The World Full of Goblins

One of my other passions, aside from writing and loving my partner/family/friends, is playing the table-top game of Magic the Gathering. I’ve been playing it for a while now; I think for about 10 years or so, on and off. Before I played that, I was a Dungeons & Dragons boy since a young teen – oh, the 80’s, my sort of real life Stranger Things!

But from this diet of fantasy gaming I learnt to appreciate how things worked when it came to writing my own stories. And more importantly, how magic works, it’s limitations (because magic systems should have limitations), and what it can and can’t do in given situations. I also came to appreciate the monsters. So many monsters! I love ’em.

Because without monsters, and let’s face it, there isn’t much fantasy, is there? And I’m also talking about those inner demons within characters as well here. The bad guys, as it were. But for the visible kind of monsters, the ones you stick your sword into because otherwise they’d claw your face off, I think you can’t beat the good ol’ goblin! The large numbers of which can overwhelm in a bloodlust frenzy. What fun to write, that’s for sure.

And in Magic the Gathering (see how I’m going back to my original line of thought here) goblins have sure undergone a wonderful artistic change. Let me show you some examples.

From the “Alpha” set (the first Magic set played for public consumption, I believe) there are these two baddies:

I must say, if you have one of these two cards from the Alpha set, you’re not rich but you’ve certainly got some coin there. A quick search on eBay puts “Goblin Balloon Brigade” from this set anywhere between AU$300 – AU$1000 depending on condition. Wow!

Next up is the goblins of “Portal,” so let’s look at them:

I don’t know what it is, but I love this sort of artwork. To me, it holds an innocence, a naivety, if you will. I love the old style borders as well. I have a few of these in my collection. But no, I won’t be holding my breath about what they’re worth. Unless it’s a rare card, most common and uncommon goblins from this era will sell for about AU$1.00 – AU$10.00. So no Ferrari for me, then! Darn it! LOL

We now move on to the more modern goblins. The shiny art. The slick design. The neatness of it all. Here are a few of my favourites:

As you can see, things have got very sophisticated when it comes to goblin art. In the more modern sets, goblins can fetch anywhere between AU$1.00 – AU$150.00, again depending on rarity.

I also love the “Flavour” text at the bottom of a lot of the goblin cards (the lines printed in italics as seen in some of the cards above). From other cards (not shown) there are also lines like: “We can take ’em – you go first.” and “With great power comes great risk of getting yourself killed.” and “Does it matter what it is? Take it and be grateful!” and finally, “I found a new toy. Wanna play?

Lines like that crack me up every single time. I love it!

But the best goblin flavour line of all is: “Never underestimate the power of overwhelming stupidity in overwhelming numbers.”

And with that, I’ll end today’s post! Thank you for reading my ramblings.

Talk soon.

It’s Just Not Cricket

No matter how or where the game of cricket is played, it is cricket! The title and contents of this post are about something completely different. Read on to find out…

To begin, I’ve been reading fantasy (and science fiction, historical fiction, as well as many other genres too) since as far back as I can remember. I read a lot of books, have a massive ‘to be read’ pile, as well as bookshelves full of books. Too many books. I never, not ever, not once, when I choose a book to read think:

“Oh, this is so-and-so’s competitor, so I won’t buy that book.”

NOT EVER!

I read what I read, and I read what I like. If I buy the entire collection or back catalogue of an author because I like their work, then so be it. But that won’t stop me buying another author in the same genre. Or even authors who use similar themes or tropes as others I’ve read and enjoyed. Far from it.

And as an author, I see fellow authors as a community. People I use for support and people I give support to equally. It’s how I’ve always worked. And yes, I will buy their books. I will buy any book of any author, that’s also called giving support. Of course, there are many different ways to give support as well. Whatever works for you.

But the thing to remember is this, publishers need books, agents need authors, and authors do need support from their fellow authors, such as in critique groups, beta reading situations, encouragement, etc. Even a ‘hey how you doing?’ email or message is sometimes more than enough. You get the idea. What I’m saying is, in this day and age, we do not need to write in isolation.

Sure, we all want our books to do well. And yes, there is that competitive urge to be noticed, be bought, and have our stories read and loved, but that shouldn’t translate to having feelings that other authors are competition. Remember the first paragraphs of this post: readers read many, many books. There is also no excuse to be nasty or derogative towards anther author – and using racial, homophobic, or bigoted slanders against another author because of a perceived threat of ‘competition’ is just not on. Or, as my grandfather used to say, “It’s just not cricket.”**

So yes, have the desire and need for your books to do well. Have that hunger. It’s healthy and shows your passion. Promote your work. Be voracious about it. But in going so – as a writer – you are not the ‘barbarians at the gate’ towards other authors who you believe must be slain without remorse and at any cost.

Talk later!

**The phrase, “it’s just not cricket” was first used in the 1949 English movie of the same name starring Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, and is to say that something is unfair, or someone is being unsportsmanlike, or dishonest, or being a douchbag. Examples: I can’t believe you went on twitter to dis other authors who you think are stealing your books sales. It’s just not cricket, and you’re only hurting yourself.

All Scanned

As a follow up to my last post, I have now (after a few days work) completed the scans of the companion to my story “The Magician’s Familiar.” The scans have then been cleaned up and many of the wording re-done so it is now clearer.

Originally, I’d made the companion on aged brown paper, so yeah, not ideal when it came to making clean copies of it. But I persisted and managed it as best I could. Sure, I had to take the scrapbook apart to get a proper flatbed scan of the pages, but it was something I had to do.

Here are some samples of what I’ve done (I’ve used the same images as I did for the last post so you can compare the two):

I did it more true colour. Unfortunately some of the images I’d used to make the original companion didn’t scan well and got lost in the translation, so to speak (the portrait of Eltham here, for example). Then again, I do like the fuzziness, as it makes the book look more earthy. And the original photo I used was a vintage one. So there was that.

When I re-did the writing, I also made sure it was slightly blurred a bit to fit into the look of the book as well. In the end, the font I selected was Lucinda Calligraphy, and I think that works well considering the grimoire in the story was drawn by Eltham’s Helping Hand, Hieronymus (the hand of a long dead Healer Magician who now helps apprentice magicians by penning their spell books as they reach each level of ability).

I’m happy with this one. And yes, that’s my own scrawl there! I referenced a lot of medieval ‘jokes’ and superstitions when I created this companion – frogs seem to feature a lot. A lot of the jokes I used are from Poggio Bracciolini, the Italian scholar and humanist, and author of the “Facetiae” (joke book) published in 1470. One of my favourites (and featured in the companion here) is:

Several persons were conversing in Florence, and each was wishing for something that would make him happy; such is always the case. One would have liked to be the Pope, another a king, a third something else, when a talkative child, who happened to be there, said, “I wish I were a melon.” “And for what reason?” they asked. “Because everyone would smell my bottom.” It was usual for those who want to buy a melon to apply their noses underneath.” – Poggio Braciolini, 1459.

And the funny thing about it is, that’s exactly what a boy might say, even today (but not as politely worded one would image).

This page is actually featured in the book to help Eltham and Ryan come to an understanding once Hieronymus had penned it. Again, I like the blurriness, as if it was “drawn” by the Helping Hand in a hurry, which is the intention, of course.

There. That’s it for now!

To Draw Upon The Familiar’s Own

Okay, I’ve just finished my latest work, “The Magician’s Familiar” and yeah, really feeling the emptiness after having written some 115k, diverse characters that I loved – no, adored – and had a story that has been with me for a very long time. Years, in fact. As I started writing this one in 2017. Wow! No wonder I know Eltham, Ryan, Logor, and Drake so well!

I even made a companion to the story, a sort of “bible” if you will which explained the magic and other things that happened within the main book. And yes, I actually made this with my own drawings, by sticking things onto the pages, gluing in pretty papers, and using stickers from a craft shop as well as lettering and other fancy things. Its about 64 pages long! I remember it took me ages!

Here are some sample pics of it (some of these pages are described in the actual book too):

I used the images of my characters in the book I made so I knew what they’d be like when I wrote them. Also, a lot of things have changed since I did this “bible” for the practicality/logic/plot of the story being the main reason. But yeah, the bones of it all started here. It’s funny when I read over this now knowing what I kept and what I had to change for the story. Then again, I may add some of the elements in future tales. Never know!

I can’t wait until you can all read “The Magician’s Familiar” as I hope to post more things about it soon, including the blurb and a release date. Stay tuned.

Recharging the Batteries

I know I haven’t been around much lately. I haven’t even been on social media much either (and I’ve realised how refreshing that is to be absent from such things, both for my time and my mental health).

The thing is, after writing two stories in the Hereward series (over 250,000 words in less that 6 months), and almost halfway through the third book now, I realised I needed to take a break and recharge the batteries, so to speak.

To put it simply, the story needed me to take a step back. The waters were becoming muddy, so I needed to let things settle. As each day passes, things are becomming clearer and I have been writing once more, but not with so much pressure on myself.

It’s nice.

In the meantime, and between writing at a better pace, I started reading lots and gained more and more inspiration from other sources. One surprise I found was that I enjoyed reading Manga – sure, the Japanese translations were often wonky, but the artwork is breath-taking more often than not.

Here’s a cover of one such Manga I enjoyed (which is a series involved around a swim team and the young men who love each other).

I have also been reading more ‘Legend of Drizzt’ books and really enjoying them. I’m up to the 9th book where dark happenings are going on in the Underdark and Drizzt is being drawn into a war he’s tried to prevent between the Drow and the Dwarves.

Anyway.

Just thought I’d check in.

Drizzt!

I haven’t posted a book review (which isn’t really a review, just ramblings, as I’m known to do) because I’ve read a couple of books which didn’t interest me recently. One I did not finish. Life is too short to continue with stories one finds they cannot cope with.

But then I stumbled across “The Legend of Drizzt Do’Urden” books and well…I’m completely hooked. I’m up to book 6 and I have to say, I believe all the hype when it comes to this character. Yes, Drizzt is one of fantasy’s seminal characters, and as such, his story is one of adventure, magic, and friendships found.

I’m loving them so far.

Book 1, Homeland, introduces us to Drizzt and how he is quite different from all the other dark elves. A rich story already, full of character and culture. Very good.

The second book, Exile, we begin to see Drizzt realise he doesn’t belong in the subterranean world of his own people. He begins to meet others, and as such, creates friendships despite the reputation of his people.

In the third book, Drizzt ventures above ground. It is there the story really takes place, as Drizzt is feared be all the surface dwellers. With his faithful panther, the extra-planar creature named Guenhwyvar, the adventures truly begin!

The first real challenge for Drizzit (and his new friends) takes place in the fourth book. Barbarians and wizards and orcs, oh my!

The fifth book, in the continuing story sees Drizzit and his gang seek the fabled Mithral Hall of the Dwarves. It is here where dangers known and unknown lurk. One of Drizzit’s friends is kidnapped and now they seek to rescue him.

There. Told you it was a review that wasn’t a review! Just me saying how much I enjoyed the books, especially after reading some clunkers!

A Milestone

Today I reached 50 years on this planet.

And boy, what a ride it’s been. I was born in Watford, England. Yes, the hospital overlooked the Vicarage Road Football oval so expectant fathers could smoke in the waiting room and watch a game while mums did their thing. The hospital no longer exists but the Watford Football oval still does.

From there, at the age of seven and with my sister, we moved to Australia.

Then the usual things happened, I went to school, discovered I liked kissing boys, and through high school and a couple of years of collage became quite the willing one for any guy who so much as batted an eyelid in my direction. Those were the heady days of youth, for sure. And yes, I practised safe sex, always have.

I worked in many, many, boring dead end jobs.

Now I run my own business, live in a nice house and do what I enjoy. I know that sounds all peaches and cream, but there were a lot of hard years. Despite my easy youth, as I grew up and started entering the adult world I discovered being gay wasn’t easy. Not at all. I’m not “out” to society or anyone really other than those I love. I don’t see why I should have to be. My sexuality is my own, and really, until straight people have to come out and tell everyone they’re straight, why should gay people have to? Why should straight be the default?

I don’t see coming out as a liberation, but a prison.

I’m waiting for the day when a boy can walk up to their parents, another boy or girl in arm, and no one even raises an eyebrow. The day all sexualities are accepted without question, conditions, or repercussions. Love is love, I truly believe that.

Anyway, tonight I’m going to a hotel with my partner for a few nights to wine, dine, and…well…you get the idea! I’m allowing comments again, but any hate and the post will be reported and deleted.

Talk soon.

Back From My Break

I’m now back into the swing of things after the Christmas/New Year period. In that time, I also got back into swimming, starting up my business again after COVID restrictions, and the writing of the 3rd novel in the “Lord Knight Hereward” series – which is about a 1/4 of the way through now. I hope to finish it within the next month or so, and it looks like (by how the arcing plot is going) that there will be a 4th possibly 5th and 6th books–maybe more. There’s so much world to explore within the Eleven Kingdoms of Landmere. I love it.

Have I set any other goals?

Well, book 1 is in proofreading now. Once I get that back, then I will perhaps look at smaller/independent publishing houses, or an agent. I’m not sure which. I would like these stories out there for others to enjoy, but hey, if not, then I’ve loved writing them, and Hereward and his son Wallace will always live in my head. I’m actually happy with that too, if nothing eventuates.

And it took me a long time to come to that realisation. Being a writer means I write. Once the words are written and I’m happy with them, then the job is done, isn’t it? What happens after that is up to the universe, as they say.

Sure, I’ll send my work off to places, but if no one likes it, or picks it up, then so be it. The journey of writing itself is the important part for me. Being published is a bonus, but not a necessity.

Anyway, I’ll try and post once a week from now on. I’ll also allow commenting on my posts for now too – which I haven’t done before. I’m also reading some great books, ones I can’t believe I haven’t heard of. I’ll give you my thoughts on those soon.

Until then, be well my friends. Love you all.

The Final Empire: Review

The first Mistborn book, “The Final Empire” started slowly, but thankfully I stuck with it and the reward of the story at the end was worth the wait. The writing was clean and pulled me along nicely. I really fell in love with Vin and her becoming the mistborn she was destined to be. I loved the way she thought and felt throughout the story. Well done.

The story was a complex one, justified for the 700 pages, and it is clearly set up for it to continue. As I believe there are 6 mistborn books. I have the first three so let’s see how they go! They are all about the same in length, so quite hefty reads. Something I like.

If you want to read high fantasy with little violence, no swearing, political intrigue/oppressed people, and a more complex plot with interesting characters, then this might be the one for you. So far so good for me!