If you’re shopping in Tulsa, check out Decopolis in downtown. They have writer themed candles; little plush dolls of Poe, Shakespeare, and more; journals; feather quill sets…. you can make all your writer friends happy by stopping by there!
(NOT A COMPENSATED COMMENT – I JUST LOVE THEM THAT MUCH)
One of the keys to writing a story that draws in readers is building a world that is believable, intriguing, compelling…a world that drives plot forward when the character finds herself in opposition to the way things normally go. And a pal of the Purple Inkers, Rebekah Loper, is pretty much an expert in world-building. We talked to her about why she loves inventing worlds in her head and then putting them down on paper for readers, her background in fantasy and sci-fi, and her new book, The A-Zs of Worldbuilding.
1. Tell us a little about your background. How did you become interested in fantasy stories? What books and movies have influenced your storytelling?
The next set of stories that I remember impacting my sense of storytelling is a little-known series called The Bracken Trilogy by Jeri Massi. In many ways, it dealt with more mature themes than Narnia did. I remember reaching the end of the trilogy, and something about how one of the main characters simply died of old age really resonated with me. Seeing that heroic characters don’t always have what we perceive to be heroic endings made fantasy very attainable to me. It made heroes suddenly human. The protagonists were all mostly female — young girls, teenage girls, and mothers, and mature women. This series may have also sparked my interest in herbalism.
2. What are a few of your favorite fantasy stories?
3. When you think of a story that has fantastic world building elements, which story do you think of, and why?
4. What is it about world building that you love the most?
5. What made you decide to write a book about the process of world-building?
6. How did you come up with the exercises in your book?
7. How does working on world building add to a novel’s effectiveness? How does it help a writer to make their work better?
8. Is there anything in your book that writers won’t find elsewhere?
9. How can writers get a copy of your book?
About the Book:
Worldbuilding is the ultimate act of creation for speculative fiction writers, but how exactly do you worldbuild? You ask ‘what if’ and use each answer as a springboard to more questions and answers about your fictional world.
In The A-Zs of Worldbuilding, that ‘what if’ process is broken down into 26 themed chapters, covering topics ranging from architecture to zoology. Each chapter includes a corresponding set of guided exercises to help you find the ‘what if’ questions relevant to your story’s world.
Fair warning, though: worldbuilding is addictive. Once you get started, you might never put your pen down again.
About the Author:
Rebekah Loper loves to create worlds — whether they are magical and fictional, or a productive farm in her suburban backyard where she makes futile attempts to curse Bermuda grass from all existence.
Rebekah lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, dog, formerly feral cat, a flock of chickens, and an extensive tea collection. She blogs at rebekahloper.com, and is also a contributing blogger at Fantasy-Faction.com and The Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society (fictionalferrets.wordpress.com).
Have you ever made a man angry by accepting a compliment with confidence instead of demure, shy embarrassment or shock?
Yeah, this really is a thing. You can read about it in this fascinating BuzzFeed article, which goes into plenty of examples of various men getting pissed off when a woman says “thanks” or “I agree” instead of “oh my god, you’ve changed my life” after a simple compliment. You can probably come up with examples of your own.
For me personally, when people say I’m really smart, I say, “Yes I am,” because I’ve known that since I was 5. It’s not the most interesting thing about me, and it’s certainly not the number one thing I care about. People’s reactions when I say “Yes I am” tend to fall in one of two camps:
(1) They’re cool with it because they don’t take it personally that I’m smart, perhaps smarter than them. They see the real me and like me.
(2) They get hostile or have a need to prove their own intelligence, which means they both resent my intelligence and don’t actually know me, because I’m not a person who holds my IQ over anyone’s head. No one has to prove they can match wits with me. I wouldn’t even mention intelligence except that it fits this blog post.
But the real point is… you can learn a whole lot about how other people see themselves and the world by how they react when you respond to something they say.
It’s All About Power
We live in a culture where so much is about power, in so many ways. It’s an insidious problem not just because it’s so entrenched in everything we do, but because it can’t be eradicated until we learn to see power differently than the entrenched cultural norms teach us to do.
You see, there are essentially two ways to seek out power for yourself:
- You can seek it outside of yourself.
- You can find it within yourself.
Let me tell you from experience as a person who used to care a lot about what other people thought about me, and had to learn to let go of defining my self-worth in terms of what others think: It is an exhausting and futile way to be in this world if all you do is let other people determine how much agency and self-respect you have.
Your sense of being grounded and unmovable by the fickleness of day-to-day living has to come from a sense of having your own roots growing into the ground. Just like a tree, seriously. The tree’s roots come from itself so it can ground itself and create stability for itself. It doesn’t get roots from other trees, though some trees can gather together and strengthen each other, like palms do. Their roots grow together and create new trees. But the fact remains, each palm tree has its own roots too. You’ve got to build your own roots. Otherwise, you’ll be pushed around by every wind that blows up around you, and you’ll constantly feel unsettled and miserable.
How Power Struggles Screw Up Our Interactions
Where you seek power (from outside or from within) is a key issue in so many power abuses and wrong-headed social interactions that plague our society. Imagine this:
You don’t feel powerful. You believe — because it’s how you have been taught, it’s what you learned on the playground — that your power, prestige, self-respect, confidence all depend on whether others approve of you and interact with you in ways that confirm your power. In this scenario, literally everyone else has some say in how much power you have. People more powerful than you can make or break you by accepting you or rejecting you. People less powerful can bow to your power, confirming your power. Or they can resist, shaming you and forcing you to shame them worse to restore your power.
This explains bullying, mean girls, narcissistic personality disorder, abusive behavior, road rage and so much more, doesn’t it? Even at a young age, kids are doing this to each other on the playground. The boy who is considered the leader can bring another boy into the crowd, giving him social acceptance, or he can declare the other boy the subject of ridicule, and suddenly the other boy is a reject. Other kids follow suit because they don’t want to be outcast too. Girls do this too. Boys do it to boys, and they do it to girls. Girls do it to girls, and they do it to boys. It infuses everything we do as we grow up unless we break the cycle.
What an exhausting way to live. But so many people live that way, because they haven’t learned another way.
So Break the Cycle, for Crying Out Loud
The other option for finding your sense of power is to realize that you exist in this world with a degree of self-agency or strength that comes from within, regardless of what happens outside you. At the least, you get to choose how you will react to what happens. And that means a lot, much more than many people realize.
Consider the a**hole who flips you off as he drives past you, shouting at you even though you haven’t done anything except to not meet his expectations, whatever they are. That guy can ruin your day if you choose to let it. Or you can choose to recognize that his problem is his problem…that he was angry long before he passed you on the road and he’ll be angry long afterwards, and you were simply a convenient target for him to justify continuing to be angry instead of dealing with his anger like a grownup.
In fact, this is essentially what is happening when a women gets a compliment, says thank you (which is polite, yes?), and is then judged or attacked for saying thank you. It’s like a drive-by road rage incident, and had nothing to do with her. Some women understand this, and they just keep trucking along happily, which is the right response. (Though it is definitely tiring to have it happen to you day in and day out.)
When a Compliment Is Not Actually a Compliment
When you see a man giving a woman a compliment and then taking it back because she agrees with what is being said, it was never actually a compliment to begin with, was it? It was never meant as a genuine expression of admiration and appreciation and respect. Instead, the comment was born out of anger, resentment, jealousy… It was born out of a feeling of powerlessness that the guy is trying to resolve by asking someone to feel more powerless in his presence and to acknowledge that he has more power, even if only a little bit. When that script doesn’t get followed, the rage comes to the surface instead of bubbling below it, because he feels it is being confirmed that he doesn’t have power.
And because the rage comes to the surface and gets expressed, it feels like what it is — a form of abusiveness. Because when you give a compliment to someone only to get a specific reaction from them that meets your needs, not theirs, you’re acting in a way that is clouded by your own distortions of life. You’re thinking about you, not the other person. You want to receive something, and you feel like you have to manipulate someone else to get it. That’s abusive. It’s passive aggressive. People don’t like this, for obvious reasons.
The solution is pretty simple, really. And it applies to both men and women, and to more scenarios than just this issue of accepting and giving compliments:
Learn how to find your sense of power, confidence, strength and respect from within yourself, and how you see yourself, not in how other people see you, speak to you or react to you. You don’t have to wait on anyone else to confirm or deny you are worth something. You you don’t have to agree with them when they tell you that you aren’t worth anything. And you can learn to deal with frustrations without hurting other people.
Oh, I know, I know… I could go on about toxic masculinity, or the patriarchy. I could explain that it’s #notallmen, though it’s certainly a #lotofmen, more than it should be. I could talk about how this problem hurts men as well as women. I could talk about all kinds of things. But ultimately, changes like this have to happen inside each person as they make the decision to stop giving their power over to the reactions and responses of others.
Now imagine this: You say to someone, “Hey I like this thing about you.” And they say, “Yeah, so do I.” And so you say, “Awesome! We have something in common. Let’s keep talking.”
Not a bad alternative, to say the least.
PS. If you like talking or thinking about stuff like this, go listen to Collective Snark’s podcast episode on How to Talk to Girls, and Guys, and Anyone in Between. It’s good stuff.
I have a confession…
No, I can’t. It’s too horrible.
OK. Let me just get this out.
Recently… I started watching The Bachelor.
Whew. I got that off my chest. I feel a little better.
Now, this show is garbage. Purest garbage.
So why am I watching it?
Well… because a podcaster I like does a fancast for The Bachelor (called Rose Buddies) so I thought I’d give it a try. In other words, I’m watching the show as an excuse to listen to a podcast.
Still. It’s garbage. It’s fake, and awkward and really inappropriate in a lot of ways.
And I’m starting to find it therapeutic. It’s fun to flip off the TV every time the designated ‘villian’ is on the screen. It’s fun to protest when the bachelor gives her a rose week after week. It’s fun to bitch about why they don’t show more positive interactions between the contestants, or speculate about how much of what goes on is actually real and how much of it is producer manipulation. To speculate on who’s in the running to win and who’s just there to stir up ratings *cough corn cough*
I can’t actually scream “I hate you!” to idiots on facebook, but I can scream it at my TV. I can’t say, “OMG, you’re SOOOOOO STUPID,” to people in real life, but I can yell it at the bachelor.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s trash. It’s garbage. It’s sensationalist and ridiculous and more than a little sexist.
But one night a week I can forget about real life and real problems and that’s not a bad thing.
…I may have more to say on this topic later. 🙂
Warning: This is a rant. It contains spoilers of Downton Abbey and the Star Wars prequels, NSFW language, and mentions vaginas, sperm, birth control and women’s reproductive health.
So, I’m finally getting caught up with Downton Abbey. (Don’t judge, we all have our weaknesses.) I’m in season 3 right now, which is apparently the year the writers took on the challenge of shoving in every possible soap opera plot known to humankind in 9 episodes. And they do, believe me. But I’m not here to talk about all those plots, just one…
I’m talking about reproduction. And how women take the blame and bear the repercussions of it in so many ways that men can still avoid, even when we live in what we like to think of as a modern, enlightened millennium.
One plot from season 3 of Downton Abbey revolves around a young maid who sleeps with an unmarried young major who is convalescing from injuries he got in WWI. And as you’d expect, because she’s not using protection and neither is he, she gets knocked up. And as you’d expect, she has the baby. And as you’d expect if you’re a woman living in this world and know the score, the major won’t take responsibility for the baby he helped create. So the mother of the baby is kicked out of her job as a maid and forced to live in poverty. You’d think this would seem archaic, outdated…because we are so much more enlightened now (*sarcasm*). However…
I rarely get into this on the blog, but I work for a faith-based nonprofit at the moment. For the most part, I’m okay with that. It has its quirks like any other job. However… I just received a letter that my employer officially received an exemption under the health care laws so they don’t have to pay for birth control pills for their employees.
Never mind the fact that it is highly unlikely any of us will be running out to swallow down Plan B pills anytime soon, because that’s not what you do when you join a faith-based organization. Never mind that we won’t be running to the abortion clinic anytime soon. Never mind the fact that birth control pills give many women the ability to control serious menstrual problems and improve their lives, enabling them to actually make it into their damn job instead of being stuck at home, bleeding out.Never mind all that.
I’m going straight to the heart of the matter. Birth control pills should be available for free to all women of child-bearing age, whether married or single, young or old. Why? Because the fact is, no matter how archaic and old-fashioned that plot point in Downton Abbey should seem, it’s not archaic at all. This is how we still live. Two people have sex. Only one pays for it unless you force the other to pay for it (literally, through paternity tests) in a court of law.
And it is bullshit that we still live like this.
In Downton Abbey, the grandparents of the child step in to offer a dubious deal. “We’ll take the baby,” they say, “but you, poor tramp of a mother that you are, have to give up all claims to the baby and can never see him again. Because you’re a slut. Shame on you.”
Yes, right. Shame on her. Everyone blames her. And yes, she was pretty damn dumb to think that entitled ass of a major would be responsible. But how about shame on him? Wasn’t it his penis and sperm that caused the problem? No sperm, no pregnancy. And if only one half of the species carries the sperm, maybe that’s the half that should be responsible for what the sperm results in. Or at least half the responsibility.
But if you want the female half of this species to bear all the responsibility, then you better damn well let us do it. That’s why we need birth control pills. Either you expect men to be self-controlled and non-sexual the way you expect women to be, or you let us both be lascivious and we both accept responsibility for the results. Fair is fair.
How does this relate to the Star Wars prequels? Oh, I’m just going to share with you a link to a Motherboard article that describes in detail how the lack of adequate women’s health care basically led to Amidala’s death. Think about this… In a science fiction future where robots are self-aware and ships can jump to hyperspace, no one can figure out how to give a woman a test to see if she’s carrying twins, for crying out loud. How the hell is that possible, unless she never went to see a damn doctor the entire time she was pregnant! What the hell, Star Wars?
In a universe where men are clearly in charge and women are often helpless even when as a queen they should be powerful, I suppose it’s not surprising that a bunch of medical droids programmed (no doubt) by men can’t figure out what’s wrong with Amidala. “She’s medically fine,” they say. “We don’t know why she’s dying.” She’s dying of childbirth? Seriously?
(Oh, I know there are other interpretations of what happens to her. Maybe the emperor is draining her life force to bring Darth Vader back from the dead. The Motherboard article disagrees, by the way, and gives an interesting alternate view of what happened.)
Here’s the thing… It just makes me so damn mad to know that after centuries and centuries of what we’d like to call progress, women and childbirth still carries this freakish, shameful scarlet letter of a curse that is absolutely ridiculous in this day and age. We shouldn’t even have to have this conversation today. This post shouldn’t even be necessary. But it is. Which makes me incredibly angry and sad.
It makes me think that even if it wasn’t Hilary who ran this year… Even if some woman who was universally loved and respected, that paragon of womanhood still wouldn’t have been elected as president. Because she’s a woman. And we can’t even trust women to take birth control today, much less run a country. Yay America.
Oh and one final word… Women like sex as much as men do. We shouldn’t get punished for it. Deal with it.