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Category: Research

Rabbit (um, marmot) stew

Posted in Mistress of Animals, Research, and The Chained Adept

Bort -- thin strips of meat drying at the top of the yurt.
Borts — thin strips of meat drying at the top of the yurt.

You never know what you might find when you do research.

It's a cliché in fantasies that characters tend to go off into the woods and live off rabbits (one of the four food groups in FantasyLand™, namely — bread, cheese, stew, and rabbit).

Much of the culture of Zannib, in the Chained Adept series, has analogue roots in the culture of Mongolia (with some rather significant differences, such as wizards). So when it's time for me to lovingly dwell on some particular activity, I start by looking at Mongolia to see what they might have to say about it.

Right now, in Mistress of Animals, our heroes and their friends/enemies are traveling and about to be snowed in by a blizzard, and two of them have just come back to camp from a hunt for fresh meat. Antelope and marmot suggested themselves as appropriate catches, and now we have to butcher and cook them, preserving what meat we can.

Well, I know how an animal is butchered, but I thought I'd just look to see what the Mongolians do with meat preservation. In particular, I was wondering how they dry thin strips of it under shelter in wet weather while traveling, since that can take several days.

A Family Story

Posted in A Writer's Desk, and Research

StatueOfWisdom-regildedI'd like to introduce you to someone.

This is my great-grandmother, Clara Gasperov Mayerovich (Myers), as the Statue of Wisdom, freshly re-gilded in 2014, atop the Capitol Dome of the State of Maine, in Augusta.

(You can tell there has to be a good story behind this, right?)

Every now and then a family story is corroborated by external evidence. Clara and her husband Sam Myers left some things behind — newspaper articles and the work of their hands. And, of course, their descendents.

Samuel Nathan Mayerovich, first-born son of Nathan Meyerowitz, was born circa 1860 in Odessa, in the thriving Jewish community of that cosmopolitan city. The family stories that came down from my great-aunt Bertha, one of their daughters, remember a family that thought of themselves as native Odessans, and musicians were common.

Sam made the leap first, as so many Jews did, leaving the Russian Empire where strikes were disrupting life in the cities and arriving in Boston circa 1903, where he began a career as an artisan.

Clara stayed behind in Odessa with her three children (aged 9, 6, and 3 in 1905 — there would be two more later) and prepared to eventually join her husband. Bertha was the three-year-old, and the nine-year-old, Luzen, would become my grandfather, Louis Samuel Myers.

Perhaps you know what happened in Russia in 1905? In Odessa, a new wave of strikes began in sympathy with several cities, and the most important naval mutiny occurred, that of the Battleship Potemkin, in the port of Odessa, on June 27, 1905. (Which is really June 14, 1905 in the rest of the world, since Russia didn't convert from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar until 1918.)

It’s been a while…

Posted in Research, Structures of Earth, The Affinities of Magic, The Chained Adept, The Chained Adept, and The Visitor

TimeFliesMy, how time flies.

I've spent the last few months conducting a number of experiments and thought I'd mention them here.

Look for a summary of 2014 and plans for 2015 in separate posts.

Finally, I've decided to add progress meters (on the right) for short stories still in the submission process. When finally published by Perkunas Press, they will have full pages here and on the Perkunas Press website.

Social Media

I conducted a blitz for four months aimed at improving my Facebook and Twitter audience. Rather than advertising my books (bad form) except for the occasional sale, I focused on providing interesting content covering a wide array of topics. In other words, I posted about the things I like — archaeology, landscape, language, surrealism, and dozens of other subjects.

My Facebook friends said, “hey, neat!” and hardly grew at all. Twitter, on the other hand, where I had little presence, grew to hundreds of followers. That was gratifying, but the advice to “make friends and have conversations” still eludes me. I've found new people to follow, but conversations don't seem to make sense in that medium.

I also dabbled in Pinterest and lined up Tumblr and Instagram to explore, but I've eased up on this for now. When my next book is published, I'll do announcements on Twitter and Facebook, and see if I can detect any impact, especially from Twitter. If not, then this is not a great use of my time, and I should ratchet back to a more normal level (yet to be determined).

This blog has suffered as a consequence. I expect to be posting more regularly, and with a greater focus on actual news rather than just amusements and general items of interest.

Workshops & Lectures

I've become a real devotee of Dean Wesley Smith‘s workshops and lectures. His somewhat acerbic and dismissive manner sometimes requires accommodation, but he and his wife Kristine Rusch have an invaluable perspective on the publishing industry and the important issues for long-term fiction writers. It's always difficult to find a mentor whose sensibility accords with your own, and these two do it for me, covering both craft and business concerns.

Hunting red deer

Posted in Plot, and Research

Red_deer_stag_2009_denmark-319x480As the readers of my Hounds of Annwn series have discovered, it's not fox they're after in the fae world, but other beasts of the chase.

The list of the royal beasts of hunting was always topped in the Medieval period by red deer, a close relative of what we in the new world call elk. (What the Europeans call elk, we call moose. Confusing, isn't it?)

I've seen a good bit of foxhunting in the last few years, but alas we do not (mostly) pursue deer with dogs in the US, and certainly not elk. So when I want to flesVenerieDuBarry-3-200wh out my understanding of the sport, so that I can incorporate it into the world of my books, I have to turn to those parts of the world where something similar still goes on. Vive la France!

There are many fine photographers who follow traditional hunting in France, by which I mean hunting on horseback, in livery, with horns, following a pack of hounds. Examples include Stéphan Levoye and my current favorite, Eric Dubos. Modern wrinkles include car followers dodging boar and crumpled French horns.

For more beyond this small sampling of images, please check out their websites.

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