Pronunciation Guide

Thursday, August 14, 2014

“W” is for words


They have such power, don’t they? I mean, I’m a writer. I’m counting on my words having an impact on people. I write, hoping that what I have to say will make a difference to someone somewhere someday.

The power of life and death is in the tongue.

Anyone who has been wounded by words will know this to be true.
As will anyone who has been saved by them.

My friend sent me a quote the other day: “Broken children grow into broken adults. To create a more peaceful future for our planet, we need to create a more peaceful present for our children. Our world needs more heart-whole adults, not more refugees from childhood.”

Most people are not whole. Most of us are refugees from childhood, whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we want to be or not.

Hurt people hurt people. And one of the primary ways is with words.

I believe everyone has a deep cry in their hearts: “Do you delight in me? Am I enough? Do I have what it takes?” Most often, our parents answer those questions.

Ari’s mother is verbally and emotionally abusive toward her and has been as long as Ari remember. Her words cut through Ari’s heart and become the condemning voice inside her head. For Rab, it is not so much the vicious words that pierce her heart – it is the unspoken ones, the silence, the accusations of betrayal. Their mother doesn’t know how to love either of them; she attacks Ari and neglects Rab. Both girls grow up searing with pain, open wounds festering inside.

Jehur strives to please his father, to hear those words of affirmation, validation: “Yes, you have what it takes! You are enough!” They don’t come. Silence weighs heavily. His failure to become what he believes his father views as a man haunts him. Public humiliation and being revealed as not good enough don’t help. He is one of my older characters (at least of the humans), but he is broken, parts of him still stuck at seven years old and aching for his daddy’s approval.

Azcmavel (from this post and this post) is haunted by his father’s words. Though not outright abusive, his father was cutting, emasculating. Incapable of offering approval and oblivious to the chasm he was creating in his young son’s heart. He didn’t know any different – his own father was the same way. Whereas Jehur’s question was mostly ignored, Azcmavel’s was answered with, “No. You are not enough. You’re weak. You’re pathetic. You’re a coward. And you’ll never be any different.”

…Hurt people hurt people.

It becomes a vicious cycle. Children learn what they live. Then they live what they know.

Tirhakah is on the opposite side of this. His parents loved him, taught him what true strength is. They validated him, encouraged him. From the time he was little, they used both actions and words to show him what he meant to them. When others picked on him, mocked him, he stood strong because he knew who he was. He knew he wasn’t a mistake or unwanted – his parents and siblings loved him; he was no different from his siblings, no less of a priceless person. He had a purpose. Though broken by external circumstances and haunted by his choices, the encouraging words have remained with him, have carried him through. (His wife’s words offer immense healing and encouragement as well.) And as such, he is able to affirm, encourage, see through to the heart of broken people and speak to their greatest need: unconditional love and acceptance.

I don’t really know how to end this, so I’ll just end with this: be very careful with your words. Think before you speak and don’t speak in anger. You truly do carry the power of life and death in your tongue.

Choose wisely.

Monday, August 11, 2014

“V” is for violence: vice or virtue?

I received some wonderful suggestions for “V.” This won out; I’m hoping I can do it justice.

If you know my story at all, you know its world is violent. Lots of killing, raping, manipulating, brutalizing, etc. Much of the story focuses on how certain groups are – what they do to those they deem less worthy of life, what they do to those who threaten their lives/power…

And then there are my good guys.

The lines between them are often blurred, if they exist at all. The bad guys are brutal, merciless. So are many of my good guys. My good guys believe they are good, that their cause is just. My bad guys believe the same. Both sides are willing to defend their convictions and people to the death. Both sides kill those the other side deems “innocent.” Both sides seek to protect their own.

Who is right? Who determines which side is good and which side is bad? Or are they really that different at all? Perhaps they are simply two sides to the same coin – opposite, yet one in the same.

Sorek is currently my best (most difficult) example of this. His ability to murder without remorse is chilling, as is his willingness to do it. His natural reaction is violence. He recognizes this about himself and hates it, yet he feels he has no choice. In this world, it is often “kill or be killed.” Or, “kill, or watch your friends die.” What is a vice in the bad guys is more often than not a virtue in Sorek. While they kill to remain in power, he kills to protect, rescue, and free.

But he’s still murdering. And it’s often preemptive.

There are corrupt bad guys, but most believe they’re good – that they are protecting, rescuing, fighting for freedom.

So what separates them? What makes Sorek good, but not some of these other guys? Is it his motivation? Is it theirs? Or is he actually good? Are they actually bad?

(Okay, maybe he wasn’t the greatest example! This is a challenging post, haha!)

Are there times when violence is necessary? Times when, in order to defeat your vicious enemy, you must become equally vicious? Times when the only course of action to keep from being killed is to kill? Is violence ultimately a vice, or a virtue? Or can it be both? And if it can be both, then what decides the difference? And how does one know on which side of the line between good and evil they truly fall?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

“U” is for ulterior

Trust is a big issue in my story-world. So many people have ulterior motives for what they do/don’t do; it’s almost impossible to know who to trust. Trust the wrong person and you’ll probably end up tricked, betrayed, and dead.

One must wonder why I love this place so much.

Three years before the story starts, Masrekah (an H-guy) wanted to marry Rab, but refused to take Ari with them. So Rab refused his proposal. Anger ensued, harsh words were exchanged, and it ended with him basically assaulting her and promising she’d regret her decision. She vowed she wouldn’t. (I love this girl. So feisty!)

Fast forward to now. The H-guys are cracking down on the rebels and Mas appears to be driving the hunt. Rab (who is a rebel) believes he still has it out for her, that he’s watching her because of her past insubordination. Did I mention Mas is the second in command in the town, and has the top guy basically wrapped around his finger? Yeah. He has power enough to destroy everything Rab yearns to build, power enough to find and slaughter every one of her friends. He’s a chilling enemy with unclear motives, and Rab can only assume the worst.

Book two introduces the inn/brothel. The innkeeper is a perfect example of “ulterior,” in one of the cruelest ways. She welcomes Ari in, promises help and safety and food and shelter, and comes off as kindly in every way. Then she traps her. Her motives also remain unclear.

There are many others too – some big, some small, some fluid. Sorek, for instance, has motives for how he relates to Rab that he doesn’t explain for a while, and his desires are often at war. Within a single scene, he may act on one motivation, then turn around and act on another, then go back to the first. It would be wonderful if he’d just say what he’s thinking, if he’d explain himself, but it’s not realistic for his character. He has seen far too many loved ones die, and he’s faced immensely difficult decisions. It may sound odd to any non-writers, but I truly can’t make my characters do whatever I want. Once a character’s personality is established, they lead it. Characters have/should have unspoken desires/drives/hopes/fears. These things often drive relationships in real life, so my story-world and characters should be no different. =)