Why do protagonists do stupid things?

Because they’re in love.

Because in their best judgment making a certain choice seems to be the right thing to do and they only find out otherwise much later that they didn’t know some critcal things.

Because their moral compass tells them to flout authority because they don’t agree with that authority, even though consequences might be dire for themselves.

Because they care. Because they DON’T care anymore, because something has hurt them so badly that they’re beyond caring.

Because they’re flawed.

Now, how do you make your readers root for them anyhow?

Read my essay at Book View Cafe HERE

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Exactly what are writing prompts?

— and why am I offering you one?

There is a new feature on my Patreon page which I call Living Literary.

Living Literary consists of writing prompts — suggestions that present an idea or describe a situation in a graph or two and then urges you to begin writing with that as a starting point,

Illustration of author in shadowIf you are a writer, you have probably used one or two in the past. Whether you have writers block, or are just trying to keep your hand in with a little warmup writing, prompts are a godsend. But writing prompts are not just for the committed writer. They can be fun for anybody.

The prompts that I offer come in two parts. The first part is the prompt itself, and that is for everybody. Just go to my Patreon site to try it out.

Take my latest, for example:
Do you have special things in your life that reminds you of people who are gone?

I know you do and I can almost hear the story bursting to get out from here.

The second part contains an essay that I wrote from that prompt, and that can only be read by my patrons. (You can become a patron for as little as a $2a  month pledge.)

I hope that some of you will share your thoughts about my essay, or share the pieces you yourself write from the prompts in the comments section.

You can see the prompts at my Patreon page HERE

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Literary Box

Do you have a reader in your life who hasn’t discovered me yet? Let’s talk.

We can set up a quarterly Book Box gift, where they get surprised by something to read every quarter – a Spring Book, a Summer Book, a Fall Book, and a Winter Book.

Drop me a note HERE

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Why do characters love?

Love is one of the guiding principles of the human condition. Things have been done in the name of love – both great things and evil things – that defy explanation, or rationalization. Love is what love is, and when it comes down like a ton of bricks there is nothing you can do except be buried in it.

Come on, admit it – what is the first thing that comes into your head when the issue of “romantic love” is invoked? The deathless (if you can call it that) Romeo and Juliet, isn’t it? But yet, remember the envoi from that play –

For never was there a tale of more woe
Than that of Juliet, and her Romeo.

It isn’t a love story, except in the shallowest of ways. It’s a story of two unformed teenagers and their infatuation and obsession with one another. This is something that ends badly for literally everybody, starting with the two young lovers themselves – and yet this is the ultimate romantic thing, something that is as firmly attached to the idea of romance as are red roses and chocolates and Valentine’s day (yes, I know. They’re just as shallowly symbolic…)

But there are many kinds of love out there….

Read the rest at Book View Cafe HERE

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Remembering Nüshu

In the 19th-Century, there was a Chinese script, Nüshu, that only women could write.

When I first read of this, my imagination ran wild and I wrote a book at white heat, 200,000 words in less than four months. The book was ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei‘ and has been my most successful novel. It sold all over the world in 13 languages and more than a decade later, it still draws attention.

Authors are sometimes warned against writing about a culture not their own. I wasn’t overly concerned because the novel is a fantasy. But it was set in a country not unlike Imperial China and when a woman of Chinese heritage approached me at a reading I braced myself for a possible attack that I had dared write such a novel. But all she said was that she had loved the book, but then added ruefully “part of me wishes you were Chinese.”

Read more about Nüshu at Atlas Obscura HERE
See ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’ at Amazon HERE

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Quote of the DayALMA Rewriting History poster~~~~~

HELP ME BUILD NEW WORLDS: As publishing changes, most authors need new sources of income. If you would like to help me continue writing about wizards and Weres, Jin-shei sisters, and girls who rise from the gutter to Empress, consider pitching in with a small monthly pledge. For the cost of a latte or two you too can become a patron of the arts. Details HERE

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Why are villains so much fun?

Protagonists are all very well. You pick a central character, you get into their head, you understand his or her point of view. That protagonist is by very definition the Knight of Virtue. There are protagonists with shades of gray, of course, and they are complex and lovely. But mostly, mostly, they ride on the side of light.

And then there are the people who will rise to stand in that protagonist’s way. The Bad Guys. The Black Hats. The forces of evil. And your reader remembers them. Often better than your protagonist.

Who did you remember?

When you walked out of Star Wars, whom did you carry out with you? Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader? Yes, you might have recognized a few quoted lines from the protagonist, years down the line. But as soon as someone started doing that breathing you did more than that. You were back there, in Vader’s shadow, touched by the billowing black cloak. If you hadn’t been… well, he might have found your lack of faith disturbing.

What of other famous villains? What of Saruman? What of Voldemort? What of deliberately half-shadowed characters who took on the mantle of protagonist even while potentially being a creature of the darker realms of morality and ethics – characters like Elric of Melnibone?

Humans may admire virtue, but they do not necessarily like it all that much. Characters whose every facet is bright, shiny and pure tend to annoy after a while. Everyone needs their flaws because without them they cease to be something that any reader will be able to identify with at all.

Writing a villain frees you from certain constraints.

You can have these people do whatever it takes, whatever is necessary, and they don’t have to answer to anyone except themselves. And they come in different shapes and sizes and darknesses.

A few of my own examples… In the Changer of Days books, there are two characters who might qualify for this particular badge.

One of them is Sif, the older and illegitimate half-brother of the true queen. He rose to power in the midst of a war, when his army decided that they needed a leader who was a grown man instead of the nine-year-old girl waiting in the royal throne room, far away from the battles. Sif had been disqualified from taking the crown, by virtue of his bastard birth, but also by virtue of the fact that his mother had not been wedded because she lacked a valued attribute – that of Sight (to learn more about that you really WILL have to read the books…) But Sight, or the lack of it, has always been a chip on Sif’s shoulder, and it drives him to do ugly and evil things in its name. And it is those things that have forged his reputation – that of being ruthless, pitiless, and able to kill without hesitation or regret.

It is that reputation which sends my second villain, Ansen, the traitor, straight to him. Ansen, the foster-brother of the young hidden queen, races to Sif’s side with news of the girl so he can destroy her in order to assure his grip on his throne. Ansen is certain of his welcome as the bearer of such news – the betrayal is nothing, in the face of the reward he thinks he can reap – that such tidings will gain him.

But he has the misfortune of arriving at the wrong place and the wrong time, and Sif is closed to him. Sif barely acknowledges his existence before he snuffs him out carelessly. There is a scene where Ansen, about to die on Sif’s orders, is still hoping that his hero will save him will intercede for him. But when Sif, casting a desultory eye on the execution that he had ordered, is asked who the hapless person about to die had been.

“Nobody,” Sif replies, turning away. “He was nobody.”

Already forgotten. Insignificant.

And yet he was a terrific villain, and he was remembered by others. Readers who had forgotten the names of many other characters remembered Ansen’s. Because his actions had stabbed deep into their own sense of justice and fairness and the meaning of glory. Everyone hated him, with the fire of a thousand suns. That was partly because I sketched him with such passion, with such gusto. I was unconstrained by what he SHOULD do, who he OUGHT to have been, and so neither was he – and, freed, he did unconscionable things and became instantly memorable because of them.

In a different book. I painted a different villain. His name was Lihui and he was a courtier at the Imperial court in The Secrets of Jin-shei. The man never raised his voice, was always unfailingly courteous and polite, would reach out to help a crippled girl stand when he came upon her fallen… and yet this is the character of whom one of the book’s readers would write, “…and I just wanted to put both Lihui’s eyes out with my thumbs.”

That’s when I knew that my job there was done. I had effectively gone behind the screen and showed the real soul of a dark and twisted character – and after that no amount of window dressing and surface politeness and general outward good behavior would have been enough. The reader had seen, and could never unsee. It was fascinating to write a character like that, free to follow every shady impulse, and to make the reader go with him, recoiling and swearing and disgusted but nevertheless unable to look away.

In my recent series, The Were Chronicles, there is a man called Barbican Bain. Another of the quiet, almost oily, ones. But because he held so fast to his convictions – his terrifying and terrible and wrong convictions – he was a train wreck you couldn’t forget. His presence was very Vader-like – you could almost hear his breathing in the background when you stopped to listen, wherever you were in that book. He was omnipresent, a shadow in everyone’s life, the cause of great sorrow that was and great troubles to come. He was an incredible character to write.

That’s why you’ll find that so many villains in literature are utterly memorable. Because you cannot believe that you are there with them – the only real way to disavow them completely and declare that no, you are SO NOT on their side is to stop reading the story they are in, and you can’t, because they’ve got you held fast and you can’t help but look at the things they’re showing you.

A good writer will use a good villain to shine a black light into the darkest recesses of the human spirit and human condition. It’s in that darkness when the writer and the reader reach out and find each other’s hand, and hold fast – because the only other person there in the shadows is someone whose breathing you will hear loud in the silence that surrounds you, and whose presence is going to haunt the dreams of anyone whose path that specter has crossed.

And that is why writing those villains is so absolutely rewarding, in the end.

With every word, with every brush stroke, the writer is painting the story that is being told into the reader’s memory. It is the shadows we remember best.

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HELP ME BUILD NEW WORLDS: As publishing changes, most authors need new sources of income. If you would like to help me continue writing about wizards and Weres, Jin-shei sisters, and girls who rise from the gutter to Empress, consider pitching in with a small monthly pledge. For the cost of a latte or two you too can become a patron of the arts. Details HERE
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Why epigraphs?

“Dune” did it to incredible effect. Asimov’s Foundation series did it beautifully. There are other books where this was used to enhance and deepen the worldbuilding.

I am talking about epigraphs, quotes that open chapters or sections of novels, quotes which often come from Science Fiction or Fantasy worlds that do not exist outside the book being read.

The Ages of Mankind

When I wrote “The Secrets of Jin-shei“, I used epigraphs to define the Ages of Mankind, as seen through the eyes of the culture and beliefs of my imagined country of Syai – Liu, Lan, Xat, Qai, Ryu, Pau, and Atu.In that order, they cover emergence (birth and babyhood), growing (childhood), coming of age (becoming adult), reproducing and replacing one’s self (the age of childbearing), the secondary stage of reproducing and replacing one’s self, and growing old (sliding into senescence), the sunset and twilight of one’s life (death), and that existence that bridges the end of the last life and the beginning of a brand new one, a sort of hovering in the waiting room of the gods (the closing of the circle).Jin-shei Ages of Mankind Liu poster

What emerged as the quotes for each section were these delicate ‘Chinese’ poems, fragile and ethereal, almost written by brushwork rather than typed on hard keys on a computer keyboard. They were astonishing to me, who created them, but they had a sturdy reality – despite their tender fragility – which served to anchor my new-made world firmly to a reality which would not otherwise have been possible. There is a power here which is difficult to define, but which is palpable. This would not have been the book it is without the epigraphs which serve as the scaffold on which the entire structure was built.

I did a similar thing with the follow-up to that book, “Embers of Heaven”, where the epigraphs came from various works of reference and literature and liturgy. Imaginary, all. But, again, the quotes serve to anchor the novel into its world, a world where these books existed, where they would have been recognizable and familiar to someone of that world, of that culture. They anchored my own mind in that world, in the way it was thinking and feeling, in the unquestionable reality of its existence.

This is powerful stuff. Even now, rereading the material, years after it was written, I find myself transported straight back into the world of Jin-shei by these quotes.Jin-shei Ages of Mankind Lan poster

The right epigraphs, even if they have been as wholly invented by an author as the novel which they anchor, serve to link the words of fiction to a world which is only a sideways step from our own, as real as that which we see when we look out of our own windows. They serve as windows, also, and they allow the reader of a book to glance directly into the mind of its writer, and understand more completely the fictional realm into which the writer has led them. The epigraphs are the keys to a massive door which open into a place which we may not have ever seen before… but which, because of those imagined yet easily recognized quoted words, we *know*.

I’ve built a series of posters based on those Ages Of mankind, the first two enclosed here. I’ll post the others at another time.

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HELP ME BUILD NEW WORLDS: As publishing changes, most authors need new sources of income. If you would like to help me continue writing about wizards and Weres, Jin-shei sisters, and girls who rise from the gutter to Empress, consider pitching in with a small monthly pledge. For the cost of a latte or two you too can become a patron of the arts. Details HERE

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Why do characters lie?

Fictional liars

The Unreliable Narrator is a character who tells the reader a story which cannot be entirely trusted, or taken at face value. The narrator might be deliberately deceptive, or they may be telling a perfectly reasonable story according to THEIR worldview, their reality, which may not be the reader’s. Perhaps they are working from a misconception because they are not privy to all the relevant information.

Basically, the unreliable narrator storytellers cannot be entirely trusted to tell YOUR truth.

Here’s a piece of homework – think of a story with an unreliable narrator. I’ll start you off. “Clockwork Orange”. “Life of Pi”. “Rebecca”. “Gone Girl”. Justine Larbalestier’s “Liar”. Quite possibly Alice, of Wonderland fame (I mean, she dreamed it ALL…) That’s a start. Cast your mind over books you have read. Add them to the list.

If you are creating your own unreliable narrator, there can be pure exhilaration in doing it, doing it well, and knowing that at some point the reader will gasp sharply when they realize that the things they have been led to believe are real and true… may not be. It is a very delicate web to weave, but when done properly it is an amazing dance between the writer and the reader, and these are books that are remembered for a long time after they are done.

There are a number of ways of doing this. The hardest one is the clue layering all the way in, right from the start, nudging the reader along inch by inch until you pull the curtain on the reveal. The dangers there are obvious. It is possible to give too many clues, leaving the character way too open to being unmasked too early in the game.

It is possible not to give enough clues so that the reveal comes out of left field and the reader feels ambushed by something that was never properly foreshadowed.

The writer can be subtle about this, giving out information through the reactions of other characters (indicating that something about the narrator’s thoughts or actions is considered ‘off’ in his context and circumstances), or simply by placing the narrator within a setting where it is clear that the perceptions being conveyed to the readers are filtered through a lens of a very different set of convictions or a worldview and the things the narrator perceives as being good or right… may not be entirely correctly perceived.

In this sense, the character does not exactly LIE to the reader, he or she simply presents their own version of the truth. This can be tougher than it looks, particularly when the author is not the narrator and does not necessarily share any views that the reader might find abhorrent. It is important not to confuse the voice of the narrator with that of the author. A good author can project an entirely different person with a remarkable degree of verisimilitude.

Facts are empirically provable, but truth is not so easily pinned down. Truth is perceived rather than proved. One person’s truth may not be another’s – a deeply religious person’s truth is that God is responsible for absolutely everything and is all-powerful, while an atheist prefers to trust this world rather than the next. You define yourself as a good person by doing what you perceive are good deeds. That is a fact. But whether you do those good deeds because you are hoping for a reward in Heaven, or because they are in themselves reward enough in this world and you have no expectations of ever seeing another, that is your truth, and your own truth governs how your perceive your life, your world, your experiences, and how you convey your ideas to someone else.

Person A might well consider Person B an unreliable narrator simply because the two of them do not necessarily inhabit the same truth sphere, even though they are both physically very present in the same world. Both persons are telling the truth – their OWN truth – and both persons might be perceived as bending that truth, or actively lying about important things, by the other. They are being perceived as unreliable narrators. And in some ways it is the reader who governs the unreliability of the narrator – simply by providing their own set of lenses through which they might view a particular story. Readers will always find in any story worth its salt far more than the author ever thought they put in there.

All fiction is by definition a lie. None of it “really happened”. But you as the reader get to decide which of the characters within any given story you actually trust to provide you with the inner scaffolding of meta-truth with exists within the narrative you are reading.

And if you’re the writer, you have to decide what aspect of your story is the ‘true’ one, the right one, and which you will present to your readers as subtly skewed… and then you have to trust those readers to perceive it. You get to shine the light of your choice on your story – and you hope that, in the minds of your readers, you get to cast the shadows you wanted.

Within your story, however, on a more granular level, you will sometimes make the choice of having a character tell a blatant untruth at some point.

Why do people lie?

There are people who are incapable of stopping – whose entire lives are built of lie upon lie, one making the next one necessary, and they are just placed one on another and mortared in place until there’s a wall of lies it is impossible to work your way free of even if you tried. There are people who might do this because they want to trap others behind that wall, and there are people who build it to protect some inner core of themselves. Either way, it’s an inevitability, in the end – it’s like pushing a snowball down a hill and watching it get bigger and bigger and bigger and obliterating everything in its path in the end – but that final result is not entirely your fault. All you did was push the snowball off the hill. Everything else it did by inertia, by itself. Unless the character in question is a certifiable sociopath, though, this is a tough row to hoe. Keeping a wall of lies straight is not the easiest thing to do. While some of them are solid they are also very vulnerable to the presence of the smallest inadvertent truth.

There are people who will lie out of compassion – the “it will be all right” lie, to someone who is mortally wounded or who is dying of an incurable disease, the “it’s better this way” lie when some unspeakable tragedy occurs and you’re trying to make it lighter by implying that a greater tragedy would have happened had events fallen out otherwise. That sort of thing.

There are people who lie in the heat of the moment and then have to live by that lie. There are people who will lie to protect themselves. There are people who will lie to protect others to the point of damning themselves.

There are people who will lie for personal gain, who will sell second-hand lemon cars or bad mortgages or shady investments to gullible or vulnerable people. There are people who will not so much lie as simply not speak of something to a third party (who may or may not have a right to know).

There are people who will lie because they don’t like their truth and they simply speak of it in terms that they can live with even if those terms are not real or true. Self deceiving is all too easy because you are lying to yourself and you have no outside way to verify that information..

There are people who will lie for gain, or for pity, or for love, or for incandescent hate, or for indifference. There are people who will lie for the joy of hearing themselves do it.

The first lie told begins a story. The rest of the story… is a search for truth. Not, necessarily, the facts. Just the truth.

 

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Quote of the Day

Building Castles poster

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‘Children of a Different Sky’: Stories of war and exile
A crowd-funded anthology from great authors. Any money collected beyond the costs of publication will be donated to help the dispossessed human tides of our era. Give what you can at the crowd-funding website HERE

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HELP ME BUILD NEW WORLDS: As publishing changes, most authors need new sources of income. If you would like to help me continue writing about wizards and Weres, Jin-shei sisters, and girls who rise from the gutter to Empress, consider pitching in with a small monthly pledge. For the cost of a latte or two you too can become a patron of the arts. Details HERE

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A love story retold

Most Western readers have a peculiar blind spot in the historical tapestry of European history.

The Empire of Byzantium.

There’s the Glory Of Rome, and then there’s the Middle Ages. Byzantium is a missing link, something that existed over there beyond Greece, almost Asian, almost Middle Eastern, something that fascinated but did not find deep roots in the Western European psyche.

But in Eastern Europe we all know about Byzantium. It was much closer to home, looming much larger on the horizon. When I was growing up, stories of Byzantium were simply part of my education, part of my cultural milieu.

One story in particular.

As the saying goes, well behaved women never make history, or as one of my great-aunts was wont to say, the pursuit of purity and virtue never helped a woman rise in her world. A good woman cooked meals, cleaned house and raised children. Those who did not do these things were by definition not good women. And not-good women…got up to all sorts of things that were then whispered about behind closed doors.

In the story of the Byzantium Empire, one of these women stands like a colossus: Theodora of the Hippodrome, daughter of a bear-keeper, arena dancer, a woman they have called a whore, someone who clawed her way from the gutter into the circles of the aristocracy. Beyond that – into the purple, crowned with an imperial diadem, ruling an empire at the height of its powers at the side of the besotted Emperor Justinian.
Justinian And Theodora mosaicThe magnificent mosaic of Justinian and Theodora in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

It is one of the greatest love stories in world history.

By most contemporary accounts, Theodora had more than enough heart and spirit and courage to have achieved all this. But because she did so, and did so while female, the rumors started swirling and history has never stayed neutral or even silent on this.

Procopius, a Byzantine historian, depicted Theodora as a wanton temptress who used her body and her sexuality to get what she wanted out of the powerful men in her world. Procopius had his biases and much of what he wrote was exaggerated or even invented. But he helped paint Theodora as what she ended up being in the pages of history books. Sultry, sexual, full of subtle poisonous malice, selfish, given to indulging her own pet people, ideas, or obsessions.

She may have been some of these things. But she was also something that was looked on askance in her world – a strong-minded woman who knew what she wanted and did what she could, what she was permitted by her gender and her society to do, in order to get it. It is quite probable that she was no saint. But she was equally probably not the wicked witch of the east, the image in which she was cast.

I grew up with Theodora and her story dangling before me like some rich Byzantine jewel. When I was younger I had no real means of judging; I read books, both fiction and non-fiction, about the time that she lived in and that was all I had to go on. She was mad bad and impossible but she was fascinating.

And in the end I suppose it was inevitable that she should take root in my storytelling mind and demand that her story – the story of the woman, not the icon, not the two-dimensional harridan, not the evil power who seduced a weak-minded scholar (which some would have Justinian be in some versions of the tale) into breaking all the rules, marrying her, raising her into the aristocratic circles of her time and making them accept her, and finally crowning her as his empress.

So I wrote a historical fantasy, Empress, which was based on her story – and in doing so I have written another book in MY world, the world in which the Syai of “Secrets of Jin Shei” and “Embers of Heaven” also exist in the same way as Greece and China co-exist in our reality.

The Secrets of Jin-shei coverEmbers of Heaven coverEmpress cover

I am writing books which are the building blocks of a much larger world, a world which exists INSIDE MY OWN STORY MILIEU as a huge and ongoing backdrop and in which my individual stories are set, in their own place and time, like jewels, like tiny detailed works of art set into a huge larger-than-life map of a world big enough to contains them all.

“Empress” is the first new fat historical fantasy I have produced since “Embers of Heaven” was published some years ago. It is the story of a not-quite Byzantium and a woman who is not-quite Theodora. But I drew inspiration from both, and created my own version for my own world. This is the kind of story that I so love writing – the sort of tale that unfolds like a rich tapestry, and the closer you look the more glorious detail comes out, until you’re lost in it and can’t quite tell where it ends and that (by comparison) sad pale thing we call reality begins.

You can find a fuller version of this essay at the Book View Café HERE

You can buy Empress HERE

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Quote of the DayQuote: Saying It Wrong posterJust as I did.

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‘Do you even science, bro?’

At Jstor Daily, Chi Luu examines how nouns suddenly become verbs, and talks about popular internet memes like “Let me librarian that for you” and “Do you even science, bro?” in which “librarian” and “science” are nouns weirdly disguised as verbs.

“So is this a playful new linguistic construction,” he asks, “or is it time to roll our eyes at the internet, again?”

Read his whole delightful essay HERE

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Two more of my newest novels are now also out as  ebooks

The print version of my newest book, ‘Empress‘, has been available for a short bit, and now the ebook version is out;  as is the ebook version of ‘Shifter‘..

Empress cover‘If you like Guy Gavriel Kay, you will love ‘Empress’. — Kari Sperring, author of ‘Living with Ghosts’ and ‘The Grass King’s Concubine’.

‘Empress’ is a historical fantasy inspired by the saga of real-world Byzantine Emperor Justinian and the courtesan Theodora, one of the greatest love stories in world history.

In my world, my protagonist is Simonis, a woman who lived many lives before rising to the top – a helpless child in circus performances, an accomplished courtesan and spy, a heretic who sheltered men thought to be damned for what they believed. Emperor Maxentius is the man who loves her enough to drape the Imperial purple over her shoulders even though his entire culture recoils.

When he marries Simonis and gives her a new name, Callidora, he makes her a partner in the ruling of the empire. When the Empire faces a rebellion that appears unstoppable, Maxentius and his generals are prepared to flee the raging mobs. But Callidora announces that the men can do what they want, but she will not run.

If I must die, purple makes a good shroud.”

The men are shamed into standing their ground and the Empire survives.

Buy Empress HERE

And now ‘Shifter‘, third book in The Were Chronicles, is finally out as an ebook.

Buy Shifter HERE

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At Mental Floss, Jennifer M Wood examines

The $80 million typo – For want of a hyphen…

Mariner One photoMariner 1 on takeoff

NASA’S one little mistake

The damage: $80 million

Hyphens don’t usually score high on the list of most important punctuation. But a single dash led to absolute failure for NASA in 1962 in the case of Mariner 1, America’s first interplanetary probe. The mission was simple: get up close and personal with close neighbor Venus. But a single missing hyphen in the coding used to set trajectory and speed caused the craft to explode just minutes after takeoff. 2001: A Space Odyssey novelist Arthur C. Clarke called it “the most expensive hyphen in history.”

See all the other typos HERE

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At The Dodo, Stephen Messenger tells us how

Kids bring shy shelter dogs out of their shells by reading to themKids read to Dogs photoHumane Society of Missouri

An innovative new idea, called the Shelter Buddies Reading Program, is already making a huge difference for animals at the Humane Society of Missouri. The idea is simple: train kids to read to dogs as a way of readying them for forever homes, all while instilling a greater sense of empathy in the youngsters, too.

Read the whole story HERE

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At BuzzFeed, Selina Churchill reports on

Sex, misery, and cliffhangers — Writing Fanfiction

For example:

Smut is popular: The fastest way to get your story read by thousands is to write for a big fandom like Supernatural or Buffy, and slap an “Adult” rating on it…show it all in eye-melting detail.

The ubiquity of smut in fanfic is a surprise to nobody. TV writing features hot people in the most intense situations they can invent. Who can be shocked that viewers develop fantasies about The Doctor or Scully or Loki? Come on. You give the world sexy werewolves, and the world will sit at its keyboard typing “Drip the wax on me, Edward.”

Read the whole story HERE

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THIS & THAT

SheKnows Website offers free Ruth Bader Ginsburg Coloring Book

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Men Give Up on Books Sooner Than Women: Study

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Harper Lee’s estate will no longer allow publication of the inexpensive paperback edition that was popular with schools.

Cheap paperbacks of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ no longer available

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Quote of the DayAstrology posterCan’t argue with that.

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