Writing Playlist

Yes.  I have a writing playlist that I use to put me in the mood.

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Many people listen to music while writing.  Others do not.  Some can even do it with the TV going and other distractions.

I like writing to music.  Tea at the ready in the wee hours of the morning.  I seem to not get really rolling till after 4am lately.  This I think has more to do with working nights, but I prefer to write when its dark out.  Just the way I am in my inconsistent manner.  So what do I listen to?  Here’s a list of songs and artists I have in my playlist.  I wish I could put up an actual playlist so you could all enjoy, but hopefully you then have enough information to look on your own if you are interested.

Okay, maybe some samples will show up if they are on youtube or something.

The “Official” Akiniwazi Playlist (exerpts)

Two Steps from Hell

  • Moving Mountains
  • Heaven Hell
  • Nero
  • Norwegian Pirate
  • Heart of Courage
  • Strength of 1000 Men
  • Breathe
  • Cry
  • El Dorado
  • Ocean Princess

Vangelis

  • Conquest of Paradise
  • Monastery of la Rabida
  • Light and Shadow
  • The Bounty

Mychael Danna:

  • Phoenix Anastasis
  • Nakawe
  • Visions of Bernadette

Loreena McKennitt:

  • Prologue
  • Marco Polo
  • Night Ride Across the Caucasus
  • Dante’s Prayer

James Horner:

  • Jack Dawson’s Luck
  • On Hallowed Ground
  • The Oglala Sioux
  • Proud Nation
  • Thunderheart

Dead Can Dance

  • The Host of Seraphim
  • Ascension
  • Circumradiant Dawn

 

Hans Zimmer:

  • Progeny
  • The Emperor Is Dead
  • Reunion

Other Cinematic music from:

  • The Civil War
  • The Fog
  • The Island
  • Schindler’s List
  • The Passion of the Christ
  • Hannibal
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • The Professional
  • The Crow
  • Prince of Egypt

Various Medieval music, both classical, modal and re-envisioned:

  • Hildegard Von Bingen “Illumination”
  • The Empire Brass: “Passage”
  • Gregorian Chants from the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos
  • “Sing We at Pleasure”
  • Native American Flute by Coyote Oldman’s “Thunder Chord”
  • Nordic Roots Albums

Classical classics like:

  • Faure’s Requiem
  • Night on Bald Mountain
  • Mussorgsky “Pictures at an Exhibition”
  • Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” plus a re-envisioned version.
  • Hall of the Mountain King  (you just knew it was going to be in there, didn’t you?)

And several dozen from various artists I found for free on Soundcloud and other sources.  I shall leave you with a favorite of mine.  I use all three “versions” out there.  The full, acappella and instrumental:

 

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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!

 

 

The Editorial Two-Step

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Buster sez, “Ai r nawt teh happiez wif dis process.”

I think I finally burned down the impediments, and now can start the final battle.  Not only literarily… is that even a word?  As well as compositionally.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my two main characters I’ve driven to a “all is lost moment”, and I just have a little ‘grace note’ of a scene I need to do to drop out the bottom in my other main character so the two are both there.  As I think of it, that scene just grew too into something exciting before the big “Fire in the hole” moment for the battle.  I set my plotline and wove all the pieces together that were fighting me, and I took a few days to let my brain refill, and now… I just need to get real life out of the way so I can push forward.

So why the title?

To get all the weaving done, I was pulling my hair out.  I have in this part, a bit of story that could be off-putting for some of the audience.  I’m going to definately get another alpha reader opinion on it, but once again, one of my sounding board readers in this, Francois, came to the rescue and pointed out where I was overthinking it.  Something I really don’t want to do.  So I wrote, then threw out, wrote then threw out, wrote again… thought about it, forged forward, had another think and a talk, went back and rewrote, throwing a bunch out but not as much as I thought.

The editorial two step.

At work, after listening to the Presidential Debate… wow… just… trust me, my Facebook is a bit singed this morning, I listened to another Creative Penn Podcast and had a nice thought hit me.  I might not get this done before the one year anniversary of my major push starting, but I might be able to do a pre-order for the book and put the first book on sale right out of the gate with maybe some other promo things if it looks like it won’t make it for Christmas.  It’s a thought at least.

So, tonight, when off work, I’m going to hopefully kick off the battle and be one YUGE step forward to polishing this bad boy off… and get to beta readers sooner rather than later.  I was also encouraged by Ms. Penn discussing her need to abandon false deadlines too.  I sighed a large relief at that.  Then realized that she’s also cranking out far more words than I am, so I need to start getting my act together.  Inspiration, not competition… inspiration not competition.

;c)

 

Besides, she already won if it was.

Timeline of Akiniwazi: 1307-1310AD (39-42 Ad Segregationem)

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(Althing – Icelandic Parliament)  Government Thing Viking Law.  If it helps, pronounce it “Ting”.  But this is a real thing.

 

1307AD (39AS) Halmarpakt- Through the planning of his father, Halmar created the “Akiniwazi Union”, unifying all the Jarls and their Aettir into one cohesive government under him. There were now 13 “Royal” Aettir that united under the plan and became known as the Halmarpakt. Seven of them were given control of one of the lakes of the land while the remaining 5 were given major rivers as their lands while the Visekonge held the Kisiina Sea and the Athrflodjt as the personal lands of the Visekonge.

1310AD (42AS) – The Second Royal Census: In the wake of the Union of Akiniwazi’s creation and the naming of the 13 Royal Aettir, many old clans and families demanded some official recognition in compensation for agreeing to the new Halmarpakt. This prompted the order of the Second Royal Census. This was the first since the Isolation began. Many hoped it could help give closure to the era most Forsamling felt. Included in the census was the tracking of all the Aettir in Akiniwazi.

This, when complete, created the “Peerage of the Aettir”. Five distinct levels of peerage were created in the Halmarpakt.

Vapenaettir or “Crested Aettir” were those who had meritorious service to the Royal Aettir and land. They were given the privilege of a recognized coat of arms, motto, colors and family crest. Royal jewelers and metal smiths were directed to present graven copies of these to the heads of the family as templates for their family broaches and other jewelry.

Landetaettir or “Landed Aettir” were provided the privilege of recognized colors. They often were given much better titles and greater power as the Visekonge wished to rule in concert with the forming blocs of power.

Fargataettir or “Colored Aettir” were those who had provided meritorious service or were allied under one of the three Royal Aettir. They were given the distinction of a color, but took the crest of their patron Aettir.

Sivuaettir or “Paged Aettir” were those without land, industry or meritorious service, but could trace back their lineage to the old world and were still a cohesive family. These families were only listed in the Census Registry index. They had no official heraldry permitted. Their only honorific was the page and line number their family was listed on at the time of tabulation. Often Sivuaettir would have broaches and other decorations with the pair of numbers written on it. Although there was no officially recognized hierarchy, it created a social hierarchy and began to reshape society quickly as both new alliances were formed as the new Halmarpakt was accepted.

The result of the Census was grim. From a peak estimate of approximately 16 million people in the land, not including Thralls and Skaerslinger, only 5 million Forsamling survived the Fimbulvetr and the Aettirkriegen.

No More False Deadlines, Mommy Dearest

 

Admit it, you heard the paraphrase in her voice too.

If not, Youtube is your friend.  Look up Mommy Dearest.

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The first time I tried to be a business man/artist, I failed miserably.  Webdesign and the like was not my thing, plus I am a terrible… TERRIBLE salesman.  Not bad for production and back end, but yeah don’t get me involved elsewhere regarding sales.  One thing I learned is that things seem to always take three times longer than you think they will.  As you can imagine, I forgot this rule.

So I’ve blown my latest deadline because the book is just so difficult right now to nail down.  I know this is resistance, and I can see the ending, but boy, I’m really having a hard time getting to the finish line.  Like a marathon runner hitting the wall.  (So I heard.  I don’t run, not even at gunpoint.)

So what’s going on?  Simple.  My ending was more ambitious than my deadline, and I have had to concoct many things and take many other themes hiding in the depths of this story and resolve them.  Now I could have taken the easy way out on it and just glossed over the whole thing and be done with it.  But when I started writing, I promised myself to write something that I would want to read, and this is something I want to read.

I keep thinking back to what it is that I liked about the books I love.  Consider:

“The Hobbit” (even moreso than the Lord of the Rings I love that book)

“The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”

“Huckleberry Finn”

“Old Times on the Mississippi”

“The Stand”

 

Movies like:

“Runaway Train”

“King of the North Pole”

The “Mad Max” Series

“Last of the Mohicans” (Yes I prefer the movie to the book, but both are excellent)

These are all about adventure while travel.  Nature is often the largest enemy, while human complications make the matters worse.  These things are huge influences on my project, though it seems the more I work on it, the more it starts to feel like “Apocalypse Now”.  Matching wits and danger against the power and majesty of nature.

The finale needed to do several things to make for the best resolution, plus every time I managed to solve the issue, I had something new come about.  I needed to drive my co-protagonist, Brother Finn, to his “All is lost moment”, and then deal with my other co-protagonist, Reimar, to a point where he overcomes his nature.  Both need to happen pretty much at the same time, and I’m finally there.  I just have to put the words on the page to pull it off in such a way that makes sense.

It’s not a YA “Coming of Age” plot, but it has elements of both in it.  It’s more a novel about redemption and learning to stand for something greater than yourself.  Themes I really hope come through and hold true.  We shall see.

So, triple the time, and don’t set up false deadlines.  Let the story tell itself.

I pray that my patience and due diligence pays off in the end.

PS, I am moving my early week blog to Tuesdays for a while, to see what happens.

 

Improving My Craft

Learning the craft of writing is far more than pecking away at a keyboard and handing over those thoughts without review.  Writing is in the re-writing and editing when pursuing a professional quality.

I am reminded of a special I watched on Monty Python.  In it, John Cleese explains how brutal they were on editing each other’s work.  Apparently, they were brutal to one another, and what was born out of such ruthlessness was on of the best comedy shows that ever had existed

It was erudite as well silly.  Bawdy or witty.  They also knew when they had said enough and ended the show.  Learning this on your own is nigh impossible, I suspect.  

A few months ago, I started listening to a few podcasts on writing and editing.  In an effort to share the wealth, here are some links to my favorites.

The Story Grid

http://storygrid.simplecast.fm

By far a most excellent Podcast done by Shawn Coyne and hosted by Tim Grahl.  The Story Grid tool has single handedly altered how I write forever.  I now know how to dissect my writing on a grand scale far better and caught some huge mistakes I had been making.

The Creative Penn

http://www.thecreativepenn.com

Author Joanna Penn was my first foray into listening to craft related podcasts.  Her back catalogue is huge and has so many hidden nuggets on the industry as whole.  Plus her easy country English manner is good enough to read a phone book and draw a sizable audience.

Two other related bit not directly aimed at editing, but about the Self-publishing industry are:

The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast

http://rockingselfpublishing.com

Hosted by Simon Whistler, this podcast is a great interview collection.  Simon is top notch in getting some interesring tidbits from authors who have made it.  The site’s pop-up adds are not well optimized for mobiles, so be ready for that irritation, but the product is well worth it.

Author Level Up

https://m.youtube.com/#/channel/UCcdjxp-TGOOucIV1rMDS8jw

This is more of a vlog as it is a YouTube channel hosted by Michael LaRonn.  Although he is taking a break at the moment as to focus on some related creative work, is format is perfect for quick, useful advice.  He also focuses more on the business side of creating your author brand making it an invaluable little show.

I hope these resources can be a help to you too.

Wordcount Schmerdcount

Yep, last week’s trip to the cottage turned out to be a mistake.

I so cooked off my noodle from the stress and moving back and forth I’ve done no writing since, and I’m pretty ticked off about it.  It was a titanic effort to get that stuff out that I did put out, and I’m still not happy about it.  But tonight, I’m back to the grindstone I think.  I realize part of what had me unable to write, outside of exhaustion was I didn’t like how I got my main characters into the mess to start with.  I had some brilliant bits before and after, but that naughty little in between portion… oooh!

So frustagating!

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Stir fry… because that’s how my brain felt for a week now. Tasty tasty chopped up ideas.

But, last night, I finally calmed down a little at work because I had time to turn around and think for a minute or three, and so I found the flaw, and now know better how to split up my protagonists, drop one in the soup and leave one helpless and needing to be rescued.

I hope y’all are liking the timeline.  Another one will be coming next week once I get back to making the late week post the creative post and the early one more biographical.

Anyway, on a side note, while I’ve let my brain cool, I’ve been playing lots of Guild Wars 2.  Yeahhhhh… we’re kinda hooked.  I’m part of one guild, but am toying with doing a game stream and starting a small guild of my own now that I have a level 80 character to run with.  Anyway… Could be fun.  We’re still contemplating.

That’s all for now.  Maybe there will be a surprise post later, I dunno.  Depends on how my writing goes this weekend.

Toodles for now.

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I can has Charr… miaow.

Delays: Explained by Snaps Provelone

A quick description of me struggling to meet my deadlines a la the movie “Oscar”.  (You should watch it if you haven’t.  Awesome stuff.)

I went away for a couple of days to get away from interwebs and focus on writing.  It sort of worked.  Sort of.  Two longer chapters written to the tune of around 8,000 words in 2 days.  Not bad if I do say myself.  Of course, I had probably written about another 4,000 words on top of that, but it just wasn’t working, so I had to throw all that out.

Sometimes writing is like that it seems.

But every time I turn around and think “Ah hah!  Now I have you and I can wrap this up!”  A loose end or ragged concept raises its meek little finger and says “What about me? I need resolution”

Hence the above clip.  Seriously, go watch “Oscar”.  It’s well worth the laughs.  Great cast.

I managed to write myself into a corner because I’ve been pantsing again.  I pants a lot.  I need new writing britches I think because of it.  Thankfully the solution was provided by science.  Yes!  I threw science at the wall and some of it stuck.  I fretted it was too Deus ex Machina, or in this case Deus ex Meteorology and Cartography, but the more I thought about it, it flows perfectly with the set up and is a logical and plausible solution.  As you can suspect I worry about coming off with pat silly or contrived solutions.  I really try not to invent them, but I’m learning this is also part of being a writer.  You are the sole filter in which the reader experiences the world.  So work on internal consistency of logic and causation, and it will be all right.  It’s when you do something that people go “Oh come ON!  Really?  How stupid do you think we are?”

…and suddenly the book the achieves sufficient velocity to land in the trashcan.

I worry about these things.  So I think very hard, even when pantsing about what I wrote and whether or not it is internally consistent, whether it needs something written before to set it up so it’s not an out of the blue “surprise!  contrived solution here!”.  I’m rambling.

Long story long, I thought I’d be closer to done than this.  arr rarr rarr.  I’m not, but I set up key parts I needed to in order to throw the switch on the big finale conflict….  annnnnd I just had an epiphany.  No seriously.  Right here thinking about the final act as I considered my whole “All is lost” moment from which triumph is snatched from the jaws of defeat.

Oh this is good.  Straw is flammable, right?  Right!

I’m indecently pleased with this solution and I’ve already set it up!  Ohhh I am now just beside myself with squee, but I have two scenes I have to write.  Well maybe three… sigh… probably three knowing me, in which to throw the switch, but that might be able to be compressed into one chapter.

Okay, so that’s stuff I have yet to do and hope to have it done by Monday.  Boy howdy, this is down to the wire of my grace period. (Labor Day)  And of course Monday I’m not going to get much done because it’s my fantasy football league draft and I’m seeing my good friend and his thundering herd of kidlets.  Le Sigh.  Better buy an energy shot or something.

There is some positive news too.  I finished polishing 2 chapters early in the book, and am considering releasing chapter two as another teaser once I’m one scrubbing it up for y’all.

For those of you enjoying my timeline, I have those posts ready to go for two of the biggest events in the timeline.  Den Lange Vinteren (The Long Winter) and the Aettirkrigen (The War of the Clans… thanks for the linguistic save, Torfinn!)  So those are coming probably Monday and maybe Thursday?  Haven’t decided yet, but expect one Monday as usual.

Okay, rambling done.  Off to bed in a little then work, then maybe sneak some more editing in.

Hasta la byebye!

 

 

Twenty One Scenes and Other Thoughts

That’s all I have left.

Approximately that is.

I always weird out when I start thinking about word counts and words per day.  2000 seems like a lot, but saying how many scenes I have to write doesn’t seem so bad.  In fact, it’s more organic to my mind to think in writing scenes over words.

Screw the count!  I just want to get full ideas out on the page.  From there I can work on them and see what’s what.  Some scenes I might figure out how to do faster or better.  Others might need to be dragged out and lingered over.

The point is, I don’t like stopping mid idea.  Mid story as it were.  Every chapter is pretty much one or two scenes to me, depending on how tightly related they are.  If I stop and come back later, they don’t fit together right, you know?  It’s like I have to re-break it and allow it to heal right.

No… that’s not the correct metaphor.

Or maybe it is.  I dunno.

So my goal was end of the month.  Last Thursday, I mapped it out and came up with 19 “new” scenes that needed to be put in to complete the finale of Book One of Reimarsoga.  I’ve gotta come up with a good sub title.  I mean I’m dealing with three layers of names here.

I’ve got “Akiniwazi”  The name of the land, or really the whole fictional universe.  Then I have this book series, which follows primarily my main character, Reimar.

Hence the name “Reimarsoga”.  If you’re going to steal (or do I mean research?) appropriate big or go home.  So I took the old Icelandic concept to this for dat extra flayvah.

And now, for Book One.  It needs a sub title.  I ain’t got one yet.  But maybe something will pop up by the end of the edit.  I’ll probably have a poll of a select few to work with.  That way when I publish, it will be “Reimarsoga:  Book One’s title replacement here  – An Akiniwazi Novel”.

Or something like that.

Good Lord don’t make me think about hiring an artist yet.  I’m not quite ready.  I think I’ll wait till after the beta readers return what they think are the most exciting scenes to use that as the inspiration of the cover image.

Sigh…. so much coming soon.

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Timeline of Akiniwazi: 1205-1266AD

A continuation of the alternate history timeline of the Land of Akiniwazi.  As always, these are letting you in to see my background notes of how the fantasy setting came to be.  That means they’re rough, probably with typos and not generally edited save for contradictions.  I hope you enjoy getting to see “behind the curtain of my setting” and share your discovery with others.

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1205AD – The Church of Akiniwazi or Kyrkja, is established in the new capital of Dyrrvatn Kastali. The new capital suffered under many disputes over who was to rule from this central point and many skirmishes and feuds were fought between the budding Aettir. The Kyrkja begins construction of a cathedral in the city.

1222AD – The new Cathedral and monastery of Dyrrvatn Kastali are christened and founded.

1225AD – The first census is taken. There are 2 million Nordics in Akiniwazi. The rich mineral reserves and rumors of the Garden of Eden draw people from all over the Norse lands. Most of them lived in ever growing ports on the Kisiina Sea. The Nordic Kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark grow very rich as more of their population push to resettle overseas. Threats come from other nations on keeping the route to Akiniwazi secret. The penalty for revealing the secret is death by torture of themselves and their entire families. Many captains and pilots develop false routes that increase time of passage but hide their routes. A sophisticated relay of partial routes are set up as well. With control over the points for resupply. Only those approved by the Nordic Monarchy and the Church are allowed passage over. The church, concerned with the degree of miraculous occurrences begins to hide the rumors and only send over their most devout and loyal priests and retainers. The strain for control over Akiniwazi puts the church and the Nordic Monarchy at odds with each other.

1229AD – To consolidate power officially, King Haakon decided to unify the fractious colonies of Akiniwazi by creating the Visekonge of Akiniwazi. He sent his youngest son, Svienn to rule there on behalf of his brother, Magnus VI.

1231AD – The Visekonge’s palace is completed in Dyrrvatn Kastali.

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1245AD – Den Hellige Avtale (The Holy Appointment). During a battle at the prosperous whaling port of Hvalrauga on the shores of the Kisiina Sea, a deadly new turn had happened as the Skaerslinger shamen were now calling forth supernatural beings of great power to slay the people and channeling the forces of nature through their bodies.

This battle was lost if not for the appearance of an Angelic Host that destroyed the Skaerslinger and hauled away the demonic creatures in chains. This was done as the people of the town were driven into the storm charged surf on the shore in a small grotto, by the enemy. After the town’s remaining people were saved, the last angel, a magnificent Herald gave a proclamation to all who witnessed:

People of God!
You are the inheritors of This Land!
He has given over to you!
Go Forth, and bring it under dominion for His Greater Glory
Spread His Word to all that live in it.
Bring into His Fold those who accept Jesus as Lord.
This is the Lord’s will.

1246AD – The Sanaadian Order is founded by Saint Sanaa.

1251AD – The Ragnarites initiate their great crusade to conquer or destroy the Skaerslinger begins. Backed by many Jarls and permitted by Visekonge Svienn the I to be handled locally.

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1266-1269AD – The Great Cataclysm, “Den Lange Vinteren” and the Isolation Era.

Den Lange Vinteren will be the subject of the next Timeline of Akiniwazi as there is much that happens in a 2 year period.  I look forward to teasing you more with upcoming timelines on how Akiniwazi came to be the way it is!

As always the complete published timeline is being archived here.