Sunday, January 1, 2017

Research Record - Jan 1, 2017

Because I haven't written one in a while!

Just going to record a couple of seemingly unlikely destinations my research has taken me. I'm not suggesting you'll find this entertaining... More likely, 'hmm. That's interesting' at best.

Story in Progress:


Wikipedia pages of note:

Because I'm depressingly ignorant on the subject yet my story requires some knowledge.

This monster inspired the Orcanes of Turesia.

Pangur Ban
The movie Secret of Kells made me curious.

I wish there was a cooler name for pill bugs / rollypollies than pill bugs / rollypollies. The great beast is a variation of the sphaerotheriida.

The latest Jungle Book movie made me curious. (They're real! Just not house-sized, as depicted in the film.)

Google searches of note:

How did brachiosaurus support its own weight?
Under Earth's current atmospheric / gravitational conditions, it couldn't have.

Chicxulub crater
The above search opened a can of worms (as these things do).
Chicxulub crater was formed 66 millions years ago by an asteroid or comet some six miles wide. It's believed to be ground zero for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event (wherein 75% of life on Earth became extinct, including dinosaurs.)

I love this word. I want to use it as a character's name and entire backstory.

Boat etymology
I was naming a town.

Sacrifice etymology
Still naming a town.

Define bleachers
Not a lot of words for this, ya know? Especially of the historic variety.

Do tigers climb trees?
Yes. They swim, too.

Pig iron
Not actually made of pigs.

To make a sword from the blood of your enemies
Spoiler: by the time you have enough blood of your enemies to make a sword, you probably won't have many enemies left to swing your new sword at.

I'm kind of infatuated with the concept of entropy. If you buy into heat death as a feasible ultimate fate of the universe, you'll know a) there's not a greater threat to existence than entropy and b) its incline is inevitable. A mancer whose field is entropy is, in a word, cynical.

Define Cortege
Among other things, this is an amazing song by Apocalyptica. I want to name a character this as well, based on that song.

This is how crickets make music. Some people say you can determine barometric specifics and thereby predict weather based on the pitch of crickets' stridulation. What people, you ask? Consonant monks of Ausgan.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A new found respect for slow-ass authors.

Patrick Rothfuss
Fantasy Author
George RR Martin
Fantasy Author
David T List
Food Eater

I get emailed weekly from Goodreads updating me on new blog posts. I've considered sharing my thoughts on this before but hadn't. I guess today the planets are aligned. 

George RR Martin VS Brandon Sanderson!

Maybe you think you know where I'm going with this. Hear me out anyway because I might surprise you.

2011 was the year George published A Dance with Dragons, the latest novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Since then George has written a couple of novellas. The last thing he published is a collection of three previously published novellas in 2015.

When A Dance with Dragons was published, Sanderson had just released The Way of Kings, first of the Stormlight Archive. Since then he wrote and released the second entry in the series, Words of Radiance, in 2014. He recently finished book three and expects it to release in 2017. Aside from that he's written some 5-6 other novels and novellas.

Oh, I see. "HEADLINE: The author who writes SIX blog entries a week turns out no new content but the one who writes only TWO is super efficient."

No, that's not where I'm going with it. Although perhaps there's truth to be found in there...

You're about to bitch about George RR Martin's writing speed and how he blogs more than he writes.

I'm not. There was a point when I would have. When I see the above illustration, my gut response used to be - George, stop talking about everything except what people want to hear! Stop blogging so much and write the next novel. Look at Sanderson. Get his work ethic!

But the hard truth is, everything else aside,

I prefer to read George RR Martin over Brandon Sanderson. 

Sanderson has proclaimed himself a one-drafter, meaning his outline is so solid, he has such a great idea of where he's going with the story, that he can write it out, all 400k words, with no deviation to the plot.

Oh wow that's amazing! I can hardly get two characters to stop bickering long enough to fulfill their sex scene.

I know, right?
Except... his prose. Sanderson has also claimed to have "functional prose." This means he doesn't embellish the text or make it overly poetic but (and I am simplifying) he uses words as they are intended.

Unfortunately, for this reason, I find his books dull, no matter how efficiently he can churn them out. I am envious of his work ethic and happy for his success, considering how hard a worker he is. I'm glad there are people who love his work and I'm grateful he posts his creative writing lessons online for free (I've mentioned them before.)
But I need an unexpected turn of phrase that slaps my face. Witty prose that draws me elsewhere. Abrupt text that surprises me so much my inner critic is halted, if only for a moment.

As writers we each have our own goals and desires. I shouldn't compare Sanderson and Martin, but it happens. I shouldn't compare myself to other authors, as I so often do when I think about how long I've been working on Turesia. There is no timeline here. My first favorite author, the one who inspired me to create, was a slow-ass author. I mean, he had a good excuse, writing through the Great War and all that, but still.

I want my characters and world to outlive me. A good writer can hook you into reading about something you otherwise wouldn't, through magical manipulation of words. What's important to me is turning people onto the fantasy genre--and helping unlock the potential of those who already love fantasy--while building Silexare into a breathing, pulsing world.
If that takes me another draft or two, another year or two, then so be it.

Friday, November 4, 2016


I really tried not to go political, I swear! There's no "advice" on whom to vote for here. Only advice on how to decide.

This is to everyone who is registered to vote but not sure if they will and/or undecided on who to vote for. Trust me, I was right beside ya. Here are two resources that helped me out. Both claim to be, and appear to be, unbiased. 

Survey Monkey - Who's winning the election?
This is a map of the USA, with demographics on where votes and anticipated votes are coming from, updated every day. On the left you can 'Select Map' to see how different groups are voting. Will this help you decide? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's interesting to compare certain groups. Huge disparities exist between the following -

White, No College vs White, Some College
Men vs Women
Married Women vs Unmarried Women

2016 Election Quiz
This is a no-drama, policy-centric look at where the candidates stand. You can go through answering questions and see what your favored candidate (or rival) stands for, or you can answer the questions for yourself and let it tell you which candidate you most closely align with (click "surprise me" to make sure you're answering without being swayed by the sliders on the right).

That's all I got! Vote for whomever, for whatever reason! Or don't! That's your right!


PS. If you know of other unbiased resources that might help people decide, let me know in the comments and I will edit this post!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Research Record 9/16/16-10/10/16

Hi records.

Story in Progress - Turesia, Book 1

Googled -
Translate Volks
Horseshoe Crab - Their shells would make great armor for boots or pauldrons
Limpet images - Their shells would make great armor for scale mail
Warhound - This term is too closely tied to something else for me to use

Wikipedia'd -
Entropy (Arrow of Time) 
Ultimate fate of the universe
Fossil Trackway

Books Referenced -

(these are the same as last time and probably will be as long as I'm writing within Ausgan.)

"Plants in Hawaiian Culture" Beatrice Krauss
"Garden Ethnobotanical Guide to Native Hawaiian Plants" Amy Greenwell
"Hawai'i's Birds and their Habitats" H. Douglas Pratt
"Reef Fish Hawai'i" John P. Hoover

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Research Record 9/9/16 - 9/15/16

Hello, records. Here's what my writing led me to research lately.

Story in progress - Turesia, Book 1

Googled -

Define Rhythm - Was really searching for synonyms, to describe the dance of lehua setuars.
"Pyromollusk" - Awesome! It's not a thing yet! But maybe I shouldn't post it here...
Rain forest mammals - Specifically looking for the kind you can throw spears at.
Giant river otter
Define Resignations
Acacia Resin
Cast lots - Drawing straws is what I was going for. Casting lots is more about divination / cleromancy. Not sure how I confused the two.

Wikipedia'd -

Peccary - Rain forest mammals brought me here.
Gum arabic - Searching Acacia Resin brought me here. Not what I was looking for.

Books Referenced -

(these are the same as last time and probably will be as long as I'm writing within Ausgan.)

"Plants in Hawaiian Culture" Beatrice Krauss
"Garden Ethnobotanical Guide to Native Hawaiian Plants" Amy Greenwell
"Hawai'i's Birds and their Habitats" H. Douglas Pratt
"Reef Fish Hawai'i" John P. Hoover

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Research Record 9/2/16 - 9/8/16

I remember reading a Michael Crichton novel when I was younger and thinking, "These details seem really specific and accurate. How the hell does he know all this stuff?"

Later in life I learned that authors who want any sort of authenticity in their writing have to do a shit-ton of research. Later still, I experienced it myself.

the dream team
When I wrote A Sawmill's Hope, it was largely about subjects with which I'm familiar, hiking, rivers, ruins, camping, etc. The monsters I wrote were based on years of unintentional research, then some intentional research. For the alchemy in the book, mostly contained to the chapters involving Seltys, I stopped writing for months, while I journeyed to the corners of the internet to study alchemy (see this particularly useful hub).

**Actually, I just remembered a disturbing path my research took during ASH. Darke needed to know the best way to kill prey with a projectile weapon. My most useful resource was here- Mechanics of Terminal Ballistics. I'm pretty sure all the research I did on this subject boiled down to two lines of text on the second page of the book.**

So, here and now.

I want a way to keep up with what I research, and when I researched it, and why. Maybe it'll be interesting to more than just me. If it catches on, I'm going to make semi-regular posts, maybe weekly. I'm filtering out all researched topics that aren't writing related. If I'm able to make this regular, I'll probably come up with a better format. Til then -

Research Record 9/2/16 - 9/8/16

Googled - 

"Bin Laden Quotes" - Because I'm writing a character who zealously believes in mass murder as an acceptable course of action.
"Define Eulogy"
"Squid with a Shell"
"Giant endoceras"
"Drop bears" - This is a hilarious concept. Check it out.
"Define Litany"
"Ancient Hawaii"

Wikipedia'd - 

Cameroceraus - "Squid with a shell", and "Giant endoceras" led me here.
Moonshine - The tribes of Ausgan (a nation in Turesia) make their own whiskey.

Books Referenced -

"Plants in Hawaiian Culture" Beatrice Krauss
"Garden Ethnobotanical Guide to Native Hawaiian Plants" Amy Greenwell
"Hawai'i's Birds and their Habitats" H. Douglas Pratt
"Reef Fish Hawai'i" John P. Hoover

I'd be interested to know your research habits, be it for writing or not! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What do you want?

I'll die eventually. But until then I maintain a firm list of things I want to own or to accomplish. As it stands, my list includes (but is not limited to) -

Get this!
- A waterproof backpack
- A better coffee maker
- Bow and Arrows
- A boat
- Weed eater
- 4-wheeler
- Acoustic bass guitar
- Laser surgery for eyes
- Rock grinding kit
- twould be cool to be able to fly
- A cruising catamaran and the ability to drive it
- Self-employment by 2020
- Evie's memorial to $10k

I also have a list for my future home -

- Triple sink in kitchen
- Enough land for a mead hall
- Stone pizza oven
- Pool
- Clawfoot tub in master bath
- Soundproof music studio (with every kind of instrument)
- Mancave with fixtures to hang hammocks everywhere
- Voice command lights
- Speakers in the walls

(I'm just giving you an overview here. No reason for you to know I want hooks installed in every room's ceiling to hang a sex swing. That's just not your business)

I also have a list for "things to do," "games to play," "books to read," and "soundtracks to collect."

I think you should make some lists, too. I think your list should include everything you want. Everything you've ever wanted. Everything you could ever dream you might want. Whether it's material or immaterial, list it. This list should be free of all realistic limitations. Don't say, "Well I want this, but..." No! Just put it on there. Accept your desires, don't deny them!

When I talk about this idea, some people's initial reaction suggests I'm being selfish. Why am I focusing so much on me, me, me, me, me? It's not like that. I'm not saying obsess over these things. Don't neglect people in your life, or anyone you're in a position to help, to achieve your wishlist at all costs.
What I'm suggesting is putting a theory into practice that's probably been pounded into your head since time immemorial. If I change the terminology, you'll see what I mean. It's not a wishlist. These aren't wishes. They're goals.
Perhaps I won't achieve them all in my lifetime, but setting goals is how I've accomplished some significant things so far, which brings me to another list:

- New monitor
- Lawn mower
- Better glasses
- Martin backpacker guitar
- Face hair groomer thing
- GoPro
- Camera and mic for video recording
- Wii U
- Published novel
- My own publishing business

I started doing this to free up my memory. To remember the simple things I can grab pretty easily, just not at the moment, or things I can't necessarily go out and get without extensive planning. Without this list I'd have to remember more things, and I save my memory space for more vital endeavors like zipping my pants, picking up my keys, charging my tech, saving my document, etc.

There are several lessons I've learned in this process.

1. If I put something on that list, I'll figure out how to obtain it, even if it seems ridiculous and impossible. It might require a series of steps and a lot of time and money (like the mead hall I will one day build) but once it's on my list, my mind is formulating a plan, whether I realize it or not.

2. If I'm ever not on the top of my game--doubting myself or just downhearted in general--these lists are a welcome respite. Looking at the goals reminds me why I'm doing what I'm doing. Why I persevere. Looking at that Obtained! list reminds me of goals I've met. It reminds me that if I put my mind to a task, I can achieve it.

3. I'm learning about myself in this process. In fiction writing, when you're creating a character, there are several traits that help quickly identify a person. One of those is Desires. When I look at my lists as a whole, it speaks to who I am as a person, at least to some extent. And self-awareness is a gift you shouldn't squander.

The most vital first step in preventing yourself from dying with an unfulfilled bucket list is to create a bucket list. Set your goals. If you think you're being selfish by focusing so much on you, then offset that by giving your money, time, advice, or help to someone who needs it. If you don't know what to give or how to start, throw some love toward Evie's Memorial. Whether you can drop $s directly or just spread awareness by sharing the page, all is welcome.

After that shameless plug, what better way to end this post than some good ol' hardcore rock?