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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Mar 12

Moment of Panic (Unnecessary)

Posted: under Background, Contents, Conventions, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  March 12th, 2013

So…I went in last night to do some late work on the book after supper (which was late)  and after typing away decided it was time to quit.   Whereupon Microsoft Word said (in my phrasing)  “I feel sick and I’m quitting and what you’ve been working on may be lost when I shut down…Too bad, sucker.”

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Jun 12

Register and Custom

Posted: under Background, Craft, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  June 12th, 2012

I really admire Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Liaden books, because they handle issues of register and custom so well.  For those not dragged backwards through a linguistics course at some point, “register” refers to the way people speak in reference to social roles.    Most of us learn as children that one mode of speaking is fine with another child–a friend, say–but another is needed to satisfy expectations when talking to a friend of our parents.  That’s register: everything from the choice of words to the tone of voice to the topics considered appropriate…communication changes with social situations.

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