Dec 10, 2016

Portti News!

The results of the Portti writing competition are out, and my story "Kylmempi kuin jää" (literally "Colder than ice," trust me, it's much catchier in Finnish) rated an honourable mention, yay!

The story is the one I originally wrote for the Lumen ja jään antologia, but it didn't fit the criteria for the anthology by the time I was done. It got workshopped twice, once at the writing workshop in Tampere and once through my Finnish online writing group. The feedback I got was invaluable, and the story is quite different from the first draft. Just goes to show, workshops and beta-readers are key. I'm pretty sure the first draft wouldn't have made the grade.

Dec 9, 2016

Loot Crate: Magic

The Magic crate is finally here! 

We got this Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them T-shirt, which is fun because I just saw the movie and quite liked it, except for the deus ex machina ending. Still the best Potterverse film, in my opinion. The Potter movies never really captured the magic of the books for me, but this one really worked, and I loved that it wasn't just more of the same but something new. 

Doctor Strange fig!


         This was definitely my favourite item this month: A Game of Thrones Melisandre journal. Look forward to writing some dark tales in this soon.

We also got a comic book.

And the loot pin, of course, an Elder Scrolls inspired one. It unlocked some extra stuff in the game, I think. 

If you like Loot Crate but don't want to commit without knowing what you're getting, they sell past crates and individual items at the Loot Vault. There are some bargains to be had if you're still looking for Christmas prezzies for geeky friends. 

Dec 7, 2016

Etymology Expeditions: The Weapons Edition

Finally finished playing Witcher III  yesterday. A great game, even though there were a few too many side quests for my taste. Loved the ending, but then, I got the good one:) While playing, I came across some really weird names for weapons. Let's check out a few etymologies!

Halberd (you know, the axe thing mounted on a long handle) comes from Middle High German halmbarte "long axe with handle", from halm, handle + barte "hatchet." The alternative etymology is kind of hilarious: the word might come from helm, helmet, so an axe for bashing in helmets. Speaking of hilarious, halberd in Finnish is "hilpari." Cracks me up every time.

Rapier, as you might have guessed, is of French origin. The origin is uncertain, but it's thought to come from raspiere "poker, scraper."

Pike is an easy one, it's from Middle French piquer "to puncture, pierce."

Flail comes from the West German borrowing of the Latin flagellum "winnowing tool, flail," in Latin "whip."

Arrow is interesting, because it ultimately goes back to Latin arcus, arch, which originally referred to the sun's motion in the sky. The PIE root *arku- means "bowed, curved."So the word "arrow" refers to both the bow and arrow, in a way. The word bow is from Proto-Germanic bugon, "bow."


Dec 6, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

Time to watch the Unknown Soldier and the President's Independence Day reception on TV again. It's  hours of people shaking hands. Yes, we are crazy. 

Dec 5, 2016

Book Recommendation: Deadly Skills and Improvised Weapons

Writing a badass character while being, well, not-so-badass yourself? The 100 Deadly Skills books by Clint Emerson, a retired Navy SEAL, might help. The books are very entertaining read just for fun, but they're also fantastic for researching those secret agents/assassins/bounty hunters many of us  genre types love to write. And it's not just the skills themselves that might come in useful, but the whole mindset of the "Violent Nomad," as Emerson puts it, can help you get into your protag's head and create a more realistic character. 

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangrerous Situation is just than, a well-rounded look into what it means to be a Violent Nomad. The book is split into sections: Mission Prep, Infiltration, Infrastructure Development, Surveillance, Access, Collection, Operational Actions, Sanitisation, and Exflirtation and Escape. Need to know how to trick fingerprint scanning software, turn a newspaper into a weapon,  or to make an improvised infrared light? Emerson's got your back. 

Do you love Jackie Chan movies? Me too. That's why A Guide to Improvised Weaponry by Master Sergeant Terry Schappert, U.S. Army Special Forces, and Adam Slutsky caught my eye. No more boring action scenes, guys! Why not have your protag pick up a plunger or salad tongs instead of a gun? The scene practically writes itself.

In 100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Surviving in the Wild and Being Prepared for Any Disaster Emerson not only gives tips on how to survive a natural disaster or survive in the wild but also talks about defending your home, securing public spaces, and signaling for help. Here you'll learn how to escape a flooded vehicle and to survive a shark attack.  

A word of warning: reading these might leave you feeling a bit jittery for a while and seeing danger everywhere. Hopefully you won't have to actually use most of these skills in real life, but hey, some of this stuff might come in handy sometime.

Now go write that action scene with the plunger. I know you want to!

Dec 2, 2016

Coffee and Cake: Pink Vanilla Desserts

Our coffee shop expeditions continued this week with Pink Vanilla Desserts,  a café run by a couple of American expats who make the best cupcakes in Turku. In addition to visiting the cafés in Turku and Uusikaupunki, you can also order American-style cakes for birthdays and other special occasions, and they're on Foodora, so you can get a box of cupcakes right to your door if you live in delivery range. The shop is located at Maariankatu 2 on Puutori, so about a five minute walk from city centre.

Look at all the cupcakes! And brownies! And cinnamon buns!  There's even a vegan option!

The sweets are the main event, but the café also serves bagels, toasted sandwiches, and an American breakfast with pancakes. 

This café is perfect for those times when I feel a bit nostalgic for California (especially in November, when Finland is at its worst) and crave for something to take the edge off. Like my little sister said, these cupcakes taste like America. I'm pretty sure the kiddies would love this place, and the café is child-friendly.  Can't wait to take my niece and nephew!

But hey, Finland in November is not all bad. These Christmas trees had appeared on Teatterisilta last week. The lights make it feel like a fairytale forest. 

Nov 30, 2016

Etymology Expeditions: Moon Goddesses

So, I was disappointed with the lack of strong female characters in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, so let's take a look at some moon goddesses this week. I like the Greek ones the best, because those ladies are badass. 

Artemis, name of unknown origin, is the Greek goddess of the hunt, childbirth, wild animals, virginity, and the moon, of course. The Roman equivalent is Diana. Her name comes from the PIE-root *dyeu, "to shine." Artemis is often depicted with the bow and arrow in hand, and the cypress and the deer were sacred to her. She was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister to Apollo. She could out-hunt any man and joined the fight in the Trojan war. That's pretty badass, I think. 

Selene, the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, was the personification of the moon. She drove her moon chariot across the sky.  Her name is probably connected from the Greek selas, "light, brightness, bright flame, flash of the eye."

Phoebe was one of the original Titans, daughter of Uranus and Gaia. Her name is from the Greek phoibos, "bright, pure."As well as being associated with the moon, she was probably the goddess of prophesy and oracular intellect.

Hecate, associated with witchcraft, poisonous plants, the crossroads, entrance-ways, ghosts and necromancy, gets her name from the Greek hekatos, "far-shooting." She was seen as an aspect of Artemis, so that probably explains the name.  She is often depicted as a triplicate goddess holding a torch, key, serpent, and dagger. Sometimes she has three heads, a horse, dog, and serpent. And she fought the Titans. In the tale of Jason and the Argonauts, Medea was a priestess of Hecate, but you can't hold that against the goddess. Oh, and did you know one name for aconite is hecateis?

There are many others. For a longer list, check out the Wikipedia article here