Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Power of Language ~ Part 1

"The pen is mightier than the sword," English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote in 1839. These words have since become a well-known adage.  This was likely the earliest statement I heard about the power of language.  I heard it at home, in kindergarten, and from the pulpit. My parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were passionate about language, and many of my early memories contain vivid lessons about language and its power.

Today, as we approach the release of Voyagers:  The Third Ghost on May 5th and the opening of the 2020 IWSG Anthology Contest on May 6th, five Voyagers authors and IWSG founder Alex J. Cavanaugh will share experiences that taught them language had power.  Their experiences are moving, and in them I see the power of language and the beginnings of the authors they became.  

The Power of Language:

Katharina Gerlach
"Winter Days"

I can't remember a time when I've thought otherwise. Language has always been something I loved, and growing up bilingual probably enhanced that.

Katharina currently writes stories of varying length in fantastical and historical genres. She runs the Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar each year, a free for all story feast.

Website|Advent Calendar|Facebook|Pinterest

Yvonne Ventresca
"The Third Ghost"

Growing up, we spent most of our family vacations visiting relatives in rural Ohio, which always seemed exotic compared to our suburban life. (They had horses!) But one year, my parents decided to take us someplace really exotic, someplace tropical. Not a big beach person, I positioned my towel under a shady tree and read Stephen King’s The Stand for hours.  My younger brother played all day in the sun, without sunscreen (oops). When his severe sunburn kept us indoors during daylight hours for the rest of the trip, he asked me to tell him about the thick book I was so absorbed in.  The Stand is an epic survival story about good versus evil, and I explained to him what happened, chapter by chapter, until he begged me to finish the book faster so we could both find out how it ended.
I realized the power of language.

The joyous idea of storytelling took hold, and over time—after an English major combined with a "practical" Computer Science major, an MBA, a detour in the corporate world, and hundreds of other books read—I finally wrote and revised some of my own. Two of those stories resulted in published novels: Pandemic and Black Flowers, White Lies. And I’m thrilled that my short story, "The Third Ghost," was chosen for IWSG's Voyagers: The Third Ghost anthology.

Yvonne is the award-winning author of Black Flowers, White Lies, (IPPY Gold Medal for National YA fiction) and Pandemic (SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award).  Her other works include two nonfiction books and several short stories selected for anthologies, including the previous IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life.

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Sherry Ellis
"The Ghosts of Pompeii"

One experience I recall where I learned language had power was in the second grade. Every day, after lunch, the teacher would read a story. These were long books – not picture books. She would stop at the end of a chapter and pick up where she left off on the next day. One of these books was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. This book had me mesmerized. I could not wait for the next day when she would resume the story. That's when I learned that words had power to create fantastic worlds and interesting characters that could hold someone's attention and almost take them out of the ordinary world they were in. And that's when I started writing my own stories.

Sherry's books include Don't Feed the Elephant; Ten Zany Birds; That Mama is a Grouch; That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN; Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China; and Bubba and Squirt's Mayan Adventure.

Bish Denham
"The Blind Ship"

I first learned about the power of language at maybe nine or ten years old when I read a Classics Illustrated comic book edition of Call of the Wild. I sobbed at the end. It was the first time a story made me cry. I was so taken by the story that my mother soon bought me the book. I sobbed again. To this day when I read the last paragraphs, tears come to my eyes. Just writing about it in here, makes me tear up. That's the power of words. I give Jack London full credit for putting me on the path of trying to string words together.

Bish is the author of two middle grade novels and a collection of retold Jamaican Anansi stories.

Beth Anderson Schuck
"The Orchard"

When I was a child, my grandparents lived far away so we exchanged letters often. My grandfather was a wonderful storyteller who via the letters, shared personal stories from his years as a railroad engineer. His tales of near train wrecks and everyday life on a steam engine were fascinating and gave me a window into his life. I awaited his letters so I could learn the next adventure. Though only educated until age 13, he had a gift for showing a glimpse into the heyday of steam railroads. Certainly a wonderful introduction into the power of language to connect us.

Beth writes historical fiction featuring willful female characters.

Alex J. Cavanaugh
a.k.a. the Ninja Captain

Let me say up front – I’m a dude, and I’ve never thought that deeply about anything in my life! But in all seriousness, I’d say it was the first time I said something that really hurt another person. I felt bad and realized that my words could wound others.

All of us in the Insecure Writers Support Group know and appreciate its founder Alex J. Cavanaugh, a.k.a. the Ninja Captain.  He is a fan of all things science fiction, and his interests range from books and movies to music and games.  Alex has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing.  Alex is the author of Amazon bestsellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. 

Coming on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 . . .

Next week the remaining five authors in Voyagers and Diane L. Wolfe, the publisher of Voyagers, will share experiences that taught them language had power.

I began with a quotation about the power
of language, and I'll end with another:
"We die. That may be the meaning of life.
But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives." 
                                           —Toni Morrison

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

* * * * * * * * * *

Blog Interviews and Virtual Tours:

2. May 4 - June McCrary Jacobs

3. May 6 - C. Lee McKenzie, Author

4. May 6 - Natalie AguirreLiterary Rambles

5. May 8 - Sandra Cox

6. May 11 - Juneta Key  

7. May 5-7-12 - Mason Canyon  Thoughts in Progress

8. During May - Elizabeth Seckman

9. May and June - Stormdance Publications https://stormdancebooks.

10. At various times - IWSG Instagram

* * * * * * * * * *

The release date for VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost 
is May 5, 2020,
but purchase links are available,
and you can preorder a copy now.

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99
Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure / Fantasy & Magic
Dancing Lemur Press/Freedom Fox Press


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Everyone had great answers! And then there was mine.
Yvonne, I can relate - I spent many a camping trip with my nose in a book while everyone else was out fishing.

Fundy Blue said...

I thought your response was awesome, Alex! Your answer came from your heart, and the thing I like about the characters in your Cassa/Dragon books is that the main characters have such good hearts. You create wonderful plots and space battles, but the enduring parts of your books for me is the character of the people in your books and the values of friendship, love, and sacrifice. So I absolutely saw the genesis of you as a writer in your quote! Don't sell yourself short, as my mother used to say! Have a good one, my friend!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Alex, you are the only one who went where I did in my response (you'll see :D). I don't think I necessarily understood my absorption in books as indicative of the power of language. Not sure what I was thinking at that age, to be honest. It was about a million years ago :D

Yvonne Ventresca said...

Alex-- books on vacation are a requirement. :)

Sherry Ellis said...

I couldn't imagine not having a book while I was on vacation! LOL! Really enjoyed reading everyone's answers!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I remember when grade school teachers read from books. I think I "read" the entire Henry Higgins series that way,

Fundy Blue said...

Hi, Sherry! I enjoyed all the answers too. And I'm with you ~ a book is a must on a vacation! Have a good one!

Fundy Blue said...

I often read the Henry Huggins books to my students, Diane. Who could not love Ribsy? So many wonderful books ~ I could have read to my kiddos all day long every day. That's one of my favorite memories of teaching ~ reading aloud to my kiddos. Have a good one!