30 August 2008

The Mother Of Us All

Tonight I will become Mary Shelley. I will braid my hair over my ears like a proper Victorian lady, and don my long skirt and my blouse with the puffed sleeves. I will pin the cameo displaying the Death of Achilles above my heart, take up my fan…

And give those “Great Gentlemen” of the “Golden Age of Science Fiction” the thrashing of their lives.

Serve ‘em right, too. In the year since its introduction, the Dead Authors panel has become one of the highlights of Dragon*Con’s Science Fiction/Fantasy Literature Track. Writers and fan guests channel their favorite dead sf/fantasy authors for the amusement of the audience and any free drinks they can cadge in the process. (It is a late night panel, after all.)

And until I showed up, not one of them--not one man, not one woman--could think of a single woman author to add to the mix.

Well, Mary will set them straight. She was good at that. Far from being an appendage to her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, she’s the one who earned her living as a writer. Her husband didn’t. He didn’t have to. He was the grandson of a baronet. As the saying went, he had “prospects”, which translated into loans whenever his grandfather cut him off for agitating among the Irish, pamphleteering in support of atheism or rampant vegetarianism.

Mary Godwin Shelley came from a famously intellectual background. Her mother was the renowned and scandalous Mary Wollstonecraft, an early proponent of women’s rights and sexual emancipation. But the only legacy Mary W. granted her daughter and namesake was an ideal and a belief in free love. Mary read widely, in several languages, but she enjoyed little formal education. Nevertheless, she had no trouble keeping up with the intellectual high-fliers of Shelley’s circle.

She wrote Frankenstein, the first mad scientist novel and the first modern science fiction novel, when she was only twenty. It wasn’t a fluke. From her late teens until her death at fifty-three, she wrote and sold travelogues, novels, plays, short stories (often to spec) and biographies. Frankenstein wasn’t her only foray into SF, either. The Last Man, written in 1826, describes how a future in which the human race is destroyed by plague and war. Think Mad Max meets Beau Brummel.

Despite frequent bouts of depression, she was a feisty cuss. Politically, she was as radical as her husband and continued to fight for their ideals after his death. She was just sneakier about it. She put her politics in her novels and biographies. She fought her husband’s grandfather, the baronet, to the mat when the old tyrant tried to take only surviving child and starve her into submission.

She kept her son and her career. She had the last laugh on many levels, including creative ones. Modern science fiction relies not only on her plots but on their explicit critique of heroic individualism (Frankenstein) and imperialism (The Last Man). Not to mention the other “quaint notions” she championed--little things like universal suffrage, women’s rights and gay marriage.

It’s a legacy even Byron, the glorious snob, could envy. After all, when was the last time anybody made a movie of Childe Harolde?



###

29 August 2008

Who needs validation? We do!

Like many Americans, I’ve been watching the Olympics. Just the other day, I watched a swimming race that brought tears to my eyes. A swimmer was all alone on the television giving it everything he had. Determination was etched on his face and you could see the effort behind every stroke. No, it wasn’t Michael Phelps. It was Eric Shanteau, the Georgian swimmer who just flew back to Atlanta for cancer treatment. It wasn’t his story that made me cry, though. He hit that wall and spun to look at the timer. He was so thrilled with his time that he jumped up in the water with a cry of victory. Now, here’s the thing. He didn’t win a medal. He didn’t even make it into the finals. What he did do was beat his personal best time in the semi-finals of the Olympic Games.

It was his dream and the validation of years of training.

Now, let’s turn our eyes over to the Men’s Gymnastics team. They were counted out of the medals despite making it into the team finals. But instead of letting the burden of doubt get them down, they used it to fire them up. At each apparatus, it was all about the team. They were loud, supportive of each other, and had the attitude of them against the world, which wasn’t far from the truth. By the middle of the meet, silver was in sight. A mistake and a questionable judging score put it out of reach and they were in the bronze. It all came down to a flawless performance by a man on the hardest event – the pommel horse – to cinch the bronze medal.

I’ve never seen more people happy to take third. It was the validation of years of training and sacrifice.

So it made me start thinking about us. Writing isn’t a sport, but it is a skill that takes years to hone and perfect. Athletes pushing for that elite competitive level face the question of packing up and taking their trophies home a thousand times before they make it to the Olympics. But what about us? Unlike athletes, there aren’t a lot of junior competitions to get us ready for success, if we ever find it. There are no coaches to groom and train us.

No, we’re pretty much on our own. Or are we?

What do you use to validate the hours you spend on the manuscripts you pound out? Are you a Jon Horton, cheering on your friends despite being one of their greatest competition threats? Are you a Eric Shanteau, pushing to realize your dream while pushing back life-changing consequences?

What says you’ve made it? Is it that first request for a full? Is it a contest final? Or, better yet, win? Is it that personal rejection from that major New York house? Or are you going for gold and will not be validated until that first big contract offer?

As for me, I have a checklist of small things to large things. But I’m also lucky enough to have a team in my corner, too. I have friends who are there to celebrate the big scores as well as commiserate the near misses. We share our cookies and our triumphs and our short falls. And, each in our own way, find our personal validation along the way.

What about you? Tell us what validates your writing…or everything else in your life. *grins*

28 August 2008

Patricia's Dilemma

Have you ever watched the movie Sophie’s Choice? Do you remember how you felt when Sophie had to make that one horrendous decision when the guard tells her to choose which of her two children has to die?
That was a gut wrenching movie, one that I swore I’d never watch again. And one I hadn’t thought about in years until today, which brings me to my own dilemma, and sadly a choice.

Here’s the thing. The city has decreed we have too many cats. And I quite agree. I’ve been trying to find homes for the outdoor kittens for months now, but haven’t had any success. Now the city tells me that if I don’t find homes for them by the 1st of September, they will confiscate all my animals (the two dogs and three other cats) and euthanize them all.
There is no room at the shelter, it seems and all animals that come in get a 24 hour chance at adoption, and then they’re killed.

I am a Buddhist. I am not a great being, but simply an ignorant student who asks her lama way too many questions. Likewise, as a Buddhist, I take my spiritual contract very seriously. One of the precepts or rules for ethical behavior, states not to kill. I am going to have to do this. Although it will be by proxy, I am still handing over the kittens to the pound where they will die within 24 hours.

This is certainly not an acceptable situation, and my insides have been torn up by it. I can’t sleep. By 2 a.m. I find myself wandering through the house like a ghost. I can hardly eat. My meditation practice which I enjoy so much has ground to a halt. My productivity as a writer and as an artist has dwindled down to nothing. So I sit watching Bette Davis movies, alternating between raging against the neighbor who turned me in and deep sorrow that I have to do something that I find utterly sickening. Not quite Sophie’s heart wrenching choice, but an excruciating one anyway. At least to me.
I have gone to every rescue agency in my area begging and pleading for someone to take them. I have put ads in the papers, gone to online rescue agencies, talked to people both on line and in person. One or two people have actually come by but once they see that the kittens are black and a bit nervous because they’ve only been handled by my husband and myself, they change their minds and leave empty handed.
And now, while they’re playing and tumbling around in the yard, they have no idea that their lives are about to come to an end.

And here I sit, with my mind caught in an endless feedback loop. I cannot kill. I cannot turn the distasteful task over to someone else to keep me from having to turn them in. If I don’t I will forfeit my dogs and the other three cats as well as the kittens outside. I cannot find homes for them. All avenues are exhausted. I’m exhausted. I am suffering. I am causing suffering. I will cause even more suffering before the month is out.

It would be best, I suppose to get the task done and over with. To put them in the crate and take them to the pound now. But I cannot bring myself to do it. Not while there are still a few days left. I will continue to try to find homes for at least some if not for all of them. In the meantime the kittens are outside playing in the bright morning sunshine, oblivious to how short their lives are, how close death is, and how the person whom they love and look up to is about to snuff that life out.

I understand how these city ordinances have come about. Since animal hording is becoming a problem in this country. But we don’t hoard animals. We simply have some extra outside kitties who keep the mice population down. We would keep them if we could. But we cannot.
And the feedback loop continues.

The only comfort that comes from this situation is that as a Buddhist I also believe in impermanence. Everything is temporary. Nothing literally nothing, not even the universe will last forever. So after the first this too will end. It won’t end prettily and I’m sure I’ll have a few unkind words to say to a few people before the day is out. And afterwards, I know I will never be the same again. But it will be over. And I can see a story arising out of this situation. Like a phoenix.

26 August 2008

Going to DragonCon


I’m about to leave for my favorite summer camp for wayward adults: Dragon*Con. This year they’re working me to the bone, and I hate to suffer alone. So if you’d like to drop by to cheer, jeer or just say hello, this is where you’ll find me:

Saturday

Paranormal Romance vs. Urban Fantasy - The panel hopes to explore what distinguishes the two genres and whether it’s possible for writers to break genre barriers and still keep their core audiences. Panelists: Raven Hart, Rita Herron, Carol Malcolm (Moderator), J. Kessler, Jean Marie Ward. 2:30 p.m., Montreal/Vancouver Room (Hyatt)

Magic and Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy - Magic as religion? Or religion as magic? Is there such a thing? Can it be both? A. Davis, Glenda Finkelstein (Moderator), Katherine Kurtz, Jody Lynn Nye, Jean Marie Ward. 4 p.m. Fairlie Room (Hyatt)

Attack of the Dead Authors Society - You want to see what happens when I channel Mary Shelley? It ain’t gonna pretty--especially when they let me loose against a bunch of guys. I'm not kidding, despite Stephanie's presence on the panel, they're all coming as male authors. That is so wrong on so many levels. Come and see the carnage--I mean, fun. Joe Crowe, Larry Davis, Van Allen Plexico (Moderator), Stephanie Souders, Jean Marie Ward. 10 p.m. Fairlie Room (Hyatt)

Sunday

Other Worlds, Other Times - Romance is now exploiting the tropes of science fiction--space voyages, time travel, magical lands, etc. What are the key motifs for today’s romance writers? How do they use them differently than their SF/fantasy colleagues--especially when, under other names, they may be the same people? They’re letting me run this one, and for some reason, they expect me to be conscious the morning after the Cruxshadows' midnight concert. I believe the term "cock-eyed optimist" was coined for situations like these. Panelists: Sandra Hill, Susan Kearney, Susan Sizemore, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), C.L. Wilson. 10 a.m., Montreal/Vancouver Room (Hyatt)

Dark Secrets, Shadowed Hearts - Tortured anti-heroes or insufferable jerks? Why we lover (or hate) alpha males and “bad boys”. Panelists: Carole Nelson Douglas, Rita Herron, Donna Lynch, Carol Malcolm (Moderator), Jeanne C Stein, Jean Marie Ward. 1 p.m., Montreal/Vancouver Room (Hyatt)

Plumbing the Anima: On Fritz Leiber - Everything Fritz Leiber will be up for discussion. Since he’s the fantasy writer who inspired me to write fantasy, I’m looking forward to this. I’d look forward to it more if there were more of us on the panel, though. Panelists: T. Leonard, Jean Marie Ward. 2:30 p.m. Greenbriar Room (Hyatt)

Monday

Tales of Dragaera - This time around this discussion centers on Steven Brust. Expect the good, the bad, and lots of Eastern European food porn. Panelists: Van Allen Plexico, Jean Marie Ward. 11:30 a.m., Greenbriar Room (Hyatt)

What’s Next for Romance? - These days, it seems you can’t have a con without asking this question. Industry professionals talk about the current trends in the romance genre and where they expect the field to go next. Panelists: Althea Kontis, Carol Malcolm (Moderator), Deborah Smith, Jean Marie Ward. 2:30 p.m., Montreal/Vancouver Room (Hyatt)

See you there!

24 August 2008

Olympic Writing

Like many, I've spent the last two weeks watching the Olympics. For at least one of those weeks I stayed up late and watched the live stuff (if you're on the West Coast, you got lucky and the live events were around the dinner hour).

The most intriguing thing to me, besides the awesome display of raw athletic power (go Michael Phelps!) and interest in sports that I usually don't bother with (trap shooting, anyone?), was the location shots of Bejing. The city is so beautiful - The Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City. I've paid close attention to the places of Beijing, because the third Library of Athena book takes my girls to Ancient China. I've tried to get the descriptions just right, which is difficult, because how do convey in words the beauty of those intricate hand-painted insides of the temples? Or the way the dragons on the corners of the buildings double as gutters, so that rain water pours out of their mouths when it rains?

The mythology of China is rich and wonderful, but for me it's been a little difficult to work with. Many of the stories are short tales with a moral ending, almost like fables. I have books of them. There aren't many hero stories, although their Pantheon of gods is fairly extensive. There are also a lot of stories where the main characters aren't human. I love the tale of the Four Dragons, and the Giant Pearl, but they won't work in the way I've set up my series. It was really difficult for me to find myths or folktales that fit the pardigm of my first two books.

Which is why the third book has taken me two years to write. A first draft. But I'm almost there, and have plenty of notes for the re-write. I've also been inspired by watching the Olympics, which has really sparked something in me.

Someday I want to travel to China, and walk through the Forbidden City (isn't that the greatest name!) and feel the magic for myself.

Meanwhile, enjoy these reviews for the first two Library of Athena books: http://theromancestudio.com/reviews/reviews/crownzeusnorris.htm
http://goodbadandunread.com/2008/08/05/review-the-ankh-of-isis-by-christine-norris/
http://theromancestudio.com/reviews/reviews/ankhisisnorris.htm

22 August 2008

Ooops! I dropped the ball today.

Good evening everyone. Today was my day to blog...and it totally did not occur to me that it was already August 22nd. I should have been prepared as the kids have started back to school.

So, here I am sitting at the computer with swollen feet and aching legs, trying to come up with something. Why the swollen feet you ask?

Today, my two sisters, mother, and myself made our annual visit to the Kentucky State Fair where we walk our buns off! It's nice to do once a year and gives us a "girl's day out" which is something very much needed time and again.

One of the things we decided to do was participate in the blood drive...well...me and the middle sister (I'm the baby - gotta love me!). We went through the whole gamut of questions and anemia test...but my BP was too high so my sister was on her own. While she laid on the table bored out of her gourd, we sat up front, munched on cookies and drinks. Ahhh the sisterly love.

There is a section where the counties of Kentucky promote themselves and about 98% of them have drawings for one thing or another. Last year, I brougt one of the hundreds of packets of address labels so I didn't have to fill out each and everyone of those little papers. Of course, I got ripped at every booth because I failed to give that tip to them. Well, this year I told the in advace...so there!

I went one step further this year. I used my business cards as the entry slip...I ever win anyway, but it was one form of promo.

I met a woman and her mother who were excited to hear about Midnight Reborn. The really neat thing is the setting of the story is Louisville, Kentucky and that's where we were...in Louisville. People get all keyed up when they find out there is someting in the story that will be very familiar to them.

I apologize profusely to the Beyond the Veil blog readers for this last minute rambling blog. Hopefully, next time (if I am still allowed on here next time), I will be prepared.

Good night all and have a wonderful, safe weekend!

Hugs and Kisses!

Diane McEntire
Midnight Reborn - The Watchers, Book One
Available through Samhain Publishing
www.dmcentire.com
www.myspace.com/vanced99
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFoKh3I3YD8

20 August 2008

Today in History

So, the other day I got the reminder that today is my day to post. I searched my mind, trying to find with something different. Something fun to write. And came up blank. Don't worry, that happens a lot. My husband and kids will tell you that.

What could I write about that would be interesting? Nothing new is going on in my life. Except for the 3 new releases this summer, and I've blogged enough about that. But in case you haven't heard, or would like to know more, visit me here. So, now that the shameless plug is out of the way, let's talk about August 20.


Here are some interesting things I've discovered about this date:


1. 1741 - Alaska was discovered by Danish navigator Vitus Jonas Bering. That’s how the Bering Sea got its name.


2. 1986 - U.S. Census Bureau officials reported that the U.S. population stood at 240,468,000 and the median age reached an all-time high of 31-1/2 years.


3. 1896 - Dial telephone patented

4. 1965 - Rolling Stones release "Satisfaction" (their 1st #1 US hit)


5. August is the 8th month and 8 countries have gained their independence in the month of August: Singapore, Ecuador, Pakistan, Korea, India, Indonesia, Uruguay and Malasia


6. August's flower is the Gladiolus





7. August is National Beach Month

Now for another shameless plug:

Sharon Cullen writes romantic suspense and paranormal for Samhain Publishing and contemporary and paranormal for another publisher. Her stories have received 5 star reviews, been nominated for Best Book of the Year, and received Perfect 10s.

Everyone have a wonderful August 20th!

19 August 2008

13 August 2008

13 Multiple Choice First Lines from Samhain

Here's a fun little game. See how many second halves to these fantastic first lines by Samhain authors you can guess! I'll list the answers and the names of the books/authors on Friday in the comments section.

1) "Not to sound dense here, but I assume

A) you can't hear me with those headphones on."
B) the wedding is off."
C) you told Mother about the gun."

2) The skinny, bald guy's fur boots and matching

A) hat smelled like dead yak.
B) facial hair were the only unusual things about him.
C) fur condom weren't that unusual by the standards of Atlanta's Dragon*Con.

3) "I hafta

A) give it to you, buddy."
B) go potty."
C) get uh get uh get uh...get down!"

4) Caramel cake. How could mama be

A) dead when a freshly baked caramel cake waited in the kitchen?
B) so cruel as to offer me caramel cake when she knew I had a wedding dress to fit into?
C) hungry after a dinner like that?

5) Help

A) me.
B) was on the way, but I didn't know it at the time.
C) of the good variety is hard to come by.

6) I woke from a fuzzy trance with my mead-filled head ringing and

A) four Hain Guards seeking to separate said head from my shoulders.
B) a man I didn't recognize naked in the bed beside me.
C) my face half in, half out of the gutter.

7) The gust of wind sent

A) the smell of woodsmoke straight to our unkind pursuer.
B) her stumbling into the trees.
C) half the leaves still on the tree tumbling through the air.

8) Throughout dinner, Liz had stared

A) at the strange blinking light that seemed to be embedded her companion's left eye.
B) at her plate without touching any of the food.
C) out the huge bay window instead of at her boyfriend.

9) Shanghai--two hundred

A) years from tomorrow.
B) reasons to return but four million to stay away.
C) bucks for a round trip ticket.

10) "I will not sleep with

A) the man, no matter how much you pay me!"
B) you in my bedroom!"
C) so much racket going on in the next apartment."

11) The city was

A) dressed up like an old whore--blinking lights, shades of red and lace curtains blowing in the slight breeze from the ocean.
B) full of life.
C) still twenty kilometers away according to the road sign.

12) His name was

A) lost in the mists of history.
B) Eugene Jerome, and his reputation had preceeded him.
C) Raven.

13) Anxiety is a

A) bitch of monumental porportions.
B) necessary emotion, but then, so are the little white pills necessary to get through the day.
C) lack of knowledge combined with lack of power.

Bonus:

"I need

A) a new tooth."
B) a better first line if I want people to read this book."
C) to tell you something," whispered the old man on his death bed.

****

How many sound familiar to you? If the answer is zero, you might need to check out some of Samhain's fantasy and paranormal goodies the next time you're in a reading mood :). Of course, it might also just mean you have a terrible memory, like I do, so forget I said that, which should be easy for you with your memory and all.

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com
SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST--Available now, Samhain Publishing

Links to other Thursday Thirteens are in the comments!

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Book Videos Redux

In our endless drive to promote books and incorporate the "new media", one of the most unusual yet logical things to come out of the scramble would be book videos. As do so many things, they began as a small press sensation before they trickled up to the big NY houses. Now, books like Sherri Kenyon's Acheron, upon its recent release, are getting trailers that look like they're for real movies. There are awards for book videos, chats about book videos, sites for book videos, classes for book videos, people you can hire to create book videos, you name it. You can pay thousands upon thousands for a book video and you can do them yourself for pocket change.

(The current advice, of course, being you shouldn't homegrow your video or you look like a rank amateur, same as for websites, promo photos, marketing materials, publicity campaigns, and so many other things most authors can't afford to pay somebody else to do.)

(But it's an investment! It takes money to make money.)

(Can't get blood out of a turnip. First the kids eat, then we pay for gas, then mortgage and electricity, and then I have five bucks left over to buy...I don't know, probably some ibuprofin. Generic.)

(You're obviously not serious about your career if you aren't willing to invest the money into putting a professional foot forward.)

(And YOU obviously.... Wait a minute. Who am I talking to?)

(I am not sure, but I'll quit now. This is kind of psychotic.)

Book videos also tend to be -- not always, but sometimes -- on the dark and dramatic side since the medium lends itself to that. But what if you don't WRITE dark and dramatic? What do you do if you want a book video then?

Something like this, I guess. Dark and dramatic, I am not. Plump in the pocket to pay someone else to do it, I am not.



Show the gnomes some love, man! What are your favorite non-dark and non-dramatic book videos? Do you homegrow or farm it out?

Jody Wallace
http://www.jodywallace.com/

09 August 2008

Divination: Celtic Ogham - Ailm

Welcome back to my Celtic Ogham divination series! To read other installments of this series, click here.

Name: Ailm (pronounced "ahim")
Tree: Silver Fir (or any pine-like species)
Letter: A
Color: Gold (some sources say blue)
Celtic Calendar: Winter Solstice
Planet: Sun, Mars
Celtic Deity: Druantia
Stone: Amber or Citrine
Chakra: Crown and Sacral

Because pine knots were used as torches to light the way (and as Yule logs at solstice), Ailm symbolizes a clear vision to see the way forward, the clarity to discern the difference between good and bad choices. It's foresight, farsight, the light at the end of the tunnel that will lead you to your destiny.

Light signals a clearing of negative energy, and end to painful times. Wear amber, tree resin, as a talisman to remind yourself that the light will always return. Ailm's light allows you to look at past events of your life in a new light, letting you see them for what they are and take the lessons learned with you into the future while leaving behind the pain.

Ailm fires creativity and positive spiritual development.

Silver Fir is a tree that thrives in harsh, mountain climates. It survives by adaptation - opening its cones to the sun and closing them to the rain. In this way it teaches us to be flexible, to roll with the punches.

08 August 2008

The Epic of Gilgamesh


Today’s trip into mythology goes a little further afield than I’ve gone before. Today, we’re headed to Mesopotamia.

First, the geography lesson. The heart of Mesopotamia lies between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. What we call the “Cradle of Civilization.” The Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian empires were all Mesopotamian. Currently, that area belongs to Iraq, but all those ancient empires – kingdoms from Biblical times – lived and died around those two rivers.

Mesopotamia holds many treasures for us, mythologically speaking. The greatest of which is an epic tale of love and friendship, pride, sacrifice, sorrow and death. The Epic of Gilgamesh.

Gilgamesh was a real king of Uruk. Tales about him began to surface around 2100BC. A warrior, a diplomat, and a religious leader, the real Gilgamesh appears to have possessed genuinely heroic qualities. He is described in the poem as being “one-third human, two-thirds divine.”

Strong, sophisticated, powerful and beautiful, Gilgamesh ruled the city of Uruk well, but he had one weakness – women. Unfortunately, he wasn’t too interested in whether they really wanted him back, and their annoyed cries reached the ears of heaven. The gods looked down and said that they would create someone who would distract him and leave the women of Uruk in peace.

And so they took a lump of clay and created a huge, shaggy wild man named Enkidu. He roamed the forests with the animals, even saving them from the snares and traps of hunters. They finally got fed up with not catching anything and approached Gilgamesh, saying that they were too afraid of Enkidu to catch him themselves.

Gilgamesh, knowing his own weakness, decided that Enkidu might be the same. He told the hunters to take a harlot named Shamhat out to the forest where she could tame the wild man.

Apparently, they set the forest rockin’. Afterwards, however, Enkidu discovered that she had weakened and humanized him enough that his animal friends no longer welcomed him. A tough lesson in judgment, but Shamhat helped him out. She told him to go to Uruk where he might find a true friend in Gilgamesh.

He set out for the city, but upon his arrival, discovered that Gilgamesh was up to his old tricks. He was preparing to exercise his right to sleep with a bride on her first night with her husband. This struck Enkidu as barbaric (does anyone else see the irony here?) and he and Gilgamesh fought a mighty battle through the streets of Uruk.

Enkidu, though no longer as strong as his animal companions, was still more than a match for Gilgamesh and he defeated the king. However, Enkidu’s humanity and humility were the perfect foil for the “two-thirds divine” king’s selfish pride. Instead of becoming rivals, they became inseparable companions.

The epic tells of many adventures, but it hinges on the defeat of one Humbaba (or Humwawa – transliteration is an imprecise thing.) Humbaba was the forest guardian and servant of the god Enlil. Gilgamesh and Humbaba fought and Gilgamesh won. However, he went too far. Despite Humbaba’s pleas for mercy, Gilgamesh and Enkidu both participate in his execution.

Filled with pride at his victory, they return to Uruk. There, the seductive goddess Inana propositions Gilgamesh, but he refuses her. Not only that, he insults her, throwing in her face all the lovers she as ruined and all the gods she has scorned.

You know that saying about the fury of a woman scorned? Inana was furious. She went to the gods and demanded revenge. This insult, combined with the death of Enlil’s servant, compelled the gods to send down the Bull of Heaven to defeat Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

The gods really don’t seem to have grasped the power of the heroes that they themselves created. Gilgamesh and Enkidu not only defeat the Bull of Heaven, they throw one of its bloody limbs in Inana’s face.

It’s an unpardonable offense and someone has to pay. The gods decide that Enkidu will bear the punishment. Over twelve days, Enkidu wastes away from a debilitating illness and Gilgamesh is forced to watch his dearest friend in the world die. It changes him more than anything else by bringing his own mortality to his attention.

Gilgamesh is a shadow of his former self. He abandons his city and travels to the Underworld to seek a way for him to become immortal. He is terrified of death. He meets Ut-napishtim – a Mesopotamian version of Noah – and asks him for the same immortality that he has achieved. After many trials, Ut-napishtim finally tells him to take a fruit of a tree.

Here, the story diverges a bit. In one version, the fruit will grant Gilgamesh the immortality he seeks. In another, Ut-napishtim tells him that everything must die, but the fruit will bring back his friend, Enkidu.

In any case, as Gilgamesh travels back to Uruk, he falls asleep by a stream and a serpent steals the fruit. Now he has neither unending life for himself or a new life for his friend. He returns to Uruk and spends his last few years grieving and brooding in the city.

It’s a tragic tale, to be sure. None of the happy endings that we’re used to as romance fans. But it has great power, even in its sadness. Not to mention that it provides us much inspiration for brooding heroes and a glimmer of possible redemption. After all, weren’t Gilgamesh and Enkidu reunited in death? Granted, that’s not how we want our books to turn out, but the possibility exists.

I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into Mesopotamian mythology. There are many other tales of gods and goddesses and all their tricks, but I’ll save them for another time. The story I told was synthesized from three sources:
Wikipedia: The Epic of Gilgamesh
Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth & Storytelling
Mythology: Myths, Legends, & Fantasies

06 August 2008

What day are we on?

It's summer. Lazy days and no paying attention to the calendar. Or the clock, for that matter, but let's pretend I posted this in the early hours of the morning, shall we?

It occurs to me I don't pay much attention to the passing days, weeks or months in real life, unless I'm marking the time to get to something good. The birth of a baby. The end of that cold sore on my lip. The conference in DC in 2009 - the one I should be able to attend.

And it's like that in my books, too. Days, months, years pass with the same fluidity as in my own life.

Only I've birthed a compulsive calendar-watcher. My five year old yells at me when the calendar still shows July in August (it still does, fyi) or the really awful time we went from May to July. (the picture for June was yucky, though, so it worked out well for me.)

The difficulty in his attentiveness was made clear last night...his older brother is away for three weeks, and poor Tank had a meltdown. Which means we are now counting down sleeps til Brother comes home. I'm aware of time in a way I never have been before...and I'm going to tell you a secret...
being this aware of the passage of time is frightening to me.

So...which are you? Compulsive calendar watcher? Or ignorer of time?

02 August 2008

Is there a Renfield in the house?

I never thought I’d say this, but I need a Renfield.

Not Dracula, no matter who’s playing him this week. Not Van Helsing, even if he looks (and talks!) exactly like Hugh Jackman. No, I need the guy who doesn’t just pull the wings off flies, he eats them whole.

Yesterday, I found at least a dozen flies with their noses pressed against the picture window to the patio like all they want in life was to get out. Yeah, right. It’s also the warmest place in our air-conditioned house. The dh (aka darling husband) and I killed them dead. Today there were another dozen more. Why let them go to waste? They're supposed to be a great source of protein. Renfield could have the spiders too, but I’d have to draw the line at the cat.

I can’t figure out where they came from. It wasn’t the garbage. I think I would’ve noticed if they started swarming out of the relevant kitchen cabinet. It can’t be the cat box. We clean his litter twice a day. The cat himself has learned to associate dead varmints with dishes of cream, so he diligently brings us anything he finds. Last winter, he even dragged a dead mouse into the bed with us to make sure he didn’t miss out on his cream treat.

So is there a dead body hiding someplace in the house? It seems likely. No matter how clean we keep it, there will always be places neither dh and I, nor the cat can reach.

Which begs the question: If the dh, the cat and I can’t find a carcass in our own house, how many things could be hiding in this weird wide wonderful world of ours? Why couldn’t there be a water monster in Loch Ness or Bigfoot in Oklahoma? Or vampires anywhere?

For that matter, why does it have to be a critter corpse? How can I be sure Beelzebub hasn’t taken up residence in the basement? Given the stacks of the dh’s record collection, he'd have more than enough places to hide.

Dang. I shouldn’t have asked that question. Now I need to write a story to find out the answer. Oh well, it keeps me off the streets.

Happy August!

01 August 2008

Country Music - D. McEntire's Muse

Many times I have been asked: “What gets you in the mood to write?”

My answer: Country Music

When I listen to a country song, I picture a handsome man with tight, faded jeans, work boots and that good ol’ cowboy hat. He removes his shirt to reveal tanned flesh from days spent working in the sun, and sculpted muscles from lifting bales of hay. *sigh*

But, there’s more to it than a cowboy’s looks. I mean, who doesn’t want a man who will take you pickin’ wildflowers, then check you for ticks. He’ll always think of you. Even when he’s picking up fast food, he’ll ask if you want fries with that. And, if he misses your call, he’ll be quick to give you a holler back.

When the sun goes down after a long day on the farm, he’ll take you out for a night on the town, or get good directions to the red neck yacht club. But, where ever he takes you, he’ll make sure every mile is a memory.

When you’re gone, he’ll make sure every light on the house is on for your return home.

Caring and sensitive are good qualities, but a cowboy can get a little naughty, especially when he asks “Who’s your daddy?” and wants to show you a good time.

It’s okay if he tells himself she thinks my tractor’s sexy every time he climbs aboard his international harvester. The most important thing of all is he knows size matters.

So, when you find this cowboy, that sexy, sultry man of whom dreams are made of, don’t blink, or you’re gonna miss this. After all…love is a beautiful thing.

Wait a minute…what was I thinking?

I don’t want you paranormal fans to be left out. That handsome cowboy can be one of the “fang” persuasion. He may not work the ranch and his bronzed body may not come from hours in the sun but from his complex DNA and chemical makeup rushing through his veins, he’ll have no problem demonstrating I’m still a guy and show you how forever feels.

Cowboys, paranormal hunks, lords of the past or military bad boys….

Whatever the man of your dreams may be, my wish is you’ll find love in the first degree and it feels so right.

So…I’ve got to ask….What do you think about that?




Midnight Reborn available now from Samhain Publishing


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