Thursday, January 30, 2014

Language of Confusion: Ply-ers

Yes, I’m doing the word ply this week. I like what I did with the title, because not only is plyers a homophone for pliers, a real word, the suffix -er means a person/thing that has to do with something, like laborer to labor. Get it? Funny, right? Hello? Guys?

Ply has three main definitions, work with or at (ply a trade), bend or fold, and a layer of something. The first two showed up in the late fourteenth century are closely related, although in kind of a weird way. “Work with” ply is actually short for another word, applien, which was really used in English at one time. And yes, it sounds a lot like apply, but applien doesn’t come from apply, except in the sense that they both come from the classical Latin plicare, fold, and also where the other ply comes from. The third ply showed up in the mid sixteenth century, coming from the Middle French pli, a fold, and Old French ploi, layer. It also comes from plicare because of that whole fold/bend thing.

Note that this is not something that seems like apples. That would be appley. Apply showed up in the late fourteenth century, coming from the Old French aploiier, same meaning, and the classical Latin applicare, to connect. Plicare, fold, is the root word here, with the prefix a- (or ad-), meaning to or towards. Apply has a lot of different meanings today. You apply for a job. You apply ointment to the affected area. But originally, it meant to put yourself at work towards a task, and a figurative definition of being in contact (i.e. ointment to skin). Interestingly enough, job apply only showed up in the eighteen fifties, although it’s quite similar to the original definition of apply. Well, I think it’s interesting.

Showed up in the late fourteenth century, where it meant enfold or entangle. Seriously. It comes from the Old French emplier and classical Latin implicare, involve. The enfold definition makes sense since plicare means fold and in- means, well, in. Like apply, it just went off in a completely new direction. Latin meant enfolding in the figurative sense, so enfolding in an event (or whatever) would be involving. English kind of took it from there.

Reply showed up in the late fourteenth century with the same definition. It comes from the Old French replier, Late Latin replicare. The re- prefix means back, and with plicare, to fold, it means to fold back again. Like all the other words here, its meaning comes from the figurative use of the word.

Comply showed up in the early fourteenth century, where it meant fulfill or carry out, like one would an order (at least getting to the definition of agreement makes sense from there). Comply was compli in Old French (same definition) and in Vulgar Latin it was complire and classical Latin complere. Notice there’s not a plicare in there? That’s because although comply may have been influenced by ply, it actually comes from complete. Despite what it looks like, it’s not a ply word! It’s actually made up by the prefix com-, with or together, and plere, fulfill.

Supply just happens to be in the same boat as comply. It’s not from plicare but plere, being a combination of sub- (from below) and plere, fulfill. To fulfill from below. I’m going to guess that’s figurative. Oh, and it showed up in the fourteenth century.

TL;DR: There are two origin words for -ply words because we dropped the c from one of them.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What I Learned from Beta Reads

Or, Things I Can’t Believe I Messed Up While Writing, OMG, I’m So Embarrassed.

1. I forget words kind of a lot. Well, it’s every few pages, which seems like a lot to me.

2. No matter how many times I went through my MS, my beta readers will still find grammatical errors. I’m sure it happens to everyone, but man, I felt like I was new at the whole putting words on paper thing.

3. “Accidently” is a word somehow. (My reaction can best be summed up as o__O) And of course I used it. This is why you need beta readers. Because Word has some messed up excuses for words in its dictionary.

4. My favorite way to emphasize something, besides using adverbs, is by saying “managed to”. I could get away with that phrasing once, maybe twice, but any more and it becomes one of those bumps that knocks the reader out of the story.

Seriously, I wanted to crawl into a hole of shame after this. I should get more people to proofread because I do not trust myself after this.

So now we’re at the point where I turn things over to you. What’s your most embarrassing mistake? Anyone ever heard of “accidently”?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The World in Crisis

No, it doesn’t mean the apocalypse this time. But it’s awfully close.

I present to you, The World, Yesterday at 3:24 p.m. EST.

And then everyone went home to start the weekend early.

It was a scary couple of hours.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Language of Confusion: Rest Stop

Rest! It’s a word that’s also part of arrest, and interest, and wrest is probably involved in some way. We also have forest, but since rest is not actually a suffix in that word, it doesn’t count here.

Rest has two main definitions, one meaning sleeping or taking a break, the other a synonym for remaining. Sleep rest comes from the Old English raeste which could mean rest like we know it, bed, or mental calm. It’s prevalent across many Germanic languages, but it’s origins from there are a mystery. However, its Old High German equivalent is rasta, which meant both rest as we know it and “league of miles”, so apparently it also had something to do with distance. What that signifies is anyone’s guess.

There’s also the other rest, the remaining one, if you will. It comes from the Old French rester, to remain, and the classical Latin  restare, stand back or be left. The re is actually the prefix re-, which means back in this case. -Stare means to stand, which survives somewhat in the word stet. The reason these two definitions have the same spelling? Coincidence, plain and simple.

We don’t use wrest much these days. It’s frequentative, wrestle, is far more common. Wrest comes from the Old English wraestlan, where it meant twist or wrench, and the Proto Germanic wraistijanan, a version of the word wrig/wreik, to turn. The idea of removing or detaching didn’t show up until the early fourteenth century, while removing by force showed up in the early fifteenth century. It has absolutely nothing to do with any version of the word rest. I’m just posting about it to fill up space.

Arrest showed up in the late fourteenth century, coming from the Old French arester, to stop, and Vulgar Latin arrestare. The prefix ar- is a variation of ad-, which means to or at. The suffix is of course restare, which gave us the remain behind rest, so it’s the verb of to stay behind (writing “to to stay behind” is kind of weird). Basically, it’s making someone stay behind.

Interest as we know it showed up in the early seventeenth century, but it came from an earlier word from the mid fifteenth century that meant a benefit or a legal claim. Interest comes from the Anglo French interesse, legal concern, which itself comes from the Medieval Latin interesse, compensation of loss. See the evolution? Compensation to legal concerns to benefit. But what’s interesting (ahem) is that interesse comes from the classical Latin interesse, which means…interest. It went from the definition we know it as to something different and then by the time it was finally translated into English, it started to go back to the old meaning. You can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes right now. Anyway, interesse is a mix of words, in this case inter-, between, and -esse, which means to be. The T is just something we English speakers slapped onto it.

TL;DR: One definition of rest is related to arrest. Any other word with rest in it is just coincidence.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The most dreaded word in a writer’s vocabulary. Except maybe for pitch. But it’s definitely above query.

The thing about a synopsis is, it can’t just be a play-by-play of the book, because that would be boring. It has to be as interesting as your writing so any potential readers will know why the book is slap-across-the-face awesome. I’m…I’m not sure where I was going with that.

Type “writing a synopsis for a novel” in your search engine, and you’ll get twenty five million results (give or take a million). Most of the ones I’ve read give guidelines along the lines of “Who is the main character?” or “Describe what forces your main character to change.” Yes, they expect us to come up with something interesting with dull prompts like that. I wonder how they’d react if I said “I force the main character to change by writing the novel.”

Probably like this.
And then we have the ones that advise going through the novel, writing down everything important that happens, and turning that into a synopsis. It sounds like good advice, but in practice, not so useful because then you have a bunch of sentences and no idea how to connect them into a coherent, engaging piece of writing.

Okay, so the guidelines are as useful as someone slamming you upside the head with a wooden board. No fear. There actually are some good ones out there. Susan Dennard did an amazing article on synopses at Publishing Crawl. First she gives some basic info, then some reminders about what is especially needed for a synopsis (only three named characters, tell the ending), then she gives an actual example of how to write one. She uses Star Wars as her basis, making it easy to follow since pretty much everyone has seen that movie. Instead of frustrating, impossible to define questions, she asks for fill in the blanks for things like “Protagonist Intro” and “Winning seems imminent, but…”. In short, it’s not what people want. It’s how to do it.

Anyway, if you want to know how to do a synopsis, go here. The other important piece of advice I remember (though I don’t remember where I got it from): get beta readers for your synopsis, too. From people who haven’t read your book, so you know if it’s enticing and informative.

That’s all the wisdom* I have. What are your thoughts on synopses? Any advice?

*And by wisdom, I mean stuff I learned from other people’s blogs.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Apocalypse Log

Do any of you remember those posts I did about preparations for the Rapture? It was in 2011 after that guy was talking about how the world was going to end in May although I don’t think it did. I suppose it’s possible we’re all hallucinating this at the same time. Really, it would explain a lot.

Anyway, I (just) got to thinking about making that a regular thing, maybe a completely separate blog about survival guides for various apocalyptic scenarios. For example, there’s been a zombie outbreak. While the general wisdom is to shoot them in the head, who’s to say that would work? It didn’t in Return of the Living Dead.

Plus, there are other possible apocalypses. What if there’s a robot rising? What do you do (get lots and lots of magnetic strips)? What don’t you do (time travel and mess causality up so much no one can keep it straight)? Let’s not forget a possible The Stand-like contagion, or invading aliens (you really shouldn’t trust germs to kill them seeing how they evolved on a completely different planet and Earth bacteria would have no effect on them). People could be dying out there without any survival guides for these scenarios.

What do you guys think? Do you have any other apocalyptic scenarios? What apocalyptic books/movies/television shows do you know about?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lost in Translation: January

Because I finished with all the days of the week, now I’m going to start months and I wanted to do at least one during the same month it was in. Does that sentence make sense? I think my mind’s all drifty.

January showed up in English in the late thirteenth century as Ieneuer (I went over the whole I-J thing in my post on the letter J, but long story short: J used to sound like I or Y and only changed because an Italian started using it for the juh sound). Ieneurer comes from the Old North French Genever and Old French Jenvier sometime around the early twelfth century.

January’s birth was, unsurprisingly, from classical Latin, where it was Ianuarius mensis, the month of Janus. Janus is the Roman god of gates and doors (door is literally what ianua means) as well as beginnings and endings. That might seem appropriate for the new year, but since the original Roman calendar started in March and only had ten months, not including January, I think it’s just a coincidence. The month January was added by the Roman king Numa Pompilius, who ruled sometime around 700 BCE. It’s interesting to note that he also established a temple dedicated to Janus, so he seems to have had some affinity for the god.

Believe it or not, English had another name for the first month: geola se aefterra. That aefterra looks like after for a reason. The literal translation of the phrase is later (or after) Yule and it seems to have been interchangeable with January. As always when it comes to different versions of words, one is preferred and the other lost to history.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Could it be? COLLAPSE has been outlined, edited for repetition/unnecessary words, read aloud and read by beta readers. I have got two different versions of a query, a synopsis, and I’ve edited them all twice. This is as good as it’s going to get. I think.

I always get nervous when I finish a book, because I know there is nothing left to do but query, and that makes me want to curl into a ball and rock back and forth murmuring nonsense. I believe in my book. I think it’s good. But as to whether it’s good enough…

Let’s just say self-confidence isn’t my strong suit.

I’ve submitted other books and, sadly, all have been rejected. But I felt equally as proud of them and believed in each one just as much as the last. I’d like to say this one is better because I worked a lot harder on editing, but…well, it’s that self-confidence thing again. What do I do if no one likes it? Do I write something else or keep editing? Is it my writing style or my story or my characters or the query or my everything?

Yes, I work myself up into a nice little panic. It never stops me from trying, though.

I better go edit my query again.

Do any of you have any good query stories and/or advice for querying? Want to beta read a query for me? What about you self-pub people? Any thoughts on going the Indie route?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Twitter Spam

You all know I’m a connoisseur of spam (and a little off topic, why is connoisseur so freaking hard to spell??). It’s insane, badly translated, nonsensical garbage and I can’t resist it. But did you know that Twitter has its own special brand of spam-sanity that’s as rich and tasty as what you delete from your blog comments on a weekly basis? Just look at some of the gems that have followed me:

Bio: “Successful Internet Marketer.”
Reality: Has fewer followers than me. Hasn’t tweeted in a month.

Bio: “Hello I am a network marketing coach who trains others on how to build there own blogging site and market themselves as an expert in there niche.”
Reality: Their. The word is their.

Bio: “Health education,weight loss,detox,detoxing,colonhealth,acai berry colon cleanse,detoxcolon,detox weight loss,detoxify colon”.
Reality: Stay away from my colon.

Bio: “I only one week join with twitter, but we have thousands twitter followers now , need know my secret?, visit :”
Reality: At best, you’re paying thirty bucks for hundreds of spambots. At worst, you’ll end up evicted from your house and unable to get a credit card because your identity has been stolen.

Bio: “Hot tramp you love so”.
Reality: Wrong on so many levels.

Bio: “You dreamed I was a very clean tramp.”
Reality: Eep.

Bio: “Today i join to twitter, but we have thousands twitter followers now , need know my secret?,”
Reality: Clearly it isn’t proper grammar.

As with all spam, it makes me wonder how people can actually fall for it. Which they do, otherwise there wouldn’t be so much of it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Language of Confusion: Spect-tator

First etymology post of the year! Whoo! And it’s going to be a long one!

This time, I decided to look spectacle and all related words (there are a lot!). It showed up in the mid fourteenth century meaning a specially prepared display. It comes from the Old French spectacle and classical Latin spectaculum, both with roughly the same meaning we know it as. Words with -spect in them generally have something to do with watching because the suffix, like spectaculum, comes from the Latin spectare/specere, to look or watch. It can be traced even further back to the Proto Indo European spek, to observe.

Now for the suffixed words…

Showed up in the early seventeenth century (making it one of the later ones) from the classical Latin inspectus/inspicere, to look into. The prefix in- means into, and with specere meaning look, it’s kind of easy to see how the word works.

Showed up in the late fourteenth century as an astrological term, believe it or not, referring to the positions of the other planets as they look from Earth. It comes from the classical Latin aspectus/aspicere, to look at. The a- prefix is the at part, of course.

This one might seem a little weird since respect doesn’t really require looking. At least, not these days, as originally it meant regard or a relationship. It showed up as a noun in the late fourteenth century and a verb in the mid sixteenth century. The noun is from the Old French respect and classical Latin respectus/respicere, which means to look back at (makes sense since the re- prefix means back or again), but unlike the noun, the verb respect comes from Middle French. The word there is respecter, to look back, and it comes from the Latin respectere, another word that comes from respicere. The only difference is that respectere is what’s known as a frequentative, which is a special verb that indicates an action is ongoing or repetitive. Why they needed a different form of the verb to make a word that was basically the same, I have no idea.

It may not have an s, but it is a -spect word. Expect showed up in the mid sixteenth century meaning, get this, to wait to act. It came from the classical Latin expectare/exspectare (the s does seem redundant after the x), which meant to wait or look out for. The ex- prefix normally means out or from, but in this case it means completely, which is a legitimate meaning, I swear. I guess the idea of completely looking for something can mean that you’re waiting for it to show up. Maybe.

First showed up as an adjective in the early fourteenth century, a verb in the mid fifteenth century, and a noun in the late sixteenth century. It comes from the Old French suspect (shocker) and classical Latin suspectus/suspicere. Suspectus has a similar meaning to what we know it as, but the word it comes from, suspicere, means to look up, both in the literal and figurative (“to look up to” someone) meanings of the word. Now, that definition makes sense since the su- comes from sub-, which means beneath, and if you’re looking up at someone, you’re beneath them. But as for the mistrust/suspicion definition, apparently the only reason for that is because it somehow implies to secretly look at because you don’t trust them. Seriously, that’s the reasoning.

First showed up in the early seventeenth century as a regard or reference to something. It came from the classical Latin retrospectum/retrospicere, to look back. It’s a combination of -spect (look) and retro- (back), which itself is a combination of re- and intro-. And that’s your cool bit of knowledge for the day.

Showed up in the late seventeenth century (introspection actually came a century earlier) from the classical Latin introspectus/introspicere, to look into. Spect- is look, as you should know by now, and intro is inside. Not a big stretch here.

Showed up in the early fifteenth century meaning looking off into the distance, I’m not even kidding. It comes from the classical Latin prosepectus/prospicere, where it means to look far away or to look forward. Pro- brings the forward and the spect- brings the look, making a word that was once literal and now is just figurative.

TL;DR: -Spect words were once literal. Not so much these days.

University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January Goals

Man…my vacation is over. Now I have to get back to doing stuff. This sucks. All right, let’s check in on my goals.

1. Finish the rough draft of my previously mentioned paranormal apocalyptic story.
            Not completely, but it’s very close, with a few scenes still needing to be written in various places. Since there’s maybe six thousand words left, I’d call this a win.

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.
            Nope, total fail. I’m terrible at thinking up fun things for my blog! Or, if I’m being honest, in general. Do not come to me for party ideas, is what I’m saying.

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.
            Heh, well, this was definitely completed.

Not bad. I did the major writing I wanted to and now my YA Paranormal/Apocalyptic has a beginning, middle and end. REMEMBER is going to take a rest this month while I go back to COLLAPSE.

January Goals

1. Write a query, one sentence pitch, plot summary, and synopsis for COLLAPSE. (Just thinking about it sets my anxiety levels spiking!)

2. Work on some of my ongoing projects (pretty much everything except REMEMBER).

3. Find a way to post my goals and progress on my blog.

So that’s what I’m up to this month. What about you guys? What do you do to make sure you’re on track?

Happy New Year! Hugs!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Resolutions 2014

I think this year, when I forget to write 2014 instead of 2013, it’s going to be because I’m still in denial about it.


Anyway, what should I accomplish this year?

1. Get my newest book, REMEMBER, to the point where it can be beta read.
            It’s still pretty rough right now (the first draft still isn’t done), so it will take a lot of work to get it there.

2. Start working on a (gulp) query for COLLAPSE.
            I have a few rough copies, but I doubt any would entice readers. Ooh, this is the most terrifying goal.

3. Try to find some way to post my progress on my goals, both yearly and monthly.
            I’d like to see how I’m doing and whether I need to work harder.

4. Read more dystopian/apocalyptic/paranormal YA.
            For, you know, research. This is probably going to be an easy goal.

5. Think of ways to make my blog posts more interesting.
            And implement them. That last “Informal Poll” thing was a huge bust. I have some other ideas in mind, but who knows if they’ll be successful.

6. Try to start a movement to simplify the English language.
            Seriously, is the letter C really necessary? And don’t say we need it for the “ch” sound. We can use Q for that and not for “kw”, which is weird anyway. Every other use of C can be replaced with K or S. I’m also not a fan of using G for the “juh” sound, but one thing at a time.

7. Get over my doubts about selling an apocalyptic story in a glutted YA market and just DO IT.
            I feel like this one is self-explanatory.

Well, it’s 2014. What are your goals?

Thursday, January 2, 2014


It's 2014. I think my feelings can be summed up by the following stick figure comic:

Back to real posts on Saturday.

Happy New Year and good luck in 2014.