by thefourpartland

In addition to my normally scheduled post today, I have a little gift for you readers. If you go to Smashwords and enter coupon code LV72P, you’ll get Tarranau for 40% off.

AND L.M. Stull is making this deal even more enticing —> Visit her blog for details on how you can snag an autographed paperback!  But you’ll have to hurry – these offers only last until Sunday night California time.

Coloured Waves

A wave lapped at the shore, foam tinted red.

Water splashed as boys sprinted from the ocean, running before the surf.
Some fell, and did not rise. Others stumbled, then ran all the more.
Fountains danced upon the sand, becoming flowers for but a moment.
Flowers there would be, but not here, not yet.

Men no longer ran from the surf. They stood with shovels and concrete, waved and shouted.
They built, and the beach disappeared under their construction.
Then they left.

A wave lapped at the shore, foam tinted white.

And the second half of the double feature.


A string. Such a petty, tiny object. Used for mundane tasks, boring tasks. Yet it represents the universe. Ever wonder why that was the case?

Because it is string. Circular, I know. But the infinite possible actions with a piece of string mirror the universe.

Someday, we’ll understand what we see. Truly understand, that is. Right now we build theorems and descriptions and formulae, and no one really comprehends.

When measurement produces what something is, and not what something looks like, then we will know.

And upon that day, we believe.



by thefourpartland

So, this is the first post in a new series about the process of writing. Each week, I will discuss one aspect with a Pantser, while I’ll provide my (a Plotter’s) point of view. For those who don’t know the terms, a Pantser is an author who writes more or less without a plan, while a Plotter is someone who lays everything out before starting work. As with most things in life, there’s a spectrum between the two. Personally, I plot everything over about 10k words in length. Under that, I freewrite. Megg Jensen, my guest author this week, Pantses everything, as she’ll explain shortly.

As we’re both fantasy authors, this week’s topic is World Building, the process of creating those settings that give flavour and excitement to stories not of this world. Read on to see how one of those crazy Pantser people does it, and then follow the link at the bottom to see my response.

When I have the initial idea for a novel, it’s always a tiny spark inside my mind. I will spend days, sometimes months, thinking about where this spark leads. I allow it to live and grow organically, but only in my thoughts. My preferred genre is fantasy, and all of my novels have been written in a world based upon medieval Europe. I have a BA in medieval history and the familiar conventions and customs are firmly rooted in my consciousness.

When I sit down at my laptop and begin a new novel, I am focused more on character than world. Usually the idea for a story comes from a feeling, or an incident. I know what my character wants (which, as we all know is not the same as what a character needs) and write from there. As a YA (young adult) novelist, my books hover between 50,000 to 60,000 words and I rarely think about the ending until I hit 35,000 to 40,000 words.

Rivers, a hidden grove, an isolated island – all these markers on a map spring up while I’m writing. For instance, in ANATHEMA, a character mentioned a range of mountains in the first chapter. It was an offhand comment by a minor character, but one that solidified itself in my mind. Those mountains became a bit more important in the sequel and will be very important in the final novel of the trilogy.

I didn’t plan the mountains. A character told me, and the reader, that the mountains exist. Voila, mountains in this world.

I didn’t spend all my time in college studying castles and knights in shining armor. Religion, and its impact on women, was a huge focus of much of my coursework. My worlds always have a touch of religion and women’s rights thrown in. I don’t consciously do so, or feel that I need to drive home any particular point about them either, however they always make some kind of appearance.

I enjoy the juxtaposition of tropes from the past of our world, combined with people in an entirely imagined world. I strive to stay away from preaching any particular dogma on social or religious issues, but I adore setting an idea in place and watching how it affects all of my characters, rather than letting them change the conventions of the world. We are all victims, in a sense, to the world surrounding us. How we deal with it and maneuver around it is far more interesting than the rules themselves.

As a lover of fantasy, I know magic always has restrictions. Unlimited power is, quite frankly, boring. I’ve never written a novel where magic is accessible to every character and those who do have it usually are able to wield magic in a unique, and hopefully, unpredictable way. Again, it’s not the magic that’s interesting, but the way it’s utilized.

All these reasons lead to why I am pantser in world building (and all aspects of first draft writing). If I write down the rules of a world then I spend too much time fretting about whether or not I’m following them. Spelling it out is like a death sentence for my writing because then my characters aren’t allowed to explore their world; I find they’re more confined by it.

How would I know this if I’m a pantser? Easy. I tried to force myself into being a plotter. The Spock on my shoulder tells me that order and laws make the world a more perfect place. The Kirk inside me jumps on the teleporter and leads an away mission, even though he knows his place is really on the bridge.

On the novel I attempted to world build before the first draft, I found I was bored with it before I even started writing. If I had everything figured out in the beginning, what was the fun in trying to write it? For me, the discovery of the world while writing is the most thrilling part. It allows me to be a reader of my own works, which is the most amazing gift.

Editing, however, is a totally different and detail-oriented beast. That’s when I let my inner-Spock out to play.

Click here to see my response



by thefourpartland

The misery of a friend.
A strange thing, is it not?
Do you comfort them?
Do you push them to move on?

There is a third way.
Use a knife.



by thefourpartland

The Lianese line began to slacken and turn back on itself on one side of the square, and Rhy tried to look over the combat to see what could steal their resolve, but he could see nothing. The scene resolved itself moments later, as several Lianese soldiers collapsed with daggers piercing their throats, revealing a blood-soaked Llofruddiwr standing with two of his long-knives in hand, slashing into his Lianese foes. Caught between a suddenly surging shield wall on one side and a dervish on the other, the Lianese turned back to back, fighting desperately as two of them tried to slay Llofruddiwr. He dismissed their pitiful attempts, catching each strike on his knives before batting one Lianese weapon aside and kicking the soldier in the groin. One foe incapacitated, Llof turned his full attention on the other, and in a whirlwind of cuts and slices, hacked away at the wrist on the sword hand, wounding it until it could no longer hold its weapon. Both foes rendered incapable, he stabbed each, cutting an artery and letting them bleed out.

The Lianese forces on that side of the barricade were soon finished, but two more Veryan troops had fallen, rending their total count down to nine, now that Llofruddiwr had returned to bolster them. That left those nine against fifteen of the Lianese, and the Veryan forces were exhausted. Locsyn could barely stand, having been cut along his thigh, unable to lower the shield to defend himself. Rhocas had gained a wound across the back of his sword hand, and his arm trembled each time he tried to lift the blade. Gwyth stood like a rock, but this rock bled from cut after cut, and even his prodigious strength had slowed and weakened. Only Taflen stood unwounded, for even Rhyfelwyr and Llofruddiwr had been struck. Knowing what must be done, Rhy called out “Charge!” and leapt over the barricade, followed by Llof on his left and Taflen on his right, with the other soldiers a step behind.

Rhy could feel the energy fast draining from his body as he pushed it beyond all limits, and he staggered on his third step, nearly falling to the ground as he struggled with the enemy in front of him. Only a Llof knife-thrust stopped that stumble from being the end, and in a moment Rhyfelwyr was back on his feet, his sword sweeping around in a low arc to cut the ankle of an enemy, shield held high to protect from strikes to the head. Gwyth summoned his massive strength for one last blow, and simply slammed his blade into a Lianese shield, cutting through the wood and metal to drive the tip of his weapon into his foe’s neck. Sword caught in the shield, he let it go and grasped his shield with two hands, laying about him as if it were a club.

The far end of the line was anchored by Rhocas and Locsyn, and they fought as a team, one blocking strikes, the other leaping forward to thrust through the openings created. The style of combat was alien to the Lianese troops, and two fell before they began to understand the rhythm of blows, and drive the two Veryan soldiers backwards. Stumbling, Locsyn was only just able to turn his body to catch the attack on his shield, and he saw Rhocas take a further step back, leaving Locsyn fighting two on his own. Locsysn did all he could to defend himself, not even trying to counter, only trying to deflect the strikes as they came at him. He was rewarded for his skill a few moments later when a lance of blue flame flew over his shoulder and played upon the nearest Lianese troops, incinerating the two he had been fighting, and then turning down the line to catch two more.

The burst of flame from Rhocas left the young mage in a near faint, kneeling on the ground and retching, but it had shattered the Lianese soldiers entirely, and they scattered, a few caught from behind by the daggers of Llofruddiwr, but most escaping, the Veryan soldiers too exhausted to try and follow. Gathering themselves in a tight circle, Taflen applied bandages to the various wounds, cutting strips of cloth from the dead soldiers around them. They waited there for many minutes as the sun passed across the sky, sprawled upon the ground like so many dead, their bodies shut down. Only when the sun began to touch the tops of the buildings did Rhyfelwyr stand again, and gesture the others onwards, towards the warehouses.

Eight Veryan soldiers set out, Rhyfelwyr in the lead. Another had died while they recovered in the market. Rhyfelwyr looked about and his small unit, blood spattered, staggering, and at less than half strength, and wondered why he did this. Why did he lead young men into battle over and over, only to watch them die? He feared he knew the answer: he could do no other thing, that he was such a soldier he could no longer exist outside the strictures of the army. Perhaps he couldn’t, at that.



by thefourpartland

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been part of a group working on a shared world fantasy anthology since Thanksgiving of last year called Splintered Lands. Each week, we post three flash stories, usually as part of an ongoing serial. My current tale is the story of two bumbling, incompetent thieves traveling overland. Below, I’ve included an excerpt from the latest story. If you’d like to start at the beginning, here’s the complete list of entries.

“The only reason I can’t smell you is because you smell like the swamp.”

“It’s a good smell, isn’t it?” Náhte was grinning.

“Náhte, it smells like a foetid latrine. As do you.”

“Oh.” He paused. “Foetid means I smell like a flower, right?”

Butan sighed. “Well, you might make flowers grow.”

“See? I’m pretty!” Náhte danced. “Pretty, oh so pretty!”

Butan tripped him.

Keep Reading



by thefourpartland

The proof arrived yesterday, and I approved it late last night. This morning, I was able to order the first author’s copies of my novel. It’ll hit Amazon soon, and I’ll be sure to let you all know.



by thefourpartland

The second charge came, and it was repulsed in the same way as the first, glass spheres breaking the momentum at point-blank range. There spheres rarely killed, but the clouds of abrasive glass would injure many an eye, and the spray of sharpened waste would make the ground a spike-ridden mess, and for that Rhyfelwyr was grateful. In the brief pause as the Lianese forces gathered for a third charge, Rhy spoke with his squad, pulling them from the lines.

“We’ve lost three of the twenty men we started with, and three more are like Locsyn, wounded. They’re going to throw a third round of javelins, and we’ve already tightened the wall once. Do we charge?”

Taflen looked up, examining the Lianese forces for a long moment before shaking his head. “We stay, we’ll take more of them with us that way.”

Gwyth grunted. “Uplifting, you are.”

Nervously twirling the end of his moustache in one hand, Locsyn shook his head. “Rhocas, can you get us out of this?”

The young mage sighed. “I’ve been training as a mage for only a few days, I can just barely manage summoning fire when I want it. I can’t do one of the giant balls of flame. I’m sorry.”

Rhy patted the young man on the back. “Nothing to be sorry about, you signed on as a soldier and you do a soldier’s job. We stand.” Rhy turned back to his post in the centre of the barricade, and only Taflen heard him mutter that “I hope Llof comes up with something.”

The third trumpet called, and Gwyth readied himself, his shield held high to catch the incoming javelins. His arm ached and a slow trickle of blood flowed from where the arrow had pierced it in the morning, but he ignored the pain, and caught the first Lianese soldier over the wall on his shield, slamming it up into his foe as the man jumped from the barricades. A sword thrust around the side slammed into the Lianese ribs, and Gwyth dumped him off, shield reset to deal with the next foe.

Taflen steadied himself, one foot up on the wooden barrier, and as the first of his foes tried to scramble across, he caught the fool with a hard strike to the helmet, cleaving the protection and leaving his foe writhing on the ground. Two more followed at the same time, pushing Taflen back as he fought to keep his shield in front of one and strike at the other with his sword. The split attention meant neither succeeded, and a thrust at his ribs was only stopped by the quick attention of the Veryan soldier to Taflen’s left. That assistance allowed the historian to strike hard at the legs of the foe to his right, and the sword carved through the shin until it lodged midway into the bone, yanked from his hand as the Lianese soldier fell. With nothing but his shield left, Taflen put his right hand behind the boss and slammed it into the face of his second foe, knocking him backwards. The strike was too late for Taflen’s ally, for in stopping the thrust at Taflen he had left himself open, and a countering blow had left him dying in the dirt. In the brief moment of freedom that he had, Taflen grabbed the sword from his fallen comrade’s hand, stepping backwards and readying himself for the next foe to come.

The shield wall contracted further, with only ten of the original twenty still standing, of which five came from Rhyfelwyr’s squad. He was proud of them, that they would stand against the odds, but some twenty five Lianese soldiers remained to press in on them, and that left Rhy sore at heart. He could see Rhocas calling on his magic, and brief sputters of flame would appear, but the carnage and the chaos of the battle had stolen the mage’s concentration, and soon he fell back on his sword, standing in the shield wall and delivering blow for blow, his face pale with sweat. The young man had seen too little of life to die, and he fought with the strength of the desperate, fear lending power to his strikes, and speed to his counters.



by thefourpartland

A snow white sorrow.
A crimson spill.

There was love here.



by thefourpartland

Several times they were struck from the side or the front by opposing Lianese soldiers, but each time, the Lianese were repulsed, although one close encounter had hung in the balance until Rhocas had gathered himself and sent a jet of flame playing across the Lianese front lines. Their moral broken, the Lianese tried to flee, and were slain by the charging Veryan forces.

Each skirmish brought Rhocas, Rhyfelwyr and their forces closer to the warehouses, and now they could see the bulky shapes only a few streets away, the heavy forms promising food and sustenance for weeks to come. Calling to his troops to rally on, Rhyfelwyr trotted round a corner to find himself in a market square, still filled with the stands and stalls of the hawkers. Cautious for an ambush, he gestured left and right, sending Taflen and Gwyth to scout through the remains. The other soldiers tucked themselves in tightly, forming a small square of shields at the edge of the open area.

Taflen advanced cautiously, his sword and shield held at the ready, eyes as much on the roofs around him as they were on possible foes hidden behind the stalls. Gwyth strode forward, openly challenging any who would dare to come stand with him, using his shield to swipe the stands aside, knocking them to the ground. After both had passed through two-thirds of the square, they glanced at one another, and nodded at Rhyfelwyr. The sergeant led his forces forward at a steady pace, until he glanced upwards and saw Llof standing on the building opposite, waving and point down at the street below. Rhy cursed, then shouted at the men around him. “Square, form a square! Pull the stands in as barricades! Now! Now!”

The Veryan soldiers leapt to obey, with Gwyth picking up two stands at a time and stacking them into a deep wall in the direction that Llof had gestured. Within moments there was a shielded square of Veryan forces, wrapped around by an outer barrier of wooden stalls and market detritus. As they finished readying themselves, Lianese forces poured from two of the streets into the market. Combined, the two forces outnumbered the Veryan three to one or four to one, and Rhy steeled himself for what was to come. Leaning over, he tapped Rhocas on the shoulder. “Don’t both using your magic until we’re engaged. Otherwise, you’ll be a pincushion.” Turning to bellow to the soldiers around him, the sergeant cried out orders for the defence. “Grab spheres! Meet their charge at five paces! Then swords!” The soldiers readied appropriately, their faces showing the strain of half a day fighting in the alleys of Horaim, for the sun stood high overhead, and it had barely crested the horizon when the fire had first struck the north gates of the city. Here and there, a shield or a sword sagged towards the ground, but their comrades would jostle the arm back to its proper place.

A trumpet rang out from within the Lianese forces, and Locsyn saw the javelins being readied that would precede the charge. His arm pained him greatly, and was still all but useless, but he had been able to sling his shield from his shoulder and strap it to his upper arm. He could barely move it, but it covered half his body, and that was better than before. Wordlessly, he took the sphere of glass that Rhocas proffered him and tucked it away in his belt pouch. A second trumpet sounded, and Locsyn ducked down as the Lianese charge began and the javelins flew overhead. Most were deflected away, caught in the barrier or glancing off shields, but a few pierced through the shields, and others found gaps in the defences, opening small holes in the Veryan forces. Men stepped forward to fill the holes, leaving an already thin line even thinner. Soon, Locysn knew he would be called to step into the line, and do the best he could with but one arm.

As the Lianese forces reached three paces from the barricade, Rhyfelwyr cried “Throw!”, and the glass spheres were hurled outward, smashing into the face and shields of their foe, shattering into clouds of abrasive shards and cutting splinters. The front lines of the charge stumbled and collapsed, blinded Lianese soldiers collapsing to the ground with broken and bloodied faces. Those behind tripped and fell over their comrades, leaving the charge a ruin before it even reached the barriers. And now, when they tried to charge again, there would caltrops scattered across the ground, promising injury to any who tried to step forward.

The Veryan forces watched as the Lianese withdrew, picking their wounded up and pulling back to gather against the edges of the market square, building courage for another charge. Rhyfelwyr wished they had been able to take more advantage of the confusion of the broken charge, but that would have meant breaking the shield wall and stepping over the barricades, and giving up that defensive surety for a momentarily opportunity was not worth the cost. He called out, and the second, and last, round of spheres was brought to hand. There would be nothing but the sword after this, and if the Lianese were wise to that and started to bombarbed the Veryan forces with arrows, the only response Rhy could conjure would be a deadly charge over the barricades, into a waiting force. He could only hope that the battle was going well enough elsewhere, so that these Lianese forces did not have the time for a leisurely battle.



by thefourpartland

The sun set that night, as it had so many nights before. It would set again, years hence, but there would be an interregnum, a time in which the sun did not rule the sky.

That time started innocently, for the sun touched the horizon as if it was any other day, bleeding its light out into the world. Indeed, even after the last ray had been blocked by the horizon, none were the wiser.

Yet shortly afterwards, the weather brought a whisper upon the wind, and those who could hear the voices in the breeze gathered their children and hid. Those who could not walked outside, for the land about them had gone silent.

When those who hid emerged from their hovels, they saw nothing, heard nothing, for there was not the slightest glimmer of stars or moon. The lanterns they gathered did little, illuminating only their own shuddering visages.

Courage was amongst the men, and they walked afield, searching through the village for their friends, yet they found none. The homes of their compatriots had vanished with them, leaving holes where once the supports had stood.

The families gathered themselves together, and spoke over the glow of a single candle. They never spoke again of what was decided there that day, but they hoarded what little food they could, and as the days drew on into months, the population dwindled.

The eldest was taken first, and then the next oldest. The village sustained itself in this way, until there was but one small boy left, alone.

He did not die as he starved, but aged until his back was bent and his limbs more twisted than straight. Through all the years he tracked the passage of the days, and on the day of his hundredth birthday, he heard a voice.

It was the first voice other than his own in ninety two years.

“You have proved worthy of this land.” A figure gleamed through the dark, a sun breaking through the clouds.

“There are none left to populate it. I am the last.”

“A pity, isn’t it?”