Tag Archive | history

Folklore and Mermaids

I have been writing a research paper this semester on mermaids.  Possibly a strange topic, yes, but I’m loving it.

As such, I have found many, many links of credible mermaid tales. Now, I am defining mermaids as any creature that can live in the water; just a woman with a tail and two arms. However, here are some of the best ones.

Humanity.org has about ten stories from around the world.  Beautiful Mermaid Art has quite a few from around the world as well. However, none of them have references as to where he found them, and there is no way to contact him to ask for his references.

The story of Ne Hwas is a native American tale and probably the only one on the site.

Google books proved almost invaluable, as they provided complete text of some books, such as Fairy and Folk Tales of Irish Peasantry and Myths of China and Japan. For any Irish tales, you want to look for merrows. For the China and Japan book, look at the Island of the Blest and The Kingdom Under the Sea. I also used it to access Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, Legends and superstitions of the sea and of sailors in all lands and at all time, the Mermaid of Loche Lene and Other Tales and some partial texts such as Magickal mermaids and water creatures.

Sacred-text.com provides extensive texts from many cultures. Among them, I found Of the Pretty Girl and the Seven Jealous Women,

Surlalunefairytales.com also has a listing of many folktales. Those related to mermaids include: Fortunio and the Siren,  The Mermaid of the Magdalenes, and The Story of Urashima Taro, the Fisher Lad. It also includes the text of The Little Mermaid and other mermaid tales.

D. L. Ashliman collected a number of stories on water spirits. Quite a good place to go look.

Lastly, Gutenburg is almost just as good of a source as google books, if not better. There I have found The Mermaid of Zennor, The Water-Nix and The Nixie of the Millpond.

The History of Mermaids has hundreds of mermaid sightings recorded, many of them with sources.

So that’s about all I have.  Hope you enjoy. Do you know of any other great sources for folklore?

Edit: I have found another source for mermaid research called Wonders of the Deep. Haven’t read a whole lot on it, but the little bit I did get is very good. This entry about Liban (or Li Ban or St. Murgan) is one of the best I have found as well.

Edit 2: I uploaded my paper that I wrote using these sources. Please remember that if you copy it for your paper, it’s called plagiarism and is worth a failing grade in most English classes. It compares mermaids from different cultures of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa and America. It briefly looks at mermaids’ appearance and personality variances. It also includes my biography. You can find it in my writing tab as a PDF near the bottom.

Do not laugh at the science fiction writer.

Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it’s the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. …Science fiction is central to everything we’ve ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don’t know what they’re talking about.

Ray BradburyBrown Daily Herald, March 24, 1995

I’ve never actually read anything written by Ray Bradbury. (I honestly don’t have the time at the moment.) However, between this and how he defines science fiction, I think he may be very interesting.

the real reason finals stink

i don’t want to go into much of what is going on in my life here, but in all honesty, I’m not having a good week. What? How can you not have a good week when the number of days left in the semester is in the single digits? Actually, I think that is the exact reason why.

See,  one thing that I’ve been noticing this semester, compared to last semester, is how easily the plots flow. Last semester I didn’t have anything except Giant’s Wife, took me the whole semester to write, so everything was fine. Once the semester ended, life went on and I came up with plots. (Before that, I feared I lost the ability to come up with plots.)

This semester, I started writing stories and I wrote Dragon Slayers, Miles’ Love, When Darkness Swallows (If you count that one. I also wrote that over Christmas break.), and Samuel Brackborn. Some of those are pretty good too.

But now, I’m just dry.

I’m trying to plot my next story, “To bed Held.” And I figured out far enough to know that there has to be a triangle of distrust. Kenneth has to not trust Carmen, Carmen not trust Edmond, and Edmond not trust Kenneth (and Jeff but Jeff is unconscious most the story.) But how to get Carmen to distrust Edmond is beyond me. What to write for them is beyond me.

What’s worse is that I’m too tired to write. I don’t know how many of you have noticed but writing takes a lot of energy. If you write while you’re tired, you don’t write well (generally). I just feel drained.

So I think that I basically can’t plot anything. Apparently I have too much stress. Which is sad because I don’t feel like I have a lot of stress right now. In some ways, these last two weeks have been some of the most relaxing weeks for a long time.  But finals are next week, two tests on Friday, and an extra shift of work on Thursday. And I’m also trying to find a way to raise $1000 for a trip to Canada this summer as well.

So now, I can’t wait until finals are done. Not because of the stress and excessive studying but because  when I am done, I can write once again. And at least initially, the stress will be relieved.

Until then, I think when I want to work on something I’m going to work on Shad. I haven’t worked on that in a long time and I was suppose to be finished with editing it by the end of the month. (I would be editing Miles’ Love but my sister lost it on me.)

Fifty ways I distract myself from writing

To aid all writers in their pursuit of distractions.

  1. Play a new game, either on facebook or download a freebie from the internet
  2. Check facebook.
  3. Clean that room i’ve been putting off cleaning, like the bathroom.
  4. Shower
  5. Read blogs telling you about how to not be distracted while writing and other fun writing things.
  6. Do internet searches to help you with the topic you must write about.
  7. Read a book.
  8. Talk to someone on the phone or in person.
  9. Work on homework
  10. Run spell check
  11. Play with my hamster.
  12. Make a snack.
  13. Make coffee.
  14. Take the dogs on a walk.
  15. Design a header for the blog.
  16. Check my blogs’ stats.
  17. Check my friends’ websites
  18. Write blog posts for the next three weeks. (Just in case I don’t have time one day)
  19. Knit
  20. Watch TV or movies.
  21. Do both 19 and 20 at the same time.
  22. Look up knitting patterns.
  23. Wash dishes
  24. Read old blog posts.
  25. Check weather forecast.
  26. Find wallpapers for the computer.
  27. Play video games, with and without siblings or friends
  28. Play games with siblings friends.
  29. Read amazon review about a book I plan on buying maybe.
  30. Study another language. (Or two, or three.) (I want to learn Hebrew and ASL, not like that matters.)
  31. Take a nap.
  32. Go on a walk “for inspiration.”
  33. Stop the dog from getting into mischief.
  34. Stop dogs from barking.
  35. Make dinner.
  36. Check school email.
  37. Check personal email.
  38. Click on ads for money.
  39. Debate about commenting on  a friend’s blog post.
  40. Take profile pictures for facebook.
  41. Edit profile pictures.
  42. Watch Siblings play video games.
  43. Memorize medications for nursing test.
  44. Figure out my classes for next semester.
  45. Check my grades.
  46. Go on a bike ride.
  47. Encourage my mim-garden to grow.
  48. Go to Wal*mart to pick up something “important.”
  49. Find itouch apps.
  50. Draw pictures of my characters.

So there you have it. Fifty ways that I manage to distract myself from writing. I’m ever so sneaky. :D

    six tips on the art killing characters

    When I first began writing, I was fourteen, very naive, very young, and figured that the best way to get a stunning (as in the reader is stunned) ending was to kill off an unsuspecting character and shock the reader. My logic was that if the principle is true that, “People live, people die, life goes on,” that should apply to books as well.

    Then, I grew up a little, became a little more knowledgeable about the art of killing characters, but just as naive to death. (I am very fortunate in that I haven’t had anyone close to be die.)

    Fact: There is truly an art to killing off characters in a book. And here are five tips to help you along.

    1. You can’t kill characters just because. Character’s death need to have a purpose in the story, or the reader feels cheated. It’s like the idea of when they decided not to kill Hans Solo in the last Star Wars episode.

    On that same note….

    2. When the reader looks back, the reader has to [pretty much] agree that the death was for the best. The reader will again, feel cheated and think that the death was a waste.

    3. Have a logical death. Saying that a character dies suddenly, unless that is part of the reason for the death, will not go well with the reader.

    4. Don’t resurrect  too many characters. If you’ve seen Alias, you might know what I mean. Killing off a bunch of characters, and then constantly having them pop up throughout the whole story  is just… boring. That also applies to ghosts. Ghosts are not good.

    5. Don’t be afraid to do it. Maybe you’re not like me and you like your characters and you can’t imagine killing any of them off. But you keep thinking that by having Bob die, it would solve three of your problems that you are having. But you don’t want to be dark and gloomy and sad and depressing. But, it really would help.

    Do it. Sometimes killing a character is the hardest thing that you will never have to do, and the best for your story. Chances are that most people won’t think you’re dark just because you kill one (or two) characters. (And to be honest, if you really are extremely dark, you won’t care about it being too dark.)

    6. Listen to the characters: Sometimes the characters themselves tell you that they need to die. In my first real novel, I knew the leader of the rebellion did not make it to the end. Now, when I began writing I thought he died in one place and he ended up dying later on. But I still did let him die. So don’t try to save the characters when they tell you that they will die. It makes your life easier for starters.

    Slight announcement: Due to Passover starting tonight, I will not be posting a post tomorrow. Posts will resume on Wednesday as normal.

    bookstore = desire to write

    So, if you are new to my blog you might not know that I live in small town South Dakota. Due to this slight location difficulty, I can get to a book store perhaps once every couple months, due to it being an hour away. But, bookstores are always a source of interesting emotions to me.

    Being a science fiction writer, I often find myself checking out the recent release and other books that appear good in science fiction/fantasy section. I never buy books in the store and rarely do I buy books off of Amazon. The reason? A lot of it has to do with I’m too worried about getting a bad book. A lot of it has to do with my strict determination to maintain a sense of morality in what I read, that sense of morality being low swearing and low on sexual references/sex, if any.

    But worse is that recently I haven’t found anything that I have actually wanted to read. I’ve liked some Orson Scott Card books, so I think I’m going to see what he does outside of Ender’s universe. (I saw Treason today and it looked interesting.) And actually Asimov looks very interest in some of his other books, so I’ll look at those. But in general, the new books are rather dull.

    Which leads me into why bookstores are very unique for me. They make me want to write. Either I am incredibly unique in my interests, or there are other people out there who want to read what I want to read.

    So my solution? I’ll write what I want to read. Obviously, that isn’t the best solution in the world. For one, it means that my writing skills don’t really improve with what I read. But in all honesty, is what is put out right now worth basing one’s writing skills on? I learned almost more about characters from reading a Charlotte Yonge (circa 1850) than I have from anything else. And I don’t see what people are doing thus far in science fiction. For all I know, someone has already written every story that I want to write. (Although my opinion is that by writing something that may have a little bit of three or four authors ideas, along with some of my own, it automatically becomes all mine. That is a whole entire blog entry.)

    I would like to be able to read the kind of stories I like but I don’t know how to find them. Actually, what’s really bad is sometimes I want to just sit down and read a story that hasn’t been written at all, just to know where it ends up. But I like the idea of writing and by seeing how much  there isn’t in Barnes & Noble to read, it makes me want to write, and get published all the more.

    On one other note, there seems to be a lot of fantasy published right now. I’m not sure why. Maybe it has to do with the Twilight craze or something. But my (probably faulty) logic is that eventually publishers are going to stop wanting to publish fantasy and go more towards science fiction again. I need to be there with my book, sooner rather than later, because if this happens, I want to have a shot.

    Since, another one of my (probably faulty) logical deductions is that recently publishers have been accepting younger authors’ works. It used to be the case that authors were generally in their fifties or sixties and now they can be younger. If, for some reason, they see this as a bonus (more stories to be written by a younger author = more money maybe?), then I also have an advantage. (Although being the eldest of four, turning twenty-two this year and still hardly anything done in life, I’m questioning my youth on occasionally. Mentally, I’m still very young but age wise… ? Yeah, okay, I still look like I’m a teenager.)

    So, this ended up being a giant ramble but to summarize so you’re not completely lost, I want to read good books. But good books are difficult to find, even in bookstores. So I write the books I want to read and hope that someday (preferably sooner) they’ll be published so others can read them as well.

    One thing that I would like to ask published authors if you are reading this. I would be much more likely to read your book if I knew what I was getting into with morality before I began reading it. Don’t need to know the details like how many times they say F***. Just general comments would suffice. Thank you.

    what is this about?

    I was going to write today about why I write science fiction but I’ll have to save that for Sunday because I need to vent a little bit.

    Last semester at college I took my first, formal English class, just you’re basic English 111. One of the things that the teacher taught was that all papers, no matter what, need to have a thesis statement, that is, a reason why this is being written. Even in our narrative papers about our life we needed to have a thesis statment.

    NOw, for developmental psych, we need to write a paper about our lives. I’m finding this very difficult because it is so broad and I tend to write long. What do I include? how much? How can I still make it intertwining?

    I asked the teacher today if he could give us a thesis statement about what he would be looking for. Something like,  In my life “I have experienced many happiness and sadness and these things made me a better person in the long run.” would have made me perfectly happy. By asking him for a thesis statement, I am merely asking for an explanation about why he wants us to write this.

    But all he can say is talk about what made you what you are.

    I can’t include everything with that! I’ve moved seven times already!

    The other bad part is that I don’t like this teacher. The best way to describe him is crude. I’m not going to spill the multitude of emotions that came when my parents almost got a divorce to him. Nor am I going to talk about the pretty much poor relationship I have with my dad. Or the struggle I’m having with my brother. I don’t trust him and I sure don’t want to tell him all of that.

    I think I now understand why thesis statements are really important. Besides letting the reader know what directly my writing will take, the wrier knows what direction to take. Maybe it’s almost like a prompt in the sense that start writing here about this and just keep going until you’re done with the story or whatever else you’re writing.

    An outline would also be helpful with this, although I’m going to write my next story without an outline again. I think I work better on short stories like that.

    Anyone else have experiences with thesis statements?

    family and writing don’t mix

    I started officially writing on February 14th, 2003. I know that because we were traveling to Springfield for Valentines day, I wanted something to do in the car, so I took the computer and wrote my first sentence. After that, I just kept writing.

    I don’t remember how my brother, Oliver, began reading my stories. He was eleven; I was fourteen, but I would write them and he would read them. I must have realized that I wanted to get better, because I would end by wanting feedback so badly at the end, and he would never be able to give me much.

    Then began the writing contest at the library that August and soon afterwards I started one of my longest projects, along with role playing. Over the next four years, I worked on a story called Hope (I actually rewrote Hope once, because it started out so poorly and with no character.), role played with my friend and wrote ETOLT. This is when I learned a lot about characters.

    But, because it took me practically four years to write Hope, Oliver grew up, I grew up, and I didn’t want Oliver to read the story, nor did he want to read them.

    But Elianna did. (My sister.) She wanted to read Hope, and as soon as I printed it out and said that she could read it, she read it. I gave her my old, old stories I wrote when I was fourteen and she read those too. She even liked to read the short stories I wrote for the writing contest while I was writing them.

    Elianna is, or maybe was, my plotting buddy. No, she couldn’t give me a lot of ideas but she let me tell her my ideas. She knows almost most my stories because I tell her them all before she reads them. (It doesn’t help when I want to know what does she think of X’s surprise, but… ). She jokes that when I get a book published, I need to dedicate it to her.

    No one else in my family though really seemed to care that much. My mom ( who is bad with names) never could seem to follow my stories. Moreover, she’s a slow reader, so reading a book of mine would take her months. My other brother hates reading. My dad… I don’t know, I just don’t like the idea of him reading anything. And Oliver became too critical for me to want him to read anything, even if I thought he did. (It’s easier to have a stranger read it.)

    The problem is I don’t know what to think of my sister anymore. Part of the reason that we could plot together is because we went to bed at the same time. However, we rarely do that now, myself going to bed an hour later than her. Also, it isn’t fair that when we talk, it’s me who does all the talking. So when it comes down to it, we don’t have much of a chance to talk anymore.

    Besides that, I’ve finished a bunch of things but she wants me to print it out for her and then maybe she’ll get around to reading it. I had Shad printed for five or six months before she decided to read it. (She then read it in 3 days, and I think she liked it a lot.) When I asked her if she wanted me to print something for her to read, she changed the topic and didn’t really say anything.

    I understand that she might be outgrowing the desire to look up to her big sister all the time. (Which, for those who are younger, is very scary.) But I wish that if she didn’t want to read it, she would just say, “Abigail, I don’t want to read your story.” I think she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings but it’s harder when she doesn’t say it flat out than to have her beat around the bush and pretend she wants to. (With this particular incident, I mentioned something to my mom and she said to print it and she’ll read it. Hasn’t yet but someday.)

    I write because I like to write. I write because I have hundreds and hundreds of stories popping into my head constantly and I need to get them out. I write for others to read. If I could have some of my books published and not gain a penny from it, right now I think I would be happy with that. I just want people to read what I wrote and enjoy it. (That enjoying part is the key here. :) ) But I don’t have any friends to read what I wrote. I don’t have any much in my family who want to read it (including my sister).  But I do wish that people would read it, enjoy, and then tell me what I do wrong so I can get better.

    introducing Abigail

    On the outside, Abigail looks normal. Long, brown hair that is always pulled back and bangs. Brown eyes. White skin. Not extremely super-model thin but not fat either. Built rather averagely actually. To anyone, she looks perfectly normal.

    But, she’s not. See, although she looks normal and acts normal, she has one slightly problem. The whole world is smaller for her than for you.

    Take, for instance, snow. Snow is beautiful, white falling flakes that you can sit on our couch and watch as it falls outside. For her, the snow must either be very large flakes or she must focus on a dark background right against the window to see them coming. Details in prints, like the back of a tiny-striped couch or a skirt, more blend together so the predominate color is visible.

    Forget about trying to see eyes. Emotions in eyes are a foreign concept to her. Then, also, when people are looking at her, she can’t be sure, because she can’t see what way people are looking. Finger pointing in a class doesn’t help too much because although they might be pointing at her, they also might be pointing at any person around her. She can’t tell.

    What about people in general though? True, at a table she can see expressions and eyes and mouths and quite a lot. But anything further than five feet is difficult. People are recognized by body shape and now they walk. Voices also help, but if she doesn’t know them very well, than she will not see anyone farther than five feet. And if someone is waving at her from quite a distance, she probably won’t even know about it.

    About reading, it is possible, but she reads closer than most people do and is often told by people that she really should look at getting glasses. About six inches is the max distance she can read normal font. Street signs are impossible, although store signs across the street can be read usually.

    So why does this matter? Because we always read about the poor cripple who goes on the quest or the blind or deaf person. What we never consider is what if someone viewed the world through a pair of binoculars backwards? This character obviously won’t look different but she still is and, although it is possible to adapt, it is still hard after twenty-one years.

    What made me think of something like this? Because this is me. Strangely, I’ve never been tempted to write a story about myself like that. Maybe because I don’t want to glorify it or maybe a big deal out of it. I answer questions if someone asks but no one has really asked. So anyway, this is me and there’s nothing I can do about it. Maybe you can use it in writing, maybe not.

    The funny thing is actually that, except for role playing, I’ve only once written a story with someone who is disabled in some way, and that was in 2003.  I realized yesterday that everyone I write about is usually very good at what they do. I also realized on the flip side that everyone who is really good at what they do practiced a lot. Shad is a really good pilot but what does the captain say right off? (No. I don’t expect you to know.) He reminds his son that Shad has more hours than anyone he knows in the simulator. Shad also has been working for the last nine years of his life as a pilot. So it makes sense.

    But what do you think is better? Do you think that it is more interesting to write a story about someone who is crippled or not? How would making your characters crippled, either from a recent accident or something they’ve been born with, change your story?

    short stories

    I recently updated a bunch of pages on the side bar to your right, but never mentioned anything about them. Giant’s Wife is all stored there, along with many of my other more recent short stories. I suppose most of this will just be a directory but it’ll also have summaries of the stories if you would care to read them.

    We’ll start with the top. Obviously, about the writer is a little bit of background information about me, Abigail. Has a picture too if you’re curious. :)

    Darkness Swallows was originally called Kontyo for those who have read back entries. As the eldest son of the minister of interplanetary affairs, Kontyo never saw much of a need to behave. He knew that he would inherit his father’s title and continue living in luxury all of his life. That changes when an accident happens and he decides to leave for the sweeper ships instead of facing at least a year in prison, only to discover that some mistakes can’t just be undone.

    Flashes of Imagination: At fourteen years old, with only writing for six months, my brother brings me a poster for a writing contest at the library. Everyone urges me to enter, only, why would I want to show the part of myself to someone? This is a true story based off of, obviously, the first time I entered a writing contest in 2003 or so.

    Pay the Writer: Not a story. I’m just asking for you to sign up to a place to help me earn amazon giftcards if you really like my writing.

    The Giant’s Wife: I will just refer you to the front page. I have the summery posted there. That story is significantly longer than many of the other ones, which is why there is five parts to it. I’ve been posting one a day since December 17th and I’ll be done by Sunday I think. After that, I’ll be adding the index differently so the story will collapse.

    Turning Crow Calls into Beauty: Lowri hates being the daughter of a rich merchant, she hates growing up and she hates having to learn to be a lady. But more than anything, she hates that stupid, ugly harp that her mother is convinced she can play and would rather do anything except practice.

    What to Write: How does one find that magical inspiration that makes someone want to write? Who knows. Sometimes, it just happens.

    That’s everything for now. Make sure you look in the side bar ever so often for more stories, because I will be adding them. I don’t think I’ll be adding Shad right now, if at all, although I like it a lot. (It’s also 85,000 words.)