Legends Made Truth

“At the heart of every legend there is a grain of truth”
– Michael Scott
 
In Frank Herbert’s Dune, the gifted hero of the tale used his military skills, natural leadership, and participated in the legends seeded by the order of manipulators to whom his mother belonged. He won and ousted the current Emperor of the Galaxy, marrying his daughter and ending all conflict…or so he thought. We later discover that the religiously inclined people he had helped achieve freedom decided to found a church upon his deeds, make him the living Messiah and launch a jihad throughout the galaxy in his name. In dispair, he walks out into the desert, apparently never to return.
 
Paul Atreides was fighting for revenge and recruited the Freman to his cause by listening to his mother’s advice to play along with the legend. As it happens, he exceeds the expectation but that is anothe matter. What is important is that the truth is soon overshadowed by the Legend and, once those directly involved in real events are gone, nobody is left to say “that did not happen” so people are free to believe the more exciting version.
 
This is a manifestation of the phenomena we like to call “Storyteller Syndrome” or, in simple terms, storyteller’s exaggerating or, more accurately outright lying in order to draw their audience in better.
 
Let’s compare the following two versions as an example;
 
 
  1. A large and violent man, while engaging in his normal activities of reaving and raiding, kidnaps a woman who was held prisoner by his latest ‘clients’. I turns out that she is the princess or somewhere or other and had, in fact been kidnapped by a rival of the king’s. The king is an old man and the princess his only heir so marrying her would grant her father’s rival the kingdom. Our hero realised that she is going to be worth a great deal of money so does not do anything that could reduce the reward as he normally would under such circumstances. Of course, our villian learns of this and makes numerous attempts to recapture his bride and murder our hero but, being a man of action and quite well versed in the art of murder, our hero prevails every time. Arriving at the king’s castle, our hero confronts the villain, who snuck in and tried to murder the king, but is stopped by the hero because that’d mean he could kiss his money goodbye. The king, though grateful, is quite old and rather crazy. The kindgom is also rather poor so he marries his daughter off to our hero and has the villain executed; killing two birds with one stone. Having heard that the king’s advisors are planning to do away with him after the wedding, our hero murders the king, seizes the throne and traumatises the princess. He goes on to lead a brutal campaign against the holdings of the rival. The princess dies less than a year later of a broken heart during childbirth.
  2. Son of the Gods of the mountains, a noble barbarian exile is sent by his father, the God Muklebuckle to save the princess from a terrible wizard who infiltrated the kingdom and enchanted Lord Flafflefarst of Overhereia. The noble hero defeats a band of evil monsters guarding the princess and rescues her, carrying her off into the forest for her safety. The wizard hears of this and sends beasts, monsters, and demons after the hero but he defeats them all, with a little bit of help from the gods, of course. During the journey, the princess falls in love with the hero’s noble spirit and rather rugged good looks. Upon arriving at the castle, the hero engages in terrible battle with the wizard who is actually O’Deer’Jhez’Uz the dragon demon whom he barely defeats and almost dies, but love saves him at the last minute as the princess swears to marry him if he lives. Her father, unfortunately, perishes in the melee. Our hero marries the princess and, in honour of his departed father, leads the army to cleanse the land of Overheria and Rhihttheretu of demons and magicians. Lots of people die but the end of the world is avoided and the gods are happy…probably…
 
Of course, history does either tend to be written by the victors or to flatter them and ensure the writer retains the ability to continue writing…and breathing, of course.
 
History and Myth
 
We are pretty much certain these days that a great many of the old stories are not accurate representations of events. We are less credulous as a society than people once were, blame it on knowledge. Back when many of the older stories were written, great swathes of the world were unexplored, unknown, and undocumented. Monsters could live there because nobody could say for sure that they did not.
 
People had few other forms of entertainment so liked to tell and be told stories on dark winter nights. Their lives were also quite short and brutal in earlier times; ordinary people had rather unfulfilling lives or constant work and few prospects. Hearing tales of a common man going on adventures and eventually becoming king was bound to go down well, give them something to dream about.
 
That’s the purpose of stories, really, isn’t it? To give people something to believe in outside of the humdrum of normal existence. That the good people will triumph over the evil, that common people can do uncommon things, that there is a sense of justice to the world. Each era has it’s fashions in stories; in medieval times, the common man getting one over on the aristocracy or the church was popular. In today’s time, the unregarded individual, who is often persecuted for being different is found to be different because of a previously undiscovered heritage which makes them uniquely suited to save the world and gain romantic affirmation.
 
Stories are a way of escaping our everyday lives; they always have been and they always will be; they are about finding sense and meaning in a world where such things are in short supply. We like to believe that these things can happen because if they can’t, then what’s the point?
 
The Persistence of Belief
 
Heroes of the Ancient Greek, Roman and similar eras were the action movie stars of their day. The gods were both the stars and vilains, depending on who the hero was. It was like a great series where you never know what’s going to happen next, who’ll form an alliance with whom, who’d get jealous of which other god, who’d father or mother a demi-god to commit heroic or villainous acts next. It was like that rather popular fictional series involving dragons everyone liked.
 
The grand an heroic heroes of the scrolls were the embodiments of justice, fairness, and nobility that everyone could aspire to and admire. The villains were everything the people disliked at the time or those on charge disapproved of. Often subtle stabs at those in power found their way into them. They had to be subtle in those days because the reaction from an those in charge rarely would be. Critics? Oh dear, I’d rather get figuratively stabbed in the heart than actually…
 
These days we look for more depth because ideals and paragons are no longer our thing. We still like the justice and reason behind everything parts. Our world, in spite of the vast increase in knowledge and education, still hasn’t found where Truth and Justice live. Governments are still filled with egotistical liars, the poor still suffer more than they should, life is much unfairer than it needs to be, the status quo see-saw tends to be much heavier at one end than it is on the other.
 
It is no coincidence that the majority of villains we see suffering a variety of dramatic deaths in movies are mega-rich people of highly questionable morals and an enjoyment for taking over the world by killing all the poor folks. The hero is usually a working – middleclass nobody who gets an unexpected chance to restore the balance and take out the rich guy that makes their life unfair and miserable.
 
Yet, as much as our fiction appears to be making the rich pay for their crimes and suchlike, we desperately want to join them also. Billionaires coming down from their high eeries to notice a much-ignored nobody and make them rich too is quite a common theme also. It seems like quite a lot of people are not happy with their position is society and are seeking all kinds of ways to get out.
 
Conclusion
 
The truth is not as important as the dream. Nobody feeling in need of a cheering up picks up a history book or looks for a documentary on famous dynasties, well some people might but fewer in number than those that won’t.
 
We all like to believe that the world can be fair, that a reward awaits those who live well and are good, that there are heroes out there somewhere, opposing the evil we see in everything. We like to think that people will get what they deserve, especially if it isn’t good. We like to believe that fairytale love exisits and will come to sweep us off of our feet. We like to believe we could be attractive, powerful, in control, and decisive.
 
We read about it because we can escape for a while from reality and dip our toes into the fantastical and truly believe that if it can happen to them, then maybe it can happen to us one day too.

Entitlement vs Resentment

“When they discover the centre of the universe, a lot of people will be very disappointed that they are not in it”
 
Well here’s a polemic one but one I think is important. I have actually been thinking of this one for a while but two factors brought out in the urge to write about it today;
 
Having recently re-read the pretty darn decent “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson (if you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so).
Watching mediocre writers get all hissy whenever someone tells them their work is not perfect.
 
So, Alan, is this a bad mood you are in today? No Sir/Ma’am/Other it is not, simply a realistic assessment of what I see around me but thank you for asking.
 
We live a world where everything comes easily; news, information, entertainment, fantasy, desire, products, movies, love, even groceries; they all come right to our device in the blink of an eye and the click of a mouse. Everything is easy and comes when we want it to, pretty much. I want a movie to watch? I go to website Z and stream it, watch it, my need is satisfied, one bunny is now happy! Is it a good thing, though, that everything is easy? Well…
 
I watch my Facebook feed, my Instagram feed (if it’s actually also called that, I don’t know) and I see it all the time..
 
  1. Oh! My x, y and z is doing this and I feel so, like oh about it, please pity me!
  2. Life is awful and we all need to commit suicide and write sad poems about it so people will like our pages and make us cool.
  3. My random musings about the nature of how important my suffering is are going to be the Unholy Grail of vampiric, suicidal,S&M, magical creatures with gender uncertainty issues!
 
The list goes on and on. There is a ready and immediate place for people to express themselves immediately and, to a degree, anonymously, and express themselves they do. The lonely and rejected can (and this is where it starts to get really ironic) meet lots of other lonely and rejected people so they can share their feelings of loneliness and rejection together. It’s becoming dangerous though, look at that whole “Blue Whale” game and “13 Reasons Whu-Ay-Uh-Aaaaay Did they make it??”.Ooooh let’s commit suicide and self harm the enthusiastic teenagers cry! What the sweet and holy f is going on??
 
Entitlement, that’s what. The world owes me something. I am important. My feelings are important. You must listen to me. You must allow me to express myself. You must accept me for what I am. You cannot judge me. You cannot criticise me.
 
Excuse me but why? If I must accept you in all your grey non-confOrmist conformity, then you had better accept me in mine and, in the words of the great Denis Leary;
 
I’m asshole and proud of it!
 
When it comes to being forced, pushed and obligated to accept someone because they feel that I should. No Sir/Ma’am/Other I am not obliged in any way.shape or form to do what you want me to. If your entitled right to do such things is to be accepted by me, my right to disagree with you in an asshole-like fashion is equally acceptable, correct?
 
Ok then, I am glad we agree, thank you.
 
Another field of entitlement has clearly affected us all and is right out there. I bet you most of us have used it. I know I have, our little dirty secret called “Self Publishing”…ooooh I said a dirty word! It used to be called, a long time ago, “Vanity publishing” but they realised that didn’t sell too well as people really do not like having the negative sides of themselves revealed do they? Unless they’re of that group of folks who talk about those kinds of feelings a lot, that is! It is what it is though, we are appealing to our own vanity are we not, somewhat? Think about it and drop me some ideas in the comments, ok? I’ll skip over that and press on.
 
We are certain, we are definite that we have produced a masterpiece and it should be made known to the world entire lest they wither and die in it’s absence. As many of you know, pre self publishing, getting your Magnum Opus into print was a Herculean effort very few achieved. We could spend our entire lives trying; canvassing agents, entering contests, submitting to circulars and journals or magazines. We could spent 5, 10, 15, 20 years or more getting rejection slip after rejection slip and that was if we were lucky! Most of the time we got nada, nothing, zipperoo! I’ve been there, many of us have. it was rough but, you know what? We kept at it and here we are today.
 
Now do you know what the opposite of entitled is? I believe it is this; knowing what you are, what your limitations are and just accepting them, being at home in your own skin. You need no validation from anyone and so do what you like because it’s pleasant. You expect nothing from anyone and so, when you fail to receive it, you’re not disappointed, you’re actually sort of relieved because that’s less hard work isn’t it?
 
In my opinion these entitled writers are never going to be successful, not in the long term. No more than these recycled pop groups, TV, books and movies will, they will rise, they will vanish, they will be forgotten. Why? There is so much information overload out there that lastest best thing will soon be replaced by next best thing before the former can even blink.
 
How can we be successful then? We have to learn how to grow, to not be entitled, to not be arrogant and think that we can do no wrong. We must be prepared to be a failure, to be discovered and exposed as failures and then have the wherewithal to stand up, dust off our pants and ask the most important question in the universe;
 
“What did we learn from that then?”
 
 

One Emotion to Rule Them All

“…what humans ultimately fear is nothing” “That makes no sense…” he began to protest. A sharp gesture with a black-gloved hand cut him off. “Not of nothing…not like you.” The hat inclined downward in something approximating a nod of respect. “They fear it all coming to an end and that, as it we’re, being that.” It paused to light a black cigarette, the void where its face should be simply drinking the light. “They fear becoming nothing…”
I have asked myself this many times, what is it which makes a human most human, what makes a human most essentially human, what defines people?
Fear. Small word, many meanings, many interpretations, many manifestations… Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of what other people might think of you or not think of you, fear of belonging or not belonging, fear of difference, fear of control or lack thereof. Ultimately fear of the one thing human beings have a knowledge of which all other creatures on the Earth appear to lack understanding of; death.
You see, it is a consideration, quite a large one, in a series that involves immortals of many kinds; they fear death or are they immune to such things? If they do not fear death what do they fear instead?
The Fear of the Known
So what does it boil down to? Where am I going with this? Well, all the other fears which rule human lives, I think, are rooted in fear of death. How so? Well we all fear death and are uncertain of what comes thereafter thus we worry and obsess about how we shall be remembered when we are gone, what our legacy shall be, what we leave behind.
Politicians worry about how History will remember them; average people about how their family and descendants will remember and honour them. So they spend what little time they have (never knowing how long their allotted span shall be) in worry and fear of being accepted, acknowledged and thought of. It does afterall have a large affect on life does it not, spending the majority of it (the adult portion) feeling the weight of the one certainty in life (that we have it for rent only and that the time shall come to return our loan) but never knowing when it shall end….
I know when it shall end and have to take my lesson to heart and realize how many of my fears are misplaced.
So why be afraid of change, or others’ opinions, of what I’ll have time to do?
I know I will be here for a period of time, I will live and have life for that period of time. I had dreams before of time beyond the time I had left to me, of old age, old things I might see or experience and those dreams are not to be but they may never have been anyway; I, under other circumstances, would not have known and….well you know the story.
To fear known consequences, those of a failure to act as you know you should perhaps?
So to live without fear, without unnecessary fear (logical fears have value, fear of an angry animal, a rapidly approaching vehicle, of hurting someone’s feelings) … to sensibly fear the Known, how that’s sensible. Fearing the know is wise and a good survival trait.
Fearing the Unknown, though…
How can that make any sense? If course, to be human means doing much that makes no sense. Our imagination has helped us achieve much and is a writers bread and butter, after all.
We spend much of our life embroiled in unknown fears, though. We devote a great deal of time to “what if” scenarios, to possibilities, and to things we are close to certain will never happen.
But they might…
What if they happen and we’re not ready because we thought it was stupid?
How would I live with myself if x happened because I didn’t pay attention to y?
They want you to think that this isn’t real because….
It seems like the human brain is very much wired to be prepared for quick flight at all times, anticipating potential dangers and always ready for them, even if they never happen. Seems a little wasteful to me…
I mean, let’s look at this logically; anything could happen, the universe is a rather random and chaotic place. In theory, the Earth could be wiped out in an eyeblink by a rogue asteroid or exploding star. Aliens could invade and either enslave or liberate us all. Nepharious secret societies could realise their plans and start the Big War again and bring down civilisation as we know it.
You could cross the road tomorrow and get killed by a car. This crazed man with a gun could decide you look like a nice target. You could catch the latest deadly virus that the media are making us frightened of. You could touch the wrong thing at what could be determined as the right or wrong time, depending on your point of view.
You are going to die at some point, that is one thing of which we can, as humans, be absolutely certain. At least you only have to do it once.
Bearing in mind that we, allegedly alone in the animal kingdom, know that dead is inevitable, you would think that this knowledge would give us a kind of strength. You would think that knowing this extra fact would be an advantage.
Instead we spend our entire existence coming up with stories as to where we go once the inevitable pays us a visit. We don’t like the idea that the inevitable vistor might come alone.
Fear as the Prime Motivator
Let’s take a look at people. I don’t mean individual ones, I mean the species as a whole. This is a theme which does indeed run deeply through The Chronicles and even has a character who exists primarily to drive it.
Excepting a small group of shaven-headed men and women that live in inhospitable places, have that tranquil and smug look, and like to dress in saffron; the majority of people alive spend the entirety of that blessing worrying about when that stops. Every decision we make, every interaction, every choice is driven by the knowledge that, one day, we will no longer be here.
Think about it; humanity’s prime motivation is not the improvement of our world or discovering something that will make existence a better place, it is about achieving immortality.
Serial Immortality; through children, we pass on not only our genes but our knowledge, our values, our social identity.
Historical Immortality; there are many ways to achieve this but we’ve all heard of Shakespeare, Einstein, Newton, Lincoln, Julius Caesar…
Digital Immortality; these days, people’s Facebook accounts outlive them so their memories, thoughts and, somewhat, their personality endures. It’s like eidactics but less interactive.
Our lives are driven to achieving one form of immortality or another, humanity is desperate to find the secret;
How to live longer; by exercising more, health fads, pills, and potions
How to look younger; and therefore trick Death into not realising it’s our time by using, guess what? Pills, fads, and potions!
Daring Death to Take Us; extreme sports and activities, so-called adrenaline activities. We survive that so we feel immortal.
Vampires, Zombies, etc; Literature is just filled with them now but what’s the fascination? Immortality and a stylish and sexy one at that, how could that be bad? Oh, the blood, right.
Obession with The Afterlife; we have to go somewhere when we die, right? Even people that don’t believe in any deity or religion have ideas about the afterlife, that there is one. Some don’t but, it would appear, the majority do.
Think about it, it is rather funny when you bring it down to that; we’re obsessed with vampires because one does not need to ascribe to a particular religion to be one of the Children of the Night. Zombies existing means something endures after death. Ghosts and spirits mean there is something immaterial beyond the physical. If we do something worthy of remembrance, then we’ve won, right?
To Live Without Fear?
Again, this theme runs right through Darkness Within. It is often discussed and debated. The idea that utter fearlessness is not a desirable condition seems to be what most characters conclude. Many are accused of being fearless but they will correct the speaker when this opinion is voiced.
Asmodeus will respond sarcastically, Sable will just smile.
Let’s take a look at what being truly fearless means; it means to be without fear, to fear nothing, not even the things we should fear. A fearless man would not hesitate before leaping off a cliff. A fearless man would plunge his hand into a fire to get the treasure. A fearless man would charge twenty heavily armed soldiers and not worry about how many ways he would die.
Fearless, as Asmodeus would put it, means insane. Fear is sensible, he might add, as long as you remind it who is master;
“Fear is good if it remembers who is boss; if it can control itself and focus more on being Caution than Terror. Fear must be controlled and never allowed off its chain. Keep it shackled and allow it to counsil but never rule…”
Fear keeps you alive and doing that for as long as possible is, as previously established, quite important to the average human. Insane, mouth-frothing fearlessness gets you killed everywhere except in the stories. Fear is useful as long as you do not let it dominate.
Letting Fear off the Leash
What happens when we let fear take control? Well, let’s talk about fear first, shall we?
Fear is a primal force, older than the human race, he lies that deep and left-over reptilian node, long overlaid by ‘more civilised’ layers of mentatation. It lies where those ancient instincts about running away from anything with teeth longer than our arm slumber in the primordial darkness.
It doesn’t always take much to have humanity stampede like the herd of wildebeast that have seen the lion, though.
Corona Virus.
Terrorism.
Cybercrime.
Russia
The Middle East.
Fear came into our make-up before emotions, logic and even language were invented. Fear doesn’t consult, it doesn’t go through any checks, it has its own express lane to the adrenal gland. It is capable of shutting off the brain almost entirely, cutting it out of the loop.
Terror is the deadliest weapon in existence because, in terror, people will destroy themselves, in panic they will run blindly into a far worse situation than the one they fled. People are crushed in the resulting stampedes. Panic is contageous and very hard to control; people will join in without actually knowing what it is the people running towards them are fleeing.
It is visceral, it is illogical, it is deadly.
It is also rather easy to manipulate in much less dramatic a fashion. Fear is also a very useful resource for a smart man or woman to exploit.
Timor Indominus
“Humans fear that which they do not understand and hate that which they fear”
Politicians seem to be the masters of this art in our current climate. Fear switches off emotions so if you can make your supporters fear those that oppose you, then they will lap up any old trash you give them. Neither ‘side’ of the political spectrum in America, Britian, or elsewhere are innocent of this.
The media have long made use of it to sell papers. Sensationalism, was their term for lying, exaggeration and fear-mongering. It sounds much better than propaganda doesn’t it?
It didn’t take long for powerful people to realise that this could not only be useful but used for something much more important than the distribution of gossip, scandal, and cheap pornography.
Though Asmodeus is often credited with coming up with the idea, he isn’t the only truly devious creature in existence; he’s one of the best at it but not the only one.
It has been well proven that, if you make a human nervous enough, their decision-making ability is impaired. Higher brain functions are overruled by emotional ones, impetuous thinking dominates, strong emotions such as anger are the strongest in this case.
If people are ruled by this fear/hate relationship, they will tend to believe anything that you say about the target of their fear as well as anything those who say they oppose the hated group, in turn, assert.
The world today is pretty much devided along these lines.
Let us use America as an example; Democrats are certain the Republicans and their chosen ‘Leader’ are the most currupt, dangerous, and hateful people in existence. We will believe anything we are told about said President, no matter how ridiculous it might sound.
In contrast; Republican supporters believe that said President is the victim of a vast conspiracy involving inhuman corruption and Anti-American secret societies who want to undermine everything they stand for. They, too, will believe any outlandish story they hear.
Social media, as we have mentioned in other articles, has made this incredibly easy to achieve and manage. It is easier to feed stories, rumours, and titbits to people. It is easier to employ people to comment and sprinkle stories in a seemingly innocent manner.
To be subject to fear is, therefore these days, to be subject to manipulation. Now that is a scary thought.
Conclusion
To live without fear utterly is pure insanity. To fear the unknown is, perhaps, a lesser though common insanity. To fear the known is, we are led to believe, sensible.
People are described as fearless but think about that for a moment. To be completely fearless is to be utterly insane. Fearless is a person who charges the enemy guns alone holding only a knife and a couple of grenades, laughing while they do it.
They might survive by the pure luck if any watching gods wanting to see what happens next but, sooner or later, they get bored and luck runs out.
Judicious fear is finding the long-forgotten drainage culvert and crawling up it at night to plant the grenades in weak spots and get out alive.
Fearing the Unknown will paralyse you and hold you back. Fearing the Known and respecting it, that’s the ticket, we are told. Respect and give fear a voice but make absolutely sure that it knows its place.
The secret is being afraid but doing it anyway; that’s real bravery; looking fear in the eye and smiling.

New Horizons for The Chronicles

As you all may know (we have been rather vocal about it), The Chronicles of Enoch’s days on Facebook are over. Some might be discouraged by this but we refused to lie down and expanded our horizons. We are now developing our presence on alternative Social Media Networks that are less restrictive and more geared towards the artist.
 
Below you will find the links for our new profiles, please feel free to visit them;
 
 
As you are probably aware, we do not lie down and take what we consider to be discrimatory/targeted behaviour from Facebook but where will we, a small concern at the moment, get with fighting them? Nowhere fast is the probable answer to that one so we do not lament, we adapt.
 
We have also re-activated our old alternative blogs so that those of you that use WordPress or Medium can also follow us there should you wish to.
 
We would like to use our experiences as a two-pronged message for our readers; be careful how and what you post with Zuckerberg and do not let anything get you down.
 
When we lost the site that generated over 70% of our traffic and audience; visits and feedback going from 60+ a day to less than 10 overnight, it was quite a blow and we admit to feeling rather hard-done-by and dispirited by it all but we pulled ourselves back together and looked at alternatives.
 
Our readership has been steadily rising and, though progress remains slow, we are not dispondant, why would we be? Different options and changes equal new opportunity.
 
One place tried to gag us so we found places where that is not going to happen. We actually find it rather amusing because it wasn’t like we were posting anything which was offensive; it wasn’t racist, sexist, or descriminatory in any way. The only people it would have offended were those who have no actual reason to take offense because the truth should never offend, it should enlighten.
 
As we have mentioned previously; it is rather odd that The Chronicles of Enoch Facebook page is still alive and well. It just has not been updated for almost a month. We still get the occasional visit from that source which is indeed amusing.
 
I say this is simply a time when we all get to show our true colours and they certainly did show theirs.
 
Let us continue to show ours every day, right?

Upsetting the Established Order

“My words will either attract the strong of mind or offend the weak one”
– Unknown
 
“What is freedom of expression? Without freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
– Salman Rushdie
 
From the very first draft of the very first chapter, we realised that The Chronicles of Enoch were going to offend some people, perhaps a lot of people. We know that the topics we are going to be handling are some sensitive ones.
 
We ar, however, of the long-held opinion that it is, effectively, the job of the artist to challenge how people think about and perceive what is around them. It is our job not only to entertain but to challenge ideas and lead our readers (in my case) to ask questions; not only about the topics we dramatise, but our words themselves. A true writer wants debate and opposition because that means people are thinking and they are talking.
 
“As a writer, you know you are doing your job well when they try to stop you from doing it.”
– Anon
 
If we are faced with controversy, that means we are challenging what needs to be challenged but, of course, as with everything else, there are lines that should not be crossed and consequences for crossing them.
 
Lines in The Sand
 
We know that we are supposed to defend freedom of expression and challenge societal norms. We know that controversy is part of our reason of being in many cases. We remember those who stood up when no-one else would and wrote what nobody else seemed to dare to.
 
We do indeed have the right to write what we want to, it is enshrined in the values of both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression.
 
I take my stick and point at the sand.
 
Just because you can does not mean that you should.
 
I draw the line and wait for the inevitable questions.
 
  1. Graphic murder and graphic rape. I do not think we should try to force these into the mainstream. I don’t mind offending people so I will just say it; if you enjoy reading that, you might consider asking yourself why. Reading is meant to be a pleasure but taking pleasure from such things is…well…now, horror and gore have their place but pure gratuitousness for its own sake does, in my opinion, not
  2. Graphic descriptions of the abuse of children. Though a horrifying trend and something which needs to be addressed and dealt with, we don’t need to know about it, we don’t need to read about it
 
Now, there are more, probably, but for me, those are the only reasons I would have for throwing a book in the bin and never returning to it. There is a worrying trend these days to represent these things, especially among new writers looking to make waves and use controversy and shock value to get immediate attention for their work but I ask them, is that the reputation you want to have as an artist?
 
Of course, my list of lines I do not cross will be different to other people’s, that is normal and part of the process of learning.
 
Some say religion cannot be touched. Others say that gender identity or race must be addressed and the book’s characters inclusive. Fair enough. I wouldn’t tolerate racism or homohobia/sexism personally so no characters I write who practise that will come to a good end.
 
 
The Controversy List
 
There will be several things which will offend the tender sensibility in Darkness Within alone. Let me tell you about them;
 
  1. The Roman Catholic Church, American Mega Church Evangelism, and most of the ‘Christian Cults’ of the USA were set up and are directly managed by Lucifer and his cohorts. The idea of this was to muddy the message and lead humans away from The Creator in order to prove his point. The demon Sammael is resident in Rome and is the Pope’s closest adviser. Those who follow almost all branches of modern Christianity are, to a greater or lesser degree depending, following the Devil, which is ironic.
  2. The angels are not pure and unblemished beings. Towards humans they are distant and slightly disdainful. The long lists of moral laws we have tacked on to the whole thing interest neither them nor their Father even vaguely. The clothes we wear, the buidling we go to on which day and what we call it is irrelevent to them, very much beneath their notice.
  3. That the US military, as well as the militaries of most developed nations are under Lucifer’s control, Abaddon uses them as a money making machine and sometimes as simple entertainment.
  4. All of our conspiracy theories, fancy fantasies of New World Orders, aliens, faked moon landings, dodgy assassinations, etc are all the invention of the being who came up with internet porn.
  5. A certain US politician in high office , who is replaced by a neutrotic demon bears quite a resemblence to a real politician and may or may not make satirical milage at his expense.
  6. The modern Bible is essentially an invention designed to keep people both confused and oppressed. Lucifer is responsible for most of it, togther with his fellow high-ranking demons. They added bits, removed parts, brutally edited others. They did anything they could to remove any clear message or possibility for confusion.
 
That is just the beginning, though. To me, everything is fair game as long as it does not cross my line in the sand or be designed to specifically hurt people.
 
The Politically Correct Trap
 
Now, before we start, there is absolutely nothing wrong in treating people of any minority or anyone who does not conform to what society calls ‘the norm’ the same way as everybody else. I encourage and applaud those who face struggle every day.
 
Here we agree, right?
 
Good…
 
Being aware of offending and conscious adaptation of your behaviour to avoid that are great but, as with everything, it must be a choice. Let’s be honest, there are ignorant and stupid people in the world, quite a few of them, who are content to blame others for their woes and hold very outdated opinions, not at all up to speed with society as a whole.
 
That is their inalienable right. You cannot force their worldview to converge with yours. There are going to be people who have highly inaccurate opinions about Black people, Asian people, LGBTQIA+ people in all their beautiful variety, Jews, Liberals, Republicans, Southerners, people from any country that is not theirs or hold any opinion which differs to their own….
 
With people existing in their infinite and all-splendoured variety, ignorant, hateful, and stupid also exists, it is unavoidable. They were either born that way or some negative life experiences may have made them that way. You can’t look at them and know.
 
You can protest, you can campaign, you can be involved in activism and work to change opinions on the matter but you cannot force people to agree with you or be unable to voice opinions they feel are justified.
 
That is what led to Brexit, that is what led to Donald Trump (not Krampus)!!
 
Look, I’m in my mid 40’s and I remember when it was fine to make racist jokes on TV and have white actors dressed up as black or Indian people in mockery and it was ok. Gay people were exaggerated and exposed to hilarity. Famous LGTBQIA+ people took the secret of their sexuality and identity to their grave, never being able to come out in public.
 
All that has changed for the better. We’re not there yet but we’re improving.
 
Education, you see, that’s how it works. People believe this, so you teach them that and the smart ones learn. The stupid or wilfully ignorant ones will not.
 
It’s just like school, college, university, etc. Everyone (in theory) attends the same classes, lectures and tutorials, everyone has access to the same books, everyone receives equal exposure to the same material but not everyone passes the final exam and those that pass do not all receive the same grades.
 
You cannot force everyone to pass. No law, no rule, and no amount of careful campaigning or protesting will encourage some people to either increase their grades or pass. They just don’t have it in them
 
You could even say that they can’t help who they are…
 
Now, stop before misquoting me because I am not defending bigots of any kind; judging anyone because of aspects, characteristics or behaviours they cannot help is always wrong.
 
Do you hate your child for misbehaving or placing themselves in danger? No, you educate them and present them with consequences. They tend not to do it again after that.
 
How Lucifer Drove in the Wedge
 
Now you see how he did it do you not? Identify differences and work on ignorance across the board. Make people scared of the different, feed the tribalism. He programmed these fears and hatreds deep into his religions and doctrines. The Dark Ages were one of his greatest victories because he bred a hatred of education and love of ignorance deep into the bones of our civilisation.
 
Before then, wisdom, even the folkesy kind those ‘witches’ had a lot of, were respected and looked up to. Being able to learn and grow was seem as a positive thing. Instead the devil replaced such beliefs that all those things came from him when the opposite was actually true.
 
Anything which could keep humans content and united was forbidden; anything that kept them divided and secretly guilty was encouraged. All the things we had in common were turned into sins and silly rules that were impossible to follow were introduced. Nobody could abide by all of them but that did not stop those who slavishly followed the obvious ones from looking down theirs noses at and feeling superior to those judged not to be doing so.
 
It all boils down to fear ultimately…
 
It was actually rather brilliant when you think about it. Afterall, feeling proud and superior for what someone else has done is an essential part of human nature.
 
Take a look at sports as an example; your team wins and you celebrate and mock supporters of the other team although you contributed nothing at all to the endeavour. It’s the same with religion, your team is deemed to be the correct one so it’s OK to do whatever you like to supporters of the other team when all you do is show up once a week.
 
The same thing can apply to socio-ethnic groups; yours is determined to be the dominant one but what do you do to contribute? You just show up and wear the t-shirt. as it were.
 
Conclusion
 
Controversy is impossible in the artist’s world; we tend to think quite differently to other people and look an explanation of why things are as they are. We tend to think not in straight lines on curves or, at times, more complicated forms. Often we are misfits and therefore have sympathy and understanding of those that society applies the same label to; those that refuse to simply sit down and accept the shoddy treatment they are receiving as “their lot in life”.
 
We see the world as everyone else sees it and decide that is not enough, so we use words, sounds, paints, and other materials to show it in a way be like better and dearly wish that others see it too as they share our hard work.
 
It is no coincidence that artists tend to be the first people to dictator rounds up during his revolution or one of many purges. We court controversy, are rebellious, and like to challenge the established way of doing things. We do not fit in with our heads down and question nothing; we question everything.
 
Nobody likes it when someone starts pointing out the holes…
 
The Chronicles of Enoch, over the course of our research, managed to find an awful lot of them and we intend to pick at each and every one.

Social Media Slavery?

I begin this with a caveat; I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because I have been excluded from Facebook for what appears to be forevermore…
 
The strange thing I noticed was somewhat disturbing…
 
Now, I am a smoker but one that is conscious that he is addicted to a substance that is not necessary for – is actually detrimental to – his continued existence. I know what addiction pangs feel like when one’s poison is even temporarily denied.
 
I was feeling this same anxiety and what I call ‘the twitches’ when denied access to Facebook. I felt that something was missing and was quite keen to get back to that shared social space. I was even somewhat apathetic towards alternative media sources and also despondent in its absence.
 
I actually found that I no longer knew what to do with my free time…
 
A Surprising Truth
 
To date, 3.5 Billion people, or 45% of the world’s population use some for of Social Media daily. Of that number a massive 68% use Facebook daily, spending an average of three hours a day (that they admit to) on that or other social media sources.
 
That is quite significant and, owing to ease of access through mobile devices, we would guess that the figure is a little higher when it comes to time spent.
 
Add to that figure that 54% of people use social media to research products and services they consider using and 49% of consumers rely on or make use of Social Media Influencer opinion and recommendations and we see that it outranks all other sources of interest and opinion.
 
People, it would appear, live their lives in that virtual space.
 
Don’t get me started on Influencers either, it’s a funny way to get famous isn’t it? Let’s leave it there.
 
“Ok, Boomer” the chorus of inaccurate ironic apathy resounds.
 
A Necessary Evil
 
We, as artists aspiring to fame and recognition must have a social media presence, there is no escaping it. We need to;
 
  1. Engage regularly with a possible audience.
  2. Regularly advertise and expose our work.
  3. Network with other artists in our field, learn the industry and the market.
  4. We need to create and maintain a website.
  5. Run a blog with regular posts (ideally daily)
  6. Participate in on-line social events to gain recognition; contests, competitions, etc.
  7. Create and maintain a professional persona.
 
Among other things. The thing is that we are new to this, all of us, we mostly make it up as we’re going along. We do that or follow the advice of people who claim to be experts, maybe some of them are.
 
You see, one terrible side-effect of our reliance upon Social Media for everything is that we tend to use it as our first and only source of information. It is so easy, with Social Media, to come into contact with inaccurate information and opinion-dressed-as-knowledge and we are, it would appear, inclined to believe it relying on the age-old adage of
 
“well it wasn’t true they wouldn’t let them print/upload/publish it would they?”
 
No-one ever seems to explain who They are and what authority they have over the accuracy of information; we simply entrust them with this great responsibility willy-nilly. If you were to ask me, I might call that a shade irresponsible…
 
Social Responsibility on Social Media
 
Now, let’s be honest, social media is not a nice place. We know well the ‘keyboard warrior’ and troll phenomena which have gained traction over the years. A lot of people dedicate a lot of time to, it would appear, seeking out people who disagree with their opinions so that they can insult those people and anyone else. It is thought OK to verbally attack anyone you don’t agree with or like the look of, use the open to all soapbox to cry out your opinions no matter who they might offend (especially if your opinion is that those people have no right to be offended). It is a place to start rumours, spread inaccurate stories about your hated-persons/group-of choice.
 
At times, that does seem like that is all it is.
 
The corporations that run it are not free from controversy either.
 
 
 
 
 
In all honesty, none of these companies feel any need to actually do anything about any of that because they are safe and certain in the knowledge that we need them now, we cannot go on without them because they amalgamated and crushed all competitors.
 
They are half right though, we need them…
 
Of course, there will be another article on social media and its denizens another time because it warrants a while article of its own, so we will not explore both sides of the ecology of social media here., we’ll come back to that tomorrow perhaps.
 
Conclusion
 
The purpose of this article was to open a few eyes to the fact that we are quite addicted. In spite of all the negative things we know about our poison, we still support and make excuses for it; as if it were a relative who is either violent or an embarrassment in public. You try to smooth off the rough edges that you know, deep down, are there. You hide the black eyes and bruises, you tolerate the social exile.
 
You know it only ever thinks about itself and what it wants no matter how sweetly it tries to tell you otherwise when it’s in one of its good moods…
 
Its built to suck you in and keep you there because there’s a lot of money to make in them there isles and that is part of the reason we are sailing them…

The Very Dark Art …. Of SEO

“Thou must be Found for success to come thine way!” Goes the cry. “Thou must have traffic and, verily, it needs must be organic and regular!”
Yes, I know that last part sounds like a diet tip but I didn’t invent the terminology.
This Writer’s Journey.
I have pretty much followed three primary Rules in my journey to date;
  1. The Rule of Pocket; or what said pocket contained at the time, what I could afford. I started with what was free and what I could do myself.
  2. The Rule of Discovery; I researched as extensively as I have for my books. I read blog articles, professional circulars, investigated my competitors.
  3. The Rule of Adaptation; I tried everything and altered anything that didn’t seem to work. I improvised often as necessitated by the First Rule, but I put in the work.
That is the secret, by the way. There is no magical formula, only a lot of work which is tedious and feels deeply unrewarding at the time. It is hard and mind numbing work a lot of the time but, once it’s done, some of it is fairly self sustaining.
Let me lay it out, one step at a time, showing the mistakes I made and lessons I learned along the way;
  1. Social Media. Obviously you need a way to communicate with fans and peers, to get known, as it were. Now, of course, the majority of people you will find, initially, are fellow struggling artists but relax. I set up my Facebook Pages, first for my Author persona and then for my books. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. are the go-to basics you need.
  2. Web Brand Presence. I began on wix.com with their free package and built my website myself. My first attempt was…well, a website. It had everything a website needed except presence which we’ll get to later. My website, for which I have now purchased domains on GoDaddy.com , has seen four complete re-designs and numerous less comprehensive tweaks in order to reach its current form. It is not a masterpiece but you can check out the url at the end to see what I mean.
  3. Product Presence. My wise friend, Syl Sebastian, calls this “the cine” of your art; the overriding theme. Others call it the brand. You can look at a cover, a web page, a piece of artwork and know that it belongs to a certain brand. You see a red soda can with a certain logo and can make an educated guess to what is inside of it. Your writing embodies your style, right? So too must everything you produce. Decide on a style and keep it. The last major re-design of The Chronicles of Enoch took place for that very reason.
  4. Regular ‘Customer’ Interaction. You need a blog. You need to maintain an online presence. Retweet writer’s lifts, comment on content you like but do it daily. You need one to two blog posts a day, every day. You need to keep engagement and listen to those you engage with; you’d be surprised how far a good listen goes, it makes people feel important . I recommend a good Social Media Management tool here. I use Crowdfire currently but am shopping for alternatives.
  5. Ways to Monitor and Influence Traffic. Here is where owning your domain comes in handy. You can use things such as Google Search Console and Analytics when you own your domain. You can see who visits, from where, and when and tailor your posts and interactions accordingly. Use your Social Media Manager to queue posts for peak times, cater to your audience demographics, etc.
  6. Devotion of Time and Attention. As I have said, time is your most vital resource and largest investment. You must post to your blog, interact on social media, encourage people to interact with you, every single day. There are days – I know all about these – when you don’t feel like it or inspiration appears to desert you. You know a trick I learned? I wrote about that! Nobody is going to do it if you don’t. Making sure you give the time is the surest measure of how badly you want this.
Sisyphus Had it Easy
Our friend, the Titan punished with the interminable bolder-pushing task at least had no need to adapt, to learn; he simply has to repeat or stop.
In part it’s like that for us but not always.
Let me take you through my journey in more detail, warts and all;
1. I put together and edited the then known as “Alexander Collections” from old short stories, book idea fragments, and poetry. I designed my own covers when I disliked Amazon and CreateSpace’s templates and fought every self-publisher’s hardest battle; the formatting war! It took me many hours, filled with horrible expletives, to make my manuscript files work for my chosen paperback format. My wife found these times hilarious.
2. I added an Author Page to my Facebook account. This advertising took a lot of trial and error; which groups liked and accepted what, what I could post and when. You have been There, you know the pain. I spent a lot of time in Facebook Jail and became frustrated with low engagement, with negative comments. My first efforts were, of course, fragmentary and needed a bit of work.
3. Used Wix.com to create and design my rather generic author webpage. Used my half decent graphic design skills to make it look somewhat professional. This was before I realised that my website is my public face as an author, the first thing most potential readers will see. Still, I was proud of it and excited so I shared the url extensively and added to the content and blog often. I created my Twitter and Instagram for sharing too.
4. Over the course of two weeks, I wrote five novellas and designed covers for them. I uploaded each to Amazon and decided upon a rebrand; retroactively editing the Collection stories to fit the expanded narrative universe I saw emerging. This was, perhaps my first big mistake. I was a new father of twins and they, combined with work, took up a lot of my time, obviously and as it should be. I tended to rush my writing responsibilities. I heavily advertised these works and, I am ashamed to admit, they were riddled with errors of grammar and spelling. I have since pulled them from Amazon but copies were purchased. That stigma will remain.
5. I launched my YouTube Channel and devoted an hour each Sunday to my video blog. This turned out to a good decision. My poor decision was not being able to maintain that commitment. You see, there lies the greatest danger we will face; commitment. We can take on too much, promise too much, and come up with great ideas we utterly fail to deliver on. Our excitement and passion needs to be restrained at times. You’re trying to build a reputation in a very competitive market.
6. I became rather active on Facebook and was often sought out for advice (my channel was quite popular). One such advice seeker was my friend Joe. Together, to cut a long story short, we came up with what was to become the force that dominates my life; The Chronicles of Enoch. Joe has since handed to torch entire to me as he had other priorities and projects he wants to work on. I decided, as I started work on The Chronicles and, with sterling advice from Syl, to use my creative surge to start from scratch.
7. It started with an extensive redesign of the website and ended with the purchase of the chroniclesofenoch.com domain. I decided to build, from the ground up, a new website, Facebook Page, everything for The Chronicles and, with much experimentation, cement a definite “cine” or brand. The artworks I first created we’re, in all honesty, amateurish and awful but I persevered and I realised that there was a clear and obviously persistent style throughout them all. I had to find a way to make people say “Oh! That’s definitely CoE, that is!”…So I fiddled, tried, and mucked about until I found it and translated that style; one that matched that of the writing too, into a consistent image. I made the site mobile friendly too…that’s important.
8. I brought my WordPress, Medium, and Pinterest back to life. I experimented with Metatags and Keywords, I learned how to embed them in my site and so began the Golden Age, I thought…
9. Facebook, it turned out, had other ideas. I detail the struggle in other articles but, in essence, Zuckerberg and I had a falling out and decided to go our separate ways. Take this as the most valuable lesson I am going to reach today; perseverance.
You see, before that…difficulty…I was getting traffic of 50-100 visitors a day to my website and blog, things were taking off but 75% of that traffic came from a source that was, abruptly, cut off.
I had a choice, surrender or adapt. I chose the latter and am gone from Facebook, probably forever. Instead of surrendering, I found other ways, other sources and social media.
That is the lesson; it doesn’t matter of you get panned by a bad review; learn, adapt, move on. Come up against an insurmountable barrier; be as the river and patiently find a way. Never. Ever. Give. Up.
This is your dream and only you can take it away.
So, What Does That Mean?
You have my experiences, my mistakes, my challenges, and my lessons learned. You may have found hints in there but you need, I think, a boiled down and well-presented version to tie it all together, right?
Your wish is my command;
  1. Decide your “cine” or brand early. As you write look at your themes, research any ‘competitors’ and work on the look you want. If you have that talent, look at creating a consistent look in your Social Media presence. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
  2. You’re going to need; Twitter, Instagram, Tumbl (you’d be surprised), Reddit, Pinterest and maybe Wattpad. Look at what you’re going to use each for. I use Twitter for chat and networking (I have a few famous ‘friend’s even), Pintrest for covers and art, Tumbl and Reddit for sharing blog posts, Wattpad for posting excerpts. I duplicate my blog in WordPress and Medium.
  3. You need a website. There are a lot of free hosting services out there but I like Wix. I went for their cheapest hosting package and bought my domain myself. They use a visual ‘drag and drop’ interface which is great for those of us that don’t code. I designed my own but you can find people on Fiverr for that.
  4. You need to learn SEO and web marketing. Search ‘Chronicles of Enoch’s on Google and most of the results will be mine. Add your url on everything you use. Smashwords is a great alternative to Amazon and gets you lots of exposure. I could produce an SEO or web marketing guide but there are already dozens out there. Use your Google, read them all and filter out the bits that don’t fit your needs, time, or budget.
  5. Having decided your look and brand, you can work on keywords. Wix helps you a lot with SEO and Metatags. I followed their SEO Wizard and recommend any of you that decide to use them do that same. Key words determine what kinds of search your page is found under. Metatags hide these inside the code of your website so when Google and the others “crawl” your code, they index these search terms against it.
  6. Google AdWords. You set a budget, create your ad and pay only for clicks. If it gets too expensive (download the app to monitor that) you’re not tied to a commitment so pay off and disable your ad. I reasoned it like this; if Google stands to make money from your website getting clicks, they’re going to help that happen, right?
  7. Blog every day. Use your book title and name (or pen name) as a hastag and include these in every post. I even use those popular inspirational memes as a vehicle. I share it using Crowdfire on Twitter and Instagram with my hastags hidden in the ones it came with. It gets shared and so do my tags = free advertising.
  8. Find your niche. Your book is probably going to fall inside a certain genre (top tip: do NOT make it fit a genre or to a genre that sells, that’ll hurt you long term). You need to allow the same and appropriate voice fill your posts. Post topics your audience will like. Research and find your niche. I have taken the role of ‘O Great Writing Guru and Know-it-all’ because it appears to suit both me and my style. When my YouTube vlog comes back, it’ll be purely about writing.
  9. Work hard. Learn. Adapt. Most importantly; Do. Not. Give. Up..
Conclusion
It is almost impossible to produce an absolute ‘one size fits all’ guide, as I have discovered. I have read dozens and find lots that does not suit my style, my audience, my pocket, or fit into my available time.
I tried to do everything and produced inferior results. I got myself banned from Facebook for not fragmenting my posts and content well enough. I had to pull 9 books down after trying to push too hard, too fast.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way and wasted time, work and, ultimately, my hard-won reputation on it. I’ve had to evaluate and rebuild.
Perhaps by reading this article, you can save yourself some trouble and avoid the biggest ones.
Resources.

On Epics & World-Building

World-building. What does that mean? Well, we could start with the Oxford English Dictionary definition, I suppose;

World Building.
Noun
(uncountable)
The construction of a world, especially a convincing fictional world for literature etc.
Origin
world +‎ building

Quite simple really, right? Right? Wrong. World building is truly not simple and will be the most difficult part of your work as a writer. Note the key word in the definition fictional is a given, of course so that’s not the key word. So what is? Convincing, that’s the key word. You want to a create a world that your own characters believe in and belong to, one which shapes both them and the story so that your readers will believe it too. For this to work, you need to sort of beleive in it too, I suppose…Consider what I think are essential elements to make sure you pay great attention to;

  1. Language. You don’t have to go Klingon, Dothraki or High Valeryian and actually construct a language entirely a-la-Tolkien but you need to consider it as an important factor. Consider such things as;
    A: Slang, regionalisms and dialect. How does your character speak. What words does he or she use that other characters don’t. What words are unique to them and which are unique to the world as a whole
    B: Curse and insult worlds; believe it or not these have an impact. Curses are often culturally influenced therefore will reveal a lot of details about the either the culture using them or the culture they are being used towards.
    C: Differences to our speech; of course you are likely yo be writing in English for the most part but you want to find little ways and add differences here and there to make it at least look like another language is being spoken. How would accents differ and how you might represent them?

I first ran into this side of the world-building art when composing my alternate world of the Hegemony. In this world, Alexander the Great did not die in 323 B.C. but went on to first conquer the know world as far as Nepal, to the Valley of Silence, what would become Base Camp 1 in our time.

Inside of the mountain known locally as Sagamartha or Chomolungma or ‘great mother mountain’ he found the true great mother by whom both he and ten thousand, three hundred of his soldiers were reborn into the Kal-Shodar. As they arrived and built camp it was Lupernikes, the Spartan General, who made observations about what I called the argot of the army.

Alexander’s army now had Persians, Greeks, Sogdianans and many proto-Chinese or Oriental tribespeople within it’s ranks and camp followers, among others. It was inconceivable to think that there would be the time and the titanic organisation needed to teach all of these peoples Greek or Koine, the standard Greek the army used (back then each Greek City State had it’s own version of Greek and the Koine was named ‘travelling Greek’ or Standard Greek, combining all the dialects of Greek into something everyone could use and understand) back then.

So they did what the army had been doing up to that point, they developed an argot or pidgin, as the various languages and dialects mixed, they flowed together and bits of one combined with parts of another to begin the process of creating a new language, which was formalised a short time after Hegemony was achieved in Hegemonic Standard Greek or Standard for short. As they travelled, the argot developed and Neshaa speaks to Kalliades and others about it and uses it. Kal-Shodar itself is a combination of Persian, some old Asiatic and even old Hindi and Sanskrit meaning ‘Enlightened Ones’ or ‘Remade Ones’. Dracograth is also a combination of Persian, Attic and Early Germanic languages to mean something like ‘Dragon Guard’.

Using these linguistic excercises didn’t end there either. I wanted to include Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and Dr. Stephen Hawking in the story, among others but I thought, how would the language have changed had Latin not become the major influencer on speech of the day? Had Rome not risen and created it’s Empire, how different would the world be? I decided that most of Western World we know today would be quite different.

Alexander believed in his version of Hegemony, the culture and manner of those who joined was added to the whole and parts we adopted in order to enruch the whole. This habit of his, taught to him by Aristotle some historians say, got him into trouble with the army in real history. In my alternate history, the big change happened before that rot set in. Instead there was another major problem but we’ll get to that later.

Suffice it to say, I played with place names first and those three gentlemen became Albrecht Aïstàn (Old Gothic mixed with a ‘hellenisating influence), Dr. Stefæón Hwœlèdh (Old Saxon and Gaelic again a shade hellenised) and Nikàlà Tesla (because Dacian, the ancient name for region now known as Romania being Dacia, was a possible off-shoot of Thracian which had contributed to the Koine of that age). Place names were also altered, as were countries. Some remained with the names they would have had at the time, others were hellenised. You see Standard would have caught on eventually but, left alone, most people would just keep doing what they had always done and be glad for the peace and adopted it later.

  1. Technology; this is thought to just be the realms of science fiction but anyone who says that is wrong. Technology has it’s place in fantasy too and ignore it at your peril! How certain common tasks are done, what forms of transport and communication were used and even what food they eat (and what technology or techniques they use to cultivate and harvest it) need to be at least thought about, if not directly referred to in detail. Think of what we take for granted in today’s world and, in your world they will probably do the same, unless it is something new and incredible. People today are very blase about cell phones and computers but fifty years ago these things were incredible. Let your characters refer naturally to things they take for granted or your narrative will get clunky and unwieldy rather quickly.

I take time to explain the new technology, first in the Kalshodar armaments and armour and later what is discovered and developed on the Moon because it new to everyone so such explanations are relevent to the story. Again, this is my opinion, no hard and fast LAW!

  1. Society. What things are considered normal and which are thought to be taboo or odd in your society. Again you don’t need to go into great depth here unless you really want to. Character attitudes, if written well, will tell your readers about these. We also have in this section;

A: Class. How is society structured and organised. Who are considered to be ‘in charge’. Are there workers, are there slaves, is everyone equal? Which classes are likely to mix and which should never. Again, massive detail is not needed unless it is relevent to the story but can be illustrated by interactions or casual comments.
B: Money. The unit of currency and how it is earned, saved, represented and spent as well as its value will have significance. If you’re writing stock fantasy then you have gold, silver and copper as always, but if you use other commodities? One author I enjoy uses water as her currency. So how much water is this item worth? What is your currency’s instrinsic worth. You cannot have character 1 paying, let’s say, three blue crystals for a hotel room but they later pay seven red crystals for a meal (when 9 blue equals one red, so you established when someone made change for character 2 earlier), if so they just spent almost twenty times more for their meal than they did their room! What did they eat? The rarest of animals encrusted in nitrogen subtrate with pure white crystal pastry?
C: Conventions and Laws. If a character does something considered wrong or even illegal what would the consequences be for them? Jail? Death? Exile? Combat in The Arena?
D: Medicine and Healing. If you want to both make it feel real and maybe add some excitement, you’re going to see some injury or eve death happen. How are people healed, how are they kept healthy during regular life? Is life extended for the privileged? Is there a universal medecine or substrance which extends life or improves health? How is it made? What does it do? Does it have side-effects?
E: Drugs and Vices. We have so many today, some of which are much more socially acceptable than others but in your world how is it different? Is smoking anything illegal? Why? Is caffeine considered a drug (like in Pitch Black, remember the scene when he injects himself in the eye?)? Are everyday things we consider normal given special treatment and what is that? How do people relax? Do they use alcohol or has that been banned? What are the alternatives? If they want something illegal how and where do they go to get it?
F: Jobs and Employment. What do people do to make and earn money? What are considered menial labours? What are considered ‘good’ jobs. Is status involved? Can only people or a certain upbringing or class do certain jobs? How is employment given, found and kept? Do people get fired and what happens when they do?
G: Customs and Beliefs. Are your folks religious? Are only some of them? How do they practise their beliefs and what influence do these have on their lives? Are things banned by their beliefs which general society accepts? Do they encourage freedom in certain areas where society does not? What happens when people are born or die (THE most important events unless your folk are immortal or suchlike), what customs or relgious (or other) practises accompany these events. Where do believe the dead go?

Now, of course there are more, but I’ll end up writing a book if I cover them all!

See how complex and involved we are getting now? You wanted to build a world did you not? Think of how complex ours is. Yours must be equally complex in order to be believable. Again, you don’t have to write whole chapters about what these differences are but you need to know them so that when they come up and are relevent then they can be referred to or casually mentioned as you see fit.

4. Identity. This will come back to class and culture I suppose but includes many other items when you think about it. How do you identify yourself? Let’s review this one.

A: Nation, Planet, etc. Many will introduce themselves as natives of a country, city or region when introducing themselves to someone new. Where are they from? Where is there to be from? How do different places of origen get on with one another? Have there been or are there wars? Are there differences in language? Dialect? Accent? Appearance? Species? What factors cause these differences? What factors? Do people from one area dress or behave differently? Do they have other customs etc.?
B: Class and Status. I know we covered this but it may affect how your character identifies themselves. Maybe certain ethnicities etc. may have an impact on status or class? How? How well is that accepted? Who does and who does not? Who is reponsible? Who may want to change it? How?
C: Gender, other. Are there genders or roles similar to what we have? Are things such as status and class affected by these? What do different genders do differently or is their appearence different? How? Does one identify oneself by gender or similar? How? Is one gender or other subservient or treated differently to another?

Again there is more but you are getting the idea by now I hope. You are actually, at this point ready to begin! How will you decide, design and tie together all of this?

I, personally and a great lover of retroactive editing. It may be because I had two to three story archs and and drafts which I had no idea on how to continue and complete until my great “Ah-ha” moment of last year. After I went forward and developed my shared universe, world and characters etc., I edited back to fix things and make them coherant, as I did so I developed my world.

This worked for the Hegemony and Trinity series.

For the Chronicles of Enoch I did it rather differently. I had an idea of how the world was going to be different to ours but I wanted to make it as close to ours as much as possible at the same time. Our history is present and I didn’t alter any of that this time. We just have what people call a “Harry Potter Effect” (Thank you J.K) of ‘worlds within worlds’ where most people remain blissfully unaware of the other world until something (usually) bad happens to blow away their comfortable preconceptions.

You do, though, have to build your subworld in order to know how people from our world or the main world will be affected by the imminent collision of those worlds? How will the hidden world be changed or affected, positively or negatively? I established the differences and then wrote the chapters to let those differences play out and interact with one another. I had some fun. I had Lucifer and Abaddon watching Armstrong and Aldrin from a distance and joking about them, as well as commenting on the hidden truth that both the astronauts and general population were unaware of. I joked about a lot of conspiracy theories, made fun of some and with others I took them and ran!

As we wrap up let’s give you an assigment. Think of your favourite movie or book series. One set upon a world or worlds very different to ours and think on how they built their world. Look for all of the tiny little details you probably didn’t notice. All the hinted at subtexts and hidden meaning that I guarantee they left lying around for you if they did it well.

Peter Jackson, referring to his Lord of the Rings trilogy, stated that there are increible amounts of detail in there and stories attached to those details which the audience will more than likely NOT notice consciously. Around 70% of these details will be completely missed by 80% of the people who watch those movies but those very some details will add depth and authenticity to the experience. They give what is called immersion into his and Tolkien’s world. Immerse your readers in yours.

Anyone who, of course wants more specifics or ideas knows where to find me! I’m always where I always am, right here in my own little worlds, having an explore. This is what I would like to leave you with, the famous quote or, if it doesn’t exist as I am sure it does (I can’t find it now…)

“A good writer will build a world. A great writer will occasionally visit it in order to learn more about it. A truly remarkable writer can take you on a tour any time you ask them to.”

(Someone famous or maybe me)

What does that mean? Well to be truly great you must know the world you great and write in as well as you know this one. To all intents and purposes it must be real in your mind. It is a theoretical contruct yes but can you, as the quote suggests, visit it? Can you and readers take a trip through it’s less known regions? Is your universe coherent enough for fan-fic? Were I to ask you anything about your world or worlds could you give me the answer on the spot? I can. I can tell you where Lupernikes gets his lamb from and how. I can tell you exactly what goes into his famous stew and how the dwarves make their bread so tasty. I can tell you where the dwarven women are (thanks to the late and great Sir Terry Pratchett for putting that in my head!). I can walk you around a Kalshodar cruiser, The Nest, Alexandria the First, The Dwarven Complex, The Dragon’s Crown.

I can walk you through the streets of the Atlantis of Sable and Enoch’s time. I can explore the antediluvian world with you. I can introduce you to people and places I haven’t written about or drawn maps for. How? I have been there and I explored around a bit. I can visit any time I want because they are my worlds.

You consider all these factors and the rest and you are able to stage a great battle or event and know how it’s going to go and how it’ll happen because you know all the strengths and weaknesses of those involved already. You know the weapons used and how they wound and interact. You know tactics, you know customs. You even know the terrain. If you can see every move of the battle then you can write about the important parts of it!

The world of Hegemony and Trinity or the world of The Chronicles of Enoch are made real by me and seem real to me at times because no-one else is going to want to visit them otherwise are they? If I don’t believe in them enough, how can I write them truthfully enough to make other people believe? That’s why I do the little fake articles trick you might have seen me use, that’s how I explore. I ask myself a question or am asked one and I give the answer. I set the events going in my world to see what happens.

Make them believe as you believe and see what you see. See what we’re doing? We’re visiting this world so that we can summarise the important parts so that that we can encourage visitors to explore and learn more. My greatest pleasure has been when someone who has read one of my books mentions something I hadn’t thought about or noticed. They actually expanded and improved my world! They loved it so much that the dived even deeper than I had and found something new I’d passed by and missed! Has that ever happened to you? Tell me about it.

Tell me anything about your experiences with world-building and I hope you have enjoyed by little journey though some of mine…

People

I wonder about people, they are strange and I am apparently one of them!  lol

But for anyone who works with people, you’ll understand where I’m coming from!  People can be so rude and inconsiderate!  I mean, they cut you up at junctions because their time is more important than their fellows; they treat people who are ‘serving’ them as inferiors because what they want is most important….the list goes on and it amazes me often!

I mean, why do people behave like that?  Is it out society or our upbringing?  If that’s the case, then why are not all of us like that?  Why do some of us get upset and confused by what is supposedly “acceptable” human behaviour.  We have conflicts, we have wars and fights, all over essentially nothing!  People harbour hatreds and dislikes over nothing.  People judge other people harshly and only reveal their own failings and insecurities.  People are people because of one simple fact, they don’t actually know what being human means!  Can anyone tell me what it actually means to be human?  Humans spend their entire lives tortured by two things (among others); what life means and that death is stalking them.  We strive to be the best because that way we’ll be remembered when we’re gone.  We’re constantly trying to fit in and decide what behaviour is acceptable and what is not in society because we don’t actually know!  We conform to social norms because we don’t know any better!  Look at children, they don’t judge people on their own, they don’t conform, they don’t feel they have to behave in a certain way in order to make people accept them.  Human adults though, feel they have to behave in a certain way in order to be accepted, people who won’t do this are shunned and people try to make then change in order to conform.  Once children reach a certain age, the same thing happens; they must appreciate a certain kind of music, like certain things, conform to trends and behaviours or they are shunned and even bullied.  And why? Because people are frightened of anything not inside the realms of  “normal” because this invites chjaos and this invites questions, questions they do not know the answers to.

Chaos and change scare the majority of folks, they like things to be constant and inflexible, unchanging.  We’re essentially afraid of the dark, the unfixed, the uncertain.  Our old enemy is chaos, Eris, disorder.  Those who do not follow the herd are potential agents of of chaos and the end of society and are excluded.    All because humans don’t know how to be human on their own, they think that by conforming and following the ‘rules’ they are being human because that’s what the other humans are doing, therefore it must be right!  But no-one remembers why they even do these things!  Ok, now some behaviours like murder, rape, harming of others or children, stealing and so on are against the rules with good reason but most of us instinctively know what right and wrong are; anything which harms others is wrong, anything which benefits others without harming yet others is good.  But some things consider to be good are not necessarily so, some things considered bad are perhaps objectionable at most but we can no longer remember why they are bad; we blindly follow these rules because to do otherwise requires us to think and we don’t seem to good at that on our own!

Tell me, anyone who cares to comment; what do you think makes humans human and why do we follow rules which we don’t even know the reason for?    Are we individuals or are we sheep?  Society needs rules because if chaos were given free rein would it be the end of the human race or a herald of change?  The door is open, the table laid….