Tag Archives: Fantasy

How Well Do You Know the Dogs of Harry Potter?

In honor of Rowling’s latest release and National Dog Day this Friday, let’s see how many dogs of the Wizarding World you can name….

A pair of adorable pups probably come to mind right away: Fang and Fluffy.

Fang is described as a BoaTitles for HP dog blogpostrhound, but that is actually another name for a Great Dane, so yes indeedy, Fang is an enormous, black, Great Dane. I imagine him like the tallest Great Dane in the world, George, who was 7’3” long from his rubbery nose to the end of his ouch-my-face-is-not-a-windshield tail. Sadly, George passed away in 2013, but he will forever live on in the scratches he left at the top of his family’s refrigerator. It doesn’t seem fair, but large dogs do not live as long as smaller ones. I hate to think how many raw steaks Hagrid will need to hold over his swollen eyes when Fang must leave him.

Titles for HP dog blogpostFluffy is the large, vicious, three-headed dog that guards the Philosopher’s Stone and can only be tamed through music. I love the idea of a three-headed dog. You get three times the adorable, loving stares and only one part of the . . . you know. In The Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid explains that he got Fluffy from “a Greek chappie.” Rowling is showing off her impressive knowledge of ancient myths and legends with this off-hand remark, as Greek mythology is replete with three–headed canines, also known as hellhounds. The most famous of the pack, Cerberus, guarded the entrance to the Underworld.Herakles_Kerberos_Louvre_F204

This 2,500 year old Greek amphora shows  Hercules taming a two-headed Cerberus. I’m not sure what happened to head #3, but I guess you can afford to lose your head when you’ve got a couple of spares.

 

Titles for HP dog blogpost

Remember him? Maybe not, because despite his impressive name, he is a decidedly non-magical creature. Ripper is the favorite of Harry’s Aunt Marge’s twelve bulldogs. He once chased Harry into a tree, which wasn’t very nice, but he also sunk his teeth into Vernon’s leg, so there’s that.

 

Titles for HP dog blogpostWhat? You didn’t think of Crups? That’s okay, they only get one quick mention in The Order of the Phoenix, as creatFlying Jack Russellures studied in Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class. Crups are wizard-bred dogs that look like Jack Russell terriers, except that they have forked tails. This Jack Russell may or may not have a forked tail, but he sure looks magical.   Accio Crup!!

 

Titles for HP dog blogpostThat’s right, Ron’s patronus, his alter-self, is a dog—a loyal if not altogether bright creature, AND a Jack Russell. The choice of a Jack Russell for Ron was a sentimental one, because Rowling once had one for a pet. I would have picked an Irish Setter, but that was probably too obvious. So obvious, in fact, that my patronus is probably a dog . . .

Titles for HP dog blogpostThe Grim is the omen of death in the form of aGrim image giant, shaggy black dog. Harry doesn’t actually see the Grim, but no spoilers.  Several dogs could be the source of Rowling’s Grim, including the Black Shuck of English folklore and the Cu Sith of Scottish mythology, both of which signal imminent death. There’s also the Church Grim of Scandinavian and English folklore, a guardian spirit that guards churchyards after being buried alive there for that purpose. Shudder. This description of the appearance of the Black Shuck at a church in Suffolk, England in 1577 begins with, ” A Straunge and Terrible Wunder wrought very late…” Gotta say though, looks more like a friendly sheep to me.

 

 

Finally, there is mention of two dogs owned by Hermione’s parents after she modified their memories and sent them to live in nice, safe Australia (and I’m going to pretend they were dingos), and Hagrid compares baby Aragog to a Pekingese in size. How sweet. Additional dog mentions occur in the Harry Potter films, video games, companion books, and on Pottermore. Learn about them here: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Dogs

 

It’s no surprise that dogs sniff their way into Rowling’s books. If humans cannot live Dinky tailwithout the furry, tail wagging wonderfulness that is dogs, why would wizards want to do so? Only problem is, Dinky, the Great Dane at the center of my literary world, can’t stop drooling over the fact that Fang is a fellow Dane. Talk about a Fang Fandog! Down, Dinky, down!  I will get you a Fang poster for your doghouse, but in the meantime, my face is not a windshield!

Ouch!

A Cauldron of Herbs

Scary halloween laboratory
A Cauldron Of Herbs by Christina Mercer

In honor of this Harvest/Autumn/Halloween time of year, I decided to stir up some magic for you. Plant magic, that is! Nature is quite amazing, and humankind has utilized its wondrous magic since our beginnings.  I became a Certified Herbalist many years ago, and when writing my first Tween/Teen books, I enjoyed weaving herb lore throughout them. In addition to herb lore, I had fun with Celtic tree lore to show the marvelous magic of trees. I used the (totally fun!) folk names for herbs and trees, and had my main character use plant remedies for wounds and ailments that she and her loved-ones endured.

A little trivia about remedies found in nature . . .

The Doctrine of Signatures dates back to ancient times, and was studied in depth in Western Europe. The idea was that certain plants resembled the body parts they healed. Also, the names given to certain plants correlated to their healing properties. Some examples:

Walnuts—resembles a brain and helps memory

Ginger Root—resembles a stomach and helps nausea

Kidney Bean—resembles a kidney and helps kidney function

Eyebright—helps with “pink eye” and other eye irritation

Bloodroot—has red sap and helps purify the blood

In addition, herbalists found that certain “cures” grew near “causes.” An example is Jewelweed, an herb used to heal skin conditions, which is often found growing near Stinging Nettles and Poison Ivy.

Folk names were the early names given to herbs, and often eluded to their healing function. Some names, however, are perplexing or quite silly sounding. In fact, some of these silly-sounding herbs were used in healing remedies and not at all the literal meanings that their names may have suggested. Here are a handful of some fun “Halloween-ish” herb names:

Lion’s Tooth—Dandelion

Graveyard Dust—Mullein

Bloody Fingers—Foxglove

Little Dragon—Tarragon

Bat’s Wings—Holly

So, this year, while enjoying the festivities, if you happen to hear, “In the cauldron, Toe of Frog; watch it bubble with Tongue of Dog,” you might just find a neighborhood herbalist brewing up an herbal remedy.

ARROW OF THE MIST (currently 99 cents!) & ARMS OF ANU

both books-BeFunky

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Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. She enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband, sons, pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing, visit www.christinamercer.com

 

The Accelerating Advancement of Technology or, What the Heck Are Snips?

Originally, I intended to write this post about gender roles and identity, considering that’s been in the news a lot lately. The nursery rhyme, “What Are Little Boys Made Of?” had popped into my head as a cute lead in…

“What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.”

But, that got me to wondering. What the heck is a “snip”?

I mean, I know that a snip is a small bit of something — a cutting — but how did that relate to the context of the poem? The rhyme is old. Maybe snips meant something else back then.

“Look it up!” I hear the voice of my mother, and countless teachers through my years of schooling, say in my head.

In those days, that meant dragging the enormous, hernia-enducing dictionary off the shelf and rifling through its thin pages by using those half-moon notches that separated each section by letter. Remember those?

Snip

And that would likely have been the end of it. I would have been enlightened by a couple of snips of information (see what I did there?), but been no closer to the answer I’d been seeking, although number three seems like it might fit, except that it refers to girls, oddly enough.

(I took this image on my phone, which I then emailed to myself. How many years ago would that sentence have made no sense whatsoever?)

Today, however, when confronted with the question, I simply type in the words “snips and snails” and receive this: SnipsandSnails

Wow. Almost 400,000 instances of that phrase dredged up in less than a second! After a few clicks, I quickly learn that the original rhyme probably read, “snips of snails,” and that other words like “frogs” and “snakes” have been substituted for “snips” down through the years. Another possibility is the word may have been “snigs”, which was a word in the Cumbrian dialect for a small eel, according to Wikipedia. What’s a “Cumbrian dialect” you ask? Well, all you have to do is click the helpful link to find out…

As a writer of fiction, I often ponder the future and the past. Where have we been and where we are going. Through computers and the Internet, we have nearly the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips. Things we take for granted today, like Google, didn’t exist only twenty years ago! It’s become so prevalent in our society that the company name has become a verb, synonymous with my mother’s, “Look it up,” from my childhood.

Gutenberg developed the first printing press in the mid 1400s. The first electrical computers were invented in the mid 1940s. Pocket calculators appeared in the 1970s. Desktop computers became commonplace in the 1980s and the Internet (the World Wide Web) blossomed in the 1990s. It took around 500 years to make the leap from the printing press to computing, but only about a tenth of that time to get from those first computers to where we are today.

The term “Technological Singularity” is used to describe a computer with the equivalent brain power of a human being, also known as artificial intelligence. Some scientists believe laptop-sized computers, available to the general public, will have the computational capacity and storage of the human brain within five to ten years. This doesn’t mean those computers will be sentient — that technological leap is still nebulous in time frame and affect on the world — but you will have the equivalent of another brain’s worth of computing power on your desk or in your lap.

Our children are growing up in an Internet-driven world, just like me and my peers grew up in a television and telephone-driven world. My parents grew up in a radio-driven world.

What kind of world will our children’s children grow up in?

Science fiction writers attempt to be visionaries of the future. When we watch the original Star Trek series from the 60s, we see Kirk with a flip-phone for a communicator. In the 90s version, The Next Generation, we see the crew members walk around with multiple tablets and iPads. (Why did they need so many?) The shows portray a time hundreds of years in the future, yet some of these technologies appear today — even have been surpassed today. It’s becoming more and more difficult to create stories that stand the test of time because our technology is advancing so rapidly.

Arthur C. Clarke’s third law states: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Humans have never been closer to performing acts of magic in our history. To Gutenberg, our current state of technology would likely be considered nothing short of magical. Who’s to say we won’t be able to conjure up a meal, or travel somewhere across the globe, or across the galaxy, at the snap of our fingers someday?

I had a recent reviewer of my science fiction series say, “typical hokey science, but enjoyable story,” and I had to laugh. Some aspect or another of conventional science is disproved almost daily. Any of you remember when people thought taste buds for salty, sour, bitter, and sweet resided in certain areas of your tongue? Yeah. I was taught that in school. We even did an experiment regarding that when I was in sixth grade and I remember thinking it was bogus then. Yet, that was the accepted “science” of the day. What scientific facts are we teaching now that will seem just as silly in thirty or forty years?

Technology is making the lines between science fiction and fantasy blur. Characters like Gandalf might become reality in our future. (Though he’ll probably only look like that while he’s cosplaying at a comic book convention). So, don’t be afraid to insert fantastical elements in your futuristic stories. They aren’t called “flights of fancy” for nothing!

Maybe someday we’ll actually build boys from snips of snails and puppy dog tails.

Girls from sugar and spice and everything nice? Nah, that’ll never happen.

Two Hot New Releases!

Fire on the Mountain

What really happened on the mountain twelve years ago? 

Final Fire from the Mountain cover

Though his apprenticeship hangs on him like an ill-fitting garment, Quon is unprepared for the twist his life takes when his parents are killed and he is forced to flee Miruna. Adrift in the wilderness with no purpose and no protection, he is approached by an old man who hints that his destiny may be more than he imagined. Ancient tales fill Quon’s head with expectations of glory, but he soon learns that being a hero is far different than dreaming of becoming one.

Follow Song as he uncovers his family history in this second installment of the Mountain series, Fire on the Mountain…

Song newKindle | Nook | Paperback (coming soon)

Have you read book one? Nominated for a 2013 Cybils Award and capturing semi-finalist honors in the Kindle Daily Book Review 2013 Book Awards, Song of the Mountain is now FREE. Kindle | Nook | Kobo

The Stone of Valhalla

Cover SMALLAaron was chosen to save their world, but it might come at the cost of losing his own.

Breaking into an old lady’s basement was supposed to reward 13-year-old Aaron with new friends. Instead he finds an enchanted amulet that transports him to another world—one at war with magic. Before he knows it, he is accused of witchcraft and invited to a bonfire—where he’s the main attraction. If that’s not bad enough, a goblin army shows up and toasts the town…literally. The good news: Aaron escapes being charbroiled. The bad news: the goblins are after him. They want his amulet and will stop at nothing to get it. Battling to find his way home, Aaron teams up with a not-so-magical-wizard and learns it’s his fate to destroy the amulet and save this new world. But is he willing to sacrifice his own?

Exclusive price for the eBook release is just $2.99! (List Price: $4.99)

And only $9.99 for the paperback! (List Price: $12.99)

On April 12th 2014 the price will return to the List Price

 Kindle | Paperback

giveawaysYou’re Invited to PARTY!!

The online launch party will take place on Thursday, April 10th at 2pm (EST). The party will run for 2 hours and you’re invited to drop by anytime. The longer you stay the more chances you have of winning prizes! We have slew of eBooks to giveaway, as well as a Stone of Valhalla necklace AND a $25 Amazon gift card! It is hosted by LovingtheBookLaunchParty on Facebook. Just follow this link to join the event: http://goo.gl/Q2Fd3r.

New Releases from Two Emblazon Authors

Today marks the release of three new books. One from Mikey Brooks and Two from D. Robert Pease.

First up, Mikey Brooks with the second installment of his Amazon bestselling middle-grade series, The Dream Keeper Chronicles: THE DREAMSTONE.

The Dream Keeper:keychain front1

Dreams: Dorothy called it Oz, Alice called it Wonderland, but Nightmares call it HOME. When an evil shifter takes over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, it falls to 14-year-olds Parker and Kaelyn to stop him. Their only hope lies with Gladamyr, the Dream Keeper, but can they trust a Nightmare to save their world?

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Amazon Hardback | Barnes & Noble

The Dreamstone:keychain front2

When Parker’s mom is dreamnapped by the wicked Mab, it is up to him and Kaelyn to save her. However when they return to Dreams, they discover Mab isn’t their only problem. Gladamyr has lost his powers and the only way to get them back is to become what he fears the most—a nightmare.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Amazon Hardback | Barnes & Noblegiveaways

GIVEAWAYS: Mikey is having a two week long blog tour and giving away over 35 books all by middle-grade and teen authors. 10 lucky winners will receive swag bags including a dream key necklace. Check out the full list of stops and a link to the giveaway by visiting his website at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/ Also, both eBooks will be on sale for the duration of the blog tour for just $.99 each!

In Praise of THE DREAMSTONE:

“The Dreamstone, by Mikey Brooks, is a wild stallion of a story: fast, thrilling, and unpredictable. I was hooked in chapter one. If he can snare the attention of an old reader like me, he’ll have kids sneaking this one into class underneath their text books…If this one isn’t a kid-pleaser, I don’t know what is.” –Michelle Isenhoff, author of the Divided Decade Trilogy and the Taylor Davis Series.keychain back

This is far out good and entertaining. It will become a pre-teen to young adult and the young of heart’s favorite. The tale is clean, wholesome and riveting. It is must have in every home and school library” –Anna del C. Dye, author of The Silent Warrior Trilogy.

“If you like the Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, or the Harry Potter series, you’ll love this!” –An Amazon Reviewer.

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him Mikey Pic 3dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several picture books including the bestselling BEAN’S DRAGONS, the ABC ADVENTURES series. He spends most of his time playing with his three daughters and working as a freelance illustrator and cover designer. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.

 


New from D. Robert Pease in the Noah Zarc Trilogy

Today the Noah Zarc middle grade, science fiction adventure is complete with the release of the third book: Noah Zarc: Declaration. At the same time the Noah Zarc Special Omnibus Edition is released which includes all three books in one volume, as well as twenty-two pencil illustrations by the author.

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble

Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction. Life couldn’t be better. However, the twelve-year-old time traveler soon learns it could be a whole lot worse, when he is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying a newly habitable, post-apocalyptic Earth.

Amazon Kindle ON SALE TODAY for $.99! | Amazon Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Signed Paperbacks from Publisher

Noah Zarc: Cataclysm

While searching for answers to secrets that have remained hidden for over a thousand years, Noah becomes embroiled in a mission which could cause the greatest cataclysm in the history of the solar system; the total destruction of life on Earth.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Signed Paperbacks from Publisher

Noah Zarc: Declaration

As battles rage across the reaches of space, Noah works to join together a rag-tag bunch of miners, farmers, and scientists who would rather just live in peace. With only a time-traveling ship full of animals and a general from the history books the Zarc family must stand against the most powerful man in the universe.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Signed Paperbacks from Publisher


Noah Zarc: Trilogy – Special Omnibus Edition

All three Noah Zarc books in one volume. Including twenty-two pencil illustrations by the author.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Hardcover | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Signed Hardcover from Publisher




D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn’t been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer’s Sirens. It’s not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters he brings to life.

Find out more about D. Robert online:

www.drobertpease.com | Facebook | Twitter