So while I'm working on getting book 1 (The Hidden Blade) into publication, I've started working on book 2 (The Ducal Heir). It's a very different beast from THB. In THB, the focus is on the main character, Louis and his actions as an assassin. Mostly THB serves as an introduction to the Empire and the characters in play. It's a getting your feet wet fantasy adventure story.
Book 2 focuses on politics.
Politics, in case you were wondering, is hard to write! Every line of dialogue has to be considered three times to add the right amount of hidden meaning. A gesture isn't just a gesture, it's done deliberately to imply something or threaten someone or otherwise play into the political narrative.
It got easier once I came up with a way for nobles to easily be able to identify who they were talking with due to the invention of the Noble Sash, also called the Blood Sash or the Sash of the Blood.
I detailed the Sash over on World Anvil: https://www.worldanvil.com/w/empire-of-lumiaron-mariemullany/a/the-noble-sash-item?preview=true? as part of their competition for May 2021.
The TL;DR version is:
The Sash worn by nobles of the Empire of Lumiaron can identify one's rank and house affiliation at a single glance, to those who know how to read the Sash. This item of clothing is sometimes called: The Blooded Sash or The Sash of the Blood as well.
I also commissioned some art for the Sash:
The crest on the Sash and the Azure color show that the wearer is a noble from Laroche.
The snake coat of arms shows that he is related to the de la Roche family, the ducal family of Laroche.
The fretted coup shows that he is of the noble rank of Marquis.
The gules (red) tassel shows that he has passed the Trials of Dusang
The purpure (purple) hatching shows that he is a close blood relative of the Duchess of Laroche.
Once I had the sashes, I could start playing with the words and the details around those and it became much, much easier. Also, they made really pretty images in my mind and its easier to right if you have good pictures in your mind!
So my advise to you if writing politics, visual cues are your friend. My advise to you if reading politics... be kind. The author probably read every single word of dialogue at least five times before they even released it to the beta readers!
If you're interested in the heraldry, I posted a short video over on YouTube about the Empire's rules around sigils:
Speaking of YouTube, I'm currently a little over halfway on my series of religion in fantasy, you can check out the play list here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqKDOOvbVI-rXd-66-C9NIlC78hLP1UPw
And that's where I stand this month of May 2021! Stay safe, wear a mask, get vaccinated and be kind to each other.