Category Archives: Mark Lord’s Writing

Oldhammer Fiction Update and the History of the World

As mentioned previously I have been working on a short story named Holiday in Orkrania, that was an attempt at an Oldhammer themed piece of fiction – but without an official Warhammer setting.

This was going well, but unfortunately came unstuck a bit! Partly

because I hadn’t done enough world building and character development – one of my faults sometimes as a writer is that I get too enthusiastic and just plunge into things. So I have shelved the current story. However, I may come back to it and steal some ideas from it – for instance the character Arthur Shibly (nod to Peaky Blinders) is one I enjoyed writing, and I think there’s more mileage in the exiled Orc cheiftan, Grim Bearit. But first I want to invest a bit more into the world building – enough so that it’s recognizably Oldhammer in style, but also distinct from Warhammer’s Old World setting.

So where best to start than at the very beginning – with how the world came into being. Here’s my first draft of the world’s creation myth – I don’t even know what it’s called yet – this is definitely a rough draft/WIP.

One day the creator of all things was playing. He rolled together some clay between thumb and finger and began creating worlds. Most round so that they could happily roll

Ball with Cypro-Minoan 1 inscription. Clay, La...
Ball with Cypro-Minoan 1 inscription. Clay, Late Bronze (1600–1050 BC). From Enkomi, north-western Cyprus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

around in space, some he sat on by mistake and became flat and physically impossible, but humorously wonderful, so he kept those as well. After a long day making the stars, planets and other paraphernalia of a universe, the Creator was done creating. But one of the planets he was not happy with. It was over big and there were to many bits dangling off it. Looking more closely he realised that already even in a blink of his eye, many millennia had gone past on the world already and it had developed a character and lore all of its own. The inhabitants even thought that they had their own gods and had made myths about their creation—beings from space and evil gods that brought chaos to their world.

The creator laughed. For there was no chaos, only the order of his will. Pity the mortals who did not understand this, but nevertheless it was true.

Looking more closely he was amused at the workings of the world. There many different creatures had evolved. They fought against each other, but there was humour and silliness there as well—and dare he even think it—fun! That made him pleased. It was even as if some other creators had shaped the workings of the world. But he knew that was impossible—he was the only Creator! He watched further, slowing down his own perceptions so that he could watch the goings on more carefully—for centuries he watched. He laughed and wondered at the titanic struggles, the daft names of the characters involved and their oh too fallible morality. But slowly, imperceptibly he noticed a change. The struggles on the world became more serious, more titanic. Winning at all costs was all that mattered to the protagonists who were like automatons set on achieving a result no matter the way it was played. He became bored. But then he remembered.

I am the Creator.

So he took hold of the world and putting it to his mouth he sucked out the fun of it and then blew that into a mold of another world that he had lying around baked from the very clay of the universe. And he created a new world. What happened to the old world he cared not any longer. The new world was his only concern.

The inhabitants of the new world were of similar races to the old world, but they never seemed to be able to take their lives too seriously. They were vain and proud, but fallible too—prone to error and ridiculousness. And the Creator was very happy.

The people of the world knew not their real origin, but they had some inkling of it—deep within them they knew that they were special and they made it their desire not to “spoil things” as they put it.

They told themselves that the world was the last created by the Creator because he had spent the most time on it and that they were held in special regard by him. All races, whether good or barbarous held the Creator in respect and deferred to him. He had after all made them. But they did not build temples to him or worship him—yet he was always in their minds and they hoped not to displease him. Whatever befell them was the system made by the Creator—whether sun, rain, famine or plenty.

They knew that the Creator was the source of certain special things in the world. His breath itself had given life to the world and breathed it full of magic. The breath of life and magic was everywhere and in some places and individuals it rose to the surface. The Creator’s children were those born from father, mother and the spirit of the Creator—and they were honoured by their societies.

The Creator had no wish to control any events on the world—he simply liked to watch. And like any voyeur he found it more interesting if there was conflict in the world. So he did not mind at all if those blessed with magic used their gifts for good or ill. Some set themselves up as demi-gods, and where their doings amused him he let them live as if immortal. And when he grew bored of them they would lose their immortality and die, or be mysteriously encased in ice, lava, mud or stone—put away for another day.

Some weaker peoples worshipped these demi-gods—although worship of them was fleeting. Always the Creator was the one that was in charge—above everything.

So uninhibited by unfounded beliefs and multitudes of false gods, progress thrived and the world changed. And again the Creator became ignored—this was not how he had wished the world to be—he did not want to see horseless carriages and flying machines—or long distance calls without the assistance of magic! So he created the forces of entropy—a freezing presence that spread from the poles of the world to slow down the rate of change and turn things back if necessary. Entropy was followed by those amongst the peoples as well and became the cause of some jolly good fights too!

Progress on February Publication Plans

My aim for February was to get two titles published – Alt Hist Issue 10 and the second volume of Stonehearted, By Fire and Sword. I managed to knuckle down and get Alt Hist Issue 10 finished in February – not formally announced yet on the Alt Hist website as I am still waiting for Smashwords to approve it and send the files to Barnes & Noble and itunes – they seem much slower this time round at doing that so maybe I will have to chase them soon – that would normally happen within a few days, but its been a week so far. Once that’s done, I can close the lid on Alt Hist – I am actually going to cease publication of it as its simply taking too much of my compared to my own writing.

As a case in point, I didn’t manage to complete my second publication task of February, which was the publication of By Fire and Sword. I have done some of the editing, but don’t have a cover yet. However, I did do the blurb today, so at least that’s done. For some reason I always find the blurb one of the most difficult parts of publishing my own work—odd when I have a marketing background! Perhaps its something to do with finding it hard to separate the writing and promotion sides?

Here it is anyway:

The year is 1370. The English have again brought fire and sword to the country of France. An army devastates the country on its march south to Paris, hungry for loot and glory. But redemption is what Richard Stone seeks—having  run away from home after a family tragedy for which he is responsible. The French resist as best they can—but to stand and fight the English they learn is a fools game.

Eolande, neighbour of Richard’s, has also left home—in search of the father that was captured years ago and never returned. But even Calais the bastion of the English in France, is not welcoming to her.

By Fire and Sword is the second volume of Stonehearted.

Hopefully this should see the light in the middle of March.

Writing

I have been making steady, but slow progress on my Oldhammer short story—Holiday in Orkrania – I have managed to write most days of the working week, which is good, but at about 2,000 words a week that still feels quite slow, and although I am about 60% done, I am at the stage where I am starting to lose a little bit of interest in the project and thinking about other things. I have been trying a few tactics to overcome that—one being updating my blog and writing the blurb for By Fire and Sword—so working on other things—and the other to plan out the next fight scene in Orkrania using a simple map—I actually need to do this as I don’t have a clear picture in my mind of where the rooms in a building are and who is where—so I hope that will make the next part of the narrative go more smoothly.

As for plans for March? That would be a separate post, but will have to be adjusted to take into account the slippage of By Fire and Sword. But hey—publishing schedules always slip don’t they?

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!

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.

Star Wars Fan Fiction Experiment

One of the joys and hassles of writing speculative fiction is the world-building involved. I found that out recently when I started writing a new Science Fiction book. I’m at the stage in my writing at the moment where I just need to get on write and improve my storytelling skills (I think anyway) rather than focus on world-building, so that part of things can hold me back. So I had a think about Fan Fiction – as long as its not for profit then its allowed. So I thought I’d give it a go.

You can see my first effort and follow along with it as it progresses here at Wattpad. The story is called Into the Heart of the Empire. I don’t know what’s going to happen yet, so I’ll have as much fun as you will discovering the story too!

Here’s the start of it:

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away …

Following the Battle of Yavin and the destruction of the Death Star, a new hope has been kindled in the universe. The Evil Empire is not all powerful. The Rebel Alliance has shown that it is possible to stand up for freedom and against oppression. Across the galaxy there are stirrings of resistance to the Empire.

Even in the heart of the Empire’s industrial infrastructure there is unease and a willingness to question the word of the Emperor and his forces of oppression. One such place is the Imperial dockyard on Malykan, a system of the Inner Rim.

The ship shuddered as it came out of hyperspace. The battle damage it had sustained made handling difficult and it felt like at any moment the drives might fail.

Jana Yaku could think of simpler ways to die than taking on the mission the Rebel Alliance had assigned her. To be fair to them, she had volunteered and she was the only pilot (she thought) that could pull this off. But still … she regretted her decision now.

The mechs on Yavin had patched up the ship has best they could. The whole point was that it was supposed to be battle-damaged—that was her cover story, but Jana wished that the Rebels who’d knocked this ship out hadn’t been quite as thorough in their work. That’s ironic, as it was her, in a Y-Wing bomber who’d disabled the Imperial Reaper class Escort frigate. Two proton torpedoes had ripped large holes in the frigate—one just forward of the engines and one taking out the Frigate’s bridge. Twisted metal and plastiglass had been bent and welded back into shape by the Engineers on Yavin, but where Jana sat on the bridge was still an uncomfortable and unnatural place to be.

“Reaper-class Frigate, The Ravager, please acknowledge.”

She sighed. She knew it wouldn’t be long until she got a challenge from the Imperial Navy. After all Malkyan had to be one of the most intensely militaries parts of the Inner Rim, given the Imperials built a large number of ships and weapons there.

Jake Savage and the Field of Battle – New Flash Fiction

The field between the manor and the church had once held a crop of wheat, but all the yellow stalks were bent and trampled destined never to become bread. Instead they were weighed down by the bodies of the dead, the blood of French and English soldiers blending to blacken the crop and the soil.

Jake grasped a handful of wheat stalks and tried to pull himself to a sitting position. But he couldn’t. There was a weight on his stomach and legs. He levered himself on his elbows and regarded the obstruction—the heavily armoured corpse of a French knight was sprawled over him. With a jerk of his knees Jake was able to shift the armoured corpse enough to move it. The body rolled away. Jake didn’t want to look, but he couldn’t help seeing the face of the Frenchman—he’d worn an open bascinet, no visor to protect his face and he’d been paid back for his recklessness. The knight’s face was opened from top to bottom by a knife that had been jammed in there and twisted so hard that the face’s features were distorted like a lump of dough that had been kneaded by a baker.

And then Jake remembered that it had been his knife and that he had done the kneading. He felt his head. It was sore and tender. Someone must have hit him. But not hard enough. He had been lucky, unlike this knight he’d killed. If he’d been a knight and able to afford a bascinet with a visor, he’d have bought one. No matter what if you could get so terribly injured like this knight. But for an archer like him the cost was beyond his reach and besides the visor would get in way when drawing the bow.

Without the weight of the Frenchman on him he was able to stand. He did so and looked around. He wondered where the rest of the retinue were. He couldn’t see anyone around apart from the field littered with bodies.

That was Ralph de Chester there he realised—the decapitated head of his ventenar stared up at him. Poor Ralph, he’d not been a bad leader to the archers. And near him lay more in the colours of ??, Old Cob, John the Snake, Hugh, Richard. On and on the names came to Jake’s mind. He stalked across the field, using his sword to prod at the bodies and turn them if he couldn’t see their faces. They were all there. Even Sir Robert himself and his son, the young Robert. They were all dead. The whole retinue.

He was the only one living out of all of them. The French must have won. Jake went back to each body looking for signs in life, in case like him some of them had only knocked been knocked cold by a blow to the head. But no, the wounds were ghastly and all mortal—deep cuts from swords axes or skulls smashed by hammers and maces.

The fighting had been bloody, brutal, fast and violent when the two forces met. Jake thought that neither had known of the other in the vicinity until each one came across from the opposite side of the field—the English from the church side and the French from the manor.

There had been about forty of the French—and the English had numbered thirty two. Jake counted the bodies. He was careful not to count any twice. Sixty five. Could there have been any survivors apart from him?

He shuddered. The day was darkening. The sun had sunk behind the clouds over a wood in the West while he had been counting. Long shadows of the trees lurched across the field and Jake imagined that the spectres of the dead were getting up to walk—to leave their bodies in the night.

And who would they haunt? Who else would they pursue, but him, the only one who survived the encounter of the bloody field?

Jake turned and ran.

Fast.

January Sale

I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. As it’s January, the time of sales, I’m offering discounts on 5 of my books. All of them have been cut to $0.99/£0.99/€0.99 or equivalent. I hope you’ll find something that you’ll like.

Hell has its Demons
$7.99 cut to $0.99
Buy Now

Tales of Magic and Mayhem
$4.99 cut to $0.99
Buy Now

The Return of the Free
$4.99 cut to $0.99
Buy Now

Through a Distant Mirror Darkly
$4.99 cut to $0.99
Buy Now

By the Sword’s Edge
$3.99 cut to $0.99
Buy Now

The Dragon of Borvoli – new Historical Fantasy Short Story Published

The Dragon of Borvoli coverI’m really excited to tell you about a new short story that I have just published as an eBook on Kindle.

The Dragon of Borvoli is all about a young boy who’s the only inhabitant of his village to fight the ‘dragon’ that has been terrorising his village. The story is set in a Dark Ages world – probably something similar to Cornwall – St Michael’s Mount certainly features for instance, but the setting isn’t very specific. What I was going for was more the atmosphere of the Dark Ages where belief in monsters – think Beowulf – was still strong.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

It takes a lot of bravery to fight a dragon. So imagine how brave the nine year old Boult is when he takes his father’s sword and enters the barrow near his home where tales say the dragon lives—the dragon that has been terrorising their village.

Yet not all is as it seems in this atmospheric historical fantasy short story. Boult meets Gustinus, a Christian priest, who promises to help him in his quest to slay the dragon. But Boult discovers that men can be worse monsters than creatures of legend.

Its currently available for just £0.99/$0.99 or 0.99 Euros from Amazon:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de

I hope you like it – let me know what you think!

Death on the Lips – Available now as an Ebook for $0.99 or £0.99

Great value you must agree – 10,000 words of Roger Sotil and Jake Savage mystery and adventure for the bargain price of $0.99 and £0.99.

Currently the story is just available as an eBook via Amazon – I have plans to post to other online retailers in the future and will also produce a printed version as well – but for now I hope you enjoy the Kindle version. If you love other stories featuring Roger and Jake – Hell has its Demons, Chivalry, The King of Britain’s Head – I’m sure you’ll love this one.

Order from Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk and all the other Amazon online bookstores around the world.

Here’s some more details.

Death on the Lips

Beauty red lips and pale face
Beauty red lips and pale face

Death on the Lips is a Sotil and Savage Mystery—a novella length story set in an England of the Fourteenth Century where magic works and demons are real.

The Countess of Suffolk lies dead in her own bedchamber. Her body has been horribly mutilated. Clearly a case of a demon attack according to her chamberlain. The alchemist she retained has fled the house—and surely he must be to blame? But when Jake finds a pot of lip paint and a tally stick other possibilities emerge. It’s another case for Roger Sotil and Jake Savage, Inquisitors of Sorcery to the court of Richard II. And as usual things are not as they appear.

Roger Sotil and Jake Savage also appear in a novel length story: Hell has its Demons—an exciting medieval fantasy thriller.

Death on the Lips is currently available exclusively as an eBook at Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk and all the other Amazon online bookstores around the world.

A new short story set in the First World War – Smithers Hits a Six

At long last I have a new story out – seems like ages! Hopefully won’t be too long until the next one though – so stay tuned for more!

This one is something different for me – a short story set in the First World War – something I haven’t written about before, but I would like to again. Smithers will fly again!

Lieutenant John Smith was not a gentleman in the opinion of the pilots of 32 Squadron. He hadn’t attended public school and he was dashedly bad at cricket. To top that his own Captain, Thomas Albright-Parker, looked forward to the day when Smith’s flying career would be ended by the Hun.

Sopwith F-1 CamelBut Lieutenant Smith, or “Smithers”, was going to prove his doubters wrong when his Flight went on patrol that day.

Smithers Hits a Six is an anti-Biggles story for the modern reader. This is the tale of an officer not from a working class background and without the natural talented of Biggles. Like many real pilots he survives more on luck than judgement in the dangerous skies of the Western Front.

Order the eBook from Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

I hope you like the book.