Retelling Lore and Updating Mythologies

This morning I found a dead bat in my house. It was a teeny tiny little thing – a little brown myotis. At first I thought it was a leaf. I was sad to see this tiny nocturnal creature  on the floor of one of the bedrooms, with it’s wings close to it’s body, all alone.

Mind you, it wasn’t a Vampire. It was just a bat. A precious and tiny little beneficial flying mammal that eats bugs. It made me sad to see it dead and alone.

This made me think of common lore, that is of Vampires and bats. Most of us prefer the night but we aren’t shape shifters. Mind you, we can make you think we are but that is your own fault.

Lore is spread through stories once told around the fire at night, and now told in movies, books, and television. Stories and mythologies evolve as our world and culture evolves. What is popular becomes belief. What is unpopular becomes forgotten.

I took the dog for a walk and started to think of the reworking of lore and mythologies, especially in weird times like now. Even the stories of atomic creatures such as Godzilla and giant insects come out of the advent of atomic bombs. Mothman first appeared in West Virginia folklore, in the Point Pleasant area from November 12, 1966, to December 15, 1967. In fact some people claim to still see him from time to time. So much of Space Alien lore and a boom in Science Fiction, also takes place in the 1950’s – 60’s, at the time of the space race,  though it goes back to as long as people have been looking up at the stars.

A writing friend of mine asked about rewriting mythologies. I say DO IT. I love it when authors take old stories and rewrite them.

One of my favorite things to do it to take a modern look at old characters. In my story Sam Judge I rewrote the story of Samson and Delilah in a post apocalyptic setting. Holy shit, I wrote it a few months before our current Covid-19 pandemic started. It was for the new WPaD Anthology Goin’ Extinct Too! Apocalypse A-Go-Go. 

Sam Judge was a retelling of the biblical story from the point of view of Lilah. Once you get rid of all of the sexist bull shit it just becomes a story of a guy with a lot of power and a powerful family, and a woman trying to do her job.

I wonder about a lot of old stories. Take David and Goliath. David was a guy who threw a rock at the big bully Goliath who was a GIANT. David became the King because that is how people picked leaders back then. My take is that David was about average height or maybe on the shorter end of average  like 5″6′. I’m going by what is average today, not five thousand years ago. Goliath was tall but not a giant. Maybe about 6’11” or even 7′ like a basket ball player. Goliath could have been the same height of Goliath who was obviously the epitome of the school yard bully. David kicked Goliath’s ass. It could have been with rocks. It could have been with words. The point of this story is that David’s crew had to spin the story to make it look more spectacular. They had to make David look bigger than life so they made Goliath into a 15″6′ giant and made David into just a regular guy which he wasn’t. The spin doctors were going for the lowest common denominators with their mostly agrarian and illiterate constituents. See where I’m going with this.

Another favorite story of mine and of my readers is Ode to a Greek God. I take the god Hermes and update the readers on what he is doing now in his home in San Francisco.  His son Pan is settled down. Hermes is evaluating his life and still getting into trouble with women. It is a new world where mortal humans tend to be a little more savy and demanding. I might even continue that story one day or update the new mythology.

For centuries people have been fascinated by the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table stories. Was Arthur even real? What about the Holy Grail. There are stories within stories within stories. Everyone from John Steinbeck to Stephen Spielberg had their own wonderful takes on the lore of King Arthur and the Holy Grail. Of course Monty Python did it better than anyone.

I also had my own take on the story of Arthur, Merlin and the Camelot Crew with my Druce and Morcant stories. In Off To See The Wizard the two friends started with a trip to meet Merlin. I’m still writing their stories. By the way Druce is a Warlock, and Morcant is a Selkie. That makes for even more lore.

And speaking of Selikes please read the wonderful new story by emerging author Adelia Hoff called The Fisherman. She did a beautiful job taking the predatory and mean nature out of an old tale.

Be it Bible stories, Greek Gods, Vampires, Selkies, Mermaids, Wizards, Ghosts, old legends, or what ever lore you’re writing just remember that it is your story to tell. YOUR STORY.

Someone started the lore and mythologies we currently retell over and over and over. Why not start your own.

And if you just want to read you have plenty of material. I’ll make a list in my next book blog post.

In the meantime keep your mind open. Keep your heart open. Keep your imagination running. Wear a mask. Talk with your kids. Check in on those who might need extra help. Stay safe.

And tell me what your favorite stories of myths, lore, or retellings of old tales are. I’d love to hear.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Hooks

coffee

Coffee with Vampires and Ghosts

On TV whenever a hot girl sees a guy she likes she will run up to him, do a flying jump and wrap her legs around him as she plants him with a huge sloppy kiss.

NOBODY does that in real life. There would be a trip to the emergency room after he falls and cracks his skull on the pavement, and she falls with him and breaks her arm when it twists behind his back.

I just had to say that.

This morning after a long walk with my dog I fixed coffee and a second cup for Nigel. Being a Ghost, Nigel never drinks the coffee, he just puts his hands around the cup and takes in the aroma.

This morning we were not discussing stupid reality TV programs. We talked about creativity.

“Why don’t you finish anything?” Nigel asked with a sneer, as he shook a lock of dark hair off of his forehead.

“I finish blog posts and short stories,” I said.

“Novels?”

“I’ve finished a couple.”

“You never edited them or had them edited? What the Hell Juliette?”

I made more coffee and ignored his completely true comment.

“I’m writing today,” I said. “I’m working on a novel. I’m going to get a real editor to edit it.”

“What’s the hook? In one sentence,” said Nigel.

“A story that proves that Empty Nesters had lives before they had kids, and deadly secrets the’ll never tell.”

“I’d read that,” said Nigel. “Now give me the hook for another one.”

“Would you rather have a trophy wife on your arm or a raptor?”

“Oh, I like that. Go on.”

“Sometimes you have to die to find a love life.”

“OK. That hits home. Another.”

“After the fourth apocalypse in three years he decided to do something about it, and he didn’t really care what anyone else thought.”

“That one needs some work.”

“After the fourth apocalypse in three years he decided to do something about it, even if he was just a cat.”

“There you go. Is it about a cat?”

“It could be. I haven’t done much with that one yet,” I said. Wasn’t that the truth.

“Tell me another.”

“Get your gun, and get in the motorhome, said Grammy, “We’re going to hunt some Vampires.”

Nigel laughed out loud. “That was unexpected. Another.”

“I’m done for the day,” I told him. I need to write.

Yes, I do need to write before all of the ideas and inspiration drains out of my left ear and onto the floor. I need to write before I notice the floor needs to be mopped. I need to write before the dog needs more food, or the cats lie to me again and tell me they need more food. I need to write before another person drunk dials me, or I get distracted yet again by Ghosts or anyone or anything else.

I have to finish those stories and send those hooks out and catch some readers. My goal is to tell those tales and maybe entertain someone along the way.

And as always…

  • Talk to your kids
  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a mask
  • Check in on the elderly folks and others in your life you might need extra help.
  • Kiss a Vampire.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Creative Spirit

Articles abound about how schools stifle creativity by forcing children to conform to certain ways of thinking and doing things. Fortunately that isn’t always true.

Unfortunately what happens when kids get out of school, either high school, or college is devastating.

Doors are slammed in the faces of those who put themselves out there into the world where all things are subjective. The real world, especially the workplace, is set up to stifle creative thinking, the individual, and anyone with new ideas. Employees are hired for their creativity and drive, then that creative is beaten out of them, only to be replaced with the acceptable mediocracy of the prevailing management.

We’ve all seen how our government works with old men asking fear filled questions about the dangers of social media and other subjects they will not even attempt to understand. They are the same people who cut off funds for our arts and sciences because they do not trust what they do not understand. Unfortunately they do not want to understand – that would mean opening their eyes to new and different ideas. That would mean letting go of ignorance and opening up their minds and maybe even their hearts.

Friends and relatives can be the worst at killing the creative spirit in a child or young adult. They all have loud and negative opinions about hopes and dreams of the young people they know. They say things like, “only communists and socialists get Political Science degrees,” or “you can’t make a living as an artist (or a historian, a marine biologist, a fashion designer, a musician, a bed and breakfast owner, a baker, a vintage motorcycle mechanic, a poet, a writer, an art historian, a speciality crop farmer, or anything else where someone has new ideas, or ideas on making old ideas better.)

Dreams are easy to kill, especially in those who have had doors slammed in their faces  time after time after time. Even if you go around back there isn’t always another door or even a window to crawl into.

Don’t tell a young person that they are a failure before they have even tried.

I feel that individual sports and activities such as music and acting can help prepare a child for the negativity and judgments of adult life.

For example, my daughter roller skates. That is Artistic Roller Skating. It is like figure skating on ice, except on roller skates. When the skaters do their events, be it Figures, Team Dance, Solo Dance, or Freestyle, they are out there on the floor alone. They skate in front of a panel of judges. The skaters have specific requirements, but they are all judged individually on their own merits. That is a tough lesson for kids, and a good one. My daughter skated for years without winning. Finally she did win Gold at the National Championships – Twice. She got Bronze once. She also went to the National Championships and didn’t win. But she went. She went out of love for her sport. She did it because she wanted to do her personal best.

We should all strive to do our personal best even if there is no Gold Medal at the end. Even if there is no cash reward. Even if there is no fame.

Creativity in any endeavor is an act of love. Don’t stifle that love in the young people you know.

I have been writing this odd little blog since 2012. I haven’t received a MacArthur Fellowship. I haven’t received a penny off of my efforts. I has not made me famous (maybe a little bit.) But I continue to write this blog anyway. My thoughts on parenting, Vlad, Eleora and Tellias, Nigel the Ghost, and the rest of it are all stories that must be told. It is mine. I encourage you all to find what is YOURS and hold it close and keep doing whatever it is that makes you happy and creative.

Today the 2019 MacArthur Fellows were announced. Sometime this is know as the MacArthur Genius Grants.

Twenty six people from a variety of fields were awarded a $625,000 stipend that they can do whatever they want with.

From the foundations president John Palfrey: From addressing the consequences of climate change to furthering our understanding of human behavior to fusing forms of artistic expression, this year’s 26 extraordinary MacArthur Fellows demonstrate the power of individual creativity to reframe old problems, spur reflection, create new knowledge, and better the world for everyone. They give us reason for hope, and they inspire us all to follow our own creative instincts.”

They give us reason for hope, and they inspire us all to follow our own creative instincts.

I was so happy to see one of my favorite artist Lynda Barry on the list. I love her work so much.  Lynda Barry, 63, graphic novelist, cartoonist and educator
“Inspiring creative engagement through original graphic works and a teaching practice centered on the role of image making in communication.”

For years I had her Poodle With A Mohawk poster on my wall. I still have the poster. I’m going to put it back up.

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Congratulations to all of the recipients and to your creative spirit, and thank you for inspiring generations now and in the future.

So now, your assignment for today is:

  1. Encourage.
  2. Inspire.
  3. Support.
  4. Discuss.
  5. Hug.
  6. Read.
  7. Learn.
  8. Love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

96 Colors

96 Colors

Yesterday my new set of 96 Firm Pastel Color Sticks (Prismacolor Nupastel) landed on my front porch along with pastel paper to draw on.

I am so excited.

NINETY SIX COLORS! AND PAPER 18 x 24 INCH PAPER!

It has been years since I’ve created any serious fine artwork. Sure I doodle and still occasionally do graphic design shit but I’m ready to start working on a grander scale again.

So what are YOUR goals for today?

  • Do something creative (even if it is fixing something without instructions.)
  • Seek out color.
  • Keep away from bad blood (for both Vampires and non-Vampires.)
  • Laugh.
  • Look at the moon (Werewolves – that is up to your discretion.)
  • Talk to your kids. Hug them. Listen to them. Encourage them.
  • Go to a museum (I will be there.)
  • Banish Demons (especially the ones with the big leathery wings and yellow eyes.)
  • Have fun.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Connections, Net Neutrality, and the Thoughts of an Old Vampire Blogger.

As most of you already know I don’t say certain things were meant to be. I don’t believe that bad things, or even most good things happen for a reason. What reason is there for a child to get cancer? What reason is there for someone to lose a limb, or a job, or a home to fire, or the freedom of speech? Bad things can make us stronger, or wiser, or closer to those we love, but that does not make them good, or reasonable.

I do believe in a certain amount of what I’ll call, for no other words, magic.

Let me tell you a story about something amazing. It is a story of magic. It is a story of creativity. It is a story of a group of people meeting by chance over the Internet and doing wonderful, amazing, magical things together – through love of storytelling, words, pictures, and eventually each other.

Once upon a time, before I stared this blog in 2012, I wrote stories and books. I wrote plays that were produced. I wrote stories. I wrote books. I wrote poetry. I wrote alone.

When the Internet and social media came along I jumped onboard early. As an artist and a writer I could see the potential. Sure, we all loved the Hamster Dance, but there was so much more. There was community.

In the early days of Facebook a family member asked me to join. I discovered old friends, and things like FarmVille. Then I discovered FB groups. I joined a few writing groups but didn’t participate. I just listened in. Every once in a while I’d post a story. Nobody ever responded. I’d read works by others and press “like.” Sometimes I’d say, “That was great. More please.”

Then a troll invaded the group, and people started to talk. We banded together and beat the shit out of the troll. We made him leave. Then something amazing happened. About ten of us started to interact. We decided to have our own writing prompts. The first was for erotica just because it sounded like a challenge and a bit naughty and fun. So rather than put our naughty bits out in a public group of 2,000, we formed our own group. We called it our Den.

For almost ten years we have formed a bond as tight as any group that meets face to face.  We have faced personal tragedies such as the death of one of our members. We’ve celebrated success together. We have become true friends. We have loved, supported, and treasured each other. We became Writers, Poets, and Deviants, aka WPaD.

We are from The United States, Canada, and Austria. We are one. We transcend borders because our culture is that of free speech, creativity, great stories, and art for everyone.

We just published our 8th Short Story Anthology. I am always in awe of the true talent and dedication of this group, especially of Mandy White who acts as our publisher, editor, and den mother, and Jason Kemp, who has provided the original illustrations and design for several of our covers.

Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe

Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe – WPAD Science Fiction.

Best Horror Anthology of 2015

Creepies 2 – Best Horror Anthology of 2015

Without the support of WPaD I would have never started Vampiremaman.com in 2012. Who else would have cheered when I said I was writing a Vampire/Parenting blog? Without WPaD I would have never considered publishing a book on my own. I would have never become a mentor to other writers, artists, and bloggers. I would have never met the amazing people I’ve come to know in the WordPress writing community.

To my WordPress peeps – I hold you all close to my heart as well. I will fight for your freedom to keep blogging and speaking your mind – forever.

To my WPaD friends – I truly admire, appreciate, adore, and love you for who you are, and for what you do.

In the old days, when I was a child, nobody had computers. People had pen pals. If we wanted to speak to someone we went out into the street to see who was there. More often or not doors were slammed in our faces.

But now, with the true magic and FREEDOM of the Internet I have met the most remarkable group of creative people I could ever imagine. I am not religious but I do feel blessed. I do feel this is something so rare and so special.

Net neutrality was ripped apart this week after the Federal Communications Commission voted 3–2 to repeal the network neutrality rules that prevented internet providers from blocking or controlling access to websites or charging websites to access users at faster speeds. Let me rephrase that – before ignorant and greedy trolls at the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to repeal the network neutrality rule. 

I encourage every American who reads this to contact their Congressional Representatives, and Senators and encourage them to reverse the hateful and dangerous repeal of the network neutrality rules.

We will continue to create, speak out, and love what we do, and who we do it with. We will contiue to support each other for we are the ones who create the magic. We are the ones.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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An Afternoon Haunting Over Coffee (With A Ghost)

Some are haunted by the thoughts of “what if.”

Some are haunted by loves lost and missed opportunity.

Some are haunted by terrors in their closets, that come out at night and stare at the foot of their bed with lifeless black eyes, and claws like razors.

Some, like me, are haunted by another kind of ghost.

This afternoon, as I was working on an outline for a book, I heard music coming from the family room of my house.

Telegram force and ready
I knew this was a big mistake
There’s a fine line drawing
My senses together
And I think it’s about to break
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

Nightshades on a warning
Give me strength at least give me a light
Give me anything even sympathy
There’s a chance you could be right
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

I looked from where I was sitting in the breakfast room to see a figure singing and slowly swaying to the music. Black shining shaggy hair came down to the top of his shoulders, hiding the collar of his white shirt. He turned and glared at me. The music stopped. His form went in and out of an odd translucent state. I hate it when they do that. I hate Ghosts.

Then he started to talk. “You’re writing. How quaint. Well, maybe it isn’t so quaint considering you’re a blood sucking cold as death Vampire. Have you prepared your speech for the National Book Awards yet?”

“Go away Nigel,” I said to The Ghost.

And he continued to talk. “You should write something edgy that you can make into a movie. How about a powerful handsome black man, played by Michael B. Jordan who marries a beautiful blonde played by Jennifer Laurence. He promotes one of his younger men, played by Zac Efron over an older man. The old guy, that would be Robert De Niro, gets pissed and makes the Michael B. Jordan character think Jennifer Laurence is having an affair with the young guy and…”

“Othello.”

“I know, I know, but do a new twist on it. Make everyone black except make Othello white. Othello sounds sort of Italian. He could own a chain of successful upscale restaurants. You can add in a character called Mama Othello. Kathy Bates. It would be great. You could get the current pop-star-de-jour to do the music. Someone like Ariana Grande.”

“Go away Nigel, you’re bothering me.”

“Good. That was my intention.”

I continued to work on my writing trying to ignore him.

“I need coffee.”

I ignored him.

“Coffee would be nice. You could have some too. Heaven knows you could use it.”

I continued to work.

“You could write a book about a widow who goes to live in a big house by the ocean that is haunted by a handsome ship captain. The ship captain falls in love with her, but she lives in real world, and he tells her to find someone with a real body. And she writes. She writes his story and doesn’t have to move back with her horrible in-laws from Hell. Then she gets involved with some married shit for brains asshole. She goes home and finds out that her daughter knew about the ghost all along, then she dies and is with the man she loves, you know, the ship captain. It is so sad and romantic, kind of like a Nicholas Sparks novel. Did you know he went to the same high school as your kids? Not the ship captain, but Sparks. Lynn Anderson the singer went there too. Tom Hanks, Hill Harper, and I also went there. I went there too. Did you know that?”

I continued to ignore him.

“Don’t tell me you don’t know The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It is one of your favorite movies. About a GHOST no less. You’re such a fucking hypocrite, even for a Vampire.”

I continued to try to write.

“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. You like Ghosts. Admit it.”

“Enough. I’ll make coffee.”

“Thank you.”

“By the way, I hate Ghosts.”

“I am not particularly fond of Vampires.”

We sat at the table and watch the rain with hot mugs of coffee. Nigel put his face over the mug and took in the scent. I drank mine with half and half.

He looked down at my pad of paper where I made notes. I use both computer and yellow legal pads.

“Do you think you’ll ever…” he started to say something.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I like it.”

I looked up. He locked his eyes in mine.

“This is good Juliette.”

“Thank you,” I said, and finished my coffee.

“You should…”

“Don’t.” I shook my head and looked away.

“Fine. But don’t say I didn’t tell you. Don’t you ever say I did not tell you,” he said.

Then he smiled and vanished in a gray wisp of smoke, that smelled like coffee and the ocean.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Who and what haunts your days, nights, and even your coffee?