31 October 2007

3 1/2 hours to go!


If I had any sense I'd spend that time studying for a Norwegian test (whose bright idea was it to have a 5 hour test on 2. Nov?) but that's boring.

Staring at the clock is much more fun.

My plot is still half-finished. Chapters 4-8 are outlined thus: Battles. Skirmishes. Hill forts. Lots of people die.

Yeah, well. Who cares. Those chapters will probably be written around 10. Nov.

Claudius Labeo's sister-son is still half nameless. I think he got the citizenship after the revolt (because he was very sneaky and sided with the Romans) so he can be Flavius Labeo. Or just Bob.

I have no idea how I'm going to manage 50 k. I have a gigantic Norwegian project. Four 5 hour tests (two in Norwegian, and one each in chemistry and physics. Eeks), plus a few normal 2 hour tests. Some three essays to write. Normal homework. A new job (I'll be helping the first years with their math homework), though that's only one hour a week.

But I have chocolate. I have tea. I have nifty pens.

And 2 hours and 57 minutes until I can start writing. Argh.

27 October 2007

Dear Plot

Where are you?

Less than 100 hours before NaNo (where did October go?), and I still have about half a million things to figure out before I can start writing. And I mean important things, like battles and figuring out who is who.

My outline is a mess. My characters are not cooperating. I already have walk-ins. Calgacus wants a part. Or rather, my Silurian rebel Cadwaladyr wants to drag him into some sort of alliance against the Romans. I told him he wasn't allowed to. He answered that if he could corrupt the Batavian auxiliaries, he could drag in some northern tribes as well.
And if that wasn't enough, Cadwaladyr also wants to be Caratacus' son. No. Definitely not allowed. You'll be the son of some random Silurian chief whose name I can't pronounce, get it? Bloody Silures.

Batavians are much nicer. They've all got names. They've got personalities. Plus they can cross rivers without breaking formation. Beat that.

The obvious exception is Claudius Labeo's sister-son, who is an arrogant, snobbish, nameless git. I hate him. He'll be fun to write though. I just hope Imerix can keep his temper - unlike Geravan, who broke Embric's nose. Which reminds me, those two still have to fight a little duel to the death. Yikes.

Merula has decided to be a tribune. Eleven minutes before the deadline he told me everything (apparently, he also is Tacitus' cousin, or something. Uhhh...) Damn. I really wanted a village idiot in my book. But I'll try to get that rude elm tree and Sammy the Fried Salmon into the story somehow.

Soooo... Walk-ins, characters who don't cooperate, unplanned battles, a bunch of druids with a combined IQ of about 17, and *grin* some twenty different kinds of tea.

I think I'm ready for November :)

Also, the second round of the chemistry olympiad will be in January (which means studying till I drop in December, yaay). Some 140 participants went to round two, and the sixteen best at round two will go on to round three. The four best from round three will represent Norway in Budapest.
I think I have a decent chance to pass the second round at least. Top 16? Ha! My 72 points were good enough for sixth place after round one... :)

21 October 2007

I'm going to cry...

Actually, I have cried. I sat for a quarter of an hour, sobbing onto mum's shoulder.

I finished NaNo06. At 21.28 today, while listening to 'Stairway to heaven', I wrote those two beautiful yet horrible words. The End.

The End. After nearly a year (355 days to be exact) of scribbling frantically when the physics teacher wasn't looking, of tearing my hair out when the ninjas turned up, of shouting when Marcus decided that astronomy was really much better than medicine, of banging my head against the wall when Geravan got into fights with important allies... 355 days of laughing and crying, and then it's over. The End. Just like that. For 355 days Marcus and Geravan have been with me, and then they suddenly decide that it's enough. The End. They walk out on me, just like that, those ungrateful little... No, actually I love them.

It's the first time I've ever finished something as long as this. The last time I finished a story (not counting schoolwork) was a two-page something about a spider and a butterfly when I was about seven (even that had a walk-in...).

And now my historical mess of a novel (total wordcount 264 k, maybe, I haven't typed everything yet) is finished. The End. I'm happy, but also sad. I mean, there's editing and rewriting to do, but it just won't be the same. The End.

Shoulder to cry on? Someone? Please?

Suddenly, ninjas arrived

That'll be the working title for NaNo07, yaay.


Yes. Good idea.

My fingers are still taped together. I can hardly type, or write for that matter. Which is not nice because Marcus and Geravan, plus my NaNo07 characters, are all demanding attention.

Gabriele, can I borrow that rack of yours? I have a NaNo07 Roman who refuses to tell me who he is...

20 October 2007

Book meme

You're right, Linwe, this is funny :)

1. Take five books from your bookshelf
2. Book #1 - first sentence
3. Book #2 - last sentence on page fifty
4. Book #3 - second sentence on page hundred
5. Book #4 - second to last sentence on page one hundred fifty
6. Book #6 - last sentence of the book
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph

The books I picked (taken at random from my shelf, so I have three different languages, haha)
1. Stad in de Storm, by Thea Beckman. In Dutch.
2. Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu. In Icelandic
3. The Mark of the Horse Lord, by Rosemary Sutcliff
4. Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne
5. The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide, by Douglas Adams

My paragraph:

Sedert de vroege ochtend luiden de klokken van de Domtoren. Um vorið bað Gunnlaugur konunginn sér orlofs til brottferðar. The other glanced round at him, surprised, but not suspicious. I tried to turn my thoughts to things on the surface of the earth, but I was hard put to it to succeed. He put on a little light music instead.

Almost makes my ninjas sound normal.

Also, the, erm, chemistry olympiad actually went quite well... I made it to round two. In fact I'm one of the best in the country...
However, it appears that I did not beat the nerd guy anyway - he beat me. And I can't have that. After NaNo, I'm going to teach myself everything there is to know about chemistry. It'd be awesome to get to the final, but more importantly I have to beat the nerd.
*whips out periodic table* This. Means. War.

17 October 2007

Look what I found!

Maybe you should not look if you are afraid of spiders. Though I think this little guy should be slightly less scary than a tarantula.

I shall call thee Ungoliant...

Fascinating creatures. They have such a cool way of walking.

And the riddle again. Find the next letter/number:

I B 3 d V

Hint? Okay. Gabriele: Get one of your characters to help you. One from NaNo07 should do. That's the last hint I'll give you ;)

I'd write more but I've taped the fingers of my left hand together (they hurt like hell) so I only have six fingers to type with.

12 October 2007

NaNo dares

Last year I was going to write serious historical fiction, so I didn't do any dares (except the "Suddenly, ninjas arrived"-one, and I think we all know how that turned out). Nevertheless, I ended up with not only ninjas, but also JF Kennedy and the Pope turning up in a UFO, Jeanne d'Arc making a random appearance and a Monty Pythonesque "What have the Romans every done for us?"-scene (granted, that wasn't written in November).

This year I'll be writing serious historical fiction again. But I figured, since I'll inevitably end up with ninjas and UFOs and submarines (thanks Gabriele), I might as well do some dares. NaNo07 will probably be much darker than NaNo06 (I have a feeling one of my MCs will kill himself this year), so it needs some lighter moments. It'll be edited out anyway, so what the hell. I might as well have some author-only comic relief.

The dares I've picked:

Have a penguin stampede in a unlikely place. I.E., The Gobi desert. (Is Wales unlikely enough?)
Bonus points if it occurs during a otherwise perfectly serious scene.

Have the Spanish Inquisition show up, unexpectedly.

Bonus: Play the whole thing straight and serious.

Purple Moose. Take that as you will.

Include the line "'Because it's funny' is not a valid reason for turning the enemy troops into fluffy pink bunnies."

Double points if the person doing the transforming then offers a valid tactical reason.

Triple bonus points if they add, "And because it's really funny." to the end.

Quadruple if this is accepted as a valid reason.

Quintuple points if this is the only thing the transforming character ever does.

I was sorely tempted by this one too:
Have your character regularly burst into Beatles songs
BP if they dress like one of the Beatles too
DBP if they do NOT dress like John Lennon
But I eventually figured that'd be too hard to edit out. Sorry Agricola. Maybe Gabriele will let you sing 'Yellow Submarine'?

Also, winter is coming. It was snowing (well, sleeting) when I biked to work. So now I can look forward to six months of cold & darkness >.< See why I need funny dares?

10 October 2007

Names, names and more names

WARNING: This post contains "research" done at 5 AM.

Yesterday I was very happy because I finally found names for my Batavian characters (well, two of them at least, plus their fathers because they always have to introduce themselves as 'X son of Y'). My MC will be Imerix son of Servofredus, a name I very much stole from a gravestone, found in Croatia. Well, that thing is from the first century AD and the real Imerix son of Servofredus was a Batavian, so that's all very nice and historically correct.
For my other Batavian I picked a name from the Dutch name list; Ingomar son of a guy who hasn't got a name yet. The name Ingomar is from 690, quite early, but once I started writing a plot outline I found that it didn't work. The name doesn't fit the character at all. My character needs a name with the letter 'f' in it, and preferably an 'a' too, somewhere in the beginning. However, I couldn't find any names on the name list that I like and that fit the character.

I don't want an MC called Bob. The characters called Bob are the not-so-important ones (except Bob the Frisian who became too important for his own good).

So I did what any insomniac would do: nighttime research. I had at my disposal... Copies of Tacitus' works (Annals of Imperial Rome and The Histories, mainly); essays on Germanic names from that name list; a name book older than myself (Voornamen, by dr. J van der Schaar); the book Ethnic Identity and Imperial Power, the Batavians in the early Roman Empire, by Nico Roymans; and my mind (which is a very scary thing at 5 AM).

I went through those books and wrote down all the (Latinised) Germanic names I could find. Then, with the help of the name list and the name book, I tried to reconstruct the real, non-latinised names.


Also difficult. I don't speak old Germanic. Then there's the problem of the time difference. The Latinised names are mostly from the first century AD. The names from the name list are from 523-1150, with very many from the later period. I know virtually nothing about language changes along the Rhine during this period, but I know a good deal about what happened in Scandinavia. Proto-Norse was spoken from about 200-600 AD, and this evolved into various Old Norse dialects. The Proto-Norse name StainawarijaR "evolved" into the Old Norse Steinarr (in modern Norwegian it's Steinar). The changes took place over a period of about 300 years - a period known in Norwegian as 'synkopetida', the age of syncope.

300 years isn't very much, and I don't even want to think about how much how much old Germanic might've changed during the first millennium AD.

But I'll get to the point and show you what I've come up with. You're allowed to cry, tear your hair out, burst out laughing and/or anything else.

Germanic names had two elements, so I've tried to find two for each name, plus list the meaning. Starting with the easiest names:

Segimerus: sig + mar (victory + fame)

Segimundes: sig + mund (victory + protector)

Inguiomerus: ing + mar (Ingwio (a god) + fame). Which is basically the name Ingomar I thought about using for my character. I'll call his father that instead, I think.

Segestes: First element is still sig (victory). For the last one I went to my name book and found an entry gis(el) which had two meanings. 1) Child of noble birth, prisoner of war, hostage (compare the Norwegian gissel); and 2) Spear (Germanic *gaiza), arrow (Lombardian gisil).
I'm leaning towards option 2 because Victory-spear sounds much cooler than Victory-hostage.
EDIT: Stuff you miss at 5 AM one night usually comes to you at 4.17 AM the next night. The second element is more likely to be the Germanic *gastiz, meaning 'guest, stranger'.

Chariovalda: gard + wald (protector + power/forest), or ger + wald (spear + forest)

Arminius: Could be her + man (army + man) or irmin (great) + something

Maroboduus: mar + bad (fame/horse + combat). My name book gives me *bheudh, meaning 'to command, to order', and also says that Maroboduus might mean something like 'commander of the horses'.

Mallovendus: madel + win. 'madel', according to my name book, should be compared to the Gothic 'mathl' (gathering place) and 'mathljan' (to speak). So the meaning of Mallovendus would be something like speak/gathering place + friend. Or speak/gathering place + Vandal, if the second element is 'wendil'.

Catualda: god + wald (good + power/forest). I had another first element from my name book but I can't find it, and I can't understand my notes either (illegible handwriting, lol). It had something to do with 'speak'.

Actumerus: ag + mar (sword edge + man). According to the almighty name book, 'ag' comes from the Germanic 'agjô'. Still means sword edge.

(it's okay Gabriele, you can stop crying, I'm done with butchering your characters' names ;) At least I hope so)

Gannascus: Gund + asc (battle + (spear/ship made of) ash) And I don't care if 'asc' was not used as a second element.

Brinno: Not even going to attempt this one. Bloody Cananefates. Could be something to do with 'bern' (bear/brave warrior), the colour brown, or 'brunjô' (breastplate). Or maybe it's an ancient form of Bob.

Verax: wer + ric (protection + rich/mighty/king). Yeah, it's Verax, not Verix, but I don't care. Maybe he was such a git that nobody cared about spelling his name correctly.

(Can you tell I was becoming tired at this point?)

I have some names from inscriptions as well, starting with a Batavian:

Vihirmas: wich + mar (combat + fame). Maybe. I had serious trouble with this guy. First element could also be 'wacchar', meaning 'wakeful, alert, robust'.

Imerix: ing + ric (Ingwio + rich/mighty/king), or irmin + ric (the god Irmin/mighty + rich/mighty/king). That last one would kinda be a double meaning (though I must admit, Mighty-mighty would be a rather fun name. Very suitable for a Batavian *grins*). Maybe the first element is 'heime' (home) or 'helm' (protector).

Servofredus: I'm guessing the second element is 'frid' (peace, protection). The first element could be related to the Gothic word 'sarwa', meaning weapon. Though that could make the meaning very weird, Weapon-peace. Maybe the Batavians had a sense of humour.

And last but not least, a Baetasian name, taken from a gravestone:
Annauso: My first guess was 'annoying sod' (I had a Baetasian called Annauso last year, and he was an annoying sod) *ahem* The first element could be 'ans' (god), the second erm... 'ward' (protection, peace), maybe?

[/"Research" done at 5 AM]

And all because my character needs a name with an 'f'. I have a few more, but there my "research" is even worse. I might've missed some very obvious ones (hey, it was 5 AM!), so I'll keep looking through my precious name book.

And get some sleep. I have to work tomorrow.

8 October 2007

Especially for Gabriele

And others who are doing NaNoWriMo. The ultimate question is of course, how to write 50.000 words in one month.

And the answer is not 42. That's a completely different ultimate question ;)

Fact is, there isn't any answer. There are many. It depends on what you write, when you write, why you write, how you write and that sort of thing. But here are a couple of things that worked for me last year (I had 64 017 words at the end of November).

1. Sleep is overrated. Eight hours a night? Pshaw. Five is more than enough. Plenty of time to sleep in December!

2. Don't think. Just type. And type fast. Last year I wrote 2770 words the first day (one chapter). I reread it today and god, it's awful. It has Thiadulf and Geravan out hunting and squabbling about who's best at throwing spears and then Geravan tripping over his own feet (okay, so I liked that bit). The second chapter is even worse (that has Marcus complaining about the cold for 2000 words) but gradually it becomes better and better (at least I hope so, lol) once the revolt actually starts.
I could've spent half the month polishing these two first chapters until they shone but then it would take years before I could actually start writing about the revolt itself. And guess what? Now I have a couple of not-so-bad ideas for the start of the novel. Once I finish the first draft I'll put it in. For me at least, this "just write, dammit"-strategy works very well. If I just write whatever seems good at the moment, the rest will come later.

To sum it up, I'll quote Teciltur, one of my writing buddies: My strategy is now to fidget with the last few sentences I've written, but once I've gotten a few more lines in between, they're 'cemented'...

3. Chocolate and tea. 'Nuff said.

4. Ninjas, ninjas, ninjas, ninjas. Is your MC surrounded by hordes of evil barbarians with very sharp swords, while he himself is only armed with a butter knife *coughMarcuscough*, and you really can't let him be killed because he is a historical character and needs to be around for the Battle of Whatever? Send in the ninjas. Not only will your character be rescued, but you'll also get extra words, yaay!
Later you can edit the ninjas out and replace them with, well, Batavian riders. Roman legionaries. Orcs. Whatever. Or you can rewrite it slightly and turn the barbarian hordes into two barbarians to even the odds a little.
But that's later. Lots of emphasis on that last word.

5. Do some research in October and very, very, very little in November. Don't spend hours researching the political systems of cavemen in the Antarctic in the third millennium BC (good luck trying to find anything about that btw, lol) when you're already ten thousand words behind. Did these cavemen have presidents or kings? Who the hell cares. Just give him the title 'leader'. Problem solved.
I found last year that it was much easier to call my Frisians 'Bob' than research Frisian names in the first century AD. Also, when Thiadulf died, I gave him a Beowulf-style funeral pyre instead of spending hours trying to find out about Batavian funeral customs. I have a Word file called "Stuff that needs to be researched" where I write down, well, stuff that needs to be researched. The plan was that I'd do it this summer but I haven't finished writing the first draft yet so I'll do it next summer. Most of the things I need to research are just minor details, things that aren't important to the plot (like the colour of Geravan's cloak). So, if I find I was completely wrong about something it'll take fifteen minutes to correct it. No harm done.

6. Writer's block? Take a two-minute break. Not much longer than that. To get unblocked, have your MC run into a new character. Then see what happens. Remember Lucius the Annoying Walk-In? Guess how he came into the story...
Well, okay, so he was a git. But he got me extra words.

7. Very small notebooks. A5 or something. The kind you can stick in your pocket and take with you everywhere. Write while you're on the train, in the dentist's waiting room, or in the middle of class. Which brings us to point 8.

8. Do as much homework as you can in October, and work as hard as you can during breaks, free hours, whatever. Also, if a lecture is highly boring, take out your very small notebook (see point 7) and write! To ensure that the teachers don't suspect anything, you should have another notebook which looks exactly the same. This one should be filled with school stuff. Physics formulae, the titles of Ibsen plays, French verbs, etc. Go through your schoolbooks in October and scribble down a couple of notes for each subject (stuff you'll be learning in November).
If your teachers do become suspicious and ask what you are writing, show them this notebook. They'll be impressed, very impressed (mine are, at least).

9. I had a point 9 but I can't remember it.

10. Post-its are your friends! The more the better. Zulupad is good too.

So, these are my tips for NaNoWriMo. I might add some more later, though, when half my brain isn't occupied with figuring out the solubility product of Ca(OH)

Before I forget! The riddle!

I B 3 d V

It's Monday, so you'll get a hint. Gabriele, you should think along the lines of your obsession (and I'm not talking about chocolate :P )

6 October 2007

Plot llama!

Okay, so it's actually a stray cat we gave shelter two years ago. But I called him Llama, so he counts as one.

Hiding behind my dad's books, lol. Totally off topic, but if you see that thin book with the red cover on the left (De Nederlandse geschiedenis in een notendop): that's where I found the plot for last year's NaNo. Something about how we can never be sure what Civilis' motives for revolting were (of course, once my masterpiece is published, the world will know the truth: Civilis wanted revenge on Labeo and Flaccus because they had stolen his chocolate).

And here is my little plot Llama, ready to attack.
He was such an adorable little cat. Very playful - he used to attack his reflection in the mirror and everything. Mum said I could keep him but my own cat didn't agree, so we had to find a new home for Llama.

So, anyway. The plot:

"He [Agricola] took the decision to reduce the Island of Mona (Anglesey). (...) The general's resource and resolution got the troops across. Auxiliaries, specially selected from those who knew the fords and whose national practice was to swim while carrying their weapons and controlling their horses, were told to discard all their equipment. Then he launched them into attack so suddenly that the enemy were dumbfounded."
(Agricola, by Tacitus. Translated by AR Birley, Oxford World's Classics)

Those auxiliaries will, of course, be Batavians. So this year's NaNo will be about the first part of Agricola's governorship of Britain, 77 AD. I'll (hopefully) be able to build a half-decent plot around that. I have a week off from school now, and though I have to work three days there'll be some time for research. However, I also have to do an incredible amount of homework - though not much physics. I'm ahead of the rest of the class *grins* And I got a 6- for my physics test (which means I beat one of the nerds, again, muahahaha).
Also, I have to figure out everything about my Uni application. I've decided to study Oudheidkunde (Ancient studies) in Amsterdam. It sounds like a lot of fun, but it means I have to go through the bureaucratic labyrinth of application forms and special exams and translated report cards. Sometimes I wonder whether Unis actually want foreign students, lol.

Well, I'm going to do at least some research, work ahead in all school subjects, and most importantly: go to Trondheim tomorrow and stock up on chocolate covered coffee beans :)

Oh yes. Reposting that little riddle (you aren't getting a snippet until you solve it! I need time to deninja, lol):

I B 3 d V

You have to find the next letter/number, and also post an explanation (no wild guesses:P).