How To Triple Your Vocab In A Year!

I could just say ‘keep a dictionary by the toilet’ and end this article there but I actually found a very efficient way for everyone to grow their vocabularies at alarming rates. Get ready to impress your friends!

Most people unintentionally grow their vocabulary over many years, kind of like how laborers and lumberjacks unintentionally grow muscle mass. So to intentionally grow your vocabulary is very similar to purposely growing a six pack or losing 300 pounds; it takes hard work and dedication. But with the tips and advice you’ll find below, the journey to tripling or doubling your vocabulary in the next year will not only be easier but more fun as well.

Before I spiel my secret, however, I want to share some additional knowledge that may save you gobs of time and hardship. If you wish to skip this additional knowledge, just scroll down to the picture of me holding an old leather booklet and read on from there.

building your vocabulary has never been so easy

I was going to write this article months ago, but I’m glad I decided to wait because, at the same time as learning so many new words with my special technique, I’ve also learned that it’s very important to know when to use the words you’ve learned. Growing a vocabulary is necessary for every writer or speaker but learning discipline is key. What do I mean by ‘discipline’ in this context? I mean don’t purposely structure or restructure your sentences JUST so that you can implement an exciting new word. To create a smooth read you must force yourself to only use the words that come naturally to you during the writing process. Let me explain this a bit more before we get to the good stuff.

When I first started intentionally building my vocabulary, my writing suddenly became unnatural and overly complicated because, rather than getting in the zone and letting my subconscious mind select the right words, I was strenuously trying to use as many big and new words as I possibly could. Even though this created some interesting and artistic paragraphs, I nevertheless created many headaches for my readers.

Reading, for many people, is a relaxing hobby–something they can do to enjoy their time. Therefore you take much of the fun away when you have them scrounging in a dictionary every three sentences. For my writing this problem of using too many new words was tenfold because I specialize in medieval fantasy and love archaic/medieval words. I flooded my writing with countless terms that most people will never hear or read in their lives. As much as I want to use a sexy medieval word sometimes, I know the better decision is to use the first word that comes to mind during the writing process (unless, of course, you have the habit of using a particular word too much).

author explains

So what’s the point of learning new words if you shouldn’t use them when you want? After you truly learn a word, have used it at least three times with a bit of strained effort, it will naturally start to find itself in your writing and speaking. About 80% of the words I’ve learned over the past year haven’t been shown in my writing yet, and now, unlike before, I know that’s a very good thing. In the future, after years of writing and honing my craft, those exciting words which I haven’t used yet, so long as I keep them in my vocabulary/memory, will one day find a natural place in my writing.

Now I’m about to contradict myself because there will be instances when a word you’ve recently learned should replace an old word in your completed writing. A perfect example of this is when I learned the word ‘linstock’. A linstock is a tool used to fire a cannon. Before I knew this, the characters in my writing were using torches to fire their cannons and so of course I had to go back and replace all those torches with linstocks. Situations like this are the rare exceptions.

On the other hand, reading for many others is an opportunity to learn; they love having to lookup a word in the dictionary. Like me when I read historical fiction from the early 20th century, I spend nearly just as much time in the dictionary as I do reading because I never let a word I don’t know slip by. But even readers like me, the ones who treat dictionaries like bibles, will admit that, when they’re reading a particularly suspenseful scene, it’s much better to have a smooth read so that the story flows unhindered. In some very rare cases I’ll let a word I don’t know slip by ONLY because I’m too eager to know what will happen next in the story.

With all that said, it’s finally time for you to learn my secret. How did I triple my vocabulary in a year? It’s quite simple.

Book of Words

Allow me to introduce you to my Book of Words, my very own handwritten dictionary/notepad/journal that I bring with me wherever I go.

Remember when I said ‘keep a dictionary by the toilet’? Well, my secret is somewhat similar except instead of a dictionary you’ll need a blank booklet and instead of a toilet you’ll need, literally, EVERYWHERE YOU GO!

After following the tips listed below, the blank pages of your newly acquired booklet will start to look like this:

details matter

Like a daily diary, you’ll start off by writing the date. Underneath the date you’ll scrawl down every unfamiliar word you come across throughout the day. I write down the words in capital letters just to make the page seem less jumbled. Beside the listed words, like I’ve done above, you should have space to write down the words’ definitions. It’s also useful to use symbols to identify if the word is a noun, verb, etc. On average I learn about 5 new words per day. Some days it’s only 1 or 2, and on others it’s 10 or 20!

So how do I come across these new words? By listening and reading! When I watch a Ted Talk there’s a good chance the speaker will use a word I don’t know and, knowing me, I’ll have to Google it. I never let a word I don’t know slip by. I do the same thing when I’m reading. And by reading everyday, you’ll watch your Book of Words grow and grow and grow. By writing your new words down, you’ll not only remember them more easily but you’ll also be able to go back and find them when you’re struggling to remember them.

Sometimes when I’m writing I’ll remember there’s a word for some certain thing I’m trying to describe but I won’t be able to recall it right off the bat. No worries! All I have to do, because I’ve dated my words, is remember roughly when I learned the word and then leaf through my Book until I find it again. Then–bam!–the word slides right into its slot. You’ll never forget a word again so long as you bring your Book of Words with you wherever you go.

never stop learning

But what if you’re one of those readers who hates stopping to look in a dictionary? Simple! If you’re willing to, you can scrawl down the word as fast as you can, highlight it, do whatever you have to do to remember it, and then once your reading session is over you can go back and Google the words you’ve listed to find their definitions. That, in fact, is exactly what I did during my reading session yesterday. I chose to do an hour of reading in the park and, since I didn’t have internet or a dictionary at the bench with me to define the unfamiliar words I found, I just wrote them down and later when I got home I sat at my desk and did some quick and easy Google searches. Here is a picture to show what that looks like:

collecting words on the go

For Tuesday, June 6th, as you can see, I discovered 7 words that I otherwise may’ve overlooked if I wasn’t intentionally trying to build my vocabulary. And by discovering words in a natural setting, as opposed to just poring idly through a dictionary, I typically remember when and where I learned these words and so they have a lot more meaning to me. For example, I’ll never forget the time I learned the word ‘machicolation’ because, rather than just finding it by skimming through the dictionary, I came across it via a speaker in a YouTube video and so whenever I hear or use the word ‘machicolation’, a string of memory comes attached to it.

Sometimes when I’m walking down the road or riding on the bus I’ll flip to a random page in my Book of Words and point at a word I haven’t used yet. I’ll turn the word around in my head, look at it from different angles, place it in different settings, all the while having the sole intention of using it in a natural setting one day.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps!

P.S. Join my mailing list by clicking HERE and get the short story “A Quarrel for a Quarrel” in PDF format for free!

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The Three Rules of LitHEMA (Literature about Historical European Martial Arts)

Rule 1. SHOW HEMA IN ACTION: Grappling! Rondel daggers! Poleaxes! Niches in armor! LitHEMA, although some authors may or may not choose to use Old German or Old English, takes pride in showing historical action for what it is! As all of you will one day come to agree, many fantasy stories, whether they be movies, games or books, repetitively fall for the same myths and misconceptions. Type “drawing swords from the back” into YouTube and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Don’t forget to subscribe!

LitHEMA separates itself from most fantasy by dutifully straying from misconceptions. A lot of the history we know as true is, of course, speculation made by experts and archaeologists and likewise LitHEMA writers must rely on creativity to fill certain gaps, allowing us to create the most awesome and realistic sword fights ever! It’s reenactment for the mind, baby! Yeah!

Imagine a lord in his prime, a master with a sword in the Late Middle Ages. He’s been using the same lifesaving techniques with his one-handed sword for many years and must suddenly duel an angry levy who’d picked up a deadman’s zweihander! The sparks! The grunts! The parries! It’s experience and swiftness versus revenge and strength. And you can’t deny it’s beautiful because, as Shad from Shadiversity says, swords are awesome!

historical fiction with historical European martial arts

1150-1200, Austria 

Rule 2. PRESENT TRUTH, SAVE THE ODD EXAGGERATION: Gobs of HEMA practitioners admit that fantasy is what got them interested in swords in the first place. And so in that sense LitHEMA respects its roots in more ways than one. LitHEMA respects fantasy as much as it respects historical combat treatises because we all must rely on creativity and fascination to assume certain things about history. Indeed, all we can do about certain things is make assumptions, about certain unprovable things which almost always rely on context like ‘why did falchions become popular?’ or ‘how easy is it to shoot a moving target with a crossbow from a tower?’.

It is impossible to be perfectly accurate, but that wouldn’t stop a LitHEMA writer from replying ‘well, what period are we talking about? What type of crossbow is it?’ LitHEMA distinguishes itself from most fantasy subgenres by being as realistic as possible and the writer must present, after much studying and research, what she thinks is realistic. She decides, “The moving target below the tower is wearing a gambeson and the crossbowman’s quarrel glances off the sturdy textile because it was a low-poundage crossbow and the quarrel didn’t hit plumb.”

Some historians may say that scene should have happened a different way, but our author dug down into her heart, did her research and presented what she thought would really happen in her fictional universe. Even if she has magic and elves and dragons in her universe, which is more than possible in LitHEMA, she has to ask herself ‘would the dragon’s flame really burn down a castle made of stone? And would elves really use war bows if they had flimsy little arms?’

Thanks to the internet and many hard working enthusiasts around the world, authentic historical artwork is slowly and steadily putting a burdensome responsibility on the shoulders of writers! We feel guilt when we realize our heroes were wearing unriveted mail when they should have been wearing riveted mail. Trust me, as a passionate LitHEMA writer I know that guilt all too well. My stories have many things that are unrealistic, like a disposable diamond-tipped throwing knife. At least I state the blade had to go through mail and gambeson.

LitHEMA, if it is solely written as a subgenre of fantasy, can combine creativity with truth to show an exaggerated version of reality. On the other hand, if LitHEMA is solely written as a subgenre of historical fiction, it should focus more on action and stress the techniques used in historical combat treatises.

LitHEMA

1255-1260, England

Rule 3. SUGGEST CONTEXT: Medieval combat treatises teach us many tricks and techniques, guards and attacks, but they tell us very little about the context in which these tricks and techniques could have been used throughout history. To understand context we must coalesce our HEMA knowledge with other sources like written accounts and paintings. LitHEMA is just one medium that enables us to use our historical research and creativity to suggest certain scenarios.

Now imagine a small peasant revolt, an entire village raging against sixteen knights trained in the combat techniques of a master. Written with HEMA in mind, this imaginary scene could allow us a special viewpoint, a viewpoint very unlike a battle in a 1970s fantasy book. Of course, it is inevitable that creativity will fill many gaps, but after studying the artwork left by ancient, medieval and pre-modern cultures around the world we can create a reenactment-like image in the reader’s mind. While suggesting a context, LitHEMA can indeed show the world what mortal combat may have looked like in the past. Frankly, a movie based on a such a novel is exactly what Hollywood needs.

Images from http://manuscriptminiatures.com, a fabulous website!

Shot out to http://wiktenauer.com and all you HEMA enthusiasts out there!

Springalds versus Ballistae – What is the Mechanical Difference?

This is not a historical lesson with dates and events, but a mechanical lesson to explain the physical differences between these two magnificent ancient artillery weapons.

Springalds and ballistae are both “catapults” that loose either spear-like bolts, Greek fire or round stones. The major difference between them is in how they hold the power necessary to launch these projectiles. I would like to start by clarifying the definition of the word “catapult” because many people confound that word with “mangonel.” A catapult is any stationary device that uses built-up tension to fire or, in more accurate terms, loose or shoot a projectile. Like ballistae and springalds, a mangonel is a certain kind of catapult. So do not picture a mangonel every time you hear the word catapult like I did for many years 🙂

Springalds (also known as espringals)

ballista compared with espringal

how do springalds operate

Like many arbalests or heavy crossbows, springalds use devices known windlasses to build-up tension in skeins, bow arms and draw cords. However, springalds have inward-facing bow arms and ballistae have outward-facing bow arms. A springald, at first glance, may look odd because they are not as common in movies and video games as ballistae are. Some springalds look very similar to ballistae (their only difference being in which direction the bow arms face) but other springalds, like the example below, look like bizarre wooden cages.

the difference between a ballista and a springald or espringal

Whatever the design, a springald can always be differentiated from a ballista by gandering at the bow arms. Ballistae have outward-facing bow arms that are always facing outwards even when they are not bearing tension; they simply look like over-sized crossbows on mounts. Springalds, on the other hand, when they are not bearing tension, have smaller arms that face forwards and they do not face inwards until accumulated tension bends them towards the operator using the cranequin. It is easy to see how these rectangular springalds on wheels would be better for besieging whereas the mounted ones that look like ballistae would be better for defending because they could be permanently installed atop turrets and bastions.

Ballistae

ballista vs springald

We’ve already done a sufficient comparison for there is not much difference between these two famed weapons of ancient war, but it may be good to cap off what we’ve learned by briefly comparing a ballista to an arbalest. An arbalest is either a cranequin crossbow or a windlass crossbow. Below I will show a picture of a cranequin crossbow so you can see just how similar it is to a ballista and also how different it is from a springald.

similarities between crossbows and ballistae and springalds

See how the bow arms of the crossbow and ballista face outwards while the springald has bow arms that face forwards until tension brings them inwards? If you see the difference, you now know what separates a springald from a ballista! Yay! Now let’s do a little test: what type of catapult is the bolt thrower in the scene of the Greek siege at the top of this article? Is it a springald or a ballista?

How to Load and Fire a Musket or Flintlock Pistol (explained briefly with appropriate jargon)

Part of the research I have to do for Knights without Honor, the upcoming sequel to Knights of the Dawn, includes learning how ‘muzzleloaders’ operate. So now I’ll briefly share what I’ve learned.

Muskets or any flintlock firearms are generally always reloaded via the muzzle like a cannon. First, a ‘powder horn’ or ‘powder flask’ is used to pour ‘grains of shot’ aka gunpowder down the muzzle. Experts may be able to eyeball how much powder’s needed for a successful ‘fire’, but most people use a ‘measuring flask’ in order to make sure the correct amount’s inserted. For muskets, 100 grains of shot is usually recommended.

After the gunpowder’s inserted, a cloth wad is placed on the muzzle and then the lead ball aka bullet is placed on top of the wad. The wad isn’t always needed, but it helps to make sure the ball’s airtight within the barrel so that it won’t come rolling back out. The detachable ‘ramrod’, which is usually always conveniently ready to withdraw from a tube underneath the barrel, is used to tamp the lead ball down the barrel until it’s snug at the bottom near the trigger.

Once the ball’s nice and snug, the ramrod is reinserted into its holder. The reloader then needs to ‘prime’ the gun before he or she can fire it. This is done by lifting up the mechanism known as a ‘frizzen’ where a dish-like space known as a ‘pan’ sits underneath. A secondary smaller powder horn known as a ‘priming horn’ is used to fill the pan with a finer version of gunpowder known as ‘primer’ or ‘priming powder.’ It’s important that primer is put into the pan because primer contains less saltpeter aka potassium nitrate than normal gunpowder. Unlike your typical, coarse gunpowder, primer is smokeless when it ignites, and since the pan sits close to the operator’s eye when he or she is aiming, you can imagine why it’s a good idea to have a smokeless ignition. But of course in times of war, getting a shot off no matter what is far more important than avoiding smoke in your eye.

Once the pan is primed, the frizzen is locked down to cover it, protecting the primer from the elements. The next step is to pull back the ‘cock.’ The cock is the hammer-like mechanism attached to the trigger that holds the flint. Once the gun is fully cocked, all the operator needs to do is aim and pull the trigger. When the trigger’s pulled, the cock snaps forward, smacking the flint against the frizzen. The frizzen unlocks and opens up from the force, revealing the pan. This allows sparks from the flint to simultaneously fall into the pan and ignite the primer. A hole in the bottom of the pan allows the gunpowder behind the lead ball to also ignite forthwith. And presto! If everything is dry and loaded correctly, the bullet should zoom out posthaste. But aiming is a different story.

Historically, musketeers could reload a muzzleloader four times per minute on horseback.

The Perfect Blend of Fantasy and Realism – through a new author’s eyes

In my niche, a popular argument is circulating. Should fantasy be more realistic? One side believes fantasy should take pride in being unrealistic because, after all, it’s fantasy.

The other side thinks fantasy is awesome, but the unrealistic armour, fighting styles and architecture makes it not as good as it could be. They believe more realism can make fantasy more believable, and therefore more entertaining. I’m a gamer as well as a medievalist, so in a way I support both sides of this argument, though anyone who’s read The Siege of Wellimgale could tell you I support one side more. For the bulk of this spiel, however, I’ll forget my opinion to explain this popular argument more thoroughly, or at least I’ll try to.

If this argument is new to you, I suggest watching these informative Youtube videos that I’ve linked below. Both of these speakers make a grandiloquent argument for their sides.

An example of wanting more realism in fantasy by Knyght Errant:https://youtu.be/q8DaGHL8WzM

An example of wanting less realism in fantasy by Ansgar Odinson: https://youtu.be/LR4NRngKdlk

The Debate, shared through my eyes

One of the most popular sub-arguments in this grand debate is the squabble over how unrealistic hero-armour is. Often the armour you see in films is too revealing, showing bare skin, when in real life the hero would most likely try to cover as much of their body as possible. Women warriors wore just as much armour as men in real life, so you can see why historians would get upset to see Xena showing her cleavage in open battle.

Still, no matter how unrealistic Xena is, historians can’t deny that she’s awesome; that’s the whole point of fantasy for some. Fantasy is a way to forget function and praise form. But for someone who knows HEMA and history, it’s pretty hard to be entertained by fantasy if it’s so unbelievable that every sword fight, every super-sized pauldron, causes an eye roll.

Another example of popular unrealistic behavior in fantasy is having spikes on armour. In real life, you want your armour to be round so that strikes glance off it. Having loads of spikes on armour will make weapons hit you with more force. Rather than a sword snagging the horn on your helm and driving force into your neck, it could simply glance off a rounded top.

In fantasy, especially in video games, swords go straight through hardened steel armour, when in real life, they barely make a scratch. If you don’t believe me, watch this: Skallagrim’s Bascinet Test

One thing that always makes me laugh is when the male hero wears nothing but a leather breechclout as he strides into battle with his shield behind his back. Take Conan as the perfect example. It’s acceptable because women want to see those big sexy pecks and those well-defined abs, mmmmm, but you’ll rarely catch a historian giving it a thumbs up.

I believe as knowledge becomes more freely available, youth who love fantasy are going to learn more and more about the real Middle Ages, and therefore ridiculous medieval fantasy armour will becomes less popular over time. Instead, educated viewers will want to see research and respect put into their entertainment. But I could easily be wrong.

So with all that said, what do you think? Should fantasy be more realistic?

For the sake of concluding, I will state what I think. I think there should be another word to describe a more realistic fantasy genre. When my novel Knights of the Dawn comes out really soon, you’ll be able to see what I mean about a perfect blend of fantasy and realism. I don’t want to state settled numbers for the rest of my writing career, but I aim for 80% realism, 20% fantasy.

Perhaps this is the opposite of a perfect balance for you. Some days, it’s the opposite for me, too. But most of the time, it’s realism that grabs me. Books like The Hobbit, I’d say, are 70% fantasy, 30% realism. Books like A Game of Thrones are 70% realism, 30% fantasy. So perhaps my style of fantasy will be much different than what the wider fantasy audience is used to. As I get older and put more research under my belt, I could be going for a 90% realism type of fantasy. Then again, my upcoming Gods of the Grotto series is something like a 50%, 50%, so nothing is certain. Maybe I’ll write romance (never, I was joking!).

With Knights of the Dawn, you could swear you’re reading historical fiction until suddenly the magic is there, in your face, scrambling what you thought was real. That’s what I believe magic should do. Mysterious, used in the shadows and hidden from the reader’s eyes, lies magic, so that when it’s there, full in your face for the very first time, it’s much, much more exhilarating.

Those are my thoughts, anyway. I guess I lied about keeping the bulk of this in the gray, but oh well. Now you know my perfect balance.

It’s amazing to see how the internet is changing expectations when it comes to what fantasy should be. Will warriors like Xena be acceptable on mainstream media in twenty years? Let’s wait and see.

Personally, I hope to see movies that take realism very seriously. I want to see masterpiece productions of medieval siege-craft displayed in great detail like never before. This one almost did it for me. But every once in a while, a totally out-of-this-world fantasy is exactly what hits the spot.

Thoughts?

Happy daydreaming.

Why I think reading is better than watching movies or playing video games. How I plan to help others think the same.

I am a convert…. Well, sometimes I slip … but I’m still proud to be a convert. Here is my attempt to convert you. If you are already a convert or never had to be converted, then this is my request for you to convert others as well. Now what the bleep is a convert? Allow me to answer that ambiguously.

book-facts

One of the greater goals I have set for my writing career is to create content so interesting that it will force non-readers to become readers. I remember the day I became a reader. Now forgive me because I’ll warn you this blog post is chaotic 😉

So many younglings are fascinated by swords and magic and battles, which is why they buy video games and wait in long lines to watch movies (as a student of sociology, I understand this is because of influence. It’s the same reason why little girls like pink). They read comic books and play with toy guns and use action figures to conduct little battles of their own. When these younglings discover why reading is so great, they’ll never stop reading. They’ll discover that a book can take them further into a different world than any video game or movie or comic can.

Before I answer the question “why are books so great?” watch ET, my favourite motivator, describe why reading is so important for success in life:

Why are books so great?

When I first discovered how great books were, I had to build a bookshelf out of bricks and scrap wood just to hold them all. I often compared movies to books while talking with my friends. I always said that books were better because I could actually remember what  happened after. When I watch a movie, I usually forget everything that happened a few years later. But that’s not the case for books. To this day I remember all the images I envisaged when I read my very first chapter book in elementary school. It was The Phantom of the Opera. Since then I’ve watched and forgotten hundreds of movies, but how could I ever forget The Phantom of the Opera?

group-projects-2

To this meme I say “No kids! Keep reading and let me get to the point! I have something important to say! You can go back to your video games after, if you still want to. And learn how to spell!”

Four years ago, when I first decided to take my writing seriously, I bought a typewriter and wrote my first book in six months (Zombie and Awake). It still hasn’t been digitized. It’s just a huge stack of paper waiting to be edited. I have several of those, actually. Maybe I’ll rewrite them one day if I feel like it. I just wrote them because it was fun. I felt like a god creating worlds that only I could see. My characters felt realer than my roommates. I was proud of myself for not going to nightclubs to waste time and money. I was proud of using my time wisely to learn and expand my brain’s potential.

Writing is even more fun than reading, if you ask me, albeit there isn’t as much potential to learn things. Reading has the potential to turn an idiot into a genius. Reading can turn a sot into a priest, a beggar into a millionaire, or a kid into a king! How many self-help books recommend playing video games? Maybe games are a good way to stay out of trouble or quit drugs (that’s what I used them for), but they won’t get you any further in life, unless you’re a youtuber or a tourney champion, of course. So now let me get to the point.

good-future

To those who say reading can brainwash you, I say it takes knowledge to notice when people are misleading you. And knowledge comes from reading!

If you’re passionate about reading and writing, then please help the future of our species by telling all of your non-reader friends why you love reading so much. It worries me sometimes to see children blindly following the trends of popular media. They think it’s cool to be a pimp. They think it’s normal to kill. Readers who know pimps are scummy and killers are messed in the head seem to be outcasts in a world of brainwashed zombies. The cool kids with their tattoos and bizarre clothing look at us like we’re freaks. Meanwhile, with our sexy educated minds we see that, in fact, they are the ones who are being blindly led towards stupidity and freakdom. They are the victims of the media. We need to help them discover that reading is great, not only for the sake of better entertainment, but for the sake of the future! Stop giving your kids video games! Please. Let’s start praising books and show the world how awesome they can be. Let’s make reading cool again. Soon people will see that being stupid and ignorant is no longer fashionable. They’ll want to be lettered and wise like us. They’ll look at new words they’ve never seen and say “Oh damn, that’s a sexy word. I better look it up” instead of saying “Stop using so many big words, you idiot.”

bgtiyx4ieaaaiib

Imagine how many words will be forgotten if we continue to ignore the trends of these zombies that surround us. A kid can either suddenly realize they’re getting old after playing video games all their life, or they can plan ahead and get to where they want to be by the time they’re old. READ! READ! READ! For the sake of mankind, show your kid a book and help make the world a better place.

People oft say that agriculture is what led us to create these amazing societies we live in, but agriculture will always be second to language. Without language, we’re all doomed anyways. So please, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our allied countries’ welfare, let’s make reading cool again. Let’s no longer turn the cheek while the children of today are taken away blindly by corporations to be brainwashed alone in dark rooms. Let’s show them the light. Let’s illuminate their minds with the power of language!

Non-readers may look at the page of a book and see boring black and white, but once they realize how many colours and images are actually jammed in those words, they’ll thank us and educate themselves because it’s fun. All we need to do is help them. These ridiculous fads of stupidity led by our media won’t squander the potential for a great future for our planet, not as long as I live! Teenagers will be teenagers. Sometimes talking sense into them is hard. But we can’t give up. We can’t continue to watch people around us get sucked away by the media. We need to fight the beast and make reading cool again. We can do it, one convert at a time! We can do it!

Happy daydreaming.

What do I accomplish by writing books?

A friend of mine is often volunteering their time in social programs that aid the poor, so it was daunting when they asked what do I accomplish by writing books. This friend has already made the world a much better place. For example, they’ve built homes in third world countries, donated tons of money to the homeless, helped numerous fundraisers do the same, etc. I may have made that list small but that’s all stuff I’ve never done before. I believe it’s important to leave the world better than how you found it, but this question struck me hard at first because I wondered, “Am I just writing books for myself, or am I making the world a better place, too?”

After much thought, I finally answered the question: What do I accomplish by writing books? Writing a book in itself is an accomplishment, but it’s a selfish one if just left at that. My purpose for writing has always been because I enjoy it. But now that I’ve mused a bit, I believe I’m accomplishing quite a lot by doing what I love. Already I have inspired many non-readers (friends) to read. I entertain people, help kill time that would’ve otherwise been spent staring at walls. I help to strengthen the economy of several countries by selling books. I create amazing stories that can make people cry and laugh and sing. These are decent things to be proud of, but I believe the most significant thing I am accomplishing is helping to preserve language and culture.

The medieval times fascinate the crap out of me. When I write, I go HARD on the old  fashioned vocab! I use medieval words the average reader has never heard before, like arbalest, mangonel and mantelet. I describe my sword fights accurately (using ripostes, parries and remises) and teach my readers things they would otherwise only learn in history text books. When I describe a man going into a castle, I don’t just say “He walked into the castle.” I say “He hailed the guard, waited for the drawbridge and portcullis to free, then entered the bailey and lastly the keep.”

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Lately I’ve been adding less magic and more realism to my fantasy with the intention of educating readers and entertaining medievalists. My writing isn’t exactly historical fiction, but I still focus on historical accuracy when I’m describing things. So what am I accomplishing here? Well, imagine a kid who wants to read a good fantasy book. If he picks up one of mine, he’ll be forced to use a dictionary and learn a crap-ton about the Middle Ages. For example, he’ll learn you can’t draw a sword from the back, cuts don’t go through armour, arrows don’t make you fly backward, bows don’t creak, women wore the same armour as men, etc, etc, etc! These are all things movies and video games continue to get wrong.

So my job is not only to entertain and sell books, but it’s to educate and preserve knowledge as well. I haven’t released most of the stuff I’ve written yet, so if you’re reading this now you may ask “Where are these educational books he’s talking about?” But if you subscribe to this blog, you’ll see ’em soon enough. Trust me 🙂 I’ve got many treats comin’ your way! Long live history! Blessed be thy reader! Huzzah!

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