Z is for Zoomorph

Well, this is the last one! Thanks to everybody who set up the A to Z challenge this year, and all the other bloggers who joined in the adventure with me.

Like yesterday, I picked a fairly silly brainstorming item for Z. This was a word I actually found in a list of words starting with Z. Zoomorph is somebody who can change into different animal shapes, like Prince Dolph from the Xanth fantasy series.

Of course, Dolph had nearly perfect control over his magical talent by the time he was nine, probably because of his bright big sister Ivy training him. But I’m wondering what it might be like for a wild zoomorph, who couldn’t tell what animal he was going to become or when.

What kind of zoomorph stories would you like to read? Hope to see you soon!

Y is for Yeomancer

Hey, everybody! Well, the A to Z challenge is almost over, (as is this session of Camp Nanowrimo!) and I think for the last two letters, I’m going to go a little informal, and instead of blurbing some of the stories I’ve written or musing on the themes and motifs in them, I’m just brainstorming stuff that I could write about.

Yeomancer is actually something that I coined while looking at a list of Y words for inspiration. Building it up from its parts, the “-mancer” suffix generally indicates a type of wizard or spellcaster, and the “Yeo-” prefix–well, it’s not entirely clear, but in “yeoman” it’s thought that the “yeo-” part originally derived from “young”, as in a young man.

So, a Yeomancer would be a youth mage, somebody who could make the old young or otherwise manipulate youth. Possibly he could transfer youth and age from person to person, making the young old and the old young, thus allowing some to be virtually immortal at the expense of the lifespans of others.

This isn’t a new idea, of course. TV tropes, unsurprisingly, has an entry for Life Drinker which seems somewhat relevant. That page lists some Twilight Zone episodes but not one episode I remember from the 2002 revival, in which the gimmick was actually a body-switching device, but the magician and his consort were using the body-switch to become immortal by always jumping to younger, healthier, and more beautiful victims.

What kind of story would you like to see about a Yeomancer?

X is for Xenophile

Xenophile would be a lover, admirer, or friend of aliens, the opposite of xenophobe. I think I tend to have quite a few xenophiles in my science fiction, any that actually involve aliens, such as Star Patrol or the Aurigae universe stories. I’m drawn to those people who want to learn about alien civilizations, to teach them more about humanity, and who think that the mutual learning will make both species richer. Vanessa from Kitchen Scale takes the xenophilia a bit further than most of my other characters, planning to declare a life partnership with her Libran sweetie, Doomah.

And in many of these stories, my xenophiles are set against xenophobe antagonists or foils, who distrust aliens, (which, if they’re not humans, might be the Earthlings,) and have goals which would involve creating a gulf between the two peoples.

I’m drawn to xenophile characters in my favorite stories from other people, too, like Louis Wu in the Larry Niven Ringworld stories. (And his stepdad Beowulf Shaeffer, come to think of it.) The young wizards from Diane Duane’s books generally love getting to know aliens, especially if they’re wizards too. And then there’s Liz Parker and her friends from Roswell…

…Which makes me think of xenophilia in an urban fantasy or paranormal context. Werewolves, vampires, and fae might not be aliens in the extraterrestrial planet sense, but they’re definitely outsiders from ordinary humanity and represent “the other” in these stories. So that would make characters like Sookie Stackhouse, Elena Gilbert, and even Bella Swan xenophiles, right? 😉

So, which side do you come down on; xenophile or xenophobe?

W is for a Witch of Arion

Nashua is a witch.

She never really thought about it until Fox’s Fair comes to her city and her mother takes her to enjoy the fair. There was a witch there telling fortunes, and the witch got upset with the way Nashua’s mother was treating her and got offended, using her powers to humiliate Mother.

When Nashua mentions that she’s a witch too, Mother is devastated and Father is furious. Father even uses his influence in the Baron’s court to get soldiers sent to capture the witch at the fair. The witch tries to run away and is shot.

But Nashua runs away from home, joins the fair, and asks them to leave her with the next nearest witch they know. That turns out to be a very bad idea, as the witch, Black Ear, has much darker plans for Nashua than teaching her witchcraft.

With the help of some friends she made in the fair, Nashua escapes Black Ear’s tower, but not before her soul is linked with that of a demon. To free herself, she’ll have to travel into the mirror worlds, walk the country of the dead, and perhaps most terrifying of all–go home to her family!

If you read my entry for B (birds,) then this story is in the same universe as “The Storm Mirror.” Nashua grows up to become Sorena’s grandmother. (And I’m surprised that I didn’t cover “The Storm Mirror” on A-Z this year, but it’s too late now!)

V is for Very nice to meet you!

Okay, yeah, so, I couldn’t come up with anything more interesting for V. (Thought about referencing my wizard’s school murder mystery story, “The Case of the Wizard’s Vice”, but that’s too thoroughly trunked to mention on a proper author blog…) 😉

But I did want to say thank you to everybody who’s commented, who’s subscribed to this new blog, even just anybody who’s read any of my ramblings so far this April. I haven’t had a chance to go and visit all of your own blogs and pages, but I’m definitely going to.

And I hope that some of you will stick with me as I try to figure out what I’m blogging about after April 30th.

U is for Underworld

Tony’s fiancee Felicity died of cancer, and even though she found a god who promised to cure her, the Irish trickster god of magic Gwydion, he insisted that she toss runes for it, and Felicity lost. (This is a modern world setting in which the miraculous powers of the gods are an accepted part of daily life.)

After the funeral, the Irish priests give Tony a letter from Felicity, who asks Tony to venture into the Underworld of Hades, who has claimed her because her parents worship the Olympian gods. Tony recruits Felicity’s best friend Marshall to take him on the road to the Underworld, and Marshall agrees to do it if he can film the trip using a psi-camera. But

When Tony finally gets his audience with the King of the Underworld, Felicity makes one more request of him that turns his life around. He won’t get back to the mortal world until this adventure is over, but at least he’s still with Felicity–even if she’s in disguise, hiding from Hades, and working for Gwydion on a secret mission to rescue the Irish faithful from the Greek underworld!

T is for Tough Love

James is a bounty hunter for a community of wizards that live within the modern urban world, keeping their magic secret. It’s his job to track down fugitives from community law who are endangering people or putting the secret at risk. But he never thought one of the fugitives would be his own daughter.

Felicia left the community years ago, and they’ve been getting reports that she’s using magic for personal gain, charming people into giving her stuff for free, and skipping town after a sleep spell went wrong and she couldn’t wake the target from a coma.

James tracks Felicia down to her new home in San Francisco, and hurt feelings flare for both father and daughter. Felicia agrees to go and face community judgment–and then slips out when she thinks James isn’t looking. James can track her down–but would Felicia be better off if he dragged her in kicking and screaming, or let another marshal handle this case?

S is for a Soldier’s Duty

Al, Tony, and Jeff are only teenagers, but when alien invaders start landing and wreaking damage all across America, they’re drafted into a special state militia and trained on plenty of state-of-the-art weapons gear to help protect their local area–which includes Mount Rushmore.

But during one skirmish with the enemy, Jeff discovers a puzzling secret–the invaders aren’t aliens, but human. Aside from Jeff’s mom and Al’s girlfriend, the guys have no idea who they can trust. Why are the invaders acting like they could be aliens, and why are the state militias buying into that idea?

Together, they’ll have to break into classified files and threaten superior officers to get to the whole truth!

R is for Return to Civilization

Eleven years ago, Andy left Sol system in his small scout ship, Yukon Stranger. He was one of hundreds of prospectors looking for the next top colony planet. He didn’t expect it would take it this long to go home, but there were always a few promising stars to explore just a little further out, and then he met up with the alien Mintakans and borrowed their star charts.

Now Andy has arrived home with the co-ordinates of his jackpot planet, only to find out that the relaxed, goofy Check-in space station has been transformed. Now it’s Border Control, and instead of his friends who worked there, (and the girl he regrets leaving behind, Becky,) Border Control is full of very literally programmed robots.

Since he doesn’t have the new Sol Citizen ID chip implanted in his arm, the robots decide that Andy is an emissary from a previously unknown alien species, and he can’t seem to convince them that he’s human. Playing along would mean falsifying a visa application, which would get him in a lot of trouble down the road, but until the robots are satisfied, it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere!

Witty and just a little Kafka-esque, “Return to Civilization” is my latest entry for Writers of the Future.

Q is for Questions!

One of the great things about writing science fiction and fantasy is all of the questions you can try to answer. Some of the best type of questions:

  • “What if?” is the question that famously sparks a lot of science fiction or fantasy premises. What if you could use electricity to bring a dead thing to life? What if there were wizards hidden in modern London? What if technology became so advanced that there was no more scarcity?
  • “How would?” is a good follow-up to what if that can help you develop your premise further and figure out what the conflict in the story is about. How would the scientist stop his creation after it escapes? How would a wizard kid escape his un-wizardly aunt and uncle and go to wizard school?
  • “Who has the most at stake?” is a very important question to ask about a story, of course, and a good way to find your protagonist and antagonist.
  • “Where” and “When” are great questions for world-building, of course, especially in picking the place and time that has the most to offer a story.
  • “Why” is the biggest and most open-ended question of all, of course. We’re always looking for meaning, but sometimes the answers to why only tell us about ourselves, not the world we’re looking out at.

What’s your favorite question for a story?