Saturday, August 31, 2013

Guest Post: Roland Yeomans

I am still on my blogcation because when I party for my birthday, I PARTY. Anyway, Roland Yeomans was kind enough to step in with a post of his own. And you're in for a treat because if there's one thing he does well, it's blog posts.

The Native American shamans will tell you that there is power in the use of names -- and death if you use the wrong ones.
Laughing Wolf, a cyber friend, asked what Elu (the name of my hero's blood brother) meant. He told me that in Estonian it means life. I hadn't known that.
I did know that in several Native American languages it means "full of grace." But Elu is only half-Apache {a name meaning 'enemy'}.
His mother is the Turquoise Woman, who was called Gaia by the ancient Greeks. So I was very careful in selecting the name Elu, for there is more to him than even Samuel knows.
Elu in ancient Chaldean encompasses in its Semitic essence, the concept of surpassing might, immense power, and unlimited strength. There is more to Elu than what his surface would suggest.
And such it is with all the names of my major characters.
Their names are portals through which you can view the essence of their natures. As with Samuel and with his one great love, Meilori Shinseen.
{Shinseen being the delicate, exquisite fae controlling Fate and Fortune in ancient Chinese mythology.}
Nor do I hide the significance of those meanings from the reader, as in this excerpt from my Titanic fantasy, RITES OF PASSAGE :
{McCord has sensed someone in great anguish on the upper deck of the DEMETER and has gone to check if there is something he can do.}

I slowed as I spotted a woman, sitting right on the wooden deck by the railing, huddled over something. I wrapped the threads of night tighter about me and stepped closer. The faint smell of jasmine tickled my nose. She was in a long, flowing scarlet and black Victorian gown.

I stiffened as the fog thinned enough for me to make out her slanted eyes, not quite Japanese, not quite Chinese, but a beautiful blend of the two.  Her long black hair was styled up, her eyes were cast down.
She was stroking a dead seagull, its slender neck bent awkward. I guessed that it had hit the rigging in the fog and killed itself, tumbling to the deck.

The woman spoke, and it was as if her vocal chords were velvet. Her accent.  It was like human speech itself was a foreign language to her.
"Poor little creature of air. Like last month, I came upon you too late. Too late."

She spoke as if the two words were a summing up of her whole life. 
There were disturbing depths of sadness in those eyes. Depths in whose darkness swam the monsters which drive us or haunt us or both. Those depths whispered of age more ancient than the Aztecs, more dangerous than even my past. They both called and warned at the same time.

She stroked the bird's head tenderly as if afraid of waking it up. "Oh, to be able to go back to that world of wonder I had before I became wise and unhappy."

She held the limp bird up to her breast and sighed,
"Dreams drift like clouds,
I reach to touch the moon,
I grasp but empty night."

I felt like I was intruding, but I couldn't force myself to step away as she placed the bird back down to her lap and whispered in an accent even stranger than before,
"Little creature of air, I came upon thee just in time to see thee die. Thou art a symbol of my life, a symbol of the futility of all my days."

I couldn’t take her pain any more and dropped the threads of night to step forward. "Not futility, ma'am."

She hushed in a breath as if to scream, stared at me for long silent seconds, then forced out, "I - I did not see you -- Westerner."

"I'm a Texas Ranger, ma'am. We don't learn to move quiet, we don't live very long. I mean you no harm."

Her face became twisted with self-loathing. "You could not harm me any more, mortal."

"You're right there, ma'am. I couldn't bring myself to muss a hair on your head - which is why I couldn't just walk away back into the night before I told you the truth."

Her lips curled bitterly. "And just what is this truth?"

"That you came just in time to give that little bird a precious gift."

She sneered, "And what gift would that have been?"

"It got to die in the arms of one who cared and cried over its passing. How many of us get to die that loved?"

Her face flinched as if I had slapped it. "Not ... very ... many."

I tugged down on the brim of my Stetson. "Yes, ma'am, not very many at all. You weren't futile. You were a blessing."

I turned to go, and she called out to me. "What is your name, Ranger?"

Something told me to keep on walking, but I turned back around, my loneliness overcoming my caution. "Samuel, ma'am. Samuel McCord."

Her face grew haunted. "Samuel, from the Hebrew Shemu'el, 'God Has Heard'."

Her eyes searched mine. "Is your coming a portent that He heard me last month?"

"He always hears you, ma'am. The trick is are you listening?"

Her smile flashed briefly like the gleam of a knife slashing from out of the darkness. "And do you listen, Samuel?"

The way she said my name was like no other way it had ever been said. Her voice sent tingles along the scalp at the back of my neck. I rubbed it self-consciously.

"Me, ma'am? No, I'm too stiff-necked for that."

"Please stop calling me ma'am. It makes me feel my age."

"Well, ma-, Miss, what is your first name?"

She stiffened like I had stepped across a taboo. Her face closed like a fist.  "Those who are permitted call me Meilori." 
Pain flickered in her green eyes.  "'Meilori' Beautiful Laurel.  Even my name is a cruel jest on the emptiness my life has become." 
"Or maybe ... Miss, it's just a promise pointing to the victory your life could become if you don't give up." 
Elu means "Full of Grace" as I've said.  Sam tells Elu he is usually full of something else - which is why his eyes are so brown.  
Elu calls Samuel 'Dyami' (Eagle) representing his silver hair and the Ranger's eternal lonely hunt through life for a nest of his own.  
The rest of you don't have to do this with your names, of course. I did it so that if any cared to look deeper into my novel, they would find layers of meaning and enjoyment that lay hidden just under the surface. It was the old teacher and mentor in me.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Guest Post: Melissa Maygrove

Its my birthday! Whee! So obviously Im not going to be doing any work on my blog. Thats just laughable. Anyway, I managed to sucker convince some of my awesome bloggy friends to step in while Im off celebrating, so without further ado (this will seem more hilarious in a minute), here is the wondrous Melissa:

When Jeanne asked for guest posts, I wanted to help, but my muse was uncooperative. Thankfully, Jeanne stood in. Since I do a grammar series and she’s into etymology, we decided the topic of idioms might be a good fit.

Idioms can be a great addition to your writing, but—if you don’t want your readers to laugh at parts of your story you never intended to be funny—you have to get them right.

One frequently flubbed idiom is: without further adieu.

It's without further ado, not without further adieu.
Ado (n.) means fuss or delay.
Adieu is an interjection meaning goodbye.

Which is correct, one in the same or one and the same?
Answer: one and the same

Ex: Sue’s boyfriend and Tanya’s husband are one and the same.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist. :P

You’re saying something is the same as something else. Think of it as describing something with two adjectives. You wouldn’t say, “Tom is tall in handsome.” You would say, “Tom is tall and handsome.”

And, lastly, my favorite. *grin*


Nip it in the butt.

While nipping someone’s butt might stop them from finishing what they’re doing, the proper saying is nip it in the bud.

Nipping something in the bud means stopping something before it can grow into something larger or worse. Though this saying typically used to refer to something negative, the basic concept is: if you cut off a flower while it’s still in bud form, it can never bloom.

Thanks for having me, Jeanne.
I hope I didn’t scare your followers away.


Headshot & Bio:

Melissa Maygrove is a wife, a mother, a nurse, and a romance writer. She hopes to add ‘published author' to that list soon.



Grammar Police Files:

Twitter (@MelissaMaygrove):

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Random Thoughts

---Last post before my vacation! Yay!
---Marshmallows stop sore throats!
---Anyone else hate that the mallow in marshmallow is spelled with an a instead of an e? No one? Just me then?
---Today’s I-can’t-believe-it headline: Fight erupts between parents at kindergarten graduation. Apparently it started between teenagers, but the parents decided they had to get in on that action.
---No article should ever start “In honor of Geraldo Rivera’s nude selfie…”
---The World Toilet Organization is an actual thing. I’m sure they do good works promoting sanitation, but no one will ever be able to look at that name and not laugh.
---Shel Silverstein worked for Playboy! For forty years!
---“Don’t forget to back up your PC before trying Windows 8.1”. I know they said that because it’s a beta and you should always backup before downloading something still in the testing stage, but I can’t help but believe it’s just because it’s Windows.
---“Yoga in public schools is not religious instruction, judge rules”. I do have to disagree with the judge saying that yoga is akin to other “exercise programs” like dodge ball. No, yoga is nothing like dodge ball. Dodge ball is getting hit in the face with rubber balls for thirty minutes, not exercise.
---People have been naming babies Hashtag, Facebook, and even Like. You can weep for society now.

---Vampire bats adopt orphaned young of other bats (same species I assume, but still, impressive).
---“NY man tried to sell baby on Craigslist”. Apparently he was mad at his girlfriend for not paying him attention and despite being two months old, the baby is less needy than him. The obvious solution for him was to try to sell her baby.
---You might wonder if my Random Thoughts posts are turning into nothing but showcases of disturbing news articles, but the real thing you should be questioning is why I keep finding more links.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Language of Confusion: Adverbs

Adverbs tend to be versions of words that end in -ly, like happily or smartly. If you want to find the histories of those words, all you have to do is look at the root. But you can’t forget the non-ly adverbs—more, less, always, just, often, and are very favorite, very.

More: comes from the Old English mara, same meaning. Mara is what’s known as a comparative. In the same way good is related to better, mara is related to the Old English micel, or great. And believe it or not, micel has a modern form: mickle, a never used word for large (it’s not even in Word’s dictionary).

Less: was laes/laessa in Old English, and like more, was a comparative of laes—small. It comes from the Proto Germanic lais-izo, smaller, and the Proto Indo European leis, small.

Always: showed up in the mid-fourteenth century, although back in Old English it was two words: ealne weg, which literally meant all the way. Fun fact: it used to be just alway. The s appeared in the early thirteenth century, although the non -s form didn’t disappear until just the nineteenth century.

Just: the righteous form of just showed up in the late fourteenth century but the adverb didn’t show up until the mid-sixteenth century. Middle English also used just as a word for exactly or precisely, and Modern English then morphed it to barely.

Often: Showed up in the early fourteenth century as a form of oft that went before vowel sounds, much like a and an. But unlike a and an, often ended up replacing oft almost completely.

Very: these days we mostly use very as emphasis (it’s not just bad, it’s very bad) rather than extremely or high degree like it meant originally. Very showed up in the mid-thirteenth century as verray, which at first meant real or genuine but switched to actual or utter in the late fourteenth century. You might remember that I mentioned very in the truth post a few weeks ago as having descended from the classical Latin verus. To be more specific, verray descends from the Anglo French verrai, the Old French verai, Vulgar Latin veracus, and the classical Latin verax (truthful), which is from verus.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


As I’m sure I mentioned, I started on a new project and instead of being apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, it’s urban fantasy (gasp!) with an apocalyptic twist. Now, I’ve written urban fantasy before, but that was a long time ago, before I had a good grasp on writing. I’m still getting a feel for the story, but I like how it’s going. Plus I realized that it was still speculative fiction, which is most definitely my forte.

But “speculative fiction” is a funny title. Yes, what I’m writing is pretty close to what I usually do, but why are fantasy and apocalyptic under the same classification? If you look at something like LORD OF THE RINGS, you’re not going to mistake it for THE HUNGER GAMES. They’re nothing alike.

It happens that speculative fiction is basically the catch all term for any genre with things happening that don’t really happen. Or, as in the case of alternate history, didn’t really happen.

Then you can get into the subgenres and things get even more complicated. The family tree I posted up there hardly encompasses all the speculative offshoots. Science fantasy, dark fantasy (horror fantasy), and all the crosses with non-speculative genres. Suffice to say, it’s one incestuous family tree.

Really, as a name, speculative fiction doesn’t say much. Science fiction is speculative. Horror is speculative. But science fiction isn’t necessarily horror, nor vice versa. Unless the genres are deliberately joined, like the sci-fi horror movie Alien, they are separate creatures that for some reason share the share a genre.

Sometimes I wonder if speculative fiction is needed at all. The term, of course, not the books. I think we all know how important those are! But why such a broad classing? Is it necessary? Or useful? I’m not so sure. What do you think?

Saturday, August 17, 2013


As a writer, I have to spend a lot of time researching my posts so as not to make an ass of myself when people read what I write. Some of the subjects are bizarre (what explosive decompression feels like), some are gross (pretty much every medical issue I’ve looked up), and others are probably putting me on government watch lists (I’ll leave this one to the imagination). But, in the name of writing, I am happy to have a questionable search history. It’s all for the sake of the book.

Now, I usually start researching by going to Google, because come on, what else am I going to do? Like most search engines, Google will fill in the blanks when I start typing in the search box. Usually this is helpful, but have you ever noticed how alarming some of the fill-ins are? And keep in mind, fill-ins appear based on the most popular searches. It leaves some questions. Like what the hell is going on in the world today. Don’t believe me?

Exhibit 1: When will…

Ios 7, okay. “When Will I See You Again” is a song, so sure, makes sense. But really people, do you think Google is going to know when you’re going to croak or the world is going to explode into a hellscape of nothingness? I know it’s hard to believe, but Google isn’t God.

Exhibit 2: Why am I…

This one just seems like a cry for help.

Exhibit 3: Is it possible…

I believe my reaction to this one can best be described as o__O.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I’ve Found More Words that are Easy to Confuse

I love these posts. Mostly because they’re easy.

Yes, I actually saw these mixed up. No, I didn’t freak out and rip my computer in half. But it was close. It should be easy to tell them apart. After all, patients is the plural of patient while patience is a completely different thing. It is easy to think “patience” and replace it with the homophone, though.

Maybe/may be
I often confuse when it’s appropriate to use “may be” rather than “maybe”. It doesn’t help that they’re both related to probability. However, maybe is an adverb, so if I’m ever unsure which to use, I ask whether “possibly” would fit. “Maybe Sharknado is even worse than Plan 9 From Outer Space”. Possibly fits, so maybe is right. But switch two of those words around: “Sharknado maybe even worse than Plan 9 From Outer Space”. Nope. Possibly doesn’t fit, and it’s missing a verb. So that should be “may be”.

This one is at least easy to learn. Preposition is one thing and one thing only: a part of speech. Proposition is a proposal, an offer, a plan. They’re not true homophones, but they are only one letter off from each other. Just remember: propose, two o’s, unless you’re talking about grammar.

There is indeed a difference. Comic means funny because comedy was its aim (like telling a joke), but something that is comical is funny whether or not it was intended to be (like telling a joke so badly that it makes no sense and people laugh at the inanity). All comic things are comical, but not all comical things are comic.

More homophones of words that have nothing in common. Flare is fire, glowing, or expanding (like a skirt might flare out). Flair is more abstract. It’s a talent or a skill. To tell them apart, I always remember that flare is something that happens (a fire flares or a funnel flares at the end) and flair is not.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Question and Answer Period

Last week when I did a post on believability, Dianne and then Roland mentioned LOST, my third favorite show of all time, and since once I get started thinking about LOST I can’t stop, I decided to do a post on that shows favorite viewer hook: questions.

LOST was a show of mysteries and unlike procedural and crime dramas, it didn’t have them all answered by the end of the episode—or the end of the series. This frustrated a lot of people, not me, because I’m weird like that, but a lot of people felt cheated or just dissatisfied.

That’s the problem of having a series where the driving force is the what ifs, the whys, the hows. People tune in because they get hooked on wanting to know the answers. But answering the questions gives them limits. People might say it’s an ass pull or worse, the dreaded Deus ex Machina. And you can’t go back without inducing a retcon, and come on. That’s even lazier than a Deus ex Machina. So answering means everyone is stuck with what’s given, but never knowing, whew. No worries there. Hence, creators of massive mystery shows will probably avoid answering anything, at least until the clamor gets loud enough, and then you get stuck with something like Twin Peaks.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid questions in your own works, my writerly friends. But I’d make sure the answers make sense, not just to you but to the reader. Otherwise, you’re stuck with an evil smoke monster that can turn into dead people.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Visit from the Spamfiles

Because sometimes I have trouble coming up with ideas for posts.

Anyway, the SpamFiles isn’t taking Tumblr by storm, but I’m still enjoying it so I guess it’s all good. I’ve posted over a hundred times there already, because spam is nothing if not everlasting. Also repetitive. And insane.

Take a look at these gems:

I love this one for its rambling inanity, which you will see better if you click on the image. It clearly went through an online translator. Probably more than once. 

Click to embiggen.

The best part is “It had already been confirmed to be efficient when the triglycerides, to the blood and convert it to electricity.” As I said on the SpamFiles, holy crap, the Matrix was right!

Okay, I’m not sure what it’s saying exactly (talk about adverb overload), but I think it’s an insult...

No trip to the SpamFiles would be complete without the obligatory “Let me give you money!” letter. I assume that whatever language this was (badly) translated from capitalizes nouns because there are a lot of extra capital letters in there. I like how “she” is trusting me not to just keep the money for myself, like “Mwa-ha-ha, after she dies, all the money will be mine and all I have to do is send her ten thousand dollars first. It’s a foolproof plan.”

Click to embiggen.

Oh, spam. You so crazy.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Language of Confusion: Colorful

I can’t believe I haven’t done colors before! There’s got to be a few interesting (term loosely applied) stories there.

Black: The adjective form of the word showed up first, coming from the Old English blaec, dark, or the word for the color we know it as (which explains why we call black black). While I can’t find a specific date for adjective black, the verb, as in blacken, came into being in the early thirteenth century. Before Old English, it was the Proto Germanic blakaz, burned, and Proto Indo European bhleg, burn, gleam, or flash (and, somewhat ironically, the origin word for bleach). In any case, the general thinking is that something burned was dark, so that’s how a word for burned morphed over the years into black.

Red: The noun showed up in the mid-thirteenth century and the adjective sometime before that. In Old English it was read, with the same meaning, Proto Germanic had rauthaz, and way back in Proto Indo European there’s reudh, again same meanings.

Orange: This should be interesting because it’s not just a color but a fruit—in fact orange the color didn’t show up until the mid-sixteenth century. Orange the fruit showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Old French orange/orange, which was taken from the Medieval Latin pomum de orenge and before that the Italian arancia/narancia. The reason for the N switch is because it’s what’s known as a faulty separation, where a word and the article preceding it switch where the n is supposed to be (an apron was originally a napron).

Yellow: This is also from Old English, but the word was geolu/geolwe. The g seems to be in all the ancestors of the word, from the Proto Germanic gelwaz to the Proto Indo European ghel, which is a word for both yellow and green. As for why it changed to a y, I have no idea. Being of Germanic origin, the g is probably hard, so I don’t know how that gets around to a y. Maybe our quota of colors starting with g was filled.

Green: While ghel is both green and yellow, our word green has a slightly different origin. It comes from the Old English grene or groeni, which comes from the West Germanic gronja and Proto Indo European ghre, or grow, as in plants. It’s theorized that yellow comes from a word also meaning green because vegetation changes from green to yellow.

Blue: We actually have a date for this one! Blue showed up in the early fourteenth century as bleu or blwe, from the Old French blo, which means pale, blond, discolored, or blue. From there it can be traced to the Proto Germanic blaewaz and Proto Indo European bhle-was, which was “light” colors like blue, blond and yellow. I guess we use it for the blue color because we came up with another word for yellow : ).

Purple: In Old English it was purpul, although originally it was purpure/purpuren. What happened is what’s known as a dissimilation, which means that speakers changed the sound of one syllable to make it different from the other. You can see where purpure comes from when you look at the classical Latin purpura and further back the Greek porphyra, both with the same color meaning.

White: Back to Germanic origins with this one. White was hwit in Old English, and khwitaz in Proto Germanic, and before that kwintos/kwindows, meaning bright, in Proto Indo European.

That’s it for colors this week. Maybe in another post, I’ll do more shades. I think it’s interesting that purple and orange are the only one with a clear Latin influence, and even they have forebears in Greek and Italian. Usually you can’t look at the etymologies of English words without tripping over the Roman tongue.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August Goals

Alas, this month was not as successful as previous months. Yes, it’s my fault for getting distracted by yet another project. Plus there was a week when it was reeeeeeeeeeeeeally hot out, like close to a hundred degrees and super humid. Surprisingly enough, melting from the temperature is not conducive to writing.

Anyway, let’s see what I did…

July Goals

1. Finish going over suggestions from previous readers for COLLAPSE. Maybe try to find more critique partners. I’ve got some good feedback, but I don’t know if four is enough (especially when I don’t have them all back yet).
Oh wow, I totally failed here, mostly because I completely forgot about searching for more crit partners. Um, whoops?

2. Be more present in social media. Mostly I want to leave more comments, respond to every one I receive, and return the favor.
Did this. I’m commenting more and responding to almost every one (the few I don’t is because some people don’t connect their web pages to their profiles and I can’t find them).

3. Add 20K more to New Project and finish combining the new and the old versions.
Did not do this. I worked more on the rewrite, but then I started working on a completely different project. I got that one done and even worked on yet another, but this goal is a total fail.

So it’s a failure in the sense that I have not been working on the goals I was supposed to be working on. I got quite a bit done, but not exactly on the correct things. Part of it is wanting a break from dystopian/apocalyptic writing—yes, really. Although the new idea I have is still more than a little apocalyptic…

August Goals

1. Keep on social media and keep searching for more beta readers for my YA apocalyptic. I really hope I remember it this month. Not that I know how to go about doing so…well, the goal should be to figure that out, then.

2. Add 20K to new project. It’s a paranormal with an apocalyptic twist because I can’t really stray that far.

3. Add 10K to my horror side project. Also, maybe reveal the horror story I wrote to you guys.

And the fourth goal: take a break. Honestly, I’m really busy this month outside all of my writing stuff, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to get done.

Anyway, what are you doing this August? Are you enjoying your last full month of summer (or winter, if you’re below the equator)?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Death Knell

For, like, the second or third time, the death knell of cursive has been sounded. The so-called faster, more fluid way to write is being replaced in elementary school curriculums by (gasp) typing and computer literacy.

As I made abundantly clear in an earlier post, I am not a fan of cursive. Learning it didn’t help me write (my handwriting is still a “child-like scrawl”) and it never made me any faster. Plus all that instruction never let me decipher cursive writing any better. The m’s and n’s look the same! And if someone forgets the dot over the i, forget being able to figure out if it’s an e or an o. And is it a d or is it a c and an l? You’d think context would be able to help me figure this out, but I’d have to be able to understand the rest of the sentence first.

And the nerve, replacing it with typing. It’s not like I can type sixty words a minute on a slow day and actually understand what’s on the page.

Damn these new-fangled ways of communication! There’s no way a text or an email can be filled with as much thought and consideration as a letter just because it’s faster. Soon those beautiful, curved letters forming coherent sentences will be replaced by txt spk and no 1 wll b abl 2 undrstnd ech othr NEmre. Except the people who take the time to understand text speak. For the rest of you, that sentence is just an unbreakable cipher, isn’t it?

Seriously, I don’t even know if that’s real text speak. I’m actually one of those people who spells out everything. But still, I get the gist of it a lot more than I understand cursive.

So, in summation, good riddance, cursive, and the hand cramps you gave me. I’ll stick with the carpal tunnel from spending all day at the computer, thank you.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Language of Confusion: The Truth

First of all, still looking for guest posts. Anyone? Please? Let me know.

Obviously nothing will be as great as last week’s union/onion revelation, but that doesn’t mean we don’t etymologize words.

So. Truth. I don’t have a date for it, but it meant “something that is true” in the mid-fourteenth century and accuracy or correctness in the mid-sixteenth century. In Old English it was triewð (ð is eth, a former letter for the th sound when it sounds like in the word “this, making this word triewth) or treowð (treowth), where it meant faithfulness or being true. Not a big leap. 

We can go into more depth when we look at the word true’s history. Triewð and treowð up there are both from the Old English word for faithful or trustworthy, triewe/treowe—the differences are due to the different dialects that made up Old English prior to the eleventh century, one being West Saxon (southern England, also the main dialect in the country) and the other Mercian (central England). It comes from the Proto Germanic trewwjaz, having good faith, and is thought to derive from the Proto Indo European dru, the word for tree (apparently the reason is because the idea is something like “steadfast as a tree”, but that’s all speculation).

Honestly, I’m just surprised Latin doesn’t play a part in this one. There’s not even any Greek, the other standby for the origins of English words. Although it’s, ahem, true that the classical Latin word for true, verus, did give us words like verify, very, veritable, and all the words they’re related to.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English