Tag Archives: literature

Call for Papers on Outlander

Seeking a few more essays on Gender, Race, Orientation, and the Other in the Time of Outlander — just email valerie at  with your idea!

 

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon has sold 25 million copies worldwide. More interestingly, it’s said that mentioning Outlander in a group of women, no matter the age, will reveal that a quarter have read it. Now the television show, often called “Game of Thrones for Women” is transforming the popular cable shows, brimming with nudity and violence, as it brings in a specifically women’s fandom…or is it?

This collection welcomes discussion of the television show, novels, John Grey books, short stories, and associated works such as cast interviews, Gabaldon’s blog, or Outlander fan culture.

McFarland has expressed interest in an academic collection of essays on this pop culture phenomenon, which will likely come out alongside season two. Of course, this collection will only go forward if it gets sufficient submissions.

UPDATE: I’m considering splitting the book into two, one on genre and fandom, the other on race/gender/disability/homosexuality/otherness. Topics fitting into these categories are especially welcome.

Final essays 4000-5000 words, MLA format. 100-300 word proposals for your essay topic with optional bio or cover letter should be sent to valerie @ calithwain.com, subject OUTLANDER ANTHOLOGY by June 22. Finished papers due Aug 15. Happy writing!

Subtopics
There are many areas to explore:
Gender Studies: Male courtliness as performance; feminine charm or seduction as performance; Geillis the femme fatale; Claire the WWII nurse; sexism; female gaze, homosexuality in Black Jack, the Duke of Sandringham, and Lord John. Characters such as prostitutes, housekeepers, clan chiefs, and warriors have many interesting gender nuances.
Genre: romance, time travel story, war story, military history, or cross-genre
Adaptation: comparison to other cable shows like Game of Thrones, The White Queen, Camelot, True Blood, etc. Differences between book and show and the motivations behind these. Costumes or music (the blogs by the ones in charge of these are useful resources)
Myth and Folklore: standing stones, circle dancers, gemstone magic, prayers from the Carmina Gadelica, Loch Ness, parallels between Claire’s journey and selkie or fairy kidnapping tales. There’s also the Caribbean stories of book three or Lord John and the Plague of Zombies, Native American myth in the later books, and so on.
History: World War II, the sixties, the Eighteenth Century, witchcraft, the Revolutionary War, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Louis XV, the Count de Saint-Germain
Symbolism: psychology such as Jung or Joseph Campbell, significant objects such as the blue vase, pearl necklace, or wedding rings.
Literature: analyzing the stories as literature or comparison with other important works
Fandom studies
Television studies
Other

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Filed under Books, Call for Papers, Outlander, Pop Culture, Writing

The Old Blog

This is not my first blog, though I’d like to post regularly this time around. My old blog, available at HarryPotterParody.com, my books’ site (specifically at http://66.123.188.52/hpxx/news.htm) offers many of my conference reports through 2007-2008, my Birthright Israel trip in 2006,  the step-by-step details of writing my Harry Potter Parody in ten days straight, and so forth. I believe I’ll copy a few con reports below in honor of Book Expo America this week, one of the best cons ever, even though I didn’t make it this year.

 

6/2/08 Home from Book Expo America at last. (Gone Tues-Sun).  I took only a few photos—far too overwhelmed.  I drove down Tues, attended the Writers Conference/Agent pitch session Weds, and saw relatives Thurs. Then the gigantically overwhelming Book Expo America, (only broken up by my cousin’s Friday night Bar Mitzvah). Sunday as the con ended, I drove home, car packed to the metaphorical rafters with books. 

I think since I was listening to Bridget Jones’s Diary both ways (hilarious!) I’ll organize the trip this way:

Pitch session agents who requested my manuscripts: 12. Excellent.

Pals I knew at the con: 4

New friends made of adolescent authors: 3

Hours spent waiting for signed copy of Eragon: 2

Books picked up while waiting for signed copy of Eragon: 2

Hours spent waiting for signed copy of new Salmon Rushdie: 2

Hours spent wondering why I was bothering: 4

Number of other Harry Potter derivatives: 2 (Mine was cuter!)

People who recognized me or my book: hundreds. Cool.

People who have now heard of my book: thousands. Also cool.

Postcards I hand-distributed: 1000 (Literally).

Books I signed: All (125).

Publishers who requested my manuscripts: About 20. I was busier than last year, but also excellent.

Relatives/friends I visited: six

Relatives I spoke with at the Bar Mitzvah: Probably 14. Cool.

Celebrities I saw: Quite a lot.

Free books I acquired: Hundreds. Very Nice.

Gallons of gas to drive to LA: 10. Sounds good.

Hours spent listening to Bridget Jones: 12

Hours spent listening to other audio books: 3

Hours spent in traffic: wince.

Number of frantic emails in my absence: About 200.

Number of times checked email on trip: Once, briefly.

Number of emails sent on trip: 2

5 am wakeup calls: 4

Hours of missed sleep: wince.

Hours walking while dragging books: almost all of them.

Pissed-off knees: 2

Signings: 2. Both went well.

Booths displaying my book: 3. Nice.

Sample books the booths distributed: about 9 (all of them).

Bananas eaten in place of meals: 5

Free chocolates eaten: hundreds. But they were yummy.

Diet cokes drunk: probably 12

Guess I should finish up like the credit card people and say Conference: priceless. Yawn. The proofs have come for Deathly Paper Shortage. Time to get busy again.

Phoenix Rising 2007

My first Harry Potter con was so cute! Lots of people in costume, lots of fanfic authors and artists, lots of Harry Potter goodies and treats. I spoke on several panels and even a few podcasts. To say nothing of my light up ballgown (which doesn’t photograph well).

 

Book Expo America 2007

The Expo was truly enormous. It seemed every publisher was there, to say nothing of all the booksellers, librarians, and authors. I met lots of really famous ones, like SE Hinton, Dave Barry, Judy Blume. I got to meet all three of them, and get signed copies of the latest books. So cool! Hundreds of authors and publishers were ALL offering FREE copies of their latest books. As you might guess, I picked up piles and piles (and somehow managed to close my suitcase). Also lots of cute freebees and promos– everything from cookie cutters to cookies. 🙂 Lots of new technology: Margaret Atwood was signing books from Canada with this interesting computer option. Lots of interesting publishers and book-related services.  Plenty of hot YA fantasy authors there too.  Some people were interested in my Heroine’s Journey book, but that’ll have to wait till I get back.

 

Westercon 60 2007

Westercon (The Western US scifi fantasy con) was on the small side, but fun, with the people I usually see at Baycon. Dad and I wore costumes (and presented them at the Masquerade) chatted, observed, collected ribbons, and so forth. We also won a few Baycon memberships and loads of other goodies at the Scavenger hunt (first place!). I spoke on a number of panels and sold some books in the dealer’s room.

 

 

Prophecy 2007

This conference took place only a few weeks after book 7 arrived.  I spoke on tons of panels: discussing symbolism in Deathly Hallows and Horcruxes in lit and myth.  I was also a “Visiting Professor” in Mythology and Fantasy Writing.  (Most of my papers and presentations can be found here).  I wore all my beautiful costumes, and sold about 50 books to people in the corridors.  I was definitely amazed by some of the lookalike outfits there (Harry, Voldemort, Luna, Umbridge….)  This con also had gorgeous decorations in the common room (featuring a fireplace, colored cushions, and every HP game in existence) and Hall of Remembrance (with touching shrines to all the characters who didn’t survive the series).  All in all, it was a great con.

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Gallery of Heroes who Tried to Cheat Death

Voldemort is determined not to die. However, he’s hardly unique. His mission is shared by characters throughout literature and myth…let’s see what happened to them all.

Gilgamesh:

Tries to stay awake long enough to become immortal, but fails through human weakness.  Is given a magical plant as a consolation prize, but he fearfully hoards it and a snake eats it.  He’s left sadder and wiser.

Sisyphus:

When he offends the gods, death’s servant, Thanatos, comes to collect him.  Sisyphus chains up death so no one can die, but this causes great suffering in the world. Eventually, Sisyphus relents. On his second attempt to cheat death, Sisyphus warns his wife not to give him a funeral or make offerings to the gods. Once in Hades, Sisyphus begs Persephone to let him return to life long enough to rectify this mistake and thus escapes.  The third time, Hades collects him in person. For Sisyphus’s arrogance, he’s forced to roll a boulder up a hill throughout eternity, only to watch it crash again to the bottom.

Eos:

This Greek Goddess of the dawn, is enamored of a mortal named Tithonus (a prince of Troy and the elder brother of Priam). She bears him away to her eastern palace, and begs the gods to grant him immortality. They assent, but she neglects to request eternal youth. Tithonus grows older and more bent through the centuries, until he becomes so crooked and small that he shrinks into a cricket, forever chirping dryly around her beautiful palace.

Achilles:

That one vulnerable spot on an invulnerable body. Never works– someone always finds it and clobbers it.

Dracula:

His coffin with special earth and supernatural powers give him unnatural strength and immortality. Still, he’s a creature of evil, doomed to feed on the living to prolong his own existence. In the famous novel, a group of heroes track and destroy him.

Voldemort:

His Horcruxes make him immortal, with all six heavily guarded pieces standing between him and death. However, his soul is so fractured he’s no longer human. Unicorn blood, likewise, preserves one through a cursed half-life that most judge undesirable.

Urshima Taro and visitors to Fairie:

When they return from their charmed, timeless lives, they find hundreds of years have passed and all their loved ones have gone. The price for this magical, timeless world is never being able to return.  Often, their ancient bodies can’t sustain them and they die. Notably, a Star Trek episode featuring suspended animation found the same result. (The Neutral Zone).

Death Wish, Requiem for Methuselah, New Frontier:

Several Star Trek episodes have addressed characters alive for centuries who only want to die, since life has nothing left to offer them.

The Holy Grail

Drinking from it can preserve people from death or allow them to live forever.  Few drawbacks, rarely pictured as evil or unnatural. The largest flaw is its inability to be found.

The Philosopher’s Stone

Creates an elixir that makes people younger, prolonging death.  Few drawbacks, rarely pictured as evil or unnatural. The largest flaw is its inability to be found.

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Filed under Harry Potter, mythology, Pop Culture

Hercules and Harry

All heroes travel the same journey.  Still, Hercules and Harry share a startling number of parallels, as both have their greatest foe try to kill them in the cradle, but accidentally offer them a great source of power.  The chart below is not the exact hero’s journey, but an indication of the trials each hero must endure as Hercules attempts his 12 tasks, and Harry journeys from lessons to Horcruxes to Hallows.

Hercules Potter Series Deathly Hallows Skill tested
Labor One – Nemean Lion

Hercules wears its skin for the rest of his labors..

Harry’s first major test is battling the troll. The reward (Hermione’s friendship) is something he carries forever. The first villain in Deathly Hallows is Voldemort, trying to stop him from escaping. Test:

Courage

 

Labor Two – Lernean Hydra  Hercules needs his nephew Iolus Fighting the Hornback (book 4). He swoops and dodges the reptilian creature, with outside help from his broom. Likewise, he sneaks through the Ministry to get to Umbridge. Test: Cleverness

 

Labor Three – Cerynitian Hind   He has to capture it alive Harry learns potions and transfiguration, all very delicate work.

 

The sword has a gentle doe guardian, testing his courage but not threatening him. Test: Care and Caution

 

Labor Four – Erymanthian BoarHercules’s teacher Chiron accidentally killed. Loss of Sirius and other friends. Harry must face the last tests without guidance. Dumbledore is accidentally killed while Harry is questing with him for the Horcrux. Test:

Loss of the mentor

Labor Five – Stables of Augeas An endless, impossible task Homework and classes. A wizard his age creating a patronus is deemed impossible, but Harry perseveres nonetheless. Endlessly waiting in the tent and traveling in search of Horcruxes Test: Patience
Labor Six – Stymphalian Birds Shrieking swarms This echoes the horde of keys guarding the Philosopher’s Stone. A giant deadly snake in Godric’s Hollow Test: Dexterity
Labor Seven – Cretan Bulls  Facing the vast empire of Minos, traveling far away Entering the Ministry, Knockturn Alley, the Hall of Prophecies, the graveyard, and other menacing places Camping in the countryside

 

Test: Exploring through adversity
Labor Eight – Mares of Diomedes

Hercules rescues Alcestis from death

Harry battles the basilisk to rescue Ginny, and then frees Dobby.

 

Rescuing the lady from the ministry (and getting the locket)

 

Lesson: Defending the weak
Labor Nine – Belt of Hippolyte

This mission calls for tact: the queen of the Amazons surrenders the belt freely

Harry convinces Cho to join the DA, and finally wins Cho’s then Ginny’s affection. Harry persuades Kreacher to trust him and to retrieve the locket.

 

Lesson:

Tact and relationships

 

Labor Ten – Cattle of GeryonHeated by the Sun, Hercules bends his bow at Helios himself Defiance of Fudge, Defying the Ministry Harry resists all the ministers of magic and their representatives, the highest authorities. Test:

Battling unjust authority

Labor Eleven – Apples of Hesperides  Hercules wrestles Antaeus, who gets his powers from earth, and kills him in midair He exploits Umbridge’s greed, Wormtail’s honor, Voldemort’s superiority, and more to defeat them. Harry uses the Horcruxes, Elder Wand, and his mother’s protection (which are all supposed to safeguard Voldemort) to defeat him.

 

Test: Exploiting the villain’s power to destroy him.
Labor Twelve – Hound of Hades Facing Fluffy, the three headed dog, guarding the path down to Voldemort .

 

Self sacrifice in the Forbidden Forest Test: Facing death in the deepest pit.

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Filed under Harry Potter, mythology, Pop Culture

I’m back, world

Anyone who’s visited this blog will surely notice the incredible LACK of entries. Yes, as a working writer with nine books by the end of this year (five of which come out THIS year) I consider myself too busy writing to blog. Nonetheless, I get a lot of pressure to in fact blog, and I’ve lately been in the mood to do some short pop culture reviews here and there. My books are about pop culture after all:

  • Teaching with Harry Potter, McFarland. 2012.
  • Harry Potter: Still Recruiting, Zossima Press. 2012.
  • Katniss the Cattail: An Unauthorized Guide to Names and Symbols in The Hunger Games. Talents Publishing, 2012.
  • Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey, McFarland. 2012.
  • From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend, McFarland. 2010.
  • Henry Potty and the Pet Rock, 2006 and 2010. Indie Excellence Award and National Best Book.
  • Henry Potty and the Deathly Paper Shortage, July 2008. Dream Realm Award.

So I certainly have informed opinions on everything from Avengers to The Hunger Games.  I think I’ll start posting the pop culture stuff first, beginning with many of my past conference presentations and continuing into book promotion tips (busy writing a book on that after all). So I’m back, world…let’s see how this goes.

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