Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Legends and Tales

So I love Christmas fiction, but I also love those elusive Christmas legends. I have a soft spot for holiday stories that originate from medieval and European stories that infuse magic with symbolism or the religious. There are some truly spectacular tales out there, and I love reading them, hearing them, and working with them in my own fiction.

A lot of them trace back to Christian beliefs, but no matter what area your faith lies in, I find these to just be really well put together little tales. They’re quick narratives that touch the heart and capture the imagination. I have a favorite in particular: One involves a little French boy who happens to be a hunchback who is skilled at working with wood. He decides to carve a new cradle for his village’s creche, but work piles up and late on Christmas night he’s still slaving away when a boy his age comes into his workshop to help. He falls asleep and wakes up to see not only a beautiful cradle, but finds that he’s been cured of his affliction. When he takes the cradle to the creche his notices that the baby looks quite a bit like a younger version of the boy who helped him.

Whatever your traditions are, I thought I'd share some of my other favorite Christmas legends, and I'd love to hear some of yours!

 The Legend of the Christmas Spider – this one is a German story, and I’ve heard different variations so I’m providing the link. The basic theme is that spiders want to see the Christmas tree (the object of much fuss in the human household) for themselves, but being nearsighted they have to look up close and leave their webs everywhere. Through magic (or a miracle depending on the story) their webs are turned to silver and gold threads, thus giving the world the first inspiration for tinsel.

The Legend of the Poinsetta – A young Mexican girl has no gift to leave at the nativity on Christmas Eve, but gets reassured that even the most humble gift is welcome. With no other options, she gathers a handful of weeds, but when she leaves them at the nativity they’re transformed to beautiful flowers with fiery blooms. I got so much extra credit in Adv. Spanish class for being able to read the Tommy DePaola …mainly because my mother had gotten me the Spanish/English translation of the book the year before for Christmas.

Silent Night – a simple story that may or may not be true. A young priest writes a poem and wants music to go with it, so enlists the help of the church organist. According to someit, on Christmas Eve the organ was broken so it was played on guitar and a legend began. Others theorize that Franz Gruber preferred a simple melody he could play on guitar. Whatever you believe, it’s a story that many people know and love.

Santa’s Helpers…and I don’t mean the elves. Depending on the region, back in the day Santa usually had a servant/assistant/co-person who punished the naughty kids while he gave gifts to the good. This could be everything from taking back the toys, giving coal or switches (that parents would use as a reminder of what would happen if children misbehaved), or in the case of Krampus (admittedly fast becoming a personal favorite of mine), he would put you in his magic sack and drag you to hell. And GUYS DID YOU KNOW ICELAND HAS YULE TROLLS?! AND A YULE CAT!? Apparently the thirteen trolls will either play pranks on you or give you presents. But the Yule cat will eat you if you don't get new clothes by Christmas Eve. So you'd better get shopping!

Talking animals on Christmas Eve – This has to be my absolute personal favorite of the bunch. I first saw this referenced in an Irish faerie/ghost story when I was ten, and since then I love when an author can reference it in fiction. It’s been used by authors from Beatrix Potter (Tailor of Gloucester) to Anne M. Martin (On Christmas Eve), and used deftly and gracefully. The original legend goes something like because animals acknowledged or allowed Jesus into their home on Christmas Eve, at midnight every year until dawn they’re able to talk and communicate like everyone else (although in Potter’s story you have to be able to interpret their animal-speak to be able to get the full gist). I will admit that although I am an adult I may have cornered my cat after midnight every year on Christmas Eve…just in case. 

I love things like this because they stand the test of time and because they give me ideas as an author and all-around creative person. Whether I choose to use any of them or not, I like that there’s such a rich history and story-telling tradition in the winter holidays – and that’s not even counting the history of traditions like wassailing and kissing under the mistletoe or legends behind symbols like holly and ivy. There’s so much to work with, and it’s all beautiful and rich with possibility.

And speaking of symbols like holly and ivy...even though this story seems like a cozy little romantic story with a bit of magic, I can tell you that it very much stemmed from the symbolism behind the plants, as well...

After losing her job and her boyfriend, Holly returns to her parents’ farm. Embarrassed and hopeless, she doesn’t expect to bump into a forgotten childhood friend that wasn’t supposed to exist. Ivy is not only a dryad, but she lives in the pine trees Holly’s family grows to sell at Christmas. As the old friends reconnect, Ivy not only shares her strong oninions, but gives Holly a charm that will change both their lives. As days melt into weeks and the seasons change, Holly’s life magically turns around. Christmas not only brings surprises, but a choice for the human woman. What’s more important: stability, success, and love, or keepinga promise to an old friend?

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Gift of the Editor

The Gift of the Editor

I am not good at editing my own work. I’m ok at first pass, and a second. But… well. I have at least 2 Beta’s who read my work, and their comments on my grammar are awesome. Then there’s RIe, who does not only call me on my grammar but also my content / style.

I can do content editing, but not the rest. And there was one story that I wanted so badly to come out, and I just couldn’t get it there. Rie was my editor through MMP (Thank you, Nicole!), and she figured it out. Once I told her what was going on in the story (flash) piece, she knew exactly what needed to be done.


Garden is one of my favorite stories that I’ve written. I’ve also gotten the best compliment on The Golden Apple and Other Stories because of it. My neice bought and read the book. She liked Cinder’s Ella the most, but she remembered The Golden Apple. Then she told me that she thought the story Garden might help one of her friends who had lost a child…. and that hit me in my heart. At it’s heart, Garden is a story about motherhood, and grief… and love.

I don’t know if she’s shown it to her friend. Or if she did and it helped or not… But I do know that my writing touched something deep inside a reader…. and a reader that I know and love, that I spent my childhood with.

That my friends….

That’s a great editor.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

#New Release: The Golden Apple

 Mocha Memoirs Press proudly presents...

The Golden Apple 

& Other Stories 
by Wynelda Ann Deaver


Step inside a world of pure imagination, where fairytales new and old come to life: 

* Clickety Clackety: Jenna doesn’t quite know how to take the homeless man who keeps after her to play the name game. She’s played along, a good sport. Then one day, she invites him for a cup of coffee and unlocks her past. 

* Cinder’s Ella: Ella doesn’t know what she did to deserve multiple fairy godmothers… especially when they (almost) all get it so wrong! 

* The Golden Apple: Dulcie survived her family with the help of Goat, Bear and Fox. Now she needs their help to add a new member to the family. 

Available Now 

About Wynelda Ann Deaver

Wynelda Ann Deaver has been writing since she learned how to read. Somehow, she survived the local university’s graduate program with her love of fantasy and romance intact. A voracious, eclectic reader she tends to write bright, funny fantasy. Although every once in a while a story will turn dark and twisty, or take place in modern times just to shake things up. Who knows, maybe someday she’ll even do a real romance. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Night Owl Review's Book Lover Contest #NORWinterWonderland

Night Owl Reviews Booklover Contest

This year Mocha Memoirs Press was proud to be a sponsor of the Night Owl Review's Book Lover Contest. The contest ran from mid November and will end December 10th. Which means we are quickly approaching the final hours of the contest and wanted to share the link to prizes to our readers.

Check out the prizes below and the click on the Rafflecopter to join in on the fun and enter for your chance to win :)


5 = $100 Amazon Gift Cards 
5 = $50 Amazon Gift Cards 
18 = $25 Amazon Gift Cards

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The shape of the dream: Fantasy vs. Science Fiction

What other-worldly fiction resonates with the public these days?   For those of us in the other-worldly fiction genre, it sometimes comes down to a question of fantasy or science fiction.  What is the appeal of each to the reader, and what are the disadvantages of each as a tool to the writer in getting across the desired emotions and characters?

Both SF and Fantasy cover such a wide array of sub-genres,  it's hard to pin either down.  Any sub-genre could fit with either one, but some seem to work better with one than the other.  Romance, in the classic sense does seem to blend more easily into the fantasy and paranormal realm than it does with science fiction.  Eroticism often seems like a better fit with SF.

So, what are the core differences between the two genres, and what chords do they strike with the readers?  Obviously, one is based (at least loosely) on science, and therefore is grounded in physical reality and/or its theoretical properties, and the other on magic, therefore grounded in ancient beliefs or new mythology, either of which seems to resonate on some emotional level.  In short, one aims at the head, the other at the heart.

In the realm of fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" captivated the public for decades in print, re-defining the fantasy genre, and then made a big explosion recently as a big-screen adaptation.  LOR is straight action; heroic quest and the war of good against evil.  The female characters are few, though powerful, if only in a symbolic or functionary sense.  J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Christian attempting to paint a stark landscape of uncompromising light vs. darkness.  It aims at the heart of the child and strikes the mark.

In the turbulent 1960's, Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek" was slower to catch on with the public, but the melodramatic character interplay eventually caught on, spawning a cult phenomenon which helped humanize science fiction.  Also simplistic in its way, it offered a wide-eyed, optimistic vision of the future which often manifested in social allegory and symbolism.  Mainly, it tried to tap less into the heart of the child and more into the imagination of the adolescent; striking out for the frontier, challenging the boundaries.

In the tamer 70's, George Lucas's "Star Wars" captured the public's imagination with a technological re-imagining of the Arthurian fantasy genre, fusing science fiction with fantasy.  The magic sword was now a laser beam, the magic of wizards was now a cosmic energy field known only as The Force.  Different tools, but same swashbuckling hero-saves-princess idea.  Back to simple good vs. evil, and it caught the public's heart.  In the aftermath of the Vietnam war and Watergate, the public longed for something clean and innocent.

The books that have captured the enthusiasm of the younger crowds and made it to the big screen currently are another sub-genre of SF:  Post-apocalyptic fiction. ("Hunger Games," "Divergent," "Maze Runner.")  The SF that begins with society's destruction, rather than its advancement.  And, its sub-genre is teen and young adult fiction.  It resonates with the young, perhaps because in these fictional worlds, the adults have destroyed the world and the young protagonists of the future are at war with a new generation of  tyrannical adults who want to control their minds.  (The 60's reborn?)

The fantasy-romance genre that has also captured the young audience currently is of course vampire fiction.  The "Twilight" phenomenon tapped into a simplistic romance formula based on a traditional viewpoint of female virginity and idealized, unconditional love.  A daughter of divorced parents seeking a truly eternal love of undying youth with a boy who loves only her.

As contemporary society seems almost to be devolving back into the turbulence of the 60's, with racism and police brutality coming to the forefront of the public mind through the new technology of social media and protests growing in the streets,  I have to wonder what otherworldly fiction will resonate next with the public?  Will writers in our genre envision a dark future of race war, or a more idealistic future beyond the killing in the streets, or will we retreat into fantasies of gods, angels, demons, brave knights and faery princesses?  We'll see.

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Beginning to Look Like the End of the Year...

Alright then--NaNoWriMo is over. Did you participate? It was a heck of a ride, but I made it. I even got to take most of Sunday off.

But now THAT'S over, what next? It's December, and it is time to take stock of the year. It hasn't been quite the whirlwind of activity last year was--but it has also been a bi less exhausting.

And it isn't quite done. There is still time for you to add a few credits to your resume. There are quite a few anthology calls still looking for contributors. Including ours. Have you submitted to Avast, Ye Airships yet? My friend Diane Jortner just recently made a blog post with a number of anthology calls collected together. You still have time for most of them. ;)

And even if you don't submit anything new before the end of December, take a moment to take stock of what you have managed to accomplish this year. Whether you submitted once or a thousand times, take this chance to make a list, set a goal, write a blog post--somehow chronicle your year, and look forward to what you will do next year!

Last year's goal proved impossible for me...300 rejections was a bit much for anyone...

This year's goal wound up sidetracked by a lot of things--like being burned out from trying to get 300 rejections!--and I didn't get terribly close to my 200 rejections.

Next year, I am going to shoot for 100 rejections. If I push myself, that should be possible. (Especially with my new Dragon Speaking Naturally which should be here any minute...)

What will your goals be for the new year?

December can be an end or a beginning. You get to choose which.