Saturday morning, I took MBW, the HA, and one of the HA’s little buddies up to the cabin of a close family friend. Situated on the bank of a snowmelt-high river, in the foothills of Mt. Hood, the cabin provides a sense of seclusion, aided by the virtual non-existence of cell phone signal, and the absence of televisions, radios, computers, etc. Entertainment consists of reading, playing board or card games, and conversation. Aided, perhaps, by the occasional adult beverage.
o, that was 2021, huh? Well, before moving on into what I’m sure will be a glorious 2022 — a year of unicorns galloping across rainbows, with bareback riding leprechauns scattering gold to us all — I figure I’d look back at what I accomplished in the unicorn-free year.
Greetings from Houston, the Big Strip Mall. Or, more precisely from a pond-side deck at our little AirBnB in the suburb Pearland. The contrast from the rainy (flood-threatening) Pacific Northwest to sunny coastal Texas is distinct and welcome.
Unless you’re reading out loud, the words scrolling through your head are spoken in your own unique, idiosyncratic voice. Pronunciation is at your discretion, an unregulated free-for-all. Any given word can sound exactly as you damn-well please.
Such individual variances can make such things as the pronunciation guides many fantasy authors place in their novels rather superfluous. Sure, sometimes you’ll try, going to the effort of mentally molding some invented name with two hyphens and an umlaut for the first few times you read it. But eventually you lapse into whatever pronunciation seems fitting to your internal editor. I mean really, how many of us go to the trouble of figuring out how Robert E. Howard intended us to say Bêlit? How does a circumflex (that little upward pointing diacritical mark) modify a word? I think it is supposed to make the “e” somewhat elongated, going up in inflection then down, sort of like “Bay-ih-lit.” But I’m not entirely sure.
September the Eleventh is, perhaps, a better day than most for reflection. Falling on a Saturday, yesterday, it also offered one of the last fine summer days of the year. For both reasons I took MBW and the HA out into the hinterlands, into the foothills of Mt. Hood.
The Lizzi household threw a little party yesterday, with attendees primarily from the neighborhood. We wanted to celebrate. MBW passed the mortgage loan officer national exam (by all accounts a rather devilish test.) I’m proud of her. I remember all the work and stress that preceded and carried through the Bar Exam, so I could empathize with all she endured.
We also celebrated (somewhat belatedly) the publication of the first book of Semi-Autos and Sorcery, Blood and Jade. And I suppose I was also prematurely celebrating the release of book two, Santa Anna’s Sword, due out in just over a week from the writing of this post.
The HA is spending a few days with her grandparents on the coast. Thus MBW and I have a childless weekend, unless you count the new kittens (which, soulless barbarian that I am, I don’t.) We planned to drive to Lost Lake, rent some kayaks, and paddle about with Mt. Hood in the background, casting its reflection upon the placid, mirror surface of the lake. The weather, however, had other plans.
You can, of course, wing it when it comes to descriptive writing. In fantasy and science-fiction that purely imaginative approach is unavoidable. No one has actually seen a dragon, for example, or a slime monster from Alpha Ceti. But if you are attempting to achieve a certain realism, it helps to have some experience with the subject matter you are describing.
Sing it like Aretha Franklin or scream it like Ted Nugent: Freedom!
Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans. And a pleasant July 4th to the rest of you. If I may, like everyone else, quote John Adams on this day of celebration, “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
No battle plan, or so it is said, survives first contact with the enemy. Life comes at you fast. Shit happens. Etc. The point is, you cannot expect matters to run smoothly and according to a predetermined schedule. Things change, even as you’re walking out the door on the way to whatever is appointed. Don’t be surprised.