‘Isaac Fermata and Withal Smyth’ – An excerpt from ‘A Monarch’s Gamble’

“Withal Smyth, personal advisor to Isaac Fermata, was waiting for him in the Great Hall, scrutinizing the Pravum throne. Withal had a lot of respect for the Fermata’s, especially Isaac. He and Withal had fought together in the battle of Dalimaey, a ruthless and bloody battle against an uprising militia against the Dalimaey leaders. From the momentum, the militia they had gathered, House Plyster and Hillon would have lost, if it wasn’t for the Fermata’s support. Soon after, Davos Plyster suggested that Praevalidus should swear an alliance to the Plysters, so that nothing like another militia could ever happen again. Isaac and Withal begrudged the idea, the thought of Praevalidus losing its well-established traditions and victories was something that they couldn’t quite consolidate. Pravum, although a united nation, had never had a single man ruling all nine legions. They had in the past collaborated and worked together, even though each legion was independent from one another, yet some legions favoured others, some despised them, but the system worked. Praevalidus was always seen as the biggest, most powerful, and diplomatic legion in the entire western region, some legions accept this, some detest it.
Withal understood and recognised that Pravum needed one leader to rule and organise all nine legions, to work more closely to each other, but hated the idea that a family that was almost defeated, in the eyes of a Captain of the Praevalidus Guards, by a pathetic and insignificant militia would be the ones to step up to the plate. He also knew that not complying with their request would have plunged Pravum into civil war, with the majority of legions supporting the Plysters and only a few supporting the Fermatas, but Withal knew that if that was the outcome, he would remain optimistic that the Fermatas would win; after all, the Praevalidus Guards could easily defeat the poorly trained Plyster Conscripts.
Every development associated with the Plysters, Withal’s urge and desire to conquer the central region rises, and soon, it will rise to a level which he will not be able to contain, the only thing stopping him from taking a regiment of guards from Praevalidus was Isaac. Isaac was someone Withal always admired, his calming attitude, bravery in battle, and his consideration towards others was something Smyth had always aspired to become, but however hard he tried, he could not change his character. He always wondered why he couldn’t change who he was, it was something that also puzzled Anton.
‘There’s no need to change who or what you are Withal. You’re an advisor and friend to Isaac, officer of the guard, and the men have the highest respect for you,’ Anton had said to Withal at one of their weekly pub visits. Withal valued Anton’s opinion, and whenever each other needed support, they would always find themselves at the Dragon and Sword Inn.”
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‘Isaac & Kerrita Fermata’ – an excerpt from ‘A Monarch’s Gamble’

“In the leader’s quarters in the tallest spire of the Red Dragon Castle grounds, Isaac Fermata was standing on his balcony, looking out to the mouth of the southern sea. His body hunched over while his arms rested on balcony wall, hands clasped together. Dressed in his working outfit, consisting of dark brown leather clothing, with the long-sleeved shirt buttoned together down the middle and trousers held up by his black leather belt with his prized Steelium buckle. He wore black rough leather boots, the top of which was concealed by his straight fitted trousers, tightly laced up. A small, dark grey Steelium broach that emulated House Fermata’s insignia, was pinned on the top left of his shirt. Isaac had long black hair that lightly brushed his shoulders and black haired stubble which hid the advancing wrinkles that exposed his aging face. The black hair only marginally covered the growing grey strands of hair that caused a rising fear within that he was getting old, far too old to play this game. Alas, he was only fifty-one years of age; his experienced dark blue eyes, was the only feature that wasn’t becoming a hindrance from his aging. The eyes, one of the wisest of all, had seen battle, victory and defeat, adventure, hardship, and the birth of his children, his proudest moment in his life. Brought up and nurtured in Praevalidus, his children looked up to their father’s successful leadership, both in Praevalidus and in Pravum.
It was the mid-morning, on the first day of the week, Isaac’s wife Kerrita, was led in bed looking at her husband, the troubled leader of Praevalidus. Naked under a thick bed sheet, the hot summer had caused a complete change in bed sheets throughout the city, from thick duvets to crisp thin sheets.
Kerri Fermata, the proud and strong-willed wife of Isaac, had a slender figure, with long brown hair that stretched down to the mid part of her back, which covered her breasts, when positioned onto her chest. She had narrow, piercing, pecan eyes that concealed her ideas and opinions of others, but could cause much discomfort when scrutinizing people who she did not appreciate.
Glazing in anxiety at Isaac’s stature, she swung out of bed and walked over to embrace her husband. Putting her arms around Isaacs stomach, only slightly above his waist, she placed her head sideways on his back, pressing her chest up against his body.
‘I know you’re troubled my love,’ She spoke softly, but was concerned. ‘Whenever you’re troubled you stand on the balcony looking out to the sea, as it were a more beautiful view than I’. She was always supportive of her husband, even when he was all distant and dreamy like this.
‘These negotiations will decide the fate of the stronghold. My leadership may dwindle, Praevalidus under different command… it’s not the best situation I want to be in, nor is it one I would endorse to anyone,’ Isaac replied nervously. ‘If I am at all distant, my dear wife, I think that may have something to do with it.’
‘House Fermata will always stand tall and true to the real leader,’ Kerri’s tone hardened, trying to sound confident in her words. ‘The people will acknowledge that. They don’t like change… at least not to this extent’.
‘That’s true, but the Plysters are gaining momentum, getting stronger every day, and if they convince the people of the city that a new monarchy is the right decision to make, generations of endeavour and tradition will vanish into thin air…’
‘But they won’t,’ Kerri interrupted, ‘this may be the first time a legion as tried to impose a new leadership without force, but the people know what the Fermata’s have done for the common folk. They’re not to be treated like idiots, which is what the Plysters do,’ she protested.
Isaac turned around to face his beloved wife, ‘My allegiance will always be to my family, the people, and to Praevalidus, I will not back down and hand the city over to Davos without deliberation. We will have this new monarchy go in our favour one way or another!’
‘Your respect for the Guardians is like no other,’ she looked down then back up at Isaac mockingly, ‘Even I struggled to try to get myself noticed by you… I still do’.
They both laughed, ‘Well a little friendly competition can’t do any harm, can it?’ he replied in a teasing voice, bowing his head down to tentatively kiss his love. She took his hand and led Isaac to their bed, climbing back in to cover her naked body with the sheets.
‘I’ll get up when Liana comes in to get me ready.’
‘I’m speaking with Withal and Palt later to discuss the terms of our deal and how to prepare the city for their arrival.’
‘How about red carpet at the eastern gates, confetti, and maybe some announcing music?’ Kerri said sarcastically, positioning herself comfortably in bed.
‘I’ve got a funny feeling that might give off the wrong impression, they might think we actually want them here,’ letting out a small laugh
‘So just a welcoming party then?’ Kerri enquired
‘Most likely’.
‘Well, while we wait for our accomplices…’ Kerri said as she sat up, her hair over the front of her shoulders, trailing down to cover her breasts, ‘why don’t we calm ourselves down,’ gesturing for her husband to come and make love to her. Isaac turned to look at his compassionate wife who always supported him and his judgements, she was forty-nine years of age, and he still couldn’t resist her stunning beauty. He started his approach towards her.
‘Good idea…’ and he placed his hands on her cheeks, while she started unbuttoning his shirt, when suddenly, unannounced, there was a knock at the door, ‘…but…going have to be later tonight’, as he kissed her forehead and turned away and headed for the door. Kerri quickly tied her hair back and covered herself with the sheets as Isaac enquired who was at the door, ‘It’s Liana my lord,’ said the maid. Isaac opened the door and gestured for Liana to enter.
‘You haven’t been waiting too long have you Liana?’ Isaac queried.
‘No, not at all your Highness,’ Liana replied.
‘Okay then, I’ll leave you with Kerri then,’ as Isaac left, closing the door behind him.”

If you’re not feeling writing

Recently, I’ve been a bit bogged down in doing work, and cycling. I’ve had two races this weekend, both in the rain and wind; was fun, and horrible simultaneously…England, who knew?! Anyway, I haven’t really been in the mind for writing my book, which is a shame because I love it. I think it’s because I’ve been busy with other stuff (cycling in particular). However, I still like to partake in book activities, so I thought I would take the opportunity, during this hiatus, to start the editing process…for the whole thing, from cover to cover.

For those of you who are writing a novel, or any kind of piece of literature, it’s quite daunting reading back through your work. I am no professional writer, or experienced, or classic writer, not at all, but I can imagine when any artist (used as a collective) gets nervous when said person is looking back through their work…how much needs to change, how much needs to be deleted, altered, added. So, I found out that this process requires more care and attention than actually writing (whether you think so, I don’t know). Reading through there were quite a few grammatical errors (the most annoying and fiddly), and things that didn’t fit in the entire plot. For instance, in a few paragraphs I mentioned about the Plysters arriving to Praevalidus ‘tonight’. Rings a few alarm bells. Scroll down, they actually arrive the next day….slightly frustrating, but not completely cataclysmic to the book’s plot, only need to change a few words here and there, then, BAM, it’s done.

I like coherency, I like things to make sense, and work in an ordered manner. Which is why editing is so critical! (it’s probably also caused by my slight OCD), but even then, that really helps.

I’ll tell you one thing, when you look at your early work, it’s interesting to see the style of writing you had back when you wrote that specific piece, and to see how characters develop. For Anton (the mage), I needed to change quite a bit of his speech, since it didn’t quite fit in with the character I had developed further down the line.

All in all, I was worried that when I came around to read through the book, to check for errors and plot-holes,  I wouldn’t enjoy reading it…but no, because I enjoy my writing, I enjoyed reading it! Maybe this is because I’ve never embarked on a project as extensive as this before in my life, or I have low self-confidence. But one lesson I need to take away from this, in-fact all of you, is to be more optimistic and confident about your work!

You never know, you may surprise yourself!

‘Praevalidus’ – an excerpt from ‘A Monarch’s Gamble’

“Praevalidus, recognised as the centre of power in Pravum, the pinnacle of human creation and innovation. A place of magic, discipline, leadership, scholars and the revered Tower of Imperium.
There is no question that the Tower of Imperium is the ugliest building in the Stronghold. It is a tessellated design of volcanic rock, which towers above the sea, but is merely a stump in comparison to the other buildings. White and grey stone spiral up from the base of the tower; bleak, stern, with no windows, no natural light to penetrate the stale air that fills the hall, it holds an atmosphere where there is no space for stupidity or petulance. The soldiers trained mimic the towers appearance. Respected, disciplined and stern. They are not to be disparaged. Each swears an allegiance to the realm and thus is anointed into the order of the Guards of Praevalidus, to protect and guard the city of any threat.
The top of the tower is split down the middle, with two columns rising above the high ceiling connected by diagonal conduits. One column grey, creating a shadowed effect, and odious in stature, a column that has no place in such a world, but resembles the characteristic that all guards are attuned to discipline. The walk to the chamber is done with a padlocked blind fold, concealing any light that may enter the eyes. Blinded by thick, black cloth, the soldier must find the safest passage through tared covered, burning pillars to the top of the column. There, he or she, must negotiate a path through a dense maze of thorny branches and wooden, polygonal objects, to find a chest filled with one item the soldier will forever possess; a Guard’s Ring. A ring that embodies the oath to the House and legion Fermata, which conscribes the soldier to fight in any circumstance. If the soldier revokes the oath, the hand on which the ring situates, is truncated when conscious. The test is renowned for being the hardest, most ruthful and life threatening ritual in Pravum.
The second column tests a soldier’s reluctance and exposure to hostility. At the top of the staircase is a white, vacant chamber. A group of eight recruits enters and the chamber is filled with crawling and curious insects, which, if agitated, become hostile and venomous, if not, remain perfectly friendly. The riddled chamber disturbs and irritates the eight recruits, while wearing nothing but their undergarments. The group have to remain composed and relaxed for thirty minutes’ exposure. If any one of the eight cannot sustain their reluctance, the venomous insects become agitated, biting, stinging or infecting the recruits, leaving them to live the rest of their lives with terminal conditions or to die a slow and debilitating death. The Tower of Imperium is riddled with horrors and endeavour, but has never failed to receive recruits and produce the most illustrious soldiers in Pravum.”

Pravum – finished map

In-between doing work, and going to go and get some paprika, I thought I should write a post, and do a bit of book stuff, since I haven’t done much recently. I’m not really in the right mood to write, so I decided to continue my map making…given that I’m supposed to be good at it (considering my degree subject). Here is Pravum, the main country in the book, where most events take place, which I’m currently focused on at the moment. I like what I’ve done with it, but comparing it with the Central and Southern Reaches maps, I’m not quite sure I REALLY like it, not as much as the other ones anyway. I tried to keep the same formatting, making it as consistent as possible, but annoyingly, because of my own stupidity, I didn’t save the Central and Southern Reaches map in a format which I could add and edit stuff (I merged the layers, so there’s no way to separate them). However, it is still an accurate representation of the book’s narrative and setting, and it also, greatly helps with writing, to know where places are, it’s really useful to plan out where characters are travelling to, how far, and how long it will take them.

pravum-merged

Weather conditions…the decider or a hindrance?

Weather, it changes, it’s indecisive, difficult to predict, and you only know what’s happening, when it’s happening. This is exactly what happened to me at the weekend. First race of the season, down in Devon. A 48 mile road race, with 79 other riders. Slightly crazy, especially when the weather isn’t completely ideal! 25 mph winds, with 40 mph gusts, made it a pretty difficult one. I’ve done the course before, and aced it! It was brilliant, and the conditions were far worse…but with less wind.

This makes me wander, the weather, in terms of battles and wars, is either the decider, or the hindrance. Of  course, in ‘Right of Legions’, there will be battles and wars, fights between people. Battles aren’t fought in massive hangers, or bunkers…maybe underground in caves, but mostly outside. So I thought of an idea, to try and make battles, and fight scenes more exciting, and wars prolonged, the weather has to change. Sometimes in favour of the enemy, sometimes in favour of the goodies. I won’t have battles always fought in gleaming sunshine, and great weather with no wind…that’s boring. Neither will I have battles always fought in the p*ssing rain, with stupid amounts of wind.

Instead, you can have compromises. Battles are fought instantly, it takes a large build-up, for each side to prepare for battle. A large piece of land, probably 20 mile squared, split down the middle by no-man’s land. The day before the wind was howling, the rain, hammering down on both camps, acute tapping sounds created by the impact of rain on exposed metal. Soldiers churning the wet ground into sticky sod and clay. More and more effort used to walk from one place to another…this it alright actually. Then, the next day, it’s gleaming sunshine, with little to no wind. BUT, the ground is still a cascade of viscous mud and water.

So, a decider, or hindrance, you decide…(excluding the quality and skill of the soldiers).

A genuinely lovely book…the loveliest! As read by the author.

 

wp_ss_20170225_0001You know when a book is good when you read it in a week…especially when that book is based in one of your favourite places in the world. In this instance, Naples, Italy. The city is mad, absolutely mad. Myself and my girlfriend went for a weeks holiday there, back in the summer, and stayed in an awesome hotel in Sorrento (to the south of Naples). I was mesmerised, captivated, and completely spellbound by it…I have never visited a city with so much glamour, pride, individuality, without care, and caring. It was a lovely, genuine lovely place (not considering the corruption and mafia), to visit. As a tourist, you have a completely different perspective on the livelihoods of people, than the actual inhabitants of said city.

Because I fell in love with the place, and strengthened my love for Italy, my parents bought me, for my birthday after I couldn’t stop talking about the place, a book about Naples, by a writer called, Katherine Wilson. The book’s title, ‘Only in Naples’, is a semi-autobiography about her life and experience with a family in the city. It is filled with mannerisms only found in Naples, attitudes only found in Italian families, and it was a fantastic read…and you know it when you can’t put it down.

I’m not one for reading autobiographies, although interesting and eye-opening, the lack of one or two primary narratives doesn’t completely encapsulate me, but this book is a complete exception! It is the loveliest, heartfelt, happy, humorous, and emotional book I have ever read! Upon reading it, it immediately reminded me of my trip to Naples, made my ambition to own a place in Naples (or in its vicinity), firmer.

I’ve never read laughed out loud at a book before, but this one had me in many fits of laughter, one on the train home (which was kind of embarrassing, but I didn’t care). It’s filled with multiple experiences of Katherine, her opinions of Naples, and her reactions to the Italian way of life, and just makes you realise how culturally diverse they are! It is filled with sincere (truly sincere, there were a couple of times where I wanted to have a little weep) encounters, and many, meticulous descriptions of the delicious Italian food, making your mouth water, considerably. It’s not like your typical love story, where there are two characters that have a bit of a hubbub and then eventually get back together, no, it is a true, love-story, that can happen to anyone! And that’s what makes this book a wonderful, enchanting, and adventurous series of events!

A real page turner! Fantastic!

only-in-naples

Pravum – the Central and Southern Reaches

Instead of writing, I thought about making a map of the main story plot would be a good idea. As a geographer, I love maps! They’re awesome and tell so much in such a finite space; and this map is no exception! Beneath, is a map of the Central and Southern Reaches of Pravum. Many of the places have Latin names (a beautiful language), giving cities and places meanings, relative to the way the book is formulated, and how these places have come into being. Praevalidus (the centre point of the book somewhat), means ‘Great’, (I know, it’s not very creative), but in the land of corruption (Pravum), Praevalidus is the great city and stronghold that the population looks/used to look up to. The scale of the map is based on how long it would take for a cavalcade to travel to and from places. So, averaging a pace of 2mph (walking), it would take roughly 40 days to get to Mountain Fall from Praevalidus. This is the main part of Pravum, with the Northern and Western Reaches being published soon.Pravum - Southern & Central Reaches (better).jpg

I know it seems strange, and slightly odd, for a writer to be producing this kind of thing, but sometimes I like doing something different, which also helps with the development of the story, but it does make writing a hell of a lot easier…especially when you’re writing about travelling and timescales. I’m quite fastidious about that sort of thing, making sure that events fit properly in the time allotted to them. This certain piece of work (on an unrelated note) took around an hour to make, first drawing the entirety of Pravum, then scanning, then splitting it, enlarging, then printing, drawing over it in a pen, then scanning….and the process goes on and on. Many parts to writing are, unfortunately, laborious, including scanning, but you have to admit, if it wasn’t for the boring parts, you wouldn’t appreciate the fun and exciting parts as much…especially when I added filters in Photoshop to make it look even more awesome, and like you’d find it in a book, or a map in the book’s time setting. The map, unfortunately, doesn’t include the Casbian Sea (to the left of Praevalidus), as I ran out of space…and forgot to include it. So, stroke of genius, I’ll put it into the western reaches map!…also forgot (rookie error, and stupid on my part since I’m a Geography student) to put a north arrow…North is up, east is right, west is left…and south is…well…

‘A Monarch’s Gamble’ – Prologue

“The city was in chaos. Innocent people running down the streets in their undergarments, faces lined with blood, broken arms flaying about, screaming children hurrying about, lost and without guidance, for their parents are either dead, or trapped in the barraging crowds, escaping the incoming soldiers. They rampaged, and raged in the city, tearing down doors, breaking windows, finding the enemy, and killing without question. Innocents could not be distinguished from the enemy, and many were slaughtered by the swords of power and unquestioning….

This was coordinated and unified. The people responsible for organising this militia had done well, thought Antares Ruk, the man responsible for the order of the city; an impossible task. Dalimaey, although seemingly restless and dangerous, was an integral part of Pravum’s wealth, receiving many trade ships, and distributing goods to the Northern Reaches, sent from the south. It would be a while before standard procedure could commence again…

…A group of soldiers, dressed in scruffy, poorly constructed armour, stormed through a suburb. They wore rounded, battered helmets, with a single piece of metal, centred above their nose, attempting to conceal their face. Swords unsheathed, and primed, pounded their way through the street. Breaking into homes, knocking the large, barricaded doors down, finding crying children being protected by their mother, hiding in the corner, anticipating their deaths…

…In the house with the lady, and her impounded skull, a little boy ran out from under the stairs, who saw the commotion from a relatively safe distance, far enough not to be noticed, went over to his mother, tears streaming down his face. He sat by his mother, the blood oozing out from her head, her right hand bent the wrong way, cried, and sobbed, wiping his runny nose from snot. Sitting there for no more than five minutes, he heard shouts and screaming approaching from his right, and decided to run, and leave this place for the better. He shot up, the tears stinging his eyes, ran to the fractured doorway, turned left and scarpered.”

This post may not make much sense, but the actual Prologue is 10 pages long, and I couldn’t really put that all in…let’s be honest that would be a bit ridiculous. For those who have read my previous posts (mainly the exclusive content), will know that this excerpt has replaced the previous prologue…which is far better than the original, a great deal more. The prologue sets the scene, story, and back-story very well, cleverly making the reader (I hope) think about the things that are said, the people involved. I wrote this last night, and was so excited while writing it, I didn’t realise it was 10:30, when I should have been winding down for a good nights sleep.

The big 100k, and counting!

It’s taken long enough, lots of commitment and determination, but I’m here, finally at the 100,000 word mark, at 329 pages of writing, and things are really moving now! I’ve been working a lot on my degree recently, and getting some big cycling miles in, which is why I haven’t had the time to write, plus, I’ve been reading a lot, constantly trying to inspire myself to think of new, and grand ideas to put in my book. The review I posted on Saturday, of a book based in Naples, even though a semi-autobiography which I read about three weeks and a book ago, has also helped with some inspiration for some characters. Some focusing on their pride, love for their children, and to uphold their traditions and beliefs.

‘Right of Legions: A Monarch’s Gamble’, has hit a landmark point, with the two most powerful families in Pravum (Plysters and Fermatas) coming together to discuss the terms of the new Plysterian monarchy, to replace the governmental powers that are already in place. Whether it will work out is another question, but the main focal point at this current point in time, is the opinions of the characters, towards the opposing ideologies. With both families having advisors that are very passionate about their beliefs, and family traditions; writing it is incredibly fun, but also difficult. I need to make sure that you know, when you come to read the book, that you can tell the characters are incredibly passionate about their city, but also to make the treaties seem believable. You can’t write about how a family is incredibly strong-willed about something they believe in, and then sign a treaty, condemning them to be dictated by a bullish family, whose experience with leadership is minimalist compared to that of the former, is fine.

At the same time, as I’m about halfway through the chapter after the negotiations, writing about the two wives of the two family leaders, discussing things that aren’t necessarily important, I couldn’t help, but naturally write about their opinions of the Plysterian monarchy, and Maria’s (wife of Davos, head of the Plysters, leader of the family creating a monarchy), opinions of her husband, and her love for her children. There was one bit of speech which actually felt, genuinely heartfelt, and I felt sorry for a character I had created. It may sound slightly silly, but it’s true. I genuinely felt sorry for the position she was in, and Kerri (wife of Isaac Fermata, guys negotiating with the Plysters, trying to create an alliance and treaty between them), whose outcome, won’t be great, I felt even worse for. Just a purely innocent (word highly hyperbolic), conversation between the two, made me think about their story-lines, and it made me upset a little. I love writing about characters, especially if they’re interesting, and have a large part to play, but also because they’re parents, and I can imagine my mum saying some of the stuff I write.

Now, refer back to my book review (read it if you haven’t already), the lady in that book, I could clearly imagine, not because of the basic, realistic descriptions, but because of the mannerisms. The way in which she dealt with situations, spoke highly of her beliefs, the adventures, and arguments with her husband, her embracing an entirely new culture, made me realise how similar Kerri and this lady were in character. I must specify here, that I started writing my book way before I read ‘Only in Naples’, so I must confess, and be completely truthful with you, I did not base Kerri on the main character from the book, lets clear that. So, when writing this specific scene, made me realise, think about, and view characters in a different perspective, looking at the position they’re in now, in relation to what will happen in the future…in some respects, its very cheerful and compelling, in other respects, it’s quite upsetting, and shocking, which I’m not looking forward to. I suppose I feel this for most of my characters, the few that I don’t are either: a. boring, or b. I’ve thought about them too much. Which brings me to sleep…and lack of!

You’d think, as a Uni student, my life is quite lax, and easy. It’s far from..especially when writing a book…because I couldn’t go to sleep last night, as I kept thinking of ideas for the series, and making sure they fit…why I started thinking about this at half-past midnight last night, I do not know…because I needed to get up for 10am to meet a mate, to go cycling. I just love thinking about it, what’s going to happen, what’s happening, and how it all fits together! It’s such a wonderful thing to think about, and I love it dearly!

To finish off with, enjoy this piece of awesome music, which I have found a great love for when writing!