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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Oct 18

Paksworld Food Basics

Posted: under Background, Contents, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , , ,  October 18th, 2013

So…Paksworld’s northern kingdoms are more like Europe north of the Alps, in terms of what they grow and eat, and Aarenis is more like the Mediterranean countries.   But there are variations.   Paks’s family had a small amount of land under plough,  for grain and the few vegetables they grew; they also harvested field herbs, wild berries,  and some wild grains.    The nearest mill was a considerable distance away, so her family ground grain to make bread in hand mills (stone.)   Grain was also cooked into a mush, flavored with herbs and sometimes meat.   They were lucky in having good-quality hand mills that didn’t put a lot of stone dust in the meal, so they didn’t have their teeth ground down. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug 08

In the Gap

Posted: under Background, Crown of Renewal, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , , , ,  August 8th, 2013

In the gap between sending off the revisions and hearing reactions to them,  I thought I’d discuss a few more things about Paksworld and the series you’ve been reading.  Still no spoilers for Crown of Renewal, though, I hope.

As I mentioned in a comment yesterday,  the series shifted from my original plan for a long story about Kieri Phelan to a consideration of how forced change affects people in midlife.   I began it after we’d had one, and as friends had lost or  were losing their jobs (again!, and several years after they’d just begun a recovery from the previous downturn, at a lower level)  in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.   So I had a lot of direct knowledge of how forced change–even good forced change (because that happens to some)–plays out in real peoples’ lives.   But at the same time, the invented universe I now call “Paksworld”  has its own set of rules and logic–and stories do too.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun 21

Horse Stuff: Canter and Hand Gallop

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

I thought I’d done a post awhile back (too far back maybe) about horse gaits, but maybe it’s time for another one.   I do try to keep the horse stuff at a generalist level, but may not have. Read the rest of this entry »

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