Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Kindle Dream Jar

Kindle Jar

Because it’s hard to read and review other awesome authors if we always have to sit by the desktop to do it. I think there’s $10 in there so far, so we’ll have a Kindle around… September?

The Circle of Books

Lately, I’ve come across a very beautiful thing. An author’s support ring. While seeking advice from other published authors charitable with advice, I learned something valuable: you get what you give. What goes around comes around. Pretty general cliché stuff, right? Nope, just a little truth that rings out in many settings.

You see, as indie authors quickly learn, putting your words into publication has become the easier part of the process. With enough money, the right software, the right publisher… you can successfully publish absolute drivel. Or a riveting, earth-shaking novel. Either way, nobody is going to even know you’re published unless you get your name out there. Even more… nobody is even going to care.

You need people to support you, who want to see you succeed. People who think you’re cool enough to recommend to others. People who will share around your Amazon link. People who can tell you where you’re messing up, and the best way to fix the problem so you can move on to greatness.

If I intended to publish for a group of 20 friends, I don’t need to go any further. If I intend to push my work out there, to test my limits, to learn and grow and play in the ranks of the many good authors out there, I need to do a little more work.

My author ring grows. It’s a warm, comfortable, welcoming place to be. They read my blog, and they respond. They offer valuable advice. They recommend books to read and review, which helps out either them or another in their ring. In addition to helping them, I’ve been highly entertained by some very worthy fiction.

And just today, Anna Meade from my author ring opened up Nine Muse Press, with that same intent.

It goes deeper, though…

Nine Muse Press also publishes!

This is where I clasp my hands in earnest anticipation… hope… daydreams… and admit I still have a lot of work to do. A lot of networking. A lot of giving before karma cycles about my way.

So far, Nine Muse Press has published one book, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire.

edgar wilde

Soon to come: Orison by Daniel Swensen. Hey… that book sounds familiar!

Orison

Is there any hands-clasping hope that NMP will publish Minstrel, or Heroes, or Legacy? I’m sure every other author in Ms. Meade’s author’s ring asked himself or herself the same question today, regarding their work.

I’m up for the challenge. Bring it on! Give me the books to read and review, the friendships to cultivate. Give me the constructive criticism I need to become greater. Someday, I’ll have paid my dues and will be ready for karma to come back my way.

Do you want to help out a newly published author? Visit NMP’s books page and download Edgar Wilde… it’s not expensive at all! I’m downloading it tonight.

Seeds of Growth

It’s seed-starting season again. Tomorrow I’ll start eggplant, peppers, and cipollini onions. On the 15th, I’ll start tomatoes and basil. We grow just about any food item we can at our climate… within reason. Bell peppers won’t grow enough to save me money, and watermelons grown within a high desert region aren’t worth my time.

This leads perfectly into a blog post about accuracy of crops and foods within stories. When I read the Dragonlance Chronicles in my early 20s, I found myself distracted that Otik served spiced fried potatoes in a society that mimics medieval Europe. But then, a series based on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign can use all the artistic license it wants, for whatever it wants.

If a work is even moderately historically based, though, what crops would your characters have grown? I’ll go deeper into each of these in later blogs, but here’s a general outline. All pictures have been borrowed from Wikipedia.

Nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes): Nightshades existed in ancient and medieval Europe, though most people avoided them because of the danger of belladonna, or deadly nightshade. Belladonna served as an excellent painkiller, up to the point of death. The first cultivation of nightshades appeared in the terraced hillsides of Andean South America, and came to the Old World during European exploration. Potatoes became a staple crop in Northern Europe in the 18th century.  Tomatoes arrived in Europe between 1548 and 1590, but were primarily ornamental.  It was still considered unfit for eating, and wasn’t widely used in British cuisine until the mid-18th century.  Eggplant (aubergine) originated in the Indian subcontinent but isn’t recorded in England until the 16th century.  Again, it was long thought to be poisonous.  Capsicum peppers were cultivated in America for thousands of years and came to Europe with Spanish conquistadores.

belladonna berry

Belladonna, or deadly nightshade

Alliums (onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, chives): Traces of onion remnants have been found in Bronze Age settlements, and the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament suggests cultivation of leeks, onions, and garlic took place in ancient Egypt. Ancient Greeks believed onions lightened the balance of blood. Medieval farmers used them to pay rent and as gifts. Christopher Columbus introduced cultivated onions to America, but found that Native Americans already used wild onions as food, medicine, or dyes. Natives in northern California still harvest a variety of wild onion from high elevations.

wild onion

Wild onions growing in the high mountains of California

Curcubits (squash, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins): Squash first appeared on the Andean terraces. (Though people try to claim otherwise, a pumpkin is just another shape of squash.) In the New World, agrarian Native Americans planted a “Three Sisters” or “Iroquois” system where beans climbed up corn, with squash surrounding the roots as mulch. Numbers 11:5 of the Old Testament suggests cucumbers and melons grew in ancient Egypt, and early American settlers grew honeydew and casaba as early as the 1600s.

melons

Melons growing in India

Root crops (carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips): Ancestors of the carrot are likely to have come from Iran and Afghanistan, though the first mention of the root in classical sources is in the 1st century. The modern carrot appears to have been introduced to Europe in the 8-10th centuries, with mention of it in Arab agriculture in the 12th century. Eastern carrots (Iran) are yellow or purple, and western carrots (emerging in the Netherlands) are orange. Parsnips are native to Eurasia and have been mentioned in Greek and Roman literature. Beets spread from the Mediterranean to Babylonia by the 8th century BC and as far east as China by 850 AD. Romans considered beets an important health food and aphrodisiac, and it became commercially important with the development of the sugar beat in 19th century Europe.

carrot

A variety of carrots

Pulses (peas, beans, lentils, vetches): Cultivated since ancient Egyptian and Indus times, pulses are mentioned in the Old Testament when Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel chose to eat vegetables and pulses rather than the king’s rich food. In medieval times, farmers recognized the value of crop rotation as pulses fixed nitrogen in the soil for future harvests, and they also grew these as fodder crops for animals.  Beans in the Americas date back as far as the second millennium BC in Peru, and came north along the Atlantic seaboard in pre-Columbian times.

pulses

Beans

Brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips): Originally cultivated in India for their oil-bearing seeds, turnips became a well-established crop in Hellenistic and Roman times. Domestication of mustards and radishes took place over west Asia and Europe. Nordic countries used turnip as a staple crop before its replacement with the potato. It is difficult to trace the exact history of cabbage, but it was domesticated in Europe before 1000 BC and became a prominent part of medieval European cuisine. Broccoli derived from leafy cole crops in the Northern Mediterranean about 6th century BC. It arrived in England in the mid-18th century. Cauliflower arrived in France from Genoa in the 16th century.

radishes

Radishes

Lettuce and spinach: Ancient Egyptians first cultivated lettuce from a weed. It spread to the Greeks and Romans. Medieval cultivars used it primarily as a medicinal herb. Many varieties developed in Europe between the 16th and 18th century. Spinach originated in ancient Persia, then Arab traders carried it into India and ancient China. In AD 827, the Saracens introduced it to Sicily, where it spread as far up as Germany by the 13th century. It appeared in England and France in the 14th century.

spinach

Spinach

Grains and seeds: Neolithic founder crops include barley, flax, and emmer/einkorn wheat. Egypt and the Indian subcontinent farmed wheat and barley as early as 7000 BC. In the Far East, rice served as the primary crop. Corn began more than 6000 years ago as Mesoamerican wild teosinte then spread to North America by the time of European exploration. Sunflowers began with Native Americans in the Eastern United States. Medieval Europeans grew wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Teff grew as a staple grain in ancient Ethiopia. Wild rice originated in North America. Amaranth was a staple crop of the Aztec Empire, and quinoa originated in the Andes.

grain

Threshing; Tacuinum Sanitatis, 14th century.

Fruit: Natives of Eastern U.S. developed domesticated strawberries. Apples originated in Turkey around 328 BC, where Alexander the Great brought it back to Macedonia. From there it spread through Europe as a staple crop. Buckets of apples have been found in the Oseberg ship burial site in Norway. Colonists brought apples to North America in the 17th century. Believed to have originated in western China, pears spread quickly through Europe, where Romans ate them cooked and raw, and Henry III of England received them as a gift from La Rochelle-Normande. Though consumed since ancient times, records show the first cultivated cherry was brought to Rome from Turkey. Cherries first entered England by order of Henry VIII. Citrus originated in Southeast Asia, and has been cultivated since ancient times. It spread to ancient Greece and Rome. Lemons were known to the Jews of Jerusalem by 90 B.C., then entered southern Italy no later than the 1st century AD. Substantial cultivation of the lemon occurred in Genoa in the mid 15th century, and traveled to America with Christopher Columbus. By the 19th century, British sailors used limes to prevent scurvy while at sea, acquiring the nickname “Limey.”

Heracles with the apple of Hesperides

Heracles with the apple of Hesperides

Coffee: Though coffee grew in ancient Ethiopia, the first credible evidence of coffee drinking appears in the mid-15th century in Yemen. It spread to Italy after 1583, and the first European coffee house opened in Italy in 1645. It became popular in England, France, and Austria within 15 years of that. Frenchmen brought it to Martinique in the Caribbean, from which arabica coffee descended. Introduced to Brazil in 1727, it gained momentum after 1822 and took up cultivation within Central America in the latter half of the 19th century.

coffee

The Coffee Bearer, Orientalist painting by John Frederick Lewis (1857).

Spices: The spice trade developed through South Asia and the Middle East around 2000 BC with cinnamon and pepper. The Egyptians used herbs for embalming, and by 1000 BC medicinal systems based on herbs could be found in China, Korea, and India. Spices are mentioned in the Old Testament, in Genesis and Song of Solomon. Nutmeg entered Europe in the 6th century BC. By medieval Europe, costly spices included black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, with medicine’s main theory that it balanced “humors” in food. Medieval spices that have fallen into obscurity in European cuisine include grains of paradise, long pepper, mace, spikenard, galangal, and cubeb. The Republic of Venice controlled spice trade with the Middle East from the 8th to the 15th centuries. Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama sailed to India in 1499 seeking control of trade routes. About the same time, Christopher Columbus returned from the new world describing new spices available there such as allspice, bell and chili peppers, vanilla, and chocolate.

Spices in an Indian market

Spices in an Indian market

Minstrel Update

I don’t have much to say today… except that my newest short-term goal is to finish proofreading/editing Minstrel and have it ready to send to my beta readers by the end of the month.  113 single-spaced pages are checked, with 123 left.  Luckily, I have a low client load and it’s not gardening season yet.

Does anyone else write in single-spaced format?  I’ve had it drilled into me so often that double spacing is correct format for submission, but I find it distracting when I’m writing.  It disrupts the flow.

Proving Maslow

I dwell within the “Surviving, Not Thriving” set. I socialize there. I eat and sleep there. It’s who I am. Who my friends are. And though we all strive for higher, for the “thriving” goal, we may never quite reach it.  The creative accomplishments within this set, though, are phenomenal.

A friend recently introduced me to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I didn’t know such a structure existed until I posted on Facebook, “Today I’m digging for the inspiration to get up and find some motivation.” We both agreed that, some days, we dwell on the bottom of the pyramid. We manage to feed ourselves, get up and shower. But writing or creating artwork, or anything that separates a civilization from a dwelling, just doesn’t happen. But more often… it does.

hierarchy of needs

A few months ago, my family watched a documentary called Happy. As the filmmakers traveled through several continents, they interviewed people who lived in slums and claimed their lives were filled with joy. The narrator stated that, at the point where humanity’s basic needs are met, they then blossom with goals or creativity. They move up Maslow’s scale.

happy movie

You can watch the movie here, free.  http://www.thehappymovie.com/film/

Most of my friends have successfully moved up Maslow’s scale, but are not “successful” by society’s terms. The description “starving artist” fits them very well.

Often I hear, “If only I had a bit more money. I could…” Fill in the blank. They could travel to Scotland, publish that book, open up that gallery, establish that sustainable farm. It sounds like a lot of dreaming, sometimes like whining. Yet as I pay closer attention to my friends, I realize that money is the only thing holding them back. Really, it is. They’ve done the rest of the work. They’ve researched their Scottish ancestors. They’ve written the book. They’ve created beautiful canvases worth hundreds of dollars, and they’ve educated themselves about how to live completely off the grid. They just need the money.

Joe planting flowers

To the “Surviving, Not Thriving” set, money seems to be the answer. Often we look at the middle class and think, “If we were just there, we could…” Fill in the blank. But then, if money was the only missing factor here, why isn’t the middle class “there”? Why aren’t they opening up art galleries or submitting manuscripts?

To be fair, I step back and compare friends of both middle class and “SNT” class. These names are the first ones on my Facebook friends list, and are abbreviated to protect the innocent.

From the “SNT” class…
D: Learned how to make soap and opened up an Etsy shop.
E: Last year, she built her own chicken coop and started a flock. This year, she’s learning how to garden in her climate.
K: Gave me my first cheese-making lesson! Now she’s researching how to live with a dietary intolerance without spending additional money she doesn’t have.
L: Caught in a situation most would find depressing and hopeless, she crochets stunning baby dresses to supplement her income.
R: Stuck at home because of a health condition, she makes jewelry to sell on Etsy. She also promotes her friends’ small businesses and non-profit charities.

Now I’m going to find those on my Facebook list who are “middle class”.
C: Owns some nice cars. I don’t know much else about him, since he’s only an online friend.
N: Always fashionable and well dressed, she always seems to be at the right gatherings, but isn’t artistic at all.
S: A stay-at-home mom who compliments her sister’s creative efforts but hasn’t tried many of her own.
J: Spends her day driving around and helping out needy ladies within our church. Admits that she’s never made a loaf of bread or stitched a quilt.

The list is shorter because, as I said, I socialize in the “SNT” set. And though the “middle class” set has some amazing accomplishments, I find that they’re not as creative.
In fact, I can categorize the reception I get to my own efforts by the class of the speaker. Those in the “middle class” set may express appreciation and admiration for my creative efforts. Those in the “SNT” set express admiration and a desire to learn that skill. Often they share skills of their own that they strive to achieve.

So I wonder: does comfort breed complacency? Does complacency kill creativity?

Every one of my friends who strives to thrive, who has admitted that their lives are their own, who have managed to provide basic needs… are creating. They’re building. They’re expanding. It’s stunning how many lawns are transformed into gardens, how many computers hold unpublished manuscripts. They have come so far that all they need is the money to pay an editor, or the credit to buy that 10-acre sustainable farm.

Sahara

Once they admit that they can rise up Maslow’s scale, and proceed to do so, it’s not long before they’re at the top.

So is it that constant work to survive, trying to thrive, that fuels this creativity? Maybe it’s boredom that kills it, and the action of working toward progress propels it? And those people who already thrive, who don’t have to work as hard for basic comforts… do they have to work harder to achieve Maslow’s top level and actually create something?

Art Imitates Life?

The old image, strong but generic: 

Brown skirts moved between him and Shamus.  A sword flashed.

“Céard atá ar siúl agat?”  In an appalled voice, a woman demanded to know what they were doing.  “Bómánta!”  Stupid, she called them.

The arm around Liam’s throat loosened enough that Liam could take a breath.  As his vision cleared, he focused on a girl.  A furious girl holding a sword, her flaxen hair long and unbound, as if the brawl had disturbed her primping.

Cuir stad le comharc!”

The tribesmen obeyed, but only within reason.  They stopped throwing punches but those holding men in submission did not let go.  The farmers stopped fighting but stood ready.  One of them lay face down, with a tribesman’s foot on his back.

Shamus’ eyes fluttered open.

The girl continued to yell at them.  Some of the tribesmen regarded her with belligerence, standing down but scowling back at her.  Others hung their heads from the chastisement.

Amadán,” she called them.  Idiots.  “Fiáin,” savages.

Liam waited for her to order the tribesman to release him, but she was more intent on telling them how stupid they were.

Shamus stared up at the girl.  He broke into laughter, disturbing her tirade.  She stared back down at him, aghast.  “Aerdra?” he said.

Her eyebrows rose.

“You’ve grown up, haven’t you?”

She blinked at him then said in broken Alosian, “Who are you?”

He flashed a bloody grin.  “Where’s Sonagh?” he asked.

The new image, a lot stronger:

Brown skirts moved between him and Shamus.  Sunlight glistened over something wet and slimy.

“Céard atá ar siúl agat?”  In an appalled voice, a woman demanded to know what they were doing.  “Bómánta!”  Stupid, she called them.

The arm around Liam’s throat loosened enough that Liam could take a breath.  As his vision cleared, he focused on a girl.  With a pale blonde braid swinging behind her, she held a bloody knife in one hand and a pale, slick tube about the length of her forearm in another.

Cuir stad le comharc!”

The clansmen obeyed, but only to stop and stare at her.  They stopped throwing punches but those holding men in submission did not let go.  The farmers stopped fighting but stood ready.  One of them lay face down, with a clansman’s foot on his back.

One of the clansmen snickered and muttered something.  The girl glared at him and threw the slimy tube at him.  It flopped at Liam’s feet, gathering dirt.  Pinkish white with red veins, it appeared to be a newly shucked rabbit pelt, still inside out.  The clansmen laughed, and she hissed something comparable to, “Shut up.”

Shamus’ eyes fluttered open.

The girl continued to yell at them, her braid swinging with her ardent movements.  Most of the clansmen smirked back at her.  Only a few hung their heads from the chastisement.

The professionals say, “Write what you know.”  I’ve skinned rabbits, and I’ve broken up fights… but never at the same time.

A Fool of Ships

 ship 1

Hiding on Lord Bryant’s fief, Shamus considered fighting for the crown, or at least for the people of Cynegil. While the king entreated his sycophant nobles, the countryside weltered in drought. Riordan blamed his brother for all discord. Even Shamus’ attempts to save food had incited a riot within the peasantry. Now with a price on his head, the fugitive prince considered fighting for a people that did not want him. He also considered moving forward. When he had arrived at Bryant’s estate, he found farmers and craftsmen who had also grown weary of Riordan’s wasteful opulence, men who acknowledged where the true problem lay. They all wanted to move forward.

Riordan and most of the southern nobles had always considered Shamus’ work with the northern clans to be foolery. Years of work with the wildmen taught Shamus whom he could trust. When Liam arrived at the fief, hidden deep in the belly of the players’ wagon, Shamus shared his plan: take those farmers and craftsmen, and try to convince the Daoine Ban clans to let them settle.

Shamus had several hundred discontent yet able-bodied people to transport to a better land. He needed a ship. Not just any ship. He needed a chronologically accurate ship.

Somewhere between the Roman galleys and the Santa Maria, something happened. Well, actually, not much happened. Not much at all. As with artwork and architecture, not a lot of progression occurred in the medieval maritime world. When fantasy books and films depict ships, they tend to lean toward roomy and streamlined models like the Spanish galleons. Those were just more effective, more beautiful, more… impressive.

galleon

A medieval cog was not.

cog drawing medieval

If I’m going to write about ringmail instead of chainmail or plate armor, about costumes called houppelandes and cotehardies, I cannot use a galleon as a ship. I needed a cog.

For anyone who isn’t so familiar with medieval terminology, I’m writing a milieu with the equivalent of 13th Century Europe. Yes, it’s fantasy. Yes, I have artistic license to stretch things a bit. But only a moderate amount of stretching can occur before a story becomes contrived. If I’m going to use a galleon, why don’t I just have my soldiers fighting in riveted ringmail, pulling their flintlock pistols from their holsters? If I want to adhere to the right milieu and avoid anachronism, I have to use the right wardrobe, the right armor and weapons… the right ships.

Santa-Maria

Before galleons of the 16th and 17th centuries, Europe had carracks and caravels. Columbus’ Santa Maria has been described as either a carrack or a caravel. That takes us from the 1700s, down to 1492. I still needed to go back a few centuries.

knarr

What about a viking knarr? This fits the right time period, but not the right purpose. First of all, Shamus fled from a civilization comparable to medieval Italy or Spain. He fled to a civilization comparable to that of northern Britain or Scandinavia. Second, a fugitive prince, with only a modest agricultural landowner as his benefactor, had nowhere to find a warship. The king had warships. Nobles with vineyards had cargo ships. In addition to transporting people, Shamus also had to transport livestock, seed, and enough food to support his settlers during the pending winter. He knew what land he traveled to; he knew he needed ample supplies.

A descendant of the Norse knarr, the medieval cog was a very unimpressive craft. Slow, heavy, and flat-bottomed, it was functional. And it was small. I had hoped to write about Shamus’ settlers, several hundred people who could start a promising settlement in the northern lands. Some would die in the harsh winter, some of illness or accidents. Several hundred people could travel on a galleon.

Several dozen people could travel on a cog.

Hoping to allow a few more settlers than two or three dozen, I researched further. I found this link:

http://www.startedsailing.com/cogs-and-other-12th-century-sailing-vessels.html

Again and again, the author of this site trounces writers’ hopes of transporting large loads of people and cargo over long distances. It was not done. They could transport people via a galley-type warship with no deck. Or they could transport goods over short distances with a cog. Up to about four dozen passengers could fit on a cog, but they likely slept on deck because of crowded conditions and a horrendous smell in the hold. They slept under the stars, in the weather. According to the author of this site, they were used to it.

cog

This picture from Wikipedia shows a recreation of a cog. A single-masted ship propelled by a rudder, it had little room for anything. Judging from the size of this ship, Shamus could transport a few sheep and some chickens. He had to leave the cattle behind.

excavated cog

This picture, an actual cog from ca. 1380, reinforces the lack of space. The precise dimensions of the Bremen cog were 24m long, 8m in the beam, and just over 4m on the sides… a cargo space of about 130 tons.

In addition to small hold space and little deck space, most of these ships had no enclosed captain’s cabins. They had no kitchens. For the most part, those happened later. Some of the warships had “castles,” raised areas from which the sailors could shoot arrows.

plantagenet ship

This picture of a medieval warship with the heraldic symbol of the Plantagenets depicts fore and aft castles so high they would have destabilized the ship.

A comfortable cabin to hold meetings, as seen in the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, did not happen this early. This was a bit of a problem during Shamus’ journey. He nearly had mutiny from overcrowded settlers, all seasick, with some small children and two pregnant women. They survived it. However, during the last journey in Minstrel, Liam had to bring back about the same number of people. He also needed a place to secure Maira, who suffered massive internal injuries and could not recline in a hammock or on deck in the storm. A bit of deus ex machina might allow a nicer, more evolved ship to appear in Kylemore’s harbor right when they needed it. After working so hard to research the correct ship, though, I’m not going to give in to a sudden, convenient solution. Maira had to travel in the shelter of a forecastle, or perhaps a hollow built from casks and barrels. Nothing would be comfortable.

The inconvenience of such a small and primitive ship did provide additional conflict where I needed it though. During the last chapter, I had some fabulous elements: Maira battled aggressive injuries from her punishment for defying the king. A royal warship followed them north to Shamus’ new settlement. Liam and Tristan battled wills against each other while they both grappled to keep the captain from turning the ship around and surrendering them to the crown. A violent storm nearly capsized them.

And… a putrid, overcrowded ship made things even rosier for everyone.

ship final

The Devil’s Daughters

Ok, here’s the exercise:

First, imagine your favorite time period or setting to read or write about.  Modern times?  Well, this still applies in many modern cultures.  The 1900s or earlier?  A culture patterned after medieval or renaissance times, maybe steampunk?  Alright, that’s just the start.

Second, think about what your favorite characters did to make a living.  Is your character male?  If so, make that character female and think about that again.  What did she do to make a living?  Is she dependent on a father, husband, or brother to guide that profession?

picture7

Let’s raise the bets now.  The civilization has enough school teachers.  A war or plague has dropped the population of marriageable men way below the percentage of women.  Your female character is in a society that values physical strength of men, and the women realize that there just aren’t enough jobs to go around.  What does she do to make a living?

picture14

I’ve read very few books that encroach upon prostitution as little else but a filthy, condemning trade that turns women into untouchables.  Really, only one series has shown me a side of compassion or necessity for women who see no other path but starvation.  If you really want to read a compelling fantasy work from an author who looks into the other side of base society, of urchin street gangs, and of the abuse that happens to women out of desperation, check out Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy.

http://www.thewayofshadows.com/books/the-night-angel-trilogy/

Caution: Night Angel Trilogy is not for the faint of heart.  If you’re buying this for your young teen, please read it first.  Especially book two.

If you are open to really exploring what happens to the common people in wartime, in a setting that other authors have written about but never really detailed in this regard, find the trilogy and read it. I wasn’t disappointed at all.  While discussing research he did for his trilogy, Brent Weeks describes hearing stories from his wife, who was a social worker for kids in gangs.  He mentioned the abuse that happens to many of the boys, and nearly all of the girls.  Take these children, mature them, and argue that they should know better.  Argue that they should find respectable careers.  Argue that same point to widows with children, who can’t stand to see those children starve.

picture1

Today, a Facebook friend linked to a very educational blog post about prostitution in Victorian England.  The milieu I prefer to write and read are not set in Victorian times, but many of the conditions are the same.

You can read the post here: http://samanthabvance.wordpress.com/presentation-page  The pictures on this post have been taken from this original website.

I compare this to women I know in my personal life, who have had to work undesirable jobs to support their children.  (I live in Reno, Nevada.  There are a lot of adult entertainers here.  Many of them are single moms.)  I also compare this to cultures that have adopted polygamy, not out of a sexual need for the men.  They adopted it as a physical need for the women, a way to take care of them.

What circumstances can you imagine that would drive a woman to consider her own body as a commodity she would be willing to sacrifice for something of greater value?  And while you consider these circumstances in the work you’re reading, or writing… or as you encounter someone in your life who has made that choice… how does society view her choice?

I would love to hear about books you’ve read that cover this subject with something other than condemnation.  Works that expound upon it with compassion, reform, or even simple detail for the milieu.  I’d also love to hear your opinions regarding the choice and sacrifice itself.