Random Ramble-What To Add

IMG_20160428_203226I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump lately. I’m guessing the new place and new job have me feeling a bit displaced and drifting. However, I have been able to accomplish some sorting and arranging. My bookshelves are now organized by subject, and, after four years of being in boxes, I’ve pulled out my mythology research and placed it in binders. Well, I’ve gotten it ready to place in binders. I still have to get them.

My intention at this point is to add articles about mythology and folklore to my website. The question becomes ‘what should go on there?’ Do I stick with straight facts as found in history, or do I let my brain run wild and include some of the wacked-out theories I’ve considered over the years. (Trust me, my brain can go to all kinds of odd places.)

For example, like many of the conspiracy theorists, I find it odd that so many of the world’s cultures speak of more advanced beings–gods, angels, humans–teaching mankind how to farm, work magic, heal, wear cosmetics, etc. Now, I’ll admit to not being a big one on researching aliens. (Do I think we’re a bit arrogant to assume we’re the only intelligent creatures in the universe? Yep. Do I think others came in spaceships to teach us how to do things? Ehhh. Not so sure.) But that’s beside the point. My point is this: We have a world’s worth of mythology stating we were taught to do things by others. Here’s the kicker: The archaeological record shows an evolutionary progression from one point to another–simple tools evolve into more complex tools, etc. There’s no sign, not that I’ve been able to find, of jumps in technology on the level of the myths. Of course, I haven’t kept up with things as much for the last few years, so I’d need to do some serious research before making any conclusions, even to myself, but it’s something I like to think about.

Random ramble aside, I’d like to know what you think about adding articles to my website. What types of folklore and mythology most interest you? Are you interested in theories and wild imaginings, or would you prefer a ‘stick to the facts as we know them’ approach? What I would like to create is a starting point database of sorts for all kinds of mythology and folklore. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, and I think we’ve forgotten the lessons found in these timeless tales. Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

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Note to Self…Get a Bigger Pot

and-thu-2789325_1920Howdy and hello! I took a break for a couple of weeks to get adjusted to a new day job. It’s not my dream job, but at least I have a somewhat ‘normal’ schedule now. Woohoo!

With fall finally here (Someone please tell Mother Nature. It’s still really hot!), it’s the time of year I usually do a LOT of cooking. First and foremost is the yearly batch of chili. My son loves the stuff and can go through it in a matter of days. Last year I made three batches, which I think came to about thirty pounds, so this year I thought I’d just get ahead of the game and make thirty pounds from the get go. It was a good idea in theory, at least until I realized that I no longer had the giant stock pot I’d always made large batches in. (It had an accident a few years ago, and I replaced it with a smaller one. Not sure why I can’t remember that from year to year.)

So, here I am cooking meat like a madwoman and scooping it into the pot. I’d done about half of it when I realized the pot I had was nearly full. I still had to add the tomatoes, peppers, and other ingredients, so I needed a little room for those. Not to mention stirring. Oops. Fortunately, I had another pot that was almost the same size. Eleven hours and thirty pounds of meat later, the freezer is full of chili, and my son should be set through the winter months. But I think a giant stock pot is going on my Christmas list for this year, just to make things easier next fall.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

The Fool

fool-140229_1920I have a wide variety of interests, though they’re all related. One of the things I love is the imagery and symbolism of the tarot. As a folklore and mythology junkie, I love exploring the various symbols found in world religions and belief structures.

The tarot is full of symbolism, as anyone well-versed in the system will tell you. The beginning of the journey is the Fool, often numbered 0 or 22. In many ways the fool is like the maiden seen in fairy tales. He is innocent and naïve, and he just flat out doesn’t have a clue about life or anything around him. He can be reckless and irresponsible, and, in literature, he is often seen hanging out by the well of the village.

The fool is the zero of the tarot, the one that comes before the beginning or after the end. He is pictured standing on a cliff with a dog biting his heels. He isn’t aware that he is about to tumble into the abyss, and it’s doubtful that he’d care if he did know.

The fool can grow into many things. He can become the knight and the hero, and he can become the father. If he refuses to grow, he can become the trickster, a person who is so self-absorbed that he is cruel to others.

We find the fool in just about everything that we read or watch. In Star Wars, he is Luke Skywalker, who must leave his home and claim his destiny, losing some of his selfishness along the way. In The Lord of the Rings, he is Frodo, who has to leave the comforts he has cultivated for himself and step into the world outside of Hobbiton. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he is Huck, and in the legends of King Arthur he is Percival and Gawain, both of whom are innocent and unknowing until they have gone on their quests.

In the story “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” from The Arabian Knights, Aladdin is the fool. He is lazy and unfocused, and this causes his father’s death and his mother’s grief. One day he is approached by an evil magician, who claims to be his uncle. This man takes Aladdin to a cave and orders him to bring out a lamp. The magician becomes angry when Aladdin refuses to hand the lamp to him and locks the boy in the cave. Aladdin rubs the lamp and frees the genie, who gives Aladdin everything he could ever want, including the Princess for a wife. Aladdin believes that his life will be nothing but peace and contentment, but the magician and his brother aren’t finished with Aladdin. The magician steals the palace with the Princess inside of it, and the magician’s younger brother convinces the Princess that she needs a Roc’s egg in the great hall of the palace. This request angers the genie, and Aladdin is forced to act on his own before he is allowed his life of peace.

Still, Aladdin never really learns the value of hard work or fending for himself. He is always dependent on the generosity of the genie to survive.

The fool can show us the way to the divine. In many of his aspects he is like the child – full of unharnessed potential – but in the fool’s case it is time for him to choose a path. He can’t wander in the meadow forever. There are stories, like the one about Aladdin, where the fool can maintain his foolishness and survive by sheer dumb luck, but most of the stories require that the fool grow up. He must choose a road and walk it, learning a trade or going into service to others. And this is where we can learn from him. We all have to find a way to support ourselves, and, sometimes, we are forced into careers that we don’t enjoy. But we have to go to work anyway. The fool can teach us to view this as a necessary stepping-stone, and, when combined with the child, he can help us find a way to change our career and lifestyle without losing everything in the process.

The fool is also seen as beginning. He can be the first step on a path, or the first step that comes after the trial of rebirth. Either way, he is full of optimism. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘can’t.’ When the child encourages us to go with a new concept, the fool can help us take that first step toward a new goal. He can encourage us to climb the mountains to the divine or our goals, and he can help us get through the trials as we carry our Rings to Mount Doom.

Traditionally, the fool replaced the king in sacrificial ceremonies, and he was the scapegoat for all human folly. He was not a positive symbol, rather, he demonstrated how easy it is for humans to fail. He spoke of human ignorance and the refusal to become wise.

Meditation on the fool can show us where we are being stupid. It can show us how our actions affect others, and it can point the way to wisdom. He can also provide optimism when we are lacking in it, but his optimism is born of ignorance rather than knowledge. He can show us the foolishness of our thoughts and the ignorance of outdated beliefs, but he cannot change these things for us. He can also show us where we are refusing responsibility and failing miserably. On the positive side, he can show us how to pick up and move forward rather than spinning our wheels in a hopeless endeavor.

While the fool, in modern times, is considered a harmless figure, this was not always the case, and it is important that we remember this. The fool can help us begin a new journey, and he can show us where we are stagnating, but he must be used with caution and understanding. And we must constantly remember that the fool has no wisdom or experience from which to draw. He lives by instinct alone.

 

 

 

 

Fairies in Folklore

woman-1489175_1920Even though we live in a world where belief in fairies is considered quaint at best, they still capture our imaginations. From Disney’s Tinkerbell movies to the elves in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to creatures in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, magical beings still have the ability to draw us in and hold us captive. But what are these elusive creatures so prevalent in our folklore and literature? There is no simple definition.

The word ‘fairy’, or ‘faery’, calls to mind tiny beings with an ambient glow, iridescent wings, and a trail of fairy dust, but the word actually encompasses a much wider range of creatures.

The most well-known body of fairy lore comes from Ireland. Here, the Fair Folk are descendants of the Tuatha de Danann, a race of god-like beings who arrived in a cloud of mist from islands to the west. They had mastered the use of magic, which helped them defeat the Firbolg in the first battle of Mag Tuireadh and the Fomorians in the second battle of the same name. However, while their dealings with the Firbolg were fairly straight-forward, this was not the case with the Fomorians.

The Cath Maige Tuired, The Second Battle of Mag Tuired, speaks of the Tuatha de Danann’s dealings with the Formorians, including trade and interbreeding. When the Tuatha de Danann were later defeated by the Milesians, they moved into underground hills and formed vast kingdoms where they lived peaceably unless harassed by humans.

While Ireland has the largest collection of fairy lore, the Little People are not restricted to the shores of the Emerald Isle; they are found in some form or another in cultures around the world.

In general, fairies are divided into two main groups: the aristocracy and the peasantry. The aristocracy, said to be descended from the Tuatha de Danann in Ireland, are tall and beautiful with power that far outstrips that of humans. Called the Daoine Sidhe and the Seelie Court, among other things, they live in their kingdoms and tend their cattle. When provoked, however, they react violently. Their arrows cause paralysis and death, and their touch can sicken and kill people and animals. They will damage crops and cattle, the same ones they help propagate when left alone.

The peasantry are more solitary and live in the wilds of nature. They are nature spirits who occupy the dark places of the world. One such place is the taiga forest, which stretches for thousands of miles across Russia. This is a cold place filled with wolves that howl in the night and elk who roam the frozen paths. It is also home to the leshy.

Descriptions of the leshy vary. Some accounts say they are tree-like in size and appearance, while others state they are tiny creatures that can scuttle by unnoticed. Like most fairies, they can change their shape at will, though their natural form is said to be human-like in form with leaf-colored hair and the horns and hooves of a goat.

In Zulu culture, there is a tiny creature known as the abatwa. This being is said to be a hunter who is small enough to hide under a blade of grass and live in an ant hill. They are self-conscious about their size, so if one comes across an abatwa while hunting, it is polite to tell him he was spotted from a good distance away. To insult an abatwa is a death sentence, much like insulting the fairies from Ireland.

If we move on to the folklore of Spain, Portugal, South America, and the Philippines, we find the duende. This creature ranges in size from eighteen inches to three to four feet tall and inhabits houses. While they are neither wholly good nor entirely evil, the duende is a trickster who enjoys tormenting humans. They will steal and destroy property when angered, and their tricks are anything but humorous. They will also torment villages when the mood strikes them.

From Native American folklore, we have Coyote, who might be more accurately considered a god. This spirit is seen as a nature spirit among other things and is known for his trickster attitude. While he’s credited with giving man artwork and fire, he is often portrayed in his more malevolent form. In this form, his tricks come close to being evil, and it’s said he caused misery and sickness to come into the world.

In Italy, there is the Monaciello. This creature is said to resemble a tiny monk similar in appearance to a leprechaun. These creatures supposedly guard wine and treasure. While the typical friar’s clothing is brown, the Monaciello’s is bright red. He lives in houses and takes pleasure in pinching the residents and stealing their clothing. Should the human resident take the Monaciello’s hat, he will be able to claim part of the creature’s treasure in exchange for its return.

On the more malevolent end of the spectrum is the Orculli, also from Italy. These creatures are masters at shape-changing and most identifiable by their stench. They are also cannibalistic and stories tell of them grabbing humans for a snack.

The list of fairy species is enough to fill several volumes, and many have been written, but, in general, they are creatures of magic who are very much connected to the natural world. As man has moved into these natural places, the Fair Folk have been pushed away, as they have no love of industrialization and the trappings of modern life. However, they live on in our stories and imaginations and have a special place in our hearts.

 

FURTHER READING

Appenzeller, Tim. The Enchanted World: Dwarfs. Time-Life Books, 1985.

Appenzeller, Tim. The Enchanted World: Fairies and Elves. Time-Life Books, 1985.

Arrowsmith, Nancy, and George Moorse. A Field Guide to the Little People. Simon and Schuster, 1977.

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Mythology. New York: Dell Publishing, Co., 1959.

Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology. New York: Penguin Compass, 1991.

Cole, Joanna. Best Loved Folktales of the World. New York: Anchor Books, 1982.

Hollander, Lee M, trans. The Poetic Edda. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1962.

 

 

New Releases!

Howdy, all!

I finally got off my duff and released a couple of stories I’ve been sitting on for a while.

3D bookJerrung and the Kwaad Cavern

This is a chapter book for ages 6-8 and follows the adventures of a young dwarf named Jerrung. Jerrung’s friends have their own adventures, which can be read for free on my website at http://www.lissadobbs.com.

At almost eight years old, Jerrung is sure he’s old enough to be a warrior, to have a real sword. His parents, on the other hand, disagree. They think he’s just a child.

But when Jerrung’s sister is kidnapped by the Kwaad, Jerrung knows his time has come. Jerrung isn’t going to wait for the rest of the village to make plans. He and his friends head into the mountains to rescue the prisoners.

Can the dwarves find their way through the tunnels before the Kwaad find them?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074VC2721

 

Windows to the Soul

3D coverThis is a short story.

True horror isn’t found on the silver screen or in the pages of books. True horror is found in the mind, in the depths of the soul, the places where light is a distant memory.

​So Amy discovers in the halls of the nursing home where her mother works, and, later, in the eyes of her peers. Horror follows her everywhere until she learns the truth…eyes are truly the windows to the soul.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074WHZJSJ

 

In other news, for the next month, I’m offering free chapter and short story edits, up to 2,500 words. If you have a story you need critiqued or edited, just use the contact form on my Contact the Author page or the contact form on my website at http://www.lissadobbs.com/editorialservices.

 

Best wishes!

Technology in Grevared

steam-train-512508_1920We live in a technological world full of smart phones, computers, and things some of us will probably never understand. For the most part, this technology has gone from point A to point B, not necessarily in a straight line, but moving forward nonetheless.

I was a kid during the reign of Atari and Commodore 64, and the only computer language I ever knew was Basic. Now, my phone has more capabilities than my first computer, and I’m lucky to figure out how to make a blog post. (And it only works half the time.)

Science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk all have their versions of technology, too. Some of it is beyond our wildest dreams, while other parts take us back to the middle ages. Regardless of which genre we’re reading, though, there are those who expect the technology to progress the same way it did in our world.

Grevared doesn’t really work that way, not entirely. For example, I had a reader ask me the other day why a tavern owner used oil lamps if the society had things like steam locomotives and Cold Boxes (refrigerators). There’s a simple answer for that. All electricity in Grevared is run on generators, which are expensive to own and operate. Families and business owners who use electricity must decide what they will use it on, and most choose a Cold Box or something similar rather than light, which can be obtained through other means. No one has installed power lines that carry electricity from place to place because they haven’t thought of it yet. Why not? When our world figured it out fairly quickly? Well…it isn’t our world.

GrevaredResources on Grevared are most definitely finite. The pieces of land exist in a void space, and you can walk off the edge of the world. These resources must be guarded carefully if the world is to survive, so, while they are willing to create some technological luxuries, there are many others that would destroy their world were they to come into being.

However, that isn’t to say that technology aided by magic doesn’t happen. There are creatures called animated corpses that are purely technological, at least in a sense. A small copper chip attached to wires is run through the nervous system and allows the creature to move and follow basic orders. The chip can be removed and read by a machine. Technological, right? Not entirely. There’s a good bit of magic that goes into making the process work. The same is true of the seventh hell demon prison, Brimstone Thunderwatch. There are technological aspects to the prison itself, but there’s just as much magic keeping these creatures confined. Even the mechanical bugs that deliver messages have a magical element to their operation.

So, while Grevared does have steam trains and bionic implants, their technology as we think about it isn’t on the same level with that in our world, and their needs and desires make it unlikely that it ever will be. Even in the Xaggarene Empire, the most technologically advanced of the lands, power lines aren’t likely to become popular. Too much of their technology is dependent on magic.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

Character Thoughts – Justin Harper

Justin Harper VintageJustin Harper is best friends with Timothy Hawkins and appears in Wolf in the Shadow.

Justin and Timothy attended school together and were known for getting into mischief. They spent more time harassing the Sisters than they did studying. After school, they would play games in the streets of Freywater, and they spent many an evening at each other’s home.

As late teens, Justin and Timothy were both granted weapons of the gods. While Timothy received the Spear of Lugh, Justin received the Seal of Solomon. Unfortunately, the Seal required practice to master, something Justin had no desire to do. Still, carrying the weapon allowed him to become a Shadow Walker, and he threw himself into it with all his heart. He came to love the chase and the slaughter, and he became one of the best the Shadow Walkers had at disposing of dangerous creatures. He was often paired with Timothy, who was the one person who could curb Justin’s more reckless behavior.

Justin is in his early twenties in Wolf in the Shadow. At this time, Justin’s favorite pastime is downing Nutty Fluffies and bedding as many women as possible. To him, these women are nothing more than playthings, and the idea that they are people with emotions and dreams escapes him. In his own mind, what he’s doing can’t possibly hurt anyone, and he’s found himself on the business end of numerous pistols and swords. Only Timothy’s connection with the Enforcers keeps Justin out of trouble.

In his more serious moments, though these are rare, Justin considers his life in the far future. While he can’t picture himself with a wife and children, he does see himself in a position of authority, something that gets a lot of attention and admiration. By his own admission, he has no idea what this position might be. He’s actually extremely insecure and uses his flamboyant persona to validate his existence to himself. He constantly struggles with feelings of inadequacy, and he would most likely be able to conquer these if he would give them voice instead of hiding them.

Justin loves to eat out at restaurants, and his favorite place in Freywater is a diner near the University. They serve foods fried in oil, and Justin is particularly fond of fried root vegetables. He covers them in a variety of sauces and uses them as a ‘pick me up’ after too many Nutty Fluffies or a night spent with too much company. He also enjoys going to the theater, though he avoids the burlesque shows because he feels they are indecent.

When he’s alone, he enjoys reading, and the ha’coin books that have become the rage in the Xaggarene Empire are his favorites. Many of these deal with murder and depravity, and Justin finds satisfaction in reading about these topics. He doesn’t care much for actual book-learning, though, so many of the topics Timothy mentions are lost on him.

Justin is one of those characters who is both loveable and despicable. His willingness to protect the weak is a laudable trait, but his selfishness is loathsome. There are redeeming qualities to him, but they’re hard to see for those who aren’t looking. He can be fun to be around, but no one should ever count on him. He’s loyal to those who serve his purposes, but he will turn away if he thinks he has the slightest reason. His love of the chase is carefully balanced by the need of the Shadow Walkers, but I wonder just what it would take to shift him from state-sanctioned Shadow Walker to cold-blooded killer. I don’t think it would take too much, and it’s an idea I may explore at some point. I haven’t decided. I have to admit, though, that, while Justin is one of my favorites to write, I don’t particularly like him. He’s just too loud and obnoxious to be someone I would enjoy being around.

What are your thoughts on Justin Harper? Is he someone you would call a friend? Do you agree with his actions in Wolf in the Shadow?

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

 

 

Book Cover…Grrrrr.

K'duktil and Cavern CoverOne of the things I like best about self-publishing is being able to take control of the process myself. For me, it’s fun to play around with new ideas and try to learn new skills. The operative word here is ‘try’. Damn me for wanting to learn stuff.

While the other covers took me some time and effort to work out, I’ve had a difficult time getting a cover made for Jerrung and the Kwaad Cavern, a children’s book that will be out when I can figure out its wrapping. Nothing I do seems to work and capture the story, and I think I’ve made thirty or forty of them.

That being the case, I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities, the best I can come up with for this particular story. I’ve added the two possibilities and the blurb. I’d appreciate any thoughts on the matter, positive or negative.

Yellow Ogre.jpgAs always, best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://lissadobbs.com

Blurb:

At almost eight years old, Jerrung is sure he’s old enough to be a warrior, to have a real sword. His parents disagree. They think he’s just a child.

But when Jerrung’s sister is kidnapped by the Kwaad, Jerrung knows his time has come. Jerrung isn’t going to wait for the rest of the village to make their plans. He and his friends head into the mountains to rescue the prisoners.

Can the dwarves find their way through the tunnels and back out before the Kwaad find them?