Stories All the Way Down

G. M. Baker - Author

On Words that “Sound Modern” in Historical Fiction

One of the trickier things about historical fiction is trying to make the language, particularly the dialogue, sound like it belongs to its period while still being easy enough to read for a modern reader. For fairly recent times, this is not much of a problem. The biggest difficulty in writing a story set in the 20th century is probably dealing with words that were perfectly ordinary then and are considered slurs or otherwise offensive now. But go further back and the problem becomes more complex. Go back to the Anglo-Saxons, as I do, and it becomes quite a head scratcher.

Grand Tour 6: Pride in Service is Not Militarism

This entry is part 6 of 13 in the series Grand Tour

May 4, 2018, Tulsa to Oklahoma City

Today we continue westward through Oklahoma. The themes are not so different from yesterday in Missouri: pride in service, helpful locals, and frustrating navigation units. Also, a small transgression and some disappointing trees.

The Charm, Silliness, and Virtue of The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is controversial in both literary and Catholic circles. At the literary level, critics dismiss it while the public loves it, regularly voting it high on various best books lists. Catholic opinion is similarly divided, some seeing it as the great Catholic novel of the 20th century while others dismiss it as boring nonsense. Both judgements miss something. The Lord of the Rings is a big, messy, and sometimes silly book, but it has a streak of genius running through it.

Avatar, Friend, and Shrink – Three Modes of Reader Intimacy

Which point of view produces the greatest intimacy between the reader and the character? Watching this debate between two writing friends led me to ask what they meant by intimacy. I propose (invoking the liberty of blogging) that there are at least three modes of intimacy between reader and character: avatar, friend, and shrink. There may be more, but these will do for now.

My First Novel to be Published in 2021

Really pleased to say that my first novel has been accepted for publication by Chrism Press and will see the light of day toward the end of 2021.

The publication contract with Chrism Press has been cancelled. There is many a slip twixt cup and lip. The Rules of Trade will find its way into the world by another route.

The Rules of Trade (The Peaceweaver, Book One), is an historical novel set in eighth-century Northumbria, just weeks after the great Viking raid on the rich monastery of Lindisfarne, which was the 9-11 of the Anglo Saxon world.

The Under-imagined Story

Writers sometimes worry about overthinking their writing. They should be more worried about under-imagining it.

Grand Tour 5: A Thousand Tiny Attractions

This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series Grand Tour

May 3, 2018. Springfield Missouri to Tulsa Oklahoma

Themes of the day are ugly English tourists, underwhelming attractions, and decent ice cream.

Springfield MO to Tulsa OK

A storm system passes overnight and it continues raining for most of the morning. The day’s planned route is not terribly long so we make a leisurely morning and hope for the weather to clear.

There are three loud Englishmen at breakfast in the motel’s breakfast room. Apparently they are doing Route 66 west to east. As a Canadian born in England, who has experienced the ugly American tourist in Europe, it is nice to see roles reversed and the ugly English tourist being obnoxious in America.

The Liberty of Blogging

As I set about creating the second blog of my life, I am thinking about the liberty of the blogger. The writer enjoys various degrees of liberty in the different kinds of things they write. In a diary or journal you may safely say almost anything, as long as you leave instructions in your will that all your private papers should be burned unread. (Recommended.) In a letter to a friend, colleague, editor, reader, etc. you have to be a little more circumspect, but your audience is still small.

Grand Tour 4: Memorializing Corporals, not Generals

This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series Grand Tour

May 2, 2018. St. Louis to Springfield MO

We head out of St. Louis toward Springfield, Missouri on a route that takes us through the Ozarks.  Themes for the  day: thousands of tiny attractions, bridges that memorialize corporals rather than generals, and wonky navigation units. St. Louis to Springfield MO

The Garmin, which served us so well in Chicago, decides to ignore all my painstakingly set shaping points for leaving St Louis by the old road and dumps us onto the freeway. The freeways of St. Louis are a particularly unpleasant place to be at 7 am on a weekday. We pass one Route 66 historic byway sign, but far too late to jump across lanes to the exit. We eventually get off and find a parking lot where it takes me 20 minutes to beat the Garmin into submission. Then five more minutes to persuade it that we don’t want to go back downtown and start over.

Grand Tour 3: The Road as a Museum to Ordinary Eccentricity

This entry is part 3 of 13 in the series Grand Tour

Monday, April 30, 2018 Springfield to St Louis

I resume the long-delayed transcribing of my Grand Tour travel diary in the midst of a pandemic which has meant, among other inconveniences, that I am at home on my laptop instead of somewhere in Utah, as originally planned for this October. Some say that the purpose of travel is to accumulate memories. If so, revisiting these diaries ought to be better than actually travelling. In some sense it is. Memory leaves out the tedious bits, the inconveniences, the frustrations and delays. Hopefully this account leaves them out too. Still, I’d rather be on the road right now. But here I sit and reminisce.

Route Map Springfield to St. Louis

On this day, May 1, 2018, we take a fairly short drive from Springfield to St. Louis, leaving time for various detours and bits of sight seeing.

While Route 66 is a 2500 mile open air museum, a Beamish Museum / Upper Canada Village / Colonial Williamsburg, right down to the original section of red brick pavement or the concrete section with the turkey tracks, both of which we drive today, it is less “authentic” than those sites in the sense that the old bits are scattered among all the new bits.

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