Kary English wins the grand prize for a short story for "Poseidon's Eyes".

Take a look at Kary's other SF shorts:

Flight of the Kikayon and Totaled


Event Manager needed

IN May, Narrative Path is launching.

Narrative Path is the result of many months of research, study and learning, that results from a conversation I had with one of my wonderful authors. The question he asked was: how can densewords editing be made available to more authors. The problem is twofold: time and cost.

Even story development on a typical novel takes two 90 minute chats and up to ten hours additional time spent analysing and providing advice, help and answers to questions. A full literary edit takes 10 to 20 days.

Development consultation costs anything from $250 upwards and a literary edit on a full length novel anything from $1500 upwards.

But I'm convinced that a lot of what I can teach can be presented in a way that reaches a lot more people. It certainly can't be the same level of personalized help and support that I provide to my writers. But much of what I provide them can be organized in other ways.

Narrative Path is the result of this.

Narrative Path centers around a series of online courses, the first of which is specifically designed to help a new writer through their first book. In addition, there is access to additional resources, such as my edited writer's guide, a book about dealing with the kind of problems that commonly arise during the act of writing a novel. Writers will be able to access more content, such as webinars, lectures and hotseats, exercises and direct access to my development and editing advice, via a continuity program.

All the resources provided through Narrative Path are derived from my core goals: to reach more writers, and to teach writers by teaching writing, not by teaching critical analysis.

In parallel with Narrative Path, I plan to set up some local events. At this time, I haven't yet got a fully realized idea of the form that the events will take. I can envisage anything from panels at conventions, through weekend lectures, weeklong hothouse courses or two week exclusive writers' retreats - and anything else I haven't thought of. I want to do this on both sides of the Atlantic; all parts of North America, and in Europe any suitable venue should be considered.

In setting up Narrative Path, I have a business partner who is dealing with all the stuff that I have no knowledge or time to do - marketing, sales, technical, logistical, etc, in return for a substantial share in the profit. This arrangement also results in my learning a great deal about better communication and presentation of ideas, because we work very closely together on developing the courses and support materials.

For the events, ideally, I would like to do the same. So I'm looking for someone experienced in small-scale event management and promotion, for what is likely to be a long term partnership. I will bring the subject matter expertise, and they will bring the events, promotional and logistical expertise. Just as I like to edit all kinds of books, my events partner need not be specialized in literary, artistic, creative or academic events; if anything, I like working with people from outside my usual milieu as it produces a more creative partnership. Initially I'd like to organize four events for the upcoming months, at least two of which should be in North America.

But I will want to develop ideas for the form, frequency and presentation of these events with my events partner, so at the moment, everything is open to ideas and suggestions.

So if you are interested in this opportunity, or know anyone who you think might be, let me know.

If you want to know more, contact me via this page from my website.


Weird words: Why an escrow isn't an escroc

Working as I occasionally do as a translator of contractual and other legalese documents, I occasionally come across the English word escrow.

It is a noun, defined by my dictionary  as:

a bond, deed, or other document kept in the custody of a third party and taking effect only when a specified condition has been fulfilled.

However this term has a tendency to terrify the French, because there is a French word, escrow which is defined by my dictionary (translated from the French, bien entendu):

person who commits, or is in the habit of committing, confidence tricks or petty fraud.

As I'm sure you can imagine, my French customers hardly want their legal arrangements in any way associated with petty fraud or cons.

So how did two words that are pronounced the same, and written almost the same come to have such widely different meanings?

My French and Italian etymological dictionaries blame eachother, but I tend to go along with the Italian dictionary's assertion that "escroc" is French in origin - but as these thing do, it may well have gone both ways, between the nominal and verbal forms in each language escroc, scrocco, and escroquerie, scroccare respectively.

Either way, the number one suspect is the French word croc, in Old French a hook, in modern French a fang. The prefix e-, es- would therefore suggest 'unhooking' - which suggest a cutpurse or pockpocket, however it may also suggest coin clipping, or some other form of skimming or graft.

As to escrow, my preferred source for English etymology is of course Doug Harper. He has this to say:

1590s, from Anglo-French escrowe, from Old French escroe "scrap, small piece, rag, tatter, single parchment," from a Germanic source akin to Old High German scrot "a scrap, shred, a piece cut off" (see shred (n.)). Originally a deed delivered to a third person until a future condition is satisfied, which led to sense of "deposit held in trust or security" (1888).

It is also probably worth speculating that there may be a connexion with crotte which is closely related to the OHG scrot and which means an animal dropping or other small blob of organic waste.

Either way, how does the taking away or unhooking of a small scrap or fragment, become the setting aside with a trusted third party a deed or sum of money?

With the sources I have available, there is only some very thin speculation, but here is what I think is most plausible:

There is anecdotal evidence, and evidence in historical archives, of documents, in particular title deeds and bills of sale, that have either been cut in half, or have been stamped, and the stamped part cut through, leaving part of the stamp or seal on the two pieces.

Going out on an even thinner limb - maybe at one time, property that was in dispute was literally placed on a hook until ownership was settled?

And another - practically the tip of a leaf, is encrouer which means to attach, hang up or hang a person from a hook, as a means of detaining a condemned prisoner (the meaning is shared with the Italian word incrocare), which suggests a general meaning of 'setting something aside' - but which brings us back to the unwanted criminal associations.

Sometimes you just can't know. Suffice to say that in modern English an escrow is not merely a good guy, but someone universally trusted, while in modern French an escroc might not be a thoroughly bad person, but certainly should not be trusted!