Ned Marcus — Blog

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May 25, 2024

History of Religious Ideas

I've just finished Mircea Eliade's A History of Religious Ideas Vol 1. It covers the period from the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries.

With the Stone Age, basically they're guessing. "The documentary evidence is opaque."

I'm not surprised. It goes back over 30,000 years.

The documentary evidence is bones (particularly skulls), objects found in graves, stone tools, and cave paintings. The educated guesses are still interesting.

The book covers Ancient Egypt, the old Iranian religions, the ancient Greek religions, the Old Testament days, and more.

It ends with the Eleusinian Mysteries: the story of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, who was dragged to hell, and only (partially) escaped because Demeter messed up the world's weather systems. Interesting that after the destruction of the last pagan temples in Greece (around 500AD) the ideas continued in mystery traditions and are still alive today in modern day paganism.

Books like this give me many ideas to explore in my stories.

History of Religious Ideas book cover=

May 13, 2024

Evil follows after wrong

"Evil follows after wrong."

Spoken by a Capuchin friar in an old alchemical text. I can't get it out of my mind.

It's a truth I can see playing out around the world. The evil may not come immediately, of course.

The idea has become a motif in my current fantasy story.

A Capuchin friar in a church=

May 10, 2024

Return to the enchanted world

The re-enchantment of the world is not all it seems. The hallucinogenic drugs touted as safe are not all they seem. They call something from a realm that touches ours. At first, you see cool faces and funny things. But then it changes...

black and white faerie=

May 05, 2024

Can we know the future?

The future is indicated not predetermined.

From Blue Prometheus

misty lake with magical light above=

May 01, 2024

My Local Bus Stop

Waiting for a bus to the city...

bus stop by the river in taiwan=

Apr 29, 2024

Our Understanding of Ourselves

I've been rereading Jung's The Undiscovered Self recently. So much that's good here, but one thing stood out was his idea that it's astounding that we (humans) have made ourselves so negligible, despite having achieved so much.

Astronomers love to show the Earth as an insignificant speck in the universe. This is one perspective, but not the only one. I think this view comes about more because of a contempt for religion than anything else.

Jung's point, however, is that we lack understanding of ourselves, which I completely agree with.

man looking at steampunk style inventions=

Apr 27, 2024

My Two Sleeps

I couldn't sleep, so got up at 2:30 AM this morning and began writing. Not bad. I got three hours writing in. I'm moving ahead with my new novel. But I think my sleeping patterns are strange. Perhaps I'm becoming a medieval person.

In medieval times, people used to practice segmented sleep patterns with what they called the first sleep in the evening, and a second sleep in the morning or afternoon.

One difference is that I don't have to put up with bedbugs, lice or fleas.

bed in fantasy=

Apr 22, 2024

What makes you give up on a book?

For me, it's boredom, poor writing, or a story going in a direction I'm not interested in. Mostly, I'd never buy these books. Not after reading a sample. After I buy a book, I'll usually try to push on for a few more chapters, even if I'm bored. Some books, like Dune Messiah, have slow starts but become brilliant later.

If a book is loved by many people, I'll push on a bit further than I otherwise would just in case I'm missing something.

In practice, I don't often give up on books I've bought.

How about you?

library in a tree=

Apr 15, 2024

The Orange Witch

One of my favourite images of the Orange Witch.

the orange witch=

Apr 11, 2024

A Walk by the River

Taking a walk near my house.

view of river in taiwan=

Mar 31, 2024

An Orange Wasteland

An orange wasteland shall cover your world.

Orange Storm

giant desert dune with circle of trees=

Mar 22, 2024

Value of Submitting Short Stories to Magazines

Recently I had an online discussion with another writer who said that we shouldn't accept sub-par payment from fantasy and SF magazines.

I respect this writer for the help he gives other writers, and I agree the payment isn't worth the time and effort put in—not directly. But I disagree that it's therefore not worthwhile submitting short stories to magazines.

There are indirect payments that can potentially be worth much more.

First, is the practice you get writing.

Second, you're tested. And some of the comments from magazines can be quite blunt. On the other hand, when your stories start reaching the final round of consideration more often, you learn which stories are working, too.

The third benefit comes from getting your stories in front of people who would never normally see them. It's a form of marketing that may pay back in the future.

Recently, I've had a sudden increase in people visiting this website from a short story I wrote years ago—The Boatmen—that was originally published in a fantasy forum, and has since been republished as a reprint (and audio). While I don't expect anything to come from it except perhaps an extra sale or two, it's an example of the possible marketing value of submitting stories to magazines.

Mar 15, 2024

Original Blue Prometheus Cover

The original Blue Prometheus cover. Now only to be found in a handful of secondhand bookshops in Taipei.

sailing ship landing on a lake on a distant planet=

Mar 13, 2024

All My Novels Available on Kobo Plus!

Kobo Plus has recently expanded to Taiwan and Hong Kong (this post links to the HK store). Most recently, it's expanded to South Africa and Ireland.

All my novels are there!

Continue reading "All My Novels Available on Kobo Plus!"

Mar 11, 2024

AI God

One of my fears about AI is that it will become a new god, but a god controlled by a rich elite.

AI god=

Mar 07, 2024

The Intelligent Alien Species

"But, most of all, I wanted to meet the intelligent alien species that lived hidden in the great primeval forests of the planet. Of course, now I know it's the humans who are the aliens."

From Young Aina

Mar 06, 2024

A Selkie in the Faeroes

A selkie in the faeroes=

Mar 04, 2024

Frank Herbert on AI

“Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

Frank Herbert, Dune

Frank Herbert 1984=

Continue reading "Frank Herbert on AI"

Mar 03, 2024

The Flowers Glow in Greeting

In the dark forest, the flowers glowed in greeting. Britain had changed.

From The Orange Witch

orange and yellow glowing flowers=

Mar 03, 2024

Smashwords Read an Ebook Week

50% off The Darkling Odyssey and The Orange Witch on Smashwords for one week.

Young Aina is free!

Click over to the Smashwords store and buy at discounted prices!

smash words promotion=

Continue reading "Smashwords Read an Ebook Week"

Mar 01, 2024

The Orange Witch is Summoned

The Orange Witch begins in a ruined church surrounded by an alien forest that has appeared on Earth.

ruined church with magical light coming from the inside=

Feb 26, 2024

Mythical London

My current work in progress is set between two versions of London: a slightly futuristic London that's falling apart and a mythical London that coexists with it.

Both the pictures below are intended as the magical version.

mythical old london=

Feb 23, 2024

Falling into the Depths of the Planet

They fell through the hot and sticky liquid rock, their combined magic lighting them up like a rocket shooting into the depths of the planet.

From The Darkling Odyssey

jet of fire deep within the planet=

Feb 19, 2024

Into Mythic Fiction

My books are always behind me because I change faster than I can write and publish. Looking at my older novels feels like looking back into history.

The novel I'm writing now keeps transforming. Originally, contemporary fantasy, it's becoming closer to mythic fiction. There's a single sci-fi element, too.

Feb 18, 2024

Deception and Terror in the Land Where the Moon Always Shines

Deception and terror in the land where the moon always shines.

I'm playing with different prompts to see how the AI mind interprets them. This one was inspired by a short story I've written.

dark castle in moonlit land=

Feb 16, 2024

C.S. Lewis on Tolkien

I've been reading about English folklore and came across something C.S. Lewis wrote about a remark Tolkien once made to him. It's a very different way of seeing life from nowadays. And fascinating.

Tolkien once remarked to me that the feeling about home must have been quite different in the days when a family had fed on the produce of the same few miles of country for six generations, and that perhaps this was why they saw nymphs in the fountains and dryads in the woods – they were not mistaken for there was in a sense a real (not metaphorical) connection between them and the countryside. What had been earth and air and later corn, and later still bread, really was in them. We of course who live on a standardised international diet (you may have had Canadian flour, English meat, Scotch oatmeal, African oranges, & Australian wine to day) are really artificial beings and have no connection (save in sentiment) with any place on earth. We are synthetic men, uprooted. The strength of the hills is not ours.

Feb 15, 2024

More on Genres

The first choice for most readers was epic fantasy. Contemporary fantasy came second. This doesn't really surprise me. I enjoy both of these.

Since asking, I've been considering other possibilities. Some of them are very different from each other. Two such genres are historical fantasy and science fiction. I like both, but probably one of the stories I most enjoyed writing was a historical fantasy short story set in 7th century Britain.

I enjoyed the research, and the actual task of putting a fantasy story within a real historical period. The historical details, I made as accurate as I could. The fantasy is obviously fantasy, but I tamed down the magic a lot. Actually, I can't imagine writing any big magic in a historical fantasy.

Feb 12, 2024

Your Favourite Genres!

Which do you prefer: science fantasy, contemporary fantasy, epic fantasy, or planetary romance?

Or something else?

Leave a message at the bottom of this page or on my social media...

amazing science fantasy

Feb 10, 2024

Blue Prometheus Reaches Top 10

Blue Prometheus has reached the Top 10 on Kobo UK for fantasy and sci-fi!

You can try it here for just £0.99!

Continue reading "Blue Prometheus Reaches Top 10"

Jan 29, 2024

Fantasy in Chinese for Language Learning

As well as journaling and using my own stories to help me learn new languages, I also like reading easy stories that I used to love as a child, but in Chinese or Spanish.

When I was a child, I absolutely loved C.S. Lewis's Narnia books. I read and reread them so many times. Using a similar approach when learning a foreign language also works well. Just as children (and sometimes adults too) love to reread their favourite stories, making them their own, so it's really useful when you want to make a new language your own.

Here are a couple of examples I've been using with my Chinese learning.

The first is a simple children's book. To be honest, the story's not too exciting for me, but it's useful as I can understand about 85% of the characters. Often, this approach is known as using comprehensible input to learn a language. Although I feel a little bored with the mummy book, it does give me useful practice.

With the Narnia book—A Horse and His Boy—my understanding drops a lot. This is a kind of 'incomprehensible' input. I open the book to a random page, and then read what I can. My understanding drops to about 15%, but I slowly recognise more characters. And, in this case, I actually do like the story, even though I'm no longer a child.

I'd love to hear if you've ever used fantasy (or SF) to learn a foreign language.

children's fantasy covers in Chinese

Jan 25, 2024

Language Learning with My Stories

Recently, I've been experimenting with new ways of learning languages. I've always enjoyed journaling in English, and I've begun to do the same in the two languages I'm working on at the moment.

Making another language your own is one of the best ways of learning it. I've come across people who create stories to practice the vocabulary and grammar in the language they're learning. I want to do the same in the future, but I also thought it'd be fun to translate some short stories—or parts of them—that I've written in English into other languages.

I've used Google Translate. It's quite good, but not perfect. I'll check the details later, but I'm enjoying playing the audio version. The next step will be to work on the written form.

Here's the very beginning of Young Aina in Chinese:

我很早就醒了,從床上跳了起來。 那是我十二歲生日,父親答應帶我飛越山牆,飛到下面的山谷。 我高興得幾乎要叫出來,但當妹妹在睡夢中醒來時,我及時制止了自己。

And in Spanish:

Me levanté temprano y salté de la cama. Era mi duodécimo cumpleaños y mi padre había prometido llevarme en avión más allá de la pared de la montaña y hacia el valle. Casi grité de alegría, pero me detuve justo a tiempo cuando mi hermana menor se despertó en sueños.

Do you learn or speak any other languages?

Jan 21, 2024

3 Books in Kobo Sale!

25% off The Darkling Odyssey, The Orange Witch, and the complete Blue Prometheus boxset on Kobo until the 29th January!

Add the promo code JANSALE at checkout to receive the discount.

Continue reading "3 Books in Kobo Sale!"

Jan 18, 2024

Around Shiding

A walk to the shops near my house. My best ideas come when I'm taking break.

river in shiding=

Jan 17, 2024

Kobo Sale!

25% off The Darkling Odyssey, The Orange Witch, and the Blue Prometheus boxset on Kobo from the 19th to 29th of January!

A good opportunity to buy the second book in each series, or the first series boxset.

Links to The Darkling Odyssey.

Continue reading "Kobo Sale!"

Jan 16, 2024

A Re-enchanted World (2)

Another image from my work in progress. The re-enchanted world is being brought alive through people's desires, and through increased drug use.

The result may not be as attractive as it seems.

a fairy in an enchanted world=

Jan 05, 2024

Another Image from the Enchanted World

a fairy in an enchanted world=

Jan 02, 2024

A Re-enchanted World

In 2024, I want to focus on longer fiction after spending a lot of time last year experimenting with short stories.

My new novel's a story about the re-enchantment of the world. Faeries and other supernatural creatures have returned, partly because of the collapse of values and increasing chaos in the human world. The increasing use of drugs society only accelerates the problem.

a fairy in an enchanted world=

Dec 28, 2023

Young Aina on Sale!

Young Aina is on sale at Smashwords—till January 1st. Reduced from $0.99 to free!

Aina and her father are pursued deep into the ancient forest by a deadly enemy. To her father’s concern, the forest speaks to his daughter, awakening a natural magic within her. Will Aina’s magic awaken in time to save the lives of both her and her father?

a panther approaches a young woman in an alien forest=

Continue reading "Young Aina on Sale!"

Dec 14, 2023

An Offer of Redemption

When an investigative reporter arrives at the house of a corrupt politician, one who's rumoured to practice black magic, he's surprised to see a woman standing in his living room challenging him.

Continue reading "An Offer of Redemption"

Dec 11, 2023

An Orange Flower Glowed in Greeting

She touched an orange flower, and it brightened in response.

From The Orange Witch

an orange flower glows in the dark forest=

Dec 05, 2023

The Magic of Charm

Charm was one of the most enjoyable types of magic, and she waited while her magic worked its way into the man. His energy was dense, and warmth was alien to him. He began to brush off her charm, but she sensed cracks in his armour, and through those cracks she poured love. Nothing sentimental or romantic. Simply the fulfilment of need, of which this deprived man had many. For a moment, she became a healer. Confused, he blinked away a tear, and she entered the lower reception.

From The Orange Witch

beautiful woman in armour. a blue light around her heart=

Dec 01, 2023

A Flight of Rocs

A flight of rocs landed breathing fire. Each of the birds radiated power, and each stood twice the height of a human.

From Fire Rising

a flight of fire-breathing rocs=

Nov 26, 2023

Hobs n Dogs

NightCafe_Hobs garden sprites

Hobs n' Dogs is a short story in which an old man is visited by two hobs who entrust him with the care of some very unusual creatures

Continue reading "Hobs n Dogs"

Nov 25, 2023

A Gathering in the Inn of the Sixth Heaven

In a candlelit inn, on a hidden lane in London, a gathering of magicians, princes, seers, and spies takes place.

An imagined scene from my work in progress, which I'm writing as part of the Nanowrimo month.

gathering of magicians in london inn=

Nov 23, 2023

A Telepathic Dog

“Food?” the dog asked in the True Language.

Lucy was taken aback. It was rare for an animal to initiate a telepathic conversation with a human. “No, I’m sorry.” Unsure what else to say, she waited.

From Fire Rising

black telepathic dog=

Nov 22, 2023

Nineteen Eighty-Four

I'm currently rereading Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. It's been a long time since I last read the novel. It's a bit dry, but still good. I'd forgotten the secret romance.

In part, it's research, because my new novel also has some dystopian themes.

This is the old Penguin edition.

old penguin cover of 1984=

Nov 21, 2023

Rock Magic

He studied the crystals. They were midnight blue and beautiful. Their life pulsed in his hand, and he stroked them with soft rock magic, polishing them. “They want to grow.”

Thomas using rock magic, from Fire Rising

blue crystals growing=

Nov 17, 2023

Lucy is Concerned about Thomas's Dark Dreams

“She’s dead, Thomas. If she was reborn, she’d be a baby. How would you find her amongst the millions of babies born every day? And then she wouldn’t know you. Thomas, stop this. You’re worrying me.”

From Fire Rising after Lucy tells him that dreams don't raise the dead.

surrealistic fantasy forest on alien planet=

Nov 16, 2023

Dreams Don't Raise the Dead

“Dreams don’t raise the dead.” Lucy was sweating heavily; she wiped dirt from her face.

“The Aina you saw was spirit.”

“But . . .”

From Fire Rising

surrealistic fantasy forest with planet rising in the sky=

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