History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Fun for Friday: Rethinking the Real World

Posted By on December 22, 2017

Surreal sunset viewI’ve had a project keeping me busy at work recently that involves searching through abstracts for papers that were given at a conference over the past 70 years. It’s been fascinating to me as a historian in seeing what trends and themes appeared throughout the years, but it’s also intrigued my writer brain, because I see the titles, or bits of the descriptions, and think of the ways that these papers could have spec fic leanings. (Never mind the fact that this journal had a RUN of Sasquatch articles in the late 1960s.)

I suspect that this is something that a writer could do with any sort of magazine or academic journal. Just pick one up and look through the table of contents to see if anything jumps out at you as a title or a topic for a story or poem you want to write. If nothing jumps out from the table of contents, flip through the pages and see if any phrases jump out at you. You could also jumble up some of the titles, or pair a quote from one article with the title of another. Any way you decide to do it, it’s a great source of REALLY random inspiration that could turn into something brilliant!

Cover Reveal: Scenes from a Quiet Apocalypse

Posted By on December 21, 2017

Cover art for Scenes from a Quiet ApocalypseThe latest book I’ve been working on is a weird, experimental piece using the major arcana of the tarot deck as its outline, so to speak. I wrote the pieces of it during the Write Like You’re Alive challenge in August this year, and then decided that it was worth prodding into the shape of a novella or novelette (the final word count is still up in the air).

While the book itself still needs some more work, I’ve got the cover art ready to go. Though my original ideas had a lot more going on, this was ultimately the shape I felt it needed to take. It’s nice and stark, which is exactly what this book needs. I also love how the silhouetted buildings are so close to each other to make the lower half of the cover almost claustrophobic.

Assuming all goes according to plan, this book will be out in early February 2018, and I’ll be sure to post more about it later!

Bonus kittens!

Posted By on December 20, 2017

Kittens Stormageddon (front) and Fognarok (back)I haven’t been getting much reading done recently, because last Tuesday, we picked up the newest members of our household.

Meet Stormageddon “Stormy” Quatro Vogel-Zimmerman (the black cat in the front) and Fognarok “Foggy” (His Highness, Prince Floof) Dos Vogel-Zimmerman (the gray tabby in the back). Their first names are their formal names, while the ones in quotes are their more commonly used names. Foggy has an extra nickname, that he was given by the person who fostered him. And the Spanish numbers in their names are their original names, referring to their birth order. (They were in a litter of five healthy kitties!) We decided to hyphenate their last name because Jeremy and I don’t share a last name.

And yes, their names are also nerdy references. Stormageddon comes from a character on Doctor Who, and while Fognarok is a name of Jeremy’s creation, he’s partially named after Foggy Nelson from Daredevil. Plus we thought the apocalyptic weather theme was perfect for these guys.

Needless to say, they’ve been quite the distraction, and they have me going to bed later and getting up earlier in order to get in some precious kitten playtime. They’re currently housed in our spare bedroom, as we slowly introduce them to their other feline siblings. So far, there’s only been some sniffing of one another through carrier doors and bedroom doors, though Stormy did try to make a break for freedom last week. He made it as far as the bathroom, and then didn’t know what to do with himself.

We’ll be back to our scheduled programming soon, but I figured a cute excuse was a good reason I don’t have any recommendations this week.

Except kittens. I will always recommend kittens!


Thinking about Steampunk

Posted By on December 19, 2017

Cover for Brass & Glass Book OneAt Anglicon a couple of weekends ago, I took part in a panel on steampunk with Jeffrey Cook and Andy Wolf. One of the things that we discussed during the course of it was on a scale of H. G. Wells to Jules Verne, where does your steampunk fall?

(The abbreviated explanation on that scale is that H. G. Wells did not have much science in his fiction, while Jules Verne did.)

And my answer was easy. I’m on the H. G. Wells end of the scale. I’m pretty sure that most of the innovations I came up with for Brass & Glass would not work, not even a little. My writing in this book (and the eventual sequels) is very much closer to gaslamp fantasy than hard science fiction.

That’s not to say that there’s no scientific basis in any of my steampunk writing. I actually did a good deal of research for The Trouble with the Tick-Tock Tabby regarding late nineteenth-century recording devices, and the one that appears in the book is pretty much legitimate.

But I definitely feel like there’s a place for both. And who knows, maybe some of my steampunk innovations do work, they just haven’t been tested yet!

Gifts for Writers: Planning Books!

Posted By on December 18, 2017

Minimalist planner bookWriters often have a lot of projects to keep track of. And while there are a lot of different ways to keep track of those projects, I’ve recently become a big fan of paper planners. (Though I still keep My Giant Spreadsheet of Doom too.)

With my paper planner, I can keep notes on the things I’ve accomplished. Because I’m a sticker fan, I also decorate my planner book with stickers as a sort of reward/commemoration of my successes. That way, if I’m feeling down, I can look at a week and say, “hey, look at all the things I’ve done this week!”

I really like this Minimalist Day Planner because it gives me even more sticker opportunities. I’ve decorated both the front and back covers with all sorts of cute stickers, and I’ve added some on the interior pages already as well. It’s also set up to work well as a bullet journal, for writers who use that method of organization.

Fun for Friday: December Writing Prompts

Posted By on December 15, 2017

List of December writing prompt ideasI know the month is already halfway over, but I just found this cool list of December writing prompts. Page Flutter calls for these to be six-word stories or poems, but you could also take these words and use them as longer story prompts.

You can start with the one for today (doll maker), or you could double them up, taking the one for today and adding one of the missed ones for an extra challenge (either two stories/poems or combining the two things into the same story/poem). It could be fun to start tomorrow with figgy pudding, and then use the two that are on the same line for the rest of the month! So many ways to use this!

2017 publishing

Posted By on December 14, 2017

Haphazard stacks of booksIt’s the time of the year when authors are making lists of the stories and other items that they published in 2017, which are eligible for awards. Most of my short stories that were published this year were reprints, but I’ve got a few things to mention!

Short Stories:

“Justice is Blind,” published as part of Bards and Sages Publications’ Society of Misfit Stories series (April 2017).

“Far From Home,” published in 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide (Dreaming Robot Press, December 2017).


Cross & Circle (DefCon One Publishing, August 2017).


Brass and Glass: The Cask of Cranglimmering (Book One in the Brass and Glass series) (Razorgirl Press, April 2017).


Co-Editor, Utter Fabrication: Historical Accounts of Unusual Buildings and Structures (DefCon One Publishing, September 2017).


Review of Cry Your Way Home by Damien Angelica Walters

Posted By on December 13, 2017

Cover art for Cry Your Way HomeMy latest review for Mad Scientist Journal is now up. Today, I’m reviewing a short story collection, Cry Your Way Home, by Damien Angelica Walters.

Though I’ve read some of Walters’ stories before in anthologies, the stories in this collection were all new to me. They’re creepy and beautiful at the same time.

Cry Your Way Home isn’t out until January 2, 2018, but you can read my review and pre-order it if it sounds like your kind of book!

2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide now available!

Posted By on December 12, 2017

2018 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide coverThe 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide is now available, including my story, “Far From Home.” This is my second year with a story in this fantastic anthology of short stories for younger readers, and I’m so excited to be sharing the table of contents with a number of other writers who are also returning for this year’s anthology.

This anthology makes a GREAT holiday gift for young people in your life!

Gifts for Writers: Mugs!

Posted By on December 11, 2017

Walking coffee mug from WalkingPotteryMany writers are fueled by caffeine. I’m not one of them, but I still appreciate a good coffee mug for my tea. Or milk (with cookies). Or, sometimes, a mixed drink.

If you’ve got a fueled-by-caffeine-or-other-beverages writer in your life, a mug can be a great gift. Especially one as cute as this one from WalkingPottery on Etsy. The full text reads “Please do not annoy this writer, She may put you in a book and kill you…..”

And it might be true! (In the book, at least.)