Thursday, March 31, 2011

Same As The Old Boss

Yeah, it wasn’t a major overhaul. I was planning to upload a better picture of me but I don’t have a webcam on this laptop (it’s ancient…almost three years old) and my stupid crummy camera won’t work with said laptop. Most annoying. So you’re stuck with what I found on my hard drive until I can get something that f’ing WORKS.

But there are some new features. In addition to the “About Me” section above, I’ve added an “Awards” section, where I thank and give credit to all the good people who have thought me worthy of recognition. For some reason, there seems to be quite a few.

Finally, there’s also a “Specials” page, where I’ll list all the contests, blogfests, giveaways and other news going on with my writing pals. We writers are a generous sort, giving away books, gift cards and critiques, so I thought it might be nice to have a place where it’s all together. I’m sure I haven’t listed everything that’s going on in the writing blogosphere, but leave me a comment—at any time—and I’ll put you and your contest up there. Email or Twitter is also fine.

Whew! Glad that's finally done. 

Oh, who am I trying to kid? This barely took two hours.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Language of Confusion: -spiration

We’ve all heard the saying that genius is “ninety nine percent perspiration, one percent inspiration.” Hokey saying aside, it’s interesting to note that these two very different words share the same root. As does aspire, conspire, transpire, respire and suspire (yes, that’s a word; it’s similar to respire). There’s even something called interpsiration, which means “spiritual inspiration at intervals.” A million bonus points* for anyone who manages to work that into his/her novel.

It’s interesting that these words can mean breathing, sweating, and receiving ideas. It’s one of those strange things that could only be possible in language. What is this –spire? No, it’s not referring to a tall tower. It’s referring to spirit. In classical Latin, spiritus means soul, but it’s related to spirare (now that’s a lot closer to –spire) which means to breathe and is the etymological ancestor of spirit.

The first spiration word to show up was inspiration, which appeared in the early fourteenth century. It comes from an Old French word (also inspiration) taken from the classical Latin inspiritus, the past version of inspirare. The in- prefix turned “to breathe” into “breath into,” as in, an idea is breathed into a person. Inspire showed up shortly afterward in the mid fourteenth century, most likely to make a verb for the noun.

The next one to show up was respire in the late fourteenth century. In classical Latin, it is respirare, the re- prefix meaning again—to breathe again. Although “again” usually signifies one repeat, in this word it means continual, making respire a synonym for breathe. Respiration came a little later in the early fifteenth century, just a noun version of the verb. Interesting that you don't hear "respire" much anymore.

Also born in the late fourteenth century was conspire. It’s from the Old French conspirer, from the classical Latin conspirare. Its literal definition (con- meaning together) is “to breathe together.” I’m not sure how it became a word for scheming, but that meaning goes all the way back to the classical Latin version. I guess in a conspiracy, people are talking and breathing together? Maybe?

Transpire has the most interesting story. It first showed up in the 1550’s as transpiration, another word we don’t hear today. About forty years later, transpire showed up, but it meant secrete a vapor or liquid. The trans- prefix means through, making the word “to breathe through.” Then in the mid eighteenth century, people began to use it in a figurative sense. Instead of “breathe through,” it was “leak through,” as one might leak information. From that, people started using it as “to take place” and although completely inaccurate to the original meaning of the word, it stuck.

The last one to show up was perspire in the seventeenth century. The prefix per- also means through, so we have another “to breathe through,” except people used this one to indicate breathing through their pores--perspration. Physiologically, it’s not accurate, but it referred to what exuded from the skin. And that’s why perspiration means sweat.


And for suspire and interspire. I never heard of those before!

*Bonus points are not redeemable and subject to change without warning.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Each person has a line for what is appropriate and what isn't. And it's pretty safe to say that each person's line is a little different.What offends one person won't offend another, although they may find it tasteless. Sometimes, it's so far back in the zone of poor humor that no one finds it funny--the jerks who made jokes about the tsunami or the unrest in the Middle East have been pretty well ostracized, rightly so in my opinion.

The things that are just plain wrong are easy to see, despite the stupid some people spout. However, the things that change from person to person are really tough to determine. If I heard a joke that was incredibly sexist, I would be offended, although I might not react (depends on if the person is normally a jerk or not; if they are, then hell yeah I'd say that's offensive). If someone made a joke about kids being bullied in school, I'd most definitely react. It's one of my buttons. Even so, I wouldn't be a jerk about it because the line I have drawn around my sensitivities isn't visible to anyone else.

The question becomes, how do you react when someone tells you you've said something offensive? Me, I apologize and be more thoughtful around the person in the future. Honestly, I wouldn't stop making jokes about a subject in private with my friends. If the whole world did try not to offend anybody, then we'd end up in Harrison Bergeron land with a sterile, bland world where everyone is afraid to speak lest they hurt someone's feelings, even if that person is no where to be seen.

It's okay to be offended by things. It's okay not to tell jokes you know will hurt someone's feelings. It's okay to tell the jokes as long as you're not trying to be a jerk and hurt someone's feelings. Finally, it's not okay to expect others to not tell jokes that offend you ever. If it really is offensive, other people will (I hope) tell the person to shut up and maybe they'll start to get it.

Because we really can't force understanding on someone. Each person learns that for him/herself. And I believe that people who are actually sensitive is better than those following the rules so they don't get in trouble.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Oh, Right

Sitting down at my computer today, I remembered I was planning on cleaning up my blog a little. I have gotten zero done on that. Whoops! But it's the perfect project when taking a break from my main WIP.

Also, I'd like to remind everyone I'm still planning on doing a giveaway soon. I'm hoping next week, but lately, everything I plan has been derailed by something. March has been "one of those" months, and I can only keep my fingers crossed that April will be different. I still have the little votey to the left for you to pick what genre of novel I'll give away. So far, fantasy has given a pretty strong showing so if you want something different, you better hurry up and click.

Have you ever wondered what I do when I run out of things to blog about? Answer: this.

Have a great week, all!

PS: Ha! Check out the signs you need to take a break from the internet: Social Media Detox Infographic.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Taking A Break

Not from blogging, of course. I don't think anything could keep me from having people validate my every thought. I mean, entertaining.

I've just reached my editing limit in my WIP. As many people have suggested, it's probably time for a break anyway. I've been working on it for a while. Mostly that darn first chapter. I like how it's turned out, but...well, I thought it was good before.

So! Time to do something else. I still haven't edited the project I did for NaNoWriMo, so I think I'll try doing that. I definitely think it would work better as a short story (okay, a long story) and I'm going to try cutting it back. As for what I'll do with it next...I have no idea. There certainly isn't a market for novellas/short stories. But it will give my brain a chance to do something different for a while.

What about you guys? How's your writing and editing going? Any WIP's losing the IP and just becoming W?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Websites for Writers

This week, I suggest you visit The best part about the con? It’s online, so you don’t have to leave your house. However, you still should go out occasionally because the sun will put some color on your pasty skin.

Besides that, the site has tons of resources, including monthly live events for us writers to participate in and good books we can read. Their forums are great. Only participating members can post, but anyone can view—very kind of them.

So that's a quick one! I'm off to edit!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Distraction Friday

Today for Distraction Friday, I’m sharing with you one of my favorite webcomics: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weiner. The name is ambiguous for a reason. There is no plot, characters or story between strips. Every single one stands alone, which, on one hand, means that anything can (and does) happen, but on the other, means each one must connect with the audience without relying on history to build trust. One of the attractive points in writing a sequel is that bond you’ve already created with the audience. This comic doesn’t do that at all.

It still manages to be pretty damn awesome, too. 

There are more than two thousand comics, so I’m just going to focus on what I think is the best one for us writing types. It's one of those things that's all too true...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Perhaps I Gave Up Too Soon—The Second Crusader Challenge

Liz was right. I gave up too soon. Why? Various stressors coupled with my weakness in creating Flash Fiction. So here is my entry for Rach Harrie's Second Crusader Challenge, where we have to start a flash fiction story of less than a hundred words with "the goldfish bowl teetered." I took up the bonus challenge of writing it in my genre, dystopian YA. Even further, it takes place in the same world as my WIP (although a century earlier), where the heat is in the hundred and twenty degree range and water is scarce. So without further ado...

Fish Sticks

The goldfish bowl teetered on the edge of the table, lost its battle with gravity.


I bolted upright. Next to me, Graham slept undisturbed. If a mouse farted, my brother jumped awake, knife ready. The sound was part of the dream.

Just pretend they’re fish sticks.

That’s what he said after knocking the bowl off the table. I cried. Mom gave them to us, “to save the species.” Graham slapped me, told me to stop wasting water. Then he handed me a mangled goldfish. 

Buddy. Its name was Buddy.

Three days since my last meal. I didn’t hesitate long.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Language of Confusion: Isn’t It Just Perfect?

Perfect is one of those words that is pronounced differently based on what form is used. When it’s an adjective, you say, “Gee, that first chapter is per-fect.” When it’s a verb, you go: “You need to per-fect that first chapter.” The former is also often used as an intensifier, a word that emphasizes the degree of another word. For example, “That first chapter is perfect crap.”

Can you tell what I’ve been working on lately?

Anyway, perfect the adjective was the first to be “born,” so to speak. It’s pretty old, too, having first appeared in the early 13th century from the Old French word parfit (which, by the way, is where the word parfait comes from). That word is from the classical Latin perfectus, the past participle of perficere, to complete, finish. Makes sense. Something is usually considered complete when it is perfect.

Divide perficere up and you get the prefix per-. As I’ve mentioned, it is from the Latin preposition per and means “by means of, during, as in.” In this case, per- means “completely.” The ficere part of the word is from facere, to perform or to do. Combine them together and you get “to do completely,” which as I said above, is considered perfect.

The verb perfect came later, in the fourteenth century. I haven’t found a reason for the difference in pronunciation, but I theorize that the change was to avoid confusion. And like any evolution, language kept the different pronunciations that people liked using.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oi, It's Still Tough

Ha ha! Just wanted to say thanks to all the advice from yesterday. The consensus seems to be to let it rest for a while, but I just hate putting it down until I'm satisfied with it, especially when my brain is in editing mode. I think I'll move onto another part and see what I can do there.

I'd also like to say, the advice from my critique partners has been just great. They've given me a lot to work on, another reason I'm not ready to take a break yet.

Overall, editing is a tricky business. Even when you know what you're looking for, you can miss it. You can be your toughest critic and still think a sentence makes sense when it doesn't. Or that sometimes, you throw things out there that have no relation to the story (guilty!).

If I had to give some advice (besides "Get a second opinion...and a third") it would be to write down all your bad writing habits and take a look at them before editing each chapter. You have to keep those things fresh in your mind when you go through your MS. And remember you aren't reading for pleasure! That's a hard one for me, and I think it's why I miss things. I get lost in the story--bad. I think brief breaks every twenty minutes helps reset your brain.

My two cents. Any further advice?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oi, It's Tough

Whew. What a stressful weekend. And I think this week is going to be a tough one, too! So this post is going to be short before I start whining and complaining, which is no fun for anyone.

I'm still in the midst of editing, and I feel a little lost in it. There's so much to be done, but I'm not really sure what. I have a general idea, but when I start reading it, it all seems okay to me--I'm too in love with my own writing, that's for sure. It's a bit troublesome when there are serious issues with your writing but you can't see them.

Have you ever felt that way? What do you do when you're stuck?

Sunday, March 20, 2011


If you start lifting weights and you jump from five pounds to twenty-five, you're bound to get hurt. The same goes for writing projects! You may not tear a muscle off your arm, but you can still get overloaded. Mental-breaks can be just as bad. Sometimes, you just can't keep piling the writing on.

Same goes for me. The Second Crusader Challenge is up at Rach Harrie's blog, but I don't think I can do this one. Part of it is that I'm no good at flash fiction. I may be a pantser, but I need to think about the idea for a while before I start typing it. The other part is that I'm deep in the throes of editing, and I don't want to pull up focus from that. I really like how my MS is shaping up but apparently, I've a long way to go (that darn first chapter is killing me!).

Poo. I'm really bummed I can't join in the challenge, especially because the last one was a lot of fun. But, as I keep reminding myself, the MS has to come first. Right? Right. Otherwise, you might end up with a pulled muscle in your brain.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Contests for Writers

A slight twist on my usual websites for writers posts. This is about the contests going on as you read this. There are quite a few! And you don’t have to be a writer for them. So I guess this is more “Contests for everyone.”

First of all, there’s Constance over at The Precocious Scribe hosting a 200 follower giveaway. The prize is a $10 Amazon voucher.

Then there’s CA Marshall, a very nice freelance editor who is giving away a free edit on her new website. As someone who won one, I can vouch for its helpfulness. Just fill out the form!

And the Empress of all Cheekyness, Su is holding a giveaway of her own! Her prizes are some good books. So…yes. Totally.

Theresa is also doing a giveaway with some truly mad-awesome prizes. These include a copy of Elana Johnson’s POSSESSION—signed—and a $25 Amazon gift card! Wow!

Carolina Valdez Miller just signed with an agent! To celebrate, she’s giving away (brace yourselves): A first page critique from her agent, a Kindle, a signed copy of ESCAPING INTO THE OPEN; THE ART OF WRITING TRUE by Elizabeth Berg, and a signed copy of SHADE by Jeri Smith-Ready, a signed copy of PASSING STRANGE by Daniel Waters. She sure knows how to share the good fortune. But wait, there’s more. Others are joining in the giveaway with even more prizes! Follow their blogs and fill out the form! Do it!

The people over at YAtopia are holding a YA/MG Agent Pitch contest, where you enter a two sentence pitch and opening sentence of your novel. Act fast because they're closing up at 150 and they're already at 90.

So many prizes…feeling a bit overloaded…Did I miss anyone? I hope not.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Distraction Friday

Addendum: The greats over at YAtopia are holding an Agent Pitch Contest. In two sentences, hook them with your Young Adult MS. Well? What are you waiting for?

I mentioned on Twitter how my mom has a friend who wants to write a book about her “struggles” in a lawsuit. This friend is convinced it would be a best seller. God help me if she ever finds out I’m a writer. She’ll want my help getting it published, or worse, to write it for her.

Yeah…no. Not a chance in hell. I don’t want to get sued. In fact, I’m afraid of revealing too much detail because I might get sued. Litigious isn’t a strong enough word for this person.

So in that vein of obliviousness, here’s your distraction Friday, first tweeted to me by Blank Slate Press.

Get Published!: So You Want to Be a Writer Cartoon:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saint Paddy’s Day

I love this episode of the Simpson’s. 

This episode is, sadly, not that far from the truth. Local parades had extra police officers on duty because of that fact. I know it’s an Irish parade, but they have other things! Like…potatoes. And really bad food. Like, epically bad. My grandfather is Irish and my mom speaks in horror of the stuff he ate, including corned beef boiled cabbage, meat and potatoes ad nauseum…Needless to say, I’ve never seen her produce one of these recipes. Nor do I wish to. 

But you don’t see parades where people whip tasteless food at each other. And we aren't even taking into account the religious component of the holiday.

Okay. Rant is done. Just please-please-please don’t celebrate the day by drinking a beer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Language of Confusion: When Language Divides By Zero

Today, I’d like to talk about a word that has bothered me ever since I was a child. That word is colonel, which is inexplicably pronounced “kurnel.”

There are parts of the English language that I’ve found an interesting development—silent letters, dual pronunciations (soft c versus hard c), the fact that pronounced has an o but pronunciation doesn’t, that –tion is pronounced “shun.” But none of those compare to the fact that “olo” sounds like “ur.” The whole thing reminds me the time my friend Roman once insisted his name was pronounced ‘Frank.’

So why does this word fly in the face of common sense? Let’s find out.

First of all, word first showed up in English in the 1540s as coronell, from the Middle French coronel. This word is from Italian (ooh! Something different!), where the word is colonnella—column. Before you get too confused, colonnella is from compagna colonella, little column company. The commander of a column (or company) of soldiers.

When it was adapted to the French, the syllables underwent a modification called “dissimilation,” where a sound (like colo-) becomes less like a neighboring sound (-nella). Instead of colonella there was coronel, and from there it’s easy to see how cor-nel became cur-nel.

The question is: why did the spelling not evolve? It just didn’t. I think colonel is a great example of the somewhat arbitrary nature of spelling. We kept the dissimilated French pronunciation, but went further back to the Italian for the spelling. Because we wanted to.

Maybe it’s not that strange. In four hundred years, what do you think our descendants will think of LOL speak?

Google Translate so I could hear how the Italians say “colonello.” Like it’s spelled, by the way.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Arguing Effectively Requires Passion, Not Bias

What do I mean? you ask. What brought this on?

Letters to the editor. Not entirely—I’ve read blog posts that have irked me and seen stuff on television. They try so hard to convince me of something and fail completely because of faulty sources, loaded wording, and obvious bias. Unfortunately, appealing to someone’s emotions (especially fear) can overwhelm their judgment enough to convince them, which is why He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-At-Least-Not-On-This-Blog has legions of followers. 

But it’s not effective arguing.

Effective arguing—where you actually prove a point—requires sources (real sources), restraint and—what’s it called?—objectivity. If someone acts disdainful of the medical community and then lists a hundred papers confirming vaccines cause autism, I’m going to think they chose an answer they liked and found the sources to back it up. Even more so if they disparage anything that contradicts what they claim. In all fairness, I’d like to say that there are plenty of people saying vaccines don’t cause autism who do the same thing. Guess what? If they can’t do it, neither can you. Use facts to back up your claim, not dismissing others. If you’re really right, it shouldn’t be that hard.

Now for restraint. This is just because I’ve found people are less likely to listen to you if you start yelling at how they are ruining the country/killing millions through ignorance/I don’t know what. I know. It’s crazy. People don’t like being insulted.

My culminating thought is this: be careful what you take as truth and don’t believe anything because you like the way it sounds. And if you want to argue effectively (i.e. so your argument isn’t full of more holes than a sieve), do it calmly, listen to others, and cite you’re sources.