Saturday, December 22, 2012

Who's yo Daddy?...the older gentleman hero.

The subject of todays post is the 'older hero'. In jest, I mentioned a novella of mine on Twitter that I should sex-up and submit to a publisher (not sure if I ever will though). 
I wrote it a few years ago as an experiment, but the interesting thing about this story is that a) it's a non-paranormal *gasp* regency romance and b) the hero is an older man.

Yes, you heard it here, the hero is in his mid-forties to early-fifties.

What do you think of the older hero? Does it make you think I'm so not going there! Or does it make you curious? Do you wonder about his sexpertise? Could  the old hero be as delectable as a throbbing muscular young man in his prime?

Food for the muse isn't it?

It has made me wonder about the demographic of my own readers, lets face it we're all getting older, should my heroes be getting older too? Hmmm?

Additionally, I have recently finished watching Terra Nova, and I was surprised to find that the character of Commander Nathaniel Taylor was a bit of hot tottie despite his somewhat advanced age.

Below is a gallery of older gentlemen actors/models. What do you think? Romantic Hero material or not? I'm thinking a resounding "Yes"!

["Nathaniel Taylor", Stephen Lang, age 60]

["Barca", Spartacus, Antonio Te Maioha Age 43]

["Crixus", Spartacus, Manu Bennett, Age 43]

[Johnny Depp, Age 49]

 [David duchovney Age 52]
 [Richard Gere, age: 63]


 So...what do you think?
Enjoy your Sunday!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Making Myths Real III - creating the Thriae.

Today I'm showing you how I'd make a mythological creature 'real' in my writing.
 
I've chosen a rather random mythological insect, who hails from Greek Mythology, namely the Thriae.

[image; B. Rosen]

Beastly Facts
Name: Thriae (also known as Thriai)
Origin: Greek Mythology
Creep Factor: 1/10
Religious affiliation: Ancient Greek Pantheon
Deadly rating: Low
Cryptid: No
Shares similarity with: Melissae, Melissai


Brief and Basic History: The Thriae are closely linked to the Melissae (bee demigods/nymphs). Originally the Thriae were three nymphs (Melaina, Kelodora and Daphnis), who were oracles/soothsayers who used pebbles as a means of divination. The myths say that the nymphs were part woman and part bee, and lived somewhere around Mt Parnassos. They would tell fortunes and fed exclusively on honey, often they were described as being sprinkled with white/yellow meal, which was allegedly the pollen from the flowers.

Homeric Hymn 4 to Hermes 550 ff (trans. Evelyn-White)
(Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
[Apollon says to Hermes:] ‘There are certain holy ones, sisters born--three virgins gifted with wings: their heads are besprinkled with white meal, and they dwell under a ridge of Parnassos. These are teachers of divination apart from me, the art which I practised while yet a boy following herds, though my father paid no heed to it. From their home they fly now here, now there, feeding on honey-comb and bringing all things to pass. And when they are inspired through eating yellow honey, they are willing to speak the truth; but if they be deprived of the gods' sweet food, then they speak falsely, as they swarm in and out together. These, then, I give you; enquire of them strictly and delight you heart: and if you should teach any mortal so to do often will he hear your response--if he have good fortune. Take these, Son of Maia . . .’

Without giving too much away, I intend on using a version of the thriae in my next book. To use such an unusual creature, I am going to have to work hard to make it realistic and believable. Below is a step by step guide of how I will do it.

 Biological Realism is important.

Let face it, a human torso in insect body... How is that going to work...ever?!

Well, lets look at biology, and see how we can manipulate it.

a) Choose a type and a stick with it.
I am going to make my thriae almost entirely insectivorous, because mammalian vascular systems could never work in harmony with an insects  - there are simply too many differences. Unless I'm going to use the blanket "it's just magic" comment over it, we're going to have to do some research.

b) Know your basic biology.
Google is great! I also have countless biology books in my home library (yes, I did Biology 101 at University). Look at the diagrams!
If I want my thriae to be more bee-like than human internally, this is going to mean some serious physiological reasoning.
For example; Within the thorax/torso of my thriae, there will be no lungs. Being small and insectivorous they'd breath through spiracles and trachea. Therefore making them speak in a way that is intelligible to the average human is going to be problematic.

So how could I make the Thriae talk?
The biological realities are; that to speak they'd need vocal cords. Vocal cords are not muscles, but pieces of soft tissue with muscles surrounding them. These muscles around chords that cause them to loosen or tighten and it is the air passing through the vocal cords that make sound.
Here lies a big problem; the spiracles through which an insect breaths are located on the exoskeleton (thorax and abdomen, not the head). They allow allow air to enter the trachea. The tracheal tubes deliver oxygen directly to the small creatures tissues (this is one of the reasons that in our atmosphere insects can only grow upto a particular size as the respiratory system isn't complex enough to support a large body).
So assuming the thriae are insectivorous internally, and do not have lungs - they couldn't make vocal cords vibrate and therefore they couldn't speak through their mouths.
Hmmm. I have two options here, I can think of a way to make them speak biologically, or I can use literary license and say they speak through 'magic'. As I'm always up for a challenge, I like to investigate the posibility of speech through spiracles.

c) Do MORE research...
Ask yourself the questions!
Could spiracles move enough air to make sound? I don't know!!.. so I  did some more research. discovered that there is a very special catepillar named the walnut sphinx catepillar that can actually whistle. It does this through contorting its body and pushing air through the spiracle. This only occurs at the eighth spiracle (article; http://jeb.biologists.org/content/214/1/ii.short). Woo hoo!

So, if I want my thriae to talk (which I do), they're going to have make speech-like sounds through their spiracles and some type of muscle and chord system arrangement there, not through their mouths.
Therefore with a few minor manipulations of biology, my thriae will be able to speak a pseudo human language, albeit not through their mouths, but rather though a hole somewhere near their arse.
 
Sorry, that was low brow.
 
There are of course other complications that will need to be addressed. For example the endo- verses exo-skeleton problem with the existance human torso/bee abdomen.
Well, I've already stated that they have bee-internals so I'm going to have to continue the insect-theme and give them an entire exoskeleton. To do this I'll look at some other  insects that have interesting faces.
[stick insect]
Bee
damselfly.
Dragonfly
 Strangely cute aren't they?
 
So now, I can imagine a humanish head, but add insect features to it.
They additionally would have no neck, merely a flexible joint between the the head and thorax. Additionally, the six legs of an insect generally all stem from the thorax (torso in the thriae). So we'd have to add segmented legs, that could be made to move the creature in a realistic fashion and a modified first pair of legs that the thriae would use as 'arms'.
 
d) Sketch it.
You don't have to be an artist, but give it a go, it will help you understand the dimensions of your creature better, and envisage its movements with greater ease. I love to draw and paint so I find this particularly enjoyable, and my pin-board is covered in random sketches :)Below is my sketch of 'my' thriae (complete with my cat's paw - he's everywhere you want to be).

Suffice to say, my thriae doesn't look as cute as the other images, but you get the idea. :)
 
Finally....
 
d) Remember this IS fantasy.
Yes, I like to go over the top with research to make things realistic, but it is also important to realise that the creatures of myth and magic do not have to be completely realistic to be readable. After all, they're not real. A biologist I'm certain would be able rip apart my biological reasonings and explain millions of reasons why things would probably not work. However, it's just that little germ of possibility,  that adds something special to a novel. 
 
It is also important to understand that despite all the research and cool facts you discover, the information must not dumped into the story like a text-book. Indeed, some of it may not be even mentioned at all. It's a shame, but when you come across a reader or fellow mythology/biology nut you'll always have something to talk about.
 
And on that note, enjoy your Wednesday!



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Next Big Thing

 
 
So.... I've been tagged in The Next Big Thing by Shona Husk  who writes paranormal romance about goblins and fairies and anything else she fancies for Sourcebooks, Carina Press, Samhain and Ellora’s Cave.
 
I'm instructed to tell you all about my next book by answering these questions and then to tag other authors about their Next Big Thing.
What is the working title of your next book?
Able as Cain
Where did the idea come from for the book?
It's a convoluted story, but here goes;
 
The original germ of an idea came from watching an episode of the Australian version of "Biggest Loser". The Commando is a muscular military man on the show, who makes people do really hard excercise. I'm not ashamed to admit it, I found him absurdly sexy.
The Commando
It made me think how would a romance play out between The Commando and one of the weight-loss contestants. Who would hold the power? How equitable would the relationship be, would it be a dominant/submission thing, or really, inside that hard, muscular heavily tattooed body, is there a man desperately in love?
*light bulb*
It really made me want to write about military men and unconventional heroines. 
Then I started thinking where I would place my story and Laos in South East Asia popped into mind. My military man could be a powerful Magical Warlord, and my heroine a kidnapped Australian Tourist!
 
What genre does your book fall under?
Paranormal romance
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I really don't know. I think maybe Ben Mansfield (who plays Becker in Primeval) he's pretty hot.
Ben Mansfield.
Hanna Mangan Sand
For the heroine, gosh, maybe Hanna Mangan Sand (she is an Aussie actress who was in Spartacus)
 
 
 
 
 
 
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Fate thrust them together, but reality has torn them apart.
 
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be represented by an agency.
 
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm still writing it, it should be done in a month or so, so maybe six months?
 
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don't know really, I haven't read anything quite like what write, but maybe if you blend Karen Marie Moning with Laurell K Hamilton's early work, then mix with a bit of Kresley Cole, you might get something a bit similar.
 
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
 
It's got to be Stockholm Syndrome... Sabra Westwood thought to herself.
 
Eighteen fateful months ago, she'd been kidnapped by the infamous Magician Warlord Cain Dath, and her memories and body just wouldn't let her forget it.
She'd been his more than any woman should be, hidden in the humid depths of the Laos jungle she'd shared everything with him, but he'd never shared his heart.

Cain has an appetite as a big as his charisma. A hoard of women lay at his disposal, all eager to please and sate him – but only one truly satisfies him.
So why can't he tell her?

In his position of power, Cain cannot show weakness, he must lead his people to freedom and nothing, and no one can stand in his way.
Yet when Sabra escapes she finds herself cornered by the media she seems defeated, but still defiant. Sabra sells her story of love slavery in a tell all expose' and gains millions. Fame however is dangerous and not only allows Cain’s men to hunt her down, but the others who seek to destroy him.

Now, Sabra is open to attack on all fronts, and the one man who enslaved her becomes the only man able to save her...
Here are some lovely authors I've tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing!
 
 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Making myths real II -Going dental

Teeth are so important. Our heroes need good teeth, but what about our creatures?

I'm currently writing about a potential fight between an Aufhocker (see my earlier post) and a Werewolf. To get it right I went researching (I'm a nerd, I'm allowed). Who would win, what bite patterns would happen? Are their teeth tearing teeth or chewing teeth?

General concensus seems to indicate that aufhockers, (like werewolves) have canid (dog-like) teeth.
Canid teeth meet together in a scissors like action - a sure indication of a raw food diet. They have fangs for grabbing and puncturing, incisors for nibbling, premolars for tearing, and molars for crushing bone. Unlike herbivores which only have molars that are used for grinding food and mashing grasses, leaves and other vegetable matter, canine teeth are more for slashing, cutting and tearing.

This gives me a better indication of how and what a fight between a werewolf and aufhocker might play out - it also got me looking once again about making mythological creatures real in your writing.

Macabre as it may seem I went searching for teeth and skulls on the internet. I remember when writing about Devika the naga (from Magical Creations and Redemption) that I went looking at the teeth and fangs of a black-mamba. Devika, being a naga, has flick down fangs that drip venom and a black mouth - just like the black mamba snake. I remember considering how I would make her fangs real. This is one of the images I used as a reference for her. Her fangs could retract in sheaths then flick down when she wanted to envenomate a victim...

This then got me thinking about the skull formation of the aufhocker. I imaging it being something similar to that of a werewolf as an aufhocker often described as a canid shifter. To the left is a mock-up skull of a shifted werewolf (complete with bullet hole in the centre of the forehead!) that I sourced from google images. You can see that the artist has used dog/wolf teeth, placed in a humanoid/canine blended skull.

Below is a diagram of a normal human skull for a comparison. You can see in the werewolf-mockup that the  lower mandible (jaw) is significantly narrower than that of the human. This would indicate  that the mouth could open wider than a human. The average human can apparently open their mouth 3 - 4 cm from tip to tip of the inscissors. A wolf can get up to 12 cm or more. Thats a 3 or 4 times larger bite area than a human jaw could make. Additionally the nasal cavity of the werewolf is much larger, and also has the two maxilliary recesses on either side of the larger cavity indicating a heightened ability to smell. Unlike the a dog however, the werewolf skull has a human formed super-orbital torus (brow ridge), indicating that the face of the werewolf is not completely canine in appearance but the upper portion of the face remains human-like.
Facinating stuff!

I now have a pretty good idea of how hideous a fight between  an aufhocker and werewolf would be. Combine the mutated canid head with claws and a hell of a lot of upper body strength and you've got a battle of epic proportions!

Here's an interesting diagram of how a 'shift' might take place. You'll notice however, in this artist's rendition that the superorbital torus virtually disappears, resulting in much more canid features...




Below is a gallery of interesting mythological and real skulls that might be useful as a reference later on.



Cat Skull - note the huge orbital cavities (eyes!)




Black Spider Monkey Skull - blunt inscissors,

Owl Monkey - check out the teeth and eyes!

"Dragon Skull" - small nasal and eye cavities with tearing teeth.


Viper skull - rear facing teeth to hold onto prey
whilst injecting venom.

 
 
 
Have a lovely Sunday and happy writing / reading!
 
 

 




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tight Pants Syndrome...curse of the romantic Hero.

I'm not going to over-share, but I had an experience with Tight Pants the other day, and rest assured those jeans will not be seeing daylight anytime soon.  However, the uncomfortable day got me thinking about the huge number of (particularly paranormal) romance heroes that wear some very tight pants.
I'm sure most of you are aware of a condition called "Tight Pants Syndrome" aka TPS. This is when a man in particular becomes plagued with 'trouble down under' due to wearing excessively tight pants.

The term was originally coined in a 1993 article by Dr. Octavio Bessa, an internist in Stamford, Conneticut. Bessa described a collection of gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, heartburn and reflux a few hours after meals that he would see in 20 to 25 men every year. The common thread: All wore ill-fitting pants with waistbands several inches smaller than their bellies, Bessa reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Tight Pant Syndrome has developed from there, an ongoing study by researchers TENA men in England surveyed "2,000 British men and concluded that "tight-fitting jeans can cause urinary tract infections, twisted testicles, bladder weakness and long-term health consequences."

Nice.
Those nut-hugging leathers on your hero aren't looking quite so sexy now are they?

According to the report, 50 percent of men suffering from TPS experienced groin discomfort and over 25 percent suffered bladder problems. The report also stated that 1 in 5 men experienced a twisted testicle.  A disturblingly high statistic!

Now, considering that most romantic heroes are rather well endowed, the fact that they strut, run and otherwise do fantastic things in tight leather and denim is beginning to feel a little unrealistic to me.


You will also be unsurprised to discover that TPS similarly afflicts women, without going into the seriously nitty gritty, TPS can cause a whole host of gynaecological problems in women as well. So if your heroine is a fiesty one, clad in tight leather -  just consider how long has she been wearing those pants? I don't think I need to say more.

In conclusion; I am not saying that our heroes and heroines shouldn't ever wear tight pants. They are a very useful device in showing the reader your hero's obvious endowment, or his pert backside. They're also practical for the kick-ass heroine who simply couldn't fight Zombies wearing floral callots.

However, it's worth remembering that realism in writing helps build worlds and engages audiences. Perhaps considering the tightness of your characters pants may, in some small way, improve the readability and believability of your tale.

Have a super Sunday!

references:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Trailers...

I just made two new book trailers for my novels, Magical Redemption and Magical Gains.

As you can see from watching them, I had a bit of fun. I'm not at all sure they're worth the effort, but still whilst I'm being naughty and not studying and being even naughtier and not writing, I decided I should do something to improve publicity for this series.

This is the "Magical Redemption" Trailer



And this is the "Magical Gains" which is a little quirkier perhaps than Redemption's.


Anyway, I'm curious, do trailers affect your choice of book? Do you seek them out to watch?
I confess that I do not choose to view book trailers, except if I am totally in love with a series and gagging for the next release. Due to my own attitude towards watching trailers, I am sceptical of their usefulness for the lesser known author.

Still, they're fun to make!

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Drekavac - a mix of myth and religion...

So many myths stem and grow from religious belief or custom and the Drekavac is a particularly interesting evolution of this.



Preview Image
Name: Drekavac
Origin: Eastern European Myth
Creep Factor: 10/10
Religious affiliation: Christian/Catholic
Deadly rating: Medium
Cryptid: Yes
Shares similarity with: Chupacabra, Banshee

(I have decided to start all my Mythological Beasts posts with a Beastly Facts list, let me know if you think any quick fact should be added.)

The Drekavac hails from slavic mythology, the word literally meaning "the screamer" or "yeller" (Serbo-Croatian).

Described as being a terrible beast with muscular kangaroo-like back legs, and the head and body of a dog - the drekavac is said to arise from the soul of a dead unbaptised child -  a very common theme throughout slavic/eastern European mythology.
The notion that if an individual dies unbaptised, the soul will return and wreak havoc on Earth is one of those enduring fears that thoughout the ages, has has packed many Church pews.

The drekavac allegedly appears most often near a cemetary , sometimes in the form of a creepy looking/ malnourished child, begging to be baptised. It gets its name from the awful screams and cries it emits.
The drekavac can harm people. Some legends claim the scream itself is an omen of death (like the Banshee) and if the beast's shadow falls upon an individual then that person will die.

The creature inhabits tunnels and caves and is reported to eat sheep and cattle. The bodies of mutilated sheep and cattle are often produced as alleged evidence of the drekavac's existance.

Chupacabra
It is interesting that the drekavac has recently moved beyond myth into cryptozoology and as it does, so the link with the soul of the unbaptised child diminishes.There are numerous images over the internet of "drekavac kills" (ie disembowelled sheep, mutilated cows etc). Similarly with it's hunched kangaroo-like legs and fiersome teeth -  the modern descriptions of the drekavac hold a remarkable similarity with the chupacabra (goat sucker of South American myth).

Drekavac
  However, there is one significant difference between the cryptid status of the chupacabra and drekavac. The drekavac has an historical religious origin and was born through mythology, whereas the chupacabra is a modern cryptid currently evolving its own mythology.

 Everything exists for a reason. Looking at the religious meaning behind myths and the beasts within them, gives insight into the reason for the creatures alleged 'existance'. The drekavac is essentially a cautionary tale; "baptize your children, lest their souls turn into this hideous beast when they die." Upon hearing this, what God-fearing slavic peasant would have decided not to baptise their child? In simply understanding this, I understand more about the creature. Combine this with a bit of imagination and you've nearly got a ready-made paranormal tale bursting to be told...
 
Knowing what the creature exists to do in both the mythological sense and the underlying social sense allows a writer develop a creature/character that is not only true to the myth, but also to the culture of origin.
 
 
And on that poignant note, enjoy your day.
 


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Magical Redemption - Sneek Peek!

Preview Image
 
 
Preview Image
 
Preview Image
 

 
Better late than never, I always say, so after a week's delay Magical Redemption will be on sale Wednesday 7th November!
On Wednesday, an excerpt of Magical Redemption will also be available to read over at the Darkside Down Under, so be sure to check it out.
In the mean time, here is an excerpt to whet your appetite.. and guess what? The Satyrs are back!
 
“What do we have here?” a snide voice asked from behind. “You will not find a hospital around here that caters to...his kind.”
There was the clip-clop of cloven hooves behind her. Jinx felt her skin crawl as she turned to face the speaker. Words stuck in her throat. She gazed up the heavy, auburn pelted legs and lingered for just the briefest of moments on the large, exposed genitals hanging between them.
A real, live satyr― just what she needed. She looked upward and jutted her chin. Her defiant gaze was met by curious, auburn eyes and a sharp, angular face. Curling horns erupted from a mane of hair.
“Do you like what you see?” The satyr smiled, showing perfectly-white, blunt teeth.
“No,” Jinx snapped. Using her magic, she rearranged Lucian’s dead weight.
The satyr tilted his head to get sight of Lucian’s face, and his shrewd eyes widened. “What are you doing with Lucian?” he hissed, moving forward with remarkable speed and raising Lucian’s head to examine him. The satyr was suddenly too close. He smelled like fresh hay, and his body thrummed with an unsettling energy.
“You know Lucian?” Jinx whispered. She knew with uncomfortable certainty that this satyr was the reason her magic brought them here.
“Of course I do,” the satyr snapped, his expression now concerned. “What’s wrong with him?” His amber eyes caught and held hers. Although she was fairly confident the satyr was here to help, she didn’t want to divulge everything too soon. She squirmed under his gaze.
“I can’t tell you anything until I know who you are and what you know about Lucian.” Jinx steeled her spine and jutted her jaw, again.
The auburn-haired satyr raised an artful eyebrow. “My, aren’t you a feisty one? I do like my women feisty.” He grinned and sunk into a low bow. “I am Silenus, the stag satyr of the Kuching Free Zone.”
“I’m not your woman,” Jinx said, hating the fact that her gaze was convulsively drawn to Silenus’s naked crotch. “Ugh,” she grumbled to herself.
 Silenus continued unabated. “Lucian is my friend–though, I will confess I have not seen him for many years. Time, clearly, has not been kind to him.” He narrowed his auburn eyes at her speculatively.
“You say that like it’s my fault,” she snapped.
“Is it not?” His eyebrows floated high, again.
“No,” Jinx cried.
Silenus smiled at her outrage. “Allow me to assist you,” he said and stretched out his tanned arms to relieve Jinx of Lucian’s burden.
“No. Don’t touch him.” She jerked Lucian away. His head wobbled grossly as more blood pattered from his face. Dire as the situation was, she couldn’t risk Lucian to an unknown being, supposed friend or not. “I need to test your intent first.”
Silenus’s eyebrows hit his curly hairline. “Test my intent?” A smile tugged on his lips suggestively. “I don’t think my intent needs testing. I make a habit of being perfectly transparent.” He grabbed his crotch and cupped his genitals, proffering them to Jinx.
“Christ,” she gasped and looked away.
 
 
Makes me laugh anyway, I love satyrs!
Enjoy your Monday!
 
 
 
 

 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dark Beasts of Germanic myth...


Well in my never-ending quest for interesting and bizarre mythological creatures to fit into my novels, my research took me to the myths of Germany, and what treasures I have found!

The first beast worthy of mention is the rather rude sounding Aufhocker... Not a name I'd try and pronounce around small children or members of the clergy...
The word Aufhocker literally means to 'lean upon'. It is a creature that  is said to jump on the back or shoulders of lone wanderers at night, its attack instilling such horror in their victims that they collapse in fright. Although some myths state that the individual collapses not from fright but because once the Aufhocker attaches to a victim it grows dramatically in size/weight. 

You can see in the picture of the Aufhocker statue in Hildesheim (Germany) that the artist of the sculpture has depicted the Aufhocker as a human in shape. However  the actual form and nature of this mythological creature is quite unclear. Interestingly, many stories apparently describe the Aufhocker as a shapeshifter, who may appear in the guise of a dog or a sad old lady (personally the sad old lady guise would be the scariest). However, the link with the dog shape-shifter is interesting because in Belgium there is a  hell hound called the Kludde, whose modus operandi is remarkably similar to the Aufhocker, in that it stalks lonely roads at night, and jumps on the back of travellers ripping their throats out.
However, there are other descriptions of the Aufhocker as a type of zombie (corporal undead), or kobold (type of Germanic imp) or as some type of vampire or werewolf.
According to Wikipedia the Aufhocker is "considered to be a very dangerous theriomorph that tears the throats out of humans. The connection to attacking victims in the throat is what links the aufhocker to vampirism."
(A theriomorph is: a creature (usually a deity) capable of taking the form of an animal)

According to myth, the aufhocker can not be killed. However, as the Aufhocker seems to have been blended with vampirism, lycanthropy and hell-hound mythology thoughout the ages, it is said that they can be driven off by prayer, churchbells, dawn or (this is my favourite) profuse swearing.

The next beast is the Nachtkrapp or Night Raven, is a mythological creature inspired to strike fear into children.
Several versions of the Nachtkrapp exist. In most legends, the Nachtkrapp is described a giant, nocturnal raven-like bird.
The most popular (and hideous) of the legends claim that the Nachtkrapp leaves its hiding place at night to hunt. If it is seen by little children, it will abduct them. The giant bird then flies to its nest whereby it grossly devours the child by first ripping off their limbs and then picking out their heart.
There are of course, other legends, in which the Nachtkrap will merely abduct children by placing them in his bag (how he holds this bag I do not yet know) and take them 'away'.
There is also the W├╝tender Nachtkrapp (German, lit. Angry Night Raven).  Despite its name, this appears to be a tamer version of the Nachtkrapp; instead of abducting children, it simply crows loudly and flutters its wings, until the children have been terrorized into silence (I personally don't see this as being very effective....)

Image courtesy: Benrey
Then, there is the Guter Nachtkrapp (German, lit. Good Night Raven) is a benevolent version of the Nachtkrapp. This bird enters the children's room and gently sings them to sleep. Clearly the inventer of this myth had never actually listened to the not-so relaxing song of a raven.

The other fascinating beast I discovered in my research is the Nachzehrer - a German Vampire-like creature. This creature however, does not drink living blood, but consumes the dead.
As you may have noted, the Germanic mythologies have much in common with many of the other Slavic and European myths with small differences.

The Nachtzehrer literally translated as "night waster" (also referenced as nachzehrer.)  Is a myth from the Northern region of Germany. The Nachtzehrer is an undead creature easily recognisable by its rather strange habit of holding the thumb of one hand in the other and walking about with only its left eye open.

This creature was believed to have the ability to kill family members through some type of long-range magic. The Nachtzehrer awakens whilst still in the grave. Whilst still entombed, it would begin to eat its own shroud and then feed on its own flesh. As it does this, a member of its family (in the land of the living) would begin to waste away, and the Nachtzehrer gets stronger.

The myth continues to say that at times the Nachtzehrer will rise from it’s grave and feed on the bodies of other corpses. They also are said to find mates in the corpses of  women who have died in childbirth. Apparently, it is possible to track a Nachtzehrer by the the sucking sound it makes (similar to that of a breastfeeding baby).

To become a Nachtzehrer, the individual does not need to be bitten. It is more a case of unusual death circumstances, or epidemic deaths. Additionally, if a child was born with part of the amniotic sac on their head (particularly if it was red), than they were believed to become a Nachtzehrer on death (a little unfortunate for them!). So, to prevent this, the amniotic sac would be dried and preserved, and later fed to the child and this would reverse the curse.
Other preventive measures according to Darkness Embraced (a Vampire mythology site) were: Placing a chunk of earth under the chin of the deceased, placing a coin or stone in their mouths, tying a handkerchief tightly about the neck, placing nets or stockings inside the grave (vampires in northern Germany were said to be compulsive untiers of knots), or being buried face down to avoid its potentially dangerous gaze. Some extreme preventative measures would be to decapitate the head of the deceased, drive a spike in it’s mouth to fasten the head to the ground, or fixed the tongue so it couldn’t move (WTF?) It is important to remember in the past, belief in the arcane was strong, and as life was hard for many, the desire to go to heaven was strong. So any measure that may prevent the dead from rising was regarded as legitimate and at times necessary to ensure that individual finally got their eternal peace.
 

The very last creature I'm mentioning today is of more a inter-European mythological beast and is is truly bizarre. It is called the Chichevache  also known as the anchevache or thingut is a mythical female monster, believed to have survived by eating good and virtuous women...
Courtesy: Deviant art Chichevache
Legends describe Chichevache as a thin cow-faced creature. It was said to be poorly nourished because virtuous women were rare! (Dear me!) Chichevache however, also had a male counterpart, the bicorn (also spelt bicorne or bycorne), which was supposed to have eaten good, kind, loyal and obedient men. The bicorn was well built and healthy, supposedly due to the abundance of good men to feed upon. (Hmmm...you've got to love the misogynistic tendencies of times past...not.)
Chichevache featured in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Many French poets also have written ballads about Chichevache and Bicorns.




Anyway, I have spent waaaaay too long on this, and have much work to do, I'm inspired, and ready to write. Hope you found this little sojourn into Germanic myth as fascinating as I did. Have a great weekend!




Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tick Tock - please stop the clock!

So, Magical Redemption is to be released in a few weeks, I've got edits due in a matter of days, and also two University assignments due on Monday.

I am underpressure - in a way I haven't been in years. I'm suffering choice paralysis, which do I do? Last night I completed one of the assignments and then checked my email to discover more edits waiting... with a note suggesting haste from my editor. So... which to start? Assignment two or edits? I know myself as a creature of habit, that whichever I start, I will want to finish. I don't like jumping from one to the other. Ugh.

To add an extra layer of complexity to the issue, it is also school holidays and my offspring demand attention and no babysitters are available... Hmmmm. So here I am, pondering my problem on the blog, procrastinating even more.

So on that note, I bid you farewell, to flick a coin and decide which to commence first.

...edits it is!

Oh and if you want something to whet your appetite, here's an interview with Lucian, posted up on Lauries Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews....
 http://lauriethoughts-reviews.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/magical-creations-by-nicola-e-sheridan.html?spref=fb