Family Traits

My FingersI have really long, slightly bent fingers. According to certain family members, this is a Swinnerton trait. My sister on the other hand, hehe, pun not intended but anyway, has hands from my dad’s side of the family. She is Forrester hands. This means one thumb stubbier than the other (not that you can be sure with my dad since he chopped the end of one off) and a middle finger the same length as the two beside it. She’s lucky. Some of dad’s relatives have this on both hands and on both feet aswell. I have it sort of, but only on one of my toes.

I posted this photo on facebook yesterday, and one of my friends commented that despite knowing me for quite a while she’d never realised how long my fingers were. It started me thinking about how much of our family we carry around in ourselves that our friends put catagories as ‘us’.

A five foot nothing I take after my Granny Kitty more than my mother. Yet every time I see my great gran she comments on how tall I’m getting, “a real Swinnerton” with long fingers and legs. (She’s not a Swinnerton I’ll point out, just that side of the family tend to all be fairly tall.)

It just goes to show though, we are all a mixture of those before us. An eye colour here, a set of wonky fingers there and a hight limit that doesn’t always match with your parents. What we look like is generations worth of mixology and we’re just the surprise cocktail that gets served at the end.

So she says, trying to think of a way to make this random posts have some sort of link to creative writing. If there are family traits like bent fingers in reality, why not have them in writing. Why shouldn’t I give Tara [Darkened Daughter] the same ears as her great aunt Gelifid. [Made that name up on the spot, no idea who Gelifid is, a witch maybe. Executed by her coven for marrying a human… and enslaving the Kingdom of Lise to her every command. Allegedly.]

See, I’ve been barely able to write a word for Darkened Daughter in the last three months due to Uni work and in two minutes I’ve worked out a new chunk of history for my fantasy world, a new kingdom name for the expanse of unnamed land currently lurking on all my attempts at map drawing, and created a new character who may prove useful when writing about Tara’s interactions with witches. I suddenly feel all productive. Yay me.

Line Please

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Connect the Dots.”


I do not know why it is called “Golden” since it appears to have been written by men with mouths of iron and hearts of lead.

This is Diarmaid MacCulloch quoting ‘De causis corruptarum artium’. That’s what happens when you ask someone to pick up the nearest books and they’re half way through researching the 1549 South West Rebellion in England. I suppose it’s rather pretty but I’ve no idea how I’m supposed to use it to write a post. I’ll try again, Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys:

Trust me to pick up a book where page eighty-two is completely blank. Well, one last attempt. Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant The Faceless Ones:

She wasn’t, in Valkyrie’s opinion, all there.”

Ah, Valkyrie Cain, one of my all time favourite characters by one of my all time favourite authors talking about another character that I simply adore. Clarabelle. Clarabelle is the definition of “away with the fairies”, but she is one of the sweetest, most accepting people I have ever had the pleasure of reading. There is no judgement in her, zombie, vampire, human or remnant, she will accept you as you come. No matter how murderous or terrifying. We could all perhaps learn something from Carabelle.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a history essay to prepare for.

Rebels, Plots and Spies

Calling all NaNoWriMo fantasy writers out there! Are you ready for November yet? How’s your world-building going? Have you got those factions sorted out yet? What about races? Are you going to have any? Will there be friction between them? Who’s ruling your world? Is there more than one ruler? Do they get along? Are there wars? Who’s winning? Why are they fighting? Does one side thing they’re fighting because of one issue and does the other side think their fighting because of something completely different? Wait! Are there more than two sides even? Dear flubberworts, writing a fantasy-fiction novel can be confusing.

For those of you who haven’t checked out the about page I’ll let you in on a secret  well known fact about me. I love my history. Especially medieval and early modern Europe. Anything under two hundred years old can suck it, you’re too young and I’m just not that into you. But I digress. My point is, history is awesome and if you have any sort of background studying history in the medieval or early modern eras then you’re probably going to find it pretty useful when it comes to writing your novel.

Yes. This is one of those “oh she’s off on one again and is trying to disguise it as an somewhat educated blog-post”. Haha, you guys know me so well.

Anyway, my madness aside, a little knowledge is great for world building and yes I’m now going to refer to Game of Thrones. Now the books by no means reflect the real events of The Wars Of The Roses and for those of you not in the know The Wars Of The Roses were a fifteenth century civil war that took place in England. If you want more detail leave a comment and I’ll write a blog post about it but explaining it in any more depth here will lead to a very, very long rant and I’m trying to avoid those when talking about other things. So back to Game of Thrones. You can see a lot of themes from The Wars Of The Roses in the first book, and from my own reading of it I found more than a few characters who seemed to match up with the historical figures. The Wars Of The Roses lack dragons though I’m afraid.

You know that depth Game Of Thrones has? How complicated the characters are, how scheming everybody is? It some ways it seems to almost mirror reality in the fifteenth century. Did anyone reading this watch The White Queen? It’s based on a historical fiction by the same name written by Phillipa Gregory and in the T.V series you see Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and grandmother of Henry VIII (Divorce, beheaded, died, divorce, beheaded, survived.) No Margaret Beaufort was only fourteen when she gave birth to her son, and she spent the rest of her life scheming and plotting to get her son on the throne of England. Really Henry Tudor should never have taken the throne. There were questions about the legitimacy of his bloodline, he lived in exile most of his life with his Uncle in Europe and there were others with much stronger claims. He still got there though. He may of usurped Richard III to do it, but he managed it. (And thus we have the end of The Wars Of The Roses and the start of the Tudor reign which in itself gives you a whole host of plots and rebellions to be dealing with.) All in all I’m saying the English monarchy is complicated and more than that there was always something threatening the monarch just as there is in Game of Thrones. More often than not more than one thing.

Another example would be Mary I (I’ve just finished reading an article called The English Exile Community In Italy And The Political Opposition To Queen Mary I by Kenneth R. Bartlett.) In her case you have Protestant exiles staying in and receiving support from a Catholic Venice against a Spanish-Anglo marriage between Mary I and Phillip of Spain. There was an established Inquisition in Venice! Surely that should have made Venice a big no, no for Protestants since they would be considered heretics, but here we have an example of politics taking precedence over religion because there was common ground. Phillip of Spain was a Hapsburg, a family which coveted the title Holy Roman Emperor and large swaths of land across Europe. They did not want England allied with Spain against them. At the same time France has Mary Queen of Scots in their grasp who also has claim to the throne, there are plots to put Elizabeth, English Mary’s sister, on the throne and a guy called Wyatt even throws a rebellion into the pot. And that’s a basic overview.

Now imagine your writing a book. Character A is on the throne, but you want your plot to end with character B taking it. History can give you the basic outline of how that happens with a few plot-twists already formulated on the way. I’m not saying give your reader the history of […] between […] and […] but if you’re stuck working out how your fantasy kingdom works go and do some research. Have imprisoned heirs vanish without trace, rebellions of all scales for all sorts of reasons. Hike up the price of grain just to piss off one remote corner of the Kingdom that never even gets mentioned in the book only your planning. History is complicated to the extreme with connections between people in the most unusual places, put some of that into your writing.

Also be aware that everyone can be a spy and under Henry VIII the Royal Bottom Wiper was a job of huge privileged since it brought you into regular contact with the King. Royal Bottom Wipers can be useful message carriers.

And on that note I shall leave you. Good luck NaNoWriMoers!

NaNoWriMo And A New Mug

Mug

It’s only two days until NaNoWriMo starts and once again I’ve decided to ignore the fact that life is crazy, hectic and more than a little stressful and still sign myself up to write 50,000 words in one month. WHY PEOPLE! WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?

On the plus side of things I have a cool new mug to add to my mug collection.

At The Bottom Of The Bottle

He turned vodka shots into binoculars,

drawing chardonnay mountains from bottles

and rum seas across napkins

with whisky paths half hidden

behind liquor boats

bobbing along like corks

while their captains sang shanties

and their crews threw out sails,

white, crisp and smelling of salt

lime

and tequila.