Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The fascinating tale of Dunstan — the Abbot of Glastonbury by Mary Anne Yarde #Folklore #Myths #OurAuthorGang

The fascinating tale of Dunstan — the Abbot of Glastonbury
by Mary Anne Yarde

Saint Dunstan ~ Wikipedia

I have always been fascinated with folklore, and today I want to tell you about a 10th Century Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey.

Dunstan had a notable career. He was not only the Abbot of Glastonbury but also the Bishop of Worcester, the Bishop of London, and if that was not enough, The Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a famed worker of metal. He was also an illuminator and a great musician. There is also a rumour that he dabbled in unlawful arts when he was a young man. But most notable, Dunstan restored monastic life in England and reformed the English Church.

But what does Dunstan have to do with folklore? 
Well, this is where it gets interesting. 
I think it is time for a story...

Dunstan was a man of God. Wherever he went, and whatever he did, God never strayed far from him. They were inseparable. He was the holiest of holy men.

Dunstan could often be found working in the smithy, for he was a skilled craftsman. One day, a woman of great beauty came into his workshop. She smiled becomingly at him and asked if he would forge her a toasting fork.

Dunstan agreed. But instead of leaving him to his work, the young woman watched as Dunstan worked the metal, moulding it and shaping it. Unable to resist, the young woman began to tease Dunstan. But Dunstan was not one to be manipulated by a beautiful face even if her eyes did sparkle with the promise of seduction. He continued with his work, trying his best to ignore her.

The woman became even more daring in her bid to get Dunstan to pay her some attention. But as she danced around him, her skirt lifted up, and Dunstan could clearly see hooves where feet should be.

Not one to be easily shocked, Dunstan very calmly picked up his pair of tongs, that had been resting in the fire, and he clamped them hard on the woman’s nose. The woman screamed, and her appearance changed. Wings came out from her back, and Dunstan watched, with no surprise, as the woman turned into the Devil.

Lucifer (Le génie du mal) by Guillaume Geefs (Cathedral of St. Paul, Liège, Belgium) ~ Wikipedia

The Devil managed to free his nose from the burning tongs, and he flew up into the air. It is said that the Devil flew to Kent and seeing the water at Tunbridge Wells, he landed and dipped his face into the water in a desperate bid to ease his burning nose. And from that day on the water turned red and tasted of sulphur.

But this wasn't the last encounter Dunstan was to have with the Devil. One day the Devil came to Dunstan and asked him to reshoe his horse. But instead of putting the horseshoe on to the horse's foot, Dunstan nailed it onto the Devil's hoof. The Devil, understandably, roared with pain. He ordered Dunstan to take the shoe off. But Dustan folded his arms about him and shook his head. In the end, the Devil began to beg. Dunstan said he would take the shoe off but only if the Devil swore never to enter a house that had a horseshoe nailed above the door. The Devil agreed, and now you know why a horseshoe hung over a door is considered lucky. For the Devil will leave such a house alone.

Dunstan shoeing the Devil's hoof, as illustrated by George Cruikshank ~ Wikipedia

The life of Dunstan is a fascinating one. He was disgusted with how the Church was run, and he wanted to do something about it. He did not think it right that priests could marry and have families. Priests, in his opinion, should take a vow of celibacy. Well, as you can image, his view was not popular, and he met a great deal of opposition to his argument.

Possible self-portrait of Dunstan. Detail from the Glastonbury Classbook ~ Wikipedia

Things finally came to ahead in the meeting which had been called to address this troublesome matter. These important men of the Church met on the first floor of a building in Wiltshire.


They debated, they argued,  but no one could agree. They were going around in circles with their arguments. This was going to be a complete waste of time. Dunstan had had enough, so he simply said...

"Let Jesus decide."

And with those words, something terrible happened. There was a creaking and a groaning and then without warning the floor gave way. Many men fell through the floor. I was quite a drop, and many were injured. But Dunstan and his supports stood on the other side of the room unharmed, and they looked down, though the hole in the floor upon their fellow priests with shocked surprise. Jesus had decided.

Those who had fallen through the roof believed that it wasn't Jesus' will that had made that part of the floor collapse, but instead, it was Dunstan's will. He had sabotaged the floor. But no one would believe them.

Dunstan won that argument and from that day on priests were forbidden to marry.

But there is more. It wasn't plain sailing for Dunstan as he tried to implement new laws for the priesthood. He wanted to see an end to the days of drunkenness and disorder within the monasteries. But he had learnt that arguing had got him nowhere, so from now on, if anyone disagreed with him, he simply turned them into eels and threw them into the rivers and lakes of the Fenlands. A certain place that Dunstan favoured became known as Ely — the place of Eels!

So there we have it. No wonder everyone both feared and respected Dunstan.

Dunstan died on the 19th May 988 at the age of 79. He was made a saint shortly after.


If not otherwise stated, all images can be found on Pixbay.
First published on Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots 10th August 2017

Mary Anne Yarde is a multi award-winning author of the International Best Selling Series — The Du Lac Chronicles. Set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Briton and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, the Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed.
Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury--the fabled Isle of Avalon--was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Mythology and Folklore: Part 4

The Legend of the White Stag

Picture credit: Pinterest

The story of the White Stag spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from Japan to the British Isles.

Turan people consider the deer sacred because on its antlers it carries the sun and the moon and leads the chosen people from darkness to light, from death to life, and from old to new homelands.

Picture credit: Pinterest

In Hun-Hungarian mythology, the miraculous deer is the most significant animal. The stag's antlers symbolize the world tree and people's relationship with the sky. The shedding and regrowth of the antlers symbolize the cycles of life, disappearance, and rebirth. The golden deer leads man back to the ancient wisdom.

Picture credit: Pinterest

According to Hungarian (Magyar) legend that was preserved in the 13th-century chronicle Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum by Simon of Kéza, while out hunting, two brothers Hunor and Magor saw a miraculous white stag (sometimes described as golden). They pursued the animal, but it always stayed ahead of them, leading them westward into Levedia, where they married two princesses and founded the Hun and Magyar people. One of the main reasons for claims of religious and cultural ties between Huns and Magyars is the stag and the brothers Hunor and Magor.

Picture credit:

When I was researching Hun history for my trilogy, The Ancestors' Secrets, I came across this ballad that was translated from Hungarian that mentions the "doe with horns". It was confusing that the legend mentions "stag" a male deer, but this ballad specifically says female deer with horns (antlers) Later I've found a short article about it that explained the confusion. In Hun legends, the male and female represented equally recognizing feminine and masculine qualities and role in life. Female and male unite to bring forth life and nurture and protect it. 

Read a short excerpt from Prelude, book one of The Ancestors' Secrets trilogy:

Wondrous-headed doe with horns
of a thousand branches and knobs.
Thousand branches and knobs
and of a thousand bright candles.
Among its horns, it carries
the light of the blessed sun.
On its forehead, there is a star,
on its chest the moon.
And it starts along the banks
of the shining heavenly Danube,
That it may be the messenger
of heaven and bringer of news,
About our creator and caring God.

I always loved this legend. It was difficult to see the meaning of the legend behind all the symbolism, but when Dad had explained it once, it made some sense to me. He said, “The cosmos, the mother of the sun, is represented by a female horned doe, or hind. Being a symbol of the cosmos, she also carried the stars representing the people united. Just as the cosmos was her mother, she was the mother of the stag who symbolized the sun.”
“Rua, you’ve been telling us stories, but I never heard you mention anything about the four hundreds,” inquired Ema.
“There are many speculations, but nothing is known for certain. The legend says those were dark and uncertain times and that we might never find out what happened back then,”
Ema frowned, “Oh, you and your legends. Never a straight answer to anything.”
“I just tell the legends as my father before me.”
Ema sighed, annoyed, and started playing with the CD player. To match her mood, she chose Brahms and drummed the tune on her knees. Bela begged her to switch to Chopin, and when she did, everyone settled into a lazy mode. We listened to the music and enjoyed the beautiful late afternoon.
“Tell us more stories Rua,” begged Ema, turning to him.
“Okay, I’ll tell you a story about King Matyas,” Rua said as he sipped his coffee.
We all leaned back, ready for the tale. I always loved his stories about the wise and just king, but Ema cut him off before he could start the story, “But Rua, you told us all the stories about King Matyas already. Tell us why the falcon is so important in our history.”
“Well, according to the legend, the Turul is a messenger of the Gods. It sits on top of the Tree of Life or ‘Életfa’ along with the spirits of unborn children in the form of birds. When we are in need, the Turul stretches its wings over us, guides and protects us.”
Ema’s eyes turned sad and looked away, “It doesn’t protect everyone.”
“That’s true. It doesn’t protect individual people from life’s everyday cruelty. It protects us as a nation, all of us. Also, the Turul bird’s role is to protect the sword that appoints the King or Queen, who are proven to be worthy.”
“How can a mythical bird do that?”
“I don’t know, but the legend says that when the time is right, and the person is chosen, they hear the falcon’s victory cry and the flaming sword mark appear on their neck with the symbol of the King or Queen on their face.”
Ema sighed and shrugged her shoulders, “Oh, Rua, these are just legends.”
 “Well, there is a small truth, somewhere, in every tale that’s told. Maybe it’s just a legend. There was not a Hunor who had the mark since the fourteen hundreds, so we can’t say if it’s true or just a myth.”
 “Having a King or Queen is nothing but a show and symbolic representation nowadays. They don’t have the power to rule a nation like the ancestors.” Ema replied.
“That’s true…” Rua looked at Elza who touched his hand to warn him, and he didn’t finish the sentence.
Noticing the interaction, I said, “Elza please let him finish.”
Rua smiled, “There is nothing more to say. These are just legends.”

If interested, you can read my blog series about mythology and folklore:

And, if you're interested in Arthurian legends, Click on Mary Anne Yarde's page HERE

Monday, June 18, 2018

Famous Romantic Couples Part 3 by Grace Augustine #OurAuthorGang

Photo: Pinterest

The 1980's brought us some of the most memorable couples. Let's take a look!

Photo: Freebase/Public Domain

Ozzy Osburne, former lead singer of Black Sabbath, solo musician, and television personality, met Sharon Arden Levy in 1971. Sharon was working for her father, music executive, Don Arden, who'd just signed Black Sabbath. In a 1989 interview with People Magazine, Sharon recounts the meeting: "Ozzy walked into my father's office without shoes, with a water faucet dangling from his neck, and sat on the floor. I was terrified!"
Sharon and Ozzy married in 1982 and have 3 children. Ozzy says the important things in life are "I'm about caring, I'm about people,and I'm about entertaining people. I'm a family man, a husband, a father...and a lot of things from the past we won't talk about." Their marriage hasn't always been roses...more of a roller coaster...but love wins in the end. 

photo:  Pinterest

Paul David Hewson, better known as Bono, U2's front man, met his wife Ali at Mount Temple Interdenominational School. According to an interview from their website, Bono tried chatting her up several times to no avail. His several years long pursuit ended with them being cautiously together. Ali was afraid of being just another one of Bono's girls. The turning point in their relationship was after Bono's mother passed. Ali became his rock and the couple married at the Old Guinness Church of Ireland in Dublin on August 21, 1982. The couple have 4 children.

Photo: Freebase

"Family is not an important thing, it's everything," says Michael J. Fox. Fox got his start on the sitcom, Family Ties, where he met his wife, Tracy Pollan. Pollan played the girlfriend of Fox's best friend. Their first kiss was on the set of Family Ties.  A few years later they met on the set of Bright Lights, Big City and began a relationship.  They were married on July 16, 1988. They have 4 children. Michael J. Fox is a public advocate for Parkinson's.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Our Guest Today is Isobelle Cate #OurAuthorGang

Welcome, Isobelle!  We're thrilled to have you with us today.

Isobelle Cate is a woman who wears different masks.  Mother-writer, wife-professional, scholar-novelist.  Currently living in Manchester, UK, she has been drawn to the little known, the secret stories, about the people and the nations:  the English, the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh, and those who are now part of these nations whatever their origins.  Her vision and passion are fueled by her interest and background in history and, paradoxically, shaped by growing up in a clan steeped in lore, loyalty, and legend. Isobelle is intrigued by forces that simmer beneath the surface of these cultures, the hidden passions, unsaid desires, and yearnings unfulfilled.  She may be reached at:


**Due to adult content, material is suited for 18 years and older.

Fifteen years ago, Drake Rosen was forced to leave the girl he loved, only to find her gone when he returned. He never forgot her, the only girl his heart belonged to, until he sees her during Oliver and Felicity’s wedding. She has now become a beautiful woman who gives meaning to every beat of his heart. The woman who can bring him to his knees. 

Bethany Brooke was never one to fit in. Scrawny, shy, and partially hearing impaired she was the butt of cruel taunts in school. Drake was the boy who protected her, shielded her and gave her the time of day. Her knight in a faded uniform, he was the one who drew the curtains back to let light colour her world and sound even more beautiful. He was the one she fell in love with. 

But when Drake is forced to leave, Bethany is left to fend for herself until she, too, is forced to leave her home. Fifteen years later, while walking the trails of Sandbanks, she sees the boy who owned her heart from the very start. He is now a man that gives sound to her racing pulse, someone she now craves.

Giving in to the attraction they have had for a long time, they take the chance of kindling the love denied them all those years ago. But someone is working in the background to pull them apart. If Drake finds out the secrets Bethany is keeping, it could destroy their fragile love. Bethany knows that it is the ultimate betrayal that will break Drake’s heart.

They say it takes two to tango. For Drake and Bethany, it will have to be the slow dance of their lives.

This book is a standalone but part of the Second Chances series.  

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Going gluten free--epic cooking fail by Grace Augustine #OurAuthorGang

photo: Williams Sonoma

There are days I wonder why I even try to cook any other way than what is familiar. With all of the new health items and BMI rules and things we never heard of thirty years ago (and I will point out we were less obese then).

photo: Sunset Magazine

One of my downfalls is sweets...especially sweets with chocolate! I have many of the "one-cup" microwave dessert recipes...from apple cake to blueberry muffins. I found a recipe for a microwave brownie--no milk or egg. I thought I was in heaven!

Photo: YouTube

However...instead of using regular flour, I decided to make a gluten free version with coconut flour. I followed the recipe, measuring out the ingredients and popped the mug in the microwave. I could smell the delectable chocolate and taste its goodness!

After pulling it from the microwave, I allowed it to cool for 2 minutes, as instructed. Piercing it with a fork, I scooped a bite...sigh...only to find a grainy, unappetizing mess!  I didn't know that the ratio of coconut flour was different when cooking. You have to alter the recipes quite a lot. It was more work than I wanted to tackle.

I tossed it in the trash and made a regular brownie, smiled, and ate it all--gluten be damned!

photo: YouTube

1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp softened butter
1 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder
dash of salt
1/4 c. hot water

Mix together, but don't over mix it.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Remove and enjoy this guilty pleasure

Friday, June 15, 2018

Dystopian Fiction: Part 4

Dystopian Fiction: Part 4

Joe Bonadonna
 Image from the film version of The Hunger Games.

As I mentioned when I first started out in Part 1, I haven’t read a dystopian novel in decades, probably not since the early 1980s, at the latest — unless you count Stephen King’s Cell or some zombie apocalypse novels. So I’m really no expert authority or even very knowledgeable about novels published in the last decade of the 20th century, let’s say, and especially those published in the 21st century. Typing “21st century” is still rather strange for me: the future is now, sort of thing, and probably because I spent the first 50 years of my life living in the last 5 decades of the 21st century. I am truly a product of those years, especially of the 1960s.

What I hope to accomplish here is list some books I have heard of but have never read, and list a number of films I’ve seen. In my experience, dystopian fiction was usually a science fiction novel set in a dark, grim future, and long before the label was attached to these. In these novels the future usually involved totalitarianism in one form or another: fascist, oligarchic, and religious regimes; sometimes alien invasions by some good old extraterrestrial space invaders, or a plague or horrific proportions were the catalysts, as depicted in such novels as Footfall, by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven, and in I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. Many other novels had strong science fiction tropes, combined with a dystopian backdrop: The Missing Man, by Katherine MacLean; The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester; After Things Fell Apart, by Ron Goulart, The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. LeGuin; Alternaties, by Michael Kube-MacDowell; Time Storm, by Gordon R. Dickson; Planet of the Apes (a/k/a Monkey Planet), by Pierre Boulé; The Masks of Time, and The Word Inside, by Robert Silverberg; Riders of the Purple Wage, by Philip Jose Farmer (originally published in Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison); and almost anything by Philip K. Dick. The works of Ayn Rand, too, can be said to be of dystopian futures, but I must confess that I have never read her work.

There are scores of novels I’ve heard of but have never read, and surely scores of titles I never even heard of. It seems to me, however, that the 21st century has brought dystopian fiction to a whole new level of popularity. Why more and more writers are turning out dystopian fiction, and why more and more readers are picking up on them, I can’t really say for certain. Perhaps it’s the political climate in the USA and the surrounding world. Perhaps the genre’s time has come: where once rocket ships to other planets and space exploration were the thing, and time travel a popular trope, the many worlds of Dystopia are now being explored. And why I can sit and watch a movie about a dystopian future but cannot read any more novels about dystopian futures is a complete mystery to me. Perhaps it’s because a book is totally subjective, and all you have with you when you’re reading are the author’s words and your own imagination. Thus, the novel affects you on a different level, perhaps several levels. With a film, you get visuals, music, sound FX, special FX, actors playing out their roles . . . and all that puts the story on a different level for me, and at times keeps me distracted from the dark, grim, near hopeless core of the story. I don’t know. I have never written a dystopian novel, although I have written my own “zombie apocalypse” screenplay, back in 1997. But that falls more into the horror genre, anyway. Perhaps fans and authors of dystopian fiction will give me some insight into why they read and write these novels. And who knows? Perhaps if a inspiration strikes me with an idea and a plot that intrigue me enough, something I haven’t seen or heard of before, then maybe I’ll write one.

Here, in no particular order . . . is a very incomplete list of all the “old” and more recent dystopian movies I’ve seen.

Metropolis, by Fritz Lang
La Jettee, by Chris Marker
The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price (based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.)
Alphaville, by Jean Luc Goddard
A Boy and His Dog, based on Harlan Ellison’s novella
Strange Days, by James Cameron and Jay Cocks
Blade Runner, by Ridley Scott (Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
12 Monkeys, by Terry Gilliam
Brazil, by Terry Gilliam
Minority Report, by Steven Spielberg (based on Philip K. Dick’s story)
Gattaca, by Andrew Niccol
The Matrix, by The Wachowski Brothers
V is for Vendetta, The Wachowski Brothers
THX-1138, by George Lucas
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth.
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.
City of Ember, by Jeanne DeFrau.
Equilibrium, by Kurt Wimmer
Elysium, by Neil Blomkamp
District 9, by Neil Blomkamp and Terri Tatchel
Children of Men, by Alfonso Cuarron
Snowpiercer, by Bong Joon Ho

Well, there you have my 2-cents worth. There are certainly many other films that can be considered dystopian futures, such as Terminator, Robocop, A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), and far too many more novels to mention. I just hope you’ve enjoyed my articles, learned about some novels and movies you may not have known about, and you’ll stop by again some time.

Author Walter Rhein, who has twice now been a guest on our blogsite, is the author of two very fine dystopian novels, The Reader of Acheron, and The Literate Thief. He wrote a great article on Millenials and why Dystopian Fiction is gaining so much popularity. Check it out!

Once again, thank you. I’ll see you sometime in the future . . . dystopian or not.

My Amazon page:

OurAuthorGang member Nicola's McDonagh's blog on Cli-fi: Climate Change Fiction

#heroicfantasy  #spaceopera    #childrensbooks  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Small Gang of Authors: Baba Yaga Folk Lore Part 1

A Small Gang of Authors: Baba Yaga Folk Lore Part 1: Rebecca Tran Recently I wrote a novelette based loosely on the folklore surrounding Baba Yaga. When I started the projec... A little mythology with Rebecca Tran.

Baba Yaga Folk Lore Part 1

Rebecca Tran

Recently I wrote a novelette based loosely on the folklore surrounding Baba Yaga. When I started the project I was surprised by the number of people who never heard of her before. I have run across her several times in books and tv shows. I think I asked ten people if they knew who she was and only one said yes. In this series I thought I would share with you some of the folk lore surrounding this interesting character over the next three to four posts.
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Baba Yaga is traditionally found in Russian and Slavic folk lore. There is debate over the meaning of Baba's name. Depending on the country of origin Baba can mean anything from old woman, to hag. Most believe it refers to the latter. The meaning of Yaga however, seems to elude most scholars. In some slavic languages it translate to witch, in others horror and my personal favorite is fury in Polish. 

Sometimes Baba Yaga is one woman and sometimes a trio of them. Whether one woman or three she is always pictured as an old crone. Her body is deformed, with boney knees,piercing cold eyes, and
By Ivan Bilibin (died 1942)
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
iron teeth. 

Baba Yaga is known to fly around in a large Mortar using the pestle as both club and rudder. Her home stands on chicken legs and moves at Baba's request.  The fence around her yard is made of bones just in case the chicken legs weren't intimidating enough.

In case you haven't guessed by now Baba Yaga is a powerful witch. She is as inclined to help as she is to harm. Most of her stories revolve around themes of having a pure heart, integrity, and politeness. Depending on the qualities the other characters display arre Baba may help or harm you. If you make her mad enough so say she may even eat you.

Baba Yaga is the primary antagonist in the fantasy novel Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, appears in the short story "Joseph & Koza" by Nobel Prize-winning writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, and is regularly featured in stories in Jack and Jill, a popular children's magazine.

My novelette Magic Always Has a Price features Baba Yaga in an unexpected way. To say thank you for reading my post I am offering free copies at the above link.

Magic Always Has a Price

One night in the middle of the summer after a long day at the hospital I fell into a fitful sleep. I was in the woods near dusk. A fog rolled in. I heard hoofbeats. This time I wasn’t scared. I understood. It was the red horseman. Late afternoon is when he held the most power. He was patrolling the woods keeping it safe. What was he guarding against though? What was the threat? I walked down the path until I found the fence made of bones. They were old bleached white by the sun. Most were animal bones: wolves, bears, dogs, house cats, mountain cats, but there were human bones too.

The wind shifted, and it was suddenly very cold. I looked up to see the door to the log cabin open. Spider webs hung across the door. No one lived there. I looked closer at everything around me. The windows were dirty and full of spider webs. The fence itself was in disrepair. The horseman rode up behind me, and I felt his emotions. He was sad. The horseman wasn’t patrolling. He was searching for the owner of the cabin.

Then I heard the ravens. It started with a single call, then two then three. I looked up, and there was a whole flock of them in the trees above me. I turned and ran down the path. I had to get away. I didn’t want to know whose death they brought. Running blindly through the woods I tripped on something hard and solid. I thought it was a rock at first but it was too smooth, and there was a hollow on the underside that caught my foot. I used a quick spell to unearth enough of it to see what it was. A huge mortar lay on its side half buried in the dirt.

Only one witch ever used a mortar like that and had three horsemen. Why? Why was she plaguing my dreams? I heard a cackle in the distance. I moved to get up, but tree roots grabbed my arms and legs. The laugh grew closer. “No, no, no” I was panicked now.

If you like myths and folk lore check out Erika Szabo's series on Folklore and Myths Parts 1, 2, & 3

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Book to Screen Debate, part 3 by Toi Thomas

via Pinterest
Now it’s time to put a spin on this Book to Screen Debate and get into novelizations. Yes, you heard me right. I told you (in part 2) I’d be talking about books based on movies (that discussion about movies I liked better than the book comes next time).

Most people have seen a novelization several times in their life without realizing what they were seeing. To give it a name, makes it stand out, but they are quite common. Before I explain just how common they are, let me first state that there are 3 kinds of novelizations…Yeah, who knew?

1) There is the first-in-print edition of a novel based solely on the premise of a theatrical release.

2) There is the novel based on a movie that was originally based on a: comic book, play, video game, etc…

3) There is the novel and screenplay collaboration that totally comes down to which one gets released first.

Now, back to how common novelizations really are. Another word for this is a tie-in. Some books based on movies aren’t novels (so they can’t be novelizations) but they are tie-ins for these stories. Think about all those Disney movies that later released book versions so children can relive the experience at home without re-watching the whole movie. Those are tie-ins.

Now, shame on me for not doing better research on the matter, but look it up and tell me if I’m wrong. Novelizations were huge before TV came along. I have a few books based on old movies that I found at a thrift store and knew right away what they were. If you think about it, before TV came along to re-air movies or produce TV adaptations of them, the only way people could relive those theatrical moments was through book versions of the movies.

I don’t think this is as popular today as it once was, but it still happens. My favorite examples of this are the plethora of Star Wars books. These are all based, in one way or another, on a movie. The whole world of Star Wars was created for film, not TV, comic books, or novels, yet you can now enjoy Star Wars in all these forms.

There are novelizations for all kinds of movies, such as: Alien, some of the James Bond stories were written for film and later adapted instead of the other way around, and A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which went from a comic book to a film to a novel.

My latest novelization obsession is The Shape of Water. Yeah, that’s the Oscar Winner directed by Guillermo del Toro… But wait. He also co-wrote the script with a man named Daniel Kraus. Many people either loved or hated this film. I think I loved it, but mostly I’m fascinated by its story. The film version is mostly influenced by del Toro, but the novelization, also co-written by Kraus and del Toro, is said to be more of Kraus’s take on the story. It’s the same story but has different perspectives, different motivations, and perhaps more; I don’t know. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m looking forward to it.  
I’ll be back on June 27th to finally talk about the movies I enjoyed more than the book. Be sure to come back to tell me what movies you liked better and drop your jaw at the ones I picked.  The Book to Screen Debate continues... 

Find out more about me, my work, and my inspiration at the following links:

Amazon | Goodreads The ToiBox of Words | YouTube | See a list of my other posts here.

#book2screen, bookvsmovie, 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

6 Tips On How To Record Your Own Audiobook by Nicola McDonagh #OurAuthorGang

Two years ago I decided to make my first anthology of short stories – Glimmer –  into an Audio book, publishing with Amazon Audiobooks.
Or ACX as it is known:

I looked into the pros and cons of recording the book myself, and since I was an actor for over twenty years and have done quite a few voice overs for television in the past, I realised that I could do it. Plus, I wouldn’t have to share any of the royalties with a voice-over artist.

It took a while to record, but I am happy with the finished product that meets the professional standards ACX require. It helps that my husband is a musician/composer and knows his way around a recording desk.

Even if you aren’t an actor and have access to a recording studio, you can still narrate your own work and get a professional sounding book. You can do it yourself, and quite cheaply too. Be sure to create your account first on ACX, and become acquainted with the specifications for recording your book.

So, here are a few tips to get you started:

Firstly – you need to deaden the room you are in, if you don’t have soundproof room. Since I don’t have a soundproof booth I had to improvise by placing a mattress against one wall, putting cushions in the windows and hanging a heavy duvet on the wall I faced. This will muffle outside noises quite effectively. As I live on a road that can be busy, I had to pause on a number of occasions whilst waiting for traffic to die down.

Secondly – you will need a good microphone, preferably one that is specifically designed for voice-over work. I used an Apogee Mic professional microphone that is suitable for Garageband, iPad, iPhone and mac. These can be pricey, but if you go to the link below there is an extensive list of affordable microphones that will be more than ideal.

Thirdly a computer/laptop to record it on, with the suitable recording software. I use an iMac that has Garageband already installed. It is very easy to use and more than adequate for audio book requirements. If you have a PC, then I am reliably told that Audacity, is the software to use. 

Fourthly – make sure you are comfortable before you begin. You should place the microphone level with your mouth about 8 inches away from your face, with a pop shield attached to reduce those annoying,  heavy breathing sounds, gulps, ‘P’ pop noises and other tongue, lip sound we can’t help making on occasions.

Once you’ve created your track and pressed record, try to pace your reading. Don’t go too fast and make sure you pronounce things clearly. The good thing about doing it yourself, is that you can re-record the bits you don’t like. You can also use headphones so that you can hear yourself as you speak.

Fifthly – when you have recorded your book, edit it to make it crisp and clean and professional sounding. This entails fiddling around with levels to make them consistent, taking out long pauses, reducing background noise, and basically making it sound the way you want it to so that it meets  with the requirements of ACX. I highly recommend that you download a sample of an audiobook to get an idea of the quality and ambiance that ACX need.

Lastly – upload to ACX and await for confirmation and acceptance before it goes for sale. It takes around 10-14 days for this this to happen. Be careful to get your details, book description and categories right before publishing as once it is, making changes isn’t easy. You have to email them and ask. Also, you don’t set the price, they do, based on the length of your audio reading.

For a more detailed account of how to home record for ACX, I highly recommend Rob Dirks tutorial  – Yes, you can record you own Audiobook. Here’s how.

I decided  a trailer would be a good idea as a taster for my new publication. My husband very kindly made this video for me. You can view it on YouTube:

All photos royalty/copyright free