WORDS by Kim Fielding
Hi, I’m Kim Fielding. And since I’m an author, it’s probably no surprise that I love words. They’re my toys, my building blocks, my hot fudge and whipped cream and sprinkles. I bet you feel the same way as a reader.
One of the things I really delight in is how rich the English vocabulary is. Estimates of the number of English words vary widely, but the number I’ve seen thrown around most often is one million. One million words. And while some words become obsolete and eventually, tragically, die, new ones are always being born. RIP, widdendream, but welcome to the world, bromance and sexting. Plus we have all sorts of regional differences, not just between English speaking countries but even between different parts of the same one. Born in Illinois, I recently got into an argument with my husband and kids (all native Californians) as to whether soft drinks should be called “pop” or “soda.” And along the same lines, I learned a few years back that lemonade in England is a totally different thing than American lemonade.
One benefit of such a huge vocabulary is that we can choose among many words to find one with the precise nuance we want. Consider the word walk, for instance. Plain. But we can also amble or shamble or plod. We can stroll or saunter. We can stumble, creep, totter. Or we can stride or march. Isn’t it lovely how each of those words paints an entirely different picture, even though they all mean essentially the same thing?
Specific words can affect our perceptions and memories. A psychologist named Elizabeth Loftus did a series of experiments in which she showed people a video of a car accident. Later she asked them to estimate the speed of the cars. She asked all the participants essentially the same question, changing only a single word: “How fast were the cars going when they contacted/hit/bumped/collided/smashed?” People estimated faster speeds when the question said “smashed” than when it said “contacted.”
Word choice matters. Consider this:
Beaming, Felix gazed into Ralph’s azure eyes.
Smirking, Felix scrutinized Ralph’s iceberg eyes.
Smiling, Felix looked at Ralph’s blue eyes.
Three very different stories there, don’t you think?
My day job is professor, and my academic training is in law and psychology. Both of those disciplines have taught me that sometimes plain language is best. If you’re writing a contract, for example, you don’t want to get all flowery and leave people guessing what the hell you mean. And even in fiction, simple is often best. Shakespeare certainly knew his way around the English language, but look at the strength of one of his most famous lines: To be or not to be. I can’t think of a more powerful way to phrase that most fundamental of questions.
Sometimes, though, we can sprinkle fancy words among the plain, like hot sauce on potatoes. The hills can be verdant. The spurned lover can be bellicose. The woman who drives a Rolls and dines on caviar can be a sybarite. Our thief—who is perhaps quite profligate as well as puerile, can abscond. Why call a someone stupid or even brutish when we can call him an atavistic anomaly instead?
My newest book is second in a trilogy; each volume bears a fancy word as title. We began with Stasis, a state or condition in which change is absent. Now we have Flux, a state of continuous change or movement (which is apt because our heroes spend the book traveling). Finally we’ll have Equipoise, an even balance of forces. Assuming, that is, Ennek and Miner survive pirates, talking birds, a scheming wizard, and various other menaces.
What words are you in love with?
Title: Flux (Ennek Trilogy #2)
Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Page Count: 208
Reviewed by: Steph
Ennek, the son of Praesidium’s Chief, has rescued Miner from a terrible fate: suspension in a dreamless frozen state called Stasis, the punishment for traitors. As the two men flee Praesidium by sea, their adventures are only beginning. Although they may be free from the tyranny of their homeland, new difficulties await them as Miner faces the continuing consequences of his slavery and Ennek struggles with controlling his newfound powers as a wizard. In this sequel to Stasis, the fugitives encounter challenges both human and magical as they explore new lands and their deepening relationship with each other.
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They shouldn’t have wasted moisture on tears. The vomiting hadn’t helped either. By the time the sun set, the bits of Miner’s exposed skin—his face, his hands—felt hot and sore, and both men were as dry as old paper. Ennek had slept most of the day, slumped against Miner’s chest, but as the sky alit with oranges and reds, he stirred.
“I’m sorry,” he said in a sandpaper voice.
“Not being… better. Stronger. Smarter.”
Miner wasn’t sure whether to laugh at Ennek’s foolishness or cry at the man’s inability to see his own worth. He ended up doing neither, instead caressing Ennek’s back under the shredded shirt, murmuring nonsense syllables at him like a parent might to a distressed child. After a time Ennek pulled away a little. His eyes were very shiny, but he wasn’t crying. “I think we’re not far from land,” he said.
“I saw a gull this morning.”
Ennek nodded. “Good. I can try to steer us to shore. I’m not sure how soon I can row us there, though—”
“You’re in no condition to row us anywhere,” Miner said, because Ennek was still pale and drawn.
“Well, neither are you.” Ennek pointed at Miner’s wrist. Then he frowned and took a closer look at the cut on Miner’s arm. “And this is beginning to fester. You’re dehydrated too.”
“So are you. So much water and nothing to drink.”
Ennek looked out over the edge of the boat and frowned in concentration. “I’ll wager I could remove the salt,” he said, almost to himself.
Okay, so let me just say OMG I am loving this trilogy so far! This book, in my opinion, is the best one so far in the trilogy.Steph's Review“You’ve already made yourself sick enough doing magic,” Miner protested.
But Ennek ignored him. He knelt and leaned over the side, scooping up a double handful of sea. Then his frown deepened for a moment and he brought his hands to his face. He sipped cautiously at the liquid and then grinned triumphantly. “It worked! Come here.”
Miner considered arguing but decided that would be pointless. He scooted around until he was next to Ennek, also along the side of the boat.
“Get some water,” Ennek said.
Miner stole a glance over the edge and imagined himself hanging over as Ennek had just done. “I… I can’t.”
Ennek gave him a patient smile. “That’s all right. It probably wouldn’t have worked with your wrist anyway. Hang on.” He leaned over again and brought up more water. “Drink it before it drips away.”
Miner leaned down and put his lips above Ennek’s palms. It was a strangely intimate thing to do, to drink from someone else’s cupped hands. But the water tasted only a bit brackish, and it felt wonderful as it moistened his tongue and throat. He drank it all, and then Ennek gave him another handful and another, and he would have kept on going, but when Miner saw him begin to sway and noticed the way his breaths became harsher, Miner stopped him. “Drink some yourself,” he insisted.
Ennek managed to drink only two handfuls before he collapsed.
“Don’t you dare throw up that water!” Miner said anxiously, moving Ennek’s head into his lap.
“Trying not to.”
Miner rubbed softly at Ennek’s temple. He didn’t know if would help, but he doubted it would hurt. He felt so useless, just sitting there like a great, timid lump. Ennek closed his eyes, and Miner thought he might have fallen asleep. But then ten or fifteen minutes later, he opened them again. “This is a stupid way to die.”
More of Kim’s Books
Kim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.