Friday, January 28, 2011

"No Fear" Blogfest

No Fear Blogfest
Writes of Passage

Let me just say that I am posting *live* from New York City at the SCBWI conference. I'm staying at the Grand Hyatt that overlooks Grand Central Station... above which is a sculpture of my good friend Hermes (or Mercury for you Romans out there). So, you know I'm in good hands.

Thank you to Dominic de Mattos over at "Writes of Passage" for hosting this "No Fear" Blogfest. At first sight, the title made me think of a line of clothing called "No Fear" and they used to have catchy little empowerment statements on them. Loved those t-shirts!

In this blog we are charged with posting a scene wherein your main character experiences fear and overcomes it. In this scene from my Caenus WIP, Caenus must mount a bull and stay on for five drops of the judges hand. This is the first competition at the games. Some have already tried and failed before him... Some simply received broken limbs for their troubles. Some perished.

Thanks for stopping by. Please enjoy the other entries by clicking through the link above.

Caenus stepped into the ring and considered his best tactic. Muscles tensed. Fists clenched. Thump-thump, Thump-thump. Thump-thump, Thump-thump. The lumps in his throat pulsed in time with his racing heart. His parched throat contrasted his moist palms as the soles of his sandals indented the sand.
The judges finished infuriating the bull. Just before they released it, they stuck it in the rear with a hot fire poker, glowing red as the evening sun.  With a cry, the bull shot forth from the corner.
Perspiration rushed from Caenus’ forehead as he sprinted to his right. The bull turned sharply in pursuit. The prince turned left then right, and then left again, the bull's nose nudging his backside. Caenus swore he felt the rough shave of teeth at his hip.
The bull’s searing breath against his lower back, Caenus performed another series of sharp pivots, but found himself cornered by the snorting steer who stopped a moment and seemed to savor its prey. Crimson eyes bulging with fury, the bull inched closer to its subject.
Caenus’ muscles twitched. He considered darting to a safer area. The bull tipped its ivory to quell the thoughts of escape. The bull inched closer, licking its chops, eyes blazing rage, cloven hooves pawing at the sand. Closer, and closer it drew.
Images of Caenus’ brothers flashed before his eyes. Then images of his father and mother. He wondered if the bull would rob him of the opportunity to see his family again. He decided not to go down without a fight.
With no other options, Caenus summoned all the courage he could muster. He balled his fists and delivered a crushing blow to the bull square in the nose. Hitting the bull with first his right then his left fist, he stopped the bull in its tracks long enough to mount its back and ride for five drops of the judge’s hand. He held fast to the gleaming ivory, but barely. Dismounting proved to be more difficult. 
The enraged bull launched Caenus high into the air. He landed on his right hip before rolling in the direction opposite the bull’s path. Rising to his feet as the bull turned vengefully, he exited the ring. Safe.
           Caenus dropped to his knees outside the ring, gasping for air 

and reason. Running his hands over his body, he uttered a breathless

prayer to the gods, thanking the Olympians for preserving him.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Simply Hot Blogfest

I'm lumping today's Artful Thursday post with a blogfest. Also known as... multitasking. lol

Thanks to Erica and Christy for hosting this fantabulous Simply Hot Blogfest. If you follow those gals long enough, you'll see that they have a thing for Hotness... all things Hot!! So in this blogfest, we're simply posting a picture of our favorite coffee mug... the one you'd rather drink from the most if it never needed washing.

So, here's mine...


Make sure you click through the link above to see the rest of the entries!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Grab Your Reader By The Nose

This is the first installment in a series I began last week entitled Keep Yer Pants On, Plot By Numbers.  In that post I stated that I'm not a "pantser" when planning a new story. I'm a total "plotter." I know a lot of people enjoy the meandering path that their characters lead them on, but I have to know where I'm  going. And I promise I'm not a control freak. It's just a sanity thing.

So the first tenet of plotting a great story is "Grab The Reader By The Nose"

What I mean is that you want to write a compelling
  • first line
  • first paragraph
  • first 250 words
  • first page
  • first 500 words
And in those "firsts" you want to paint a picture of your character in her setting with a unique voice and tone that makes the reader care about what happens to your character next.

Something in a person's brain clicks and responds to a really well written opening sentence. While it's certainly not necessary, it simply gives you an edge in a crowded marketplace. Think of all the people strolling through a book store... picking up books... reading back blurbs. Once they find something that piques their interest they thumb to the first few pages.

THAT'S when you have to grab them by the nose. As soon as they open to the first page, you want your words to speak directly to them, hit a chord, and resonate. If not, they're likely to say, "Hmmm. Interesting." And put it right back on the shelf.

Once you have them hooked by your first line and first paragraph, you need to ensure your first scene wraps it's arm around the reader and guides them to the couch.

Elements of a super opening scene
  1. Paint the picture of your character's current normal life And normal doesn't mean pain free or angst free. And make it *as close to the conflict as possible* Don't information dump... don't give us all the back story. Show us the character, enough to get a sense of her, just before the hammer falls.
  2. Introduce the conflict... something that will Rock Her World (Stay Tuned For Next Week) And make it significant enough that your reader doesn't say, "So What?"
  3. Forecast the ending of the story... or at least promise the reader that your character will grow and change based upon the conflict she now faces.
Hope this was informative. Come back next Tuesday 1/ 25/ 2011 for the next installment: Rock Your Character's World

 Also, if you haven't seen it, check out Brenda Drake's "It Was A Dark And Stormy Blogfest" wherein participants are charged with sharing their best first lines.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top Ten Countdown Music Blogfest

Happy Monday Everyone. This week is a big one for me, so Let's Get it Started, Let's Get It Started In Here (a little Black Eyed Peas fo ya).
Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for Counting down our top tunes of all time in the Top Ten Music Blogfest!
Music moves us. It inspires us! So in this particular blogfest all participants were charged with sharing our Top Ten Songs of all time: The Band/ Singer- The Song- The Reason it moves you.
In no particular order, here are mine:
  1. Frank Sinatra- Luck Be A Lady Tonight (Guys and Dolls)- It used to be my pregame song when I was a high school Special Teams Coordinator. Led to 3 kick returns and 1 punt return for touchdowns.
  2. Any Symphony- Overture~ Le Nozze de Figaro- The violins ring to my soul.
  3. Frank Sinatra- Fly Me To The Moon (Intro to Wall Street) because I love that movie and that version of the song
  4. Jay-Z/ Linkin Park- Numb/ Encore- They go together like champagne and orange juice.
  5. The Three Tenors (Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti) - Nessun Dorma- Goosebumps... Chills...
  6. Sade- Cherish The Day- Smooth like warm caramel
  7. Nirvana- Smells Like Teen Spirit- This song is like injecting adrenaline straight into my veins.
  8. Dave Matthews- #41- Makes me sway involuntarily
  9. Evanescence- Bring Me To Life- Love her angelic voice against the aggressive guitars and drums
  10. P.O.D.- Alive- Because it ignites me.
Make sure you click through the blogfest link at the top to see the rest of the entries.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Birthday Bash Blogfest

Thank you to Tessa Conte over at Tessa's Blurb for hosting this Birthday Blogfest. And by the way... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TESSA!! Many Happy Returns!

In this blogfest we were to post a portion of our WIP that featured a birthday celebration. My selection is from my currently querying project, Caenus And The Quiver Of Artemis. Make sure you click through Tessa's link above to see the other entries.


Standing beside a large tent, Kranos waved his hand for the boys to join him there. Bright blue flags flew all around the agora, marking the boundaries of the royal celebration. Four large urns sent flames toward the midnight blue encasing the heavens.
     The king embraced his son. "Welcome, Caenus. I have waited for this day since your birth. Let us enter the tent together."
     Galen ducked his head in first to give the father and son ample space for their grand entry. Next, Kranos and Caenus slipped through the tent flaps to a raucous applause by nearly seventy people. In attendance were aristocrats and wealthy merchants and their sons of varying ages. Also present were the three generals and their sons.
     Alexis, stunning queen of Iolkos, smiled widely as her son entered. She had been sitting on a kline, braiding her dark hair over her shoulder, but rose to her feet when Caenus walked in. "Happy birthday," she said embracing him warmly.
     "Thank you, Mother."
     Awash in sepia tones from flickering firelight, the tent’s interior smelled of bears’ claws and lions’ breath. At the far end of the tent, two boars roasted over a crackling spit. In the foreground, a long table divided the tent equally. Younger boys chased one another, while young girls filled water goblets from large amphorae jugs they could barely wield.
     The din died to a whisper as the king spoke, "Tonight esteemed guests, let us celebrate my son’s emergence into the majority. No longer a boy, but a man!"
     The tent erupted in rollicking cheers.
     "Here shall he prove his worthiness," the king continued. "Send forth six young men of comparable age to test my son."
     Here we go, Caenus thought. Galen ran up first, followed by five other similarly aged young men, some broader, some thinner than the prince.
     Kranos clapped his hands twice. "Bring in the wine!" Two young girls appeared carrying a goatskin of diluted wine, which they emptied in to six tall clay jugs.
     "To begin the celebration, each boy shall drain the contents of their amphora jug to honor Dionysus. First to finish shall receive an olive branch," the king bellowed. "Boys, take your places."
     Each young man surrounded one end of the long table, grasping tightly their jugs. I knew my father had something strange planned. Caenus inhaled deeply, looking into the excited eyes of his competitors.
     "Ready, Go!" Kranos belted.
     Each young man hoisted his amphora to his lips and chugged the measures of wine and water. Some spilled from the sides of their mouths, soiling their tunics.
     First to finish was a broad shouldered general’s son. He slammed the jug down on the table and threw his hands skyward in victory. A scrawny aristocrat’s son finished second. Caenus finished third. Galen next. Amidst a ringing of applause, Kranos presented the olive branch to the victor.
     What had that been about? What was it meant to prove? Caenus wondered.
     His belly swollen with wine, the prince sighed. He studied his father’s face for sign of disappointment that he hadn’t won the wine-drinking event, but the king’s face offered no signs to be read. Nevertheless, Caenus felt the sting of disappointment.
     "All right, boys," the king continued, not even acknowledging the guest of honor. "The next event shall be an arm wrestling challenge to prepare my son for the Isthmian Games."
     The crowd fell silent. The music even stopped.
     Alexis approached Kranos. "Is there something you need to tell me?" she asked, hands on her hips, her eyes narrowed.
     "About what?" Kranos replied, annoyed at the question.
     "You’re sending our last son to the games? To death?"
     "Yes!" Kranos spoke above her to the entire crowd. "As many of you know, Iolkos has had a poor showing at the Isthmian games, losing two princes in the process. Caenus is now eligible, and he too shall compete."
     "Look at him!" an unidentified voice sailed above the crowd’s din. “He’s not ready! He’ll never win!"
     Caenus’ posture shrank as a cacophony of chatter criss-crossed the tent.
     Kranos blared, "Caenus will prove once and for all if my blood is weak or not. The House of Kranos is in his hands. For if he does not return, then the Fates have already cast his lot."
     Alexis drew close to her son and grasped his hand tightly, the warmth of her love passing through Caenus’ skin. "I won’t let you send him!" Alexis spoke sternly.
     The crowd’s collective voice again hushed to a whisper.
     "What did you say?" the king growled.
     Alexis stood in front of her son, a lioness protecting her cub. “Haven’t we lost enough sons to the games?" Tears rivered down her flushed cheeks.
     "It’s not your decision! The future of Iolkos rests in his hands. If he doesn’t go and win, he’ll be viewed as weak, as will the whole lot of us. We’ll never see a season unencumbered by assaults against the kingdom. Epirus smelled the stench of my fallen sons when they attacked. Did they teach us nothing? Simply returning from the games is no better. He must return victorious to erase all doubts!"
     A single clap pierced the silence. Then another and another. The staccato applause rolled to a thunderous ovation of the king’s words. The enthusiasm bolstered Caenus, yet made him no more confident than he had been.
     "Let’s get on with it then," Kranos bellowed. "Young men take your places for the arm wrestling competition. To the victor, another olive branch."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

ARTFUL THURSDAY: Erinyes-The Angry Ones

Beginning a new WIP is so exciting. I'm all a flutter, breathlessly biding my time away from my WIP. Every time we reconnect, it's like star-crossed, forbidden lovers... rushing back into one another's arms.

My new WIP has me researching Erinyes (Roman: Furies), "The Angry Ones." in a deeper capacity.
 So they are the subject of today's Artful Thursday.

In fact, our word Fury (intense anger) comes from these winged women from the bowels of the Underworld.
From the online Etymology Dictionary
late 14c., "fierce passion," from O.Fr. furie (14c.), from L. furia "violent passion, rage, madness," related to furere "to rage, be mad." Romans used Furiæ to translate Gk. Erinyes, the collective name for the avenging deities sent from Tartarus to punish criminals (in later accounts three in number and female). Hence, figuratively, "an angry woman" (late 14c.).

With hair of snakes (see Gorgons/ Medusa), wings, talons, and eyes that dripped blood, Erinyes were supernatural personifications of the dead. Some accounts say that when the Titan Cronus was castrated, his blood dripped to the earth, and that the Erinyes formed from his blood droplets. Other accounts say they were born of Nyx, the elemental force of Night. Virgil recognized and named three such creatures, but generally the number of them varies.

Without further ado, I present Eryines through the ages.
Warning: Some pictures may *seem* racy to *some*  But they are ALL art. And I assure you they have no sexual nature. If you are squeamish, you may close this post now. And I thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Your Portal To The World Of Mythology

Even as I pursue my writing career, I would still like The Oracle and The Muse to be a resource for teachers, students, and enthusiasts. To that end, there are several resources and links I will index in this post and add to them as I discover new resources.

First and foremost, here are some fabulous websites to find great mythology material:

Want literature and texts concerning mythology

Ovid's Metamorphoses

Hesiod's Theogony

Herodotus' Histories

Homer's Iliad

Homer's Odyssey

Virgil's Aeneid

Want Lesson Plans and/ or worksheets and exercises

Teacher Reviewed and Approved Lesson Plans

WebEnglish Teacher/ Classical Mythology

MythWeb Teacher Resources

Teacher Planet/ Mythology

Mythology Coloring Pages

Thank you for stopping by The Oracle and The Muse. Do let me know if there is something I should add. And please tell me if you find this post useful.

~Ευχαριστούμε (Thank You)

Christopher S. Ledbetter

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Milestone Mini-Celebration

Uncork your amphorae of wine... and put the women and children to bed, because 

The Oracle and The Muse has just passed 10,000 page views!

TUESDAY'S TIDBITS: Keep Yer Pants On... Plot By Numbers

I began plotting my new WIP (because I'm a total "plotter." I don't have the nerves of steel it takes to be a "pantser"). I read and re-read and reviewed some interesting *guidelines* to help improve one's plot, help create a story that keeps the reader turning pages. So here are a few guidelines that I found. And truly, I could write a separate blog post for each one of these. But they are summarized below:

(*taps temple*... hmmm, pssst, hey Chris, why don't you just make it into a blog series. Yeah. Yeah. That's the ticket. A blog series... *massages chin hairs, looking into the distance pensively. Snaps fingers* Yes, by golly. I *will* turn this into a blog series. Come back every Tuesday for the next few weeks to see the next four installments where I delve into each with more detail.)

1) Grab The Reader By The Nose
First sentence. First paragraph. First 250 words. First page. First 500 words. As writers we've all heard the importance of the aforementioned elements. Here's what you definitely want to address in those "Firsts" to make the reader care about your darling character.

 Paint a picture of your protag's normal life with the unwritten promise that the character will transform by the end of the tale. Something will soon happen to the protag that will rock her world and propel her through the story.

2) Rock Your Character's World
Whatever the crisis is, it should be something she can't easily solve or fix. The conflict can be introduced by your protag having all she wants, and suddenly it's all torn away from her. Or, something looms that threatens to rip it all away.

There can also be a call to arms, call to quest or adventure, call to solve a question or case, a call to save the world from certain damnation etc. Also, there should be an internal conflict and an external conflict. And by these conflicts, your character grows.

3) Hit Your Character In The Jaw... A Few Times.
Escalate the tension and draw it out. Your character *has to fail*... at least in the short run. After all, she's facing insurmountable odds, yes? She has to run into wall after wall, and meet frustration after frustration.

You can even give her small successes and large failures. Through all of these your character will grow and change. We all learn far more from our mistakes than from our victories, right? And, by the time the protag meets the defining moment, aka The Climax, she will have made a discovery. A discovery about herself. A discovery about her world. A discovery about her powers and her control of them.

4) Deliver On Your Promise
Don't "what promise?" me. Deliver on THE promise. Yeah, that promise... the one you made in the beginning of your story, the one where you entered an unwritten contract with the reader that the protag would change and grow. Yeppers, it's time to deliver. Show this through how she handles the climax, what she learns. There should be a physical transformation and/ or mental and/ or emotional. And then she emerges on the far side... glorious and triumphant.

Thanks for reading. And, again... check back for the next four Tuesdays to see how I delve into each of the 4 elements of plot more deeply.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Show vs. Tell" Blogfest Entry

Thank you for Misty Dawn Waters over at "Writer's Block. Oh Wait... I mean Blog." for hosting this fabulous "Show vs. Tell" Blogfest. The ability to "show" and not "tell" in your story is so important. I actually did an earlier post on this subject (see it here).

In this Blogfest, we were charged with choosing one of the pictures given in her prompt and writing two scenes; one "telling" and one "showing." So below you'll find the picture I chose and my entries. I tried to write the exact same scene with the exact same feel. The first selection is "telling." The second is "showing." Hopefully I've done a good job of illustrating the difference.


I walked to the crown of the bridge, my opaque wings extended in the twilight. I waited for my dark angel to come. To rescue me from the restrictive confines of heaven. I felt nervous. After all, I'd risked all to meet him. Then he appeared. His wings flapped menacingly as he descended through the darkened sky to meet me. Wind kicked up my clothes and silvery hair a bit. The look in his eyes made me feel a bit uncomfortable. His feet came to rest just above mine. Close enough to touch the tips of my snow white stilettos.
His eyes looked through me. I felt scared but excited at the same time. He extended his arms, fingers stretching, palms open. I walked into his arms and immediately felt his love. At first, it hurt. But the pain eventually subsided. I returned his embrace, dropping my head to his muscular shoulder. A tear escaped my eye. But, I knew I was safe. I knew I was home.


My legs trembled as I inched closer to the crown of the bridge, my opaque wings extended in the twilight. I treaded with trepidation, unsure of my fate. Anxious energy prickled my skin, every nerve ending ignited. I waited nearly long enough to curse my folly in coming, risking everything for a chance at love. A love I wasn't supposed to feel. A love I wasn't supposed to know. Uncertainty gripped my soul, and I began to turn. Then I saw him.
He descended through the darkened sky, filling my vision. His eyes glowed with an unholy, insistent hunger. I knew what he wanted. And I was ready to concede it. His wings flapped menacingly. Short bursts of air swirled off his wings, lifting my clothes, tussling my silvery hair. The closer he drew, warmth curled through me, radiating in concentric circles. He extended his arms, fingers stretching, palms open and his  aura engulfed me. I slipped my arms around him, grabbing the muscular ridges in his back just below his wings. A striking pain sliced through me as his aura consumed mine. I arched my back, inhaling sharply.
Dropping my head to his shoulder, I melted into him. An immediate sense of serenity permeated my skin. Serenity and safety. I exhaled slowly, knowing I'd made the right decision. A tear bubbled at the corner of my eye, and then slowly caressed my cheek.

Hope you enjoyed my entry. Please click through the blogfest link above to visit the rest of the entries.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

ARTFUL THURSDAY: Let's Get Ready To Rumble-- Arena as Art!

Given that the Isthmian Games figure largely in my current WIP, today's Artful Thursday takes a peek at Ancient Greek arenas, theatres, and stadiums. My MC Caenus travels from Iolkos to Corinth to compete in these fierce games. Follwing is a smattering of what he likely found when he arrived.


p.s. It's all right if you allow the same jitters and nervous anxiety to inhabit your soul as you try to *feel* what Caenus must have felt.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits: "Don't Talk Me To Death! Whatchu Got?"-- Showing vs. Telling

As writers, we've all heard the mantra "Show. Don't Tell." And what that means is to allow the reader to experience the character  through dialogue, actions and behaviors, emotions, thoughts, and senses instead of having the author "tell" how the character is feeling, thinking, acting.

Janet Evanovich has been quoted as saying this on the subject:
"Instead of stating a situation flat out, you want to let the reader discover what you're trying to say by watching a character in action and by listening to his dialogue. Showing brings your characters to life."

I think it's fair to think of "Show. Don't Tell" in terms of a job interview. In a job interview, unless it is on site and you're given specific situations to "show" what you can do, the interviewee is typically sitting across from the interviewer... "telling" what he or she can do.

Even better, think of a high school courtyard, two guys shoulder to shoulder, walking in circles. What are they doing? Mouthing off... "I'm gonna do this!" "I'm gonna do that!" I Hated (yes, that's a capital H) this preamble. I always wanted to yell out... "Don't Talk Me To Death! Whatchu Got? I'm gonna be late to class watching you fools!"

Now, as an author, I could write this scene and "tell" you how angry the guys were. Or how embarrassed Guy A was that Guy B kissed his girl. Or how nervous Guy B was that Guy A was a foot taller than his foe and twice as wide.


I could describe the biting embarrassment that stung Guy A's eyes every time he glanced at his soon to be ex-girlfriend. How his fists clenched tighter with every abrasive brush of his foes shoulder. How sweat pooled in his tightened palms. How his muscles flinched with each step. How he growled every profane word he could think of. And, how sweat beaded on Guy B's forehead, running into his eyes. How tiny quakes of uncertainty rippled through his body as he silently considered how many pieces his body would be ripped into. But, how he stood up to Guy A because no body else would. And, how the girl's love strengthened his own resolve, because after all she didn't love Guy A anymore. And, how he felt the girl's gaze at his back, powering him into certain massacre, yet for the best cause of all... her hand.

Showing, not telling is one of the best tools a writer can have in their toolbox. And I am happy to say that I am participating in a "Show vs. Tell" Blogfest over at

Please join her blogfest and come back on the 15th through the 17th to read my entry.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I'm so honored to receive the Stylish Blogger Award from J.D. Brown. It's always nice to be recognized. Receiving this award also requires me to adhere to a few rules:

1: Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2: Share seven things about yourself.
3: Award ten recently discovered great bloggers.
4: Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

So here are Seven things about me:

  1. I played bass drum in college. Proud brother of "Sticky Situation"- Hampton University *Buda, Buda*
  2. I taught middle school for 2 years and high school for 4 years
  3. I coached high school football- last post: Special Teams Coordinator
  4. I'd love to travel the world and blog about the places I go
  5. I have a fear of heights but I desperately want to go skydiving
  6. I don't have arachnophobia per se, but I do have a standing "Kill On Sight" mantra for *all* spiders
  7. I love writing and am completely committed to the craft.

Ten Bloggers I'm Paying This Award Forward To:

Amalia Dillin
J.C. Martin
Anastasia V. Pergakis 
Clarissa Draper 
Shelli Johannes
Rachael Harrie
Jodi Henry
Brenda Drake 
Justin Parente
Tessa Conte

If you don't know these great bloggers , be sure and drop by their sites and get to know them.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

ARTFUL THURSDAY: Something Old, Something New...

"As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent" ~Socrates

The ancient Greek lunar month of Gamelion, roughly modern January to February (post coming soon), is the the month in which Zeus and Hera got married. In fact, the greek word gamos γάμος means marriage in Greek... and so you see the root of the word in Gamelion. The celebration was held at Heraion on the island of Samos.

Let's see how the Zeus and Hera's tumultuous union has been portrayed, shall we.