Book Two: Mixed Reviews

I know I haven’t posted in a while. A lot’s been going on in my life and it’s been hair, teeth, and eyes everywhere at work more often than not. My husband read my second book and he had mixed reviews. He likes the characters and the story in general, but has a problem with Kalyn being romantically involved with someone so much older. I told him, “Anselm’s 790 years old; it’s not like she’s going to catch up to him.” He still thinks I need to go back to my first book and up her age by a year or two.

So I’m waiting for some of my female readers to read through it and give me their opinions. So far, in theory, neither is averse to this May 2009-December 1219 romance, but as my boss pointed out, women, in general, are  all about romance, and the particulars aren’t quite as important. I know I don’t really see a problem; it’s a loving, permanent relationship. Sex is incidental, not instrumental. All around, it’s a better relationship than many that older women find themselves in.

Still, I’ve put a hold on sending out query letters for a while. What if it does turn out that I need to up her age (as silly as that is; absolutely nothing about her character will change, just because she’s a year older)? I’m starting to think that I might want to wait to query until I get all three books more or less done and get feedback on them, because I can always go back and change things like someone’s age while they’re still under my control, but once published, they stay published. Then the only option, if the agent and/or publisher pitches a fit about a sexually active 16 year old, is to take that out of the second book. And then it messes up everything. Better to up her age than change the plot that dramatically.

One benefit to waiting longer to query is to let the current vampire fad die down. The market is saturated, and I know that counts against me in a major way.

So, that’s where I am now. The road to getting published is never a straight path.

Book Two, Soon in Proof

You may have noticed that my blog has grown rather quiet over the past two weeks. That’s because I’ve been engaged in the final edits of the first draft of my second book. This morning I ordered my first proof.

Why am I going forward with my second book when I don’t even have an agent for my first one? For one, I am a big believer in writing when I have an idea; if I wait, I lose the idea. If I waited however many years until my first book gets published, I might forget everything I had ever planned to do with my second and third. But, primarily, it’s easier to write than to agent-shop. My book does not reject me. In fact, I get a high over finishing it, and then I get more highs as friends and family members read it and give me feedback. Sending out queries is a very depressing activity, and there’s only so much rejection you can take before you have to stop and do something else for a while. So, while I’m waiting to get un-bummed, I might as well write books two and three.

Cainite Language

A friend expressed interest in how I made my vampire language, after my last post on the topic. In order to keep all my words organized so I can use them (also, Cainite words are formed from common roots, so I have to be able to find related words in order to maintain root consistency), I keep everything in an Excel table. Here is my dictionary, as of this date. (Note: all words subject to change; sometimes I go back and change a word because I decide I like a different root better, or I rethink the grammar a bit.)

Word Literal Translastion Plural Verb Form Verb Meaning
    ah i  
Food and Taste Senses
Om Food/Human Omah Omi To eat
Omeh Food of the Soul (blood) Omehah Omehi To bleed
Mu Taste Muah Mui To taste
Tigmu Bitter taste      
Ilamu Sweet taste      
Ohimu Sour taste      
Isha Salt Ishaah Ishai To salt
Ishamu Salty taste Ishamuah    
         
The Body
Meh Soul Mehah Mehi To live/to be
Omeh Food of the Soul (blood) (none) Omehi To bleed
Mehjima Soul’s Dwelling (heart) Mehjimaah    
Cho Flesh/skin (none)    
Omehnirinir Blood river (vein/artery) Omehnirlioah    
Shoshu Hand Shoshuah Shoshui To give (hand over)
Imumeh No soul (dead/death)   Imumehi To die
People and Relationships
Canichmeh Person descended from Cain (Cainite) Canichmehah    
Imuechmeh Not me (other; non-Canichmeh vampire) Imuechmehah    
Om Food/Human Omah Omi To eat
Omtu Human child (first year Yaechahre)      
Nichmeh Person of descent (descendant) Nichmehah    
Meh Soul/spirit/person/life Mehah Mehi To live
Echmeh Me/I      
Yameh You      
Nameh Man Namehah    
Namehom Human man      
Ashmeh Woman Ashmehah    
Ashmehom Human woman      
Rumeh It      
Yaechmeh We/Us      
Nashmeh They      
Orumeh All souls (God)      
Orunameh All men (everyone/people; Cainites and Yaechahre collectively, when capitalized) (none)    
Mehtu Child Mehtuah    
Namehtu Boy Namehtuah    
Ashmehtu Girl Ashmehtuah    
Yosh Parent Yoshah Yoshi To parent (to take care of)
Yoshomeh Parent by blood (sire; feminine and male prefixes are not used–this stays generic)      
Nayosh Father Nayoshah    
Ashyosh Mother Ashyoshah    
Omehechahre My blood (vampire child) Omecharheah    
Choechahre My flesh (biological child) Choechareah    
Nachoechahre Boy of my flesh (biological son)      
Ashchoechahre Girl of my flesh (biological daughter)      
Ish Sibling Ishah    
Naish Brother Naishah    
Naishcho Flesh brother (biological brother) Naishchoah    
Naishomeh Blood brother Naishomehah    
Ashish Sister Ashishah    
Ashishcho Flesh sister (biological sister) Ashishchoah    
Ashishomeh Blood sister Ashishomehah    
Eruj One (leader) (none) Eruji To lead
Useruj Fifteen (the Council) (none) (none) (none)
Erujmeh One soul (alone)      
Emotions
Icu Emotion      
Osheicu Sad      
Tralicu Happy      
Mehnir Soul’s water (tear) Mehnirah Mehniri To have tears (to cry)
Tral Smile      
Traltah Big smile (laugh) Traltahah Traltahi To make big smile (to laugh)
Traltahtu Little laugh (giggle)      
Oshe Frown      
Oshetu Little frown (pout)      
Im Pain Imah Imi to have pain (suffer)
Arumeh Two souls (love)   Arumehahi to love
         
Numbers
Ruj Number      
Imuruj Zero      
Eruj One      
Aruj Two      
Aeruj Three      
Oruj Four      
Uruj Five      
Ahruj Six      
Ehruj Seven      
Iruj Eight      
Yruj Nine      
Seruj Ten      
Eseruj Eleven      
Aseruj Twelve      
Dseruj Thirteen      
Oseruj Fourteen      
Useruj Fifteen      
Ahseruj Sixteen      
Ehseruj Seventeen      
Iseruj Eighteen      
Yseruj Nineteen      
Saruj Twenty      
Saeruj Thirty      
Soruj Forty      
Suruj Fifty      
Sahruj Sixty      
Sehruj Seventy      
Siruj Eighty      
Syruj Ninety      
Teruj One hundred      
Weather and Heavens
Li Sky/heaven      
Uch Light      
Liuch Heaven’s light (sun)      
Linir Water from heaven (rain)   Liniri To rain
         
Interrogatories and Answers
Mehg Who?      
Seg What?      
Drog Why?      
Shug When?      
Juag Where?      
Merig Do…?      
Ranag How…?      
Oreh Yes      
Imu No, not, nothing      
         
Time and Place
         
Shu Time/now      
Jua Place      
Rojua There      
Rajua Here      
         
Misc. Nouns
Nir Water Nirah Niri To water (to flow)
Nirinir River      
Jima House   Jimai To house
Jimatu Room (in a house)   Jiamatui To take a room (board)
Shoshua Gift/present Shoshuaah Shoshuai To present
Triu Speech/word Triuah Triui To speak
Ca Fire Caah Cai To burn
Cauch Firelight      
Se Thing   Sei To (be) a thing (verb to be)
Nich Descent (none) Nichi  To descend
         
         
Misc. Verbs
Meri To do      
Jahni To take      
         
         
         
Misc. Miscellanea
Oru All      
Imuo But/except      
Gin And      
Dod With   Dodi to join

I am limited on the width of my table here, so a few rows of conjugation are cut off. But they are all easy suffixes.

For the past tense, add a “t” to the end of the word.
For future tense, add an “at” to the end of the word.
The diminutive form (equivalent to -ito or -ita in Spanish) is “tu.” “Meh,” the word for “person” becomes “child” when it is “Mehtu.”
The magnification of a word is done by adding “tah” to the end. “Mehtah” specifically means an “adult.”

These are my basic rules of grammar/functionality:

Rules
Grammar: Subject (Object) + adjective + verb + adverb + interrogative
Instead of a ?, eh is used to indicate a question.
There are no double letters in words except when prefixes or suffixes are added
Only nouns can be made plural.
There is no equivalent of the articles “the” or “a/an” in Cainite.

New Pages

I’ve added a couple of new pages to the right-hand sidebar: Canichmeh kinship and Orunameh in WWII.

The first is–for me–a fairly short explanation of the three types of kinship among vampires. It explains why Anselm and Micah call each other brothers, even though they are not brothers by birth or by sire.

The second is a paper published by a Canichmeh that briefly recounts the actions of the Orunameh (Canichmeh and Yaechahre are collectively referred to as “Orunameh”) during WWII. This was another exercise in historical research for me, as I dug up dates and places and got an education on various resistance movements in Europe. While the entire thing is fiction, of course, the stories within it are very much based on or are an amalgamation of real events during WWII. For all my fictional heroes, there were real people who did the same thing.

As a footnote, in the listing of the deceased, James Stewart was Rose’s husband; Eva Matthews was her sister (and only sibling). She lost Eva less than a year before James died.

Anselm and Micah Meet

I have had this scene written for a while, and I open it occasionally and tweak on it. But I’m starting to notice that I’m really bad about tweaking something to death (I’m still tweaking on my first book, and I considered it finished a year ago!), so I’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and publicly post it.

This is the story of how Anselm and Micah meet one another in 1512. This is also the first year that Joshua is the Erujtah, and you’ll see he clearly sets the tone for how he rules. I’ve tried to make all the information as historically-accurate as possible, but Jerusalem was a run-down, backwater little city in the 16th century, so it’s hard to find information on what people were wearing, how they lived, etc. It took a lot of digging just to find out what language people spoke (Arabic was the most common first langauge; Farsi (Persian) was the language of the government and courts), and even that’s a bit of a guess, because Jerusalem changed hands so frequently, what was common practice in one part of the controlling empire wasn’t necessarily the way things were done in Jerusalem. But, any historical inaccuracies aside, here it is:

            Micah woke up bored. He knew it wasn’t right, but sometimes he disliked peace. Fighting for or against whoever was trying to take Jerusalem in any particular year was all that really made him feel alive. Peaceful years passed without notice. But the Convening would open after the Rosh Hashanah service that evening, and while the meeting itself was often boring, it was a different kind of boring, which almost made it interesting. Besides, there would be people in town he hadn’t seen since the last Convening—and maybe even some new people; socializing after meeting was always the best part.
            He decided to go out to the market to kill some time.
            The sun was still shrouded in the early morning haze, but it promised to blaze fiercely when it rose fully. It was still hot during the days, as if summer didn’t want to let go.
            He meandered slowly through the narrow rows of vendors, while people bustled around him. That was one thing about living forever: you never needed to be in a hurry. Today, tomorrow, a hundred years from now—what did it matter?
            He stopped to admire a large stand of fruit. He had always liked fruit, especially melons; they were so colorful and juicy—the opposite of most of the surrounding land. Micah bent down to inhale the scent. It was strong; they were perfectly ripe. Even though he had no hunger for one, a ripe melon was still a pleasant scent.
            “You want to buy one?” the merchant asked.
            Micah smiled and stood up. “You don’t have anything I want to buy.”
            The man’s face instantly darkened. “What do you know, you Jew?”
            Micah waved at him dismissively. The man returned the gesture more insultingly. Micah wandered off, chuckling inwardly. Arguing with merchants was part of the enjoyment of the market, and if you couldn’t argue over the price, you had to find something else to argue about.
            Micah was surprised to find someone selling books, and he was instantly drawn to the stall.
            “Hey, Jew, I have lots of books. Lots of books for you.”
            “I see that,” Micah said absentmindedly, as he looked over the piles.
            “I have many languages. What do you read?”
            “Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic. My Persian is only so-so. And I can read a little Greek.”
            “You read Frankish? Look at this,” he said, shoving a red leather book under Micah’s nose. “New.”
            Micah took the book from him and opened it. He recognized the Latin characters, but he couldn’t tell if the book was written in Latin or French or something else. Everything that wasn’t a Hebrew- or Arabic-style script got lumped into the category of “Frankish,” regardless of what language it actually was. Micah spoke passable French, so he tried sounding out the letters to see if any of the words sounded familiar.
            “Excusez-moi,” someone said behind him, tapping him gently on the shoulder.
            Micah turned around and was instantly surprised; the man behind him was Canichmeh. He didn’t know why he hadn’t noticed his scent sooner, especially as it was no one he recognized.
            He quickly glanced the man over. He was tall, and dressed in a foreign style, not unlike the Frankish pilgrims that came to the city in a steady trickle. He wore his yellow leggings quite tight, and his blue woolen shirt was fairly fitted—especially at the waist—then flared into a skirt that barely reached his upper thighs. It all looked rather uncomfortable and hot to Micah. It was also rather dirty and travel-worn, as if the man had just arrived in the city.
            Micah looked up and was startled by the man’s eyes, instantly thinking he must be blind. The next moment he banished the thought; no Canichmeh was blind. The man’s eyes had to naturally be a very light gray. His hair was black—darker than even Micah’s—and his skin was quite pale, even for a Canichmeh. Compared to everyone else around him, he almost looked translucent. He also looked very tired. 
            “You are… Canichmeh?” the man asked hesitantly in French.
            “Yes,” Micah replied, thinking it ought to be obvious by his scent. But maybe the man was being polite.
            “Is… is today Rosh Hashanah?”
            “It is tonight.”
            The man looked immensely relieved and muttered something to himself that Micah didn’t understand. Then he smiled a little. “I was différé in Venezia because of bad weather, and I lost trace of my days. I was afraid I was too late. I’ve been riding hard to get here on time.”
            Micah didn’t understand everything he said, but he didn’t have to know much; traveling was always a risky, uncertain business, and sailing the Mediterranean was even worse. If the man was only delayed due to bad weather, that was something to be thankful for; it wasn’t uncommon for entire shiploads of people to go down en route.
            “You are here on time,” Micah reassured him. “Our meeting is tonight.”
            “Where’s a good place to stay? Something honest and clean.”
            “Oh, no, you will stay with us.” Micah pointed back the way he had come. “Go to the end of this street. There is… water there,” he said, trying to indicate a cistern with his hands. The man nodded his understanding. “Turn left and go… there is a second street; go to that. The building is on the right. That is where the meeting is. The door is red.”
            The man nodded, then smiled a little. “Thank you.”
            “You’re welcome.” The man started to leave, but Micah caught his sleeve. “Hey, can you read this?” he asked, holding up the book.
            The man didn’t even look at what was printed in the book; he just shook his head sadly. “No.”
            “Ah, well,” Micah said, turning back to the book stand. “What’s this supposed to be about, anyways?” he asked the merchant.
            “I think it’s about Christianity. Some new heresy. I got a good deal from my Venetian seller; they were trying to get rid of them before the Church burned them.”
            Micah shook his head. He couldn’t imagine anyone burning books; even though there were many more available now, thanks to the new printing press, they were still too precious to waste.
            He glanced at the book again. “Heresy is always interesting… but I don’t think I know enough about Christianity to know what is and isn’t a heresy.”
            The man shrugged. “What’s to know? It’s not the true faith.”
            Micah thought that rather applied to more than just Christianity, but he didn’t dare say so; he rather liked having his head attached to his body.
            He put the book down. “What else do you have?”
            “I have some books in Greek. This is a new printing of Homer,” he said, offering a book in brown leather. “Are you familiar with the story of Troy?”

            The meeting room was nearly full when Micah and Isaac walked in. The tables were arranged in a horseshoe-shape, with the Council members sitting along one side of the tables at the head of the room. Below the horseshoe arrangement were some additional tables where the Yaechahre sat.
            The local Yaechahre always came to the Convening, and many people from the surrounding areas also came, but not many Yaechahre from outside the Holy Land came. Depending on their starting point, it could take up to six months to reach the Holy Land, and even with a Canichmeh escort, travel was still dangerous. But, nonetheless, some Yaechahre braved the hazards—namely to arrange marriages.
            Yaechahre groups were usually small, and it was a delicate matter to get outsiders married in—and sometimes, depending on the political or religious climate, impossible. Due to a lack of new blood, it only took a couple of generations before everyone in any given group was too interrelated to marry. Groups in neighboring cities cross-married, but that typically only lasted a few generations, then both groups were too interrelated to marry. That’s when someone would end up going to the Convening to find mates for the young people in their group.
            Micah glanced around, and noticed his friend, Azir, sitting at the first table, next to the high table. Micah made a beeline towards him.
            “You’re late,” Azir said with a smile. He gestured for Micah and Isaac to sit on the bench next to him.
            “They haven’t started yet, have they?” Micah asked.
            “No.”
            “Then we’re not late.”
            Azir laughed. Isaac leaned around Micah to look at him. “That we’re here a moment early is thanks to me, of course.”
            “Of course,” Azir agreed with a knowing smile.
            Joshua rose and greeted everyone, welcoming them to the Convening. Joshua had been the local Eruj for several centuries, but this was his first year as Erujtah. The previous Erujtah had announced his resignation at the previous year’s Convening and Joshua had been elected shortly thereafter. Micah liked Joshua quite well, and thought he would be a good Erujtah, but everyone else seemed to be reserving judgment. How he handled the Convening would be very telling.
            Joshua asked anyone who had not been to a Convening before to come forward and introduce himself. Micah noticed the light-eyed man he had encountered earlier tentatively came forward. He looked rested, and he had cleaned up and changed clothes, but it was clear from the unpatterned fabric and lack of embellishment he was not a rich man.
            Micah and the others in Jerusalem tended to wear the best clothing they were allowed, by law, to buy and wear. In fact, the long tunic Micah was wearing was his very best. It was a very dark blue and heavily embroidered in geometric patterns of gold, silver and red. They had all been accused, at one point or another, of dressing above their station—Micah was especially bad about wearing white, which was usually forbidden to Jews—but they were generally only harassed by new rulers; the ones who had been in the city for a while heard rumors of the ones who never aged, and they generally left them alone.
Even though the stranger wasn’t human, Micah could tell he was nervous and a little unsure of himself. He suddenly felt a pang of guilt that he hadn’t been more hospitable before; he should have escorted the man there himself instead of just giving him directions. It wasn’t like he was busy with some pressing matter. 
            “What is your name?” Joshua asked politely in Cainite, when the stranger remained silent.
            “Anselm,” he replied. He didn’t offer anything else.
            “And where are you from?” Joshua pressed.
            Anselm looked confused. “I….” He hesitated.
            “Where are you from?” Joshua repeated a little more slowly, carefully enunciating his words.
            The man shook his head.
            Joshua looked a little taken aback by Anselm’s refusal to answer the question, but apparently decided to let it go. “Who is your sire?” he asked, changing questions.
            “John. Father, he was. Dead.”
            The entire room was silent, staring. “What?” Nasim—a member of the Low Council—asked, looking at Anselm in confusion.
            “John, my sire and father he was. He was dead. Is dead,” Anselm corrected himself.
            “How old are you?” Nasim pressed, looking shocked.
            “O-old?”
            “How many years have you been one of us?”
            “Oh….” He looked flustered. “I… not know. Deux cent soixante,” he said, giving up and speaking in French.
            “You’re two hundred and sixty years old, and can’t speak Cainite?” Nasim asked with shocked amazement. He glanced at the others on the Council. “Can we even recognize him as an adult if he can’t speak?”
            “I speak,” Anselm said, looking embarrassed.
            “Our Yaechahre speak better,” Nasim replied derisively.
            Tears of shame and anger welled up in Anselm’s eyes; his hands clenched in fists. “Where I learn?” he accused in Cainite. “I know no one but my father. He is dead many years. I have no one. Where I learn?”
            “Did you learn anything at all,” Nasim needled, “or do you drink animal blood like a savage? Êtes-vous un sauvage?” he asked contemptuously.
            “Nasim,” Joshua snapped, glaring at him.
            Anselm stood a little taller, gave Nasim a look of utmost loathing, then turned on his heel and strode towards the door.
            Micah extracted himself from his bench, hurrying to catch up with Anselm; he and Joshua converged on him at the same time, just before he went out the door.
            “Don’t leave,” Joshua pleaded in French.
            “My father always wanted to come here,” Anselm replied; Micah could see him trying to blink away tears, “but he died before we could raise the money. When I had the money, I came for him. But I’m glad he’s not here; I’m glad he died before he could come here and be insulted. I see now why we lived alone; our people are horrible.”
            He turned to leave, but Micah and Joshua both grabbed for him. “Wait,” Micah said. “Nasim is….” He glanced at Joshua. “What’s a good word for him in Frankish?” he asked.
            “I’d say Nasim’s the lame offspring of a diseased donkey,” Joshua replied in French.
            Anselm blinked, then a smile tried to creep on his face.
            “I’m sorry you’ve been insulted,” Joshua added. “Nasim’s behavior is disgraceful; we treat guests—and our people—better than this.”
            “We are not like him,” Micah interjected.   
            “Come,” Joshua said. “There’s much more to our meeting than this, and many people better than Nasim here. Don’t judge us all on his actions. Come,” he said, gently tugging on Anselm’s sleeve.
            Anselm hesitated, looking unsure. Micah knew if he walked out, he would never come back. Franks were easily insulted—or, rather, once insulted, their hearts were hardened and that was that. They didn’t engage in angry name-calling and back and forth arguments until a compromise was hammered out; they just washed their hands of the matter. Or attacked. Warfare always seemed an appropriate course of action to them.
            “Micah,” Joshua said in a low, pleading voice.
            Micah took Anselm by the arm. “Come, sit with me. I can tell you everything. But do not laugh at my French; I do not speak well.”
            “You speak very well,” Anselm said sincerely. It made Micah feel even more ashamed of Nasim’s words.
            Finally Anselm let Micah drag him to his table. Azir and Isaac scooted over to make room for him.
            Joshua returned to the head table and turned to address the assembly. “We will be conducting our business….”
            “We haven’t finished with him,” Nasim interrupted, pointing to Anselm.
            “Why, is there some insult you’ve failed to deliver, Nasim?” Joshua said, looking at him witheringly.
            “He needs to recite his ancestry.”
            “For the love of God, Nasim! We haven’t required anyone do that in centuries.”
            “But it’s still law that they do.”
            “Why are you so bent on insulting and embarrassing this man?”
            “I’m not embarrassing him; he’s an embarrassment in and of himself.”
            Joshua frowned severely. “There’s only one embarrassment here, and it’s not Anselm.”
            Nasim’s eyes narrowed. “What are you implying?”
            “I think you know exactly what I’m implying.”
            “I’ll have you know I’ve been on this Council two hundred and thirty-one years. You haven’t been here a year.”
            Joshua drew himself up to his full height. “And I’ll have you know that I’m the Erujtah. I don’t care how long you’ve been here; I am master of this Council. Me, not you.”
            Nasim stood up angrily, and started to walk away.
            “Where are you going?” Joshua demanded.
            Nasim wheeled around. “I will not be insulted by an upstart like you, Y’hoshua Cohen.”
            “I’m an upstart?” Joshua replied, clearly affronted. “Your ancestors were tending goats in the middle of nowhere while my family was here, tending the altar of God. I fought the Romans for this city before your great-great-grandparents were even born, and I have the scars to prove it. I’ve held the group here together through war and persecution and plague for four hundred years. I’ve killed for our people and our Yaechahre, and I’ve nearly died for them as well. But I’m beneath you? I’d like to hear your list of credentials, if they’re so much more impressive than mine.”
            Nasim turned and stomped towards the door. He jerked it open, but paused when Joshua’s words rang out through the silent room. “This Council is still in session. If you walk out, I will bring a vote of no confidence against you.”
            Nasim glanced over his shoulder, glaring hatefully at Joshua, then he walked out, slamming the door shut behind him.
            The room was utterly still; every breath was held for a long moment. “How juvenile,” Naomi said, finally breaking the silence.
            Joshua glanced at her. “Me or him, my dear?” he asked, a hint of a smile on his lips.
            She chuckled. “Him. And maybe you, just a little.”
            Joshua returned to his seat. “There will only be one master of this Council, and until a two-thirds’ majority votes to remove me, that master is me.” He glanced at the others around him. “Does anyone want to raise a vote of no confidence against me?”
            There was only silence. “Very well,” Joshua pressed on, “then I would like to take this opportunity to raise a vote of no-confidence in Nasim.”
            There was a moment of stunned silence. “Are… are you serious?” one of the members of the Low Council asked.
            “I am. I do not issue idle threats. Nasim has obligations to this Council, and one of those obligations is to be present when we are convened—especially at the yearly Convening.
            “Furthermore, his actions before this assembly have been unconscionable. He publically and purposefully belittled Anselm—which none of us should do to one another, but we of the Council must hold ourselves to an even higher standard. We are the governing body of our people, and we represent everyone. Anselm himself said we were horrible people—and why shouldn’t he think that? Nasim degraded us all in his eyes. If we don’t have the respect of our people, we have nothing.”
            He picked up a round stone—a little larger than his hand—and banged on the table with it. “There is a vote before this Council. Each may cast his or her vote, and the reason behind it, if desired.”
            Every member voted in accordance with his or her rank—beginning with the members of the Low Council. Although some people voted to keep Nasim, none of them offered any words in his defense. Joshua was the last to vote. “I vote ‘no-confidence.’ That brings the vote to eight in favor of removing Nasim, six for him remaining, and one abstention. The motion carries,” he said,  pounding the table with his stone again. “The clan of Accad will replace Nasim according to law. Are there any here, now, who are of that clan?”
            Two men stood up. Joshua looked at them. “One of you needs to take Nasim’s place until someone can be elected to replace him.”
            One man bowed politely. “I will defer to my father,” he said, gesturing to the other man.
            Joshua gestured to him. “Come up and join the Council.” The man looked thunderstruck by the request, but dutifully joined the others at the high table, taking Nasim’s place.
            “Now that unpleasantness is over,” Joshua said, “maybe I can continue where I left off.” He stood up once again, and addressed the crowd. “We will be conducting our business….”
            Micah could hardly explain everything to Anselm in a hushed whisper without being overcome by a fit of giggles. Joshua was going to make a very good Erujtah.

Mother Tongue

I’ve recently been studying some Hebrew, and I’m rather fascinated by all the hidden (Kabbalistic) meanings behind letters and words. But the more I learn Hebrew, the more I find myself surprised at how much my vampire’s language—which I completely made up, without any prior knowledge of Hebrew or language theory—resembles Hebrew.

The language I have written for my vampires is not very extensive, but it is a functioning language. It has grammar and syntax, etc. It’s major claim to fame, however, is the fact that it’s root-word driven. When I was thinking about creating a language—and having to keep up with all the words—I thought, “I’ll make some root words and then just modify them to make more words.” That seemed like the simplest way to create a language.

There are three different types of words in Cainite. There are root words, which can’t be broken down into anything smaller. There are enhanced root words, which are root words with a letter or letters added to it which alters its meaning somewhat, but not completely. And there are compound words, which are made up of two or more root words.

So, in the first book, you have a line of Cainite:

Mehah yaechahre de yaemeh nashomehi, namehyaechare.

Meh is a root word which means soul or person. Ah is a suffix which indicates a plural (like s in English). So Mehah is souls.

Yaechahre is a compound word. Ahre is a verb which means to have. As with the Romance languages, you can alter the verb itself to indicate who it is acting upon. In Cainite, pronouns are always added as a prefix to a verb. Yaech is actually a compound prefix. Ya is the pronoun prefix for you. Ech is the pronoun prefix for me. Put them together and you have you and I or we. Yaechahre means we have. But the ahre verb can also indicate possession/ownership, so this word can also mean ours. When capitalized, it specifically refers to the vampires’ human servants.

De is a root word meaning for.

Yameh is a root word plus prefix. Although the prefix ya means you, it cannot stand alone; it has to be attached to a verb or noun. So, in order to make a pronoun, it’s attached to the word for person, but it still just means you.

Nashomehi is a compound verb. Om can mean either food or human (not surprising that they’re interchangeable words to vampires). Omeh is compounded from Om and meh (note, there are no double letters in words except when certain prefixes or suffixes are added), and literally means food of the soul—which, for vampires, is blood. Many nouns, however, can have the letter i added as a suffix, and then it becomes a verb. What’s the verb form of blood? Bleed or bleeding. Na is the masculine prefix he and ash is the feminine prefix she; together nash (remember to drop double letters) means they. So the word means they bleed.

Namehyaechare is a compound noun. Again, meh means soul or people and na is a masculine prefix. Nameh is therefore either the pronoun he or just the word for man. Yaechahre, in this case, means ours. So compounded together, you have our man. This is translated into English as kinsman.

So, we translate this directly into English:

Mehah yaechahre de yaemeh nashomehi, namehyaechare.

Souls ours for you they bleed, kinsman.

Cainite, like the Romance languages, puts noun modifying words after the noun. So instead of red house in English, you would word it house red in Cainite (or in Spanish, casa roja).

Why doesn’t mehah yaechahre become compounded into one big word like namehyaechare? Well, it all depends on if it’s meant to be two words or one word. In the first case, you are talking about our souls—two separate words. Namehyaechare, however, isn’t talking about our man; it’s compounded because it’s meant to be something slightly different than two separate words; it’s meant to be kinsman. If you wanted to translate the English sentence, He’s our man!, into Cainite, however, you would separate nameh from yaechahre.

You see a similar thing happen with the word ashchoechahre. Ash, again, is the feminine prefix. Cho means flesh. Echahre is mine. So the word means my female flesh. But it’s not meant to be used as three separate words; it is specifically talking about one single thing. Translated into English, it becomes daughter, but with a specificity that English lacks that vampires need: it specifically means a biological daughter.

Incidentally, ashomehechahre is a daughter by blood—meaning the vampire offspring of another vampire. There are no equivalents of granddaughter/son in Cainite; there is only the word nichmeh, which means descendant. But, where a more distant relative is close to someone, he or she may affectionately refer to that person directly as a child or sibling. In the first book, Joshua calls Micah naomehechahre, meaning my son (by blood), even though Micah is actually his great-great-grandson.

So what does any of this gibberish have to do with Hebrew? Apparently Hebrew works in a very similar way, with root words (typically 3-4 consonants long) being constantly tweaked with prefixes and suffixes.

For instance, the Hebrew word for love is ahava. The root hav means to give, and ahav is I give—to love someone or something is to give to it. Ahuvi means my love or beloved. Ahuva is a girl’s name. There’s a whole range of suffixes which will make it she loves, they love, etc.

But one particular word in Hebrew really surprised me. In Cainite, eruj means the number one. It can also mean leader (when written as such, it is capitalized). Apparently the same thing is true in Hebrew, with the first letter, alef, also meaning the number one and general or leader.
As I study language itself, I’m finding myself more and more interested. I was never very good at Spanish (a lot of that has to do with the fact that I have a drawl in English; my spoken Spanish is painfully slow), but I’m finding the study of how words are constructed—i.e. root words—and how words are assumed into other languages (there are some Hebrew-based words in English which actually got there when they were taken up by Greek, and then were taken from Greek by Latin, then taken from Latin into English) quite fascinating. How much easier would Spanish have been for me if I had instead had a year of language theory, which covered the history and evolution of languages, and I had been taught to look for root words?

Camiseta – If you think about it, this word shares the same root as the English word camisole (which, unless I’m mistake, is a French word that we borrowed directly). It also has the same root as camouflage, which means to cover or conceal. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is Spanish for a t-shirt.

Pescado – This is related to a word we are more familiar with in English: Pisces.

A dedo? Why not call it, in English, a digit? (i.e. a finger)

Detrás de – This means “in back of” or “behind.” No doubt it is related to detriment, which means to worsen something in relation to its current position.

Cerca – This means near, and is obviously related to the English word (no doubt originally from Latin) circa, which means near or around (e.g. My ancestor was born circa 1830).

If you were taught how to look for root words, how much of the Romance languages would you be able to read, even without actually learning the language?

Let’s try some German, which also heavily influenced English.

Veranda – This word is used as-is in English to indicate the exact same thing: a porch on a house.

Mantel – The German word for coat. The exact same word is used in English to denote a cape or cloak. (Most commonly seen describing a medieval cape/cloak).

Kopfsalat – Lettuce. Remind you of our word, “salad?”

Paprika – Peppers.

Mehl – Flour, in English. Or, for people who are accustomed to breading their fish or chicken, perhaps you recognize the word as meal.

If anyone has any recommendations of books or websites that teach language theory or root words which span multiple languages, please list them in the comments; I’d love to study more.

Rejections

A few rejections are still trickling in from queries I sent out over a month ago.

Here’s an inspiring story, though, of a hobby inventor who, at age 84, finally got a company to pick up his invention.

I hope I’m not going to be 84 before I get published, though.

I am doing one last read-through of my book, checking the proof copy for any remaining typos and grammatical errors. My husband also insisted that I redo the gun part, because it didn’t think it was accurate. After that, though, I’m going directly to publishers.

But a part of me is thinking one last-ditch attempt with agents. I still have some I haven’t tried yet. But looking at my list of 27 rejections (or no responses), I’m feeling like throwing all caution to the wind and doing stuff with my query letter that, technically, you’re not supposed to do (I don’t think). When people ask me what my book is about, I have trouble coming up with a short answer, and I usually just resort to saying “Jewish vampires.” And people get immediately interested. I’ve had a number of people say, “I don’t care for vampires, but I think I’d try that.” And I don’t think I disappoint; a friend who says she doesn’t like vampires either broke down and read it and is now begging me to send her chapters of the second book in installments.

But my query letter does not come right out and say “Jewish vampires,” although I label Micah as Jewish (and, if you’re paying attention, you’ll know that he’s a vampire, so, obviously, he’s a Jewish vampire). But maybe that’s too sutble for the 60 seconds an agent spends reading a query letter.

So how’s this for attention-grabbing?

Vampires. They’ve been done to death, right? (And more than once, obviously.) But what if they were gun-toting Jewish vampires living in Tennessee?

Why are they in Tennessee? Because, during the War, they worked on the atomic bomb at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Then they decided Tennessee was a rather pleasant place, and they chose to stay.

Why are some of them Jewish? Because they were born that way.

Why are they toting guns? Because there’s a new type of vampire on the loose, seemingly intent on killing all of them and their human servants.

“Accepted” follows the small group of vampires and humans in Tennessee. Kalyn is a star student in her junior class, a cheerleader, and just sixteen when she takes her place as an adult among the vampires’ human servants. She is placed in the care and tutelage of Anselm—a man she has been crazy about most of her life. He is an 800-year-old vampire who is introverted, perfectionist, and rather fond of Monty Python. Under normal circumstances, the only excitement in his life comes from his adopted brother, Micah, who is his Odd Couple opposite: lighthearted, disorganized, and irreverently Jewish.

But when Anselm rescues one of the strange new vampires from being murdered by his own kind, he, Micah and Kalyn lose their perfect, quiet lives, and become their peoples’ sole defenders on the front line of an emerging war.

“Accepted”  is an urban fantasy novel of approximately 110,000 words.