Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Notes from the Revision Cave (III)

Trying to decide what to italicize and what not to italicize makes me kind of crazy.

That's all I've got today. There is a lot of family stuff going on (prayers and good vibes would be greatly appreciated, if you are the sort who does that for internet-people), and really, I just need to buckle down and make it through this final reread, so I'm afraid I am going to have to call a spade a spade and go ahead with hiatusing.


I will return to you, friends and followers, in September -- sometime around the 18th. In the meantime, I hope you are having a better time of it than I am!

And! I'd love to know how you decide to italicize things in your manuscripts, if you'd like to share. Right now I am trying to decide if I should be italicizing names of things like halls and trees and weapons which are kind of sort of foreign words. I think I'm leaning toward NOT.

Happy Labor Day, to those of you celebrating!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Notes from the Revision Cave (II)

My biggest problem as a writer? I don't speak French. Or Icelandic. Or Italian. Or Old Norse. Or Greek (ancient or modern). Or even Latin, for all I spent how many years taking it in college.

Why is it a problem? My characters are too often anything but American. Even when they speak English, sometimes they're British, which still means they need to sound like they're speaking The Queen's English, as opposed to American English. And when they're French (oh, you Frenchmen! Who thought that was a good idea?) they have to sound French, even though I'm writing their dialogue in English. And if I want them to use a little French along the way -- hoo boy. I always regret it. But! The point of this post, is to share a few resources. Kind of a "Here's what works for me" tutorial.*

1) Ask around. Everyone you know. Twitter is great for crowdsourcing, but you might have a friend who has a friend who speaks the language fluently, and why would you not want to take advantage of that? My Uncle  is completely fluent in Spanish and German (and I am pretty sure he speaks a few more languages than that too), and if I were ever blessed with a story idea that took place in EITHER of those countries,** you can bet that I'd be going to him first. But because my family is aware of my constant search for friends with fluency, my sister also helped me get in touch with one of her co-workers, whose family is from Iceland. He checks most of my Icelandic translations for me, because even after studying it off and on for however long now, I can pretty much only say a handful of things with any kind of confidence.*** I also have a most excellent friend from college (Say Hello, Sarah!) who is my Latin resource (and you would not believe the trouble Latin was giving me earlier. Ugh.)
My point is -- you never know who knows someone and if you spread the word that you're looking for someone who speaks x, you might find a lot of fruit!

2) For modern languages, this is, I think, the absolute best resource on the web: http://www.wordreference.com/ . I use it as my first translator for French (then run it by more fluent eyes, who hopefully catch my contextual errors). It has forums and gives context and shades of meaning and example sentences and thank you, Universe, for providing me with this tool!

3) Phrasebooks and Dictionaries. Guys. I am not kidding you. Pick up a phrasebook at the store, or a learn to speak x book, and go through the example conversations and MINE THEM for the phrases and expressions you need. That's my number one stop for Icelandic, because as you might imagine, it is kind of a rarer language. As for Dictionaries, I have one for Old Icelandic (Zoega's) and it ALSO has words used in a sentence as examples, but the downside for that one, is that I have to know what word I'm looking for before I can look it up -- it's all Old Icelandic to English, with no English to Icelandic half. Which is why I use This PDF, which allows me to search English first, in a limited capacity.

4) Whatever you do, don't rely on google translate. Ever. EVER. Just don't do it. I am begging you. The only time it is acceptable to use is if you need to find a word to look up in a better resource that doesn't have an English search function, and even then... Just. Absolute Last Resort, friends.

So that's what I got. Those of you who are not writers -- I hope I didn't bore you! Those of you who ARE writers. I refer you again to point number 4. Ease of use makes it a temptress, but you will only regret it later!

*Look, I'm revising! All my blog posts can't be awesome all the time!
**Come on, Brain. Why can't you ever make it easy on me?
***My love, Exactly, Hello and Good Night, I love you, Do You Understand? That's about it, really. Unless I need to shout at someone "You cannot sing here!" in which case, I think I have that covered too. Oh, sample dialogue. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Notes from the Revision Cave (I)

Assassinat de LouisdOrleans
what the heck, France?!
First: There's a lot of history in ALL my books (as you might imagine) and while I've gotten pretty cozy with Bronze Age Greece, there are plenty of periods that I could live without ever researching again. One of those is 15th Century France.* Guys, I got so confused researching the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War, I actually just gave up and moved part of my book out of Paris so I could avoid the worst of it! It's such a mess of politics and intrigue and I much prefer my history to have more poorly kept records of the facts, to be honest. It's a lot more fun to muck around in it when no one is really clear about what ACTUALLY happened, rather than history with meticulously kept records where what's going on just makes no sense.

Second: In Old Icelandic, there is a word JUST for holiday truces: helgarfriðr.
 This word won't be appearing in any of my manuscripts (to date) but I stumbled across it when I was double checking how one might introduce themselves to another person, and I thought it was kind of interesting that it existed! Old Icelandic is wonderfully descriptive that way. Like the word for being able to eat burning hot food**. I mean, the fact that it exists at all -- that as a trait, it was IMPORTANT enough to have a word for -- gives so much character and color to history and the people who lived then. You can't tell me that it isn't totally awesome! Now I just need to find the word for "being able to strain poison out of his beverages via his most manly mustache" and we will be all set.

(Can we all sing the Gaston song, now? I feel like this is a good excuse for it. How about in ICELANDIC, just to keep to the theme?)

*And 14th-17th Century Europe in General. The Early Modern Period really isn't worth the trouble. Though, I did take a class on it in college, and I seem to remember actually enjoying it, then. I could not tell you why, now. Blech.

**pretty sure this word is heitfengr but don't quote me. Also, can you just imagine the conversation between these guys? "I'm so manly I can eat my food BURNING HOT!" "Oh yeah? Well I'm so manly I can I can eat my food while its still KICKING!" And the holiday truce thing -- "hang tight, let's just call a helgarfiðr for Christmas/Solstice, and we'll meet back up here in January!" "Right on. Everyone, remember where you're standing!"

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Best First Kiss Ever

From Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold:

"Wait." He paused, and she held out a hand to him. His thick fingers engulfed her tapering ones; his skin was warm and dry, and scorched her. "Before we go pick up poor Lieutenant Illyan again..."

He took her in his arms, and they kissed, for the first time, for a long time.

"Oh," she muttered after. "Perhaps that was a mistake. It hurts so much when you stop."

"Well, let me..." his hand stroked her hair, gently, then desperately wrapped itself in a shimmering coil; they kissed again.
If there was ever a passage in a book which proved that writing sparely takes NOTHING away from the emotional impact of a scene, maybe even makes it even more evident, in fact, this is it. And the dialogue! It is such a perfect -- it's more descriptive and affecting than any inclusion of tongues and movement of lips.

My heart seizes and breaks every time I read it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In case you didn't hear the news...


I'm going to be PUBLISHED in 2013, by World Weaver Press!

As soon as there is more information to be shared, I'll be sharing it! But for now, it's officially official, and I have an authorpage on WWP's website and everything! Also, I may have to dive deep into the revision cave the second half of the month, in which case there might be some more hiatusing happening -- but I hope you'll forgive me! 

Thanks so much to everyone who has stuck by me while I made this journey! I couldn't have done it without you!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Antiope and the Amazons

This summer, I wrote a novella about Pirithous and Hippodamia, and because Pirithous and Theseus are the best of friends, it's only natural that an Amazon bride of Theseus would make an appearance. I've gone with Antiope, for continuity with everything else I've written involving Theseus* and have been doing my research accordingly. Mostly I'm looking for physical descriptions (in particular some reference to hair color but alas I have found none!), more than character description** and so I've been looking at a lot of imagery, some of which I thought I'd share with you all!

Amazonomachy Met 44.11.12Firstly, an ancient depiction, because I think it's very interesting, and quite striking -- especially the way her legs seem to be painted or tattooed. The imagery of the tattoos would definitely be a great way to set the amazons apart from other, more passive women in this kind of artwork -- the ones who get kidnapped and carried off, like Persephone or Helen, for example, would obviously be tattoo free. But it's also  a pretty neat idea, if you consider what purpose a tattoo might have served within the culture of the Amazons. Was it a mark of womanhood? A new tattoo for each man killed in battle? Part of a ritual dedication to the gods? Or maybe just warpaint to scare the poor dudes who made the mistake of earning their ire.

This particular image shows our Amazon in a shorter chiton type dress a la Artemis, with a pretty sweet and deadly battle-axe, though her pose is pretty awkward. I love that the Amazon women get to wear clothes even when the men are presented nude. I'm sure that the nudity of the men is some kind of symbol of their bravery in comparison, but really, it's just awfully silly to go running into battle naked except for a shield and a helmet. At least this guy is wearing some kind of boot, which, now that I think on it, it's kind of silly that this amazon woman is NOT wearing any kind of foot protection. Maybe because she's so awesome she doesn't need it -- I bet she has soles like leather!

Skirted or not, sadly our Amazon warrior on this Attic vase is lacking armor and a shield, but as far as I'm concerned, she's still ahead of Mr. Pantsless Hero. His sword could, after all, get tangled in her skirt or cloak or something.

Amazon preparing for the battle (Queen Antiope or Armed Venus) - Pierre-Eugene-Emile Hebert 1860 - NG of Arts Wash DC rotated and croppedThe next depiction that's caught my eye is a bronze from much, much, much later (wiki tells me 1860s). But it is so beautiful I can't stop looking at it (and fittingly enough, that looks like some kind of Centaur brawl in the background statuary). I love her helmet with its crest and the (probably grossly inaccurate) hinged sideguards flipped up while she works, and the fall of her hair down her back, with the one piece over her shoulder, and even the effortless grace of the pose as she checks her bow. She's beautiful and capable and strong -- I mean, look at those calves! And the definite muscle definition of her arms -- but still undeniably feminine. I only wish the image were more in focus -- or that I could take the statue home with me. Or see it in person.  In fact, my next trip to DC might involve a visit to whatever museum is currently in possession of this piece.

For those of you interested, I did find this much more in-focus shot on flickr. And from a different angle. AND! A bonus close up of that centaur in the background, which is, quite fittingly, the abduction of Hippodamia. Guys, bronzes from the 19th century might be my next favorite after Greek and Roman marbles.***

*and because it is much less confusing for readers to have Theseus' wife be named Antiope when he has a son named Hippolytus, to say nothing of the confusion involved with a Hippolyta and a Hippodamia in the same room. It is just not ideal.

**But trying to balance an Amazon's disdain for men against her (for my purposes) love of Theseus is definitely a tricky business. 

***Remember Theseus slaying the Centaur?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


I'm back! For the moment, anyway. And I return with Glad(ish) Tidings! Which, honestly, after the last two months, I was not expecting to have any kind of awesome news for you -- and going into this hiatus, I wasn't expecting half of the not-so-awesome I ran into. So! Join me in a huge sigh of relief and relaxation, before we continue to the tidings portion of our blogpost!



1) Gladder tidings are forthcoming! Just hang tight.

2) As you might have surmised by the title of this blogpost, I can now be found on GOODREADS!

3) AS AN AUTHOR. (Thank you Daily Science Fiction collection of short stories!) Fan and Friend me!! I'd love to see what you're reading.

4) My return may not last as long as we all might like -- August is filling up fast with events which look as though they will be taking me away from the interwebs, and part of September is definitely going to be a loss. But I think (hope) you will forgive me, when I have opportunity to explain myself in a later post!

And that is a wrap for today! What have you got for me, Friends and Followers? Any news? Let me know what I've missed in the blogosphere!