literature, writing

The Power of Specificity in Fiction

The internet is rife with tips and guides that tell aspiring writers how to write. Many writing "rules" are generally agreed upon (i.e., avoiding excessive use of adverbs, and the whole showing rather than telling issue). But from everything I've seen, one of the most overlooked and undervalued pieces of writing advice is "be more… Continue reading The Power of Specificity in Fiction

history

On Categorizing History

Recent discussions in one of my graduate seminars have me thinking about how we structure the curriculum of higher education. There's an inherent difficulty in categorizing different histories--an interrelationship between histories that has given rise to broad meta-labels like "world history" or "transnationalism," labels that are aware of the problems presented by categorizing history and… Continue reading On Categorizing History

writing

7 Basic Query Letter Tips for Aspiring Fiction Authors

Back in December, when I started offering an editing service on Fiverr to help fellow writers fine-tune their query letters, I anticipated that most of the work would revolve around refining their pitch so that it sounded as interesting and marketable as possible. Instead, I found that a lot of people are missing out on… Continue reading 7 Basic Query Letter Tips for Aspiring Fiction Authors

culture

Holiday Heritage: Springerle

Anyone who knows me knows that---in stereotypical American fashion---I identify strongly with my European heritage, especially during the holiday season when lots of old traditions are dredged up each year. I'm German American. I am aware that many native-born Germans turn up their nose at Americans claiming German ancestry, but I'd like to think I… Continue reading Holiday Heritage: Springerle

history, travel

A Visit to Keldur, Iceland

Anyone familiar with Iceland has likely heard something about turf houses, the iconic grass-roofed houses that grace the countryside, carried over from insulation methods in medieval Norway. I wrote once before about Rútshellir, a famous old cave guarded by a turf-covered barn. But while the cave itself might be the oldest man-made residence in Iceland,… Continue reading A Visit to Keldur, Iceland

history, linguistics, literature

Dragons and Sin in Medieval Germanic Literature

Dragon-like figures feature prominently in folklore from around the world. They often hold---or once held---special significance to their respective cultures. Chinese dragons historically symbolized good luck and imperial power, and were used in iconography surrounding the emperor. The founder of the Han dynasty went so far as to claim that his mother dreamt of a… Continue reading Dragons and Sin in Medieval Germanic Literature