In which I embrace and celebrate my historical-geographical nerdiness

It’s amazing sometimes what you come across. For anyone interested in France, the history of France (or Europe), and maps, this is pretty wonderful.  Bless the Wikipedians, say I. 

Watch this dynamic map and it will show you how the borders of France changed over time, lands lost and gained. It would be even more interesting if they had links to the wars that were responsible for the shifts, but that would be a fun little project at some point when I’m bored.

I embrace and celebrate my historical-geographical nerdiness. Nerditude?

French borders from 985 to 1947

By [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Character Sketches: Your Input

For a while I’ve been thinking about the best way to put together character sketches for characters in all of the Wilderness novels and GH. Not a small undertaking, I know, but I think of it as a long-term project.  

There are many websites/wikis devoted to book series and movies that do a good job of this.  Examples include Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games) has a character sketch which is exhaustive and very carefully put together and  Debra Morgan (Dexter) is another example of a very intense and detailed character breakdown. Wikipedia has character pages for fictional characters across time and space (here’s the Wikipedia very elegant approach to Katniss Everdeen). Game playing sites go to great lengths and make very complicated character infoboxes.  Wikia provides an example character template which would not work for fictional characters, but could be adapted. It’s interesting to see what they throw in, at any rate:

{{Character Infobox
| name                     =
| image                    =
| alternate name           =
| aka                      =
| d.o.b.                   =
| age                      =
| birthplace               =
| residence                =
| race                     =
| height                   =
| weight                   =
| shoe size                =
| hair                     =
| eyes                     =
| body shape               =
| tattoos                  =
| jewellery                =
| dress                    =
| appearance-other form    =
| dress                    =
| emblem                   =
| markings                 =
| accent                   =
| language                 =
| weapons                  =
| transport                =
| motto(s)                 =
| favourite music          =
| likes                    =
| dislikes                 =
| pastimes                 =
| family                   =
| powers                   =
| fighting style           =
| food                     =
| businesses               =
| lovers                   =


janeaustencslistAt (a kind of Jane Austen super wiki) there’s a simple but effective approach, as you see here to the left. Click for a larger image.

Every once in a while I spend a half hour experimenting in the best way to do this for my characters. Full disclosure: this is something I should have been doing since the beginning.

The easiest way would be to do it just like the Pemberly folk have done for Jane Austen’s characters. So for example anybody who wants to contribute would go to the page for a given novel and leave a comment (if this were a proper wiki, you could edit the page yourself, but in this case, a comment would be enough):

Endless Forest (W6). Mr. Turner. Shopkeeper in Johnstown  who sells Ethan and Callie supplies.

That would certainly be a great start if I could compile a complete list of all characters showing up in the novels.  But historical novelists are OCD by nature and so I also imagine a more detailed accounting, something like the following, for characters who are more substantial. Rough example:

Full NameEthan MiddletonImage/AppearanceBlond, middle height, elegant build
Role__Primary __Secondary __Transient
Date of Birth1792
Place of Birth[[Paradise]], Hamilton County, NYAppearing inW1, W3, W4, W6
Date of Death
Place of DeathHudson River (steam boat accident)
OccupationOwner of most of the town of Paradise, town manager and plannerQuote"I'm a cousin, but I go home eventually to an empty house and I don't like it. You're alone in the world too, and we have always got on just fine. I thought we could help each other." W6
BiographySon of [[Julian Middleton]] and [[Kitty Witherspoon Middleton Todd]], nephew of [[Elizabeth Middleton Bonner]] born after his father's death. Raised by his mother and step-father [[Richard Todd]]. As a young man spends two years. .Marriage or other romantic relationships--Harrison Quinlan, short term
--[[Calista WIlde Middleton]] married 1824
SourcesW1, W3, W4, W6, GHChildrenGuardian to the children of [[Jennet Scott Bonner][ and [[Luke Scott Bonner]] after their mother's death
Factual Conflicts

Before this could get started there’s a big decision to be made: should all of the character sketches be folded into  The Gilded Hour kinda-wiki or should I start a separate wiki for the Wilderness novels. The thing is, I don’t expect this to take off right away or at all, even, so that’s something that could be discussed. So the question is, if you are one of those people who re-reads the entire series on a regular basis (and bless you if you are), would you be interested in participating in the very brief way described first above? You’re plowing through Lake in the Clouds for the xxth time, and you come across Captain Mudge and you wonder, hey, has he been entered into the character list yet?   So you’d go to the page for Lake in the Clouds and leave a comment:

LitC W3. Captain Mudge. Captain of the ship that takes the escaping slaves to Canada.

Now, somebody might come along and say, wait, he has a first name. Or, he’s too big a character for a one line entry, he needs a full template because ….

So then that would be a debate. This kind of discussion is common on real full-size wikis, because the community puts the entries together and debates about the best way to do it. I don’t imagine that anybody has a lot of time or energy to devote to something like this, but maybe contributing once in a while when you come across something — that would be the idea. 

If you know of a website that uses character templates that you like, please leave a link in the comments. I’d be interested in seeing what appeals.

Now I have to go back to writing a very difficult scene. 

Conversations & Comfort

After experimenting with a spoiler-full discussion board on the GH website and asking various people for feedback about that, it is clear to me that I haven’t yet found a configuration that works. I’m trying to decide whether to scrap the idea all together, or to try something new. 

Just another pole.

Just another pole.

I would like to have a place where people would feel comfortable asking questions about GH and my other novels, and more important still, where people might actually discuss the work. This is pretty self-serving, I’m happy to admit: it’s both useful and interesting to see how readers interpret what I write, what confuses them or works for them.  Of course the fact that it is a board that I set up means that some people won’t be comfortable voicing their opinions, no matter how clearly I say that I do not take offense at constructive criticism offered in a mutually respectful setting.  

So you see my dilemma.  Thus we have yet another poll (a double one, this time) that I hope people will take a few moments to respond to. It would be a great help to me. You are welcome to make additional remarks in the comments, but that is by no means necessary. 


Conversations & Your Comfort Zone(s)

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If you chose the first answer in this first poll, you’re finished — and thank you. If you chose the second or third, please go on to the next poll.

Conversation Settings that Would Work for Me

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Having trouble commenting? Two fixes. I hope.

subscribeI think I’ve identified the problem some people are having with  leaving comments.  It seems that the only time this is a problem is when people are on a mobile phone using a browser.  The weblog is set up to be mobile-responsive, but clearly that isn’t working for some people.

Joelle has run into this and worked out a solution:

I have found that if I am reading the post through the bloglovin app or if I link to it from Twitter or Facebook then I don’t see the comments or the comment form. But I’m always on my phone when I do that. And if I click to view full site it all works just fine. Ironically, if I try to view the website from the laptop it always defaults to the mobile version so I have the same problem. Again, clicking to view full site fixes it.

 Another solution: if you routinely read the weblog and comment by iphone or android, this would be solved by subscribing to get posts by email. You could then comment (and enter giveaways) by answering the email, avoiding mobile browser complications completely. If you try this out could you please leave a comment here (assuming you can) to tell me so? Thank you for your help with this.