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!


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.

            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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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”.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


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.


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?