Episode IX Gossip!!!

Hello again my lovelies, just another reminder to check out my second blog Whimsical Mutterings where today we’re delving into the Top 9 Moments We Need To See In Star Wars Episode IX!!! If you couldn’t tell already, this is going to be a heck of a Star Wars year and I am HERE FOR IT!!! Hope to see you there! ❤

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A Little Star Wars Countdown

Alright my lovelies it’s 2019 and you know what that means…Star Wars Episode IX is finally nigh!!! So let’s start the year off right with a fun little fandom chat over on my second blog, Whimsical Mutterings where we’re counting down the Top 5 Canon Star Wars Novels! I’ve got some great stuff planned for that channel as we begin the countdown to December and the release of the final Skywalker film, so I hope to see you over there!!! ❤

In Defense Of Fantasy

Image From Facebook

Image From Facebook

As a fantasy writer I have come across my fair share of people who think my chosen genre is nothing but silly reused nonsense composed of the same old places, people and adventures. And in a way it is. The same archetypal characters and situations are employed, but for good reason and to great effect if done properly. But still I encounter people who sneer or scoff when I mention what genre I write, as if Fantasy is somehow a lesser art. It seems to me that for the most part, unless people write fantasy novels (in one sub-genre or another) or are natural fans, they tend to look down their noses at the people whose minds dwell in the past or atop some misty hill where the fey are dancing before their very eyes.

For example:

I have often heard that as a historical fantasy writer, my job must be very easy considering my characters/environments don’t have to conform to “real” world rules that tug and weigh down people in the “real” world. If I want the grass to be ruby-red well then my grass is ruby-red, if I want my characters to fly…then POOF they can fly without anymore explanation than my typing that they can do so. Yeah…here’s what I have to say about that: Say you have a character in both a modern-day  ordinary novel as well as one in a historical fantasy one, and say that character lives in a very desert-like dry place and you are having him/her get dressed for the day. Naturally they must put something on that will be cool enough that they will not suffer a heat stroke the moment they open the front door.  It takes all of two seconds for the modern character and writer to decide to throw on a cool cotton t-shirt because hey, t-shirts are real, they’re relatively cool and no one would question that.

But…

That same character in a h/f novel cannot just grab an old cotton shirt from the bottom of his wardrobe, that is before the author has considered and researched the following:

1) Did they have cotton clothing in the time period you are writing in?

2) If so, how did they make it and where? Is it something that can be grown and produced in the land you are writing about? Or must is be shipped from elsewhere, or is that even an option for your novel?

3) Which leads you to research the necessities of growing cotton: how much water is needed, does your dry-hot land provide that much water, what soil is best? ect. ect.

Because if your character is living in a cotton-inhospitable environment without access to trade, then they cannot possibly throw on a cotton garment. And for those who don’t think readers will notice, you might be surprised at the amount of things a fantasy reader will pick up on. They notice almost everything! If there is an inconsistency, THEY WILL SEE IT AND IT WILL BUG THE CRAP OUT OF THEM. Which may impact your future sales.

But I hear you, I hear you, what about silk, leather, muslin, wool…something else! Why don’t you just chose something else and skip all this drama? Well…it all involves the same process. Where do you get the silkworms, leather might work but it will be hot as heck, muslin is a form of cotton clothing  and puts you right back in the old problem, and wool garments –other than being hot and itchy–  of course comes from a live animal (sheep/goat/camel ect.) and that leads you to the keeping of animals in the dry-hot place.

Basically, if you build a world instead of using the provided one with all its well-known and deeply ingrained rules and limitations, you must literally build one. From the ground up. The world must make sense or it will fail. That requires time and effort to be spent outside the actual story, so that the author truly understands the place he or she is describing. Fantasy novels aren’t all wizards and fairies and such, they’re a study in plant life, science and zoology. It takes two seconds to grab a cotton t-shirt, but hours and days to study how that shirt came into existence.

Think about it the next time you scoff at a fantasy novel, or tell the author what they do is easy. Think about it the next time you go to grab a shirt; take a moment to feel the texture of the material between your fingers and thank the lucky stars that you don’t HAVE to know anything other than it fits. And even that’s optional nowadays.

Originally published in September 2012.

A Wizard Is Never Late

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Sometimes there is nothing more inspiring than spending a day in another’s world. As a writer, I appreciate the beauty of a well-crafted world and I always enjoy visiting the greats! The family and I are having an Extended Edition Lord Of The Rings day today (which we do often), so for the next 12-13 hours my home will be in Middle-Earth in the company of Gandalf, Aragorn, Arwen, Gimli, Merry, Pippin, Frodo, and Sam.
These are some of my favorite people to visit as they never fail to inspire and I always leave them filled with hope and the desire for grand adventures!
What about you my lovelies, do you enjoy the Lord of the Rings? Do you have a favorite character or sceen? What are your favorite worlds to visit? Let me know!

Fooled you didn’t I?! It’s Called World-Building

Well I certainly did not plan on being away for that long (sheepish grin). I imagine you all were beginning to lose hope, but hold fast dear friends, for I have returned! For some reason — that I am oh so thankful for —  I got into a writing zone and was having a deliriously happy time writing my novel, though I did feel somewhat neglectful of my blog (I just miss you all so much when I’m gone).

So…hmm today’s topic, let’s think…what should I rant/give advice on today. I think it would be both wise and practical to build on the last blog ( the intricacies of fantasy writing, research etc), and discuss that oh-so-important thing called WORLD-BUILDING. We touched on that before but now lets delve a little deeper shall we.

First of all, consistency is an essential element of world-building in a novel, so early on it is important to take notes, pages and pages of notes if need be. This sounds very basic I know, but it’s surprising how often people think they will remember tiny important details because “their brain knows this is important and must be remembered”. Yeah, that doesn’t tend to work well in the long run. If you think of something like the name of a character or a town or the reason why your character has wings growing out of his feet or something WRITE IT DOWN IMMEDIATELY. Notes are invaluable in the long run, you may mention something or someone once and then  not mention them again for a hundred pages or two and by that time all the information you had may just be lost inside your mind. Notes allow writers a quick and easy way to access forgotten information which allows them to stay consistent with their previous statements. If a character has brown hair and green eyes at the beginning of the story it’s annoying to a reader to suddenly read about black hair and blue eyes (unless something drastic has happened of course and it has been properly explained). If a character is seventeen at the start of a novel and has yet to have another birthday in the course of it, they should not be twenty at the end. Consistency seems so simple, so effortless but it is one of the easiest ways to destroy your work and your reader’s patience with you.

I am guilty of not writing things down at once too, and trust me, it’s nothing but aggravation when you can’t remember something brilliant you had just thought of the day before, or an hour ago, for five minutes ago before some random song got stuck in your head or your brain just randomly switched to…and there it is, it’s that easy to lose your sentence (or whatever it was).

Also, world-building in fantasy/sci-fi/ ect novels is nothing if not details. A world and its existing societies have to be believable as well as relatable however different they are from our own. Get the reader’s attention with the “whys” and “hows”, get their sympathy but don’t bore them to tears with twenty pages on what trees grow where or why the ruling class thinks poorly of the peasants. There is a fine line between not enough information and too much. The details you give a reader need to have a purpose in the plot, they need to make you feel something for a character or a place or give you that nagging suspicion that something might be upsetting the order later on. Explain why your characters are so beat down and ragged, or why the ground is inhospitable to life-giving crops; give something for readers to cheer for, to hate, to understand. The smallest detail can impact the entirety of a novel. (And besides the more details you have about the running of your world or character, the easier it is to write them!) Give your readers something to grasp onto. Readers need to be involved in the reading process, they need just enough information that they feel as though they are contributing to the story in someway, or are at least a part of it. Engage them, dazzle them , leave them guessing but also leave them hope. Details are the only hope readers have, they are the only thing to base possible idea’s  and conclusions off of.

There is much much more involved in the world-building process of writing but I do believe I will save that up for another blog and another time (just to keep you on your toes)! So don’t be afraid to experiment with new and different writing idea’s, but always remember to stay consistent in your own world and the more details you have the easier it is to write because you’ll understand the all important “whys” and “hows”! I would add something witty or sarcastic here to mark the end of this rant/blog, but to be quite honest, I can’t think of anything!

Fantastical Fantasy and the Utterly Clueless…

As a fantasy writer I have come across my fair share of people who think my chosen genre is nothing but silly reused nonsense comprised of the same old places, people and adventures. And in a way it is. The same archetypal characters and situations are employed, but for good reason and to great effect if done properly, but more on that in another blog I think. Overall, unless people write fantasy novels (in one sub-genre or another) or are natural fans, they tend to look down their noses at the people whose minds dwell in the past atop some misty hill where the fey are dancing before their very eyes.

For example:

I have often heard that as a historical fantasy writer, my job must be very easy considering my characters/environments don’t have to conform to “real” world rules that tug and weigh down people in the “real” world. If I want the grass to be ruby-red well then my grass is ruby-red, if I want my characters to fly…then POOF they can fly without anymore explanation than my typing that they can do so. Yeah…here’s what I have to say about that: Say you have a character in both a modern-day  ordinary novel as well as one in a historical fantasy one, and say that character lives in a very desert-like dry place and you are having him/her get dressed for the day. Naturally he/she must put something on that will be cool enough that she/he will not suffer a heat stroke the moment she/he opens the front door.  It takes all of two seconds for the modern character and writer to decide to throw on a cool cotton t-shirt because hey, t-shirts are real, they’re relatively cool and no one would question that.

But…

That same character in a h/f novel cannot just grab an old cotton shirt from the bottom of his wardrobe, that is before the author has considered and researched the following:

1) Did they have cotton clothing in the time period you are writing in?

2) If so, how did they make it and where? Is it something that can be grown and produced in the land you are writing about? Or must is be shipped from elsewhere, or is that even an option for your novel?

3) Which leads you to research the necessities of growing cotton: how much water is needed, does your dry-hot land provide that much water, what soil is best? ect. ect.

Because if your character is living in a cotton-inhospitable environment without access to trade, then they cannot possibly throw on a cotton garment. And for those who don’t think readers will notice, you might be surprised at the amount of things a fantasy reader will pick up on. They notice almost everything! If there is an inconsistency, THEY WILL SEE IT AND IT WILL BUG THE CRAP OUT OF THEM. Which may impact your future sales.

But I hear you, I hear you, what about silk, leather, muslin, wool…something else! Why don’t you just chose something else and skip all this drama? Well…it all involves the same process. Where do you get the silkworms, leather might work but it will be hot as heck, muslin is a form of cotton clothing  and puts you right back in the old problem, and wool garments –other than being hot and itchy–  of course comes from a live animal (sheep/goat/camel ect.) and that leads you to the keeping of animals in the dry-hot place.

Basically, if you build a world instead of using the provided one with all its well-known and deeply ingrained rules and limitations, you must literally build one. From the ground up. The world must make sense or it will fail. That requires time and effort to be spent outside the actual story, so that the author truly understands the place he or she is describing. Fantasy novels aren’t all wizards and fairies and such, they’re a study in plant life, science and zoology. It takes two seconds to grab a cotton t-shirt, but hours and days to study how that shirt came into existence.

Think about it the next time you scoff at a fantasy novel, or tell the author what they do is easy. Think about it the next time you go to grab a shirt; take a moment to feel the texture of the material between your fingers and thank the lucky stars that you don’t HAVE to know anything other than it fits. And even that’s optional nowadays.