Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Goblins Can't Dance, But They Can Print Paperbacks

he called back into his mind all the wondrous things he had read about the world; about kobolds and snakes, knights and beasts, dragons and cities made of gold. He recalled the adventures of the young wizard Agrathoth; Thanathin the Silent; Mirebeth the Dragontamer; Alena of Phingog Mor; Sir Thethin, who saved the children of Griphendia from the ravages of war... All these heroes and heroines of legends were goblins, just like he. They all had accomplished things that he could accomplish as well. Maybe, one day, someone would read about Pondorath of Thobog as well.

Belated surprise! Exciting news! Gophirith of the Mountains is out in print form, a tiny bit prior to the ebook, as I have hinted at in the past! It's on Lulu here! Yes, it's finally out! (Pre-orderers of the eBook will still need to wait a bit - sorry about that!) If you don't know what it is yet (though if you have been following my postings here and elsewhere, you should), here's the book's info page on Pelsatia's home! I'm happy with how it turned out, which is very rare for me, and I'm really excited to finally have this published.

I made my first one-piece book cover for this; if it prints right, which I do hope it will, it should look really neat with the custom spine and all. The illustrations are all in here as well, though they're in greyscale as the costs of printing on-demand in full colour are astronomical! It was a pain to format, and golly, am I glad it's finally out!

Well, what are you waiting for? ;3 Check it out on Lulu, there's a reading sample! If you have a Goodreads account, you will also be able to add it there now :3

Friday, 29 November 2013

Gobblin' and Goblins

A happy (late) Thanksgiving to anyone who celebrates it, and a happy late November to the rest! A lot of things have been happening in Pelsatia and outside it, as those who follow my Twitter account probably already know. There's pre-orders and games and all kinds of fun things! Well, maybe not all kinds, but there certainly is a game and pre-orders.

Gophirith of the Mountains is now on Barnes & Noble and on Apple's iTunes/iBooks for preordering in EPUB format; all that's missing is Kobo, but I have no hopes that they will list it any time soon, so these will likely have to do until the launch. Said launch is still going to happen on the 12th of December for the eBook, though as Lulu has been making their holiday hsipping deadlines fairly clear lately, I am strongly considering releasing the paperback a couple days earlier so people can still profit from that (people who pre-ordered the eBook will likely still have it earlier due to instant downloads vs. mail delivery times, and the paperback also will have greyscale illustrations to make it more affordable to print). I'm personally can't wait for the launch, though I may be a tiny bit biased here.

“what other strange things do you think we’ll find?”
Pon shrugged. “Let’s wait and see”, he replied. “The greatest wonders often lose their charm if you know about them ahead of time.”

So, what's that game I have been talking about? Well, it's the vaguely hyped-up super-secret surprise following the start of the preorders! Gophirith's Mirrors is a freeware game I made, which is remotely Tetris-like and even more remotely related to Gophirith of the Mountains (the author still approves of it). My tester also assured me that it's fun and unique, so mayhap you should check it out (and share it with people! People like free stuff!).

Well, I still can't properly end a blog post. So, um, toodeloo?

Friday, 15 November 2013

Sample is Here, Pre-orders Almost

It's my birthday, and because I have nothing better to do on my birthday, I got the pre-orders done for Gophirith of the Mountains! Well, sort of. As of posting this, it can't actually be pre-ordered yet, but it has been added to Smashwords and is going to pop up on various retailer sites over time once it gets approved for Smashwords's "Premium Catalogue" and (EDIT: Turns out it got approved while I was writing this! Yay!) shipped out (at a dollar less than the final price will be! *hint, hint*). And golly, am I glad this is done! Now I can almost sleep again. Here's the Smashwords listing - free sample in select boxes!*

You get a sample, and you get a sample. Everybody gets a sample!

This will be out (in ebook and hopefully print form) on the 12th of December, in time for the holidays. This book isn't quite as long as my previous one, but I like how it turned out (which is rare), and I hope you will, too! It's also my first attempt at including illustrations in a book (apart from that Ssalia scribble on the title page of Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot), and they're in full colour. There's a bit of poetry in there as well, like my last book, but I don't want to spoil too much before it's even out.

Perhaps, one day, his tale would make its way far into the outside world[...].

*All boxes have been selected.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

News from Pelsatia

Hm, what's this again? A blog? Oh yeah, there was something about that...

I have been working a whole lot on my Fantasy book lately, Gophirith of the Mountains. I decided to go ahead and try giving this book some illustrations, even though I got no feedback on the idea when I posted it on the blog, so that's where most of my time is currently going. I already miss writing the actual text, as illustrating it is a lot more tiring than typing it up. Yes, yes, 'tis quite sad, the things I do to sell a book.

I recall stating on my website that I would be posting updates here, so here's an update: Gophirith of the Mountains now has its own page on the Pelsatia home with some information about the actual story, as well as information on where and how to pre-order it (hint: as of writing this, you can't, but this will change in the near future). It also has a shrunken version of this book illustration sneak peek here, with fancy transparent edges and what-have-you. Oh, and share buttons! Let's not forget those. Everyone loves share buttons.

Huh, what's that? A link the page? Oh right, take this:

Highly clickable link to the info page! (More clickable than links with only-sorta-above-average clickability)

Enjoy whatever there is to enjoy as of now, but be ready for exciting things in the not-at-all-distant future, coming to a neglected blog near you.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Write My Book for Me: Name & Concept Generators

Just kidding about the title! Names are an important part of fiction; even without considering their meaning, they define what the narrative, your characters and your readers will have to refer to people, places and concepts by. Care should generally be exercised when picking them, especially when drawing from real world languages or cultures, but for those times where you desperately need a name for someone or something and just can't get your creative juices flowing, there's a great amount of generators available online for even the most niche-based names; a lot of them can even provide general ideas for the characters and places these names will be applied to! They sadly might not always be able to do your job for you, but they certainly can provide inspiration.

Below, I have compiled a short selection of generator sites I have found on the internet over the years, with a focus on generating names, especially for Fantasy. Each entry starts with a link, followed by a description of the kinds of notable generators that can be found on the site and things to be aware of; the text in italics below each description sums up the basic types of generators, again with a focus on names. (Please note that I'm not affiliated with any of these. They belong to the respective creators, and although I haven't personally encountered problems with them as of posting this, they should be used at your own risk.)

  • Seventh Sanctum

    Probably one of the most elaborate sites for generators; this has a huge amount of them, though not all of them generate names. Generators can be viewed by category, or you can have the site pick one at random (which doesn't serve much of a purpose, but allows a quick look at the general idea behind them and might bring up a generator you hadn't noticed on the site before). Don't be fooled by the "Names" category; while this is where the character name generators and a few others are, many generators in the other categories also create names. Others will generate descriptions, suggestions or other bits of text intended as a source of inspiration instead.

    Generates: character names, place names (taverns, realms), species names, vehicle/ship names, spell names, concepts and descriptions (characters, creatures, technology, settings, etc.), story ideas and more; these are hard to sum up, so you might want to look at them yourself.
  • RinkWorks Fantasy Name Generator

    A highly customisable name generator. Can put together names from elements in a database or even letter-by-letter based on a specific algorithm, which you can define yourself to suit your needs. Be sure to read the instructions for the "Advanced Interface" on the site; it's very, very useful for generating "meaningless" names and words for your setting that have a specific kind of sound or feel to them and are not based on existing names.

    Generates: character names, all-purpose "meaningless" names/words.
  • Behind the Name

    Not primarily about generators, but a compendium of real world given names, with meanings, culture, origin, stats, etc. The "Random Renamer" tool can pick names at random from customisable categories, some of which are not based on real life and provide names for specific kinds of characters (witches, fairies, etc.).

    Generates: character names.
  • Fantasy Name Generators

    As it says on the tin, these generate mostly Fantasy names (some are related to MMORPGs; look through the menu at the top or scroll all the way down on the main page for the more general ones), with some generators for places, etc. as well. Names are typically picked/combined from pre-made databases (some aren't combined at all, but simply provide a random selection); some tools generate vaguely scientific-sounding nonsense; be sure to read the description for each generator to find out how the names are made. Be careful about the real life-based names: the site likes to simplify or transcribe special characters (such as umlaute), which can easily falsify the results, and it can also generate extremely uncommon names not in any way traditional to the language they are meant to be from. It's better to use Behind the Name (see above) for real given names instead.

    Generates: character names, place names (taverns, towns, countries, castles, planets), ship names, fungus/plant names, mineral names, clan names, scientific names.
  • Utilities and Generators on Mithril and Mages

    These are intended for roleplaying games, but a lot of them are just as useful for writing. The name generators combine distinct elements from databases largely rooted in reality, so results tend to be very convincing. Many categories to choose from for place names; modern character names are U.S.-based and can be picked by how common they are.

    Generates: character names, landscape feature names, place names (taverns, towns, streets, buildings, etc.), occupations, as well stuff mostly about tabletop games.
  • Abulafia

    This is a wiki for generator scripts that anyone can (in theory) contribute to; thus, purpose/nature and quality are both highly variable. Some generate names, others descriptions (sometimes very detailed), even others do both. Check out "Name Generators" on the site for the ones that generate a pure list of names. Generators generally provide little information about how names are formed, so exercise some care (you can click "view source" to look at the code).

    Generates: character names, place names, ship names, plant names, species names, weapon names, concepts and descriptions and more.
  • donjon RPG Tools

    More generators with a focus on Fantasy and Sci-Fi tabletop RPGs, some of which are handy for general writing. Descriptions/concepts are elaborate, but usually specific to certain RPG systems. The name generators appear to take patterns and elements from a database of related names and mix them up; especially for character names, this most often results in "meaningless" names. Even the "quasi-historical" names still tend to use this mechanic, so they are likely to be foreign-sounding nonsense at best and might even be profanities at worst; be extra cautious when using these, and don't present them as real names from a real language unless you're certain that they work as such.

    Generates: character names, place names (taverns, towns, countries, castles, streets, etc.), concepts and descriptions, stuff for tabletop games.

It should go without saying, but keep in mind that the results of these generators are random; even if they are picked from a database of real and historical names, they may be unfitting for the context you require them for. There's no shame in taking inspiration from a random name or even taking it straight from the generator, but you should always do the research before you use it, especially for real world-based names.

Of course, at the end of the day, the best names in fiction are still those that have had some thought put into them, so keep that creativity running; just be careful it doesn't get away.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Me

I somewhat recently received a newsletter from Smashwords informing me of their new self-interview feature, and I couldn't resist writing one! The result is not particularly long, but I think there might be some interesting stuff in there; I typed it up over the past few days in notepad before publishing it, after saving some interesting questions from the "suggested" ones. You can read it here:

Amazing Smashwords indie author self-interview!

It's mainly about my Fantasy writing, though other things also get mentioned. I took five of the pre-made questions and answered them (they're actually not random; the question field just goes through a list of them when you click the button to suggest a new one in the editing interface, so I assume many other Smashwords authors used the same ones, which may make for interesting comparisons), and I have two more saved up for when my next book, Gophirith of the Mountains, is released, as they will make more sense then than they do now. When that will be, I don't currently know, but you can be sure I will announce it here! The story is approaching the end as of writing this post, but it still needs a lot of polish and I am not done with the illustrations yet, so it may still take a while. Until then, enjoy the interview, and if you like it, I would be very grateful if it's shared! (And if there's anything that should be added to it, I tell me in a comment; I may edit it in!)

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Lanschilandia comic page: Borderline Chaos, pg. 6

Tails of Lanschilandia! Here's the page!

I don't have much to say about this one, and after a marathon of sketching out page number 8, I don't believe I'm in a condition to write a lengthy post.

Some more Phoebe goodness here (who, by the way, has recently inspired a CafePress design) and Bad Bat and Batty finally reappear. Batty turned out very pretty; I already feel sorry for what I may be putting her through later in the story. As you may have noticed, her outfit changes all the time. Her hair colour is slightly different here as well; I may experiment with more drastically different hair styles for her in the future. It will be interesting to see if she remains recognisable, though as she's the only female bat in the comic (so far), I don't think that's going to pose a problem. Still getting used to Anserian and the King; their expressions will probably remain a bit stiff until I gain better control of them (though Anserian's isn't likely to change much even then). Panschi's expression in the last panel, on the other hand, looks like he's about to "take your haaat, siiir", which was fully unintentional.

Enjoy the page!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Lanschilandia comic page: Borderline Chaos, pg. 5

Tails of Lanschilandia! Here's the page!

This has been quite an enjoyable page to make, and also one of the more important ones in quite a while. We get our first look at a few new locations in Lanschilandia, as well as three new characters. We also get to see the reason for the chequered background used on the website and in the title panels (which was totally what I had planned when I made that design choice, yup).

I had actually not finalised these new characters' designs until the very day I started sketching the page, though they have been lingering as "outlines" for quite a while, waiting to be used. I think they turned out quite well, though they're going to look somewhat stiff until I'm more comfortable with drawing them. I like what I did with Minister Anserian's speech bubbles. You can tell someone is talking formal if they're speaking in Times New Roman. So, why is he wearing 18th century fashion in a vaguely mediaeval setting? Because it fits his character. Although I'm going for a Fantasy-type feel, I had never really planned to limit myself to any specific historical period (after all, it's not set on Earth in the first place); this gives me a lot of freedom for interesting things to do with characters and plots, as I can just use whatever "works" without having to make sure it's period-appropriate.

Of course, the true highlight here is Phoebe, the herald. The idea for her popped into my head completely at random one day, and it probably shows (not a bad thing in my book). She's positively loony, if you couldn't tell from her eyes. She was going to have a real trumpet originally, but I thought it was a lot funnier this way. Watching too much Pingu probably had something to do with it, too. There may be more Phoebe in the future depending on her popularity and whether I feel like using her more; I'm not excluding the possibility of a "day in the limelight", but that will probably take a long while to happen.

Enjoy the page!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Lanschilandia comic page: Borderline Chaos, pg. 4

Tails of Lanschilandia! Here's the page!

This one was finished quite a while ago thanks to my five-day schedule and doesn't have too many things going on, so I don't have all that much to say about it at this point. I accidentally lost the original linework prior to being converted to a Photoshop path, which I'm rather vexed about, even though it probably won't ever be needed again. I just enjoy keeping past stages of the work process around for reference.

This page marks the return of the teacups so commonly seen in A Spoony Experience, now on a brand new tablecloth. There's also some squishy stuff going on, as well as the in-comic debut of one of Parsley's middle names. I adore her expression in panel 4 and especially 6. She looks like a Muppet, though I can't pinpoint why.

Enjoy the comic page!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Lanschilandia comic page: Borderline Chaos, pg. 3

Tails of Lanschilandia! Here's the page!

Well, I guess I'm updating this weekly for the moment. I have been more or less successfully following a task-based 5-day schedule for creating the pages (layout and rough sketches -> fine sketches -> inking -> colouring -> shading and polishing). Let's see how that will work out in the long term. If I can keep it up without significant breaks, I can establish a buffer and won't need to worry quite as much about being on schedule in the future. Hurra for task-based planning! I highly recommend this method over a single loose deadline for the entire finished work.

I don't have much to say about the page itself. I got lazy on some of the backgrounds, but things have already been shown in detail on the previous pages, so I think it's not too major a thing. Parsley is officially adorable in panel 4. Shading Kakralomino's hat brim shadow was odd, but I think the results look fairly interesting. Be on the lookout for a return of the construction sandman.

I have nothing more to say on this, so enjoy the comic page!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Book Review: "The Nut Heist" by Trisha M. Wilson

Like ever so seldom, it's book review time again! Once more (and as will likely be the case in all future reviews), we're looking at an indie ebook: The Nut Heist (A Tale from the Aksoy Forest) by Trisha M. Wilson.

Trouble is brewing in the Aksoy Forest and the kingdom of Aquerna: not only is the squirrel populace being hit by a tough winter, but the malicious Lord Zenith is not making the situation in his cousin's kingdom any easier as he plots to steal their nut stocks for himself. Will the citizens of Aquerna be able to make it through the winter regardless?

The Nut Heist is an interesting take on a "talking animal" story, set in a world of civilised squirrels and similar animals. While this may seem like generic children's book fare (and certainly is appropriate for children), it is through the vivid and charming presentation of the setting that it becomes a lot more than that. Even at its short length, it's an immersive experience full of details and lovable characters (including a lot of strong female ones!), and it's easy to appreciate the amount of care and thought that the author put into her setting - light provided by needles instead of candles, nuts and seeds instead of money in a bank and attacks by "giants" all help shape an interesting world from the perspective of a squirrel.

The only potential criticism I could bring up is the story's length. At about 13k words in 5 chapters, this book is indeed fairly short and may be over too soon for some tastes. However, its compact length allows it to maintain a steady level of quality until the end rather than suffering from fatigue like some other books do, making the overall experience a lot more enjoyable.

The Nut Heist is highly recommended for anyone who wants a short, entertaining read with children's book charm (especially if you're a fan of anthropomorphic animals/Furries). If you missed the link above, the book's Smashwords page is here.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Lanschilandia comic page: Borderline Chaos, pg. 2

Tails of Lanschilandia! Here's the page!

I have been trying to see if I would be able to maintain a weekly update schedule for Tails of Lanschilandia if I were to set one. This page took precisely a week to make (weekend included), but only barely got finished after working on it relentlessly with little time to take care of anything else, which is not really beneficial to my Fantasy writing. I must admit I'm rather puzzled how other webcomics with similar page formats can maintain such a tight schedule, but I shall take my non-existent hat off to their creators.

Unless I can find a way to speed up the creation process (cloning device?) or decide to go with a strange schedule like "a new page every 9 3/4 days", Laschilandia is likely going to remain sporadic for now. (Hint: You can follow this blog or other various accounts of mine to know when it updates *cough*.)

Enjoy the comic page!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Lanschilandia comic page: Borderline Chaos, pg. 1

Tails of Lanschilandia! Here's the page!

It's been a while, but here's the beginning of the next story for my webcomic! I am moderately excited about this, though I doubt that will be enough to keep me working at full power, so don't expect any noticeable increase in update frequency. The story will focus more on the characters that didn't really get to contribute much to the previous storyline, so this should be interesting; especially with a major change in art style.

As you could probably tell, the art looks very different than it did on previous pages; this is because I am now drawing the pages at a higher resolution in Photoshop and shrinking them down for the website, which allows me to more easily add details and results in much more slender linework (which remains the only thing slender about Hayfa the cow). I am also experimenting with shading, though I won't make that too elaborate as I don't want to slow down the page creation process even further (to achieve this shading style, I am drawing black spots on a semi-transparent layer, which is squeezed between the linework and the colour layers).

Not quite as noticeably, I am now semi-consistently sketching panels and characters before I "ink" them, which helps a lot and the result may actually begin to not look like scribbles from a preschooler anymore. It's a strange process to get used to, but I have some faith that it will be worth it and I might even be able to draw non-crooked limbs and hands eventually (gasp!).

Enjoy the comic page!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Got it Covered? Think Again

"Don't judge a book by its cover" so goes the common saying. A good piece of advice that most people have heard of and many strive to learn from, but which almost no one follows in the non-metaphorical sense. Especially in a chiefly text-based medium like literature, the cover is often the first and potentially only "visual" impression anyone gets of a book, and a lot of the time, the attempt to win the interest of the curious reader is promptly bungled by a badly designed cover. But is it really true that the cover sells the book? Not always, but it certainly can make a notable contribution. At the very least, it attracts attention. From personal experience, I can say that an eye-catching cover is more likely to make me look twice and make the book remain in my memory. So what makes a cover "eye-catching"? Hard to say, and certainly dependant on the genre as well as the time and place of publication. An eye-catching cover is a cover that stands out from the masses, and in order to do that, it needs to differ from the masses.

Looking at a great amount of book covers especially for indie Fantasy, I have been noticing two trends in particular: stock art (especially photography) and generic designs that don't say anything about the book (or a combination of both!). Good as they may look in any other context, these require a lot of creativity to turn into unique and memorable covers. That skull or sword on the cover may have some relation to the book and that random woman on her best way to catching a cold if she doesn't put on some clothes may even be a depiction of the main character, but they do nothing to set the book apart from the hundreds of others using a different version of the same motif.

So, what should be done? I'm certainly no expert on covers (though I may have to become one), but here are some fairly obvious suggestions (specifically for Fantasy covers) that still tend to be ignored:

  1. Don't use photos. Photos are exact captures of real life images and without a lot of digital enhancement, they are rarely ever going to exhibit any style unique enough to be eye-catching to the layperson. Take advantage of the many traditional and digital ways there are to create art. If you can't do it yourself, find someone who can.
    1. Don't force a run-of-the-mill Fantasy style on the cover; it does not need to look "realistic", and the more quirky it looks, the better. You are not creating art for a gallery; people most likely will not stand idly and gawk in awe at your cover, even if you get a Dutch master to paint it (though that would certainly be something to enhance your advertising campaign!). The cover is an ad for the book, and it will need to stand out by being individual, not by demonstrating how well it can follow conventions of painting.
  2. Think about something unique in your book's story; a "highlight", which is recognisable as belonging to that specific book your wrote. Use that as the cover. (Many of the Harry Potter books generally use interesting cover scenes (that are easily associated with the books) in a number of of their publications; for instance, the German release of Philosopher's Stone shows the well-known "wizard's chess" trial.) Don't go metaphorical unless you actually have an interesting metaphor to present. Skulls, swords and random things on fire are not interesting metaphors for anything and have been used a quadrillion times. Even if they fit, no one would think of associating them with your particular book.
  3. For something really unique, do something with the text! For the vast majority of book covers, the convention tends to be to stick plain, uninteresting text on top of the cover art as an afterthought. If you are publishing indie, you should be in full control of what your cover looks like; there is nothing that prevents you from making the text interesting in itself. You can go further and make it express something about your book or its feel; going even further still, you can incorporate the text into the very cover art! Conventions are made to be broken if you wish to stand out. Just ensure it's still easy to read!
So, what were the considerations I made when designing the cover for Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot? Not many, sadly. Had I been quite aware of the importance of covers in book publishing (especially indie), I probably would have invested more thought into it. Even so, I made the effort to make my own digital painting, use a motif that connects to the book (a (hypothetical) painting inside the jade tower, itself showing the snake girl Ssalia and a dragon in silhouette) and at least apply some text effects (though I wish I had gone all the way with it to make it truly unique). It's not ideal, but I feel that even such minimal effort can make the cover stand out from the generic masses of stock photography.

The conclusion? Think about the cover, its relation to your book and how to make it stick out. Especially with no professional advertising, it really does matter.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Lanschilandia comic page: A Spoony Experience, pg. 14

Tails of Lanschilandia! Here's the page!

So it seems I am announcing these here as they are put up. Updates to the comic are happening rarely enough these days anyway to not be obtrusive. Here's the 14th page of "A Spoony Experience" and the first major milestone in my webcomic's history: the final page of the first story! So, with one complete story, where's the comic going to go from here? Well, to the next story. As mentioned in the last Lanschilandia post, I would like to try a better art style for that one, namely drawing the pages at a higher resolution so it becomes less annoying pixel work and I can more easily add details to the pages (the final display size on the site will remain the same, as I think this is about as big as I can make them while keeping them convenient to read in most screen resolutions).

The colouring on this page took almost as long as the linework. Can't say if I'm happy with how it turned out, but I believe the art has come a long way throughout the first story (especially in terms of backgrounds) and I am satisfied with some of the drawings at least. This is one of the first times I have actually bothered to sketch some of the panels/character poses before drawing them properly, and those have turned out better than the rest, so I may be taking this idea further. These are also the first detailed drawings of Parsley I have made since her panel on the introduction page, and the latter was pretty much directly copied from her concept art. It took me a while to get used to drawing her, which is probably evident in how her looks change slightly across the page. I am not quite sure where to go with her personality yet, but that will probably work itself out as I use her in more significant roles. The red book on her table is "Haley Topper", which sadly isn't fully visible.

As another first, the page marks the debut of Prof. Manatide and is the first time I have drawn him apart from a quick design sketch. He's sort of Doc Brown- and Ludwig von Drake-inspired and I'm pretty happy with how he turned out. His design is fairly complex, but as he is a minor character (and will remain one), I won't have to draw him often. I do have some things in mind for him, but that's for a later story to be told at a later time.

Well, what more can I say. Enjoy the comic page and see you when the next adventure begins!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Conquest

Behind horizons, hills and dells
Hidden well
Tales oft tell
Is found a fort where no one dwells
A fortune in its shell

A path is plagued by stalwart storms
Curved as strait
Cursèd fate
The only path to thither forms
But ne'er does grip the gate

A wall as tall as mountain looms
Strong as stone
Hard as bone
A journey from the outset dooms
To settle seeker's throne

A thousand bowmen never miss
Sure in mark
Safe in arc
Each eye itself an arrow is
To pierce protective dark

A thousand horsemen full gallop
Steeds of state
Skins of plate
Infaust invaders swift to stop
A-routing out the gate

A thousand demons at the rear
Ghastly gaze
Breath of blaze
Entwine the shrine by sneer and jeer
And heal it in a haze

Enshrined inside: a mythic good
Most beseech
Few to reach
So seldom seen, oft understood
As "happiness" in speech

Just a poem to sum up my feelings as of late... I'm relieved I can still at least get those right, to a degree.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Stop, Exposition Time?

Fairly recently, I read a chapter in a book (not going to name it here) that quite literally consisted entirely of exposition delivered by a character in direct speech; it was not very short either, but rather trailed on an on page after page. Although it made sense for the character to be doing this, the whole thing felt dull and artificial, interrupting the action (which, up to that point, had been building up to something a lot more exciting) in favour of a monologue. But how does one handle such a situation properly anyway? Is there even a way to do that? Opinions likely differ, as on all story-telling devices, and I won't consider myself an "expert" on them, but here's what I feel is some decent advice about exposition.

As the old writing advice goes, "show, don't tell". Evidently, the most obvious way to handle exposition well is to not have it. If there is any way to demonstrate the information through events and "natural" dialogue instead of just blatantly spelling it out, then that usually works a whole lot better, as it does not interrupt the flow and leaves something for the reader to figure out and "work" to comprehend as a whole. "Time skips" to the past can be useful for this if the important event happened prior to the story's present, but care must be taken not to confuse the reader (unless you are deliberately trying to do so, which is rarely a good idea unless there's a very good reason for it); containing the past sequence within its own chapter may help, as it clearly separates it as a self-contained instance

Sometimes, however, there's just no practical way to show all the information that the reader requires. What is to be done when something absolutely needs to be delivered by a character? The most important thing to remember here is that such a segment is not you (the author) explaining things to the reader. What you have on your hands is a character who is talking in-story, likely to other characters. Let them talk as the character they are and let others react to what they are saying where applicable. Make sure lengthy exposition does not interrupt the flow of the story. No monologue is important enough to stop time, and if something else should be going on during it, make sure it does go on! Having the exposition interrupt an interesting scene completely is a surefire way of making the reader wish it were finally over or, in the worst cases, just skim through it in order to return to the action.

In monologues, do not forget to take advantage of the speaker's personality (if possible) to make what they are saying entertaining to read. Some people are good at semi-improvised story-telling; perhaps your character can wrap the information in an exciting tale in its own right (if they cannot do it by themselves, maybe they can read from a book-within-your-book that does a better job at dramatising the events in question), perhaps they can spice it up with their own remarks and humour. Whatever they do to make the explanations more bearable, make sure it fits the character and "sounds" like something that would realistically come out of their mouth. Never talk through your character as if you were mind-controlling them.

All in all, exposition is a tricky thing to do. However you decide to handle it, don't forget its primary purpose of helping the reader understand your story better; do not let boatloads of background knowledge overtake said story.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Ssalia and the Trailer of Avienot

As one might figure from the title, I made a trailer for Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot! This has actually been sitting on a shelf for a while, but I finally finished it up and uploaded it today. Pictures say more than a thousand words and videos consist of a lot of pictures, so without further ado, here it is:

This is a YouTube short url. No, really.

Almost every part of it was made by me, though some public domain samples were also used. Hope everyone enjoys, and if you'd like to support me and/or the book, please consider sharing the video!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Book Review: "Campaign of the Gods" by Mike Evers

I somewhat recently finished reading The Hopfield Tales: Campaign of the Gods by Mike Evers, having picked it up alongside several other (digital) books during a SmashWords promotion, so I thought I'd use the opportunity to write a quick review of it to share on my blog (in its core, I also put it on the book's SW page; this one is a bit more elaborate, but may contain minor spoilers). Though listed as children's Fantasy, the book promises time-travelling vikings and a battle against the forces of Hel, but can it live up to the expectations inspired by such concepts?

To a degree, it certainly can. While perhaps not the most epic of Fantasy stories, Campaign of the Gods is definitely one of a kind. Using wit, humour and action (as far as one can get away with it in a children's book and perhaps a little bit further), the author forges a unique blend of a viking myth and mundane modern Britain that does not take itself too seriously. The characters are likable enough and opportunities for portraying the absurdity of vikings in the modern day "Kingdom of York" are cheerfully seized, and the interactions of the Norse deities in the frame story were a welcome addition (but could have come into play a bit more). Sadly, I felt that the initially very promising plot began to stagger towards the end - not to the point of becoming entirely unenjoyable, but a slight decline in quality was apparent and the action seemed to lose focus a bit. Once the premise is set up, the book does not offer many new surprises, further hampered by an ending that feels like not much was really accomplished. Another thing that bothers me is the wolf Fenrir, who, after his dramatic introduction, seems to spend the entirety of the book not really doing much. More could and should have been done with the setup at the end, but I felt that the book ran out of steam towards the climax, which is a shame.

Something to be noted is the book's educational aspect; every chapter begins with one or two appropriately concise paragraphs about a historical or mythical concept or personage related to vikings, and a few other things are explained in the text itself. While there isn't much new to learn for someone moderately versed in viking lore and some liberties were taken with the in-story norsemen (notably the infamous horned helmets, which are popularly connected with vikings, but were probably never worn by them; it's a shame because the book could have taken the opportunity to clear up this common misconception), it does make for an interesting gateway to the viking world.

(If you missed the initial link and don't want to scroll up, this book can be found on SmashWords here.)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Lanschilandia comic page: A Spoony Experience, pg. 13

I finally had the chance to update my webcomic, Tails of Lanschilandia, again. I don't know if this marks a return to somewhat more frequent updates, but probably not. There's a lot of other things I need to waste spend my time on, and I am not exceptionally motivated to work on the comic at this time.

Here's the page!

I am contemplating if I should announce all future updates to the comic on this blog (in addition to my Google+ and the webcomic's Twitter account). It gives me the ability to say stuff about each page, but I may not always have anything relevant to say and people may not care much either, especially if they come to this blog for my indie Fantasy writing.

I had some trouble with this page for some reason and it took way more effort than it should have. I like most of the line art here, though, so I'm thinking it may have been worth it. I don't enjoy drawing line art at such a low resolution very much and will probably switch to a better method once this story is done (I would have done so mid-story, but the difference in art may be too jarring). I am enjoying the exaggerated expressions and emotions on this page and how Kakralomino defies the panel border in panel six. The second-to-last panel had to be mirrored because I drew Bad Bat's scar on the wrong side of his head and didn't want to redraw it, as it was already coloured by the point I noticed it. The inside of Kakra's chamber has inexplicably changed after page 11, but background consistency is for... people who pay more attention to it.

Enjoy the comic page!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Terran Creatures in Alien Worlds

No matter how fantastical and strange a work is, Earth's creatures, real and mythical, somehow tend to find their way into many, many Fantasy worlds. From mundane animals like horses to the mythical "classics" like dragons, they all pop up ever so often in universes otherwise very much unlike ours. So how can terran species and mythical creatures exist in such worlds?

Suspension of disbelief may be required, though worlds may also be able to get away with it by picking up on the theory of alternate Earths or just explaining it away with magic. The approach I have taken with my Pelsatia universe is mainly a linguistic one: I identify my creatures with similar, but not identical, beings known (to some degree) on earth (the snakes, dragons, katoblepa, etc. in my works all are identified as such for this reason). The idea is to give readers a basic concept of the creature in question or aspects of it, perhaps even a clear mental image, without even having to describe it, as well as preventing having to use a potentially clunky name from one of Pelsatia's languages. In a way, such identification can even be considered a translation; in absence of a word for the exact thing or concept in question, the closest term is used instead (which is a lot less strange than it sounds, as even on Earth, not everything has a direct equivalent in every language and translations may need to rely on this (or keep the original word intact, which would not really translate it at all)). It does not always work, but when it does, I believe it tends to work really well, and maybe other works can benefit from a similar approach.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Inspiring Music for Fantasy

To me, there's nothing more inspiring when writing Fantasy, painting or drawing Fantasy-type scenes or doing anything else related to Fantasy than Celtic or Celtic-style folk music. Ever since I discovered it (and amplified by an obscure fan-made RPG adaption of Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three that I remember playing, which used this kind of music as its soundtrack; Bast knows where I found that game or who made it), it has been inspiring the way I think and feel about Fantasy. There is something about it that just embodies the kinds of Fantasy worlds I love and all that I like about them.

So, as I currently don't have anything else to post, I am sharing with you a well-tried but not necessarily well-known source of Celtic MIDIs (which I discovered many years ago via a MIDI search engine) and the source of at least 90% of the folk MIDIs I like to listen to when in need of inspiration, Ron Clarke's website on his "Tadpole Tunes" and other Celtic MIDIs:

Click me, I'm a link!

For those too spoilt by better quality audio, there's a nice free program called JetAudio to enhance the sound of MIDIs (with some options for customisation), which also works as a general audio (and some formats of video) player and converter and is highly recommended. (Tadpole Tunes provides some songs in other audio formats, but from what I can tell, they don't use real instruments and may not sound very different from MIDI playback.) Maybe some other Fantasy authors (or artists, role players, or whoever else may be inspired by Celtic folk) can benefit from this little treasure trove.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Pelsatia Character Spotlight: Ssalia

I like believe I have created some acceptably decent characters for my Pelsatia books, so for quite a while, I have been wanting to talk about a few of them a bit on this blog. Not quite such a while ago, I decided I'm going to do so in form of a "character spotlight" like this one. The spotlight features a (very) short paragraph of information and a quick "interview" with Ssalia, the protagonist of my currently published book (would love to incorporate reader questions in interviews, but am currently rather lacking in non-imaginary readers). More are likely to come, though only time will tell when and what characters they will focus on (I shall be patiently waiting for time to inform me of these things). Be wary of spoilers (though no major ones are in this one, as far as I can tell) and enjoy!

Ssalia was born to Sserena (daughter of Ssama and Kremet) and Talahan (son of Elana and Hanan), simple vegetable farmers making their home in the small village of Kerem, on the northern edge of the kingdom of Sserendon in southern Asakors. Since the age of eight, she has been visiting the village school of neighbouring Rinik. Though she enjoys doing "normal" things like reading, helping with the harvest and playing with her younger brother Kalan and her friend and schoolmate Alira, Ssalia is infamous not only in her home village but also neighbouring villages and towns for her peculiar adventures and exploits, the latest of which has taken her all across a whole different continent.

Interviewer: What is your role in Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot?
Ssalia, daughter of Sserena and Talahan: Well, I'm the main character! The heroine, you could say, though I don't know how heroic the things I have done are. I wrote the original global tongue version of the book as an account of my own journey; a kind of travelouge, you could say, though I think it's also a lot more than that!
Interviewer: It does sound exciting. Do you intend to go on all these strange adventures you have had so far, or do some of them just happen?
Ssalia: I would like to say they are all planned, but in truth, it's more like they are calling out to me, and I also to get into a lot of odd situations without meaning to. And, um, I get curious sometimes... (giggles) I had no idea what I was getting into with my latest one, though!
Interviewer: The journeys you have been on sound rather perilous, especially for someone your age. Do you worry a lot about these dangers when you undertake them?
Ssalia: Well, I like to think I'm fairly brave when it comes to such things, though I do worry sometimes. Actually, I am probably very lucky to be alive today! If it had not been for... a certain few people, I'm fairly certain at least one of my trips would not have ended well for me. I'm currently not sure if I am going to undertake anything of that scale again!
Interviewer: I am sure you have a lot to thank your friends for.
Ssalia: (nods) In fact, I'm not sure how to thank them enough. They have done a lot for me; even some... not so good friends I found during my journey have done more than I could thank them for.
Interviewer: Sounds like some good friendships were forged during that adventure. Anything else you wish to tell our readers?
Ssalia: I'd like to, if I may. Don't let what other people say get you down! Believe in yourself. Goals aren't always as far as you may think if you just reach out for them.
Interviewer: Alright, thank you for the interview, Ssalia!
Ssalia: (drops a curtsey) My pleasure! It's been fun.

If you liked or disliked this spotlight, feel free to leave a comment! (If you don't care about it and are just succumbing to a compulsive urge to haphazardly comment on arbitrary blog posts, feel free to do that as well.)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Illustrations of Pelsatia?

For quite a while now, potential illustrations in my books, and in Fantasy books in general, are something I have been agonising about. Some books have them, others do not; it's mainly those for younger audiences that do, at least in great amounts. As it's also mainly the latter that are inspiring my own works of literature, should my own books set in Pelsatia not have illustrations as well? The truth is, it has been tempting, and done right, illustrations can look really neat; the other truth is that they can insert something into the reader's head that messes with their own imagination, which can be especially drastic if the illustrations were done by the book's author and could thus be seen as "canonical". The way I draw my characters is by no means intended as the canonical and definite way they must look (which actually wouldn't make much sense, as my drawings are way too cartoony), but it may still influence the way people think of the characters, which is unfortunate. But should I take this risk and add illustrations, potentially adding something neat to the books, or should I play it safe and avoid illustrations wherever possible or limit them to my online art galleries? Would more people be interested in a (young adult) Fantasy book that boasts illustrations than one without? At the moment, I really don't know and feedback will be very welcome.

Some of my current illustrations (mostly of dragon characters from Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot) can be found on my deviantART account. If I draw any for books, they would be more detailled than those, most likely without colour and in full-page format.

Friday, 19 April 2013

5 Considerations to Make a Culture Come Alive

In my last post, I talked about avoiding the "Planet of Hats" effect in Fantasy species by creating distinct cultures with traits based on their location, history and influences rather than simply the dominant species. But what are some aspects that can be used to make a culture distinct? What are some considerations to make when creating a fictional culture? Some are obvious, others are all too frequently ignored; all can add an interesting and unique note to the culture in question. Below are a few ideas (to be regarded as examples, not a comprehensive list) that have occurred to me while planning out Pelsatia's cultures and peoples and which may help authors who are trying to add some spice to a fictional culture in their setting without simply copying one of Earth's civilisations.

  1. Language: This seems like an obvious one, but is still often ignored as a cultural aspect and replaced with one language spoken by the whole species. Languages are probably one of the most diverse aspects of culture; consider not only Earth's languages, but also dialects, and you will see that a great potential for diversity exists even within the same culture. If you are looking to create new languages for a setting, such potential should not be ignored.

    Consider the culture's history, location and influences here. Languages can assimilate one another over time, so the languages of cultures that have coexisted in the same region for a long time are often similar or at least influenced by one another in some manner (think loanwords). Conversely, when groups of individuals even from the same culture are separated in some way, their languages can grow apart, especially with limited communication between such groups. Also consider the importance of specific other cultures in the target culture's history; it is likely that an influential other culture's language has had a particularly large influence on that of the culture in question. Consider formalities as well; a peasant is likely to speak in a different manner than a ruler. What kind of language is considered formal, what is colloquial, and to what degree? There may be polite forms to be used in certain situation, and there may be contractions and dialectal variations used in informal, everyday communication especially by the lower castes.

    A lot can factor into the development of languages; as with other aspects, taking a look at Earth's history can yield a lot of inspiration.

  2. Architecture: Another obvious one, but often generalised for an entire species, if any individuality exists at all. Consider the conditions that the culture needs to face, what materials they have available and whether their building style might have been influenced by that of a neighbouring culture. Don't forget that architecture can be an art in addition to being practical! Infrastructure also plays a role; the ancient Romans were famous for their road building and water supply networks. Not every culture needs a completely unique style of architecture, but there is a lot of potential for creativity here.

  3. Music: Some form of music exists in virtually all of Earth's cultures, but is frequently ignored in fictional ones. If the culture possesses instruments, think about what kind of instruments they may have access to (available materials can also influence this). Consider what kind of music can be made with these instruments and what role it plays within the culture's society. Is music carefully composed or spontaneous, and is the general sound and emotion valued more than memorable melodies? Is making music a group activity where many people get involved? Do people commonly sing, and if they do, what may they sing about? Different castes may have different music; perhaps certain instruments are only available to wealthy individuals and used for playing carefully crafted music, while common people prefer to sing and dance in a less strict manner?

  4. Food: As proven by Earth's cultures, a culture's cuisine can be one of its most distinct and varied aspects, with diversity existing even within the same culture! Keep in mind what kind of food is readily available in the respective region and/or what can possibly be imported. The majority of available ingredients will likely be used in some way, but be aware that the rarer and/or exotic kinds are prone to be more expensive or otherwise problematic to obtain and will not find as much use in common people's food. Consider what kinds of flavours may be preferred, what the people are particularly skilled at preparing, whether there is anything that they will not eat for ethical or similar reasons and their general relationship to food. Is eating sometimes a community activity? Under what conditions, and what kinds of food are eaten? What importance does the visual presentation have? What manners and traditions related to preparing and eating food are valued?

    Don't forget that this is one of the few aspects that can be influenced greatly by the primary species that the culture is made up of; be aware of what the creatures in question are able to chew and digest without ill effects (and would thus even consider "food" to begin with) and whether there are any special needs in their diet.

  5. Holidays: Important dates and celebrations are ubiquitous in all cultures, yet creators of Fantasy worlds like to forget about them. Think about not only the culture's history, but also its view of the world. What has happened in their past that they are proud of or would like to remember? What do they believe, what do they value? What natural phenomena affect their society? These are all good reasons for holidays and festivities to be established. Also consider what may be done on those days and how people get involved; perhaps different castes celebrate differently, or maybe in celebrating, everyone is equal for one day. Mayhap different local traditions exist.

These are by far not all the ways that an individual note can be added to a culture or civilisation (others include more obvious and commonly utilised aspects such as politics, ethical considerations and general entertainment, which I will not examine in detail), but can go a long way in making them believable and truly come alive to make the world they exist in so much more fun to visit and explore, for readers and writers alike.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A Call Against Hats

Fictional civilised species have long been a staple of many worlds and universes. Whether it's the "classics" like orcs and dwarfs or something more inventive, the potential for creativity in presenting their very own cultures, viewpoints and physical oddities is practically infinite. Fictional cultures can simultaneously evoke both familiarity and alienness and make for a very interesting experience as readers get to know them, see the world from their perspective and discover almost "real" civilisations that interact and brave the world's challenges in their own, unique way. Sadly, not many works utilise such potential to its fullest; more often than not, an entire fictional species ends up monocultural and possibly speaking the same language, even if it spans an entire planet (TV Tropes calls this a Planet of Hats, hence the title). Even when not taken to its hive-mind extremes, this is not only very silly and immersion-breaking when one thinks about it (cultural uniformity over vast areas is particularly unlikely in Fantasy settings with limited to no methods of globalisation), but also limits the diversity of the world in question unless a ridiculously large number of civilised species is created. Why not follow humanity's example and grant fictional civilisations some cultural and linguistic diversity (and individuals some individuality)?

Even in the most generic Fantasy world, not every dwarf needs to be a miner or blacksmith obsessed with beards and beer, and not every group of dwarfs needs to value such things by tradition. For this example, consider the traits that make a dwarf identifiable as a member of their species; they are likely one of the shortest civilised species in the respective universe, may be relatively squat and may have a tendency to grow long beards. They may also have other common or ever-present traits (unrelated to their culture). Is a dwarf with these features still a dwarf if it leads a rural farming life in warmer climates and speaks an eloquent tongue rich in vowel phonemes? Of course it is, as species does not define viewpoint, culture or traditions, especially for a species with advanced enough mental capabilities to form what we consider civilisation. When creating a fictional civilisation, consider its location, what its history might be, what influences and problems it may deal or have dealt with, what aspects of other cultures it may have absorbed. When creating a character, consider where and how they grew up, who or what may have influenced them and how they as an individual feel about things, not what species they belong to.

Even with a common origin, cultures and languages can and do drift apart and gain a unique identity, and while sympathy and familiarity may exist between members of the same species, "species" and "culture" are by no means the same (nor are "species" and "personality"), as real life has been demonstrating in great detail since long before recorded history and continues to demonstrate even in this age of globalisation. But only when even a civilisation of orcs or trolls can find a cultural and linguistical identity of its own and bring forth free-thinking individuals will fiction have conquered the Planet of Hats.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Adventures in Pelsatian Pronunciation

After encountering some creative approaches at pronouncing names from my book, including its very title, it has occurred to me that, spelt in an unmodified Latin alphabet, pronunciations can be extremely vague. What can be done about that? Should every Fantasy work have a pronunciation guide appended to it? If the author values that everything be pronounced the way they intended, possibly. One of my early ideas for Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot was to do just that — unfortunately, I ended up omitting it from the final book (I would like to pretend I had a good reason to do so, but I believe I simply forgot to write it), which I am starting to regret as I'm a big fan of linguistics and pronouncing things properly. So what's a poor author to do? Create a second edition with notes attached? Possibly, but because I am cheap like that, I'm just going to be using my blog instead. Using IPA approximations, here's how to pronounce some of the more problematic names from the book, for all the poor souls who have ever wondered how on earth to say these out loud:
  • Avienot: ˈaː-vje-nɔt
  • Kalan: ˈka-laːn
  • Khârod: ˈkχaː-ʀɔd
  • Ssalia: ˈsal-jaː
  • Tia’regon: ˈtja-ʁe-gɔn
  • Varog’niev: va-ˈʁɔg-ni-jɛv
  • Vellisia: vɛl-ˈliː-zi-jaː
  • Viola: ˈvjɔ-la
And now, go and impress your friends by pronouncing fun stuff correctly, like the title of the book. More pronunciations may be covered in a future post if there is need or interest (peradventure even both!).

Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Future of Pelsatia and What's to Come

I have been asked this by a few of the equally few people to actually have read my debut novel (Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot), so I decided to make a statement here. Am I going to write more books set in my "Pelsatia" universe? Definitely. Are they going to feature Ssalia, the protagonist of my first book? Most likely not. So what is to come?

Well, more books (when I stop being lazy and actually finish them), but not necessarily with a direct (or even indirect) connection to what I've written so far. I like universes that have room for multiple books, but I also like stand-alone stories. I am not a supporter of making readers purchase an entire series of books to be able to understand what is going on in the latest one (regardless of how that would help my finances). So what to do instead? Use what is there to weave new tales, no doubt. There is a lot more to Pelsatia than is seen in Dragons of Avienot, lingering among a mess of various notes and documents (and the even greater mess that is my head) and waiting to be used. I don't trust that I can ever show it all in books, at least not the kind I am primarily aiming for. The two I am sporadically working on don't show any notable amount of it. So what's next when a Fantasy world is too big for its own books?

Encyclopædiæ? Dictionaries? Travel guides? Cookbooks?* I am not excluding any of those, and it may very well be that some of the trivia and unimportant side stories find their way onto this blog (or perhaps into drawings?). I do have plans to get things out there, even if not in the form of Fantasy adventure novels. Whatever its future, my hopes are that the setting is going to live on for a while to come.

(*Ever wondered about those "over a hundred traditional Avienotian dishes containing crag beetles"?)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Humans in Fantasy

Out of the "standard", recurring species in Fantasy, humans are probably the most common. No matter whether it's a distant planet, an alternate Earth or some magical world without a clearly defined nature or location, most Fantasy universes feature humans. The usual reason provided is that the reader is meant to identify with them, but is there truth in that? Do readers require a human character to identify with? For millennia, stories have featured characters that may behave in familiar manners, yet clearly are not human (think Aesop's fables); in more recent times, this has become especially noticable in children's or otherwise family friendly fiction/media. Are characters like Donald Duck, Paddington Bear or the Muppets impossible to identify with because they are not human? Most would disagree, and that is where, in my opinion, the reasoning falls flat.

Why is it, then, that so many Fantasy universes include humans? Are writers too lazy to invent a new species? In some cases, possibly. But humans also tend to stand in for the average "Joe Bloggs" species that is juxtaposed with the more peculiar creatures, as they as a species/culture usually have few to no traits one would consider special or notable. But do fantastical creatures necessarily require something "normal" to be compared to within the same world in order to be perceived as fantastical? Readers are already familiar with humans; do they need an in-story reminder to compare these characters or creatures to what they know in real life? A lot of potential exists in non-human species and characters (and their viewpoints) that a lot of Fantasy sadly does not fully touch upon, even when some of the most commonly recognised great ancestors and paradigms of modern (epic) Fantasy J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion lead with a shining example in their (strong, though not exclusive) focus on Eä's "Hobbits", elves and other non-humans.

One of my major reasons for creating my Pelsatia world was to establish an extensive Fantasy world that does not rely on humans, and the absence of the latter is probably one of the things I like most about the universe I have created, as it emphasises the fantastical and non-mundane. In my opinion, more writers of Fantasy should dare to truly leave reality behind and shift the focus to a species not found in our everyday lives, encouraging imagination in the way a lot of children's media already does but too many works for older audiences do not have the courage to embrace.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

So This Indie Writer Got One of Those Blog Thingamabobs

Hallo there. Tammy Spahn here, an indie Fantasy writer/artist/composer/oddball you have likely never heard of, and this is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Because all the cool kids have one, or so I have heard.

Of course, its mere existence already raises an important question: what will my humble self be blogging about? My Fantasy writing endeavours? That webcomic that I used to actually update between blue moons? The macroscopic morphology of mushrooms? Something else entirely? So far, I think I can safely say that the answer is... yes.

And that is that.