For Real Friday: Jealous, Crazy Women

I changed my mind, I am going to do a for real Friday this week. We’ll finish up the Psyche myth next week.

So the jealous/Crazy women thing. I don’t mean the issue is women who are jealous. I mean the insane way that society bends over backward to label the reasons behind a woman’s actions as jealously. Seriously. Psyche’s sisters go to see their prophetically doomed sister in a creepy abandoned castle that talks and has the ability to possess inanimate objects and make them dance and learn that their youngest sister has never seen their husband. This freaks them out.

They must be jealous.

I mean, really? Attributing a woman’s actions to irrational feelings instead of you know, really apparent reasons, is a major issue women still face. We have to be calm, cool, and collected full time because if we seem even a little upset when we make the point that you know, maybe our sister should be concerned about the possessed silverware, we’re seen as being “crazy.”

Crazy is a problem. And its used to invalidate and silence women every day. This idea has permeated every inch of our culture and in all seriousness, it needs to stop.

Mythology Monday: Cupid, Psyche and a Guest Blog

Hi guys,

This week we’re going to break format a little to do something special for a very special set of myths. Today we have a guest blog from the author of Struck: What’s Really Real?, Maya Mirza-Gill, with a peek at her work in progress inspired by her favorite myth followed by my telling of the myth (so keep scrolling). Because this myth is a long one, instead of doing the Way Back Wednesdays this week, I’m going to be posting a picture from a story inspired by the myth with each blog and skipping For Real Friday in favor of telling the rest of the myth. Enjoy 🙂

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“Whoever said it was a ‘damsel’ in distress was an enormous idiot,” Sky exclaimed, hitching her skirt up high above her knees.

“That’s elegant,” smirked Coop, lying on the bank behind her. “A lady standing in the middle of a river of… well…” he searched for a word, “mud, showing off her bare legs for all to see!”

Sky rolled her eyes and pulled her foot up through the sticky mud and thrust it forwards, shuddering as the mud squelched beneath her feet. “Well, I am trying to save your highness.” She scoffed, bracing herself to repeat her jagged, stilted walk across the muddy river.

“You know, I’d believe that if I didn’t know you were planning on using the box for your own beauty,” Coop rolled over onto his back.

Sky blushed. Coop didn’t know why she needed it. “I am not!” She mumbled, flailing her arms about for balance. “And its ‘Sky’.”

“Careful, Eeks,” Coop’s voice sounded playful again, “You don’t want the Thunderer to come whisk you away for playtime.”

Sky’s face went bright red, again. “Excuse me?” She put her arm on her hip, trying to look menacing and offended.

Coop reeled off laughter, watching the tiny girl in a big, pink dress, standing in mud, with a defiant expression that resembled a dirty kitten more than the menacing creature she deemed herself.

After watching him laugh for a few moments, Sky sighed, turning around again. “Will you just go away and let me do this?” Exhaled Sky, taking another trudging step forwards.

“And miss out on all this fun?”

“You’re so annoying!” exclaimed Sky. “I don’t know why I’m bothering saving your sorry butt in the first place.”

“Because I am dashingly handsome and you crave my company,” piped up Coop.

Despite herself, Sky stole a glance at him; he was staring at the sky and his brown hair was flopped over onto the grass. His blue eyes were suddenly on hers and Sky flinched. “Aren’t I, Eeks?”

Sky shook her head. “No… that’s definitely not it.” Stupid, Beautiful Deity.

“You could say you owe me,” Coop pressed a blade of grass between his teeth. “For scarring and maiming me with mortality.”

“I-…” Sky stopped short. With how cocky and annoying Coop could be, she often forgot that she had badly injured him; and he had saved her life. His back was scarred with the loss of his beautiful blue wings.

Coop sat up, wincing, “Eeks, I’m only joking!” He watched her expression become unreadable from guilt.

Sky was almost an eighth of the way into the river now, Coop was looking smaller and smaller as she made her way across.

“You might want to hurry up; I’m mortal now so I’d rather be saved before I die of old age!” Coop shouted towards her.

“Go home then!” Sky shouted back, “you’re distracting me!”

“That’s because you can’t help but be pulled in by my devilish good looks and charm!” He struck Apollo’s signature pose from the perfume ads; leaving Sky in a momentarily carefree fit of giggles.

“You seriously have nothing better to do than watch me wade waist deep into a mud and bring back a fire-breathing sheep?”

“The sheep doesn’t breathe fire! It is MADE of fire, Eeks,” Coop shook his head, mockingly, “honestly, you’re such a dunce with myth.”

I knew that…. Why did he have to be such a damn know-it-all? “Just because you’re a million years old you’re PART of the myth. And stop calling me that!” Sky retorted, getting annoyed again.

“Eeeks? Aww but, it suits you so well! You’re ickle, and you’re a scaredy-cat, and you have this mouse like expression permanently glued to your face. Eeks!” Coop carried on making fun of her, laughing at himself.

“GO AWAY!” Sky’s breathing was getting heavier as the mud was getting thicker and heavier. She was very deeply waded into the mud now.

Myth inspiration:

My all-time favourite myth is the Hades/Persephone, East of the Sun, West of the Moon (Norwegian folk tale) and Beauty and the Beast one. Because all of these seem to stem from Cupid and Psyche. I love how the tale has evolved and adapted into so many retellings and adaptations; and so when it came to writing some flash fiction, I had to go with my gut instinct love for Cupid and Psyche.

I do have an entire novel in mind, but won’t be starting it up for a while; this is a sneak peek into the story. Hence the names: Sky is a play on Psyche (changing round the sounds of this name) and Coop is like Cupid. I am excited to start this novel, but haven’t yet becase I am working on my first trilogy, and having published the first novel, Struck, I have begun work on the sequel.

The Myth as told by Kaitlin Bevis:

20140314-114621.jpgOnce upon a time there was a beautiful princess named Psyche. She was the youngest of three daughters. Her two older sisters were also beautiful, but only in an ordinary, human way. After they were married, her parents consulted an oracle inquiring what to do about their inhumanly beautiful daughter. They were a bit worried her beauty would inspire the wrath of the gods.

It already had. Poor Psyche was so beautiful that the people of her kingdom worshiped her instead of Aphrodite. They claimed she was a second coming of Aphrodite, or at least her daughter.

In truth, Psyche was neither. She was a completely typical human unlucky enough to be compared to a goddess. Aphrodite sent Eros to get revenge on the girl who dared to be beautiful. Meanwhile, the parents received troubling news from the oracle. Instead of expecting a human son-in-law, their daughter would marry a dragon that even Zeus feared.

Terrified, they dressed their daughter up for a funeral and marched her up the mountain. But Eros, sent from Aphrodite to exact her revenge, saw the princess and immediately fell in love. With the help of Zephyrus, the western wind, he spirited the princess away.

Psyche woke up in a beautiful meadow and decided to go exploring. Soon she discovered a beautiful house and a random, creepy, echo told her to make herself comfortable. In a very “Beauty and the Beast”-esq scene, she is entertained by a feast that serves itself and instruments that play by themselves. She dances along to “Be Our Guest” and eventually finds herself in a bedroom where she has sex with a man cloaked in darkness and kindness. He won’t allow her to look upon his face and always departs before sunrise.

To be continued on Wednesday

 About Myra:

My name is Maya Mirza-Gill, I am a new author, I live in London, UK and I studied English Literature at University. I love reading, and writing, including on my website www.mayamirzagill.com – where I post reviews, snippets of work and also ootd inspired by novels and characters. You can stay up-to-date with me on twitter (@mayamaomao) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/mayamirzagillwebsite).

Myra’s work:

I have recently published my novel; Struck which is a Young Adult Fantasy Fiction about a girl called Dawn who travels through time. She meets a boy called Stephan, but as she tries to get back everything gets more and more complicated; making her question what’s really real.

Way Back Wednesday: Cerberus

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Cerberus has made his way through a lot of retellings and even popped up in some unexpected places. Here are the three that had the biggest impact on me.

Hercules

No surprise there.

Full Metal Alchemist

Nina made me think of Cerberus for some reason, which is probably why I couldn’t write a scene where Cerberus was actually present. Have I mentioned yet how much the Nina thing traumatized me?

Fluffy!

Did they not do an awesome job on Fluffy in Harry Potter the movie?

Mythology Monday: Cerberus

"Cerberus (PSF)" by Pearson Scott Foresman - Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation→This file has been extracted from another file: Cerberus (PSF).jpg.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cerberus_(PSF).png#/media/File:Cerberus_(PSF).png

“Cerberus (PSF)” by Pearson Scott Foresman – Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation→This file has been extracted from another file: Cerberus (PSF).jpg.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cerberus_(PSF).png#/media/File:Cerberus_(PSF).png

Charon laughed at the obvious disappointment in my voice. “Who were you hoping to meet?”

I flushed. “I was a fan of the Hercules show when I was younger.”

“He had a show?” Charon raised his eyebrows. “I only caught the cartoon.”

“I loved that cartoon!”

“Don’t let Hades hear you say that.” Charon laughed. “Or that you’re a fan of Herc.”

“Why?”

“There’s been bad blood between those two ever since Hercules stole Hades’ dog.”

“Cerberus? The myth called that a loan.”

“It was. But Hercules never brought Cerberus back, and now he’s drunk from the Lethe so he can never tell Hades where to find him.”

I blinked. Everything dead came to the Underworld. If Cerberus had never returned . . . “You mean there’s a three-headed dog running around on the surface?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.

~@~

Cerberus has come up in a few mythology Mondays before, but I wanted to go into a bit more background about the Underworld puppy.

Cerberus was the child of Echidna and Typhon. This puppy has many fearful monster-siblings, such as the Hydra, Orthus a two headed hell-hound, and the Chimera.

The number of heads Cerberus has varies widely by the myth. Sometimes he has hundreds, sometimes three. Sometimes only one, with two puppies nearby that were so clingy and so alike in thought that all three dogs attacked as a unit. In art, he is almost always depicted with three, and like most things that come in threes in Greek mythology, his heads represent the past, present, and future/ youth, middle age, and old age.

Cerberus’ job was to guard the gates of the Underworld. The dead could enter, but never leave. He was borrowed by Hercules in this mythology Monday. Odysseus once put Cerberus to sleep by playing music and snuck past him. Aeneas once drugged the puppy with honey cakes and got past him that way. So as far as Underworld guards go, he wasn’t the best.

He barks once in Paradise lost, and even makes an appearance in the Inferno as a great worm, which sounds crazy at first, but makes more sense when you read into a few of the old sources and realize that Cerberus also had a serpents mane (not sure what that would look like) and a serpents tail.

In my version of the myth, Hercules never returned the dog, so he’s still wandering the surface somewhere (possibly at Hogwarts), but we’ll never know since the search for Cerberus never turned him up :(. I’ll try that contest again one day.

Mythology Monday on Tuesday: Poseidon

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**posting delayed a day in honor of Memorial Day**

I turned to see a tall man striding toward us through the shallow surf. He had a flowing blond beard, a deep tan, and was dressed casually in board shorts and nothing else. I raised my eyebrows at his six-pack and gave Hades a speculative look. I’d never seen Hades with his shirt off. Were all gods built like that? I really hoped so.

“Poseidon,” Hades said in a civil voice. He shifted, subtly placing himself between Poseidon and me. “It’s been a long time.”

To anyone who hadn’t spent months overanalyzing Hades’ every move, he looked perfectly calm. But I could feel the tension radiating off him.

Poseidon stopped an arm’s-length away from us and looked at me. I saw his eyes and caught my breath. They swirled with shades of green, blue, and brown-white waves crested in miniature. They were so deep I could feel myself falling into them. I forced myself to meet the crashing and churning waves, not looking away until Poseidon chuckled.

“You’re the spitting image of your mother.” He grinned at me. “Uncanny. Pleased to meet you in person.” He extended his hand.

Hades pushed my hand down before it could meet his. “Don’t.” His voice was full of warning. I followed his gaze to Poseidon, confused by the sudden malice in Hades’ eyes.

Poseidon laughed. “Oh Hades, you’ve got it bad. There’s little need to worry. I don’t often have interest in children.”

Interesting wording. “Didn’t often.” “Little need.” No wonder Hades looked so tense. This guy was slimy. What would have happened if I’d shaken his hand?

~@~

In Greek mythology, Poseidon is god of the sea, earthquakes, and horses. He is one of the “big six” (thank you Rick Riordan); children of Cronus and Rhea which also includes Zeus, Hera, Demeter, Hades, and Hestia. Some versions of his birth-story indicate that he, like Zeus, was not eaten by Cronus, but hidden among a flock of lambs. His name may mean husband of the earth, which links him with Demeter, but that’s only one possible interpretation. He has also gone by Neptune and Nathus.

He competed with Athena to become patron of the city which would later be known as Athens (i.e Athena won). In the contest, whoever gave the city the best gift won. Poseidon stuck his trident in the ground and a salt-water spring popped up. Not seeing the use in salt water, the city chose Athena’s gift of the olive-tree.

Poseidon was once stripped of his divinity by Zeus, and sent to work for King Laomedon of Troy way before the Trojan war. He and Apollo built the wall around the city. When the wall was done and his divinity returned, he sent a sea-monster to attack Troy, which Hercules defeated. More on this myth in this blog.

He was married to Amphitrite, a once powerful sea-goddess in her own right in Ancient Greece that was eventually downgraded to a simple sea-nymph that was the daughter of Nereus and Doris Or Oceanus and Tethys, which either makes her a Nereid or an Oceanid sea-nymph. Their children included seals, dolphins, Triton, and in some myths daughters named Rhode and Benthesikyme. Poseidon either saw her dancing and carried her off, or had his dolphins track her down after she rejected Atlas and convince her that Poseidon was awesome.

Poseidon was married, but he had many, many, many other trysts, most of which were not-consensual. In one version of the myth, he made Medusa famous by raping her on the steps of the temple of Athena (she’d been running there in hopes her patron-goddess would save her from Poseidon. Athena instead made Medusa into a monster for defiling her temple.

He also raped Demeter. She turned into a horse and tried to flee, but he turned into a stallion and they had one to two (depending on the myth) horse babies named Desponia and Areion. Areion could talk. These were the horses Persephone met on Cumberland Island in Daughter of the Earth and Sky.

He may have been the father of Theseus, more on him in a future blog. He tricked a woman named Tyro who was in love with a river god into sleeping with him my disguising himself as the river god. He seduced one of his granddaughters named Alope by disguising himself as a kingfisher. She had a child and left it outside to die, but a passing mare and some shepherds saved it. Her father walled her up in disgust, but Poseidon sort of saved her by turning her into a spring.

Amymone was rescued from a sater by Poseidon and in gratitude bore him a son.

There was one romantic story that didn’t end in rape. He fell in love with a mortal named Cleito, and created a sanctuary for her on top of a hill surrounded by rings of water. She gave birth to five sets of twin boys, and the first became the founder of Atlantis.

Poseidon was also father to several monsters, giants, and cyclopes by way of Gaia and other monsters.

Poseidon plays a vital role in Homer’s The Odyssey, keeping Odysseus from his home for a great many years out of spite. He plays a lesser role in The Illiad, where he took the Greek’s side in the battle.

I don’t gloss over Poseidon’s dark side in my books. He’s a pervert, and a creep. Frankly, most of the myths featuring Poseidon disgust me. But I can’t deny his important role to Greek mythology, which is why he still has a role in my books.

Way Back Wednesday: Mind Control

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Charm, compulsion or some variation of mind control, has been around since the days of bards. The list of shows or books or movies that used mind control as a plot device when I was growing up are endless. My version of charm could literally have been inspired by any show ever. It’s that huge of a plot device in modern culture, and for good reason. It’s terrifying. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you want to know what a society fears, look at their stories. We don’t like losing control. We don’t like being made to do something. And deep down, we’re a little afraid that we might not realize we’re being manipulated into doing something that goes against our best interests.

Aladdin

The earliest memory I have of mind manipulation as a plot device is Aladdin. In retrospect, Jafar’s ability to hypnotize people didn’t bother me nearly enough as a child. But I guess it helps that he had some pretty severe limits. It’s heavily implied his powers only work on the weak willed as we never see Aladdin or Jasmine controlled in the way the Sultan was. And the Sultan could break free if something was shocking enough.

Vampire Diaries

The books, not the series. It’s worth noting the series’ way of portraying compulsion with the pupils widening and such happened well after Persephone was written. Not suggesting they copied me, like I said, mind control is a pretty standard trope and even the eyes widening is fairly common place, just pointing out that I didn’t lift charm that overtly. The book version of compulsion was subtler, but it was there and it was pretty cool, though like Jafar, there were some hefty limits so it wasn’t as scary as it could have been.

Star Wars

These are not the droids you’re looking for.

Ella Enchanted

The book, not the movie which should have been named something else with a tagline that proclaimed it was inspired by the novel Ella Enchanted, not that it was in any way, shape, or form, a film version of the book because the book and the movie had nothing in common with the book except the name and even thinking about the movie gets me so angry, which is a shame because if the movie had been named something else, I’d probably love it. *deep breath* Sorry for the run-on. But good lord, that movie…

Anyway, the Ogres in Ella Enchanted had hypnotic voices and could literally convince their food (people) to cook themselves.

There are more exampled. Hundreds upon thousands of them. What ways have you seen charm used in popular culture?

For Real Friday: Fading into the Background

Hestia is one of my favorite goddesses because she, and all other important yet quiet background characters, reminds me of something really important. People have ripples. Some people’s are obvious. They’re boulders thrown into the stream with a big splash. They draw attention and it’s easy to attribute their ripples to them because they’re so obvious.

But some people are pebbles. They slip quietly into the stream in the boulder’s wake and they aren’t noticed but they still alter the stream. Their ripples keep going and going and going. This quiet little thing you never would have noticed impacts the whole pond. Hestia is a reminder that everyone matters, no matter how inconsequential you think you are, your ripples have reach.

Way Back Wednesday: Background Characters

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Hestia is remarkable in Greek mythology for a few reasons. She was worshipped by all, given bits of every offering, in theory if power = worship, she was raking it in. But she was also the quietest, least dramatic god in the pantheon. But she’s not the only figure like that in stories. Those really important, ever-present background characters are all over the place if you know where to look. Here are a few that I can remember.

The Teacher in Charley Brown

Everyone who watched the show or read the comics remembers her. She was in pretty much every episode, and she played a role pretty important to children (you’re stuck with your teacher all year after all) yet no one would consider her a main or even a particularly important character. She’s the epitome of an always present background character.

Kathy Santoni From Full House

Kathy Santoni was only known by name for entire seasons of Full House before she finally got screen time but she had a pretty significant impact on D.J Tanner. Anytime Danny said she couldn’t do something, Kathy Santoni was allowed to. She stole D.J’s first boyfriend, caused all kinds of drama, and became pregnant as a teenager, freaking Danny out to no end. Influencial, yet otherwise unmemorable.

Ponch from So You Want to be a Wizard

I…can’t go in to why this character counts in this list without major spoilers, but if you haven’t read this series, do.

Literally every background character in Chrono Trigger or the Sword of Truth series at all.

Owen from Gargoyles

Owen is a perfect example of that always present, actually super important, background character who is just *there.* He’s there, he matters, but as Owen, he doesn’t get a lot of screen time.

Bill Turner

Let’s ignore the fact that anything exists past Pirates of the Caribbean 1 for just a minute. Bill Turner in movie one is a perfect example of what Hestia is like in Greek Mythology. He’s referenced a lot. He matters to the other characters, he influences the motivations of others just by being named. As a concept he’s important, as a character he isn’t actually there.

The Naked Guy From Friends

Referenced throughout the entire show, Naked Guy added a layer of illicit entertainment to Friends. Viewers were aware of him, but until close to the end never saw him. Here’s a whole string of Naked Guy Gifs from Tumblr.

Can you think of any background characters who were actually really important to the story?

Way Back Wednesday: Epic Moms

Mom’s don’t get a lot of recognition in fiction. Especially young adult or children’s fiction. They tend to get killed off or are mysteriously off-screen for most of the story, or are so laughably incompetent the kids have to take charge. It makes sense in a way. The focus on children’s and young adult literature is on the children. It’s a space for the kids to be the center of the story and that’s hard to do with mom shadowing your every move. But here’s my  favorite fictional mom’s growing up.

Kitty Forman from That Seventies Show

It wasn’t possible to hate this woman. She was a well rounded character with a sense of humor, morals, and while she had flaws, she was so lovable you just didn’t care.

Molly Weasley from Harry Potter

She had a ton of children, loved every one to pieces, and made room in her family for Harry. There was nothing not to love about this woman. There’s a great blog about her here and of course there’s this awesome tumblr post here. She really was an amazing character and way too underrated for her role in the series.

Amy Matthews from Boy Meets World

Amy Matthews had a good bit of snark to her, which made her entertaining, but she was also a really good mom to two kind of crazy boys.

Maggie Seaver from Growing Pains 

She stayed home, she worked, she always looked really pretty. Maggie Seaver was probably she super mom prototype. And while the show did do a good idea of occasionally focusing on the strain keeping that big family and her career and everything else she did caused, she still made it look easy. Considering the only other working mom I remember from television at the time (that doesn’t mean there weren’t any, just none I remember that the whole career thing was notable for) was Angelica’s mostly absent (she might not have been but again, the only impressions I remember of her were Angelica being sad and spoiled and her mom talking on her phone) mother from Rugrats, I think Maggie Seaver definitely filled a needed void.

Who are your favorite fictional moms?

For Real Friday: Snooping

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Posting this a day early because of the cover reveal tomorrow.

Dream walking, telepathy, or some variation of getting into someone’s innermost thoughts appears in fiction all over the place. To me, that particular plot device has always been a really interesting commentary on privacy in general.

With most psychic abilities in fiction, there are three levels of acceptance from characters without the power.

1) Ignorance. They have no way of knowing someone is observing. To me, this is the most frightening way to portray these powers in fiction because they are so often treated as harmless.  *note* There is a difference between wild-power and controlled power in this scenario. A character bombarded by everyone’s thoughts no matter what they do is in a different position than one in control of those powers and just using them for kicks.

2) Acceptance. They are not only aware of the other character’s power, but they use it to their advantage to communicate with the other character. Boundaries are in place and accepted and safeguards are typically introduced to prevent unwanted or unintentional snooping.

3) Fear. The character in power actively uses their abilities to hurt or unnerve them, respects no boundaries, and are otherwise powerless against the character in power.

There’s several real life counterpart for each of these scenarios. Take the Facebook for instance. You can Facebook stalk people online without them ever being aware you exist. Technically they aren’t harmed by your creepy lurking, so life just goes on. You can also unintentionally Facebook stalk people because every now and then Facebook changes their settings and suddenly you’re seeing personal statuses of people you aren’t friends with because a friend of yours is friends with them and made a comment on their status.

There’s acceptance. You can friend someone on Facebook. Send them messages, work Facebook to your mutual advantage and communicate.

Then there’s fear. You can seriously stalk people through Facebook. Research where those pictures were taken, get schedules, and cross the internet boundary into the real world.

Pre-internet there were other means of distance stalking but they took quite a bit more commitment than today. So it’s unsurprising to see so many books and movies and TV shows dealing with these magic based snooping abilities today than say, twenty years ago. Don’t get me wrong, the plot device was still there, but there’s a reason it’s used so much more now.

If you want to know what a society fears, read their fiction.