A to Z Challenge 2013

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cricket Song - A Sample WiP

Joseph over at Magicellus asked for a sample of a WiP.   I struggled to come up with something I felt post-worthy, but nothing was really working for me today (guess I'm still a bit rusty).  But since I didn't want to disappoint, the following is an excerpt of something I created quite some time ago.

Cricket Song

Jimmy woke quickly, sitting upright a little too fast and getting dizzy in the process. The darkness of the cabin's interior was a threat, some obscure but tiny sound setting his nerves on edge. He felt so scared, frozen and unable to figure out where he was or what was going on. His ten year old mind finally worked through the fog to recall their trip to the mountains, and his eyes now saw the rest of the family asleep in their own sleeping bags.

There wasn't much furniture here, so they all slept on the floor in the front room, the warmth of the slowly dying fire sending out its tendrils to stave off what would otherwise be a permanently cold slumber party. He pulled the sleeping bag tighter around his legs, cocking his head to find the source of the sound. There it was again. A lone cricket had found its way inside, probably to stay warm. In rhythmic time, it put out a slow symphony of chirps, and for some reason the tone set Jimmy's teeth to grinding.

He'd read in a book somewhere that crickets rub their back legs together or something to make the sound. Visions of the tiny insect flooded his mind, causing him to shudder. The picture he remembered seeing showed this cricket with long legs, claw-like barbs along their length. He never did like their faces, the way the eyes seemed capable of looking through you. Their mouths were disgustingly monstrous, as they chewed through whatever it was crickets ate.

He suddenly couldn't remember what it was that crickets ate, and the question left a dry taste in his mouth. The chirping became a drone, hitting his spine like a knife as he sat there trying to frantically remember what crickets liked. Creeping doom began to build within him, his imagination taking a simple idea and creating horrific visions in great detail. Maybe the reason they chirped was to lull everyone to sleep. Isn't that what everyone always said, that the sounds of crickets would make you sleep better?

His young mind couldn't remember anything for sure, and the anxiety was building to an almost maddening torrent of fear. The chirping seemed closer somehow. He reached down slowly with a hand, his little fingers searching for the flashlight his mother had set beside his makeshift bed. His smooth fingertips touched the wooden floor, feeling the grainy texture but not finding what he was expecting. Like excited spiderlegs, his fingers danced around trying to touch the plastic tube of the flashlight's casing. Still nothing. The chirping had stopped; the cabin was a grave, silent and still except for the resounding clamor of his own heart.

Finally Jimmy stretched his arm out, the pale skin luminescent in the darkness, and he felt something hard and cold. Tracing its shape carefully, he grabbed it and pulled the flashlight in close. His fingers searched for the button, finding it halfway up along the shaft. A lone chirp made him jump, his other hand leaping to cover his mouth as a scream threatened to escape. With careful pressure, he pressed the button, launching a shaft of light skyward and destroying his night vision in the process.

His eyes were tightly closed now, his mind scrambling to gain control once more. Every nerve in his body was firing, as if a thousand ants were crawling just beneath the skin, their little feet touching everywhere. He pictured the cricket out there somewhere, waiting patiently for him to go back to sleep. The light was on, but he couldn't find any solace in that fact. Jimmy was terrified, sure that something was waiting for him in the darkness.

He opened his eyes slowly, one after the other. He gazed around, seeing the dim lumps on the floor nearby that should be his family. Something wasn't right though. Then it dawned on him. There was no sound, no breathing. His father wasn't snoring like usual, a comforting chainsaw tone. There was no movement whatsoever, and the resounding beat of his own heart was a fast paced rock concert, loud and echoing in his own ears.

"Mom", he whispered carefully, not really believing she would answer. There was no response, and the silence of the room was crushing him. "Mom...Daddy...”, he cried pitifully. The enormity of possibly being all by himself was hitting him like a hammer, his fragile mind beginning to crack under the pressure. Tears began to well up in his eyes as fear tore him to shreds.

His dad said the mind sometimes played tricks on you, so he decided to shine the flashlight on someone - anyone - and wake them up. The beam moved down from the ceiling, showing the bare timber walls and empty room. Despite his terror, Jimmy took his time aiming the flashlight at the nearest sleeping bag, unsure what would be there and not really sure he wanted to find out. As the beam reached its target, he screamed without end, a wretched painful sound that ended abruptly as the flashlight fell to the floor with a clunk. The darkness enfolded the room once more like a blanket. Chirp. Silence.

Well, that's it.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Feel free to comment and let me know what you liked, what you didn't, what worked, etc.

My Sympathies

Initially I wasn't going to put up a post about the tragedy in Connecticut.  My reason for this was because I felt no words could adequately describe my sorrow over the loss of life.  But after thinking about it for some time, I wish to put my heartfelt thoughts and prayers out here.  The thought of this happening to my family is more than I care to imagine.  To all the affected families, I pray you will find the strength to make it through this tragedy and eventually find some form of peace.

As for the person responsible, I wish only that your life be ended as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Executing you may not be equivalent justice, but erasing you from existence means you cannot taint our world further.  You lost all rights to life the minute you ended the lives of others.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Welcome To The Hobbit

Before I get too far into this, I want to warn everyone I will be putting up some potential spoilers.  There's just a few things I have to get off my chest about this movie.

I would consider myself a HUGE fan of both The Hobbit and The LOTR trilogy.  I am also a HUGE fan of the movies for LOTR, despite the changes in story/characters/etc.  Since I knew they had planned three movies for The Hobbit (something difficult considering the length of the book compared to LOTR), I knew I needed to keep an open mind going in.  And for the most part, I'd say I enjoyed the movie.  There are a few key things however, that still bother me. (SPOILERS AHEAD)

Principal of these errors (for me anyway) is the change in how Bilbo found the ring.  In the book, Bilbo found himself in intense darkness that was Gollum's cave.  The ring had abandoned Gollum some time before, hoping to find another way back home.  It was only as Bilbo was stumbling around in the dark (confused and scared) that he found the ring.  In the movie, they make the event much more dramatic (and obvious).  In my mind, it lessens the impact and makes it too scripted.

The riddle-game also lacked the characterization Tolkien built into the scene.  In the book, Gollum is torn between his excitement at playing games with someone else and his desire to eat Bilbo.  It's a very obvious thing, shown by how far away he starts out from Bilbo and how much closer he tries to come.  The tension is palpable.  In the movie, they start with it as Gollum gets really excited over a game.  But then for some reason, that conflict is lost.  It's really too bad, because they spent so much time in the LOTR movies showing his remaining humanity (or hobbit-ness) and they could have done the same thing here.

The last gripe I have is regarding the Goblin King.  Now I don't know about the rest of you but for me, the Goblin King was a figure of power and terror for the dwarves.  His voice was deep and booming.  In the movie, the figure they drew was lame and completely unimpressive.  The voice they used was so pitiful as to make you wonder how he could ever command anyone.  And I REALLY don't get the huge chin/neck bulge dangling below his face.

The other things added in (i.e. Radagast's story, the start of the Necromancer's tale, the albino orc leader, etc) are what I expected given three movies for this book.  But some things really shouldn't be changed in my mind.  It's the same type of mistake that made me cringe when Arwen controlled the waters of Rivendell rather than her father.

In the end, I guess I still enjoyed the movie overall.  I am still looking forward to the next two.  I just hate having some of my fears confirmed, particularly with a book I enjoy so much.  If you're still here with me and have already seen the film, what did you think?  Am I being overly critical or were there things that bugged you too?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time To Start Over

After an extremely long absence, I'm returning to the world of writing.  I'm pretty happy to be doing so.   I've missed all the fun, I've missed all the people, and most of all I've missed writing.  After being away this long (without writing anything whatsoever), I feel like I'm starting over from scratch.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing though.

While I was off doing other things, the craft of writing still found its way into my head at various moments.  I thought a great deal about what'd I'd done, and more often than not my thoughts were on what I've done wrong.  As I now embark on this journey again, I've made some decisions to be at least a little more formalized in my writing.  I plan on figuring out a process that works for me and setting some concrete goals, like publishing a short story maybe.  I'm still working it out but my desire to be successful as a writer is burning brighter than it ever has before.

I also have to say just how much I've missed being part of the writer community.  I miss all the fun stuff I used to be a part of, and more importantly I miss chatting with and learning from all you talented writers.  Since I'm usually fairly anti-social, it actual surprised me how much I miss you guys.  It's out of character for me, but I look forward to getting caught up and staying up-to-date on what everyone is doing.

I'm back and I hope everyone who used to stop by will return once more.  I plan on being even more invigorated than ever before, and I also hope to make some great strides in my writing ability.  Look for me on your pages and (someday) on some literary front.  I think the next year will be a good one :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Closing My Doors...For A While

I've been avoiding coming to this conclusion for some time now, but there's no ignoring the facts.  I just don't have the time (or energy maybe) to continue this blogging journey.

I keep finding myself saying I'll create a post and then life rears its ugly head.  Then I feel bad because I haven't done anything.  Then I make myself a promise to do it next time.  And then I pop my head up to realize 4 more days have gone by without a post.

It has been hard to come to this decision, but I have to put the blog to the side for now.  I hate the feeling that I'm giving up, but I just don't see any alternatives at this point.

I sincerely apologize to all of you who have remained a follower through my highs and lows.  I truly have appreciated every comment, every supportive word, every moment thus far.

While I won't be blogging for at least a year (as I work to finish school), you may still see me lurking here or there.  There are still a ton of talented people out there continuing their respective blogs and I do enjoy reading them when I can.

Take care and I hope to see you all again someday.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I'm Back...sort of

In case nobody noticed, I've been unplugged from the writing/blogging world for over a month.  Part of the time was deliberate (when I was on vacation during the latter half of May), but the rest of the time is just unintended absence.

I am very close to finishing up my degree (seven classes) and this has taken up the majority of my time lately.  The papers are difficult to write, but this only makes me want to get it done quicker.  Add to this the fact that I find myself fairly well uninspired (well, other than brief creative moments) and you can see why I haven't been writing much.

I do think it's time I get back on the ball though and at least devote a little energy to this arena.  For one thing, it's a nice diversion from everything else.  I also don't want to stay in a rut of uninspired lethargy.  That's where I was before I began this blog and I don't want to go back there.  So expect to see at least three entries a week.  I'm still deciding what form they will take, but I have commited myself to at least that much.

On a final note, it is with profound sadness that I take a moment to think about the impact of Ray Bradbury.  His passing is the end of an era.  His stories propelled me towards a love of sci-fi (The Martian Chronicles) and I hope his legacy continues to inspire future generations to read and imagine.  He had a great run though, and his effect on writers and readers around the globe has been huge.

Now its time to play catchup on all of those blogs I haven't read in too long.  You may not see me, but know that I'm lurking in the webz somewhere.  Yep, I'm stalking your blogs, waiting to pounce with a meaningful comment.  Feel free to return the favor :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writing Helps Me Write Better

The title might sound illogical, but it's really not.  I had an epiphany yesterday while doing homework.  I've been working on papers for an Organizational Management class (yes, truly riveting stuff) and I had to revise a section on one of my assignments.  As I agonized over the right way to write what I'm thinking and meaning to say, I realized that my creative writing (and all I've learned from this writing journey thus far) has helped me improve other forms of writing that I do.

I was pulling out words and/or sentences that I knew were extraneous and being very precise in what I wrote.   I'm not a fan of writing papers for school as it is, so when I do write them, I tend to just write what's needed to get a good grade on the paper.  Sometimes I find a subject I can be passionate about, but it's few and far between these days.  I guess my point is however, that it is the experiences I've had while learning to write creatively that has allowed me to see the extraneous writing (where I might not have before).  And that's kind of cool.

The A to Z challenge is over, but I do admit that it's helped me remember why I started blogging in the first place - because it's fun.  I'll be doing my best to put up a post about 3 days a week though, since I'm down to the last 7 classes in my degree and I'm really pushing to get it finished.  I hope to be graduated (or almost) by this time next year.  It's going to be tough to achieve, particularly since I haven't figured out what I'm going to do for my capstone, but I'll be so glad when I'm done.

Anyway, here's to a blogging actively through the month of May.  What about everyone else?  Did you find the A to Z challenge invigorating?  What are your plans for May?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zumbooruk

The last entry in the A to Z challenge is a really interesting word - Zumbooruk.  It means:

A small cannon carried on the back of a camel

Yes, you read that right.  At some point in time, somebody thought it'd be a good idea to shoot a cannon from a camel's back.  Can you imagine how incredibly hard it must have been to keep that animal still each time you fired a cannonball?  Cannons are fairly loud, and I bet those poor camels were ready to stampede after every shot.  Just goes to show you that we (humans) make some fairly dumb decisions in the pursuit of war and weaponry.

As I finish up this challenge, I have to say it actually was quite a challenge.  I do admit I had to cheat a little near the end (due to illness) but I'm still glad I put up the 26 posts.  Going forward, I don't know if I'll be able to keep up posts every day, but I do think this challenge has reminded me why I started blogging.  It's fun.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on my word choices, this word in particular, or what you liked best during the month of April.

Y is for Yaffingale

The second to the last word in this A to Z series is Yaffingale, which means:

a green woodpecker

I had no idea there were green woodpeckers.  Maybe it's just me (or the fact that I grew up with a cartoon with a red woodpecker), but the whole oddity of this creature makes it a prime candidate for a sci-fi world.  Maybe you even make it really important that the woodpeckers are green, kind of as a way to pull the reader in.

Another thought I had while thinking about this word is pairing up this and Nightingale.  The names could be used for two opposite factions in a medieval setting.  Or maybe they use the birds as their means of sending messages.  Food for thought anyway.

What do you think of this word?  Any other ideas come to mind?

X is for Xyster

You gotta love kids.  Diseases must since my kids seem to bring home every stomach flu or virus known to man.  I fell off the A to Z wagon unfortunately due to being bedridden for a bit.   That means I will have to cheat a bit and put up the last 3 posts today.

In any event, the first word is Xyster which means:

a surgical instrument for scraping bone

This is a totally cool word, and I absolutely have to use it in a crime or horror story someday.  Just the imagery of scraping bone (especially if it's on a victim rather than a patient) sends chills down my spine.  I can definitely see a place for this word with the right malicious or devious (or potentially insane) character.

Any other cool ideas you can come up with for this word?

Friday, April 27, 2012

W is for Wicket

Today's word is interesting to me because of it's medieval meaning.   The word is Wicket and it means:

a small gate or door;  a grilled or grated window through which business is transacted

What I'm referring to when I say this word has a medieval meaning is the first part of this definition.  This word is for the door that's a part of a larger castle gate.  For example, castles can have a large gate or door and there may be a smaller door inset in it that is designed to let one person through.  This could also be like those single doors that are part of the larger door on a barn.

The second part of the definition is more akin to a banking window (like in the old West).  I didn't really know there was a specific word for it, so I've learned something new today too.  This is another writer's word that could come in handy in a given scene.

Ever had the opportunity to us this word in writing or even conversation?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

V is for Verecund

Though today's word could have been something cool like Vendetta (I loved the movie V for Vendetta btw), I chose a word that aptly describes so many of us writers in social situations.  It is the word Verecund, and it means:

bashful, modest, or shy

I don't know about the rest of you, but it took me some time to get past my introverted habits when it comes to social gatherings.  People that knew me in high school would probably see the difference in who I was compared to who I am now as night and day.  Part of that is a higher level of self-confidence, but sometimes I just have to force myself to deal.

This is another great writer's word.  Used in the right passage, I could definitely see it used effectively to describe a given character.  Who knows, by the time I finish this A to Z, I could have given one of you 26 new tools for your writer's toolbox.

What are your thoughts on this word?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U is for Unctuous

Today's word is another great writer's word.  It's Unctuous and it means:

slimy, oily, greasy;  offensively suave and smug

The reason this is such a great word is because you can use it to aptly describe a villainous character (or even just one you want to be fairly annoying).  Every time I think of this word, I imagine a politician or lawyer.  Yeah, I am a bit cynical when it comes to those professions.

When I first saw this word though, I mistakenly thought it was referring to a foul odor.  I don't know why, but even now when I look at it, I can see how I could mistake it.  It just looks like it could mean something stinky (and the real definition isn't that far off).

What's your take on this word?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

T is for Tachyon

Okay, today's word is actually only theory, but I like it anyway.   The word is Tachyon and it means:

a hypothetical subatomic particle that always travels faster than the speed of light

This word just screams Sci-Fi.  And of course, if we could ever prove that it actually exists, we'd be light years ahead in our grasp of technology and the world around us (pun intended).  I suppose it could be argued that this word has been used too often, but I still like the sound of it.

Imagine if you made a gun that emitted Tachyons.  Does that mean the victim would be shot before you actually pulled the trigger (since going faster than the speed of light means going backward in time...theoretically of course)?  The ramifications of this type of thing just sends my mind in circles, but I'm loving the implications nonetheless.

What do you think about this word?

Monday, April 23, 2012

S is for Sanguine

Today's word is one of my favorites - Sanguine.  It's one of those words that sounds cool when you say it and it means:

Ruddy; a healthy reddish color; consisting of or relating to blood

From a writer's perspective, this is an awesome resource word.  This is one of those words you can pull out of your toolbox and toss out there to great effect.  It can be used for character description or as a great way to describe the landscape.

When I first encountered this word, I didn't really know what it meant.  I actually remember pulling out the dictionary to look it up (yes I was a geek that way).  I've remembered it ever since.

Can you think of opportunities when this word could be useful?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

R is for Rhumb

The word of the day is Rhumb, which has an interesting meaning:

Any of the points on a mariners compass

I actually didn't know a lot about a mariners compass, so I did some research.  One interesting thing to note is that early mariners compasses had a problem with the magnetized iron wire;  it tended to be attracted to large land masses.  Another interesting fact is that each ship had to keep a magnetized lodestone to re-magnetize the iron wire from time to time since it lost its magnetism periodically.

Just looking at this word, it reminds me of the dance style the Rumba.  Maybe the sailors were doing the Rumba every time they fixed the Rhumb with their lodestone.  Okay, that's silly maybe, but it makes me laugh to think about anyway.

What do you think about this word?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Q is for Quixotic

Now that we're on the letter Q (one of my favorite letters), the first word I thought of was Quixotic, which means:

foolishly impractical, particularly in the pursuit of ideals; marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action

You might say this word describes the hopeless romantic, to the extreme.  In another sense, you could think of someone who is quixotic as being impossibly idealistic.  I thought about why I like this word so much, and aside from the meaning (I don't think any idealistic thinking is foolish, nor is any level of chivalrous action rash), I really like the fact that there's a Q and an X in one word.  It's just cool.

What do you think of this word?  Any other interesting Q words you'd like to share?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

P is for Pharos

I've had to skip a day due to school stuff, but I'll catch up on Sunday.   In any event, today's word is Pharos which means:

A lighthouse or beacon

This is an interesting word to me because it obviously reminds me of Pharaoh, and the meaning isn't that far off either.   Okay, probably only the Pharaoh and his truly loyal subjects believed this meaning.  I'm sure the tons of slaves didn't exactly think of it the same way.   But what interests me is how a name for the office was picked that fits the agenda for that office.

It's interesting - and tragic sometimes - what words are chosen for certain things.  Whole political or religious structures are created and maintained by just the right words.  And those who never really know the origins of words never figure out they're being subjugated for no real reason other than whatever they're told.

Anyway, didn't mean to get all serious on everybody.  What imagery does this word evoke for you? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Orrery

My first choice for an O word would have been Onomatopoeia, but I can see too many people picking that one (and I haven't met anyone yet who hadn't at least heard of the word).  Instead I have chosen a word that is pretty hard to say clearly five times fast, namely Orrery:

A mechanical model of the solar system that allows one to move the various planets around at their correct velocities around the sun

Okay, how many of you sat there trying to say it five times?  It's not that easy, at least to say it intelligibly.  It's a neat word though, and it's a tool I have always thought would be awesome to have in a large scale.  Remember the movie The Dark Crystal?  I loved that huge model Aughra used for their own solar system.  It was so cool looking and I imagined how much fun it'd be to hang out in that room watching it move around.

Any other images this word conjures for anyone?

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Niveous

Today's word is the first one I've chosen specifically because of how cool it would be to use in a written passage.  The word is Niveous and it means:

to be snowy white, to resemble snow

This word just sounds so cool.  You can imagine using it in some descriptive passage, creating the imagery in the reader's mind with just this one word.  Yes, I am aware of the "rule" about using a complex or obscure word when a simple will do.  It's a big no-no.  But c'mon, this word flows easily off the tongue.  Here, let me show you what I mean:

Mekur slipped down the pathway, his bare scaly feet moving in silent rhythm.  His amber eyes took on a grayish hue as they pierced the forest ahead.  Movement in the clearing made him pause, pointed ears straining to verify what his eyes couldn't.  With one hand holding an ash bow, he crept forward ever so slightly.   One younger guarded by at least one adult stamped around nervously, possibly smelling Mekur despite his upwind position.  Or maybe they just sensed the door to oblivion opening, the way an old tiger knows when its time has come.

He nocked a shaft with careful precision, pushing a branch aside to aim.   A shot just beneath the male's single horn would end it.  The mare would be too startled to react, giving him time for the second shot as well.  And the colt...he would taste its flesh tonight over darkened flame.  Their brilliant hue hurt his eyes, but not for much longer.  The beasts startled and the male reared up on hind legs, striking out with ivory hooves in mock battle.  Mekur stumbled blind as they galloped away, a niveous wave of purity and magic.  As he shook off the effects, his mood darkened.  Master would not be pleased.  In fact, it might be he who would be going through that door instead.

Okay, so I made everyone wait a bit before using the word itself, but I guess that's just how my muse works.  Anyone else have thoughts on this cool word?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

M is for Monotroch

Since Saturday was a busy day for me, I am putting up my M post on Sunday.  And today's word is Moulin, which means:

A shaft in a glacier caused by water running down a crack

It just goes to show you that there is a word for everything.  Can you imagine the scientist who came up with this one?  Here they are clambering over the ice and they discover this hole.  Maybe they fell down through the hole and Moulin is the moaning sound they made while they lay at the bottom of the shaft.  Then while they lay there waiting for someone to save them, they had time to watch the water slowly erode the ice more and more.

Okay, it's a bit of a stretch but its as good a guess as any.  Which brings me to another topic.  I often wonder how some words are created.  After all, not all words are based on some linguistic root word from Latin or Greek.  There's probably a reason for most of them, but sometimes I think people just randomly toss some syllables together and there you have it - a new word.

Anyone else have a thought about the word Moulin?

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Luciferous

Today's word is luciferous, which is ironic given its meaning:

Bringing light or insight; illuminating

The religious implications are interesting, since (in the Christian realm) Lucifer is the name of God's nemesis, the deceiver, the one who causes all us lowly humans to behave badly.

Of course, since the United States is often called The Great Satan by certain cultures (or The Great Lucifer in other words), maybe we should consider that a compliment?

I can hear the Satanists chanting everywhere right about now.

"See, we told you.   What we're doing is bringing light to your world.  You just call it darkness.  Yeah, that's it."

Imagine using this word in conversation.  You can of course explain afterwards, but you know they'll be wondering if you draw pentacles on the floor in silver and light black candles after midnight (or whatever it is such people do.  I'm stereotyping here and have no real idea LOL).

So anyone up for a luciferous discussion?

K is for Kuru

Is there a word for an inability to make blogger scheduling work like its supposed to (no comments from the peanut gallery, Rick Daley)?  It's also rather ironic that I'm an IT guy and I can't ever get a scheduled post to actually post correctly.

In any event, here is the post I was supposed to have up yesterday.  Today's (or yesterday's rather) word is Kuru, which means:

A degenerative brain disease that is contracted via cannibalism

Now that is an awesome word IMHO.  Can you imagine the discussion with your doctor if you come up with this particular ailment?

"Dammit, I knew I should have just said no when we were all deciding who would eat Fred."

Of course, its a great form of revenge for people captured in the Polynesian islands.  Muhaha, go ahead and eat me buddy.  You're going to die a slow painful death later!

Sorry for the lateness, I'll put up my L post in just a bit (manually of course).  Any other thoughts on this cool word though?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jansky

J is such a cool letter.  It's the one you might hate to get when playing Scrabble (particularly near the end of the game).  It's just one of those letters that starts some unique and interesting words, such as Jansky:

A unit of strength of radio wave emissions

The definition above is a very basic one, since this measurement actually deals with astronomy and/or astrophysics.  It was named after Karl Guthe Jansky, who was a pioneering US radio astronomer.

Which leads me to another funny thought.  Do radio astronomers act as DJs to the stars?  You know, play a little Motown for the tiny green men on Mars?  I can hear it now:

"Thanks for listening to K-ERTH, your local galactic home for the latest Motown hits.  Before I spin out some Cloud Nine, let's take a call.  K-ERTH, you're on the air."

"Squeeniormoe meeennerirqierngier puweere"

"What's that?  You're coming through a little squeeky and rough?  Oh well, try calling back later.  For the rest of you floating through the stars, make sure you stop by...Cloud Nine with the Temptations..."

Anyway, what does this word remind you of?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Ichnite

Initially I was going to choose Inconceivable for today's post, but everyone knows that word, everyone should know that movie, and it's really only cool if you're shouting it in reference to something that actually is conceivable.

Instead, I give you the word Ichnite:

A fossil that is a footprint

That's right, there's a special word for those dinosaur tracks you found outside your back door.  When I first read this word, I thought of German dynamite.  The ch is hard-sounding and that always reminds me of German words.

I guess another definition could be a night that grosses you out?  Maybe you're referring to waking up next to someone you met via beer goggles and the morning light shows you the truth.

"Oh, what an ichnite.  I shouldn't have let her buy me three more shots of Tequila."  (whispered as you quietly sneak out of the apartment)

Now that I've really taken this word to all time lows, what do you think?  Any other alternative definitions?

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Harbinger

The word Harbinger is one that I previously associated with bad occurrences.  But when I went to verify the definition(s), I found it actually is neither bad nor good:

1.  one that pioneers in or initiates a major change
2.  one that presages or foreshadows what is to come

As you can see, it depends what the person/event is a harbinger of.  The common saying is a harbinger of doom, but you could just as likely be a harbinger of success.

This is just one of those words I like.  I like the way it sounds when I say it.  It even sounds ominous, which it very well could be.

I am the harbinger of more fun words (okay, it doesn't have quite the same impact as harbinger of doom).

What are you a harbinger of?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Gammicism

Today's word is actually very ironic given it's meaning.  The word is Gammicism and it means:

Having difficulty or being unable to pronounce the letters 'g' or 'k'

It's kind of funny that the word starts with the same letter those afflicted by it cannot pronounce.  These type of people have a disability and they can't even name it.

Along similar lines, have you ever thought about how you would describe an orange's color to someone who was born blind or who has never seen the color orange?  Imagine for example, an alien race that only sees in black and white.  What do you say?

"Well, it's....orange..."

Okay, I drifted off track for a moment, but it's just one of things that makes you think.  Just looking at the word Gammicism makes me think of some kind of religious sect that worship nuclear explosions.  Like the mutated humans in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes.  Maybe they were actually followers of a different definition of Gammicism - nuclear missile worship.

Oh, and if you didn't check out yesterday's word, it got a great deal of attention.   Just goes to show you how a slight difference in spelling catches everyone's eye.

So what does this G word make you think of?

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Formication

Did you do a doubletake? In case you're wondering, no that it not a misspelling.  I did not choose an F word dealing with sex.  Today's word is Formication, which means:

The illusion or hallucination of insects crawling under the skin.

Oh yeah, this is definitely a favorite.  If you say it outloud, people around you exclaim, "What did you just say?" in shock or outrage.  Then when you explain, they get creeped out as the imagery this word evokes crawls across their mind.

It's kind of funny when you think about it.  If you think insects are climbing around under your skin, shouldn't you be more worried about what holes you have (that are large enough to let them in and are probably bleeding profusely) instead of worrying about the insects themselves?  Eh, maybe it's one of those moments when sheer panic is acceptable and expected.

Either way, this is a great word. 

Do I dare ask what other F words you people can come up with?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Etymology

In keeping with this month's theme, I had to choose Etymology for E:

The study of origins of words

Not only is it a cool sounding word, it perfectly fits with this theme. 

Although I've never studied Latin or Greek, I've always been interested in languages and Etymology (before I even knew it had a name).  I studied Russian in the military, picked up some German before I went overseas, and I even took a couple of semesters of Japanese in college.

It's interesting to see how many similar words there are in seemingly different cultures.   For example, in Spanish the name for library is biblioteka (transliterated).  In Russian, its bibliotyeka (transliterated).  Only a slight difference in pronunciation for the same word but the cultures are miles apart.

Any other cool E words you can think of?  What about similarly sounding words from different cultures?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Didgeridoo

This may not be an unfamiliar word to many of you, but it's a favorite of mine.  A Didgeridoo is:

An Australian Aboriginal wind instrument in the form of a long wooden tube (traditionally made from a hollow branch)

When I first heard the name, I thought my parents were making it up (something my Dad was fond of doing).  It actually is the name for an instrument that has been around for more than 2000 years, based on cave and rock paintings found in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Another interesting thing to note is that every tribe has their own name for this instrument.  There are in fact 45 recognized names, though I'm sticking with Didgeridoo.

Here's a video of one being played, in case you're unfamiliar with it.

The word almost sounds like a silly cartoon or Dr. Seuss name.  What comes to mind when you hear this word?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C For Chicanery

One of my favorite C words is Chicanery.  If you're unfamiliar with this word, it means:

deception by artful subterfuge

It's one of those interesting words that sounds like what it is (at least in my mind anyway).  It also reminds me of another C word, Chancery.  Ironically this word deals with courts of public record, archives, or high courts (as in Great Britain).  Very ironic, if you ask me.  Of course, I tend to be very cynical when it comes to lawyers and/or judges.

Chicanery (to get back to today's word) seems to me to be one of those words that would fit very well in a spy novel.  Maybe one of James Bond's villains could use it during their final evil speech, just before they leave poor ol' James tied up on a conveyor belt headed for a deadly laser.  In any event, it's a cool word that's not used often enough.

Any other cool C words you know?

Monday, April 2, 2012

B Is For Bronteum

Though it sounds like some kind of obscure element from the period table, bronteum is actually related to music and theater.  It is defined as:

A device used to create the sound of thunder in a musical or dramatic performance (also called a tonitruone).  It is usually a large, thin sheet of metal that reverberates when shaken.

I've always liked things like this, odd objects that give us interesting sounds.  It's kind of like those videos you can see sometimes where someone is creating the sound effects for a movie.

The beginning of the word is the key - Bront.  We get all kinds of cool stuff from that, such as Brontosaurus (the thunder lizard whose scientific name is actually Apatosaurus), brontophobe (that common fear of thunderstorms), and Brontes (one of the Cyclopes in Greek mythology).

Any other interesting B words you can think of?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A to Z Challenge - Antidisestablishmentarianism

As you can see, I'm participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, which means I'll be putting a post up every day during the month of April that corresponds to each letter of the alphabet.  And since I've been extremely lax of late in posting anything, I figure this is a great way to get back into the swing of things.

For the challenge, I've decided on a theme revolving around words in the English language.  Which brings us to today's word - Antidisestablishmentarianism.

It's the longest word in the English language and yet it's made up of a whole bunch of prefixes and suffixes.  The root is establish, everything else is a prefix or a suffix.  The definition is:

The doctrine or political position that opposes the withdrawal of state recognition of an established church.

Or in laymen's terms, it means to be against the separation of church and state.  I love this word, partly because it's so long but partly because you have to work your way through it to really understand what it means.  It's a thinker's word, and I'm always in favor of people thinking more.  Plus I did a research paper on this word in high school so it's always been a word I think of when I think of the letter A.

What other A words can you think of like this?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I heard something that really bugged me on the radio this morning.  An R&B/rap singer by the name of Frank Ocean decided recently that Don Henley has made enough money from the sales of Hotel California and that made it okay for Mr. Ocean to steal the entire track from the song, resplendent with his own lyrics.

First off, it should be quite clear that how much money a given person makes off a given work is irrelevant to whether they still own all the rights to it or not.  It should also be fairly obvious that using a track from someone else's song (without their permission) is theft.  It's not a gray area;  it's stealing.

The second thing that irritates me about this whole affair is the practice these days of "borrowing" an already created track of music so you can "add your own flair" or "re-write lyrics to it".  It's idiotic, lazy, and shows how little talent or creativity you have in that you can't create your own unique work.  This is probably why I choose not to listen to most R&B anyway, as it sounds to me like the same backbeat over and over with different words applied.  I'd prefer to hear truly talented musicians and singers displaying what they can do with the bevy of notes available rather than listen to some wanna-be piggyback on another artist's work.

The good news is it appears Ocean has been warned that further performances could result in legal action.   I hope they slap him so hard he actually gets a clue, though I doubt that's possible.

Can you imagine if this type of behavior were tolerated in literature?  How about a re-creation of Lord Of The Rings where the setting is California, the two main characters are Beavis and Butthead, and the journey involves returning a set of golden rims to their rightful owner in New York City?  Even if someone got permission, Tolkien would be turning over in his grave.

Am I being overly critical here? 

Oh, and if anyone does take my literature example and runs with it, I hope it spontaneously combusts in your hands.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Struggling, With A Smile

For Christmas I received a copy of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.  I've been struggling through this epic poem and it's kind of a love/hate relationship.   I will be completely lost for three stanzas and then a light bulb will go off and things become slightly clearer.  There are moments where I'm just in awe of the words used and how much they convey, and then there are other moments where I'm left scratching my head.

Part of the problem might be that this is the first epic poem I've ever read (I thought it was a regular set of tales when I put it on my wish list).  Another part might be the fact that this book was written back in the 1300's (originally in Italian if I remember right).  But a small part of me says it's difficult just because it's supposed to be.

It's an interesting sensation when you're reading a literary work like this one.  I feel like I am standing just outside a room trying to peer in but the bright lights (or dark maybe, given the story's content) make it hard to discern all the details.  I've felt like this before, back when I was reading The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien.  It's like almost understanding everything the author is trying to convey - and not being upset that I don't understand.

In any event, I intend to make it all the way through and absorb as much as I can.  There are gold nuggets to be found in these verses to be sure.

Anyone else read something difficult like this recently?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Different Cultures Can Tie The Tongue

Yesterday I was reading an interesting article in Poets and Writers magazine.  Basically it involved one writer interviewing other writers and one in particular caught my eye.  This writer was a female writing in Jordan.  At first I became lost in her world as she described her background and talked about various things, such as her cultural ties and her other family members.  The more I walked through the article though, the more aware I became of just how restrictive a world she lives in.

Jordan is (in some respects) one of the more Western-thinking Arab countries.  And from her descriptions of life there, some aspects of her life sounded really interesting and inspirational.  As the interview progressed however, it became clear that there are still some things a writer cannot say in Jordan.  For example, criticizing the King is a crime.  The woman did admit to a bit of self-censoring in her writing as well.  While this didn't surprise me (since I've been to many countries in the world and shed my naivety quite some time ago), it did make me pause and think.

I'm a firm believer in freedom of speech, even when I don't agree with what's being said.  I cannot imagine writing an article or a story and having to worry about the words I choose or the topic I'm writing about.  This very blog post would likely be impossible in someplace like Jordan, since I'm not exactly hiding my dismay at their laws.  I like to think I have a fairly creative mind, but that creativity would be stifled in such a place.  I'd probably end up behind bars permanently (or worse).

I guess I am saddened by the fact that I love learning about the various cultures that make up humanity, and yet here is a culture (or society at least) that keeps its people from examining and celebrating their culture through writing.  It's truly unfortunate.

I keep hoping that someday the right people will rise to power and embrace at least some of the freedoms we enjoy in this country.   I don't think they need to model their governments exactly like ours, since we have plenty of bad examples as well.  But maybe someday they will find a happier medium that frees their people a little more without sacrificing their core cultural values (if that's possible).

Am I wishfully thinking here?  I'd love to hear anyone else's perspective or experiences.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Catching Attention Immediately

Last night the family and I sat down to watch The Voice.  If you're unfamiliar with the show, its a singing contest/reality show where the judges listen to the person singing without facing them so that they can decide based on the voice alone as opposed to taking the person's appearance/stage presence/etc into consideration.

As the show progressed, one thing became very clear.  Those vocalists that jumped out there and wow'd the judges from the get-go were immediately rewarded by the judges turning around (meaning the judges were then offering to mentor the vocalist going forward).  Those who didn't grab attention immediately struggled to get any kind of response from the judges (and in some cases failed completely).

The parallel between the show and my WiP hit home since I'm currently working on my opening chapter.  I'm struggling with the same problem these latter vocalists struggled with. I need an opening that catches the attention, that grabs the reader right off.  I need to engage them immediately so that they're willing to go through this ride with me.  I'm finding it's not an easy task.

One thing I learned through the critiques is that I've tried to tell the story in a very blank - almost empty - world.  I'm not very experienced with this whole world-building stuff, so my first thought was to use the beginning to introduce my world.  As I started re-writing the opening however, I noticed that I was bored.  I was painting the picture of my world, but it reminded me too much of Tolkien (and I hate the overbearing description Tolkien used).  More importantly, I couldn't see my reader being excited about the story either.

So it's back to the drawing board.  I've got to find a happy medium between describing the world enough and getting the reader engaged right away.  I don't know how I'm going to do it, but hopefully I'll figure something out soon. 

Actually, I think I'll go re-read the openings of Possession and A Million Suns.  They're great examples that might inspire me.

How do you go about creating that ever-important first scene?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Guest Post - Dies Irae Blog Tour

Today I join the Dies Irea Blog Tour, and I'm honored to introduce my friend Christine Fonseca to promote The Requiem Series.  When Christine first asked me what type of post I thought would work best, I asked her if she could talk about writing a series.  So without further ado, here is Christine's take on the subject.

Thanks, Eric, for hosting a leg of the DIES IRAE blog tour. Eric asked me to talk a little about the process of a series—the pros and cons, ins and outs, that sort of thing. My initial reaction to his request was laughter. Why? Because the series never started out as such. Not even close.

The world of Celestium and my angels started off as a stand-alone book called LACRIMOSA. When my beta readers read it, they all told me it should be a series. But I queried it as a single title, still not convinced it was worthy of a series. In truth, I wasn’t convinced I was ready to commit to a series. See, writing a series are hard. Oftentimes the storyline deteriorates into the world of the cliché. And this is NOT something I wanted to happen to LACRIMOSA or that world. So when my friends suggested a series, I really did ignore them.

Until I sold it.

As a four book series.


Looks like I needed to get comfortable with writing a series—and quick!

Where did I start? By figuring out the things I was most worried about with a series. After brainstorming, talking with some of my friends, and talking with my loyal teen group, I identified the following areas of concern with writing a series:
  • ·         Many series have a strong first book, and weaker, cliché, or repetitive follow up books
  • ·         Retelling backstory—over and over and over
  • ·         “Forcing” the storyline beyond what it really is

Then I thought about other options, like companion stories. But, I had a couple of concerns there as well:
  • ·         Lack of story continuity (and the feedback from readers that this isn’t always a good thing)
  • ·         Switching POVs to a new character or characters
  • ·         Lack of linear storytelling

While neither of these lists are fatal in my opinion, but there are things I wanted to be aware of as I plotting and planned my series.

So, what did I come up with? Here are the basics (without giving away my plots, of course):
  • ·         A full storyline that steers clear of the cliché
  • ·         Crafting each story to stand-alone to some degree, without retelling backstory over and over
  • ·         Using novellas and novelettes to bridge between the stories and introduce alternative POVs without losing the continuity of the series.

Man, this is tough. Beyond tough, actually. But I can honestly say I have enjoyed the process; enjoyed stretching myself as an artist.

Will I be successful? No idea. I guess all of you, my readers, will be the final judge. I can only hope you do!

About Christine Fonseca
School psychologist by day, critically acclaimed YA and nonfiction author by night, Christine Fonseca believes that writing is a great way to explore humanity. Her debut YA Gothic series, The Requiem Series, including DIES IRAE and LACRIMOSA, examines the role of redemption, sacrifice and love. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can be sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes at her favorite coffee house or playing around on Facebook and Twitter. Catch her daily thoughts about writing and life on her blog.


Some sacrifices should never be made—even for love. 

Mikayel lives by one rule—obey the orders of the angelic Council at all costs. But when he and his friends, Azza and Demi, are sent to Earth as teenagers, following the rules is more difficult than they expected.

Being human isn’t the only problem facing the three angels. Unbeknownst to the Council, demonic activity is on the rise, threatening to break a tenuous peace that has existed for a millennia.

Caught in a struggle for power with unseen demonic forces, and fighting against his rising emotional, Mikayel must now decide how many rules he is willing to break to save his friends, a decision that could reignite an ancient war and will threaten the only thing that matters to the angels, the survival of humanity.

“Dies Irae is the perfect introduction to Christine Fonseca’s Requiem series. The beauty of the words will tempt you, the tragedy of the story will break you, and the love, woven throughout like music through the trees, will haunt you for days afterward. Dies Irae promises a tale unlike any you’ve read before.”
~Ali Cross, Author of BECOME

Format: Digital format only - from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retailers. Links not available at present.


As if casting out demons isn’t hard enough, five-hundred-year-old Nesy has to masquerade as a teenage girl to do it. Nesy is the best of the warrior angels called Sentinals. She never makes mistakes, never hesitates, never gets emotionally involved. Until she meets Aydan.  

He is evil incarnate; a fallen angel that feeds off the souls of others. Everything Nesy is supposed to hate.  But she can’t, because he’s also the love of her former life as a human girl—a life that ended too soon, tying her to emotions she was never supposed to feel.

Now Nesy must choose between doing her duty—damning Aydan to the fiery depths of hell—or saving him, and condemning herself. 

“LACRIMOSA reaches out, grabs readers by the heart, and takes them on an emotional journey from the first page to the last. The last novel you’ll need to read to understand true sacrifice.”
~Elana Johnson, Author of POSSESSION

ISBN: 0984786368 (ISBN 13: 9780984786367)
Hardback and Digital formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and fine retailers. Links not currently available.

Additional Titles in the series include LIBERA ME (Nov 2012) and REQUIEM (March 2013). The book trailer can be seen by linking to YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwTQoOFKEZg

For more information about Christine Fonseca or the series, visit her website – http://christinefonseca.com or her blog http://christinefonseca.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blog Chain - Feelings From Many Mediums

I am severely late (by two days) on this post, and I'm incredibly sorry.  If it counts though, I'm working through an ugly cold and I could probably get a note from my mom.

In any event, our own wonderful Kate has put forth the topic for this round:

Post pictures, songs, movie clips, poems, or novel excerpts that make you feel. Feel what, you ask? Feel anything. Happy. Sad. Angry. Nostalgic. Hopeful. Hopeless. Jealous. Joyful. 

I have read in several different places that YA novelist John Green said of his latest novel, The Fault In Our Stars that he wants to make his readers "Feel All The Things." I would love that someone could go through this blog chain and through what we all choose to post have that same Feel All The Things feeling.

When I sat and thought about this, I instantly ran out to find a clip from my favorite writing movie Stranger Than Fiction:

I really love this clip because it shows such a personal and emotional scene in the movie.  Here you get a really great sense of who these characters are and you see the emotional tie building between them.  It's only one of the great scenes in the movie, but it's one of my favorites.  This movie is one of the most inspirational writer movies I know, and every time I watch it I have to break out my tablet and start writing.

Another source of feeling for me comes from a well known poem by Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

The funny part about this poem is that I first heard of it while watching the movie Back To School with Rodney Dangerfield.  The movie may be a B movie and not necessarily a source of much intelligent thought, but it exposed me to this poem and that makes it good enough in my book.  Who can argue with the feelings this poem invokes in the reader?  It's an awesome piece, demanding that we refuse to give in.

Lastly, there is one song that demands feeling from me every time I hear it:

It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing.  When I hear this song, I have to pause and listen.  I have to feel it resonate deep within myself.  It is the greatest tragedy that Phil Collins is no longer able to play drums (because of back and wrist problems I believe), but songs like these that he has given us will continue to play long after he is gone.  I have almost every song he's ever been a part of and this is my favorite.

Well, this is my contribution to the blog chain round.  If you haven't had a chance to read Michelle Hickman's post, head on over there.  And PK will most likely have her post up soon as well, so you can continue along the chain from there.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blog Chain - The Original Domicile

It's Blog Chain time, and our own talented contributor Jon has posed the following:

Imagine the home(s) where you grew up, and start drawing a floor plan. As you draw, memories will surface. Grab onto one of those memories and tell us a story.

Here's my go at it:

As I reach the driveway, I glance up at make-shift rim and wooden backboard.  I can't count how many times I've lost a game of Horse to Dad.  Someday I'll be able to sink his famous one-handed hook shot.  Right now though, the basket towers above me on that faded yellow pole, daring me to try a dunk one more time.

The white stucco gleams in the sunlight, contrasting against red roof tiles in the usual Spanish style.  I open the black wrought iron and enter the front room.  Mom's pristine couches are there, the ones Sis and I aren't supposed to sit on.  There's the unused fireplace tiled in tan where I have run mock battles over and over, the toy soldiers crying out with each magnificent death.  That small strip of tile has been my playground since I could sit upright.

Taking a left, I pass under the smooth arch and into my small bedroom.  There's some inset bookshelves filled with paperbacks, the spines tattered from frequent use.  A bunk bed is pushed up against the far wall, even though the room is mine alone;  I only sleep on the top. There's a small desk by the window, bought at a yard sale some time ago.  Images of Star Wars cover the walls, Darth Vader and Luke locked in their legendary battle.  It's amazing I'm not claustrophobic after growing up in this tiny room.

Heading back through the dining room into the kitchen, I look out the window over the sink.  The trampoline looks pretty inviting.  Maybe I should sleep out there tonight.  It might be warm enough and losing myself in the stars is so much fun.  I head down the stairs, stopping halfway down.  Even though it's daytime, I'm not going down into the basement.  Between the haunted house Dad created that one Halloween and the ghost with red eyes in their room, the basement is not a place to be without company.  Creepy doesn't really cover it.  Instead, I head out the back door and pet our German Shepherd.

The cinder block garage Dad had built seems twice as large as the house.  I can still see the pine trees towering on the other side though.  I remember how often I've climbed to the top, even though Mom had fits about it.  It is so cool to see the gold dome of the Capitol downtown though.  I bet no other kid has that view.  Yeah, I'm definitely going to sleep outside tonight.  I head back in to get my sleeping bag, see if it's okay with Mom.  Nah, she won't mind.

That's my glimpse of personal history.  If you haven't had the chance to check out the awesome bit Michelle Hickman wrote yesterday, head on over there.  And tomorrow you can look forward to something spectacular from PK.