Radio Check

I’ve noticed my traffic dying off big time, so I’d like to make a test.  Please give me a hand.

If you are reading this only in the email, please click the “Like” button, to let me know how much of this is being read through email, rather than coming to the page.  I’d like to think I’ve not faded totally into obscurity.  To those who visit my page, thanks for dropping by!

Thanks for helping out!

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Where did that last sock go?

Akiniwazi Encyclopedia

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Now that things are moving forward, some housekeeping had to be done.  I realized very quickly I had my database of all my glossary, places, and more are scattered about in too many files and need to be consolidated.  So last night I spent a lot of time putting together all the definitions, locations and names I could find for part one of my Encyclopedia.  There are two more parts to this, as well refining the main atlas. In the future, if I see interest, I may release this as a freebie for everyone who signs up for a mailing list or maybe just joins this website.  I dunno.  I haven’t thought about a platform yet because the idea of marketing and even more social media just rubs me raw.  I’m quite a private person, and social media distracts me too easily.  I have to be very careful about that stuff.  How the encyclopedia is breaking down is so:

Part 1: The Encyclopedia Proper

The glossary or the definitions or explanations of everything in Akiniwazi with a proper noun attached to it so far.  Therefore, it is going to constantly grow over the progression of the series.

Part 2: The Timeline

The history of Akiniwazi is the most finite thing so far, but I’m not finished compiling it right now.  I’ve been too distracted with other stuff, plus moving the story forward in Book 2.  Currently, it is laid out from the year 800 AD to about 1350ish AD?  Somewhere in that range.  About 175 years before the time of the story.  There are some significant events that happen in that time and shape things.

Part 3: The Atlas

Yes, there will be maps coming.  Not only is there the main geographical map as included in the first book, I plan to add other maps to the collection like political maps, possibly zooming in on individual lakes once I have more places named.  And of course, maps for each novel as appropriate.  Of course, if I can get legal clearance to release the novella (Currently titled “The Price of Mendacity”) I will not need a map for that.  Other ideas for maps include Timeline maps tying part 2 into the Atlas.

My last part which may be more important than I want to admit is going to be a cast list, so I can keep track of all my characters out there.  I tell you, I have 3 books worth of characters (yes, remember book 3 has its first draft done, but needs heavy HEAVY editing).  And I’m starting to introduce some of the characters into book 2 as I write.  What can I say?  I like some of these people and feel they deserve a little cameo up front or set them up better for book 3.  I’m chaotic, go fig.  It is also the part I probably will not release to the public for too many of them will be riddled with spoilers.  Maybe I’ll do character bios someday.  Call it a to-do list or something for Patreon if I start doing that.  I dunno.

Anyway, that’s the stuff that’s going on right now.  I’m happy to be doing it, but so frustrated that my inner Veruca Salt is back out running amok screaming “make time go faster!”  (of course as long as someone else can do it.  BOY work and focus suck.)

 

Update: Book 2

We have reached chapter 6 of the second book.  The scenes are still a little difficult to put out, but I am falling in love with some of the characters.  Can’t wait to share more about them.  Oh… and I am bringing back some characters from “A Light Rises in a Dark World” and Book 3.  Yes, remember, book 3 has its first draft done already.  It’s in for a heavy rewrite once this one’s done, but I think we can do this fairly well.

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Stats

Chapters – 6
Words – 11,995

And the plotlines are sprouting up like weeds.  I had forgotten how fast this happened with running RPGs.  You run the first adventure, and suddenly you have a plethora of directions to go in, and it becomes a case of careful pruning.

One of the plotlines, I am toying with making a special freebie for mailing lists since it is an asynchronous story inside the book and necessary for explaining things into the future.

One of the most fun aspects of writing of course is that I do a lot of “on the fly” research.  How did people write these kinds of complicated works before the interwebs?  I mean I am writing a scene where I have to describe the kinds of desserts available to royalty.  Much to my surprise, variations of cookies, called ‘kex’ in Iclandic go all the way back to Persia in the classical era!  Well hell!  Crusaders could have picked up that recipe since that’s when they came over to Europe.

Not to mention, this time, you guys get an out and out palace and castle. Achievement Unlocked!  Get ready for Dyrrvatn Kastali, home of the Visekonge and the celebration feast of Klarrvatn.

There’s your teaser.

Also, this book is going to be bigger than the last, and possibly the next.  Just a suspicion.

Anyways, happy days!  Now I need to move about before my butt falls totally asleep from working so long.

Scrapyard: Improving My Craft

First, a hat tip to David Lawrence, another aspiring author, head of The Seraphim Regiment : Christian Online Gaming Guild and co-inspirational goofus for driving me in this drive towards making writing my career and really working at my craft.  Thanks for the inspiration to try this out.  Go check his blog out.

Two resources have been put front and center in my writing life right now.  First is one I found and latched onto like a lamprey, while the other has come up behind me and clubbed me a good one thanks to Dave.

The first is “The Story Grid” by Sean Coyne while the second is “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey.  The two are revolutionizing how I write and work with my stories.  What’s even better is to realize how much I used before learning more about these things on instinct.  I think I can blame 30 years of being a GM for various RPGs and participating in oral storytelling for most of my life.

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So last night, I started analyzing some of my favorite films.  Yes, 2am, Christmas Eve/Day is a good time to watch a movie when you should be keeping your regular schedule.  What did I pop in?  “The Fifth Element“.  Not the most holiday-like of a film but it was what I wanted to see as I resisted the re-watching of “Blade Runner” because I’m on a giggly anticipatory edge for the sequel.  That, I will watch later today.  What I wondered was why, although “The Fifth Element” is an incredible movie, it doesn’t quite go over the ‘critical hump’ to make it a masterpiece.

What I realized is that it did not quite manage the “Hero’s Journey” in a completely satisfying manner or its delivery of obligatory scenes was not quite up to snuff, and made up for the gap in the storytelling with a richness of top notch production design (which nobody can disagree with.  Nope sorry, your argument is invalid because reasons.) and good acting.

Luc Besson spends a long time building the universe, and although it’s fun to watch everything up to the point of Korben Dallas getting into the story (the true personification of the hero in the story) it is about 20 minutes of setup that is more or less dithering on establishing the “Status Quo”.  It doesn’t really dig into the actual story, which in effect is a very short and basic.

You have also have a lot of parallel villains and macguffins.  Now this isn’t bad per sey because Zorg (and Mr. Shadow) with the Mandalorians are all seeking the stones.  The three threats are all striking similar chords and add some delicious betrayal and complexity, but each time, it slightly weakens the overall whole.  Mr. Shadow is a “Man Vs. God” level threat, and the other two are “Man vs. Man” threat.  You have a small “Man vs. Self” threat in terms of Korben’s depression and helplessness but that is almost an afterthought to create the ambiance of his character as the burnt out veteran. Even though the man vs. self does a quick return at the finale, it’s got no real power other than some base sentimentality and emotional manipulation to make the “gets the girl” trope work.

The movie does spend some good time with the next three steps of “Call to Action”, “Refusing the Call”, “Assistance” and “Departure” which comes in many various flavors.  The movie is more like a rope in this manner rather than a beam.  Many things working together, providing great flexibility and art, which is good, but it is not as strong in the end as a singular focus.  The call comes to adventure comes to Dallas through multiple sources, same does his assistance.  Again, although they are alloyed together and echo each other, it is not as strong.

As for the “Trials” honestly, this is almost non-existent and is wrapped up in the coupled fights before and after the Plavalaguna’s Concert, but it’s also mixed up in a disorderly mess where two of the three villians (Zorg and the Mandalorians) are dispatched leaving only the real Man vs God threat as Mr. Shadow goes right for the temple to kill everything and so too must our heroes.

“Crisis” is present when Leeloo is wounded, but again, it is easily overcome, which hurts.  Yes Leeloo is wounded with some great buildup and diminished, and then we get some angst out of Korben, but that’s about it.  Combine with that the emotional shock of the self sacrificing Diva, we are back to that “rope” I’ve referred to.  Good, flexible, textured, but again, not as strong.  The obligatory scene of “Hero at the mercy of the villain” is here with Zorg vs Leeloo, but again, its a little weak on its own, but with the death of the Diva and Korben trying to figure out where the stones are, it’s strengthened.

Then comes the final battle which combines “Crisis”, “Treasure”, “Result” and “Return” all into one quick 10 minute event.  Leeloo is fully realized, Korben gets the girl, evil is defeated for another 5000 years and they’re all back on Earth.  Badaboom, it’s resolved and for me, the first time I saw this movie, it was satisfying, beautiful and fun just like every good thrill ride.  But why did the movie not make the jump to true “classic” film?  I think it’s because it used rope versus versus a steel beam of singular sources of hero and threat.

We even get an “all is lost” moment in when they assemble the weapon only to not understand how to make it work.  As I think about this movie, it works a lot on thematic echoes.  Protagonist Korben is echoed by Leeloo and to some extent Father Cornelius.  The Villains are echoed.  The Macguffins are singular, but in four parts.  The departure (boarding the spaceplane) is repeated FOUR TIMES!  The “Crisis” and “All is Lost” moments are echoed as well.  And again, what it does it sets up a nice harmonic, but goes back to my basic criticism I think to where it keeps this movie from being considered a true classic, but rather an “Honorable Mention”.

The movie itself hits a ton of obligatory tropes:

  • spaceship with FTL
  • Flying cars
  • Megacities
  • Aliens
  • Cool new technology (that nanoreassembly is an incredible bit of SFX)

They even give a few 1990’s cultural twists that were popular ironic social observations.

  • Cynical former military hotshot
  • Benevolent or at least benign but incompetent government
  • Big Business cooperating with evil blinded by profit
  • Damsel in not so much distress (Damsel saves Knight)
  • Scatterbrained priest with undefined strange religious trappings (Dem robes y’all)
  • Shallow uber-sexual narcissist media figure idiot
  • Stoner ground crew of the Reggae variety

But how about obligatory scenes/events common to sci fi/space opera?

  • We get a few battles in flying ships.  (Flying cars and spaceships)
  • Learning about the alien culture (Leeloo learning human culture… now with nudity!)
  • Big spaceship explosion (So long, Fhlostan Paradise)
  • Hokey Religions and Ancient Weapons (Meet Leeloo the deified ancient weapon)
  • Plucky Rebel against insurmountable odds (Korben and Leeloo vs a cast of several)
  • Last second salvation  (The rainbow barf pew pew that saves the universe)

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Now I’m not trying to minimize how much fun this movie is, because dagnabbit, it’s a blast and I like to watch it regularly.  But as I learn more about my craft, I realize why it’s not a seminal classic or rated among the best films ever.  Now I get it.  Hold this up to say “Blade Runner” you can see how it differs in that manner (even though this is light space opera adventure versus a cyberpunk film noir thriller).

Anyhoo, this is me having fun with mah new skills.  I think I may make this a regular series when I sit down and tear into other movies using the ideas from Shawn Coyne and Joseph Campbell.  If not to help myself improve my craft, but to give observations that may help other writers, or just be entertaining.  So, let’s see if my “Scrapyard” will become a regular series of articles.

<Insert awesome sign-off tagline here>

 

 

Some Changes Be A-comin’ & Other News

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I must remind myself, yet again, that the deadlines I give myself must be multiplied by a factor of 3 in regards to time. 😦  I also must remember that I am not in a race to publish, and that I need to stop it with those deadlines.  I am just so frustrated that I seem always too far away from where I want to be.  Editing seems to have me in a Norman Juster-esque geographical oddity.

In preparation for the upcoming release of my book, I need to reorganize some things on my site and do other things.

First, I have noticed almost zero traffic to my Library and Studio pages, so I guess it’s time to pull them down.  That doesn’t mean that the content is going to go away completely.  Instead, I am going to spend some time, once I can take my focus off the editing grind, and work on finishing the timeline and atlas of Akiniwazi for future giveaways.  So if you liked it in the future, but have not signed up or jumped on the mailing list, it will become available again for those who desire it again.

Second, I have been plotting book 2 in the background (Book 3 is ostensibly written, but had to be pushed back one novel because I had points and characters from the first book that originally got nothing in what had previously been written.) and have come to a major hook to string all these neat scenes in my head together.  It is under the working title, for my own sanity, of “Finnsoga”, since the 3rd book is technically Reimarsoga: book 2.

Third, I will be re-titling the whole shebang once I get closer to publication and will be putting up a poll for people to vote on titles, preferably before I go to the artist for a cover, so expect that soon.

On a positive note, even if things go completely cattywampus and I can’t get book one out as soon as I hoped, there is still the chance of 2-3 books coming out in 2017.  I am going to be refining my editing process as mentioned in the past, and well, live and learn I guess.  I know I can get the drafts out there, but my issue has been getting edits done quickly.  My hope is that what I am about to set up for book 2 could shave 2-3 months off of how long it’s taking.  (remember, the original manuscript for book 1 was finished in May, but the major structural rewrite wasn’t done till Sept.  Something I’ll never have to do again I hope.)

So as you can see, things are moving forward.  Just not at the pace I want.

Then again, has it ever?

The First Five Days

Five days in, and binge writing is still the order of the day.

I discovered quickly I cannot dictate.  My mind just refuses… REBELS even… at speaking out in prose.  I need my fingers.  But I have decided to use Google Docs for a little, to see how well this will work.  And I’ve downloaded Scrivener to transfer my work to… ultimately.

So here’s how it sits:

2.4 chapters

5437 words

…and rising.  I’m not done for the day till I get closer to my goal of 10k.

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What I am finding odd is that since this is an adaptation, I’m going back pretty regularly to the source material to go over it as I write.  This is slowing me down a lot more than expected, but it’s nice to see it flow none the less.

The Strange Dichotomy I Stumbled Upon

Akiniwazi is a complex project.  It’s roots are based in some big philosophical questions:

  1. Can you make a Christian based “magic system”?
  2. What would the world look like if the Vikings discovered the New World
  3. What would a civilization look like if it discovered steam power but not gunpowder?

Number two and three have been possibly some of the most fun while number one has been the most trying.  When laying out the rules of the world in my mind, and on many scraps of paper (I tell you if this thing becomes a blockbuster, there are going to be so many scraps of real source material floating around for collectors after I die if I don’t burn them).  The biggest, even before I realized the alternative history aspects that are many of its roots is that this is based on the philosophy of what I call the “War Behind the Veil”.  The idea that there is a war between God and his rebellious creations following Lucifer and the effects it has on the physical world.

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Now, originally, this was to be a complete fantasy world with nothing in common to Earth and the world as we knew it.  But… I hit upon a huge problem:  How can you have Jesus and Christianity in truth, if you tamper with the the world and make it all fantasy.

I was stuck!

I realized you could not have that if there were any changes done to the “Old World” of Asia, Africa and Europe.  I had to leave them be, untouched and historically the same.  That single realization was a terror to overcome.  How could I have this setting I envisioned with the world being exactly as it was historically?  Then I stumbled upon it,

The New World can be totally different!

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The map was mutable.  I could make the new world and have it all the way I wanted, save for one last issue:  The Skaerslinger.

It is painfully obvious that I have taken heavily from Native American cultures.  The names of the lakes are taken from corrupted translations of Ojibwa words, for example.  But something I want totally divorced from this is to make the Skaerslinger anything like the actual indigenous people.  While the old world medieval Viking culture and related materials have to be at least honestly researched (maybe not perfect, but darn good enough to satisfy all but the biggest nerds/experts who will pick at this), I needed to abandon the same level of research and historical accuracy to the Skaerslinger.

I can’t do this, because I am not going to be accused of hate speech or racism (though some might try it anyway) because they want real world accuracy on their cultures in a fantasy novel.  So there is a big reason why I have thrown historical research for all New World cultures out the window and thrown in multiple influences into the mix from Celts, Cossack to Zulu to Aztec and Inca.  Plus many other ideas I have that make for a good ‘spice palette’ of the culture as it develops.

There are some very strong black and white lines because that is the nature of the novel, but I do not want to have anyone claim I’m saying “insert Native American culture is Satanic”.  I’m not, and will not.  But there is a reason for the structure, what I have to say and what is to come. It will be illustrated throughout the entire series.

So that’s the strange dichotomy.  All things in the old world and before the discovery of Akiniwazi are going to be considered as truthful and attempts will be made to make it accurate.  The New World, its people and geography and events there are a rapidly diverging splinter timeline and world from the base because it is fantasy and it MUST be.  This gives me freedom to create from raw cloth as well as just spice things up a bit from time to time, or even take interesting aspects from those cultures and use them as a template.

Many of these things will not really come about till book 3-4 I think, but you’ll see hints as we go.

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BTW, I am toying with releasing another sample chapter as it passes through the third or fourth edit.  Let me know below if you want to see another chapter out of the book!

 

 

Akiniwazi Notes: Keeping Time

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I have had trouble a long time with keeping time in my setting till I came up with a better, but more imprecise way of tracking it.  Throughout history, the church has been a primary keeper of time, so have ships for they needed it for navigation, setting of watches et all.  The problem is, clocks were expensive and generally not available.  Most people relied on sundials, hourglasses, water clocks, candle clocks and a variety of other time keeping elements.  This lead to a lot of imprecise understandings of time.  That needed to have some reflection in the setting.  So how to keep time in an organized manner and from a medieval mindset.  I settled on  the use of church Canonical Hours as a compromise.

 

Canonical Hours

This is how time is kept in Akiniwazi on land in three hour blocks. If time is specifically known, it will be referred to as either the 1st, 2nd or 3rd hour or minor of the period.

  • Nocturnes: Midnight-2am
  • Matins: 3am-5am
  • Primae: 6am-8am
  • Terce: 9am-11am
  • Sexte: Noon-2pm
  • Nonae: 3pm to 5pm
  • Vespers: 6pm-8pm
  • Compline: 9pm-11pm

Now time throughout the day is broken into eight three hour blocks which flows more with the rhythm of the setting.  So when you want to say what we recognize as 1200/12pm… aka noon, That is now First Sexte.  Dinner time?  First Vespers or Third Nonae if you meant 1700/5pm.  You see how it flows.  It works well when considering hourly progressions.

The finest reliable method of time keeping I have is by half and quarter hours.  Rarely will they have (or need) a piece of time keeping equipment with fine enough precision for single minutes or less.  Very few mechanical clocks exist in Akiniwazi, Most of the technology did not make the trip over.

Needless to say, it has not been without its own challenges, but it adds a nice flavor in the end.. in my opinion.  Then again, I’m the author, so I’m biased.

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