Friday, June 30, 2017

A Tick... Where? A True Story #OurAuthorGang

A TICK . . . WHERE?

by
Joe Bonadonna

(The Scream, by Edvard Munch, 1893)

Now this is a true story going back to when I was about 4 or 5 years old, so I don’t have clear memories of everything that happened and how it all started. What I do remember clearly are the memories that were not part of the normal, everyday routine, and what I’m going to tell you of what I remember are events that stick in my mind as if they happened only yesterday.

When I was about 1 or 2, starting around 1953 and up until I was about 6 or 7, my parents and I would drive from Chicago to Cuba, Missouri every summer for a week’s vacation. Always with us would be one of my Dad’s older brothers, Russel, and his wife Rose, their daughter Carmella (10 years older than me), and their son Joe and his first wife, Millie (both 15 years older than me.)  Also along for the ride was one of my Dad’s older sisters and her husband, Sarah and Jack — my beloved Godparents — and their two kids, Vivian (3 years older than me), and Jack, Jr (11 years older than me.) We’d all stay at this very cool lodge, in these quaint and yet pretty modern, individual log cabins. I can still remember the big dining hall, with the long table filled with pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, fried chicken, baked ham, mashed potatoes, and all sorts of good things to eat. We’d go fishing, canoeing, hiking through the woods and through these caverns known as Jesse James’ Hideout. I always rode on my Dad’s shoulders; I remember it was always cold, shadowy and damp in those caverns. At night we’d sit around a huge bonfire, listening to folk songs and country music, and I’d play with these two huge, lovable Collies that belonged to the owners of the lodge. There was also the lodge’s caretaker, whose name I can’t remember. My Dad called him the Old Prospector, and he used to call me “Activity,” because I never ran out of energy and got myself into all sorts of things.

Now, one time — and I recall nothing of the events leading up to this moment — I must have woken up in the morning hurting “down there.” My Dad discovered that I had a wood tick in the side of my penis. The nerve of that fella — the wood tick, I mean! I remember lying in bed with my pants down, my Mom and Dad on either side of me, holding my hands. Standing around me were my beloved Uncle Russ and Aunt Rose, Carmella, Joe and Millie, my loving Godparents, Aunt Sarah and Uncle Jack, and Vivian and Jackie, Jr. They were all looking down at me, and I remember my Uncle Russ taking a huge drag on his cigarette, blowing the ash off the lit end, and then kneeling down to draw the head of the tick. And I don’t remember anything after that.

Until the day she died, my Aunt Sarah, God rest her soul, who loved to tease me, would embarrass me in front of friends and family with the story of the tick. Even my cousin Carmella, to this very day, likes to tell the story to her husband’s family, or anyone else who will listen, and I’ll yell and say, “My cousins saw me naked!” Carmella will always say, “Oh, don’t blush. I changed your diapers when you were a baby.”

I still have a brown scar where my Uncle Russell used the heat of his cigarette to draw out the head of the wood tick who dared to invade the privacy of my private parts.


Thank you, and please . . . check out my Amazon Author Page: 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Looking for King Arthur — finding Merlin! #HistFic #Arthurian #OurAuthorGang


I have a secret. No, actually I don't because everyone who knows me, knows I have a little bit of an obsession with all things Arthurian. It started when I was a child growing up near Glastonbury — The fabled Isle of Avalon — and it has not diminished with the passing of years.

Now, Arthur, the man, is as elusive as a shadow — impossible to catch and always one foot in front or behind me. Arthur's real realm is in folklore, and that is where he is most prevalent.



I could easily run with a theory as to who Arthur was, but I am not going to do that. I want to stick with the legend because that is what fascinates me. I love folklore. I also love how there always seems to be a ring of truth in it, as I am going to demonstrate today!

Geoffrey of Monmouth and King Arthur

It cannot be disputed that Geoffrey of Monmouth gave us the Arthur we know and love. It is easy to mock his work, but for hundreds of years, Monmouth's Arthur was considered to be factually correct. So for the sake of this post, I am going to pretend that what Monmouth said is historically true — you will see where I am going with this in a minute!

Let's begin...

Merlin

The story of King Arthur does not start, surprisingly, with Arthur. The story begins with Merlin.

Merlin prophesies for Vortigern
 — from a manuscript of Geoffrey of Monmouth's
 "History of the Kings of Britain." 


It was Merlin that prophesied the coming of Arthur, and it was Merlin and his magic that made sure the rightful king of Britain pulled the sword from the stone. If it had not been for Merlin, there would be no Arthur.

Merlin, it is said, first came to the attention of Vortigern — King of the Britons — when he was a child. Vortigern, in his wisdom, had invited some Saxon mercenaries to Briton to fight with him against the troublesome Picts and Scots. But the problem with Saxon mercenaries is that they couldn't be trusted. Vortigern soon found himself running for his life from the very men he had paid to defend it.

To cut a long story short, Vortigern ended up in Gwynedd, North Wales. More precisely, he ended up on a hill, in which he decided to build a fortress on. Unfortunately, what ever he built, collapsed. Vortigern's magicians told him that he needed to spill the blood of a child without a father, onto the stones. Once he did this, then the fortress would stand.


Dinas Emrys with the River Glaslyn in the foreground.

There was a child, Myrddin Emrys, who seemed a likely candidate. But Emrys was no ordinary child, and he was quite attached to his life and didn't want to die. Nevertheless, he was brought to the usurped King...


"Why have my mother and I been brought into your presence?"

"My magicians have advised me," answered Vortigern, "That I shall look for a fatherless man, so that my building can be sprinkled with blood and thus stand firm."

"Tell your magicians to appear in front of me," answered Merlin, "and I will prove that they have lied."

The History Of The Kings Of Briton.


Emrys challenged the King's magicians and instead gave a plausible reason why the fortress would not stand. He said that two dragons were imprisoned at the bottom of an underground lake beneath the hill. If they set the dragons free, then the foundations of the fort would stand. All they had to do was release the dragons, which they did.

Vortigern built his fort and out of respect, he named the fort after Emrys. He called it Dinas Emrys


But here is where it gets interesting. In 1945 the hill was excavated by archaeologists, and they found an unground lake. So maybe there is a little bit of truth in Monmouth's story after all.



Dians Emrys is now under the care of The National Trust, and they welcome visitors. But walkers are warned to tread softly on the hill, for a dragon sleeps beneath it.

If you fancy finding out what happened after the death of King Arthur then why not check out my historical fantasy series — The Du Lac Chronicles...





Read for Free with 


References 
History of the Kings of Britain ~ Geoffrey of Monmouth
Picture of Knight ~ Pixabay
Merlin prophesies for Vortigern ~ Wikipedia
Dinas Emrys with the River Glaslyn in the foreground ~ Wikipedia
Picture of Dragon ~ Pixabay

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Small Gang of Authors: Hun Mythology #OurAuthorGang

A Small Gang of Authors: Hun Mythology #OurAuthorGang: Mythology and Fantasy Since I was a young child, I was fascinated by legends and mythology, especially Hun legends such as Emese's Dre...

Hun Mythology #OurAuthorGang

Mythology and Fantasy

Since I was a young child, I was fascinated by legends and mythology, especially Hun legends such as Emese's DreamKing Attila, and the legend of Turul bird
.
According to http://turul.info/, the mythical Turul bird is one of the most important symbols of the Hungarians. The Turul is seen as the ancestor of Attila and is often depicted carrying the flaming Sword of God.

The legend of Emese, who was the descendant of King Atilla and wife of Ügyek, once had a dream. As the Turul bird appeared in her dream, a crystal-clear stream started to flow from her. As the water flowed, it grew into a mighty river. It was thought that the dream represented her symbolic impregnation by the Turul, and it meant that she would give birth to a line of great rulers. Emese found out shortly after the dream that she was pregnant. She gave birth to Álmos, who was the father of Árpád, the great leader of the Magyars and founder of Hungary. This legend reaffirms the Hun-Magyar kinship and the knowledge that the Magyars re-conquered Hungary as their rightful inheritance from Atilla's great Hun Empire.

In my fantasy series, The Ancestors' Secrets, I weaved my favorite legends and bits of historical facts into the story, that plays out in the present and past, with intriguing tribal secrets, magical heritage, love triangle, and an exciting and dangerous life in a secret society.

I love this beautiful video about the ancient beliefs, the mythology of the World Tree. It also mentions Attila the Hun and the Turul bird that carries the Sword of God.

Video credit to Mythology https://youtu.be/NLxEl7pnsMc

Read short excerpts from book 1 of The Ancestors' Secrets Trilogy


I lit the sacred candles infused with herbs and then placed them in a silver candle holder on a small round table. The ancient wooden male and female figurines holding hands stood between the candles, with our delicately carved Turul bird with a crown on its head and a sword in its talons. The Falcon held widely stretched wings over the figurines as if protecting them.
The statues had been in my family for centuries, they were small and had a deep, warm brown color. The rich, shiny brown hue came from the hot herbal tea Elza poured over the statues every morning, as my ancestors had done for generations. Beside the statues was an ancient, dark leather-bound book. Its permanent place was on the Prayer table, and every Hun family had one. I had leafed through our book many times. The first few pages remained empty to me, but the rest of the book contained my ancestor’s names and achievements, written in ancient handwriting. Mom had said when I asked her about the empty pages, “The Book will reveal all its secrets to you, but only when you when you reach the age of maturity.” I wondered if I were ready; I was entering into Hun adulthood after all, so I made a mental note to check the book the next day, after prayer time.
Elza wrapped the ceremonial shawl over my shoulders as I took a deep breath and held my hands above the table. I began the prayer by reading the Hun writing, carved into the leather cover of the book of my ancestors. Following the ancient traditions, we prayed as a family in the morning to the First Mother and Father, and we prayed to the Creator at night, in solitude.

Mother and Father leading in unity,
Protected by the Turul for eternity,
Guide my soul and keep my body healthy.
Test my courage and try my patience,
Let me prove I have endurance.
Let compassion always guide me,
Make me wise to help the needy.
Challenge me on my daily journey,
And give me the strength to prove I’m worthy.

Closing my eyes, I held my hands in silence over the table for a minute and embraced the serene feeling I always had while saying the prayer. Warm energy flooded my insides, and I experienced a deep connection to something powerful, majestic and welcoming.
I was still a little angry with Elza for not letting me read her feelings. She was murmuring under her breath, as she did every morning. It was a low, rhythmic humming sound, but I did recognize some of the ancient Hun words. She refused to give me an explanation whenever I asked her about it, but I’d seen her doing the strange whispering, at Morning Prayer, ever since she came to live with us.

***

I turned and saw Joland collapsing on the ground in agony. He held his head with both hands, screaming in pain. I didn’t understand what was happening to him. He didn’t appear to be injured.
Elana made it clear, “It was foretold. The minute the child is born, Joland will lose all his powers.”
I watched Joland wiggling on the ground and then he went still. I thought he was dead, but then he moved. “Curse you. I curse you all,” he shouted.
He stood, climbed up on his horse, and nudging it he started galloping out of the cave. Cheers erupted, and Joland’s remaining army rode after their defeated leader. I dropped the shield and shouted, “Wait, Joland!”
He looked back with a murderous look in his eyes, “What? You defeated me, and I’m nothing but a broken man. I won’t stand your gloating.” He turned.
“I can take you to Morana. You can spend the rest of your life with her.”
He turned back to me and gave me a suspicious look, “Why would you do that?”
“Because… It just feels like the right thing to do.”
He rode closer and slid off his horse. “You would do this for me? After all I have done?”
“Yes, I would.”
He gave me a long and hard look, and then the fierce look on his face slowly softened. Tears filled his eyes and rolled down his face. He knelt before me, “Then I’m your servant,” he said.
Mundzuk drew his sword and took a step toward Joland, “You can’t trust him,” he said with a sneer.
“No, don’t hurt him. He’s an ordinary man with no powers,” I said. “He can’t harm anyone. I will take him to our timeline and unite him with his love.”
Mundzuk obeyed and put his sword back, “You are a noble person, Ilona. I would not have been so generous.”
A sudden bright light poured down from the ceiling of the cave. A 3D picture appeared before us. It seemed so real. The sacred Turul with a flaming sword descended slowly and hovered over us.
“The Sword of the Gods!” I heard Elana’s voice.
I felt a burning sensation on the side of my neck and itching under my left eye as I stared mesmerized at the lifelike image of the magnificent bird.
“Ilona!” I heard Elza’s voice, “There is a mark of the sword etched into your skin, and your Royal mark has changed.” She reached into her pocket handed me a makeup compact with a small mirror. I saw the sign of the Queen on my face.
Mundzuk kneeled, “My Queen.” He said, and the others followed. I looked around frantically and saw everyone kneeling and offering their service and life to me. The kneeling people around me had the expressions of devotion and submission on their faces. Bela knelt with the others and looked up at me with devotion, deep pain, and acceptance in his eyes.
I was stunned and automatically froze time. I was surprised to see the group of spirits still moving, gesturing and every one of them looking at me with expectation.
“Chosen by the Sword is a great honor and also a great responsibility.” I heard Tua’s voice.


This suspense fantasy takes the reader back to the life of people in ancient times.

"You are fate’s shadow or fate’s sun, depending on which way you turn." ~Terri Guillemets

A romantic suspense novella. Dark family secrets separated Emily and Daniel when they were teenagers, but fate brought them together again. Jayden, Emily’s brother, finds a leather book in his grandmother's secret room that was written in 426 by a shaman. Emily can read the ancient runes and finds out that if the family curse remains unbroken, it will bring ruin their lives as it destroyed many of their ancestors' lives for centuries. Can they find the way to break the ancient curse? Could Emily find happiness with her childhood puppy love, Daniel?
"Szabo expertly weaves this story through both today's timeline and that of yesterday's and brings us out on the other side with an amazing ending."

I write fantasy novels, children's books, and health-related books. Visit my website: http://www.authorerikamszabo.com

COMMENTS

Erika M Szabo

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Thank you Rick Haynes! I'm glad you found my post enjoyable and educational :)
 
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Erika M Szabo shared this via Google+

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Mary Anne Yarde

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
I love all things mythological, what a fascinating post, Erika. Great excepts too!
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Thank you Mary Anne :)

Cristina Grau

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
I love Mythology but I was not familiar with this tale. Very nice and great video.
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I love the video too Cristina :) Hun mythology is not widely known, but when I was a young child, I loved listening to the older people's tales about King Attila, the Turul bird and of course, Hungary's famous ruler, King Matyas

T.C. Rypel

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Make that a clean sweep of surprised and intrigued readers with my two-cents' worth here, Erika---I had never heard of the Turul bird either. This, despite being married to a Hungarian, having a stockpile of world-myth books on my shelves, and even having set the entire Gonji "Deathwind Trilogy" in the medieval Transylvanian Alps. (And, in the unwritten story that would immediately precede that trilogy, Gonji is in the service of a Magyar chieftain!)

Great stuff, and a very engaging sample from each of your series books. Consider them added to my tottering reading queue. They read like captivating storytelling. And considering how well you do everything else in your publishing experience, I have no doubt that they won't disappoint.
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Thank you so much for the compliment and for your faith in my ability as a storyteller! I hope reading the series will not disappoint you :) Hungarian history and Hun mythology is not widely known. It was a powerful and proud nation for centuries but bad political decisions made by its leaders, the Trianon Treaty had torn the country apart and the small middle part of the country had to fight for survival instead of nurturing the traditions. The past few decades brought positive changes and historians discovering new facts about Hungary's rich history every day and the ancient writing, called Rovasiras, once again learned by children and adult as well. The Turul became the symbol of Hungary once again and now most Hungarian towns are proudly displaying the statues of the Turul, including the town I grew up in, Sarospatak. Thank you again for your compliment and I hope you will enjoy my Ilona's story :)
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Mackenzie Flohr

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
As someone who also enjoys mythology, I really enjoyed this article and your excerpts. I was not familiar with the Turul bird. Thank you for writing this!
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I'm glad I was able to show you something new Ami :)

Lorraine Carey

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Erika is a most talented author. I've read a few of her books and was able to get transported to another place in time. Yes, she has the ability to take her readers there.
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My pleasure Erika. 
 
+Erika M Szabo You're very welcome! 

Joe Bonadonna via Google+

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Author and illustrator Erika M. Szabo​ is featured today on A Small Gang of Authors, where she talks about Hungarian mythology, which is so integral to her fantasy novels, the Turul bird, and Attila the Hun. She also provides us with a very cool video about the infernal Underworld of Hungarian mythology, as well as excerpts from her novels.
https://asmallgangofauthors.blogspot.com/2017/06/hun-mythology-ourauthorgang.html
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Thank you for sharing my post Joe!
 
You're welcome!

Rick Haynes

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
All countries have legends from the past, the Hun legends unknown to many including me. It was interesting to learn that Attila carried the Flaming Sword of God into battle sweeping all before him. Better still was the details of The World Tree, with the Gods, the Moon and the Sun inhabiting the Upper Tree, whilst humans and mystical beings lived in the Middle Tree. The Lower Tree was the domain of bad souls and evil spirits. An educational post all round.
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Joe Bonadonna

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
As  lover of mythology who often draws up it for inspiration in my own work,  I found this a fascinating article, especially since I had never heard of the Turul bird until today. It's relationship to Attila is something I need to explore in more detail. That cool video has stirred some ideas for a series I wrote for, Heroes in Hell. Thanks so much for posting this, Erika.
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Thank you Joe! Hun history and mythology is not something that is widely known, but it is indeed fascinating :)

Publishing Services via Google+

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Hun Mythology #OurAuthorGang
Mythology and Fantasy Since I was a young child, I was fascinated by legends and mythology, especially Hun legends such as Emese's Dream ,  King Attila , and the legend of Turul bird . According to  http://turul.info/ , the mythical Turul bird is one of the...