Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Herbivorous Witch - Author Notes

Now that a scattering of Tall Tales / Shorter Days are drifting through the digital ether of Kindles and iPads... (with Nook soon to follow)... and with a continuing thank-you to all who recently grabbed a copy..., I thought I would use the blog to share bits and pieces of author-madness behind the stories, one by one, over the next few weeks, and even answer questions if anyone should venture into the seldom tread footpaths these days of blog comments. (See recent GIVEAWAY DETAILS*** added to the bottom of the blog) and btw 2-9-2012 latest installment is here: Jitter - Author Notes.

The Herbivorous Witch

The first short story in On Stranger Winds is a wintery tale, titled The Herbivorous Witch. In describing a general mood - I am reminded of the this passage from Wikipedia concerning the Grimms' Fairy Tales: "first volumes were much criticized because, although they were called Children's Tales, they were not regarded as suitable for children, both for the scholarly information included and the subject matter."

The Herbivorous Witch is not quite fairy tale, yet perhaps disarming with the seeming innocent telling of such genres. It's like the awesome surprise of a snow-day vacation, yet lurking with the danger of frostbite. I tried to recreate the feeling of those hazy days from youth, when evenings were filled with the fascination of heavy snowfalls, and the following day exhausting with snowmen construction; it's about the popping sounds the heating coils make as you thaw yourself safe and cozy by the heater, hot chocolate in your hands. Funny though how small irritants mar bliss. Especially when reality clashes with a human's inability to understand magical realms. And at that I can say no more... I will leave that to anyone who wishes to discuss further within blog comments...

I can say that the story was born from a curious writing process I created for myself while in Seattle during 2007. Given lack of much disposable income, (well remembered for numerous lunches on boiled eggs and vitamins), I began writing to boost my morale. I would scribble, upon waking or just before bed, a deliberate batch of nonsense. The goal was to avoid any seriousness in content. So the lines began as such... "A lost collection of fruit bats gathered on my skin"... or "there is a leaky ghost on my ceiling"... or "the herbivorous witch lives in the woods"..., (and if your interest is piqued, you can actually find the original verse in an undisclosed entry here on the Bindlegrim blog).

Around this time, various stories were started, and halted, and Jitter (the 2nd story in the book) was mostly completed while residing in the northwest, Seattle. It wasn't until moving to Denver, where I experienced regular snowstorms once again, that the poems coincidentally founds themselves at hand. I was posting past poems to the blog, and wondered if I couldn't turn one into a short story, to be included in what was percolating into a book of shorts. Likely inspired by our cottage habitat bordered by a small bit of woods, The Herbivorous Witch was a natural favorite. Between the poem and the setting, I found the story practically wrote itself.  

Ichabod's Cottage, Colorado where The Herbivorous Witch was written.

Do you have any great techniques for writing? This seemed a great method, whereas I have found some tales cumbersome to the telling, while other simply refuse and opt to be left alone in their own forgotten folder on a laptop.

In closing, I would like to express my experience as an author submitting this story. As I was exploring the adventure of self-publishing from every angle, I was simultaneously submitting the book to various magazines (especially those accepting of possible reprints). While a certain number declined unremarked, I received one wordy review though it was seemingly scathing! This reader described the characters as unlikeable, and yet described them spot-on, as written, with all their intended human foibles... (irritants of bliss as it were). I was told this undermined the story, which I also found humorous, because the reader finished, then felt necessary to "quite frankly" detail the awfulness of it. Contrary to their helpful (?) intent, I was "quite frankly" delighted! This person was not my audience; this person would not appreciate a good story like Shirley Jackson's The Lottery. I like to believe the story shocked that particular reader, and if so, is an absolutely fantastic result! But enough about my fibrillating ego...

After all of this babble and scribble, I would love to hear what YOU thought of the story, or some aspect of it. Or even just your thoughts on writing techniques. Thank you for listening, sharing, and a big thank you to those who have taken time to explore this or other stories in the book.

Bindlegrim books in need of a new home. PS - Cover art is by David Irvine

*** GIVEAWAY DETAILS ***

1) Leave a blog comment here about witches, about writing, stories you like, or better yet about The Herbivorous Witch.

2) For each next six blog entries, I will draw randomly at the end of that week to give someone who commented a signed printed copy of Tall Tales Shorter Days.

3) At the end of the six blog entries I will draw from all comments (more comments, more chances to win) for one  Bindlegrim lantern - The Horrid Decor (Orange on Ghost Skin).

Note - Bindlegrim encourages and hopes, but does not require, that readers might leave a Like or a Review on the Amazon pages for the book: print or e-book.

*** GIVEAWAY DETAILS ***


*** And this weeks book winner! ***

Good evening! And congratulations to tonight's winner of a printed copy of On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days! (See updated post). A screen shot of each comment was folded to the same size, shaken, and the first one to fall back out of the Trick or Treat canister declared the winner! All entries will be entered in the final drawing for the lantern (shown above), a few weeks from now. Thank you all again!


*** This weeks book winner! ***

18 comments:

  1. Now I am up to speed. Ordered a copy from your etsy shop. Will happily review it in my blog. Happy Halloween.

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    1. Goodness! And here I am all set to give out copies for free. Well, I most certainly thank you for the etsy grab and therefore non-partial review. My next book - Zen & the Art of Reading Book Reviews. ;-) Happy Halloween!

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    2. Its priced well and we all need to support Halloween artists. Still want to win a lantern. LOL

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    3. Consider your name in the hat!

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  2. Fun Aaron! Whenever I read your writings about "The Herbivorous Witch", I always wonder if she truly eats only plant material, or does she also eat men named Herb?

    I need to read it again, but my best memory of your story is her perched on the gate in the snow with her long green nose, then floating towards the window. Even as an adult, I find this imagery very creepy, like the film "Insidious". And that makes me not trust that she's truly herbivorous.

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    1. Haha! Good question Rich. Maybe we can bring her and Herb "to the table" for a leafy green salad and see what happens... ;-)

      I have to refresh my memory on Insidious. Have you seen the new Guillermo del Toro movie, Mama? His films are always amazing.

      Really appreciate you stopping by for the comment, and particularly for your recollection of the story's imagery.

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  3. Aaron, "Insidious" frightened me as an adult more than any movie I've seen in years. "The Lipstick Demon" is terrifying.

    I've not yet seen "Mama" but it's on my "to do" list, I've seen the trailers.

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    1. Lipstick Demon? Gotta love the title. I'll check into it.

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  4. I found my way here from Pumpkinrot.com and, timely enough, I had a nightmare about witches about a week ago. There were five of them in this town, and once a year they rode out through the hills and would snatch a person, then leap off the cliffs into the sea and disappear. If you threw a handful of human teeth in their path, they had to stop and give one of the people back that they'd stolen over the years. I don't know. It was weird. I do love giveaways and books, so I figured I'd leave this here.

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    1. The great pumpkinrot! I need to send a thank-you.

      Your witch vision is incredible, and makes a great story. I would love to hear more of it. I imagined the inhabitants occasionally stealing teeth from the dead to fend off these witches? Or worse yet pulling them from their own mouths in a pinch!?

      I will certainly put your name in the hat, for a book, and at the end of the next few blog entries, for a lantern. Thank you for stopping by here!

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  5. My reading list is sadly neglected but having stumbled upon this post my interest is piqued and I shall have to do a search on my iPad and put Halloween reading first and foremost... after my cuppa tea!

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    1. I welcome that stumble, and may this help re-animate your list. As short stories, they just might be good tea-side reading before you've reached the tea leaves. :)

      BTW, the book is a free loaner right now from the kindle/ipad library.

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  6. Thanks for the opportunity to win! I have written a few stories, mostly ones told by my great grandmother. I noticed that the older versions of witches had them somewhere between a ghost and a demon instead of starting out as human. Maybe it is just the local tales of Virginia that paint this picture. Thanks again for the opp!

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    1. A priceless treasure in countless ways to have those passed to you by your great grandmother! Who likely had them passed down to her? That alone is an interesting tale! A very curious instance of witches, I would love to hear more about them.

      This reminds me I wanted to read the Firefox ghost stories. Back in the day, during storms in the South when the lights would go out, my dad would read these to us by a hurricane lamp.

      Thank you for the comment and I will put your name in the hat for a book this week, and a lantern at the end of the "author notes" entries. Regards!

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  7. Thanks to all who commented thus far, and comments are still welcome!

    This Sunday evening, I will pick from those who commented this week on The Herbivorous Witch.

    Next week I will begin another round for a 2nd print book, when on the same Sunday evening I plan to write a new blog entry for the 2nd story, Jitter.

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  8. Found your blog via good old Pumpkinrot, and have just spent the last hour exploring it. As a lifelong child of Halloween and a bibliophile to boot, I'm having difficulty expressing just how much cozy, curious, spooky connection I feel toward basically everything you post - from leaky ghosts to Krampus, from images to words. Hats off to you, sir!

    The best friend I will ever have known always used to call me, very fondly, their spookywitch and their swamphag. The nicknames came from my too-long and slightly obstinate mess of hair, which she always said belonged more to a creature cloistered away in a creaky cottage in a wilderness just beyond reality than to a university student. Your blog and The Herbivorous Witch remind me of those nicknames and that feeling, the best feeling in the world: finding other people out there who share your love for fuzzy fruit bats and cocoa on a night whistling with winds.

    Thank you for opening up this giveaway! But more importantly thank you for what you do. Consider yourself officially bookmarked for many future visits.

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    1. Wow thanks! (blush)...

      I love your hair story! Great to get a comment from a "spookywitch"... :) My kind of crowd. And sounds like an awesome photographic series! Spookywitch goes to college!

      Thank you so very much for the bookmark, the connection, and supporting hot cocoa and especially the bats! Reminds me how much I miss the night exhibit at the Seattle zoo - sloths and bats - what could be better???

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  9. Good evening! And congratulations to tonight's winner of a printed copy of On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days!(See updated post). A screen shot of each comment was folded to the same size, shaken, and the first one to fall back out of the Trick or Treat canister declared the winner! All entries will be entered in the final drawing for the lantern (shown above), a few weeks from now. Thank you all again!

    ReplyDelete

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