Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review of The Revenge of the Dead Enemy, by Marva Dasef

I haven't been blogging lately because of my recent surgery -- no enthusiam left for anything.  However, Marva Dasef, who has become one of my most devoted fans, posted a review on Dec. 19 (one day after the surgery) of the final Ki'shto'ba volume.  It's a great review (5 star) and I'm sorry I am only just getting around to sharing it here. See the original on Amazon, Goodreads, or Smashwords.  (And Marva is a really good writer herself.  See her books, including many in audio format, at Amazon.)
I'm a Termite Lover for Life
So you think you can't empathize with a giant termite? We've had many insectoid and arachnid heroes in literature. Consider "Charlotte's Web." If you didn't get teary-eyed when Charlotte died, then you must have a heart of stone. Other stories empathetic toward multi-legged creatures: Ant Bully, It's a Bug's Life, Bee Story. I'm sure there are others. I don't usually seek out books about bugs, but I could come up with these examples in a few seconds.

So, what about the entire epic journey "The Labors of Ki'sh'toba: Volumes 1-6?" I have previously reviewed 1-5, not to mention the 2-volume "Termite Queen" saga. I liked them...a lot. I continually complained about the difficult names, places, and concepts with the conlang (constructed language) of the Termite world. Too many apostrophes and a bunch of other punctuation I have no clue how to pronounce.

I will complain no more. I still can't pronounce 90% of the termite language, but I can visually recognize the names of the main characters. All have become familiar and lovable in their own ways. Di'fa'kro'mi, the Remembrancer (story teller) is quite an adept author considering he had to invent a written language in which to tell the tales. I know, the real Remembrancer is Lorinda Taylor, but she is such a wonderful writer, I was immersed in the stories as if they were really told by Di'fa'kro'mi.

As I did when first reading "Charlotte's Web," I wept over the death of some of my favorites throughout the entire six volumes. I cried for termites? Yes, I did, and I'm not ashamed.

The entire tale of Ki'shto'ba and his labors (modeled on the Greek Hercules myth) is hard to get into, but an epic worthy of the difficulty of the journey.

I completely and thoroughly recommend the entire six volumes. But you might want to start with the Termite Queen books to allow yourself to ease into the idea of termite heroes.
Thanks, Marva!  I appreciate it so much! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Another New Review! The Storm-Wing, This Time!

Adam Walker (my good conlanging buddy) has posted a review of The Storm-Wing over on Goodreads.  He liked it a lot!   Thank you, Adam!  Read the text below.
[Also, all my books are FREE right now with Smashwords coupons.  See my blog Ruminations of a Remembrancer for the codes.  Hurry -- limited time offer!]
       This is the second volume in Ms. Taylor's epic (in every sense of the word!) retelling of the Hercules myths. Perhaps retelling is not quite the right word here. Perhaps resetting would be better. What Ms. Taylor has done, and done very well with great cleverness and whimsy, is to take the epic mythos surrounding Hercules, the Twelve Labors and a number of the other less well-know stories surrounding this most popular of Greek heroes, and recast them in another world with extraterrestrials in all the starring roles.
       Her Shshi are giant, intelligent (and funny!) termite people. So right off you know there will be much adapting of the stories to fit with a completely alien biology. For instance, the warrior caste of the Shshi are, like the warriors of Earthly termites, non-sexed beings, several of Hercules more sexually charged exploits are not appropriate to the biology and culture of the Shshi. Ms. Taylor also takes the liberty of working in retellings of other epic tales of daring-do. This volume includes a very clever retelling of the Beowulf story, which fits perfectly with the surrounding Herculean material.
       If you like well-thought-out extraterrestrial, complete with cool cultures and languages, this book has it. If you enjoy the epic tales of yore, this book has it. If you enjoy humor mixed with your epic battles and fierce single combat, this book has it.
       There are so many reasons to pick this book up, and none to put it down!

Friday, November 28, 2014

New Review of The Wood Where the Two Moons Shine!

Here is Marva Dasef's review of v.5 of the series
The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head
See Marva's publications (YA and MG books,
 as well as adult, and a lot of audio books)
at Amazon
       In addition to looking up the myths yourself, you can read the posts in this blog in the series "The Life of Hercules," where I talk a good deal about how I adapted the stories.  I'd also welcome comments on how you feel about the conlangs.  Of course, you'd have to read some of my books first! 
An Epic Worthy of the Mythology

 Okay, if you haven't started with Volume 1 and worked your way through to this 5th volume, you'll have no idea what it's all about. Stop reading the review right now. Go to Amazon or Smashwords and start at the previous two-volume book, "The Termite Queen, Vol. 1" or at least at "The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, Vol. 1" which picks up events after the first book.
       While an excellent addition to the epic tale of heroic alien termites, I wanted a little more to highlight Ki'shto'ba's quest's end. As the first volume of the story of Is’a’pai’a's search for the golden (fleece) fungus, it's a smooth transition into the young warrior's quest.
       Yes, this is an imagining of Jason and the Argonauts. Most of the characters in the Greek myth are present and accounted for. But this doesn't need to be a deed for deed, character for character retelling. Some aspects of the Jason myth are impossible. For example, Medea as Jason's wife just won't fit into the story of neuter termite warriors. I suspect a Mother (queen) termite will stand in for Medea at some point.
       Am I complaining that the epic adventures of Hercules (Ki'shto'ba) and Jason (Is'a'pai'a) are utilized as the basis for the termites' tellings? Not at all. I went to my Dictionary of Mythology to remind myself of the human equivalents to the termite heroes and deeds.
       My only problem throughout the series is the con-lang (constructed language) Ms. Taylor has created. It's an impressive feat. On the other hand, it's reading a story with all the names and lots of other words are written in Urdu or Finnish. Hard to remember who is who and what is what. I got used to the main characters' names, but new characters and words introduced along the way didn't stick quite as well. This makes the book difficult to read without breaking immersion. The imaginary "translator" of the termite language text, could easily have said "Since the names are difficult, I will substitute more familiar (or shorter) terms to stand in. Please see the Appendix (yes, there is one) as needed." Thus, Ki'shto'ba would be called Kip or Kish, Is'a'pai'a could be Ike or Isa. I would definitely be easier to read.
       The difficulty of maintaining immersion because of the con-lang dropped a star off the rating [to 4 star]. In all other ways, I highly recommend both series. I look forward to reading Isa's continued quest for the golden fungus in volume 6.
(Don't forget to check out my new book trailer at YouTube)

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Life of Hercules: The Argonauts

Eighth of a series. Here are the earlier posts:
This is an illustration I made showing
Mor'gwai (the Argo) sailing away from
the fortress of Vok'seit'chet.  I considered
adapting this for the cover of v.6, but I settled
on the Point of the Monster instead.
(Click for larger view)
       After Jason agreed to sail away from Iolcus on a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece, he needed a ship and a crew.  The ship came to be called the Argo after the shipwright who built it, and the crew of heroes who sailed in it were called the Argonauts.
       Sources usually agree that there were about 50 Argonauts.  Obviously, I couldn't utilize all of these characters, so I picked out several that I felt were essential to my version of the story.  Of course Heracles had to be included, since Ki'shto'ba is a stand-in for Heracles.  However, Heracles really played a rather small role in the Quest for the Golden Fleece, leaving the Quest early for reasons I won't go into here.  This aspect plays a significant role in my interpretation, but it would be a spoiler to elaborate too much on it.
       So I went through Robert Graves' list of Argonauts and picked out some that would serve a function in my plotline.
       Atalanta:  I've dealt with her before (in the post about the Calydonian boar).  Thel'tav'a, the female At'ein'zei Intercaste Warrior, fills this role.  Meleager was also supposed to be an Argonaut, but in my tale my termite version of the character is already dead.
       Amphiaraus, the Argive Seer:  I had always intended the 11th Companion to be a Seer, so I sifted through the list of Argonauts to find one, and Amphiaraus stuck out immediately.  If you look him up in Wikipedia, he has a considerable side story of his own but isn't prominent in the Golden Fleece quest.  However, I settled on him for one special reason: his name means "Twice Cursed."  (It might mean, according to Wikipedia, "Twice Ares-like," but I employed the twice-cursed connotation.)  I came up with the idea of a Seer who has seen everything that is to come but can't recall what he has seen until it has happened.  He is cursed to know all and to know nothing, and to be unable to change the future.  How could a person be more doubly cursed that that?  I think that was a brilliant idea, but for the life of me I can't recall how I came up with it.  I named him Da'sask'ni'a, which also means "Twice Cursed."
       Argus the Thespian, builder of the Argo:  Is'a'pai'a needed a ship just as Jason did, and so I made the 12th Companion to be the Bright-and-Dark Boatbuilder, Mo'wiv.  The name Argus means "bright," so this was close enough.  Mo'wiv is a Builder-Worker, a famous shipwright in the lands of the Water People.  I also made him a skilled ship's Captain, because obviously none of the Companions of Ki'shto'ba and Is'a'pai'a knows anything about sailing.  "According to other legends [the Argo] contained in her prow a magical piece of timber from the sacred forest of Dodona, which could speak and render prophecies." (Wikipedia)  From this, and from the knowledge that the early Greeks often painted eyes on their prow, I got the idea for the Moon-Eyes of the Mother.  And all ships need a figurehead, so the running reptile Rin'dog'zei fit perfectly.
       Castor, the Spartan wrestler, and his twin, Polydeuces, the Spartan boxer, known as the Dioscuri, or Sons of Zeus.  In case nobody has guessed it to this point, the twins known as the Shin'ki'no'hna, or Offspring of the King, reflect this pair.  Castor means "beaver," which is impossible to translate into Shshi, so I called that one Ti'a'gwol'a, which means "sweet chewer."  Polydeuces means "much sweeter wine," so I made him Ti'a'toig'a, which means "sweet swallower."  Termites don't box, so I substituted the skill of jaw-fencing (the Water People have those long, narrow pointed jaws, as you've seen in the pictures of Is'a'pai'a). 
       And -- oh, dear! -- I just discovered an error   In the book people are always mixing up the twins because they really are identical. Now it appears even I mixed them up.  I made Ti'a'toig'a (Polydeuces) the wrestler, when it should have been Ti'a'gwol'a (Castor).  Oh, well, if I'm that confused, the readers aren't going to know the difference.  I don't believe I ever wrote about the meaning of the names.
        Sigh.  Moving on ...
       Hylas, squire to Heracles:  This character is, of course, Twa'sei.  Enough said on that.
       Orpheus: Bu'gan'zei the 9th Companion is Orpheus, but you all knew that.
      Tiphys, the Helmsman:  The name means "from the pool" and the minor character Ao'gwai, helmsman for the Quest ship, reflects that; its name means "pool."
        And there you have the Argonauts -- the mor'gwai'zei| -- denizens of the ship Mor'gwai, which means "Bright Water."  This reflects the name of its shipwright, Mo'wiv, even as the Argo reflects the name Argus.

       One other note: a second pair of twins sailed on the Argo -- Idas and Lynceus.  Expect to see this pair turn up in the sequel, assuming I ever get it written!

       And a further afternote:
       Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape) has reviewed v.6 The Revenge of the Dead Enemy as follows (thanks, Chris!  You're my true-blue fan!)
       Of all the books in this series, this is the one I dreaded reading.
       There are a lot of prophecies fulfilled, resulting in the loss of great companions and it is the last book of the series.
       The final few chapters not only gripped me with sadness, they helped me reconcile with the losses (Ki'shto'ba's final moments were an astounding fulfilment of a prophecy AND achieved the 12th and final Wonder in a way that is unparalleled by any Shi'Shi) AND gave me hope that another remarkable series may be penned by the author....
       I certainly hope so...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Milestone Is Reached! The Final Volume of the Ki'shto'ba Series Has Been Published!

Back cover of The Revenge of the Dead Enemy
Amazon, Amazon UK, and all other countries
        I began to write the series The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head at the beginning of 2001 (in fact I labeled it as starting on Christmas Day, 2000) and I completed the revision of the first draft of the final volume on 7/29/03.
       Now on 10/27/14, the entire series has finally been published!

       I've taken Ki'shto'ba and its Twelve Companions on the promised Quest to reach the sea, moving from the original Three Companions (Di'fa'kro'mi, Wei'tu, and Twa'sei) to the last Two, Mo'wiv the Shipwright and Da'sask'ni'a the Doubly Cursed Seer (both introduced in v.5).  Along the way we met the 4th Companion, Ki'shto'ba's Twin, A'zhu'lo (later surnamed Beloved of Champions under tragic circumstances).  We acquired the 5th Companion, Za'dut the Tricky Lizard (also more nobly surnamed Fortress Breaker), who provided an endless stream of audacious, useful, and entertaining pranks and inventions.  We added a Healer, Ra'fa'kat'wei, who had a quest of her own -- to find an antidote to the snail-poison that killed a great Champion of her people.  We discovered a young Warrior of the Water People, Is'a'pai'a, an exile who knew nothing of its heritage, and that Warrior's helper Krai'zei, one of the Yo'sho'zei, a people with the reputation for mysterious powers.  Finally, we met the 9th Companion, Bu'gan'zei, a word-crafter who has invented a new way of speaking that can charm the very leaves and stones -- who is destined to guide Ki'shto'ba into the World Below.  And then there is the 10th, Thel'tav'a  the Intercaste, a female winged and eyed Warrior whose name means Loyal to the Good and who will give her fidelity only to one who can best her in battle. 
       When the Quest finally reaches the sea, the emphasis shifts to Is'a'pai'a's own quest -- the Quest for the Golden Fungus.  Ki'shto'ba begins to play a support role until events unfold that fulfill the final prophecies that have hedged the Quest about from the very beginning. 
       And this means that the final volume leaves much unresolved.  It means that I need to write a seventh volume.  In 2003, after working intensively on this series for two and a half years, I was a little burned out on it and I decided to write something else for a while.  I started The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, and that was a disaster -- not that the book was without value but it swallowed me up and became endless.  I never got back to that seventh volume.
       Now I've got to write it.  It won't be called Volume Seven -- it will be called
 The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head: The Sequel
The Buried Ship at the End of the World
(unless I change my mind on the volume title) 
       I have a lot of notes, but I have to do some more research on the mythology that I'll be interpreting and I have to carefully work out the timeline.  I also need to make a chapter outline, because I want to cover certain events in a structured way that will keep the book from growing to an unmanageable length (my worst failing).  I guess I really am a planner and not a pantser, because improvisation is deadly for me.  That is, I can improvise in the actual writing process, but not in figuring out what I want to put in the plot.   
       This won't be a quick undertaking, because when I get inspired, I can write fast, but then I like to take a lot of time to "cook" the book -- let it simmer, rest, and then be stirred and seasoned over and over.  And I'll also have to do a cover drawing from scratch -- no older drawings here that I can pull out of my hat.  And I'll have to make the maps, also.
       I may work on some other material as well, like trying to decide what to do with The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, and also that extract called Father and Demons that I had planned to publish earlier only to change my mind.  So I think I have more than enough creative projects to move to the front burner.
       In the meantime, I'd love to have more readers for what I've already published.  I'm going to try to do more promotion.  I think there are a lot of people out there who would be surprised at what a great read my books are, particularly the Ki'shto'ba series, which only gets more intense and more moving as it goes along (be sure you have some hankies handy when you read The Revenge of the Dead Enemy). 
       So stay tuned for further developments, and let me hear from you as you enjoy my creations!  You can find me on Facebook, on Twitter @TermiteWriter, and also on my Google+ community, Books by TermiteWriter.  Or leave your comments on this blog or on my other blog Ruminations of a Remembrancer. 
       P.S.  Watch for a Facebook event soon!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Opinions Needed: Which Cover Works Best?

Version No. 1
       I composed this picture a long time ago and I decided it made a great cover for v.6 of the Ki'shto'ba series.  Now you're going to say, the four versions are all the same, but if you look closely, they are not.  (It becomes one of those "Find six differences in these pictures" puzzle!) My main problem is getting the sea to look halfway decent.  For The Wood Where the Two Moon Shines, I needed a twilight sea with a lot of foam and golden highlights, since the sun was setting.  A plain darkish blue worked fine for the sea.  Here it's broad daylight and the sea needs texture.  It's really tough to get that with the Word drawing program . 
       I've left the waves in the lower part on all the versions, but the last three versions have a darker blue sea, so I changed the color of the waves to grayish-white.  Kind of like making a negative instead of a positive.
Version No. 2
       Then I used broadly dashed lines in the upper part to try to make the sea look less static.  You can see I made them either a different shade of blue or they are grayish white.  In the 3rd and 4th versions, I removed them entirely.  Now I can't make up my mind whether it looks better with or without those squiggles.  I really want some opinions and if you're not comfortable commenting on a Blogger blog, leave a message for me on Twitter @TermiteWriter or post on my Facebook timeline or page or on Google+.
       One other thing that differs:  I used a different typeface on Version No. 4.  I've pretty much settled on that one, for the cover and the title page and headers, etc.
       It works best if you click on the pictures and get a bigger version where the detail is easier to see.

       The scene depicts the Point of the Monster (Dan'ki'no'dai).  Remember the story of Perseus and Andromeda?  Here is what is said about it in the book:

       As we sailed into the deep bay where Li’hwai’chet was located, we had to pass the impressive headland that thrust out along its west side. “Dan’ki’no’dai,” said Mo’wiv. “Can you Moon-Wings see the monster upon it?"
        We craned our necks and could indeed make out the shape of an enormous head at the top of the point and twisted rocks that descended in great coils.
        Mo’wiv was continuing, “It is said that the ancient hero Wak’a’lo’a possessed the head of a magical She-Monster that it had killed in lands beyond the north wind. The palps on this head would turn anything they touched to stone. Wak’a’lo’a used it to destroy the fierce sea-worm whose petrified remains you see here and thus saved a female nymph from being carried off by Guoi’me’uh’hma’no’tze … [i.e., the Sea King]”

Version No. 3
     At that point I exclaimed, “Oh!  The Northern Nasutes told that tale, only they substituted Ju’mu for Wak’a’lo’a.  So this is the place where that myth originated!”  And Ra’fa’kat’wei and I gawked with even greater curiosity.
       And we sailed on, through the shadow of the Point of the Monster, which loomed above us like a warning not to overstep ourselves – a reminder that, even though one of us had earned the surname “Monster-Slayer,” we did not live in the same age as ancient heroes.

Version No. 4

Monday, September 22, 2014

Imbas Forosnai: Poetic Inspiration of the Irish Filidh, by Ali Isaac

       I have recently discovered Ali Isaac, who blogs about Irish mythology and writes stories utilizing it.  She has done an impressive amount of research on this subject, and since I'm not particularly well versed in Irish myth, I thought one of her posts would enhance the topic of my blog, namely, the adaptation of myth in fiction. 
       Oh, by the way, Ali is writing a series called the Tir na Nog trilogy.  Check them out when you go over to her blog to read the rest of this post.  I haven't read them, but I'm about to put them on my To-Read list on Goodreads, because they definitely seem like my kind of book!  FYI, "Tir na Nog" means "Land of the Young" and is a name for the Irish Otherword. 
The Salmon of Knowledge
       Something which intrigued me during my research for my latest book, Conor Kelly and The Fenian King, was Fionn mac Cumhall’s ability to call forth his magical powers and divine the future by sucking or biting on his thumb.
       The story goes that, as a boy, whilst serving an apprenticeship with the Druid Finegas, he catches the Salmon of Knowledge and cooks it for his master. As he turns the fish in the pan, he scalds his thumb. Instinctively, he places his thumb in his mouth to cool the burn, thus ingesting the tiny scrap of fish skin stuck there, and acquiring the salmon’s knowledge. Afterwards, he has only to touch his thumb to his mouth to foretell the future, and seek the answers to his questions.
       According to the Senshas Mor (an ancient book of Brehon law), Fionn uses this power twice in the story ‘Fionn and the Man in the Tree’. When the Sidhe steal the Fianna’s food three times in a row as the food is cooking, Fionn is enraged and chases the thief back to his Sidhe-mound. A woman slams the door behind the thief, trapping Fionn’s thumb. He pops the injured digit in his mouth, and receives some kind of divine knowledge which he recites in a poem. Later in the same story, he discovers the identity of an escaped servant by putting his thumb in his mouth and chanting an incantation.
       This act of looking into the future and chanting or reciting prophecy in the form of poetry is called Imbas Forosnai (imbas meaning ‘inspiration’, in particular the sacred poetic inspiration of the ancient Filidh, and forosnai meaning ‘illuminating’ or ‘that which illuminates’). It involves the use of sensory deprivation in order to pass into a trance-like state.
Read more of this post HERE.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Life of Hercules: The Golden Fleece (The Young Jason)

Seventh of a series. Here are the earlier posts:

Here is a detail of one of my drawings, showing Is'a'pai'a
 carrying ta'ta'wa'tze| on its back across the river.
Believe it or not, I couldn't find a really appropriate
 classical picture showing either the crossing of the river
 or the first meeting of Jason with Pelias.
       Hercules was an Argonaut -- a member of Jason's crew on the ship Argo who shared in all the fantastic adventures of this crew of doughty Champions. Hercules was not a major participant and he left the Quest before it was finished, but since it was important in his life, I had to take it into consideration as part of my series The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head.
       Those of you who are reading the series may have guessed that Is'a'pai'a, the young outcast Tramontane Warrior, is the stand-in for Jason. The early part of Jason's life forms a fascinating story of its own.
       (Parenthetically, the name "Jason" means "Healer," and so I called my character "Is'a'pai'a," which in the Shshi language means "Healing Warrior.")
       When you read The Wood Where the Two Moons Shine, you should see many parallels with the early life of of Jason.  It's a little complicated in its relationships, so I'm going to quote directly from Robert Graves' Greek Myths (section 148, "The Argonauts Assemble"):

       "After the death of King Cretheus the Aeolian, Pelias, son of Poseidon, already an old man, seized the Iolcan throne from his half-brother Aeson, the rightful heir.  An oracle presently warning him that he would be killed by a descendant of Aeolus, Pelias put to death every prominent Aeolian he dared to lay hands upon, except Aeson, whom he spared for his mother Tyro's sake, but kept a prisoner in the palace, forcing him to renounce his inheritance."
       In my rendition, Pelias is Wei'thel'a'han, believed to be an offspring of the Highest Mother's Sea King.  He is a tyrant from across the sea who invaded and seized the fortress of Hwai'ran'chet (Iolcus), only to find that the current Mother's primary King happens to be Wei'thel'a'han's sibling, both hailing from the fortress of Fet'ro'chet.  At that point the Seer/Sorcerer No'tuk'a'nei (who has no direct equivalent in this part of the myths, except as the oracle who predicted the death of Pelias) foretells that a scion of the fortress Fet'ro'chet would cause Wei'thel'a'han's death.  So Wei'thel'a'han, who is desperately afraid of death, commits a great atrocity, slaughtering every individual, nymph, and egg in Hwai'ran'chet who was laid after the coming of Fet'ro'hma'no'tze, the King in question.  However, Wei'thel'a'han is quite superstitious and fears to kill  its own sibling, so Fet'ro'hma'no'tze is simply removed from the presence of the Mother and imprisoned.
       Can you see the parallels?  Fet'ro'chet the King represents Aeson.

       Graves continues, "Now, Aeson had married Polymele [equivalent to the Mother Ti'gan'ta'zei in Hwai'ran'chet] ... and bore him one son.  ...  Pelias would have destroyed the child without mercy, had not Polymele summoned her kinswomen to weep over him, as though he were still-born, and then smuggled him out of the city to Mount Pelion; where Cheiron the Centaur reared him, as he did ... with ... Achilles ... and other famous heroes."
       In my rendition, the fortress's former Seer smuggles out one small, shriveled egg after telling everyone that it surely was infertile and offering to take it to the Charnel herself.  Instead, she takes it into the Spirit Hills, to Zan'tet, the principal fortress of the Yo'sho'zei (equivalent to the Centaurs), where Vai'zei'a'parn the Leader of the Yo'sho'zei, cares for it.  Ultimately, it hatches into a little nymph whom Seers name Is'a'pai'a.  These same Seers then caution Vai'zei'a'parn that when Is'a'pai'a passes its fourth molt, it must be sent away to seek a great northern hero who would teach it how to be a true Champion.  (I think I just invented this last part, but it certainly makes sense.  Nobody would want Wei'thel'a'han to learn of the existence of Is'a'pai'a before it matured, and this was a way to get Ki'shto'ba into the story.)

       Now, a second oracle warned Pelias to beware a one-sandalled man, and one day on the seashore he encounters exactly that.  Graves writes, "The other sandal he had lost in the muddy river Anaurus ... by the connivance of a crone who, standing on the farther bank, begged passersby to carry her across.  None took pity on her, until this young stranger courteously offered her his broad back; but he found himself staggering under the weight, since she was none other than the goddess Hera in disguise.  For Pelias had vexed Hera, by withholding her customary sacrifice, and she was determined to punish him for this neglect."
       Therefore, when Pelias asks for the name and lineage of this stranger, Jason blurts out the truth.  "Pelias glared at him balefully.  'What would you do,' he inquired suddenly, 'if an oracle announced that one of your fellow citizens were destined to kill you?'
       "'I would send him to fetch the golden ram's fleece from Colchis,' Jason replied, not knowing that Hera had placed those words in his mouth." 
       Of course, this is exactly what is destined to happen, and so the Quest for the Golden Fleece was launched.  The problem is, how does one adapt all that to the termite culture?  Termites don't wear sandals, after all.  And how can Is'a'pai'a carry the Mother Goddess on its back?  But it makes very good sense that the same vengeful Highest-Mother-Who-Has-No-Name who engineered the downfall of Thel'or'ei for violating the prime directive of the Shshi worship system: thou shalt not harm the progenitors who give you life! -- that this same goddess would be enraged at Wei'thel'a'han for its own violent treatment of the life force. 
       Anyway, I'm not going to tell you how I did it!  In the picture above I purposely blocked out the lower part of Is'a'pai'a's six legs!  It's a pivotal event in the latest volume to be published, The Wood Where the Two Moon Shines, and if you want to know, you'll just have to read the book, or preferably the whole series, first!  


Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Wood Where the Two Moons Shine Is Published!

Front cover
The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head
Volume Five
The Wood Where the Two Moons Shine
is now published!
Only one more volume to go!
       Here is the description of v.5:
Back cover
The Companions arrive at the Hidden Fortress and meet Vai’zei’a’parn, the Leader of the Yo’sho’zei, who was Is’a’pai’a’s mentor.  Is’a’pai’a finally learns the story of its origin – how its egg was laid in Hwai’ran’chet at a time when that mighty fortress had come under the domination of an invading tyrant named Wei’thel’a’han.  Here the treacherous No’tuk’a’nei, a power-hungry Alate Seer-Sorcerer who happens to be the hatchmate of Vai’zei’a’parn, convinced the new Commander that a nymph of a certain lineage would be the agent of its death.  Since the current King of the fortress was of that lineage, Wei’thel’a’han ordered the destruction of every egg laid and every individual hatched since that King came to the Mother.  In the midst of the ensuing slaughter, one egg was rescued and taken to the Hidden Fortress, where it was given to Vai’zei’a’parn for safekeeping.  Is’a’pai’a hatched from this egg and now it learns that its destiny is to be the Champion who delivers Hwai’ran’chet – and its own Mother – from the clutches of the Tyrant and its evil Sorcerer.
       The Companions linger in Zan’tet, where a seemingly harmless adventure ends in disaster.  Ultimately, Ki’shto’ba and its Companions depart to finish the Quest to reach the sea before venturing into Hwai’ran’chet.  Accompanied by the newly acquired 11th Companion, the group soon encounters the 12th, who guides them to the shore.  Arriving at sunset, they can at last see the Golden Path on which thy must tread. 
Many prophecies will find their answer as the future continues to unfold.  In the final chapter, a ship has been built and the Quest for the Golden Fungus is about to begin.  The leadership of the Quest then passes to Is’a’pai’a even as the Companions learn the meaning of “The Wood Where the Two Moons Shine.”
A Word on Volume Six
The final volume in the series will be entitled The Revenge of the Dead Enemy, with all the ominous implications that phrase carries -- and you'll know what I mean if you've read the earlier volumes and remember the prophecies of certain Seers.  I hope to have v.6 published well before Christmas.  It will complete the questing begun by Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, Di'fa'kro'mi the Remembrancer, and their Companions way back at the end of The Termite Queen.  However, it doesn't complete the whole story, so
There must be a sequel!
And it hasn't been written yet!
My plan is to write one more book, which will probably be entitled The Buried Ship at the End of the World.  I expect the writing of this book to go a bit slow.  I haven't really written anything new (no major fiction at least) in several years, so I expect to be rusty.  In the meantime, I've also gotten older (I assume nobody has gotten younger over the last few years!) and less energetic. 
Furthermore, Di'fa'kro'mi won't be writing the last volume.  I won't say more than that right now, but the person composing the book will be inexperienced at the Remembrancer's craft  and he will have to narrate the tale in the third person.  I'm so used to Di'fa'kro'mi's point of view that I may find it hard to get inspired.  But maybe when I actually start writing, I'll get into it.  I have some notes already, and I intend to do some more mythological research.  I also mean to make a chapter outline and stick to it, so I won't make my usual blunder of letting the length get away from me.  I guess I really am a planner, not a pantser!  Improvising is disastrous for me!
In the meantime, those of you who haven't read any of the series have some fun ahead of you!  Here are the links where you can buy all my books, or scroll down the sidebar for individual volumes:
Amazon (Kindle should appear by 9/10/14)
(and all other Amazon branches)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Life of Hercules: The Centaurs and the Erymanthian Boar

Sixth of a series. Here are the earlier posts:

Terra cotta centaur statue, 8th c. BCE.
(Bibi Saint-Pol / Wikimedia Commons)

        The Centaurs and the Lapiths are both depicted in ancient myths as descendants of Ixion and they represent certain pre-Hellenic mountain tribes of northern Greece, according to Robert Graves in his Greek Myths.  Two different versions of their origin (see Lapiths and Centaurs in Wikipedia) confuse the picture, but in one of these Lapithes and Centaurus were presented as twins.  Lapithes went on to found the human race of Lapiths, while Centaurus mated with the Magnesian mares, producing the race of Centaurs.  Thus the two peoples were in effect cousins, even though they became mortal enemies.  Early depictions of Centaurs show them as humans with a human's legs and a horse's rear attached at the back, while  the currently more familiar form of a man's torso on a horse body developed later on.
       As time passed, the Centaurs began to be viewed as more barbarous than the human Lapiths.  "The strife among these cousins is a metaphor for the conflict between the lower appetites and civilized behavior in humankind." (Centaurs in Wikipedia)
       The Centaurs were unused to wine.  When they were invited to the wedding of the Lapith Pirithous, they consumed wine in a barbarous fashion, i.e. straight, undiluted with water, and in excessive quantities.  Hence, they became very drunk and began to attempt to have sex with all the women (and the men, too).  A great battle ensued, in which the Centaurs were defeated. 

Cheiron and possibly Achilles, although it
could just as well be Jason.
Etruscan vase, c. 500-480 BCE
(© Fæ / Wikimedia Commons)
       Strangely enough, even though the Centaurs represented the lower nature of humans, they could also produce great teachers, both of the arts of battle and of philosophical and moral matters.  This aspect of the Centaurs is best represented by the wise and honorable Cheiron.  Achilles' father gave him into Cheiron's tutelage to learn how to be a Champion, and Cheiron also mentored Patroclus, Asclepius, Jason, and other heroes (see list in the Wikipedia article).   He taught them not only how to fight but how to live. 
       Heracles was not mentored by Cheiron, but nevertheless they were friends.  This brings us to the topic of the Erymanthian Boar, the Fourth Labor of Heracles. I spoke about that briefly in my post The Life of Hercules: The First Six Labors, but I want to elaborate a bit here.  Boar hunts are common in Greek myth; after all the wild boar was a giant and fierce animal.  We already dicussed the Calydonian Boar Hunt, and who can forget that Adonis was killed by a boar?  However, our present interest lies in what happened as Heracles was on his way to Mount Erymanthos to capture the boar.  He stopped in at the house of Pholus, another kindly and friendly Centaur, and at dinner Heracles asked for wine.  Again, the concept that the Centaurs did not know how to handle wine comes into play.  The scent of wine attracted other Centaurs, who drank it straight, became rowdy, and attacked Heracles.  He shot at them with his arrows, which had been poisoned by the blood of the hydra, and they retreated to the cave-home of Cheiron.
       Curious as to why the arrows were so lethal, Pholus picked one up and dropped it on his own foot, thus causing his own death.  But more importantly, in the melee of the battle one of the arrows struck Cheiron.  Being a son of Chronus, Cheiron was immortal, but the pain of the poison was so great that he volunteered to give up his immortality in ransom for Prometheus.  Naturally, Heracles grieved mightily at having killed two of his old friends.

        So how do I make use of all this in The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head?  I needed a species of Shshi that could represent the Centaurs.  The termite world is not fantastic enough to have a people who are, say, half termite and half reptilian (there are no mammals on that planet).  But there are many varieties of nasutoids (termites whose soldiers have both fighting mandibles and a poison-spraying gland; true nasute soldiers have only a poison-spraying gland and hardly any mandibles at all).  To the plains Shshi Ki'shto'ba and Di'fa'kro'mi, a nasutoid appears like a hybrid.  So I created the Yo'sho'zei -- the Ancient Ones -- who are supposed to be an archaic species of Shshi, the oldest in origin that are known.  They have enormous, downward-hooking mandibles and a gland on their heads that produces a foamy, lethal acid spray.  Their home is far to the south, near the sea, in a obscure region known as the Spirit Hills, and they have a mysterious reputation of being Sorcerers and Sages, attuned to things of the spirit.  We meet one of their Workers in the person of Krai'zei, the young Is'a'pai'a's aide and caretaker.
       What do I do for Cheiron?  He is such an important figure that I divided him into two people.  The Warrior Ju'mu, whom we encounter in v.1: The War of the Stolen Mother represents the trainer of Warriors.  Ju'mu is shown as the mentor of Nei'ga'bao Swift-Foot just as Cheiron mentored Achilles and it teaches Ki'shto'ba how to fight with an extra-body weapon.  The name "Cheiron" means "hand," but I couldn't name Ju'mu just "Mu" (claw), so I named him "Hard Claw."
       The wise scholar and healer who is the other aspect of Cheiron doesn't appear as a speaking character until v.5: The Wood Where the Two Moons Shine, which I'm just preparing for publication.  Vai'zei'a'parn is an aged Alate who mentored Is'a'pai'a (the Jason figure) as a nymph and obeyed a Seer's instruction to send Is'a'pai'a off to roam northern lands and find a Champion to teach it.  I couldn't use the meaning "hand" twice, so Vai'zei'a'parn's name means "Giver of Knowledge."
       How I complete the myth -- i.e., how the Erymanthian boar fits in, how Heracles kills Cheiron by accident, and how the drunken Centaur aspect is utilized -- will remain a mystery until you read the fifth volume!

A more typical depiction of a Centaur
Probably one of the drunken ones!
Besides the Wikipedia references mentioned in the text above, the following articles are of interest: 

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Walker Scott's Interview of Me!

Line drawing of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head
and its helper, the Worker Twa'sei
        At the end of my interview of A Walker Scott, I mentioned that he was going to interview me in turn, but since he doesn't have a blog or a website, I would post the interview on my Ki'shto'ba blog.  So ... here it is!
       To read my interview of A Walker Scott, go here.
 You make no secret of your age or your gender, and the science fiction community of today is very inclusive, has many examples of well-respected female authors, and a lot of older authors. But most fans I have known became interested in this genre as a teenager. When you were a teen, science fiction was NOT a high-profile genre, it was almost exclusively a young male fan-base and almost all male authors. When and how did you become interested in science fiction? When did you decide to write in this genre?
       I always say that I got into science fiction through the backdoor of fantasy.  As a teenager, way back in the 1950s, I never read any SF.  I remember reading part of one book when I was 13, and I didn’t have a clue as to what was going on!  In my teens I didn’t even read fantasy; the era was pretty much pre-Tolkien.  I read lots of historical fiction – every Alexandre Dumas novel he ever wrote – Samuel Shellenbarger (The Prince of Foxes) – and I also read a lot of Shakespeare and loved most of the literature we read in school.  And I mustn’t leave out my very favorite, The Prisoner of Zenda.  It may be illustrative to point out that what fascinated me about that book was the fact it was laid in an imaginary country.  (And I refuse to engage in a semantic discussion of what the word “imaginary” means – you’ll know what I’m referring to, Walker!)  After that, I started making up my own imaginary countries and worlds, and dabbling a little in their languages.
Then I grew up and went to college and got serious.  I really believed that adults didn’t do things like that and this delusion persisted until I read Tolkien at the age of 29.  It was a revelation!  Here was this brilliant scholar who created his own worlds and languages not just as a child but for his entire life!  I immediately wanted to do that, too, so I started writing a version of high fantasy.  The setting was really another world or planet.  This milieu shared the characteristics of Earth, although it had no connection with our planet and was not particularly well defined.  This always bothered me – can I talk about oak or willow trees or the moon when this isn’t really our Earth?
I also started reading fantasy, and I read it for years.  At that time Ballantine Books had begun republishing a lot of classical fantasy authors, including Evangeline Walton.  Anybody who has read The Termite Queen will recognize the influence she had on me.  I also read writers like Patricia McKillip (The Riddle Master is my favorite thing), Miriam Zimmer Bradley, Terry Brooks, Fritz Leiber (LOVE Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser), Michael Moorcock, Ann McCaffery, Roger Zelazny, Katherine Kurtz, Andre Norton, Stephen R. Donaldson, and on and on.
But I also read Ursula K. LeGuin, C.S. Lewis, Ray Bradbury, Charles Williams, and other authors who bridge the gap between fantasy and science fiction, and who have a more literary style.  I have an academic background in literature, and I’m just beginning to understand what a large influence literary fiction has had on me.
This means that I’ve never read much of the stock SF writers of earlier times – people like Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.  Most of those earlier standard authors leave me cold – flat characters and too much emphasis on technology (although I recall liking Asimov’s Foundation Series). 
In later years I was influenced by a lot of TV science fiction:  Star Trek, particularly The Next Generation; Babylon 5; Farscape; StarGate: SG1; etc.  (I didn’t care much for Battlestar Galactica – too gloomy!  I like a good injection of humor in my scifi!
I wrote until 1983, making some unsuccessful attempts to publish.  Then family problems forced me to stop writing.  When I started again in the year 2000, things took a different turn.
I first met you sometime back, when you first joined the CONLANG-L mailing list and started posting about your alien languages which you use in your novels. I found your posts interesting enough that I decided to give your stories a try, even though I harbor some fairly strong prejudices against self-published work. Your stories are causing me to rethink some of my opinions, but what made you choose this route for your work?
       Yes, it’s not a good idea to condemn all self-published works just because a lot of them aren’t well done or are published prematurely.
When I started writing again in 2000, I had a lot of pent-up creativity and the stories just poured out without my making any attempt to publish anything.  Then I got bogged down in The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, until I realized that I was probably never going to able to finish it.  I also turned 70 and it hit me that if I didn’t want my books to die with me, I’d better get cracking.  So I whipped The Termite Queen into shape and started querying agents.  After a few months I realized I would definitely be dead before that search bore any fruit.  Self-publishing was just getting big and so I started looking into it.  I decided I had nothing to lose by going that route, since Amazon and other sites like Smashwords make it so easy.  It also helped that I was retired, had an income, and didn’t have to worry about making money from my writing.  By this point, I’m not at all sure I would want to tie myself to a bottom-line publisher who prevents you from doing what you want to do, doesn’t really do much promotion anyway, and hedges your royalties around with all kinds of rules.  It helps that I’m fully qualified to edit my own books, or anybody else’s for that matter.
You have mentioned that you are a retired librarian. How does you former career influence your writing?
       I think my academic background (a Master’s in English and some additional work toward a PhD) plus my second Masters in Library Science left me with some understanding of how to do research.  However, when I returned to writing in 2000, I discovered what a great research tool the internet is.  I have to confess that while I have the greatest respect for libraries and librarians, I never use libraries these days.  For one thing, I have a lot of arthritis and I no longer drive, so I have no transportation and I can’t lug books around the way I did most of my life.  I was a catalog librarian so I was responsible for subject-indexing the library’s holdings, but I have to say, one or two subject headings per book can’t hold a candle to a good search engine on the internet!  I’m a traitor, alas!

I know some people have seemingly been turned off by the idea that these stories are about giant bugs. Obviously the biology of termites does play a role in these stories. The fact that termites, like ants and bees, are social insects plays a part in how you can construct the cultures of the Shshi, and their biology determines some things they can or can't do. But you really do create individual characters, people who just happen to be termites. Why did you choose to use termites rather than some other social insect as the basis for your alien culture?

       Back in the 1970s, when I was reading all that SF/fantasy, I saw the documentary “Mysterious Castles of Clay,” about the castle-building, fungus-growing African termite.  I was blown away! And I thought what a great foundation these insects would make for creating a species of intelligent extraterrestrial lifeforms.  You could extrapolate from termite behavior to intelligent behavior and really come up with an interesting culture.  At that time I had the germ of the idea utilized in The Termite Queen – a off-world expedition brings back a specimen of giant termite and a female linguistic anthropologist thinks she can detect intelligence.  She proceeds to decode the creature’s language even though it is blind and deaf. 
I retained that idea over the years and when I started to write again, I decided it was time to put it into words.  I also wanted to write positively about giant insects – I was tired of seeing them portrayed as clichéd, evil, apocalyptic monsters.  I know some people will be turned off by the idea of anything insectile, but they shouldn’t be any more than they should be turned off by a slimy cephalopod like an Alelliawulian.  If we ever do make first contact, the ETs aren’t likely to be humanoids.
As for other social insects, of course it would be possible to do something based on them, but a lot of ant species are carnivorous and very warlike.  And while the lifestyle of bees may be even more complex than termites’, a quintessential attribute is their ability to fly, and really big insects would be too heavy to fly.  Termites are fungivores or eat cellulose, and they are basically peaceful, even though they have powerful soldiers who can fight in defense of the colony (against ants usually).  One last quality that appealed to me: termites are just about the only insect that is (usually) monogamous and where the Queen and King mate for life!

The idea of giant termites and retelling the Trojan War or the Twelve Labors of Hercules isn't the sort of thing just anyone thinks of. How did you come up with the idea of retelling Greek myths in a Shshi context?

       Blame it on Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys!  I purposely didn’t mention them with the other TV influences because I knew this question was coming!  Those series do exactly the same thing – take myths, twist them around, and adapt them to what is essentially a created world.  In Xena, Julius Caesar is contemporaneous with the Trojan War, for goodness sake! – and yet it’s quite easy to suspend disbelief.  When I was writing the end of The Termite Queen, it hit me that I had a ready-made, bona fide heroic Champion in Ki’shto’ba and I had a ready-made bard in Di’fa’kro’mi.  Why not send them out on a quest across the land – a wandering Champion-knight and its bard companion – and then let them have picaresque adventures along the way?  And the oversized Ki’shto’ba seemed perfect to be Hercules or a variant of him.  So I added a bit of dialogue to the end of TQ to set up that premise.
Have you published or written any works not set in the universe where your termites live?


       All my early high-fantasy material is laid other-where, and there are a couple of pieces that might be publishable, particularly one that forms a prequel to what I started out with.  Then I switched gears and wrote about a blue world with sorcerers and spirit beings as well as blue humans (this predated Avatar by a lot of years).  I did publish one little piece from this – “The Blessing of Krozem,” a novelette available only on Smashwords (it’s FREE!)  If I ever get a scanner, which may happen when I have to get a new computer, I’ll scan in some more of that early stuff and see if I can do anything with it.
I’ve written other books not laid on the termite planet.  The first thing I wrote in 2000 was the novella “Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder,” which I don’t believe you’ve read, Walker.  Kaitrin Oliva is a character in that one, about thirty years into the future.  After I invented her for “Monster,” I thought she was the perfect person for the linguistic anthropologist who deciphers the termite language.  
       Then I wrote the impossibly long story, The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, a biography of the starship Captain who makes the first contact with the Krisí’i’aidá (the Bird people).  It’s laid in the 28th century, over 200 years before the time of The Termite Queen.  And I have a number of other books in my head that I want to write.  A must-write is a 7th volume of The Labors of Ki’shto’ba Huge-Head (or rather a sequel to the series).  When you reach v.6, you’ll see why.
I know you said you were taking a brief break before releasing the next volume of the Ki'shto'ba series. When do you expect to release the final volume?
       I’m working on both final volumes and have pretty much completed everything for v.5 except formatting for publication.  I’m still editing v.6 and have done the front cover, but I still have to do maps and the back cover.  I really hope I’m able to get both published by the end of the year and then start writing the sequel.

You mentioned that you wanted to contact other conlangers because you had constructed languages for some of your extraterrestrials, but what made you want to invent languages for your aliens and how did you hit upon the idea since your conlanging predates your contact with the conlanging community?
       I’ve always been interested in language.  My mother was a Romance language major in college and she taught Spanish (and English – in small high schools, a foreign language teacher has to teach something else).  Before I even reached kindergarten age, I can remember being fascinated when my mother would spout in Italian the inscription over the Gate of Hell from Dante’s Inferno, as well as the “Prologue” to the Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  Later, when I got so deeply into Dumas, my mother taught me how to pronounce the French.  In college, I took three and a half years of French and two years of German, and I was able to pass my graduate language exams right off when I went to Cornell for my Master’s. 
       Now, to me it only makes sense that if you write about extraterrestrials, they aren’t going to speak English.  A first contact will require much more effort than to simply fall back on a Universal Translator gizmo.  The Termite Queen is based on the premise that somebody has to figure out how the termites speak, and so I wrote their language – what else could I do?  Of course, I had the example of Tolkien – I thought his constructed languages were wonderful – and then there was Klingon.  Those were the only precedents I had, though.  I did have a little contact with another author who writes conlangs, but that person was not at all encouraging, and so the contact fell through.  But learned from that person that the world was full of conlangers!  I never dreamed so many other people were fabricating languages, and pretty much just for the fun of it.
After I started self-publishing and joined Twitter, one of my early contacts was with Christophe Grandsire Koevets and I believe it was through him that I discovered the Language Creation Society.  I was trying to identify people who might be interested in what I wrote and other conlangers seemed like a good bet.
I have read several of your volumes now, (both volumes of The Termite Queen, and I'm working my way through six volumes of The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head) and so far I have come across bits of the Shshi language used by the Shum'za and the Da'no'no Shi and some few words of the Nasute languages—all from your termite peoples – and short bits of !Ka<tá – spoken by some of your bird peoples, and Glin Quornaz—the language of your lemur people. How many languages do you have, in at least sketch form? Do you have any that don't relate to this universe?
       Only two of those languages are quite fully developed – Shshi as spoken by the plains peoples and !Ka<tá (I needed more of that for The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars than I did for TQ).  I have material on Northern Nasute (as spoken by Sa’ti’a’i’a’s people), and then there are the Southern Nasute languages and the Y/G (Yo’sho’zei/Gwai’sho’zei) spoken by the Tramontanes – the peoples who live on the coast.  Ju’mu is a Tramontane, one of the Yo’sho’zei (Ancient Ones, equivalent to the Centaurs), and its language is considered the oldest form of Shshi.  I even have some comparative tables with roots.
I did a much more thorough job on !Ka<tá than on the Shshi languages because I thought it through better instead of simply improvising.  I’ve also done some work on the other two basic languages of Krisí’i’aid (the Bird planet) – Towewa (spoken by the Wéwana, the Stork people) and Gro’at (spoken by the Gro’á’ata, the Grouse people).  I also needed those languages for MWFB. 
       I attempted to model the lemuriform language, Glin Quornaz, on Latin to a degree, i.e., there are four declensions and five cases of nouns, three orders of infinitives, and no set word order.  I’ve never worked out all that in detail – I’ve only done what I would need to write a particular sentence.  As an example, Mae! zokam laziqua rival shima expresses good wishes, can be translated as “May fate sing sweet music to you,” and means literally “To you fate sing music sweet.”  Lazoim is “to sing”; lazoi is “I sing”; and laziqua is present subjunctive
I’ve done even less work on Poz-até, the language of the monotreme people (the Pozú).  I tried to give it more agglutinative characteristics, although it also has inflections.  For example, the blessing phrase Trant-intusórama means “Trant (the Great Goddess) love you.”  Intu is the infinitive for to love, sora is added to make the 3rd person present subjunctive and ma is objective singular of the second person pronoun.  I also utilized elisions, e.g., yi-inta (I love) becomes yinta.
In my early writing days, I did a little work on a language called Demran for my first world, and then for my blue world (in “The Blessing of Krozem” and related stories), I got into the language of the Kairam, but it was more a naming language.  I never constructed any grammar beyond a couple of verb tenses, but I did fill up a file box with vocabulary cards.
Your languages exhibit some really interesting, very non-English, features. Where do you get your inspiration for your languages?
       You really think the features are non-English?  One person in the Yahoo Conculture group told me my languages were based too much on English!  Since my non-English language knowledge consists mostly of the Romance languages with a shorter foray into Germanic and some familiarity with Slavic when I was cataloging books, I tend to use elements from what I know of those languages.  But I also try with each language to introduce non-English (or non-standard) elements.  For example, in Shshi I worked out a peculiar word order and a system of linkages (the infamous WingDings), which I’ve always been doubtful about.  Would a people as intellectually unsophisticated as the illiterate Shshi really have an instinctive grammatical sense powerful enough that they would distinguish predicate adjectives from the objects of verbs?  I don’t think I really thought it through sufficiently, but only you linguistic experts would pay close enough attention to quibble.
With the Birds’ more advanced culture, I figured I could do pretty much what I wanted grammatically.  The interest here is in the musical and tonal elements that fit very well with avian vocal apparatus.  I made it an inflectional language, SVO, adjective following the noun, three types of articles – and everything has number, including the articles (all plurals are formed by prefixing a warble [♫] and possessives and adjectives are made using a trill [♪] so you get all these fun musical notes scattered through!)  The language can’t really be articulated with the human throat.
I do have a blog that deals only with my languages.  I haven’t added anything to it for maybe a year and a half and some of the posts are not finished, but still there is a lot of information in there.  http://remembrancer.conlang.org
       Thank you much, Walker, for wanting to interview me!  I've managed to say more about myself than in any other interview I've bee privileged to give!  I hope this post draws some comments, particularly on my languages!  And don't forget to visit my interview of A Walker Scott. http://termitewriter.blogspot.com/2014/07/an-interview-with-walker-scott-fellow_7.html