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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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

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.

New Release! Tainted Victory

Hi all!

I’m pleased to announce that Tainted Victory, book two in The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley, is now live. Need something for your middle grade student to read on that last summer vacation? Check out Ethan’s adventures. You can find out more about them at http://www.lissadobbs.com.

Coming from the small town of Land’s End at the southern tip of Moirena, Ethan has no idea what to make of the hustle and bustle of Ymla in Corleon. Narrow, crowded streets and horse-drawn trolleys are things he’s never seen before.
Then there’s the guild itself. A common room with billiards tables and Fizzy Drinks and the freedom to come and go as he pleases are things Ethan’s never experienced.
But his new life isn’t all fun and games.
On the day of Ethan’s arrival, the guild hall is attacked by harpies. No one knows who sent them or why, but the students are banned from investigating. A second attack, however, has his fellow Shadow Walkers wondering if Ethan is the target. Never one to ignore his curiosity, Ethan and his new friends take to the streets of Ymla to get to the bottom of the attacks, but when he finds out the truth, Ethan wishes he’d left it alone.

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

 

Melon Peckers – Trial and Error

Kiwano FruitI’m a big one on world-building. It is, in fact, one of my favorite things to do. That being the case, I love to come up with recipes for foods and drinks mentioned in my books.

The Melon Peckers and Nutty Fluffies mentioned by Timothy and Justin in Wolf in the Shadow have given me particular issues. I just haven’t been able to come up with anything that seemed like it would work. After all, exotic and ‘not of this world’ or not, I still want them to be edible. Mostly.

I think I’ve finally come up with something that might work for the Melon Peckers.

Ingredients:

1 lb watermelon (seeds removed)

1 kiwano melon (seeds removed)

2 tsp lemon juice

1 c brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 c club soda

vodka (optional)

mint leaves for garnish

crushed ice

Puree the fruit until smooth. Add lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar and blend. Add club soda and vodka. Pour over crushed ice and garnish with mint leaves.

This is still in the early phases of development. I’m trying to decide if I want to try it with dragon fruit or not. I think it would be interesting.

If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

 

Getting Settled Update

2017052295133200_2 (2)The last couple of months have been a bit nuts with my youngest graduating and us moving to another state, one we’d never even visited, but I think most of the craziness is finished, and we’re settling down. I’m hoping this will mean I can get back to writing and getting some kind of regular schedule for the blog.

One of the things I would like to do is work on a new story a bit at a time. This is a YA story with a plot similar to The Little Mermaid, or at least the general idea. You guys will get it in its raw, unvarnished form and are free to comment and make suggestions. I’m also thinking about tossing out a choose your own adventure kind of story. Would anyone be interested in that? Please comment if so.

Any other suggestions of what you would like to see here would be appreciated.

As always, best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

Character Thoughts – Ethan Grimley III

SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

final-cover-with-bookThose who’ve read The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III know that Ethan can be a bit strong-willed. He also has a certain disregard for the rules when it suits him, especially when he thinks he’s doing the right thing. The first time we see this is in A Walker is Born when Ethan skips school and disobeys his mother to check on Damion. Needless to say, his mother has four kinds of hissy fits, but Ethan just jumps right back at her. After all, he doesn’t understand why she worries so much about him. In Cronus Attacks Ethan takes off out the door when the Shadow Walker guild hall is attacked even though the students are ordered to remain indoors. He does it again when Faylen is taken, and it is because of Ethan and his friends that Cronus is defeated.

Much of Ethan’s behavior can be chalked up to childhood recklessness. From the perspective of an adult who’s raised three boys, I can understand how the adults around Ethan would want to keep him and the others safe. They’re children after all. On the other hand, I wonder if we keep our children too safe, keep them too shielded from the world around them. We have this idea that everyone gets a trophy and that no one should fail, but is this fair to the kids? Do they benefit from being raised in this environment?

From a parental perspective, I can understand not wanting your child to carry the weapon of a god, and I can understand wanting to keep him safe. Mine are grown, but come for them. I dare you. However, I can also see the wisdom of letting the children figure things out for themselves. I can understand how Ethan would feel that he was capable of handling the situation himself because I felt like I knew what I was doing at that age. (Doesn’t mean I did know, but I felt like I did.) I was quite capable of analyzing a situation and deciding on a course of action. I didn’t need someone standing over me telling me what to do every minute of every day. In fact, what I needed more than anything was for folks to back off and let me figure it out.

I think this is one of the things I try to portray with Ethan and his friends. The decisions Ethan has to make are his and his alone. No one can tell him whether to accept Gaia’s gift or not, and determining how to fight an enemy that is coming for him is knowledge he needs to have. You don’t get it in the classroom, regardless of what the subject is. I’m surely not encouraging students to skip school and the like, but I think there are times when we, as adults, need to back off and let them figure it out. Our children need to be able to enter the adult world knowing they can handle it. Will that happen if we hold their hands until they’re thirty? Do we want them to go out into the world frozen as Electa is so much of the time?

How much freedom of decision do you think children should have?

http://www.lissadobbs.com

I Finally Found It

One of the joys of packing to move, the only one, is finding things you thought you’d lost. Those who’ve read my interviews know that I got hooked on writing because of a fourth grade project. Well, I finally found the book, as pathetic as it is. I still can’t draw, but I’d like to think my writing has improved since then. 

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com