Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: University

Challen has a single university in Wistica, open to men and women from all walks of life. Although the Season Avatars don't attend, the university is the setting for a couple of scenes in different books. In Scattered Seasons, Gwen and Jenna first meet Kron at a lecture he presents on ancient civilizations. Ysabel, Kron, and Jenna attend a different public lecture during the opening of Fifth Season. Later in the same book, Ysabel has a key insight while touring the university's zoological collection.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: Time and Tradetown

This is the last full week of the 2017 A-Z Blogging Challenge. To celebrate, I'm putting Fifth Season on sale this week for $0.99.

As I've mentioned in earlier blog posts, Salth is obsessed with time and gains additional time-related magic in Seasons' Beginnings. This magic allows her to create the Chaos Season storms she sends against Challen. She can slow down time, speed it up to age someone to death, and summon things from the deep past. Her main weakness is that she focuses on the past, not the future.

 Tradetown is a town near the border of Challen and the Dead Land, or Selath. It gained its name long ago when Challens and Selathens met there to trade. Today, Tradetown still is home to many Selathens, including Ysabel's family. We see Tradetown first in Scattered Seasons and also in Chaos Season.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: A Slew of S's

There as so many "S" characters in the Season Avatars series that I can't do full descriptions for them. Here's a quick rundown of what makes the letter "S" so special:

Goddess of Spring: The Four Gods and Goddesses of Challen have no names other than the season They're associated with. Spring is normally pictured as a matronly woman with long blonde hair, and She looks after the people of Challen. Although She's considered "married" to Winter, Summer and Fall aren't Their children.

God of Summer: Little is known about this quiet God, pictured as a green-skinned youth thin enough to disappear into a tree. He controls all the plants in Challen through His Avatars. Homosexual, bisexual, or transgender men, as well as men who wish to remain single for other reasons, might declare themselves Summersmen.

Salth: A magician from Kron's original time. Rumor has it she was born in a king's harem and escaped it thanks to her gifts. Obsessed with magic and time, she is both neglectful of her son Sal-thaath yet his fierce protector if he's threatened.

Sal-thaath: Salth's son, created through magic and skilled in magic himself. He seeks Kron out for company in Seasons' Beginnings.

Selathens: Descendants of people who fled the Dead Land when Salth's power increased. Most of them have settled near the border, but some moved inland and assimilated into the general population of Challen. Those who remain separate have split into two groups: those who want little to do with magic and those who worship Salth. Ysabel's father belongs to the latter group. Perhaps due to lingering resentment toward Salth, Selathens generally hold women in lower esteem than men.

Sophia: The Fall Avatar from Margaret's quartet. When Margaret dies suddenly, the other two members of the quartet have no interest in holding the group together, leaving the inexperienced Sophia to pick up the leadership.

I'll be participating in the March for Science in Chicago this morning and attending C2E2 the rest of the weekend, so I won't have much time to visit other blogs until Monday. My report on C2E2 will be delayed until May as well.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: Reincarnation

Everyone reincarnates in Challen, but only the Season Avatars remember anything from their past lives.

Challens view the dead as resting in the God of Winter's domain until they're ready to be reborn. They refer to the dead as "absent" and believe that they will be reunited with their loved ones in a different life, though their relationships may change. For example, a parent and a child may switch roles in their next life.

For Season Avatars, reincarnation is different. They're reborn in different parts of Challen and different classes so they know the needs of the entire country. They need to know as much as possible about what their magic affects, such as the human body, plants, animals, or the weather. Therefore, they remember what they learned in their previous lives. It doesn't all come back to them at once, but gradually, when they need it. (They always know they're meant to be Season Avatars, as if their birthdays and auras didn't give it away.) They may remember some personal details from previous lives, but not all of them. (This affects the story in Chaos Season.) It's also easier for them to remember recent lives instead of earlier ones. This is why they don't remember the Four as clearly as Kron does.

Here's the full list of Season Avatars, with their names in Season's Beginnings (their first life as Avatars) in parentheses next to the names they have in the rest of the series:

Group 1  (Future Avatars--They become official mid-series)
Gwendolyn lo Havil (Galia)—Spring
Jenna Dorshay t’Reve (Janno)—Summer
Ysabel s’Ivena Lathatilltin (Bella)—Fall
Kay Seltich (Caye)—Winter

Group 2 (Current Avatars in Scattered Seasons and Chaos Season)
Margaret gran Garnell (Magstrom)—Spring (deceased)
Charles vin Estcher (Carver)—Summer
Sophia vin Estcher  (Sylva)—Fall
Dorian gran Garnell (Domina)—Winter
Group 3 (Past Avatarsall deceased)
Tylon fi Vort (Tylan)—Spring
Frederick min Jole (Flilya)—Summer
Helene ava Hartfut (Hala)—Fall
Olivia ava Kalt (Ocul)—Winter

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Season Avatars #AtoZChallenge: Quartets

Season Avatars, like the Four Gods and Goddesses, work in groups of four. Each group consists of one Spring Avatar, a Summer Avatar, a Fall Avatar (who's always female--the other three Avatars can be either gender), and a Winter Avatar. Each quartet of Avatars who belong together are always born in the same year. In Challen, the year starts on the spring solstice, so the Spring Avatar is the oldest (and by default, the leader, especially since the Spring Avatar can magically link the rest of the quartet), and the Winter Avatar the youngest. There are three quartets of Season Avatars, each in a different generation. One quartet will be born, grow up, and come together at the One Oak. Once they've proved themselves to the older generation of Season Avatars, the older quartet retires, and the new group serves for about thirty to forty years until the third quartet is born and comes of age. In theory, the transition between groups happens without fuss, but in practice, Season Avatars aren't always ready to step down. This theme occurs throughout the second, third, and fourth books in the series (the first book occurs before this system is established.) How do we know there are only three sets of Season Avatars? Because they reincarnate, which I'll discuss tomorrow for the letter R.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Season Avatars #AtoZChallenge: Pouncer

I mentioned anilinks in my first Season Avatars A-Z post. Pouncer, a black-and-white cat about a year old, is Ysabel's anilink. Anilinks have the ability to sense when Chaos Season occurs anywhere in Challen. They have a telepathic link to their Fall Avatar, so she always knows when her anilink senses Chaos Season. Anilinks may also run errands for their Avatar. Pouncer does all of this and more. He understands human language very well for an animal. He's a cheerful, friendly cat, but he's very defensive of his Avatar. Although Ysabel is his primary human, Pouncer also forms a surprising bond with Gwen. Learn more about Pouncer's secret in Fifth Season. (Yes, that's him on the cover in Ysabel's arms.) The story of how Ysabel and Pouncer meet and how he earns his name will be part of a future short story collection called Young Seasons. (The stories are all drafted, but I have to finish editing them. It should be out by the end of the year.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Season Avatars #AtoZChallenge: One Oak

The One Oak is the Season Avatars' estate near the middle of Challen, on the bank of the Chikasi River. The house is over three hundred years old, as it was built soon after the Fip Annexation of Challen. The house and property are held in trust for each new generation of Season Avatars.

The house is built around a central atrium where the Summer Avatar grows plants. (There's also a greenhouse elsewhere on the estate for plants that require more sunlight and warmth.) Each side of the house is a wing named after one of the seasons. There are public rooms such as parlors, studies, and a portrait gallery on the first floor, bedrooms for the Avatars and their families on the second, and servants' quarters and an attic on the third. Gardens and a small oak forest surround the house.

If the One Oak is in the middle of an oak forest, why is the house referred to as the One Oak? Just as the Fall Avatar bonds with a special animal to enhance her magic, each Summer Avatar grows a tree from an acorn and bonds with it. The tree helps extend the range in which the Summer Avatar can use his or her magic. When Chaos Season occurs, the Season Avatars rush out to the Summer Avatar's tree to use its magic. (Season Avatars tend to spend most of their time on the estate to remain close to the Summer Avatar's tree. Sometimes when they do have to travel, the Summer Avatar will bring a sapling along to help him/her tame Chaos Season.) Each tree is in use for only a few decades, but they continue to thrive long after their Summer Avatars die and are reincarnated.

Because the One Oak is the Season Avatars' primary residence, it appears in Scattered Seasons, Chaos Season, and Fifth Season. To learn more about the link between Summer Avatars and their trees, read Chaos Season.

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