Posts Tagged ‘Majanka’

The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: Jefferson Disk

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Writing The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, I had to do a lot of research, not just into the different species of shifters that would appear in the book, but also on other rather mysterious topics. One of those topics was ciphers.

The Jefferson disk, or wheel cipher as the inventor, Thomas Jefferson named it in 1795, is also known as the Bazeries Cylinder. It’s a cipher system, or code system, using a set of wheels or disk, each with the 26 letters of the alphabet arranged around the edge.

The order of letters is different for each disk, scrambled randomly. Each disk has an unique number and a hole in its center that allows it to be stacked on an axle. The disks can be moved on the axle in any order desired, and can also be removed. The order of the disks is known as the cipher key.

The Jefferson disk had 36 disks that could spell a message. The disks are placed on the axle, and then the sender rotates each disk up and down until a message is spelled out on a row. For example, one row could spell out: The murderer is Mr. X.

Then, the sender would have to look at one of the other rows, which will contain a message that is complete gibberish. He copies down this message, and gives it to the recipient, the person who he wants to break the code.

The recipient then rotate the disks until they spell out the encrypted message on one row, the gibberish message, and then looks through all the rows until he finds the plaintext message: The murderer is Mr. X.

Pretty cool, eh?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | No Comments »


The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: Writing Tough Scenes

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Today’s post is a little different. Rather than sharing trivia with you about the shifters appearing in The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, I wanted to touch upon a more difficult subject. Writing tough scenes.

Sometimes, scenes are tough because you struggle while writing them. Action scenes are often like that. You need to visualize what the characters are doing, the way they move, what they do at presicely what moment. As such, for a lot of authors, action scenes are difficult to write. But today I’m not talking about scenes that are difficult to write because they’re complicated… I’m talking about writing scenes that are tough to write because writing them… hurts.

While editing A Study in Shifters, I had to add in a scene that features Marisol Holmes and her father, and the scene hit close to home for me. Without giving away spoilers, in the scene Marisol and her dad pretend to be Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. It was tough for me to write that because it reminded me a lot about my own father.

My father passed away when I was seven years old. My fondest memories of him were when we played “Robin Hood”. Whenever we played that, I was Robin Hood, and my father played just about every other role there was: the evil Prince John, Robin Hood’s sidekick Little John, and a bunch of other characters we came up with.

Writing that scene with Marisol Holmes and her father, reminded me so much of what I used to play with my own father, that it really hurt to write that. It hurt, but at the same time, it also made me happy, because people able to conjure up the fondest memories you have of a person, and then being able to incorporate them into a story, is a wonderful way to honor a person. I’m sure my father would’ve agreed with that. He loved books and always encouraged me to read and write.

Even though it’s been twenty years since my father passed away, it makes me happy to know the memories of the person he was still inspire me, and that he’s still close to me, even now.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | 1 Comment »


The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: Invisible Ink

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Writing The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, I had to do a lot of research, not just into the different species of shifters that would appear in the book, but also on other rather mysterious topics. One of those topics was invisible ink.

One of the earliest writers who ever mentioned invisible ink is Aeneas Tacticus, in the fourth century BCE. Invisible ink has been used for centuries, and was particularly popular in the Roman Empire and 16th century Europe.

Invisible ink can be applied on a writing surface in many different ways, sometimes even just by dipping a finger in the liquid. Once dry, the written surface will look blank, and otherwise perfectly similar as how it would look prior to being written on. The ink can then later be made visibile using different methods, depending on the type of ink used.

One of the most common ways to display invisible ink is by viewing it under ultraviolet light, by applying the appropriate chemical, or even just by putting it under a heat source. Whoever thinks you need a complicated chemical balance to create invisible ink, would be very wrong. Some organic substances oxidize when heated which turns them brown. You can even try this at home.

Any acidic fluid will work for this drink, but some suggestions are coca cola, honey solution, sugar solution, lemon / apple / organge or onion juice, wine, or even milk.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make invisible ink using lemon juice:

  • Use the juice as ink by applying it to a stick or paintbrush, and then writing on paper.
  • Wait for the paper to dry.
  • When you’re ready to read your invisible message, hold the paper up to a lightbulb or another heat source.
  • The heat will cause the writing to darken to a pale brown.
  • You can now read your message!

Give it a try, and feel free to email me a picture of your invisible ink experiment.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | No Comments »


The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: All About Spiders

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

In this week’s post, I’m going to talk to you about one type of shifter species in The Adventures of Marisol Holmes series that we haven’t discussed yet. Spiders. In the books, the mortician / coroner is a spider named Mormont.

Spiders are arthropods, meaning they have eight legs. They also have fangs that inject venom. There are at least 45,700 spider species and 113 spider families. That’s a lot of species! On top of that, spiders are found worldwide on every continent except Antarctica (so for those of you who have arachnophobia, like I do, let’s head to Antarctica!).

Male spiders have complex mating rituals to avoid being eaten by the females of the species. Males usually survive a few mating rituals in their life. Females weave silk eggcases after mating, each of which may contain hundreds of eggs. Females will often carry their young around or share food with them.

Social behavior among spiders is often complex. Some spiders such as the widow spiders are solitary creatures, but other spider species hunt co-operatively, or even share food.

Some spider species have venom dangerous to humans but most venom is harmless. Spiders use it to hunt their prey (not, contrary to popular belief, to hunt down human beings at least a hundred times their size). Spiders capture their prey by creating sticky webs, which they then manipulate to capture prey. When a prey is captured in their web, they inject the prey with venom, paralyzing the fly / bug / whatever else insect they captured.

 

Bewaren

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | No Comments »


The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: All About Foxes

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

As you know, The Adventures of Marisol Holmes features a school of shifters, and one of the shifters who appears in the story is a fox shifter. Foxes are small-to-medium-sized, and “fox” is actually a group name given to twelve distinct species of “vulpes”. On top of that, there are also 25 current or extinct species often called foxes.

The red fox is the most common subspecies of foxes, and currently has 47 recognized subspecies.

Foxes are smaller than wovles, jackals and even than domestic dogs. Foxes typically live in small family groups, but some foxes, in particular the Arctic fox, are known to be solitary.

Foxes are omnivores. They often eat insects, reptiles and birds, but can also eat eggs and plants. A female fox is called a “vixen”. Unfortunately, fox hunting was a popular sport since the 16th century in particular in the United Kingdom. While it’s now banned to hunt with dogs, hunting without dogs is still permitted.

In Asian culture, foxes are depicted as familiar spirits. They have magical powers, and are seen as mischievous tricksters. These spirits are called “kitsune”. Kitsune can take on a human form, and can duplicate the appearance of a specific person, in particular beautiful women. While the fox shifters in The Adventures of Marisol Holmes are also quite mischievous, they don’t have additional magical abilities like the Japanese kitsune.

 

Bewaren

Bewaren

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | No Comments »


A Study in Scarlet vs A Study in Shifters

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: A Study in Shifters is completely different from Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet”, but the title is based on it. “A Study in Scarlet” was published in 1887 and marks the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Since the Marisol Holmes series features a heroine who is the great-great-granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, and who has the same intelligent, sharp mind as her ancestor does, it made a lot of sense to base the title of the first book in the series on the title of the first Sherlock Holmes book. And admit it, “A Study in Shifters” sounds pretty cool either way.

In “A Study in Scarlet”, Dr. Watson (the narrator) meets Sherlock Holmes, who reveals he’s a consulting detective. They first meet in a laboratory where Holmes is experimenting and explains to Watson the importance of bloodstains as evidence in criminal trials. In A Study of Shifters, Marisol too explains the importance of bloodstains in crime scenes.

Watson is amazed by how perceptive Holmes is, considering the consulting detective notices right away that Watson served in Afghanistan, without the doctor telling him.

Holmes is asked to consult on a murder case, but he’s reluctant to do so. Watson urges him to reconsider, and then Holmes invites Watson along. While Watson is on the sidelines, more a spectator than an active participant in solving the crime, and most of the credit goes to Holmes, he does offer some helpful suggestions that help Holmes along the way.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | No Comments »


The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: All About Otters

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

One of the main characters in The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: A Study in Shifters, Wyatt Johnson, is an otter shifter. Now, otters look adorable, but they’re much more to otters than meets the eye–and the same counts for Wyatt. Let’s learn a bit more about our otter friends.

Otters have long, slim bodies and short limbs. They have powerful webbed feet which they use to swim, and seal-like abilities which permit them to hold their breath underwater. They have sharp claws on their feet and long, muscular tails. There are actually thirteen species of otters.

For most otters, fish is the number one item on their menu. Sometimes they also add in frogs, crayfish and crabs. Otters are active hunters, chasing prey in the water or searching the beds of rivers and lakes. Otters require a lot of food: European otters must eat 15% of their body weight each day. Sea otters need even more, 20-25%, depending on the temperature of the water. Most species hunt for three to five hours each day, and nursing mothers even hunt for eight hours each day.

Did you know an otter’s den is actually called a holt or couch? I had no idea!

Otters are popular animals in Japanese folklore. In Japanse folklore, otters fool humans the same way foxes do (think of the kitsune). They can apparently, according to the stories, shapeshift into beautiful women. They will answer questions in a crytical way. However, there’s also a story of an otter shifting into a beautiful woman, and luring males to their deaths by eating them. Yikes! Turns out these cute animals are quite dangerous after all, at least in folklore.

Bewaren

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | No Comments »


The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: All About Leopards

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

In The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: A Study in Shifters, two of the characters, Elise Fell and Reyna Fell, are leopard shifters. Leopards are closely related to jaguars, from the way they look to the way they hunt, but despite the resemblances, there are some stark differences between the two species.

Just like the jaguar, the leopard is one of the five big cats in the genus Panthera. It has relatively short legs, but a long body and large skull. It’s smaller and lighter than a jaguar. There are 9 subspecies of leopards recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), namely the African leopard, Indian leopard, Arabian leopard, Persian leopard (also known as Central Asian leopar or Caucasian leopard), North Chinese leopard, Amur leopard, Indochinese leopard, Javan leopard and Sri Lankan leopard. As you can see, most of the species are divided based on their hunting grounds and where they’ve been found.

All these subspecies have small morphological differences from one another. On top of that, the texture and colour of a leopard’s fur often varies too by climate and geography; leopards in forests are darker than those in deserts.

The leopards primarily occur in Africa, and eastern and southeast Asia. They’re very adaptable, and can thrive in forests as well as in savannas. They can climb on trees and are often resting on tree branches during the day. They even drag their kills up trees and hang them there. Leopards are solitary predators.

Leopards often appeared in mythology. Egyptian priests wore the skin of a leopard, in particular the skin of black panthers, which they saw as a symbol for the spirit of Set.

 

 

 

Bewaren

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | No Comments »


The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: All About Jaguars

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

In The Adventures of Marisol Homes: A Study in Shifters, our main character, Marisol, is a half-human / half-jaguar shifter. Her mother is a full blood jaguar shifter. Of course, I couldn’t write about jaguar shifters without doing some research into jaguars.

Turns out, jaguars are actually pretty amazing. They’re the third-largest big cat, after the tiger and lion, and the largest in the Americas. It’s genus is Panthera, which it shares with the leopard, tiger, lion, cheetah, and the other big cats.

The jaguar’s current hunting grounds range from Southwestern United States and Mexico, across much of Central America, even to Paraguay and northern Argentina.

Physically, the jaguar is closest related to the leopard, but it has a larger, sturdier build. The jaguar doesn’t live in packs, it’s a solitary predator at the top of the food chain in the regions it occupies.

The jaguar has the most powerful bite of all the big cats. When a jaguar wants to kill its prey, it bites between the ears and bites directly through the skull, into the brain–usually, a fatal bite.

Did you know a black panther isn’t actually a seperate species? A black panther is either a jaguar or a leopard with color morphism, into a near-black, melanistic form. Jaguars with melanism appear entirely black. Extremely rare are albino jaguars, also called white panthers.

Jaguars are often present in Aztec mythology. The Aztecs used the image of the jaguar as the representative of the ruler, and as a warrior. The Aztecs even had an elite warrior clans, known as the Jaguar Knights. How awesome is that?

 

Bewaren

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | No Comments »


The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: Paris Catacombs

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

A Study in Shifters is set in two primary locations: the first one is Waynard Academy, a boarding school in England, and the second location is Paris.

Now, luckily, I’ve visited Paris a few times before, three times to be exact. This helped me get a feel of the place before I wrote about it. I know all the tourist attractions, the landmarks, some of the street names. I’ve seen the Notre Dame twice so I can describe how it looks like, what feelings overwhelm tourists as they head inside.

But the one place I haven’t visited yet in Paris, is the catacombs.

Now, I’ve been in catacombs before, particularly the ones in Rome, and you get more or less the same claustrophic, slightly eerie vibe as you head into that underground labyrinth. For the Paris catacombs, I had to do some reseach though, considering I’d never been there.

Turns out the Catacombs of Paris aren’t really all that old. They were founded in the eighteenth century, two millennia later than the ones founded in Rome. The officials of Paris were struggling with two problems in the eighteenth century: cave-ins and overdlowing cemeteries. During the night, they transferred remains from the cemeteries to reinforced tunnels underneath the ground. More than six million people are now buried in the catacombs of Paris.

Nowadays, Parisians refer to the tunnels under Paris as the “catacombs” – not just to the smaller network of catacomb tunnels themselves, but to all underground tunnels.

A fun anecdote about the Paris catacombs, in 2004, police discovered a fully equipped movie theater in one of the caverns, equipped with a giant cinema screen, audience seats, and a complete restaurant.

If they could hide all that in one of those underground caverns… Think about what else could be hidden deep inside those catacombs.

The pictures used in this post are actually pretty amazing. They’ve been taken by Felix Nadar in 1861, and show case the very first use of the illumination technique with artificial light. The pictures are from Wikimedia Commons, and to see the fulll collection, go here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Majanka | No Comments »


Page 1 of 212

Join our mailing list

Don't miss out on our fun news, articles, and updates. Sign up today!