Monday, June 25, 2012

Lampron Castle, Namrun

Lampron Castle
It's hot and humid, so it's about that time of year for many Turkish families to head up to their high country homes, called Yayla. Our family has a shuttered little limestone farmhouse in Gozne. Lonely, because it is never used.

Sometimes I wish one of the local djinn would move in at least. I've had news that someone chopped down the large fir in the side yard, since we weren't there to stop them.

Our Mersin neighbors were from Tarsus, so their yayla was the village of Çamlıyayla (yayla with pines). It's very picturesque, set high in the Taurus mountains, overlooking the Cilician Gates of Pozanti.

Perched even higher above the town is Namrun or Lampron, a crusader castle that was once home to a branch of Armenian princes, and part of my main character's heritage.

It's a spur castle complete with a lower ward, upper ward, and some stairs cut into the side of a craggy peak. However, if you didn't know what to look for, you might mistake it for a pile of rocks, but for the one a barrel vaulted hall left standing.

I've heard the only inhabitant there is a squirrel named Ozymandias.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Cryptic and Creepy Title of Mystery

The Raven Boys
I noticed a lot of the good books I've read lately have really, really long titles- with acronym aliases.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns - GoFT
Daughter of Smoke and Bone - DoSB
The Masque of the Red Death (<3, )  -MoRD
For Darkness Shows the Stars - FDSS
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - UMD
The Knife of Never Letting Go - KoNLG

I could go on. All the cool kids are doing it.

Maybe my titles need some embellishment? Let's see.

Burnt Amber could be The Amber of Burntness ess ess


Mist of Kavala could be- I guess I'm sort of guilty with this title, unless I want to add a Grey maybe- but there are too many Greys on the market these days. *ahem*

At the very least, I've noticed there's a "The" in just as interesting titles, as in The (insert mysterious nouns here).

Example of a great title with The:

The Raven Boys  TRB?

...which is on my TBR for this fall, or as soon as I can get my hands on a legal copy. Just look at that gorgeous cover! And the amazing trailer!

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

So, now that you're all excited by Maggie Steifvater's awesome. Yeah.

Anyway, I'm not married to my titles. I refer to my books by their main character, as if they are real people that I care about. Which is a little bit scary.

PS. I'm scaling back to one post per week for the summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Istanbul Arts and Culture Festival
Istanbul International Arts and Culture Festival is a fascinating and unique cultural experience bringing together some of the world’s most talented writers, designers, editors, actors, poets, filmmakers, dancers and musicians to the city of Istanbul. The festival is committed to creating a dynamic arts diplomacy programme in the world and forging greater cultural relations between Turkey and the international artistic community. (
Vogue magazine touted the festival as "Eastern Promise" billed it as "The Fashion Set Touches Down in Istanbul"
Harper's Bazaar sent Derek Blasberg in for the details.

Istancool is an artist's whos-who mashup of gallery exhibitions, and educational experiences. This year they changed the name to Istanbul '74, but it's still, apparently, very cool. (Please, let me know if you find a plausible reason for the name change. It can't just be that 1974 was a good year. Can it?)

Celebrities and reknowned artists are on the must-see list, and the social events are extravagant. This year it was Boom Boom Room (from NYC), set up in the steel and glass inside of burned out 200 year old mansion, Esma Sultan Palace, on the Bosphorus - with a view of the suspension bridge. These guys know how to throw a party! The Standard dishes on the awesome here. 

I can't think of a more appropriate place to explain Istanbul's mix of old and new, can you?

Esma Sultan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

FYI, my MC references Istancool because her roomate is a design student, and it's all in the details. ;)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mindscrambler Central

Scott Adams
It's only been three days since my personal mindscramblers (kids) finished school, and I've already had to surgically remove the laptop twice. They could spend all day gaming, which would make it very quiet around here.

So why do I fight it? I want quiet, don't I?

If it was quiet, then Writer Me could get some work done. (There are only 62 days left until WriteOnCon!)

Except there's productive quiet, like when they're reading a book (heaven forbid!), and then there's guilty quiet - the kind that keeps the synapses in my brain from firing properly because Mother Me knows my children should GET OFF THE COMPUTER! and DO SOMETHING ACTIVE! or FIND SOMETHING CREATIVE!, etc.

However. Such outbursts are not a good thing to resort to in this house because DH works from home, and anything above a hush provokes him to go into dragon mode. (You thought I wrote fantasy? Dragonkeeping is my day job.)

So. I tell myself it's a good thing I signed my oldest up for an online class. It will keep his mind from turning to MMORPG mush. Earth and Environmental Science starts today - and he gets credit for it. Mother Me is happy. :)

But. Am I depriving him of a lazy, play-until-your-eyes-bleed summer at home? He doesn't have too many of those left before The Pointy-Haired Boss gets to him. Actually, TPHB's pie-chart looks kind of like mine. Mother Me is sad. :(

Mother Me will also be carting the younger one around to basketball camps this summer. Two birds with one stone there: No computer+Doing Something Active. Mother Me is happy. :)

But. Am I depriving him of one-on-one time with his brother? Between homework, sports and other miscellaneous activities, they barely have time to fight over the bathroom during the school year. Mother Me is sad. :(

So. I guess Gamer Me will give in and allow plenty of Minecrafting, Runescaping, and COD Team Deathmatching, whenever there's a chance this summer. Then Writer Me can relax and get some words on the page. ;)

PS - I've also got Grandma sleepovers and pooltime scheduled in, because what's summer without those? Reader Me likes that plan. :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Alaca Taşı, or Agate for the Unlucky

Alaca Taşı - Agate
As I watch the Turkish series Muhteşem Yüzyıl, more and more interesting folklore comes up. Last episode, there was something called an Alaca Taşı - literally, "a taking stone". So, being the diligent researcher that I am, I dug up some information about it.

An Alaca Taşı is a type of color changing agate, white with black veins, in this case. The stone captures illness, bad luck, stress, or any other problem and locks it up inside itself.

It's all in black and white.


If the agate has done its job, then the black veins creep into the white stone, eventually turning the whole thing black. Soaking the stone in white vinegar "resets" it for further use, so I'm guessing the color change has to do with and acid/base balance in the stone, but I'm not a scientist. All agates can change color if exposed to heat or chemicals.

In researching this stone, I also discovered that "mood rings" are actually a type of agate. I remember getting one as a souvenir one summer, and then watching it slowly change from green to blue, and back again.

I digress.

Agate is known across the world from absorbing negativity, and is used in making evil eye charms. I even found one site claiming that agate "Can give you the strength to carry on."

Hmm. I might want to find out where I hid that souvenir ring.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Serpent's Shadow - Tween Book Review

The Serpent's Shadow
Today I give you Zach's book review, a random event for which I must provide compensation.

The Serpent's Shadow is the third book in the Kane Chronicles trilogy by Rick Riordan.

I liked it because, like the Percy Jackson series, this had some humor, and it was balanced out by adventure and action. I recommend this book to people who liked the other books by Rick Riordan because they all have a good story line.  

The situation is almost the same as in Percy Jackson: the main character has to save the world. I think this is the last book in the Kane series because after Carter and Sadie banish Apophis, the gods recede with him, and it kind of wraps up the whole story line of saving the world and protecting the world and the things that live in it.  

There were some slow parts in the book where the characters just talked and talked for two or three chapters at a time. But when there was action, it was kind of hard following the scenes to get the image into my head, so I had to read it several times to actually get the perspective of what Rick Riordian was trying to get you to see.
I liked the fact that he included lots of ancient Egyptian magic, traditional Egyptian artifacts, and weapons like the crook and flail (the weapons of the pharos). The book had some really good battle scenes. The fact that Rick Riordian used lots of unusual things makes me think he did his research right.
The story followed basic writing guide lines: the hero defeats the villain, the hero loses everything, and then the hero gets back everything and wants to defeat the enemy. The writing structure is the same for all of his books. There is always an ordinary person that is extraordinary because there father or mother is a god. (In both cases they are dads.) They get pulled into a magical world, and there is always a bad guy who has to ruin everything and make it so the hero has to save the day.
I liked most of Rick Riordian’s books because they were entertaining and funny, but were also on topic, and I was able to understand all of it after a couple re-reads to get the idea of what he was trying to say. It is like that in all of his series, and it gets a little predictable sometimes, so you need to stop reading and take a break or read something else. Overall, I liked this book, but there were a few flaws, but no book ever is perfect, just close to perfect.

Amazing what you can get out of a kid when you promise them a new video game. (Minecraft-which I will play too. hehe.) 


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