Archive for the ‘speculative fiction’ Tag

Research   Leave a comment

This week’s blog hop topic is the most interesting research you’ve ever done.

I love research, by the way. I’d do it if I wasn’t a writer, but it wouldn’t be nearly so focused because I have vast and varied interests. Maybe that’s an outgrowth of being a writer … or maybe that love of research predisposed me to write. It’s a chicken and egg scenario, I guess.

My fantasy project, Daermad Cycle, started out with researching Celtic names for our daughter. My husband’s family are Boston Irish Catholic, so they bred like bunnies and they used up many of the Celtic names then repeated some of them to the point of nausea. My mother’s family is also large and they have a rule — you can’t name a child for someone still living in the family. This prevents the Sr/Jr, little-big, Stephen-Steve-Stevie syndrome. So, when Brad (not his real name) said “Let’s give her an Irish name,” I had a huge need for research.

For the purposes of this blog, our daughter’s name is Bri (Brianne being her actual middle name), but her real first name was taken from an aunt of mine who had died several years before. That name is very ancient, a Celtic-French name that came to the Americas with the French voyageurs and got mixed into my grandmother’s Wyandot Indian culture. It’s so old-fashioned that it sounds new and it sounded very French — until I researched it and learned it has Irish equivalents and goes back into European Celtic culture.

By the time I finished researching the topic, I had learned all about the Celtic pantheon of deities and culture and that kicked around in my head demanding an outlet that opened one rainy afternoon while listening to Enya.

Perhaps my most interesting research is the one I’m doing currently for a short story for submission to an agorist anthology. The assignment in short is to write a piece of speculative historical fiction by pinpointing an event in history that was significant and changing some element that would have been a benefit to the development of agorist society. Agorists share many of the features of anarcho-capitalists … they support the dissolution of the state to be replaced by a capitalistic based society that has rules without rulers. A part of the assignment is to show agorism, voluntaryism  or the principle of non-aggression working in this scenario.

There are many different points in history that I could choose to make a change. I started with three. One of those was the question – “What would have happened if the US Constitution had not replaced the Articles of Confederation?” I circled the question a few times because this is a short story, so I can’t explore all the ramifications of that alternative scenario. I finally settled on a very specific possible outcome of that alternative history.

My mother’s tribe, the Wyandot, lived in Ohio at the time. If the Constitution had not been ratified, how might that have affected my mother’s people?

This opened up a whole area of research I had not considered before. When you grow up with stories, they are just part of the family history, but when you dig into the actual history, you learn a lot that was not previously known. It wasn’t just the Indians who would be affected and I really needed to answer the question of why the Constitution might not have been ratified.

There’s a lovely kettle of worms in this topic because the Constitutional convention was technically illegal, some states resisted it strongly and would have continued to do so if they’d had been given even a small reason to do so. For example, did you know that George Washington wanted to be king of the United States? I know. We don’t learn that in school. But in the spring of 1787, before the Constitutional Convention, he and Alexander Hamilton were writing to one another. Amid complaints of rheumatism and a desire to work on his estate, Washington agreed that the United States was in desperate need of an “executive” similar to the one we’d just overthrown in England and that he would, if necessary, agree to be that person, if they could find a way to couch it in terms the public would accept.

Wow! What if that letter had become public prior to the ratification fight? Hamilton’s letters as Publius would have been viewed much more suspiciously. Patrick Henry might have been moved to actually speak out for the anti-federalist side. The stress might have made James Madison (known for a nervous stomach) too ill to do his part in writing letters. What’s more, it is well-known that certain of the Ohio Company were monetarily influencing Congress — the President of Congress in 1787 became the Governor of the Northwest Territories in 1788. Washington owned lands in Ohio, so had a vested interest in that. One of the main arguments for the Constitution was that the country needed a standing army that could crush the Indian uprising. The discovering of a letter where two key figures were conspiring to establish an American monarchy might well have prompted Congress to investigate what was actually going on, which might have resulted in the failure of ratification, thus leaving the Articles of Confederation in place. That document was not the colossal failure that it is sometimes made out to be … for example, it could be amended but only with agreement from all the states.

Of course, the Americans were not the only ones who might have been affected. I needed to research the Wyandot and the other Ohio area tribes and the key figures who might have interacted with the white settlers at what become Marietta, Ohio. I learned a lot about my mother’s people and the history of that time. Family “legends” sometimes didn’t agree with history, but they also added much of the fictional intimate details that make the story readable. I found a treasure trove of tribal stories on the tribe’s website that halfway agreed with what I already knew, but there was also a lot of room for fiction to blossom.

I have not yet submitted my story to the anthology, so I don’t know if it will meet the requirements, but I am very pleased with having done the research and with the story that I am now editing. I learned some fascinating facts and came to the conclusion that this was perhaps THE most pivotal point in American history that might well have had far reaching consequences for Euro-American and Native-American relations, but also with American relations worldwide. If things had gone differently along the Ohio River, that might well have set a different table for how things would have progressed as the United States grew. Imagine no northern (and possibly no southern) Trail of Tears. Imagine no Indian genocide on the Plains. Imagine if white settlers had been forced by a lack of military power to negotiate with the Indians rather than force them off the land. And that’s just the one branch of the historical tree that would have been different. There are many, many more.

Having now done more research for a short story than for all of the Transformation Project, I am considering writing a speculative fiction novel based on the premise of “What if the illegal Constitutional Convention of 1787 had not changed our course of government?”

Interview with Jenna Nelson   1 comment

Jenna NelsonToday’s interview is with Jenna Nelson, whose stunning book cover got my attention on Twitter. Welcome to the blog, Jenna. Tell us something about yourself.

Currently, I’m the VP of Marketing at an accounting firm, and that’s how I pay my bills. My husband of 13 years, and my saved-from-the-pound-pup Clancy, tolerate me, which is much appreciated. I grew up in Minnesota, but have lived in Los Angeles for the past 20 years.

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My first story was a screenplay, actually, and that was about 15 years ago. I’ve always loved writing, but it was never a calling for me until quite recently.

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I love writing speculative fiction. But I read everything – Non-Fiction, Thrillers, Historicals. I just love a good book!

What are you passionate about?

Well, I’m hard of hearing. And the hearing industry is the wild, wild, west. They can do what they want, charge whatever they want, and we are at their mercy. Do you know hearing aids are not covered by insurance? They cost, on average, 5k-7k and last 3-5 years. Do the math. It’s outrageous. Along with a close friend, I’m trying to create a hearing aid that has very little cost and works even better than what’s on the current market.

Wow! I did not know that about hearing aids not being covered. I have deaf family members, but they’ve never brought this up. Good luck with that. What is something you cannot live without?

Coffee. I’m very much a foodie, and the list is too long, but I’m also a cheese fanatic. Smokey gouda…to die for.

Oh, yeah! Love gouda with fruit! Yum! What sort of research do you do for your novels?

For this book there was quite a lot, because it starts in Victorian London. So the dress and mannerisms and setting were all things that were unfamiliar to me. And the verbiage was maddening. There were so many words/phrases I wanted to use but couldn’t. Like the word “tad” came about after 1875. Very disappointing!

I’m learning stuff all over the place here today. Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

I’m a pantser. I usually know how the story will begin and end. The middle is anyone’s guess. I like to let my characters dictate.

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

I would probably do a lot of hiking. I love the outdoors and nature and would probably take an obscene number of pictures. Of course I would have books! My TBR pile has close to 100 books right now – maybe I could make a dent! Back in the day, I was a city gal. Now, I much prefer wide open spaces. The thought of being in a cabin in Alaska makes me kind of giddy.

We own the land now, so if the budget works out, we’re building the cabin next year. My husband jokes it could be a writers retreat. Talk about your books individually.

The book that was just released is a YA Fantasy called The Snow Globe. It’s about a girl in Victorian London who can weave the elements into inanimate objects and living creatures. She works in her aunt’s apothecary and emporium, and when a hooded stranger offers a snow globe in trade for medicinal herbs, she accepts. Soon thereafter, her aunt betroths her to one of London’s wealthiest men so she decides to run away to escape the marriage. She falls down a veritable rabbit hole into Winterhaven, the world inside the snow globe. Chaos ensues from there!

I love that about fantasies. What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

Joy. I love being transported when I read, and I hope anyone who reads The Snow Globe feels the same. Plus, my heroine is flawed but still strong. I want girls to feel empowered once they read that last page.

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Well, I had not one but two agents for this book. Neither could sell it for various reasons. So I decided to rewrite it from third person to first, and I added 10k. At that point, I decided it was best to go it alone.

You have experience with both traditional and indie publishing. There are people who believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

I think the mid-list is fading, because trade publishing doesn’t have the marketing muscle to put into those books. I think trade will continue to thrive for the name authors and celebrities. For the rest of us, I think Indie might be the answer.  It is definitely the future, but how well we can thrive is another story. With 1MM books released each year, there is definitely a glut happening.

I certainly agree with that. It’s hard for even a high quality book to be seen in those numbers. What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?

Control. I set my own deadlines. I keep what I feel is important to the story. I choose my own cover. Oh, and I make 3x per book what trade authors do, which is nice.

That is a definite advantage. What do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Advances. It’s nice to get the money up front. And, the elusive “stamp of approval” from the publishing industry. You are deemed worthy in the traditional realm. Self-publishers, not so much.

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

I say platform, great cover, and most of all, a great book. It might not be insta-success, but hopefully if you write a great book, word of mouth will help you catch fire.

Speaking of which, who designed your gorgeous book cover?

The incredibly talented Ricky Gunawan:


Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

I do! I know this because I had multiple agent offers on this book. I know this book is well-written because I did not rush. That’s any writer’s problem, especially those who self-publish. They just want their books out there right away, instead of waiting until the product is truly ready. Also, hire a good editor. You don’t need a lot of money to self-publish, but you do need some, and this is one of those places where you do not want to cut corners.


How do readers find you 

Jenna Nelson Home Page

Jenna’s Amazon Author Page 

The Snow Globe



On Preorder   1 comment

26698269I participated in Breakwater Harbor Books anthology Gateways, which will be available October 1 on Amazon. It’s listed on Goodreads.

A stand-alone short story featuring characters and a historical event from the land of Daermad, Pivot of Fate was my first short story in 25 years and I think it turned out well as an introduction to the world I brought to life in The Willow Branch and will continue to reveal in Murklin Wood.

In addition, it offers peaks into the universes of several Breakwater Harbor Books authors, mostly in the speculative fiction realm. Please check it out.

Annoucing Kindle Countdown Deal   1 comment

It starts March 17. Check it out.

Abducting Arnold   Leave a comment

Check out Becky Akers’ refreshing new take on history. We think we know who Benedict Arnold was, but what if we were wrong?

The Willow Branch   1 comment

Front Cover Update“The best entry into speculative fiction this year” -The Booktrap

“Gripping and vividly written” – Kristin Gleeson

“In a time when so much fantasy being published is grim and dark, it’s refreshing to find a book that returns to the beauty of high fantasy, with lyrical prose and an alternative history” Ted Cross

The Libertarian Ideal

Voice, Exit and Post-Libertarianism


Social trends, economics, health and other depressing topics!

My Corner

Showcasing My Writing and Me

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

Deep Thoughts from the Shallow End of the Pool

Steven Smith

The website of an aspiring author


a voracious reader. | a book blogger.


adventure, art, nature, travel, photography, wildlife - animals, and funny stuff


The Peaceful Revolution Liberate Main Street

%d bloggers like this: