If you’re a writer, a reader, movie-goer, or just looking for a place to relax, you’ve come to the right place. Every week I’ll be posting my thoughts on story craft in addition to reviews and other oddities.
Think of me as a sweet old lady by the tavern fire knitting socks for grandkids she doesn’t have, talking to herself and whomever passes by. No one knows where she came from. She spins tales about distant lands like she’s been there, offers advice you didn’t ask for, comments on strangers passing through as if she knows their deepest secrets.
So grab a cup of mulled wine, kick off your boots, and sit awhile with me. We have so much to talk about.
Here’s a brief roundup of some sites I find indispensable when storycrafting.
TV Tropes : Catalog of millions of tropes and their occurrences in television, movies, anime, the internet, literature, pro-wrestling (not a joke), real life, and pretty much anything else you can think of. (Spoilers abound.)
Limyaael’s Rants : My personal favorite. Now inactive, Limyaael’s I-don’t-give-a-damn-what-you-think rants on writing (especially fantasy) are a definite must-see for anyone thinking of writing speculative fiction.
I took that picture a few years ago when a rampaging wildfire was burning trees killed by pine beetles. During and after the fire we saw some of the most magnificent sunsets I’ve ever seen due to the amount of particulates in the air. When the last of it was extinguished, a third of our land was burnt but thankfully our home was intact. That couldn’t be said for hundreds of others. Some of them are still rebuilding, or simply moved away.
In the most serious evacuation we left when the flames were eating the ridge across from us. For a couple of hours a mile-high column of smoke moved steadily toward us. Smoke dyed the air orange, insects swarmed our house in exodus. We left not long after we saw the fire itself.
But between stuffy motel rooms and fast food restaurants, I wasn’t scared. I had my family and my dog. We were safe. Come whatever hell, we had each other and that was good enough for me. It might be cliché, but the community came together. Volunteers, firefighters, thank you.
Today, you can hardly tell there was a fire. There are some dead trees, but grasses greened up everything. It looks healthier than five years ago.
That experience has affected my writing considerably. I’m glad for the opportunity to live through this and hopefully help other people through similar things.
So, even when things look bleak, remember what’s really important to you.
We found this butterfly as a caterpillar late last fall. Since she wasn’t going to survive the first frost, we took her inside. She cocooned on a sweater and sat, to all appearances dead, throughout the winter. We almost gave up on her.
Come springtime a few months ago we found a swallowtail flapping in the window and the cocoon no more than a husk.
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” Richard Bach
Horses can be difficult to depict accurately in fiction. As someone with lots of personal experience with equines, I thought I’d offer some points of interest about working with them that I haven’t seen on other lists.
1. Horses don’t need shoes. Proper trimming and exercise is enough.
2. Horses can’t gallop for long periods of time. They can trot for miles when conditioned but it’s very uncomfortable and tiring for both of you.
3. Riding all day makes you sore.
4. A horse can’t be parked in a stall and forgotten for a month. They have to be exercised or at least allowed to roam because part of their vascular system relies on the compression of soft tissues in the hooves.
5. Horses need lots of water and food throughout the day, mostly grasses. They can’t live on oats. Oats are a good supplement for hard working horses or when in cold weather because they provide energy, but can’t sustain a horse. Also, horses can’t throw up, and rarely burp.
6. Horses shouldn’t go straight from hay only to lush pastures or vice versa because they’ll likely colic (the broad definition of a horse stomach ache, which are often fatal). They need time to adjust.
7. A horse cannot whinny when galloping or jumping. In fact, they’re pretty quiet unless calling to another horse.
8. Your body language affects a horse’s mood. They can feel a single fly land on their fur so they can sense if you’re tense in the saddle. If you’re scared, they’ll get scared and will be more likely to spook.
9. Horses spook at the stupidest things. They have some of the fastest reflexes of land mammals and can kick before you realize what they’re spooking at. Don’t stand right behind one, don’t stand right in front of one. Also, when they bite it hurts.
10. Horses operate based on respect, and (in almost all cases) have no sense of loyalty or affection toward humans. Even a horse that respects you will be more than happy to abandon you to tigers to stay alive. A horse not trained to charge into battle will run the other way. A horse not trained to be mounted from behind will kick you. A horse not trained to ignore gunfire will bolt. So in scientific terms, horses are jerks.
And there you have it.
Got anything I missed? Any particularly awful examples of mecha-horses?