No More Links on Wednesday

(most of the time)

Hi everyone! Welcome back to Out of Babel! My particular off-the-grid August brought a lot of changes: I’m starting a new job.

This new calling is one that should blend well with my other job of being a (still partly home schooling) mom and all-around housekeeper. I’m not sure what impact it’s going to have on blogging, since blogging is down on the priority list, below momming, Christianing, and supposedly below novel writing.

I’m well on my way to having posts scheduled for September and October, so that will be taken care of at least for a few months while I learn the ropes at New Job and how to integrate that with taking care of Old Jobs. There’s just one exception … I don’t have links lined up for Wednesdays.

Heretofore, I have posted a link on Wednesday. Usually they have to do with archaeology, but sometimes it’s psychology, theology, or humor. Well, no more. Something has to give, and this it. I might still throw you guys a bonus Wednesday link if I stumble upon one, but for the most part, all you’re going to get is regional or art pics on Monday, quotes on Thursday, and rants/writing updates/book reviews on Friday.

I’ll still check Out of Babel and respond to comments, and I still demand that you guys go out and buy my books. That’s it for now! Love you all … bye!

Character Art

Earlier this summer, I held a book signing event. I wanted to have something to offer attendees besides just my books and a smile, so I made some character art. It was not as popular as anticipated, but here it is for you to enjoy. You can buy hard copies of any of these sketches from me directly, or I will mail you one for free if you review one of my books on Goodreads or Amazon.

You can also see this art, along with some landscape art, on my recently added Art page.

Nimri, antihero of The Long Guest
This is Klee, the main character of my third book, The Great Snake
Klee’s father, Endu, who was mauled by a bear in The Strange Land
This is Klee’s brother, Ikash. The picture is called “Don’t Eat My Family.” This exact scene never occurs in the books, but this is his basic attitude throughout The Great Snake.
A younger Ikash and his mother, Sari, having a cup of herbal tea
Jabed, older brother to Ikash and Klee, with his wife Magya. I didn’t add their passel of kids, as that would have taken many more hours of sketching.

The Big Five Personality Traits … and My Characters

I’ve posted before about the “Big Five” personality traits. Though I like personality typologies such as the MBTI, almost all of them come from a pre-existing theory the researchers have and then seek to impose on the data. The Big Five are the closest thing we have to traits that emerged from almost pure data … that is, from casting a very wide net (in this case over adjectives used to describe people), and then seeing if those adjectives “clumped” around certain traits, and then eventually finding biochemical analogues to these traits in the brain. So says Jordan Peterson.

Since the Daily Wire made all of Jordan Peterson’s old materials available on their web site, I’ve been watching my way through a psychology class he taught about the Big Five. His lectures are always so rich and insightful, even if they do get a bit Jung-y, that they never fail to fire my imagination. And the traits never fail to remind us of people we know who are particularly low or high in each of them. Today, I thought it would be fun to name a character from my series who exemplifies each of these traits. All the technical information about these traits in the paragraphs below comes from my recent viewing of Peterson’s lectures.

Extraversion

Extraversion, according to Peterson’s lectures, basically means the person has a very active incentive/reward system in the brain. The basic impulse of extraversion is “There’s a good thing … I’m going to go and get it.”

Nimri (later, Nirri), the main character in The Long Guest, is high in extraversion. Though paraplegic and living basically as a prisoner of people he can’t communicate with, he remains as active as he can, doing arm exercises, keeping a journal, and continually seeking to expand his sphere of activity and influence as much as possible.

Neuroticism

Neuroticism is the technical term for “high sensitivity to negative emotion.” In Peterson’s evolutionary terms, this is the brain system that keeps prey animals alert and hence alive. Statistically, women tend to be higher than men in neuroticism. There are obvious reasons for this: they need to be hair-trigger sensitive to the distress of their babies, and in fact, the world is a more dangerous place for a woman, especially if she is caring for an infant.

However, in my books, Exhibit A for neuroticism is a man. Enmer is 30 years old when an apocalypse hits his society. His father is killed, and Enmer becomes the new head of the family. He feels the burden of keeping them safe very keenly, and when subsequent disasters hit the family, Enmer enters a deep depression with which he will struggle for years.

Enmer is also high in conscientiousness, but we have another character to exemplify that for us.

Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is made up of two sub-traits: industriousness and orderliness. Industrious people feel bad if they are not working on some task. The evolutionary (or design) usefulness of this trait to the community is obvious. Orderly people like things to be in neat, known categories. This plays on the fear system in the brain, where the unknown or chaotic constitutes a threat.

Though it might seem that being very conscientious would be a miserable experience, under normal circumstances conscientious people have lower levels of anxiety than less conscientious people. Peterson’s theory is that this is because conscientious people tend to order their environment well, which reduces levels of anxiety compared to people who live in a disordered environment (even if they think they like it). Conscientiousness is also a good predictor of overall life success.

Hur is a very conscientious character. He is small, fair-haired, and not very prepossessing, and he starts the series as a slave in Enmer’s household. But he has all kinds of skills, including being a good shot with a bow and knowing how to make bows and arrows. He takes advantage of the apocalypse to demand his freedom and soon becomes the tribe’s go-to guy for both hunting and security. Eventually, he becomes tribal cheif.

Agreeableness

Agreeable people like to please other people and keep relationships good. In any given situation, they will not necessarily ask themselves what they want (or even, in some cases, be aware of it), but will just do what other people want them to do. Statistically, women tend to be higher than men in agreeableness. Being very agreeable is a necessity when you are caring for an infant, as the infant’s needs must always take priority over your own. It does not, Peterson points out, prepare you well to function in an out-of-the-home work environment. You tend to get taken advantage of.

Sari, one of the main characters in The Strange Land, is an agreeable wife and mother. She spends years living with an abusive husband, trying to keep the household running and to mother her children as best she can. When a crisis hits, she does not know how to ask for help and does not want to inconvenience others.

Openness (to new experiences)

Open people are adaptable. If there is a major crisis, you want some people who are high in openness around, as they will handle it better than someone who is very high, for example, in orderliness. Openness plus fluid intelligence is a good predictor of a person’s creative output.

Zillah, who is a main character throughout my entire series, is high in openness. She is the one who encourages the family to take in the injured foreigner Nimri when they stumble upon him as they are fleeing the Tower of Babel apocalypse. She adjusts to the new reality and accepts it far more quickly than Enmer, who never really comes to terms with it.

Though Zillah is not a “creative” person in the sense of producing visual art and music, she shows a great deal of creativity in the way she cares for her extended family, responding to crises, delivering babies, and bearing the brunt of caring for Nimri, including learning to speak with him. She becomes the tribe’s medicine woman and builds up a store of medical knowledge, and she is always on the lookout for someone who needs help.

Galaxy Rabbit

Hi all! Sorry, I do not have an essay, book review, or rant for you today, as I usually do on Fridays. The school year is ending, the plants are growing, and my book, The Great Snake, is launching on Monday (which is also Memorial Day … and no, I didn’t do that on purpose).

Tomorrow, my friend Teal Veyre will be hosting a launch party for The Great Snake at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on her discord server, The Writer’s Block. If you wish to join The Writer’s Block (even just for the duration of the party), follow this link: https://discord.gg/Tq6Q2c8b

The “party” will be voice only, and you must bring your own snacks of course. You will have to endure ten minutes of me reading from The Great Snake, but if you can hang in there through that and the trivia game, there will be prizes.

In the meantime, please enjoy this painting by a talented young artist to whom I have given birth. It is called “Galaxy Rabbit,” and there is a whole series of galaxy rabbits planned. The rabbit is large enough to eat the planets that he is floating near.

Reminder: The Great Snake goes on sale Next Week

Pre-order your copy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a summer beach read.

Here is the book in its natural environment.

As you can see, we are going for more of a subtropical vibe here, with succulents and a mini gator’s head from Florida.

Here’s the back cover copy:

As a child, Klee crossed the Land Bridge with her tribe, and she grew to womanhood in ancient North America. Once a teenager, she makes the shattering discovery that she isn’t who she thought she was. The people who raised her are not her real parents, and her birth father, a charismatic, maimed man, wants her to go with him to found a city dedicated to his snake god. After what she has just discovered, how can Klee know whom to trust?

The Great Snake takes up the epic journey that began in The Long Guest, continued through The Strange Land and now wends its way to the evocative and shocking conclusion of the Scattering Trilogy.

My Trilogy Wraps Up on May 30th!

The Great Snake is coming out on May 30!

You can preorder it here.

Or, if you are a dedicated book blogger who wants to read and review it, e-mail me your mailing address through the contact button and I will send you an Advance Review Copy.

Here are the back cover and spine, just for fun:

The Long Guest started out in the sunny Fertile Crescent and carried the tribe across Asia to the Pacific coast.

The Strange Land took them across Beringia (the Land Bridge) and ended with the tribe poised to traverse the rapidly melting corridor between glaciers that led into North America.

The Great Snake takes them into warmer climes again, as they pass through the corridor of ice and eventually explore subtropical regions along the Mississippi River.

Of course, that’s just the geography of the trilogy. It doesn’t tell you anything about what happens among the people.

You can read The Great Snake as a stand-alone if you wish, because it is written for people who may or may not have read the previous two books.

Amazon Unboxing

Yes, I know I am a bad girl for using Amazon.

I had … shall we say a number … of books I wanted to buy. I checked out prices on B&N. I would have been paying a lot more than on Amazon. Like, a lot more. And I’m Dutch-American and kind of cheap, what can I say?

The books are coming in several shipments. This is the first.

Live Not By Lies is one I’ve seen several people recommend. The books of Enoch keep showing up as primary sources in the reading I’ve been doing in secondary sources about giants and elohim and so forth, so I figured it might be just as well to own a copy.