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

Hey all, finally finished Sir Steffan’s letter.



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.

Tomb, Sweet Tomb…

Hey all,

Had a great time at the campout this weekend; it was a great and highly memorable experience. Now I’m home and feeling… hmmm… refreshed? No… Rejuvenated? Nope. Disgust and self-loathing? Now we’re getting warm.

Seriously, there’s nothing like having a fantastic time with an amazing group of people, living wild and free in the great outdoors, sharing laughter and so much more, to remind me of the unfathomable wonders of life and the  limitless joys attainable by the divine creature that is man. And there is nothing quite like coming home from such a trip to reconnect with all the things I left behind to realize that it was the lumbering weariness and dreariness of my world that had driven me out and into the peaceful embrace of nature’s bosom in the first place.

As I drove home, my world literally shrank and closed in around me. From limitless expanse to planetary jewel to country, to my state, crossing county lines to return to my own, passing the sign that declared “Welcome to Largo”, then entering my neighborhood, then my house, followed by the abrupt realization that my entire life is smaller still, and crammed into a dark ten-foot-by-twelve-foot box.

It was a little too much. I’m angry. Not the boiling madness of outrage, but the simmering biliousness of bitter disgust. I feel trapped. Enslaved. My fetters are invisible, silent, and weigh on my soul. slowly crushing the life out of me. Every joy I experienced this weekend was snuffed out like a candle; every good word now rings hollow and empty, stripped of all worth – just like me.

The old question returns with vengeance: What good am I?

I don’t want to break out of this box. As much as I loathe it, I need it, and I loathe myself for needing it. I don’t want out of it. I don’t want to be free. Just draw the box around me tighter, squeeze everything that is my life together, ever tighter, until it all collapses around me, there is nothing left, and perhaps the best I can hope for is to give the universe a small flash of dim light as I wink out of existence and trouble it no more.

Friday’s ‘Letter from Chalandris’: Nelson

Hey all! Greetings from camp! 🙂

Well no, not really. As I expected, there’s no internet on-site so I drove into town this morning to post last night’s writing. (We do have limited electricity, so I was able to write last night, thankfully.)

So, last night I wrote about Nelson, and a good-hearted lad he is, too. Very likeable. He was pleasant to write. Another child of misfortune like Landa and Rose. Between Jormund’s Rebellion and Carrack’s Uprising, it seems like there’s a lot of discontent in the kingdom so I’ll need to figure out why that is. It could be something as incidental as a weak central authority in the north part of the kingdom, or it could be something a bit more significant. Time will tell, so stay tuned as I figure it out.

New ‘Letter from Chalandris’: Landa

I’m a little late. Sorry.

Got in late last night, was too tired to write. Got up as early as I could and got right to work. I went ahead and wrote a little about Landa.

Now I need to get ready to go out of town a ways. I’m not likely to have internet where I’m going, so if I’m not posting that’ll be why. But I’ll still be writing, and I’ll have four more to post by noon Monday if I can’t post beforehand.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Who would you like to hear from next?

Hey everyone!

I’d like to know who you would like to hear from in the next “Letter from Chalandris“. I’ve included the rest of the traveling players that Kara meets outside Porter’s Grove, but feel free to include anyone you’d like to hear from. I’ll keep the poll active and update it daily. I’m encouraging people to tell me who they are curious about because that will help me to now where I need to focus, although I may not necessarily choose the most popular choice every time.

Thanks, everyone!

Who’s Next?

New Letter from Chalandris: Meet Chastain

Hello everyone!

Two in a row!

I know this one is a bit short, but some characters are just a bit more tight-lipped, and that says something about them, too. And so we have Chastain, probably the least verbose member of ‘The Great Ernesto’s” traveling troupe of players. But as you’ll see, the story Chastain tells depends a great deal on who he’s talking to.

The First “Letter from Chalandris”: Meet Hyacinth Baker

Hello everyone!

Well, I’m off to a good start! That’s right, one-in-a-row! 🙂

The character’s name is Hyacinth Baker, also called “Rose”, and she has already taught me a great deal about her little corner of Chalandris. I am so stoked now to see how this process continues. This is just awesome!

Now, since I’ve been writing for nearly eight hours out of the past twelve, I’m going to make my eyes go dark.

New: Letters from Chalandris – and a plea for help

In my last post where I was questioning how to go about building my world, Sheryl Winters posted a great idea and I’m going to use it:

So, I will be introducing:

Letters from Chalandris

I’m not sure how to structure it yet, but I’m just going to write about Chalandris from the perspective of various characters, starting with minor characters first. I will create a new section on the website for these and post them for folks to read if they wish. They will be inconsistent for a couple of reasons. Some of the characters will be ‘unreliable narrators’, meaning that, for them, it will be more important to relate information in a way that benefits them personally than to tell the unvarnished truth. Think of how politicians act when they are fearful of being caught in a scandal and you’ll have a good idea of what that’s about. Another reason is that different characters will view the same people, places, and events differently, based upon their personal relationships, histories, prejudices, and other biases. Another thing that will create inconsistency will be that, as I continue this exercise, Chalandris itself will acquire greater breadth and depth as increasing levels of detail are fabricated, sometimes rendering previous installments obsolete. As this is a world-building exercise, it will rarely be productive to go back and edit previous installments to make them consistent on that basis. I will simply note the differences in my project notes and continue on.

To speed the process along, I’m going to do my best to write something every day and post the results on the following day. I’m going to treat each day as a firm deadline to try to develop some discipline that I have been lacking thus far. All writers go through periods when the words just don’t come. My reaction so far has been to whine to myself about it and focus on other things until the muse returns. This simply will not do. If I’m to make this a career I need to develop the discipline that will allow me to meet deadlines because, let’s face it: if some major publisher were to send me a contract today for a five-book deal providing say, five books in five to seven years, I’d be a fool to sign it. I just haven’t acquired the writing skills required to meet any reasonable deadlines and it’s just not fair to treat a publisher (or an agent, editor, etc.) in that fashion; very unprofessional. If I want this to be a career, then I must develop a professional-level skill set.

So, I’m going to ask you to hold me accountable. Keep my feet held hard against the fire. Pester the bejeezus out of me if I’m not posting on time every day (12:00 noon, US Eastern Daylight time {GMT -4}, weekends excluded). I absolutely need this. I know it, every one of you knows it, and I’m asking for help.

Thank you.

Visualizing a Whole World – Dos and Don’ts?

Hey everyone,

I know that a lot of authors have done just fine with developing only that part of their fantasy world that they need to have in order to tell the story they want to tell. Tolkein’s Middle-earth is an obvious example, as is Feist’s Midkemia and Kelewan (that’s two worlds for Feist, both only partially shown), and a more recent example is George R. R. Martin’s unnamed fantasy world where five books into the series we know the continent of Westeros very well and Essos relatively well, but there are obviously parts of that world even farther to the east (and possibly to the south) that we still haven’t yet seen. I suppose that’s fine if you know at the outset exactly what the full arc of your story is going to be, but I need Chalandris to be a setting that will enable me to tell stories that I haven’t had the slightest spark of inspiration about yet.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what Chalandris needs to be, and while I know it’s a little dangerous, I’m going to brainstorm a little bit here. First of all, I see Chalandris as a world with a bright and glorious history, a history filled with heroes who have arisen during times of crisis to set things right. But at the beginning of the very first novel, those attributes are relegated to a long-ago age, a world that is now deeply lost. Secondly, Chalandris is a world that has an almost symbiotic relationship with its gods. Of the nine deities that have dominion over the world, none of them are worshiped as they truly are and some of them have even been forgotten. When healthy, this relationship between the world and its gods serves as the inspiration for the entire gamut of mortal experiences from the heights of joy and exultation to the depths of grief and sorrow, and it is this same relationship which served to inspire the heroes of old to their heroic acts. But left unhealthy, this ‘disconnect’ between the deities above and the world below has resulted in a world fraught with melancholy, malaise, and decay. Happiness and joy exist, of course, as do grief and sorrow, but these passions are ultimately fleeting. Beauty, also, is everywhere; but it is a cold, dark beauty that speaks more to a happier past than to an optimistic and hopeful present.

Portraying this world to the reader will be quite a challenge and I hope I am able to pull it off, but that’s really something I should be concerning myself with during editing. What I need to concern myself with right now are the more pragmatic aspects of world-building: the landmasses and the natural boundaries and resources, then the resulting political boundaries and landscapes. I need to know these now because they affect plotting when considering plot questions such as how long it takes to travel from one place to another, why various political interests might be aligned or opposed, and many more I could list.

I’m probably just whining and I probably also have some vague, as-yet-unrecognized-but-now-suspected notion that somehow all of this information will somehow spring forth simply because I want it to. I probably just need to spend more time, pencil in hand, doodling obsessively upon sheet after sheet of graph paper until the ideas start to come and gradually take more concrete shape. I just hate not knowing what my world looks like and it’s driving me crazy. I received some great feedback from my last post which I’m very grateful for. I want to thank everyone who helped. If any of you geniuses have any further advice for me, I’m all ears; but even if you don’t, thanks for letting me rant.