Digging Up the Past, or Getting Your Hands Dirty With History

“You have to know the past to understand the present.”
-Carl Sagan

As someone who enjoys history, I spend a lot of time looking to the past. This weekend started out with the topic on Pairanormal, the radio show that I co-host at TMV Cafe  about the real life serial killer in which the legendary Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, was based upon. 18th century London, England where he lived is a facinating subject in and of itself. And I love to study anything that has to do with the history of England, partly because that’s where most of my ancesters are from.

I’ve also been working on a story that takes place in the Victorian Era of the 19th century, for John Manning’s  horror anthology “Terror by Gaslight”, so I’ve been reading up on that time period a bit to make sure I have a good feel for the age and its trappings. One of the things I love to do as a writer, is research a topic, which invariably leads me to other interesting topics. Then I get so caught up in the joy of the research, that I don’t actually sit down and finish writing the damn story until it’s almost time to turn it in before deadline. That’s where I’m at right now with this story, so I had better put the books down and get cracking at it already.

However, seeing as the weather was nice today, my daughter and I had the idea that it would be fun to finally dig up a couple of ammonite fossils that had come to the surface of my front yard. That combined with a few other chores and errands that needed to be done, I didn’t accomplish as much writing today as I would have liked.  But I must say, that my ammonite collection is coming along nicely. One of them managed to only have a small piece on the underside break off, but was otherwise completely intact. It has a beautiful spiral pattern that is very well defined and may be the best looking specimen that I’ve gotten form my yard to date. The other one we were not so lucky with as a good portion of the underside had been removed from tree roots growing through it. Still, the topside looks quite nice, good enough to put in my fossil garden. By my reasoning, with all these ammonites in my yard, there may be a fossilized ichthyosaur or plesiosaur skeleton in my yard just waiting to be found. But then, I’m no expert, and I write fiction so you really can’t believe anything that I tell you anyway. Fun fact: Ammonites are named after the Egyptian god Ammon who was depicted as having rams horns on his head.

If you like audiobooks, this one of  “A Man and His God“, a Sacred Band Tale, by Janet Morris, with voice work by David Kudler will be available soon. You can listen to a couple of free excepts of the audiobook here on David’s blog at Stillpoint Digital Press. from listening to the excepts it sounds like a great voice work, and a wonderful addition to the Sacred Band series.

Well that’s a wrap for this week’s blog, not much else of note going on right now, but check in next week because you never know what I’ll be up to by then.  Until next time, I’ll leave you with another pithy quote:

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

-Lewis Carroll

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A New Year of Unlimited Possibilities or, Write or Die!

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.”
-Kahlil Gibran

It’s 2013 and no time to rest on my laurels. This proves to be a busy year for writing. I just need to get my head into these stories so I can get the words down. This always seems to be the biggest stumbling block for me as a writer. It’s not so much of a writers’ block as the ideas are there, it’s just hard sometimes to get in the right frame of mind to get the words to come out to reflect what I’m feeling needs to be in the story. I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately and I’m just not sure why. I have this obsession with the ideas of where creativity and inspiration come from, and how we harness them to write, create art, music, etc. I recently picked up a book, “The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain” by Alice W. Flaherty that is a fascinating study both scientifically and philosophically of these concepts. I’m hoping it will give me some insight into my own creative processes and how to better channel them into my writing.

On a really cool note, here is something that I think you all will enjoy: the audio book of  the Sacred Band tale, “Wake of the Riddler” by Janet Morris, and narrated by Alex Hyde-White, available from Audible at Amazon.com. Excellent story and outstanding narration make this short story from the book, “The Fish, the Fighters, and the Song-Girl” a must have for fans of The Sacred Band, and readers new to the series, even. There is a free sample of part of the story narration at the link to the audio book that you should really check out.

Something else going on in 2013; I have been confirmed as a guest author panelist at ConDFW, February 15th-17th and All-Con, March 8th-10th. Both conventions are in Dallas, Texas and are shaping up to be better than ever this year, with a big line-up of guests and events. If you are in the area those weekends you should attend. You will not be disappointed. The convention directors at All-Con let panelists create their own topics for discussion, and I came up with a panel about the source of creativity that will include a flash fiction writing exercise. I am also doing a panel on dark fantasy and horror genres in writing that will cover their similarities and differences and some examples of both. I’m bringing on board some fellow writers and friends of mine, JennM,  Joan Fritz, and others to help me with these topics. Check out Jenn M’s blog here at  Brewed Bohemian.

That’s about all for now folks. Thanks for tuning in. I’m committed to keeping to this weekly blog  schedule like I said I would, even if some of these posts may be short and sweet, like me. Heh, heh. I’ll leave you with another fun and spiffy quote:

“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

-Junot Diaz