January 22nd, 2018

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Using Constructed Languages in Literature

This article talks about how to use conlangs without getting in the way of a story.  This is fine for one cluster of stories that contain conlangs: the ones that use them as local color.  There, you want a small amount, much as you would if you used dabs of French or Russian or whatever in a story aimed at an English-speaking audience.  So the article makes a decent amount of sense, for as far as it goes.

However, there's another cluster of stories that use conlangs: linguistic speculative fiction.  These stories are ABOUT the conlang.  There are lots of variations, but in all of them, your audience is there to watch you trot that thing around the stage and make it do tricks.  If they can't see enough of it, they will be annoyed.  The audience for these stories is smaller but extremely passionate.  These are people who buttonhole linguists and ask about OVS languages.  You're not going to throw them unless you botch the mechanics of linguistic construction and/or basic storytelling skills.  A closely related subcluster is stories that are primarily about something else, but require a lot of conlang support, such as one about alien genders with unique pronouns or one about time travel with unique tenses.  Effectively, these require guidelines more akin to the linguistic speculative fiction set than the local color set.

What this really means: before you start writing a story with a conlang in it, decide which of those types you want to write.  The guidelines for doing it well are almost entirely opposite.  Walk in the middle of the road, get squished like grape.
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Monday Update 1-22-18

These are some posts from the later part of last week in case you missed them:
Poem: "Creating a Community Around Food"
How to Be More Creative
Poem: "About Gaining Power"
Review: Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Truffle
Puppy Play Park
Review: Trader Joe's Lacey's Cookies
Poem: "Unicorns Are Yellow"
Poem: "No Yesterdays on the Road"
Poem: "The Purest Love"
Poem: "Where We Can Go As We Are"
Poem: "A Lot More Respect for a Bird"
The Importance of Replication
Kazakh Writing
Read “We Will Not Be Charmed Into Compliance”
Moment of Silence: John Young
Poem: "The Determination of Tulips"
Musicals in Fanfic and Canon
Cuddle Party (255 comments)


The half-price sale in Feathered Nests has sold out. \o/ Visit the sale page for links to all the newly posted poems.

The [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam ran this weekend. See what I wrote. I actually got a new series about the yellow unicorns, but I have no idea what to title it. Thoughts?


The Rose & Bay Awards celebrate excellence in cyberfunded creativity. Nominations are now open in the categories of:

Art (3 nominations)
Fiction (3 nominations)
Poetry (3 nominations)
Webcomic (3 nominations)
Other Project (3 nominations)
Patron (3 nominations)

You can help by nominating your favorite crowdfunded works and supporters from 2017.


Poetry in Microfunding:
"Strength and Power" belongs to Acrostic Magery.  Rowan and Hulda form a folk band.


The weather has been warmer here, and it has rained several times.  Very little snow is left in sheltered pockets.  Seen at the birdfeeders this week: a large flock of sparrows, a large flock of mourning doves, at least three pairs of cardinals, several dark-eyed juncoes, and a starling.
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Review: Guittard Soleil d'Automne Dark Milk Chocolate

Guittard Soleil d'Automne Milk Chocolate is a real favorite. The origin is West Africa and Indian Ocean, the varietals Criollo and Forastero.

This bar is listed at 45% cacao, rich and complex, but pleasantly sweet without any bitter notes. Milk chocolate must contain at least 10% cacao, and often it's around 20-25%. Dark milk chocolate or sweet dark chocolate is sweet and intense, ranging between 38% and 42%. Dark chocolate is legally anything over 15% in America, but Europe requires at least 35% and it typically runs 50-60%, prone to bitter or sour notes. So we may reasonably consider Soleil d'Automne to be a clinical-grade milk chocolate, because it is both high in cacao and sweet without bitterness.

The label also cites notes of caramel apple and crème fraîche. I think I catch more of the caramel than the apple, but it is very creamy. If you like a milk chocolate that is sophisticated in its own right without a lot of other stuff added to it, this is an excellent choice. It's a good choice for connoisseurs, or people consuming chocolate for medicinal purposes who dislike the bitter notes of dark chocolate.  My partner Doug and I split this for dessert a couple of nights, and would happily eat it again.

I have consumed the last of it (and licked the foil) and am now a little sad, despite having a box still mostly full of chocolate bars and another 45% one on my desk.