Mythology Mondays: Medusa

Welcome to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series. The first two books, Lightning in the Dark and Storm in the Mountains are out now.

Like the Sphinx from last week, most people have heard of Medusa even if they do not know her full story. Her snake hair and creepiness have woven their way into our cultural memory. The beautiful woman with serpents for hair that can turn a man to stone is the popular version of this myth. There are even books and cartoons for kids with Medusa as a character who is not at all scary.

There is a whole goddess series of books for girls and Medusa is featured in one.
There is a whole goddess series of books for girls and Medusa is featured in one.

In some of the first Medusa myths, Medusa was part of a triad of female monsters called the Gorgons. The Gorgons were sisters with scales for skin, hair for snakes, and small wings sprouting from their temples. The three sisters, Medusa, Stheno, and Euryale, lived near the ocean in some stories and in others they guarded the door to the Underworld. Medusa was the only one of the three that was mortal.

In the most popular stories, Medusa was once a beautiful human woman who made the unfortunate decision to submit to Poseidon in a temple of Athena. This is always a Bad Life Choice as Athena was famously jealous of anyone getting horizontal in her temple without her express permission. To punish Medusa, Athena turned her into a hideous Gorgon. From this union with Poseidon, came Pegasus, the winged horse, and Chrysaor, a giant or a winged boar or a giant winged boar.

In an effort to free his mother, Perseus goes on a quest in which he kills a bunch of things with the help of the gods. One of the monsters he kills is Medusa. With a reflective shield from Athena, a bag of holding* from Hesperides, winged shoes from Hermes, an adamantine sword from Zeus, and a helm of darkness from Hades, Perseus sets off. He sneaks up on the sleeping Medusa and lops off her head. He stuffs it in the bag of holding and, using the helm of darkness, runs like the wind, with the winged shoes, and escapes the other two Gorgon who are infuriated over the death of their sister.

By Ad Meskens; sculpture Antonio Canova (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Perseus holding the head of Medusa.Photo by Ad Meskens; sculpture Antonio Canova
In some versions, Pegasus and Chrysaor spring from Medusa’s severed neck because the Greek’s loved stories of children springing from random body parts. Athena ended up with the severed head (I bet that looked awesome on the mantel) and she once gave a lock of the serpent hair to Hercules. The hair, even though the bearer was dead, retained the ability to turn men to stone. For some time, Athena affixed the head to her shield whenever she went into battle. Legend has it that the head was buried under a mound in Agora.

*Technically, it was a special monster head holding bag.

In Turning Creek, Lily Hughes, the wife of the tailor, is the Remnant of Medusa. She has the ability to mesmerize people, not turn them to stone, and her hair is a perfectly normal shade of brown. She is a very proper lady, unlike our harpies, and almost never uses her ability.


One of the things I have enjoyed about indie publishing is the inherent flexibility. I can say no to my editors, though I almost never do. Why would I? They are almost always right. My timelines and deadlines are imposed and kept by me. I can reschedule and rework them when life happens to me, my family, or someone on my publishing team. Everything is negotiable when you indie publish.

Including your series and how it is laid out.

One of the paths in Holyrood Park in Scotland.
One of the paths in Holyrood Park in Scotland.

Letters in the Snow, Iris’ story, was originally slated to be a novella because when I started writing about Turning Creek, I thought it was just about harpies. I was wrong. It turns out Iris has more to say and I have more to tell about what is going on in our little mountain town. At the suggestion/prodding/encouragement of my editor (remember, I said she was almost always right) I am recalculating. A new route has been acquired.

Iris and Henry are getting a full length novel!

I may not be great at writing novellas. I do not tend towards the laconic and there are things and events happening in this book that will change everything for Iris, for the harpies, and for Turning Creek. Now that Letters in the Snow is slated to be a full length novel, I can explore the full ramifications of everything in my head and I could not be more excited.

Things to be revealed include Iris’s past, her family, and what happens when you get a bunch of Remnants and mortals in one place. It is going to be a good ride.

This does mean my timeline for the release of Letters may change. I would love to say for sure I will have another book for you in 2015, but it may not happen. I have other things going on in my life besides writing (ridiculous, right?) We can always recalculate our route and choose a different path.

I am also considering doing some YA offshoots with some of the other Remnants. I promise to finish up the harpies first.

Until then, enjoy Lightning and Storm and share them with your friends. The ebook of Lightning in the Dark will stay .99 for a little longer.

Now, I better get writing.


Mythology Mondays: Sphinx

Mythology Mondays: Achilles

Welcome to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series. The first two books, Lightning in the Dark and Storm in the Mountains are out now.

Achilles is one of those Greek heroes that everyone knows something about because his name is used in conjunction with a cultural phrase, “to be an Achilles’ heel,” which means you are the weak link.

"Achilles in Corfu" by Dr.K. - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Achilles in Corfu” by Dr.K.

Achilles was the son of Peleus and Thetis, a sea nymph. When Menelaus rallied Greece to help him recover Helen from Paris (the man not the city), Achilles was kept from the draft by his mother who disguised him as a girl and hid him in the court of Lycomedes. Odysseus, who also joined the war under duress, was sent to fetch the boy. Odysseus disguised himself as a peddler and took shiny trinkets for the ladies and an array of weapons. The ladies of the court flocked to the shiny things, as women do, and the boy Achilles fingered the weapons thus revealing his true gender.

You read that right. This plot was furthered by sexism: men can not keep from fondling their weapons and women can not resist sparkly things.

Achilles was eager for war, as all young men are, apparently, and went with Odysseus despite his mother’s prophetic predictions of his death.

Very brief is your lot. Would that you could be free now from tears and troubles, for you shall not long endure, my child, short-lived beyond all men and to be pitied. – Thetis to Achilles

The Trojan war waged for years, fueled by deceitful women and vengeful men. Achilles and Agememnon, who fought for the same side, entered into a vicious feud over the fate of two women. Thetis begged Zeus to put an end to the war, which was so fierce that even the gods were at odds with each other.

There are a few different versions of Achilles’ death, but they all have one thing in common. He was shot in his heel by an arrow which killed him while he was in Troy. Achilles was one of the Greek’s most famous and valiant warriors and we was worshiped by heroic cults. He is also revered in Corfu, Greece as the patron of platonic love.

In Turning Creek, Thomas, an orphan taken in by Iris, is the Remnant of Achilles. I took some license with the original Greek myth. In my version, Achilles was blessed with speed and strength. The seat of his power was in his heels and when he was shot by an arrow, he lost his power and was defeated. His Remnants often exhibit enhanced speed or strength.


Book Birthday: Storm in the Mountains

Storm Cover


Today is the day I launch book two of the Turning Creek series into the wild. Storm in the Mountains tells the story of Marina and how she finds her true purpose. With Marina, things are never easy. In this book, you will find saloon fisticuffs; throw-down brawls with monsters of all kinds; women who love their whiskey, tea, and coffee; a harpy who is always ready for an adventure; dialog full of wit and snark; and a man who knows the best things sometimes have the biggest thorns.

Here is the blurb:

Marina Ocypete is a harpy, a Remnant of the Greek myth living in a small town in the Colorado Territory She would rather start a decent fight than sit around idle. The local sheriff offers her a job as a deputy which seems like a better choice than suffering from boredom, but Reed Brant has a way of getting under her skin.

With the influx of Remnants in his town, Reed needs Marina’s skills as a harpy to keep the peace. His head knows she is not the get married and settled down type he wants, but she might be just the thing his heart desires.

When women start disappearing in Turning Creek, it will be up to Marina and Reed to find the cause behind the fear gripping their town. Marina will have to choose between a fate she never questioned and the man who makes her believe even a harpy can have a heart.

Order your very own copy at these fine establishments:

print: Amazon, CreateSpace
ebook: Amazon, Google Play, Kobo, Nook, AllRomance

Links will go live as soon as vendors are up.

To celebrate Marina’s book birthday, I am giving away a Colorado Book and Coffee package which includes a signed copy of Lightning in the Dark, a signed copy of Storm in the Mountains, a Colorado coffee mug, a tree ornament made from recycled Colorado pine, and a bag of gourmet coffee. Click on the entry form below and share with your friends!
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Mythology Mondays: Chimera

Welcome to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series. The first book, Lightning in the Dark, is out now. The second book, Storm in the Mountains, will be out July 1st.

I am not sure what is is about Greeks and monsters but rarely were their monsters ever just really big ants or larger than normal, aggressive spiders. All their monsters are one part this, another part this, and why not just throw a goat head on top for kicks, shall we?

The chimera had the body of a lion, the tail of a snake, a set of goat udders, and a goat head projecting up from the middle of its back. Why the udders and random goat head? I think someone had an unhealthy phobia of milking goats but couldn’t convince his friends of the danger, so he mixed the goat with a lion body and snake tail. Instantly scary. Or weird. Maybe both. The important question is, if you could milk a chimera, what kind of cheese would it make?

The Chimera on a red-figure Apulian plate, c. 350–340 BC (Musée du Louvre).
The Chimera on a red-figure Apulian plate, c. 350–340 BC (Musée du Louvre).

Thanks to Buffy, we all know how common barn animals can be frighting. “Except for bunnies.” Thanks, Anya.

The chimera was a female monster in the myths, the daughter of Echidna and Typhon. According to Homer, the chimera had three heads, one lion, one serpent, and one goat to represent the three species which made up the whole. She also had the charming ability to breathe fire.

Bellerophon was sent on a quest to kill the chimera, which he did, riding his trusty steed, Pegasus.

In Turning Creek, the chimera does have the head of a lion and the hind quarters of a snake. I left out the goat bits because I found them a little too odd. The chimera is male, in my tale, and spits fire, though Marina does not give it much of a chance to do so.


Naming Mountains

When I set out to name the place that my harpies would live, I wanted it to have meaning and sound like a western town. In Greek myths, the harpies are banished to the islands of Strophades, which means the isles of turning or returning. Thus, Turning Creek, the place where each harpy must make a choice about her future, was named.

I struggle with naming the mountains more than anything else. More than the names of characters. Definitely more than the names of the books themselves.

I can only conclude it is because mountains are, by far, my favorite topographical feature. Most of the names of the mountains are slight variations on real peaks in Colorado and Wyoming. Pikus Peak. Baldy. Lady’s Favor. Atlas’s Peak. The Twins. Shaker’s Way. They all pay homage to real mountains found in one of the best regions of the US.

Only one name was borrowed from a real place: Silvercliff.

Silvercliff on a sunny summer day.
Silvercliff on a sunny summer day.

Nestled in the middle of Colorado, down the road from the small towns of Buena Vista and Nathrop, there is a camp called Silver Cliff Ranch. It sits at the base of a cliff face called Silvercliff, named for the grey rock which makes up its exposed face.

Silvercliff in shadow.
Silvercliff in shadow.

For the past two years, I have spent a week at Silver Cliff with high school students from my church. I could tell you hilarious stories of shenanigans, touching tales of how students stepped forward to love each other, or amazing ways God has used five short days to impact the lives of the people on the trip.

All the stories would never do the place or the people justice. It is a cherished place in a state that I love.

In the Turning Creek books, Silvercliff is Dora’s home. Dora, who is the most introspective and sensitive of the harpies, lives near the peak of the mountain named for a place that has changed many lives. It is fun, as an author to pay homage to things that hold weight in my life.

In a few short days, I will board the bus again and head to Silvercliff. I will wake up in the mornings and watch the sun rise from a fallen log on the mountain. I will hear the birds sing and the crisp air will remind me that I am home.

Nothing is better than a sunrise in the mountains.
Nothing is better than a sunrise in the mountains.

Mythology Mondays: Hera

Welcome to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series. The first book, Lightning in the Dark, is out now. The second book, Storm in the Mountains, will be out in July.

The Barberini Hera statue of Roman origin.
The Barberini Hera statue of Roman origin.

Hera was the queen of the gods of Olympus and wife to Zeus, supreme ruler of the gods. While many of the other gods have roots in different regions, Hera is strictly Greek in origin. She was the goddess of marriage which is amusing because her marriage was fraught with strife. At one time, Hera contemplated putting Zeus in chains and once he suspended her in the clouds by her wrists with anvils on her ankles.

Zeus was as famous for his infidelities as Hera was for her jealous nature and the manner in which she punished the women Zeus seduced. Zeus, on the other hand, almost always got away without a scratch. Figures.

Hera pursued Leto unto the ends of the earth while the woman was in childbirth. Leto, wracked with pain, wandered the earth looking for a safe place to give birth, until Asteria, taking pity on the woman, offered her haven. Io was changed into a cow by Zeus to cover up his transgression and Hera stole the cow Io and treated it mercilessly. Hero turned Callisto into a bear and ordered Artemis to hunt it down like a wild animal. Hera killed Semele with trickery and a lightning bolt.

Hera’s wrath was not limited to the mothers. She often hunted, cursed, or generally made the lives of the numerous offspring of Zeus’ unions miserable.

Hera was also celebrated as the goddess of family. She was such a loving mother she threw one of her sons, Hephaestus, over the cliff after his birth because he was deformed. Hera was a hard lady to please.

Hera herself has not made an appearance in Turning Creek. Most of the gods and goddesses disappeared into history after the Fall of Olympus. The harpies have been known to utter the exclamation, “Oh, for Hera’s sake.”

Summer Sale

Many of you will be traveling this summer. Most of my favorite trips are ones that Mr. Rochester and I have taken together: Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in summer, Jackson Hole in winter, Scotland, Germany, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and more. We always manage to find the best local beer and walk until we find something of interest.

You might dream of a vacation on a beach like this:


Surfboards for rent in Costa Rica.
Surfboards for rent in Costa Rica.



Or you may want to sit at a cafe like this:

Order a bier and relax, friend.
Order a bier and relax, friend.


Or you may just want to escape into the wilderness:

Telluride, CO
Telluride, CO


No matter what you want to do, you will need a good book. Lightning in the Dark (now with bonus content!) is on sale at all major vendors (except iBooks, sorry). It will remain on sale until a little after Storm in the Mountains is released. When will that be? In the first couple weeks of July, depending on how fast I get it formatted.

Buy a Lightning in the Dark ebook for yourself or a friend.

Amazon, Google Play, Kobo, Nook

Mythology Mondays: The River Styx

Welcome to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series. The first book, Lightning in the Dark, is out now. The second book, Storm in the Mountains, will be out in July.

Who else wants to totally rock this shirt?
Who else wants to totally rock this shirt?

I am not going to talk about Styx, the 1970s band, who are on tour this summer, and whose songs seem to be composed entirely of earworms. “Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with meeeeee.”

I am going to talk about the River Styx, the river you only see in Greek Mythology if you are dead and your loved ones remembered to put a coin in your mouth or on your eyes for the ferryman’s fee.

The river was named after the goddess Styx, who personified hatred and was an ally of Zeus in the Titan wars. Styx had many children who served under Zeus. She lived in a grotto above the river bearing her name in the underworld.

When a god or goddess took an oath, Iris would fly to the underworld and retrieve a cup of water from the river. The vow was made “By the River Styx” as the oath giver poured out the water from the cup. This vow was seen as binding.

The River Styx separated the world of the dead from the world of the living. When a soul made its way down to the river, it was transported into the underworld by Charon, the ferryman.

The Styx was not the only river of the underworld, but it is the most famous. In Dante’s Inferno, it is the river of the fifth circle of hell. This circle was reserved for people guilty of wrath, anger, and sulliness.

See the souls over whom anger prevailed. In the warm bath of the sun they were hateful, down here in the black sludge of the river Styx do they wish they had never been born.” — Dante’s Inferno, by Virgil

In Turning Creek, Petra is fond of the exclamations “Styx and fire.” Both Petra and Marina are known to say “hells” and “Styx.” All of these sayings reflect Virgil’s version of the underworld with its many levels.

The Remnants, like the real Greek myths, make binding vows “By the River Styx” though they do not dump out water from the river when they do so.