Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Restless Spirit, the latest Tipsy Fairy Tale Release from E. Chris Garrison, Available Today!

Seventh Star Press is proud to announce that Restless Spirit, the 2nd Book in the Tipsy Fairy Tales from E. Chris Garrison, is available today!  With a blend of the paranormal, thriller elements, humor, and contemporary fantasy, Restless Spirit will delight readers who enjoyed the first book in the series, Blue Spirit! This release also includes 2 new illustrations by Anne Rosario! Direct links to eBook and print versions are below the cover art here:

eBook Links (all eBook versions are $2.99)

Print Links

Synopsis: When Skye McLeod is asked by her pal Phil Jenson if she wants to cosplay at his game company's booth during Big Con Weekend—and get paid for it—she jumps at the chance. Besides, Skye’s hit a rocky patch with her girlfriend Annabelle, who wants her to stop drinking and act more responsibly.

Then Skye gets a call from paranormal detective Rebecca Burton for another job; something big is going on at the convention, and she needs Skye to be her eyes and ears there. So now Skye’s getting paid to have fun—twice!

Then The Night Duke, a creep from Skye’s live role playing days, shows up and uses some weird mojo, seemingly turning pretend zombies into real ones. After barely escaping an attack, Skye learns the fairies and trolls within the magical realm are getting restless, and her old friend, the Transit King, is in the middle of it.

Skye decides to once again enlist the aid of her fairy companion “Minnie.” For Skye to enter the magic realm, she needs to get tipsy. Then she’ll just have to control the powers within her and contain the outside forces that threaten to spin into chaos. How can she possibly screw this up?

Book Two of the Tipsy Fairy Tales Trilogy

About the Author: E. Chris Garrison writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.

Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a steampunk adventure with a transgender woman as its protagonist. Chris’s supernatural fantasy stories include the Road Ghosts trilogy and the Tipsy Fairy Tales published by Seventh Star Press. These novels are humorous supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk.

Her novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com during a promotion in July 2013.

Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step-daughter and cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Elements of Storytelling—Symbolism, Redux (or how to get it Right)

Handling symbolism in fiction can be pretty tricky. But when done right, it can enrich your fiction in wondrous ways. Throwing it in just to have it in there can be done, but I don’t recommend it. If a certain line from a famous poem keeps showing up, then it better damn well have a connection to the story’s plot or theme, or to a main character. Otherwise, it’ll just be redundant and annoying. 

You also have to avoid the danger of getting too esoteric. After all, it’s pointless to fill your book or film with hidden messages if it goes over the head of the majority of your audience. But then again, if even one person in the theater during a showing of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen jumps up and yells “Jesus Christ has chrome!” when Optimus Prime is brought back to life, then maybe you did your job right after all…

Symbols are also good for foreshadowing later scenes. Like the old saying goes: if you show a gun on a table in Act I, then it better get used by Act III—or something like that. The point is symbolism needs to be more than just symbolic; it needs to fit within the overall structure of the story. Otherwise, all you got is useless fluff. And nothing in your story should be useless—ever. If you like useless, then go write literary and call yourself an aaaaaahhhhtist. Or better yet, learn how to write a real story so you don’t have to.

So yeah, symbolism is cool (Hehehehe, yeah! Cool!). But only when it isn’t overdone and only when it actually matters.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Elements of Storytelling—Symbolism and Iconography in Fiction

While a lot of what I mention is self-evident, I’m actually including source references with this article due to the, ahem, “touchiness,” of some of the symbolic aspects that I mention. So, yeah, you’ve been warned:

Symbols are everywhere, and we are only beginning to understand the full psychological effect on the human psyche. Why are people attracted to certain colors?1 What’s up with the color black always being viewed as a sign of evil or masculine aggression? Why did the Cross (which exists in many forms, like the Egyptian Ankh) give people a sense of protection even before the Christian era?2 And what does all this have to do with writing fiction?

Long before writing and language became the dominant form of communication, ancient humans used to paint symbols onto cave walls to communicate vital information to the rest of their tribes, like the best food to hunt and where to find it.3 So reaction to symbolic imagery was ingrained into the human psyche thousands of years before the first Sumerian cuneiform was created. The skill that ancient humans used to interpret the symbols is what we today call symbolism, better called symbol literacy4.

As writing and language became the dominant communication method our skill in symbol literacy diminished; although, it never completely died out, and much of it became incorporated into the great myths and fairy-tales--the forerunners of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. And it is in those three genres where you find the ancient symbolic iconography appear most often, whether it’s the color symbols used by Edgar Allen Poe or Tolkien representing Sauron as a fiery All-Seeing Eye. Often the image use is a subconscious act during the writing process, but sometimes the writer knows exactly what he’s putting in there and its intended effect.

Nowhere does it become more obvious than in big-budget films like Ultraviolet. You could possibly write an entire book about the symbolic iconography in this film alone, and there are hundreds of films filled with symbols to one extent or another. But let’s just break down one or two of the basics.

In Ultraviolet you have the headquarters of the main antagonist, Dax. The walled compound is in the shape of a cross (a symbol for Life and Resurrection2), and while some of the structures are pyramidal, the main building in the cross’s center possesses a domed roof comprised of triangular glass panes, representing the “dome” of the Sun. Why does the evil guy responsible for tyranny and death dwell here? Because he’s the corruption from within. It’s no accident that the final battle involves flame-covered swords and that the compound gets destroyed by fire, for fire is a two-edged sword that can both destroy and purify at the same time. Throughout the film, the hemophage protagonist, Violet (a color made by the mixing of red with blue, or war with peace) acts as a matronly protective Madonna figure to a child named Six who was engineered with a pathogen that could doom the entire world but also contains the key to possibly cure the hemophages. Six dies, thus saving the world from the pathogen, and Violet’s tears (representing the Water of Life) later “resurrects” Six as a hemophage. Whether the hemophages will one day be cured is left open, but the Twice-Born God2 nature of Six combined with the Isis/Horus (or Mary/Christ) relationship between him and Violet intentionally leaves the viewer feeling hopeful.

In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf the Grey resurrects as Gandalf the White. The color white represents goodness, or the Light. But why does it represent this? Because in ancient times the rise of the Sun meant a new day dawned and they had survived one more night. Night was the most fearful time of all for ancient humans. Predators came out at night who could see at night far better than humans could. That is why night, or darkness (black), was personified as evil; and day, or light (white), was seen as good. This is why white was often viewed as a feminine aspect in matriarchal societies but as a masculine aspect in patriarchal societies. And it is also the reason why the Sun plays such a prominent role in ancient myths all over the world.

Sauron is described as “a great eye, lidless, wreathed in flame” that can pretty much see anything he wants. The All-Seeing Eye is an ancient symbol that represented the Eye of God which the ancients often viewed as being the Sun. So why is a being of evil (or night) pretending to be God? Just as Set seeks to stop Ra, and Satan seeks to stop Christ, because he wishes to be the ruler over all (God); so too does Sauron seek to stop Illuvatar by pretending to be Illuvatar, but he can only succeed at being a cheap imitation.

The above are only tiny examples of the richness and depth to be found in the meaning of symbols that appear in literature, film, music, or even the building you passed on your way to the grocery store. But how can you incorporate such richness to enhance your own fiction?

The first step is to understand that the symbols cannot become the story, they only serve to enhance the story you’re trying to tell or to provide a “hidden” story within the story (which Neil Gaiman does quite often).

Second, unless you plan to let your subconscious have all the fun, you have to know your symbols. A good book to get is Elisabeth Goldsmith’s Ancient Pagan Symbols. That book is the mother load of ancient symbols and their meanings. A good study of the psychological influence symbols and colors can have on the human mind can be found, of all places, on YouTube: Michael Tsarion--The Subversive Use of Sacred Symbolism in the Media. It’s in eleven parts and is an eye-opener to the amount of ancient symbols people get bombarded with on a daily basis and how corporations use them to sell their products. Tsarion is well-known among the alternative research field, and many of his views on other things fall in the category of conspiracy theory. However, I find his work on symbolism well-researched and much along the lines of what people like Elisabeth Goldsmith, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Joseph Campell has written or said on the subject. So, Dan Brown, eat your heart out.

And last but not least, read Poe. Poe knew symbolism, and more importantly he knew how to incorporate them into his stories without making it too obvious. Of course, if you try to bombard your readers like Poe did, you better know exactly what you’re doing; otherwise, it’ll fall flat.

But whether you decide to bombard the human psyche with “in-your-face” iconography, use it sparingly to enhance a scene or two, or just study it to learn what your subconscious had known all along, one thing is for certain. Once you become symbol literate, you’ll never again see the world through the same eyes.

And, with a little luck and some skill, neither will your readers.


1. Color Theory--Color Lessons in Art and Design.                                                                                        http://www.artyfactory.com/color_theory/color_theory_2.htm

2. Goldsmith, Elisabeth (2003, June 11). Ancient Pagan Symbols (Illustrated Edition). Red Wheel.

3. Cave Paintings. New World Encyclopedia. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Cave_painting