We've all heard exaggerated stories from fisherman, hunters and athletes. The "big fish" story is a classic form of entertainment. But what happens when "big fish" and "fantasy" collide?
H. L. Burke
Last time Theodore went fishing, he inadvertently released the Kraken. It's okay, though. Theodore likes calamari.
Deep in the northern forest of Aomori, in the Yagen Valley there is a a natural Onsen hot bath. After a soothing soak I travelled further up the path. We’d been warned not to stray too far as the area was filled with sacred sites. But with the vigor of youth and the courage of Asahi beer in me I ventured out into the wilderness. I found an old trail that led to a set of ancient stone stairs. Fifty-six stairs, to be exact, covered by years of debris and brush. Fighting my way to the top I found a shrine that must have been built during the Kofun era. Sitting atop the small shrine was a beautiful golden fox. It’s golden fur bristled at the sight of me and I froze.
“You should not be here.” It sang to me in perfect English. “Take off your shoes.”
I kicked off my Nikes. “I’m sorry, I was just curious.” Why was I talking to a fox? Why wasn’t I running away in terror?
“Curious of what?”
“Where the stairs led.”
“And where did they lead you lost cub?”
“To the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” A low sound like purring came from its throat as its three tails whipped back and forth.
“Very well, you will not join them lost cub.” With a flick of its nose it pointed to a pile of skeletons I hadn’t seen before.
“Thank you…I’m not sure the appropriate term to refer?”
With a flourish of electric blue smoke a woman as beautiful as I have ever seen appeared, our noses almost touching. Leaning in she rested her hot cheek against mine, whispering in my ear.
“You can call me mistress if you pledge your life to me or you can call me a dream if you wish your life to be yours.”
The feel of her pressed against me cried out for me to scream the word mistress, to be her worthless slave for all eternity. The word rose inside of me, bubbled up like a geyser.
“It’s just a dream.” I screamed into the empty air of my tent.
“Then go back to sleep.” Turbo grunted in the next tent over.
I never found my shoes.
Kandi J. Wyatt
Excerpt from Dragon's Revenge
Kyn turned back to Wylen, his dragon. Amazingly, there wasn’t a speck of mud on his midnight-blue scales.
“How’d you manage to stay clean?”
“I found fishing.”
“You found fishing? What is that supposed to mean?”
“I dive into the water after the fish and catch them in my mouth. Then I float over to the side while I am eating. By the time I am done eating, I arrive at the shallow water and take off into the sky again for another fish or two.”
Kyn shook his head. “As long as it keeps you clean, I’ll be satisfied. I have my hands full trying to bring peace here.”
Jessica L. Elliott
I'm not much of fisher, but I do enjoy hiking, especially in the hills of Kansas. And yes, we do have hills here. As I was hiking one day, I saw a glimpse of white in the trees. I stopped and saw nothing. Thinking perhaps it was just a trick of light, I continued walking. Then I saw the flash again. Could it be? I walked slower and kept my eyes open. The faintest break of a branch and I saw him. A magnificent unicorn stallion. We looked at each other. He dipped his head and I bowed back. Isn't that what you should do when you see someone so regal? Then in a blink of an eye, he disappeared into the woods. Now you can say all you want that I imagined it, but I know better.
D. W. Frauenfelder
Back in the old days when I was young and carefree, I traveled to Italy to be an exchange student. Now it happens that where I lived had been the home of the ancient Etruscans, who at one time were more famous than Romans and who had the special gift of telling the future. In the middle of Etruria sits a volcanic lake, Lago di Vico, supposedly created by Hercules hitting the ground with his club. It's true, you can look it up. Anyway, I was bicycling around that lake one evening when I heard a strange voice coming from the lake. I stopped the bike and followed the voice. "Feed me, feed me," it was croaking, like a frog or toad. Except when I came to the water's edge it was no toad but a huge pike with a lippy, snaggletoothed mouth. I got out a piece of bread from my knapsack and threw it to the fish, and it submerged with a splash. When I returned home, I told the mother of the house what I saw. "That fish wasn't saying 'feed me,'" she told me in Italian. It was saying, 'figli, figli-- sons, sons" (I know that doesn't look spelled right, but the "g" is silent!). "The fish was prophesying that you will have sons!" And bless me, thirty years later my two sons are going to Italy. I've told them to look out for lake pike. This time I hope one will predict grandsons.
Guest Blogger - Kandi J. Wyatt
Ever wonder what makes a story fall into the genre of fantasy? Some books out there aren't really real-life fiction, yet at the same time, are they fantasy? Here is a checklist to help you identify true fantasy.
The number one key ingredient to a fantasy story is magic! However, this isn't as straight forward as it seems. Magic can be described as not only "the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces" (Oxford Dictionary Online), but also "the violation of our world's physical laws" (Children's Literature Briefly by Tunell and Jacobs). In C. S. Lewis' classic Narnia series, magic manifests itself in the talking animals and the witch's ability to make it "always winter and never Christmas" for over one hundred years. In the Harry Potter series, magic is more of the first definition with students learning how to cast spells.
Magic is what explains otherwise unexplainable things in fantasy. This is the difference between science fiction and fantasy. In science fiction, science or technology explains the unexplainable. A sword made out of light isn't magic, it's technology. Being able to transport a physical being from one place to another is explained by the atoms being taken apart and then reconstructed, instead of by hocus-pocus. Whereas in fantasy, the sword itself has the power to name someone king, or a spell can transport a person from one place to another. Without magic, there would be no fantasy.
Other WorldsThe second ingredient to fantasy is found in the setting. Most fantasy takes the reader either from the real world and drops them into a new world, or is set completely in another world. Brandon Mull's The Beyonders series takes Jason from his home through a hippopotamus' mouth to the world of Lyrian. Bobby Pendragon flies through the flumes to the territories. These worlds help the main character to grow and become all he or she can be.
Good vs Evil
Often in fantasy there is a classic fight between good vs evil. The Blind King and Jason fight against Maldor. Bobby fights against Saint Dane. Although the lines may get blurred, essentially it is a matter what is right against what is wrong in the world.
Classic fantasy or modern high fantasy usually revolves around a hero or heroes. This person, whether male or female, is usually sent on a quest and must fight through outrageous odds to make it to the end. In the process, these trials are what makes the person grow.
L. R. W. Lee takes Andy from home into a new world where he must try to rid the realm of the curse. In the process, he must stop a leak in the castle, participate in a contest, fight a dragon, and return back to the castle. This set up is considered the 'hero's round'. You'll be surprised to find it in many plot lines, not just fantasy.
Special Character Types
This ingredient of fantasy is one that may or may not exist in a book, but often makes for the most memorable stories. Sorrel and Twigleg from The Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke are several of my favorite characters. Without them, and their antagonism for each other, the story wouldn't be as fun as it is. (Throw in Brandon Frasier reading it, and it makes it one of my favorite fantasies of all.)
Special character types are characters or creatures that are specific to a story or a realm. In The Lord of the Rings it's elves, dwarves, ents, hobbits, and orcs. In Harry Potter it's house elves, cave trolls, and werewolves. According to Children's Literature Briefly, "fantasies may include characters who come from either our legendary past or an author's vivid imagination."
Again, not all fantasy will have fantastical objects, but who doesn't know about the mirror on the wall, or the apple, or the spindle. Fantastical objects are things that carry importance to the story and may be endowed with special powers. In most stories, a broom is used for sweeping, but in Kiki's Delivery Service it's the key to Kiki's profession. The tollbooth seems like a normal kids cardboard toy box, but when Milo climbs into his toy car and drives up to the tollbooth, it becomes the gateway to an unforgettable adventure.
Each of these six motifs create classic fantasy. Children's Literature Briefly sums up these key ingredients this way:
“If a story contains all six, it is either a classic fairy tale or an example of modern high fantasy. However, if a story contains fantasy's one necessary ingredient, the motif of magic or the violation of our world's physical laws, it is still classified as fantasy literature.”
So, next time you wonder how to classify a book you've just read, go through the checklist. You'll be able to clearly tell if it's fantasy or not.
Have you read any great fantasy stories recently? We'd love to hear about them. Just share in the comments section.
Guest Blogger - Jenelle Schmidt
Welcome to the first ever Silmarillion Awards!
The Silmarillion Awards have been created by DJ Edwardson and Jenelle Schmidt as a way to honor J.R.R. Tolkien as the Father of Modern Fantasy, open up a discussion about some of our other favorite fantasy works, and to have a ton of fun this summer.
When we started thinking about creating a sort of “Fantasy Oscars,” we found it difficult to fathom any award that wouldn’t be won by a character or item from The Lord of the Rings... so, to make things a bit more interesting, we decided to call them “The Silmarillion Awards” and have characters from LOTR and The Hobbit present the awards as examples of the ultimate standard for each award. Hopefully that will even the playing field a bit.
Joining our team are eight other bloggers and authors who will each be hosting one of these awards, called Silmarils, on their blogs towards the end of July.
But before we get there, we need YOUR help! Starting today, June 20th and proceeding through July 1st, the nomination period for each award will be open. Please visit the participating bloggers (found in the list below), read the descriptions of the awards and make your nominations!
Nominate characters in the comments of each blog post. If someone has already nominated the character you would have nominated, you may either second that nomination, open a new nomination, or do both. We will be picking the 5 characters with the most “seconds” for the final voting period that will take place between July 4th - 13th, so you may also “third,” “fourth,” “fifth,” etc any nominations you particularly like.
Phase 1 - June 20-July 1: Award nominations open
Phase 2 - July 4: the final nominees will be announced and voting will open and last through July 14th
Phase 3 - July 16-28: Presentation of the awards, 1 per day, each award will be hosted on a different blog each day
Phase 4 - Celebration! July 29th was the official publication date of the Lord of the Rings back in 1954. We invite you all to celebrate with us the 62nd birthday of this masterpiece of Fantasy Fiction. Congratulate the winners, take and post a photo of yourselves with LOTR paraphernalia, write a blog post about your favorite LOTR moment, scene, character, quote, or memory... get creative and have fun!
List of Participating Blogs:
DJ Edwardson Hosting the Best Friend Silmaril
Jenelle Schmidt Hosting the Most Heart Wrenching Death Scene Silmaril
Deborah O’Carroll Hosting the Strangest Character Silmaril
Abbey Hosting the Most Nefarious Villain Silmaril
JL Mbewe Hosting the Best Redemption Story Silmaril
Tracey Hosting the Riddling and Poetry Silmaril
Jack Lewis Baillot Hosting the Best Fantasy Mount Silmaril
Madeline J. Rose Hosting the Most Epic Hero Silmaril
Zachary Totah Hosting the Wisest Counsellor Silmaril
Rawls E. Fantasy Hosting the Best Fantasy Weapon Silmaril
With Arbor Day tomorrow, we asked around at Fellowship of Fantasy to find out which fantasy trees are our authors' favorites. Their responses were varied and we discovered some new trees we hadn't heard of before. Be sure to comment below with your favorite trees and join us in the #FellowshipofFun hashtag game.
Update - It was pointed out to us privately that Arbor Day is actually in April. We did some looking to confirm and it turns out that officially, Arbor Day is in fact the last Friday in April. That said, many states in the US and other countries have various dates and weeks they celebrate their trees. So really, any day could be Arbor Day, right? Go enjoy a tree today, and read a good book while you're at it. And thank you readers for being on top of things. We appreciate you.
N. W. Moors
"This is a picture of a Rowan Tree that I took in Ireland. Rowans are fairy trees and no one in the Celtic lands will cut them down. Farmers plow around them, roads are built away from them, and so on, as it is bad luck to cut down a Rowan Tree. "
D. G. Driver
"I'm kind of partial to the ancient tree spirit that resides in an Old Growth Red Cedar tree in my own novel Whisper of the Woods.
"As far as one from a well-known fantasy, I'm going with the Whomping Willow Tree at Hogwarts."
H. L. Burke
"I love the scene at the end of the Return of the King where Gandalf takes Aragorn for a walk and they find the seedling for the long dead White Tree of Gondor.
"There's just a great sense of history and symbolism about it, and Aragorn was my idealized hero type ... I blame him for my obsession with tall guys.
"Plus I have it on a T-shirt."
The Whomping Willow outside Hogwarts. It's like a guard dog, but easier to care for, as long as ridiculous students don't insist upon driving flying cars into it.
Jessica L. Elliott
"I'm rather enamored right now with the incredible trees of Shenivarthol Wood in my WIP, Leaving Shenivarthol. They are tall and strong, not to mention incredibly beautiful with opal glimmering through cracks in the bark. The woods have been home to the unicorns of Sanalbereth for centuries.
"As far as recognized fantasy worlds, I've always wanted to visit the mallorn trees from Lord of the Rings."
Lelia J. Foreman
"Barely qualifying as sentient, the Siij are a blight on all they come in contact with. The Siij straddle the line between animal and plant. Though they are free thinking and mobile, they grow from a rooted, tree-like queen. They are birthed from pods that grow on her limbs, dropping to the ground when they are ready to hatch."
Guest Blogger - H. L. Burke
Hello, my name is H. L. Burke, and among my many titles, I am proud to call myself a Dragon Keeper. Like many wonderful things (and some magic rings) Theodore came to me on my birthday. He was a present from my 8-year-old daughter ... and while she may have thought I'd eventually tire of Theodore and she'd get a chance to play with him, I have kept him with me ever since.There are many things that Theodore loves. He is a well rounded dragon and his hobbies include cooking:
Theodore loves to have adventures and meet new friends.
He's traveled from Oregon to Southern California and met many interesting people. In some ways, he's a minor celebrity, but he doesn't let it go to his head ...
and of course, hoarding gold.
However, the thing that Theodore enjoys the most is reading. Theodore is a voracious reader, and frequently travels to libraries to see what is available. His favorite books, of course, involve dragons.
But he sees himself as a reading ambassador of sorts. He loves nothing more than seeing the next generation come to love a good story.
Because in spite of his outward appearance, Theodore really likes kids. He finds it sad when kids aren't allowed to flex their imaginations ... because without kids and their imaginations, Theodore would be just a chunk of plastic. He knows this. He knows the world needs creativity to fuel the magic of dragons.
Theodore even volunteers sometimes to read to children ...
Just because you're an adult, though, doesn't mean that Theodore doesn't love you. Theodore wants you to read, no matter your age. Keep those magical imagination muscles strong!
After all, you wouldn't want to disappoint the dragon, would you?
A blog about all things fantasy from the elements we all love to how to write it. Posts are from our very own Fellowship of Fantasy authors.