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A Dictionary of Greek Myths & Norse Mythology

I was reading Plato in middle school, and become so obsessed with Greek mythology I got a PhD in Comparative Literature… but that was a long time ago, when I was a poor grad student learning to write ancient Greek and Chinese characters by hand at the train station.

Now I write novels, and it’s super rewarding – especially when I get to base my stories on classic Greek mythology. My books go deep on more obscure myths from world folklore, but I hope to share my passion for these characters by creating a new series featuring lore, legends and fan art from each ancient god, goddess, demigod, supernatural creature or demon…

For now, start with free dictionary of mythology, organized by region/culture. It’s quick cheatsheet and will be very cool once I add art.

Greek Mythology

  • Zeus (Zues): The king of the gods, ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky, lightning, thunder, and law.
  • Athena: Goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, and warfare.
  • Aphrodite: Goddess of love and beauty.
  • Ares: God of war.
  • Artemis: Goddess of the hunt, wilderness, and childbirth.
  • Atlas: Titan condemned to hold up the sky for eternity.
  • Eros: God of love and desire.
  • Hekate (Hecate): Goddess of magic, witchcraft, and crossroads.
  • Scylla: A monstrous sea nymph turned into a creature with six dog heads.
  • Hades: God of the underworld.
  • Persephone: Queen of the underworld, wife of Hades, and goddess of spring growth.
  • Dionysus: God of wine, pleasure, and festivity.
  • Minotaur: A creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man, confined to the Labyrinth in Crete.
  • Hephaestus: God of metalworking and craftsmanship.
  • Ares: God of war.
  • Hydra: A multi-headed serpent that regrows its heads when cut off.
  • Hera: Queen of the gods and goddess of marriage and childbirth.
  • Aeolus: Keeper of the winds.
  • Basilisc: A serpent or dragon known to kill with its gaze.
  • Adonis: A youth loved by both Aphrodite and Persephone.
  • Daphne: A nymph who was turned into a laurel tree to escape Apollo’s advances.
  • Cerberus: The three-headed dog guarding the gates of the underworld.
  • Morpheus: God of dreams.
  • Centaur: A creature with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse.
  • Nemesis: Goddess of retribution.
  • Nymph: Minor nature goddesses.
  • Chimera: A creature with parts from different animals, often lion, goat, and serpent.
  • Hestia: Goddess of the hearth and home.
  • Helios: Titan god of the sun.
  • Medusa: Once a beautiful woman, Medusa was cursed with snake hair and a gaze that turns anyone to stone.
  • Erinyes: Deities of vengeance.
  • Echidna: Mother of monsters and half-woman, half-snake.
  • Hyperion: Titan of heavenly light.
  • Sirens: Creatures that lured sailors with their enchanting music.
  • Nyx: Primordial goddess of the night.
  • Prometheus: Titan who defied Zeus to bring fire to humanity.
  • Thanatos: God of death.
  • Perseus: A hero known for beheading Medusa.
  • Gorgon: Three sisters, including Medusa, known for their petrifying gaze.
  • Manticore: A creature with the body of a lion, wings of a bat, and the face of a man.
  • Rhea: Titaness and mother of many Olympian gods.
  • Harpy: A creature with the body of a bird and the head of a woman.
  • Poisedon (Poseidon): God of the sea.
  • Satyr: Creatures with human upper bodies and the legs of goats.
  • Thalia: Muse of comedy and pastoral poetry.
  • Priapus: Minor god of fertility.
  • Maia: One of the Pleiades and mother to Hermes.
  • Psyche: Mortal woman who became the wife of Eros.
  • Io: Mortal woman and lover of Zeus, turned into a cow to hide her from Hera.
  • Lamia: A woman turned into a child-eating monster.
  • Chiron: The wisest of all centaurs.

Japanese Mythology

  • Shinto God of War: There isn’t one specific god of war in Shinto mythology, but several kami (deities) have martial attributes. One example is Hachiman, the god of war and archery.
  • Shinigami: Spirits associated with death, similar in nature to the Western Grim Reaper, though they can be plural.
  • Qilin: While Qilin is often associated with Chinese mythology, it’s known in Japan as “Kirin.” It’s a mythical hooved chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures.

Egyptian Mythology

  • God of Death: Anubis, god of mummification and afterlife. He has a jackal’s head and is known for guiding souls in the underworld.
  • Eye of Horus: An ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power, and good health.
  • Osiris: God of the afterlife, death, and resurrection.
  • Ankhesenamun: Wife of the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamun, not a goddess but a significant figure in Egyptian history.
  • Ashera: Often associated with Canaanite mythology rather than Egyptian. Asherah is a mother goddess.

Norse Mythology

  • Sakaar: It’s not from Norse mythology but a fictional planet from the Marvel Universe. However, Thor, a Norse god, is featured there in the Marvel adaptations.
  • Jormungandr: The Midgard Serpent, a sea serpent so large it can encircle the world.
  • Asgard: The heavenly realm where the Aesir tribe of deities resides.
  • Freya: Goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, and war.
  • Mimir: A being known for his knowledge and wisdom.
  • Helm of Awe: A symbol of protection and might, but also of the power to achieve one’s aims.
  • Ragnarok: The series of events that will bring about the end of the world, where gods, giants, and creatures will perish in battle.
  • Valknut: A symbol associated with the god Odin, death, and the afterlife.
  • Niflheim: One of the Nine Worlds, a place of ice, cold, and mist.

Slavic Mythology

  • Baba Yaga: A witch-like character who flies around in a mortar, wielding a pestle. She can be malevolent or benevolent, depending on specific tales.
  • Koschei: Often known as Koschei the Deathless, he’s a powerful and evil figure associated with a particular tale of kidnapping the hero’s wife.

Other Mythologies and Folklore

  • Medusa (Greek): A gorgon with snakes for hair. Those who look into her eyes turn to stone.
  • Cleopatra (Historical): Not a mythical figure but the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt.
  • Phoenix Bird (Various): A mythical bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.
  • Pied Piper (German Legend): A rat-catcher from Hamelin who lured rats and then children away with his magical pipe.
  • Emerald Tablets (Alchemy): A text attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and influential on alchemists.
  • Wendigo (Algonquian folklore): A mythical man-eating creature or evil spirit.
  • Immurement (Practice): The practice of entombing someone within a structure, where they die from lack of food and water. Not a mythological creature but a dark historical practice.
  • Enochian (Magical system): A system of ceremonial magic centered on the evocation and commanding of spirits. It’s based on the 16th-century writings of John Dee and Edward Kelley.
  • Oshun (Yoruba): A goddess of love, beauty, wealth, and divine order.
  • Baron Samedi (Vodou): One of the Loa of Haitian Vodou, Baron Samedi is the loa of the dead.
  • Seal of Solomon: A magical signet ring attributed to King Solomon in medieval Islamic tradition, later also in Jewish and Western occultism.
  • Charybdis (Greek): A sea monster or whirlpool that threatens sailors.
  • Faerie (Celtic): Mythological creatures or spirits, often described as metaphysical, supernatural, or preternatural.
  • Jian Shi (Jiangshi, Chinese): Also known as a hopping vampire or hopping corpse, it’s a reanimated corpse in Chinese legends and folklore.
  • Lilith (Jewish folklore): Often associated with the mythological female demon, later folklore portrays Lilith as Adam’s first wife.
  • Greek Fire (Byzantine Empire): Not a myth but a weapon. It was a technological invention of the Byzantine Empire, an incendiary weapon used in naval warfare.
  • Aztlan (Aztec): The ancestral home of the Nahua tribes, believed to be an island.
  • Tiamat (Babylonian): A chaos monster, a primordial goddess of the ocean.
  • Jacob’s Ladder (Biblical): A ladder to heaven that the biblical Patriarch Jacob dreams about.
  • Centurion (Roman): Not mythical, but historical. A centurion was a professional officer in the Roman army.
  • Fertility Goddess (Various): A goddess that represents fertility and motherhood. Examples include Isis from Egyptian mythology and Freyja from Norse mythology.
  • Aluxe (Mayan): Also known as Alux, these are spirits of the forest in Mayan tradition.
  • Manananggal (Philippine folklore): A creature known to sever its upper torso to fly at night and suck the blood from sleeping victims.
  • Hatshepsut (Historical): A female pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt.
  • Kratos (Greek): Represents strength and might, but notably, the God of War video games depict Kratos in a narrative that is not traditional to ancient myths.
  • Orichalcum: A metal mentioned in several ancient writings, most famously in the story of Atlantis as described by Plato.
  • Fiji Mermaid: A common feature of sideshows, it’s an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish.
  • Lovelock Cave: An archaeological site in Nevada, not a myth but has ties to Paiute Native American legends.
  • Ark of the Covenant: A gold-covered wooden chest described in the Book of Exodus that contains the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.
  • Vajra (Buddhist): A ritual object symbolizing both the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force).

The Best Digital Ebook Devices (2023) for Your Interstellar Adventures: Navigating the Cosmos of E-Readers

This is a list of the best ebook devices for 2023, but I got super carried away with the “scifi” theme…

Attention, sci-fi aficionados! Just picture it – you’re about to embark on a galaxy-hopping escapade, or traverse the vertigo-inducing multiverse. But wait! These aren’t merely the next chapters in your favorite space odyssey. This is a call to transport your riveting narrative experiences into a realm of pixel precision and electronic elegance. This is a journey of transitioning from the familiar rustle of aged pages to the crystal clarity of e-ink. Welcome to the expansive universe of e-readers.

In this digital age, the once stark contrast between paper and pixel seems to blur more with each passing moment. E-readers have burst onto the contemporary scene in all their sleek, portable, and high-tech glory, no less enticing than a gleaming spaceship in the heart of a sci-fi epic. These devices promise a reading adventure that’s immersive yet comfortable, traditional yet refreshingly modern.

Whether you’re plunging into the fluctuating realities of Philip K. Dick or exploring the dystopian alleys of Orwell’s creation, e-readers ensure every word, every alien character, is delivered in pristine quality. From eye-soothing displays that mimic the charm of physical print to dazzling features like adjustable fonts, night modes, on-the-go libraries, and much more, these devices are the chrono-jumpers of the reading realm.

Ready to feel the pulse of outer-worldly narratives reverberating through a cutting-edge e-reader? Well then, it’s time to embark on this captivating exploration of the best e-reading devices in the galaxy. Let’s journey from the world of classic ten-finger page flipping to the cosmic ease of single-finger page swiping on sleek screens. Prepare yourself for an era where your entire library dwells comfortably within the universe of a single device. Let’s embrace the merging of the past and the future that e-readers represent, and dive into narratives in a way like never before. Buckle up, it’s time we leaped into the digital unknown.

The Best Digital Companions for Your Interstellar Adventures

Reading science fiction is all about embarking on endless adventures across the universe. Yet, wouldn’t it only be fair if the device you’re reading these tales on, would match up to the futuristic narrative of the books? Here’s a curated list of top-notch e-readers available today, devices that will transport you right into the thick of your next sci-fi odyssey.

1. Amazon Kindle Oasis

Priced at $249.99, Amazon’s Kindle Oasis is the epitome of e-reading luxury. Its ergonomic design focuses on comfort, showcasing a thin and lightweight design that you can hold effortlessly for hours. The adjustable warm light feature gives your eyes the care they deserve while you traverse the gallows of Dystopia or race through the space-time continuum. Another worthy aspect is its notable waterproof feature, enabling you to continue your reading adventures even on a rainy day or by the beachside. Experience this blend of comfort and sophistication here.

2. Kobo Clara HD

The Kobo Clara HD, priced at $119.99, is what your wildest dreams of a perfect budget e-reader look like. A high-resolution 300 PPI display makes every alien symbol look crisp. The ComfortLight Pro technology adjusts the screen light according to the time of day, ensuring your eyes never strain while decoding some alien language or maneuvering through the cosmos. Plunge into this budget-friendly yet top-quality e-reading experience here.

3. Barnes & Noble NOOK GlowLight 3

Designed with dedicated e-readers in mind, the NOOK GlowLight 3 ( $119.99) boasts a soft-touch finish that’s comfortable to hold for long reading sessions. With an impressive 300 PPI display and an adaptive night mode that reduces blue light emission, your interplanetary explorations will be a treat for your eyes. This e-reader is a refuge for your sci-fi adventures, accessible here.

4. Onyx Boox Nova 3

The Onyx Boox Nova 3, priced at $329.99, is the powerhouse among e-readers. Powered by an octa-core processor, this device covers all your multitasking needs, whether it’s opening multiple science fiction novels or taking quick notes about your favorite character. Its high-resolution display supports stylus input, allowing you to highlight words or jot down thoughts without ever leaving your page. Check out this multifaceted e-reading companion here.

5. Pocketbook InkPad 3

Priced at $209, the Pocketbook InkPad 3 redefines the boundaries of e-reading comfort. It’s aesthetically pleasing, featuring a 7.8 -inch E Ink Carta HD touchscreen that provides the perfect stage for even the most complex galactic battles to unfold. With a built-in audio jack, it’s perfect for immersing yourself entirely in your sci-fi world while listening to your favorite music or even audiobooks. Dive into this audio-visual reading experience here.

Each of these e-readers provides a unique and captivating reading experience, much like the science fiction books they hold within them. They not only make reading more enjoyable but also echo the technological advancements we often read about in these captivating tales. Choose the one that best suits your reading style and prepare for an epic journey through time and space.

How to write a thrilling fantasy novel (book writing tips for authors)

I’m my own worst enemy.

As a cover designer and book editor, I used to tell authors to get a simple blog and keep it updated, but this blog broke and I ignored it for two years. Even though I’ve published 25+ in the last 5 years (and sold nearly 100K copies), I’ve neglected this blog almost entirely.

I prefer to be writing, and this might resonate with you. Writing is instantly gratifying. It feels feel and easy to be creative. I’m a big fan of nanowrimo and getting out a messy rough draft, but I also spent 10 years getting a PhD in literature and another ten putting out writing tips and publishing content, that’s gotten millions of views.

And yet…

My actual fiction writing blog barely gets 50 visitors a day, something I hope to correct as I finally finish some series and see a big boost in income. Most of my sales will come from social media marketing and advertising, but invariably some authors will start checking out my website to see why I’m selling so well and come away scratching their heads.

The secret is, this isn’t my only blog.

I have several – too many to maintain – so many of them are crap. But the only I occasionally use, where I talk most about book writing, is creativindie. I put together a massive resource recently on how to write a book so you can start there. I even have a free summer camp writing program where you can get advanced writing tips that will make the process much easier.

How do you actually start writing a book?

I see this question all over, all the time, and it’s impossible to answer outside of a flippant meme. Most people will tell you, just start writing, do whatever is fun, don’t do it if it isn’t easy. But writing is only fun for awhile – so then the question is, how or why should I keep writing when it isn’t fun and easy any more, and that’s a much harder question to answer. I wrote a whole book about the magic of writing, but most people say it’s boring and prefer my very simple novel structure plotting template cheatsheets.

I’m a big fan of plotting.

So you know what happens next and don’t get stuck. But it’s something you have to learn. It’s a bit like training wheels, so you can practice safely and end up with a real, whole story, instead of a bunch of great scenes and characters that you have no idea what to do with.

Not everybody loves plotting, and that’s fine. But you’ll get stuck at some point, and knowing about story structure is the only way to get unstuck; apart from a “deus ex machina” – something ridiculous and unbelievable – with a neat but unsatisfying resolution.

You need to know what you’re writing and who you’re writing it for.

Many/most authors write for themselves; their enjoyment. They think it’s a selling feature that their book isn’t like any other, and they did no market research… it isn’t. That doesn’t mean it won’t sell. But readers get to decide what’s good or not, and nobody else. If you don’t know what they like or respond to, you can’t hope to hit it.

This is basic stuff, but a good story is about a series of events that forces a character to change. The 8point plot dot or 24-chapter structure outlines help construct a strong support for that eventual shift; it’s important to keep up the momentum.

But plotting isn’t everything; you can plot well and still write poorly. But intrigue, suspense, thrills… are also not about the words you choose or your writing capability. They are about the absence of information. Writing a good novel that readers keep reading is all about creating open story loops, by increasing unresolved weirdness, they keep reading to find out what is happening.

If you info-dump them to death in the first few pages, or nothing new/weird/unexplained is happening, they’ll probably get bored. Information management is a critical writing skill that almost nobody else talks about, and I’ve spent years trying to figure it out. Don’t worry, you can learn it in a one hour video, but it’d be easier to sign up for my writing course – which will save you thousands of dollars in developmental editing.

My writing process

Another author’s writing process isn’t always useful, but here’s mine: I look at pretty book covers until I see something I love enough to tell a story for it. I figure out the genre and audience and tropes, and read some bestsellers to get a feel. I use my plotting templates to kind of figure out the basic story.

Then I research the locations, ancient myths, and fill in the blanks with a lot of my personal experiences.

I’m very good at procrastinating, so I can’t really work unless I absolutely force myself – that means, I do nothing else until I write, or I write before I do anything else. There’s two parts of writing: drafting and revision.

  • I like to draft books on a bluetooth keyboard on my iphone, at a nice coffeeshop or on the couch. I do 20 minute sprints and can sometimes get around 3000 words in a few hours. That’s a pretty good day, but those are rare.
  • When I have those words, I past it into my Word doc on my desktop until it’s mostly fleshed out. I’ll always find new scenes I didn’t plan that need to be written.
  • Then I take that big, messy file and start editing.
  • I go through, 4 to 7 rounds.

I have a whole video about this process, but I start with the structure and story, then move on to character motivations to make their actions believable, then scene description and only then, proofreading. You can’t do everything all at once.

What no one tells you about writing

Writing a book is mostly revision, at least for me, but not for everyone.

When you first finish a rough draft, you probably aren’t really finished at all. You shouldn’t be asking for feedback. It’s like seeing a diamond in the mountain and asking people how to get it out. They might point to a thousand different reasons why your book sucks, but no one thing will solve all your problems.

Everything is a structure problem, not a “writing” problem.

You can write poorly and still write great books. The only thing that matters is if it holds their attention.

Creating a whole book is lonely, exhausting and draining. I feel tired all the time, but braindead after working on my book for awhile. But it’s also very rewarding, after you can finally see what you’ve built.

And you can learn it. But not from scanning a few online blog posts or writing tips. You need to learn it for real, which means a lot of study and a lot of practice. Or don’t, maybe you’re a gifted savant… if so, thanks for visiting my site and please leave some of your magic.

PS. I apologize for not actually answering the question in the title… but I’ve answered it in thousands of ways already over the past decade and it’s easier to point to some of my resources than always start over from scratch. It’s a very big topic. I’ll try to do better next time.