Monday, December 22, 2014

Once More Into the Breech (or Breach?).

Some words are just confusing as all get out. Like "breech" and "breach." Both are pronounced the same, spelled nearly the same, but have completely different meanings. When I wrote my NaNoWriMo novel, I used the wrong one every time. (Of course, it was a first draft in need of revision.)

So here's the low down on "breech" and "breach":

Breech means the back of something. The breech of a gun. Most modern firearms are "breech loaded" (as opposed to muzzle loaded). A baby coming out bottom-first is a "breech baby." You wear "breeches" because they cover your ass.

Breach means a break or fissure. You breach your contract. The torpedo breached the hull of the battleship. To kiss the queen was a breach in protocol. And whales jumping into the air are "breaching" (perhaps because they breach the surface of the ocean?).

Oh, and the Shakespeare quote from Henry V: "Once more into the breach."

How to remember which is which. This is easy. "Breach" has the same five first letters a "break" which is one of its meaning. And "breech" has two e's so you'd say "eeee" if you saw someone's breech.

So don't breach good spelling rules and come out looking like a breech.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

Today as I write this, it is the day of the Winter Solstice. The word solstice basically means "sun stopping" or "sun standing." It is like the word armistice has the same Latin root and means "arms standing."

A solstice is not a day. It is the time that the Sun reaches it's most northern (summer) or southern (winter) point. The Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere during the Winter Solstice.

Today that will be at 3:03 P.M. Pacific Standard Time. So you can adjust to your time zone. For example, that's 6:03 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.

If you are north of the Arctic Circle, there will be at least one day around the Winter Solstice when the sun does not rise over the horizon. The farther north you are, the more days that is and at the North Pole, it's six months. Conversely, in the summer, there will be at least one day when the sun does not set and the farther north you are the more days there will be. Again, at the North Pole, that's six months of daylight.

When I was growing up in Southeast Idaho at an elevation of nearly 4,500 feet, winter (as signified by the first snow) started late October. It struck me as strange that the first official day of winter was essentially in the middle of winter. And spring, which starts about March 22nd officially, was still, in winter ("winter" ran from late October to early April).

People mistakenly called the day of the Winter Solstice "the shortest day of the year" when what they mean is it's the shortest daylight of the year. Where I live, sunrise was at 7:41 this morning and sunset will be at 4:09 this evening. That's 8 hours and 28 minutes of the sun being up (if my math is correct). And miracle of miracles, it's actually a sunny day here.

So why is Christmas on December 25th? One theory holds that most cultures have a post Winter Solstice party. They've been watching the Sun get lower and lower in the sky, the day light get shorter, the temperatures get cooler. Somebody's gotta be thinking "If this goes on, we're doomed."

Then it stops, the periods of daylight start getting longer again. So hey, let's have a big party! And since Christmas was scheduled by early Christians to coincide with Saturnalia, which was probably started as one of those parties, that's why Christmas is three days (about) after the Winter Solstice.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Anthony Metivier and Laura Enright

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Anthony Metivier and Laura Enright

Anthony Metivier
Anthony Metivier

Anthony Metivier is the author of Lucas Parks and the Download of Doom, How to Remember Your Dreams and founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a 21st century approach to the Memory Palace Method that makes memorizing foreign language vocabulary, poetry, and the names of the important people you meet easy and elegant.

Anthony's books include:

Lucas Parks and the Download of Doom

Sample of audio book of upcoming novel Electville

Anthony's Links:


Laura Enright
Laura Enright

I was raised in Harwood Heights, Ill., a suburb bordering Chicago, growing up across the parking lot from the neighborhood tavern that my grandfather built in the 1930s. In 2005 my book Chicago’s Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Murderous Mobsters, Midway Monsters and Windy City Oddities was published followed in 2010 by Vampires’ Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Bloodthirsty Biters, Stake-wielding Slayers and Other Undead Oddities.

February 2014 saw the release of To Touch the Sun, the first novel in my vampire series set in Chicago. A visit to my author page on Facebook will reveal that I’m all over the map when it comes to what I like in literature, music, TV and movies, but I do tend to veer toward some more than others. In short, I'm interested in any number of things, far too many for my limited free time to accommodate.

As a writer I tend to stay in the fantasy and science fiction genres (adding liberal doses of humor when needed) but I’m willing to try my hand at anything, which, curiously enough, led to my three books I’ve published. A quote that pretty much sums up my life is from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” (though I heard it in a George Harrison song): “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

Laura's book:

To Touch the Sun

Laura's Links:


From today's program: Japanese Asteroid Mission

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bring and Take: Use them Correctly

Nearly everyone I know, including my wife, uses "bring" incorrectly, using it when she should use "take. For example, she will ask one of my sons to "Bring the dishes into the kitchen" when they are both in the dining room. This drives me bonkers.

I have thought for years how to explain the difference to her (and everyone else) and finally realized that it has to do with "come" and "go." And that made it simple (not that it changed my wife's error).

If you can add "go" to the sentence, use "take." As in "Go into the kitchen and take the dishes."

If you can add "come" to the sentence, use "bring." That would be "Come into the kitchen and bring the dishes."

Because you wouldn't say "go into the kitchen" when you are standing in the kitchen, you would say "come" And you wouldn't say "come into the kitchen" when you are in the dining room, you would say "go."

There are some special cases with bring and take which probably cause all the confusion. But, still, the "come and go rule" works. One might say "Come into the kitchen with me and bring the dishes." This is correct even if you are in the dining room.

Or, you might say "I'll bring the dishes when I come into the kitchen" again while in the dining room. But in both cases, you are saying "come" so "bring" is the correct verb.

Remember, if you can put the word "go" in the sentence, use "take." If you can put the word "come" in the sentence, put the word "bring."

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Tina Field Howe and Logan I. Masterson

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Tina Field Howe and Logan l. Masterson

Tina Field Howe

Tina Field Howe
Tina’s first book was Snailsworth, a slow little story, a children’s picture book which she wrote and illustrated in 2004. “Snailsworth” book and audio book won Silver in the 2013 Readers’ Favorite Awards. 

Tina’s first novel, “Alysa of the Fields, Book One in the Tellings of Xunar-kun” (SHOO-nahr-KOON), won the 2006 Dream Realm Awards for Cover Art. The second book in the series – “The TrailFolk of Xunar-kun” – won First Place in the 2009 Written Art Awards, Science Fiction category; and Silver in the 2011 Readers' Favorite Awards. 

Tina received a 2009 Artist Crossroads Grant from The ARTs Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and NYSCA to create an audio book of “Alysa of the Fields.” She cast 42 actors in the character roles and lent her own voice to the narration. She produced the 8-CD audio book in her home studio. It was released in 2010 and has won three awards: Gold in Readers' Favorite, Silver in Mom's Choice and First Place in Reader Views. 

Tina dabbled in screenwriting on and off for several years then discovered Screenwriting U’s online screenwriting intensive which she completed in 2011. Since then she has been focused on screenwriting and has won and placed in several competitions. She is currently taking Screenwriting U’s Master class and recently gained representation. 

In addition to writing books and screenplays, for many years Tina has been an illustrator and her day job is in corporate communications.  

Tina holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and a Minor in Art. Her favorite college studies included physical and cultural anthropology, archaeology, studio art and art history.

Tina lives in Waverly, New York. She “gives back” by speaking at career seminars at public schools, meeting with creative writing classes, and speaking to individual aspiring writers.

Tina's books:

Alysa of the Fields (paperback/hardback/PDF and Kindle)
And free on Smashwords for a limited time!

The TrailFolk of Xunar-kun (paperback/hardback/PDF and Kindle)
And free on Smashwords for a limited time!

Tina's Links:


Logan l. Masterson

Logan I. Masterson
Born in southern Missouri, and traveling the American southwest throughout his early life, Logan L. Masterson rooted himself in ideas rather than places. His world is a place of wonders, where words are magic and anything is possible. It’s also a place of darkness: good things happen to bad people and the best intentions can go terribly awry.

Logan L. Masterson is the author of Ravencroft Springs, a Lovecraftian tale of Appalachia published by Pro Se Press. Look for his stories “Clockwork Demons” in Capes & Clockwork, and “Shadow of the Wolf” in Luna’s Children II, both from Dark Oak Press. His newest project is Wheel of the Year: Samhain, the first in a pagan high-fantasy series of short stories. 

Logan's Links:

From today's program: Rosetta water discovery.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Twenty-four Hours with Only a Phone

My wife and I tried an experiment. I came up with the idea that maybe if we used our smart phones just as phones for 24 hours, we might experience more life. We might spend less time staring at screens and more time seeing what's around us. We might even . . . talk to each other.

It didn't work that way. From 10:00 P.M. on a Thursday to 10:00 P.M. on a Friday, we turned off data and WiFi on our iPhones. This cut us off from the internet: no Facebook, no Twitter, no Words with Friends (seemingly my wife's current obsession).

What did we learn. I learned it was annoying and inconvenient. If I wanted to check the weather, I had to get on a computer. If I wanted to check Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media, I had to get on my computer. And this was less of a burden for my wife than for me. Her computer is kept on the main floor of the house, mine is in the basement meaning I had to go down a flight of stairs anytime I wanted to use a computer. I pretty much just didn't bother.

In lieu of doing something on my phone, I read, watched TV, or did work. There was no magical improvement of my life. As I said, it was mostly annoying and inconvenient.

I think the reason my experiment didn't have the results I wanted was simply that technology makes our lives better. I can check the weather at a glance. I can update Twitter, Facebook, etc. without having to sit down in front of a computer. I can search the web from my recliner. Cutting myself off from technology did not return my life to a pastoral blissful existence. It was simply a bother.

Maybe the next step is to cut off internet completely.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas/Holiday Book-Buyer's Guide

It's Christmas time again (or fill in your favorite holiday).

And if you're wondering what to give that special someone who loves to curl up with a good book, here are some suggestions:

Kundalis: Storm Dragon by Frances Pauli

Karin knows she’s gone completely insane—nuts—absolutely batshit crazy, when she spots an insidious blue dragon twining through the trees at a rest stop in the Cascade Mountains. Despite agreeing to join her roommate at a psychic fair, she’s never believed in anything metaphysical. She’s pretty sure the Reiki treatment she succumbed to has brought on a frighteningly realistic hallucination—until they roll their mini-van in the middle of I-90, and she is rescued from the vehicle by the same monstrous blue figment of her imagination.

She awakens to find that she’s been delivered to a cabin high in the mountains instead of to a proper hospital. The “doctor” looking out for her is more of a new-ager than a physician, and the people who own the house, including the urban highlander version of Fabio, don’t have any intention of letting her leave.

Faced with the unimaginable, and strapped to an all-too-real dragon, Karin must decide how to tame the beast or risk losing herself to it forever.

Amazon reviews: "An exceedingly well-written contemporary fantasy that will suit all fans who want something on the little bit different side." "...a fun twist on the idea of dragons."

Nexus Point by Jaleta Clegg

Stranded on a primitive world, chased by drug smugglers who think she’s competition, hunted by the Patrol as a criminal, pursued by the natives who think she’s a demon, Dace has one hope of rescue—convince the Patrol agent trying to kill her that she’s innocent. But on Dadilan, no one is innocent.

Amazon review: "Well written, with an unpredictable plot and well-rounded characters. “

Emergence by Siana Wineland

It’s been twenty-five years since people started to change in the Pacific Northwest… Since the emergence of the first Valkyries. Most find it easier to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. That the contagion isn’t something that can touch them. Unfortunately the next to transform, and sprout wings, could be anyone.

Most of all, Jessica Reuther wants nothing more to do with Valkyries. But when a recovery team comes for her, she becomes the contested bone among the wolves. And a vicious game of tug-o-war ensues while she is forced to face a reality she prayed would never come. In the wake of her metamorphosis, a new kind of change begins to sweep through the fledgling race, one that could have devastating consequences for humanity.

Amazon reviews: "I really enjoyed this book. The characters were engaging and the plot moved quickly." "Awesome book, couldn't put it down!  If I didn't know before hand would never have guessed it was a new author."

Mythica by Voss Foster

Ghosts of the past and fairies of the future. Mythical creatures and magic gone awry. 
From the crash of the Hindenburg to magic-crazed visions of tomorrow, wonder runs just under the surface. Six fantasy shorts from author Voss Foster explore just how deep that magic runs. And how easily it can be exposed.

Unbound: Kayla Blackstone Book One by Adriane Ceallaigh

Kayla Blackstone wasn't always a slave. At one time she’d been the best bounty hunter the drifts had ever seen... before the Mage Hunters came. Before they’d stolen her life, her family, and her purpose. Before Keaton had offered her a deal she couldn't refuse.

Now she has a chance to get her life back, to start over. Her Master, Keaton, wants one more run, one more delivery. She knows better than to trust him, but she doesn't have a choice. Unfortunately, for Kayla, Keaton’s deals are as deadly as they ever were.

Amazon Review: This was different then any book i have read before. I am an avid reader , so it is hard to find books that stand out and i am pleased that this one had such a great new story line. Can't wait for the next book.

Gods of Strife by S. Evan Townsend

They live among us.  We know they are there.  No government can control them; no authority can stop them.  Some are evil.  Some are good.  All are powerful.  They inhabit our myths and fairy tales.  But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers?  What if they were called "adepts" and an ancient evil stalks them?

An assassination attempt on the head of the American Meta Association guild sends adept Peter Branton looking for who wants him and his leader dead.  Finding the beautiful, shape-shifting assassin leads him to his real enemy, an enemy that is much worse and much more dangerous: living gods of Atlantis.  Branton must team with up with his would-be killer and a mysterious warrior to defeat the gods of strife that are intent on starting a war that could devastate all mankind.

Amazon Review:  "...the story really came to life, you almost felt as if you were a part of the action."