Fine Art(ist)

A friend of mine does really great paintings of predominantly fantasy-related works. A lot of the stuff at her website http://www.navate.com is of original characters she is working on; and some is stuff she has worked on professionally for other writers and just other stuff in a really excellent and cool and dark portfolio.

I highly recommend checking her stuff out.

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Writing Fiction

In my last post, Things Remembered Before Death, I had posted a brief short story set in a fictional world that I am creating. I made a slight tweak, my editor from http://www.unnecessarywords.com suggested that the people from Wingard, known as Wingardians, might sound to similar to a Harry Potter spell. This was something that was bothering my but I figured as it was different and Harry Potter isn’t very popular, I could just leave it and no one else would make the connection. Well she did, so I changed their ethnic group’s name to Wingardish. They are somewhat analogous to Scots or Picts and so others on their large Greenland sized island also end in -ish. It seems like a good change. Please leave me feedback so I know if I am doing alright, or not so alright.

Thanks,

Fenris

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Things Remembered Before Death

The captain, a mac Cargan, was shouting again. Something about how every Wingard man was worth five Tambrians. Urian laughed to himself quietly. They were standing on the lines, nearly five hundred Wingard footmen and fifty Wingard horse against about six hundred foot and thirty horse from Tambria to the east. Urian mac Callen was not a soldier; he was a cowherd. His older brother Uribe stood about three feet away with a pike. Uribe was the fighter in the family. When men from Tambria or Serebrenna would come onto to mac Callen lands to raid villages or steal cattle, Uribe was the one who would gather the men and drive the invaders out. Uribe was the one that the Cargan had asked to lead one hundred foot. Urian thought that was a good choice; though he knew that when it came to battle, both lines would just rush at each other and ignore all orders until one side was beaten. Having his brother and his cousin, Valric mac Callen, nearby made Urian feel a bit optimistic. Uribe and Valric were both nearly six and a half feet tall and had corded muscles from tilling fields and lifting sacks of grain.  They also had more experience than him, Urian had killed a man in a duel and shot arrows into a few raiders but those were fights not battle. Valric was Uribe’s right hand man, there were few better with an axe or a Fain broadsword than Valric.

Uribe stuck Urian in the side with his index finger. He motioned towards the mac Cargan captain who was still droning about how the Wingardish would crush the Tambrians. Urian was pretty sure on the other line; the Tambrian captain was saying something similar. History had proven that men were men; training and discipline mattered but a man was pretty equal to any other. Urian was hoping he didn’t die today. He hoped he was worth five men of Tambria or would at least be lucky enough to be knocked down in the mud where no one would bother stabbing at him. He was no coward, he had killed his first man, a raider from Kerix, when he was 13 with an arrow to the lung. He had killed a few more raiders, Gandians, Altish and other men of the Fain with his bow before his first duel. Urian had always had a reputation for his temper, beating older boys bloody for teasing him as a youth, and his temper hadn’t softened with age. On the 19th anniversary of his name day he had been drinking whiskey and dark ales in the pub with a few other cowherds and Uribe and Valric when he heard chain mail clinking into the room. Fain men rarely wear armor; only the richest and most cowardly men would want it. As it turned out, the armored man was a dandy lordling from House Carpent. Urian had slept with the man’s little sister a few times and every one knew that the mac Callen clan planned to join the two houses in marriage to avoid embarrassment. Alexus Carpent was a big man, broad of shoulder and chest and with thick arms from swinging practice weapons in training. He would be the heir to the lesser branch of House Carpent, with a large keep and substantial income from farms and sheep and village markets. Urian was the second son of the mac Callen clan, Uribe would inherit the great hall and the lands and Urian would inherit his father’s sword. He might build a fort and have a few followers if he was lucky; but there would be no income that he didn’t earn. Alexus had pushed him and called his own sister a whore and Urian had challenged him. Alexus had no choice but to accept but only had the chance to swing his broadsword twice before Urian had split apart his ribs with a long dagger and had drained his heart’s blood.

This time, Valric snapped him out of his daydream. The mac Cargan captain was done shouting and the drums were beating to ready the men for the charge. Urian could see the Cargan’s horsemen kicking their horses and readying their spears. Urian thought about Renna Carpent, his girl back home. She was beautiful with dark brown hair like varnished mahogany and cream colored breasts tipped with pink. He remembered getting lost searching her body while he was supposed to be tending his herd. He remembered getting caught with her after they had spent the night at the tavern where he had killed her brother. He wanted to live so he could marry Renna, so that she could get fat with children and he would get old and his long black hair would go gray and then white and then fall out. Battle was no way to die when you could go in bed with a beautiful woman or as an old man surrounded by babies. Uribe and Valric would protect him from dying, and the three of them would drink sweet malty ales and laugh about how weak the Tambrians were. They would take trophies off their enemy, swords and daggers and old family shields and they would give them to their sons as mementos and name day gifts. He would use the gold he won in battle to buy Renna the biggest shiniest ring he could find; a hunk of gold with a green stone the size of his knucklebone. Urian would find her something so gaudy as to make all the other girls jealous of her. He would return to her alive.

He hadn’t realized he was running. Uribe was dragging him by the collar of his shirt as the lines charged toward each other. Urian raised his little buckler and pointed his long dagger towards the enemy charge. He may not have been worth five Tambrians but Renna was.

He would not die today.

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Unnecessary Words

In case you’re not already aware, most of my posts are for the blog Unnecessary Words. Its a blog about a little of everything and a lot of nothing. We would love for you to check it out.

Posts of particular note (at least to me):

Winter Never Came… An Open Letter To Nature 

Potent Quotable #23

Where Have All The Prophets Gone? A Crisis Of Faith

The Great Pi Day Pie Poll

The Sexist Insitution of the Necktie: A Disparate Impact

When You Play The Game Of Thrones, You Win Or You Die

A Writer’s Cup

Shit My Teacher Says #1

Humor of the Estruscan Variety

Today I am a Million Pieces: No More, No Less

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Philipp Igumnov

Philipp Igumnov.

A really cool post from a blog I like. I love the absurd, so these images were right up my alley. I had seen some before but never knew who created the pieces. Enjoy!

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Worldbuilding Part 2

I am currently working on a short story about two brothers on the front line about to charge into battle. It is set in a somewhat nondescript setting and time (though certainly prior to the common use of gunpowder in Europe) and so whether the story is set in my fictional world or the real world will depend greatly upon what names I give the brothers. If I give them “fantasy” names, essentially names of my own devision or at least suitably uncommon, does the reader care about the story I am telling if it will only be one or two thousand words? I could easily give them good Scottish names and then the reader can automatically set them in any number of wars between Scotland and England. But then I am not adding anything to my greater story. It is just a tale of two brothers charging into battle, not potentially a scene that sets up larger conflict or the creation of reusable characters.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

 

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An Exercise in Worldbuilding

As I start working in earnest on my novel, I find the most difficult aspect of the process is the worldbuilding. In the very limited formal education I attended (I missed five days of public school before graduating high school but never was fully there mentally), I never bothered to take a real writing course. Thus, I have no real idea what I am doing.

One thought I’ve had is to write short stories set in my fictional world. But as its a large, basically Earth sized fictional world, I find that as I create a race or culture or ethnicity or nation, there needs to be a real world historical corollary, otherwise there is no real understanding for the reader without huge amounts of exposition.

On Unnecessary Words, the blog I update several times a week, posts are capped around 500 words. So the exposition needed to describe geography, religion, culture and politics won’t fit if I choose to post a story there. People have to know my world without me explaining it to them. The beauty of the blog is that I don’t have to remain focused; in fact even with the relatively short posts I write, I have a lot of trouble staying focused enough to complete three hundred word posts, working on longer fiction or enough short fiction to really give people a sense for the scope of the world.

A lot of people have recommended Stephen King’s On Writing to me (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1439156816/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=unnecwords-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1439156816″>On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=unnecwords-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1439156816″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

) over the years and my wife actually gave me a copy a few years back after she read it in college. I just don’t know anyone who has used the lessons in the book, which admittedly I haven’t read, to any success other than Stephen King. Anyone who has read this, let me know, is there any way to boil the whole thing down to a couple short bullet points so I can avoid reading the entire book?

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Persephone As The Seasons Change

They sat overlooking the garden, sunlight playing along the leaves and flowers, drinking sweet red wine.  He was older than her, almost fifteen years her senior, and once widowed, but he was nervous all the same as they made small talk about the blooms and the trimming of shrubs. She was full of excitement, the tops of her pale breasts flushed red from the wine and summer sun. He turned his eyes; though he didn’t want to.

“So Jasper, why have you asked me here today?” Her voice was like peasant music; melodic and sweet and unassuming. He muttered something and fidgeted in his chair. He was not used to spending time with beautiful young women anymore, not since his wife had died in childbirth a decade before. She giggled and blushed, not knowing the effect that would have on him. “Oh Jasper, you really shouldn’t mumble. Move your pipe from your mouth and tell me what you want to say. “

Jasper didn’t mind that she was correcting his manners, ten years of working himself to the bone to forget his pain, ten years of spending time with mostly men, ten years alone had made him absentminded and rough. He spoke clearly this time, looking mostly into her eyes as he did and pulled a small envelope from his pocket. Daphne gasped and nodded yes, her clear brown eyes beginning to water. She pulled him close and kissed him softly at first, then with urgency. Jasper really did not mind how forward she was.

 

Three years later Jasper stood overlooking the garden. His pipe was lit and he puffed hard on it, trying to keep it lit against the gray cold that had swept in. It served as a distraction; exactly what he needed. The biting wind stung his eyes and cheeks; tears welled in his eyes and were brushed aside carelessly. Inside the house there was a terrible commotion, people were rushing about excitedly but Jasper was worried.

He took a long pull on the mouthpiece of his pipe, drawing the acrid smoke deep into his lungs and holding it there for a moment before letting it rush from his nostrils and open mouth. He wished for a cup of wine or whiskey to calm him, but all he had was his pipe and his garden. The garden was not the comfort it had been; the bushes and trees were twisted and frightening without their leaves, the vines were long and raggedy brown and bore no fruit. Jasper heard the door and turned from the garden to face the house.

The man who exited the house walked briskly towards him, holding a decanter in one hand and a short, squat glass in the other. When he reached Jasper he laid a hand on his shoulder in a comforting manner and Jasper realized that nothing before had been discomforting until that moment.

“It was a boy, Sir. He didn’t make it”. The doctor poured a long pull of scotch into the glass, then, looking at it, drank a long swallow from the glass and handed the decanter to Jasper.

 

“And Daphne? How is she?” Jasper could feel the pit in his stomach; a heavy stone that seemed like it would pull him down through the ground. He held the decanter unsteadily in his left hand, his right still clutching his pipe.

“The labour proved too much for her, in the end. I am sorry Sir, there was nothing I could do,” the doctor said in level tones. It looked like there were tears in his eyes, but that might have been the tendrils of smoke creeping off the pipe. “The Lord takes even the young at times, Sir, we may never know when he will call us”.

Jasper stared at the man coldly, then lifted his left hand and took a swallow of whiskey before smashing the crystal against the wall of the house.

 

Jasper turned back to the garden and looked over it, fiddling with his pipe. He imagined it as it had been just a few short years ago. Daphne was young and pretty, giggling as he had made his proposal. She was tender and kind and understood him on that summer day, before the winter had come and taken her from him. And Jasper remembered the story of Persephone, beautiful and fertile in the summer; cold and dead before spring.

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4012 A.D.

In the year 4012 A.D., flying cars will be reinvented and sell for the astonishingly low rate of 15,000,000,000,000 GBP. The mechanical marvels will be capable of land speeds of nearly 130 mph and in flight will be safe in suborbital space.

It will be awesome but you will all be dead.

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