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Solve puzzle, win fortune

In the mythical country of Borschland, newspapers carry a word puzzle that is as popular as a crossword puzzle in the United States. Try your hand at it!

Unscramble the sentence to make a grammatically correct Latin sentence. Translate the sentence accurately. The sentence may refer to an ancient story. If so, use your knowledge of the story to guide you to the correct translation.

Latin I: semper sub cum navem flumen terram navigabis trans spiritis

Latin II: Apollonis rapuerat bovibus rex nuntio de quae dixit deorum

Latin III and above: Gallis Romam arcis dicunt anseres collem servavisse ascendentibus poetae

Give your answer to one or more of the Jumbles in the comments. If you're the first one correct, you get a ticket in the upcoming Borschland National Sweepstakes with the chance to win a fortune in Borschic schillings (BS), redeemable as soon as your plane hits the ground in fabled Borschland.

BTW... If you don't know any Latin, putting the scrambled words in Google Translate might give you a fighting chance to figure it out, especially if you know a little mythology or history. But the scrambled nature of the puzzle means Google will be a bit misled.

Even better-- find someone online who knows Latin and ask him or her.

May the odds be ever with you, or, as we say in Borschland, Te Lot Zijn Soort!


A new Borschland short, with Latin

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.


Kid reads a lot, adult writes better

Berkeley.library.NorthBranch_06As a kid, I loved to read.

I got my first library card in the third grade, at the desk of a gorgeous old pile of bricks on the corner of Hopkins Street and The Alameda in Berkeley, California. It was an ivy-twined Spanish Revival building that looked like the setting for a novel about kids who get lost in a library that's bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside.

I got the card in 1970 and it said it would expire in 1972. Wow, my third-grade brain said. That seems like such a long way off.

I began to read what that library and my school library had to offer, and I will never forget the day I discovered baseball novels for kids.

Baseball has always been my favorite sport. Every game tells a story: who won, and how. And every baseball season tells a story. And every individual baseball player has a story.

Even just one at-bat tells a story.

And it turns out that in the 50's and 60's there was a minor industry of baseball novels for kids. I read as many as I could get my hands on. One of them, "The 1.000 Kid," told a story about a high-school ballplayer who had to make the choice between signing a contract to play minor league baseball or going to college. He manages to get a big-league team to give him a taste of the majors before he makes that decision. After a lot of adventure, he decides on college!

That was a twist ending for this aspiring major leaguer.

Duane Decker was my favorite author, and my favorite book was called "Rebel in Right Field." In this one, a talented young outfielder injures himself by running into the outfield wall trying to make a catch. As he recovers, he finds himself unable to play his normal game because of his fear of re-injuring himself at the wall. I was riveted by the hero's inner struggle to overcome his fear and become the player his talent promised he could be.

Reading for me led to writing, including baseball novels of my own, none of which I finished. "Skater in a Strange Land," which is about ice hockey, is the first sports-oriented novel I've ever completed.

Readers have been impressed with the realism or believability of the hockey in "Skater." "Where did you learn to describe hockey so well? Did you play?" And the answer is no, I never played ice hockey-- though I did play street hockey as a teenager.

I like to think that reading so many baseball novels as a kid trained me, along with all the other writerly skills I picked up along the way, to find the essence of the action in hockey and translate it into the written word.

I still want to write baseball novels, and maybe you'll see one come out one of these years. For now, the Borschland Hockey League is where it's at for me.

But thanks, Duane Decker, wherever you are. And thank you, public libraries everywhere.

Berkeley.library.north

Images found here and here.