Technology in Grevared

steam-train-512508_1920We live in a technological world full of smart phones, computers, and things some of us will probably never understand. For the most part, this technology has gone from point A to point B, not necessarily in a straight line, but moving forward nonetheless.

I was a kid during the reign of Atari and Commodore 64, and the only computer language I ever knew was Basic. Now, my phone has more capabilities than my first computer, and I’m lucky to figure out how to make a blog post. (And it only works half the time.)

Science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk all have their versions of technology, too. Some of it is beyond our wildest dreams, while other parts take us back to the middle ages. Regardless of which genre we’re reading, though, there are those who expect the technology to progress the same way it did in our world.

Grevared doesn’t really work that way, not entirely. For example, I had a reader ask me the other day why a tavern owner used oil lamps if the society had things like steam locomotives and Cold Boxes (refrigerators). There’s a simple answer for that. All electricity in Grevared is run on generators, which are expensive to own and operate. Families and business owners who use electricity must decide what they will use it on, and most choose a Cold Box or something similar rather than light, which can be obtained through other means. No one has installed power lines that carry electricity from place to place because they haven’t thought of it yet. Why not? When our world figured it out fairly quickly? Well…it isn’t our world.

GrevaredResources on Grevared are most definitely finite. The pieces of land exist in a void space, and you can walk off the edge of the world. These resources must be guarded carefully if the world is to survive, so, while they are willing to create some technological luxuries, there are many others that would destroy their world were they to come into being.

However, that isn’t to say that technology aided by magic doesn’t happen. There are creatures called animated corpses that are purely technological, at least in a sense. A small copper chip attached to wires is run through the nervous system and allows the creature to move and follow basic orders. The chip can be removed and read by a machine. Technological, right? Not entirely. There’s a good bit of magic that goes into making the process work. The same is true of the seventh hell demon prison, Brimstone Thunderwatch. There are technological aspects to the prison itself, but there’s just as much magic keeping these creatures confined. Even the mechanical bugs that deliver messages have a magical element to their operation.

So, while Grevared does have steam trains and bionic implants, their technology as we think about it isn’t on the same level with that in our world, and their needs and desires make it unlikely that it ever will be. Even in the Xaggarene Empire, the most technologically advanced of the lands, power lines aren’t likely to become popular. Too much of their technology is dependent on magic.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

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Character Thoughts – Justin Harper

Justin Harper VintageJustin Harper is best friends with Timothy Hawkins and appears in Wolf in the Shadow.

Justin and Timothy attended school together and were known for getting into mischief. They spent more time harassing the Sisters than they did studying. After school, they would play games in the streets of Freywater, and they spent many an evening at each other’s home.

As late teens, Justin and Timothy were both granted weapons of the gods. While Timothy received the Spear of Lugh, Justin received the Seal of Solomon. Unfortunately, the Seal required practice to master, something Justin had no desire to do. Still, carrying the weapon allowed him to become a Shadow Walker, and he threw himself into it with all his heart. He came to love the chase and the slaughter, and he became one of the best the Shadow Walkers had at disposing of dangerous creatures. He was often paired with Timothy, who was the one person who could curb Justin’s more reckless behavior.

Justin is in his early twenties in Wolf in the Shadow. At this time, Justin’s favorite pastime is downing Nutty Fluffies and bedding as many women as possible. To him, these women are nothing more than playthings, and the idea that they are people with emotions and dreams escapes him. In his own mind, what he’s doing can’t possibly hurt anyone, and he’s found himself on the business end of numerous pistols and swords. Only Timothy’s connection with the Enforcers keeps Justin out of trouble.

In his more serious moments, though these are rare, Justin considers his life in the far future. While he can’t picture himself with a wife and children, he does see himself in a position of authority, something that gets a lot of attention and admiration. By his own admission, he has no idea what this position might be. He’s actually extremely insecure and uses his flamboyant persona to validate his existence to himself. He constantly struggles with feelings of inadequacy, and he would most likely be able to conquer these if he would give them voice instead of hiding them.

Justin loves to eat out at restaurants, and his favorite place in Freywater is a diner near the University. They serve foods fried in oil, and Justin is particularly fond of fried root vegetables. He covers them in a variety of sauces and uses them as a ‘pick me up’ after too many Nutty Fluffies or a night spent with too much company. He also enjoys going to the theater, though he avoids the burlesque shows because he feels they are indecent.

When he’s alone, he enjoys reading, and the ha’coin books that have become the rage in the Xaggarene Empire are his favorites. Many of these deal with murder and depravity, and Justin finds satisfaction in reading about these topics. He doesn’t care much for actual book-learning, though, so many of the topics Timothy mentions are lost on him.

Justin is one of those characters who is both loveable and despicable. His willingness to protect the weak is a laudable trait, but his selfishness is loathsome. There are redeeming qualities to him, but they’re hard to see for those who aren’t looking. He can be fun to be around, but no one should ever count on him. He’s loyal to those who serve his purposes, but he will turn away if he thinks he has the slightest reason. His love of the chase is carefully balanced by the need of the Shadow Walkers, but I wonder just what it would take to shift him from state-sanctioned Shadow Walker to cold-blooded killer. I don’t think it would take too much, and it’s an idea I may explore at some point. I haven’t decided. I have to admit, though, that, while Justin is one of my favorites to write, I don’t particularly like him. He’s just too loud and obnoxious to be someone I would enjoy being around.

What are your thoughts on Justin Harper? Is he someone you would call a friend? Do you agree with his actions in Wolf in the Shadow?

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

 

 

Writing Update

IMG_20160428_203226Things have been a little hectic lately. I started a new job with a weird schedule, so I haven’t kept up with things the way I should. I have been writing some, though, both stories in Grevared and some horror stuff.

I have two short stories completed and am doing revisions. One is the Muhulda Urswyk story that posts here every Wednesday, and the other is a horror tale.

I’ve been making progress on both the YA WIP and on ‘the story that never ends’. I finally like where the trilogy is going. I just hope I can keep it going in this direction. I’ll tell you, these guys LOVE to take off on their own.

I have a children’s story that’s in its editing phase. I’m almost through with what I hope will be the last of the edits. Now, I just have to decide on a cover for it. This story takes place in the Kingdom of Emerell, just to the west of Moirena. The village of Everstone is attacked by the Kwaad, and Jerrung’s sister is taken. Not willing to wait for the adults to go after them, Jerrung and his friends set off under the mountain. Finally, he gets to have a real adventure.

I’m hoping that I’ll settle into my new schedule and get back to being productive.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Book Versus Movie-Coraline

Book vs MovieI’ve been a fan of the movie Coraline for years, but it was only recently that I came across the book, the glory of now living in a town with a bookstore. I have to say that I loved the book as much as the movie, though there are differences between the two.

In the movie, Coraline moves into an old house that has been divided into apartments. This is the same in the book. However, in the movie the house is owned by the grandmother of one Wybie, a strange little boy who gives Coraline a doll that looks just like her. In the book, Wybie and the doll don’t exist.

In both the book and the movie, Coraline’s parents are too busy to entertain her, so she’s forced to take care of herself. This leads to finding a small door with a brick wall behind it. Coraline’s mother tells her it’s there because the house was made into apartments.

In the book, the drawing room is described as a nice room where no one can sit on the furniture. In the movie, however, there’s little in there, and the room is depressing.

In the book, Coraline goes through the door and down a tunnel while her mother is at the store getting groceries. This isn’t the case in the movie. In the movie, Coraline first goes down the tunnel in a dream. Here she meets her ‘other mother’ and has a wonderful meal which seriously outshines her father’s cooking. In the book, she looks around the ‘other’ world and decides it’s too weird. After a brief first visit, she goes home. It is only when she gets bored waiting for her mother that she returns for the meal.

The interactions with the neighbors seem to follow pretty closely together for the book and movie. There are some minor detail differences but not many. It is only when Coraline returns to her world and discovers her parents aren’t home that the differences begin again.

In the book, Coraline does things like eat frozen pizza for dinner, watch TV, and take a bubble bath. When she wakes up in the middle of the night and sees the cat, she asks if it knows where her parents are. The cats only leads her to the hall mirror where her parents write ‘help us’ on the other side. They’re trapped in it. In the movie, there’s no sign of a TV, and there’s no food in the house. Coraline knows immediately that her parents have been taken, and she doesn’t call the police. Instead, she returns to the ‘other’ world.

There’s a good bit of similarity between the book and the movie during Coraline’s competition with the Beldam. In both, she spends time with the ‘other’ neighbors and seeks the souls of the trapped ghosts. The biggest difference here is that the souls are referred to as ‘eyes’ in the movie and ‘souls’ in the book.

Once Coraline has defeated the Beldam and rescued her parents, she must get rid of the Beldam’s hand, which follows her back to the real world. In the book, she has a tea party with her dolls, and the hand falls into the well. In the movie, Wybie helps her throw the hand down the well.

All in all, both the book and the movie are well done, and both are worth the experience.
 

Dealing with Stories You Hate

landing-page-websiteThose who’ve followed along know that I’ve been posting a “The Little Mermaid” like tale for the past few Sundays. Obviously, I’ve pulled that tale, but there’s a reason for it.

I hate it. I mean I really, really hate the story. I don’t like the girl trying to change herself to get the guy, even though, let’s face it, most of us have done it at one time or another, especially when we were young. I hate the attitude of the dwarves, self-righteous little pricks that they are. I hate the fact that I have no idea where it’s going, and I hate the writing. I hate every single thing about the story.

As an author, sometimes we have to kill our babies, whether we want to or not. It can be painful sometimes, but, other times, it’s a justifiable homicide. That’s what it was with the tale that I pulled. Completely justifiable.

Does that mean I won’t revisit the story at some later date and see if it’s salvageable. Well…actually…I probably won’t. I have so many ideas going and so many projects in the works, that the likelihood of ever having time to go back and look at it is small. But I don’t mourn it. I don’t mourn letting the tale go.

Are there any of your stories that you decided just weren’t worth the time needed to turn them into something readable? Did you feel like you were letting yourself down when you let them go? Leave an answer in the comments.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Lethatu…Oops.

Ravyn's LetterI’m one of those people who loves to create worlds, and when I create a world, I want to create all of it. I want maps of everything, cultures to inhabit it, stories, history, religion, magic, and language. And I was well on my way to having all of that.

Then I moved.

Somehow, in the process of moving, the notebook I had written the grammar rules and such in disappeared. It’s a loss, I’ll agree, but it also gives me the opportunity to make some changes to the language and make it more in line with what I want it to be. To that effect, I’m not mourning the loss of the notebook. Instead, I’m going to begin at the beginning and make something that was better than the original. The only down side I can see is that the letter Ravyn Grimsbane left to her daughter Gwennyth will have to be a dialect not spoken anywhere else. But that’s okay, too.

What aspects of world-building are your favorite? Do you relish the opportunity to make changes? Feel free to comment.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Getting Settled Update

2017052295133200_2 (2)The last couple of months have been a bit nuts with my youngest graduating and us moving to another state, one we’d never even visited, but I think most of the craziness is finished, and we’re settling down. I’m hoping this will mean I can get back to writing and getting some kind of regular schedule for the blog.

One of the things I would like to do is work on a new story a bit at a time. This is a YA story with a plot similar to The Little Mermaid, or at least the general idea. You guys will get it in its raw, unvarnished form and are free to comment and make suggestions. I’m also thinking about tossing out a choose your own adventure kind of story. Would anyone be interested in that? Please comment if so.

Any other suggestions of what you would like to see here would be appreciated.

As always, best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

Character Thoughts – Ethan Grimley III

SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

final-cover-with-bookThose who’ve read The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III know that Ethan can be a bit strong-willed. He also has a certain disregard for the rules when it suits him, especially when he thinks he’s doing the right thing. The first time we see this is in A Walker is Born when Ethan skips school and disobeys his mother to check on Damion. Needless to say, his mother has four kinds of hissy fits, but Ethan just jumps right back at her. After all, he doesn’t understand why she worries so much about him. In Cronus Attacks Ethan takes off out the door when the Shadow Walker guild hall is attacked even though the students are ordered to remain indoors. He does it again when Faylen is taken, and it is because of Ethan and his friends that Cronus is defeated.

Much of Ethan’s behavior can be chalked up to childhood recklessness. From the perspective of an adult who’s raised three boys, I can understand how the adults around Ethan would want to keep him and the others safe. They’re children after all. On the other hand, I wonder if we keep our children too safe, keep them too shielded from the world around them. We have this idea that everyone gets a trophy and that no one should fail, but is this fair to the kids? Do they benefit from being raised in this environment?

From a parental perspective, I can understand not wanting your child to carry the weapon of a god, and I can understand wanting to keep him safe. Mine are grown, but come for them. I dare you. However, I can also see the wisdom of letting the children figure things out for themselves. I can understand how Ethan would feel that he was capable of handling the situation himself because I felt like I knew what I was doing at that age. (Doesn’t mean I did know, but I felt like I did.) I was quite capable of analyzing a situation and deciding on a course of action. I didn’t need someone standing over me telling me what to do every minute of every day. In fact, what I needed more than anything was for folks to back off and let me figure it out.

I think this is one of the things I try to portray with Ethan and his friends. The decisions Ethan has to make are his and his alone. No one can tell him whether to accept Gaia’s gift or not, and determining how to fight an enemy that is coming for him is knowledge he needs to have. You don’t get it in the classroom, regardless of what the subject is. I’m surely not encouraging students to skip school and the like, but I think there are times when we, as adults, need to back off and let them figure it out. Our children need to be able to enter the adult world knowing they can handle it. Will that happen if we hold their hands until they’re thirty? Do we want them to go out into the world frozen as Electa is so much of the time?

How much freedom of decision do you think children should have?

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Book vs. Movie – Bedknobs and Broomsticks

IMG_20170430_215322Contains spoilers!!!!!!!!!!!

 

The movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks starred Angela Lansbury. It was one of my favorites growing up and being able to get it on DVD was a highlight of my life. I love it! Then and now. I love the darkness and mystery and, of course, the magic. The search for the last spell so Miss Price can save England from the Nazis, the travel into the children’s story by riding a bed…there’s just something comforting, maybe a reminder of simpler times, about it. Granted, some of the songs are a little hokey, and, by today’s standards the effects are horrible. Still…

I finally got around to getting and reading the book, and I have to say that I love it, too, though it is almost nothing like the movie.

The book, written by Mary Norton, is actually two stories, The Magic Bedknob and Bonfires and Broomsticks.

In the first book, Carey, Charles, and Paul are staying with their Aunt Beatrice for summer vacation while their mother works. They meet Miss Price, who’s studying to become a wicked witch, and failing, and she gives them the bedknob. From there, they travel to a London police station and an island full of cannibals. At the end of the story, they return home for the school year.

The second book picks up two years later. Aunt Beatrice has died, and the mother is looking for someone to watch them for the summer. Miss Price has put an advertisement in the paper for children to watch, so they are reunited with their friend. Miss Price has given up magic, but the children convince her to use the bedknob anyway. They travel back in time where they meet Mr. Jones. He is a failed magician who returns to the present with them. After a few weeks, Mr. Jones returns home where he is almost burned at the stake.

In the movie, the story takes place during WWII, and the children are orphans who are evacuated and placed with Miss Price against any of their wills. They are somewhat rude children and not averse to blackmailing Miss Price to keep her secret. In the book, Carey, Charles, and Paul are simply being babysat for the summer, and they are much nicer all around. There is no mention of a war or a need to protect the children.

Their adventures are also much different. In the movie, they travel to London to locate Professor Emelius Brown, a charlatan who has a ‘college’ of witchcraft, to find the final piece of a spell Miss Price needs to protect England. From there, they go to a fictional island inhabited by animals then back to England to save their town from invasion. The only rescuing being done in the book is of Mr. Jones. After all, they can’t leave him to burn.

It’s hard to say which one is better. In many ways, it’s difficult to see the book and the movie as the same story. The bedknob is important, of course, and most of the characters are the same, but that’s where the similarity ends. It’s really easy to see them as completely distinct from each other. I think this is a good thing in a lot of ways, for it prevents the disappointment that comes from one being better than the other or key points being changed. (I’m sure we all have a list of movies a mile long to complain about.)

What do you think? Have you experienced both?

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com