History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Fun for Friday: Bunches of Writing Prompts!

Posted By on May 20, 2022

When you’re staring at a blank page with no ideas, pop over to Wrighting Words’ list of writing prompts! Whether you do best with random bits of dialogue, titles, or random words, there are a bunch of different ways to get your writing started! With six different categories to choose from, you could even pick a different category for each of six days of the week and have a year or more of prompts to work through!

Have You Checked Out Doorways in the Gloom?

Posted By on May 19, 2022

Have you had a chance to check out Doorways in the Gloom? It’s got a bunch of spooky stories and poetry just waiting to scare and unsettle you!

Doorways can lead to many marvelous places. In this collection, however, the scenes they reveal are shrouded in gloom and darkness. See where the doorways take you in flash fiction, poetry, and two short stories at the darker end of the spectrum.

This collection contains content notes for many of the stories, so if you’ve been hesitant to pick it up because you have concerns about what sort of stories lurk within, please do contact me and ask! I’m happy to help folks know whether this collection is for them or if they should skip it, or if there are just one or two pieces you may want to bypass!

Don’t Forget to Sign Up for the Superhero Day Raffle!

Posted By on May 18, 2022

Have you signed up for the Superhero-Fiction.com raffle yet? You could win 18 superhero books in paperback, or one of the ebook packages! If you haven’t already done it, you’ve got ten more days to get signed up!

From action to romance and everything in between, this is a must-have prize package. It includes my Cobalt City related novella, Sure Shot in Las Capas: The Case of the Absent Star, which is a noir-inspired mystery set in an alternate version of Hollywood! There are tons of ways to get entries into the raffle, which you can check out at Superhero-Fiction.com! Enter between April 28th and May 28th for your chance to win!

“Orbit 41” in New Moons Under Which to Sleep

Posted By on May 17, 2022

“Orbit 41” is an odd little piece of flash. I managed to squeeze three points of view into the story, and one of those points of view is that of a satellite.

The story is based on the first Indian satellite, the Aryabhata, which was launched in 1975. After a few days in orbit, the satellite stopped communicating with researchers on Earth, though it remained in orbit for seventeen years. My story, the title of which references the point at which the researchers on Earth lost contact with their satellite, posits an extraterrestrial reason behind the communication breakdown.

“Orbit 41” found its first home at Reflex Press and is also available in New Moons Under Which to Sleep, along with other science fiction stories and poetry. And you can get that collection in ebook or print!

Writing Small

Posted By on May 16, 2022

I moderated a panel on “Writing Small” at Flights of Foundry, during which we talked a lot about flash fiction and other stories told in very small word counts. I was on a similar panel four years ago, since which time I’ve written and sold a lot more flash fiction and gotten a better grasp on what it can and can’t do.

Some of the topics we talked about in this panel included definitions for flash fiction and other shorter lengths, figuring out whether an idea is flash fiction length or will end up being something longer, the tips and tricks we use to write small stories, how poetry can inform writing small stories (and vice versa), and places to sell flash fiction stories.

I always find the tips and tricks that other flash fiction writers use to be of interest to my own writing, and the one I often share is learning how to evoke visuals with just a few simple words. My example is often “high school gymnasium,” because even if you’ve never been in a high school gymnasium, you’ve likely encountered one in visual media. So by using only three words, I can evoke a sense of place, which may be more robust for some readers, but will resonate with nearly every reader. You can do this in speculative fiction as well–a space ship corridor might look a very specific way to some readers, but in general, they will have the gist of the setting without too much detail.

I’ve also used this shorthand for characters, which you can see in my flash piece “Not Their Real Names” which is out recently from The Arcanist. In this story, I have the narrator refer to the other characters by the pop culture icons they most resemble. So with just a few words, I’ve painted a picture of who these other characters are, at least visually. And while this technique won’t work for every story, it was a fun trick to pull off in this one!


Fun for Friday: Merfolk Inspired Images

Posted By on May 13, 2022

Image by peter_pyw from Pixabay

Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay

For this week’s Fun for Friday, it’s image prompts, all on a merfolk-related theme without being just about merfolk!

The first image is a forest scene with a lightbulb-shaped vessel holding water and a very small merfolk, along with a ladybug perched atop the bulb and an ant to the left.

The second image is a fox on a dark background illuminated by the light from a glowing jellyfish-like creature.

The third image is two flamingos standing in what looks like ocean water that is high enough that their feathers are just barely out of the water. One of the flamingos has their head in the water, while the other does not. There’s a large turtle to their left and a merfolk surrounded by birds in flight to their right and in the background.

C. and M. Marsh, Girl Detectives Coming Soon!

Posted By on May 12, 2022

The very first story I wrote as an adult, with an intent of publication was a sweet little story about two young girls living in a mechanical garden. Because I was very lucky, I sold that story, and then sold it several more times as reprint. It wound up inspiring me to write more, and now and then, I came back to those two young girls.

The first story was “The Recondite Riddle of the Rose Rogue,” and it was followed by “The Marvelous Matter of the Mischievous Monkey,” The Trouble with the Tick-Tock Tabby (a book, rather than a story), and finally “The Wearisome Worry of the Wily Waif.” Though I doubt I’m done with the Marsh sisters, I’m now collecting the three short stories featuring them into C. and M. Marsh, Girl Detectives.

If you’ve got a kid in your life who likes mystery, clever characters, steampunk, or stories about siblings, you might want to get them a copy of their own! C. and M. Marsh, Girl Detectives will be published on May 31, 2022, and it will be available in ebook or print formats. You can pre-order the ebook now, but you won’t be able to order the print book until the 31st!

Review of Lost in the Archives by E. Saxey

Posted By on May 11, 2022

Lost in the Archives by E. Saxey (Lethe Press, 2022) is a collection of the author’s short stories, many of which have been previously published. The stories include several in historic settings with speculative elements, as well as modern and future settings, all rendered with exquisite characterization and inventive plot elements.

Some of the stories I really enjoyed in this collection included “Not Smart, Not Clever,” in which a young woman who is absolutely both of those things games a system that has evolved to enforce rigid academic honesty in a world still rife with dishonesty. I also enjoyed the shorter piece, “Sunslick,” in which even solar power can cause problems when humans get greedy about what they want from the sun. Finally, “Red Kite Kindred” was a heart-wrenching story about people linking themselves to animals and the consequences that followed, with a setting that felt faintly historical without being about big events.

If you enjoy stories that run the gamut from historical to modern to futuristic, but that all share imaginative ideas and characters you will adore or love to hate, check out Lost in the Archives, available directly from Lethe Press.

The author provided me a copy of this book for review consideration.

“Safe Haven” in Intercity Illusions

Posted By on May 10, 2022

“Safe Haven” came out of a very specific prompt for an anthology: write a story that takes place in a hotel and only covers five minutes of time. That anthology was Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove, and I was super excited to place “Safe Haven” in it!

My story involved a werewolf who needed to find a safe place to wait out the nights and days of the full moon, and she found it in Hotel Stormcove. It’s a lightly humorous flash fiction story with a twist at the end that’s probably a bit more telegraphed than I think.

If you like humorous contemporary or urban fantasy stories, there are plenty in Intercity Illusions, which is the other place you can find “Safe Haven”!

Stephen Fry on Meter, Part 3

Posted By on May 9, 2022

As I mentioned previously, I’m working through Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled very slowly to absorb as much wisdom as I can about writing poetry. This week’s post covers Chapter 1, Section 3, on other meters.

After sections on iambic pentameter and variations, this section introduces lines with fewer than or more than five “feet.” While a lot of those meters aren’t necessarily used for an entire poem, some can be, and others can be used as a variation to highlight a portion of the poem. It also covers hypermetric lines (an iambic line that ends with a “bonus” weak syllable) and catalectic subtraction (a trochaic line that is clipped or docked of the final weak syllable).

The section also includes a bit on mixed feet, again with the idea of bringing more attention to a portion of the poem, as well as changing things up so the poem flows better. The exercise in this section (there’s only one this time) involves writing tetrameter and trimeter and playing with catalectic subtraction. I’m not sure yet if my attempts at this will turn into poems that I want to publish, though I always feel a bit silly about some of my exercise lines because they are just sort of on whatever random topic I come up with. But here’s one of the exercises: the first of my two quatrains of iambic tetrameter.

The workers stop their tasks two days
a week, but wish their labors ceased
more time than that. To streets they flock
to ask a shorter day or week.

The second quatrain needs a little bit more work because I can’t decide if toil can be a single syllable or not. I really want it to be, though!