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Posts from the ‘research’ Category

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

Write our story as we lived it.

This particular moment in the year is hard on me.  I, and many others in my profession whom I consider my closest friends, are drawn up in remembrance of those whom no longer dine with us, save in spirit.  This period of reflection (with its accompanying vigils held), is never easy, but it is our responsibility.

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What’s the Point?

I think we’re back into routine. And I’ve got my head wrapped around it. Which is nice. Feels good. Of course, Mrs. Dave heads off again in a couple weeks, and then there’s LibertyCon, and the littles will be out of school for the summer. Which means and entirely *new* routine to which I’ll get to adjust. Joy. Seriously, I think I’m going to lose my preferred hermitliness method of existence through sheer chaos of life. Which is a little strange, as that’s how I’m going to finish all those books I’m not currently writing.
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Local Stories – Universal Stories?

David McCullough is one of the popular historians working today in the US. He’s a leading voice for keeping history where people can read, discuss, and enjoy it. He’s released a new book about what used to be called “the Old Northwest,” Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and the stories of the frontier days there.

It’s gotten a mixed reception from professional historians, in part because McCullough calls the stories “untold.” People who spent their careers writing about that same region chided him for that.

Recounting the Untold History of the Early Midwestern Pioneers

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/recounting-untold-history-early-midwestern-pioneers-180972095/

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Do Your Homework

I’ll admit right off the bat, this post was inspired by the title of a post over on The Passive Voice. But it veers off the path immediately from the Publishers Weekly article that was the basis for the PV post. If I try to write about “cultural appropriation” this morning, the post would wind up being nothing but a string of curses. Not because I believe we should never write anything we don’t know or aren’t a member or part of but because of all the wonderful book that will never be written because authors are afraid of writing a book with characters that don’t look like them, don’t believe like they do, etc. Okay, stopping there before the cursing begins.

Instead, I want to focus on how you have to do your research if you are writing about people, places or things you aren’t very familiar with. For example, some years ago, I was in Philadelphia for a business conference and contacted family friends in New Jersey. We arranged to meet at their home on Sunday. Since I hadn’t been there since I was a child, Ruth gave me directions and told me to look for the simple cottage with hollies out front. Simple enough, right? I mean we all know what a cottage is and what hollies look like. Read more