WeWriWa—A Friend Is a Friend


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 81, “A Friend Is a Friend,” of my WIP, Journey Through a Dark Forest. It’s the second day of the brutal Battle of Saipan in mid-June 1944, and lifelong best friends Patya Siyanchuk and Rodya Duranichev are serving with the 2nd Regiment of the 6th Marines.

Patya has saved Rodya first from a Japanese soldier who stabbed his shoulder, then from three more soldiers on the horizon. As they were on their way back to headquarters so Rodya could see the medic, a rifle grenade finds its mark in Patya’s right arm. In spite of his injured shoulder, Rodya goes in pursuit of the enemies who almost killed his best friend. He’s already taken out the first two, but his rifle has jammed while he’s trying to shoot the third.


Ródya throws his rifle on the ground and advances towards the Japanese, grabbing the drawn bayonet with his left hand.  As he’s struggling backwards with the soldier, desperately pushing against the bayonet as it edges closer to his heart, he notices a pile of shell caps, sawdust, and strange vegetation.  With the waning strength in his right arm, he manages to push the soldier right onto the mine and jumps away as quickly as possible.  The resulting explosion brings about ten other Japanese out of the woodwork.  Positive these are his last moments on Earth, Ródya pulls the pin on a grenade and throws it at the pillbox with his left hand.  Then his shoulder pain overtakes him and he passes out.

The next thing Ródya is aware of, he’s lying in a bed in a brightly-lit room, with the vague sensation of rocking.  Two IVs have been placed in his right arm, and he feels no more pain.

A primer on Belarusian names

My large Zyuganov family is Belarusian, so it’s only fitting I continue my “A primer on __________ names” series with Belarusian names.


If you can read Russian, you can learn to read Belarusian very quickly. It’s even closer to the Russian alphabet than Ukrainian, though like Ukrainian, Belarusian also pronounces the Geh as an H. Also like Ukrainian, there’s a Geh with an upturn (Ґ) which is pronounced like a G. It’s only used for foreign words and names. Unlike Ukrainian or Russian, there’s no letter И (I), but only І і, a letter which disappeared from Russian in 1918. There’s no Shch letter as there is in Russian, and there’s a short U (Ў), which is unique to the Belarusian alphabet. It’s sort of similar to the Polish Ł sound (i.e., W). The combination letter сь is pronounced SH. The final letter, Я, is pronounced as Ya but may be transliterated as Ja. Penultimate letter Ю is likewise pronounced Yu but may be transliterated Ju.


Like Russians and Ukrainians, Belarusians too have patronymics. The ending -avich/-avna is used for names ending in consonants (e.g., Aleksandravna, Avturavich), and -yevich/-yevna is used for names ending in vowels (e.g., Syarheyevich, Dzmitriyevna). There are, again, a few names which take irregular patronymical forms, such as Foma (Fomich, Fomichna) and Pyatro (Pyatravna, Pyatravich). I honestly had to stumble onto the little information I could find. If you’re Belarusian, feel free to fill in more details or corrections!


The most common endings for Belarusian surnames are -vich, -ka, -enka, -ak, -enya, -onak, -yonak, -yuk, -chuk, -uk, and -ich. There are also a number of -skiy/-skaya names, and since there was such Russian domination over the region for so long, and proximity to Poland, it’s not unusual to find native Belarusians with surnames of Russian or Polish origin. Similarly, since the Belarusian language wasn’t really developed or widely used till the late 19th and early 20th century, it would be very common for older Belarusians, and Belarusians in bygone eras, to have had Russian or Polish forenames as well.

Common names and their nicknames:


Adarka, Odarka (Darka)
Adelyayda (Adela, Adusya) (Adelaide)
Ahata (Agatha)
Ahnesya (Agnes)
Aksana, Aksenya (Oksana)
Alena (Alinka)
Alyaksandra (Alesya)
Alzhbeta (Elizabeth)
Anastasiya, Nastassya (Nasta, Nastulya, Nastusya, Stasya)
Arkadzya (Arcadia)
Arshula (Ursula)
Bahumila (Bogumila)
Bahuslava (Bahusya) (Boguslava)
Chaslava (Cheslava)
Daminika (Dominique)
Darya, Darja (Darka)
Frantsishka (Franya) (Frances)
Habrusya (Gabriella)
Halina (Halusya)
Hanna (Hanka, Hanula, Hanusya)
Hela (Helka)
Iryna, Aryna (Irene)
Kalina, Kulina
Karalina (Karusya)
Katsyaryna (Kastusya, Kasya) (Katherine)
Khryshtsina (Khryshtsya) (Christina)
Klaŭdzya (Claudia)
Laŭra, Laŭrela
Lyubava (Lyuba) (Amy)
Lyutsyna (Lucina)
Magdusya (Magdalena)
Mahareta (Margaret)
Malanya (Malanka) (Melanie)
Maryya, Maryja, Marya, Marja (Mara, Marka, Maryla, Marysya)
Matruna (Matryona, Matrona)
Milalslava (Mila)
Miraslava (Mira)
Nadzeya (Nadezhda; Hope)
Natallya (Natala, Natalina)
Palaha (Pelagia)
Paraska (Priscilla)
Paŭla, Paŭlina (Paŭlinka)
Radzislava (Radusya)
Razala (Rosalie)
Ruzha (Rose)
Ruzhana (Rosanna)
Tadora (Theodora)
Taresya (Theresa)
Tatsyana (Tatyana)
Uladzislava (Uladzya) (Vladislava)
Ullyana (Juliana)
Valera (Valerie)
Valyantsina (Valentina)
Volha (Volya) (Olga)
Yanina (Yanya, Yanusya)
Yuliya (Yulya)
Yustyna (Yusta) (Justine)


Andrey (Andruk, Andryk, Andrush)
Anton (Antonik, Antosh, Antuk)
Arkadzey (Arkadz) (Arkadiy, Arcadius)
Bahdan (Bodgan)
Bahuslaŭ (Boguslav)
Barys (Boris)
Chaslaŭ (Cheslav)
Danila, Daniley, Danyl (Danik, Danilik, Danish, Danylko) (Daniel)
Dzmitry, Zmitser
Frantsishak (Francis)
Habrush (Gabriel)
Harasim (Gerasim)
Hleb (Gleb)
Hryharey (Gregory)
Ihar (Igor)
Ihnat (Ihnash) (Ignace)
Illya (Illyash, Ilka) (Elijah)
Ivan (Ivash)
Kazimir (Kazik)
Kryshtop, Khrystafor (Krystush) (Christopher)
Ksaver (Xavier)
Ladzimir (Ladzik, Ladush)
Lyavon (Lyavush)
Lyutsyyan, Lyutsyjan (Lucian)
Martsin (Marush, Maruk) (Martin)
Matviy (Matviyko) (Matthew)
Mikhalay, Mikhail, Mikhayla, Mikhal (Mikhalik) (Michael)
Mikita (Nikita)
Mikola (Nicholas)
Miron (Miruk, Mirush)
Mitrypan (Mitrofan)
Mstsislaŭ (Mstislav)
Pavel, Paval (Paŭlyuk, Paŭlush) (Paul)
Pilip, Pilipey (Philip)
Prakop, Prokip
Pyatro, Pyotra, Petruso (Petryk, Pyatruk, Pyatrush) (Peter)
Rastsislaŭ (Rodzka, Rostsik) (Rostislav)
Samul (Samush) (Samuel)
Savastsyan (Sebastian)
Savel (Savosh)
Slavamir (Slavik, Slavuk, Slavush, Stash)
Symon, Tsimon (Tsimosh)
Svyataslaŭ (Svyatoslav)
Syarhey (Serhush, Syarzhuk)
Tamash (Thomas)
Todar (Theodore)
Tsypryyan, Tsypryjan
Uladzimir (Uladzish, Ulas) (Vladimir)
Uladzislaŭ (Uladzish, Ulas) (Vladislav)
Valyantsin (Valentin)
Vasil, Bazyl (Vasilok, Vasilka)
Yakiv, Yakub (Yakush) (Jakob)
Yan (Yanik, Yanka, Yanuk, Yanush)
Yaramir (Yarash, Yarik, Yarosh, Yarush)
Yaraslaŭ, Jaraslaŭ
Yazep (Joseph)
Yullyan (Yulish) (Julian)
Yury, Yuray, Yurey (Yurash, Yurka)
Zasim (Zosim)

What’s Up Wednesday


What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly hop/meme with four simple headings. Anyone can write a post and add the link to Jaime’s blog or Erin’s blog.

What I’m Reading

Still reading Charles Pellegrino’s The Last Train from Hiroshima. It really is amazing how survival worked out, how some people right in the hypocentre walked away without a scratch (though sometimes still got radiation poisoning), based just on where they were in a building. There were a number of shock cocoons where the pika (flash) bounced off or went around, like stairwells. Others were shielded from the pika by a wall or window covered in white paper. It’s such a macabre blessing how some survivors experienced vision correction and remission of cancer and tuberculosis, because of their exposure to those deadly atoms.

What I’m Writing

Still in the thick of edits and revisions for my first Russian historical, with ideas for how to fix some of the remaining trouble spots in the earliest chapters during the coming next round. Thankfully, I’m finally over that long middle hump in Part I, and am now well into Part II. It’a amazing how much crap I found to cut out, particularly pointless, cluttery chat; rambling, oversharing dialogue; and meaningless short scenes.

It may very well be that, in spite of all the hard work I’ve done with editing, revising, and rewriting over the last three years (plus all the times I went back and tinkered with the older material while I was writing the book), there may always be a few places which read awkwardly or a bit on the juvenile side. It’s not that these places are examples of bad writing so much as they’re examples of someone still developing as a writer. It’s the same reason Birth of a Nation is technically a great film, with cutting-edge film techniques and a gripping dramatic storyline. It doesn’t change or elevate the stomach-churning racism infiltrating every last nook and cranny.

I really think I’ll put a note in the beginning, explaining that I wrote the first draft between ages 13-21, and thus to consider the source of any remnants of that less developed writing style. The majority of this book was written when I was a mere teenager, with Part II written in my very early twenties. The new material and significant rewrites of my adult years will never outnumber the material produced in my youth.

What Works for Me

Writing and editing dialogue is a skill I’ve had to come by the hard way. In particular, I often cringe when editing the dialogue in my older books. Not only was I still developing as a writer, but I’m also an Aspie. These people don’t speak like normal people would, but that’s because I genuinely didn’t know any better. That was how I really thought, the way I might write a journal entry or a letter at that age. I also didn’t get out much with other people. Always consider if your characters are speaking like normal people, or if that’s more how someone might express oneself in writing. Avoid meaningless cluttery chat which just fills up space, rehashes established information or backstory, or which is guilty of rambling, awkward oversharing.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

I made some awesome vegan macaroni and cheese, after the whole brouhaha with insane food snobs gnashing their teeth about Annie’s Homegrown joining General Mills. It made me realise I haven’t had macaroni and cheese in some time. I used this recipe, using coconut milk and Smart Balance flaxseed butter, leaving out the garlic powder. (Warning: Source website is heavily into food woo and propagates ridiculous anti-GMO propaganda.)


Seriously, the butthurt food snobs ranting and raving about Annie’s moving to a corporation which uses GMOs are perfect examples of whiny, overprivileged First Worlders. They actually went onto Annie’s Facebook wall and posted pictures of their Annie’s products on fire, or posted about how they’re throwing away or burning the food. God forbid you give that good food to a food bank, mission, battered women’s shelter, any place where people would be so thankful for any food offered. When you don’t have much money, you don’t give a damn if food has GMOs (which BTW are safe, contrary to the emotional, unscientific propaganda), gluten (barring legit Celiac or wheat allergies), organic ingredients, etc.

Wasting good food has always been tantamount to sin for me, after growing up without a lot of money and having grandparents who lived through the Great Depression. Absolutely repugnant that some people put ideology before helping the needy.

Good bands, fast popularity, teenybopper marketing Part III (Herman’s Hermits)

Just to make it clear up front: I’m well aware of the fact that Herman’s Hermits were not a powerhouse band like The Who or The Rolling Stones, nor were they in the same league as other great British Invasion bands like The Hollies or The Small Faces. But I’ve loved them since 1993, when I was thirteen, and consider them a very solid, fun band with a poppier sound than the big boys. They’ve got a lot of underrated gems you might not expect if you only know them from their hits in radio rotation. (Not that the average oldies station even plays actual oldies anymore, but still.)

Herman’s Hermits were pimped to teenyboppers as innocent, safe, clean-cut boys next door, and their earlier songs went along with that image very well. They stayed true to the album formula of the time, mixing hit singles with filler, but their filler wasn’t bad or forgettable. Not really stand-out or ultra-memorable, but enjoyable for what it was. While they were a real band, with competent musicians and songwriters, many of their songs were written by other people (or were remakes), and they used session musicians more than a few times. However, they did perform live nicely, proving they were a real band. Not the most charismatic performers, but they did a good job and held their own. Their bassist, Karl Green, was a lefty. And even if they didn’t write all their own material, they had some awesome songwriters, like Graham Gouldman.

Their first four studio albums, Herman’s Hermits, Herman’s Hermits on Tour, Hold On!, and Both Sides of Herman’s Hermits, are solid pop albums, though not what I’d consider indispensable to a proper Sixties collection. I have them because I love this band, but I don’t think I’d particularly recommend them if you’re not already into the band. Again, they’re solid, fun albums, just not up there with the greatest bands of the British Invasion.

But then came the awesome albums There’s a Kind of Hush All Over the World and Blaze. You’d never suspect they were made by the same band, with such gems as “Jezebel,” “East West,” “Little Miss Sorrow, Child of Tomorrow,” “Museum,” “One Little Packet of Cigarettes,” and “Ace, King, Queen, Jack.” These albums aren’t the next Revolver or Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, but they show an admirable maturity and complexity which proves they were more than teenypop.

After this, they released one more album, Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter, a soundtrack to a film of the same title. By this time, their popularity was starting to wane, as it was for many other British Invasion bands. The hits became fewer and farther between, and they couldn’t keep up with the type of music which became popular in the late Sixties. They sounded out of touch and uncool to the average person, the same reason many other once-popular bands (such as The Four Seasons) plummeted in popularity around this time.

I’m biased, given 21 years of fandom and counting, but I could see a case for them being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, after all the big players have been inducted. Of course, that would involve Jann Wenner taking the stick out and ceasing to be such a pompous, élitist ass trying to dictate which music is cool and uncool, based on his opinions and value judgments from decades ago. They’re a fun, solid band that gradually matured past their image, even if I’d never classify them in the same league as my loves The Who, The Beatles, or The Hollies in terms of awesome British Invasion bands.

Their hit singles are solid, classic Sixties pop, holding up very well. Hits like “Dandy,” “Listen People,” “No Milk Today,” “I’m into Something Good,” “A Must to Avoid,” “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am,” and “Wonderful World.” Some of their hits have rather deep lines, showing they were more than just shallow, juvenile pop. They didn’t do the same old “I love you, you love me” tripe that’s a dime a dozen in every generation.

Last but not least, I got the second part of my pen name from their song “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.” Credit where credit is due.

WeWriWa—A Friend Is a Friend


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 81, “A Friend Is a Friend,” of my WIP, Journey Through a Dark Forest. It’s the second day of the brutal Battle of Saipan in mid-June 1944, and lifelong best friends Patya Siyanchuk and Rodya Duranichev are serving with the 2nd Regiment of the 6th Marines.

Patya came to Rodya’s rescue after a Japanese stabbed him in the shoulder with a bayonet, and then saved him again when three more Japanese approached. They believe the coast is clear now, and are on their way back to rejoin their regiment. But on the way there, Patya is hit, and now Rodya is faced with the fight or flight instinct.


Ródya glances to his left and sees a rifle grenade has found its target about two inches below Pátya’s right elbow.  Most of his lower arm has instantly been rendered useless and withered, the hand frozen in the position it was at the time of impact.  Without checking to see if Pátya is alive or dead, Ródya tucks his rifle under his left arm and charges towards the retreating footsteps and laughing voices.  The adrenalin flowing through his body has completely taken away his shoulder pain.

As soon as he’s got the three Japanese in close range, Ródya maneuvers the rifle into position and pulls the trigger.  The first Japanese is caught unawares and doesn’t reach for any weapons in return, though the other two drop to the ground.  When the second starts to reload the rifle grenade, Ródya shoots again, aiming for his head.  As Ródya pulls the trigger to try to take out the third, the rifle jams, and the remaining soldier’s eyes gleam.


Patya loses his arm the same way the late Senator Daniel Inouye, one of my heroes, did. Although unlike Sen. Inouye, Patya wasn’t holding a grenade at the time (which he pried out of his withered right hand and threw left-handed), and he didn’t remain conscious and able to lead a charge against even more enemies.