Thoughts on hobbies and writing

Guess what? I’m still busy with the Ruon Chronicles full outline. Thank goodness for Aeon Timeline and Scrivener! Okay, and I’m using Notion as well to a point for random jottings for ideas. Notion is awesome, by the way (not sponsored mentions).

So, I’ve also had a bird’s eye look at the overall outline and I think my mix of novels and novelettes/novellas will work better than just novels.

Besides working on Ruon Chronicles, I have been trying to not only read more, but also spend more time crafting (basically my way of self care and relaxation). I realise that it’s not yet Easter (and time for the various public holidays in April and May in South Africa) and I need to take better care of myself than I did last year when I basically burned out by September. Oops.

I am thinking, however, that I will make use of the holidays coming up to not only catch up on blogging, but also write a few Medium articles.

But, talking about self care, I share with you Loepsie’s most recent video. I agree with her completely that, a lot of the time, self care can be too focused on making the outside beautiful without really moving beyond that (although a long bath can be healing, obviously) to doing hobbies just for the sake of enjoying them.

Ok, honestly, I look at people who don’t really have a hobby (for example my one cousin) and I just want to say “How do you live?!” because my hobbies is one of the things that brings me a lot of joy and fulfillment. But I digress. Here’s Loepsie’s video — and be sure to check out her website as well!

Diving Deeper Into Self-Care by Loepsie

Reading & Listening Update: Research, L’Morte d’Arthur Lectures, and More

Besides sitting with a nasty head cold while writing this (oh the joy of the changing season — hello there, autumn, my second-favourite season who’s not being very friendly this year), the past two weeks have not been too bad.

The one highlight (oh, and what a highlight!) was finally seeing a-ha live on stage after waiting a whopping 26 years. But more about that in a next blog post.

I’ve been Busy with an uppercase ‘B’ trying to get everything done that I want to get done by the end of February. Like outlining the whole of Ruon Chronicles. Methinks I need another month o_O

Anyway, here’s an update of the stuff I’ve been reading and listening to that I really enjoyed. Most of it is for research purposes and that which isn’t is basically my mind going “squirrel!” as soon as I spot something remotely interesting or helpful to read.

Books — Bits and Pieces of Everything

Because I’ve been so busy I’ve been book-hopping like mad. And, while a New Year’s resolution had been to not buy any more books until my TBR pile is smaller, I ended up grabbing a free book by Darla DeMorrow. (Takes deep breath to read the title.)

The Upbeat, Organizes Home Office: Five Simple Steps to Sort and Succeed for an Organized Mind, Better Time Management Skills & an Office That Makes You Smile by Darla DeMorrow

Basically I’m busy — okay, slowly — busy revamping a space for my home office. This includes my standing desk (it’s this one from Deskstand) which I haven’t been using for most the summer because I’ve been flaring quite a bit thanks to all our heat waves. Luckily now that the weather is changing I can move back into my room properly (it’s an oven in the summer) and redo the Writing Closet.

So this volume came by just in time for me to make the most of my space, yay!

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface by Donald Maass

Yes, I’m still busy with this one, but that’s because I’m doing the exercises as I go. It’s really a helpful book — and I think this may become my favourite craft book.

It really delves into the emotional hooks and really thinking about characters so they don’t become cardboard cutouts. And I’ve already changed part of Knowledge Stones based on the advice in this book. It’s definitely better now!

I know it’s a pricey book (she says, keeping the Rand/Dollar exchange rate in mind), but it’s definitely worth it.

The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penney and Peter Stastny (Photos by Lisa Rinzler)

I’m reading this book about the Willard Suitcases again as research for an article I’m planning to write. It really is a heartbreaking book (I think more so because I have a mental illness and would probably have found myself in a similar place if it wasn’t for modern psychiatric medicine…), but I think it’s one everyone should read because it shows the people behind the suitcases in so much colour. You come to understand them so much better and really see them as people and not “just” another patient number.

Here’s an Instagram account about the Willard suitcases that is fascinating to follow as well.

Magazines — Needlework, Gemstones, and Craftiness

I’ve also been reading quite a lot of magazine articles. I usually get my international magazines from Pocketmags and, while I still prefer physical magazines, the digital ones do just make more sense price-wise. Plus I get to have magazines on my phone for those moments when I’m in a queue for instance and I don’t have my knitting with me. Because, let’s be honest, nobody likes queues.

I’m still absolutely addicted to PieceWork Magazine — their Spring 2020 issue is now out, by the way. Plus they now have all their back issues online for subscribers to read!

On the website there are also fascinating articles, for example these two:

A Brief History of Harvesting Spider Silk

Deep-Seated Associations: Textile Threads in Language, Myths, Fairy Tales, and Novels”.

 Other interesting magazines I got on the back issue sale includes a few Rock&Gemissues (which is also for research for, among other things, The Ruon Chronicles), some BBC History issues, Writers’ Forum issues I’d had my eyes on, the 200th issue of Knitting Magazine and a couple of Cardmaking & Papercraft issues. Did I get enough mags to keep me busy for a while? Definitely! 

Some of the interesting articles on the Rock&Gem website include:

Earth Science In the News: A Hum Foretells a New Volcano?

How Do Super-Sized Geodes Get So Big?

Podcasts, lectures, and lectures in podcast form

I’m quite a “slow listener” when it comes to podcasts — no listening as one and a half or double speed for me, thank you! — but I also seem to listen the longer episodes and lectures in about 1-hour intervals. One of my favourite podcasts is the Mythgard Academy lectures.

I’m currently busy with the lecture series about Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and even though it comprises 36 two-hour lectures I really don’t want it to end!

If you’re a fan of Arthuriana, or even just medieval romances and literature and would like to know more, I can highly recommend it. They also use the Middle English text, which is awesome!

Here is a link to the page of lectures (there’s video lectures available as well): Mythgard Academy’s Le Morte d’Arthur lectures

Some of the other podcasts which I enjoyed over the past few weeks, include:

The Folklore Podcast: Episode 67 — Celtic and Western European Fairies

Mark Norman’s podcast never fails to entertain and to educate at the same time. Though I know more about these fairies than those in the rest of the world, there were still much to learn and a lot of Story Fodder to get stuck into.

The episode of The Folklore Podcast which I listened to before episode 67, was episode 60 (Magical House Protection) which was just as fascinating. 

Become a patron of The Folklore Podcast over here — the perks are many; not least of all having all the episodes ad-free.*

Courtesy of The Folklore Podcast website

Lore: Episode 136 – The Third Time

I’ve been a fan of Lore for a few years now and found it quite by happy accident (or did I…) when searching for something completely different. Needless to say, I’ve been listening since and still look forward to the new episodes.

Episode 136’s description is as follows:

Folklore is our legacy. We humans have carried it with us everywhere we’ve gone in the world, and it anchors us to our roots and our community. But it also does something else: it gives us a place to hide our fear, to put it on a leash and control it. And there’s one story in particular that does that better than most.

Now, if that doesn’t make you want to listen, nothing will.

I Should Be Writing: Episodes 478 “War of Art”, 473 “Character Names (1)”, and 472 “Trust the People in the Basement”

I love Mur Lafferty’s podcasts I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers. Her honesty about her writing and struggles with mental health really hits home.

Thanks to the episode about character names, though, I realised that I have three (yup, 3) characters with very similar sounding names in the first part of The Knowledge Stones. So I need to work on changing some names…

The podcast about War of Art actually needs a whole post as it was something which I have also been thinking about when it comes to self-help-ish-like books and craft books.

*Yes, I know I work in advertising, but some of the podcasts really do go overboard with the amount of ads that they have. I quite like the way Lore does ads; leaving them until almost at the end of the episode. However, if a podcast’s creator(s) are able to get revenue without advertising, I’m also really happy because it shows me that people are still willing to pay for the content they enjoy. But let me stop before I start a whole marketing lecture!

Worldbuilding Wednesday: Building on the Ruon Magic System, Part 1

Last time I looked at the four branches of “Nith” or magic in The Ruon Chronicles. This week I’m going to look a bit deeper at the magic system that I’m building for the Ruon specifically.

Okay, so while the main charms are worked in embroidery, there are also other forms of needlework and weaving that can contain the Ruon nith and can be used in various ways. For example, there are:

  • Tapestries
  • Weaving
  • Knitting
  • Crochet
  • Tatting and lacemaking.
One of the Ruon charms

Embroidery

The embroidered charms of the Ruon can be divided into two main types – healing charms and guarding charms. The healing charms may include such charms as those against pain, fever, and to knit bones, as well as those to ensure safe delivery in difficult pregnancies.

However, some of the guarding charms may also be used for new mothers and babies; usually in conjunction with healing charms. Some of the most potent of the guarding charms are those which guard against the Khalver and weapons. These, however, are seen and used very seldom because they are so difficult to make and take such a large amount of nith or Talent (this refers specifically to the Ruon talent gifted to an individual by the creator and not just the talent to create needlework) to make.

Most of the knowledge of making them was also lost in the Great Burning, during which all but a tiny handful of the books of the Ruon were burnt and their knowledge subsequently forgotten. This took place before The Ruon Chronicles: The Knowledge Stones start. There may be a short story about it in the future…

The hiding cloaks some of the Ruon can make are also counted among the guarding charms because they are mostly used to hide a Ruon from the eyes of those who are not Ruon and specifically those who are the enemy of the Ruon. However, these cloaks are not easy to make, can only be worn by those with Ruon nith, and uses nith while it is being worn, unlike other charms which has all the required nith built in, so to speak.

The Nithin have also found a way to make hiding cloaks, although they are not as potent as the Ruon hiding cloaks. The Ruon are still able to see the Nithin even when they wear the cloaks although they are invisible to non-Ruon eyes. The role that the Nithin plays in “weeding out’ the Ruon from among those living in Agraver and in some of the Mountain Kingdoms (like Ogjan) is clearly shown in the Novella Grove of Graves, the second story in The Ruon Chronicles.

The Tapestries

Not to be confused with needlepoint (where canvas is embroidered), the Ruon tapestries refer to woven tapestries that are imbued with nith. This nith gives the tapestry a dynamic quality which means that the picture that is woven can move. Okay, they basically weave a gif. But a gif with class 😛

So it’s not like a neverending movie that plays itself out on the threads, but rather a short scene (about a minute is the longest) that repeats itself. It works very well on landscapes (think trees swaying in the wind, etc.), but people and even important battle scenes and other historic moments are also shown in these tapestries.

Because they take so many people to make they are very expensive and is the main way for the Ruon sanctuaries to make the money they require to feed and clothe the Keepers of the sanctuaries as well as deliver healing and other services to the communities they serve.

Weaving

Widely used in the making of clothing for the Tellerassar (eagle shapeshifters), the nith is what causes the Tellerassar to be able to change form and keep their clothes “on” while in shifted form. (Because having your shapeshifters looking for clothing to wear for half the book gets old very quickly.) The cloth can be made from various materials, most often linen or very fine cotton. Most of the cloth is produced locally in Heimfeie, although the finest cloth (based loosely on Jamdani from India) comes from the north of Sjahra.

Cloth used in the shrines of Sjahra and Khallahna are also woven in Sjahra by Ruon weavers and imbued with a certain amount of nith.

Knitting

There are so many styles of knitting, that I’m not going to go through all of it here — especially since the knitting part is the newest part of the magic system and the figuring out of it is still a work in progress!

Much as the nith is trapped in embroidery stitches, so, too, is nith trapped in the knitting stitches. Different patterns can hold different guarding charms and healing charms, though they are usually a lot more specific and intricate than those that are used in the embroidery. (Here is a post I wrote regarding the basics of knitting for KnitPal.) Lace knitting is one of the favourite types of knitting that is used by the Ruon and also gives a very light fabric that is both easy and practical to carry.

In the colder climates in the north of Airtha-Eyrassa, denser fabrics are created in order to be practical for that environment, however. The Eastern Keepers and especially the Northern Keepers specialise in these knitting styles, while the Southern and Western Keepers are usually trained rather to knit lacework or at the most light blankets and cloths. The sanctuary of Holt Haliern, which lies in the centre of the world, is one of the few places where both “main styles” of knitting is taught and practiced.

Next week: Crochet, tatting and lacemaking!

Thoughts On Writing Outside Your Genre

If you’ve been following the blog, you probably noticed that most of my stories are fantasy, sci-fi or some form of speculative fiction. So you can understand my trepidation when I learned that the genre for the Jozi Shorts Anthology is contemporary fiction. Well, colour me challenged.

The last non-genre story that I wrote was Pandjieswinkelgoed that appeared in Vrouekeur magazine two years ago.

Luckily we received an extension on the closing date for stories, as I could not for the life of me think of anything to write. Well, at least not anything that wasn’t genre fiction. I did finally get an idea for the story, and ended up still writing some of it on the day the story was due. Oops.

It’s called “The Goldfish and the Astronaut” as I quite like the title and, yes, it does go with the very-much-not-spec-fic story. The astronaut bit actually popped into my mind when listening to “Difference Maker” by NEEDTOBREATHE.

“Difference Maker” by NEEDTOBREATHE

What I learned from writing outside my genre

All in all, though, writing a story that is outside my usual genre did teach me some things:

  • I can actually write outside my genre when I need to (or want to). Writing about “normal” people may just be possible — without ending up giving them superpowers or adding a dragon to the story, or something, I mean.
  • Writing outside your genre takes practice just like writing in your genre does. Boy is that story going to need some editing still!
  • A short story needn’t be a sprawling epic — a few moments of a life can feel “epic” as well. Also, you don’t necessarily need a dragon or other creature to make it epic.
  • I still really struggle with happy endings in short stories. Give me longer pieces and I can do it. Given me a few thousand words and, apparently, I cannot.
  • Waiting for the story to magically write itself is not going to work. You need to start typing or writing to get the story flowing. (Where are those story elves who work through the night cobbling a story together when you need them?)
  • Writing outside my genre does stretch some writing muscles you didn’t know you had. So, much like a new yoga position, you need to practice your muscles if you want to write anything worthwhile.
  • Don’t dwell on it. Much like writing an article about tarantulas all of a sudden and having to do oodles of research, you will need to do some research for your story as well, and may have to dig deep to find the humanity.
  • I will get lost in looking at the gallery section if I go on the NASA website.
  • Even when writing non-genre fiction, my search history will somehow turn out weird. Go figure.

This week I’m back to working on The Ruon Chronicles’ outline and hopefully doing a breakdown of book 2 to see where some changes are needed. I still want to finish this by the end of February, so let me get cracking!

Worldbuilding Wednesday: The Magic System of The Ruon Chronicles

In the world of Airtha-Eyrassa (the world in which The Ruon Chronicles takes place), magic and magical abilities are called Talent or Nith. The nith is further split into four distinct branches, namely Nith, Nithrus, Nithran, and Nith-Eyr.

The Four Branches of Nith

Nith/Ruon Nith

Also called “Ruon nith”, “nith” usually refers to the Talent of the Ruon and their embroidered charms. This includes nith used in healing, guarding and creating armour.

Nithrus

“Nith of the Airus” refers to the Talent innate in the Airus. This includes being able to read the Knowledge Stones.

Nithran

This type of nith is only found in the Tellerassar (shapeshifters) and Water Women and is, like Nithrus to the Airus, innate in them.

Nith-Eyr

Nith-Eyr, or “Nith of the Veil”, refers to the Talent which the Airus and Khalne possess and which they use to “walk the Veil”. The Airus Tarion and Amalia are seen walking the Veil in the story Grove of Graves.

The Embroidered Charms of the Ruon

The Main Types of Charms

The embroidered charms of the Ruon can be divided into two main types – healing charms and guarding charms.

The healing charms may include such charms as those against pain, fever, and to knit bones, as well as those to ensure safe delivery in difficult pregnancies. However, some of the guarding charms may also be used for new mothers and babies; usually in conjunction with healing charms.

img_3828
Pain and fever charms combined

Some of the most potent of the guarding charms are those which guard against the Khalver and weapons. These, however, are seen and used very seldom because they are so difficult to make and take such a large amount of nith or Talent (this refers specifically to the Ruon talent gifted to an individual by the Creator (Agrai) and not just the talent to create needlework) to make.

Most of the knowledge of making them was also lost in the Great Burning, during which all but a tiny handful of the books of the Ruon were burnt and their knowledge subsequently forgotten. The hiding cloaks some of the Ruon can make are also counted among the guarding charms because they are mostly used to hide a Ruon from the eyes of those who are not Ruon and specifically those who are the enemy of the Ruon.

How the Charms Are Worked and Where They Are Worn

The charms may be worked on any fabric and in any thread, though specific thread and fabric are usually used in Ruon Haliern and manufactured there especially for this use. The reason why the charms may be worked on any surface is that it is not the fabric or the thread which is magical, but is only endowed with a certain amount of nith by the Ruon while the charm is being constructed. Some thread and fabric – those which are stronger and have a higher thread count – may, however, last a bit longer and the fabric may also be used more than once to make either the same or different charms.

As can be seen in the preview of The Ruon Chronicles, the charms may be worked on clothing and not just on charm cloths carried by the wearer. These charms which the strongest Ruon (like Ruaha and Ruenna) wore, were in many ways as tough as armour while still allowing the Ruon a free range of movement. To make such an outfit, however, required a very large amount of both nith and time and, unlike metal armour, would only last until the threads lost integrity as the nith locked within the threads were used.

Those worked over Ruaha’s heart kept her alive not only because of their strength, but also because of the placement. While the charm could not deflect the blade of the knife, it could stop the blood from exiting the wound, thereby making the body “think” that it is still whole and not wounded to such a degree. Ruaha also kept these charms hidden because she knew that they would give her the upper hand should she be injured. Nith from the other charms she wore could be moved to the charms over her heart because she was a Ruon and she was using it herself. This is why the rest of her dress started to fade and those charms break first. Once all the other nith was used up, the charms over her heart was at last used and lost their integrity. If it had been a less severe wound she could have been saved by using this method to keep the wound from bleeding.

Order in Which the Charms Are Worked

The charms must further be worked in a specific order in order for the charm to function. For instance, when working a pain charm, the first “layer” of stitches will be the lines crossing the circle. Next the circle itself will be worked as the second “layer”, whereafter the lines crossing the first layer will be worked. These stitches hold the nith within the charm and anchors it to the thread. Once the thread is knotted and cut, the thread will turn a deeper colour as the nith is fastened to it. This is one of the few ways in which a true Ruon charm can be discerned from that of a fake one when it is being made. For instance, a non-Ruon may work the same pattern as the Ruon, but the charm’s colour will not change and neither will it contain any of the nith required to work.

Colours in Which the Charms Are Worked

The colour of the thread is not of such big import, but coloured thread is used in order to see whether 1) the nith is fixed to the charm and 2) when the charm is fading and losing integrity. Traditionally red, blue, and green thread is used to create the different charms. Different colours may also be used in the same charm when there are different “layers” present. This is especially done by those only learning how to make the charms, but is also sometimes done for aesthetic reasons when worn on items of clothing.

More detail about the different nith can be found on my Patreon page, along with other worldbuilding and story notes.

Of Working Two Months Ahead, Looking After Yourself, and Fiction Writing News

The last we saw our intrepid writer, she was busy outlining the whole of The Ruon Chronicles and taking Sir Tristan the Wonder Cat for walkies in the garden.
Since then… well not much has changed and yet a lot has changed.
We’re back up to normal speed at work (the Day Job) and are already on March issue print deadlines and beginning on April. This is also why I don’t know the actual date half the time!
The next few days will be a scramble as we inevitably get in material quite late with some clients forgetting that I still need to translate their copy if they’re going into an Afrikaans magazine. Oops.
If nothing else, deadline week usually — strangely — has me working on my own projects more. I guess once the momentum is there, I might as well keep it going!

Looking after yourself

Which also brings me to some good news – the anaemia that I’ve been struggling with is finally getting better! So I’ve also been feeling more human (which is always a good thing) and have been able to sleep less. Well, by “sleep less” I mean only 7-8 hours per night. This gives me a lot more time to work on writing and other stuff, yay!
I really hate slowing down when I get anaemia or something else, but, then again, I learned the hard way last year to give myself a break. Look after yourselves, guys!

Stories!

I’m finally finishing writing the Jozi Shorts short story. Our genre is contemporary fiction and, well, I really struggle to write it, full stop. The last story I wrote that was plain ol’ fiction (that is to say, not genre fiction) was the one published in Vrouekeur magazine in June 2018. And I had written it in 2017. Yup. That’s how much time I spend writing “normal” stories.
So colour me challenged by this short story! It’s a love story and is based on a photo of a lake house and includes a sentence that you have to fit in somewhere. This, at least, makes the writing easier! I can’t say more, however, as that will spoil the whole surprise.
In other short story — actually flash fiction — news, I’m back to posting some (genre) flash fiction on my Instagram account (@carin_chronicles) along with the usual photos of Sir Tristan, craft projects, and thoughts about quotes.
I also have an idea for another micro fiction story for Paragraph Planet and I’ll hopefully get that done this weekend as well.
Other than that, I’m still busy with outlining Ruon Chronicles, but should be done by the end of February as is my plan. I’ll keep on doing Ruon Chronicles worldbuilding Wednesdays for the most part.
Have a great weekend and week everyone!

Worldbuilding Wednesday – And Then There Was War

Welcome to another worldbuilding post!

The battles that are described in this post takes place before the first book in the series of The Ruon Chronicles starts. They’re written much like I usually write my worldbuilding notes for myself; that is to say more like a vignette or sketch than just bullet points. I also tend to get quite formal or use archaic words for some reason without even trying.

It’s like my brain goes into “history writing mode” and then tries to mimic the style of the King James Bible… Anyway, here’s “The Battle of Redfield”, “The Battle of Achtarion”, and a look at the ash-creature-dragon-like-things that were used during the battle at Achtarion .
If you missed last week’s worldbuilding post, you can read it by clicking on this link: The Good, the Bad, the Diminishing.

The Battle of Redfield

Hogtan, after being given sanctuary with the Airus, marched into the Battle of Redfield at Airus Eamund’s side. The fighting was fell that day, but the Khaldun retreated after Eamund slew their captain.

To keep the Airus from following them, the Khaldun set fire to the dry grass of the plain and it burned so fast and hot, driven by dry wind, that the Airus narrowly escaped with their lives. This is why both sides claim to have won this battle.

Anger now burned within the Airus, as their dead and wounded were burned on the plain and could not be recovered.

And it was said that their spirits were unable to cross through the Veil into the immortal world for many years and that they were doomed to fight the same battle over and over again. For many years none dared to walk upon Redfield for fear of the ahyané-lifa, the ‘living ghosts’ and Redfield became known as Ahyané-argan — the ‘Plain of Ghosts’.

In the end it was Hogtan who begged Agrai to give the slain rest, saying that he would give his own life in return. Agrai did not take his life, but showed him the beauty of the immortal world beyond the Veil and the once-dead Airus who were now alive again.

Battle of Achtarion & the Ash Creatures

The last battle before the First Sundering — during which the Airus’ lands sank below the ocean — was the Battle of Achtarion. The day of the battle was ever after remembered as the Day of Blood.
One of the main cities of the Airus (and by far the most beautiful) was given the name Achtarion. Built from white marble, grey stone and carven wood the colour of gold, it stood next to the Eljana River atop a hill. To the west of the city were hills and caves where the survivors of the battle hid from the Lewjan and Khaldun.

During that time, Lewjan sent his forces across the Rhager Mountains and laid to waste many towns and villages. Then they marched on Achtarion, the jewel of the Airus, breaking and burning as they went, with their ash creatures burning even the stone of the city as well.

Many Airus were slain in a last stand when they tried to give part of the city that had not yet been overrun time to flee into the surrounding hills and caves.

Hogtan again fought at Eamund’s side and, when Eamund was wounded, carried him from the fray. He begged Eamund to follow what was left of his family into the hills. Then he bound Eamund’s wound and, after he watched Eamund lead the last of those fleeing into the hills, he did not follow, but returned to the fight. There he was cut down by one of Lewjan’s captains.

When the people learned of Hogtan’s death, a great elegy was made and sung for he had been greatly loved even though he had once been Khaldun. It was after this fell battle that the Airus begged of Agrai to cast Lewjan and the Khaldun into the ocean. This was to be the First Sundering.

Lewjan’s Ash Creatures

Lewjan’s first creations were the ash creatures which fought at the Battle of Achtarion. They were created from a mixture of the blood of deserters and the ashes of the towns they had burned. They were, however, dumb, fumbling creatures although they were very destructive and could turn wood and even people to ash immediately.

The creatures were each blood-tied to one of the Lewjan, but would die if they either moved too far away from their master of if their master died.

They are called “lifahtso” or the “living ash” by those who survive the Battle of Achtarion.

As usual, very happy and uplifting stuff…
Next week I’ll hopefully have the map for this post ready to post!

Worldbuilding Wednesday – The Good, the Bad, the Diminishing

I ended the previous Worldbuilding Wednesday post with the death of Sifa which caused the world of Airtha-Eyrassa to fall and the Veil between the mortal and immortal world to be put in place.

This week I’m looking at the events that brought about The Diminishing, including the death of the Airus called Leralia. As usual, though, not everything is as simple as it first appears and there are good guys, bad guys, and a bad guy turned good.

To read the previous worldbuilding post first, click here (it will open in a new tab).

Both angered and saddened at the death of Sifa, the Airus took to calling Lewjan’s followers the Khaldun — servants of the shadow — and his followers revelled in their new name.

The Airus closed the passes of the Rhager Mountains to the Khaldun and tried to forget that they were of one kin, preferring to build a world separate of that of the Khaldun.

After twenty-one years had passed, the Leralia, who was one of the Airus, went to Lewjan and the Khaldun to ask them to let go of and forget about their rage and return to the Airus. But Lewjan would have none of it. Instead, he had her bound and stoned before delivering her death-blow himself. Then they burned her body and scattered the ashes in the wind.

And it is said that Lewjan and the Khaldun’s minds were changed when they slew Leralia and that hate and anger burned in them like never before, fed from Lewjan himself.

The Khaldun crafted many weapons for themselves and went to the dwelling of the Airus Elders, attacked them at dawn, and slew them all.

Witnessing this brutal slaughter, the Airus crafted their own weapons with which to defend themselves. Years of warfare between the Airus and Khaldun followed, and it was these deeds that started the Diminishing. Some took to calling this the Days of Mourning.

But there was one of the Khaldun, calles Hagtan, who would not lift a hand against Leralia. Seeing this, Lewjan ordered Hagtan to be brought before him. The Khaldun bound him and made him watch Leralia’s execution before beating him and taking him to one of the passes of the Rhager Mountains. There they told him to go to the Airus elders and to tell them what had been done.

Having no other choice, nor the will to fight back, Hagtan went to the Airus’ lands where he was found and brought before the elders.

Hagtan told them all that had happened and prepared steeled himself for death. However, he was shown mercy and taken to a room to rest and recover his strength.

Later, he would fight side-by-side with Eamund, but would be killed at the Battle of Achtarian.

Okay, so I guess that last sentence was a bit of a spoiler for next week’s post… oh well.

More news of The Ruon Chronicles

I’m still busy working on the outline for the series, although the past week things has been going a bit slow as I’ve been a bit ill and so try to save most of my brain power for work.

I did flirt with switching two characters around in The Knowledge Stones, and then luckily – before starting to write everything out – realised that there is no way that it would work.

What I did manage to do was switch some chapters around in order to let the reader meet Zala first (she is one of the main characters of The Knowledge Stones). The whole meeting Trevian (whose name is about to change, more on this later) first – while it worked for the first draft – did not fit anymore and I took quite a while to figure out where and how to let the reader meet Zala without it feeling forced.

That said, I also realised that I really need to change Trevian’s name. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the name; but it is far too close to Tarion (and I’ve already written a large part of another part of the series containing Tarion, so his name is more “set in stone” to me).

To top it off, I went and gave another character a similar name as well. And this may have worked had I not written a scene with all three together and realising just how close the names are to each other!

I have yet to decide on a new name, though. I think I’ve grown used to Trevian, so I’ll take a while to find another name that just “feels right”.

Other than that it is more the novella Grove of Graves that I’m changing than I’m actually changing anything on The Knowledge Stones.

I have to redo part of the map for The Knowledge Stones, though, and move some of the places at the beginning of the story further north. Otherwise I’m going to have another main character, Aaron, do nothing but walk for a few weeks. And that’s… well, it’s boring. The only way that I can make the story work after the new chapter 1 that I wrote, is to move places to the north of Heimfeie, actually. This, however, is not too bad, as I only spend two chapters there before moving on to other places in the world.

I should also be able to redo the map for next week’s worldbuilding post!

Next week I’ll also have a look at two of the main battles during the Days of Mourning, including the Battle of Achtarian.

Worldbuilding Wednesday — Worldbuilding a Beginning

I guess worldbuilding a beginning to the world of Airtha-Eyrassa really only started after I read The Silmarillion (which is also one of my favourite books of all time). While I did not start the world by writing the beginning and creation, it was soon apparent once I’d started that it was a necessary part of the worldbuilding to make it really feel authentic and influence the worldview(s) of the people inhabiting the world.

The beginning of the world was quoted last week, but — in case you missed it — I’m repeating it here:

In the beginning, when there was only Agrai, the world of Airtha-Eyrassa was created. Agrai, called the One by the peoples of Airtha-Eyrassa, created the world and then gave it one sun and one moon. Then Agrai kindled four great stars from which all other stars in the night sky are descended. These four stars Agrai created to show the people of Airtha-Eyrassa their way by night. And they were the greatest and brightest in the night sky.

Then Agrai looked towards the world of Airtha-Eyrassa, and the world was entirely covered in water. With a single word Agrai parted the land and the water, just as the sun and the stars had been kindled.

Agrai then created the plants and animals, filling the land and the waters with them. For an age they grew and lived and, once they had thrived and filled all the lands, the Age of Morning dawned.

As you can tell if you’ve read the Bible; this piece was highly influencd by Genesis 1, i.e. one creator God that speaks the world into being. (If you’re unfamiliar with Genesis 1, you can click here to read it.)

I decided to go against making it “too mythical” and taking the route of Norse or Finnish creation myth. (If you’d like to read these, get your hands on the Eddas, especially the Younger Edda (Norse) and Kalevala (Finnish).)

Okay, so of course you can’t just have happy people running around always being happy when you write stories, so I had to write where the first uber-bad-guy (in the normal sense of the word uber, not the ride sharing thing) came from. Enter “The Fall”. Turns out, there’s a murder as well…  

And, as you can see, I’m really stealing for fun and profit here!

One of the Airus, however, wished to create his own world apart from that of Airtha-Eyrassa, but found that he could not. This angered him greatly and he flew into a rage, cursing Agrai and swearing to forever stand against the Creator.

He took to calling himself Nasjand — which means ‘saviour’ — and told the other Airus that they were mere slaves and pawns to Agrai’s will and that, if they wanted to become free, had to follow him and not Agrai. Nasjand promised them that they would become free of the fetters of the world, creating their own, better world in its place where they would be the supreme rulers.

These Airus left the towers and gardens where they had lived and sundered themselves from those they now deemed to be slaves and lesser than themselves. They trekked across the Rhager Mountains and made a new home for themselves from the red rock.

The eldest of the Airus, Sifa, who was also Nasjand’s twin brother, went to this new home, but was slain by Nasjand and his body cast into the ocean. When the Airus learned of this, they started calling Nasjand Lewjan, which means ‘betrayer’.

In seeing what had happened and that death had now entered the world, Agrai put in place a Veil that would divide the mortal lands from the immortal lands. The immortal lands were pure and without sin, suffering, or death, while the mortal world had fallen.

This Veil is also where the name for Airtha-Eyrassa (“The Land Beyond the Veil”) comes from. Next week I’ll go into the different good and bad guys as well as The Diminishing some more as this is still important when the Chronicles actually begins with The Knowledge Stones.

Of Stuff You Realise After Rereading, and Crocheting Nests

Good news! Especially for me — I at last realised what is wrong with the beginning of Grove of Graves and how to fix it. Apparently my subconscious had been thinking about it the whole week after I reread the story to see where any changes are needed.

Turns out I only need to move one flashback to the beginning of the story and that should do it. Okay, with a bit of a rewrite of the scene to build on it. See, the story started really slowly and — let me just face it — a bit boring too. Moving the flashback kicks it into gear from the start and also does some exposition that is required (as it takes place just after The Knowledge Stones).

One of my goals for January and February is to outline the whole of The Ruon Chronicles properly. Obviously there will still be some changes as I go along, but I really want to get The Stuff Stuck In My Head on paper and in the correct sequence.

I’ve decided on doing it over two months as I know how hectic it can get when the year really gets going by about mid-January. This is because the school year in South Africa starts then so everyone is back at work and the city’s traffic is back to normal as well. Oh, the traffic… Time to mindplot, I guess!

I’ve really had some time to rest over the past two weeks as I could even take an almost leisurely time to finish my work during the day. And after December’s rush I really needed this time to make sure my admin is under control, etc. as well. That said, I feel ready to crack open Aeon Timeline and Scrivener (and my trusty notebook) to write again after my hiatus.

The past weekend was spent mostly at home (bliss!), with me only having to face the shops quickly on Sunday (because guess who needed headache tablets and found that she was completely out of them). Other than that I only ventured into the garden a few times to take Sir Tristan for a walk.

The rest of the time I spent working on writing, crocheting, knitting and listening to interesting podcasts and lectures.

Man, I think if I went to varsity now I would have been even more of a nerd. I was already one of the students who spent most their time in the library studying. Okay and reading oodles of books that I just found interesting and wasn’t actually part of the curriculum. Add to that lectures and podcasts, YouTube, etc., I don’t think I would have done anything else!

 Anyway…

I managed to finished my Eilian Shawl in Stylecraft yarn — the second time that I’m actually making this pattern! It’s only a five row repeat pattern, which made it great for when I’m listening to podcasts.

Wanting to do some knitting as well just because, I started on another shawl (shawls seem to be my thing) that is also a simple pattern and one I can do without having to have a pattern in front of me the whole time. It’s really like I can switch my brain off while working on it and just forget about all the worries and stresses of the day.

It was on Friday that I received an email from LoveCrafts (whose newsletter I follow) asking for help. At first I thought it was going to be some kind of poll or something, but it turns out that it gave links to places that need help for rehabilitating the animals touched by the Australian bush fires.

I didn’t even know that they needed crafters to make nests, pouches, etc. Well now, I thought, crochet I can do and nests I can make! So, since Sunday, I’ve been crocheting nests in-between writing and reading (because my fingers and wrists can only do so much at one time!) and when I have a good bunch I’ll post them off to Australia.

If you also want to help, here are the links.

Also included on the Facebook Page are the patterns you’ll need. So, if ever you’ve wanted to learn to knit, crochet, or sew, why not take this as your chance?

There are some great tutorials available on YouTube, Skillshare, and Bluprint (some free, some paid) to help you get started.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with some more worldbuilding, and, until then, keep well!