World Building by Janet Lane Walters

World building is something every writer in every genre needs to pay attentio1n to. Sometimes it’s to build a town similar to the one we live in, or it could be a fantasy world where magic rules and dragons fly. Read an informative article by Jane Lane Walters of tips and traps on world building. Be sure to read all the way through. The ending is one every writer can relate to. And then go back to read parts 1 and 2. Or pick up one of Janet’s books.

~till next time, Helen

Books We Love Insider Blog: World Building For All Genres Part 3 Janet Lane Wa…: The next area of World building to consider is Characters. There are a number of areas where people help weave the world web. …


Musings on the Forest Primeval

I love to hike in woods. And I’m not the only one to whom ancient stands of trees call to a special point in their soul.

On of my favorite places to sit and write is pictured. You can sit in the shade of the trees and watch the clouds drift over the lake. Between the hands of man and nature, the trees are not old, but even in a newer growth forest there is still a sense of serenity. However, travel a short distance and the scene steps back in time. You go from woods to a true forest, Climb high enough even go above the tree line to the world of scrubs and blueberry bushes.

If forests call to you or provide an intriguing setting, romance and fantasy author Mary Gillgannon’s tale of searching for the forest primeval is worth a look, if only for the pictures. I particularly like the description of the bluebells.

Read the rest of the article at Muse…ings: The Forest Primeval. And be sure to check out her other travels and the books they’ve been featured in.

~till next time, Helen

The Home Front – A Different Kind of War

Programs by local experts are great ways to acquire information. A favorite tip of mine is to take a topic and look at it differently–to write about a dfiferent aspect. One example is the talk, “The Home Front: Matawan During World War II” being held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Traditionally, Veterans’ Day programs cover an individual soldier, a unit, or a particular battle or conflict. The focus of the presentation will be what “Total War” was like for those who were left behind in town when others went off to fight in distant parts of the world, to defend our way of life. All residents were involved in different ways.

The Home Front: Matawan During World War II

Presented by Al Savolaine
Matawan Town Historian and the
Commander of American Legion Post 176.

Sunday, November 8 at 2:00 PM.
At the Woman’s Club of Matawan
199 Jackson Street, Matawan New Jersey

Refreshments will be provided after the program
(No admission fee; donations gratefully accepted.)

And in the tradition of Armistice Day, later Veteran’s Day, at the 11th hour of the 11th month,
the American Legion Matawan Post 176 and the Matawan Historical Society will hold a memorial service to honor veterans.

Wednesday, November 11th at 11:00 A.M.
At Rose Hill Cemetery, 
Ravine Drive, Matawan NJ
All are welcome

One event feeds the mind, the other the soul. As writer’s we need both.

To all who served on the frontlines, thank you for your service.

~Till next time. Helen

Finding New Sources

One of the issues when researching setting, events, or even the attributes for a character is finding a source. Which often can mean finding someone to talk. Historical societies can be a font of information. And not just dates and events, but town personalities as well.

One of the issues when researching setting, events, or even the attributes for a character is finding a source. Which often can mean finding someone to talk. Historical societies can be a font of information. And not just dates and events, but town personalities as well.

Special events and anniversaries provide a unique view into the past of an area. And the way an event is commemorated (or not) provides insight as well. An advantage is that at anniversary events such as the one October 4th celebrating 100 years of community service  by the Woman’s Club of Matawan memories are at the forefront.

And at happy occasions, people are often more willing to talk. 

Happy researching.~Till next time. Helen

Storyline – Archaeology Gets Technical

Archaeology is not all Indiana Jones and a bullwhip. Modern technology has a place alongside maps and exploring in the jungle. Metal detectors have uncovered the secrets of battlefields yielding artifacts and insights into troop movements. Now x-rays are helping unlock the secrets of a scroll from what is called the Villa of the Papyri. The scroll is among hundreds retrieved from the remains of a lavish villa at Herculaneum, which along with Pompeii was one of several Roman towns that were destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79.

Some of the texts have been deciphered since they were discovered in the 1750s. But many more remain a mystery to science because they were so badly damaged that unrolling the papyrus they were written on would have destroyed them completely. Enter technology and phase contrast tomography. The process had previously been used to examine fossils without damaging them.

Phase contrast tomography takes advantage of subtle differences in the way radiation — such as X-rays — passes through different substances, in this case papyrus and ink. Using lab time at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, the researchers found they were able to decipher several letters, proving that the method could be used to read what’s hidden inside the scrolls.

More of the story at x-rays-unlock-secrets-ancient-scrolls-buried-volcano-160136061.html.

Just because the present works with the future, doesn’t mean we have to eliminate the past or the human. For myself, I’ll take technology and Indiana Jones.

Till next time.  ~Helen

The War to End All Wars – 100 years later

 It was called the “War to End All Wars” and ended in 1918 at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of World War I with a walk through history with a talk and exhibition led by historian Al Savolaine.

 Saturday, November 8th, 2014
7:30 PM to 9:30 PM
at the Matawan Community Center.

 The program will dispel some of the many myths about World War I. Although it only lasted four years, WWI has been called the first real “war of terror” of the modern age. Its use of modern technology including submarines, bombers, tanks, poison gas and flame throwers changed the world forever.

Hosted by the American Legion Matawan Post 176 and the Matawan Historical Society. Free admission, but donations gratefully accepted.  Refreshments will be provided by the Women’s Club of Matawan.

The Matawan Community Center is located at 201 Broad Street, Matawan NJ.

NOTE: As part of the 100th anniversary events, a special memorial service to honor all veterans will be held on November 11th at 11 AM at Rose Hill Cemetery, Ravine Drive Matawan.

Historical Tidbit – Loyalty in Fur and Feather

DoughboyDepending on your age and experience, age and experience, the doughboy of World War I or the jungle fatigues of Vietnam have been replaced by the desert camouflage of the Middle East. In this post for Armed Forced Week, although it is still in keeping with the military values of honor, duty and loyalty, and has a historical perspective, the focus is not on two-legged soldiers but ones with fur or feathers.

Perhaps the most well-known dog from the era is RIN TIN TIN® (September 1918 – August 10, 1932), a male German Shepherd Dog rescued from a World War I battlefield by an American soldier, Lee Duncan. Duncan trained Rin Tin Tin and obtained silent film work for the dog. Rin Tin Tin went on to appear in 26 films. It is interesting to note that in 1929, Rin Tin Tim received the most votes for the first Academy Award for Best Actor, but the Academy determined that a human should win. He does have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The legacy of Rin Tin Tin might have begun in WWI, but continues today as the television program, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, has once again returned to the airways.

While Rin Tin Tin may have been born behind enemy lines during World War I, Stubby, the stump-tailed terrier, worked behind enemy lines, and gained military honors along the way. Private Robert Conroy casually adopted the orphan pup while attending basic training on the campus of Yale University in 1917. When Conroy’s unit shipped out for France, he smuggled his new friend aboard. According to Ann Bausum in Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog, by the time Stubby encountered Conroy’s commanding officer, the dog had perfected his right-paw salute.

The tradition of military dogs did not end with WWI. War Dogs: A History of Loyalty and Heroism by Michael G. Lemish looks at unsung canine heroes from World War I to the present. Terriers, shepherds, beagles, collies, huskies, and Dobermans are only a few of the breeds that have pulled sleds, searched caves and bunkers, and even parachuted into combat. Lemish has collected true stories and rare photographs that reflect the strong bonds that have formed between war dogs and their masters as they worked together in dangerous situations.

While dogs may be the most well-known military animal, they are not the only animals who have worked with or accompanied soldiers into battle. In Soldiers in Fur and Feathers The Animals that Served in World War I – Allied Forces, Susan Bulanda, reveals fascinating true stories of the heroic animals that assisted the Allied Forces during World War I-stories that have, for the most part, been forgotten. As we approach the 100th anniversary of WWI, this book will help preserve the role of the animals that served. Who were they, why were they used, how were they selected, how did they serve, and what became of them? Soldiers in Fur and Feathers answers those questions.

From the last mounted cavalry charge of the U.S. Army to the 36,000 homing pigeons deployed overseas, service animals made a significant impact on military operations during World War II. Through 157 photographs from the National World War II Museum collection, Loyal Forces: The American Animals of World War II by Toni M. Kiser and Lindsey F. Barnes, captures the heroism, hard work, and innate skills of innumerable animals that aided the troops as they fought to protect, transport, communicate, and sustain morale.
During this period of time to honor those in military service, remember “Freedom isn’t Free.” Thank a veteran or a man or woman in active service. There are many ways to do so and organizations worthy of support. However, even a simple nod and smile to someone wearing a cap signifying service can communicate your appreciation.

Working military dogs can also be supported. One way is through the K9 Sgt. Denny Project. Their efforts have expanded from sending material to deployed working dogs and their handlers, to supporting injured warriors suffering from PTS and TBI injuries by pairing the warriors up with a service dog that enables the soldier to return to society and become productive and most of all to move their lives forward.  Information on how to contribute to can be found at
Whether you write historical fiction or contemporary, don’t forget the four-footed or feathered companions. And service animals are not restricted to those on land or even the Earth as evidenced by the dolphins that inhabited the world of Pern created by Anne Mccaffrey. In my own fantasy novels, battle-trained stallions take to the field with their chosen riders.

To all who have served or are serving, thank you for your service.

Till Next Time ~Helen

RIN TIN TIN® is a registered trademark of Belleair Trading International LLC