Control freaks and planning fantasy settings… o.O

I am currently writing a short story that will be published in an anthology later this year. It is set on the same world as my Yrthull stories, but it is in a different part of the world.

Now, you could say that this means I pretty much have free rein over all the aspects of the cultural, magical and general fantasy type planning for this story. But the control freak in me keeps saying: What if I say things work one way now and I discover later that it would make more sense or be far more epic if things worked differently?

What if I say these people have certain physical traits, but later I discover that far more diversity is required? What if I put things in the story now that will be a massive obstacle later? What if the way magic works now contradicts everything that I have to write into a different story for the plot to work out?

Well…this leads me to two paths. One, I exhaustively plan out every detail there is to it all – meaning that I probably won’t get any writing done this year, because I’ll be planning for the next five years. Two, I throw all caution to the winds and simply change whatever turns out to be a stupid decision later…attracting any pedantic stickler whose source of joy is picking on inconsistencies in stories.

See…the only reason that last part even features in my considerations is the simple fact that I have become one of those people. I don’t even like that I do it, because it has ruined a lot of stories for me that I had previously enjoyed. But, after having been surrounded by hordes of geeks that pull every book, movie and game apart, I just can’t ignore stuff like this anymore.

It’s making me itch just to think it, but I think I’ll just have to give myself permission to change things later. Here’s hoping that I attract a forgiving crowd of fans.


I did it! I indie published a short story!

Cover art

I realised the other day that there was really nothing stopping me from indie publishing short stories. I don’t know why I was comfortable with the idea of publishing a full-length novel, but a short story could somehow not be published the same way. No sirree!

If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you’ll have already read this one, but this is your chance to have your own copy, complete with cover art! The Mystic is now for sale, ladies and gentlemen!

Go check it out on Smashwords (or directly with the link above) and get it for free until the end of February 2014 with this coupon code: JE94M.

Dreams – Battling the gods

I dreamt a lot of stays-with-you dreams when I was in high school. One that has come back to me time and time again (as a memory, I never dreamt it again), was one I had when I was 17. It was a very vivid dream.

My parents and I were part of a large site-seeing group visiting a fantastically large cave. As we were going in, I remember getting a flash birds-eye view of the mountain peak rising above a lush green forest (funny how some dreams are kind of like movies, huh?).

As we gathered close to listen to our guide, I felt an ominous presence. It was something that touched my mind from deep within the mountain. The more I concentrated on it, the more I came to realise that I was not imagining it. A dark and powerful being was watching us, waiting for some kind of opportunity.

I tried to alert my parents, but they didn’t understand what I was on about. It was then that a sudden avalanche closed off the mouth of the cave. We were stuck in there…right where this presence – that I had by now decided was a god – could do what he pleased.

My awareness shifted out of my body and I moved through the stone body of the mountain. Not too far away from the cavern where our tourist group was huddled in the dark, I saw a woman descending a long and narrow set of stairs. She wore a beautiful full skirt with a ceremonial tabard over her cheesecloth shirt. Golden bangles glinted on her wrists and ankles. Her dark hair wafting behind her in a delicate arrangement of copper jewelry and curls was mesmerising, her dramatically outlined eyes alluring.

As I watched her in fascination, I became aware that I too possessed some sort of power and with this the ability to help the group of people trapped in the cave. Sadly, I had absolutely no idea how to use it. I hadn’t been trained, I had no guidance – I had no idea what to do or how to go about it.

The priestess was still going down and down and down. The air was becoming very hot, though I could not feel it. I saw her skin go red and then start blistering. The fact that she didn’t turn around and retreat caught me by surprise. But then I saw the look of zealous ecstasy on her face. The very fact that the air was burning her was a sign of her faith being rewarded.

In increasing horror, I watched her clothes and hair charring to ash. Her skin bubbled and flaked and wafted up in the heat. I could hardly believe she was still alive.

At the very bottom of the stairs there was a bright orange and yellow pool of magma, hissing and bubbling with primal heat. The priestess’s face split and tore as she grinned and clambered over the rail. She didn’t even scream as the molten earth claimed her. (This part still sets my skin crawling today.)

As she disappeared in a gout of steam and flame, I felt the ancient evil god’s power increasing to overwhelming proportions. His malevolent glee made a cold weight settle into my body. The last thing I saw before my presence returned to my body was the magma inexorably rising up the stairwell.

I knew it was my responsibility to save the tour group. I had to get them out. I had to stop the volcano from erupting. I tried reaching for my power, but I simply didn’t understand how and no one else would be able to help me. The feeling of hopelessness was crippling.

Finally, the deadly glowing magma started creeping into the cavern. The air filled with screams of pain and fear. I had failed.

Fantasy vs Science Fiction

Fantasy in all its forms

So. In my string of posts about Fantasy as an overarching genre that covers all things magic and not yet technologically possible, I pose that Science Fiction is but a subgenre of Fantasy.  Oh dear! What has happened? How could I possibly say that?!? Well, it really depends on your point of view and how you define certain things.

If you argue that Science Fiction covers fictive narratives that have a possibility of becoming possible in our reality of experience, and that Fantasy covers fictive narratives that have no possibility of becoming possible in our reality of experience…then, I guess it really depends on what you, as an individual, find plausibly possible.

All in all, I see it like this: The real difference between pure Science Fiction and pure Fantasy is magic. In Science Fiction, there is no magic. In Fantasy, there is magic.

But, like I have said in other posts, these genres just won’t stay in their own play pens.  Does Steampunk fall under Science Fiction or Fantasy? A lot of the gadgets in Steampunk are actually possible to manufacture right now…so, is it still Science Fiction? It certainly isn’t factual history. I guess it could depart these shores and head off to become Historical Fiction…but, you can ask almost any Steampunk fan and they would tell you that Steampunk falls under the Science Fiction/Fantasy banner. Sooooo….

This is why I put all the piggies in one pen. Sometimes they want to play  together, sometimes they don’t.


What do you guys think?

The Mystic

A pair of quicksilver eyes flicked dismissively over the breathtaking view of EL Tianne’s Enchanted Valley. Pherr had been there a myriad of times before, searching out the Fairy Queen’s help. He waited silently as the minute sentinel, who had spotted him only moments earlier, whizzed down into the mysterious depths of the Charmed Forests. Impatience stirred within him. His fingers felt like tightly wound springs, ready to uncoil. His muscles tensed in anticipation of the Portal to the Hendecagon. It felt as if the time was racing out of the hourglass. Clouds moved by swiftly.


EL Tianne, queen of the Fairy, tapped her delicate fingers on her armrest. The Lifeglass before her was emptying far too rapidly to her taste. What is taking Pherr so long? she thought impatiently. The Fairy Queen chafed at the circumstances that forced them to use other means to get him into her domain. He had explained it carefully to her the last time he had come: he would not be able to open the Eleven Gates when he brought the New One through. His power would be sucked dry… Her sentinels were all instructed to report any sign of the Mystic’s arrival.

A miniature bolt of lightning flashed in the Lifeglass. The Sand was becoming liquid. Blue-silver.

She felt her sceptre’s smooth surface. The Seven Keepers channelled their awareness of the imminent commencement of the Hendecagon through the connection she had cast on it. Their combined forces pushed readily against her magic.

The large doors of the throne room burst open. A haggard looking fairy plunged through the entryway.

“The Mystic has arrived, O Queen!” she cried and fell to the floor.

EL Tianne reached for her sceptre and opened the Eleven Portals to the Hendecagon. The Seven Keepers released their combined force. The air began to shimmer and waver. The light bent at peculiar angles, making the air appear to be liquid.

Calmly, a dark figure stepped through the Portal.

“We must hurry,” his voice whispered into the turbulent air. He reached out his dark hand to the Fairy Queen. Blindly she thrust the Lifeglass into his open palm, their hands touching briefly. The glass shuddered in his hand. More lightning flashed across its surface. The liquid Sands were almost entirely gone.

Pherr glanced once at EL Tianne’s face, her violet eyes told him what would come.

He stepped back into the Portal. It closed behind his back – the familiar simultaneous pressure and release reassuring him that he would make this jump. He could see the eleven planes, their portals’ glowing incandescence. His hand was clamped securely around the fragile Lifeglass…the Sand was no longer in sight.


<<This is a short story I wrote when I was 17. It was for a Junior City Council competition. I won the Prose division.>>