WELCOME TO MY WORLD

This website is part writing journal, part blog and part repository of stories both of adventure and fantastical in nature.

As a writing journal it tracks projects I am working on, their progress, ideas, updates and all other things writing related.

As a blog it features things of interest to me; sometimes they will tie in with my writing, other times not.

As a repository of my stories, it provides links to my stories of a variety of types, ranging from flash fiction to novels, though mostly short stories and novelettes for now. It also contains a wide variety of genres within the sf/f field – sci fi, steampunk, gunpowder fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery fantasy, epic fantasy, urban fantasy and more.  They can be found in the Pure Escapism part of the website.

What is in the name you ask? It ties in with the main setting of my writings and, while hints and references may have cropped up in some of the stories, the true meaning behind it is a mystery for another day.

Enjoy your visit and please feel free to browse and comment.

February Update

Posted: March 1, 2017 in writing, writing update
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It is hard to believe that we are already two months down in the year.

February was another good month.  I kept on with the writing every day, plus managed a couple of other things.

Word count was 52335 of drafts and 40437 of rewrites, for a total of 92682 of for the month.

I slowed down on the rough drafts towards the end of the month to concentrate mostly on the rewrites.

Unlike January, I mostly focused on just a few projects.  I finished off the rough draft of the first novella of the space opera series I started on before shifting over to the epic fantasy novel, which is up to almost 37,000 words.  For the rewrites, I was working entirely on the nano novel from last year.  My plan is to get it done and then polish it up ready to get out there.  It is 40,000 words in now and going strong.  At my current rate, it should be done in about a week.

In addition to that I also put out the first four of the short fiction pieces, getting over my self doubts.  Three are from The Chronicles of  White Bull and the fourth from The Deeds of Peregrine and Blade.  More will follow in the coming weeks and months as I get the novels ready.  I’ll update on that in a later post.

 

 

 

 

A Whole Lot Of Real Estate

Posted: February 24, 2017 in Space
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NASA has this week announced the discovery of a star system, TRAPPIST-1 which has not one, not two, not three, but SEVEN earth sized planets in it.  That is the most discovered so far around a single star.

Of those, three are located in the habitable zone, where it is possible that water could exist.  That isn’t to say that it does.  Venus and Mars occupy the habitable zone in our solar system but aren’t what you would call habitable.  There is the possibility though, which is what makes this find exciting.

And at just 40 light years away, Trappist-1 is a stones throw away on a galactic scale.  That still makes them 235 trillion miles away so there is no chance of getting there any time soon.

What is really interesting about this system is that it a red dwarf, a star much smaller and cooler than our sun.  It means that all of the planets are close in to their son, giving them ‘years’ that are just days in length.  And given that they are so close, you could see all of the other ones with your naked eye if standing on the surface of them.

NASA’s Trappist-1 page is full of information, videos and of course artists impressions, about the system, as well as one of their glorious retro posters.

Google were quick off the mark with one of their animated gifs to celebrate the announcement.

 

As a writer this is really interesting.  A system with seven planets would make a fun place to tell a story in, especially if you could colonise or terraform more than one of them.

 

It is possibly a little on the late side to be doing a post on writing plans for the year ahead but here it is.

At the start of the year I set out some goals that I’d like to accomplish this year, the first and foremost being to make something of my scribblings – to actually make a go at being a writer rather than just dreaming of it.

First up is to write ever day., and to aim for around 50,000 words a month.  In effect doing a nanowrimo ever month. That would bring the yearly total to around 600,000 words, which is around 6-8 standard novels in length or slightly longer than War & Peace.

Secondly, actually do something with all those words.  By that I mean get them out there for people to read.

As part of that is to actually put up a number of short fiction pieces I’ve been sitting on for some time.  I’ve got two collections of 8 stories apiece, totalling around the 70K word mark in total for both collections that have been around for ages gathering dust.  Call it crippling shyness, terminal self doubt or whatever but I haven’t taken the risk with them I should.

Once they are done I’ll take a plunge on some of the other stuff I have been working on, fixing them up and getting ready to release them.

So how did January go?

Better than I had expected, especially starting off cold.  I manage to write everyday and put out 57,300 words of rough drafts (plus 2762 words or rewrites), which is above the monthly target and gives me a nice little buffer going ahead.

All those words were scattered over a number of projects as I worked on figuring out just what I was going to focus on.  I did finish off the rough draft of one short story and one novella, both of which had been started prior to the beginning of the year.

In addition I made a great start to two new projects.  One is an epic fantasy story,which I did 10K on.  I’m still considering if it would be a standalone story or maybe a trilogy – I guess I’ll see as the story progresses.

The second was starting on a space opera short fiction serial, which clocked in at around 7,800 words done by the end of January, all of them in the last 5 days.  In fact prior to that the idea of the story hadn’t existed.  I just sat down and started writing.

More updates int the coming months, and hopefully even further updates on others matters as well.

 

 

A Recent Interview

Posted: May 28, 2016 in General
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I recently had the good fortune to be featured on Lorna Suzuki‘s All Kinds of Writing blog, in which I was interviewed concerning my writing and books. Lorna is the author of the epic fantasy Imago Chronicles, which are destined for the small screen as a TV series.  As well as that she features authors on her blog and I was lucky enough to be the most recent one.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest narrative works known to man, dating back to as early as 2100BC and the Third Dynasty of Ur, in Mesopotamia.  It tells the story of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, who became his friend.

The Epic was rediscovered in 1853, in he palace library of Ashurbanipal, a 7th century BC king of Assyria, though there are still missing fragments of the tale.

The recent invasion of Iraq, and the looting that followed, saw a cuneiform clay tablet turn up for sale at the Sulaymaniah Museum in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where it was purchased for $800.  The tablet was a fragment of Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh and contained 20 lines never seen before of the Epic.

It is cool to think that even after all this time we can discover new storied from the past and that there might be more out there, hidden under sands or lost in jungles, as long as they aren’t destroyed first.

 

Anyone who has used computers or any other device that stores data has run into the problem of disc failure that leads to lose of data.  It is the reason we make – or should – backups in case the main storage goes down.  You just have to hope that the backup also doesn’t fail.

Over at the Southampton University in the UK they are working on a system that may make it a thing of the past.  Utilising lasers and quartz crystal, they have developed a means of storing up to 360 terrabytes on a small disc for a very long time – 13.8 billion years by their estimates.  Not exactly a short amount of time.

It is not yet available for commercial use but it will certainly come in handy if and when it does.

 

Sometimes you stumble across things you had no idea about and end up rather blown away by it.  For me, history especially does that.  I love to find out new things about the past that I had never dreamed of before.  One recent example of this was when I discovered the existence of the Kingdom of Makuria.  And I had a computer game to thank for it.

That games is Crusader Kings 2, in which you guide a dynasty through the early and middle medieval period, in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India and the Steppes.  While poking around in it, I came across the Kingdom of Makuria and looked further into it.  I was fascinated by what I found.

Makuria was one of three Nubian nations which rose in the forth of fifth century, the other two being Alodia and Nobatia.  They were situated in what is today southern Egypt and northern Sudan.  By the end of the 6th century all were Christian nations, converted after a series of missions were sent by the Byzantium Empire, eventually becoming part of the Coptic Church.

At some unknown point, possibly before 642, Makuria absorbed Nobatia into its kingdom.

Then the Muslims struck.

In December 639, the Muslims invaded Egypt, then a part of the Byzantium Empire, and had conquered it by 641.  They gave the native Christian populace three choices – convert, be killed or become second class citizens with a heavy tax burden.

In 642, the Muslims turned south and attempted to invade Makuria.  The exact event are unclear, as all sources come from the Muslim invaders, but at what is called the First Battle of Dongala, the Muslim were repelled with heavy losses.  It appears that the Makurians fought a guerilla was against the Muslims, using their renown Nubian bowmen and superior light cavalry.  The Muslims withdrew, claiming that they had not lost, and that the land was poor with no treasure worth fighting for, despite Makuria possessing fertile farmlands along the Nile and a gold mine.

In 652 the Muslims tried again, and once more suffered defeat at the Second Battle of Dongala.  They besieged the capital of Makuria, Dongala, but were defeated by its walls which were defended by the Nubian archers.  After heavy losses again and the refusal of the Makurian king, Qalidurat, to surrender, the Muslims struck a treaty with the Makurians.

The treaty was called the baqt, and was unique in regards to Muslim relations with non-Muslims.  It was the duty of the Muslim world to conquer the rest of the world and force it to convert to Islam.  Unable to defeat the Makurian, instead more pragmatic heads prevailed.  According to the treaty, neither side would attack the other.  The Makurians would send slaves to the Muslims with the Muslims would send manufactured goods south to Makuria.  The baqt was to last for seven hundred years, making it the longest lasting treaty in history.

With its sovereignty safeguarded, Makuria grew in strength and wealth, reaching its zenith in the 8th to 9th century.  It was a land of art, architecture and literature, though what literature has been found to date is mostly of legal and religious nature.

When the Fatamids were replaced by the Ayyubids in Egypt in 1171, fortunes began to decline for the Makurians.  Internal difficulties began to afflict the Makurians and the Muslims began to interfere in the nation.  Eventually the Mameluke Egyptians invaded and in 1312 occupied the kingdom, ending Makuria as a nation.  Under the weight of the occupying Muslims, the natives began to convert.

Alodia clung on until 1504 when it too was conquered and converted to Islam, ending the long history of Christian Nubia.

It is a fascinating piece of history, and one still little understood.  Sadly, much of ancient Makuria is today beneath water after the damming of the Nile, which means there may be lots we may never find out.

There doesn’t seem a lot published on the region, but I intend to track down as much as I can and obtain copies of it.  Who knows, someday I may write on the subject, or use it as an inspiration for stories.