Acceptance, Book One of the Acceptance Series

For more than two thousand years, a small community of humans has lived in harmony with vampires, giving their blood and obedience in exchange for protection. And for all that time, it’s been a peaceful occupation.

When Kalyn Reid comes of age and pledges herself to the vampires, she has no reason to worry. She’s paired with Anselm for her training, and she couldn’t ask for a kinder, more patient mentor. She also couldn’t ask for anyone better-looking.

But before she has a chance to learn her new responsibilities–or get a date–her idyllic life goes up in flames. Without warning, the humans and vampires in her group are murdered by a strange new type of vampire and the few survivors are forced to flee.

Anselm and his brother, Micah, vow to hunt down the murderer, and they take Kalyn with them–thinking they can keep her safe. But when the killer finds them first, it’s they who must rely on her if any of them are to survive.

It reminded me of Game of Thrones, except with less incest and more vampires. - Author Michelle Proulx

You can purchase this book on:

Smashwords (all e-book formats available)
Barnes and Noble Nook
Amazon Kindle
Amazon print

Still not sure if it’s for you?

You can download 50% of the book from Smashwords or preview it on Wattpad for free. Give it a try.

Plundering My Own Fabric Horde

So, how are things going with my writing and sewing projects? Well, despite the slow start, they’re going surprisingly well. I’ve made it a point to dedicate one hour each night to each project (I even have time to get in an hour of Sims, too!), and that’s keeping me well on track. I’m also getting 45-60 minutes of writing in at lunch every day, and between the two sessions, I’ve been more than making my daily word counts. I’m still hopeful that I will have my story done by the end of November.

I have to admit that I feel like an old pro tackling NaNo. I’ve conquered it three times (and failed it once), and I’ve had a lot of practice writing in between years. Working on a story that’s already somewhat plotted, I can write 800-1,200 words in an hour. Once, 1,667 words a day seemed like a monumental task, but now I can toss that out in my spare time without thinking anything about it. The old adage about things getting easier the more you practice applies to writing as well.

(And if it’s true that everyone has a million words of crap in them, I’m getting close to reaching that goal as well! My fanfic is over 300,000 words, and each of my books come in at 100,000 to nearly 200,000 words each (pre-edit). Not even counting blog posts, I think I’ve probably hit that goal. So maybe everything I write from now on will be gold! LOL)

As requested, here are some pictures of my sewing project. These are the pants.

DSCN0406

I put a boot on one leg so you can see how it’s supposed to blouse over the top of the boot.

DSCN0407

A close up. Pleating the leg to the cuff was a bitch, but it looks fab!

The fabric is a light sage-green flannel that is so nice and soft. And because these pants are so loose (I have them pinned tightly to my dummy; they’ll be even looser on my husband), they should be really comfortable to wear all day.

I ended up changing my mind about the color scheme when I found this fabric in the back of my closet. I’m still going to use the dark green linsey-woolsey for the coat (it will contrast nicely with these light pants), but I’m going to use some more found fabric–a dark gold cotton twill–for the tunic. It’s not as colorful as I initially wanted, but it pairs well and I already had all of it. (And someone gave me the gold fabric, so it didn’t even cost anything.) I’m going to do some quickie embroidery on the tunic for a little splash of color, then there will be the fox fur on the coat.

eastern_viking

A reminder of what I’m aiming for.

It’s a Blog Post about Nothing!

So, how did my weekend go?

I did no work on my fanfic and no work on the hubby’s Viking outfit. I did, however, (at the last minute and at great expense) put together my group’s newsletter (a needful thing, since it was due Monday) and I built the most awesome medieval house for my Sims ever!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now, you might legitimately ask, “How does building the most awesome medieval house ever further this month’s goals of making a Viking outfit and completing your fanfic?”

It doesn’t.

Of course, I could make the argument that I’ve been really busy lately and wasn’t recovered from last weekend’s demonstration and campout, and therefore I needed to sit on my ass and do mind-numbing tasks like scour The Sims Resource for blacksmith tools (found an anvil and hammer, but no forge) and laundry room supplies (found the mother-load!).

But that would sound like an excuse.

I could also make the argument that the Sims can actually be a great tool for writers because it allows you to design houses and other buildings that only exist in your head. Houses contained solely in the head are often vague and incorrectly proportioned; putting them “on paper” (if you will) allows you to correct design flaws and have an actual model to work from; your descriptions will be richer.

But the house I built doesn’t exist in any of my novels.

So, yeah, I totally goofed-off this weekend. And I don’t feel the least bit remorseful; it felt good to do a lot of nothing after doing a lot of everything; I wish I could have one more day of doing nothing. It was the ultimate in introvert recharging. Hopefully it will now give me the boost I need to knuckle down on my sewing and writing projects.

Speaking of which, I wasn’t totally unproductive on the writing front since my last post; Friday, during my lunch hour, I made a new…

Wait for it…

…Bloodsuckers episode!

Are you ready for the catch? (You know there’s a catch; if I had an episode ready, I would have posted it instead of this.)

It’s out of sequence. As is typical with me, I’ve written a scene in advance. I still have to go back and reread the series (because I’ve forgotten parts of it) and pick it back up with Scott meeting Josie’s parents for the first time at Hanukkah. The main reason why I stopped working on the story when I did was because I have no idea how to roll with that scene. It’s obviously going to be ugly, but it needs to be so ugly it’s good. I have high expectations, since I feel that the Halloween episode was the best one of the entire series; Scott meeting Josie’s parents should be no less great.

In other words, I’m paralyzed by my own sense of perfection.

But, if I can ever get over that hump, I’ll be good for a little while, because I’ve actually got several future episodes lined up and waiting in the wings.

With my fanfic hopefully off the table by the end of the month, we shall have to see if we can’t make December’s goal resurrecting The Bloodsuckers.

(You know, for a hare-brained idea born out of a concept for a sitcom based on the crazy stuff that happened in the law office where I worked, I’m really surprised at how well-received the series has been. People that I would have never expected to like something like that—like my mother and vampire-hating friend, Carla—frequently badger me for new episodes. People I barely know will randomly say, “I read your Bloodsuckers; when are you going to write more?”

People just like the idea of a real, blood-sucking lawyer. Or maybe they like the idea of a good guy who has been down on his luck, but is trying to make the best of life. Scott is a vampire, but he’s also an everyman.)

Oh, and because I know you’re reading this, Michelle, I did re-read Imminent Danger this weekend (between anvil and laundry basket downloads). All I can say is the next book better involve a trip to Rakor and I think a baby at some point would not be remiss, either. What better way to make Eris and Varrin even more hunted than if she was carrying the ultimate in royal bloodline corruption? Just sayin’.

(And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should check out Michelle Proulx’s book, Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight Into It. It’s a fun, romantic science-fiction romp. Michelle’s really great at imagining (and describing) aliens and I’m envious of her ability to create a believable anti-hero.)

A-Viking We Will Go

I am about to have a very busy November (so what else is new?)

I’ve decided that I am once again going to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). This is what produced my first and second books, as well as a redraft and work on the sequel to Acceptance.

This year, I’m going to use it to finish up my fan fiction so I can get that off my plate and move back to my books. Writing the fanfic was fun while I was in the midst of moving and didn’t have the time to work on my regular stuff, but now that we’re settled, I need to get back to my serious work.

(I’m also going to count any work I do on my blog towards NaNo, since I also need to revive that and get back in the habit of posting regularly.)

So, task number one: write 50,000 words in November. That should be enough to complete my story so I can move on to new things in the new year.

(Have I mentioned that I have an idea for a new romance novel? I’ve already got a basic plot planned and the time and place set. Ideally, I will get Flames of Prague published sometime next year and I will write the new book—tentatively called The Siege of Orléans—during next year’s NaNo.)

My second task for November is to make my husband a Viking outfit. A good friend of ours in the SCA recently lost his 7-year battle with cancer, and his wife is preparing a Viking memorial and sendoff for him and has asked that people come dressed. Despite the fact that we have a closet full of medieval clothes, my husband has nothing which is Viking-era. In fact, we almost never deviate from the 14th century. The exceptions are my husband’s Elizabethan, which he wore to a friend’s Renaissance-themed Laurel elevation, and a Saxon outfit that I made for myself on a whim.

Since the Saxons were repeatedly invaded by the Vikings—and a settlement of Vikings ended up living alongside the Saxons in England—my outfit will work. So that leaves me just making something for my husband.

What’s kind of odd about my husband not having anything Viking or Viking-era is the fact that “early-period” clothing is very commonly worn in the SCA. The T-tunic style is generally considered easy to make (although, for some strange reason, I’ve not found that to be true for me), you don’t need a pattern—measurements will do, both men’s and women’s styles typically take less fabric than most other options, and both wear better in the summer in the South than later-period clothing (that’s because Vikings roamed prior to the mini Ice-Age setting in, so summers in Europe were as warm or even warmer than they are now, and people all over dressed lighter than they did in later centuries).

So, needless to say, Viking wear is popular (even before the television show came out).

But I wanted to make something different—something you don’t see a lot of—while staying true to the theme of the memorial.

Swedish Viking While researching men’s Viking-era clothing, I came across this new interpretation of pre-Christian Viking-wear by Annika Larsson, based on digs in Sweden and Russia.

We knew, of course, that the Vikings traded/raided quite far into Russia for a few hundred years, but it’s obvious that they brought back some Russian clothing styles as well—although this style was probably local to Sweden. As we like to say in the SCA, “Viking” isn’t a people, it’s an occupation. And Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Gotlanders, and Finns—i.e. Norse people—went viking separately and quite possibly collectively. So, while there was a lot of trade and communication back and forth between them, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your Swedish Viking is wearing the same things as your Danish one.

Unfortunately, my husband didn’t like this style; he said it looked too much like an apron in the front.

eastern_vikingUndeterred in my quest for unique Viking wear, however, I continued to scour the internet until I came across yet more Swedish coats—this time, sans apron.

b043a7eb84bb60dccc9912af58aa8196This style met with his approval; we both like the horizontal bands across the chest. It’s also versatile. Late November in Tennessee can be cold or it might be decent–bordering on warm. We’ll be in a hall most of the day, which is climate controlled (and therefore warm), but may be outside after dark, when it might be cold. He can take the coat off if he gets too warm and put it on if it gets cold outside.

The coat will be a dark green linsey-woolsey and I’ve decided that the undertunic will be blue. The question now is what color I will use for the coat trim and the undertunic embroidery. I plan on trimming the coat with fox fur—including that shoulder piece from the red outfit—and make a matching hat. The fur is orangey-brown, so I’m thinking that red will clash with it (although I wanted to do red embroidery on the blue undertunic; I may end up not putting fox around the bottom of the coat so it doesn’t directly clash). I was thinking yellow for the trim on the green coat, but I’ll have to see what matches the fur.

Think it will look weird if I carry a somewhat mangey-looking old fox fur coat into Jo-Ann’s to compare fabric to it?

 

My PINK Cotehardie

I keep fighting to establish a routine in my life–like blogging once a week–but I keep getting distracted. Before, we lived far from our friends and family, and a good 30 minutes’ drive from the nearest city; it was easy to sit down and write a book or blog because there wasn’t much else to do. (That, and I had down time at work–something I never have now.) Now, we’re near almost all of our friends and my family, and everyone wants to visit with us, and when we’re not being social, we’re usually eating out or going to a movie (how novel!). And we’re also going to events again–now that we have money and live in a central location–and meetings and fighter practices.

At some point–surely–the new will wear off of us (and off the city) and we’ll go back to staying home most of the time. Then, maybe, I can blog again.

To catch up a little, I’ve been doing some serious sewing lately. I have gone to handsewing all of my clothing (with the exception of a quickie dress I’m making right now; I’m cheating and using knit velvet). One benefit to having high speed internet is that I have access to all sorts of new documentaries on Nextflix, Hulu, and YouTube; I love to watch (or more like listen) to documentaries while I work. It makes the project seem to go by faster, plus I learn stuff as I go. (The drawback to having high speed internet is CandyCrush.)DSCN0183

I made this pink dress like the yellow one I did last year. Here it is, inside out, on my dummy, with the lining partially attached. Unlike the yellow dress, which has a muslin lining, this one actually has a linen lining. And I don’t like it as well. Sure, it’s period-correct–unlike the muslin–but linen stretches. And when you sweat in it–as is wont to happen in Tennessee in the summer when it’s 90+ degrees outside–it stretches even more. Which means you end up with a lot less support in the bust at the end of the day and you start looking like you’ve melted–literally and figuratively.

I think I’m going to go back to muslin linings for all my dresses except the ones I enter into competitions. At the very least, no more linen linings in summer dresses; I think they’d do alright in the winter, but not the summer.

DSCN0185

Here is where the lining is sewn to the armhole. Check out that shoulder seam; it looks machine sewn. It’s not!

I really like half-lining or bodice-lining my dresses. It gives me the look of a lined dress without a lot of extra fabric. I learned to appreciate the beauty of a lined garment when I was at The Original Re-Enactor’s Market in England and everyone was wearing lined garments. However, it gets very hot in Tennessee. The first time I wore this dress, it was in the upper 90’s, with a heat index (thanks to the humidity that we have in abundance) of 104 (that’s 40 degrees Celsius for the non-Americans). When I lived in Ireland, by contrast, I wore a light jacket to the pub on the Fourth of July, made my mother mail me my flannel footie pajamas (which I wore all summer), and the hottest it got the entire time I was there was about 89 degrees (32 C). That lasted one week, then it went back to being comfortable pants and long-sleeve shirt weather.

And that was in Kilkenny, which is one of the driest, warmest parts of Ireland. I have a picture of me, in the middle of August–at the same time I would be melting in 95-degree, 80% humidity weather in Tennessee–wearing a zipped up coat and sitting huddled on a rock in the Burren on the west coast.

So, unfortunately, I can’t get away with wearing all the layers and linings that people in Europe can wear. Hence why I half-line.

DSCN0182

And here’s a picture of the sleeve. I learned my lesson from the yellow dress and flat-felled all my seams before I put in the lining.

100_6708

Here is is completed and right-side out. The vertical slits are called “fitchets.” This is the first time I’ve put any in a dress, and I have to say I like them. While they don’t have to be a contrasting color, I like the extra splash of color.

The yellow around the front of the dress and neckline is a tiny piece of braid made from embroidery floss. Despite my best ironing efforts, the lining wanted to roll up and show around the edges. On my yellow dress, this isn’t a problem because the lining is beige muslin and the linen is a pale yellow; you don’t notice it. But on this dress, the lining is a natural wheat color and it does show around the pink. So, in an effort to hide it, I braided the thread and sewed it onto the edges. This is meant to simulate the card-woven edges that were found on some woollen garments. (The purpose is to make sure the wool doesn’t fray on the edges and become fuzzy and ugly.)

While it was meant to be corrective, I ended up liking the bit of yellow trim around the edges. It gave it a very finished look.100_6710This purse was something of a first for me, too. I’ve made exactly one purse for myself and that was 11 years ago, when I first got into the SCA (and I almost never used it). Fitchets, however, make it a lot easier to wear a purse. Just tie on a belt under your dress, attach the purse and pull it through the hole. (If you expect cut-purses, though, you can keep it on the inside.)

The design on the purse is block-printed and I’ve never done that before (block-printing is period, although it seems to have been largely imported into Europe from the middle east and India–where it’s still done by hand today). I bought a block at the flea market in Nashville and this was the first time I tried to use it. It was harder to use than I expected; it wasn’t like using a sponge or rubber stamp. I guess the paint didn’t lay on the wood as well as it does on rubber, so it was hard to get the print to transfer without overloading it with paint and creating a blob instead. There was definitely a sweet spot that you had to hit with how much paint  you put on it. I found that putting my fabric on top of another piece of fabric–creating a soft work surface–helped. I guess the springiness of sponge or rubber helps transfer the pattern, too; since wood lacks this, you have to make up for it. Still, I made a number of impressions before I had one I was satisfied with (I used the second-best print for the backside of the purse).

In period, it’s unlikely that your purse would have matched your dress that well. It likely would have been made from a really nice fabric or embroidered, and most women would probably have only had one. So it ended up being worn with all your outfits, whether it matched, coordinated, or clashed spectacularly. (Although I’m not sure if medieval people had a sense of “clashing;” some of the combinations of color and prints you see in paintings really makes you wonder.)

I kind of don’t like how matchy-matchy the purse is, and yet I couldn’t think of anything else to make it out of that wouldn’t clash, and I hated the idea of clashing even worse. But if I do fitchets again–and I’m planning to in my next dress–I will probably make a purse that doesn’t match.

Speaking of my next dress, here’s the material for it:

DSCN0395

This is a light-blue and white Celtic key pattern. This is actually the reverse side. The front side is kind of a synthetic-looking chenille, but the back is a very heavy, nobbly cotton that passes for wool unless you touch it. It will make me a very nice, heavy winter dress (which I will like, since I get cold easily). I was just thinking that I might trim the neckline in white fur.

And, before I go, here is me wearing the pink dress. (Our camera lens was very dirty, so that’s why there’s a blur, even after I ran the pictures through Photoshop.)

Devious Altered

My yellow underdress is synthetic and barely stretches at all, so I managed to keep a decent-looking bustline all day at this particular event. But the first time I wore it, when it was so bloody hot, I wore a cotton gauze chemise under it that provided very little support on its own, and coupled with the stretchy linen, gave me what I termed the “melted birthday cake” look.

Good Picture Altered

In the 14th century, women often posed with their hands on their abdomens and their elbows pointed out. I learned, while wearing a sideless surcoat, that the reason for doing this is to allow the contours of the waist to be seen; if your arms are hanging down at your sides, it hides your curves and can make you look fatter. One of the reasons why I like the fitchets is that it gives you a place to put your hands, while creating that medieval silhouette. (Other people say that they’re nice in the winter for keeping your hands warm. I’ll find out in my next dress–especially if I trim the holes with fur. Mwahaha!)

The Five MOST DANGEROUS Weapons of the Middle Ages

In a recent Rolling Stone article, the following guns were named the most dangerous in America (based on how often they were used in a crime):

1. Pistols
2. Revolvers
3. Rifles
4. Shotguns
5. Derringers

Not to be outdone by the journalistic standards of Rolling Stone (and because you know I like medieval stuff), I have compiled a list of…

 The Five MOST DANGEROUS Weapons of the Middle Ages

 1. Swords

1. Swords  Swords are most commonly a double-edged weapon (although you may see single-sided, “saber” style blades in the middle east during this period). They differ from daggers (a type of knife) only by their length. There is no consensus as to where a long knife ends and a short sword begins, but swords are generally characterized by their usefulness in maiming and killing people, whereas knives tend to have less violent uses (such as cutting up meat). Swords were also worn as by the wealthy as a status symbol and a visible threat that kept 99% of the population repressed.Swords are most commonly a double-edged weapon (although you may see single-sided, “saber” style blades in the middle east during this period). They differ from daggers (a type of knife) only by their length. There is no consensus as to where a long knife ends and a short sword begins, but swords are generally characterized by their usefulness in maiming and killing people, whereas knives tend to have less violent uses (such as cutting up meat). Swords were also worn as by the wealthy as a status symbol and a visible threat that kept 99% of the population repressed.

 2. Arrows

archeryArrows could be used for hunting (which most medieval people did for sport rather than food acquisition), but they were most often used to deadly effect during wars. Crossbows (which shoot “bolts”) were so deadly that one medieval pope banned their use against “good Christians” (in typical medieval Christian supremacism, though, pagans, Jews, and Muslims were not protected by this ban). Possibly to get around this ban, the English invented a “long bow” which was like a regular bow, only longer. It proved to be even deadlier than the crossbow, thanks to its long range. Tens of thousands of French freedom fighters died in a hail of arrows from the English invaders during the “Hundred Years War.”

3. Poll weapons (including, pikes, halberds, poll axes, glaves, etc.)

Poll (or “pole”) weapons come in a variety of lethal configurations, but most of them consist of at least one bladed edge affixed to a long pole (although many also contain one or more spikes as well). Whereas swords were worn even during peacetime, and arrows were used for hunting, poll weapons were used solely on the battlefield and had no other purpose except to maim and kill—which they did horrifyingly well. Many of the gruesome injuries that are seen in medieval skulls come from these powerful weapons. In fact, the term “poll weapon” comes not from the pole that it was attached to, but from the fact that you were supposed to use it to strike your opponent on the head, or “poll.”

 4. Knives and daggers

knifeThese came in two forms: a single-edge knife and the double-edge dagger. Knives were typically used for practical purposes, such as eating meals, but daggers were commonly used as weapons. Both types were common among peasant criminals who were not allowed, by law, to own a sword–although the nobility also carried knives and daggers into battle where they might use them as a measure of last resort if they found themselves otherwise unarmed. After battles were over, however, these implements were frequently used to loot the corpses of the slain, cutting off armor, purses, and anything else of value.

5. Axes (short-handled)

BruceBattle-axes were popular in the early middle ages when primitive steel swords were too expensive even for many in the noble classes. Viking “berserkers” had a spine-tingling reputation for using axes to hack everyone—soldiers and innocent civilians alike—into bloody giblets. But even in the high middle ages, we see them used on battlefields as a back-up weapon for the nobility, or as a primary weapon for the conscripted peasant soldiers. Robert the Bruce famously struck Henry de Bohun at the Battle of Bannockburn with an ax—driving the blade through two iron helmets and the skull, before lodging it into the brain.

And rounding out the top ten:

6. Flails, ax handles, and other blunt objects
7. Pitchforks
8. Torches, Greek Fire, and other portable incendiary devices
9. Spears (this would have ranked #6, expect I had to factor in the Peasant’s Rebellion)
10. The Inquisition

Honorable Mention: War Horses. Heavy horse were often used to mow down opponents and break up enemy formations. However, while some people were undoubtedly killed by trampling, horses, by and large, only caused injuries, not direct death.