Month: December 2016

A Fantasy Tip from History: Book Shrines

Nicholas C. Rossis

The Irish cumdach | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books The Stowe Missal cumdach (8th/9th century). Photo: Dublin, Royal, Irish Academy via

In a recent post, I described the many ways Medieval scribes and readers would transport their treasured books. There was one kind of book in particular that demanded its own post. Enter the Irish cumdach or ‘book shrine’.

As Erik Kwakkel of Leiden University explains, the cumdach is a kind of box designed to hold a small manuscript. The Stowe Missal for which the cumdach on the right was made measures only 150×120 mm, which is a little higher than the iPhone 6. The book is very snug inside the box, but the small size matches the object’s anticipated use in battle. You see, Irish cumdachs were not meant to be read. Instead, they were carried around the neck of a monk, who would run up and down in front of the troops right…

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A Sneak Peek at the Ki Khanga Custom Playing Card Deck! — Chronicles of Harriet

With the release of Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game in about a month, the custom cards will release shortly thereafter. Here is a sneak peek. The artwork – by James Eugene – is stunning! These custom cards are sure to enhance your Ki Khanga gaming sessions AND your Spades, Solitaire, Go Fish, […]

via A Sneak Peek at the Ki Khanga Custom Playing Card Deck! — Chronicles of Harriet

Inspirational Native Americans – Finding Your Ancestors

Uncovered Myths

No matter who your ancestors are, it can be difficult to find them.  This is doubly true if you were adopted, whether you knew it or not.  And if that is the case, you have to decide if you want to trace your adoptive family, or your biological family.  And in many cases, your biological family may not be who they think are.  Throughout history, children were adopted, names changed, and not told.  Or, if they knew at the time, after a few generations, the knowledge was lost.
As a person with Native American ancestors more than a few generations, tracking your ancestors may be nearly impossible due to the Indian Removal Act, Indian Adoption Act, and the shame of Native American ancestors.  If you do find which tribes you are descended from, you have to determine if you can reconnect with your heritage.  You may want to.  The tribe…

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Attainment Fiction

Attainment Fiction

Let’s talk about fiction that has characters that must learn and grow. I find myself reading stories that are similar. Some of my favorite books I read again and again. I’ve been trying to devise a method of categorizing these books. I want to find tags or benchmarks that can allow me to pick up a story and determine whether I am likely to enjoy it, or not.

The stories that push my buttons are ones where the characters start the story without the knowledge and/or skills needed to complete the quest, task, mission, or survival activity. Often a character gets dropped into a situation that requires growth, learning, and the willingness to explore new options. For example in Controlled Descent by K. M. Herkes, Alison and the other characters must learn and grow as they face deadly challenges in the future world they are navigating. I am nerdy, in my reading, and like new information and seeing how people learn new things.

In Tesla’s Signal by L. Woodswalker, the titular character must use the existing science of the steampunk era technology to develop new tools to confront the aliens. When characters start a story without the tools and skills they need, they are required to find or build the means they need to accomplish their goals. It helps if the characters are plucky and can rise to the occasion.

I’m interested in building a better world, so stories where the characters struggle to bring peaceful resolution to conflicts get extra marks during my reading. Sarah K.L. Wilson in The Ex-Pacifist tells of a character that has been raised to avoid all violence. Conditions change for the character, and she doesn’t remain the same, but her goals must still be attained. Stories excite me when people are forced to rise to meet staggering new challenges.

P.A.W.S. by Debbie Manber Kupfer thrusts Miri into circumstances that she can’t understand, and gives her talents she must learn to use. Stories work, for me, when new skills are thrown into the mix and new information is shared. Characters become who they must by attaining higher levels of skill, experience, and knowledge.

I am calling this category of stories Attainment Fiction. These stories usually have true information that can be used in the real world. The stories have characters who cannot fulfill their assignments with the information and skills they have at the beginning. We live on a planet filled wondrous, amazing and interesting things, everywhere around us. I want to witness some of this wonder in the fiction I indulge in. For example, my story Asante’s Gullah Journey tells about an alternate future where people must raise crops, run their society and keep the peace without the benefits of much of modern technology that we take for granted.

I am beginning a database of stories of Attainment Fiction at:

Check it out, and the stories mentioned above and see if maybe you like Attainment Fiction also.

Book Links:

K. M. Herkes: Amazon link and Goodreads author link

S. A. Gibson: Amazon link and Goodreads author link

Debbie Manber Kupfer: Amazon link and Goodreads author link

Sarah K.L. Wilson: Amazon link and Goodreads author link

L. Woodswalker: Amazon link and Goodreads author link

15 Reasons why Reading a Book is a Life-Changing Experience

Nicholas C. Rossis recently published a list of reasons why reading a book is a life-changing experience. Here are my favorite ones!

1 . Reading a novel increases brain function for days.
Research from Emory University has found that reading a book can increase connectivity in the brain which makes neurological changes that act like muscle memory. Books not only put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense, but also in a biological sense.

2 . Reading can help prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Increased brain function is also useful for other things — various studies have shown that adults who engage in hobbies that stimulate the brain, such as reading, are less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease. The brain is an organ like any other and just as exercise strengthens the heart, reading strengthens the brain.

3 . Reading reduces stress.
Do you take a walk or listen to music…

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FREE: Into the Land of Snows


This is the only time I will be doing this promotion. Get your FREE Kindle copy from Amazon (now through Dec. 10th). Snuggle up by the fire and join Blake as he treks in the Himalayas. Happy holidays to everyone! (We have a house in Brussels and we’re moving in Jan. I’ll join you from Belgium in the new year.)



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Describers vs. Prescribers: Reaching a Linguistic Common Ground

Nicholas C. Rossis

When I published The Power of Six, my first collection of short stories, a reviewer said that the book had grammatical errors, albeit small ones. This shocked me, as the book had been professionally edited and proof-read. So, I reached out and asked her for an example. “You start a sentence with a gerund,” she said. “So?” I asked. “So, that’s wrong.”

I was baffled by this. Surely, that’s a matter of style, right?

This seemingly innocent question actually led me into a minefield. As The Economist points out, for half a century, language experts have fallen into two camps. Most lexicographers and academic linguists stand on one side, and traditionalist writers and editors on the other. The question that defines the to camps is deceivingly simple: should language experts describe the state of the language accurately? (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, in 1961, shocked the world by including common…

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