Thursday, February 27, 2014

Language of Confusion: So Unfair

Homophones are the most frustrating form of words for us writerly types. We spend hours upon hours type-type-typing and get told “It’s d-u-e, not d-o” because of course one of the most basic words in the English language has to have a word that sounds exactly the same pronunciation, but it means something completely different, and oh yeah, don’t forget it’s spelled different, too. I could go on a much longer rant about this. But I won’t. This time.

Anyway, the word fair, as inspired by Melissa’s Grammar Post Monday last week. There are two tenses for the word, the adjective (the weather is fair) and the noun (the fair is in town!) and they both come from different places. Pleasant fair comes from the Old English faeger, roughly the same meaning, and before that, it was fagraz in Proto Germanic. The other fair, the place that you can go to, showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Anglo French feyre and the Old French feire. Those words come from the Vulgar Latin feria, holiday or market fair, and the classical Latin feriae, holiday.

But there’s also the homophone, fare, which has both a noun version (like bus fare) and a verb (how do you fare?). Both do come from the same word, the Old English faran, to journey, but the noun for fare came by way of another Old English word, faer, which is a journey, or a road. The word faran can be traced back to the Proto Germanic faranan, and before that the Proto Indo European por-, going or passage. So the reason we pronounce fair and fare the same is because somewhere between Proto Indo European and Proto Germanic, a P switched to an F. Because of course it did.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Future Tense

This doesn’t actually have anything to do with tenses—it’s not Thursday, so it’s not word time. It’s just a title.

I believe I have the idea that will turn into the book I write this year. It takes place in the far future and, shockingly enough, there’s not an apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic) thing about it.

I can sense your shock. After all, this is me we’re talking about here. The last four books I’ve written have been varying degrees of apocalyptic. But not this one. Could it be…that I’ve finally run out of apocalyptic scenarios? What a depressing thought.

Anyway, while my not writing an apocalyptic story is clearly a tragedy, it does give me the chance to explore something else. Really, my new project isn’t all that different from my other works. It’s an action story with a sci-fi bent, just like four of the previous five (the fifth being an action story with a paranormal bent). There’s a little more sci-fi this time around, what with it taking place about five hundred years from now, but it takes place on Earth and there are no aliens of any kind, so it’s a far cry from hard science fiction. Plus, the biggest shocker of all, it’s not YA.

I know. Let that sink in for a minute.

I’m really having a lot of fun with it—a bit too much, since I haven’t been keeping up with all the things I’m supposed to be doing for REMEMBER. But I’m using being stressed out by querying as an excuse. It’s a lot easier to get lost in a new project than an old one.

What have you guys been up to lately? Do you stick to one genre, or do you like to stretch your writing muscles in other ones, too?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Spaced Out

I like space. Outer space. I think it’s cool. I’m absolutely terrified of the thought of actually going there, though. I prefer to observe it on my nice, atmosphere-covered planet. Luckily there are braver people than me to do that.

First we have a game, Cosmic Crush and its sequel are a lot of fun. You play as a rock and smash into smaller stuff to grow, becoming a planet, a yellow star, a red giant, and even a galaxy. I like the control in the first one better because you can use the arrow keys, but the second one, where you have to use the mouse to move, is longer and otherwise has better gameplay.

Scale of the Universe isn’t a game, really, but it’s interactive so that’s what it’s called on Newgrounds. I’ve mentioned it before—it’s filled with information on various things that you look at by moving a scale along the bottom. You can go as small as quantum foam, the theoretical foundation of the universe, but what I really like is the right end of the scale, when it talks about various planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies. You can see the distance from the sun to Pluto, which happens to be greater than the largest known star.

Science Daily has tons of articles on planets outside the solar system, black holes, and astrophysics. There’s also the Hubble telescope’s website, which might as well be called “Cool Space Photos Daily”. Cracked also has some good space articles from time to time, that are pretty well-researched and full of cool pictures, which include things like the planet made of diamond and the space cloud of raspberry rum. I’m not making that up. It’s totally a thing.

Anyway, I like space. I only regret not having any good ideas for stories that take place there.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Language of Confusion: Pens-ive

Pensive first showed up in the late fourteenth century. It comes from the Old French pensif, thoughtful, which comes from the verb penser, to think. And as anyone who’s been paying attention knows, that word comes from classical Latin, the word pensare, which means weigh (metaphorically, like one would weigh a decision). Interestingly enough (I swear!), pensare is the frequentative (a verb that’s continuing in action) of pendere, which has varied meanings like to pay and to hang. Pendere also sprouted the line that would one day give English the word pendant.

That pay/hang definition makes some other words starting with pens- make a lot more sense. Pension showed up in the mid fourteenth century. It meant payment to a beneficiary back then, too, but also in general payment for services or a reward. It comes from the Old French pension, payment or rent, and the classical Latin pensionem, which is a payment in installations (you know, like a pension). Like the above pensare, pensionem also comes from pendere, making them linguistic cousins, I guess.

TL;DR: Pension and pensive are related because Latin had a single word for payment, weigh, and hanging, I’m guessing because payment was weighed out in hanging scales. History!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Things I Hate About Querying

Besides, you know, everything.

1. Synopses.
I have to write about the book. Why is it so impossible? It took me more than a year to write the book and get it to the point that it was good enough to be seen. And I would do it all over again if I didn’t have to write a synopsis. Is it even possible to write one that doesn’t stink?

2. Getting rejected.
As of yesterday, I’ve sent out ten queries. I’ve only had two responses. Both within two days of the query. Both rejections. People can talk about “thick skin” and staying positive all they want. That doesn’t make it any less of a kick to the teeth.

3. No response at all.
Agents are busy, so I’m not against non-responding. But it’s still anxiety inducing.

4. Screwing up.
Oh, man, ten queries, and I forgot to paste in the sample pages TWICE. A twenty percent screw up rate is not good! I put “PASTE IN PAGES” at the end of my query (plus I highlighted it) so now I won’t forget. I hope.

5. Snail mail.
There are still agents who insist on being queried by snail mail. Heck, there are agencies without websites. Is this what it was like back in the before-time, the ancient era when there were those huge, clunky computers that could only type words (I’ve heard them called “type-writers”)? What a frightening time that must have been.

This post brought to you by: venting.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Random Thoughts

---It snows metal on Venus. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky.
---The Welsh word for microwave is “popty ping”. You’re welcome.
---Fluoroantimonic acid can eat through glass. It’s pH is a negative 31.8. It can only be stored in a Teflon container. But I bet it would melt a body. You know. FYI.
---The largest bacteria is called Thiomargarita namibiensis. It’s one milimeter in length, which doesn’t sound like much, but unlike most bacteria, it’s visible to the naked eye. It lives in the ocean off Namibia (hence the name). Imagine yourself swimming out there. And you see something. It looks like short strands of hair. But it’s not. It’s bacteria.
---If parents don’t pay their kids’ school lunch bills, I don’t think the solution should be to take the lunches from the kids and throw them away.
---“A man accused of taking a commercial ferry from the Seattle waterfront is due in court Monday afternoon.” A) why would anyone steal a ferry, B) what are you going to do with it?
---Hydrox cookies were invented before Oreos.
---“EXTRATERRESTRIAL INVADERS crash into Earth’s South Pole”. Sounds interesting, right? Here’s the first line: “Scientists at the South Pole have detected a collection of neutrinos from outer space that could help explain the origins of the universe.” Yeah, that headline’s not misleading or anything.
---More people have access to cell phones than toilets. In all fairness, it’s a lot easier to go to the bathroom outside than it is to make a call on a tree.
---Actual thesaurus suggestion for the word ‘flattened’: poleaxed. It would be totally inappropriate for what I was trying to say in my book, but I so wish it wasn’t.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Language of Confusion: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

What is up with the silent L? The combination of o and u should be ooo as in you or ow as in loud. But for some reason, putting an L in there changes everything.

Could comes from the Old English cuðe. Remember, the ð is eth, which is a soft th sound, meaning cuðe was pronounced something like “cooth” (the oo should be like in soot and the th like the beginning of the word this). I’d also like to point out that there’s no freaking L in that word. Anyway, cuðe is the past tense of the word cunnan, to be able, the origin word for can and couth. The th changed into a d in the fourteenth century, probably because people stopped using eth as a letter. The L was then added to make the word more like should and would.

Would comes from the Old English wolde, and although I’m not sure, I think the L would have been pronounced there. It’s the past tense of the word willan, which means to will, and I’m guessing you know what that’s the origin word for. At least this one has an L in it.

Should actually has a date, having turned up in the early thirteenth century. Like the others, it comes from an Old English word, sceolde, which is the past tense of sceal, the origin word for shall. Originally, sceal implied that it was something you must do in a sense of obligation, something that we Modern English speakers don’t really use shall for (if we use it at all!), but which remains in should.

TL;DR: Could’s spelling was made to resemble would and should, where the L’s used to be pronounced.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


All right, I’m going to give you the rundown on some different social media sites that you’ve probably heard of but maybe not because I’m out of post ideas I’m always here to help.

What it is: General social media hub where you can post pictures, messages, and easily communicate with others.
Pros: Everyone’s on it.
Cons: Everyone’s on it.
Why I’m (not) on it: All of my relatives have Facebook accounts. See my Thanksgrieving posts as for why that’s an issue.
Why it’s going to stick around: Again, everyone’s on it. It’s one of the easiest ways to message others. Remember when AIM used to be a thing? It’s like that, but better.

What it is: Post whatever you’re thinking in 140 characters or less.
Pros: If someone checks their Twitter often, it’s very easy to communicate with them. Plus it’s made for prattling on about useless nonsense.
Cons: Half the people on it are spambots.
Why I’m on it: Besides the fact that I’m made of useless nonsense, I’m still in my twenties, so by law, I have to be on it.
Why it’s going to stick around: In an age where people stop reading after one paragraph, Twitter is king.

What it is: If Facebook and Wikipedia had a baby, this would be it (basically, user generated stories are voted up and down by other users).
Pros: It’s a surprisingly powerful force to be reckoned with.
Cons: Like Wikipedia, the content is only as accurate as the uploader makes it, although it can be corrected by subsequent comments.
Why I’m (not) on it: While it’s mostly good, I’ve seen some rather offensive things on it.
Why it’s going to stick around: Like I said, it’s a powerful force, and people like being part of that.

What it is: A blogging platform teenagers still use because their parents aren’t on it.
Pros: You can post pictures, articles, videos, pretty much anything. It also prides itself on being a place for anyone “different”.
Cons: Say something bad about a fandom and the entire populace will turn on you.
Why I’m on it: It’s great for single serving blogs dedicated to a particular subject.
Why it’s going to stick around: Because there will always need to be an alternative to Facebook. Preferably one without our parents.

What it is: Facebook for books.
Pros: A lot of authors will hold giveaways exclusive to Goodreads.
Cons: People will one star your favorite book and refuse to explain why.
Why I’m (not) on it: I’m someone who will reread twenty books I’ve read before in between every new book. I wouldn’t post much.

Why it’s going to stick around: It’s the closest thing to having a book club some people will have.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Let me set the scene for you.

It was the middle of the night. I was asleep in bed. Dreaming. For some reason, there was a repetitive


beep about once a minute. Finally, I opened my eyes and realized that the beeping was in real life, and what the hell was making that noise because


nothing was on, not my television, not my laptop, not my phone. Eventually, it occurred to me that the only thing that made sense was the


smoke detector, although since it wasn’t a steady OMG YOU’RE GOING TO DIE GET OUT OF THE HOUSE warble, it had to be something else. The


batteries were running low. But I was so tired and being the middle of the night, I was feeling extra lazy and


didn’t want to get up and change them. Still, it was kind of hard to sleep with that thing beeping every minute, so I got up to change get that stupid thing new batteries. Except


that was a dream. So I really got up to change the batteries. Except that was a dream. Then I went into a normal (i.e. crazy) dream, but still, every five seconds it felt like


there was another beep. Cue another dream where I got up to change them. By six a.m., I knew I wasn’t getting anymore sleep, but I


wouldn’t give it the satisfaction. I let it beep. I let it feel the pain of knowing it was slowly dying, every beep a burst of energy it could not


afford, but there were worse alternatives, there was death, there was non-existence. And perhaps I would show mercy, there might be new batteries restore it to life


but for a few seconds while I changed them, it would be dead, just a hunk of plastic, less useful than a doorstop.


Long story short, I’m really tired today.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Unpronounceable

Sometimes I hate words. Not writing them—that I kind of like. Saying them. Pronouncing them, to be specific. As someone who has spent the past three years reading different etymologies, I get that spellings are created more by history than common sense (I’m looking at you, silent letters). But sometimes it’s just ridiculous.

An A and a U. Seems like it would be pronounced like it is in applaud or haunt. But no. It’s like the U isn’t even there. It took me until high school to figure out that it was supposed to be pronounced like the end of engage. I still say it the other way in my head, though.

It’s supposed to be Har with a Th at the end, not a Earth with an H up front. Frankly, I blame this one entirely on the ea digraph. It has way too many pronunciations to be reasonable.

I always pronounced this “flassid”. I never even thought about how if you drop the Fl and put ent at the end, you get the word accident, which I always say “aksident”. But pronouncing it “flaksid” sounds weird to me. Thankfully, the pronunciation is acceptable either way, so I’m sticking with flassid.

What does the middle letter look like to you? Because to me, it looks like an l, which means it has an L sound. But nooooo. It’s silent, lah-dee-frickin-dah. The British, showing great common sense, do pronounce it “sahlve”, however Americans say “sahve”. I’m going to have to either get people to start saying it with an L or move to England because this is unacceptable.

Informal poll time: How do you pronounce flaccid? How do you pronounce salve (and what country are you from)? Are there any words that have spellings and pronunciations you can’t reconcile? Answer in the comments.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February Goals

Ugh, it’s February already? Well, at least none of us have to worry about our resolutions anymore.

January Goals

1. Write a query, one sentence pitch, plot summary, and synopsis for COLLAPSE. (Just thinking about it sets my anxiety levels spiking!)
Check, check, check, and check. The synopsis could use a bit more work, but I have the rest in order. And super thanks to Dianne for reading my query for me. Your opinion was invaluable : ).

2. Work on some of my ongoing projects (pretty much everything except REMEMBER).
I spent most of the month going over COLLAPSE, and seeing as it’s a different project, I think this is a win.

3. Find a way to post my goals and progress on my blog.
I did post my goals, but I haven’t found a good way to post my progress. Of course, it’s hard to gauge them anyway. Trying to write a query isn’t like meeting a word count goal. I did however post my goals on a sticky note on my desk top, so it’s always there for me to look at. I’d say this one is a “mostly”.

Surprisingly good. I guess because it was January, I have a lot of “New Year” energy. Anyway, for this month…

February Goals
1. Finish outline, read aloud, and notes for REMEMBER. This is going to be a big one…

2. Send out 10 queries for COLLAPSE (AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!) and revise query as needed.

3. Work on Apocalypse Blog.

And as a fourth goal, try not to freak out about querying. It’s going to be tough.

What are your goals for this month? Any big plans for February?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Apocalypses Now

[This is what I’m going for in my new Apocalypse Survival Guide. Any thoughts or critiques you could give would help a lot. Is it funny? More pictures? Does it need more than five list items?]

There are several types of apocalypses that could destroy the world. Zombies. Aliens. Turning the world into cake. Robots. No matter what the Armageddon, there will be some general rules that apply.

And for the record, this has nothing to do with the Bruce Willis movie, so get that out of your head right now.

Top 5 Rules for Living through an Apocalypse

5. Be sure to boil all your water before you drink it. Even if it’s from pipes, it’s not like the waste-treatment plants are running anymore. Boil it so you don’t get the runs, because do you really want to die from dehydration due to diarrhea? Do you?

4. Looting will be in effect, so be sure to get your butt down to the grocery store and start filling your cart with canned goods. Fill your house with them. Seriously. There should be rooms you can’t get into because they are stuffed to the top with cans of tomato soup. Or some other kind of soup. Or not soup at all.

Okay, these are actually beer, but imagine that it's food. This is what your spare room should look like.

3. Find a doctor. Just stick around him/her all the time, keep them and their family alive, give them food and stuff so when you’re appendix bursts you’re not being operated on be a laid-off factory worker with a medical book.

2. Gas has an expiration date. You might think you’re smart by filling a swimming pool with gas for your generator, but it’s only good for a couple of months. Then you have a pool filled with poison that can’t be used for anything. Yes, this means that something about The Walking Dead is unrealistic besides the characters.

1. Get used to eating rats, squirrels, small birds, and dogs that can’t be used for hunting. Think about it. Is a giant Marmaduke dog better at catching small game, or making a Sunday dinner for the whole family?

Look at that. That could feed your family for a week, minimum.