Experience Feeds the Writer: Glassblowing

currently playing on my iPod: I See Fire by Ed Sheeran

I’m not the one who said it first, but I’ll repeat all day long.

Experience feeds the writer.

Fresh experiences help you see colors in new ways, notice different sounds, live novel emotions, and so much more. If you hide in the writing cave, your writing will go gray. It will bore your readers. It will read flat, unreal (and not in a good way). It will suck.IMG_1019

So I tried glassblowing.

And it was AWESOME.

The seriously old art spoke to the history geek in me. We used beeswax to keep the jacks (tongs) from burning or breaking the glass. Beeswax. Not some new-fangled dealio. Just beeswax. When my hubs worked on his paperweight, he dipped a heavy, wooden spoon into water to keep it from scorching. The place smelled like a blacksmith’s forge, all heated metal and steam. I was transported.

The color of the heated glass amazed me. So orange. So absolutely gorgeous. Like a sunset snagged on the end of my pole (I can’t remember what they called the pole).

Contentedness curled up like a big, fat cat around me as I worked, turning, blowing, shaping, creating just for the sake of beauty.

Like I said, it was awesome.

Writers, get out there and live life. You can’t write big if you don’t live at least a little bit big. Experience feeds you. Get out there and eat.

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Writing Music

Photo on 4-9-14 at 9.47 AM

Every once in a while, I focus on some tunes that get me writing. Hopefully, these musical posts give other authors new muses and gift my non-writer pals with something fun to enjoy.

Zoë Keating is a cellist (person who plays the cello). She defies convention and builds her music, Ed Sheeran style. Instrumental. Haunting.

Howard Shore and Ed Sheeran dropped a masterful blend of beauty on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Mostly Instrumental. Acousticish. Folksy. Wistful.

Lindsey Stirling knows her way around a violin and a clubby beat. Mostly instrumental. Uplifting. Mysterious. Sexy.

My post would be incomplete if I didn’t mention Hans Zimmer. Anything by that man is a must. Lately, I’ve been enjoying his Angels and Demons work. Instrumental. Scary as hell. Pure awesome.

I hope your Wednesday is productive! Remember to get outside and soak up some experiences!

 

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Medieval Party Musts: A Bad-Ass Mazer

currently playing on my iPod: Sabotage by the Beastie Boys

Any medieval dude worth his salt knows you have to sport a fab mazer at your shindig.

What’s a mazer?

Oh, it’s a wooden drinking bowl, usually made of maple (German maser means spot, and maple is kind of spotty). If said medieval personage is super rad, their mazer’s rim will be silver or at the very least silver gilt. Inside the bowl, a funny little knob or boss sometimes boasts animals, inlaid jewels, or carvings.

These mazers were so very important to medieval feasts (their version of a kegger) that many were named. In Canterbury there were a few named bowls. Austin. Pylgrim. Bygge. If you had a silver, burr maple mazer with a print (the cool knob thingy inside) named Hank at your party in say 1325, you were the stuff.

Here’s my personal favorite. If you look closely, you can read the card and learn this one’s tied to Robert the Bruce of Scotland. So case in point, people. He is the king of bad-assery.

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Greyfriars Kirkyard: Ghosts, Cages, and Bones, Oh My!

currently playing on my iPod: Le Temps Presse by Les Shades

This is my first post in over a year. A year. Wow. If you care to know why, see the note below. If you don’t, I don’t blame you a bit. Your time is precious.

Onward.

On my first trip to Scotland, Greyfriars Kirkyard snagged my a good chunk of my heart and soul. It’s an old cemetery, full of history, eroding stone skulls, and if you’re lucky, sharp bones protruding through the damp grass.

No really.

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When I toured the kirkyard, our guide told us about how many bodies were buried in Greyfriars. 40,000. Yup. You read me right. During the plague, that joint was packed. Supposedly when it rains, shards of those unfortunate souls poke through the black dirt and jab unsuspecting passersby. *shivers* It could be a fun Scottish thing to do to tourists. Or it could be true. Isn’t it always more fun to assume the worst could happen?

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The tombstones in the place are enough to give you serious willies regardless of bone shard issues. Some carved skulls appear to bleed white lines of tears and blackened cherub faces are the stuff of gothic awesomeness.

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And the awesome doesn’t stop there. Many important folks’ skeletons reside in Greyfriars. Tutors to kings. Rebellious men who led armies in the name of their beliefs. Edinburgh residents who challenged the English’s attempts to bully them about. One of the most interesting historical points in the cemetery are the mortsafe cages.

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Men who ran Greyfriars built barred cages over graves beginning in the early 18th century to ward off the Resurrection Men. These guys would dig up bodies and trade them for cash to the medical students in Edinburgh. The researchers didn’t ask a lot of questions. They needed corpses to learn, and in that time, it wasn’t something with which the general public was okey-dokey.

If you’re curious about Greyfriars, take a deek (Scots slang for peek) around the Interwebs. It will make you shiver in the most delightful ways. Enjoy!

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*Now for the reason I’ve been away…I linked up with a fab group of local writers and focused on developing those relationships. Something had to give in the ol’ schedule. The blog was that thing. I have all my ducks in a row now and am excited to begin blogging again!

 

 

 

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More Scottish Fun: Accent Challenge and Slang

currently playing on my iPod: Electric Landlady by Kila

As I continue my research for my current ya speculative fiction, I thought I’d share more fun Scottish stuff via youtube.

I love/hate youtube. It can be a disgusting and sad place. BUT it’s also a treasure trove of experience, of give and take with people far across the pond. The first video I listed below was created by a Scottish girl who wanted to clear some slang-related things up for us non-Scottish folk. This southern US girl had to listen to her several times to understand all the words. Totally fun. It brought me right back to my UK trip this past summer.

Here she is.

This second video is a boy with a beautiful accent. He reads a list of words (part of the Accent Challenge) in such a straightforward manner that I just had to laugh. So Scottish. : )

Here he is.

Now there is a big difference in accents around Scotland. This video discusses some of the differences between Edinburgh and Glasgow. There is a good bit of heat between the two cities, but I’m not here to take a side. Enjoy this girl’s editorialized talk concerning the accents in the two places.

If you have any videos to suggest or other references, don’t be afraid to share in the comments below.

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Action Scenes: A Fighter’s Perspective

I guest blogged over at The Padded Room. Check it out, but be warned. I get pretty passionate about these things, seeing as I teach self defense.

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Parnassus: A Book Store that is Actually Working

currently playing on my iPod: The Loneliness and the Scream by Frightened Rabbit

My dear uncle *waves at the all-too-funny chemistry prof who used to play laser tag with me,* sent me a link today about Nashville’s own Parnassus bookstore.

I’ve been worried about them during this shopping season.

Why?

Because people talk big about loving books but when the time comes to buy stuff, they choose digital. It’s fun. It’s fast. Everyone is doing it. I’m not here to slam it. I read digital books quite often these budget tight days. But when it comes to my Christmas list, I want a beautiful book under the tree. I don’t want to have to charge it, hold it the right way to avoid the glare, or share it with Angry Bird loving preschoolers.

On the behalf of Parnassus and all the other bookstores struggling out there, I worried I was becoming a minority.

Not so!

It seems many of my fellow Nashvillians also long for a lovely tome under their Christmas tree or menorah. And we want it from a local spot, not Amazon!

Check this link out. Very interesting.

Good work, Parnassus! Stay strong!

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