Monday, May 14, 2012

Why a Gosling?

When you visit our blog or our website, you might find yourself curious about the omnipresence of a single figure. It's the Callihoo gosling. He's hanging out on our wallpaper, he's nabbed the title of the blog, and he's
even filling in as logo until our upcoming logo contest in June. When not online, the gosling is generally to be found displayed near someone's writing space, a box of commas strung helpfully around his neck. All of which begs the question: how did a bunch of writers wind up adopting a gosling as their mascot?

It happened one evening when members of a critique group had gathered to review a story by Writers of the Future winner Julia H. West. We found that we were split down the middle. Those of us who were familiar with Julia's writing understood the climax of her story just fine, but those of us newer to her work were confused. Why had everyone's hot tempers suddenly cooled? What had caused the characters to calm down and listen to reason?

Most writers know from experience that just because something is perfectly obvious in your head, doesn't mean it made it to the page. In this instance, the author had a magic system set up that hadn't come across as clearly as she wanted. But to stop and explain how the magic was working would have bogged down the story. So Julia added a gosling instead.

The gosling in question was part of a song lyric, about springtime and peacetime and babies being born. This single detail transformed the story. Suddenly everyone was feeling the moment, understanding how the music was influencing the characters in the story without being beaten over the head with it. It was a classic example of the oldest (and truest) writing advice there is: Don't tell your readers what's happening. Show them.

Shortly after that evening, I took it upon myself to crochet a gosling, and he quickly became a coveted item. It's no surprise that when Callihoo Publishing was formed the little guy rose to prominence. Although why we named ourselves Callihoo... well, that's still a mystery.


  1. Hi Julie!! Just stopping by and wanted to support you in your new blogging endeavor!

  2. Thanks for this. I've been curious about the gosling. Is the story that inspired the choice of gosling-as-mascot available to purchase, or read, anywhere?

    1. Sadly the story has not been published yet.

    2. It was too long for Sword and Sorceress, so I'll be shopping it around elsewhere.