Monday, July 30, 2012

Flash That Blog, Girlfriend!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, step right up to my blog! I've been asked to join the 2012 Blog Flash! Everyday in August I will post a new blog posting with a picture. The posting will be 50-100 words about the picture. You never know what you may find. So be sure to stop by everyday and spread the word to your friends. 
I will continue with our weekly series, the book club and the Tasha Turner Blog Tour. Ya'll enjoy. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Where are all the pictures?

You may have noticed there are a lot less pictures on my blog than there use to be. The explanation can be found at this blog.

In response to my fellow blogger's ordeal I will no longer be using photographs that are not part of Creative Commons, under public domain or ones that I have not taken myself. If I have used a photograph that I did not take then it will be attributed to that source. Please be patient with me as I shift through the older blogs and try to find or take new photographs for those subjects.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.


TTVBT: The Unorthodox Writer

Doug Simpson: The Unorthodox Writer

I write books involving the survival of souls and spirits after the death of a human body, and the reincarnation of souls. I am not a fantasy writer. I believe that my books represent a fairly accurate picture of the world on-the-other-side, a world that most busy humans have no time to speculate anything about so they simply presume it is fantasy. If we want to acquire knowledge on a subject we know little about, we must undertake some serious research. I spent years researching souls and reincarnation, and continue to do so today, but there is no doubt in my mind that both of these exist.
If writing about a little-known reality that the majority of people think is fantasy is not unorthodox enough, my writing technique is going to drive the writing instructors right around the bend. The best way I can describe it is off-the-cuff. When I started writing my first novel, Soul Awakening, I had only a general idea of where it was going, and then it turned out that I was even wrong about that. None of my three completed novels were planned out in any detail ahead of time but simply developed as they progressed one chapter after another. Of course, there were times when the events in a chapter led right into the next chapter but when that segment of the story was concluded I often did not know where it was headed next.
I know some writers cannot imagine writing without a plan, which, I’m sure is fine for them, but I cannot imagine writing with a plan and this system works just wonderfully for me. I have always enjoyed a good mystery story where the reader does not know how it is going to turn out until the end, but try and imagine the fun involved in writing a mystery story when the author does not know how it is going to turn out until the end. A good mystery story keeps the reader wanting to keep reading to find out what happens next. A good mystery story also keeps this author wanting to keep writing so I can find out what happens next.
Is that unorthodox enough for you?
© Doug Simpson 2012
Doug Simpson is a retired high school teacher who has turned his talents to writing. His first novel, a spiritual mystery titled Soul Awakening, was published in the United States in October of 2011, by Book Locker. Check it out at It is available in print and eBook format through most book stores around the world. His magazine and website articles have been published in 2010 to 2012 in Australia, Canada, France, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. His articles can be accessed through his website is at

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Did you know in 1763, Britain used biological warfare against the Native Americans?

Biological Warfare in Calico

"You're probably correct, Private Cowley. Don't concern yourself with the location. We did our jobs. We verified the death of another Shawnee for Baron Jeffrey Amhearst. Thanks to the troops at Fort Pitt, François Lutree no longer presents a problem. Pierre should become contaminated once he touches his brother's body. With his death, the Shawnee loyal to France will have to trade with the British. It looks like we've had a glorious day, gentlemen. Everyone except for Cowley return to the station." - General of Turner's Station, pg. 8, Calico 
In the first chapter of Calico we are introduced to a scenario where the British have eliminated the Shawnee trading party through the use of biological warfare. When I was writing this scene I had based this scenario around a real event. You can read about it here:

The hardest thing to do when a reader is reading about something that happened in the past is to separate the present culture with the culture of the past. 

Do you think it was morally wrong for the British to have given the Native American's smallpox infested blankets? 

Do you think biological warfare is morally wrong today? Why or why not?

What are you wanting from the book club? 
Where are you at in the reading of Calico? 
Who is your favorite character?
What's your favorite line in this chapter?

If you need a copy of Calico you can purchase it here:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ellie Bates Chappell: An Author's Best Friend

My guest this Sunday isn't an author or a blogger but someone most readers don't think about. It takes more than an author and a publishing house to produce a book. Getting the book ready for publication takes a team of the people. That team includes beta readers (those who read your story before it goes to editing. It's their job to see if the story flows accurately, fits the genre, and word usage is correct), editors, formatters, reviewers, social media coach and the graphic artist. The graphic artist is responsible for creating the book cover, book trailers (like a movie trailer but for a book instead) and other media products your book may require for marketing.

Last month I began my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Full Sail University where I was introduced to a graphic artist and media arts student named Ellie Bates Chappell. Ellie is currently working on the book trailer for my book, Calico. As a graphic artist, Ellie, works with a wide range of creative projects. Here is her bio:

Born and raised along the Gulf Coast, I now live in Charlotte, North Carolina with my husband, three of our children (one is grown and is a working musician in Atlanta), our dog and the best cat in the world, Atticus.  I started my career at KUHT-TV, Channel 8 in Houston, Texas right out of high school in 1988.  I attended the University of Houston and received my bachelor's degree in Media Production with a minor in French.  I suppose you could say that I have an adventurous spirit since I have had so many different career experiences.  I worked on a couple of motion pictures as a film loader and camera assistant back in the nineties and also I taught myself graphic design in 2005.  I love all things advertising-design; copywriting; media, public and station relations.  I also loved working in the film business and would like to try using some of those skills that have laid dormant in my life for a while.  I have had my own freelance graphic design and PR business, C3 Design, since 2005 and hope to grow it into a 'real' brick and mortar enterprise in the future.  I am also a writer myself and enjoy working with other authors to promote their work in a variety of ways including but not limited to designing book covers, creating video trailers, and promotional pieces for print and web.

 Here are just some of the projects she has created.

Ellie can be reached at

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Here At Last! It's Here At Last!

The Allison Bruning Book Club!
Welcome to my Book Club! A place where my fans can sit back, relax and discuss about my books. Each Wednesday I'll post about something from one of my books and we'll talk about. Got an idea or question to ask me? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

It's FREE to join and participate. Just leave a comment below that you are interested.

Next Wednesday we will start our series with my book Calico. Calico is book one of the series Children of the Shawnee. You find on Amazon here
A haunting prophecy has been cast against her. In a harsh world deep within the western American territories of Ohio and Kentucky, French Duchess Calico Marie Turner must learn to survive among the Shawnee and to trust the one man who hates her the most, Chief Little Owl Quick as the Wind.Calico’s story will immerse you deeply into the world of the frontier Shawnee, where you will find characters at once surreal and totally believable. Bruning’s knowledge of Native American and colonial era language is captivating to read. Her understanding of the period clothing, habits, and lifestyle is evident as she weaves a tale that draws you in from the first chapter and leaves you hungry for more.

See you all on Wednesday!
Catch me tomorrow as we learn about Sequoyah: The Young Man

Sunday, July 15, 2012

TTVBT: Character Confessions

Character Confessions from the Not So Spotless Mind

My mind is constantly creating stories. Some come from inspirations from life, music, and sometimes even my nightmares. Others seem to pop into my head in random day dreams. They range from the very innocent of creatures or people that any child would love to read or hear about to things with fangs and claws that scrounge around in the shadows.  To ask, “Which comes first-the story or the characters?” is a lot like asking, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” I think for me it just depends on whichever seems to pop in my head.

Six years ago, I was looking through some of my composition books. I can’t really remember what prompted me to do so other than I wanted to be a bit nostalgic. I had found a story I had written for a class project. I thought it was somewhat bland yet there was something about it that birthed a spark of inspiration. It had been quite awhile since I had really sat down and written anything. The last thing I had written was for my best friend who had died tragically in a freak accident many months earlier. I had also lost my grandfather eight months prior to losing her. I had only recently taken up going back to the book stores and library. Getting books for my grandfather who was very fond of Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, and many of the classics had been fun. I would pick him up some books as well as pick some up for myself. When he died I had all but avoided books like the plague in my grief, yet I found myself almost a year after his passing in book stores and the public library. I’m starting to ramble, sorry for that. I began writing and before I knew it-I had run out of pages to write upon. I went to the store and purchased four composition notebooks, brought them home and began writing. By the time I filled them my story had ended and I had given birth to Guardians of the Night, which would later be re-titled by the vanity press I stupidly signed with, Renegade Night. It was my first vampire novel.

What inspired the characters? I can honestly say that when I began seeing the story-a young woman orphaned by a tragic and horrific murder by a vicious creature in the night brought my favorite movie monsters; vampires into play. So like any good sculptor or painter; I saw my heroine as she saw herself. She was a survivor and had dreams bigger than what the small town she lived in could afford her but necessity had kept her anchored. I saw her as a slightly curvy and petite young woman with gorgeously blonde hair (a salute to my mother who had been a gorgeous blonde), a mischievous elfin shaped face, and large violet-blue eyes. For my hero, I poured in every bit of fantasy I had in  me about what kind of man would turn me on and gave him a set of fangs. I wanted a tall and muscular kind of guy since his occupation was hunting renegade vampires but I didn’t want Lord Byron or Anne Rice’s Louie. I looked into history, and BAM! Inspiration struck. Alexi would be from one of Russia’s famous families, The Romanov’s(which just happens to be one of my favorite periods of history-the stories of Czar and Czarina Romanov) and that was what helped to develop his character. He was my reluctant vampire with ice packed around his heart and he was as lethal as they came. True to my own personality-I couldn’t have this story totally taken from history or so serious. Alexi had to have a counterpart and Dashell Baptiste was born! Dash loves being a vampire and loves the ladies! To him, all women are beautiful in their own way and are to be savored. Dash is forever trying to get Alexi to loosen up but Dash is not all hearts are flowers. Like the other Guardians in my story he is trained, lethal, and is serious when he needs to be. I wanted my vampire story to be a bit different than most. My vampires can walk in the day light and they are forbidden to prey upon humans unless it is a matter of life or death. I mean this is the 21st Century and we’ve learned how to bag blood. So there are no coffins but there is a villain and he’s truly a nightmare. Warren is cruel and for some reason he has fixated on my pretty little female who is oblivious as to why. He is an abomination; a Renegade and he’s more powerful than what had been thought of him. I visited some of my worst nightmares when I created him and believe me, they were doozies!

When I wrote my second book, that has been published as an E-book through XoXo Publishing in Toronto, Canada, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to write a shifter book. The inspiration for my characters from Cursed Awakening came from two different television programs. One was about women who had fled a certain religious cult and the other was about the plight of Native American Reservations on a segment of The Oprah Winfrey Show. The story began forming and I found myself really getting into the writing because I got to incorporate my love of Native American history and lore. I also looked at Urban Myths when I was developing some of the creature features for this story.

I believe that characters have to have chemistry. They have to balance each other. We’ve all read books where you have two sappy mains and they fall in love and live happily ever after-oh wait, that’s Disney. For example-Lainey Thomas is pretty average yet she’s no push over and very modern; definitely not your “damsel in distress” kind of gal. I want my heroines to be women that don’t look like Barbie. For my lone hero, of course I wrote him to be sexy but there’s more to him than his looks. Alexi is closed off and is strictly all business with no Margarita hour. However, they draw each other because they’ve both been survivors and both of them whether they realize it or not crave something more than their own existence. Don’t we all crave more than what we are? Isn’t there something you’ve not done yet but keep putting off? Something new you’d like to try? For Lainey she thought it was being a big time editor-for Alexi, anything but being a vampire worked for him. For Ivy and Nyx it was about trust. Man, we’ve all had trust issues over something at some point in our lives. I believe you have to constantly work with your characters no matter what genre or story you’re writing. They have to mesh well even if their hero or the villain. Even the Romero zombies have to fall in line at some point with their human counter parts. If they didn’t, the dawn would have never came for the dead-there would just be nearly two hours of zombies walking around the streets and that would be boring.

When it comes to titles, sometimes they come pretty easily to me and other times I labor over them obsessively because after all, most people’s interest is sparked by the title of a book. I would have been hard to spark interest for Guardian of the Dark Night if it had been titled, The Hottie in the Dark. My second book’s title came from a friend who read parts of it. Titles are important as much as the characters so my advice is to always take the time to really develop a great title.
So when you come up with a story, where do your characters come from? Do they come from your deepest desires? Are they sprung from your fantasies or your nightmares? Did you hear a song and simply feel inspiration or look at a picture? Basically what I am asking, “What came first your chicken or the egg?”

Author’s Bio
Nicole Noffsinger or Nikki as she is known is a 37 year old mother of two children and has always loved writing and creating stories from a young age. She lives with her family in a mid-sized Indiana town. Aside from writing she has an eclectic taste in both music and art, loves to travel, and has a great love of all things that go “bump” in the night.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Beware of Friday the 13th: Origins and Superstitions Abound

Beware of Friday the 13th! 
Cue the mysterious, eerie haunting music of the forbidden. Chills run up and down your spine. 3 Friday the 13ths this year each 13 weeks apart. Run for you lives! 

But....wait a minute, Allison

Why are we afraid of  Friday the 13? That is an excellent question. It all has to do with the number 13, Friday and our ancient origins. 

Friday...that auspicious day
Of all the days of the week, Fridays have been viewed as the most unlucky of days since antiquity. It was widely held that Fridays were the day evil did their work upon man. Christian mythology records these following biblical events happened on a Friday; 1) Eve gave the forbidden fruit to Adam and he ate from it, 2) God expelled Adam and Eve from the the Garden of Eden, 3) the day Adam and Eve died,  4) Cain murdered Abel,  4) Noah's flood began, 4) God destroyed the Tower of Babel and caused confusion of languages, 5) the temple of Soloman was destroyed by fire, and 6) Jesus was crucified. 
Fridays were execution days in ancient Rome and hanging days in Great Britain (there were 13 steps leading up to the noose). Superstitions surrounding the ill fated day of the week were first recorded in the late14th century when Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in The Canterbury Tales "and on a Friday fell all this misfortune." In the mid 17th references of the generalized fear of Fridays begin to make an appearance in Western Literature. One reference to the day written in 1656 reads, "Now Friday came, you old wives say, of all the week's unluckiest days." 

From the beginning of the 1800's to today there are many widespread superstitions concerning Fridays such as:
  • Clothing made on a Friday will never fit properly.
  • Most accident will happen on a Friday. 
  • Visiting your doctor on Friday will not have a good result. 
  • Never change your bed on a Friday, as it will result in nightmares and bad dreams. 
  • One should not move their residence or marry on a Friday, if they expect any good to come of it. 
  • Cut your nails of Friday and you cut them for sorrow. 
  • Friday is an inauspicious day to start a trip as "misfortune will bound to follow." 
  • Ships that set sail on Friday will have bad luck.  Don't believe me? Ever heard of the Urban legend of the H.M.S. Friday? Story goes, in an attempt to debunk the many sailors' superstitions centered around Fridays, the British government commissioned a special ship. They named it the H.M.S. Friday. The crew was selected on a Friday, the keel was set on a Friday, and she was launched on a Friday. They even went so far as to hire a man named Friday to captain her. It was on a Friday that she set sail on her maiden voyage, and as the story goes, was never heard of again. 
  • Never move or start anything new on a Friday.
The Dreaded Number 13

Whose afraid of the number 13? 

People who suffer from Triskaidekaphobia. Triskaideka...huh? Triskaidekaphobia is a phobia of the number thirteen. There are many people who suffer from this phobia. The avoidance of the number has even seeped through the American consumer culture. Here are some little known facts surrounding how people and society have avoided the number 13. 

1) Industrialist Henry Ford wouldn't do business on Friday, the 13th.
2) Multimillionaire Paul Getty once stated "I wouldn't care to be one of thirteen at a table."
3) President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would not dine in a group of 13 people.
4) Many hotel guests refuse to stay in Room 13, so rooms are frequently numbered 12, 12A, and 14.
5) Many tall buildings have no floor numbered as "13".
6) Some passenger airplanes skip 13 when numbering the rows of seating to avoid apprehension for the superstitious.
7) In Formula One and many other racing categories, no vehicle carries the number 13.
9) Hospitals and hotels routinely have no room number 13.
10) There is no sound stage numbered 13 at Universal Studios in California.The fear of the number 13 is a worldwide phenomenon. So where does our fear of this number come from?

Fears and superstitions surrounding this number are ancient as days.

  •  Early man could only count up to ten on his fingers and add two with his feet. Anything number beyond twelve was unknown this was viewed with suspicion. 
  • Ancient Egyptians believed the number 13 was related to the afterlife. A person took 12 steps in the living towards and the last step, 13, was taken into the afterlife.  
  • Ancient Romans saw the number 13 as symbol of death, destruction and misfortune.
  • In Norse mythology, 12 gods had a dinner party at their heavenly home of Valhalla. As they were dining, a thirteenth uninvited guest arrived to join them. His name was Loki. Loki tricked the blind god, Hodar, into shooting the god of joy and happiness, Balder the Beautiful, with a mistletoe tipped arrow that killed him. When Balder died the entire earth was plunged into darkness. 
  • Early Christians believed the number to be ill fated due to the Last Supper. Judas was the thirteenth man to sit down at the table and partake of the meal with Jesus. It is said that if thirteen people sit down at a table together someone at that table will die within the year.  
  • There are 13 knots in a hangman's noose 
  • The guillotine blade falls thirteen inches.
  • The thirteenth card of the tarot is the Death Card, depicting the Grim Reaper
  • A witch's coven has 13 members. 
  • Lizzy Bordon only spoke 13 words at her trial
Putting It All Together
Friday the Thirteenth is consider especially evil because of the convergence of the the number 13 and the day Friday. Just as some people suffer from the phobia Triskaidekaphobia, which is the fear of the number 13, there is a phobia for Friday the 13th called Paraskavedekatriaphobia. Symptoms can range from a sense of doom to full blown panic attacks. Some sufferers won't even crawl out of bed on Friday the 13th. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina estimates Paraskavedekatriaphobia affects 17 to 21 million Americans. Fear of Friday the 13th is not only limited to those suffering from the phobia. Americans share many widespread, generalized beliefs about Friday the 13th that affects our economy. Donald Dossey, the founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, estimated $800 - $900 million dollars are lost in business every Friday the 13th because people won't fly or do business that day due to superstitions.

Are you afraid of Friday the 13th?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And the Liebster Blog Award Goes to......

Allison Bruning! 

What an honor! I feel so blessed to have been nominated to receive the Liebster. The Liebster Award is my first blogging award. It's given to bloggers who are inspired by others and who in turn inspire others with their unconditional love and kindness.  With my deepest gratitude I would like to thank @JLenniDorner from for nominating me.

The Liebster Blog Award is given bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning: sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

The rules are: 

1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you with the award. Add the award logo to your blog.

2. Answer the eleven questions posted for the nominees.

3. Share eleven random facts about yourself.

4. Write eleven questions for your nominees and then...

5. Nominate eleven worthy blogs and contact those bloggers so they know about it! (No tag backs.)

Here are the eleven questions she asked of me:
1- What is the most inspiring blog prompt you have encountered?

I am in the middle of the Tasha Turner Virtual Blog Tour which runs from May 27th to September 9, 2012.  Each week bloggers are given a prompt to write about. One week I was asked to choice a picture then write a short story about that picture. This was hard at first because I wasn't too interested in the picture prompts I had been given. Then one day a picture prompt struck my interest. It was of two people standing on a wooden picnic table in the middle of an open wheat field. That picture lead to my guest posting called "Field of Grace" which can be read here.

2- What is the biggest step you have taken toward achieving your dreams?

My dream has always been to become a successful writer. My interests in the Creative Writing Arts was developed at an early age and grew as I became older. I had continued to write all the way through college but never sought to make it a career until about four years ago. That was the hardest decision I had ever had to make. Not because I don't like to write but because as an artist I realize that there are still bills to pay and not a lot of artists can live on royalty check alone. I am so thankful I have a supportive husband that is helping me to achieve my goals in becoming a successful writer. My first book, Calico, was released last year and the second edition of the book was released a few months ago. You can find Calico here,  I am still working on going from writing as a hobby to a career. With the success of my book I am continuing to hone in on my writing skills. Last month, I was accepted into the Master of Fine Arts program for Creative Writing at Full Sail University. My dream of being a writer is still the same but I am starting to see that being a writer can encompass so much more than just writing novels. I can write screenplays, television scripts, short stories and so much more. I want my books to turn into movies someday and I am learning how to write them at Full Sail University. I am also learning the business side of being a writer. I'm an author on the path of achieving my big dreams overcoming all obstacles with the help of my husband and God. The journey isn't over yet, it's only just begun. 

3- Who is your favorite fictional character of all time and why?

I just love Laura Ingalls Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie series. She is independent, witty and yet still maintains her female qualities. I love a strong female led.  I've read the complete series and have studied other writings by the real Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

4- What could someone say about a newly published book that would cause you to go get it immediately?

Realistic and provocative. I want a book that is going to challenge me to look at a situation from a different point of view. I want solid, believable characters that will make me feel as if they are real. I want to be so engross in a story that I lose time and place. 

5- What is the most fun activity you have ever engaged in with others online?

It would have to be the Facebook discussion groups. I have met a lot of people I would haven't ever met without Facebook. 

6- Do you care enough to change something in the world; and if so, what is it and how do you try to change it, and if not, why not?

I want to challenge people to love each other, accept people for who they are and truly listen without casting judgement. I am infamous for presenting a story through the unheard voices of the past, such as in Calico. Calico's story is told from the Shawnee people point of view, which we rarely get in the media, especially from a white woman who wants to stay with the Shawnee. 

7- What makes it all worth it?

Blogging and writing allows me to explore new worlds and get to know characters that challenge your thinking yet are fun to get to know. I'm learning about them as I write just as the reader is learning about them when they read my stories. 

8- Would it be better to be world famous for a failure or to be considered the greatest but only known by a small group of people?

Depends on what the bigger picture is. What would be the most beneficial to others? Would they learn more from my utter world known failures or by something only a small group of people know. 

9- Do you feel that the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do onto you) still applies in today's online world of tweeting, Facebook fanpage subscribing, and anonymous page/post commenting?


10- What is the kindest act that you have seen someone do in the past 30 days?

My neighbor came over and helped me with the yard work.

11- What does your blog offer to the world that no one possibly could?

I take my readers to historical places that some have long forgotten. I tell the little known stories that make you think and explore cultural aspects from my books that you may not get in them. I think also when we read about history we tend to see the historical figures as paper thin people or we honor them so greatly that they become as if demigods. I want my readers to see the human side of these people, the challenges and struggles they faced which made them who they were. I want you to see history not as a boring subject but as a vivid, realistic time. History tends to repeat itself. We should learn from the lessons the lives of our ancestors try to teach us. 

Eleven Random Facts About Me

1) I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. My patriot was Private Reuben Messenger of Connecticut. After the American Revolution my family has continued to fight in the wars to protect this county. Up until recently we have had a solider in every war. My family was given land in the Ohio Wilderness as a pension for their service in the American Revolution. We are first families of Ohio. I draw many of my stories from my family's genealogy. 

2)My half-brother is 20 years older than I (same father, different mothers).

3) I would rather go primitive camping than spend the night in a hotel.

4) I have both the Silver and Gold Awards in Girl Scouting.

5)I have won the Who's Whom Among America's Educators

6) I have a BA in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in directing stage, screen and television from the same university and program that Dan Blocker, aka: Haus Cartwrite from Bonanza, received his theater degree from. 

7)My favorite colors are blue, brown and green.

8)I still have my childhood teddy bear.

9) I am a couponer. I love a good yard sale, consignment shop and thrift store. I can usually find nice items at great prices and I'm known for walking out of a store with free items from my coupons. 

10) I am 6 foot tall, blonde hair and blue eyed. 

11) I am half German but do not speak the language. My father was a first generation American whose parents did not teach him the language.

I hereby nominate the following eleven bloggers to receive the Liebster Award!

So here are the questions I want to ask my nominees.

1) What is the craziest thing you have ever blogged about?

2) How and why did you get into blogging?

3) What is one thing most people don't know about you and would find surprising to learn?

4) Favorite genre and why?

5) Favorite type of candy? Why?

6) What is one piece of advice you would give to a new blogger?

7) How long have you been blogging?

8) What is one thing on the internet you couldn't live without and why?

9) If you could go travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

10) Ever had that infamous blonde moment? If so what's the dumbest thing you have ever done?

11) What the best movie you ever saw and why?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shawnee Enemies: The Cherokee

My Enemy, My Friend?

This week we are going to take a break from the Course of the Corset to learn more about the Cherokee. Next Tuesday, the Course of the Corset will return with a look into Victorian Corset. But for now, sit back and get to know more about one of the Shawnee's enemies, The Cherokee.

Native American politics can be complex and hard to understand sometimes. The Shawnee and Cherokee relations are just that, complex. The Shawnee people have a love/ hate relationship with the Cherokee. These feelings are rooted deep through Shawnee history and the cultural differences between the two groups. Yet there were times the Shawnee did interact with the Cherokee without attacking them and vice versa. Today, an intertribal group of Shawnee and Cherokee known as the Loyal Shawnee live in Oklahoma. Although they are known as Cherokee Shawnee, they are federally recognized as Shawnee. You can read more about their story at

Just who were the Cherokee?

 The Cherokee 
It All Begins at Home in the Past. 
A member of the Five Civilized Tribes, the Cherokee lived in the Southeastern portion of the the United States and are descended from the Mississippian Culture. The Mississippians were a group of mound building tribes the developed their culture deep within the Mississippian Valley beginning around 800 AD. The Mississippian culture is marked by nine distinctive traits that unify them, although the tribes may have expressed them in different variations. Wikipedia sums them up like this:
      1) The construction of large, truncated earthwork pyramid mounds, or platform mounds. Such mounds were usually square, rectangular, or occasionally circular. Structures (domestic houses, temples, burial buildings, or other) were usually constructed atop such mounds.
      2) Maize-based agriculture. In most places, the development of Mississippian culture coincided with adoption of comparatively large-scale, intensive maize agriculture, which supported larger populations and craft specialization.
      3) The adoption and use of riverine (or more rarely marine) shells as tempering agents in their shell tempered pottery.
      4) Widespread trade networks extending as far west as the Rockies, north to the Great Lakes, south to the Gulf of Mexico, and east to the Atlantic Ocean.
      5) The development of the chiefdom or complex chiefdom level of social complexity.
      6) The development of institutionalized social inequality.
      7) A centralization of control of combined political and religious power in the hands of few or one.
      8) The beginnings of a settlement hierarchy, in which one major center (with mounds) has clear influence or control over a number of lesser communities, which may or may not possess a smaller number of mounds.
      9) The adoption of the paraphernalia of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (SECC), also called the Southern Cult. This is the belief system of the Mississippians as we know it. SECC items are found in Mississippian-culture sites from Wisconsin (see Aztalan State Park) to the Gulf Coast, and from Florida to Arkansas and Oklahoma. The SECC was frequently tied in to ritual game-playing, as with chunkey.
The complex society of Mississippian Culture flourished until 1500 AD. The map on the right shows their locations. At this same time, the ancestors of the Shawnee were known as the Fort Ancient Culture, which is located at the top of the map. It is interesting to note how isolated the Fort Culture society is when compared the vast Mississippian cultures. This isolation helped to create the cultural differences between the Cherokee and Shawnee.

See the video below for more information on the descendants of the Mississippian Culture. 

The cultural remnants of the Mississippians are found within the Cherokee and her sister tribes of the Five Civilized Tribes. The Five Civilized Tribes include: the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole. They term Five Civilized Tribes first came into use during the mid-nineteeth century to identify these closely related group of tribes. The term represents the tribes' willingness to assimilate into European way of life through adopting the European culture as their own. Members of the Five Civilized Tribes intermarried with the Europeans, adopted Christianity as their religion, wrote constitutions, maintained a centralized government, owned slaves, dressed like the Europeans, accepted patrilineal descent, became literate, settled on farms, and lived in European style houses. All the tribes accepted this long before the Removal Act. Their willingness to abandon the native ways and adapt to the European way of life often put them at odds with Shawnee. While the Cherokee were adapting, the Shawnee strove even harder to keep their own cultural identity through strict conservatism. The Shawnee taught their young never to abandon the Shawnee ways and too keep the creed their creator had given them deep within their hearts. 

Join me Saturday as I introduce you to a Cherokee silversmith but the name of  George Gist, better known as Sequoyah, the father of the Cherokee language.

If you were a Native American would you adapt to the white ways or try to keep your cultural identity?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

5 Sparks that Jump Started Scott Bury's Book.

What kicked off my current book?
By Scott Bury

My current book — the latest one now on the virtual bookshelves — is The Bones of the Earth. I like to describe it as “historical magic realism,” but many classify it as epic fantasy.
What was the spark? There were several that combined into a blaze.

Spark 1: Dissatisfaction With Dragons
When my children were still pretty small, I thought I would like to write a story about dragons for them. They enjoyed The Hobbit, but my wife pointed out that the dragon really wasn’t in it for that long. My children also enjoyed My Father’s Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon

But I was dismayed when I looked at the bookshelves. Stories about dragons for a long time have been about nice dragons, dragons working with humans, dragons that let people ride on them like horses.

I did some research into the oldest mythologies about dragons. There is a lot of variation, but one common idea  I wanted a story about dragons as ancient, the oldest creatures in the world. In Chinese mythology, dragons teach humanity the art of agriculture. In almost every culture that has dragon myths, they’re symbols of fertility and the power of the natural world.

That’s what I wanted dragons to represent in my story: the life force of the earth itself.

Spark 2: Coincidence of Calamity!
In 2001 or so, I came across something on the Internet (or maybe it was the radio, or something else — for the life of me, I can’t find it again), which posited that, if they actually existed, both King Arthur and Beowulf died in the same year: 535 CE. I wondered, what was going on at that time, which we in the West in the 21st century call the “dark ages,” that would account for two bright lights of  civilization in that dark time, dying at the same time? Was there some force that was working to eradicate civilization?

Then I read David Keys’ Catastrophe! He said that the last time global climate change transformed the earth was in the sixth century CE, during the Dark Age. He theorized that the cause was an enormous volcanic eruption, probably of Krakatoa. The ash cloud spread over the entire world, according to keys. Crops failed because of lack of sunlight, putting more stress on civilizations from China to Persia to Rome, Africa and even Mesoamerica.

Keys  states that the eruption and the cooling of the world’s temperature is what brought the Bubonic Plague from central Africa to spread around the world. The first appearance of the Black Death actually killed the Roman Emperor (most of us today call him the Byzantine Emperor) Justinian, as recounted in William Rosen’s book Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire. Yes, the Emperor Justinian died of Bubonic Plague, inflicted by a flea bite, in 565 CE.

The climatic change also led to more waves of so-called barbarian invasions across Eurasia. The Avars, swept across Eurasia and invaded the eastern territories of the Roman Empire in the sixth century. At one point, they executed 90,000 Roman Legionnaires they had captured when the Emperor Maurice refused to pay the ransom.

So when did this multiple calamity-causing volcano erupt? In the year 535 CE. The same year that Arthur and Beowulf died, I thought. What a coincidence.

Spark 3: Natural Nastiness
The volcanic eruption was not the only natural event that threatened civilization in that era. I read elsewhere that the sea levels were rising through the Dark Ages; there is evidence of drowned villages near the shores of the Black Sea, which indicates that the sea was significantly smaller at one time.
The climate was changing, partly as a result of that world-spanning ash cloud, but that had several other impacts that overall made human life more difficult.

Spark 4: Faith Fractures
The school systems don’t teach much of the history of the sixth century, nor about the Eastern Roman Empire. Just enough to spark my curiosity. 

One of the oversimplified ideas we’re taught is that religion was incredibly important to people at that time. It played a much larger part in everyone’s daily life than it does today.

But just a little research shows that faith was fractured and changing. The religious ideas, the tenets we accept as inarguable today, were hotly debated among the Christians of the day. Whether Christ was half human and half divine, versus completely human and completely divine, caused riots more than once. Then there were riots against the Jews and more riots over all the other abstruse religious divisions. Was Mary Magdalene the “fallen woman”? And what about all those gospels? Do we include those of Philip, Mary Magdalene, Thomas and others in the main part of the canon?

Meanwhile, most of Europe at the time was not Christian, so there were debates beyond Rome’s borders over the nature of religion, itself.

And don’t forget that by 600, there was another religion rising just outside Rome’s borders, one that would suddenly conquer half the known world.

Spark 5: Limits Of Literature
I read pretty widely: history, science, classic literature, magic realism, fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, and occasionally a best-seller.

I began to realize that the books pushed hardest by the major publishers and their allies in the newspapers and magazines that review books (which are owned by the same conglomerates) have a certain ... sameness. Tropes, sacred cows. Certain beliefs and certain characters and situations that keep repeating. Some ideas get repeated until they’re almost gospel and some ideas get almost no attention. I wanted to do something completely different. Now, I believe part of the writer’s job is to bring together different idea, connect the dots in new ways. I took these dots and looked for some ways to connect them. How did I do?

I’ll let you decide that for yourself.

The Bones of the Earth can be found on Amazon.

Scott Bury is a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.
The Bones of the Earth is his first novel to be published.
He has two sons, an orange cat and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. You can read more of Scott’s writing at Written Words and Scott’s Travel Blog, and on his website, The Written Word. Follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.