Category Archives: Writing

Kits and Writing.

So I got some updates for the site we’re going to skip the “it’s been a whi-” and just move on.

A lot has gone down since the last update, including getting a fancy new position at Ford which I am greatly enjoying. That has made things a bit hectic but the last few weeks have gone by lightning-quick. I am really loving it.

I’ve also made the decision to work more on professionalizing my portfolio of soccer kits. Will it lead to a profession switch? Unlikely. Could I potentially make a few bucks off it? Maybe. Honestly, I’d love to see some of my designs become real. That would be absolutely fantastic.

If you read my twitter feed, which I don’t necessarily recommend Mum, I often post stuff while working including some snapshots of a big on-going project I’ve started.

What is this project; you ask.

Well, I am doing a big world building project set in the same world as my novels. It’s a big world cup write up, and it’ll have news articles, team profiles, stadium profiles, potentially player profiles, and a whole boat load of kits. At least 96 of them: home and away for 48 teams.

I’ve already got 48 crests made, though I am not 100% happy with all of them. They were quickly thrown together with stock heraldry images from Wikimedia. Already I have about 18 kits finished, so I have quite a bit of work to do. And that’s okay, I’m planning on this taking most of the summer.

It’ll be fun and I’ll make sure to have a page to showcase it. Not sure how, but I got some ideas. I hope that everyone else will enjoy it half as much as I have so far.

There’s a lot to post and explore so I’ll only have a few slices here.

Done on a whim for Paradox Interactive (not popular with the studio manager, Johan):

A little idea for Bristol Rovers FC:

And of course Detroit City FC:

Another quick mock-up for a friend:

If you have any ideas or criticism, reach out on twitter. Currently I take requests on an impulse-based sort method. Not sure how long that’ll last, though. As the Detroit City season quickly approaches, my free time will soon dissolve to nothing.

On the flip side some news regarding my writing. I have finished the rewrites of book 2, finally! It has grown by about 10,000 words to 137,000. I think the pacing has been improved and I’m happy with it in general. It’ll definitely need a final smoothing that’ll come once I get the drafts for books 3 and 4 done, which I am going to start in about ten~fifteen minutes when I am done here!

I’m pretty much actually being productive, which is great. It feels great to be getting so much done.

Of course, as I write this, it is a quarter to eight and I’ve been trying to get this done since before four… then I got distracted with the Bristol kits.

So I am going to sign off and get back to writing. I got a long way to the expected 175,000 words of book 3.

Cheers, everyone.

Mid-Break Editing Updates!

Subtitle: Because I know you care so much!

Happy holidays everyone who’s on today. I hope that between the dour weather, the sour political climate, and the ever increasing pressure to consume beyond your means you’ve found those things that make the season and life itself worth fighting for. Whether its family, projects, charity, art, or a pint of ale with nachos in front of the TV watching the Lions.

It is in these fleeting breaks between the so-called real-world and the world that is real to us that we must try to find our strength of character.

I have, as promised, been extremely busy this holiday. Extremely. Between the car, the house, and general adultships I have spent a great deal of time working on my novels, as I said I would just last update. I even had time to work on some kit ideas, going so far as to even consider doing some kits for my second-world fantasy series. We’ll see if that comes to light, though without logos I doubt it.

So I had a laundry list going into this break:

Finish reread of Book Two and with the first readers’ ideas considered, take copious notes for rewriting the book. 

I got this done, actually, the day before the break “officially” started. I wrote over ten thousand words on the matter, making it about the length of two or three short stories. This was the first time I had tried something like this and I think it was invaluable. I will certainly consider doing it again, though I am not sure if I’ll be as uncertain about the next two manuscripts as I have been about this one.

Book Two suffers heavily from “middle book” syndrome, though I guess it technically suffers from also being the beginning of a story.

See, like the Hobbit was a stand-alone story, its sequel (Fellowship of the Ring) was itself the first book in a longer arc, it can be awkward to shift from a complete story to one that is just the first bit in a long, long arc. While it is not my first time balancing short arcs within a longer arc, I cannot say I have had a ton of practice at it either.

Sun-King Reread and Touch Ups.

I also got through all of Sun-King its reread and touch up and while it did not take a ton of work, there were some rougher spots and a couple larger rewrites. I wouldn’t be surprised if one more is necessary, but that’ll come later. It took five days to do the reread and only meant adding 133 words, which is good because I wanted the length impact to be negligible. Now, a single number doesn’t do it justice. On my busiest day I went from -300 that day to +300 after some cuts to exposition in one place and inserting a new scene elsewhere. Most of the changes happened around the middle.

Not much to say other than I still enjoy reading Sun-King after three years and

Book Two Rewrites.

So there are a lot of notes, as I previously mentioned, and a lot of work to do. The way I do rewrites is to open a new document for the manuscript, put that on one screen, and then open up my notes and the original manuscript on the other.

Then I begin rereading, comparing the notes to what I am reading. If it’s okay, it gets copy pasted into the new doc. If it needs fixing, it gets fixed. If it needs cutting or if it just doesn’t work, I don’t copy it over.

Slowly and steadily the manuscript is rebuilt. Since I don’t retype what works the word count can shoot up extremely quickly. When I have stuff to write, either for the first time or as a rewrite, it can slow down. This way I can get ten thousand words “written” in a day based purely off word-count. Obviously I don’t write that fast. Though yesterday I did get 1,800 words actually written while watching LotR which may or may not have been a good idea.

I needed to add a whole chapter to the very front end of Book Two as part of the rewrites. This serves to get one of the inciting incidents of the three arcs in book three closer to the front then where it sits in the current draft.

All in all, I expect this process to take far longer than the break, probably a month or two at least. After that’s done I can head into writing the first draft of Books Three and Four, which I plan to do in one fell swoop, though I might stop to write a more detailed set of plotting notes for Book Four during that period.

I might also begin work on covers sooner than later.

Anyway, this is retreading older material and I am starting to get rather hungry.

Cheers, everyone.

The Unnamed Series – Updates, Ideas, Schedules, And So On…

Okay, so a few people recently have asked to be added to a small but growing list of people interested in reading my books as soon as possible.

First, let me just say that that is just fucking awesome, and I am greatly, greatly appreciative. It’s really cool that without having published a single word, people are interested. So thank you guys. Your interest and kind words a definitely a part of what keeps me trucking.

So let’s talk about where my four books are currently:

 

Sun-King

Sun-King is currently the only book that has been finished and is completely “set to go” from a writer’s standpoint. However from a publisher’s perspective it has a long way to go. It has no cover. There are some tweaks it needs to align it more closely with my current vision of the series, which has shifted slightly after certain events in American politics.

What’s that you say? Politics in a fantasy? Crazy, right? Actually not really. Art and politics are connected like conjoined twins.

Anyway, the tweaks shouldn’t be major and only take a few weeks to complete and get smoothed over. Once that is done? Well, that starts to get complicated so we’ll come back to that.

 

Unnamed Book Two

Book Two has gone to first readers and was first read. They were extremely helpful and I really appreciate the work they put into it. Were you hoping to get into that action? I’m sorry I didn’t extend that out to more people. I’ve gotten much better first reader responses from randos than from friends and family. My first drafts are usually somewhere between “written in feces on a bathroom stall” and “fanfic.net” in quality. They rarely make it out the door. My “rough draft” of Book Two was actually a second draft of a third attempt at writing it.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration…

But they are really, really rough. That’s because I usually write with only the barest outline and so I drop a lot of lines to see what sort of fish bite. I introduce a lot of plot hooks and a lot of characters to see how they all interact and how they make me feel. Then in later passes I will cut these down, expand others, and adjust as needed. Between drafts three and four of Sun-King I literally cut an entire main character, which was not easy.

Book Two is probably going to be the focus of my break, it’ll undergo some very big revisions. Right now I am looking at a net addition of two chapters though I’ve only got notes for about half of the book. I expect/want to finish that up before my break starts. Lots of minor characters cut, plot hooks cut, and hopefully draft three will be good enough for a second set of first readers, so stay prepared.

 

Night-Queen

Night-Queen is just a very, very long plot draft right now. It’s about 16,000 words long and is just a paragraph or two per chapter (I literally have a document called “fixing it all”). As it stands I predict it’ll be about 74 chapters and roughly 160,000 words long. For comparison, Sun-King is about 118,000 and Book Two is roughly 127,000 which I expect to swell to roughly 132,000 (from 127,000) by the end.

When I actually get around to writing book three, which will be sooner than later, I expect the process to be a bit faster than usual because it’ll be much more plotted out than my previous works when I’ve started them. But I don’t want to throw out any dates right now.

 

Unnamed Book Four

So Book Four is currently just a 2,500 word plot synopsis that needs to grow into a full 15,000 worder like Night-Queen. I expect, as of now, for this to be closer in length to Book Two. This’ll wrap things up for this story and these characters, but I do have more planned in this world, which I plan to explore at different time-frames and with different characters. But that’s not really for now. As of now, Book Four has had the least amount of thought put into it and that is a tad scary because I need a goal to aim for as I continue to put words down into word docs.

After revisions are finished with the first two books, I will consider finishing the plotting for Book Four before even touching Night-Queen. Not sure.

 

Publishing Side

The other issue, which I touched on briefly above, is the whole publishing side of things. Covers. Formatting for print, kindle, nook, kobo… there’s a lot to be done and I’ve got a lot to learn. I also need to set up an actual publisher webpage that doesn’t just redirect here, set up some preview copies to get some reviews in early to help release-day traffic. I need to get a twitter set up and tweeting my book and writing related news in such a way that it doesn’t pester the uninterested but is easy to find for the interested. I’ll still talk about writing here and on my personal twitter, but expect most business stuff to come from my business twitter once that gets set up.

So if you’re one of those people excited to read my book(s) this is where you’ll be the most helpful – reviews = standing, standing = sales, sales = my ego.

I’m only partially kidding there.

So there is a lot to do. A lot. And I only know how to do some of it. I’m excited to learn, though. I’m excited to get these out to you guys.

So let’s end on a mixed note. They say that telling people your goals is counter-productive. You assume that they’ll hold you to it, but that isn’t true. Instead you get the same mental release as completing it, but you haven’t completed it. And it isn’t anyone’s job but my own to get all this finished. That’s the downer.

The upper is that I think I have a schedule, in my head, and it is doable. The part I am willing to share is that once the first book is out, I’ll be releasing them in an orderly fashion every six months. The hard part is releasing Sun-King, which is contingent on the other books being nearly wrapped up. My gut says to publish it I need Book Four to be in a second draft phase.

We’ll see.

Anyway, this is a lot of time spent writing here and not in my books.

Cheers, everyone.

Mid-Autumn Review

Got a bit of time before an afternoon appointment ends up sinking a good chunk of our afternoon so I thought I’d get a rambly life review post out of the way. This is going to shift topics pretty quick so try to keep up.

Wine

After a half-year hiatus due to the move, our wine bucket is full again this time with a straight pomegranate wine. Right now the smell is amazing and fermentation is roaring ahead. I’m looking forward to the finished product.

In a week or two, we’ll get a second batch going: this time of raspberry wine. That too should be amazing.

And once winter sinks in, we’ll look at upgrading our wine cellar with some stone work and some decent racks and perhaps even a wine cooler.  We’re probably looking at doing it ourselves so expect a full how I managed it post at some point.

The House

We’re settling into the house quickly. We’ve already done a lot of work and we’re looking at getting the roof fixed first thing is spring. We also looked into either doing siding or remodeling the bathroom, but those ended up falling out of our price range. Too bad, both of those things can seriously go with an overhaul.

We’ve almost entirely unpacked as well, notable exceptions are bags of stuffed animals in the bedroom as well as organizing our clothes. Plus there is a giant tupperware  container in our office plus a box that needs to find a home. The office is now fully equipped for coffee production, freeing up much needed space in the kitchen (an issue that came very much to light when depipping ten pounds of pomegranates.

Otherwise we’re settled and extremely comfortable. The benefits of living so much closer to work and friends has already paid off, plus the reduced cost from the mortgage every month is helping as well. Walking is way, way up thanks to the myriad of stores and restaurants near-by, and we’ve signed up for fencing classes, our first since uni, so hopefully I can burn this damn beer gut away.

Writing

Been getting a lot done on the writing front, even if I haven’t been talking about it.

I am not participating in NaNoWriMo, so don’t expect word counts. I do plan to get some editing done, but there may or may not be some huge overhauls in my plans for the coming year/year and a half.

Brigid and I have been talking timing and publish for my four novels, which will either fall under her pre-existing company or more likely my own that I will set up when the time comes. The current plan is a release schedule something like this:

Sun-King: Q2 2018
Book 2: Q4 2018
Night Queen: Q2 2019
Book 4: Q4 2019

None of that is cemented, in fact I think it is safe to say the release schedule will likely get pushed back even further.

Why?

Well I’m a slow writer, mostly. I wanted book 3 (Night Queen) to at least be written (first draft) before I pull the trigger on publishing Sun-King. But Brigid very honestly pointed out that at the rate I write, I might want book 4 (is it strange I have the most trouble coming up with titles for the even numbers?) in the first draft stage and book 3 essentially wrapped up from the writing perspective.

I might plot out and write books 3 and 4 here in the next year – one giant binge of writing. Then I’ll have a first reader or two go through all four books and realign the consistency of the tone and action. That way I don’t have to keep going back to Sun-King when I make adjustments in Night Queen’s plotting.

It’s a lot of work, and the encouragement I get from you guys is, and always has been, great.

So thank you very much.

Kit Nerd

I’ve still been kit-nerding it up lately, messing around with sponsors and even going as far as to look beyond my normal front sponsors, manufacturer, and experimenting with a bit of color.

puma_strohs

A clean-ish rouge kit sticking on the piping theme from the official kit nerd post. In this series I went with Stroh’s as the official sponsor, following the tradition of teams like Liverpool and Newcastle who proudly wore their favorite session beers on the front of the logo. With this particular kit the dark red above the black collar isn’t the back of the shirt – it’s actually an inset of the front, so the collar is a rather traditional cut while also giving the effect of wearing an undershirt even when you’re not.

puma_strohs_plain_w_gold puma_strohs_plain_w_gold_bired

A bit of a cleaner design, in my opinion. A minimal amount of gold breaks up an otherwise plain rouge kit (top) or divides the rouge from a darker shade (bottom). I like that the Puma and DCFC logos follow the swoop, gives it a more balanced effect then when used above. I like them both quite a lot, with perhaps a slight preference to the plain one on top. The Stroh’s logo ads a lot of colors but if done right (and DCFC has been doing their sponsors right – with transparencies instead of giant bounding boxes) it still looks good. In fact the red and gold in the logo are really great with the rest of the get up.

puma_strohs_plain_w_blue puma_strohs_plain_w_blue_bired

Now on twitter I mentioned these would probably be a bit controversial (though that has so-far proven untrue). Instead of gold accents, I went with the blue from the Stroh’s logo, something unheard of for DCFC. I want to go on record saying I prefer the gold more and that I don’t actually want to see blue added to our kits, but it was a fun little experiment which I think looks good. In this case, though, I think the Rouge – Blue – Dark Rouge works better (instead of the plain one as was the case above). Maybe the blue stands out better with the defined line between the reds and isn’t lost as much.

Anyway, that is a life update. Cheers everyone.

The 2016 Summer Wrap Up

No this isn’t a thing, nor do I plan to make it one, but there’s a lot going on and a lot on my mind and I’m planning on writing some of it down for the curious and so that it’s here and not floating around taking up space that could be used to memorize useless CAE method codes for work.

NGS Kilts

I sent the order in. We got a few orders, but that’s all. I’m hoping to hear back from our supplier in the next week or so. Technically this is the real deadline, but I’m guessing no one is actually going to take advantage of it.

That’s fine.

I’m amazed I sold as many as I did, to be perfectly honest. It is humbling and awesome that people chose to buy something I designed, so thank you to the handful of you who ordered or even expressed interest in ordering. It means a lot to me.

The question of whether or not we’ll try again is up in the air. My gut reaction is “no” but you never know. So maybe?

The Move

The biggest thing going on in my life right now is the move. That’s right, Brigid and I are moving clear across the city from Howell to Grosse Pointe Woods. The move should be wrapped up 23 September. We and everyone involved (three families total) are cleared for our individual closings so it is all about scheduling at this point.

Brigid and I are supremely excited for this, and I’ve talked about it elsewhere so I will spare the details here. The short of it, though, is Brigid can begin writing full time! That’s super exciting for both of us and it means that she will hopefully eclipse my income shortly and then make us a billion dollars so we can retire at 35.

Surgery

I’ll keep this brief – I am going under the knife Friday (2 September) morning for a regular, minor, elective surgery. No big deal (hopefully). If things go right it’ll be a speedy recovery.

Book Two

Let’s end on a high note! The first draft of the still untitled book two of my series is complete! Huzzahs! I have a lot of editing to do, so expect those updates as I quickly try to rebuild the whole thing from the ground up a fifth or sixth time. I really like where it ended, I like what the characters got done, but I also recognize that it needs a lot of work. Hopefully that can get done sooner than later.

I’m taking a bit of a break from writing directly and switching to replotting out books three and four with much more detail than I have in the past. Hopefully this will make writing the last two installments a much quicker affair with fewer total restarts.

On the publishing side of things I might poke a few more agents, but at this point I want books one and two totally done and book three mostly done before moving into indie publishing, this way I can maintain a semblance of a release schedule. The idea would be to publish one book roughly each year starting around summer of 2018. I think that is an extremely doable goal, so no putting on the breaks!

Thanks everyone for keeping up on this site and hopefully we’ll see you at Soktoberfest and the so-far unannounced (probable) house-warming party.

Sláinte!

The Obsession of Symbols

I have a very fond obsession with symbols. All kinds of symbols, maybe things you don’t think of as symbols per se. To me a symbol is anything we use to define ourselves whether through common understanding or inside understanding.

We cover ourselves in symbols. Colors. Kits. Flags. Even phrases. We use them as a shorthand of who we are, what we stand for, or who we stand with.

If I were to write:

AEIOU

Most of you would probably think “Very nice, Nick. Those are in fact the vowels in alphabetical order.”

How many of you would instantly think “Alles Erdreich Ist Österreich Untertan” (All the world is subject to Austria) or “Austriae Est Imperare Orbi Universo” (It is Austria’s destiny to rule the world)?

That’s what I see.

AEIOU was a symbolic device of the Habsburgs of Austria. It represented their belief that they were the one true masters of Europe and thus the world, and who could argue? The Habsburgs ruled two of the largest empires for centuries with night falling on their reign only after the end of World War One.

What about what we wear?

The discussion about hats came up on twitter recently. “No one I know wears a [flatcap],” said one indignant (and rather uneducated) user. “Well half of the Northern Guard does,” said Killted Ken.

Flatcaps are a symbol. They can represent Irish influences. Working class influences. They were popular in England for centuries as a cheap hat, their significance as a poorman’s hat brought about by short-lived law requiring men over eight to wear a hat.

What about soccer kits? What do soccer kits tell us about people? Their colors, their designs. Hoops. Stripes. Sashes. There’s lingo and basic elements. A lot of it is based off what you like. I’m not sure that the colors or anything meant anything. I’m probably wrong. Those colors, back in the 1870s meant everything. There’s a lot of combinations of claret and blue in England.

Maybe they’re all copying.

Recently, in my boredom and partially out of a desire to procrastinate, I created twenty hurling kit sets (home/away+socks) for the “premier” hurling (called Caman in my books) league using the Azzurri GAA kit builder. Part of it was an exercise in thinking about the different cities I had created for my story. What did these cities do? What sort of people lived there? What did they do and how would that affect their favorite teams?

What did different designs and colors mean? Some patterns and themes emerged as I worked on them. I also tried to think about our own trends in sports, drawing differences between EPL and MLS. Here are a handful, hope you enjoy.

Union Macenburgh

Union Macenburgh

Union Macenburgh (and the next entry) feature in their old incarnations in the sequel to Sun-King. They are based very much on my beloved Detroit City FC (as is obviously apparent in the colors) but also in the fans. The “Union” in the name is used by teams to reflect that they were originally founded by working-class people, this is backed up by the hoops (which I took from Celtic). The fans are rowdy, dedicated, ready for a scrap, and pile into the bars before and after every match. Macenburgh itself is very much based on Detroit (including it’s southern suburb Southfields). Rozenn is a huge fan of Union, dragging Einar to a game in book 2 where she of course starts and ends a fight with the supporters from across the river.

First Blackwater

First Blackwater

When I first named “Blackwater” I wasn’t actually thinking about PMCs or anything. It was originally named after Dublin (Dubh Linn – Blackpool). As I was writing Blackwater and Macenburgh traded places as the working class and upper class sides of a single massive metropolis. Blackwater sounded more exclusive so it took over. Blackwater’s fans are mostly wealthy or conservative in general. The two teams and their rivalry draw from the Old Firm derby (Celtic v Rangers) hence the blue details for Blackwater.

ACC Aurora

ACC Aurora

Whereas the Macenburgh and Blackwater teams are ancient fixtures in their cities, ACC Aurora represents that new breed of sports team, eager to stand out and eager to build an ancient identity in a few short years. In the books it’ll be hundreds of years before they are even founded. They represent a disneyfied team – bright colors and weird patterns based on the local  scene. In this case the auroras above the city of Aurora, far north of the “arctic” circle of this world. They aren’t the worst team, they certainly aren’t the best. They are young and thus their owners make silly mistakes or are in general less interested in keeping with traditions or words of wisdom. Hence purple kits.

Dockyard Union CC

Dockyard Union CC

This team quickly became one of my favorites, those kits on the right are a good reason. Like Union Macenburgh, Dockyard is a Union club. In my world they are a very St. Pauli-esque club. Punk, anarchic, supporter-run, vulgar, and ready to shout-down fascists at the drop of a hat. While they hold Macenburgh in high esteem, they reject the idea of capos in the crowd, opting instead for spontaneous chants and lots and lots of pyro – mostly stolen from the docks.

First Valkburgh NCC

First Valkburgh NCC

I nearly wasn’t going to include this one. This is the team from Einar’s hometown and that he (secretly) roots for despite Rozenn’s passion for Macenburgh dominating their sporting relationship. Nicknamed “Rangers” that is more an homage to Sun-King and the “Nyrnish Rangers” who are head quartered in Valkburgh. Before any real-life Rangers fans jump on board, the Nyrnish Rangers were an elite scout force turned traitorous IRA-esque militia. Their colors green and brown harken back to these military roots. I also wanted a team that had unusual colors without going into the realm of the disneyfied teams.  Brown was an interesting choice, again inspired by St. Pauli.

 

Some other teams of note:

Union Waldenhof – Essentially the Newcastle United of this world.

Kairnburgh ACC – Based off Liverpool, good but never quite good enough.

Waldenhof City – The rich team that almost always buys their way to the top.

Southfields CC – The team in the burbs who wonder why no one takes them seriously.

NCC Fovel Town – That team you’ve never heard of and then are surprised to find out are significantly older than your side.

Launburgh ACC – That club out in the middle of nowhere with a tiny stadium.

Lexember #2 – Žnix

I know I said I wouldn’t do this every day, but consider this something for day #2. Eventually I’ll fall behind, aye?

It is important to recall that Hadysh is a conlang intended to be spoken by one of the peoples from my books, specifically it’s the  native language of two of the main characters – Rozenn and Einar. As such there are bits in a language that don’t always act logically or need to mean logical things, so that’s where today’s word comes in.

Today’s work is žnix (zhnix). I might drop the extended Latin and stick with the mobile-friendly version. Not exactly how I wanted this to work, but there you go.

Žnix (feminine noun) – death

Dual – žnixun, Plural – žnixunz

Object – žnixin

Genitive – žnixd

Instrument – ažnixin

 

Sentence:

Dū ďal mařa̋ẽ ť soƿupiçõ é volgamfyẽ l é žnixin.

Duu dyal mahrauen ts sohwupicho ei volgamfyen l ei zhnixin.

(There is love and life in Hadyrland, as in death; old Hadysh saying)

Lexember #1 – Haldr

I am not going to post for Lexember everyday, so sorry if you thought I was. I will try to post as often as I can, so don’t worry, but like with NaNo, I don’t exactly need the weight of another month-long project weighing down on top of me.

A while ago I posted about my conlang, Hadysh, and we covered some basic form and grammar that existed in the language. We also went over IPA and how to read the little squiggles that help us read a foreign language.

I scrapped all that work, so don’t count on understanding where I’m coming from now, however, this new iteration is just as much fun and just as crazy looking. I hope those of you who enjoy languages and learning languages will enjoy this as well.

I will provide translations for sentences, as in the past these will constantly be in flux, so while I desperately hope they remain consistent they might not as my ideas evolve and smooth out. This is a work in progress.

However; I will avoid breaking things down – maybe in time you can see the method to the madness, maybe you won’t. Grammar and quirks will get discussed in later posts, potentially in more detail.

Today’s word is haldr.

Haldr (masculine noun) – heart

Dual – haldr; Plural – halds

Object – haldẽ

Genitive – haldrd

Instrument – amaldẽ

 

Sentence:

Eb̌ažūv gen ž̯om hed agamaldẽ.

Mobile friendly: Ebvazhuuv gen dzhom hed agamalden.

(I love you with all my heart)

NaNoWriMo and Lexember

Not that I posted about it at all or anything, but I partook in NaNoWriMo. I say “partook” because I finished back on 24. November. I’ve written on and off since, with Thanksgiving being my only full day off, but none of my days have been much more than 600 words.

NaNo, for me, is both a great month and a terrible month. Often times my competitive and obsessive natures take over and turn the month into a long, dark, maddening thirty days that constantly threaten to force me into the hateful arms of depression. It can be very damaging to my social life and to my self-esteem.

But I get a LOT of fucking work done. A lot. 50,000 words isn’t enough for anything I’m writing but it essentially meant I doubled the length of the Sun-King sequel in 24 days. That means it is about 2/3rds the way through.

Is it worth it?

That’s where I’m not so sure.

The last time I did NaNo was back in 2012, the year we moved to Detroit. Since then, while I try to write a lot all year round, I never gave any special attention to November. 2014’s November was mostly a dead month waiting on first readers to get back to me with their feedback.

This is quite possibly the last time I do NaNo. It will certainly be a while before I consider doing it again.

It’s a big reason why I wasn’t here much. I didn’t even open the page between October and a few nights ago (when I was scrambling to make sure my email servers were working – they are thankfully).

So, on top of NaNoWriMo, I will also be attempting to do LEXEMBER. I’m sure you’re all extremely excited.

Lexember, for the uninitiated (i.e. everyone), is a month-long challenge for conlangers to invent and then post a new word for their conlang.

Since scrapping my work on Hadysh earlier this year, I’ve started anew. You can find me talking on /r/conlangs in the 5 minute challenges. Hadysh has new life, an “official” transcription, and a lot more. I’ve really enjoyed bringing it back to life so hopefully for the linguistically-minded of all you out there, you’ll also enjoy a month of vocab and some chatting about how and why languages are so fantastically strange.

Hrol, everyone!

Slartibartfast

I would want nothing more in life to win an award for drawing coastlines. Like most fans of strange, rugged terrain – I am always in awe of the fjords of Norway, though I am ashamed to admit my favorite piece of geography will always be Newfoundland. Not just for its historical context, but also because I feel like if I had to pick a great piece of Earth to plagiarize for a test – it would be Newfoundland. It has it all: gentle coasts, rugged coasts, finger lakes, rivers, ocean, thin isthmuses, and deep forests.

Luckily I write fantasy so it is almost mandatory that I make lots of maps. Lots and lots of maps. I posted previously about adding some level of detail to my maps and now I sort of want to go over my process as an alternative to literally jerking off in front of you all. So sit back and marvel at my genius.

MARVEL DAMMIT.

Anyway, recently I added a great deal to my map partially out of boredom, partially to keep my mind on my writing even when not writing, and partially to just flush out the rest of the world I’ve been writing in. This post will only focus on geography because I tend to actually finish my geography but will fiddle with cultural and political stuff endlessly.

So how can one go about making a map? There are numerous ways, I prefer hand drawn because I can think about the world as I draw and come up with ideas. Some people prefer to use tools or filters to create randomized maps and then place things as they make sense. I feel like world builders prefer the randomness while writers prefer the control but that is an opinion with no meat behind it. I’m a writer and I prefer hand drawn just so my bias is crystal clear.

Starting is a matter of coming up with ideas, or at least a goal in mind. Generally size is a big question. I use engineering paper so I think in terms of how many sheets I want to use. Six to eight seems to be the sweet spot for continents, but obviously continents are not all similarly sized so that might need to change depending. So the first hour or two of work might be done in the car, at work, or eating dinner. Basically I come up with ideas for what the terrain should look like, what kind of features are needed to support ideas for cities, nations, or cultures.

And that is the key – I usually decide what kind of places and people I need before I start drawing. If I need highlanders, I will draw mountains. If I want an oceanic civilization, I will draw safe harbors – only rarely the other way around and then usually as secondary thoughts or filler. Some world builders might gasp, but maybe not. I’m not terribly involved in their world (haw hee haw hee haw).

So I fill up engineering paper and eventually a sheet looks like this.

1

It’s hard to explain how I draw the lines because I just draw them. I assume it is not hard. Just draw lots and lots of squiggles. It probably sounds patronizing or self-aggrandizing but I’m not really sure what to say. Draw something, decide if you like it, if not erase it and redraw it. Simple as that. Only show what you like.

To do edges I have a top secret technique of counting boxes and then marking the point the line cross the dark green as best I can on the second page. And if they don’t match exactly that is okay, there are steps to hide that.

I usually also keep a sheet that has the layout so I can number the map sheets and rearrange them later. Counting boxes and some hand math makes for pretty accurate mapping if needed, so I can’t recommend getting a stack of engineering paper highly enough. Plus who doesn’t love engineering paper?

Eventually they all get smashed back together.

Capture

I do this in CS2 and this file is generally pretty huge. I scan them in at 200dpi. Why 200? Because I accidentally did that for the first several sheets a few years ago and everything has needed to match since. So 200 it is.

In CS I have a number of layers I’ll use with different stuff like rivers, water, boarders, and then eventually meta-stuff like political regions, linguistic, and even religious areas. This makes it easy to flip through data and keep boundaries consistent in the case of needing changes. E.g. if People A only worship God A, if I change where people A live, I better also change where God A is worshipped.

Anyway, getting ahead of myself.

Second step is tracing.  This usually doesn’t take too long and can be relaxing as well as a good time to fix any near misses. I think the furthest I was off with this map was an eight of an inch, which is pretty good given that it was eight sheets some portrait and others landscape and three not aligned to the given edges.

Borders are done on their own layer so I can play with them later.

Tracing 1

That lake and inlet are by far some of my favorite geography to date. Very proud of it.

Once everything is outlined, I copy the border and merge one into a white sheet, run a threshold, then run a filter that creates flattened, trippy maps based on black lines.

Flattened

 

This allows me to quickly and easily color water blue and land white. Which I need for making rivers, which is step four.

Rivers

Rivers are part traced from the original yellow sheets and part free-hand. Getting them to look right is a pain in the ass. Rivers are essentially fractals. They are curvy no matter how far you zoom in or out.

There is a science that is pretty easy to understand about how the curves in rivers form and they are actually pretty regular – when a river is allowed to run unimpeded down a flat plain. The Nile and Mississippi are good-ish examples of large rivers allowed to run their course, while the Ohio and Colorado are good examples where things like mountains and gorges might have some say.

Yes I know the Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River, but sometimes one digs their own grave.

Have I mentioned I am not a geographer? If not – I AM NOT A GEOGRAPHER DO NOT LISTEN TO ME I WRITE FANTASY NOVELS AND MAKE FANTASY MAPS.

After I get rivers set I start doing terrain and biomes.  I usually sketch a rough idea of where mountains go on my maps, but nothing else. I then decide as I draw where things go. Unfortunately, while I have a basic understanding of geography, I’m also not a climatologist so I have to sort of guess where things like rain shadows go.

The other problem is my drawing style has been changing over the last few years. It’s pretty solid, but I’m better with small details. Mountain ranges aren’t many hundreds of kilometers thick anymore – they have a bit of variance. Of course this means that my northern continent and southern continent are slightly different visually. Hopefully it is not too noticeable.

Each terrain feature gets a layer and I usually do them one at a time starting with mountains and ending with “rare” terrains like large fens/marshes.

Layers

Eventually all those layers start stacking up to something that looks nice!

Colors

Something that comes much later, and only if needed, is adding map icons for terrain. I usually add cities as part of the “politics and sociology” part, so I’m not covering it in much detail here. Though, as an overview, humans like water and cities should congregate near water or abundant resources.  Important cities should be in important places: straights, major river fords – never buried deep in the mountains (though that might be good for major fortresses).

So I dig out the Tolkienesque map brushes and get to work (switching to the Northern continent).

last of trees

slow and steady

Then intent is it should eventually look good in black/white.

Tree tree tree

I also do a fine detail version (shown above) and a coarse detail version (more cut out for printing).

Hadyrland w Cities

For Book copy v4

Unfortunately wordpress cuts into the detail.

But to give you an idea, here are a couple of finished black/whites of my northern continent (where Sun-King takes place).

Hadyrland with Cities

The Whole Damn Thing

Cheers guys! Perhaps conlanging next time?