Mother of Stories

Since it’s the day after Mother’s day, I thought I’d shed some light on the mother of stories: Scheherazade. The story of who she was and how her stories became known is pretty easy to explain but the lessons and connotations are awe-inspiring.

Her story.

Scheherazade was the daughter of the Vizier, the consultant to the sultan. The sultan was not evil as most people aren’t inherently evil, but all that changed. His wife was unfaithful to him and in his grief, anger, and indignation he killed and made a vow. He vowed that every night he would bed a virgin and in the morning she would be beheaded. After many women were slaughtered by the Sultan, the only women left eligible were the vizier’s daughters. Scheherazade was the oldest and would therefore marry the Sultan, but she was also smart, dignified, and beautiful. She studied everything she could get her hands on and when faced with this tragic situation devised a plan. She would tell her sister to implore that Scheherazade tell a story on the night of the wedding. The Sultan allowed Scheherazade to begin her story and like that the Sultan was mesmerized. She stopped at an important part in the story and said she would love to finish her tale but it was dawn and therefore time for her to die.

She began to weave exciting tales full of lessons, love, and life. I imagine the lilt of her voice, her gestures, her eyes, all being tools to bring these tales to life. It is these tales that make up the Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One nights. On the thousandth night, Scheherazade finally finished her tale and the Sultan found that he not only loved her but he was a changed man. In some versions, Scheherazade has born him two sons giving the Sultan cause to rejoice even further. In other versions she has simply saved her life and in hind sight the life of the Sultan.

It’s impact.

Scheherazade has been looked to for inspiration and empowerment for years. Any fiction writer can tell you how important it is to captivate one’s audience and Scheherazade is a prime example. Her story is also an example of the core of story telling. Before we wrote down stories they were passed on from word of mouth and that tradition is still vital to us today even if it has morphed. Aren’t we told to read to our children once a day? Isn’t that supposed to spark interest and ‘good’ practices later in their life?

Also, being a woman and a writer of fiction, I think Scheherazade holds a special significance in my work. My ultimate goal would be to captivate my audience with my stories. I love fairy tales, myths, legends, and fables, so it only makes sense to hold the story of Scheherazade and her One thousand and one tales in high esteem. There is something to be said about a fairy tale: in it we mostly find the truth of what makes us human. The Sultan might not have been as enthralled had she told him what it was like to grow up as the vizier’s daughter. (I’m not saying that this story is not interesting, but it is very straight forward) In a fairy tale, the lesson that is learned or the essence that is remembered is implied and therefore not a direct address. Yes, she could have said, “Killing women for what your former wife has done to you is wrong.” But that would have gotten her killed. The Sultan ultimately learns the same lesson, but with different words and that is why words have so much power. The way in which they are used could literally be the difference between life and death.

Conclusion.

I could go on and on about Scheherazade and her significance, the mistreatment of women throughout history, and how stories are crafted, hence the name of my blog, but I will stop here to say, Happy Mother’s Day to the woman who I call the Mother of Stories.

Learn more about Scheherazade at some of these sites.

http://www.npr.org/2013/06/09/189539866/scheherazade-from-storytelling-slave-to-first-feminist

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10139009

http://www.bartleby.com/16/

 

ALikelyStory – Literary Jewelry & Bookmarks for the Bookish Sort

I’m always looking for funky English/Literary or just plain things for book lovers! Thanks for the info Litcouture

LitCouture

See on Scoop.itWearable Art

“How nice to combine my fixation with shiny pretty things with my love of all things bookish!” says the owner of the Etsy shop ALikelyStory in her profile. We at LitCouture are likewise fans of literary flair. The shop features book-inspired pendants, charm bracelets, and earrings, as well as shepherd’s hook style bookmarks.

Bracelets make up the bulk of the site, featuring letter charms spelling out phrases such as “Bibliophile”, “Got books?”, and “Wordsmith” accompanied by a variety of book and writing themed dangles. The letter beads are made from old-fashioned replica typewriter keys, often overlaid on text backdrops; the other charms are a combination of pewter book stacks, typewriters, pencils, coffee cups, and other essential tools of the literati, and images from books and documents displayed in base metal charms with glass cabochons. Many bracelets are personalized for those in bookish professions, such…

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On Personal Tragedy and The Beginning of Everything

 

Ezra Faulkner. Awesome name. Nice character. This was one of the few realistic YA fiction books that I wanted to read. It’s written by Robyn Schneider, who may or may not be in love with the Great Gatsby. I was captured immediately at the first couple of chapters. Basically Ezra believes that everyone gets his or her own tragedy. That no one gets to share a tragedy. Also, this tragedy is supposed to change us in some way and for Ezra his personal tragedy is a really bad car accident that shatters his knee and destroys his chances of playing professional tennis and any sport for that matter. Then he falls in love with a quirky yet extremely smart and witty girl and everything spirals out of control. I liked this story, but it tried too hard to make too many connections that didn’t quite fit in with the characters.

I understood Ezra’s way of thinking to a certain extent, because I’ve always looked at life as a sort of string of disappointments rather than tragedies. Maybe that comes with being naturally pessimistic, but it can easily be rephrased. (Life can be full of happiness that is constantly interspersed with disappointments and sadness. That doesn’t sound much better. Moving forward.) And I think that in some sense it is true that we don’t necessarily share tragedies because everyone experiences things differently and an event can have a completely different significance for the other person or people involved. It’s kind of like the tricks of memory in which a brother distinctly remembers his big sister throwing him off the first floor balcony when she distinctly remembers him agreeing to play firefighters and being lowered to the ground in a crate on a string and yes- the string did break and yes- he did fall, but no, he was never pushed. At the same time, discounting a horrible moment as something for someone else is nothing but a coping mechanism. But that’s the point isn’t it? Ezra explains his way of thinking but then admits that he got so many things wrong.

I like Ezra as a character because he opens up the story for reflection on what he thinks and how he goes about life. The only shattering thing about this story that wasn’t convincing enough was his larger than life philosophical epiphanies towards the end where we find out he is a freshman in college looking back at his senior year of high school. Ezra’s characteristics get lost in his revelations. (There are the Gatsby references and Foucault, which Ezra tries to fit into his thinking as a way to figure out things and it’s all really too much for him. The best thing the Gatsby references has going is that the dog takes on that voice, and I absolutely loved it. The author really didn’t have to take it further than that.) At the end of the story, I still don’t know who Ezra is except for a guy who learns not to detach himself from his friends when life gets hard. I still don’t know his likes and dislikes, what he decides to major in or anything. This is because he actually hasn’t figured much out and you know what? That’s okay. If it hadn’t ended with him in college, and making a grand statement on life it would have resonated better with his character arc because I don’t believe that Ezra changes that much. He still seems to be floating around in a cloud of just following along.

The thing about tragedy is that it’s supposed to make us stronger, make us better people, make us better decision makers, but it also breaks us and sometimes those breaks aren’t set right before they heal. Sometimes there are no grand statements, no epiphanies, just a relationship that didn’t work out.

If you loved this book and love Robyn or just want to learn more about her, here’s a link.https://www.youtube.com/user/robynisrarelyfunny

Miles and Miles of No-Man’s Land

Fairy tales are wonderful things to talk about and analyze, but imagine actually dealing with one of those creatures in real life in the form of depression. Libba Bray’s blog took my breath away. It reminded me that I have been trying to fight my demons with my words and that’s okay.

Libba Bray

This is the hardest blog I’ve ever attempted to write.

For the better part of eight months, I have been struggling under the thumb of a rather intense depression. This is a monster I’ve battled many times in my life; it is not new. Yet, this has been a particularly brutal one, and I’m not out of the woods yet.

As a writer, I try to write about everything. But it’s hard to write about depression. For one, there’s the fear that the minute you say, “I’m suffering from depression,” people will look at you funny. That they will nod at you with wincing, constipated face, place a hand on your arm and say, with all good intent, “How are you?” And your pain will war with your desire to be “normal” and not looked at funny by sympathetic people at parties. So you will answer, “Fine, thanks” while you’ll…

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Valentines Day YA Sci-fi/Fantasy Favorites

Valentines day is coming up soon and whether we love the holiday or abhor it, we still appreciate a good love story mixed in with our magic, legends, paranormal, or action packed dystopian novels. Falling in love for the first time is usually the theme in YA, but add that to the characters extenuating circumstances, (being in the hunger games, being in love with a caster, or being on the run) emotions can get muddled while surging and crackling like an overloaded breaker box. It’s a lot to take in and as readers, we find something extremely human about the power to love so strongly. As an adult, it’s about reminiscing or maybe still wanting that feeling. As writers, we try to convey not only the emotions our characters our feelings, but also the minor details that spark a relationship and the surrounding world that has an effect on those characters. Either way, no matter how commercial Valentines day is, Love- in these stories often times comes at a much higher price than an expensive box of chocolates.

I’ve come up with some categories that were hard for me to decide who would come in as my number one favorite, so I thought I’d post this and get some feed back. What’s your opinion?

The Guys

Sexiest Male in YA Fantasy? I think that Indian Prince Dhiren (Tiger’s Curse), who is also cursed to be a beautiful white bengal tiger may take the cake in this category. He is described as having these miraculous blue eyes because he’s actually mixed with Asian, while having dark hair that curls right by the ear. Also bronze skinned and toned, and his gracefulness rivals that of a vampire, so yeah, sexy.

Most Charming Male in YA Fantasy? It could easily be a tie between Ethan Wate (Beautiful Creatures) and Simon Lewis (The Mortal Instruments). Ethan can be a down right proper southern gentleman and with the story being told from his point of view, you know he’s not a jerk that just wants to get in Lena’s pants. Simon’s unrequited love of Claire is heartbreaking, but he is the best friend ever and stands by her side no matter what. Now that’s charming.

Dystopian Male Interest? I might have to go with Peeta (Hunger Games) because he’s such an underdog and living in these dystopian worlds are harsh, but he (spoiler alert) gets the girl. That says alot about his tenacity, charm, and willing to fight. A runner up could be Day (Legend) because he’s got SO much to lose but still he stays strong and of course finds love.

The Girls

Beautiful Girl in YA Sci/fi? This is very difficult because so many of the main characters are girls and told in the first person, that her looks at times, play second fiddle. This might have to go to Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles) because she’s not human but was still able to grab the attention of Prince Kai and also I think her beauty and self-worth is a big deal for Cinder, and her willingness to accept it will play a role in her ability to be able to help earth.

The Girl you wouldn’t want to make mad on Valentines Day? OMG, good job YA authors for creating such strong female roles in your stories. It would be Lena Duchannes (Beautiful Creatures) because seriously, she can split the moon and upset the order of things. That’s pretty powerful.

Conversely, The most Kick-Ass Girl? She’s a fighter, a survivor and would kill anyone trying to harm her or her man. Yeah you don’t want to mess with Katsa (Graceling), Tally (the Uglies), Scarlett and Rosie March (Sister’s Red), and I can’t forget Katniss (Hunger Games)

Favorite Couples YA Sci-fi/Fantasy? Some relationships are slowly built, some are love at first sight or smell, and some are damned from the beginning. That’s why I want to start with Grace and Sam (The Wolves of Mercy Falls) they spend the whole series trying to be together. Then theres Lena and Alex (Delirium). In a world where love is outlawed and considered a disease there is no way I wasn’t rooting for them.

I know there are plenty more characters that could fit into these categories or ones similar so I’m eager to hear back from you. Lastly before I go, I know there has been a lot of talk recently about how Harry should have ended up with Hermoine, and even the author agreed, but when I found out that Ron and Hermoine liked each other, I summed it up to the fact that Hermoine and Ron spent summers together in the Weasleys home and frankly I think without a ton of supervision. So I figured they were spending a lot of time alone, and even though Hermoine and Harry could have had some sparks, Ron is the sweet nervous one, faithful, even though a little scary at times, still very brave, and still a Gryffindor.

Fairytale Renditions Part 1

This year I’ve decided to share my love of fairytales with everyone right here on chasingsheherazade.wordpress.com The first fairy tale rendition that I read this year was Cinder by Marissa Meyer. As the title shows, this one was a super fantastic take on Cinderella. As a culture, we love Cinderella since it is the true underdog story or we hate her for not being what we think an independant woman should be. Hence, over the years the theme has been that Cinderella saves herself and doesn’t get help from a fairy godmother. I’ve read and seen several Cinderella stories and this one is a hit. Cinder is no different. Told in a third person point of view in order to keep a traditional story teller feel, but extremely close that it has the immediacy of first person, the reader is thrown straight into Cinder’s world.The futuristic world that Marissa creates is so interesting and real that the references to the original Cinderella story is actually not needed, but I see why they are there. It gives the story that is so far in the future, a feeling of an old tradition. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic in New Beijing. She works a booth in the market with her android, Iko, who has an endearing personality. Of course there are the regular cast of characters that one would expect: Stepmother-Adri and two step sisters- Pearl and Peony. New Beijing is run by an Emperor, hence enters the handsome prince, Kai. But there is more mystery surrounding Cinder than she originally thinks. Then with a deadly pandemic raking earth, and Cinder’s acceptance to fix the prince’s broken android are the start to a chain of events that will change her life forever.

photo Reading Cinder while daughter watches Mickey Mouse

I love Cinder as a character mainly for how deeply her emotions run, which is her proof of her humanity and her determination to make her life better. She reminds me off Tally in Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series and the setting of this futuristic New Beijing reminds me of Extras the companion book of the Uglies series. Also if you like Legend by Marie Lu then you will definitely love this story. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Scarlett, Cress, and Winter, which will be renditions of other well known fairy tales.

Lastly, Marissa Meyer as an author seems like a really cool person. Apart from coming up with the idea that Cinderella as a Cyborg would be awesome, she also read a lot of anime in high school (Wonder if she’s heard of the anime Fairytail) and wishes she could draw her characters.

Learn more about Marissa Meyer in her Goodreads interview here or her website here.