Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Darling Two-Tailed Demon Cat

Mothers can't have favorites (in public anyway) but authors certainly can. The Bake-Neko is one of my favorite characters in Guardian of the Green Hill. How can I resist a two-tailed demon cat who looks like this:

and says:

You did the great magic, did you not? Surely that was all for me, lovely me? I imagine you heard of my great beauty and unsurpassed softness and decided you must stop at nothing to do me this favor. And I, in return, allow you a glimpse of me.”

Or, when he finds the heroine unclothed:

The protuberances and declivities of your species don’t interest me. Or perhaps you hide your ungainly hairless body in natural shame, for beside lovely me, what an unsightly creature you are. Still, as there must be admirers and admirerees, I do not begrudge you your existence.”

The quintessence of cathood, my Bake-Neko considers himself the supreme being, but he's gracious enough to occasionally help out the less-fortunate and less-furry. The Bake-Neko (or bake-neko, or bakeneko) of Japanese folklore is a confusing creature, sometimes benevolent, sometimes downright wicked. So of course he fits in well with the morally ambiguous fairies. According to some legends, a cat can become bake-neko if it lives a certain number of years (I've read anything from 13 to 100), grows an unusually long tail, or weighs more than one kan, which is a little over 8 pounds. So apparently, every cat I've ever owned is a bake-neko. Sometimes they live peacefully with humans and bring luck and riches to their companions. Sometimes they eat the woman who owns them and take her shape.

And, because all writers have to have cats, here is my own little neko, Whiskey:


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Post -- JRo's Pet Words

I'm very happy to have MG and YA writer JRo (Jaye Robin Brown) as my guest on The Omniscient Third Person. I too definitely indulge my inner gangsta on occasion, usually when I'm alone in the car and I can crank up the crunk without scarring my Little Guy for life. What does one of her pet words have in common with one of my favorites, odsfish? They're both minced oaths. I think I'll write about them one of these days. Visit JRo at her blog, XO, L

I’m excited to have a chance to blog about words. Because words are power. Words can create entire worlds, paint pictures, and fill us with intense emotion. Words are also fun. Made-up words or words that just roll around and squish over your tongue. Words that make you giggle. Words are good medicine.

So, in no certain order, in stream of consciousness style, I give you a few of my favorites.

Juicy – Just say it. Juicy. That rounding of the mouth, the “oo” sound – the thought of ripe fruit, yellow-packaged gum, or a hot babe.

Obstreperous – This one requires a deepening of the voice. Imagine a British nanny, harrumphing her way across the page, complaining (her glasses on the bridge of her nose) about “controlling that obstreperous child.” I love this word. In a recent art project where my Art I students picked three words to describe themselves and made a collage with those words, my loud and uncontrollable sophomore girl picked this word for herself. And it’s perfect.

Shizz – Okay, this is one of those made-up words brought to us by pop culture icon, Snoop Dog. But it’s just fun to say, “That is the shizz!” It feels naughty. Like you’re cheating, because it’s a five letter word not a four letter word. It brings out your inner gangsta and makes you want to walk with a hitch in your stride. Fasnizzle my schnizzle, yo!

There are about a bazillion more most excellent words in our language. And don’t get me started on French – now there’s a language with some pretty words. But I’ll stop here, hoping you have a juicy day that is totally the shizz, even if you are feeling a bit obstreperous.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Great Price on Kindle Under the Green Hill

My wonderful publisher has set the Kindle price of Under the Green Hill at only $2.99! With the second book in the Green Hill series out now, this is a great opportunity to catch up on the first one. Thanks, Macmillan!! I'm not sure how long this special deal will last, so get while the gettin' is good!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Meet the Cover Characters

There are a lot of people (and fairies, and demon cats) on the cover of Guardian of the Green Hill, so I think I'll introduce you to a few of them. Today we have the star of the show, Meg Morgan.

Both Under the Green Hill and Guardian of the Green Hill are to a certain extent ensemble pieces, but Meg is the main character. She's twelve (she was older in earlier versions, but I'm a little old-fashioned and forget how elderly a thirteen year old girl can really be) and is an adorable little worry-wort with a mother-complex, who will take the weight of the world on her shoulders if it means saving those she loves.

In the first book, she took her older brother's place when he was recruited to fight in the fairy Midsummer War. Now she's feeling pressured to take over for her ancient great-great aunt Phyllida, the current Guardian, mediator between the human and fair worlds. Meg is brave, clever, loyal... but she doesn't know if she's ready to be saddled with a lifetime of responsibilities. Of course, she's a much better candidate than the psychotic artist who is scheming for the job!

In the cover art, she's shown drowsing in a bluebell wood. I hope you all know to stay away from those! They're as bad as mushroom rings. Meg has had several artistic incarnations, and though this version doesn't look exactly as I picture her, I love her pose, her tomboyish angles, her vulnerability. Can you imagine sleeping with all those things looming behind you?


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post -- Shanan the Book Addict's Pet Words

Today, Shanan the Book Addict pays a visit to talk about some of her favorite words -- and they are doozies! If you'd like to write a guest post about your pet words, email me!

For the Love of Words

My grandmother was a huge reader and a huge lover of words. I remember one day she taught me a word that has stayed with me ever since. I try to use it every chance I get (which is not very often). It is probably my favorite word in part because it is fun to say. The word is sesquipedalian ([ses-kwi-pi-dey-lee-uhn, -deyl-yuhn])--the big word for people who love big words. It is positively poetic.

Another word that I love the sound of is serendipity ([ser-uhn-dip-i-tee])--an aptitude for making desirable discovery by accident. How can you not love a word with an alliteration in the definition? Oh wait there is another word I love – alliteration ([uh-lit-uh-rey-shuhn]). The word itself sounds okay – but the commencement of two or more words of a word group with the same letter is a lot of fun. It allows me to say Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers which always gives me a reason to smile.

BAM! Head in hand – I almost forgot another of my favorite words, onomatopoeia ([on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh, ‐mah-tuh‐]) or a word for words formed by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent. I remember learning this word in school and having them show clips of the old Batman shows where they put words like BOOM! across the screen during the fight scenes.

My teachers also liked to teach with puzzles (or maybe they just knew I liked learning with puzzles?). Whatever the reason, some of my favorite puzzles involve creating palindromes ([pal-in-drohm]) or words, lines, verse, etc. that can be read the same forward and backwards. Madam, I'm Adam or Poor Dan is in a droop or if I want to be boring the word level (which ironically is the one I always remember first).

I remember winning a contest in one of my grade school classes to find and list the most oxymorons ([ok-si-mawr-on, -mohr-on]) or a figure of speech where two or more words come together to form an apparent contradiction for effect. Since I love seafood (and live in the desert so I do not get to eat it enough), my first example was always Jumbo Shrimp.

So I hope you enjoyed the trip through some of my favorite words. I hope they make you smile too.