E-Published, Print-Published, Unpublished–The Effort Deserves Respect

•July 12, 2009 • 1 Comment

library01There are some individuals (and yes, groups and segments, as well) of the writing world/authorial collective who do not view e-publication as a legitimate enterprise.  The mindset of such is that nothing short of traditional print on paper is worthy of acknowledgment or—tell me it ain’t so, Joe!—of even being read!  After all, how can pixels compare to ink blots?  How can the potential of being accessible to the entire world on Internet possibly compare to being accessible on metal shelves in a book store or library to a finite number of people?  [I  audaciously believe that a goodly number of folks who “surf” on Internet have a better chance of discovering/stumbling upon/perusing ebook sites than folks afoot have of entering a book store or library if they do not, under normal circumstances, select to enter such establishments.]

It’s true that in most e-publish situations the writer will not garner a huge monetary compensation for their efforts, at least not early on.  After all, the e-pub route doesn’t (as pointed out in a recent RWR editorial that was for all purposes rather critical of e-publishing) offer advances against future sales.  E-pubbed folks, instead, get a piece of the action in royalties given at higher percentages than the average print-pubbed.  T’is true, most ebooks, which tend to sell at lower prices than the print-books (well hey, paper and manual distribution are costly factors) don’t gain as much for the author (unless it is an already known and established author with a fan base, and oft times one whose book is already print-published as well).  However, if the book of a not-yet-established author picks up enough readers, and that author is prolific, in time that writer could earn a comfortable amount.  A few such authors have managed to earn admirable amounts quickly because their work has attracted buzz/fans/happy readers.   In several cases, authors who could not previously manage to obtain a contract with a print publisher, did so after their ebooks become popular.  Others may not earn much for some time, but later—via perseverance and excellent writing—begin to gain a fan base that supports their ebook work.  And yet others may never make much off their ebooks because either their work just doesn’t gain any fans, or they never manage to hook into the marketing strategy necessary to draw attention to it. 

No matter the resultant success—or lack thereof—my personal opinion is that the worth of a writer’s efforts should not be disregarded based on the mode of publication.  There are plenty of print-published authors that have not lasted beyond a book or two published due to either an inability to gain a readership, or to changes in the publishing house that no longer wants their particular style or genre or subject matter.  There are some writers who have had a number of books published that, in my humble opinion (and this is a matter of personal taste, which we are allowed to have) should not be published.  Being published is a matter of timing, talent, perseverance, and a sizable dollop of luck.  Some deserving writers may never find a fit with an editor or publishing house, but these days the potential for self-publishing is not to be sneezed at. 

The point to it—which I touched on in my earlier blog “To EBook or Not to EBook, That is the Question”—is that what  all writers and publishers strive to generate are good stories, fun reads, escapism in the form of romance, mystery, thrills, horror, sex, fantasy, or whatever your preference.  Everyone wants to make a profit, of course, particularly publishers, and every author would love that as an end result of their long effort.  But the method of presentation itself  (print or digital) should not be important when it comes to respecting those efforts.  The writing, creativity, and imagination—ergo the work of an author—should never be considered of lesser quality for the sake of how it is eventually published.  I speak of the ‘sneer factor’, the ‘judgement issue’, the ‘down the nose dynamic’  that tends to creep into attitudes…ah, did I mention the comments by the President of RWA that indicated e-published writers are not serious authors because they aren’t making a specific amount of cash flow from their work.

Geezzz–and here I thought that the hours…and hours…and hours of work required to develop a story, research the details, draft the story, rewrite/edit the story, try to market, sell and promote the book (if/when sold) is a totally  serious effort!  Did I miss something?  Misunderstand the concept/definition/meaning of serious?   I’ve never been comfortable with the attitude of the large established writing organizations that base acceptance on the cash flow generated by an author’s work and on specific ‘qualifying’ markets.  RWA tends to suffer from that unpleasant attitude, as does the Writers Guild of America and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  S’not that I don’t agree with the idea of aspiring to success and standards of excellence, but there is a rather elitist quality to standards that disallow the participation of so many persons striving for success.  At least RWA allows you to join and learn the craft whether you’re published or not, with published writers helping the unpublished writers.  That’s the best way to develop writers and books for future generations.  Still, wouldn’t it be nice if e-publishing in this technologically advancing world was accepted with grace by an otherwise generous organization?  The Writers Guild and SFFW, however, don’t even allow one to join them in order to learn…a somewhat self defeating approach…but as a e-published author with a very small sales history I suppose my opinion is, well, unworthy of consideration.  

Ah, well, that is a whole other subject to be left for another time.

In this blog, I would ask that everyone in the authorial collective—be you a writer, publisher, or reader—take a hard look at your own attitude, and when judging the value of a written work don’t base that judgement on the method of publication.  Base it, rather, on the quality of the work (which you are free to develop from your own perspective), and the effort you know went into its creation.  Respect is a mind-set derived from logic cooked with a pinch of kindness and a little dab of generosity.  A very easy meal to make and swallow…

Peace, fellow writers.  Keep up the effort.           

And if you don’t already have an eBook Readersonyreader1, check here (eBook Reader Central).  You may find one you like; it will open up a whole new wealth of stories to read/collect/enjoy.


Smile and the World Smiles With You!

•July 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I haven’t decided if this is a smirk or a genuine smile…and Katie isn’t commenting. No matter. She makes me laugh. Everyone should have that wonderful bit of happiness in their day!Copy of IMG_5544

To EBook or Not to EBook, That is the Question

•July 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

BooksIn 1843, the Commissioner of the Patent Office, Mr. Henry L. Ellsworth, reported to Congress that: “The advancement of the arts  from year to year, taxes our credulity and seems to presage the arrival of that period when human improvement must end.”  [Note: This comment was later immortalized in myth, being misquoted with “Everything that can be invented, has been invented”, at which time (the myth suggests)  the Commissioner was compelled to resign.  After all, if there were no more inventions requiring patents, a Commissioner would be unnecessary.]

 Truth or myth, the concept expressed is that mankind may actually reach a point of technological achievement beyond which there is nothing left to achieve.  I don’t know if that’s possible given the incredible capacity of the human imagination…the only true limits may lie in the limitations of the physical world, which operates within set parameters of physics and chemistry.  Anyway, I hope we don’t reach an end point any time soon.  At my age– and perhaps because of my age– I truly enjoy the marvels of  technology that keep expanding around us faster than a matron’s waistline after her girdle’s yanked off.  Many of the fascinating ‘technicities’ (my own made up word, I hope) that wowed us  on Star Trek (the original one) some thirty plus years ago, actually exist now.  The communicators have warped into cell phones that seem to do everything but beam us up.  Computers can and do talk back (if programmed to do so, of course).  Virtual reality is virtually here!  And the greatest invention of all– a device by which a book lover can pack hundreds of books into one small space.  Forget the old cartoon where a tiny cube could open up into a gigantic house complete with furniture, I like the paperback sized piece of hardware that can open up into an entire library– and yet remain the size of a paperback novel!  This is a book lovers dream!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love real paper books– there’s a certain comfort in the texture of a page, the sound of its turning as you read.  The cool slick feel of the cover (if it’s a paperback) and weight of the words in hand.  I’ve used this analogy many times, but it suits so I’ll use it again– my room looks like that last scene in The Raiders of the Lost Arc,  but instead of crates stacked all over, it’s books (have a look at the picture at the top of this page).  Have I read all of them?  No, there are a few that await my attention, if I ever get the time.  I’ve always had a bad habit of buying more books while I still have unread ones waiting in the wings.  Can’t help myself.  I’m drawn to browse and I’ll always see a title that titillates, a cover that grabs my eye, the name of an author I can’t resist, so I add to the stacks in spite of that nagging little voice that says “Don’t do it!  You don’t have room.  What about the books you haven’t read?”  Anyway, I don’t see my personal Lost Arc menagerie shrinking any time soon.  However…

I love my ebook (eBook Reader Central). I can read it at night with the light out because the screen on which the words are revealed is my light.  I can carry this ‘hard-book’ anywhere, just like a paperback, and I do.  It is my bed book, my bathroom book, my read-at-lunch book, absolutely no different than the paper one.  The difference is, it is many books in one.  Literally.  I love the fact that when I’m reading a series (serious readers love duologies and trilogies and every kind of “ologies’ there are), when I finish one book late at night and can’t possibly run out to buy the next one, I can go right online and buy and download it in a matter of minutes.  Oh, sure, I could just buy the whole series in one shot while I’m at the book store, but unlike some people my finances don’t really allow that.  At least not now that I’m on a debt management program.  And it’s far easier to restrain myself from grabbing too much at once when I know I can get that next book as soon as I’m done with the one I’m on.  Of course, if the next book hasn’t been published yet, I’m not going to get it any faster than any other reader.  But–oh, the joy!  If I want (and can) buy two or three or four books at a time, I can keep them on my ‘virtual’ bookshelf where they take up little space and don’t gather dust. 

The crux of the matter is this– I like both kinds of books, the physical print and the virtual.  After all, it isn’t the mechanics of the reading that are important, it’s the reading itself!  In the end, if one is logical and honest (or at least strives to be) it’s the storiesI love, not the manner of their presentation.   Is that not so with everyone?  I’ve been reading the debate between book lovers who love that paper weight– the smell, the feel, the tradition– of paper, and those who love the convenience and practicality of the ebook reader.  One proponent of the paper book even said they would never switch, and someone would have to pry their book from their cold, dead fingers.  Ummm…not a pleasant image.  And that had me asking myself, “Self, is it the book that reader loves, or the story in the book?”  I mean, if the book was there, beautifully bound and presented, but the pages were blank, would he/she be holding the thing?  If the screen on an ebook reader doesn’t display,  will it’s owner continue to stare at it, enthralled?  I’m not a rocket scientist, but I believe the answer to that is a resounding NO!

Which is why it is so interesting that the debate generates such passion.  [Ah, well, readers are passionate people.  Those who ingest words, which are thoughts and images galore, stuffing their brains with tales and knowledge, dreams and visions, yesterdays and tomorrows–how can they be other than bright and articulate and passionate?  After all, they’ve got the world in all its aspects tucked between their ears.]   If the whole purpose of reading is to learn, or escape, or enjoy, to immerse oneself in the real world that they wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to see, or revel in the excitement of an unreal world of romance or fantasy, of mystery or horror that a writer’s gift of  imagination provides, what matter the mode of its arrival?  Even acknowledging and admiring the passion evoked, I still have to wonder why such passion is devoted to the manner of presentation rather than the meat of the presentation?   Tradition, that has to be it.  People have great difficultly in changing traditions, the norm, what they are used to.

There were naysayers when television came on the scene– how could that possibly replace radio?  Who believed when the first computers came into use (those things were the size of an 18-wheeler!) that they would replace the tried and true, ever reliable typewriter?  Thank God those who wrestle with ‘technicities’ were able to shrink the suckers.  Now no one who uses a computer feels they could do without it.  Cell phones and related gadgets?  How could they be better than a solid connected land-line?  Ha!  They’re so much better they’re now like hand-held computers!  Most people (not all!) are leery of new fangled inventions and changes in the manner of how they do their daily activities.  For a reader, crawling into bed with a book is one of the traditions by which they live.  Guess what– I still crawl into bed with a book, and I, for one, couldn’t care less that I push a little button to turn the pages of the story rather than flip the page with my fingers.  But– there you go again.  I’m more concerned with the content of the message than the way the message is delivered.  But hey, to each his own.

For those who cannot live without the texture of the paper page, enjoy.  Just don’t snub the beauty of the virtual word.  It is neither unpleasant nor unwieldy.  Nor is it fattening or illegal.  The story/tale/sojourn into the magical land of imagination is every bit as vital and satisfying no matter how it manages to reach your eyes and, in turn, your brain.  I would be perfectly happy if someone could invent a way to read from a holograph–imagine words floating in the air right in front of your face, no matter what position you were in or where you were.  Wow!

Dream on…and read.

Write The Familiar That We May See It For The First Time

•June 19, 2009 • 1 Comment

I had an uncle I never knew.  George Eugene Godsey was my Dad’s older brother (actually, he was the third of four sons, my Dad was the youngest).   Gene died in a plane crash, still a young man, at the very end of World War II.  I was born three years later.  When I was a teenager, my grandmother gave me one of my uncle’s favorite books, The Complete Works of Robert Service.  The book was published by Dodd Mead and Company (which operated from 1839 to 1990) and the various poems that appear in the book were copyrighted by them in 1907, 1909, 1912, 1916, and 1921.  Robert Service himself copyrighted the version I have in 1940 (Robert Service).  All of them are gone…my uncle, the publishing company, Robert Service, and the times in which they lived.  The words remain.

I love this book.  I love Robert Service’s poems both for the richness of rhyme and the wealth of substance.  He had a marvelous feeling for words, and used them to depict the characters and emotions of not only the folk who peopled his world, but of the various landscapes and societies that made them what they were.  He managed to express, most profoundly, his  feelings/demons/desires without blatant ’emoting’.  Rather, he told stories in rhyme, at which he was a master.   He had a fluid, yet precise cadence, which few poets ever accomplish.  Because I love what he’s written, and I know my uncle Gene loved the same poems, I feel a connection with a man I never knew.  When I’m moved by certain verses, I wonder, Did he like this, too?  Did he laugh at the same lines that make me laugh, was he stirred where the beautiful descriptions pique my imagination? 

This is what books do…connect us across time.  Whether its a book of poetry or a novel (genre is unimportant), words and images that move some people in one generation, will move some people in another generation.  We share, after all, commonalities of human emotion, regardless of age, gender, race, or era.     But…back to Robert Service.  One year, when he was still a young man, he grew disenchanted with the city (he was living in Paris then) and decided to take a walking trip through the countryside.  The journey took him from grime to greenerymeadow with blue sky, from hectic concrete streets to quiet meadows and industrious field laborers.  It re-freshened him only as fresh air and peaceful scenery and the perspective of conscientious workers who love the land, can.  farmer carrying wheatAll of it delighted him, and renewed something he had lost in the city.  In his own words: “The sense of wonder is strong in me again, the joy of looking at familiar things as if one were seeing them for the first time.”

That is what a good poet, a good novelist, a good story-teller does—allow the reader to see familiar things through different eyes, as if seeing them for the first time.  It is said that there are only ten basic stories to be told—or maybe that’s a dozen, I don’t remember.  The point being, there are only so many human conditions about which we can write, only so many story-lines to use.  It is the manner of telling that makes them different, the diverse characters, the twists in plot, the juicy settings.  A good poet/novelist/story-teller brings those familiar things/stories/conditions into fresh focus, provides us a new perspective, makes us believe we are seeing them for the first time.

Go forth, fellow writers, and wield your words with emotion, clarity, confidence and spontaneity.  Renew the world, and in the doing, re-freshen us.  You will then, indeed, span the generations.

Vulcan…not just an extraterrestrial with pointed ears and logic

•March 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The original Vulcan was the ancient Roman god of fire…volcanoe

Various types of fantasy (historical, epic, light, dark) tales aren’t my only interest.  I like, as well, any color of blue, most colors of green, and rust.  I like mocha ice cream (with nuts), strongly like thick barbecued beef ribs, and sweet corn.  Not healthy… but Yum.  I very much like bright flowers packed into a yard (that crowded English garden look of delicious blooms squeezed into every nook and cranny), happy dogs, clever birds, cats when they’re playful, my writing critique group, reading, good movies, archaeology, laid-back people, well spoken folk, and discovering odd facts.  Odd in the sense of being sometimes fascinating, sometimes thrilling, sometimes even horrifying.   The kinds of facts that catch one’s attention for the sake of the chill they bring to the spine, or the grimace of dismay, or a heavy weight to the heart. 

Another of my ‘likes’ is geology.  Earth science.  Stratigraphy, the terrestrial tome of time, packed with fossils and petrifaction’s and immensely interesting shapes that depict environmental depositions and structural events, both major and minor.  I once studied micro-fossils and micro-facies, slanting a microscope enhanced view through slivers of rock as thin as gauze, as fragile as lace.  Every color depicted, every microscopic form, even the size and delineation of particles frozen immobile in those slivers spoke/ revealed/detailed a moment in time when some sea creature died or a slow current tickled and shifted the accumulated seafloor debris.  You would never guess looking on an exposure of massive limestone, pale gray and grainy, that millions upon millions of minuscule microfossils died to create it…

As much as I enjoy that subject, right now I want to talk about volcanoes, a far more dynamic and terrifying expression of geologic forces.  Volcanoes—the very name is derived from that ancient god who oversaw bright brimstone and hissing heat.  The details of their formation is a theme onto itself–the deep earth forces, crushing pressures, awesome temperature tantrums, the formation of minerals from whatever constituents are present at that specific location, at that specific time…if you like details down to the molecules, there’s a tale worth the knowing.  But it is the end result that most folks find fascinating, frightening, and incandescently gripping.  When a volcano erupts, the manner of its upsurge/outbreak/explosion depends on its location and, again, the constituents from which its internal anatomy derived.  But what it emits–ah–there’s the grind, the gruesome grist of  its allure.  Lava , steam, dust, ashes, toxic gases, and large rock fragments called volcanic bombs.  Viscous and gritty, gleaming and obfuscating, spew and chunk!  Burning, suffocating, lethal, crushing—human tragedy in the making.  Human history is weighty with statistics of that tragedy, some of those captivating facts that bring on the chill, the grimace, the weighted heart:

In 79 A.D., ash flow, a heated fury faster than a banshee’s howl, shot over the terrain from Mount Vesuvius like a Dragon’s angry breath, a smothering blanket that fell over the city of Pompeii.  Ashfall followed, dark, overwhelming, asphyxiating, to destroy an entire city.  Every living thing was encapsulated in a hot shroud that froze man and animal alike in grotesque yet almost artistic renditions of their death throes.  The eruption killed 3,360 souls.  In 1631, in the same town, mudflows and lava flows from Vesuvius killed 3,500 more people…which proves that in spite of what happens to our ancestors, most people don’t believe that volcanoes or disaster can –like lightning– strike twice in one spot. (Photo borrowed from About.com website).

It isn’t always fire and ash that cause the destruction.  Half way around the world, historical Japan suffered loss of life when volcanoes disrupted the seafloor and generated shockwaves that formed gigantic tsunami’s.  In 1640, a tsunami consumed 700 people in Komagatake, Japan.  In 1792,  14,300 died in Unzen, Japan when another huge tsunami roared up from the sea after a volcano collapsed.  Read about recent Tsunamis here.

The toll is constant and disturbing.  Ruiz, Colombia, 1985: 25,000 deaths from mudflows (all that heat melts snow; snow melt + soil = mud).  Great masses of mud!  Some of that same affect was seen when Mount Saint Helens blew up in 1980 right here in the United States. There are interesting details about this eruption at this site dedicated to Mt. Saint Helens.

Mount Pele, Martinique, 1902: over 29,000 lives taken due to hot ash flows. 

A tsunami produced from one of the mightest eruptions in historic times—Krakatau, Indonesia, 1883—resulted in the death of 36,417 people!   Think that’s horrible?  In 1815, at least 71,000 people died due to a volcanic eruption in Tambora, Indonesia.  It’s believe that 11,000–12,000 were actually killed directly by the eruption; the rest died from starvation when ash generated by that enormous explosion created global climate anomalies.  1816 is known as the “year without a summer” because temperature changes caused crop failures and the death of so many livestock, it resulted in the worst famine of the 19th century.

Those numbers make the less than 5,000 people who died in each of at least 15 other volcanic eruptions around the world over the last 500 years seem paltry in comparison.  Not to the people who died in them, or to the loved ones who grieved for them.  We should never allow statistics to diminish our humanity….

Volcanoes: powerful.  Absorbing.  Horrific.  Lethal.  Yet only a few of the earth’s billions of residents remember the unforgiving nature of, well, nature.  Those who would snub/ignore/be bored by history, are snubing, ignoring, and depriving themselves of the knowledge of people, disasters, places that should be remembered for, if nothing else, at least respect…and to keep us alert as to the potential deadly nature of the world we live in.

For writers, natural disasters are plump with potential stories about the people who struggled and survived.  Even fantasy writers can pull the horrific aspects of the violent natural world into the worlds they create–afterall, unless you’re writing about a magical land where the reality is subject to unnatural manipulations, the physical/chemical/ elemental basics of how your fantasy world/terrain/land works will be the same as the one we live in.  Use what is real to impact and enrich your stories…but do it with respect.

Hero of The Dragons’ Veil…OK, S’not Only ME!

•March 9, 2009 • 1 Comment

Speaking of the Book…Galvistor discusses the lay of the land with one of his fellow characters.

My fellow Dragons and humans. For those who want to know more about the hero/champion/ lead of The Dragons’ Veil duology (No! I did not manage the substance of the tale without some aid) I have decided to introduce the human/male/man himself: Captain Breedyn Sol, First Captain of the Tarbaenian Army. The Captain has agreed to join me here on my blog, willing for my sake to be drawn away from his busy schedule. The Captain, you see, is now “Prince” Sol, having wed the Princess of Ambistron, my own patroness Princess Shaila. He stands to inherit/ accede to/take over her father’s throne, so no longer actually answers to the title Captain.

[Me] Thank you for your visit, Cap–that is, Prince Sol.

[Sol] I’m happy to oblige, Galvistor. It’s been awhile since we’ve had time to visit. How is your family?

[Me] Riastor is as lovely/exquisite/demanding as ever. Ah, what strength, litheness, grace of wing–!

[Sol] And your little dragonets, Sydostor and Runestar?

[Me] The beasts are not so little. They grow like weeds/wild plants/unscythed grain. At least they are no longer teething. I believe they are at the stage where it is safe for humans to interact with them.

[Sol] A good thing to know. My wife is eager to see more of them. So–what, specifically, did you wish to discuss?

[Me] I would like to hear more about your battles/fights/warrior skills. Particularly the manner of engagement against those nasty goats that continue to cause such havoc in our lands.

[Sol] The Borken? The half-men are nasty enough, hardly goats however. You already know much about them–“

[Me] Yes, but I wanted to hear about them from your lips/mouth/articulate tongue. You tell it so well, and s’not as if I’ve had that much interaction with the stinkers. Speak as if you are describing them for an–uh–ignorant listener.

[Sol] Very well. The Borken have no borders and infect all the Kingdoms like a pestilence. Until we learned about the caverns underlying Tarbaenia, they seemed to come from nowhere and go everywhere. The horde raids farms, scours fields of what little crops manage to grow–of course that was before the Veil faded and enriched the land and crops–and, worst of all, they are as likely to eat the human inhabitants as they are the stock. Damn–sorry–darn cannibals! As for fighting them, they don’t make real weapons of their own, just some primitive items constructed from whatever they find about. Most of their weapons are actually pilfered from our battlefields. Or they use their hard nails to rip a man’s flesh. The Borken usually fight unencumbered by armor, but the damn half-men are resilient. They take slices to the bone, but fight on until blood loss stops their hearts. Removing heads or limbs is the only means of stopping them. Nasty isn’t a strong enough term.

[Me] The Princess has told me that often you slip into a…what is it called? Madness? Fighting frenzy? The term escapes my mighty mind.

[Sol] You’re speaking of my ‘beserker state’. Blood madness is a close enough description. It comes over me sometimes in the heat of battle. Gives me incredible strength and speed–but it’s not a state I like to attain. I lose myself when it happens, lose my conscious connection to my surroundings. If I recall, that’s the very condition I was in when you swallowed me to bring me here to Isoladia.

[Me] Ah, well, a subject best passed over at this point…but, I do recall you had other reasons to dislike that condition? Situation. Mental fog.

[Sol] The blood lust is as much a burden after battle as it is a blessing when it turns the day. A few minutes of larger-than-life strength and killing ability give people expectations I’m usually hard put to fulfill under normal circumstances. I do not like to be taken as some sort of hero for the sheer sake of a moment of battle insanity. I always told Armon it was just a stress response. I didn’t like him or the men to give such an occurrence epic proportions. Of course, they always did it anyway. They still would if I was leading them as I used to.

[Me] But Capt–Prince Sol. Your reputation/status/standing precedes you at every turn. Now you’re helping to lead an entire Kingdom, and everyone views your deeds in epic terms. Did not King Harrimore determine that your capabilities as a warrior well suited you to your current position?

[Sol] I suppose. He had a most discomforting idea that only a man of violence could handle the violence that would infect Isoladia once the Veil failed. My background certainly encouraged him to view me in a more favorable light than he would have had that not occurred.

[Me] And the good King was right/correct/without fault for his insight, was he not? Why, you even brought improvements to Ambistron Castle. S’not as if the old architects/builders/ construction workers new anything about fortification.

[Sol] Indeed, the Castle was not a safe environment for the coming dangers. Oh, the stones of which it is built are strong enough, but strong construction means nothing without the proper configuration. Where I come from, the castle in its former state would be considered a palace. Beautiful, and a grand display of wealth and position, but not a fortification. I’ve seen tiny watch-keeps better built for war. We had to construct towers, big round ones to afford the flanking walls maximum firing fields for archers. The crenellations had to be altered to protect troops on the walls…let’s just say the whole affair required a good deal of redesign and renovation. Thank Ganyun it’s done and I can feel that Shaila and the coming babe are safe there.

[Me] S’good to know how you dote on the Princess.

[Sol] Dote? I’m not a man to dote! I love the woman, plain and simple.

[Me] Took you long enough to get to it.

[Sol] I had my reasons. I’m not about to discuss them in the here and now. Certainly not with a Dragon.

[Me] Why not? You discussed the details of your difficulties/complications/troubles with her when we drank Zacra in the Zacra storage cave. Why, you positively swilled your way to drunkenness for the sake of those difficulties!

[Sol] Swilled? You sorry excuse for a behemoth! I fell into a cask of the brew! Would have made a bull drunk. It certainly made you drunk. I’m the one who stumbled on you sprawled in that cave, singing at the top of your great billowing lungs like a stupefied sailor–!

[Me] We’ve covered the issues sufficiently. Thank you for dropping by, Captain. Time for such a busy man to return to his renovated Castle. See you soon…or not. Farewell. Adieu. Ciao.

[Me] Sniff. And that, my friends, concludes this session. I’ll let you know when another of my story companions is available for a visit. Next time I shall discuss our story with a less biased/Dragon prejudiced/touchy human.

The Fruits of the Labor…or…Eating the Words

•March 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

That Dragon just has a way with what he says…here he goes again: 

Dragons do not eat words/written expressions/ visual statements. No substance to them, you know. At least not in the caloric/energy/joules sense. Oh, they are a ‘meaty’ matter, but not in the manner of beef, fowl, or fish. Nay. Rather we Dragons generate words. Our phenomenal minds create clever contextual concepts. Engender energetic expressions. Spawn spectacular seeds of stimulating speech. Ah, well, you get the gist.

Words come naturally, nowadays, to us Isoladian Dragons. I have no idea how the beasts derived in other lands/worlds/places of authorial imagination communicate. For most of them I anticipate growls, grunts and roars are most often the vocabulary of the day. One cannot visualize much conversation, let alone accomplishment, from that. But to each his/her/its own.

‘Tis any wonder I prefer Dragons with a flare for vocabulary? Lexicon? A glorious glossary of gab?

Such as that young Dragon who wings through Naomi Novik’s books, Temeraire. Her historical fantasies are incredible. Or the old codger of cinematic fame, who managed to talk his way onto the big screen/monitor/display in Dragonheart. Even better–Jo Walton’s Dragons in Tooth and Claw are chatty, intellectual, perfectly worthy beings who thrive in a world not unlike that in which humans dwell. Now there are Dragons worth their salt (not to be sprinkled on their words, which, of course, we have already determined are not eaten).
Ah, so…why do I discourse on wordy Dragons? Because I must point out that we Dragons are late arrivals to the marvels of language. Dialogue. Conversation. We speak, and subsequently write, because we remain enthralled by not only the process, but the wonder of the capacity/ability/ aptitude of the deed! The novelty has not yet worn off. Humans attained the skill so long ago, they no longer truly appreciate the miracle of it. Oral communication is a phenomenon in itself (at least it is for us; how would you like to manage verbalization’s via a hard length of jaw over a forked tongue and eventually through fangs?) I for one doubt you could manage it. We Dragons do because we’ve no option, and we possess stubbornness/ persistence/tenacity without equal. And–we love the endeavor, the mental connection, the ready, heady interplay of knowledge.

The written word, however, is even more splendid. The rendering of brainwaves in visual form upon parchment/papyrus/dinner napkins. The embodiment of thought in a physical shape. Vigorous verbs. Artful adjectives. Noble nouns. Squiggles that, when appropriately arranged, expose the wisdom of the ages. The exultation’s. Every soulful sentiment slipping out. The prettiness…and the pettiness.

I ask in all curiosity: do you write because you love words, or love words because you write? You have probably not given it due thought, any more than the chicken when asked to determine whether or not it preceded its egg/shell/ fertilized embryo! Perhaps because I am a Dragon I view the question from a more simplistic perspective than you more complex humans. For us it is the former rather than the latter. And the latter is not without worth because exercising your ability with words builds appreciation of those building blocks. Those structuring stones. Those edifying bricks of ideas. Oh, as a poetic Dragon would say: good, better, best, never let it rest, until the good is better, and the better best. Even a youngling human understands this!

The written word is not only the building block of ideas, but of civilizations. Those who love words, write. Those who write, love words–or will learn to. Ergo–if you love to write, then teach/impart/ gift those who lack the skill so that they, too, may taste/savor/relish the fruits of the laboring pen/quill/keyboard.

I speak of fruit metaphorically, of course. Remember–we do not eat the words! If you swallow them, spit them out. If you spit them out, then spread them about. Water with feelings. Fertilize with enthusiasm. Watch your garden grow: sentence, by paragraph, by page. Articles. Novels. Laws. Edicts. Libraries. Universities. Cities. The world.

Ah! The very thought makes my gullets growl! Or is that my brain, formulating scrumptious, succulent, yummy words?