Read Stuff: Huldredrom – Dream of the Hid-Folk

Huldredrom – Dream of the Hid-Folk by Christopher R. Knutson   Review by Eric Staggs   This unique piece of literature came to my attention through pure chance. Since I have found that the best pieces of literature often do arrive via unforeseen channels, I agreed to read and review it.   I’m glad I did. The style of writing at first seemed simple, unsophisticated, but as I progressed, I found I was drawn into the unfamiliarity of the culture, the complexity of Norwegian proper nouns seemed to help heft the weight of their folklore and a new found Christianity.   The story takes place in a picaresque rural village; imagine fens and glens and heathers, buffered on all sides by brooding mountains whose caps are white year round. These snow caps help to anthropomorphize the mountains, giving them an ancient and wise presence. Within these mountains and valleys lives the Hid-Folk. Fey and spritely, these trolls, changelings and their kin live out long and mischievous lives just under the nose of the villagers. The Hid-folk have a habit of stealing human babies and raising them as their own.  The author opens with a classic I-told-you-so moment and the tragic disappearance of a baby.   The plot is at once simple and convoluted – the rules that govern the interaction of mortals and hid-folk are complex and not always logical, but offer a vivid peek into one of Europe’s oldest mythologies. Hid-folk live a semi-parasitic life, stealing lovers and food and cows and whatever else strikes their fancy from mortal villagers, who in turn have developed a whole array of protections against such incursions.   At times almost comical, these cultural clashes between the Hid-Folk and the Villagers carry with them a deeper sub-text. The old ways are under siege by the new Christ-God whose representatives have banned the worship of the Old Norse Gods. Yet, for our characters, the reality remains: Hid-Folk could be any stranger you meet while tending the sheep and elemental spirits might easily burst forth and offer you knowledge or simply wish for company. The only evidence of the truth of Christianity is the agony the cross and tolling bells causes the Hid-Folk.   Vivid imagery and thorough understanding of the culture push this story forward at a comfortable pace. Descriptions of place and time help bring to the reader’s mind concrete imagery and paint each scene in fluid detail – allowing for just enough personalization to make each reader’s experience unique.   Not quite a love story and not quite a fairy-tale laden with moral and metaphor, Huldredrom: Dream of the Hid-Folk­ by Christopher R. Knutson is an entertaining read for all ages...

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Gifts for Writers Part III

by Eric Staggs Every year it hits like a tidal wave – a rush of panic – what will you buy for the writer on your list? If you’re anything like me, the very idea of Black Friday sends chills through your bones. Here’s a handy guide to help select the perfect gift for writers (a notoriously difficult group to buy for) and most item can be ordered online. The best part is most of these things can be ordered online, allowing you to get some serious shopping done without the battle scars of yet another Black Friday Shopping nightmare! Like any profession, writers need tools to do their job effectively. These tools vary widely and depend greatly on personal preference, but there a few gadgets that every writer shouldn’t be without.   Books Reference books are a must for any writer. My top five desktop reference books are: A Dictionary of Theories, Dictionary of Astronomy, Medical Dictionary, Latin-English Dictionary and a Dictionary of World Mythology. That covers most of the basics for day-to-day writing.   Voice recorder Micro-voice recorders are an excellent gift for any writer. It takes some time to get over the self-consciousness of talking your ideas out to a little machine, but after a while not only do you get used to it, but you feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie, making secret plans in case you’re captured by some galactic nemesis. The only “must haves” on these mini-voice recorders are USB output and a mini-jack for earphones. The slew of other features are just bells and whistles.   eReader This little piece of technology is about the slickest thing next to pop-rocks we’ve come up with. There’s about a thousand flavors of them now. The Nook, the Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad offers apps for all .epub and .mobi files. many publishers are offering their own version of what I refer to as the miracle bookshelf. Do you research, make sure the titles your Giftee wants on available on the platform you chose. As well, some folks like the e-ink display better than the backlit LCD. You can’t go wrong with this gift.   Anthologies Writers must read! This is necessary to stay inspired, to keep up with evolutionary changes to their favorite genre and to see how techniques and methods are working for other authors. However, often the selection of fiction piece can be random and a big commitment, for someone who wrestles with time management anyway. Anthologies on the other hand, are filled with dozens of short stories, already filtered and of top quality, in easily digestible, bite size chapters.   iPad2 Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve got a Kindle and an iPad2...

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Gifts For Writers Part I

by Ditrie Sanchez   Have you ever found yourself struggling to remember which notepad, receipt or napkin you once scribbled a really cool idea on? Maybe, like me, you have a collection of notebooks of various sizes, shapes, bindings and colorings strewn all about the house. Or maybe you’ve noticed the ideas in one of your notebooks are too scattered and unorganized to make any sense of them. As a writer, you find that much of your world is constantly changing. One minute you’re researching World War II era American military clothing, the next you’re trying to pick the perfect color for your next unholy dragon. Organizing all of these fantastic but disparate ideas while not wreaking havoc on the naturally random creative flow is a skill every author needs to hone. Thankfully, now there is a tool to help.  The revolver journal, which is much less violent than it sounds, is basically a Transformer (lasers sold separately). Now, let’s say that you’re busy working on your military drama piece but out of the blue you think, egads! Coral blue is the perfect color for my giant metallic dragon of doom! With the revolver journal, all you have to do is fold it into your fantasy journal and copy it down. You don’t even need to leave the couch! Consider it the Rubik’s cube of journaling. It’s color coded, switchable and makes you look really cool at parties. Or nerdy. Same thing, really.   In the writing world, we are expected to write what we know. This means that if you’re writing about a subject and you don’t know anything about it, it’s time to do some research. Now, research can be done in quiet libraries whilst poring over various tomes of knowledge, or it can be conducted at home through the comfortable, if somewhat detached resources of the world wide web. However, the most effective research comes from hands-on experiences. Live interviews, taking tours of story locations, learning to use the tools of the trade that a character should know. Of course, this puts a certain group of writers at a researching disadvantage right off the bat. Science fiction and fantasy writers are no more able to visit their worlds or shoot their laser blasters than I’m able to sprout beans out of my nose (believe me, I’ve tried). However, I’ve discovered the one thing that can be a game changer for this poor, disadvantaged group of writers. And it comes in the form of a pen. A ray gun pen, to be more specific. (pyew, pyew, pyew!) Now science fiction and fantasy writers alike can revel in the chrome and lacquered goodness that befits any proper hero...

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Halloween Catch Up

Some Scary Links BBC: Where Monsters Come From Halloween History Wikipedia: Halloween Another Version of Halloween History Some Scary Books   On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears I took a class from the author of this book, great professor and a gifted writer. Professor Asma’s insight into the human condition is almost supernatural. As he walks you through the various culturally constructed terrors of modern society, he expertly points out the folly and inconsistencies in each of those superstitions. Malleus Malificarum We’re not going to link to this book since you can get various versions from a dozen sources ranging from free to well past not-free. This is the original Witch Hunter’s Manual, written by a pair of charlatans. Frankenstein Considered a classic of horror literature, one might consider the deeper meanings in this troublesome tale. Is this a Luddite’s warning about science unchecked or a challenge to the existence of God? Literature professors worldwide still waste undergraduate’s time with this heady and unresolvable debate. But if you haven’t read it, you need to. World War Z If you haven’t read this one by now, you need to throw off that rock you’re hiding under and get with the program. This well researched, cleverly constructed historical account of the Zombie Apocalypse is true a modern horror classic. The audio-book version, though abridged, stars the voice talents of Allen Alda, Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins and a whole slew of other professional actors. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Tips for Wary Writers

There’s always a scam. Someone’s always trying to pull something over on someone else. There’s a specialized scam for each industry, for demographic, even writers. On one hand, one thinks, “Wow, this is so elaborate it’s got to be real.” Then you come to your senses.   But if you’re new to an industry, breaking in to writing and publishing for example, you might not know what to look for in a scam. With the Interwebs extending the reach of everyone, making marks and tracks in otherwise unattainable terrain, a writer has to be especially savvy to avoid some of these pitfalls, booby traps and cons.   Here’s a quick list to shuffle through and keep in your back pocket.   Paying to be published This is an absolute scam. If an agent, publisher or any claiming to be affiliated with either asks you for money, it’s a scam. That’s not how it works. You have the talent and the craft. They market it. You both get money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this con. “The Literary Society of Peewackanee has chosen YOUR short story for inclusion in their latest anthology. To be included, send $10.00…” Yeah, that’s a scam.   Paying to be entered into contests This is not a scam. It’s crappy and an unnecessary drain on the oft already strained wallets of struggling artists with true talent, but it’s something that is considered legitimate. Entry fees range from $5.00-$50.00 (though I’ve no doubt they go higher), and usually there’s a discount for poetry or multiple submissions. For the record, Spectacle Publishing never charges for entry into their fiction contests. One more thing – I’ve never known anyone who has won one of those contests. I’m just sayin’…   Write your novel in thirty days Thirty days. That’s about 10 pages a day, which seems entirely feasible, until you figure in work, sleep, laundry, showers, bathroom breaks, picking the kids up from school, making (and eating) dinner and all the rest of the things that occupy our days. Recently (actually what inspired this article) I read a post on this very topic from a woman who claims to be able to write a novel in a weekend. For 280 pages in in 48 hours, you’d have to write 10.285 pages per minute. Not eating, sleeping or thinking about plot go without saying. Your book is done when it’s done. There is no other magic book, workshop or course that will get you writing a novel a month. Not unless you’re stealing ideas, rewriting things that have already been written and don’t have a shred of artistic integrity.   Vanity Press The real advantage...

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