Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Why Don’t You Have Any Pants On?

This isn’t a nudist colony; put some clothes on your characters!
Rebecca Mikkelson, CBD Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Oh, Sweet Baby Jesus, congratulations to us. We’ve finally made it to the end of this worldbuilding series, and if you’ve read this whole thing, you deserve a gold star. Two gold stars, even. I wanted to make this my last post in my series because often, clothing is the last thing that authors think about for their characters. Poetic, right? I thought so.
What do people wear?
What we wear is a reflection of our personality, and what our wants are...most of the time. There are always exceptions to the rule, like having to wear a school uniform or living in a time period or country that has religious restrictions on the type of clothing people—women, especially—can wear.  
Names of certain types of clothes can be a little tricky. When you go into specific articles, you can either do a fantastic job of describing it so there’s no question as to what the character is wearing, or you can name it. For the latter option, I would highly recommend adding A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern into your library.
Is it era-appropriate?
This is mostly going to be for the people who are writing historical fiction or historical fantasy, but it can be useful if you’re making up your world and having it set in an era based on Earth’s history like myself. First, you’ll need to figure out what century your story will be set in, be it the late 1800s during the Victorian or in the Renaissance in the 1300s.
My recommendation for an amazing visual guide—sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you see it, you know?—to putting realistic clothing in your world is What People Wore When. This book has served me, and others, very well. If you want the basics of what not to do in your fantasy world (or real-world Historical Fictions!), I’d give Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer's (& Editor's) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths a read.
Trends
Girl, that dress was so last season. 
Do your characters care about fashion trends? If they do, you’re going to need to figure out if they’re going to be the same fashion trends that we see in the real world, or if you’re going to be making them up all on your own. Maybe your fashion trend is going to be golden brassiers with flowing gossamer dresses that end in a cathedral train. Would it be ugly? Sure would. But beauty standards are determined by the masses following suit, not one person's opinion on how ugly a thing might be. And that’s also not to say that there aren’t ironic trends, where the wearing knows that the fashion is hideous but wears it anyway to fit in. 
Another thing you’ll need to consider about fashion trends is what happens if someone doesn’t follow them. Will they be a social outcast? Will anyone care? Only you can prevent forest fires decide.
Social Status
The richness of our clothes often reflects the wealth that the wearer has. So what are going to be some indicators in your world that someone is of a higher social class? Will they have lace collars that are made by nuns in the mountains who hand rear silkworms like they’re heaven on earth? Or will they have a jacket or dress made out of handmade velvet that can only be produced eight inches per day, costing $250 per yard? Do they have a dress dyed with the ridiculously rare and expensive ultramarine? Are they dripping with jewels?
On the flip side, how is someone shown as poor? Do they have holes in their clothes? Do they wear clothes made only of muslin? Is there a certain style of dress that the poor wear, such as plain day dresses rather than fancier dresses that require hoop skirts or bumrolls? Something as simple as length of fabric is a big indicator too since more fabric means a greater cost. Certain types of fabrics that are affordable to the masses? Do they only have simple silver or gold wedding bands when they marry instead of lavish precious stones—or have no jewelry at all?

Traditional Dress

I left this out of my talk about culture in You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?  so that I could talk about it here. These are going to be outfits that people wear at religious ceremonies, like a white robe at a baptism or a lehenga at an Indian wedding. 
So what traditions will you have a specific dress for? Will you have coming of age ceremonies where a teen becomes a woman and wears a wedding dress for all to see she’s marriageable—similar in a way to a quinceaƱera. Will you have solstice celebrations where men and women have certain clothes to wear and certain ways to do their hair? Do your religious orders have ceremonial robes that they were day-to-day or only on high holy days?
Knowing your traditions and what people wear for them will help make your world richer and more relatable to our everyday lives. 
Uniforms
This is also something that I left out in another blog post—This Means War! in case you were wondering—because it was already astronomically long, and it would fit better in this post anyway. However, this section isn’t going to focus solely on military uniforms, but uniforms in general. 
So what do people in your world need uniforms for? Do you have schools that only wear uniforms for their everyday wear so that all the students have to think about are their studies? Does your military have all one uniform, or do they have a daily working uniform and a dress uniform? Several dress uniforms? What colors are they?
Does your police force have a certain uniform, or do they wear normal clothes to do their jobs with a pin indicating their profession? Do your sports teams that have uniforms? What about prisons? Though, for some of these, it’s less a matter of whether they exist, but whether you need to mention them in your story.

Thanks for sticking it out with my worldbuilding series. Join us next week when we give some tips on taking an author photo. 

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Author Interview: Madison Wheatley

Thanks for talking with us today, Madison! Shall we dive right in? What inspired you to write Ambrosia?
Well, not surprisingly, I thought of this story while at the gym. My husband and I had recently joined a local YMCA. It was winter break, and we didn’t have much else to do, so there were days when we spent hours at the Y without intending to. Exercising was hard to start, but once I got into a “groove,” there were times I didn’t want to stop. My mind wandered a lot while I was in that state, and while running around the track, I thought, “What if I couldn’t stop working out?” So as I worked out that afternoon, the pieces clicked together for Ambrosia. I started planning a story about a girl who gets sucked into a magical gym and gradually loses her memories of the outside world. 

I think the gym is one of the best places to brainstorm—especially if you forget your earbuds. Are there any themes, symbols, or motifs in your story? 
Different themes will stand out to different readers. For me, though, the strongest theme in this novel is that of the consequences of burying one’s past. Crystal, the protagonist of Ambrosia, carries a load of regret and shame on her shoulders, especially when it comes to her ex-boyfriend’s death. Since his last words to her were a dig at her weight, she blames all of her pain on her body. This self-hatred is what causes her to obsess over Mount Olympus in the first place, and it’s what she must overcome if she has any hope of escaping. 

As for symbols and motifs, water is prevalent throughout the novel. I was a swimmer throughout childhood, and some of my favorite memories have involved water, so water shows up in a lot of my fiction and even some of my poetry. No surprises there. There are other symbols in the novel as well, but I’m not going to go over them. I’m an English teacher, after all, and if I start talking about symbols, before you know it, I’ll have typed a five-paragraph essay in MLA format, complete with works cited page. I’m more than happy to talk with readers about any symbolism they find interesting, though! 
We can be the same way when you get us on a subject. Let’s switch gears a little bit: who is your favorite character?
I’ve grown to love Crystal. I didn’t always feel that way. There were times I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and give her a good shake. I mean, it drove me crazy how she sabotaged her own happiness. However, beneath Crystal’s cynical exterior is an undercurrent of hope. Throughout the novel, this hope flickers and wanes, and at times, Crystal tries to snuff it out entirely. But it’s there all the same. I mentioned themes earlier, and the power of hope is another theme that ties the novel together.

I had fun writing the secondary characters, too. From Sasha—the over-excited receptionist at Mount Olympus—to Rory—the charming fitness enthusiast whom Crystal crushes hard over, each character has some little quirk that makes them fun to work with. 

Speaking of Crystal, she struggles a lot with self-confidence. Is this something you struggle with? 
Yep. I didn’t always struggle. As a kid, I had no shame; I was boisterous and rambunctious and didn’t care what anyone thought. As I transitioned into my teenage years, though, things changed, as they often do for teens. For a variety of different reasons, I became hyper-aware of myself. The opinions of my peers meant a lot to me, and it seemed that no matter what, I couldn’t seem to measure up. I was anxious, bigtime. 

I’d like to say that that anxiety has gone away, but it hasn’t. I’m working on it, though, which I know is something a lot of people my age can relate to. Crystal has gone through a lot of issues that I haven’t experienced, but her insecurity? I get that. Writing Ambrosia didn’t “fix” my self-confidence issues, but it did help me to explore them, which was cathartic in its own way. I hope that it will do the same for readers. 
We hope it can do the same for the readers, too! The gym is named Mount Olympus, and they have a drink called Ambrosia. Do you have a love of Greek mythology?
I find mythology in general fascinating; it’s something that my husband—a huge history and mythology nerd—love to bond over. Before I wrote Ambrosia, I didn’t intend to reference Greek mythology as much as I did, though. At first, only the concept was connected to it; the story was loosely based on the tale of the Lotus-Eaters in The Odyssey—an account of how Odysseus’s men were entranced by a magical flower that kept them from wanting to leave the island where it bloomed. But then, one thing led to another. I thought, “Ambrosia is a good name for this magical beverage.” By that point, naming the gym Mount Olympus seemed like the perfect way to tie it all together. 


That certainly does tie it all together. Tell us, who are your favorite authors? 
First, let me get a little nostalgic. As a teenager, I devoured novels by Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. They instilled in me a love of thrillers, and without them, I’m sure I wouldn’t have written Ambrosia in the first place. 

Throughout adulthood, there have been many authors that have inspired me as a writer, authors whose work boasts complex characters and strong themes. Some examples include Neil Gaiman, Blake Crouch, Tomi Adeyemi, Toni Morrison, Patrick Ness, and Gillian Flynn. 


Last question, and we’ll go ahead and wind this down. What can we expect next from you?
I’m working on a modern fantasy novel. It tells the story of a naiad-like creature—here I go again with Greek mythology!—from another universe who’s trying to learn the truth about her magical origins. I’m currently in the pre-writing stage, and I’m looking forward to knocking out a full draft during NaNoWriMo 2019! 


That sounds really interesting; we’re looking forward to it! Readers, don’t forget to join us for the launch party this Saturday for an opportunity to win a free print copy of Madison’s book!

If you can’t wait, you can get your copy here.



Ambrosia

By Madison Wheatley

Two words have haunted Crystal for years: fat pig.

So when a handsome and athletic stranger promises that his gym will change her life, how can she say no? With its cutting-edge facilities, beyond-friendly staff, and endless free samples of Ambrosia, their signature energizing sports drink, Mount Olympus seems too perfect to be real—and maybe it is. Crystal needs it all, but is she willing to lose more than just weight?

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

It’s the Arts, Darling

Art and entertainment within your world
Rebecca Mikkelson, CBD Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Art is an expression of who we are as people at any given time. It is how we communicate with others, through song, brushstroke, or poetic prose. There’s a huge variety of what can be used for the purpose of entertainment. So what will that look like in your world?

The Arts

All art isn’t just paintings from old dead men hanging up in museums. Sure, you’ll have that, and you’ll need to know what styles they're painted in, the kinds of colors are typically used, and other mediums art can be made in, like plays, operas, television, and movies. 
Physical arts
Your physical arts are going to be your paintings, sculptures, monuments, etc. Essentially, anything that is made by physically doing. What is this going to look like in your world? 
Let’s talk about paintings first. Some colors are extremely rare or dangerous to make, so what will your artists do in those situations? Will they have patrons to provide for them, or will it be added to the cost that they charge their clients for their work? We’ve had many different periods and styles of art throughout history, my favorite of which is during the Baroque period when Caravaggio uses Chiaroscuro. So, in your world, will you have art from bygone eras that your artists will strive to be like, or will everyone paint how they want, when they want?
Next, let’s talk about sculpture. It’s equally as old, if not older, than paintings. There are two kinds, though: additive and subtractive. Subtractive will be your carvings in wood and stone. Totem poles are one example, beautiful works of art that tell the history of people. Your additive sculptures will be works made out of clay, where layer upon layer is added, or parts of the sculpture are attached or enforced with metal.
But with either of these mediums, how are they going to be taught? Will artists only be true and respected if they’re members of a prestigious art society that abides by certain rules of creativity and style? Does it matter how one learns as long as they’re good at what they do?
Media arts
You might argue that visual media isn’t art, but it’s an art form in and of itself. Creating a scene in a TV show or a movie that evokes feelings is a powerful thing. In your world, will you have people who specialize in this? Trained actors who entertain the masses? Cinematographers who study for years in order to achieve the perfect shot?
Another thing you’ll want to think about if you do have actors and filmmakers is how they’ll interact with the general population. Will paparazzo hunt down actors to show pictures of their everyday life just because someone wants to see it? Will they just be everyday people whom everyone appreciates for their skill but doesn’t harass? 
Performing arts
These are going to be your plays, musicals, and operas, all of which need a lot of skill to present. So how will your performers learn? Are there drama and performing arts schools? Music guilds to teach the ways of song making? Are composers taught what they know, or do only prodigies create music for your world?
Also, who can see these types of performances? Are operas only for the rich, or can every social class enjoy them? Do opera singers come regularly to perform at great houses or palaces? Do the poor have their own troupes that tour the country and make a social commentary about what’s happening in the political sphere so the common people can understand what’s going on through comedy? If you do have these troupes, does the government allow them to make social commentary at the politicians’ and/or monarch’s expense without fear of reprisal, or do they have to bring news to the people at their own risk?

Other forms of entertainment

There are other forms of entertainment that aren’t happening en masse as the above arts. These are going to be things like reading, playing chess, cards games, etc.
Reading
Clearly, this is going to be an important topic for you. You’re here because you’re writing a book and want to know a little bit more about worldbuilding. But is reading popular in your world? Are your books going to be mostly histories written by scholars? Are you going to have fictional works in your world? Long-form fiction hasn't always been prevalent as it is today because of the sheer expense of owning a book. Before the advent of the printing press, books were made by hand. Depending on the setting of your story, only very few will have the finances and privilege of owning a book of any sort.
Games
Games help us pass the time, and, depending on the game, hone our minds. Sometimes, the games will even be pertinent to the plot and how it works, much like in Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series. Karigan eventually has to win a game of Intrigue in order to save her own life and the lives of others. 
Video Games 
These types of games will feature more in your sci-fi or sci-fi fantasy works that are set in a time period where video games are viable forms of entertainment.  These can either be used to unwind or be professions as they are in today’s world. There are many who professionally play video games and even get sponsorships the same way you would in the world of skiing and other single-player sports. 
Gambling
How many people have we heard of who have gambling problems? Well...probably not a lot, but books, TV shows, and movies do have characters who are down on their luck because of a gambling problem. Now, you don’t have to have an unsuccessful, down-on-their-luck gambler in your world, but it is definitely a historied form of entertainment. These will include everything from card games and dice to betting on which team wins in whatever game someone is watching. 
So, what kind of games, if any, do you plan on having in your world? Something entirely new that you’ve made up? Familiar card games like Go Fish, or strategy games like chess? Who will play them, and will they be period specific?
Bread and Circuses
This is a slightly different beast but deserves mentioning nonetheless. Bread and circuses, according to Merriam-Webster, is a palliative offered especially to avert potential discontent. In other words, an appeasement by the government in giving food and entertainment to avoid any violence and uprising. These would be things like gladiator games where the poor were given bread so they had something to eat and keep them entertained or free public jousting tourneys where food and beer were plentiful. 
Go, Team!
Oh, look, the person hit the ball thing and people are cheering! How, uh, sporting?
Normally, this would go under games, but it really does tie into the idea of bread and circuses very well. Sports, such as football or the ancient Mayan game of Pitz, bring the masses together in a camaraderie unlike anything else. They provide structured and controlled outlets for natural urges toward violence and tribalism. Older sports were also used to keep warriors in peak mental and physical form since they usually involved martial skill and strategy.
What also ties into the bread and circuses is all the food that’s sold or made at these sporting events. These are things quintessential to some sports. Take baseball for example—you can’t go to a baseball game without getting a hotdog to enjoy while watching your favorite team play. And at football games, tailgating is almost a sport in itself to see who can make the best ribs or have the most fun at their pre-game bash. 

Join me next week for my final post in this worldbuilding series when I talk about clothing.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

What do you mean I’m going to live in a hut?

Knowing the construction in your world
Rebecca Mikkelson, CBD Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Everyone has to live somewhere, but what is that going to look like in your world? People have lived everywhere from caves to huts to rich palaces with several different types of material used for their construction. So what is that going to look like in your world?

Where will people live?

People are adaptable; they can live in almost any condition, provided that it’s not cold enough that they will freeze to death or have their blood boil within minutes of stepping outside a climatized home. Now, if you’re writing a sci-fi novel, your people could live in a climate controlled colony on Venus for all I know, but in that case, you’ve already figured out how, where, and what they’re going to live in, and this post might not be for you.
People peopleing everywhere
Your city’s architecture is going to be different than that of the country. Cities are generally in closer quarters, but what does that mean for your people? Depending on your time period, that means highrises, high pollution, and few possessions within the household because of space constraints. But, this isn’t the only thing you’ll want to think about when constructing your city.
One important thing to think about is how your city will be laid out. Will you follow the example of, say, New York, where it runs on a grid system that is blessedly easy to navigate once you’ve got your bearings? Or will it be closer to Washington DC, which also runs on a grid system but is far more complicated to figure out? Or will your city operate on something entirely different that expands its roadways as the needs of the city grow like the random mishmash of streets that is Seattle? The latter is particularly useful if you have scallywags within your story that need to run from the law. 
Population will be a driving factor in is what is considered a city versus a town or village. Speaking of the population, will any people be relegated to certain parts of the city, like the Jews who went to Rome were? Affordability and discrimination of peoples are often how cities end up with certain demographics to a region, but it will ultimately be up to you on how that’s going to run in your world. 
Lastly, I want to talk about how the interior of the living quarters will be laid out. In cities, we see everything from studio apartments to multistory townhouses. Economics will also come into play when you’re making the decisions; will the poor suffer with having to live several to a house, or even a room, and will the rich have entire blocks devoted to their own homes? Will the latter be made for opulence? Will it be a great achievement for your poorer denizens to get into something larger than a single room?
I wanna be where the people aren’t
As mentioned above, there are less densely populated living spaces, so now I want to touch on those and what that could mean for your people.  For the people who live in, say, a hamlet, how will their houses be built? Are they going to be clustered together, spread far apart so each person can have their own field to labor in? How will they make any sort of repairs to their homes, being so far away from everything? Or will the people be servants to the lord of the land and be either serfs or indentured servants where their general needs for repair and replenishment are taken care of for them?
There are other options for dwellings; there is still a province in China where people live in caves. So, if your people have this option, is there a social hierchy to who gets the best cave? Or any social hierarchy for a village? Are there elders who approve what can and cannot be done, a medieval homeowners association, if you will?

Building materials

In the order of things, this really should go first...sort of. Location is going to determine the type of building materials needed and how easy or expensive it would be to import said materials. Will your story be more modern and have plywood and drywall, or will your buildings be made from cut logs and mud or stone?
We also can’t forget the tools that accompany building. Today, we would be remiss if we didn’t use a level to make sure what we were building was straight and perfect, but what if you don’t have those in your world? How will your builders make sure that things are level? Don’t forget, with almost every modern invention of power tool, there was an archaic version first that you can find the name of with just a little bit of research.
How things are built
We’ve talked about schools before, so in your world will people be formally trained in architecture and construction? Is it a skills that’s taught at home by every father to their son to make sure that they’re self-sufficient and can build their family a home no matter where they go? Will construct go by way of magic in your world and you have a class of mages that specialize in home construction? 
It’s up to you how you want to handle the building of your structures, but make sure that you know how it’s done if it ever comes up in your work.
Grand scale buildings
Your grand scale buildings are going to be things like your castles, manor homes, palaces, and cathedrals, where you’ll need people who excel in artisanal decoration. If you have a guild set up for architecture, will only the guild master be able to work on such a project because of his or her prestige in the craft? Will you have people skilled enough to make glass windows, and will they be affordable for anyone or just for the rich? Will there be anyone who specializes in stained glass for decoration for the cathedrals? Will you have someone who knows how to do the math to make sure the pendentives and squinches will work within the building’s structure or how to build flying buttresses to perfection?
If you want to avoid these areas in your description, that’s fine, but if you do want to put these kinds of details in your work I would recommend getting either Understanding Architecture, or A History of Architecture.
Amenities
Finally, the fun part. These are going to be your heating/cooling, running water, and appliances. Depending on the world that you create, you might not have all of these. While nice, they sometimes just don’t fit the story. It would be odd to see someone with a root cellar that they use to keep their vegetables fresh two chapters down the road talking about having a ceiling fan powered by electricity to keep the occupants cool in the summer months.
You can certainly break rules if you’d like, like having a civil war era house with a kitchen built within its walls instead of being a separate building (in case it wasn’t obvious, it was so if a fire started in the kitchen, it wouldn’t burn the whole house down), but at least try to make sure that the types of amenities make sense within the world that you’ve created and the time period you have it set.

Join me next week when I talk about art and entertainment.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Get in My Belly!

The hows and whats of eating
Rebecca Mikkelson, CBD Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Food—it’s something we all enjoy, some of us more than others. But have you thought about how it interacts within your world?

Grow for me

Without farmers, we would have no mass production of food. (That is, unless you’re growing things hydroponically in the future, but arguably, they would still be considered farmers.) What you’ll want to think about is what kind of crops your farmers will grow and what climate they need to be grown in. 
This will feed into what kind of trade relations you might have in your world. For example, if you have a cooler climate in your book, you’ll need to trade with another country that has temperate to warmer climates in order to provide wheat, a staple in people’s diet, to your denizens.
Another thing to consider with farming is the need for crop rotations. Too many seasons with the same crop growing in the same field will deplete the correct nutrients and make those fields null for any further planting of said crop.
Lastly, and most importantly, you’re going to need to think about the kinds of weather happen where people are growing food. If there are regular dry spells, will farmers have built irrigation systems to make sure that all the crops are watered to perfection? And on the flip side, if there are lots of storms that produce massive quantities of rain, will there be drainage systems in place to make sure that the crops don’t develop root rot and die? Or, in the case of lots of rain, will the farms specialize in growing crops that require massive amounts of water, like rice?
Transportation
Lest we forget that food has to travel, how will it happen in your world? Cities obviously will not have a sustainable way to grow food for its entire population, so who will be doing the import/export of food? Will the country send half of their crops to the cities to be sold for profit and keep the rest for themselves and local sales? Is there a government regulated agriculture that ensures that all of its constituents get fed? Do the farmer’s families travel daily to markets to sell their own wares in farmers markets from city to city to make a living?
Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet
I’ve talked before about the kind of fauna that you have in your world in This Land is My Land, but I want to talk about it a little bit more here. Depending on what kind of society you have and the time period in which it’s set, your people will be living off the land in order to get any sort of meat in their diet. 
You’ll need to figure out what kind of animals will be in each region of your world based on climate and what would be readily available for your people. This will range from your quadrupedal animals to the ones in the lakes, rivers, and oceans. 

Don’t we have something to eat?

With the resources available, what kinds of meals will your people be eating? Will the poor be eating vastly different from the rich? I mean, of course, they will just because of the difference in resources. But what I mean is, are your poorer citizens eating rice and beans three to five times a week, or will they have regular game mixed in? And on the opposite end of the spectrum, historically in England, the rich were able to have rich diets of regular game pies, while the expense deterred the poorer citizens from having it but a few times a year at holidays or special occasions.
For those who are writing historical fictions or fantasy novels that are set in eras that don’t have today’s basic amenities, here’s a timeline of food and recipes from ancient to present. 
Holidays
Speaking of special occasion meals, what kind will be in your world? A fair amount of our holidays where we have special meals revolve around religious observances (Christmas, Easter, Passover), but there are others that are not seated in religion, such as Mother’s Day, Independence Day where we have BBQs and fireworks, and Thanksgiving. 
Will you have holidays such as these that have large parties and equally large dinners? And if there are, what kind of food will be served with it?
What the fork?
Boy, oh boy, is there a lot of information out there about utensils, and it’s far more than I can cover in this small section here. There could be dozens upon dozens of books written on the subject, and we still probably wouldn’t know everything there is to know about utensils and how they’ve changed what we eat, how we eat it, and how it tastes when we eat it. For now, I want to touch a little bit about what I learned in this delightful podcast, GastroPod, co-hosted by Cynthia Grabber and Nicola Twilley.
Throughout history, our hands have been our greatest tool for eating. Gross, right? Getting all that grease on your hands when you can just use your fork. If you can believe it, the fork was not a widely accepted table utensil until the 1700s, and even then, it wasn’t the kind of fork that we use today. Forks first gained their popularity in Italy to be able to eat pasta.  For the meals that can’t be eaten with your hands, a spoon can be fashioned from things such as shells, and if not available, you can simply use bowls and drink your meal rather than use cutlery. 
Another thing people used throughout history was their own personal knives. Even while going to an eatery, or at a feast in a hall, people would use their own knives that they used for cutting meat, or anything else that presented some sort of challenge. Bear in mind, these knives would be used for other things besides eating, and it’s sometimes a wonder how we survived as long as we have. So, what you want to think about while you’re setting your character’s table is what would their time period and culture reasonably use, and what kind of manners would they use for such utensils. If you want to hear a little bit more about this, author and historian Bee Wilson and co-hosts of the podcast linked above cover a little bit of it.
Lastly, because I want to geek out on this, I want to talk about the kinds of materials you want to use for your utensils because they will vastly affect the taste that goes along with the food. Throughout history, we’ve used everything from wood to gold to make our eating utensils, and wood is going to make your mashed potatoes and roast taste far different than what it would if you were eating it with a stainless steel fork, or even a silver one. While crafting your world, especially if it’s based on our own world’s timeline, you’ll need to think about when these types of inventions came into place because before the twentieth century, we didn’t have any metals treated like stainless steel. One reason why this is important is if your people have a diet of fish that’s tpyically spritzed with lemon, if they’re using steel or iron utensils, your characters are going to have a chemical reaction in their mouths that isn’t going to taste very good.
You don’t have to go into this type of depth in your world unless you really want to, but making sure that these kinds of things are on your radar is never going to hurt the richness of the world you want to create. 

Join me next week when I talk about architecture. 

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Author Interview: B. B. Morgan

B. B., thanks for chatting with us today! Let’s dive right in: What inspired you to write Stars and Bones: A Thief in the Castle?

Stars and Bones started out as a vague and uninspired fantasy story idea. I lacked the needed enthusiasm, so it sat on my computer. It was early fall, and I planned on attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time, so I thought I’d let the fantasy story idea sit and ferment. I then read the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Mass—yes, the entire series. All but the final book were out, and I devoured the series in about a week and a half. I LOVED it. I hadn’t had a book keep me up until dawn reading since Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Then the mythical ray of inspiration struck, and I had a whole new plan for my vague fantasy story. I still wanted to use it for NaNoWriMo, so rather than writing, I planned. I built the world, designed the characters, and made notes for possible scenes. I made a vague outline, and every time I went into the doc, I added more and more. I couldn’t stop thinking about the story I was making. I’d never been in love with a project so much. It bordered on obsession. 

I didn’t make it to NaNoWriMo. The last week in October, I gave in. I wrote the rough draft of what would later become Stars and Bones: Thief in the Castle in about a week, and I spent November turning that rough draft into a first draft. 
Wow, that’s pretty incredible that you wrote a rough draft in a single week! Are there any themes, symbols, or motifs in your story? 

Probably. Anything I write tends to have themes of girls seeking adventure and a way out of their current situation. There is also a fictional character that is often mentioned. His name is Leon Stark, and he is the subject of adventure and romance novels within my novels. He’s not in every single one, but he’s in several. He’s like James Bond, but fantasy and typically a pirate of some kind. 
Readers will definitely have to search for him during your series. Speaking of characters, who is your favorite?

I love Juniper. She’s smart, headstrong, and can be brash and selfish. She’s driven by her heart, even if she wouldn’t think so. She’s been dealt a crappy hand in life, but she’s making the best of it. She is a “learn to swim or drown” kind of girl and obeys laws when they suit her. She’s clever enough to know when she can bend laws and logic to fit her desires. She’s also aware of when her actions might affect others. 
I would say that Juniper is also my favorite. How did you craft your world? 

Painstakingly and over time. From conception to what I could consider a finished world, it took about a year or so. I would add things and places and concepts as I thought of them, so I ended up with A LOT of little notes in my purse from when I’d think of something cool at work. I’d scribble it down and stuff it in my desk or in my pocket. I had one piece of scrap paper (I don’t have it anymore, because I hate clutter) where I detailed Mage’s Bane. I scribbled down effects, history, ingredients, and things like that. 

Sometimes that’s the only way to do it. Is it difficult at all to keep track of all the magic in your book?

It’s been difficult to keep track of everything! I have a red notebook on my desk where I wrote down everything I made up when I made it up, so things like names and character descriptions and spells and anything that I might need to reference later. Proper nouns, events, history, lore. It all went into the notebook. 
I have one of those too, but even with that, it can be hard to keep track of everything. How did you decide on a setting? Is it based off of anywhere you’ve been in real life?

The setting of Rusdasin is very much like southern Illinois in the sense of climate and landscape: mostly flat, spotted with forests, with touches of the Shawnee National Forest. The city part is a cumulation of the few cities that I’ve been to and what I’ve imagined reading other fantasy books and watching travel shows. I don’t physically travel; I watch TV. 
I think a lot of people do that. Let’s switch gears a little bit: Who are your favorite authors? 

I’ll read anything by Sarah J. Mass and V. E. Schwab. I’m also a fan of Stephanie Garber, Holly Black, and Rebecca Ross. 

We’ll have to add some of them to our reading lists. Before we let you go, we’ve got one last question for you: What can we expect next from you?
I’ve got a steampunk/fantasy trilogy coming soon. The first of which is hitting later this year and is called Hard as Stone. I’ve also got a handful of WIP, including a gender-bent Aladdin retelling that I’ve been working on for about two years.  


Those all sound great! Thanks for chatting with us today, B. B. 

You can find her upcoming novel, Stars and Bones: Thief in the Castle here for preorder. Don’t forget to join us this Saturday for the launch party and a chance to win a free paperback copy!



Thief in the Castle
By B. B. Morgan

The notorious Juniper Thimble is destined for execution. Caught stealing the king’s crown—in addition to her long list of crimes—she has only one way out. Juniper must survive the biggest, most deadly con of her life, commissioned by the king himself. Disguised as the crown prince’s lover, she is forced to protect him with her life…literally. Guarded by a surly squire, relentlessly attacked by demons, and surrounded by mysteriously disappearing servants, Juniper must dispatch the threat to the prince’s life before they find out who she really is.

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