History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Fun for Friday: November 2020 Writing Prompts

Posted By on October 30, 2020

Here comes November, with autumn and winter temperatures and holidays in their wake in most of North America!

This month’s prompts reflect the late autumn/early winter nature of November, and also include some holiday-related words and also some random words. I’ve also included a lovely Japanese maple photo that might give you some ideas for adding color to your stories or poems.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo in November, you could use the words to push you forward when you run out of steam, by working to include one or more of the words for that day in what you’re writing. Some may make less sense than others, but you can always cut them later if they really don’t work!

Check back on the last Friday of each month (or occasionally the first day of a new month, when that falls on a Friday) for my History That Never Was writing prompts!

Day Word 1 Word 2 Word 3
1 Past Arrive Rust
2 Flight Spark Mood
3 Season First Oak
4 Plenty Gift Frost
5 Cornfield Poison Spirit
6 Surprise Arena Elect
7 Sport Fortune Stagecoach
8 Winter Bounty Goal
9 Share Stash Slippers
10 Fall Reason Perfect
11 New Veteran Impossible
12 Hope Neighbor Squash
13 Comb Better Bartender
14 Imagine Festival Gather
15 Laughter Golden Gobble
16 History Protector Silly
17 Lost Pom-Pons Guest
18 Backstage Book Crisp
19 Travel Volcano Ritual
20 Change Baking Collapse
21 Service Make Stung
22 Praise Matchbook Certainty
23 Dessert Consume Voiceless
24 Conqueror Desert Arrows
25 Break Wander Discuss
26 Rainy Sensitive Chill
27 Saloon Favorite Stove
28 Fall Him Well
29 Capture Twilight Peak
30 Dead Fireplace Beans

Spooky Reads for All Ages: Spiders of the Shifting Swamp!

Posted By on October 29, 2020

It’s almost Halloween! Do you have your copy of Spiders of the Shifting Swamp on hand to read?

I call it a spooky read, but it’s not really all that spooky. It is, however, a fun book for kids that adults will also enjoy. It features spiders, ogres, and lizards in its pages, but it’s also about family and teamwork and responsibility!

You can find Spiders of the Shifting Swamp in print only!

What I’m Reading, Watching, and Listening To: Late November 2020 Edition

Posted By on October 28, 2020

Clip art of headphones, TV screen, and cat reading a sheet of paperReading: I’ve finished all of the books I’ve offered to review, which means I’m finally putting a dent in the pile of books I’ve bought over the years for fun. Currently on a historical fantasy/ fantastic history kick, unsurprisingly.

Watching: Still working our way through HannaV, and Kindred: the Embraced. I had to explain to Jeremy why the last of those was SO BAD when it aired. We had finally gotten a show on mainstream TV about a thing we loved … and they made so many changes that we hated it. (Of course, I clearly didn’t hate it that much, since I still own it on DVD.) We also recently watched the BLACKPINK documentary on Netflix, and enjoyed that quite a bit.

Listening To: New songs from Mamamoo and Lee Su-hyun (of AKMU), a new EP from Pentagon, and a solo mixtape from Joohoney (of Monsta X) have been my go tos for K-pop, though I still listen to my iPod more frequently these days. We also discovered Violet Orlandi from a 10 Second Song Guy video, and I am loving pretty much everything she does!

Veiled Prophet Essay at Fantastic History!

Posted By on October 27, 2020

Catherine Schaff-Stump is hosting some of my articles about the real history behind my stories from Unfixed Timelines at her Fantastic History blog. The fourth post, “The Veiled Prophet,” is up now!

One year at Christmas, while flipping through a book about St. Louis at my mom’s house with Jeremy, Mom and I had to pause to explain the Veiled Prophet to him. It’s a uniquely St. Louis thing, though pageants of a similar nature happened all over the United States, particularly in the nineteenth century. But thinking about how weird and slightly creepy the Veiled Prophet sounded, I started concocting a spooky story involving the Veiled Prophet and the King in Yellow from the Lovecraft mythos. “Tarnish” was the result of that, tying together the year in which a “Queen of Love and Beauty” was not crowned due to a visit by Grover Cleveland with my spooky idea.

You can read more about the Veiled Prophet and nineteenth-century pageants in my post at Fantastic History, and you can read the story in Unfixed Timelines!

Poetry Forms: Clogyrnach

Posted By on October 26, 2020

I’ve been interested in trying some of the Welsh poetry forms, but I find a lot of them intimidating due to their requirements for meter and rhyme. While the Clogyrnach also includes those requirements, they seem a little more friendly in this shorter form.

The Clogyrnach (pronounced Clog Ear Nak) is a Welsh poetic form (occasionally attributed to Irish poets) with five or six line stanzas, in three couplets of decreasing syllables (8, 5, and 3), with an aabbba rhyme scheme for the lines. The reason for the five or six lines is that you can either let the final couplet stand as two very short lines, or you can combine them into a six-syllable final line (though maintaining the b-a rhyme on the third and sixth syllable). Your poem may comprise multiple stanzas in this pattern, depending on your length preference or needs. And I’m certain that someone, somewhere, has done this with linked rhymes extending across the stanzas, but that’s beyond my rhyming capabilities.

So if you’d like to dip your toes into an easier Welsh form, check out the Clogyrnach and see what you can do with it!

Fun for Friday: Architectural Images?

Posted By on October 23, 2020


This week’s images are mostly based on architectural things, except maybe that last one.

The first image is a tall, slender white building atop a hill. The structure of the building looks as though it is twisted in a counterclockwise direction when facing it, and it gives the impression of a unicorn’s horn emerging from a hill.

The second image shows lighting on the underside of a smooth concrete bridge. The lighting is primarily blue-toned, but shifts to pink and orange under portions of the bridge. The background is a cityscape at night, with lights piercing a basically black background.

The final image is a computer rendering of some sort of latticework, which has a hexagonal/six segment base. The latticework is shown in such a way to reveal all of the small hexagonal portions and the perspective allows them to fade into showing the complete whole in the distance.

At What Cost? now out!

Posted By on October 22, 2020

I’ve got a new story out this week! “At What Cost?” is included in the second volume of the House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature.

The inspiration for this story came from the week-long stints I used to do for work, where I would drive into a former limestone quarry known as “The Cave” and work in an archive there. Being completely underground, and about 1/2 a mile into the facility, you couldn’t see daylight from the time you arrived to whenever you left. (Sometimes, if I went with other co-workers, we would leave at lunch, but when I went solo, I often brought a lunch instead.) There were a whole ton of people who worked down there, and it felt like they were always there when I arrived, and always there when I left … as though they never saw daylight at all. But instead of making this a vampire story, I decided on a sci-fi setting, and then there were clones and terrorists and family.

You can check out my story and many others in the House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature volume 2! The ebook is free through Friday, and then the price goes up to $2.99 Canadian!

Two Kickstarter Projects!

Posted By on October 21, 2020

A couple of folks I know have Kickstarter projects going right now, which I think some of my readers might be interested in!

Atthis Arts is currently seeking support for In This Moment, an anthology of stories and poetry for global justice, reflecting the protest and resilience that fill our lives in 2020. The already slated authors are certain to make this anthology fantastic, and it will also include additional authors if they are funded! The Kickstarter will fund the production of the book, but future proceeds are slated to go to social justice charities. This Kickstarter ends on October 29th.

Author Lawrence M. Schoen runs a regular feature on his blog called “Eating Authors,” in which authors talk about memorable meals they’ve had. He’s collecting these articles and more to release an Eating Authors book, with the Kickstarter again funding the book, but with future proceeds benefitting cancer research and the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund. This Kickstarter runs until October 28th.

What If I’m a Merfolk?: Big Fish

Posted By on October 20, 2020

The new story that appears in What If I’m a Merfolk? is “Big Fish,” which is a very short flash piece. It’s told in an unusual style for me, in that it’s a first person story in which the narrator responds to unstated questions from an unseen and unheard second character. But for this story, it served to keep the story very short (just shy of 500 words).

I wrote this story during my first Drawlloween run, where most of my pieces were short flash that I finished in a single day. Coincidentally enough, this means I wrote this story exactly two years ago today, with a prompt of “serpent.” In my case, it was a lake serpent, like Nessie. And while Nessie probably isn’t considered a merfolk by most, my lake serpent sort of is. So this story fit perfectly into What If I’m a Merfolk?

You can check out “Big Fish,” two other stories, and many poems in What If I’m a Merfolk? in ebook format only!

NaNoWriMo Advice

Posted By on October 19, 2020

NaNoWriMo postcardI’ve talked before about why I personally don’t do NaNoWriMo anymore, but despite that, I still have advice for NaNoWriMo folks, based on my experience in past years! I think NaNoWriMo is valuable for newer writers, and even some experienced writers who need the proverbial kick in the pants to get started on a project.

My top advice for those doing NaNoWriMo is:

  1. Pre-plan. You’re going to need a plan to get through writing a novel in 30 days. I recommend an outline. If you’re allergic to outlines, at least have a rough sketch in your head of what the big conflict of your novel is. Going into writing a novel without a plan can result in cool stuff, but having a plan in advance really helps when you get stuck, and guides you toward having something useful when the month is over.
  2. Write ahead. No, I’m not advocating cheating here. I’m suggesting that if you have time to exceed the word count needed on a given day, do it. You never know what life is going to throw at you toward the end of the month. If common wisdom says you need to write 1,667 words a day, shoot for 2,000 words a day. That way, you can build up a buffer in case you just can’t write one day. It also prevents you from needing 10,000 words in the last three days of the month. (Yes, I’ve seen that happen, and I’ve seen someone win after being in that position. But it wasn’t easy.)
  3. Finish. This is a two-fold bit of advice. The first is that you’ve got to try to get through your 50,000 words. But the likelihood is that you won’t have finished a novel in 50,000 words. And maybe you’ll be burned out at the end of November. (Let’s be honest. You WILL be burned out.) But you’ve still got to finish the novel if you ever want to do anything with it. So let it sit, but finish it, sooner rather than later. Try to get the same urgency as you had while doing NaNoWriMo to keep yourself generating new words until it’s done.
  4. Even if you don’t “win,” you’re still a winner! While the official “win condition” for NaNoWriMo is getting through 50,000 words, in my opinion, if you end November with 500 more words than you had at the beginning of November, you’re still a winner, because you wrote words!