A Quick Tutorial

It's Memorial Day here in the US, a time to honor those that have served in uniform. We have parades. We grill. We post on Facebook that we honor their memory. What I'm finding, however, is that people don't know how to properly refer to America's armed forces. I see a lot of "in memory of our soldiers" and what have you. Here's a quick list so you don't make this mistake in your writing:

Army = Soldier
Air Force = Airman
Marine Corps = Marine
Navy = Seaman/Sailor

So when that person posted saying he was remembering soldiers, he was only remembering army personnel, which must be a bummer to all the others. (Marines in particular bristle at this mistake because Marines are Marines and they're always Marines.)

A trend that started during our invasion of Iraq is to support the troops! We have replaced armed forces with troops, which is also incorrect. A troop is a grouping of forces (originally at company size, so troops might refer to a battalion or two).

If you want to refer to the armed forces as a whole, call them such. Servicemen/Servicewomen is also acceptable. Or distinguish based on their individual calling if you don't have a mixed group.

If you're genuine about wanting to honor their memory, this little courtesy will help show you mean it.

Plontsing the Sac

I've been on holiday! It is becoming a tradition that each Christmas my wife and I go up into the White Mountains for a few days. Though New Hampshire is a small state, the North country and the South Country are pretty different (as we're often reminded by those that live in the North). You can cut the state in half and vary the temperature by 10 degrees. Life is different there, including living in the lower elevations of the northern Appalachian Mountains. It's a great time, though this year absent snow. We are expecting a blizzard to hit tonight, so that should make up for it. Of course, it was supposed to start snowing 2 1/2 hours ago, so who knows if that will actually materialize.

If you're ever in North Conway, consider staying at the Wyatt House Bed & Breakfast. They were great to us. The food was delicious. And it's ideally situated.

While I was there, Jen too copious amounts of naps, more than usual, which gave me the writing time I needed to wrap up JH and send it off to beta readers. That number is down to two, now, which is disappointing. But people have lives and it's the holidays, so I understand.

I had thought to maybe spend a few weeks reading. I'm going to put attention to finishing Tad Williams' SHADOWHEART. I finished MOCKINGJAY yesterday. It was good, but I don't think it was worth the hype that it got. The ending averted being a disaster and ended up being just okay. The whole trilogy almost seems like it was written just to show which boy the character will choose, which is interesting for all of five pages, not three books.

As for me, spending time reading is turning into prep work for writing THE 7TH SACRIFICE (I've officially changed its name to be 7TH instead of SEVENTH).

For starters, I'm no longer calling the counties the counties. I originally conceived this story between writing WANTED: CHOSEN ONE and THE TRIAD SOCIETY. The former puts a lot of focus on duchies and a king. The latter puts more focus on counties. For 7Sac, I had wanted to use counties as a regional boundary because so often people focus on duchies or kingdoms and I like that county is still a word we use today. When I abandoned my first attempt at 7Sac, that bled over to TTS. The problem is, now TTS is a finished novel and the possible first in a trilogy, so using counties again seems like beating a dead horse.

I went horseback riding on my vacation. The farm was 77 acres of an original 1000 acreage granted to the owner's family in 1771 by King George III. Yup, I went horseback riding on a 239-year-old farm. New England is awesome. This made me tweak things a bit.

Basic breakdown. "The Kingdom" is where this takes place. The Kingdom is broken into four areas, originally called counties. Each of these counts claimed the thrown after the king died under mysterious circumstances. That's getting modified. The counties are acreages. Acreage is a little cumbersome to say. I was watching "Valhalla Rising" yesterday (disembowelment on Christmas!) and they calls Mads a terror from the southerlands. Well isn't that nifty. You always hear highlands or lowlands or East and West or what have you. Hell, I even used Southerland in TTS as Soderland (German), but this feels different. The acreages are delineated by compass.

Cumberland Acreage, the Westerlands
Arostook Acreage, the Northerlands
Somerset Acreage, the Easterlands
Kennebec Acreage, the Southerlands

Now, instead of counts, each of the Acreages is rules by a prince or princess, with Cumberland being home to the Crown Prince and rightful heir. The rest claim he assassinated their father and thus forfeited the throne. Each of them now call himself/herself King/Queen, but most just refer to them as the Pretenders (a term I made the first time around that was used much less).

I also used Tinkers in JEHOVAH'S HITLIST, so it wouldn't do to include them again in 7Sac. But I love the tinkers I've created, so really I'm just changing the name since the two types of tinkers were completely different. Now they'll be called Peddlers.

One thing that's getting dropped all together is the varying naming structures. Each county represented a different European culture in terms of naming. I think I'll just stick with Brittany this time as I so often move into other areas of Europe for inspiration. Main character's name is Cheshire, after all, and don't want to change that. So it wouldn't make sense if everyone else had a Russian name.

The visuals in "Valhalla Rising" were pretty amazing, enough to make up for the fact the story (there was a story?) made no sense whatsoever. Quite inspirational. Gave me a lot of ideas on description for the Four Corners, where the four acreages meet and where the abandoned royal palace still stands. I had thought to write the description here, but I'm not in the mood any more, so I'll save that for next time.

Hope you all had an enjoyable week while I was away. Time to get back to work. :)

(Oooo, and I got a Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock t-shirt in my stocking! Woo hoo!)

(And a titanium spork!!!!)

The Easiest Way to Give

So you lost your job and you haven't had an interview in months but you still splurged on presents for the kids because you can't stand to think of them crying in front of the tree. You think to yourself, I don't have any money to give to a charity.

Well, Nathan Bransford is holding the easiest flipping charity known to man. Post on his blog and he'll donate a dollar for each post up to $1000.

Go say thank you, earn a dollar for Heifer International, a rocking charity that me and my wife also give to, and keep other kids from crying on Christmas too.

Go. Now.

Living the Dark Crystal

First, yesterday was awesome. My niece began her freshman year at Boston University, and the person with whom she was going to have Thanksgiving dinner bailed. Which meant she ended up at my place. I've never had the opportunity to hang with her without one of her parents around and this is the first time she met her Aunt Jen. It's amazing how squared away this young woman is. If she's the future, things are going to be awesome.

A post I wanted to make the other day, but I wanted to make it with a video example that I cannot locate. You've seen the Dark Crystal. (This is not a question. You have seen it. If you have not seen it, stop reading right now and go watch it. Don't come back until you're finished.) The skeksi that is banished, Chamberlain (the one who has the always-identifiable whine), is trying to lure Jen into his clutches one last time. He starts begging:

Please? Please come down. Please? Please?! PLEASE?!

Knowing an agent I would love (LOVE) to work with is currently reading my full manuscript and may (or may not) offer representation? Yeah, I have those moments. I just want to shout in as shrill a Chamberlain voice as I can manage PLEASE?!?!?!

Then I get a grip and go back to my writing, but for those few seconds, ugh. I hope for the best which makes me fear the worst.