Saturday, April 30, 2011

And The Winner Is…

Drumroll, please.

First, the winner of Amanda Downum’S THE DROWNING CITY is…

Su Wilcox! (jeesh; we keep winning each others’ contests; it’s going to start looking like a plot)

Second, the winner of one $25 gift card is…

Raquel Byrnes! ( actually picked the very first entrant; it pays to be first!)

Join me in congratulating them! Thanks to everyone who participated. Don’t worry. There will always be another time to win!

Winners, I'll get in contact with you from the information on the form. Thanks everyone for entering!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Distraction Friday

I was very disappointed last week when one of my favorite webcomics came to...well, not a close, but I guess you could call it an end . I’d been following since almost the beginning in 2004 after I saw a piece of fan art done by the creator. The link below her name said “The Bunny System” and I went “Hey! I like bunnies!”

Even better, these were snarky, inappropriate and violent rabbits. The two main rabbits once massacred an entire squirrel army (don’t worry; apparently, squirrels can regenerate a la the T-1000). It was exactly up my alley. I can’t believe it’s been almost seven years!

Audrey Soffa is a very talented artist and writer. Occasionally, she posted bits of her art school work (nice) and sometimes, other cartooning work. There was one month where she had a storyline about a young witch named Agatha Crawley. She’s a little girl with a witch like appearance and often the object of torment of the older, glam-witches. It’s cute and funny and unlike the Bunnies, entirely age appropriate.

So, I’m a bit sad it’s gone. If you have the same sense of humor as me (and if you do, I pity you) I’d advise you to go check it out.

EDIT: The contest is now closed. Winner announced tomorrow at 1 p.m. EDT.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What I Learned From TV

Specifically, what television has taught me about story structure and characterization. 

1. Any problem can be solved with no serious ramifications.

2. The male lead and the female lead will always end up doing it (if they’re not already married). More than one of each? Also doing it.
3.a At the end of the episode, everything has to be right back the way it was.
3.b At the end of the episode, if everything isn’t back to normal, assume it is at the beginning of the next episode (also known as The Honeymooner’s clause).

4.a If the villain wins, the hero ends up learning a lesson.

4.b If the hero acts poorly, he always ends up learning a lesson.

5. Act like you have an overall plan worked out and everything will be all right. Lost.

6.a Overweight men have no trouble finding hot, thin wives who put up with their bulls**t.

6.b All women are thin. And have had work done (You want proof? Desperate Housewives. Enough said).

7. “It was all a dream” is an acceptable ending. 

Now, that was fun. Go enter the contest! You have nothing to lose! You might even win!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Language of Confusion: Mortal Thoughts

I have to admit, I really enjoy puns.

Anyway. Words beginning with “mor” tend to have something to do with death. Mortician, mortal, mortify and of course, murder (okay, it’s a u, but that’s pretty close!). And what about mortgage?

If you look at Latin, “mori” means “to die” and that’s pretty much why so many mor- words have a fatalistic quality to them. It goes back even further, to that ancestor of languages Proto-Indo-European, where mer means die. Of course, the word the Germanic and Greek languages use for die comes from a different Proto-Indo-European word (dheu—to become senseless).

But “mer” does seem to be part of quite a few of our words. Look at murder. It, too, comes from mer. Unlike most of the “mor” words, it is Proto-Germanic, not classical Latin, in origin.

Then there are words like mortuary and moribund, both death related words. The former  comes by way of the classical Latin mortuus, the past participle of mori. The later comes from moribundus, Latin for dying (which is exactly what it means). The death part of mor makes a lot of sense, huh?

What about for mortify? And mortgage? Yep. Both of those had death related meanings. Mortify meant to kill when the word first showed up inthe fourteenth century. The word comes from the Old French mortifier and Lower Latin mortificare—to cause death. The “humiliation” sense of the word didn’t come until three centuries later (seems fitting to me!). Mortgage? Well, home owners will be amused to know that it is translated from Old French (mort gaige) as “dead pledge.” You pay until you die. ; )

Thanks goes, as always, to the Online Etymology Dictionary.
Special thanks to Google Translate, which I probably use too much.

PS. I won’t mention the contest today. Wait…damn!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Bit Late, As Usual

I hope you all had a happy Easter/Passover weekend. And a nice Monday. Me, I think I gained ten pounds, all around my stomach. Luckily, I’m young, which means my body hasn’t betrayed me and I can work off the excess weight.

I know. I’m evil. At least for a few more years.

But more importantly, the weather is getting to that point where it’s not so cold that it’s uncomfortable and not so hot that you’re sweltering. It’s beautiful out! So I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you to shut the laptop/turn off the computer and go outside to enjoy the nice weather.

I mean, do all that after entering my 300 follower giveaway. Seriously, enter now. The beauty of nature will wait two minutes while you do.

If this were on Twitter, the hashtag would be “shameless plug.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

Websites for Writers

Chris Kelworth at the Kelworth Files came up with a great idea. So great is it that he dedicated a whole section of his blog to it! 

What’s his idea? Critique groups! Me, I’d love one. I have some great crit partners already, but this is one of those things where you can’t get enough. Well, maybe you can but I haven’t yet.

I’ve already been over there and I suggest you go too. Because the more people there are, the more groups there will be for the people! That makes sense. I think. In some circular way.

Also, the contest is still going on. A free book. A $25 gift card. Sign up. Please. Pretty please. You don’t have to be from the US to get the book!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Is Fast Becoming “Rant Day”

And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I know this blog is supposed to be about writing and language, but my opinions tend to jump out. Besides, I’d like to encourage arguing—as in debate, not fighting. I’ve written about how important effective, rational arguments are for a reason. If you’re going to say something, you should make sure there aren’t more holes in your rationale than in a sieve.

School. All of us have opinions on it, either as students, former students, or parents. There isn’t a lot of arguing about what a school should do for a student (i.e. teach them how to function as adults), so why do there seem to be so many problems with school systems? We have struggles with unions, debates over class sizes, and knock-down drag-out fights about budget. Why?

In a nutshell, it’s because reality encroaches on the idealistic version of school in our minds. We’d like small class sizes, fairly compensated and extremely competent teachers, and enough money for both of these. But the fact of the matter is that schools get a lot funding based on property taxes (at least where I live) and the wealthier communities will have more money to attract more/better educators, not to mention fund a variety of classes.

Property taxes aren’t their only source of funds, but they are enough to make a huge difference. And that is only one part of the harsh reality of education! There’s the turning away from creative classes, the focus on passing state tests, the ill-preparedness most graduates face when they apply for their first credit card.

Any others? Sadly, I don’t think it’s too difficult to come up with them.

I know this was a long post, so I hope you just scrolled to the bottom to get this important message. Contest. Go now.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Awards And A Thank You

First of all, the contest is still going on. Go enter. Second, thank you to Annikka Woods who gave me the following award:

The rules for the award are:
   1.  Thank and link to the person who gave me the award.
   2.  Share seven random facts about myself.
   3.  Pass the award along to 15 other bloggers.
   4.  Tell the bloggers that they’ve won the award.

While I’m happy to pass the award on, I have to say, fifteen is a bit much. I remember someone (sorry, the name escaped me, I’m terrible) saying the awards weren’t as special because you give them out to so many people. So I’m picking one versatile blogger I’ve recently met.

Who have I picked? None other than Suzi McGowen whose blog I discovered during the Query Pitch contest. She does have a versatile blog, about her journey as a writer, wife, mom and person in general. She definitely deserves one of these.

And the seven random facts about myself? Well, if you insist…

1. I enjoy bike riding, but haven’t done so in a while because my bike’s tire went flat.
2. I love video games, especially older ones. I still have my SNES.
3. My shining moment in gym class was the time I was playing softball and caught a pop fly in deep left field. Seriously, it was amazing.
4. I can fit my entire fist in my mouth.
5. I don’t drink. There isn’t a particular reason for this other than that I don’t like the taste of alcohol. It all tastes bitter to me.
6. At some point, I’ve been in nineteen different states.
7. I’m not a fan of bugs, but I don’t mind reptiles or amphibians.

Good enough. Thanks again for the award, Annikka! I’ll add it to my awards page.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Slight Change In Plans

Contest. I'm going to keep bothering you about this until you enter (you know which one of you I mean).

I know it's distraction Friday and I had a post up for a while. But then I realized it was the Final Crusader Challenge. Whoops. Guess I've been busy. Anyway, this time, the challenge is to SHOW what's going on, not tell. Okay, let me "show" you the rules:

My Show Not Tell Challenge: In 300 words or less, write a passage (it can be an excerpt from your WIP, flash fiction, a poem, or any other writing) that shows (rather than tells) the following:

  • you're scared and hungry
  • it's dusk
  • you think someone is following you
  • and just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: shimmer, saccadic, substance, and salt.
Since I want to be a good Crusader (well, as good as I can get), here's my piece. I just wrote it five minutes ago, so it's probably not my best work. But! It was fun.

I want to go home.

It’s… I don’t know. Late. An orangey sun dips low in one corner the sky. In another, a few distant stars shimmer against a sapphire backdrop. But the light’s giving away to shadow. It’s dark enough so I can’t see where I’m going.

I keep my eyes firmly on my feet. I can’t afford to be slowed up by a fall. The vial is still in my hand because I’m too afraid to keep it in my pocket. One little crack and a lot of people are going to be dead.

This was a mistake. I stop, wondering if I should go back despite the trouble I went through. My jaw throbs, I might be bleeding internally, the leg I’ve been hobbling on will never be the same.

I finally look at the place I’ve come to. Inside the houses are happy families, not a care in the world, are eating around dining room tables. I sniff the air… are they eating barbecue? I want to join them so bad… my stomach is demanding I knock on the door, who cares about the blood on my face or the strange substance in the vial? No, it can’t harm you, I’ll say with a smile that will elicit screams.

The woman in there has a splotch of sauce on her face. Her kid is shaking salt over an ear of corn dripping with butter—delicious—and look at that cake! Chocolate cake, if I’m not mistaken… Delicious. Not like the copper overtaking my mouth. Might want to see a doctor about that.

Footsteps. Loud. Uneven. Saccadic.

Not mine.

Time to start moving again.

There’s no way out for me.

I squeeze my hand around the vial.

There might not be for the world, either. 

You like? I like.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I couldn’t resist the 300 reference for my 300 follower giveaway. Could not.

What are the prizes? Oh, nothing big. Just a $25 gift card for one lucky winner and a copy of THE DROWNING CITY by Amanda Downum for another.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a gift card that could be used outside the US. Bummer. Entrants for that part of the contest will have to be from here, but I am willing to ship the book internationally. So, followers and friends, enter!

Rules are simple. First of all, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Not a requirement, however, just a request so I know when a new entry has come in. Second, fill out the form at the bottom of the blog. Bonus points for being a follower and tweeting and/or blogging about it. You may enter once per day.

Please, spread the word! If I manage to get up to 350 followers, you know there will be a bonus book. Come one, come all, followers old and new! Contest ends Friday, April 29th at midnight and the winners will be announced the next day. Go now!

Edit: I should have explained this earlier. To link to a tweet: go to the main Twitter site, select "my tweets" and find the tweet you want to link to. Click on the little time stamp below it and it takes you to the tweet's page. In the address bar is the address of the tweet! Also, if you put my twitter name in the tweet (@jefishere) it will show up on my tweet page and I can just count you that way. If you haven't done this, it's okay. I trust your word : ).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Language of Confusion: Wind and Wound

Two words that can be pronounced in two completely different ways. We have wind—the synonym of wrap—which is pronounced like almost every other four letter word that ends in –ind. Then we have wind, a synonym of breeze or air, that rhymes with the first part of kindle or spindle. Then there’s wound (past tense of wind, rhymes with sound) and wound (an injury, doesn’t rhyme with anything as far as I can tell). What is the reason for these mysterious pronunciations?

Let’s start with the air wind []. It’s from the Old English word wind, which stems from the Proto-Germanic wendas, the descendent of the Proto-Indo-European wento—blowing. It did used to be pronounced the same as the other wind (wynd) but in the eighteenth century, the shorter vowel version became more popular.

Now, let’s look at the “wynd” version, along with its past tense version wound, both of which have the expected pronunciations. Both come from another Old English word, windan—to twist. Its Proto-Germanic version is wendanan and its Proto-Indo-European is wendh, both meaning twist or turn (Interesting side note of the day: wander shares the same Proto-Indo-European origin word[]).

Wound is (all together now) also comes from Old English []. Its origin word is wund, from the Proto-Germanic wundaz and Proto-Indo-European wen.

Why is it we in the English language have so many words that look the same and sound differently? Do we like to make things complicated? No, that’s not the American way. Actually, it all comes down to how we like to say stuff.

Languages are weird.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Should Call This “Still Editing”

I’ve been struck by more ideas for my WIP. One is plot and character related (I think it adds more emotion) and the other is world building related. I like both ideas very much.

Of course, I shouldn’t be working on plot and characters anymore. I should be editing the actual writing! As you may have heard in previous rants, I have problems with too much information in one place and then too little in another. I have to ground the reader in the scenes better and make sure everything flows properly (ugh…what I really need is someone to circle all these problems so I know where they are!).

So with all this to do, why am I making more changes to the plot? Probably because my editing prowess is attacking plot issues and I need to do something I’m good at while I’m doing something I’m not.

Question time. Editing-wise, what are you best at? What are you worst at? What helps you do the latter?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Websites for Writers

Blogger is what I use for this blog. Obviously. For the most part, I love it. It’s easy for someone like me, who despite being of the internet generation, has trouble figuring out how to do anything computer-related. I know. I’m a travesty.

So I’m going to highlight one of the things it’s taken me half a year to figure out just in case there’s anyone out there going through the same ordeals.

First of all, comments. I can be terrible at replying to comments left on my blog, but not because I don’t care. It’s because there’s no “reply” button on Blogger (probably my only real beef with them). I found it very confusing that so many other bloggers seemed able to email me back…and then it hit me. Email notifications—duh.

Go to Settings, then Comments and scroll down to the bottom where it says Comment Notification Email. I put my email address in there and whenever one of you leaves me a comment, it gets sent to me. Replying is now a cinch because all I have to do is hit the reply button on my email! I wonder if that was the logic in Blogger not including a reply button in their service. After a few weeks of using this, I definitely like it. Email makes it a lot easier to reply to people’s comments and I know they’ll actually read it. Well, at least skim through it.

Next, I want to mention the auto-update feature, which I’ve been enjoying recently. In fact, it updated this very post! I know. Zen. Anyway, it’s easy to use. You put the post in like you normally do but instead of hitting that post button, you go just above it to “Post options.” On the right hand side you switch it from “automatic” to “scheduled at” and put in the date and time you want it to post. And there you go!

It’s always fun when I figure out how to do something, even when it’s something most people already know. When it comes to computers, that happens to me a lot.