Tag Archives: world building

Welcome to the Fantasy Worlds of Lita Burke

5 Most Popular Pictures in 2015 – Part II

This is the second of two blog posts that look back at the five most popular pictures on Lita’s blog in 2015. Here are the fourth through first place winners.

Previously: 5 Most Popular Pictures in 2015 – Part I

A Resident of the Floating Lands

A Resident of the Floating Lands

Fourth Place: Floating Lands Video

It’s time to roll out another of Lita’s fantasy worlds–Floating Lands.  This month is a look at lighter-than-air islands, levitating people, and soaring cows. Check out Lita’s just-released Floating Lands video.

We have all visited floating lands–do you dream you can fly? When asleep, we soar like a lark or hover like hummingbirds.

Sometimes when your legs feel so heavy during your morning run, or you’re at a standstill in commuter traffic, do you look to the sky and marvel at a bird’s effortless glide on the wind? If you parachute, then you have felt the breathless sensation of floating. Ditto if you’ve flown in a zero-G airplane or hovered in the blast of a wind tunnel.

Fantasy fiction is airborne.  The King of Eagles plucks the imprisoned wizard from atop his enemy’s tower. Sparkly faced vampires leap the distance of soccer fields from balconies to treetops. Any sorceress worth her pointy hat can levitate a feather or a boulder. More…

Unicorn with an Elf Magician

Unicorn with an Elf Magician

Third Place: Concerning Unicorns in the Clockpunk Wizard World

Time to set the facts straight about this four-legged sentient creature with a long spiral horn on its forehead.

If Gentle Reader were to cast a searching spell about unicorns in our fantasy world called internet, the spell would say that unicorns are made-up bits of fantasy fluff. Lita says horse feathers (with apologies to Pegasus) about that parcel of nonsense.

The upcoming story Glitter Ponies tells about Lady Luck’s daughter helping Wizard Kadmeion discover the cause of a mysterious unicorn illness. It will be a while until Kadmeion’s airship travels to floating Wuddlekins Island to visit the unicorn herd, so here are some facts from the wizard’s Bestiarum Vocabulum.

Unicorns are the size of ponies with red, black, or white coats. They share the physical features of horses and goats: they have manes, long flowing tails, cloven hooves, and many have a goat-like beard. More…

Home of a Woodland Fairy

Home of a Woodland Fairy

Second Place: Care of a Fey-Folk Fairy (Part 1)

Meet Tinker Bell’s naughtier cousins—the fairies flitting about in the woodlands near Lita’s castle.

Today, Lita talks about the worldly fairies that go with Kadmeion on his wizard-for-hire adventures. Fairies take their coloring from where they live. There are four types of fey-folk:

  • Highland fairies have wings the color of sunshine, and sound like the whisper of shushing snow during flight.
  • When water fey-folk flutter their turquoise wings, they sound like murmuring rills.
  • Woodland fairies gather in emerald or jade fairy clans, and their nighttime play is often mistaken for fireflies.
  • Fire fairies love volcanos, have flame-colored wings, and leap about as if they were sizzling lava sparks.

The tiny fairy magicians build their communal homes from materials rich in latent magic. Predators that hunger for an easy magical snack are a constant danger to fairies. To protect themselves, fey-folk often befriend elf mages and live in their sheltered gardens. More…

An "Ornithopter" personal flying machine by Da Vinci

An “Ornithopter” personal flying machine by Da Vinci

First Place: How the Airship Works

Welcome to the topside Map Room in Wizard Kadmeion’s airship. It adjoins the Pilot House.

The magical world of Clockpunk Wizard  in Forever Boy is a spinning plate with a large mountainous land mass at the spindle called the South Pole. The rest of the platter is a vast ocean dotted with small sandy cays.

The strong magical field at the South Pole causes a certain volcanic rock to float. These rocks break away from the primary landmass and drift toward the Rim. These hundreds of floating islands are the habitable archipelago for the magicians and other inhabitants of the Clockpunk Wizard world.

The weather is calm near the South Pole. Storms are common toward the outer edge of the plate. At the Rim boundary, violent winds destroy everything. All the floating islands eventually drift to the Rim and disappear. Smaller islands move more quickly to their death. The largest floating islands can last for a century or longer. Magical creatures flourish on the floating islands. Many island residents have need of a wizard’s skilled services. This is the basis of Kadmeion and Bright’s roving magician-for-hire business. More…

A Visitor to Lita Burke's Blog

5 Most Popular Classic Posts in 2015

Lita is so delighted when Gentle Readers drop by her blog posts from earlier years. Here are the top five most visited classic posts in 2015.

A beautiful harpy in the Clockpunk Wizard world

A beautiful harpy in the Clockpunk Wizard world

FIFTH PLACE: Harpies Are Misunderstood

Madam Harpy, our Winged Sister of the Sky. Who did a disservice to this magical creature, turning her from a beautiful woman with feathery wings, into a fearsome hag?

Hesiod, a Greek oral poet from the same time period as Homer, described harpies as women with fetching hair. Pottery showed them as lovely damsels with wings. Just what Lita was looking for, pretty bird gals having chronic Good Hair Days. More…

Shy Jack Frost, Winter's Fantasy Boy

Shy Jack Frost, Winter’s Fantasy Boy

FOURTH PLACE: Fantasy Boy of Winter: Jack Frost

Burr, it’s wintertime outside of Lita’s castle here in the northern realms. Someone painted icy filigree on the windows. Let’s bundle up, go outside, and meet the artist.

Say hello to handsome Jack Frost, winter’s fantasy boy. This magician embodies lacy window paintings, trees draped with sparkling snow, and crystalline sculptures made of ice. He tosses about sheets of sleet as if they were billowing linens on a clothesline. More…

The Length of the Wand Matters Not

The Length of the Wand Matters Not

THIRD PLACE: 6 Critical Elements for Fantasy World Building (Part 3)

This is the third of a 3-part blog post about building rich fantasy worlds to immerse your readers. In part 1 we looked at two “big picture” elements: maps and politics. Part 2 was a “medium” view about wimpy food and eavesdropping.

This time we’ll talk about a couple of “detail” topics: the decorative apostrophe, and why it’s no fun for wizards to just wave their wands and rule the world. More…

Readers Love to Eavesdrop

Readers Love to Eavesdrop

SECOND PLACE: 6 Critical Elements for Fantasy World Building (Part 2)

This is the second of a 3-part blog post about building rich fantasy worlds to immerse your readers. In part 1 we looked at two “big picture” elements in building a fantasy world: maps and politics.

Today we will take a “medium-sized” view and see why meat and grog are wimpy. We’ll also learn how to speak in tongues. More…

There is Always Someone Opposing Your Fantasy People

There is Always Someone Opposing Your Fantasy People

FIRST PLACE: 6 Critical Elements for Fantasy World Building (Part 1)

World-building techniques have always fascinated me.  High Fantasy and Epic Fantasy books were my delight as a young reader.  I poured over the maps on the book’s end papers, studied every entry in the glossary in the back, even marveled over the lengthy character name lists in the front.

When it comes to creating fantasy worlds for my own fiction, I’m a writer who knows the details of the characters’ environment. I must have their vitae close at hand so I know them well enough to write about their struggles.  It also doesn’t hurt to speak their language and follow the latest fads for their clothing styles. More…

Here are more for the curious minded:

A Sye Catacomb

Book of the Dead: Catacombs

The Book of the Dead explains the nature of Church magic in the Enchanters of Sye world.

Sciomancers Perform Ritualistic Spells to Maintain the Ghosts in the Catacombs

Sciomancers Perform Ritualistic Spells to Maintain the Ghosts in the Catacombs

catacombs [kat uh kohmz] noun, c.800, ME catacomb < OE catacumbe < L catacumbās < G katakýmbās, hollow, cup; also Under Church or ghost hall.

  • Physical: Underground stone-lined enclosures
  • Magic Type: Church/Piety
  • Spell Group: Incorporeal Matters
  • Restrictions on Physical and Magical Construction: Priest only construction, Sciomancer only maintenance; all other secular, Magic Guild, and Enchanter magicians disallowed. Only Sciomancer magic may bind a ghost to the corporeal world using a relic.
  • Ghost Magic: Secular magicians, Magic Guild, and Enchanters may summon a catacomb ghost provided the magic does not confine the spirit.
Sciomancers Light Candles to Warm the Ghosts

Sciomancers Light Candles to Warm the Ghosts

Catacombs are underground hallways, alcoves, and tunnels beneath Church buildings that house receptacles for ghost relics.

To build a catacomb, three Priests combine their magical power and draw on the pooled enchantments of an above ground Church building. The town’s Priest tends the structure spells afterwards.

Sciomancers furnish the catacomb hallways and alcoves with candle niches, metal name markers, and locked drawers to hold ghost relics. They support a favorable ghost environment by tending the upkeep of the catacombs, performing ritualistic spells, and lighting candles to warm the spirits.

Visitors Leave Dishes of Magic-rippling Water For the Ghosts

Visitors Leave Dishes of Magic-rippling Water For the Ghosts

Church followers visit the catacombs, leave small remembrances in the niches, and recite spells to encourage the ghosts to stay in the corporeal realm instead of journeying to the Fields of Yalu.

The gifts are usually flowers or plants, dishes of magic-rippling water, or tiny wind chimes on a stand that have a small spell to make the bells sound.

Explore Sye ghost care and meet a valued catacomb ghost in these blog posts:

Read more about ghost amulets, the Book of the Dead, and how ghosts help a magical charms maker hide a dangerous spell book in these Enchanters of Sye stories:

A Clown at the Evil Circus

Evil Circus: Masks and Grease Paint

Cirque du Méchant Has Come to Halloween Town

Cirque du Méchant Has Come to Halloween Town

Cirque du Méchant has come to Halloween Town, close enough that you hear the calliope’s screams in Lita’s castle. Not all fantasy worlds are bright and full of whistling elves. This Evil Circus is a dark carnival filled madness, magic, and grinning clowns.

Previously:

See the jesters and harlequins with the huge shoes and painted-on grins. Their desperate antics with bloated tricycles the size of cars reminds us of crazed morning commuters vying for a parking spot.

Enrapt Children Stare at the Clowns in the Cirque du Méchant

Enrapt Children Stare at the Clowns in the Cirque du Méchant

There is one clown that they will not allow in their play. They bonk him with huge stripped bats. The crowd roars. We laugh for a moment, pleased that for once it isn’t us. We look around the crowd. Some children stare, enrapt at the antics. Clowns. Do the grease paint smiles hide their pain and desperation? Is the grease paint a mask? Such a disturbing thought.

The big top show ends with the arching blazes of fire eaters then an animal parade around the ring. Whips snap and the air stinks with the acrid odor of the fireworks.

Learn Your Future at the Fortuneteller’s Wagon

Learn Your Future at the Fortuneteller’s Wagon

Outside, night has come. The Evil Circus glitters at night. We pass the fortune teller’s wagon. Shall we learn our future, or talk to the regretful ghosts of our past? We pause, consider, and move on to ride the carousel instead.

The time has gotten late. Time to leave the Evil Circus, methinks. No need to run for the exit just because night has come. The colored circus lights will light your steps. Don’t forget your hat. Nor your sanity.

Evil Circus is like a mushroom that grows in the dark. Mostly tasty, but odd and disturbing. Be sure to visit the next time it comes to Halloween Town.

Want more? Watch Lita’s Cirque du Méchant video. It will only take a minute now, but will haunt you forever. Step right up.

Carousel Tiger

Evil Circus: Madness is Saving You a Seat

The Marionettes Are Oh, So Lifelike

The Marionettes Are Oh, So Lifelike

Cirque du Méchant has come to Halloween Town, close enough that you hear the calliope’s screams in Lita’s castle. Not all fantasy worlds are bright and full of whistling elves. This Evil Circus is a dark carnival filled madness, magic, and grinning clowns.

Previously:

Listen. Over there is a shrieking calliope. See it puff and bluster like a boastful bird. Over here, that oh-so-handsome carny beckons us to the show in the big tent. We follow the crowd and take our seats.

Care for some pink cotton candy? Yes, please. It tastes like a sweet cloud.

In the Dark of the Tent Rafters is a Spider Woman

In the Dark of the Tent Rafters is a Spider Woman

A whisper warns us no, it is really my spun cobwebs. We search for our party spoiler. In the dark tip-top of the tent, is that a spider woman looking down at us? She is not a cartoon hero, but a huntress with many eyes.

We hand the rest of our treat to the child sitting next to us. The sticky stays on our face.  It clings, just like a cobweb.

Still, there is beautiful magic here. Weightless acrobats fly between swinging bars in the tent rafters. Gorgeous cats leap, paw the air, and roar. Watch the puppet show where the marionettes are oh, so lifelike.

Tiny-eyed elephants balance on drums and wave their snake-like trunks at the crowd. Look, there is a Fantasy Elephant floating under its own tiny circus tent. Is it real?

A Wee Elephant the Size of a Bumblebee Flies By

A Wee Elephant the Size of a Bumblebee Flies By

Perhaps. Illusion is so delicious and tricky.

The pachyderm flicks its trunk and blinks.  See the madness in its eyes?

A wee elephant the size of a bumblebee flies by. Its wings sound like the flapping of leathery bats. Illusions with sounds are so lifelike.

The circus band plays a dusty fanfare, and then the Barker calls our attention to the center ring. We scoot to the edge of our seats and crane our necks. What wonders now wait in the wings? A delicious shiver runs down our backs. Time to send in the clowns.

Next Time: Masks & Grease Paint

Evil Circus: Childhood Gone Dark

We See a Motionless Girl with Hair Over Her Face

We See a Motionless Girl with Hair Over Her Face

Cirque du Méchant has come to Halloween Town, close enough that you hear the calliope’s screams in Lita’s castle. Not all fantasy worlds are bright and full of whistling elves. This Evil Circus is a dark carnival filled madness, magic, and grinning clowns.

Previously: Your Wildest Desire

Youth is a dark time for some, and the children of the Cirque du Méchant are the darkest. It is difficult to tell if they are the offspring of the glittery carnival adults or if they are runaways. Some plain boys sweep away the dirt and haul buckets of manure. The beautiful children fly on the trapeze. We see a motionless girl with long hair covering her face.  Hello, sweetheart. What’s wrong?  She ducks into the shadow of the fortuneteller’s wagon and vanishes.

Look at This Shelf

Look at This Shelf

Let us follow this carnival boy of about ten years. His steps are so light; the lad’s feet seem not to touch the ground. Will he float away?  He pauses at a tent flap, sees us, and points inside.  I have my treasure to show you, he mouths before he slips into the tent.

Oh, let’s go see.

This little boy has stuffed his tent with broken dolls. He heaped them everywhere. Look at this shelf–all heads.  He tossed the bodies over there. Such an odd child. We back out of the tent.

Next Time: Madness is Saving You a Seat

Welcome to the Evil Circus

Evil Circus: Your Wildest Desire

Rouge-Painted Cheeks and Shapely Scarlet Lips

Rouge-Painted Cheeks and Shapely Scarlet Lips

Cirque du Méchant has come to Halloween Town, close enough that you hear the calliope’s screams in Lita’s castle. Not all fantasy worlds are bright and full of whistling elves. This Evil Circus is a dark carnival filled madness, magic, and grinning clowns.

Step right this way, ladies and gentlemen, and visit the Evil Circus. It sprang up outside of town last night like a pale mushroom.

The gaudy flapping canvas of an enormous tent dominates what yesterday was the Smith’s south pasture. A Ferris wheel soars above everything like a glistening tiara. Elephants trumpet. Tigers roar. Even their manure has an exotic stench.

A Ferris Wheel Soars Above Everything

A Ferris Wheel Soars Above Everything

Lovely women with rouge-painted cheeks and shapely scarlet lips smile and tease. Handsome men wearing top hats beguile you with promises of wonder beyond your wildest desire.

Why resist?  You surrender only money, not your soul, for a ticket to this freaky show. At least initially.

Next Time: Childhood Gone Dark