I love the detailed historical blogs the other wenches produce here so regularly, but right now, I would have to research a detail to research. I’ve completed the School of Magic series for the moment, and for weeks, I've been staring at a blank screen. The isolation of this plague really has eaten my brain, and without travel or other people to stimulate my Muse, my head was vacant. I had no clue where to go next. (OK, I want to go to Italy, but that’s irrelevant at the moment!)
Writer’s block has not ever, ever happened to me. Never. My brain spills ideas like a pillow spills feathers. To prove my point, I dug into my computer’s bowels and dug out the 101 proposals I’ve shipped to my agent over the decades. I have ideas on top of ideas. Mostly, they’re too far out for normal markets. But ha! I don’t have to care about normal markets these days. I just need to give my readers a Patricia Rice book, one that tends to include eccentric characters, nuisance children, small towns, and the occasional paranormal touch.
And to my interest, almost all the unused proposals are contemporary. Many of them are mysteries. Most of them contain humor—which is really needed right now and has been elusive lately. So I thought maybe while I’m waiting for that trip to Italy, I could toy with a little humor. And what to my wondering eyes did appear—but a proposal for a contemporary, small town, humorous mystery with characters who could easily be Malcolms, written in the days before I’d created my psychic Malcolms.
It was a mess. I’d obviously rewritten it a number of times to fit various markets until it didn’t fit anything. So having nothing better to do, I sat down and rewrote it with my Malcolm family background. And the book kept on writing itself. If you’re a writer, this is a Very Good Thing. My Muse was happy. I was happy. My characters had a few problems with each other and weren’t always happy <G>, but that’s the nature of conflict. Not too much conflict, mind you, because I’ve been too battered by the Universe this past year and really don’t want bloodshed and sorrow. But people dealing with real problems and resolving them—that, I can manage.
Except a contemporary doesn’t give me fun historical research blogs. I just checked my Google history when I sat down to write this. Today alone I have researched: ectoplasm, San Bernardino, mining and minerals, Mojave, Cajun French, apotropaic magic, amulets against evil, safety deposit boxes, and corpses under water. For a book set in South Carolina. And you’re really wanting to know what apotropaic magic is, aren’t you?
So, here’s my research blog for today: Apotropaic magic is represented by charms, amulets, or gestures designed to deflect harm or evil and avert misfortune. Even things like not walking under ladders or stepping on cracks—to avoid bad luck or breaking your mother’s back—is a form of apotropaic magic, along with crossing fingers and knocking on wood. So, see, you’ve been performing magic all along and didn’t know it! So my characters can hang blue bottles to ward off harm, if they like, although they’re much more likely to use them as targets or weapons. No one said magic has to work.
What apotropaic magic are you most likely to use? I have a tendency to knock on wood, admittedly. And I love my little evil eye amulet. How do you add a little magic to your life?