Fantasy Art Wednesday…oh wait, it’s Friday!

Ok, so it’s not Wednesday anymore. Can you tell I’ve been crazy busy? My oldest daughter will be happy though. It annoys her greatly that it isn’t Fantasy Art Friday every week. What do you think? Whatever day it is, get inspired with some fantasy artwork and a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.


In the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder, Emily asks, “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?” The response she receives is “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.” When I saw this image, that dialogue came to mind, because for me it captures one of those rare times when an ordinary moment becomes extraordinary. Something awakens you to the beauty all around, and you realize how glorious, yet fleeting, life is. Your heart is filled with contentment, and in that instant you understand what complete inner peace feels like.

It’s the end of the day, and the setting sun has bathed this majestic city in a warm, golden light. These two companions walking down the street seem quite comfortable in each others’ company. Master and apprentice? Parent and child? Or just two long-time friends sharing the way home together? There is no sense of urgency, no danger lurking in the shadows. Just a perfect moment at the end of an ordinary day that lingers in memory for a time before the world’s cares washes it away.

Artwork by Andreas Rocha

Why You Should Consider Writing A Trilogy #SundayBlogShare #Writers @tonyriches

(Shared from Blonde Write More)

When medieval historical fiction author Tony Riches contacted me to say that he had a fab guest blog post up his sleeve I was over the moon.

When I read his guest blog post I felt like one of my big writing related questions had been answered. The question being – why should you consider writing a trilogy?

Prior to Tony’s guest post, I spent a lot of time thinking about why you should consider writing a trilogy. I came up with the following points:

  • You should write a trilogy if you secretly crave literary pain. Writing one book won’t come close to satisfying your literary pain needs, so you need to write three in quick succession to get your fix.
  • You should write a trilogy if you can’t think of a way to end your story and you strongly believe that come the end of writing the third book you will have figured it out.
  • You should write a trilogy if you have fallen madly in love with one of your characters and can’t bear to be parted from them. Writing a story about your crush and spanning it over three books might help you get this fictional love interest out of your system. Your readers might not share your love for this character but that’s low level detail.
  • You should write a trilogy if you have an attention seeking diva of a main character who demands a bigger world stage. Give them a trilogy and watch their power hungry eyes light up!

To my surprise Tony has come up with a different set of reasons to me.

Check out this great post below.

Take it away Tony!

Source: Why You Should Consider Writing A Trilogy #SundayBlogShare #Writers @tonyriches

Medieval Monday: The Towerhouse

For this week’s Medieval Monday post, I thought I might share the information I’m currently researching for my work in progress. We are pretty familiar with castles through pictures, movies, and if we’ve been lucky, tours of the real thing. We also know something about ordinary living structures that peasants lived in (see related post). But there is another class of structure that is somewhat more elusive, and I’ve been doing some digging to find good information on it. I’m talking about the towerhouse.

Some classify these as castles, but they didn’t have all of the components of castles or keeps, nor were they ordinary houses. Still standing examples of them are rare, and any supporting structures that once existed around them even more so. Towerhouses were built by wealthy lords to be fortified homes. They were meant to protect the lord, his family, servants, guests, and valuables–mainly from would-be marauders rather than from organized armies. Such homes were typically constructed in remote areas that were difficult to get to and had some strategic importance. Sometimes towerhouses were built in isolation, but they might also have a town constructed around them, or they were expanded upon over time to become part of a larger castle. They became increasingly popular toward the end of the medieval period, but for my own research I’ve been most interested in the earliest examples.

While no two towerhouses were precisely alike, their 3-4 story design and layout followed a distinct pattern. On the outside they were plain and rectangular with very thick walls, occasionally towers were built into the four corners for added space. There was no forebuilding or outer defensive wall, and the ground floor didn’t have windows. The ground floor was primarily for storage, perhaps even keeping some animals, and often had its own separate entrance.

The first floor was common living space with a hall and a fireplace built into the wall. Service rooms might be on this floor as well. Winding staircases would have been built into the inside of the outer walls, connecting the first floor to the upper stories in a way that made entry difficult for anyone who might breech the entrance. The second floor had private space—perhaps another hall, and sleeping chambers. If there was a third (or even fourth) floor, it would have contained another hall and space to house a garrison in times of siege. For security reasons, only the very top floor or floors would have had windows to let in light. There would have also been battlements around the top where guards could watch for intruders and rain down arrows, stones, hot oil, or other projectiles as necessary to protect the home.

Some towerhouses had kitchens on the main floor, but kitchens were a constant fire hazard so often they were in a separate building. Though it would seem towerhouses were completely self-contained, there were by necessity additional structures to support it, such as stables, buildings related to farm work, or even additional living quarters since space inside the towerhouse was at a premium. Guests staying in the main house might have to share sleeping chambers, or even beds, but it provided security that the outer buildings could not. Furniture seems to have been kept to a minimum, and interiors differed in decor–some were more lavishly decorated than others.

As I continue to research these unique homes and learn about what daily life was like inside of them, I will update this post or even make a new one if I find enough to make one. I did find a video tour of an Irish towerhouse for your enjoyment. Some components of the layout are different than what my research indicated was typical, but then again, no to towerhouses were the same, so some variation is expected, especially between regions.

 


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

 

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It’s Time to Say Goodbye

This last year working with Joshua and Allison on this newsletter has been great, but things are picking up in our writing careers, and unfortunately, we no longer have time to keep up with this newsletter.

It doesn’t have to be goodbye though…

Allison, Joshua and I have our own newsletters where you can keep tabs on us, and we all love hearing from you.

Joshua and I will be adding you all to our newsletters automatically, and of course if you don’t want to remain on those lists you can always unsubscribe. You’ll have to subscribe to Allison’s newsletter if you’d like to keep following her, however. You can do that here.

I’ll also be keeping the Weekly Fantasy Fix blog going, and you can still follow on Twitter.

Thank you for all your support over the last year!

Read the rest of the last Fantasy Fix newsletter.

 

 

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.


This curious image caught my attention for today’s post. I sense no danger in the peaceful, sun drenched glade. It seems to be a place of seclusion, of meditation. I can imagine that some wise sage lives in that shabby little house built up in the tree. It has obviously been there for many years, perhaps even many ages. Is the figure in red the sage himself? Or perhaps a sentry who ensures that he can meditate in peace without being disturbed at inopportune times by those who come to seek out his wisdom.

But this is only my initial impression. Who do you think lives in this moss and vine covered tree? 

Title and Artist Unknown

 

Medieval Monday: Inns

 

Last week’s post was about medieval taverns, so it seemed natural to make this week’s about medieval inns as their services overlap somewhat. Like commercially run taverns, medieval inns catered more to the wealthy than the average person. They were equipped to accommodate not just lone travelers, but people like merchants with carts full of valuable wares, and nobles with their families and attendants. Whereas taverns offered basic, or even poor quality food, inns were prepared to host elaborate feasts as necessary for guests–including wine and other alcoholic drinks. Inns also provided temporary storage and stables where horses could be cared for.

Inns were actually big business, and they made a considerable profit. Innkeepers were wealthy and played a prominent role in the community—sometimes also serving in the local government, or acting as banking agents. Inns were often centers of trade as well, and investors were eager to back them, expecting a handsome profit in return.

The layout of a typical inn included a main hall, possibly a secondary common space, a kitchen, storage space, quarters for the innkeeper and his family, and of course, sleeping rooms for guests. It is hard for us to imagine today, but not all of the sleeping rooms were private or even lockable. Many were communal, with a number of guests sharing a room together, sometimes even the same beds. Private rooms became more popular as the period progressed.

However, not everyone could afford to stay at an inn, even when they were available and had enough room. Ale houses sometimes provided basic shelter for the night for a very limited number of people. Monasteries might run hostels (hospitals) where travelers could stay free or for a minimal fee, particularly on routes that were heavily traveled by pilgrims. When there was no inn, hostel, or other building for shelter, people might sleep outdoors. If this was necessary, travelers stayed together in groups for safety. Nobles might have the advantage of finding hospitality with a fellow noble living nearby. They would send a harbinger just ahead of them to make all of the arrangements.


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

 

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Who am i?

For the indie author, this is a frequent and persistent question, especially at first. There isn’t a publisher to tell us, “you fit here and this is where we’re marketing you.” So we have to figure it out on or own, and it isn’t always easy. We end up going through this existential crisis of a sort; what did I just write, and where does it belong? Where do I belong as an author? Sometimes we get too caught up in worrying about where readers think we belong, and we get dragged down all sorts of dead end paths trying to market to every potential reader, in every dark corner of the universe. It can be exhausting, deplete our limited resources, and still get us nowhere.

And it’s no wonder we’re confused—some genres, like fantasy, are so huge it’s easy to get lost. When you search for fantasy books on Amazon, you get 739,684 returns! Who could possibly search through all of that for a new book to read? It’s completely overwhelming. Renee’s March 4th article talked about how the fantasy genre has now been split up into many different sub-genres, presenting both benefits and challenges for everyone. For the writer, it can make that existential question where do I belong even harder to answer, particularly if our work fits equally well into more than a couple of categories. But it can also help us finally settle in someplace—find a cozy corner to call home, where we can quietly build up a loyal fan base and gradually expand from there. It sure beats drifting around the book marketing universe like a hobo, holding out our collection cups to anyone who passes by, hoping for some reader to take pity on the poor indie author.

And that’s pretty much what we do as new, inexperienced authors. We chase after every new marketing gimmick, trying to imitate the top sellers without having any understanding of the huge amount of plodding groundwork it took to get them there. We try to copy the mechanics of their journey in the hopes it will take us along the exact same road, instead of going through that painful existential process of figuring out who we are, and forging our own path. We read all the author self-help books written by people who claim if you just follow steps A-Z you’ll become just as successful as they are. But no two authors are alike, and no two journeys are either. They might offer good advice, but we need to take it with the understanding that it will most likely work differently for us, and that’s OK. Eventually we all grow tired of chasing the wind and come to realize our biggest successes have come about when we’ve just been our truest selves.

It took me a few years, but I think I’m finally settling into my small corner of the indie book world. It’s actually pretty comfortable—not particularly flashy or high profile, but it suits me. Readers are finding me, and my book sales are slowly but steadily growing. When I first published in 2011, I couldn’t imagine the place I’m at right now. Humble as it is, it seemed so far out of reach. Since then I’ve had plenty of dreams to keep me working hard, and those dreams grow every day. I hope that in another 5 years, I’ll be able to look back and say, “I couldn’t imagine this place I’m in right now—and I’m so glad I’m here. What’s next?”

Read the rest of this week’s Fantasy Fix newsletter.