Garklein Recorder Project: The Little Bridge (21)

Here is the latest video from the Garklein Recorder Project, song #21 from Mario Duchesnes Method for the Recorder, The Little Bridge. I am not familiar with this song and don’t know if it is a folk song. If it is, I couldn’t find anything on Google under that title.

This is the third of the ‘real songs’ in the book. The other numbered items were practice exercises to learn the first few notes on the recorder and so I’ve omitted them. The recorder used is my Windsong rosewood garklein recorder.

I’ve added a page on this blog specifically for the recorder and furulya. I’ve listed the videos currently available in the Garklein Recorder Project with links to the YouTube video, and will be adding links to blog posts for that particular song. (For a couple of future songs from the book which are German folk songs I recognize, I’m planning on putting up information on the songs including the lyrics in the original German.)

If you are a person interested in learning to play the garklein recorder (or the soprano or tenor recorder, which are also in the key of C), get yourself a recorder and a copy of the recorder method (check to make sure it’s the edition for soprano/tenor recorders, and that it’s Part 1 and not Part 2), watch the videos, and learn along. If you are a homeschooling mom, you can learn along with your kids as part of your music education. If you have any questions about the garklein recorder, the recorder in general, or the Garklein Recorder Project, just ask, I’ll be glad to answer.

Duschenes

 

#CSFFBlogTour 3: Merlin’s Nightmare, the Review

MerlinsNightmare

The Review:

I just finished reading Merlin’s Nightmare a couple of hours ago. And what struck me about the book is that for Merlin, this is a time of making choices. He had reached a point where his life was pretty good. He and his wife had taken in the orphan child Arthur and were raising him as their own child, to keep him safe from the killer of the child’s family. In addition, Merlin and his wife had two children of their own.

But as Arthur reaches the age of manhood, Merlin is faced with the question of when he will tell the boy about his true heritage. His hand is forced when young Arthur, instead of going off to fight the Picts in the north, responds to an appeal to fight Saxen invaders to the south. Merlin must ride after him to prevent Arthur from presenting himself to the killer of his true father, and possibly being recognized by him.

When Merlin catches up, Arthur’s not pleased to learn that everything he believes about his family and heritage are not true. He goes on to win a victory against the Saxens. But Merlin recognizes that neither the Picts nor the Saxens are the most urgent enemy to fight. The Druidic forces controlled by Morgana, Merlin’s younger sister, are the most dangerous force and must be fought— even though those forces are lead by a werewolf.

The final battle is Merlin’s true nightmare, and is a thrilling bit of fiction. I will not reveal the spoilers, but simply say that the story of the Merlin Spiral trilogy winds up, and the Arthurian tale is set to continue in the Pendragon Spiral— something I am looking forward to.

The faith factor— Christian values are fully present in the story, but not in an intrusive or preachy way. It also rates high for being Catholic-friendly. The monks and the abbeys in the story are presented in a positive light. The Holy Grail is treated with great respect. And there is even a sequence when prayers in Latin are given! I did not notice anything that would present a doctrinal problem for the faithful Catholic.

Tour Links:

Merlin’s Nightmare –  http://www.amazon.com/Merlins-Nightmare-Merlin-Spiral-Treskillard/dp/0310735092/
Author Websitehttp://www.KingArthur.org.uk

Blog Tour participants:

How many of these blogs have you visited? I’m hoping to visit and comment on them all by the time the tour is over, and I heartily recommend that you take up the challenge and do the same. And after the blog tour is over? Don’t lose this list! When you are looking for blogs to comment on, this list is a handy one to use. Remember, there are those out there who comment on as many as 100 other blogs a day. I’ve been doing 5 a day, and recently tried to get up to 10 a day. And if you do that, some good blog lists are helpful.

Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams

Twitter!

I must here give my mea culpa. I said the appropriate Twitter hashtag for the blog tour was #CSFF. Actually, a better one is #CSFFBlogTour. Sorry about the misinformation.

On to the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop!

The next blog event on my schedule is the IWSG blog hop on the first Wednesday of next month. There are a number of Christian authors on the blog hop list, so it’s a good opportunity if you are looking for new blogs to comment upon. (Commenting on other blogs is the best way to get attention to your own blog.)

 

#CSFF blog tour 2: Writing a Book Review – The Existential Horror

MerlinsNightmare

How do you write a book review when you can’t see the forest for the trees? That’s a question that pops into my mind every time I do the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy blog tour.

Some people have this gift: they can read through a book and write a paragraph about it that sums it up exactly. And when I read it, even if I’ve read the book myself a dozen times, I say to myself, ‘so that’s what the book is about.’

Maybe it’s my Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder), but I just can’t see books like that. (Perhaps having Asperger Syndrome means I’m doomed to artistic failure— you know, like aspies Herman Melville and Vincent van Gogh were.) And so I have to find another way to do reviews. Because I won’t take the easy way out and cut-and-paste the official book description from Amazon.com on this blog— that seems like cheating, and since the blog tourers visit more than one blog, Everyone Will Know. So here are some alternatives:

  1. Use a quote from the book. “Morgana scowled at King Gorlas’s back as he dug into the grave.” (That’s from the Prologue of Merlin’s Nightmare. You can use a more extensive quote as well. Let the author do the work for you!
  2. Tell something interesting about the author. For example: Robert Treskillard is descended from a Cornish blacksmith and knows how to make swords.
  3. If you can’t see the forest, describe a good tree— some detail that caught your attention. Example: Ganieda, Merlin’s nine-year-old half-sister. A little sister is someone that you are expected to protect. But Ganieda, also called Morgana, goes over to the dark side…
  4. Kvetch about something. It can be something big, or something trivial. In the description of Ganieda, it says she has an ‘affinaty’ for wolves’. At least, the Kindle version says that. Should be ‘affinity’.
  5. Rate the book on some scale you create. For the Christian reader that might be on the degree and correctness of the Christian content. For the secular reader, it might be whether the Christian content was intrusive to the story. You might rate the degree of violence or of ‘edgy’ content. Or the presence or absence of zombies. Whatever’s important to you.
  6. Give your personal reaction. Did it catch your attention so you couldn’t put it down to make dinner? After you finished, did you find the book so delightful that you immediately read it again? Try to be very specific. Avoid the words ‘nice’ or ‘interesting’. Don’t call it a ‘page-turner’. Example: I’ve only read the Kindle sample as yet, but am attracted enough to the story that I just bought the book even though I’m low-income and really shouldn’t buy books— or anything else that isn’t food, electricity or property tax.
  7. Compare to another similar or dissimilar book— I did that yesterday, in comparing the Merlin Spiral with Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon. (As you may know, I’m an obsessed MZB fan, though ‘Avalon’ didn’t wear well with me.)

So there are my suggestions. I hope that helps the ‘book review impaired’. Do give some suggestions of your own in a comment if you have them!

Tomorrow: an actual review of the book. Which I have to read before tomorrow morning. There go my plans to fix the pasture fence today!

 

Robert Treskillard’s web site: http://www.KingArthur.org.uk

There is a contest going on there. You could win Excalibur! Or a Kindle!

View/Buy the book on Amazon.com ($5.12 on Kindle):  http://www.amazon.com/Merlins-Nightmare-Merlin-Spiral-Treskillard/dp/0310735092/

Touring the Blog Tour Blogs:

I visited every single blog on the blog tour list (given below) and I commented on the ones that had their blog tour posts up already. There were a lot of good posts. And a lot of posts by bloggers who could use some encouragement— perhaps from YOU. I hope that everyone reading these words will accept the challenge and go down the list, visiting all the blogs and commenting. Today I am going to be revisiting some or all of the blogs, depending on how far I get in reading Merlin’s Nightmare.
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams

#CSFF blog tour 1: Merlin Fatigued or Merlin Happy?

MerlinsNightmareThis is a post for the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy blog tour. Please rate the post above— 1 to 5 stars depending on your mood or your cat’s opinion on this post.

This month on the blog tour we are featuring Merlin’s Nightmare, third book in The Merlin Spiral by Robert Treskillard. And, yes, it’s about that Merlin.

And when you hear that I’ll bet you have one of two reactions: either you are saying “Hooray, another Merlin book!” or you are saying “Not another Merlin book!” Extra points to those who managed to have both reactions.

The story of Merlin and Arthur is a classic childhood tale of our culture, like Cinderella and Snow White and Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead. The child in us wants to hear these tales again and again.

But as we become adult we develop this dreadful thing called judgment and we can begin to see that not every retelling of a beloved tale is worth  doing.  Some are lifeless, and others distort a tale too much either to fit an agenda, or to be shocking.

An example of this, in my opinion, is ‘The Mists of Avalon’ by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which adds feminism, Neopaganism and the worst of the Sexual Revolution to the Arthurian legend, seen through the eyes of Morgan LeFay. When I read this book, I myself was a feminist and Neopagan and I liked the book for that.

But when my ideology became more mature, the book lost its appeal for me, and now that I am a Christian I have no desire to read that book again. Though I still devour MZB’s Darkover series in spite of its having the same degree of Neopaganism and feminism as ‘Avalon’. Perhaps it’s because Darkover has spaceships?

Back to Merlin’s Nightmare. Now, I have not read the books in The Merlin Spiral other than the free samples for Kindle— it’s fun making ends meet on SSI disability— so I can’t fully evaluate the book. So what is your opinion? If you have read the book, do you think it’s a worthwhile retelling of the Arthurian legend? Does it have something unique to contribute? Does it also stick close enough to the original to please fans of Arthurian fiction? Please do give your opinion in a comment.

Blog Tour participants list:

For the next 3 days— the 25-27 of August— these people will be posting about Merlin’s Nightmare. If the past is an indicator, there will be a number of gems among the posts. I intend to visit all the blogs on this list today, and comment on every one that has a ‘Merlin’ post already up. Bloggers, I challenge you to do likewise. I’ve met some really nice people on the blog tour, you can, too. (And there is no rule that you have to be a Christian to visit the posts on the Christian science fiction & fantasy blog tour— I read Christian fiction back when I was a Neopagan, after all. And now that I’m a Christian, I’m still willing to read fiction by non-Christians.)

Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams

 

Twitter!

Do you tweet? Isn’t Twitter awful? I’m @nissalovescats on Twitter. If you follow me, I’ll probably follow back. I make exceptions for commercial Tweeters.

If you are a blog tour participant and intend to tweet your blog post, I’d suggest using the hashtag #CSFF as some of the blog tourers are doing, and also #christianfiction. I will be checking the #CSFF hashtag for some blog tour posts to retweet— they will be picked randomly from the posts using that hashtag, so even if you think your blog tour post isn’t great I could retweet you.

Facebook!

Nissa Annakindt, poet, Aspie, cat person is my FB author page, which you are welcome to ‘like’. You are also welcome to request my ‘likes’ for your page.

Sci-Fi, Fantasy and the Christian Faith is a brand-new FB page I started. You might notice that the book cover for Merlin’s Nightmare is the current profile pic there. I’m hoping to use the page to get the word out on Christian sci-fi and fantasy books. It’s also a place to qvetch about Doctor Who and The Walking Dead from a Christian point of view.  If you have a book out that might be of interest, let me know how I can help. (You can help me by ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ the page.)

Diable! Swear-substitutes for Sci-Fi Writers

EoDicImagine this: you are writing science fiction. Your character swears. You don’t— or don’t want to do it in your fiction. What do you do?

One method is to translate the swears into a suitable science-fictiony language. After all, English-speaking people don’t get as upset at characters exclaiming “dreck” or “merde” as they do if those same characters had used the English equivalent (sh-t).

My favorite science-fictiony language to use for this is Esperanto— an international language created in 1887 by Polish oculist L. L. Zamenhof. Back in the early days of science fiction some authors mentioned Esperanto as a language of the future. Others had a language with names like ‘Standard’ or ‘Terran Standard’ that seemed pretty Esperanto-like.

Esperanto was used in the English translation of a German sci-fi series, Perry Rhodan. The Esperanto was a source of futuristic slang. In Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series, Esperanto is the language used by many of the characters and a few Esperanto words are used— such as bastardachfiulo, a construction that’s portrayed as ‘the worst thing you can call someone in Esperanto.’

There are two ways the clean-fiction writer can use Esperanto to translate swears. One is to translate the bad word directly— ‘the devil!’ being translated as la diablo! or simply diablo!  The other way is to find a non-swear-y equivalent of the swear and translate that. So, instead of ‘the devil’ you might say ‘the enemy’— la malamiko or malamiko. You might use both methods depending on the intensity of the swear.

Swear words may be divided into 4 categories— blasphemy, near-blasphemy, crude vulgarity, and minced oath. Let’s look at what can be done in each of these categories.

1. Blasphemy swears are ones that take God’s name in vain, or uses words like ‘God!’ or ‘Jesus!’ as swear words rather than as names to be used prayerfully and respectfully. No matter what your own religious beliefs are, this usage is considered swearing of a particularly morally bad kind within the English-speaking world. A direct translation of these words would be ‘Dio!’ or ‘Jesuo!’ A less direct use is to use the word ‘heaven’ as a substitute for the name of the Ruler of heaven. In Esperanto that would be ‘ĉielo!’ but to avoid the use of the circumflex (the cap on the letter ‘c’) we can use the alternative: ‘chielo!’

2. Near-blasphemous swearing consists of words and phrases like ‘damn!’ or ‘Go to hell!’ which are semi-blasphemous in that they, in speech, usurp the right that God alone has of deciding who will, in fact, be damned to hell. These words also are extremely uncharitable. Merely mentioning the name of the devil in swearing isn’t as wicked, but it still isn’t very polite language. ‘Damnu!’ or ‘Dio damnu!’ are words/phrases in the ‘damn’ family, while ‘iru al la infero!’ (Go to hell!) ‘infero!’ (hell) and ‘infera’ (hellish) are in the ‘hell’ family. Milder versions might use the word ‘kondamnu!’  (condemn!) as a damn-substitute. For ‘hell’ we might use ‘diablujo’ (which means ‘devil’s place’ or ‘devil’s location’). Or if we want to make it still milder, we can substitute ‘malamiko’ for ‘diablo’ and we will have ‘malamikujo’ as a hell-substitute.

3. Crude vulgarity can be relatively mild terms such as bastard or bitch (when applied to a human female), or it can be the hard-core swears, sh-t and f-ck. It also includes crude slang terms for private anatomical parts. When I was young, these terms rarely appeared in books, and the hard-cores not at all— not even in pornography books! We need to be careful about how we substitute for the worst swears in this category, out of charity for people who are trying to get over a bad swearing habit. For the mild terms, bastardo means ‘bastard’ and the still-milder term malbonulo (‘bad guy’) can substitute. ‘Bitch’ translated literally yields hundino (female dog) and as the term is more usually used, inaĉo (shrew), also spelled inacho.  For the time-dishonored phrase ‘son of a bitch’ we can use the word inaĉido or inachido which would mean ‘offspring of a low-class female.’ There are Esperanto words for the ‘big 2’ swears in this category— ‘merdo’ for sh-t, ‘fiku’ for f-ck. There is good reason to avoid these terms, even translated. For myself, I might use ‘merdo’, but never the other. For a less swear-y version of merdo, use sterko, which means ‘manure’.

4. When I was middle-school-aged I went to a wonderful Christian school, San Jose Christian, and had a teacher, Mrs. Stark, who taught her pupils about the evils of the minced oath. These swears are words which sound like a type 1 or 2 swear, but are not the swear itself. It’s bad because the person using it has actually got the swearing-intention in his head, but at the last second substitutes a more civil word. Examples are ‘heck’ for ‘hell’, ‘darn’ for ‘damn’, ‘gosh’ for ‘God’, and ‘Jeez’ for ‘Jesus’. You see the problem here. By modern tastes, these substitutes are absurdly mild and often laughable. And yet it still offends. Some Evangelical publishers do not allow these minced oaths— first because they still have readers who would raise ‘heck’ over them, and second because of the laughability factor.  A similar type of swear substitute are the words used on television when they are playing a movie or cable TV show that uses class 3 swears that the network doesn’t allow— we hear ‘fricking’ or ‘froozing’ for f-ck, ‘spit’ for sh-t, and ‘mother-loving’ for mother f-king. The annoyance factor with this is high.

In Esperanto there are also 2 affixes which can be used to create swear-substitutes. The prefix fi- adds the meaning of ‘morally shameful’ to any word. The suffix -aĉ0 or –acho means ‘bad’ in a shabby, broken-down kind of sense. With an Esperanto dictionary and a little knowledge, you can use these affixes to create words to order.

To learn Esperanto:

Lernu! website provides free Esperanto lessons: http://en.lernu.net/

A good book is Teach Yourself Esperanto: http://www.amazon.com/Esperanto-Teach-Yourself-Revised-Edition/dp/0844237639

Wells’s dictionary is a good 2-way dictionary: http://www.amazon.com/English-Esperanto-English-Dictionary-Edition-Christopher-Wells/dp/1595691499

Peter Benson’s dictionary is a comprehensive English-to-Esperanto dictionary: http://www.amazon.com/Comprehensive-English-Esperanto-Dictionary-Peter-Benson/dp/0939785021

When the SHINY Wears off your Writing Project— Write On

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Please rate this blog post above— one or more stars. I’m just fine with a one-star rating by the way— just rate, please.

When you have a new writing idea, it’s exciting. You can’t wait to begin work on it. You think about it all the time. You think it’s the Best Idea Ever. And then, in a few days or weeks or months, the shiny wears off. And writing more on that particular writing project becomes work.

What happens then is a big, scary temptation: you get a NEW writing idea for a whole new project. An exciting, shiny idea. Like your old one used to be. But now your old project feels like crap and your new idea becomes your one hope for a better writing career. But it’s a trap.

There are only 2 writing rules you MUST obey:

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.

If you want to finish your writing projects, you must learn to write even when your writing ideas stop being shiny and new and exciting. You have to keep writing when you feel the project is pure dreck. (Excuse my Yiddish.) You have to write, in other words, when it feels like work. And not the exciting work kids dream about when they decide to go to college, either. Sweeping-floors, scrubbing-toilets level work.

Right now, my current writing project, Expedition to Erileth, is still mostly pretty shiny. But my particular writing demon (his name is Bill) is that my writing projects can turn unshiny after only a day or two of work.

I’m determined, though, that THIS project will be finished whether it turns out to be good or to be pure horse droppings. Because that’s what I have to do to be a real writer.

(Note: there is one circumstance where it is OK to drop a writing project. That’s when it really is dreck— that is, when you have started writing a porno, or a KKK propaganda piece. If you get to the point where you know the project is morally wrong on that level, and you can’t salvage it by turning it into something different, then you may drop it. But even in those circumstances, leaving a project unfinished is a risk— so don’t make it a habit. You don’t want to end up like me with a long history of unfinished writing projects dragging you down.)

Cat note: the cat in the picture above is not new and shiny. She’s very old— ten years, which is quite a lot for an outdoor farm cat in an area full of coyotes and sometimes wolves. Her name is Cheney, and I got her election day 2004 along with a male cat I named Bush. Together they had a litter of kittens. I still have 2 of them: Reagan, a white, blue-eyed male, and Mariska, a Siamese-looking female.

Playing the Furulya – Hungarian Folk Flute

 

Today I did a video demonstrating my furulya, which is a kind of Hungarian folk flute. I got it on Ebay from my favorite seller, ‘hollaja’, also the source of my best garklein recorder. (They also have soprano and sopranino recorders at very reasonable prices.)

The furulya is pretty much the same as a pennywhistle or tinwhistle, and you can use the same fingering charts. My furulya is in the key of C. Here is a page with fingering charts for C and D tinwhistles. http://www.chimes.com/images/document/productinstructions/pennywhistle-fingering-chart.pdf

Since they don’t sell tinwhistle books for C tinwhistles, I’ve been using my recorder methods as a source of tunes for learning the furulya. I’m also thinking of learning to play the famous ‘Hungarian suicide song’ Gloomy Sunday on the furulya, though I’m learning it on recorder first since I have a few decades more experience on the recorder.

The whole furulya thing is kind of a distraction from my Garklein Recorder Project, in which I’m playing the tunes from my favorite recorder method on a garklein (very tiny) recorder on YouTube videos. I’m still working on that and have recently done 2 new videos for it.

Getting involved in playing folk music feeds my creative side, which also helps boost my writing creativity. Also it gives me ideas for including folk music in my worldbuilding.

Content Genres and Identity Genres

Kitten 'Little Stranger' in my cowboy boot.

Kitten ‘Little Stranger’ in my cowboy boot.

Today let’s have a little talk about genres. There are two kinds— content genres and identity genres. Each has slightly different rules, and the wise writer— or reader— will know about both kinds.

Content Genres

When you go to a bookstore, if they still have bookstores where you live, you see the genre signs— mystery, science fiction and fantasy, romance. These are all examples of content genres. Let’s take mystery as an example. When you pick up a book marked ‘mystery’, you expect certain things. There will be a crime— nearly always a murder— and there will be some unknown factors about this murder that need to be discovered. These unknown factors could be the identity of the murderer, the method used, or the motives behind the murder.

Another thing we expect from a book marked ‘mystery’ is that the mystery parts of the plot will be central to the story. If most of the book is taken up with the main character finding her One True Love, and the murder mystery comes in a distant second, we would call that a romance novel with mystery elements, not a mystery. If the focus of the book is on the main character’s adventures to other planets in a starship, and the murder mystery is secondary, we’d call that book science fiction with mystery elements, not a mystery.

With a content genre, the content is all we expect. We don’t demand that a science fiction author be a scientist or an astronaut. We don’t expect that all mystery writers are cops or forensic pathologists or serial killers. And we don’t think that romance writers need to have been married at least 10 times.

Identity Genres

The identity genre is a different kettle of lentils (I’m not in the mood for fish today). Think of going to a university (make it a good one, not one that’s gone all Marxist and weird), and taking literature classes. You might find a class studying fiction by women writers, or by black writers. Women’s fiction and black fiction are identity genres, though they are not standard publishing genres that have their own section in all bookstores.

One identity genre that has its own publishing houses is Gay and Lesbian fiction. There is no requirement in this genre for a specific degree of gay content. What is required is that the author identifies as Gay and/or Lesbian. Of course many of the publishing houses in this category also expect that the main characters in novels they publish be Gay/Lesbian. But fans of this type of fiction would accept it if their favorite Gay/Lesbian author wrote a book— or a series— centered on one or more straight characters.

Christian fiction is another identity genre. There is no required amount of Christian content— J. R. R. Tolkien is widely accepted as a Christian fantasy writer (except by those who deny that Catholics are Christians) even though there is no overt Christian content in Lord of the Rings. But what is required is that the author be a practicing Christian.

There are unsung identity genres. Back when I was a Neopagan, I sought out authors that were rumored to be Neopagan or Wiccan, or authors who included Pagan themes in an approving way that made me suspect they had Pagan connections. Even though there was no official Neopagan/Wiccan fiction genre, enough people were reading it and writing it that it constituted a small identity genre.

Likewise, these days there is an emerging category of Conservative/Libertarian fiction for those with these political views. Although it’s not a bookstore category, people with conservative and/or libertarian values are sharing the names of sympathetic authors, for when they need a break from the standard Progressive values of mainstream fiction today.

Identity genres can be misunderstood. People might think of the identity genres they don’t approve of as an attempt to ‘discriminate’ against male authors or straight authors or atheist authors, since their works are not included in women’s, Gay/Lesbian, or Christian fiction.

But what the identity genre reader is really looking for is the comfort of reading something by a member of their own group, that understands aspects of their life that mainstream authors might know nothing about. In the more counter-cultural type of identity genres, it also gives the reader a rare rest from fiction that insults or misrepresents their group— such as the vast number of mainstream novels where Christians are only present as evil, hateful villains.

Content and Identity Genres and the Writer

Most how-to-write books mention the importance of a new writer knowing which (content) genre(s) they will be writing in, and understanding those genres. Lawrence Block even gives a program for researching a (content) genre.

But I’ve never heard any advice for writers on the importance of making the most of your identity genre(s). So I will give some myself. Right here. Right now.

The thing about an identity genre is that readers of such genres are extremely loyal to their favorite authors. They also give authors in their identity genre an extra chance that authors wouldn’t normally get. For example, a Christian reader who wouldn’t finish a mainstream book that starts off with a boring first chapter will likely slog through the boring first two chapters of a book by a Christian author, out of solidarity. The same applies to an atheist reader and author or a Lesbian reader and author.

Think for a moment about your different identities— your ethnicity and nationality, your gender, your political affiliation, your religious affiliation. These identities are your way of connecting with potential readers with the same identity. So don’t hide these things.

Sometimes, of course, your collection of identities can be weird. Here are some of my identities: Christian (Catholic) and faithful to the Bible & Church teachings, person with Asperger Syndrome, rural person, woman, and Lesbian (of the chaste variety due to identity #1).  Certainly most readers of Lesbian fiction will spew verbal poison at me over the Christian thing (it happens a lot on my Traditional Marriage Facebook page). And a few Christian readers will be deeply suspicious of me. Then again, some people would actually be attracted to that combination.

 

Scrivener: Name Generator Tool

NameGeneratorScrivenerOne of the features of the Scrivener writing software I’ve been using a lot lately is the name generator. I’ve used it to come up with character names like Alisz Masurien and Aharon Brotman for my WIP.

I’m a very name-conscious writer. I’ve collected name books in English and German, and have made a list of Korean names from the Korean dramas I used to watch. So you’d think I wouldn’t get much good out of randomly generated names. But for all but the most major characters, I find this tool useful.

You can select the ethnic origin of the first and last names, and whether it’s a male or female name. It gives you a list of 10 (or more) names, and you can add the names with possibilities to a shortlist.

One warning— I don’t think you can trust this tool entirely. It can come up with some pretty odd combinations that I suspect (or know) are unrealistic. It can mix old-fashioned names with über-trendy new names, and if you don’t know the culture involved you might not suspect.

This is what to do about that: make a list of 3-5 name possibilities, and then Google each name, and also Google to find reliable name information. For example, if you want a French name, seek out some good French name websites. If an Israeli name, try Israeli name web sites. If you find your last name and first name on sites like this and no one is saying ‘no one would name their kid this’, it’s probably a good name.

Another good use of the name generator is to create temporary names for minor characters. If you keep a notepad by your computer (you should), you can note down the generated name, a hint about the character it’s attached to, and then when you have time you can research a better name.

Have you ever used a name generator to create character names? How did it work for you? What other methods do you use to create character names?

Low-Carb Mini-Crullers (Doughnuts)

LCdoughnuts2When I first started living on my own,  one of my favorite things to bake was cream puffs. It was a reasonably simple recipe involving eggs, water, butter and flour. I made cream puffs as a snack. Sometimes I put onion powder in the batter to make them like onion rolls. (Never onion salt since salt would stop it from poofing up.) I’ve since discovered that the dough for the cream puff recipe is the same as that used in French crullers, a kind of doughnut I love.

CreamPuffs

Now that I’m low-carb, the flour in the cream puffs are off-limits. So I sought a flour-substitute. On the internet I found a recipe for ‘Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix’ that might do the trick.

Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix

1   and 2/3 cup ground almonds (almond flour)

2/3 cup vanilla whey protein powder (sugar-free, low-carb brand), or plain whey protein powder

2/3 cup vital wheat gluten

Mix ingredients well, store in airtight container at room temperature. 1/3 cup has 3.3 carbs, 14.3 protein, 10.3 g fate, and 162.9 calories.

LCdoughnutsSo, I tried the recipe today. I made 1/3 of a batch to test it out. It turned out to be more of a batter than a dough using the low-carb flour substitute. And it didn’t poof out very much at all. Also, I probably should have baked it longer. I was worried it would burn since the mini-doughnut pan put the dough in smaller portions. (In the original cream puff recipe, 1/3 of a batch would be 2 cream puffs.)

Nissa’s Low-Carb Mini-Crullers

Just less than 3 tablespoons butter (2 T plus 1/2 T plus 1/3 T)

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup flour substitute (Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix in this case)

1 egg

Add butter to water in saucepan. When butter is melted, add flour-substitute all at once and stir vigorously until mixture no longer sticks to the sides of pan. (Doesn’t happen with the bake mix I used.) Remove from stove, cool slightly. Add egg and beat.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Put batter in mini-doughnut pan (available from Amazon.com). You could also use a muffin pan and make 2 cream puffs. Bake 20 minutes at 450 F, then reduce to 325 F and bake 20 more minutes. (I reduced the time to 10 min at each temp because of small size of mini-doughnuts.) Remove from baking sheet and cool, sprinkle with Splenda or other low-carb sweetener if desired.

So, that’s my current version of mini-crullers. In my next experiment I may try 1/2 baking mix and 1/2 vital wheat gluten to see if that will make it poof better. Also I think I filled the slots of the pan a touch too full. Next time I’ll try less.

I should note that even though the mini-crullers didn’t turn out quite like I hoped, I ate half the batch and am very tempted right now to finish off the rest instead of finishing this blog post. I should also note, for those who didn’t catch it— the Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix contains vital wheat gluten and thus is NOT gluten-free, so if you have a health condition for which gluten is a problem, you’ll have to try something else.

SettlementCookBookThis is the cookbook the original cream puff recipe came from. My mother got this cook book around 1947. She gave it to me around 1980. It’s my go-to cookbook when trying to cook weird things like lamb’s liver or salsify. I also used it to concoct a blintz recipe I posted earlier in this blog.

OTHER NEWS: Yesterday I started a new Facebook page called ‘Sci-Fi, Fantasy and the Christian Faith’. I thought it would be of interest to the many Christian sci-fi and fantasy authors I know and their fans. It’s at https://www.facebook.com/ChristianSFF2 if you are interested.

I’ve also started work on the first (I hope) novel in a series set on the planet Erileth (a planet I’ve been developing for years). Main character in this adventure is Niko Alden from the planet Terranova. He’s handsome, an interplanetary hero… and he’s Gay. His mission will be to establish a Terranovan base on Erileth, fight off spies and agents from the totalitarian Soviet government of Terraprima, and he’ll also be dealing with coming to faith in Christ. I figure this story should be kryptonite (or antimatter) to any publisher, Christian or secular, that I’ve ever heard of, so it’s probably going to be self-published. Which means I’m going to have to design my own sucky book cover.