School’s Out for Summer!

Just popping in for a quick update.

There’s been a few things going on since WordsThaw. First and foremost, I’ve handed in my last two essays today and thus, except for a couple weeks of pining nervously while awaiting grades, school is out for me. Hooray!

Second, I’m temporarily moving to the next province over as part of my university’s co-op work program, so I’ll be riding about in Edmonton for the summer.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, I have a month of in between to do whatever I want.

Which, of course, means that I will be writing.

I’ve got a few projects on the go, including Firebird, of course, and I will endeavour to keep this updated with my wordcounts and other, more exciting things such as blurbs on awesome authors I’ve been reading, historical facts, China, and I may even bring back Monster Monday.

I’m currently barn-sitting for a friend of mine. I’ll leave you with a nice, afternoon picture of the chickens I’m looking after. Cheers!


#Wordsthaw 2014, now with pictures!

It was a tough commute today, but dozens of brave, pioneering individuals slogged through the fierce, snowy conditions–the very same cold, white, heartless substance that closed the Coquihalla Highway and subjected southern climates to a brisk dusting–affecting the commute in Victoria, BC to attend this year’s Wordsthaw event.

So today it snowed in Victoria, BC, CANADA

This was three feet from my car. Mortifying.

What is Wordsthaw, you ask? Well! Wordsthaw is an annual symposium hosted by The Malahat Review, targeted for the local, literary-inclined (although there was a presenter from as far away as Perth, Ontario, and a few brave souls up from the States). I first heard about Wordsthaw in the writing class I’m taking this term, in which my professor always keeps us in the know about what events and contests are happening and how we can take part.

At first, I wasn’t going to go. I was way too broke to waste money on symposiums and seminars and what-have-yous, and I should probably do homework instead, or pre-emptively write some essays that are due next month, or, you know, anything that could justify to the part of me that wanted to go into believing that this rational, hard truth was reality.

Then I won a raffle for a full weekend pass.


At first I was like :)

I’ve come to realize that 90% of the photos I’ve distributed of myself online are wearing this same blue shirt.

Yep. I was so going. And it was an awesome time. I had to miss the prequel event on Thursday, as I had a prior engagement at the barn I work/ride at, but I broke a few speed limits on Friday in order to make the first pass-only event. It was a reading (several readings, actually) by eight authors and poets I’d never heard of (sorry!), but some of whose work I probably now own because…

…I won the door prize:

And then I was like 8D!!!!!!

I hope you guys don’t think I only have one shirt. Because I definitely have other shirts.

Just look at all that loot. I made out like a bandit. Please excuse the wreck of a bed. This room had the best lighting for this sort of thing and, located just off screen is the cat who had annexed the sheets. There was to be no disturbing her for silly selfies.

Anyway. I had a great time. Attended a panel on Social Media, so you can expect a lot more activity from me on that front, met a few new friends including blogger Leanne Dyck and author/live-tweeter-who-I-first-met-when-we-followed-each-other-during-the-symposium Gillian Cornwall (@KilaNalu). Learned a lot, lurked a lot, and generally had a blast.

And just look at all that loot. You bet your butt I’m going back next year.

On another note, that isn’t all that I’ve won this week (weekish, I’m kind of late on reporting this. Sorry!)

Swooning over C.L. Foster's Grip of Mortality

Look at that swoon.

I am the lucky recipient of C. L. Foster‘s Grip of Mortality. She’s recently released a new book, Truth Seeker, which came out on Friday.

Apparently displaying a cover image and a link is too much for my blog this morning, so you have to make do with this text link where the image would normally be. Click here for Truth Seeker.

…and on that shameless plug, I’ll bid you all adieu. If you’re in the area next year, you should definitely come to Wordsthaw 2015. If not, come anyway.

Anti-Bully Project

Hey everyone. It’s a bit quiet around here, isn’t it?

Just wanted to pop in and let everyone know that I’m not dead and that there is, in fact, a contest going on. One where YOU can win MONEY.

Well, sort of money. Money at Amazon. The bookstore.


As part of the Anti-Bully Project, I’ve donated a 25$ Gift Card. Click HERE for the entry rafflecopter.

Good luck, and be sure to check out the rest of the Anti-Bully Project. There’s even merchandise. I bought myself a snazzy hat this year!


Radio Interview

Just a quick note that I’ll be interviewed live over at Shelf Stacker on Blog Talk Radio tonight at 5:00 PST.

Click here for the link.

My non-writing work has picked up lately, which is good. Means I get to buy a bunch of pre-made covers. Unfortunately, it has decimated my mythology posts and writing time.

Rest assured that I’m working to get both back up and running!

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Into the Fire Blog Tour

Looking for Monster Monday posts? Look below this post!

Into the Fire Tour Banner

I’m going on tour! Wooo!

Regular Monster posts to be continued, although you’ll have to look below this post for them!

Wondering where I’m at each day? Here’s the schedule for you! I’ll edit in the links to individual posts as they come! Also, scroll down to enter the Grand Prize for the tour, a 25$ Gift Card from Amazon, Kobo or Smashwords!


July 7th- Girls Heart Books Tours- Schedule

               Indy Book Fairy – (Into the Fire Spotlight)

               Sassy Book LoversInto the Fire Blog Tour Spotlight Excerpt

               Mythical BooksGuest Post: Why do we need to read fantasy?


July 8th- Lost in a Sea of WordsSpotlight on Into the Fire

              Manifestations of My MindReview

              Bookmarks, Spoilers & Happily Ever AfterExcerpt

               Write Away BlissExcerpt and Character Biography!


July 9th- That Bite’s Book Talk ReviewsExcerpt

               Cu’s e-Book GiveawaysMy Top 10 Mythological Creatures

                Angels with Attitude Book ReviewsInterview


July 10th- Jeanz BookReadNReview

                 Out There Reviews & StuffExcerpt and Review

                Books and BindingsReview and 10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer

                Cabin Goddess“Into the Fire” …and the frying pan (includes an exotic recipe!)


July 11th- A Little Bit of R & RSoundtrack and Character bio

                 Kelly P’s Blog

                Bookworm for KidsReview


July 12th- Lost in a Sea of WordsAuthor Interview

                 Ohana Day Academy


July 13th- Bianca2b

                 Girls *Heart* Books

                  Reading BlissReview

                 My Family’s Heart Book Reviews-Interview/Playlist. Plus you get to see pictures of the horse I ride! (with me on it!)

                 Candy Coated Book Blog


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Canada Day!

"Happy Canada Day" in sidewalk chalk

As you may know, July 1st marks Canada’s birthday. 146 years ago, Canada began as a dominion of three provinces under the British Empire. Now, there are ten provinces and three territories. The last territory, Nunavut, was made official in 1999. The last province, Newfoundland, joined in 1949.

Provincial and Territorial shields

Above shows the shields of the provinces and territories in mostly geographic order. From the left, we have the Yukon Territory, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Festivities on the legislature lawn

The province throws a big party on the lawn of the legislative buildings, closing down the nearby streets to traffic so people have room to move. Live music on two stages around the harbour.

Clay the carriage horse

In celebration of Canada Day, I’ll be adding some extra, Canada-themed mythology throughout the week month (yeah, that week didn’t turn out like I had planned, haha!). Possible subjects include…

  • Canadian Cryptids: Ogopogo, Manipogo, Cadborosaurus and others.
  • Sasquatch
  • La Corriveau
  • Thunderbird

I was considering doing an American folklore-themed post for July 4th. Perhaps Paul Bunyan and Babe or the Jersey Devil.

In a carriage at work, reckless running through a police barricade.Archie helping us run the police barricade (at 9km/h). What a good boy.

Canada Day crowd around the Inner Harbour

Red Fireworks

Monster Monday: La Chasse-galerie

La Chasse-galerie by Henri Julien

I first learned about La Chasse-galerie in my high school’s french class. La Chasse-galerie, known also as The Bewitched Canoe or The Flying Canoe, is a legend from Quebec. According to Wikipedia, it has its origins in The Wild Hunt stories, particularly one where a man, Gallery, was so fond of hunting that he skipped Sunday mass. As punishment, he is forever hunted by The Wild Hunt.

The tale changed as French settlers swapped stories with the First Nations and adapted it for the portage lifestyle. There are several versions of the story now, but the one I learned goes like this:

On New Years Eve, men from Gatineau sat around a fire in a logging camp, missing their loved ones who were back in the village, far away, and undoubtedly celebrating New Years by dancing and singing and being merry. Alas, the village was one hundred leagues away, so they were unhappily resigned to stay at camp for the night.

Until one man spoke up.

“I’m going to see my girlfriend,” he said.

“What? Impossible. How?”

“I will run the chasse-galerie.”

Running the chasse-galerie meant making a pact with the Devil so that he would bewitch their canoe to fly. Yes, it would work. It would get them there and back before morning. Everyone, however, was less than comfortable about making a pact with the Devil. Could they risk their eternal souls in order to see their loved ones?

“What’s the catch?”

“No catch. We have to avoid crosses on churches and cannot blaspheme on the journey.”

After some convincing, they all decide to risk it. They get into a canoe, and chant:

Satan, roi des enfers, nous te promettons de te livrer nos âmes, si d’ici à six heures, nous prononçons le nom de ton maître et le nôtre, le, bon Dieu, et si nous touchons une croix dans le voyage. A cette condition, tu nous transporteras, à travers les airs, au lieu où nous voulons aller, et tu nous ramèneras de même au chantier. Acabris! Acabras! Acabram!….Fais-nous voyager par-dessus les montagnes.

(Satan, King of Hell, we permit you to have our souls if, in these six hours, we say the name of the Lord and if we touch a cross during the journey. Under these conditions, you may transport us through the air to where we want to go, then take us back to this site afterwards. Acabris! Acabras! Acabram! Let us go through the mountains.)

The canoe immediately begins to lift. At around 600ft above, they begin to paddle. The canoe shoots forward like an arrow.

Fifteen minutes later, they saw the lights of the city. They skirted around Montreal, then on to Gatineau. Although they saw people on the street, no one noticed them. The canoe moved so fast that they were gone in the blink of an eye.

Five minutes after Montreal, they reached in Gatineau. They landed in the field of one of their relatives, left the canoe on the edge of the forest, and walked into town.

Eventually, they found where the party was at. In order to keep their heads clear, they decided not to drink. They knocked on the door and were welcomed with open arms.

They danced and made merry. When it was time to go back to the canoe, it was clear that the navigator had had a drop too much to drink. Instead of leading them back around Montreal, they took a river in to the west of Montreal. They narrowly missed hitting the Grand Cross of Temperence. Then they crashed the canoe into a snow bank.

Luckily, it was not broken. However, the navigator then began to swear like a sailor. He then decides to go have a drink in Ottawa.

The rest of the crew unanimously decide to tie and gag him for the rest of the trip.

They hit a pine tree near their camp and crashed again. When they woke, they were back in their cabins, safe and sound but hungover.


Other versions of the story involve an Acadian myth where, instead of a flying canoe, it was an axe-handle that stretched to allow them to see their loved ones. Sometimes it is the Devil steering, trying to trip them up on the return journey. The men could be loggers, explorers, trappers, portagers, etc.

The National Film board of Canada’s version:

Monster Monday: Ox-Head and Horse-Face, Guardians of Hell

Ox Head and Horse Face by Ee Shawn on FlickrPhoto courtesy of Ee Shawn on Flickr and used under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives License.

I’d bumped into these pair of demonic underworld guards in a few temples during my travels in China. Alas, as their statues were located within the inner-sanctum type area of the temples (one of those temples being the same temple that provided such excellent murals for my Diyu post) where they would be worshiped, I do not have any personal pictures of this pair.

Ox-head and Horse-Face (Niutou Mamian 牛头马面 literally, “Oxhead Horseface”), known in Japan as Gozumezu, are two demons in Diyu who act as guards and retrievers of souls. Although many stories are told of them directly escorting the dead to Diyu and it is said that no soul can escape them, the responsibility of soul-retrieval appears to fall more on another, higher-ranked pair of Underworld inhabitants: the Black and White Guardians/Messengers (Heibai Wuchang). Those two sound fairly interesting. Maybe I should do a spotlight on them for around Ghost Festival time.

Oxhead wall-carving

Photo by Major Clanger on Flickr, used under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share-alike License.

As their names suggest, Ox-head and Horse-face have the bodies of men with the heads of their respective namesake animals. Their origin story is a bit difficult to find. One story says that they were an ox and a horse in their previous lives, and King Yama rewarded them for their hard work by making them guards. Another says that they were worked to death by their masters and King Yama took pity upon them.

Either way, they are now very loyal to King Yama.

Perhaps the most famous tale of them comes in Journey to the West, the famous Chinese epic in which the Monk Tripitaka, accompanied by The Monkey King, Monk Pig, and Friar Sand, travel to India to retrieve the sacred Buddhist scriptures. The pair are sent after The Monkey King, who either tricks them or overpowers them, thus scaring them away.

The Monkey King then gatecrashes Diyu and crosses his name and the names of all his monkey followers from the record of souls.

Horseface by Major Clanger on Flickr

Photo by Major Clanger on Flicker and used under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share-alike License.



Monster Monday: Yama, King of Hell

King Enma by Richard HopkinsPhoto credit to Richard Hopkins on Flickr.

King Yama can be found all throughout Asia. Originating in Hinduism, some myths make Yama the first man, with a sister, Yami or Yamuna, as the first woman. Others do not. Whichever the case, Yama was the first man to die. This is what made him the God of Death.

The Wheel of Life by James Trindade on Flickr

Photo credit to James Trindade on Flickr.

Yama has two dogs, which serve as guardians and messengers.

As Buddhism came along and reinterpreted deities in Hindu belief, spreading across through South-East Asia (where Hinduism had previously spread), China, Korea, and Japan (where it mixed with folk religions), the figure of Yama changed.

In South-East Asia, which (except for Vietnam) is predominantly Theravada Buddhist (meaning there isn’t the saint-figures of the Bodhisattvas to help you attain Nirvana), Yama judges a person’s character after death and sends them to the appropriate rebirth (either on earth, heaven, or hell, depending on their Karma). He also sends old-age, disease, and other misfortunes to remind people to behave well.

In Chinese mythology, King Yama is both King and Judge. Although the photo at the top is of a Japanese depiction, it fits with the Chinese image of him: large, bulging eyes, scowling face, red skin, beard. On his hat is the character 王 wang, meaning king. One difference is that the Chinese version may have a veil of beads dangling from the hat.

Yama presides over the other Kings/Judges, who rule various parts of hell and judge different types of sin (thieves and murderers, rapists, etc.). The magistrates that work under the Kings are the Panguan I’ve been looking for.

Tibetan version of Yama courtesy of Wikipedia and the public domain

In Tibetan Buddhism, Yama is called Shinje and has a different creation story. According to this myth, Shinje was an ordinary man in search of enlightenment. He was told that if he meditated for 50 years, he would attain enlightenment. So he went to a cave and began his meditation. After 49 years of meditation, he was interrupted when two thieves broke into the cave with a stolen cow. Although he asked to be spared, the thieves killed him. In his near-enlightened fury, he became Yama, the God of Death, and killed the thieves. He used their skulls as cups to drink their blood and took the cow’s skull for his own. He then decided to kill everyone in Tibet.

Thankfully, he was thwarted when another God answered the Tibetan people’s prayers.

Except for the last, wonderful public domain image, all images in this post are used under the Creative Commons attribution noncommercial license or the Creative Commons attribution non-derivative license.




Into the Fire’s last free run

free! copy

Starting now, Into the Fire will be free on Amazon until the 19th. I will be taking Into the Fire out of the Amazon Kindle Select program after that, and it will be available on all platforms starting the 20th. This is the last free run it will have on Amazon Select, so be sure to pick up a copy!