Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Earned Distractions

Helen: 4350 words written Monday, and counting! I flew by the 100,000 word mark, which doesn't exactly thrill me. I don't WANT to be much above 100K, but I am currently sitting shy of 106,400. Odysseus has arrived on the scene, which is always a good time. Wish he'd popped up closer to 95K than 110 though!

Television: With the excellent progress I've been making, I took a break last night to watch some Deadliest Catch. Guys, Instant Play on Netflix + Deadliest Catch = I could easily accomplish NOTHING for the next week. Deadliest Catch is the crack of reality television, in my opinion. When it's on, I can't turn it off. I mean, I am physically incapable. Those Deadliest Catch marathons on Discovery channel kill me. It's one of the reasons I'm glad we don't have cable, and most of the reason I never turn the television on when left to my own devices.

Other: A conversation on twitter prompted me to open up my Mia One-Shot short story. It's a worthless 17,000 words in length, but I love it. It interrupted my work on Helen a few months ago for a good two weeks, but it was worth the time, even though I can't do much with it. I thought, for your entertainment, and mine, I might share one of my favorite scenes today (or part of it--and it isn't revised because of Helen's takeover of my LIFE). I'm not sure the background really matters, but Mia is a determined flirt, and Jean is a Parisian born Frenchman who rather enjoys the ladies.

[removed]
Ah, also, I don't actually speak any French. PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Quick Update and some Odysseus!

Helen crossed 93,000 94,000 96,000 97,000 words and I haven't hit the climax. At least I'm writing forward though! I'll take what I can get. I think I have one more chapter to go and then I'll be there, and then I can start the falling action and wrap it up. At this point, I do not think it will come in under 100,000 words, but I know there is some room to cut, and I'll be able to deal with that when I start editing. Over all, I'm feeling pretty good about how things are going. Tomorrow I'll have another long day to write, as long as I get started first thing when I get up. That's the trick, for me, I think-- as long as I open up the document and start working before I get sidetracked by anything else, I end up keeping on task a lot better than if I start with anything else first.

Edit: The last 1000 words were pure agony. Judging by the emotional tones, the climax just snuck up on me. DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE.
Edit Edit: I'm beginning to fear that I'm going to overshoot the ending somehow. I feel like I might have just written it. Except that it isn't where I want it to be. ARRRGGGHHHH I HATE ENDINGS.

ALSO, if you were wondering, my clam sauce came out awesome. The swiss chard was delicious. And my purple green beans were delicious. (Color changing when you cook them! How much awesomer can green beans even get?!)

Re: Odysseus's Palace Being Unearthed in Ithaca.
This is a great post explaining how when it comes to things like this, you have to be skeptical of the claims. The fact of the matter is, if you go LOOKING for something in history, with an agenda, you're bound to find supporting evidence-- but when it comes down to it, it doesn't really prove anything. Would it be awesome if we found a palace belonging to Odysseus? Heck yes! But just because a palace is unearthed of Mycenaean style and with a convenient date, does not mean this is so. Claiming it belonged to Odysseus is pretty presumptuous, honestly, unless you find his name carved into the stone. (And I hate to say it, but this all applies to the King Arthur mythology stuff too.)

Have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vegetables and Writing

I don't have a lot of time to blog-- Helen finally just started moving today, instead of being totally the most stubborn manuscript on the face of the earth, so I am writing writing writing for as long as it lasts. I hate the idea of opening this chapter with a dream, but I suppose since it isn't the FIRST chapter of the book it isn't breaking any rules. (I totally broke that one already anyway. I know, I know. But at least I'm not PRETENDING it's NOT a dream in the scene! More on how rules should sometimes be broken over at Mia's blog, which apparently I am determined to promote of late!)

Also, I have the monstrous task of cooking up all the vegetables my mother sent us home with. I have a giant pile of Swiss chard, a second giant pile of beets with greens attached, a smaller pile of green beans and lots of tomatoes and cucumbers, fresh basil, garden garlic, and fresh parsley. This would be great eating for the rest of the week if my husband were actually going to be home for dinner ever. Unfortunately that isn't meant to be.

I'm going to use up the fresh parsley, and a portion of the garlic with some home made clam sauce, then cook up some shell pasta. It just happens to go super well with swiss chard, and if I'm really on my a-game, maybe I'll crack open the white wine and toss some of that in too (it's been sitting in my fridge for WAY too long). Either way I need to chop the greens off the beets and store them separately so they'll keep a bit longer, and get everything squared up that way. Plus dishwashing. Oh, dishwashing, you are, as ever, the most frustrating of kitchen chores. You are the boulder to my Sisyphus.


And you know, sometimes writing can feel that way too-- like we're Sisyphus, pushing that gosh darn boulder up the hill only to have it come crashing back down on us before we make it to the top. The job is never finished. The manuscript is never complete, never perfect, never up to par with whatever it is we're doing next. Like the dishes, when you think you're done, more stuff crops up that needs revision or rewriting or editing. Or maybe it's just the new book, and the same old challenge of making it sing. But remember, as long as we're writing, even if the "finished" manuscript doesn't sell, even if we have to roll that boulder back up the hill by writing a new book, it's still practice, and with every struggle to the top, we're honing our craft and becoming stronger writers for it.

Just like Sisyphus is going to have the most awesomely sculpted thighs and arms of any man who ever lived. If, uh, he ever gets to quit rolling his boulder and show them off...

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Letter to Helen

Dear Helen,

We have been through a lot together. It's been a great run. We've had good times, and we've had bad. We've distanced ourselves with third person, and grown closer with first. We've taught each other a lot, and you know that I don't in any way wish terrible things to happen to you.

I just want to remind you of something. Though the end of your book is coming up on us, this is not the end of your story. This is not the absolute finish. You are not STUCK where I will leave you. There are plenty of options still! Egypt, Troy, body doubles made of clouds! I know you don't believe me, but the gods are in your corner, and trust me when I tell you that we will ALL be understanding of whatever choices you make in the future. I know that things don't look bright right now, and really, all this doom and gloom, it's terrible. It's agonizing. I hate every minute of what's coming in the immediate future. BUT remember that you still have hope! There is a whole new book waiting for you on the other side! A book that MIGHT* even have a happy ending, instead of a tragic one!

I really am sorry for what Homer did to you, but don't take it out on me, please. And hey, look at it this way, you still get to meet Odysseus, and he's kind of a cool guy! And there's the reunion with your brothers to look forward to! You know Pollux will be thrilled to see you again. You guys are like BFF! Then there is the lack of maintenance when you're back home-- no more worrying about coloring your roots and keeping your hair dyed! That will save you SO much time! So, I mean, it isn't ALL terrible. Let's just get through this together, just like we've gotten through everything else, and put it behind us!

Love and Skittles,
Amalia

*I'm sorry to say that I can't make any promises as to the LEVEL of happiness in this regard. But I CAN promise you that it will absolutely be less awful than this one.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why is my Lounge filled with Bloggers? OR Bloggy Snatchers Blogfest!

Please go here to see the list of other participants in Ms. SonshineMusic's Excellent Festival of Blogs. And do be sure that you read Mia's post here before this one, because it is to this--this--IMPOSITION--that I am responding! :P

I knew Mia was coming today, but I had some errands to run before she arrived, so I had been out for most of the morning. Mostly these errands involved buying hot dogs to have on hand for the zombies, just in case, and let me tell you that a certain Thunder God was not happy about the news that we were having undead guests.

"Zombies are trouble," he grumbled, holding the door for me when we arrived back at the house. "And you'll have a mess. It isn't as if you can train them. Glitter," he warned. "Everywhere."

"It's only for a few days." I ignored his glower. Thunder gods are incredibly skilled at glowering, and then the whole sky glowers down on people too. I smiled brightly to counteract the darkening clouds, and he exhaled his frustration as we headed into the kitchen. He set the groceries down on the counter, still grumbling. And when I say grumble, I mean rumble. But as long as it was only a quiet roll of thunder, I figured we'd be okay.

Before I could even get the hot dogs out of the bag, the lounge door exploded inward. A woman with feathers stuck to her clothing and glitter on her skin blasted through the kitchen, shouting, and ran straight into Thor's immense person, followed by three zombies. Thor caught the human, but he let the zombies bounce, his eyes flaming white as they toppled to the floor in a pile.

He gave me a LOOK, his lips pressed together into a grim, I-told-you-so line that I was much, much too familiar with.

"Uhm." I stared at the woman as Thor set her to rights. "You're not Mia?"

"Oh, Amalia! You're home!" Tessa smiled, brushing herself off and glancing side long at the thunder god who had just crossed his arms over his chest in a very imposing manner. The zombies scrambled under his glare, lurching back the way they had come leaving a trail of feathers and glitter. "That's wonderful! Now we can really get started!"

"Get... started?" I was wondering if that was really a question I wanted to ask even while I followed the zombie-path to the door. They had left it open of course, when they ran back out.

I blinked a few times at the sight that greeted me in the lounge. How had I not heard the television when we walked in? Nick must have had the volume at 62 to hear it over the others, and Simon was laughing with him loudly, waving his glass. I hoped that he had brought his own Vodka, because I was fairly certain the quality of mine was not up to his usual--shall we say-- par?

"Well," Tessa was saying behind me, "We heard that Mia was coming, and so we figured you wouldn't mind if we came too, especially since she was bringing the zombies already. You can always use a few more hands to keep them from getting into things!"

"Yes," I said faintly, watching the zombies in question throw glitter at one another, getting it absolutely everywhere all over my favorite brown paisley armchair.
Oh god I was never going to get it all off. So. Much. Glitter. "Yes, that's true."

Behind me, I heard a very distinct snort from Thor at my internal monologue. I cleared my throat.

"#Amalia!" Mia grinned, hopping up from her seat on the couch and skipping toward me.

Everyone else looked up, seeing me for the first time. A chorus of hellos came from Rebecca, Naomi, and Tahereh. Nick gave one of those I'm-too-cool-to-look-up-from-the-game half-waves of the wrist, and Simon raised his glass with a "Cheers!"

"Uhm. Hi," I said.

And then the training of my childhood kicked in. Apparently, seeing so many people in my lounge, I had no other choice. There was only one thing that could be done in this scenario of home-invasion!
No.
Other.
Choice.


"Anybody need something to drink? a glass of water? Something to eat? I brought..." I glanced at the zombies and lowered my voice to a whisper so only Mia and Tessa could hear. "I bought some hot dogs for the zombies."

"#ThatsGREAT!" Mia said.

Thor sighed, evidently giving up on the idea that I was going to let him evict anyone. A rumble of thunder sounded outside, but it didn't shake the walls, so I figured it would all be fine. There would be plenty of time to kick everyone out later, after all, AFTER they'd been fed.

SO THERE, BLOGGY INVADERS! SO. THERE.

First Kiss, Part Two

Remember when I talked about how I had been agonizing over Helen's first kiss? Well, as a form of procrastination, I am revisiting my agony again. Apparently Helen will stoop to anything to keep me from finishing her book! I'm back staring at the kiss-scene chapter again, instead of moving forward.

I went and dug through the first draft, written in third person, to find how I wrote her first kiss the first time, since all I seemed to be able to do THIS time was stare at the page while I wrote "His lips brushed mine," and then deleted it and replaced it with "He kissed me, soft and gentle," and then deleted that and rewrote "His lips brushed mine," again... and I think you know where this is going. Anyway, I wanted to share the first draft-- because I wish I could just lift it, switch the she's to I's, polish it up, and slap it into this book. Unfortunately it doesn't fit the narrative anymore though, so I'm still staring at my screen at a loss.

[excerpt removed]
Needless to say, rereading the original, I wonder how I managed to write it without agonizing. I don't remember having any problem slapping this down on the page at all, and it isn't half bad!

I must just be over-thinking it this time around. I don't know. Stupid kissing scenes. Or. It's entirely possible that my problem is that I'm writing in first person instead of third.

Does anyone else have problems writing certain kinds of scenes in first person, that are otherwise no trouble in third?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Keeping it Brief! and an ARC GIVEAWAY

All right friends, I am completely failing at the Helen thing right now, so my blogposts are going to be, I hope, on the briefer side of things until I finish (85,750 words and counting!).

But here is the deal!

1) I rewrote my query for BoG for the umpteenth time and a half, because the query I THOUGHT was awesome clearly isn't awesome enough judging by the responses from the trench. HUGE thanks to Tina Lynn and Miss Mia Hayson for their assistance in that endeavor! I'm still agonizing, but it SHOULD be improved. Right now (midnight) I hate everything though, so I'm going to wait until morning and see how it reads after a good night's sleep. Also going to send it out to a couple of other folks to see if they think it's working before I commit to it whole-heartedly and start proclaiming any kind of level of awesome THIS TIME.

2) I am attempting to rewrite my synopsis to make it more concise. The one I have now, I'm not entirely a fan of because it's broken up into three sections and fairly long even before it gets double spaced. I wrote it kind of off the cuff, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I think I can do better. So. I'm going to give it a shot. Worst case: I go back to using the old synopsis if this one I'm writing sucks harder. Best Case: Synopsis Win. Either way: It's Practice and Practice, as we all know, Makes Perfect.

3) HELEN FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY LET ME FINISH YOUR BOOK ALREADY.

4) Shannon Whitney Messenger is doing a HUGE arc Giveaway and one of the arcs is Robin McKinley's PEGASUS. Now, I just happen to be a big fan of Robin McKinley, and this book sounds amazing. For that matter, most of the books she's giving away sound amazing! What you need to do, my followers, is head over and become a follower of Shannon's, and make sure you mention I sent you to get me some extra entry-age. You guys know I'm serious, because I rarely ever post anything about contests. SO. Go Forth. Enter to win. Let's make this happen. We don't want another episode like Frankie's Hunger Games giveaway, with that utter failure. This time, we want to win, guys! We want to Win. (No, I still haven't read The Hunger Games, but if this Helen ridiculousness keeps up... well. Let's hope it doesn't.)

5) You may be thinking that I'm using this query rewriting and synopsis rewriting as a procrastination tool so that I don't have to write the awful agony that is the end of Helen's book. You may also be right.

Happy Tuesday, folks!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

WeatherFest!

Thanks to Nick at A Little Slice of Nothing for hosting this weather-related blogfest (click the latter link to see who else is participating)! The challenge was to write a scene featuring the weather. Now for me, this should not have been a challenge. After all, Thor is everywhere. But. The scene I REALLY wanted to use I couldn't, because I'm querying the manuscript, so I settled for the scene I never wrote instead.

I had, for the record, intended to write it, but it didn't quite fit into the book anywhere, and it would've been unnecessary if it had. The story didn't need it, and the readers already know, I think, what Thor is capable of, even if the woman in this scene doesn't. Yet. Of course, now that I've written it for this fest, I maybe know why my subconscious wrote it out of the novel. That is to say, I am unimpressed with my work. See for yourself though!

Thor's gaze swept over the long coat she wore, stopping at the hat and scarf. He shook his head and took the cloak from his own shoulders, draping it around her and tucking it beneath her chin. Fur lined and immense, she could not imagine where they were going that she would need something so warm.

"Trust me," he said, as if reading her mind. "You'll want it. As it is, it will be all I can do to keep your nose from freezing off your face."

"Won't you need something to keep warm?"

He shook his head. "I was born for cold weather and tempests. And if I hadn't been, Jötunheim inured me to the worst of it."

"Jötunheim."

"It was a world of Ice. Like Niflheim, but not. Where the Frost Giants lived."

"Your people killed them?"

A shadow passed over his features and he looked away. "If you want to see what I can do, there's only one place where it will be safe enough."

Thor held out his hand, still not meeting her eyes. She took it, wishing he hadn't made her wear gloves. She loved the feel of her hand in his, warm and dry and calloused, and the reassurance would have gone a long way to dispel the chill in her bones from his response. He would not have changed the subject if he had not done most of the slaughtering himself.

Then the world around her shimmered, static skating across her exposed skin, and the ground beneath her feet turned to ice and snow. Her body slammed into a brick wall of cold air, crystallizing her nose hairs with her first breath and searing her lungs. She stumbled from the shock, and Thor caught her, pulling the full cloak more snugly around her body and tucking her face against his chest. Her body shuddered.

"I'm sorry," he said into her hair. "Maybe this wasn't a good idea. I should take you back before you freeze to death."

"N-no." She shivered. "I w-want to s-see."

He half-laughed, half-sighed. "Well you won't see anything if your eyes are shut."

She swallowed and forced herself to blink. Ice crystals caught at her eyelashes, and she shivered again, but at least her eyeballs didn't feel as though they were frozen. Yet.

"H-how long w-will it t-take?"

"As long as you can stand it, I suppose." He rubbed his hands together behind her back and then pressed them against her cheeks. Sunlight on a warm day rushed over her skin, sinking into her stomach, and her teeth stopped chattering.

She sighed, looking up. "Oh, that's much better."

"Mmm." His eyes burned with white fire, the pupils and irises gone. "Look at the sky. It's not nearly as impressive if you don't see it before and after."

She turned, lifting the fur cloak up to breathe through and tilting her head back. The sky was so blue and clear it didn't even seem real. Had he brought her to Antarctica? Everything was blue and white, blending together into shadow and glaring sunlight.

"Now watch," he said.

Vapor and ice collected around them, sucked from the air and rising up in white sheets and swirls of fog, refracting rainbows across the snow. The innocent film gathered into clouds, gradually shifting from crystal to pale goose feather grey, floating up higher, then gunmetal black. The sky turned a sickly green.

"Whatever happens, do not step away from my side or out of my hold. Do you understand me?"

She nodded. As if she could have if she wanted to.

The wind howled in eddies around them, whipping the hem of the cloak against her legs. She was grateful for the fur now, and the warmth of his body behind her. Unnaturally hot, really, almost burning, even through the cloak and her coat. He wrapped an arm around her body, pulling her closer, and she did not resist.

The clouds thickened and the snow reflected the green hue of what sky was left. Snowflakes began to blow, melting against her eyelashes.

And then the clouds began to spin.

At first, she thought it was only her own vision playing tricks on her, but the depression that formed and dropped like a boot toward the ice changed her mind. Lightning flashed and crackled like fireworks, thunder booming so loud on its tail that the ground shook beneath her feet. Huge fissures opened up in the ice around them from the sheer force of the sound. The funnel cloud, whirling faster and faster and growing as it spun, reached down, enclosing them in its center.

The wind roared against her eardrums. Forgetting to keep her nose and face covered with the fur cloak, she pressed her hands over her ears, desperate to block out the noise. The moisture from her breath wicked away so quickly into the air, it didn't have time to freeze on her face. The tornado tugged the scarf tight at her throat, tearing at the cloak.

She clung to Thor's arm, solid and steel hard. He stood impervious to the storm around them, and when she glanced back over her shoulder, she saw his hair did not even lift in the wind, though his feet were braced and his jaw tightened. The white light of his eyes had turned flame blue.

Raindrops began to fall, then halted before her eyes, disappearing into the cloud again. Bigger and thicker drops reformed, falling further, but they did not make it to the ground before they evaporated. Hail. She was actually seeing hail form in the center of the tornado. How was that even possible?

"Keep your ears covered and shut your eyes!" Thor shouted over the wind.

She did not need to be told twice. The roaring grew louder, and for a moment she felt as though the ground had been lifted out from under her. The wind kept pulling at her limbs, trying to tear her hands free from her head, sandpapering her face, and if it hadn't been for his arm keeping her in place, she was certain she would have been blown away altogether.

She sagged back against him, her knees giving out when it stopped. The cold fell over her again almost as quickly. She opened her eyes a slit, then wider, watching the tornado dance away, leaving craters and chasms in the snow. Thor lifted her by the waist, setting her on the edge of a cliff of blue ice that had not been there a moment before. He vaulted up beside her as she began shivering again and pulled her back against his body.

"I didn't dare let the hail start falling on your head, even if it was warmer in the storm. Have you seen enough?"

Her body shuddered, fingers of cold reaching through the cloak to wrap around her limbs. "H-how c-come it's s-so c-cold?"

"Shock mostly, I expect." He rubbed her arms, then nodded to the storm. "Say the word and it ends. I'll have you warmed up again in a heartbeat."

She took a deep breath, the air so cold it burned her lungs and made her cough. The tornado spun, placidly throwing hail and lightning and rain across the barren landscape, the sky pine black with clouds above it. Never mind that rain had no business falling in Antarctica to begin with.

"Th-this is j-just a t-taste, isn't it?"

"Yes," he said. "I could swamp the earth if I wished to, but at least here no one will be harmed by the exercise. Perhaps a scientist somewhere will notice the clouds and the strange weather pattern, but the odds are against it, and by the time it can be reported it will be gone again."

She shivered. "I've s-seen enough."

The tornado flew apart at once, lightning forking into the snow and sending up steam. The thunder cracked on top of it, tripping her heartbeat. And then it was gone, a hard wind sweeping the displaced ice and snow back into the holes the storm had dug. Thor took her by the hand, and for the first time, the feeling of static and electricity over her skin came as a relief.

The grey stone of Asgard had never looked so warm.

So be sure to hop over to the other participant entries and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Playing with Myths

I know this is going to be a shocker to all of you fine folks, but I really love mythology. Really. Really, really. And the best part of mythology? Playing with it and putting it together in a new and interesting way that will appeal to a modern audience. This is, in fact, why I love comic books. It's also why I write the things that I write-- for the gosh darn fun of it!

But man, this does not make Helen an easy book to write. No matter how much I love playing with mythology, and how much I love writing, the end of this book always makes me feel like I'm getting my teeth pulled in a string+doorslam operation. This is the second time I've written the ending, and I think it's even worse this time around. I love my characters. But the mythology, the heart and soul of the whole story, has become my enemy.

Every time I open the document, I stare at it and wonder-- is there any possible way I can make this something other than tragic? Everyone knows what happens. Helen marries Menelaus, then she's stolen or runs away with Paris, and then:
big fat terrible DOOM.

There are a couple of questions that people who play with myth have to be aware of when writing: How true to the source am I going to stick? How much of the source material am I going include? And which sources am I going to follow? I think it's important to ask it early and to ask it often as you define your characters and explore the narrative of the story. Comb through your myths-- all the sources you can find-- and identify the places with multiple and conflicting accounts. And by God, exploit them.

Let's face it-- most of these myths don't have happy endings. The hero always dies eventually, and since we all know Being A Hero Sucks, it's usually pretty ignoble. Knowing where and how many liberties you're going to take with your story-- and how you're going to remain consistent as you do so-- is worth mapping out before you hit the ending and realize you're going to receive hate mail. And not only are you going to get it from the new fans whose hearts you just broke when you gave your hero his mythologically-accurate and terrible ending, but also from the mythology buffs who are going to tear you apart for everything else you didn't do to him/her.

But repeat after me: It's Okay To Change It

Not only is it Okay, it's typical. All it takes is one read through the myriad source materials, and you can see the revisionist nature of myth. And if the people who wrote it down and made it up to begin with can alter endings and argue over whether Theseus was pushed, jumped, or slipped off a cliff face, you can certainly throw your two cents in as well. Find the character of your hero and let him or her do what comes naturally! If it means they didn't throw themselves onto a funeral pyre to escape a poisoned shirt before ascending to Olympus, that's okay. As long as you are writing the story, and playing with the myth, it's still alive. And if it's still alive, it is DEFINITELY still open to personal interpretation, just as it was open to interpretation when it was written down in Ancient Greek, or Latin, or Old Norse, or Old English, or whatever crazy backwoods dialect you found it from.

Just remember one thing: it's no excuse for bad story telling. Clash of the Titans remake, I am looking at you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Miscellaneous Research

Between staring at pictures of Jökulsárlón and dreaming about going to school in Iceland for my MA, I spent a goodly amount of time researching this weekend-- for Helen, and not for Helen. These things included, in no particular order:

The Egtved Girl, my most favorite Nordic Bronze Age find. 
Seriously, if you don't know about her, you should watch this video at once. It's super short, I promise. 




Basically, the Egtved Girl is one of the most well preserved finds from the Nordic Bronze Age, and the grave goods found with her are really interesting. Unfortunately, I haven't found any great pictures of them on the internet (I have some awesome books, thank goodness), but her clothing was super well preserved, and included a delicate kind of hair net thing, as well as what  she was wearing. When it was discovered it was kind of shocking to people, because she was pretty scantily clad. The video shows you--there have been a couple of reproductions of it. Keep in mind she was discovered quite some time ago when bare-midriffs were not, shall we say, the STYLE. The reason I love this find so much is because it gives us this tantalizing glimpse of the Bronze Age and the people who lived there. It whets my appetite like whoa to write a book based in that time period. Right now I've only been able to touch on it in passing.


Natural Child Birth to see how Helen might have had a child back in ye olden days without, you know, hospitals. You know, I'm not going to go into the details on this. And I didn't even look up historical information, so I was super lame about it. I'll get back to you if I turn up anything REALLY interesting and not "Dear Lord, It Can't Be Unseen!"


Warp Weighted Looms, uhm, again, because I seem to have forgotten everything I learned last year when I wrote the first draft of this beast of a novel.

Basically we have all these glimpses of Warp Weighted Looms painted all over pottery and the like, but we still don't really know how they were used in ancient greece--if they were vertical or angled, or how they were weighted exactly, or whether they used a heddle, etc. (They were also used later in Scandinavia, which I forced myself NOT to look at information on so that I wouldn't get totally distracted. so I am not going to even get into that.)

I read someone's thesis paper (pdf. Also, I had no idea people posted thesis papers on the internet! I think it's an undergrad paper, but still.)  on the subject where they actually went so far as to build a warp weighted loom of their own, and tried weaving on it, and tested the way the weights fell to see if any set up would match the kind of evidence they've found. The funny thing is, according to what I read, we've yet to turn up a loom itself at all-- firstly because they were made of wood which wouldn't really hold up over the ages, and secondly, the thesis paper posits, because looms were not just left to take up space set up willy nilly all over the place. There are a bunch of pictures of the loom in ancient pottery representations in the paper, but apparently wikicommons has ZERO so I can't post a picture for you. (seriously?)


Rent in Iceland. 
Not as reasonable as Denmark, sad to say. BUT the University of Iceland does have an apartment complex named Ásgarðar, so. Obviously that is meant to be.

What did you do with your weekend? 

Friday, August 06, 2010

More Iceland Stuff.

Today, whilst I was in the midst of wallowing in the self-pity of having not received a single email that was not an automated notification, I received suddenly a fabulous email.

It was from Iceland. (No, really, it was!)

You can imagine my excitement. Granted, the email was kind of sort of also sent by automata, but guys, the subject of the email?

A little email to Amalia, from Iceland, with love. 

How could I not be excited? How could I not immediately switch into Icelandic mode? How could I not follow it's directions to klikk, and visit Inspired By Iceland, a website which, among other things, streams video 24/7 of three different Icelandic sites. You guys, I watched the sun set over Jökulsárlón at like 11pm at night, Iceland time. It was incredible. It was beautiful. It was blue ice, and tiny little tourists in blue jackets walking along the melting glacier. It was birds flying by, diving and wheeling, and water rushing past rocks. It was, simply, amazing. (I also watched some kids playing hacky-sack in the park at Austorvöllur, and some waterfall action at Gullfoss. But it was the glacier that really struck me.)

I left the livecam feed up in the background and shrunk my word document to less than full screen, so I could see the water and the birds and the itty bitty people getting in and out of their cars and walking up and down the embankment. And then I went back to writing Helen (2500 words today, baby!), feeling much lighter of spirit, and wishing that I could travel there tomorrow.

And then I started thinking, surely Iceland has an MA program in Norse studies of some kind? And what a fabulous excuse that would be to go there! I looked up the University of Iceland, through which I also am learning Icelandic for free, and clicked around. While their program is not as comprehensive as the University of Aarhus in Denmark, they do have a program in Old Norse religion, and Medieval Norse Studies. What's especially awesome is that they accept credits from the University of Aarhus toward their MA program, and the courses are, for the most part, offered in English. I could learn Icelandic before I applied, then join the program and be taught to read Old Norse and the Sagas in their original language. 

But wait, I thought. How much is tuition? I did some more of that which they call Klikk.

Guys, it is ZERO dollars. The University of Iceland does not charge Tuition. Period.

 Iceland, I'm glad you want to be my friend. And I totally love you too! I promise I'll be in touch!

And if you made it through all this, my fabulous followers-- I have a question for you! An Informal Poll, if you will. In light of the birthday request I made of the universe, I was wondering: 

If a god* showed up on your doorstep in the flesh, and assuming that you knew you weren't hallucinating, would you tell anyone about your encounter afterward? Also, which god would you WANT it to be?

*by god, for the sake of argument, I mean one that is not the Judeo-Christian-Islamic All Star. I will however accept one of the many aspects of Hinduism's supreme being(s).

Also, man, if you guys had read the fine print on my awesome email from Iceland, you would be cracking up right now. It was hilarious. Whoever runs that email/letter/IcelandWantsToBeYourFriend site has a great sense of humor. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Public Service Announcement 2.0

Just a heads up-- I changed my blog URL from hellia.blogspot.com to the much more practical http://amaliadillin.blogspot.com! Please, please, please update your bookmarks accordingly!

If you follow a link on one of the older entries and it comes up as blog not found, just replace the hellia in the address with amaliadillin and it will load just fine! Otherwise, all is business as usual!

I will try to change all the links manually in the next couple of days here--but I have a feeling that I will miss some along the way. Oofda. Just finished going through and changing them all on GeekaChicas and almost gave myself fits double checking links! POSSIBLY I did not think this plan through, but there's no point in going back now :) Hang in there with me and hopefully we'll make it to the other side without any major hiccups!

Thanks for humoring me, guys! I hope you will forgive me for any inconvenience!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Birthday Extravaganza!

I know you are all going to be terribly disappointed, but I'm sorry to say that I am taking the day off! Today, Tuesday, August third, is my birthday, and so I am going to head off to celebrate it.

(Don't ask me what I'm doing yet, because I really haven't decided. I'm kind of a last minute sort of person when it comes to these things, and sometimes there are just too many options. I'm CERTAIN it will involve going out to dinner somewhere or other, and opening a few presents. Not necessarily in that order.)

Have a fabulous day, friends and followers!

(UNIVERSE, don't forget that we have a deal today. There will be none of the funny business of last year. It will be a day of UNMARRED enjoyment. Please and Thank You!)

P.S. If you're curious, I'm up to 74,600 words in my Helen rewrite, and I finally, FINALLY, got through both the first kiss (flying colors) and the wedding night scene (super awkward for ME, but the Alphas gave it a solid thumbs up across the board). It should be clear sailing from here, aside from the whole next part of the book being incredibly heart-wrenching in every way, I mean. :P