Category Archives: WRITING


I went to a regional writers’ conference in September that offered really good ideas for writers who know they should plan to do their own marketing. I know I don’t read everything that is available on the subject of blogging, so there were a lot of new ideas for me.

We all know that we need a “platform”— a way to reach the people who will be the audience waiting for our books when they are published. We have all heard that we need a blog, so those people can find us before the book comes out. But what should we write about? And how can we ever hope that people will find it?

o Research that doesn’t fit in your book!
o Sample book content;
o Expand on places/scenes in your book;
o Relevant issues in the news;
o Back stories on characters;
o Sample book content;
o Review books in a similar genre; (This I have tried. Do I dare criticize writers who have published in the field, when I have not? Is that audacious, or what?)
o What is on your nightstand.

o In case you have been as out of it as I have, this means getting as many people as possible to find your blogsite! This forces me to admit that I have clearly not been on top of blogging trends. I had not read the posts that told me to watch out for this. But maybe it won’t be that difficult:
o Most important: use keywords or tags to identify ideas in your posts that are popular among people using GOOGLE to find info, answer questions, etc.
o It is apparently important to GOOGLE [I now realize that the “word” must stand for God Of … … … … … — have you figured it out?] that we post regularly. If we don’t post regularly, then GOOGLE somehow knows, and does not rank our blogs highly. Fortunately, “regularly” does not mean daily; it may not require weekly effort; and it may not even require monthly writings on the web. Apparently, it should just be on a regular schedule. (I tried to ask GOOGLE if it were true, but all I learned is that they use an algorithm to establish Page Ranks. If that is the case, regularity could be a factor.)

o Write shorter blog posts: 300 – 800 words; 1200 words is no longer the expected norm.
o Include one photo per page or post. Unless, of course, the whole purpose is to show off your photos. I suppose a travel journal could have more photos than text, but if the purpose of your blog is to show off your writing, let’s weight the scale in favor of words.
o It is better to renew your blogsite subscription for more than one year. Apparently GOOGLE knows that too. Longer subscriptions suggest that you can be found there for a good while, and are not just trying out this writing thing before moving on to another interest.
o There are marketing businesses that can make your site a star. There is software you can link to your blog to give you a daily evaluation. There are whole books on the subject —available as e-books, of course.
o Or you can relax, write about what interests you and connect with people who share those interests.

Good Luck!

Viking contributions to English

There were three interesting Iceland-related events in Seattle recently and I managed to attend them all.

On January 2 a professor of linguistics spoke on “English: language of the Vikings.” The lecture notes that he distributed had a significantly different title but this label attracted a good crowd of non-academics to the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard, Seattle’s original Scandinavian neighborhood.

The speaker started his talk by clarifying that his field is linguistics, not languages. Dr. Emonds had written the book with a Scandinavian language specialist but his own contribution was the analysis of language patterns.

The focus of the talk was evidence of Scandinavian languages’ influences on English as it developed from Old English to Middle English after the Norman (northern French) invasion and takeover of England in 1066. For several hundred years before that, Central England had been ruled by “Danelaw” – Viking invaders. When both communities in England were confronted by the French speaking Norman invaders, Old English melded with the language of the Danelaw area, thus forming Middle English which has since evolved into Modern English.

The surprise for the Iceland-oriented people in the audience was the speaker’s assertion that the Scandinavian language contributions came from the mainland-Scandinavian languages only. When asked, Dr. Emond stated that Icelandic and Faroese (language of the Faroe Islands) were not thought to have contributed, as they lacked some of the word order patterns that English and the mainland-Scandinavian languages share.

When I ran this idea past an Icelandic friend in Reykjavik, he disagreed that Icelandic word order differs (stranded prepositions in particular) from other old Scandinavian languages. Others have said, “Well, there have always been a lot of dialects among the Scandinavian languages.” It is hard to draw hard boundaries around language practices.

Ironically, when I noted that the titles the speaker listed as examples of Norse/Old Scandinavian literature appeared to me to be classic Icelandic titles, my Icelandic friend answered that Norwegians often claim Icelandic works as written in the Norwegian language, because of the two languages were so similar when the Icelandic Sagas were written.

Here are the seven titles Emonds listed:
Bandamanna Saga
Finnboga saga hins ramma
Gamal norsk Homiliebok
Heimskringla: Noregs konunga sögur af Snorri Sturluson
Konungs skuggsiá
Laxdæla saga.

If you know Scandinavian languages, you may say that all these titles are clearly written in Danish or Norwegian.  I am happy to agree to that: the editions that the linguistic scholars listed were.  But Njal´s Saga, Laxdalar Saga, the Saga of Finnbogi the Mighty and Snorri Sturluson (although not the title of his listed here) are all included in the authoritative Complete Sagas of the Icelanders as written in Icelandic in that country.  If you are curious about Snorri, I recommend Nancy Marie Brown´s Song of the Vikings; Snorri and the making of Norse myths.


 One of the titles listed as an example of Old Norse/ mainland Scandinavian literature:






But I am not a scholar of linguistics.  You may want to review Emonds’ and Faarlund’s ideas for yourself. The book is English: the Language of the Vikings by Joseph Emonds and Jan Terje Faarlund, published by Palacky University Press, Olomouc, Czech Republic, 2014. Emonds is an American, has taught classes at numerous universities in the US, Europe and Japan and resides in England when not a visiting professor elsewhere. He enjoys talking about his work, so keep an eye out for a presentation near you.

Is the Print Book Dead?

From http://www.Resurrection Print is dead. Long live print.

Mission: A publishing enterprise is more than a simple conduit between author and audience. We believe there is power in a physical book, and we seek to embrace the traditional spirit of print while still experimenting with the novelty of the future. We wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion that reading is not only sexy, it is also essential. At Resurrection House, we consider it a privilege to keep important things alive.
Resurrection House is a recently revived Northwest publisher of literary fantasy, sci-fi and their close relatives. The publisher (the human face of Resurrection House) is a favorite nephew of mine who is familiar with electronic publication as well as print. He is working to ensure the future of his preferred genre on the printed page. He knows there are challenges, but also rewards for producing the physical book.
When I was in Reykjavik recently, I asked two people at Iceland Review (published both in print and on the internet) what they think of the future of English book publishing. Their opinions are relevant as Iceland is the world’s most literate country with both the highest literacy rate and the most books read per capita.
If these writers are representative of the Icelandic publishing industry, they are not as optimistic as Resurrection House. The Icelandic writers point out the impact of the Smart Phone revolution. Iceland got its first radio station in 1930 they said, and as recently as 20 years ago had two only stations. Now Icelanders can receive 25,000 radio stations from all over the world via their phones – just one source of instant information and entertainment accessible via handheld electronic devices. They reminded me that there used to be 50,000 journalists in the United States just a few years ago. The number is now 35,000, with the number of newspapers shrinking and both publications and readers turning to electronic media.
They did say that ‘a good book (presumably meaning a well written product) will always be on paper’. Iceland Review editor and lead photographer, Páll Stefánsson, asserted that photography and art books will continue to find publication on paper, too. They both recommended electronic publication for less well-known authors, while seeking their audiences.
What do I think? When I look around, many more readers are holding books than Nooks or Kindles. Smart Phones are great for finding an instant answer, listening to tunes and playing small screen games – sometimes even for communicating with another human being. The publication of physical books may not be keeping pace with the growth of human population, but it is far from dead. At least I hope so. My book is mostly written and I know there are people out there waiting to turn its pages.

Volcano Lady

I started writing about Iceland’s volcanoes a year and a half ago, and I felt rather audacious.  After all, I am not a geologist, a volcanologist, or even Icelandic.  But I am drawn back to Iceland as often as I can rationalize a trip.  When I am there I always spend time in the bookstores.  I have looked at the books about Iceland’s volcanoes and they are either written by geologists for people who have studied geology and have a strong scientific vocabulary or they are picture books – usually capturing the latest eruption in all its glory.

     When I travel, I like to have natural history books with me, so that I have a chance of identifying the birds, flowers and trees I am likely to see.  This helps me understand the environment around me.

     Over the years that I have visited Iceland I have found handbooks of the birds that live or visit there, and one for the many flowering plants.  When I am hiking or visiting there in the warmer months, I have the books in my daypack, to resolve any questions of identification that arise. 

     Hiking is my favorite activity in Iceland, and it is impossible to ignore the volcanic landscape.  Columnar basalt, moss covered lava, erratics, volcanic cones, bubbling mud pots, geysers – they all contribute to a fascinating landscape.  When we drive through the countryside, peaks, glaciers and all variety of landmarks are pointed out: Hekla, Hengill, Krýsuvík and many more. These three are all on the list of Icelandic volcanoes.  And there are stories to go with each of them!

     A few years ago I realized that a book about the volcanoes that includes their stories is what I think is needed – and I could write it.  I love doing research and worked for decades in jobs that required a lot of writing about technical subjects for general readers – state legislators and the public.

     Winter in the Pacific Northwest is a good time to start a new writing project, and last year that is what I did.  Whenever I completed a chapter I have shared it with two friends who have spent most of their lives in Iceland, Bragi in Reykjavík and Selma on her farm, not far from here.

     Join a writers group!  is one of the commandments for writers working toward publication.  So I joined the Olympia Critique Writers Group which has many members but a core of about eight who meet most weeks to listen, read and critique each others´ work.  All of my reviewers there have been helpful and enthusiastic.  ‘‘This makes me want to go to Iceland!‘‘ is my favorite comment.

     After reading the first few chapters, Selma asked if she could share the chapters with her Dad who was visiting from Iceland.  Of course!  He liked what he read, too.  Selma told me that he started referring to me as The Volcano Lady.  Writing this book did not seem quite so audacious after all.