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This week: Weather Wields Worldly WorldsEdited by: Shaara, The Gardener
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As one of your Fantasy editors, my goal is to challenge you to think outside the KNOWN and to help you inject your tales with fascinating facts while jagging left and right through troublesome frolics and teethe-writhing dilemmas.
Perhaps we can help each other to safely jog through these twisty turns of radical thought, alternate viewpoint, and dynamic detail. Come! Let’s head down the Path of Dimensions, untextured by any earthly array.
In other words,
let’s drop out of reality for awhile.
Weather Wields Worldly Worlds
Weather plays a significant role in our own world. In our approaching ice age -- or is it the melting of all the glaciers -- daily life is gobbled up or trampled down by such medieval beasts as hurricanes and tornadoes. We grow to expect them (but yet are always surprised when they hit.)
Global eruptions smother cities in a gloom so heavy vegetation turns brown. People stop jogging; even stop walking, afraid of the Underworld stench of sulfur and the unhealthiness of its polluted air. Just recently, even air traffic halted and awaited Iceland’s infamous volcano. Who could have envisioned airplanes, like giant birds with broken wings, stuck on cement landing strips, grounded day after day?
Tidal waves from undersea earthquakes swallow civilization’s effects, as to simple floods from torrents of unending rain. Animals and humans flee (hopefully in time,) but buildings topple over. Pulverized bits of lumber and great boulders of rock join broken bed frames, smashed refrigerators, and file cabinets awash in sewage and grime. Streets become rivers. Houses gain indoor pools. Debris floats about like cast-off rubber duckies, bobbing and dipping in the currents and eddies.
Could this only occur on Earth, or could other water worlds be prone to such misfortunes?
Here on Earth, lightning strikes at forests, spreading fire like some kind of plague of contagion. Hail rains like meteor showers, sending icy baseballs crashing down on humans and property. With just a simple deluge or the melting of snowpack, mountains crumble and cascade. Desert winds suck out life and bury it. Other winds only buckle and fold metal like accordions.
But always, weather challenges, engages, and dominates more powerfully than any dark kingdom’s war lord.
Do we remember to add its saucy temper to our novels and short stories? Does weather impact both character and plot?
The volcanic inspired gloom of what was called “Europe’s year without a summer” was said to have given the book, Frankenstein its darkness. How will Iceland’s current volcanic eruptions inspire and form the stimulus for Earth’s future fictional stories? Will authors be more inclined to write about volcanoes on far-off worlds or in the fantasy kingdoms where unicorns dance with Pegasus steeds and ogres growl at fairies?
I think weather should very much impact an author’s writing. It should direct, implode, interfere, and sway the weight of those who control.
Suppose that a magician gathers his forces from dark nimbostratus rainclouds, but suddenly the skies grow clear? What if a tornado lifts up the hordes of zombies as they surmount their strike on the city of Zambador? What if a hurricane flattens every castle but one? Does that knight suddenly become king? What if floods completely devastate the Secret Society of Magic?
The weather (short term events) and climate (long term) of a kingdom or planet must seriously be taken into account, for it can and should affect the story. (Think of Dune, and how much that desert environment/climate was the key to an entire saga.)
Climate and weather paint realism into a book, realism that authors can utilize -- not only for the details of a tale, but in the authenticity of its fabric.
Unlike reality, the joy of portraying weather is that we authors get to create it. We can make our settings like Camelot where rain comes only at night, or can blister the land with ammonia and sulfur rains. We can choose to zap the evil ones with bowling ball-size hail or gently cascade dewdrops on the heroine – just enough to set her dark brown locks into curl. We authors are the powerful whose fingers dance fire, water, ice, and destruction or sunny days of blue bird happiness and sweetly scented lilacs.
But we must always remember to provide weather reports, for whether each day is dark and stormy, cool and breezy, or electrifyingly dangerous, the weather weathers our heroes and heroines) in sometimes cosmic ways.
As all can see from our nightly news, weather can truly wield worlds of woe or shine sweetly like dappled shades of light through autumn-colored leaves.
This Week’s Featured Pieces:
When a spell seems just perfect, but goes all wrong!
Dosing her was simplicity itself. Oh, if this had been a tv sitcom or some teen-age fiction I probably would have tried some elaborate scheme and had it go hideously awry. But this was real life – and all I had to do was touch her! So, after calculus class on Friday, I stepped behind her, sweat and potion sticky on my palm and, pushing down my sudden panic, placed my hand upon her neck.
Whatever happens to the bad guy after he gets whipped? This is a story that gives one possible answer to that:
The Dark Lord stood tall, surveying his new domain with an evil glare. His pitiful subjects stared back with wide, fearful eyes. He clenched a wicked, gauntleted fist. They shuffled away from him, shaking their heads. He took a threatening step forward.
How about a ghost story that happens in the daylight, in sunshine, in fine summer weather?
It was a bright, sunny summer day when my visiting cousin, Rube, and I were tromping through the woods as we usually did when she was there. Sunlight filtered through the trees dappling the decaying leafy carpet beneath our feet. Finding a lush bed of spongy moss we sat down on its velvety surface and leaned back against the rough bark of an ancient oak. All around us the birds chirped back and forth or sang their cheerful melodies while chattering squirrels chased each other through the branches over our heads.
This one is a twist of a tale. She’s got the Beast made out to be a real icky dude of a victim. Oh, and it does mention a storm!
"Ya," snorted Grunth, "and he used to dress up in human clothes and pretend to live there. Stupidest thing you ever saw - him in a waistcoat and frilly shirt."
"Or maybe not that stupid. 'Cause the house was right by the main road, and when a storm hit, travelers would ask to spend the night."
"Take out, with home delivery!" All three guffawed.
What if a heavy storm complicates a mandatory landing?
I corrected for a sudden shift of the wind. I was dripping with wet. The ship was taking all my strength to hold her, but my sweat was not due to the exertion as much as my worry for Sadha. She was the reason I couldn't lift the ship up and simply outwait the storm in the upper atmosphere.
I have a poem that’s just too cute not to include! I love dragons, and this one’s a real keeper!
Well I figured, no problem, how hard could it be
To keep you a secret – you’re as big as a flea!
But then not just in size, but in attitude too,
As days, weeks wore on, girl, you grew and you grew!
The following is merely an exercise, as the author calls it, but it’s all about weather and really quite enchanting.
But then she supposed the weather could do whatever it liked, despite whatever objections came from the weatherman and various folk who thought the weather ought to make up its mind and stop leaving wet white bits in their hair.
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Concerning the May 19th Fantasy Newsletter: (If you didn’t get a chance to read my last issue, you can find all my past newsletters at:
I loved all the comments from the last issue! Thanks so much, everyone. It was such fun to read what you thought. I love communicating with real people (well, aliens would be nice, too, but . . . )
Here they are:
I, too, have been interested in this paranormal romance trend. Lots of fascinating possibilities.
I want to inject here that I know not just one exception but many exceptions to the divorce "rule." The statistics are certainly dismal, but marriages can and do work when there is a Third to strengthen the relationship. "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." By God's grace, my husband and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage this year and we plan to celebrate our 60th anniversary some day. So, I understand and sympathize with the cynicism, but I want people to know that life-long monogamous marriages are still possible, even if they are rare and seem to be becoming rarer.
Thanks for another fun newsletter.
Congratulations. I am in awe. I do agree with the possibility that some marriages work. I’d love to believe in them in general.
I have a good friend whose husband and she act like newlyweds – after thirty years! I don’t mean the kissing and hugging part. I mean in the look in their eyes when they look at each other. Sigh.
And my own grandparents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. So . . .
Thanks for writing about your loving relationship. It’s encouraging. And thanks for your comments on my newsletter!
Shaara, a cynically but very romantic fool
Di-Back to school!
Oh, Shaara! I laughed the whole time I read this newsletter. Thank you for a breath of fresh and honest air breathed onto outer space romance.
Oh, you liked it! You liked it! Thank you for your words. You made me fly higher than a kite, and I barely touched ground the whole month!
Big, big (ok, enormous) smile,
Loved the artwork...it made me smile! Also I think it's great that you have an excerpt from each of your picks, none of the other newsletters do that...they just give the title and handle like the site does when you go to "read something." Very fun! Haha, I am honored to know quite a few SUPER MARRIEDS!
I have a fan of my artwork? Wow! No wonder I’m dancing these days. Most be something in the air!
I am so glad you appreciate what I do. Thank you, thank you for saying that!
With a smile that stretch from California to New York,
Alien human space romances always make me think of bad 70s pornography. Not that I've actually ever seen one but...
Do you mean that aliens are into pornography? I didn’t know that. I’m actually rather innocent, but I guess, I better start looking around. Is it like those black velvet Elvis pictures? (Of course you’ve never seen any, you say. So where do I look?)
P.S. Thanks for the comments. I haven’t stopped giggling yet.
Short and sweet, i've learn't a lot from this news letter. to know that though im only starting out the ideas i have aren't crazy and weird that would get me admitted to a cushy white padded room im very shy when it comes to my writing and reading more and more of these news letters is helping like you wouldn't believe.
They haven’t committed me yet, and I’ve been writing about aliens for decades. (Of course, I was precocious and started in my playpen. LOL)
Keep imagining, dreaming, and writing, writing, writing, and soon you’ll be just as crazy as me!
To me love is universal. It is a part of life. So it makes sense that love would span the genres and in fantasy, become multi-universal. When we create new worlds, we would be remiss to leave out the things that truly make life interesting. And without love, life would be boring indeed.
Oh, I agree whole-heartedly. Without love even the spaghetti sauce would be blah because it takes LOVE to really spice up life.
I think I just made sense, but maybe not. Anyway, thank you for confirming what I said: we need romance in fantasy and science fiction! Yeah!
Thanks for writing. I really loved hearing your opinion! (Not just because it agreed with mine – really!)
Angelica Weatherby ~ Summer
Stephen King's "Eyes of the Dragon" would be a great one to talk about involving romance. Mwuahuhahaha Great newsletter!
I have written that down to dip into as soon as school is out. Yummy! I can’t wait. Thanks for the recommendation and for responding to my newsletter!
Smiles and thanks,
LJPC - the tortoise
Yes, romance and spec-fic can go hand-in-hand. Just as there are cross-genre stories, there can be cross-species relationships. Spec-fic is a microscope through which we examine our own world, in all its changing colors and dimensions. Thanks for the fascinating newsletter. -- Laura
Thank you for calling my newsletter fascinating. I’ve read that comment over and over. (In fact, I may have it inscribed and hang it up over my computer desk!)
Cross-species – what an interesting name for a book. Is it up for grabs? Please?
Eager to write the story,
Since my question isn't a specific response to your latest newsletter, which I must say was very thought-provoking. I write fantasy romance, but sci-fi romance isn't all the different, yet its different enough because it presents different challenges.
Anyway, my question is, have you ever had readers have problems with the names you created in your fantasy stories? How have you handled it?
I've gotten some feedback on my novel, "Flight of Love - 1st Revise - WIP" , that people are confused by the names and suggested that I do a glossary at the beginning of my novel that outlines the names and who and what they are. I'm considering it, but I didn't think that the names I created were all that hard to keep track of. But maybe it's because I'm the one who came up with them and they make sense to me.
Anyway, I was just curious if you have ever encountered an issue like this, or maybe written an article on the topic of creating fantasy names.
Thanks, and take care!
~ ~ ~ Sarah ~ ~ ~
Yes, I often have that problem when I read some writers’ books. If the names they’ve used are too similar, the book completely loses me. For that reason, I try to make my characters as diverse as possible. For instance, if the main guy is Tom, I wouldn’t name another character Tim. I’d probably use Randy or Steven.
Since I write science fiction, I don’t often use names that are Terran. I make up names that have a nice sound (at least to me.) Most of you don’t know, I’m sure, that my name Shaara comes from a female character in one of my novels. I had written her name so often, she almost felt like my alter ego. LOL
But back to your question. Often as I write my novel, choosing the name I give the character – usually on a whim -- doesn’t work out. Either the name fits a different character more, or the character just doesn’t belong to that name. So, sometimes, right in the middle of the book, I rebaptize him, so to speak.
One time when I didn’t want to bother stopping to ponder a name, I dubbed a planet Westla (for West L. A.). I figured if it were something easy, I’d remember it and not have to glance back at my cheat sheet all the time. It’s funny, though, because in the end, I got so used to using that name, I left it. Westla remains the name of one of the planets in a sci/fi series I wrote.
However, back to advice: Writing a name that is unpronounceable is not a good idea. That’s why, I think, so many of us fail at reading Russian novels. War and Peace may be a fascinating book, but someone is going to have to transcribe it for me using Tom, Dick, and Harry.
I hope this helps, but I also am counting on some of the Fantasy Newsletter readers to write a response to your question. It’s a great topic. Please respond to Sarah!
A Midsummer Night's Waltz
Shaara, thanks for taking the Romance idea and running with it. Just one thing... you wrote:
"It is possible that even Superman who was quite fond of the telephone booth, met Lois there a time or two."
Every fan of fantasy or science fiction should have this essay as required reading:
"Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex"
by Larry Niven (1971)
Oh, my! Blushes and titters. That was a spicy meatball. I loved it! I never thought about all that, and I know neither did Hollywood. Poor Superman. He’s doomed to a life alone.
P.S. Thanks for forgiving me for raining on your plain (spaceship?)
Good notes on SciFi romance. It is a natural progression when you consider Fantasy/Romance like Sherrilyn Kenyon and Horror/Romance like L.A. Banks's novels and a certain series which shall remain nameless (Hint: the time of day between sunset and nightfall). There is where a good of money goes, only a matter of time before SciFi followed suit.
You’ve just given me some more summer reading. Yummy. I’m not familiar with either of those authors. (It just shows that teaching, correcting papers and tests, and going to school meetings really puts a cramp in my free reading time!)
Thanks for the recommendations and for responding to my newsletter. I am most appreciative!
A big smile of thanks,
And a hug to all, and a gentle reminder
that I absolutely LOVE to hear from my readers,
so please, please, please write me!
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