Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home1/lavender/public_html/lshelby/Utilities/functions.php on line 5
L. Shelby - Ialfa Fantasy World - All News Categories

Featured Page

Borgim

Learn about the inhabitants of the Coral Palace.

Ialfa Fantasy World News

DragonFlyWriteDone!

The first draft of Lioness is finished. All ~140 000 words of it. (Long one!)

…It may possibly be the messiest first draft I’ve ever done, but I don’t care. For the first time since I started writing it in — as close as I can figure — March of 2010, it has not only a beginning but also a middle and an end. So I’m heading off to celebrate. :)

More itty-bitty images

So last week I finished working on the sewing project I was doing for my friend Yoon Ha Lee, and this week I was supposed to be working on Lioness, a story set in the same world as Cantata and Pavane, but on the other side of the continent, (and with a more adventurous plot — also, a heroine who weaves and makes lace: and it is very challenging to weave and make lace while simultaneously being the protagonist of an adventure story, let me tell you!) I started it five years ago, but it got sidelined by Across a Jade Sea.

Anyway, I haven’t managed to get Lioness going again yet. What happened instead, was that I made twelve new sprites for that video game that’s based on my world. (Okay, so it’s a user-made-content expansion to an open-source computer game. Close enough.) My programmer is ecstatic. He’s been being very patient over this business with me publishing books and therefore needing covers for them, and how that was absorbing all my artistic oomph. But, we had almost finished replacing all the placeholder art, and now it looks like we’ll finally get there! (If I counted correctly, only 9 sprites left to go.)

So, here are some (very tiny) “Westlanders” (mentioned very, very briefly in Cantata and Pavane):

Another thing I did this week was make an ebook version of my pulp sf “romp” Eyes of Infistar, for my publisher to look over and decide if that’s going to be our next release. It’s got strange planets, a mysterious alien artifact, primitive temples, space pirates, plus an empath, an intelligent blue ape, and a political/economic entity that calls itself a galactic empire. And lots of action scenes. I even have a sequel written, although not edited. (Editing the sequel was another project that got pushed aside when Across a Jade Sea attacked me.)

But I have said very decidedly that I am NOT doing any more covers right now, so if he wants to release it this year, he’ll need to find a different cover artist.

LiesCoverPillarsVelvet Lies

Velvet Lies is a novella that shares a setting with my fantasy novels Cantata in Coral and Ivory, and Pavane and Pearl and Emerald. It is free on amazon for the kindle for the next few days. Plot-wise it’s a murder mystery: no fantasy elements at all except for the non-earth setting. But it’s really more about exploring a culture*, and people making (hopefully) witty remarks, than it is about catching crooks.

For my ad on Goodreads, I used the tagline: A comedy of murder and manners. I don’t know that it’s actually all that funny — more snicker-ific than LOL — but oh, well. My publisher wanted the “You mean the man’s own servants won’t say who killed him because it wouldn’t be polite?” quote, and that was the best I could do with the limited space remaining.

*Since the culture being explored is an imaginary one, yes does pass the “does this book actually need to be fantasy/sf?” test, even with the complete lack of expected fantasy elements.

PavaneCoverPaintingEWhat I did for my birthday…

I published another book.

Yeah, yeah, I know normal people have a party on their birthday. Since when was I normal? But I did go out to dinner.

Many thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday!

Except my Wii. It claimed I was 20 two weeks before my birthday, but just as my birthday was approaching it changed its mind and decided I was 54. Bad Wii. No cookie.

LiesCoverPillarsThat Time of the Year

I think I’m supposed to be saying something Christmasy right now. So Happy Holidays everyone!

We don’t do a lot of celebrating at our house, just because we’re not into making a big fuss. But I always enjoy having my family around and getting to spend time with them, and the presents are appreciated and all the Christmas chocolates fully enjoyed. :)

It’s also the end of the year, so I am desperately trying to finish everything I hoped to get done this year, and, as usual, failing. But here’s one thing off the list: Velvet Lies, a Coral Palace murder mystery novella is now available for the kindle at Amazon.

(You can only get it at Amazon right now, because we decided to try some of their exclusive programs and see what we thought of them. In three months we will start making it available elsewhere. In the meantime if you are a member of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program you can read it for free.)

In the meantime, my health slump continues, and now with a traditional Christmas cold on top of everything, I am once again reduced to playing boardgames while lying down in bed instead of sitting up at a table. ::grumble::

But I am still taking regular walks, and will get back to a more extensive exercise program as soon as I can! (Mood: determined)

CantataCoverEThe Making of Cantata, Part Two – The World

Cantata in Coral and Ivory is set on a world named Ialfa, which I had originally intended to be used for fairytale retellings, or fairytale-like stories. But I thought I wanted to do tales that featured a slightly more… er… sophisticated grasp of politics than ones where kings arbitrarily pass the rulership down to whichever of their sons brings back the golden fish, or where princes can get away with marrying kitchen maids just because they happen to have the smallest foot in the kingdom. I wanted the romance and the magic (and the happy endings!) but set against a richer, more realistic cultural backdrop.

Because of that, I had two main interests when I started working on this world: the creation of an elaborate historical background, and a magic system that had an organic feel to it.

I didn’t actually have a specific story in mind yet, just those two goals. So started on a very large scale. I created a solar system, and a world geography. Then I started mapping the rise and fall of nations, and worked out what exactly magic was here, and how it accomplished things. This established the “rules” of the world. But everything I knew was very general and grand and sweeping, and it wasn’t until I decided that I wanted to actually write a story in this world that I started to think on a smaller scale about what it might be like to live there.

The spot I rather arbitrarily decided was the location of my first story, turned out to be on the equator of a continent roughly the size and geographic position of Africa. So I started reading about Africa, as well as other tropical locations and civilizations—feeding the fabulator. The large-scale rules I had already established by creating my geography guided my search for smaller details, which then ballooned back out to large-scale rules again.

If the most common form of agriculture in my target climate is slash and burn, then what sort of civilization would emerge from that base? Would they have money? What would their religion be like? How about their courts and palaces?

One book I checked out of the library commented that Africa was home to the greatest variety of very large mammals still in existence, but that giant mammals used to roam all parts of the world. Africa’s abundance is merely because, for some as yet unknown reason, more large species survived extinction there. “What,” I asked myself, “would my world be like if I reversed that trend? What if this continent I was working with wasn’t the place where the most giants survived extinction, but the place where the fewest did? Then, if I had elephants, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses and giraffes here, what did that mean the rest of the world would look like?”

My world was gradually gaining depth. And although it didn’t look anything at all like what you’d expect from the word “fairytale”, it did have cultural richness, plenty of room for romance, and some nicely understated magic. Most importantly, it had achieved a unique personality all of its own, and was coming to life.

It became so much alive, in fact, that it did what most authors complain that their characters do.

My setting developed a mind of its own, and completely took over the story.

horoscopeCoral Palace Horoscopes

This might amuse people who have read Cantata or Pavane. (And maybe even those that haven’t.)

I have a webpage that will do you up a horoscope Coral Palace style. Now with a fancy image showing your birth signs and the current state of the skies that displays if you tell the page your birthdate.

Please be aware that the advice of the Coral Palace astrologers comes without any warrantee express or implied.

CantataCoverEThe Making of Cantata, Part One – The Concept

I don’t know exactly when I started writing Cantata in Coral and Ivory, but it was over twelve years ago. At the time I had been writing seriously for publication for several years, and had made a couple pro sales: a short story and an article in an RPG magazine. I had also finished three novels, needed a new project, and was in the mood to write a regency. (I’m a Georgette Heyer fan). But I’d learned enough about the publishing industry by then to realize that if I continued jumping genres like I had been, I was going to make a lot of extra work for myself—particularly in the area of market research. And market research is borrring!

After some thought, I decided that if I was going to specialize in one genre only, it should probably be Fantasy and Science Fiction, because I loved worldbuilding so much. But there was no rule I knew of that said a fantasy book couldn’t have a romantic comedy-of-manners feel to it. And, I had even recently started building a shiny new fantasy world to do fairytale retellings in. Fairytales and comedy-of-manners sounded like a great combination. There was just one little irregularity…

When I made the geography of the world, I had done so by randomly smashing tectonic plates together. And it wasn’t until I had started building a basic “history of civilization” for it that I realized that the continent I had chosen to have my people moving about on and fighting over was approximately the same size and geographic position as Africa.

Comedy-of-manners fairytales in pseudo-Africa?

Why not?

So that became the plan: to write something mannerly, witty, fun and romantic, with a fairytale plot and an exotic African-inspired setting.

Better with Camels

I’ve finished the last of the art for the faction I was working on. These final few took the longest, but were also the most fun to do. Camelriders and rocs. :)

I’ve still got a couple special units to do for the campaign that my game developer has been working on, and maybe a few more tweaks and fixes. Then I can move on to the last faction.

Author's Note on Ialfa

There is a scene in the movie Slipper and the Rose, in which the Chamberlain explains a few political realities to Cinderella. 'It is not possible that the king give his consent to this marriage'. I loved that scene, and wanted to build a world where I could set romantic fairy tale style stories against a background of reasonably realistic political and cultural situations. But sometimes when you start work on a creative endeavor you discover that it seems to take on a mind of its own.

I decided to create continents by randomly smashing tectonic plates up against each other, and when it came time to start peopling my world, I ended up placing my 'reasonably realistic political and cultural situations' on a landmass the same approximate size and location as our world's Africa. The fairy tale romances I wished to tell became exotic tales of tropical splendor and intrigue.


 
Feedback on Cantata in Coral and Ivory
 
'...I found I was smiling in delight...'
 
-- A Critter
 
 
Copyright © Michelle Bottorff

Email mbottorff at lshelby period com