This is Ran. I hope you had a happy holiday whatever you celebrated this past week. View our special holiday card here. It didn’t render in time to send it with last week’s newsletter.
The cast and our Scribe, Melinda, would like to take a moment to thank you for reading our books and newsletters and to wish you and your loved ones the best and brightest and most festive of New Years!
And now back to this week’s adventure in naming. This is Ran again. I’m writing to you from my Scribe’s phone this week because Thing and his creature family have taken over the PC to google stuff. What are they searching for?
Well, last week, I asked you for help naming his species, and Thing took that personally. In three anthologies, he and his family (which you’re meeting for the first time) are taking center stage, and they don’t have a species name. I’ve never had that problem, but I’m a fictional child from a fantasy world.
“You’re lucky,” a gruff voice said from the kitchen table where the magical PC sits. Thing was still sore about the whole ‘name that creature’ bit in our last newsletter.
“Well? What do you think about the names our wonderful readers sent in?” I asked from the safety of the chaise lounge. A purple-glowing hoop floated next to it, displaying my cave home and Papa. He lay on his stomach with his head pillowed on his arm. Papa was dead asleep, but his magic wasn’t. Some of it wound around me in shimmering green threads that tickled where they touched.
(Thank you to those who wrote in over the holidays. We really appreciate your help with the naming. Thing’s owl face doesn’t show gratitude well or any emotion other than frustration or anger. But that’s just his default face. We can’t all be smiling all the time.)
“What was the first one?” Thing hunched over the keyboard.
I scrolled through our shared inbox. “Tannie suggested ‘chimera.'”
Thing punched a few keys, and the screen redrew with a ghastly creature front and center. “Google says a chimera is ‘a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.’ I don’t have goat, lion or serpent parts, nor do I breath fire. Next name.”
“You’re also not female.” His mate, Amal, elbowed him on the side. Her yellow raptorial eyes glowed with amusement.
I scowled at her owl-monkey-cat mate. What a mouthful. Yeah, they needed a special name pronto. Preferably something short that showcased Thing’s contrary nature like ‘owl-cat.’ It had a nice ring to it. So what if he and his family had opposable thumbs? Wasn’t there a sword-fighting cartoon kitty with thumbs too?
“Exactly my point.” Thing inclined his head to his mate.
“You might not breathe fire, but you do read minds whether or not the owner of said mind wants you want to.”
“So what? I don’t do anything with what I read.”
“It’s still not right.” I refused to budge on that point.
Thing’s mate, Amal, swung up onto the chaise lounge next to me using her prehensile tail. Okay, maybe I was wrong about subtracting ‘monkey’ from their name because that was a how a monkey moves. I wondered why she hadn’t just flown across the room to the chair until I saw her wings. One of them was blackened and hanging limply.
She patted my arm. “You would read minds too if you had a family to protect.”
“Maybe,” I conceded the point. “What happened to your wing?”
“What’s the next name?” Thing gestured to the phone in my hands.
“Christy suggests two names, ‘Anamyphion’ and—”
Thing cut me off. “One at a time, this google can’t multitask.”
I glared at him. “That’s very rude. You shouldn’t interrupt people.”
Amal patted my arm again. Her hands were small since she was only about two feet tall but strong. Concern softened her hawkish face, but under her feathers and fur, she was as tough as her mate, maybe even tougher. “I like Anamphion.”
“You mean Anamy—”
Thing cut me off again. This time there was a devilish twinkle in his owlish eyes. He was doing that on purpose. The feathered meanie. “According to this Google person, the prefix ‘Ana’ means ‘up,’ ‘against,’ or ‘back’.” Thing inclined his head. He seemed to like that.
“‘Am’ means love in latin,” his mate added with a wink and a nudge that had me laughing.
How she could read the screen from eight feet away baffled me. But we might have a winner here, so I kept my mouth shut.
“But ‘Amy-‘ is a science-y word about something called a ‘saccharide,’ according to Google,” their son, Crispin added. He stood on a ladder-backed chair to see the screen.
“What about the ‘phion,’ part,” I asked.
“One second.” Thing typed that word in with his dexterous little fingers. “Google doesn’t say anything about it.”
“What do you think about ‘Anamyphion?'” I looked to the owl-monkey-cat creatures for an answer. Only three were here, and that was more than enough. The rest of Thing’s extended family was off doing something else, probably searching for its youngest member. Furball tended to get into a lot of trouble, like a certain fictional child you know and love.
“We’ll consider Anamphion.” Thing folded his furry arms over his feathered chest, ending the discussion. His eyes dared me to correct him.
“What about ‘pryonamalg,’ Christy’s other suggestion?” I had no idea if I’d pronounced that right.
“Spell that for me.” Crispin pulled the keyboard closer to him. He was more feline in the face than his parents, making him easier to read and cuddlier-looking. I spelled the name, and he punched it into Google. The screen redrew, and Crispin read the results aloud. “Okay, a ‘Prion’ is a small seabird that eats plankton. Eww. It’s also a kind of protein.”
“I like ‘Anamphion,’ but it’s kind of a long name. I was hoping for something shorter.” Thing swiped the mouse (not a real mouse, but the mouse used to control the movement of the cursor on the screen).
Amal nodded. “It’s musical, but you’re right. It is a bit long.”
“You mean Anamyphion,” I corrected them.
“I don’t think we need the ‘y.’ It just makes the word longer and harder to say.” Thing slammed his fist down on the table, and behind him the screen flickered. Uh-oh.
“Wait, we have a few more suggestions.” I scrolled to the next one as the screen continued to flicker. An eerie bluish light emanated from it that reminded me of the Newsletter-Dragon.
In a previous last newsletter adventure, she was swallowed up by a portal. But we don’t know where that portal let out. She could be anywhere, including inside our Scribe’s PC. Since the Newsletter-Dragon might still be mad at me, I reached through the portal to my cave home and patted Papa’s back. He didn’t wake, but his magic wrapped more tightly around me. At least it was awake and ready to protect me if that digital dragon came a-calling.
“Well? What’s the next suggestion?” Thing narrowed his eyes at me. Was he reading my mind? Thing winked at me.
Stop reading my mind. My mind is not a book, I thought really loudly at him, but Thing just parted his beak in a bird-like grin. Well, two could play at game. Carolyn had written in and given me the perfect weapon to use against him, a suggestion for what his name meant. I smiled. Thing had no idea what was coming, and I reveled in that.
Unless you’re Carolyn, you’ll have to wait until next week to find out what she wrote.
Thank you again to everyone who wrote in with suggestions. If this week’s adventure in naming sparked an idea for a species name, hit reply, and I’ll be happy to run it by Thing and his family.
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