Sep 30, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: The Circumflex

French class started a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd do post about the circumflex. We don't have the circumflex or accents in Finnish, so I find it fascinating.

What is it, you ask?

The circumflex is the little hat thingy on top of some vowels. In English, you usually only see it in loanwords like "rôle," for example. In French, it usually marks the former presence of a consonant, usually s, so we get words like pâte, ancêtre, hôpital, fôret, or côte. Sometimes two vowels have contracted into one, like aage-> âge.

It also affects the pronunciation of a, o, and e. It's also sometimes needed to distinguish between homophones (words that sound the same but mean different things).

But, wait a minute. This is French; there's bound to be some exceptions. (Seriously. One day I'm going to use French as a basis for building an alien culture. They have their own way of thinking, that's for sure. Do you know how to say "ninety-nine" in French? Quatre-vingt-dix-neuf. So that's four twenties and nineteen. Kind of complicated, right?)

So yes, I found an exception. This one's a doozie: sometimes they use the circumflex just because it looks nice and lends the word some prestige. That's how we get words like trône and suprême.

I know. It's super weird.

Or . . . maybe they're onto something?

Which looks better, Ânnâ or Anna.


I have to think about this.


Sep 29, 2015

Is There Life on Mars?

NASA found liquid water on Mars!

So exciting! If there's water, is there life, too? What does this mean for a possible mission to Mars? God, I hope it happens in my lifetime...

I hope there aren't any spiders on Mars...

A Strange Night at the Movies

Or two, actually.

I had a bunch of movie tickets that expire this week, so I dragged treated my husband to two movies last weekend.

But I chose . . . poorly.

Very poorly.

On Saturday we saw In the Shadow of Women, an artsy French film about infidelity. (Yeah, most French films are.) I chose it just so we could practice our French, and I guess that particular mission was accomplished, but boy was the movie depressing. Black-and-white, it opened with a dude eating a baguette. For like five minutes. Then he walked around for the rest of the movie looking like he had swallowed a lemon. Then everybody cheated on everybody, depressing stuff. It would have been cheaper just to stay home and listen to the next door neighbours have one of their relationship discussions. Lots of yelling. Lots of loud chewing. An annoying voice-over. There was nothing new, nothing insightful, about this film whatsoever. Yes, I kind of hated it. So did hubby.

So, on to movie number two, Tale of Tales, a fantasy movie about Italian fairy tales. Our expectations were very low, but it couldn't be as bad as the first one, right? Right?


Oh, boy. How to even describe this one? The movie had three different fairy tales that had absolutely no connection to each other, not even thematically. There was no message that I could see. And they were disgusting. I don't know which one grossed me out more, the king who loved fleas too much or the woman who had herself flayed to become young again and somehow still managed to hike up a hill from the forest to the king's mansion. Or the princess who slayed a poor ogre for no apparent reason other that that he had won her as his bride, fair and square. Don't get me wrong, the movie had some effective scenes, but it just didn't come together. It all just felt so random.

I'm never getting my husband to the movies again. Or at least I owe him four hours of opera-watching for this . . . It's going to be painful. And German.

The weird thing was that both of these movies got good reviews. I don't know, am I crazy? Do I have bad taste? Or is this a case of the emperor's new clothes, where no one dares to tell the truth?

Well, there was a bright spot. We got to see the trailer for Crimson Peak. That was the highlight of our moviegoing experience, which tells you something about how bad it all was.

Here's the trailer for Crimson Peak. I have a feeling I'm going to love this movie. Tom Hiddleston, Victoriana, creepy ghosts, and Guillermo Del Toro. It has to be amazing.

Sep 28, 2015

Proust Progress Report

Ha! I finally finished reading The Guermantes way, which means I'm halfway through the Proust Project. Three more years, and I'll be done. (In this edition, The Prisoner and The Fugitive are in one volume.) Why three years? I just can't handle more Proust than one book per year. It takes a certain state of mind to read; I have to force myself to relax and accept that this will take the time it takes. Maybe it's the frantic pace of life nowadays, but it takes effort to slow down and focus on something like Proust. If you don't immerse yourself in the prose, you'll miss out on what makes Proust extraordinary. 

As far as I can tell, the point of the story (the whole set, not just this volume) is to follow the young narrator (we never find out his name, but it's basically Marcel himself) on his way to becoming a writer. He twitters around and talks a lot about writing, but never actually writes, which has to do with the "lost time" theme as well. 

The first book is about his childhood in Combray and about M. Swann (a middle-class gentleman who has somehow managed to get into society circles) and his ill-advised courtship of Odette, a courtesan he eventually marries. The second one, Within a Budding Grove, has the narrator travel to the seaside where he follows a group of girls around (that one ends on a big anticlimax, FYI).  So it's about budding sexuality, and maybe some metaphorical budding as a writer. 

The Guermantes way is the third volume. I think the name is meant to contrast with Swann's Way. As you can tell from the name, this volume is about the Guermantes family. We get to spend more time with Saint-Loup and meet his soldier pals while the narrator tries to wrangle an invitation to meet the Duchess de Guermantes (Saint-Loup's aunt), whom he is obsessed with. Then the narrator's grandmother dies. That part I found quite moving. The next half is about the narrator trying to get into the Duchess Guermantes' salon, and there's a lot of mooning around and idolising her, but then the narrator turns nasty and shows how pompous, uninformed, and vulgar the aristocrats really are, even his beloved Mme Guermantes. He also tells us of her husband, who is unfaithful to her, and their relationship. The Dreyfus affair is also discussed at length. And, as in the previous volumes, everything always seems to come back to that time in the narrator's childhood when he thought his mother wouldn't come up to kiss him goodnight.

As you might have gathered from the above, Proust isn't exactly my favourite writer. It's almost a love-hate relationship. Once again, I found myself frustrated with the book. Nothing much happens, and even when it does, it's something relatively low-key and ordinary, so if you like a bit of plot in your novels, stay away from this one. Even though the characters feel like real people, even the ones that start out feeling a bit like caricatures (I'm looking at you, Bloch), one of the issues for me is that I just can't connect to any of them on an emotional level. I don't really care what happens to them. Most of the characters are quite unlikeable, and the narrator comes off as very judgemental and pompous at times. 

But there is a reason In Search of Lost Time is considered a classic. Proust's descriptions are gorgeous and insightful. I love the way they flow and develop, mimicking memory. Sometimes you just pause and think back to a similar experience, and it feels like he has captured it perfectly on the page. 

There is something fascinating about the idea of lost time and memory. I saw the new Ingrid Bergman documentary Jag är Ingrid at the movies a week ago, and there was a scene from Autumn Sonata where she listens to her daughter play the piano. It's a long scene and she has nothing else to do than to watch the daughter, so the emotion has to show on her face to make the scene work. When she didn't get it right the first time, the director asked her what she was thinking about as the daughter played, and she said something about her not being a concert pianist but still being proud of her. Then  he told her to think of the now grown-up daughter as the child she was, and we get the most beautiful and complex emotion from her: this is her little girl who is all grown up, and when she plays the piano, all the mother sees is the little girl who rushed over to hug her in that spontaneous way that small children do. And now she's losing her. It's amazing. I wish I could do that in my writing. And Proust can. So I'll keep reading until I figure out how he does it.    

My husband loves these books, and offered an insight about the overarching plot (yeah, he says there is one. Imagine that?). Apparently the narrator finally gets around to writing the book (this book), hence  the title of the last part, Time Regained, and all the people we've met along the way come to more or less bad ends. Only the artists and writers prosper; only they have succeeded in creating something that lasts. A powerful message, right? 

Not satisfied with only my own perceptions, I did some googling and found a few analyses of the work. I liked the litkicks one, in case you want to have a look. 

This was a tough book to get through, but I think it was worth it. The next one is called Sodom and Gomorrah, so hopefully things'll pick up in that one. I'll guess find out next year.


Sep 26, 2015

Terribleminds Challenge: Borrowed Title

Another Terribleminds challenge here. This week we're using the titles from last week. The only rule is that you can't use your own. I borrowed this one from Gordo: "The Crack in Lucy's Eye." It turned out all kinds of weird.

The Crack in Lucy’s Eye

The crack in Lucy’s left eye appeared the day lightning struck down her father. Blue against her brown iris, it forked across her pupil like a strange scar. The doctors took out their ophthalmoscopes and examined it from every angle, and a specialist from London even wrote a case report on it, but no one could explain it. When they were certain that it didn’t affect her vision, the doctors finally ceased their poking and prodding. But they were wrong. The crack did affect Lucy’s vision; just not in the way they had thought.
At first Lucy’s mother thought her daughter had developed an imaginary friend. When she was five, it was cute when she prattled on and on to invisible creatures around her, but soon Lucy turned six, then seven, and her strange behavior continued. She spent her entire birthday party hiding behind the couch from the monster on Grandma’s back. Everyone laughed until the old woman turned up dead the next morning.
Lucy sat through the countless psychiatrist’s appointments patiently. She liked talking to the funny creatures sitting on the other patients’ shoulders, at least until her mother left her at the children’s ward for a whole week. After that she learned to stay quiet. But it didn’t stop her from seeing the creatures.

No one was surprised when Lucy chose to become a nurse after she finished school. After graduating, she found her place in a geriatric ward of forty-two patients, most with dementia. She got on well with patients, but her colleagues avoided her, especially on night shifts. Strange rumors circulated of her seeing things, but nothing concrete enough to threaten her job. She did have a few sessions with the occupational care psychologist, who thought the whole thing was ridiculous. Soon after, the worst gossip on the ward had some kind of breakdown and left. No one complained about Lucy after that.

Early on, Lucy had learned that some of the creatures could be reasoned with and others couldn’t. The bloated blue thing that liked to choke COPD sufferers sometimes left if she could persuade the patient to stop smoking, and the little imps that caused schizophrenia were easily distracted and hated the color yellow, but some beings just would not budge. The cancer demons were the worst. On her surgical rotation she had seen them hang onto the lumps of severed flesh right up to the incinerator. The dementia wraiths were also tenacious: once they had sunk their claws into your memories they would never let go.
This was the case for the poor Mr. Rutherford, who lay in his bed, his crow-like claws clutching a fuzzy toy cat one of his grandchildren had brought him. Every one in a while he’d make a “mew” sound and stroke the cat.
Lucy frowned as the grey wraith on Mr. Rutherford's shoulder pushed its claws deep into his head and pulled out another ragged, golden memory. There was a tearing noise as it ripped the memory to shreds. Mr. Rutherford stopped, confused, and then continued petting the toy. Another demon, this one a nasty orange-red, nibbled at his toes, and a third, slimy green, had its tentacles around his chest.
The man didn’t have much time left. Lucy made a mental note to call his daughter and swatted at the green creature. It detached with a squelch. The red demon looked at her and fled under the bed.
“Is that better, Mr. Rutherford?” she asked and straightened his blanket.
“Mew,” Mr. Rutherford answered. The wraith bared its sharp teeth, daring her to come closer.
As Lucy left the room she heard the smacking noises of the tentacle demon climbing back onto Mr. Rutherford’s chest.

Two days later Mr. Rutherford was dying. He had a high fever, and his breath came in rattling wheezes. His daughter had come in for a half hour, most of which she had spent fiddling with her phone. Lucy sat on a stool next to the bed and stroked the dying man’s hand as she waited for the doctor.
The door swung open and Doctor Bree Thomason arrived. She was young enough to not to have accepted her own mortality, but old enough that she had shaken any idealism she had once possessed. Like most doctors, she had a poison-green cynicism demon hanging around her neck. It smirked at Lucy as it licked invisible tears from the doctor’s cheek with its long, black tongue.  The doctor swiped at her face as if brushing away a fly.
“You called?” she said, pulling out a piece of paper and a pen advertising a popular brand of antidepressants.
“Yes, Doctor. I believe Mr. Rutherford’s come down with pneumonia again.”
The Doctor took out her stethoscope and lifted up the man’s puke-colored hospital pajamas.  “Sure sounds like it. How long has he been like this?”
“From last night. The fever went up this morning.”
“All right. Do you think he’ll manage the pills, or shall we give him injections?”
“He didn’t take any of his medications today. I can’t even get him to drink.”
The doctor jotted something down on her pad. “Injections it is, then. He’s in palliative care. We need to respect the family’s wishes. Nothing invasive. No IVs.”
“Yes, Doctor.”
She looked up at Lucy. “Maybe you’d better let the daughter know. He might not pull through, this time.”
“She just left, but I’ll call her.”
“Thank you. I’ll come round tomorrow to see how he’s doing.” The doctor’s gaze rested on the stuffed toy cat and the demon licked another tear off her nose.

Mr. Rutherford got even more restless as the night progressed. Lucy came in as often as she could and chased the demons away, but she couldn’t neglect her other duties. A little after midnight she came in and found the daughter sitting by the bed.
“Hello,” Lucy said.
 The woman didn’t take her eyes off her father. “It’s going to be tonight, isn’t it?” she said.
“I’m sorry. There’s no way to say for sure.” Lucy checked the man’s breathing. The rattles were getting more drawn out and there were long pauses between them. The dementia wraith had curled around the man’s head like a strange, spiky hat.
“I wish I could have talked to him, just once more. He was a good dad, you know, before.” Her voice shuddered.
“I’m sure he knows you’re here.”
“I hope so.”
Lucy swallowed, trying to remove the lump from her throat. Mr. Rutherford might still wake, if she could get the wraith off him. But to do that she needed a little privacy. “Why don’t you go get a cup of coffee, have a little break? I’ll stay with him.”
The woman hesitated, but after a while she gave in. “Okay. Maybe just a short one? I’ll be right back.”
As soon as the door closed, Lucy grabbed one of the demon’s legs and pulled. It kicked and scratched and bit like an incensed cat, and every time she made a bit of progress, the thing scrambled back onto Mr. Rutherford’s head.
“You’ll never get him off like that,” a deep, dark voice said from behind her.
Lucy turned around.
Death leaned against the wall, cold and skeletal in its dark robes embroidered with moonlight.
“Well, what do you suggest?” She wasn’t afraid. Death was no stranger to her; it was a colleague, like Doctor Thomason.
“You’ll need a bait, my dear. Any memories you’re willing to part with?”
Lucy thought. “It can have the two weeks of stomach flu I had last year.”
Death shook his head. “That won’t do. You’ll need something tasty.”
She sighed. “Fine. The day at the zoo when I was five?”
“That will do. Permit me?” Death reached a bony finger towards her head.
Lucy nodded. It didn’t hurt, but its touch was cold and smooth like surgical steel.  Death held a glowing shred of memory, writhing like a snake in its grip. The wraith sniffed the air and started crawling down Mr. Rutherford’s chest.
“Quick. In here!” Lucy lifted the lid off the bedside commode. In went the memory, and the wraith pounced after it. She slammed the lid down and lifted a few heavy boxes of disinfectant from the supply cupboard on top of it. The commode rocked as she pushed it into the connecting, empty room.
Mr. Huntington blinked and his eyes focused. He coughed.
“Nicely done,” Death said, “but I’ll need to take him soon.”
“Come on. Let’s have a cup of coffee so his daughter can say goodbye.”
Death dug an hourglass from its pocket and checked it. “I suppose I can spare a few minutes.”
They passed the daughter in the hall. Lucy smiled at her.
“I was just coming to get you. He’s awake.”
The woman rushed inside.
Lucy took Death by the crook of its arm. “Come on. I have some of those animal crackers you like.”

But It's Got Iron Man on It!

I don't usually drink sugary soda, but... 

I almost bought the Star Wars yogurt, too. 

Why yes, I am in my thirties.


Sep 25, 2015

Once Upon a Time: A Fun Game for Writers

We writers like telling stories, but so do other people, apparently. They like it so much that Atlas has developed a whole game around it: Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game.

How does it work?

One player is the Storyteller  and tries to guide the story toward her own ending using her cards. The other players try to hijack the story from her and become the Storyteller. The winner is the player who uses up all her cards and finishes with the Happy Ever After card.

Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Here's a link to Amazon. What are you waiting for? Go, go, go!

Sep 24, 2015

A Walk in the Enchanted Woods

I woke up to a beautiful foggy morning today, and it happened to be my day off, so of course I grabbed my camera and headed for the woods. (Okay, the nearby park, po-tay-to, po-tah-to.)

Can you see the fairies dancing?

I stepped off the path and soon encountered this old gentleman. He was a bit grumpy, so I didn't stay to chat.

"Come closer, my dear. I don't bite."

These two were having a nice conversation about acorns. 

The mist thickened and I lost the path for a while. Then a friendly squirrel in a top hat offered me a cup of rosehip tea and showed me the way home.

Sep 23, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: The Freemasons

Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with origins going back to the fraternal organizations of the stone masons. Their rituals and meetings are interesting, but the part that fascinates me is the symbolism and allegory associated with freemasonry.

All Masonic rituals make use of the architectural symbolism of the tools the medieval stone masons used to use. They use this symbolism to teach moral and ethical lessons, for example those concerning the four cardinal virtues Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice. Solomon's temple (see image above) is an important symbol in Freemasonry, holding the first three Grand Masters King Solomon, King Hiram I of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff, the craftsman who built the temple.

My husband gave me a very interesting book on mysticism, and it had lots of illustrations that connect to Freemasonry, so I thought I'd share a few tidbits from it. (Yep, I know this isn't exactly etymology, but symbols are a kind of language, aren't they?)

Here's the book. It's full of gorgeous illustrations and fascinating facts on alchemy and symbolism. I highly recommend it.

This depicts the ascent into freemasonry based on three ""great lights": the Bible, the compass, and the square. The glyph (circle with dot inside, near the foot of the ladder) defines the Freemason's task as it places him (the point in the center) in relation to the infinite horizon. The two vertical lines symbolise John the Baptist and John the Evangelist standing by him. The Freemasons have a three-tier rank system adopted from the guilds (apprentice-journeyman-master), and the Jacob's ladder represents the process that transforms raw stone (the apprentice, Prima Materia) into the cubic stone (lapis, Master, I'm assuming?).The female figures are Faith, Hope, and Charity, and the columns represent Strength, Wisdom, and Beauty. One of the columns is Doric, one is Ionic, and one is Corinthian, but I'm not sure if that has any significance. "Beauty" is the most ornate one (Corinthian). The masonic eye is a symbol of the eye of God, and the sun and the moon are also a part of that. On the left you can see the level, which reminds the Masons that they are living on the level of time. The key symbolises silence and urges the Masons to keep the secrets of Freemasonry. I'm probably missing some stuff, but you get the idea.

This is an image depicting a Freemason, formed from the materials of his lodge. The sun represents the imperishable spirit. You can see some of the symbols mentioned above in this image, too. The ear of corn represents the slow and organic course of spiritual maturity, and I think he's wearing the leather apron that's a symbol of Freemasonry. The tassels are a part of the "uniform" too. The chisel tells the Freemasons to smooth out rough parts of their character. The masonic square and compass are also included, of course.  The drop thingy hanging from the figure's left hand might represent the level, but I'm not sure about that one.

If you want to know more, check out the links below.

Alchemy & Mysticism by Alexander Roob

Sep 21, 2015

SpeckLit Time Again!

I'm on SpeckLit again today. Clickety-click here, if you want to take a  look.

And speaking of SpeckLit,  I just got some good news : they've accepted some more drabbles from me for the next quarter. *self-five*

But more about that later . . .

Playing With Scrivener

I'm in the process of moving my book project, working title Shadowlands, into Scrivener, and I thought I'd tell you a bit about the program. Scrivener has many templates built in, but you can also make your own, so that's what I did. It's mostly based on the one K. M. Weiland posted here, but you can put in anything you want, which is very nice. I like having the story structure skeleton there to guide me. I'm hoping that if I hit those scenes I can do whatever I want with the rest, and the story will still hold together. The text on that screenshot is from an old  Terribleminds challenge, in case you're wondering, just because I didn't want to post too many spoilers.

The part about this that I love is the Inspector. I can tag the scenes to the POV character, and later I can view all of the scenes tagged "Reese," for example. It should make it much easier to see if his story arc is working properly. This would be a total pain to do on Word.

Another thing I like is that I can have my research right there in the program, and there's a "quick look" thing where the research document opens in a small window that floats on top of the manuscript page. And I can save videos or images in there in as well as text. Pretty cool, right?    

This is the other great part: the cork board view. You can get an idea of the scenes in one quick look, and you can move them around however you like. If you move the cursor on one of the cards, it shows you the first sentence of the scene in question, and it even generates a synopsis if you want. I prefer to type my own stuff, though. Didn't do that yet because of spoilers. Oh, and the Outline card isn't supposed to be in there, it goes at the top, but as you can drag these around however you want I  moved it there by accident. Whoops.

People talk about Scrivener having a steep learning curve, but I just don't see it. I did the tutorial, which did take a few hours to complete, but I feel I can use the features I need pretty well just based on that.

So, we'll see. I don't think I'll bother using this for short stories, but for a novel this looks like a good fit. The finished manuscript needs to be moved to Word for the final edits, but the program does that for you, so no biggie.

If you want to check it out, here's a link to the site:   
At forty-five bucks it's a pretty good deal for something this useful.

Sep 19, 2015

The Supernova Anthology is out soon!

Here's some info on the Supernova anthology, out October 17th. Sorry, English readers, this one is in Finnish. But look, my giant spiders got on the cover!

(Cover by Arren Zherbin & Venja Suntila)

Here's some info on the anthology:

"Se oli kuin valtava varjo ja se kulki vihellellen. Tuuli seurasi sitä kuin koira, ja lumi lauloi sille."
Näissä novelleissa venytetään todellisuuksien rajoja ja koetaan eriskummallisia kohtaamisia. Aamu- ja iltaihmiset elävät kahdessa eri ajassa ja kohtaavat toisensa vain tiettyyn aikaan päivästä. Kirpeänä pakkasyönä mies ajaa moottorikelkallaan todellisuuteen, jonka vain harvat näkevät. Kissa kulkee rinnakkaisten maailmojen välillä ja houkuttelee ihmisiä mukaansa. Tutkija tähyilee Lapin yötaivaalle eikä tiedä, että jokin taivaalla tähyilee puolestaan häntä.
Supernova on Stk:n uusien kirjoittajien antologia. Nyt estradille nousee kotimaisen spekulatiivisen fiktion tulevaisuuden tekijöitä, jotka tarjoavat lukijoille tuoreita ideoita ja monipuolisen lukuelämyksen: hersyvää huumoria, puhuttelevaa dystopiaa ja mielikuvituksellista scifiä. Kun kotitonttu toimii höyryvoimalla, taideteoksen biomassa herää henkiin ja jättiläishämähäkit ovat kammottavampia kuin koskaan, voi todella sanoa, että spefissä kaikki on mahdollista.
Sisältää novellit:
Marko Järvinen: Tuuleton taivas, seisovat vedet
Liisa Näsi: Koiratalo
Santeri Lanér: Limiaika
Rami Helosmaa: Huomaamaton kohtaaminen
Pyry Palermo: Kuolemantanssi
Mikko Rauhala: Höyryväki
Hanna Hohenthal: Kuolleena syntynyt
Aino-Kaisa Koistinen: Tullivirkailija
Anna Salonen: Kahdeksanjalkaisia
Mia Myllymäki: Talven lapset

Kirjan tiedot löytyvät nyt Risingshadow'n listoilta:  Sekä Goodreadsista:

Sep 18, 2015

What Would Beowulf Do?

Hubby bought a novelty mug. The text is in Old English. This one would have cracked Tolkien up for sure! Fanboys will be fanboys...

( If anybody out there wants to start their morning the old Anglo-Saxon way, I think he got this from Cafepress.)

The Rocky Horror Show Live

Saw it at the movies today, and it was fantastic! I like the "event cinema" thing Finnkino has been doing for the last few years;it's a chance to see great shows you'd never see otherwise.

Here's a link to their web page:

It was weird seeing this with a bunch of Finns. You have to understand that the show attracted a more bohemean crowd than usual, and still only half of the people dared do the Time Warp.

Yup. Note to self: be a little less Finnish, have lots more fun. 

(And yes, I did the Time Warp again! Even though I dance almost as good as Commander Shepard...)

Come on, you know you want to...

Sep 16, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: Writing Words

Up this week: words that have to do with writing.

Novel, from Italian novella, meaning short story. Originally from Latin novella, "new things," also the source for the French nouvelle. At first it didn't mean a longer work at all, but a short story. Longer works were called romances. In Finnish, novelli still means "short story," not novel. 

Story, from Old French estorie, estoire "story, chronicle history," from Late Latin storia, shortened from historia. At first it meant "a recital of true events," but in the 1500s it started to mean a fictional account meant to entertain. 

Book, from Old English boc, "written document," from Proto-Germanic bokiz "beech," maybe because runes were inscribed on beechwood tablets, or even on the trees themselves. 

On to poetry:

Poem, from Middle French poème, from Latin poema, "composition in verse, poetry," from Greek poema, literally "a thing made or created ."

Epic, originally from Greek epikos, from epos,"a word; a tale; a story,"from Proto-Indo-European root word wekw "to speak." The sense of "heroic, grand" is only from the 1700s, which I find surprising.

Lyric from Latin lyricus,  "of or for the lyre," from Greek lyrikos, "singing to the lyre." Unsurprisingly, the word "lyrics" has the same root.  

Quatrain, from Middle-French quatrain, "four-line stanza," from Old French quatre, "four." Okay, so now you want to know about stanza, too. Here you go: Stanza, from Vulgar Latin stantia, from Latin statem "to stand." On a related note, sestina is a fixed verse consisting of six stanzas of six lines each, followed by a three line envoi, a short stanza meant to address a person or to comment on the body of the poem. The words that end the first stanza are used as line endings in the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern. 

Boy, poetry is complicated. Maybe I should stick to prose? 

Okay, so far this has been pretty straightforward, but let's finish with a tough one:

Iambic tetrameter. Iambic, from Latin iambicus, from Greek iambikos, from iambos, "metrical foot of one unaccented followed by one accented syllable," from iaptain, "to put forth."The next part is easier. Tetrameter from Late Latin tetrametrus, from Greek tetrameron, "verse of four measures."  Tetra "four"+ "metron "measure." Metre, the unit of length, comes from the same root. 

Happy writing!


Sep 15, 2015

Mothership Zeta

I mentioned before that one of my stories had been accepted for publication in Mothership Zeta.
Here's a little info on the magazine from their site:

The new project from Escape Artists is coming: Mothership Zeta! Edited by Mur Lafferty with assistance from Sunil Patel and Karen Bovenmyer, Mothership Zeta is a quarterly website/ezine that will feature fiction and nonfiction of interest to the speculative fiction-loving world. We’ll be featuring reprints from our sister podcasts, new fiction, and some really interesting stuff we’re keeping under our hats for now!

My piece "The Customer Is Always Right" will be appearing in the inaugural issue in October, in case anyone wants to check it out.

If you're tired of all dystopia all the time, I think you'll like Mothership Zeta.

More info on the website: 

Sep 14, 2015

Terribleminds Challenge: Space Opera

This time we get to write a thousand words of space opera for the Terribleminds challenge. Here's mine.

Occupational Hazards

Phantasma sighed with pleasure as the steaming water ran over her skin and rinsed the last traces of the passenger ship from her hair. No more sonic showers for a few months; her last job had seen to that. Who could have known the Zha of Opal placed such value on a bunch of dead ancestors in their decorative urns? The balance in her account would cover the cost of the hotel for a year, but all this luxury might make her soft. No, a few weeks would have to do. She reached for the shampoo bottle and brushed wet hair out of her eyes. Even the shampoo was fancy, with little flecks of gold suspended in the coppery liquid. It smelled expensive, like credit chits and champagne.
She heard the door slide open. The ruffian she had picked up at Supernova, no doubt. Looked like she hadn’t tired him out after all.
“Hey, handsome.  Got enough beauty sleep? Come on, join me,” Phantasma said without turning around, sliding a nail under the shampoo bottle’s cap. She wouldn’t mind another go if he was up for it. He had reasonable technique and he had stuck the landing; besides, she had always been a sucker for body art and a certain roguish swagger.
Then she heard the familiar swoosh of a plasma gun heating up.
Uh oh.
She turned around, slowly, the shampoo bottle still in her hand. There he was, in his scuffed leather pants, shirt still off, holding the plasma gun. Her plasma gun, to be exact.
 How embarrassing.
“Get out,” he said, backing away. She could see from his expression that he meant business. No flirting her way out of this one, then.
“Take it easy. I’m coming.” She stepped out of the stall, dripping all over the nice therm-active tile that warmed as her bare feet touched it. “Just out of curiosity, which of the bounties are you going for? Because I can double it and then we can get back to more pleasant matters.” Well, a little flirting couldn’t hurt.
“Shut up.”
He wanted to do it the hard way? Fine. In one fluid motion she sent a squirt of shampoo flying at the man’s eyes and kicked the gun out of his hand. Soon after, the bottle hit him in the face and broke, splattering its contents everywhere. Phantasma spun around and swiped the man’s legs out from under him, an easy move as he was standing in a pool of shampoo. He landed with a wet slap, knocking the back of his head on the floor, hard. He lay there with a stunned expression on his face, wiping shampoo from his eyes, giving Phantasma plenty of time to retrieve the weapon. She pointed it at him.
“Now, be a good little bounty hunter and get up. Hands on your head. There we go. And sit.”
He complied, a defeated look in his eyes. She felt around on the nightstand for her forcecuffs and tossed them to him. “Cuff yourself to the chair. That’s it. Now stay.”
Keeping one eye on him, Phantasma grabbed a towel and wrapped it around herself, then sat on the bed opposite him. The gun she pointed right at his face. “Start talking, and I might be persuaded to give you an easy death. Who are you working for?”
“I can’t.” What the hell? Was he actually crying
She lowered the gun. “What do you mean you can’t?”
 “They have my parents. They’ll kill them.”
“So you tried your hand at bounty hunting. Gotta tell you, not impressed so far.” She gave an exaggerated sigh. “All right. If you’re not going to tell me, fine. I’ll just be going.” She started gathering her belongings.
“No, wait! You have to help me! You can get them out!” He reeked of sweat and despair even through the flowery scent of the shampoo.
“Sorry, hon. I don’t do charity.” She zipped the bag shut. “But I might just go see your employer, teach him a lesson. Maybe I’ll run into you parents on the way.”
She had him, and he knew it.
He lowered his head, and she could see the ink running on his fake tattoos. Now that was adding insult to injury. What was he really? A file pusher? Mechanic? Way too clean cut for her taste, anyway.
Finally he spoke. “Zabe Algernon, head of the Ravagers gang. He controls the whole operation. All the Coalition officers are in his bottomless pockets. His mansion is in its own support dome, half a kilometer to the west.”
“Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Thank you . . . What’s your real name, anyway?” Phantasma asked.
“Cam. Cam Davis.”
“Okay, Cam. I’ll see what I can do. Say goodnight!”
He never saw the dermspray coming. From past experience Phantasma knew he’d be out for six to eight hours, minimum; more than enough time to pay Mr. Algernon a visit. Better to take care of him now: he might send someone halfway competent next time.
But first she would finish her shower.
Too bad someone had spilled all that nice shampoo.