Monday, May 31, 2010

Seems like a bad mistake to me ...

Confusing me with the daughter of a prominent politician and stealing her photo from face book seems like a really stupid mistake. ... It's a worse mistake to send her and her relatives stupid messages. But ... hey, that's only my opinion.

Better luck next time boys. ... And here's hoping that you made her daddy good and mad. ...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

For Bernita ....

Sockburn became, by episcopal grant, the seat of the Norman family of Conyers, soon after the Norman conquest. The legend which accounts for their establishment is as follows: " In an ould manuscript which I have sene of ye descent of Conyers, there is writ as followeth: Sr John Conyers, knt. slew yt monstrous and poysonous vermine or wyverne, and aske or werme, who overthrew and devoured many people in fight, for that ye sent of yt poison was so strong yet no person might abyde it. And by the providence of Almighty God this John Conyers, kt., overthrew ye saide monster, and slew it. But before he made this enterprise, having but one sonne, he went to the church of Sockburne in compleate armour, and offered up yt his only sonne to ye Holy Ghost. Yt place where this great serpent lay was called Graystane; and as it written in ye same manuscript, this John lieth buried in Sockburne church in compleat armour before the conquest."

The ancient service by which the manor of Sockburn was held, proves that the legend is of no modern origin. "At the first entrance of the bishop into his diocese, the lord of Sockburn, or his steward, meets him in the middle of the river Tees, at Neshamford, or on Croft-bridge, and presents a faulchion to the bishop, with these words: ' My lord bishop, I here present you with the faulchion wherewith the champion Conyers slew the worm, dragon, or fiery flying serpent, which destroyed man, woman, or child; in memory of which, the king then reigning gave him the manor of Sockburn, to hold by this tenure, that upon the first entrance of every bishop into the country, this faulchion should be presented. The bishop takes the faulchion in his hand, and immediately returns it courteously to the person who presents it, wishing the lord of Sockburn health and a long enjoyment of the manor.'"

Roger Conyers was made constable of Durham castle; and according to the MS. a second Roger succeeded his father, and to him followed a third.

From: The Local Records of Stockton and the Neighbourhood; or a Register of Local Events Chronologically Arranged Which Have occurred in and Near Stockton Ward and the North-Eastern Parts of Cleveland, by Thomas Richmond, Stockton, England, 1868.

Oh, oh, oh and guess what!!! I got out our family's huge genealogy book:

We descend from the same John Conyers via his name sake born in 1225 who married Agness St. Quinten; Their son was Humphrey, born about 1250. I have no wife for him.

Humphrey's son was another John born in 1270 in either Stockburn or Stockbridge, Durham. This John married Scholastica, Lord Coburn's daughter. Their son was Roger born about 1315 in Stockburn.

The Conyers line continues to Johana (aka Joan) Conyers, the daughter of Baron Christopher Robert Conyers. Johana married Philip Dymoke, King's Champion. That line continues until Margaret Dymock married Thomas, Baron Fitz-William about 1425 as a best guess.

Eventually the family turns into Woodroofs (various spellings). The Barons Woodroof were occasionally also High Sheriffs of York. Soo …. Hi cousin!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Your task, should you accept it ...

The Lambton worm [snake, wyrm, dragon] shorn of its mythological accretions ... real?

Odd Comments, Little Boy Stalkers, and Photos

The Mask - 1937

Odd stuff

I spend some time in a Writers’ chat room and in an online virtual community. I get some odd comments sometimes, and I’ve acquired a stalker or two. They’re not good at it. They’re little boys with damaged egos. On the odd comment side came this:

Him: You’re gorgeous. How did you get to be so gorgeous?

Me: You’ve never seen my photo. How would you know?

Him: Yes I have. You have red hair and satanic eyes. I’ve become a fan.

Okay you little gay boys and any others who may be looking, here’s the “scoop” on photos:
As far as I know there are five photos of me online. There is one that makes my hair look reddish. It does not show my face, certainly not my eyes. My hair is blond; the reddish tint is a scanner effect. There are two photos of me as a child. These are full face photos. I’m not identified by name.
The fifth photo is really of someone else. I’m in the background. It’s a wedding photo taken outside a church by a German photographer. The original appeared in a German magazine. I attended the wedding and I am standing in the background. I wear a white dress with pink trim. I was 19 when the photo was taken. The photo is of my dad’s cousin and his then new bride. It’s on an English language site hosted in the Netherlands. The site is run by a sort of fan who follows certain American and European families around the news magazines and gossip columns. She scanned the photo. I’m not identified.

That’s it, little boys. If you’re good little web-detectives, which you aren’t, you may be able to figure a bit of this out.

Want more help? Sure you do.

There is a photo of me in an old issue of People Magazine. It was taken when I was a toddler. It is someone else’s photo. They’re holding me. I’m not identified by name. Didn’t help much, did it? But you can spend some time in the magazine stacks thumbing through back issues of People … Have fun doing it.

Oh yes! I’m in a group photo in US News and World Report. The photo was taken when I was about 14. The article is about one of my mom’s cousins and his political ambitions. I’m in a group shot that includes lots of relatives. We’re sitting on some equipment related to his profession. I’m not identified by name.

That, dear hearts, is all there is outside of family albums. I wish you good hunting and tons of frustration.

Irrational decisions ....

My doctor called last night. We had “the discussion” again. The result is I’ve canceled the rest of my tests. There’s no point to them. He upped my one medication by a half a pill a day. That may not sound like much, but a half pill can put you to bed. It’s a very potent pill, one of those drugs that have a black “you can die from taking this pill” box in the PDR. It also means I’ll be having liver function tests monthly again too because this pill can kill your liver.

“The discussion” was about surgery. We’ve had the same talk every year for the past five. My answer is still, ‘no.’ That decision may be irrational. The surgery does benefit some. But … I’ve met people who’ve undergone the torture, one of them before they had it. We made friends, she and I, and I call her once a week or so. I see her maybe once a year. I watched the light go out of her eyes. I won't let that happen to me. I'd reather die first.

I don’t want to lose the spark of thought that is me. I don’t want to find myself thinking for a quarter of a minute before I can finish basic tasks. Even balanced against the probability of a few years of life expectancy, the answer is, “no.” I intend to retain that which lights the spark of thought as long as I can.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It is ironic ...

It's ironic that I had to cancel out of my EEG today because I'm too sick to travel to the hospital. .... Oh well, I didn't want to have that blinkin' test no how no way ...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This morning ...

I meant to post something else before I take off for some medical tests. I'm taking my laptop, and I'll get to it later.

I read in this morning's news about an ISP shut down by the Feds for hosting spyware, malware, child porn, and other unsavory things. The article made my day. There's a little server service in Chicago that does the same. I spent some time on the phone this morning with someone I used to work with back in the bad days at one of the agencies with three letter abbreviations. (If you're thinking CIA, you're too funny for words. ... Though they have cool coffee mugs. 'tweren't that exiting, Bub.) They now work for the FTC. (See how innocent three letters can be?)

I passed on what I know and what I suspect. Here's hopin' that that little service in Chicago goes the way of the other bad guys ... Maybe they're just stupid. Lots of stupid people out there. I think this is a small-timer who's lost control of his business, though that may be too kind given the circumstances.

Anyway, I'm tired. I'm going off to be poked, prodded, pricked, shoved in a machine and generally abused by doctors and medical techs.

I don't have time to type out what I intended. ... Maybe later.

I found a dragon's tooth this morning. Okay, so it looks suspiciously like a rock, but it's shaped like a dragon's tooth, and IF I SAY it's a dragon's tooth it must BE one. Right? Really, it is shaped just like a huge fang. Most of the rock is greenish mudstone, which is a fancy way of saying it's a sedimentary rock composed of green and black sands compressed to stone. The "root" of the tooth is banded in white quartz. I'm sure this is a dragon's tooth ... aren't you?

Dau #2 is coming with us. I think we get to come home tonight. This usually turns into a week or two of driving back and forth to a largish (so large the hospital has street signs in the hallways) medical facility. I see some obnoxious doctors who ask the same questions as last time. I get stuck with pins and made to engage in strange behaviors such as touching my nose with my eyes closed (honest, just like you do with a drunk you've pulled over) and walk a straight line. They steal blood! Dirty rotten vampires! And they shove me into this tube like thing and say, now don't be nervous and be very still. It's a very unpleasant experience.

At the end they send you home with a "Have a great day," or something similar. And in a week or two they call you up and you talk to the doctor who said, "Holy Molly, Lady. You're about the same as last time, but older." Such is life in the "bleck, life sux" lane.

I never surrender though. Oh, I think about it. Sometimes I want to, but there is something about surrendering in any circumstance that seems wrong to me.

Sometimes life is only the unwelcome interlude between non-existance and the death sleep. And sometimes I just want to sleep. But on the whole, I'd rather be finding dragon's teeth and imagining that I see the hidden worlds that exist within our own. It's much more fun to see those things than the nasty, dirty realities that exist in the more visible world.

There is enough incidental historical evidence for oversized snakes in Europe up to the 1600's to make me wonder about dragons of the wyrm sort. You should go wandering off in search of the roots of dragon myth. ...

I see it's almost time to go ... damn it! I don't want to go.

I sat up most of the night. I have a comfort chair, and I spent much of the night sitting in it, my elbow resting on the left arm and my head resting on my hand. I slept some, but not much. Hopefully, I'll sleep in the car. I usually do.

One last thought ... My current historical research has taught me - or retaught me - to never credit "heros" with lives they did not live, thoughts they did not think, or totally pure motives. You will be disappointed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The world as it is ... or maybe ...

Sometimes the world is a different place than you think it to be.

I was raised in a very socially conservative religion. It wasn’t my father’s religion. He grew up in a Community Church with no real feeling for religion. It was my mother’s religion, taken on early in life and adhered to until her death. When I was young, I believed everything uncritically. In many ways I’m still a believer. But I’m not uncritical anymore.

God and I had a falling out sometime back. We seldom talk. And I found that there’s another god out there just waiting to pick up the pieces. He’s not very nice. I’m not sure any god can be called ‘nice.’ But this one is the epitome of selfishness.

I’m angry. Anger has come easy to me for some years now. I resent being sick. I did nothing to merit this. Neither did most of my ancestors back to whoever was the first to bring this nastiness into our family. No one deserves this. My grandmother did not deserve to die with no rational thought left. Her mother did not deserve to die at forty not knowing what was wrong with her. And my mother did not deserve to die, lying on a hospice bed, unable to speak or eat and unaware of our visits.

I reject the false comfort of those who say “God will make it better in time.” It’s a stupid comment and not at all comforting. So, rejecting what comfort might be out there, what is one left with but anger?

Imagine yourself standing on the verge of an alfalfa field in the glow cast by the dawn’s first lights – and angry. Imagine a subtle voice calling to you, the words indistinct but the meaning clear enough. Imagine the rush of wind that comes from you, or from beside you perhaps. You watch it ripple across the field in waves, aware that if you wanted it to it would become waves of intense heat and all before it would wither. And in that realization you have a choice. It’s a choice of God or god. One you are angry with, and one you hate for the selfishness he fosters. Would you choose at all?

What if you absolutely knew that you could at that movement wish someone dead and it would happen. All you have to do is say ‘yes’ to things. Maybe they’re all little things and only take on unwanted dimensions when measured in toto. And maybe for that moment you’d really like them dead. Would you do it? Would you choose to do it?

Suppose you simply refuse to choose; you get in your car and drive down the highway instead. And you see things. You watch the world change into “other.” A huge, broken “erratic” boulder shows you its true form, and it is a leering, gray animal. It sits at someone’s driveway entrance waiting to serve anyone foolish enough to call to it. And you see other things – things with livid skin and dark eyes and darker desires. How do you live with this? With having seen the world as it is just under the surface?

I write fiction. Take this as fiction if you want. But maybe it’s real. What would you do if it were?

Fan Mail

A historian in Canada emailed my writing partner about our history book, Nelson Barbour: The Millennium's Forgotten Prophet, saying:

"I was most impressed. Let me say that what you have written is an outstanding example of historical research underpinned by a real desire to be as objective as one can be. Your fairness to all of the subjects you have dealt with is outstanding, and I learned a great deal."

Nice, huh?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rescuing ...

In her comfort zone!

Saving Books

I bought two books from ebay sellers. Both of them came smelling of mold, which the sellers did not disclose. But all is not lost. I have lots of old paper, including books that go back to the mid 17th Century. [1600’s for the Century Confused.] So, I’ve handled this problem before.

One of the books is very common, but it was cheap. The other is exceptionally rare. This is the tale of the rare book. This book was published in 1859. Though there are a large number of modern print-on-demand reprints on the book sites, no original copy is available. I’m experienced enough to know that this book is probably fairly valued at three hundred dollars is very good condition. The copy I bought is in fair condition only. The covers are damp stained; the front free end paper is gone; the hinges are cracked; The title page is soiled. There’s some writing on the paste down end papers, including bits of a letter. But then I only paid eight dollars and postage.

When I opened the package, the smell was so bad it gave me a head ache. So, how does one fix a nasty smelling book? Dear hearts, by putting it in front of a negative ion generator. If you have a large collection of old books a negative ion generator is an essential. This book has been exposed to negative ions for a week. It’s almost but not quite cured. It’ll go back for another week.

I’m happy to have it. Owning an original, instead of a reprint is important to me, though I’m not sure why. When it no longer stinks like a moldy basement, it will go on one of my research library shelves.

I always check the original owners’ names. Sometimes you find surprising things. The first owner’s name is too faint to read clearly. Next owner was William B. Glover. His obituary is here

The last owner appears to have been Annie E. Cochran. There are some basic census and marriage records, but not much else. She was born in 1860 and died in 1935, assuming I found the right Annie.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Egypt - November 1922

Junk theology and my head ache

For the sake of two paragraphs, I'm reading mounds of 18th and 19th theological speculation about probationism. This is giving me a headache. I think I'm just going to use a quotation from Butler's Analogy of Religion.

My heart isn't in it today. I don't even want to go teach my class. ... but I will. Afterwards, I'm going to the huge new and used bookstore and using up some of my credit. I also have a small pile of religous booklets to take in for credit. I got most of these in ebay lots. I bought a large lot of junk booklets to get an item or two from the lot. Most of this stuff is just awful. One is by a Baptist who favored chiropractic; it's entitled Spinal Adjustment in Southern Baptist Life. [Can you see me shrugging?] The truly nasty one in this bunch is also the most interesting. W. D. Herrstrom, a fundamentalist and anti-semetic writer, produced "The Difference Between Fundmentalism and Modernism." Probably the worst of the lot is a small booklet by "W. B. Dunkum, D.D., Evangelist." It's poorly written, junk theology; it's insipid.

These booklets are typical of the early to mid 20th century. Under-educated evangelists felt complelled to write. It didn't matter what they wrote, just that they did write. They're the Chick tracts of their day, often offensive, always a bit stupid. But people buy then, and I'm trading them for something more interesting.

Child - India - About 1900

When Pixies write ...

Thoughts on the complexity of life and the perversity of printers.

I have an HP Photosmart D7260. I like it, but not the last two days. I can’t get the photo program to recognize the photo tray, and the paper runs through crookedly. I can’t find the problem. Printers are not supposed to frustrate pixies.

I finished my Student Assessments this morning. I have three students that are publication bound if they continue to progress. I’d like them back next year. I specifically asked that one student not be allowed back. He’s likable enough, but he doesn’t produce and he’s disruptive.

I wrote about thirty-two pages of history yesterday. It needs a good edit, and I’ll work on that today. As it stands, the manuscript is full of “develop” notations marking places where we’ll add material. I’m going to change the outline some. We had planned to put everything in chronological sequence, but I can see that won’t work.

This chapter focuses on the development of a publishing ministry and evangelism among early adherents to Zion’s Watch Tower. It examines the issues surrounding the first book published by them. I’m especially happy at finding a comment on the book written by an outsider. It sets things in perspective. We transition into the writing and circulation of a series of tracts, Bible Students Tracts they were called. The titles of some are unknown. But I located one thought lost. I haven’t read it yet, so there is a hole in the manuscript where an analysis will go.

The discussion of the push for a public evangelism on the basis of the Priesthood of all Believers doctrine is still just rough notes on a legal pad. It’s going to be moved to a section of its own, taking its place after a discussion of the tracts.

We had anticipated including a discussion of the small book, Food for Thinking Christians in this chapter. It will become a separate chapter. That leaves an “orphan” chapter called “Approach to 1881.” Many in the broad Second Adventist movement and many outside of the movement expected great events for 1881, though on differing basis.
Pyramidology was popular in that era and accepted by people in the mainstream as well as “fringies.” [just made the word up, thanks.] Smyth’s book found the date significant because of a measurement of the Great Pyramid. A faked Mother Shipton prophecy was believed to be the real deal, and half the English speaking world fell into fits of anxiety. (Don’t ask me why anyone would believe a Mother Shipton prophecy, fake or real. I haven’t a clue what makes people gullible.) Some looked to 1881 on the basis of Bible “chronology.”

Our outline calls for this to follow the chapter on publishing ministry. I’m not sure it fits there. We’ll talk it out.

I found some photos we’ll use. We’re trying to get a good scan of one of them. So far that’s been frustrating because the original is small and low quality. We’re waiting on a scan of the title page of one of the tracts. I found and edited a steel engraved picture of L. D. Broughton, a physician turned spiritualist, and the Library of Congress had a nice period photo of the South Park Presbyterian Church in Newark. I found a photo of the Plymouth Brethren writer F. W. Grant. I’m expecting a photo of Hannibal Goodwin, a Presbyterian clergyman. Goodwin is best known as the inventor of motion picture film, but he plays a different role in this history. He really wasn’t a very nice man, I think.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The trials and tribulations of writing two books at once ...

I should be asleep, but I’m up and typing this. I’ll go to bed when I’m finished with this post.

My poor pixie stories are languishing. My writing partner and I got a huge document dump after a dry spell; so I’ve been digesting newspaper articles from the 1880’s. Some things never change. Reporters then were as moronic as reporters are now and just as inaccurate. But, faulty though the reporting may be, I’ve found some good stuff.

A chapter that we’ve considered almost finished will now be divided into three separate chapters, each needing a massive rewrite to accommodate the new material. An article from the August 1881 New York Sun gives the sort of detail I relish: Names of persons, reactions of participants, physical descriptions.

I haven’t forgotten my pixies though. One little one has followed me around for days reminding me she has a story for me to tell. A new element in this story will be small-fae, the archetypical tiny fairies, except I’m drawing from the darkest side of fairy myth. They have redeeming characteristics though.

Laurell K. Hamilton presented them as vicious. I’m changing their appearance and subtracting the Victorian era elements she retained.

Fairies were turned into little dainty things by our Victorian era ancestors. They aren’t like that, really. The reason some of the fae are called “good” (An example is Robin Goodfellow.) has nothing to do with their generous nature, though Victorians presented matters that way. The “good people” names are all wishful thinking. They express a hope that the wicked, vengeful, capricious creatures refrain from doing their worst. It’s a placating name.

The idea of Fairies as shape-shifters derives from ancient religion. I’m not going to trace that history here. Take my word for it – or research it yourself. I’m going to use a bit of that too. Have you ever looked twice at a leaf skittering in the wind because at first glance you thought it a mouse or other creature? Maybe … just maybe … you saw one of the small fae.

The story keeps boiling through my mind, even as I write religious history. Pixies are persistent. Nag, nag, nag!

I’m a bit stuck on R’s visit to the doctor. She drinks the “cordial” and wakes up with a rash on her back. There’s a quick phone call to her mom, who says puzzling things. A trip to a doctor follows. I’m uncertain about the details. I think I’m sending her to an ER room, but I haven’t decided. The alternative is to send her off to the doctor who’s cared for her form birth. I’ll have to sit her down over a cup of coffee and get her to tell me the details. (You’re laughing at me now, aren’t you!? What’s the matter? Don’t you talk to your characters?)

I don’t want to make the doctor visit a major event. Finding just the right detail is a bit difficult.

Most of the noble and royal houses of Europe claim some fairy intermarriage. This is true of my own family. Though one side of it is probably named for a region in France, they claim that the name Fhay, Faey, Fay, de Fay, proves a fairy ancestry. Several branches of my mom’s family and at least one of my dad’s family claimed descent from Mélusine who is variously presented as the daughter of a witch and the king of Scotland, the daughter of a witch and Satan, and as a fairy child under a curse. In the medieval era, this was taken seriously, and, when pressed, you can find some who still believe it.

The story of Mélusine is but one of several that associate Fairies with snakes. This interests me. The best interpretation of this in more modern times is the short story “Back There in the Grass” by Gouverneur Morris. It appeared first in Colliers’ Magazine in 1911. You can find it online if you’re curious.

Here’s a bit of it:

“Now I don’t like little creatures that snap – so when I picked her up it was by the scruff of the neck. She had to face me then, and I saw that in spite of all the sobbing her eyes were perfectly dry. That struck me as curious. I examined them through a pocket magnifying-glass, and discovered that they had no tear-ducts. Of course she couldn’t cry. Perhaps I squeezed the back of her neck harder than I meant to – anyway, her lips began to draw back and her teeth to show.

“It was exactly at that second that I recalled the legend Graves had told me about the island woman being found dead, and all black and swollen, back there in the grass, with teeth marks on her that looked as if they had been made by a very small child.

“I forced Bo’s mouth wide open and looked in. Then I reached for a candle and held it steadily between her face and mine. She struggled furiously so that I had to put down the candle and catch her legs together in my free hand. But I had seen enough. I felt wet and cold all over. For if the swollen glands at the base of the deeply grooved canines meant anything, that which I held between my hands was not a woman – but a snake.”

Morris got it just right.
I don't have permission to use it, so I didn't post it, but visit M. Savage's gallery and scroll down to his Fairy and Snake print:

Just because I like this one ...

Artist unknown.

well ....

I found a copy of the fold out book reproducing Deifenbach's "per aspera ad astra." I want the book. I love the pictures. The original is a long paneled mural. The book reproduced it as a large fold out ... but ... there is only ONE copy for sale world wide ... and it's five hundred dollars ... alas.

I'll resort to buying the period post cards one by one. ...

Kaiserin Elisabeth

Fairy - About 1900

Sorry, I can't read the artist's name. Anyone know?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stolen Chocolate ...

My interest in religious history probably owes most of its existence to my mother’s religion. She was a gentle soul who belonged to a high-expectation sect. She agonized over its requirements and found herself feeling inadequate until late in life. Why it took her into her sixties to realize that God is infinitely more accepting and patient than a hierarchy that substitutes their opinions for the rule of divine law, I do not know.

Her religion stifles personal research and discourages reading opposition publications. I object to this. It is far more reasonable to engage issues than to ignore them. If you ignore them, you’re adherents are left unprepared. However, their hierarchy views themselves as God-chosen and personal initiative as dangerous.

My mother looked at opposition material as contaminating. My introduction to it was in a public library. A friend drove me to a nearby city because our library didn’t have the material I needed for a project. I was fourteen, and for a fourteen year old was remarkably compliant. I finished my research quickly, leaving me with about two hours of idle time; so I browsed the stacks.

That’s when I found it: A forbidden book, written by a former adherent back in the 1950’s. I knew the book by reputation. I’d heard the adults talk about the author, and they accused him of all sorts of wickedness, probably none of which was true. Its reputation matched its red dust jacket!

I snuck it off the shelf, feeling watched by who knows whom. I put it between two other books and made my way off into the fine arts room. It was usually sparsely occupied. I read the book through as fast as I could. I felt as if I were eating stolen candy.

At the end, it was a let down. The man was angry. The book was a literary temper tantrum. Mixed in were assertions about things that I couldn’t assess from my limited experience. I was left with a so-what’s-the-big-deal feeling.

I research my mother’s religion and cognate movements. I own a copy of this book. It has historical and research value. Things that puzzled me at fourteen are not puzzles for me now. I see the book much as I did back then. It’s anger expressed on the printed page. Some of my mother’s relatives would be shocked to see it on my book shelves. They’d be even more shocked to see some of the others beside it.

Simply forbidding your adherents access to critical material does not solve the issues raised by critics. Addressing them forthrightly does. Substituting your own opinion for the Bible, assuming you hold it to be God’s word, is wrong.

Eventually I hope to write a book detailing this movement’s history from 1944 through 1980. I have other projects to tackle first, but I’ve started collecting material. Maybe I’ve left the impression that I will be highly critical, that I detest this religion. That isn’t so. Most of the adherents are serious, kindly, and well intentioned believers. I have endless sympathy for them.

But there is a story there that is untold; issues exist that seethe under the surface. I want to tell the story without polemic and without writing an apology for things that can’t be easily mended.

Harry ...

It's in German, but it will give you something of an overview of his art.
The original book of prints for the "per aspera ad astra" series
costs about $500.00, if you can find it.
The single hand-colored prints are 2-3 hundred dollars.

Dancing ...

Irritating your readers ... or educating them or ... something


I really like R. A. Salvatore's books - except when I don't. I've just finished reading Promise of the Witch King. It held my interest to the end. Many books don't; so that's high praise from a Pixie who understates things.

The idea of a battle weapon that can strike creaping rust into metal was excellent I really liked the shape-shifting female dragons. ... But, dear Mr. Salvatore, the dialogue you put in your female characters' mouths occasionally sucks bitter fruit. When Arrayana's companion dies you have her say:

"You think to save me," Arrayana wailed, "but don't you know? I cannot be saved to watch you die. Olgerkhan, come back to me. You must! You are all I lobe, all that I have ever loved. It's you, Olgerkhan. It was always you. Please come back!"

What the hell is this bit of nonsense? The woman is morning her dead lover, not throwing a verbal fit. He has her repeat the dead lover's name twice for no reason I can detect.

I'm sure Mr. Salvatore wouldn't turn to me for editorial advice, but he ought to consult a woman about women at least once.

If you're going to put those thoughts into Arrayana's mouth, try this:

"I can't be saved to watch you die! ... Come back to me." The last was whispered. Arryana choked back a sob. "I love you. I've always loved you."

Perhaps the women in Mr. Salvatore's life enjoy the drama of extraneous words, but when I'm crying I don't pad my vocabulary.

Men can write good female dialogue, but you gentlemen need to be observant. Sit in Starbucks and listen to us talk. Watch our gestures. Observe how we express ourselves. Listen to the pattern of our words.

Still, it was a good book. ... And I wish my books sold as well as his do.


Want to know how to peeve your reader? Use big words when little ones will do. Examples from the last book I read: Abinitio; Aboral; Aberact. And that's just the "A" words.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's come to my attention ...

That while I post interesting photos, pictures, videos, scintillating commentary and generally pour my heart out in this blog ... no one comments. .... ....

I'm going to pout now.

Karl W. Diefenbach - The man who met pixies

It was the Scot and not the pony ...

So … I get home from work and find Knobby Knees throwing clothes in a travel bag. Understand, please, that his version of a travel bag is a paper sack. … Anyway, I’m pretty sure that he isn’t leaving me.

“Oh, Hi hun,” he says as he throws some socks into the sack.

“What’s all this?” I ask.

His boss called from the hospital. Mrs. Boss was admitted with angina pains. So poor Knobby Knees is stuck with an out of town meeting. Now he’s a loveable sort for a confusing Scot, but he is a Scot and an Engineer. Bad combination. I get the entire story, even if I don’t want it. I hear about mandrels, grind, defective blast furnaces, and other things that mean absolutely nothing to me. The short of it is that a company that makes titanium tubing for a project is behind in its commitments. He is driving up there to see them and hash it out.

I nod attentively, while taking a quick look inside his sack.

“How long are you going to be gone?” I ask sweetly.

“ … should be home no later than Monday,” he says, interrupting a discussion of grind tolerances or something like that.

“When’s your meeting?” I ask, taking out a pair of socks and replacing it with some that actually match the shoes he's wearing.

“Four-Thirty,” he says.

“Oh,” I say, calculating travel time. “So why are you leaving so early?”

“Don’t want to be late,” he says. He tosses the socks I took out of the sack back in.
I shrug.

I unbutton one of his shirt buttons.

“What were you thinking about, lass?” he says.

I unbutton the next button. “Pink shoes,” I answer.

“Pink shoes?”

“You didn’t ask me …” I unbutton another. “… what I am thinking about, only what I was thinking about.”

Knobby Knees could have taught Spock how to raise one eyebrow. He puts the skill to work.

“What are you thinking about, lass?” He keeps a straight face.

I unbuckle his belt. “Travel time,” I say, “and pink bits.”

He repeats that as a question.
I nod.

… An hour later, he was dressed and on his way. Nice hour, thanks.

Other stuff

On the north side of our land there is what amounts to a cliff face. It’s not a sheer cliff, but steep enough to be called by that name. At the bottom is a treed area. They’re not worth anything as timber; it’s all scrub. But it is valuable as shade and erosion prevention. Besides it’s a nice place to explore.

We’ve been cleaning it out in small increments for several years. People used to drop trash off the cliff and let it roll down below. That was decades ago. We’ve hauled out truck loads of scrap iron and old tires and such. The scrap iron turns into money. The old tires cost us money.

Back in there is an old road. I have traced it through the brush. It crosses over into our neighbor’s property, and there you can see it best in the early morning. It’s been plowed over, so the light has to hit it just right to see it.

I found it on old maps. It shows up on a map from 1895, and the newest map I’ve found that shows it is dated 1912. My goal is to borrow my uncle’s metal detector and walk the road. So far I’ve found an old liniment bottle and some old tall, brown beer bottles, the skinny kind common back in the 1890’s. We found a really damaged model T fender and a bakelite steering wheel from who-knows-what.

There’s a lump of dirt that’s obviously a buried pile of bazillion-year-old trash. If I get time, I’m going to take the girls out there and dig it up just to see what we can find.

More other stuff

I just finished reading R. A. Salvatore’s Promise of the Witch King. I’m a fan of Salvatore’s writing, but I have a comment on this book. I’ll post it later.

More, more other stuff

I read The Revenge of the Shadow King too. This is by Derek Benz and J. S. Lewis. I lost interest about a quarter of the way into it. I’m not sure why. The writing is competent, even excellent in places. I just lost interest. I may go back to it later and give it a second chance. I will have my students read the prologue. It’s the best part of the book, and I’ll use it as a good example.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just no ...

And for goodness sake, don't show up wearing only this ...

I’m overworked, and you’re not making me happy. I have a full-time job. I work nights by choice. It allows me to write during the day, see my kids off to school and welcome them home again. I teach part time. I ride around in a Sheriff’s cruiser with a badge and gun when the need arises. We raise goats. I have a high-demand family. And you made my life miserable today.

You applied for work. I’m the assistant general manager where you applied, and, dear hearts, that’s not a do-nothing job. I’m in ultimate charge of most departments here; certainly I would be your boss, if we had hired you.

I don’t care what your experience is. If you show up for an interview that I stayed up extra hours to grant you dressed in basketball shorts and a dirty sports top, you aren’t getting the job. Not here, not in any five star hotel I know of. You may be big enough to blow a drunken guest over with your bad breath, but if you show up with an untrimmed beard and uncombed hair, I won’t hire you. You wasted my time and yours.

If you believe you’re smarter than any of our management, think again. It’s Dr. Vienne to you. I’ll compare my IQ to yours any day. Your attitude sucks lemmons, boy. It takes me five minutes or less to figure you out.

If you show up with a gay-boy walk and gestures, if you project any sort of sexual attitude, you’re not going to be hired. I don’t care, and the management company for which I work, does not care what your sexual orientation is. We do care how you present yourself. So do our guests. I know a nice seedy bar where you can get work, and, if they won’t hire you, there’s always standing under the street lamp on first and pine.

We expect you to represent us well. If you can’t represent yourself to me in a professional and considerate way, I won’t hire you. I lost four hours of sleep because of you lot today, and we’re not hiring any of you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Treasure Hunting ...

I went treasure hunting with Shirley today. It was more-or-less unplanned. I stopped at the closest Goodwill Store on my way home from the class I teach on Tuesday. I found a book I’ve been looking for. New it’s almost thirty-dollars. So the seventy cents I paid made it a nice find. I always wonder why people pour money into books they do not read. This book is as new.

On the way out of the store I saw some 1940’s Kitchen Chickens. Shirley loves that stuff, so I called her. She called me from the store about 3:30 and suggested I scoot my scrawny butt down there. I did.

Do you know what Manhattan Pattern Glass is? It qualifies as Depression Ware, though just barely. It was manufactured starting in 1938, and it was made into the 1940’s. I think it’s elegant. (Beware of more recent re-makes.) I found a large serving bowl, call it a salad bowl. It was a dollar and a half. Not bad. So I bought it.

I also found two late 19th Century plates. One is a cake plate. They’re unmarked, but a good guess is that they’re of German manufacture. They’re exceptionally pretty with a rose pattern. They were a dollar each.

I passed up stuff that was nice, but for which I have no use. It looked as if someone dumped a huge amount of ‘stuff’ from an estate. I’ll go back tomorrow.

I also bought two more books. My one real weakness in life (other than my family) is a nice book. One of these is a local/regional history. I read a lot of those, and I buy every one of them I see. This one is scarce. There is a single copy on for fifty-dollars. The as-new, author signed copy I found was a dollar and a half. Nice, huh?

Shipwreck ...

Where? When?

So ... Are you a good detective? When was it taken? Where was it taken?

On the Beach - Argentina - Uncertain Date

Argentina - About 1930

Mystery Photo - About 1870

Monday, May 10, 2010

Deputy Pixie and the Shadow People

Fringers believe in Shadow People – a sort of ghost-like, ethereal manifestation. Some think of them as inter-dimensional beings. There is an entire modern mythos out there, and shadow people are a significant part of it. (If you’re up late at night, tune into Coast to Coast AM. It’s like taking an anthropological tour of another world.)

Saturday before last was my “Shadow Person” night – well maybe.

This is one of those situations where I wish for a more competent vocabulary. I need words that more accurately describe what I saw.

I was walking between two lines of railroad cars. There had been a series of thefts out there, so we got out of our car and walked the rails. It’s not a well lighted place. There are lights, but they’re far apart, and one is dependant on their flashlight.

So … we heard a metallic clink. Someone tripped over a scrap of metal, skittering it across the concrete walkway that runs between the rail lines. We turned southward, my partner taking one of the walkways and I the one a row of cars over. I saw “him.” I caught him fully in my light. It was obviously male. It had a man’s stance, shape and movements. But my light lit up blackness itself. It was as if someone had cut his shape out of reality, leaving behind total blackness where his figure should have been.

Even a weak light tells tales. Light someone up and, though the night-time colours may not be true, you see the flash of light in their eyes. You see wisps of hair. I saw none of that, only a black hole in reality.

I held him in my light long enough for him to turn his head. He held my gaze with his non-face for a fraction of a moment and jumped between boxcars.

We heard him, but we didn’t catch him. There were endless hiding places and too many ways to walk off unseen.

So, what did I see? I don’t know. Whatever it was put me in touch with a different reality than I’ve known. But, then, much of ‘reality’ rests in perceptions. I’m inclined to think I met one of the wicked fae I’ve been chasing through the story I’m writing. …. What do you think?

Medusa by O. Tupton

Anyone know anything about this artist?

Live Oak High School


Live Oak High School Principal Nick Boden accepted the blame while apologizing Friday, saying, “In this situation, I may have moved too quickly in drawing the line of when to take preventative action.”

This quotation sums it all up. Anyone care to fix the principal's grammar? Anyone care to bet that the same lazy thought process behind this tortured sentence is behind his abuse of students and poor decision making skills?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Coyotte Con - Creating your own religion.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:05 am: five after ... shall we go?

[frasersherman] 11:05 am: Let's do it.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:05 am: introductions?

[MeredithHolmes] 11:05 am: sure thing

[MeredithHolmes] 11:06 am: I'm Meredith Holmes, author of several short stories and IP novels as well as Unseelie. I use a lot of religion-creation in my stories mainly because most of my characters are either not human or not "from around here" future, past, parallel world).

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:06 am: I'm Rachael ... as you can see. I write fantasy fiction, history, and occasionally theology. i'm a teacher with a phd in history

[frasersherman] 11:06 am: I write fantasy shorts, and an assortment of nonfiction.

[Loki]: aswiebe has entered at 11:06 am

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:07 am: my take on religion in fiction, especially fantasy ficiton can be summarized this way: Creating your own religion must be easy to do. People have done it for millennia … Religion is the epitome of all that is good in humans - and all that is debased and wicked. Typically, in fiction religion is used to give a face to a culture and to define the good guys and the bad.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:08 am: It makes a good framework, in some cases, for character exposition.

[frasersherman] 11:09 am: And a good source of conflict: Evil cult vs. innocents, heretics vs. oppressor church.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:09 am: yes ... i agree. it give your character life and it sets the culture

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:09 am: i'm usually heretical .... giggles

[MeredithHolmes] 11:09 am: even if it's not a major focal point of the story, it enriches it

[MeredithHolmes] 11:09 am: lol

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:10 am: in pixie warrior, my pixie's have a religion. It takes longer to type out a description than the number of words i use in the story to define it.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:10 am: religion should further your story.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:10 am: not burden it

[MeredithHolmes] 11:10 am: exactly

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:10 am: There is no type of god or theological system that you can imagine that hasn't already existed. The models of greed,fanaticism,selflessness and righteousness are best found in religious history. A touch of historical realism will help you tell a more convincing tale.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:11 am: it shouldn't become a massive info dump but, like was said yesterday in the writing non-Christian characters panel, it should be second nature to the author so that it doesn't seem so awkward in the story

[frasersherman] 11:11 am: Definitely. Details of how a high mass is conducted should be reserved for stories where they're actually relevant.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:11 am: in other words, do your homework.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:11 am: yep

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:11 am: a great source is it gives you a university library on your desktop

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:11 am: deena!

[MeredithHolmes] 11:12 am: I find it very helpful to include the religion aspect while world-building. What kind of system would this culture develop, why, what would the gods or god be like, etc? A forest-dwelling people would not likely have a desert god

[MeredithHolmes] 11:12 am: hey, Deena!

[frasersherman] 11:12 am: I think most writers can figure out as they go along how much detail they need--is it just a background element of the world or is it a primary motivation for some of the caracters?

[MeredithHolmes] 11:13 am: *nods*

[Loki]: Deena has left at 11:13 am

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:13 am: one of the best examples of using religion to creat intersting and effective characters is David Eddings

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:13 am: i love his little goddess aphrael

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:13 am: she's edgy, a bit naughty, comforting and scary all at once

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:14 am: his source for her is ancient semetic

[frasersherman] 11:14 am: A personal favorite of mine: Lean Times in Lankhmar, by Fritz Leiber, about fringe cults trying to build a following.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:14 am: she's tanath turned child

[MeredithHolmes] 11:14 am: I need to check both of those out. Tanath is one of my favorites

[MeredithHolmes] 11:14 am: and gotta love fringe cults

[frasersherman] 11:15 am: Leiber's story is interesting because it's almost entirely about religion, very little about deities. Which is another thing to consider when writing: Do the gods play an active role, or just their followers.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:15 am: fringe beliefs are an excellent source of ideas.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:15 am: That's a very good thing to think about--not all religions are heavily god-centric. They're there but they may not be the object of constant worship, ceremony, etc.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:15 am: In the polytheistic model, gods and goddesses are flawed. They fight; they're incestuous, pugnacious, bitter, nasty and distant. They lust after and despise humans, or they are protective, walk among humans and can be easily placated but remain unpredictable. ... if you have a god or goddess they should seem "real."

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:16 am: if your god character isn't real to you, it won't be to your readers

[frasersherman] 11:16 am: The novel "Jericho Moon" does a very good handling of Yahweh in the Old Testament.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:17 am: That's a complex deity to start with, especially when you get into the old Ugaritic stories

[frasersherman] 11:17 am: And yes, you have to be comfortable with your religion. One of my shorts, "Champions of Darkness," had the darkness as the force of good, but working out some of the feeling behind it on the light and dark sides took a looong time.

[Loki]: basletum has entered at 11:17 am

[MeredithHolmes] 11:18 am: If you're not certain about the religion, even one you made up yourself, it really can mess with the story even if the religion is a minor, minor part

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:18 am: it's easier, i think, to characterize a priest than a god. ... and i agree, if you're not comfortable with the religious elements inyour story, your reader will know it
[frasersherman] 11:18 am: Yes. You don't have to know everything about it but you should know enough it will sound like you do.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:18 am: you take your reader out of the story.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:18 am: conversational religion

[MeredithHolmes] 11:19 am: like conversational French. know enough to get by

[frasersherman] 11:19 am: Well put.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:19 am: i'm an obsessive researcher. I gather tonnes of material beyond what i'll need.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:19 am: but eventually, some of the excess finds a use

[frasersherman] 11:20 am: "Well, I can use this book for my research ..." I know that rationalization.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:20 am: I have so many books and notes for religion creation and world building lol. If it's not used in the story I'm gathering it for, it will find a home in another one, no doubt

[MeredithHolmes] 11:20 am: My SO is used to the reams of paper and library books and bookstore purchases by now I hope lol

[frasersherman] 11:20 am: Should we do questions yet, do you think?

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:20 am: Historical models help. Is your priest a Richelieu? A St. Patrick? A Peter, a Paul, a Thuggee with a bloody knife, a philosopher, a dirty, smelly beggar with a mixture of wisdom and foolishness? All those types are modeled in history. Use your research as the basis for realism.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:20 am: too early i think, unless you're done

[MeredithHolmes] 11:21 am: it's like Jungian archetypes. Some things transcend religious branding and show up in all paths, even if they're made up for a story

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:21 am: readers should be able to say, "oh, i know this character."

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:21 am: he's my priest, neighbor, i went to college with him

[MeredithHolmes] 11:21 am: "That reminds me of Father whoever, sister what's her face,"

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:21 am: and nod along with your description

[MeredithHolmes] 11:22 am: or even "oh, that deity...they're like so and so from this culture or that." Not a knock-off, but an identifiable motivation for them

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:22 am: yes

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:22 am: well put

[MeredithHolmes] 11:22 am: even the most...irrational...gods have a motivation for their actions

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:22 am: Ultimately, most characters are ourselves. They are an extract of the good, the common, the nonsensical and deeply disturbed bits that hide in all of us. Refine from yourself just the elements you want.

[frasersherman] 11:22 am: Up to a point, yes--once you go back a few centuries, I think grasping religion is harder. The absolute certainty so many people had in Medieval Europe is really alien, even to devout believers these days.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:23 am: Medieval religion is like a whole different animal, even if you're talking about Catholicism. What was Catholicism then is different than what it is now

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:23 am: oh, I'm not sure i agree with that. Medieval thought is alive and well

[MeredithHolmes] 11:23 am: I mean like the Marianist cults, the certainty about witches...

[MeredithHolmes] 11:23 am: though now that I type that, I think you're right

[frasersherman] 11:23 am: And of course, we have Lovecraft's insane cults, which are very alien, but convincing enough people shop for the Necronomicon in bookstores.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:23 am: I just thought of those cultures where people are still murdered for being "witches" and those exorcisms that pop up on the news once or thrice a year

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:23 am: the struggle between petrobrusians and catholics continues ... but under new names. the arguments are the same, people's feelings remain tied up in it

[MeredithHolmes] 11:24 am: you're right

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:25 am: we should observe that magical elements in Fantasy fiction are essentailly religious

[MeredithHolmes] 11:25 am: I think that, when you get right down to it, it's like you said a minute or two ago, most characters are ourselves. What are the gods but slivers of humanity made large? or maybe we're them...who knows. ;)

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:25 am: there is little difference between magic and religion

[frasersherman] 11:25 am: Agreed. If you approach everything from how the players feel, even a dispute between Orthodox Catholics and Nestorians could be made interesting.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:25 am: sorry 'bout my bad typing

[MeredithHolmes] 11:25 am: I just have lag time--I'm not seeing some posts till after I type so I'm a question behind lol

[frasersherman] 11:25 am: That depends on the writer, I think. I wouldn't say it's automatic.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:25 am: the key is to be selective. It should further the story or leave it out

[MeredithHolmes] 11:25 am: exactly

[frasersherman] 11:26 am: Absolutely!

[MeredithHolmes] 11:26 am: while it may be fascinating, is it helping the story?

[MeredithHolmes] 11:26 am: or does it just make the reader skip ahead?

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:26 am: In Pixie Warrior I have my characters do things that seem magical, but any Pixie will tell you, "There is no magic." It is all biology. Pixies see magic as the tricks perpetrated by wicked fairies.

[frasersherman] 11:26 am: Which is true of most world-building or character detail, I think: Are you telling the reader stuff they will want to know.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:26 am: handle it all in as natural and muted way as possible

[Loki]: hhancock has entered at 11:27 am

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:27 am: hi, Harry

[MeredithHolmes] 11:27 am: It shouldn't be, or should rarely be, like a play where everyone stands back and watches the religion happen mid-stage, in awe.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:27 am: Religion is more fun when it's presented with irony and humor. The Israelites knew this as did First Century Christians.

[frasersherman] 11:27 am: And if you're going to attempt a moment of awe, it had better be truly awe inspiring.

[hhancock] 11:27 am: Hi

[MeredithHolmes] 11:27 am: In cases where you have a stranger in a strange land scenario, that may work. Sort of a "wow, what are you all doing? Why is that happening?"

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:28 am: yes

[hhancock] 11:28 am: Sorry I'm late. Mother's day

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:28 am: religion displays emotions good and bad

[MeredithHolmes] 11:28 am: yes

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:28 am: it's a foil for your characters emotions

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:28 am: i love the humorous elements

[frasersherman] 11:29 am: There's a sequence in Children of Men (the movie) where after five childless years a baby's been born and one character walks out into a firefight with the baby and everyone stops and just stares like it's the most amazing thing in the world. That's the kind of awe it takes.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:29 am: God tells jokes, creates word-plays, and teaches object lessons with dry and sometimes wry wit. He speaks with scorn, he placates; he opens the vast invisible panoply of heavenly hosts to view - partly to reassure and partly with smiling amusement at puny human doubt.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:29 am: make it interesting and fun

[frasersherman] 11:29 am: And there should be a variety of religious people--true believers, cynics, the wryly amused and the dour. It's not as if all believers are stamped out of the same cloth.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:30 am: It's not quite the same as a god-humor but makes me think of The Screwtape Letters--this supernatural being observing the human world and advising on it from his POV as a demon

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:30 am: oh ... and don't use it for sermonizing. Even in Christian fiction, your reader doesn't want a sermon, they're reading your book to be entertained

[frasersherman] 11:30 am: Any more than in the real world.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:30 am: true

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:30 am: pangborn wrote a Martian invasion novel, forget the name, back in the 50's. all based on the book of jobe

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:30 am: job

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:30 am: fun book, good sf writing

[MeredithHolmes] 11:30 am: oh what was that called? I read it ages ago and loved it... crud.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:30 am: almost no mention of religion, but all derived form it

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:31 am: sorry i can't remember the title now [A Mirror for Observers, 1954]

[frasersherman] 11:31 am: There's an excellent book, Rapture Ready, on trying to balance the needs of the Christian marketplace with the urge to create good work. It's very interesting.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:31 am: bad me

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:31 am: loved the book though

[MeredithHolmes] 11:31 am: It'll come to me around 2 am no doubt

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:31 am: I'm done i think. you Meredith? Fraser? questions now?

[frasersherman] 11:31 am: Sounds good to me.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:32 am: questions work for me!

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:32 am: mer, you want to moderate the questions?

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:32 am: i get lost

[MeredithHolmes] 11:32 am: I'll give it a shot

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:32 am: okay guys, questions and comments, regular rules

[chibiBoo] 11:32 am: ?

[MeredithHolmes] 11:32 am: if you have a question, type in ?. if you have a comment, ! And you'll be called on in order

[MeredithHolmes] 11:32 am: chibiBoo?

[chibiBoo] 11:33 am: For the newbies wanting to create a religion for their story where do you suggest they begin? g/a

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:34 am: reading, lots of reading ... mythology, history of religions

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:34 am: good writers are good readers first

[frasersherman] 11:34 am: I usually have to write a while and develop my world as I go. Then I do the actual worldbuilding on the rewrites.

[frasersherman] 11:34 am: And yes, Rachael's advice is good too.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:34 am: IMHO...start with your characters and their world. What motivates them, where do they live, etc. And research, research, research. Like Rachael said, religious history, mythology, cultural studies

[MeredithHolmes] 11:34 am: look at different systems around the world, see what you can picture your characters as a part of

[MeredithHolmes] 11:34 am: then build

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:34 am: ask yourself what the point of your character's religious experience is

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:35 am: go from there

[MeredithHolmes] 11:35 am: yep

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:35 am: he fights evil? why?

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:35 am: how?

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:35 am: how does the religious elements define him and his antagonist

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:35 am: do*

[K.T. Hanna] 11:35 am: ?

[MeredithHolmes] 11:35 am: is their religion one based on forgiveness, vengeance, nature worship, ceremonial magic, etc? is the character ambivalent, does the religion "allow" for ambivalence, etc...

[MeredithHolmes] 11:36 am: K.T.Hanna?

[frasersherman] 11:36 am: Is religion important to the protagonist like Brother Cadfael or the guy in Name of the Rose? Or largely irrelevant like Conan?

[widdershins] 11:36 am: ?

[K.T. Hanna] 11:36 am: If writing a scifi novel set completely off earth with varied alien species, would you recommend still basing the religion on old earth religions?

[frasersherman] 11:36 am: Depends. How alien is the race?

[MeredithHolmes] 11:36 am: I think they're a good basis for research, to get an idea of how religions "work" so to speak.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:36 am: KT there is no type of theology that doesn't already exist. use what your readers will recognize

[frasersherman] 11:36 am: Do they think like us?

[MeredithHolmes] 11:37 am: Widdershins?

[K.T. Hanna] 11:37 am: Not really -one of the races is similar anatomically, but the rest are not

[MeredithHolmes] 11:37 am: oh, sorry!

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:37 am: for the mid 19th century many thought of aborigines as less than human in some way, less developed and in need of rescue, oppression, and sympathy in turns

[widdershins] 11:37 am: Do you create a fictional religion from the Gods down or the worshippers up ... or from somewhere in the middle? g/a/

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:38 am: that is essentially an alien response to another culture

[frasersherman] 11:38 am: There was a short story by Jorge Luis Borges that dealt with a philosophy where if you leave the room, then return, you can't assume that it's really the same room. Something as alien likas that is difficult to pull off, but it's ccertainly interesting.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:38 am: excellent example Rachael

[MeredithHolmes] 11:38 am: amd fraser!

[K.T. Hanna] 11:38 am: hmmm that's a great idea - I'll look at it from that perspective. Thank you g/a

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:39 am: widd, if you use religion to further your story ... then your story will determine how you proceeded

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:39 am: dang bad spelling pixie! [fixed it for this post.]

[MeredithHolmes] 11:39 am: Widdershins: personally, I sort of do both. depending on how main a feature the religion is to the character, the story, the plot

[frasersherman] 11:39 am: Exactly. Are the gods going to be players? Or are their worshippers the prime movers?

[widdershins] 11:39 am: religion or the Gods involved are central to the story

[MeredithHolmes] 11:39 am: if the gods play an important role, then I will start with them. if the character has little to do with the gods other than an oblique mention or little to do, then I start with the people.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:40 am: If they're central, I create the gods' culture first or early on

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:40 am: widd .... do you know ann crispin? or her writing? ...

[frasersherman] 11:40 am: Agreed. And if you have to change after you've started, that's what rewriting is for.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:40 am: Ann was my mentor and is still my friend ... she makes huge notebooks of back story

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:40 am: i don't do that except for complex issues

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:40 am: but it does help in world creation

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:41 am: write out your thoughts, even if you don't use them

[MeredithHolmes] 11:41 am: file-o-fax of the gods

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:41 am: review, adapt

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:41 am: more questions, comments?

[widdershins] 11:42 am: will look her up ... I know I'd have to do more research! g/a

[MeredithHolmes] 11:42 am: Bueller? Bueller? lol

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:42 am: Ann was andre nortons writing partner for a while. she wrote the hans solo trilolgy. V (remember the old tv show) and lots of fantasy fiction

[MeredithHolmes] 11:43 am: wow

[frasersherman] 11:43 am: Ah, now I know who you mean.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:43 am: it's A C cripsin on the title page

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:43 am: but her name is Ann

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:44 am: each writer must find some way to think the story through to the end. even non-fiction writers have to do a historian i have to do that

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:44 am: if you don't think it through, by chapter fourteen you'll be inventing dragons or something

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:45 am: to carry the story forward

[MeredithHolmes] 11:45 am: There has to be a beginning, middle, end... you can't just skip the middle to get to the juicy part.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:45 am: this is true of religious elements too

[MeredithHolmes] 11:45 am: rocks fall, everyone dies!

[MeredithHolmes] 11:45 am: the religion needs a reason

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:45 am: more questions?

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:45 am: comments?

[frasersherman] 11:45 am: If you do decide midway through that something has to happen, you can always go back and work in the rationale so it feels like you set it up from the first. I wind up doing that a lot--I've never been good at planning before I write.

[chibiBoo] 11:46 am: can you give a few more examples of how fantasy magic is religion based?

[MeredithHolmes] 11:46 am: that's the good thing about editing--you can "fix" things or expand or narrow during the course of the writing

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:46 am: well .. i joke about dragons in chapter fourteen. that's where my dragons show up. but they were planned

[MeredithHolmes] 11:47 am: things we, as typical humans, might consider magical would be just religion to the characters. The ability to fly, for example. Well, that's faith. or as Rachael said, dragons. Dragons are fantastical elements to us but to the characters, they're a fact of life. or of faith.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:47 am: oh ... good resource: lewis: encyclopedia of the occult, 1924. there are more recent editions

[widdershins] 11:47 am: !

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:47 am: lots of ideas in there

[MeredithHolmes] 11:47 am: I need to find that!

[MeredithHolmes] 11:47 am: widdershins?

[FrancesP] 11:48 am: !

[widdershins] 11:48 am: David and Leigh Eddings Belgariad did wonderful work with religious icons.. and human archtypes

[frasersherman] 11:48 am: I'm not sure I agree, though. A lot of people through history have distinguished the "magic" their priests can supposedly do from magic done by other sources.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:48 am: good point, Fraser

[widdershins] 11:48 am: They Blended them seamlessly into a great saga

[MeredithHolmes] 11:48 am: I guess it will depend on the author, the characters, to an extent

[frasersherman] 11:49 am: Absolutely.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:49 am: i agree, widd. if aphrael were real, i'd worhip her

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:49 am: loved that character

[MeredithHolmes] 11:49 am: FrancesP?

[widdershins] 11:49 am: would be dangerous not to!

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:49 am: best character eddings ever created

[FrancesP] 11:50 am: even when the religion is defunct, it can still be a huge part of your worldbuilding. Andre Norton did fabulous things with ruins and ancient, forgotten faith

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:50 am: yes

[FrancesP] 11:50 am: in her witchworld series. But they were even as a forgotten faith, incredibly consistent.

[FrancesP] 11:50 am: which I think is key. :-) g/a

[MeredithHolmes] 11:51 am: That's an excellent point--not all religious influence in fiction will be from thriving faiths. The older, defunct paths often have a huge impact on the living ones.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:51 am: no religion ever dies. modern religions are syncretistic. we celebrate Astarte's fertility rights every easter.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:51 am: and on birthdays--cakes for the queen of heaven

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:51 am: birth the the unconquered sun ... dec 25

[widdershins] 11:52 am: ?

[MeredithHolmes] 11:52 am: widdershins?

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:52 am: the forest spirits of the Germanic tribes in pise trees with decorations

[widdershins] 11:52 am: @Rachael... do you converse regularly somewhere on the internet? g/a

[frasersherman] 11:52 am: One thing I wish more writers would take from the real world is that religious faiths don't always agree, even within themselves. The faiths tend to be monolothic and have little if any doctrinal dispute.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:52 am: pine*

[widdershins] 11:52 am: Love how you express words and concepts

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:53 am: widd, i hang out with a bunch of friends on second life, and sometimes in authors lounge in AOL chat

[MeredithHolmes] 11:53 am: Fraser: SO true. I've noticed many fictional religions, even derivations of real ones, tend to be very homogenous with little conflict within the path

[hhancock] 11:53 am: !

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:53 am: but mostly i camp out in SL while i work on
a project

[MeredithHolmes] 11:53 am: which just isn't "real" lol

[MeredithHolmes] 11:53 am: er, that was for Fraser

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:53 am: and thanks for the nice words

[MeredithHolmes] 11:53 am: hhancock?

[frasersherman] 11:54 am: For example, any alternate history I've ever read assumes that if the Protestant Reformation didn't happen, the catholic Church would remain monolithic down to the present day.

[hhancock] 11:54 am: Rachael also has a wonderful blog

[frasersherman] 11:54 am: And I don't think tha'ts real either.

[widdershins] 11:54 am: Sorry... I cant speak acronym

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:54 am: SL is lindenlabs Second Life virtual world

[widdershins] 11:54 am: blogs I get

[MeredithHolmes] 11:54 am: @Fraser: That's a bold assumption on behalf of
the authors lol

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:54 am: blog:

[frasersherman] 11:54 am: Ain't it though?

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:55 am: i love blog visitors

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:55 am: my notes for this conference are on my blog

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:55 am: scroll down

[hhancock] 11:55 am: and comments!

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:55 am: yes comments!

[MeredithHolmes] 11:55 am: more questions, folks? comments? answers, lol?

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:55 am: harry is my most faithful blog reader

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:56 am:

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:56 am: nothing? we either explained it all or bored
you silly

[K.T. Hanna] 11:56 am: !

[frasersherman] 11:56 am: Or both! :)

[MeredithHolmes] 11:56 am: lol

[MeredithHolmes] 11:57 am: KT Hanna?

[K.T. Hanna] 11:57 am: I really liked this panel - answered a few questions I had and reconfirmed some things I'd been curious about

[frasersherman] 11:57 am: Cool.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:57 am: good

[MeredithHolmes] 11:57 am: Good! It's been really fun. All of the panels I've sat on or been to have been great. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

[K.T. Hanna] 11:57 am: My gibberish question was understood well - I'm sick at the moment so I thought it would come out a little garbled. So thank you all g/a :)

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:57 am: shameless plug: you want to know how we handled
religion in fantasy, read our books

[aswiebe] 11:58 am: Oh, and here's the direct link for the panel draft on
Rachael's blog:

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:58 am: Pixie Warrior for instance

[frasersherman] 11:58 am: Or short stories.

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:58 am: that too

[MeredithHolmes] 11:58 am: lol, thanks, Rachael! Unseelie, too, lol

[MeredithHolmes] 11:58 am: and Fraser's stories!

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:58 am: yes

[MeredithHolmes] 11:58 am: and watch for our upcoming books

[MeredithHolmes] 11:58 am: and stories

[frasersherman] 11:58 am: I have a parody of the Cthulhu cults in Arkham
Tales #4, available online ("Signs and Hortense")

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:58 am: pixie 2 is in the works

[MeredithHolmes] 11:58 am: I'm working on Maxwell's Demon. Physics and demons
and fantasy, oh my...

[aswiebe] 11:59 am: Thanks---fun discussion. ::applause::

[MeredithHolmes] 11:59 am: Fraser: SOOOOOO checking that out asap!

[sjcollins] 11:59 am: Thank you Meredith, Rachael and Fraser :)

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:59 am: another approach to religion/magic is found
in the xanth stories

[Rachael de Vienne] 11:59 am: welcome

[frasersherman] 11:59 am: Let me know what you think.

[frasersherman] 11:59 am: And you're welcome.

[MeredithHolmes] 11:59 am: OH, Xanth... Piers Anthony is great

[MeredithHolmes] 12:00 pm: any one else?

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:00 pm: piers A sent me an nice email when he knocked pixie warrior from number 1 on fictonwise

[MeredithHolmes] 12:00 pm: going once...going twice...

[MeredithHolmes] 12:00 pm: lol! he's sweet!

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:00 pm: made me jump up an down

[frasersherman] 12:00 pm: Heck, yeah!

[MeredithHolmes] 12:00 pm: *G* I'd have done the same thing

[widdershins] 12:00 pm: Oh dear.. the kids have arrived for M's day ... gotta go.... thank you all so much

[Loki]: widdershins has left at 12:00 pm

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:00 pm: bye widder

[MeredithHolmes] 12:00 pm: Happy Mother's day to those who observe!

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:01 pm: fraser, did you post your notes? mere?

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:01 pm: tell them where

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:01 pm: if you did

[frasersherman] 12:01 pm: No, I didn't, I'm afraid.

[frasersherman] 12:01 pm: I didn't have notes, I pretty much winged it.

[MeredithHolmes] 12:01 pm: I haven't yet but I have a backlog to get posted tomorrow at I'll be posting the ones from the few panels I've been on tomorrow and Tuesday. I'm reviving the blog after being on maternity leave lol

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:02 pm: oh the diapers!

[MeredithHolmes] 12:02 pm: Mythic fiction, writing non christian characters, this one, later I'll be on Urban Fantasy and then the faery creatures one. and oy, diapers, lol

[MeredithHolmes] 12:02 pm: I'm listing to my SO changing one right now and
being glad it's not me

[frasersherman] 12:02 pm: I'll check it out.

[frasersherman] 12:02 pm: The blog, not the diapers.

[MeredithHolmes] 12:02 pm: Any other questions in queue? and LOL, Fraser

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:02 pm: yes, avoid diapers IF you can

[MeredithHolmes] 12:02 pm: lol

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:02 pm: did we miss anyone?

[MeredithHolmes] 12:03 pm: I think we got the ones who posted ? or !

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:03 pm: did you get your comment made, harry?

[MeredithHolmes] 12:03 pm: oooooh...did I miss someone? Meep...

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:03 pm: we're all done then?

[frasersherman] 12:03 pm: I think everyone got theirs in.

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:04 pm: thanks for reading our comments and for attending

[Rachael de Vienne] 12:04 pm: it was fun

[MeredithHolmes] 12:04 pm: Well, this has been fun! Hope everyone had a good time! I'll go relieve my SO for bottle duty and see y'all around the con!

[hhancock] 12:04 pm: Yes. That you are a very entertaining writer and I've enjoyed the session.
[frasersherman] 12:04 pm: Yes.

[leonawisoker] 12:04 pm: thanks! :)

[FrancesP] 12:04 pm: very nice panel! thank you.

[frasersherman] 12:04 pm: Adieu.

[Ruskin Drake] 12:04 pm: Thanks, everyone.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Instant Expert!

I filled in at the last minute. Slightly edited for spelling, but not too much. Mostly what you see is what happened.

[Demascus03] 3:48 pm: Hello all.

[] 3:49 pm: Hello!

[] 3:49 pm: Hi :)

[MeredithHolmes] 3:49 pm: Hi there. Is everyone here for the Writing NonChristian Characters panel at 5 pm est?

[] 3:50 pm: Yup! And very excited, too.

[MeredithHolmes] 3:51 pm: Wow, looks like we're going to have a great crowdtoday!

[riversway] 3:51 pm: hi oliver and all

[Loki]: has entered at 3:52 pm

[] 3:52 pm: Hi Oliver :)

[widdershins] 3:52 pm: G'day Ollie ... good crowd eh?

[] 3:52 pm: Hey Leona

[Oliver] 3:53 pm: How's everyone doing so far? Good crowd is rite! Hey Leona!

[Oliver] 3:53 pm: I'm trying to eat pancakes without getting syrup on thekey board...

[] 3:54 pm: Heh, good luck with that, Oliver.

[widdershins] 3:54 pm: ulp!... doing that w/shop with Gillian has returnedmy language to its roots

[] 3:54 pm: lol!

[] 3:54 pm: *emerging from lurkdom* Hi, everyone. Is the panel about to start?

[Oliver] 3:54 pm: Widders -:D Kathleen - so far, so good.

[widdershins] 3:55 pm: @olliver.... I find a tetowl tied securely aroundmy neck helps

[Oliver] 3:55 pm: It will probably start 'bout 5 after....

[Oliver] 3:55 pm: I think I have those tea towels packed... (I'm in the middleof moving...)

[MeredithHolmes] 3:56 pm: That seems to be how these panels are so far--westart the author chat portion around five after then after 45 minutes orso, we open "the floor" to questions. The moderator (i'm not sure who thatis yet!) will take people in order...someone will explain it soon, lol.

[Loki]: Rachael de Vienne has entered at 3:56 pm

[Oliver] 3:56 pm: Hey Rachael!

[Rachael de Vienne] 3:57 pm: hi, oliver

[Oliver] 3:57 pm: Hey Jaleta - now that you have emerged from lurkdom, youcan't go back! We need entertainment!: roll:

[Rachael de Vienne] 3:58 pm: lurkdom ... that sounds like some evil fairyhideout

[MeredithHolmes] 3:58 pm: lol, story idea!

[] 3:58 pm: Entertainment? "Nothing up my sleeves folk!" *pulls a rabbitour of his arse*

[Oliver] 3:58 pm: I happen to like evil fairies...:evil:

[Rachael de Vienne] 3:59 pm: I'm more or less using it in Pixie Book 2

[] 3:59 pm: for supper, Oliver?

[Rachael de Vienne] 3:59 pm: not the name lurkdom though

[Rachael de Vienne] 4:00 pm: there is a tower on summerhouse point, in wales,and i'm using it as the basis for my fairy mound, evil nasty wicked fairyhide out

[Oliver] 4:00 pm: Frances - naw. I tend to love a well written, sympatheticvillain in any story... Call it my thing for bad boys...

[MeredithHolmes] 4:00 pm: That sounds like a positively wicked place, Rachael.

[] 4:00 pm: Oh, I am so there. Sucker for a dangerous man.

[Rachael de Vienne] 4:01 pm: yes, I intend it to be

[valarltd] 4:01 pm: Hi. This looked fascinating

[MeredithHolmes] 4:01 pm: Can't wait to read it!

[Rachael de Vienne] 4:01 pm: there's a photo of the original on my blog

[MeredithHolmes] 4:01 pm: I'll have to check it out after the panel!

[Oliver] 4:01 pm: Jaleta - yeah, I'll count it, since you just emerged....

[] 4:01 pm: Like a butterfly from a chrysalis. Hah! I'm a poet this afternoon.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:02 pm: Hey, Deena! Hi, Sarah!

[Loki]: Deena has entered at 4:02 pm

[] 4:03 pm: Hi Deena :)

[Oliver] 4:03 pm: Poets have their uses! (ducks in case a poet take thatthe wrong way) I meant it as a compliment!

[Deena->MeredithHolmes] 4:03 pm: I'm peeking in to see if everything'sgoing okay. Did you sign in with the mod password so you can use the speechbubble to prove you're legit?

[MeredithHolmes->Deena] 4:03 pm: yep! We haven't started yet--I wasn'tsure if there was to be a mod for this panel. Everyone here seems REALLYchatty already.

[Deena->MeredithHolmes] 4:03 pm: You and Sarah are supposed to handleit... if you're okay with that?

[MeredithHolmes] 4:03 pm: I think we're going to get started soon.

[Sarah Avery] 4:03 pm: Taken as a compliment, Oliver. It's rare enough someonesees poets as useful! Hi, Deena

[MeredithHolmes->Deena] 4:03 pm: sure!

[MeredithHolmes->Deena] 4:04 pm: lol

[JourneyMouse] 4:04 pm: Hi apologies for lateness :)

[Loki]: vigorio has entered at 4:04 pm

[Oliver] 4:04 pm: I don't even want to know whats under my couch... (shuddersat the mere though) -- Well, I gotta buck up, I'll be moving that in a weekor so....

[] 4:04 pm: I like poets. I just know I'm not much of one.

[Rachael de Vienne] 4:04 pm: if i disappear on you all, i have a sick headacheand my just go poof

[MeredithHolmes] 4:05 pm: Okay, folks, looks like we'll be starting soon.Have y'all all played panel before? in other words, lol, you know how thisworks? When we get started, the authors chat about the topic and then about45 minutes in, we open the floor to questions. If you have a question, pleaseenter? And you'll be called on in order of appearance. Just like in school,lol

[Oliver] 4:05 pm: Rachel - blame it on those evil fairies...

[] 4:05 pm: School? *shudders* Bad memories...

[Rachael de Vienne] 4:05 pm: as a teacher ... I wish it really worked thatway in my classroom

[MeredithHolmes->Sarah Avery] 4:05 pm: Is it just you and me for thischat or are others joining?

[MeredithHolmes] 4:06 pm: lol, Rachael, I used to teach and it was alwaysmy dream for that to actually work

[Rachael de Vienne] 4:06 pm: not really. I like the give and take of fluidideas

[Oliver] 4:06 pm: Journey mouse - your not late - Just making a social fashionstatement..

[Sarah Avery->MeredithHolmes] 4:06 pm: I don't know. I'll check the schedulesite.

[MeredithHolmes->Sarah Avery] 4:06 pm: There's four of us listed but Ionly see us so I was wondering if the others dropped out for now.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:06 pm: okay, folks...ready?

[Deena] 4:06 pm: I'm not seeing Jess Howe or Edward Morris. They may notbe able to make it.

[JourneyMouse] 4:07 pm: My fashion statement = I'm not time aware at alland very dizzy ;)

[MeredithHolmes] 4:07 pm: I was just wondering that.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:07 pm: re Deena

[Sarah Avery->MeredithHolmes] 4:07 pm: I haven't heard.

[MeredithHolmes->Sarah Avery] 4:07 pm: Deena just said they may not beable to make it so do you want to just you and I get started and if theyshow up, they can jump in?

[valarltd] 4:07 pm: I'm ready.

[Sarah Avery->MeredithHolmes] 4:08 pm: Sounds good.

[Oliver] 4:08 pm: Ready, Santa (said nasially)

[MeredithHolmes] 4:08 pm: Well, let's get started and if they show up, theycan jump in with Sarah and I.

[Sarah Avery] 4:08 pm: I'm ready. If our other companions on the schedulearrive, we can pause for their intros.

[Deena] 4:08 pm: That sounds good to me.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:08 pm: whooo!

[Sarah Avery] 4:10 pm: I'm working on the third novella in a series abouta coven of eclectic postmodern Wiccans who live in a slightly supernaturalNew Jersey. I'm also an initiated priestess in the Blue Star tradition ofWicca, which puts me in the odd position of writing characters from a verydifferent denomination from the one I practice.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:10 pm: I'm Meredith Holmes, author of Unseelie and someshort works for Drollerie Press. I'm currently working on several fantasyand romance pieces and pretty much all of my stories have non-christiancharacters. Not just Pagan, either, though many are. Writing non-Christiancharacters is a personal pet project of mine--I've read SO many books andstories where the characters were presented through the lens of someone whois not a member of that faith or has not researched it

[MeredithHolmes] 4:10 pm: or even has created it well. I'm personally a PAganon a Levantine path and a practicing witch and Hoodooienne.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:12 pm: I am not going to criticize specific authors ornovels but one of the things I've noticed when I read stories with characterswho are Jewish or Muslim or Pagan, etc, is that you can really tell whensomeone has not done their research

[Deena->MeredithHolmes] 4:12 pm: Rachael is volunteering. She'll be signingback in with the speech bubble in a minute. Do you think you can save thetranscript?

[MeredithHolmes->Deena] 4:12 pm: sure! Just hit save at the end, right?

[Deena->MeredithHolmes] 4:13 pm: Yes, and then copy and paste the newpage.

[Sarah Avery] 4:13 pm: I'm not familiar with the Levantine path. Are youin any particular tradition in your practice as a witch? And are you at libertyto talk about your training in Hoodoo? And I totally agree about the researchissues. Oh, Edward's here! Intro?

[MeredithHolmes->Deena] 4:13 pm: Just send it to her at the end of thepanel?

[Deena->MeredithHolmes] 4:13 pm: into email duh.. Should finish a thought.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:13 pm: He's still in coyote it looks like

[MeredithHolmes] 4:13 pm: The Levantine one is often called "Jewitchery"but it's not quite that.

[Sarah Avery] 4:14 pm: Welcome, Edward. We're still in intros.

[Edward Morris] 4:14 pm: Sorry I was late you guys. Made the mistake of goingto New Seasons. Lines out the door... Started yet?

[MeredithHolmes] 4:14 pm: It's based on the traditions of the ancient Canaanitesand Phoenicians and peoples of the Levant. My witcheraft is jokingly referredto as "Swampwitch" lol mainly because it's heavily folkloric from the AmericanSouth. It IS very influenced by Hoodoo but it isn't the same--they are twodifferent practices. I was trained in the latter by my family members whopractice and by a local hoodoo woman

[MeredithHolmes] 4:14 pm: Hey, Edward! Jump on in and intro yourself!

[MeredithHolmes->Deena] 4:15 pm: lol

[Deena->MeredithHolmes] 4:15 pm: I love you, smarty pants. I'm glad youvolunteered for this panel. I had no idea you're such an expert.

[MeredithHolmes->Deena] 4:15 pm: lol. Well, it's just stuff I know. There'sothers FAR more knowledgeable than me!

[Edward Morris] 4:16 pm: I'm Edward Morris. Card carrying swampwitch. Oneof my goals as a writer is to write about the traditions that I practiceand the ones that my loved ones do, correctly and without all the Hollywoodstuff. The way Charles de Lint does, and S.M. Stirling...

[MeredithHolmes] 4:16 pm: Yesssssssssssss!

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:16 pm: i appear to be filling in on this panel too

[MeredithHolmes] 4:16 pm: My own craft is, like I said, heavily folkloricbut it combines nicely with the ceremonial magicks of the Levant

[MeredithHolmes] 4:17 pm: yay! Hi, Rachael!

[Deena->MeredithHolmes] 4:17 pm: Yeah, but just stuff you know is good.Personal.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:17 pm: hi, Meredith

[Edward Morris] 4:17 pm: My own practice falls somewhere between old Celticand, strangely enough, conjur or Vodou. It found _me._

[MeredithHolmes->Deena] 4:17 pm: Yep

[MeredithHolmes] 4:17 pm: lol, isn't that the way it always goes with conjure?Seems so anyway.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:17 pm: I'm a card carrying non-traditional Christianwith a PhD in history and a back ground in world religions

[Deena->MeredithHolmes] 4:17 pm: k, I'm gonna go make my family some skettiesbefore the next session.

[Edward Morris] 4:18 pm: I say 'strangely' b/c if I were any whiter I'd vanish.

[MeredithHolmes->Deena] 4:18 pm: rock on! :)

[MeredithHolmes] 4:18 pm: It's good to find another conjureperson around!

[MeredithHolmes] 4:18 pm: and much PhD envy, Rachael!

[MeredithHolmes] 4:18 pm: Do you find the studies and your grad work helpin writing the non Christian religions?

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:18 pm: my students are just as obnoxious as when itwas just B.Ed

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:18 pm: yes

[MeredithHolmes] 4:18 pm: lol

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:18 pm: very much so.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:19 pm: The other day in the mythic fiction panel, someoneasked about writing Islam and other faiths which might be "touchy". Haveany of y'all had an issue with writing religions you are not part of?

[MeredithHolmes] 4:19 pm: not as in "oh, I can't do this" but as in you havea hard time making sure you're doing it "right"

[Edward Morris] 4:19 pm: Not really. If I want to write a Muslim, I hangout with them first.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:20 pm: as fiction. ... no. my current history bookhas caused a minor earthquake among related adherents. i get fan mail and... hate mail

[MeredithHolmes] 4:20 pm: wow

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:20 pm: you live with it.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:20 pm: true...

[Sarah Avery] 4:20 pm: Because there's so much social overlap among differentbranches of Paganism, I have Druid characters and Asatru characters, a lodge-fullof Theosophists, and several Methodists. The Methodists were hardest forme to get right. : )

[MeredithHolmes] 4:20 pm: lol

[Edward Morris] 4:21 pm: Methodism is hard for Methodists to get right.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:21 pm: I've written a lot of Jewish characters and Catholiccharacters and Pagans but for me, the most difficult to get "right" are Nativefaiths.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:21 pm: Methodists are not the edgy sect there werein the early 19th century. it's a shame

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:21 pm: the old days were more fun

[Edward Morris] 4:22 pm: so say we all

[MeredithHolmes] 4:22 pm: Research, research, research, but at the same time,you don't want it to be dry and boring or like reciting a text book. That'sone of the drawbacks, I think--i've read a few stories where the researchwas obvious mainly because the writer felt they had to infodump everythingthey learned about the path

[Sarah Avery] 4:22 pm: I'd hesitate to try writing a Native faith, becausethe practitioners have been subject to so much appropriation. I think I coulddo good Moravians, though.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:22 pm: Moravians are fun, I'd think

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:22 pm: research is essential. More of it than you'dever use.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:23 pm: It's far better to have too much info on hand thannot enough and have to wing it, then make a poor showing

[Edward Morris] 4:23 pm: yes. mainly to get the feel of the faith 2nd nature

[Sarah Avery] 4:23 pm: I wrote my dissertation on a Moravian-born poet whobecame a sort of eclectic goddess-worshipper in the 1910's. She, too, wasnostalgic for the wilder days of her sect.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:23 pm: on the panel tomorrow i'll as a resource. it's like having a university library onyour desk. use it

[MeredithHolmes] 4:23 pm: but it doesn't have to all go into the story. andRachael--that's an amazing resource.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:24 pm: I got spoiled when I was in grad school by beingable to access the university's collections and their online resources

[Sarah Avery] 4:24 pm: I wish Google weren't quite so addicted to rightsgrabs, though. I'd like to feel better about using them.

[Edward Morris] 4:24 pm: googlebooks is good. i like the portland librarysystem better. they let you photocopy.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:25 pm: i understand and sympathize, sarah ... but youcan't find similar searchable access to historical resources outside thelibrary of congress. and the LC isn't searchable by keyword and exact phrase

[Edward Morris] 4:25 pm: and yes, i do recycle (c) materials after i am donewith fair-use usage

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:26 pm: a huge chunk of the bodelian library is on googlebooks, it used to take many letters to get things out of them

[Edward Morris] 4:26 pm: googlebooks almost demands a photographic memorywhen using it for research.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:26 pm: no no. download the book, print out pages, andorganize

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:26 pm: or use the clip function to take text

[Sarah Avery] 4:26 pm: Okay here's an odd question: are there secrecy taboosin the traditions you practice that limit what you feel you can write inyour fiction?

[Edward Morris] 4:27 pm: not really. if there were, i wouldn't tell you.;)

[MeredithHolmes] 4:27 pm: Well, when i've written characters in oathboundtraditions, for example, there's things that I as a writer won't know sinceI'm not a member. Like the OTO, for example. So I gloss over that as bestI can, or make it a non-integral part of the story

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:27 pm: every religion has unspoken rules in additionto what they paractice openly. and those rules change by area. most of themare cultural and not strictly religious

[MeredithHolmes] 4:28 pm: You can intimate things about the oathbound partsof the tradition, sort of step lightly.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:29 pm: intimate, not make up.

[Edward Morris] 4:29 pm: there are limits to what can be discussed secondhand. hard to boil down the numinous for Everyone Else Who Wasn't There (tm).but that's kinda my job. i've just been taught that to be observed in practiceis something i should avoid, and to do all good works anonymously whenpossible...

[MeredithHolmes] 4:29 pm: There's an example in Hoodoo...there are some thingsyou don't share the making of because it's specific to the practicioner.But you can talk about them doing the working

[MeredithHolmes] 4:30 pm: think Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.They talk about the conjurewoman in the cemetery and what she does to helpthe trial but the specifics are lacking in a way that leaves the mysterybut doesn't make it feel like a gaping hole

[Edward Morris] 4:30 pm: yes. talk about what you did but not how you didit. keep the right answers for yourself. thus the hidden connection thatmakes the act possible

[MeredithHolmes] 4:30 pm: you said it better!

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:30 pm: what is most difficult, i think, is to writesympathetically about a practice you may oppose in your real life, but asa historian and writer of fantasy, one needs the ability

[MeredithHolmes] 4:30 pm: yes!

[Sarah Avery] 4:30 pm: The tradition I practice in has some parts that areoathbound, so I chose to write eclectic-Pagan characters. A deep POV makesit hard to write an initiated character in an initiatory trad, unless thecharacter is lapsed in his or her practice.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:31 pm: It's like anthropological objectivity

[Edward Morris] 4:31 pm: i have written satanists, cannibal hillbillies...difficult, but with enough distance we can photograph our opposite number...

[MeredithHolmes] 4:32 pm: ...cannibal hillbillies? Like in The Hills HaveEyes?

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:32 pm: most religious practices are culturally slanted.The touch the reality of the culture and era in which they're set. YOu cannotdescribe them well, apart from the cuture in which they rest. ... reseachand though. put yourself in their place.

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[Edward Morris] 4:32 pm: yes. or the tale of sawney beane. mine are fromcentral p.a. the sollenheims

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:32 pm: they*

[Sarah Avery] 4:32 pm: Was the cannibalism primarily sacramental, culinary,or survivalistic?

[Edward Morris] 4:33 pm: vengeful/sacramental. root cause= famine.

[Edward Morris] 4:33 pm: eating the enemy for strength

[MeredithHolmes] 4:33 pm: aaaaaah

[MeredithHolmes] 4:33 pm: Always the most salacious part of the history booksin middle school

[MeredithHolmes] 4:34 pm: and still, to this day, piques the interest ofreaders. something of the forbidden always does.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:34 pm: there is also canibalism as punishment. expression of anger.

[Edward Morris] 4:34 pm: they do that in the congo.

[Sarah Avery] 4:34 pm: The most salacious parts they were allowed to publish,anyway. Weird, what people will allow children to read about, as long asthey're not reading about sex.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:34 pm: and example would be edward teach

[MeredithHolmes] 4:34 pm: I know, right?

[MeredithHolmes] 4:35 pm: Do y'all ever find it difficult to avoid stereotypeswhen you're writing?

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:35 pm: dont we all?

[MeredithHolmes] 4:35 pm: true

[MeredithHolmes] 4:36 pm: That is one of my few concerns when writing a faithI am not part of--I try to be very vigilant about stereotyping the characters.Even other Pagans.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:36 pm: There's an assumption, at least from what I'venoticed in mainstream lit, that all Pagans are the same. Or that Wicca isthe only paganism

[MeredithHolmes] 4:37 pm: I think one of the most misrepresented religionsin fiction has been Wicca. People seem to seize upon it in name only, orjust by watching The Craft and think that's true and exactly what happensin Wicca. There's so many resources available online that it takes just abit of effort...

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:37 pm: i face the same problem with my historical writing.the problem is there are stereo typical persons. You have to probe for moreinsight into there personality. That carries over to fiction.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:37 pm: very good point. thanks!

[Sarah Avery] 4:37 pm: It occurs to me that cannibalism is the classic accusationleveled against religious groups when someone's seeking to discredit them.It was the stereotype the Romans used to talk about Christian communion,something the Christians accused the Jews and Witches of doing. The classicstereotypes never go out of style.

[Edward Morris] 4:38 pm: sometimes hard to avoid some reader getting theirnose out of joint about something. every writer runs that risk. but somestereotypes even defy themselves.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:38 pm: well, I think that if someone is going to be offended,they can find something to offend them no matter what you write or don'twrite

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:38 pm: frankly, my most interesting research is intoreligious zealots, nuts. I have come to "love them from a distance" of about120 years. you can do that for your characters too

[MeredithHolmes] 4:39 pm: love them from a distance--I like that

[MeredithHolmes] 4:39 pm: Do you ever interview people for perspective ona religion before you write it?

[Edward Morris] 4:39 pm: totally. i like my big goofy cannibals. in 1858,NIMBY

[MeredithHolmes] 4:39 pm: lol

[Edward Morris] 4:39 pm: wait that was an answer to the last questi

[Edward Morris] 4:39 pm: on

[Sarah Avery] 4:40 pm: My current protagonist started out as the semi-fanaticalcomic relief, and I've encountered a lot of surprises trying to get intoher POV and figure out why her beliefs make sense to her.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:40 pm: ed, in Pixie Warrior there is an episode witha little red coat. I got a bit of fan mail saying "i loved the parody oflittle red riding hood." there IS no parody of that story. it's just a redcoat. readers will find what they want.

[Edward Morris] 4:40 pm: interview wise: yes, whenever i can. organically.i just hang out w/them and listen.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:40 pm: Edward--same here. It prodcuces far better info,IMHO, than a list of questions

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[MeredithHolmes] 4:41 pm: Rachael--I had a similar issue when Unseelie cameout. Someone wrote me saying they loved how Jenny Greenteeth was a constructto demonstrate modern jealousy., she was just Jenny Greenteeth.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:42 pm: ::nodds knowingly

[Edward Morris] 4:42 pm: my favorite muslim in the whole world used to runa deli by my house. i tried the aforementioned interview process and gotan ear full of jordanian wisdom for 2 years. "Let me tell you this story..."When Adel said that, I knew to pull up a seat and clear the rest of the day.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:42 pm: yes

[MeredithHolmes] 4:42 pm: field research, as it were.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:42 pm: the best characters come form real life, don'tthey, edward

[Edward Morris] 4:43 pm: 100%

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:43 pm: the real issue with translating a religon intofiction is to represent it as practiced and not as it is in their ideal.

[Sarah Avery] 4:43 pm: Well, they sort of come from real life, but they takea little jumbling up. Sort of like those fanciful taxidermy creatures withthe jackrabbit heads, antelope antlers, etc.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:43 pm: oh big time!

[MeredithHolmes] 4:44 pm: and lol, Sarah, I love that example

[Edward Morris] 4:44 pm: jenny hannivers

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:44 pm: this has its problems, because we like to seeour religious as "ideal" and they never are in practice

[MeredithHolmes] 4:44 pm: It's almost like the idea of the Noble Savage fromway back in the day.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:44 pm: exactly

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[MeredithHolmes] 4:44 pm: There's this idea, this construct, that ReligionX is just like it says in the brochures, but there's SO much more than theglossy pictures

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[Sarah Avery] 4:45 pm: One way to do that, when you have space for a bigenough cast of characters, is to have the characters argue about faith andpractice. Conflicting ideals and conflicting adaptations to reality can giveyou a lot of story energy.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:45 pm: sorry about my bad typing. i'm small, have verysmall hands and i struggle to reach the the keys

[MeredithHolmes] 4:45 pm: no worries!

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:45 pm: plus i'm just an awful typist

[Edward Morris] 4:45 pm: nope. but i like to see down and dirty catholicismin the middle east, where you go walk 7 miles to take care of your sick neighbor,stuff like that. the less-told sides of all religions...

[MeredithHolmes] 4:45 pm: Yeah--there's is not always giong to be major hugebad conflict between a Jew and a Muslim, for example

[Edward Morris] 4:46 pm: sorry my big arthritic hands not typing as fastas i talk today

[Sarah Avery] 4:46 pm: But where sometimes people can be gracious acrossreligious lines, it can be harder to be gracious in disagreement with a memberof one's own congregation.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:46 pm: very, very true

[MeredithHolmes] 4:47 pm: some of the worst fights I've heard about religionhave been between two Pagans of the same path

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:47 pm: yes. i agree edward. One of my favorite aspectsof religion is conflict between belief and practice. In my latest historybook, an evangelist who thinks the world will end in the fall of 1873 askseveryone to buy someone a coat because he'll "need it next year"

[MeredithHolmes] 4:48 pm: heh

[Edward Morris] 4:48 pm: haaa.good one. spot on

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:48 pm: about time for questions?

[MeredithHolmes] 4:49 pm: I think so!

[Sarah Avery] 4:49 pm: A lot of Theosophists were dismayed when the worlddidn't end on schedule (In 1881? 1889? The precise year escapes me at themoment). They adapted the following year by saying that the world had endedand then reformed to pick up where it left off. Yes, questions!

[MeredithHolmes] 4:49 pm: Sarah--way to make lemons out of lemonade!

[widdershins] 4:49 pm: ?

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:49 pm: we did good i think ... 1881. most of the westernworld thought 1881 was the end off a fake mother shipton prophecy

[MeredithHolmes] 4:49 pm: makes me wonder what will happen when the worlddoesn't end in 2012

[] 4:50 pm: ?

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:50 pm: you have a question, widder?

[widdershins] 4:50 pm: What about creating a fictional religion based onthe tenets of an existing one in a fictional world? Where do you draw theline about remaining true to the existing one?

[aswiebe] 4:50 pm: ?

[valarltd] 4:50 pm: ?

[Oliver] 4:50 pm:

[JourneyMouse] 4:50 pm: ?

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:51 pm: attend the discussion tomorrow. but if you creatthe religion, it's yours to do with what you wish

[Sarah Avery] 4:51 pm: In 2013, they'll pick a new prophecy with a new date,and the publishing engines will repackage all those annoying books undernew pseudonyms.

[Edward Morris] 4:51 pm: where it counts. the essential tenets, politics,etc. what made that one important to your story. that, and no more.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:51 pm: IMHO...if it's a fictional religion, even if it'sbased on an existing one, the sky's the limit. Makes me think of Canticlefor Leibowitz--the framework from the original one is there but it is adaptedfor the situation they're in

[] 4:51 pm: !

[widdershins] 4:51 pm: I'll be there

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:51 pm: Kath is next?

[Sarah Avery] 4:51 pm: If the world is fictional, and clearly signpostedas fictional, I'd say the author has license to do whatever works for thestory.

[Edward Morris] 4:52 pm: yes. catholicism changed again in miller's storyjust as it did in the dark ages

[] 4:52 pm: How do you politely ask someone questions about their religion?It's such a touchy subject for people, I feel weird asking, even when it'sjust about understanding and not necessarily writing.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:52 pm: my pixies have a religon based on an ancientnear eastern approach. it's muted in the story, and it's mine to make asi wish

[Edward Morris] 4:52 pm: tell them: i want to learn more about your faith.that's all.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:53 pm: Well, if you're friends with them, or they seemopen, just ask. Most people are okay answering respectful questions. If youhave the time and opportunity, attending a service in the faith is also anidea. Or just hanging out with people of that faith

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:53 pm: kath, i discuss religion all the time. the realkey is to be a good and proactive listener. a mostly forgotten book, teachereffectivness training, has good suggestion on active listening

[leona] 4:53 pm: !

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:54 pm: you feed back their comments, to verify youunderstand

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:54 pm: they know you're listening and non judgmental

[MeredithHolmes] 4:54 pm: that's a lost art in some places

[Sarah Avery] 4:54 pm: If the religion is a rare one, or is rare in the placewhere you happen to be asking, the person you're talking to has probablyheard so many weird questions, or been subject to so much misunderstanding,it might be a relief to be asked, if you can make respectful intent clear.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:55 pm: i lost track of who's next

[MeredithHolmes] 4:55 pm: awiebe

[MeredithHolmes] 4:55 pm: er, aswiebe

[aswiebe] 4:55 pm: So how do you find the unspoken rules? Many wouldn't eventhink of them as "rules," just be shocked if they were broken. And aboutthings that people aren't allowed to talk about--can you ask them what thatis? How else do you find out about the absence of those things?

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:56 pm: aswiebe, the unspoken rules usually have todo with practice more than belief. ask them what they "do" rather than whatthey believe

[MeredithHolmes] 4:56 pm: That depends, I think. Some religions, like Judaism,you can find info on the "unspoken" parts in textbooks, first hand accounts,or just talking to people and asking things like "what if someone does xyz?What happens?"

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:56 pm: how do you approach ....?

[Edward Morris] 4:56 pm: become an anthropologist. make yourself as invisibleas you ccan.

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:57 pm: or, "i notice that some adherents ... [insertobservation] ... can you tell me why?

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:57 pm: personal and uncritical observation goes alongway ... no questions needed

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:57 pm: the hidden rules are openly practiced usually

[MeredithHolmes] 4:58 pm: It's things that most people don't realize theydo usually.

[MeredithHolmes] 4:58 pm: it's so ingrained

[Edward Morris] 4:58 pm: smart answer.

[Sarah Avery] 4:58 pm: Secrecy taboos vary a lot. For instance, I can talkabout almost anything in my tradition except for the rites of passage anda few things that are specific to preparation or follow-up to the rites ofpassage. But Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wiccans take much deeper vows ofsecrecy, and some feel they can't even speak openly about being Wiccan, period.In some cases, you can come out and ask, "What can't you tell me detailsabout?"

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:58 pm: leona had a comment i think

[Racahel de Vienne] 4:58 pm: nice welsh name

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[leona] 4:59 pm: Yes, I was thinking that looking up some base informationonline would be a good way to start when you're wanting to ask someone aquestion about their religion ...

[MeredithHolmes] 4:59 pm: have a jumping off point

[Sarah Avery] 4:59 pm: Even if the information is wrong, you can ask aboutit.

[Edward Morris] 5:00 pm: (aside:) I am sitting here bundling sage and wearingmy UNORTHODOX PAGAN t-shirt. Wish this panel was live... g/a

[MeredithHolmes] 5:00 pm: lol

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:00 pm: yes, leona. people appreciate it when you havesome knowledge already.

[leona] 5:00 pm: exactly ...

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:00 pm: no way should this be live! i'm in my bathrobe

[MeredithHolmes] 5:00 pm: lol

[MeredithHolmes] 5:00 pm: I think valarltd had a ?

[valarltd] 5:00 pm: One of my publishers specializes in pagan books, includingwhat may be the first pagan inspirational romance. Do you see a growing marketfor pagan books, specifically romance outside the paranormal genre andchildren's? Is the very idea of children's pagan books problematic, a lathe secrecy rules just mentioned?

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[MeredithHolmes] 5:01 pm: I'd LOVE t osee more Pagan children's books. I'mraising a paganlet right now and while most kid's books are pretty religionneutral, it'd be great to see some that focused on pagan themes.

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:01 pm: there are children raised pagan. do they wantto read christian paranormal romance ... assuming there really is such athing?

[MeredithHolmes] 5:01 pm: IMHO, I think there is a good market for Paganbooks, now that there is less of a stigma about being Pagan

[Edward Morris] 5:02 pm: @v: no. every indie bookstore in portland has pagankid's books. very hip thing. and almost always good writing, too. the restof the country will soon catch up, no doubt

[MeredithHolmes] 5:02 pm: social stigma rather

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[MeredithHolmes] 5:03 pm: I do think that some mainstream publishers arehesitant to do Pagan genre books because many of them have Christian imprints(which is NOT a bad thing--don't misconstrue, lol) and some readers of thatgenre may not be comfortable with their favorite publisher also printingpagan books

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:03 pm: more questions? follow ups?

[Sarah Avery] 5:03 pm: There are so many Pagan traditions, and a lot of themare unencumbered by secrecy taboos. Even for the ones that have secrecy issues,a children's book with a subtly Pagan sensibility can be very welcome. Ilove Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess's book, Blueberry Girl. I have a few othersfor my kids that are from mainstream publishers and relatively mainstreamwriters, but the worldview is close enough. I'd love to see more overtlyPagan kids' books. I may write some, eventually.

[valarltd] 5:03 pm: My thoughts exactly, as my own wee pagan wanted her faithin a book

[MeredithHolmes] 5:03 pm: I think JourneyMouse had a question

[JourneyMouse] 5:04 pm: Meredith raised the issue of the "Noble Savage",which isn't exactly an idea that has gone away. It might be behind thewide-spread (possibly poor) adaption and confusion of many native traditions.Do you think the generally blurred view on paganism is an extension of this?A rediscovery of the noble savage in civilisation, so to speak?

[MeredithHolmes] 5:04 pm: oooooh

[JourneyMouse] 5:04 pm: (And deep breath...) ;)

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:04 pm: the short answer: yes

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[Edward Morris] 5:05 pm: yes. the oversimplified de-fanged savage. the poorhapless anachronism

[MeredithHolmes] 5:05 pm: Okay, I may get jumped on for this but I thinkthat sort of thing is easily visible in a certain popular teen/YA seriesfeaturing a Native American main character.

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:05 pm: i agree, meredith

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:05 pm: the remedy is good research and a dose of realism

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[Racahel de Vienne] 5:05 pm: people are flawed ... no culture is immune

[MeredithHolmes] 5:06 pm: And with Pagan characters, you can see it to insome mainstream lit. I loved Practical Magic, but "defanged" is a good wayto describe the witches.

[Edward Morris] 5:06 pm: savage, in Latin= homo indomitus. s/he who willnot be colonized.

[JourneyMouse] 5:06 pm: (as an insert, I think it was something very easyto see in the Victorian love of historical people - from medieval romanceto Celtica to VIking sagas)

[Sarah Avery] 5:06 pm: Here's a long answer: I think the development ofNeo-Paganism may be Western culture's attempt to take responsibility forall the stuff it has projected on non-Western peoples. Do we in the Westwant a Dionysian, ecstatic, body-positive, woman-empowering religion? Okaythen, instead of trying to force some other existing religion to be thatfor us, let's build it ourselves and then try to make it work.

[MeredithHolmes] 5:07 pm: There seems to be a love affair with "almost witches"or "almost pagans"--write the mysterious, magical woman (usually woman) butdo not name her a witch or a pagan and stop just short of showing her worshippingin a non-mainstream religion manner

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:07 pm: a line i was saving for tomorrow is "creatingyour own religion must be easy ... people have been doing it for millennia."

[Edward Morris] 5:07 pm: i always thought it was the only tradition thatmade any #$%^&* sense for someone of my ancestry to practice

[MeredithHolmes] 5:07 pm: lol, Rachael

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:07 pm: don't worry, i'll probably reuse it

[MeredithHolmes] 5:08 pm: the Julie Collins mysteries feature realisticdepictions of Native American faith, IMHO.

[Rhiannon] 5:08 pm: !

[MeredithHolmes] 5:08 pm: They're not mysterious, out on "the Rez", smokingthe peace pipe and speaking in inspirational quotes

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:08 pm: the wise woman tradition spans almost everyreligon. use it well

[MeredithHolmes] 5:08 pm: *nods*

[Sarah Avery] 5:09 pm: Of course, the moment you stop projecting all thatstuff onto another people and start trying to make it work, yourself, itstops being exotic, and starts being a community of ordinary humans who havequirks, some of them annoying, and troubles, some of them requiring casseroles.Our worship and doctrines are different, but the life of the community ismuch like the life of any congregation.

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:09 pm: saints are annoying in practice because theyare just like us

[Rhiannon] 5:09 pm: I use paganism in my writing to, but the Greek pagangods are over used. I'm wiccan so I wonder what you mean by "defanged" inreference to Practical Magic?

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[Racahel de Vienne] 5:10 pm: i disagree on the use of greek paganism. whatis overused is the easy-reader version of greek mythology. there is a vastuntapped greek paganism out there

[MeredithHolmes] 5:10 pm: This is just my opinion so individual mileage mayvary... I really did love the book (and the movie, lol). I felt that thewitches were "defanged" mainly because they seemed to lack realism. I know,I know--fictional book, why worry about it?

[MeredithHolmes] 5:11 pm: The were witches for entertainment value

[Edward Morris] 5:11 pm: defanged=magic spells that can be resolved in 30or 90 minutes. things not coming back 3fold. hollywood woo-woo

[Sarah Avery] 5:11 pm: And Practical Magic, the Alice Hoffman novel, wasvery different from Practical Magic, the film. Strangely, the witches inthe film were more like real Wiccans than the ones in the book.

[MeredithHolmes] 5:11 pm: @ Sarah: heh, yep. And Edward--thanks for summingit up!

[MeredithHolmes] 5:11 pm: Though I don't do the 3fold law in my path, I knowwhat you mean

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[MeredithHolmes] 5:11 pm: @ Rachael--so agree.

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:11 pm: a book you may want to read is: Modern greekfolklore and ancient greek religion by j c lawson

[] 5:12 pm: !

[MeredithHolmes] 5:12 pm: The easy reader version of pagan paths, so to speak,shows up a lot mainly because many readers don't like to see the "dark side"of the gods or practices

[MeredithHolmes] 5:12 pm: not oooh spooky evil but just not the happy side

[Edward Morris] 5:12 pm: just in general, whatever you do there is an exchangeof energy. they showed that well in 'carnivale.' practicioners can't notbe affected by their own workings

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:12 pm: but the dark side is sooo interesting

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[MeredithHolmes] 5:12 pm: I tend to think so!

[leona] 5:12 pm: @Rachael: I agree!!!!

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[Rhiannon] 5:13 pm: alot of what I saw in practical magic and harry potterwere stereotypes and not like what me and DJ Conway practice. Could you elaborateon why you feel Greek Paganism is untapped?

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:13 pm: i've reseached the Goat Cult for about ten years.the details are skin crawlingly icky. but it IS intersting

[Sarah Avery] 5:13 pm: And yet, I've run into a lot of religion scholarswhose only acquaintance with modern Paganism is with the white light NewAge fluff-bunny stuff, and they're resistant to the idea that we have theguts to think about the dark.

[Edward Morris] 5:13 pm: kage baker's eleusis story was one in a million.people who write about greek paganism tend to stop at edith bullfinch.

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:14 pm: yes

[MeredithHolmes] 5:14 pm: Greek Paganism, Hellenism, etc is largely untappedbecause the people who practice the trads usually have very little to dowith the Percy Jackson version of the gods

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:14 pm: too true

[MeredithHolmes] 5:14 pm: Dionysus wasn't always a corpulent drunk, for example

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:15 pm: nope ... and satyrs arent what you think

[Edward Morris] 5:15 pm: He was first the god of mushrooms

[Sarah Avery] 5:15 pm: They Greek Reconstructionists I know are too busyhoning their ability to read and speak actual Ancient Greek, which takesup a lot of bandwidth and time, to mess around with pop culture.

[MeredithHolmes] 5:15 pm: lol

[MeredithHolmes] 5:16 pm: I think baseltum had a question?

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:16 pm: hey, i put two years into being able to reakkoine greek, i still can't do it well or without a lexicon. ... it's notnecessary to research either

[] 5:16 pm: I've noticed there as many similarities to religious practicesas there are to the mythological stories.

[Rhiannon] 5:16 pm: oh I don't do fluffy-bunny. I worship dark goddessesand explore the darker natures of magic:D

[MeredithHolmes] 5:17 pm: Basletum--yep. It seems like a lot of things crossborders in religion

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[Racahel de Vienne] 5:18 pm: religions are all syncretistic (dang i hopei spelled that somewhere near correctly) they all borrow from the sametraditions, without exception.

[Edward Morris] 5:18 pm: yes. there is a saying in a.a.:"religions are brandnames, god is generic." true.spiritual truths are universal.

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:18 pm: they interpret the traditions differently

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[MeredithHolmes] 5:18 pm: I like that, Edward

[Sarah Avery] 5:18 pm: We're all running our religion on and through ourbrains. Human brains are varied, and culture can shape how individual brainsget wired up, but we all do have a lot of similarity in the hardware, andwe're all living in the same physical universe. And Rachael's right, syncretismis the norm, though a lot of religions would like t othink it's the exception.

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[Racahel de Vienne] 5:19 pm: Archbishop newman made that point for christianityas usually practiced back in the mid 19th century

[Edward Morris] 5:19 pm: personal spiritual revelations can happen anywhere,be it the road to damascus or the road to sunnyvale trailer park.

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:20 pm: later cardinal newman

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:20 pm: after he converted

[Rhiannon] 5:20 pm: you noticed right Basletum. The new moon is more forgoddesses like Hecate or Donn. I just wish authors would use more untappedgods like Egyptiah gods and goddesses or gods native to middle eastern lore.I would love to read a book using these pantheons.

[Sarah Avery] 5:20 pm: This has been a great conversation, but my small childneeds dinner. I must go. Thank you all!

[MeredithHolmes] 5:20 pm: I need to head out too! My Spawnlet has decidedit's dinner time!

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:21 pm: astarte was a nasty, vulgar, wench ... she'dmake an interesting character

[] 5:21 pm: I loved this panel :)

[] 5:21 pm: Thank you both for an excellent panel!

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:21 pm: thanks

[leonawisoker] 5:21 pm: Yes, thanks everyone !! what I caught was wonderful!!

[MeredithHolmes] 5:21 pm: Thanks everyone for coming! Hope y'all make itto the other panels this month as well! All of them have been great

[] 5:21 pm: Thank you all, I was fascinated the whole way through :D

[valarltd] 5:21 pm: Thank you. This hjas been fascinating

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:21 pm: come to the creating your own religion paneltomorrow

[Edward Morris] 5:22 pm: Thank you all. Sorry my balloon didn't pop up. Enjoyedthis immensely.

[JourneyMouse] 5:22 pm: Thanks for being an instructive panel :)

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:22 pm: more from an enlarged perspective

[valarltd] 5:22 pm: Rhiannon: Curse of the Pharaoh's Manicurists

[] 5:22 pm: I'll be there for sure!

[MeredithHolmes] 5:22 pm: Rachael--I think I'm going to try to make thatone!

[] 5:22 pm: @rhiannon: I have a story in The four Horesemen nthology by PillHill Press that has Ishtar and Marduk as the main characters.

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:22 pm: it should be fun

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:22 pm: the book is historical nonsense, but you shouldread it anyway: the two babylons by hislop

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:23 pm: you want stuff for charcterization

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:23 pm: that provides it

[MeredithHolmes->Rachael de Vienne] 5:23 pm: Deena asked me to send youa copy of the transcript! It should be on it's way soon as the panel is officallydone! :)

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:23 pm: also frazier's golden bough

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:23 pm: not the abridge version either

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:23 pm: take the time to read all fifteen volumes

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:23 pm: it's worth it

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[Racahel de Vienne] 5:24 pm: i'm talked out unless there's one last questionor comment

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[Racahel de Vienne] 5:25 pm: visit me here:

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:25 pm: i've got to say bye bye

[] 5:25 pm: Would any of you be open to interviews from other authors aboutyour faith?

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:25 pm: until tomorrow

[MeredithHolmes] 5:25 pm: sure!

[Racahel de Vienne] 5:25 pm: certainly

[JourneyMouse] 5:25 pm: Now making mental note to self to research Pagansbefore I mention them ;)

[] 5:25 pm: In the name of "getting it right"?

[MeredithHolmes] 5:25 pm: I'm fine with it

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[widdershins] 5:26 pm: Thanks everyone... see you tomorrow Racahel

[] 5:26 pm: Ancient Pagan Symbols by Elisabeth Goldsmith is a good resourcebook on symboilism

[MeredithHolmes] 5:26 pm: it's been great! See y'all around the con!

[] 5:26 pm: Good to know, I have a book in the work that focuses a lot onObeah, which is a derivative of Voodoo, here in the Bahmas :)

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