alanajoli: (Default)
I recently happened across a discussion of the old "Appendix N" from Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, published in 1979. The appendix is a list of recommended reading from Gary Gygax, particularly books that inspired the game. I realized that while some of the inclusions on the list are authors I cut my fantasy teeth on (Norton, Tolkien), others I've never read, and still others I wonder about holding up to my current taste for fantasy.



I tried to create a checklist from one of the various list internet sites already populated with books, and many of these titles weren't included--which may say something about their lifespan. Barring a handy checklist, here's the listing.
  • Anderson, Poul: THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS; THE HIGH CRUSADE; THE BROKEN SWORD
  • Bellairs, John: THE FACE IN THE FROST
  • Brackett, Leigh
  • Brown, Frederic
  • Burroughs, Edgar Rice: "Pellucidar" series; Mars series; Venus series
  • Carter, Lin: "World's End" series
  • de Camp, L. Sprague: LEST DARKNESS FALL; THE FALLIBLE FIEND; et al
  • de Camp & Pratt: "Harold Shea" series; THE CARNELIAN CUBE
  • Derleth, August
  • Dunsany, Lord
  • Farmer, P. J.: "The World of the Tiers" series; et al
  • Fox, Gardner: "Kothar" series; "Kyrik" series; et al
  • Howard, R. E.: "Conan" series
  • Lanier, Sterling: HIERO'S JOURNEY
  • Leiber, Fritz: "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series; et al
  • Lovecraft, H. P.
  • Merritt, A.: CREEP, SHADOW, CREEP; MOON POOL; DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE; et al
  • Moorcock, Michael: STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; "Hawkmoon" series (esp. the first three books)
  • Norton, Andre
  • Offutt, Andrew J.: editor of SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III
  • Pratt, Fletcher: BLUE STAR; et al
  • Saberhagen, Fred: CHANGELING EARTH; et al
  • St. Clair, Margaret: THE SHADOW PEOPLE; SIGN OF THE LABRYS
  • Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; "Ring trilogy"
  • Vance, Jack: THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD; THE DYING EARTH; et al
  • Weinbaum, Stanley
  • Wellman, Manley Wade
  • Williamson, Jack
  • Zelazny, Roger: JACK OF SHADOWS; "Amber" series; et al
How many have you read? How many of those would you still recommend? What books would you recommend in their places?

I think one of the series that most heavily impacted my D&D style of play was definitely Tamora Pierce's "Lioness Quartet." Possibly also Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing with Dragons and Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword. I'd include those on any list of recommended fantasy for role playing gamers.
alanajoli: (Default)
I wanted to post this on Monday, but, well, I had a deadline yesterday and had to finish reading a few series of review books at different grade levels before I could justify posting. So, just pretend this is my Valentine's Day post, ok?

You know that I read a lot of romance novels, and that I love the genre. You may also remember that we're reading the Safehold series as a family, and we're currently in the middle of By Schism Rent Asunder, the second book in the series. As I'm sure you've guessed, the Safehold books are not romance novels. However, like a lot of my favorite SF and F books, there's definitely romance inside the rest of the court intrigue and derring-do. But I think this is one of the first times I've seen compelling romance minus the angst that normally accompanies it.

I don't use angst as a pejorative here. As I posted on one of [livejournal.com profile] sartorias's recent Book View Cafe entries, I love me some romantic angst. My two top favorite novels of all time are both YA, and both involve the main character loving someone who she can't believe actually loves her back (which causes a heart-wrenching moment or two along the way!). In one case, the heroine doesn't actually know she's in love -- and that he might return her affections -- until she realizes she's put herself in a situation where it looks like she's betraying him utterly, and she might lose him after all. In the other, the girl knows very well that she's in love, but due to the hero's sudden absence, and his return in the company of her sister, she believes that, like in everything else in her life, her sister has proven better than she has. This opens her up to temptation by a faerie queen -- because how else will she win her heart's desire? And, of course, both have happy endings. (I'm not revealing the titles here, because these moments happen right at the end of both books, and they're complete spoilers as such. Some of you, of course, may recognize the moments. Or remember my listings of top books from earlier posts.)

Graceling by Kristin Cashore has some moments like this, also, with the exception that heroine Katsa thinks that, to have the life she wants, she has to reject all romance. Po, the hero who loves her, has to convince her that she can have romance without sacrificing herself. This may seem like a completely different moment, but the reconciling that Katsa goes through to decide what being in love would mean for her selfhood had that same kind of poignancy for me that the other stories did.

As much as I love those moments, there's no denying that they're angsty. They're full on teen torment, questioning of the self and one's relationship with the world. But that kind of angst isn't reserved for teens or YA novels. What would a good romance novel be without that same kind of questioning? If the hero and heroine knew from the very beginning that they were going to reach their happily ever after -- the way we readers do -- romance novels would be a lot shorter. The barriers that get thrown up between the hero and the heroine could be battled together, because hey, that's what teamwork is for! There are rare romance novels where this happens, but most of the fun in the romance novels I read is the will-they, won't-they push and pull, especially when it's driven by concerns that make a lot of sense -- or the world threatening to implode -- rather than miscommunication and stupid decisions.

Of course, in a SF or F epic, the romance isn't the center, and it doesn't need to take up the same amount of space. It can happen in small moments (there's a gorgeous moment in The Lord of the Rings when Aragorn notices that Eowyn is in love with him and he realizes that he has to reject her -- it's slipped in there, very quietly, and amounts to about one line of text; the love story between Eowyn and Faramir is equally quiet and lovely). It can be the hinge around which the final happy ending swings. Relationships can go through various possible incarnations or progress from fresh young love to passion to comfort (the Inda books follow a lot of relationships through various incarnations and succeed at showing love at many stages, for example).

Or romance can be a digression from the major plot that enhances the lives of the characters -- and makes readers like me squee just a little bit. This is the case with the romance currently transpiring in By Schism Rent Asunder. Two characters (unnamed for those who haven't read the series) have decided on a political marriage before meeting. There's already initial mutual respect, or the marriage would not have been the preferred form of alliance. When the characters do meet, there's instant attraction -- and, thus, relief. The marriage is the right thing to do: there's a new hope that they may actually enjoy it, as well. They each brooch the potential for romance a little tentatively -- the hesitation and uncertainty that the other may not feel the same spark -- but it's quickly acknowledged that, yes, the spark is there. And thus they can progress, without all of the will-they, won't-they push and pull, because the relationship has already been committed to. I don't think I've ever seen a romance done quite this way before, and while I'm sure that there may be quarrels and tempests in the future (they've only just begun on the relationship where I am in the story), I think the way their relationship has been presented thus far makes me as a reader fall in love with them just a little bit. And that, to me, is a great mark of success, whether or not the happily ever after is looming at the end.
alanajoli: (Default)
Here's the press release from the Mythopoeic Society. I'm reading in two categories -- the MFA for adults and children. I think the lists are pretty good. There's only one major oversight from the adult category that I wish had made it, but I'll keep hoping that the author's next work will be a top choice. (And, in theory, eligibility runs for two additional years, so it can always be nominated again.)

Without further ado, the news! )
alanajoli: (Default)
Getting ready for the trip, I'm back to reading Barfield, hoping I'll be able to finish it before I meet up with the students in the airport, since they'll all be much fresher with it than I am. I've also been thinking a lot about subcreation from the perspective of Tolkien, since that's one of the topics I'm writing about soon for Journey to the Sea, and have been pondering my long WIP (the one I just started randomly and haven't yet gotten back to), in which some writers can exert their will over reality.

All of these thoughts were in my head when I picked up Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin on my lunch break today, and the first few paragraphs hit home, so I wanted to share them here. I've long admired Le Guin's work (one of my favorite essays in college was a response, in Le Guin's style, to "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"), though I've not read as much of it as, perhaps, I should have. At any rate, here is the opening; I hope you'll see why it intertwined so easily with my thoughts.

--

I know who I was, I can tell you who I may have been, but I am, now, only in this line of words I write. I'm not sure of the nature of my existence, and wonder to find myself writing. I speak Latin, of course, but did I ever learn to write it? That seems unlikely. No doubt someone with my name, Lavinia, did exist, but she may have been so different from my own idea of myself, or my poet's idea of me, that it only confuses me to think about her. As far as I know, it was my poet who gave me any reality at all. Before he wrote, I was the mistiest of figures, scarcely more than a name in a genealogy. It was he who brought me to life, to myself, and so made me able to remember my life and myself, which I do, vividly, with all kinds of emotions, emotions I feel as strongly as I write, perhaps because the events I remember only come to exist as I write them, or as he wrote them.

but he did not write them. He slighted my life, in his poem. He scanted me, because he only came to know who I was when he was dying. He's not to blame. It was too late for him to make amends, rethink, complete the half lines, perfect the poem he thought imperfect. He grieved for that, I know; he grieved for me. Perhaps where he is now, down there across the dark rivers, somebody will tell him that Lavinia grieves for him.
alanajoli: (Default)
I wish I had had my camera as we hiked up East Rock in New Haven for the sunrise service this morning. I often comment on [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume's blog about how I really enjoy seeing the world through her photographs. This morning, I had the experience of watching the sun rise, first over a hill in the distance, and then over a stretch of clouds that formed a second horizon, and thinking how I felt like the beauty of the world was coming into focus. It's hard to look at the sunrise for any length of time, because it becomes too bright quickly -- the eyes can't handle so much light. And if you twist the metaphor and think of it literally -- thinking of light for what it means rather than the science behind what it is -- it's nice to think that there can be moments when we are faced with so much light that we're dazzled, that our breath is stolen away.

Easter for me is a day of hope -- of the restoration of hope. I always come away from Easter with a feeling like the year is new, things are beginning all over again. It doesn't surprise me that there are so many mythic parallels, and that Easter itself takes place during a spring festival. Tolkien and Lewis talked about the correlation of the spring myths (Robert Graves's "year king" tradition; Osiris's battle through the underworld to come back from the dead), and Tolkien convinced Lewis to think of them as a sort of rehearsal for Christianity, in which the myths became fact. (I've found a description of this conversation most recently in From Achilles to Christ by Louis Markos, which I discovered in a Google search and obviously must read in its entirety.) The emotional content of those stories is certainly a unifying factor: what we believed was dead has returned to life. Hope has returned, and we are reborn. The sun has crested the horizon and filled our world with such brightness that our eyes overflow with it and we must look away.
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens - daiyu)
There have been a couple of really interesting posts lately, both in livejournals I read ([livejournal.com profile] irysangel and [livejournal.com profile] sartorias) and in other blogs (Genreville) about what we carry with us as readers when we approach a work of fiction. Sometimes we as readers demand a happy ending, or "good writing" (whatever that means). Sometimes we have expectations that a work of fiction will stay true to its beginnings--in the case of John Leavitt's interesting Genreville post, that means urban fantasy that sticks close to the private investigator noir tradition, rather than fantasy roots. While a novel may not demand decisions from its readers like a role playing game does, there's a high degree of interactivity even in the printed page. Readers supply a whole lot of what goes on in a scene. My mother used to tell me she had trouble reading as a kid, because she'd imagine so many details of each scene, it would take her forever to get on with the reading instead of the imagining.

It makes me wonder a bit about the nature of sub-creation, which I've been reading and writing about a bit lately (thanks to the article [livejournal.com profile] randyhoyt had me ponder about earlier this month). Tolkien's description of sub-creation is quite clearly the act of an artist, or the person involved in the act of presenting a secondary creation to an audience. But I wonder, as that audience, how much sub-creation effort we expend ourselves. I've heard some writing teachers talk about students who see words simply as data. They take in the information, but don't do what my mother did as a child--they bring no imagination to it. I suspect that good writing--that a good work of sub-creation--requires not only investment from the artist, but from the audience as well. The give and take required there is a much more intricate balance than people who write off genre fiction on the whole (or really, any form of art--like the abstract visual works that I can't really claim to understand, or some forms of poetry that I don't "get") allow for.
alanajoli: (british mythology)
You may notice that I've been missing all week. This is because I noticed something about having [livejournal.com profile] jimhines's tag at the end of my posts: if I didn't get enough work done, I was too embarrassed about my lack of progress to post a blog entry. This meant I tried to get busy writing, but it's very hard to quantify work on an adventure when you're working on several encounters at once but not actually finishing any of them.

Now it's Friday (for another 8 minutes), and I wanted to get a guest blog/excerpt up before I missed yet another week. I've been reading a lot of great metaphysical fiction lately (which I intended to blog about, but the aforementioned module progress got in the way), one of which is an excellent short fiction collection by Jeff Duntemann (here on lj as [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann), who has been a friend and mentor of mine for eight years now. Jeff has a wonderfully wide scope of interests, and I was thrilled to first start reading his fiction in the April 2002 issue of Asimov's, which featured his novella "Drumlin Boiler." What struck me about that story was the remarkable the depth of subcreation (to steal a concept from Tolkien), not only in Jeff's writing, but through the characters as well. His short story "Roddie" (which may not have been published formally as yet, but he was kind enough to send to me) amplified this feeling: the characters themselves are creators, and as such, are echoes of a Creator. Since I'm a fan of metaphysics in my fiction, it should come as no surprise to you that I quickly became as big a fan of Jeff as a writer as I am of Jeff as a person.

So when he asked me to read his new collection Souls in Silicon: Tales of AI Confronting the Infinite, of course I said yes! (The link there is to the paperback; the collection is also available as an e-book in multiple formats--.doc, .pdf, .rtf, .lit, .lrf, .prc, and .html--with no DRM by clicking here.) I'm planning to do a full discussion of the pieces, either on the blog or in a review, so you'll certainly hear more about the collection. For today, however, I just two quick excerpts from the first story in the collection, "The Steel Sonnets," which I think don't spoil anything from the plot too much, and are particularly relevant to what I do here in the blog: they discuss language and myth, from the point of view of a robot designed to communicate on a mythic level.

--

Excerpt 1:
Speed had begun bubbling again. "I can't wait. I tell you, Launce, I can't wait! To have something--someone--to reach for, beyond the fetters of words and miserable, ever-changing conventions of language! To bend and mold the great universal life-myths in my hands and pound them into bridges of communication between two races linked only by the common bridge of life! I will be of use. Imagine, Launce, I will be of use!"

Excerpt 2:
"Use words, Speed," Launce said.

"Words! What good are words? Words are a fallacy, a sham set up by one intelligent being to bilk and confuse another. Words mean whatever the creature using them wishes to mean, true or false. Give me a mythic consciousness, and I will tell you what a creature really means."

"All I have are words."

Speed said nothing in reply.

Calendars

Sep. 4th, 2008 09:54 pm
alanajoli: (sisters-sun)
This is about the time of year when it occurs to me that I actually need to start marking time in 2009. In part, this is because our library has Sunday hours for the school year, so we volunteer to work shifts on Sundays, usually one a month or so, right around now. To do this well, it requires actually having some idea about how the next year is going to work--or at least making sure you mark down in advance what dates it is you've volunteered for.

When I was at MythCon, I just barely missed being able to purchase a Ted Nasmith calendar for 2009. (Nasmith is known for his Tolkien art, which is, in my opinion, fantastic.) They'd sold out on the first day, which is no real surprise, and it is not yet available in stores. Strike out on that one. Yesterday, however, I discovered that Lindsay Archer (whom I've raved about numerous times) has a calendar available at her DeviantArt site. Eureka! Now I can actually plan ahead for those deadlines I hope to have in 2009.

For those of you with writing deadlines: how do you keep track of them? I started with a planner and ended up finding that a wall calendar, where I can see a month at a shot, ended up working better for me. Any ingenious organizational strategies out there I haven't contemplated?




Reading
Souls in Silicon, by Jeff Duntemann
Lulu
  Writing
"Head above Water," and adventure for LFR, Cormyr (by portion)


 
alanajoli: (christianity - padre breen)
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that most of you are aware of the conversation between C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien that was one of the final steps of Lewis in Lewis's conversion to Christianity. One of the most interesting things to me about that conversation was always Tolkien's notion of Christianity being Truth made Fact. The idea Tolkien proposed was that much of the body of mythology was a practice run for the story of Christ.

It is, therefore, not Earth-shattering to me to hear that the idea of a three-day resurrection may have predated the story of Jesus of Nazareth. A tablet, called "Gabriel's Revelation," was found about ten years ago, but it's just now making the news, may feature a scene where Gabriel commands a revolutionary named Simon to rise three days after he was dead. It also implies that the messiah will rise three days after his death. The scholars discussing it now are saying this means that the relationship between Judaism and Christianity needs to be reevaluated. Apparently one of the literary arguments for Christianity being true was that the three-day-resurrection only appeared in the New Testament--and who'd make that stuff up? So apparently the idea that it may not have appeared solely in the New Testament is shaking things up.

I suspect, if Tolkien were to hear of this tablet, he would say, "Well, of course." Given how much of the Christian story has resonance with other mythic themes, why not add one more? The idea that Christ fulfilled yet another prophecy would only be more reason to believe--not a reason to question the whole faith. Alas for the lack of application of mythic theory in the news!
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: (Nara)
First off, there are just a ton of great author interviews out there this week. Tiffany Trent is all over the blogosphere this week (she'll be here on Friday), and has the listing of her events here, along with information about a contest that none of you are allowed to enter, as I want the prize. So there. (Just kidding. Definitely go visit her blog and read the interviews.)

Ilona Andrews ([livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews) has an interview up on Nalini Singh's blogspot page. There, you will learn the secret of her duplicitous identity! (It is also readily available on her website, but I hadn't visited before today, so I didn't know!)

But now, for something completely different. Browncoat Jessica posted a fun meme over on her blog that I am going to completely change to suit my own purposes. (You are, of course, quite welcome to take my version and spread it around, or go use her original.)

If I were to invite ten fictional characters over to dinner, they would be*:

1) The unnamed bard from Jane Yolen's "Liavek" short stories, because rarely have I had the pleasure of hearing tales from such an endearing voice.
2) Schmendrick the Magician from The Last Unicorn, because I suspect he is as good a listener as he is a contributor, and I also would wager that he likes his food. (But he probably does not like *good* food as much as Vlad Taltos from Steven Brust's series, whom I would be afraid of offending by not offering appropriate courses.)
3) Ilona from the "Hallowmere" books (thus far by Tiffany Trent, though she'll be written by another writer shortly as well), because though I suspect she'd be a shy guest, anything she had to add to the conversation would be worth hearing.
4) Lissy James from Golden by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, because I wouldn't want Ilona to be the only teen at the table, and I imagine that Lissy's power could do wonders for making sure all the guests got along.
5) Warbeak from Redwall by Brian Jacques, although I'd get her her own bird feeder or berries a little to one side, as the Sparra are not known for eating politely.
6 & 7) Shevraeth and Meliara from Crown Duel (and other titles) by Sherwood Smith. Though I doubt my ability to serve up a meal fit for royals, I'm so very fond of both of them that I hope they'd excuse my rather humble provisions.
8) Princess Cimmorene from Dealing with Dragons (and others) by Patricia C. Wrede, because as long as I'm inviting my favorite royalty, why stop?
9) Alanna of Tortall (from a variety of Tamora Pierce's novels), because she has always been first among lady knights in my mind, and because Ilona from "Hallowmere" would, I suspect, enjoy her company.
10) Shepherd Book from Firefly, because someone really ought to say the grace.

I would consider inviting Bilbo Baggins, but everyone knows how hard it is to keep hobbits well fed....

Others who didn't get invited to dinner this time around but are worth mentioning:

I would love to see Eowyn (Lord of the Rings), Cat Crawfield (Halfway to the Grave), and Kate Daniels (Magic Bites) spar.

--

*Disclaimer: If I were given this exercise tomorrow, it might change as I thought of other characters I'd love to have over to dinner. In fact, at 3 a.m., I'll probably wake up, feeling bad that I didn't "invite" someone. But in this moment, that list is absolutely accurate. ;)
alanajoli: (Default)
For us Christian folk, we're almost at the end of Lent. Today was always the biggest day of the year for me: Maundy Thursday is the part of the story where everything goes wrong for Jesus. He gets betrayed, his friends are unable to stay awake while praying, he is arrested, his friends abandon him, and some time in the middle of the night, he gets tried unjustly. Without any sleep, the next morning he faces a second trial, also unjust, and is then executed by the Empire. As much as that sacrifice (and the subsequent resurrection--metaphor though some Christian theologians say that might be) is the core of what religion is about (as Lewis says, defeating or redeeming death), to me, it has always been Thursday, lost and alone, that felt like the biggest day to me. It's the day when all hope is lost, when the hero may indeed experience despair (though that is dependent on translation).

The story of Jesus of Nazareth, whether you believe it literally, mythically, or don't believe it at all, is a heck of a story. Madeline L'Engle once wrote that she became a Christian because she liked the storybook it came with. Yann Martel said in an interview with Publishers Weekly that given the choice between a world that was made at random and a world that was made by God, he would choose God, because it made the better story. Lewis was scolded for calling myths "lies breathed through silver" by Tolkien, who called Christianity the True Myth, or myth made fact (alas, I do not have the quote in front of me). Whether there is power in belief, power beyond humanity in the form of some sort of higher power, or simply power in story (I happen to believe all three), the way that the telling moves us, allows us to empathize with those in the thick of it, is probably what draws me to both writing and mythology.

I'll confess to you all for a moment that though I consider myself a Christian, it has been a long time since I've been a regular church attendee--around four years now. Experiencing a story that is intended to be communal (the way I think religions and myths are intended to be experienced) is odd, and this Lent, I have filled that gap as best I can by typing up a collection of Lenten Devotionals I picked up maybe seven years ago, featuring the writings of C. S. Lewis--mostly from Mere Christianity--and sending it out to family and some friends who I suspected would appreciate that kind of reading during Lent. The best part of this for me is that, on some level, I found a community. While the majority were silent, I have received several e-mails over the course of Lent discussing Lewis's views, and have had phone calls with members of my family that added to my understanding of Lewis's thoughts--and larger thoughts on selected scriptures. While I will be glad not to be typing them up daily (as often I would forget and have to send two per day--particularly during the time when I was at DDXP and had no internet access), I am not looking forward to Easter this year, because I will be sad to once again experience the story--in what little time I spend on it--alone.

I have been contemplating ways to avoid this--and I will certainly be mailing that list of people to see if anyone is interested in coming along for the ride I have percolating. My thought is to try, weekly, to post a Bible verse (assuming I can find a good online concordance) alongside something from a theologian or philosopher (wisdom can be found in many places and many religions, so I am loathe to limit myself to reading only Christian writers). The question becomes whether I continue to keep it a mailing list, whether I share those thoughts here, or whether I start a separate blog to host these. I may settle on some variation thereof, because I think the community feeling would be enhanced by the conversational capabilities of a comments section. As for you, faithful readers, this blog is dominantly about myth and storytelling--is adding religious and theological writings (as barely distinct as those are from myth, according to the Dewey Decimal system) a leap that people would be willing to take with me? Or is it the entry every week that would be skipped along the friends page? (I would most likely put it behind a cut, because I am sure that not *everyone* is interested.)

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. For those celebrating the equinox tonight, happy equinox! For Christians, may the rest of your Lent be meaningful, and your Easter the renewal it is meant to be. My calendar doesn't list any other holidays, but if you are celebrating them, I'd love to know--and I hope the celebrations accomplish what they are meant to evoke.
alanajoli: (Default)
I got tagged! [livejournal.com profile] jenlyn_b posted this one on both her blog and on [livejournal.com profile] memegirls, and, having been tagged, I too must complete it. :)

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? If you're as name obsessed as we are, fill out this Meme Girls original meme and share your name- and your favorites- with the blogging world. Then tag five friends to do the same.

1. First Name: Alana

2. Middle Name: Joli

3. Name you go by: Mostly Alana now, but my college friends still call me Joli, as does everyone at karate

4. Name(s) your parents call(ed) you: Lani and Alana, depending on age

5. Other nicknames (past and present): Lani-chan, Jo, Ferrett (as a petting zoo show animal shared my name, much to the dismay of the keepers who called me on stage), Al (though that didn't last), Lana, Nala, Foster (my maiden name), and Boss (my favorite)

6. What did you call yourself when you were little?
I called myself Lani until kindergarten, then went to Alana. By fifth grade or so I had decided that not going by a nickname was boring and tried to invent them for myself, but would then forget what I wanted people to call me (which made for some very confusing church camp experiences). You'd think I would have learned my lesson from this, but I decided to go by my middle name in college, which has confused legions--legions I tell you!--of people over the years.

7. Were your parents considering any other names (that you know of) before they settled on yours?
I remember finding a slip of paper in a dictionary when I was a kid with a list of three girls' names and three boys' names on it: among the girls' names was Alana, so I assume that was the list of possibilities from early on. The only other name I remember from the list was Alexander.

8. What does your name mean?
From the Celtic, it means either beloved or charming (it's derived from a term of affection, but Alan means beautiful or fair, so it could go either way). It could also mean noble, harmony, or fair, depending on the babynames site you use. In Hebrew (Alona), it means from the oak tree. In Hawaiian, it means awakening.

9. Do any famous people share your name?
Alanis Morisette is pretty close. Lord Google tells me that there's an Alana Curry (she was in Terminator 3), singer-songwriter Alana Davis (who, now that I've discovered her, I'm rating her on launchcast), "Quake" record setter Alana Reid from girl 0f destruction, and TV actress Alana De La Garza (Law and Order and CSI Miami).

10. Can you pronounce your name backwards?
Ttobba Iloj Anala. Well, the original surname is tricky, but my vowel dominated given name is pretty easy.

11. Favorite girls' names: For characters (rather than my future children): Aisha, Naimh (pronounced Neve), Noor, Naveen, and Noemi. Apparently I have a thing for Ns.

12. Favorite boys' names: Again for characters: Gaelen, Willum, Saif, Suleimain (which has way too much baggage to ever use in a story, but I love the sound)

13. Favorite name you've ever read in a book: Door, actually, from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, if only because it works so well in context

14. Favorite name from a TV show: At the moment, I'd have to go with Hiro, again as just a really fitting name for the character. Independent of context, I think the name Inara is lovely.

15. Favorite name for a dog/cat: I once had a plan to name four cats as references to the members of the Inklings, so I'd have Owen, Tollers, Chas, and Jack. But as I'm not likely to ever own four cats at once, this is probably best relegated to the realms of fiction.

WRITERLY BONUS QUESTION:
16. Favorite character name from one of your own books: It has to be Taru. I think because that name came from a more personal place than the others (though all of the names of the main characters--and plenty of the secondary characters--are inspired from someone rather than just the baby-name searches I've done for some of the others). When the Steampunk Musha Comic finally comes out, it'll be a tough call between Taru and Amura Hiroko, which is a name that was stuck in my head for weeks while I tried to figure out where I'd heard it--but a Google search was fruitless and I decided I must be meant to use it.

I tag:
[livejournal.com profile] slwhitman, [livejournal.com profile] mistborn, [livejournal.com profile] frost_light, [livejournal.com profile] egg_fu (either by cover identity or secret identity, as Mr. Fu chooses), and [livejournal.com profile] amieroserotruck, plus anyone else who hasn't been tagged yet and would like to be tagged! (I am assuming that, despite this coming from Meme Girls, the gentlemen are invited to play as well.)

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Alana Joli Abbott

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