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Welcome. Whether you read, write, or both, you'll find something here. Free reads, book reviews, writing contest details and links, and much about the writing process. By all means comment; I'm always interested in the views of readers and writers. Follow the blog and connect with me on social networks; the more, the merrier.
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Writing and Running for ME/CFS #9

P writing blue
P writing blue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is it really only 9 weeks since I started this?

Writing:
The book is progressing. I managed to preserve all the dates of the diary entries ( a long job, but necessary). And I have now started the selection process. This will be another longish job as I have over 200 pages of diary entries and each one has to be read to detect anything of relevance or value to the book. Still, we're getting there. Allowing my subconscious to work on possible covers at present, and toying with some title options. I'll put some of these out shortly, to see what you think of them.

Running:
In spite of the back injury (which is still niggling a little) I managed my programme of 3 runs this week. That's 2 at 10 minutes each and one at 20 minutes. To think it took me all my energy to walk 100 yards at the height of the ME/CFS, and here I am running again! It's fantastic, and I hope it gives some encouragement to all those who are still suffering with the condition. Hoping the back will allow me to do the 15 minute run I'm due tomorrow. See how I feel in the morning.

So, still on track, though the house move is definitely a bind. Be very glad when all is finalised and we're in the new home so I can concentrate on what really matters again.

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Power Thesaurus Reviewed.

As an occasional contributor to the Quora question site, I was sent a question today. It introduced me to a writing resource I hadn’t previously known. The Power Thesaurus is a crowdsourced tool for those seeking alternative words for their writing.

I generally use either my 1987 edition of the good old Roget’s Thesaurus, or the inbuilt thesaurus from Encyclopaedia Britannica online, to which I belong because I bought a print version of the books way back in 1994. Normally, I try to dig alternative words from my own disorganised vocabulary, which nestles chaotically entwined with numerous memories and wordy files within the otherwise inaccessible confines of my brain. But that organic resource has its limits and often refuses to cooperate when a search is made for le bon mot.

So, a tool of some sort is vital when it comes to the editing stage (I never bother to instigate a search for the right word whilst creating; it interrupts the flow). Roddy Doyle famously said, ‘Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed…or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort.’ And I can empathise with that injunction: things found without effort are generally undervalued. But sometimes the brain just fails to deliver, and it is then that help is needed.

The Power Thesaurus is a comprehensive tool. It usefully provides antonyms as well as the usual synonyms. It is grammatically and syntactically accurate for the most part, but accepts corrections, additions and amendments from the using community, so is subject to the inevitable errors such liberty allows. Users can vote up or down the suggested alternatives, ranking them according to personal taste. It provides vulgar and vernacular alternatives; a useful help when writing dialogue. For some words, it provides hundreds of alternatives spread over many pages: I tried ‘change’ and it came up with 1000 suggestions!


Of course, there will be those who fail to understand the real purpose of a thesaurus, who will select random suggested words in the expectation that their ‘enhanced’ sentences will thereby be more admired when, in fact, they will simply reveal the writers as twits with no real understanding of the language. But, used judiciously, this is a resource that will aid many writers and I recommend it to you.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Fusion: Digital SciFi Morphs into Print.

Fusion: this excellent collection of speculative fiction, first published in digital form, is now available in paperback with accompanying illustrations.

A collection of 25 stories of fantasy and science fiction from around the globe, each illustrated by digital artist Alice Taylor. This collection has been compiled from the winners of the Fantastic Books Publishing International Charity Short Story Competition 2012 and features 2 stories from our professional contributors Danuta Reah and Stuart Aken. 10% of the proceeds of this book will be donated to the WCRF (World Cancer Research Fund - Registered Charity Number - 1000739) who do sterling work in the field of global cancer prevention.

The cover has changed for the paperback edition, but the stories remain as fresh and individual as on the day I reviewed the book when it first came out. Click here for the review.

To purchase click the link below:


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice #11

Freshman college girls between classes. By sta...
Freshman college girls between classes. By standards of the time, they would have been considered very "dressed up." Memphis, Tennessee, 1973 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some words/phrases can induce fairly specific responses in readers. As writers, we all know this, but do we use the power of emotion in our work?

For these few weeks, I’m looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect. You won’t always agree with me, of course; you’re writers. But, hopefully, my suggestions will get the thought processes going.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that evoke a more emotional response. How you use them is obviously up to you. The point is that the alternatives have the same, or very similar, meanings, but their effect upon the reader can be markedly different. I’ve made some suggestions here, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Intellectual: Attractive
Emotional: Good Looking

‘Regardless of how attractive you find her, she is not considered suitable marriage material by your father, Brian.’

‘She’s a good looking girl, Bri. I can see why you’d want to be with her.’

Intellectual: Garment
Emotional: Dress, Skirt, Shirt

‘That garment is hardly suitable for the workplace, Miss Divine.’

‘Wow! That miniskirt really suits you, Di.’

Intellectual: Perceive
Emotional: See

‘I perceive a change in the manner of your relationship with that young woman.’


‘I can see you’re completely infatuated with that girl.’

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Writing and Running for ME/CFS #8

Washing machine- without front
Washing machine- without front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Writing: Well; could have been better. I’ve been continuing with the curating of the diary entries, as I need to have them copied to a single file, so I can highlight and extract the relevant sections. But, in their weird wisdom, Microsoft seem to think that a date in a document should automatically change to the date the document is edited. Why they think that, I can’t imagine. In fact, I’m finding it hard to think of any circumstances in which it would be helpful to have a pre-existing date automatically change to the current date in any document. No doubt someone will enlighten me.

The point is, that in copying the documents over to a single file, all the entry dates changed to the date of copying. Something I hadn’t noticed at the time. This meant, of course, that I had to start again. Fortunately, I still have the original documents! But how to preserve the dates of the diary entries?

I use a desktop iMac with MS Word, because I’m familiar with that word processor. It took a while to discover how I could ensure the dates didn’t alter. A blend of highlighting the date and then pressing a combination of the ‘fn’, ‘cmd’ and ‘f11’ keys. But, of course, this has to be done for every date and can’t be applied to the whole document! Now, there’s a really helpful user-friendly solution. Do you think programmers make these things deliberately obtuse so that we are all left in the dark to struggle, and therefore made to believe they are somehow clever? Surely, any programmer worth his salt (and I use the male pronoun advisedly) could devise a way of preserving all dates in a document with a couple of keystrokes?

Anyway, the outcome is that I am still in the process of amending all the dates in the diaries before I can even start the proper curating. Oh, good!

Running: This week I was supposed to do 2 sessions of 10 minute running followed by a session of 15 minute running today. I managed my Monday run with no problem. However…

At the moment, we’re in the process of moving house and the packing has begun. Last week, the seal on the washing machine decided to split so, as it’s insured, we had an engineer booked to fix it. The washing machine stands in a corner with a tumbler dryer atop. In order to get to the back of washing machine, so he could change the seal, I had to lift the tumbler dryer off the top of the washer. No problem: it’s bulky and awkward, but not particularly heavy.

Turns out I didn’t need to lift it off; the job could be done from the front! No matter. I’d done it. When the man left, I decided to replace the tumbler dryer. Mistake. My back went. I have a slight weakness, which manifests itself from time to time in severe pain for a couple of days after an event followed by a period of delicate necessity.


So, no running until next week!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice #10

The Transvaal War: General Sir George Colley a...
The Transvaal War: General Sir George Colley at the Battle of Majuba Mountain Just Before He Was Killed. See File:Melton Prior - Illustrated London News - The Transvaal War - General Sir George Colley at the Battle of Majuba Mountain Just Before He Was Killed original.jpg for attached article. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some words/phrases can induce fairly specific responses in readers. As writers, we all know this, but do we use the power of emotion in our work?

For these few weeks, I’m looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect. You won’t always agree with me, of course; you’re writers. But, hopefully, my suggestions will get the thought processes going.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that evoke a more emotional response. How you use them is obviously up to you. The point is that the alternatives have the same, or very similar, meanings, but their effect upon the reader can be markedly different. I’ve made some suggestions here, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Intellectual: Assault
Emotional: Beat Up

The General ordered an assault on the hilltop gun emplacement, even though it was so well defended that the mission was tantamount to suicide.

Even though the gang of extremists beat up their prisoner, he refused to give them the satisfaction of displaying pain or fear.

Intellectual: Combat
Emotional: Fight

‘This combat mission will advance the battle in the east, men, so I want you to give it your all.’

‘I’m not going to fight you, Jack. I’d lose and you’d be no wiser than you are now.’

Intellectual: Youthful
Emotional: Young

‘Many of the troops we send to the front are youthful and lack experience, making them easier to order into hopeless battle.’


‘Make ‘em young and I’ll give you a fighting force with the guts, passion and bravado that only comes from inexperience.’