I’ve started writing again (after a bit of a hiatus), and I’m beginning to get back to my usual schedule!!! Not going to lie though, it’s been hard and gruelling and I was very tempted to give up on Dagger of the Sun but after having put so much time into it the previous year, I wasn’t ready to let go just yet. Instead, I dove back into the land of the Olympians and it started undergoing some rewrites (apparently, I was a very, very bad writer a year ago and threw similes and metaphors into every chapter like I was a rapper with unlimited atm access.)
I don’t have anything to share yet excerpt wise, but I’me hoping for something juicy by the end of the week – so keep your fingers crossed.
But I can share that I’ve written almost 25, 000 words and have nearly edited all the kinks in the first few chapters that were making it difficult for the story to move forward. I spent most of July and June editing the previous chapters and looking through the infinite versions of chapter four (there are at least 5 very long, very different versions of this chapter) and deciding what parts I wanted to keep from each and trying to consolidate them into one legible chapter.
I will keep you guys posted with more updates soon and thank you to everyone that has stuck by me on the long journey that is DotS. There will be a notable lack of reviews for a while as I’m trying to focus on my writing, but I will eventually have to take a break for some reading and reviewing so I don’t crash and burn.
But for now, that’s all!
Rika Ashton (aka Woman Currently in Writer Mode)
It’s been a HECTIC weekend at the Ashton residence! Hospital visits, end of the year exam panics, and work dramas were just some of the highlights – although I’d have to say that hospital panic was probably the biggest, most unpleasant surprise.
Middle Bro had an appendectomy on Thursday and had an overnight stay. Of course, the crazy fool – I can say that now because it’s been two days and he’s better – actually liked the hospital food and got mildly high on the oxy. (Okay, I kid – and he probably needed the pain killers after the surgery…probably.) Plus, the other crazy fool – this one being my sister (aka Sole Sista – sole because she’s the only one I’ve got) – also likes hospital food so middle bro and her had a roarin’ time.
All this, of course, happened the day after me and Little Bro ditched Middle Bro to go and watch X-Men: Days of the Future Past. But while I was adequately guilt ridden over the whole thing and the soundtrack to Adventure Club’s “Wonder” (feat. The Kite String Tangle) kept playing in my head, Little Bro’s conscience is apparently missing because maintained his normal levels of jerkosity. (Of course, he and Middle Bro could have some dude’s understanding that their sisters are not privy to.)
Then, of course, there are the end of the year exam panics and both Middle Bro and Little Bro are doomed to failure unless I, with my never ending fount of wisdom, aid them in there time of need. (Yeah, basically I’ve been conscripted by my mother to make sure they pass and don’t disgrace the family name – but, since there are limits to the miracles I can perform, I’ll just try and help them pass.)
Of course, exam drama at home means exam drama at work because I am both a teacher and tutor, so all my panicked students are lining up at the gates hoping for a last minute miracle.
Not. Gonna. Happen.
Then, again, with the BC Teacher’s Strike going on it might.
But with all that went on last week, my writing schedule was also kicked a week over…le sigh…but it’s back to the grind Tuesday night. I’m hoping to post some teasers from Dagger of the Sun soon. There’s been little progress on the page yet, since both Chaos and I are squabbling over the format, colour, and aesthetics.
On the other hand, I have been making some headway into all the ARCs I’ve been given, so more reviews are definitely on the way.
I hope your weekend was more relaxing than mine!
(aka The Frazzled)
Rika’s in the hermit cave, as of two hours ago, and she’s asked me to post a quick update about what’s happening on the blog. So, in order to keep this real short, here are the highlights:
1. As of a few days ago, we are no longer accepting review requests. (We had fifteen in the past week alone, which when added to the ARCs Rika already had means we have well over twenty books to read and review in the next few weeks alone. We’ll be posting the reviews for some books on this blog and other will go to Romance Reader at Heart: Novel Thoughts and Book Talk – and will later be reblogged here. So stay tuned for those!) We will be open for requests at a later date, but let Rika finish with these books first.
2. Also as of a few days ago, I am trying to talk Rika into recruiting some new reviewers for the blog, so we’ll see how that goes. (Control freak that she is, this is actually going to be a tough negotiation.)
3. Rika has assured me that she will have a few more short teasers and excerpts from Dagger of the Sun (DOTS) to post soon. So that’s more Kael, Delphyne and Apollo for y’all!
4. We will also be launching the new DOTS page sometime in May/June – more about that later.
5. Rika is also working on the final draft of the DOTS Underworld map, and we will share a picture of this on the new page.
6. Finally, Rika is once again working 3 jobs, so production on the blogging front will slow down a little, but she’s asked me to pick up the slack – and so I shall.
And that’s all for the site updates for now, more to come later when we’ve made some significant headway into our to-do list.
–Chaos Ashton 🙂
(aka The Sometimes Blogger)
P.S: For more amazing cat art and an article exposing some shocking truths by Adam Ellis, go here.
Found this amazing blog post by Nephele Tempest, agent extraordinaire, just in time for tax season. Even though I’m not even close to being a “seasoned pro,” this is helpful when thinking about the business side of writing – because whether we like to think about it or not, writing has to be more than just a passion if you want to be successful…it also has to be work.
We’re counting down to tax day — April 15th here in the U.S. — which means some folks are scrambling to find their receipts and their statements and all of their various forms to take off to their accountants, while others are playing with tax software or reading through the intimidating tax brochures meant to walk you through filling out the forms yourself.
Writers and taxes have a contentious relationship at best. Writers understand that several aspects of their chosen careers are the very things that raise red flags with the IRS, such as taking a deduction for a home office space, research trips, and other costs of doing business. But that’s no reason to panic.
Whether you’re a new writer who has yet to make any money or a seasoned pro, it’s important to be diligent in your record keeping throughout the year, and to consult with a tax…
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So I was writing the new chapters for Dagger of the Sun (DOTS) and it got me thinking about armpit hair.
Yeah, I know…
But it got me thinking about how people in ancient times may have gotten rid of unwanted hair – I know laser treatments weren’t available yet. (No matter what Lynsay Sands would have me believe in her Argeneau series! There is no such thing as an evolved Atlantean civilization in DOTS, so I couldn’t just open up an Ideal Image laser salon on a random Greek street corner.)
So I did what any good scholar would do? I Googled it.
And I found an interesting article about the history of hair removal the NoNo website of all places. But I figured if anyone was going to know there stuff, it would be the experts. Here’s a snippet of what I found:
Ancient Egyptians removed unwanted hair with flint or bronze razors – they even invented a technique similar to waxing called sugaring, which used a sticky paste and a piece of cloth to yank the hair out at the root! Hair removal was very important to the Ancient Egyptians for cultural or perhaps even religious reasons. In Ancient Egypt, both men and women shaved their heads and wore wigs instead of their natural hair. They took it so seriously so long ago, that some Egyptian bronze and flint razors have been dated to over 3000 years ago, and sugaring is thought to date back as far as 3000-4000 BC!
Around that time people also developed the first depilatory creams, which chemically dissolve the hair above the skin. Other depilatories that date from that time dissolved hair above the skin as they still do today, but without the chemical and anatomical knowledge we have. This meant that early depilatories (5000-7000 years ago) were very irritating to the skin, and were probably quite painful. Simpler depilatories included quicklime, arsenic, and starch and more complex versions later on included resin, pitch, animal fats, and even bat’s blood!
In Ancient Greece, it was simply barbaric to have body hair, and people took great pains to remove any hair that would show them to be anything less than civilized. Any beards or unshaven areas besides the head would indicate that you were a lower class or even a slave – an appearance that was avoided if at all possible.
The information was surprisingly useful when it came to crafting my characters – I was also surprised to learn that I wouldn’t really have to change anything about their appearance. (I must have been channeling some Ancient Greek being when I wrote the character descriptions.)
After I found information on that, I started thing about teeth – because, really, what else what there to think about? And, once again, I turned to the Google gods for help. As generous as ever, they answered my prayers and I found a neat article about Ancient Greek oral hygiene:
How do we clean the teeth? The simplest answer is with the finger. Either the finger was wrapped with a cotton cloth, and then rubbed over the teeth to clean them, or the finger was dipped in some powdered substance with special properties to clean the teeth. These tooth powders were the forerunners of our modern toothpaste.
Or, the branch of a tree whose fragrant essential oils have antiseptic and other therapeutic properties for the teeth and gums could be chewed. The chewed end would then come to resemble a brush of sorts, whose loose, frayed fibers could be brushed over the teeth to clean them.
One tree native to Greece and much used by the ancient Greeks that fits these requirements rather nicely is the Laurel (Laurus nobilis), which the Greeks call Daphne. Its essential oils are antiseptic, and also stimulate blood circulation to the gums, promoting their health and regeneration. After chewing on the branch, or the leaves, your mouth is cleaned, and left with a fresh, clean scent.
Sometimes fresh, fragrant green herbs were chewed after a meal to cleanse the teeth and mouth and freshen the breath. These fresh herbs included those of Fennel, Parsleyand Lovage. Even today, fresh Parsley is often chewed to remove the odor of Garlic. The seeds of these and other plants, such as the Cardamom, were also chewed to cleanse the mouth and freshen the breath.
Finally, I also looked up some beauty tips – because it was something I thought my character Delphyne would appreciate after what I put her through in the first few chapters. I found one article in particular enlightening:
Women would start their routine with a bath, before applying a variety of oils and perfume to their skin. Honey and olive oil were used heavily, on their body, hair and in cosmetics for their moisturizing properties. Ancient Greek women wore their hair long and had a preference for it to be golden. This was achieved by using a vinegar solution that bleached the hair in the sun, or a yellow flower dye. Soap, pomades and wax were also used to give the hair shine. To enhance the texture of the hair, Hellenistic women often curled their hair and held it in place with combs. They used different embellishments and veils also. Gold and semi-precious stones were used as were diadems and flowers. A diadem was an ornamental headband primarily worn by the upper classes and royalty, if adorned with gems and gold. Scents were used in the hair and were made my boiling flowers, herbs and spices and mixed with olive oil. In the classical period, women only cut their hair during periods of mourning. Hair played a role as a social communicator and also emphasized class differentiation, as only slaves wore their hair short.
The last article refers specifically to female beauty routines, but I’m sure that men had some as well. Unfortunately, those articles are harder to find. 😦
But overall, I found all the articles I extremely helpful, and I hope you get a chance to give them a read through in their entirety. (I’ve linked to all of them in the post.)
(aka The Researcher)
The internet does care! I was researching sword fighting techniques, and unashamedly watching Brad Pitt and Eric Bana duke it out in Troy, when I came across this article. It features some great tips for writers for what to do and what not to do when writing sword fight scenes – especially, if like me, you’ve never actually been in one.
I enjoy fight scenes in movies, whether it is some gun-fu or a long martial arts battle or an awesome sword fight, which got me to thinking about how well I can pull off writing one of these scenes for a story. I would love to write a really cool sword fight, for instance, but I a) have never held a sword much less fought with one, and b) am not really familiar with sword terminology. Of course, as writers, we make stuff up all the time, but it is nice to at least sound like we know what we are talking about. So I turned to my pal Google for some help on the subject, and here is a round-up of what I found.
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I’ve had a busy December with my kindergarteners and, despite the occasional classroom brawls, we all managed to survive till Winter Break. 🙂
I’m excited to get back to my daily routine of sleeping in and writing. (More teasers will be posted soon, especially since my critique partners will be unmerciful and nag me to make up for lost time during the break — I CAN’T wait!)
But till then, have a listen to the new song that saved my sanity. “Counting Stars” by One Republic.
(aka “Feels like I won a marathon!”)