Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quite A Task

I was vacuuming the other day when it hit me: one of the plot points in my book is unnecessary. It adds nothing except a bunch of characters that are never seen again and could be written out with very little effect on the rest of the story.

I believe at that point, I turned off the vacuum and found a desk to lay my head on. Because this means a whole boat load of revisions. Just because it doesn’t affect the rest of the story doesn’t mean it’s easy to extract. I have thirty five thousand words, close to half of my book, that need to be edited, rewritten and added to.

My reaction was something like this:
My drawing skills get better all the time.
 
So, yeah. If you don’t hear form me in the next few weeks, assume I’ve been buried under an avalanche of words.

What about you? Any good editing arg-I-can’t-believe-I-missed-that stories to share?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Distractions, Distractions


I like playing video games. I also like the internet because it’s full of people who make great games. They’re innovators who can see past the recycled concepts of the industry and make something actually unique.

One of my favorite things is being able to exploit a concept to create something new. What’s one of the reasons everyone plays video games? To earn achievements and feel validated for 8.2 seconds. Achievement Unlockedexploits the hell out of that. The only purpose is to do things. Walk? Achievement. Die? Achievement. Do nothing? Achievement. It’s a bit of a puzzle in that you have to figure out what to do to obtain that glorious Achievement Unlocked, and you “win” by collecting them all. The sequelis twice as full of meaningless validation. Plus coins to collect, the other reason people play video games.

This Is The Only Levelis made by the same guy, and is a different experience. As the title implies, it’s the same level over and over, but you must beat it another way each time. Some are straightforward (hit the button to open the exit). Some you have to rack your brain (nope, no spoilers; the only clue is in the stage’s title). There is also twosequels if you want more adventures in singularity.

Go! Play meaningless games and rejoice!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Language of Confusion: Cursed Words


You asked for it, Michael.

It’s been called many things. The F word. The Big F---. Personally, I prefer f*ck. I remember being little and how feared and yet revered the word was, like just saying it would conjure up a storm that would obliterate everything you loved. Or at least bring the wrath of every adult within a mile radius. I’m not the only one who treats it so. Go look at the Online Etymology Dictionary’s entry on it. It’s an entire freaking page

It can be traced all the way back to 1503 as fukkit (does that need an asterisk?) It’s hard to trace it further because as a “bad” word it wasn’t used in most of the literature that survived in that era, most of which was probably written by monks, who I’m guessing didn’t use it much. It wasn’t until last century that the word was even allowed in print.

There is no proof, but it might relate to fukka, a word for sex in Norwegian dialect, or focka in Swedish, which has a similar meaning.  Another theory is that it came from the Middle English fyke/fike, which can mean flirt or restlessly fidget. Again, no proof, but it is true that the f word only appears in Germanic languages, so obviously it first showed up in some Proto-German dialect.

One thing that is for certain is that those stories about it being an acronym for Fornication Under Consent of King or For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge are hogwash, proving once again that on the internet, anyone will believe anything.

Sources
And that site that's so old that it only exists now as an archived text file.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Awesome Alert

We now interrupt your programming already in progress to inform you that Sparkling Reviews is hosting a freaking sweet 2000 Followers Giveaway. Mary's giving away:

  • 73in Flat Screen TV
  • Sony Home Theater System
  • $1000 Visa Card
  • $1000 Amazon Card

And I my jaw's dropping just reading that. I'm glad to inform you so I can get more entries you can join the fun. You also receive a hundred bonus entries by buying any item in this post.

You may now resume regular programming.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Websites for Writers


It’s been a while since I’ve done this, but sometimes there’s a site that’s so good, it just has to be shared. Literary Rambles by Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre is one of those. I suggest you head there now and put it in your RSS feed.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

The focus of the blog is Children’s Literature (picture book through YA) but I think it would benefit all writers to follow. Besides the giveaways (one of which is going on right now), they have a feature called Agent Spotlight where they pick an agent and pull together all the available information online about him/her. Yes, they all rep Children’s lit, but since many also rep Adult lit, it will help. There’s also a convenient list off all their spotlighted agents.

Nice, huh? So thank you to Natalie and Casey for doing all this work. I’m book marking it for, knock on wood, when the time comes that I’ll need it.

Any other writing related websites you’d like to share?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sopapilla


I’ve read the actual bill and I have to say this to Congress: if you have to define “including” as “including, but not limited to”, it’s time to give up and go home. 

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is designed to prevent American based sites from doing business with foreign based sites that violate US copyrights. In theory, this sounds like a great idea. Most of us here are writers and would hate to have copies of our books/stories/whatever passed around without us getting compensation.

However, the reach granted by this bill is ridiculous. It requires that internet providers block websites suspected—that’s all, just suspected—of infringement, basically cutting them off from the rest of the internet. People can claim all they want that only illegal portions of the site will be blocked; that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still within the Attorney General’s power to block anything he wants for being “suspected.” In fact, the reason SOPA was drafted was because it believed the powers of the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) weren’t broad enough. This is purposely creating an internet kill switch.

Interesting that the strongest supporters of it are also the wealthiest. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), ESA (Entertainment Software Association), and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) have all thrown their support behind the bill. And by “support” I mean the millions of dollars they make that is miraculously untouched by all the pirates. And by “behind the bill” I mean donations made to the campaign of the bill’s drafter.

Because it’s not like corporations ever exploit loopholes they’ve created by donating large sums of money to politicians in order to foster a business environment that is favorable to them and oppressive to companies with less capital to peddle for influence.

Currently, PIPA has been postponed indefinitely (good). Although also postponed, SOPA may not be dead yet. They may just be figuring out some way to make small changes to get more approval without nerfing the power. So remain vigilant, and if you’re not in the US, keep an eye out for any similar legislation in your own country. The internet should always remain free.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Language of Confusion: -trieve


The way some words are connected is mind boggling. Retrieve for example. I’m sure you’re aware that you can retrieve something, but never trieve it. However, I’m sure you’ve all heard of a trove. Like a treasure trove. Of useless, boring information about etymology.

Yes, they are connected. Retrieve first showed up in the fifteenth century by way of the Old French retrouver, which means “find again”. Retrouver is a combination of the prefix re- (as in again) and the word trouver, to find, making it “to find again”. However, when it was taken into English, it lost the “again” part.

Trove wasn’t recorded as a singular word until 1888, but treasure trove showed up in the mid sixteenth century. It is actually from Anglo-French, the twelfth century phrase tresor trovĂ©. As anyone who regularly reads this blog can guess, it can be traced to Latin. Tresor trovĂ© is a translation of thesaurus inventus, which can be literally translated as “treasure was found” or “found treasure.”

tl;dr: French translated a Latin saying and used it as a word, which then morphed into unique words in English. The mystery of why what we call a book of synonyms literally means treasure will have to wait until next time.

Sources
The Urban Dictionary, although that was more for me than the explanation.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Off to protest SOPA

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One of Them


I’m glad they passed those cyber bullying laws. It was horrible to be teased and tormented every day in school. I can’t imagine having to deal with that at home on my computer, too. In middle school, online was the one place I wasn’t miserable. But now the internet can no longer be used as a bully-by-proxy.


Basic summary: Jessica Ahlquist is an atheist, she felt it was inappropriate for a banner to be up in her public school invoking a divine spirit, the court agreed with her. And online, people have been condemning her to hell, calling her evil and saying she should be killed.

Sigh.

I don’t know whether Ms. Ahlquist was right or wrong in the banner, but I know it’s definitely wrong for people to be threatening her online. Go and read some of the posts about her. An atheist holocaust? Attacking the girl in class or curb stomping her? Posting her home address? God’s “coming for her” for wanting the banner removed?

Not. F*cking. Okay.

The reason we have laws is so we don’t end up using the wrong person’s judgment. Because to someone out there, we’re always going to be “one of them.”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Random Thoughts


---Yeah, another one. My creativity is being spent editing, so here you go.
---There were several things I hoped I’d never see. A Rocky musical is one of them. 
---If I ever can’t find the remote, I look under the cat and it’s there. I don’t know why she insists upon lying on it when there are plenty of warm, soft places for her to sleep.
---In some languages (like French, Spanish, and Italian), the term for roller coaster is “Russian Mountains,” a reference to what is considered to be the first one. But in Russian, the term for roller coaster is American Mountains.
---When I run out of ideas on what to do for posts, I do a post on what to do when you run out of ideas for posts.
---Also, I make lists a lot.
---A river in a river. Actually, I think it’s inside a lake. Either way, that hissing sound you’re hearing is your brain deflating.
---I was watching Predator the other day. Not the best movie, but enjoyable. Did you know Jean-Claude Van Damme was in it? He played the Predator in one scene. Then he was replaced, allegedly because they wanted someone taller, but I think we all know that it was because he’s just unable to act, even as an invisible character.
---I also watched Predator 2, another meh-but-enjoyable movie. It also has the distinction of having a black character that not only doesn’t die, but is the main freaking character! Can you name any other horror/action movies that can boast that?
---Note: nothing with Will Smith counts. Come on. That’s too easy.
---I mean, you’re all here, aren’t you?

And here’s the bonus:


I think somebody was cold, because that’s my quilt that she crawled under. And arranged as a nice little hidey spot.