Thoughts On Writing Outside Your Genre

If you’ve been following the blog, you probably noticed that most of my stories are fantasy, sci-fi or some form of speculative fiction. So you can understand my trepidation when I learned that the genre for the Jozi Shorts Anthology is contemporary fiction. Well, colour me challenged.

The last non-genre story that I wrote was Pandjieswinkelgoed that appeared in Vrouekeur magazine two years ago.

Luckily we received an extension on the closing date for stories, as I could not for the life of me think of anything to write. Well, at least not anything that wasn’t genre fiction. I did finally get an idea for the story, and ended up still writing some of it on the day the story was due. Oops.

It’s called “The Goldfish and the Astronaut” as I quite like the title and, yes, it does go with the very-much-not-spec-fic story. The astronaut bit actually popped into my mind when listening to “Difference Maker” by NEEDTOBREATHE.

“Difference Maker” by NEEDTOBREATHE

What I learned from writing outside my genre

All in all, though, writing a story that is outside my usual genre did teach me some things:

  • I can actually write outside my genre when I need to (or want to). Writing about “normal” people may just be possible — without ending up giving them superpowers or adding a dragon to the story, or something, I mean.
  • Writing outside your genre takes practice just like writing in your genre does. Boy is that story going to need some editing still!
  • A short story needn’t be a sprawling epic — a few moments of a life can feel “epic” as well. Also, you don’t necessarily need a dragon or other creature to make it epic.
  • I still really struggle with happy endings in short stories. Give me longer pieces and I can do it. Given me a few thousand words and, apparently, I cannot.
  • Waiting for the story to magically write itself is not going to work. You need to start typing or writing to get the story flowing. (Where are those story elves who work through the night cobbling a story together when you need them?)
  • Writing outside my genre does stretch some writing muscles you didn’t know you had. So, much like a new yoga position, you need to practice your muscles if you want to write anything worthwhile.
  • Don’t dwell on it. Much like writing an article about tarantulas all of a sudden and having to do oodles of research, you will need to do some research for your story as well, and may have to dig deep to find the humanity.
  • I will get lost in looking at the gallery section if I go on the NASA website.
  • Even when writing non-genre fiction, my search history will somehow turn out weird. Go figure.

This week I’m back to working on The Ruon Chronicles’ outline and hopefully doing a breakdown of book 2 to see where some changes are needed. I still want to finish this by the end of February, so let me get cracking!

Worldbuilding Wednesday: The Magic System of The Ruon Chronicles

In the world of Airtha-Eyrassa (the world in which The Ruon Chronicles takes place), magic and magical abilities are called Talent or Nith. The nith is further split into four distinct branches, namely Nith, Nithrus, Nithran, and Nith-Eyr.

The Four Branches of Nith

Nith/Ruon Nith

Also called “Ruon nith”, “nith” usually refers to the Talent of the Ruon and their embroidered charms. This includes nith used in healing, guarding and creating armour.

Nithrus

“Nith of the Airus” refers to the Talent innate in the Airus. This includes being able to read the Knowledge Stones.

Nithran

This type of nith is only found in the Tellerassar (shapeshifters) and Water Women and is, like Nithrus to the Airus, innate in them.

Nith-Eyr

Nith-Eyr, or “Nith of the Veil”, refers to the Talent which the Airus and Khalne possess and which they use to “walk the Veil”. The Airus Tarion and Amalia are seen walking the Veil in the story Grove of Graves.

The Embroidered Charms of the Ruon

The Main Types of Charms

The embroidered charms of the Ruon can be divided into two main types – healing charms and guarding charms.

The healing charms may include such charms as those against pain, fever, and to knit bones, as well as those to ensure safe delivery in difficult pregnancies. However, some of the guarding charms may also be used for new mothers and babies; usually in conjunction with healing charms.

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Pain and fever charms combined

Some of the most potent of the guarding charms are those which guard against the Khalver and weapons. These, however, are seen and used very seldom because they are so difficult to make and take such a large amount of nith or Talent (this refers specifically to the Ruon talent gifted to an individual by the Creator (Agrai) and not just the talent to create needlework) to make.

Most of the knowledge of making them was also lost in the Great Burning, during which all but a tiny handful of the books of the Ruon were burnt and their knowledge subsequently forgotten. The hiding cloaks some of the Ruon can make are also counted among the guarding charms because they are mostly used to hide a Ruon from the eyes of those who are not Ruon and specifically those who are the enemy of the Ruon.

How the Charms Are Worked and Where They Are Worn

The charms may be worked on any fabric and in any thread, though specific thread and fabric are usually used in Ruon Haliern and manufactured there especially for this use. The reason why the charms may be worked on any surface is that it is not the fabric or the thread which is magical, but is only endowed with a certain amount of nith by the Ruon while the charm is being constructed. Some thread and fabric – those which are stronger and have a higher thread count – may, however, last a bit longer and the fabric may also be used more than once to make either the same or different charms.

As can be seen in the preview of The Ruon Chronicles, the charms may be worked on clothing and not just on charm cloths carried by the wearer. These charms which the strongest Ruon (like Ruaha and Ruenna) wore, were in many ways as tough as armour while still allowing the Ruon a free range of movement. To make such an outfit, however, required a very large amount of both nith and time and, unlike metal armour, would only last until the threads lost integrity as the nith locked within the threads were used.

Those worked over Ruaha’s heart kept her alive not only because of their strength, but also because of the placement. While the charm could not deflect the blade of the knife, it could stop the blood from exiting the wound, thereby making the body “think” that it is still whole and not wounded to such a degree. Ruaha also kept these charms hidden because she knew that they would give her the upper hand should she be injured. Nith from the other charms she wore could be moved to the charms over her heart because she was a Ruon and she was using it herself. This is why the rest of her dress started to fade and those charms break first. Once all the other nith was used up, the charms over her heart was at last used and lost their integrity. If it had been a less severe wound she could have been saved by using this method to keep the wound from bleeding.

Order in Which the Charms Are Worked

The charms must further be worked in a specific order in order for the charm to function. For instance, when working a pain charm, the first “layer” of stitches will be the lines crossing the circle. Next the circle itself will be worked as the second “layer”, whereafter the lines crossing the first layer will be worked. These stitches hold the nith within the charm and anchors it to the thread. Once the thread is knotted and cut, the thread will turn a deeper colour as the nith is fastened to it. This is one of the few ways in which a true Ruon charm can be discerned from that of a fake one when it is being made. For instance, a non-Ruon may work the same pattern as the Ruon, but the charm’s colour will not change and neither will it contain any of the nith required to work.

Colours in Which the Charms Are Worked

The colour of the thread is not of such big import, but coloured thread is used in order to see whether 1) the nith is fixed to the charm and 2) when the charm is fading and losing integrity. Traditionally red, blue, and green thread is used to create the different charms. Different colours may also be used in the same charm when there are different “layers” present. This is especially done by those only learning how to make the charms, but is also sometimes done for aesthetic reasons when worn on items of clothing.

More detail about the different nith can be found on my Patreon page, along with other worldbuilding and story notes.

Of Working Two Months Ahead, Looking After Yourself, and Fiction Writing News

The last we saw our intrepid writer, she was busy outlining the whole of The Ruon Chronicles and taking Sir Tristan the Wonder Cat for walkies in the garden.
Since then… well not much has changed and yet a lot has changed.
We’re back up to normal speed at work (the Day Job) and are already on March issue print deadlines and beginning on April. This is also why I don’t know the actual date half the time!
The next few days will be a scramble as we inevitably get in material quite late with some clients forgetting that I still need to translate their copy if they’re going into an Afrikaans magazine. Oops.
If nothing else, deadline week usually — strangely — has me working on my own projects more. I guess once the momentum is there, I might as well keep it going!

Looking after yourself

Which also brings me to some good news – the anaemia that I’ve been struggling with is finally getting better! So I’ve also been feeling more human (which is always a good thing) and have been able to sleep less. Well, by “sleep less” I mean only 7-8 hours per night. This gives me a lot more time to work on writing and other stuff, yay!
I really hate slowing down when I get anaemia or something else, but, then again, I learned the hard way last year to give myself a break. Look after yourselves, guys!

Stories!

I’m finally finishing writing the Jozi Shorts short story. Our genre is contemporary fiction and, well, I really struggle to write it, full stop. The last story I wrote that was plain ol’ fiction (that is to say, not genre fiction) was the one published in Vrouekeur magazine in June 2018. And I had written it in 2017. Yup. That’s how much time I spend writing “normal” stories.
So colour me challenged by this short story! It’s a love story and is based on a photo of a lake house and includes a sentence that you have to fit in somewhere. This, at least, makes the writing easier! I can’t say more, however, as that will spoil the whole surprise.
In other short story — actually flash fiction — news, I’m back to posting some (genre) flash fiction on my Instagram account (@carin_chronicles) along with the usual photos of Sir Tristan, craft projects, and thoughts about quotes.
I also have an idea for another micro fiction story for Paragraph Planet and I’ll hopefully get that done this weekend as well.
Other than that, I’m still busy with outlining Ruon Chronicles, but should be done by the end of February as is my plan. I’ll keep on doing Ruon Chronicles worldbuilding Wednesdays for the most part.
Have a great weekend and week everyone!

Worldbuilding Wednesday – And Then There Was War

Welcome to another worldbuilding post!

The battles that are described in this post takes place before the first book in the series of The Ruon Chronicles starts. They’re written much like I usually write my worldbuilding notes for myself; that is to say more like a vignette or sketch than just bullet points. I also tend to get quite formal or use archaic words for some reason without even trying.

It’s like my brain goes into “history writing mode” and then tries to mimic the style of the King James Bible… Anyway, here’s “The Battle of Redfield”, “The Battle of Achtarion”, and a look at the ash-creature-dragon-like-things that were used during the battle at Achtarion .
If you missed last week’s worldbuilding post, you can read it by clicking on this link: The Good, the Bad, the Diminishing.

The Battle of Redfield

Hogtan, after being given sanctuary with the Airus, marched into the Battle of Redfield at Airus Eamund’s side. The fighting was fell that day, but the Khaldun retreated after Eamund slew their captain.

To keep the Airus from following them, the Khaldun set fire to the dry grass of the plain and it burned so fast and hot, driven by dry wind, that the Airus narrowly escaped with their lives. This is why both sides claim to have won this battle.

Anger now burned within the Airus, as their dead and wounded were burned on the plain and could not be recovered.

And it was said that their spirits were unable to cross through the Veil into the immortal world for many years and that they were doomed to fight the same battle over and over again. For many years none dared to walk upon Redfield for fear of the ahyané-lifa, the ‘living ghosts’ and Redfield became known as Ahyané-argan — the ‘Plain of Ghosts’.

In the end it was Hogtan who begged Agrai to give the slain rest, saying that he would give his own life in return. Agrai did not take his life, but showed him the beauty of the immortal world beyond the Veil and the once-dead Airus who were now alive again.

Battle of Achtarion & the Ash Creatures

The last battle before the First Sundering — during which the Airus’ lands sank below the ocean — was the Battle of Achtarion. The day of the battle was ever after remembered as the Day of Blood.
One of the main cities of the Airus (and by far the most beautiful) was given the name Achtarion. Built from white marble, grey stone and carven wood the colour of gold, it stood next to the Eljana River atop a hill. To the west of the city were hills and caves where the survivors of the battle hid from the Lewjan and Khaldun.

During that time, Lewjan sent his forces across the Rhager Mountains and laid to waste many towns and villages. Then they marched on Achtarion, the jewel of the Airus, breaking and burning as they went, with their ash creatures burning even the stone of the city as well.

Many Airus were slain in a last stand when they tried to give part of the city that had not yet been overrun time to flee into the surrounding hills and caves.

Hogtan again fought at Eamund’s side and, when Eamund was wounded, carried him from the fray. He begged Eamund to follow what was left of his family into the hills. Then he bound Eamund’s wound and, after he watched Eamund lead the last of those fleeing into the hills, he did not follow, but returned to the fight. There he was cut down by one of Lewjan’s captains.

When the people learned of Hogtan’s death, a great elegy was made and sung for he had been greatly loved even though he had once been Khaldun. It was after this fell battle that the Airus begged of Agrai to cast Lewjan and the Khaldun into the ocean. This was to be the First Sundering.

Lewjan’s Ash Creatures

Lewjan’s first creations were the ash creatures which fought at the Battle of Achtarion. They were created from a mixture of the blood of deserters and the ashes of the towns they had burned. They were, however, dumb, fumbling creatures although they were very destructive and could turn wood and even people to ash immediately.

The creatures were each blood-tied to one of the Lewjan, but would die if they either moved too far away from their master of if their master died.

They are called “lifahtso” or the “living ash” by those who survive the Battle of Achtarion.

As usual, very happy and uplifting stuff…
Next week I’ll hopefully have the map for this post ready to post!

Worldbuilding Wednesday – The Good, the Bad, the Diminishing

I ended the previous Worldbuilding Wednesday post with the death of Sifa which caused the world of Airtha-Eyrassa to fall and the Veil between the mortal and immortal world to be put in place.

This week I’m looking at the events that brought about The Diminishing, including the death of the Airus called Leralia. As usual, though, not everything is as simple as it first appears and there are good guys, bad guys, and a bad guy turned good.

To read the previous worldbuilding post first, click here (it will open in a new tab).

Both angered and saddened at the death of Sifa, the Airus took to calling Lewjan’s followers the Khaldun — servants of the shadow — and his followers revelled in their new name.

The Airus closed the passes of the Rhager Mountains to the Khaldun and tried to forget that they were of one kin, preferring to build a world separate of that of the Khaldun.

After twenty-one years had passed, the Leralia, who was one of the Airus, went to Lewjan and the Khaldun to ask them to let go of and forget about their rage and return to the Airus. But Lewjan would have none of it. Instead, he had her bound and stoned before delivering her death-blow himself. Then they burned her body and scattered the ashes in the wind.

And it is said that Lewjan and the Khaldun’s minds were changed when they slew Leralia and that hate and anger burned in them like never before, fed from Lewjan himself.

The Khaldun crafted many weapons for themselves and went to the dwelling of the Airus Elders, attacked them at dawn, and slew them all.

Witnessing this brutal slaughter, the Airus crafted their own weapons with which to defend themselves. Years of warfare between the Airus and Khaldun followed, and it was these deeds that started the Diminishing. Some took to calling this the Days of Mourning.

But there was one of the Khaldun, calles Hagtan, who would not lift a hand against Leralia. Seeing this, Lewjan ordered Hagtan to be brought before him. The Khaldun bound him and made him watch Leralia’s execution before beating him and taking him to one of the passes of the Rhager Mountains. There they told him to go to the Airus elders and to tell them what had been done.

Having no other choice, nor the will to fight back, Hagtan went to the Airus’ lands where he was found and brought before the elders.

Hagtan told them all that had happened and prepared steeled himself for death. However, he was shown mercy and taken to a room to rest and recover his strength.

Later, he would fight side-by-side with Eamund, but would be killed at the Battle of Achtarian.

Okay, so I guess that last sentence was a bit of a spoiler for next week’s post… oh well.

More news of The Ruon Chronicles

I’m still busy working on the outline for the series, although the past week things has been going a bit slow as I’ve been a bit ill and so try to save most of my brain power for work.

I did flirt with switching two characters around in The Knowledge Stones, and then luckily – before starting to write everything out – realised that there is no way that it would work.

What I did manage to do was switch some chapters around in order to let the reader meet Zala first (she is one of the main characters of The Knowledge Stones). The whole meeting Trevian (whose name is about to change, more on this later) first – while it worked for the first draft – did not fit anymore and I took quite a while to figure out where and how to let the reader meet Zala without it feeling forced.

That said, I also realised that I really need to change Trevian’s name. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the name; but it is far too close to Tarion (and I’ve already written a large part of another part of the series containing Tarion, so his name is more “set in stone” to me).

To top it off, I went and gave another character a similar name as well. And this may have worked had I not written a scene with all three together and realising just how close the names are to each other!

I have yet to decide on a new name, though. I think I’ve grown used to Trevian, so I’ll take a while to find another name that just “feels right”.

Other than that it is more the novella Grove of Graves that I’m changing than I’m actually changing anything on The Knowledge Stones.

I have to redo part of the map for The Knowledge Stones, though, and move some of the places at the beginning of the story further north. Otherwise I’m going to have another main character, Aaron, do nothing but walk for a few weeks. And that’s… well, it’s boring. The only way that I can make the story work after the new chapter 1 that I wrote, is to move places to the north of Heimfeie, actually. This, however, is not too bad, as I only spend two chapters there before moving on to other places in the world.

I should also be able to redo the map for next week’s worldbuilding post!

Next week I’ll also have a look at two of the main battles during the Days of Mourning, including the Battle of Achtarian.

Worldbuilding Wednesday — Worldbuilding a Beginning

I guess worldbuilding a beginning to the world of Airtha-Eyrassa really only started after I read The Silmarillion (which is also one of my favourite books of all time). While I did not start the world by writing the beginning and creation, it was soon apparent once I’d started that it was a necessary part of the worldbuilding to make it really feel authentic and influence the worldview(s) of the people inhabiting the world.

The beginning of the world was quoted last week, but — in case you missed it — I’m repeating it here:

In the beginning, when there was only Agrai, the world of Airtha-Eyrassa was created. Agrai, called the One by the peoples of Airtha-Eyrassa, created the world and then gave it one sun and one moon. Then Agrai kindled four great stars from which all other stars in the night sky are descended. These four stars Agrai created to show the people of Airtha-Eyrassa their way by night. And they were the greatest and brightest in the night sky.

Then Agrai looked towards the world of Airtha-Eyrassa, and the world was entirely covered in water. With a single word Agrai parted the land and the water, just as the sun and the stars had been kindled.

Agrai then created the plants and animals, filling the land and the waters with them. For an age they grew and lived and, once they had thrived and filled all the lands, the Age of Morning dawned.

As you can tell if you’ve read the Bible; this piece was highly influencd by Genesis 1, i.e. one creator God that speaks the world into being. (If you’re unfamiliar with Genesis 1, you can click here to read it.)

I decided to go against making it “too mythical” and taking the route of Norse or Finnish creation myth. (If you’d like to read these, get your hands on the Eddas, especially the Younger Edda (Norse) and Kalevala (Finnish).)

Okay, so of course you can’t just have happy people running around always being happy when you write stories, so I had to write where the first uber-bad-guy (in the normal sense of the word uber, not the ride sharing thing) came from. Enter “The Fall”. Turns out, there’s a murder as well…  

And, as you can see, I’m really stealing for fun and profit here!

One of the Airus, however, wished to create his own world apart from that of Airtha-Eyrassa, but found that he could not. This angered him greatly and he flew into a rage, cursing Agrai and swearing to forever stand against the Creator.

He took to calling himself Nasjand — which means ‘saviour’ — and told the other Airus that they were mere slaves and pawns to Agrai’s will and that, if they wanted to become free, had to follow him and not Agrai. Nasjand promised them that they would become free of the fetters of the world, creating their own, better world in its place where they would be the supreme rulers.

These Airus left the towers and gardens where they had lived and sundered themselves from those they now deemed to be slaves and lesser than themselves. They trekked across the Rhager Mountains and made a new home for themselves from the red rock.

The eldest of the Airus, Sifa, who was also Nasjand’s twin brother, went to this new home, but was slain by Nasjand and his body cast into the ocean. When the Airus learned of this, they started calling Nasjand Lewjan, which means ‘betrayer’.

In seeing what had happened and that death had now entered the world, Agrai put in place a Veil that would divide the mortal lands from the immortal lands. The immortal lands were pure and without sin, suffering, or death, while the mortal world had fallen.

This Veil is also where the name for Airtha-Eyrassa (“The Land Beyond the Veil”) comes from. Next week I’ll go into the different good and bad guys as well as The Diminishing some more as this is still important when the Chronicles actually begins with The Knowledge Stones.

Of Stuff You Realise After Rereading, and Crocheting Nests

Good news! Especially for me — I at last realised what is wrong with the beginning of Grove of Graves and how to fix it. Apparently my subconscious had been thinking about it the whole week after I reread the story to see where any changes are needed.

Turns out I only need to move one flashback to the beginning of the story and that should do it. Okay, with a bit of a rewrite of the scene to build on it. See, the story started really slowly and — let me just face it — a bit boring too. Moving the flashback kicks it into gear from the start and also does some exposition that is required (as it takes place just after The Knowledge Stones).

One of my goals for January and February is to outline the whole of The Ruon Chronicles properly. Obviously there will still be some changes as I go along, but I really want to get The Stuff Stuck In My Head on paper and in the correct sequence.

I’ve decided on doing it over two months as I know how hectic it can get when the year really gets going by about mid-January. This is because the school year in South Africa starts then so everyone is back at work and the city’s traffic is back to normal as well. Oh, the traffic… Time to mindplot, I guess!

I’ve really had some time to rest over the past two weeks as I could even take an almost leisurely time to finish my work during the day. And after December’s rush I really needed this time to make sure my admin is under control, etc. as well. That said, I feel ready to crack open Aeon Timeline and Scrivener (and my trusty notebook) to write again after my hiatus.

The past weekend was spent mostly at home (bliss!), with me only having to face the shops quickly on Sunday (because guess who needed headache tablets and found that she was completely out of them). Other than that I only ventured into the garden a few times to take Sir Tristan for a walk.

The rest of the time I spent working on writing, crocheting, knitting and listening to interesting podcasts and lectures.

Man, I think if I went to varsity now I would have been even more of a nerd. I was already one of the students who spent most their time in the library studying. Okay and reading oodles of books that I just found interesting and wasn’t actually part of the curriculum. Add to that lectures and podcasts, YouTube, etc., I don’t think I would have done anything else!

 Anyway…

I managed to finished my Eilian Shawl in Stylecraft yarn — the second time that I’m actually making this pattern! It’s only a five row repeat pattern, which made it great for when I’m listening to podcasts.

Wanting to do some knitting as well just because, I started on another shawl (shawls seem to be my thing) that is also a simple pattern and one I can do without having to have a pattern in front of me the whole time. It’s really like I can switch my brain off while working on it and just forget about all the worries and stresses of the day.

It was on Friday that I received an email from LoveCrafts (whose newsletter I follow) asking for help. At first I thought it was going to be some kind of poll or something, but it turns out that it gave links to places that need help for rehabilitating the animals touched by the Australian bush fires.

I didn’t even know that they needed crafters to make nests, pouches, etc. Well now, I thought, crochet I can do and nests I can make! So, since Sunday, I’ve been crocheting nests in-between writing and reading (because my fingers and wrists can only do so much at one time!) and when I have a good bunch I’ll post them off to Australia.

If you also want to help, here are the links.

Also included on the Facebook Page are the patterns you’ll need. So, if ever you’ve wanted to learn to knit, crochet, or sew, why not take this as your chance?

There are some great tutorials available on YouTube, Skillshare, and Bluprint (some free, some paid) to help you get started.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with some more worldbuilding, and, until then, keep well!

Worldbuilding Wednesday — Worldbuilding the Ruon Chronicles Series

Author David Farland, in one of his writing emails (sign up here) notes the following elements that make up a successful series when it comes to story:

  • Have a persistent world and persistent characters
  • Don’t change the settings too much
  • Have a persistent conflict that builds and escalates
  • A central conflict will bind the series together.

Now, the first time that I did this exercise, The Knowledge Stones and Grove of Graves (the first book and novella in the Ruon Chronicles) did not exist yet. This meant that I had to refine these points to make sure that the Ruon Chronicles series will still form a whole instead of being a bunch of completely standalone stories masquerading as one story.

Not that there’s anything wrong with different “episodes”, so to speak, that are standalone, but it’s just not what I intend Ruon Chronicles to be.

Having a central and persistent conflict that will bind the series together

When it comes to a central conflict, it remains that the Third Sundering of Airtha-Eyrassa needs to be stopped to keep the world from falling into ruin.

I soon realised when I started writing The Ruon Chronicles that I will need to have a consistent world at my fingertips if I wanted this to work. Luckily I’d been working in the world for a number of years before doing a major overhaul of the world to turn it into what it is today. You see, the first things I wrote in this world were a bit — well, dull and disjointed.

Once I realised that another Sundering could be on its way because of human intervention in Airtha-Eyrassa, I decided on the Third Sundering as the main conflict of the books of the series.

Well, one of them… I can’t give everything away!

By building and escalating the events of your series (and here there is a good reason to sometimes binge your favourite TV or book series to see what works and what doesn’t), you will not only be able to retain readers but also hold your own interest in the story. That is put in italics for me to remind myself that a series should be fun to write and not something you need to schlep through, after a while hating every moment.

A persistent world to bind the series together

It’s also this fact of having to have a persistent world to bind the world together that I had to work on a lot. I couldn’t put everything I wanted into the world, and, so I am keeping some fantasy and story elements for my other fiction, for example Porselein. The magic and talents in Ruon Chronicles are enough without putting all of the now-Porselein-stuff about the masks and memories in there as well as it would just have been too much.

As for magic and technology, the Ruon magic has built itself into a much more intricate magic system and uses a lot of different needlework mediums; not just embroidery and tapestry as it was in the beginning. So you’ll have a character using a (knitted) lace shawl as source of her magic power at the start of book two, for example. (This is a scene that I’ve already written and would have been the start of the series initially. Only after writing almost a whole novel did I realise that I needed to start the story much earlier. And, so, Knowledge Stones was born.)

Of course, there are certain parameters in which the Ruon magic works and not everybody who can do a bit of sewing or knitting can use it!

Building the world of Airtha-Eyrassa — twice

The world of Airtha-Eyrassa has grown very large over the years that I’ve worked on the series and ideas for it. It was, however, in 2015 that I started with an almost complete overhaul of the world and its worldbuilding. I think I was before then really set in the belief that I had to follow to closely in others’ footsteps (i.e. steal for money and profit just a bit too much). I also realised that the world itself had “grown up”, so to speak, as I got older and went through some major life changes. I found that I could no longer write in the “old” Airthai-world.

Soon, however, I realised that, although the world has some very dark elements, the story itself can be considered Noblebright and even borders on Christian fantasy in some ways (think of the more fantastical stories Enclave Publishing publishes).

But don’t worry, it’s not a bunch of sermons not-so-cleverly-disguised-as-epic-fantasy. Though I may have stolen elements from the Bible, especially with the creation of Airtha-Eyrassa:

In the beginning, when there was only Agrai, the world of Airtha-Eyrassa was created. Agrai, called the One by the peoples of Airtha-Eyrassa, created the world and then gave it one sun and one moon. Then Agrai kindled four great stars from which all other stars in the night sky are descended. These four stars Agrai created to show the people of Airtha-Eyrassa their way by night. And they were the greatest and brightest in the night sky.

Then Agrai looked towards the world of Airtha-Eyrassa, and the world was entirely covered in water. With a single word Agrai parted the land and the water, just as the sun and the stars had been kindled.

Agrai then created the plants and animals, filling the land and the waters with them. For an age they grew and lived and, once they had thrived and filled all the lands, the Age of Morning dawned.

Basically, I now have the following as a very summarised history of the events pre-Knowledge Stones that leads into the first novel.

During the Achtarion War between the Airus and Khaldun, the Knowledge Stone was found by the Airus Ira-laleth. Keeping the stone, which was imprinted with the very words of creation, secret from the Khaldun, Ira-laleth found that she had received the gift to add and imprint other knowledge on the stone as well.

Safely sequestered for three thousand years, the Keepers of the Stone was at last attacked in their shrine — but not before the stone was broken into many pieces to be taken to safety. Given to Airus who fled into the wilderness in order to keep the stone’s knowledge secret, the Khaldun set out after them, slaying many and taking the slivers of stone for themselves. It was also at this time that Ira-laleth and her entire family was slaughtered by the Khaldun. 

The remaining Airus heeded a call in their dreams to flee to the Midlands and the Sanctuaries there and, so, most of the Knowledge Stone pieces were saved when the First Sundering tore through the lands of the Airus and Khaldun, and much of the land sank beneath the waves. After the Sundering, many of the Airus went into hiding throughout Airtha-Eyrassa, fearing that they would still be hunted by the Khaldun. Yet none forsook their oath to keep the stones safe.

The Age of Blood and Sorrow dawned on the lands of Airtha-Eyrassa, only ending with the Second Sundering.

***

Many years pass while the Knowledge Stones become a part of Airtha-Eyrassa’s legends and folklore. With the pieces of knowledge stone now scattered throughout the lands, the long search of the lost Stones by the Seekers of Knowledge begins.

When two Seekers find a Stone that contains knowledge about the Khaldun and how they could once and for all be defeated, a fire is kindled in Airtha-Eyrassa. What was only legends suddenly become truth and plunges Airtha-Eyrassa’s lands into war. 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! May 2020 be an absolutely wonderful and blessed year for you!

Looking back at 2019

When I look back at 2019, I can really see that I put too much pressure on myself to keep doing more and more (which inevitably led to burnout and me barely writing since September).

This is also why NaNoWriMo was a flop — I’d thought that after being booked off for two weeks I could just go back to a hectic schedule like nothing happened… yeah, that didn’t happen. Especially since that’s the time we start working on the Christmas magazine issues and we need to do almost double the amount of work we usually do. Oops.

I realised that I actually needed to take a proper step back and rest instead of acting like my body and mind wasn’t protesting every day.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom, but the year was very challenging. I learned a lot, though, and grew a lot as well, I think. The year ended on a high note, however.

The publishing company I work for (my day job as copywriter), closed between Christmas and New Year, so I had a few days to spend either with friends and family or simply doing nothing. Or at least my idea of nothing, which includes things like crochet.

It did give me some perspective on just how worn out I’d become and that I still needed to take it relatively slow. I did get some time to make plans for 2020 as well, though.

I am still very much in the middle of trying to find balance between all my commitments, but, hopefully, this will be the year in which I get a lot better at it.

Looking forward to 2020

During this year, I want to focus my energy on The Ruon Chronicles and on Medium articles. I may still do flash pieces here and there, but I’m not going to push myself to do X amount of flash pieces per week or month.

2019’s Jozi Flash still needs to be written (deadline is 31 January as we’ve all had an extremely rough year).

I also want to read more — and I’ve told myself that I won’t buy another book until I’m at least halfway through my to-be-read mountain.

In other news, I may also take part in Club 119 from January to May. More on that later, though.

Looking at my social media use, I really want to curate better where I spend time on social media. And I’m going to try my utmost best not to read comments on YouTube videos or follow the never ending fights on Twitter.

I mean, there are fights worth fighting, but mostly it seems to be idiots shouting at each other and being vile. And… well, I really don’t need that in my life. It’s so easy to get sucked into a whirlpool of negativity!

I’ll be spending more time on Instagram, probably, as it’s a lot more curated at the moment than my Twitter feed, which is news, hobbies, and, well, basically everything mushed into one.

I need to take a day during January and just rip my Twitter apart at the seams. Like my sister, I’m then making one stream with news, etc. and one with content that won’t make me want to crawl into a hole and stay there forever.

I also haven’t actually been on Facebook the whole of the vacation and up to today. I just needed to cut myself off from that as well for a bit!

Some of my 2020 goals

During 2020 I want to document more as I often forget to. But, don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that I’ll be taking and posting a photo of every sandwich of 2020!

But I’d like to have some photos of when I hang out with friends and family. For example, I completely forgot (okay, we all did) to take a photo of the family on Christmas. Another oops.

On one hand, selfcare is really a large part of where my focus should be this year. Or at least not being so hard on myself that I burn out again. It’s putting less pressure on myself to Do All The Things.

I really need to start celebrating the small things in life as well and not rushing through everything. Towards the end of 2019 I think I got a lot better at it, but during most of the year I was just rushing, rushing, rushing and not really paying attention to much.

That is one reason why I celebrated JRR Tolkien’s birthday anniversary on 3 January (and actually took some photos!).

Okay, so you may be wondering what on earth Club 119 is. Well, it’s a kind of Bible study group hosted by Elyssa Nalani. The goal is to read through the first five books of the Bible in 5 months, starting with Genesis today (6 January). I doubt I’ll take part in the Facebook Group and stuff, at least at first as I have found that I get sucked into these groups quickly and it really becomes a timesuck.

I actually found Elyssa’s YouTube channel while watching Thomas Frank’s channel and I really like it. (For once the algorithm did it’s job right!)

Changes to the blog and website

You may have noticed that I changed the appearance of the blog again at the end of last year. The main reason for this is that I’m still trying to get it to look like the idea of it I have in my head, but also because I have now consolidated Hersenskim and Trebles On My Mind into one blog (still called Hersenskim because I just love the word).

I figured that, since my hobbies make up a large part of my writing — for example in The Ruon Chronicles — I might as well keep everything in one place rather than trying to keep two blogs afloat.

Lastly, a Vlogbrothers video by Hank Green that really made me think about my own “channels”

The newest Vlogbrothers video deals a lot with the influence of Vlogbrothers and the size of their audience and how they’re not really trying to grow the channel per se. Watch it rather, he makes more sense than me.

What really struck me, was that it was something that I’d struggled with a lot during the past year as well. There is so much pressure to “build your brand”, “grow your audience”, “build your email list by 10 000 subscribers” and stuff like that.

And I realised that I was really worrying too much about building an audience and a following than simply being myself and letting things just develop. With the strain of the past few months, I also realised that I don’t need to put such pressure on myself.

I’m not going to turn into a six-figure author overnight, especially not if I spend so much time ruminating and worrying that my work won’t have mass-appeal and not actually writing and working on the Ruon series. The whole reason why I want to do this the Indie way is that I want to write the epic that I want to write, and not have to “write to market” and stuff like that.

I mean, of course I want people to read the books and like them, but I don’t want to suddenly have to turn them into The Next Game of Thrones or something like that. If that makes sense.

I’ve also looked at the awesome work that Radical Face has been doing as an indie musician. It’s definitely not projects that the large companies will think of as a good idea (money-wise), but his music has been an inspiration to me and thousands of others.

That is actually what finally made me decide to self-publish The Ruon Chronicles. It’s not that it wouldn’t be awesome to see my books on a shelf in the local store, it’s that I don’t want to have to change everything about the story to be seen as a “product” that can be mass sold.

And, in the end, I think that this is what has taken a lot of pressure off my shoulders as well.

Well, after all that rambling, that’s it from me today! Have a great week!

November Reading Update

As usual, I’ve been absolutely useless in updating Goodreads. But, I have been reading quite a bit, although more magazines, Medium articles, and non-fiction than reading fiction.

Both of the books I mention in this post I bought on Kobo (i.e. no affiliate links), and I must say, for the amount they cost, they are really worth every cent and more.

The magazines I got on Amazon, though, as Pocketmags did not seem to have them (usually my go-to for international magazines and specifically craft magazines). The other magazines I read were the ones that I actually work on* and that was more to do with work than leisure.

The Renegade Writer Library by Linda Formichelli & Diana Burrell

Consisting of The Renegade Writer and From Pitched to Published, I did not get them just on a whim (hint hint), but also as a way to learn more about the publishing and writing industry. Knowing that the two authors has been in the writing business so long is also comforting, as I know how quickly things change especially in the magazine world. (Basically there’s never a dull moment.)
I would say that this is really a volume you should look at getting if you’re a freelance writer for websites and magazines, or even just an occasional writer for these mediums, or you’re thinking of becoming a freelancer.

The Story Solution: Re-write Your Life by Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant

This is not usually the type of book I buy (except if it’s a Jon Acuff book), but I listen to their podcast almost every week — okay, sometimes I binge — and find that they really know what they’re talking about and have good advice. I have, over the past few months, struggled a bit with Life Stuff and got this book about in the middle of it all.

At the most basic level, it asks you where you want to be in your life. However, it doesn’t stop just there, but takes you through exercises, that also lets you figure out how to tackle getting the life that you want.

Magazines:

Piecework, published by Long Thread Media (Fall 2019)

Okay, how on earth did I not know that this magazine existed? And has existed for over a decade?

The magazine focuses not only on different types of needlework and sewing, but also brings you a lot of history about the different crafts, the culture surrounding them, etc. It’s the magazine I never knew I always wanted. It’s one of the few magazines that I can picture myself reading in one sitting and then reading again immediately in case there’s a detail that I missed.
The articles are of a very high quality, and so is the beautiful projects that is featured in the issue. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one!

The Simple Things, published by Iceberg Press (October 2019)

Another magazine I had no idea existed, this issue of The Simple Things reads to me like a cross between Breathe and something like Woman & Home. I’ve yet to page through some of the back issues, but I can say that this can also go on my TBR pile.

Which books or magazines are you reading at the moment? I would love to know!

* I work for a South African publisher of 11 magazines, on the advertising side of things, as a copywriter.