A Linguistic Conundrum for the Season

If you celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional roast turkey, do you serve it with dressing, or with stuffing?

Butterball (the turkey people, the same ones who run the feast-saving turkey hotline every year) have a page devoted to that very question.  Turns out, as I suspected, that dressing is mostly Southern, and mostly cooked outside the turkey rather than in, while stuffing is more Northeastern, and is usually cooked (unsurprisingly) inside the bird.   My Southern roots show up in this:  In my native dialect, it’s dressing, and gets cooked in a separate dish, the better to have enough of it left over for breakfast the next morning.

(What?  You’ve never had leftover dressing for a post-Thanksgiving breakfast?  You’re missing something good.)

Now that we’ve settled that question, we can move on to which method of preparing green beans is the proper and canonical one:  Are they slow-cooked with bacon and a generous amount of salt, or are they cooked quickly and left unsalted so as to retain their crunch?

A Trio of Links

The Folger Library is sending Shakespeare’s First Folio on tour.  It’ll be making one stop in each of the fifty states, including Hawaii and Alaska; you can find your state’s Shakespeare stop here.

Also, a reminder for writers who might want to transform lived experience or known history into fiction:  Fiction has to be believable, while reality is under no such constraint.

And finally, an interview with one of the many authors over the decades who have been Carolyn Keene, about writing Nancy Drew novels.  Full disclosure:  I’ve never been Carolyn Keene, but I have been one-half of Victor Appleton.  Twice.  And I can vouch for the truth of this article.

My only beef is with the interviewer and/or the editor on the Slate end of things, who persist in referring to the author as a “ghostwriter.”  She was not – and doesn’t call herself one.  A ghostwriter is writing under the name of, and in the persona of, an actual person who is the purported author of the book.  Sometimes this is a flagrant pretense, but sometimes it’s for a good reason – if, for example, the “author” has an important or interesting story to tell, but absolutely no writing chops whatsoever.

At any rate, a writer for the Nancy Drew books, or the Tom Swift books, or any of a number of syndicated properties, is not a ghost writer.  The proper term for what they’re doing is writing under a house name – so-called because the name “Carolyn Keene” or “Victor Appleton” or whatever is owned by the publishing house, not by the writer of a particular book.  Which is how I can have in my personal library a Tom Swift hardcover from the mid-1920’s that used to belong to my father, and a couple of Tom Swift paperbacks from the early 1990’s that were co-authored by me and Jim Macdonald.

And “Victor Appleton” wrote them all.

A Trio of Assorted Links

A guide to semicolon usage, with illustrations.  Some people find semicolons intimidating; this is the post for them.  Other people love semicolons not necessarily wisely, but too well; I’m not sure if there is any help for us.

An article on Slate, ranting about the overuse of unnecessary synonyms for “said.”  I’ll be over here on the sidelines, waving my pompoms in enthusiastic agreement.  Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, “said” is all you need, assuming you need a dialogue attribution tag at all.

And Great Britain’s Arts and Humanities Research Council has released a digitized collection of Jane Austen’s manuscripts, including drafts and juvenilia.  I love living in the internet age, I really do . . . time was, to see something like this, you’d have had to make a trip (in the case of Jane Austen’s MSS, a number of different trips) to visit the material in person.

What This Election Year Needs is a Good Anthology

Altered-States-promo-art-640_thumb.jpgAnd hoo-boy, have we got one for you: Altered States of the Union, edited by Glenn Hauman for Crazy 8 Press.  (Full disclosure: Jim Macdonald and I have a story in it.)

Altered States is a collection of original alternate-history stories in which the states of the USA are  . . . not as we know them.  It’s being crowdfunded through Indiegogo, and you can reach its web page here.

Rewards being offered for supporters range from a copy of the e-book version of the anthology (at the $5 level, or $3 for the first 20 early-bird pledges) to tuckerization* in one of the stories (at the $200 level; six chances are being offered.)  The official publication date is scheduled for the Shore Leave science fiction convention being held July 15-17, 2016, in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

So here’s your chance to be a patron of the arts and enable the publication of some good new stories.  (Lorenzo di Medici would totally have kicked in a florin or two.  You know he would have.)

*For those unfamiliar with the lingo of the sf tribe, “tuckerization” is the naming of a character in a story after a friend or fellow-fan.  The name derives from the early science fiction writer Wilson Tucker, who made a practice of giving his minor characters names in this fashion.  These days, opportunities to be tuckerized are often offered by writers for fundraising or charitable purposes.

One of the Good Things About Teaching

— and about editing, for that matter is the the opportunity to point with pride at a student’s (or client’s) success.

On this occasion, I can bask in the reflected glow from Viable Paradise alumna Fran Wilde’s winning of the Andre Norton Award for YA science fiction at the Nebula Awards just past for her novel Updraft, which also won the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Compton Crook Award for best first novel.

And as if that weren’t enough illumination, there’s a further glow coming by way of Debra Jess, another VP alumna and a Dr. Doyle’s Editorial client, for her novel Bloodsurfer, which is a finalist in two categories (best first novel and best paranormal) of the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America Booksellers’ Best Award. The winners will be announced at this summer’s RWA convention.

Needless to say, I’m tickled pink for them both.

Not Your Usual Job Opportunity

Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln, New Hampshire, is looking for a new Wolfman for the 2016 summer season.

Clark’s Trading Post is one of the first dedicated “roadside attractions” in New England, having originally been established in 1928 as “Ed Clark’s Eskimo Sled Dog Ranch.”  Tourists could view the sled dog teams and purchase souvenirs and maple candy.  In 1931, the first of the trained bears was added to the show, which differed from most trained-bear acts of the time because it used what would now be referred to as “positive reinforcement,” which Ed Clark adapted from the methods he used to train his dog teams.

(As it turned out, the bears really liked ice cream, and it remains their reward to this day – or at least that was what they were still using the last time I saw the show.)

Playing Catch-Up

It’s been a long winter.

Also an unseasonably warm one, which is never good for the local economy up here in the wilds of northern New Hampshire.  And I’ve been mostly quiet, for which I apologize – I took a wrong step at the bottom of an unfamiliar flight of stairs in the dark, and ended up straining a muscle in my back.  The alternative would have been slamming my head up against the corner of the table next to the stairs, so I can’t really regret the spine-wrenching contortions I put myself through on the way down, even if they did give me over a month’s worth of sore muscles.  In any case, there’s something about not being able to sleep comfortably for several weeks that turns one’s get-up-and-go into more of a lurch-to-one’s-feet-and-shamble.  The whole thing put me at least a month behind on everything, and I’m still digging my way out from under the resulting backlog.

A couple of things that happened while I was in Shamble Mode:

Our story “One Night in Bavaria” came out in the Tom Easton and Judith Dial anthology Conspiracy! , from NESFA Press.

The Viable Paradise Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop opened up for applications.  This year’s workshop will be held at the Island Inn on Martha’s Vineyard, from  Sunday, October 16th, through Friday, October 21st, 2016.

A thing that will be happening next month:

The contributors to Conspiracy! (some of them, anyway – time and distance happen to us all) will be doing a signing at Toadstool Books in Peterborough, New Hampshire on the 23rd of April.  Watch this space for the exact time.

Finally, a trio of links for your amusement:

An article on American Sign Language and its relation to French Sign Language, and the Philadelphia ASL accent.

An article on the New York Public Library’s Erotica collection.

And finally, a link to the University of Arkansas’s* new on-line archive of its Ozark Folk Song Collection. The UofA was my undergraduate alma mater, and I was fortunate enough to take a folklore class with Mary Celestia Parler, the scholar primarily responsible for collecting the music in the archive, near the end of her teaching career there.  Having this major resource made available on-line to the public is a wonderful thing – go Razorbacks!

*Yes, that is how you form the possessive.  The state legislature officially said so.

For Your Amusement and Edification

A handful of links – some older, some brand-new – from around the web:

Slate has put up an interactive, annotated on-line version of Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”, for those of you who might want to read it.  (My own attitude toward “Bartleby” is colored by the fact that I once had to teach it in a freshman English lit class, and the typical response to that story from the inevitable classroom wit is exactly what you think it would be.)

A cabinetmaker and scholar of historical furniture reports on a letter to the future found sealed away inside an 18th-century inlaid cabinet by the journeyman cabinetmaker who built the piece.

While I was trawling for other reasons through the  archives of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, I found this post wherein all the Nebula-winning novels from 1965 through 2004 are summarized in haiku.

And, finally, there’s Jim Macdonald having fun again over at his blog.

 

The Internet is Full of Nifty Stuff

On the days when it starts to feel like the internet is nothing but insult and outrage from wall to wall and floor to ceiling, it helps to go look at some of the other things.

For example:  here’s an informative post from Tumblr, giving workshop instructions on how, exactly to gird your loins (if you’re wearing long skirts, or a robe of some sort.)  Note that the process not only gets the material out of the way, but also provides certain crucial areas with extra padding.

This isn’t the same thing, by the way, as simply kilting up one’s skirt, which is a simpler process, involving tucking the extra fabric into one’s belt to shorten the garment.

And here’s a report on the recent RWA (Romance Writers of America) convention, including some very cogent remarks on the need for representation in romance.  Short version:  Romance is the genre of happy endings, and readers who aren’t cisgendered currently-able-bodied straight white women need books that say they’re just as entitled to happy endings as anybody else.

Finally, a couple of links that are pure catnip for a word nut like me: a compendium of the blogger’s own favorite posts from three years of All Things Linguistic, and a page from which you can buy a copy of Balþos Gadedeis Aþalhaidais in Sildaleikalanda – which is to say, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, newly translated into Gothic by the scholar David Alexander Carlton.

As Katta (the Cat) says to Aþalhaids (Alice), “Weis sijum her woda in allamma” – “We’re all mad here.”