Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coming soon to a writing blog near you.

Only one hour remains in September.

You know what that means?

Nano season begins tomorrow!

More exciting news from me when the site is back up. :Db

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fun With Maps, Part 2: Lianrawl Wants Your Tanned and Uneducated, But Not Your Pity

I just realized something kinda looks like a penis.
 Back again for more map adventures! Sorry for the absence since last time...laptop blackout kinda killed any and all work ethic for a week or so there.

This time we look at the economy cesspool of Nagnomei. D'aw.


Geography: Lianrawl (lee-an-rawl), the sixth largest kingdom, is a predominately grassy plains region that supports general farming and ranching. The coast to the west is rather gentle and is dotted with numerous fishing towns. To the far east begins an arid desert region that leads into the border with Alanjepsta.

There are two main population zones in Lianrawl: the coastal area and the plains region. The plains are divided between the northern Sandnow Plain and the southern region around Lake Moriah. Lianrawl contains three branches of major highway, two that connect to other kingdoms (north-to-south in the valley and branching east to Alanjespta) and one that is contained completely within the kingdom. The capital city is a fishing port located on the coast, promoting the most prosperous region of the kingdom. Although farming and ranching is popular in the plains, it is not considered to be as profitable as fishing and the only reason for a large population concentration is because of the major highway trade route linking between two major powers Hæroa and Branier. Because of this the coast is considered a popular (and cheap) vacation spot for Hæroa's elite. The major waterway, the Crastine River, flows from Lake Cerulean in the Royal North to southern Lianrawl where it empties out into the ocean. Summers are hot and humid throughout the kingdom, and winters are cool but not usually freezing.
Lianrawl is bordered by three other kingdoms: Hæroa (and to an extent the Royal North) to the north, Alanjepsta to the east, and Branier to the south. Lianrawl is flanked by the Rennidrap Ocean to the west.

Citizenry: Rawlians, as the inhabitants are called, are often portrayed as loyal and pacifistic, the ideal "everyday men". Due to their proximity to the Royal North of Hæroa, however, they were often assaulted with the fallouts of war and have met many hardships over the centuries with recovering their economy and military time and again after constant Branieran raids and lack of assistance from their alliance with Hæroa. Since the long standing times of peace, however, Rawlians have managed to rebuild a considerable amount of their population and are seen as beacons of optimism when facing adversity.
Like all the other kingdoms, Lianrawl is an absolute monarchy, but still subservient to Hæroa’s reigning sovereign. Citizens pay two standard taxes: Homeland Tax (to the Rawlian government) and Royal Tax (to the Hæroan government). The King (or Queen) is responsible for collecting and distributing taxes, overseeing in-kingdom judicial matters, protecting religious matters, supervising Lord holdings, and acting as Head-of-State and official representing face to all other kingdoms. In times of war Lianrawl's monarch was also responsible for arranging tithes to Hæroa, procuring troops, and acting as the western buffer to Hæroa. Heirship is determined by the sovereign throughout the course of their reign, almost always by kinship.

Besides the monarchy, Lord holdings are somewhat common in Lianrawl. However, unlike in other kingdoms (aside from Alanjepsta where eco-industries are not available), Lords do not carry much power and often just run glorified ranches, farms, and ship fleets. Past wars wiped out many of the ancient Lords' bloodlines, and the current governments of Lianrawl and Hæroa are wary over the prospect of rewarding Rawlians with parcels of land and the Lord title, as there are few choices left and many of those are privately owned by other Rawlian citizens. The Lords that do exist are mostly located on the coast, although there are a handful located throughout the valley as well.

Towns, villages, and smaller cities are usually headed by an elected official or board, depending on need and size. Villages collected in common areas will usually form intercity committees for trading and politicking with the capital.

Until recent times, Rawlians themselves were considered uneducated and the plebian leftovers of Hæroa. This combines with the statistic that Lianrawl is the "poorest" kingdom in the continent and creates a stigma that most Rawlians are unable to shake when they travel to other kingdoms. However, Rawlians are viewed as examples of hard workers and people of paramount character to make up for what they lack in education and economics - "farmer tans" are considered fashionable. A very small university branch (the smallest on the continent) is located in the capital city, but is grossly underfunded and most academic prodigies are instead referred to the main campus in the Royal North.

Most of Lianrawl's cultural practices outside of religion are regarded as Hæroan copies...a common joke throughout the continent is that the only real differences between a Hæroan and a Rawlian are that Rawlians are darker and Hæroans can read. What Lianrawl lacks in long-standing art and critic culture, however, is made up by its elite base carpentry skills. Although not considered the best or most aesthetic in the continent, Rawlians are often praised for sturdy construction and carving.

Lianrawl has its own native language, Rawlian, but it is not studied or practiced outside of priesthood. The language itself is considered to be related to the native language of Branier, which is also not studied or practiced outside of the priesthood. Everyone in Lianrawl speaks the same language as the rest of the continent.

Religion: Lianrawl's respected god is Shiloh, the deity of the sun, day, and life, and the counterpart to Earth’s Judaism. His temple is located along the main highway in Sandnow Plain, just south of the western branch that reaches towards the coast. It is most notable for its gold trimming and accessibility to the public, whereas most other head temples are located in more remote regions. Both men and women are welcome to serve him as priests and priestesses, although there are vastly more of the former than the latter. His servants are allowed to marry, drink, and partake in other privileges that other gods may not allow. For this Shiloh is often regarded as a merciful, kind god that is open to assisting any and all people, not just Rawlians. Ironically, Shiloh is seen as the primary god of music and other artistic endeavors, which his people in turn are not known for. He is often depicted with a flute or a lyre in many paintings and statues of his likeness...he is often shown in usual "male" wear as well, with short hair and a pointed physique, when in reality he has long, flowing hair and a lean build. Although "available", he does not show himself to people that often, and instead prefers to walk amongst towns anonymously and under the guise of a Rawlian Priest, which prompts almost all households to always welcome a Priest of Shiloh into their homes.

Lianrawl's holiest day of the week is Shiday, two days before Gylday (Sunday). Most worshippers attend weekly services at local temples on these days, where they pray and sing for a majority of their time. Attendance is not mandatory, however, and one is not looked down on for skipping or never going at all; instead, worship is seen as an open time for socializing and, frankly, "partying". The only real restriction on Shiday is that Rawlians are not permitted to practice business with each other, as it is a day for "no tension".

Although many Rawlians do not realize themselves how many restrictions there are in their lives, most from other kigndoms find their dietary and other practices odd. Rawlians are forbidden from eating any pork products, and all other meats must be ritualistically cleansed after slaughter. It used to be forbidden to eat dairy products alongside meals with meat as well, until many famines forced the notion out of practice. In concordance with Lianrawl's fixation on farming in the valley region, a day of fasting and repentance is practiced on the eve of harvest, prompting citizens to be extra grateful for the food they cultivate from the earth and seas. Unlike other continental religions which allow the asking of forgiveness of mortal sins year-round, Rawlians only have this one day of the year to purify their souls. Many festivals are held in the spring and summer months that give extra praise and worship to the sun, but Lianrawl's most sanctified holiday occurs during the dead of winter before the new year and is considered a familiar affair. Each household in Lianrawl possesses a candelabra that they light every day for a week in penance to the absent sun, from Shiday to Shiday. It is customary to exchange new year's gifts at this time. Lianrawl's most infamous tradition is the circumcising of infant males after birth, a practice only found in that kingdom.

Shiloh's Messenger, and thus Lianrawl's official mascot, is Phoenix. Motifs and designs in the shape of a phoenix (and sun) are very popular throughout the kingdom. Phoenix's nest is up in the Fritayian mountains, although some travelers claim to see him roosting throughout the plains as well. Once a year on the first day of spring he molts, and his feathers are rare, high-valued items for the lucky few who find them. Phoenix's ritual of yearly rebirth plays as a symbol for the economically poor Rawlians to remain optimistic and always striving to better themselves.

Rawlians enjoy a pseudo-alliance with Nixey due to their deity, Alillia, being the twin of Shiloh. There is an unspoken vow in either kingdom to provide shelter and sanctuary to each other’s people if necessary while traveling, although Rawlians rarely travel to Nixey. Alillia is not given as much credence in Lianrawl as Shiloh is in Nixey due to her dark nature and emphasis on feminism to the exclusion of men.

A recent addition to religion in Lianrawl is the construction and inclusion of the Temple of Fate just south of Sandnow Plain and next to the highway that connects to Alanjepsta. Its placement was decided based on Fate's relations with both kingdoms deities: she is the lover of Shiloh and daughter of Alanjepsta's Kami. Fate does not have an associated kingdom, and thus Rawlians are not obligated to serve her in any way other than respecting her temple and its servants. Lianrawl is the only kingdom in all the continent to have a head temple for more than one deity.


Yeah we have fun.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Computer Kills More Characters Than I Do

It looked like this.
There's something to be said about irony.  I mean, besides the fact that it's my favorite thing ever and you would never guess I'm prone to being anemic.   But irony is only really cool when it happens to other people.  When it happens to you? Not so much.

Here's some irony for you:  on Labor Day I was futzing around, thinking about going to grab my flash drive to back up my latest writing files that had been sitting on my hard-drive for a couple weeks.  Well, before I could say "WHAT'S SOMETHING YOU SHOULD DO AFTER COMPLETING A DOCUMENT, EH?" Firefox crashed on me.  And it crashed hard.  It crashed so hard that it also took Windows Media Player out with it.  And Word.  And anything else I had opened at the time.

...And Windows.

I was forced to do a hard reset, as my laptop is prone to making me do every so often, and didn't think much of it besides a bit of an annoyance.  Well, Windows entered Startup Repair hell.  By the end of the night I was resigned to the fact I would probably have to reinstall Windows and brought out the alternate OS to salvage some files know, like those writing files I meant to backup. But for some HORRIBLE reason none of the other OSes could find my document folders! So I finally realized the inevitable...I would have to reinstall and lose just about everything.

I write to you now from my new installed windows.  Thankfully, a majority of my writing projects were backed up and even to date about a month ago.  So, all is not lost.  Just the latest chapter of The Key of Nixey and the last two (thankfully short!) chapters I wrote for CROSS//Rebirth.  I have about 20 pages in total to rewrite, which is utterly obnoxious, but not the all end of the world.  The trick is just to remember what I wrote!

So, learn from me, fellow document creators...aaaaalways baack up your stuff the moment they're created! I'll definitely be more vigilant in saving my extended files to other sources just so I don't have to repeat the rewriting bullpocky that I haven't had to do since 2000. Fudge.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Hello? Random person? I have a question for my novel...yes, I can hold?"

This covers everything!
From the wonderful people over at Not Always Right,

Me: “Thank you for calling [Gas Station]. How may I help you?”
Customer: “Do you shoot guns?”
Me: “Uh… what?”
Customer: “Well, I know your gas station hires some athletic young men and I was wondering if you knew anything about guns?”
Me: “Actually, I do know a decent amount about guns and shooting.”
Customer: “If you threw a gun in the air and shot it with another gun, would it explode?”
Me: “Wait, what? Why?”
Customer: “Oh, well in the book I’m writing the sheriff is fighting the robber on the balcony of the theatre, and the robber’s gun flies into the air and the sheriff shoots it. Would it explode or hurt anyone?”
Me: “Well, it probably wouldn’t explode, but it would probably discharge either when struck by the bullet or when it hits the ground.”
Customer: “Would it hit someone?”
Me: “You’re the author, ma’am.”
Customer:  “Oh, thank you very much!  I’ll send you a copy when it’s published!”

 What has this piece of idiocy taught me? If I have a question for my novel, I just have to call somebody to get an answer!

Now it all makes sense! Yesterday when I was researching tectonic plates, I should've just called any of my friends living in Japan because they get a lot of earthquakes!  When researching the effects of crack cocaine I should've called the cops because they see that shit all the time! And most of all, when researching the average male penis size yesterday I should've called the local Mason Lodge because there's a lot of dick there!

I can just imagine the conversation!

Him: Hello?
Me: Hi!
Him: Can I help you?

Me: What's the average male penis size?
Him:Excuse me?

Me: Oh, well, I know you're all male members there, so I thought maybe y'all compare in the showers and could tell me! What's your average?

Me: Well you see it's for my novel, so...
Him: I..I don't know Ma'am, however big you want it to be? You're the author!

Me: Oh, okay! So eight inches then? Thanks so much I'll send you a copy when it's done!
Him: Ma'am I don't think we'll be much interested in a novel talking about penis size.

Me: *click*
Thankfully I have all those minutes saved up on my phone! This is going to be great, everything is possible now!
And then I go to jail. Sigh.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fun With Maps, Part 1: Nixey is for Pretty Girls (Boys Can Exit Out the Back)

Yeah, all other kingdoms are pasty white.
Unemployment makes one such as myself go to bitter extremes to feel productive, especially when under the scrutinizing eye of extended family.  This want for productivity has led me to create more extensive maps of my self-created fantasy world that is the namesake and setting of my series Nagnomei. While I have (slightly altered over the years) world maps of the overall continent, I realized I needed, for my sake at the very least, to make detailed maps of each individual kingdom.  And, in the process, I also created slightly encyclopedia-like fact sheets for the kingdoms.  For whatever reason I decided to start with Nixey, probably because it's part of the title of the first novel. 

The maps mark important things such as rivers, mountains, highway routes, major religious sites (such as official temples), capital cities, and major (appx. 500+ people) villages.  They're not drawn to any particular scale or topography - basically whatever helps me as the author keep track of what goes where. Naming conventions are a mixture of words related to the moon, Celtic origins, and some made up funzies.

The full sized version of the map (taken with a digital camera, sorry, no scanner) can be viewed here.



Geography:  Nixey (nix-ay), the fourth largest kingdom, enjoys a relatively even landscape, featuring fertile valleys for farmsteads and ranches that are supported by generous rivers and lakes.  The eastern coast is a bit jagged and uninhabitable due to its perilous cliffs, but the southern coasts are met at sea level and support thriving fishing communities.

Nixey can be divided up into three general zones:  the Crescent Peninsula, the Artunian Valley in the northeast, and the Full Moon Forest and Tsudine Mountain religious zones in the west.  The kingdom’s population can be divided evenly between the first two zones:  the capital city and main cultural city attract settlers to the valley, and attractive fishing and farming industries keep people settled in the peninsula area.  Major highways and general trade-routes connect both these regions to each other and the rest of Nagnomei. 

Nixey is bordered by three other kingdoms:  Hæroa to the north, Alanjepsta to the west, and Artino to the south.  Nixey is flanked by the Rennidrap Ocean to the east.

Citizenry: Nixians, as the inhabitants are called, enjoy a stable economy and exuberant peace, in-part to their pacifistic ways and long standing alliance with powerful Hæroa. However, like all other kingdoms, Nixey’s government trains and employs a fit army that protects its borders (particularly to the south) and patrols its coasts.   Nixey has the second highest amount of knightings per year in the continent, second only to Hæroa.

Like all the other kingdoms, Nixey is an absolute monarchy, but still subservient to Hæroa’s reigning sovereign.  Citizens pay two standard taxes: Homeland Tax (to the Nixian government) and Royal Tax (to the Hæroan government).  The King (or Queen) is responsible for collecting and distributing taxes, overseeing in-kingdom judicial matters, protecting religious matters, supervising Lord holdings, and acting as Head-of-State and official representing face to all other kingdoms.  In times of war Nixey’s monarch was also responsible for arranging tithes to Hæroa, procuring troops, and acting as the eastern buffer to Hæroa.  Heirship is determined by the sovereign throughout the course of their reign, almost always by kinship.  Nixey is the only kingdom to have had more sovereign Queens than Kings.

Besides the monarchy, Lord holdings are very common in Nixey, in part to its strong economy.  Multi-generation holdings dot the valleys, providing a majority of Nixey’s agricultural exports.  Nixey’s Lords and Ladies are among the richest in Nagnomei.

Towns, villages, and smaller cities are usually headed by an elected official or board, depending on need and size.  Villages collected in common areas will usually form intercity committees for trading and politicking with the capital.

Nixey is seen as a cultural and artistic oasis in the otherwise harsh eastern part of the continent.  Nixians pride themselves on their personal endeavors, and it is common presumption that almost all Nixians enjoy the finer things above all else.  Nixian artists are considered among the most revered in the world. Beauty is held in high regard - Nixey is the only kingdom to sponsor official contests and pageants.  Lavish lifestyles for hundreds of years have afforded much of the kingdom’s citizens - even the lower-class ones - a standard that is unmatched even in Hæroa.  However, this makes marriage matches outside of the kingdom difficult as many do not wish to deal with the “high maintenance” attitudes of the Nixians.  Nixians are the largest consumers of gemstones (particularly from Branier) on the continent.

Academia is also well respected in Nixey.  The kingdom’s university branch is considered second only to the main campus in the Royal North, making it a haven for those living in the east who wish to attend the main campus one day.  Like the main campus, the Nixey University focuses on politics, religion, history, language, and art.  Its math and science departments, however, are rather underfunded.

Religion: Nixey’s respected goddess is Alillia, the deity of the moon, night, and death, and the counterpart to Earth’s general Pagan religions.  Alillia’s head temple is located in the western portion on the outskirts of the Full Moon Forest - the forest is considered holy, Alillia’s recreational hunting grounds, and is prohibited to the general public on pain of the goddess’s own wrath.  Since Alillia is a virgin goddess, only women are allowed to serve her.  Nixey in turn has very high feminist attitudes, and its women enjoy one of the most liberated climates in the continent.  The further western regions, following the Artemis River into the Tsudine Mountains, is also considered holy - it is here that Alillia’s tribes gather and settle, practicing illegal sorcery and worshipping the goddess in turn.  Nixey’s related magic on the “Tapping Clock” is light and wind, and since this is the simplest form of sorcery, many Nixians have the innate ability to cast simple light and air spells.  (Although this is illegal outside of the Royal Family and Ashinya Tribesmen.) Remnants of the last of three major Ashinya tribes in all of Nagnomei exist in the ruins of Bomsana.

Nixey’s holiest day of the week is Aliday, three days before Gylday (Sunday).  Instead of attending services at community temples, however, worshippers are instead encouraged to make offerings from their own homes:  the most popular one is the ritualistic burning of a virgin girl’s lock of hair, accompanied with a prayer for purity. 

Alillia is known as the most proactive god of the pantheon - in wrath.  She is easily angered and quick to punish those who have broken her laws.  Because of this, religious participation is high throughout the kingdom, even amongst men.  Hunting is closely monitored so as to not tread on Alillia’s sacred grounds, and it is common practice amongst wandering men to enter all clearings blindfolded in case a woman may be bathing there...for aside from trespassing on holy ground, the other big slight to the goddess is to mistreat women.  Alillia’s highly conservative attitudes towards sex and gender interactions means her priestesses take an oath of virginity.  Assaulting a priestess of Alillia is a capital offense, dealt with by Alillia herself.

Alillia’s Messenger, and thus Nixey’s official mascot, is Dragon.  Motifs and designs in the shape of a dragon (and moon) are very popular throughout the kingdom.  Dragon resides when not in use by his master in a series of caves throughout the Tsudine Mountains, also contributing to their holy status.  He can sometimes be seen flying to and from the Royal Village, conversing with the monarchy and even picking up and dropping off those traveling between Nixey and the Royal North. The only other to command Dragon is Alillia’s Ashima - the monarch may only use him as liaison to the goddess.

One unique attribute in Nixey is clusters of stone circles found throughout the kingdom.  These were once used by the most primitive people to converse with Alillia when Dragon was not around.  These stone-henges are regarded as public holy grounds for both men and women, and are one of Nixey’s chief tourist attractions.

Nixians enjoy a pseudo-alliance with Lianrawl due to their deity, Shiloh, being the twin of Alillia.  There is an unspoken vow in either kingdom to provide shelter and sanctuary to each other’s people if necessary while traveling.  Also because of this, Nixey is the only kingdom to have a third “unnofficial” deity.  After Alillia and Gylara, Shiloh is looked highly upon as he also supports the arts and is considered beautiful, as is his sister.  He also acts as a male buffer for the men of the kingdom, who often feel shunned by their own kingdom’s goddess.  It is also said that blonde Nixians are a sign that that person is unable to Tap - although both Alillia and Shiloh are blonde, Alillia’s official related hair color is silver, and Nixians with silver or white hair (usually of Ashinya tribes) are regarded as candidates for master sorcery. Shiloh is the only male entity allowed to enter Alillia’s head temple, as he often does just to prove he can.

A common misconception about Nixey’s religious practices is that they secretly sacrifice virgins to Alillia.  Both the monarchy and Alillia herself condemn such acts as religious treason.


That was so much fun and productive. UNTIL NEXT TIME (aka when I finish the next map).