"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes." ~Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn

"The characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst." ~Publishers Weekly review of High Maga

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Legends in the Making (or Why Every Fantasy Writer Needs a Good Forest)

Today I visited the fourth and final reflection plot, and area that was clear cut some years ago.  I'm going to let my thoughts on that experience simmer for a little while, and will come back to write about this final reflection plot tomorrow. 

Instead, I want to take a brief break from my essays and share with you some more of the great images my husband has caught with his ever-reliable digital camera -- just a few examples of the infinite opportunities a mature forest offers for the playful imagination.  Most of these photos come from hikes along the old growth trails of Andrews Forest.

Fans of Tolkien will be familiar with the Ents of Middle Earth.  As you might be glad to know, Ents are still alive and well in the oak forests of Talamanca in Costa Rica -- I have a few photos of them from my time there (although to the untrained eye they are almost indistinguishable from mature oaks).  I've been very pleased these past few days to find signs of remnant populations in the mountains of Oregon as well.  We did not come across any breeding adults (they may be hard to distinguish from the older firs), but we did spot this fledgling wrapped in warm moss just to my husband's left:

And this adolescent a little further down the same trail.  Perhaps they are siblings?

Old growth forests are, of course, full of wonderful ingredients for magic spells and potions, like this rust-colored morel, which is almost certainly essential for some dark and powerful spell as yet unknown to me:

Note the abundant lichens littering the forest floor around the mushroom, which are likely collected and used for similar purposes.  And of course, what witch's brew is complete without a plump little newt:

Though of course, I could NEVER toss this little guy into a boiling pot of water.  He's way too cute to suffer such a terrible fate. 

Here's a rather strange formation from an exposed root of a tree.  I'll let you decide what it could be, what it might mean, and how you'd like to use it in your next story.  (And if you'd like to share your ideas, please post in the comments below!)

Finally, when we weren't comuning with young and spritely Ents, we were talking to gnomes, which like the Douglas-firs grow to be quite large and old in this forest.  Here's one we managed to catch on film, standing just to the right of the trail:

That's it for today.  My stay at Andrews Forest is almost finished now.  One more full day tomorrow, and then we'll head to the coast for a night before returning to Portland and then to Kansas City.  I'd say tomorrow will be my last installment related to my residency here, but I'm not quite sure about that -- I have a feeling I'll be reflecting on my stay at Andrews for some time to come. 

I moved forward a bit more on my short story for Briana today.  I think it's going to be a nice one, and may post some excerpts here in the coming week or so. 

Next weekend is ConQuest in Kansas City!  I'll be participating in several panels as well as a Hadley Rille Authors Panel and a Book Signing Party on Saturday.  For details about my schedule at ConQuest, as well as other upcoming events, please visit my author's page on Amazon.