Long before Dorothy came to Oz, Glinda and the Wizard changed everything.

Author’s Vision

Epistolary Novels – letter by letter

Image of a handwritten note with a pen, representing The Glinda Letters, A Hidden History of Oz story.

An Epistolary Story is one told through letters.

What is an epistolary novel? Simply put, it is a story told through letters. The most well-known (to me) is The Screwtape Letters, written by C.S. Lewis.

The Glinda Letters creates a bridge of history between The Hidden History of Oz stories (specifically The Witch Queens trilogy) and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum.

Dive into personal thoughts

Glinda writes to Oscar Diggs while he is in his self-imposed exile in Emerald City. She gives her deepest thoughts to her dear friend in messages that only they will see. There is an honesty conveyed in these letters that does not appear whens he is with other people. She conveys a sense of her own worldview that she simply cannot share with other people, due to her position as the Sorceress Queen of the South. She is responsible for protecting Oz, and that means duty comes first. There is no question that Glinda was fulfill her duty. The questions in her letters reveal a vulnerability that she cannot show to others.

See how they see themselves

The amazing thing about these letters is that Glinda sees the world in a very specific way. She believes in liberty and freedom, just like Oscar, but she does not believe that he can do it simply by being good. She has to gain power and protect him so that he can do what he believes in. Everything depends on her.

Glinda has a stilted view of the world that becomes apparent as you compare her words in private letters to her actions and words to others.

The Glinda Letters fills in the gaps between several stories in The Hidden History of Oz series. It is the backbone of history upon which to hang the sinews of story. It is one perspective drawn over a lifetime of experience waiting for love to open the door and step again into the light.

The Glinda Letters is available now on Amazon, or wherever ebooks are sold. Order your copy today and discover the Hidden History that sets the stage for Baum’s classic stories.


Writing The Glinda Letters

HH4-GL_KindleCover_10-14-2015The Glinda Letters is published and available for purchase on Amazon, Smashwords, or wherever you purchase ebooks. If you are more of a traditionalist, and prefer hard copies, you can buy a paperback copy from Amazon.

Why are The Glinda Letters important to Oz? They span the time between The Witch Queens trilogy and L. Frank Baum’s original classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I believe Glinda to be the most important character in modern Oz (more…)


How a misprinted copy of “A Wrinkle In Time” taught me to believe, despite imperfection

Madeleine L'Engle quote, "Believing takes practice."

“Believing takes practice.” – Madeleine L’Engle

In readying my fingers for this post, I had only one thought, “Find a Madeleine L’Engle quote.” She is right next to C.S. Lewis as one of my favorite authors. Her book, A Wrinkle In Time, is my favorite book, going back all the way to fourth grade.

It wasn’t the very first book that I had purchased at a book fair, even though I had not bought very many. Buying books takes money, and money was in short supply in those days. A Wrinkle In Time was a book that interested me in a way that the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi activity books did not.

Cover image for A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

The first cover I ever saw for A Wrinkle In Time.

On the cover, there was a flying centaur-like creature, and a mysterious face with red eyes. The entire color palette of dark-neutrals and slate grays captivated my imagination. I purchased the book with the few dollars I was given, and I began reading immediately. I read through page 100 or so before I realized that I had read this before – not the book, but the section. I flipped back a few pages, and then a few more. There was a section in the center of the book that repeated a previous section. It was a misprint.

I was shocked and terribly disappointed. I had spent good money on a book that was broken. Now I didn’t know what would happen in the middle of the story. I found the place where the repeated section ended, and I continued reading. I finished the book, and then I immediately checked out another copy of the book from the school library and flipped to the section that I missed. I finished the book, and I was satisfied.

That book had a lasting effect on me. It was the first book I read that was not perfect. I had no idea that such a thing was even possible. I learned through experience traumatic to me that some things that we take for granted are subject to human error.

This book has the distinction of opening my eyes to imperfection. I’m certain I had plenty of other opportunities to see things gone wrong, but this one was all mine. I had lived in a world filled with books. Each one had a complete story. Each one was perfect – not just in its own way, but in all ways that I could see. Each one was complete and whole…until this one.

The simple misprint troubled me. It troubled me more than I wanted to admit. I had spent good money on this book, and now the book fair was over, and there was no way that I could get my money back. Even if I had gotten my money back, it was – in some ways – the end of my world. I had never had to leave a story like this before. I had never seen a book that was broken when it was new.

Fast-forward quite a few years to today. I am an author. I realize my own imperfections. In my writer friends, and their budding works-in-progress that they entrusted to me as a test reader, I see imperfection. I look further to see what is beneath that imperfection. What causes a writer to write? Or an artist to make art? Or a musician to make music? What causes us to do what we do in the pursuit of truth?

Belief.

Believing takes practice. So said Madeleine L’Engle. So say I. I seek after perfection – all artists do it, to varying degrees. However, it is not perfection that is achieved. It is, rather, a string of failures – a patchwork of persistence – that combine together to create a version of truth singular to its creator, author, artist, musician, or organizer.

Belief that the story needs to be told, the truth needs to find a face, and the image needs to find a voice – and then realizing that I am the imperfect tool that this story needs to find its way into the world – that takes a lot of faith. Believing takes practice.

Each one of us has something to do each day. Each one of us will have thoughts that come into our mind of things that we should do in the course of our daily work, whatever it may be. Give room to let those thoughts through. Now substitute whatever thoughts might come to you for the term “book” in this final quote.

“A book comes and says ‘Write me.’ My job is to try to serve it to the best of my ability, which is never good enough, but all I can do is listen to it, do what it tells me, and collaborate.” – Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L'Engle quote on writing a book

So where do we go from here? I speak these works that I, myself, need to hear. Believe in yourself, in your work, in the truth. Despite imperfections in the instruments of its creation, truth wants to be heard. There is no one that sees things exactly like you. There is no one that can do exactly what you do. So each day becomes a process of working, listening, adjusting, collaborating, and moving forward. In short, believing. Believing takes work.

Is there something you’ve been waiting to do because you haven’t believed enough? Are there thoughts pointing you to do or say something that you have pushed aside? What is your story, and how can today make it better? Share in the comments below.
This post appeared under the title “Believing, Despite Imperfection” on TarlAndAimee.blogspot.com on August 24, 2015, written by the same author.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Exhibit in Grapevine, Texas

This afternoon I visited The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exhibit in Grapevine, Texas. There were reproductions of character art by original Oz artist W.W. Denslow. The exhibit included educational stations to learn about the brain, heart, courage, tornadoes, and more.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_1

Entrance to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exhibit.

At the entrance, we were greeted by some old friends.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_2

Entrance to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exhibit.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_7

Scarecrow exhibit and brain learning center.

The Scarecrow brain learning center had a matching game. There were six plastic brains and six possible choices for which animal (or person) the brain belonged to. In the case of the human brain, the small door had a mirror on it instead of a picture. My lovely wife got all six brains correct. Nice job.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_8

There was a model scarecrow just lying on the floor. He had velcro on his joints to help him stay together. However, we came at the end of the day, and he looked like he had been through a lot with the kids coming through, so we let him rest.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_9

This dapper fellow’s station contained information about the heart. Unfortunately, one of the experiments wasn’t working, so we couldn’t see the pump in action.

While I was there, I met a very enthusiastic Oz fan, and I got to talk with her about some of the great Oz books she is reading. There are many Oz spin-offs and reimaginings, of which The Hidden History is only one universe. She is a collector and always keeps her eye open for new Oz memorabilia.

It was nice to meet another fan, and to see the lasting impact that L. Frank Baum’s original American fairy tale has, even more than a century after publication.


A Noctuary for Your Thoughts

Fantasy painting, The Gates of Dream, by Xeeming on deviantart.com.

The Gates of Dream, by Xeeming on deviantart.com

Noc´tu`a`ry
n.1. A record of what passes in the night; a nightly journal; – distinguished from diary.

If you could see the future, would you write it down to remember? If you could see the past, would it be important to record it? If you saw honestly, would you want it inscribed, so it would last forever? If you could record your dreams, would you?

The answer, for me, is a resounding yes to all of these questions. But then comes the next question,  why? Why would you want to record your dreams? (more…)


Oz author working on adoption

Picture of Tarl and Aimee - hopeful adoptive parents

Tarl and Aimee – hopeful adoptive parents

This is a personal posting, not specifically Oz-related. My family is pursuing adoption. We are reaching out to our social networks and asking friends and family to share our information with their trusted friends and family. The wider the network we grow, the greater the chance that expectant parents who are considering adoption will see our profile and hopefully consider us.

Frequent visitors to The Hidden History of Oz blog have come to expect interesting information about this prequel series to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and info about Witches…mostly Witches. This is more personal, but I believe that you readers can work a little bit of magic for my family. In Oz, dreams are the greatest magic of all. Perhaps your combined efforts to share can make my family’s dreams of adopting a baby come true.

We have a facebook page that contains details and a link to our profile on adoption.com. We will also be launching a crowdfunding campaign soon. Details forthcoming on the facebook page. If you can help, or you know of someone who can, please share. We believe that dreams can come true.


Mapping the Hidden History of Oz

Map of Oz and surrounding countries. Used as a comparison against the updated map of Oz used in the Hidden History of Oz stories.

“Oz-and-surrounding-countrie” by L. Frank Baum (illustrated by John R. Neill) – Tik-Tok of Oz, first published in the United States in 1914. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Creating a map is an interesting process. I like to have things accurate, so that I can trust the facts. When it came time to update my map for the Hidden History of Oz stories, I had my work cut out for me. I did a lot of research on the Cartographer’s Guild to understand how good maps work. The Cartographer’s Guild has a great website with a lot of knowledgeable folks providing comments, critiques, and advice for creating accurate maps. I looked at the original map of Oz, and I saw some features that needed more explanation. Let’s take a look.

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Wickedness in Oz

Picture of Dr. Doofenshmirtz as the Wicked Warlock, from Phineas and Ferb, episode

Dr. Doofenshmirtz as the Wicked Warlock

Oz is a world more innocent and wondrous than the world we currently live in. The original author of Oz, L. Frank Baum, wanted to create a modern fairy tale, where the heartaches and nightmares are left out. This creates a whimsical world where good is the order of the day and the adversaries are either misguided or wicked.

So what, exactly, does it mean to be wicked? (more…)


Update to published novels

With the recent republishing of Books One and Two in The Hidden History of Oz series, I want to share a few things that have been added to each title.

Each book contains an Appendix, which contains several important pieces of information for the dedicated reader.

  • The Characters (referred to as The Players, a nod to Shakespeare). I have received comments on this addition. When a reader can’t keep all of the characters straight in her head, it is helpful to have a reference list.
  • Timeline. There is a lot of history referenced in each story. The timeline section details the events that happened and those referred to in the context of the novel.
  • Maps (where applicable). I like epic fantasy novels that include maps. It gives me a sense of wonder at the fantasy world.
  • Locations. There are some new places mentioned and visited in the context of each story. Just like the character list, having a list of the locations helps the reader remember. Plus, it will help when the inevitable wiki appears.
  • Sneak Preview. Including a glimpse at the next story does two things: One, it lets the reader know that there is another story coming, and Two, it creates a teaser for the reader to look forward to the next story. (This is very helpful in the case of cliffhangers, as I have learned.)
  • Guide for Parents. What makes my stories different? I claim that they are good for ages 10 and up. How does the parent know what is in the book, and if he or she wants their child reading this story? What can the parent talk about with the child? (This would work for reading groups also.) The Guide for Parents is also available on this website, for on-screen viewing or as a downloadable PDF. See the menu bar above.

Then there are the standard pages with the Author Bio, On the Web, Other Books by Author, but those are pretty standard in published novels anymore.

This Appendix is a labor of love from me, the author, to you, the reader. I want to show you that each story means something special in the greater world. I’m not going to give you the moral of the story, or tell you what to believe, but I am giving you the facts, and you can dream as you may.

Enjoy.


The Colors of the Writing Rainbow

On the topic of writing, there are countless ways to do it right. There are lessons that speak to the individual, and there are lessons that guide the individual to become one of the faceless many. There are mythic lessons, and there are contemporary lessons. One of my favorite types of writing lessons is the acronym lesson. Where ROYGBIV denotes the colors of the rainbow, it also outlines the characteristics that a writer should embody. This remembered lesson from high school is a testament to the enduring power of a teacher’s passion.

Eye-Dancers

As time pushes on, as the months and years pass by and life navigates its twists and turns, the things we learned in school sometimes blur into the trees and promontories of the background.

windingpath

We might remember our first date, our best friend from school, we may recall, painfully, feelings of rejection and loneliness, moments of ridicule.

But how many in-class lessons do we remember?  Can we remember anything pertinent our 8th-grade algebra teacher taught us?  (Well, surely, Marc Kuslanski can!)  How about 10th-grade history or chemistry?  Sadly, so much is lost, often irretrievably so.  But some lessons endure.  Some remain vibrant and alive, decades later.

lessonslearned

For me, one such lesson occurred one sunny spring day in English class when I was a freshman in high school.  The teacher, a large, balding man with a soft voice, was a writer at heart, and sometimes, seemingly at random, he would…

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Booktrack – a new way to listen to eBooks

I recently discovered a neat app that allows for audio tracks to be placed into the text of ebooks. This opened a new opportunity for me to share The Hidden History of Oz. The first two chapters of Book One: The Witch Queens are available to read free on booktrack.com, or jump directly to The Witch Queens.

These are just the first two chapters of this book. I may go as high as six chapters if there is good feedback (positive and constructive). I am enjoying the new toolset for bringing this story to life. Adding a little bit of sound makes a big difference in the feel and pacing of the story. Jump over to booktrack and listen for yourself.

 


Five songs that inspired Oz

Day after day the endless flow powers the clockwork machinery. Music flows through the gears of creativity, inspiring great stories. Picture courtesy of Pinterest (credit: The Time Machine, by Dmitriy Filippov)

Music goes hand in hand with creativity like applesauce goes with pancakes. Every author has their own music that they depend on when they build their worlds. Here is a glimpse into a few of the songs that inspired The Hidden History of Oz series, and what makes them so great. (more…)


Three Witch Wars that Nearly Destroyed the Land of Oz

The Witches arrogantly abused their borrowed power and destroyed the seas in Oz.

The Hidden History of Oz is one of transplant colonization, expansion, trade, and war. In short, it is a history like any other land. The difference in Oz is that there are points in the history where the Witches – the keepers of knowledge – allow that power to corrupt their responsibility to protect. They betray that power to conquer and divide the land.

In the history of Oz, there have been two Witch Wars. The Third Witch War begins in The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens. What, exactly, are the Witch Wars? And how do they differ from other wars? (more…)


Poll – What do you like best about Oz?

Just out of curiosity, I want to know what you like about Oz. I have selected five answers that give a broad overview of what Oz is to me. Now what is Oz to you? Choose the answer that best describes your own opinion. However, if your favorite thing about Oz is not one of the choices, leave a comment below.


Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling as Image Macros

Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling have helped me find greater depth and meaning as I have developed my stories. Here are all 22 rules illustrated with scenes from Pixar movies and shorts.

TwistedSifter

 

Back in 2011, then Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats (now freelancing) tweeted 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar. Coats learned the ‘guidelines’ from senior colleagues on how to create appealing stories, tweeting the nuggets of wisdom over a 6 week period.

Last week, artist and User Experience Director at Visceral Games (a subsidiary of Electronic Arts), Dino Ignacio, created a series of image macros of the 22 rules and posted them to Imgur and Reddit.

Below you will find the list of image macros along with a text summary of Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling at the end of the post. Enjoy!

[Sources: Emma Coats, Dino Ignacio, The Pixar Touch]

 

1.

pixar's 22 rules of storytelling as image macros (2)

Written by Emma Coats | @lawnrocket
Image Macro by Dino Ignacio | @DinoIgnacio

 

2.

pixar's 22 rules of storytelling as image macros (3)

Written by Emma Coats | @lawnrocket
Image Macro by Dino Ignacio | @DinoIgnacio

 

3.

pixar's 22 rules of storytelling as image macros (4)

Written…

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Liberty for all

Oscar Diggs, also known as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has one primary concern – liberty for all. What is liberty, and why is it so important to him?

Liberty is freedom to act, to choose your own destiny, to make decisions based on what you determine is right. Liberty is the opposite of tyranny.  Liberty frees a man to become what he was born to become. Tyranny takes a man and binds him to what an all-powerful ruler determines that he should become. For Oscar, and for those who truly want to determine their own destiny, the choice is clear. (more…)


Inspired by Oz? Pin here

Red-haired girl representing Glinda, a teenage sorceress in The Hidden History of Oz series.

Glinda the Good, the teenage sorceress in The Hidden History of Oz series

Inspiration comes in many forms. For me, I think in story. A picture is worth a thousand words, true, and the best pictures also evoke a story. Take the picture here, for example. This is Glinda. She looks out to the setting sun, wondering what future will come, for it is her and her alone that holds the destiny of the Land of Oz in her hands.

Oz is a real place, full of wonder and breathtaking beauty. Much of the land is based on real places. There are corners of Oz unexplored in Baum’s books, but why do even the explored corners need to be a mystery? I say we find them and display them. (more…)


The Hidden History of…Pixar?

All of the Pixar animated features are interconnected in strange and wonderful ways. So says a brilliantly conceived post by Jon Negroni – The Pixar Theory. He has put in an admirable amount of time and research to find hanging threads and then weave them together in a mystical tapestry that begins in the Dark Ages with Brave, and ends in the far, far future with Monsters, Inc.

I added a couple of comments among the multitude of supporters. The key, I said, was dreams. Children are closer to dreams and the primal force that links the waking life and the dreaming life; therefore, the harvesting of the power of dreams (screams) by the monsters is more effective on children when they are young. This is before the children learn to conform to the adult world and forget their dreams.

The thought and creativity that connected all of these disparate realities into one chaotic, yet cohesive, universe is impressive. It is very similar to what I have done in crafting The Hidden History of Oz stories. Different universes, but the same desire for completion and cohesion. It is a monumental task in both the Pixar universe and the Oz universe, but the satisfaction comes when the story appears.

I urge you to read the post and browse the many, many comments. There are a few detractors, but for the most part, the theory is wildly supported. It might open your mind to some imaginative possibilities.


Hidden History on podcast “Whispers in the Dark” – free stuff to listeners

Hidden History of Oz author, Tarl Telford, will be a featured guest on the Wednesday, March 13th podcast, Whispers in the Dark, hosted by Viktor Aurelius. The entire show is two hours, running from 9:00pm – 11:00pm Eastern Time (GMT – 5 hours). The second hour is devoted to The Hidden History of Oz.

For all you fans tuning in live, there will be a very special treat. Only for fans tuning in live, and following the chat feed, there will be a limited-time coupon for a FREE download of The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: Witch Queens. For those who can’t tune in live, download the podcast for a limited-time discount coupon to download the book.

To all those who tune in and download the book, I’d like to hear your feedback. And, as always, when you finish the book, write a review, either on Amazon or Smashwords. Your honest review is greatly appreciated.


fear on the Brick Road to Success

On the Road to the Emerald City, a sand scuplture

Fear is the anti-mortar on the brick road of my life. It is the unbinding factor that consistently threatens to undo all of the hard work that put into life.

For twenty-five years I have wanted to be a writer. I decided at about eleven years of age that I wanted to write novels. I started almost immediately. Today I have boxes full of notebooks full of stories – most of them half-finished. These were all building blocks for what was to come, and what is, now. Every so often, I go back and discover great ideas that I once had, but I had since forgotten in the flowing tides of imagination. You know, things get buried under the sands as the imagination flows and ebbs. The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens (Emerald Engine Studios, 2012) is my first published novel. Why did it take so long to write my first book? The answer is simple in its profundity – fear. (more…)


A Courageous New Year in Oz

Cowardly Lion, by Tarl Telford

Cowardly Lion, by Tarl Telford

Courage is a thing that when it is inside you, the world seems different. So it was for the Cowardly Lion in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. So it is for us. Sometimes we just need a little reminder that what we need is already growing inside of us – it just needs a little more light to grow properly.

Today is the first day of 2013. This new year is going to be an exciting one for the Hidden History series. Book Two is more than half complete. The master plan is to publish in spring.

The entire series is plotted. That’s seven books’ worth of story that I  am anxious to share this with you, my readers. When I say I have plotted out the series, I mean that I have set the landmarks and the the conflict. But any trip is not defined simply by its landmarks. The journey is

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Hidden History of Oz – 2012 recap

The wizard, by W.W. Denslow, original illustrator for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Free promo time on Amazon is over, and I want to say THANK YOU to all of the hundreds of readers who downloaded The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens. If a link in the book brought you here, welcome. If you are looking for information about L. Frank Baum‘s Oz, you’ll find some useful pieces of canonical knowledge, as it relates to the Hidden History of Oz.

But first, a welcome and introduction- (more…)


Humbug

Prince of Humbugs, written by P.T. Barnum

Humbug.

“I do not think that word means what you think it means.” I quote here Inigo Montoya here, talking to Vizzini about “inconceivable”. (see The Princess Bride for details)

Humbug isn’t a word we use anymore. It became forever immortalized on the lips of one Ebeneezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s too bad – humbug is a good word that describes very well a practice that many of us buy in to. It may even describe some of the people we may know. (more…)