Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Tag: writing (page 1 of 2)

Does he kiss with elven, Elfish or Elfin skill?

“Shush.” Mattis pressed a finger to my lips. “I was frightened for you.” Shielding me from view, he pulled me into his arms and claimed my mouth in a kiss. It was fierce, desperate, as if he was drowning out the world. I wrapped my arms around his neck. My arm grazed the fresh wound on his cheek and Mattis gasped with pain.

from: Brida Anderson: Poison Patch (Rule of Thorns, Season 2). Coming in fall 2015

So, about that skilled kisser. Does he speak Elfish? Or Elvish?

Are his looks Elfin or Elfish, or elven?

(copyright) Nicolas McComber, iStock

(copyright) Nicolas McComber, iStock

Elfish

When I was writing Hedge Games, I chose to use “Elfish” for everything: the language, the adjective, the people themselves. The same way I’d use Spanish: he’s Spanish, he speaks Spanish, the Spanish swords are of excellent quality.

I love the word “elven” and that the language of elves has its own name, Elvish, but I wasn’t sure if using that gets the LOTR fans up in arms when used in another world.

The editor of Hedge Games concurred, and so Elfish it was.

Elfin

Now the editor of Poison Patch corrected many instances of Elfish to “Elfin”.

To my ears, Elfin sounds like a human who has Elfish/elven qualities, especially a child. It probably got that way because it’s used outside of Fantasy literature to describe someone, usually a girl or a child, with fey qualities.

So I spent the morning researching Elfin, Elfish, elven, and found interesting theories on when to use which.

Elven

My editor would point out that Wikipedia and Google finds are not a trustworthy source, especially when it comes to spelling. ;-) If you ignore that, an interesting theory from two different grammar forums was this:

  • if you write in the tradition of Tolkien, D & D and other computer games/roleplaying systems who follow in that tradition, it’s elves with a v and the adjective is elven. The language is Elvish.
  • if you write in a remotely Walt Disney kind of style or world—one poster called it “Tinkerbelly” :-)—the plural is elfs (doesn’t have to be, though) and the adjective is Elfish. The elfs in that tradition are usually based on Tinkerbell-kind of fairies or Christmas elfs which usually don’t have their own language.

One argument that nailed it for me (revisions, here we go!) was the comparison to thieves. Thief / elf, plural thieves / elves. The old noun based on that wasn’t theft but thievery. The adjective is thieving.

So elf / elves / elven / Elvish makes a lot of sense, even if you had never heard of Tolkien. I’ll change it in Hedge Games and Poison Patch. But let’s get back to the more important things ;-)

Not wanting to ask Mattis for assistance, I used elven sorcery on his glamor. Elven magic worked with intent instead of sigils, so I scrunched up my face in concentration and thought with as much force as I could, Put something decent on me.

The dress flared green for a moment then disappeared. Which left me, once more, buck naked. Ooops.

“Okay, you win,” Mattis drawled by my ear, “I prefer your spell.”

from: Brida Anderson: Poison Patch (Rule of Thorns, Season 2). Coming in fall 2015

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The spam trolls try to eat this blog for breakfast if I leave comments open. I’d love to hear what you think, though, so if you’d like to leave a comment, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson writes Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. Hedge Games released in December 2013. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Character Agency and what else to learn from Dragon Age as a writer

If you love games and fantasy books, read Chuck Wendig’s post:  “Dragon Age Inquisition. A writer’s perspective”.

Screenshot Dragon Age Chuck Wendig

 

Chuck’s current (or maybe all-time) bone to pick is character agency. In this and follow-up posts, he had a lot of very interesting things to say about agency which aren’t just interesting to writers.

Also interesting how he takes apart a whole game from a writer’s and a player’s perspective.

Also check out his other recent post on character agency, looking at female characters, HOW “STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS” STILL END UP WEAK AND POWERLESS (OR, “DO THEY PASS THE ACTION FIGURE TEST?”).

It’s especially great to read if you like to read (or write!) kick-ass heroines with a lot of oomph.

Over to you. What do you think? How come so many “strong” heroines end up weak when it counts?

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I’d love to talk to you. Due to an avalanche of spam, I had to close comments on the blog. If you’d like to comment on this blogpost, please talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Breathe, life is good!

Written for you on the 12h of February.

I read a blogpost by Elizabeth Gilbert today (“The Best Thing you can do for yourself – and all the women around you“) and it resonated into my evening. It’s just past 9 PM now and the youngest (3) is finally sleeping. He’s transitioning from napping in the afternoon to not napping. You remember that horrible time? When they’re cranky all afternoon if they don’t nap but if you put them down to sleep, they resist with the power of pure thunder. :-) If they do sleep, even if it’s only for 40 minutes, they have a hard time falling asleep in the evening and keep waking up at night.

armchair_bridaanderson_macbook_pirate_skull

One of those days, anyway.

So he was sleeping, I had snatched my notebook from the study and was on my way downstairs to write to you, carrying in my other arm a load of “woops, potty training”-clothes from my youngest. I could bemoan that it’s only 9 PM and I’m SO VERY tired.  Again. But you know what? Life is good.

Elizabeth Gilbert is right. We have to stop comparing ourselves and bemoaning our shortcomings. Yes, it would be lovely if my children hadn’t been sick this past week, if the nursery hadn’t had to close because of some foul water rising up through the ground. I’d be further into my projects, for one thing, closer to bringing them out into the world. Into your hands. Does it count? Should it make me sad that, like all moms I know, I’m galloping on the spot because the day has many hours but not enough to do all that I plan to do? No.

Life is good because: My youngest is sleeping soundly, with a smile on his face, and before he fell asleep, he tried to sing along with me to an old lullabye.

Life is good because my husband and my older son are giggling in the bedroom. My son has a bronchitis currently and needs to inhale twice a day with a (loud) nebulizer machine. To sweeten that time for him and because my son is sensitive to loud noise, my husband had the idea to put noise-cancelling headphones on them both (with a connector) and to watch silly cartoons or comedians with him while he inhales. My son loves this quality time with dad and it’s so great to see them giggle and laugh about the same things. :-)

The sound of their chuckling fades as I continue on down the stairs. Life is good because: The first thing I see in the living room is our kitten, curled up in the “knightly castle” the kids and I put up in the middle of the living room today.
cat_knightcastle_bridaanderson
She loves the sheltered space and stretches contently when I come closer. There’s an armchair waiting for me and the notebook, and, if I Iike, a very nice white wine is waiting in the fridge. My husband found it for me in the one (1) shop here that is allowed to sell alcohol. What a treat! I can sip the wine while I dive back into writing Poison Patch.

Life is good because I get time to write, in the quiet of the living room, with a purring cat for company — and the scene I have the pleasure to write for Poison Patch today is a playful bathhouse scene in Faerie, complete with naked yummy elves and gentle caresses under a waterfall. Maybe it will make it into the final manuscript, maybe not. But it sure is a treat to write.

Life is good, hm? :-)

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I’d love to talk to you. Due to an avalanche of spam, I had to close comments on the blog. If you’d like to comment on this blogpost, please talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Finding inner calm … on vacation with the kids

A reader sent me a lovely message about “Hedge Games” through the Facebook page and today posted the book’s first review on Amazon.co.uk. So wonderful. I fairly danced with joy. :-)

Especially wonderful and motivating because the deadline for my next book is looming up. Nonfiction. “Finding calm inside yourself” (rough translation of the German title) is due at the publisher in the middle of August.

We’re on vacation, we all got sick with a stomach bug (no writing for a week), we had to gather together supplies for a week-long medieval-LARP event next week. (Still organizing stuff like sleeping bags and food that won’t spoil without a fridge.)

I was tearing my hair out the past weeks, muttering “How do you actually find the calm to write about inner calm when you have two kids racing around you?!”.

Since we arrived at my parents-in-laws’ place, a little transformation has occurred in the kids. In us.

Detail from the garden

Detail from the garden

 

My in-laws live in the middle of this beautiful landscape, right in the middle of Germany, in a house with a large garden. Unlike in Doha/Qatar or in the city where we stayed for vacation before, you’re not woken by cars revving up just outside or by motorbikes screaming out their pent-up power when the light changes to green. Here, you’re woken by birdsong (or one very insistent dove, right now). The kids sleep in forever, for the first time. Yay!

What’s even better: I fall out of bed, feeling refreshed, at 6 or 7. I could snuggle up and read or do yoga outside, but for the sake of the deadline I sit at my computer and write.

Today, only 2 guided meditations are left to write and the affirmations that will go on every page. Space is quite limited in the layout, that’s why I am still polishing the meditations. They could go on for 7 pages without any problem, but all I have is 1 page for each. Too bad, because one meditation is “Taking Flight” … in a soap bubble balloon; one is “Bathing in Gold” – you imagine yourself under a waterfall with golden sparkling water … Believe me, you don’t want to leave after just one page ;-)

If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

Blog Hop: Women Writing

Leanne Chapman from Claim Your Treasure asked me to participate in a Blog Hop that features new women writers and celebrates why we are writing. The torch is passed on every week and I feel honored that I can take part.

((I recently moved this blog and the images got shot in the process. Currently working to replace them all.))

I published my first fantasy novel last winter (“Hedge Games”) in a leap of faith, after years of hiding behind my non-fiction writing. The same change takes place in my blogging. I’ve blogged for years about mom-topics, now I am starting to blog about fantasy/fae-topics for my readers.

How the Blog Hop Works

Write a description of yourself as a writer and answer the 3 questions below. Then invite 2-3 other women writers/bloggers to participate.

 

 

A description of me as a writer

Even as a kid, I was already fascinated by fantasy and adventure stories. The stories that capture me most are those that create a breathing, real world and then run with it. I don’t much mind whether that’s paranormal/Urban/elfpunk/Steampunk/pirates … Just give me a world I can jump into along with the characters; make me believe, make me care. Make me smile about dialogue and funny moments. Make me fret by letting the character walk through darkness. Oh, and give me a loveplot. ;-)
That’s what I love to read – and that what I’m striving for in my fiction.
If I had to name common themes, it’d be: Finding magic in the everyday life that surrounds us. Finding out you’re special and there’s a place / a chosen family where you belong after all.

What am I working on/writing?

When our move abroad (to the Middle East) and my kids give me time enough to write, I’m working on the sequel to HEDGE GAMES. Or I’d love to be writing that. Mostly, I’ve been working on non-fiction these past months.

... when all I want to do is return to the forest for book 2 ... :-)

… when all I want to do is return to the forest for book 2 … :-)

 

I just finished a book with selfcare-tips for moms, it will come out in September. Mid-august is the deadline for my next book, my first “Aufsteller”. What do you call these books in English? A spiral bound book that you can prop upright. One side of the displayed page shows a beautiful photo and quote or affirmation. The back of the page gives a weekly instruction. I love these books when they’re nicely done and I’ve always wanted to create a book like that. So I felt very honored and happy when I was asked by Südwest publishing house to create one on the topic of “Finding Peace inside Me”.

I also experiment with different topics for blogging. It’s easiest for me to blog how-to – giving instructions, DIY topics, tips. But I want to branch out from that and share more about fae/fantasy related stuff. I’m collecting shops with elfwear, beautiful fantasy Pinterest boards, … to share on my blog. I’ll also talk more about the backstory to my elfish characters, because that’s what most questions I got from readers were about.

How does my work differ from other writers in my genre?

Since I aim to write what I’d love to read, I’m not really trying to be different from other writers in my genre. :-) But there are, of course, a lot of different styles in Urban / Paranormal Fantasy.

You’ll love what I write if you enjoy fantasy stories with romantic elements that have darkness where necessary, without ever degrading into torture porn (for lack of a different word, I use it here to encompass all sorts of very dark stuff that you can come across in fae books).
Having said that, I think there should be real danger and real struggle and the loveplot shouldn’t be an end in itself but a side product of two interesting characters meeting and battling toward their goals.

Hedge Games Urban Fantasy

Buy on Amazon

One difference could be that I find old legends, especially German ones, about elves and fae folk very fascinating and have read a lot about them. So my elves might be a tad more Germanic / central European than the ones from authors who come from an Anglo-Saxon background.
We’ve travelled in areas in Germany where the hills are considered dragons sleeping, every second village has a name with the old Germanic word for “elf” in it and local people still warn you about the lakes because the White Lady could grab any children and pull them under, replacing them with a changeling. (That this is a warping of Mother Goddess cults in the same areas could be a topic for another time, hm?) I take all these stories and add my own spin and my own ideas.

View of famous Frau Holle Lake in Germany

“Frau Holle Teich” in Germany

Why do I write what I do?

We have a right to — and a need for — fairytales for grown-ups. I can’t thrive if not at least my reading material brings a touch of magic. The magic that adds sparks to our lives can come from actual conjuring, sexy elves, bare-chested highlanders or watching struggling families reconcile and find their Happy-Ever-After in contemporary books.

Next Week’s Blog Hopper

… is Eilish Bouchier of http://eilishbouchier.com. Until her Women Writer’s blogpost is up, read “I do yoga to do life” from her instead. Highly recommended.

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Ways to work fast / write fast

Just came across two interesting info-graphics from Funders and Founders.

Not sure about the picture-rights, so I’ll link to them instead of reposting them here:

How to work fast — a lot of what I found out works for me during the 31-Day-Procrastination Challenge

Why don’t People do? Thoughts that get in the way of creating — especially important if you’re battling with a strong inner censor/inner critic

 

So many lovely things to do – on battling the Procrastination troll

How’s your battle with Procrastination going, in the 35-Day-Procrastination Challenge?

I am at that point where I got so much done on the projects on my list (thanks to writing in the flow) that my brain served up glorious ideas of WHAT ELSE I could all accomplish in that time. “You know, if it’s going so well, why don’t you do this and this and that?”

Troll Head Lost Garden's of Heligan, Cornwall by Webheathcloseup / Flickr

Is that my procrastination troll? — Troll Head Lost Garden’s of Heligan, Cornwall by Webheathcloseup / Flickr (Creative Commons)

The project-ideas actually made sense – to finally take the time to create a nonfiction backlist from my previously published books. They were published by publishing houses, edited, proofread, I have the final PDF  — so all that’s missing is “just”  formatting them as ebooks, add a cover, upload.

Then I read a post from a friend on Facebook. She did long overdue work on her blog and happily so, working in the flow for hours. Only in the evening did she realize, that it “had been the Procrastination troll whispering in her ear”. He has a knack of making distractions sound utterly important and meaningful.

... or isn't he rather looking like this? :-) -- "Internet Troll?" by Eiik Solheim

… or isn’t he rather looking like this? :-) — “Internet Troll?” by Eiik Solheim (flickr / Creative Commons)

For now, I’ve decided to stick to the Procrastination Challenge but change my list of projects, pushing the second book in the Rule of Thorns-series further back and working on two non-fiction projects, one for a publishing house (deadline in August), one for my backlist.

The Procrastination challenge. Day 0

Half a million projects on the plate, a small kid who is always sick, with outside temps at 40°C and rising? We’re arming ourselves with Leo Babauta’s no-procrastination ideas, putting on sunglasses and add a tank full of gas. Let’s hit it!
From today till the day our school and nursery close their doors, it’s 7 weeks. 7 weeks with 5 working mornings per week (if no-one gets sick. again. %-) * That’s 35 possible no-procrastination days.I’ve procrastinated my little heart out already today, with Facebook, eMails, blogposts, so this is day 0 not day 1. ;-PSo, huh? What is this?
Check out Leo’s blogpost on procrastination (while you’re at it: his posts on forming good habits are also great).
Back?
Great.
So, essentially what Leo’s post boils down to for me (you might have a different take-away):

What does it mean to have “No Procrastinaton”? Does that mean an unbroken stream of work from waking until bed?

It means I’m going to define things I can’t procrastinate on, even for a minute, and set a time period I have to work without distraction. And after that work period, I get a break.

An example: Let’s say the next thing on my list is to write a chapter of my book. I set a timer for 20 minutes, and I have to start right away, and work without cessation until the timer goes off. Only then can I check email or do any online reading, though I can work longer if I’m in a groove.

That’s Leo’s words. (Source: http://zenhabits.net/procrastinateless/)
Because I don’t have a whole day and several projects, I’ll be stricter with social media.My rules for the next 35 working “days”, based on Leo’s but moulded for my situation, are:

  • List my Most Important Task. I have to pick 1 thing from my “Do this week!”-board for that day.
  • Do it early. As soon as I start my working day, I will write for the chosen project without stopping for 50 minutes.
  • Do only empowering breaks. I’ll do 15 minutes break, but without Facebook, Pinterest. I can do yoga, prepare a coffee, water the plants outside.
  • After fifteen minutes, I do the next writing-bit, for about 30 minutes. I’ll play around with duration of the writing sprints depending on project.
  • Next break. Rules see above.
  • Next round of writing, this time for the 2nd project on my list, for 40 minutes.
  • Break. This time, Facebook, E-Mail, Pinterest etc. allowed.
  • The rest. I now should have about two hours, give or take, left of my morning. Now I’ll turn to the “other stuff” on the board (bills, text feedback, emails) and to household chores.
  • Every day I manage the schedule, will be one token for reward. ((I have a private list set up at Amazon where I add stuff I’d love to have and how many tokens it’s worth. Books, LARP accys, elfish jewelry. Lots of Etsy finds :-))
  • If there’s a “higher force” (kids sick etc.) and I don’t meet my quota, nothing happens. For every day I mess up without external interference, I pay back one token into the stash.
We’ll have to see how it goes and adapt the rules accordingly.
This is based on how I work during NaNoWriMo in November and when I am close to a deadline for a project.What do you think? How’s your battle with procrastination going? Want to join me for a final writing sprint before summer vacation?

Being sticky – being brave in what you create / write

Kristen Lamb tells writers to “be sticky” if they want people to notice them and their books. Even though “being sticky” comes very naturally to me as a mom of two young children ;- ), in my writing, that’s something else.
There are three areas Kristen urges you to be sticky if you want to succeed at social media (and, alas, a mom-writer’s clothes and hair are not among the three. Rats! ;-).
Two of them are internet-related, the third is our writing itself.

While I dropped my youngest off in kindergarten, I mulled over what I had read in Kristen’s book Rise of the Machines. And realized that this isn’t just something about writers. It applied to the people I ran into as well.
How often do we really stick out our neck? And how often do we take the safe road and blend in? At the cost of being “non-sticky” or almost invisible. Non-memorable.

How about you? When did you learn that talking freely about what you felt was your truth (in any given situation) wasn’t safe? That it got you in hot waters with your teachers, your parents, your first boy-friend, perhaps?

 

Inner warrior Brida Anderson

Your inner warrior is wise and wild / She knows the true shape and names of things / … and just how strong you really are

Before our move abroad, I was talking to a friend I had rediscovered on Facebook. He had last seen me when I was 16, just embarking on a relationship that later turned out to be abusive. When I told him about moving to Qatar for three years, he urged me to not start a one-woman-revolution there. I thought: “What is he talking about? Me? Why should I?”
He remembered me as I had been, at 12-13-14 years old. Running around in my hometown with a bright red cap, dispensing flyers on a busy Saturday about women’s rights. (Pathologically shy me!) Even pressing one into the mayor’s hand with an acidic comment when he came by by chance (I was camped out near the city hall). Sending my poetry to magazines and competitions, totally convinced that it was superb and much-needed. And even getting it published at the tender age of 14. It seemed only natural to me at the time — today, I shake my head how confident I was, how sure that I’d be published.
Then … stuff happened. Life. Boys who punish you for being “all brain” or who seek to hurt you, verbally, physically, when you seem to be too self-confident. After uni, it carried over into my nonfiction writing through my work. (University had taken care of the fiction writing already.) If you talk to other editors and agents all day, get trainings every few months on how to write the perfect fluffy nonfiction book that appeals to everyone and offends no one, it rubs off on you.Now with Kristen’s advice on “writing sticky books” in my ear, I have been quietly exploring for months, how true to my ideas and convictions I dare to be in my nonfiction.
If you write like anybody else and what anyone else could have contributed to a topic, then a reader won’t see that this is you writing to them. And they won’t hear your voice.
Time to put on the red cap and stand up. Become sticky!
((reblogged from my old blog-address at Weebly, hence the wonky formatting))
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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Am Writer, will travel …

I am writing this to you from my car. Of course it’s not the first time I’m writing in the car. I love writing while in motion. The vibrations loosen the writing muscles, at least for me. And it’s great against my coffee/food/… procrastination. You know, the “ooops, now my coffee is empty, I should make a new one before I REALLY dive in …” ;-)
What’s truly new for me, here in Doha, is that I can work on my notebook when not at home – and still be online. Here (in Qatar, that is) a mobile card with real flatrate costs about 10 dollars more per month than a “normal” landline phone number plus internet. Which, weirdly enough, would be a tenth of the speed of the mobile internet.
So when my youngest fell asleep on the way home from IKEA
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I made a stopover at home, grabbed our WLAN router (it fits in my palm and runs on batteries), tossed it with my Macbook into the car and took off to my son’s school.
Here we are, parking in the shade. He’s still sleeping.
Outside, it’s an almost balmy 38°C degrees.
To think that when we arrived at the end of January, the 26 degrees here felt like hot summer to us! :-)
We came from 2 degrees Celsius and snow in Germany, all bundled up in our sweaters.
If you ever come here, you’ll see the same scenes: In the long cues for VISA / passport check, you can tell at once who’s a returning resident or from a similar climate — and who are the Northern and Eastern Europeans.
Aussies in sandals and very short shorts are all around you. Men from all over the world in long flowing kaftans and leather sandals. And in the middle, mom, dad, kids with very sensible shoes, often sneakers, pullover, windbreaker jacket from Jack Wolfskin or some other brand.
When I talked to Goronna from Serbia who works as a physio therapist at the W hotel she said about her arrival … Oh, that’ll have to be a story for another time. The school bell just rang with the deafening sound Indian schools are supposedly known for here (the German school inherited a lovely building from an all-girls Indian school, complete with colorful murals that the kids love).
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