History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Working within Limitations

Posted By on June 3, 2019

Cross-legged writing on a laptopAs I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that I have physical, mental, and emotional limitations that either weren’t there when I was younger, that I had the energy to work around, or the sheer bullheadedness to push through. However it worked then, it doesn’t work the same now, and I’ve had to learn to acknowledge my limitations and find new ways to work around them.

Different illnesses and/or disabilities (physical, mental, and otherwise) can impact writers in different ways, and it can be difficult to feel like you’re falling behind while others are soaring forward. But for me, pushing through and forcing myself to do EVERYTHING winds up leaving me exhausted and broken by the end of it. So I have to pace myself more carefully and look at the larger picture, not just at what’s on my plate right this minute.

Sometimes that means rearranging my writing schedule to give myself more time to finish something that seemed like it could be done more quickly. And sometimes it means cancelling plans in order to give myself the time I need to finish another thing. Sometimes that even includes cancelling plans early in a weekend so that I can (hopefully) maintain enough energy to get through to something we’ve got planned for later. It’s a careful balancing act, and it doesn’t always work out as planned, but it’s important for me to see those limitations, anticipate how they are likely to impact me, and plan accordingly.

If you’ve got similar limitations (or different limitations that affect you in similar ways), it’s important to remind yourself of this sometimes. In many ways, this writing gig is a marathon, not a sprint, and sometimes looking at it in the long term and figuring out how that will work for you is key to moving forward!


Fun for Friday: June 2019 Writing Prompts

Posted By on May 31, 2019

June 2019 Writing Prompts
May flew by just about as quickly as April did, but instead of May flowers, we’ve got June 2019 writing prompts. This month’s prompts are randomly generated, which should lead to some fun and interesting ideas!

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!

Text version of the prompts:

  1. Silent
  2. Jellyfish
  3. Slip
  4. Potato
  5. Rainy
  6. Spiteful
  7. Houses
  8. Gaze
  9. Tasty
  10. Whisper
  11. Observe
  12. Spark
  13. Fire
  14. Cough
  15. Weight
  16. Vanish
  17. Feather
  18. Educated
  19. Hug
  20. Gate
  21. Music
  22. Anger
  23. Bumpy
  24. Install
  25. Cluttered
  26. Discovery
  27. Closed
  28. Reading
  29. Mean
  30. Partner


Recent Stories

Posted By on May 30, 2019

Cover art for Bargains anthologyTwo of my stories have come out recently!

I Believe,” which is a flash piece about imaginary friends, is out now at The Future Fire. It’s very short and very sweet, and won’t take you long at all to read!

I’ve mentioned the Bargains anthology from Pine Float Press before, but it’s now available at Lulu, and contains my story, “All That Transpires Under the Night Sky.” This story is a dark historical fantasy story with magic and demons. The characters are very much inspired by Croup and Vandemar from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, but my versions are much nicer people! This is also an example of me finding an older story on my hard drive and realizing it had good bones that could be molded into something neat! I’m very glad I unearthed this story!

TV Show Recommendation: Lucifer

Posted By on May 29, 2019

Tom EllisI’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan, and I wasn’t sure what to think when they first announced the Lucifer TV show. Would it be half as wonderful as Lucifer is in the comics?

The answer is yes, but …

If you’re hoping for a faithful recreation of the comics, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. But if you’re willing to be charmed by a charismatic Lucifer and a cast with so much chemistry it burns, you’ll likely love Lucifer.

We’re only about halfway through the current season (which Netflix picked up after Fox dropped it), but we’re still loving it. I’m waiting to see if they pick up some threads that they seem to have started and then discarded in this season, but even if they don’t, the utter charm of the weird family of Linda, Amenadiel, and Maze is so good that it’s worth watching just for that subplot!

Volatile Figments: Darkness, Light, and Muses?

Posted By on May 28, 2019

Candle reflected in a mirrorOne of the stories in Volatile Figments, “Terpsichore,” started out when I realized how creepy a dance studio looks when it’s dark and there’s only a small source of light reflecting off the mirrors. From there, it spun into a ritual performed in a dance studio, and the creepy aftermath.

At only 928 words, “Terpsichore” is a tiny story, but it packs a lot of punch into those words. I’d say it’s one of the creepier stories I’ve written, honestly. There’s enough of a supernatural element to the story that it doesn’t seem realistic, but it might be the sort to make you want to keep bright lights shining on mirrors to make sure there aren’t otherworldly things lurking in the darkness.

If you’d prefer to listen to “Terpsichore,” you can do that at the Manawaker Studios podcast.


Shade and Light in Worldbuilding

Posted By on May 27, 2019

Makeshift shelter constructed of wood and leaves on a sunny beachWhen you’re world building, how much thought do you give to places that have shade and places that are brightly lit? And how do your characters react to the same?

In this article, which talks about the lack of shade in Los Angeles, and how it is a marker of economic disparity, there are all kinds of elements that a writer can pick out for world building purposes. What kind of trees grow in your world? How common are they? Do they provide shade, or are they tall spindly things like palm trees? Are there parts of the world where the trees are allowed to grow, and parts where they’ve been cut down? If there aren’t any trees, where do people find shade?

All of these things can contribute to the culture of your world–maybe there are no trees, so the culture has evolved to spending daytime hours indoors, and evening hours outdoors. Alternately, maybe people have constructed sun blocks instead. But are those sun blocks equally distributed or confined to one part of a town?

Thinking about things like shade and light might open up an entire avenue of your world that you haven’t thought about before. When you picture your world, think about where the shady spots are, as well as the bright spots, and figure out what that means on a broader scale!

Happy world building!

Fun for Friday: Another Three Images

Posted By on May 24, 2019

It’s time for another batch of images to potentially inspire a story or some other piece of writing! This week, we’ve got:

A microscopic view of a multi-colored object with three roughly equal segments topped with a much smaller segment.

A dark haired woman in profile, wearing heavy black eye makeup and black lipstick, smirking slightly.

A pieced stone archway that frames a futuristic looking city against a mountainous backdrop, with a bright beam of light culminating in a sphere of light at ground level, in the center of the archway.

Scenes from a Quiet Apocalypse “Pinspiration”

Posted By on May 23, 2019

Cover art for Scenes from a Quiet ApocalypseWhen I write many of my longer pieces, and even some of my short stories, I make a Pinterest board where I collect images that connect to the themes, characters, or other aspects of my writing. For Scenes from a Quiet Apocalypse, which drew on the major arcana of the tarot deck for inspiration, my Pinterest board is largely a collection of different interpretations of the major arcana.

As I wrote each of the chapters, I went back to the Pinterest board to look at what versions of the associated card I’d collected there, and drew upon those cards for imagery in the scenes. It’s more evident in some chapters than others, and certain cards spoke to me more clearly than others. But they’re all there, in one way or another.

In case you’re curious about some of the inspirations for the characters and visuals of Scenes from a Quiet Apocalypse, here’s the Pinterest board in question.

Show Recommendation: Cowboy Bebop

Posted By on May 22, 2019

Characters from Cowboy Bebop with all their faces squeezed into the frameI know I’m WAY behind the curve on this one, but with the Cowboy Bebop live action show in the works, I’m trying to get through the entirety of the anime series (and movie) in advance!

It’s alternate parts ridiculous and weird, and I’m a little surprised that no one has been able to make me sit down and watch it before now. Radical Edward has been my favorite character since long before I actually watched the show, just from hearing descriptions and the name. Now that I’ve finally seen it, I am even more in love with Ed. After watching a recent episode in which Ed said, “Baka! Baka! Baka!”, I’ve been repeating that in the exact same intonation, and it makes me giggle.

So yeah, sometimes you just need a popcorn show, and for me, Cowboy Bebop is exactly that. I’m certain there’s a deep storyline in there too, which I’m completely missing. But I’m watching it for the sheer joy of Ed, Ein, and Yoko Kanno’s amazing music.

Inspirations for Cross and Circle

Posted By on May 21, 2019

Cover art for Cross and CircleCross and Circle grew out of a strange note I found about a circle and cross inscribed on the roof of a car. It rustled around in my ideas folder for quite a while until I made the connection between this symbol and pecked crosses. Once I dug further into pecked crosses and realized that symbol had been found across cultures and across geography, the first inklings of a plot started coming together.

Even with all of these connections, it still took me a while to get this novella pulled together. There were some false starts and rabbit holes, but eventually, I got the plot narrowed down to the story I wanted to tell, which is ultimately about why the “chosen one” isn’t always the right choice.

If this sounds like your jam, you can buy Cross and Circle in ebook or read it with a subscription on Channillo.