Reading Challenge: WorldEmber 2022 | E. Christopher Clark

Reading Challenge: WorldEmber 2022

For the second year in a row, the fine folks at World Anvil have challenged worldbuilders like me to throw the spotlight on some of our favorite articles from the competition. This year, however, they’ve added the wrinkle of proclaiming some New Year’s Resolutions as well.


I think I did that last year anyway, but this year it’s officially part of the challenge.


Anyway… let’s highlight some of my favorites first, then I’ll get back to talking about myself.



10 Articles to Rule Them All…

…but not really. These are just some of the amazing articles I read from WorldEmber—and I’ve still got more to read in my World Anvil Reading List.


01. “Sgt. Kill Flayer” by Kitoypoy

Sgt. Kill Flayer
Character | Sep 17, 2023

The gruff no-nonsense co-head instructor at Gold Arrow Station. He isn't afraid to tell it how it is.

Sgt. Kill Flayer is one of my favorite parts of Kitoypoy’s world. Though I don’t think he comments on every article Kit writes, Sarge is there often enough that I open every article on the World of Wizard’s Peak with a sense of wonder. What will Sarge say this time? And will he make me snort coffee out of my nose while laughing?


So, to get a whole article on Sgt. Kill Flayer? Glorious!


But, while I’m talking about Kit, I also want to give a shout-out to his piece on the “Talin Islands.” Building off the work he began with his “On the Shoulders of Giants” piece (“Talino”), Kit takes us further into a corner of his world that I believe is very heavily inspired by his own Filipino heritage. And it’s this, Kit’s ability to be both reverent and irreverent in equal measure, that I aspire to.

02. “Patronage” by Qurilion

Tradition / Ritual | Dec 4, 2022

Patronage is a long-term contract between mages and the powerful, alien beings from the Beyond, trading power and knowledge in exchange for whatever whim those creatures tend towards.

There is a lot to love here, but I’m going to focus on the sidebar—an area of weakness for me. As I wrote to Q in the comments, “I loved reading about the distinction between pacts and patronage,” and upon reviewing this piece a few weeks later I realize that the whole bit about pacts is in the sidebar.


I never quite know what to put in the sidebar of my own articles, so I’ll be returning to this one for inspiration.


03. “Simple Cybernetics” by Dani Adventures

Simple Cybernetics
Technology / Science | Jan 21, 2023

From medical necessities to elective enhancements, cybernetics are a common occurrence in the Centralvest Zone of Luridity, and becoming more popular as the Zone's technological influence makes its way across the stars.

This is one of the most comprehensive articles I’ve read on World Anvil—not just during WorldEmber 2022, but ever. As I wrote in my comment to Dani, it reads like “a page from a TTRPG manual that I would dog-ear and come back to again and again while creating characters.” In that way, it reminds me how a little more effort can transform something from a thing I’m writing for the web to something that could end up in a book.


04. “Oddes Shoppe Charms” by Dazzlinkat

Oddes Shoppe Charms
Item | Dec 28, 2023

I can’t remember if this was the first article by Dazzlinkat I read during WorldEmber, or not. In any case, the delightful details in this one remind me to never stop including such things in my own world. Even while Dazz was also writing giant mythologies and big sweeping stuff during other parts of WorldEmber, she never forgot about the little things like the “tripster bell.”


05. “T’kalia” by Stormbril

Character | Dec 27, 2022

The ex-god of Time and Information and once partner-architect of the Comprilith; run through with his own Spear of Time, caught in an endless moment of agony.

The image of sand pouring from a giant god husk’s eyes, both the visual image and the image Stormbril conjured with words, is arresting. I think there are a lot of us in the World Anvil community who aspire to the level of professionalism and creativity that Stormbril brings to every piece, but it’s hard not to just stare in awe. It’s hard to remember that we’re not going to get there ourselves unless we study what Stormbril’s done, unless we pick it apart and ask “how did he make us feel this way?” and “what techniques did he use that I can apply to my own writing?”


I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but the main thing I want to emulate here is the seamless integration of art and text. I like the art I’m creating. I like the text I’m writing. But they always feel a bit more separated from each other than what I see in excellent articles like this one by Stormbril.


06. “Kamorda” by Satrium

Settlement | Mar 3, 2024

This city, built high into the mountains, was founded to secure the peace between the Dwarves of Roxtoi and the Elves in the South. Even if both empires are long gone, the city remains and has not fallen since it's founding thousands of years ago

Dimitris’ challenges this December were a wonderful treat, an unexpected gift during a month when it already feels like World Anvil is giving us so much. And to see Satrium embracing the challenge and getting so much worldbuilding goodness out of it was a delight. This one reminds me that I need to save up my own anvil points on Twitch so I can ask Dimi for a challenge next time around.


07. “Tea Witch” by Emily Armstrong

Tea Witch
Profession | Mar 16, 2024

Each of Emily Armstrong’s worlds feels like such a solid concept that it’s hard to believe they haven’t always existed, and the world of Culinarypunk is particularly tasty. What this article about tea witches reminds me to do is to embrace the particulars of my world, so that a little bit of the world comes through in every article. That is going to mean I need to more carefully solidify a pitch/value proposition for the world, so that I know what I’m trying to give folks a little bit of, but I need to do that anyway.


08. “Grand Wizard Kitoypoy” by DrunkenPanda951

Grand Wizard Kitoypoy
Character | Dec 2, 2023

I really wanted to do the advent calendar prompt which asked us to write a World Anvil community member into our world, especially after seeing this one from DrunkenPanda951. I love how much fun is being had here, and this one reminds me that I need to continue to have fun in my own world at all times.


09. “Shapeshifters” by Serukis

Species | Dec 17, 2023

One of the four sapient species of Etrea, shapeshifters are distinguished by their ability to change into another animal.

It looks like Serukis wasn’t able to finish WorldEmber, but that fact just makes me love this article more. I’ll take every bit of Serukis worldbuilding I can get, but I’m also quite happy to wait if the author is going through a rough patch or trying to more carefully strike a balance between work and life.


We all write at different paces, we all have different things going on in our life, and sometimes one really good article—like this one about shapeshifters—is better than a dozen messier ones.


10. “Clifian Phalanx” by Cow2Face

Clifian Phalanx
Military Formation | Dec 6, 2022

For me, this article nails the concept of “military formation”—which is an article type I’ve always struggled with. I loved the diagrams. Those, especially, felt like a revelation to me. I know I’ve seen them elsewhere too, but the way Cow2Face keeps the article short and still manages to include diagrams was fantastic.



Some Extra Shout-Outs

And here are some folks who each wrote too many gosh-darned good things in December that I couldn’t pick just one of their articles to share above.

And that’s not even everyone whose work blew me away this month, just the folks who my addled brain is remembering at this moment—after nine straight 12-hour days at work.



New Year’s Resolutions

I am definitely overthinking this, trying to come up with three things that will make anyone reading this ooh and ahh. But while I will include three things below, I want to begin by sharing a phrase that I want to be my mantra for 2023: room to breathe.


I’ve spent the last several years trying to finish up my Stains of Time book series—which I did, in September 2022, with the release of The Dance of Dreams (now out in audio!). And so, as I look forward to 2023, one thing I want to do above all else is give myself more patience and grace when it comes to figuring out what’s next.


I do have ambitions to finally start on that comic book I’ve been threatening to create for ages, and to finally start writing fiction in the world of Eden that I’ve been building since joining World Anvil in late 2018, but I don’t want to rush anything. I want to take it slow and easy.


Anyway, here’s the three resolutions:


01. Don’t spend money I don’t have

Entering 2023, I find my family and my business deep in debt once again. We have a plan to get out of it, but I really need to double down on not spending any money on the business unless the business is making at least that much money each month.


I’ve already stripped back my expenses as much as I think I can, but there remains one big one I could get rid of—but that I desperately don’t want to lose—and that’s my World Anvil subscription. We’ll see. This place is so important to my mental health right now that I might just chalk it up as a medical expense instead of a business expense. That’s how much I need this place and this community.


02. Don’t release anything without a plan

As my viewers on Twitch and anyone who’s seen me around the various World Anvil social channels will know, I suck at marketing my work. I feel icky about the potential for overdoing it and I feel incredibly insecure that I’m going to finally get past the icky feeling only to be told by people “We don’t care.”


I think a big part of my struggles with marketing is that I don’t give myself enough time, and that I forget to share my good news with folks who have specifically asked for it: Dimi and Janet, for example, and the folks from my MFA alumni association as well. And so, I feel like if I plan better—and make sure my plans are made well enough in advance—a lot of my struggles will be easier to overcome.


03. Be kind to myself

I just finished a twenty-five year long writing process with The Stains of Time, and while I’m incredibly proud of it I tend to focus instead on how badly I marketed the final book (and all the books after the first one really). In 2023, I want to be kinder to myself and more respectful of all that I’ve accomplished.

My Fellow Anvilites
Some of their best WorldEmber 2022 articles
January 1–28, 2023
Right here
You ask a lot of questions.
Weeks after writing the initial list, because January has been crazy


Please Login in order to comment!
Jan 17, 2023 13:43 by TJ Trewin

An excellent set of inspiring articles! Good luck with your goals for this year :)

Journals of Yesteryear

Please consider voting for me in the 2024 Worldbuilding Awards!
Jan 17, 2023 17:51 by E. Christopher Clark

Thank you. And oh, wow, I just realized I didn't include "Gauntlet," which was probably my favorite article of the month. So sorry!

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jan 17, 2023 20:00 by TJ Trewin

thanks!! no worries - there are so many incredible articles out there it's hard to keep track of them all :D

Journals of Yesteryear

Please consider voting for me in the 2024 Worldbuilding Awards!
Jan 17, 2023 17:30 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Aw, thank you for the kind words. I am so glad you liked the article. Some great choices from others too!   Yes, definitely be kinder to yourself this year. You did a *massive* thing finishing that book series, and you deserve to be proud of yourself for that.   Good luck in 2023!

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jan 17, 2023 17:52 by E. Christopher Clark

Thanks for reading and yes, here's to a great 2023 for both of us (and anyone else who might be reading this)!

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jan 17, 2023 22:27 by Chris L

Thank you for joining me in my efforts to put Sgt. Kill Flayer (Sgt. Kill Flayer to his friends) over! This is his world, we just get to live in it!

Learn about the World of Wizard's Peak and check out my award winning article about the Ghost Boy of Kirinal!

Jan 18, 2023 01:18 by E. Christopher Clark

Yes, indeed. Reporting for duty!

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jan 18, 2023 18:34 by Stormbril

Thank you for the incredibly high praise, Chris! And it's an honor to be selected among these other amazing articles.   Your resolutions resonate as well -- especially the part about being kind to ones self. It's so easy to let the braingoblins have too much power these days, and so it's important to remember to be kind and care about yourself, so I'm glad to see that!

Jan 19, 2023 11:53 by E. Christopher Clark

Oh, you're so welcome. And I'm glad the resolutions resonated. So far so good on that front. I definitely feel myself sticking to that resolution so far, and it's nice to not be so mean for a change.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jan 20, 2023 00:45

Hey ECC! Very nice review. I found what you said about Stormbril's article especially right, there is a lot to analyze in the ways he makes each paragraph compelling and attractive. I have to disagree with the use of dog ears in manuals though. Preposterous!   Thank you for your mention of my content, I'm glad you enjoy it! I wish you the best in accomplishing your year's goals, and I hope your problems ease themselves soon. Be kind to yourself, definitely.

Jan 20, 2023 12:07 by E. Christopher Clark

Thanks so much for the comment. Regarding dog ears in manuals, my mother-in-law gave me a tin of these little book markers one holiday season which you can slip onto the corner of a page (like a paper clip, but cooler and in gold) without damaging the page. Now I use them rather than folding down the corners.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jan 20, 2023 17:24 by Dani

Aaaaa thank you Chris, SO much! <3 You have good changes in mind for the year to come, especially in being kind to yourself and building some ease into your days. You've got this--even if the things we'd like to see for ourselves feel like they're creeping along slower than we'd like, things are moving in the right direction. I hope that everything 2023 brings you new words, welcome joy, and delighted readers.

You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
Luridity: Where love is love and life is lived. Contains NSFW content.
Now with serialized fiction on Ream!!
Jan 22, 2023 14:39 by E. Christopher Clark

Thanks for checking this out and for the encouraging words. Here's to a good year!

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Powered by World Anvil