Monday, November 28, 2011

Mythological Mondays

Bonnie at A Backwards Story is hosting Mythological Mondays.  Instead of a book review, I'm doing a FAQ list.

Regarding Helen of Troy, did you know:  

1) The ancient Greeks never called her “Helen of Troy.”  She was commonly called “Helen of Argos.”  Since argos was their word for gold, this probably meant “Helen the golden.”  Presumably she had light hair and golden skin. 

2) The Greeks piled up story after story onto the original account.  One scholar said if you added up all these stories, Helen would have been sixty-five by the time she arrives at Troy. 

3) The oldest accounts of Helen are in The Iliad and The Odyssey.  At the very end of The Odyssey, Homer reveals that Helen was tricked into boarding the ship headed for Troy.  In other words, the oldest account has Helen going to Troy against her will, instead of pursuing young love. 

4) Helen and her husband Menelaus (in Greece) had a daughter, Hermione.  Yes, Harry Potter fans, that’s where the name comes from.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Athena and Perseus Flying

Instead of the current novel I'm working on, here's an excerpt from one of my Athena stories.  

           They flew along the southern coast of the mainland, the morning air still cool.  Perseus’ weight was no bother for Athena, but he was still so amazed at soaring between earth and sky that he kept moving around, trying to find different views. 
            “Keep still.  I’m not a couch.”  She tried to sound authoritative, but the words came out annoyed as she spoke against the wind.  “It’s bad enough how the air flows because of you—and the flow past your head differs from the drag against your legs.  I have to keep adjusting when you squirm like a baby.” 
            “I don’t enjoy being coddled.”  Perseus’ voice came out low and firm—no fear of falling into the sea below them at all.  “No disrespect, great Athena, but is there some other way I can be carried?” 
            The other way would be on her back.  Somehow, the idea of him on top of her made Athena uncomfortable.  “You’ve squirmed enough!  I’ll have to change how I carry you.” 
            She tossed him upward, just a hand’s span.  She managed to catch him in a way that was more comfortable for carrying. 
            Perseus’ eyes were as wide as robin eggs.  Then he clenched his jaw muscles to control himself, though she had just treated him like a sack of wheat carried to a threshing floor.  But in this case, the threshing floor was the blue water below.  He sounded unimpressed.  “I have had worse tosses by horses.” 
            “Any horse do this?”  Athena threw him completely out of her arms.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Jill, on her Breakingthe Spine blog, hosts her weekly “Waiting On” Wednesday, where bloggers are invited to post what book they’re waiting to be released, and why. 

Mine is The Taken by Vicki Pettersson.  It’s apparently a noir paranormal detective novel. 

I don’t know much about it yet, but that subgenre appeals to me.  And Vicki has been very helpful, giving me advice at the Surrey Writers’ Conference in Surrey, British Columbia two years in a row.  She’s a New York Times bestselling author, and she took the time to give me good advice.  Thank you Vicki, and I’m looking forward to reading this.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

War of the Worlds Reimagined

In a previous post, I said I had to decide between doing a contemporary mermaid story or a reimagining of The War of the Worlds.  This very early draft should show you which I chose.  

Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded this Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.  As men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
“Dah!  You would have to mention microscopic bugs.”  Violet splayed her elbows and rested her head back on her hands.  This side of the roof kept them away from prying eyes, so she took full advantage, wearing only her sleeveless chemise and a mini-petticoat as she moonbathed.  Already, her arms and legs looked visibly whiter.  “Fire and destruction I can handle, but microbes?  Ech!” 

The night’s moonbathing session held no urgency for Ashley, so she kept her husband’s smoking jacket on over her own chemise and full-length petticoat.  The jacket was bulky, but certainly easier to climb up from the deck in than if she were confined in the flounces and stays of a proper dress.  “Don’t you want to put something on?” 

Her friend threw Ashley a smirk.  “Perhaps I’ll lay out on the other side of the roof and cry, ‘Hey-ho for a husband.’” 

“Violet, you shock me.”  Ashley pointed the quill at her in a play at reproval, but felt her rear end shift on the tile as she did so.  She planted her feet more firmly on the roof to scoot herself back, but made the fatal error of gripping the round glass inkwell and flipping the brass lid shut as a precaution – she wouldn’t forgive herself an accidental spill.  But that distraction made her misjudge the friction of her bare soles against the shingles.  Her feet shot out, and she went sliding down the roof. 

Falling to the deck from here would be unpleasant.  If she didn’t have the smoking jacket on, it wouldn’t be encumbering her wings.  Even now, they struggled to unfurl through the dual slits in the back of her chemise, but could not expand.  And yet, she could have done no other.  Even on this unobserved side of the roof, she couldn’t dress in as bare a fashion as Violet.  Ashley was a married woman, and the respectability that entailed mandated a non-negotiable level of modesty, and practical reality was expected to bend itself to accommodate this.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

No Record

Since I'm going to occasionally teach the Jr./Sr. High Sunday school at my church, I had to get a background check.

As you can see, it shows I have no record.  

Anyone who will work with minors at the church has to get a background check.  Kind of a different world we're living in.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Next Project

For my next writing project, I’m torn between two choices: 

I could write an urban fantasy story that revolves around a guy in an office being harassed by a mermaid.  This would be the sort of mermaid who looks like a normal human being, unless she’s immersed in water.  As aspiring writers should know, having just one good idea is not enough to make a novel-length story.  At least two strong ideas should collide with each other.  So I have the concept of a slightly alternate society in which it’s no big deal to have a mermaid working in the office, and I combine that with the idea of a nice guy being sexually harassed by her and having little recourse, since he’s a white male in a society afflicted by political correctness.   

Editors and agents say they want to see urban fantasies that don’t have vampires or werewolves.  And sexual harassment is a perennial subject, and it’s interesting for a man to be harassed, to comment on a political correctness that many now acknowledge has run amuck. 

The other choice is to write a mashup of The War of the Worlds.  The art of the mashup is to take some fantasy or horror concept and mash it into some beloved pre-copyright work.  The most famous example is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Most of the novel is still Jane Austen’s novel, with scenes of zombie attacks added.  The concept has expanded a little so that the older story doesn’t have to be an actual book.  And so we have the novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, with the movie version soon to be released. 

A mashup of The War of the Worlds has already been done, adding more horror elements.  I would go in the other direction, adding a lighthearted element I won’t reveal yet.  The advantage of writing a mashup is that with the coming movie, there may be a demand for more in this mixed-up genre. 

Of course, it’s not a good idea for an aspiring novelist to choose a genre or subgenre just because of what’s hot or may about to become hot.  It’s best to write what one really wants to write and hope that catches the public’s fancy.  I’ll announce my decision soon.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Google Me!

Now, before it goes away . . . .  

If you google the term "Issaquah Salmon Days" you will find my blog entry on that festival listed as their fourth entry.  The official Salmon Days website is listed below it, as the fifth entry.  

Either my blog is really popular, or Google is messed up.  

Of course, if you click on my entry in Google, that could make it even more popular.  But I don't want to be accused of manipulating Google.  Do I?  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Do a Barrel Roll

If you go to The Wall Street Journal's digit blog, you can install a bookmark that lets you "barrel roll" a website.  

The funniest effects are on sites that have an embedded video near the top, such as these entries on my blog:  

Rat City Rollergirls on the Viaduct  

Daniel Radcliffe Sings the Periodic Table  

Toughen Your Kids  

Yes, cheap thrills every week.  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bespelling Jane Austen

Not your grandmother’s Harlequin. 

Writers (or an aspiring writer like myself) are constantly advised to read outside our genres, to get a broader literary experience to help our writing.  I’ve tried to read Jane Austen’s works, but I tire after the first few pages, when some puzzling Lady Dunsbury appears, and it turns out to be Hilda’s sister-in-law from a couple pages before.  It’s just not worth the effort. 

But now I’m reading Bespelling Jane Austen, a collection of four novellas.  I’m going through them out of order, but I’ll tell you what, Colleen Gleason’s Northanger Castle is eminently readable, with sufficient period detail to give the feel of a leaner, meaner, Austen-ish kind of tale. 

Those of you Austen-philes can guess this story is about a young woman who reads trashy novels and tends to fantasize melodramatic backgrounds for the people around her.  At Bath, she picks out a man with dark eyes and fair skin.  “If he were indeed a vampire, she must take care not to look directly at him.  According to what she’d learned, the undead were known for being able to enthrall a mortal being with their eyes alone.” 

The twist with these reimaginings is such suspicions might be true.  This was well worth the price for Colleen Gleason’s story alone.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mountain Bike vs. Antelope

This happened in Australia.

I can imagine the antelope saying, "Oi!  This is for me cousin you ran over last week!"  

Or share your own caption.  


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