Wing-clap of the Phoenix

The antiphoners of Pavelle—magic users—give flowery names to their art.

Basic techniques taught to beginners include things such as the Zephyr’s Gavotte or the Breath of the Pegasus.

Lealle, the heroine of A Talisman Arcane, is learning advanced techniques such as the Nest of the Phoenix and the Flight of the Phoenix.

All of the techniques involve the manipulation of an inner energy referred to as energea.

Aural practitioners hear the energea as music. Kinesthetic practitioners feel it as weight within the body. And visual practitioners see it as glowing, sparking light.

Lealle is a visual practitioner, and her reach within for the energea shapes the both the result (such as healing a bruise) and the pattern of the flow of light.

If you were to cut across one of these currents of light and draw the cross-section, you would see a delicate snowflake of a pattern.

I imagined the magic of my North-lands long before I ever tried to tried to draw it.

And when I first put pen to paper, I didn’t realize what I was drawing. I thought I was creating images that had lain within my imagination unrealized until the tools from Zentangle unlocked them. This was true, but incomplete.

It was only when I explored the idea of publishing my drawings as a coloring book that I realized they were renditions of energea, and that there was a story about energea and a young mage I needed to tell!

You can read about the first stirrings of my inspiration, and see two other patterns of energea in these blog posts:
Nest of the Phoenix (Story for My Coloring Book)
Flight of the Phoenix (Page for a Coloring Book)

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

 

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Ohtavie’s Home

Ohtavie de Bellay lives in a mansion that fronts onto a large square with a park.

The photo below of a gilded age home possesses exactly the right feeling for Ohtavie’s abode. I can imagine myself standing in the park and gazing at the opulence of the Maison de Bellay.

Because circumstance has forced Ohtavie to dismiss all of her servants, she doesn’t use most of the rooms in the mansion. The dining room was one of many swathed in holland covers to protect its furnishings.

Before the room was abandoned, it might have looked like this one in Marble House.

During the events that transpire in A Talisman Arcane, Ohtavie re-opens her father’s library and begins sitting there to read. I remember being glad, as I wrote, that she was re-discovering the solace of books!

When A Talisman Arcane opens, Ohtavie occupies the housekeeper’s parlor and bedroom. You can see them in the back right corner (next to the servants’ hall) of the floor plan below. (Click the floor plan for a larger image.)

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 (and Ohtavie’s) World

 

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Justice in Lealle’s World

Lealle is the 14-year-old protagonist of my new release, A Talisman Arcane, and her father is the High Justice of Claireau, the town in which they live.

At the time of my novel, there’s an important and controversial trial going forward, over which Lealle’s father presides. Some of the people angry about the trial cause problems for my heroine.

Therefore, when I wrote Lealle’s story, I devoted a lot of thought to the justice system in Pavelle, the small country that the Giralliyan Empire annexed twenty years before, which forms the larger setting for the town of Claireau.

As High Justice, Lealle’s father sits in judgement over one of the higher courts in the land, the Court of Audire. Serious crimes are tried there: murder, assault, arson, larceny, kidnapping, forgery, extortion, blackmail, and such.

There are lower courts for lesser offenses.

The Bailliage hears cases of pilferage, unruly conduct, public drunkenness, trespassing, vandalism, reckless coachmanship, and such.

The Prévot’s Court handles petty offenses such as littering, loitering, fishing in a neighbor’s pond without sanction, failure to control livestock, and so on.

There are also higher courts.

The Court of Appeal hears cases from the Bailliage and the Court of Audire, when someone charged in the lower court believes a miscarriage of justice has occurred.

The Abrogate Court functions a little differently than all the lower courts.

Generally the lower courts refer matters up the chain. That is, the Prévot’s Court may decide that the unsanctioned fisherman was doing more than casting his hook in his neighbor’s pond—he was stealing fish—and thus would be judged in the Bailliage.

Or the young man racing his curricle on the public highway was not merely driving in a reckless manor, but had run down and injured a pedestrian and thus must be tried in the Court of Audire.

But these referrals upward stop at the Court of Appeal.

The court above it—the Abrogate Court—reaches down at its own initiative, issuing writs of summons to the lower courts when any of three conditions pertains: 1) when it learns that a matter of law may have been misdecided; 2) when one county in Pavelle has a complaint against another county; or 3) when a case involves or affects a high official within Pavelle’s governing bodies.

To summarize all of the above, I give you the diagram at right.

Charges of treason leave Pavelle’s jurisdiction altogether, to be heard by the courts in Bazinthiad, the capital of the Giralliyan Empire, of which Pavelle is a part.

Civil cases, in which one individual accuses another of malignant conduct toward them, don’t go into the criminal courts I’ve described, but through an entirely different channel.

The Tribunal of the Ordeal hears most such cases, although really important disputes go to the Tribunal of the Grand Ordeal. A Tribunal of Commerce judges matters of commercial law.

One other thing I had to consider while writing A Talisman Arcane was the law keeping force in Pavelle. Who watched the streets and brought criminals in for justice to be done?

Those were the armigers, and quite a few of them pass through the pages of my book.

The armigers are supervised by escuyers.

Baillies provide security within the courts while cases are going forward. They also conduct prisoners between the court and the jail.

Before Pavelle was annexed by Giralliya, its governance was shared between church and state. That is, all jurisdictions owed obedience and loyalty to the Prince, who was the country’s sovereign, but some regions were governed by the Prince’s vassals, while others were under church authority.

Counts ruled counties, and seigneurs ruled fees.

But archbishops ruled sees, and bishops ruled cathedras. These large areas were further divided into parisses administered by vicars.

I bring this up, because the religious sees and cathedras possessed a court system different from that of the secular counties and fees, until Giralliya annexed Pavelle and forcibly switched the judicial system in the religious jurisdictions to match that in the secular ones.

The change was one of many such changes that still serve as a source of tension in annexed Pavelle.

For more about the world of A Talisman Arcane, see:
Tour Nileau
The Historical Tour Nileau
The Living Tour Nileau
The Dreaming Tour Nileau
Ohtavie’s Home

 

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Newly Released: First Book in a New Series!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here at last! 😀

“What is here?” you ask politely, perhaps taken aback by my enthusiasm.

A Talisman Arcane

This book got interrupted while I was in the middle of writing it. It feels like it’s taken much longer than usual from the moment when I started the story to now, when I’m publicly announcing its release. So I’m excited!

Not only is the book available now, but the early reviews are largely favorable, which pleases me a lot.

“Great book about an unlikely friendship…” —Karen B.

“…really enjoyed this story. I read it in a single day. I have to admit I was a bit annoyed when I was interrupted, so you might want to read it on a quiet day of solitude…” —Caroline McBride

“There’s an interesting magic system… But mostly this is a character focused book… The relationships, both new and old, were well written and well thought out.” —Sleepy

“…I really loved this book. I found it hard to put down…and when I did put it down I was often thinking about the characters and what was last going on…when I’d stopped. The characters were all well developed, with strong personalities and backgrounds.” —Dragonessa

But enough of what people are saying. What about the book itself?

Although it is the first in a series, it’s a complete story. I originally wrote the book as a standalone, but every one of my early readers demanded a sequel, because they wanted to hang out with Lealle again and revisit her world.

I feel that way myself. And I have ideas for fresh adventures! So books 2 and 3 will be coming along soon. 😀

Here’s a bit about A Talisman Arcane.

*     *     *

The mansion on Balard Square stands empty. Dirt grimes its marble columns. Cracks mar its once pristine walls. No one enters or exits.

Rumor says no one lives there. Neighbors ignore the property, glad it’s merely shabby, not derelict. Brash youths pretend a witch makes it her home, a wicked witch who hates children.

All of them—rumor, neighbors, and youths—are wrong.

Fleeing a ragged horde of boys, young Lealle discovers the truth of the history-haunted house.

She hopes to keep that truth secret.

But her silence threatens disapproving neighbors, trespassing bullies, and one gentle soul in desperate need of a lifeline.

Magic and coming of age in the tradition of Patricia C. Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician.

A Talisman Arcane is available as an ebook. Amazon

*     *     *

I am experimenting again with having an ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. My apologies to those of you who get your ebooks elsewhere.

The paperback edition—which will release in a week or two—will be available everywhere. And I plan to make the ebook widely distributed after 90 days.

 

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New Book and New Cover!

I have a new book releasing soon! I’m really excited about it, can hardly wait to share it with my readers. I suspect I could burble on happily for paragraphs. But I won’t.

Instead I’ll cut right to the chase and do what I intended for this post. Share the cover! 😀

For images and curious facts from the world of A Talisman Arcane, see:
Tour Nileau
The Historical Tour Nileau
The Living Tour Nileau
The Dreaming Tour Nileau

 

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The Dreaming Tour Nileau

I wouldn’t want to live in the Chateau de Montbrun (or its analog in my North-lands, the Tour Nileau). But I’d love to visit for a week!

Imagine waking up in a four-poster and getting out of bed to watch the sun rising through the window in the massively thick stone wall of the castle. Climbing a spiral stair to the battlements to get some fresh morning air. Looking out over the beauty of the countryside from that vantage.

This bed (right) in the fifteenth-century country house of Kingston Lacy has the feel of the one I imagine my heroine Lealle sleeping in.

Although the walls of Lealle’s room would be the whitewashed stones of the castle, not tidily papered plaster!

An early scene in A Talisman Arcane transpires in Lealle’s room. She wipes the mud from her little brother’s shoes, so that their mother won’t know that he’s been playing in the park with a friend despite strict parental prohibition.

Here’s a floor plan showing the castle’s bedchambers.

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

 

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The Living Tour Nileau

I suspect that Montbrun (the model for my Tour Nileau) must have been quite uncomfortable to live in during medieval times.

Heavy stone walls, huge (cold) rooms, few windows, drafty garderobes, and so on. But Montbrun looks to have been newly modernized for this century and our world, just as the living quarters of Tour Nileau were made comfortable—even luxurious—by the mother of my heroine Lealle, in the nineteenth century of my North-lands.

In an early scene from A Talisman Arcane, Lealle mentions the main dining hall, where her parents entertain when they hold gala occasions in their home, inviting hundreds of guests.

But Lealle dines in the ‘small’ dining room with her family that evening, not a cozy place, but certainly less imposing than the larger space.

Of course, neither the Palacio Real de Madrid nor Chatsworth House (both above) are quite right as representations of my Tour Nileau.

The rooms where Lealle and her family live have been repaired, had windows added, and been furnished with ‘contemporary’ appointments (contemporary for the North-lands nineteenth century), but they still retain their essential medieval structure and character.

Here’s the floor plan showing the dining rooms and parlors of Tour Nileau.

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

 

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The Historical Tour Nileau

Tour Nileau, as presented in A Talisman Arcane, shelters three disparate functions within its massy walls.

The most prominent one is the Court of Audire, in which serious criminal charges are heard and tried—those of assault, murder, and injurious magery.

However, the castle also serves as the private residence of the High Justice of Claireau and his family. (My heroine Lealle is his daughter.)

Because the castle is so old, it is recognized as a site of considerable historical significance. Thus it is opened at regular intervals to visitors wishing to tour the building. The ground level and the first floor above it are the areas of most interest to legal scholars and aficionados of Pavelle’s history. The family quarters on the second and third floors are rarely made available to the public.

The castle’s great hall is a vast uncomfortable space, and the chapel (unused for religious services at this time) isn’t much better.

Lealle’s father is very fond of the library and its annex, both filled with legal tomes, and both well maintained.

Here is the floor plan for the historically interesting first floor.

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

 

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Tour Nileau

Lealle Meridar, the teenage heroine of A Talisman Arcane, is the daughter of a High Justice of Pavelle. Her father presides over the most difficult matters of law arising in the river town of Claireau. As High Justice, he lives and works in a medieval castle made available to he who holds that office.

I modeled the Tour Nileau after a real castle in France: Montbrun.

Montbrun has been modernized, so that a family of our twenty-first century could live there in comfort. In my story, I’ve taken liberties with many details, so as to make the building fit the nineteenth century milieu of A Talisman Arcane, and possess the working spaces needed by Lealle’s father.

We first see the Tour Nileau through Lealle’s eyes, when she pauses on a bridge upriver from her home.

Our next view is of its central court, when she passes under the raised portcullis. I wasn’t able to find a photo of the courtyard that I could feature on my blog, but if you are curious, check this link.

Here is a plan of the ground floor.

Lealle goes straight up to her bedchamber via the main spiral stair when she first arrives home. But near the end of my story, she has a very important discussion with her father in his chancery.

I’ll be posting more about the Tour Nileau, so watch this space! 😀

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

 

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I Think I’ve Got It!

Once more, into the breach!

Yes, I dove into brainstorming the title for Lodestone Tale 5 one. more. time!

I figured the reason I couldn’t settle on any of the titles I’d considered was because none of them were right. It wasn’t that I’d asked too many people for their opinions. (Although maybe I had asked too many.) No. It was because I agreed with all of their objections.

To Thread the Labyrinth

Even though the concept of the labyrinth appears again and again as a motif in the story, it is not the heart of the story. Lodestone Tale 5 is about courage and kindness far more than it is about discerning the reality behind tricky turnings.

A Legacy Arcane

Neither is the story really about a legacy. Yes, two legacies feature in the novel, but that’s not what it is about. Furthermore, the word “legacy” has a weight to it which is all wrong for the story, which filled with hope, victory, and rebirth. “Legacy” does not feel dark to me, but it does feel weighty.

Talisman’s Reach

I have come to really like the word “Talisman” in conjunction with my story. Talisman is right! But “Reach” is not. Even if no one would mistake it as referring to a feature of the landscape, it is still wrong.

Yes, each of the lodestones in the Lodestone Tales has a long reach through time, but that’s a feature of the series. This individual story is not about that long reach; it’s about what happens between Ohtavie and Lealle. The scope of “Reach” is wrong.

Innocent Trespass

My brilliant writer friend Laura came up with Innocent Trespass. (Really, she’s been doing too much of the heavy lifting with regards to the title for this book. I should be ashamed!)

For several days, I thought this was THE ONE. The book starts off with teenage Lealle trespassing. Lealle herself is not so sure that she does so innocently, but I think the reader will be pretty clear on that. Later in the story, we learn that Ohtavie has also trespassed, also innocently, if not so innocently as Lealle.

When I wrote this story, I’d envisioned it as a standalone. But all of my early readers have requested a sequel to it. My first answer was, “No. Sorry.” But by the time the 4th request arrived, I found myself having ideas for an entire series. I grew excited about what I might do in Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, and Book 5.

Because Lealle is the daughter of the High Justice of Claireau, there will be an awareness of the law present all the books. (Yes, I am going to write them.) So titles referencing aspects of law would be a fun way to go. Innocent Trespass would follow that theme nicely.

But. But. But. Lodestone Tales 5 is very much a fantasy novel. It is not a thriller. It is not a legal thriller. It is not a mystery, although there are elements of mystery within it. Innocent Trespass does not say fantasy. Reluctantly, I loosed that choice from my grip.

What Is Central?

I revisited this question. I needed to stop devising titles that were accurate, but misleading in their focus on a tangent. The heart of my story is the idea that we redeem each other. Even within our mistakes, there is opportunity for us to save one another.

Is there some thing or place or person in Lodestone Tales 5 that embodies my theme and that can serve as the anchor point for its title?

Lealle

Lealle is central. She stumbles upon the first person she decides to attempt saving, but then through choice goes on to save another chance encounter plus an entire townful of people.

One salient characteristic about Lealle is that she is her father’s daughter. “Daughter” would be a good word to have in my title.

Talisman or Trespass

Place did not feel specifically important to my theme. Yes, setting is always important in a story. The people would not be who they are, if they lived elsewhere. The events would fall out differently in a different setting. But, for this story, place was not nearly so important as the action of trespass and the complication of the talisman.

I had three words that felt central. Daughter. Talisman. Trespass.

Models of Title Structure

I’ve read essays about title structures. There aren’t really as many possibilities for the bones of a title as one might wish. (Or, at least, as I might wish!)

It occurred to me that C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles include quite a few of the possible structures. What if I used them as guidelines?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe The Daughter, the Talisman, and the Trespass
Prince Caspian ??
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Trespass of Daughters
The Silver Chair The Iron Talisman Dark Talisman
The Horse and His Boy The Daughter and Her Talisman Talisman and Trespass
The Magician’s Nephew Talisman’s Magic Talisman’s Daughter
The Last Battle The Secret Talisman The Hidden Talisman

Well…maybe. But, no. I tried a few variations.

The Daughter and Her Trespass. Talisman’s Challenge. The Talisman Legacy. The Talisman Secret. A Talisman Unsought.

Wait a minute! That last was definitely not right, but it had the same structure as A Legacy Arcane. What if I pulled “Legacy” out, and replaced it with “Talisman”?

A Talisman Arcane

The talisman is definitely secret, mysterious, and understood by few. It is arcane. But unlike the weighty word “legacy,” talisman has a lightness to it. It breathes of hope and trust. Lucky pennies are talismans. We keep them for luck, for good fortune, in the hope of a bright future.

Yes! That’s it! My title! This is THE ONE! 😀

A Talisman Arcane.

 

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