Wyrdwend

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

MIRACLE OF THE TINY TIDBIT

MIRACLE OF THE TINY TIDBIT

Got up this morning and wrote a rather nice little children’s Christmas story about something my daughter said to me last night about not having enough wrapping paper to wrap all of the Christmas presents. That all she had left to wrap with were “tidbits.” I kind of took her anxious kiddie complaint, turned it around, used the real definitions of the term, and made something different out of it. Because it was far too good an idea to waste.

I’m calling it the, “Miracle of the Tiny Tidbit.”

I like it when my kids give me story ideas.

Now I get to spend the rest of the day working at things I like to do, as well as training and lifting weights before the Christmas holidays. So, a good time all around.

Plus it is sunny and pleasant in my neck of the woods (a little cool but very nice) and looks like a forecast for a very nice Christmas eve and Christmas day.

Meaning I get to break out all the good presents with my kids and my nephews come Christmas day. Be a kid myself.

Plus, next week, I’m going to see Rogue One with my daughter and her boyfriend before she goes back to college. So, looking forward to that as well.

Well, best get to work and to working out.

Have a great day folks.

Advertisements

A COUPLE OF NEW THINGS

I’ve started a new literary short story entitled, The Long Lonely Estate of Daniel J. Despair, and a new children’s book called, Tea and Ticklebiscuits.

BOGEY ON YOUR SIX

My very first remembered dream, from when I was a young child was of a giant, bright-red, fire-breathing dragon raging from the sky down upon my grandfather’s house (my paternal father’s father) and burning and razing his house to the ground. At the time we lived underneath my grandfather’s house. I was very, very young at the time, barely past being a babe and probably still in diapers (though I was walking) and I do not at that time recall ever even having heard tale of a dragon. Yet I have recalled that dream for my entire life. The dragon both terrified me (at first) and infuriated me (after I saw what it had done). Though in the dream I was very young and had no way to combat it.

 

FAIRY TALES, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.

“Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.”

~G.K. Chesterton: “The Red Angel.”
http://bit.ly/1d5pVS2

GKCDAILY.BLOGSPOT.COM

CROSSING OVER – HIGHMOOT

CROSS OVER WORK

Lately I have been doing a lot of what I call Cross-Over Work.

In this case I mean by saying that I have been doing a lot of work that cross-fertilizes itself in other works I am simultaneously creating. For instance I might be writing one novel and a particular scene or bit of dialogue I create will inspire another scene or piece of dialogue in another book or novel I am working on.

Though such things are not necessarily related to or limited to my various fiction writings. I might be drawing a map or making a sketch, designing something, working on a start-up project, developing an invention, writing a poem or song lyrics, or writing a novel or a non-fiction book and all of these things, or others, might give me an idea for another work I’m currently pursuing.

So today, and below (and in allusion to my previous post on actors), I am posting some of my latest Cross-Over Work. Little vignettes, or to be more accurate, often just little snippets (bits of dialogue, sections of scenes, sketch notes, etc.) of various Works I am creating and pursuing at this time.

Does your Work cross over in this way, from one work to another?

If so then feel free to comment below.

___________________________________________

 

NOT A FAIR FIGHT

“Again I don’t get it. Take one shot at your actual target and three at yourself… don’t seem like much of a fair fight to me.”

From my Western The Lettered Men

 

A CLUE

“Not every possibility is true, that’s certainly true, but every possibility is always a clue – to something other than itself. If you keep forgetting that then it’s very possible the Truth will entirely escape you. And if it does then what other possibilities really matter?”

From The Detective Steinthal

 

TRUE DARKNESS

“True darkness obscures. Few things can thrive in perpetual shade but those things that can definitely always wish to remain hidden. That is, until they are ready to be discovered. For reasons of their own.”

From The Detective Steinthal

 

ALWAYS BEST

“It is always best to hunt in silence.”

The Detective Steinthal

 

YOUR TRAINING IS OVER

“What are you training for kid? To train forever? Now who wants that kinda shit anyway? Only officers and politicians, that’s who. No, you get your ass in the fight. You’ve trained long enough. Time to be somebody.”

From Snyder’s Spiders

 

IT BLEEDS

“And how now is your wound?”

“It itches fiercely, it hurts mightily, it swells darkly, but it bleeds freely and cleanly. It is good that it bleeds so and thus I will not complain of the other things. But if you have any more of that strange brew you drink then I will not complain of a skin full of that either.”

“I have not a skin, but I can manage a cup.”

“Then so can I…”

Suegenius describing to Fhe Fhissegrim the condition of his wound

From my fantasy The Kithariune (The Basilegate)

 

A RARE AND WONDROUS FEAT

“If you cannot stand up to your own old man then you will never stand up to anyone. If you can stand up to your own old man then you can stand up to anyone else, and everyone else.

If your old man ever forces you to rebel against him then do not hate him for it, respect him for it. He has done more for you in that regard, as regards the development of your actual manhood, than any other thing anyone else could ever do for you in the world. That man who forces his son into rebellion has bred a man. You owe such a father an enormous and generous debt.

That father who always insists his son obey him, right or wrong, has bred a mere and helpless and fearful slave. You owe that father your utter disdain and yourself nothing but shame for your own endless submission.

Drink to your father Edomios. Drink long and deep. He has bred a man in you. A man who can stand upright and unafraid. A rare and wondrous feat in our age.

Maybe in any age.”

Marsippius Nicea the Byzantine Commander of the Basilegate explaining to Edomios the Spanish Paladin why he owes his father a debt of manhood

From The Kithariune

 

THAT WAY YOU SPEAK

When Michael first lands in Thaumaturgis he is met by Harmonius Hippostatic
who makes fun of the way he speaks and tries to explain to Michael where he is, and what life is like in the Lands. Michael does not at first speak in verse, but speaks in prose, but as he stays longer and longer in the land of Thaumaturgis he also comes to speak in metered, rhyming verse.

Harmonius: That way you speak, it’s quite a feat
But it will never do,
No meter, rhyme or rhythm,
It’s really quite obtuse.

Michael: Where am I?

Harmonius: Why this is Thaumaturgis,
Don’t you know your lands?
It’s one of the three countries,
Not earth, not stone, not sand.
No one’s ever figured
How it got this way
Tomorrow is the same as now
It’s always been that way.
If want you life miraculous
Or supernatural,
It’s really quite so marvelous
And never, ever dull.
But one thing in this country
You really must avoid
Speaking words in plain old prose
Is what will most annoy,
So put on your best rhyming
Your metered rhythm too
Don’t dally up a worthwhile speech
Without so much ado,
Be mannered in your speaking
Poetic when you talk
Or everyone will soon declare
Your words taste just like chalk

From my children’s book, Three Lands

THE SNUGGLE MONSTER

This is my post for Tuesday’s Tale. It is part of a series of picture books I have written or am writing, such as the Cuddle Monster and the Tickle Monster aimed at young children who have had to endure some horrific trauma, such as war, violent crime, terrorism, death of parents, orphaning, or some disastrous and difficult medical situation.

The books will of course have a wider application as well, but that is my primary purpose in writing these books, and the primary audience for which they were created.

This one is called The Snuggle Monster and my Great Dane Sam gave me the idea for it. It is not the entire book, but an extract.

THE SNUGGLE MONSTER

Once upon a time there was a Snuggle Monster.
He was made of dreams, and hopes, and wishes and a thousand other things that last forever.
Sometimes he was brightly colored and shone in all the colors of the rainbow. Sometimes he was the color of pure gold, or brightest silver, like the moon when it is full and pure and the night sky is bright blue like a sea of polished sapphire.
Sometimes he was of colors no one has ever seen before, except those who needed him most.
Sometimes he was invisible to all except to those he visited when no one else was around.
Once upon a time there was a Snuggle Monster, and he was very, very old.
He was as old as time and creation itself, but he never aged, and never outgrew the children who called upon him when they needed him most.
For he was giant indeed, and big as the far away mountains, and often even bigger, but he was also small and quiet, as small and quiet as a tiny and silent mouse that fits within your pocket to travel with you wherever you go…

 

 

WRITING FOR E-KIDS

As someone who writes books for kids, and enjoys writing books for kids, I both enjoyed this article and found it quite useful.

How to Create Picture Ebooks for Kids

Picture ebooks

Today’s guest post is by Laura Backes of Children’s Book Insider and Picture eBook Mastery.


Until recently, creating ebook versions of children’s picture books was something publishers reserved for their best-selling authors and illustrators. If you wanted to self-publish a picture ebook, you either needed to be a whiz at writing code, or you paid an ebook creation service to do it for you. (That said, it was possible to find a few services targeted toward publishing books for kids on Apple devices, such as Book Creator.)

Last September, Amazon released KDP Kids’ Book Creator, which allows the average Joe to create illustrated children’s books for the Kindle and upload them directly to Amazon. These books can be designed in the landscape format (to mimic the layout of print picture books) and can include text pop-ups that enlarge the text with a tap or a click, making it easier to read.

Side note: Using the KDP Kids’ Book Creator means you’re publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. You can choose from several royalty structures within that program, and also choose whether or not to be included in KDP Select, which gives Amazon exclusive distribution of your ebook for a certain time period in exchange for marketing perks.

While the KDP Kids’ Book Creator still has a few rough spots (which Amazon is presumably ironing out in response to user feedback), it’s a good start. Those of us who have worked in children’s publishing for years recognized this move for what it was: a game changer.

Just how much has Amazon’s new free software changed the game?

With the release of the Kid’s Book Creator, as well as the Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition tablet, Amazon is investing in illustrated ebooks. And they need content.

So now comes the big question. Are you ready to ride this wave?

Not every self-published picture ebook will make it. Many will slip into oblivion as soon as they’re released.

Does Your Book Have a Fighting Chance?

Here are some positive signs.

You have a book that appeals to a niche market. Often publishers reject a manuscript simply because there isn’t a big enough audience to justify their expense to bring it to fruition. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the book shouldn’t exist. You’ll just have to make an effort to directly reach the consumers searching for the specific topic in your book.

If your story features a child with certain food allergies and how he must navigate snack time in preschool, you can write guest posts for parenting blogs that focus on these issues, or even blogs about nutrition and cooking. Many mommy bloggers welcome guest posts about all aspects of child care, and you can mention your book in your bio.

You already have a good online following. Jessica Shyba’s popular blog Momma’s Gone City, featuring photographs of her toddler and puppy at naptime, prompted publisher Jean Feiwel to offer her a two-book deal. Naptime with Theo & Beau was published by Feiwel and Friends in February, with a huge social media campaign using the hashtag #theoandbeau.

Could Shyba have chosen to self-publish the book and do the same thing? Sure. These days, authors and illustrators reach readers directly via their blogs, Twitter feeds and YouTube channels. Even if your blog is attracting the kind of people who would buy your picture book, you still have a potential customer base.

You want to begin establishing yourself as a professional author or illustrator. Waiting for an agent or editor to say yes can take months or years of submissions. Getting two or three picture ebooks out now means you’re working on creating a name for yourself and building a platform. If you do these books well, and market them smartly, you can build a reputation that can lead to more opportunities and possibly traditional book deals.

You have taken the time to study your craft. The quality of your work will be compared to those authors and illustrators who appear on the bestseller lists, so it must stand up to the scrutiny. Take classes in picture book writing and design, attend workshops, join a critique group, hire a professional editor. You want, and need, for your book to garner five-star reviews on Amazon, and not just from your mother. 

Why Your Book Might Not Make It

Your book has been rejected 25 times and you’re tired of submitting. Self-publishing won’t fix the flaws in a manuscript that had received nothing but form rejections from editors. Nor will it camouflage an ill-conceived story or writing that doesn’t appeal to the intended audience. You first need to figure out why the manuscript was rejected, and fix the problem.

You don’t have a solid marketing strategy. Complain all you want, but there is no way around it—if you want to sell books, you’ve got to market. And this goes for authors who are traditionally published as well. Don’t expect to post a link to your book on all your friends’ Facebook pages and call it a day.

You lack quality illustrations. This is crucial if you want your picture ebook to attract an audience. Remember that your first sales tool is your cover, and your second sales tool will be the first two pages of your book if you have Amazon’s Look Inside feature. If your illustrations look amateurish, the overall impression you’re giving potential customers is that this is not a professional product.

If you’re not an illustrator yourself, get the best illustrations you can afford. Start by checking the rates of some experienced illustrators. You can search the Illustrator Gallery of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, or find freelance illustrators at sites like elance.com.

If you decide to design your own illustrations, it’s wise to take a graphic design class so you learn the basics of font choices, image placement, and how things fit together best on a small screen. And speaking of the smaller screen, remember that the images should be clear and without too many tiny details so they can be easily viewed on a Kindle or iPad.

At the very least, the biggest hurdle toward successfully self-publishing picture ebooks doesn’t need to be the technology. Trust me, the KDP Kids’ Book Creator software is easy to use. Hundreds of authors and illustrators have already taken advantage of this opportunity, and are selling their books on Amazon—and they’re not all young upstarts who could use an app before they were potty trained!

The following two tabs change content below.

Laura Backes

For 25 years, Laura Backes has published Children’s Book Insider, The Children’s Writing Monthly. She is the co-creator of Picture eBook Mastery, an online course on how to use the KDP Kids’ Book Creator software to produce, upload and market picture ebooks on Amazon. To get her free, four-part mini video course, “Yes, You Can Publish a Kindle Picture eBook!” go to www.pictureebookmastery.com/yesyoucan. Laura can be reached through writeforkids.org.

BECKER AND BASE – TWO OF THE BEST ARTISTS I’VE EVER SEEN

I write Children’s books. I do not have the time to illustrate them right now, so I’d love to find an excellent illustrator, but that aside, I write children’s books. So almost every time I go to the library I check out at least two children’s books (picture books I mean, I also read Middle Grade and Young Adult books but that’s another post) to read and study.

Last time I went I got books by Aaron Becker and Graeme Base. Becker’s book, called Journey, was flat out illustration, the entire story was told just in pictures. The book by Base, entitled Animalia, (another favorite of mine by Base is the Waterhole) was both scripted and illustrated, and the artwork must have taken a very long time indeed to perfect. But it is that, nearly perfect. Of the two I preferred Animalia, because of the artwork, but the story in Journey was superior and reminded me of the video game Ico, which was also gorgeous, and had a superb story.

I highly recommend both books.

These are the caliber of artists I want illustrating my children’s books.

 

Have a great day folks.

NIBBLES AND NUBBLES – A Children’s Book

This is a section of a Children’s Book I am writing (in verse) called Nibbles and Nubbles. I am still not quite finished with it, but I am close.

“You’re gonna get fed boy I promise you that
You’re gonna get fed and you’re gonna grow fat,
You will not go hungry or do without much
Your breakfast will simmer and steam like your lunch,
Your dinner will mountain all piled on your plate
Your drinks will all sparkle and never be late,
Snacks by the cartful will park at your door
Sweet candies and ice-cakes will litter your floor,
So don’t worry now son, just nibble away
You’ve way too much eating to do in one day,
And when your new friend comes to say his hello
I’ll feed him leftovers and then he will know,
That I am the baker and master of chefs
For my food is better than feasting itself…”

Nibbells and Nubbles

SNOBBLE GOBBLES

Yesterday evening, after all of the Thanksgiving festivities I wrote a new children’s book. A Picture Book or possibly an Early Reader or Hi-Lo book.

Here are some of the sections:

SNOBBLE GOBBLES

”There once was a Snobble
Who lived in the woods
He gobbled and gobbled
All that he could,

His friend was a Smarty
Who was covered in warts
Smarty the Warty
Though he was a young Hort…

Now the Snobble who gobbled
And lived in the woods
Came from Far-Elsewhere
And did as he would,

His friend the Hort Smarty
Came from Near-By
But everyone swore
He had dropped from the sky

Together they rambled,
Together they roamed
Playing, exploring,
So far from their home,

Then one day they noticed
A cave in a hill, and
Decided to enter
Most curious-filled…”

GRIMLY GRIMM

Indeed. The original Tales (and I’ve read several of them) are powerful and horrific, more like the uncensored stories of Baba Yaga. The revised tales are mostly impotent and simple-minded by comparison.

Grimm brothers’ fairytales have blood and horror restored in new translation

‘It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the tales for children,’ says editor of uncut edition
Grimm

Not for kids … an illustration from the new edition of Grimms’ fairytales. Illustration: © Andrea Dezsö

Alison Flood

Wednesday 12 November 2014 06.09 EST

    

Rapunzel is impregnated by her prince, the evil queen in Snow White is the princess’s biological mother, plotting to murder her own child, and a hungry mother in another story is so “unhinged and desperate” that she tells her daughters: “I’ve got to kill you so I can have something to eat.” Never before published in English, the first edition of the Brothers Grimms’ tales reveals an unsanitised version of the stories that have been told at bedtime for more than 200 years.

The Grimms – Jacob and Wilhelm – published their first take on the tales for which they would become known around the world in December 1812, a second volume following in 1815. They would go on to publish six more editions, polishing the stories, making them more child-friendly, adding in Christian references and removing mentions of fairies before releasing the seventh edition – the one best known today – in 1857.

Jack Zipes, professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, says he often wondered why the first edition of the tales had never been translated into English, and decided, eventually, to do it himself. “Though the Grimms kept about 100 of the tales from the first edition, they changed them a good deal. So, the versions with which most English-speaking (and German-speaking) readers are familiar are quite different from the tales in the first edition,” he told the Guardian.

His version of the original 156 stories is just out from Princeton University Press, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö, and shows a very different side to the well-known tales, as well as including some gruesome new additions.

How the Children Played at Slaughtering, for example, stays true to its title, seeing a group of children playing at being a butcher and a pig. It ends direly: a boy cuts the throat of his little brother, only to be stabbed in the heart by his enraged mother. Unfortunately, the stabbing meant she left her other child alone in the bath, where he drowned. Unable to be cheered up by the neighbours, she hangs herself; when her husband gets home, “he became so despondent that he died soon thereafter”. The Children of Famine is just as disturbing: a mother threatens to kill her daughters because there is nothing else to eat. They offer her slices of bread, but can’t stave off her hunger: “You’ve got to die or else we’ll waste away,” she tells them. Their solution: “We’ll lie down and sleep, and we won’t get up again until the Judgement Day arrives.” They do; “no one could wake them from it. Meanwhile, their mother departed, and nobody knows where she went.”

Rapunzel, meanwhile, gives herself away to her captor when – after having a “merry time” in the tower with her prince – she asks: “Tell me, Mother Gothel, why are my clothes becoming too tight? They don’t fit me any more.” And the stepmothers of Snow White and Hansel and Gretel were, originally, their mothers, Zipes believing that the Grimms made the change in later editions because they “held motherhood sacred”. So it is Snow White’s own mother who orders the huntsman to “stab her to death and bring me back her lungs and liver as proof of your deed. After that I’ll cook them with salt and eat them”, and Hansel and Gretel’s biological mother who abandons them in the forest.

Zipes speculates that the Grimms’ changes were “reflecting sociologically a condition that existed during their lifetime – jealousy between a young stepmother and stepdaughter”, because “many women died from childbirth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and there were numerous instances in which the father remarried a young woman, perhaps close in age to the father’s eldest daughter”.

Cinderella’s stepsisters go to extraordinary attempts to win the prince in the original Grimms version of the tale, slicing off parts of their feet to fit the golden slipper – to no avail, in the end, because the prince spots the blood spilling out of the shoe. “Here’s a knife,” their mother urges, in Zipes’ translation. “If the slipper is still too tight for you, then cut off a piece of your foot. It will hurt a bit. But what does that matter?”
Grimm Not such innocent fun … an illustration from the new translation of How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. Illustration: © Andrea Dezsö/PR

Zipes describes the changes made as “immense”, with around 40 or 50 tales in the first edition deleted or drastically changed by the time the seventh edition was published. “The original edition was not published for children or general readers. Nor were these tales told primarily for children. It was only after the Grimms published two editions primarily for adults that they changed their attitude and decided to produce a shorter edition for middle-class families. This led to Wilhelm’s editing and censoring many of the tales,” he told the Guardian.
Advertisement

Wilhelm Grimm, said Zipes, “deleted all tales that might offend a middle-class religious sensitivity”, such as How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. He also “added many Christian expressions and proverbs”, continued Zipes, stylistically embellished the tales, and eliminated fairies from the stories because of their association with French fairy tales. “Remember, this is the period when the French occupied Germany during the Napoleonic wars,” said Zipes. “So, in Briar Rose, better known as Sleeping Beauty, the fairies are changed into wise women. Also, a crab announces to the queen that she will become pregnant, not a frog.”

The original stories, according to the academic, are closer to the oral tradition, as well as being “more brusque, dynamic, and scintillating”. In his introduction to The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, in which Marina Warner says he has “redrawn the map we thought we knew”, and made the Grimms’ tales “wonderfully strange again”, Zipes writes that the originals “retain the pungent and naive flavour of the oral tradition”, and that they are “stunning narratives precisely because they are so blunt and unpretentious”, with the Grimms yet to add their “sentimental Christianity and puritanical ideology”.

But they are still, he believes, suitable bedtime stories. “It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the Grimms’ tales for children,” Zipes told the Guardian. The Grimms, he added, “believed that these tales emanated naturally from the people, and the tales can be enjoyed by both adults and children. If there is anything offensive, readers can decide what to read for themselves. We do not need puritanical censors to tell us what is good or bad for us.”

THE CHILD IS THE FATHER OF THE MAN

Being both a writer and a man who homeschooled my own children I found this article fascinating, informative, and useful. Maybe you will too.

The education of a best-selling teenage author

November 10

 

When Christopher Paolini was 15 years old, he started writing a novel that eventually was titled “Eragon,” the first in a four-book series that became known as the “Inheritance Cycle.” He spent two years writing and then rewriting the story and a third year traveling around the country promoting the self-published book before an established author, Carl Hiaasen, read it and had it published by Alfred A. Knopf.  How did he manage to do all this and get an education too? In the following post, his mother, Talita Paolini, explains. Talita Paolini trained and worked as a Montessori preschool teacher. She and her husband, Kenneth, homeschooled their two children. Many parents asked Talita for advice, so she recorded the Paolini Method in a series of articles and books. You can read about it here. She currently resides with her husband and children in Paradise Valley, Montana. On her website, the 30-year-old Christopher Paaolini is quoted as saying:

“People often ask how I was able to write Eragon at the age of fifteen. Well, the credit has to go to my parents, and specifically my mom, who is a trained teacher. She started to educate my sister and me when we were very young, first with games and other fun projects and later with more formal lessons. Without her system of instruction, none of our professional success would have been possible. I was incredibly fortunate to have been educated with these methods, and I firmly believe that children everywhere can benefit from them.”

 

By Talita Paolini

When my son, Christopher, was born, I wondered who he was and who he would become. I had no inkling that he would someday be listed in the Guinness World Records as the youngest author of a bestselling book series. At that time, I just marveled at this little human who had joined our family and felt a sense of responsibility at the task before me: to introduce him to the world.

My husband, Kenneth, and I talked to Christopher, read books to him, and sang to him. We carried him in a backpack, so he could watch what we were doing. He expressed great interest in watching me make dinner, peering over my shoulder as I worked, and he loved observing the world on hikes, while perched high on Kenneth’s back. And when he could walk and talk, wow! He explored the world using all his senses and filled our ears with endless questions and commentary. Our daughter Angela was born not quite two years later, and she developed along the same path. She would become a writer as well.

I had been trained as a Montessori preschool teacher. Dr. Montessori’s philosophy emphasizes the cultivation of children’s innate desire to learn using specially prepared materials and freedom of movement, so it was natural for me to offer my children hands-on activities. Not having the resources to buy expensive classroom materials, I looked for ways to teach them using common household items. In addition, I observed my children closely and then found ways to help them learn through art, games, music, and activities of daily life. In town, we counted cars and trees. We talked about the seasons and where we lived on planet Earth. My children enjoyed doing art projects and playing games with the letters of the alphabet, tracing the letters in preparation for writing, and then pointed out those letters around the house and in town. Each week we visited the library and returned with an armful of books.

CONAN, BABA YAGA, AND TÔL KARUŢHA

Now that the days grow colder, the nights lengthen, and the Earth grays my creative impulses grow great indeed.

Not only have I recently done some superb research that should further enrich the plot to my High Fantasy novels (The Other World) considerably, but today while at the library I decided to do something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid (teenager actually) – I am going to write a Conan story. Based upon Robert E Howard’s Conan character.

When I was a teen every year, during the Autumn and Winter, I would read certain material, such as Conan stories and the horror stories of HP Lovecraft. Today while searching for my typical Autumn fare of Howard and Lovecraft stories (and long ago I had read them all, still I re-read them most every year for the atmosphere they evoke in my mind and imagination during these seasons) I said to myself, “Well, hell, you’ve read them all, why not just finally write one?”

Conan the Cimmerian

Not having a decent counterargument I told myself I would finally do just that. So all afternoon I have been devising a plot, a very good one in my opinion, for this story. I have it fairly well sketched out already in my imagination and I shall call it, The Vengeance of Tôl Karuţha. I have not yet decided however whether to write it as a straight forward Howard-type Conan story, or, whether to write it as if it were part of a Nordic prose saga. I may even write it as if it were a Skaldic poem recounting Conan’s encounter with Tôl Karuţha during his “War against the Ancient Dead” (the Cold-Ghost War). In that case I will call it Tôl Karuţha Edá.

This is told during a time period when Conan is in his early thirties and soon to be a tribal chieftain but before he ever becomes a king.

I am currently toying with all three versions of the tale, maybe even writing one prose version (of whatever kind) and one Skaldic version (for retelling at court).

In either case I will post the story here, to Wyrdwend, in its entirety when completed. Though I may have to serialize it in part depending upon how lengthy it becomes.

I shall also soon (within the next couple of weeks, or possibly earlier) start to serialize my Ancient of Days fantasy stories (similar in some ways to what might be called Swords and Sorcery fantasy tales, but more mythological in nature). These will be the tales that revolve around the character Solimar.

Also while at the library today I coincidentally (if you believe in that kind of thing) ran across several books on Fairy Tales and Folk Tales and Fables. Adjacent to a section I was browsing on history. One was a thick old book on Russian Fairy Tales (mostly weird and horrific ones) collected by Aleksander Afanasev. I got it immediately because it had several stories about Baba Yaga (or Babayaga if you prefer).

I have also been fascinated by Baba Yaga since I was a teen. For those who are unfamiliar with Baba Yaga she was an apparently ancient, cannibalistic witch, perhaps of Russian origin, perhaps of non-Russian or Slavic origins, who was possessed of weird powers, lived in an enchanted, mobile home (her home could magically move about if she wished), was terrifying in appearance and was greatly feared by the Russians and Russian children.

Back then I read stories of Baba Yaga (being first introduced to her by a set of obscure references in Gary Gygax’s Advanced D&D books) as I could find them. They fascinated me, though at first I couldn’t say why.

Only later, in my twenties, did I begin to realize that she was, in fact, one of the first modern-era references in Folk literature to what was obviously a serial killer. In this specific case primarily a cannibalistic pedophilic serial killer who liked to keep trophies from her victims and eat them after she had used them for whatever purposes pleased her best at the moment. As a matter of fact only after I began to hunt killers myself did I fully realize just how much of a true pre-cursor Baba Yaga was to many modern serial killers, or at least to the most depraved of modern serial killers. She was in fact a sort archetypal Folk Lore version profile of a typical highly-organized, trophy-keeping, cannibalistic serial killer. For that reason alone (although she was possessed of many other odd and unusual capabilities and traits) she has fascinated me ever since I read my first tale of her.

She would lure her victims, primarily children, to an isolated locale with which she was familiar and in which she could operate easily and without fear of being either discovered or interfered with, enchant or drug or incapacitate her victims, abduct them, and then use them as she pleased (usually involving some type of torture or imprisonment) until she murdered them and ate the corpses. Thereafter she would often keep trophies of her victims.

Those who wrote these tales would not have described her in those terms obviously (as a serial killer – though I seriously doubt that I am the first modern person to develop the theory that Baba Yaga was a serial killer) but in fact that was what she was. Or that is what these tales of her were describing at least. And I suspect that these tales were in fact nothing but a very early recounting of one or more individuals (probably female, but maybe a male disguising himself as female, or even possibly a team of killers – the Three Sisters) who were so crafty and so good at their murderous work that their killings seemed almost supernatural to those recounting their exploits. (And they were maliciously exploiting others.)

To tell you the truth I have myself long considered writing my own set of Baba Yaga stories aimed at youth (say between the ages of 8 and 14 to perhaps even 16 years old) which would contain a twist. Yes, Baba Yaga would still be a supernatural witch, she would have a male assistant or slave to help her lure, abduct, and try to kill and cannibalize her victims, yes her victims would still be exposed to horrific and bizarre events and dangers (some natural, some supernatural) but in each story the intended victims would either defeat her plans, thwart their own murders, rescue others, or escape to tell their tale.

The reason being that each tale will be a coded-story designed to train children against the typical lures and tactics employed by serial killers and other criminals who like to trick and abduct children (extortionists, hostage takers, those involved in the sex slave, child gang runners, warlords, etc.). At the end of each story I will review how the children escaped or avoided capture by the witch and what any child could do to successfully augment and practice their own personal security awareness and to increase their odds of survival and escape if they were to ever be abducted.

So yes, I will approach the tales as children’s folk and horror fiction tales but each tale will have encoded in it avoidance, escape, and evasion security and survival methods embedded within the plot.

After reading these new Russian folk tales I may then start writing my Baba Yaga stories.

For now though I will continue to work on my novel and short stories and preparing one of my non-fiction books for publication.

But I am very much looking forward to writing the things I just discussed in the post above. Starting tomorrow.

Good night folks.

MOMMY PILLOW AND THE SUGAR BISCUITS

It might surprise even those who have known me for a long time that in addition to writing tough-mined adult stories and novels I also enjoy writing children’s stories.

By that I mean not just Middle Grade and Juvenile and Young Adult books and stories (and I en joy writing those kinds of things as well) but all the way down to picture books and early picture books. My mother taught me to read very early on, about 5 or 6 (early for those days), and even as a baby she read me far more advanced and complex works that other kids hadn’t heard of at the time, like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesop’s Fables, and parts of the Arthurian Cycle. I never forgot how those early stories she read me had a profound effect upon my own thinking and outlook, even as a small kid, but only later did I come to understand how it had deeply affected my mental and neurological development.
I simply never developed (or desired to) the modern claptrap idea of “stages of learning” and “age appropriate vocabulary development” and all of that other modern educational bullshit far too many currently try to mindlessly foist upon our children.
Even in the very simplest things I write I have far more confidence and faith in the mind, the active imagination of the child (and even of the baby in the womb), and the ability to understand of the child than I do in any of this self-limiting theoretical crap that passes for modern educational “expertise.” That being said, here is a very simple children’s picture book I wrote this morning. It is meant to be read to newborns and children up to about the age of four or five. The story is unfinished as yet and when I do finish it I will seek a publisher.

 

MOMMY PILLOW AND THE SUGAR BISCUITS

Sarah had a pillow
Her favorite pillow too
Her mommy made it for her
Upon an ancient loom

She wove it out of sunshine
Moonbeams and small stars
Every time she slept on it
Her dreams would wander far

Many were the evenings
Her pillow seemed to dance
Every morning when she woke
The world just seemed entranced

Sarah’s favorite sleeping snack
Were sugar biscuits gold
Although she liked the silver ones
Glazed with honey bold

The blue ones topped with cinnamon
Made her often laugh
The green ones striped with fairy dust
She saved to eat for last

The brown ones sprinkled ginger
If she shook them as she ate
The golden sugar biscuits
Shone like jewels upon her plate

When Sarah with her pillow
Would go to sleep at night
Her tummy full of biscuits
Cooked in love and light…

Jarrad Saul

Travel and Lifestyle: Jarrad Style

Mephit James' Blog

From one GM to another.

Kristen Twardowski

A Writer's Workshop

The Public Domain Review

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

Art of Shaima Islam

Fantasy Art and Illustration

Fantastic Maps

Fantasy maps and mapmaking tutorials by Jonathan Roberts

Matthew Zapruder

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

Susie Day | children's author

books for kids about families, friendship, feelings and funny stuff

The Millions

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

The Public Medievalist

The Middle Ages in the Modern World

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

Clive Thompson

Journalist, author, musician

terribleminds: chuck wendig

Chuck Wendig: Freelance Penmonkey

Researchers in the world

Travel the world, meet researchers

The Last Word On Nothing

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

The Missouri Review

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

The Normal School: A Literary Magazine

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

The Ploughshares Blog

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

Eclipsed Words

Aspire to inspire others & the universe will take note

%d bloggers like this: