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!
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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?)→
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…!)
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
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!
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.
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?
It’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…
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.
“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!
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.
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!
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)
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!
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:
There is something Freudian involved here, I’m sure. It turns out that I used two of the same books that appeared in my lastbook 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!
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!)
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!
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.
It’s a good thing cover candy isn’t bad for my health, because I consume a lot of covers. With my eyes, that is! I look at covers of every genre, and I am always fascinated by the stories they tell. Do they match what’s inside?
If I pick up a book with spaceships on the cover, I want spaceships. If I see one with dragons, I want there to be dragons inside the book. Proper labeling. Ethical labeling. I don’t want to open up my cornflakes and find that they’re full of pebbles… You need to respect the reader enough not to call it something it isn’t. ~Margaret Atwood
What a chore to have to make sure the innards match the outers… (wink wink)
I’m taking part in the Reading Challenge on Goodreads again, toning my goal down a bit this year because there is a lot going on in my life, not the least of which are plans for publishing more books. In fact, I should be editing right now!
On with the show, then, and this time we’re looking at covers with fire on them. As usual, I can’t vouch for the contents of the books represented below. We’re only here for the eye candy!
Cover Candy: On Fire!
THE TINKER KING
~Tiffany Trent~ This is the original cover.
Kindle pages: 321
Publisher: Saga Press
Pub date: 11 Feb. 2014
Artist: (unknown) Amazon link
QUEEN OF FIRE
Kindle pages: 643
Pub date: 7 July 2015
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Artist: Cliff Nielsen Amazon link
WHERE LOYALTIES LIE
~Rob J. Hayes~
Kindle pages: 374
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Pub date: 26 May 2017
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Artist: Alex Raspad, Shawn King Amazon link
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Which cover is your favorite of the three? Share one of YOUR favorite covers! Do you have a favorite cover artist? Who is it and where can we find them?