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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Pied Piper--A More Sinister Explanation?

A story that has always fascinated me (and not just me but lots of people) is that of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. I don't remember when I first heard this story; it's just always been woven into the fabric of our cultural literature.

When I was in grade school, we put this story on as a play. It was a fun, silly production. My sister and I were both rats. We were dressed in black leotards and tights, complete with rope tails and hoods that covered our hair and had huge eyes and ears sewn onto them. The play started with several 'townsfolk' describing the rat problem. When we, the rats, actually came out onto stage, there were dozens of us and we would dance around and jump and swing our tails. It got a laugh from the audience every time. As the play proggressed, we would run through the audience, flicking people with our tails and being as annoying as possible.

It was fun, but the real story wasn't so light-hearted. Many people believe this story was an allegory for the Black Death or some other medieval catastrophe, but I'm not so sure. The first origins we have of the story are twofold: 1) A stained glass window in built around 1300 BC which shows the Piper leading the children away. 2) An entry in the town chronicles in 1384 that reads: "It is 100 years since our children left."

(That's just creepy if you ask me! Or maybe just tragic.)

The rats (the obvious symbol of the plague) weren't added to the story until the 16th Century. It seems to me that they were added as a way of explaining the Piper's actions. It seems obvious that some major tragedy befell the town and/or it's children, but no one seems to know what that tragedy was. No one knows now; no one knew even in the 16th century, which is why the story was expanded.

Some believe this might have been the result of the Children's Crusade. Hundreds of children went on that crusade and were lost in battle, never to return home. They were lured toward war with pretty, deceptive words, and not told the whole truth about what they would experience there. (Hmm. Someone that survives the Children's Crusade and returns home afterward would make an interesting character. Sorry! Rambling thoughts!) Anyway, this sounds like a plausible explanation for the Piper to me. Still, it's all just speculation.

If that is what happened, what were the specifics? Did the parents beg the children to stay? Did every last one of the kids leave? What words did the 'Piper' use to persuade them? And why a Piper, rather than a priest or soldier that served the monarchy?

And what if it wasn't the Children's Crusade? Sorry to be negative, but something about the Piper screams pedophile to me. What if the tragedy was of an entirely different nature?

I've long wanted to write a story based on the Pied Piper legend, but there's so much fodder there for creative fiction that I don't know where to begin!

What do you think? What angle would you take on this legend?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Follow Friday--Summer Reading!

Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs! 

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! 

Q: Summer Reading. What was your favorite book that you were REQUIRED to read when you were in school?

I'll take a cue from Alison and go year by year as well:

9th Grade: Uh...can't remember. My ninth grade English class was kind of messed up! I did read Great Expectations over the summer, though, and loved it, so I'll go with that! :D
10th Grade: Either The Once and Future King by T.H. White or A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens!
11th: The Scarlet Letter
12th: Heart of Darkness--my first read of what would become one of my all-time FAVORITE classics! :D

How about you?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Was Vincent Van Gogh's Life a Starry Night?

The Starry Night
It's been a while since I've done a historical tidbit, so here goes. What do you know about Vincent Van Gogh?

One of the first novels I tried to write (emphasis on tried) was about Vincent Van Gogh. I'm not sure when I first heard of the famous painter, but I've been interested in him and his life for as long as I can remember. I can remember being in the 5th grade (Mrs. Newton's 4th/5th split class--anyone else remember those?) and doing a project based around famous artists. Even then, I had some idea who Van Gogh was, but I learned a few more details about his life, which only enhanced my curiosity.

I would still like to write that book about his life. Why didn't I, you ask? Two reasons:

1) The research. When I first began the manuscript, I had almost no research under my belt and almost no way to get at it. Sure, I read many books on Van Gogh's life and his extensive correspondence which was carefully preserved by his sister-in-law, Jo. But it wasn't enough. I'd sit down to write about Theo sitting at a desk--or was it a bureau? And after Vincent hurt himself, a police man got involved. But this was France in the late 1800s, so actually it would have been a Constable. I just didn't feel like I had enough cultural details.

2) It's sad. Is this an awesome excuse? No, not in the slightest. Is it a viable one? I think so. At least, it is for me. Van Gogh's life was tremendously sad and as a writer it's my job to bring the emotions out, especially those that charge a character's motivations. In order to understand why Van Gogh was the way he was, and why he made the choices he did, you have to understand all the tragedies of his life. It's not easy to read, and it's definitely not easy to write.

I would write a few chapters, then have to go home and hug my brothers. I'm an emotional person so this book, unfortunately, may take me years to finish!

So I repeat: What do you know about Vincent Van Gogh? (I don't just keep typing that because it rhymes. I promise! :D)

Most people know exactly three things about Vincent Van Gogh: 1) He painted The Starry Night. 2) He cut off his own ear. 3) He had some psychological problems and committed suicide. I list those last two together because they more or less go hand in hand.

What most people don't know is that Van Gogh was not the oldest child in his family. He was the oldest living child in his family. (So what, you say? Well listen to this next part!) Would it weird you out to learn that Van Gogh had an older brother, born exactly one year before him (on the same day) and also named Vincent?

How would that happen? Van Gogh's parents wanted to name their oldest son Vincent. The reason for this was that Van Gogh's father's favorite brother (whom Vincent would have called Uncle Cent) had no children. His inheritance (which was substantial) would go to his brother's son. Because of this, and because the two brothers were close, Father Van Gogh wanted to name his oldest son after his brother. When the first baby died in the cradle, they named the second one (who would become the famous painter we all speculate about) likewise.

Sounds pretty logical, right? Unfortunately, this wreaked havoc on Vincent's sense of identity. His mother developed a form of depression commonly known as Replacement Child Syndrome. This happens when a woman loses a baby, and is never able to move on with her life. She elevates the memory of that dearly departed child onto such a high pedastal as to be unrealistic. When her other children do things that all normal babies do--mess their diapers, cry, begin to crawl and get into things--she holds them up to that ideal and unrealistic view of how perfect her first, deceased child would ahve been, and says things like, 'why can't you be more perfect like your brother would have been.'

This was the atmosphere our dear artist grew up in. Of course, as an innocent child, he could never understand why. And then there was that tiny grave in the church yard that his mother visited every week, left flowers on, and wept over that had his name and birth date on it.

This tragic set of circumstances into which Van Gogh was born left his drowning in an identity crisis that in all his thirty-seven years he never found his way out of.

I'm not sure what is more disturbing: that this 'syndrome' exists at all or that it's common enough that we have a name for it. What do you think?

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises--Real-Life Villains

Flags in Utah at half-mast for
victims of Colorado shooting
By now most of the world has heard the tragic news of the Colorado shooting spree during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to the families, victims, and would-be victims of this tragedy.

Much and more will and has been written about this event all across the blogosphere and the internet in general. I don't know that I have much to add, but having seen the film on opening night, and having listened to the coverage all weekend, and personally being in the midst of some ginormous, family-centered events this week, I've found myself thinking about it a lot.

A few hours after the news hit the air waves, I was at work on Friday morning. While sitting down for a break and speaking with a co-worker, I had an interesting conversation. John is a fifty-something cowboy farmer with several grown children, a few younger teenagers, a mortgage, and a somewhat John Wayne-ish outlook on life. I asked him if he'd heard the news out of Colorado.

"Yes," he replied, his brow creasing. "What is that, that makes people do such things? Is is just selfishness? Is that what it is?"

When asked point blank, I didn't have an answer and initially replied, "I don't know." But as I sat and thought about it a few minutes, I found myself nodding. "Yes. It must be. It's about power and attention and making a statement. They either want to be famous, or have a grievance, or just want to make a point, and obviously that's more important to them than human life or innocence."

John nodded thoughtfully. "It's too bad they can't just stop reporting it."

Of course such news will always be reported, and for myself I think that it always should be, but I understood his point. He meant that things like this are always sensationalized and that, even though he'll have to deal with the consequences of his actions, the shooter will also get his fifteen minutes of fame. That, in and of itself, is a tragedy. The arrogance of the shooter makes me angry, but mostly I feel sorrow for those being affected by his actions.

I think news like this should be shared with the masses for two reasons:

1) So we can send those in need our thoughts, prayers, and assistance. They are more in need of it after such a traumatic experience than perhaps even they know.

2) So that we can learn from things of this nature. It's important for us and our children to know that mentalities such as this do still exist in the world and that they're wrong. If we don't know they exist, how can we know how to stand up to them?

I did a review of the movie on my other blog (which is much more light-hearted than this post) and the major themes of this film include hope, endurance, and fighting against that which would put down, stifle, or enslave us. It's ironic, then (or maybe just on-the-nose) that the shooter would choose this film to try and carry out his evil plan. (Emphasis on 'try.')

While of course Batman is the Dark Knight that pushes back the tide of blackness in Gotham City, I think we can all learn from Joseph Gordan-Levitt's character as well. He was the every-man who simply couldn't stand to hide behind closed doors while injustice lurked outside. He smuggled food and messages to the trapped, put together preventative actions for the rebellion, and never gave into despair, always thinking instead, what do we do next? And when all hope was gone, and there was simply no escape left, he told the priest to put the kids on the bus anyway.

If you're going down, why not go fighting? And if you're going to die, why not do it with hope? What do you think?

The Huffington Post has an article that details ways you can help the victims. There are donations, charities, etc. that will go to helping the those affected by this tragedy. Even little contributions add up, so I'd encourage you to visit the site here.

What do you think of the events that transpired in Colorado this past weekend?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

My two teasers come from Anna Karenina, which I am reading on Goodreads.

"You want a man's work, too, always to have a defined aim, and love and family life always to be undivided--and that's not how it is. All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow."  --Part 1, Chapter 11, 5.23 % into book


"To my mind love...both the sorts of love, which you remember Plato defines in his Banquet, served as the test of men. Some men only understand one sort, and some only the other. And those who only know the non-platonic love have no need to talk of tragedy. In such love there can be no sort of tragedy. 'I'm much obliged for the gratification, my humble respects'--that's all the tragedy. And in platonic love there can be no tragedy, because in that love all is clear and pure, because..."

At that instant Levin recollected his own sins and the inner conflict he had lived through. And he added unexpectedly: "But perhaps you are right. Very likely...I don't know, I don't know."

Happy Tuesday! :D

Oh, one more thing! I'm participating in a massive blog tour in need of bloggers to participate!

Now recruiting bloggers for a humungous tour. We’re boasting $500 in prizes along with 5 autographed copies of the book and eBook copies for all reviewers. Drive traffic to your blog, support a wonderful author, and win colossal prizes.
We’ll be touring the memoir, Praise of Motherhood.You don’t even have to read the book to participate; although we’d absolutely love for you to post a review! We will provide your choice of a pre-formatted excerpt, interview, or guest post to make participation easy. Just remember, there is a $100 best/ most creative blog entry for this heart-felt and gripping memoir.
So far, 71bloggers have signed up, and we need at least 100 to meet our goal.

Tour Dates: August 6 through 10, 2012
Genre: Memoir
Page Count: 136
The Prizes:
* $100 best/ most creative entry
* $50 Rafflecopter (2 prizes)
* $50 Random blogger award
* $50 Google+ sharing contest
* $50 Facebook sharing contest
* $150 in the special author contest

If you're interested, visit http://www.novelpublicity.com/whirlwind-recruitment/motherhood/

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Follow Friday--Christmas in July!!!

Q: Christmas in July! Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs). What two books will you buy?

I think I would get The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman because I hear such great things about this book and REALLY want to read it.

Second, I would getThe Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman because one of my groups on Goodreads, Ancient and Historical Fiction, is going to read it for August and it sounds AWESOME! So excited to get started!

Has anyone else read either of these?  Happy Friday! ;D 

Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs! 

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! 


To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn't have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
  6. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  7. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  8. If you're new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Grave Mercy Book Review

So last week I participated in Once Upon a Book-a-Thon and I got through two novels. Not much, I know, but this is actually a very busy time of year and to complete two novels in only a few days is more reading than I usually do in a month! Anyway, the ones I read were Possession by Elana Johnson and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.

My review of Possession is on my other blog (also Blogger button at left).

Goodreads blurb: Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I loved Grave Mercy! Though it is technically historical, there is a fair amount of mysticism and fantastical elements to it as well, which were awesome! I loved the whole feel of this story!

First of all, she's sent to a convent. Usually, convent = negative, restrictive, prison-like cloister, right? Not this time. These are assassin nuns. = Awesome! (When I read the review on this book, it was this detail that made me laugh out loud and go, Man I gotta read that book!

Ismae is a strong, capable narrator that won't be bullied or put up with nonsense. The author does an excellent job bringing her across, not just as a person but in terms of what she does and doesn't know. It's apparent that Ismae, while privy to secrets and modes of death that would make most people shudder, is also very naive when it comes to trust, friendship, and of course love. This just makes her more likable, though. Through her eyes we see her world and understand why she doesn't trust many of the people around her, even though we want her too.

This book hooked me right away with a mysterious journey at the beginning. By the end I was tearing through it, rooting for both her and Duval as they race against time, betrayal, and Death (literally) to secure their country's freedom and their own happiness. 

Awesome read! Can't wait for the next one to come out next year! :D

Monday, July 16, 2012

Courage New Hampshire--Promising New Series

Today I am so pleased to have Monique Lewis as a guest blogger. Monique is an associate producer for a historical fiction T.V. series called, Courage New Hampshire, a historical t.v. series set in colonial times. Myself, I have only watched part of the first episode, but I very much liked what I saw. So, here's Monique:

On a recent trip up to the California Central Coast, my husband and I decided to visit Hearst Castle. As most you may know, Hearst Castle is not a castle at all. In fact, it is an extravagant mansion, a “palace" of sorts. It took over 28 years to build most of this house, and if you plan to visit there any time soon, you will see that it still remains unfinished.

With 38 bedrooms, William Randolph Hearst hosted the elite of Hollywood, politics, and sports, during the 1930's.

During my tour, I could not help myself from imagining all of the people, who walked the extravagant grounds, the conversations that were held in the Roman pool, hear the laughter and music that echoed throughout the Assembly Hall. I could imagine walking with my “honey” in the gardens dressed in the finest of 1930's attire for one of the many parties that Hearst hosted on the grounds.

On our way back home, I was left hungering for more of the 1920’s- 1930's
adventure and experiences.

I decided that I would not mourn the memories of visiting Hearst Castle, but I would seek to find that adventure in a book. I would trust my feelings of nostalgia to one of the greats in American literature.
With one book in mind, and I decided to dive in, head first.

I chose to re-read, F. Scott Fitzgerald's, "The Great Gatsby.”

“The Great Gatsby" is one of my favorite books, because it reflects a certain time period and a certain mindset: The Roaring 20’s where possibility and prosperity seemed endless. I read this book in high school. I loved it then, and I love it now. The romance between Gatsby and Daisy is timeless, and it brings up feelings of nostalgia. (I want to live in that time period!)

Nostalgia is, simply, the desire to replicate and remember the past. We like to look back. We enjoy speculating: “what could have been?” We constantly, force our way back into the past, our past.
And so, dear reader, you might be able to infer that my desire for nostalgia has made me an avid reader and an American history buff.

Currently, I am an associate producer for a television show called “Courage, New Hampshire.” This show reminds me of a good book. I was hooked by the story. "Courage, New Hampshire" is the story of tavern justice dealt out in an 18th century New England shire town on the verge of the American Revolution. Tavern keeper and justice of the peace Silas Rhodes (James Riley), alongside British deserter Bob Wheedle (Nathan Kershaw) lead a band of rebel underground soldiers known as “The Sons of Liberty," in acts of midnight justice against royal officials attempting to enforce unpopular law, in the pre-revolutionary New England township of Courage, New Hampshire.

And even though this show is not a book, it reflects a certain mindset that most Americans desire to believe again: Good men can pursue justice and liberty for all. The goal of the show is to not only bring about feelings of nostalgia, but an understanding of the past.

Each episode tells a story depicting daily life in this 18th century early American township mixed with the turmoil of pre-revolutionary war in accurate historical detail; provide a storyline filled with intrigue, politics, family-life, and romance in this colonial period drama series. Though fictional, many of the story lines will be based on actual events.

I encourage you all to check out “Courage, New Hampshire,” and be sure to let me know what you think! I am always looking for honest critics!

Until then, happy reading!
Monique and her husband in front
 of Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle

Thanks so much, Monique! I don't think there are nearly enough historical series on T.V. these days, so I'm all for more. Anyone wanting more info on this series, visit colonybay.net. Thanks again, Monique! :D

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Follow Friday (#FF)

This meme is hosted by Alison Can Read if you want to join!

Q: What drove you to start book blogging in the first place?

First of all, I don't "book" blog like most others. I'm a writer more than a reader, so in truth I started my blog to build an online platform as an author. Originally I had a blog based solely on historical tidbits (as one of the things I write is historical fiction). When my book, a trilogy set in 16th century Russia entitled Kremlins got picked up by Jolly Fish Press, their marketing director suggested I make over my blog. At the time, I really had no idea what I was doing. I had, like, two followers and no idea how to get more. I did as he suggested, and then looked at the amazing Alana Johnson's blog for blogging tips. I started following the advice she sets forth in her blogs on how to blog and voila! It's amazing how fast the learning curve is when you put your mind to something.

Anyway, I love reading and books like crazy (which is perhaps why I write them) but I don't have tons of time to read and I definitely don't have time to stand around reading dust-jackets to figure out which ones might be worth my time. So...I LOVE BOOK BLOGGERS! They're all so amazing and I hope those I follow will be willing to read my book when it comes out next fall! Happy Friday! :D

Sunday, July 8, 2012

This and That

This weekend I attended a luncheon for all Jolly Fish Press authors. It was great! We got to meet some of our fellow publishees and put faces to, well...faces that we've only seen on Facebook profiles before now. It was so fun to talk with everyone and chat about all our soon-to-be out there work. I've got a few pictures (which I shamelessly pilfered from Facebook) below.

As I drove home, I thought about where I am and where I'll be going (writing-wise) in the near future.

I'm right at a point where many projects are intercepting and I feel like I'm doing a little bit of everything. Over the weekend, I finished the first draft of the second installment of Interchron. (It's okay if you need to read that again; it was a complicated sentence! :D) Of course it's by no means done. I have to go back through and put things in that I left out the first time through, simply because I was preoccupied with the action or other parts of the narrative. After that, I'll give it to my alpha readers and let it rest (for me, I mean) for 4-6 weeks. Then I'll go back through and do more serious editing once I have some space from it.

While my alpha readers rip that apart, I have another book--totally different genre of crime thriller--called The Botanist. My published for Kremlins said he'd take a look at it. There are no promises of publication, of course, but I thought I'd give him dibs. I want to do another editorial cycle on it, though. I haven't looked at that manuscript in months, so it's time I did. I'll probably send that to him (fingers crossed) sometime in September.

After that, I'll start getting the second installment of Kremlins ready. It's actually all written but I GUARANTEE it needs a lot of editorial love. Once I learned to edit myself, I went over book 1 with a fine-toothed comb, but I haven't touched book 2 yet, which means it's pretty raw.

I'm also trying to get more reading done. I'm a firm believer that anyone who wishes to be a successful writer should be devouring books on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I've been a bit of a hypocrite lately, so I'm trying to remedy that and chisel away at my To Be Read list a bit.

So, in short, I have plenty to keep me busy until the end of the calender year. A lot of it is editing, but that's okay with me. Sometimes it's nice to know that something is mostly written and you just have to fine tune it, rather that be uber-creative and come up with completely new stuff.

Anyway, just some this and that updates on my life. Everyone have a fabulous week! :D

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Friday Follow

Q: Jumping Genres: Ever pick up a book from a genre you usually don't like and LOVE it? Tell us about it and why you picked it up in the first place.

The genre I picked up and ended up loving kind of defies description. It was a dark, classical, ivory-trade era piece about adventure on the high seas, slavery, and the philosophy of good verses evil. Any guesses anyone? That's all right. I'll tell you!

Okay, those of you who follow my blog already have probably heard me rave about Joseph Conrad before. I read Heart of Darkness at least once a year and try to get around to his other works from time to time as well. I won't pretend he's not a difficult read--kind of has to be waded through, to be honest, but in my opinion, he's SO under-read.

Of course, I didn't always harbor this opinion. When I was first made to read (yes, MADE to read) Heart of Darkness my senior year of high school, I HATED it! I think it had a lot to do with how the teacher presented it, and I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that when I started, and though most of the reading process, I loathed both book and author. By the end, I was in love with this story and both book and author remain at the top of my "best" list even today. 

How about you? :D

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Good Titles, Great Words!

So today I wanted to say a few words about...words, specifically names. Sometimes names just come to us when we write. Other times, it's a struggle. The past few weeks I've been working on the second installment of my dystopian fantasy, and I've had to come up with words for things that don't exist in our world.

For example, I had to name a little robotic thing that drills into a person's body and attaches to their nervous system. The thing reads their DNA, cell structure, the status of their health, blood type, neurological abilities (specific to this world) and can even try to assimilate them into the collective by drilling a pathway into their heads for the collective to use for invasion. Not a cuddly friend!

I didn't know what it would look like until I sat down to describe it. In the end, it looked like a spider. The abdomen was a metal box and eight metallic, serpentine tentacles came out of it, which are things that drill into the body. The name that came out for me was Arachnoid. (Note: I have tattooed men in this story called Arachnimen because of their spider's web tattoos. I'm sure this had something to do with it!)

I wasn't sure I liked the name. I'm still a little meh about it, so it might change in the final writing. Despite not coming up with something I loved (yet!) it got me thinking about how to move forward when stuck on a name or other word.

Later, I had to come up with a name for someone that hasn't been a major character in the story. He won't ever be a major POV character, but his role in the story is vital. Basically, he's someone who raised a child that wasn't his so the future could be protected. (Think Uncle Owen and Aunt Bru in Star Wars). So, I wanted his name to mean 'surrogate' or something along those lines.

So guess what I did? I pulled out my trusty iphone, which happens to have a dictionary.com app on it. (I'm the nerd who looks up word definitions and etymologies six times a day, so this app definitely gets  a lot of use). Anyway, I looked up the word 'surrogate.' Of course I know what this means, but dictionary.com, just like hard copy dictionaries, gives a word etymology after the definition, including the Latin base for the word. Apparently, 'surrogate' comes from the Latin, 'surrogatus' which is an assimilated (weird, as my book is about assimilation) form of 'subrogatus.'

What does all that mean? Nothing unless you speak Latin, and, let's face it: who does? As for me, I named the dude, Subro. It's not something many of my readers are likely to pick up on, but if they do, they'll actually get a glimpse into the future of the story. See, despite naming this character now, the reader won't learn that he's not the kid's biological father until much later on.

What's my point? Word etymologies or synonyms in other languages are awesome ways to come up with names, titles, or other words for your stories.

(Ever heard of a cat named Felix? Of course you have! But 'Felix' means cat in Latin. So, he's a cat named Cat, just in another language. See? It works!)

Try it out and let me know what you come up with. I'd love to hear. Oh, and if anyone has any suggestions for a word better than arachnoid, bring those on too! :D