History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Fun for Friday: Three Summery Images!

Posted By on July 23, 2021

For this week’s Fun for Friday, I’ve got a handful of summer photographs, all of which have a bit of a vintage look to them.

The first image is a field of very small lavender flowers that appear to be on an uphill slope. Above, the sky is blue with puffy white clouds.

The second image is a figure walking along the edge of a beach, with sand to the left and water to the right. In the distance are trees and some hills. The entire image is somewhat washed out, as though it’s a slightly cloudy day, a very hot day, or approaching sunset.

The third image is a metal-framed beach chair with orange plastic or fabric for the seat and a bright teal umbrella. Both are situated on a sandy beach with water beyond, and there are some boats in the distance. This image, too, is mostly washed out aside from the vibrant color on the chair and umbrella.

Have You Checked Out Intercity Illusions?

Posted By on July 22, 2021

Have you had a chance to check out Intercity Illusions?

Cities are filled with the strange and unusual, especially when you add the supernatural to them. This book collects urban fantasy stories and poetry highlighting the abnormal goings-on across myriad cityscapes. These tales will leave you wondering what is real and what is merely an illusion.

This collection is primarily short stories with a few poems, and is available in print or ebook formats!

Review of The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp

Posted By on July 21, 2021

The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp (tor.com, 2018) blends a modern setting with a spooky Gothic tale. In turns, it maintains creeping dread and sustains quick action.

Danna Valdez has just taken a position to educate the young daughter of a wealthy and somewhat eccentric family. But when she arrives at their unusually appointed estate, she finds that details have been omitted about her young charge. There’s something mysterious going on, and Danna is determined to get to the bottom of it for her own well-being and that of her pupil.

Everything about The Atrocities blends together to make it a page turner that you won’t want to put down. The vivid descriptions of the artwork around the mansion, including in the hedge maze outside, brings every bit of it to horrifying life. And the pacing makes you feel the pressure Danna is undergoing as she tries to solve the mystery even while doubting what she sees and hears.

The Atrocities is a powerfully creepy book, with just enough about the weird house to make you feel like you’ve seen something like this before while recognizing that no, you’ve never seen anything like THIS house. If you’re a fan of the sort of “fish out of water” stories of young women going to Gothic mansions and discovering that not all is idyllic, you’ll love The Atrocities, with its shades of Crimson Peak and The Others.

 

New Moons Under Which to Sleep Out Today!

Posted By on July 20, 2021

Today’s the day! My first ever book of science fiction stories, New Moons Under Which to Sleep, is out!

This collection is an interesting one, as I don’t typically consider myself a sci-fi author. However, every story in this collection has been previously published! So I guess maybe I’ve written a few sci-fi stories after all!

What’s new to this collection is the poetry, including the poem from which the title of this collection comes. It’s quite a long poem, but the very last line of it just struck me as the perfect title for a collection like this one!

Unusual spacecraft, aliens among us, and finding new ways to survive. New Moons Under Which to Sleep is a collection of science-fiction short stories, flash fiction, and poetry exploring the future of life on Earth, in space, and on other planets and moons. Journey with characters young and old as they find their proper places in their universes.

New Moons Under Which to Sleep is available in print and ebook formats!

Writing Tools: World Roulette

Posted By on July 19, 2021

I’ve accumulated a large collection of card-based writing tools, each of which is useful to different parts of my writing process. So I’ve decided to do a series of posts about the various decks I own and how I use them in my writing.

I’ve talked previously about World Roulette as a worldbuilding tool, which is what it’s designed to help most with. But World Roulette can also be used as a general creative prompt system for art, roleplaying games, and writing.

The cards each have two sides: a light side, featuring a theme and four articulations of that theme, and a dark side, featuring two dynamics. The themes are larger worldbuilding aspects, while the articulations drill down to a specific aspect of that theme. The dynamics, on the other hand, can offer more nuance to what you’re looking at.

One of the keys to World Roulette is being able to draw connections between the cards you draw. For example, if I draw the themes of “life force,” “distance,” and “trends,” there might not be much immediately to put those three things together. But as I look at the articulations, I find “longevity/mortality” in relation to life force, “determining pace” relative to distance, and “style/aesthetics” for trends. All of this might lead me to consider a world in which the elderly are revered, they are the trendsetters in the fashion world and the pace setters when it comes to travel. When I add the dynamic of “health and wellness,” this makes me think that perhaps it’s not just elderly folks but folks who have outlived the normal lifespan, which adds to why they hold a prominent place in this society. If I wanted to turn this into a story seed, I might draw more cards to answer question and inform a potential plot. As an example here, the next card I drew has the dynamic “luck, auspicious times and objects.” So maybe longevity is supplemented by some sort of auspicious object. Now we’re getting to something that could be a plot, as perhaps an elderly person wants to achieve extra longevity and thus sets out to find one of these legendary objects.

The cards for this set are perfectly square, and the box they came in was a little on the snug side, which is why mine live in the fancy custom box pictured to the side. But the cards and the deck size are a perfectly shuffle-able size for my small hands. The design is pretty sparse, though the font choices give the cards a bit of elegance (it’s more apparent on the unshown light side of the cards, but you can also see it at Light Grey Art Labs’ website).

The downside of World Roulette as a deck used to inspire stories is that it can sometimes take a large number of draws from the deck before you find a place to start your story idea. You may have lots of elements that seem really cool, but nothing for a plot until you’ve pulled several cards (I drew five in my above example) and thought about the different ways to combine them.

In summary, use World Roulette for: world building, society/location elements for roleplaying games, and potentially story seeds.

The World Roulette deck is available in the shop at Light Grey Art Labs’ website.

Fun for Friday: Creative Writing Exercises for Solo Writers or Groups

Posted By on July 16, 2021

Writer at work on a typewriterIf you’re looking for some fun writing exercises that you can do on your own or with a group, check out these 34 creative writing exercises!

In addition to explaining the various exercises, the article also gives some ideas on how they can be used by a group that isn’t all in one place, which can be useful for those writers who have a remote writing group or who are meeting remotely with a formerly in-person writing group!

The writing exercises include a variety that can work for short story writers, novel writers, or even poets. They also are approachable by any writer, even if they deal with a type of writing you don’t normally do!

 

Horror and Dark Fantasy

Posted By on July 15, 2021

Cover art for Camp HauntIf you’re looking for some dark reads for your to be read pile, I’ve got a couple of options for you!

Camp Haunt is an epistolary young adult horror novella, which is only available on Channillo (which requires a subscription). It uses letters home from campers, campers’ journals, camp documents, and newspaper clippings to tell the story of a creepy summer at camp.

My other dark book is Volatile Figments, which is a collection of six dark contemporary fantasy short stories in which the protagonists deal with the supernatural. One or two of the stories might qualify as horror, but they’re closer to dark contemporary fantasy, in my mind.

Both of these books are appropriate for teenagers and older, though they are not for the faint of heart or easily scared reader.

Review of The Silence of Bones by June Hur

Posted By on July 14, 2021

The Silence of Bones by June Hur (Feiwel & Friends, 2020) is a historical young adult mystery set in early nineteenth century Korea, full of rich detail and wonderful characters. The mystery is also phenomenal, and it will keep you guessing all the way to the reveal!

Damo Seol is an indentured servant, bound to work with the police bureau. Under the strictures of law and gender of the time, the male police officers are not allowed to touch women suspects or even women murder victims, so they use the services of “damos” like Seol to handle women for them. In this capacity, Seol is brought in to a case when a noble woman is found murdered, and she continues assisting with the investigation both when women are involved and because her own curiosity and ability to notice things come in handy for the police she works with. Along the way, Seol learns about religious politics that threaten the people around her, both friends and foes, and a bit about her past.

I was drawn to this book because of my interests in Korea and history, and I’m exceptionally glad that I picked it up. The story was quick paced and engaging, and I simply adored Seol as the point-of-view character. While there were a lot of names to digest, especially when there were multiple members of the same family involved, I was able to keep track of them and their various relationships and personalities throughout. And unlike some mysteries, where the culprit becomes apparent quickly, I was still guessing who was responsible till nearly the end of the book!

If you enjoy mysteries and don’t mind a bit of blood and gore in a book, The Silence of Bones is a great read. It’s definitely well suited to young adult readers, and even some younger readers might find this book interesting, particularly if they have an interest in Korean history like me!

“Grandmother Firebird” in Old Legends and New Fables

Posted By on July 13, 2021

My story “Grandmother Firebird” was originally written for an online contest. It’s been long enough ago that I don’t recall what the prompt for the story was, or how I got from point A to point B in terms of writing this story. But I definitely loved this story from the beginning, as it’s one of my stories about families who don’t always get along, but ultimately love each other, in spite of their disagreements. In this case, it’s a multi-generational family–daughter, mother, and grandmother–but it’s very much in keeping with my stories about siblings along similar themes.

I chose to use firebird rather than phoenix in this story, which has caused some confusion. Firebird just seemed like the word that worked better in the story. It’s also tied more closely to Eastern European and Slavic mythology, and I always like to explore the lesser known bits of the world of legends and fables.

“Grandmother Firebird” is available in Old Legends and New Fables, along with many other stories about myths, legends, and fables.

Do You Know Where to Find Me Online?

Posted By on July 12, 2021

If you’ve found my blog, you’ve found the online location where I post most often. But if you’re looking for other places to find me online, check these links out!

Facebook: History That Never Was (rare posts)

Twitter: @historyneverwas (posts about new blog posts, retweets, and occasional random posts)

Patreon: Dawn Vogel (posts about what I’m working on for the public, and with snippets of my works in progress for backers)

Pintrest: Scary White Girl (lots of boards for stories and novels I’m writing or have written, along with gaming characters and aesthetic things)

Instagram: Dawn Vogel (let’s be honest, it’s mostly pictures of my cats)