Oh My Gods!

Now, with the overview of religion out of the way, we’re going to talk about the gods of Tespion.

 

Let me say this before we get too involved, because I really didn’t mention it in the other post, but I’ve come to the realization that I am either all or nothing when it comes to gods in my writing. Like I said, I’m atheist, but I did learn about a majority of different religions growing up. When it comes to my writing, I either have no mention of gods or religion, or the other end of the scale and it is a world that believes in pantheism. I don’t have a single story planned that has a monotheistic aspect to it.

 

Obviously, like I mentioned in the previous post, Goddess Born is the pantheistic end of the scale. I also talked about how the pantheon is actually based very much like some of the ancient religions in the way that they have gods set at different levels in their hierarchy and different types of gods. So with this post I think I’m going to tell you about that hierarchy and the different types of gods we have in Tespion.

 

First, though, I wanted to say that there is a different world that the gods live in. It is called Calypto. It doesn’t have a physical representation on Tespion like the Greeks had with Mount Olypus, it is a separate world that the dead go to after leaving Tespion, think Asgard with the Norse gods. To be brought there the gods themselves have to take them or they have to be dead.

 

But let’s start talking about the gods. I briefly mentioned the head of the hierarchy in the worldbuilding post, but I wanted to go more into who they are and what their status is in the world. Without going into too much of the creation myth of Tespion, I want to say that Neasa (the Mother of All) and Asher (the Father of All) or basically the crotchety old grandparents of the family tree. They created the worlds and the other gods. They are the standoffish grandparents that never, or rarely interact with the people of Tespion. They concern themselves with the world of Calypto and their own children behaving. They only involve themselves in Tespion when the people break the rules and they come in like a terrible storm and no one likes the result of that.

 

The next level of gods are a bit divided into three categories:

  • First, the Fates. Those in charge of the destines of the people of Tespion. Some of the Fates interact with the people directly and some not so much. Calita, who is in charge of the present, interacts the most. She raised Micah, who is the father of the main character of Goddess Born. Micah himself is considered a Fate because he was created and raised by them.
  • Then we have some other “parent” type gods that represent the different races. For example the Felidae have both a mother and father god, Keeva and Alaster respectively. They’re usually the creators of the people and are responsible for them.
  • The third group at this level are the gods that represent the different aspects of life. For example: we have Leander who is a god of dark magic and malice, Dierdre who is the goddess of hearth and home, Mallick who is the god of death and Marah the goddess of birth and fertility. These gods, and their brothers and sisters, don’t have races they’re responsible for but do have different duties tied to what they reign over.

 

After this level we have our demi gods. The children of a god or goddess once mated with a mortal. Demi gods really aren’t as present in the stories because after the Great War, the gods rarely interact with mortals to produce children. Micah, on Tespion and to those aware, is considered a demi god because he is the son of Calypsa. His is sort of a special case because he was not birthed but created. He was made to be the key to Calypsa’s prison. He actually almost fits better with the final category, but he is technically a blood descendent of Calypsa.

 

Last we have a category of gods that are looked own on by the main gods: gods created by other gods. These are not demi gods that are born from other gods, but godhead given to mortals and made into immortals. This, again, is not something that occurs often and it only is supposed to happen when all the gods agree that it is the right thing to do. The best example of this is Selene, who was made to be a goddess after her and Micah died so that she’d be able to remain with him.

 

There are cases, though, where a god will be naughty and not get approval from his brethren. Calypsa being the best example of this. Because of her creation, and her insanity with it, she was actually imprisoned and Micah created to protect Tespion from the powers she was givene.

 

So those are the biggest gods that play a part in my Tespion stories.

 

For all my fantasy writers out there, how built up is your religious system? Do you stick with Earth-based god systems? Have you created your own gods?

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I Say A Little Prayer For You!

In my worldbuilding post, I really could have spent thousands of words talking about religion and the process I went through in my current book, Goddess Born, but I didn’t. I instead gave a brief overview. What I am going to do over the next two posts is talk about the evolution of religion in my story. Also I want to talk about pantheons and creating your own – basically my journey of getting gods that work for my system.

 

I may actually do more additional posts in more detail of the evolution I followed for the different categories I talked about in that post. Hopefully it isn’t too redundant for all of you.

 

This first post is going to be about the evolution of religion in the Tespion world, as well as the actual religion in more detail. I think I’ll also get a little personal and talk about my own, or lack-there-of, religious beliefs and how it has affected my creation of this religion in this story.

 

I’ve talked about it before, but I’ll mention it again for readers who may be new and may not have read backwards in this wonderful little blog of mine. I am atheist. I was raised by a set of parents who educated me about religion but did not force it down my throat. They taught me it is a personal choice to believe what I wish to believe, but they made sure I was well aware of morals and values. They also made sure that if I showed interest in religion, they would help me learn what I needed to learn to make an informed decision.

 

With that, I’ve learned that I have no interest in shoving my beliefs down other people’s throats, and I hope that others won’t do it to me. I am informed in my decision, and it has been one that has been unchanged for more years than I can count. I will not discount your beliefs. I am not the atheist that really goes out of my way to “prove you wrong”. I expect the same courtesy. I don’t want to be told I’m immoral or get in long discussions of why and how I am wrong. I have friends that are Christian, I have friends that are Jewish.

 

But, I don’t want to make this a soapbox about my beliefs versus yours. I wanted to talk about it because I think that when it comes to religion especially, what we believe can effect what reflects in our writing.

 

When I first started writing Goddess Born, religion was a background. Something not very developed and only a small aspect of the story. There was mention of gods, but nothing to show the structure of religion because it really wasn’t a big thing at first. When I went through the revamping – or plotting – of the story so that I could get things more uniform and actually finish the novel, religion became a bigger player.

 

In the worldbuilding entry, I talked about it a little but let’s go into more depth.

 

The Dallian religion is a very … pagan I guess is a good word. It is full of ritual and is very pantheistic. Dallian itself is the umbrella of the religion, beneath that are different sects and strings. Similar to the Greeks and Romans, as well as a majority of the other ancient religions, the practitioners either worship the gods in general, or some even worship a specific god or goddess.

 

Outside of who they pray to, just like religions in our world, there are different interpretations of the rules of the gods. So we get different sects from that as well.

 

There are temples spread all over Tespion and these temples are run by priests and priestesses. Though I do hint at there being sermons held by the priestesses and priests, I don’t view it like your standard sermon. The priests and priestesses talk to the people about the gods and their rules, they educate.

 

The main task of the priests and priestesses to those that practice the Dallian religion is to perform the marking rituals for their members upon reaching a milestone in their lives. The milestones aren’t even set in stone, markings are done when the practitioner wants that reconnection to their god. The markings are done under the influence of hallucinogens that act as pain killers and provide a way for the practitioner to communicate with the God they are honoring.

 

In Goddess Born, religion ends up playing a big part of the story. Both of the antagonists touch on the religion of this world. First we have Calypsa, a scorned goddess seeking revenge. Then we have Brayden, a religious fanatic who believes he is a messenger of the gods out to deal out the gods’ judgment.

 

Brayden is a member of a sect of Dallian that believes all magic is against the rules and will of the gods. He uses his beliefs to strike out against those he believes have magic even if they don’t. Think the Inquisition.

 

Like other fanatics, Brayden’s group – known as the Old Ones – they strike out haphazardly and have no real way to understand the magic of the world. These fanatics cause a big rift during the story and Brayden is one of the major forces that Lynn is fighting in Goddess Born.

 

Magic – as an aspect of religion – is handled two-fold. Though magic is really only known to those that have magic, the priests and priestesses don’t talk against it. It is actually hinted at through the story that the priests and priestesses of the main temples actually have magic themselves. Or at least understand that there is magic out there. But since one of the main rules of the gods is that magic not be verified to those that are not initiated into that world.

 

I’ll go over magic later, though, I just wanted to say that even though magic is not largely discussed it is still definitely mixed in with the religion of Tespion.

 

I think that kind of gives you the overview of religion of Tespion, so I think we’ll stop this discussion here.

 

“Focus On Being Productive Instead of Busy.”

The title of today’s post is a quote from someone named Tim Ferris, found it on Google and I was just using it because I was going to sit her and introduce this post by complaining how busy I was.

 

I don’t have a set schedule because obviously the last time I set one of those I failed, miserably, but in my mind I had a plan to be posting at least once a week, preferably of Mondays. Well, as you can see, I missed this last Monday. And sure, the reasoning was that I was busier then not but that isn’t an excuse. Life was jumping in the way this weekend because I got a promotion at work (yay me!) but that meant a different schedule. Also had a sick/teething baby that distracted me a lot this weekend (not to mention I love that little girl and getting time with her). So it completely slipped my mind that I really should have had a post ready to go up on Monday.

 

I also didn’t have anything planned for a post, so that sort of hindered the writing process. But! We’re going to be productive, not make excuses.

 

So I sat here, staring at a white screen trying to get this written and couldn’t think of a post that wasn’t just “oh, woe is me, I am always busy.” Then I decided to stick to the trend of talking to you about my writing processes or whatnots. Soooo, what we’re going to do is talk to you about what I have on me, mostly on a regular basis, in case I get spare time for writing.

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I was out shopping one day while trying to find a method of transporting my writing things with me that would conveniently fit into my purse. Most standard binders tend to be too big and note books don’t have a good method of holding the rest of the papers I have. So I came across this note-binder thingy. Basically, it’s made by Five Star (who I’m not writing this for — I just want to make it easy for others to see what I’m using) and its set up to have the look and feel of a notebook, keeping it the same size-ish of their standard multi-subject notebooks. What I love about it is that instead of the standard spiral binding it has three rings (like a binder!) that can be opened and closed. So instead of being limited to what is bound in, you have the freedom to add and remove things like you would with a standard binder.

 

It has been awhile since I originally got one but I believe when you first get it, the note-binder comes with a few extra accessories as well like tabbed pages and some paper. I change mine up a bit, which I’ll show you now.

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So, one of the things that rock about this product is that the binder rings don’t only open on the inside. You can actually open the rings from the outside. So because this product doesn’t have a pocket on the front, what I did is use yet another favorite product of mine: heavy-duty sheet protectors. What I keep in this front sheet protector are things I am currently working on. I keep my current goals, things I want to accomplish soonest. Behind the goal list is the papers and information that I need for the goals that are on that list.

 

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Getting to the inside of the note-binder, the first section of this binder is group of a bunch of more sheet protectors. Why I love sheet protectors? Because you keep things gathered together for projects without worrying about pages tearing out like in a regular binder, or having to open and close the rings each time I need to move something. I can move a project around in one chunk by taking the sheet protector out with all the paper inside. Granted, they aren’t endless, so if you have large projects this may not be the best option for you.

 

Also in the picture you can see my tabs on the the sheet protector. I like using self stick tabs like the ones that post it does because they’re heavy duty and don’t get all bent up. It helps to sort my projects and I don’t have to buy a ton of insertable ones that just take up space without doing anything.

 

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So behind all of the project pages I have check lists for most if not all of the different projects in sheet protectors. Again, I used the self-sticking tabs to organize but this time used them along the top so I can find them along the top. I love using graph paper for check lists because I can make little boxes and still have lines to make it at least a bit straight.

Other then that, I have a bunch of other things in there:

  • Lined paper — for the obvious notes or just writing in general.
  • Graph paper — new checklists or goals lists.
  • Sheet protectors — if I add another idea that needs a pocket of its own rather then the catch all one that holds ideas that hasn’t been plotted out.
  • Articles — Right now I have a few articles on writing. I keep them in the back of this binder for reading in case I need them or want to read something industry-wise. Right now I have a few web articles on writing queries and synopsis because those are some of my goals right now.

 

A few other things I love about this system:

  • There are different sizes of these note-binder things, just like a regular binder.
  • It has a soft binding so you can open and fold the cover over like you would with a notebook. Which is awesome when trying to write notes so you don’t either need to spread a giant binder across your desk or take it out to write comfortably. Since I handwrite things a lot of the times, I like this feature.
  • It fits nicely in my purses and laptop bag — I like the ability to move it from one bag to another without much worry that it won’t fit. If the bag is big enough to hold a notebook, then I’m good to go. This used to be a problem when I used a hard back binder or portfolio.

 

Well! That’s it for today, hope you enjoyed a look into how I organize things.

 

How do you organize your writing? Any fun or cool tips?

“This is Your World. Shape it or Someone Else Will.”

Today, I am going to try and bring you into the world of Goddess Born and go through my process of worldbuilding and creating the worlds in my stories.

The environment and world your characters live in should be a character just like any of the people in your story. It should come alive in your prose and the best way to make it do that is to understand the things that are a part of the world. This tends to be a lot easier if you are writing about Earth and any of the millions of places on it, you can obviously research places or visit places to give that special oomph that puts a reader there.

It becomes more complicated when you’re creating your own worlds. What do you need to know, what should you include to make your readers see what you see and to understand the rules of your world?

I can tell you now that I know a lot more about the rules of the world that Goddess Born is based in then my readers will ever know because I had to decide what was important to share. I know the history of the world and things that even my characters wouldn’t know. I think it helps to know these things so that I can understand how my people came to be how they are.

So let’s take a deep breath and plunge into the world of Goddess Born.

              Geography and the World Itself

So, Goddess Born is based in a world that is not Earth. Though, I will tell you now that it did start off originally on Earth and eventually I realized that that was holding back from my story and had to create a world of my own.

The world/planet, the wholeness of this place is called Tespion. The vastness of this world isn’t something I’ve delved into too far. I very rarely make mention of the wholeness of the world by that name. Most people don’t reference Earth as their home because it’s not like we’re talking to people that would be from somewhere else, not as of yet at least. I like to know that because that helps me keep in focus the fact that this is not taking place on Earth.

Instead of focusing on the wholeness of their planet, I narrow down further. To a single country. This country is called Hycintha. Hycintha is widely populated and has towns and cities that are both very urban and very rural. In my mind, and when I try to describe it, I think of the diversity that the United States has, as well as the approximate size.

Inside Hycintha, we have the capital city of Lolia. This is where the head of the country is mostly focused. This is the political and religious capital of the world. Where the king and queen call home though is a different place, Mairia. Mairia is approximately a two hour-ish drive away from Lolia. Most of Goddess Born is based in between these two cities.

As I’ve been planning out different stories within this same universe, more towns and places have been added. We have Oziada (a mountainous, northern town), Galtzea (a small, touristy town that has a very famous landmark), Forstford (an ocean town), Triada, Ivygate and Havenaire.

There are places within these town/cities that are important. Like Club Tigre which is a sanctuary for some of the people that are in the story. There are Dallian temples (religious buildings) and sanctuary houses and forests.

Outside of Tespion, there is a realm of the gods: Calypto.

                    Government

In the Hycintha, the main government is, basically, a Constitutional Monarchy. But mine gets a little complicated. The human non-magical world has a King and a counsel that make all the decisions, very patriarchal. The magical world has a Queen and a separate counsel to make the decisions but in the magical world the Queen has a bigger pull then the counsel, it is a matriarchal system in this case.

By the time that Goddess Born takes place, the two worlds have combined. The current King of the human world is married to the current Queen of the magical world. Their counsels have basically combined, but due to the fact that magic is meant to be kept secret from those that are not magical, there are things that cannot be handled by the King and his counsel and must be handled by the Queen.

                    Religion

The people on the world of Tespion of polytheists. It is the common belief that the world was created by the gods, to give a handful of bored gods something to do.

In Calypto, there is a hierarchy of gods. We have the Mother of All (Neasa) and the Father of All (Asher). As their very uncreative titles indicate, they are the creators of the gods themselves. The gods of the gods.

After the MOA and FOA we have a wide range of gods that are gods of different things. There are Fates similar to the Moirai of Greek Mythology. Certain groups of people have gods that usually represent them, usually a man and a woman. I’ll probably go into more depth of my existing pantheon at a later date.

These gods have set forth rules that the people must follow (for example, it is against the will of the gods to reveal the truth of magic if the person doesn’t have magic themselves).

As for practitioners, there is one major religion with different sects.

The Dallian religion is one in which the practitioners honor the gods in their life. Whether that means they honor one god or all gods. As long as the honor the rules of the gods, and don’t bring harm to others, the religion is free to interpretation of the individual. Granted there are sects of the religion (one of which is one of the main antagonists of Goddess Born) that work on the shadier ends of the spectrum.

Another key element of the Dallian religion is that the members go through markings. Something that makes them easily recognizable. Deep blue markings are made to the body (tattoo style) throughout a person’s life, made by a priest or priestess during a ritual. These are made during different milestones of a person’s life.

For those that do not follow the Dallian religion, the belief in the gods is a pretty common thing in the world. Those characters that I have now that aren’t Dallian mostly just accept the existence of the gods and honor them and their rules. For example, the Felidae honor the gods and the rules of the gods through hunts on the full moon in their animal form.

                    People and Races



The biggest thing here that I want to comment on is that in the world of Goddess Born, there is two big differences between the people of Tespion: those with magic and those without.

Though through the story I do hint at there being different magical races, the story itself is focused on one specific magical race which is the Felidae. The Felidae are children bound to the moon – lycanthropes that have the ability to transform into a variety of different big cats (lions, tigers, leopards, etc.). Their changes (or Shifts as I call it in the book) is tied to the moon to honor the gods. These Shifts began as punishment because of them breaking the rules of the gods long before any current memories.

                    Magic!

So, magic is a god given gift. Certain gods created certain people, some of those gods bestowed magical abilities to their people. Magic is something kept secret from those that do not have it or have not been initiated into the magical world. Magic being secret is a will/rule of the gods due to the misuse of magic at a different point in history.

Magic is a big part of the story that Goddess Born is focused around. The use and misuse, the control. In this world, magic takes a toll on the body, you have to have the mental capacity and energy to use it. If you push too far, you’ll be faced with consequences that could cost you your life.

Like I mentioned above, there are magical races. There are some gifts that certain people have, and some that aren’t available to them. Most magic is ritualistic in the books, there are steps to needed to accomplish the different spells and abilities. Though some are internal and only need certain environments to cause them to happen.

For example, the Felidae. They are required to shift forms at least every time there is a full moon. Though there are some that only do it at those times, there are others that change at other times as well.

The goal of the magic in this world is that you must understand the limitations of your body and energy to truly master your magic.

As you can see, there are a variety of different points of interest that are good to determine with worldbuilding. For each story, the level of information you may need fully depends on your story and how much backstory is necessary to build it up to develop a good idea.

How much worldbuilding do you do for your own stories?

“Be Stubborn About Your Goals and Flexible About Your Methods”

Let’s talk about goals everyone.

Until about 5 years ago or so, whenever I sat down and wrote it was with the attitude of “I’ll get to it when I get to it.” I didn’t have plans, didn’t really have any push to accomplishing anything in any reasonable amount of time. It was a hobby, a passion. Something to do because I couldn’t do anything else.

I didn’t understand the world of the writer. At that time, writers were those idols that I would have really loved to be but I had never looked into what it took to be a writer or author. I had no idea what the process was to get published, didn’t know what agents were or what the big deal was about them. Basically I was ignorant. That newbie hobbyist that thought it would be easy, not work.

I had a reality check about five years ago – conveniently from my husband when he wanted to know what I was doing with my life, he didn’t like to see me floundering – and I finally looked into this passion of mine to see what it took to be successful.

It takes work. A lot of work.

I realized I needed to spend time learning my craft, learning the way things work in the industry. I needed to write more and more often. I needed to set goals for myself to keep myself going.

I’ve always been a fan of to-do lists. They help to get and keep me centered. They help me set and reach my goals. Things to accomplish with an – hopefully – attainable time frame. Flexibility is key, as the quote in my title suggests. Life can get in the way, there isn’t much to do about that even if you plan for it. Things happen to derail the plans you make. There are also things that happen to make things easier to accomplish.

There is another quote I like that I found on goals: “It will hurt. It will take time. It will require dedication. It will require willpower. You will need to make healthy decisions. It requires sacrifice. You will need to push your body to its max. There will be temptation. But, I promise you, when you reach your goal, it’s worth it.

I almost think this may be more geared toward someone setting weight loss goals, just based on the wording, but I think it fits very well with any goal.

Some goals hurt, in the doing and the accomplishing. You’ve got to reach for the stars and push yourself through your comfort zone so we to reach them.

Dedicate yourself to your goals. Make dreams worth accomplishing and then sit back and learn what it takes to get there. Dedicate your life to making your dreams come true.

Willpower. Push yourself. Start easy and add the difficult. Where there is a will there is a way.

Sacrifice. Look into yourself and determine what is and isn’t worth sacrificing to reach your goals. Give up watching one TV show so you can get an hour of writing in? Not to hard. Giving up a major family event? Definitely harder.

Will it be worth it in the end? I would say yes. Dreams and goals are amazing things. They can change as we change. You’ve got to decide if it’s worth it to you.

So, my goals.

Like I said before, to-do lists are my starting. With all the outlining I have been doing, I’ve also been putting together to-do lists for each story as well. This gives me an idea of the things I need accomplish and the best order to accomplish them in.

Some things I get done quicker than others, some take longer. I also try to make sure that I have several different things that I can be working on because if I get stuck on one thing, I don’t want to just sit idly by waiting for inspiration to come.

For this post I wanted to give you some examples of the types goals I have. Here are some of the goals that I want to try and accomplish in 2016 (do I dare call them resolutions?):

• Get at least one additional full length novel first draft finished. I would love to say I want to get more than one, but I know my limits and life, so I will set low and reach for the stars.

• Start a schedule for blogging that gives me breathing room – I’ll shoot for at least one post a week, but would love to get to maybe a Monday, Wednesday and Friday routine. I need to find something that can keep me going on this. My problem is I get excited but run out of ideas.

• Determine an actual accomplishable word count goal for each week. Daily would be pushing it due to full time job requirements. Try to set aside a chunk of time to devote to writing.

• Get together a list of possible agents and start querying Goddess Born.

• Get my writing space re-organized and make sure it stays devoted to writing. It kind of got overwhelmed by other life stuff over the last couple years.

All of these things are totally easily accomplished. I just have 10 months to get that done!

What are some of the goals that you set for yourself?