Publication Plans

Things have been a bit quiet from me recently so I thought I’d let you know what I am currently working on at the moment. Firstly as you may know I’m the editor of Alt Hist – the 10th issue of this magazine is being edited at the moment and I’m aiming to publish in February or March.

Also I am editing the second volume of Stonehearted. The first volume, By the Sword’s Edge, started off the story of two young adults – Richard and Eolande and the Hundred Years War. I think that will be available early in March.

There are other things that I need to edit and get out there as well – but won’t promise any more yet!

Writing-wise I am currently about half way through a short story/novella set in an Oldhammer inspired world – a bit like Warhammer, but without any actual Warhammer content, to avoid copyright infringement 🙂

I’m having quite a lot of fun with that – I don’t usually write humour, but the Oldhammer theme required it, so have given it a go – get ready for some bad puns!

What is Oldhammer you may ask – that’s probably the subject for another post, but until then let’s just say its for those who liked Warhammer pre 1992!

Eowyn Miniature Painted

So another miniature from Hobbit Strategy Battle Game that I painted fairly recently – this time Eowyn. She is also doubling as an Elven magic user from the D&D game I play with my son and at his request her dress is white to tie in with the D&D character – otherwise I tend to be a bit boring and try to copy whatever I see in the official Hobbit or LOTR rule books!

Eowyn - white dress front
Eowyn – white dress front

I tried proper layering for this one – so the white dress starts off with a brown base and then gets built up – up close in the photos you can see the nuts and bolts of this quite clearly but from more of a distance this looks better I think.

Eowyn white dress back
Eowyn white dress back

Boromir Miniature Painted

I have started getting back into miniature games over the last couple of years – inparticular old Warhammer stuff (now known as Oldhammer for Grognards like me!) and Hobbit or Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, which is a skirmish level miniatures game also by Games Workshop. I’ve had some great fun playing that game with my son and also doing a bit of painting. Here’s a recent figure that I’m quite proud of: Boromir! 

Boromir miniature painted by Mark Lord
Boromir miniature painted by Mark Lord

I think I probably need to work on the photography a bit – this is just using some card a smartphone and some lamps – but hopefully you can see it ok!

Creating Fantasy Languages – my own attempts

In my last post on this blog I wrote about the difficulties of finding a suitable language for an Elvish culture and the pitfalls of copyright infringement. There was some good comments on a Facebook group I belong about the pros and cons of that and also in the comments section of the blog post as well.

So I thought some readers might be interested in how I have approached constructing fantasy languages or conlangs in the past.

The largest bit of world-building is to create a world called Ladmas and a continent called Neriador. This has gone through a few incarnations and in one form or another has provided the setting for my novel The Return of the Free, and also the short stories, Two Lives for the Sea God, Demon River and Forged in Blood.

Here’s a map of the latest version of the world – the place names have been created using the languages I created.

ladmas-currentI’ll just give details of one of the main languages for now and maybe post about some of the others in the future. The dominant culture of the continent is the Lurar.

Lurar Language background

Used in the countries around Sea of Akdeniz

Source of true Lurar language hotly disputed – each nation exhibits a variation on the language – spelling and pronunciation, but most cosmopolitan natives can understand other foreigners – backwoods would have more impenetrable accents though.

Language is fairly flexible and allows for complexity of meaning and subtleties – as benefits a language well used for trade, diplomacy, politics, thought and bureaucracy. However, also fairly static as developed early – resistance in some quarters to innovations. Some nations more open to outside influence – so Nukush has the tribal influence of the desert for instance.

Ironically the most pure form of Lurar is found in the 100 princes where due to the excessive degree of legalism, diplomatic treaty writing and cultural exchange the language has remained stable – also the common exile of different political parties to other countries has meant that this form of the language has often been exported. Freedom of thought – philosophy, poetry and drama has also been popular in the 100 princes so culturally the rest of the Lurar-speaking countries tend to follow their lead.

Lurar Vocabulary

I created a word list for basic things in Lurar, so for example:

cat gres
cattle mersh
charm beryok
chief meith
child shuiv
citizen konsh
city kon

And then used that to create place and personal names:

Lurar Place Names (just a few examples):

Name Meaning Notes
Luranivs People of beauty An original tribal name from 100 princes area
Arumlu Mountain land Country to north of Bachyanrik in mountains
Phaengep Meat market City name
Narkon Camp city City name
Lepakon City on the Lepad river City name
Turedkon Factory city City name
Vrekon Faith city City name

Lurar Personal Names (just a few examples):

Name Gender Meaning
Eut Male True
Euta Female True
Kainek Male Dedicated to Kainopeon
Aeva Female derived from star
Drol Male derived from servant
Drola Female derived from servant

Conclusion

Although I could have delved much deeper into creating a language, I think the process of creating a vocabulary that seems consistent gives the language a uniqueness and also something that seems like it could be real.

Using Elvish Languages in Fantasy Fiction

Elves as portrayed in the 1977 Rankin-Bass ver...
Elves as portrayed in the 1977 Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So if you want to include Elves in a work of Fantasy fiction that should be pretty simple right? I mean everyone knows how Elves speak – what kind of names they have etc – Elrond, Legolas, Galadriel – they all sound suitably, well, Elvish.

That’s the position I was in recently when contemplating writing a fantasy work including Elves, Dwarfs etc – the standard fantasy tropes – but with a twist of course. So wanting to be fairly thorough about my world building I decided I would need a naming system for people and places – a constructed language effectively. And therefore following on from that I naturally thought I should take a look at Quenya – the main Elvish language created by Tolkien – surely I could just use that as a basis and make up some cool and realistic sounding Elvish names.

But having read part of an online Quenya course (which is very good by the way and fascinating in itself), I realised that it wasn’t so simple. The author of the course includes a lengthy section on copyright, the main aim of which is to defend the right of people to publish courses such as his and also their own works in Quenya – not for profit even seems to be a bit controversial. The author of the course made the point that any commercial fictional work that used Quenya to create a naming system and language would effectively be in breach of Tolkien’s copyright.

That stopped me in my tracks – I hadn’t even considered that. So I looked into it a bit more – did other fantasy works with Elves really have their own unique languages. The main works are actually games – D&D and Warhammer – they both have their own languages – Elven and Eltharin respectively – although I suspect both are fairly superficial in nature. I looked a bit further and found that fictional works also had their own languages – for instance the Elvish language of Gael Baudino‘s Strands series is based on the Romance languages, and the Elvish languages of Andrzej Sapkowski‘s The Witcher saga, are apparently based on Welsh, Irish, French and English.

So it seems other authors and creators of Elvish cultures have also endeavoured to steer clear of using Quenya – a shame in a way as Tolkien created such a rich language – no one could do something more comprehensive I suspect for a race that doesn’t exist, but also you could also say it would be great to write fiction in Tolkien’s world, which also would be derivative and remain in the sphere of fan fiction.

So where does that leave my Elvish setting? Looking at creating a new language I suppose – and probably digging out a Conglang book such as the Language Construction Kit. However, I’m still planning on learning more about Quenya for the inspiration and also to make anything I create myself a bit richer.

Brexit Fifteenth Century Style

The last time England withdrew in a big way from the continent of Europe – there was a Civil War!

English: Illustration of the Battle of Barnet ...
English: Illustration of the Battle of Barnet (14 April 1471) on the Ghent manuscript, a late 15th-century document Haigh, Phillip (1995). The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses, Hardcover, Cover sleeve, Sutton Publishing, United Kingdom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What am I talking about? Well England’s defeat in the Hundred Year’s War lead pretty much directly to the Wars of Roses. With the UK now split almost evenly on the issue is there a danger of strong divisions appearing again in our society? There are strong emotions on both sides–anger at the result of the referendum and fear of uncertainty over what will happen next? These are dangerous times I feel – we’ve had for the first time popular leaders in the UK stirring up tensions. What’s next? It feels like we’ve taken a massive step back in terms of tolerance and a rational approach to politics and society.

EU Ref MapLooking at a map of the referendum results – you can see how further resentment and division will bubble along in the future – the richest city in the UK, London, voted overwhelmingly to leave – but will now suffer because of the economic downturn. Whereas Scotland and even Northern Ireland may leave the union together over this. This is a new civil war – fought through the media, ballot box and via words, rather than with swords and arrows – but it feels like a war nevertheless.

Writing 1000 words of Fiction in 30 Minutes – is it Possible?

Bigger, Better, Faster, More!
Bigger, Better, Faster, More! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes it is! I usually get about 30 minutes a day at the moment only to do writing. Usually that means that I get into the mindset that probably I can only do about 500 words or a bit more if I’m trying – because as we all know a 1000 words takes an hour doesn’t it?

But ideally I’d like to be writing the writer’s goal of 1000 words a day. So what to do about it? Find an extra 30 minutes – possible, but I’d have to sacrifice time spent doing other things, which I don’t want to – I need some time at the moment to do editing and other projects.

So instead the other day I challenged myself to try to do 1000 words in my allotted 30 minute time. And guess what? It happened. I had to change the way I worked a bit, but I don’t think any of it what detrimental to the quality of the writing. Here’s a few tips on how to achieve 1000 words of fiction in 30 minutes:

  1. I found it helpful to know what I was going to write about – I’d already spent time outlining the chapter I was working on. But even if you’re a pantser I think you could still do it.
  2. Instead of pausing to gaze into the distance occasionally before writing the next sentence – commonly known as getting inspiration – just keep thumping the keys – you don’t have time to waste.
  3. Think of it as a deadline – you have to get the story in before the paper goes to press – that kind of thing. It’s amazing how having a set time and a goal motivates you.
  4. Remember that’s its possible. In fact I am sure that its possible to write even more than 1000 words in 30 minutes.
  5. Think about how satisfying it will be to get your 1000 words done so quickly and how that will enable you to do other things – maybe that’s to write 2000 words in an hour or to spend time editing and outlining – things I always find it hard to do if I’ve set myself the goals of 1000 words in a day.

Good luck – and let me know how many words you can write!

Book Review: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Aftermath by Chuck Wendig coverAftermath by Chuck Wendig

ebook, 418 pages
Published September 4th 2015 by Del Rey
ISBN: 080417766X
(ISBN13: 9780804177665)

 

 

 

Star Wars novelizations can be good, bad and indifferent. I recently read again the novel for Return of the Jedi and tried to read Force Awakens with my son—Return of the Jedi was acceptable, but pretty much word for word the same as the film, whereas Force Awakens was such a chore we gave up and bought the junior version instead—Alan Dean Foster seems to specialize in verbosity as an art-form, and succeeded in making an exciting, fast-paced film, dull.

Aftermath by Chuck Wendig definitely falls into the good category. I’ll preface this review by flagging that I didn’t read it, but rather listened to an audio version. This had the benefit of some great voice acting and also music and sound effects which added a lot to the atmosphere. However, the strength of the writing still shone through the slick audio production.

The book is set in the aftermath of the destruction of the second death star—so preceeds the action of Force Awakens by a number of years. What happened after Return of the Jedi and the death of Vader and the Emperor? Did the Empire just fold? You might expect so given the loss of its figurehead. But no, the Empire fought on against the Rebellion—or New Republic as its now known. Doubles of the Emperor masquerade as Palpatine and there is a denial that the Emperor is dead. Mon Mothma is the new chancellor of the Republic and seeks to bring peace to the galaxy, while Admiral Ackbar leads the mop-up of Imperial forces. That’s the general setting. Aftermath focuses on one planetary system: Akiva. This system is still under control of the Imperials and has been chosen as the location for a meeting between a number of senior Imperial figures—including Admiral Rae Sloane, who is one of the main view-point characters. The story also follows Wedge Antilles, who is on a mission to Akiva, and also a rebel pilot, Norra Wexley, who comes from that planet, and is returning to find her son now that the war is coming to a close. Also involved are a Zabrak bounty hunter and a former Imperial loyalty officer, who escaped the defeat on Endor.

There is a good balance of rebel, neutral and imperial characters—which stops it being just a good against evil conflict—and also enables the storylines to overlap in interesting ways. Although, in the classic tradition of Star Wars there is plenty of excitement too and action, as well as dose of humour to go along with it. I particularly liked the Battle Droid gone rogue—which was brilliantly voice-acted in the audio version.

I enjoyed and would recommend Aftermath to anyone who loves Star Wars. I enjoyed the characters and the story, although its perhaps lacks the epic scale of the big Star Wars films—action only on one planet for instance, the book is fast paced and what is lacking from some other star wars novelizations, is definitely fun.

If you would like to order a copy and also support my blog, then please use one of the links below to order your copy.

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

 

Field of Glory Digital Army Generator Tutorial

I have created a new tutorial for the Field of Glory game – this time looking at how to choose an army using the Digital Army Generator.

Also experimented using a narration for the first time with a microphone – a bit easier than I thought it would be – although I realised that sometimes a bit of a script or practice run would have helped!