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

#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.

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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