Chasing Aginili: “My Older Brother”

Syllables for Aginili

This is my four-month journey of how I got from using “Big Brother” to Aginili, and is an example of why learning a language instead of using “found” words is beneficial/aggravating.

I am learning Tsalagi/Cherokee over the next few years to build up a prequel novel to Fodder for Pigs. It will also enrich my current novel. At your leisure, read this full post about why I chose to do this.

I wanted to find a suitable replacement for Big Brother’s “name”. The term “Big Brother” has many unneeded connotations exclusive to TV show names, political statements, etc. He just needs to be a protective, though grumpy, older brother.

He will not give his actual name because he doesn’t want people, particularly ones he doesn’t like, to use it. That would disrespectful and sort of embarrassing for him. I began to put my feelers out for a new term that encompasses who he is and what he does.

My naive self thought I had the answer

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Author Newbie Tag 2.0: When Pigs Fly

pigs flyingSpare time is like riding unicorns through rainbows while pigs fly about my head. It never seems to happen except when I neglect my household. Well, get ready for some spare time I’ve made. Maybe you can read it while watching your own pigs fly. I’ve been challenged to participate in #Authortalktuesday. I think that sounds fun! I can’t wait to meet everyone else and see your stuff. Please link in the comments.

This is part of the author newbie tag 2.0

1. What’s your book’s pitch? If you have multiple works, choose your favorite!

Oh my…well, I’ve pitched my book Fodder for Pigs enough times. I may as well take a stab at a new approach: the antagonist’s view.

“Joseph pines for when he had everything: a great job, close family, and a new bride. She betrayed him. One by one everything fell through his grasp. He exists in turmoil and wretchedness.

Only revenge will do.

The man who took it all away from him is within his grasp, yet he must savor this. He’s been preparing for decades, priming what child should have been his into a tool for revenge. He’s in too deep to turn back. Too many have died for this moment.

Now is the time.”

2. If you were a book, how would you pitch yourself?

Don’t Read this Book: a Collection of Life’s Most Awkward Moments. Continue reading

Author Interview: Monique De La Uz

8 Words coverWhat I love about the writing community is that every once in a while I meet an author or two that has a heart of gold. I know several of them now. These people have a genuine desire to pour their hearts out onto a page and help others do the same, in whatever capacity they can. We share in the excitement of finishing a draft, critiquing each other’s work, seeing each other succeed, and sending our new friends off into publishing land. I can’t do them all justice in one blog post, but I can share their beautiful minds!

Monique De La Uz is a debut Psychological Thriller author. I’m proud to have been part of the critiquing process and to have watched her grow by leaps bounds. Her riveting book, called Eight Words, comes out on August 8th, 2019. Let’s dive in!

Monique, in a few sentences, tell us about your book

My novel chronicles a woman’s journey in trying to save a student whom she teaches. He has no one and she wants to help but when her mentally ill brother accuses the relationship of going further than mentorship, she risks losing everything. She spirals down a path that jeopardizes her own mental health. Caught between her future and her family, she must decide if telling a vengeful truth and secret might be her only way out of this nightmare. Continue reading

#WIPjoy: About Fodder for Pigs

I realized I don’t talk about my work in progress much, at least not with people who don’t have a reason to care. One of the groups I admin did the #WIPjoy tag a while back, and I thought it was pretty fun! It is a good exercise in getting us to think about our work and communicate what it means to us.

#1 INTRODUCE YOUR WIP…

Fodder for Pigs is a historical Fiction/Thriller set in 1850s Alabama and Georgia. This is my attempt at a blurb as of right now. It will change like fifty more times, guaranteed.

Blood don’t wash off yo’ shirt; it sho’ as hell don’t wash off yo’ soul.

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Why I chose to learn Tsalagi as research

Tsalagi syllabaryLearn a new language as research? Crazy lady! I decided to learn Tsalagi/Cherokee over the next five years. Logical, since I have [almost] nobody with whom to speak this new language? No! But I have found a way to work it in and have about a week left of syllabary learning. Then it is on to the language basics.

I want to make a believable and respectful representation of people in my novel’s time period

By the late 1820’s, after George Guess (or George Gist/Sequoya) developed the Cherokee Syllabary, most of the Nation read and wrote this language. It was important to read the news and communicate at that time. Laws and treaties were being made without them being able to verify any information. At least with this written language, they could have something with which to create and preserve their own government.

I have some Cherokee characters in Fodder for Pigs, but most are only half Native. Given the time period and circumstances, they experience a rapid loss in culture and language. What that means for me is that I need to explore what this loss entails and how to present it accurately and with respect. History books are not enough. The internet is not enough. Cherokee/English dictionaries will have me using any one of seven words for the same object, and I know I am in deep you-know-what if I choose the wrong one.

Language is the way into the culture, forgotten or otherwise

I am encountering countless things every day that enrich my characters and plot.

I realized while researching words, meanings, traditions, etc. that some concepts in English do not exist in other languages. Take for example, “goodbye.” English uses this often. “Goodbye” for early Cherokee was too final. They would rather have said the equivalent of “be strong” or “I will see you later.”

Another example is Aniyvwiya, or the Real People/Principal People. This is how the people used to refer to themselves. Since the nation was matrilineal, only people with Cherokee mothers were Aniyvwiya. If I had not dived right into the language, I would have used it incorrectly. Half of my characters do not have Cherokee mothers.

Even though the old culture was fairly documented by both English and Cherokee speakers, there are few ways to accurately experience it halfway across the country in the 21st century. In this case, the internet, library, and databases have been beneficial to connect with material and native speakers involved in history. Not every Native American knows exactly what happened 150 years ago. Do I know what happened 150 years ago in Hungary? Nope!

So far I have learned enough to make significant changes in my Book One narrative, family dynamics being the most changed. David and Sarah are part of a broken and blended family and they live their early years on the fringes of a dying culture. Having a white mother means more than being a little confused. Since bloodlines were carried through mothers, they had no clan membership. No clan membership means no protection, at least not the depth they will need.

Languages are disappearing

Very few people speak the dialect I am learning, and yes, maybe I will have to learn another to actually talk with people, but it is better than it dying out. A dialect of this language has already died.

Even a written language can be in danger of dying out. Fires can and have destroyed entire libraries of original documents across the world, and languages are in trouble. 2019 is suitably the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Language learning is important for spelling accuracy

Not only am I learning to accurately form an image of what their lives were like, I am not going to copy and paste incorrect words into my story. More on that in my upcoming post: Chasing Aginili.

To follow my progress each weak, check out my Instagram.

Tall Socks: A Microfiction

Tall socks image

If you asked me a year or two ago if I wanted to write microfiction, I would have Googled it and said: “no, I’m working on my novel.” This would be a mistake. A new novel writer ought to have a collection of short stuff or risk being completely unknown in front of the “jury” when his or her manuscript is in the publisher’s slush pile (or new to the bookstore). Not having other works is one of the seven new writer’s mistakes.

A competition came up in one of the writing groups I am in and I decided to try it. We all submitted three, eight sentence pieces in response to writing prompts and voted to determine a winning piece. There were so many good pieces of writing and I’m going to follow all those wonderful authors!

I am honored to have been a finalist and amazed at having made the winning piece. This had me walking on clouds the past week or two and I am feeling more confident in how my writing has progressed. My instinct is to downplay it and call it a silly little piece of fiction, but maybe it’s time to just put it out there.

Prompt: Graves of historical figures are being robbed

Tall Socks: a Microfiction

“Abraham, you promised you would consider stopping this habit,” she floated up and placed her ghostly white hands on the gravestone in front of her.

“My dear Mary, I said I would ‘consider’ stopping, which is still not a lie. Besides, this old man doesn’t need tall socks and I do.” Abe stretched out his leg and showed Mary Todd the chilled space between his own trousers and socks.

“You don’t need socks, you’re dead! Leave Robert E. Lee alone and come back into the mist.”

Abe looked around at the series of mutilated graves and sighed. “I finally found tall socks, Mary, and I’m going to use them; if he wants them back he can start another war.”

There you have it: a nice distraction from my editing! I enjoyed this creative challenge and I’ll be looking for more opportunities this year. There are many groups and resources. I should update my list of writing communities as well! Onward ho!

Abraham Lincoln memorial

“Show me your socks”

You’ve got to check out the other winning contestants. They did such a great job! I will post links to their blog here as soon as I get permission.

Here is a great piece from Glass Heart. You should really like her page, just saying:

https://www.facebook.com/204087443381307/posts/650685755388138/

All three from one contestant via her blog. I especially like the second entry, but I’m a bit biased toward historical 😉 : https://wordbubblessite.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/being-brave/

Editing Blues, Scrivener, and Scrivener alternatives

Manuscript Monday

I’ve started sharing snippets to social media

I’ve been absent. My little green couch, perfect for me to spread out with my laptop and type-type away, has me like a magnet. Doing what? Learning how to use Scrivener and pining over my third self-edit (fourth draft!). I even gained five pounds. The good news is that while on this editing and procrastinating spree, I started using #manuscriptmondays on my Instagram and have reached 200 likes on Facebook. YAY!

Self-editing takes so looooong but it’s worth it
ProWriting Aid tries to help with self-edits

ProWriting Aid tries to help. I suppose I should put Bandaids over my juicy paper cuts.

Remember my post on self-editing? It doesn’t take as much time to write a blog post as it does to edit 500 words.

After addressing character strengths and weaknesses, plot challenges, chapter and paragraph level tension, cutting the fluff, etc., I took my draft to ProWriting Aid 500 words at a time. I should probably pay for the service so I can paste the whole thing in, but I prefer to torture myself. During this process, I learned so much about the way I use words and I highly suggest using this editing tool and the other ones from that blog post.

Not every suggestion is a good idea. Take, for example, the suggestion above. ProWriting Aid has little mistakes and so does Grammarly. They can only do so much with their programming. “Juice” is not a good substitute for “blood.”

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Online Communities for Writers

Why join a writing community? Support, encouragement, connecting with readers and fellow writers, and learning are my top reasons. When I first started writing I thought it would be fun and something I could do alone. Nope. Well, it was fun, but I’d isolated myself and therefore stunted my growth as a writer. I didn’t know where to look for people to read my work and had to wade through the endless Google searches and decipher who meant business and who didn’t. The persistent question of “who on earth will read my book and how do I find that person?” weighed on my mind. After I found people to read the darn thing, I found myself asking “how do I overcome these problems I didn’t know I had?”

In order to learn and be encouraged in our writing journey, we have to surround ourselves with people who are interested in the same things. There will be a few people who are discouraging, but that is the risk we take when we exist in this world. The fear that somebody might steal an idea is usually a concern for newbies. Just be judicious about how you share your work. When you do find somebody to share with, there are a few things you should know about the process. Read some of them here.

I wish somebody had handed me a list of writer communities when I first started, so here is a list of places I’ve discovered and a few I want to research before hoping in head first.

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Be a better writer: read books about writing

If your writing made any sense at all, that would be greatI know, I know. If we read books about writing it takes time away from actually doing our favorite thing—writing! Some folks say “just write and you will get better”. Well, no. If we just write with no foundation, we write crap. I know because I did it, and I thought my crap was fantastic. Thankfully my writing has improved by leaps and bounds. The secret? Reading books about writing.

If you are reading this and just panicked about your draft, don’t worry. Self-editing is part of the writing process, and after reading about writing, it will come more natural.

People also say that reading anything improves writing. It certainly does. Reading leaves an impression on our minds not only about grammar and vocabulary, but about writing styles. Not all styles are timeless. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t read for fun. I’m saying we should learn what to take with a grain of salt as we devour books. Hemingway and King can probably get away with a lot more broken rules than can a newbie like me, and some writing styles I grew up with are no longer popular.

Wouldn’t it be great if an experienced person read thousands of novels and shared all the knowledge he or she gleaned?

People do. They write books about it.

Stuck on plot? Not sure if an outline is for you? Can’t seem to make your characters get from point A to point B? Read about writing. It’s faster than trying to decipher 100 successful books.

We can get concentrated knowledge gleaned from years of experience if we read books about writing.

As I finally wrap up my second edit, I have time to read a few of these books before jumping back into more edits and critiques.

Here are some books I’ve found helpful and some I want to read

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Is it Character Weakness or Strength?

People dancing wildly

Bring some sense to your characters

We often focus on our characters’ weakness. This is fine because everyone has a weakness and that makes them relatable, but what if we focus on their strengths? We get more defined characters. According to psychologist Don Clifton, each strength, when used at the wrong time or inappropriately, can be seen by others as a weakness.

If we can make the over-application of character strengths to work in our writerly favor, we have crafted better characters

Example: Sally has a commanding strength. This is great in tight situations where somebody needs to take charge. People listen to her when the going gets tough. It’s her best strength so it comes natural, and she sometimes uses it when she doesn’t need to. When she tells people what to do in casual situations, they think she is bossy.

Often, a person can have strengths that counteract each other or fight for dominance

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