Archive | March 2009

An Interview with Du

It's Drollerie Blog Tour Time, and I'm pleased to present an interview with Du from Meredith Holmes' story Unseelie.

For my own character's part, Ted Finch is over at Fraser Sherman's place, in case you want to see what he's up to. He's the "hero" of Sister Night, Sister Moon, my novella that appears in Things that Go Bump in the Night.

But, ahem, without further adieu... here's Du!

1. Tell me about what you think is the most pressing issue between the Seelie and Unseelie courts.

Well, now that's a tough call... I mean, we're both ancient, both powerful... but I see the key issue as being the Seelie Court are a bunch of gits and prats. But if I had to be, er, polite about such things I'd say the biggest issue is that the Unseelie Court rather enjoys existing and the Seelie Court would rather us not.

2. How did you and Cadfael meet?

I think we've always known each other, some days. We met when I was a stripling and he was fresh from the school room. Little prince, he was, and I was raising seven shades of mischief. Neither of us were old enough to have a beard yet but we became fast companions the day I was dragged into Mabd's chambers for a dressing down after I let loose the cattle from the Royal Stables. Cadfael thought it was a fine jape and I had to agree... He was the only thing between me and a tanned hide. The Queen decided that I could do with a 'proper upbringing' and before I knew it, I was officially Cadfael's companion. I'm now his Right Hand and official unofficial body guard.

3. Readers of the interview will want to know. What do you look for in a romantic interest?

*laughs* Passion, adventure, someone who isn't boring... Beauty. Not the golden beauty of Loreli but something more. I want... I want someone who would not hesitate to draw a blade for me, someone I would gladly take a blade for. Was that too serious? I also appreciate a fine bosom, a healthy head for ale and mead and a love of nature. And she can't be allergic to cats.

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Progress and Hulder

Since I did a lot of time squandering alternative career building at work today, I will have to concentrate on the tasks at hand tomorrow, among them examining Rosetta Stone, and setting up the English Language Acquisition graduation. So...you get tomorrow's posts tonight!

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First my own stuff. I whacked the second version of the beginning of the story, but I replaced it with the keeper. I'm surprised that Old Nick turns out to be a bit effeminate and intellectual. That's not what I was expecting at all! The Widow, though, she as scary a story book ogre as you could want. So, I finally have my beginning for real. I'll buff up the description later. My goal for tomorrow night is to show the Widow's cave and her goals for the Princess Marion. I want a Rapunzel/witch vibe. We also will introduce the second of two hulder characters.

7070 / 90000 words. 8% done!

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What, you may well ask, is a hulder? Well, that's complicated. Scandinavian trolls started out as these big, scary, rocky foes of the Nordic gods. As the centuries progressed, some of them remained big and scary, while others of them became cuter and smaller. Some cultures call them all trolls, and some cultures call them all hulder.

In my book, the big tough trolls are my heroes. The little trolls are going to be hulder. Have you ever bought the troll dolls? We're not talking that cute, but I want some small wild Nordic invisibles (which is what the Scandinavians call their faerie folk generically).

Trolls and hulderactivities range from downright evil (eating people; killing people) to nice (marrying people and taking good care of them; returning lost babies) It strikes me that we can give them a wide range of behaviors, rather than only big, stupid, and ugly.

You D&D players, stop yer stereotypin'!

There are some other faeries that are specific to Norway, and next folklore entry I'll talk about nissestories, which are not as cool as milk folklore, but still pretty cool.

Catherine

Thinking about Word Count

If you think that I'm writing another journal entry just to procrastinate on some really important things that I need to get done at work...well, okay, you're right, but the thing is that I've been reflecting on this, and I think it might be important to say it.

Did you ever get seduced by your word count meter? You know, the beautiful shiny number that increases constantly as you add words you're not certain of the quality of, even though you are certain of the quantity? Did you ever feel that your word count was the most important thing about your writing process? Did you ever feel guilty or bad on days you didn't produce much, even though you planned, researched, or brainstormed? Did you ever feel wretched on those days that you edited out scenes that weren't working, and your word count went lower?

I myself am guilty of most of the above crimes. And I'm here to tell you that the last two days have been an epiphany and a reminder that word count doesn't, well, count. I've spent one day brainstorming and imagining, jotting down rough notes and ideas. Last night I wrote the first draft of an outline for my story that I will revisit as the story shifts, but like the Cylons, now I have a plan.

My story is a lot more real to me than it was now, and I feel I have more direction. I'm excited to write the scenes I see in my mind, the new characters I have created, and the ways in which all the elements will come together.

And I couldn't have done it without you, planning days. READ: days I did not add to my word count.

So, I'll probably fall into the trap of worshiping my word count again. We are an achievement culture, after all. But while I am in this state of writer nirvana, I say to you that some days you've got to do other things than worry about accumulation.

Catherine

Title for Troll Book

At the gym this morning as Bryon and I circled the track, we brainstormed some titles for the troll book.

My favorite un-useables:

Rock against Thugs
Rocks and Minerals of Eastern Iowa
Troll Breaks Scissors
For Whom the Bell Trolls

And one that might be it, because it sounds like a folktale, although it's a little long:

The Winter the Troll Danced with Old Nick

At any rate, we'll let them simmer for a bit.

Tomorrow--Drollerie Blog tour! I host Meredith Holmes character Du from Unseelie.

Later, some word count.

Catherine

The Folklore of Milk

It's been a busy day for industrious little writers everywhere.

First of all, here's the next installment of Blood is Thicker than Water.

I've finished the outline of The Troll Story, so now I have some structure. Some things will change as some of these characters develop their personalities, and go places I don't expect, but I'm pleased with the cast and I think this will help. I'll return to word counts tomorrow.

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The folklore of milk is the most fascinating piece of Scandinavian folklore to me. I think that the cow and milk products must have been an incredibly important food source for these people, because they are VERY concerned about who might be getting their milk. I like this folklore so much, I'm going to use it in the book. And here we go...

Witches are very canny about getting milk from far away. They can milk a cow by plunging a knife into a post, and then milking the knife. Witches had to be careful about how much milk they took, because if they took too much milk, they would milk blood, and the cow would die.

If a witch churned butter, it looked like normal butter, but if you put your knife into it, it would come out covered in blood. Mmmm, mmmm! However, some farmers are reputed to have eaten witch butter, and they survived just fine.

The other surreptitious way witches would steal your milk was to employ a troll cat. This was a small furry ball that would come to your pasture, gorge itself on milk, and then roll itself, full, back to the witch. You could tell your cows were visited by a troll cat if you found troll cat vomit upchucked and left behind by an engorged troll cat.

You could catch the witch by burning a troll cat. The witch would show up sweaty and thirsty, and you'd know it was her. Then you could punish her accordingly.

I suppose that witches had real concerns about osteoporosis, and that might explain their actions.

Our next folklore moment will explore the hulder, as we get into the chapter about the invisibles.

Catherine

Brainstorming Trollish Motivations

Today's writing session was about trying to make good gumbo. I worked on some notes about antagonists and character conflicts, and I will probably do that tomorrow. I finished my book on Scandinavian folktales, and I referenced some Norwegian names.

By the way, Norwegian names!

My favorite note for tonight: BAD TROLL HAG WITCH!

I'm also floating the idea in my subconscious that mebbe Old Nick Scratch should be in the stories...because his legends are boss!

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You say you want more folklore?

Let's talk about

Magic Shot: Magic that is sent in the form of vapor or a swarm from far away to hit a target.

Finn Shot: The same, except sent by a Finn, whom everyone know is an eerie or suspicious outsider, and therefore suspect.

Elf Shot: The same, except sent by one of the invisibles (the name for the supernatural Scandinavian creatures.)

Next time, and I kid you not, the politics/folklore of milk!

Catherine

A Conversation with Tamara Siler Jones

The March book for the Mindbridge Book Group was Tamara Siler Jones' Ghosts in the Snow. Tammy was kind enough to answer questions for our group, and here's the interview. Find out more about Tammy and her writing at her website.

1. How long have you been writing?

I've been writing professionally since I sold Ghosts in the Snow in 2003. However, I've been writing regularly since I was seven or eight, so that'd be about 1972, and wrote my first novel when I was 14 (1978 or 1979)

2. Tell us the story of how Dubric came to print.

I've had the universe Dubric exists in for a long, long time, maybe 25-30 years, and he was actually a pretty minor character in the whole epic thing. Anyway, I got an idea that Dubric needed to solve a serial crime. Dubric has a rather long life, so then I decided that it needed to be during the courtship of Risley and Nella. That gave me the time and place and other characters present, as well as the political and socioeconomic realities in play. Once those things were settled. i just stated writing and the novel became its own force, its own entity. So here we are.

3. Are you planning any more Dubric Byerly mysteries?

Yes. I'm planing on about seven books in the series, total.

4. What sorts of stories are you working now?

A bunch! I have the fourth Dubric novel (Stain of Corruption) a SF Horror (SPORE), a couple of mainstream thrillers (as yet untitled) and a YA first person story with a working title of 'Paul' that will almost certainly be called something totally different. I have no idea where it's going but I really like its voice and structure.

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Scandinavian Folklore: Issues of the Dead

More folklore! Tonight, facts about the dead.

1. Evil souls are heavier than good souls. If you're really evil, the horses can't pull your funeral hearse.
2. Dead folks will come back to visit lovers and children, so you have to use rituals to keep these dead folks away, because they can hurt you.
3. Revenants will come back for justice and revenge. If you wrong someone in life, you can expect a vengeance visit in death. You can also separate the bones of the dead, and receive a visit from a revenant.
4. Revenants can come back for friendly, helpful reasons as well.
5. Ghosts are impersonal, and usually not people you know. They will attack you and make you sick, but only because that's what they do, and not because of malicious intent.
6. Greed is considered the worst of sins, and the souls of the greedy are doomed to walk the earth.
7. Mothers are often haunted by babies they have killed out of wedlock, secretly.
8. Boundary ghosts make sure that land thefts do not occur, and will haunt boundary stones and borders.

It's interesting to see a culture's priorities in regard to its undead.

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6809 / 90000 words. 8% done!

Tonight, faerie godmothers in tea rooms. Oh, so stubbly and rough! Tomorrow, the antagonists need to show up.

Scandinavian Folklore: The Fylgie

There are a couple of different names for the manifestation of the hug as a visual in Scandinavian Folklore. Your hug can show up to announce your death, or it can show up to tell people you are on your way home.

One of the most interesting manifestations is the fylgie. This is the manifestation of your soul as an accompanying animal. For example, if you are a tricky person, and someone who is sensitive to supernatural detail sees you, they may see you accompanied by a fox. The fox isn't real. It's a fylgie.

Potter fans, does this sound like a patronus to you? Golden Compass people, is this where Pullman found his daemons? Iiiinteresting.

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One other thing today: Finns and Lapps are thought to be more inherently magical than the other Scandinavians. While there are witches and wizards from all the countries in the folklore, these nationalities have the most magical citizens.

See you with the writing meter later on.

Catherine

Troll Progress, Scandinavian Folklore

First the progress. This looks like a lot, but realize that I imported four troll scenes wholesale from Gossamer and Veridian. However, I *did* ditch the 900-odd words I wrote on Tuesday, and replaced them with 1400, so I haven't exactly rested on past laurels.

5496 / 90000 words. 6% done!

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Today I was reading more folklore while Margot turned me back into someone with short hair. Here is some interesting, shorter trivia.

Elske--the feeling of longing you have for someone far away. How your hug is affected.

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Women can reduce their pain in childbirth if they crawl through the caul (afterbirth) of a foal. However, the children born thereafter are disfigured supernaturally.

If the child is a girl, the girl becomes a mare, a night creature that steals your breath and your soul when you sleep.

If the child is a boy, he simply becomes a werewolf.

Next up: the fylgie.