Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections 2011

2011: I am so glad to see you go that there are no words. Well, here’s an attempt: gratilief. The fun I had online was only exceeded by the misery offline. If 2011 tries to come back, it and I are going to have to throw down.

Way back at the beginning of the year, I made up a list of resolutions. Let’s see how I did.

1. Make a more regular blog schedule.
People like focused blogs. Unfortunately, I like randomness, at least when it comes to topics. It keeps things interesting. Sigh. But I suppose a little more structure can’t hurt.
Done and done.

2. Write two more books.
I think this will probably be the easiest of my resolutions. I have tons of ideas I want to try out. I definitely know what one will be, but the second is a little more up in the air.
One is done but the other, my NaNo project, is still unfinished. But considering, I did all right.

3. Get one of the above books to the “reader ready” point.
Now this is the hard part. Partly because it means editing. After I finish the two books, I’ll focus on one and really edit the crap out of it. Writes, rewrites, re-rewrites, and the all-important beta reading. I fear I’ll have some trouble with keeping this one!
This is a “kind of”. One book has been sent out to betas, but I haven’t gotten as far as I wanted in editing it. What can I say. It’s been chaotic.

4. Follow more blogs.
Another easy one! Don’t worry. I won’t neglect my friends.
Hells yeah! I do love visiting blogs.

5. Have another contest—international, too.
I’ll pick out some more books. Don’t hold your breath, though. This might take a few months. I’ll visit Borders, which has a better selection of non-fiction than my local bookstore.
Another contest, yes x2, international…sigh, no. Sorry guys.

6. Make significant progress towards getting A Safe Place In Hell published.
Another hard one, mostly because I’m still a novice. I need to write a snappy query letter and send it out, but I’m nerved up. I can read post after post, book after book on the subject and still fail. Hard work is up ahead. I can’t back down.
Unfortunately, no. I did edit it more, but it’s not nearly ready, probably because I was distracted by a shiny new project and annoying personal matters.

7. Be the baddest bad ass I can be.
            I feel this one is self-explanatory.
            Well, obviously. I probably could have been badder, though. 

Not bad in all. How did you do this year? Did you meet your goals, writing or otherwise? Oh, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Brief Word (Or Two)

First of all, Michael Hayes gave me a Versatile Blogger award last week and I’d like to thank him for thinking of me. He’s a great guy with a cool blog you should go check out.

Yes, I took Tuesday off. I’m feeling a little burnt out and figured, hey, it’s the holidays. Probably a lot of people could use a break.

I really enjoyed Christmas this year. I hope yours was great, too. Mine was soooo much better than Thanksgiving was, probably because there were fewer relatives. And also presents. And food that I’ll be exercising off until well into next year.

Enjoy the rest of the year. I'll be reading as much as I possibly can and as always, lurking around your blogs. But when January 1 rolls in, no more procrastination. It’s time to finish those edits. I’m holding myself to that.

Did you get anything good for Christmas/Hanukkah/whatever? How’s the writing going?

I hope your 2012 is full of a lot of words.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Got Nothing

I hope you didn't drop in here expecting anything interesting. I'm still wiped from Christmas, so I'll see you on Thursday.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Why You Should Use Bags

Have a very merry Christmas. Or, if you prefer, holiday. Whatever you do, have fun and be safe. Here’s my gift to you. I worked very hard on it.

Okay, I worked on it.

…it’s filler so I don’t have to think up a new post.

Click to embiggen.
Let this be a lesson to all of you. Don’t wrap presents. Use bags. Because wrapping is really, really annoying. Oh, and the environment or something.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Language of Confusion: Tempt-ation

Tempt, attempt, contempt

An appropriate subject as in a few days, I will be sorely tempted to eat my weight in chocolate. Because, you know. Christmas.

The word tempt showed up in English in the early thirteenth century from the Old French tempter, which came the century before from the Latin temptare. Like many word-originators, temptare is not a direct translation. It means “to feel, to test, or to attempt to influence.” The latter two definitions certainly sound appropriate (what is temptation but a test of will?) and it’s probably why the Old French started using it. On a small side note, taunt comes from the same etymological parent as tempt.

What I find interesting is how different attempt is from tempt. An attempt is a try while to tempt is to test/influence. Attempt showed up in English about a century after tempt, not surprisingly from the Old French attempter. It is mostly a direct translation. The classical Latin word it comes from is attemptare, to try, although that itself is quite different from temptare. I suppose you can thank the prefix for that. At- comes from ad-, which means to, towards, in regard to. It makes temptare’s “to try” into “to try to” do something.

The third of the tempt trio is contempt, which also emerged in the late fourteenth century. Despite the similarity, its lineage is different, coming from the classical Latin contemptus, the past participle of “to scorn.” The con- is added as an intensifier, making it “to really scorn.” You have to chalk this one up to coincidence due to Latin speakers liking to add t’s to participles.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Burden of Creativity


I read an articlein the newspaper where writer Talya Meyers complained about, of all things, Pottermore. She seems to think JK Rowling is an imagination thief. The reason? Rowling likes to share backstories, histories and mythologies for her world and the writer felt that this was taking away from her own ability to imagine what happened. She brought up the ghost in Hamlet, saying that part of the “fun” is not knowing if it’s a specter, part of Hamlet’s imagination or even if it’s telling the truth.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the article writer is an English grad student. Meyers even admits she’s on the side of Death of the Author (in the article called intentional fallacy), the trope that says that the author’s word isn’t important, only the interpretation. As a story goes, Isaac Asimov went into a class discussing his own works, which I’m guessing he was an expert on. After class, he spoke to the lecturer to say that while he found the interpretation interesting, it wasn’t what he meant. As legend has it, the teacher’s response was “Just because you wrote it, what makes you think you have the slightest idea what it’s about?”

I think blood is spurting out my ears.

As a novel writer, this whole business irks me. I know so many details of the world I create, most of which will never end up in the finished product(s). Sharing all the stuff for my world is fun. Not that I don’t want people to interpret my work, talk about what it means to them, even come up with ideas based on it, but come on. I think I’m qualified to interpret my own work, English degree or no.

Honestly, the article seemed petulant, like JK Rowling was making her work tougher because it limited her interpretations. Come on. Books are windows into the imaginations of others. You can't expect it to be the same as yours. And complaining about being limited? Bah! You’re only as limited as your mind can imagine. 

The point of sharing stories with others is not to simply give them something to write about. It’s to give them a place to start their own journey. If you run into a wall, you don’t try to bust through it, nor do you blame the author for putting it there. You go around it. With the new path comes new ideas. Reader, writer, or interpreter, true creativity is hard work.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry “Holiday”

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about what to call the tree associated with an impending holiday. In the United States, separation between church and state is taken very seriously. To the point, in fact, where the tree-lighting ceremony where I live was for a “holiday tree.”

Some people were upset about it. They felt it was part of a war on Christmas and while I don’t believe in such an attack, I think they’re right about the nonsense of it all. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet and a conifer decorated with lights and ornaments is still a Christmas tree. But since a Christmas tree can be considered endorsement of religion, they adhere to the letter of the law, but not the spirit, by making it a Holiday tree. For all the other December holidays that use trees.

I don’t want to exclude anyone, but is it really so terrible to call it what it is? I know the tree and Santa Claus are both enmeshed with the religious aspects, but they are also icons onto themselves. I’m not Christian (although I’m descended from Christians who aren’t observant) but that doesn’t mean Christmas doesn’t have special significance for me.

What do you think about the whole debate? If you live outside the US, how does your country deal with religion and government? Do any non-Christians out there want to weigh in on whether the tree and Santa can stand alone? And for Christians, do you think it matters if those symbols are separate from the religious aspects of the holiday?

Yeah, a lot of questions. But I’m very curious to know.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

But I Thought It Meant…

For today’s word nerdery, I thought we could go over some of the most commonly “misused” words. Misused is in quotes there because the simple fact is, you can use any word any way you want. The grammar police aren’t going to come knocking on your door to charge you with first degree Incorrect Usage of a Verb, third offense (which comes with a term of twenty five years to life). Although people might misunderstand you or think you’re silly, you can go ahead and say “My brain literally spewed out of my ears!”


People tend to use irony when they mean coincidental or unexpected. However, in the words of Bender, irony is “The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention.” And who are we to contradict the word of Futurama? To put it simply, let’s say you just finished a mind-crushing calculus exam and someone asked you how it went. Saying “What a snap!” would be ironic because A) it was extremely difficult, not easy; and B) your mind snapped and you’re going home to cry yourself to sleep.

A lot of times, this word is used as an intensive, for example, “I am literally sweating bullets” when it’s very hot. It’s supposed to be used as a synonym for completely or actually, or as a way to say word for word. Ad nauseum literally means to nausea.

Notice there is an e after the l, not an i. This is actually one that I know I’ve misused when writing. Complementary means that it completes something, like how hot fudge complements a sundae. Deliciously so.

Infer is easily mixed up with implied, but there’s a big difference. Basically, it is the speaker/writer who does the implying and the listener/reader who does the inferring. If I say “No, you don’t need to get me a gift for my birthday” with a certain tone, I’m implying that you damn well better get me a gift and make it expensive. You are inferring that you better buy me a gift or start sleeping with one eye open.

This is confusing because it sounds just like loathe, but they have different meanings. For the latter you would say “I loathe you” and that would mean I don’t like you. However, loath means reluctant, as in “I am loath to give you another chance.” One easy way to know remember that loathe is a verb and loath is an adjective—it can only be used with a verb.