Saturday, June 29, 2013


While brushing my hair the other day, I noticed something disturbing…


I found it on my head among all the brown strands.

It is not brown. It is not any color. It is white.

It is my first gray hair.

It reminds me that my mother has been dyeing her hair since I was born (when she was thirty one) because of how gray she was. My sister hasn’t sported her actual hair color in a decade, so I assume she has no idea whether or not she’s graying, and if I had to guess, I’d say that’s on purpose. And now, with me not even twenty seven yet, I may very well be on my way to my legacy.

I’m going to go cry myself into a gallon of Peanut Butter Cup ice cream now.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Language of Confusion: Comedic Drama

These words seem like they’ll be fun : ). And because it’s a beautiful day out (at least where I am), I’m making this quick.

Comedy showed up in the late fourteenth century from the Old French comedie—meaning poem—and the classical Latin comoedia. Now, that lineage isn’t unique among the etymologies of English words, but there’s more to it this time. Latin took their word from the Greek komoidia, comedy or farce. It’s related to komodios, an actor or singer, komos, revel or festival, and aoidos, minstrel or vocalist (and also related to ode). This means that the Greek and Latin versions of comedy were similar in meaning to what we now use comedy for. It was Middle English that twisted everything up, giving it the meaning of an epic poem like Dante’s Divine Comedy. It wasn’t until 1871 that English “restored” it to its original meaning.

Drama showed up in the early sixteenth century from the Late Latin drama, a play or drama, and the Greek…drama again. They did not get creative with this one. Like in Latin, the Greek drama meant play like we would think, but also action or deed, likely because it comes from another word, dran, which meant do a significant deed. Dran can also be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European dere, to work.

TL;DR: Comedy was funny, then it wasn’t, then it was again. Drama, however, is just plain work.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Before I actually start talking about today’s subject, I have to say that I find the word “snark” really odd looking. It’s like sound you make when you’re blowing your nose.

I…I think weird thoughts sometimes.

Anyway, snark. In particular, snarky characters. In even more particular, snarky teenage protagonists. Although I can’t think of any off hand, I’ve heard this is a common trait for YA main characters and it’s both overdone and uninteresting. This of course ties my insides into a knot because I have a snarky MC.

I can understand why people might be turned off by yet another sarcastic MC, especially in the first person point of view. The thought is that the snarky voice is used so much because it’s an easy way to sound like a teenager when in reality you’re in your thirties and have three children under the age of eight.

But for me, it wasn’t about trying to sound like a teenager. My character’s sarcastic because, as anyone who has read any of my blog posts knows, I’msarcastic. Shades of snark show up in all my characters, especially my main characters, and not just the YA ones either. For me, part of crafting voice is using my own way of talking and thinking, which in my head is ninety percent complaining and making fun of stuff. And if I changed the snark in COLLAPSE, for example, I think it might lose something.

Is that true? I’m not sure, but it definitely merits thinking over. And yes, I’m going to finish with some questions. What do you think of the sarcastic teenage voice? Do any of you have examples of snarky main characters in fiction (YA or not)?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Random Thoughts

---“Cicadas set to overrun East Coast”…this summer is not going to be fun.
---It’s also known as the “Cicadapocalypse”.
---“Aught” means both something and nothing. I know I’ve mentioned this before. I just find it fascinating.
---“Woman arrested for slapping wrong child at school”. I don’t think you’re allowed to do that even if it’s the right child.
---“Big Newly Discovered Spider as Big as Your Face”. It also latches hold of your head and lays an alien in your chest. I assume.
---Seriously, as big as your face. AS BIG AS YOUR FACE.
---Verizon patented a cable box that uses infrared to watch people for specific activities while they watch television so they can target advertisements. The activities? Talking, laughing, singing, and playing an instrument among other things. Laughing I get. Talking—maybe, if the show’s boring or someone won’t shut up while I’m watching Criminal Minds, dammit. But who the hell sings or plays an instrument in front of the television?
---There are also apparently programs that try to detect how expensive your computer is and try to target ads based on it. Which explains why I’m always getting “Go back to school and earn more!” ads.
---China is now censoring the word “censorship” from its internet. So now they won’t know they’re being censored, I guess.
---The Founder of 99 cent stores died. I don’t like to make jokes about deaths, so I’ll just point out that he turned that idea into a billion dollar empire.
---A school in Washington state canceled classes due to the weather. That weather being sunshine. Perhaps they were afraid of the strange orb of fire in the sky.

While helping my mom move furniture (seriously, I hate when she takes vacations):
Her: This is impossible to move. There are no handles!

Me: It’s a desk.

…As big as your face.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Language of Confusion: Sort

No fancy introduction today. Let’s just get into it. Yay words!

Sort has two definitions, a noun meaning type or kind and a verb meaning arrange or organize. The verb showed up in the mid-fourteenth century and the noun a few decades after. Verb sort comes from the Old French sortir and classical Latin sortiri and noun sort comes from the Old French sorte and classical Latin sortem. Both sortiri and sortem come from another word sors, which means lot or fate, and can be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European ser, the ancestor word for series.

Assort showed up in the late fifteenth century as assortir, from Middle French this time, although Old French does have the equivalent in assorter. Interesting to note: there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent in Latin, making French the creator of assort. Anyway, the a- prefix is from ad-, which means to-, and sorte is just kind or class, so it means something like “to classify”.

Consort showed up in the early fifteenth century meaning “partner”. It comes from the Middle French consort, Old French consorte, and classical Latin consortium, all with a meaning of partner or wife (and in the Latin case, also comrade and brother or sister). It’s a mix of the prefix com-, with, and sors, lot. When you have a lot with someone, they’re your partner : ).

These days, resort is more commonly a word for a vacation spot, but that meaning came around in 1754, four centuries after the other resort, a place to go for aid. It comes the Old French resort, resource or help, which comes from resortir—to resort. The prefix re- means again, shockingly enough. But here’s where things get interesting: sortir doesn’t mean type or class like it does above, but rather “go out”, and that sortir comes from the Vulgar Latin surctire and classical Latin surgere (surge). I can’t find evidence that sort sortir and resort sortir are related, and it kind of looks like they’re not.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Summer is here, and with the changing of the season, perhaps it’s time to refresh things. Buy a new toothbrush. Give the house a good cleaning. And…update your blog?

Yes, definitely. Most of my interaction with my own blog is by hitting the post button or responding to comments. I don’t often check all the other pieces that make up my blog. So here’s my tips for seasonal “blog cleaning”:

1. Make sure your contact info is up to date. How will people contact you and tell you your email address isn’t working? You should update your profile, too.

2. If you link to other blogs on your site in any way, make sure they’re all still updating. So many people disappear from the internet that you can end up with a blog roll that stretches down forever, filled with sites that haven’t updated in over a year.

3. Make sure any links you have are working, as well as any gadgets you may use. Last year my Twitter gadget stopped updating with my tweets. I’m not even sure how long it had been broken for! It’s also no good if you have a link to your latest book and anyone who clicks on it gets a message saying 404: File Not Found.

4. Keep things interesting! Change your format, your picture, themes. Maybe add new pages. (I have to admit, this is the one I often skip…but “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” probably isn’t a good way to run a blog)

Okay, I suppose that’s it, unless one of you has something else to add—by all means, share. Don’t let your blog languish!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Life in the Electronic Age

E-books are a wonderful idea. It’s easy for anyone to get published…which also means it’s easy for anyone to get published, even people who have no idea what they’re doing, but that’s not what I’m here to complaintalk about. This time. No. Rather, the wonderfulness of being able to carry around a thousand books in a e-reader, often (but not always, yet another digression) purchased more cheaply than a print edition, is offset by the fact that you’re buying that copy of the book only for that particular e-reader. Legally, you can’t transfer it to another tablet/computer. Ever. Even if your old one is woefully out of date, you can’t download your purchased e-copies to your new model.

It’s called DRM—Digital Rights Management. It’s designed to protect media producers, whether they be writers or musicians or whatever, making it illegal for you to purchase something and then email it to all your friends so they have copies they didn’t pay the artist money for. In theory, it’s a good idea. Having an e-copy isn’t like purchasing a book in the store. If you loan that out, the person probably isn’t going to spend six hours at a copier to make their own book they didn’t have to pay for. Until DRM came along to lock it out, copying an e-book was just as easy as hitting Ctrl-V.

The only thing is, now you can’t even transfer it among your devices, or give your copy away. I get that piracy is a bad thing and is difficult to deal with, but in an age where computers and game systems last maybe five years before the new model is announced, it’s unfair to consumers to have to trash all their previous purchases if they want a new device. It’s especially sucky when Apple has been accused of price gouging with e-books and the new Xbox One won’t be backwards compatible.

Sadly, this isn’t going to change anytime soon, and things will probably grow more restrictive. Say goodbye to copying songs from your laptop to your desktop to your new laptop. If you break your e-reader, you break however many books you bought with it. Oh, and in the United States it’s illegal to try and get around a DRM scheme (seriously, that’s what they’re called). So have fun with that.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

There are Still More Words that are Easy to Confuse

Is it that time again already? I feel like I’ve just done this, but sometimes I see a word and go “no, that’s not what it’s supposed to be” and then I go a little crazy. Well, crazier.

I think this is another one Lizmentioned months ago. If you’ll remember my post about “nothing”, aught is a version of the word naught that got the n dropped off. But it’s also a completely different word that means “anything whatever”, “any part”, or “at all”. Then we have ought, which basically means should. How do you tell them apart? Um…you know what? People don’t use them much anymore. Let’s just erase them both from existence. That should do it.

Darn homophones. They make everything so confusing. But taught is what a teacher does (in the past tense). Taut is what a rope does. A teacher with a rope has taught with a taut piece of line. You don’t mess with that teacher.

Although the ea digraph has a few different pronunciations (think of read or lead), the ee one only has one, the long e, and because wreak is like the present tense read, these two are also homophones. Reek goes with smell (two e’s, two l’s), and wreak goes with havoc (no clever way to remember this one, sorry, but it has nothing to do with odor so you should be able to keep them straight that way). And for bonus confusion, there’s also wreck.

If a hotel offers a “Bridle Suite” be very suspicious. See, bridle is what goes on a horse. Bridal is what has to do with a wedding. I always thought these words were confusing because bridle has an e in it like bride, but it was pretty easy to train myself to remember which is which. Sadly, I’ve seen evidence that not everyone has done this…


The annoying part of these words is that they sound nothing alike. Deck-a-dent and de-see-dent, because c is an annoying letter that sounds like both kuh and suh and we should just get rid of it. Always, always double check them (and I’m talking to myself here, but feel free to do so yourself).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


A conversation with Andrew brought something to light for me: dystopian and post-apocalyptic are separate genres. Previously I took post-apocalyptic as a sub-genre of dystopian since if you look it up in the dictionary, it’s defined as “a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding”. Post-apocalyptic societies, at least the ones I’m familiar with, generally fit the bill.

But! The literary definition of dystopian is different from the definition of the word. A literary dystopia is a place where a governing body enforces a warped idea of perfection. YA Highway had a really good post about the difference between the two.

So while I thought it was this…

It’s really more like this…
With examples! All YA of course.

I think THE HUNGER GAMES really is both—after an apocalyptic event, a dystopian society rose up. Although they don’t enforce perfection as much as they do obedience, I think it fits.

Anyway, post-apocalyptic does not equal dystopian, although I think it would make sense if it did. That is all.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Write Club

Or technically, WRiTE Club.

DL Hammonds is at it again. From now (well, since last Monday) until June 30, you can send in a 500 word writing sample—under a pen name. Thirty two will be selected. Then in July, the “fighting” begins!

In each fight, a pair goes head to head, with the winner being selected from the votes in the comments. However, you have to remember that this is anonymous, so no vote angling allowed. After round one, the winners keep duking it out until one story is crowned champion. Since the winner is chosen by a panel of authors, agents, editors, publishers, and marketers, it’s a good way to get seen.

If you’re interested, head here and sign up. I haven’t entered yet, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to come up with something before then. Remember: before June 30. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Language of Confusion: -fest

I am writing this sentence before actually looking at the words etymologies: please let festive and infest be related. Language owes me this much.

Festive first showed up in the mid-seventeenth century as something specifically related to a feast, with the holiday-merry meaning not coming along until the end of the eighteenth century. It comes from the classical Latin festivus (for the rest of us!), with the same meaning, and festum, which is just festival. And that word comes from festus, the origin word for feast.

Dang. They’re not related after all. Fester showed up in the late fourteenth century from the Old French fester, a pus-leaking sore and no I’m not making that up. Festre actually comes from the classical Latin fistula, which means pipe or ulcer and is even an English word that means "a narrow passage formed by disease or injury".

Infest showed up in the late fifteenth century from the Middle French infester and classical Latin infestare, to attack or disturb, and infestus, aggresive or dangerous. The in- prefix isn’t a stranger around here—it means opposite of in this case. Aggressive certainly sounds like the opposite of a joyous, festive occasion, however that is probably not where that festus comes from. Infestus is actually from infensus, which is related to -fendere, fight or strike, the origin word for defend.

The final -fest word is manifest. These days we mostly know it as a cargo list, but it’s original and now rarely used meaning is evident or easily perceived. Cargo manifest didn’t show up until 1706, but the other manifest came about in the late fourteenth century. It comes from the Old French manifestand classical Latin manifestus, which has about the same meaning. It’s root words are manus, hand, and like infest, the festus that means struck.

TL;DR: Infest is related to defend, not festive. Fester and festival aren’t related to them or each other.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June Goals

June already! 2013 sure has been going by fast. It’s already summer, if not by the date then by the hot, muggy weather.

May was far more productive than April, as you will see:

May Goals

1. Get COLLAPSE out to more beta readers. I do want to fix some things from my reader first, but that shouldn’t take more than two weeks.
Nailed it! Plus I signed up for the WIP It blogfest to meet more potential beta/critiquers. I’d call this one 200% done.

2. Actually follow some more blogs on Tumblr this time. This shouldn’t be that hard! Your weekends are wide open, self!
Yes, I did this. I hoped it would let me meet more people and get more followers, but I’m still stuck at a pitiful four. So I did it, but it’s kind of a fail anyway.

3. Start on rewrite. Maybe. I’m not sure if I’ll have time, but it would stop me from worrying about beta reads. It’s hard sending my baby out on its own!
Also done, with about 20K written in the new version. Another “Nailed It!”

So I did good, although not with all the results I hoped for.

June Goals

1. Finish collecting and giving critiques. This should be easy. I love beta reading.

2. Start posting more at the Spamfiles. I think having more posts will attract more readers. Could it be that other people don’t find spam as amusing as I do?

3. Add 20K more words to my rewrite. Usually first draft writing is easy for me, but I’ve been feeling a little bit of the writer’s block lately. I hope I can do it.

So it’s going good. What does your June look like? Are those of you who are parents drowning in children on summer break yet?