Archive for fantasy writing

Finding the Right Environment for Fantasy Writing

Posted in Writing with tags on August 20, 2011 by Dawn Ross

The biggest obstacle to fantasy writing and getting my book published has been my full time job.  When I get home from work, I am too tired to work on my book.  And weekends are full of chores and other activities.

But as of July 29th, 2011 I officially became a housewife.  I don’t have children yet so there shouldn’t be too much going on to keep me from working on my book.  So why haven’t I done anything yet?

I haven’t been completely idle.  I have a few websites and blogs that I have to maintain.  I have been working on a new website which I will share with you soon.  And I keep the house extra clean and cook meals.  Even after all that, I still have time to work on my book.  So what’s the deal?

My problem, once again, is procrastination.  And I just haven’t gotten used to being at home all day.  I haven’t found a routine yet so I just do whatever I feel like at the moment.  But if I ever want to get my book published then I have to start treating my book like a job, even if it is just a part time one.

Step One – Set aside a specific time for fantasy writing and stick to it.

Step Two – Make sure there are no distractions.  Some people like a TV or radio on.  If this works for you, then do it.  But make sure it doesn’t distract your focus.  Sometimes I like the TV on, but I make sure it is in another room so that I can hear it but not see it.  I usually put in a movie which I have already seen and one which inspires my fantasy writing creative juices – such as Lord of the Rings.

Step Three – Have everything for fantasy writing ready to go.  All the pens, paper, index cards, notes, reference materials, and/or computer files are easily accessible and in one place.

Step Four – STOP PROCRASTINATING and JUST DO IT!!!  This is the hardest part to fantasy writing, I know.

Well, we will see if that works.  As soon as I finish the new website I am building, I will share it with you… and then I will start focusing on my fantasy writing.  (Yes, I am procrastinating again.  But I am almost done as you will see next Saturday.)

Information on Horses in Fantasy Writing – Part III

Posted in Miscellaneous, Writing with tags , on August 13, 2011 by Dawn Ross

The Encyclopedia of the Horse

I have covered common horse traits and descriptions.  But what about the descriptions of horse trappings and armor?  And I still haven’t told you how far a real horse can travel.  Well, here it is.  If you have any more helpful information on horses or if you find some of this information does not fit what you know about horses, please let me know.

* Bit – part of the bridle that consists of a straight metal mouthpiece held in a horse’s mouth by the reins and used to control the horse.  The types of bits vary in size and make.  There are the most common jointed or double-jointed bits which have swiveling mouthpieces also called a snaffle bit, there are bits with chain mouthpieces, curb bits, and more.  In medieval times it may have been believed that the more harsh the bit, the easier to control an unruly horse.
* Bridle – the leather fittings worn on the horse’s head and used to communicate with the horse.
* Cinch – girth for a saddle consisting of a thick strap secured by passing the end through two metal rings.
* Decorative trappings – dyed or bleached ostrich plumes.
* Girth strap – broad band fastened around the belly of a horse to keep the saddle in place.
* Halter – worn on the horse’s head and used to lead and control the horse without the bridle and saddle.
* Harness – the leather straps that help pull something such as a wagon, a bit may be part of the harness.
* Head collar – same as a bridle but without a noseband.
* Lead – rope attached to the collar and used to lead the horse.
* Rug – put under a saddle for comfort.  Also a stable rug and used for weather protection without a saddle.
* Saddle – the seat for a man (or woman) to sit comfortably on a horse.  The basic parts of the saddle are the horn, pommel, cantle, stirrups, rigging, and more.
* Stirrup – where the rider’s feet go.  Stirrups help to give a rider balance, especially in battle when the rider’s hands are being used to hold weapons such as a sword, bow, lance, and others.  Stirrups were not used in medieval Europe until about the 5th – 8th century.  Cavalry in warfare did not become prominent until after the use of the stirrup.
* Tack – everything leather that you put on the horse.
* Trappings – horse accessories or decorative horse coverings.

* Barding – basic term for various horse armor.
* Caparison – decorated horse blanket covering.  The caparison is usually worn along with horse armor.
* Chanfron – armor for the horse’s head.  Chanfron is based on a French word and there are various spellings.
* Crinet – armor attached to the back of the chanfron and trailed down the horse’s mane.
* Peytral – armor protecting the horse’s front neck.
* Trapper – same as caparison except sometimes made with mail.

Miscellaneous Information on Horses
* Cannon – part of the horse’s leg from knee to fetlock.  Long cannon bones are preferable.
* Cold-blooded – term applied to draft horses.
* Colt – male horse under four years old.
* Dam – mother horse.
* Fetlock – below the lowest joint to the hoof.
* Filly – female horse under four years old.
* Foot – hoof and all else between.
* Frog – v-shape in the middle of the food.
* Grooming – dandy brush (stiff bristled brush used to remove mud and dirt from the body), body brush (short bristled brush used to remove dust, scurf or dandruff, and grease from the mane and tail), curry comb (used in conjunction with the body brush – removes mud and dirt from the brush itself and from the body), mane and tail comb, sweat scraper (removes excess water or sweat), hoof pick (cleans under the foot), hoof and oil brush (used to shine the horse’s hooves).
* Hitching post – a post outside an establishment used to temporarily tether horses.
* Hobble – used to tie the legs of a horse loosely together with a rope or strap to prevent him from straying too far.  The horse can walk, but it can’t run.
* Hoof – outer horny layer of the food.
* Horses can travel 20-30 miles per day at a trot if they are well-cared for.  Horses can be specifically bred and trained to go further but they can’t carry heavy weight.  Such horses may be used to carry messengers.
* Mare – adult female horse.
* Shod – shoe.
* Stallion – adult male horse.
* Stud – male horse used for breeding.
* Tethered – horse tied to a post or pole.
* Thrush – decay of the soft horn of the frog on the horse’s foot.  Common problem for horses living in damp conditions or uncared for stalls.
* To saddle a horse – girth up and check the fit.
* If not properly trained, a horse can spook at certain sounds, smells, animals he is not familiar with, or even shadows.
* Horses eat hay, oats, corn, and sweetfeed.
* Riding a horse for a long period results in pain in the inner thigh and buttock muscles, also in the lower back, calves, knees, and hips.  A long period is determined by the frequency of the riding.
* Horses must be walked and rubbed down after working a sweat.
* Horses are prone to stomach problems so do not overfeed or abruptly change his diet.
* Horses do not lap water.  They suck it with their lips.
* Horses have a hard time on rough terrain, marshlands, and mountains, unless specifically bred for that purpose.
* Peasants generally owned oxen, donkeys, or mules, but not horses.

Fantasy writing is not a simple as it sounds.  Although I had a good story in my head, certain details escaped me – such as information on horses.  Without proper research, I could have made many mistakes which could have insulted those who know about horses.  Remember, just because it is fantasy doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to make sense.  Use real information when talking about real creatures or objects.

More detailed information on horses can be found at my Squidoo page “Helpful Information on Horses“, and from books such as “The Medieval Horse and its Equipment“, “The Horse in the Middle Ages“, or “The Encyclopedia of the Horse“.  All these books and other great fantasy writing books can be purchased at the Writing a Fantasy Novel Amazon a-Store.

Information on Horses in Fantasy Writing – Part II

Posted in Miscellaneous, Writing with tags , on August 6, 2011 by Dawn Ross

Horse in the Middle Ages

Last week I went over about some of the body language of horses, different gaits or traveling speeds of horses, and the shoeing of a horse.  This week, I have information about the descriptive information on horses, the breed types, and the working types of horses.  This information on horses can be very helpful in fantasy writing.

* The average height of a horse is 16hh (hands high) – small horses are 14hh while war horses are usually stallions standing 18hh.
* Basic colors – black, brown (light or dark), bay (light or dark brown coat with black points), chestnut (reddish brown coat, mane, and tail), gray or fleabitten gray (black and white with flecks of brown), dun (yellow coat with black points), roan (mixture with white – example is strawberry roan), piebald (irregular patches of black and white, skewbald (irregular patches of white and brown), palomino (varying shades of gold coat with flaxen or white mane and tail), dapple gray.
* Basic head markings – tar, stripe, blaze, white face, snip (white mark between nostrils).
* Basic leg markings – sock (white marking covering the fetlock and part of the cannon area), stocking (white leg as far as the knee or hock).

Types of Horses
* Carriage horse – about 15-16hh, variously colored but dapple preferred, athletic, refined head, narrow in build as compared to draft horses, large crested neck, short back.
* Cart horse
* Charger – a warhorse.  Also called a destrier.
* Coach horse – dappled mares were a favorite coach horse
* Cob – used by heavier, less confident riders, cobs are thick set with muscular bodies, wide chest, barrel-like girth, draft-like in build, short legged.
* Destrier – a warhorse.  Also called a charger.
* Draft horse – about 16hh, variously colored, generally have blazes and white feet, calm temperament, powerful legs, compact body, thick neck, feathers from just below knee and hock to cover hooves.
* Garron – small sturdy pony found in cooler mountainous areas.  May be used by farmers in the highlands.
* Gelding – castrated male, gentlemen preferred to ride geldings because they weren’t as temperamental as stallions.
* Hackney – about 14-15hh, carriage horse, variously colored, has high stepping action, refined head, strong neck, sloping shoulder, compact body, short strong limbs.
* Noble horse – about 15hh, sophisticated horse breed, deep wide body, short back, built for speed, wide chest, tail carried straight up and out, has a floating step, long strides, has fine strong limbs, sometimes spirited in nature, often solid colors preferred, likes to prance, body and hindquarters muscular, used as a remount for traveling.
* Packhorse – about 16hh, variously colored, short square head, heavy, feathered feet.
* Palfrey – mare, riding horse usually ridden by upper class females.
* Remount – replacement riding horse used by soldiers.
* Running horse – about 14-15hh, small but highly agile, strong, short stocky legs, long neck, broad muscular body, feathered legs, full mane and tail.
* Riding horse – about 14-15hh, variously colored, low set tail, light boned, wide head, intelligent, high endurance, strength, quick and agile.
* Steed – term applied to any lively spirited horse.
* Warhorse – about 17-18hh, heavy, agile, surefooted, hardy, short back, broad chest, good depth of girth, powerful hindquarters, short legs, built for power not speed, natural vigor and power of endurance, heavy boned, may have docked tail.
* Wild horse – massive both in height and girth, long hair, often unusual colors such as roan or dapple.

Next week I will go over what I learned about horse trappings, horse armor, and other miscellaneous information on horses such as traveling distance.  For more information on horses check us out next week at my Squidoo page “Helpful Information on Horses“, and from books such as “The Medieval Horse and its Equipment“, “The Horse in the Middle Ages“, or “The Encyclopedia of the Horse“.  All these books and other great fantasy writing books can be purchased at the Writing a Fantasy Novel Amazon a-Store.

Information on Horses in Fantasy Writing – Part I

Posted in Miscellaneous, Writing with tags , on July 30, 2011 by Dawn Ross

The Medieval Horse and its Equipment, c.1150-1450 (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London)

One of the most difficult things for me to research in fantasy writing was horses.  Sure, I know what a horse is and I know a little about the saddle and reigns.  But how far can horses travel?  What types of horses are best for cavalry, traveling, carrying messengers, pulling carts, or working in the fields?  How do you describe a horse in color or body?  Besides saddle and reigns what are all the other horse trappings?

Without proper knowledge of horses, I couldn’t possibly create realistic fantasy writing.  Sure it’s fantasy, but if I’m using a real creature, I should use real information on horses.  How would it sound if in fantasy writing that a horse could travel a hundred miles in one day, if a lady casually rode a stallion, or if an untrained horse did anything the rider wanted it to do, like jump a chasm?

So how far can horses travel?  What kinds of horses do ladies ride and what kinds are taken into battle?  Below is some of the information on horses that I have found in my research.  I will post more information on horses in the following weeks.

Body Language of Horses
*Ears flattened back – anger
*Ears pricked forward – interest
*Ears flick back and forth when attention is divided between the mounted person and what is ahead.
*Presents a rump – warning to keep out of its space
*Shying – jumping to one side when startled; this can cause a rider to be dismounted.
*Thrust and draw back – fear or dislike
*Thrusts head – aggression
Language – squeal (protest), nicker (greeting), neigh (normal sound you think of when you think of horses; generally loud), snort (warning or alert), roaring (wild noises, usually made when two stallions are fighting), whinny (soft neigh), grunts or groans (displeasure)

*Walk – slowest pace of a horse; can be a slow or fast walk.
Trot or jog – faster than a walk but slower than a canter; best for long distance travel
Canter or lope – medium pace of a horse
gallop or full gallop – fastest pace of a horse in which all four feet of the horse are off the ground at the same time

*Farrier – makes and fits horseshoes
*Horses can be hot or cold shod – hot is easier than cold
*Horseshoes should not be left on longer than eight weeks or their feet will be “pinched”.
When reshoeing, the old shoes must be removed so that the farrier can trim a proportion of the hooves off and ensure that the feet are balanced before putting new shoes on.

More detailed information on horses can be found in the coming weeks at my Squidoo page “Helpful Information on Horses“, and from books such as “The Medieval Horse and its Equipment“, “The Horse in the Middle Ages”, or “The Encyclopedia of the Horse“.  All these books and other great fantasy writing books can be purchased at the Writing a Fantasy Novel Amazon a-Store.

Great Forum for Fantasy Writers

Posted in Writing with tags , , on June 4, 2011 by Dawn Ross

Whether you have written or want to write a fantasy novel, it helps to have a group of people support you.  Who better to help than people who also want to write or have written a fantasy novel?  Such a group could help you with your writing techniques, give you ideas, provide constructive criticism to your work, or give you tips on how to get your work published.

I searched long and hard for such a group.  I was hoping to find a local writers group but the town I live in is small.  I could drive to the Kansas City area, but the only groups I found were for writers in general.  I really wanted a group that specialized in fantasy writing.

While I did not find such a specialized group, I did find a great forum online.  Check out  It has everything I wanted except the local connection.  There are a lot of great people there with a lot of knowledge who are more than happy to help.  If I get stuck on certain terminology, such as medieval weapons, there is someone to help.  If I need ideas on how to make my rules of magic, there are people there to share their ideas.  And if I need someone to read what I have written, there are people there who would love to share their opinion of my work.

The website doesn’t look all that fancy, but it is full of great people with lots of knowledge.  Who could ask for anything more?  So if you need help to write a fantasy novel or to get your fantasy novel published, check out

Slow Down on the Blogging – For Now?

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , on April 27, 2011 by Dawn Ross

I am working a full time job, working on my retail websites part time.  And I blog on three blogs every three days or so.  Finding content for three blogs is very difficult, to say the least.  And if I find the content, finding the time to write the content in an informative way is even more difficult.

So what am I going to do?  Well, thankfully I have a loving husband who thinks I should quit the full time job.  Because money would be tight, I haven’t taken him up on this offer – yet.  But I am tired.  We are trying to make a family but I am too stressed.  Something’s got to give and I would rather have it be the full time job.  I love the retail websites and I love to blog.

But still, I am not ready to quit just yet.  So what do I do in the meantime?  I hate to say it, but I think I am going to slow down a bit on the blogging.  I have been trying to post here every three days or so, but I think I am going to make it once a week now.  But I am going to make those posts worthwhile.  If it is not a short story, then it will be an informative post about fantasy writing or getting published.  Check out this blog on the weekend for a new post.  I will try to have a new post up as early on Saturday as possible.  When I quit that full time job, I will be back to posting something new every few days.

Thanks for visiting!