Wednesday, September 14, 2005

insomnia back from abroad

Back in June I sent "Insomnia" (that's the story of Seth Ladron losing his mind in Flenning's lab) off to Writers of the Future. Got it back today. Another quarter finalist also-ran. This time I rated a hand-written note letting me know I was in the top "10-15%" Yawn.

Should be getting a rejection from Asimov's any day, too, on Bridgeport. Guess I'll wrap up Insomnia and send it to Been meaning to do that for a year, now.

My writer's meeting is Saturday and they'll get the end of Parlor Games. After that I'm not sure what I'll do with it. I still think it's too long and suffering from continuity syndrome to make a viable stand-alone, but I do like the beginning and ending of it. Perhaps I'll try to carve a shorter short out of it and send it off to F&SF. I don't even necessarily want F&SF to publish it anymore, but they have a quick turnaround time, and I have a perverse desire to torture that assistant editor who said EOTL "didn't capture his interest" by forcing him to read every single story as I finish it. He may hate my guts, but I won't let him forget me.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Parlor Games is done

I'm as amazed as you are. It feels a little like one of those Family Circus maps where Billy wanders all over the neighborhood--I got from start to finish okay, but I'm not sure I hit all the points I needed to cover.

Ah well. Hindsight is clearest, and at least my writer's group will have something to crit next week. Now I get to go play with the werewolves.

Oh... by-the-by, when you leave comments now you'll have to do a "word verification" as an extra step---to keep the spammers out.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


From The Prairie Traveler, by Randolph B. Marcy (pub. 1859), the chapter "Stores and Provisions":
The pemmican, which constitutes almost the entire diet of the Fur Company's men in the Northwest, is prepared as follows: The buffalo meat is cut into thin flakes, and hung up to dry in the sun or before a slow fire; it is then pounded between two stones and reduced to a powder; this powder is placed in a bag of the animal's hide, with the hair on the outside; melted grease is then poured into it, and the bag sewn up. It can be eaten raw, and many prefer it so. Mixed with a little flour and boiled, it is a very wholesome and exceedingly nutritious food, and will keep fresh for a long time.

I've seen several "receits" for pemmican, and that has got to be the worst. Although I've been known to eat raw cured bacon fat, so maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge.

Also of interest: the word "antiscorbutics," i.e. "something to prevent scurvy."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


I take out my contacts to sleep at night. This morning I got into the shower, blind, groggy, stuck my head under the hot water. Steamed, soaped, breathed, got my eyes open. Glanced down and see a massive black thing moving in the corner of the shower stall, twelve inches from my right foot.

Friends, I am so myopic that I literally cannot read my nightstand clock from two feet away. I knew that anything I could see at that distance without my lenses in had to be on the scale of a 50's-monster-flick beastie.

Did I mention, we have a small problem with spiders in our apartment?

Generally I am pretty brave about wildlife, when I am not naked, defenseless and blind. I backed out of the shower while the black thing scrambled from one corner to the other--very fast. I grabbed an empty shampoo bottle and whacked it. It stopped moving. I whacked it again--crunch. Ick. Threw the bottle down (water still running, streaming off me and my soaking hair and the shower door onto the floor). Put in contact lenses. Grabbed a wad of tissues and swept up a black hairy arachnid with the leg span of a golf ball, and flushed it. Ew. Ew. Ew.

I always feel slightly guilty about killing spiders. They're very cool creatures, and of course they eat other nasty things. But they tend to bite me. Mosquitoes, flies, ticks... these things do not like the way I taste. Spiders do. My husband says they're siphoning venom off me, ha ha. But I feel guilty nevertheless. Especially one that size. I couldn't help but think it was an inauspicious way to start the morning.

I was right.

My car died on the way to work. Fairly sure it's the alternator. Pulled off the highway, sputtering and gasping, into the parking lot of a lovely liquor store with bars on the windows. The kind of place you visualize in movie adaptations of "The Stand" or "I am Legion." Called Scott, who came to retrieve me and take me to work. Spent that C-note I had managed to save this month on the tow truck. Got into work 1 1/2 hours late, when I had purposefully left early, to get here early, to put in some overtime to get this motorcycle manual out in a timely fashion. I have been approved to do overtime on this project; looks like that money will come in handy.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

“Hi servi invivi quos quaeris non sunt.”*

At one point in Parlor Games I needed someone to speak an incantation to get rid of an unwelcome guest, and as everyone knows, the appropriate language for issuing either Priestly or Arcane orders is, appropriately, a Dead Language. Unfortunately, my parents persuaded me to take French instead of Latin in high school (I now think we were both mistaken and I should have studied Spanish, instead). Luckily for me, however, one of the lovely women in my writer's group is apparently quite proficient in Latin. I didn't realize to what degree until I asked her to translate this line for me:
Locate the intruder, follow him to his abode. Let not darkness nor mysteries cloud his flight. Show him to me.

Today I got back the most giggle-inducing post. I can't help it; I love linguistics. If I were incurably rich I'd do nothing but study languages all day. When I wasn't writing or practicing tai chi, of course. Below are the most relevant portions of the text Alysen sent me (the comments in italics are mine):
Ave salveque Holly!

A. Nouns

invasor = invader
speculator = spy, scout
emissarius = emissary, spy

Oddly enough, there’s no single Latin word which means, precisely, intruder. There are a couple of awkward two- and three-word phrases which I dismissed, not wanting to open up the grammatical and metrical cans of worms they entailed.

Is the intruder intruding on his own recognizance? Invasor. Or has he been sent as a minion by a nefarious secret master? Emissarius or speculator.

domicilium = abode, dwelling-place
domus = home, house
latibulum = hiding-place, retreat, subterfuge
latebra = hiding-place, den, lair

Domicilium is colorsell and metrically annoying. Domum, in addition to being the generic term for house, home, household, also refers to a specific type of building, an atrium townhouse, and carries a connotation of middle-class comfort--hardly what you had in mind.

Latibulum is okay, but I hope you like latebra, lair, as much as I do. (oh, yes!)

obscuritas = darkness, meanness, obscurity (by an amazing coincidence)
opacittas = darkness, shadiness, opacity (another amazing coincidence)
arcanum = mystery, secret
occultum = hidden thing, secret (adj. used as substantive)
tenebrae = darkness, obscurity, night, mysteries (I thought of you, Joy!)

Why not let tenebrae suffice alone, since it means both darkness and mysteries?

fuga = flight, fleeing, exile
effugium = flight, way of escape

Either is fine, leaving meter the only criterion.

B. Verbs

invenio, invenire = invent, contrive, find, discover, procure
rescisco, resciscere = ascertain, find out, learn
reperio, reperire = find, meet with, find out, descover, invent

I recommend reperio, reperire; it seems closest to your intended meaning. Oddly, again, there seems to be no single Latin word meaning precisely “locate”, “find the location of”.

It would be a clause like “locum invasoris rescisce”, ascertain the place of.

sequor, sequi = follow, go after, attend, pursue
investigo, investigare = track
venor, venari = hunt

Which of these you choose depends on whether the counterintelligence agent being ordered on this spychase is singular or plural. Solo minion or squad? I’ll get to the reason in a moment.

sino, sinere = allow, permit
patior, pati (?) = bear, undergo, suffer, allow
permitto, permittere = let go through, let fly, give up, entrust, allow, permit (am. coinc.)

This one’s complicated by the fact that the negative imperative (your “Let not”) is conveyed by noli / nolite plus the infinitive, literally meaning “Do not will to [verb].” So there are going to be two infinitives in this sentence, potentially confusing but unavoidable.

nubibus velo, velare = envelop, veil, conceal by/within clouds; becloud
caligine velo, velare = ditto by mist
nebula (long A) velo, velare = ditto by fog

I’d recommend caligus, fog, if you insist on atmospheric phenomena; but velo, velare conveys your meaning without assistance.

retego, retegere = uncover, bare, open, reveal
recludo, recludere = open, disclose, reveal
revelo, revelare = unveil, bare, show, discover
patefacio, patefacere = disclose, expose, bring to light

Here again the choice depends on whether you’re sending a single operator or a team on this mission.

C. Esthetics

Any magical incantation ought to have some poesy about it. Lain poetry doesn’t have to rhyme--although it often does, almost inadvertently, due to the inherent structure of the language--but rhyme and rhythm must inevitably improve the potency of any magic spell! ;-)

Aha, you say. Comes the dawn.

Commanding a Single Minion:

Invasorem reperi.
Eum ad latebram [suam] venare.
Tenebras effugium [suum] velare
caligine noli sinere.
Eum mihi retege.

Invader discover.
Him to lair [his] hunt.
Darkness/mysteries flight [his] to veil
by mist do not let.
Him to me reveal.

(The suums/suams are metrically annoying and can be deleted, taken as

I am confident that either of the above, chanted sonorously, will suffice to send any spook skeddadlin’ with its ectoplasmic tail between its legs.


*(These are not the droids you’re looking for.)