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This one time at Norwescon . . . or so my posts should perhaps now start. Below are some of the tips I gleaned about food during the medieval era. Because food is always important in my stories (hey, I’m Italian, what do you expect) and many of them have historical settings like Silent Moon and Dawn of the Morning Star, I wanted to learn as much as I can to include in my writing.

Because I wanted to learn about period weapons and fighting, I went to panels at Norwescon (a science fiction and fantasy conference) on topics such as “Medieval Armor” and “Getting Historical Facts Right” and “Hands on Norse Fighting.” The program said the latter was hands-on but it also said it was non-contact. It sounded like a great opportunity to play fight with weapons without getting hurt and help me write battle scenes like I am doing for Shadows and Starlight, the sequel to Silent Moon. What I learned was the event was hardly “non-contact.”

The elderly man who was our Norse drill sergeant (we weren’t allowed to say the word “Viking”) weaned out the children and told them this wasn’t play. He praised the 6 foot tall athletic-looking, 21-year-old-girl next to me, calling her a “shield maiden.” He glared at me and asked me if I was tough enough for this. Okay, so I am 5 foot tall and was wearing a skirt to the conference and in general look like a girly-girl because I am a girly girl. So I felt kind of annoyed and insulted and embarrassed. Aside from my hour of being demoralized in Norse boot camp, below are somethings I learned from that panel and the others.

Norwescon is a fantasy and science fiction themed conference in Seattle each year. This year George R. R. Martin was the guest of honor. Possibly for that reason, or maybe because it is always of interest to writers and history nerds alike, there were panels than revolved around medieval history. Because I write a range of fantasy that takes place during various time periods, I thought it would be useful to get some facts about travel. In my published novel, Silent Moon, and the sequel that I am currently working on titled, Shadows and Starlight, there are scenes that involve travel through the forest and I wanted to make sure I am getting my facts right.

Below are five useful and interesting facts about archaic travel.

Recently I attended Norwescon 38. It is a science fiction conference that features a spotlight artist, writer and editor each year. This year’s writing guest of honor was George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones. Although there were many interesting panels and presentations, George R. R. Martin was definitely the highlight and many of the panels revolved around his worlds and writing. Considering he has made fewer appearances due to his busy schedule working on his book, this was a treat to get to see him in person. 

I am no naive conference and convention attendee, but I tend to frequent the same conferences where people know me, if I forget my badge it isn’t a big deal, and I don’t need to worry about not getting into a room where an interesting panel is happening because the organizers didn’t plan for enough room. Norwescon is a big-little (or maybe a little-big) science fiction conference and there were some things I wish I had realized that I would have done differently. Take note and learn from my mistakes, newbie conference attendee.

Recently I was writing a story that turned into a novel. The title of the story is, The Memory Thief, about a woman in a futurist/Victorian world who has her memories stolen when surveying an alien world with tribal people very similar to the Ainu culture of Japan. There were many concepts in this story inspired by different sources: women’s suppression in the Victorian era, my business as a steampunk costumer, my time living in Hokkaido for two years and seeing the Ainu village, the book The Giver by Lois Lowry that I read when I was a teenager and reread more recently, the Inuit practice of wife swap and my own experiences with family and sibling relationships.

I wrote 70,000 words in about 30 days. Of course, the editing is what then takes months to work on! While writing, I did research into various realms of information related to the themes included in the story. I had many windows up on pieces of information I didn’t want to forget. Even though I lived in Japan for two years, there was no way I could keep the honorifics or names straight so I kept those tabs handy.

For those interested in learning more about Japanese history, or just curious what kind of research goes into world building and writing a novel, check out these links below.

Years ago I became a Civil War reenactor and performed living history at historical houses and events. Considering I wear bloomers, bustle skirts and make steampunk jewelry, it was only a matter of time before my writing came to sync up with my style in fashion.

I have always been enamored with Victorian, Regency and Gothic novels. I love Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. The Count of Monte Cristo, Tale of Two Cities and other classics are high on my list of favorites. It’s no wonder romance works its way into my fantasy. Or fantasy into my romance. My fantasy of late has most recently been Neo-Victorian and steampunk. I’ve written plenty of stories about Mr. Darcy, which certainly is my fantasy, but also stories that fall into a science fiction Victorian realm.

Two of my fantasy stories, The Quantum Mechanic, about a space time distortion which wreaks havoc and creates a steampunk world in this one, and Lady Chatterley’s Computer, an alternate reality in which Lady Chatterley has an affair with an A.I. were probably what got the ball rolling for me in this genre. Lately I have been working on The Memory Thief, a Neo Victorian novel romance set on a shogun like world.

Below are some of the websites I have enjoyed perusing while researching Victorian history. Some of the websites, like the ones for slang and names, are ones I kept open on my computer while writing my novel, The Memory Thief. Some of them I just like to read for fun. Yeah, I know, it’s probably a little eccentric that I prefer to learn how to speak like I live in a Jane Austen novel more than learning a practical language like Spanish.

Myths of the World: Resources, Websites and Fun Reading

When I write fantasy, I tend to use mythology and monsters from around the world. Though there are resources I specifically use for writing about fairies or monsters which are referred to in previous posts, I might focus on a specific culture in a manuscript. For example, in my futuristic Aztec story, Thinking Outside the Flock, I did research about Mayan and Aztec language, names, animals and beliefs. When I did research for my Egyptian science fiction story, The Osiris Paradox (published in Sword and Laser) about a princess travelling through space to beseech help from her gods, I needed to do a lot of research for the religion and culture of Ancient Egypt. When I wrote Golden Lilies, I needed to focus on Chinese culture and values. For Silent Moon, I envisioned the clan of werewolves to be living in a Scottish-like region several hundred years behind in lifestyle to the “city folk.” Not only did I need to research Scottish dress and language but also I needed to research the life in the Middle Ages. “And I dinnae ken when to begin,” as the characters would say with their Scottish dialect.

The thing is, I love research when it comes to anthropology, mythology and ancient religions. Doing research is as much pleasure as the writing. I love history, art history and there was a time I thought I would become an anthropologist in college. Below are some of the resources I have used for various stories.

Recently, "The Pining" came out in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. The story is about a half fairy who enters the fairy realm after living among humans, only to find she can't eat the food in the fairy realm because it will make her captive forever. She struggles for a way to stay alive, see through the illusion of beauty and get past her "pining."

http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/cgi-bin/mag.cgi?do=issue&vol=i43&article=_002

I have always loved fairies—good fairies, bad fairies, Brian Froud’s fairies, Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies of the Garden, and all kinds of fairytales. As a child I often wondered why there weren’t more fairies in fairytales. Aside from an occasional fairy godmother, we didn’t see much of the fairy creatures in fairytales. Maybe those weren’t the stories my mother read me as a child because the real fae were too scary in old tales. And maybe it was because there weren’t a whole lot of stories about fairy godmothers, the tooth fairies or actual mermaids who enjoyed being mermaids and didn’t want to become—ick—a human, that I began to draw and write my own.

Over the last year Viking mythology has made its way into my writing more and more. I’m sure this has nothing to do with Eugene being such a hotspot for Viking sightings. I swear I’m telling the truth when I say that the bank branch manager in Springfield’s name is Thor. And I hear the Mad Viking may have accidentally made a hole in the wall of an office with his pole axe on when No Shame Eugene’s actor was inviting another theatre to come perform at their event. Was this truly an accident or Viking powers unleashed? Even with movies, like Thor, we are seeing more mainstream Norsemen.

 

 

Below are some Viking resources I have used for inspiration, laughs and education for my writing.

I have been thinking about humor a lot lately. I like to read fun, light, and happy science fiction, fantasy and paranormal romance. I think that is the majority of what I write and what’s leftover in me writes the really dark fiction. I have been noticing where not to send short stories as there are markets that say they take humor but in actuality, it is either humor I just don’t get or quirky/weird but not what I actually think of as humor. Part of what my critique group, Wordos, does is dissect markets and figure out what they are looking for. At least we do when we are low on stories to critique.

So I have been compiling markets out of my inventory of writing sales and submission that I think like humor (or perhaps just my sense of humor).  I thought it might be of benefit to other people besides just myself. I have listed the name of the market, website and what I sold. The titles might give an idea of what kind of humor they like and how much success a relatively new author has had with them.

I’m also curious if other people have had success with particular markets that accept humor, and what magazines and short story publishers you enjoy reading that publishes humor. I know I always enjoy something funny after a hard day.

I write a lot of speculative fiction. Sometimes it is paranormal romance, sometimes science fiction with fairytale elements, sometime something too crazy to classify. I am often inspired by real events that have occurred in my life like middle school students I have taught that speak in a monotone like zombies—which then uses actual things teenagers have said in a zombie story like Zombie Psychology or Pizza of the Living Dead.  There are places I have been immersed in another culture that made me feel like an alien like when I lived in Japan and wrote Silent Moon or when I went to Faerieworlds and fell in love with the world and wrote The Pining, set to come out in January 2015 in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.

There are resources I turn to when I want to immerse myself in fantasy and fairies. Below is list of places I go when I want to learn more about fairies, fantasy and mythology. I love to read fairytales and find myself more distracted by reading about this than I do watching Project Bellydance on Youtube. Well, some days.

Written by guest blogger, John Burridge. John is a science fiction and fantasy author, former Renaissance fair performer, fairy enthusiast and all around funny guy. John recently gave a presentation in Eugene on Faerie which I found insightful and inspiring. In fact, it was so inspiring I wrote two short stories immediately afterward based on some aspect of his presentation that sparked my imagination. For that reason, I wanted him to share his fairy expertize here.

Introduction

Before I begin I should say that I'm a total Tolkien fan-boy.  I'll be focusing on Western and Northern European folk customs, mostly because that's what I've read the most of and about.  

To get an idea of where I'll be, I want to ask, how many of you have seen Orlando Bloom in "The Lord of the Rings Movies"?  (Pause).  OK.  Good, now, how many of you have seen Edward from the Twilight movies?  OK, so, to quote Jason Foxtrot,  "Orlando Bloom has ruined everything!"  I'll also say it once here so I don't get sidetracked, "Augh! Elves! Don't! Snowboard!"

Writing related articles on how to write, sell, or edit short stories and novels. Original posts were on ShadowSpinners, in Rose City Romance Writer's newsletters, on Penumbra blogs, Author Marketing 101, and Romancing the Genres websites. Many of these posts are also available to read in the news section.

Written by guest blogger, John Burridge. John is a science fiction and fantasy author, former Renaissance fair performer, fairy enthusiast and all around funny guy. John recently gave a presentation in Eugene on Faerie which I found insightful and inspiring. In fact, it was so inspiring I wrote two short stories immediately afterward based on some aspect of his presentation that sparked my imagination. For that reason, I wanted him to share his fairy expertize here.

Faerie and Writing

So, in terms of writing Faerie, there are some questions you have to ask yourself as a writer.