History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Fun for Friday: Grammatically Correct Sentences That Sound Wrong

Posted By on October 5, 2018

Buffalo sentence diagrammedEnglish is weird, difficult for non-native speakers to master, and confusing even to native speakers.

Case in point, check out the diagrammed sentence to the right. I can’t exactly explain what it means, but it’s apparently grammatically correct. So are these other sentences.

While they may be grammatically correct, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to use them. If you’re lucky, they just make you seem clever. But so many of them use technicalities of grammar to deliberately obfuscate the point they want to get across, which is really not something that a fiction writer (or, really, any sensible writer) wants to do.

Checking out my Patreon!

Posted By on October 4, 2018

Link to my PatreonHave you checked out my Patreon lately?  It’s a way for my fans to throw a small amount of money my way to support my writing!

I’m getting close to my first goal, which involves a monthly video of me reading one of my stories or an excerpt from a longer piece! So if I get enough patrons, you’ll get to see my face reading my words. I’d love to have the chance to do more readings, and while I could do them anyway, I’d like them to be a special treat!

And while I can make no promises about the helpfulness of now large cats who are 11 months old, but still very much my kittens, Stormy and Foggy MIGHT decide that they need to help me read, because clearly I’m just awful at being a cat, and they like to help. At the very least, they may be convinced to put in a small appearance on a video. (But being cats, they may also decide that cameras are scary and why does Mama want us on the internet, even if the internet is for cats?)

Movie Recommendations for Halloween

Posted By on October 3, 2018

VampireOne of the things that’s often fun to do in the days leading up to Halloween is watching appropriately “spooky” movies. Not everyone enjoys the same level of horror or scares, so “spooky” can be a wide range of things.

When I was in grad school, some of my friends and I embarked on a journey to watch ALL of the vampire movies that the local video store had in stock. We didn’t make it very far, unfortunately. After encountering a movie called Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh, which had NOTHING to do with vampires, we abandoned our noble pursuit. Or we moved on to other things. One of those.

One stand-out vampire movie that we watched, though, was The Addiction, which stars Lili Taylor (one of my favorite underrated actors) and Christopher Walken. It’s shot in black and white, and it’s very art house film with LOADS of philosophical debate packed in, but I still love it.

And, you know, if you’d rather subject yourself to a cheesy somewhat slapstick comedy about LITERAL pharaohs in Pittsburgh with a shop vac … you’re welcome.


September 2018 Recap

Posted By on October 2, 2018

I take my Halloween decorations very seriously. This skull had to come home with me.

By the numbers:

Stories out at the beginning of the month: 32
Acceptances received: 1
Rejections received: 18
Stories withdrawn: 0
Resubmissions: 16
New Submissions: 4
Stories out at the end of the month: 31

While it doesn’t seem like I’ve had a whole lot of submissions this month, part of that is that I’ve got a lot of stories out at markets that don’t have quick turnarounds. And I haven’t had this many new submissions since June!

My acceptance was that a very small flash piece I wrote, “Despite All My Rage,” will appear in A Punk Rock Future. I’m looking forward to seeing this one in print, so I can give a copy to Torrey, who basically made this story work.

So yeah, four new stories this month. Two are flash, one is not much over flash length, and the other is a regular short story. One of the flash stories was from the longer contest that I’m participating in. It came in 5th place in its heat, so I made some small tweaks based on the feedback I’d received and sent it out to find a home. I also finished another flash story for another contest. The “not much over flash length” story I wrote was “cryo,” which I salvaged out of my abandoned stories folder. The other story was “star,” which went in a direction I did not expect, but I loved the end result.

I also submitted the first draft of another flash story to the long contest, with feedback to come in early November. Early feedback has been positive, but almost entirely wanting more to the story. And I don’t disagree. I managed to craft a really interesting setting in less than 1,000 words, and I want to play in it more!

The planned mashup stories have been shelved for the time being, since I was feeling really overwhelmed and needed to get something off my plate. Collaborative stories are really neat, but they’re hard to do, too.

I also finished my revisions on Brass and Glass 3, and I wrote about 3 1/2 chapters of WastelandBrass and Glass 3 went to one beta reader (who turned around comments in a day–I’m SUPER spoiled) and my editors. Wasteland is proceeding at about the pace I anticipated, and I don’t hate it yet, so that’s a plus!

In October, I’m doing a lot of travelling. I’ve also got a VERY ambitious amount of work planned:

  • I’m doing Drawlloween as a flash/poem a day challenge.
  • I plan to finish the first draft of Wasteland.
  • I’ve got one short story (“wind”) started, and plan to finish the first draft of that and write the first draft of a second short story (“trains”).
  • Around mid-month, I’m planning to participate in a short fiction contest that runs through to the beginning of December, but should yield another complete short story (TBD) when all is said and done.
  • With all of my flights, I’m planning to read at least three books to review. Maybe four.


Thinking Through Story Problems

Posted By on October 1, 2018

PuzzleOne of my co-workers brought in a puzzle.

This has, of course, escalated, and now we have a STACK of puzzles in the office. I think we’re even doing a swap with one of our other locations, where we each send the other office the puzzles we’ve already done, so we both get lots of variety. I know there was a thrift store run in there too, somewhere, though I don’t know who was responsible for it.

Most folks use a portion of their lunch break to work on the puzzles, but every once in a while, when someone needs a mental break, either to step away from their project for a bit or to change gears before tackling another project, we find them working on the puzzle.

This can work when you need a mental break for a story problem too. If you find yourself getting stuck, try finding another activity that still engages your brain, but that isn’t writing. It could be a puzzle, but it could also be crosswords, sudoku, or even word-related games. Anything that doesn’t involve plotting or composing is likely the best bet.

The process of engaging a different portion of your brain than you were using will sometimes let you shake loose the things that were keeping you from the solution to your story problem!

Fun for Friday: Drawlloween as Writing Prompts

Posted By on September 28, 2018

Mab's Drawlloween 2018Normally, today’s the day when I would post my list of prompts for the month of October. But October is Drawlloween, which is a great month of prompts for artists to draw a spooky thing every day of the month. And I like to use Drawlloween prompts as writing prompts, because I love spooky things!

This list comes from Mab Graves on Instagram, and she’s got a hashtag to go with it (#mabsdrawlloweenclub). I’m going to attempt to write something, either poetry or flash, for each of these things on the appropriate days (or maybe cross stitch or crochet, if the words don’t want to match the prompt). If you want to join me, whether you want to write or draw, check out the hashtag and have a spooky October!

Text version of the list:

  1. Witch
  2. Black Cat
  3. Cryptid
  4. Mushroom
  5. Laboratory
  6. Ghost
  7. Haunted Object
  8. Yokai
  9. Spider Baby
  10. Lagoon (Creature)
  11. Bat
  12. Vampire
  13. Grave/Coffin
  14. Skeleton
  15. Owl
  16. Goblin
  17. Werewolf
  18. Rats
  19. Seance
  20. Serpent
  21. Alien
  22. Pumpkin
  23. Monster (freestyle)
  24. Hunter’s Moon
  25. Dark Forest
  26. Toad
  27. Swamp Thing
  28. Raven
  29. Mary Shelley
  30. Bride
  31. Frankenstein


Brass & Glass 3!

Posted By on September 27, 2018

Last week, I sent off the manuscript for Brass and Glass 3 to my editors at Razorgirl Press. There will still be a lot of work to do before it’s published, but for a little while, it’s out of my hands and in the hands of those who are ultimately its first readers!

Getting this off my plate is equal parts an enormous relief and a bittersweet thing, because book 3 is the last book of this series. There’s still a very strong possibility that I’ll write other things set in this world, possibly even with these characters, but in a lot of ways, their big story is ending.

I’ll post more about the book as we move forward with revisions and publication. But for now, join me in raising a glass of the beverage of your choice to say farewell (for now) to the crew of The Silent Monsoon and their myriad friends, allies, and even some of their frenemies. (If you would like to be thematically appropriate, the recommended beverage is a long-aged, smoky whiskey.)

Now on Kickstarter: Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide Volume 5

Posted By on September 26, 2018

Cover art for Young Explorer's Adventure GuideThe fine folks at Dreaming Robot Press are currently running a Kickstarter for the fifth volume of the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide. I’ve had stories in the last two, and I will also have a story, “The Magnificent Matter of the Mischievous Monkey,” included in volume 5!

My story is a steampunk detective story featuring the Marsh sisters, this time trying to find a clockwork monkey created by their Grandfather that has escaped the mechanical garden and is wreaking havoc on the streets of Dover. They’re accompanied by a lady architect who had been consulting with the elder Marshes when her valise was snatched by the mechanical monkey.

I’m excited to introduce more readers to the clever little Marsh sisters, and I know from reading past volumes that the other authors included will also have great stories for middle grade readers on up through adults! So check out the Kickstarter before it ends on October 24th!

Puyallup Festival of Books

Posted By on September 25, 2018

Cover art for Brass & Glass 2My next event will be the Puyallup Festival of Books on Saturday, October 6th, at the Puyallup Public Library, which is an event featuring a whole bunch of local authors and small presses selling their books!

I’ll be there as part of DefCon One, but I’ll also have my Brass and Glass books with me at the event, along with Mad Scientist Journal, our anthologies, and a whole bunch of Cobalt City books.

We MIGHT have the first print run of The Trouble with the Tick-Tock Tabby too, but I can’t guarantee that will be ready in time. I’ll keep you posted on that, though!

Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone

Posted By on September 24, 2018

Cross-legged writing on a laptopI write a lot of fantasy stories, a lot of stories about siblings, and a lot of stories about things that live in the water and want to kill you. That’s my comfort zone.

With the various flash fiction contests I’ve been participating in, I’ve found myself writing WAY outside of my comfort zone. I’ve written genres that I don’t normally read or write. And I’ve managed to pull together decent stories in those genres.

While doing so, I’ve managed to stretch muscles that I didn’t even know I had. Sure, I don’t normally write or read mystery, but I understand the basic concept of the genre, and writing a mystery story (especially a mystery FLASH story) proved to be a great exercise for distilling down a mystery to the most essential elements, which can then inform my writing when a mystery element is needed. The flash story serves as the sketchiest of outlines for any future mystery story I might want to write, even if that story is ostensibly also fantasy or something else.

If you need to break out of a writing rut, try stretching the muscles that you don’t normally use and see what it can help you with in what you normally do write!