Announcing the Versatile Blog Awards

I recently discovered the books and online seminars offered by Kristen Lamb.  Having just finished my first novel, I felt adrift on a dangerous ocean; I knew not one thing about the publishing business.  The one thing I did know was, I needed help and fast.  I have no talent for marketing, and social media only confused me.  Today, just two weeks after I started implementing Kristen’s advice, I have more than doubled the traffic to my blog, ditto my Facebook friends and Twitter is more like a conversation than headache.

Along the way, I have met some pretty amazing people out there in the cyber-wilderness.  Diana Murdock, whose terrific blogs on random acts of kindness and meditation were some of the first I discovered, was kind enough to bestow the Versatile Blogger Award upon me.  Sweet!  Many thanks to Diana!

It is however, an award with conditions, which I am happy to comply with.  Firstly, a link back to the blogger giving the award.  Of course!  Next, provide a list of seven things about me.  Okay…

  1. I love Coast to Coast AM.  Yeah, the radio program.  I am geeky enough that I download the podcasts and listen to them when I can actually stay awake and pay attention.
  2. Because of #1, I love conspiracy theories.  Okay, I don’t drink the koolaid, but it’s kinda scary to see how many so-called theories have proven true.
  3. I have two dogs, three cats, one fish, and chickens.  My chicken population is variable.
  4. I am the woman who thought she’d never get married, married to the man who swore he’d never get married again.  No wonder I write romance!
  5. No kids, kids terrify me.  I think mothers are some of the bravest people on the planet.
  6. I am always reading.   I haven’t been without a book since fourth grade.  Sometimes I plan my next book to read halfway through the one I’m currently reading.  I often read a non-fiction and fiction book at the same time.
  7. I love to bake bread.

Last, but most important, I am to pass the torch on, and introduce you to some of the bloggers I’ve discovered.  The requirements state 15, but as Diana also indicated, I couldn’t stop at just 15, I kept finding more to add, all I had to do was go down my new Twitter list.  Here, however, are some of the most worthy.  I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I do:

  1. Kait Nolan.  Her recipes at Pots and Plots are delicious, and she’s also a talented author of the paranormal.
  2. Deborah J. Hughes.  I followed a link on Deborah’s Facebook page to Kristen Lamb’s blog…and you read the rest earlier.  Deborah tells her own true paranormal experiences in chilling detail.
  3. Jenny Hanson.  How can you not love a blog that tells you, you need more cowbell?
  4. Girls With Pens.  Written by Lisa Wilson and Marcy Kennedy, they won me with their discussion of Buffy vs. Bella.
  5. Shannon Esposito.  Loves ghost tours, awesome!
  6. Barbara McDowell.  Has this inspiring list of ROW80 goals.  What is ROW80?  I need to learn more.
  7. Kristal Lee.  Some entertaining videos, and musings on the Rapture.  Eclectic!
  8. Lynette Benton.  Helpful tools of the trade, and lots of them.

I hope you’ll visit all of them, I know you’ll enjoy their writings as much as I did.

Werewolves? What’s Not to Love?

At first glance, why would anyone want to be a werewolf?  Does anyone really want to be able to change their shape, to have to hunt and kill?  Common legends do not paint them as very congenial creatures, and how comfortable can it be to grow hair and have to run around on all fours?  How many hands up out there?  Ok, mine’s one of them.  Guilty!  But I’ve always found shape-shifting endlessly fascinating.

The origins of the werewolf legend trace back to the ancient world.  The Epic of Gilgamesh, out of Sumeria, relates how the hero refused to knock boots with the Goddess Ishtar, because she’d turned a former lover into a wolf.  From Greece we have Lycaon, King of Arcadia.  The basic tale has Lycaon killing his son, cooking him and offering him up for dinner to Zeus, King of the Gods.  Zeus is understandably angered by his host’s menu choice and transforms King Lycaon into a wolf in punishment. I guess the lesson from this is…don’t piss off a deity!  It’s from the King of Arcadia that we get the word lycanthropy.

The wolf has had a bad reputation for a very long time.  In early European cultures the wolf was a dangerous enemy, a threat to livestock and humans both.  Not surprising that someone who did damage to the community would be characterized as a wolf.  Werewolf legends abound throughout Europe of men changing into wolves and terrorizing the countryside.  Retrospective analyses have offered us a multitude of explanations for this creature, it’s motives and behaviors; ergotism, hypertrichosis, porphyria have all been suggested.  Superstition and suspected witchcraft have also contributed.  It’s been suggested that the werewolf legend sprang up to explain the actions of serial killers; a supernatural cause to a horrific act would have made sense to religiously bound ideals of the Middle Ages.

How did we make the transition then, from serial killer to superhero?  Today, we have Jacob Black, Richard Zeeman and Alcede Herveaux to name just a few.  Hundreds of thousands of women now lust for these guys, and yeah, I’m one of them!  The literal and virtual bookshelves are crammed with paranormal romance featuring everyone’s favorite shapechanger.  Now, they’re devastatingly attractive, powerful men (or women!) who are as irresistible to us as to the heroine (or hero!) of the story.

Obviously, numerous factors have contributed to this change, but as our understanding of wolves and their environment has grown, so has our love affair with the werewolf.  It’s only fairly recently that human perception of the wolf has turned.  With a better understanding of wolf behavior that has come from research, we now know that, instead of being slavering mindless killers, the wolf is in fact a dedicated family animal.  Wolves are loyal, and live in loving family groupings.  They act together as a team, cooperating to provide food and protection for their pack.  Pack dynamics can be harsh, involving growling, lunging and slashing teeth, but looking closely at these interactions shows that these fierce displays are usually just that, display.  Physical conflict is typically brief, and injuries rare.  More commonly, pack members are physically affectionate with each other, offering grooming, cuddling and playful behaviors to the members of their pack.   Yes, they do kill other animals, but for food, not excessively or wastefully.  They do not kill solely for the joy of killing.  Seems to me humans could do a little more modeling of their own behavior after the wolf’s.

The modern werewolf  has grown to fill a much-loved niche in our world.  Striding confidently out from the fearful fringes of superstition, the werewolf has gone from terror-inducing villain to mainstream hero.  But, the modern shapeshifter has also allowed us to reconnect with an often-forgotten part of ourselves, the part that is wild and animalistic.  In our frenetic, technology-driven world, we often lose sight of the fact that we are natural creatures.  A part of us mourns a little when we are cut off utterly from the earth that sustains us and seeks to reconnect with it.  And it’s a little bit like rediscovering the divine when you do find it.

The werewolf walks in both worlds, the human and the natural, giving us that outlet, that connection.

I cast the werewolf into the protagonist’s role in my novel, Becoming Pack, to show that humans are inextricably bound to the natural world, and our actions have consequences.  We need this bond, to remind ourselves that we are not alone, we do not exist in a vacuum.  We require the wild, open spaces and the animals that live there.  Evidence mounts on evidence that each ecosystem is linked to the other, what affects one affects the next and damage to one eventually harms all.

The wolf is an icon of how man can affect the natural world.  In North America, the wolf was the object of a sustained program of eradication, and they nearly succeeded.  It wasn’t until 1973 that the gray and red wolves received federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.  Wolf reintroduction programs began in 1995 in Idaho/Yellowstone.  Today, wolf populations are growing, and their resurgence has helped restore their native habitats.

I  have a very close bond to wolves; I used to work with them, well, two to be specific.  In Becoming Pack, I’ve tried to bring you into the world of the wolf, and what it would feel like to be able to experience the world through the senses of another.  Ultimately, that’s what the werewolf protagonist does for us, gives us a glimpse of the natural world through the eyes of one immersed in it.

Who is your favorite werewolf?  What’s your fascination with the werewolf mythos?  Leave me a comment and tell me about your love of lycanthropy!