The Queen and her Brook Horse, An Orc Saga Novella, Book 2.5, is Available Now!
Facets of Fate, a Fate of the Gods novella and short story collection, is available now in print and ebook!
And don't forget to subscribe to THE AMALIAD, to stay up to date on Authors!me.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Hiatus with Santa Theseus!

SO! First things first:

FORGED BY FATE has a release date! And a goodreads page! And ALL THE THINGS , plus some absolutely-amazing-make-me-blush blurbs, and the series now has its very own tab on the blog! Guys. It is getting so real.

Secondly!
Check out this wicked sweet banner up top (coming actually in the morning-morning, as opposed to the midnight posting) with Diana Paz's MOST FABULOUS cover for her novel, TIMESPELL, which is totally all around awesome in all the mythology and history ways we love most here at Good To Begin Well!

THIRDS:

Thanks to the photoshop skills of Mr. Z. Tringali, I am happy to present to you, SANTA THESEUS!

The original with thanks to photographer Yair Haklai

After defeating the Minotaur once and for all, Santa Theseus claimed the North Pole for TRUTH, JUSTICE, and PRESENTS FOR ALL THE CHILDREN. This is the truest of Stories. Go forth and tell it across all corners of the world, that Theseus's fame might grow! Or um. Just enjoy and have a very merry holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Saturnalia, or any other festival of light returning to the world. (Here at Good to Begin Well, we do not discriminate, or else we would have to change the tagline of our novel.)

And may 2013 bring you all the best things, too!

(See you at the No-Kiss blogfest on January 2nd!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Story of Baldur and Mistletoe

Baldr's death by DoeplerI've talked about Baldur a bit on the blog before, and in light of the fact that Baldur might very well be the Old Norse answer to Jesus, it seems like now would be a good time to give us all something of a refresher course regarding the events leading up to his death, especially after I just read this (admittedly older) post at the Smithsonian discussing the biological evolution of Mistletoe as a plant.

The evolution of Mistletoe itself is fascinating, and definitely told in a compelling way, and totally a cool read -- if you can overlook the first paragraph on Mistletoe's representation in Norse Mythology. Which brings us to today's post!

Baldur was the Son of Odin and Frigg (which made him Thor's half-brother), a god known both for his wisdom and his strength of character. He was Baldur the Shining, Baldur the Good, Baldur the fair and beautiful, and the most beloved of all the gods in Asgard. So beloved, in fact, that when his death was prophesied, his mother had no trouble exacting a promise from every living thing (and maybe less living things, too) that they would not harm him. She overlooked Mistletoe because it was too young and too small to be perceived as a threat (and I must give a nod to the author of the article for describing the roots as spears/arrows, which is pretty fascinating considering what comes next).

After these vows were made, the gods of Asgard made a sport of trying to "hurt" Baldur, because he had become invulnerable. In the evenings they would have a game of throwing things at him, shooting him with arrows, knives, rocks, branches for the fun of seeing it bounce off. It was a very merry time in Asgard, believing the Crisis was  Averted (as Baldur's death was to herald the coming of Ragnarok, and the end of the world as the gods had known it).

But Loki found out that Frigg had overlooked the Mistletoe, and made a weapon from it. He placed it in Baldur's blind brother's hand, and encouraged him to take part in the game. Duped, Hod threw the mistletoe at his brother, all in good fun.

When the mistletoe struck Baldur, he fell down dead.

There was no greater moment of grief and sadness in Asgard. Not only because Baldur the BEST of them had been killed, his light extinguished, his goodness lost, but also because it meant the coming of Ragnarok --  which was fated to result in the death of so, so many gods, and the destruction of the world as it was known, and everything within it.

And that is the story of Baldur and his fatal encounter with Mistletoe, the plant that Frigg thought harmless.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Fairy Tales and Greek Myths

We're all familiar, of course, with the basic fairy tales. Most of us are probably far more accustomed to the Disney versions, which while they preserve something of the story, sometimes miss a bit of the meat and all of the horror -- you'll never see a Disney movie about The Maiden Without Hands. Thankfully, I have a copy of The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Translated by Jack Zipes (Bantam, 1992), from which to refresh your memories of the important bits for the purposes of this post.

I'd like to start with an excerpt from the fairy tale of Brier Rose AKA Sleeping Beauty.

[...] the queen gave birth to a girl who was so beautiful that the king was overjoyed and decided to hold a great feast. Not only did he invite his relatives, friends, and acquaintances, but also the wise women, in the hope that they would be generous and kind to his daughter. There were thirteen wise women in his kingdom, but he had only twelve golden plates from which they could eat. Therefore, one of them had to remain home.

[...] When eleven of them had offered their gifts, the thirteenth suddenly entered the hall. She wanted to get revenge for not having been invited, and without greeting anyone or looking around, she cried out with a loud voice, "In her fifteenth year the princess shall prick herself with a spindle and fall down dead!"

And maybe we should throw in an excerpt from Snow White as well? Just to make it interesting. Same edition.

Franz Jüttner Schneewittchen 6

She had a magic mirror and often she stood in front of it, looked at herself, and said:
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
who in this realm is the fairest of all?"
Then the mirror would answer:
"You, my queen, are the fairest of all."
That reply would make her content, for she knew the mirror always told the truth.
I wouldn't actually recommend to anyone that they sit down to read the Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm all at once. Ever. The redundancy is incredible, and it gets really tiresome well before you hit the half-way point. The Grimm's Fairy Tales are best read in small doses, with some space in between. I was assigned to read it for an English class once and made the mistake of reading it all at the last minute, and while I like having the book sitting on my shelf, I doubt I'll ever pick it up for leisure. So what made me pick it up now? Not only pick it up, but start quoting passages to you, gentle readers? Greek Mythology, of course.

While researching the Trojan War, I found a number of references to The Judgment of Paris, one within Apollodorus's The Libraries -- a fairly excellent catalog of myths and stories about the Olympian gods and demigods. It was an annotated translation, and I read this within the notes:

The story ran that all the gods and goddesses, except Strife, were invited to attend the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, and that Strife, out of spite at being overlooked, threw among the wedding guests a golden apple inscribed with the words, “Let the fair one take it,” or “The apple for the fair.” Three goddesses, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, contended for this prize of beauty, and Zeus referred the disputants to the judgment of Paris.

We know that Rome did a lot to spread the influence of the original Greek Myths and heroes, and we also know that Rome's influence reached all the way from Africa in the south to Britain in the North, and certainly the Germanic tribes absorbed a good deal of Roman culture. But until this moment, looking at the Judgment of Paris and reflecting on the fairy tales collected by the brothers Grimm, it never occurred to me how much of it stuck.

At this point, Strife has become the thirteenth fairy, and Paris, poor Paris, the Magic Mirror on the wall. Unfortunately, Paris doesn't possess the impartiality of the mirror. He can be bribed, and the goddesses (I'm sure Hercules would tell us that Hera is the definitive evil step-mother) go about taking advantage of that weakness at once.

I wonder if the Brothers Grimm, educated men that they were, realized the parallels of what they were recording?

***Originally posted on GeekaChicas.com, January 7, 2010.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Post-NaNoWriMo Housekeeping


Congratulations to everyone who crossed the 50K finish line for NaNoWriMo!! Even if you didn't get to 50K, I am a firm believer that everyone who built themselves a habit of daily writing is a winner -- in my opinion, that's the most important part!

So now that you're done, if you've finished, you might be wondering what to do with yourself and your shiny new first draft (post-noveling depression should totally be a real thing if it is not already). My guest post at World Weaver Press will hopefully give you some pointers!

Really, the best thing anyone can do for themselves coming fresh out of NaNo, is keep up that daily writing habit and don't let it go. Developing that discipline early and exercising it often is seriously the best advice I ever received, and totally changed my life as writer. So! I am passing it along to any and all new or not-so-new writers out there who might be reading this blog.

In other news: it is December. You know what this means, I'm sure! The Holiday Hiatus is just around the corner -- beginning December 12 and lasting through the rest of 2012. A scantily clad hero in a Santa hat is coming your way to fill the void, courtesy of Mr. Tringali's most awesome photoshop skills!

I'm tentatively planning a return for January 2nd, to take part in the 4th Annual No-Kiss Blogfest, hosted by the fabulous Frankie Diane Mallis. If I can come up with a no-kiss we haven't seen before, anyway. I'm actually not sure if I have one! (Pirithous isn't really a no-kiss kind of guy, but we'll see who else I have in my stable!) That said, I won't be back-back to the blog until January 8, and hopefully I will have something extra special up my sleeve that will be worth the wait!

Also, the other night my mother suggested that the movie ARGO might yet be a story of Jason and the Argonauts, if one considers Ben Affleck's character to be Jason, putting together a team of "heroes" to go accomplish great deeds. Now I want to see this movie EVEN MORE (but I still do not love the myth of Jason at all.)

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Next Big Thing

V.R. Barkowski tagged me for The Next Big Thing, so now I have an excuse to talk about Pirithous even more than I already do!


THE QUESTIONS

1. What is your working title of your book?

Pirithous and Thalia go to Washington. Which is maybe not the most original title in the world, but definitely describes the story well.
   
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Actually, it came from my aunt. After I sent her the first Pirithous book (titled, much more practically, Son of Zeus) she read it, and wrote back to me with pitches for two more Pirithous books, and after reading them, I knew I *had* to write the stories, because I really wanted to read them. So, Pirithous and Thalia go to Washington is actually the sequel to Son of Zeus, and maybe I shouldn't be writing it, but WHATEVER. I needed to just have some fun, and there is no better pair of characters to have fun with than Pirithous as the fish out of water, and Thalia as his modern day guide to all things he should not be doing.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal Romance, easy peasy.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Geez. I have honestly never considered this at all. I'm not good at seeing faces when I picture people in my head, but now I'm going to have to go investigate and see who is most Pirithous-like in hollywood. They'd have to have a lot of natural athletic-grace, and some height, with the right kind of sparkle in their eye. Dead-eyes need not apply. Pirithous is a very animated kind of man, and he isn't afraid at all to show emotion, except, perhaps, fear. Maybe a Hugh Jackman kind of guy in his late twenties? As for Thalia -- A 20-something Caterina Murino would be on the right track.

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Pirithous isn't interested in letting modern-woman Thalia slip through his fingers once they've met, and if that means following her from Upstate New York, where he stumbled out of Hades, to Washington D.C., he isn't about to let a little thing like illegal immigration stand in his way.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I feel like this question should be worded differently. Do I want to be represented by an agency? Absolutely! Do I want to land said agent with Pirithous? ummmm. I'm not entirely sure I do. It's so different from everything else I've written, and so much more gratuitous, and it isn't really the book I want to make my name with as an Author. But I'd be a fool to say no if opportunity came knocking, either way.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I'm still in the middle! And I reached the middle in 2 weeks or so -- I'd guess it won't be done until early 2013, what with Christmas, and edits for my publisher, and other obligations. But if I had nothing else going on, another 4 weeks, max, I'd have a working first draft.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

North of Need by Laura Kaye comes to mind, published by Entangled. Though, that hero is a lot less of a fish out of water than Pirithous. Being trapped in a chair of forgetfulness in Hades for 3000+ years does not exactly allow one to keep tabs on how the world has grown and changed.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Didn't I answer this question already? If what you really want to know is where I got the Pirithous-comes-to-the-modern-world idea to begin with, *that* came from my mother. After I wrote HELEN OF SPARTA, my mother said "but -- I just hate to think of Pirithous trapped in Hades forever! Can't he escape somehow?!" and I thought "what if he DOES? but TODAY?" and then I ran with it, because there were a lot of people demanding that Pirithous get his own book, after reading HELEN, and I wanted to satisfy them with some kind of something. I expected maybe a short story kind of thing, and wound up with a novel. And then my aunt suggested the trilogy and... Poor Pirithous. He has a novella, too. I'm not sure how it happened that he had so many stories in him, but I love writing him, and I love getting him into trouble.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Well, Pirithous is not so well-known as a hero. He was Theseus' best friend back in the Bronze Age, and the only myths we really have are those in which his story intersects with Theseus. So I think readers might be interested because he's not so well established. And he is *really* sexy. But Thalia does not let him get away with ANYTHING, and it's really fun to see the world through his eyes, as someone coming from a totally *totally* different worldview -- for example, in Pirithous' day, it was totally normal to go out raiding and come home with some new livestock and a woman over your shoulder. Today, that's called kidnapping, theft, and, considering what Pirithous would have been planning to do with said woman, most likely, rape, which of course outrages Thalia. That contrast of values and morals, and the struggle of Thalia and Pirithous to come to some kind of understanding regarding those behaviors which are no longer acceptable in the slightest, is to me really fascinating, and not often addressed in these kinds of books, where the main characters travel through time, somehow or other. So. I don't know. Sexy Alpha Hero, put in his place by a sexy, confident modern woman. If that sounds like your cuppa, then Pirithous is your book.


Sooooooo... Those were some long answers. Which I hope VR, at least, will enjoy :) And I guess I have to pick some people to pass this along to? I am going to choose Mr. Z. Tringali and Ms. Diana Paz, because I am kind of maybe sure they have not taken part in this already? The questions are under the cut withOUT my answers for your copy/paste ease.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mycenaean Names

Thanks to the awesome talk on Bronze Age Greece mentioned in my earlier post, I am now well stocked with Mycenaean names of all kinds -- or um, some kinds, anyway. This list is mostly for me and my potential future needs,* but I thought some of you would appreciate the quick reference.

It seems like some names were based on occupation -- which should be too surprising, all things considered. In the modern world. we have that same kind of convention in our surnames (Smith, Potter, Cooper). A few examples from Linear B, related to Smithing:
Mycenaean Ruins, taken by Jeanhousen via wiki commons

Aithalos (Soot)
Arisbas (he who quenches very much)
Puraltas (Fire-feeder)
Purkoros (fire-sweeper)
Khalkeus (smith)
Melanthos (dark)
Pamphusos (all bellows)
Psolion (sooty)
Psolarkhos (he who rules over soot)

Other names were related to, it seems, characteristics:

Atukhos (Unlucky, armorer of the king)
Plouteus (Wealth/wealthy)
plus another name I didn't catch the spelling of but translated to "On the Lake" ha!

And still more were mentioned in passing and I have no idea what they mean:

Tantalos (like Tantalus? Kind of fitting if it was, what with him being the Great-Grandfather of Agamemnon.)
Warnotaios
Lakhuros
Phalaikos
Kusos
Kerawios
Kotullon
Aikhweus
Aithiops
Adamaos
Atukhos
Pikreus
Alksoitas
Komawens son of Dewos
Pakhullos, son of Dewos
Khalkeus
Euestor
Awekseus


Finally, a couple of titles:**

Wa-na-ka (Wanax, or King -- in the PALACE context, as opposed to the hamlet context)
Ra-wa-ke-ta (Iawagetas, Leader of the Host -- Kind of like the king, but not quite as impressive.)
E-qe-ta (Hequetas, Follower -- hypothesized as similar to Alexander the Great's companions, aristocratic companions to the Wanax.)
Qa-si-re-u (Basileus "community leader" or chief, which came to mean "king" in later Greek)

Also: Telestai (not explicitly discussed but presented in a chart as "governors" and "chiefs")


*Just like the rest of this blog, really. Not that I do not love sharing with all of you as a side-benefit! 

**Hyphenated words are the Linear B representations, and inside the parentheticals you'll find the later Greek and the meaning.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Week of Thanks-Giving!

It is, for all of my American friends and myself, Thanksgiving Week! The pre-Christmas holiday, wherein we subsidize grocery stores as a trial run for subsidizing all other retail outlets the VERY NEXT DAY.

In all seriousness, it is a big deal event, as we all know, and provokes family invasion -- and um, it's taking place at my house this year, hosted by myself and my sister. So I am busy thoroughly cleaning the house and doing food prep and last minute grocery runs, as I am sure many of you are as well. So, I am off the blog this week! I'll be back TUESDAY with a really fun post on Bronze Age Greek Related Things.

And for now, I just wanted to say Thanks (since it is Thanksgiving, after all), to all of you who read the blog, with extra bonus thanks for the comments, too, because the discussions are the best part! I love sharing the things I learn with all of you, and I love knowing that there are those of you out there who share my interest in all things Mythology and Ancient History.

I am at a point in my life where I am, without exaggeration, living my dream, and part of the dream has been accomplished because of you, my friends and followers, and the support you have given me as a writer. So!

Thank You!
and Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

Friday, November 16, 2012

On This, The Third Friday of NaNoWriMo...

First, the ever important and most excellent progress meter:



Because I made it to 50K on the 13th!!! WOO!

And today, I promptly decided that the last 1300 words I wrote yesterday were crap. Since I'm already safely over the 50K hurdle, with room to spare, I thought about just deleting them completely, but it didn't seem right. Not in November. Instead, I may or may not have just used the strikeout option.

And in celebration -- or um, in place of anything super exciting beyond 50K WOO WOOO 50K!!!!! allow me to share with you this strange, gothic, and almost steampunky image of Perseus I found while doing research on Pirithous's half-brother, and his association or lack thereof with the Helm of Hades.

Edward Burne-Jones - Perseus


It's so strange to think of these other heroes as siblings and cousins to one another. So often we don't have any understanding of those family bonds in the stories that surround them. Pirithous and Theseus are an exception, of course, since we know from more than one source that they were like brothers. But you never hear about Heracles calling up his half-brothers or sisters, or really forming relationships with his blood-relatives on his divine side. Sure, he might have buddied up with Theseus to hit on the Amazons, and there's that whole Jason and the Argonauts thing, about which we will not speak, but even when Euripides showcases the friendship between Theseus and Heracles, there isn't any mention of their familial bond. They were friends and heroes in arms, but not explicitly spoken of as cousins.

Of course Perseus and Pirithous are different generations of hero, and not at all contemporaries, so in this case, it's a lot less strange that there's no mention of anything, or even that they ever might have crossed paths -- to say nothing of the dearth of stories we have about Pirithous to begin with. But it doesn't stop me from wondering what Pirithous might have thought of his famous brothers...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

AIRSHIPS of the FUTURE

The other day, I was revising. The particular book I was revising requires me to move outside of my comfort zone of the past, particularly the ancient past, and move into the future. As such, I had opportunity to ask El Husband himself for some expert opinions on the Future of Airtravel.* Now, generally, when I ask El Husband a question regarding aviation, I get more answer than I want, but this time, I would not have traded the bonus content for ANYTHING.

What follows is DIRECTLY quoted from our email exchange.

First, the short answer from El Husband:
[...] I think semi-rigid heavier-than-air airships may come into use.  Super-sonic high-altitude jets will carry the more affluent.
But it's really impossible to say.  A century from now is pretty much in the realm of science fiction due to its virtually unlimited potential.

I replied:
Now, when you say airship, you mean BLIMP right?**

This of course prompted El Husband to give me the LONG answer:

No.  Though the layman might call it that.  The term "airship" is kind of like "airplane" in that it has a number of very different definitions.

Blimps are specifically non-rigid airships.  Giant floating balloons.  Like the Goodyear Blimp.  Cheap, novel, impractical for anything beyond tourism or advertising.

Rigid airships are like the Hindenburg.  Zeppelins.  They have metal girder skeletons and have isolated cells of gas.  They're designed for heavy-duty long-haul stuff.  Basically trans-oceanic passenger hauling.

Semi-rigid airships are a hybrid of the two, incorporating a limited skeleton.  However, the types that are in development now (and I find wicked interesting) are actually heavier-than-air but are designed to resemble a chunky flying wing, and use their engines and aerodynamics to overcome their weight and fly like a colossal but very slow airplane.   They're faster and can haul a LOT more cargo than rigid airships, and far more fuel efficient than airplanes (plus they can just drop onto a farmer's field and then fly back out again).  They may completely revolutionize transportation in developing nations.  I think they have more potential than darned near any aircraft ever developed.  I hope they go somewhere.

And then. AND THEN. He linked to a video. My friends and followers, this video is amazing. If ever there were a Stay Puft brand of Aviation, this creation, this semi-rigid airship, would be its mascot. It is the reason this post had to be written, because it clearly falls outside of the scope of this blog in every way. But. I could. Not. Stop myself. Just watch. I promise you will not be disappointed.


Now you know. And knowing is, as they say, half the battle.

*For those of you who do not know, El Husband has a deep and abiding love for all things aviation, and in fact received his Bachelor's degree in Airport Management. This also means he's a pilot. My Thing is Writing, El Husband's is Airplanes. Also, apparently, putting two spaces between his sentences.

**Because I am a philistine and an uneducated fool (when it comes to aviation). Though the other day, I correctly guessed that an airplane overhead was a Hercules, thankyouverymuch. Just goes to show that Aviation-stuff can be TAUGHT! 

Friday, November 09, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update

Hello friends! Welcome to your Friday National Novel Writing Month progress update! I am doing pretty splendidly, if a bit behind my usual madcap performance. By the time you read this, I may have even hit 30,000 words already! WOO. Let's hope that's the case because I need to build myself a buffer against the competition, AKA a certain Mr. Tringali, who in case you did not hear the news, is NEWLY AGENTED AHHHHHHH HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?!? (Incidently, he has a most excellent blogpost regarding the relationship between Fantasy and Historical Fiction on his blog right now and you should check it out. And for reference, you might also reread my post on a similar topic!)

Anyway, PROGRESS REPORT STATUS BAR WORD WAR THINGY for your entertainment and mine:


I have finally regained the lead vs. Ms. Rigby, but I'm sure it won't last. Her output is tremendously awesome.

And also, a slideshow of art, because Thalia, my leading lady, has a masters in art history, and she took Pirithous to the National Gallery of Art, wherein none of these paintings reside, as far as I can tell, but I could SWEAR TO YOU ALL that I saw a copy of Spring there, once, when I was younger. Maybe it was on loan. I don't know. All I know, is that I fell in love with it, and I think Pierre Auguste Cot is pretty impressive when it comes to bringing his subjects to life on canvas. Anyway, it was research! (I am sticking to this story, shut up.) And now I am sharing it with you.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Mycenaen Greece and the Middle Class

If you missed the most excellent talk the other day, livestreamed from UND and hosted by the Cyprus Research Fund (and by missed, I mean Missed Out, because it was awesome), I thought I'd do a little bit of a recap on the most important points.

Professor Dimitri Nakassis (of the University of Toronto) theorizes from his study of the Linear B tablets that the old model of PALACE and PEASANTS for Mycenaean Greek society should be modified to include a thriving middle class and large variety of contracted local elites. He rejects the idea that the repeated names in the tablets are unrelated, or just popular names, and instead suggests that these repeated names with differing responsibilities were the same individuals who took on multiple middle-management type roles.
image taken by Christian Vandendorpe, via wiki commons

Names associated with titles and important roles are never interpreted as different people with the same names, but the names associated with practical roles and jobs (smith, shepherd, farmer) usually are brushed aside as multiple individuals who happen to share a name with someone else by coincidence. In addition, he points out, there are only one or two instances where it can be PROVEN that a single name applies to a handful of people, and that frequency of naming is still less than 1% of the names presented -- the most "popular" name in the Pylos tablets belongs to 7 men, as opposed to the popularity of a name like Michael or James in the modern world, which is used by something like 12% or more of a population.

So what does this mean? People in Mycenaean Greece weren't as cut and dried as we thought. It wasn't just the Haves and the Haves-Nots. And it wasn't The Palace, and everyone else as tenants. There's evidence of men taking on the roles of Smith, Shepherd, and Land Owner -- perhaps not personally going out and herding the goats, or tilling the fields, but rather as taking responsibility for those tasks and delegating or overseeing the work as done by others. Contracted by the Palace, and subcontracting to whoever is below him on the totem pole. And the assumption that Smithing was some kind of manual labor done by peasant-level citizens is also challenged. Smithing in particular may well have been a skill which PROVIDED status, or at the very least allowed someone to move up the ladder into a local-elite position.

Basically it all boils down to this one, seemingly common-sense framework: People who are mentioned a whole bunch of times across a variety of tablets and related to a multitude of roles are probably more important than people who are mentioned a handful of times, and those people in turn are probably more important than the people mentioned just once or twice, which creates a scale of importance far more complex than simply PALACE ELITE and PEASANT. In fact, it creates a middle class, full of private landowners, private flock owners, private merchants, private artisans, and presents an argument for relationships between these people of LOCAL importance and the Palace which are far more interesting than we previously thought.

It seems like such a simple thing, but its funny how those simple things can be so overlooked for so long!

Friday, November 02, 2012

NaNoWriMo!

Hey, look, I am noveling this month!

I think as such, I will temporarily make Fridays into writerly/Nano updates. I am not anticipating another madcap year, because I've got a lot going on besides JUST nanoing this year, but I do mean to make it to 50K. Uh. Just not on Heracles like my profile says. This is going to be another Pirithous book, because I love him, and he's fun, and dag nabbit, I just need some fun in my life right now! So, writing for the joy of writing, and the satisfaction of hitting those wordcount goals, and getting back into the swing of daily writing, which I have been terrible about for the last couple of months with everything hitting the wall the way it has.

Anyway, here is a fancy widget telling you how I am doing.


Keep me honest, friends and followers! 50K or bust!! And if you're also participating, say it loud and proud in the comments!

ETA: I wrote a guest post about my Nano tradition for World Weaver Press's blog, which you can also read, here!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Frankenstorm! and some Greek Music to see you through?

I'm buckled down for the Hurricane and may or may not have power (or water), so I don't want to waste an awesome post that I can't necessarily promote to the fullest! Plus, I'm sure plenty of my audience is suffering from the same dilemma, and I don't want YOU to miss out either!

If I'd really been thinking, I would have planned some kind of WEATHERFEST for this occasion, but alas! I clearly was only thinking about how much water I had, and whether or not the roof would hold.

For those of you who DO have power, you might be interested in this video, supposedly full of music from ancient Greece. How much is Bronze Age, as they claim in the description, I cannot tell you, because I am not a history of music major, but it's also got a coolish slide show of Greek imagery. I'd say it is probably more a representation of later music than Bronze Age, from what my Music MA friend has told us previously BUT! Either way, it's interesting to listen to! Also an hour long, so maybe for those of your writing historical fiction in the Classical World, you could use it to set the mood? I don't know. Maybe I'm storm-tossed.



Friends in the Frankenstorm, good luck! Stay safe! See you on the flip!

ETA: We did NOT lose power, thank goodness. At least not yet. Hopefully not at all! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Avignon and the Palace of the Popes

Remember when I said I ditched Paris for a part of my book, and relocated an entire plot point to another city in France? Avignon is where I resettled my characters -- not just because Avignon is fun to see and say, though that's part of it, but because Avignon was, for some time in the 14th Century and early 15th Century,* host to a series of Popes and Anti-Popes. And while they were there, as you might imagine, all flaws of the Catholic Church considered, they built a pretty magnificent palace.**

Of course, the popes (and most especially the anti-popes) could not stay forever. For some reason people REALLY felt the Pope belonged in Rome. The palace was besieged and the anti-pope residing within was made to flee (so that France could recognize a DIFFERENT Anti-Pope, but whatever). The result was that by the time Avignon matters to me, the Palace is kind of abandoned. Avignon was not willing to admit it belonged to the Church (seriously, the anti-pope business was ridiculous) but it was kind of a mess after the whole besieging business. In short, it's ripe for my picking, because nobody was really doing anything with it either way for this tiny window which actually, really, by coincidence, lined up with my book.***

What's that you say? You'd like to see some video information about this pretty sweet monster palace? But of course! Short and sweet and pretty impressive:


*guys, I cannot emphasize enough how much I prefer antiquity to the middle ages and beyond.

**Which I am now dying to go see in person, of course. Also, all the credit to Avignon for having such an informative website for the Palace of the Popes!

***History Score!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dragonscale Leaves, and Other Reasons I Love Fall

Photo by Micha L. Rieser, wikimedia commons
When I was little, we had HUGE old maple trees in front of our house, and they all dropped their leaves together, carpeting the entire yard in red and gold and russet-toned sunsets. My sister and I would rake them all up, and play ghost in the graveyard with our friends in the neighborhood, while wearing hooded sweatshirts -- the hoods cinched up so tight we only had enough room to see from one eye at a time, a skill which would later come in handy during the cold North Dakota winters.

Inevitably, my father would get tired of the mess of leaves in the yard, and one weekend we'd finally have to give up our games, and do the real work of raking the dry and crumbling leaves to the curb for collection by the village. The piles (usually a pair, on either side of the walk) would be as tall as I was, and three or four feet wide, covering the entire grassy area between the sidewalk and the road.

After my father thought the job was done, I'd shape them with my rake, into a hump and a long neck and turn the immense piles of leaves into dragons, necks and tails curling, with a nook for me to nestle into. Technically I wasn't supposed to be playing so close to the road. But it was a really REALLY slow street. No one drove down it, unless they lived there. So for days, while we waited for the town to come by and suck up the leaves with their monstrous vacuum truck, I played with the dragons, sitting beside them under the bare trees, imagining long conversations about flying and mountainous volcanoes. Until one day, I would wake up, and they'd be gone. Flown (or blown) away.

Maybe this year, the dragons will come again. There are certainly leaves enough!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Haunted October

Haunted October OooOoooooOOOOoooo

Hey Friends and Followers, today I am posting over yonder at the World Weaver Press blog for their Haunted October blogtour!

I don't have a lot of experience with traditional scary stories or horror as a genre, but there were definitely some less traditional stories in my childhood that scared me silly. Maybe I didn't watch a lot of scary movies, but as the intro says -- I DID have brothers!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Heracles, Theseus, and the Gods OR Euripides (II)

Herakles snake Musei Capitolini MC247
D'aww Baby Herc!
In the latter part of his play, Euripides illustrates the bond between Theseus and Heracles. They’re friends, of course, and why wouldn’t they be, being the two most celebrated heroes of their time, and it goes without saying that Theseus is indebted to Heracles for rescuing him from Hades and the chair of forgetfulness. But more than that, they’re cousins. Family. And in Heracles' most desperate hour of need, when he is contemplating for the first time the thought of suicide to revenge upon himself the murder of his wife and children, it’s Theseus* who comes to his aid.

But what’s more interesting to me is the differences in ideology between the two heroes. Heracles takes upon himself all the guilt for the death of his family, in spite of the fact that Hera drove him into madness, removing from him his ability to reason, his ability even to recognize his own children and wife. Theseus feels differently, placing the guilt upon the gods, and arguing that even the gods sin and suffer. Theseus says:
“I cannot counsel you to die rather than to go on suffering. There is not a man alive that hath wholly ‘scaped misfortune’s taint, nor any god either, if what the poets sing is true. Have they not intermarried in ways that law forbids? Have they not thrown fathers into ignominious chains to gain the sovereign power? Still they inhabit Olympus and brave the issue of their crimes.”
It’s true. The gods are absolutely guilty of incest. Zeus and Hera are brother and sister, for starters. Plus there’s Heracles – a living example of weird family relationships.** And then there’s the whole gelding of Cronus. I mean, really.

But Heracles isn’t buying what Theseus is selling. Not in the slightest. He responds:
“For my part, I do not believe that the gods indulge in unholy unions; and as for putting fetters on parents’ hands, I have never thought that worthy of belief, nor will I now be so persuaded, nor again that one god is naturally lord and master of another. For the deity, if he be really such, has no wants; these are miserable fictions of the poets.”
And then, even more tellingly, in regard to Heracles’ own character:
“But I, for all my piteous plight, reflected whether I should let myself be branded as a coward for giving up my life.”
In the end, it isn’t Theseus’ argument that others have suffered what he has, or even the question of his guilt, at all. In the end, Heracles doesn’t kill himself because he doesn’t want anyone to think he was a coward. Because Heracles will not let anyone call him anything other than brave. In the end, all that matters to him is his reputation, and nothing the gods have done to him can even compare.

*my hero!
**First, some genealogy. Heracles is the son of Zeus and Alcmene, she herself a granddaughter of Perseus, who was, of course, a son of Zeus, thereby making Alcmene Zeus’s great-granddaughter, and Heracles both Zeus’s son, AND his great-great-grandson. 
Just for the record.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Words Pirithous Doesn't Know

The problem with writing Pirithous in the modern world, is that on the one hand, you have everyone around him who speaks English fluently, born into it, with all the cultural context they require, and on the other -- there's Pirithous, whose culture context is somewhat limited by the fact that he's been in Hades for the last three thousand years. You might remember my post on what expression Pirithous might use for Thalia's *ahem* backside, for example.

I mean, sure, Pirithous has learned English by now, but if I start going on about the Nixes, how many people on the street are going to know what the heck I'm talking about? Without context, language loses a lot of meaning. Maybe you can put together by context in the conversation that the nixes had something to do with water, or were some mythical creature, but how confident would you be in adding "Nix" to your vocabulary?

Waterhouse Hylas and the Nymphs Manchester Art Gallery 1896.15
Nymphs, of course!

So here I am, once again, struggling to find the right word for Pirithous to use as a pet name for Thalia. Would he really have the cultural/religious context and confidence to employ the word "imp" even if he'd picked it from Thalia's vocabulary? What about "minx," which probably never crossed her mind? Nymph is the most obvious choice, but since he's already used that one with another woman in his life, I'm not sure reuse is appropriate -- even if it is a different book.

Even more challenging, even if I knew enough Greek to employ something cultural appropriate (do Greeks have any Greek-specific pet names?) it wouldn't be the right language for Pirithous. He predates Classical Greek culture by somewhere around 600 years. And while I do fudge things a little bit to allow some level of (mis)understanding -- in my defense, they have a really hard time communicating while it lasts -- I'm not sure I can get away with putting words in his mouth that don't fit his cultural context.

So I went looking through the words captured in the Linear B tablets, since after all, Pirithous does hail from that era -- not that I had much luck, there, either:


i-je-re-ja -- priestess (female) (ιέρεια -- priestess)
pi-pi-tu-na -- Pipituna ? Goddess name ? (a bird goddess? from Indo-European: 'pī̆p(p)-', 'to peep, squeak'
Po-ti-ni-a -- (The Great Lady ) Goddess surname Etym.Indo-European 'poti-s', 'host, husband, lord, master, owner' and 'gu̯ē̆nā 'queen, wife, woman'
ku-na-ja -- woman (γυναίκα -- woman) from Indo-European 'gu̯ē̆nā, 'wife, queen, woman'

Not a one of these words would roll off the tongue casually, no matter whether you were raised in it or not. (Though, I must admit, Pipituna does kind of appeal, or it would if it weren't  four syllables.) So where does that leave me?

Friends and Followers, I am stumped. Hopefully something will present itself naturally in the next couple pages, or I might scream.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Greek Dancing

Today, I'm researching Greek Dancing. Ancient and Modern. Ancient, because I wanted to know if Pirithous would know how to dance -- formal and improvised -- and modern, because Thalia is Greek American, and her best friend, Nikki, is even MORE Greek American than she is. In the setting of a wedding, hosted by Nikki's family, it seems to me that Greek Dancing would absolutely take place. So how familiar would Pirithous be with this type of celebrational dance? How quickly could he pick up on it, if he weren't?

As a demigod, I like to think Pirithous would have a certain level of grace when it comes to his movements. A supernatural level of coordination, when it comes to anything athletic. But a person who has never danced would have a more difficult time capturing and following the steps, than someone who has had his own history of dance in his own culture. I have no trouble believing that Pirithous would be familiar with women-as-dancers, trained for entertainment during feasts. But what about the men? How and when did they dance?

My cursory research so far indicates some references in Homer to ancient dances during feasts and relating to battle, which makes it pretty fair game, since the age of heroes is kind of one of those times that has a certain level of fluid and mish-mashed history, but I'll want to do a bit more exploration into it before I settle on any concrete answers. And as for modern Greek dancing -- youtube videos to the rescue!


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Notes on Heracles, from Heracles by Euripides!

What I will NOT do today, is talk about Christopher Columbus. But you can read my thoughts, Re: Columbus hating, here.

I've started digging into primary sources for research on Heracles (my tentative plan for NaNoWriMo, which um, I might have derailed already today, because The Adventures of Pirithous in Washington, DC actually sounds like SO MUCH FUN right now that I might just have to make it happen), and because I had it handy, I thought I'd start with Euripides' HERACLES.
Hercules Musei Capitolini MC1265 n2You might remember Euripides from previous posts -- I read some Euripides when I was researching Helen and Paris, back in the day. He wrote plays in Classical Athens, and we have a LOT of them, in bits and bobs and fragments, but also whole, and from these plays, we can tease out some of the cultural ideas of the time. For myself (and Heracles), I'm less interested in the politics and rhetoric than I am the mythology, and what Euripides' accounts are in regard to the various heroes and their stories. Sometimes he contradicts himself -- like with Helen of Troy: did she go to Troy or not? -- but that's okay, because those contradictions are places where I can start drawing my own conclusions and maybe twist the mythology in the direction I want it to go.

So far, I've picked up two important pieces of information on Heracles:
1) He had auburn hair, according to this play.
2) He had three sons by Megara.

The other fascinating thing about this particular play, is the fact that it begins while Heracles is in the Underworld, fetching Cerberus and rescuing Theseus from Hades -- the last of his 12 labors -- and Megara and his family are under threat of death at the hands of a usurper-king, waiting for his return. Now, my understanding of Heracles and Megara, was always that Heracles murdered Megara and their children in a fit of madness (set on him by Hera) and it was AFTER this, and to be cleansed of the blood on his hands, that he went about his Twelve Labors. This does not bode well for sorting out his timeline -- or maybe it just gives me the permission I need to sort things out into a chronology that will make for the best story.

When it comes to Mythology, you can only count on one thing: nothing is EVER conveniently linear!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Remembering My Grandfather

77. Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
But a noble name | will never die,
If good renown one gets.

78. Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
One thing now | that never dies,
The fame of a dead man's deeds.

I have struggled for a while now, to find words of my own to capture just what lessons I've learned and will carry forward from my grandfather, and I think the reason I've struggled is because his influence on my life was so subtle. It isn't like with Grandma, where I could point to practical applications. Grandpa's relationship with me wasn't about the practical. He was about the intellectual, the moral, the academic. It was about being a good person and living a noble life. The things I learned from my grandfather weren't explicitly taught because he was a living example.

I think that's why this particular quotation from the Havamal seems the most fitting. It was the things my grandfather DID that made him memorable, his deeds which we won't forget. And even in his passing, he'll still live on as an example.

Because my grandfather? He was a good man. He never let anyone down, never wavered in his loyalty or his love for us, even when the way forward seemed bleak or impossible. He shaped my idea of what family was, what family should always be, and the kind of person I should want to be. A good person, who inspires others to be good, too.

His noble name will never die, and maybe, if I'm lucky, if I follow the example he set, someone will say the same thing about me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Extended Hiatus

Most of you already know that my grandfather passed away on September 7th. Not only did I live with my grandfather in high school (the mess in my bedroom gave him fits), but when we moved to the new abode in January, it was back home, into my grandfather's house, to help him take care of the place. It has been at times, a very trying experience (just don't ask about the chip corner) but there is no place in this world I would rather have been than here, with him, during these last nine months, especially knowing, as I do now, that they would be his last.

I can't say that it was sudden -- he suffered a minor stroke in June, a warning shot across the bow, if you will, and the second stroke, which was much, much worse, was only a matter of time. Because my grandfather, he believed in living his life to the fullest. He believed that life wasn't worth living if it was lived in fear. He didn't let his first stroke slow him down in the slightest. The minute he was cleared by his doctors, he was back to doing all the things he loved, and celebrating his independence.

And you know, he had a pretty great run. Grandpa was 89 when he died, and I will miss him forever. This house won't be the same without him -- Sunday Lunch won't be the same without him -- and as a family, we are struggling now to come to terms with our grief and our loss. Grandpa was the patriarch of the family, the person around which we all gathered summer after summer, year after year. He was the rock, the bedstone and the foundation, and it will take time for us to reorient ourselves in his absence.

As a result, and in combination with the work I need to catch up on for my publisher, I'm afraid that I will not be back on the blog until October. In the meantime, I leave you with these two songs, which kind of capture the emotional roller-coaster on this end.

First, From Buffy The Musical, Once More with Feeling, "Where Do We Go From Here":


And Second, by Great Big Sea, "Nothing But A Song":



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Notes from the Revision Cave (III)

Trying to decide what to italicize and what not to italicize makes me kind of crazy.

That's all I've got today. There is a lot of family stuff going on (prayers and good vibes would be greatly appreciated, if you are the sort who does that for internet-people), and really, I just need to buckle down and make it through this final reread, so I'm afraid I am going to have to call a spade a spade and go ahead with hiatusing.

So.

I will return to you, friends and followers, in September -- sometime around the 18th. In the meantime, I hope you are having a better time of it than I am!

And! I'd love to know how you decide to italicize things in your manuscripts, if you'd like to share. Right now I am trying to decide if I should be italicizing names of things like halls and trees and weapons which are kind of sort of foreign words. I think I'm leaning toward NOT.

Happy Labor Day, to those of you celebrating!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Notes from the Revision Cave (II)

My biggest problem as a writer? I don't speak French. Or Icelandic. Or Italian. Or Old Norse. Or Greek (ancient or modern). Or even Latin, for all I spent how many years taking it in college.

Why is it a problem? My characters are too often anything but American. Even when they speak English, sometimes they're British, which still means they need to sound like they're speaking The Queen's English, as opposed to American English. And when they're French (oh, you Frenchmen! Who thought that was a good idea?) they have to sound French, even though I'm writing their dialogue in English. And if I want them to use a little French along the way -- hoo boy. I always regret it. But! The point of this post, is to share a few resources. Kind of a "Here's what works for me" tutorial.*

1) Ask around. Everyone you know. Twitter is great for crowdsourcing, but you might have a friend who has a friend who speaks the language fluently, and why would you not want to take advantage of that? My Uncle  is completely fluent in Spanish and German (and I am pretty sure he speaks a few more languages than that too), and if I were ever blessed with a story idea that took place in EITHER of those countries,** you can bet that I'd be going to him first. But because my family is aware of my constant search for friends with fluency, my sister also helped me get in touch with one of her co-workers, whose family is from Iceland. He checks most of my Icelandic translations for me, because even after studying it off and on for however long now, I can pretty much only say a handful of things with any kind of confidence.*** I also have a most excellent friend from college (Say Hello, Sarah!) who is my Latin resource (and you would not believe the trouble Latin was giving me earlier. Ugh.)
My point is -- you never know who knows someone and if you spread the word that you're looking for someone who speaks x, you might find a lot of fruit!

2) For modern languages, this is, I think, the absolute best resource on the web: http://www.wordreference.com/ . I use it as my first translator for French (then run it by more fluent eyes, who hopefully catch my contextual errors). It has forums and gives context and shades of meaning and example sentences and thank you, Universe, for providing me with this tool!

3) Phrasebooks and Dictionaries. Guys. I am not kidding you. Pick up a phrasebook at the store, or a learn to speak x book, and go through the example conversations and MINE THEM for the phrases and expressions you need. That's my number one stop for Icelandic, because as you might imagine, it is kind of a rarer language. As for Dictionaries, I have one for Old Icelandic (Zoega's) and it ALSO has words used in a sentence as examples, but the downside for that one, is that I have to know what word I'm looking for before I can look it up -- it's all Old Icelandic to English, with no English to Icelandic half. Which is why I use This PDF, which allows me to search English first, in a limited capacity.

4) Whatever you do, don't rely on google translate. Ever. EVER. Just don't do it. I am begging you. The only time it is acceptable to use is if you need to find a word to look up in a better resource that doesn't have an English search function, and even then... Just. Absolute Last Resort, friends.

So that's what I got. Those of you who are not writers -- I hope I didn't bore you! Those of you who ARE writers. I refer you again to point number 4. Ease of use makes it a temptress, but you will only regret it later!

*Look, I'm revising! All my blog posts can't be awesome all the time!
**Come on, Brain. Why can't you ever make it easy on me?
***My love, Exactly, Hello and Good Night, I love you, Do You Understand? That's about it, really. Unless I need to shout at someone "You cannot sing here!" in which case, I think I have that covered too. Oh, sample dialogue. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Notes from the Revision Cave (I)

Assassinat de LouisdOrleans
what the heck, France?!
First: There's a lot of history in ALL my books (as you might imagine) and while I've gotten pretty cozy with Bronze Age Greece, there are plenty of periods that I could live without ever researching again. One of those is 15th Century France.* Guys, I got so confused researching the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War, I actually just gave up and moved part of my book out of Paris so I could avoid the worst of it! It's such a mess of politics and intrigue and I much prefer my history to have more poorly kept records of the facts, to be honest. It's a lot more fun to muck around in it when no one is really clear about what ACTUALLY happened, rather than history with meticulously kept records where what's going on just makes no sense.

Second: In Old Icelandic, there is a word JUST for holiday truces: helgarfriðr.
 This word won't be appearing in any of my manuscripts (to date) but I stumbled across it when I was double checking how one might introduce themselves to another person, and I thought it was kind of interesting that it existed! Old Icelandic is wonderfully descriptive that way. Like the word for being able to eat burning hot food**. I mean, the fact that it exists at all -- that as a trait, it was IMPORTANT enough to have a word for -- gives so much character and color to history and the people who lived then. You can't tell me that it isn't totally awesome! Now I just need to find the word for "being able to strain poison out of his beverages via his most manly mustache" and we will be all set.

(Can we all sing the Gaston song, now? I feel like this is a good excuse for it. How about in ICELANDIC, just to keep to the theme?)

*And 14th-17th Century Europe in General. The Early Modern Period really isn't worth the trouble. Though, I did take a class on it in college, and I seem to remember actually enjoying it, then. I could not tell you why, now. Blech.

**pretty sure this word is heitfengr but don't quote me. Also, can you just imagine the conversation between these guys? "I'm so manly I can eat my food BURNING HOT!" "Oh yeah? Well I'm so manly I can I can eat my food while its still KICKING!" And the holiday truce thing -- "hang tight, let's just call a helgarfiðr for Christmas/Solstice, and we'll meet back up here in January!" "Right on. Everyone, remember where you're standing!"

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Best First Kiss Ever

From Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold:

"Wait." He paused, and she held out a hand to him. His thick fingers engulfed her tapering ones; his skin was warm and dry, and scorched her. "Before we go pick up poor Lieutenant Illyan again..."

He took her in his arms, and they kissed, for the first time, for a long time.

"Oh," she muttered after. "Perhaps that was a mistake. It hurts so much when you stop."

"Well, let me..." his hand stroked her hair, gently, then desperately wrapped itself in a shimmering coil; they kissed again.
If there was ever a passage in a book which proved that writing sparely takes NOTHING away from the emotional impact of a scene, maybe even makes it even more evident, in fact, this is it. And the dialogue! It is such a perfect -- it's more descriptive and affecting than any inclusion of tongues and movement of lips.

My heart seizes and breaks every time I read it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In case you didn't hear the news...

+
 http://worldweaverpress.com/2012/08/13/introducing-world-weaver-presss-newest-author-amalia-dillin/
=
YAY!!!!!!!!

I'm going to be PUBLISHED in 2013, by World Weaver Press!

As soon as there is more information to be shared, I'll be sharing it! But for now, it's officially official, and I have an authorpage on WWP's website and everything! Also, I may have to dive deep into the revision cave the second half of the month, in which case there might be some more hiatusing happening -- but I hope you'll forgive me! 

Thanks so much to everyone who has stuck by me while I made this journey! I couldn't have done it without you!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Antiope and the Amazons

This summer, I wrote a novella about Pirithous and Hippodamia, and because Pirithous and Theseus are the best of friends, it's only natural that an Amazon bride of Theseus would make an appearance. I've gone with Antiope, for continuity with everything else I've written involving Theseus* and have been doing my research accordingly. Mostly I'm looking for physical descriptions (in particular some reference to hair color but alas I have found none!), more than character description** and so I've been looking at a lot of imagery, some of which I thought I'd share with you all!

Amazonomachy Met 44.11.12Firstly, an ancient depiction, because I think it's very interesting, and quite striking -- especially the way her legs seem to be painted or tattooed. The imagery of the tattoos would definitely be a great way to set the amazons apart from other, more passive women in this kind of artwork -- the ones who get kidnapped and carried off, like Persephone or Helen, for example, would obviously be tattoo free. But it's also  a pretty neat idea, if you consider what purpose a tattoo might have served within the culture of the Amazons. Was it a mark of womanhood? A new tattoo for each man killed in battle? Part of a ritual dedication to the gods? Or maybe just warpaint to scare the poor dudes who made the mistake of earning their ire.

This particular image shows our Amazon in a shorter chiton type dress a la Artemis, with a pretty sweet and deadly battle-axe, though her pose is pretty awkward. I love that the Amazon women get to wear clothes even when the men are presented nude. I'm sure that the nudity of the men is some kind of symbol of their bravery in comparison, but really, it's just awfully silly to go running into battle naked except for a shield and a helmet. At least this guy is wearing some kind of boot, which, now that I think on it, it's kind of silly that this amazon woman is NOT wearing any kind of foot protection. Maybe because she's so awesome she doesn't need it -- I bet she has soles like leather!

Skirted or not, sadly our Amazon warrior on this Attic vase is lacking armor and a shield, but as far as I'm concerned, she's still ahead of Mr. Pantsless Hero. His sword could, after all, get tangled in her skirt or cloak or something.

Amazon preparing for the battle (Queen Antiope or Armed Venus) - Pierre-Eugene-Emile Hebert 1860 - NG of Arts Wash DC rotated and croppedThe next depiction that's caught my eye is a bronze from much, much, much later (wiki tells me 1860s). But it is so beautiful I can't stop looking at it (and fittingly enough, that looks like some kind of Centaur brawl in the background statuary). I love her helmet with its crest and the (probably grossly inaccurate) hinged sideguards flipped up while she works, and the fall of her hair down her back, with the one piece over her shoulder, and even the effortless grace of the pose as she checks her bow. She's beautiful and capable and strong -- I mean, look at those calves! And the definite muscle definition of her arms -- but still undeniably feminine. I only wish the image were more in focus -- or that I could take the statue home with me. Or see it in person.  In fact, my next trip to DC might involve a visit to whatever museum is currently in possession of this piece.

For those of you interested, I did find this much more in-focus shot on flickr. And from a different angle. AND! A bonus close up of that centaur in the background, which is, quite fittingly, the abduction of Hippodamia. Guys, bronzes from the 19th century might be my next favorite after Greek and Roman marbles.***


*and because it is much less confusing for readers to have Theseus' wife be named Antiope when he has a son named Hippolytus, to say nothing of the confusion involved with a Hippolyta and a Hippodamia in the same room. It is just not ideal.


**But trying to balance an Amazon's disdain for men against her (for my purposes) love of Theseus is definitely a tricky business. 


***Remember Theseus slaying the Centaur?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Goodreads!

I'm back! For the moment, anyway. And I return with Glad(ish) Tidings! Which, honestly, after the last two months, I was not expecting to have any kind of awesome news for you -- and going into this hiatus, I wasn't expecting half of the not-so-awesome I ran into. So! Join me in a huge sigh of relief and relaxation, before we continue to the tidings portion of our blogpost!

*inhale*
*exhale*

AND ONWARD:

1) Gladder tidings are forthcoming! Just hang tight.

2) As you might have surmised by the title of this blogpost, I can now be found on GOODREADS!

3) AS AN AUTHOR. (Thank you Daily Science Fiction collection of short stories!) Fan and Friend me!! I'd love to see what you're reading.

4) My return may not last as long as we all might like -- August is filling up fast with events which look as though they will be taking me away from the interwebs, and part of September is definitely going to be a loss. But I think (hope) you will forgive me, when I have opportunity to explain myself in a later post!

And that is a wrap for today! What have you got for me, Friends and Followers? Any news? Let me know what I've missed in the blogosphere!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Summer Break for Centaurs!

Centaur
The abduction of Hippodamia
Dear Friends and Followers:

This summer is quite possibly the busiest summer I've had since 2007. June is jam-packed with family palooza, and July is starting to fill up too! More importantly though, I have a novella to finish by the end of June so I can have it revised by the end of July, and as a result, I must throw in the towel for the summer and put the blog on Hiatus. I might be compelled to offer some progress reports, but for the most part, you can expect radio silence from me until August 7th. 

Young Pirithous and Hippodamia are calling, and I must answer, but I am wishing you all a wonderfully productive summer in my blogging-absence!

Love,

Amalia T.


P.S. You can of course still find me on Twitter as @AmaliaTd, where I will no doubt offer just enough tid bittery of Pirithous to tease you terribly. This novella may well be my smexiest Pirithous story ever. Make of that what you will!

Friday, June 01, 2012

AESIR LEGAL (XIV): The Final Installment!

Oh dear. It looks as though Mia was about to be smote by Sif in that last episode, for suggesting an all too reasonable solution to Amaliaz and Thor's problems. WHOOPS! And now, THE EPIC CONCLUSION OF AESIR LEGAL!!!


Baldur side stepped, trying to correct his position, but he was too slow. Sif knocked him off balance, sending him sprawling across the stone floor.

And then Tyler was there. He struck Sif squarely in a flying tackle and they both tumbled to the ground, Sif clawing and Tyler struggling to catch a solid hold of her body to keep her restrained. But the dog pile had already begun, the rest of Mia’s zombies throwing themselves on top of Sif, too.

“Well done!” Mia called out. “Excellent form! Oh! Watch her right leg!”

Baldur and Thor both straightened, staring at the mass of bodies. One of the zombies was trying to eat Sif’s golden hair. Solid gold, incidentally, which probably made it all that much more interesting.

“So, uhm.” I cleared my throat. “Can we peg her for treason yet? With Bragi’s confession and that bit about attacking me the minute I leave Asgardian soil?”

Baldur shook his head. “A threat is just a threat, common enough among Aesir, and giving Asgardian gold to Bragi does not prove she meant to break the treaty. Admiral Hayson is right. Your best protection is to obtain citizenship.”

“Well, obvs!” Mia said. “And then you can accuse her of harassment or insult or whathaveyou! All right and tight and neat as you please. Why don’t you skip the exams and just get married?” She flushed and glanced at me. “I mean, assuming that’s what you wanted, of course. Or else, you know, not. It is not as though we have ever thought of Thor as your Boyf. Erhm. Tyler! She is going for my shoes! Oh dear. I don’t think she can actually strangle him, what with his being already dead but – there must be some rule against attacking a zombie that’s under Asgardian protection, right?”

Thor was staring at me so hard I could feel static skating across my skin, but I couldn’t meet his eyes. Whether he loved me or not, there were still plenty of reasons not to marry a thunder god. Electrocution via too-close-attention being one of the top three. But as a business arrangement – a green card marriage – well. Marrying Thor made the most sense, really. Once I was his wife, Sif wouldn’t be able to touch me without giving insult and offense to Thor, which of course would be punishable in a variety of ways under Asgardian Law. And she couldn’t keep us apart, then, either, short of murder…

“Of course,” Baldur was saying, in answer to Mia. “I wonder that I did not think of it before now – assaulting a guest of the embassy, breaking the promise of our protection, both serious and dishonorable crimes to be sure.”

Thor’s shining brother clapped his hands twice, and silver chains sprang from the stonework, binding Sif’s ankles and wrists, and restraining her movements. She spat and hissed like a coiled snake, thrashing against the chains. Tyler was suddenly free, and fell to the side, gasping, while Adam collected the rest of the zombies, urging them back toward Mia and me.

“Confinement to your hall in Asgard, under the guard of Valkyries!” Baldur pronounced. “For Sif and Bragi, both, until such time as the Allfather may hear their defense and dispense his own justice.”

Mia beamed. “Fabsies!”

“It will do for the moment, at least,” Baldur said. Another clap of his hands brought Valkyries through the doors Sif had left open wide. They collected their charges, tossing Sif bodily back into the chariot, and manhandling Bragi with just as little consideration, and guided the boar back toward Bifrost.

“But there is no guarantee Odin will find them guilty, in spite of Baldur’s judgment today,” Thor said. “And once Amalia has citizenship, Sif will surely come for you, Mia. And your Zombies. And Sif’s curses are not so easily disposed of as Bragi’s.”

“Ah. Quite.” Baldur gave us all a nod and stepped away to consult with the Valkyrie frog-marching Bragi from the hall.

“If Amaliaz does not think she can pass the tests for citizenship, I do not see how the zombies and I ever will,” Mia said, frowning slightly at her glitterati.

“No,” I said, my heart sinking. “You can’t. They can’t. They never would. Unless – ” but I didn’t want to think it, never mind say it.

If I buckled down tomorrow, I could pass an oral exam, especially if Baldur tutored me. I didn’t need to marry Thor for citizenship, even if it would offer another layer of protection. But Mia – Mia and her zombies wouldn’t have any protection at all.

“You have to marry Thor, Mia.”

His face paled as his gaze slid over the zombies, drooling and pasting and chasing spots of sunlight and rainbows across the floor. Mia shook her head violently, her hands raised, palm out as she backed toward Tyler and Adam. “No, no, no. There must be some other way. One that will not involve lightning strikes and eyebrows being singed. Absolutely not. No.”

“She’s right,” a new voice said, and we all turned to look.

The god shone with golden light, the way his father did silver, and when Forseti smiled at Mia, even I felt blinded. The zombies all froze, mouths dropping open and strings of drool dangling from their faces. Baldur was beautiful and shining, but there was something even more striking about his son. I took a furtive step back, placing Thor squarely between us. Bragi thought himself charming and silver-tongued. Forseti actually was. His divine aura compelled compromise, and I’d learned the hard way not to stand too close.

“It would be the most base of betrayals if she accepted. But you need not fear, Admiral Hayson.” Forseti took Mia’s hand before she could stumble out of reach and bowed over it. “You can marry me, instead.”

“Ah,” Mia said, her voice very small, and her eyes very, very wide. “Well, all right then. If um, you insist.”

Compromise compelled. I pressed my lips together and said nothing. There were worse gods than Forseti when it came to a green card marriage. And at least his presence would go a long way toward keeping the zombies out of trouble. Thor actually looked rather pleased.

“Excellent,” Forseti said, beaming. He gestured toward the hallway, and all the zombies began shuffling in that direction. Mia blinked. “I can only imagine you must be desperate for a shower, Admiral – may I call you Mia?”

We watched them go, even Baldur rather speechless at Forseti’s expert wrangling of the glitterati. When they disappeared, Thor sighed, then chuckled softly, then laughed. I looked up, frowning, and he sobered at once, his blue eyes bright and clear.

“Now that Admiral Hayson’s future is settled and Sif and Bragi both are in custody, I would like very much to have a drink,” Thor said, his hand closing around mine. “With you.”

“Just a friendly drink,” I promised myself. But Baldur smiled and so did Thor, and somehow, I didn’t think I’d fooled them. That’s the problem with gods, thunder or otherwise. They make it completely impossible to lie.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Sthulabhadra

Sthulabhadra appears to have been born into a life of privilege. His father was the chief minister to the last king of the Nanda dynasty, and his younger brother was the king's personal bodyguard. Unlike his father and brother, who lived lives of service to their beloved king, Sthulabhadra dedicated himself to the pleasures of life, and fell in love with a royal dancer (so far, I am liking your style Sthulabhadra!). He was so devoted to her, it seems that he pretty much ignored everything else, including his family, who apparently wanted him to return home.

After his father's death (of which the circumstances are quite interesting and sudden) Sthulabhadra was offered his father's position -- chief minister -- but he didn't accept immediately. Unsurprising, considering his lifestyle, I suppose. For the last 12 years he'd been living it up with his lady, who clearly was quite talented in her arts. If I had been Sthulabhadra, I would have thought long and hard about taking up the post, too, because in my experience of history, rising that high in government tends to alter one's life dramatically, and judging by the behavior of the rest of his family, it required a certain amount of devotion and self-sacrifice which heretofore he had shown no interest in, content with his dancer-lady-friend. Not that I blame the guy!

In any event, Sthulabhadra thought it over. And thought it over some more. And then he decided that he'd been wasting his life, and rather than take the post and be of service to his king, he was going to GIVE UP EVERYTHING, POST HASTE, and become an ascetic monk.

Evidently, this new lifestyle agreed with him. So much so, that twelve years later, he went to go face his Royal Dancer Ladyfriend, and convert her to his way of life. She tried all her wiles and skill and dancing talents to lure him back to her at the court, but Sthulabhadra was impervious to her charms! After four months, she admitted defeat, and Sthulabhadra returned to his guru, having succeeded not only in proving his own resolve, but in semi-converting her.

But here is where things became sadly tame. It seems the thing Sthulabhadra did which was so objectionable to Bhadrabahu was simply this: he showed off to his sisters by turning himself into a lion.

Sthulabhadra, you had so much promise! If only you were a little bit more awful, and a little bit less awesome at being a monk. Now I'm inclined to think that Bhadrabahu was short sighted, stubborn, and paranoid instead of reasonably terrified by your corruption!

That's not to say that I can't still make this work -- it just means I'm probably going to offend a lot of Jainists if I do.*

*Maybe I should apologize ahead of time for that, too. Practitioners of Jainism, I AM SO SORRY.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Aesir Legal (XIII)

When last we left our heroes, CERTAIN DOOM was coming with an ominous rumble that WASN'T thunder. Erhm. This time, at least. And! We did solve the mystery of Tyler possibly dying! So I guess this doom must be...

The overlarge doors of the hall flew open, and I made a sound of dismay, taking a half-step back even as my fingers grasped Thor’s tunic more tightly. Sif had borrowed Freyja’s boar, harnessing him to a chariot of blinding gold and patterned with sheaves of wheat. That particular set of doors led only to bifrost, and from bifrost straight to Asgard, but the polite thing to do would have been to leave your boar-drawn-chariot parked outside on the flagstone courtyard. Sif, however, drove it straight into the hall at speed, golden hair flying, and aimed it directly at me.

“Halt, Sif!” Baldur called out, stepping out in front of us.

The tension in Thor’s shoulders eased just slightly as his brother moved between Sif and me. I exhaled, and took back the half-step I’d given her, if only to stand that much closer to Thor. It didn’t matter all that much anymore, I supposed, if she thought we were carrying on an affair or not. But it would be a shame to die for something I wasn’t actually guilty of doing. My gaze traveled over the powerful line of Thor’s shoulders, and I was suddenly very aware of the muscle beneath my hand on his back.

He froze, shooting me a storm-cloud glance over his shoulder. Sparks slipped up my arm, dancing through my blood. My heart skipped. From the tingle of current coming off his body, or the way he was looking at me, I wasn’t sure, but I did know one thing: in that moment, we were thinking the exact same thoughts.

“So it’s true!” Sif snarled, her chariot pulled up short by Baldur, who had only had to look at the boar to slow its stampede. “You’re in love with this mortal?”

Thor dragged his gaze back to the problem at hand. “As I am no longer your husband, Sif, I cannot see how it is any of your business one way or the other. You have no grounds for offense or insult. Is this not true, Baldur?”

“It is true,” Baldur agreed, frowning. “Unless Thorskona has given insult to Sif in some other manner, she has no claim.”

Sif’s eyes narrowed, glowing gold. “You use Baldur’s justice as your shield, but he will not always stand between us, and his law does not reach into mortal lands! Once this Thorskona leaves Asgardian soil, she is mine!”

“And you would break the Treaty of Nine Worlds?” Thor demanded. “Tear us from the earth once more, and lock us again in Asgard just to feed your jealousy?”

“Um,” Mia said, at my elbow, and I realized she and her zombies had joined us, forming a horseshoe around me in a last line of defense. “I might be confused, of course, but it seems to me that all of this would be nicely settled if Amaliaz just became an Asgardian citizen. Then she’d be protected by Baldur’s justice all the time, right?”

Sif hissed. “Is this mortal another of your playthings, Thor?”

“Most certainly not,” he said, but his eyes had lit with something like appreciation as he glanced at Mia and her Zombies. “Admiral Hayson’s friends are not overfond of my company at all. But Baldur, would it serve?”

Baldur did not take his eyes from Sif, his gaze more stone than silver. “Provided Thorskona met the requirements for citizenship – you have trained her, have you not?”

“I’m a little bit rough on the poetry parts,” I admitted, glancing at Bragi, who still looked a little crisp around the edges. “But I’ve seen those forms, Baldur. They’re all written in nonsense, thanks to Bragi.”

“An oral examination would serve,” Thor said. “It has been done before.”

“Yes,” Baldur agreed. “Certainly it would, under the circumstances. We could not trust Bragi to give a fair assessment, regardless.”

“No!” Sif launched herself from the chariot, fingers curled into claws and arms outstretched.

Thor and Baldur shifted immediately to shield me, weapons of choice in hand. I wasn’t really sure where Baldur had pulled the sword from, but he held it as naturally as Thor did Mjolnir.

But Sif wasn’t aiming for me this time. Her golden fury was set on Mia. 
***
I know, I know. Mia led you to believe this would be the last episode, and I REALLY TRIED you guys, I did! But it just did not work out that way. SO. TUNE IN NEXT WEEK, same bat time, same bat channel!