Archeress and My First Poll

Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for your fairy tale suggestions last week. I got more great ideas than I have stories to write. At first I wanted to retell The Twelve Dancing Princesses for my next novella, but the theme and story wasn’t working.

*sighs*

So I settled for Hansel and Gretel. (Rest assured, I’m not giving up on The Twelve Dancing Princesses…I’m going to do that for novella number seven, I believe.) But Hansel and Gretel, while far from my favorite fairy tale, will fit my theme much better. Actually, I don’t really care for Hansel and Gretel that much. But that’s all the more reason to retell the fairy tale. I’d love to hear about your favorite retelling or things that always irritate you about the story.

Secondly, archeress photos. My brother, Noah, took them last week and here are a few of my favorites. Which one do you like best?

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In Crab-Apple Woods

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My ‘Silvara’ pose *winks*

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Aiming (but not shooting) two arrows at once, per my brother’s suggestion

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One of my favorite shots

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Another Silvara pose

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Queen of the realms; authoress extraordinare

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Out of the woods…or into the woods?

And that’s only some of them. You may see others crop up on my blog in future months. Or…I’ve another costume I might taking photos with. But that probably won’t be until fall since it’s long-sleeve.

And now for the poll. I’m trying to make this site tighter and more focused, though I’m still wavering between it leaning towards Christian fantasy readers or Christian fantasy writers. But I can’t do fantasy and writing articles and book reviews and everything else out there, much as I’d love to. So I’m begging your help. In the form below, you can grade how much you like various aspects of the site. Try to keep your grades in relation to the other items. A row of fives won’t help, however nice it looks. *winks slyly*

So, if you filled out that form, thank you so much. *sends you an electronic bar of chocolate* If not, then I fear I’ll have to…have to…I’m not sure. I may turn over your name to Kirin and Elena, sending them to drop you into the middle of another realm. They’re getting bored with me working on formatting Song of the Sword, adding vectors, and writing blurbs. No, wait. Blurbs for Song of the Sword are next week. So much to look forward to.

*grimaces*

But enough rambling.

As a last announcement, some of you may have noticed I’ve changed my domain name to authorhopeann. Right now, the writinginthelightpublishing site redirects to this site, so if you have my former link, you’ll still get here. However, next week, I’m going to transfer that domain name to my weebly site. Once that happens, you’ll land on my Writing in the Light Publishing page. There will be a link to my blog from there, but if the writinginthelight link, or a few of my other links, aren’t working for a bit later next week, that’s the reason why.

New Fantasy Times: Other Dragons

I met a dragon once. And I lived; always a plus when dealing with unpredictable beasts such as those great scaled monsters. Not that I’d ever say such a thing to their face. Or faces, as the case may be.

2Dragon, as defined by the New Fantasy Handbook of Common and Uncommon Creatures, is ‘a creature, generally with scales, wings, fangs, and claws. Are clever, can sometimes talk, quite often have eyes with varying degrees of hypnotic ability, and should never be treated like a normal wild beast.’ Due to the necessarily vague and loose structure of that definition, it is wise for one to research deeper before meeting dragons face to face.

In some realms, dragons have been relegated to myths but in many others, they are alive and well today. But even within realms, dragons can differ very drastically. As any classifier of such creatures knows, the word ‘dragon’ stands for a family, not a species.

Dragons cover every spectrum of color, but what many people don’t know is that the color quite often is related to whether the dragon is cold-blooded or warm-blooded and what climate they live in. A quick side note here, both types of dragons are good in their own way, but if you’re using one to escape after a midnight raid on a frozen tundra, don’t chose a cold-blooded variety. Just trust me on this one.

Dragons are also all sizes. While they do tend to have a larger average bulk than many animals, there are quite a few which are no bigger than birds or cats. Others are a comfortable size to ride, while a few could crush whole houses under their scaly chests. Thankfully, these later beasts are growing less common today.

To add to the complication, dragons have no steady shape. Some dragons have long necks, thin bodies, and narrow faces. Others are muscular. Others have double wings and some have none at all. Scales aren’t always a given either, though they are very common. But there are rare breeds of dragons known to grow manes. And even with scales, there are some which shimmer, some simply dull, some which fade and change colors to meld into the background…you get the idea. As for claws and teeth, I can tell you they’re generally sharp. Frankly, I’ve kept as far away from them and failed to find or take any good photos.

Oh, and don’t forget the eyes. Rarely is a dragon without some hypnotic power in its eyes. Normally it lasts only while eye-contact is being made, though there are rare cases when it can develop into a sickness which continues for months. But, quite often, the effect won’t even be noticeable. You’ll simply find yourself treating the dragon with more care than a normal mount, or not shooting one when on a hunt. The latter technique is very annoying, let me assure you.

The wit of dragons is as varied as their size. In some lands they are simply wild beasts, hunted for meat and scales, or gliding though the tree-tops with wild songs. Tamed dragons of a smaller size have been found in the homes of the rich as pets, while others pull carts. There are even accounts of dragon fighting, though in many realms this is illegal, and it is always dangerous.

Dragons are most commonly used as mounts; many nomadic groups greatly favor these beasts because they are hardy and (if you have the right kind) a ready source of fire. Some dragons can understand human speech, and a few can even communicate and talk. There are even rumors of dragon societies, but I’ve yet to find one myself.

Not all dragons breathe fire, of course; only about a quarter of them have that ability. And the ones which do breathe fire don’t breathe out smoke. This misconception comes from a species of dragon which breathes out steam to frighten off enemies, but are otherwise harmless.

Though, as far as harmless goes, no dragon is without a quality defense. Even subtracting the fangs and claws, some dragons also secrete poison. Some have stingers in their tails or in their wing tips. Then there is fire, heated breath, freezing breath, poisonous breath, a whip-like forked tongue… The good part is, most dragons won’t attack people unless provoked. Repeat, I said most. And for those idiots who decide to attack dragons for the fun of it, outside the lands where dragons are butchered for meat and where the skill of hunting is down to an art, well, they deserve what they get.

Taking down a dragon isn’t easy. Most normal weapons won’t cut through their scales. There are generally soft spots, but not always. And they vary from beast to beast; a cracked scale, behind the ear, the eye, the back of the inside of the throat. Generally, it’s safer to not try at all unless the dragon is massacring whole villages. Besides, riding them is so much more fun.

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Picture from Pinterest

The topic of dragons is extensive; it could take a whole book to cover them. Where they live, for instance (from tree tops to caves to burying themselves in desert sands to making hollows in the sides of snowbanks). Or what they eat (pretty much everything, from reeds to cattle to melons). Or what sounds and songs they make. The differences between males and females. How many young are raised at once, by who, and for how long? Ages of dragons (hint: most get pretty old). Their hobbies (quite often includes gold, polished stones, or sword hilts). What they enjoy (riddles and swimming). What they can do and what they will do and how they appreciate music…the list could go on and on.

But I can’t.

And so I’ll leave you one final tip. Many people know to never trust a live dragon. This is questionable, since some are actually quite friendly. But never, ever, trust a dead dragon. Dragons which die of natural cause are rarely found; they hide themselves away in a tomb of their own making. If you find a dragon which appears dead, and there’s no knight there to claim the victory, steer well clear. If you don’t, you’re very likely walking into a trap from which there will be no escape.

Have any questions, legends, or trending cliches you’d like Kirin Quillblade to address? Please comment below; he promises to at least read what you have to say between his realm leaper’s missions, even if he holds the rights to choose what to write about and what to ignore.

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Guest Post – Part 2 – The Magic of a Recurve Weapon

And now, for part 2 of the guest post exchange. R. M. Donaldson has written the article below about Recurve bows verse Longbows.

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The world of archery is a fun world to explore. I personally have been an archer since I was a kid. In books and movies, they often mix modern and ancient styles of archery. There is a lot that can be said about it, but today, I’m going to talk about the elegance and purpose of a recurve bow.

Recurves are only slightly less well known than long bows (Though most people see recurves and assume long bow.) Recurves are newer than the long bows, but not as much as people think. A lot of people think they are modern. An idea that was not help along by the fact Katniss from The Hunger Games uses a recurve bow. (Except for the very first bow she has in the movie)

2The truth is, recurves are so old the Persians used them in battle. The native Americans have been using them so far back we can’t even tell. They may have been the first to use the style. Yet, it’s often over looked because England took a bit longer to catch on to how it worked, as well as the long bow just sounding more powerful. However, the recurve is a better all-around bow.

But why? Don’t most woodsmen hunters use long bows? I will admit that a longbow fits what our modern minds picture, but hunters are the most likely to use a recurve bow. Even in battle, it wasn’t long before recurves took over.

It’s all about size. A recurve bow can get more power in it for less space. The bigger the long bow, the stronger. That is not always the case with a recurve. What makes it unique, as said in its name and its beautiful design, are the curves at the top and bottom. Recurves use those to make more tension in the string and creates more power with less space; whereas the best long bows are the same size, or bigger than the archer.

You may even notice in The Hunger Games or most Robin Hood movies that the bow makes it harder for the characters to run. Imagine if the bows really were as tall as the archer! But then the long bow loses its power. A long bow is a great tool to shoot long distances, but a horrible battle weapon. So, though they are often used by wall archers defending a city, any other archer would want a recurve.

It is said in the Robin Hood tradition that he used a long bow until the better recurves were shown to him during the crusades, then he switched to a recurve. It gave him the ability to run faster, have better storage, and be able to shoot from smaller corners.1

This is why women will mostly stick to recurves. (Katniss uses one, Susan uses one, Merida uses one… I think most lady archers do.) Women are stealthier fighters by nature. They don’t want to go in with a giant tank (Most of the time, not all women of course). Most would rather have a powerful sniper rifle. The recurve bow is the archery equivalent.

I personally like to use a traditional style recurve because I am a short person. I stick with about 40-50-inch range 60-90 draw weight. This is something to keep in mind when writing your archer. Would they rather use a recurve or long bow? Why or why not? How heavy would it be? New people often start about 30 pound to 50 pound.

Olden time recurves were one solid piece. (The one you see in the photos above, which I use, is a one-piece fiberglass. I love this thing!) But today they are often sold in parts and put together. The two curves are call the limbs and the center the riser. The only movie I’ve seen that shows this style is “The Avengers” Hawkeye uses one, but in The Hunger Games Katniss uses a solid one.  So does Legolas (I hope that’s not a huge surprise).

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So a recurve is the best option you can use. Modern day Olympics also use recurves. Recurves are the most elegant, simplest, and best bow you can find. I love mine and it not only shoots the better than other bows, but it is also the prettiest style of bow you’ll ever find.

R.M. Donaldson is a storytelling, magic casting, bow shooting, chocolate loving, author of adult fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, historical fiction, most all other inspiriting works. More of her work can be seen on her block at RM-Donaldson.com. Her book “The Custodian Chronicles: The Rising” is set to be released May 6th of this year.

Caption Challenge – April 2016 #4

Caption Challenge Time! There were so many good rhythms and lines this last, but since there must be a winner…well, I’ll have to choose someone.

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Caption Challenge Winner: Anne of Lothlorien!

One to deceive,
One to surrender
And a darkness to swallow the last defender.

Six-Word-Story Winner: BlueJay!

“Two men, two worlds, one goal.”

And now for this week’s collage:

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Pictures from Pinterest

So, you’ve two entries. One for a caption, one for a six word story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge.

Beta Readers for Song of the Sword

Maybe it should have been obvious, but as I was lying in bed thinking about this post I suddenly realized I ought to have some sort of blurb about my story to offer you all before asking for volunteers to beta read Song of the Sword.

*holds head tightly and closes eyes*

Writing blurbs are even worse than editing, but I suppose I must give you something. It won’t be as polished as my final blurb I’ll write when I publish this book…just consider this a rough draft. *winks*

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Evrard’s duties as a wingmaster fills his waking hours as the Prince’s war against Tauscher draws to a climax. But when a stray song alerts him to his long lost sister, he determines to save her no matter the opposition in either the physical world or the melody realm. Filled with danger, mist, songs, messenger falcons, towers, fen hoppers, sacrifice, joy, and despair, this is a retelling of Rapunzel you are sure to enjoy.

*stares at blurb thoughtfully*

Too short, but not bad for a first try, I suppose. And now, on to the easier information.

Song the Sword, my second novella in the Legends of Light series, is 60 pages; around 29,000 words long. I know mentioned a ‘select number’ of beta readers last week but, quite frankly, I’m not sure what the select number would be…I’m not that popular yet. *winks slyly* If you want to beta read the story…well, I reserve the privilege to dispense with my story as I please, but if you are willing to read it, then you’ll almost certainly be able to.

And now, if you would like to beta read Song of the Sword, you have until the morning of April 30th to fill in the form below (if you see this post after April 30th and desperately want to look over Song of the Sword, feel free to contact me though the ‘contact me’ page.

I’ll send out a draft of Song of the Sword the afternoon of April 30th, and would like to have the novella back in three weeks time; May 21st. Now the projected publication date isn’t until August 5th, though I want to have final copies of the novella completed two or three weeks before that for review readers. So there is some leeway if you really want to read Song of the Sword but are currently busy with other things. Just let me know in the form when you think you can get it back to me.

In other news, I finally got my archery glove. So now I have a glove, gauntlet, bow, and quiver of arrows. Sometime in the next few weeks I’m going to dress up in a costume from our last movie my siblings and I made, gear up, and bribe or convince a broth or sister to take pictures of me. So photos of the great, realm-leaping archeress will be coming…soonish.

Guest Post – Part 1 – Time to Write

Hey guys, I’ve written a guest post for the first time! So, today, you can go to R. M. Donaldson’s blog and read the post I wrote about finding Time to Write. And keep your eye out for this Wednesday, where I’ll be posting a guest post from Donaldson about recuve bows verses long bows.

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Wingmaster

k;ladfThis story is set in Aslaria, my Legends of Light land. The wingmaster idea is based off the Song of the Sword, my current WIP, but this event took place about a hundred years before Song of the Sword.

He should have known. He should have guessed. The finding of the legendary wingmaster’s blade should have given him more than a hint that something was wrong.

But the late spring snow, the early darkness, and the encroaching mist sweeping through the Melody Realm had been enough to deal with. Even drawing on the power of the song in the Melody, it had been all I could do to beat the joy stealing fog back towards the south. It had been an everyday enough occurrence that I should have known the sword was for something else.

Something worse.

But I’d relaxed. I’d attended the celebration like a normal citizen of Aslaria instead of one of the few who knew about, much less could entered, the reflection realm of song. And I’d left the sword in my lodging.

The swift beat of Frithren’s wings during a jubilant dance was the first sign something was terribly wrong.

He’s here.

The words sent ice though my veins and I pulled away into the shadows even as the lamps flickered out. And, under the startled cries, which I knew would soon turn to pleas of fear, I could hear the heavy drumbeat of the traitor’s song.

The traitor. As I dashed into the night, snow falling gently around my, I racked my brains but could come up with no name to couple to the shadow who had been sweeping though the country. A rumor, may thought it was.

I’d thought it was.

Except he was real. And he was here.

I snatched up the wingmaster’s sword, my vision blurring then clarifying as I saw the real realm and the Melody at once. My chest tightened as I glimpsed the mist, seeping in about the castle walls. But there was no time to deal with it now. Summoning the song, I dashed back to the great hall.

Silence met my ears. Silence, mingled with the recent memory of bloodshed and weeping. And the traitor’s faint song.

I choked at the sight. The motionless bodies. The stained floor. The lifeless hall.

I staggered back outside, my sword hanging limply from my hand. Frithren’s wings beat against the air and I turned, lifting my hand for the messenger falcon.

He’s headed south. Frithren declared grimly.

I nodded and swallowed hard, then closed my eyes. The Prince forgive me. I’d been given the sword, and I’d failed before I’d even started. I’d failed, but more would die unless I could stop the shadow. Clenching the sword, I took a deep breath, then turned toward the south.

And I ran. Ran through the night. Though the snow. Though the mist. Though the song. With death behind me, danger ahead, and an oath throbbing though my blood, I ran towards the fulfillment of my doom.

Caption Challenge – April 2016 #3

Caption Challenge Time! First, as always, here is last week’s winner:

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Caption Challenge Winner: Corissa, Maiden of Praise!

“Is that supposed to be comforting?!”
“Well, at least it means we’re both awake; and statistically speaking, you have a better chance of winning a battle if you’re awake.”

Six-Word-Story Winner (since there has to be a winner and a I can’t really have three honorable mentions…but there were some really good ones): Adry Grace!

“A final stand made in darkness.”

And now for this week’s collage…well, a prompt. It’s not a collage this time:

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Pictures from Pinterest

So, you’ve two entries. One for a caption, one for a six word story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge.

Photos and Fairytales

Spring is finally here! It’s in the 70s and I’m wearing short sleeves and loving it.

Yesterday I had to get outside and do something, anything. It was a toss-up between climbing a tree or taking pictures and I ended up choosing pictures. I dug out some of my ‘treasures’ and below are the ‘best of the afternoon’.

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Secondly, I’m pleased to announce that Song of the Sword is coming along splendidly. Keep an eye out, because I’ll be opening it up to a select number of beta readers next week.

I’m also starting to plan out the third Legends of Light novella. At least I’m trying to. The theme will be peace, but I need a fairy  tale. I do have one, a lesser known story called Fairy of the Dawn, but I’m not sure if it’s going to work like I want. So I’m asking, what are some of your favorite fairy tales?

I already have the common stories written or planned: Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. But I’d love if you’d comment below with other common fairy tales I may have missed or some of your own personal favorites. 😉

 

Longbows – part 1

I’ve always loved archers and archeress. Robin Hood, Queen Susan, Hawkeye, Katniss, Legolas, Silvara… Whether in movies, books, or real-life, archery is cool to watch. There’s something about the quick draw, flashing arrow, and bullseye impact dozens of feet away. And, in a fantasy or medieval battle, bows are an important feature on the field.

Longbows generally stood taller than the men who drew them because the height of man is proportional to his arm and, hence, his draw length. Yew wood is the traditional wood of choice for the longbow, but other woods worked well too such as Wych elm and the Italian yew. There were also recurve longbows, where the end of the bows limbs are bent slightly out to increase power for the length of the bow. These, however, took more work and were more expensive.

Bows shot on the battlefield likely had draw weights between 90 and 120 pounds, though views on this differ. Some archers may have even brought two bows with them. A stronger one to begin shooting and a lighter one for later on when their arms were tired, or as a backup if one bow broke. There were even some bows outfitted with pointed limbs so they could be quickly transferred into a stabbing weapon if arrows were gone and the enemy fast approaching.

Longbow men could shoot fast, and at quite a long range. Old archery fields sport marks with distances ranging from 130 yards to 345 yards. During the 1500s, under Henry VIII, archers were expected to be able to shoot with accuracy at a range at 220 yards. Well trained men could shoot 250-350 yards while there are claims of a man loosing an arrow 482 yards with a longbow.

An expert bowman could loose 10-12 arrows a minute during battle. (A quick side note here; arrows are loosed from a bow, not fired. That term came later, in relation to guns.)

Longbows part 1Providing for archers in war was anything but cheap. At various times, law required archers to provide themselves with a sheaf of 24 arrows, but during battle these would swiftly be gone and the resupplying of arrows must have been a constant job.

Ash and Aspen appear to be some of the most popular wood for arrow making, while repairing arrows was a viable possibility after battle, considering the cost of a sheaf being nearly five days wages.

Arrowheads were of various qualities, with the best arrows carrying tips of hardened steel using a quenching process. Since the iron for these tips had to be of a certain quality, and the process took longer, these arrows were more expensive. The vast majority of the arrows were boiled or tempered.

Different arrowheads were required to shoot against various kinds of armor, and it is a very real possibility that archers carried two or three kinds of arrows, laid them out before the battle, and chose their arrows depending on their targets.

The cutting head, broadhead, or long-needle bodkin were ideal arrows when shooting against textile armor (more on armor below) but some arrowheads would curl against plate armor. A short bodkin, on the other hand, might punch though plate armor but would not pierce mail, while a long bodkin would. But it is important to note that an arrow, even if unable to pierce the armor, could deal strong blows with bruising or worse simply due to the force behind the projectile.

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For more about these arrows, as well as the source of the picture, check out this page.

1) Swallowtail broadhead. 2) Small straight broadhead. 3) Forked hunting head. 4) London Museum type 16 war head; it is a war head of the later medieval period used to pierce plate armor. 5) War bodkin long type 10. – This war head is the most common of the medieval period. It was used against knights in plate armor and will penetrate armor up to two millimeters in thickness. 6) Needle bodkin type 7. – This war head was developed to pierce mail with devastating results

Barbed arrows existed, though they were more expensive and it is unknown to what extend they were used on the battlefield. But, barbed or not, many arrowheads were simply shoved firmly onto the arrow instead of being fastened. That way, when one was wounded with an arrow, the head would likely be left in the wound.

The shield was the most significant single item in the defense against arrows. Made of wood, reinforced with multiple laminations of heavy canvas and sometimes even with parchment, most shields were not meant to last for long periods of time like swords and bows. A well thrown spear could disable it, while swords and axes could chop it down during battle. But, if made properly, a shield could adequately protect the vital areas of the man bearing it from longbow arrows.

But a shield can’t protect the whole body and so armor was worn.

Mail was perhaps the most commonly worn metal armor of the medieval period. It combined good protection with flexibility and also held the potential of repair. Of a greater or lesser strength depending on its make, mail was especially effective against cutting blows from a sword or ax, but was less useful against a bodkin-style arrow. To penetrate, any arrow needed to strike the mail at close to 90 degrees to the target surface.

Textile armor was commonly worn beneath mail, leather, or plate armor. It consisted of a stuffed and quilted knee-length coat which offered formidable resistance to the shock of an arrow impact as well as obstructing penetration.

Plate armor, consisting of metal plates riveted to the inside of a leather or linen base, was the next step up and a good defense against arrows. But all such armor gave way under an arrow strike and could cause bruising and internal damage. Full piece plate armor was an even better defense, and well able to deflect arrows unless the arrow struck close to the perpendicular.

Helmets were also useful. But when the wearers took them off or lifted the visor due to heat or to rally their men, archers tended to aim for their wearer’s faces.

The longbow was a powerful weapon, used for hundreds of years. As with any other weapon, the training of the archer, the quality of the bow and arrows, and the quality of defensive armor were all factors to the damage done on the field.

And that will be the topic of my next article; archers in battle.

(Information from The Longbow by Mike Loades)

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