She Will Become gets a new first chapter!

Hello dear, patient readers. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Where have I been, you ask? I’ll tell you! Back in May 2015, I finally got the manuscript for She Will Become back from my editor. After some polishing and editing, … Continue reading

Exploring Richelle Daeras

In the fourth installment of character profiles all of you wonderfully patient readers finally get to learn more about Making Patterns’ antagonist, Richelle Daeras. I know I promised to deliver this post a few weeks ago however, Richelle has been … Continue reading

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The World of Abiniam

Map of Abiniam

My hand drawn map of Abiniam.
Click the picture to see a larger version.

After writing Confessions of a Lazy Writer I decided it was time to get down to business in world-building. I’ve talked about this world at some length in my character profiles (Nyra, Astrid and Tullio) for Making Patterns. My original hand drawn, 8×11 map was just a crude outline of relative geographies. As the plot for Making Patterns grew so too did the need for identifying more specific places on the map other than those mentioned in the text of She Will Become. (seen at left).

 

 

 

 

The provinces/duchys of the Western Ways

The provinces of the Western Ways

The first thing I did was divide  The Western Ways up into provinces. (seen at right)

From there I had to invent a cast of Nobility to control these provinces and figure out who among are allies and who are enemies, and why. I even used a nifty website called My Blazon to design family blazons and shields. (This was pretty fun actually, I may post some as the weeks and months progress).

 

 

 

Of course, once I marked out the boundaries I realized I was running out of room to add new landmarks, locations of cities and castles. So, as a typical American, I immediately thought “BIGGER IS BETTER!” A trip to the store and .33 later, I was the proud owner of a blank poster board just waiting to be etched with a bigger map offering the requisite space.

 

Abiniam's landmass, ocean and waterways in large scale.  Click for a larger view.

Abiniam’s landmass, ocean and waterways in large scale.
Click for a larger view.

I put down the first layer in outline, ocean and waterways. Since I didn’t do a transfer graph for relational sizing some of the coast line changed shape just a smidgen but that comes with going at it free hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two more days of progressive work saw the northern parts of The Western ways gain shape and texture. I’m rather proud of the outcome.

The Western Ways gain shape and texture.  Click for a larger view.

The Western Ways gain shape and texture.
Click for a larger view.

 

And here we have a close up of all my hard work in blended color pencil.

A close up of the northern half of The Western Ways.  Click for a larger view.

A close up of the northern half of The Western Ways.
Click for a larger view.

 

Being able to draw the world in my head (my second, imaginary home) has given me a chance to think about Abiniam in ways entirely different from what’s requires for writing. As I draw in the mountains and rivers, forests and plains I imagine the people who actually live in these places.

The people of the East Remunds are a harsh folk accommodated and accustomed to life in the mainly inhospitable climes of the treacherous crags to the north; the West Remunds are a tamer bunch. Easterners bear a rugged, swarthy complexion with the wild red hair of a massive warrior clan. Westerners are much fairer complected with very light blond hair and blue eyes and are known more for their farming and trading.

The Ostian River Plains are the font of the Ostian religion. Populated by highly devout, strict traditionalists after the words of the Ostian prophet, Amryllion, the Ostian River Plains provides much of the realm’s food supplies as well as materials for fabrics. Sporting a complexion cousin to those in the Eastern Remunds, those people in the Ostian River Plains tend to be sun-bronzed with darker hair and eyes.

Because the Remunds and the Ostian River Plains are so far from Abiniam’s ruling seat at Castle Westphalia in mid-WW, and even farther from the real capital, Quoral, on the west coast, these people don’t adhere to the same style of dress or hierarchical structure. They recognize the crown’s and the church’s authority but don’t play into the manipulations, drama and intrigue of southern culture. In the Remunds there are no official Lords or Ladies, or titles of fealty beyond clan alliances.

The north and easternmost provinces of Fihan, Vidus, Kocien and Adavia abide by the same hierarchical structures as the rest of The Western Ways but try not to become engaged in realm politics.

The further south we progress we run into the provinces of Naenad and Ainsberry, both fertile, forested lands ruled by Duchess and Duke, respectively. Naenaders are inland farmers and hunters, renowned for their woodworking skills. Some of the best hunters come from Naenad. Like their northern cousins, Naenaders are of lighter complexion but with more darker-haired folk than blonds. Those in Ainsberry are also traditionalists in farming and hunting but also have a stronger pull toward politics and warfare. Closely aligned with House Westphalia and thus the crown, Ainsberry is one of the Upper Peerage.

The provinces of Westphalia and Windlam sit smack dab in the middle of the country, the two provinces abutting. Westphalia houses Castle Westphalia, seat of the crown and the Ostian Church. Castle Westphalia is actually built around the Ostian Church’s first Sanctuary, or Rome’s equal. This is also where the main plot of She Will Become takes place.

Due to its size and number of members filling the lower nobility, Windlam actually serves as a buffer between Westphalia and the province of Dasir, whose ruling family was once a contender for the crown. Primarily a farming province, Windlam is home to She Will Become’s sibling duo, Gwyneth and Endecai, who hail from the farming village of Lysandra. Windlam’s capital seat is at Castle Endemere, a provincial castle built atop a butting mountain next to the realm’s largest waterfall. Most of these folks are red-heads, brunettes, and darker blonds. This is also the area thickest with political morass.

I’ll be adding more geographical detail and content to the map as the days go by. In my next post I’ll likely talk a bit more about the provinces of Galywen, Dasir and Amontis (a most important province in relation the crown and its 300 Year War, aspects of She Will Become’s plot), as well as the southernmost provinces of Jeralen, Elares, Alalen, Trelawen and Graeves.

That’s it for today’s post! Thanks for reading! Check back to the Inkspot or your email (for all you lovely subscribers) for more updates!

Confessions of a Lazy Writer

I’ve been stalled lately in continuing work on Making Patterns. It’s not a lack of desire to work on it but rather an intuitive feeling that this story, as I’ve written it thus far, is missing some key elements. The last … Continue reading

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Exploring Tullio Sellet

Following in the vein of creating character profiles for the cast of Making Patterns, today I introduce yet another character, Tullio Sellet.

First mentioned in Nyra’s character profile Tullio is Nyra’s life long best friend and husband of ten years, sometimes conscience and full time partner in their lavender marriage. However, Tullio as a man and stand alone character is a force unto himself, with motivations and aspirations as meaningful as Nyra’s or Astrid’s and just as integral to the overall plot.

Without further ado I present the character profile for Making Patterns‘ Tullio Sellet.

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A Portrait of Tullio Sellet

Tullio started out as just a name given to Nyra’s absent husband in She Will Become. It wasn’t until Making Patterns developed that he took on a life and personality of his own.

Patrick Dempsey hair

Patrick Dempsey hair

When I imagine Nyra’s best friend and husband I see a swarthy, ruggedly good looking man with a head of thick brown wavy curls (kind of like Patrick Dempsey’s Derrick Sheppard on Grey’s Anatomy), keen and engaging yet also mysterious and sultry dark eyes and plenty of scruff to go around.

Jake Gyllenhaal brings Tullio to life

Jake Gyllenhaal brings Tullio to life

Tullio is a physical combination of Patrick Dempsey and Jake Gyllenhaal who is stunningly handsome in his own right.

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What man or woman wouldn’t pivot their eyes to such gorgeous physique?

Pictured above, Jake Gyllenhaal in his role as Prince of Persia displays a physique most similar to Tullio’s. Standing at roughly 6’2″ with broad shoulders, narrow hips and delectable cording of his entire body, Tullio is well aware of his physical appearance. While not vain in the sense that he is conceited, Tullio’s chosen profession of a tailor means that he always dresses to catch the eye. After all he is a walking display of his own wares and talents.

 

A Little Background Information

Age twenty eight, Tullio is the only son of base born immigrants hailing from the north-westernmost Ostian River Plains which lay outside the kingdom’s borders. His family worked in fabrics – creating, dying, manufacturing. Clothing is in his blood.

Tullio’s father died when he was in adolescence leaving their family poor and almost destitute. His father’s dreams of setting up a profitable business in Quoral, the rich eastern trading hub of the Western Ways proved unfortunate. Quoral and the Western Ways wanted nothing to do with his fabrics deeming them too foreign and therefore unworthy of their coin.

Tullio’s mother wanted him to take the mantle of the family business but Tullio refused. He saw how hard his father worked and brought in so little. He wanted none of the stress or responsibility, instead choosing to set out on his own in pursuit of a patron who would invest in his skill and support his aspirations.

Tullio and Nyra grew up as best friends, their families living in the same tenements a thousand other starving families occupied in a section of Quoral known as Lower Bay. Their love of the industry and one another’s talents drew them together as early teens. Gradually their relationship deepened into implicit trust when first Nyra confided her yearning and attraction for the same-sex. He in turn, honored by her trust, reciprocated in kind confessing to her what he considers his most sinful secret – his homosexuality.

Tullio and Nyra married at ages eighteen and nineteen respectively, having decided the safety of a false marriage was preferable to a life of constant worry and fear of discovery by the Rabani. Although not a sexual marriage there is a strong emotional bond between the two; they protect one another out of genuine love. Each free to pursue what lovers they choose so long as they are safe and never bring their partners home, Tullio and Nyra enjoy a blissful marriage until Nyra meets Astrid.

 

Stewarding His Eternal Soul

As the font of the Ostian River which gives life to most of the land known officially as The Western Tor; informally as The Western Ways, the Ostian river plains are a fertile land that hosts a people most devout to the god of their creation, Ost. His Word gave birth to the world’s most providing life source; His generosity fashioned the land from which they earn their sustenance and living. Strict religious and spiritual adherence is a strong foundation of their communities and social structure. Conformity requisite, tradition revered.

Although born after his parents immigrated to Quoral (and perhaps because of it) Tullio grew up observing strict attendance to a religion that ruled his life in a surfeit of ways. His parents were zealous believers, superstitious and fearful of condemnation while eternally praising His generosity. Their fervent belief system carried over to Tullio instilling in him a healthy respect for his Creator’s dual sides of benevolence and wrath.

His faith endured during and after his father’s death when Tullio was in late childhood. He felt it wasn’t his place to question the will of Ost in claiming his father for His divine realm. However, as he grew into a youth he did resent the responsibility it placed upon him and his mother in subsisting in a city that did not readily welcome their kind.

Once puberty began changing Tullio’s body, introducing hormones and serving to shape the beginnings of his adult identity, Tullio’s faith became a source of anguish for him. Believing Ost made no mistakes in creating His children in His image, the surfacing of abnormal attractions toward other boys and men within Tullio sent him into a emotional whirlwind of questioning doubts. Never once had his heart wavered in conviction or devotion to Ost. How then had such aberrant sin invaded him?

The only logical answer he surmises is that his conviction is constantly being tested.  There are stories in the Enchiridion (the Ostian Bible) of Ost choosing from among His children those whom He believes will withstand every assault to their faith He can give them. Determined to keep his soul sanctified and scourge his flesh of the sinful lust for other men Tullio becomes supremely aware of his thoughts, feelings and behavior.

He wages war with his desires in his early teens, sometimes going so far as to perjure himself in confessional seeking the scourge of the lash in penance for some fabricated sin in true punishment for the secret sin he will only confess to Ost in his private prayers. As devout as he is, Tullio greatly fear the wrath of the Rabani and the Hareshen, the strong right arm of the Ostian church who enact punishment of the most dire and mortal sins.

At age sixteen he meets a boy who inexplicably captures Tullio’s heart. Unable to resist the youthful tugging of his heart Tullio surrenders to his physical desires. The affair ends disastrously, with the boy being discovered mid coitus with another young man. The two offenders are quickly taken into captivity, sentenced to public Purification and burned so in the public square, giving Tullio even more reason to fear the Rabani.

Now convinced he cannot fight the tides of his heart or the surges of his libido Tullio turns his mind to finding ways to keep his activities from discovery while fearing for his eternal soul. Inspired by Nyra’s implicit trust in him, expressed in a recent confession of homosexual feelings of her own, Tullio confesses his secret to her. Her natural tendency to scoff at his spiritual devotion was once a sore spot between them but the sharing of this secret between them now gives him new appreciation for her fearlessness and skepticism. Inspired by her unwavering acceptance of her difference from other women Tullio applies his knowledge of religious scripture and commandments in weaving what he believes will be the perfect scenario for both of them to live out the remainders of their lives in relative safety and happiness – a marriage of convenience.

However, the marriage serves more than one purpose for him. While ensuring the Rabani will least suspect a man lawfully and spiritually wedded to a woman, this marriage is also a concession toward salving his wounded belief system. He hopes the marriage will gain him a measure of divine forgiveness when his time comes to stand under Ost’s almighty judgment.

To protect the disguise their marriage represents Tullio is adamantly insistent on conducting any love affairs as far away from their marital home as possible and with as little connection to and/or involvement of their spouses as possible. If a relationship places their marriage and the safety it provides at risk it is ended and swiftly. Tullio’s fear of the Rabani and Ost’s wrath gives him absolutely no tolerance for such risks and as such he will do whatever is necessary to protect himself including turning his back on his closest and oldest friend.

Everybody’s Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp Dressed Man

Enriched with an upbringing in fabrics and how to work with them Tullio has a unique design style that defies his social status, garnering him prodigious attention on the back of his naturally outgoing personality and effusive charm. Having seen the family business wear his father down to the grave Tullio is quick to abandon any attempt to continue his father’s legacy. Instead, once he comes of age and after his marriage to Nyra, he sets about on a quest for personal patronage.

While no one expresses overt or discreet interest in permanently supporting his work, Tullio receives frequent commissions to design attire for public events and the like. He has absolutely no interest in conducting a personal business as Nyra does. Content to allow Nyra the freedom of earning her income as she pleases, he does rue the fact that his contribution to their financial status is at best infrequent, at worst completely lacking.

At the opening of Making Patterns Tullio has just secured a patronage with the new Duke of Dasir, Lord Atamos Ories, in the commission of a summer wardrobe and the official approval of Lady Sula, a rare feat for someone of his social standing. However, this patronage also comes with romantic possibilities with Lord Ories delivering the last promise of support after a rousing intimate session between the two men.  Complicating the personal aspects of their relationship is Lord Ories’ betrothal to Lady Sula Westphalia, King Reese’s cousin and only remaining blood kin who sits in rule of Quoral and the duchy surrounding it.

This complication is slight compared to the professional impact of Nyra’s growing relationship with Astrid upon his professional and social world. Made aware of Astrid’s patroness Tullio is immediately on guard, cautioning Nyra to slow down and to tread carefully. Richelle Daeras is not a woman whose bad side you want to be on. Moving in social circles that Nyra does not gives him insight into a broader world. Richelle’s reputation in being fiercely jealous and protective of her protege Astrid is well-known among their peers who are mainly denizens of the artisan’s district.

He never expects his relationship with Atamos Ories to collide with Nyra and Astrid’s but when it does Tullio’s entire world is cast into chaos. His relationship with Nyra may never be the same, if it survives at all. Caught in the crossfire of a war Nyra is oblivious to having started by capturing Astrid’s focus and raising Richelle Daeras’ ire, and faced with losing his good name and reputation with the Duke’s personal and professional graces, Tullio shifts into instinctive self-preservation mode. His choices and motives become intensely self-centered and he begins to lose sight of what is right and wrong in the tangle of his fears. Questioning his choices in all relationships in his life, he becomes willing to pay whatever cost necessary to avoid Ost’s earthly condemnation issued through His Rabani even if it means giving them Nyra to throw off the scent.

Degrees of Separation

 Tullio’s relationship with the Duke provides the connections that propel the plot of Making Patterns, inadvertently fueling the war between Nyra and Richelle over Astrid. As a member of Abiniam’s Peerage the Duke has many connections among Abiniam’s upper level and his inheritance of the dukedom opens up the field to Quoral’s struggling artisans. He presents a real threat to Richelle who mistakenly comes to blame a suspected love affair with Tullio for Astrid’s sudden demands for freedom.

Richelle’s jealous machinations drive Tullio’s downfall and later change of personality. However, they also serve to bring Nyra into direct contact with the Duke who is residing at court with Lady Sula. This meeting brings about a multitude of new, unexpected connections both in the Peerage and, miraculously, in the Church that heavily influence the course of everyone’s lives for the good and ill and deliver everyone to their final outcomes and destinations.

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This concludes our insider peek at the character of Tullio Sellet. As you can hopefully tell Tullio is a pretty important guy to the overall plot. If you want to find out exactly how you’ll need to read the book! 😉

As always, if anything in Tullio’s profile piqued your interest and sparked some thoughts I’d love to hear them and discuss. Feedback is always welcome.

Stay tuned for the next character profile starring the devious mistress of subterfuge Richelle Daeras, to be posted in the coming weeks!

Exploring Astrid Ferelin

Since Making Patterns‘ main character Nyra Sellet has her own character profile it is only right that her paramour receive one as well. As with Nyra I’ve “known” Astrid for a few years now but only as a vague figure … Continue reading

Exploring Nyra Sellet

I post a lot on my Facebook Page about the various projects I’m working on and the progress I’m making with them. A few days ago I realized I talk about my stories and characters from an author’s perspective. I … Continue reading

Favorite Making Patterns excerpt

The masses have responded! In honor of my Facebook Author Page reaching 500 likes I am sharing an excerpt of my current work-in-progress, Making Patterns. An erotic romance featuring seamstress Nyra Sellet and her paramour Astrid Ferelin, Making Patterns takes us deeper into the world of Abiniam (the setting for my other novel She Will Become in which these two characters are first introduced) in the years prior to Nyra’s appointment to Court Clothier under King Reese Westphalia. This story explores how Nyra and Astrid met, fell in love, and came to the positions they hold in She Will Become.

Without further ado I give you the promised excerpt from Making Patterns.

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Astrid made Nyra wait in the front room of her shop while she dressed. The seamstress fidgeted anxiously, straightening her mannequins and adjusting the clothing they displayed although they didn’t need the attention. She kept a keen ear out for any sounds of difficulty or distress but heard nothing from the other room. Alternating between worrying over Astrid’s opinion of her work and awareness that the girl was in some tantalizing state of undress only feet away, Nyra’s mind was a whirlwind of conflicting thought.

It had taken her only four days of designing and choosing fabrics before she began work, having taken Astrid’s measurements that same afternoon of the proposal. The session had been a challenge to her professionalism and creative drive. Astrid had smelled of hot sun and sweat intermixed with the sweet aromas of cream and berries rising off her skin and from her hair; a heady combination that set hunger blazing through Nyra’s limbs. She had been hard pressed not to turn her knotted strings into tools of foreplay, constantly reminding herself to count the knots and take the string away lest her fingers linger too long in one area or stray beyond the lines that needed accounting.

The most difficult moment of all had been in taking the measurements for Astrid’s inseams, needing to place the end of her string in sensitive and as yet unexplored areas. Nyra had felt the girl’s pulse leap as she’d pressed the string along the length of Astrid’s inner thigh, inches away from her center. Her knuckles were basted in rolling waves of moist heat and her head spun as desire made her dizzy.

Feeling Astrid’s trembling and hearing her sudden ragged breathing had only made it worse. She’d wavered, achingly tempted to simply shift her hand upward into the yielding flesh visibly hungering for her touch and give the girl the rousing bout of lovemaking they were both craving. It was only the thought of Astrid garbed in a shirt, jacket and trousers of her design and made thoroughly Ahron that brought her back to her purpose. Taking care to keep her touches light and counting quick Nyra had made swift work of taking the rest of the girl’s measurements before finally giving in to the ardent need to taste and devour Astrid’s lips.

Now, a day ahead of schedule Astrid was donning the results of Nyra’s determination and talent. They had no plans to immediately set out, having agreed to stick with the original plan and lunch the following day against the backdrop of the ever present ocean as it pounded the shore and made Quoral the trade city it was. Today was for introduction and last minute adjustments or fixes. Yet Nyra was still apprehensive – what if Astrid didn’t like it? What if she was uncomfortable in the cut? She’d said she’d never worn trousers before. Would all her work be for naught, their outing canceled due to Nyra’s failures?

She fretted and fidgeted, twitching and pacing. Time stretched on endlessly or so it felt. The silence emanating from the other room was a double edged sword that bled Nyra of her anxiety. Without realizing it Nyra played with her hair, something she hadn’t done since she was a child full of nervous tendencies and tells. Twisting and twining her chestnut curls between her fingers in mindless repetition, she chewed her lip and resisted the urge yet again to call out to Astrid and beg comment.

Just when she thought she might go mad with the silent waiting the curtains separating the rooms parted as a figure stepped through them. An involuntary gasp escaped her when, for a dozen startling seconds, she didn’t recognize the person standing in front of her. Dressed in a smart brocade vest of luxurious brown against a vibrant bronze over a high collared indigo shirt, a strange man with familiar dusky blue eyes and fair eyebrows surveyed her from beneath the upturned brim of his hat. He stood with a slight swagger in the set of his narrow shoulders and angle of his hips, thighs long and muscled under a pair of mahogany trousers that bloused at the knees and tucked into calf length black boots.

Normally unaffected by a man’s body Nyra reeled with sudden and visceral sexual attraction. Her throat went tight, her mouth dry as paper. The rest of her body burst into flames and every ounce of liquid her mouth once held now flooded her core. A low growl of appreciation and hunger rumbled out of her.

The sound served to shatter the effect as the man’s expression shifted from remote interest to girlish delight. A jaw line once firm with stoic resolve softened as a pleased smile gushed forth. The swagger disappeared into a sudden feminine withdrawing, the imagined existence of external genitalia no longer an impetus for cocking the pelvis outward.

Ahron dissolved into Astrid so smoothly Nyra was shaken. Her face felt hot and her heart beat so hard she could both see and feel her pulse behind her eyes. Trying to speak availed her not. She could only stand and gape open mouthed, amazed, awed, and overwhelmingly aroused by what she just experienced.

“Did it work? Was I convincing?”

Black spots danced at the edges of Nyra’s vision, distracting her. She focused on them and realized she was holding her breath, having forgotten how to breathe. Sucking in heady gouts of air she tried again to speak but had no words, having forgotten everything but yes, yes, oh love, yes but her tongue felt foreign in her head, unwieldy and useless. But Astrid needed an answer so she did the only thing that felt right; she swept across the room and kissed Astrid. Her mouth opened under Nyra’s sudden onslaught and it was there in the humid cavern of Astrid’s waiting mouth that Nyra’s tongue remembered how to communicate.

You are stunning, she said in deep plunges that plumbed the back of Astrid’s throat and set their teeth cracking against each others.

I want you, I love you, I need you, she intoned licking at the insides of Astrid’s cheeks and dancing along her tongue teasingly.

I am yours for the taking, for mastery if you wish it, she confessed in long draughts that sucked Astrid’s tongue into her mouth.

Astrid’s arms came up to surround her and Nyra was crushed to a firm, flat chest. Her attention momentarily diverted to marveling at what felt like the complete erasure of Astrid’s feminine endowments, her fervent communications stuttered and then stopped as Astrid nudged her head aside to nuzzle and nip at her neck. A soft yet distinctly masculine growl washed over her tender, sensitive skin. The vibration traveled through her and touched something deep inside turning her innards to water and knees to jelly. She sagged into the crushing embrace and reveled at this unexpected side of Astrid – so confident and self assured in demanding the dominant role.

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If you’d like to read more of Making Patterns or get to know Nyra and Astrid better be sure to Follow my Facebook Page or this blog for more information on character profiles and possible further excerpts!

 

As always support your Indie authors by leaving feedback or a review! I would absolutely love to know your thoughts on this WIP or any of my other projects!