Posts Tagged ‘ennid’

From as early an age as I can recall, languages fascinated me. I grew up in a culturally-diverse corner of town—Italian, Korean, Spanish speakers all lived on the same block, within a few houses of one another, and my own family comes from a background that would make a mutt feel like a purebred. In high school, I took up Spanish and then later took German. In college, I took Russian courses. I had also spent considerable time in places, while serving in the Navy, where Spanish and Italian were the native tongues. Later, in college, Russian. For fun, I studied French, Gaelic, Tolkien’s Elvish and I even own a Klingon Dictionary.

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Then I began creating languages of my own to use in my stories—Omen-Eyes, Ennid the Havoc, the languages for the upcoming Dross* and alien races of the SHARC series of stories. In each of these, the language provides a “flavor” to differentiate the races/species and in just about every case, creates some type of conflict because of the limits of translation.

Here are a few things I learned about language while studying them:

Languages more often than not don’t feature a one-for-one translation. If it works out that way, you’re lucky. Some drop prepositions while others adopt gendered ones. Some (including English) drop implied verbs.

Example: There is a book on the table.

In Russian, their grammar prefers: On the table, there is a book. (Which, translated with the available words, would read: “On table, book.”)

In German, their sentence structure can be even more rigid. Subject-Verb-Everything Else for a statement, Verb-Subject-Everything Else for a question. Some throw their words all over the place, using inflection more than just structure to differentiate between a statement and a question (yes, that would be English. We English-speakers are language contortionists).

You went there.

Simple statement, although why someone would have to tell someone else where they went is beyond the scope of this blog.

You went there?

Connotes the idea of surprise that the subject “you” overstepped some boundary to get to that location, like the timid librarian stepping into a biker bar, where they clearly wouldn’t be wanted.

You went there?

This one is a little more snotty, and less of a question than pure derision. They don’t want an answer, they want to mock. The subject “you” ventured into some place that the one asking the question wouldn’t have set foot simply because it is beneath them.

(There’s a great episode of Jerry Seinfeld that uses this to great effect. Why would Jerry bring anything?)

Some have few words that can say a lot, and others use a lot of words for very little, and some languages encompass both. Russian is my favorite for this. On one hand, they can say “Tim tahm.” and mean “Tim is over there”, while to say “I like pets” they have to wrap their tongues around “Menay neravidtsa domoshnie zhivotniey.” (Bugs Bunny pokes fun at this concept too, in “Wackiki Wabbit”.)

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This may arise from the need to define the concept within the sentence that you are introducing it. We could say “The clear sky” but if the one listening is not familiar with the concept of “clear”, it may have to be expressed as: “It was a sky through which light may pass so objects on the other side or within the volume of the object may be seen without hindrance.” Now imagine that some of the words in the definition had to be defined, as those concepts were unfamiliar. See where the conflict in trying to explain things can arise? (Oppressive regimes might condone destruction or redefinition of terms and concepts to prevent someone from speaking about things that the government doesn’t want discussed. Sadly, a fairly recent phenomenon in our own history is to cripple free speech, open debate and discussion by hurling the invective “racist!” or “bigot!”–the equivalent of the playground “your mom!”– when no intelligent argument can be formed or respectfully conveyed.)

Then there are the concepts. We speakers of English are all familiar with hyperbole, exaggeration, metaphors. Imagine telling someone that your heart leapt for joy when you saw them coming. If they have no experience outside of the literal realm, they may start looking around their feet for a bloody organ bouncing around in the grass.

English uses very little of the mouth. We blow air out through our lips, puff out our cheeks, touch our tongue to the roof of our mouths but we tend to use so little of it. Other languages, like Russian, use all of those and add different “depths” of the mouth and throat to create their sounds. Some, like the fascinating Khoison family of tongues from Africa even feature pops and clicks. We have a couple of equivalents in English—you’ve probably heard it as “tsk-tsk” or when someone “clucks” their tongue.

And finally, some of the translations can be… funny… when brought over into English and vice versa. A “Nova” was a car model that didn’t do well in Spanish-speaking countries because, while it’s an astrological term in English, in Spanish it translates to “no-go.” And some names are pronounced the same way as some Russian terms. I’m not sure “The Queen of Country” would want to be known as “Fish” McEntire, and that jedi-in-training would be far less heroic if he’d been known as “Onion Skywalker.”

*Title subject to change

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Two weeks ago I brought up several stories which I call my favorites, and that naturally brought me to the idea of influence. You hear the phrases bandied about often by any creative types–“I consider such-and-such my greatest influence”, as in “As a composer, I find Mozart and John Williams to be my greatest influences” for an example, or directors cite earlier movies that formed their interest in the silver screen.

Certainly, as a writer, I count many, many authors and stories among my influences. All writers generally do–after all, that initial exposure to tales that transport us to other worlds or realities far from our own personal experiences engender the desire in some readers to craft our own. Fredrik Pohl, Harlan Ellison, Harry Harrison, John Haldeman, Doyle, Tolkien, Lewis, Shakespeare etc. all count high on my list of literary inspirations.

But… what about other influences, such as music? Take my first example, with music above. I frequently listen to music while writing, matching the mood/tone with whatever I am trying to write. Umbra (and all of its previous iterations) came flying from my fingertips with an ample dose of Alice in Chains, early Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden pounding in my ears. For my darker fantasy stories like “The Falconer and the Wolf“, one of my favorite bands to get me in the right atmosphere is Dead Can Dance. When sketching notes for The Light of Liberty, I turned to Barry Phillips and his version of “The World Turned Upside Down” along with other American Colonial period tunes.

Are there any more? Of course there are. Many people have incorporated their likes and hobbies into their writing. Some cozy mysteries, for example, are based around knitting. My character Ennid the Havoc and his escapades are influenced by my love of MMA (that’s Mixed Martial Arts for those not yet initiated into its primal awesomeness). My interest in genetics features heavily in Clones are People Two. Even if the things we like aren’t at the forfront, we sometimes insert it in small ways. I love goats (Casey, from Umbra), I think rhinos are awesome and I smith silver (both of which will appear in The Opal Necklace, release date TBD) and I’ve an interest in raptors and falconry.

It’s all very simple–EVERYTHING can be an influence on our creativity, and EVERYTHING should be. It’s from these somewhat disparate ideas and influences that some of our richest “juices” flow.

 

 

Since the dawn of my cognizance, I’ve heard the phrase uttered over and over “write what you know”. (To be fair, I’ve read it often enough too.) I’m here to tell you today that if you write, don’t just write what you know. I doubt many people would want to read an chapter-long exposition on how to repair the air-conditioning and pressurization systems of Naval aircraft, with all the nuts and bolts (literally). Instead, I implore you to write what you love. That passion will sneak its way into your work, and the words on the page (electrons on the screen, if you’ve gone digital) exude it in visceral ways the reader unconsciously picks up on. Insert your own fears into your work, and the reader can’t help but feel that anxiety.

Anyone who has read my anthologies and my longer works may be able to pick up on things I’ve inserted because I love them, or am fascinated by them. Animals are a near constant, either as main characters, sidekicks, pets or just there as local flavor. Casey, K’zirra, the wolf, Sharza* and a few others. I am also intensely interested in classical Roman History, the ethics of cloning, eschatology, mixed martial arts and, of course, nearly anything post-apocalyptic. People who love these things may be attracted to my work, if not for the storyline (initially) then for the inclusion of those elements in fiction they love to see and read about. In that same vein, writing my own fears into my work us in some ways very cathartic, as I can help myself by using the process of figuring how the character is going to cope or overcome. (Dear Lord , are they ever so much more courageous than I am! But I’m glad I don’t have half the problems I throw at my poor characters.)

So, don’t worry about being a hack, don’t try to copy someone else’s style, don’t just write “what you know” or you’ll come out as a dreaded expositor. Write what you love and the passion will flow.

* Who is Sharza, you wonder? She’s in The Opal Necklace, a novel which should be complete and released sometime early next year. What is she? Well, you’ll have to wait and read.

I’m going to start right off by saying I haven’t even purchased the game yet. Do you know why? Because it’s so deliciously yummy looking that there’s NO way I couldn’t head right for the “dessert” of playing for days on end instead if getting my Ennid out on schedule. Brian Fargo, you and your team have outdone yourselves with eye candy alone.

I used to be a huge gamer – addicted. I’ve since weaned myself and haven’t been too excited about anything in the last several years, until I heard about this one. I even dig out my original Wasteland copy just to have the orange cover nearby. And I reread the entire paragraph book again. (I’m going to admit that when I played the game as a kid, over and over, it didn’t take me long to memorize all the correct passwords revealed within it.)

What I’ve decided to do is reward myself only when it’s done. I’ve been waiting for this game for 26 years. (Yeah, I’m old enough to have played the original on its original platform. It’s what sucked me into the genre in the first place, next to The Road Warrior.) So what’s a few more days?

Besides, I have a feeling after playing it for awhile, I’m going to throw a tactical nuke at my schedule to rearrange it for the second Umbra novel, I’ll be too immersed and inspired to let Vera and Shaw and Harris go for long.

Bottom line is, I’m already sold. I’ll add my thoughts later, when I’m playing. If I remember to pull myself away long enough.

I find most sports boring, if not downright abhorrent (people shell out insane funds to watch other people make millions of dollars playing a game).

But… I have a love affair with MMA.

The one thing I truly picked up and retained from my husband, even after the divorce, was an appreciation fighting with the hands and feet using a combination of the bazillion varieties. There’s something very primal and very stirring about watching these sportsman throw down with each other

Very little expensive gear is involved (thin gloves to protect the knuckles, occasional shin guards, a mouth guard for those teeth) and therefore little to stand in the way of every punch and kick thrown (known in the industry as ‘strikes’).  People get hurt.  All of the time.  I was watching during the infamous Silva vs. Weidman rematch -UFC 168, for the belt- when Weidman leg-checked Silva’s strike and it sheared Silva’s tibia. Everyone at the restaurant that night got to see the 18 million replays from EVERY angle showing Anderson Silva’s leg wobbling like it belonged to a rubber doll. I swear, 18 million. Train wreck, folks. Horrifying, but you can’t look away.

One of the other reasons I love MMA are the many professionals throughout. I don’t mean professional as in ‘getting paid’ but in ‘I’m going to pummel your ass into a thin red paste, but as soon as that buzzer goes off, I’m going to shake your hand and congratulate you on a good fight’ kind of professional.  What goes on in the Octagon stays in the Octagon. Clay Guida is one of my faves for this reason, and he would definitely be one of the ones I would wish to hang out with. (Some on the other hand, like Nick Diaz, Jason Miller and War Machine are pricks who, inside and outside, either antagonized one another or committed heinous crimes.  Not cool for the sport guys.  Not cool at all.)  I love (to hate) Chael Sonnen only because he’s the sport’s version of the fisherman with tall tales. Instead of letting his own considerable skills speak for themselves (he was one of the few to give the then-undefeated Anderson Silva a run for his money), he goes around touting himself as the actual champion because he almost brought “The Spider” down. (That part is great, too. They all have nicknames.)  Watching Sonnen fight is always a pleasure, because either I get to see him use his amazing fighting prowess and take his opponent down, or I get to watch someone kick his ass.

My other pet peeve is when they brought two women into the fighting (remaining nameless here, as they do not need the publicity).  The idiot who arranged the fights and the producers played up the Reality-TV bullshit drama of it both of as catty bitches who were gonna “kick each others’ ass” truly soured the sport.  Leave that petty crap on Jerry Springer where it belongs.  Now that this TUF crap is out, there are COMPLETELY taking the sport in the wrong direction, selling it on the sex angle instead of a true exposition and merit of their skills.  It will become a farce just as much as women gladiators (the “gladiatrix“) were in Roman times.  Cheap amusement at the expense of the women involved, all the while trying to sell them as legitimate.  It is a true shame, because a lot of the women kick serious ass, but unfortunately the size of their attitudes or how they look in bikinis will completely override any fighting prowess.  Spectacle.

I don’t go to watch all of the fights; that would get far too pricey and I would always be up past my bedtime.  I pick and choose the matches with my faves and occasionally, if none of my guys are going to show up on the card for awhile, I’ll check out some new and interesting faces.

The bottom line is, my interests inform my writing – sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little, but on occasion, the interest itself gives me an idea that Just. Won’t. Leave. Me. Alone.  And so, I must write, in order to get it out there.  And when that idea was Ennid the Havoc, he kept locking me up in a rear naked choke, and I finally tapped out and gave him his stories.

Oh, and Joe Rogan… shut up!

 

A little background information:

Royce Gracie essentially started the UFC as a coming-out party for his new style of fighting, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, and it’s been gaining even more momentum.

The top UFC fighter only makes around $1 million a year, and that includes all of the product endorsements.

The octagon was used to differentiate it from all the other martial sports out there, to introduce it as something new and truly unique.

So I recently had the question posed regarding my inspiration. Now I could take the shortcut and say that so many things inspire me that I can’t list them all. This is partially true – one, because if I sat and listed all those things, I would be wasting time better sort writing and two, I do mind-mapping when looking for ideas, and it hardy looks like a list by the time I’m done with it. Heck, sometimes it doesn’t seem useful at all, the ideas being very disparate ones. Occasionally, though, some of those weird things start tying themselves together in a rather novel (pun intended) fashion. The latest, as an example: (okay, not necessarily the latest, since “he” has been bothering me for a few years) I like fantasy stories, I love Monty Python, I love the video game Diablo (since the first one, and no, I am not a milkmaid), I love MMA. How could these come together? Ennid is how. Years ago I came up with an idea for a Diablo-based story (can’t even call it fan fiction since it never got beyond the idea) but it faltered and fell back into the idea box. Years later, I get hooked on watching UFC (except for Joe Rogan. Cannot stand that guy, and Dana White should just find someone else for Goldberg to flirt with). One if the things I simply love about MMA fights is that, more often than not, I get to witness a brutal, primal beatdown between two alpha males who look like they’re about ready to kill each other, but as soon as it’s over, they shake and hug and congratulate one another. I’d like to believe that all of them are really good guys in and out of the octagon (especially you, Clay Guida!). That inspired me to create a tough guy with a gentle heart who gets himself into trouble more often than not because he isn’t willing to take the easy way out of his problems by bashing heads in. Instead, he’s got to use his brains and heart before his brawn. And, of course, he’s a sucker for a woman in trouble, which is where most of his trouble starts. There’s a lot of story around Ennid to play with, and I think I’m going to have a lot of fun going back to his world from time to time.

I’ve been stumbling around a bit with the choice of my next project. I didn’t have this problem earlier in the year, when I sat down to calculate which projects I wanted to work on, with deadlines and tasks defined. However, I got word of an upcoming class on writing a series offered by Holly Lisle (if you love to write, you should check out her offerings here. Lifechangers. Seriously.), I decided to shuffle my schedule in order to accommodate the stories which I had not entirely fleshed out the concepts and characters. Using her method, I could define all of that around the basic idea floating in my head. I shuffled the projects around to get that particular universe into place, but the class hasn’t been moving fast enough for my schedule, so I decided to take on another project and work simultaneously. I’m hoping it doesn’t mess up the quality. Because of that, my next published project is going to be:

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A novelette revisiting Ennid from the short story “Food For Thought” in the Morsels flash fiction anthology.

He’s going to be around for a little while, as I have an arc of novellas planned for him.

(And, for anyone curious about the project I’m working on alongside Holly’s class, it’s SHARC, space opera military fiction.)