A Little Bit of News…

Hey all!

A quick update…

First, I’m still working on the short story ‘Velvet and Silk, Russet and Gray’ and making progress. I wrote all night long last night, the first time I’ve been able to do that in quite a long time. It felt great!

Second, I’ve made some changes to some working titles. ‘Vengeance of The Chosen’ will now be called ‘Annals of The Chosen’, with its first book titled Advent of The Chosen; and ‘No Redemption for the Wicked’ will now be called ‘The Grey Covenant’, and its first book will be called A Flowering Darkness. The changes have been made throughout the website already, but if I’ve missed any instances, please let me know.

Thanks for all the support!

A new page has been added! It’s Kingdom Feudalism 101!

Hello all!

That’s right! I’ve added a new page to the Chalandris section of the website: Feudalism in the Kingdom. I go into great detail about the unique feudal society of the Kingdom of Arvedia (a name subject to change, thank goodness!), providing a rich background for the society that will form the setting for most of the stories I write about Chalandris. Take a look and sink your teeth into the meaty goodness of ‘Arvedian’ Feudalism!

Hope you all enjoy it!

Tristan

Consolidating New and Old Ideas into a Cohesive Whole

Hello, all!

First, an update. I am still working on a short story. The working title is ‘Velvet and Silk, Russett and Grey’, and guess what? I have a male protagonist! Woohoo!! His name is Nicholas Steadwell and I think he’s the kind of guy people will take a liking to. The story’s still early in the plotting stages, though. I haven’t even started a draft of it. But it is progressing forward, albeit slowly.

Now, I want to add that I believe I have settled upon what Chalandris’ solar system will be. It will consist of a single star, much like our own, named Gideon. Around this star will orbit a number of planets. One of these planets will fall within the star’s ‘Habitable Zone’. This planet will be a large, gaseous planet, similar to our Neptune, called Belial. Orbiting this planet will be a large, earth-sized moon with an atmosphere – Chalandris.

Sunset, as seen from the surface of a habitable moon of a gas-giant.

Sunset, as seen from the surface of a habitable moon of a gas-giant.
Credit: H. Giguere, M. Giguere/Yale University

Because my ‘creation myth’ for Chalandris is heavily dependent upon such things as this, I now need to rewrite that myth, which is a shame because it was some pretty good stuff, if I do say so myself. But that’s okay; it will make everything better, I’m sure.

Still plodding forward, my erstwhile friends. Thanks for keeping the faith!

Chalandris from space?

I’ve been doing some thinking about how to make Chalandris unique in the vast milieu of fantasy worlds. In keeping with my penchant for allegory, I’ve been trying to consider the implications of a binary solar system, what effect that would have on life and how it is experienced by the denizens of such a planet. Generally, days would be longer and weather would be less predictable, even if the two suns are orbiting each other very closely and one of the suns is weak compared to the other.

While doing research on this, I encountered the following CGI video of just such a binary system recently discovered by astronomers:

The system, located in the constellation of Cygnus in our sky, is composed of two suns, one large and white and the other smaller and yellow-orange in color, orbited by two planets. The closer planet is too close to be habitable, but the outer planet is within the system’s ‘habitable zone'; very exciting stuff! Now, the planets in this particular system are both gaseous and uninhabitable on that account, but if they were rocky planets like Earth, they could potentially support life if other conditions were met.

This video is very helpful to me because it helps me to envision what conditions might be like on such a planet. What would their daytime and nighttime skies look like? What would their annual seasons be like? Would their seasons even necessarily be annual?? Lots of stuff to ponder!

It’s World-building! It’s Fun! :-) Dare to dream…

The Evolution of Chalandris

Hey all,

While doing some thinking on the two novel series I have planned for the Chalandris setting, I noticed a problem. As most of you likely know, I have two primary central characters and originally I was going to have both of them share the spotlight in a single novel series, but then thought better of it, deciding it would be better to treat the story differently by splitting it into two parts with each central character having their own series, allowing me to focus upon each of them in their own story. Once I made that decision, it felt right. It still does.

The plan I came up with was to start with Kara’s story. As the first of the stories I conceived, it only made sense. It was while dreaming up Kara’s story that I had conceived of the setting of Chalandris in the first place. Serena’s story occurred to me later, after the outline of Kara’s story was practically done. The problem I noticed, though, is that the two stories are very different from each other. Not a problem in and of itself; in fact, that’s a good thing. But the problem is that the scope of Kara’s story is huge – in fact, it would be fair to describe the scope as “epic”, where the fate of the world could possibly hang in the balance. Serena’s story, by contrast, is much more intimate, more of a personal saga. By now, most of you see the problem. Going from a sweeping novel series, huge in scope, to a smaller, more intimate story in the same setting, will quite literally feel smaller.

So, I’m going to set Serena’s story first in the timeline and write the first installment of it. Then, I’ll continue as I shop for an agent and publisher. Maybe I’ll get to Kara’s story before I get published. If so, fine.

I know many of you will like this news. Some of you professed a preference for Serena’s story. The intimacy of her story really seemed to resonate with some of you, and I’m happy that the result of my continued thinking will be a shift in my attention to her. Also, it will allow me to introduce the setting of Chalandris and get the reader well-familiar with the setting before I start tearing things apart in Kara’s story.

Short stories and Nursery rhymes…

World-building.

As a writer, no matter what sort of world you’re building, the chances are pretty high that your world has children in it. They may not become part of your story, but they almost certainly exist nonetheless. And so, part of the culture of your world will be devoted to those children, and that culture had better be part of your story, even if the children themselves never appear on the page.

That’s why I am about to write a nursery rhyme.

No, I’ve never done this before and I’m pretty sure I haven’t a clue what I’m getting myself into; but I’m about to dive in, nonetheless. I’m actually going to read nursery rhymes to get an idea of the feel of them: common uses of meter, typical metaphors used, that sort of thing. Then, I’m going to take the seed of an idea that sprang out of one of the character treatments I posted recently and attempt to write a nursery rhyme that could conceivably have been inspired by the event.

It’s very unlikely that any of this will end up as part of my story, of course. After all, I’m trying to write dark tales in a fantastic and gothic setting. Children might appear in the story, but I’ll be taking to care to keep them as part of the tragic background and a dim sense of hope for a brighter future. The nursery rhyme will serve to simply add to my understanding of the world I’m writing.

I posted this in the hope that it might serve to be helpful to others of you who might be struggling with some aspect of world-building. The answer, as it is in most cases, is to write.

It’s daring! It’s exciting!! It’s… a MAKEOVER!!!

LOOK!!! Isn’t it something?

You know, I’ve had people ask me for a while now to switch to dark type on a light background citing the scheme as easier to read than light type on a dark background. While I never disputed the assertion that my chosen color scheme was more difficult to read, I did stubbornly persist in using it simply because I liked it better. I still do.

What prompted the change was a dear friend from high school made a comment on my Facebook page making the suggestion once more.

I suddenly realized that, while yes, this is in fact MY website – and yes, I certainly can make my website however I jolly-well please – if a significant number of people are making the same suggestion, it’s probably either stupid, arrogant, or both, to simply ignore that. At the end of the day, I want you all to want to come to my website and I want you to read what I post here. If a simple change like color scheme will make visiting my site more pleasant, then I’m being an utter fool to hang onto a contrary convention simply because I like it.

So, that’s what led to the change and I do hope that you all see it as an improvement. I have the most loyal supporters a writer could ask for and I can’t thank you enough for your limitless patience.

Up next… (Or, “What the heck is he up to NOW?”)

Hey all!

Even though I did fall off my steady writing schedule in recent weeks, they managed to bear some unexpected fruit:

To explain, I need to back up a little and tell y’all what my views have been regarding the short story as a writing format. One of the first observations I made when I started to learn about the craft of writing was that the short story form is without doubt the most demanding of all. The demands on the writer regarding such things as word economy, pacing, characterization, are lofty in the extreme. With the short story format, the margin for error is literally ZERO.

That’s why, whenever I would read recommendations from published authors that aspiring novelists should begin by writing short stories, it sounded wrong to me. Why on earth would I begin with the most difficult format for the written story? Isn’t that backwards? Shouldn’t I start with a format that’s a little more forgiving and then work my way up to the hardest form?

As I was working on my most recent character treatment, it suddenly (and seemingly out of nowhere) occurred to me that I did indeed have it wrong and that I should have taken the advice from those published authors at face value. The truth of it is that, if you’re an aspiring novelist, you don’t write short stories for the purpose of writing great short stories – and you certainly don’t write them because they’re easier to write. If you’re an aspiring novelist, you write short stories for the same reason that runners run with weighted shoes and baseball players practice their swing with heavier bats than they’ll be using in the batter’s box. If you want to improve your craft – ANY craft – practice at the most demanding level possible. So, if you want to write the best possible novels you can write, practice by writing short stories explicitly because they ARE harder to write.

If you can learn how to pace a short story; if you can learn how to develop characterization and plot with the level of word economy required of the short story format – and learn to do it CONSISTENTLY – then you will find that your writing skills will have improved to the point that, once you start working on that rough draft of your novel, the plotting and pacing will be tight, the characterizations clear and succinct, and the overall word economy will be good, allowing you to focus more on the structure of your novel and how you’re telling your story – which is right where your focus should be.

I told you all of that to tell you this…

In addition to the character treatments I’ve been writing for the Chalandris setting, I am going to start working on writing some short stories for the setting, as well. I already have one in mind, in fact, and I can’t wait to get started on it. Because the short story is a publishable form, I won’t be posting them online, but I will make them available privately for those who are interested in reading them (assuming that doing so won’t adversely affect their ability to be published in the future – perhaps one of you folks in the know can tell me if I’m correct in that assumption).

New “Letter from Chalandris”: Sir Steffan, Steward to the Duncans of Chester

Hey all, finally finished Sir Steffan’s letter.

Enjoy!

Wednesday’s “Letter from Chalandris”: Ernie – “The Great Ernesto”

Hey all,

Before I get into today’s “Letter from Chalandris” I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to me about yesterday’s blog post. They say that pursuing a career in writing can be mentally and emotionally challenging, and I suppose there’s some truth to that. My present life circumstances are ideally suited to the purpose of making me feel like a piece of crap. My natural sense of hopeful optimism is usually more than sufficient to overcome that effect, but on occasion the heat gets turned up a bit and my defenses crumble. That happened to me Sunday evening and, with the help of a dear friend or two and your helpful encouragement, I am starting to feel somewhat better. I’m not 100% yet, and I may never be, but today I’m better enough to finish the writing I was working on, and that makes it good enough.

Speaking of which, today’s “Letter from Chalandris” is Ernie, and is posted. He’s an interesting guy and I think folks will like him.