Star Child *

I have a friend (crazy, I know). Her name is Alex. Hi, Alex! *waves*. She has read my book, and she likes my book. This makes me happy, of course. Alex is a writer herself (a fantasy one, at that), and it is so lovely to have a friend who can share such things with you, who understands, and who actually knows what you’re talking about when you say ‘Sta’reghiime’, for example.

Do you know what that is? I highly doubt it.

It’s something in my book.

Which you would not know unless you have read it.

Funny how these things work…

A good while back, I was moaning to Alex about the languages I have created for my fantasy world. I wondered what possessed me to do three. Woeful. One language is simple enough, I suppose: that is Kurpian, the language of the Ilimoskus (my main language). The other two are… Well, one is the hardest thing in the world to pronounce/the biggest mouthful language going, and the other has the worst grammar. But who do I have to blame but myself? Why, Jenny? Whhyyyyyyyy? *falls upon knees and howls in despair*

But anyway. I was talking about my languages. Specifically Kurpian. Alex said that it would be cool to learn Kurpian (or something like that), to which I replied, “I’ll give you a lesson someday 😉

(An aside: The Kurpian language is traditionally a syllabic alphabet with limited logograms, which, in English, basically means there are symbols that represent syllables. There are always two symbols that make me smile, though, because “xu” looks like a smiley face with a massive nose, and “ly” looks like a man doing some funky dance. Behold: )

ohk

((An aside aside: Apparently one of the most ‘hated’ fantasy clichés is ‘Authors who go overboard in creating a ‘language’.‘ Oh, and also Anthropomorphism‘Non-human’ or sentient animal races that act, think, and socialise just like humans.’ Pffttt. Well, if that’s the case, AVOID my story at all costs. WARNING–WARNING–I tell you! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES LEST MY TERRIBLE, AMATEUR FANTASY STORY DEVOURS YOUR MIND INTO A STATE OF UTTER PARALYSIS FROM ITS SHEER ATROCITY TO THE FANTASY NAME. I love fantasy. Fantasy is my life. But I hate the fantasy ‘circle’ more than anything. It is the most critical, judgemental and contemptuous of all fandoms. Obviously, I’m not speaking for everyone here, but that’s the general vibe you get. Oh, and by the way, I actually have a very detailed explanation as to why my Ilimoskus are so humanoid, yet if I put such an explanation into my story I would be criticised for rabbiting on about information no one cares about, or for focusing too much on needless history as opposed to storyline. You can’t win, right? Which is why you should live your life true to yourself and write only from the heart. That’s my lesson for the day.))

So. There is a character in my book called Gnotsu Teeze (“NOTE-soo”, by the way – everyone pronounces it wrong). Gnotsu is the wise, wizened, wise man of the story. Obligatory in fantasy, no? A trope, not a cliché 😉 Though, if you ask me, he is more than just a wise elder: he is immensely powerful and mysterious – so much so that his kin do not even realise the extent of this. Gnotsu has dedicated the majority of his life guiding others in their greatest time of need – a carer and protector to all the sad hearts who come his way.

gnot-tt

This is a sketch I did of Gnotsu

Due to this, I often say, “Everyone needs a Gnotsu in their life.” We do. We really do. We all need a mentor to teach us the wonders of life, of nature, of the soul. Oft times I find myself pining for a Gnotsu conversation, to be before his exuding aura of perpetual wisdom *wistfully sighs*. But, it is precisely this teaching nature of Gnotsu’s that led me to write this post. Combining both things together (Alex and Kurpian), who better to consult than dear old Gnotsu?

And so, my friends, I share with you a fictional scenario between Alex and Gnotsu as she has a Kurpian lesson. Perhaps some context is required. Let’s just pretend that Alex woke up, drowsy and bewildered, thousands of miles away from home in an English wood which just so happened to be Kaxenff (that is, the home of Gnotsu). Gnotsu, being the compassionate soul he is, took Alex under his wing and taught her the ways of the Ilimoskus (and we shall ignore technicalities within the story itself, such as humans not being able to see Ilimoskus, but sshhhhhhhhh. Alex is special. She can see the Ilimoskus, ’cause I say so 😉 ).

(To people who do not know the story: There are going to be many strange words in this piece. I shall briefly explain them at the end. Strange words shall be underlined.)

Dear Alex, I know you could do with a Gnotsu conversation. I hope you enjoy this.

Love and light to you, x

***

Alex rushed through the holid, swerving past the kus coming her way as they gave her an array of curious looks. She was late.

She had not slept well, awaking before the dawn, and so she had decided to leave Gnotsu’s hohot and go for a quiet stroll through the woods. It was strange to be out in the Ilimoskus’ holid when it was so silent, so deserted, but she could not deny the sense of relief that filled her, for the lack of the foreign beings – kindly as they were – watching her every move meant she could dally and inspect to her heart’s content. She had absent-mindedly watched the sunlight burn the woodland in golden fire, beckoning the Flamikus to awaken, and, while sitting on a log near Idimis, observed kus undertaking their morning duties. She had not been here long, but she had already discerned just how diligent the Ilimoskus were. She had also discerned that they were seriously nosy, yet politely so, if that was at all possible; they forever peered inquisitively over her private doings, and she caught wind of gossip about her, such as, ‘She speaks very weirdly. Do you think she has something wrong with her?’ As gossip went, it was harmless enough, and she could hardly blame them – after all, she was as good as an alien to them, and she did speak very differently to them: her accent was Canadian, and theirs was a rather curious blend of English and… Kurpian? She supposed, were she with another human, she would be gossiping about them, too. It was only when some kus passed close by her, chattering away – and, of course, giving her a lengthy perusal – that she thought about their accent again. But then it suddenly hit her. She had agreed to have a Kurpian lesson with Gnotsu at first light. Dammit! She leapt up and darted away, giving all nearby eyes even more reason to look at her.

Once she had rushed back to his hohot, she saw that Gnotsu was waiting outside, his hands clasped together. Why did that make her feel so terrible? She continued to approach, now at a brisk walk, and Gnotsu spied her from a distance; he watched her every move with a placid expression, and when she was near he bestowed a warm smile.

“I-I’m sorry, Gnotsu!” Alex puffed, stopping before him. “I forgot!”

“Indeed you did. But then you remembered. Do not fret, Nieeb, for the recollection of our minds often fails us when our hearts are preoccupied with deeper things.”

“But… What deeper things?”

“You are new here,” he kindly replied. “This is a strange place to you, and you are in the process of adapting. Do not be hard on yourself.” He turned, holding back the door for her. “Come now, let us begin.”

She pulled a small but grateful smile and stepped inside. She saw that there were two wooden chairs – or, rather, stools – positioned to one side by the unlit fire, and so she headed over and sat on one, feeling much like she was back at school and about to take an exam. Ugh. Thank the gods the Ilimoskus did not have exams as she knew it.

Gnotsu wasted no time in getting down to business, as often was his way, and as he shut the door he spoke in his gentle, yet husky, voice, “If I were to say to you, ‘Ihmoiyon’, what would I be saying?”

“Oh, umm…” Alex sat contemplating, though she felt slightly bewildered after her rush and tried to rally her thoughts into some order. Ihmoiyon. She knew that. Come on, brain. WORK. “Err…”

Gnotsu smiled at her patent forgetfulness. “Shall I help you, Alix?”

She looked to the floor, thinking it would be better if Gnotsu did not see her trying to restrain her own smile. Alix. It did amuse her, how the Ilimoskus pronounced her name. “Uhh… Yeah, that would be really helpful, Gnotsu, thank you.” She looked back at him, having banished her smile for good.

“We greet one another this way in the morning,” he simply said.

“Oh!” she cried. Duh. It was so obvious now. “‘Good morning!'”

He dipped his head ever so slightly as his indication that she was correct, then moved closer to her, but still made the point to stand. “Now, I am going to speak to you in Kurpian, and you are going to tell me what I said in Akklun.”

“You mean English,” she automatically corrected, but then felt a wave of horror wash over her. Did she just imply Gnotsu was wrong about something? Could she be any more moronic? She had only been here a short while, yes, but she knew well enough that Gnotsu was considered the wisest elder in the holid, and no one dared to question him. Though, thankfully, Gnotsu was the most serene and forgiving kus she had met, and his eyes delicately smiled as he clasped his hands together.

“Lopa,” said he.

“…Hello,” she replied somewhat warily, for ‘lopa’ was the only Kurpian word she definitely knew, and all else he said would undoubtedly send her mind reeling.

“Yestana’asko-a Gnotsu od Teeze hon,” Gnotsu continued.

In Alex’s mind, the beginning of that utterance sounded like a complete load of babble, yet it was a particular strain of babble she recognised. She remembered Gnotsu teaching it to her before, and how she had fumbled over the syllables as if it were a tongue-twister. It did not help that Kurpian was spoken quite quickly.

“Every letter ‘a’ in the Kurpian language is short, without exception,” Gnotsu had said. “Like the ‘a’ in the Akklun word ‘apple’.

Alex tried to speak it once more. “Yes-tan-ahhhhs-ko…?” 

Gnotsu grinned, and then broke the sounds down slowly for her. “Yeh-stah-nah-AHSS-ko-ah.”

Alex sighed. “It’s a bit of a mouthful just to say, ‘My name is’, isn’t it?”

“My name is Gnotsu Teeze,” Alex repeated in English, having relived the memory of trying to speak that darn word, or phrase, or whatever it was.

“Yeestona’as-a pleh?”

“What is your name?”

“Very good,” said Gnotsu with a warm smile. “Now, Alix, I would like you to repeat that Kurpian question.”

Her heart plunged into her stomach. Oh, gods. “Err…” she paused briefly, trying to allow Gnotsu’s pronunciation to echo in her mind. “Yee-stoh-nah-AHSS-ah leh.”

“Valeciivie, Alix!” Gnotsu brightly praised. “Much better! Now, I shall speak in Akklun, and you shall repeat in Kurpian.”

Oh, GODS. Why? Resigning herself to what was sure to be the inevitable butchering of the wonderful, exotic Kurpian language, spoken from her stupid tongue, she softly sighed and nodded, noticing that she was pressing her lips together unusually firmly. Perhaps this was as bad as an exam, in its own, unique way.

“How are you?” Gnotsu asked.

Damn. Damn, damn, DAMN. In world-record fashion, she had already failed. She could never remember how to say ‘How are you?’ in Kurpian. Never. It was yet another mouthful phrase, and she remembered Gnotsu saying that there are actually two ways of asking this question: a formal way, and an informal way. Not that such a recollection mattered, because she could not remember either of them. She slapped her hands to her cheeks and pulled down at them. Why was Kurpian so difficult?

Gnotsu, observing Alex’s blatant struggle, calmly offered some assistance. “Do you remember that we focused on how to say it formally? Since you are not an Ilimoskus, and to appease the unsure minds of my kin, they would appreciate hearing the formal phrase from you. It goes, ‘Aa…’.” He paused, and a hopeful light glinted in the depths of his eyes that this would be enough of a recollection for her.

Alex sat, blankly staring. She feared that his hopeful light was soon to fade, since, even with his help, she could not remember. Though, from his helpful pointer, she remembered that the formal phrase did indeed contain the Kurpian diphthong ‘aa’. Oh, how she hated that diphthong. She could not pronounce it at all – at least not properly. It was the sound of a broad ‘a’, like ‘father’, but combined with this accursed rolled ‘r’ sound. It was like, ‘aaaaaaaRRR’, and she could not roll her tongue, no matter how hard she tried. She always sounded like a growling dog, or, if she did manage to roll her tongue properly, it went totally overboard and she sounded like a speed boat engine.

Gnotsu peered at her closely. “I sincerely hope you are not becoming stressed, Alix,” he judiciously spoke.

She shifted slightly in her seat. How did Gnotsu always manage to make you feel guilty about any emotion or thought you had just by looking at you with his dark, gentle eyes? “I… can’t remember, Gnotsu,” she muttered.

“No,” he said as if he already knew. “It is, ‘Aa-vickarvee pleh?’ Repeat it.”

ARR,” she tried to pronounce with all her might, though she knew she sounded just like a swashbuckling pirate, “-vih-kar-vee leh.”

“You are still struggling with the pronunciation of ‘aa’, but do not fret about it, Child – it is one of the more difficult letters to pronounce, and Kurpian is not your native tongue,” said he. “Therefore, to differentiate between ‘aa’ and ‘ar’, I would suggest you continue to put a greater emphasis on the ‘aa’ sound while you are still learning to perfect it.”

Had Gnotsu just told her to sound like a pirate?

“So, Alix,” continued the old kus, “tell me how you are.”

“Oh, I’m okay,” she casually spoke.

He smiled. “In Kurpian, Alix.”

“Oh! Right. Err… Fo unsc?

He chuckled most delicately as he cast his eyes to the ground, but then he stood in silence, frozen in his stance. “Are you okay, Alix?” he asked with atypical sobriety.

She frowned at his sudden shift of temperament, as well as at the question itself. “Yes…” answered she.

He peered at her with his head angled down most discreetly.

His penetrative gaze cut straight through her and she glanced away uneasily. How did Gnotsu do it?

“What can be gained from lying to your heart?” he quietly questioned.

“I’m not…” she began to reply, but she knew that she had no sharp rejoinder with which to respond. Besides, even if she did, Gnotsu would undoubtedly know it was a lie.

With the softest of sighs, Gnotsu walked over to the empty stool and sat himself down beside her. “All hearts hold sadness from time to time, yet, for one reason or another, we believe it necessary to hold onto it continually by means of denial. This weighs down our hearts, my dear child, for the burden of denied sadness is a heavy one. There is no shame in admitting sadness in the heart, for in this weakness we discover our strength. Tell me, Alix: do you know what happens when we deny the sadness in our hearts?”

Alex was taken aback somewhat by his direct question, so intent was she on listening to his wisdom. “Um… No…”

“It tries to escape,” said he. “In its desperate plight for freedom, it seeks to flee only to discover that the heart resists and prevents it from doing so. Thus, an inner conflict rages, and our souls then intervene, calling out to the heart in an attempt to convince it to set this sadness free. But the noise of the conflict is too loud, and our quiet souls cannot be heard. And so it is our souls are weakened, and, as I am sure you will agree, nieebko, this is not good. We Ilimoskus have a word for such an eventuality: diitharedan – the conflict in the heart and of the soul.”

Alex looked at her lap, feeling overwhelmed; she felt the sadness stir within her heart, clawing at the walls in its bid to escape. She found the courage within herself to look Gnotsu in the eye, beholding his benevolent face radiating solace as brightly as the sun. “How… How do you set your sadness free, Gnotsu?” she weakly asked, blinking numerous times to ward off the watery sheen in her eyes.

He took a moment to reply as the faintest origins of a smile emerged. “Cry,” was he simple answer. He placed his hand on her knee, and Alex felt the fiery heat of his skin even through her trousers. “Tears are the silent expression of our sorrow and our grief, are they not? The sadness flows out from our hearts, and so the heart is empty, but only then, when the sadness is free, can understanding take its place.”

“…Understanding?”

“Indeed, Nieeb,” Gnotsu softly spoke, clasping his hands together once more. “For when our sadness is free, the heart hears the soul once more and this harmony opens many a door for understanding ourselves and the world – this, we Ilimoskus call etalaresan. There is much wisdom in sadness, dear one. Perhaps sadness comes merely to teach us, and, in turn, help us be at peace.”

Alex indistinctly nodded, feeling her sadness swell in her eyes. “It’s a comforting thought…” she quietly said, too busy reflecting on what Gnotsu had said to be attentive to the volume of her voice. “But… if sadness brings us peace, why is it so… un-peaceful?”

Gnotsu chuckled. “We can look at the night sky and lament at the darkness while we wait for the sunrise, or, we can admire the beauty and wonder of the stars.”

“So… it’s up to us?” said she. “It’s our decision whether the process is a peaceful one or not?”

Gnotsu dipped his head so minutely Alex questioned whether he had moved it at all. But Gnotsu did not answer. There was quiet for a while as Gnotsu allowed her the time she needed.

She sighed, releasing the tension within herself. She could be peaceful. She could let her sadness be free. For in this weakness we discover our strength. But then she found herself thinking of the stars. Were they strong to shine amongst the darkness? “Gnotsu…” she said. “What’s the Kurpian word for stars?”

Gnotsu smiled warmly at this. “Ilckiido.

“Ill-kee-doe…” she slowly repeated.

“Elu’amel, niee’ckiido-niia.”

Alex stared at him blankly. “What?”

“Be at peace, precious child of the stars.”

This stirred her sadness more than anything else thus far, to such an extent that she knew she could no longer hide it, deny it. And so, looking at her lap, her eyes welled from the pain in her heart, and a tear trickled down her cheek.

***

Thank you for reading, my friends, I appreciate the time you have taken to reach the end.

I can only hope that you may take something from this little story, from Gnotsu and from Alex.

We can reconnect with wisdom in the subtlest of ways, if only our minds our open to receive.

Peace be within you,

~ JKM


Brief explanation of strange, underlined words:

Holid -> The equivalent of a city, in its way

Kus (Ilimoskus) -> The Ilimoskus are a race of elemental beings, at one with nature. The word kus is an abbreviation, but it can also mean ‘folk’. 

Hohot -> The equivalent of a house, or building

Flamikus -> The folk of fire specifically

Idimis -> A place name, a location, the heart/centre of a holid (‘city’)

Nieeb – or nieebko -> Nieeb means ‘child’, but it is often used as an affectionate term of address to anyone younger. Nieebko means “my child”, and is again used as an affectionate term. The ‘b’ is not pronounced: “nee-koe”

If I’ve missed anything and you’re wondering, please feel free to ask me and I’ll add it to this list!

The 777 Writing Challenge – Peek-a-boo, Book 2!

My blogging buddy, Michael Fedison, has been around since the very beginning of my blog, offering support and kindness and encouragement, all of which I am incredibly thankful for. Mike is the author of The Eye-Dancers, which is a fabulous sci-fi/fantasy story about friendship and all sorts – I highly recommend 🙂

Anyway, he tagged me in the 777 Writing Challenge a little while back. And here state the 777 Writing Challenge rules:

The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress.

How wonderfully simple, no?

Needless to say, my current work-in-progress is Book 2 of the Ilimoskus story. Regular followers will know that I forever refer to it as ‘Book 2’, though this is not because it is untitled – in fact, I named all three books way back when, such was the extent of my planning – but rather I refer to it as such because I wish for its title to remain secret. “Keep it secret, keep it safe.” So much is revealed as the story unravels and I wish no part in accidentally letting something slip, and so, as an extreme caution, my lips have been bolted shut. The nearer completion it becomes, the more I shall tell. But, for now, I must keep everyone in cruel suspense 😉

A while back I was thinking about sketching another character within the story, with the intention to… perhaps… share it with the world. This character is new in Book 2; this character is insanely important. I believe I have once disclosed that there are many new characters in Book 2, and let me tell you that ‘many’ is no exaggeration. You see, Book 2 is a joy for me in a vast variety of ways, though one of the greatest joys is the, I’m sure, long-awaited inclusion of the other ilyorz (or elements, to those of you unfamiliar with the story). Times of Old is wholly set within the Flamikus (fire folk) world, yet Book 2 welcomes the arrival of the Aeriikus (air folk), Agwikus (water folk), and Humiit-kus (earth folk) with open arms. Due to the other ilyorz being in this book, there are many new characters to meet within these other elemental worlds, and in turn many new dynamics and interactions. I so rarely get excited, but the thought of eventually sharing Book 2 with the world makes me buzz! I cannot wait to see what people think of the other ilyorz, or how they react to some of the new characters! And I know there is a good handful of people out there waiting for Book 2, and they have been for far, far too long. Life has been a bit cruel to me these past two years, and so writing Book 2 has been the last thing on my mind… Though I must deeply thank all those patiently waiting, for their interest and love for the story has not waned despite the length of time. It is truly touching. Thank you. And the Ilimoskus thank you, too 🙂 They want their story told as much as I do!

*

So! When tagged for this challenge, I was curious to know where Page 7 landed within the story of Book 2, and, due to my bolted lips, I wondered whether this landing would tell of something I was not willing to share. This would have made things quite the pickle, I’m sure you’d agree. In reaching my Page 7, I discarded the boring title pages of the manuscript, so, technically, this isn’t actually from the true Page 7, but it is Page 7 if counting from the very beginning of the told story. If that makes any sense. I have said “Page 7” too much.

To my relief, Line 7 on the not-true-but-still-is-Page 7 could not have been better. Anyone would think this had been strategically planned, it is so perfect. For those unaware of ILIMOSKUS**, the story is split by being told between two perspectives: fantasy (the Ilimoskus world) and reality (the human world). There are, therefore, principal Ilimoskus characters and principal human characters. The last few chapters of Times of Old are set wholly with the Ilimoskus, and so there may be a few readers out there wondering whatever became of poor Elizabeth, for last we knew she was in a dreadful state. Well, my friends, these wonderings may cease at the beginning of Book 2, for the book begins with the human world. This Page 7 lands within the first chapter of Book 2 – a human chapter.

And now, here is the excerpt:

Anastasia was about to fire back, but then she noticed the horror on her sister’s face as she looked into the sky behind her. Confused, she turned to look too, but there was nothing to see. Walking the remainder of the way to reach Elizabeth, she critically said, “What are you gawping at?” once arriving in front of her.

Elizabeth’s eyes followed its trail of flight. It was another great yellow bird, exactly like the one she had seen that fateful afternoon. Although her heart once again spun into overdrive, the bird was merely gliding around in silence, yet the lack of its piercing noise made it far less daunting. “C-can… Can you not see it?” she asked faintly, pointing up at it. “How can you not see it?”

Dun-dun-duuunnnnnnn. Well, not really. If you have read the first book, you will understand the impact of that there excerpt. Though, if you read Times of Old‘s blurb, it is hardly a secret:

‘Throughout this ever-growing tension, Fii’dezrhu Reotum – a rebellious Flamikus – discovers a momentous secret he then acts upon by venturing to the forbidden human lands; while there, he inadvertently reveals the Ilimoskus’ existence to one young girl.’

All Sherlocks out there would likely have clicked that this ‘young girl’ is indeed Elizabeth 😉 Needless to say, this ‘great yellow bird’ is a creature within the Ilimoskus world (called an espi’motoff, for those of you who wish to know).

I’m not going to lie, I am now slightly stumped on what else to say about this. I shall thus embrace my bolted lips once more. Though, for all of those people out there waiting for Book 2, I will say that I am very nearly halfway through the story. It’s only taken me three years to get to this point, but, you know. Whatever. How it pays to dally with the snails! And with the snails I shall stay. It’s exciting, though. I’m excited. I love Book 2.

*

And so now I move on to tag other writers and their WIPs. I’m supposed to tag seven, though would you believe it would seem I hardly follow any writers who have a WIP… Unless I’m just blind and unobservant, of course – which I wouldn’t put past me. But anyway, I tag:

Valourborn

Like Star Filled Skies

Concerning Writing

They’re all great writers, do check them out 🙂

***

Thank you for reading! I always appreciate it. I hope that little excerpt was a tantalising insight. Please, try to remain seated throughout your hysteria. I know it’s difficult. Hopefully I will have some more news soon. Keep your eyes polished! (Not peeled. Who wants peeled eyes? Such grim imagery.)

Icktis que yer kard fait ya phyde urma, dear world.

“May the light from your heart always guide you”

***

** For those unaware of ILIMOSKUS, it is a deep, environmental fantasy story about a race of elemental beings (fire, earth, air, water) colliding with the world of humans. Please click on this link if you would like to discover more. **

Rise Above, Be Reborn

Here I am, running freely through Ilimoskus Valley. It is my hope to talk openly about much to do with Ilimoskus this year, for previously I had done so rather sparingly, as though I did not want to bother others with the mention of it. But, I realise now that the Ilimoskus story – the Ilimoskus world – is as much a part of me as my very breath, and to hold it in denies my heart of all its core values. So, here’s hoping for wonderful things to come out of this year!

*

And nor will I stay quiet about my mental health. I have a mental health problem. I am ill. And I have been for far too long, in honesty. Eight years too long. Modern society still sneers down on mental health as not being much of a problem (certainly in the UK, anyway), but truly I tell you to know that it is. It really is. Nobody asks to become ill. Do you think anyone asks for a mental illness? It is hideous, for you are trapped within your own mind, and every new step you take somehow leads you back into darkness, back into the eternal loop from which it seems impossible to escape. It is tough to get over an illness. I believe it is probably tougher to get over a mental one. The mind is a complex thing. Still! I am undergoing ‘treatment’, if you will, and I am sure I will be free eventually.

Fellow sufferers, to you I say: Please do not give up, please do not be overwhelmed. I know it is so, so hard, and there are some days you wake up and think, I cannot do this anymore, I cannot go on this way, and I know it can be tempting to do something about those feelings, but that is not the way. I know how lonely it feels. I know how forsaken life seems. But please do not give up. There is a way out of the darkness, and you find the light by seeking help, by forever seeking your inner strength. You will pull through. You can and you will.

Of course, finding your inner strength and clambering out of the darkness does not dig up roses, but rather it churns up thick mud and thorns spit in your face. But those thorns can only blind you if you let them, and the mud can only suck you under if you stand still. I don’t claim to have all the answers, of course I don’t – no one does – but I do know that finding the beauty and wonder in the world, in the tiny little things, allows the sun to shine upon you, and that is precious. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people, but I do know that the most beautiful people in the world are the ones who rise above their gloom and grab the sun for their own, shining its light – as well as theirs – upon the rest of us. A special grace and power comes to those who rise above the darkness. And their hearts, once so scarred and hopeless, turn into diamonds. Unbreakable and so, so beautiful.

But anyway… Enough of such sober matters. (Just don’t give up. Mental illness or no.)

*

I am here to talk about my precioussssssssss **gollum!-gollum!** That is, Ilimoskus. Lots to tell, lots to tell!

ONE) This is the most important, and so it comes first. I should have blurted this out ages ago, but, you know, I’ve been busy planting flowers in my mud. THIS POST <<- announced that my book, Ilimoskus: Times of Old, was no longer available for purchase, due a blumin’ publishing nightmare. BUT!! No more is this so! Back at the beginning of December (or maybe even the end of November, actually, I can’t remember) I was told that the book had been picked up by another company, and, thusly, it is back for the world to read. Hoorah, eh? So. If you would like to read the story, know now that you can. Jolly times.

TWO) I say ‘jolly times’, and indeed it is, but I was actually slightly miffed by this because I wanted to re-edit the manuscript before I put it back out to the world. Obviously that has not happened. Never mind. I’ll do it at some point. I am still re-editing Times of Old at the moment; I’ve cut some bits out, and I’ve made some alterations, such as the school uniform design for Anglarne Hill Independent School in the human world (which includes altering the colour of the house of Danebury, if anyone has read it and cares… It is now green, not red). I have also changed the little ‘dedication’ bit right at the beginning of the book… In my work-in-progress Book 2, the ‘dedication’ page is not a dedication at all, but rather a poem, and I have re-done Book 1’s to be of the same nature, and telling the same ‘story’, I guess. Because it might be a century before the new version is out, I shall share the new poem/dedication for Times of Old with you now:

‘A fire flares within a heart

as stone shields around;

in stormy skies it falls apart

into a sea where dreams so drown.

Can it see in the dark?

How does it stay so strong?

From where does its new life spark?

Do the depths help it belong?

The darkness beckons, olden one,

but you can see the dawn;

let these times go by – be done! –

for you will be reborn.’

THREE) The last thing to mention is a little something I have planned, which should be a treat for those who like the story. I had previously done this little sketch of the four ilyorz (or, in English, the four elements: fire, earth, air, water):

fourilyorz

But, long have I wanted to do more sketches of the Ilimoskus world and the characters in the story. And so, whenever I find the time, I have been trying to work on my drawing skills to do all my elemental friends justice (as within my artistic capabilities). My plan is to draw the most significant characters in the trilogy (which is a ridiculous number, I’ll have you know) and share them with the world on a new page on my website, in a gallery of some sort, with a sentence or two describing them. I thought it would be a nice thing to do! It will obviously take some time to draw them all, so I’ll upload the images as and when and subsequently announce it on my Facebook page and/or Twitter. Or maybe on here, actually. Who knows. But, given I haven’t even started creating the new page on my website yet, it’ll take a while until it’s sorted. I’ll keep you updated.

But, I also thought – assuming I find my sketches of the Ilimoskus at least tolerable – that I might create another page for them specifically, going into more depth about the four ilyorz (elements) and their clothing style. Because why not, I think you’ll find. It’s interesting, honestly 😉 You can see it slightly in the sketch above, but that isn’t really showing it very well. And, not only do they have different clothing styles depending on their ilyor, but they also have different clothing styles depending on their leoges (another strange word, yes: see here for clarification). There is great depth to the Ilimoskus world indeed!

And hey, maybe if I get really carried anyway, I’ll draw all the Ilimoskus creatures, too 😉 (which I’ve actually already done, just not very well since they are all in my rough notebooks).

So, yes! New things, new times, new hope. It is my aim this year to be kinder to the Ilimoskus story, and to be kinder to myself regarding it. I am telling you, I have been vicious to myself – and kind of vicious to my elementals as well (sorry, my friends) – over the past four years or whatever. Ilimoskus is a labour of love, not some hideous punishment I must endure, and so I have come to realise that this kind attitude is the one I must keep, despite external pressures or what have you. And, in being kinder, my love for it will ever soar, and I will travel to great heights with it, I am sure.

But I shall leave you now with two sketches I have already done of some characters within the Ilimoskus story. The main human characters!

Ana_Liz

This is Anastasia (right) and Elizabeth (left) Gott. They are sisters – Anastasia being the eldest. Here they are modelling the newly designed Anglarne Hill school uniform. Elizabeth (or ‘Lizzie’) is the main, main human protagonist within the story.

Dem_Leon

This is Demetri (left) and Leon (right) Carter. They are non-identical twins! They too are modelling the newly designed Anglarne Hill school uniform (don’t you just love the trousers?). These two are lovely characters, if I may say so 😉 – especially Demetri (or ‘Dem’, as he is often called)!

***

Fun, pointless fact for you all: Within this post, I have said that ilyorz means ‘elements’ in English. This is not actually true. That is just the easiest translation. The Ilimoskus word for the four elements of nature is rather ilimoss.


Thank you for reading, everyone. I know my posts can often be quite lengthy, and so I deeply appreciate anyone who takes the time out of their day to read my words.

Be well and true,

and rise above the beckoning darkness

to be reborn with your diamond heart

so to dwell amongst the stars

for evermore.

~~

With Regret…

Okay. This is very important. I have news. About ILIMOSKUS. And, unfortunately, it is not of a joyous disposition.

I cannot actually believe I am sat here typing this right now, but we all know how life likes to launch bombshells at you when you’re minding your own business strolling through a pleasant, golden meadow.

Now. How many of you know how torturous writing the Ilimoskus story has been for me? How many times have I threatened to throw it all away completely, to give up and never look at it again? How many times have I threatened to unpublish the story from the world altogether? So many times I have lost count. But, despite all the tears, despite all the unbelievable grief it has caused me, I refused – and still refuse, actually – to give up. However. I am afraid I have been on the receiving end of one of life’s bombshells. It would seem I should watch my tongue, because what I once threatened has now become reality.

But let me cut it all short.

Due to unexpected and unforeseeable circumstances, it is with deep sadness and regret that Ilimoskus: Times of Old has been unpublished. It is, from this moment forth, unavailable for purchase. Please accept my sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. If you were planning on buying the book… Honestly, I really am so sorry. This was not the plan.

So. What does this mean for the Ilimoskus story? What about Book 2? Will it still be written? Is this the end for Ilimoskus?

Book 2 will still be written. As will Book 3. This is not the end of Ilimoskus.

Again, I am so sorry. I cannot apologise enough. I am sat here in confounded shock, quite frankly. But hey. Such is the way. Though, I think a long, lonesome walk is in order…

I wholeheartedly thank everyone who has supported me and the Ilimoskus story. I cannot hope to describe how much it all means to me. I couldn’t have done it without you. I feel as though I have let you down, though. And I am sorry. But, my dear friends, please do not be dismayed…

Times of Old will be back. ILIMOSKUS will be back.

Of this you can be certain.

***

I wish you well,

and may the light from your heart ALWAYS guide you.

– JKM

Michael S. Fedison Interview, Author of ‘The Eye-Dancers’

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest – if not the greatest – thing about blogging is the wonderful people you encounter. Very early on in my blogging days, Michael Fedison, author of The Eye-Dancers, popped up in my little blogger world, and we have been in contact ever since. It’s lovely to have such on-going support, especially when you are both in the same field of ‘work’, or what have you.

As mentioned, Michael is the author The Eye-Dancers:

Seventh-grader Mitchell Brant and three of his classmates inexplicably wake up at the back edge of a softball field to the sounds of a game, the cheering of the crowd. None of them remembers coming here. And as they soon learn, “here” is like no place they’ve ever seen. Cars resemble antiques from the 1950s. There are no cell phones, no PCs. Even the spelling of words is slightly off.

A compulsive liar, constantly telling fantastic stories to garner attention and approval, Mitchell can only wish this were just one more of his tall tales. But it isn’t. It’s all too real. Together, as they confront unexpected and life-threatening dangers, Mitchell and his friends must overcome their bickering and insecurities to learn what happened, where they are, and how to get back home.

The answers can be found only in the mysterious little girl with the blue, hypnotic eyes. The one they had each dreamed of three nights in a row before arriving here. She is their only hope. And, as they eventually discover, they are her only hope.

And time is running out.

eye_dancers

I have read The Eye-Dancers, and, quite simply, I love it. I really, truly do. It is such a wonderful story, and it focuses on themes not commonly found in many stories these day, which makes me love it even more! It is a story of fantasy and reality, of questions and answers, of friendship and growth. All that combined gives a brilliant piece of literature. This book is imaginative and original, and I would recommend it to anyone – the ‘growing up’ and friendship themes make it identifiable to all, but there is almost something subtly deeper running throughout it, and that makes it poignant and beautiful.

I read this waaay back last year, and I said to myself after I had finished it, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could interview Michael about his book. I’ll do just that.’ Anyone who has known me for any length of time is likely to know that I basically take about five thousand years to get around to doing anything. Think of a blue whale doing a three-point-turn. That is me. I am getting around to it – honest! – it just takes me a while. SO! Basically a year on from when I first read the book, I FINALLY interviewed Michael! Yaaaaaayy!

Below are my questions, and in fetching blue are Michael’s answers.

***

I have read on your blog that your inspiration for The Eye-Dancers was from a dream you had, whereby you saw this ‘ghost-girl’ with her haunting blue eyes! I wonder: when you had this dream, how did you feel? Did it freak you out? Did it intrigue you? Did your feelings inspire one of the main character’s reactions to her?

All of the above! 🙂 I definitely was scared. It was an extremely vivid dream. For a moment, just after waking up, I genuinely wondered if the “ghost girl” were still outside in the street, signalling for me to come out.  But along with the fear, I felt excited, too.  Once some of the initial shock wore off, I realized—I had to put this “ghost girl” into a story! I jotted down a few notes, describing how I felt during the dream, along with all the pertinent details—the intense blue of her eyes, the way they swirled and spun; the way the light from the street lamp passed straight through her, as if she were more spirit than flesh and blood; the sense that she had come for me, wanting to trap me somehow, force me to travel to some distant sphere, some existence far outside the boundaries of my everyday world. I didn’t want to forget.  (As an aside, I later realized the notes were not necessary. I never forgot!  Even now, so many years later, I can still recall that dream with clarity) 

The opening sequence in The Eye-Dancers is actually a fair representation of my own dream experience. In that first scene, Mitchell Brant, one of the novel’s main characters, dreams of the “ghost girl.” She is outside, in the road, standing beneath the street lamp, just as she was in my own dream. And, just as it happened in my dream, the light passes through her, her blue, blue eyes spinning, expanding, drawing him in. His responses to her mirror my own. It was an easy scene to write—almost bleeding over into the realm of nonfiction!

How long did it take you to write The Eye-Dancers?

The first draft took nearly three years, and then another nine months of revising and rewriting!

Many writers draw on personal life experiences when they create scenes in their stories, or even when they create characters. Is this true for you and The Eye-Dancers? Were any of the characters, or character interactions, inspired by people you have known?

Definitely! The setting, for instance—western New York State—is where I grew up. And the four main characters—Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski—are all inspired by friends I knew (and still know!) growing up. The characters in the novel ultimately emerged as unique individuals, different in many ways from the real-life friends they are based on. But several “inside jokes” and idiosyncrasies from real life absolutely found their way into The Eye-Dancers!

While reading the book, I often felt as though there was a sober, deeper meaning flirting in the undertones. What was your ultimate aim when writing The Eye-Dancers? Did you want to convey any particular message or emotion?

That’s a great question. First and foremost, The Eye-Dancers is about growing up, coming-of-age, learning to appreciate the person you are, independent of expectations, peer pressure, and the insecurities so rampant in adolescence. It is also a story about friendship, the coming together of a group of boys on the cusp of being teenagers—they are very different from one another, and often get on each other’s nerves. But to survive the adventure, they must learn to work together. The people we bond with at an early age are special in our lives, and I hope The Eye-Dancers captures some of that magic.

But also, I have always been one to wonder, to ask questions about this “reality” we often talk about. Is reality so cut-and-dried, summed up by the things we see, touch, hear, feel? Is this life, here and now, all there is of our existence? Or is there something more? Is reality, perhaps, much more layered, much more complex, than we realize?

And, perhaps most of all, the sense of connection. We are all connected. People, places, events, histories, societies that seem, on the surface, so far away, a universe away, are, in actuality, closer to us than we ever dared to think.

One of the things I love most about The Eye-Dancers is its originality. You do not often come across stories these days which focus heavily on the friendship between four teenage boys still discovering who they really are! Was this intentional, or did the story write itself?

Both! The story wrote itself, as all stories do, but at the same time, when I set out to write The Eye-Dancers, I definitely wanted the friendship between the boys to be one of the main themes of the novel—an often troubled, stormy, and argumentative friendship! But they always have each other’s backs. I am nostalgic, I suppose. There is nothing like childhood, the sense of wonder we have at that early age. I wanted this novel to capture that—and the friendship between the main characters was certainly a part of that.

I perhaps shouldn’t ask this question, but do you have a favourite character? If so, who and why?

That is a tough one! 🙂 I like all of the characters—they each hold a special place for me. But if I had to choose just one, I would probably pick Mitchell Brant. Mitchell resonates for me on a deeply personal level; he shares many of the same traits I had at that age. And his love of collectible old comic books really puts him over the top for me!  

***

If you are interested in The Eye-Dancers, check it out on:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Support a wonderful person and a fantastic writer! ^^

Simple Motivation, Complex Fabrication

I am a strong believer in simplicity – regarding most things, anyway. When it comes to creativity, I don’t like simplicity, which I guess isn’t too surprising given the story I’ve written. But everything else: simple does it.

I had a ‘moment’ not too long ago whereby I realised a great way to motivate myself, and it is also proving effective at battling the Voldemort of all words for writers – the dreaded Word-That-Shall-Not-Be-Spokenprocrastination.

Regular followers of my blog, or readers of my book, will know about good old Kurpian. That is, the Ilimoskus’ language. Well, one day I was working away at my desk and, as always, there was paper all over the place. One blank piece of paper in particular kept getting in the way, and it was annoying me, and so I shoved it underneath my mouse, essentially turning into a paper mousemat. And then I had my moment – my sudden burst of inspiration. I grabbed a pencil and wrote ‘kalas’ all over my paper mousemat, so that every time I happened to glance at my mouse, I saw a horde of KALAS staring back at me. I then decided to take this one step further and stuck a little strip of kalas-paper (I’m making up words all over the place here) onto my laptop, so I saw it all the more. This is my little motivation trick, you see, for whenever I am writing Book 2 and I can feel myself drifting away a bit, when I glance at ‘kalas’, it shunts me back into determination and focus.

kalas

Observe my lone-word motivation kalas-paper stuck on my laptop

And what on earth is kalas? Well, it is a Kurpian word, and it basically means “FOCUS, darn you!” *shakes fist* “Concentrate!”

Okay, it isn’t actually as assertive as I made it sound. It is, quite simply, the word meaning ‘to focus/concentrate on something’. It really is quite remarkable how well this is working for me; this one, simple word is the best motivation – the biggest kick up the butt – I have known for a long time. Don’t you just love it when simple things are so effective?

I appreciate I could have just stuck the word ‘focus’ in front of my face, but I just know that wouldn’t have worked anywhere near as well for me. For whatever reason, seeing Kurpian words or sentences taps into my concentration and determination far more effectively than English does. Perhaps that’s because it’s my language, my own creation, and so I remember how much it means to me to complete this little mission of mine (little mission…. ha). *shrugs* Who knows? I certainly don’t, but not like it matters. The important thing is that I am focused and can remain so for the foreseeable future.

Yes, there are many pieces of paper dotted about my desk with Kurpian sprawled all over them, in case you were wondering.

So, that is my simple motivation. What of this complex fabrication?

As I mentioned earlier, my story is a deep and complex one. There are so many themes and sub-plots that entwine together to give the whole story, like individuals strings that make up a rope; without one string, the rope wouldn’t hold together so well – or at all.

In fact, it would seem my novel is soooo complex (please note my sarcasm here) that even basic details get confused. Let me explain. Ever since Times of Old was published back in April 2013, every now and then I come across something that is wrong. The genre of the book, for example. According to some sites, it is simply ‘general fiction’, or ‘contemporary’. Hear me sigh. Technically, contemporary is correct, yes, but to say it is just contemporary and nothing more is wrong. Though, most sites do say it is ‘fantasy’, or even ‘epic fantasy’. I once had a moment where someone told me that my book was actually science fiction, but they had only read the blurb… Needless to say, that irritated me quite significantly. It’s a pretty bold move to tell the author of something that they’ve got the genre of their own novel wrong, especially before reading it, do you not think? Page number is also something sites get wrong. We have some saying it’s about 200-and-something pages long, some say 300-and-something… It’s actually 426. It is the publication date being wrong that I find most amusing, though. Some sites say January 2012, some say October 2012, some say June 2013, and (this is my favourite) I saw one just the other day that claims it was published in January 2014. Huh?

I really don’t know what has happened with all this information gathering. I just don’t understand how so many can get it so wrong. Again, I saw something the other day that really made me laugh: apparently, according to one site (and I wish I could remember where I actually saw this), the country of origin is the United States. Is it? Hmmmm, not so sure about that one 😉

I think we can conclude that if you see any piece of information about my book anywhere online which is not directly from me, chances are it is wrong. Horribly wrong.

But anyway, I’ve been focused on and thinking about Ilimoskus a lot recently, though unfortunately, despite my nifty little motivation trick, I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and write for the past week or so. Oh, how I could angrily shake my fist at life because of this, but there is a time for everything… Even so, Ilimoskus has been on my mind a great deal. I would just like to share with you one of complexity that is within my story, and that I have been thinking specifically about recently.

Who is (are) the antagonist(s)?

Obviously I know the answer to that, but readers won’t. Although Ilimoskus is a fantasy story, and fantasy is often characterised by a very clear divide between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, there isn’t actually a clear ‘baddie’ in Times of Old… (And, I’ll just add, even when the ‘baddie’ does come to light later on in the story, are they really the ‘baddie’? – That is but an example of the questions I like to raise for readers when I write). Times of Old certainly does not follow the typical fantasy route regarding some aspects, but it most definitely does not when it comes to antagonists. So, if it’s a fantasy story, but it doesn’t have a ‘baddie’, can you even call it a fantasy? How can it be an interesting or good fantasy story when there is no evil to fight against? Undoubtedly, the Ilimoskus story has blurred lines when it comes to this matter. But sometimes, the divide between good and evil is not as clear-cut as we would like to think, or believe.

I could sit here all day and raise every complexity which makes up the Ilimoskus story, questioning the fabrication of each thread and presenting all the question marks for the world to view, and ponder over, and ultimately, to come to their own conclusion as to how and what and why.

There are many complexities in my story – I just gave you but one example. There are many blurred lines. And I love that. Though, I won’t lie, such complexity and blurred lines and crossovers between themes, genres and sub-plots has made marketing very difficult. How am I supposed to do it? What am I supposed to say when I have so much to say? Who am I supposed to aim it at when I could aim it at so many? People do not want to hear an author ramble on for half an hour about everything a story is and everything it entails; they want a quick, simple, brief explanation. That’s how you draw readers, or consumers, in. Right? But my problem is: I’m just too honest for my own good. I know the complexity and depth of my story will put so many people off reading it, but I am not afraid to say or acknowledge this. I’m not going to lie to potential readers by pretending Ilimoskus is something it’s not.

Ilimoskus is unique, and different, and it stands apart from other stories because of the way it is told, because of its themes, because of what it is. Ilimoskus walks upon the fine line between what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, and it is not afraid to raise deep questions and issues for the reader to answer – or even answer to. But maybe that is its downfall. Maybe it is too unique, too different. Maybe I have unintentionally created the outcast of all stories, for it stands too far away to ever ‘belong’.

All I can possibly hope for is that someone, somewhere, somehow feels intrigued enough to give Ilimoskus a chance, and that after they’ve given it a chance, they come to love it for what it is. All I can do is hope and pray it can find a home in someone else’s heart, other than my own. And, maybe, they could open the door to their little heart-house, sharing Ilimoskus by letting it spread out and fly into the hearts of others. After all, there is nothing quite like spreading the word…

***

Simple intentions spurred on by simple motivation

leads to complex fabrications with complex considerations.

***

Two other things to throw out there quickly:

1) Despite having been an ‘official’ author for over a year now, I’ve only just set up my Goodreads Author Profile. Nothing like taking your time with things, eh Jenny? 😉

2) If you would like to read an interview about Times of Old/myself with Author Alliance, click here.