Wishing for a Boxed Set

For nearly a year, I’ve been longing to create boxed sets of my books.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Lodestone Tales set or a Kaunis Clan set? Really I’ve been envisioning variations in my mind’s eye ever since I saw the cool 3D images created for bundles by Chuck Heintzelman at BundleRabbit.

Adding fuel to the inspirational fire has been the urging from Kobo, both in their newsletter for indies and in their promotional opportunities. There have been special promos for boxed sets at least three times this year, and, oh, but I wished each time that I had something to offer.

I didn’t. But I put “create boxed set” on my to-do list.

Between surgery, complications from surgery, and twins applying to colleges, I fell very far behind in doing all those items on my to-do list. For a long time I kept adding more items without crossing any off! Yikes!

But in October I began to make progress, and while I’m not yet caught up, I’m getting there.

So I tackled making a boxed set of the Kaunis Clan Saga.

Creating the interior was routine. I’ve grown very experienced with the program I use to produce ebooks. (Jutoh.) Creating the cover was fun.

Creating the 3D image of the boxed set? Well…that’s complicated.

First of all, several of the e-tailer sites strongly discourage 3D images. Kobo claims that the flat 2D covers sell many more copies than do the 3D ones. Since I want to sell some copies on Kobo, and since I hope to be selected for promos on Kobo (the promo slots are curated), I figure I’d better follow their guidelines.

I could get by without any 3D image, but I’d like to have one for Amazon. And I thought I’d found the perfect resource for easily creating one.

Mark of CoverVault.com sells an awesome template for boxed sets of any size up to 25 books. You just drop your box cover and book spine images into the template, and out spits your perfectly rendered 3D image.

I headed over to CoverVault, all prepared to snag the goods, and—

—hit a different kind of snag.

You must have Creative Suite 4 or better. I have CS2. So I set out to build my 3D image from scratch.

I was surprised that I managed as well as I did, because I’m not experienced at creating 3D images. Cover design as practiced by me is a very 2D endeavor.

But I’m not satisfied enough with the result to publish the boxed set on Amazon.

At first I thought that lack of precision was my problem. If you zoom in very close, some of the details do look clumsy. But zoomed out to thumbnail size, any lack of precision is pretty well camouflaged.

So why wasn’t I satisfied?

I browsed through the boxed sets offered by other indies, and found my answer.

Bundles have a rainbow of book spines showing, and it works—probably because it visually illustrates the multitude of authors contributing stories to the bundle.

But boxed sets of books by one author have book spines designed especially for the set that harmonize with each other and the box cover.

So the next item on my to-do list? Create book spines that possess the same visual theme exhibited by my boxed set’s cover.

I’m crossing my fingers that I’ve identified the problem and its solution correctly! If my 3D image still doesn’t look right…I’ll have to come up with a plan B. Either way, I’ll let you know how it goes. 😀

 

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Covers, and More Covers

These days I commission cover designs for my novels from Deranged Doctor Design. Their designers are true artists, able to take half a dozen stock images and combine them to create beautiful, unique art that hits the genre conventions of today. I love what they do, and I love the covers they created for The Tally Master and A Talisman Arcane. This month they’ll start work on a cover for my upcoming release, Sovereign Night.

You might expect that my own cover designing days were over, but they’re not, and I’m glad of it. Photoshop still feels like a playground to me, and I’d be sad to give up playing there.

Luckily, I have short stories, novellas, and bundles to design covers for.

It’s been more than a year since I last collected my most recent covers together in one spot to look at them. I tend to lose track of all I’ve created, so I enjoy making a sort of virtual bulletin board where I can see everything at a glance. Since I’ve made it, I figured I might as well share it. 😀

I hope you’ll enjoy perusing it, too.

Here Be Fairies I Here Be Unicorns I Eclectica I Here Be Merfolk
Here Be Magic I Blood Moon I Might Have Been I Here Be Ghosts

For last year’s bulletin board of covers, see:
A Boatload of Covers

 

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Am I Daring?

One lone idea sparked my short story, “To Haunt the Daring Place.” I wanted to tell about the founding of a monastery that will feature in the ninth book of my Gael & Keir series.

That was all I had.

There was a monastery. It had an unusual founding. Gael and Keir would visit the place a hundred years (or two) later.

My logical self informed me that this was a slim spot to start from.

My storyteller self felt serenely sanguine. There was a story already present, hiding in my subconscious and ready to be revealed. All I needed to do was trust in its existence and tell it.

I mused upon my protagonist. He was a scholar and a mage, possessed of great world-wonder. He felt curious about everything, but he’d taken a break from the scholarship he loved to rebuild his fortunes, which were decimated by the troll wars. Now he was reclaiming his curiosity.

His name was Coehlin, and he was an especial fan of ancient North-lands philosophers such as Kleomedes the Younger and Aglaia of Seleucis.

I envisioned the story appearing in my collection, Tales of Old Giralliya.

The time period seemed to fit, and I envisioned a sort of fairy tale style for its telling.

But after I wrote the first scene, it was clear that I wasn’t using a fairy tale style at all. It wasn’t right for the story I wanted to tell. Nor would the length be comparable to that of the other stories in Tales of Old Giralliya. They fell in a range between 700 and 4,500 words. “To Haunt the Daring Place” would be at least 6,000 words, maybe more.

My next plan was to submit the story to SFF magazines.

web imageI’d received a nice comment from a magazine editor when I submitted “Crossing the Naiad” to him. Recently I learned what a personal comment like that meant, aside from, ‘It’s good!’ It meant that he’d read the story all the way to its end. And editors don’t do that unless either: 1) they think they might buy the story for their magazine, or 2) they are enjoying the story so much that even though it is not right for their magazine, they can’t bear to stop.

That put my editor’s comment in a new perspective. Getting a story accepted seemed like it might truly be possible!

But as I wrote “To Haunt,” I began to worry that it would be too long for any magazine. Wasn’t 6,000 words the top limit for many? And it was becoming ever more certain that “To Haunt” was going to cross that 6K limit.

In fact, the first draft of “To Haunt” came in at 13,714 words. Yikes!

If 6,000 were the top edge, then my story was more than twice as long. Cutting it down a little to fit wouldn’t be feasible. But I could (and should) check that limit. Maybe my memory was wrong. Maybe, even if I remembered right, there might be a few magazines that would take a novelette. Or, if there weren’t any magazines that would, maybe there would be an anthology call permitting longer lengths.

What I really wanted was to get my story into a magazine with a circulation of thousands or an anthology with an editor possessing an established audience of thousands. The readers who read my work seem to love it. But their numbers are, as yet, few. I want readers who have never heard of me to have a chance at reading my stories.

So…is there a potential venue for “To Haunt the Daring Place”?

Yes!

I checked the word limits for the top magazines, and many of them accept submissions up to 20K. A few specify 15K, and one 10K.

Obviously the 10K rag won’t work for “To Haunt,” but I have lots of options. Yay! I’m pretty thrilled about it.

So…did the monastery get founded?

W-e-l-l…not exactly.

The magical architectural element that leads to the founding of the monastery is indeed created in the events recounted in “To Haunt the Daring Place.” But the monastery itself? No. It’s never even mentioned.

But it will be a fun Easter egg for readers of both “To Haunt the Daring Place” and Book Nine of the Gael & Keir Adventures. I assure you that the architectural element is not something that can be missed!

Wish me luck in getting the story accepted. 😀

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Caught Between Two Armies
Tales in a New Bundle

 

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Caught Between Two Armies

Before I embarked on writing “The Kite Climber,” I possessed only the haziest of ideas for the story I wanted to tell.

It involved kites and civil war.

That was all I had.

I knew very little about man-lifting kites. I knew they existed historically. I knew they’d been used in times of war for signaling and observation. I had this vision in my head of a gigantic diamond-shaped kite with a man lashed to its cross bracing. That’s actually not what man-lifting kites look like, but I didn’t know that then.

Nor did I go seeking such information.

I felt like I needed the emotional heart of my story more than I needed technical details.

I trawled through my memories of my backlist books in hope of finding inspiration, and find it I did in a passage from Troll-magic.

Lorelin . . . embarked on the story of Emoirie’s great grandmere, the remarkable lady who’d saved her village when it was caught between opposing battalions in the Wars of the Tree Wands; and then for an encore went on to boss around the most influential Giralliyan Paucitor of her times. All before the age of twenty years, when she returned by choice to her humble origins and lived happily to become matriarch over innumerable grandchildren.

I loved the possibility of telling the story of Emoirie’s great grandmother.

There was only one problem with that, but it was a serious one. Emoirie lives in the Steam Age of my North-lands. Her great grandmother would have lived in the Age of Sail.

The story I wanted to tell took place long before then, at the end of classical antiquity when much of Giralliya was war-torn and falling into the barbarism of the Dark Ages.

I teetered on the edge of dismissing my feeling of inspiration, and then decided I’d be bold and uphold my inner artist. Surely Emoirie’s great grandmother wasn’t the only woman who’d been faced with saving her home when it stood between opposing armies.

I would tell the story of a girl confronted with exactly that circumstance, but living in the violent period of history that I wished to chronicle.

I was so excited by my decision, that I dove right in!

No research, no hesitation, just a quick sweep for names (people and places), and then I began.

I’d imagined starting with the girl who’d been stolen to climb the kite tethers, carrying reports from the man aloft in the kite to the forces on the ground. Instead, I delved into the source of the armed conflict. Only after I’d recounted the story of the three hostile ducal brothers did I turn to Andraia, my heroine.

But it was going well, and I was loving it.

I never did check into the man-lifting kites—not until after I finished the story.

The fighting brothers were all mages—powerful troll-mages. They were more than capable of using magery to give their colossal diamond-shaped kites a boost, if the technical aspects really required more lift than a diamond-shaped kite could provide.

“The Kite Climber” is one story of six in Tales of Old Giralliya.

For more about the collection, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Tales in a New Bundle

 

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Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes

“The Hermit and the Smith” is the first of two new stories I’m writing for Tales of Old Giralliya.

I was inspired by a passage from the appendices of Hunting Wild.

The Holy Hermit Cathal was born into the social unrest and turbulence of this time. As a young man he pursued the course of an ascetic, withdrawing from human contact to pursue a life of simplicity and meditation. Later in life, one of the destined human sacrifices escaped to Cathal’s lonely hut in the hills and changed Cathal’s outlook.

Cathal realized that withdrawing from tumult was cowardly, and he emerged to challenge the disgusting practice of human sacrifice, speaking nearly every day to crowds in the realms of Istria, Eirdry, and Ennecy.

I wanted to write about Cathal. Not his full story, but that moment when he was confronted by the fugitive running for his life.

If I could just capture that scene, it would satisfy some longing in my writer’s heart.

But a story is more than just a vignette or cameo. The scene I was longing to paint with words needed more than one man fleeing and another offering him refuge.

So I put on my thinking cap.

Who was the fugitive? What was important to him? How did he come to be destined for blood sacrifice?

As I pondered these and other questions, I found myself wondering if I could connect my holy hermit with some of the events forming the backstory of The Tally Master.

That proved to be the concept that would ignite my creative fire.

I imagined the dry hills and the olive orchards around the city of Castarre. I discovered the name of the man—a metal smith—outracing the hounds. It all became very real in my mind’s eye.

And then I started writing!

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Caught Between Two Armies
Tales in a New Bundle

 

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Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales

You may have noticed a new progress bar over there in the sidebar of my website. Yes, the one entitled Tales of Old Giralliya. That’s the one.

Where did it come from, and what’s it all about?

It all started back in 2012.

In 2012, I wrote several North-lands fairy tales for my blog.

I had a lot of fun with them, and at least one of my readers told me that she was really enjoying the flash fiction. (The fairy tales were short, under 1,000 words.)

I remember brainstorming a bunch of ideas for future fairy tale blog posts, and I developed a list of a dozen possibilities. I imagined myself checking the list at intervals, writing and posting the next story from it, and eventually writing all of them.

The fourth story on the list went long—to 1,500 words instead of the usual 700 or so.

I was okay with that. Really, anything up to 3,000 words seemed a manageable length for a blog post.

The fifth story was 8,000 words long.

That was a problem.

Oh, I had fun writing it. And I think my readers enjoyed reading it. But 8,000 words deserves to be published as more than a blog post. This one was, eventually. In the ramp-up to publication, it grew, because I discovered as I worked that the story needed a bit more development, which added scenes and word count.

When the draft was complete, it had reached 20,000 words. I named it Hunting Wild. 😀

So far, so good.

But what about fairy tale #6, Fairest Trickery?

I never wrote it, because it is a more complex tale than Hunting Wild, and since Hunting Wild required 20,000 words, Fairest Trickery would probably require at least 50,000 words. It would be a novel.

Obviously, I like writing novels! I love writing novels. But Fairest Trickery would have to get in line behind the ten other novels I wanted to write first!

Aegis and Mage and Mirage—the stories following after Fairest Trickery—are probably novellas, but this whole sequence—Blood Falchion, Hunting Wild, Fairest Trickery, Aegis, and Mage and Mirage—forms a series telling of the events occurring around a cursed blade as it passes down through history. And I would need to write the books in order. I still think I might one day; we’ll see.

But the Blood Blade series brought my fairy tale telling to an end, back in 2012.

Occasionally I toyed with reviving my list. I could skip past the Blood Blade series and tell some of the other, unrelated fairy tales.

I could, but somehow I never did. Until now!

What happened?

A. L. Butcher, bundle curator extraordinaire, invited me to contribute to a fairy tale themed bundle that she plans to release this November.

Oh, how I wanted to be part of it!

But I had a problem.

Troll-magic, a re-telling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, is already in the Here Be Magic bundle.

Crossing Naiad, a re-telling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, is in the Here Be Ghosts bundle.

The Troll’s Belt, a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel, is in the Here Be Fairies bundle.

Some of the earliest bundles to which I contributed are no longer in print. But these three are. I didn’t have any new fairy tales for the new bundle. That made me sad.

Then I remembered the fairy tales from my blog! They are not re-tellings of fairy tales from our own Earth’s cultures, no. They are brand new fairy tales emerging from the cultures of my North-lands. But they are fairy tales.

I could collect them together and contribute the collection to the bundle!

I emailed A. L. about the possibility, and she liked it. So I set to work.

The first part was simple. I copied-and-pasted from those old blog posts. Then I ran through the files with a light edit. And that should have been enough. Legend of the Beggar’s Son, Ravessa’s Ride, and The Thricely Odd Troll, when gathered together form a nice little trio.

But, but, but!

Re-reading the stories inspired me. Wouldn’t it be fun to tell a few more of the stories from my old list? I was sure I could make the November deadline. Oh, oh, oh! It was irresistible.

Last week I finished The Hermit and the Smith. This week I finished The Kite Climber.

I also re-visited my decision not to include Blood Falchion. Why had I decided that? I re-read it. Wouldn’t it be nice to give the story the visibility the bundle would confer on it? Yes, it would. So what if it’s the beginning of a series. The story is complete in itself. It stands alone. I would include it!

So Tales of Old Giralliya will have seven stories in it: four from my blog plus three new ones. I’ve loved working on the project, and I’m excited about the next story I’ll write for it.

I’ve done the brainstorming and taken a bunch of notes. I want to do a little outlining and a little thinking, and then I’ll dive in!

I plan to blog a bit more about the process of creating this collection. In the meantime, watch the progress bar to see the words piling up! 😀

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Caught Between Two Armies
Tales in a New Bundle

Edited to Add: The seventh story, when I actually sat down to write it, proved to be too long for this collection and told in a different style. It’s not right for Tales of Old Giralliya, but you will get to read it. I plan to release it as a standalone novelette.

 

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Timekeeping in Hantida

The Sovereign’s Labyrinth is an adventure mystery with a good bit of action and fighting.

It’s not a brain-bender mystery like the clever Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers, in which the time tables of trains prove integral to solving the plot.

Nor is it a mystery of manners like Georgette Heyer’s witty Detection Unlimited, in which the behavior of clocks plays an important role.

Nonetheless, as I wrote The Sovereign’s Labyrinth, I found myself thinking about timekeeping and how the Hantidans did it.

Since the story takes place in the Bronze Age of my North-lands, the Hantidans would not be telling time with clocks or watches or digital phones. So how did they do it?

The earliest timekeeping devices in our own history were sundials. In sunny climes, they worked well…by day. But what about the night time? And what about places with cloud cover?

Hantida has a wet season and a dry season, but even in the dry season, a storm comes through on many days. Which meant that even if they used sundials, they probably used something else to supplement them.

Drawing again from history, I had sandglasses (hourglasses), candle clocks, incense clocks, and water clocks as options.

Some historians speculate that the ancient Greeks and ancient Romans used sandglasses. They certainly had the technology necessary to make them. But the historical record does not contain actual mention of them as it does of water clocks. No one seems to be sure when sandglasses were invented and first used, but it may have been as late as the Middle Ages.

I am not absolutely strict about anachronisms in my North-lands—I write fantasy, after all—but I like to use real history as a guide. So I decided against sandglasses for my Hantidans.

The earliest mention of candle clocks comes earlier than those of sandglasses, in a Chinese poem written in 520 AD. That’s slightly better than the Middle Ages, but candle clocks have other disadvantages, namely that it’s hard to get the wicks and wax uniform enough to prevent inaccuracy in their timekeeping. Drafts were also a problem with the even burning of the candles.

Besides…520 AD still remains a lot later than 1500 BC!

(In the west, the candle clock bore regular markings on the column of wax. In the east, weights were attached to threads embedded in the wax. As the candle burned down, the threads were released, and the weights dropped into a plate below with a clatter.)

Before my research into timekeeping, I’d never heard of incense clocks. When I did— Wow! Just, wow! I fell in love!

Evidently incense can be calibrated more accurately than candle wax, so incense clocks are more accurate than candle clocks. And differently fragranced incense can be used in rotation, so that different hours are associated with different scents.

I had only one problem with bestowing incense clocks on my Hantidans. I absolutely knew that the Daoine Meras, the people in the next Gael & Keir Adventure, use incense clocks.

I didn’t want to repeat myself!

So my Hantidans received water clocks.

Actually, water clocks are pretty cool. And they appeared in Babylon around the 16th century BC, perhaps earlier still in ancient China (4000 BC). Water clocks and humans have been together for a very long time!

The earliest water clocks were outflow clocks. That is, the water flowed out from a hole in the bowl. As the water level fell, it passed markings on the inner surface that indicated the time. Often the dripping water was not caught by another vessel, but allowed to absorb into the sand or earth below.

Later water clocks were inflow clocks, in which water from an upper vessel flowed through a calibrated channel into a lower bowl. The inner surface of the lower bowl was marked, and as the water level rose, it indicated the time.

The Persians used yet another style to ensure that the water from their underground irrigation channels was distributed evenly among the farms sharing a given aquifer. They placed a small bowl with a calibrated hole in a larger bowl filled with water. The water flowed through the hole to fill the smaller bowl. When it sank, the clock manager would place a pebble in a container to count that iteration, pour the water back into the larger bowl, and then start the small bowl filling again.

I suspect my Hantidans use the inflow model of water clock.

But how did the Hantidans get started with timekeeping?

There’s plenty of water in Hantida: the river, the monsoons, the near-daily rain in the dry season, and a generous water table below ground. They wouldn’t have needed to divide water so carefully as did the Persians.

Here, real world history came to my rescue once again.

Some of the ancient cities were very populous, counting a hundred thousand people within their walls along with great wealth. They built walls to protect themselves and manned those walls with sentries who stood guard through both day and night.

The sentries needed to know when their watch was up and when the next one started. Timekeeping was required!

That made sense for Hantida.

I could just see the Keeper of the Watch sounding the drum in his tower on the city walls when the Keeper of the Clepsydra announced the first beat of the evening watch. And then, all over the city, itinerant time keepers would ring their chimes in echo of the drum beat.

I decided to model the Hantidan schedule of watches after those used by sailors.

Each day possesses seven watches. Five of them are 4 hours long. Two of them are but 2 hours long. This ensures that the sentries rotate through the watches, rather than staying with the same one indefinitely.

Each long watch has eight beats or chimes, each short watch, only four.

Midwatch     midnight – 4 am
Morning Watch     4 am – 8 am
Forenoon Watch     8 am – noon
Afternoon Watch     noon – 4 pm
Aja-watch the First     4 pm – 6 pm
Aja-watch the Second     6 pm – 8 pm
Evening Watch     8 pm – midnight

So…did Hantidan timekeeping come into The Sovereign’s Labyrinth at all? Or was it one of those fun bits of research that never make it onto the page?

I’m not telling! 😉

For more about The Sovereign’s Labyrinth, see:
The Baths of the Glorious Citadel
A Townhouse in Hantida
Quarters in the Glorious Citadel
A Library in the Glorious Citadel
That Sudden Leap

 

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The Baths of the Glorious Citadel

“The Hantidans know how to draw a bath,” Gael agreed.

Although the real benefit of the palace baths might be that a quiet bather could overhear useful gossip.

I must side with Gael on this one. Hantidans do indeed know how to draw a bath. I envisioned the Hantidan bath as resembling those of the Japanese: very deep, very hot, and including a view through a sliding screen of a stylized garden.

If I could visit Hantida right now, their baths would definitely feature in my itinerary!

In the morning, Gael returned to his room from the baths pleasantly relaxed and smelling of herbal soap. Unusually for him, he’d kept thinking at bay during his soak, focusing instead on the physical sensations—the extreme heat of the water Hantidans favored, its depth—well over his shoulders—the scented steam, the beauty of the sunlight on the bamboos right outside the partially open screens.

In spite of their lure, however, I initially categorized the Hantidan baths as an appealing detail of the setting and little more.

But as I moved more deeply into The Sovereign’s Labyrinth, I realized they served as more than evocative window dressing.

“I heard two gentlemen talking in the baths, gossiping about last night’s accident. Interesting that they classified it as an accident, by the by,” he added.

In the baths, Gael and Keir would learn clues to the mystery they encountered in the Glorious Citadel. They would discover new suspects to question. And Gael would have an informative encounter there.

It was down around a corner of the tile passageway and bigger than the rest of the tubs Gael had seen in the palace, with room enough for four.

Zithilo lounged in one corner of the bath, lanky legs stretched out before him along the tub floor, gaze fixed on a close, engoldened slice of slope visible through the open screen—afternoon was giving way to evening—overgrown by ferns, mosses, and shrubs. He was tall, skinny, and muscular. He didn’t bother to look over his shoulder when Gael’s step sounded in the doorway.

“Get in!” he urged. “The water is fine!”

Gotta stop there to avoid spoilers!

So…what do the baths look like?

Well, the photo at the top of this post shows a bath similar to the one that Zithilo invites Gael to share. And the photo at right has the feeling of the corridor giving onto the individual baths.

The baths were arranged along a narrow side corridor of white tile, a tall and solid wall on Gael’s left, a shoulder-high wall punctuated by a dozen open doorways on his right. Each doorway connected to a small cubical with hooks and a wooden bench, and a farther doorway to a square, sunken tub with a view onto a moss garden.

Steam wreathed the air, along with the scent of herbal soap.

There are many bath houses within the Glorious Citadel, and the approach to each is the standard roofed walkway that runs along the edges of the courtyards and gardens and beside the walls of the pavilions that compose the palace.

The Sovereign’s Labyrinth has grown under revision. The first draft came in at 78,000 words. As I write this blog post, the novel stands at over 95,000 words. I’ve edited and revised the first 75,000 of those, so you can see that I am closing in on the end. I hope to send the manuscript out for its next beta read soon!

For more about the setting of The Sovereign’s Labyrinth, see:
A Townhouse in Hantida
Quarters in the Glorious Citadel
A Library in the Glorious Citadel
That Sudden Leap

 

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Claireau’s Retreat House

Disaster falls upon Lealle, the heroine of A Talisman Arcane, as she sits at the top of the steps to the retreat house.

She’s finished her lesson in magic and awaits her mother, who intends to shepherd Lealle home in the family brougham-landau. While Lealle waits, the bullies who tormented her in the opening scene of the book arrive and begin their taunts anew.

But it is what comes of this unpleasantness—not the interaction itself—that proves so horrible.

Lealle’s younger brother gets involved in the debacle, and the two kids eventually find themselves back in the waiting room of the retreat house, and then in an examining room.

A later scene features the courtyard garden and the colonnade that surrounds the herbs and flowers.

The floor plan below shows the layout of the retreat’s first floor. The second and third floors hold more examining rooms, as well as a library, study rooms, and personal quarters for a few of the teachers who live on the premises.

For more about the world of A Talisman Arcane, see:
Tour Nileau
The Historical Tour Nileau
The Living Tour Nileau
The Dreaming Tour Nileau
Justice in Lealle’s World
Ohtavie’s Home
Wing-clap of the Phoenix

 

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Unicorn’s Lullaby

While writing a scene in “The Hunt of the Unicorn,” I found myself engaged with a lullaby sung by the Holy Mother to a maiden in distress.

I went hunting for traditional lullabies for inspiration and discovered the lovely Ar Hyd y Nos (“All Through the Night”) composed circa 1784 by the harp player Edward Jones.

Amy Robbins-Wilson sings the the melody beautifully.

The original lyrics, in Welsh, were written by John Ceiriog Hughes.

Holl amrantau’r sêr ddywedant
Ar hyd y nos
“Dyma’r ffordd i fro gogoniant,”
Ar hyd y nos.
Golau arall yw tywyllwch
I arddangos gwir brydferthwch
Teulu’r nefoedd mewn tawelwch
Ar hyd y nos.

There are more verses, but I will not transcribe them here. Check this link, if you are curious!

Sir Harold Boulton wrote a popular English translation in 1884.

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones’ watch am keeping,
All through the night.

I imagine my own lullaby being sung to the same tune.

Sleep, my heart, and love wrap round thee
Slumber gently dusk to dawn
Singing angels gather round thee
Chorus sweetly dusk to dawn
Slow the moon doth climb her ambit
Stars attend her, trailing bright
God in heaven guard thy cradle
Slumber gently dusk to dawn

For more about the Hunt of the Unicorn, see:
The Hunters Enter the Woods
The Unicorn Is Found
The Unicorn Is Attacked
The Unicorn Defends Itself
The Mystic Capture of the Unicorn
The Unicorn Is Killed
The Unicorn Lives

 

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