All posts by Phil W

Words Frame The World

I remember a college guy telling me that grammar and language structure didn’t matter anymore because images ruled the way we think. I suppose I could have argued with him by saying, “I love that flavor too. Hey, when sue melon get fetchit?” But that would require on-the-spot thinking or even living in my element at the split moment he spoke. I’m rarely in my element, and he was a college guy, which means he was susceptible to bad, even stupid, ideas, some of which he wrote with his own mental words.

Does anyone doubt that we live by words? That’s because words are the stuff of ideas. The image of a bombed out building tells us little about reality if we have not words to put to it. Was it empty and dilapidated, more harmful to the city than helpful? Was a target in a war? If so, was it a fair target? Do we know anything about the building, the explosion, or the context of both that words have not given us?

In the same vein, what makes us human? What words describe the meaning of person hood, not being an animal or a cell block? That’s a cultural argument we have had for years now, leading to crimes like this one in Hialeah, Florida. The Deputy Police Chief says, “They can slaughter anyone they want according to the statutes before birth, but not after.” They can slaughter anyone . . . only because many people want to believe that babies are not people until they are declared to be so. Every child is to be a wanted child, so if the child is not wanted, then he is not a child.

He’s an image. A nothing. If we don’t name him, he won’t exist.

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Book Giveaway: Open Drawing for Fantasy Novels

Congratulations! This is your opportunity to win a copy of one of Lars Walker’s three published novels, signed, sealed, and delivered by one of the many Norse gods hard-up for work in modern America. If we can’t contract a god to deliver in your area, we will use the good old-fashioned postal service. Of course, if parcel post was good enough for Leifr Eiricsson when we was on the continent, it’s good enough for us too.

Here are the simple rules to win one of three signed copies of one of Lars’ books. Leave a comment in this thread with your name and email before Saturday, August 26, 11:00 a.m. One comment per participant, please. After the deadline, I’ll number the comments, spin the roulette wheel, and the contact three winners. When I send you an email, I’ll ask for your mailing address.

Tell your friends and send them this way for the chance to win a great fantasy/sci-fi read. If you are new to Brandywine Books, note the links to Lars’ books at the top of our bloogroll on the right.

This is the first of at least two contests at Brandywine Books, and this is the easiest of them. The next contest will require some writing. For now, just comment with your name and email. Thank you for participating, and keep telling your friends about Brandywine Books.

The Will to Power

Here’s another sentence from a published book: “By sheer force of will, she typed in the access code and held her breath.”

I think understand this emotion, but is this a good way to describe it? I remember in other stories that characters willed themselves to continue. They . . . had . . to hang . . . on . . . (gasp)! How do you think pushing against emotions should be described?

You Know You Are Not Reformed If . . .

  • you think the Apostles Creed is the guy who fought Rocky in Rocky I.
  • you think the Canons of Dort are like the Guns of Navarrone.
  • you think the psalter goes with the pepper shaker.
  • you think unconditional election is a practice of communist dictatorships.

And so on. Riddleblog has “You Know You Are Not Reformed If . . .

Yeah, I didn’t think it was that funny either, but I hope someone gets a laugh out of it. (by way of the Jollyblogger)

Greg Iles Complains about Writing Too Fast

Here’s an old post from Sarah Weinman about statements by Thriller Author Greg Iles on writing a book in a year’s time. He said, “So many thrillers today are formulaic and one-dimensional. I feel like there used to be a higher standard. . . . if I’m completely honest, three of my first four books are the best I ever wrote because I spent two years apiece on them.”

As a bit of balance, here’s a writing technique article by Sci-fi Author William Dietz, called “How To Write A Book A Year While Holding Down A Full-time Job, Maintaining Key Relationships, Staying In Shape, And Maintaining Your Sanity.

ADHD Wins Agains, Family Goats Rejoice

At first, the Cincinnati-area family said the goat in the yard of their suburban home was for a 4-H project and would be sent away after the county fair. Now the Valentines have two goats, and they won a lawsuit, filed by community trustees, to keep the animals because they help their 13-year-old son cope with his ADHD. According the family, their dogs, rabbits, cat, and guinea pig do not help their son handle himself, but the goats do. The family is in the clear as long as they deliver a doctor’s testimony to the town every year to validate their claim.

In case you wonder, let me say that I do not believe that ADD and ADHD are medical fantasies, and some children are properly diagnosed with it and I hope properly treated. Thank you for your attention.

In Fact, My Son Is Named Satan

“Satan in the New Testament should be regarded as holding the equivalent of such positions as Prime Minister, or Attorney-General, or Head of MI5, or Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and as no more evil than many zealous holders of these positions here on Earth,” says a Californian who wants to rehabilitate the devil’s public face. He’s written a book about that star who fell from heaven. The Times of London headline for the story: “Forget Judas, let’s have sympathy for the Devil.

I should ignore this kind of foolishness, but it’s just so . . . foolish.

The Typographical Error

I’ve been researching the history of my organization, CBMC (I’m a designer at the national service center). We put out a magazine for decades called CBMC Contact, and I found this poem on the back cover of a 1952 issue. It’s cute, and cute things should be blogged (within certain strict guidelines).

The Typographical Error

The typographical error is a slippery thing and sly;

You can hunt til you are dizzy, but it somehow will get by.

Til the forms are off the presses, it is strange how still it keeps;

It shrinks down in a corner and it never stirs or peeps.

That typographical error, too small for human eyes,

Til the ink is on the paper, when it grows to mountain size.

The boss, he stares with horror, then he grabs his hair and groans;

The copyreader drop his head upon his hands and moans–

The remainder of the issue may be clean as clean can be,

But the typographical error is the only thing you see.

W.C. Winslow

Collected Comments

Orange Jack on Don Quixote: “The ironic thing to me is that this book is about 1000 pages, and on the first page the author tells me the main character goes mad because he read too much!”

Laura Demanski on a book she’s read several times: “A friend recently told me that he’s reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time, and I realized that this is a condition I aspire to. In other words, I wanted for a second to claw his eyes out, but the second passed and I masked my jealous rage nicely, I thought. It used to be every Christmastime that I read P&P. Now my readings are further spaced out, every three or four years instead of every single one as I try (without hope) to regain a state of innocence vis-à-vis this particular book.”

Kevin Holtsberry quotes Athol Dickson on writing too fast: “I recently got into hot water with some writer friends by crying out for a slower, more thoughtful pace. Although I hate it when people are unhappy with me, I’m not backing down. Many popular Christian authors are in the habit of putting out three, four or even five or more novels every year. Such haste strikes me as a risky proposition.” I remember Mr. Dickson saying the same thing in his Novel Journey interview.

Chesterton’s blog

Well, blimey, Bert! Look what I’ve copped. The blog of the American Chesterton Society (ACS). They have a rare, autographed book of Chesterton poems for sale with a charity angle on it, and they point to a review of an interesting book I hadn’t seen before, The Flying Inn. The reviewer writes that the book “was condemned to many years of neglect, presumably because of what was then seen as the quaintness and irrelevance of its subject matter — an Islamic attack on and infiltration of England.” The ACS says, “This is a hilarious satirical romp in which Chesterton inveighs against the forces of dreary and oppressive modernity, in the form of Prohibition, vegetarianism, theosophy, and other movements.”