Nov 22

Adventure at Sea: Snippet

Posted: under snippet.
Tags: ,  November 22nd, 2013

As I’ve mentioned before, late in a project almost anything can be a spoiler–so many clues, so many established patterns missing just one piece.  Early on, all roads are open, but by now, many of them, the ways not taken, have been left behind.

So this may be a spoiler for some, though I’ve tried not to let it be.  If you are a reader who hates knowing anything before its time, then don’t read below the break.  Stop now.  Turn around, don’t look back, ignore the rest of this.  For those who proceed, please do your speculating about where in the book this is, or what character you might know, in the Speculation Space.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct 18

Paksworld Food Basics

Posted: under Background, Contents, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , , ,  October 18th, 2013

So…Paksworld’s northern kingdoms are more like Europe north of the Alps, in terms of what they grow and eat, and Aarenis is more like the Mediterranean countries.   But there are variations.   Paks’s family had a small amount of land under plough,  for grain and the few vegetables they grew; they also harvested field herbs, wild berries,  and some wild grains.    The nearest mill was a considerable distance away, so her family ground grain to make bread in hand mills (stone.)   Grain was also cooked into a mush, flavored with herbs and sometimes meat.   They were lucky in having good-quality hand mills that didn’t put a lot of stone dust in the meal, so they didn’t have their teeth ground down. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 11

Sailing, Sailing…

Posted: under Crown of Renewal, Life beyond writing, Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: , , , , ,  July 11th, 2013

This will be the last post for awhile because a) deadlines and b) medical stuff–appointments, tests, all that, all taking time out of the writing day.    So I decided to hint at some things coming up in Crown of Renewal, along with the background research that went into them.   I hope this will tide you over for a couple of weeks, while I finish the revisions and the shorter work due for an anthology. Read the rest of this entry »

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May 16

A Research Note

Posted: under Craft, Crown of Renewal.
Tags: ,  May 16th, 2013

The hierarchy of writing-research starts with personal experience.    If you have ever cooked a meal,  mucked out a stall,  driven a car, or fallen out of a tree, you have a wealth of sensory inputs as well as intellectual understanding of those experiences available to use in a story.   You know, in the most direct way, what it’s like.

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Mar 12

Research Responsibilities

Posted: under Craft.
Tags: ,  March 12th, 2012

Ritual disclaimer: nobody gets through a long writing career without some mistakes.  You will sometimes trust the wrong research source (even if it’s someone who should have the knowledge you’re looking for–say a fire department veteran you’ve asked about a procedural point in managing a multi-alarm fire…and no, this isn’t a problem I’ve had.)    No writer knows everything, and every writer must, at some point, trust a map, or a reference book, or a person who seems to have first-hand knowledge.

But there’s a huge difference between occasionally  trusting the wrong source and not looking something up at all.   Writers should look things up in the best source they can find or beg/borrow/get via Interlibrary Loan before they plan a book or a chapter–and should let the facts dictate how the story goes, rather than ignoring the facts because they already have a fantasy-version in mind.

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Nov 14

Research, Used & Unused

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  November 14th, 2011

Research is part of any writing, fiction or nonfiction.   If you know you’re going to write about shoemakers in New England in colonial times  (just to grab for a topic I know nothing about), you would have a limited topic and your research would need to be “deep”.   If you know you’re going to write a novel set in an invented world (SFnal or fantasy), then your research must be broad and had better be deep in some areas.

But no matter whether your topic is narrow or wide, some of the research you do won’t make it into the book…at least, not into a book anyone will want to read.  Most of us have read a book that “taught us more about penguins than we really wanted to know,”  written by someone who did a lot of research and wanted someone else to share the pain.

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Apr 27

Anything Is Research

Posted: under Life beyond writing.
Tags: ,  April 27th, 2011

Or therapy.    Excuse #1 for spending time with knitting after many years away is that my hands get very sore from typing, and knitting is completely different in the way you use your hands.    Excuse #2 is I wanted something that could be done indoors or out, and taken along when waiting somewhere (traveling, for instance.)  Excuse #3 is that I’d been feeling the need to do something with my hands for others.  Other than family, I mean.

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Nov 14

The Horses of Paksworld

Posted: under Background.
Tags: ,  November 14th, 2010

Having opened this stable door, it’s time to go in and see what we’ve got–I expect it’s going to take more than one post to cover both horses and horsemanship, so I’m starting with the easy one.

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Nov 13


Posted: under Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  November 13th, 2010

I’m now well enough to do some serious work on the book–and I thought you’d be amused by one kind of cut/alteration that’s going on now.

This one is about horses.   I’m a horse-enthusiast as many of you know, and I inherited my friend K-‘s  horse, trained to Grand Prix level in dressage and shown at Prix St. George about a year before she died.    I myself had never ridden at that level.   But K- was giving me some lessons on him, in the hope that he would connect better with me (not really–or not for the first five years at least.)   In the process, I learned to ride some advanced movements that were a lot of fun, and obviously would be of use to someone riding a horse in battle.

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Sep 17

Words that Belong (or not)

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags: , ,  September 17th, 2010

Today was a 2000+ word day.   Clitter-clatter-clitter-clatter on the keys, sometimes very fast, and sometimes a half hour spent staring futilely at the computer screen hoping words would show up there before I froze in that position.

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