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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.,,,,
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. (really
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.

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 : ).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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 : ).

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.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013


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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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, 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.

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?


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Here I am reviewing a book today because it’s fun and it’s for Roland after all. Yes, he really does have another book coming out, which honestly makes me wonder if he’s some sort of cyborg designed for typing, but it also means there’s a new story to read so yay. It’s called, if you somehow missed the title of this page, HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS and it’s another entry in his Samuel McCord series.


The description, as per Amazon: “Something has awakened in the Badlands. Undying hunger and hatred for Man seethe in the darkness. While below the brooding pinnacles, the first talking Western is being filmed.”

While atmospheric, the first four chapters seemed very much to only exist to introduce figures in the story.
A bit repetitive with words and phrases at time.
There were times that I thought the conversations went on too long, especially in tense situations.

That title is very striking. Seriously, it’s evocative and absolutely perfect for the story.
The beginning felt a bit like telling, but it was also quite good at creating atmosphere for what I was reading. Roland really does a good job of setting the scene and immersing the reader.
Very good voice. It was very easy to imagine McCord simply by the way he speaks in the story. That’s how you know you’ve got a strong voice.

It’s a supernatural story with a western flavor and I would say it’s very worth your time to read. McCord is the ultimate self-sacrificing hero, to the point where I wished the guy would cut himself a break. But he won’t because when the nasties are out there, he won’t let anyone else put themselves in danger. And believe me, there are unpleasant things lurking in the badlands.

My ranking: four out of five skulls (Halloween is approaching, after all).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Meaning of Fear

I enjoy scary movies and such, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not often scared by them. I mean, it’s not like they’re spiders or public speaking. I’m not in real danger, so there isn’t much fear. So when I find something that actually gives me chills, I take note.

Recently, I’ve become quite the fan of the Slender Man Mythos. The Slender Man is basically an eldritch abomination that appears as a tall, faceless man in a business suit. It’s…less ridiculous than it sounds. Those who cross paths with it usually end up in pieces. Or worse.

The two most popular methods of telling Slender stories are via blogs or vlogs (although there has also been a few video games and even movies). There are some good blogs out there, but the vlogs are really where the terror of the Slender Man shines, so I’m going to share with you lucky people the ones that I’m currently following.

In A Nutshell: While reviewing footage of his deceased cousin’s last visit, Noah discovers something stalking Milo. And now it’s set its sights on Noah.
In terms of scariness, this one varies from mild to moderate. It’s more mystery oriented, and unlike some mysteries, there are actually answers. It’s just that they end up being worse than not knowing anything.

In A Nutshell: Four friends decide to post exercise and health videos with a funny background gag of being stalked by a certain tall being. Then their houses get broken into, they find garbage bags filled with body parts, and everyone around them starts dying.
Moderate to very scary. It’s honestly a lot milder at first, but things keep getting worse for the main characters. There’s a lot of mystery, but also a lot of gore, especially later on. If you watch about six videos in, when they’re still trying to do their exercise videos, you’ll see some surprisingly gruesome things. And that’s nothing compared to what’s in store. Seriously, you just have to be amazed at what these guys can do with a shoestring budget.

In A Nutshell: Alex wants to record the strange noises in his house. That somehow snowballs into him and his friend Nick trying to hide from a cult that worships a very nasty being.
For the most part, it’s only mildly scary, but it’s also got a lot going on to keep viewers interested. It’s not as action-y (or gruesome) as Everyman Hybrid, nor is it as what-the-hell-is-going-on?! as Tribe Twelve. Dark Harvest manages to meet somewhere in the middle and give the best of both worlds.

In A Nutshell: Jay is reviewing some footage he got from his old friend Alex. And he’s finding some pretty disturbing things. It only gets worse when he insists upon investigating.

I would call it the scariest one, with episodes ranging from “frightening” to “heart attack”. I think the first video is a good example of what’s to come: it’s disorienting, terrifying, and inescapable. All in something like thirty seconds.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Secret Origins: P

I love doing these. It’s been too long.

P’s kind of a weird letter, as it seems to have changed form in each alphabet that preceded ours. Our Latin version of it comes from an Etruscan symbol that looks more like a backwards 1 (or possibly a 7). Latin took it from the Greek pi, and while these days we mostly know pi as the tiny, table-like Π or π, originally it taller and missing a leg, similar to the Etruscan version.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the Greeks were the first in Europe to create a full alphabet. They based their letters on the Phoenician consonantal alphabet, a cousin to Hebrew. The Phoenician P is more of a hook rather than the angular symbol Greek has, plus it’s also facing in the opposite direction. Why it changed so much is anyone’s guess.

Of course, the story doesn’t end (or begin, rather) there. Phoenician developed in around 1500 BCE, but it was created from an already existing consonantal alphabet called Proto-Sinaitic, which is probably the first of said alphabets to develop. If you look at the .gif again, you’ll see that the Proto Sinaitic symbol probably came from the Egyptian hieroglyph for finger, which is a symbol that again, looks nothing like what we know it as.

TL;DR: P’s form was changed around a lot. I guess no one liked how they wrote it. And PS: it isn’t related to the letter R at all.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Strong Female Characters

What do you think of when someone says “strong female characters”?

I always thought it was a female whose characterization is strong, however I was reading this article, where author Sophia McDougall seems to take issue with females who are strong. In fact, she insists that the former interpretation is being conflated with the latter and females are now being written as fighters in place of actual characterization.

I have to admit, the examples Ms. McDougall cites are accurate. But those examples are also from movies rather than books, and face it, Hollywood isn’t exactly on the ball with progressive female characters in leading roles (certainly not without a male counterpart). Hollywood writes formen because they say women can identify with male characters obviously it’s impossible for men to try to identify with females.

But are books the same? There are some that are. THE HUNGER GAMES series features a female lead who is not physically strong, but still an exceptional fighter with her archery skills. She also has some other characteristics, but Katniss is very much a “strong female character”. But let’s look at another book, the post-zombie-apocalyptic FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. Main character Mary is not a fighter by any means, is involved in a love quadrangle, and spends more time than she should worried about her relationships with the male characters. She is also strong willed, stubborn, resourceful, and emotional. She is a real person. Well, you get what I mean.

What say you about strong female characters? Do you know of any strong characters who aren’t necessarily strong women?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Block and Report for Spam

Actual bios from some people who followed me on Twitter. Shortly before I hit that “Block” button. Are they real people? You be the judge.

The answer, by the way, is no.

Follow me and I will follow you back.
 #teamfollowback #teamretweet #teamunstoppable
For a while, every other follower I had was “team follow back”. Most of them do nothing but spam retweets until they get sent to Twitter jail to give the rest of us a break.

15 | Single |A Boxer | A model | A Nerdy chicky ;) | Snapchat me!!
This has got to be illegal.

Is your name summer? Cause baby, you're HOT! ?????????
Not even trying to make sense.

You know what? No. I don’t think I’ll believe.

#LawOfAttraction, #Money, #TheSecret, #NapoleonHill, #LawsOfSuccess, #ThinkAndGrowRich, #SelfMastery, #MastermindGroup, #Masterminding, #MLM, #Affiliate, #LOA
Nothing but tags. It’s either a cult or a pyramid scheme.

I don’t like fake people and I will ignore you if I think that you are. I live in a city filled with liars. This girl’s careful #TeamFollowBack #KeepIt100
Considering that Team Follow Back is nothing but following people no matter what, I don’t think she’s as careful as she claims.

Life is good but is about to get a whole lot better…..wait and see xx
Oh, this just can’t be good.


im just that amazing n i follow back
But screw grammar!

Ugh. No. Just no.

We sing all the time for follow back . Join us and be part of this great follower hunt. So you will also gaining. #FollowBack #TFB #TeamFollowBack
Not only spammy, but a translator fail, too!

iFollowBack Living life to the fullest, no regrets. Never let anyone tell you that you can't do something, prove them wrong.
I don’t know. “You can’t follow me, I blocked you” is pretty definite.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Language of Confusion: More Colorful

We had most of the standard colors, now it’s time for the rest.

First showed up in the 1570s when it was a common name for a plant. It didn’t emerge as a color until the seventeenth century. For the record, pinkie finger has nothing to do with the color. It’s actually from a Dutch word, pinkje, which means little finger. There’s also the pink that’s part of pinking shears, which isn’t related to pink or pinkie either.

This should surprise no one, but before it was a color, it was just the plant. It showed up in the early fourteenth century, and much like how orange the color derived from orange the fruit, violet comes from the flower.

Showed up in the mid-sixteenth century and shockingly enough, it comes from the Spanish inico, which itself comes from Dutch (indigo) by way of Portuguese (endego). Seriously, that’s how the word came to English. But of course Latin is involved, because indigo and endego come from the classical Latin indicum, taken from the Greek indikon. It literally means blue dye from India. The idea for the color comes from that dye.

This one is absolutely awesome. Teal was originally only a word for a species of small duck. Using it a color didn’t happen until 1923, where it was named for the blue-green colors on the bird’s head and wings.

Comes from the Old English tannian, a word for tanning hide into leather, which was done using tannin. Tannian comes from the Medieval Latin tannare, a word for the color tan which is derived from tannum, crushed oak bark.

First showed up as an adjective coming from the Old English brun, dusky, from the Proto Germanic brunaz and further back, the Proto Indo European bher, shining or brown. Yes, brown really did once mean shining. You know how burnish means to polish something? That has the same origin as brown.

TL;DR: most color names come from things that have the colors.

Ducks Unlimited because of course that’s a thing.
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October Goals

Well, October 1 was the first Tuesday of the month, which means it’s time to post my goals. Which is good, because I didn’t feel like coming up with a post anyway : P. And first, let’s see how I did for September…

September Goals

1. Work on being more social online. It’s hard for me, but I want to be more active on the sites I’ve joined and get myself more out there. Ugh, I’m not looking forward to this.
Not bad? Not exactly a win, but not a loss, either. I’m still on my Tumblr, Twitter, and obviously, my blog, so yay?

2. Add 30K to my new project. I better do it, too!
Okay, this one is more no than yes. I think if you add it up, it was 30K, but it was split between this one and my other one, which was goal number three.

3. Actually add something to the horror side project this time. I also have a few more horror ideas I want to expand (they’re just fragments right now; I’d like some actual thoughts on what to do with them).
Like I said, I worked on my horror side project, and I did pretty well on it, too. This is a total win, although I probably should have focused more on my paranormal apocalyptic.

Not bad, considering it was also a busy month outside of writing. Now for October…

October Goals

1. Finish Horror Project A, also known as Enduring Eternity. Maybe I’ll share it with you guys.

2. Get 30K words down, preferably more in the paranormal apocalyptic than my other horror project.

3. Keep updating my etymology page. Remember all the trouble I had with that? Oh, man, this is not going to be fun.

So that’s it. What are your plans for this month?