History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Fun for Friday: A New Sci-Fi Photo Prompt

Posted By on September 21, 2018

Smaller than a palm-sized droneI found this photo when looking for a photo prompt for today, and it’s astonishing. I think it may be mocked up, because I thought drones were much bigger than this.

Still, it makes for a good sci-fi writing prompt. What kinds of mischief could tiny little drones like this, if they became self-aware, get up to? Or for what purposes might they be used when they’re so compact? Or, if there are already drones of this size, they could be part of an urban fantasy story!

Reading Unfixed Timelines

Posted By on September 20, 2018

Cover art for Unfixed TimelinesHave you been reading along with Unfixed Timelines on Channillo? Or have you read the ebook version? I’m curious to learn how different people are reading this book, and also whether they prefer one version over the other.

The ebook version presents the essays before each story, while I reversed that order for Channillo, to see if people preferred fiction before their non-fiction. And if it turns out that people prefer the latter, I may change up the order in the ebook. (Self-publishing makes that super easy to do!)

If you’ve got thoughts on the matter, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

(And if you haven’t read Unfixed Timelines yet, what’s keeping you? Here it is at Channillo and at Amazon!)

Book Recommendations: Cobalt City

Posted By on September 19, 2018

Cover art for Eye for an EyeSometimes, I only wind up reading books because I’m editing them, and that’s the case with the books I’m talking about today. I’ve recently edited three books for DefCon One Publishing in the Cobalt City Universe, which I also write in. All of these books are re-releases, but I did a little bit of polishing for consistency across this shared universe.

Nathan Crowder is the originator of Cobalt City and author of two of the books I worked on: Ride Like the Devil and Ties That BindRide Like the Devil involves Gato Loco and Snowflake, the former detective and his sidekick, along with high stakes motorcycle races, mysterious happenings, and foul-mouthed evolved pandas. Ties that Bind has a darker tone, as Bantam and Velvet, a new heroic addition to the city with a former member of the Protectorate, team up to take down a human trafficking ring.

The other book I worked on is Eye for an Eye by Erik Scott de Bie. This book won’t launch until early October, but you should definitely check it out. In this book, Cobalt City’s best-known super hero, Stardust, deals with the arrival of Lady Vengeance, a powered woman who treads a fine line between hero and villain. Her presence, along with the menace that follows her, threatens to upend Stardust’s entire life.

If you’re looking for some fun super heroics, check out these three books, all of which are available through DefCon One, along with many other Cobalt City titles!

“Justice is Blind” available in The Society of Misfit Stories Presents … Vol. 2

Posted By on September 18, 2018

Cover art for The Society of Misfit Stories Presents ... Vol 2The second volume of The Society of Misfit Stories Presents … is now out, and it includes my story, “Justice is Blind.” Bards and Sages Publishing originally published it as a stand-alone ebook, but now has compiled it with 34 other stories for an ebook and print book. The Society of Misfit Stories is specifically for longer stories that might not find a home elsewhere due to length (mine is just over 5,000 words), so this is going to be a hefty book of stories!

“Justice is Blind” is a modern dark fantasy story set in Seattle about a detective, a psychic, and a doctor, and how their lives are intertwined. It can also be found in my collection, Volatile Figments, but if you’re looking for more stories by other authors, The Society of Misfit Stories Presents … Volume 2  is a great place to find it!


Just Write

Posted By on September 17, 2018

Handwritten text in a notebookI’ve spent the weekend working on a flash fiction story for a contest. The contest gives an assigned genre, location, and object, and when I read the ones I had been assigned, I groaned. It was a genre that I don’t write, read, or really enjoy. And that was a problem for me trying to plot my story.

But there’s no part of the contest that says you can’t add in another genre, so I figured out a way to write a genre that I’m more comfortable with with elements of the assigned genre. And then I just wrote.

Most of the time, I need a solid outline before I start. For this story, I was able to just start writing what I wanted and work my way around to the plot. It may be a bit of a “slow” start for the genre, but it starts with plenty of excitement and peril, so that will hopefully keep people reading.

We’ll see how it does in the contest and critiques, ultimately, but for this story, “pantsing” rather than “plotting” felt right.

Fun for Friday: Panlexicon

Posted By on September 14, 2018

Random wordsSometimes, you need just the right word to make your story sing. Some might turn to a thesaurus, but thesauruses don’t always help you find the best word for what you want to convey, and sometimes they can actually lead you down the wrong path.

A useful tool that I had pointed out to me recently is the Panlexicon. It works similarly to a thesaurus, in that you give it a word and it gives you synonyms. But it also visually shows you which words are the more commonly used and/or closer to what you might be trying to say.

It may not be as comprehensive as a thesaurus (it had no entries for a couple of words I tried to check), but it can give you a different way to approach the words in your stories or titles!

“The Cobbler’s Daughter” at MYTHIC Magazine!

Posted By on September 13, 2018

Mojari shoesMy story, “The Cobbler’s Daughter,” is out in MYTHIC Magazine #7!

This is a sweet fantasy story about a young woman who takes up her family trade of making beautiful mojari (like the pictured shoes), learns a secret about her parentage, and works to create shoes fit for a princess. It’s got a bit of a fairy tale feel to it, a sort of take on a Cinderella-like story, but going in a different direction. It was highly inspired by pictures of Indian shoes and clothing, and you can check out the Pinterest page I made for it here!

You can find MYTHIC Magazine #7 via their website or through Amazon, and read my story and 10 other stories!

Round Ups of Short Stories

Posted By on September 12, 2018

Once upon a time The EndThere are a ton of new short stories published every month, and it’s hard to know where to start reading. Luckily, Maria Haskins does a monthly round-up of science fiction and fantasy short stories for Barnes & Noble, so you can find some that she’s enjoyed here!

You can also check out Quick Sip Reviews by Charles Payseur, which covers even more short speculative fiction!

And, of course, if you like reading my stuff, I post about it here whenever I’ve got a new short story out!

Work in Progress: Wasteland

Posted By on September 11, 2018

Cover art for WastelandA few years back, I had a short story that I was working on that was a post-apocalyptic story of a place where things wouldn’t grow, suddenly encountering a thing that had grown. I poked at it for a while, but it wanted to be something more. So I outlined it for a novel.

I tried to write it during a NaNoWriMo, but the words just wouldn’t come out. So I shoved it onto the back burner for a good long while. I’ve recently picked it back up, and I think the novel has some really good bones, and that it might turn into a decent book. Because I’m also working on getting Brass and Glass 3 to my editors, Wasteland hasn’t been my top priority, but I’m hoping to finish up a first draft by the end of October.

I’m still trying to decide how I want to go about publishing this book. It has a non-traditional protagonist (a woman in her 50s) but also some really contemporary commentary. So even though I have my super fancy handmade cover, I think I may try to pursue traditional publishing routes at first, then look at some small press options, and then possibly self-publish.

Degrees of Ideas

Posted By on September 10, 2018

A blank pageHow do you figure out whether your idea is a short story, a novel, or maybe neither?

Sometimes, it’s really easy to figure out. Some ideas have a scope that you know from the get-go that it’s going to be something as long as a novel, or maybe even a series. But sometimes, you have an idea that you think can be self-contained as a short story, and then it spirals into something bigger. Or you finish the short story that you wanted to tell, and everyone who reads it think that it’s meant to be something bigger.

While it’s not always easy to distinguish between the ideas that will become a short story from those that will become a novel or series at first, this is one of the places where I find outlining can be a huge help. If I start plotting out a story and realize that it’s got more than half a dozen scenes, it’s probably not actually a short story. Likewise, if I’m trying to plot out a novel idea and can’t get past about chapter 5, that’s a sign that there’s not enough to my idea to sustain it as a novel.

But sometimes, you get ideas that slip through the cracks that look like they’re going to turn into something, but when you put them onto paper, they fall apart. I’ve got a few stories that I’ve tried to write several ways that never seem to work out. I still like the core idea, but maybe that idea isn’t a short story or a novel. But it could still be some part of a short story or novel, down the road, so I file it back away, and hope I’ll get a chance to come back to it later!