Why Historical?

As my Ancient Egypt post and a number of others prove, I have a bit of a thing when it comes to history and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But other people aren’t quite in love with history as I am, warts and all, and are probably wondering why someone would want to write Historical Fiction of any sort?

The short answer is that the work that goes into writing historical is rewarding and fun.

My personal longer answer goes something more like this: there’s plenty of Fantasy books and books of other genres set in the present, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But a writer may want to venture outside of that for a variety of reasons, the most important reason being that it draws the reader in in its own way.

Let’s say you have a detective character that is a vampire or some other mythic being. By setting the story in 1890’s Boston, you set complications for the story that don’t exist in this current time. How does your vampire eat when they have to go to the neighborhood butcher or find someone willing. What types of forensics are available to them and what are the limitations? How would said forensics play out and be adapted for a supernatural crime or play into/against the vampire’s senses? What complications arise when you make the vampire female?

The way those questions are answered can lead to a story just as exciting or engaging as any set in the present day or very near past. And I enjoy the challenge of doing that in a  way that is different from the challenge of fitting a Horror story, supernatural story etc into the present day.

Don’t get eaten or abducted before my next post!

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Vampires: A Love Affair

People have been fascinated by, terrified of, and even aroused by vampires and vampire-like beings for millennia. And if you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I definitely fit that description. I love and have loved vampires since I was a kid.

The idea that something has been stalking the night, following you when you leave the house, maybe feeling a demented form of love and stalking you because of it, eternally stuck at the age of its death… Just thinking of it is spine chilling in a way that isn’t entirely good nor entirely bad. A way that just is.

And that feeling, that creepy but sweet feeling is why I end up writing about vampires so much. Not to mention why I’m continuing this literary love affair by writing about a character that is trying to reconcile the person she loves, because I tend towards female protagonists, with the fact that person is a vampire out hunting humans right at that very moment. Love, blood, uncertainty, fear and, hopefully, contentment and happiness in the end since this is a romantic horror piece.

Wish me luck!

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Style and the Writer

Lately I’ve been thinking of style. Not prose style, which is a post worthy topic on its own. But style as in the clothing we like to wear and the image that helps a writer project to their readers.

You see, I’m an unpublished writer but the style I prefer to wear is Gothic in nature, romantic goth to be more specific. Feel free to google Gothic fashion/clothing, since it is something that will lead to lots of interesting results and there’s worse things to get sucked into on the internet.  But the short of it is that I prefer clothing with a dark and soft, old-fashioned sort of aesthetic. Flowing shirts and tops, including peasant style ones and ones inspired by history, with lace accents. Velvet, satin, and brocade for formal events. Sweat pants with a velvet look that don’t look like sweats and a simple black tank top (vest for those of you across the pond), casual but pretty black shirt, or a grey screen printed shirt with a black and red rose on it for ultra-casual wear. And my customary choker or a necklace with a timeless design.

I like black, grey, other darker and more jewel-toned colors than something really bright and in your face. But you’re probably wondering what this has to do with my writing in particular and the image I want to project to readers when and if I get published.

Well if you’ve hung around my blood for long enough, you may have noticed by now that I don’t so much have a genre as I have an aesthetic I lean towards in my stories. A dark one that’s sometimes just sad or a melancholy sort of happy, and at others full of blood and guts strewn about with reckless abandon. I’m the sort of writer who, while she likes a variety of things and not just the dark stuff, has mainly, because of her own natural inclinations as a writer at this point in time finished mostly things with a dark aesthetic. A Gothic Horror novella that I plan on turning into a novel, but need to do some heavy research for before doing so; several horror poems; a Dark Fantasy short that I hope to expand play up the romance on; a Dark/Horror SF flash piece and the list goes on and on. Even a Horror and Slice of Life mash-up that I’m currently polishing in preparation for sending it out on submission.

Since I like a darker aesthetic both in clothing and my own work, I figured projecting that to a reader is a good thing. It’s who I am and I like the honesty of letting the reader know it. And this had led me to the conclusion that I’m sure some of you have already seen coming: a writer should cultivate a personal aesthetic for the professional end of things that reflects what they enjoy wearing and what fits in with the type of story they like to write.

Until next time, don’t get eaten or abducted!

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A Look Inside My Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal

That bullet journal thing I was talking about last time the topic came up? Well, this is mine and that thing sitting right on top is currently my favorite pen. The pen is awesome, I’m not too thrilled with the notebook. I’m thinking of getting myself a cheap grid composition book from staples. My filing system for poetry and shorts has evolved, I needed to get more binders to store things anyway.

So, enough about my notebook woes. Let’s get a move on! I’ve got lots to show you. Heads up, some of the collections in this post as unique to me, some are modified to fit my needs as is common in the bullet journal community, and some snatched from other sources because they were perfect just the way they are. That last thing is also common in the bullet journal community for those who are wondering.

What those who read my last post on bullet journaling will notice, is that I don’t show any monthly logs, my future log, or my daily logs in this post. Those ones are full of my schedule and I didn’t quite feel comfortable sharing them. They’re also easy to google and it seemed unnecessary.

Year At A Glance

Year At A Glance

That is, as the caption says, my year at a glance spread. I’m still working on making it effective, but this is the perfect place to circle deadlines, vacation days, your planned writing schedule for a month. So I’m going to try that and will get back to you on how well it goes over the next couple of months.

Flabby Words

Flabby Words

Next up is my list of “Flabby Words”. The words that turn up a lot in first drafts and need to be scrutinized with more care than others, that can make a story lack punch and feel flabby and limp itself if they’re misused. Which brings us to my next collection….

Meaningful Adjectives!

Meaningful Adjectives!

 

Meaningful Adjectives! I love this collection in a way you cannot believe. It’s still in its infancy and I haven’t got much chance to use it, but I firmly believe a writer who is going to have collections in their bullet journal should have one full of adjectives that make their writing pop. And those words should be ones that would make something pop for them! This list was meant to be a reference for a writer, to be constantly used. Better to make it yours than to not use it and waste space you could use one something else.

Blog Ideas

Blog Ideas

I also have collection, now empty, but ready to be filled with blog ideas. Series of posts, indivudal posts, the first sentence of a post.  You name it, it will go on this list so that I don’t have to scramble like I’ve lost my head to find something to write about. But the best part is it will help me with organizing my more research based posts and with fact checking for them.

And speaking of projects, let me introduce you to a spread I’m trying out….

Project 2016-17 Gantt chart

Project 2016-17 Gantt chart

the 2016 – 2017 project Gantt chart. The final collection in this little look inside, I’ve got a whole series of them in my head to do what this type of chart does best… break down big projects like novels ad novella length stuff into little sections and give me an overview of how much time I think something will take me.

That’s it guys! Don’t get eaten or abducted!

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Ancient Egypt and Me

The Pharaoh Hatshepsut

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had something of a love affair with Ancient Egypt. Books, hours scouring the internet when that became an option, any documentary I could get my little hands on. I even badgered my mother into getting me a book about King Tutankhamen/Tutankhaten as compensation for not being able to find a book about the woman in the above picture, Hatshepsut, one of Ancient Egypt’s few female pharaohs when I was nine or ten.

You see, my love affair with Ancient Egyptian history began when I found out about her at the age of around three or four years old. I was fascinated by what was known about her in 1995, and possibly felt something akin to puppy love. Like they say, you aren’t really a history buff unless you had a crush on someone long dead. OK, they don’t say that, but I’ve got no other explanation for my absolute ridiculous level of childish puppy love regarding this awesome female historical figure who had died more than two millennia before I was even conceived. And, while I was certainly an odd child, I don’t think I was quite that strange yet.

I still find her to be utterly fascinating as person, and through her the entire 18th Dynasty and, to a smaller extent, the New Kingdom. A lot happened during her reign, and contrary to what many enthusiasts will tell you. Her name was not defaced from the public record of pharaohs until almost two decades after her death. She was a good ruler, her country prospered. Nor was she an odd duck in the way her reign started. Queens, though normally the child-King’s mother, already had a history of ruling in their children’s stead and advising their older children that were still too young to rule on their own in matters of state.

But what I find most fascinating, and have since I was in my early teens, was the role of women in Ancient Egypt. Yes, like in so many ancient and current cultures their primary roles were that of wives and mothers. However, unlike many ancient women and some women today, they had equal status to men under the law. Ancient Egyptian women owned their own property from birth until death, and could manage that property however they saw fit to do so. This included the ability to own land and rent it out to people, divide her asset in her will without being obligated to give it to members of her family, give loans and make interest on them regardless of the party she was giving the loan to, enter into contracts with other Ancient Egyptians, file lawsuits and act as legal witnesses, go into public when she liked without being chaperoned and more.

I could spend my life studying the lives of people in Ancient Egypt because of things like that. And it is for that reason that I think this love affair will continue for many years to come.

Until next time! Don’t get eaten or abducted!

 

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Bullet Journal & The Writer

If you’ve been hanging around the planner junkie section of the internet, you may have heard of the bullet journal. A productivity tool that basically combines all those random to-do lists and project lists into one space so they are easily accessible. I’ve been using one for almost two months, and I’m pretty in love with it.

So, how do you use a bullet journal, what does a writer add to theirs, and what do you need to start?

I’m not going to cover the use of a bullet journal, and will instead point you in the direction of the original concept, which you can tweak until it works for you. But getting started is extremely easy, because all you really need is a pen and notebook. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one, or even an empty one. A half full notebook or a cheap one from the dollar store will work just as well.

My current writing bullet journal, which I realized I needed when my personal bullet journal was being overtaken by writing related stuff, is a cheap composition notebook. I am thinking of upgrading to something with better paper quality come the holidays, since my own personal bullet journal has better paper quality. The point is to look up the concept, find a notebook, and get started.

Ok. Now that you’ve got your notebook and a pen, you’re probably wondering how to use the bullet journal system for writing. That’s a very individual thing, but I use mine to keep lists of things such as words to watch out for, a chart tracking my work on a novel and the research for two others, a list of ideas for stories, ideas for the blog, synonyms, new words etc. And in addition to those things, I use it to set long-term goals, monthly goals, and daily goals.

For example, I may put when I want to finish a novel or novella in my future log. In fact, I do have an end date for a novel I’m working on in there already. That means that however many chapters/words I need to produce in order to finish when I want to goes on my monthly to-do list. This leads to set smaller deadlines at the weekly level and small daily goes for me to meet.

Maybe that seems like overkill, but the beauty of the system, for me at least, is in being able to break down long-term goals like novel-writing, wanting to write and send out a certain amount of short stories in a year, research for another project etc.

Give it a try. It keeps me motivated and may do the same for you. Don’t get eaten or abducted!

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History & Fantasy

It’s not a surprise to any who know me that as a Fantasy lover, I also love history. Particularly Historical Fiction, but history in general. As a little kid, I peered inside King Tut’s tomb because I couldn’t peer inside Hatshepsut’s, and traveled to the distant future and Hogwarts with the inventor and Harry Potter. I traveled back in time to Pemberly with Jane Austen, and fought dragons with long forgotten characters in other books.

A love of history and a love of Fantasy, to me, go together like really nice tea and good quality honey. They blend seamlessly into one another. Because, what is history until it is proven but myth? And what is myth but a form of Fantasy that helped our ancestors navigate the worlds in which they lived.

Knowing this, it will come as no shock that my favorite sub-genre of Fantasy is Historical Fantasy, the blending of a real place and time with Fantasy elements like vampires, magic, werewolves, and other mythic things. And among this genre, I would have to say that my favorite is set in New York during the early 20th century. Called The Golem and The Jinni, the novel by Helene Wecker blends mythology and history. Blurring the lines between the two until the reader doesn’t know which is which and is simply swept away in the story until it ends.

If someone is interested in Historical Fantasy, then it is one that I would highly recommend. That said, it isn’t the time period that I personally like working in. For me that is the ancient past, like ancient Egypt, or colonial America and first couple of decades post-colonial. There’s just something about those time periods, the amount we both know and don’t about Ancient Egypt, that I can literally hold books from the American Revolution in my hands if I want to put the effort into locating one. There’s nothing quite like it.

But, I’m rambling and you don’t want to listen to me ramble about Ancient Egypt and Colonial America all day. Go! Have fun! Don’t get eaten or abducted before my next post.

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