Jan ’18 State of the Author

So, the fantasy novel is done, at least is finished in draft form. It will need work on the revision side, but it has wrapped up.

Rather than launch into one of the novels waiting for me, I am working on a steampunk story set in Hamburg in 1892. “In the Fleets” is the title. A Vliet (pronounced “fleet”) is one of the small side channels that feed into the main rivers in Hamburg. The protagonist has a chip on his shoulder about the newly-declared German Empire. As it turns out, so do a lot of other people. Continue reading


Stick a Fork in it – Fantasy Novel Edition

The draft of the Chinese-inspired fantasy novel is done. I have a cover located. I need a title.

The plot: A dragon, Count Chang, finds a girl he thinks is the Chosen One, a human of the old blood who carries the magical power needed to heal a sick river and to convince the humans to stop making things worse. Leesan, being the youngest daughter of a foreign family, has absolutely no desire to take on any responsibility or to think for herself, let alone learn magic. The other dragons, including the Western King, need her to act, lest the Great Sky Emperor, king of the gods, lose his patience with them and sort things out himself, remaking the world and punishing the dragons in the process. Count Chang just wants the glory of having found the person who can fix the problem, not the responsibility for actually working to solve things.

No one gets what they want, as you can imagine.

Some title ideas include:

Lord Chang and the River

Healing the Great River

The Dragon and the Land

The Curse of the Yellow Hills

Pearl’s Daughter

Any of these sound better than others? Any suggestions for something else?

What the Blogger is Reading: Jan ’18 Edition

Feng, Li. Early China: A Social and Cultural History This is a general overview drawing from Chinese and Western scholarship. It focuses on the Bronze Age cultures through the end of the Han (220 AD or so). It is filling in some gaps, and kicking off ideas I need to finish the Work In Progress.

Marx, Karl The Portable Karl Marx Because I need to review some of his ideas, but I am not in the mood (and don’t have the dedicated quiet time and space) to read through The German Ideology and Theses on Feuerbach and Kapital in German. Reading Marx reminds me 1) how much background in German philosophy you need to follow many of his ideas and 2) why he’s almost as impenetrable as Hegel. You’d think the writer of some of the worst books (in terms of effects on humanity) in recent history would have been a little clearer, but that’s a feature, not a bug, according to his later followers.

Shendge, Malati J. The Civilized Demons: The Harappans in the RigVeda The book is rather odd. The author considers the Rig Veda to be a mythologization of historical accounts of the invasion of the Indus watershed by the Indo-Aryans, and looks at how the archaeological and linguistic and textual evidence conflict and coincide. The book went very slowly at first, and you have to be either 1) really interested in the topic, or 2) really familiar with the material either archaeological or the Vedas, or 3) determined to plow through, because she knows her stuff and is not afraid to heap reference onto dig report onto quotation. I’m not entirely certain if I’m convinced, but she sparked a new fantasy novel, so I’m going to read through to the end.

Isaacson, Walter Leonardo Da Vinci. Great book! My parents gave me this for Christmas, and I’m slowly working my way through it, in part slowly to savor the writing and illustrations, in part slowly because it is a fat book and I can’t read it around Athena T. Cat once she claims my lap in the evenings. Highly, highly recommend for anyone interested in the artist, in his world, and in how his works are analyzed.

Dollinger, Philippe. Die Hanse This is an updated and lightly revised edition of the book about the Hanseatic League. It is in German, and I am reading it to refresh that part of my mind for the sequel to Of Merchant and Magic. I need to know more about the kontors and how they functioned, plus more economic hard data than my other references have.

Also in German I’m reading a guide to the medieval imperial cities of Eastern Germany (yes, the book is pre 1990) such as Goslar, Magdeburg, Quedlinburg, and others. And a tourist guide to Quedlinburg, in case the former Stazi* lady is still the guide in the church. No, I am not kidding. She was memorable in all the wrong ways, and DadRed kept trying to angle around to see if she had knife blades under the toes of her boots.**

For those keeping score, yes, I finally finished Peter Wilson’s Heart of Europe about the Holy Roman Empire. There is so much in that book to consider and chew on… It and Judson’s volume on the later Habsburg Empire, like Andrew Wheatcroft’s look at the Habsburg – Ottoman wars, have changed how I teach that area.

There are a few other things I’m nibbling on, but these are the main ones, plus some work-related reading. Over the Christmas Break I read both of Vox Day’s SJW books. I disagree with some of his ideas, but the first book in particular was useful to get the exact chronology of some of the recent cultural tempests hammered out (like GamerGate). The minutes of the Supreme Dark Lord’s meeting with his henchmen is hysterically funny, especially since I’ve met some of the individuals involved. (“John, I just want the revised manuscript.” “Oh, sorry, sir. Here it is.”)

*WordPress, Stazi is not a misspelling of SETI.

**Watch From Russia With Love. My hand to Bog, that was the tour guide’s twin sister.

Just in Time for Christmas…

It’s alive!

The story, not the nutcracker. Or is it?

Rada Ni Drako won an auction lot of nutcracker-replicas. Now she’s trying to unload them at a winter fair on Opnarr. One sale in particular leads to a confrontation with a mob of angry reptiles over a starving child and a nutcracker that might have a secret…

There’s Food in my Fiction!

People in my books and stories eat a lot. It’s not because I’m especially fascinated by food ways, although chocolate does intrigue me. So many variations, so little time…

Ahem. Sorry.

No, my characters spend a lot of time around the table, or thinking about edibles, because that’s how life seems to work. To my knowledge, nothing can survive without taking in energy, be it through chemoautotrophy, or noshing on plankton, or photosynthesis, or eating a slower critter. Humans, and StarĂ©, and Rada, and True-Dragons, are no different. And it is interesting to see what works and what doesn’t. And how that can affect a story. Continue reading