Getting Started in the New Year

IMG_20171208_162057We’ve completed the first week of the new year, and I have to say I can’t complain. I hope everyone else is having a wonderful start.

Those who’ve been around a while know that I’m a folklore and mythology junkie, and I did a post a couple of weeks ago about my reading traditions for the holiday season.

We have a lot of traditions for the holiday season, and many of them originated from our ancestors’ desire to ward off the cold of winter and revitalize the world, particularly crops and animals, come spring. There are also a good many traditions whose original purpose was to protect against the creatures that roamed the darkness. A plethora of gods and demons were active during the dark, winter months, and any of these could cause difficulty for those who lived during that time.

In our modern world, we look at a lot of the superstitions of old as silly and ridiculous, beliefs of those who simply weren’t smart enough to know better, but I’ve found myself realizing that there is value in these beliefs–they offer us mystery and magic in a world where none seems to exist.

monster-773309_1920Think about it… We have TV shows like Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and many others that offer us a glimpse into a world that our science tells us isn’t real. Yet, even though we may scoff at the possibility of monsters, ghosts, and demons, we still watch the shows. Why?

Because, at the end of the day, the possibility of these beings touches something within us that we’ve lost with our modern world. We’ve lost the ability to wonder and to be amazed. Most of us can’t even look up at the stars and wonder anymore because of city glow. We can’t walk in the wilderness because there’s little of it left. Our amazement comes from the capabilities of the newest electronic and not from the possibility of what may exist beyond our five-sense perception. We no longer connect to the parts of ourselves that lurk just beneath the surface of everyday life, the part that makes us one with the world around us.

I really started thinking about all this during the holidays when I realized that, while the decorations were pretty, there wasn’t any sense of anticipation about the holidays, it was just another day of things to do that really didn’t have much meaning beyond cooking and buying presents. Reading about older holiday traditions helped to bring meaning to this year’s series of special days.

IMG_20171201_230859So, out of all the resolutions I could make for the new year, I think what I’d like to do more than anything else is to slow down a bit, spend more time in nature, and do my best to remember why the days we celebrate matter. I resolve to find the mystery and magic again, both in the world around me and within myself.

What do you resolve to do for this year?

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs



Charles Yallowitz–Legends of Windemere

Warlord of the Forgotten Age 2Thank you to Lissa for letting me write a post for her blog and helping to promote Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age. With this being the final volume of my fantasy adventure series, I’ve looked back at some of the influences.

One of the biggest ones has been mythologies and folklore, which I went to when it came to designing the Windemere pantheon and monsters. A few minor characters took names from mythology that I liked and it helped forge their personalities, but it had a bigger impact on the world building side of things. This is fairly common in fantasy too with some authors being more blatant than others. I’d put myself in the middle since I always tried to put my own twist on certain things. Still, I can’t deny that mythology had a hand in the creation of Windemere, so I’ll fess up and explain the major areas.


When I was creating the gods and goddess of Windemere, I looked to Greek mythology to get ideas on how they should act. Fantasy stories tend to have either a multitude of deities for each race that have a clear influence or talk about a small amount that people aren’t sure ever existed. When I saw how often the Olympians got involved in mortal affairs, I wanted to go for that type of world. The gods and goddesses clearly exist because people have seen them and they show up at times. Yet, there was still one really big problem. What’s the point of having heroes and villains if gods are mucking about and can get things done themselves?

The answer came from other stories where mortals turned against the gods and threatened or even killed them. I imagined that happening to the scale where these powerful immortals that control the world are made to feel vulnerable and weak for the first time in their existence. Those who survived would think about how it came about and new gods that ascended from the ranks of mortals would implement the Law of Influence. Now, they have to work through mortal agents and visions. Getting physically involved is a risk and punishable by being sealed for whatever time is deemed necessary. In this case, I looked at what mythology did and created an answer to the problem of gods getting involved in everything.


Mythology is filled with large events that explain the creation of the world and various natural occurrences. I wondered if ancient people looked at these as history instead of fiction like we do today. Okay, I didn’t get struck by a lightning bolt, so we can continue. This thought led me to create several big events that changed the world and are talked about by the characters in the same way we discuss our history. These have a magical taste to it like the Great Cataclysm that altered the entire face of Windemere or the ancient Race War where the 8 great dragons pitted the lesser species against each other. Every major event required that I take at least a peek at mythology to see if there was anything I could work with to give me some extra inspiration.


This is actually the big one because mythology is chock full of beasties that can suit every fantasy author’s need. I did design my own creatures for some scenes, but those are typically throwing animal parts together until you get something functional. I have this sudden hunger for hot dogs now. Weird. Anyway, I have a book called ‘The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures’ and I crack that open whenever I’m having trouble with a monster. Sometimes I take the whole thing while other times I use the name and design around it. The thing with mythology is that it isn’t as detailed here as your audience might want you to be. You really only get the appearance, eating habits, and a few other tidbits. Even then, you could run into multiple versions of the same critter.

The best example is one of my favorite monsters to use. I didn’t have to do much research for the Griffin/Griffon/Gryphon because it’s fairly popular. People always know that these monsters have the head/front body/rear body of an eagle and the head/front body/rear body of a lion. I mean, they’re the size of a lion/small horse/mini-van/it’s carrying an elephant, so they’re hard to miss. Think there’s even a type that has a serpentine tail, which might be someone getting it mixed up with a manticore. That’s another thing with monsters in mythology. You get a lot of overlapping of appearances and themes. Just look at how similar manticores, griffins, hippogriffs, and the chimera. After all the physical decisions, I give my griffins a few magical abilities and released them into the world. Just another altered addition to an already confusing stable of flying cats with extra parts.

Just to sum stuff up in case I rambled too much, mythology is a great resource and not only for fantasy stories. It’s a fairly popular topic, which you can connect to characters in other genres through names, conversations, and comparisons to situations that they’re in. You can also get some inspiration for dysfunctional families because many pantheons have some messed up relations. One could say mythology is the ancestor of fiction, so we might as well treat it like a resource.

Again, I’d like to thank Lissa for letting me write a post for her blog. Please feel free to check out Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age and enjoy the adventure.


Author Bio & Social Media

Author PhotoCharles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.






All cover art done by JASON PEDERSEN


Catch the rest of the LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE on Amazon!

Announcing My 2018 Interview Series

Author Don Massenzio


With the new year, I’m announcing a re-vamped author interview series. During the past two years, I have interviewed nearly 200 authors and have compiled these interviews into an author directory. I would like to add to this list in 2018.

My current plan is to post one author interview per week on Fridays. I have a new set of questions that should give your readers deeper insight into your writing process. Since I’m limiting these interviews to one per week (a maximum of 52) I will be spending more time making them look good to help you drive more readers to your work.

These interviews are open to those of you that have participated previously. If you have something to promote or just want to increase your exposure across a new group of followers, please come and participate. Please feel free to share this post with your…

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Holiday Reading

IMG_20171208_182313I’ve gotten away from books and writing over the past couple of weeks, so I think it’s time to bring that back into focus.

This time of year, I love reading books about the holidays. One of my favorites is The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. This is always the first one I read each holiday season. L. Frank Baum tells the story of Santa’s life. It isn’t the traditional story, if there really is one, and it takes place in Oz.

Santa begins life as an abandoned baby taken in by the nymph, Necile, in the forest of Burzee. He grows up among the immortals and doesn’t know there are others like himself until the Great Ak takes him on a tour of the world. Once he learns that he is part of the human race, he decides he will serve them and leave the protection of Burzee. It’s a great tale, full of fun and imagination, and one I highly recommend for seasonal reading.

Another favorite of mine is A Christmas Carol. Yes, I’m aware that there are hundreds of variations of this story, and I watch them all. Every year. I try to see one movie a day for the entire Christmas season, but I also read the book at least once. It, too, is one of my favorite, must-have holiday books. I love the creep factor Dickens wove into the tale. Sure, it’s a Christmas classic, but it’s also a horror story that slithers into your blood and rattles your bones. It’s a wonderful ending to the reading I begin in October with Frankenstein, Dracula, and the like.

I also enjoy writing holiday books, and have two that take place during the Yuletide season. One is The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III: Revenge of Cronus, and the other is A Gift from Sir Klaus. Both are available from Amazon, though A Gift from Sir Klaus is currently only available in paperback. I also have a short story for adults called “Yuletide Sparkle.” I’m thinking of working on a few more, but not for this season.

What are some of your favorite holiday reads? Share with us and help us find something new.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs


Wolf in the Shadow Got 5 Stars!

Thin Book no backgroundThanks so much for the 5-star Amazon review for Wolf in the Shadow! It’s nice to hear when someone enjoys one of my books.

In other news, there’s a new Yuletide recipe on my website. This is a fun part of the world-building for me, and it helps me to get in the right head space to really work in the world. I think it adds something to the reality of a fictional world if there are everyday things, like recipes, to think about. None of mine are that complicated because I’m not a master chef; I just like to play in the kitchen. So, kick back with some rada’ke cakes and enjoy your Yuletide season.

Rada’ke Cakes

In 5168 AOP, Steamreach Coal set up operations and brought humans to an area that had been sparsely inhabited by other creatures. The workers came from the Xaggarene Empire, Moirena, and Corleon, and the traditions that had always sustained them soon morphed into a culture all its own. Most people meet in taverns on the eve of Yuletide for community-wide parties that carry far into Yuletide morn. Gifts tend to be handmade or practical in nature and are exchanged among friends as much as family. There are few private celebrations of this holiday in the Shizzuria Wasteland, though there are those who prefer to be alone.

Ginger CakesRada’ke is a cheap Yuletide dessert popular in the mining towns of the Shizzuria Wasteland. Since many of the miners have little to spare, their holiday lacks the opulence seen in other parts of Grevared. The main Yuletide meal consists of game, preserved fruits and vegetables, and rough bread made from what little flour can be spared. As work tends to continue, regardless of the day, celebrations are short but intense.

Rada’ke is a chewy, cake-like treat topped with a piece of dried or candied fruit. The fruit varies depending on what is available.


1 ½ c premade, add water pancake mix

½ c dark brown sugar

½ – 1 c water

Candied fruit of your choice

1-2 teaspoons ginger paste

1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ – ½ teaspoon ground cloves

1-2 teaspoons vanilla

¼ – ½ c self-rising flour


  1. Preheat over to 350°.
  2. Grease baking sheet.
  3. Combine pancake mix, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a bowl. Add ginger paste and vanilla. (The amount of spices depends on taste.)
  4. Add water a little at a time until you have a very soft dough. The consistency should be a touch softer than spritz cookie dough. If you add too much water, add flour until the dough is the right consistency. (I used flour in mine.)
  5. Mix well.
  6. Spoon or spritz dough onto greased baking sheet (the dough will not hold its shape well). Add a piece of dried or candied fruit to the top of each one.
  7. Bake 10-15 minutes until the edges are a darker brown. Cake will be springy.


Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

Stress-Free Holiday (and We Got Snow!)

IMG_20171208_162057I’ve was always one of those people who loved the hustle and bustle from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I didn’t even think about getting gifts before the turkey had been carved, eaten, and put away. I loved diving into the day after Thanksgiving, not so much for the deals but for the experience of it all.

I got over it.

Several years ago, I figured out that getting everything done in advance made the season much more enjoyable. I started getting the gifts early and had them ready to wrap as soon as the tree went up. I discovered, too, that this eased some of the financial burden, the one thing I really hated about the holidays.

This year is no different. Everything’s decorated and wrapped, and now I just have to bake the goodies as we want them and watch cartoons. I love it! I’ve also found that I have more time to write doing things this way. Being a winter junkie, I’m far more productive when the weather gets cold.

IMG_20171208_173610And to make things even better, we got snow. Now, I know some folks are from the northern climates that see lots of the white stuff, but where I live snow before January, and even then, is rare. Loving it! It’s a nice change of pace, and I was able to focus on writing and just watch the snow fall. It was awesome!

How do you prepare for the holidays? What are your secrets to getting things done without stress?

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs


Getting Ready for the Holidays

IMG_20171201_230859The holiday season is in full swing, and I think we’ve gotten everything ready at the homeplace. The tree’s up, the gifts are wrapped, and the stockings are hung. I think we’ve watched all the classic Christmas cartoons at least once and are starting on the second round.

There have been times in the past when the holiday season seemed to be far more work than it was worth, but this year feels a bit different. There isn’t as much running to do anymore, and my work schedule allows us to go out and participate in some of the community activities. For the first time in years, we were able to see the parade. It wasn’t a fancy thing like the Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it was nice to finally get to see a hometown parade again. Hopefully, there will be other activities to do over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, we’ll continue our tradition of watching movies and cartoons and picking from our advent box. This is something we started several years ago. We wrap a large box and cut a hole in the top. It’s filled with small gifts of nothing much–candy bars and gum, silly toys, stocking stuffers–and we reach in and take something each night from December 1 thru December 24. When the box is empty, it’s Christmas. Granted, my children are mostly grown now, but it’s still a fun thing to do together in the evenings. W

IMG_20171202_101256I hope everyone has a joyous season, regardless of which holiday you celebrate, and remember to do what you can for those less fortunate. Even the smallest gesture performed with pure intention can mean the world to someone else.

Have a wonderful season with family and friends, and feel free to share the traditions you value most.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

Getting Back on the Horse

I’ve always loved making things, whimsical bits of nothing much just to brighten the day a bit. But for the past few years, I haven’t done much crafting. I used to make dollhouse miniatures and intricate crochet pieces like the ones below. 

In more recent years, I haven’t had a lot of time or energy, but I’ve never lost my love of making things. 

I finally decided that enough was enough and pulled out a few small things to play with. I haven’t gone full-tilt back into it yet, but I’m making small things and contemplating what I want to do next. There’s a part of me that likes the simplicity of the pioneer rag dolls, and a part of me that wants to go out and clear the clay aisle at the craft store and get back to tiny donuts. 

We’ll see where it goes. 😊

As always, best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs