Archive for the ‘#writingcommunity’ Tag

The Rearview   8 comments

What’s something you look forward to as you age? And what do you miss from your youth?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”b989fd5df3894427945cf0c3383a74ea” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/b989fd5df3894427945cf0c3383a74ea” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”b989fd5df3894427945cf0c3383a74ea”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/b989fd5df3894427945cf0c3383a74ea

The Road Less Traveled – A Lesson on What Makes a Difference | joanneeddy's  blog
Alaska Ski Trails – Lela Markham

Youth is Wasted on the Young

No truer words have ever been written. When we’re young, we don’t appreciate our youth. We don’t know what we’re missing. Aching knees, sore backs, Achilles tendons that scream out far too soon on hikes. I love to see new sights in the amazing wilderness of Alaska — not to mention other places I’ve visited. But all too often, I complained. Alaska has a lot of mountains and what isn’t mountain is almost always swamp. Lots of reasons to complain. I’m short of breath, I’m hot, the mosquitos are sucking my blood, my boots are full of mud, I want a shower. I wanted the wilderness to be easier. I could have enjoyed it more and now in my 60th year, I think “Wow, you should have enjoyed it more when it was easier.”

You will never be younger than you are today. I wish I’d embraced every possible opportunity that is presented to me. We fail to realize the importance of so many universal truths until later in life. These lessons and truths would’ve come in handy if only I realized sooner.

DON’T MISS A THING

I don’t miss anything from being young. I know, that sounds contradictory from what I just said above. I still hike. I carry less weight and I plan more stops. I think maybe I enjoy hiking more. I am not as set on seeing the other side of the ridge. What’s right in front of my nose is more important now.

There are things I wish I’d done when I was younger. A lot of adventures got tabled until we could afford them, or had more time, or after the kids got big enough to carry their own weight. I would go back and do those then because I’m not sure they’re going to get done now. But that’s not really a regret.

One of my favorite poet is Robert Frost and I look at the words of his poem “Two Roads” and think — “Yes, you really can’t take both paths.” I took the way I chose and I’m mostly happy with it and it did indeed make all the difference that I took the one mostly ignored by other people.

Those Happy Golden Years

Well, silver, in my case. My natural hair being dark, my grays are silver rather than iron or gold.

What am I looking forward to? Maybe grandchildren, if my children choose to have kids. Maybe some long road trips when I have more time to savor the journeys. More of my life, just maybe a little slower. My husband is building a cabin out on our land and so there may be some peaceful times just listening to the fire crackle in the woodstove while I write with pen and paper. It’s been so long since the world was truly quiet. I wonder if it will change my writing at all.

Really, I think older age is just a continuation of younger age, just with more aches and pains to remind us to slow down and smell the roses because we won’t be this way again.

Posted August 2, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , ,

What Happened to the Air?   11 comments

Write a scene or story that includes a character who has a phobia. What do they fear? How does this phobia affect their life?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”559b943cb279451fa8849dfbf412e728″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/559b943cb279451fa8849dfbf412e728” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”559b943cb279451fa8849dfbf412e728″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/559b943cb279451fa8849dfbf412e728

Writing on the Fly

Claustrophobia: Everything you need to know about the fear of confined  spaces | The Times of India

I grabbed the wrong blog topic this week, so this submitted late. I don’t have access to my books because I’m doing this off-the-cuff. So I’m non-compliant with the blog hop topic to write a scene. But I will discuss phobias in my writing.

Everybody has insecurities and in today’s environment, maybe they should. There are some truly pernicious trends in how we treat one another that make it a dicey proposition to even step outside our doors. And the internet — boy, howdy, do we treat each other in ways that are unacceptable. So, I don’t know if I would call it a phobia, but some of my characters have social anxiety. They fear being judged and bullied by people around them who have been empowered to judge and bully others in the name of several of those trends — social justice, what passes for politeness today, fear of stating an opinion that isn’t the current orthodoxy, or just living an ordinary life and being judged by others who think that life is less-than. In the case of Declan in Words I Wish I’d Said, he’s spent so much of his life trying to please people who would not be pleased that he’s spent nearly a decade mostly isolated from people in general. Coming out of his shell to love Autumn is a huge risk for him given his past.

Currently, in the What If Wasn’t series, Peter’s mainly just faced teenage angst (a consequence of our easily offended society) and a growing drinking problem, but given how Dumpster Fire ends, he’s bound to have scars going forward, but I can’t talk about those right now because the book hasn’t been published.

In my books, there’s really only one character who has a legitimate phobia and that’s Shane Delaney. It’s not really a phobia, as in an irrational fear. Claustrophobia has its roots in physiology rather than psychology. Shane is one of a minority of people who is sensitive to carbon dioxide and as a little kid, forced to hang out in a storm shelter with his Kansas family, he had a bad reaction. He’s never forgotten that, so whenever he is in a situation where the carbon dioxide level is higher than normal, he comes close to panicking. He can control it, as he did in Objects in View, where he actually lit a match to assure himself the oxygen levels were within normal range, so he could at least tell himself to calm down. Meanwhile, across town, a storm shelter’s air handling system failed and killed a hundred people. Shane’s reaction is a phobia at the levels he experiences it, but there’s a rational basis for the fear. Carbon dioxide suffocation is a real thing.

In Gathering In, I describe the symptoms as Shane follows his father through an old bootlegger’s tunnel and at the far end, he is so overwrought Rob has to tackle him and hold him to the ground. The symptoms are what I experience as someone who is sensitive to carbon dioxide – tight chest, face feels covered in dirt, sweating, numb hands, walls closing in. It makes it hard to think and above all, Shane wants it to be over as quickly as possible. Being the bold guy he is, he normally just runs through that which scares him, but he still feels the effects. You can absolutely know all the scientific reasons for why your body is reacting the way that it is, but your body and your mind interact and in the case of a physiologically-based “phobia”, your body demands to be in charge. Because it is rooted in physiology, Shane’s never going to get over being claustrophobic, but he will continue to do what he has to do even when he hates doing it and, like me, he may eventually learn to live with it.

Looking for Voices   15 comments

Are audiobooks the future of book sales? Do you have your stories on audio?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4

Predictions

Someone hailed me a prophetess in a book review recently because I had riots and a deadly flu years before they showed up in reality, but I think I just got lucky and have no special ability to see the future. So, I hesitate to say something WILL happen. I can look at trends and make surmises, but predictions need a bit more accuracy than that.

Audiobooks are certainly a growing proportion of the book sales market and I feel safe in saying they aren’t going the way of the dodo anytime soon. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re “the future of book sales”. There are a lot of visually-oriented people who will still prefer to read books rather than listen to them. Personally, my mind wanders when listening to an audiobook while print books can hold my attention for hours. Remember when the forecasters insisted physical books were an endangered species? Well, they’re still more popular than ebooks, so….. Audiobooks are certainly growing in popularity and I think they’ll be part of the future market mix, but I don’t think they’ll replace or even overwhelm print sales. Variety is the spice of life and literary enjoyment.

My Books?

My books are not on audio for a couple of reasons.

The first is that I don’t like my voice. I don’t like to see myself on camera and I don’t like to hear myself on recording. I hear all my flaws and I don’t like it.

So I’m looking for audio talent, but I can’t afford to pay anyone (it makes no sense to spend money you will never recoup) and nobody ever responds to the royalty-share offers. My husband says he’ll do it (and he has a lovely voice), but it’s not as simple as he is willing. Audiobook production requires a quiet space, no background noise, no hard drive whir, etc., and he’s come to the conclusion that he might need to build a sound room to get the production values Audible requires in a house that requires a heating unit to come on about every half hour in the winter and the windows to be open in the summer.

But once I overcome those challenges, I definitely plan to produce audiobooks. I’ve had requests, but…yeah, it’s not as simple as “Good idea, let’s do it.”

Hiding in Plain Sight   4 comments

If your character wanted to wear a disguise, how would they dress?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b

How the CIA Trains Spies to Hide in Plain Sight | WIRED

Which Character?

It would be very different depending on my characters, right? Shane (in Transformation Project) would choose differently than his brother Cai or his friend Jazz. Padraig (in Daermad Cycle) would choose differently than Tamys and Gregyn lives his entire life as a ruse. Peter (in What If Wasn’t) would probably love to be someone else right about now, but who would he choose to be?

So Many Choices

Shane Delaney aka Eric Faraday

Shane and Javier from Transformation Project each spent about a half-decade pretending to be someone they’re not. They were government contractors. Shane infiltrated a militia and then later was a double agent in B&W’s Knight Industries. He didn’t really need to alter his appearance, though he did alter his identity. Now that he’s done with that, he occasionally eludes to going “off the map” during his mercenary career.

“I drove a truck into Shalimar Province wearing a kaffiyeh and dark contacts.”

The Delaney’s Indian ancestry runs strongly in Shane. His hair is dark and curly (like the Metis of my tribe’s history). He tans a deep brown. His eyes are dark green, but colored contacts takes care of that. He’s not as dark as some Middle Easterners, but he fit in well enough so long as he kept his mouth shut because though he learned to speak some of the local language, he was by no means fluent.

Having done it before, I would think that would be his disguise of choice now.

When he and Mike Sanchez were in Santa Fe, Shane hid behind dark glasses, his tan and speaking Chicano Spanish. In the Transformation Project universe, Santa Fe has become a separate country where speaking Spanish is the best way to stay alive.

Javier Chavez aka Bobby Noreen aka Martin Pulgarin

Javier Chavez infiltrated the Naharis Network, an affiliation of Islamist terrorists that seem to have been involved in the massive nuclear attacks that started the series. Javier was born in Columbia, but raised in foster care in the United States. As Bobby Noreen, he claimed to be a part-black, part-Hispanic felon who converted to Islam while in prison. He grew his dark hair long and curly and learned Ebonics and Arabic.

When he fled his government agency duties, he shaved his head to make it harder to identify him. The character of Martin was a sheet rocker from White Plains, New York. Javier has let his chrome dome grow out a little since coming to Emmaus, but he still isn’t sure which is the real him.

Grant Rigby

The King of Disguises among my characters is Grant Rigby, long-time employee of the Central Security Agency. Shane never expected to see him in the same guise twice. As Shane’s handler, Grant didn’t want anyone to trace the guy talking to Shane in the coffee shop back to his family and so he excelled at hiding behind disguises. He visits Shane in his house once and looks like a redneck mechanic — plaid flannel shirt, gimme hat, grease on his hands. When he meets Shane in a coffee shop, he’s dressed like a businessman. Shane remembers meeting him once in Miristan and Grant looked so much like a local (in thawb and ghutra), Shane almost shot him. In his real life, Grant is ordinary – light-brown hair, blue eyes, medium-height, medium-weight — exactly the kind of guy nobody notices because he looks like everyone else, a perfect canvas to be someone else, anyone else.

Hiding in Plain Sight

With the exception of Grant, none of my characters is a thespian. They don’t know how to create fake noses or the other makeup techniques to change their appearance, but they have successfully pretended to be other people in the pursuit of information.

I don’t know how Grant would dress. I think he doesn’t know until he is faced with the need to infiltrate somewhere. Shane prefers not to change his appearance too much because he isn’t uncomfortable in his own skin as a rule. He struggles with his past actions, not with how he looks. He can fake being Middle Eastern or Hispanic and since he is white, he can choose a Caucasian role. That covers a lot of the world. Javi, however, grew up in a situation where being himself wasn’t always a good thing and so I think he’d enjoy being someone else entirely. His choices are limited because he’s so dark, but then again – Jessica Alba managed to believably play a blonde in the Fantastic Four. But what would Javi choose? He hasn’t told me. If he ever needs to disguise himself again, I’m sure he’ll let me know how to dress him.

Plain Vanilla   14 comments

Do you use said or asked after a ? or tag your interruptions? Any punctuation that bugs you? What’s the hardest for you to get right?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”cf69e5a9da434bb382680e2f68fb50c0″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/cf69e5a9da434bb382680e2f68fb50c0” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”cf69e5a9da434bb382680e2f68fb50c0″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/cf69e5a9da434bb382680e2f68fb50c0

Keeping It Brief

I trained and worked as a newspaper reporter, where “Keeping It Brief” is an overarching motto. Hence, I trained in newspaper writing, which is very different from English writing. So, the world is filled with punctuation and grammatical “necessities” that fly in the face of my training.

Examples?

The Oxford comma is a waste of ink — except in the very rare instance where it defines an important shade of difference. People overused it in the past and now it’s mandatory ink wastage. I notice my local newspaper still doesn’t use it. Good for them! I got tired of my editor yelling at me about it, so I use it now, but I still think it’s a waste of ink.

“That” following a reporting verb is also unnecessary except in rare instances. It’s always wrong when you write “said that”, but it’s also almost always wrong when “that” follows a verb. Essentially, if the “that” can be eliminated and the sentence still make sense, it needs to be deleted. It’s an unnecessary word that became so overused we think it’s necessary. I blame English teachers who were Education majors rather than English majors, but it’s also because we hear and read non-teachers use it all the time, so we assume it’s correct. The only time when “that” is absolutely necessary is when a reporting verb precedes a prepositional phrase. Example – “We complained to the committee that they had not kept us informed.” But even in that example — you don’t need it in dialogue and it creates an interesting way for some (not all) characters to speak. I use it for Trevor in “What If Wasn’t” series because his father’s a journalist and Trevor is a breezy talker. It makes his dialogue more distinctive.

Essentially, the use (or non-use) of “that” is probably the writing item I mull the most. Most people don’t care. I skip over it blithely when I’m reading other people’s books, but when I am editing my books, my training lurks in the back of my head reminding me this is almost entirely an unnecessary word.

I don’t necessarily struggle with my decision to eliminate the word when it isn’t necessary, but I do consider whether it is necessary on rare occasion. My husband gets to decide sometimes. “Does this sentence make sense?” and I read it aloud to him. If he says “yes”, I don’t add the “that”. If he hesitates, I reread it with the “that” and he gets to contribute to my writing. But over the years, he’s learned to listen critically and now occasionally says “It’ll work either way.” The “that” doesn’t survive uncertainty.

Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags are those phrases following quotes telling us who is speaking. Dialogue tags frequently slow down the narrative. Sometimes they’re absolutely necessary. You’ve got three or more characters talking and readers would struggle to track the conversation without the dialogue tags. Most of the time, they’re unnecessary or can be substituted with an action sentence.

“Look at that beautiful sunrise,” Justine said.

Justine is one of four characters in a scene in the serialized novel I’m writing for Kindle Vella. Readers definitely want to know who is speaking, but is the tag necessary? No, not in this example. The line actually reads —

“Look at that beautiful sunrise!” Justine pointed toward the watercolor painting lightening the periwinkle sky.

Way more immersive description than “Justine said.” It’s more words, but I’m writing novels not newspaper articles, so word count is not as important as drawing the reader into the narrative. The description puts the reader right in the scene. The dialogue tag is eliminated as well, which is a bonus.

Related?

Beta readers and editors alike sometimes insist “said” is the only acceptable reporting verb in a dialogue tag. I disagree. Yes, it’s unobtrusive, but it’s also boring and overused. It adds nothing to the description. You wouldn’t use it, except you need a dialogue tag and “said” is an easy choice. Drawing from my journalism background (where we were writing under strict word limitations and deadlines), I don’t use “said” often. My Newswriting professors used to use my reporting verbs as examples for the class. My 101 professor was a former New York Post reporter who previously taught at Columbia University’s School of Journalism and my 401 professor was a former reporter and editor for the New Orleans Picayune. They HATED when students used “said” because they believed it was the Apache White of reporting verbs. “You only have 350 words to engage the reader. Don’t throw one away on a plain vanilla word.”

I have the same view of the word “asked”. If it is necessary to tag a question in dialogue, my tag is congruent with the use of a question. It probably won’t be “asked” because it falls into Apache White territory. “Inquired”, “queried”, “requested”. Despite all the sage advice of writing gurus today, I consider “said” and “asked” to be lazy writing if I am the one using it.

Better?

“Look at that beautiful sunrise,” Justine gasped.

The alternative reporting verb “gasped” tells readers who is speak, but it also tells them something about how Justine spoke without putting an adverb in the mix.

“Look at that beautiful sunrise,” Justine said excitedly.

Abverbs are frowned on as unnecessary these days — although I think they’re a condiment that makes all the difference in compelling writing. While I’m glad we moved away from the “purple prose” era of writing, I think we might overcorrect in chasing down bugaboos. Still, I think “gasped” is a better substitute than “said excitedly”. The first is “show”, the second is “tell.” Enough said.

It’s okay to experiment with language as we write, to search for what will work best for our writing, to find techniques to hold ours apart from the writing of other authors. Variety is the spice of life. It’s also the condiment of novel-writing.

Announcing Serialized Novel

Watch for Words I Wish I’d Said sometime this summer. It’s a romance set in Hawaii, and the couple has enough problems to keep readers guessing between weekly episodes for at least half-a-year. I previously struggled to write romance, but somehow the serialized method broke my writer’s block in that genre. I might tackle mystery in that method next.

I’ve already posted some of the series episodes and written a good bit of future episodes and am now waiting on Kindle’s unannounced launch date for their new program, supposedly around the end of July.

Posted June 28, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , , ,

A Chance to Read Early Editions!   11 comments

June 21, 2021If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”da7ba37310894115909817e921c843f1″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/da7ba37310894115909817e921c843f1” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”da7ba37310894115909817e921c843f1”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/da7ba37310894115909817e921c843f1

So Many to Choose From

Just one? I can think of a couple. I’m not sure I can choose from among them. And then there are the ones I definitely would NOT choose. Great writers with a history of getting stalled would not be on my list. JD Salinger was a great writer, but he hardly published after Catcher in the Rye because, the biographers say, he kept chasing the next Great American novel so he couldn’t get out of the blocks. The last thing any author needs, especially with multiple series in the wings, is a beta partner who can’t finish a project. I feel the same way about Harper Lee. GREAT writer who only published a couple of books in her career. You want beta partners to be thorough, but not excessively indecisive and in today’s publishing world, one-hit-wonders tend to get lost in the deluge of writers who are constantly cranking out new content.

But Who Would I Choose?

I can tell you who would be on my short list. They’re the writers I loved in my younger days. Madelaine L’Engle would be on that list just because of my love of her books, especially the descriptions. Everyone is familiar with A Wrinkle in Time, but my favorite is The Young Unicorns. I’d put Ray Bradbury on that list because I liked his view of plot as just a setting the character design to their own benefit. That’s really how I write, discovering the plot as my characters live their lives. I’d also put Zenna Henderson down among my considerations because I think that as a teacher, she could impart her valuable insights to me. Hardly anyone remembers her now, but she was my introduction into sci fi and fantasy. CS Lewis might fill a similar beta partner need for me — the ability to explain his guidance in a clear way.

Who Is Number One On My List?

Currently, my favorite fiction writer is Brandon Sanderson and as I consider the field of available talent to beta for me (and assuming that means a swap on their books as well), I’d have to choose Sanderson. I don’t like every book he writes, but his Stormlight Archives has me hooked. I’d love the opportunity to give him early suggestions and would appreciate his suggestions about my books as well.

Okay, enough said. Wonder who my fellow blog-hoppers would choose. I’m headed off to enjoy the midnight sun. Ta-ta for now.

Posted June 21, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , ,

Dumping the Apple Cart   8 comments

May 31, 2021 Plot twists…do you have a favorite you can talk about (yours or someone else’s?)

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”0dba61a11c0746bdbae6fa1bf6dc15ec” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/0dba61a11c0746bdbae6fa1bf6dc15ec” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20href=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>Wordpress shortcode[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”0dba61a11c0746bdbae6fa1bf6dc15ec”] Unique url for your link partyhttps://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/0dba61a11c0746bdbae6fa1bf6dc15ec

plot_twist_ideas_and_prompts_for_writers_robert_lee_brewer

I’m an apocalyptic writer who ends most books of my series with a cliffhanging potential plot twist. I tease a change of direction, a narrative pivot, or some information revealed. Plot twists, like life’s course changes, make life more entertaining.

You usually see plot twists — a surprise change of direction or reset of reality — in books (or movies). It mimics life. Very few of us go through our lives from Point A to Point Z without a hitch. We start out planning our lives when we were six and then about age 8 we realized that nobody actually becomes a Fairy Princess, but occasionally we start out as an actress and then we meet the Prince of Monaco and we do actually become a Princess — and discover that life isn’t easy even in that station of society.

Plot twists!

Favorites

My very first “plot twist” was in the second book I ever read for myself- My Friend Flicka. The character thinks his beloved filly is dead and he goes through a long illness where he mourns her. But in the end, his father takes him for a drive and he learns Flicka is alive and thriving.

Plot twists are the backbone of mystery stories. We all have one we love. Mine is the ending of Murder on the Orient Express. I first read the book I was perhaps 14 and I really didn’t see it coming. Those are my favorite plot twists — the ones I don’t see coming. I usually do. My husband insists I keep it to myself when I solve the mystery in a movie. Several years ago (when VCRs were new) we used to regularly watch movies with friends and my ability to figure it out early fascinated one of them so much that he required I write my theories down when they came to me. We’d reveal it when the movie was over. I’d usually figured it out halfway through. My husband finds that fascinating, so we still continue the practice. The good news is figuring it out early doesn’t ruin the enjoyment of the story for me. It’s part of the fun for me.

Which is not to say I don’t enjoy movies and books that keep me guessing. It just doesn’t happen very often. The 1985 movie Jagged Edge kept me guessing until the last five minutes of the story. I didn’t figure out The Sixth Sense until about three-quarters of the way through (the last time he interacts with his wife). When George RR Martin killed Eddard Stark — the up-to-that-point presumed main character of The Song of Ice and Fire — at the end of Game of Thrones, I was shocked and became a fan because I didn’t expect that to happen.

What About My Own?

Let’s start with my first one. In writing my debut novel The Willow Branch, I set Prince Maryn up as the principle character of the first chapter — and then I killed him. It wasn’t actually a deliberate choice. I started writing Prince Maryn as the main character of that timeline. Such a likeable, honorable character. I thoroughly enjoyed writing that scene. He just didn’t work after that first scene. Every time I’d sit down to write him, it was a battle. He wasn’t telling me his story (which is how I write). I struggled and plotted a few scenes. I’m a discovery writer. I don’t plot, though I often have an idea of where the story is going. I finally gave it up. His friend Deryk expressed a lot of grief in telling his story and I finally accepted that Prince Maryn died at the end of the first scene and that the past timeline of Daermad Cycle would focus on an ensemble cast not singular characters. And, then the story started to unfold and I was able to write it. I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t get too attached to any one character or plot line. Literature, like life, happens in the alleyways.

Of course, my apocalyptic series is full of plot twists. Some are necessary – Shane was going to rest in Emmaus for a while and then go back to being a mercenary — probably — but the world as he knew it ended, so now he’s living an exciting life in the small town that bored the snot of him as a kid. But then I throw in simple quirks in the road. He trips at the end of Life As We Knew It and that puts him in a safer place than City Hall two days later. My son just finished reading A Death in Jericho (Book 7 of the series) and we had a lovely discussion of how the plot twist of Shane injuring himself in Winter’s Reckoning (Book 6) allowed a plot twist of making Cai the main character in the next book which put him in the center of the deadly situation at the end of A Death in Jericho. That was not a plot twist for me. I knew Cai would face what he does at some point back when I was writing Objects in View (Book 2). I held it until the right time. Poor Cai. I’m so mean to him and he so doesn’t deserve it. Unlike his brother, who has some significant blood on his hands, Cai is a legitimately nice, though sometimes flawed, guy who doesn’t deserve to live through the apocalypse. Ooops — might that be a hint given my penchant for killing characters? Maybe. Both Rob and Jacob were younger sons who ended up carrying on the Delaney family legacy because of the deaths of their older brothers. Point is — I’m not telling.

But what about Mike? Kiernan figured Mike was dead of the flu in Santa Fe back during Gathering In and he never expected him to show up for his baby’s birth. Shane sees things that aren’t there because of the PTSD, so is Mike real or a figment of Shane’s exhausted imagination? Well, you’ll have to wait for “Worm Moon” to find out.

That’s what I like about plot twists. They keep you guessing — just like real life.

In a less speculative setting, I’ve done the same thing to Peter in What If Wasn’t series. I set him up as having a great life with some complications but he’s got friends and a tight relationship with his sister and at the end of Red Kryptonite Curve, he’s facing some tough times alone. Because it’s a YA, I ended that book on a hopeful note, but in Dumpster Fire, since it’s a New Adult, I ended it with his sister dying in his arms, which is a major plot twist. There will be a third book (Pocketful of Rocks) and I’m not telling the future.

Variety and Change are Spicy

Plot twists are the spice of writing. They throw things into a turmoil and make the reader reevaluate where the plot is headed — or sometimes who a familiar character might actually be. I like them in my apocalyptic because in that genre nothing is certain, but they have their place in almost any genre. Consider a romance and what we think we know about each other in a couple relationship. What if we find out our partner isn’t completely who he says he is? Tension drives narrative and viola — you’ve introduced conflict and something to overcome. Although I’ve met a few readers who don’t like surprises, most of the time, plot twists will keep them reading — so long as they’re not done capriciously. They should always be done thoughtfully. It’s okay to dump the apple cart, but as writers, we’re obligated to assure there are apples in the cart before we do it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Posted May 31, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , ,

We Didn’t Consent, We Won’t Comply   13 comments

What historical/public figure would you most like to learn more about? Would you ever write about them?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”06c60832f2634d28bf6e0663ef116b95″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/06c60832f2634d28bf6e0663ef116b95” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>Wordpress shortcode[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”06c60832f2634d28bf6e0663ef116b95″]Unique URLhttps://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/06c60832f2634d28bf6e0663ef116b95

Hard One

Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God, Benjamin Franklin

History is replete with figures I’d love to know better. They lived interesting lives. They made pivotal decisions, They wrote thought-provoking philosophy. Or they just lived lives that mattered more than other people’s. My modern life would be enriched by getting to know them.

So it wasn’t hard for me to come up with a historical figure I’d like to learn more about. The problem is winnowing the list down to one.

Modern Public Figures

I can’t think of any modern public official I’d like to meet. I’m just not interested in learning about petty tyrants. Well, maybe a group gathering of the Freedom Caucus, but I’d want to remove their filters and find out what they REALLY think of the ongoing insanity of Congress these days. I have no real use for politicians in today’s world. They act like they’re relevant, but they’re helping to enslave us all ($28 trillion in debt) and so I’m not sure getting to know them any better would enrich my life. (I have already met all three members of the Alaska Congressional Delegation. Lisa Murkowski is useless — my daughter was 11 when she asked her a question about education and she flubbed the answer so badly even an 11-year-old could counter her argument and make her look stupid. Dan Sullivan is from Ohio. His wife is from Alaska. That’s not a qualification for representing Alaska, although he does a lovely job of representing Ohio. Don Young is still a wonderful curmudgeonly Alaskan character and I love that he’s decided to spend his last few years remaining to him stirring up trouble — calling Nancy Pelosi out as a divider who wouldn’t recognize unity if it ate her expensive ice cream and introducing bills decriminalizing cannibas nationwide is something only an Alaskan politician in their 80s can get away with. I’ll be sorry to see him go, but it’s important to get someone in there who will represent Alaska before we have the wrong governor in office when Don dies).

Well, maybe, if I had to choose someone in the politician category, I’d like to meet Tulsi Gabbard and sit down for a lengthy conversation. I’d want to invite along some friends who know Austrian economics better than I do to help enlighten her on economic realities. I feel like she’s one of the few politicians who is still malleable enough to listen to people and represent them rather than herself and whoever pays for her campaign. And I think that’s going to be of vital importance as we approach a coming (and I believe, unfortunately inevitable), national crisis caused by federal government overspending. Whether we survive as a nation or not will depend on the necessary understanding of economics not just of would-be leaders, but ordinary Americans.

I’m not interested in meeting celebrities either. Yeah, you acted the snot out of that role, but being an expert musician/actor/comic doesn’t mean you know zip about anything else, so why would I want to sit down with any of these vapid attention whores? The other day, I did feel like I’d like to sit down with Prince Harry and explain to him why he’s an idiot and utterly “bonkers” and should probably not speak in public again, at least until he goes back to live in England, where perhaps people appreciate royal stupidity more (and, no, I’m not saying Britishers are stupid, but that they seem to understand and appreciate the venality of their royals more than Americans). And, while I would relish that conversation with Harry, I’m not convinced he’d grow any brighter by the encounter because I seriously doubt he’s smart enough to learn from thinking humans. Like many generationally-wealthy people, he hasn’t needed to use his brain and I’m afraid you just can’t make that up after about age 18.

Of course, not all modern public figures are politicians. Some are former politicians, others have the good sense to do something worthwhile. I can imagine sitting down with Thomas Sowell and having a conversation about economics and history and how they impact current culture. I’m sorry I missed meeting Walter E. Williams who passed away a few months ago. Jordan Peterson and/or Brett Weinstein would be a worthy evening’s time. I think I’d walk away smarter by the encounters.

It’s really sad that out of 7 billion people, I can’t think of but a handful of modern public figures I really want to know better. We live in an age of banality and, while there are a few bright people who break out from the otherwise mediocre crowd, I fear for a society that have so few thinking individuals. We have a lot of opinion-influencers and so few thinkers and I’m convinced that we are the poorer as a society for having nonthinkers influencing public opinion.

Historical Figures Galore

Well, the obvious answer would be Jesus, but since He lives in my heart, I think I already have the capacity to know Him better than I know anyone other than myself…if I would just take the opportunities offered to me, which I so often don’t.

I admit, I’d love to sit down with Paul of Tarsus because he wrote so much of the Bible and I suspect it would be a brilliant conversation. I feel the same about Thomas Jefferson. The fact is if I spent only a day getting to know each historical figure I’d like to get to know better, I wouldn’t have enough time to finish my list–assuming I’m two-thirds to three-quarters through my natural lifespan.

Narrowing It Down

So for the purposes of this article, I decided to choose one. So hard!

You have been pleased to send unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be, by some, seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them…We desire therefore in this case not to judge lest we be judged, neither to condemn lest we be condemned, but rather let every man stand or fall to his own Master. We are bound by the law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith.

As the town clerk of what is now the Queens neighborhood of Flushing, New York, Edward Hart wrote a powerful 650-word document known as the Flushing Remonstrance. December 27, 1657. Hart wrote on behalf of the 30 inhabitants of the village who also boldly signed their names below his, in a defiant shot across the bow of the state, personified by Governor Stuyvesant. The act of resistance became an early declaration in favor of the freedom of peaceful worship, supporting a defense of freedom of others — none of the Flushing residents were Quakers so they could have ignored the oppression altogether, but they chose to involve themselves because the governor of their colony was a hamflower deserving of remonstrance.

Governor Stuyvesant promulgated a policy of intolerance in the Dutch settlements of New York, persecuting those who did not adhere to the Dutch Reformed Church, primarily targeting nonconformist Quakers. Governor Stuyvesant’s policy of persecution began in 1656 with an ordinance banning unauthorized religious meetings, causing Quaker preachers to be harassed, arrested, jailed, and fined.

Stuyvesant reacted to the Remonstrance in anger. Determined to quash the spirit of the Remonstrance, he dissolved Flushing’s town government and put his own cronies in charge. He arrested four of the signers of the Remonstrance, including Edward Hart. To his credit, the elderly Hart went to jail but never recanted.

Relief from Stuyvesant’s harsh rule finally arrived in 1663, but not by the hand of any government. The Dutch West India Company, sponsor and investor in the Dutch colonies of North America, dispatched a letter to Stuyvesant ordering him to stop religious persecution. Thomas Jefferson reveled in the spirit of the Flushing-inspired motto, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God”. He inserted it on his personal seal. 

And, yes, I would enjoy writing about Edward Hart and the members of the tiny village of Flushing who had the chutzpah to play chicken with a colonial government. Those are my favorite kind of characters. In fact, this battle has inspired a future conflict in Transformation Project.

Daily Living Record   3 comments

Dear Diary. Write a diary entry or a letter from your character’s point of view.

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”43078945cccd40298fe66587c997f39e” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/43078945cccd40298fe66587c997f39e” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>Wordpress Shortcode[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”43078945cccd40298fe66587c997f39e”]Unique URLhttps://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/43078945cccd40298fe66587c997f39e

Set Up

For my diary entry, I chose Lily from Dumpster Fire, which is the 2nd book in What If Wasn’t, my Young Adult series. The events of the book just culminated and she’s trying to pull herself together after seeing her best friend die in her boyfriend’s arms.

Dear Diary,

Alyse is dead. I still can’t believe I’m writing that. I needed to see the ink on the page to begin to believe it’s true. Alyse is dead. Alyse is dead. Alyse is dead.

Yeah, it’s not like a magic incantation where if you write it enough, it becomes true. If I wrote “Alyse is not dead” three times, it would also not come true. They laid her in a grave today. Her life ended and ours keep going forward.

Wow, I wrote that two hours ago. I’ve cried a bucket since and slept. My head hurts. And Alyse is still dead. Peter’s not. As far as I can tell, he didn’t have a mark on him. On his exterior, anyway. His eyes — there was nothing behind them as they led him off the boat. I should care. He was my boyfriend. I don’t and that’s all on him. He aimed the boat at us — at Ben and me — and Alyse died. And Trevor — critical condition. Peter and his date walked away without a scratch. Well, she got wet and Peter — his sister died in his arms and it was all his fault. His scars will be on the inside where nobody can see them.

Maybe that’s right. He won’t be able to get sympathy for scars nobody can see. All anyone will know of him is that he’s a killer – charged with manslaughter. He slaughtered a girl, but they don’t take off points for that. They just don’t have a term for it. Manslaughter will follow him the rest of his life, carrying that dead body around with him.

Could Ben and I have stopped him? Not by the time we saw the boat, but Ben said Peter called him and asked for help and Ben was busy. That’s not an excuse. He didn’t have to drink and drive. Dad says it’s still vehicular homicide if it’s a boat. He learned nothing. He learned nothing. He learned nothing. He said he did, but

Was he lying? I knew Alyse lied all the time. Seems like my friendship with her was as much illusion as fact. But Peter always seemed to tell the truth until the night at Trevor’s party. I’ve spent the summer surrounded by liars. Ben’s been the only one honest and now he doesn’t want to see me. We’ll forever remind each other of Alyse dying in Peter’s arms. Dad says I’m being melodramatic, but he wasn’t there. They don’t know what it was like to watch Alyse die right before my eyes. and to know it was my fault — that Ben and I could have stopped it. And, yet the one person who would understand is the last person I want to see.

Posted May 17, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , ,

Information Rich   13 comments

Inspired by a comment on a recent post.

Discuss: It never fails to amaze me that ALL the books ever written are made up of just twenty six letters.

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”d2fe7b5a64dd45ee99c2b6e275b9de74″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/d2fe7b5a64dd45ee99c2b6e275b9de74” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20href=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>Wordpress Shortcode[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”d2fe7b5a64dd45ee99c2b6e275b9de74″]Unique URLhttps://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/d2fe7b5a64dd45ee99c2b6e275b9de74

Teaching The Alphabet With Visual Sorting | Steps 2 Read

Information Density in Simplistic Form

The English alphabet is made up for just 26 letters that represent 45 sounds and a couple of letters we hardly use at all. Yet, a world of literature fills billions of books with very intricate stories written in myriad ways. How does it work that we can take such a basic system of communication and use it in such complex ways?

That is amazing to consider, but then I remember that the genome encodes billions of genes and can be represented by just four letters.

Consider math. It really consists of 10 symbols – 0-9 — and then repetition and recombination of those 9 symbols to create highly complex numbers.

Computer programing at its base relies on just two symbols – 1 and 0 — similarly combined in complex sequences to encoding information.

Information can be dense without requiring complicated symbolic systems.

Twenty-Six Letters with Myriad Uses

Of course, the 26 letters of the Eurocentric alphabet correlates — sort of — with the 45 sounds we make when we talk. Different languages, however, use the different letters in a myriad of ways. D in English is not pronounced exactly the same way as D in Spanish. If you speak both languages, you have a code-switch to correctly pronounce the words you read. Consider that the Hawaiian language uses just 12 of our letters to convey a lot of information. Their place names, for example, actually mean something. Conversely, Native American languages require extra symbols to stress the various ways speakers intonate the sounds, which can change the meaning of a sentence or a word. Both Athabaskans and Inupiats use far more “q” sounds in their language and while you’ll notice that if you read a page of text, when they speak, you hear a lot of sounds that are deep in the back of the throat, so it’s not really a “q”, but it’s what the translators are left with within the constraints of written English’s 26 letters.

Why Only 26?

English used to have a few other letters in its alphabet and some of them kind of make sense. I used to be a volunteer at our former church’s English & Citizenship school, responsible for teaching thousands of foreign-born folks to speak and read the English language and I can tell you that how English-speakers use the Roman alphabet can be confusing to people who speak other languages … and precision young English-speakers who are trying to learn to read for the first time.

Thorn: þ
This letter — which was pronounced “th” as in “them”. Although we combine t and h to make that sound, my son (who was a very precise human until his teen years) struggled with that combination. He couldn’t understand why the hard T got softened when combined with the “h”. He wanted me or one of his teachers to explain it. He wasn’t happy with the answer of “it just is that way.” Sometime in junior high school, he gave up the question, but when I shared this article with him while I was writing it, he remembered.

“I knew it! English can be so dumb!” He’d like us to start using this symbol immediately.

Wynn: ƿ
The Latin alphabet we use didn’t offer a letter with the “wah” sound popular to English speakers. Wynn filled the void, but not for long. Over time, it became popular to stick two double-“U’s” side-by-side to create the sound of wynn. Think “vacuum” and “continuum”. I don’t find the double-u to not make sense. Also, it looked like a “p” which would be confusing.

Yogh: Ȝ
The yogh sound entered during the Middle English to represent the back-of-the-throat “ch” sound (think: Bach). It disappeared thanks to the French printing presses, which decided to replace yogh with “gh.” It looks like a 3, so that would be confusing, but frankly, I would love to have a letter that represents that sound because “gh” creates guesswork for pronunciation. This is a similar problem to my Inupiat friends who have a similar (but more complex) back-of-the-throat sound that is rendered as a “q”, but isn’t really. Maybe we need another symbol that doesn’t look like a 3, but denotes sounds in the back of our throat. I had a friend in high school whose last name was “Back.” His father was descended from one of Johann Sabastian’s grandsons who migrated to the United States. So of course the question came up how the name morphed. Well, 1st generation Bach didn’t read English and someone had to write his name into the entry book. The name Bach ends with a back of the throat gutteral sound and the clerk probably didn’t know how to spell it, so he wrote it how it sounded — hence “Back”.

Ash: ӕ
You’ve seen it in medieval (when spelled mediaeval) or in aeon and aether. This is an example of Roman ligature, meaning the tying together of two letters, in this case “a” and “e.” Though it was dropped as a letter from English, it remains one in Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic. We do sometimes see words in English spelled with “ae”. This was another reading stumble for my son. Mr. Precision wanted to use the two distinct sounds. He would have loved the single combined letter that told him to blend the sound.

Ethel: œ
Another Latin ligature, this is the combination of “o” and “e” that can be seen in words like “foetus” and “subpoena.” Now in most cases, we replace this letter with an e. It maybe made sense in past times, but today, we doesn’t pronounce the “oe” sound, so it’s not necessary.

Ampersand: &
The ampersand was once considered part of the alphabet. In fact, that’s how it got its name. The end of the alphabet was “x, y, z and, per se, and.” Per se means “in itself, and,” meaning the symbol stands in for “and.” That became am-per-sand.

I think we could add two to four letters to the English alphabet to improve our rendering of how we pronounce some words to a better written equivalent. But the system we have right now works pretty well…most of the time.

Complexity Made Simple

Twenty-six letters to write millions of words filling billions of books. And here we are. We all pretty much understand one another because we have agreed on such a simple system that roughly correlates with how we speak the language. Who came up with it? It’s a product of the brilliance of spontaneous generation tumbled in the hands of millions of people, then polished by William Chester Minor and Daniel Webster who needed to make some decisions on standardization in order to produce the first dictionaries. Eventually we came to what works best for us. It’s possible it will change over time — just as my Inupiat friends have coopted “q” for that throat-clearing raven-clucking sound that characterizes their language. Because as an English-speaker who has tried to learn some of their language, I can attest it’s not a “q” and my Inupiat friends deserve a letter to use for that purpose. My son would vote for symbols for “th” sounds and “ae”.

Time will tell.

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

Deep Thoughts from the Shallow End of the Pool

WordDreams...

Jacqui Murray's

Steven Smith

The website of an aspiring author

thebibliophagist

a voracious reader. | a book blogger.

cupidcupid999

adventure, art, nature, travel, photography, wildlife - animals, and funny stuff

Republic-MainStreet

The Peaceful Revolution Liberate Main Street

atleastihaveafrigginglass

What could possibly go wrong?

Who the Hell Knows?

The name says it all.

%d bloggers like this: