31 December 2014

2014 in review

It's been quite a year, and not even for writing!

In February, I went to Mannheim, Germany, for a little over 2 weeks for a practicum in my German-teaching-certificate program, then I visited a friend in Stuttgart, and we went to see Hertha play VfB (and win).

March saw my first personal rejection for a story. April saw two sick cats, one of whom we lost in August.

In May, I successfully chaired a convention, and we're doing it again in 2015, this time with more staff huzzah.

I spent the last two weeks-ish of June in Berlin, then watched Germany win the World Cup. After that, it was building armor for DragonCon and having a cat die.

I started teaching German at a local language school in mid-September, and I'm cramming to finish the last module I need to get my certificate by Feb 1. (I have until April 1.)

In November I went to World Fantasy Con, met a lot of new people, and saw a bunch of my VP17 classmates. I won NaNoWriMo with a rewrite of my current novel (which I intend to finish a draft I can give to people to read by March 1).

This month involved a lot of baking, planning my next German class (German 2, starting next Tuesday), and visiting my family in Maryland. And crocheting a blanket for my sister's baby, which I finished just in time for her shower.

I didn't read nearly as much fiction as I wanted to, partly because I was either planning a convention, building armor, or reading about the theory of foreign language instruction in German.

For 2015, I want to sell a short story (at least one, preferably more than one; I only have 3 at the moment), get the novel to a state where I can shop it to agents, teach, successfully chair another convention, and run a 5k. I want to make a dent in my to-read backlog (much of which is electronic, thankfully).

I wish you all a happy new year and einen guten Rutsch.

15 December 2014

NaNoWriMo follow-up

Since I blogged that I was going to revise my novel during the November NaNo period, I figure I should say something about how it went.

I got 50,000 words (51,600 or something, actually). I hit the target before Thanksgiving, which was good, because I had company that whole weekend and had minimal time to write. Some may call it cheating a bit, because I was revising; however, I had to rewrite a LOT of scenes, and I threw out a lot of what I had and basically changed the last half of it entirely. So only kind of like cheating.

It was very difficult, and I had to skip a lot of things I usually do (or needed to do, like make lesson plans). I have not yet finished it; I've had a hard time getting momentum to get back into it. I wrote the last scene, yes, but there are a lot of things I need to go back and fill in (interludes of fake documentation, letters, that sort of thing; a lot of description and emotions, especially in the second half/final third), which I will likely do in January, once it's had a little time to sit, and when I've done a bit more research into official documentation.

The next couple weeks I'm devoting to finishing the final module of my teaching-German course, and I'll take the last exam the first two weeks(ish) of January (the school is closed from 12/24-1/6). Assuming I pass, I'll get a nice shiny certificate by spring. Hooray. I also need to make lesson plans and find resource materials for my German 2 class starting in a few weeks. (I need to have enough ready so I don't have to do it while spending 2 hours a day on an exam.)

Once I get back to making a Finished First Draft of the novel, I probably won't dive in as much as I did during NaNo. I would like to get it to a state where I can send it to beta readers by February 15, but that's a target, and we'll see how it goes. I have to give myself a deadline, because otherwise I'll put it off indefinitely.

So that's the state of The Novel (which needs a title, and I am rubbish at titles, so lord knows what it'll ever end up being called). I have a couple short pieces out on submission at the moment, and a piece of experimental flash I want to revise before sending back out. If I make a sale, I promise I'll tell you all here ;)

08 December 2014

"There has to be a word for that in German."

There's a meme that German has a word for everything, and I'm often asked what the German word for some complicated phrase is.

My answer is usually, "There isn't one, but I can make one up for you." (Occasionally there actually is a word for that, like Kummerspeck, weight gained from emotional overeating (literally "grief bacon"), but not most of the time.)

It's very true that German has a lot of long compound words, but the vast majority of them (especially the 5- and 6-word conglomerations) won't be in the dictionary. Yes, Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän is a word, and it has a Wikipedia entry that is largely composed of its usage in machine translation problems and examples of artificial and fictive words composed from it. (I am still of the opinion that it should be Schiffahrt, the Rechtschreibreform be damned. Three f's in a row look ridiculous.)

The German language has a very useful and convenient property that allows for the building of compound (or composite) words, known in German as Komposita. All you need is a stem noun and another noun, an adjective or adverb, or sometimes a verb, which you glom onto the front of the stem noun (sometimes with modifications). Each subsequent addition makes the thing more specific.

Let's use Kapitän as a first example, since we've got the lovely Komposita up there. You have a Kapitän--a captain. You can have a Mannschaftskapitän (a team captain; two nouns) or a Schiffskapitän (a ship captain). Bastian Schweinsteiger is currently the Nationalmannschaftskapitän (national team captain; adjective and two nouns, and the adjective makes the first noun more specific).

Another example: Teller (plate). You can have a Gemüseteller on a menu, and it will be a plate of vegetables. Or you can buy a very nice Porzellanteller, which is a plate made of porcelain. You don't always just smush words together. You wouldn't have a Grünporzellanteller, but you would have a grünen Porzellanteller, if it's green.

It is very convenient to make compound words in German where we would have two words or sometimes a phrase in English. But it's a myth that words for every esoteric concept exist in German. You won't find it in a dictionary, but if you're nice, maybe a German speaker will make one up for you.