Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Bottle of Djinn

Genies or djinns are great fun. Robin William’s genie in Aladdin was a hoot. But when is Robin Williams not a hoot? Okay, don’t tell me about One-Hour Photo, Insomnia, or Death to Smoochy. Nobody bats a thousand.

Ahem. That’s not the subject here. It’s genies.

Let’s not talk about I Dream of Jeannie. That is clearly a complete and utter corruption of the wonderful race of magical beings brought to us from Moslem tradition. So, here’s the skeenie on genies.

From Wikipedia:

In Arabic, a genie (also jinn, Djinn, jinni) is a supernatural creature which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind, and together with humans and angels makes up the three sentient creations of God (Allah). Possessing free will, a djinn can be either good or evil.

The Djinn are mentioned frequently in the Qur'an, and there is a Surah entitled Al-Jinn. While Christian tradition suggests that Lucifer was an angel that rebelled against God's orders, Islam maintains that Iblis was a Djinn who had been granted special privilege to live amongst angels prior to his rebellion. Although some scholars have ruled that it is apostasy to disbelieve in one of God's creations, the belief in Jinn has fallen comparably to the belief in angels in other Abrahamic traditions.

Golly, that’s not near as much fun as Robin Williams. Still, a supernatural being that can wreak havoc on humans is right up our alley, right?

My Mashup

In “The Seven Adventures of Cadida,” Bascoda serves Cadida. Well, ‘serves’ is a bit of a stretch. He suggests, advises, and pretty much makes her figure out how to get things done. Every once in a great while, he will whomp up a little magic if Cadida is about to fall off a cliff or something else dangerous.

Bascoda appears in every adventure except one: Cadida and the Great Vizier (Cliffhanger). In that story, an evil genie has tricked Bascoda into the bottle that Aladdin put him in years before. He introduces himself to Cadida as Volfass, Apprentice Djinn Second Class, and claims to be taking over for Bascoda while he’s missing. Cadida is naturally concerned for Bascoda. The evil genie (disguised as a boy djinn) wants to lure her into helping him kill the Great Vizier ---- screeeech! Calling a halt here. The plot is too complicated to explain in full.

The short of it is that Cadida and her gang have to rescue Bascoda from the bottle. To do that, they have to put the bad genie into another bottle. Cadida, Poltrice the water demon, Gravella the cave demon, Sheik the dog, and Sulawesi the eagle are all needed to put that dang bad genie back in his bottle and get Bascoda out.

To learn what else happens to the gang, you’ll just have to buy a copy of the book.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Magic R Us

Wizards, Sorcerers, Magicians, Warlocks: These are the males of the species Homo Spellcasterus. Please comment on how you use these terms in your own writing. If you’re not a fiction writer, feel free to give your opinions as well.

A magician, wizard, sorcerer or a person known under one of many other possible terms in fiction is someone who uses or practices magic that derives from supernatural or occult sources. Warlocks, who are normally the male counterpart of witches, tend to be portrayed as evil, perhaps because ‘war’ is part of their title, and who doesn’t hate ‘locks’?

Wizard: In medieval chivalric romance, the wizard often appears as a wise old man and acts as a mentor. Long, white beards and robes seem to be required for most wizards.

Wizard of Oz
Dumbledore and Harry Potter
Discworld has a plethora of wizards, many inept
Gandalf in Tolkien’s Middle Earth
DC Comics and Marvel Comics both have wizards
Dungeons and Dragons and similar role-playing games
and Mr. Wizard, the science guy before Bill Nye the Science Guy

Sorcerer: Often an alternate term for Wizard. Many of the above mentioned wizards are sometimes referred to as sorcerers (except Mr. Wizard), but there doesn’t seem to be much consistency in doing so.

Magician: This seems to be the catchall phrase for spellcasters, but also includes stage performers with sleight-of-hand tricks, showgirl sawing, and disappearing and reappearing showgirls and white tigers.

Warlock: In Medieval tradition, warlocks are male counterparts to witches. However, modern Wiccans consider the term pejorative.

In some role-playing games, warlocks are demon summoners. After obtaining said demon, they can control them, make them pets, change their litterbox, etc. This usage may stem from the derivation from the Old Norse varĂ°-lokkur meaning caller of spirits. However, the Oxford English Dictionary (the definitive source for all things magic) does not concur. The Oxford suggests the term warlock comes from warloke meaning to secure (a horse) as with a fetterlock. How this translates into a spellcaster, I have no idea.*

My Mashing Isn’t Very Up

I tend to use the standard definitions, although the Witches of Galdorheim series refers to male witches as warlocks. I see nothing pejorative about it. My apologies to any offended Wiccans.

* An excellent article "What is a Warlock?" gives an interesting take on warlocks

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Werewolves: Yes, They ARE Hunky Guys

PhotobucketThe most well-known werecritter is the werewolf. At this time in the cycle of what’s hot, what’s not, werewolves are getting great press via the Twilight books and movies by Stephenie Meyer.

I have to admit it. Werewolves can be totally sexy guys (gals) in human form. Meyer finally got one legendary being right. Well, she agrees with my concept, which I used before I read any of the Meyer saga. To tell the truth, I still haven’t read any of the books, because the first movie put such a bad taste in my mouth. OMG, Edward loves Bella because she SMELLS good?!?!? Gimme a break.

Anyway, I have a six-pack of werewolves in the first book of the Witches of Galdorheim series. Here’s a taste (ha ha, get it?) of my werewolf mashup.

From: Bad Spelling

Rune joined them. “Are we going to stand around here all day? Where’s that alternative transportation you told us about?”

Andy tore his gaze from Katya and scanned the slope. “There it is.”

Katya looked where Andy pointed and gasped. “What . . .?”

“Don’t worry. They won’t hurt us,” Andy said with a confidence Katya didn’t quite trust.

“But werewolves?” There was no mistaking them for regular wolves. Besides being twice the size of the largest of the wolves, the eyes gave them away. Even from a distance, Katya could see them gleaming with intelligence.

“Look behind them,” Andy said.

The big wolves loped along easily, and now Katya saw they were harnessed to a sled, bouncing along behind them. The speed with which they approached told her they would have no problem pulling a heavy load.

The wolves came up the slope and stopped in front of them. The lead werewolf looked at each of them with some interest. Katya felt like an item on a menu, like when they faced the polar bear.

The lead wolf said, “Good morning. Hmm. Humans, not trolls. Interesting.” The wolf looked over his shoulder at the others. “Remember, King Olaf hired us to deliver these people to where they want to go. You are not to eat them.” The other wolves nodded, but their long tongues hanging over gleaming, razor-sharp teeth was not a reassuring sight; their mouths dripped saliva in a most disconcerting manner.

The lead werewolf turned his pale yellow eyes back to Andy. “So, where are we going?”

Andy briefly explained what they wanted. The werewolf nodded and said, “If I understand correctly, we are looking for the Sami tribe. Do you realize they’re nomadic?”

“Sort of. All I know for certain is that they spend much of their time on the northern coast.” Andy glanced at Katya. “Anything else?” She shook her head.

The wolf stared at Andy for a moment, then said, “Well, come closer so I can smell you. The girl, too.”

Katya hung back. “Why do you want to–? Oh, I understand. You can find the Samis through our scent.”

“Very good, young lady,” the werewolf answered and sniffed at her outstretched hand. He licked it once, and Katya jerked her hand back. “Taste helps, too,” the werewolf answered, with a hint of humor in his gruff voice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Two Gypsies Get Together

My good buddy, Lorrie Struiff, posted one of my stories on her website. The connection? Her book, "Gypsy Crystal" (Eternal Press) was just released on Kindle.

My story, "A Visit to Potter's Field," features an unusual gypsy fortune teller. This story appeared back in 2007 on Lorelei Signal and was included in the "A Time To...Volume 2," the second Lorelei Best of anthology.

I love the Lee Kuruganti illo (on this post) that accompanied the ezine release. Too bad it's off in the archival world and no longer available on-line. But that's okay. It just means I can loan out Gypsy Griselda to my friends.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Crackin' the Kraken

The Kraken is a fearsome beast. Yikes! Just look at that shot from Clash of the Titans (the remake). From Encyclopedia Mythica we learn that the Kraken isn’t a Greek myth at all. The good old Vikings claim the Kraken as their own.

In Norwegian sea folklore, the Kraken is an enormous sea monster which would sometimes attack ships and feed upon the sailors. It was supposed to be capable of dragging down the largest ships and when submerging could suck down a vessel by the whirlpool it created. It is part octopus and part crab, although others refer to it as a giant squid or cuttlefish.

To find something like the Kraken in Grecian myth, you have to look at Ceto the Sea Serpent. In the legend of Perseus, Andromeda is chained to a rock to be fed to a sea monster. Not the Kraken. A sea monster.

Okay, kids. Have we got it straight now? However, what do we care where any legend begins or ends. We mash up myth, legend, and folklore to our heart’s content.

My Mashup

I’ve got two here. I already talked about Ceto the Sea Serpent who helped Katya the hemi-witch in book 2 of my series, The Witches of Galdorheim (not yet published). Ceto is more likely the culprit intent on eating Andromeda. But in my book, she’s one of the good guys.

I use the Kraken by name in The Seven Adventures of Cadida. The story (Cadida and the Sea Beast - In Over Her Head) is the last in that book and has Cadida hooking up with a merboy, Dolph, who turns out to be the son of Poseidon. He was cast onto dry land by his evil uncle (who wants the throne, duh). Cadida, with the help of her genie and demon buddy, Poltrice, take the lost merboy back out to sea.

The little dhou they’re sailing is smashed to bits by a big, bad sea monster. Poor Dolph goes down with the ship and the others believe he’s lost. But, lo! He comes up out of the waves riding the Kraken like a bronco. Once the beast recognized him as Prince Dolph, he was as tame as a merboy’s pet could be.

So, watch your sea monsters! If you knowingly and with malice aforethought decide to mash your myths, then peace be with you. But if you know not from whence your myth has come, you’ll have some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


That archaic term means something is unbelievable, nonsense, hogwash, bull puckey.

What does that have to do with myth and legend? Flying horses, of courses. The remake of Clash of the Titans is coming soon to a theatre near you. In the trailer, Pegasus is a gorgeous black horse with ebony wings. Feathered wings. This has been the tried and true formula since Grecian myth. From the Encyclopedia Mythica:


In Greek mythology, Pegasus is the winged horse that was fathered by Poseidon* with Medusa. When her head was cut off by the Greek hero Perseus, the horse sprang forth from her pregnant body.
* Percy Jackson’s father does get around. A lot.

I’ve never been convinced that a winged horse would also have feathers. In Seven Adventures of Cadida, I introduce not one, but two! flying horses.

My Mashup

Cadida and the Sultan’s Horse - Horsing Around

Cadida finds a talking, flying, fire-breathing horse named Baakir hiding in her father’s stable. He’s trying to look casual, but Cadida notices that he’s whistling and hiding his head in the corner of the stall. Highly suspicious behavior. When Cadida approaches, an eagle flies through the stable at head height scaring the horses, including Baakir. He levitates a foot into the air and spits fire out of his mouth, setting the hay on fire.

Cadida rushes to the rescue and beats out the flames. She and Baakir have a little chat while he explains that he’s a cross-blood horse, mostly horse, but just a wee touch of dragon blood. This means he can fly (without wings) and breathe fire. However, he’s not very good at either talent. Cadida helps Baakir gain control over his magic.

Cadida and the Dragon Demon - Blood is Thicker

After Baakir has headed back to the Sultan’s Palace (where he lives), Cadida and her genie run across Azhi Dahaka, the dragon-demon which provided (unwillingly) the blood to make Baakir a flying fire-breather.

Trapped high atop a mountain, they watch while the dragon heads for the palace. From what he’d said before escaping from the caves (just stick with me here; I don’t want to give away every plot element), Cadida and Bascoda believe the dragon wants to harm their friend, Baakir.

They’ve got to get off that mountain fast. Bascoda gives wings to Cadida’s mare, Rosetta. But we all know that horses don’t have feathers, so Rosetta’s beautiful wings are covered with the same lovely hair as the rest of her body. The little mare takes to her new appliances immediately, carrying Cadida to the Sultan’s Palace to save Baakir.

There we have it. Two flying horses, but not a one with feathers.

NOTE: The illustrations are from "The Seven Adventures of Cadida" and are the copyright of Teri Santitoro, who illustrates as 7ARS.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Sasquatch, Big Foot, Fouke Monster, Yeti, Skunk Ape, Abominable Snowman, Fear Liath, Chiye-tanka, Quatchi (the name of the Sasquatch mascot for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics), etc, etc.

There’s hardly a more ubiquitous critter that’s never been scientifically proved to exist than the Sasquatch. I prefer that term or Big Foot since I live in the US Northwest, and he’s our monster.

I’ve toyed with the big guy in a couple of stories. Funny thing, I just keep seeing him as a bartender. The picture is by Holly Eddy and adorned my story in Lorelei Signal titled "Chilpequin 22 Miles." The story also appeared in "A Time To... Volume 1," the best of Lorelei Signal for 2006.

But the first time I gave Sas a job was way back in the 80s. This tale first appeared in Bewildering Stories in 2007. An audio version is attached. I’ve changed a few words, but it’s mostly the same.

I lurched across Pioneer Square, hurt by the turned-away eyes. I wish they`d look at me. Go ahead and stare! After the car wreck and the flash fire, the doctors did their best to put me together, but even a pro can`t fix a thing if some of the parts are missing.

I dragged my body into a bar and pulled myself up on a barstool, making sure that the cash register blocked my view of the mirror. As usual, I sat with head bent, hat pulled down over my eyes.

"What’ll ya have, buddy?" the bartender’s rough voice rumbled.

I looked up, expecting the usual gasp of surprise or disgust, the eyes shifting left or right. I got neither. The bartender looked straight in my face, continuing to wipe the glass he held.
I was the one who gasped. He was over seven feet tall with one of the ugliest faces I’d ever seen, including my own. He was poorly shaved, the stubble continuing down his neck to disappear under his shirt.

"I said, what’ll ya have, buddy?" he repeated.

"Uh, scotch," I whispered. This was not a man, I thought. His nose was a snout; his canines long and pointed; his arms would have hung to his knees. He looked like those pictures, except for the shave and clothes, of course. My own appearance made me bold; people tolerate questions from those they pity.

"You look like one of those Bigfoot monsters," I ventured, made bold by my own visage. His chuckle was a guttural cough.

"So?" he said nonchalantly.

"So, how can you be here? Why haven’t the cops or the zoo come to get you?"

"You oughta know the answer to that, buddy," he grinned.

"What do you mean?"

"C’mon, you’re almost as ugly as me. It works great–right, buddy?"

I could see how it worked for him. When you’re as ugly as that, no one looks at you. He`d have no problem hiding out in the city.

"But, why?" I wanted to know.

"We–yes, there’s lots of us–did okay in the woods until all those science guys and hunters started comin’ after us. We want to be left alone, so we went where no one would think to look for us."

Dollar signs danced before my eyes. "What if I turned you in?"

"Now, you wouldn’t do that, buddy." His confident gaze met mine.

I decided quickly, and answered – "Right . . . fair’s fair."

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Gypsy Crystal by Lorrie Unites-Struiff

I know this is a damned good ebook since I worked my butt off critting for Lorrie. I'm so proud of her, I could just spit.

Check out Gypsy Crystal at Eternal Press.

Isn't that a cool cover?

Ahem, settling down and writing a review now.

Rita is a cop. However, she's also of Romany blood and has a crystal that helps her find the bad guys. Using it, she can see the face of the last person the corpse saw before death. This works pretty well until, the last face isn't right. Rita thinks that her crystal's not working right, so she consults mom.

Problem is, the crystal is working fine, but the killer is...not so easy to find.

From that beginning, Gypsy Crystal takes you on a wild ride from the modern world into a dark family secret. A major hunk, Matt, shows up to work the case. Rita is attracted, but tries to keep her distance. However, Matt knows things about the serial killer stalking the streets that Rita does not know. Together, they must find a horrible beast from the past who's killing prostitutes, but only because the taking is easy and the beast needs blood.

Ms. Unites-Struiff carries the story into the realm of the supernatural, along with some hot scenes between Rita and Matt, to take the reader along on a wild, supernatural ride. Great read.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Ceto nee Nessie

Ceto the Sea Serpent

In my as yet to be published series about a teen witch who can't spell worth a damn, our erstwhile heroine gets a little help from an unusual source. Did you ever wonder why there are so few sightings of the Loch Ness monster? Well, Nessie vacations on Ultima Thule, which may be the remnants of Atlantis.

She's not fond of the name Nessie or Loch Ness Monster and prefers to go by Ceto. From :

In Greek mythology, Ceto or Keto (Greek: English translation: "sea monster") was a hideous aquatic monster, a daughter of Gaia and Pontus. The asteroid (65489) Ceto was named after her, and its satellite (65489) Ceto I Phorcys after her husband. She was the personification of the dangers of the sea, unknown terrors and bizarre creatures. Eventually, the word "ceto" became simple shorthand for any sea monster. The term cetacean represents a case in point. Her husband was Phorcys and they had many children, collectively known as the Phorcydes or Phorcydides. In Greek art, Ceto was drawn as a serpentine fish. Ceto also gave name to the constellation Cetus.

My Mashup

Ceto and Nessie become one. She's not a bad, um, person, but much misunderstood. She finds my heroine adrift in the northern seas sitting on a block of ice. Oh, yeah, the block contains the body of her father. Ceto finds this all fascinating and helps my heroine dock the ice block at Ultima Thule and find a messenger to send for help from the Witches' Island of Galdorheim in the Barents Sea.