Thursday, July 31, 2014

Language of Confusion: Familial II

Yep, more of these. Shall we get started?

Apparently the reason daughter has a silent G in it is thanks to sixteenth century southern England—way to go, guys. Anyway, it comes from the Old English dohtor (no G there!) and Proto Germanic dochter/dhukter, and before that, the Proto Indo European dhugheter. Wow, that’s a mouthful. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it, I have no idea.

Son comes from the Old English sunu, which can mean son or just descendant (I think this means a daughter could have also been a son). It can be traced further back to the Proto Germanic sunuz and Proto Indo European su(e)-nu-, son. Apparently that word comes from the word seue, which means to give birth.

With aunt, we actually have something different going on here. First of all, a date; it showed up in the early fourteenth century. It comes from the Anglo French aunte and Old French ante (no relation to the English ante). Like most French words, it can be traced to classical Latin, where it is amita, a father’s sister (a mother’s sister is called a matertera).

Uncle showed up in the late thirteenth century, and like aunt it comes by the French/Latin route. It comes from the Old French oncle and classical Latin avunculus, mother’s brother (a father’s brother is patruus; too bad we didn’t keep that one; the double u’s makes it cool). It’s actually a diminutive of avus, grandfather, a word that can be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European awo-, grandfather (or other adult male relative).

I guess our first degree relatives come from Germanic origins, and our second degree relatives come from Latin. We’ll know for sure next week when I post the thrilling conclusion to this series : ).

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Time Approaches

What time? you ask. Why, my birthday, of course. In less than a month. How could you not know that? Really!

Anyway, as usual around my birthday, I take some time off from writing and blogging and trying to be a useful part of society in general. And also as usual, I’d like to know if anyone is willing to give me a guest post to enable my decent into laziness. I really hope someone does, because otherwise you’re going to get stuck with five minute stick figure comics. And the ones I usually post take a half hour to do, so just think about how awful they’re going to be.

Think about it.

Any volunteers? Anyone want to speak to a slightly different audience? Got something to promote?

Hello? Anyone there at all?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Apocalypse Log: The Robot Uprising

One thing that’s always bothered me about robot uprisings in literature and movies: the robots always go about it so damned inefficiently. This is especially true if the robot uprising is just focused on Earth. I mean, hello? Just destroy the atmosphere and wait for us to die off! You’re robots! You don’t need it!

But I suppose I shouldn’t be giving them pointers.

What to do When If Machines try to Kill Us

1. Head to somewhere where there are no robots. Like the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Sure, you’ll be immediately killed by all the wildlife. But not the robots.

2. Make sure there’s not an off switch somewhere on the robot. Hell, you might just be able to yell “Xbox Turn Off”.

3. Buy up all the magnets you can find. Build a house out of them.

4. Start hanging around with my sister. Computers don’t do well around her. Her presence could disable a Transformer.

5. When all else fails: offer yourselves as their slaves. Come on. Do you really think that your meat-made body is going to win against our titanium overlords?

What will you do when our machines rebel? And do not say time travel. Do not make me get into why the Terminator series makes no sense.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Language of Confusion: Familial

Don’t you want to know where the words for what we call our family come from? No? Well, I do, so tough.

Mother first showed up as we know it in the sixteenth century. Before that, it had a d instead of a th, although the pronunciation was still th (yes, really). It comes from the Old English modor (anyone else see that as Mordor the first time?), and before that, the Proto Germanic mother and even further back, the Proto Indo European mater, all of which had the same definition we had. Not much of an evolution here. Mom, mommy, and mama all share a common origin, going all the way back to the Proto Indo European ma.

Father comes from the Old English faeder, and before that the Proto Germanic fader. It also can be traced back to Proto Indo European, but in this case the word was pəter. The p to f change is common in Germanic languages—common enough that it has a name: Grimm’s Law (among other common letter shifts). There are other words for the male parent, too, like papa, which has French and Latin roots, and dad, which is so old (possibly even prehistoric!) that no one knows where it comes from.

Sister showed up in the mid thirteenth century, coming from the Old English sweostor/swuster and Proto Germanic swestr. It too can be traced to Proto Indo European, where it’s the word swesor. The Online Etymology Dictionary actually calls this one of the least changing words from all the way back to PIE. I just find that hilarious that that’s pointed out. It’s also thought to be a combination of two other Proto Indo European words, swe-, one’s own, and ser, woman. It actually makes sense, right?

Brother comes from the Old English broþor (þ is thorn, one of the forgotten letters; it’s pronounced like the th in math, meaning it’s pronounce exactly like brother). It can be traced to the Proto Indo European bhrater, and just like sister, it has hardly changed over the millennia, which is pretty impressive. PS. Fraternity actually comes from bhrater, too.

Okay, there are a lot more words to do and this post is getting kind of long. I’m guessing there will be another one next week, with more family etymological fun : ).

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Rant Level: Medium

I’m not going to name names here or get too specific, but a while back I was reading a book where the main character, a teenage boy, wondering what made him so special to fight the forces of evil, and being told by another character just how good and kind and downright awesome he was, proven by the fact that even after someone being attacked, all he felt was pity for the person who tried to kill him. Annnnnnd I stopped reading.

Okay, I get it. He’s on the side of good. But does he really need to be the living embodiment of perfection, to the point where he’s so sickeningly sweet that I need insulin?

Perfect characters have always bugged me. I’m not talking about the ones that are super beautiful or super smart (although those kinds often overlap with this one). I mean the ones that are just so good and nice all the time and are never irrational or selfish or freaking human. Ever. They never hurt people or cause bad things to happen, except by accident, and of course if they did they would immediately jump to rectify the situation. And I hate them.

I see myself as impossibly imperfect. I do selfish things, on purpose, and I know they’re selfish, and I feel horribly guilty afterward, even if it’s nothing truly bad (like skipping a party because I’m feeling asocial). So, knowing all these imperfections I have, and realizing that, come on, at least most of the world is flawed like me, it bothers me to read about characters who are so. frigging. perfect. There’s nothing to relate to! I suppose they have “ideals” to aspire to, but that doesn’t make them a character. It makes them an unachievable dream.

Too often these days I’m seeing characters that fall into this trope—and worse, they seem to be popping up in YA as morality lessons for why you must always be good so good things will happen to you. I think those are really dangerous lessons to teach kids. One does not equal the other, the same way evil doesn’t always lead to bad things happening (just look at banks for a good example of this). And you know what? Sometimes you do have to be tough and mean or otherwise people will walk all over you, not instantly become your friend because you’re the paragon of niceness.

I know the satisfaction of reading books comes from seeing a world that has some sort of order to it, where evil is punished and the star-crossed lovers are happy and together forever. But there has to be struggle, there has to be sacrifice, there has to be growth. If a character doesn’t come out of a book different—not just traumatized by events, but actually and significantly changed—then the story was just a plot, the characters just tools. With a perfect character, there’s nowhere to go but down.

All right, maybe the rant level was more “high” than “medium”. Whatever. What do you think of perfect characters? What about flawed ones?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

More Zombies

It’s been a while since I’ve done an apocalypse post. And although I said I’ve done enough with zombies…there’s just so much material to go on. So here’s the best free zombie games I’ve come across.

The Sagittarian 1, 2, 3, 4a, 4b
I really like the author’s (Hyptosis) other works, the fairy tale reimaginings Hood and Aliceis Dead, so I was glad to give his zombie games a try. They’re choose-your-own adventure-like in style, making it more like a story than a game. He also just came out with another story set in the zombie wasteland called Riverside. You’ll have fun trying to pick an option that won’t end with you dead : ).

The I isn’t capitalized on purpose. That’s how it’s written. Anyway, this is a platformer with stick figures, where a guy is in love with a girl, but she’s a zombie now, so he has to keep luring her into a cage. Hey, it’s not trying to be a healthy relationship. There’s also a sequel. With lasers.

Okay, these aren’t really zombies, but creepy children trying to kill you. And really, is there that much of a difference between children and zombies? No. No there isn’t. Anyway, the point in this game is to find everything you need to escape a creepy cabin (keys, gas, etc.) and not get nabbed by the children. And you better not let your flashlight run out of batteries.

No listing of free zombie games would be complete without a zombie survival quiz. It’s different from the last quiz I shared with you, with a lot more questions, and it gives you a Physical, Mental, Experience, and Emotional Rating. My physical was a B and my mental was a C, which I really think should be the other way around. My experience was a C (probably because I don’t know much about guns) and emotional was an F (oh, come on!!). You can also look at the answers when you’re done to see which ones are the best.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Language of Confusion: -quire

Words that end in -quire. Ready?

Inquire first showed up in the late thirteenth century, coming from the Vulgar Latin inquaerere, a mix of the prefix in- (into) and the classical Latin quaerere, search. Oh, and for the record? That word is what gives us the dreaded query. Enquire has the exact same origins; it’s basically inquire, but specifically for asking a question. The E probably showed up because of Old French influence, which is why some of the words that start with en- have in- in classical Latin.

Next we have acquire, which showed up in the middle of the fifteenth century as acqueren. It comes from the Old French aquerre, same meaning, which can be traced to the Vulgar Latin acquaerere and classical Latin acquirere, again, with the same meaning we have. It’s a combination of the prefix ad- (they dropped the d), which means extra and quaerere, search, making it “to search for extra hard”.

I’m not expecting any big surprises with require, but here we go. It showed up in the late fourteenth century actually meaning to ask a question. Okay, that was a little surprising. It comes from the Old French requerre, seek or ask, Vulgar Latin requaerere, and classical Latin requirere, again, meaning seek or ask, like you’d ask something of someone. The re- prefix here means repeatedly, so it’s to search repeatedly. The switch between ask and need might seem weird, but the word request also stems from requiere, and it’s definition stayed the same. Apparently, the switch came in 1751 because it went from ask to ask in an authoritative manor, like a demand.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Half Done

The year, I mean. Which is actually more than half done.

MJ does a midway check in of her yearly goals, and I thought that was a good idea, so even though it’s a few weeks late (anyone else wondering how it can possibly be July?), here’s my progress report for my 2014 goals.

2014 Goals
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.
            Not even close, as I got distracted by a shiny new project. However, I’m back at it again, so I could still make it by the end of the year. Possibly.

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.
            Yeah, I did this. It’s not exactly going well, but I did it.

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.
            Monthly, yes. Yearly…well, I guess this counts, right?

4. Read more dystopian/apocalyptic/paranormal YA.
            For, you know, research. This is probably going to be an easy goal.
            Truly, I’ll never read enough : ).

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.
            I guess not…but it hasn’t gotten less interesting, has it? I could stretch that into a win.

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.
            Blast people who want to keep English the way it is!

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.
            Sigh…Well, I’m trying…

I guess I’m not doing that bad. The REMEMBER one is the only one I haven’t put a lot of effort into, but at least I have another first draft to show for my wasted time. And there is still six months (almost) left. Maybe I’ll make it.

Seriously. We don’t need C! If we all agree to just stop using it, we can lower language confusion by like thirty percent!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Personal Space

One thing that bothers me when I’m with my family (well, only one thing that I’m willing to get into): a lot of them are huggers.

For someone who can’t stand having her personal space breached, this is most distressing. If I run into someone I know at a store, I cringe, knowing they’re going to grab me into a hug no matter how much I ask them not to. Other people like this, I gather, but not me. It sets off alarm bells in my head and makes me want to body check them, which I’ve been told is not an appropriate thing to do.

The point I want to get across is that just because someone doesn’t want to hug doesn’t mean they don’t like you/care about you/love you. And I can’t stress this enough, it is not a personal insult (unless you haven’t been showering). It means they feel incredibly uncomfortable when hugging. That’s all.

I’m really not sure why it’s a big deal, but I’ve been called rude for refusing to hug. But I have to wonder, if it’s rude to not hug, is it rude to force a hug? It seems like it should be. People wouldn’t like it if I went up to them and licked their face. Most people. I hope. The same principle applies, though. Others have different boundaries, and it’s important to respect them. It’s a lot easier not to hug someone than it is for them to recover from a hugging induced panic attack.

Alternatives to Hugging (from least to most awesome)
1. Nod

2. Using words (“Hey, great to see you!”)

3. Handshake

4. Fist bump

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Secret Origins: S

Letter origins, yay!

Back when S was first written in the Latin alphabet, it used to look more like a lightning bolt, with really hard edges. As I’ve mentioned in previous alphabet posts, Latin took its letter symbols from Etruscan, where it was written in the opposite direction. Because…it was fun? Let’s go with that.

The Etruscans took their alphabet symbols from the Greeks. You might think that’s weird since the Greek sigma capital is Σ and the small letter is σ. Doesn’t get much farther from S than that! But you should know that there’s more than just one Greek alphabet. The Euboan Greeks, the one that gave the alphabet to the Etruscans, had a partial lightning bolt for S, but other Greek cities used a sideways M that looks a lot more like the sigma it evolved into. Don’t ask me about the small sigma, though. That answer’s just going to be “for fun” again.

Going further back, there was Phoenician. They actually had more than one S, using samekh, tsade, and sin (shin), and it seems our S came from the latter, which meant tooth and looked like a lying down lightning bolt that looked a lot like a W. So S looked like a lot of other letters before it was S, although I guess the jagged edges do kind of look like teeth. Even earlier, in proto Sinaitic, it looked like a rounded W, which apparently meant bow. But I haven’t been able to find confirmation on that, so for all I know it means butt. Which would be hilarious. And now nothing will ever be as funny as that bit of fakeness.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Recently, after finishing my read aloud of MALICE, I realized something: I was sick to death of it. Not that I think it’s bad or I’m giving up on it. I just can’t stand the sight of it for a while. I need a break. Well, from it.

So, this means I’m going back to REMEMBER. Remember that (pun intended)? I started on MALICE several months ago because I realized I was tired of it. One of my goals for this month is to finally get around to doing the read aloud for book R that I made a goal for months ago. I intend to start this week, barring any unforeseen circumstances, like a mysterious bout of laryngitis or something. Knock on wood.

I like having multiple projects to work on for just this reason. Often I get to a point where I need a break from a book I’m working on. What better way to take said break than by working on something else, something completely different? I was so glad to put REMEMBER away for a while—now I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. Man, I hope this feeling lasts.

Question time: what do you do when you’re sick of your WIP? Do you move on to something else? Take a break from writing entirely? Do you think ending a blog post with questions is a cop out or a good way to elicit responses? I realize that last question is a little off topic, but sometimes I just get curious.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Quick Reviews

Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve don’t anything related to books, so I might as well talk about some of the books I’ve read recently.

J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
Characterization: 9   Plot: 9  Writing: 10

I expected to like this book and I was honestly surprised how much I did so. In a sense, it’s a book, within a book, within a book, as two college students, Jennifer and Eric, write notes to each other back and forth in a book called Ship of Theseus by a mysterious European writer known as V.M. Straka. The books a mystery, a love story, an allegory, and really all around enrapturing. I don’t think a description can do it justice, just that it’s a fun read and impressively done.

Calling Me Home
Julie Kibler
Characterization: 3  Plot: 6  Writing: 4

I’m not sure where to begin with this book except to say, for a novel about interracial relationships, I’m really not sure the writer has met any black people. And seriously, what is with her idea that hair dressers have to turn to stripping to make ends meet and from that often fall into drug use? Is that a real thing? It doesn’t seem like a real thing. The main characters are Isabelle and Dorrie, an elderly white woman and a black woman in her thirties. Dorrie has some serious family problems going on, but don’t worry, everything’s wrapped up in a neat little package by the end without her doing anything. And Isabelle. She’s just a completely unsympathetic character. Every decision she makes is completely self-centered, and while there’s a lot of painful things in her life she can’t control, for the sake of her “soul mate” doesn’t justify it. I don’t know. Other people seemed to like this book. I really didn’t. If you like soapy romances, maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

Labor Day
Joyce Maynard
Characterization: 6  Plot: 4  Writing: 7

I absolutely love To Die For, so I was eager to get a hold of this, and found myself sadly disappointed. Maybe because To Die For is so good and it clouded my reception of Labor Day, because I just didn’t think it was very strong. It’s about a thirteen year old named Henry, his mentally ill mother Adele, and an escaped convict named Frank that they bring home over Labor Day weekend. It…makes more sense in context? Kind of. I really didn’t get why Adele, who’s extremely social phobic, would give an injured hitchhiker named Frank a ride to her house. With her thirteen year old son. I mean, something like that (really, really stupid) could at least be explained if the characterization is strong enough, but it just isn’t. It does make sense (at least a little) why they start to trust Frank. It’s just hard to swallow that they get taken hostage by a violent offender and he’s the only nice guy in the penal system. Plus the whole hostage thing doesn’t scream “good guy”.

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Characterization: 4  Plot: 6  Writing 4

Yeah, I might get lynched for not loving this one, but I really didn’t find it all that impressive. It’s an interesting idea, two teenaged cancer patients falling in love, but…the characters just didn’t feel natural to me, either as teenagers or as cancer patients, and that’s kind of an issue. It doesn’t help that I didn’t find Green’s writing all that interesting. It was an easy read, though, so I’ll give it points for that.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Language of Confusion: -Pute

One thing that drives me nuts about some words (because I’m the kind of person who’s driven nuts by words) is that a lot of them are completely meaningless without their prefixes. Take compute for example. There’s also words like dispute and repute (and even impute and suppute are words, though not really used), but take away the prefix, and pute is nothing.

Compute is a late comer, having first showed up in the early seventeenth century, with computer showing up shortly after (not as the current definition of course :), and both coming two centuries after computation did. The words share an origin in the classical Latin computare, to calculate. The com- prefix means with, but putare has more varied meanings. It generally means think or suppose. “Think with” makes sense as a computer is a tool for thinking, although it’s amusing that once upon a time putare meant “to prune”, like you would a tree. Because sure, why not?

Dispute is much older than any of the com- words. It showed up in the early fourteenth century, coming from the Old French disputer, dispute or fight over, and classical Latin disputare, debate. Dis- means separately or apart from here, so added to suppose or think about, it’s “think separately”, or differently, than someone else. Wow, that actually makes sense.

Finally, we have repute, which showed up in the late fourteenth century from the Middle French reputer and classical Latin reputare, to consider. The re- prefix means repeatedly, making the word “to think repeatedly”, which makes sense since considering something is thinking about it a lot. And of course, it’s related to reputation.

TL;DR: Pute means think. Learning achieved.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Goals

Is it just me or do the months seem to be flying by? I wish I was a robot that could work 24/7. Then I’d feel like I was getting something done.

June Goals
1. Read aloud of Malice, including taking notes, and then fixing said notes. I’m fairly certain I can get this done, although reading the entire thing out loud might take longer than I expect.
Did this! It did take longer than I expected, but not by that much. I did start working on some of the notes, and even created a timeline (where I discovered even more problems to fix!), but honestly, right now I’m kind of burned out on MALICE. Maybe it’s looking at those 800+ notes I have to fix and all the rewrites it needs.

2. Sigh…do SOMETHING about my query. Obviously it’s going to need a complete and total rewrite. I may end up having to join some forum or other just to get some opinions, which I’m really not looking forward to. Did I say sigh yet?
Kind of? I did write another query, but I didn’t solicit any outside opinions. I know, there are all these great sites out there where you can post your queries for critiques, but I so hate doing things like that…I guess this one is a partial fail.

3. Two more apocalypse posts! I’ve kind of done zombies to death lately, so I’ll see if I can whip up something about one of the million other apocalypses waiting to take us out.
I got a little derailed by the whole computer thing, but I managed to get both in! Barely. I think I might need a month off from the apocalypse. (I can’t believe I said that!)

Now for this month. Wow, the year is half over…

July Goals

1. Do something about that query and then send out another set. Not that I’m expecting much…

2. Finally get to the read aloud of REMEMBER that I meant to do months ago and never did. If I’m not too distracted by something shiny.

3. Work on recreating some of the projects I lost when my computer crapped out on me. Most of them I could care less about, but there are a couple of things I really liked, even if they’re just for me.

Seriously, I’m so hella pissed that my computer crashed like that. You piece of crap! I gave you everything!