Jul 18

Body Art in Paksworld

Posted: under Background, Craft, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  July 18th, 2014

Many people in various cultures have used permanent markings on the body as means of identification–individual, familial, tribal, broadly cultural.    Any of these can be ornamental, and thus fall into the “art” category, but they are often more than ornamental–they have specific meanings.  Temporary markings applied to the skin with colors, mud, ash are even commoner, but ephemeral; the point of this post is the permanent ones in use in Paksworld, and their meanings to the Paksworld cultures that use them (or who abhor them.)    Tattoos, scarification, and piercings all occur in Paksworld, with very specific meanings both inside and outside the groups that use them.

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May 26

Cats in Paksworld (and Elsewhere)

Posted: under Background, Life beyond writing.
Tags: ,  May 26th, 2014

Some of you have noticed that both cats and dogs are not prominent in Paksworld…and yet, they’re there, they just haven’t been emphasized.   Crown has a cat who moves plot a little, in one area.  And there’s a hound someone recognizes.   But that’s pretty much it.   Cats in Paksworld serve the same purposes as they do here, in those farms, ranches, and towns where vermin cause damage and spread disease.

 

Cleo-and-rat066

Cleopatra, our current cat, with a hispid cotton rat she killed.

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May 08

Re-reading and Thinking and Writing

Posted: under Background, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , ,  May 8th, 2014

I picked up one of my older books last night and read it a bit before going to sleep.  Gross Ego Inflation,  you may be thinking, though the internal editor pointed out every single place where–years later–maybe another word would have been better?  Huh?  Are you listening?    It’s not one of the really-old ones–it was written post Hurricane Katrina*, for instance.    But it ties in with something that affects all writers in all eras, even if they’re trying not to be tied to a particular time and place.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb 28

Paksworld Politics

Posted: under Background, Contents.
Tags: , ,  February 28th, 2014

Many forms of government have existed, and now exist, in our world…many forms of government can be depicted in fiction (including ones we haven’t yet seen in reality, like, um, a completely fair one.)   Epic fantasy is frequently criticized for having monarchies and aristocracies  (and the writers thereof accused of romanticism about the Middle Ages.)    So a reasonable question is “Why are the political systems in Paksworld what they are?”

And the answer is, “I studied history at Rice under F.S. Lear and K.F. Drew and C. Garside.  That explains everything.”   And I see a row of stubbornly frowning faces in front of me, with thought balloons over their heads saying “That explains NOTHING.”  And I’ll bet the stubborn faces would still have those thought balloons if I added, “OK, there was also prehistory and cultural anthropology…” Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb 26

Paksworld Plumbing, Part II

Posted: under Background, Contents, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , , ,  February 26th, 2014

The historians and archaeologists among you know that plumbing–its existence, variations, quality, and effect on human health (both good and bad)–is highly variable throughout history.    Elaborate systems for providing fresh drinking water, for instance, existed in time (and within a short distance) alongside the simplest, least effective ways of getting water to drink and a place to put your waste.   This allows fantasy and science fiction writers to play with the co-existence of different kinds of plumbing, and different attitudes towards what we now call public health issues.

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Feb 01

Would Paks Wear These?

Posted: under Background, Life beyond writing.
Tags: ,  February 1st, 2014

In Paksworld, as here,  clothing quality and style is determined not just by personal taste, but by wealth.  Wealthy people can “slum down” in cheap clothes, or rough clothes, if they want to, but they can also afford fine clothes in a variety of fabrics, up and including “bespoke” clothes made especially for them.   Poor people now wear cheap mass-made garments, but in the past, though they were limited in both the amount of clothes and the materials available, they could make clothes sturdy and hard-wearing–and fitting the individual, if “fitted” was considered desirable.  Durable definitely mattered–the kind of farm family Paks came from did not have a closet full of garments for anyone.   Garments that wore out in one place would be cut down for someone else; knitted garments might be unraveled, the sound yarn salvaged to knit something else.  Socks were darned, of course, and so were small holes in other garments. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan 30

Paksworld Plumbing

Posted: under Background, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , ,  January 30th, 2014

There’s nothing like real life to give a writer an idea for a story or blog post.    Like many people we sometimes have trouble with drains.    Sometimes a lot of trouble with drains.

kitchen-drain-house-to-yard092 Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan 13

Knitting With Herdwick Yarn: More on Paks Crafts

Posted: under Background, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  January 13th, 2014

The Herdwick yarn I bought is exactly what I hoped for–a yarn that belongs in a fantasy novel, in that its feel (like the breed itself) is old, traditional, and suits a rugged pre-industrial setting.    Here’s a small swatch knitted on US #5, (3.75mm) needles, from the Aran-weight, light-colored yarn.   I’m getting five stitches per inch.

   Herdwick-swatch-Aran198

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Dec 21

Crafts in Paksworld: Yarn

Posted: under Background.
Tags:  December 21st, 2013

Herdwick-yarn-12-21-13

Yarn spun from the wool of Herdwick sheep, purchased from Crookabeck Farm.

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Oct 23

On the Writing Side

Posted: under Background, Story.
Tags: , ,  October 23rd, 2013

I am still not happy with the Paksworld story written for the second anthology (and the deadline daily steps closer to my nose) so I started another one.   Actually I’ve started several that didn’t work at all, either because they instantly bulged and made it clear they would be too long,  or because fitting them to the anthology requirements would warp them too badly.   But this new one has retained its potential and is cantering along briskly.  It’s too long, but that’s because I had to work out background in the course of writing it–cuts shouldn’t be too difficult.  I hope. Read the rest of this entry »

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