#Heroika: Skirmishers – Interviews – Sean Poage and His Characters #Meetanauthor

Name (Mandatory) Sean Poage

Give us a brief synopsis of your story – A Handful of Salt

At the dawn of the fourth century, BC, Cyrus the Younger hired an army of ten thousand Greek mercenaries to challenge his brother for the throne of the Persian Empire. His Greeks were victorious, but he was slain and the Greeks were stranded deep inside the Persian Empire without supplies. Their only way home was to fight their way north through the mountains of eastern Turkey to the Black Sea, as described through the eyes of one of their leaders, Xenophon.

It is considered one of the greatest feats of military history and has often been recounted and reimagined, but never through the eyes of their adversaries, the Persians, or the ancestral tribes of eastern Turkey. One event, in particular, is haunting and tragic. Today we struggle to understand the mind-set of ancient cultures, often making the mistake of seeing their world through the filter of our own values. This story is an attempt to understand a heroic perspective alien to our own.

  • Why did you choose that time period/group of people to write about?

I love ancient history and the Anabasis is fascinating, but there is not much left to say about it from the Greek side of the story. However, no one has done a piece from the point of view of the Anatolian tribes that the Greeks encountered as they struggled to get home. Why did these tribes continually attack the Greeks? Why did one village commit mass suicide when the Greeks came too close?

  • What research did you do for the story?

I always do a lot of research for my stories. The Anabasis, of course, is the primary text. I also had to determine the most likely route, which is still in dispute. Then I had determine the most likely location for the events of my story, determine the tribe that lived there, what they called themselves, how they related to their neighbours, to the Persians and so on. I love this stuff.

  • How would you define a Skirmisher?

A skirmisher is typically a lightly armed soldier who relies on speed and manoeuvrability to be effective in battle, rather than heavy armour and weapons. While the goal of heavy infantry is to come to close battle with the enemy and slog it out, skirmishers try to outmanoeuvre the enemy, hit and run, break up enemy formations, wear down the heavy soldiers and win in the long game.

  • What are the challenges in writing historical fiction/fantasy?

For me, it is getting each detail right. I can’t bear to bend history to my story. If I include it, it must be factual, or at least plausible to history.

  • What is your usual genre?

Historical fiction, so far, though I intend to do more in fantasy and scifi, eventually.

  • How do you define a hero?

To me, a hero is someone who freely and knowingly risks his or her own welfare for the benefit of another, without thought to any reward.

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?

Originally an astronaut. I was certain I would be NASA’s first kid in space. Apparently, they didn’t have my correct address. I wanted to write stories from my teens, but not much came of it. Now I am finally indulging that dream.

Character Section

1) Name Gocha

2) Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a seasoned warrior, husband and farmer. My wife and I have shared a difficult life, full of sorrows as well as blessings. Our circumstances in life have fallen low, but we have a fine heifer, two asses, some sheep and goats. But no children, anymore.

3) How do you come to be on this adventure?

Invaders from a distant land threaten our homes, so I must do my duty to protect them, and try to impart my experience on our young warriors.

4) Tell us a bit about the society in which you live

We are an ancient people, attuned to the rugged mountains of our ancestors. We sing, dance, tend our farms and pastures and raise our children to respect the ancient ways. We have no towns larger than a few dwellings, but impenetrable strongholds on the mountainsides. We wage no wars on those who leave us be, but we fight unto death against any who threaten us. The Taochi Never Submit is our creed, and never have we been conquered.

5) Are you brave?

What is bravery? Is it the thoughtless lack of fear? I have known dreadful fear, but have never shrunk from my duty.

6) How do others see you?

I do not care.

7) Do you believe in a god?

Of course. They have little to do with us mortals, but our ancestors are with us, always. They watch over us, judge us, and if we are worthy, will welcome us to their company when this life ends.

8) Do you love anyone? Do you hate anyone?

I love my wife, Bedisa. She is wise, kind, and stronger in spirit than anyone I have ever known. I love my loyal friend, Temur. I love my daughter, who I may not name since she has become a handmaiden to the Wife of the Dead. Or perhaps the Wife, herself. I love my three sons, who have already joined our ancestors. I hate no one.

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Sean Poage, has had an exciting and varied life, as a laborer, soldier, police officer, investigator, computer geek and author. Travelling the world to see history up close is his passion.

These days he works in the tech world, writes when he can, and spends the rest of the time with his family, which usually means chores and home improvement projects, with occasional time for a motorcycle ride, scuba dive, or a hike in the beautiful Maine outdoors.

 

 

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far-flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

Course Review – The Ancient Greeks – Coursera #History #Learning

The Ancient Greeks 

This is another interesting free course run via Coursera, created by The Wesleyan University and presented by Professor Andrew Szegedy-Maszak. It’s a good starting point with which to learn about some of the battles, significant persons, and events of Ancient Greece.

Over 7 weeks the course covers:

Prehistory to Homer

The Archaic Age (ca. 800-500 BCE)

Two City-States: Sparta and Athens

Democracy. The Persian Wars

“The Great 50 Years” (ca. 480-431 BCE)

The Peloponnesian War I

The End of the War, the End of the Century

We learn about Homer, Socrates, Thucydides, Critias, Herotodus, and the major players in the array of battles, laws, political systems and arrangements and shenanigans which went on during this important period in European history.   There is one video on women in Greek society but other than fairly brief mentions women and the lower classes aren’t discussed in detail (to be fair this IS a short course and there is not a lot of info remaining about the common man and woman in Greek society).

The course comprises of informative videos and reading. I have to confess I didn’t do much of the reading (partly as I’ve done some in the past and partly because I didn’t have a lot of time) and I would have got more out of this had I done so – my bad.

I’d recommend doing at least some of the readings, and watching all the videos. There are quizzes to be completed at the end of each section – and these count as the grading for the course so MUST be completed.

The tutor was very engaging, easy to listen to and obviously is very well informed on this historical era.  There were a couple of issues with sound quality – but I have found this an issue with Coursera before (but to be fair the course is free).

Coursera is a good way to pick up cheap or free ‘taster’ courses (One can pay for the course and gain a certificate – otherwise you can an acknowledgement of completion but no actual certificate. The cost of this is not much.)

Overall I enjoyed this and would certainly look out for more courses from this university and tutor.

4 stars.

 

 

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Meaghan Curley

Author name: Meaghan Curley

*Please tell us about your publications. So far my publications include a poem about how much I hate poetry in the Utica Writer’s Club Poetry volume, a short story titled “the CARF Crisis” in an international humor anthology titled Ellipsis, and my debut novel “Girl: Repurposed” published through Cosmic Teapot Publishers.

What first prompted you to publish your work? To be honest, I’ve been actively trying to get published since I was 16. This was actually the third manuscript I attempted to publish. Somehow I tricked Dylan [of Cosmic Teapot Publishing] into publishing my work haha.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Rejection, hands down. I internalized the crap out of all the rejections, especially in the beginning when I was attempting to land a literary agent and it was just nope after nope after nope nope nope.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?  Give me a lightning bolt scar cause I am Harry Plotter [goose laughs]

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Check yo self before yo wreck yo’self (translation: figure out what you want out of this literary life before you decimate what little self-esteem you have).

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. Dumbledore and I’d beg my mom to make us her chicken riggies [a Utica famous cuisine].

What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? Hey, I get the appeal of making writing as gainful employment but let’s be real. Writers should be about the readers, not about the fame or the monetary gain, or being about to show up your enemies with your name on the New York Times bestseller list. If I have to give copies out so people will read something that I’ve been slaving over for years, I’m happy to share. But that’s me. I definitely get why people would be offended by the prospect of selling their book for less than a cup of coffee. It’s insulting to the ego, to think your book is worth less than gold, but hey. That’s the way she goes. Just hope in the end someone will love your work so much, they won’t care about paying $19.99 for a hardcover.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Author’s do that??? That’s news to me. Personally, I’m a firm believer in the fact that the writer doesn’t have all the power that English teachers and Spark Notes likes to believe. The reader, the interpreter does. So if they interpret your book is shit, it’s out of your hands. Best you can do is laugh about it and maybe even learn from the criticism.

How do you deal with bad reviews? I look at it this way, “hey a bad review means they at least fucking read it”.

Sort these into the order of importance:

Good plot

Great characters

Awesome world-building

Technically perfect

I’m going to cheat and say good plot and great characters are a tie, then technically perfect, then awesome world-building.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? Depends on the story. Some stories are so intrinsic to the human experience, you don’t need to research it. On the other hand, for my current novel, I read and reread as much ancient Greek literature as I could just so I could put in as much “accuracy” to the Greek mythology as possible. I can’t say it’s the “wildest” subject I’ve looked into would be how komodo dragon mating rituals which was someone I randomly felt was needed for this new project I’m working on (it’s gross by the way).

How influential is storytelling to our culture? Americans loves stories. It’s the reason we invented the 24 hour news day, tabloids, celebrity gossip channels. It’s the reason we have SnapChat stories and we still go to the movie theaters, even though movie theaters suck and we all know it. America is nothing without its stories and it’s storytellers.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Toni Morrison said it best: write the story you want to read but isn’t out there yet.

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? I’ve always had teachers that tried telling me I shouldn’t be so “flippant” in my essays but then would give me A’s on the essays anyway. I learned after that it doesn’t matter the style. You can get away with a lot if it’s good enough (look at James Joyce and his difficult ass).

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? A mermaid hands down. It’s always been a dream of mine to see what was at the bottom of the ocean. Also, never getting my period again and punking sailors sounds awesome.

Which authors have influenced you the most? J.K Rowling was the one to show me “yeah you can write and have a sense of humor about it too”. Shakespeare showed me when I was young that you can be smart, make up words and make the occasional sex joke too. As I got older though, Rushdie and Dostevsky influenced me the most in terms of novel writing but there’s a variety of poets and short story writers that I feel have left their mark on me: Kaveh Akbar, Maya Angelou, Alexandria Kleeman, Katherine Ann Porter, Petrarch and a ton of fanfiction writers that I can’t even begin to name. The Internet, like many kids my age, had has a profound influence on my writing hahaha. In good and bad ways.

What is your writing space like? I don’t really have a writing space. I’ve written entire novels in my bed, in my car on my breaks, at work on napkins. I once wrote a poem that ended up winning second place in a local poetry contest at the McDonald’s near my boyfriend’s house because I was waiting for a ride.

Tell us about your latest piece? It’s titled “Girl: Repurposed” and it’s about a young woman who gets tricked into selling her soul to Hades by her salty ass grandmother. It’s got a ton of Greek Mythology jokes, dick jokes, puns, and a scene with Jane Austen fist-fighting Charon, the underworld equivalent of a bus driver (but with a sweet boat).

What’s your next writing adventure?  Right now I’m trying to write a novel about Komodo Dragons Races and America’s Heroin Crisis.

What was the last book you’ve read? Might surprise, like, two people to say this but my favorite genre to read is nonfiction so I’m currently reading Bruce Watson’s Sacco and Vanzetti and Franco “Bifo” Berardi’s “The Soul at Work”.

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? Just because storytelling has taken on new and inventive forms (ebooks, YouTube, SnapChat stories) doesn’t mean bibliophiles aren’t out there. Just because the major publishing houses are feeling an economic decline, doesn’t mean there aren’t independent bookstores popping up all over the world.

Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? Maybe by a handful of literary snobs but not the rest of the world. Just look at Barnes and Nobles has applications for self-published authors to sell their books in stores. There are plenty of companies who are recognizing that traditional publishing houses no longer the monopolizes of “good” literature anymore. Rupi Kaur is an example of a self-published writer who was recognized for her quality work and was able to make something for herself. I personally don’t think people are as apt to look down on the Indie writer anymore. Hell I don’t think they ever did! Jane Austen and Walt Witman were both self-published writers. Maybe people turned their noses on them then but they sure as hell don’t now.

Is there a message in your books? Yeah, fuck Zeus (that incestuous rapist) and if you’re going to trade yourself do it for a job at least. Don’t be like Megara and do it for a dude (sorry girl. You were still the best thing about Hercules)

How important is writing to you? Writing is my everything. It was all I had when I was a child and it’s all I have now as an adult, in terms of therapy. Writing is how I know who I am or how I am doing, it’s how I got through all my traumas and heartbreaks and painful experiences. Writing will always be on the Maslow Hierarchy of Need for me. Tied with the need for water and shelter and love.

 

Bio: Meaghan Curley is a writer from Utica, NY who is convinced, for some reason, that she’s going to die at the age of 27 at an ancient Indian Meth Lab, which sucks considering she’s, as of now, 23. She’s also convinced she’s funny despite antithetical evidence stating the contrary. She’s a published poet, short story writer, novelist and activist. Her debut novel, titled “Girl: Repurposed”, is out now. Her idols include JK Rowling, Harriet Tubman and Sampat Pal, the leader of the Pink Sari Gang in India who beats up rapists with a stick and fights corruption in the police force.

 

Links:

Buy my book on Amazon Girl Repurposed on Amazon -Meaghan-Curley

As well as at Barnes and Noble

Follow me on Twitter and watch me talk to myself Twitter – Meaghan Curley

Follow me on Instagram and watch me be full of myself https://www.instagram.com/meag_a_what/

Hell Week 2017 – Day 7- Chris Morris/Orpheus

ClassOf2017final

Character Spotlight

About yourself:

*Who are/were you? Tell us about your life before you came here, and after.

A: I am Orpheus, son of the Thracian king Oeagros or perhaps even of Apollo, but most certainly sprung from the belly of the Muse Calliope, forever to hear the strains of her harmonies in all things. The strings of the lyre thrill to my touch as I to them and men and birds and fishes to the tides of all that is.

* Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?

A: I am in hell, as in life, to be taken amiss in perpetuity, to poetize, sing and play upon my instruments in accord with each unfolding moment and sway all souls about me to respond according to their nature and be reviled for doing so, for their differences cast them at odds.

Who are your friends/allies here?

A: Friends? Jason, for one, who steers our ship away from shoals and plies roiling seas. Atalanta is a friend as well and longs to chase my demons from me. Allies to me are forever the octaves of eternity, knowable to myself alone and mystery to all others.

Do you have any enemies here?

A: “Here” is mine enemy and daily do I war with him; I turn his rage to song and he doth rage the more. Shh…I take some small pleasure in that.

How do you define ‘piracy’?

A: All is stolen which has no owner; piracy is an illusion promising possession.

Come on be honest, what do you think of HSM leadership?

A: All things have a head and a tail; guide, yet follow. He must be for the Grand Punishment Continuum to exist; He is not to be envied or feared, though He must be more than those few things: He is a verse, then a chorus, then a coda; like us, He knows not his beginning, no more than I.

What is the WORST thing about being here?

A: The food.

What are your best tips for surviving in Hell?

A: Feel the rhythm; take your next breath fully; stand straight; drop your shoulders; raise your chest; sing to glory!

Before you arrived here did you actually believe in HSM and his fiery domain? Bet that was a shock!

A: I had been to Hades’ to retrieve my sweet Eurydice and returned, almost, so I knew this place before and now again. Have you seen her; sometimes she slips from view?

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How to you spend the endless years here?

A: Inquisitor, know ye not that there can be no such thing as time?

What do you miss most about your old. . .life?

A: Amplifiers.

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio.

A: Chris Morris

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

* Tell us about your story for this edition.

A: Evil Angel is a collaboration with my partner in prose, Janet Morris, my personal Beatrice, guide and companion through the literary depths of Hell. It posits a vengeful Medea, about trapping her mythic nemesis, Jason and his celebrity pirate crew in snares fabricated by no less than the Fates themselves—before whom even Satan pauses. Any Hell story fascinates because if written to form, death has no motive force and the storyteller must dig a little deeper to find the hinges of drama and portray rewards of victories which are pyrrhic at best. Does she still yearn for him? Is she exquisitely a victim of her darkest design?

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

A: I wished to look through Orpheus’ eyes, hear though his ears, and for a fleeting moment field his musical magic midst Medea’s stark malignity.

How did you become involved with this project?

A: I was present at the inception.

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge?

A: Janet Morris and I write stories to “bookend” the collection and impart a sense of proximity to the usually very different themes and perspectives our contributors bring. More than that, our faves, Kit and Will, are writers too and impart a writerly camaraderie that extends beyond their episodes to color the character of the series.

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options?

A: Who wouldn’t want to find out how it feels to munched by a frosty leviathan?

What are you currently working on?

A: Still struggling to get the backlist up in trade, Kindle, e- and audio versions. We’re about halfway. Over the past year I learned enough InDesign to be a little bit dangerous and I love to get lost in producing stuff that with any luck will outlive us.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them.

A: Brideshead Revisited and Tempus Unbound. Waugh is the consummate stylist, able to twist, turn on a dime, fly high above yet touch down instantly in the mind, not just through the speech of his characters. Tempus Unbound is a rarest of rare birds, a late-coming foundational work for Janet’s archetypal sage and his counterpart, Cime.

What are your views on authors offering free books?

A: “Offering” in exchange for…?

*If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

A: “Now I could drink hot blood and do such bitter business as the day would quake to look upon.” —Hamlet

If you could have a dinner party with any man and woman from anywhere and any when who would invite and what would you eat?

A: Jesus…bread.

EXCERPT from “Pirates in Hell.

“Evil Angel” (Goat-Beard Part 2)

Janet Morris and Chris Morris

*

Up the steep the crew of the Argo must climb to attend her parley. Any who faltered would freeze solid on the slope, languish ice-bound for a hundred years — time aplenty to think things over.

“Come ye, bloody Argonauts, and meet your fated punishment,” she whispered, as if Jason’s shipmates could hear her.

Come one, come all, and let demons devour the hindmost.

Medea set the scene about her with a Colchian standard flapping on a pole, a rallying point fit for such a parley, a solemn conference to discuss terms for the Argo’s surrender. Beneath her fleecy mantle she invoked a robe of snowflakes; on her head she made a three-spoked crown. That done, with her fingertip she kindled a fire on her peaty peak, then summoned a brace of gray and stinking fiends and gave them orders.

As the crew of the Argo ascended and the fiends descended to devour any laggards, Medea spotted her quarry: Iolcian Jason still looked twenty; hell so far had been easy on this son of Alcimede. But not much longer would it be so . . .

Screams of the hindmost, being torn asunder by fiends, sounded a welcome fanfare in her ears. In response, the landing party’s rear-guard turned back to help their brethren, while those in the forefront quickened their ascent.

Alongside Jason hurried Argos, shipwright of the Argo; behind him, Meleagros and his beloved Atalanta, a sometime lioness and fleet-footed virgin huntress whom Medea once healed.

Despite the rear-guard’s swords and spears and best efforts, ravenous fiends grabbed stragglers in their jaws.

The luckless begged the icy wind for help or speedy death. But fiends always take their time, torturing their prey before tearing it limb from limb and sitting down to feast.

The sailors in the lead scrambled faster.

Of all those come ashore, nearly a third would never crest the ridge. The remainder plowed on grimly, taking no backward looks.

Many of these heroes Medea knew. Hadn’t she sailed with them to the Colchian grove to steal the fleece of the golden ram, the very mantle she now wore? She thought she spied Zeus’ son Herakles and man-slaughtering Peleus, climbing to either side of Theseus, founder of Athens. Her eyes lingered on Orpheus, Thracian poet, prophet, and father of songs. But those voyages, those feats, belonged to another time — to life, not afterlife. She banished any thought of glad reunion.

Were it not for Jason and his crew and this damnable fleece forever wrapping her shoulders, she might have spent her afterlife in Erebos, officiating as a priestess of Hekate, sending sinners to Tartaros and innocents to the Elysian Fields. Jason! Every wrong, every ill, every misery, every blot began with Jason. Jason it was who’d ruined Medea in life . . . and haunted her ever since. Mad with love of him she’d been, that fateful day she killed their children.

Vengeance, love’s antidote, always comes hard. And costly.

Watching the Argonauts climb, she recalled that few had treated her as equal. But then, she wasn’t equal: she was superior. If among this damned crew a few were female, a few unknown, then hell maketh bedfellows undreamt in life. She had punishments aplenty to dole out to those who’d top the ridge, fit for one and all.

Dark and frowning, Jason gained the summit first and paused, breathing hard, followed closely by four souls new to her.

Who are these?

One was slight-bearded, auburn-haired and tender-mouthed, sloe-eyed and lithe in a leather jerkin, breeches and hose. By his side came a goat-bearded fellow with fleshy cheeks, one sparkly earring, sloping shoulders and puffy pants. In their wake followed a woman lit with a loveliness otherworldly, which swaddled her better than her simple shift and somehow kept away the cold. This woman got help to top the final rise from a big soul robed in brown, stalwart, hirsute and resolute, who used a knotty staff.

Not one of the four had the seafarer’s eye, the windburned lips, the leathern skin earned by facing hellish weather. Nor were they flowing-haired Greeks or tattooed barbarians.

Medea waved a hand at her fire-pit of peat, and it roared high; in the light from its flames she could see the strangers better. “Pirates, are ye? Come to parley for passage out of the Abyss? No intruders do I welcome here.” Before the strangers could respond, she whipped her gaze across them, to her erstwhile lover: “Jason, whom have you brought me? And why?”

You! You called us here?” Jason rummaged through her soul with wide, reproving eyes. “Pirates, are we, Mother?” He sighed. “Heroes, while we lived. You know the truth, helped make us what you see. In those days, what we took by force and guile we won honorably, not by theft or piracy, but by deeds done to please our gods. And you know it. As for whom we brought — we brought those we need.”

“You’re pirates all, you and yours, Jason: robbers on sea or shore — of goods and hearts and souls.” In that distending moment, Medea wrestled her fatal flaw: she yet found Jason fetching; as much as once she’d loved him, she loved him still: an infuriating weakness, a wound within her riven breast that would not heal. In hell’s own time, that love would turn to hate. Must. For his fate — and his crew’s — she had predestined.

Behind, a shuffle in the crowd of sailors begat Orpheus, elbowing his way to the fore as the sloe-eyed creature by Jason stared hard at her and asked, “And now? Pirates still? Or is it something else? I’ve often said, ‘Where both deliberate, the love is slight.’”

The goat-bearded soul with him added: “And I, that ‘the lunatic, the lover, and the poet/ Are of imagination all compact.’ Pirate once is pirate forever, good for our purpose and for the lords of hell. Orpheus, what say you?”

Medea blinked, dumbstruck by these brazen strangers, so full of themselves and obscure pontifications.

Orpheus, red-haired master of music and poetry, wizardry and augury, unslung a lyre from across his back, then glanced from Jason to Medea to the strangers, and said:

“You ask what I say? I say, beware this sorceress, her caustic hate. One who tears her family to shreds cannot be trusted.” Curling around his lyre, Orpheus plucked one string, one chord, and strummed another. “Set your terms for this parley, old shipmate. Say what you want.”

From the lyre of Orpheus, a theme surrounded the Argonauts. Tones to make Sirens coo, teach trees to dance and rocks to sing, set about seducing Medea’s heart.

“Stop that music, Orpheus! Put by thine instrument of fell design. I know your fey tricks of old. Stay your hands. Part from that lyre. There’ll be no sorcery here but mine.”

The lyrist palmed his strings. Music died a death too curt.

*

 [End of Excerpt]

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y8WWKMT/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pirates-in-hell-chris-morris/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroes_in_Hell

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/janet-morris/

https://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings/

https://soundcloud.com/christopher-morris

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pirates-in-hell-chris-morris/1126191917?type=eBook

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pirates-in-hell-chris-morris/1126191917?ean=9780997758443

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris/

https://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings/

Blog/Website

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

https://sacredbander.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/uvmchristine

https://twitter.com/uvmchristine/media

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y8WWKMT/

https://www.amazon.com/Pirates-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/

https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO

https://www.amazon.com/Pirates-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris/dp/0997758449/

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/series/40812-heroes-in-hell

Monsters and Myth – part 1 – Cyclopes

Fantastical creatures have featured in mythology and storytelling since people first sat around the fire and told of great beasts and wicked monsters. They are at the core of our cultures, from great dragons, to hydra, to sea monsters, mermaids, fairies and pretty much everything you can think of and some you wish you hadn’t.  Many  were humanoid, some carrying more arms, legs or eyes and some less. Some weren’t – lizards,  half birds, half lions, creatures which look they they are made up of left over bits of other animals. The unnatural zoology was vast.

Of course many still feature in modern fantasy – dragons, fairies/feyfolk, unicorns, shapechangers and more.  Paranormal fiction is extremely popular – with the vampires/werecreatures etc as the heroes. But what of the lesser known creatures? The nightmare of our ancestors?

The ancient Greek heroes fought and slayed everything from Medusa, the snake-haired woman whose gaze was petrifying, to one eyed Cyclopes – the offspring of mighty Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa, (Homeric tradition) or second generation gods – the spawn of Gaea and Uranus (Hesiod). They were giants, builders and liked to snack on mortals (and demi-gods) who strayed into their path. Some were famed for working for the lame god Hephaestus, and some such as Polyphemus were shepherds. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus).  Today I am going to focus on these creatures.

The Greek deities were a paranoid lot (with good reason for the most part) and the Cyclopes were imprisoned by Uranus who was afraid of their power. To be released again by the Titans and Chronos in order to defeat Uranus they were later imprisoned again as their power increased, only to be released by Zeus so they could help him overthrow the Titans. (Yes intrigue and double crossing was the staple diet of the Greek immortals.)

One eye had been traded in order that they may see into the future – but as such bargains often turn out – the small print was overlooked and all they could foresee was the day of their death.

Odysseus blinded and tricked Polyphemus, who had it must be admitted eaten several of the trickster’s friends – who in turn were trying to steal some of the giant’s provisions and had found their way into the cyclop’s den.

Getting the cyclops tipsy Odysseus thrust a burning, sharpened stake into the monster’s eye – then cried out his name was ‘No one’ or ‘Nobody’ (depending on the translation) so when the cyclops staggered outside crying ‘Nobody’ blinded him the other giants thought him mad.

Of course Odysseus being Odysseus couldn’t resist letting Polyphemus know who it really was once he was safely back at sea. Telling him it was ‘Odysseus, son of Laertes of Ithica who has blinded you’. This was not among Odysseus smarter plans as this particular cyclops was the son of Poseidon who was rather annoyed and send the great hero’s boat in a rather roundabout way home…

The story reappears in later myths – Virgil tells the story from the perspective of a seaman of Odysseus’ crew left behind (Aeneid) and Aeneas and his crew see the blinded giant and his companions and beat a hasty retreat.

Later mythological writers, including Ovid, speak of the love affair between Polyphemus and the sea-nymph Galataea – with a greater or lesser tragic ending (she loved another).  And Wilhem Grimm collected tales and retelling of one-eyed giants from Serbia, German, Finnish, Romanian and Russian mythology.

In the Renaissance composers brought the tales to opera. Giovanni Bononcini, Jean-Baptiste LullyJoseph Haydn  and George Frideric Handel composed works around the story of Polyphemus, Galataea and Acis, her lover (whom Polyphemus kills). Artists and sculptors too have used the cyclops and his tale as a basis for their work. Interestingly too the Scottish Rite Freemasons have Polyphemus as a symbol for civilisation that harms itself using ill-directed blind force.

Origins – Othenio Abel in 1914 argues the origins maybe from prehistorical dwarf elephant skulls – with a big central hole for the trunk, which of course would be gone by the time the fossil was found.

Cyclopia – is an uncommon but real condition is a ‘rare form of holoprosencephaly and is a congenital disorder (birth defect) characterized by the failure of the embryonic prosencephalon to properly divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

Often the nose is missing or is non-functioning and appears ABOVE the single eye-socket. The foetuses usually abort or are still-born, however some living cyclopic animals have been recorded, although they rarely survive for long. Causes can include toxins such as cornlily or false hellebore Veratrum californicum – which resembles Hellebore, which is given as a natural remedy for vomiting, cramps and poor circulation. White Hellebore, which was cited by Hippocrates, also contains teratogens  which can cause the deformity. Genetics too can cause the condition – the Sonic the Hedgehog gene regulator (yes really) can suppress a particular protein needed in eye development in early embryos and cause the mutation.

So misunderstood fossils or deformities could have created a myth, which in turn became the story of one-eyed giants.

Sources:

http://www.theoi.com/Gigante/GigantePolyphemos.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Cyclopes/cyclopes.html

http://www.greek-gods.info/greek-heroes/odysseus/myths/odysseus-polyphemus/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus)

Mutants: On the form, varieties and errors of the human body. (c) Armand Marie Leroi 2003

The Odyssey of Homer (various translations)

 

 

2015 – A Writer’s Diary

Welcome back to the Library of Erana and the last day of 2015. So another year has dashed past and I’m sitting at the end of 2015 and wondering where it went. I have a theory – someone is siphoning time out of the weekend and holidays and sneaking it into the working day. That’s why days at work seem to go on longer than the same day on leave.

What has 2015 brought me? A house! We bought our first house in April and it’s great. Whilst the place isn’t perfect it’s a good deal better than renting a damp flat and my overall health is better. Also we now have a delightful doggy – she’s grown from a tiny puppy to almost adult and we adore her. Every day she makes us smile and she’s such a happy and joyful creature.

Work… still there. Still stressful and busy but at least I am working and thankful for that.

Writing wise I’ve not been as productive as I planned – mostly due to the factors above but I’ve not been idle.

Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III was published in March 2015. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/new-release-the-stolen-tower-the-light-beyond-the-storm-chronicles-iii/

thestolentower500x800 (1)

The third edition of Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I was published with quite a few revisions and a new cover for the paperback. http://www.amazon.com/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles–ebook/dp/B0088DQO9C

Outside the Walls was revised and expanded and the audio book produced with narrator Melanie Fraser. It sounds great. There is something magical in hearing one’s book read aloud.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/outside-the-walls-fantasy-short-story-new-release/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/outside-the-walls-now-in-print/

Audio

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189QHB12/

http://www.amazon.com/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189Q944E/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189QCHI4/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189Q95XO
Warrior’s Curse was produced in audio by narrator Rob Goll – who has also done Heroika: Dragon Eaters for Perseid Press and will be narrating Light Beyond the Storm and Shining Citadel in 2016.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8AWU4/http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8I5SK
Heroika: Dragon Eaters was published – along with the accompanying audio book. Please check out the A Week with the Dragon Eaters posts for author and character interviews.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/heroika-dragon-eaters-audio/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/heroika-dragon-eaters-heroic-fictionfantasymyth-new-release/

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I’ve done 17 guest interviews elsewhere including the latest with Melanie Fox here. https://mercedesfoxbooks.com/meet-author-a-l-butcher/ and four character interviews including Mirandra, Ephany, Dii’Athella and the Thiefmaster.

Oh and a course on Roman and Greek Mythology – which was really interesting. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/greek-and-roman-mythology-course-review/
There have been over 160 blog posts – including another Week in Hell, a Week with the Dragon Eaters, character, editor and author interviews, and several fantasy based posts and reblogs.

10 tips and lessons

1) I’m rubbish at using Twitter! Does it help marketing? Not a bloody clue. Many people say it is a vital tool; personally I’m not convinced as I have never bought a book or product from a twitter link and it looks like many people shouting to me. That said I do follow a few authors and it is useful for sharing blog posts. I follow the history, nature an astronomy posts too.

2) There is never enough time or energy to write. This is, of course, mostly my fault. I work full time and often I don’t have enough energy or brain power to do much but poke about on Facebook.

3) Networking is vital. I knew this already but it’s good to have one’s knowledge reinforced. Indie authors are, generally, a supportive lot and I’ve traded interviews, found great books to read and got to know a wide variety of people through social media and networking. It’s a good way of getting support for new releases, blogging, Thunderclap and more.

4) There are some total asshats about and many more idiots. This too has been obvious for a while. Recent events have NOT made the world a safer place. Whilst I agree that terrorism is bad, and religion pernicious bombing the crap out of an area that is already a wasteland is not going to make things better. Humans have an amazing capacity to be total asshats to one another – I can’t think of any other animal which is so unpleasant to its own kind – of course not everyone is like that and certain groups have been labelled as terrorists when it is the actions of a minority. History tends to repeat itself – and in many ways humans have a short memory – or at least a selective one. Often people are quick to judge, especially when they don’t know all the facts. Ignorance leads to fear and fear to hatred, then the killing begins anew, or the ghetto, or the pogrom, or the genocide….

Facebook especially fuels both idiocy and vitriol. There are lots of calls from freedom of speech but – of course that depends on who is doing the speaking and what they are saying. There is either freedom to say what the hell you like – and that goes for everyone or there’s not – some limitations are put in place. But then where and when does that stop. Perhaps if people thought before they spoke (or typed) such limitations wouldn’t be needed. Just because you CAN say something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
Anyway enough of the political talk…don’t get me started I spent 7 years studying politics, sociology, ethics and philosophy and it taught me not to get involved in debates with people who won’t listen and assume they are always right…

5) Marketing is a lottery. I’ve tried some new tactics this year – including Twitter and Thunderclap – results have been mixed. Both are free – at least at the basic level so although not particularly successful no outlay was lost. I’ve found a mix of things helps. Don’t rely on one strategy – vary your approach and keep things interesting.

tps://www.thunderclap.it

6) Write every day, even if it’s not working on a book or story. A blog post, a facebook post, a letter or email to someone – it all keeps the brain cells ticking. Write stories when you can and don’t force it. The world is NOT going to end if that story isn’t finished this week. That’s one of the many reasons I love indie publishing. With a few exceptions the person setting the deadlines is me and so if the book isn’t finished or life intervenes (which it does frequently) then it doesn’t matter as much.

7) Be nice to people. If you can’t be nice be quiet.

8) Vary what you write – if you’re struggling with a project then step away from it and work on something else. I’ve found that focusing on other things means my brain can be ticking away in the background sorting out the problems with the other project.

9) Some things can’t be fixed. It’s easy to spend a lot of time on a project or idea only to find it doesn’t work, or its crap. Yes I know this contradicts point 8 a bit but sometimes an idea simply won’t work – or at least not in the way you want. That’s fine. Sometimes shit happens (or doesn’t) don’t force it to be something it isn’t. Readers can spot a forced plot. If it doesn’t work then change it – look at your options. Can it be used for something else? What is causing the issue? Can it actually be fixed? Sometimes it can’t. Sometimes it becomes something else. That’s fine too.

10) Read more. Reading is great relaxation, great research and great enjoyment. The more you read the better writer you’ll become.

So what’s planned for 2016?

I have lots of plans for 2016 – most of which may never materialise but it’s still good to plan.

These are not in any order….
Hopefully a second Heroika volume will happen (for Perseid Press). Not going to mention too much of my WIP but the volume should be great, having seen a few snippets of draft stories. Hopefully my story will be up to scratch and I’m sure the book will feature on the blog when it’s published.

There will be at least one short Tales of Erana, possibly two. I’m planning to release Just One Mistake with a few revisions as a standalone. It’s already featured in Nine Heroes plus my own Tales of Erana Volume One but I have idea how it can be expanded. I think it would make a great audio short story.

Book II is currently being revised so there will be a new edition of that sometime early to mid 2016.

Book I in audio. Rob Goll is narrating that and we are hoping for spring 2016 release on that. I can’t wait to hear what he’s done.

Tales from the Golden Mask – this has been a WIP for a while. Hopefully the first part of the series will be released by the summer. It’s a co-authored erotic adventure set in an Erana of the past. We think it’s a lot of fun, with feisty women, sexy heroes and of course a goodly helping of nookie. This one doesn’t take itself or the world too seriously and is aimed at a slightly different audience.

The Kitchen Imps – a short book of fantasy tales for kids and the young at heart. I really need to work on these, as this is another project which has been around for a while.
I’m contemplating changing the blog – currently this is the free wordpress type but the upgraded version has a lot more features. I’m hoping to attach a website dedicated to just the books as well. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Also looking to participate in a blog tour – I’ve hosted people before but I’ve never done it myself. Will be an interesting experience and I’ll review it after.

Want to try and read more, and review more. I often stick to re-reads but I’m going to try and branch out for new authors. I’ll try and be better at posting reviews as well.
Looking for plenty more interviews – both giving and receiving – guest posts and articles.

Signed up for a course on medieval magic, one on Ancient Greece and also looking at ancient Egypt. Plus whatever else takes my fancy and I can manage with the other commitments.
I’ll look back in twelve months and see how many of these I’ve done.
Feel free to comment on ideas, suggestions for the blog and contacts about interviews.
Hoping 2016 is good for you, my followers, and you’ll keep viewing the blog.

Red and gold rose 2chronicles banner  Warriors Curse Final 1 - ebook

Greek and Roman Mythology – Course – Review

Greek and Roman Mythology – Coursera

Greek and Roman mythology is fascinating, in many ways it is at the core of many Western traditional stories.  Even today we are enchanted by such tales of heroes, monsters, errant gods, and the goings on of those far removed and yet ever close. Hercules, Odysseus, the Trojan horse, Oedipus, and much more. The terms have fallen into modern usages – An odyssey denoting an epic journey, a Herculean task, a Trojan horse for a gift which is not all it seems.  Such tales spawned others – and in many ways influence modern heroic fiction.

I’ve studied Classics in the past – although it was more for the historical perspective and so this course really appealed.  I’ve also studied with Coursera – an online organisation which offers courses from a variety of sources, including the University of Pennsylvania who provide this particular course.

Myths intrigue me, I read a lot of mythic fiction, and write it too in my Tales of Erana series.

https://www.coursera.org/course/mythology

This is what the Coursera site says about the course ‘Myths are traditional stories that have endured over a long time. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they a set of blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? Or are they just entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? This course will investigate these questions through a variety of topics, including the creation of the universe, the relationship between gods and mortals, human nature, religion, the family, sex, love, madness, and death.’ (Coursera Website)

Does the course deliver? Yes it does. The tutor Peter Stuck is engaging, obviously knows his subject and is enthusiastic. The course is presented through a combination of videos, reading materials, quizzes, two essays and some discussion forums. The course recommends 10 hours a week of study – in truth it’s probably slightly more as some of the reading is quite long.

The subjects covered range from how the myths were perceived, the notion of pietas (duty, honour, loyalty) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietas to religion, to food, to concept of the hero, what it meant to be a man in that society, the notion of how to treat one’s guests (or not) and familial ties. The reading includes The Odyssey – possibly THE epic adventure of antiquity and one of my first introductions to ancient Greek literature during my Diploma in Classics – so this was a very welcome re-read; The Aeneid – the tale of Aeneas and the struggle of the survivors of Troy and their quest for a new homeland – which lead (apparently) to the founding of Rome. Julius Caesar and Augustus traced their ancestry back to Aeneas and through him back to his immortal mother Venus; to the Oresteia (the tragic tale of Agamemnon after he returns from Troy); Oedipus the King (the tragic play so famous in which fate and prophecy play such a terrible role). Plus several more.

The video lectures made me think about some of the books in a new way, by focusing on aspects I may not have initially seen, and seeing the greater whole of the stories. Homer was incredibly influential and the later works often copy (or attempt to) his style and incredible narrative versatility. The books cover a period far removed from ideals and ideas of today, yet still something resonates – the challenge, the struggle and the emotions of the characters, the fight to be something more, and in some cases to survive. Of course much is different – Hesiod’s Theogony is not favourable to women, there are of course slaves in these societies, the gods are many and walk with humans, often begetting offspring in one form or another, and playing with the lives of mortals, ritual is important and there is violence – a lot of it. Actually that’s not so different from today and for much the same reasons – greed, honour, territory, religion etc.

These are not books for the faint hearted, or for those who are shocked by violence, sex, double crossing, murder, betrayal and such like. Themes in fact which tend to pervade our media – watch any soap opera and these themes are there in abundance. The influence of these authors and their work is monumental and this course helps to show why. Why this works need to be preserved and celebrated and why these cultures are so important to our own. These books are real heroic fiction, they are at the core of heroes and monsters, and of fantasy as we know it.

So, you ask, is it expensive? No it’s free. You can pay a small fee and get a certificate of completion (assuming you’ve done all the quizzes to an acceptable standard and one of the assignments) but it can be completed simply for the pleasure of it.

Is there anything I didn’t like? I did find the workload quite heavy – with work, writing, and family life commitments can be difficult to find the time and energy to put it but others may find that easier. I also didn’t use the forums much, although that was personal choice.

The course does not require any prior experience in the subject (but it helps) and assumes a level of literacy and intelligence in order to discuss and appreciate the themes and topics.

Would I recommend this? Yes, without a doubt to anyone interested in mythology, Greek and Roman literature or religion, fans of heroic fiction, and historians of the period.

#Mythology #Coursera #HeroicFiction #Fantasy #GreekandRoman

Review – Theogony – Hesiod

Theogony – Hesiod.

3.5 stars.

3.5 stars.
(4 for value – ancient text and useful insight)
(3 for readability)
(3.5 for interest)
(3 for technicalities – formatting)

I’m not totally sure how to rate this – as an ancient work (8th Century BCE) it’s importance is supreme. It’s a great insight into the pantheon of the Ancient Greeks and their religion but it must be said it is NOT an easy read. This is partly as it is so old – these deities are alien to most of us, with unfamiliar names, roles and lives, if that is the right word, which are also rather fantastic. Mostly it reads as a list – so and so begat so and so. There’s a lot of that – sex is everywhere, as is violence, intrigue, deception, family squabbles and much more. From the modern view all the incest, patricide, misogyny and so forth is hard to deal with – although pretty standard for ancient religious text. The stories of Prometheus, of Earth and Sky and Earth’s revenge, plus the birth of Athena are the most outstanding accounts. In many ways it reads like a modern soap opera.

I’d say it is a great book for background information to the gods and supernatural beings of the period, but as a straight through read, or an adventure such as the Odyssey it is not nearly as exciting. The misogyny of the text is obvious – although to some extent reflects the ideas of the time.

The formatting on this version was a bit suspect – with large gaps, words running into one another and repeated phrases, which MAY have been intentional but maybe not. After a while it became fairly hard to read because of this.  Some more notes to this particular version would be very useful.

Overall – I’d say a useful reference for study if one wants background into the deities of the Odyssey or Iliad, but not an especially interesting one – at least in this particular translation.