Tag Archives: writers

What Happens in a Library When a Beloved Author Dies

  1. The first person to see it on the news uses the library’s internal communication system to send round a message.
  2. The person in each library who reads it spreads the message among their colleagues and everyone talks about the loss of a great human and writer.
  3. Their books are moved to prominent display areas, partly because people are about to come in and ask where they are, but mostly because they deserve to be read.
  4. Shelf checks start to come in from other libraries as readers request the books. We send them off as quickly as we can as we know the waiting lists will soon become vast.
  5. We read about their publishing history, so we can think about which to recommend to the readers who come in never having read that author before and asking where they should start.
  6. We know that this flurry of intense interest is temporary and that saddens us. But this mass-reading of their works seems to us the most perfect act of collective mourning.  They will be read; they will be remembered.

Pr

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The Obligatory Annual Cool Stuff to Get Book Lovers for Christmas Post!

I love online shopping. I went into some actual shops today and there was stuff everywhere, incessant Christmas music, and tinseled assistants trying to hard-sell me fripperies. I like to shop undisturbed with products lined up with a bit of white space between them. The fruit of my online searches is laid out before you. So get yourself a glass of something mulled while we cross our fingers and hope it all turns up in time.

What do you think of my selections? Comments below please!

You can actually buy a candle with old book smell. I suppose it looks slightly less deranged in company than sniffing old tomes.

Old Books

Fun for all the family and seasonally appropriate – it’s A Christmas Carol, the board game! Become your favourite character and roam the streets of Victorian London as you answer questions about Dickens’ classic novel. Make merry with Fezziwig, or settle your account with Scrooge—but beware of “Humbug!” spaces that could spoil your Christmas pleasure.

A Christmas Carol

There are many extraordinarily sharp T-shirts to be had from Human. I think these two are pretty fab.

Mad stacks yo

TimeAlso pleasing is this scarf, printed with words and illustrations from The Secret Garden.

secret

If having words on your T-shirt and round your neck isn’t quite enough, use a temporary tattoo to place them directly on your skin. Etsy has a fine selection. I would like this one please.

Everything was

Writers, you know all those brilliant ideas you have in the middle of the night when you’ve left your notebook in the next room? Well now you can scribble it directly onto this duvetbed

Even if you don’t drink, this book is worth having for the puns alone. Life will be complete when I can order ‘A Rum of One’s Own’ down my local.

Tequila

Next,  just what we’ve all been waiting for: some Ibsen-inspired swag.

Tote 2 ToteThis is literally a nice mug.

GrammarWrap it all in this, whether it’s a book or not.

book

What do you think of my list? What do you want for Christmas? Comments below please!

Have a look at previous years’ recommendations here.

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‘Must Of’ or ‘Must’ve’?

In general, I’m not the sort of person who corrects people unbidden, but every time I see a message with must of in it my pedant urges twitch, and I have to stop myself typing a Google-style “Did you mean must’ve?”

DowntonMust of is an incorrect way of saying must’ve or must have. The contraction is pronounced like must of, presumably causing the confusion.

It is extremely rare that must of will make sense together in a sentence e.g. ‘They must of course consider what is proper’. Commas would sort that right out, though.

They must’ve been scandalized when she married the chauffeur.

You must’ve mistaken a footman for a valet. How embarrassing.

I think you must’ve watched too much Downton.

Have you seen this happening? Comments and shares much appreciated!

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‘Advice’ or ‘Advise’?

IMAG0343

Look at the image. There’s something wrong with it beyond the poor camera-phone picture quality and the excessive air-brushing. It’s there in the bottom right corner. It’s easily done. The verb and the noun have been confused.

Advice is what they meant. It is the noun meaning guidance or recommendations for future action. In this case, guidance on hair-based life choices. Think ‘my advice on ice’ to remember spelling and pronunciation.

Advise is the verb, meaning to recommend or inform.  This is pronounced more like ‘-ize’.

For example, my conversation with them will go something like this:

‘If I advise you on proper spelling, will you give me free hair advice?’

‘No.’

‘OK, thanks, bye!’

Any questions or comments? Put them below please!

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The Best Valentine’s Cards for Writers

I was looking for one that said, ‘looking into your eyes is like getting a five star Amazon review that’s not from a relation’, but alas, these were the best I could do. They were all discovered on the craft wonderland that is Etsy. Click on any image to open the gallery.

 

What do you make of my choices? Could you write a better one? Please leave a comment below.

See my favourite Valentine’s gifts for book lovers here. If you’re not in the Valentine mood, read my post about magnificent single people in literature here.

If this has brought you any joy whatsoever, please like and share.

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Sibilance

Sibilance is the recurrence of a hissing ‘s’ sound which can be effective in prose and poetry. It is sometimes referred to as sigmatism after the Greek letter sigma. Sibilance, as with all types of alliteration, draws emphasis where it is used. Note all the ‘s’ sounds in this extract from John Masefield’s Sea Fever:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,

In this case, the sibilance gives a sense of flow, reflecting the movement of waves in the sea. It makes it very pleasing to read aloud – give it a try!

Shushing LibrarianSibilance is used commonly to draw people’s attention or admonish them (sssshhh!). Therefore, we know that it is an intense sound and can thus add this intensity to a piece of writing. A good example of this can be found in Bram Stoker’s Dracula: ‘The smell of sweetest victory swirled in his nostrils, overpowering the stale smell of battered bodies that lay underfoot.’ Here it also helps to highlight the contrast of the ‘stale’ and ‘sweet’ smells, using this phonological pattern to encourage the reader to associate the two descriptions.

Can you think of any other good examples of sibilance? Tell me in the comments!

Please do like and share if this has been an edifying read. Thank you!

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J K Rowling is not the first…

The Cuckoo's CallingIt has come out this week that J. K. Rowling has published The Cuckoo’s Calling as Robert Galbraith and found it ‘liberating’. Many other authors have released books under different names for various reasons. Here are a few we know about – many more remain a mystery!

Nora Roberts was a successful romance novelist who wanted to try her hand at the detective genre. Her publishers thought people would struggle with the transition, so she published her detective novels as J. D. Robb Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin, famously author of the Rebus detective series, apparently has books out under another name. Although he’s been cagey about his nom de plume, we know that he used to write pulpy airport thrillers to make ends meet!

Stephen King’s early novels were published under the name Richard Bachman. I have found various explanations for this, from his publishers believing that one novel a year was quite enough to King wanting to know if the success of his books was a result of talent or luck. And he would’ve got away with it, if it weren’t for a pesky bookseller who noticed a similarity in writing styles and began to investigate.

Louisa May Alcott - perhaps rereading one of her saucier offerings.

Louisa May Alcott – perhaps rereading one of her saucier offerings.

Louisa May Alcott, acclaimed writer of Little Women, funded herself by writing racy dark fiction under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard.

Other female authors avoided prejudice by initially publishing  under male pseudonyms before coming out as the writers of their successful works. The Brontës were the Bells, and George Eliot came out as Mary Anne Evans after the success of her first book. Can you think of any others?

Have you got one or multiple pseudonyms? How did you choose them? I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments. 

If you’ve enjoyed this please do like and share! Thank you!

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Homonyms

A homonym is a word that is identical to another word either in sound or spelling, but differs from it in meaning. It comes from the Greek homos meaning ‘same’. Homonyms can be divided into two sub-types: homophones (from the Greek ‘same’ and phone, ‘sound’) and homograph (‘same’ and graphe,‘writing’).

These are homonyms that are also homographs; they are spelt the same but pronounced differently:

Capsule - Homonym

Capsule – Homonym

  • ‘The bandage was wound around the wound.’
  • ‘The farm was used to produce produce.’

These homonyms are also homophones; they are spelt differently but pronounced the same:

  • ‘I will die if you dye that pink.’
  • ‘Can you see that ewe by the yew?’
  • ‘That boat shop has got a sail sale on.’

Homophones can often be the root cause of common spelling errors: your and you’re, for example. They are also the basis of many glorious puns and jokes. Here are a few courtesy of my favourite joke book (Tim Vine, you are a genius!):

  • The other day I sent my girlfriend a huge pile of snow. I rang her and said, ‘did you get my drift?’
  • My dog always misinterprets things I say. I say ‘heel’ and he goes down the hospital and does what he can.
  • So I went to the cinema and saw a very sad film. The guy behind me started wailing. I got hit in the back of the head with a harpoon.
  • She said ‘I’m going to dig a hole in the ground and fill it with water.’ I thought, she means well.

Test your understanding by telling me which of the above jokes are based on homophones and which are homographs. Answers in the comments please!

Homophones

Tell me your favourite homonym-based joke in the comments!

If you’ve found this useful – please do like and share!

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‘It’s’ or ‘Its’?

These two are commonly confused. Here are the rules:

‘It’s’ is short for ‘it is’ or ‘it has’.

Darth

‘It’s been a long time coming.’

‘It’s not you, it’s me.’

‘It’s a massive hot air balloon shaped like Darth Vader’s head.’

‘It’s rather intimidating.’

‘Its’ is used as the possessive: when something belongs to the ‘it’ in question.

s-BAD-IRON-MAN-COSTUME-large‘The jury has reached its decision: the guy in all the sellotape is not the real Iron Man.’ 

‘The dog chased its tail.’

‘Its colour was unexpected.’

‘The group changed its name.’

 

Could you put ‘it is’ in the sentence instead? Then use ‘it’s’. Could you put ‘him’/’her’ in the sentence? Use ‘Its’.

I’d love to hear from you if you have a good way of remembering this, any questions or good examples!

 

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Writer’s Block

A guest post by the fantastic author, C.H. Aalberry

My best ideas never seem to make it down onto paper. I walk home with my head full of pictures and witty dialogues, but as soon as I sit down to capture them, they evaporate. Getting ideas onto paper is hard, and that blank sheet can be intimidating. There may be rare times when words pour out faster than you can get them down, but what about the times when you sit in front of your computer and can’t think of what to do next? 

Don’t misunderestimate your own potential: if George can make it to the Whitehouse, you can write a novel.

Don’t misunderestimate your own potential: if George can make it to the White House, you can write a novel.

Writer’s block. It affects all writers eventually, particularly during first drafts. Writing is an act of creation that is easily derailed. So, what can be done to solve this dilemma? Here are eight tips I use when I get stuck:

1)      Start somewhere, start anywhere. Write what comes easiest. It doesn’t have to be the next chapter or even the next paragraph in the story, because as long as you are writing you are making progress. If you have any ideas floating around that you know you want to include, nail them down and put them in order later. I write a few key chapters first, which gives me some idea of where the story is going. Maybe start with a description of a character or a place: it may not be included in the final product, but it could start you off.

 2)      Don’t panic if it’s not perfect. You write a few lines. They are rubbish. You want to give up. Don’t. The point of a first draft is that you are creating the raw material for your second draft, so don’t worry if it seems rough.

I bet that even the Bard had poor writing days, and he turned out OK.

I bet that even the Bard had poor writing days, and he turned out OK.

3)      Change the scene. Try writing at your local library or cafe. A change of location can nudge you into action. Load everything onto an online drop box and you can carry on from wherever you are in the world (except for North Korea).

4)      Talk it out. I find talking about my work out loud helps me work out a direction and a few key phrases to get me started. No one to talk to? No worries! Talk aloud to yourself- all the creative types does it (note: best avoid mixing this step with step 3).

 5)      Put some pressure on. Tell your pal or your partner or your parrot that you will have five hundred words written by the end of the day… it’s an incentive to get started because if you don’t that parrot will judge you forever. 

Parrots: beautiful, but surprisingly judgemental.

Parrots: beautiful, but surprisingly judgemental

 6)      Take some pressure off. Go for a walk. It may not help your writing, but at least you’ll be getting some exercise. Also, inspiration is more likely to strike when you are relaxed, so get out there and smell the roses.

7)      Still struggling? Get inspired. If you are spending hours in front of your computer but not producing anything then it’s time for a break! Think of it as sharpening the axe. Go to an art gallery. Look at pictures of wildlife on the internet. Learn a little something about the world. Read a short story or two (shameless plug: ‘The Origami Dragon And Other Tales’ is full of short stories guaranteed* to inspire you). Sometimes all it takes is a change of mood.

8)      Persist! Persistence is a key ingredient to writing, so keep calm and keep writing. After all, slow progress is still progress.

I hope that helps. If you have any ideas about beating writer’s block, post them in the comments, I would love to see them. Finally, remember that writer’s block is normal, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you love!

*I lie; there are no guarantees when it comes to inspiration. But the book does contain a story about tiny elephants.

C. H. Aalberry is the author of the fantasy novel ‘Wish’ and ‘The Origami Dragon And Other Tales’, a collection of short stories. 

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