The uneducated rumbled Rube.

I’ll be honest – I had to look this daily prompt up and work out what it meant: Rube! It’s a word that I’ve never come across before. However, I have recently been writing a chapter where I think this is demonstrated…

The tower appeared on the road. Made from large grey stones, hewn from the local mountain side it was quickly lost in the canopy as they drew closer. It was a large square building with stables and cleared paddock beside it. A pair of bay horses looked up as they approached, tails shaking off the pestilence of summer flies. A large archway extended across from the side of the tower, over the road. Where the pillars of the arch ended, and on the far side of the tower, a stone wall extended. This was the border between Ipito and Staven.

They were forced to slow their horses, or charge through the guards who stood in the centre of the arch. Their helmets were rounded at the top and shone with polish. They were both tall, broad men wearing chain main beneath a tunic with the King’s crest emblazoned on the front. As Kit and Lyris approached, they levelled spears at the charging horses, the wooden butts pressed into the hard dirt and steadying the points. Kit’s pony was first to stop, skidding to a halt and twisting away. Kit turned her quickly and waved a greeting at the men.

Storm, always reluctant to obey anyone other than his own desires had run further and was forced to rear, kicking out at the spears. Lyris clung to his neck, praying that she wouldn’t fall off and break her neck, before they could rescue Arn. When the horse landed on his four feet again, huffing with fury, he danced on light feet and she remained, clinging to his main. Her legs and arms felt like water, flowing and trembling with every small movement. This was not the time to be afraid. The young woman forced herself to sit up. Sparrows were hopping between the pine trees and a hawk circled overhead, casting a shadow on the mottled ground.

‘Speak,’ the first guard demanded, ‘what is your business in Staven?’

‘Did a cart pass this way?’ The words tumbled free, breathless. Lyris had intended to introduce herself, thoughts of formal requests for help spinning through her mind. The young woman knew that she needed their assistance, and quick passage through the pass but despite the churning concern, the words came again before the guard could answer. Lyris steadied Storm with a hand against the tall horses’ neck.

‘Did a cart pass this way?’ She demanded, urgent.

The guard, affronted, glanced at his companion before, features stern. ‘Our question first, mistress.’

As Lyris opened her mouth to protest, he lifted a gloved hand from the spear and set the weapon on it’s end resting against his shoulder. The guard beside him copied his action and Lyris felt Storm release a breath of tension. Long legs quivering beneath her.

‘It’s our duty to stop and question all those who pass,’ confident that he had regained control the first man had settled into a slower speech and northern drawl. His a’s and r’s extending.

Kit had circled his pony again and drew level with his companion.

‘Sir,’ he bowed low across the front of the saddle, hand swept with dramatic gallantry to one side. The trader looked to Lyris, begging a moment of her patience before he continued. ‘We’re tracking a wagon that passed through these gates,’

The guards looked uninspired.

‘Has a wagon passed through?’

The young woman lifted her eyes to the heavens, the pale blue sky was starting to darken again. A natural rain was gathering at the peak of the mountain.  If they could move on with their journey, she could track Arn without draining her powers.

‘A lot of wagons’ pass through here, lad,’ the first guard lent on his spear, ‘but that doesn’t explain your business beyond the border.’

So this is more of an extract from the Poisoned Well and it’s the chapter responsible for slowing me down! The paragraphs from this section must have been written months apart but hopefully you can’t notice…

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Tender – But Should We Be?

A response to today’s daily prompt of Tender

I’ve been giving some careful consideration this week to the creation of characters, and the advice I could share on this.

Tender is a lovely word isn’t it. The tender loving care, devotion and gentle hands are conjured by its appearance on a page. It’s a beautiful description for a character and perhaps embodies a characteristic of personality trait we’d like to explore. However, I think it’s also how we tend to treat our characters – with caution. Your characters, once fully fledged start leaving the metaphorical nest and it’s hard to let them go. Harder still to let them crash to rock bottom. I for one, try to protect my characters. That doesn’t mean that I don’t let anything happen to them, but I always write in an escape hatch – a way out. A way to mitigate the dark circumstances. I can’t help but feel that maybe I shouldn’t – that they would be stronger characters with me hovering around with a parachute or eager to pick them up when they fall.

Enough musings for now – onto the serious business.

Character Creation – Names

(Because I’ve just realised how much there is to discuss around this topic – oh my)

I have a feeling that this part of my ‘writing advice’ series is going to take more posts than intended. That can only be a good thing – right?

Let’s start with the basics

Who is this character? Is it your main character, a supporting member of the cast, or a background extra?

If your answer is ‘Main protagonist,’ then carry on reading – if not, then I’m sure one day soon I’ll have information about the other types of character creation. Although, a lot of my advice is going to be very very similar…

Now, I struggle with names for my characters. Always have and probably always will unless I dive into a Tolkien-esq exploration of language and development. The problem with names, is that they mean so much!

Take Bob Brown as a name. What does it make you think of? It makes me think of someone maybe a bit boring, steady. I think of a middle-aged man and Brown – well it’s not an exciting colour is it. Those two simple words, two simple names come packed with associations we already have stuffed into our minds. What’s more, Bob Brown is alliteration, and when I see names like Bob Brown, Matt Murdock, Peter Parker – I think superhero.

Bob Brown – tax accountant by day, crime fighter by night?

Now transplant Bob Brown into a fantasy setting and hang on a minute. Do those two words have different associations in the world I am building? Brown – is it a colour of power? A symbol of status high or low? What if this is a civilisation where castes are allocated a colour. Brown could be the lowest of the low, Bob Brown could be rebelling against the absurdity of having your life mapped out because of your name and perhaps that is why he’s a super hero in this context?!

What if Bob is short for Roberta?  Bob is a woman trying to gain her shield as a knight.

Looking at the history of the name, Bob from Wikipedia- It most likely originated from the hypocorism Rob, short for Robert.

According to Wikipedia – Robert is a Germanic name.

Now if Bob comes from Robert, and Robert is Germanic, and Bob is my main protagonist in this story – then how closely do I centre the rest of the names in the book on Germanic language? If Bob is the only Germanic name, and the rest has a basis in Hebrew or Polynesian culture – then there might be some jarring.

There are some very very useful name finders online. Baby name search tools are wonderful – and I love forming new words and names from a selection of meanings and finding a name that utterly embodies the personality I’m aiming for.

My advice is to investigate current languages and to play with them for your fantasy worlds. Once you get the name of your protagonist clear in mind, you’ll be naming cities, towns, forests, gorges and everything else that they encounter. If Bob is a stranger to those lands, then it makes perfect sense for his name to be of a different sound and origin. If this is where he was born and has lived his entire life – then his name should possibly be more common in the surroundings.

In The Poisoned Well, I have a character called Redston – A baron. Now, this has raised several questions, are the names of my nobility based on geological features, or is Redston a one off? What I’ve developed is Redston’s backstory, which may never feature in the book, but he is a man of the Northern Mountains. Mountains that are rich with Iron deposits which make them (surprisingly) red. His ancestors were born in the mountains and they carry the name of their heritage with pride. He is proud to be Redstone. However, times move and his own Barony is further to the South in Golden Fort. This may be a fairly simplistic way of naming and world building, but I feel that this small snippet of history has given Redston a feeling of Authenticity. There has been a change in his life, an arc of development that he has undergone – off screen or off page as it were.

What does Redston as a name tell you as well? Red – firey, passionate, red-headed? Stone – stubborn, forceful, slow to move? But the Stone is shortnened – meaning that there has been a development in his history, this is an old name because it’s been corrupted over time. Just like places called Little Town might now be Littleton.

What are you thoughts? How do you find names for your characters?

With a little help from my friends…

I hate missing deadlines, and I definitely dropped a few last week!

Despite my determination to blog twice a week that has certainly been falling by the wayside. However, as I said in my latest blog, I’ve got to stop beating myself up and just get started again.  I’ve also missed my deadline for the cover reveal, which is a real shame. This due to a few things, firstly, I realised a few weeks ago that the intended release for The Poisoned Well was going to be pushed back. I was toying with the idea of forwarding a few different covers and holding a vote for your favourite one. In the end, I’ve taken the last minute decision to follow my own instincts with the design – although it didn’t leave me much time to finalise the tiny details.

So, here are the things I’ve learnt this week about attempting to write with an aim to self-publish.

  1. Be more realistic with timeframes.

Then you won’t feel like you’ve failed when you meet those arbitrary targets. It’s great to have a goal, but as with anything, the goals are probably going to be stretched and setback. I don’t know of any house build that has even come in on time, and I have watched a lot of Grand Designs.

  1. When the times are going to slip – be open and honest.

Then you get to move on and shake off some of the guilt. It’s hard to complete anything with that big old cloud hanging over your shoulders.

  1. Gotta’ keep writing.

I missed some targets…but I’ve still got a manuscript to finish. I’ve just got to keep going and slowly, but surely, my goal is coming closer! I had 12,000 words and now I have more than 24,000! My intention is a manuscript of 50,000 words –ish. At the moment I can imagine the story has got enough legs to reach between 50,000-60,000 which is exciting!

So here we go, I don’t have a cover to reveal just yet, but it’s on its way. What I do have is gorgeous piece of fan art based on the original design – so exciting and I hope that you like it! Thank you Hollie for drawing this for me, I love it!

Without a little Collaboration this beautiful picture would not exist, and nor would the forthcoming cover 🙂

Happy Writing!

Fibi