Music Mondays: Part VIII

Happy Leap Day!

I am quite busy this week, so I only have two writing playlist suggestions.

This particular mix was inspired by a W.B. Yeats poem, “He Wishes For The Cloths of Heaven.”

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Drawing from great classic composers like Edward Elgar and Sergei Prokofiev and modern musicians like James Galway and John Williams, this is the perfect mix for dreaming up extraordinary worlds.

For every good dream there is a nightmare, and this next mix plays to your inner demons. Dark, brooding, and at times jarring, writing tales of infernal odds and corrupted characters will only feel natural when listening to this playlist.

Happy writing! 🙂


this night

the room sulks in sheer shades of blue and gray
and you talk through curtains of shadows
these sheets feel like paper between my fingertips
but I listen as your voice lays low under your chin
you’re closer now and I don’t know where to look
your lips, your eyes — everywhere adds inertia to the top
that spins within my mind
your forehead, your ears, your nose — no
it only magnifies the shimmery something that quivers within me
your hands, they undo me
my tongue tangles words and you laugh as I squirm
your lips sell me on silence
but then you pull away and I don’t like it
the feeling of you not being there, the empty space I cannot bear
the firelight kisses your face
and that simply isn’t fair

my dreams this night are beautifully blank
my arms this night are beautifully full
and I wake beautifully blissful

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

The Mythmaker


The Mythmaker’s hands smelled like the dust that caught in the creeping light of morning. Like fabric and unwashed skin and waking. The fingers of his right hand were braided with veins, veins that popped his knuckles out like knots of wood, worked tough and solid from gripping his pen and dipping his ink a hundred times a day. The fingers of his left hand were cold, always cold, from forever reaching into those shadowy parts of the night.

His hands, that was the first thing you’d notice about him.

He made the moon his mistress
in the fated folds of night.
The stars, they were his courtiers
in the drafting of birthrights.
He read the sky and coaxed her
from the dark into the light.
From them he gathered destinies;
from them he gained his sight.

The Mythmaker was a very old man. In his youth he had seen the stars pop into being like water bugs dimpling still water. He could not remember what was before the stars, but he remembered all that came after. The water bugs stirred and chattered and rippled the dark. When that very first ripple welled, he caught it with the tip of his finger and wore it as a ring. He now had thousands of rings, singing against each other on his fingers, and plenty of room left for more.

He was a little man, with bones built like the body of a flute, hollow and whistling. The millenniums had carved the divot into his nape, sculpted the hunch into his spine. He liked to make boasts of once having black hair, radiant as the unclouded night. But that was so long ago, and his liver-spotted scalp told another story.

His age, that was the second thing you’d notice about him.

Astrologer, they called him —
the man who loved too hard.
A romancer of destiny,
the night sky’s only bard.
But he, he knew the truth of it,
of why he held his guard —
to wean from constellations
their secrets, long since scarred.

The Mythmaker had never left his tower. He had been so high up for so long that the below had become a mystery to him, a myth even feebler than the moon that shimmered at the end of his fingertips. But it made no matter what happened on the ground, for he only ever needed to look up.

He spent his nights reading the stars, tracking dances across the sky, naming clusters and systems, painting patterns that emerged against a backdrop of dust and dark matter. Everything he needed to know about that unknown below, he knew from them. And he wrote it all down, everything, in his book.

An old sun, white and withered, plucked from the night with a sigh. A long, unexceptional life, slipped into death unnoticed. Two stars collide around a void at the heart of the galaxy, and emerge as one. Two families feuded for position, and pulled away joined by their children. The moon wakes red and swollen, slow to cross the night. A soul woke dripping with blood, slow to know her peril.

He wrote down the fates of people that he would never meet, dictated the birth and destruction of nations that he would never see rise or fall. His rings rattled when he dipped his pen into the ink, and his heart fluttered as he wrote their stories. Their stories of salt and stains and shimmery somethings that gleamed in the stars and dripped at the corners of his eyes.

His elbows squeaked against his desk. The scratches of his pen punctuated the silence that hung over the world, the silence that he would whisper fair words into until his voice fissured. And though he loved the night, he loved the stories she gave him more. Stories about treachery and romance and macabre. Stories that swelled and multiplied and rippled, but retreated into the dark as quickly as they came. Stories about a below that he could never touch.

His loneliness, that was the third thing you’d notice about him.

Lady moon, she bore her dark side,
but he, he turned her round,
and leapt to kiss her cratered face
to taste tomorrow bound.
The stars, they shyly winked at him,
but he, he heard the sound
of a future falling from great heights,
a sun crashing to the ground.

The Mythmaker cried out when the book slipped from his fingers. He had lifted it from his desk to catch the moonlight on the blank page, because in that moment he swore to himself that he saw something flicker on the leg of his k, in the loop of his o, across the arch of his h. It was not wind that stole the book from his fingers (for there had never been wind before), nor was it an error of coordination (for he was old, but not unbalanced). No, what spun his book of fates over the edge of the tower was something much more visceral. The fingers of his right hand seized into stone, and then the muscles spasmed and his grip weakened. The fingers of his left hand drained of blood, and then the skin turned white and his hold deadened.

The book hurtled into the void, flapping piteously, like a canary shot between the ribs.

Perhaps it was meant to go like that. As an accident, a freak twitch of thumb, a numbing of palm. Perhaps it was meant to be that the hand that wrote and the hand that reached betrayed him both.

He did not think of that in the seconds it took for the book to become swallowed by the below. He only thought of the million mysteries that breathed and lived and died and decayed down there. He thought of what it would mean for them to have the book, to read the book, to know their fates and the history of everything that ever was or ever would be.

His dread, that was the fourth thing you’d notice about him.

Mythmaker, they called him —
the man who tempted fate.
A philanderer of futures,
a seducer of great stakes.
But he, he knew the truth of it,
of how his dalliances narrate
the crossing of impending stars
in the sealing of soul mates.

The Mythmaker reached after the crumpled canary book with hands that smelled like the dust that caught in the creeping light of morning. Like fabric and unwashed skin and waking.

And he fell.

He thought it funny, how calm he was as he plunged down the neck of the tower, away from the amorous breadth of night, away from his desk and his ink and his solitude, and towards, no less, a land he knew everything about but nothing of what it looked or smelled or tasted like.

He thought it funny, how he had spent his endless existence finding fortunes in the sky and understanding how destiny worked, and still — he had not seen this. He knew that the night kept no secrets and that it always revealed a purpose, though he fell, with his hands first, for nothing.

He thought it petrifying, that his book could touch the ground.

And he fell and he reached, with fingers that sang with a thousand rings.

His hands, that was the last thing you’d notice about him.

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

Image credit: “The Dark Tower: The Long Road” by Michael Whelan

Practicing Perceptions

You press your perceptions
of me into air-dry clay;
shall I count the ways?
I am proficient
(occasional higher level learning, you say;
but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, you say).
I am reserved parking
(easy to exit and others keep out, you say;
easy to drop off and pick up right away).
I am not temperature controlled
(a bob cat in heat when the moment strikes, you say;
but beneath all that fire’s an empty rib cage).
I am an isolated car seat
(ripped from the vehicle, tossed onto the street, you say;
more free stuff to ride in this great game of life, hey).
I am a work of heart
(a piece of work, for the start, you say;
I poke and you’re a deflated globe, you say).
I am ‘my world’
(your world, that is, you say;
you’ve only ever loved yourself, anyway).
You map your longing for me
like I’m a primary atlas;
so long, I’ve put it into practice.

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

His Perishing Flesh

“You found me.” by MalinMellryd

What withered thumb marks the
ash on my temple,
streaking the remains  of
his perishing flesh? I cannot
call his name — indeed,
it would steal my breath.
Neither crucifix nor holy
stain, his dust does not
stir lenten requiems, but rather
dark and furled refrains that
bounce against these sacred walls.
That is not all — he leaves
me smoke, bitter incense without
the chants; I kneel in wait,
but I do not pray. I do not sing —
in truth, I can’t. His mossy teeth
protect no tongue, and his hand,
it marks my face with ash. Silently,
he reaches near to enfold me in
his perishing flesh.

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

Top 10 Worldbuilding Resources for Writers


Imagine that you’ve just sat down to dinner and someone sets an enormous plate of all your favorite foods in front of you. Mmm. For me, it would be baked ziti, my dad’s famous purple potatoes, and bread. Lots and lots of bread.

Supporting everything — from the meaty bits to the peas and corn to the loaded baked potato — is your trusty, sturdy plate. Your plate might be beneath everything, it might be obscured by the pasta or muddied by the gravy, but it’s everywhere, upholding everything, keeping it all together, all the time. Your plate is vital to your dining experience, even though it’s not the part that you actually eat.

In fiction writing, the surrounding world is vital to your reading experience, even though it’s not the center of the actual plot.

The plate is the world, the ziti and potatoes are your plot and characters, and this is my attempt at a worldbuilding metaphor.

Terrible analogies aside (I apologize profusely), I’ve compiled a few of my favorite go-to sites for inspiring rich worlds in my writing. Dig in!

1. For names:

A list of this nature would not be complete if I didn’t introduce you all to FANTASY NAME GENERATORS

Holy mother of Middle Earth, this site never ceases to amaze me. From every fantasy, sci-fi, realistic, and ridiculous character name you can think of to the names of bridges, film studios, space stations, weapons and the like, FANTASY NAME GENERATORS has everything you need to get started on this vast worldbuilding frontier.

If you’re suffering severe writer’s block, they even have description generators of castles, societies, cultures, holidays, and diseases.

2. For beginnings:

Behold the majestic CHAOTIC SHINY, for here all great nations are born!

Ok, but seriously, this site has made me think about worldbuilding in ways that I never thought possible. Here you can build constellations, establish laws, develop civilizations, and map out demographics.

My advice would be to play around with some of the generators until something piques your interest (I found the crowd generator very helpful for writing descriptions of citizens in a village), and then see where it takes you!

3. For languages:

What’s the saying? “The limits of my language are the limits of my world” [x]. Well, never fear, because now your world can be limitless as you craft languages with SCRIBOLY.

Building a language from scratch is no easy feat, and depending on the depth of which you want to go in your writing, it doesn’t have to be time-consuming! Maybe a character will sprinkle their speech with foreign words, or maybe the language is only used in passing. To keep the meaning and syntax consistent, try out SCRIBOLY by typing in your desired phonemes and translating your text.

No world is dominated by just one language, so if you have more than one culture/civilization, play around with the word patterns and see what unique sounds you can generate.

4. For maps:

Beware! Here be maps at POLYGON MAP GENERATION

If you can’t seem to get a solid image of what the geography of your world looks like, flip through some random map designs until you find one that works for you. Knowing the layout of your world is important for keeping cities, trade routes, and ports consistent as your character traverses the land.

5. For religions:

Every respectable universe needs to have an abundance of religions to tear it apart. Or maybe it’s one to unite it? You decide at BELIEF SYSTEM GENERATOR.

This site is especially interesting because it breaks down the origins of your world according to beliefs, minor/major deities, nuances in afterlife, morals, rituals, and clergy. Again, I’m not saying that you should copy every detail that you randomly generate — it’s just a great place to start.

What’s more, you can even compare multiple religions side by side to see how they might interact in your potential world.

6. For mythology:

A lot of what shapes culture comes from the wild tangles of imagination and the supernatural. Draw from a plethora of real world myths to inspire your own folklore and legends at ANCIENT MYTHOLOGY.

It was at this site that I first read about Zoroastrianism, and from there was inspired to create a series of fables for my novel. Most of what we create is based off history, so why not take a look at some of Mother Earth’s greatest stories? May it be Japanese mythology or Mesopotamian superstitions, I’m sure that something in the archives of ANCIENT MYTHOLOGY will inspire you.

7. For tropes:

Some writers try to avoid tropes like the plague. I say, take advantage of them! Find something done before and make it your own at TV TROPES.

Explore different world settings (Medieval European Fantasy or Space Opera?), cultural ticks (Martyrdom Culture or Immortality Seeker?), and religious whims (Robot Religion or Easy Evangelism?). Of course, I’m not advocating for anyone to adopt these tropes (they’re called tropes for a reason — because they’re overdone), but I think that sometimes the most ground-breaking, striking worlds are ones that take tropes and twist them.

giphy (1).gif

8. For questions to answer:

SFWA has composed an extensive and impressive list of questions to keep in mind when worldbuilding. Please, read through the questions. You’d be surprised at some of the seemingly mundane things that really make a world pop.

9. For asking questions:

Can’t come up with the right answer to one of those questions? Go ahead and ask it at STACK EXCHANGE WORLDBUILDING. This is a great site for getting technical. I myself am woefully uninformed on physics, and if not for these forums, my world would probably lack gravity.

10. For music:

What’s a rich world without a rich soundtrack? Head on over to 8TRACKS or another internet radio of your choice and check out the fantasy, writing, and soundtrack tags. Sometimes, the right mood music can get you in the right frame of mind for making up cultures.

Be sure to check out my personal music suggestions on Music Mondays!


Ah, there’s nothing like a hearty plate of well-done worldbuilding.

Good luck, and happy writing! 🙂

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

Music Mondays: Writing Playlists Part VII

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

E. L. Doctorow

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t read much of Doctorow’s work, though for some reason, this quote has always stuck with me. Writing, in a lot of ways, is like feeling around blindly in the dark, where you can’t see any further than your fingertips. You’ll get to your destination eventually, but it’s ok to not know everything that’s going on around you all the time. It’s ok to just let your writing take you for a midnight drive.

In the spirit of traversing the foreboding and empty highways of writing, here are four knock-out instrumental playlists. Who knows? Maybe one of them will serve as your next road trip mix!

First up is an old on-the-go favorite of wanderers, vagabonds, and weary drifters from all walks of life. This Celtic-inspired fantasy mix will take you from snow-capped mountains of Middle Earth to merry taverns of back alleyways.

Ah, so you’re not the ‘walking’ type. Prefer stretching your sea legs to staying land bound? If so, then lend an ear to this playlist: it’s got still skies, restless shanties, boiling hurricanes, and enough sea salt to season your spirit for a lifetime.

Perhaps physical transportation just doesn’t entice your immortal tastebuds. I mean, who has time for ships and horses and, heaven forbid, legs? Whether you’re feeling like you can control the fates of the night sky or are just craving a bit of all-powerful omniscience, then this instrumental mix is perfect for you.

Now, for a change in pace! Gosh darn it, you are on a freakin’ roll with your writing. You are winding down those narrow, single lane streets in the dead of night, unafraid and confident behind the wheel. Here’s the perfect soundtrack to that rush — a compilation of high-energy, head-banging pieces with an instrumental twist!

Happy writing! 🙂

The Lotus-Eaters

Lotus-eatersIn sleep
there are no mysteries
that dash and dim the glass of dreams.

In sleep
there are just reveries
that unwind the truth for what it seems.

Come sleep,
and drink sweet lethargy.
Come sleep,
and taste our apathy.

This lotus smells of yesterday.
(A portside sigh, fare her goodbye).
Wake up, you are a castaway!
(Tastes of bliss, don’t forget her kiss).
Bodies on the beach recline
(What was before? Are we ashore?),
drunk off the gods’ own wine
(No need to know; you need to slow).
Wake! To Ithaca we sail in force!
(Islanders pry, ‘lie under sky’).
North winds: blown us from our course!
(Fruit they bear, soft sleep ensnares).
Get up, you reek of lotus flower.
(There’s no return, the berry burns).
Get up, this is your final hour.
(Roused too early, weep bitterly).

Come sleep,
and drink sweet lethargy.
Come sleep,
and taste our apathy.

In sleep
there are no mysteries
that dash and dim the glass of dreams.

In sleep
there are just reveries
that unwind the truth for what it seems.

© 2016 Stellular Scribe