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The Language Problem in Fantasy (Or, Why I’ve Gained So Much More Respect for Tolkien and Translators Lately)

I originally posted this on Reddit.

The study of etymology (the study of words, not ants) has been a bit of a curse to me as both a fantasy fan and author, because whenever I come across or use a word whose etymology I know or can intuit based off my prior knowledge, I immediately have to parse whether it makes sense there. Some words are just so tied into the history, culture, and evolution of a language that they just don’t make sense in fantasy novels. It throws me out of the story if it doesn’t makes sense, which, well, is really jarring. I could just stop studying etymology, I suppose, but that’s definitely not happening and there’s no point suggesting it.

When reading a fantasy novel and giving serious consideration to what’s going on language-wise inside the story, you’ve got to assume that the characters are either:

A: speaking English (or whatever language you’re reading the book in), or

B: Having their speech translated from their language into English (or, again, whatever language you’re reading in) by the author of the book. (Or, rarely, by a translator within the book who is acting as a narrator.)

Continue reading “The Language Problem in Fantasy (Or, Why I’ve Gained So Much More Respect for Tolkien and Translators Lately)”

Mage Errant is the Audible Daily Deal

The Mage Errant Publisher’s Pack is the Audible Daily Deal for January 5th! If you’re an Audible member, you can pick it up for just $5.95. It includes Into the Labyrinth and Jewel of the Endless Erg (books 1-2) narrated by the fantastic Ralph Lister.

Plus, the ebook compilation is on sale for $1.99!

And, of course, the audiobook for book 3 is currently available for preorder!

Told you I’d have some fun news soon!

Publisher's Pack Cover

2019 Year in Review, 2020 Plans

Dangit, Brandon Sanderson, you already took the “State of the Union” gag with your yearly update, and now I don’t know what to call mine. I’d like to name it something clever, but…

Anyhow, 2019 has been one hell of a year.

  • Released Jewel of the Endless Erg in February, and it immediately started doing spectacular. But, since it takes 60 days after the month I earn money in to get my royalties from Amazon, I had to keep working my terrible grocery store job for another couple months.
  • Signed an audiobook deal with Podium Publishing, which I’m still incredibly happy about.
  • So I just saved all my money, so I could quit my job as soon as possible- which ended up being the beginning of April. April was kind of a lean month, and I ate lots of beans and ramen, but I didn’t have to spend 40 hours a week as a grocery store greeter, and I could officially call myself a full time author.
  • The next few months were, to say the least, hectic ones. Had a close friend end our friendship because he couldn’t handle my success (financial and otherwise), spent a good chunk of the summer traveling (went to Israel on my free birthright trip, visited family), wrote A Traitor in Skyhold, and worked at preparing for life as a digital nomad.
  • On August 8th, I moved out of Portland, Oregon, and began life as a digital nomad. It’s something I’d wanted to do for several years, but never had enough in the way of stable remote income before to attempt. I spent the next few weeks visiting friends and family across the States, and releasing A Traitor in Skyhold during that time.
  • I started my Patreon, writing a monthly short story set in the Mage Errant universe. It’s been a lot of fun! There’s a deleted Alustin scene from book 3, the adventures of Talia’s brother Gram, Sabae’s grandmother solving mysteries, and adventures of past Librarians Errant, with much more planned for the future! (If Patreon’s not your thing, no worries, they’ll eventually be compiled into a short story collection!)
  • At the end of August, I flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I’ve been living in SE Asia ever since. I’ve largely stayed in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, though I’ve moved around a good bit. It’s been awesome, but also a lot more difficult- it can be a very socially isolating lifestyle, and it’s certainly been highly disruptive to my writing. I’m starting to get a handle on how to deal with that and stay productive, however. (Coworking spaces are my friends there, on both counts.)
  • In November, finally feeling sufficiently financially stable for the first time in my life, I started doing something that I’d also wanted to do for years. Considering how much cheaper it is for me to travel full time than to live in Portland, I’m not only starting to pay back my student loans, I’ve been able to start donating part of my income to charity. (Minimum 10% a month, though sometimes more.) I’ve always felt a strong call to try and make the world a better place, and for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in a position to actually make a difference. This was, in part, inspired by the Effective Altruism movement, though I disagree with several of their priorities and tactics. (Most notably, of course, their close affiliation with MIRI and the Rationalists.) I’ll probably do a longer post on this at some point soon.
    • With the royalty check I got at the end of November, I provided a $1,000 matching donation to Worldbuilders for their end of year fundraiser. I also donated ten copies of the first two Mage Errant books to their raffle. Worldbuilders has been important to me personally for years. Patrick Rothfuss is absolutely my role model for how to be a socially responsible novelist, and Worldbuilders is a great cause.
    • With the royalty check I got at the end of December, I split my donation between the fantastic Center for Investigative Reporting and the Ocean Conservancy. Now more than ever, we need high quality journalism, and the Center for Investigative Reporting has done in depth reporting with integrity for decades now. As for the Ocean Conservancy- I’m a passionate environmentalist, and I consider marine issues some of the most vital at the moment.
  • I flew my youngest brother out to visit me here in SE Asia for the a couple weeks, and had an absolute blast. We went to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, celebrated Hannukah on one of Thailand’s gorgeous tropical islands, then visited Bangkok for New Years. It was great to see him again, and definitely recharged my mental batteries.

2020 Plans

I have a TON planned for 2020.

  • Currently writing from Bangkok, and getting ready to go spend a few weeks finishing The Wrack on another one of Thailand’s beautiful tropical islands. This one has been really tough. I was experimenting with a Brandon Sanderson style taking a break between books in a series approach, and honestly, I don’t think it’s probably for me. I work best when I build up momentum, and I should have waited to write this one until I finished Mage Errant. You live and you learn.
  • Lots more travel, of course.
  • Mage Errant 4 should progress really quickly. It’s the most heavily planned out book in the series, and possibly the one I’m most excited for. I expect it to be out in late Spring or Early summer, followed by Mage Errant 5 in early fall. Of course, there’s always the risk of being over-ambitious, but I’ll keep you updated if I get set back.
  • I’ll be continuing the Patreon for the foreseeable future, as well.
  • When Mage Errant 6 is done (early 2021, most likely), I’ll be doing another standalone novel, followed by my next series, which I’m excited to show you all. (Spoiler alert- the covers are going to feature the color green quite heavily.) And, for those who haven’t guessed from the clues in Mage Errant (or who I haven’t just told), yes, I’m doing a shared multiverse similar to Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere or Will Wight’s… Williverse. Both my series and my standalone novels are all fitting into it. Mine’s called the Aetherverse, and I have big, big plans for it. (I’ve been foreshadowing things since Into the Labyrinth, some of which won’t even play out for 10 or more books into the future in different series!)
  • I also have a number of secret projects I’m working on! We’ll see what comes of them.

And keep your eyes peeled the next few days- I’ll have a few more fun announcements for you all!