There are so many varieties in so many different styles! Hats have been worn as uniforms, fashion accessories, and protective gear. They’ve been worn because of religious reasons, to protect from the sun, to provide warmth, or even to indicate social status. And did you know that they date all the way back to 3,300 BC?
National Hat Day this January 15
People look great in hats. Hats are adorable—on everyone. They are stylish and they protect from the harmful rays of the sun. Hats keep you warm in winter too!
Hats for generations
For many years I was a hat girl. I think my earliest memory of a hat was a knit hat that tied under my chin. I was five years old. I remember wearing it to kindergarten and that I didn't want to take it off when I was inside. Eventually the nun who was my teacher talked me into removing it. That worked until it was time to put the building blocks away. I did. I put them in my hat and put the hat back on my head and that was that.
In college and as a young adult I wore a black felt "hippie" hat with a moderate brim when I performed as Mary Phoenix, the blues singer and mad poet/psychic at the local coffeehouse Half N' Half in Memphis, TN. This evolved into the last and best hat I ever had. It was a cartwheel black vinyl slicker hat that flipped and flopped and looked "witchy" -- the statement of those misspent years. Yes, that's me in the picture wearing that hat circa 1969.
In the early 70's the hat and I parted company and there really never was another. I've never found one I liked as well, but I'm still looking. I've also passed on that style "in my blood" to my daughter Ruth and her daughter Estelle. We love our hats.
Did you ever have a favorite hat or a story involving a had you owned?
Would I write about a heroine in a hat? Sure!
Most of you know of my main series Children of Stone - a magical tale of Ancient Egypt and other dimensions. If you know me well enough you know I love time travel stories with a just a slight touch of Steampunk, too.
As an experiment, I took two characters from my series. Djerah and Maatkare, and "Hopped" them into 1875 in Blountville, TN near a place where I own some property in real life. There they cross paths with an old maid schoolmarm who is trying to solve a mystery of her twin sister's disappearance. Her name is Hattie, short for Harriet, because she loves her hats. The hats play a minor part, but here's a piece of my WIP "Miss Hattie and the Hoppers" before she meets the guys. She will call them "Moon Men".
The children had cleaned out their desks yesterday and helped me count the tattered old McGuffies Eclectics to see if I needed to replace some for next year. We put the chalkboards on the shelves and covered them with dust cloth, then had a little picnic outside before the children went home. I wouldn’t see most of them outside of church until September.
Today I had cleaned the classroom, swept and washed all day, then sat at my desk for a moment to rest. There were a few letters in a stack for me to answer, but I knew I could do that at home. I put my head down and drifted to sleep.
Hattie. I see you. I could hear her laugh. I see that hat on the shelf. Is that the latest style? A little straw hat with feathers and flowers on top? You look so old with your hair up. I could almost see her in my minds’ eye, but she was dressed in strange red and yellow night dress. If that wasn’t distracting enough, she said:
I’ve seen how things were. I tried to get back, but something went wrong. You know how we used to leave clues in our things? Look on the key. She laughed. I tried to go to her, but Jay birds screeching outside woke me about the same time I realized I had been dreaming.
Jay, Jay Jay!
I’m up. Thunder. What has me feeling this way? It’s like a fever and an itch and a pain of mystery. Key? What key was she talking about?
The angle of the afternoon sun coming in the windows of the clapboard schoolhouse showed me it was getting late. I needed to hurry so I could eat Friday dinner at the Inn and get home before dark. There was one more thing to do. I pushed the chair from behind the desk so that it went next to the shelves with the put-away supplies, then climbed onto the seat.
Of course, I almost slipped and fell when I tugged on the heavy crate of locks that were on the high back shelf. Slowly edging the box forward, I carefully eased it down to my desk. It’s not a woman’s work, but I didn’t want to wait for the Schoolmaster from the upper school to come do it for me and then complain about his back the whole time. Inside were the dozen iron and brass locks we put on the school doors and window shutters at the end of each school year.
I pinned my hair tighter and stuck the hatpins in my hat, slammed books and papers into my worn brown satchel and trudged outside with the box of locks so I could more easily go around the building to close the shutters. I dug the big old skeleton key and locks out of the box. The key? I froze solid as winter morning ice when I looked at the key I’d been using for five years.
When did that get on here? I wondered. I’m sure this wasn’t on here before. Someone scratched a little eight-pointed star that looked like the mark I had seen on Caddie’s letter and in the flap of some of her mythology books still in our room at home. This one looked like it had been etched with a tooling press.
I shivered. If I hadn’t just had a dream in which Caddie told me to look at some mysterious key, it would have merely been amusing. Now it worried me.
Am I hearing things now that it’s May and I have time to pay attention? When I am teaching I don’t hear them. If I told him, Pastor Gray would say it was the devil coming to tempt me from the right path now that school was over for the summer. I would have to be careful mentioning the dreams. God-fearing folk would think I had lost my mind.
I knew what I had dreamed about and looked at the key again.
The mark was still there. It hadn’t been a case of me being tired and mistaking some random mark for an eight-pointed star.
I locked the padlocks on the doors and windows, put the empty box in on the tool bin outside and fetched Mabel out of the grassy shade. I tucked the key in my bag and decided to show it to Jimmy to see if he knew anything about it.
Last week I introduced you to author Cindy Tomamichel, author of Druid's Portal.
Today she brings you her character Trajan Aurelius.
Go ahead and introduce yourself.
I am Trajan Aurelius. I am – or was – the fort commander at Pons Aelius. Since travelling in time, I have found out that it is now known as Newcastle, and Britannia as the United Kingdom. Things have changed a bit in 2,000 years. I have found people remain much the same.
Tell us where and when you were born.
I was born on my Fathers farm, in the foothills outside of Rome. I believe around 150AD in your reckoning of time.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a soldier of Rome, and let none say I have not done my duty – and more - for the Empire. Yet I was forced to question everything on meeting Janet, my flame haired goddess from the future. I had lost my family, and had seen my friends die in all the furthest outposts of the Empire. In disgust at the excesses of the new Emperor, I travelled to Britannia, determined to set this chill country on the road to Roman civilization. I was seconds from death when Janet arrived, and changed my life.
Tell us about where you grew up.
I was raised on the farm until I was 6, where my Father raised cattle, and grew wheat and we had an ancient olive grove that was carpeted with herbs that my mother used in cooking. I had to look after the chickens, and built a snail farm which was very successful- perhaps too much so when they escaped and ate all the salad greens. But in order to continue my education I was sent to my uncle in Rome. There I attended the senate debates, and sometimes we went to the Colosseum and watched the gladiators.
How old are you?
About 30. An old man in my time, when a lifetime of 40 was considered your lot on this life.
Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
My family is related to the late emperor Marcus Aurelius. I was raised in the expectation of joining the army, there was never a choice. I studied battles of the past, reading the accounts of Hannibal, and dreamed of seeing a war elephant. To be busy, and doing your duty is a happier way of life than idleness.
Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?
I was married young to a woman chosen for me by my parents. While I cannot say I loved her at first, when she held my son in her arms, I vowed I would protect my family. That I was unable to keep my vow has been one of the bitterest moments of my life.
What do you value above all else in life?
A man should value his duty, and his honor, and in doing so, hold to his personal vows. A dishonored life is not worth living. Yet even the dishonorable man may be redeemed by his actions.
What are you obsessed with?
Garum, the future is sadly lacking in this delicious fermented fish sauce that makes everything taste better.
How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?
I believe that the Roman Empire makes life better. Despite the deaths that occur during an invasion, the end result is that children live longer, and the old are in better health. People are free to adopt Roman gods, and local beliefs are honored. This current civilization holds still to the foundations that Rome established, and I am proud to have been a small part of that in the past.
A man should face his fears – how else will he discover courage? However, I find confined places underground unpleasant, and do not seek them out willingly.
What line will you never cross?
The Rubicon – ha ha!
What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?
The best thing would be meeting Janet, and all the adventures we had. The lowest point of my life was returning from battle to find the Black Death had swept through Rome, killing thousands, including the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and my family.
What was the most embarrassing moment? I got stuck in a bog once on patrol, and had to be hauled out by my centurions. They never let me forget it, and I had to endure many fish jokes.
Biggest secret? It is a family secret, and one I cannot reveal until the time is right. It controls the destiny of my family.
What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
What is your current goal?
Growing old with the love of my heart, my flame haired goddess, Janet. Helping to train future generations in the skills they will need to travel the time portal. They are all skilled in languages, use of the sword, and the many dirty ways there are to survive in a fight. I surely don’t know where they picked up so many Latin swear words!
Druid’s Portal: The First Journey
A portal closed for 2,000 years.
An ancient religion twisted by modern greed.
A love that crosses the centuries.
An ancient druid pendant shows archaeologist Janet visions of Roman soldier Trajan. The visions are of danger, death, and love – but are they a promise or a curse?
Her fiancé Daman hurts and abandons her before the wedding, her beloved museum is ransacked, and a robed man vanishes before her eyes.
Haunted by visions of a time she knows long gone, Janet teeters on the edge of a breakdown. In the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall and 2,000 years back in time, Janet’s past and present collide. Daman has vowed to drive the invaders from the shores of Britain, and march his barbarian hordes to Rome. Trajan swears vengeance against the man who threatens both his loves - Janet and the Empire. Time is running out - for everyone.
4 Methods for Developing Any Idea Into a Great Story - an abstract of an article by Elizabeth Sims (@ESimsAuthor) for Writer’s Digest.
The takeaway line from a recent inventor's convention the authour attended was: “ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s the development that puts you over the top. Do what you have to do to make it real and get it to market.”
I was surprised, because I’d always thought that a brilliant idea could make you a fortune. But I quickly realized my new friend was right: Idea is just the beginning.
Fiction writers have a lot in common with those inventors. It’s not hard to get inspired by a great concept, to take it to your table or toolshed or cellar and do some brainstorming, and even to start putting the story on paper—but eventually, many of us lose traction. Why? Because development doesn’t happen on its own. In fact, I’ve come to think that idea development is the number one skill an author should have.
How do great authors develop stunning narratives, break from tradition, and advance the form of their fiction? They take whatever basic ideas they’ve got, then move them away from the typical. No matter your starting point—a love story, buddy tale, mystery, quest—you can do like the great innovators do: Bend it. Amp it. Drive it. Strip it.
1. Bend it
Chuck Palahniuk is on record as saying he drew heavily from The Great Gatsby to create his novel Fight Club. I’ve read both books (multiple times) but would not have perceived that parallel. He said, “Really, what I was writing was just The Great Gatsby updated a little. It was ‘apostolic’ fiction—where a surviving apostle tells the story of his hero. There are two men and a woman. And one man, the hero, is shot to death.” Palahniuk transformed a traditional love story set in the high society of America’s Roaring Twenties into a violent and bloody tale of sexual obsession, cultism, and social disruption set in a rotten world. He bent the ideas behind Gatsby into something all his own.
The next time you get a great idea for a story, don’t stop there. Bend your initial concept, making it more unique—and more powerful—with every turn:Get our of your head and into your pelvis. Give your characters inner yearnings (sexual or otherwise) they don’t understand and can’t deal with cognitively.
Brainstorm who your characters might be by reimagining their motivations.
2. Amp it
Brief Encounter is a British film adapted from Nöel Coward’s play Still Life. It’s the story of two quiet people who meet and fall in love in spite of being married to others, but then, conscience stricken, break off the relationship before it really gets going. The small, exquisite tragedy resonated with the genteel, romantic codes of conduct valued in prewar England.
But then along comes Tennessee Williams with his play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a love story that has similar themes at its core but rips us away from any semblance of civilization. Could Williams ever amp drama! For one thing, he knew that a story about noble ideals wouldn’t cut it anymore. Setting his play in the emotionally brutal mélange of the postwar American South, he slashed into the secret marrow of his protagonists and antagonists alike, exposing the weaknesses and delusions that bind people together on the surface while tearing them apart below decks.
Take the essence of your story, and amp it: Add characters and pile on the emotion. Playwrights used to limit the number of characters in their stories, not wanting to overcrowd the stage. But when Williams crams six or eight people onto the scene at once and sets them all at one another’s throats, we get a chance to feel their emotional claustrophobia and unwanted interdependence.
3. Drive it
Many great modern stories spring from the same seeds as old folk tales. The subjugation of young women, for instance, is not only one of the oldest oppressions, it’s one of the most pernicious—hence, it still resonates with audiences of all sorts.
We first meet Cinderella in the scullery, a slave to the rough demands of her stepmother and older stepsisters. When Cinderella tries to take some initiative to improve her situation, she’s squelched and punished.
Margaret Atwood, in her landmark dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, steers the Cinderella archetype away from any home whatsoever and from any relationships, besides. She multiplies Cinderella a thousand times, and all the Cinderellas are kept alive for the sole asset they possess that can’t be synthesized (at least, not yet!): their fertile wombs. Their purpose is to procreate a society that would be better off dead. And there are no handsome princes to come along and change anything. Atwood drove Cinderella to a point almost—but not quite—beyond recognition. And that’s the power. You, too, can make gut-wrenching magic out of your fiction by driving your tale to a conclusion further than you ever thought it could go: Start at the crux of your premise and hit the gas. Agents and editors often tell new writers, “Don’t start at the beginning, start in the middle,” which usually means, “Don’t waste pages setting up the core of your story.” Wise advice. Try starting at your knottiest point, and then drive it forward using the same techniques that got your concept there.
4. Strip it
War has been the seed of innumerable creative works. In developing War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy put in everything he could think of because war is so big. To represent the French invasion of Russia and the accompanying Napoleonic era, he wrote an epic that followed dozens of characters. The sheer, pounding weight of detail in War and Peace helps us understand the impact of war on individuals and the institutions they thought to be unshakable.
But Ernest Hemingway, a young man reeling from his own experiences in World War I, stripped away everything he could think of because war is as small as one man. Confronted with the realities of war, he wrote what came to him, then stripped it and sanded it until nothing but hard, bright pieces were left. The result, In Our Time, is a collection of vignettes and short stories that evokes the immediate horror and lingering pain of that most awful of human activities.When it starts to seem as if no number of words can truly represent the reality of anything, explore what might happen if you strip down your idea to allow the miniature to suggest the infinite: Convey emotion through action, not description. Inexperienced storytellers often try—alas, unsuccessfully—to do what Tolstoy did well: to not only show what happens but to tell in deep, ruminative detail how everybody feels about it. To Siberia with that! Do like Papa Hemingway: When Joe’s dad in “My Old Man” gets crushed to death on the horse track, Hemingway simply lets Joe tell us that the cops held him back, and what his father’s dead face looked like, and that it was pretty hard to stop crying right then. You, too, can present life-and-death emotion without saying a word about it. Adopting this approach from the outset of your idea development can save you a lot of writing and rewriting later.
When you implement these techniques, don’t bear down hard on any one; take a light, relaxed approach and allow idea to build on idea. If you do that, your innate creativity will take over. It knows what it’s doing! At times when you’re really rolling, your ideas will seem to develop themselves; they’ll pop brighter and bite deeper.
And like the best inventors, who combine brilliant ideas with the guts and drive to make them reality, you won’t be stuck drumming your fingers on the drafting table. You’ll be producing well-developed stories with the optimum chance of success.
Introducing Sanna Hines
1. Who are you as a person?
Sanna Hines (More next week.)
2. How long have you been a writer?
Since I was eight. Waiting for a music lesson in the school office, I watched a woman walk in, pick up the newsletter, and read a poem I’d written. She remarked, “This is good. The girl has talent.” A few words can change a life.
3. Are you Traditionally or Indie published?
Indie. I considered the three-to-eight year wait before traditional publishing, and with a contemporary YA thriller in hand, realized the book would need rewriting after that amount of time. Traditional publishing is in such a state of flux with agents and editors changing jobs due to cutbacks and mergers. I like having control over the appearance, cover and release date of a work.
4. What writers inspired you? Favorite Authors?
Earliest influence was Edward Eager, who wrote children’s fantasy. I adored the juxtaposition of real life with magical events. I write that way and relish other writers who combine reality with fantasy.
5. What is your book/series about (elevator speech or quick tweet post)
I have three published books. Stealth Moves follows three characters involved with high-profile kidnappings. Shining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe brings Irish myth into the modern world. The newest, Elvira Wonders, explores human interactions with other species in a magical town.
6. What is the setting and genre?
Stealth Moves, set in Boston and Portsmouth, is YA thriller. Shining Ones begins in New Hampshire and then travels through Ireland and Britain. Elvira Wonders takes place in the tiny, midwestern town of Elvira.
7. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Holly, novice bodyguard, is my favorite from Stealth Moves. She’s brave, awkward, and always hopeful. Tessa, member of an ancient clan of unaging beings (Shining Ones), grows past her conditioning to think for herself. Josh, from Elvira Wonders, considers himself “just an ordinary guy”, but he’s so much more.
8. What character is most like you?
9. If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?
Shapeshifting like Tessa
10. Would you say your book has a message or underlying theme?
Stealth Moves emphasizes bravery and protecting the people you love. The characters of Shining Ones overcome prejudice and learn to trust. Elvira focuses on tolerance and cooperation. All these things—love, tolerance and cooperation—could help heal the world.
11. How are you marketing your book?
Online and through author fairs. Like every other author, I need to learn more.
12. A wonderful thing has happened! Hollywood wants to make a movie of your book! You get to pick the actors & actresses. You want________________for your lead characters.
Tough question! I’d want unknowns for the leads since they’d best convey characters who are growing.
13. What music do you hear (what songs) remind you of your story?
I listen to Loreena McKennitt while I write.
14. What Favorite foods Anything with potatoes.
If I had to live on one food, it would be potatoes.
15. What makes you laugh/cry?
Laughter….dry wit always works with me. Slapstick, not so much. I cry when animals suffer or while watching the news.
16. What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Something in Gaelic. Not sure what yet.
17. Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I make jewelry, embroider and costume. Won prizes as a Renaissance costumer.
18. What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Sci-fi, fantasy, science and history
19. If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I worked as an editor and marketing communications consultant.
20. What are you working on right now?
I have a YA sci-fi adventure ready to revise.
21. How much research do you do for your novels? Bonus –what’s the weirdest thing you have Googled?
Huge amounts. I had to learn Irish myth—not easy because the stories are so old they vary a lot—for Shining Ones. Also for that book, I had to track every foot of the characters’ travels through pictures and descriptions plus researching modern and ancient accounts of the places. All my writing about New England had to be researched since I lived in the Midwest at the time.
Weird Googles—how bodies decay, chariot burials, corsetry (My! Did I get porn ads after that!)
22. What’s the scariest thing you have ever done, and did it end up in a story?
The scariest things I’ve ever done were also the most foolish, like going to parts of a city where I did not belong. So far, those errors haven’t made it into stories, but my characters’ frequently leap before they look.
23. Name 5 fictional characters you would invite to a dinner party.Where would the party be?
In fact, I’d like to meet my characters. On a visit to Boston before I moved to Maine, I was disappointed not to find Holly in the house I chose for the story. Silly, I know, but when I left town, I felt as though I’d missed visiting a good friend. We’d gather at my home, a 1780s farmhouse, and a short commute for all except Josh.
24. What links or website do you have? List them below.
Oh my... About out of time & space here so Much more from Sanna next week and meet her favorite character, Josh. We'll meet Christina Alongi too! We'll answer your Cat's Questions, too. Much more...and I'll be telling you all about it too! Reviews and such...Catching up on my ebook reading too! See you!