Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday Wanderings

This is why we can't have nice things, Christmas edition.

So one of my mother's favorite Christmas desserts, and a holiday tradition in our house for many years, is red velvet cake with boiled buttercream.  I've never been a big fan; the frosting is too sweet, and as far as I could see, the only difference between red velvet cake and any other cake was food coloring.  (I've since learned a bit more about it, and there really isn't that much more difference:  red velvet cake uses a bit of vinegar and a small amount of cocoa powder, not enough to qualify it as a chocolate cake and - more importantly - not enough to inhibit the color.  Suffice to say, I'm still not impressed.)

But every year, red velvet cake, and I'll have a piece, but I can take it or leave it.

Another convention, this one born from necessity:  we kept desserts that needed to be chilled outside in the garage, sealed, on top of the cars.  In the case of the red velvet cake, we had a cake cover.

So one day I get into my car to drive to an appointment.  I turn onto a road that is an overpass over the highway ... and all of a sudden, I see something white fly past in my rear view mirror, followed by ...

Yep, that's the cake.  Cover, cake, plate and all whooshed off the top of my car and landed on the bridge over the highway.

I swear there was no subliminal malevolence about it, but I don't think I ever even retrieved the cover, because it was *over the highway.*

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday ... Shopping?

Tis the season for ... frantic commercialism?  Perhaps not, but if you're looking for a gift to give to support a starving artist, perhaps consider:

My contemporary fantasy novel Flow
The traditional music of Rolling Of The Stone, from Scottish to Renaissance to Medieval and other Celtic lands

For a seasonal taste of what I write, my story Xmas Wishes is available from Gypsy Shadow Publishing, as is Taming The Weald.

Want to give a taste of several authors?  (Or just keep it for yourself!)  Some anthologies I recommend, from complete and total bias:

Unburied Treasure (with fantastic illustrations!)
Light of the Last Day
The Best of Abyss and Apex Vol 1

In conclusion, support a small press artist this season.  Even if it's not me.  ;-)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

(It's been a crazy few weeks and my work schedule has been temporarily flipped around, which means I'm working my normal ten hour shift on Wednesdays ... hence the lack of a mid-week post.)

I posted a few weeks ago about my recent short story publication, "For As Many Dawns," which was based on the fairytale / fable The Buried Moon.  I adore fairytales, myths, fables and ballads, many of which share influences and borrow storylines.  Often, the lines between these different types of tales blur, and classifying them is a matter of personal taste.

I grew up on D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths and the varying Andrew Lang colored fairy books.  One of my earliest attempts at a short story was a rewrite of the Pandora myth, where Barbie was Pandora.  I've never grown out of the fascination.  The title track of my CD, Rolling Of The Stone, is an Appalachian ballad which is a distortion of a Scottish ballad, The Twa Brothers.  The original story is about two quarreling brothers, one of whom slays the other, and ends with the dead brother's beloved weeping over his grave.  In Rolling Of The Stone, the focus is on the beloved, Annie, who uses her tabor to charm her lover out of the grave.

As a writer, I love using fairytales (myths, legends, etc) as the basis for a story.  I think they appeal to readers, too, because the elements are deeply archetypal, often subconsciously absorbed.  And because of that, there's an implicit understanding:  you can take shortcuts or start in the middle, and (generally) readers will know exactly the landscape they've been dropped into.

I admit the lazy element, too:  there's a built plot outline with using a fairytale.  But then again ...

The fairytale is ripe for a plot twist, for subverting the expectations and taking an unexpected turn.  How do you figure out where to turn?  A great place to start is to take a good, hard look at fairytale logic, which is often poetic rather than rational.  For instance, how in the world did Cinderella's prince find her by footwear alone?  (I'm sure someone's written a story where the prince picks the wrong person because he happens to come across another girl with minuscule feet first ...)

Another fun way to play with fairytales is to transport them to an unexpected setting.  I once partook in a writers' challenge on the premise to take a favorite fairytale and then set it in a speculative subgenre you weren't comfortable with.  I rewrote "The Six Swans" as a cyberpunk tale, reworking the main character's prohibition against speech into being forbidden to plug into the network.

And the current short story I'm working on?  It's based on The Flower Queen's Daughter (found in one of the Lang books, though I'm not sure which), and starts with the moment where the hero proposes to the princess he's rescued ... and she says no.  The flashback explores a fairy's broken (or is it?) promise to him and the events that followed.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Song Styles

A few weeks ago, I asked about favorite Christmas carols, old and new.  (And I would still love to hear the answers!)  I just have to share one of mine, a song that makes me grin no matter how much of a Grinch or Scrooge I'm feeling, and one that stays in my annual music rotation:

Mrs. Fogarty's Christmas Cake

It is, of course, appropriately Celtic.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Song Styles

Surgeburnt is, in many ways, the protagonist against the world:  she's up against larger problems to which there are no solutions (or at least, there seem to be none).  But there are specific antagonists with which she clashes - and one particular character, Caprice, who holds a position of power and professes to be an ally ... but her background (and Maren's instincts) suggest that her offer of power comes with a price tag.

And now, in the current point of the narrative, Maren has had to take her up on that offer.  What exactly will be the consequences? ... well, I know, but I ain't sharing.

In any case, Caprice is a gorgeous, glamorous schemer, and I couldn't quite resist using this for her themesong (language warning):