Archive | October, 2013

The language of magic, part 6 of lots

29 Oct

Inamali is the language of magic – the language of the Inamali people and their writings, including their spell books. It is the language Karia must master if she is to understand how to destroy magic.

And I thought you may enjoy the books a lot more if you understand a few things about the Inamali language.

Spoiler alert: If you have not read The House in the Old Wood, you will not want to read the rest of this post.

Quick, how many tenses does English have?

A lot of people would reply, “Three.” Past, present and future, right? That’s all most of normally think of, and that seems to cover it all.

Now, grammatically speaking, English has twelve tenses, from past all the way through future perfect progressive, but we don’t need to go there in order to discuss tenses in Inamali.

Karia thinks of Teneka as having three tenses, and at one point feels she has identified seven tenses in Inamali. Seven tenses? How’s that work?


Some languages – and Inamali is among them – have multiple past and future tenses, depending on how far in the past or future an event is. In Inamali, it breaks down like this:

  • Legendary past – for something that is said to have taken place in the distant past.
  • Past – a general past tense.
  • Recent past – for something that took place recently.
  • Present – as in English.
  • Near future – for something that is imminent.
  • Future – a general future tense.
  • Prophetic future – for something that is said to be taking place in the distant future.

You might at first think this would be confusing. But think about this. If I say, “I will be going to the store,” you don’t know if I mean I’m leaving in five minutes, or if I mean that eventually, someday, I will be going to the store. Or maybe it’s prophetic – I’m prophesying that I will be going to the store. You can’t tell.

There is no such confusion in Inamali; from the tense itself, you can tell which is which.

This is why, when I was talking in our last installment about the verb infixes lina and lita, I wrote that they are sort of past and future.

Actually, those are general past and general future, and can be used in Inamali as you would use them in English. And that’s another important key distinction of Inamali. Where there is an uncertaintly about whether an event is near future, future or prophetic future, or where an event spans one or more of those, the general future is acceptable.

So in Tsilinakaya, the hope that is being referred to is near future, future and prophetic future.

But in Talitakaya, the event that is being remembered is simply past – it certainly was not recent, but neither was it in the legendary past.

One other thing to understand is that “recent past” and “near future” have more to do with the concepts than with calendars.

What I mean is, if Karia were to declare in Inamali, “I will end Magic,” she would use near future tense. In her mind, this is imminent, whether it actually takes days or years.

Or consider sleeping and eating. She normally sleeps once a day and eats three times a day. So she would likely use recent past tense for sleeping for six or eight hours. But she would be unlikely to use recent past for eating for more than three hours or so.

These tenses are another way Inamali constructs verbs – puts meaning into the actual words – instead of adding words as English does. “I just ate” – three words in English – becomes one word in Inamali, as does, “He will be eating soon.”

So this precision in tenses is another way Inamali eliminates words and loads more meaning into verbs.

Want to see how much Inamali you can pick up? Get your copy of The House in the Old Wood and Karia’s Path.

Please help spread the word

24 Oct

Most of the folks who have bought my books so far, bought them because they know me. Thanks!

If you enjoy the books – and a number of you have said you do (again, thanks!) – would you help me get them in front of more readers?

You’re a much more effective voice than I am. Of course I want people to buy the books. But you wouldn’t be telling people about the books unless you really liked them. Or you owed me money. Which almost no one does. Unless you’re feeling guilty and think you might owe me money. In that case, feel free to ease your guilt by telling people about the books.

Here are some more specific ideas …

Put it out: If you have a print version of one or more of my books, put it on your desk at work or on your coffee table. Or drive through a bad part of town with the passenger window down and the book on the passenger seat. Wait, on second thought, don’t do that last one.

Loan the book: Let someone else read your print copy of the first book. That’s one of the best ways to get people to read it. And then they’ll be hooked and have to read the next book. But don’t let them borrow your copy of the other books. Send them to Amazon for Karia’s Path instead. Bwahahahahaha!

Give a book (or two or three or more) as a gift: Discounted to less than $10 each on Amazon for paperbacks and as little as $4.99 for the Kindle edition, they’re great gifts for friends who have birthdays coming up. And don’t forget, Christmas is just around the corner. (Hint hint hint) Oh, and if you don’t want to really irritate them, best start with The House in the Old Wood.

Post a review: Tell others what you think of the books on or at — or on your blog or Facebook or anywhere else you think folks will see it. Pick out something you liked about the book. A reason you enjoyed the book. A book you would compare it to. Be honest. You won’t hurt my feelings. Well, maybe you will, but I’ll get even. I mean, I’ll get over it. Yeah, that’s what I meant. See what others have written about The House in the Old Wood and Karia’s Path.

Tell your friends: Like a review, pick out something you liked about the book. A reason you enjoyed the book, or a book you would compare it to. One great way to do this is with a bookmark. I have plenty still, and I’d be glad to send some your way so you can spread the word. Message me on Facebook, or use the Contact form on my blog.

Here are some of ways other people have helped spread the word:

  • One person bought a copy to donate to a rummage sale
  • I donated copies to a charity that provides gifts for parents to give to teens at Christmas
  • A teacher put it in a classroom lending library (she says students are loving it)
  • My son-in-law set it out on a coffee table (and now his co-workers have bought Karia’s Path)
  • My wife and I put a couple in a gift exchange – you know, one of those where people trade for gifts they want? And several wanted them.
  • A friend suggested the book to a book club.

How have you spread the word? Have you used any of these? Or something else? How did it go?

The language of magic, part 5 of lots

22 Oct

Inamali is the language of magic – the language of the Inamali people and their writings, including their spell books. It is the language Karia must master if she is to understand how to destroy magic.

And I thought you may enjoy the books a lot more if you understand a few things about the Inamali language.

Spoiler alert: If you have not read The House in the Old Wood, you will not want to read the rest of this post.

One key facet of the Inamali language is its use of what we call “constructed verbs.”

In English, we modify verbs based on the subject:

I walk, she walks, etc.

We also modify verbs based on the tense:

I walked, she walks, etc.

Sometimes we’ll add words for those reasons, as in, “I will walk” or “she will be walking.”

But aside from a few irregular verbs, some of which we do next to nothing to (such as bid), that’s about all we do with verbs, and we call that conjugation.

Some languages, such as Inamali, go much further with their verbs. Concepts that we would use separate words for get combined into the verb in constructed verbs. Pronouns, for instance. In English, we would say, “He hit me.” But in Inamali, it would be something like “Hehitme.”

Let’s back up and take this more slowly.

Inamali verbs have a basic form. Tsika, for example, means to hope. Taka means to remember. I’ve previously mentioned that tsiva means to fish.

To those we can add prefixes. You’ve heard of those – they’re something that’s added to the front of a word to change its meaning. We can also add suffixes – those go at the end of the word. What we don’t do in English is add infixes – stuff that drops into the middle of the word to change the meaning. (OK, we do in slang and some technical terms, but really, no, we don’t.)

Inamali uses all of those, but most especially, for the construction of verbs, infixes.

Lina is future tense, and lita is past tense (well, not precisely, but we’ll deal with that later), and those are infixes, so tsilinaka (tsika split by lina) means something like “will hope” and talitaka (taka split by lita) carries a meaning similar to “remembered.”

Pronouns are also built into the verbs in Inamali, rather than being separate words as they are in English. In ancient Inamali these are present in every verb. In the Inamali of Karia’s day, they appear irregularly. They are in the process of disappearing in cases where they are not needed – for instance, in sentences with a subject and an object. Let me give you an example:

Tlisilitar’ulukali Karia Failean.

This literally translates as, “Karia she has walked slowly toward her (formal) Failean.” The verb alone translates as “She has walked slowly toward her (formal),” because we’re talking about Karia and her mom. Here’s how it breaks down:

Tli is a prefix indicating that the subject is singular and feminine.

Sili is the root verb, to walk slowly.

Lita is an infix – falling between si and li – that shows past tense (sort of). But here it’s pronounced litar because of the glottal stop (‘) following.

ulu is an infix – after the tense, before the last part of the verb – that indicates that the object is feminine, singular and respected.

Ka is an infix indicating direction, in this case, toward.

This gives you an idea of the order of infixes, too, which is important: Tense, object marker, then direction. You could also have infixes here for intent (such as evil, or friendly), pace (which is unnecessary in this case since sili means to walk slowly), whether they are causative – and more.

For the sake of all our sanity, please don’t ask me to explain “causative.” And the “more”? Let’s let that one lie, too, OK?

So it’s possible, in modern Inamali, that the sentence we had above could also be written:

Silitakali Karia Failean.

This verb translates simply as “walked slowly toward.” But in this case, it is unlikely the markers for the subject (the prefix tli) and object (the infix ‘ulu) would be dropped because the object is formal.

Next time: Am I making you tense?

Have you read the second part of Karia’s tale, Karia’s Path? Get it on Amazon.

What’s Book 3 about?

20 Oct

The Hall of the ProphetessThis evening I finished my final read-through of Book 3, The Hall of the Prophetess.

What’s this mean? Well, only a few steps remain to publish the book, so everything is on track for the book to be released Nov. 18. But what’s the book about? Well, here’s what the book’s back cover says:

By now, Karia should be used to finding out that everything she thought she knew was wrong.

Girls can’t do magic? Wrong. Faeries aren’t real? Wrong. No such thing as redbears? Wrong again.

So it shouldn’t surprise her – but it does – when her enemies treat her as if she is an honored guest. And she ought to have realized her quest to destroy magic would be nowhere near as straightforward as she thought.

Maybe she should even have expected a bloody confrontation, and new friends who are willing to die for her because of her forgiving, gentle spirit.

But nothing could have prepared her for what is being withheld from her.

Of course, before you get The Hall of the Prophetess, you’ll need to buy and read If you haven’t yet) The House in the Old Wood (Book 1) and Karia’s Path (Book 2)

Preview of Book 3

18 Oct

Karia’s Path includes the first chapter of The Hall of the Prophetess, so people can get a feel for what comes next. And so here it is, so you can get a feel for it too:


The high-strung mare whinnied and pranced, her hooves clattering, as she slipped on the snow-covered ice of the frozen river. She tugged on the line Karia was using to lead her. Karia’s hands were so numb she almost lost her grip on it.

“Shh, Tsilinki,” she said. “Easy girl.” Her heart raced. She slipped a bit too as she stepped back to put a hand on the horse’s shoulder to calm her.

She heard a sharp crack behind them and looked nervously down the line from Tsilinki to Nebok. The big draft horse was usually rock-solid and calm, but even he looked skittish now. Or maybe he just looks that way to me because I’m shaking.

Karia took a deep breath. “Steady, Nebok. Almost there, big boy,” she called to him. Oh, great, I’m squeaking. That’s not going to help calm him.

She turned back and stepped forward, placing her feet carefully to keep from slipping. She was just beyond the center of the river, with perhaps forty feet to go to the safety of the shore. She felt the line to Tsilinki tighten and then go slack again as the horse began walking with her.

She thought, Nebok should be stepping forward now. That’s when she heard another sharp crack, then a crash and deep snort from behind her. She spun in time to see Nebok falling through the ice. Spinning threw her off balance, but she had almost caught herself as she saw Nebok trying to leap back up onto the ice; it just broke in front of him.

But Nebok’s leap tugged on the line from him to Tsilinki, pulling the mare from behind. And Karia, trying to steady herself, tugged on the line she was using to lead the mare from the front. Pulled from both sides, Tsilinki whinnied and reared, pulling the line away from Karia, but not before disrupting her precarious balance.

Karia’s feet and hands flew toward Tsilinki, and her behind landed hard on the ice, knocking the wind out of her. She gasped as she tried to take a breath in that tiny pause between when she hit the ice and the time it cracked, then shattered, and she smashed through. The current under the ice went up her cloak and it billowed into the icy water like a sail.

She grabbed in vain at the edge of the ice, but could not even slow herself as she was sucked through the hole into the frigid river below. She gasped for breath again, but got only water as the current swept her under the snow-covered icy surface of the river.

Want to read more? Soon. In the meantime, make sure you have The House in the Old Wood and Karia’s Path

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