Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Contest Submission

It's been a long time since I've entered anything I've written into a writing contest, but I submitted a short story "Lady Beatrice's Ball" to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Contest today.

For the past few years, the IWSG has run an anthology contest, where stories are submitted and short-listed and the winners are published in an anthology.

Check out the contest here. This year's genre was Young Adult romance and the theme was masquerade.

I haven't written very much Young Adult--and I read it very, very rarely--but I had a character from a story that crashed and burned a few years ago who worked for that age range. So, yay!

I always find it hard to write romance in shorter pieces. Wait, who am I kidding? Romance, as much as I read it and enjoy it, is hard for me to write in any length, but especially shorter. I tend to find romance short stories and novellas kind of unsatisfying because the romance plot has to be truncated.

Anyway....we'll see how this goes!

"Lady Beatrice's Ball" is literally the second piece of creative writing I've managed to finish this year, so that in itself is wonderful. It would not have been possible without my betas T. Drecker and Krystal Jane Ruin. Thank you ladies!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Dueling, Or: Men Are Stupid

I am a pretty deep Hamilfan, y'know? I saw Hamilton in 2015 (still bragging), I watched the PBS Hamilton documentary twice, I'm currently reading the annotated Hamilton: The Revolution book on my Phone's Kindle app.

My nieces have recently gotten into Hamilton, but not because of me. Niece #1, aged 10, got to see Hamilton on Broadway with her aunt for her birthday. When the nieces went to visit friends this summer, said friends' children listened obsessively to the Hamilton cast album in their car. They came back knowing the songs and being excited about Hamilton's story, like so many others.

Their parents even took them to Weehawken, a New Jersey town across the Hudson from Manhattan, where Hamilton and Burr's fateful duel happened in 1804.

And I'm up to the "Ten Duel Commandments" chapter in the Hamilton book. And it's been a while since I've ranted about something historical.

It's long been my estimation that dueling is incredibly stupid. I know it had its own code--first there was the offense or insult, then the challenge, then the appointing of seconds, then those seconds negotiating for a retraction or apology or whatever so that these men wouldn't have to stand ten paces apart and shoot at each other, etc. etc.

If an apology was not forthcoming, the men and their seconds arranged to meet at the crack of dawn in their apppointed dueling grounds (the Bois de Boulogne, if in Paris, for example. Or Weehawken).

Duels were supposed to restore one's honor (or was it supposed to satisfy testosterone and unnaturally ruffled feathers?). There is something romantic about a man defending a woman's honor by dueling another dude who may have insulted her reputation. You know where this kind of thing is romantic?

In fiction.

Duels began in medieval times with swords. (Swords are far cooler than pistols, methinks) Noblemen with disputes would do combat with each other because they didn't have the communication skills to talk it out like rational human beings. Louis XIII of France outlawed dueling and his son Louis XIV also tried to wipe out dueling in France, but the tradition continued.

By the eighteenth into the turn of the nineteenth century, dueling was firmly a gun thing. Men of a certain class owned dueling pistols.

The Hamilton-Burr dueling pistols, owned by JP MorganChase

Dueling was popular in the United States, which is how Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr ended up in a field in New Jersey shooting at each other. Mind you, Alexander Hamilton's son Philip had died because of a duel three years earlier--on the same dueling grounds, by the way--even though dueling was illegal in New York and New Jersey. But New Jersey was lax in enforcing their anti-dueling laws.

Burr shot Hamilton. Hamilton died the next day.

Hamilton monument in Weehawken, NJ. The boulder is where Hamilton
supposedly laid his head down after he was shot.

You'd think the Vice President shooting the former Treasury Secretary would've put dueling in the kibosh, but nope. Dueling became popular in the South and in the Wild West.

Notably, it was usually aristocratic men participating in duello, though in the United States, men of all classes dueled. The duello code was well known, the protocol known. I don't know what the general public's attitude toward dueling was--some of them seemed to think it was barbaric, stupid, wasteful, and against religious teachings over time.

The practice died out by the end of the nineteenth century--the American Civil War and the toll it cast on the country did dueling in here and by World War One, dueling was done in Europe.

Also: women did duel, but it was rare. Apparently, Catherine the Great got into a duel with a cousin when she was a teenager and was a second for female duelists in Russia several times.

No matter how much dueling was about defending one's honor--and a person'a honor meant a lot in the olden days--women probably saw it for the violent, ridiculous ritual it was: a ritual that often resulted in death and for what? A dispute that could either be swept under the rug or discussed by human beings with analytical communication skills who were emotionally mature enough to acknowledge that you can't solve everything every little slight with your pistols?

As a historical fiction reader, a duel in a book is a dramatic, tense incident. There is a flair to it. In real life? In real life, it seems needless. And frankly, I'm not surprised that dueling was mostly the provenance of wealthy men.

Duels Between Women
How Duels Work

Monday, October 8, 2018

An Update On My Writing Projects

Oh. Em. Gee.

An update on, like, actual writing projects? Whut? Now, admittedly, 2018 has not been my most prolific writing year. Working two jobs for most of the year and being in the midst of a career change is not conducive to a ton of time or inspiration.

Short Stories:

So far this year, I have completed a short story--a horror spec fic thing that I have yet to decide what to do with. It's based on an old Japanese myth about grandparents being taken into the mountains and woods during times of hardship and left to die from exposure to lighten the load of the family.

I'm in the middle of a true rip to shreds on a different short story that I'm going to enter into a contest.

My Broadway romance novel outline is still going. I'm almost done with it, but I can't get over the hump and I'm wondering if it means that I should just jump into a full draft already.

After the Broadway romance #1, there are three other planned stories in this potential series that I also want to outline.

Plot Bunnies:

I have two. They have both reached note taking levels in separate notebooks. One is a historical steampunk idea which would take a lot of research because it wants to be set in Japan in the 1890s.

The other is a dual timeline time slip idea, set between contemporary times and the early twentieth century.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

IWSG: October

Welcome to October's Insecure Writer's Support Group. We post our writerly insecurities to the world every first Wednesday of the month. Check out the group here.

This month's IWSG question:

How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

To generalize--writing has helped me through some really dark times. I've written to pull myself back from the edges of the cliff. I write to alleviate anxiety. But during major life events--I find that maybe I have a harder time writing? Because major life events tend to keep a person busy and/or distracted from more inner life pursuits. 

Granted, I was in the middle of the editing process for Pearl when my grandfather died--and I think while writing it didn't help me cope with his decline, going through the self publishing process for the first time was something I could research and concentrate on at that time. 

Also, now that it's October...

An anthology I was lucky enough to be published in last October will on sale for 99 cents for the entire month!

Kindle         Nook

What happens in the dark will come to light.

Full Dark is a collection of eleven short works with impressive depth and range. Twisted tales of ghosts, villains, and the paranormal await you—mystery, heinous fantasy, and pure suspense. Acclaimed and award-winning authors as well as a few talented newcomers have joined forces to be your guide. Venture into the dark if you dare.

Just A Matter Of Time by Loni Townsend
Forerunner by David Powers King
Taking Care Of You by Carrie Butler
The Apartment by Lisa Buie-Collard
The Caricature by Nick Wilford
Shifting Sands by Elizabeth Seckman
Shadows Falling On Rainbows by Celeste Holloway
Meringue, Murder or Marzipan by Tonja Drecker
Haunted Lake by Michelle Athy
Soul Coin by Laura Rich
Retribution by Melissa Maygrove

FULL DARK is a benefit anthology. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Gary Sinise Foundation, an organization that does many wonderful things for our country's active military, its veterans, and the countless first responders who sacrifice so much to keep us safe.

Monday, October 1, 2018

23andme results!

As a quick refresher, when I blogged about my Ancestry DNA results, they were originally:

This week, Ancestry sent me an email and a refined result. Those were:

I hadn't gotten my 23andme results on Saturday, when the Ancestry update came through, but they were ready on Sunday!

Now, to be clear, I have been raised and identify as half Irish and half Japanese and all of these results bear that out. Now, in the original Ancestry results, there were tiny amounts of other kinds of European (which are now gone from the updated results): Scandinavian, Iberian, British. History tells us that Vikings, Normans, English, Spanish and of course, Celts, all ended up in Ireland and I thought, "Oh, cool! So there's little amounts of all those groups in my DNA!"

There may be trace amounts of Scandinavian, English, Scottish and maybe some Spanish there, based on 23andme's Broadly European bits.

But the Asian side! I'm so excited that it shows not only the Japanese DNA (but that there's some Korean DNA, too. That's not a big surprise, considering ancient Japanese people came over from the Korean peninsula.When I decided to do 23andme, it was largely because Ancestry didn't show a specific country on my Asian side, even if I knew it was Japan. My mom and I were curious about whether there were other ethnicities besides Japanese in our background.

I expected some Chinese or maybe even some Southeastern Asian, but I guess not. Also, I guess I some share really ancient ancestry from, like, Siberia or Manchuria and those genes also manifest in Native Americans!

23andme also shows you an ancestry timeline:

The timeline tells you how recently you may have had an ancestor who descended from a single group of people. I was super interested that the timeline thinks I had an 100% Korean ancestor born somewhere between 1750 and 1840, which corresponds to Japan's Edo period. There was some isolationist stuff going on then but the region my family comes from was where the Dutch had their island trading post and it's pretty close to Korea and China. 

Also, I have 232 Neanderthal variants, which is 90% less than most 23andme customers. Guys, I have a Neanderthal variant associated with my height.

I'm 4'10", so....were Neanderthals short?

23andme also tells you about your haplogroup--in my case, being a female, my maternal haplogroup only. If I wanted to know about my paternal haplogroup, I'd have to get my dad, an uncle or pay a male cousin on my dad's side to take the test lol

A haplogroup is a genetic population group who share a distant common ancestor on either the maternal or paternal side. Women can only trace their mitochondrial DNA back. Men can trace both mitochondrial and paternal lines back because they have Y chromosones which they inherit from their fathers. 

My maternal haplogroup is B4b1a1, which traces back to a woman who lived 3,500 years ago. She was from modern day China or Vietnam and the B4 haplogroups are common in East Asia.