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Posts from the ‘research’ Category

Regency Collection

At this time of year I’m more inclined to sit back, digest, and think over the past year than to do anything more creative than finding room for another piece of pie. And one of the great joys of the last year – well, the last couple-three years, actually – has been the discovery of research sources that would have made me think I’d died and gone to Heaven, back in the unlamented days when I made weekly pilgrimage to the university library to lug home a double armload of books that just might contain some of the nuggets of information I was looking for. With reprints, online books and useful websites, easily available information on Regency manners and mores, in particular, has exploded since those days; here’s a quick list of some of the sites and books I’ve found most useful (and most dangerous, considered as time sinks). Read more

Getting the Science Right

I’m tired. How tired am I? Well, I had a moment yesterday where I didn’t look closely enough as I wrote and scheduled a post and I have put my planned MGC post up on my blog. In my defense, the backend of wordpress sites looks remarkably similar. However! I will extrapolate out of my post there, on science giving us a window into the past and how that can spark a story, into something that has come up a few times recently. Namely: refreshing knowledge of math and science for those who have been out of school for a while, or have developed a new interest in it. As writers of science fiction, I would hope that this would be of interest to you, although it’s hard to say where to start, precisely. That you will have to determine! Read more

Books for Writers

Next post, I’ll do a link post of sites with information on copyright (good, bad, and ugly) and related resources. However, that takes time I did not have last week, so I want to look at resources for authors, especially books that I have found useful.

Important caveat: these are books that I have found useful. Not all books work for all authors. Guides for people who do genre fiction (thrillers, romance, sci-fi and fantasy) might not work so well for people who write literary fiction, and vice versa.

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Clara Barton’s Office of Missing Soldiers

I write to you from a hotel just outside my nation’s Capitol, dear readers. As part of my son’s education, we arranged with his aunt, my sister, to meet here and tour the many sites and memorials herein. The plunge back in time began Friday morning, with some time spent in the forests and fields of Gettysburg, PA, where the men of our nation were once pitted against one another in bitter struggle. It was a fitting beginning to our day, to remind us of what once was, before we drove on to Washington DC and first glimpsed the bustle of the city. Read more

It was the Lemurians, honest.

In a fit of whimsy (I have them often) I set out to write a book which takes as its starting point the idea that the ‘kooky new-age ideas’, everything you might find in the Fortean Times, from Mystic Crystals to Lemuria to Burrowing Llamas… is, if not actually per se ‘true’ but had its origins in something that, with broken telephone style oral tradition, gave birth to the idea. It’s a very tongue-in-cheek story… pure and unrestrained space opera, with disbelief suspended because the reader chooses to let go and enjoy, rather than being (for want of a better word) conned into going along with what superficially seems sort-of plausible.

I say this and I’ll have people in tinfoil hats accusing me of betraying the secrets of the Ancients.  The principal secret of the ancients seems to have been to live much shorter lives. The other secrets, such as women having perhaps two dresses, and there being no flush toilets are considered too unbelievable to even be used in fiction these days. Read more

How to Talk with Veterans

Sit, kneel, bend. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. We gonna be here for a minute.

Last month, we talked about telling the stories of combat veterans as they really happened. Without whitewashing or varnish. Without embellishment. Without lies.
In the third-to-last paragraph, I make mention of sitting down and talking with veterans. Over the last month I’ve been looking around and realizing nobody has ever explained how to talk with veterans, as a writer looking for technical (and personal) knowledge about the profession of arms. Today, we’re gonna start down that rode.
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On Westerns, L’Amour and writing popular fiction

Technically, Dave originally estimated he’d be back this week. But I’m a pessimist when it comes to human plans vs. mother nature. (She almost always wins, and arguing with her gets mighty exciting, mighty quickly!) So if you see this one from June 06, 2016, he’s just getting a week of breathing space for the inevitable last-minute complications.

No two people like the same book (or at least not in precisely same way, for precisely the same reasons).

This is a serious design flaw in the human race, on a par, from the writer’s point of view, with putting the recreation park next to the sewage outfall, and sharing some of the facilities between them. However, we have to manage with the latter, so I suppose we will cope with the former.

Now, let’s state upfront that I am biased in favor of reading. Of as many people as possible reading. Of as many people as possible reading, and enjoying reading so they go and another book just soon as they’ve finished this one… preferably – for the sake of my bank balance – mine, but if reading mine would put them off reading, rather than making them read another book, any book. Whether it’s “Kinky Womb-raiders in day-glo Leather” or Mao’s Little Red Book or Mein Kampf or My Little Pony – if reading that pleases them enough to read another book… it’s a still a win. Read more