Fantasy Art Friday

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Friday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.


“Tranquility” is the title, and at first glance this place does look tranquil. The lush green of the landscape, the slowly flowing stream. Could be a nice place to idle on a warm afternoon.  Perhaps wade through the cool water…find a few colorful rocks, or watch small fish swimming in the still waters close to the bank.

Yet as I look closer, into undergrowth surrounding the stream, I realize just how thick it is. Is the whole forest so dense, or has it only grown up that way along the water’s edge? What if you had to travel through an entire forest like that, wading through foliage, and stumbling over roots and rocks, never quite knowing what might be watching you through that tangle of green? What if your journey was urgent, requiring haste to reach your ultimate destination? Suddenly this scene seems oppressive, the stream tranquil because it offers the only break in an endless, smothering blanket of green. Perhaps it is not the ideal location for an idyllic afternoon stroll, but is more like the dark place in my book series called the Shadow Wood, full of terrors that torment the body as well as the mind. There…did you hear it? That whisper in your ear. What was it saying? Or was it just the wind after all?

“Tranquility” by Wouter Florusse

How to Write a Fantasy Novel by Lee Duigon

How to Write a Fantasy Novel

In reclaiming cultural ground for Christ’s Kingdom, even small gains count. Besides, one never knows what even the smallest victories might lead to.Fantasy literature has long been popular, especially among young readers, twelve years old and up. When J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series made publishing history, it gave birth to a boom in fantasy. Here, at last, was something that young people really wanted to read!But an examination of the shelves in any bookstore will show that fantasy, for all its popularity, has a major downside for Christian readers. The market is dominated by unwholesome content—books glamorizing witchcraft, vampirism, zombies, etc.

C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien have long held the fort for Christianity in the realm of fantasy. It’s time they received some reinforcements.

A Darker Message

Why write Christian fantasy? The reasons are simple enough.

*Fantasy, like poetry, appeals to a region of the mind not easily reached by other types of fiction. Would it not be good ministry to sow some seeds there?
*Why let the field be monopolized by work that is anything but Christian?
*An effective use of fantasy in Christ’s service will make some readers more receptive to the gospel.

Finally, much fantasy is being used today to deliver a darker message…

Click to continue reading: How to Write a Fantasy Novel

Medieval Monday: The Labors of June

In the Middle Ages, the arrival of June meant not only a change in the weather, but a shift in daily labors, and in what was on the menu to eat.

Labors of the month JuneWhile most crops were harvested much later in the summer, hay was the first to be cut in June, though it was typically poor quality. In a society so dependent on animals for survival, haying was a vital community activity, with the lord’s fields taking priority over all the others. This was a labor carried out by men, women, and children. They worked in groups under the supervision of a reeve that had been elected by the peasants themselves. The men cut the hay with long scythes, each going through about one acre per day. Women and girls were responsible for raking and turning it. If the hay was not able to dry out, it would rot and be of no use.

On the edge of the field, there would be a man with a whetstone who could make quick repairs to dull and broken scythes as needed throughout the day. A horn would be blown at dusk to signal the end of the work day.  Sometimes a lord would provide the laborers with a meal and ale, or allow villagers to take home as much hay as they could carry home on their scythe. Anyone who tried to pile on too much was likely to lose their load on the way and go home with nothing.

At the end of June, it was time to pull weeds from the wheat fields, plow fallow fields, and uproot thistles. However, it was considered unlucky in England to pull thistles before June 24th (St. John’s day).  Anyone who did would find they would only multiply three times over.

Bee keeping was another important activity of June, which was when they were expected to begin swarming. Watching a hive was typically children’s work, as they could do so while spinning or doing some other household task. When a swarm formed, it would be followed by villagers banging pots and making other loud noises to “help the bees settle” and also stake their claim on the swarm.

During the month of June, sheep would be taken to a pond or a stream to be washed before shearing. Running water was preferred because their wool tended to be so filthy. Other tasks for June included repairing barns and outbuildings, clearing away brush, digging hop plots, fixing broken carts, gathering hemp and flax, and making salt.


Enjoy another episode of Tales from the Green Valley, where some of the above labors and others are shown. The video demonstrates the washing and shearing of sheep, dairy production (making cheese), field labors, special foods, and June festivities. For more information about wool production, you can revisit another of my posts on the subject. Check out my Medieval Index for a variety of other topics related to the Middle Ages.

 

Fantasy Art Wednesday

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Wednesday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.


There is a certain beauty about this dim and overgrown swamp. A female figure pushes a boat through the still, shallow water, the light of a single lantern barely illuminating the way before her. She doesn’t seem quite human. What is she? Does she belong to this wet, shadowy world, or is she just a stranger passing through? Where did she come from, and where is she going?

How to Beat the Blank Page and Write by Janeen Ippolito

We’ve all been there.

You sit down after a long day. You’re tired, but you made it. Your kids are at a sitter, or your dishes are getting ignored in the sink, or you’ve finally gotten off social media. You’re ready to write.

And then: nothing. Absolutely nothing. All of those brilliant ideas for your manuscript, blog post, article, or what-have-you are gone.

The screen is blank.

You glance at the clock. You’re down to fifty minutes of precious writing time before you have to get on to the next task, because you write in the margins. You don’t have the luxury of trying to wait for the muse. You have to get content onto paper NOW.

All of those thoughts only make you freeze up more. You decide to go on a walk. All you feel is relief that you’re away from your computer. Divine inspiration? Not there.

What about online writing gurus and experts? Surely they have an idea? You hop online just for a second, just to scroll through a few blogs and websites of successful writing experts and authors.

Man, these people look way more put-together than you. Look at those shiny websites! Even their posts look awesome. And who did those book covers? Yikes! How are they that famous that quickly? Is this normal? What are you even doing?

Maybe you’re not cut out for this. The doubts churn in your stomach.

Thirty minutes gone. What? No. How did time go so fast? This is not fair. Okay, focus. Gotta get this done. Otherwise, you won’t have any time until tomorrow. Professionals work best under deadlines, right? And you’re a professional. You’re making time. You’re doing things the right way.

The blank screen still looms large. You have nothing…

Read the rest of the article:  How to Beat the Blank Page and Write

Medieval Monday: Blacksmiths

Blacksmiths played a vital role in medieval society. Everyone, from the lowest peasant, to the King required their services. Every village had at least one blacksmith, with larger towns and cities supporting many more of them.

We often have a certain image in mind when it comes to the medieval blacksmith; we see them crafting swords, daggers, armor, and shields. And certainly there were some blacksmiths—particularly those that worked in castles—who specialized in producing the tools of war. Castle blacksmiths were envied for the position of prestige they held, and their positions were usually hereditary. But whether they were working in a castle, or a rural village, a blacksmith’s work was dirty, loud, hot, and physically demanding with little glamor in the daily routine.

Aside from weapons and armor, just about every chore and trade required some kind of metalwork. Mundane items like nails, doorknobs horseshoes, chains, kitchen tools, utensils for cooking in fireplaces, cauldrons, farming implements, locks, keys, arrow tips, axes, and much more were all made by blacksmiths. Once made, many items also needed constant repair, making a blacksmith’s job a very busy one. Some blacksmiths might even make jewelry, or somewhat more frightening, torture devices. Blacksmiths with special skill could make intricate and impressive wrought iron pieces for structures like cathedrals and castles, and metalwork intended for defense. With the wide variety of items made, and the different skills required for each, it is no surprise that their work was eventually split up into different specialties. Not every blacksmith did the same kind of work, and some branched out into work with precious metals. By the 14th century, clocks were even added to the blacksmith’s repertoire.

There were unusual beliefs and superstitions surrounding blacksmiths. They were thought by some to have healing powers, particularly over injuries like broken bones. However, they were also sometimes associated with the devil. While they were too important to be persecuted due to this belief, blacksmiths were often the object of colorful legends.

Enjoy this video showing a blacksmith at work to learn a little more about the craft and how to make a medieval axe.


Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover more topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.

 

Book Review: Into the Shadow Wood

Thanks to Andrea Lundgren for providing a thorough review of my novella, Into the Shadow Wood. She is a fantastic reviewer, book coach, writer, and blogger. Read the entire review and find out more about Andrea on her blog.


Title: Into the Shadow Wood by Allison D. Reid

Genre: Fantasy/Short Story

Book Description from Goodreads: Once a proud member of the Sovereign’s prestigious personal guard, Einar has lost everything: his home, his Sovereign, and his purpose. Most of his closest friends have either been killed in battle or executed. His friend Nevon died trying to fulfill a dangerous oath…one that Einar disagreed with, but now feels honor-bound to take up in his stead. The quest plunges Einar into the depths of the dark and twisted Shadow Wood, testing the limits of his strength, his beliefs, and his sanity. What he finds in the Wood is far more ominous than anything he’d expected. If he’s not careful, Nevon’s fate might end up being his own.

Book Review: Having read the two novels that are out of The Wind Rider Chronicles, I was quite excited when Allison announced that there’d be a short story continuing Einar’s journey, and even more delighted when she asked me to review the novella. Einar was my favorite character from Journey to Aviad, and this story takes up where that novel left off. So here’s a closer look…

Source: Book Review: Into the Shadow Wood