• Friday Info

    Travel and Virtual Travel

    I’ve been away visiting historic sites, museums, and more which will appear on this site over the next months. Of course I’m also planning more visits, too, for myself first and to share after. Most of the time, I make deliberate plans to visit sites. On occasion, I’m more spontaneous. In either case, however, here are some of the things I try to take into account: Open Hours — this is probably the biggest thing to check in advance. If it’s a Saturday in the summer, you’re probably good if you head wherever around mid-day. Other than that, though, checking for a website and posted hours is always wise. I…

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  • Friday Info,  Twisting the Border

    Visiting Historic Places

    History is everywhere. This morning? History. Yesterday? History. The older a place is, the more unusual, and/or the more connected with someone famous (or infamous), the greater the odds it might survive in some form as a historic place to visit. Might. Most don’t. But some do, and that’s the subject for today’s ramblings. Because these are places for inspiration, education, entertainment, and connection. Sometimes all at the same time and sometimes . . . not. I believe in visiting historic sites (granted, not all–there are some I’m never setting foot in, not no way not no how) and I’ve visited a lot. I don’t have a complete list of…

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  • Friday Info

    Art Imitating Life

    There’s the old saying about life imitating art. I don’t recall hearing or reading a saying about art imitating life, but that’s probably because it’s seen as unnecessary. Of course art imitates art. The visual art world went all in a tizzy a century or two ago when painters made portraits, landscapes, and other works of art which deliberately skewed perspectives and altered things. So let’s take the art imitating life as something of a given. But . . . what parts of life do artists incorporate in crafting art? There are conscious and unconscious choices. Some may be easy, others political (to return to visual art, consider the portrait…

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  • Friday Info,  Twisting the Border

    Research, research, always research

    I do a lot of research. I don’t always read books all the way through–I’ll flip through, focus on particular chapters, consult the index, and/or other techniques. And I readily admit to regularly consulting web sites as well. I prefer books and websites that offer some measure of research transparency–i.e. they show their work and how they came to certain conclusions (in other words they note which primary and secondary sources they consulted … or they are primary sources). So with that in mind, here are a few of the sources used for my upcoming Twisting the Border installment, which is set on a steamboat headed down the Mississippi River.…

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  • Friday Info,  Twisting the Border

    Drinking Unhappiness

    The riverboat Illinois Queen‘s passengers form a microcosm of humanity. Gamblers. Settlers. Scientists. For a spinster headed into self-imposed exile, homesickness turns into seasickness. A fellow passenger offers a cure. But one sip too many lays bare the sorrows, sins, and secrets the riverboat holds. Board the Queen as powerful, believable characters face the loss of all they cherish. Available 19 July!

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  • Friday Info,  Twisting the Border

    Historical Research

    Let’s start with a simple proposition: there is no one right way to do historical research. Then again, there are a lot of wrong ways. But I’m not here to talk about those (at least not today). If you want to discuss wrong ways, chat up just about anyone who teaches history courses. One thing about doing history research is that it’s highly idiosyncratic, or peculiar to each individual person. In short, how you research–your choices of where to search (assuming you have choices), how to search, and how you navigate results–will all affect what you find. There are a lot of good books and websites out there on how…

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  • Friday Info

    Beginnings and other things

    Well, I had a lovely post up here for a few days — but then tech things happened (don’t ask) and it went bye-bye. Sigh. I’ve pondered beginnings lately. They’re all over the place. Many things have multiple beginnings–and every ending has at least one beginning tucked somewhere within it. 21 June 2019 was a beginning in many respects. It was a solstice, which means days or nights will lengthen/shorten (depending on where you live on the globe), seasons change, and time moves on. On a personal level, it was the beginning of a new phase for my Twisting world — publication of the first installment of Twisting the Border.…

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  • Friday Info

    Pros and Cons of Primary Sources – diaries/journals

    Diaries and journals are wonderful, except when they’re not. Diaries and journals are frustrating, except when they’re not. I’m working with a couple of journals for my current major work-in-progress. Both are travel accounts, documenting their authors’ adventures (or lack thereof) while going across Texas in the middle of the nineteenth century. Now, one of the many hats I wear is that of historian. And as a historian I love primary sources because they say a lot about people and the times in which they lived. So it’s not a surprise that I also love them when writing historical fantasy. Interestingly, some times the same things frustrate me in the…

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