Reflections from an emerging writer as she journeys through the creative process.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nobility in Medieval Times

Today is the 14th day of the A to Z April Challenge. This means two weeks of blogging the alphabet every day except Sundays. For those who would like to visit other participants listed on the main web page, click HERE.

I chose Fantasy for my theme and today I'm looking at the Nobility in Medieval Times. I use the medieval social structure in some of my fantasy stories.

In medieval times, most of the people were peasants, farmers who worked all the time just to grow food.  They were protected by the Nobles.  But who made up the nobility? The Nobility included the landowners, the King, Lords and Ladies, and Knights of the kingdom.  
The King: The King was the highest noble of the land.  In theory, the king owned all the land.  The King gave out fiefs to his followers, which put them in charge of a portion of the land.  The fief holder had to pay the king rent, taxes, and provide soldiers whenever the king needed them.  
A Lord: A Lord was given a fief by the king.  The lord was expected to pay taxes to the king and provide soldiers when needed.  To do that, the lord was given absolute power over his fief.  Within it, a lord's word was the law.  Whatever the lord said, the people had to do.    
A Lady: A Lord also needed a wife who was called a Lady.  Her job was to take care of the manor, run the house, and most importantly to have children.  Women in medieval times had no rights.  They were property.  They belonged to their father, husband or even eldest son.  This is not to say some women didn't take charge, but the law said they were property.  
Children: A boy learned how to be a Knight starting at about seven years old.  Sometimes they were even taught how to read and write.  Girls were not.  They were instead expected to learn from their mother all the skills of being a good wife.  

I imagine that it was hard for the nobility to live in a time when the upper class was continually grappling for who would come out on top. There was constant treachery, kidnapping and even murder of the royals, forcing the nobles family to live with body guards, food tasters and soldiers surrounding them. This meant a host of lower class servants that would be loyal to the family. How did they find these servants? Perhaps some Lords treated their subjects with enough kindness to earn respect and devotion, but others ruled with an iron fist and used fear as a way of controlling their underlings, with punishment and death as rewards for disobedience.

Have you used this social structure in your stories? How did it work for you?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Today is day thirteen in the A to Z April Challenge. Participants in this blog hop post each day on a different letter of the alphabet (except Sundays). To visit the main web page click Here.

I chose Fantasy as my theme and today is about Middle-earth.

Middle-earth is the fictional universe setting of the majority of author J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. Properly, Middle-earth is the central continent of the imagined world, not a name of the entire world.
Tolkien prepared several maps of Middle-earth and of the regions of Middle-earth where his stories took place. Some were published in his lifetime, though some of the earliest maps were not published until after his death. The main maps were those published in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. Most of the events of the First Age took place in the subcontinent Beleriand, which was later engulfed by the ocean at the end of the First Age. Tolkien's map of Middle-earth, however, shows only a small part of the world, most of the lands of Rhun and Harad are not shown on the map, and there are also other continents.

Tolkien wrote many times that Middle-earth is located on our earth. He described it as an imaginary period in Earth's past, not only in The Lord of the Rings, but also several letters. He put the end of the Third Age about 6,000 years before his own time, and the environs of the Shire in what is now Northwestern Europe (Hobbiton for example was set at the same latitude as Oxford), though in replies to letters he would also describe elements of the stories as a "...secondary or sub-creational reality" or "Secondary belief". During an interview in January 1971, when asked if the stories take place in a different era, he stated, " a different stage of imagination, yes." However he did nod to the stories setting on earth, speaking of Midgard and Middle-earth, he said, "Oh yes, they're the same word. Most people have made this mistake of thinking Middle-earth is a particular kind of earth or is another planet of the science fiction sort but it's just an old fashioned word for this world we live in, as imagined surrounded by the ocean."

Such an incredible imagination that Tolkien had, I am awed. In one simple word comes an entire world. Do you make maps with your worlds? I have and want to incorporate them in my stories.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Welcome to the 12th day of the A to Z April Challenge. This is a blog hop where the participants follow the alphabet and post every day except Sundays. To visit the main web page click HERE.

I chose Fantasy as my theme and today is about Leprechauns.

Probably the most famous of the Irish fairies, leprechauns are little people in Irish folklore, usually clad in a red or green coat, who enjoy partaking in mischief. Like other fairy creatures, leprechauns have been linked to the Tuatha De Danann of Irish mythology. The leprechauns spend all their time busily making shoes, and store away all their coins in a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If ever captured by a human, the leprechaun has the power to grant three wishes in exchange for their release. However, they are exceptionally clever and tricky and very few mortals ever get the best of a leprechaun.

Popular depiction shows the leprechaun as being no taller than a small child, with a beard and hat, although they may have originally been perceived as the tallest of the mound dwellers (the Tuatha De Danann).

The earliest known reference to the leprechaun appears in the medieval tale known as the Echtra Fergus mac Leti (Adventure of Fergus son of Leti). The text contains an episode in which Fergus mac Leti, King of Ulster, falls asleep on the beach and wakes up to find himself being dragged into the sea by three luchorpain. He captures his abductors, who grant him three wishes in exchange for their release.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Today is the eleventh day of the A to Z April Challenge, where bloggers post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sunday. To visit the main web page in this blog hop, just click HERE.

I've chosen Fantasy as my theme this month and today is about Knighthood. 

Knights were frequently organized into orders of knighthood, many of which were fraternal of military associations of armed, armored and mounted expert soldiers fervently dedicated to God or some other noble cause. Just as such organizations can evoke colorful and powerful images of their role in history, so too can they be used to evoke powerful images in works of fantasy.

In the Early Medieval period any well-equipped horseman could be described as a 'knight,' or miles in Latin. In the course of the 12th century knighthood became a social rank with a distinction being made between 'milites gregarii' (non-noble cavalrymen) and milites nobiles (true knights). As the term 'knight' became increasingly confined to denoting a social rank, the military role of fully armoured cavalryman gained a separate term, 'man-at-arms'. Although any Medieval knight going to war would automatically serve as a man-at-arms, not all men-at-arms were knights.

(The battle between the Turks and Christian knights during the Ottoman wars in Europe.)
The first military orders of knighthood were of Knights Hospitaller and of the Holy Sepulchre, both founded at the First Crusade of 1099, followed by the Knights Templar (1119) and the Order of Saint Lazarus (1098). At the time of their foundation, these were intended as monastic orders, whose members would act as simple soldiers protecting pilgrims. It was only over the following century, with the successful conquest of the Holy Land and the rise of the crusader states, that these orders became powerful and prestigious.
The ideal of chivalry as the ethos of the Christian warrior, and the transmutation of the term knight from the meaning "servant, soldier", and of chevalier "mounted soldier", to refer to a member of this ideal class, is significantly influenced by the Crusades, on one hand inspired by the military orders of monastic warriors, as seen retrospectively from the point of view of the beginning Late Middle Ages, and on the other hand influenced by Islamic (Saracen) ideals.

I imagine that being a knight was a difficult life for any person who chose to serve in this capacity. Would you want to be a knight?

Friday, April 11, 2014


Today is the tenth day of the A to Z April Challenge for 2014. Participants post on the alphabet every day except Sunday. You can visit other fellow bloggers in this blog hop by clicking HERE.

I chose Fantasy for my theme and today is Jabberwocky.

"The Jabberwock with eyes of flame" is a creation of Lewis Carroll and appears in the poem "Jabberwocky" in the book Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. 

  ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

 My oldest brother used to recite this to us when we were young. I used to shiver at the "jaws that bite" and "claws that clutch" and "The worpal blade went snicker-snack!" I imagined the "Jabberwock with eyes of flame" many times on dark, spooky nights.

(I apologize for the fuzzy copy. I tried to get it to enlarge, but this was the best it would do.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Individualization and Characterization

Today is the ninth day of the A to Z April Challenge. This is a blog hop where participants post about a letter of the alphabet, every day except Sunday. You can go to the main web page to visit other participants HERE.

My theme is Fantasy and today is Individualization and Characterization. In order to keep this short, this is an abbreviated discussion.

In Fantasy, there are many different types of characters, or new races introduced to the reader during the course of a story How we create these races can be done by inventing the race, borrowing from ancient mythology or by re-writing an already established race.

Although there are several ways of creating or adapting new races and new outlook on races, one of the surest ways of bringing a race to life is by creating an individual from that race and making him a fully developed character. Many people like to use character interviews where they develop their traits from a personality assessment.

For example, Robert Aspirin, in his Myth Adventures, introduced trolls by presenting Chumley as a real person. Aspirin demonstrates Chumley's intelligence and his big heart through his interaction with the other characters. Terry Pratchett does the same thing for the troll Detritus. Though slow-witted, the troll develops a friendship with his co-worker, the dwarf Cuddy. Pratchett's dwarves also come alive through Carrot, the six foot adopted dwarf, and Corporal Littlebottom, a female dwarf who also joins the Guard. Andre Norton's Dahuan brings the Green People to full realization as Orsya of the Krogan does for that race. Mercedes Lackey's gryphon Skandrannon's love of adventure, his vanity and his devotion to his family make him as human as anyone. To be a successful troll, dwarf, fairy, elf, gryphon or whatever, the character must come alive. That is one of the true keys to breathing life into a cliched race.

How do you create your characters and in what century would they be from?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Today is the eight day of the A to Z April Challenge. This is a blog hop where participants post each day, except Sundays. We have over 1600 participants, so I hope you meet some new friends. To visit the main web page and visit other bloggers in this challenge click HERE.

I chose Fantasy for my theme and today is Hippogriff.

Hippogriff (aka: Hippogriffin) 

The hippogriff was the offspring of a gryphon - a half eagle/half lion - and a mare, and was considered by medieval writers to be a natural, nonmagical beast. It had the body of a horse and the forelegs, claws, wings and beak of a griffin, which were basically identical to those of an eagle. The hippogriff is often associated with the sun, the gryphons and horses of Apollo's chariot, and the Pegasus. The hippogriff's story is told in Orlando Furioso by Ariosto, most episodes of which are derived from Greek and other legends.

The hippogriff was originally tamed by a magician named Atlantes who lived in a castle in the Pyrenees where Rogero, the magician's foster son, was kept prisoner. Eventually Rogero escaped and took the hippogriff as his mount. In one adventure, it was ridden by Rogero as he tried to save a damsel from sacrifice to a sea beast, an episode that greatly resembled one of Perseus's adventures.

The hippogriff eventually passed into the hands of one of Charlemagne's knights, who then learned from Saint John how to defeat the pagan Africans. In the end, the hippogriff was set free into the mountains and never seen again. Until it was revived in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. The hippogriff, named Buckbeak, was rescued from execution and flew away with Harry's uncle, never to be reappear again in the story.

J. K. Rowling's use a this mythical creature is an excellent example of how writers incorporate beasts in their stories.