Mythology Mondays: Cyrene

Disclaimer: I know today is not Monday. My main excuse is that my kids were not back in school yesterday and it was crazy times at the crazy station here.

Every Monday, I highlight a different Greek myth that has woven its way into the Turning Creek series. The first book, Lightning in the Dark, is out now. If you pay close attention to the details, you will see where some of the elements and history of the series originated.

Greek myths, in fact most myth traditions, have their share of fierce women. They were women who defied the domestic places women were given to be warriors, leaders, huntresses, and forces to be reckoned with. They were the ancient versions of the woman who could do it all: they raised children, ran their households, and vanquished their enemies. All in one day.

Two of these versions of womanhood, Cyrene and Atalanta, were renown huntresses in the Greek myths. Both of these myths show up in Turning Creek, but today, I want to focus on Cyrene.

Cyrene was a Thessalian princess. She was given the task of guarding her father’s large herds and she did so armed with, not a shepherd’s crook, but a javelin and sword. A lion attacked the herds one day and she wrestled the beast until she destroyed it. Apollo saw the battle and became inflamed with desire, of course he did. He stole her, as one does with ladies that inspire such desire, and sequestered her in Northern Africa where the colony of Kyrene was named in her honor.

Apollo does what the Greek myths always did with ladies they stole and Cyrene bore him a son, named Aristaios. He was a demigod who invented beekeeping and other rural arts.

In Turning Creek, Cyrene is the partner of Atlanta (Atalanta). They are Remnant huntresses who travel the world in an effort to find the most challenging beast to conquer. Their efforts put them at odds eventually with the harpies of Turning Creek who do not appreciate their methods.

Mythology Mondays: Asclepius

Every Monday, I highlight a different Greek myth that has woven its way into the Turning Creek series. The first book, Lightning in the Dark, is out now. If you pay close attention to the details, you will see where some of the elements and history of the series originated.

Asclepius was the son of Apollo and the princess Koronis. His mother died in labor before Asclepius was born. Apollo placed Koronis on her funeral pyre, then, in his grief, cut the still living child from her womb. Thus, the child was named Asclepius, which means to cut open.

The baby was given to the centaur, Kheiron, who was the oldest and wisest of all the centaurs and an immortal god himself. He was skilled in medicine and taught all he knew to Asclepius. In time, the boy grew into a skilled man of medicine who could bring people back from the dead.

Asclepius was married to Epione and sired five daughters whose names reflect health and medicine: Hygieia (hygiene), Panacea (universal remedy), Aceso (healing), Iaso (recuperation), and Aglaea (beauty). He also had three sons named Machaon, Podaleirios and Telesphoros. Machaon and Podaleirios followed in their father’s footsteps and were famous surgeons in their own right. Telesphoros was a dwarf who is always depicted in statues as having a hood over his head. He represented recovery from illness and frequently accompanied his sister, Hygieia. Like many other Greek myths, Asclepius had trouble with fidelity and sired a son out of wedlock, named Aratus, with Aristodama.

Zeus found Asclepius’s skill of bringing souls back from the dead to be unnatural and punished him by striking him dead with a lightning bolt. He was placed among the stars as the constellation Ophiochus, the serpent holder. I’m not sure being made a constellation makes up for being killed, but this was often the consolation prize for myths when Zeus decided they had served their purpose.

While Asclepius does not often appear on reliefs, he is frequently found in sculptures as a bearded man with a serpent entwined staff. A non-venomous Mediterranean snake, called Aesculapian snake is named for Asclepius.

In classical times, a cult formed around the myth of Asclepius. Temples of healing were built in his name and often non-venomous snakes were used in the healing rituals or left to live in the temple itself. Pilgrims would travel many miles to be healed in these temples by men of medicine who followed Asclepius. Followers of Asclepius took oaths to treat the ill with equality.

The original Hippocratic oath taken by doctors began, “I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods …” The symbol of Asclepius, a serpent entwined staff, was the original medical caduceus. Today, the staff is often entwined by two snakes and topped by wings.

This is the logo of the American Medical Association and features the staff of Asclepius.

This is the logo of the American Medical Association and features the staff of Asclepius.

The resident doctor in Turning Creek is Lee Williams, a Remnant and follower of Asclepius. His unique skills sometimes get him into trouble.

Mythology Mondays: On Holiday

P20.1Harpyiai

This is a depiction of the harpies as they steal food from blind Phineas. Image taken from theoi.com. A great site about Greek myths and an excellent resource.

Mythology Mondays, a fun look at some of the myths who have showed up in the valley of Turning Creek, is on holiday for a week. You can use it to catch up with the myths we have have covered so far:

Harpies

Iris, The Messenger

Hephaestus

Dionysus

Join us again on December the 29th when we take a peek at Asclepius, who could bring the dead back to life.

Happy Holidays!

Convergence

I was prepared for much of the publishing process. My experience with nonfiction and the research I conducted beforehand helped. There was one thing, though, which neither of these things prepared me for.

Being a writer is a strange thing. Ask any writer and they will tell you we do not live alone in our heads. I live with a miasma of people, their histories and foibles inside my head. They have conversations with each other (which I scramble to jot down in the strangest of places on the note cards I carry), they reveal things to me about themselves, and they act out the dramas which they find themselves enmeshed in.

All inside my head. While I am trying to do other things.

It sounds crazy.

Other writers are nodding their heads, in complete understanding.

People who are not writers often ask, “Aren’t they characters you made up? What do you mean they tell you things and you can’t make them do whatever you want? They aren’t real.”

In my head they are real. It is like having my brain full of imaginary friends.

Then, I did something all writers want to do to the people in their heads. I wrote them down, published them in a book, and now people are reading about the people who live in my head.

The strangest thing has happened to me since then, a convergence.

People are coming up to me and talking to me about my imaginary friends as if they were real. I realize this is a compliment, that they have connected with the characters in a way that makes them real, makes the reader care. It is both hilarious and exhilarating to discuss the motivations of the people I have made up and live in the world I created with other people. I did not expect these conversations and I am enamored of them.

After spending so much time with the characters of Turning Creek, I care for them. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They make me hope for something better in their lives. I want them all to find their purpose and live their life in a way which displays justice, mercy, and love. It breaks my heart to know not all of them will succeed. Most will, but only after much struggle.

Every day, someone else discovers Petra and the gang and it makes me smile to know my characters have taken up residence in someone else’s brain. For a little while, at least.

Want to meet Petra? Lightning in the Dark is available in various formats for your reading pleasure.

 

Mythology Mondays: Dionysus

Every Monday, I highlight a different Greek myth that has woven its way into the Turning Creek series. The first book, Lightning in the Dark, is out now. If you pay close attention to the details, you will see where some of the elements and history of the series originated.

Today’s post is up later than normal. Mea culpa.

I want to talk about Dionysus.

If you are like me, the first image that comes to mind when you think about this Greek god is the song from Fantasia where everything starts out nice, but then the wine comes out and they all get drunk. Looking back, it is an odd choice for a children’s musical.

dionysus

 

Dionysus, known also as Bacchus in later traditions, is the god of the harvest, of wine, of the earth, and fertility. His image runs the gamut from an overweight fun, loving god, to a long haired effeminate youth with an over large phallus. Like many of the gods, his story varies by region. He is most commonly thought to be the son of Zeus and the Theban princess, Semele. He was the only god on Mount Olympus whose parents were not both divine.

Unfortuntely for Semele, Zeus loved her dearly and this did not make Hera, his wife happy. Through trickery, she  got Semele to request to see Zeus’s true face. Being mortal, she could not gaze upon the visage of a god without dying. Before she perished, Zeus removed her unborn son and but him in his own side until he was ready to be born. After he was born (the details on just how he came to be born are sketchy), Hermes carried the infant Dionysus to the nymphs of Nyse. He lived in a cave by the sea for nine years.

“So the God of the Vine was born of fire and nursed by rain, the hard burning heat that ripens the grapes and the water that keeps the plants alive.” – Edith Hamilton

When he comes of age, Dionysus spends years wandering the earth trying to convince different cities and regions that he was a god and thus should be worshiped. Dionysus had a serious pride and image issue, like pretty much every other Greek god.

His method for proving his divinity was usually a two or three step process. He would first demand to be worshiped. When the town refused, he would show them then gifts of the vine aka teach them how to grow grapes and make wine. If this was not enough, he would cause the women of the town to go insane and rip men to shreds. This was the beginning of the origin of the maenads and the Bacchantic women. He sounds like a really fun guy to have at parties.

As history progressed, Dionysus’s role in worship and in the myths morphed into something more than just about grapes and wine. He became a god of fertility, a god of nature, and a god of order and peace. It seems that Dionysus the myth matured and found order in the natural cycles of nature and earth.

In the Turning Creek series, Dionysus appears as the owner of the local saloon, Daniel Vine.

 

Mythology Mondays: Hephaestus

Every Monday, I highlight a different Greek myth that has woven its way into the Turning Creek series. The first book, Lightning in the Dark, is out now. If you pay close attention to the details, you will see where some of the elements and history of the series originated.

Today, we are talking about Hephaestus, the god of the forge, fire, masonry, metalworking, sculpture, and craftsmanship. In some myths, he is the son of Zeus and Hera. In others, he is the son of Hera alone.

Hephaestus, though a powerful man, was born sickly and ugly. In anger over his appearance, Hera threw him off Mount Olympus when he was born. He lived in a grotto for nine years, cared for by sea divinities. He learned to work the forge and he plotted revenge.

To regain his place among the gods of Olympus and to retaliate against Hera, Hephaestus crafted a golden throne for his mother. When she sat in it, overwhelmed by the gift, invisible fetters encircled her and she was immobilized. Dionysus, with motivations of his own, went down from Mount Olympus, got Hephaestus drunk, and convinced him to let his mother go. Hephaestus did as asked and Dionysus was rewarded with a place in the heavens with the gods.

Hephaestus crafted all manner of weapons and furnishings for the gods of Olympus. He made and wielded the ax which split Zeus’s forehead to birth Athena. He also crafted golden handmaidens who assisted him in the forge. As an aside, knowing what I know about Greek myths, I have to wonder exactly what kind of “assisting” they were doing.

In the myths, Hephaestus has two wives. Aphrodite was his first wife. She was an unfaithful companion to the god of fire and pined for her true love, Ares. Hephaestus takes revenge on her infidelity by creating chains which bound Aphrodite and her lover to the bed. Once ensnared, Hephaestus called all the gods to come and mock them. He divorced Aphrodite and married Algaia, one of the three Graces. Algaia is said to have borne him many children.

In my series, Hephaestus is Henry Foster, the blacksmith of Turning Creek. He is a quiet, hardworking man who is one of the few people the harpies count as a close friend.

 

Lightning in the Dark is Out

My book is making its debut, and while it is not wearing a white dress, it does have a darn fine cover. Here is a peek at the print cover which is even more beautiful than the ebook version:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00071]

 

Lightning in the Dark, set in Colorado Territory in 1858, is filled with harpies, cattle herding, drinking, kissing, cheese, battles against evil, and general shenanigans. I know you are all dying to read it so here are the buy links:

print: Amazon, CreateSpace
ebook: Amazon, Google Play, Kobo, iTunes, Nook, All Romance

All the vendors should be live by the end of the week.

I am unsure what to even write this morning. I swing wildly from being excited to having a panic attack. I am scared no one will read it. I am scared that everyone will.

I started writing this series because harpies were fascinating and I wanted to redeem them. I wanted to write a book I would love to read, a historical fantasy with some romance. I set the series in one of my favorite places, Colorado, because my soul belongs in the mountains. While parts of the process were painful, development edits, other parts were fantastic, seeing the cover for the first time.

I love writing this series. The draft of the second one is already to my editor and I have started the third. There will be four full length books and two novellas before I am done with Turning Creek. It is going to be a fabulous ride.

Mythology Mondays: Iris

Welcome to Mythology Mondays!

Every Monday, I highlight a different Greek myth that has woven its way into the Turning Creek series. If you pay close attention to the details, you will see where some of the elements and history of the series originated.

Today, the day before Lightning in the Dark is officially on sale, I want to highlight the myth of Iris, on which the lovely postmistress of Turning Creek is based.

Iris was the daughter of the sea god, Thaumas, and the cloud nymph, Electra. Iris shared parentage with the harpies. Iris was the personification of the rainbow. She had golden wings and carried two items: a caduceus or winged staff and a ewer of water from the River Styx. She used the water to put those who perjured themselves to sleep.

Iris was the messenger of the gods and could travel swiftly to any place in the world, above the land, under the sea, and to the underworld. In some myths, Iris was the handmaiden and messenger to Hera herself.

Iris had a twin, Arke, who had iridescent wings. Arke became the messenger to the Titans, the enemies of the gods of Olympus. As punishment for this betrayal, Arke’s wings were taken from her by Zeus and given to Achilles.

Iris was married to Zephyrus, the god of the west wind who was also the lover of Celaeno, the harpy. No one does infidelity and other shenanigans like the Greek gods. The son of Iris and Zephyrus was Pothos, the god of sexual longing.

In my series, Iris is the postmistress of a small town. She is the sage, prophet, and friend of the harpies of her generation. Iris sees it as her duty to keep her harpies grounded and help them to be better versions of themselves. She loves old books, letters, and people.

Want to read more about the characters in Turning Creek? Lightning in the Dark, the first book of the series, comes out December 2nd.

It will be available at (links will be live December 2, 2014):

ebook: Amazon, Google Books, Nook, Kobo, All Romance

Print: Amazon, CreateSpace

Mythology Mondays: Harpies

Welcome to the first post in a new series: Mythology Mondays.

The world of Turning Creek is populated with Remnants, descendants of the Greek myths, who have spent the years since the Fall of Olympus blending into mortal society and seeking a life of peace. When I started writing this series, I had some vague ideas about Greek myths, but getting to know the harpies has meant getting to know a ton of other myths as well.

Every Monday, I will highlight a different Greek myth that has woven its way into my series. If you pay close attention to the details, you will see where some of the elements and history of the Turning Creek series originated.

Today, I want to talk about the monsters that started it all: the harpies.

One of the most famous descriptions comes from Dante’s Inferno, which most of us had to read in school and some of us actually enjoyed.

Here the repellent harpies make their nests,
Who drove the Trojans from the Strophades
With dire announcements of the coming woe.
They have broad wings, with razor sharp talons and a human neck and face,
Clawed feet and swollen, feathered bellies; they caw
Their lamentations in the eerie trees

 

The English word harpy comes from the Latin word harpeia and the Greek word harpayia which means “that which snatches” or “swift robbers.” They are famous for many things, including snatching the daughters of Pandareus and delivering them to the Furies and for snatching food from the table of blind Phineus. The harpies were said to be Zeus’s agents of punishment who would torture people on their way to Tartarus and steal things at his command. In some tales, they are called the “hounds of Zeus.”

The number and descriptions of the harpies varies depending on the author of the myth. The number of harpies range from one to three and they are called by a variety of names with different spellings, again, depending on the author. In the earlier myths, the harpies are nothing but the personified destructive power of storm winds. Later they are winged, fair-haired women. Their appearance continued to evolve into that of the foul, bird-like creatures we think of today. They were always seen as violent, destructive, and cruel.

There are four names most often mentioned in relation to the harpies: Aello (storm swift), Celaeno (the dark one) who is sometimes referred to as Podarge (fleet foot), and Ocypete (swift wing).

They lived on the islands of Strophades, also called the Islands of Turning. It was on these islands that they tortured Phineas until the Argonauts came to his rescue. Before Boreades could kill them, the goddess Iris, winged rainbow messenger of the gods and sister to the harpies, interceded on their behalf. At her request, the harpies were spared, but confined to the islands.

The horses of Achilles, Xanthus and Balius, were the result of a union between Celaeno/Podarge and her lover, Zephyron, the West Wind. Zephyron was married to Iris, her sister. Scandalous!

I chose the harpies as my main characters because I wanted to redeem them. I wanted to know what would happen if a violent creature was forced to live in the world with people and how they would reconcile their own nature with that of the world around them.

Come back next Monday when we talk about Iris, messenger of the gods and defender of the harpies.

Interested in the Turning Creek series? Lightning in the Dark comes out December 2nd. Available from Amazon, B&N, Google, Kobo, and iBooks. Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a new release.

A Collection of Words

I am a collector of words.

I always have been. I cannot imagine collecting anything else. From a young age, I hoarded books the way other kids hoarded barbies and dolls. The words in books changed my view of the world. They buried themselves in my soul and wove their way into my life. They changed who I was and helped me become who I am in this moment.

At some point, I started collecting other words. Snippets of things I read, things people would say, or words I found amusing. (Fisticuffs is truly a delightful word.) I would jot these words on paper, in notebooks, or on the stack of index cards I began to carry as an adult. I love a well-turned phrase. I collect them. The act of writing them down somehow burns them into my brain. Later, I can take them out, roll them on my tongue, and revisit the emotion in them.

Perhaps, it is a natural progression of collecting words in books, to collecting words on paper, to finally collecting one’s own words. I started writing words from my own imaginings.

The words I wrote when I was younger were touching in their naivete, but I see the seed of the adult I would be in them. I kept writing over the years, most writers have some kind of compulsion which pushes them to write, and I am no different. I wrote stories, poems, and, eventually, nonfiction as my schooling and profession required. Now, I am free to again write fiction and collecting these words has been joyous toil.

I am a collector of words. I read them. I relish them. I feel them. I create them.

Go out and discover some words today, someone else’s or your own, and be a collector of something fabulous.