Medieval World Building
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For people who write medieval fantasy, play medieval rpgs, and the people who read or play those worlds. For me, the medieval world is 1066 to 1509, b...

Medieval Mayhem!

Last night, as I was doing some research, I wondered where my fascination with medieval history began. My first thought was that it must be a Dungeons and Dragons thing, but then I remembered that wasn’t it. Not by a long shot.

Thomas Becket Shrine

I remember finding a copy of Thomas Malory’s Le Mort D’Arthur at my house when I was growing up, and I was transfixed! I was probably about nine or ten years old, and what could be better than the romanticized adventures of knights and heroes and villains! I still have that book and treasure it. I also found my first copy of Don Quixote in those old books, and devoured that too. Even as a kid, the parody aspect of that book was not lost on me.

Then I met the Sword and Sorcery genre. I remember well Robert E. Howard’s Conan books, many of them pastiches by other authors. Then came the books of Michael Moorcock, most notably the Elric books, but also the Corum and Hawkmoon series. Then came the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Silmarillian.

J.R.R. Tolkein’s books had a big impact on my life. I honestly believe that everything I have learned about loyalty, friendship, and duty came from those stories. Now, in far retrospect, I would not call the LOTR cycle “medieval,” but I would say it represents a story for the so-called Dark Ages.

Short Digression: As far as I’m concerned, what we call the Middle Ages begins with the Norman Conquest in 1066, and ends with the reign of Henry VII in 1509. After that, you get a Renaissance king, Henry VIII. Anyway, for my own purposes, I call the period between Roman Britain and the Norman Conquest the Dark Ages, and do not consider them “Medieval.” You can try to change my mind, I don’t care.

When I was about fifteen, or maybe fourteen, some nearby friends Ed Trout and his brother Ken Trout introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons. I would have to ask Ed, but I think this was around 1978, more likely 1979. I was hooked in a big way. In fact, I played tabletop role-playing games avidly from then till about 2000. I made many life-long friends playing RPGs. I laugh now, but there are whole generations of people whose preconceived ideas about the medieval period are based on D&D.

I would be remiss if I didn’t note the Deryni books of Katherine Kurtz. I got these in my early twenties, and they were a big influence on me. I’m thinking of rereading them in order, to be honest. Benita introduced me to them, and for that I can never thank her enough.

Dover Castle

In my mid-twenties I went back to college, this time going for a degree in medieval history. This was a rich learning experience, and academically I got to shine in a way I never had before. I had some outstanding professors, especially Dr. Kenneth Cutler. He’s long retired, and I’m not sure if he’s still alive. I couldn’t find him looking online.

When I went back to college, this was all in the time prior to the internet. I was almost done with my degree when the professors first got email! Anyway, I managed to get by as best I could without much access to primary sources and limited availability of the books I needed. Now, with the internet, it’s all scanned and easily available, most of it for free! My medieval education has been just as intense in these last few years with material gleaned off the world wide web as it was in my college days.

Around age 30, I started participating in the Society of Creative Anachronism. It was not an all-together positive experience. After having had two serious cases of sun stroke, my body couldn’t handle the heat of armor, and I got sick several times trying to learn how to fight. It took me some time to realize it, but physically I was not up rigors of this martial art. Oddly enough, I believe I could handle it just fine now, but in my 50’s I’m in better shape than I was then.

The people in the Society of Creative Anachronism were friendly and inviting, and I was tempted to stay on explore the non-combat elements of the group. I did not find anyone in the group with a serious drive for history, unfortunately–these were not scholars, but semi-informed enthusiasts. That may sound critical on my part, but I don’t mean it that way. The SCA was a gateway to Medieval learning, and that’s fantastic. After the last time I tossed my cookies at a meetup, I stopped going. I never did try to certify as a fighter, because I never went to any of the big events where that was done.

If I had it to do over, would I have approached the whole thing differently? Sure. I could have been a friendly ambassador for history, I could have done so many non-combat things. I could have written articles for their publications. But, ces’t la vie.

The next stop on my medievalist path was a trip to Britain. I think I was about 27, and my grandparents sent me, Benita, my mom, and my step-dad, Floyd, to England for ten days. It was a fantastic trip that is forever burned into my memory. I am an Anglophile, through and through. Benita and I ran around inside castles and cathedrals, and I remember the first time I touched a stone tower wall that had been there since the medieval times.

Highlights of the trip include Lincoln, Canterbury, Salisbury, London, Dover, and Edinburgh. Castles, Cathedrals, and Chapels Oh my!

After this, I took about a two-decade break from all things medieval. I was busy trying to establish my career in indie comics, after all. My passion really reignited when Benita introduced me to the British television show Time Team. I love that show, and have seen all of them (I think). Not long after that I remember getting my first longbow, the type used in the middle ages, and taking up traditional archery.

Then came the Book of Lists.

The BOL is my insane attempt to marshal medieval terminology, history, and material culture. All of it. Really, every last bit. This book is not done, and it should take years to finish, but it’s aimed at writers and gamers who want to understand the very cool options hidden in history. Honestly, the deeper you dig, the more you realize that actual medieval history has many more cool options than Dungeons & Dragons or Lord of the Rings ever touch on. There is a wealth of cool jobs, technology, magic, and material culture in there!

So, that’s where I’ll leave it. I’m sure there are going to many more medieval-based adventures and by-ways for me to explore. I’m ready now. 

Cool Reviews, Fun Stuff!

Hello, all you fine examples of human development.

I’ve got three lovely reviews for the advance copies of Story Studios Presents Changing of the Guard.

Kevin T. Phillips 5.0 out of 5 stars

Fast-paced and visceral, this action-packed story even tugs at the heartstrings

Make no mistake, this is a superhero story. The author doesn’t try to hide it, but he also doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence. It’s a damn GOOD superhero story, with richly drawn characters, well-developed backstories and believable subplots. The author (the aptly-named Scott Story) has a sense of humor about his subject matter: The superheroes have sometimes silly names, weird powers, and inter-relate in a larger-than-life social pecking order. But they also feel pain, both physical and emotional from their conflicts and the body augmentation many have had to endure to become the heroes and villains of the world they live in. Scott is great at describing these epic battles and the destruction left in their wake, but he is equally good at chilling the spine with more horrific sequences when he delves into the supernatural, because these forces also exist in abundance in Spire City: Crystal Skulls, Druids, Thought-beasts and even hints of Lovecraftian horror! Is the best yet to come? I’m sure of it!

P. Mccall 5.0 out of 5 stars

Vivd descriptions, Punchy plot, a joy to read!

Changing of the Guard (Spire City Noir Book 1) is a continuation of the Story’s long running graphic novel adventure featuring their main hero/anti hero Johnny Saturn this time in prose form. The prose can be described as purple in the best terms, that is to say vivd and colorful. You can feel the sweat, the grime and the atmosphere oozes. There are also several pen and ink character portraits illustrating the book which helps defines the reader’s “skull cinema”. Five stars, two thumbs up, full marks on any scale.

Ian T. Healy5.0 out of 5 stars

Rollicking good fun

This is a fun collection of superhero yarns that has a strong four-color influence. If you grew up reading comics in the 70s and 80s, or read them now fondly, you will enjoy this book. Scott and Benita weave a fantastic, detailed world where superheroes and supervillains have epic battles with tremendous stakes, and at the same time have powerful character moments.

2020? Yeah!

Hello, intrepid people who follow this blog!

I’m not writing one of those “this is my plans for the new year” kind of things, because I’ve had all this planned out for a few years, and 2020 is going to be a continuation and finishing-up type of year. I’m all about wrapping up ongoing projects! I’ve been working at it hard, and I’ve finished a lot this year, and next year is more of the same!

One thing is sure–this is going to be a year of writing! Between this blog, the several novels I’m working on, the blog I’m going to be doing on Shoutfyre, and my forthcoming newsletter, I should be writing everyday. A lot.

Benita made me a Johnny Saturn stuffie! Johnny Saturnball! (I painted his eyes, and I didn’t even know it was for me! Sneaky Benita!)

2019 has been the year of pen-and-ink for me, and I’ve increased my skill and technique in this medium exponentially. Here’s my latest, a fantasy character from an upcoming novel.

Lot’s going on, so I’m going to present my thoughts in a free-form blast of cognition.In a couple weeks, I’m beginning in a 7-week blacksmithing course. Very exciting, I must say. I’ve done a little of this (very little) in the past, so I’m really looking forward to learning more.

Steven Dotey has gotten me the rest of the pages for our collaborative effort, so I expect to be sending this issue off to the printer early this week, and following it up with a guided view digital version. Pretty cool.

Benita is still hard at work formatting the print version of Story Studios Presents Changing of the Guard. Will it be done in time for Near Year’s day? The runes say no, but very soon.

I’ve been eyeball deep in some crazy Medieval research lately, where no fact is too obscure if it’s cool. It’s a bit of an obsession.

One thing I’ve always believed: that my degree in Medieval history was not wasted, even if it didn’t teach me how to fix cars, re-wire a house, or program a computer. Yes, those things might have made me much more money, but the lifetime of satisfaction that it has given me is worth more than money.

Here’s something very cool–Benita bought me a wooden trebuchet kit! I had fun building it over about an hour-and-a-half, and I think it’s time to test it out now that the glue has dried. Huzzah!

Hey Oh! Today is All About Me

Greetings, fellow people!

Today is my birthday (I’m double nickels young), so this is my personal beginning of a new year.

First up, who am I?

My name is Scott Story, and I am an author, artist, historian, Medievalist, introvert, mentor, musician, and student. I am not the student in any particular institute of higher learning, but I am an avid student of life.

What does that mean? Student of life? It equates to a couple of things. First, it means that no knowledge is wasted, so if I learn about subjects outside my bailiwick then that data is still absorbed and will probably surface at some point in my creative output. Second, it means that I pursue information on these subjects:

Medieval History, Zeppelins, World War II, Guitar, Bible History, Egyptology, Theology, Dinosaurs, the Paranormal, Mythology, Science, and so forth. When it comes to the paranormal specifically, I’m all for ghost stories, magick, the “real” history of mankind, Christian mythology, the ancient astronaut hypothesis, symbolism, UFOs, and whatever else grabs my attention.

A few caveats: Just because I study the paranormal does not necessarily mean I’m “believer.” What I believe is irrelevant. What makes mind-popping ideas, however, is the key, because my creativity is often fueled by wild ideas. I’m an artist and author, and fringe ideas really get me going.

A lot of people don’t understand the term “Christian Mythology,” so I’ll set the record straight. I’m Christian, always have been, always will be, that’s that. Still, there is a wide world of myths associated with Christianity that may or may not have a basis in reality. The Spear of Longinus? The Shroud? the Book of Enoch? The Wandering Jew? These are the very tip of the iceberg that is Christian Mythology. This is stuff that you won’t hear about in Sunday School! I love this stuff.

What else do you need to know about me? Um, I love cats, and just about all animals. I love going to antique malls, books stores, and art supply stores. I have a collection of teddy bears and toy dinosaurs. I am an Anglophile, and love most things British. I love trains, railroad history, and toy trains.

What else? I’ve always wanted to build a building from scratch. I’ve always wanted to learn blacksmithing, and medieval swordplay and fighting. I have always wanted a live-steam locomotive and railroad track for it. I’ve always wanted a Stratocaster Guitar, or a Les Paul Guitar, and a big tube amp. I always wanted to be in a rock band.

I think that about covers it. I’m sure there’s more, but that’s good for now.

Art Studio Tour

Hello! I thought I would post something special today, and that’s a tour of my art studio. Maybe I should rename it the Scott Story Art Facility on the Story Studios Campus? No? Ok.

There are a lot of toys in this room, as well as owls, superheroes, and great natural light. These days I even have houseplants (not pictured). It’s a great place for me and my studio cats to hang out, listen to podcasts, and be creative.

Getting Close…

Greetings from the Midwest!

I’m closing in on that all-important soft launch of Story Studios Presents Changing of the Guard, and as you might suspect that means I’m really busy seeing to all the details. That entails the following:

I’m using the excellent application Publisher Rocket to determine my most useful organic keywords and most advantageous categories for Amazon. Rather than a lengthy explanation about what that means, I’ll just say that these are elements that work in the background and make my work easier to locate and for Amazon to rank. Authors that publish through Amazon should understand what this is about.

Later today, I’m going to set my Bookfunnel page and prepare my mailing list. I’ve resisted this for years, because 1) I felt it was intrusive, and 2) what on earth do I have to discuss that often? I mean, I’ve kept everything close to my vest for a long time, and I’ve stayed away from infuriating small talk. Well, I’m taking my cue from A.P. Fuchs and his excellent newsletter. He includes commentaries on a wide range of subjects, mostly related to being a creative today, so I’m going to follow suit.

I’m usually sorry whenever I pipe up and state my opinions on social media. Politics is everything, really, and it reaches into every corner of our lives. Nothing good comes from discussing it. It’s as corrosive online as talking about religion, finances, and any other hotbutton topic.

Mind you, I will not apologize for speaking up about climate change, or violence against women, children, and animals. Those subjects are not the point of this blog, but I will not be shy about them. If you deny climate change, or condone cruelty, then you are not my type of person anyway.

My next two novels in the works are fantasy. No surprise there. That genre fits nicely with my Medievalist heart. I did not intend that either book would be illustrated. In fact, my current book (Story Studios Presents Changing of the Guard) was not planned as an illustrated tome, but it has 18 pen and ink illustrations included. 18!

Well, I’m already well into character portraits for one of my fantasy novels, and here’s an example:

Be good, be prosperous, be kind, be full of gratitude. Scott.

Calm before the Storm

Hi, Hola, Salutations, yadda yadda yadda:

I’ve got the launch of Story Studios presents the Changing of the Guard scheduled out. This is new and exciting for me, because I’ve never embarked on this level of promotion. When all this come to a close, I’m sure I’ll have some interesting observations about the launch process.

In time, the launch is broken into pre-launch last minute preparations that should take up the rest of November; then the soft launch, which should cover all of December; then the hard launch, which takes up all of January; then the post-launch followups. I have made myself crazy with all the books and articles I’ve read about book launching, and the sheer number of options is mind-blowing. After much study, and much advice from my writing mentors, I have come up with a few guidelines.

The first guideline is that I am going to spend as little on author-based services as I can. This decision was brought to bear after my poor decision to purchase Kindle Samurai, a type of search engine that helps you develop the phrases that readers will organically search for on Amazon when they are looking for new reading material. So, I invested in this application, because I have four different books I’m working on, and this program would have been very helpful.

There is no need to go into the details, but Kindle Samurai was non-functional, and it appears to be abandon-ware. Help tickets and numerous emails were answered, and then they ghosted out on me. I am contesting the purchase on Paypal, but whatever happens I’ve learned my lesson. I cannot throw money at the problem and make it disappear. That guideline worked well enough through the editing, proofreading, and formatting stages of the novel, so I should have done the same DIY thing here. Lesson learned.

My second and other guideline I have adopted is this: only do those promotional activities I feel comfortable with. If something wounds my little introvert heart, then it’s probably not right for me. Besides, with each book I launch, I can add more and get more sophisticated on my approach. This time, in my book launch virginity, I just want to get through it.

I’ve set up an account on Goodreads. Not sure what I’m going to do with it, but it comes highly recommended. There’s a lot I still don’t understand on there, like how to add friends or join groups. I just submitted to be a Goodreads Author, so we’ll see how that develops.

Well, that should be sufficient for today. Remember, if you are a ninja, don’t wear corduroy. 🙂

Updates Galore:

Hi, Reader People!

Last week I wrote a long post about simulation theory and digitizing and downloading people, but I had the good sense not to post it because it probably would bore most people to tears. Most people are not even aware of the coming singularity (however you define it). Maybe I’ll post it at some future point, but for now it is hidden away with some of my other more heady, out there posts.

Story Studios presents Changing of the Guard is 100% done! But, no I have not posted it yet. I am hard at work studying how to launch books, and the current book I am devouring is this:

I am happy to say that this book, of which I am 80% done reading on my Kindle, is straight-forward and very informative to someone of my experience level. After this book, I am going to read this:

It comes highly praised.

Yes, I am going to make the leap into publishing a newsletter and building a mailing list. I have resisted this level of engagement for a long, long time. I mean, really, most writers would prefer to spend their time writing, and having people enjoy their work. It doesn’t work like that nowadays, and probably never did unless you are already famous.

Developing the newsletter and landing page are going to be . . . something. Not only do I need to offer some sort of enticement to sign up, a loss leader, if you well, but then I need to produce content for it on a regular basis to keep readers engaged. I’m not all that sure what form that content or loss leader will take. Clearly, I have a lot to learn.

There are some other elements to this self-publishing mystery I could write about, but I leave it be for now.

I will say that Steven Doty is hard at work on the last pages of Spire City Noir no. 2. This comic has existed in limbo for a couple of years now, and at a few points I’ve toyed with idea of simply writing the story as a prose novel and being done with it. Still, somehow I knew we’d always finish it, and that time is really soon.

I’m also editing Benita’s debut solo book, a Patchwork Life, and it’s a fantastic read and I’m really proud to be a small part of it. It’s really going to put her on the map. I mean, she’s already well known in her field, but now the world will be able to enjoy her gentle wisdom and wonderful storytelling abilities.

I guess that’s enough for now.

Old Fashioned Miscellaneous Musings

Hello, Internet, my old friend, I’ve come to …

Um, yeah. Okay. I couldn’t help it.

I’ve got a lot on my plate, but I couldn’t be happier about it. If you are curious enough to find out about what is going on in our lives, here is a post from Benita on her blog that explains it all very well. It’s been an interesting but satisfying time.

Why do I not have a Patreon account? I’ve considered it many times, because I believe my art would gain some traction there. The thing is, however, is that I also spend a lot of time of writing and publishing, so that means extended times without doing art. I go through periods where I post stuff all the time, and then long periods where I’m away from art and working on books. Being a generalist in this way has slowed my career down, but I cannot help it. I could not give up writing or art. I do both. Both crafts go back to my origins.

Lately I’ve become enamored of the old, old mystery man, the Shadow. I’ve read all the comics I can find with him in it, and luckily there are quite a few. I’d love to be able to write and draw some of his adventures, but alas he not in the public domain. Still, it would be a awesome to do so.

A few comments about the Shadow. He more Batman than Batman, but a meaner, more lethal version thereof. The Shadow is not to be confused for a nice guy. Second, his powers are extraordinary. As I’ve read, I’ve seen more and more cool tricks he has, far beyond “clouding the minds of men.” Dynamite is the current publisher for this character, and I recommend checking these comics out. I have collected a good number of the old Shadow novels, but I have not read them yet.

I have a lot of plans for business articles and art how-to articles, and in fact I’ve already written a lot of them. I have not published them here yet, however, because they may be syndicated at a new website called Shoutfyre. Nothing is set in stone yet, and I want to make sure that this new venture is going to happen, so that is why I have not posted more business related stuff here. I will certainly keep you up to date with how this all develops.

I plan for the story-collection Story Studios Presents Changing of the Guard to be published as an E-Book on December. Here are a few notes on its progress:

  1. It’s complete, and edited, and looking spiffy.
  2. Scrivener and it’s compile tools have been marvelous for simplifying the unjustifiably hard formatting duties. So, the book is 80% formatted, but I’m taking it over to MS Word for final tweaks.
  3. Then comes the book launch. I know so little about how to do this correctly. There is a high learning curve, and I’m going to have to negotiate that. I’m not sure even where to start.
  4. At the same time as I try to climb that curve, I will be formatting the book for print. Some of that work will overlap with the E-Book formatting, so that should not be as difficult (I hope!)
  5. As usual for Story Studios, I plan to publish the print version through Lightning Source.

Okay, news about this website. Again, I will present it in list form because that’s how I think in real life.

  1. The target date for turning this site back into a store of my goods is January 1. Now, a month and a half out, that seems unlikely. I guess the takeaway is that I intend for it happen relatively soon. In the meantime, keep purchasing Story Studios stuff at Amazon, Drivethru Comics, Indy Planet, and Comixology.
  2. Those sellers aren’t going away, because I’m happy with all of them. What I want to sell on this site is more specialized stuff, such as sketch cover variants, original art, posters, etc. and so forth.
  3. I’m feeling my shoulders tighten up as I consider all the marketing efforts. Baby steps, baby steps. Indie empires aren’t built in a day!
  4. I should also mention that I had plans to include all the tools that I use as affiliate links on this site. It would have been a nice way to make a little cash. As it turns out, most of those tools have no affiliate system, or systems that are so restrictive to sign up for as to not be worth the effort.
  5. Then, having abandoned that version of the affiliate idea, I decided that I would promote all those tool through an Amazon advertising server. Maybe this will happen, maybe not.

Is that enough for this post? I think so. Besides, I have work to do on the front of my house, so…

Alternate Cover for Spire City Noir No. 2

I’m not going to say this picture is done. I’m going to let it simmer for a while, so to speak. This is about the outside range or my watercolor skills at the moment, although I’m studying to get a better command of it.

Covers, Cover Bands, Cover Ups

The Changing of the Guard cover is now finished and lettered.

Name of the Shadow is still a work in progress, but it’s getting closer to taking its final form.
The is the unlettered cover of Local Hero Press’s new book Plague by Adrienne Dellwo

To Push, or not to Push

Hello, readers!

Today finds me in a relaxed mood. I know the more time I stay away from the news and social media, the better my mental state becomes. This is no secret. The world is a relentlessly negative place, and while we have to live in it we shouldn’t have to wallow in the muck. Sometimes there is no choice, I get that. Find happiness where you can.

I have two-and-a-half projects in motion currently. The project-and-a-half part is “Story Studios Presents the Changing of the Guard,” a collection of prose stories set in the world “Johnny Saturn” and “Spire City.” There are nine stories in all, written by me, with the exception of “Being Johnny Saturn” which was penned by Benita G. Story.

That’s a whole project, and it’s very near the end of its proofreading cycle. The half project that goes with it is18 black-n-white full-page illustrations that are included in the book. These prints also will serve as the basis of a large-formatted poster book once I’ve painted them all. That’s why I call it a project-and-a-half, because I’m reusing the art for something related.

These days I’m at peace with being a storyteller. I no longer fret about specializing as an artists OR a writer. I’m both. I always have been. No reason to deny it. I see myself as sort of a creative generalist these days.

My other project is a novel called “The Name of the Shadow.” It’s midway through the editing process. It is a medieval fantasy adventure starring a thief named Raeth. I’ll be writing more about this as the project takes center stage.

I am on track to have both of these novels ready for December this year, and I already have two more books in various stages of completion to put out next year. This has been a good creative time for me, but it’s way past the time that I should hunker in and get some stuff done!