When people find out that I am a Latin teacher as well as an author, they usually react in one of two ways:
a) "You mean they still teach Latin? Amazing!"
b) "My Latin teacher gave it to me in the neck."
Fortunately, my own Latin teacher never gave it to me in the neck, which is why I stuck with it, and why I try in the classroom to make Latin as fun as a dead language can be.
And it is also why Latin has now officially leaked into my fiction.
My new short story, "The Sweepstakes Winner," probably contains more Latin than 99.9 percent of all short stories ever published. But it is an integral part of the story, about a young man equally intent on winning the lottery as he is on marrying a woman "above his station."
Gerd Trubelz wants to become rich, and his best chance, he feels, is by playing the Borschland National Sweepstakes (BONAS for short). That game is a conventional numbers-picking lottery, with one twist: if you can solve a Latin translation puzzle correctly, you can pick a bonus number.
Why Latin? Well, why not?
Actually, Latin is required of all Borschic schoolchildren, and the Latin puzzle has become a way of getting a bit of fun out of their studies. It sure beats corporal punishment. The puzzle has in fact become about as popular as crossword puzzles here in the US.
The puzzle is a jumble: a Latin sentence that must be un-scrambled and translated correctly. For all you Latin geeks out there, I include an easy one below:
terram sub trans semper navigabis flumen navem
The sentences of the Borschland jumble often refer to Borschic wisdom and/or the lives of Borschic saints. The sentence in "Sweepstakes Winner" is no exception. The sentence I give above refers to a character in Greek mythology.
if you like such things, I will be posting a Latin Jumble regularly on Twitter on my writing and publishing co-op's page (@truenorthwrite).
If you know the answer to this one, feel free to comment. Unscramble the sentence and name the character in Greek mythology to which the sentence refers.
And if you do happen to purchase the story, let me know how you liked it. It is on Smashwords to start, elsewhere as I have the time and inclination.
Good luck with the Jumble, and remember the Latin motto of my writers and publishers co-op: scribere quam scribere videri: to write instead of just seeming to write.