alanajoli: (ransom)
I met Dylan Birtolo in Authors' Avenue at GenCon of 2006, where I was looking for novels by new authors to send off to a buddy of mine stationed in Iraq. We had a great conversation, and on the way home from the convention, I read Dylan's first novel, The Shadow Chaser. I was so engaged in the story, and in Dylan's world of shape shifters, I finished it on the plane. Since then, I've kept up with his blog (he's here as [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf), where I learned that he's also a sword-for-hire (he's a member of the Seattle Knights combat troupe), and I've had the chance to work with Dylan on a story for the Ransom anthology, which he edited. Along with his novels, his short stories are showing up in several anthologies and e-zines, from The Edge of Propinquity to the upcoming Boondocks Fantasy (DAW) and Human Tales (Dark Quest Books).

Without further ado: Dylan!

--

I often get asked where I got the inspiration for my novels. Yes, I grew up on tales of werewolves, and yes I have played a lot of D&D and am familiar with other lycanthropes. I also enjoyed the White Wolf storyteller series and have played Werewolf with other races thrown in (Bastet, Gurahl, etc). And while all of these played a part, these aren’t the core inspiration - they are merely influences on the main theme. The main theme comes from what I have learned about some Native American spiritual beliefs.

Let me back up a step and talk about storytelling for a moment. I specifically mention storytelling because I think this is true whether you are writing the story, showing it, or even running a game campaign. With storytelling, one of the golden rules that I have learned and heard many times is that you should know much more about your world than you ever show to your audience. You should know things about your characters, about the world, about the situation that is currently happening, and you should know what other characters not currently in focus are thinking and doing. Putting in all of these details will ruin the story. It will lose some of the mystery and some of the magic. It also has a very high chance of boring most of your audience to tears if they do manage to slog through it.

This is a rule that I have tried to follow, with differing levels of success, in all of my stories. I also try to make sure everything has a reason and even the fantastical situations follow rules. Rules are a good thing in stories. They make fantasy more believable. It makes it so that your audience is more willing to suspend their disbelief and engage in the story. If I am continuously breaking rules for no reason, it makes the story less engaging and my audience (readers, players, etc) is going to leave.

If you read through my novels carefully, you will see trends. Each of the characters (with one or two exceptions that I will get to later) can only change into one specific animal. You also notice that each of the shifters has an animal that they get along with, even if the animal is a wild, undomesticated creature. This pattern comes from one idea that I had – what if there were people who were blessed by an Animal Spirit?

One theme I have seen in multiple Native American traditions is Animal Spirits. There is the Great Spirit who presides over everything, and then there is an Animal Spirit for each animal. This spirit is the difference between Wolf and wolf. The animals in the world are the physical embodiment of everything that the Animal Spirit represents. The traits and mannerisms that an Animal Spirit has are demonstrated through their associated animal’s behavior. My thought was to create a world where people were blessed by an individual Animal Spirit. As part of this blessing, they could take the form of the animal and could get along with any animals that were representatives of their spiritual benefactors. In short, the shifters became champions of the Animal Spirits – part animal and part human.

This led me to the idea what would happen if an individual was not blessed by an Animal Spirit, but was blessed by the Great Spirit. It seemed to reason that whoever was blessed by the Great Spirit would be an overseer of all of the animals, and as such could take the form of any and get along with all of them. And thus, my main character was born.

None of this material is explicitly spelled out in my novels. But it is all there, in subtle ways if you know what to look for. The important thing is that it gave me a set of rules to follow. And following these rules made my stories more believable and more engaging. At least, I hope it did!

Thanks, Alana for letting me ramble. I hope it was entertaining, educational, or maybe even both!
alanajoli: (Default)
I wrote the subject of this post, then thought, "Wait, didn't I write something with that title before?" Took me a minute to remember, but yes -- an adventure for Living Forgotten Realms (Cormyr 1-3, to be exact). It's kind of fun to have written enough stuff that's out there in the world (albeit most of it modular adventures) that it takes me a second to place the title.

But that's neither here nor there. The title is intended to reflect what I've been doing lately -- as in, "Keeping my." Things never seem to slow down at Casa Abbott any more, and a couple of unfortunate events -- currently a cold, previously an epic saga I'll explain below -- have made things even more of a kaffuffle than usual. But, hopefully, I'll get back on top of the pile and start feeling just regularly-whelmed instead of over-.


  • The saga: Editorial assistant Tollers decided on Sunday the 7th that he was going to go out for an afternoon walk and just forgot to come home. For three days. Monday morning it snowed here on the Shoreline, and we were worried something had happened to him. So, we put out posters and spread the word among local friends. Bug and I wandered out into the woods behind our house whistling for him (the Editorial Assistants are trained to respond to a whistle) and polled the neighbors to see if anyone had seen him. Then, three days later, he showed up at the door, meowing to be let in as though nothing had happened. Whew! We kept him in for a couple of days to remind him where home was, but since then, he's been back out on his regular afternoon walks and has checked in more frequently than usual, as if to say, "I know I worried you. I'm okay. Feed me?"


  • I wrote a short story! "Shotgun Wedding" is out on submission for an anthology that will be edited by Matt McElroy, my editor at Flames Rising. Two of my crit buddies (Twostripe and niliphim) said that the biggest problem they had with it was that it ought to be a novel. Considering that it's urban fantasy, and Twostripe doesn't even really like UF, that made me very excited. So, I'm hoping to start a bigger project featuring those characters -- I wrote the short story with the idea that it might be a prequel to an urban fantasy series. While doing research for the story, I came across the Chinese saying "All that is needed is an East Wind" -- I think All We Need Is an East Wind would be a nifty title, so I'm going to use it (or just East Wind) as a place holder for now for the soon-to-be WIP.

  • I had a wonderful and too-short visit with my mother, who flew out from Michigan. She reminded me again that the only reason she let me go off to college at sixteen was that I promised I'd develop a way to tesser (I'd planned on going into physics), and I still hadn't fulfilled my part of that bargain.

  • The current set of autobiographies is coming to a close, which means I need to get a lot of editing done this week! I've got a fun bunch of writers as usual: I already have edits back from playwright Jean-Claude van Itallie (who teaches about writing and theater, meditation, and healing in the Berkshires, not too far from where I went to college) and friend of the blog Jeff Duntemann (who you should be reading over at [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann if you're not already). If all goes well with the editorial process, I'll have five essays in this batch (instead of the usual four), which should be a plus for my in house editor.

  • I'm also studying, through a correspondence course, fitness for pregnant and postpartum women, in hopes of a) passing a practicum in early December, and b) teaching for Dancing Thru Pregnancy, the group that I've been taking classes with to get back into shape after having Bug. The material is really fascinating, though I struggle with some of the information, since I never took anatomy in school -- it's a lot of new content to work through. I just need to get on top of the material before my test deadline!

  • Lastly: more copyediting. Bread and butter keeps a person from starving, no?



And, of course, I want to keep up with blogging again. I've got a great guest blog coming up from Dylan Birtolo ([livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf), and hopefully there will be some fun news on the Cowboys and Aliens front to share, since word on the street is that there's a movie trailer coming out soon...
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens - daiyu)
I had an absolutely fabulous time at Anonycon this weekend! I got to play games with several gamer friends and substraters: I was a student at a special school reminiscent of PS 238 (the superhero kids comic by Aaron Williams), Emily Post (yes, Miss Manners edit: apparently Miss Manners was Judith Martin, who wrote in the 1970s, not, in fact, Emily Post, who wrote Etiquette [via [livejournal.com profile] holmes_iv]) in a horror game, and an epic level paladin in a 4e game. [livejournal.com profile] banana_pants puts on a heck of a party!

Now I'm getting back to my regular schedule, finishing up a review for PW today and working on obituary writing and coding the autobiographical essays this week. Just a few thoughts in the meantime.

Paul Green interviewed me and Jeremy Mohler about Cowboys and Aliens II on Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns. Pop by and see what we have to say (and what we're hoping for the future!)

As the Mystery Writers of America delisted Harlequin due to their new "self-publishing" (in actuality, vanity press) arm, the debate about whether Harlequin is in the right is still going on across the Web. (The RWA and SFWA have also spoken out about Harlequin's new "imprint.") I would hope that people who read this blog know I'm in favor of self-publishing, and that I think there are great scenarios where it's the best venue for the work. [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann is, to me, one of the most sensible people on this topic, and I very much admire the work he's done through Lulu.com. [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf has done great work in both self-publishing and small press. Self-publishing makes it possible to market your own work when traditional publishing isn't working for you (for whatever reason).

Edit: Jeff commented below: "Your readers should understand that I've been as successful as I have as a self-publisher largely because I've worked in publishing since 1985 and did quite well at it, both on-staff for other companies and in command of my own. Now, in (slightly) early retirement, I have the time to pursue it with the energy that it requires. It's a lot tougher being a writer AND and a publisher AND a worker at a day job." He's right -- I probably should have mentioned that to provide the context. If I ever have questions about self-publishing, he's my first go-to person. :)

Vanity publishing is an entirely different creature. As Jackie Kessler wrote on her blog:

  • Self-publishing: author keeps all the money after paying expenses.

  • Vanity publishing: publisher keeps majority of the money and the writer pays all the expenses.


Given the information available online about what the new Harlequin imprint's process will be, I'm astonished by how many supporters it has. There are a lot of people reacting to the PW articles defending Harlequin as forward thinking and showing their willingness to try something different from traditional publishing. The thing is, vanity publishing is not new -- and a big, respectable house like Harlequin offering expensive packages to would-be and rejected authors while dangling the carrot that if their book sells well, they might bring it over into a regular Harlequin imprint seems unethical at best.

I do see that some of the publishing services that I respect, like Lulu.com and CreateSpace (with which I'm less familiar), also offer packages that would make me dubious, rather than the free option (which is the one I associate with the companies) where they just take the cost portion of the proceeds from each sale. I think I agree with Victoria at Writer Beware that one of the qualifiers of self-publishing is that you own your own ISBN. Short of owning your own POD press, however, Lulu.com and CreateSpace seem like the best options out there for DIY publishing. A company that's going to take your money for the same services a traditional publisher would front for you strikes me as taking the vanity press option, and it's a move that I'm sorry to see Harlequin making.
alanajoli: (Default)
Nope, not a contest from me today (though I should probably do another one soon). This is a contest from Ilona Andrews to promote her new On the Edge, a series starter paranormal romance. Not only is she doing a media blitz contest (linked above), it's a pre-contest to promote the Bitten by Books contest coming up next week. Double the contest, double the fun?

One of the things I found most interesting about Ilona's contest is the top prize: getting to be a beta reader (without the pressure of offering critiques) for six months. The idea of being a beta for a published author is getting to be a more popular idea, I think, and it's a trend that interests me. Brandon Sanderson posts chapter excerpts over at [livejournal.com profile] mistborn; Dylan Birtolo does the same at [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf. Lora Innes just introduced a Fan Flow group for The Dreamer on a subscription basis. I believe that Michele Bardsley gives her "minions" free content as well. The Glamazombies used to get a paragraph a week of spoliery goodness from Mark Henry, which I imagine will start up again in the future.

So, what is going on here? This seems different from the usual technopeasant wretch business. This is *pre* published writing being shared, letting readers in on the whole writing process. Any of you writers out there doing this sort of thing -- how does this impact your writing? Readers who are in on the pre-pub end -- how does this impact your reading? I think this is a trend to watch, and I'm curious who else has noticed it and what they think is happening.

In the meantime, check out Ilona's contest on the 28th at Bitten by Books.

alanajoli: (Default)
One quick and important news announcement: Ransom: The Anthology is going out of print at the end of the month. Edited by Dylan Birtolo ([livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf), the collection features my short story, "Don't Let Go," (which has, in short form, part of my treatise about religion, folk tales, and fairy tales), as well as a host of excellent stories by other authors. Get it before it can no longer be gotten!

It's been a slow week here at the blog, in part because I've been wrapped up in spending time away from the computer, relaxing. (That, in part, has been due to our air conditioner existing only upstairs, coupled with my reluctance to have a warm laptop on my lap.) In the meantime, I've been catching up on review books and library books I'm supposed to have finished and have fallen a bit behind on my own fiction writing -- some of which was supposed to be turned in to my crit group yesterday. (Luckily for me, the other two substraters with the same deadline also neglected to turn in their work, so I'm in good company.)

At any rate, while going through my library books, I picked up Everyday Immortality: A Concise Course in Spiritual Transformation, which I'd picked up off the shelf in the comparative religion section (Dewey: 204.2) and thought might hold some interesting thoughts for excerpting. Little did I know that it's similar, in some ways, to a Christian devotional book. The devotional readings I've done have primarily been short essays, or excerpts from the works of Christian scholars, coupled with Bible verses they illuminate. They're meant to provoke thought and consideration.

In Chopra's book, the intent is the same, but the method is different. On each page, he offers a sutra or koan, one simple sentence jam packed with possible meaning. He recommends meditating for five to ten minutes, reading a passage, then meditating on it thereafter. If it immediately makes intuitive sense, move onto the next sentence. Instead of being guided by an accompanying message, the sentences themselves are the message -- as is what the reader brings to them.

Chopra is a big proponent of what he calls the quantum mechanical body, and he relates new discoveries in science to a higher way of understanding the world. So, without further ado, a few sentences as thoughts for the day. (This guest blog excerpt is necessarily short, due to the nature of the book being excerpted.)

--

Subatomic particles are not material things; they are fluctuations of energy and information in a huge void.

Subatomic particles flicker in and out of existence depending on whether I am watching them or not.

Before my decision to observe them, subatomic particles are probability amplitudes of mathematical ghosts in a field of infinite possibilities.

When I make the choice to observe the subatomic world of mathematical ghosts, the ghosts freeze into space-time events or particles that ultimately manifest as matter.

My physical body and the body of the physical universe are both proportionately as void as intergalactic space.

The essential nature of my material body and that of the solid-appearing universe is that they are both nonmaterial. They are made up of non-stuff.
alanajoli: (Default)
It arrived! Today I got my shiny new contributor copy of Ransom: The Anthology. I have the honor of knowing three of the other contributors personally and am psyched to get to read their stories in print, next to mine. For those who are curious, the contributors are (in order): Anne Bujko, Alana Joli Abbott, Dylan Birtolo ([livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf), Charles Embrey, Jr., Lydia Laurenson, Alonzo Peeke, Summer Hanford, James Nate Turnbull, and Keithland Rye. It looks like a good mix of authors who are recognizable, particularly as frequenters of game conventions, and authors whose work is premiering here for the first time. I'll have to ask Dylan if these folks come with bios. ;)

At any rate, you now know as much as I do (except that I've already read two of the stories--so catch up!). Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the look and feel, and I'm excited to see the first anthology I've contributed to in actual, physical form.

In non-me news, Brian Conley from Alive in Baghdad has started writing about his experience being arrested in China. He's written just up to the point of the event that later caused him to be arrested (they weren't arrested right away, it seems), and it looks like he'll be doing several short articles to discuss his time there. Definitely worth checking out.




Reading
Hell Week, by Rosemary Clement Moore
Barnes and Noble
  Writing "Head above Water," and adventure for LFR, Cormyr (by encounters, sort of)
 
alanajoli: (wistful - autumn)
One small piece of advice: after declaring Apollo as a patron, do not then state that you haven't worn sunscreen since July, and therefore have no need of it at the end of August. This is foolish. And also a recipe for sunburn and/or sunstroke. Because the gods are spiteful. That's sort of their thing.

At any rate, it was a fun three-day-weekend of gaming and beaching and aloe, during which some nifty things happened:

1) Amazon and BN.com both have Ransom: The Anthology listed and available for purchase! My comp copy should be in the mail shortly, and I'm so excited to read it. A google search reveals no reviews as yet, but I'll keep looking, as given that it includes stories by [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf/Dylan Birtolo and Lydia Laurenson, who I know write good stuff, I think there's probably a lot of good things to be said!

2) Amazon and BN.com have both also made available [livejournal.com profile] nalini_singh's newest book, Hostage to Pleasure. Happy book birthday! In honor of that publication, Nalini is hosting a contest asking for descriptions of fictional characters you'd like to take hostage or be taken hostage by. Given that I've just been featured in an anthology on ransom... it seemed like a good match!

So, what fictional character would I like to hold hostage? For grins and giggles, I think I'd kidnap Bea from The Dreamer, which should be coming out in print as well as online sometime this month. Why? Honestly, because that would give either heroes Alan or Nathan the mission of rescuing her, and while I hate to be the bad guy, watching another rescue in action by that pair would just be too much fun to pass up!

What fictional character could I imagine holding me hostage (and still having it be fun)? After a brief discussion with my husband about unrepentant rogues in fiction we both read, we came up with Vlad Taltos from [livejournal.com profile] skzbrust's series. It could really go either way with him--either something really interesting would happen (as it so often does around him) or the whole thing would go disastrously for me. But there might at least be a trip to Valabar's restaurant, which might even impress a non-foodie like me with its exquisite menu.

If I were going to be held hostage in a fictional setting, I think I'd imagine the fun there being had either by the X-men (because the shenanigans that would ensue would also be fun to watch, and they're the good guys, so it would all get sorted out eventually), or by one of the fairy courts from [livejournal.com profile] melissa_writing's Wicked Lovely and accompanying books. Probably the summer court, as that at least involves dancing and fun--the dark court would certainly not be a place I'd like to visit, let alone have to stay for any length of time.

But right now, I should be being held hostage by my own work. I've got several projects up in the air, so you'll be seeing a number of titles circulating through my end tag/signature/footer/thingy over the next while until I actually start finishing some of them.




Reading
Souls in Silicon, by Jeff Duntemann
Lulu
  Writing
"Steampunk Musha: Riddle in Red" (comic issue #1; page count)


 
alanajoli: (tuam face - celtic mythology)
The last two days have been fuller than I'd anticipated, leaving me little time to post here. (Tonight, my poor vampire character in a Dogs in the Vineyard game was almost slaughtered by zombies. This took time.)

But I do need to post my lovely news! "Nomi's Wish" has found a home! In August, the story will be appearing in Coyote Wild, an online magazine of speculative fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that publishes monthly. "Nomi's Wish" is appearing in the teen issue, guest edited by Sherwood Smith and a number of teen readers. I am absolutely honored that they selected my story; "Nomi's Wish" is the story I've written that I still think is my best, and is certainly the one closest to my heart.

This also ties into Monday's conversation (and I'm thrilled how many people posted there with insightful comments!), because I didn't know that "Nomi's Wish" was a YA story. I didn't necessarily think it wasn't YA, but I was just thinking of it as a story about two sisters, most of which happens when one has graduated from college and the other has graduated from high school. They're both, in theory, adults. But the story of their relationship, and the parts of the story that delve into their histories growing up together, are the core of the story--and they must have hit a chord with the teen readers selecting the stories! I've sent "Nomi's Wish" to adult magazines before with no luck and I suspect that this is because, all along, I didn't realize it was a YA piece.

So I'm incredibly tickled with my August. "Nomi's Wish" will be on Coyote Wild, "The Best Things Get Better with Age" will be in Serenity Adventures, and "Don't Let Go" will be in the ransom anthology (which has a title I don't yet know) edited by Dylan Birtolo ([livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf). What a fun time!
alanajoli: (Alana Lionheart's lion)
What a year for me to be missing GenCon! Not only is the anthology, edited by [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf, where "Don't Let Go" will be published coming out. That would have been enough for me to pine over not going. Today, however, I found out that Serenity Adventures will be released at GenCon this year as well! Woe is me for missing the con circuit.

Folks who are going: if you see my stuff on display (even though neither is likely to have my name on the cover), could you take pictures? I'll be there vicariously through your digital images!
alanajoli: (Default)
There were links aplenty today: [livejournal.com profile] frost_light had an excellent post on writers and money, [livejournal.com profile] shanna_s told her readers how to help convince her publishers they should publish her fifth book in her series, and [livejournal.com profile] livelongnmarry has been a flurry of posts as the beginning of an auction for which the proceeds will go to supporting the continued legality of same-sex marriage in California. But other than mentioning them in passing (as [livejournal.com profile] tezmilleroz advised against in her tips on blogging), I don't have much in the way of commentary.

So instead, I'll offer another sneak peak into "Don't Let Go," which is going to be in an anthology available at GenCon. (Go find [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf/Dylan Birtolo if you're headed off to that convention. The anthology is going to feature some pretty neat stories!)

Read more... )
alanajoli: (lol deadlines)
...and here I am blogging. Figures, no?

The count so far is four obituaries left and three short essays, but at this point I've gone through all the research and made notes. In theory, this should make the work go faster. In practice, well, I'm blogging. Which is not getting work done.

I did get a good bit of reading done yesterday, getting me closer to finishing at least one of the three reviews left.

The scanning project... well, I may decide to bring it with me. There are quiet evenings on the trip. Last year, I edited the first quarter of Regaining Home on a computer that has since died--so all of my edits have vanished, though I still have the original work from Shawn. Now, a year later, I suspect I'll make different changes anyway.

My edits on "Don't Let Go" are about half-complete as well. Dylan ([livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf) was great at getting the edits back to me nearly immediately. His changes will make the story better, which is the thing I love most about the editing process. It's like putting rocks through a tumbler--they're prettier when they come out. (There are a few rare exceptions, and I suppose that might be true of the editorial process as well.)

Despite all that stuff still on my to-do list, it was great going back to campus yesterday and seeing people I've traveled with or shared meals with (and one classmate of mine who is finally a graduate) receive their degrees. It was an absolutely beautiful day for it (unlike my own graduation, which was rainy and cold), and I actually got sunburn on my face from being out in the sun for several hours. (The sunburn isn't fun, of course, but spending that much time in sunshine is certainly lifting to the spirits!) Which reminds me that I still need to pack the sunscreen for my trip.
alanajoli: (orb)
My main character is now twelfth level. Huzzah! We had a great fun weekend, with an official RPGA mod, a tailor-made DM's Mark, and outdoor cooking on the grill. We even started one of our games out in the back yard. How can that not be fun? (We didn't even lose any dice outside, which is the real challenge to backyard D&D.)

In other news, I got the trip itinerary for Greece and Turkey today, so the countdown can officially start. Here's what I have outstanding before I leave:

1) I have the rough of "Don't Let Go" out with Dylan ([livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf). I don't know if edits will actually happen on that before I go or not.
2) I have an edited version of "The Best Things Get Better with Age," my contribution to Serenity Adventures, out with Jamie Chambers. I don't know if I'll be getting any more edits back on *that* or not, either.
3) I have three essays and eight obituaries to write.
4) I have a scanning project that I had fully intended to get done before I left.
5) I was hoping to actually do some comic writing before I left, in case C&AII possibly comes off hiatus while I'm gone.
6) I've been asked to finish two more reviews for [livejournal.com profile] flamesrising and two for School Library Journal.

There are some other incidentals (like following up on contracts, etc.). But really? That's a lot to get done by the 20th. Along with plans to get together with friends (including lunch/coffee with [livejournal.com profile] jenlyn_b and [livejournal.com profile] amanda_marrone tomorrow--so excited!) and attending graduation at Simon's Rock on Saturday to see some friends get their shiny new pieces of paper that kick them out of being undergrads, I'll be cutting it close. Eight days left. Wish me luck!
alanajoli: (Default)
I have been a bad blogger this week, and for that I apologize. On the up side, not blogging has meant I did more fiction writing, and I finished "Don't Let Go" last night (clocking 6447 words yesterday for a grand total just over my total word-count limit; I'm hoping Dylan will have suggestions on cutting it down the hair it needs to be cut).

To celebrate finishing it, I gave myself the morning off and finished a book I've been reading: Standard Hero Behavior by John David Anderson. If you haven't pulled this off your library or bookstore shelf yet, don't pass go, don't collect $200, just head straight to the library or bookstore and pull it off. This is Anderson's first novel, and it's entirely satisfying--it features fifteen-year-old Mason Quayle, a struggling bard in a town where all the heroes have left, as he blunders into his first quest: a mission to bring the heroes back. One of the town's missing heroes is his own father, and the quest becomes as much about discovering who his father was as it does saving the town from impending invasion. The story is the traditional hero's quest spun on its head, and it's delightfully satisfying. You all know I've read several brilliant books in the past year: this one's pretty high on that list. It's been marketed as a children's book rather than YA (possibly because it's not very edgy), so get over to your junior fiction section and check it out. (And if anyone is on a list serv somewhere with John David Anderson and could pass on my admiration, I'd very much appreciate it! I've gotten too used to being able to compliment the authors I admire in their blog comments, I think. *g*)

And now, for a short excerpt from "On Fairy Stories" by J. R. R. Tolkien, in lieu of an original guest blog.

--

There had been much debate concerning the relations of these things, of folk-tale and myth. . . . At one time it was a dominant view that all such matter was derived from "nature-myths." The Olympians were personifications of the sun, of dawn, of night, and so on, and all the stories told about them were originally myths (allegories would have been a better word) of the greater elemental changes and processes of nature. Epic, heroic legend, saga, then localized these stories in real places and humanized them by attributing them to ancestral heroes, mightier than men and yet already men. And finally these legends, dwindling down, became folk-tales, Marchen, fairy-stories--nursery tales.

That would seem to be the truth almost upside down. The nearer the so-called "nature myth," or allegory, of the large process of nature is to its supposed archetype, the less interesting it is, and indeed the less it is o a myth capable of throwing any illumination whatever on the world. Let us assume for the moment, as this theory assumes, that nothing actually exists corresponding to the "gods" of mythology: no personalities, only astronomical or meteorological objects. Then these natural objects can only be arrayed with a personal significance and glory by a gift, the gift of a person, of a man. Personality can only be derived from a person. The gods may derive their colour and beauty from the high splendours of nature, but it was Man who obtained these for them, abstracted them from sun and moon and cloud; their personality they get direct from him; the shadow or flicker of divinity that is upon them they receive through him from the invisible world, the Supernatural. There is no fundamental distinction between the higher and lower mythologies. Their people live, if they live at all, by the same life, just as in the mortal world do kings and peasants.
alanajoli: (Default)
I kept a blog before this one, which devolved into mostly memes (with the occasional urging my readers to support the Save Tara movement, etc.). But I also had notes in that blog about Tam Lin, and since I'm working on the Tam Lin story (finally!) that has been kicking around in my head for years now, I thought I'd repost.

Part I:
This one is taken from a longer entry that also discusses marriage. I've included the bit about choosing a soul mate, taken from Tolkien's letters. )

Part II:
This one is about some actual research I did on Tam Lin back in 2004. )

--

Back to the present.

Notably, there is an excellent retelling of Tam Lin that I've mentioned here before: Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. It's one of my all time favorite novels (and is actually the story I remembered, rather than the ballad). But it's also quite different from the story that has been working in my head for four years now. It's time to finally write it down. (In order to tag this so I'll be able to find it again, I'll also say that I'm setting it on the Isle of Man, which is where "Nomi's Wish" is set as well.) In theory, I owe Dylan a rough draft of this story tomorrow, so no more percolating! Time to put words to page, and if not finish a whole draft in a day (because really, that's a little over-ambitious) at least send *something* in tomorrow.
alanajoli: (Default)
If Neil Gaiman asks it, how can I, as a semi-regular blogger who admires the truly regular bloggers who still manage to write published materials, refuse?

http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2007/02/and-in-time-it-took-to-say-that-neil.html

--

Also, since I roughly announced this in a comment on [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf's blog, Regaining Home is scheduled for release at GenCon.

Also on the Ramlar front, Allies and Adversaries, to which I contributed, will be released sometime this month. It also features work by Lydia Laurenson, one of the authors of the Scroll of the Monk supplement for White Wolf's Exalted and an old friend of mine.

(Lydia, if you're reading this--I'm going back to Greece and Turkey! I shall think of you in sunny plazas with warmly flowing fountains, as I remember your being fond of one in particular, but don't remember where it was.)

--

Pop quiz for the readership (limited though I'm sure it still is): shall I make an effort to post the Greece and Turkey adventures when I'm abroad this May/June? They'll likely have nothing to do with writing (as the study tour for which I'm serving as a TA is a mythology tour rather than a creative writing tour). As I recall, internet cafes were rather scarce, but if people are interested, I'll make the effort.

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Alana Joli Abbott

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