In the last six months, my goal to ‘Conquer the Backlist’ has nosedived into the ground. I’ve been creeping along in Adrienne Mayor’s Fossil Legends of the First Americans, and finally had some time where I was unable to work, unable to connect to the internet, and unable to write. Essentially, I had to sit around on my butt and read a goddamn book.
It was so nice. I generally don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but as this served as research purposes for the novel currently being scribbled in my spare, spare time, I wanted to dedicate some brain power to it. My future world-building was a stake. Mayor’s research had me reconnecting with the land instead, imagining a United States as an ancient boneyard covered in the remains of mastodons and dinosaurs. Mayor hypothesized that fossil legends are important to the historical understanding and enrichment of paleontological, anthropological, and archaeological studies—that many times large fossil finds correlate with specific oral legends. By using fossil mythology, not only can scientific evidence be gathered or pieced together, but those data points are pretty darn accurate.
Covering North America (but emphasizing the United States) in chunks, Mayor split up the book according to region and associated tribes, which added a unique flavor. Ideas and common threads pieced different tribal stories together—some distilled across space, others changed—showing a zoological assimilation of new data that became incorporated into legends that continued to evolve over time. Some of my favorites were fossil legends that came directly from places I’d been and considered part of my home—the place I’d gotten engaged was seeped in legend, the land my grandparents came from used to be a battleground between two giant monsters, the skeletons I’d seen in museums came from the earth of my state. It gave me new appreciation for those places and the only thing I wanted was more. More legends, more oral stories, which unfortunately had been lost.
And yet, strangely enough, some of those words had been incorporated into the scientific names of the prehistoric animals when they were ‘officially discovered.’ The old word for thunder crept into the Brontosaurus, potentially a thunder-creature because of the sound that might’ve come from its swinging tail. Wakan denotes a supernatural or strange ambiance to the unknown. In some languages, items are identified as being animate or inanimate—rocks and earth are most definitely thrumming with life. Additionally, learning how African-American arrival had influenced southern legends, creating elephant-like creatures or long-nosed monsters, was a facet of the ‘Notes’ section that I wouldn’t have read unless I looked. Mayor, I feel, had more evidence that could populate a whole other book on the topic–the Appendix and Notes sections could very well serve as more chapters.
To say the least, I’m curious to learn more about the history of America’s Bone Wars. Enough so that other nonfiction books will flavor my to-be-read pile.
It’s been almost a month since I attended my hometown’s science fiction and fantasy convention in Missoula. It was my first con where my debut novel, The Falling Dawn, was available for sale at the Fairwood Press table run by Patrick Swenson (and I’m so happy that Fairwood Press offered this opportunity, otherwise I would’ve been up the creek without a paddle).
I’d brought an overabundance of novels, anticipating I’d sell every single copy (I sold one, thank you very much, and I’m not even ashamed at how many times I walked by the table checking to see if they needed to be restocked). I had tee-shirts made up—and this was an ordeal in and of itself—with the book cover on the front and tasteful text across the shoulders. On the spur of the moment, I got my hair done up Viking-style with side braids and a huge epic braid poofed on top. My soon-to-be sister-in-law and make-up extraordinaire gave me a makeover with awesome peacock colors.
Last year’s MisCon had been inspirational and I expected this year’s to be no different. Then, most of the panels I attended had been full of useful tips of the trade that I remember to this day. It felt like a serious affair—I attended panels, dutifully took notes, and had a beautiful multi-colored schedule telling me where I had to be at the top of each hour.
This time, I was determined to have more fun. Not that panels and notes aren’t fun. Just intersperse it with hanging at the bar and attending things like villains’ trivia.
I couldn’t change my stripes completely though, and I followed Brandon Sanderson from one panel to the other, managing to learn about the three laws of magic and how to retrofit structure into a first draft. He was one of the better presenters I’d seen in a while—leading discussions, talking quickly enough that there wasn’t time to drift off, and also left time for questions.
The other panel I was excited about, but which ultimately got canceled, was a rated R panel about writing convincing sex. Curse you, time restrictions and overlapping which made the floor vendors need the room and the authors not willing to do the discussion outside! It’s okay, I found free wizard staffs and obtained a magical stick of power with seashells and a teal and gold leather handle. I have a color theme, okay??
Otherwise, it was a long weekend full of local strawberry wheat beer and tossing my newly made business cards into every table, nook, and cranny of the Con’s establishment, and getting the rush of selling one whole book to a newly-made friend.
Naming a character is like naming your first-born child. You agonize over very detail, even go so far as to pronounce the name under your breath to test the inflection. Lucky for you, you’re more concerned with how it looks on paper rather than how it sounds spoken in the real world. Who would ever have you pronounce these names out loud anyway?
So begins my guest blog post over at Outland Entertainment, whereI spoke about how I named my protagonist in my novel, The Falling Dawn: Celestial Scripts Book One. And no, I didn’t get Eos from the Canon camera or the lip balm.
Link to the Article: https://outlandentertainment.com/whats-in-a-characters-name/
I was over the moon to be featured over at The Qwillery! I detailed my personal Hero’s Journey while writing The Falling Dawn: Celestial Scripts Book One. Let’s just say it was a long intense quest to finally hold the printed book in my hands. It’s amazing, looking back, how much I learned.
Inspiration, that cruel yet wonderful mistress, swooped down on me one fateful evening outside of Makoshika State Park in Glendive, Montana. I’ll paint the scene: imagine the pillars and scoops of the badlands, the bones of ancient dinosaurs peeking out of the bedrock, the classic family vacation full of kooky grandparents and backseat sibling squabbles.
Link to the article: http://qwillery.blogspot.com/2018/05/guest-blog-by-gwendolyn-n-nix-heros.html
It was a pleasure to be featured on Rising Shadow this past week! My guest blog post “The Siren’s Song of the Trunk Novel” covered how I answered the enchanting call of my trunk novel, and how I completed it to be what is now my first novel, now published with Crossroad Press.
I put my book away. No more, I said, no more of this tale of two-tailed mermaids who transform into great white sharks, no more of this angelic civil war and pre-Biblical lore, no more.
I imagine my writer’s trunk to be a Victorian round-top steel and dark wood luggage piece when in actuality it’s my laptop, but either way I slammed the lid down. This ten-year saga of writing my first novel was over. Nothing would come of this huge monstrous tale: The Falling Dawn had indeed fallen.
Link to Rising Shadow guest post: https://www.risingshadow.net/articles/guest-posts/844-guest-post-the-siren-s-song-of-the-trunk-novel-by-gwendolyn-n-nix
I’m so excited to finally say Happy Book Birthday to my first novel, The Falling Dawn: Celestial Scripts Book One! It’s been a long journey to get to this point and finally seeing it on Amazon (with Prime shipping, you guys, Prime!) made me smile this big goofy grin.
As a first-time author, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do in the marketing realm of things. I created my Amazon Author page, my Goodreads Author page, and I lurked around the BookBub website. I’ve queried blog review sites and have created t-shirt—t-shirts, I say!—along with business cards for when I go promote the book at a local science fiction fantasy convention.
What else is out there for a newbie author learning the ropes? Any advice you writers out there have that you wish someone had told you?
I know this is a long con game and that I’ll be promoting these scribbles of mine until the end of my days, but at this point, I’m in the mindset to sneak my books anywhere someone might read them…the free book libraries around the corner from my work, the actual library, the local bookstores!
It’s such a rush seeing your novels live online. Something about it feels like you’re setting out to sea and your words have been packed in trunks, while your edits are the fat that have been left back on shore. It’s a voyage into the great unknown, sailing into the horizon of authordom, and it feels incredible. I’m going to relish in it. Soon enough, the journey will become hard again, my stocks of words will dwindle, and I’ll be back to square one.
But for now, look at that beautiful cover. Check out that link. Maybe I should get that ISBN number tattooed on me (978-1948929868). We’re building an empire, dear Reader, one book at a time.
Kindle ebook: https://www.amazon.com/Falling-Dawn-Celestial-Scripts-Book-ebook/dp/B07D1KM73X/
Smashwords ePub: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/827140