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.

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!


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, 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.)