Tag Archives: The Earthen Chronicles

Worldbuilding, or onto Dorlinia….

The Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, New Mexico…

I’m in Las Cruces this week, visiting a friend whom I’ve known since my time in Yorkshire.  This week holds various pleasures, from seeing one much loved and being introduced to a new part of America, exploring a slice of the Southwest desert and finding pecan orchards along the Rio Grande, and conjuring plot points for what I’m hoping will be my next book.  Plenty of downtime on this brief holiday, and I’m making the most of it in all aspects.

Gorgeous skies enhanced the view.

Today I was chauffeured around the Organ Mountains, their craggy beauty a stunning sight to behold.  After lunch, I pulled out notes for The Earthen Chronicles, scribbled some ideas, then felt like writing a post; I haven’t created a new world since I wrote For God and Country, and my goodness there’s a lot of imagination necessary.  But with a first draft already written, I have the framework in place.  Now it’s a matter of fine-tuning, and considering I have no notion of when I’ll get back to this story, there’s no rush.  I can mull over these concepts, then close the notebook, knowing right where to find them again.

Currently my quandary lies in just how long does a Dorlinian live; originally that species had a lifespan of about one thousand years.  However, that’s a LONG time to consider when plotting important twists, so what if they lived for half a millennium, then later their lifespans stretched to double that?  Okay, cool, I’ll go with that.  Then….  And from there it’s all about rearranging a few details, and voila!  A fictional species undergoes some minor tweaking, well, relatively minor.  What’s five centuries between friends?

What would a Dorlinian made of such mountains? Something else for me to consider, hehehe….

Between friends many sins are overlooked; right now my hosts are pottering around their domain while I type away.  Our friendships have evolved since our days in the UK where it’s simply lovely to spend time doing one’s tasks, aware in a little while we shall come back together.  Tonight’s outing is a trip into the desert to snap the night sky, if the wind calms, permitting such activities.  No idea how my phone will measure up against some fantastic cameras and their well-trained operators, but I will be considering those long-living Dorlinians who traveled from a far away galaxy, arriving on Earth with some rather nefarious notions up their sleeves.   Who knows how a peek at the Milky Way will inspire further musings?  What makes me happy is how a story written over four years ago continues to percolate within my gray matter, making me look outside myself for answers.

Worldbuilding isn’t merely for my novel; it’s self-discovery too, even if it occurs in fits and starts.  For now it’s spotty, but not forgotten.  And when the time is right, those Dorlinians, Carpathians, and Taapsychs will move front and center, slugging it out figuratively and literally.  The results of those interactions are years away, let me not kid myself.  But while I won’t live as long as Dorlinians, I trust their tales, my own too, will spin out correctly.  I don’t need to know every plot point, just enough to get through this day.

More about the Carpathians (or One Method of Writing….)

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters & Papers From Prison; it’s an intense collection of correspondence exchanged between Bonhoeffer, his family, and his best friend Eberhard Bethge while Bonhoeffer was imprisoned during the last two years of his life.  It was perfect for Lent, and I’ll finish it as the Easter season winds down, leaving me not only with much food for thought, but ideas to explore when I’m finally able to work on The Earthen Chronicles.

Of course, that’s once I complete The Hawk, ahem.  But I can’t help ponder a very different tale, and the more I consider that draft, the more the Carpathians figure into the story.  When alone, I find myself speaking dialogue between Reid and Brook; he’s a hybrid, but she’s Dorlinian, although she was raised on Carpathia during the war, repatriated to that planet by her parents, who felt it was safer than keeping her at home.  Smart on their part; Dorlinia was blown apart, and Brook watched it happen, thousands of miles away while being cared for by Carpathian nuns.  But what I’m finding as I talk out the plot is that Carpathian society is wholly religious, if faith in God is considered religion.  There are no churches; no need, for every single Carpathian believes.  The nuns are actually rebels, eschewing the traditional call of marriage and family to devote themselves solely to prayer and meditation.

Cousins helping one another; The Burrito gives Little Miss a hand as she navigates unfamiliar landscape over the Easter weekend….

As I come to the end of Letters & Papers From Prison, I’m struck by a similar notion, which Bonhoeffer seems only to note to Bethge.  Now, perhaps he mentioned it to his parents, but few letters to them are included once Bonhoeffer and Bethge are able to write to one another, letters smuggled out of, then into, Tegal Prison.  The book reads in part like a novel, for once the illicit correspondence begins, the thoughts between these two friends become the meat of the story, Bonhoeffer stuck in jail while Bethge serves in the German military.  Yet their minds aren’t merely focused upon the war; God is always present, and how to live in a secular world, especially one so torn apart by violence and hatred, weighs heavily on Bonhoeffer’s mind.  Right after the failure of the plot to assassinate Hitler, Bonhoeffer writes a poem about the four stations of freedom: discipline, action, suffering, and death.  This coupled with his belief that by fully living in this world and participating in all its joys and sorrows is how one learns to have faith has altered not only how I consider my own spiritual life, but those Carpathians as well.  In the first draft, they are bit players, the Dorlinians and Taapsychs the main stars.  However, another purpose to this novel is brewing, and eventually (hopefully!) I’ll see how it comes together.

In the meantime, when I have a moment alone, I’ll continue to hash out the Carpathians’ backstory, conversations between Reid and Brook bubbling in my head, then murmured when no one is looking.  Sometimes I wish I was dictating those lines, a few of them quite clever.  But that’s not the only reason I talk to myself, ha ha.  In those snatches of dialogue, I’m laying the foundation of a story more than sci-fi, also not merely a take on organized religion.  I don’t quite know what The Earthen Chronicles is going to be, heck, at the rate I’m going with The Hawk, it might not be more than a rough draft.  It could simply be one way for me to explore my faith; how many finished drafts do I have on flash drives, their sole purpose mere practice for later novels.  Yet, I can’t seem to escape this storyline, not even in my Lenten readings.

If I can find fictional inspiration in Letters & Papers From Prison, there must be a good reason for it.  Now to work my way back to The Hawk, so another story can take flight, hehehe.

What do Carpathians look like?

I’ve been pondering this post for a few days, and while walking Buttercup today, I think I figured out an answer.  I’m not talking about the mountains in Eastern Europe.  I mean a species of people in a sci-fi story I wrote four years ago.

Buttercup in our backyard yesterday, near the blood orange tree….

Funny how time can slip past; four years ago Buttercup had just been added to our extended family.  Now she’s the old lady dog, hanging out with my hubby and me while her folks and Little Miss holiday down south.  She’s happy to spend most of her time sleeping on our sofa, although she loves an early morning stroll, during which I think I nailed the physical characteristics for a group of humanoids that while not central to that draft, certainly required more fleshing out than I had originally provided.  A couple of months ago (Jeez, has it been that long already, talk about time speeding right along!) I read through that tale, written in early 2013, before I’d started The Hawk.  I do want to get back to it, tentatively titled The Earthen Chronicles, but first a couple of points required my attention.  The Carpathians’ appearance is one, others still niggles in the back of my head.  For now, I’ll take a small victory, because who knows when I’ll get back to that draft….

Right now I’m looking after a dawg, managing a little sewing, occasionally glancing at my grandson’s handiwork, still on the little quilt wall.  The Burrito is home now, but his decorations remain, and I found myself playing around with those tantalizing triangles, coming up with some designs that I might sew into squares later this evening.  The triangles are mostly the same size, but a few are smaller, lending themselves into the corner positions.  I have no idea what I’ll do with these squares once they are made.  But I don’t know about the fate of the Carpathians either, although at least I can picture them in my head.

(Truthfully, it’s the Dorlinians who matter most in the story, and other than their horizontally striped eyes, they look just like you and me.)

That’s one difference between writing and quilting; once I choose fabrics, I have a fairly good idea of how the quilt will appear.  Of course, it still has to be sewn together, but the hues and patterns are always in front of me.  It’s vividly shaded, subtle, or a mix.  When writing, especially science fiction, world-building demands one hell of an imagination.  Easy to consider the Dorlinians, although their eyes are a bit off-putting.  But beyond the Carpathians having 1-2 extra upper limbs, what distinguishes them?  Their life spans are longer than humans, but nowhere near the one thousand years a Dorlinian exists, or the Taapsychs, who also live for upwards of several hundred years.  (Taapsychs are like Ewoks, but taller.)

Buttercup isn’t too tall herself, investigating weeds around a rosebush….

I’m lucky that in my initial draft, the writing is fairly cohesive, plot twists already in place, not that I remember writing them now, but four years ago I had a good grasp on where the story was going (And some great notes for subsequent novels tucked away in a notebook, thank the Lord!).  What I did not possess was much of a notion about the Carpathians, bless their hearts (Wait, do they have hearts? Uh sure, of course they do….).  In the draft they come off as rather aloof, although maybe if your lifespan was one-tenth of your neighbors you might exhibit similar traits.  Not that the Taapsychs and Dorlinians have much to crow about; both species are homeless, why the project being developed in our solar system is so darn important….

But before I can get back to that saga-in-the-making, I need to finish my current behemoth, and I’m *hoping* to return to revising The Hawk on Monday.  Between watching my grandson, then the grand-basset, I’ve had a couple of weeks away from the work.  And while I’m grateful for the blessing that are those members of my family, I’m itching to edit, which one of these days will lead to writing, God willing.  I can’t believe it’s already April, where has 2017 gone?  My big quilt wall still sports the same collection of florals and solids, no writing has occurred.  This year has been one devoted to the care of family, but not like how 2015 was.  That was a mix of starts and finishes, while now it’s about little lives’ (and some not so youthful) continued journeys.  But then my writing isn’t anything new, nor is the sewing.  I’m middle aged, ahem, and so are many of the elements which keep me busy.  And that’s FINE, let me just say.  Not every day needs to be filled with beginnings and endings.

Coasters I made yesterday….

Some parts of life are formed by shallow dips and small rises.  By little mug rugs and endless, I mean, necessary revisions.  By toddlers’ growth and aging hounds investigating the garden.  And by dreaming up a species of folks who I might (or might not) get to one of these days.  I hope The Earthen Chronicles does become my next WIP, not merely because I know what the Carpathians look like, but that the story forced me to come up with that species’ appearance.  It’s a tale that matters, at least to me, and that’s why I bother writing in the first place.  Life is full of little and large purposes, but I don’t spend too much time fretting about this or that.  Sometimes the reason is immediate, like looking after loved ones.  Sometimes it sits in a flash drive for four years or on the quilt wall for several weeks until the perfect moment.  Patience is the key, as well as faith.  And a loyal dog never hurts either.

Sepiacup, as my husband quipped after taking this photo last night….