Dark Days, Dark Actions #MFRWAuthor

Welcome to the monthly topic from the MFRW challenge. The topic is "How Different Seasons Affect Your Writing." Now there are different aspects to the seasons depending on where you are from which can affect your writing. In the northeast, there are distinct seasonal changes. Of course, some of them might feel only a few weeks long, but temperatures, storms, and different crops in the fields tell the story. Despite the fact that it is springtime outside, I'm just going to focus on one season -- winter.  And to the reason why? 

Winter can be especially stressful and full of dark emotions. There are shorter days, longer nights, parties (or lack thereof) and family gatherings. The effects of these on an author can break through their control and reflect in their writing.

My characters hate the long dark nights between the solstice and turn's end. More than one has ended up captured and in the dungeon. First a short excerpt from Imprisoned in Stone. Colywnn is imprisoned in a cell deep in the citadel of the Brethren He can accept no mercy from those who want to control all magic, even though his father is their leader.

Even though the blocking spells absorbed most of the light emitted from the single candle high on the wall, he used the wan glow to examine the room. Stone by stone, he searched for a way out, either through magic or physical force. His questing fingers found only walls worked smooth by those of countless prisoners. Each time he found a hint of magic and tried to summon his own powers, the prison absorbed them, eating away his strength. Although he spotted his own spell interwoven among those who over the years had placed the restraint on the cell, the faint hope it provided quickly vanished. As he watched in hopeless frustration, his spell faded, dispersed by those of the Brethren members.
His back against the wall, Colwynn slid to the floor. He considered one approach after another, then discarded it. Who could he call upon for help? Gareth’s powers were too weak. And the only other wizards he knew were confirmed members of the Brethren. Only one person had the possibility of reaching him—Maerva.
Gathering his magic, he pictured her in his mind. A prayer on his lips, he cast out a desperate call.
Dead silence greeted his effort.
I wasn't any more charitable for Talann of the dragshi or the archmage Dal. When Talann went undercover in the cult of the Parant in Hatchling's Mate, the cult's leader did not believe the son of a dragon shifter would betray his own kind. Even though no dragons sang a welcome at Talann's birth and to all the world he was an outcast, the Parant turned Talann over to the not-so-tender mercies of a mercenary captain.

Dal's captors weren't happy with just him as a prisoner. They wanted the magical equine he rode also. However because of his actions, Tairneach and his fellow herdmates escaped. Before his dark night in the dungeon, an excerpt from Windmaster of Dal's capture by his former troopmate.

Dal went sprawling to hands and knees from a blow to the back of his head. Dust clogged his nostrils. He tried to stand, but a second blow knocked him flat. He arched his back to dislodge the heavy weight of the men piled atop him. Muscles weakened by the poison collapsed. A heel stomped on his fingers and kicked the sword from his grasp. Rough hands grabbed both arms and twisted them back. Pain radiated from the foot on his neck, and the sharp edges of the rocks cutting into his face. The cold touch of iron chains around his wrists killed any hopes of escape.

The weight of those holding him down suddenly lifted. Dal gasped for air. A hand in his hair pulled him up to a kneeling position. Someone behind him slipped a choke collar over his head and pulled it tight. His skin crawled beneath the metal links. More chains were wrapped around his chest, pinning his arms to his sides. He could not move enough to free himself.

The resonance of Bashim’s essence permeated each link.

Dal swore in wordless anger. The chains were enspelled. They bound magic ... my magic.

If intrigued, you can find buy links for each of the books by clicking on the covers in the banner above.

~till next time, Helen

Be sure to see how the other authors answered the question. https://mfrw52week.blogspot.com/

2021 T : Time

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In the modern world, the measurement of time can be taken for granted. Devices from cellular phones to computer screens, a roadside sign or a cheap digital watch alerts us of actions to be taken or appointments made. Just as in the real world, a fantasy world needs to have descriptions for measurements. If an invented measurement of time or distance, the unit needs to be understandable--and comfortable--for the reader. Measurements different than the familiar could be jarring to a reader and possibly even throw them out of the story.

One thing that is common to most worlds are heavenly bodies. The stars may have different configurations and more than one moon, but they provide an easily understood guide for the characters (and the reader) as they traverse their world much as the stars did for the sailors of old.

Now that the characters have a map how to measure the length of a journey. Historically, the marking of time comes from important event such as full moons and planting or harvesting seasons. A full cycle of the seasons is a year. For the Windmaster Novels, a slightly different term was used to represent a cycle of the world. Turn replaced year.

The heavens are again used with the measurement of a full moon. Since there are two moons in The Windmaster Novels, not only do you have the recognition of the time between full moons, but also the less frequent conjunction of both moons being full at the same time and appearing to coalesce into a super moon.

A week can be a sevenday or ten day depending on the world.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

At an individual level, a character can use the candlemark to determine how long they have been at a task. A candlemark is how long it takes a candle to burn down between marks notched into the sides for measuring shorter time periods. I particularly like the visual of the candle burning low when the character is researching in an archive. 

Image by Momentmal from Pixabay

Public life can be measured using bells to alert the town, large group, or ship of the time. This works well as long as the keeper of the bell is accurate through the use of an hourglass.

To mark shorter breaks of time, heartbeats or breaths. They may not be quite as accurate since they can both speed up with activity. I wouldn't want to use them to determine when to charge as part of a coordinated battle plan, but to show the reader the passage of a few moments they are more than sufficient.

To read the stories and see the various combinations of time and space, click on the covers in the banner for excerpts of what the music helped create.


If you're following other blogs in the challenge, here's the master list of the other participants.

To make following the hop easier, here is the link to all my posts. Just remember, the next day's post isn't live until midnight.

~ till next time, Helen


2021 S : Sea Shanty

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This was the most fun topic. Like the 2019 and 2020 "S" posts in the A to Z in April challenge, this topic also deals with the sea. A sea shanty is a sailors' work song dating from the days of sailing ships, when manipulating heavy sails by means of ropes, from positions on the deck constituted a large part of a sailor's work. The main purpose of the rhythmic tune was to help workers synchronize their tasks, such as pushing or pulling at the same time when hoisting sails. And before the comments fly, both shanty and chanty are acceptable spellings. I chose shanty to cover the "S."

When I was writing Maerva's tale, no particular words were written for the shanty in the following scene. However, it illustrates the use of a shanty on land.

The morning passed quickly and by the mid-day break, Wayward Bound’s cargo covered the huge tables outside the storage caves. After a quick cup of soup and a cold meatroll, Maerva slid into an empty chair next to Arcil. Farther down the line, a dozen old aunts and uncles sang a sea chanty. Their hands moved in rhythm to the tune as they gutted and prepared the fish for smoking and later shipment to the western provinces.

The inspiration for the shanties was the episode Bad Water of the television series Seaquest DSV. In that use, a grizzled chief got the crew singing to overcome their despair at their vessel’s damage. When I was writing Imprisoned in Stone, the music rang in my head until I wrote new words that enabled Maerva to use the magic inherent in the rhythm to break the spell cast upon her ship. Instead of using the rhythm of a shanty to keep the sailor's movements synchronized, she used it to focus the force of their will to save their ship.

“Ready?” she called.
The crew’s determined, “Sails away,” replaced some of the earlier exhaustion.
Taking a deep breath, Maerva released it and cast her spell. Her voice rang with the full force of her will. “Clear our decks, we’re a sailin’. Curse be gone, our sails a fillin’. Crew be well, that we’re orderin’. Command, it shall be.”
Arcil carried the chorus in a rich bass. “Away ho, darkness leavin’. Away ho, Dawn be rising’. Away ho, curse be leavin’. Command, it shall be.”
Off key or out of tune, one by one the rest of the ship’s complement joined in. Even though the words were different, the tune of an old sailor’s chanty made it easy for the crew to lend their voices—and determination.
She kept everyone singing until raggedness entered their voices. Her grasp tight on Gareth’s fingers, she gathered the will of the crew, added her and Gareth’s magic, and threw it in a final thrust against the squirming mess. It vanished, leaving behind only the spray-covered boards. Maerva turned to Gareth to tell him, but the ship’s bow dipped into a trough sending her into his arms.

Imprisoned in Stone - one click to estores 

If you're following other blogs in the challenge, here's the master list of the other participants.

To make following the hop easier, here is the link to all my posts. Just remember, the next day's post isn't live until midnight.

~ till next time, Helen