Flora & Fauna in Fantasia

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series The Songweaver's Vow: Easter Eggs & Background
Protected example of Common Ash (Fraxinus exce...

Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just because a book is a fantasy does not mean it does not require research (and in fact often requires more). Right now I am writing about the plants and animals of Asgard, and I am working to make them as probable as possible.

How do we know what animals lived and what plants grew in a land that never was? We look at where the storytellers lived. The Danes who first told these stories likely based their creatures and plants on the more familiar specimens they knew. Continue reading

Writing Women.

Let’s talk about lady protagonists.

No, this isn’t another rant about needing more strong female characters, nor the problems with Strong Female Characters (TM). (That’s an easy problem to solve, really: you write good characters, and some of them are female. Done. Not every character needs to carry the impossible weight of universal representation.)

No, I’m going to talk about just the number of females, and my own part in the current state of affairs. Yes, this was partly prompted by Jo Eberhardt’s “The Problem With Female Protagonists,” but I think I’m going to add some additional data and personal takes.

First, let’s look at a statistical truth: There are more books and films with male protagonists than female. (The very fact that we call out but-look-a-female-lead! is proof of it being outside the norm. Nobody needs to point out gravity, because we’re all used to it.) But because we’re all neurologically programmed to notice the abnormal more than the normal, when we do start seeing “diversity,” it feels bigger than it is.

This is why research shows that if 17% of a given group is female, the men in the group report an equal number of men and women, and when the number of females reaches 33%, the men report a majority of women. The “excess” of women over the “norm” is what’s perceived, not an actual count. Continue reading

So To Honor Him charity promotion

So To Honor HimWhen So To Honor Him released last year, all the initial profits went directly to support International Justice Mission, an organization fighting modern-day slavery.

In 2015, we’re doing it again.

100% of the profits from all copies (paperback and ebook) sold December 14-18 will go directly to IJM. Click here to purchase and feel free to share with your friends! Continue reading

News: I Have a Tesla

20151205_135738 It was roughly three years of observing and dreaming, before I had finally realized I’d saved enough. And lemme tell you, there’s no feeling like achieving a dream.

Word got out this weekend, when I picked up the car itself. I have become the very pleased owner of a Tesla Model S.

And the key point for this blog is, my books are buying it. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!) Continue reading

Vampires for Charity

Once, while dressed as Dracula (I was a sponsor for the Monster Mania film festival of Universal classics at the Historic Artcraft Theater), I donated blood. I posed for a photo outside the mobile donation trailer, assuring the photographer I’d come to the blood bank to make a deposit, not a withdrawal. Then I went inside, and when the nurse came around the corner to check me in, she screamed.

It was great fun. I do love my vampires.

In a similar /ahem/ vein, I would like to share with you a fun promotional event called Vampire Books for Blood. The authors of the vampire-themed books listed have pledged to donate 10% of their October sales to either the American Red Cross or Canadian Blood Services, depending on their location.

So hop on over (yes, that’s a vampire pun, too) and see if there’s any new books you want to sink your teeth into.

#VampBooks4Blood

“That Friend” and FOMO

Okay, I’ve seen a number of people post this now. Many are people who don’t know each other. And I’ve seen the sentiment echoed from all demographics, people getting student discounts and people getting senior discounts. It’s everywhere. Here’s the thing:

I'm that friend that has to walk behind the group when the path isn't big enough. I'm that friend that gets cut off in the conversation. I'm that friend that gets left behind when I asked for them to wait for me. I'm that friend that doesn't get invited to hang out a lot. I'm that friend that if I want to go tot he mall or some place with a friend I have to be the one to invite people to make sure I get included. I'll always be that friend.

 

And I’m going to step into the Old Ben mentor trope for a moment and pontificate, because it seems there’s something critical being missed.

Guys, this is not “that friend.” This is EVERYONE. Continue reading

What You Did Last Week

So To Honor Him book cover, three riders on camels against a dramatic sky, with a brilliant star, and a super-imposed drum

So To Honor Him was released a day early to newsletter subscribers. Not only did they have the first look, but they had a different price: pay what you want, and all the profit would go to International Justice Mission.

(All direct sales profits last week went to IJM, but on official launch day, the price was a fixed $1.99.)

English: Amanda Palmer Live 2008

Amanda Palmer and I are very infrequently mistaken for one another. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wasn’t sure about setting up a pay-what-you-want day. I mean, that kind of thing works for people like Amanda Palmer, but, well, I’m not Amanda Palmer. What if everyone just grabbed the story for free and nothing at all went to International Justice Mission? Continue reading

The Proposed USFS Photo Ban?!

Ansel Adams landscapeIt’s about to become enforced policy: it’s illegal to take photos in national parks and on federal lands without a $1500 permit. The fine for taking unauthorized pics will be $1000/photo. Even in the /cough/ Ansel Adams Wilderness area.

USFS says it’s to protect the forests. Sure, our parks have been under a lot of stress — illegal logging, water pollution, drifting air pollution, human-started fires have all taken a high toll. You know what’s not damaging parks? Digital and film recordings. Photography doesn’t ACTUALLY steal the soul, you know. Continue reading

Feminism & Writing

So the “f-word” is getting a lot of chatter this week, as Emma Watson spoke to the UN on Monday about feminism. Of course some people immediately threatened a nude photo leak (or manufacture, since apparently no one has legit nude photos of Watson) to bully her into being quiet. [see update below]

Way to prove Watson’s point exactly, people.

There are two fundamental problems here, and I can personally contribute to fixing only one of them. But I’ll explain them both. (And yes, this is still about stories!) Continue reading

Ask the Author and S’Mores

The water was a lot of dead algae and also a thick pancake batter-like sludgy foam. Yech.

The water was a lot of dead algae and also (not pictured) a thick pancake batter-like sludgy foam. Yech.

So, I missed the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold conference last weekend, and I feel pretty bad about that. I’ve been to the Colorado Gold only once, last year, but I really enjoyed the people I met there and the conference sessions themselves.

We should maybe rethink some of our environmental stewardship choices.

Dead fish everywhere. We should maybe rethink some of our environmental stewardship choices.

But I did get to spend a weekend at another (non-writing) event with friends, being eaten by mosquitos beside the highly questionable waters of Maumee Bay and Lake Erie, so that was some consolation. The tap water was officially safe again, but the lake water, not so much. I’ll let you know if the pollution-affected mutant mosquito bites turn out to have imbued me with superpowers. We can always hope. Continue reading