla

Devoted to her goddess, Camilla is determined to bring her faith to the people of Meriva, the kingdom into which Marcia has been betrothed.  As Meriva is a patriarchal theocracy that often oppresses its female population, Camilla chooses to focus her attention upon the women, hoping that they will be attracted to a faith that offers more freedom to women.

That’s all for now.  I’ll introduce my Merivan characters and others in future posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating a Fantasy

I was going to do some blog posts around Nanowrimo when I started working on a new project but somehow it didn’t happen!  Having said that, Nanowrimo went pretty well.  I wrote a set of short stories based around the theme of imprisonment.  Each story took place in a fantasy world I’ve gradually been creating, yet, as I progressed, I realised that I had much more to say about most of these characters and also that there were quite a few links that would enable me to turn most of the work into the beginnings of a full length novel.  I’ve since been working on that when I have both the time and motivation.  I compiled a document with my Nanowrimo work and another short story that belongs in the same work and got a couple of printed copies for the purpose of initial editing, which I have now started.

The story is going to be told with a selection of narrators, similar to the point of view system employed by George RR Martin in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels (my favourite series, as my previous posts on this blog will demonstrate!)  Last night I spent some time working out the order of the existing chapters plus a couple of extras I have in mind.  It’s got me excited about continuing with this work.  I just wish I had the same momentum I had during Nanowrimo!  I’m hoping that putting my thoughts into words on the internet will help me with that.  For now I am going to talk a little bit about each of my narrators, their homeland, and their role in the story, as well as a couple of the other crucial characters.  I’m using Sims 4 Create-a-Sim for pictures of these characters for the sake of visual aids.  🙂

Thoughts on writing and random ideas