Elf Mastery Blog
During this time of Disney live-action remakes, I saw a discussion online regarding the why. A few people stepped in to claim Disney had to remake their films to maintain their rights to their stories. I pointed out that almost every Disney film, and in particular the ones being remade, is based on a story that already exists in the public domain. (That is, everyone can make a movie about The Little Mermaid, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, etc.) as long as they do not steal additions, songs, etc. from the Disney versions. Out of curiosity I began seeking out pre-Disney versions of these stories. I started with Mulan, and found a Chinese opera from the 1960s (and evidence of earlier versions, though I couldn't find copies online). In particular I sought out older versions of the Little Mermaid, and thought I would share my findings.
Before I do, I just wanted to mention that the ending of the original Hans Christian Anderson tale was in part an inspiration for the character of Aura in Elf Mastery. Aura often proclaims herself a Daughter of the Air, which is a term used in English translations to describe what happens to the little mermaid after she dies. (If you are not aware, in the original fairy tale, the prince marries someone else and the little mermaid turns into the foam of the sea). An important element of the original story was that the little mermaid wasn't just in love with the prince: mermaids have no immortal soul, as do humans, but by the prince falling in love with her and marrying her, she was to be able to share his soul and receive admission to the afterlife with him. Without this, her death would mean her end. She is given the opportunity to save herself by turning herself back into a mermaid before she dies: her sisters purchased a knife from the sea witch. If she stabs the prince in the heart and lets the blood wash her feet, she will re-grow her tail and be able to return to the sea. She refuses, and submits to die herself, only for her sacrifice is rewarded by being allowed to join the Daughters of the Air, who tell her
“A mermaid has not an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human being. On the power of another hangs her eternal destiny. But the daughters of the air, although they do not possess an immortal soul, can, by their good deeds, procure one for themselves. We fly to warm countries, and cool the sultry air that destroys mankind with the pestilence. We carry the perfume of the flowers to spread health and restoration. After we have striven for three hundred years to all the good in our power, we receive an immortal soul and take part in the happiness of mankind. You, poor little mermaid, have tried with your whole heart to do as we are doing; you have suffered and endured and raised yourself to the spirit-world by your good deeds; and now, by striving for three hundred years in the same way, you may obtain an immortal soul.”
(Accessed online at http://hca.gilead.org.il/li_merma.html)
Thus the Daughters of the Air carry the wind, cooling the air, and spreading the perfumed scents of flowers, and the inspiration for Aura.
Now I have found many versions of pre-Disney Little Mermaid, and would like to post them here. So far they are all available on Youtube, though there is one from a Spanish film called Fantasia 3 that I have not been able to locate. (Help in this regard would be appreciated.) Without further ado, here they are, in no particular order:
1) The first is a Czech version from 1976. It is live action, but not exactly high budget. The mermaids live under the sea, but have legs instead of fish-tails. I do like the costumes, and there is a song I rather like starting about 6 minutes in.
2) This one is also from 1976, but from Russia. A bit of a higher budget affair than the Czech version, but less stylized.
3) There is an earlier Russian version. The link I provide says 1960, but another I saw said 1968. Wikipedia also says 1968. The first 3 minutes are an intro. The animation becomes much more interesting after 3 minutes in. I find the style of animation quite unique and interesting, if not the storytelling itself.
4) This one is possibly a better well-known pre-Disney version. It is a Japanese animation from 1975. I grew up watching this at my cousins' house.
5) In 1958 Shirley Temple did a TV series called Shirley Temple's Storybook. Each episode re-enacts a famous tale. One of these episodes was The Little Mermaid. The best part is her visit to the sea witch.
6) Reader's Digest made an animated narration of the story in the 1970s. The video says 1975, but I think that's a typo, as the description and IMDB both say 1974.
7) There was a 1966 movie called The Daydreamer which tells the story of an unfocused protagonist (who I believe is supposed to be Hans Christian Anderson, though he is credited as Chris) who keeps daydreaming elements of his stories. It has a lot of big stars of the time, including Patty Duke and Boris Karloff. Hayley Mills voices the Mermaid. The Little Mermaid segment takes place from about 17:00-35:00 minutes marks.
8) Danny Kaye did a movie about Hans Christian Anderson in 1952. A short portion of the film is a ballet version of the Little Mermaid. I don't think this clip is complete (it cuts off when she rescues the prince), but I can't find any more of this segment.
Well, that's what I've found so far. Kind of neat to see all these interpretations of the same story. Just need to find a copy of Fantasia 3 to get the version by Eloy de la Iglesia. If anyone else has any other pre-Disney versions, let me know!
I've wanted to do an audio recording of my books since I started and just really got around to it. Not professionally recorded voice acted, but free for now. I'm posting on soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/orion24601.
Just realize I never posted on the Interior Health newsletter I was in. I have been volunteering at the hospital over a year now running Virtual Reality for patients with my Vive. Even got a shout out from the CEO earlier this week at a volunteer event. Here's the little article from the internal newsletter (I never actually got my own copy, as I don't work for the hospital, so a friend sent it to me).
During my research for my final paper, I came across a study titled Differential engagement of brain regions within a 'core' network during scene construction. (Found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850391/). Though admittedly I don't understand all the technical details of the study, I thought the conclusion perhaps provided an interesting tip for creating scenes in a book. The authors of the study provided phrases and instructed subjects to form an image in their mind using the descriptive phrases. They found that "three elements [descriptive phrases] were sufficient to make a coherent and vivid scene, and once this was achieved, the addition of further elements seemed to involve only maintenance or small changes to that established scene."
I think we have all read books with blocks of description, through which we skim and don't pay much attention. I wonder if part of this is because we have visualized the scene early on and the remaining descriptive phrases are simply clutter as they no longer assist our brain in visualization. This means scene description can be fairly brief, and still be as effective as one that is carefully mapped out.
Not that I think it is entirely that simple. The study itself goes into a lot more detail than I will here, but it seems there is certainly a more effective order to introduce descriptive phrases in a scene (As an example, as the first descriptive scene is introduced without a context, a general description of the setting/background, such as a verdant forest or dark room, may provide a context to which further description can be added.
And I don't think descriptive phrases need to be limited by three, only that three is the optimal amount for visualization. Other sensory descriptions (such as smell) may still add depth to the scene without being discarded as clutter.
Let's try an example, using three descriptive phrases: 'Verdant forest', 'blossoming pink peonies', 'small thatched cottage', Even without placing these into narrative form, I have a clear visual of a scene of a quaint, well-kept cottage surrounded by flowers in the middle of a beautiful forest. Now, I might want to add some auditory and olfactory description, such as the buzzing of bees and the smell of bread wafting through the window. Now the forest has come to life, and the cottage is surely inhabited as can be told by someone baking. Minimal description for maximal effect.
Anyway this is a strategy I plan to implement in my writing. And if anyone understands neuroscience better than I do, any further insight into the results of this study would be appreciated!
It's been awhile so I thought I'd check in! I am nearing the end of my Master's program so hopefully this will lead to more writing time. I am currently working on completion of the first third of Book 3 (Elf Righteous), which I think is going very well. It takes place 5 years after Elf Doubt and follows Kyla as she helps a small rebellion against the Empress Aethelwyne. I won't go into too many details here, but many people may wonder why the five-year gap, especially after the cliffhanger ending of Elf Doubt. Truth to tell the storyline between the two books felt too episodic to work into a novel. It occurred to me that, as I had originally conceived Elf Mastery as a TV show, the years between would be well-suited for a series. So though I am trying to complete the books as a complete story, I feel there is room to pitch it as a show again after the books are done without ruining any continuity. And in case that never happens (and I have limited optimism that it will work out), the books work fine without it.
Just had an interview posted on Polish and Pitch: here is the link!
Do you want to buy an Elf Mastery T-Shirt? Well, now you can! Not only am I an author, but I've recently become a fashion baron. Here is the link to my Elf Mastery shirt. If you are in the US you can order it here:
In Canada, you can order it from Zazzle:
I have a bunch of other designs as well. Check them out! The more you buy, the richer I become!
I have 5 days/wuarter with KDP select to give away free ebooks as promotions, though I have not yet taken much effort into advertising these days. I have just posted a promotion for August 5 for free copies of the ebook version of Elf Mastery, if anyone is interested! The link to the book is on a button on the right side of the page.
I just learned about a new tool to analyze reviews!
So, lately I've been trying to market both Elf Doubt and my new Amazon merch page and have been trying to understand how to do this more effectively. I am determined, however, to be as honest as possible in my approach (ie. not using fake reviews, etc).
I just learned about a web site where you can input a url to an item's page on Amazon and it will analyze the quality of the reviews. It then grades the product relative to the quality of the reviews. Well, it turns out despite my small number of reviews on Amazon for Elf Mastery, I got an A! Which means my score on Amazon, however humble might be my number of reviews, is based on honest comments. (link to my analysis is here: https://www.fakespot.com/product/elf-mastery)
I was disappointed to find that other authors seem to cheat a lot. I ran another author's book through and was disappointed that she got an F, with many of her reviews perceived as being from bots or too exaggerated on the positive. I'm not going to name names, but as I am confident she has decent sales, and I still struggle, it begs the question as whether honesty is worth it in sales.
I'm not debating or lamenting my determination to keep my advertising honest, but it is a bitter pill to work hard and do your best to be honest, only to see yourself passed along the road by those willing to cheat.
I guess, at the end of the day, I am still proud of myself and my books, despite being left in the dust.
Piers Anthony once again agreed to read my book! Here is what he had to say:
I read Elf Doubt by Bryant Reil. I read the author's first novel in this series, Elf Mastery, in 2016. My aging memory is not what it once was, and the details of the first book have faded, but I remember liking Kyla, the perky and sometimes headstrong tree-dwelling elf girl. In this sequel Kyla quickly gets on a new mission and into serious trouble. It is a restless time, politically, with threats against the existing order, and she discovers that it's hard to trust anyone else, including the queen herself. Details are complicated, with many intertwining threads, and violence and death strike all around her. She seems to have been selected for some special purpose, but she doesn't know what it might be, and her friends may not really be her friends. By the end the king and queen have been dispatched, and Kyla is chief of one group and queen of another, without much notion what she should be doing or whether she is likely to survive long enough to find out. In fact the story becomes grim, and it is not yet done, as this book ends in the middle of the action. So this is no sweet gentle innocent girl story. I suspect that much anguish remains before it ends.
Bryant Reil currently resides in Kelowna, BC. Recent accomplishments include completing a Master's degree, and having finished two books, Elf Mastery and Elf Doubt. The third book, Elf Righteous, is underway.