Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Spotlight: The Gods of Pegāna by Lord Dunsany

Cheers Beardies!

I hope all of you readers are well, and it's a huge pleasure and honour to be writing for The Bearded Scribe. My name is Siddharth Venkataramakrishnan, but for the sake of time and space, call me Sid! For those who skipped the Bio, I'm British, currently on a year out in France, and who'll be studying English at Oxford come October.

So, to start off, I've decided onSpotlighting a British progenitor of Speculative Fiction, Lord Dunsany...or...Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron of Dunsany to his mates (one of the few people with a sillier name than myself!).

For those who don't know Dreaming Baron of Dunsany, he was a member of the Irish Revival, W.B. Yeats' editor, and holder of the second oldest hereditary title in Erin. He spent much of his time alternating between hunting and writing stories in his fabulous abode. (Life sure is hard for some people!)

Like Blake—and unlike Yeats—Dunsany decided to make up his own mythos, peopled with silly-named Gods whom have little care for the lives of men. (Unsurprisingly, Lovecraft named him as a major influence alongside Poe.) The Gods of Pegāna was his first published work and forms a compelling examination of the human character through a fantasy realm.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Spotlight: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Salutations, Beardies!

My name is Hannah. I am so psyched to be here (insert ridiculous girly energy here). I'm from Michigan, study English at an accredited institution, and love chocolate and fantasy, with a special weakness for retold fairytales. Fantasy is my escape from daily life, my bread and butter for the mind, with a side of jam every so often if the book be extraordinary. I hope that I can articulate some of my current favorite and up-and-coming favorite books for you and that you find my recommendations decent.

I am one of those ridiculous readers that may decide to read a book because of its cover. I plead guilty. Arrest me, Literature Police, and lock me in a book prison where the books have no covers. However, in my defense (if I even get a trial in the first place, as my offense is grave indeed), I advocate that art and literature go hand in hand down a beautiful path into a thick wood of joy and have picnics together. I like book cover art. The cover art for Seraphina is a beautiful ink rendition of an Italian-esque town, which features a flying dragon; it’s framed in scarlet with gold lettering. I had to have it. Therefore, I bought it. And I was not disappointed, in either the cover or the story. Of course, now that it has won the Morris Award for 2013, there is a different version of the cover in purple, green and silver. I'm just glad that I got the original with which I fell in love.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Q&A with Hannah Lesniak

Good e'en, Beardies!

Once upon a time, in kingdom called Commerce, there lived a young and idealistic Lady Knight of Knowledge beset with many trials.  As the young knight sought to rescue a much-loved Young Adult library collection from the jaws of the Dragon of Neglect, she was in desperate need of help, and help arrived in the form of a young Page of Knowledge named Hannah.  Together Knight and Page fought a valiant fight, slew the Dragon of Neglect, and won the respect of their subjects.  In time, the Page went to a far-off country to endure an Ordeal, and returning triumphant from this test, was promoted to the position of Squire of Knowledge, and awarded the accolade of membership into The Fellowship of The Bearded Scribe for her bravery, wisdom, and honor...
...Or something like that.

All fairy tales have a basis in truth, and you may have guessed by now that the aforementioned Lady Knight of Knowledge was me. The Page (now Squire) of Knowledge was my dear friend and colleague, Hannah Lesniak, the newest member of The Fellowship of The Bearded Scribe.  Hannah and I see each other at work nearly every day, but getting this interview was harder than it should have been, because, as always when we're together, hijinks and tea ensued.  Because I am a good Lady Knight of Knowledge, though, and Hannah is my faithful Squire, we did at some point manage to have a good conversation.  Read on, Beardies—an adventure awaits!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Spotlight: Wither (The Chemical Garden Series, Book 1) by Lauren DeStefano

Good Day, Beardies!

I’m excited to introduce my first Book Spotlight! As a voracious reader, I’m always looking for recommendations for new reads, especially in dystopian fiction. Elizabeth, in her posts on The Quiddity of Speculation, wrote briefly about the explosion in Young Adult Dystopian fiction since The Hunger Games was published in 2008. One of the series briefly spotlighted was Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Series, and she asked that I spotlight it since I had recently finished reading the series. Even though they are set in the same world and follow an over-arching plot line, each book in the series is distinct, so I will bring you a spotlight on each individually.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Skillful Quill: Strunk and White or Spunk & Bite

In 1918, Strunk and White wrote The Elements of Style, a seminal work that found its way into thousands of classrooms for years afterward. This little book gives some solid advice on the rules of Standard American English. It’s not real popular, however, with creative writers. After all, creative writers are seldom known for being conformists. So I want to begin this blog by popping the big question: Why does grammar matter? We’re writers, after all, born to break the rules, throw caution to the blustery wind, and take words wherever they may desire to go. We don’t want to be boxed in by rules.

Strunk and White be damned! Right?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Along Came Mary

I remember the first time I met Mary Wendt. Sara and I had managed, although she was a year ahead of me at Alma, to land ourselves in the same Sociology 101 class. I say managed like it wasn't purposeful, but it was; our making friends with Mary, however, was purely by accident. She sat next to us the first day of class, and after that first day, we returned to the same seats, delighted to find Mary had returned to the same seat as well. Although Mary was a non-traditional student whose life experience was far greater than our own, we thought of her as no different than us, and we soon fell in love with her pleasant smile and witty charm, quick to call her friend.

Throughout my time at Alma College, Mary and I had a number of English and Composition classes together—my favorite, perhaps, being our shared poetry class with Ms. Catherine Swender, which gave us the opportunity to work with distinguished poets such as Lucille Clifton and Sonia Sanchez. Our love of literature and our shared views on life soon sealed our fates as life-long friends.

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