Here’s How It Is

Here’s how it is: When I think about this blog endeavor, I think about posting something new and awesome—or at least entertaining—for you to read every Friday. Most of the time, I do that. So yay!

Okay *I* think it’s awesome. Your mileage may vary.

I want to keep posting every Friday, but this particular bit of writing has slipped down my list of priorities.

Since December of last year my family has been going through a really difficult challenge, and I’ll be blunt about it, then toddle along. My husband was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There’s no cure. Average life expectancy is 2–4 years, but he appears to be have drawn the short straw,  and things are moving along pretty quickly.

He’s always been an avid and active outdoorsman. This thing is tough on him. Still, he maintains a pretty positive outlook, and he’s managed to keep his awesome sense of humor.

My kids made it possible for us to take a vacation in Florida with them at the beginning of this month. They are amazing. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. They helped at the airport, on the plane, with transportation, food, and paying for stuff. They treated us like royalty. I get sniffly thinking about it.

It was over too soon, and back to the fun-and-games of collecting (more) proper paperwork, combat with internet demons, dealing with insurance, disability, the trick questions served up by myssa-dot-gov. Because this situation isn’t hard enough, right?

After a day in which all e-mail except e-mail from my husband’s employer and the neurological clinic landed in my box with gleeful abandon, I think (tentatively) that things might be progressing. Hopefully. I’m not holding my breath.

So expect random updates here on my blog. I have a book I’m (trying to be) editing, and I’d much rather do that! And there’s a new Crow plot just begging for my attenton. Lemme at it! In the meantime, I absolutely love hearing from you. Shoot me an email, track me down on Facebook, or join my extremely rare newsletter. I read—and answer—all my emails!

Conlang—constructed language—is today’s topic for A Drift of Quills. Do we make up our own languages for our books? How? If not, why not? http://robinlythgoe.com

A Drift of Quills: Conlang (What’s That You Say?)

Conlang—constructed language—is today’s topic for A Drift of Quills. Do we make up our own languages for our books? How? If not, why not?

Pull up a chair, grab yourself a cookie or twenty, and read on to find out how the gang feels about fictional languages!

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

I have a kind of lazy love for language. My copy of the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style makes me crazy, but… I’m one of those readers that will highlight passages in novels that sing to me. Sometimes I copy them into a file to come back to later so I can oo and ah over them. And I did take the equivalent of seven years of foreign language in high school. (I think I learned more about English there than I did in English classes!) Then there was Tolkien. Was my experience a recipe for conlang or what? Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Conlang (What’s That You Say?)

Five Good Things #11 (Amazing People Doing Amazing Things) — Terrible, trying things happen, sure, but among all the tears and terror, there are beautiful things going on. Check out these amazing people using their noggins for good things! http://robinlythgoe.com

Five Good Things #11 (Amazing People Doing Amazing Things)

At a recent family gathering the conversation degenerated into a listing of all the Horrible Things going on in the world—especially in our own area. Shootings, robberies, neglect, abuse. All the typical frightening events of our dystopian society.

“What about some good stories?” I asked, but the discussion was stuck on the general doomsday scenario.

“I read that a cow was rescued from a ditch in our city,” I provided. Happy news, right? No one died, was broken, destroyed, or otherwise doomed. I’ll bet the cow was relieved. The topic got some laughs, but I was left wondering (not for the first time) why people are so determined to dwell on the negative aspects of life.

Terrible, trying things happen, sure. My family is currently facing its toughest trial ever. It’s taking a lot out of me, and it’s going to change my life drastically. But among all the tears and terror, there are beautiful things happening:

• A son-in-law finishing a yard project we had to abandon
• The awesome people at my husband’s company sponsoring two fund-raising events
• Friends and neighbors fixing our broken appliances (Doesn’t it figure they’d go out in the middle of disaster?) and ailing garage door, bringing treats, mowing the lawn, volunteering rides, offering relief
• Our amazing son and daughters mending, researching, fetching, cooking, organizing, supporting, and generally being… well, amazing

And you know what? There are lots of amazing people in the world doing amazing things. I’ve rounded up Five Good Things for you (Don’t worry, no cows in ditches…!)

Amazing People Doing Amazing Things

Biodegradable 6-pack Ring is Edible to Sea Life

https://inhabitat.com/beer-with-biodegradable-six-pack-rings-finally-hits-the-market/
Florida’s Saltwater Brewery has created a six-pack ring that feeds sea animals instead of killing them. They’re made of wheat and barley, biodegradable, and world-friendly. Look at those amazing people using their noggins!

Happiness is the Key to Life

https://inhabitat.com/beer-with-biodegradable-six-pack-rings-finally-hits-the-market/

Six Illogical Genre Aesthetics

https://mythcreants.com/blog/six-illogical-genre-aesthetics/
Besides these examples being completely true, the author wrote about them in a way that made me laugh out loud. I know I’m easily entertained, but Oren Ashkenazi has a way with words that tickles my sense of humor.

Exploring the Brothers Grimm Museum

Exploring the Brothers Grimm Museum
“The parts about the fairy tales and the lives of the Grimms were fascinating, but I think the best thing about the museum, for me, was its celebration of language.” ~Nicola Alter

City of Yphyrion

https://maximeplasse.deviantart.com/art/City-of-Yphyrion-417698341
Since I previously featured a map by Maxime Plasse, I meant to choose another artist. But… well… I really like this one! “This map was intended to show some late 19th century city cartography style, with a fictionnal city.” I don’t know about “late 19th century,” but it’s sure got my wheels turning for doing some city mapping!

City of Yphyrion, by Maxime Plasse-dA (Amazing People)

Want to see more good stuff? I’ve got you covered: All Kinds of Good Things

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Which of these amazing things by amazing people do you like best?
What fantastic things have you seen in the world lately?
Share in the comments!

If you’re looking for another retelling of the Frankenstein novel, this isn’t it—but The Frankenstein Chronicles is a fascinating and creative tale in which the book figures. It’s horror, mystery—and sci-fi. And who *is* the antagonist? http://robinlythgoe.com

Hooked on TV: The Frankenstein Chronicles

So Hubby and I binge-watched the first two seasons of The Frankenstein Chronicles. A horror, mystery, sci-fi series from Rainmark Films in the UK, the show follows the crime-solving John Marlott as he tries to discover whodunnit. While Mary Shelley’s book does indeed figure—and Shelley even appears as one of the cast members—this is certainly not just another interpretation of the original novel.

If you’re looking for another retelling of the Frankenstein novel, this isn’t it—but The Frankenstein Chronicles is a fascinating and creative tale in which the book figures. It’s horror, mystery—and sci-fi. And who *is* the antagonist? http://robinlythgoe.comWhat we’ve got is Continue reading Hooked on TV: The Frankenstein Chronicles

A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots (Department of Stories) — We’re doing it again: one picture, three authors, little bitty writing space.

A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots (Department of Stories)

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

It’s time for some Fiction Shots — flash fiction, that is! A Drift of Quills are at it again: one picture, three authors, little bitty writing space. The inspiration for our tiny tales comes from an untitled piece by the artist JuYoung Ha on ArtStation. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Fiction Shots Inspiration: "Untitled," by JuYoung HaIt’s always fun for me to see how other authors interpret a picture or invent a story from it. Isn’t it delightful how wonderfully, crazily different we all are? Let’s see how these fiction shots play out…

Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots (Department of Stories)

Brownies are a traditional go-to treat, and why not? One bowl, a few minutes of prep, and then the delicious and mouth-watering scent of chocolatey goodness baking in the oven. Break out the bowl and get your chocolate on with these Oatmeal Brownies!

Chocolate Fix: Oatmeal Brownies

Oatmeal Brownies—because we can’t have too many delicious brownie recipes, right? These came about after a little experimentation with an old recipe that had a good flavor but was a little too dry. And let me tell you, experimenting with brownie recipes is such a trial! (Not!)

Brownies are a traditional go-to treat, and why not? One bowl, a few minutes of prep, and then the delicious and mouth-watering scent of chocolatey goodness baking in the oven.
On movie night when our kids were still home, my husband would team up with one of them in a race to get the brownies into the oven during a commercial break (or two). It was a very popular activity.

Break out the bowl and get your chocolate on! Oatmeal Brownies for the win! Continue reading Chocolate Fix: Oatmeal Brownies

All the Secrets of the World

All the secrets of the world are contained in books.” I love this quote by Lemony Snicket. Books are like treasure chests, full of the most wonderful things. When I first began reading, it was to discover adventures—And those adventures taught me all kinds of things, from moral ideals to exciting new ideas. To my delight, I discovered that the learning never stops. Whether we’re reading fact or fiction, reading helps us understand the world we live in and the people we live with. It introduces us to different ideas and inspires us to think. To make sense of our existence. To indulge in creativity.

There’s no such thing as a passive reader.

All those amazing little squiggly lines on a page require brain activity. Not only are we interpreting them into concepts we are familiar with, but we use them to create.

“The arrival of food interrupted his construction. A thick steak, roasted onions, and a loaf of bread washed down with stale water to fatten up the jansu’s prize.”

Can you read that line (from my forthcoming novel, Flesh and Bone) and not imagine a savory, aromatic meal? Do you not wonder what’s being built? What’s a “jansu”? Why is the prize being fattened up? (And do you envision something like the wicked witch fattening up Hansel and Gretel?)

I challenge you to go forth and exercise your brain. Learn some stuff while you’re taking some virtual adventures.

What things have you learned while you were reading fiction? What novel taught you the most? Share how and why in the comments below!

“All the secrets of the world are contained in books.” I love this quote by Lemony Snicket. Books are like treasure chests, full of the most wonderful things. When I first began reading, it was to discover adventures—And those adventures taught me all kinds of things, from moral ideals to exciting new ideas. To my delight, I discovered that the learning never stops. Whether we’re reading fact or fiction, reading helps us understand the world we live in and the people we live with. It introduces us to different ideas and inspires us to think. To make sense of our existence. To indulge in creativity.  There’s no such thing as a passive reader.

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Book Storage (Five Different Flavors of Library Heaven)

I’m in the mood for a little library heaven. Books comfort me. I love being surrounded by them, teased by the words and the worlds tucked between the covers, soothed by row upon row of orderly spines inviting me to come discover new places and people and things.

Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No… eight days a week.

~Alan Bradley

So let’s take a walk through some gorgeous pictures of heavenly libraries and pretend for a little while that we can visit. Or, better yet, import some of these ideas into our own homes!

Library Heaven

A room with some views (books AND a lovely big window!)… (Via Tumblr)

 

This cozy nook by John K. Anderson just begs me to curl up and indulge in a good book! (From CrunchLipstick)

 

What’s not to love about twinkle lights, lots of green plants, bright windows, and books in this downtown Los Angeles loft? (Via Apartment Therapy)

 

More inviting coziness… Don’t you love the look of that cushy chair and the oversized ottoman, all surrounded by books? (From Pinterest)

 

Just as appealing as “dark and cozy” is Diane von Furstenberg’s  bright, spacious library. I love the fireplace, the big window, the ladders (!), and of course all the books and books and books!

I’m in the mood for a little library heaven. Books comfort me. I love being surrounded by them, teased by the words and the worlds tucked between the covers, soothed by row upon row of orderly spines inviting me to come discover new places and people and things. Take a virtual walk with me!

Last summer I shared several of my favorite libraries (so much library heaven, so little time!). Be sure to check them out here: All the Crannies and All the Nooks!

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Which one is your favorite?
Have you got a dream library picked out? Share in the comments!

 

Photo by Savs on Unsplash

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Welcome to A Drift of Quills, and today’s fun topic of “Book Spine Poetry.” This form of literature is pretty simple, and we’re excited about simple this month. Book spine poetry is a kind of “found” art. First, you need books. Start with one or two that spark your interest. As you stack them up, swap them around until they create a poem or a poetic “story.” The limitations encourage creativity, and we love creativity!

A Drift of Quills: Book Spine Poetry Redux

Welcome to A Drift of Quills, and today’s fun topic of “Book Spine Poetry.” This form of literature is pretty simple, and we’re excited about simple this month. Book spine poetry is a kind of “found” art. First, you need books. Start with one or two that spark your interest. As you stack them up, swap them around until they create a poem or a poetic “story.” The limitations encourage creativity, and we love creativity!
A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

My taste in poetry is questionable.

I gravitate toward freeform (usually only my own—how arrogant!), the unusual (sample below), or limericks and “revised” song lyrics (for which I blame my husband).

In my teens I went through an angsty period where I wrote reams of freeform poetry, 98% of which were terrible. Wrist to forehead dramatically, I determined I would make my living as a moody poet. Until I discovered a) how bad I was and b) how difficult that career choice actually was. I like food far too much to take up life as a Starving Artist.

Dr. Seuss might have had some influence on my choices of “unusual” poetry. I liked the silliness then, and I still do. So I find myself tickled by such things as “The Song of Milkanwatha,” by Marc Anthony Henderson, a parody of Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha.” And I love the dubious humor of Ogden Nash:

I don’t mind eels.
Except as meals,
And the way they feels…

Limericks are easy to like, and easy to have fun with, though I prefer the non-bawdy variety. There are such things, yanno! Trivial detail for you: limericks are said to have derived from the chorus ‘will you come up to Limerick?’, sung between improvised verses at gatherings. “Improvised” is the key word here, and segues well into the “revised song lyric” category.

My wonderful, funny husband is always changing up the lyrics to songs to suit the occasion. His most often misused song is probably the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies television show, but he is perfectly willing and able to exercise his (really questionable) talents with any other song in the universe. He discovered early on in our marriage that it was nearly impossible for me to stay angry at him when he sang silliness at me.

Now that we’ve established that serious poetry is not my forte, I present you with my latest attempt at book spine poetry:

Welcome to A Drift of Quills, and today’s fun topic of “Book Spine Poetry.” This form of literature is pretty simple, and we’re excited about simple this month. Book spine poetry is a kind of “found” art. First, you need books. Start with one or two that spark your interest. As you stack them up, swap them around until they create a poem or a poetic “story.” The limitations encourage creativity, and we love creativity!

There is something Freudian involved here, I’m sure. It turns out that I used two of the same books that appeared in my last book spine poetry exercise. I assure you, it was unintentional. Please feel free to translate what you think this means; I’d be interested to know!

More Book Spine Poetry…

Welcome to A Drift of Quills, and today’s fun topic of “Book Spine Poetry.” This form of literature is pretty simple, and we’re excited about simple this month. Book spine poetry is a kind of “found” art. First, you need books. Start with one or two that spark your interest. As you stack them up, swap them around until they create a poem or a poetic “story.” The limitations encourage creativity, and we love creativity!PATRICIA REDING

Patricia RedingAuthor of the Oathtaker Series
Patricia’s website

These days, as I’m wrapping up my latest work, I’m realizing how much of what I write is intended for—is directed specifically at and to—young women. While I’m certainly old enough, I have no grandchildren of my own. I’m finding, however, that the grandmother in me is coming out anyway. She comes via my life as an author, and my granddaughters include… (Read more!)

P.S. BROADDUS

“P.S. Broaddus” width=Author of The Unseen Chronicles
Parker’s website

Poetry pushes us to the limit of our understanding – to the edge of ourselves. That’s why it can be so chaotic and disorienting, but it can also be where we learn something new. Something that we couldn’t have known before, had we not been challenged.

But the challenge of poetry is a soft one. A gentle breeze that carries us beyond, to a new place, and then brings us back, changed. Because when you learn something, you change. You become something new. The old has died…

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We’d love to have you join us in our poetry-making. Post your family-friendly photos below in the comments!

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

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Crow here, taking over for the sluggard otherwise known as Robin Lythgoe. She was going to post something about alleged “good things” out in the internet. (She’s explained what that is, but I keep picturing the Beisyth Web, and that thing was nasty. Ask the dragon it hit. Oh, wait, you can’t. It’s no longer breathing!)

3 More Crow Novels in the Works—and a Map!

Crow here, taking over for the sluggard otherwise known as Robin Lythgoe. She was going to post something about alleged “good things” out in the internet. (She’s explained what that is, but I keep picturing the Beisyth Web, and that thing was nasty. Ask the dragon it hit. Oh, wait, you can’t. It’s no longer breathing!)

Why? I asked, when you have me to talk about? Seriously, messy web thing, or a handsome, charming, professional transporter of valuable goods?

Anyone with any taste at all prefers the latter. So I sent her off to chase wild geese. Maybe she’ll bring one back for dinner.

Here’s the thing, but you’d better keep it to yourself, because if she finds out I told you, I could get stuffed in the closet with that other guy. The one in the first novel she ever wrote. Seriously—he’s in a box. Makes me shudder to think of what kind of magic she used to get him in there, because it is barely big enough for the fellow’s head.

Back to the thing… Continue reading 3 More Crow Novels in the Works—and a Map!