Tag Archives: Shawn MacKenzie

What is a portmanteau?

This blog post was inspired by Shawn MacKenzie who taught me the word “portmanteau.”

Delmarva

The Delmarva Peninsula

I knew bits of my vocabulary included portmanteaus – like smoke and fog make smog. But I didn’t know they were called portmanteaus.

Here’s the Wikipedia explanation of a portmanteau. And surprise! Wikipedia is a combination of Wiki and encyclopedia.

In case you are wondering what a “wiki” is (I was) – a website developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add or edit content.

On to the portmanteaus!

***

Places

Delmarva – from Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. I grew up here!

I don’t get this one because they don’t share a border – Pennsyltucky, from Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Must be cultural. Can anyone explain this one?

Animals

Gratuitous cute kitty

Gratuitous cute kitty

Liger, which is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger. And to complicate things, a tiglon or tigon is a cross in which the male is a tiger.

Wholphin – From whale and dolphin. I’m sorry, what? These guys are participating in way too much underwater sexting (from sex and texting).

Labradoodle. From Labrador Retriever and Poodle.

Online stuff

Blogs – so many of us write them; do we know from whence they come? From web and log.

Netiquette – net and etiquette. I’ve blogged about this a few times, eh?

A relatively new thing, quite addictive – Pinterest, from pin and interest.

Food and such

Brunch – from breakfast and lunch.

And from having too many mimosas at brunch – breathalyzer, from breath and analyzer.

A spork is a cross between a spoon and a fork. This spork thing – I think it’s sort of stupid. If I want a spoon, I grab a spoon; if I want a fork, I grab a fork.

Arfé, from art and café – this one begs me to say, “Excuse me, I arféd.”

Products

Prevacid, from prevent and acid – in case you plan on visiting a really bad arfé or a nasty all-you-can-eat brunch.

Talking street DSC00642

Slanguage, from slang and language.

Chillax – from chill and relax. I thought my son coined this one. He does it so well.

Companies

Amtrak, from American and track.

Intel, from integrated and electronics.

One of my faves

Snark or snarky – from snide and remark.

Miscellaneous

Chortle – from chuckle and snort (coined by Lewis Carroll!). And a huge jump (time-line wise) from Carroll to …

Cyborg – From cybernetic and organism

Going old school

Motown a combination of motor and town. The Supremes, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, Jr. Walker and the All Stars.

Dude! Do you see what I see?

Dude! Do you see what I see?

The Temptations. Didn’t they use funkadelic? From funky and psychedelic? See The Temptations, a great YouTube video, from Ed Sullivan’s Really Big Shooo.

See a list

Would you like a list of portmanteaus? Wiki comes through again!

Origin of portmanteau

Middle French, portemanteau, from porter, to carry plus manteau, mantle. First known use: 1579.

Do you have a favorite portmanteau or two?

15 Comments

Filed under Words & Vocabulary

An editor’s life isn’t all buttercups and adoration

tana jung via photobucketRealization

I realize that some writers dread the edit – I’m the type that looks forward to it! I love it when my editor picks apart my prose, my grammar, my dialog.

I love a good dragon-powered edit from my BFE (best friend/editor), Shawn MacKenzie. See Shawn’s editor-at-large page. If you want her new book (and you should!) click Dragons for Beginners.

Hold your breath and cringe

The writer holds his breath once he sends an MS to his editor.

The writer cringes when she sees “Your MS Critique Letter” in her inbox.

What about us editors?

Yeah, we suffer too.

I have been bitched out, effed up and down, slammed against the internet wall, told, “Never contact me again,” and, “You don’t know what you’re doing because my Aunt ______ loves my book!”

Why do so many writers play the “aunt” card?

Just a few curse words

I had a writer curse me out because I wouldn’t give a carte blanche and a recommendation on her publishing company (I edited her book, but I knew nothing about her publishing company).DSC01608

A nice reply

Friend Denise Hisey (who has an awesome blog, you need to check it out) had some very nice things to say about my recent critique letter to her.

What Denise Hisey said: Criticism can be hard to take. I didn’t feel like you were criticizing though, I felt you were helping. I’ve grown too much in other areas of my life not to grow in this one, too! I may never sell a thing, but I want to improve as a writer just the same.

Ah, Denise. Your email was like a tender spring breeze among the apple blossoms.

Denise also said, about editing and editors: Yes, I imagine it could be nerve wracking on your end, too!

You got that right.

Throwing poo

I don’t just throw editor-flavored poo at you to make you feel bad.

I throw good poo at you – based on what I’ve learned about editing and proofreading, from reading blogs about editing and proofreading, and from reading blogs and industry articles about publishing, books, and writing.

And remember, I read grammar, punctuation, and style manuals for fun.

I hold my breath and cringe too

Every time I send a critique letter or a mass of comments on an MS, I shrink from what might come back from an “offended” writer.

But then I get a great testimonial, like from Elizabeth H. Cottrell. Elizabeth sometimes has me edit her non-fiction articles.

What Elizabeth said: Not only did [Karen] get the work back to me quickly, but the critique she provided was thorough, intelligent, and highly professional. She is very knowledgeable about proper and effective writing in general and blogging in particular, so her suggestions added clarity and energy to my articles. It’s an investment in the honing of my own writing craft.

Elizabeth and I developed a friendship, and we commiserate on many subjects (not just writing related).

So, your editor

How will you respond to your editor the next time?

***

Shawn MacKenzie. She’s an editor extraordinaire if ever there was one.  

Shawn MacKENZIEShawn MacKenzie had her first Dragon encounter when she was four years old and happened upon a copy of The Dragon Green by J. Bissell-Thomas. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Author of The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011), and Dragons for Beginners (Llewellyn, 2012), she is an editor and writer of sci-fi/fantasy. Her fiction has been published in Southshire Pepper-Pot, 2010 Skyline Review, and as a winner of the 2010 Shires Press Award for Short Stories. Shawn is an avid student of myth, religion, philosophy, and animals, real and imaginary, great and small. Her ramblings can be found on her blog, MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest and at her web site.

***

Denise Hisey. I don’t like to define Denise by “survivor,” because she’s so much more than that.

Denise Hisey 2Denise Hisey is a survivor of chronic, severe childhood abuse. Asking for help didn’t come easy, but she highly recommends it. Her memoir is still stuck in her head, but screams to be set free! She lives in Washington State with her husband and enjoys riding her motorcycle when weather allows. Her growing family is her pride and joy! Find her blogging at Inspired 2 Ignite or reading on Goodreads.

***

Elizabeth H. Cottrell. Elizabeth is my most-fave client ever.

Elizabeth CottrellElizabeth H. Cottrell, a.k.a. RiverwoodWriter, is a Connection Curator, collecting and organizing information and resources about the power of connection to present them in ways that provide meaning and value. She is a passionate student of everything related to life’s essential connections: with God, with self, with others, and with nature.

Elizabeth shares her findings, inspiration, and guidance at Heartspoken.com. Elizabeth also teaches small business connection strategies at RiverwoodWriter.com.

Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

***

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. – Aristotle

True friends stab you in the front. – Oscar Wilde

***

Opening Photo – Tana Jung via Photobucket.com.

Quotes from BrainyQuote.com.

21 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading

What’s the value of an e-book? With Lara Schiffbauer

Lara Schiffbauer

Lara Schiffbauer’s recent blog post about a fair price for an e-book struck several chords with me.

Here is Lara’s article, in full, re-posted with Lara’s permission.

By Lara Schiffbauer

Warning: Super long blog post ahead and it has qualities similar to that of a rant, so go forward with caution.

For quite a while now I’ve read the myriad discussions regarding what is a fair price for an e-book from the perspective of the writer.

Are self-pubbers the “bane?”

Many a blog post like this one by Melissa Foster on the Indie Reader question “Are Self-Pubbed Authors Killing the Publishing Industry?”  In the first sentence of the article, Ms. Foster states that self-pubbed authors devalue the written word with books priced low to gain attention. Later on in the article she gives the pronouncement that yes, self-pubbed authors are the bane of the publishing world because they “give away” their books for “less than a buck” and use other “gimmicks” to garner sales. Quite honestly, I found the whole article rather obnoxious, but didn’t really feel the need to evaluate why. I filed the article away under my “Opinions That – While Interesting – Don’t Really Seem Fair or Right” mental filing cabinet.

Are you taking the risk?

Risky business

I read a section of Writing on the Ether by Porter Anderson titled “Pivot: Jonny Geller, Enough to Go Around.”  In the section, Mr. Anderson relates several points Jonny Geller made in an article of his own regarding the state of the publishing industry, including this one, “Readers need to risk paying for books again.”

Mr. Anderson followed up the point made by Jonny Geller by saying,

“We can talk all day about the reader as a nearly holy figure in our business — seriously overlooked too long by the traditional publishers. But it’s also time for that reader to play his or her fiduciary role in the equation again, and prove the bargain basement prices of the fin-de-agency period to have been what they were, the dive for algorithmic leverage of amateurs flooding the market.”

Before I go any further, I need to say that Porter Anderson is a very intelligent, witty, and friendly guy. When I read Writing on the Ether, I often don’t understand exactly the points he makes, and I definitely am not being critical of the article. That being said, what the article did was force me to change my perspective from writer to reader and back again. Quite frankly, I thought “Whoa. Hold on there.”

Where is your price point?

Less than a buck?

First, as a soon to be self-published author, if I sell my book for something less than … Heck, I don’t even know what Melissa Foster or the other people who think a low price devalues a book think I should sell my book for. At what price do I show the world that I value my work? Can anyone tell me? Is $2.99 enough, or does it have to be higher? Should I match traditional publishing at $9.99? Do you honestly think I would sell any books if I did? And yet, if I price point my novel in order to get someone to take a risk and buy my book, I am accused of devaluing my work and undercutting authors everywhere, especially the “professionals.”  I am not sure who the professionals are, but it sounds suspiciously to me that they are those traditionally published.

The author/reader quandary

Second, as a reader, if I buy a $.99 priced novel by a self-published author, I am accused of not holding up my share of the author/reader bargain and shirking my duty of paying an author what they’re worth. What happens if I buy a $.99 priced novel by a famous author who is traditionally published and the publisher is running a sale? Am I still shirking my duty as a reader? And why is a sale (gimmick) by a traditional publisher all right, but by a self-published author it’s tacky and devaluing to the written word?

As a reader, when the price of paperbacks rose above $7.99, I quit buying so many books. Gasp, I know. I got really friendly with my neighborhood library. Then, after I became invested in some authors for FREE, I started buying their books. Let me ask you, did the fact that I read their novels for FREE mean that I devalued their work, their talent? No, it means I didn’t have a very lucrative cash flow and I still wanted to read.

How do you measure the value? 

I think part of the problem about the whole “devaluing” issue is the question of how you measure the value of your personal time and creativity. Someone I read said something like, “Writing books is art, selling books is a business.”

Throughout my twenties, I worked in the head offices of a retail chain as an assistant to the clothing buyers. I learned about mark-up. With clothing, the mark-up is basically double. You buy a t-shirt for $2.99, you sell it for $5.99. When a person self-publishes the need for mark-up is diminished. The book is going to be available digitally forever. If a person spends $1,000 for editing, cover, etc., they can afford to be patient with the first book being a lower price and baiting the hook for readers. It’s a career being built, not a get rich quick scheme.

Climbing the self-pub ladder

So, do you want to know the funny part of this post (if you’ve even made it this far).  The funny part is, I totally plan on selling Finding Meara for at least $2.99 or more, unless it’s enrolled in a special program like Kindle Select. I’d made that decision before I decided to self-publish. My reasons? When I am shopping on my Nook and I see a book listed for $.99, I don’t even really stop to look at it. I judge the book by its price point. However, the same is true for the other end of the monetary scale. Also, you can sell fewer books at a higher price point and make more money. Hard math there. Dean Wesley Smith taught me that. He’s got a great blog every self-publishing author should check out.

Does the question of a fair price for an e-book have an answer? I don’t know. I think it’s up to the person putting their book out there.

***

From Karen –

There are lots of comments on Lara’s e-book blog – pro, con, free, not free, $1.99 or $2.99?

I posted a comment on Lara’s blog. Here it is (I’ve edited the comment and added a few headers).

***

I’m might be free but only with a coupon!

Regarding my books (collections, if they ever get published) – I don’t want to give them away nor do I want to whore them out at 99 cents a copy. I don’t even want to go $1.99 or $2.99.

What it takes

I know what it takes to write one poem or one short story. I hired a great editor (Shawn MacKenzie). I work hard learning how to tell a story, how to mix the right adjectives, how to write scenes and dialog. I read about writing – blogs, articles, books. I read grammar and style manuals.

I’m an e-book John

But buying books? I’m a back-street John when it comes to acquiring new e-books. Since I got my Kindle last November, I consistently seek the free section. Pre-Kindle, I used to spend a couple hundred dollars every month on books; over the last year, about ten bucks a month. I’ll buy an e-book if Stephen King publishes something or if a friend publishes a new book (like Kathryn Magendie or Shawn MacKenzie).

Free book

Most e-books make me snore.

I’ll say it – most free books sort of suck. Out of a hundred free books I download to my Kindle, I delete about 70-80% after the first few pages because they are awful. The e-book explosion has enabled poor writers to publish a lot of garbage.

Make the decision

Don’t just decide to write – decide to write well and then learn how to write well.

***

Friends who write extremely well –

Kathryn Magendie

Shawn MacKenzie

See Lara Schiffbauer’s blog at Motivation for Creation.

What are your thoughts about the whole pricing issue with e-books?

12 Comments

Filed under E-books & E-publishing, Guest Writers & Bloggers

Poetic digressions on the Dragon’s Nest

My BFE (best friend/editor) Shawn MacKenzie has a fabulous guest on her blog today. Oh hey, look – it’s me!

On MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest, Shawn shares my Painful Process, Desert Canvas, and my favorite, Mom and Bocelli.

Click on over — Here’s the link.

Paying it forward – Shawn’s new book, Dragons for Beginners, launches today, but she chose to feature me on her blog.

5 Comments

Filed under My Guest Posts

The Balance of Dragons, by Shawn MacKenzie

The Balance of Dragons, by Shawn MacKenzie

The wind rolled across the moor, heavy with autumn heather and the scent of paper leaves. A trace of bitter salt from the Suthan Burh cut the air with endings and loss and the promise of early snow.

It had been a hard year in the land between the rivers. Spring came late, summer was tinder-dry; ewes cast before their time and the salmon ran light and small. Now came the killing frost before the Blood Moon

King Sevuk blamed it on the dragons. He blamed everything on the dragons. From the moment he planted his standard on the hillside and unearthed the first fieldstones for his castle, the inhabitants of the local weyr were the bane of his existence. It did not matter that he was trespassing in their home, poaching their woods and waters. It never crossed his mind to ask permission before ordering the forests cleared for fields and the caves scoured for hidden riches. He was a royal, with rights ascendant. His will was law; man and beast would yield before him.

The dragons laughed at such arrogance, but were disinclined to engage in an all-out war over human stupidity. They’d been through dark times before and did not wish to revisit the experience. Besides, there was space enough for all. But every so often, just to keep their paw in and the humans in line, they staged skirmishes and raids, culling a few cows from the herds, torching, by night, the scaffolding climbing round keep and kirk.

Sevuk shivered his shield and talked a good game but, like many of his class, he lacked the stomach for facing wing and fire. He was the King; his contribution to the common weal was top-down, at best. He ruled the rules, planned the plans, and expected fealty in return; but foes were fought by hirelings and minions. That was their place in the grand scheme of things, for meal and mail to lay their flesh and heirs on the line against man or beast or dragon.

Mercenary slayers were his first choice for the dragon problem, but, when none could be found for land or title, he consulted the priests who shrugged, then extracted from the musty pages of forgotten tomes the traditional remedy of Gifting, the Church’s benign euphemism for maiden sacrifice. For what dragon doesn’t relish a tender, virgin morsel? All the best lore says it’s so.

“You can’t be expected to do everything,” the clerics brown-nosed. “Call it a tribute—a tax, if you will—in exchange for peace,” they insisted. “The odds are fair, the herds stay safe, and the people do their part for the greater good. You are the king.  Who’s to say it isn’t just?”

The first was the Master Mason’s daughter, Eneh. She was bright and comely, and, as a child, had played underfoot in the nascent castle her father built. Sevuk watched her grow into a young woman. He knew her; he liked her. But dragons were dragons and he was the king. For his people, Sevuk hardened his heart and looked away. He locked her face and name in the recesses of his mind and forced himself to forget. As long as he didn’t know them, he told himself it would be all right; it would even get easier.

And it did.

Twice a year, beneath the full light of the Equinox moons, lots were cast and the chosen ones presented to the dragons. There was public pomp and honorific feasting followed by tears and private lamentation. Then priests who could not even put names with the faces of those lost, gushed pulpit platitudes about routing the devil and the greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. As the years went by, the king, armoured by ignorance, lent his voice to the chorus of empty words.

How could they be otherwise?

In this dance with dragons, priests and king had no blood in the game. The clergy were celibate wallflowers and Sevuk, he was a bachelor. Whether out of the belief he’d live forever or deep-dark fears he dared not contemplate, he shunned expected needs for mate or child. Companionship was his to order, as, by liege right, was his subjects’ sacrifice.

So the rites of tribute continued. It did not matter that no one had seen more than a glimpse of a dragon in over a decade. The occasional scorch mark curling the hedgerow, an unusual claw print bleeding into the bog. No one even knew how many dragons were still at hand. That didn’t matter any more. Tradition was tradition. To keep the community safe, the fields and herds secure. To guarantee the greater prosperity.

Greenwood spit and crackle bounced round the hearth and echoed off the spare stone walls. Feet to the flames, shoulders hunched against the draughty expanse of the hall, Sevuk stared into the embers. His hair framed wary eyes, curling at nape and round ears in thick silver links weighing him down. There were times like this, tempest howling back into a past, when he allowed himself to wonder…. Had he a wife, a daughter of his own to share his days, his worried nights, might all of this be different? Might he have found the strength to face the dragons, to win the affection of his people not their fear? Might this hall be filled with music and laughter?

He downed his quaich of winter whisky, the peated stream burning his throat like dragonfire, then drained the bottle into his cup. Twenty-nine years, fifty-eight maidens. Had he a family, might he remember the faces of the women gifted?

With an anguished wail, the wind rattled the leaded panes, blowing them open, lashing the arras above the mantel. Sevuk turned his eyes to the weft-drawn knight standing triumphant over a bloody dragon: Draconis terminus.

Between gust and whisky and withering light, the dragon danced before the king, raising his battered head, mouth open in a merciless grin. The tapestry mocked him down to his bones. He closed his eyes, an impotent curse whistling through his teeth.

“Tomás – the window! And more wood; the fire’s almost ash.” The call to his chamberlain echoed without answer. “Tomás – Damn it!” Sevuk pulled his robe close and tried to will himself to stop shivering. He was still king. Let them find his body frozen stiff where he sat, he would not play servant to his own comfort.

At his back, the casement slammed shut, the latch falling true.

“Where have you been, old man?” Sevuk growled. “Build up the fire and fetch me more drink.”

Flames blasted past his ear, licking the embers to life. The king leapt to his feet, head clear, sword bare, and looked square into the face of a dragon.

Not a large dragon. Not a behemoth out of legend. But a solid, young lapis dragon, big as one of his wolfhounds, with a bewhiskered grin and pale smoke rising from his nostrils. But this dragon was not alone. With a delicacy that belied his size, he draped across the shoulders of his companion, a woman of indeterminate age, with oak-brown hair and a visage thin-lipped but bemused. The dragon’s tail vined round her moss-robed waist, an intimate band supporting them both.

“Steel serves no purpose here. King,” the woman said infusing Sevuk’s title with pitiful disdain. Not trusting the king to obey, the dragon disarmed him with a tail lash to the wrist, then blinked his amber eyes, laughing at the clatter of steel on stone.

“Guards! Guards!”

“Save your breath, Sevuk. They can not hear you.” The dragon slinked down her arm, onto the floor; he curled up, back to the hearth, eyes refusing to leave their host, as his person folded herself into the king’s chair.

“Oh, I’m sorry” she said. “Is this yours?”

“I’ll stand,” he replied, positioning himself so he kept both dragon and lady within his purview and waited.

Just as the moment was about to shatter into a million pieces, Sevuk broke: “How did you get past my guards?” he demanded. “What did you do to them, witch?”

That’s what you want to know? And here I thought you’d grown into that crown of yours.”  She causally sniffed the king’s quaich, then pushed it aside. “Sweetwater is better for you. You used to know that.”

“How do you…?” Sevuk inched closer, peering into the woman’s eyes. The dragon growled deep in his throat, but stayed where he was.

“Who are you?” Sevuk asked.

She sighed, the weight of years and sadness creasing her eyes. “And here I thought you might remember.”

The past squeezed the king’s heart until he gasped. “Eneh –? It’s not possible. The dragons – ” His hand reached out, seeking the feel of her skin, a confirmation of her reality.

Smoke in the wind, she evaded his touch. “Yes, well. Dragons.” She smiled from beside her companion, her fingers tracing ridges along his blaze. “There is a lot you don’t know about dragons.”

The king looked from chair to floor and back; then shook his head. How did she do that?

“The others, are they – ?”

“They are as I am, my liege. Does that please you?”

“How can you ask? Of course it does.” And it did, more than he’d thought possible.

A draconic snort of disbelief rocked him back into his chair. Not to feel any smaller than he already did, Sevuk cleared his throat and sat forward, eager as a royal schoolboy. “So. Tell me about your life, about the dragons.”

“Why tell when we can show, my liege.”

Before he could protest, the hearth-warmed blue twined his tail around the king’s ankle and spread his wings, soaring out through the window, over the battlements, and into the cold October night. Sevuk held his breath, then held his dinner – as long as he could. For a brief moment he thought he might actually have enjoyed himself had he been flying up-side up and not dodging treetops every few seconds. Where was Eneh? he wondered. Riding astride the dragon all safe and proper, or flying solo, perhaps. He’d seen no besom back at the hall, but there was no guessing what strange ways she’d learned over the years. Either way, the little dragon was right strong for his size.

Before he could sort out in his mind the wonders of weight versus heft, his shoulder met the ground with a resounding thump and, ankle free, he tumbled to a most undignified stop at the base of what could only be described as a dragon’s rubbish tip. He felt for broken bones, then, satisfied he would not fall apart like a stringless puppet, got slowly to his feet.

“This way,” Eneh said.

Without so much as a by-your-leave or inquiry as to his wellbeing, she drifted off through the citadel of granite basins and rough-hewn caves. In a great stone arena, she stopped and dropped Sevuk to the ground with a look. Perched on tiers round about were dragons of every size and hue. And by their sides sat fifty-eight women, aged fourteen to forty by the king’s reckoning. Sevuk reached for his sword, his hand coming up empty.

It’s all right, he told himself.  Eneh wouldn’t harm me.

“I’m here to learn,” his words were thin even bouncing off the stone bowl.

“To make amends?” It was a woman’s voice, though, through the gloaming, he could not see whose; even if he could put face to words, he would not have known her name.

“If I can. If you let me.” A low rumble grew into a roar, half laugh, half scorn. This was not going to be easy.

“Please, Great Dragons, Fair Ladies. Instruct me, that I might not wander this world, a fool of a king. The priests swore by the Gifting – ”

“Priests are jesters in cowls. You should have known better.”

Sevuk ground his teeth: no one chides the king, but having dragons on every side gave him pause. “Yes, they are, surely. And I am not like them – I would not be like them.”

Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat. Tat-tat-tat. Dragon talons were nothing if not persistent.

“These are facts…” A mellifluent fugue rolled down the tiers of dragons, starting with tenor tones of a great bronze creature perched on high. The king did not speak Dragonish, so Eneh translated. “We allowed you the land between the rivers. We put up with your plunder and theft, the cost of living near humans. Still it was not enough.”

A slender green took up the tale: “We’ve known your kind before. Always the same. A little land turns into a lot. Sharing turns to owning. You refused the simple cost of living in dragon country and would have wiped us out, first dragon to last, all for our taking our due. After all you took from us, you begrudged us the occasional sheep and cow? The rare display of dragonfire?

“You dared not risk livestock or battle, but your daughters…. Were they worth so little to you?”

Before Sevuk could answer (for what answer could he give?), a muscular dragon the colour of beech trees in winter scraped a talon across the rock. “We do not eat people. It is a rule we have. Too much gristle, too little fat, at least on peasant bodies. Not that we didn’t treasure your gifts. We appreciated each and every one. We kept them and learned their names and faces and taught them our ways.”

“But we are not dragons, you see,” Eneh said, approaching the king. “For all their kindness, they could not sustain us. They proposed sending us back to our families but we refused. They had already grieved and our return would only bring worse to the dragons.”

Sevuk held his tongue, humbled by the logic of her thinking. She may have been peasant born, but Eneh had a mind worthy of a laird. Or a queen….

She sliced the thought from his mind with a glance and continued. “Then the elders called the faërie, and they offered to take us in, one by one, as many as you sent, across the veil. And twice a year, when the veil thins, we return to visit our friends.” She held out her hand and Sevuk took it – she let him, this time – and his fingers passed through her palm like a dirk through cheese. A resigned smile crossed her lips. “There was a cost. There is always a cost.”

Royal relief turned to sorrow, sorrow to anger, as he looked from dragon to maid, one after another, accusing him on all sides.

“You think I wanted this? The Gifting? Had there been another way – ”

The bronze roared. “That is what your species always says: There was no other way. Did you think to meet us face to face, to treat us with the respect that was our due? Of course not. We are just dumb animals to you. Pesky obstacles in your way to be fought or bought.”

“I know better now. I will put an end to the ritual; make amends to your families.”

“Coin for care? Be a better man? A better king?” Sarcasm never cut so deep as on the tongue of a dragon. “What happens now, it’s not up to us,” he growled, furling his wings round the women of the fey. “It is up to those you have wronged.”

Sevuk looked to Eneh, but she’d withdrawn with faërie stealth, and stood in the solemn glow of her companions. She spoke for them all.

“Actions are taken, choices made. They cannot be undone. We are blessed to know the wisdom of dragons, to share in the magic of the fey. We would not be thus honoured save for your rule, and so we have chosen to forgive you, Sevuk. Your royal weakness and greed, your world of black and white and narrow thinking. We forgive that. You are only human. But we do not choose to forget. We travel through the veil and hold to every face and name and moment. Each day our hearts tear with partings from families past and embrace with joy wonders present. They are memories that keep us alive. You were our king, Sevuk. That you believed you were doing what was right for your people, we understand. That you forgot us, our names and faces, we do not.

“You are the king. There is a price to pay.”

Even dragon rules can be broken.

In the morning, Tomás found Sevuk’s naked sword lying beside the cold hearth. No one had seen the king leave, nor complained much when he did not return. That night, across the frost rimmed moon, the play of dragonfire lit the sky in one last rite of Gifting.

From that day on, life was easier in the land between the rivers. The governing council liked to blame it on the dragons.

***

About the Author:

Shawn MacKenzie had her first Dragon encounter when she was four years old and happened upon a copy of The Dragon Green by J. Bissell-Thomas. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Author of The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011), and Dragons for Beginners (Llewellyn, 2012), she is an editor and writer of sci-fi/fantasy. Her fiction has been published in Southshire Pepper-Pot, 2010 Skyline Review, and as a winner of the 2010 Shires Press Award for Short Stories. Shawn is an avid student of myth, religion, philosophy, and animals, real and imaginary, great and small.

Her ramblings can be found on her blog, MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest and at her web site.

8 Comments

Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events

Quick Editorial Tips V – Grammar and vocabulary lessons from home

Mom

Part of my bio says …

Karen S. Elliott was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day.

Mom and Aunt Agnes – “Ang” – were always correcting our grammar. I’m so glad they were such sticklers.

Lay and lie

Chickens lay eggs; little girls aren’t chickens.

So if I told Mom I was going to lay down, Mom would say, “Lie down. Chickens lay eggs…”

Ang

Exact same

“I have the exact same sweater.”

“Wayne has the exact same eyes as his daddy.”

Mom and Ang explained that exact same is redundant and should not be used together.

Continue on

“Redundant,” said Mom and Ang.

Though I hear continue on a lot in conversation and in TV commercials and see it in the written word, I don’t use it.

Me or I?

Just take out the first name(s) to determine if you need Me or I, et voila! (Mom spoke French too.)

Tina and I are going shopping. (I am going shopping.)

Do you want to go shopping with Tina, Ted, and me? (Do you want to go shopping with me?)

Profanity

I’ve been known to curse like a Merchant Marine when I lose a game of Scrabble. I’ve been known to use “WTF?” or “WTH?” here and there on Facebook.

I certainly don’t advocate using only goodie-goodie words in a police thriller or horror novel or in your memoir or blog.

Mom and Ang said using profanity was proof of a lack of vocabulary. Yeah, well. Sometimes you need a good curse to get over dropping the entire package of blueberries on the floor.

If I want to use a curse when talking with friends or when I’m online, I stop and try to think of an intelligent word (this self-checking exercise does not always work).

Posture and elbows

Mom and Ang also taught me to sit up straight, stand up straight, and elbows off the table!

***

Stick around for next week’s Halloween Fright Week, featuring Mairi Gairns McCloud, Tonia Marie Harris, Linda Boulanger, Heather L. Reid, Shawn MacKenzie, and me!

I have a new Facebook Fan Page. On this new Fan Page, I’ll be sharing links, resources, and tips on editing, proofreading, writing, and social networking. Hope to see you on the Fan Page!

15 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Quick Editing Tips

Quick Editorial Tips IV – Stop following my advice

A tool in the tool box

Struggling with advice overload?

I have a few friends who are struggling with “advice” – from other writers, publishers, agents, editors, critiquers, writing group members, bloggers, social networking gurus, marketing specialists…

Stop!

Don’t follow my advice

No, seriously.

I post Quick Editorial Tips as another tool for writers. I’m not the only tool, I’m not the last tool, and I may not be the best tool.

My editor                            

My editor, Shawn MacKenzie, gives me loads and loads (and loads) of comments, tips, suggestions.

A sharp tool

I consider all of Shawn’s editorial suggestions. I chew on them. I have arguments in my head. I may sleep poorly that night.

What Shawn said

I don’t simply delete the old stuff and insert “What Shawn said” stuff.

Sometimes (*gasp!*) I decide to not take Shawn’s advice. The same goes for any writer/editor exchange or relationship.

It’s not Shawn’s story, it’s my story

I pick and choose Shawn’s editorial and critique suggestions.

What feels right for me – for my poetry, my short story, my blog?

Is someone giving you advice that doesn’t feel right?

Just because some Super-Superwoman-Editor has been in publishing for 30 years doesn’t mean all her advice is good for you.

***

Check out Shawn MacKenzie‘s editor page.

Are you enjoying a good writer/editor relationship? Have you experienced a bad editorial experience? Are you confused by all the advice?

8 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Quick Editing Tips