Tag Archives: Fiction

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!

Read some Free Fiction – samples of Hell has its Demons and By the Sword’s Edge

If you would like to read some free fiction from me then the Prologue and first two chapters from Hell has its Demons are now available – see the links on the Free Fiction page, or go to the page for Hell has its Demons.

You can also read the first two chapters of By the Sword’s Edge for free as well – again check out the Free Fiction page or the page for By the Sword’s Edge.

Regular readers of this blog will also remember that I am posting early draft chapters of the second volume of Stonehearted online – the sequel to By the Sword’s Edge. You can find a link to those chapters on the Free Fiction page and also by clicking here.

 

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Review of Hell has its Demons at SFcrowsnest

Hell has its DemonsThe wonderful SFcrowsnest has published a review of my historical fantasy novel Hell has its Demons!

Here’s an excerpt from from the review:

What I enjoy most about Mark Lord’s writing is that he manages to convey a sense of period without knocking the reader over the head with detail. His settings feel authentic without being manufactured. The dialogue of his characters is perfectly readable and feels natural, as do their actions.

Click here to read the whole review. And to check out Hell has its Demons go here!

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How to Stay Motivated as a Writer

Keep calm and write it down!

I write fiction. I am not a bestselling author. My work is mostly self-published at the moment and the work I have available sells modest amounts. I write because I love writing, but also because I would like my work to be read by others and I would like to be successful. So I am probably like many other writers starting out on a career in writing. I have had some good feedback and reviews, which is nice, but I also feel that I could reach more people with my work.

How do you stay motivated when success and fulfillment as a writer seems a long way off?

I am not going to offer a secret bullet, a magic cure, but there are some strategies that you can employ to keep yourself going – which I need to keep myself going. Here’s some ideas that are working for me at the moment:

Write Every Day

This really is important, I think. Like anything – exercise, brushing your teeth etc – if you do something on a daily basis it becomes habit forming. If writing becomes something you do every day then you will keep doing no matter how you feel your career is going. You could choose a certain time of day, but it could just be squeezed in during the day in an odd moment in the same way you might check out Twitter for ten minutes!

Keep Going With Projects

What I mean here is don’t give up on stuff just because you’re having a few bad days with writing it and you think its no good. Sometimes you can be writing good stuff and its still a real struggle. You can always take the attitude (used by Neil Gaiman no less) that whatever you write is just a really rough first draft and therefore doesn’t matter – you can always go back and fix it. If there seems to be something fundamentally flawed in what you’re writing then yes maybe stop, but if you can think of a way to rewrite it so that it is what you want to write.

Multitask Writing Projects

This is something that works for me, but may not work for others and I know goes against some other writing advice out there. I know from experience that I get pretty distracted if I’m writing a novel or other long piece of writing. I am also keen to write short stories and develop that part of my career, so instead of trying to fit those in between novel-length projects, I actually write novels and short stories concurrently. I always prioritize the novel-length work, but if I have a second writing session available in a day then I will use that to do some short story writing. I find that it keeps me fresh and also gives me the satisfaction of finishing a piece of fiction every week or two, which I can then send out to editors.

Don’t Worry About Sales and Promotion or Rejection

This is the one that is really difficult to come to terms with as a newbie writer – and after nine years trying to write I still class myself as a newbie! It can feel like you put a lot of effort into writing with very little gain either financially or from praise of readers or editors. The best way to handle that I think is to remember that you are just learning still. I haven’t written a million words of fiction, but I will do one day if I keep writing every day. And I know that I will get better and that the small number of readers who like my work will start to grow and then hopefully my career will begin to grow too.

Cherish the Positive Feedback

When you’re feeling bad go back and read the good reviews or comments you have – don’t use them as an excuse to ignore criticism, but do remind yourself that you have skills and talent as a writer that you can develop and that readers enjoy. Build on that. Spread the love!

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Top Blog Posts of 2013

It’s traditional at this time of the year to take a look back – a review of the best bits if you like of 2013!

Highlights for me were getting 2 1/2 novels published – although Hell has its Demons still needs some work doing to it, plus getting a number of short stories sent off to professional magazines.

With regards to blogging, some of the most popular posts have been old ones – the one on Dante below has had over 1,000 hits and I wrote it a few years ago now. An oldie but a goodie!

So here are my top 5 blog posts of 2013:

“Midway along the journey of our life” – Great Medieval Verses (this is from Dante’s Inferno)

What did people believe in the Middle Ages, Part 1

Why George RR Martin is NOT an American Tolkien

So You Want to Draw a Dragon?

Favourite Fantasy Fiction Characters: Logen Ninefingers (aka the Bloody Nine)

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Through a Distant Mirror Darkly Now Published

Through a Distant Mirror Darkly

hrough a Distant Mirror Darkly Front CoverMy latest short story collection has now been published. Through a Distant Mirror Darkly is now available in all eBook formats and as a printed edition. The collection is dedicated to short stories with a medieval theme – some of them are straight historical fiction, while others contain an element of fantasy and the supernatural.

Buy print and eBook at: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Buy eBook at: Smashwords | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Here’s a bit more about the contents of the collection:

In “Stand and Fight” Richard Hope must overcome treachery to defend the castle of Montmal from the French. Jake, an English archer in “Chivalry” must choose between his comrades and the path of honour. In “Bird Talk” a young priest discovers the woman he loves may also be a necromancer. Frederick II, the “Stupor Mundi”, the wonder of the world, is haunted by the ghost of his dead chancellor. And in “Bisclavret” a French noblewoman discovers there is more under the skin of her English husband than she could imagine.

 

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Through a Distant Mirror Darkly – new Medieval Short Story Collection out soon!

Just wanted to update you all that I am currently working on putting together a new collection of my short stories. The title will be Through a Distant Mirror Darkly and it will collect all my short fiction set in a Medieval setting. Here’s the blurb and cover:

hrough a Distant Mirror Darkly Front CoverNot all is as it seems in this collection of dark tales from the Middle Ages.

Mark Lord, the author of By the Sword’s Edge and Hell has its Demons, weaves five Medieval short stories to excite, scare and enthral you. From the vicious struggle of the Hundred Years War, to legends of werewolves and rumours of necromancers and ghosts, to the bitter conflict of a castle under siege, the action and adventure never stop. These five fast-paced short stories will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning every page until you reach the end. In “Stand and Fight” Richard Hope must overcome treachery to defend the castle of Montmal from the French. Jake, an English archer in “Chivalry” must choose between his comrades and the path of honour. In “Bird Talk” a young priest discovers the woman he loves may also be a necromancer. Frederick II, the “Stupor Mundi”, the wonder of the world, is haunted by the ghost of his dead chancellor. And in “Bisclavret” a French noblewoman discovers there is more under the skin of her English husband than she could imagine.

I’ll post again as soon as its published.

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Naked Writer #11: Trickling

Frontispiece to chapter 12 of 1905 edition of ...
Frontispiece to chapter 12 of 1905 edition of J. Allen St. John’s The Face in the Pool, published 1905. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Only a few words since Saturday. Definitely seem to have a problem picking up the writing at the moment. I think it’s because with Dragon’s Above it is very much a blank canvas. I know where the first chapter is going to end, but that’s it.

Well I have finished the first chapter now, so that leaves the rest of the book. Rather than just wade into the next chapter, I decided I might be better motivated if I do a little bit of planning. Not a lot – just get to know something about the characters I am going to write about – or at least the main character of the next chapter. What I am trying to avoid is doing loads of outlining. Dragons Above is the short novel that I am writing to keep myself writing every day while I more thoroughly plan the next installment of Stonehearted, which as its a historical novel I need to do research on (to some extent at least).

So I have made some notes this morning and feel pretty happy that they give me some basis to keep moving forward, and what’s more I am quite excited with the ideas for the characters and setting that I came up. I don’t think they’re groundbreaking, but they’re of enough interest to me to keep writing.

First a little update on words. 109 since Saturday – that’s it!

Here’s the stuff I came up with for Dragons Above.

Dragons Above – Main Characters – their conflicts.

Snorri Halfaxe

Dwarven Gunner

Injured in dragon bombing attack

Conflicts:

  1. Wants to get back home to Throfunar to marry his betrothed, Frea
  2. Do his duty for the dwarves – but not sure as to the point of the war.
  3. Technical interest in defeating the dragoneers

After his injury he becomes obsessed in engineering and how to come up with a weapon to defeat the dragoneers bombing.

He is crippled by the attack – wheelchair and partially deaf.

He thinks Frea won’t want him. Throws his energies into weapon design.

He’s a love-smitten technie nerd.

Maximilian Defluyt

Field Marshall of the Alliance. Currently appointed field commander of the Army of the North.

Responsible for protecting the borders of the Locked Kingdom and has been charged by the Garland Council with the ultimate defeat of the Lord of Despair and his armies.

Maximilian is a famous general, who in his prime was an undefeated leader of men – during the Wars of the Hundred Cities and the War of the Intercession, he never lost a battle. Called out of retirement by an Alliance sick of defeat after defeat, Maximilian has struggled to rediscover his lost successes. He is old, and his memory is not as good as it was. He wants to rediscover his lost powers of leadership and generalship, but he knows that he can’t.

Conflicts:

  1. Against the effects of old age – he is proud and can’t let go and admit himself incapable. He is too hard on himself – he has something to offer, but the pressures of leadership are too great for him.
  2. To hold the Alliance of men, dwarves and elves together.
  3. To defeat the Hosts of Despair.
  4. To protect his son who is anxious for a field command.

Hosts of Despair

Religiously motivated, end-of-days militants who believe that the peoples of Midgard must pay for the offences to the gods with blood.

Armies consist of human, dwarves and elves who have lost hope or that are just cruel enough to love killing.

Lead by the Lord of Despair, an unseen warlock of unknown provenance – at least by his enemies. The Alliance spy services are intent on finding out more about the Lord of Despair and have attempted to capture high-ranking Host generals to question them and also to infiltrate into the Lord of Despair’s Headquarters, but without any success so far.

The Lord of Despair supplements his followers from the three main races of Midgard (humans, dwarves and elves), with other creatures – dragons and various other monsters of the northern mountains where his fastness is located. He also works in uneasy alliance with the enemies of the free people of Midgard – orcs and goblins, who now invest much of the Locked Kingdom. He sees these creatures as a punishment from the gods and sees no harm in encouraging them, although they are opposed to any alliance or control by him – as yet.

Other characters to develop later in the novel

  • Maximilian’s son
  • Lord of Despair
  • A mother character – mid-30s? Which side? What’s her role? Minding the castle/farm while her husband is at war?
  • A dragoneer
  • An orc/goblin junior war-chief

 

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New Cover Art Style – Bird Talk and Bisclavret

I have instituted a new cover style for my self-published short stories with Bird Talk and Bisclavret being the first examples. The main purposes was to make the author name (sounds horribly egotistical!) more prominent and also of a consistent style. My decision to do this was influenced by Dean Wesley Smith’s post about how self-published authors shoot themselves in the foot by not acting like a proper publisher – one example he gave was by not having a consistent author brand on covers, so this is a change I decided to make.

Hope you like the results!

 

 

And for reference here are the old covers – similar style as each other, but to my mind not as effective:

Bird Talk

 

Bisclavert

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Demon River Promotion – Free on Kindle from 2nd March to 4th March 2012

My fantasy short Demon River is now free for Kindle for three days, from 2nd March 2012 to 4th March 2012. Enjoy!

Set in a fantasy world of dark magic, Benetus, the King’s chancellor, fears the return of a rival he had thought banished from court. Benetus turns to the help of demons to rid himself of his enemy. But things are not always as they seem in the spirit world.

“Recently I had even felt the beginnings of optimism. After years of cloud and storm, the sun had broken through and I could at last bask in the success that I deserved. After all, who else now stood between me and the ear of the King?”

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