Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reflections 2012

Way at the beginning of the year I made a list of goals I hoped to reach by the end of the year. I…have a bad feeling about this.

1. Finish editing GLITCH.
            This includes working on all the notes I have, more beta reads, more critiques, checking word usage, finish making it make sense, making sure it all pops like firecrackers, another grammar check, and the final polish. There’s probably more but I’ve blocked it from my mind for sanity reasons.
            Sigh, I didn’t finish, although I did make a lot of headway. Overall, I’d put it at 90% done, but unfortunately without much input from beta readers (so it's probably a bit less than that in reality). That last one isn’t so much my fault as bad luck. I’m hoping this year I can find someone who doesn’t get sick, disappear, or absolutely hate my main character.

2. Write another book.
            Maybe two if I do NaNo again this year. I’m not quite sure what it is that I’ll write (one of the consequences of being a panster), but I had one of those magical sparks that might be Something Good. If it’s still in my head in a few months, I’ll see where it goes.
            Yep and yep. Like in 2010, the second book was much shorter only about 40K, but since the first one is close to 100K right now, I think it’s okay.

3. Start editing above book.
            I only say “start” because GLITCH has a lot more edits to go through and I want to really finish it. So…many…edits.
            Yes, I’ve started. Sadly, I’ve probably neglected GLITCH more than I should have, although it was more than laziness that made me do so.

4. Write a query letter for GLITCH.
            And it has to be good! This will have to be sent to be critiqued too.
            Through something out of my hands (a book with the same title and a similar plot point), I’ve decided not to query GLITCH right now.

5. Send out queries for GLITCH.
            I hope. If life gets in the way again, I may have to resort to death. Of myself, others, all life in the universe…whatever gets in my way the most.
            Same as above. I’m disappointed about that, but I don’t think it’s query ready anyway. Not being ready is a big failure on my part.

6. Make significant progress towards taking over the world. Do absolutely nothing that will elicit international scrutiny.
            You saw nothing.
            Heh heh heh.

7. Join in more blogfests.
            I think it will help make more blogging friends and that’s always fun.
            This was an utter failure. I didn’t join a single one after the Mini-Platform Building Campaign last February! I’d like to say it’s because I didn’t see any that interested me, but in truth I think it’s just because it’s hard for me to be social, even online. Sigh…resolution not achieved…

So overall, I completed about fifty percent of my goals. A failing grade, yes, but only if you don’t scale. Does life grade on a curve? I sure hope so.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Language of Confusion: Define

My last etymology post for 2012. Sunrise, sunset. [wipes tear] For this, um, let’s say “momentous” occasion, I decided to go with define as it seems like the only thing more meta to look up would be the word etymology.

Define showed up in the late fourteenth century with two meanings: to specify and to end. It comes from the Old French defenir, meaning to terminate or determine. Further back in classical Latin we have definire, which has the varied meanings of to limit, to determine and to explain. Funny how defining something can also give it limits : ).

The reason for the limit definition makes more sense when you look at the pieces of the word. De- is a prefix that in this case means completelyand finire means to limit or come to an end. Or finish. So why does an explanation for something attached to a word that means limit? Well, it’s just how the word was used. It started in the fifteenth century as the “essential nature” of something and from there progressed to the meaning of words and then what something means in general.

Oh, and yes, definite is from the same word. I guess when you’re sure about something, it’s “defined”. Aren’t words fun?

Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays!

For me that means Christmas. For you, whatever you celebrate. Have a happy and safe holiday and please remember not to drink and drive.

As always, I’m going to post something special for Christmas and I figured, why not now? I’m not going to be around on the 25th, so I don’t expect you to be either. I figured I might as well leave this up until etymology Thursday and not have to come up with a new post. It’s called efficiency laziness. No, wait, I was right the first time.

Anyway, here’s the Seven Deadly Sins (Of Writing). As always, click to embiggen.

Fact Check Fail

Critiquer Flaming
“Die for not understanding my vision!”

Sales Envy

Review Padding
Word Abuse

Advance Greed
“Five hundred dollars? For giving you the privilege of publishing my work I should be getting five hundred thousand dollars!”
PS. This is my 500th post :D. I think it’s pretty well representative of the whole.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Digraph

I think there is no pair of letters more confusing than g and h, though c and h are a close second. But why do we have this pair that can be pronounced “f” as in laugh, or isn’t pronounced at all like in bough or through. And if it’s at the beginning of the word like in ghoul, it’s just a plain g sound (apparently the h is there just because). Seriously, it’s like those two letters combine to cast a spell on pronunciation.

See, back in the old days, gh used to be what’s called a “voiceless velar fricative”. Or in normal terms, it’s a sound you make without the vocal cords (voiceless) with the back of your tongue on the roof of your mouth (velar) using the friction of a forced breath (fricative). The best way to think about it is pronouncing the Scottish word loch. Feel that hardness on the ch? That’s a voiceless velar fricative. However, over the years we softened it and moved from saying it in the back of our mouths to our teeth, making it into an f sound like in rough, laugh, or tough.

The silent pronunciation, where the letters just seem to be there to hang out, has little reasons if you look into etymologies. Though, for example, came from a word that was just “tho”. Similarly if you look at thoughtyou can see that in Old English it was spelled (basically) as “thoht”, with an h to give it breath. Same with fought, where you find that in Old English it was fohten. And if you remember my scare-themed etymology post, the word frightcomes from fryhto, a misspelling of fyrhtu.

That doesn’t explain much, does it? Unfortunately, this is as close to a reason as we get with the whole gh thing. The thing those words have in common is that in Old English, they were pronounced with that guttural, hard H sound. Modern English evolved after the printing press for the first time made grammar and style an issue. In order to get that hard H across, they paired it with G. We may not say it anymore but English is too old to change now. We’d just get confused.

PS. Since tomorrow is the end of the world, I suppose this is my last post ;). We had a good run. If only the Mayans thought to make their calendar longer! Or, you know, roll back to zero. What? That’s actually how it works? I have to think up a post for Saturday? Hm. I wonder why THAT wasn’t posted all over the news.

Tony Jebson’s page on The Origins of Old English

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I don’t know about any of you, but recent events have hit me hard. I’m oversensitive in general and even though I don’t know anyone who’s been affected, just hearing about twenty children losing their lives makes me want to burst into tears. Since I’m too emotional to get the words out right, I’ll just say two things:

1. Guns are pointless. You can call it self-defense but that’s just sugar-coating the reality. They are designed to hurt as quickly and brutally as possible and there are far better, safer ways to protect yourself.

2. The reason these tragedies happen is NOT because “God has left America”. Just because people aren’t religious doesn’t mean they are evil and just because people are religious doesn’t mean they are good. The people who do these types of things are evil because they have no value of human life, and I don’t even think God could teach them that.

That’s all. I hope everyone you love is safe and well.