How the Moon Turned Blue

You may or may not have noticed, but on the night of July 31st, we had ourselves a blue moon!

“A blue moon,” Ionquin repeated. “The second full moon in the same month?”

“Just so, Highness.”

— “The Sun’s Rival”

Sun's Rival Cover, front

And as I should very much hope my fans will have noticed, the concept of a blue moon played a vital part in Book Five of my Wilderhark Tales novellas. Although, as I observed in that selfsame book’s limited-edition, special prize of a character commentary…

Sadly, not even a Wilderhark blue moon is actually blue. *grumbles about disappointing misnomers*

“Why not?” Ionquin asks. “It’s your story. Your world. You could have made it blue.”

Could have, yes. But how would I justify it? Why should the moon’s light shine blue just because it’s the second full moon in a month? Just for coolness’ sake? That’s not Lumónd’s style. He’s not showy. Nor is he Gant-o’-the-Lute, whom I could totally see as a moon shining blue just because, 1) he could, and 2) blue.

“What about when the moon shines golden or red?” Laraspur asks. “What’s the reasoning behind that?”

Red could be him in a hideous temper over something. As for golden… perhaps he’s particularly pleased.

“So why not have him shine blue when he’s particularly sad?” says Ionquin.

Which just happens to be every time there’s a second full moon in a month?

“Maybe being full twice in a month makes him sad. Maybe he feels fat.”

Laraspur rolls her eyes. “Because goodness knows I shine blue whenever I feel fat. And anyway, the full of the month is when he’s at his most powerful. He’d hardly be at his saddest then.”

“Well then, maybe whenever he decides to don a particularly blue coat. You know the old saying, ‘The clothes make the moon.’”

“That saying is two seconds old and already past its prime.”

“Fine.” Ionquin throws up his hands in surrender. “No literally blue moons, sad but true.”

So glad I’ve got your consent.

All of which raises the question: Why in Wilderhark do they call it a “blue moon”??

In all honesty, until the recent night I went out to see our own world’s blue moon, I never wondered enough to figure it out. (How my brain manages to world-build at all is an utter mystery to me.) But once I did give the matter a few minutes’ concentrated thought – and a little light research led me to this possible reasoning behind our moon’s rare title of “blue” – the answer plunked into my lap like a fallen star.

First, some necessary backstory, as provided in a bit of Wilderhark flash fiction I wrote I-forget-how-long ago (and which almost made it into “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, but then didn’t, ‘cause reasons). I may one day get around to sharing the full story, but for today’s purpose, all you need is the opening.

Once, not long after the world’s awakening, the Wind of the West asked a boon of the Moon.

“Your Majesty,” she said, with a bow that became a merry somersault ere its end. “The fruit of the steorrow trees in your grove enchant me. Might I have the pleasure of a single seed?”

In mild surprise, the night king of the Sky asked, “And what would a wind do with the seed of a star?”

“Why, plant it, of course,” the wind laughed, “and see what grows!”

The Moon knew the West Wind could mean no harm, for there was not a breath of malice in her essence. And so, as he had steorrow seeds to spare, he granted the gift, to the West Wind’s delight.

She promptly swallowed the diamond-like seed, planting it inside her own self; for so changeable was the form of a wind that it could spawn new life with any living thing. And in hardly any time at all, the West Wind bore her first child: A tree.

The silver sapling grew tall and translucent, like the Moon’s steorrows, and buds appeared all along its spreading branches. But instead of clusters of shining stars, the buds bloomed into flowers as sweet as their mother’s air. And from each blossom sprang a new creature, invisible to all eyes but a wind’s or the Moon’s.

To those few eyes that could see, the creatures were somewhat like in form to a being of Sky, but far smaller – tiny enough to fit in the palm of a hand, and slender as twigs. They flew as a wind flew, eyes shining like starlight, their voices like laughter, or air blowing through chimes.

“What are you, my little ones?” the West Wind asked her litter.

“We are the faer blewn,” they answered, the new name a breath as soft as a summer night breeze.

“And what does that mean?” she asked them.

They looked at one another and answered, “We’re not sure.”

So the wind went to the Moon for his insight on the matter; for, as the keeper of the steorrows and their fruit, he was likely to know better than she.

“They are star sprites,” he told her, upon hearing their name. “Givers of fortune.”

Our fortune?” the wind asked.

“Heavens, no,” said the Moon. “The fate of the Sky was set the day we rose. These sprites are lesser beings, their influence for beings even lesser than they. Their gift, I think,” he said, glancing downward toward the earth, “is for humanity.”

“How lovely!” said the wind, and blew kisses to all the tiny lives new born. “Then fly, little faery whatsits – do your work. And may the world for it better be!”

There. That Welken word: blewn.

I’m uncertain of the exact translation, but the Moon said it’s to do with fortune. And harken back to Book Five, where quoth a certain character, “I have also heard it said … that a night under the light of a blue moon will restore one afflicted with Moon Madness to their rightful senses.

A special moon said to cure Lunacy. I’d call that a fortunate thing, wouldn’t you? Enough so that the night Sky’s king might, in his native tongue, name his rare, healing second fullness in a month a “blewn Lumónd”. And somewhere along the line – the same somewhere in which that world’s humans developed the inaccurate habit of calling the heavens “sky” and the great forest “Wilderhark” – “blewn” came to be misspoken as a word more commonly understood by non-Welken speakers: “blue”.

Voila. One secret of the Moon down, while the rest of him remains the same beautiful enigma he’s ever been. ❤


Behind the Talette: “Starheart”

It’s the last Monday of the month, meaning my Channillo series has grown by one Wilderhark Talette. ^o^

“One of these days,” says Rosalba, “you shall have to tell me the Stone Kingdom story you heard as a child. I would be most interested to see how it compares with Denebdeor’s history.”

“Uh-oh,” Edgwyn chuckles. “I think you’re giving our author ideas.”

(Heck yeah, she is!)

— from “The Stone Kingdom Character Commentary”

That idea stayed with me, too, prompting me to coax Edgwyn’s favorite childhood tale out of imagination and onto the page. As I settled in to write it, though, I realized it wasn’t a story I wanted to tell. Like Rosalba, I wanted to hear it from Edgwyn! Because as readers of “The Sun’s Rival” (or the first two Wilderhark Talettes, for that matter) can attest, Edgwyn bedtime stories are the bomb-diggity best.

Thus was “Starheart” born. And some folks are in for a special privilege. Because you know Wilderhark Tales book 6.5, “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”? Those other stories include “Starheart” – meaning that Wilderhark Talette subscribers get to enjoy this taste of the collection before everyone who has to wait until the whole book releases in July. So here’s lookin’ at you, hipsters. X)

Edg 'n' Rose figurines, as sculpted by beloved fan-friend Chelsea de la Cruz.
Edg ‘n’ Rose figurines, as sculpted by beloved fan-friend Chelsea de la Cruz.

Let it here be known: This story was a joy to write. It’s been so long since I first found my way through “The Stone Kingdom”; I hadn’t even realized how much I missed hanging out with Edgwyn and Rosalba in their relationship’s earliest days.

I also enjoyed getting to explore a bit more of the princess and tailor’s cultures – both through his presentation of a classic children’s tale of his generation, and her overview of a mythology revered as history among the Great Land’s royals. Regarding the latter (and much to the gratification of my realism-loving writing buddy *winks for Tirzah*), it turns out there’s actually a solid explanation for why, as Gant-o’-the-Lute once bemoaned in “The Song Caster”, their world has yet to experience international war.

So whether you’re in it for the worldbuilding or the distinction of reading a story ahead of the crowd, or you’re just hankering hard for a sweet Edg ‘n’ Rose fix, this is a tale(tte) that I, for one, don’t think you oughtta miss. “Starheart” awaits you on; have you got your subscription? ;D

Hot Enough For Ya? (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn reads the introduction, as provided by author Kendra Conine:

Ashley Vaandere [Pronunciation: Van-dare-uh] Optimistic, perky teen a bit wiser than her years. A lover of dancing. Athletic, clever, but a little lacking on the trusting side. Uncanny skill when it comes to battle.

“Welcome, Ashley!” Will greets the girl now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – tell the audience the story of how we met! Because darned if I can remember; we’ve been inter-authorial friends for ages!”

“It was so long ago!” Ashley exclaims, throwing her arms up in very firm emphasis. “Well, it was during a Blogfest on Flame Writer, I believe!”

“Your author’s blog, yes? And?”

“I had been given a personal interview or blog post of some kind, and you commented that I was hot.”

The sound of palm smacking forehead comes from off-camera. “An all-too-likely story.”

“I know, right?” Will tosses a smirk over his shoulder at Allyn. “I get around, like that. What happened then, Ashley?”

“After that our authors exchanged e-mail addresses and Facebook accounts and we’ve hung out ever since.” She shoots him a grin.

“And a true joy it’s been! There’s little I love more than making new buddies like yourself. On that topic: Apart from me – ‘cause, y’know, let’s be fair – who would you name as your BFF?”

“Heh,” she chuckles. “Well, to be honest, it’d have to be my brother Alex. I mean, apart from him being blood, we’ve always gotten along and liked the same things, and why else would I chase him across an entire state on foot in the winter? I sure didn’t do it just for fun!” She folds her arms behind her head with a nostalgic expression. “We’re so close – and cliché – that we have friendship bracelets.” She holds up her wrist to show a simple red, orange, and yellow string bracelet. “Good times.”

“Friendship bracelets!” Will exclaims. “Why don’t the Merry Men have those? I’ll be bringing it up with Robin. Now, going back to your author’s blog: In a recent post you hijacked (to which I say, way to go, girl),” he approves with a fistbump, “you mentioned your life’s happenings include illegal cross-ocean journeys, heart-to-hearts, exploring places unseen for 2000 years, and talking to Greek gods and goddesses. Of those, which do you enjoy most, and which the least? Why and why?”

Ashley more than gleefully returns the fistbump. However, for perhaps the first time with Will, her expression darkens as he summarizes the current events in her life. (Kendra shifts uncomfortably behind the curtain, expecting to be yelled at later by Ashley’s brother.) “Well, the illegal journey was rather terrifying, actually.” She scratches the back of her neck with a weak smirk. “Especially since we fell into the ocean one thousand miles away from shore. We made it, though. So that would be the least enjoyable, followed closely by talking to the gods, since they’re on the verge on wanting me dead, but the most enjoyable would have to be seeing new places 2000 years later.” With that, the light returns to her expression and she smiles, bouncing her knees. “We found this place that is a bit of a combination between a grotto, a waterfall, and a cave all in one. All you can hear is the waterfall, and you can tell no one has set foot there for ages. It’s surreal, and all of the water refracts the sun and makes the entire grotto sparkle. Sights like that are unforgettable.”

“Ooh, a sparkle grotto? Sounds gorgeous! I wish I could see that. But maybe there’s something even better to be seen here and now.” He leans forward eagerly. “Word is that one of your story’s inciting incidents is your incendiary power. What can you tell us about the whole fire thing you’ve got going on? And if I were to reassure you that we’ve got the safety measures and insurance in place, would we be able to get a little demonstration?”

“But we don’t—”

“Not now, Allyn! What do you say, Ashley?”

With a laugh, Ashley jumps to her feet without hesitation. “Well, long story short, Hephaestus gave some fire to a guy who screwed up, with eight other elements from other gods. This guy also happens to be our antagonist. Considering he’s 2000 years old too, he looks very good for his age. Anyway, so those elements got broken up into nine different families, my family got fire, and Alex was born with it. He gave me some later without telling me.” She tosses her long brown hair over her shoulders. “And a demonstration…” She throws her arms up, spinning in place. Flames light at her feet and spiral around her, opening outward like flower petals. She bends down and scoops them up in one hand, combining them into a fireball, and tosses it into the air. The flames fan out overhead before flickering away, and with a childlike smile of glee, Ashley returns to her seat.

“That,” says Will. “Was. INCREDIBLE! Allyn, did you see that?!”

Allyn’s too busy shutting off the heat-activated sprinklers to respond.

“Ah, well. Time now for the burning question on everyone’s minds: Tell me, Ashley, what is your author Kendra’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” His eyes shine like blue fire. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

With a rather evil grin, blue eyes shining just as brightly, Ashley rubs her hands together. (Kendra cringes.) “I’ve been waiting for this. She likes to physically act out fights instead of imagine them, which often results in a blaring stereo and her running back and forth through her house when she’s home alone. She counts her blessings that no one has ever come to the front door in the midst of her ‘rehearsals.’” She cackles and rises from her seat, rushing over and giving Will a friendly peck on the cheek. “And I can’t say no to a kiss, so I’m stealing both options! Ha-ha!”

Will hoots with laughter. “You brazen double-dealer, I cannot even handle how much I adore you! Allyn, how ‘bout you distract me with a quick word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, flicking the sprinkler water from his hair, “was brought to you by Kendra Conine’s work in progress, ‘The Flame Cycle Saga’.

After waking up on her thirteenth birthday to find out her brother is missing and that she’s causing fires with her mind, Ashley leaves home to seek out her brother, suspecting a connection between the two. Little does she know there’s so much more to it, including a war of elements forgotten over the course of history and the fact she’s at the center of it all.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks, Ashley-babe. And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided in this post, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

“TIED” … or a Chat with its Author, Laney McMann

Look alive, everyone – we’ve got a blog-touring author among us! Give it up for Laney McMann, here to tell us a thing or two about herself and her brand spanking new book, out as of September 9th through J. Taylor Publishing, TIED (Book 1 of The Fire Born Novels)!


Me: Out-of-the-blue icebreaker question: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word “red”?

LM: Fire. 😉

Me: Appropriate enough, I’d say. Continuing on in a more authorial direction, what’s the first story you can remember writing?

LM: The first story I wrote was a lame attempt at a fantasy. I think it was something along the lines of Star Wars (I was a Star Wars fanatic. Even had the sound track, and the book that read along with it. Yep). I was pretty young. Don’t judge. 😉 STILL love Star Wars, too. All of them.

I also remember the first poem I wrote. I was about 9, and I switched all the words around on “roses are red, violets are blue …” and turned it into something different. That was a better attempt than the story.

Me: A poem about blue roses? Hardcore! And reminiscent of “The Glass Menagerie”. But I digress, so swinging it back around to you…

According to the bio on your site which I combed like a creeper, your intention was never to write novels for public eyes. Clearly, your intentions have changed. …or they haven’t, and you’ve been most cruelly published against your will! Either way, there’s bound to be a story there, so do tell: How did TIED make the journey from your head to J. Taylor Publishing?

LM: Comb away, Danielle. 🙂 

My intention never was to get to where I am today, that’s true. I’ve always written, and I’ve always dreamt about what it would be like to be a ‘writer’, but no one ever knew about my stories or my poems. I didn’t talk about them or show them to anyone. (Well—maybe once or twice I wrote one that I actually gave to the person it was for.) So, I’m not sure how I got here, really. The idea for TIED came at me one day, like so many ideas do, and I sat down and started writing. Somewhere around the halfway mark, I thought … I might have something here. And the story just refused to let me go from there. I swallowed a TON of fear and went on submission. I was shocked, and humbled, and in tears when the manuscript was well received—and then contracted.

Me: That’s a feeling I’m chuffed I can finally say I know. ^.^ Now, here’s a three-part question for you, fellow mythology fan:

1, Which mythological bits and pieces have inspired your writing the most?

2, Which mythical creature do you think is the most totally awesome?

3, How about the scariest?

LM: For the first part of the three-part question, you’re gonna have to read the book. 😉 Because if I tell you, well, that gives some of the story away. #2. Uh, oh … again, I can’t say. I will say that the creature plays a role in the book, though. 😉 3. Scariest? For me, the scariest creatures in mythology are usually the coolest, and the ones I want to write about the most. All of your questions are answered inside the TIED pages. ;P I’m super secretive, aren’t I … ?

Me: Way to spill all the beans, Laney. X) I agree, though, that when it comes to mythical creatures, scary and cool do tend to be pretty closely related.

Back to intel collected on your site’s bio… A self-professed music snob, eh? Depending on how you answer this next question, you and my nitpicky minstrels just might get along: What do you believe it takes to qualify as a great song?

LM: Indeed, a music snob, I am. 

A great song? I love music that has layers, is melodic, and has an atmospheric kind of pull— That sounds a bit vague, I guess. Some examples: M83, early Smashing Pumpkins (90’s), Beach House, The Cure, Polica, Washed Out. Just to name a few.

Me: Not counting any of your own creations, who are three of your favorite fictional characters of all time, and why?

LM: Hm … Let’s see. Harry Potter. Frodo Baggins. Love Jaime Lannister, and his brother Tyrion. Jace Wayland, and Ethan Wate. David Talbot. Lasher. Oh, and Jon Snow! I’m cheating. Went way over three. Sorry. 

Hey, they’re all male characters. Interesting.

(Me: Sounds like about how my list would go – way over three, all of them dudes. Mine would have way more thieves, though. ^^)

LM: Okay before I start on the ‘why’—this is a major SPOILER section. Anyone who hasn’t read Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings wants to skip this part. Seriously. Skip it. 

(You’ve read these books, right Danielle?)

(Me: Yes to LOTR. Still several years behind on HP, but popular culture has caught me up on the gist, so carry on.)

LM: Harry Potter: Loses his parents as a baby, raised by the worst kind of ‘foster’ parents ever, and still manages to be a caring, loving, bad ass wizard who sacrifices himself to take down the WORST, most evil wizard of all time? Enough said.

Frodo Baggins: A humble hobbit who has never even been one step out of his own village (The Shire) in his life, travels across the country on foot, battles an onslaught of Wraiths, gets stabbed, almost turns into one, yet STILL decides to endure the hardship of the One Ring and keep going to Mount Doom (on foot) with Golem as his guide to toss the ring into the burning volcano???

Seriously. Frodo Baggins was one of the best fantasy characters of all time. LOTR is also one of my favorites series of books and movies of all time. All hail Tolkien. Or something like that.

(Me: All hail! *refrains from abandoning the blog post to put on the extended “Fellowship of the Ring” DVD*)

LM: Okay enough spoilers. The rest are all seriously well written, complex characters who I love.

Me: Alright, now you get to count one your own. : ) Who’s your favorite character in The Fire Born Novels, and why?

LM: 😉 Max is my favorite. Hands down. 

What I want to do is give you another play by play like I did above—but I can’t do that, obviously, so I’ll try to describe him.

I could say that Max is strong willed, hot headed at times, and kind of a bad ass. That he’s someone who stands up for what he believes in—even when he knows it may cost him what he wants most. But mostly, he’s loyal, and loving, and gentle. He has that unique quality of being strong, but sensitive. Protective, but vulnerable.

I’m not very good a describing, am I? 😉

Me: Not unless you’re trying to describe a dreamboat. And lastly, I’m gonna make you brag a little: What do you think is the coolest thing about you?

LM: About me? I have no idea. I think way more than I talk—not sure that’s a good thing. I’m pretty sarcastic, and most of my friends and family think that’s funny. I’m terrible at describing myself. ;P

Me: Thank goodness for author bios to do the describing for us!

* * *

Laney McMann

With a passion for the supernatural and all things magical, Laney developed a voracious appetite for reading fantasy at a young age. A vivid imagination helped set the stage for creating her own worlds and placed her onto the writing path.

By the time she reached her teens, she’d accumulated notebooks full of poems, which led to short stories and finally novels. Young adult dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and mythology are among her favorite genres.

A former classical dancer and chef, she grew up in sultry Florida where she still resides with her family.

You can find my occasional ramblings on Twitter.

Book updates on my author page at goodreads.

My Facebook Profile for inspiration and randomness.

Updates on The Fire Born Novels at my Facebook Author Page

My interests on Pinterest.

And I’m now on Tumblr, too.

You can also contact me by email at: laneymcmannyaauthor(at)gmail(dot)com

* * *

Tied cover

Normal people don’t believe their nightmares stalk them. They don’t fall in love with boys who don’t exist, either.

Seventeen-year-old Layla Labelle, though, is far from normal. Her delusions walk the earth. Her hallucinations hunt her, and her skin heats to a burn every time her anger flares.

Or is that all in her head?

Layla doesn’t know what to believe any more because if none of that’s true, Max MacLarnon must be an illusion, and her heart must still be broken.

No matter how much she wants to believe Max is real, doing so would mean everything else is, too. How, then, is that possible?

The answers lie in an age-old legend the supernatural aren’t prepared to reveal, and with a curse that could tear Layla and Max apart forever—if it doesn’t kill them both first.

In TIED, book one in the Fire Born trilogy, learning the truth will mean fighting an arsenal of demons, and being with Max will put Layla on a path toward her own destruction.

Just how far will Layla go to protect the one she loves?

The answer may never be far enough … away.

Add to Goodreads:

Buy now via Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Enter  a Rafflecopter giveaway for a TIED signed paperback!

“Sabotage” or “ ‘Shadow Lights’ for Realz!”

Well, no thanks at all to typical Technology Fiend “treacherous action to defeat or hinder a cause or an endeavor; deliberate subversion” (don’t even front, buster, I know you’re behind it!), the Hogglepot sci-fi/fantasy journal is now featuring my short story, as scheduled. If you’ve been waiting patiently throughout the delay…you’re a better man/woman than I am.

One possible visual interpretation of my diabolical arch-nemesis. ...Or a completely unrelated sketch of mine, doctored to look extra creepy and vaguely "Shadow Light"-y.

So, on glorious display now through the 12th of May (barring more schedule screwiness) and archived ever after, here’s my mythology-inspired tale of great power bringing with it great responsibility and a choice that no little boy should ever have to face – a.k.a. “Shadow Lights”.

Thanks for reading, those who do, and I’d love to hear how you like it. (:

“Serial” or “Hogglepot”

For once, my “Title” or “Alternate/Subtitle” words have nothing whatever to do with each other. …Unless you count the fact that both involve stories I’ve written, in which case, yay! Relatedness!

This is the Hogglepot Pig. He (um...she?) liked my story.

Working our way back to front, let’s start with “Hogglepot”. What in the world does that word mean? Your guess as to a definition is as good as mine, but I can tell you this: It is the name of an online sci-fi/fantasy magazine which publishes a new short story every couple of weeks. And y’know which story they’re featuring today through the 12th of May? “Shadow Lights” by Danielle E. Shipley – a mythology-inspired tale of great power bringing with it great responsibility and a choice that no little boy should ever have to face. I strongly encourage you to check it out. (:

We interrupt this blog post for a quick bit of other publication news: The folks at “A Cuppa and an Armchair” have a new collection of short stories for children on the way. Like its grownup counterpart, “Cookies and Milk” is a charity project with all proceeds to go to Equipe. It’s to be released in three volumes, with the current launch dates as follows:

Volume 1 – online launch May 18
Volume 2 – online launch May 25 (this is the one that will have my illustrations in it!)
Volume 3 – online launch June 1 (and this one has a short story of mine!)

I’ll keep you posted as the dates draw nearer.

We now to return to “Serial” or “Hogglepot”.

As for the word “serial”, my dictionary’s perfectly familiar with that one: “A literary or dramatic work published or produced in installments.” I’ve been following the ongoing adventures of Witt Kepler, Private Eye, over at D.J. Lutz’s Almost Out of Ink blog, as well as the mysterious links of “The Chain” in Ben Chiles’ Story Multiverse realm. And I figured, hey, I’m as cool as them, right? Sorta, kinda, almost? I can totally share one of my stories over multiple posts, too!

So, coming soon to Ever On Word: A goofy, spoofy fairytale I wrote some years ago (and, I assure you, buffed up a wee bit in prep for an actual audience), inspired by an improv game my sister and I once played (or would she not want any affiliation with this?…). Keep your eyes open for the next post, and more or less every second post thereafter, for my 8-part prose-a-palooza, “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”!


A word I’ve grown to love more and more.

            First off, you’ve got dictionary definition one, “the creative imagination; unrestrained fancy”. As a multimedia artist (author, musician, visual artist, poet…), I place high value on lovely creative abandon. Then there’s definition five, “an imagined event or sequence of mental images, such as a daydream, usually fulfilling a wish or psychological need”. I’ve always enjoyed a good daydream – my night-dreams have had their moments, too, but their track record is inconsistent – and I suppose my friendly get-togethers on the immaterial plane qualify as this sort of fantasy, too (though we’ll pass on speculation as to the nature of my psychological needs for now, if that’s alright by you).

            But when I hear the word “fantasy”, my first thoughts will lean more in the direction of definition 4a: “Fiction characterized by highly fanciful or supernatural elements.”

            As it happens, fantasy didn’t particularly appeal to me during my childhood. Not that I was exposed to a great deal of it anyway, my parents having preferred to keep my green little mind away from media flirting with the occult until I was mature enough to consciously form beliefs. Still, my dad had read me Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” and subsequent books in the series; I’d seen BBC’s “Chronicles of Narnia” films, and eventually read the books, too; goodness knows there were fairytales galore, both in picture-book form and brought to me by the Disney Animation Studios. But with the notable exception of Disney, things relating to the supernatural, the paranormal, and the magical simply didn’t grab me the way mysteries, historical fiction, humor (including joke books and comic strip collections), and magazines about dogs did. I practically blush to admit this, but… I still haven’t read Harry Potter. (I know, I know…!)

            I’m not sure when the turnaround happened. I don’t think there was any clear, defining moment when I read That One Book or saw That One Movie and suddenly loved fantasy with all my heart. I guess it was just one of those things that changed along with me as I grew up.

            I’d already been writing for a while before the change took place. Actually, I’d been writing since my mother taught me how to form letters and turn them into words, (homeschooler shout-out!), but I didn’t start thinking half-seriously about eventual publication until I was twelve or so. My first series of I’ll-be-generous-to-Past-Me-and-call-them-“books” followed the zany misadventures of a bunch of kids around my age. Categorizing the stories as “realistic fiction” may be a bit of a stretch (would a park district ballet teacher really let a production of “The Nutcracker” get that far out of control?…), but nobody had superpowers or anything like that, so we’ll let the matter lie.

            A later incarnation of the series, written in my latter teens, actually did feature an initially unexplained singularity: The narrating girl and the psychotic boy who loved her – as part of a love triangle that I’ve long thought has uncanny similarities to “Twilight” (pure coincidence, of course, since the books had yet to set the craze rolling and I highly doubt that anything of mine served as inspiration for Stephenie Meyer) – had the ability to converse with each other telepathically. Why I thought I could get away with that without involving fantasy, I’m sure I don’t know. It wasn’t until much later in the game that I discovered how the mental communication was happening (let’s just say it involves evil elves), and it was at about that time that I started to get the idea that maybe writing stories meant to resemble reality as we knew it wasn’t my cup of tea.

            At around age twenty, I set my old works aside and wrote my first full-fledged fantasy, complete with shape-shifters and an epic quest and a whole bunch of words my spell-check simply had to learn to recognize. (Ah, very good – I see it hasn’t forgotten “maedym”. Attaspell-check.) After that came the novel about the teenaged boy who saved the world in his sleep with little more than a sword, a savage unicorn companion, and a whole lot of attitude; this eventually morphed into a four-book saga, and yes indeed, it’s on my “To Publish” list. And then, of course, there were “The Wilderhark Tales”, which served as one of the springboards for “Ballad”, there was the book about the talking fox, there’s my unfinished tribute to Greek Mythology (ah! Greek Mythology – is that where it all started?)… and there’s the whole rest of my career ahead of me.

            I can’t tell you what all I’ll come up with next, or after that, or after that, or after that… But gosh knows it’s fun to fantasize about.