Tag Archives: Septimus Series

Just Sayin’…

I was watching a TV show yesterday, one that’s set in the Shetland Islands (and is, incidentally, called Shetland. What a coincidence). Anyway, there was a character in that episode named Catriona. You know, just like Cat in my Septimus Series. Nice name, right?

But then, to my great shock, I heard the name pronounced “Katrina”. Cat-REE-nah. Oh dear. I’ve always pronounced it Cat-ree-OH-nah. Have I been mispronouncing my own character’s name all these years?

I’m a bit of a stickler for correctly pronouncing people’s names. I am, with great regularity, on the receiving end of first-name mispronunciation, my name being Angelika. Now, if you’re German, you’ve just mentally pronounced it like this: Ang-GAY-lick-uh – hard g, emphasis on second syllable. That’s good. But if you’re English-speaking, chances are very high that you’ve said it like this: An-jel-EEK-uh – soft g, emphasis on third syllable. For some reason, most English-speaking people do it that way – I don’t know why. If it’s spelled with a c, Angelica, they say An-JEL-lick-uh, which I much prefer. My best guess is that with the k spelling, they see it and go “Eeep, foreign! Must be pronounced weird,” and that’s what they come up with. Or maybe they’re thinking of the only other English word that ends with “-ika”, which is “paprika”, and model the twisting on that.

Anyway, point being is that I want to pronounce people’s names correctly, even if they’re fictional people I’ve invented and named myself. So I was a little dismayed to hear Cat’s name said very differently from how I’ve always done it. To be honest, if the name is going to be pronounced Katrina, I’d just as soon have it spelled that way – and I wouldn’t have chosen that name for Cat. It’s a nice name and all, but I like Catriona better.

So I looked it up – thank you, Google and Youtube. And to my relief I found that my mispronunciation is actually a legitimate way of saying the name. Cat-ree-OH-nah. You can also go with Cat-REE-oh-nah (like Hermione, Her-MY-oh-nee), so there are actually three different ways of saying it. The Gaelic is Cat-REE-nah, but the version with OH in it is legit too – it’s more of an American pronunciation, which works because my Cat is meant to be American (with Canadian or maybe Scottish grandparents – hey, maybe her mom named her Cat-ree-OH-nah, and her grandmother, who raised her and was a bit of a stickler, always insisted on Cat-REE-oh-nah? That only just occurred to me.).

Now, don’t get me wrong – if you’ve been reading the Septimus books, and you’ve mentally pronounced Cat’s name as Katrina, that’s perfectly fine by me. As long as you like my Cat, and make her your own, that’s wonderful, and you can pronounce her name any way you see fit. Incidentally, the same goes for Guy – I say it as “guy” (as in, “That guy is a potter,” which is where his name originated), but if you want to say it the French way, “ghee”, feel free.

Life, the Universe, and Ways to Say a Name. But Steve is always Steve.

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Here’s a picture of Steve (St-EE-v) and his cousin Alfred (ALF-red).

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Filed under The Septimus Series, this and that

Crackpots

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One of the great things about pottery is that clay is very forgiving. Every potter has a slop and trimmings bucket sitting by their wheel, and when you’re in the early stages of your pottery skills acquisition, most of what you attempt to make ends up in there as well. But you haven’t wasted anything at this stage – you just let it dry out, re-wet it, wedge (=knead) it back together, and you’re back in business. So all those crackpots you have on the shelf? As long as they haven’t been fired, you’re good – chalk it up to practice.

Here are Guy and Cat on the subject, from p.95 of Seventh Son. This is the first time Cat is in his pottery shop with him:

Guy was in the corner of the room, by the drying shelves, examining the cups and lids Cat had looked at the previous day. He looked up as he heard the shop door creak and raised his eyebrows in greeting as he saw Cat.

“These are ruined, I think,” he said, gesturing at her with one of the lids without a handle. “Too dry now to put the knob on. Ah well, we start again.” He chucked the lid into a bucket which sat on the floor between the wheel and the shelf and was filled with dried-up pottery pieces. It hit the contents with a dull thwack, and broke. Cat gasped—did he so casually discard his work? Guy looked up at the sound and gave her his crooked smile.

“There’s plenty more where that came from,” he said, sending half a dozen partially dried cups without handles after the lid. “It’s not a waste; I’ll reuse it. As long as it’s not fired, the clay can be re-wet over and over and made into new things.”

“Couldn’t you salvage these? Seems a shame to throw them out!”

“No, the handles won’t stick now; they’d just crack off during drying—or worse, after they’re fired, and then it really would be a waste. There’s not much use for a fired cracked pot. And, believe me, these aren’t a great loss; I can easily make more. Besides, sometimes this”—he narrowed his eyes, and hurled another cup into the bucket with extra violence—“can be quite satisfying.”

The cup shattered into a dozen pieces.

If you want to know what happens next (hint: something pretty dramatic!), just get a copy of the book. It’s free to download!

Life, the Universe, and Reclaimed Clay. It’s all highly symbolic.

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Monday Meanderings: A Thaw, and News from the Writing Trenches

A few days ago, just after that big snowfall, a thaw set in. The roads are mostly clear – where they aren’t icy from melting snow running across the pavement – and the sunshine is brilliant today. I rambled up into the woods earlier and stood for quite some time next to the wrecked car, looking out over the white expanse of the frozen lake and thinking, to the sound of the twittering of hopeful birds and the drip-drip-drip of the thaw. And then a row of Canada geese flew over the lake, honking. I like Canada geese; they’re so very – I don’t know, Canadian.

img_20170213_130807229_hdrI thought of many things (though shoes and ships and sealing wax were not among them), and some were trivial, some profound. One was that I needed to make a new gmail address with the periods removed from between the words, and when I came home and tried it, it turned out that gmail had already done so for me – apparently a.m.offenwanger is the same to Google as amoffenwanger. Who knew?

Oh, and I was going to give you some News from the Writing Trenches. I’ve been working on my latest piece, off and on, although it’s been very slow going since the end of NaNo. But it does still go. As for Star Bright (Septimus Book 4), it’s in the revision stage. I’d like to finish writing one book before I edit another – but maybe that’s not a feasible idea. There are a few other pieces that need editing; some short stories among them. And I’m hoping and/or planning to write more shorts to submit to contests or magazines.

img_20170213_130750170_hdrSo, all that to say, yes, I am still working on my writing – although sometimes it feels like I do more talking about writing than actual writing. However, writing blog posts is writing, too, isn’t it? And then there’s all those pictures I’m accumulating on my phone – worth a thousand words each, right? Okay, maybe not. So on that note, I’ll sign off now and go do some real writing.

Life, the Universe, and Monday Meanderings. Spring is on its way.

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Wordless Wednesday: CHECKMATE at the Public Library!

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23 November 2016 · 09:32

Cobblestone Fantasy

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We had a meeting of our local NaNoWriMo group this morning. We call it a Write-in, but it’s really more of a Yack-in. It’s just exciting to get together with a whole bunch of other crazy Wrimos and jabber on about how insane this is, and how difficult to find the time, and “Did you get your word count so far?” and “What are you doing about an outline – are you a plotter or a pantser?” And of course, the big question: “What are you writing this year?”

And in the course of that latter discussion, one of us coined a new term. They’re writing fantasy, and we asked if it was set in a classic medieval-style fantasy world. And they said, “Yes, cobblestone fantasy.”

Bam, on the nose! That’s such an awesome term, it needs to be put in the dictionary of genres. “Cobblestone Fantasy: n., fantasy fiction set in a traditional medieval world.”

That’s what a lot of my stories are. See, there is, just to mention a few flavours, “Urban Fantasy” (think Twilight or maybe even Harry Potter – fantasy in a modern setting), or “Steampunk” (generally set in an alternate-reality Victorian-type age), and then there’s the big classic of them all, “Sword & Sorcery”, which is the Lord of the Rings style of fantasy with a pseudo-medieval European setting.

But my books, as a rule, are generally not set here & now (at least not as a whole); they don’t deal in Victoriana; and they have no swords and practically no sorcery. But they do have cobblestones. Almost every single one has cobblestones in it somewhere, if not actually described, then implied. Cobblestones, and open hearths, and horse-and-carriage travel; porridge for breakfast and stew for dinner, cloaks and gowns and market days with vendors in market booths (on a cobble-paved market square, of course).

So, next time someone asks me what I write, I’ll tell them: “Cobblestone fantasy!” Because that nails it.

Life, the Universe, and Cobblestone Fantasy. We’ve coined a new term.

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They’re at the Library!

Look at what my good friend and fellow author Lee Strauss posted this morning on Facebook: She got my books from the library!!! Isn’t that exciting? Now I’m a real author (because, Library!).

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And here they are in the library’s catalogue. Impressive, eh?

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It quite tickles my fancy to see them catalogued like that, with proper Library of Congress subject headings (Magic — Fiction; Fantasy fiction) and call number (F&SF OFF). See?

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Incidentally, it really helps an author out to get their books into libraries. Most libraries have a “Suggestion for Purchase” feature, where you can tell them what books you’d like to see on the shelves (and usually, you’ll be the first one to get a copy to read once it comes in). So if your library hasn’t got the Septimus Books yet – what are you waiting for? Ask for them! 🙂

Life, the Universe, and the Septimus Books at the Library. Cat would heartily approve.

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Indie Book Review: Cat and Mouse by A.M. Offenwanger

An awesome review of CAT AND MOUSE by Kate M. Colby! Thank you so much, Kate!

Kate M. Colby

cat and mouseCat and Mouse by A.M. Offenwanger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Cat and Mouse is the second book in A.M. Offenwanger’s Septimus series and the sequel to Seventh Son. (Click here to read my review of Seventh Son.) Please note that this review does contain spoilers for Seventh Son, so if you haven’t read it yet, go download your FREE copy today. Seriously, do it now. It’s only free for a limited time. (Sorry future readers!)

The plot of Cat and Mouse picks up after Catriona (Cat) and Guy’s wedding. At first, all seems to be well for the newlyweds and the land of Ruph. Cat and Guy learn how they operate as a married couple, Bibby is her regular adorable self, and Guy even takes on an apprentice…

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Filed under books, Cat and Mouse, The Septimus Series, writing