Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflections 2013

Oh, man, did 2013 fly by or did it fly by? Have I finally gotten to the point where I’m so old that I’m no longer complaining about how long it takes for something to happen but instead I’m wondering why it’s already Christmas when I was just complaining about how hot this summer was yesterday? Ahhhhhhh!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay. Calming down now. Man, I don’t even remember what my resolutions were for last year. Which probably isn’t a good sign…

1. Get COLLAPSE to the point where it’s ready for beta reading.
            I certainly think I’ll be able to do this. I have a system for how I go about edits and I don’t have any trouble getting to the point where it needs outside opinions.
            Hey, I did this! And I got some beta reading actually done! That’s a bonus, right?

2. Find more beta readers.
            As I mentioned in my Reflections post, I haven’t had much luck with finding a long term crit partner/beta reader : (. I’d certainly like to find some new ones, not only for COLLAPSE when it’s ready but for GLITCH (I won’t give up on it!).
            And this! Plus they all actually read the book instead of disappearing after giving me their thoughts on the first chapter! Special thanks to Nick, MJ, and Julie for helping me achieve this goal.

3. Rewrite A SAFE PLACE IN HELL.
            This won’t be just a revision, but a full on rewrite. I started on this book back before I got involved in social media and I honestly think it lacks a lot of the finesse I picked up from suggestions by my fabulous blogging buddies. However! I will not do this until both GLITCH and COLLAPSE are at the point where nothing more can be done. If I fail this resolution, it better be because I’ve finished the above two.
            Nope. I did get about a third of the way through it and I have a very good plan of what will happen next. I got distracted by a shiny new project, and hey. I did get very close to the fabled “done” in GLITCH and COLLAPSE.

4. Start posting my writing goals.
            I think this will help keep me honest. On the first Tuesday of the month, I’m going to post what I want to accomplish and how far I’ve come (basically these resolutions/reflections posts on a monthly basis). Also, I’m going to keep the list posted on my sidebar with progress reports. The guilt should definitely keep me going.
            As I’m sure you all know, I did this. : D

5. Start up a Tumblr.
            You heard that right! More details later.
            Totes! It’s totally not very popular, but I still like finding spam and laughing at it, even if no one else is paying attention.

6. Start my own utopian society.
            Well, I’m starting a bunch of other things.
            No. I kind of got busy with all my writing. Plus starting a society is harder than it looks.

7. Never give up on my books!
            Namely, the above three that I mentioned. I will edit them, I will send them out to beta readers, I will hunt down and capture said beta readers, etc. It might seem redundant to have this here, but I need the extra reminder.
            BAM! Nevar! Yes I spelled that wrong on purpose! Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Surprisingly, I didn’t do that bad. I think I’d be more impressed if I bit the bullet and started querying for COLLAPSE, though. Ugh, querying…


How’d you guys do with your goals this year, both writing and otherwise?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Filler

It's that time of year again. Where I have to post stick figure comics because I'm being forced to spend time with my (ugh!) family. This year, since I had no other ideas, I decided to pontificate on the reasons I hated high school so much...

Reason #1: The Mid-Winter Fire Drills

Reason #2: The Guidance Counselors

Reason #3: The Teachers

Reason #4: The Stupid Logic

Reason #5: Did I mention the teachers?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Off For The Holidays

Well, pretty much off. I'll still be writing because I really want to get the rough draft this book done by the end of the year, and in case you haven't noticed, that's going to be kind of soon. I'm still going to post something on Thursday, of course, because I do love my stick figure comics. Just don't expect me to be lurking around your blogs.

If you're celebrating Christmas, I hope you have a happy holiday. If you're not, I still hope you're having a happy day.

Hugs!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Quick Reviews

Time to do some quick reviews again, because I haven’t done one since February (wow!) and how will you guys know what to read? There aren’t any book review sites anywhere on the internet!

Dr. Sleep
By Stephen King
Characters: 2 Writing 7 Story 1
Yeah, Stephen King came out with a new book. I was very excited for this since it’s about Danny Torrence after the events of THE SHINING (which will forever in my home be known as The Shinning), but that excitement was tempered. His recent works have been hit or miss, and mostly miss at that. On one hand you have FULL DARK, NO STARS, filled with one incredibly good novella and three very decent ones, and then there’s 11/22/63 which wasn’t very memorable. In regards to Dr. Sleep, surprisingly enough for a book that’s over eight hundred pages long, there’s not a lot going on with it. The writing is as rich and absorbing as ever, but the plot takes FOREVER for anything to happen and the characters, even Dan, are bland as white bread. Honestly, the character thing could probably be forgiven (see the next section for why) but again, the plot is just non-existent. The first half of the book is nothing but the main characters, Dan and a similarly gifted girl named Alba, doing stuff. Literally all it does is set up for the second half of the book where there’s actually stuff going on. But it’s Stephen King, so people will still buy it.

Joyland
Characters 4 Writing 7 Story 7
Another one by Stephen King. I got this one last Christmas (I think) and yes, I’m only just getting around to reviewing it. Oh well. I don’t think it hurt him any. Anyway, I think this was a much stronger effort than the above Dr. Sleep, and not only because it’s like half the length. The story is tight, surprisingly not horror, and with only a trace of supernatural in the supposed haunting of the above named Joyland, an amusement park. It’s really along the lines of a mystery with a touch of thriller, and I have to admit it surprised me in places (in a good way, too). The only downfall is the main character, who is flatter than the screen you’re reading this on. It doesn’t detract terribly from the story, which is interesting and most enjoyable, but it is rather disappointing considering that the other characters have more oomph to them. He’s our POV guy and he just seems like a lovestruck teenager there to witness what’s going on. Kind of a shame, but definitely a better read than Dr. Sleep.

Orphan Train
Characters 2 Writing 4 Story 5
By Christina Baker Kline
In a nutshell, this book is about two orphans, one from the thirties (who was on the eponymous orphan train) and the other from two years ago and stuck in foster care. It wasn’t a terrible book, but the fact that it’s very short probably helps things. Both the characters and the writing are weak, and the overall story is just average. The modern day orphan, Molly, dresses as and says she’s a goth, but the author obviously has no idea what goths are (at best, she’s emo). And because she’s caught trying to steal a book from a library, she gets threatened with juvie instead of just being kicked out, because that’s realistic. It does mean she has to do community service at a crotchety old lady’s house, whose past on the orphan train (an actual thing, scarily enough) makes up the other POV. It’s the alternating POV that probably saves this book. Neimh/Dorothy/Vivian in the past is a far more interesting and likable character. People also don’t always automatically hate her when they meet her, like they do with Molly for some reason. Seriously, everyone hates this girl except her foster father and her boyfriend, the latter of whom is kind of a jerk and I have no idea why they’re together because all they do is fight.

I Know This Much is True
Characters 10 Writing 9 Story 7
By Wally Lamb
Finally, something I can recommend. Be warned: this book is eight hundred and fifty pages long and is character driven, meaning there isn’t much plot. However, don’t take it as similar to Dr. Sleep. This book is one hundred percent about who Dominick Birdsey and his schizophrenic twin Thomas are. It also happens to be one of the more realistic uses of schizophrenia in literature, showing Thomas as an oversensitive child, paranoid teenager, and crumbling (although not incapable) adult. Dominick, an angry, depressed man who struggles to take care of his brother, also gets his hands on his grandfather’s autobiography about a “great man from humble beginnings”. Seriously, the man writes about himself like that. Anyway, if you like character driven stories or literary fiction (and don’t mind the word count), pick it up.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I’m Still Finding Words That Are Easy to Confuse

Sigh. Melissa is taking a blogging break. I so loved Grammar Police Mondays. Really. I’m not even exaggerating. If it’s about words and word usage, I will love it.

Anyway, with her off being with her family because I suppose that’s more important than us, here’s another set of easily confused words and how not to confuse them.

Mariticide is the killing of your husband. Matricide is the killing of your mother. You don’t want to mix those up. The consequences would be terrible. Remember, killing your mom is just killing your dad with an m instead of a p.

Chord/cord, suggested by Kate Larkendale way back during my last Confused Words post. I know Latin liked to distinguish words of Greek origin by using ch for the hard k sound, but do we still have to do it in English? It’s been like fifteen hundred years. It seems like we can let it go. But if people insist upon using it, remember that cord is either wood or a rope/cable, while chord has to do with music. Or a bunch of esoteric meanings in geometry, engineering and aeronautics.

Current/currant
I had to write current for something and I spelled it with an a because I do that with words a lot (any word that ends with -ent or -ant, I WILL spell it with the wrong vowel every freaking time). A red, squiggly line didn’t pop up underneath. Turns out currant is a real word, a type of raisin. I had no idea that it was a real word. Or that there were types of raisins.

Creek/creak
Another word I have to mention because I mix it up. A creek is a body of water, while a creak is a noise. I don’t know of an easy way to tell them apart. You just have to remember that double e is water and e-a is sound.

Route/root/rout
This one is super annoying because root is always root (pronounced so it rhymes with boot), rout is always rout (pronounced so it’s out with an r in front), but route can be pronounced root or rout. It’s like they were designed for the specific purpose of sowing confusion. Just don’t forget that e when you mean a road/path, otherwise you’re writing about something completely different.

So this is the last word/etymology post of the year : ). I hope you loved them as much as I did!


…You didn’t love them as much as I did. Well, tough. I’m never going to stop.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Accessible

The other day, I tried to leave a comment on a web page I visit fairly regularly. And I couldn’t. See, and this person had made it so you had to be on Google+ in order to leave a comment and while I have a Google account, it’s not a + (and it never will be).

I was bummed, and it’s not like I could say anything to the blogger since I couldn’t leave a comment. People read websites in all kinds of ways, and if we want to interact with them, we have to make it as easy as possible because this is the internet age and people are used to getting what they want or moving on to something else. It’s not like there’s a shortage of writer websites.

Even if it’s a site I really like, if it’s difficult to access, I’m not going to bother. This is why I work hard to make sure my own site is as simplistic as possible (well, that, and I’m really lazy). I have links to my Twitter, you can subscribe by email, there’s a button for all types of RSS feeds. I even threw a special link to Feedly, since that was the reader I recommended during that big thing I did. True, I absolutely refuse to use Google+, Facebook, and Bloglovin (THERE’S SUPPOSED TO BE A G THERE, STOP ACTING LIKE THERE SHOULDN’T BE) and that limits me in some ways, but for the most part I will bend over backwards to make sure anyone anywhere can read my blog. If someone mentions some new way to follow blogs, I will add it.


I just have to make sure people are able to comment and tell me about it.

Have you ever seen a blogger shoot themselves in the foot in some way? Do you have any suggestions for making a blog accessible to all?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Random Thoughts

---After almost a week of being down, Who.Unfollowed.Me is back. Now I can’t track down all the the jerks who unfollowed me on Twitter.
---You know who you are.
---“Herpes Study Confirms That Human Migration Spread Out From Africa.” Did you ever get the feeling that the world is completely surreal?
---The Western Black Rhino is extinct : (.
---Lift your right foot off the ground. Move it clockwise. Try making a counterclockwise motion with your right hand. Your foot will start moving counterclockwise. It can’t not do that. Your brain is unable to make the same side of your body move in different directions at the same time.
---“US Judge tells man he’s still legally dead”. This is it, people. Zombie apocalypse. Get your guns and canned beans.
---Two Rabbis had some thugs kidnap and beat up husbands who refused to allow their wives permission to divorce them. A sexist as hell system, yes, but I’m more concerned that it was also a plot in an episode of The Sopranos. I think real life has run out of bad ideas, so it’s just taking it from television shows now.
---Edgar Allan Poe once made up a hoax and got a newspaper to fall for it. The hoax? That he had been in a machine that flew across the US. Who’s laughing now, Poe?
---Tech tip: if you ever find yourself typing a blog post or a comment and you find that the cursor keeps highlighting things and typing over them, hit the Insert key and it will go back to normal. You don’t want to know how long it took me to figure that out. Seriously, it’s embarrassing.
---Why is there even an Insert key if not to screw us up when we miss the Delete key? WHY DO YOU HATE US, COMPUTER MAKERS?
---Three and a half million people still pay for AOL. Commence laughing…now!

---The longest piece of literature in the world is a fan fic for the video game Super Smash Bros. It’s over four million words long. Writers, do you ever feel like your life is meaningless?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Language of Confusion: Badder

I did good and better/best, so I might as well do bad and worse/worst.

Now, badder isn’t really a word, but clearly baddest is or we wouldn’t have a description for Shaft. But apparently Shaft-describing is the only vestige of what were once real words. Either because they were disliked or just colloquialisms, badder and baddest haven’t been in use for at least three hundred years. Bad itself showed up in the early thirteenth century, first just meaning inferior, then also meaning evil although the latter definition didn’t catch on for another hundred years. It’s thought to come from the Old English insulting term baeddel, which means…well, it’s a derogatory word, let’s just leave it at that.

Like I said, badder and baddest once were the comparative forms of bad. Worse and worst were just more popular. Worse comes from the Old English wiersa/wyrsa, the Proto Germanic wers-izon, and can even be traced to the Proto Indo European wers, which actually means to mix up. Worst has a similar lineage, coming from the Old English wyrresta and Proto Germanic wers-ista and, like worse, the word wers.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much info about why worse and worst were more popular. However it might have something to do with how bad didn’t initially mean evil, but worse and worst did. I’m sure this mess definitely has to do with the fact that English is a language where we all just pick the words we like to say, screw “definitions”.

Sources
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Positivity

Everyone enjoys positive feedback. “I like your stories!” “You’re funny!” It’s a nice little ego boost, and I know a positive comment in a critique cheers me up after seeing all the mistakes. But writers do need SOME negative feedback. Not mean of course, but “This doesn’t make sense to me” or “I’m pretty sure that ducks are capable of flight”. Think of the most glaring, cringe inducing error you’ve ever read in a work of fiction. Don’t you wish someone got a little more negative?

Positively Awful Advice

1. “Your refusal to let laws of physics and common sense hold you back is really impressive.”

2. “There’s no law saying that character names have to be the same throughout the entire book.”

3. “If people don’t get what you’re describing, it’s because you’re a misunderstood genius.”

4. “It’s quantity, not quality that counts. Five hundred thousand is just more words to love.”

5. “Spelling rules are only like five hundred years old. That’s way shorter than written language. You go with what feels right.”

6. “Bah. What’s continuity every done for anyone?”

7. “Your incorrect information maligns an entire culture, but who cares? None of those people are in your target audience.”

8. “‘Plagiarism.’ ‘Stealing.’ “Copyright infringement.’ They’re just words.”

9. “Commas really are subjective.”


10. “So are grammar.”

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Holiday Season

Honestly, I really thought the informal polls would be more fun than they've turned out to be. It doesn't help that I had a bunch of questions in mind and then the second I started doing them, totally forgot them all. I'll keep them up for the next couple of weeks, but in 2014, I'm trying something new. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't turn out to be a big dud like this one.

So...how's your December going? Are you Christmas-celebrators doing a lot of shopping?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Language of Confusion: -guish

As what often happens to me because I’m me, I got to wondering about a word. In this case it was distinguish, another one of those words that makes no sense when you separate the prefix from the rest of the word. So let’s look into its origins and maybe I’ll get a hundred and thirty page views like when I did Sunday, seriously I’m not even joking, it was a hundred and thirty.

Distinguish showed up in the middle of the sixteenth century, coming from the Middle French distinguiss and classical Latin distinguere. It meant to separate, much like we use it for, but also “to separate by pricking”. See, that stinguere has a variety of meanings in Latin, including prick, but also quench, as in obliterate…or extinguish.

Extinguish is a bit older than distinguish, having showed up in the early sixteenth century. In Latin the word is (of course) extinguere/exstinguere, with pretty much the same meaning we know it as. The ex- means out and the stinguere means obliterate, making it “to put out”.

There are also other words that end in -guish, but I haven’t been able to confirm that they’re related. Anguish and languish just seem to be words combined with -guish, the first being anger and the second being lax. You have to remember that distinguish and extinguish both have the s sound (the x takes care of it for the latter), while as other words do not. It’s the fault of the suffix -ish, which happens to be quite popular.

TL;DR: Distinguish and extinguish are related, but not to any other word that ends in -guish, because Latin is almost as crazy a language as English.

Hey, another -ish word.

Sources

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December Goals

Well, this was another month that went by fast. But maybe that’s because I spent the last few days in a food coma. Ooh, and the same thing is going to happen at the end of this month, too! I love the holidays!

Anyway, let’s see what I was supposed to be doing…

November Goals

1. 20K in my paranormal apocalyptic story! This is the more important project, so I really want to focus on it. I think some of the reason I’ve been having trouble is because I’ve been working on multiple things. It’s time to stop doing that.
            Yes, I did this! It’s over 50K now and getting close to the end. But this doesn’t mean it’s nearly close to finished. There’s a bunch of stuff I have to go back and fill in as whenever I got stuck, I skipped the part that was troubling me. I’d peg the “final: first draft as being somewhere over 60K.

2. Be more active on social media. Of course, since everyone is off doing NaNo, it’s not like anyone will be around to notice.
            I wasn’t bad. I didn’t slip at least, and I’ve been working on being more active on Tumblr and while visiting other blogs. I could have done better, though.

3. Learn more about computer coding. Yes, really.
            Yeah, I didn’t do this. I didn’t have time. Weekends (and the holiday week, of course) are my only free time and I tend to spend them doing, you know, fun stuff. Maybe next month?

Not bad. I’m especially pleased with my writerly goals. And now for this month:

1. Finish the rough draft of my previously mentioned paranormal apocalyptic story.

2. Think about ways to make my blog more fun for my readers. I’m not good when it comes to things like this, so it will take some work.

3. Screw it, it’s December, I’m taking the last week off. Yes, this is totally a goal. Even though I just took a week off in November. Ah, screw it.


What are your December plans? Are you totally getting overwhelmed with the upcoming holidays? Are you ready to say goodbye to 2013?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgrieving III

I can honestly say I'm surprised. This Thanksgiving wasn't a total sh!thole, which makes it the first one not to be since I started this freaking blog. Apparently changing urls really did wonders for a lot of things.

There were no fights. No crying. No jerkwad relatives who have to be threatened to be physically thrown out of the house then physically thrown out of the house because they think I'm too small and they won't make that mistake again. Mostly because said jerkwad relatives weren't invited. I also wasn't blindsided by having total strangers invited so I'm all anxious through the whole thing and then angry when everyone tells me to suck it up.

I could get used to this. I hear there are some families that even manage to get along through most holidays! It sounds like a modern day fairy tale, but wouldn't it be something?

Oh, and it's Saturday. The reason why this post is happening now is because it's time for a new poll! I'm really going to try to make this work so you better all vote!

Now! Do it now!

How was your Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Off For Thanksgiving

Read the title. But here's something for you...


The only thing that isn't true is that I don't have a clock behind me when I'm at the computer.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Break

Thanksgiving is coming, which means I have to prepare for dealing with (shudder) my family, so fair warning: my posts this week are going to be very lazy. No thinking things through, proofreading or fact checking at all. I’m not even going to try to be interesting. I mean, it’s not like my blog stats can get that much worse.

You know what? I’m not even going to post anything else. Instead, I’m going to send you to Newgrounds again to play a puzzle game about sheep. It also has several sequels, which I also advise playing, including one in space. You better go play the games because I’ll be expecting a report on my desk by Monday.

Wait…where the hell did that come from?


All right, no more making posts at midnight.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Informal Poll

I’ve been thinking of starting a new weekly post for my blog. A little like Thursday is always for etymology, Saturday will have its own theme. Except it probably won’t be every week. Maybe every other. Ish. We’ll have to see what I can come up with.

As the title of this post clearly says, plus the big new gadget you scrolled down to read this, but maybe you skipped over them or your aggregator doesn’t do titles or something, which I guess is possible although unlikely since it seems weird to not look at a title, but that’s just me and maybe you feel differently, and at this point I’m just trying to see how long I can get this sentence to be, although I bet it’s still not a record breaker, I’m going to start doing informal polls. The basic idea is that I will have a question every other week or so, talk about the topic for a bit, then open the floor to responses from you guys, and then I’ll post the final tallies before the next informal poll. I’m not quite sure what ideas I’ll come up with, but you can expect something appropriately insane.

So to start things off appropriately, what do you think of the idea of informal polls? Please scroll up to answer : ).


Oh, and it had ninety three words.

EDIT: You know what would have really helped? If the poll actually went up when it was supposed to instead of just not working. Thanks for the embarrassment, Blogger.

By the way, I was being sarcastic.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lost in Translation: Sunday

Ah, my last one. Of course, there’s always months left to do.

Spanish: domingo
Portuguese: domingo
Italian: Domenica
French: dimanche
Romanian: duminică
German: Sonntag
Norwegian: søndag
Dutch: zondag
Danish: søndag
Icelandic: Sunnudagur
Sweedish: söndag
Polish: niedziela
Serbian: nedelja
Ukrainian: nedilya
Bulgarian: nedelya
Albanian: e diel
Latvian: svētdiena
Estonian: pühapäev

I’m sure the etymology won’t be a surprise to anyone. Sunday comes from the Old English Sunnandaeg, day of the sun. It was what’s known as a loan-translation, which is taking a foreign word or phrase and translating it into your language so you can use it without those pesky foreign sounding words. In this case, Sunnandaeg comes from the classical Latin dies solis, which has the same meaning and is a loan-translation itself of the Greek hemera heliou.

The sun’s day happens to be the name of a pagan holiday in Roman culture, but interestingly enough, the Romance languages instead have the Latin dominica, God’s day, as it’s root. The Germanic languages preferred to keep their pagan reference, thank you very much. Eastern Europe gives us more variations. Sunday is the first day of the week in the Albania, so they call it “first day”. Latvian very obviously has day (diena) in it, but I have no idea about svēt. Estonian also has day in it (päev), and püha just happens to translate to holy, so I think it’s obvious what they were going for there. In Polish, dziela is close to dzień, day, but I’m not familiar enough with the other languages to be sure if the others are the same word. The same with the first part, which might mean “not” in Polish, or could be me totally not understanding a language I’m not that familiar with. You guess which.

In other words, don’t use me as an academic reference.

Sources
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Advice to You

I tend to do my writing in bulk, over about three hours, four or five days a week. My productivity is usually pretty good this way (I did nine thousand words last week and eleven thousand the week before; not bad, right?). But there are times when I can barely put a hundred words down no matter how much I sit staring at the screen, willing myself to write. It’s at these points that I often go searching the internet for other people who have gone through the same thing in hopes of learning how to make the words just get out on the screen.

There are a lot of writers out there, and most of them seem to have blogs, and the one thing they like to do is give writing advice to other writers. You know. Like I’m doing now. Anyway! I find that sometimes, the advice is quite helpful. But truth be told, it often isn’t. Now, I’m not saying the advice is bad. Most of the time, it’s well written and at least gives me something to consider. It’s just that for whatever reason, I can’t make it work for me.

Going back to the writer’s block example, I have read a lot about how to slay that insidious beast. Some advise powering through, typing something, anything until the will to write returns. Others say you should switch to another project. Still others say take a break (a day or a week or however long it takes). Or go edit what you’ve already written, skip the part that’s bothering you, do some outlining, etc. There’s no end to it. But nothing I’ve read has really helped me get over a writing slump. I’ve always had to work through it on my own doing one or more (or none!) of the above, because I am a very different writer than all of you, just like each of you is very different from everyone else.

Is all this advice bad? Far from it. In writing about what works for us, we are giving ideas to others that may or may not help, and even if it’s probably not, we are clarifying to ourselves what we need to do when the situation arises. These blogs—or mine, anyway—isn’t just about connecting with you guys and spouting boring facts about word origins. It’s also a record of what I’m doing. So I can have an alibi for when I’m on trial remember what I’ve done and what I need to do.


Or something. Thoughts? What is your advice about advice?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Complaint Free World? No Thanks

Okay, I haven’t done a rant in a while (or at least I haven’t bothered to check and see if I have…same dif) so here we go.

I read online about some movement encouraging people to go without complaining for like three weeks. My reaction: sweet lord, NO. What would I tweet about? The only things I do on Twitter are complain and tell people when I’m going to bed so they don’t expect a response from me. Which would be another complaint. Cutting out complaining would basically kill me on social media.

I’m a pessimist. I admit it. I also don’t think this is a bad thing. Being a pessimist doesn’t mean I’m constantly ragging on everything that goes wrong or warning that when things go right it’s only because they’re getting ready to go wrong. It means I tend to see the negative outcomes first and the positive second. The worst thing it does is make me more indecisive. It doesn’t make me a whiner.

I understand that the idea behind the movement is to stop complaining and get out trying to change things, or and don’t whine about the things you can’t, but come on. Yes, doing something is better than saying you want to do something, but sometimes things seem cruddy and you rail against it because you just want to feel heard, even if it’s only by the universe. To me, acknowledging something is the only way to move past it. It’s not giving it power over me. It’s not me moaning and groaning instead of acting (usually it’s me moaning and groaning while I’m acting : ). It’s me voicing something. Unless I’m at it constantly, I don’t see how it hurts anyone or anything.

I’m going to complain if someone stops at the flashing yellow light even though no one is in the crosswalk. Because it’s not a big deal what I do alone when I’m driving. I’m going to complain if I wait a half hour in a restaurant for my meal because they forgot my order. Because I should get the food I order. I’m going to complain if I read a story about a girl getting shot for knocking on someone’s door while she was looking for help. Because I want to remember how awful that is.


If you don’t like it, go complain about it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Language of Confusion: The Friend-Ship

Man, I cannot wait for the holidays, because I sure don’t feel like doing anything. At all. Anyway, let’s talk about the word friend or whatever.

Friend comes from the Old English word freond, which I think is much cooler. It has the same meaning as friend, but it also happens to be the present participle of the word freogan, which means to love or to favor. It can be traced to the Proto Germanic frijojanan, to love, but that’s as far back as that particular word goes. Also, I absolutely love that the Online Etymology Dictionary lists the creation of friend as a verb to Facebook in 2005.

But that’s not the end of the story. That Old English freond happens to be related to the Old English freo, which means free. It comes from the Proto Germanic frijaz, which is quite similar to the above crazy word frijojanan. Unlike frijojanan though, frijaz can be trace to the Proto Indo European prijos, which means beloved. Beloved like a friend perhaps. So yes, free once was closer to love, which makes a lot more sense for friend. As for why free is like that, there’s only guessing.

We’re still not done. If you take that r out of friend, you basically have the opposite: fiend. That’s true in Old English, too, where the word feond means enemy. It happens to be the present participle of feogan, to hate, coming from the Proto Germanic fijaejan and Proto Indo European pei, to blame or revile. This means that the lack of an r has made these two terms opposites as far back as etymology can trace.

Like, whoa.

Sources
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spaced Out

Spaces between sentences. I can’t remember what brought about this thought, but I’m guessing it was something boring.

When I was in school, we got marked down if we handed in a paper without TWO spaces after the period. College was the same. Two spaces, the professors insisted. Well, the English professors. My science teachers cared not even a little as long as it was in semi-coherent English. But that’s getting off topic.

There’s a lot of talk about what started the two space rule, with some insisting that it has to do with the use of strange devices known as “typewriters” and their monospaced fonts. However, there’s just as good an argument that using two spaces has nothing to do with typewriters, or typesetters and printers desiring a wider space between sentences, and the only reason for the abolishment of two spaces is to lessen printing costs. The only facts that are definite are that large gaps between sentences were common for centuries before the printing press and the typewriter were invented, and using only one space is a recent habit that seems to be getting more popular.

For a while after I started writing, I stuck to the two spaces. It wasn’t until I started blogging that I found out that two was becoming passé, and now even the MLA says one space is preferred for papers and manuscripts (although the APA is still sticking with two). But there are those out there who are literally insane about two being more aesthetically pleasing, and the vitriol is almost as bad as the people who want to abolish the apostrophe.


What say you, peeps? Which did you learn was the “right” one? Which do you use now?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Eternally Yours

Since I’ve been hinting at it for a while, I might as well fill in the details. Remember when I was talking about the Slender Man a few weeks ago (visit TV Tropes if you want to know more about it, but fair warning, that site is a timesuck)? Yeah, it’s based on that. Enduring Eternity is a horror story that I’ve been “blogging” for the past few months about a guy who calls himself Axel trying to make sense of the events that turned his life into a waking nightmare.

The last post went up on Halloween (which ended up being a happy coincidence), bringing the total to thirty nine (a multiple of thirteen, another happy coincidence). It follows Axel through his ups and lows in his personal life as he tries to piece together what happened after his car broke down, leaving him and his friend stranded in the forest. There is no violence, but some gruesome imagery (although only in a couple of posts). Also, he swears kind of a lot. And comments are off so if you have anything to say, you have to tell me here (I hang out on a forum for these kinds of blogs, but I’m guessing you guys aren’t there, so…).

In total, it’s about 37,000 words, so basically it’s a novella. If you like horror and creepy things, I hope you check it out. The blog is here, in the Dynamic Views format, but it actually works for a blog like this and it’s really easy to scroll down to the beginning. Or if you prefer, the first post is here.


Thanks for listening! Um, reading.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Language of Confusion: Metal Madness

I already did iron (to see if it was related to irony—nope) and lead (to compare the two different verbs and their pronunciations), so I figured why not see where the names of other metals come from. Not that I’m sure anyone is pausing from NaNo long enough to read my blog so I can just stop trying. Anyway, here we go:

Gold
When it first showed up in the early thirteenth century, gold was just an adjective, not a name of a metal. It didn’t get attached to the metal of that color for another two centuries. The word “gold” comes from the Old English gold, which evolved from the Proto Germanic gulth and further back, the Proto Indo European ghel, which means yellow/green (in fact, in my colors post I mentioned that ghel is the origin word for yellow). In other words, gold is basically saying “that metal that’s yellow”.

Silver
Silver comes from the Old English seolfor and Mercian sylfur, which meant silver or money. In Proto Germanic the word is silubra, but from there it’s uncertain because Proto Indo European bequeathed arg- (shine, white) which gave us the Latin argentum and even the word argent here in Modern English. Silver jumped in over a thousand years ago (possibly of Asian extraction) and just stayed and now we use it to describe the shining white metal.

Tin
Tin comes from the Old English tin (I’ll never be able to pronounce that!) and Proto Germanic tinom. There’s nothing further back than that as Latin uses a completely different word, stannum. Most European countries use variations of both the Latin and Proto Germanic for tin to differentiate between the raw form of the metal and the plate form of it.

Platinum
Unlike the other words here, platinum first showed up as a metal, and relatively recently in 1812. Its name comes from Latin, of course, but that was from the Spanish word platina or plata, which means silver. Apparently when it was first discovered, it was thought of as a lesser form of silver.

Aluminum
Or “aluminium”, for you UK types. It’s another one that didn’t show up until 1812. Its oxide form “alumina”, actually came first, and was named from the classical Latin alumen, which means alum, a salt used in medicine, tanning and dyeing among other things.

Sources
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Orbis Latinus

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November Goals

Oh, god, it’s November and I got nothing done. October was the WORST. I was hardly able to write at all because I was so busy with stuff. First there was construction going on outside, then it got cold but the frigging heater wasn’t frigging working (frig!), plus, as anyone who follows me on Twitter has heard non-stop about, I hurt my neck at the beginning of the month (no idea how) and it’s only just now started to not kill me every day. Concentrating on writing is made extra hard when you have to keep taking breaks to lie on the floor because your neck can’t hold up your head.

Okay, enough complaining. Let’s see how I actually did (shudder)…

October Goals
1. Finish Horror Project A, also known as Enduring Eternity. Maybe I’ll share it with you guys.
Yes, it’s fully finished, although it mostly was anyway. As for the sharing, maybe Saturday?

2. Get 30K words down, preferably more in the paranormal apocalyptic than my other horror project.
Nope. Not even close. The above problems really grinded this one to a halt. At this rate, I’m never going to get those projects done!

3. Keep updating my etymology page. Remember all the trouble I had with that? Oh, man, this is not going to be fun.
Ha, I actually did this at the beginning of the month. If you look up, you’ll see the new pages I have for easily confused words and other etymology things. Because they’re not nearly as long as the Language of Confusion page, it ended up being a lot easier than I expected.

So I got the easy ones done. I hope I actually have a chance to write this month and oh, no, it’s November, which means Thanksgiving is going to eat up my time in a few weeks, great.

November Goals

1. 20K in my paranormal apocalyptic story! This is the more important project, so I really want to focus on it. I think some of the reason I’ve been having trouble is because I’ve been working on multiple things. It’s time to stop doing that.

2. Be more active on social media. Of course, since everyone is off doing NaNo, it’s not like anyone will be around to notice.

3. Learn more about computer coding. Yes, really.


Okay, so that’s what I’m up to this month. What about you?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Random Thoughts

---Dolphins might have better memories than elephants. I think this means we have to change that old saying.
---Hawaii is moving towards Japan at a rate of about four inches a year. Those thieves!
---Quint: to deliberately insult someone who is fishing for a compliment. And my new favorite thing.
---An animal control officer was found with 850 snakes in his apartment. I’m thinking he doesn’t understand the purpose of his job.
---Wait…pasty is a food? I only knew it as…something else.
---I’m surprised there aren’t more sci-fi works with titles that start with a Q. The letter just naturally lends itself to sci-fi, like X and Z.
---Whenever I get to hoping for humanity, I remember that there are still people out there who think Onion stories are real.
---“For each person, there is a sentence—a series of words—which has the power to destroy them.” Screw quint. THIS is my new favorite thing.
---“Scientists run dinosaur wind-tunnel tests”. They had dinosaurs and didn’t tell us?!!
---“Jon Gosslin threatens photog with gun”. Oh no! I scrolled down too far in my news feed and accidentally got into Entertainment “news”.
---I read a game review that claimed GTA V was ruined by “stubborn violence and sexism”. While the violence and sexism part is completely true, what did this guy expect the game to be about? If you’re going to protest the violence and sexism in GTA, go ahead and do it, but don’t act like that’s not what every GTA game ever has been full of.
---James Blunt was a captain in the British Army. Yes, that James Blunt.

---A guy actually computed what the difference is between a geek and a nerd. Apparently, a geek is someone who likes movies, television shows, and comics while a nerd is someone with interests in science and mathematics. I’m assuming this means the guy who made said computation is a total nerd.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Language of Confusion: Ghostly

Happy Halloween! And isn’t it lucky that it falls on Etymology Thursday. It’s like two holidays in one!

Last year I did a post on a bunch of words for scary, so this year I’m doing a post on a bunch of things that are scary.

Ghost
Comes from the Old English gast, which is also the origin word for ghastly and aghast. Back in the fourteenth century, gast was a word in English, an adjective that came from the verb gasten, or to frighten. If you remember my post last year on all the words for scary, you’ll know that we have a lot of words with the same definition, so I guess this one just got left behind. Anyway, back to ghost. Before the Old English gast or gaestan, there was the Proto Germanic ghoizdoz and Proto Indo European gheis, to be excited or frightened. I guess a disembodied spirit was scary, so they got to calling it ghostl

Witch
Comes from the Old English wicce, sorceress (and its male equivalent, wicca) and the verb wiccian, to practice witchcraft. It’s not sure where that word came from, but there is a Proto Germanic word, wikkjaz, meaning necromancer, and further back the Proto Indo European weg-yo, meaning to be strong/lively.

Monster
Showed up in the early fourteenth century to mean a human or animal born with a birth defect. It comes from the Old French monstre/mostre, monster, and the classical Latin monstrum, an omen or abnormal shape, because apparently abnormal animals were considered ill omens because of course they were.

Spooky
A recent word, showing up in 1854 (even without the y the word goes no further back than 1801). It’s believed the word came to English from Dutch influence, as modern Dutch has the same word and earlier, Middle Dutch has spooc, ghost. There are several similar words in other Germanic languages, but it’s unknown exactly where it came from.

Zombie
Now, this word is special because unlike most English words, it didn’t come from Europe. It showed up in 1871 and it’s definitely West African in origin. When it first showed up, it was the word for a snake god. The whole undead thing was from the influence of either Voodoo or Creole.

Sources
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Albert Valdman’s page at the Indiana University website

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Things Not to Have in your Twitter Profile

Another Twitter post because honestly, I just keep stumbling across some bizarre things. I don’t know how people do it on The Face Book, but on Twitter, the skill is being able to describe something in 140 characters, or 160 for your profiles. It can be a challenge, yes, but don’t trip into the following Profile Pitfalls:

1. Don’t have nothing but hashtags.
#writer #person #something else #a bunch of other things #all in one word #so what I’m doing here is a little misleading #but you get it
Somehow I have doubts about your writing ability if your profile only has one word hashtags. PS: same goes when you have nothing but nouns punctuated by commas.

2. Nothing but links to your book.
www.buybookone.com, www.buybooktwo.com, www.buybookthree.com, www.doitnow.com, www.seriouslyiknowwhereyoulive.com
It’s one thing to promote your books. It’s quite another when there is literally nothing about you. To me, this seems like a red flag that this person is going to do nothing but spam tweets with these same links in them, and sometimes I like to actually connect with people on Twitter.

3. Nothing but shortened links.
www.acoupleofletters.com (really www.younowhaveavirus.com)
I don’t like shortened links. You don’t know where they lead to and it’s like picking up some strange in a bar: it could be all right, but it could also infect you up the wazoo. I generally do not follow back people with shortened links. It’s another red flag that you’ll be spammed, and it’s probably not going to be something as innocuous as book promotions.

4. A quote from somebody else.
“Something really deep.” Misattributed author.
Generally, these tweeters also have nothing but quotes as their tweets, too. Back when I first started on Twitter and didn’t really get was going on, I followed a few of these people. I got nothing but spam DMs. Lesson learned.

5. Really creepy descriptions.
I like fairies, and unicorns, and skinning people alive, and wishing wells.
Okay, that’s exaggerating, but you get the idea. Someone once followed me with the description of both “14 year old” and “amateur psychoanalyst.” There’s just something off about that. How about this one: “I WILL ELIMINATE YOUR NEGATIVE ENERGIES!” It’s almost a threat.


Okay, so that’s all for today. Remember, if you’re on Twitter or might be someday, don’t be a spammer. Or a creep. Really, really don’t be a creep.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween 2013

Only five days until Halloween! Yay! Can you tell I’ve been excited about it? So in keeping with this month’s tradition of sharing scary things on Saturday, here’s the most frightening things I’ve come across this year:

Scariest Video Game
The Last Door, chapters 1 and 2, a gothic horror game about a man trying to determine what happened to his boarding school friends. Has the bonus of also being a great story in its own right.

Scariest Horror Short
Proxy. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I told you about the Slender Man shows on YouTube? This is another one, but it’s just a short and only about ten minutes long. Totally creep-tastic.

Scariest Horror Short Story
Candle Cove, by Kris Straub. It’s about a bunch of people reminiscing about a bizarre show they used to watch. Trust me, it’s a good one.


Well, share: what are the scariest movies and stories you’ve come across?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Language of Confusion: Still Able

Now it’s time for the end of the two-parter. I’m sure all of you have been on the edge of your seats for the past week.

Formidable
First showed up in the middle of the fifteenth century, coming from the Middle French formidable (if you can wrap your head around that spelling) and the classical Latin formidabilis, terrifying. It comes from the word formidare, to fear, and formido, fearfulness. I guess it makes sense since something formidable is scary to deal with : ).

Impeccable
Came about in the early sixteenth century from the Middle French…impeccable. Come on, they’re not even trying. Anyway, it can also be traced to the Late Latin impeccabilis, which is made up of the prefix in- (opposite of) and pecare, to sin. So it’s “not sinning”, which makes sense for the perfect impeccable.

Inevitable
Showed up in the mid-fifteenth century from the classical Latin inevitabilis, which has pretty much the same meaning. The prefix there is in-, which I already said means not or opposite. The rest of the word translates as avoidable (a word that I’ve already gone over). Long story short, inevitable is a fancier way of saying unavoidable.

Inscrutable
Showed up in the early sixteenth century from the Late Latin inscrutabilis, which means something like unknowable. This is the third time I’ve mentioned the in- prefix, so I’m thinking you get it by now, but scrutabilis comes from scrutari, search, which is also the origin word for scrutiny. Something that is inscrutable is unknowable, so in a sense, it’s impossible to search for.

Liable
Showed up in the mid-fifteenth century. There’s an Anglo-French word liable, but before that, there was no -able. In Old French they have lier, to bind, sometimes metaphorically by obligation, and the classical Latin ligare, to bind or tie. The latter is also the origin word for ligament and ligature, both of which kept the more literal meaning in English.

Malleable
One of the earlier words, it showed up in the late fourteenth century. It comes from the Middle French malleable and the Medieval Latin malleabilis. The latter comes from another word, malleare, to beat with a hammer. I guess they needed a single word for that very specific thing because they used it so much. Anyway, it’s also related to the classical Latin malleus, hammer, the origin word for mallet.

Palpable
Another word from the late fourteenth century. It comes from the Late Latin palpabilis, “that may be touched” and classical Latin palpare, grope. As nonsensical as it might seem, that is also the origin word for feel (apparently feel’s Proto Germanic ancestors switched it from a p to an f…apparently for funzies).

Parable
Remember how I said the word able isn’t related to the suffix -able? Yeah, this is another odd one. Having able in it is just a coincidence. When it first showed up in the mid-thirteenth century, it was spelled parabol, although it did come from the Old French parable. In classical Latin, the word is parabola, comparison, and origin for the math term. The Latin parabola comes from the Greek parabole, which literally means “throw beside”. Para- means alongside and that bole comes from ballein, to throw.

Viable
This word is fairly new, coming around in 1828. It comes from the modern French viable, a mix of vie, life, and the -able suffix.

Venerable
Showed up in the early fifteenth century, coming from the classical Latin venerabilis and venerari, to worship. That word happens to come from venus, beauty or love, like the goddess : ).

Vulnerable
First showed up in the early seventeenth century from the Late Latin vulnerabilis and classical Latin vulnerare, wound. And that’s it. Well, that sure ends things on a boring note.

Sources

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tag!

Yes, after all this time I finally got tagged, and since it means I don’t have to think up an idea for a post, why not? The rules seem to be just to answer the questions and tag three more people, and that’s so easy it’s like not blogging at all.


Now everyone go see Kate Larkindale and give her a virtual hug.

The Questions
What are you working on right now?
Several things. An adult horror project (more than one, really), a YA apocalyptic that’s getting so close to being queryable I can almost taste it, and a YA paranormal/apocalyptic.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?
Well, the horror projects aren’t exactly a book (it’s…complicated). The first YA is about the beginning of total societal collapse through the eyes of a (formerly) sheltered teenager. The third one, which is still pretty fresh, is both paranormal and apocalyptic. I haven’t seen that much.

Why do you write what you do?
I write what I like and I like stories of fear and desperation where there might not be any way out. No, I’m not depressed.

How does your writing process work?
First draft is easy. I sit down, crank up some music, and write. Then comes editing, where I have to fill in the gaps, make notes of what works and what doesn’t, what needs more and what needs less, then I fix all the mistakes I’ve made. At that point it just might be ready to be critiqued by other people, and when I get it back, I start from the beginning of the revision line. Whee.

All right, so who am I tagging?


Just so you guys know I’m thinking of you and if you like, you have a possible blog post mostly written. My gift to you.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Scared Yet?

And in continuing with this month’s theme of things to be scared of, I tracked down a bunch of short stories that are both scary and written by the person you least suspect. Don’t worry. They’re not too scary : P.
                                                                   
The Sandman by E. T. A. Hoffmann. If that name isn’t familiar, he wrote The Nutcracker. He’s not an English writer so it’s a translation, but I think it’s a good one. It’s the longest story I have here, but it’s worth it.

The Birds by Daphne du Maurier. Absolutely nothing like the movie. It takes place in England, the main character is a middle aged man with a family—if you’ve read REBECCA, you know what you’re getting into here.

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner. The horror of this story isn’t fully realized until the end, but it’s skillfully foreshadowed. Like most of Faulkner’s work, it’s full of bitterness and heartbreak, but in this it’s taken to an extreme conclusion, hence the classification as horror.

The Landlady by Roald Dahl. Yes, that Roald Dahl. Like most of the stories here, it’s not straight up horror, but more subtle, and definitely not like any of his children’s books. The best part is, the scare doesn’t sink in until you’re done with the story and have time to think about it.

Miriam by Truman Capote. I’ve always considered Capote to be a literary writer, but here he flirts with the supernatural. I absolutely love this story, because even if you don’t believe in the supernatural, you can still be afraid of what’s going on here.


So those are the greatest, most unexpected scary stories I’ve found. What about you? What kin dof rare gems have you come across?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Language of Confusion: Able

Able is one of those words that’s tacked onto the ends of other words all the time to make them into something else. Now, I won’t be getting into all of them, because there are hundreds, maybe more if you ignore normal grammatical conventions, but I will mention those that aren’t normally seen without able at the end and even those are numerous enough that this needs two parts. Plus the word itself. I mean, duh.

Able
First showed up in the early fourteenth century, coming from the Old French hable/able and classical Latin habilem/habilis, which means something like fit, handy, or adaptable, a different tense of the word habere, have or hold. That h was silent in the Latin and French versions, so it’s no wonder it was dropped from the English spelling. However, that H is still around in another word descended from habere: habit. And what I learned: able and ability are not related to words with the suffix -able. They actually come from the Latin suffices -abilitas and -abilis, which were basically ways to turn verbs into nouns.

Affable
Showed up in the late fifteenth century from the Old French affable and classical Latin affabilis, approachable. The a- comes from the prefix ad-, meaning to in our friend Latin, and the -ffa- comes from fari, to speak, making it a nounizing of “to speak to”.

Amiable/Amicable
Amiable showed up in the mid-fourteenth century while amicable didn’t show up until the early fifteenth century. Both come from the Late Latin amicabilis, friendly, from the classical Latin word amicus, friend, and amare, love. The reason why we have both words is because amiable comes by way of Old French, which dropped the c, while amicable does not.

Capable
This one’s relatively late, not showing up until the mid-sixteenth century. It comes from the Middle French capable and Late Latin capabilis, able to grasp or hold (and totally not related to habere), and the classical Latin capax, with the same meaning we know it as. It can even be traced further back to the Proto Indo European kap, which means to grasp (if you’re capable, you have a grasp of something). In other words, it’s making a noun out of grasp. Kind of like graspable.

Culpable
An early word, coming around in the late thirteenth century as coupable from the Old French…coupable. I guess we weren’t differentiating ourselves enough. Either way, the word comes from the classical Latin culpabilis, blameworthy, and culpare, to blame, both of which stem from culpa, fault.

Despicable
Showed up in the mid-sixteenth century from the Late Latin despicabilis and classical Latin despicari, despise. That word is a combination of de-, down, and spicare (or specere), to look. I guess that makes it to-look-down-upon-able.

Durable
Showed up in the late fourteenth century from the classical Latin durabilis, lasting, and durare, to last. It’s related to endure. Hm, nothing interesting about this one.

Effable/ineffable
Effable, expressible, showed up in the early seventeenth century and is hardly used today, but it was preceded by ineffable, unspeakable, by over two hundred years and that word is still used…well, sometimes. The former comes from the classical Latin effabilis and effari, to utter. Likewise, the latter comes from ineffabilis, literally unutterable. The in- prefix means opposite of. Effabilis is a pieced together word, too; the e- is from ex-, out, and fari, which I mentioned in the affable entry means speak.

Exorable/inexorable
Yep, another one. Exorable, persuadable, showed up in the late sixteenth century, from the classical Latin exorabilis and exorare, to persuade. Inexorable, unpersuadable, showed up earlier, but only by a couple of decades, from (of course) the classical Latin inexorabilis. Like above, the in- means opposite of, and exorare is a mix of ex- (out) and another word (orare, pray).

Whew, that’s a long post, and there’s still more to come. Yay?

Sources