Monday, February 14, 2011

Gnocchi, The Age of Cattle, and Colorful Insults

In today's world, no matter what you read...or write...people want to know the facts, the real truth, the unknowns, and the absurd.  And they're not too particular about which is which.  But as writers, we should be...particular, that is.  No matter what we are writing in terms of fiction...contemporary, science fiction, steampunk, whatever...we should be concerned with realism.  Even in Science Fiction, isn't what makes it fascinating to readers is that what is on the printed page could actually happen?  If it is an idea, isn't it true that the only thing stopping that idea from becoming reality is the technology to put it into action?

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where research comes in.  So here are some more interesting, and perhaps unusual, websites to spark your interest in doing research!

Food Reference:

Did you know that "gnocchi" is also called "strangolapreti" in Italy, because supposedly an Italian priest loved the dumplings so much he ate them too fast and choked to death?  An old wives' tale?  Hmm...well, maybe.  Did you know that the Visigoths demanded 3,000 pounds of pepper ( pepper ?? ) as a ransom for Rome, or that the first Olympic champion was a cook in 776 B.C. ?  Here you will find all kinds of fun facts ( the start of a NF article, perhaps? ), as well as recipes, food trivia, culinary quotes, and a timeline that dates back to 10,000 B.C.

The Household Cyclopedia:

A 19th Century treasure trove of miscellania !  How did people in this age run their homes?  If they had had this information, they could know how to tell the age of their cattle ( always nice to know so you won't breed an old cow to a young bull ! ), or how to avoid the event they lived near water they could swim in, of course; or even how to make case they had a quill handy but nothing to write with.  Who knows? Some trivia like this could make a mediocre story the next best seller!

The Costume Gallery Research Library:

Everything you ever wanted to know about shoes, hats, fashion, textiles, needlework, paperdolls, film costumes, designers, and even etiquette is right here.  It covers a time span from the Byzantine,Medieval, and Renaissance up to later centuries, and even has information about the Titanic and German fashion.

Surfing for Slang:

A comprehensive slang database which covers common colloquialisms from the US, UK, Australia, Scandinavia, South Africa, the Caribbean, and many other countries.  There are colorful insults, and specialized jargon relating to the military, journalism, sports, chess, technology, and even truckers.  What more could you want?

The Phobia List:

Sometimes our MCs have phobias that they have to overcome in order to gain what they want.  So how about some of these:  alliumphobia ( fear of garlic); consecotaleophobia ( fear of chopsticks); lutraphobia ( fear of otters); or even...a fear of big words ( hippopotomonstrosequippedaliophobia).  I think if a character had to tell a psychiatrist the name of her phobia, she'd get over it pretty darn quick !

Finally, for the time travelers among us:

Andy's Anachronisms:

This extensive website covers just about everything on time travel you would want to know about alternative universes, time travel, and temporal anomalies found in novels, movies, short stories, TV, and plays.  It also includes links to scientific theories so you can check out your methodology from getting from here to there, and compare it to other theories.

And one more:

The TV Crime Libary:

Maybe not for you if you write for younger readers.  But this site covers everything you ever wanted to know about horrific murders, gangsters, spies, conspiracy theories, and the workings of the criminal mind.

These websites, and the ones in the last post, were put together by Christina Hamlett, and are found in the Children's Writer Guide, 2009 edition.  Thanks, Christina!

Until later,
That's a wrap.


  1. Great posts.

    Congratulations, I have chosen your blog for the irresistibly sweet blog award:

  2. Very very cool, Mikki! Of course, you had me at the "Gnocchi", since my family makes that every year for Christmas. :)