Thursday, 18 April 2019

Religion in Fantasy . . .

I've just recently finished the first draft of my current piece, Blood for Blood. It's basically the 5th installment in my Dark Fantasy series, The Egaean Archives.

I've struggled with this piece, I won't lie. Hidden sub-plots kept springing up and I think I felt a little over-whelmed at times, like I had bitten off more than I could chew. (What didn't help is that I broke my own rule and wrote and self-published Tunnel half way through this one). But chew I did, and 120,500 words later, it was finished. Again, just the first draft I have to keep reminding myself. I am pleased with it but it's far from perfect.

One charater turned out to be not quite who I expected. He ends up being my main antagonist, and throughout the story, he has changed who he wants to be; an Advisor, a Priest, a Commander in the Royal Guard. He just hasn't been consistant, but as the piece drew to a close, he eventaully made up his mind. He's a Cardinal (still going along the priest line), which is great. The end climax is in a monestary and this now makes perfect sense.

BUT...

What is he a Cardinal of? Religion does feature in my world, but it's only been something I've touched on. In order to flesh out this character, I need to know who he is and what he does, and in order to do that, I need to flesh out my religious system. I already have one historical story set in place which features heavily in two of the other pieces, but it's not enough. So where do I even start? It's like world building from scratch.

I've decided to go along the similiar sort of lines of ancient Greece with many gods, each with their own role to play. I'll have the people aware of these gods, but the majority will only worship one main one. I just need to figure out who these gods are now. A fun way to spend Easter Weekend.

What about you guys? Have you ever had to create a whole new religious system for your piece? How did you go about doing that?

Friday, 12 April 2019

A Black Hole in the Blogoshpere . . .

Hey! It's been a while.

So what's happened since I've been on my hiatus? BIG news currently going round the globe is NASA taking pictures of a huge Black Hole 55 million light years away from Earth. The pictures I've seen online are phenomenal. And do you know what else is phenomenal? The size of that thing. It's estimated to be 6.5 billion - yes, BILLION - times bigger than our sun. Can you imagine that? Can you even comprehend that size? I'm certainly struggling.


6.5 billion...*Shakes head. Can you imagine the affects that would have on us if it were closer? I dread to think. Although one theory has already crossed my mind. That theory goes that it's sucked up all the regular bloggers from 3-4 years ago.

Seriously!!! Where have all you guys gone?

I have a huge long list of blogs that I followed back in the day when I was blogging regularly. I flicked through them the other day and sadly only a tiny percentage of them are still running - and kudos to you guys for keeping it up. There were some real good blogs out there that are now just drifting aimlessly in the blogosphere. Mine, admittedly, is one of them. I guess life gets in the way, better things come along, priorities have to be made. I joined twitter a while ago (in a bid to give up the unhealthy addiction to Facebook, I found myself filling the void with Twitter. Urm...) I follow many authors on there - as well as stalking potential agents - and even though I rarely post, it's a good way to keep up to date.

So why do I feel Twitter is taking over Blogging? The convenience? A way to keep in touch with more people without the need for typing out long-winded blog posts? I don't know. But I sure hope the Blogosphere doesn't get sucked too far into this black hole. I may not blog regularly but I do still dip in and read those that are still up and running.

Does anyone have a lifeline...??

Friday, 12 October 2018

Inspiration de France ...Mont St Michel

It wouldn't surprise many to hear that I went on another cruise not so long ago. It was only a six dayer from Southampton, stopping at Lisbon and Oporto in Portugal, Vigo, Spain, and Cherbourg in France. For those who are unfamiliar with cruising, when you get to ports, you have the choice of either going it alone and exploring where you want, or booking one of the many excursions they offer. We weren't going to book any excursions on this trip, but then I saw that Cherbourg were offering a coach trip down to Mont St Michel in Normandy, France.

As soon as I looked this place up, I knew I couldn't turn this trip down.

I cruised with my mum and aunt but due to the warning of LOTS of steps, they opted out of going so I braved it alone. And I'm so glad I did.

Mont St Michel is an old monastery, still in use, literally built on a rock about half a mile off the coast. They've built a walkway out to it now but before you could only reach it when the tide was out, and even then it was treacherous as it's surrounded by sticky mud. The rock has been inhabited since before the 8th century, however, the main structure of the abbey that we see today wasn't built until the 11th century, and throughout the years has been adapted and altered to the stunning structure we see today.

Tolkien even found inspiration here and based Minas Tirith in Lord of the Rings on Mont St Michel, and you can see why.

Obviously more about Mont St Michel can be read on Wiki but in the meantime, here are a few photos. I loved this place and took so many it was hard to decide which ones to share...



As you approached, it appears like the Disney Castle on the horizon, and yes, I was like a big kid when I saw it...

Ignore the tour guide's fantastic photo bomb...

The shops below are like something out of Harry Potter...

Looking up...

Steps...

Looking up again...

More steps...

Looking down this time...

Looking out across the flats...

The abbey itself perched on the very top...

View to the West where a second rock sits which was apparently a retirement island for aging monks of old. It's now a bird haven...

The abbey again...and my finger

If you look to the very front, you will see monks. There was a service in progress so we couldn't go much further...


Cloisters with medieval seagull..

Other side of the cloisters, still complete with medieval seagull...

Impressive chamber full of pillars. No one knows what it was used for, except as a weight-bearing structure to support the abbey above...

Yep, you guessed it. More steps...

Saying goodbye on the walkway...

The place is amazing, and if you happen to be in Normandy, France - and you're okay with steps - it has to be a must on your list of places to see...

Friday, 11 May 2018

Jousting at Warwick Castle . . .



Can you imagine the look on people's faces when they ask what plans I have for the weekend and tell them I'm going to Warwick Castle to cheer my friend on in a Jousting tournament? Yes, that's right. Jousting! People do that 'double take' thing which does make me chuckle. Jousting was a dead sport, but with the help of the Knights of Middle England, it looks like it may be fighting for a comeback, and my friend and fellow writer, Lucy, is right up there with them. 

Her love of jousting came after she received a Red Letter experience day. She's a horse rider anyway and loves a challenge, and she loved it that much she decided she wanted to train and has been jousting for a good few years now. And we are talking the proper lances, shields and full chain mail and armour here. Proper medieval stuff.

This year, however, was the first time the tournament was allowed to take place in the grounds of Warwick castle. The Knights of Middle England, also based in Warwick, do a lot around the UK and for films/TV (they did the jousting in A Knight's Tale) and have recently started doing events and shows for the castle, so for these amateur jousters to be able to joust with the castle as they're backdrop must have been an exhilarating feeling. And I have to say, it looked absolutely spectacular.

If you write medieval fantasy, the whole day would have been filled with inspiration. But because you missed it, I took a few photos for you instead...


Lady Lucy is on the closest steed in the picture



I believe they named a Pub after this horse - 
The Prancing Pony




 











Thursday, 29 March 2018

Does Writing Have To Be A Solitary Business? . . .

My friend and I decided to try something new the other evening - a group writing session. I say 'group' but there were only two of us. We were each armed with our laptops and each prepared for an evening of tapping away. She trundled over to mine where we had tea and munch, played with the cats for a bit and then settled down. We've both written flash fiction in writers' groups but never done serious work on our own WIPs.

I had this idea a while back. I was watching the first episode of Castle (back when it was semi new. I refused to watch it when it first aired in protest for the way they killed Firefly. I couldn't see Nathan Fillion as anyone else and the loss was still too painful then). Anyway, there he was, Rick Castle, a writer battling writer's block. Oh I was right there with him. The frustrations of the block. Anyway, I watched as he stalked the NYPD, chose a target, and wormed his way into a relationship that would forever be known as Caskett. Then came a scene where he sat down at his laptop and wrote.

Now, I'm not sure how scenes like this affect other writers, but I can only liken it to someone watching porn. Oh, just watching Castle tapping those words on the screen got creative things flowing in ways only other writers can know and understand. This got me thinking. What if I was in a room with other people all tapping away on works of fiction? Would this have the same affect as watching someone on the screen? Would it induce inspiration? If we're still talking porn, I imagine most people would say yes, this theory would work, but writing??

Turns out, it's also a yes. It worked just as good as porn, in fact even more productively so. Within a space of an hour both of us had cleared well over 1500 words. I understand many writers out there may clear that easily in that time, but for those who sometimes struggle, just listening to someone else tapping away, seeing the creative cogs turning in their eyes, is enough to get their own creative cogs shifting into motion.

So there you go. I was being both social and productive at the same time. How about that? Turns out writing doesn't always have to be a solitary business. Now, I wonder how Nathan Fillion would feel knowing his writing scene in the first episode has just been compared to pornography. Hmm...

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Oh, For The Love Of Horror . . .

Guess what? I've been writing again. I told myself, this slump has to come to an end, and low and behold, words were written on page. But these words didn't contribute to my current WIP. Nope, I had to start another.

This idea - and namely this character, Rose Black - has been haunting me for a while now. And haunting is such an appropriate word seeing as Rose is actually a ghost.  During the Great Depression of the Slump, many hours of TV watching have been racked up, and one show in particular that caught my attention was Ghost Adventures. Cheesy, fake, overacting, it may possibly be, but for someone obsessed with all things paranormal, it makes for great entertainment. It also spurred the initial spark for Rose Black. Since then, and while I've been trying to continue with my other work, she has been sitting on my shoulder, growing, evolving, and now she's eager to be fleshed out. She's not letting me continue on my path, so I've given in and am now letting her lead the way.


So, is this going to be a cheesy, sterotypcal story about a poor ghost whose life was stolen before her time, and who misses her connections with the living, finding it hard to let go? Nope. Rose was a tragic victim of a serial killer, and who's life was brutally taken from her (brutal as in not all body parts were recovered) but this story is going to be dark, twisted, macarbe and all of the above. I'm going to have such fun writing this.

My current WIP was coming along beautifully, with over 80k words, but I just need something different to get me back in the flow. Don't get me wrong, this fantasy piece has a real dark element to it which I love, but remembering how much fun I had working on Tunnel brought back the nostalgia for a good old fashion horror. So I'm breaking my rule and taking a wee break from fantasy, opting for something set in the real word...kind of.

You win, Rose. Your story is being written, so you can stop hounding me and haunting my nightmares...wait...forget I said that. I might need those nightmares.

In other news, Tunnel seems to be doing really well and the few reviews left have been really good. I'm can safely say that's a piece I'm proud off.

Till next time...be safe and don't have nightmares :)

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A Wee Trip To Scotland . . .

We've just had a long weekend in Scotland - Dunoon to be precise.

It's our third time up to Dunoon. We have friends there, but this time we went with another couple who had never been. I absolutely love Scotland. For our honeymoon 10 years ago we could have gone anywhere in the world, but I insisted on Scotland as I'd never been before. We rented a cottage just outside Inverness and I've never tired of going back there since. To say the landscape is stunning is an understatement, and its so rich in history that you're reminded of it practically everywhere you look. I'm so inspired by it, so I thought I'd share a few snapshot moments and share some inspiration...

Puks Glen is a national park where you can walk up the side of a woodland hill, following a waterfall

The view once you reach the top of Puks Glen

Some Scenic views...


 




Kilmun Church situated alongside another waterfall and with a historic graveyard and mausoleum


Inverury Castle

The tower of Inverury church

We also spotted some local wildlife, including birds, seals, and an animal that is extremely rare to see during the day and in this area. The genuine Wild Hairy Haggis. I was also lucky enough to bag one and sneak it home. Look at it!!!


Yep, I Love Scotland!