Tag Archive | a-z

Æ is for Ash

From [personal profile] thnidu‘s prompt here in honor of the Things Unspoken landing page

They called it the Unburnt Tree. In Corthwin, which had burned thrice in known history, and, from the records in the places not yet rebuilt, appeared to have burned at least three times before they began counting such things, there stood an Ash Tree. It was unbelievably tall – the tallest thing in the city – and incredibly wide. And nobody built within a hundred meters of its spread in any direction.

They called it the Unburnt Tree for good reason. By all indications, the tree had been growing for longer than Corthwin had stood. In a city which had burned so many times, in a land where massive forest fires had once ranged, the Unburnt Tree stood. When the Empire had taken over the nation of which Corthwin was a major city, the Unburnt Tree stood, unharmed, untouched, even when the catapults flung burning pitch over the walls. When an earlier Emperor had, soon before he was quietly helped to the next life, sought to eliminate sources of “superstition” throughout the Empire and ordered the Unburnt Tree cut down, the axes had bounced off.

What was more, scions of the tree or seedlings grown from its seeds, all of those that survived to be saplings or larger took on the properties of their ancestor. Now, surrounding Corthwin, there grew a wall of trees, some no thicker than a finger, but all of them bearing the promise: the world might burn, but these trees would not. And, what’s more, all those who sheltered under their leaves would be safe.

The Unburnt tree could not protect all of Corthwin. But with its children, it could protect the people.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/936661.html. You can comment here or there.

April A-Z Blogging Challenge: Reflections Post

The Meme Master Post

I do plan on finishing T-Z; you guys left me some wonderful prompts to play with. In the meantime, however, here’s my Reflections post, as asked for by the Blogging A-Z People.

First impression: I really like doing A-Z challenges, and I really don’t think I’ll officially do Blogging A-Z again.

I’ve talked about this with a few of my readers, but for anyone else who’s interested, here are my reasons. It’s a bit cranky, so I’ve put it behind a cut.

I signed up for Blogging A-Z because I thought it would be a fun way to blog about some new topics and to meet some new people.

I got some good topics, and had a blast writing to all of my readers’ prompts. I’ll probably do that again – or another A-Z Giraffe Call.

But I didn’t find that it got me much outside traffic – I get more from Friday Flash or Three Word Wednesday – and I didn’t find it got me much interesting feedback at all. I get more readers from the Giraffe Calls, and those are about the same amount of writing as a blog post a day for 26 days.

So far, I have gotten three comments from A-Z bloggers, 2 from mods, and one of those has spurred me to consider actually posting my “comments policy.”

(The short version of my comments policy: pls. always be polite to others. In addition, please don’t post criticism or critique, typo catches or things unrelated to the post you’re commenting on UNLESS you’ve already commented on the story/blog post in question).

In addition, looking over the blog posts by mods and on A-Z in general gives me the impression it’s really not for me. I’m not a professional blogger. This is a writing blog, where I sometimes talk about my life, too. I have no interest in being hard-core about posting every day, because my hard-core writing is, ah, not this. And I refuse to take my inability to write an A-Z in 30 days as a negative judgement on myself.

I find the idea very intriguing, but don’t really need a “hurry finish this in xx days” sort of challenge, not unless I’m willing to let everything else fall by the wayside for that xx days. Like Nano, probably not for me again.

And that’s okay. There are plenty of other ways to play with other people on the internet!

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/933166.html. You can comment here or there.

April A-Z Blogging Challenge: S is for Sky

The Meme Master Post

S is for the shore, and the sky, and the storm

I was going to do another piece of Things Unspoken for this, but:

a) I just posted one, and I like to wait for feedback before posting the next.

b) I’m waiting for a city name and it seems weird.

c) I’ve written about Nereids and Octopi and am a bit tapped on oceanic things

d) Sea-and-sky will always be Kailani to me.

(I am writing this in Written Kitten Sky, and this is the pic as I begin)

So I’m going to talk about Addergoole and Kailani.

Kailani was, as far as I can recall, the first character I came up with for Addergoole. Her name was almost certainly the first – it means “sea and sky” in Hawaiian, a name picked to suit her perfectly.

In the world Addergoole is set in – the Faerie Apocalypse – the names fae fathers give their children have, or are supposed to have, great meaning and significance. Every father spends some time in meditation – some take this duty far more seriously than others – contemplating their child’s future. Even those who have not a bit of foresight will often gain some insight during this ritual, and those who take their duty seriously will use that insight in naming their child.

(Some don’t. Aelfgar, for instance, who names his children things like “Elf-gift” (Aelgifu); Shadrach, who named his first two children after himself: Chander, Chandra).

Kailani’s father knew what he was doing with her! Sea and Sky is a perfect name for this relatively stormy personality. She has a strong affinity for the water and the wind – both in terms of personality and in her magic. Her physical skills – dancing, fighting, riding – have a fluidity about them given to her by the water and the wind. And she will see calm at first, utterly laid-back, and then the storms will roll in and she will blow her top.

All of the main characters – and most of the background characters – in Addergoole have some story behind their name, but I’m the fondest of Kailani’s, even now.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/931613.html. You can comment here or there.

April A-Z Blogging Challenge: R is for Rituals (A Microfic)

The Meme Master Post

R is for ritual that helps cement history

This is a sibling piece with N is for Nereid, O is for Octopi, and P is for Poinsettias.

One reason the Empire had become – and managed to stay – the Empire was because it understood the purpose of information. There were, on the official Empirical payroll, people whose job it was to travel to all corners of the Empire, however closed-off, however dangerous, and disseminate and gather information. It was their job to assure that the will of the Empire was the will of the whole Empire, and their job to assure that all the secrets of a great sprawling land were properly catalogued. These Informers moved in circuits around the Empire, so that they understood the whole land and so that they grew none too attached to one place.

Eliška Konvalinka’s circuit had brought her to the city Scheffenon for the first time; she had been down in the warmer south since her training period ended, as far from the far-northern Capital where she had been born as possible and still be in the Empire. Such was the tradition, but now her probationary period was also over and she was being cycled up to places more in suiting with her linguistic knowledge.

She met her contact in the Informers’ Embassy, a place which each city was required to maintain. This one was mosaiced in water patterns, and three fountains marked its streetwise corners: an octopus, a mermaid, and a shark.

Moya Ní Mháille was cycling out of Scheffenon and to someplace, as she put it, “less damp and less creepy.” The Informers were required to be aware of the places they were stationed, not to like them. She poured the tea, beginning a ritual that was older than the Empire.

“Scheffenon, jewel of the Northern Sea,
Noted for oddities one, two, and three,” she began, in a lilting sing-song. She would recite four couplets and sip her tea; Eliška would repeat back the four couplets and add a rhyming question. Every twelve couplets they would recite the whole thing together.

“Third the fountains, the water, it sings out with pain,
the binding renewed with each stormfall’s new rain…”

Moya had learned a shorter version of the poem from the person before her, who had passed on what she had learned from the Informer before her, and so on. Once a week, Eliška would repeat all the poems she had learned and embellished, cementing them into her memory and locking them into the walls of the embassy itself.

There were paper records, of course, books and books of them, in the Embassy, travelling with the Informers, copied into the Imperial vaults. But the poem lived on, and could neither be burned nor forged.

“The people of Scheffenon hold secrets close
But the answers are written on their walls & their shores.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/931465.html. You can comment here or there.

April A-Z Blogging Challenge: Q is for Quietness

The Meme Master Post

Q is for quietness leading to mystery: after The Club.

Chloe D’Aushinger and her family were learning quietness.

Chloe’s silent arrest had shaken all of them, from her husband’s mother down to her youngest child. What they were learning now did more than shake them. “It feels,” her daughter Marie whispered, “as if we being changed into different people.”

“And that is both exactly what we are doing and not at all what we’re doing.” The good lady Nicholle had a skill for overhearing things that was nothing short of preternatural.

Marie, who was just old enough to think that adults should be more reasonable and far less silly, raised her chin and studied their hostess. “Please explain.”

“Who you are – who you really are – must not change. Your mother interested us for the same reason that she interested The Doctors.” Nicholle paused, exactly as their tutor did when waiting for them to figure out an answer.

Marie shared a glance with her older brother Tomas. He looked back at her expectantly. Marie worried her lower lip, and said, carefully, “She says things. She says things Mrs. Gershwin – she was our tutor – said I musn’t repeat.”

“She does. And more importantly, she says things that indicate she is thinking. Now, sometimes you are thinking things you don’t wish Mrs. Gershwin to know about, yes?”

She looked directly at Tomas this time, and it was Tomas who stuttered and nodded. “Yes, madame.”

“Well, just as like then, you must learn to project quietness, so that you may be as loud as you want in the privacy of your mind. This comes with some added advantages, of course.” Nicholle looked up as Chloe entered the room, pitching her conversation to include her as well.

“Yes?” Chloe raised her eyebrows. “Do tell?” Mme. D’Aushinger had taken to pacing the length and breadth of their “safe house”, muttering of the wasted time and penning as many missives as her hosts would allow, even while her children were enjoying the unexpected holiday, strange lessons or no.

“While you learn to project quietness, to smile just so while matters are being discussed, to say, so honestly ‘I shall say nothing on that’ when inappropriate questions are asked, when you learn all of that, you project an air of mystery. Soon, people will assume you an expert on all manner of things, and they will make the time and the quietness to come to you. Then, then you may speak without fear of the Doctors, for the Doctors have many foes, and they know how to make silence stick.”

This belongs to the Things Unspoken setting, along with N is for Nereid, O is for Octopi, and P is for Poinsettias.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/928925.html. You can comment here or there.

(S is for) Seeds in the Ground!

Today I planted some Evergreen Bunching Onions – in the other half of the row in which I planted carrots yesterday. I also planted a few feet of Rossa Lunga di Firenze seeds. Both are “spring” or “green onion” or “Scallion” varieties, depending on how you ask – something eaten while the bulb is the size of a fingertip, the greens often used as garnish.

All of these seeds are old, although I’ve kept them all in the freezer, so I overplanted heavily. I mean, like carrots, you can eat the thinnings, too. And if they only sprout sporadically, I have enough seeds to fill in the gaps.

Then I hauled a little more dirt to the bed at the opposite corner of the garden (There are two rows of four 4×6 beds; the two right-hand beds on each side are 12″ deep and the others are 6″ deep), where I have a netting trellis set up. There I planted a row of peas: half Wando and half Freezonian (yes, really.)

Again, old seeds – two years ago, I think – this time I tried something different. I planted them at 2x the suggested distance. In two weeks, I can go in and plant half of the “gap” spaces, and in two weeks after that, the other “gap” spaces. That way, the trellis won’t be lopsided 🙂

…I really like planting things. I’m not so good at remembering to weed and such.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/927967.html. You can comment here or there.

April A-Z Blogging Challenge: P is for Poinsettias (a microfic)

The Meme Master Post

P is for for posturing, and peacocks, and poinsettias

This is a sibling piece with N is for Nereid and O is for Octopi.

If Scheffenon, high on the Northern Sea, was the strange step-child of the nation, then Orschëst, down by the southern border, was its misbehaving youngest child. Scheffenon talked to strangers because they had money and trade goods. Orschëst talked to them because they were fun.

The woman of Orschëst were known across the world for being elegant. Fashions that would end up in Scheffenon in fifteen or fifty years began with a woman’s whim in Orschëst. And not just Scheffenon; Orschëst fashions traveled the known world.

If Orschëst women were fashion-setters, their young men were something else indeed. In that age when they were no longer children but had not yet learned the wisdom of adulthood, they preened and postured like peacocks. “The Orschëst Poinsettias.”

They competed: who could wear the brightest colors, the most colors at once. Whose boots could sport the most extreme cut, whose doublets could have the most buttons. They competed for their hair – wearing it longest, shorted, most braids or highest styling. There was not a young man in Orschëst who looked what the rest of the country would call normal, not from the time he was given his first belt-blade to the time he first convinced a woman to keep his calling card.

“It’s like they are continually drunk on the show,” more than one tourist from the midlands has been overheard saying. “Like they’re afraid what happens if, for one minute, they stop showing off.”

The more astute tourists have noticed, that while every city in the nation has their statues, Orschëst has only one. The Faceless Lady, as she is called by those who do not know her name – and nobody speaks her name aloud – stands in the center of Orschëst. And every young Orschëst Peacock in his feathers will stop by her statue, showing off his brilliant plumage. “Dancing for the Lady,” the tourists call it, and never wonder why the boys look so frightened when they dance.

In the same universe as Around Elephants and The Club, which is probably the same setting as Edora & Rodegard (here & here), and which now DEFINITELY needs a setting name…

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/927331.html. You can comment here or there.

(P is for) Planted! First things in the garden

3 feet of carrots – the first of many in succession planting – half Red-cored Chantenay, half Short n’ Sweet. They’ll be ready at the end of June/beginning of July!

I’ve got a 4’x6′ bed, and plan to plant a half-row every two weeks.

If I plant the rows 6″ apart, that’s 16 half-rows. /Does the math/ I’d be planting until November… that won’t work (First frost is around October 15th here).

Okay, maybe I want to make some of those half-rows something else. Any suggestions?

Planting more at a time seems counter-productive, but I could space things every week instead.

Do you have any favorite varieties of carrot? (Or any other root crop that takes up a small footprint?) Anything I should dedicate half a row to?)

…I have a LOT of green onion seeds still…

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/926913.html. You can comment here or there.

Feeling Creative? Need Blogging/Microfic Prompts for U,V,W,X,Y, & Z

My April A-Z blogging challenge is continuing! I’m a little behind (up through O), but I could use some more prompts for the last week, here: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/916817.html all set!

I’m down to U-Z, the tricky ones. Pls. feel free to prompt things about my writing, about my life, about the interwebs, about worldbuilding – have fun! If you guys don’t, I’m gonna have to come up with things on my own, and it’ll probably be somehow related to the worldbuilding I’m doing in my head.

…anyone know a bast fiber that starts with U?

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/926589.html. You can comment here or there.

April A-Z Blogging Challenge: O is for Octopi (a microfic)

The Meme Master Post

O is for octopi clinging to jetty-as

This is a sister piece with N is for Nereid

In all of the beautiful, clean city of Scheffenon, the Scheif Harbor was known as its jewel. The city was in a prime position, trains running day and night out to the rest of the continent, boats criss-crossing the Northern Sea to bring goods and people in. Tourists would come just to look at it, to bathe in the cold, clear blue waters. They were said – like the city itself – to have healing properties.

Torschi Contvallen went to Scheffenon after a riding accident left her with a bum hip. She found within a day that she could walk more steadily, within two that she could walk with less pain, and within three that she could move well enough to risk swimming. Anything to get away from the fountains, she told herself, as she boarded the quaint little rickshaw. Anything to get away from the murals, with their fish with the creepy eyes that seemed to follow one. Anything to get away from the innkeeper, who was so cheerful and so determined that Torschi should visit every fountain, every objet d’art, every folksy quaint museum in this bright, shining town.

She slipped into the water, her bathing costume the one provided by the so-helpful innkeeper. Back home, it would have been considered quaintly old-fashioned and miserably out of style. In the cold waters of Scheif Harbor, Torschi found that she appreciated the extra coverage – and almost every other bather was dressed similarly.

She had been a championship swimmer in her youth, and even with the bum hip, found she could still pull a decent stroke. She swam away from the doggie-paddling, gossiping crowds, out to where the tiny fish would tickle her toes.

It was lovely out here, far enough away that the noise of the city was quieted, far enough that the sea creatures were braver. Torschi found herself relaxing, even as she found the pain in her hip beginning to return. She looked back to the piers, gauging how long it would take her to swim back.

There were octopi clinging to the piers, climbing them. On every jetty she could see, stacked so thick they looked like walls of moving tentacles, the octopi reached for shore.

Torschi had never swum faster and she had never cared less if she hurt. She rolled out of the water like a gymnast and stopped only long enough to grab her clothing before grabbing the first rickshaw to her inn. And there, she stopped only long enough to dress before catching a train.

The octopi in the water had reached for shore as if their lives depended on it. But – and this is what had sent Torschi running for the train – the statues, every one of them she had seen on the way home, the murals, the friezes – they were all reaching for the sea.

In the same universe as Around Elephants and The Club, which is probably the same setting as Edora & Rodegard (here & here), and which now needs a setting name…

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/926270.html. You can comment here or there.