Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Websites for Writers

I found another awesome site. Grammar is something every writer struggles with. For example, I stick words in there that just aren’t needed. I’m also one of the many who is always writing in the passive sense when I shouldn’t be. We’ve all got something!

In order to be better self-grammar editors, check out Grammar Girl. Quick and dirty tips for better writing, indeed! I loved this post on when to use apart/ahead versus a part/a head. There’s also affect versus effect, which I still screw up all the time (getting better, though). 

My absolute favorite post would have to be the one on ending a sentence with a preposition. That has bugged me for years!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Back. Well, Mostly.

See? I’m still here. Now that things have settled a bit, I’m going to be making new posts instead of cobbling together remnants of discarded posts and calling it good. Unfortunately, I won’t be posting at my usual seven-a-week pace. The future is a bit uncertain right now and there’s nothing that bothers me more than not knowing what’s going to happen. That’s why I’m a writer. I can make anything just how I like it.

So instead of returning to once a day and maybe having to jump out again for another undetermined amount of time, I’m going to post three days a week, Tuesday, Friday and (obviously) Sunday. If I can wing it, I’ll add a fourth post in there somewhere, too.

I’ll try to make Tuesday’s interesting with websites or distractions. Fridays will be etymology day because I’m obsessed with words. Sunday will be my rant day (you know what really grinds my gears?). I don’t know how long this is going to last, but I think it will be for a few months at least.

I hope this doesn’t disappoint anyone as much as it disappoints me. Talk to you later!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Language of Confusion: Fer Crying Out Loud

I chose ‘fer’ as this week’s word because it’s one of the ones that’s meaningless without its prefix. You can prefer something, defer, refer, transfer or infer it. Or offer, confer, differ, suffer…But you can’t fer it.

It doesn’t take much to amuse me.

-Fer comes from the classical Latin ferre, which means to carry. The earliest –fer word to show up was suffer in the early thirteenth century. The su- comes from the prefix sub-, Latin for under or beneath. Combined with ferre, sufferre meant to undergo or endure (undertake a burden) rather than the to be in pain definition we have today.

The next -fer words showed up more than a century later. Prefer originally meant to promote or advance, and that morphed into favor. It’s classical Latin equivalent is praeferre, “place or set before.” It is the combination of prae (pre-), before and carry, so it’s “to carry before.” When you prefer something, you carry it before the others.

In Latin, refer means “to carry back.” Re- “again, back to” and ferre, carry. When you refer to something, you carry back your attention to it. Differ comes from dis- (apart) and ferre, making it “carry or set apart.”  A difference is what sets things apart! This is also where defer comes from. The two words split apart in the sixteenth century, when the latter took on a temporal sense (as in delay). Defer as in “to yield” is, again, from the same de + ferre. It was the Middle French language that started using it as such and we in English used it in the “pass on or yield to another” sense.

A little later, we have transfer showing up—trans-, as in beyond, made “to carry beyond,” which is a good definition for moving something. Infer is another fairly simple origin: in- means in or inside, so it is “to carry inward.” A good, but figurative, way of saying “thought something up.”

If you remember what the con- prefix means, you’ll know that confer means “to carry together,” which makes sense when you think conferring means consulting together (or, dare I say, conferencing). Finally, offer comes from the Latin offere, to present or bring before. The o in offer comes from ob-, which means toward or against. Ob- + -fer means to carry towards and when you get an offer (wink, wink), you’re carried towards an agreement. 

Are you as fascinated with this as I am? No? No one read to the end? Oh, well… 

Thanks goes to the Online Etymology Dictionary, which has more information on words than I could learn in a lifetime.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I'm sorry to say I have to go on a bit of a hiatus right now. It's just one of those times at home and I really need to focus my energy there. I am still going to post, but it's going to be scaled back to Mondays and Fridays.

I know. I can't believe it either. I hope it won't be permanent (I do love my bloggy friends) but I'm afraid I'm not sure what's going to happen. I'll try to keep visiting you guys but please forgive me if I seem to disappear.

Love and hugs. I hope things go great for all of you. Talk to you later.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Holy Crapture II: Post-Rapture

So you have been left behind after the Rapture. But thanks to yesterday’s preparations, you’re safe and snug in a shelter, hiding from the worst of the carnage! Have you figured out what to do next?

Fear not. Here is a handy-dandy guide to various post-apocalyptic scenarios.

It’s entirely possible that the world will end in “fire.” This might mean a nuclear war, or it might mean the burning of all the world’s cities, or it might mean something we haven’t considered. Regardless of the specifics, destruction of the world by fire is the least survivable of scenarios. It doesn’t take strength or fortitude to survive explosions. If you’re hit, that’s it. If not, you might not be able to leave the shelter without killing yourself. It was for this reason I recommended a lifetime supply of food and water. Unfortunately, this isn’t feasible unless you’re alone and really don’t mind beans and water three meals a day for the next forty to seventy years. Even then, it requires a lot of space and the ability to entertain yourself. If you have a fixed food supply, you can either do the Survivor Type method or take the big exit. But if you have companions…well, if you aren’t picturing them as pork chops, they’re picturing you.

Ice—namely a new ice age—is a possible apocalypse, despite the inaccuracies of certain movies. Most likely, the approach of a new ice age would be very slow, as in well after our great (x100) grandchildrens’ lifetimes. In this case (and if there were no further apocalyptic problems), we would be able to resume our normal lives, sans the Raptured. If, somehow, it turns out that Roland Emmerich was right, than grouping survivors together is definitely the best solution. We will have to pool our resources together and learn how to keep warm in constant winter. Keep your head covered at all times, as you lose eighty percent of your body heat through your head. Layering clothing is recommended. If you’re performing strenuous activity, you want to be able to shed layers rather than disrobe completely, which invites frostbite. Remember to wear a waterproof outer layer, as melted snow on our bodies will be our worst enemy.

Flood is a problem for shelter dwellers, as there’s no way to avoid water. Any boat will do in this scenario as long as it floats. If you own one, move your supplies there as soon as the rain reaches ankle deep. If you don’t, it might take a lot of bargaining to join one. Make sure to keep the terms of your passage up front and unalterable. Captains may require unwavering fealty or sexual favors. If you haven’t agreed to this and the captain threatens to throw you overboard, make sure you have the backing of the rest of the crew before instigating mutiny. Finally, remember that the rainwater will require purification/desalinization if you scoop it up from our new water world. If desperate, use a tarp to collect it before it hits the ocean.

The last scenario we’ll be covering is demonic rule/rise of the dead. There may be those out there who protest grouping these two together, but the general survival method will be the same for both. First of all: weapons. If you’ve been underground a long time, it isn’t recommended you keep weapons with you (remember THE SHINING example from yesterday). But keeping them close by, maybe buried in a lock box a mile down the road, is a good idea. Be sure that the weapons are practical for you to use. If you’ve never fired a gun before, you don’t want your first time to be while running from the legions of hell. Guns usually recoil upon firing, and that will throw you off balance if you don’t know how to handle it. Next, be aware that the undead might not be the slow, lumbering zombies of Dawn of the Dead and the demons might be able to bend the rules of reality. Firing a weapon or the traditional zombie decapitation may not even work. Be sure to be prepared for the event that they do not. It’s probably best to avoid confronting the fiends all together. Keep to the shadows. If it’s demonic rule, avoid long, empty stretches. Always avoid closed spaces or locations with poor vantage points. If you can’t make it to the zombie-proof tower in Japan, try to meet up with other survivors. Small groups that work well together are preferable as large communities will be more likely to attract attackers.

Well, that’s all for post-apocalyptic survival methods as I have to go fight off the hellspawn attacking my lifetime supply of beans. Remember: if you think someone is going to kill you…you’re probably right.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Holy Crapture

As I’m sure you’ve all heard, the Rapture is occurring today. At five forty five p.m. I’m not sure if that’s Eastern, Greenwich Mean Time or what. But I’m sure you’re all as concerned as I am.

First, will you be left behind? This handy chart will surely answer that question. Don’t feel bad if you weren’t Raptured. It just means you aren’t as good as Macho Man Randy Savage.

If you are one of the ones stuck behind with me, there are a few things you can do to prepare.

First of all, we don’t know what kind of apocalypse it will be: flood, fire, nuclear war, plague, zombie or even demonic invasion. I suggest finding a bomb shelter or some other underground hideaway. If you don’t already have one built in your backyard, that is. A close friend or neighbor might allow you to join them, but it’s dangerous to approach the shelter of a stranger, who could mistake you for the walking dead/demon, or just not want to share their food.

Second, make sure you have enough food and water for at least three weeks. Head down to Costco and nab up those ten gallon drums of baked beans. Honestly, does one need anything else for post-Apocalyptic bomb shelters? But don’t forget: clean water is very important. You don’t know whether water sources will be polluted (nuclear war will be very detrimental to freshwater). So start stocking up. Remember that three weeks of supplies is only the bare minimum. You don’t know it will ever be safe to emerge.

And as it’s dangerous to go up, it will be dangerous to allow people in. They could be infected with plague or zombie, and then your preparations will have been for nothing. That’s why it’s important to get there early and lock up tight. No matter how much they beg or plead, don’t open that door. As anyone who has watched any horror movie ever will know, this will lead to your death. Don’t worry so much about disease within your shelter. Without contact with the outside world, there is little chance that will happen.

Also, be sure to keep plenty of batteries/a generator on hand. Now might be a good time to find a hand powered generator. Otherwise, make a trip to the gas station. It’s not like you’ll need that money for anything else. As for the batteries, obviously rechargeables are useless. Go for nickel batteries, which have the longest lifespans. But keep use of batteries to a minimum. I’d suggest for emergency flashlight use only.

Wanting internet access is not unreasonable, although it will require extra preparation. You’ll want to make sure your bomb shelter is equipped with high speed DSL, although a phone line will do in a pinch. Be sure to have extra batteries for your laptop! You don’t know how long your generator will hold out, so keep them all charged. It’s not recommended to use a desktop computer, which uses much more energy than a laptop.

Finally, when down in the bomb shelter, it’s easy to let cabin fever set in. It is for this reason that it is recommended you not obtain any weapons, or keep them in a secure location outside the shelter, lest you start thinking your sheltermates are out to get you because they accidentally stepped on your foot. Unless you want things to degenerate to SHINING level slaughter, keep yourself occupied. Buy jumbo books of Crosswords. Finally read WAR AND PEACE. Learn a foreign language. Knit an afghan. Most of all, remember that they are just as annoyed with you as you are with them, and it’s nothing to take offense over.

Well, I hope this has helped you prepare for the rapture. Let’s hang out sometime. Heck, we could do it more than once. We have all eternity.

Join us tomorrow where we’ll discuss survival in our new post-apocalyptic hell on Earth!

*N.B. This post was written with tongue firmly in cheek and it’s hoped no one takes offense. I’ve no intention of mocking religion, any religion. I just think it’s silly to expect that the world is ending, and even if it was, that humans would be aware of it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Distraction Friday

Check out this list of “disturbing” books. I’ve not read all of these, but I’ve heard of all of them. Disturbing? Well, perhaps for some people. I thought LORD OF THE FLIES was vicious, but it didn’t bother me. A SEPARATE PEACE wasn’t disturbing at all (just really, really boring).

Actually, some of the books on this list I read on my own, not as part of a school assignment. I read CATCHER IN THE RYE and ANIMAL FARM because I heard things about them and wanted to see if they were true. As South Park illustrated, I’m not sure why CATCHER IN THE RYE was banned. Yes, there was a scene with a prostitute but…it was barely anything in the whole of the story. It kind of brings me back to the subject of “why is sex a no-no when violence is okay?” I mean, LORD OF THE FLIES was brutal! Kids attack and murder each other! And it was required reading for ninth grade! 

Let’s see Holden Caulfield survive on that island for a day.

If you haven't guessed, I didn't enjoy CITR so much. It was okay, just not for me. ANIMAL FARM was a lot more fun and I didn't find it "disturbing" in the least.

But I suppose all that is beside the point. What are your thoughts? Are these books disturbing? Are there any that should be on this list?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Award? Me?

The other day, Angela gave me an award. The Versatile Blogger, too. I had something else planned for today, but I figured I better get this up before she realizes her mistake ; ).

The rules for this award are…
1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself on your blog.
3. Pass the award along to five buddies whose blogs epitomize said theme.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

First, the facts. I suppose they have to be seven new ones, don’t they?

1. I’m not very good at other languages. I took four years of Spanish in high school, but I can’t speak a word.
2. My favorite genre to write is dystopian, with urban fantasy as runner up. But my favorite genre to read is horror.
3. I’m exactly five feet tall. Yes, I’m tiny.
4. I’m a true American mutt. From my dad’s side I’m one quarter German and one quarter a mix of English, Welsh and Scottish. From my mom’s house, I’m one quarter Irish and one quarter French Canadian. Also, 1/32 of that French Canadian is Native American.
5. I’ve worn glasses ever since I was fourteen. My eyes aren’t too bad, certainly not worth getting contacts over.
6. I love to listen to metal, rock and any type of depressing music.
7. I love to cross-stitch. I have a drawer full of patterns I’ve made. Almost all of them have kitties on them.

I know the rules say to pass it on to 5 people, but I’m sticking with the “one is more meaningful” thing. So the person I’m passing it along to is…

Theresa Milstein! Because she always has something interesting to say.

Thanks again, Angela!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Language of Confusion: Take a Bow

Words that are spelled the same and pronounced differently are my favorite. Bow…if it rhymes with know, then it’s what goes on top of a present, or what you shoot arrows with. If it rhymes with now, it’s what you do after completing your performance of Schubert’s Symphony Number 8 in B minor. Or, it’s the front of a ship! So, what’s the origin of these homographs?

The front part of a ship was first called “bow” in the mid fourteenth century and is related to the Old Norse  bogr or the Middle Dutch boech. It’s related to the homophone bough, which descends from the Old English  bog, the Proto Germanic bogaz (both meaning shoulder) and Proto Indo European bhagus (forearm). So the nautical bow is related to human anatomy? Yes. Bow is the “shoulders of the ship”.

Bow—as in bowing before the queen—is from Old English buganto bend. It goes back to the Proto Germanic bugon and the Proto Indo European bheugh.

The word for bow (the weapon) is boga in Old English, but its Proto Germanic ancestor is the same as the bow above—bugon! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find out whether bugon had two meanings or if the word for this bow was simply derived from it. But I think the latter is most likely. Bugon meant bent and a bow is bent. As for the similarly pronounced bow (a knot), I haven’t been able to find anything on it, either, except that it showed up in the 1540s.

A Grammar of Proto-Germanic, Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum, ed. The Linguistics Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.
OmniGlot’s article on Old Norse

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Because of the whole Blogger snafu, this post got screwed up. You may have seen it on something like Google Reader, but no one could comment on it or visit the site. Boo! So here it is again. And I hope this time, nothing goes wrong.


One thing you must remember before querying: you will be rejected. Even if you have a great novel, you will be rejected, by an agent, an editor, a publisher, who feels your work is good, but they aren’t the best to represent it. As for the rest of us, we will have to deal with our writing not being “there” yet.

It’s hard. You may scream, pout, cry, curse the name of the fools who had the audacity to reject you. All that’s okay (as long as you don’t do it online!). Just don’t give up. Take a minute to feel bad, then start planning who to send it to next. Or think about what you can do to your query/synopsis/novel that might make it pop off the page. Or screen.

Forget hard. It’s painful! Take it from someone who made the mistake of querying with a novel so far from “there” that they live in different solar systems. But rejection isn’t an insult. It’s a sign that you have more work to do, either finding a more appropriate publisher, vamping up your MC or writing a query that brings people to their knees.

It is a lot of work. There’s no way around that. I haven’t even reached the next post in my journey yet. But when I do, when I have the fruits of years of hard work…

: D

Some emotions can only be expressed by emoticon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Websites For Writers

I was looking for a good website to profile and Michael Fox was kind enough to suggest Writer’s BBS. It’s a writer’s forums site, filled with people to talk with about books and writing.

The website may look a little sparse, but there’s a lot there. They have a place for general talk, critique posts, as well as places for Poetry and Non-fiction. They also have a Gold Forums feature if you want to restrict access to your posts.

It’s a good place to look for like-minded people. Go check it out. 

And if you have any suggestions for other great sites for writers, be sure to let me know. What would happen if I ran out of sites to profile?
Anarchy. That's what.