Random Thought – Folklore

2017052295133200_2 (2)I had a strange dream the other night that got me thinking about the story of “Hansel and Gretel”. Nothing serious, mind you, just the prevalence of these tales in our culture, in all cultures, really.

One of the things that’s always fascinated me about folklore and religion is the similarities between cultures that weren’t supposed to be in contact with each other. It’s always made me wonder how so many different people in so many different places could come up with the same thing at around the same time period. Don’t get me wrong, I understand Jung’s idea of archetypes and the collective unconscious and the universality of human experience. After all, we are all born, live, and die. We have to come to terms with ourselves and learn to live in the world on our own. I get that.

What’s always fascinated me is the amount of similarity and the desire of humans to pass on lessons through stories and analogy. I mean, when I’m trying to get my kids to understand something, I don’t couch it in metaphor and euphemism. I say it plainly. We do the same thing when talking about our day at work or teaching history, in some respects at least.

Why then the need for these tales? We know they serve a purpose outside of entertainment. Many of these tales allow children a glimpse into the adult world long before they experience it themselves. They allow us to meet fear in a form that isn’t as frightening, and children who are read fairy tales generally have an easier time with reading and comprehension. There’s something basic about them that speaks across time and culture to that place within us that makes us all human beings.

But who first thought them? Who crafted these marvelous glimpses into long ago that are so powerful we’re still rewriting them today? Was it an ancient family seated around a fire after a day of hunting? Was it a mother desperate to give hope to a sick child? Was it a sibling offering comfort to the younger ones in times of trouble?

I would love to create a time machine and travel back to that distant time just to watch this phenomena unfold, to meet the richness of culture and experience the connection that allowed the same thoughts, and plots, to arise on opposite sides of the world.

I suppose these are odd thoughts, and they definitely ramble, but I’ve spent the day making snow to decorate with, and I’ve had plenty of time for wandering thoughts.

I hope all have a wonderful holiday week and season.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

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Whew! That’s Over. Now What?

Business Card FrontThings have been a bit hectic lately, so writing has been on the back burner. Now that the holidays are upon us, I’m not so sure things will slow down, but I have hope.

Now that the weather’s cooling down and the leaves are changing, I find myself more motivated and more creative. The problem comes with deciding where to focus my time and energy. Do I want to continue with Grevared? I have a ton of stories in the works and more ideas in my noggin’. Do I want to get started on the YA modern fantasy that’s whirling around in my head? Right now, there are two stories, mostly fully formed, written in a notebook. Do I want to work on the horror stories that come unbidden into my dreams? And, boy, did I have a doozy last night. Or do I want to focus on building my proofreading business? I can do this for others, but making sure my own stuff is free of typos is another thing all together. Or do I want to abandon all of that and return to researching folklore and mythology? It’s not like we’ve figured it all out yet.

Business Card1Mostly, it’s a matter of time management and organization, but I think it would be easier to petition the Universe for a few more hours in the day. But would that help? I’m not sure. I have no doubt I’ll figure it out when my mind has had a little time to slow down and consider a bit. Until then, I’ll keep on keeping on and do what I can when I can and hope the results are something others want to read.

At the end of the day, it’s the joy that comes from doing it, the journey rather than the destination, that matters.

Best wishes,

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

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Random Thoughts – You’ve Got This

Lissa Dobbs, Author

Be the lightI was coming home from the grocery store with my son when the song “Jesus Take the Wheel” came on. It’s one of those that I like to hear now and again, as much because of my interest in all mythology and religion than for any other reason. I also like the idea of a higher power that will, occasionally, lend a helping hand. Well, my son, being a teenager, made the comment that maybe Jesus didn’t want to take the wheel because it wasn’t needed. He was being a smartass at the time, but his comment made me think.

There are times when we want nothing more than to turn over whatever is going on to someone else, anyone else, just for a little bit. We want God or the angels or the Universe to just make the bad times go away and let us have some peace. We…

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Something About the Old Ones

gray concrete building on top of hill
Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and when Mother Nature finally looks at the calendar and cools things off, I’m in full creative mode and ready to kick back with some old movies and tap out some words. This is especially true in October when the leaves are changing and pumpkins sit everywhere. (Okay, so, the stores may be a little ahead of the game with Christmas, but we won’t go there.)

I’m a horror movie junkie, but I don’t like most of the newer ones. I’ll sit through It or A Quiet Place or The Conjuring, but those aren’t the ones I thrive on. I prefer the old ones, like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolfman. These are classics, of course, but I also like the ones like the Beast of Yucca Flats, any of the ones made before 1950.

And why would I prefer those to the modern movies with their fancy CGI effects and digital processing (whatever it’s called)? Because the old ones have a creep factor not seen in a lot of modern films. There’s something about the use of light and shadow, the lack of color, the hollow sound of the voices, that is both skin-crawling creepy and peaceful. There’s a calm in them, possibly because of the soundtrack, that’s soothing even in the midst of being chased by a monster. They create an ambiance of dark places when the light of the fire didn’t quite reach the corners and of wrapping in a blanket to chase off the chill.

That’s not saying there aren’t good movies out there today, just that these have a special place in my heart and bring a sense of ‘autumn’ and Halloween that most others don’t.

What are some of your favorite Halloween movies?

Best wishes,

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com/childrenstories

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

Void Serpent: From The Flora and Fauna of the Lands of Grevared by Inquisitor Mylar Massengill

Void Serpent Hand ColoredAppearance: It has a dragon-like head and a serpentine body with no legs or wings. Most have horns on the head, though this can vary. Void serpents often grow to be several hundred feet long, and they have the strength to destroy a ship. Mating rituals are unknown, for no one has ever seen this activity. It is believed that the females lay eggs, but this has not been definitively determined. Void serpents also possess the ability to spit fire, though they are rarely seen to do so. They attack without provocation, and their population numbers are unknown.

Habitat: Void serpents live in the void. There is no other known habitat.

Diet: It is believed that the void serpent lives primarily on other void creatures, though just what these creatures are is still largely unknown. However, the serpents will eat those on the ships they attack.

Threat: The void serpent is extremely dangerous.

 

Notes: There is a legend, though I can’t vouch for its veracity, about demon creatures called Serpent Riders. It is said these beings have tamed the void serpents and use them to travel the void. I don’t believe in this legend, however, for there are none who can survive the chaotic energy in the void.

 

I Finally Figured Out Assaberries!!!!

Assaberry juice
Assaberry Juice

Those who’ve followed for a while know that Ethan Grimley’s favorite fruit is the assaberry. These berries are ubiquitous in Grevared and are one of the most common berries for use in baking and sweet-making. It is also the most common flavor of Fizzy Drink, and Mondor Fizzy Drinks and Snacks in Freywater owns large tracts of land in the Xaggarene Empire to grow the berries.

 

I also love creating food for my fantasy worlds, and the assaberry has been one of my biggest challenges so far. I wanted something with an unusual, but palatable, taste. Mixing berries was the obvious choice, but it was too obvious. However, after several trials, I’ve finally found a mixture I like. It still tastes like berries, of course, but there’s enough of something else to it to make it somewhat unique, at least as far as my culinary tastes run.

assaberry-left-over-mush.jpg
The fruit remains after making juice

To Create the Assaberry Flavor

1 pomegranate

15 raspberries

15 red grapes

juice of 1/2 orange

I made sponge cakes and jelly from the juice this time, but I also want to make jelly candies, since that’s one of Ethan’s favorite sweets. Now, if I can just find what I need for the talakilkonna tail, I’ll be good to go.Assaberry cakes

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

Creating Fantasy Food

Ginger Cakes

Food is a vital part of life. It’s a major component in social interaction. It’s expressive of culture. And, let’s face it, we have to eat to live.

The characters in fantasy worlds are no different. They have to eat, and what they eat depends on where they live, their economic status, their culture, their personal preferences, and what time of year it is. Just like in our world.

The easiest way to create fantasy foods is to take something from our world and change the name of the dish or some of the ingredients. Easy-peasy.

However, if you’re more adventurous, you can create recipes for your world. These can be anything from typical meals to holiday delights. Mix ingredients you’ve never considered and have fun with it. Some of the dishes will be awesomely yummy, while others might be…well…more appropriate for the demons.

This was one of the things I enjoyed most about creating Grevared. There was an entire world full of different cultures, with a plethora of plants and animals that don’t exist in our world, to play with. The trick was finding our world equivalents for what I wanted to do.

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Tips for Creating Fantasy Food

  1. Decide what grows and lives in your world. I know this sounds like common sense, but knowing what plants and animals exist in your world and deciding on their ‘our world’ equivalent is important. For example, the assaberry is a common fruit all over Grevared. It’s used in Yuletide cooking, drinks, and candies. But what is it? My description of the plant is “common in all parts of Grevared except the Shizzuria Wasteland, the assaberry has small, bluish-green leaves and deep maroon berries. It has a sweet taste and is used in baking and pies.” Now, a raspberry would probably work, but I want something else. I’m still working on the ‘something else’, but there are several combinations I’m considering.
  2. Explore and expand. Fantasy food doesn’t have to be restricted to baked goods, though, for me, that’s what’s easiest. Creating main dishes is even more fun. Take talakilkonna tail, for instance. (A talakilkonna is an eight-foot-tall bipedal turtle-like creature common to the Sea of Sands in Moirena.) This is a dish favored by the demons, so it’s taking some thought. I want it to be edible, but, at the same time, not something your average human is going to pick up to munch on. I have some ideas for this, too, but getting the primary ingredient is proving difficult. I’m hoping to locate what I need soon.
  3. Be consistent with what’s available to your characters. Empire Delight is a cake made from a pudding base with typical Christmas spices added to it, while Rada’ke Cakes are made with pancake mix. While there’s nothing strange (to us) about the ingredients, I chose things that would mirror the cultures that created the dishes. The Xaggarene Empire is somewhat technologically advanced with strong trade and plenty of variety, while the Shizzuria Wasteland is frozen and supplies are limited. That being the case, Empire Delight is a three layer cake, while Rada’ke cakes are simple desserts made with few ingredients.
  4. Know the culture that created the dish. This is extremely important if you want to keep your cultures consistent. A people based primarily in the desert is going to have a much more limited diet than those who live in the forest. Likewise, those in cities with restaurants and markets are going to have access to ingredients that those in small towns won’t. Those with a religious background that forbids meat or alcohol aren’t likely to indulge in those foods.
  5. Have a strong stomach and an expanded grocery budget. Not all recipes will work, so having a strong stomach may be required. I discovered this with Melon Peckers and Nutty Fluffies. I still haven’t figured them out. And while breaking your budget on ingredients isn’t a necessity, you will have to purchase things to experiment with.

Creating fantasy food is one of the most enjoyable parts of creating a fantasy world, and it can add depth to the world you’re creating. If you’re one of those who likes to play in the kitchen, it can also give you more insight into the world and cultures that you’re bringing to life. Not to mention that it can improve your cooking skills.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

It’s Alive!!! Sorry, live.

Path End Title Middle ShadowsI’m pleased to announce that the rewrites for The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley are complete. All three books are now live on multiple platforms.

The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley: Path’s End

Ethan has finally settled in to his life as a Shadow Walker. Sure, he has to attend school, but with classes like combat, it isn’t too bad. On top of that, he’s made friends, so his life isn’t lonely or boring.

As Yuletide approaches, Ethan is looking forward to going home to see his family. And the best part? His friends are going with him.

After a harrowing trip across the void, Ethan finds himself once again at home. But nothing is how he left it. His best friends don’t take to his new friends, and his mother wants him to leave the Shadow Walkers. To make matters worse, Cronus again rears his head, and Ethan and his Shadow Walker friends must deal with the threat on their own.

A Bit of a Conundrum-Adult, YA, or Both?

Starshine Cover PurpleI’ve been playing around with the idea of The Hidden Roads, a series originally intended for adults. However, I’ve got an idea for a YA version, and I’m torn between having two of them, one for adults and one for YA, and making just one series that’s YA. It really wouldn’t be that difficult to make the adult character a bit younger and add her to the YA idea I have. The stories would gel nicely and add another dimension to the YA story. Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the adult one (unedited). Thoughts on which way to go would be appreciated.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

The land was what mattered to Gemma. It always had. The way the pines and oaks cast dancing shadows over rolling hills had given her immeasurable pleasure. The scent of rain on fresh-turned earth had wrapped her in peace, and a silver moon nestled in a bed of stars had filled her with joy. She would speak for hours on the growth of a single sprout, and Serenity couldn’t remember ever seeing the woman without dirt stains on some part of her clothing.

But that was then.

Serenity sighed as she switched off her beat up Ford Tempo. She propped her hands on the steering wheel for a moment and simply stared out the windshield.

The house was the same as it always had been. A simple structure of wooden slats with a large wrap-around porch and flowers planted in beds at its base, it had been Gemma’s refuge from a world she didn’t understand.

“I wish I’d come when she asked,” Serenity muttered to herself.

Gemma had asked Serenity to come and live with her several years before, but Serenity had refused, determined to make it on her own. She’d spent enough of the previous twenty years being told she was a failure, not ambitious enough. When her world had ended, she determined she would not become dependent. On anyone.

“Yeah, ‘cause that worked out so well.” Serenity blew her bangs out of her face. “Idiot.”

Serenity climbed from the car and grabbed her backpack from the backseat. She shouldered the bag and stepped up onto the porch. A tear slid from her eye as she realized Gemma wouldn’t greet her with a smile and a song. Not anymore. Gemma had disappeared six months before. No note. Nothing missing. No sign of her since. And her sisters had determined she was never coming back.