Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
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Gobbledygook

One of the people I correspond with is an aspiring writer and she asked me about language in sci-fi romances. She was having problems with words to describe things in her sci-fi work that didn’t sound plain stupid. She wanted to know how I attack this aspect of world building to give my work a sci-fi flavor and particularly mentioned my Talking Dog series, which is one of her favorites. I thought this was a great question and decided it would make an excellent topic for a blog post.

From childhood, I’ve watched sci-fi movies and television. I’ve seen how the writers have handled the language aspect and absorbed that. While I’ve never been a huge sci-fi/fantasy reader, I’ve read enough to see how other writers work this aspect of world building. I think the most important thing is to make sure the reader isn’t jerked out of your story because they’re so busy laughing about your made-up language or are totally confused because they don’t understand what is happening in the story. On the other hand, the writer shouldn’t copy everything they’ve seen or read in other sci-fi books or movies. Originality is good.

With my Talking Dogs series, I went light on the “foreign” language aspect. My stories are about aliens crash landing in New Zealand. Just as an aside, a lot of the time my editor and readers think I’m writing a foreign language anyway!

Hinekiri, the aunt, is a seasoned traveler/explorer. She’s good with languages and doesn’t stand out as a tourist. Janaya, the niece who stowed away to save her aunt, had a crash course with some Earth-speak tapes and she sometimes mixes up things when it comes to language. Here’s an example.

“Back on the ship,” she snapped to her aunt as she pulled her weapon free. “Now.”

To her right, the leaves of a fern shuddered. Janaya scented the air. Sweat. Torgon sweat.

“Come on out with your fingers poked inside your ears,” she ordered, aiming her neutralizing weapon at the dark green bushes that had moved.

“That would be, hands in the air,” her aunt said.

With my Talking Dogs, I focused more on the language difficulties, the same ones that people learning English have. With my stories this made sense because my aliens want to blend rather than stand out.

I gave the race of bad aliens (who are a pretty lilac color) the name of Torgons, the planet where Hinekiri and Janaya come from is called Dalcon, and I had a few other things with made up names. As I said, with this book I erred on the light side because it is set in New Zealand and I wanted my aliens to blend.

Foreign languages and scientific names for plants or animals can be a good source of language for sci-fi works. Authors can also use part of these words because some of them are really long while a few of the syllables work out perfectly as a made up language.

With my free story, Interplanetary Love, I used a completely different technique. I took normal English words and spelled them backward, making a new language all of my own. With Fallen Idol, I made up words, plucking them from the depths of my brain and that worked out okay.

With all my writing, I tend to err on the light side when it comes to a “foreign” language. I’ve read books where I’ve had to read the same paragraph several times to work out what the author or the characters were trying to say. I think this part of world building is a delicate balance because if you have too many strange words you frustrate your readers and if you don’t have enough you might as well write a contemporary. If anything, I’m probably on the too light side, but I can live with that. I write what I prefer to read.

Writers, what do you think? How do you tackle this part of world building when you’re writing a paranormal, sci-fi or fantasy story?

Readers, what do you think? Do writers get it right or do we confuse you? Is there a writer who you think does a really good job?

A Day at Munro House

I’ve been busy writing, editing, sending off queries and judging my pile of books for the RITAs. It’s unpleasantly hot here in New Zealand at the moment with today being the hottest so far. Scotty is really feeling the heat, too. Poor thing, although it doesn’t affect her appetite. She is still in possession of Dexter’s basket (see my post on The Curious Series of Events to get the scoop). Dexter hasn’t turned up to claim it so that’s good. I don’t think Scotty would be happy to see it disappear like her old basket.

Mr. Munro is still dragging me out of bed at an ungodly hour each morning to go for a walk, and we go for another after dinner. He’s determined to lose weight and is even having beerless days. I know he’s really serious when that happens. I have to say that my clothes feel a tad looser so maybe giving up an hour or so of sleep is a good thing.

We’ve booked a holiday to Samoa and that’s something to look forward to in a few months. Mr. Munro also came home with a very fat travel brochure today so we can plan a holiday for next year. We did intend to go to Nashville and that side of the US while taking in the RWA conference, but our exchange rate has taken a hit. When we went to the US last year the rate was around .78 and it’s sitting at .51 at the moment. Not good news for us or another US trip. Instead we’re looking at exotic places like Namibia, South Africa, Portugal and India. We both love the planning stage of trips and it makes for a very interesting dinner conversation. “What about xy?” one of us will suggest. “Yes, or we could go to zz.” the other will say.
LOL – we might win Lotto too. That would help!

I’m pretty sure a new scavenger hunt starts at The Samhellion today and I’m one of the authors. Check it out at The Samhellion and don’t forget there’s a new free story out each day to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

And finally, I’m guest blogging at We Write Romance. Here’s the link.

What’s happening at your place?

Country Boy or City Sophistication?

So this track was playing on my iPod while Scotty and I wandered at our old-dog pace around the reserve this morning. It made me start thinking. Possibly a bad thing, but follow along…

I’m a country girl at heart, and my husband also grew up on a farm. The farming background gives us a lot in common. But I’ve also lived in towns and cities and met city boys. Their idea of dates are different for a start. A country man might take you to a rodeo, to an agricultural show or stock sales. Dinner out might be at the local pub and jeans are fine. In the city, dates are to nightclubs, nice restaurants or maybe a walk in a park. There are art galleries and museums and sexy dresses. Spiky heels that áre in no danger of sinking halfway to China when you walk beside your man. Try that in the country and see what happens!

In most of my writing, and especially in my Middlemarch series, the heroes are all country boys. Strong, capable farmers who don’t need to work out in a gym. An exception to this rule would be PLAYING TO WIN where my hero is a professional rugby player and businessman. He does a lot of promotion and charity work and is at home wearing a suit. While my Middlemarch men could do the suit thing, they’re more at home in the wide open spaces.

I like to read about both types of heroes, but I have a real soft spot for a cowboy, country male type. I like them because they’re independent, capable, usually emotionally strong and can turn their hand to anything. They’re not generally full of themselves. Maybe they’re not quite as good at romance, but we know the right woman can smooth the rough edges.

What do you think about real life – country man or a city man and why? And in fiction – which do you choose? Is your answer different and why?

This year Harlequin is celebrating sixty years of romance. They’re giving away free downloads of sixteen titles that represent most of their lines. If you haven’t checked out their free offer yet, run straight over and download the titles that grab your interest. I’ve already downloaded my share.
Here’s the link.

Romance on the Web.

Today I have a selection of interesting tidbits for you from the world wide web.

The first is at Romancing the Blog and it’s about books and censorship. This post shocked me. I dislike censorship of any sort and feel that adults should have freedom of choice. I can borrow erotic romances at my local library. They’re labeled with large stickers that state the book contains explicit content. It’s my choice to check out a book with spicy content. I presume this also alerts the librarian if a minor tries to check one out. That’s all the oldies need on their library books – a sticker stating the book contains salty language or explicit content. They can then choose to read a particular book or leave it on the shelf.

Emily at EREC has a post about Everything Old. It’s about the universal problems faced by authors. They’re ageless problems!

I’m blogging over at The Samhellion about Sleeping with the Fishes and routine. I forgot to mention it yesterday. Oops!

Sign up to receive a free copy of Night Hawk, a short story by Lora Leigh.

Download a free copy of Roxanne St. Claire’s Bullet Catcher novella.

And of course, if you haven’t checked out my free reads, go there straight away!

Do you have any interesting posts to share?

Try a Free Read Today

Recently I’ve added some free reads to my website in the hope of attracting new readers. I’ve been surprised by how many extra visitors these free stories have brought to my site already because I haven’t advertised them yet.

My free reads are available here: Interplanetary Love and Live the Moment

I thought I’d do a little promotion on behalf of my fellow writers at Romance Divas since many of them also have free stories available on their websites. The genres and sensuality levels differ so check these first before you download the stories.

Here are some free reads from Romance Diva authors, in no particular order:

James Buchanan
Debbie Mumford
Diana Castilleja
Jennifer Colgan
L.K. Campbell
Midnight Moon Cafe – on the righthand sidebar.
Kelly Jamieson – has an ongoing serial on her blog.
Sela Carsen
Leah Braemel – on the sidebar.
Jennifer McKenzie
The Samhellion – free reads from some of Samhain Publishing authors.

Enjoy!