Explore with Elise!

I love to explore! There are so many mysteries all around us, just waiting to be uncovered. Would you like to come with me on some of these explorations? I know it sounds weird to suggest this when we’re not in the same room or even the same city, but here’s how we’ll do it…

FIRST: I’ll write about some of my explorations and post them on this page – anything from adventures with my characters; to what I wish I’d known about writing when I was Meylyne’s age; to how I find beauty and inspiration in the world around me. 

NEXT: You’ll write down anything and everything that happens in your mind when you’re reading about my adventures – you can use words, pictures, or even record yourself.  Then you’ll send that to me at elise@whyismud.com

We’ll just keep talking back and forth as long as we like! I might even post some of your thoughts here on my site (with your permission). 

Note; if the article contains a chapter number, it will contain information from that chapter in the book. So don’t read the article unless you’ve read chapter in the book, or the article may contain spoilers!

Are you ready? Read on, and let’s find out!

Chapter 10: When It’s Okay To Take Your Eye Off The Ball

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “keep your eye on the ball.” In sports, it tends to mean exactly that—keep your eye on the ball! Outside of sports, it’s a metaphor for staying focused on your goal or task and not on the myriad distractions bombarding you.

Generally it’s an excellent rule of thumb to follow. But let’s say another, equally important ball bounces into the picture. Which ball do you keep your eye on?

Meylyne faces this dilemma in this chapter. Up until now, her goal (aka her ball) has been to find a cure for Prince Piam so that she may return home. But when she discovers that Glendoch’s guardian has been poisoned, her friends are convinced that they must abandon their search for Piam’s cure to find a cure for the guardian instead. Meylyne is torn. Piam’s cure has been the object of her desire for so long that it’s hard for her to switch tracks.

At this point, she could dig in her heels and say, “No—we came on this journey to find a cure for Prince Piam and we must finish what we started.” I don’t think she could be blamed for wanting to stay her course. She’d be keeping her eye on the ball, right? (more…)

Chapter 9: Be brave—don’t make assumptions!

In this chapter, Meylyne is mortified when Blue reveals to Grimorex that her father is Meph—Glendoch’s notorious outlaw. She assumes Grimorex will think there’s something wrong with her, just like everyone else at home. This makes her feel so bad about herself that she becomes cold and defensive. It would be no surprise if Grimorex did think there was something wrong with her, the way she acts. In other words, her behavior would have caused the very thing she was worried about—not her father!

(As it is, Grimorex is intrigued by Meph and does not think worse of Meylyne in the slightest—if anything he thinks having Meph for a father is pretty cool.)

This sort of thing happens so often. We misinterpret others’ actions and words and it causes all sorts of unnecessary drama. Often it causes us to bring about the sort of drama that, before we acted on our assumptions, exists only in our heads! (more…)

Chapter 6: If at first you don’t succeed … destroy all the evidence and pretend you never tried.

I laughed when I first read this quote. It’s so opposite from what we’re taught we ought to feel about the ritual of trying and failing, and yet so wonderfully human. It can be embarrassing to think you tried and did not succeed. Sometimes it feels safer not to try at all!

Thing is though, we don’t always have a choice.

In this chapter, Meylyne gets caught by ferocious Hyldas who demand she turn a bird back into a boy. This requires a spell at which she is convinced she will fail miserably. The Hyldas give her no choice, however. If she doesn’t do as they say, the consequences will be dire for her and her friend.

Now, in some instances, this sort of pressure works in our favor. When others believe we are capable of this or that, we push ourselves and rise to the challenge. We end up doing better than we ever thought we could. (more…)

Chapter 5: Let The Games Begin!

In this chapter, Meylyne learns that she must steal from a tribe of merciless Hyldas—guardians of the Warrior-Realm—if she and Hope are to survive. In the archetype of the hero’s journey, this is seen as initiation—a test (one of many) that the hero has to pass if she is to succeed on her quest. Initiation is much beloved in the world of the myths and adventures. There heaps of stories with miraculous tests and ordeals in which heroes are secretly helped by advice and tools from supernatural helpers they met before. To paraphrase the author of THE HERO’S JOURNEY, Joseph Campbell—

“The adventure is everywhere and the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades.” (more…)

Chapter 4: When you and your BFF disagree

In this chapter we see that Train wants to accompany Meylyne on her dangerous journey. This is what best friends do, right? We stick by each other. Sometimes it’s as if we have one mind—we agree on everything.

Well, not really. But that’s what’s expected of us. So what happens if your best friend wants you to stick by her and you don’t agree with her? Most likely you feel pressured to support her anyway. I used to have a very sensitive best friend that was easily offended and she would get mad at people a lot. She always expected me to fight her battles with her—to shut people out if she was angry with them and so on. Given the perception that “best friends always agree” her expectation isn’t out of the ordinary. It is unrealistic. I didn’t always agree with her but did I say so?

No. I was afraid she would leave me if I did. (more…)

Chapter 3: Have you ever resisted a “Call to Adventure?”

In Chapter Three, Meylyne visits the Well of M’Yhr to ask for advice, but when the Well tells her she must go to the Valley of Half-Light to cure Prince Piam, she thinks the Well is crazy—no way is she going to the home to the sinister, soul-eating Sphers! She runs home, determined to find another way out of her problem.

In the archetypal theme of the hero’s journey this is called the Refusal of the Call to Adventure. If the journey is to continue, the hero will have to change her or his mind and accept the call after all. In Meylyne’s case, she has no choice but to accept once she finds out what the alternative is.

For most of us, our Calls to Adventure are not as extreme. We get lots of them without even noticing. For example, I used to work for a wonderful recruiting agency. I loved my team and the women that ran the company, so when I heard that the owners were selling the agency to a bigger company, I was sad. Then a colleague approached me to ask me if I’d be interested in starting a company with her. My first reaction was, “what a crazy idea! Go out on our own? No thanks!” (more…)

Chapter 2; When your mother is a witch (and other embarrassments)

In this chapter we learn that Meylyne has two best friends. Or, in her words, “her only friends.” For this she blames her “scary mother and even scarier father.” No one else in the Between-World has an outlaw Garlysle for a father and a brilliant sorceress for a mother so what chance does she have at fitting in?

Well actually, if everyone else knew alchemy, or if she had grown up with a bunch of mafia kids, her parents wouldn’t be a problem at all. She’d be the same as everyone else. The real problem is that her parents make her feel different from the other children.

Feeling different can be complicated. I don’t think anyone really wants to feel ordinary. At the same time, feeling very different from the norm can be alienating and embarrassing. When I was a child, I moved twice—once when I was 10 and once when I was 14. Both times I felt incredibly different from my new classmates … and not in a good way. Mind you, both times I survived, thanks to the small posse of friends I made (and by the way, having two friends, like Meylyne, is plenty). (more…)

Chapter 1: Do you have the Disease to Please?

Have you ever broken a rule to get someone’s approval?
Sounds backward doesn’t it? Usually you obey rules to get approval, but in this chapter, Meylyne trespasses in the Above-World to find something that her mother had lost. What does that tell you about their relationship?

Personally, I never had to do anything so extreme for approval. I kept my room tidy, did my piano practice and got good grades … and was rewarded! I really enjoyed being told I was a good girl. I became addicted to the approval I received from being the good girl. I never said “no” because that’s not what good girls do. I never asked for more because that was not polite. I was a good friend—I supported others when they had problems to talk about. Nothing wrong with that but if there was something I thought they wouldn’t like hearing, I often left it out. Oprah calls this the disease to please. (more…)

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