Tuesday, November 27, 2007

book review: The Anasazi Series

Anasazi Series

I did the silliest of things with this series of books. Somewhere inside my fading brain I told myself that these three books were not a series but just happened to be set in similar times. I was half way between book three before I realised that there was obviously something to be read before embarking on this one. Do not take this as a statement on the quality of the stories. Do take this as my ability to be amazingly thick and completely stubborn. Having made that realisation, I then finished book three and went on to book two... have I mention thick-headedness yet?
Now that I have finished all three books [and have read the last book twice] I feel qualified to offer up my opinion to anyone interested in hearing it – one of my favourite things to do.
I loved all three books! Yes, there were a few things that stuck out, but I was prepared to lay them aside in favour of a good storyline and great characters. I do this a lot. For instance, I will watch anything that Brad Pitt’s in whether the movie is good or not [though Troy was hard to stomach at times, but hey, Brad took his shirt off so I was there!]. This probably doesn’t say a lot for me so I’ll get back to the Anasazi series.
I desperately want to go back to New Mexico now and I lay the blame for my increased wanderlust directly at the authors’ feet. The descriptions of past and present New Mexico are real, earthy, and mysterious. The archaeological scenes were interesting and did not go into info-dump land and the relationships – between characters, people and location, modern and past were all in-depth and very well-crafted. The unravelling complexity of the situations were mirrored and connected in such fine detail that they carry the reader through from start to finish. Minor characters have sufficient depth to carry their own weight in the story and the protagonists are sufficiently evil and twisted, and given enough thought that they do not come across as being entirely evil. After all, what appears as evil to one culture may be wisdom to another.
Storylines are also connected from one book to another with the occurrences in book one being the “backstory” for the final conflict in book three. Romantic tension between main characters comes to a satisfactory and not clichéd ending.
So, the things that stuck out – the characters from the past sounded too modern at times. I’m willing to believe that people from ancient times knew more about many things than modern humans often give them credit for. In most cases, with this story, the language allows for modern-seeming medical processes, assumptions and responses. Occasionally, however, it doesn’t and these instances, I at least, find jarring. But the story was too good to let those moments stop me from reading – don’t let them stop you either.
You can find out all about Kathleen and Michael Gear at their website and I encourage you to read their biographies and browse through their list of books. I’m sure that these two authors are as interesting as any characters they’ve dreamed up.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

book review: The Historian

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I picked up this novel in a sale and put it aside to read during a recent break from the real world. Waiting the few weeks between point-of-sale and point-of-reading was nearly painful, but worth the torture. I sat up in bed the first night of my retreat from life and dived right in. Not having read the back-cover blurb since the book store, I’d forgotten what the story was about and by the time I turned the lights off was thinking perhaps I should read it during daylight hours. If you’re at all squeamish about scary stories [like I am, in particular when there are no traffic sounds, it’s pitch black outside except for silver-misted trees, it’s breezy and branches are scratching on the window] you might want to take that into consideration. If not, have at it!

The first couple of chapters of The Historian were a little heavy going and at times confusing. I put this down to the fact that the narrator was a historian telling us a story about other historians and a lot of historic research. Don’t panic. This is all necessary and, just as it was worth the wait to read, it is also worth the effort to get through the necessary backstory. Especially as all the stories intertwine to make a great adventure and produce a gripping end.

I learnt a lot about history, researching facts and legends, and about Dracula, and was drawn right into a world where Dracula just might be, not only real, but still living. Yes, I know that there was an historic Dracula – Vlad the Impaler – but The Historian brought him right out of history and into the 21st century. I was scared, but riveted and, in a similar way after reading The Da Vinci Code, wanted to rush out and scour old bookstores, libraries, archives and museums.

I was also fascinated by Ms. Kostova’s description of regions and countries that I have rarely thought about, let alone visited, and I must say a heartfelt thanks for dragging me off to the combined nether regions of Europe and history.

Elizabeth Kostova is a wonderful storyteller and I was ready to believe most of what she showed me in The Historian. Being the cynic deep down inside though, I did find it hard to come to terms with such a young girl travelling the world in search of her father. I suspect it’s the “mother of teenagers” in me. Vlad was fully believable. That also could be the whole mother thing coming out.

I recommend obtaining a copy of The Historian, finding yourself a nice cosy corner and indulge in a few hours of adventurous historical fiction... no matter what time of day or night you prefer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

old beginnings and new research

I was going to title this post New Beginnings, but really, my current project is not new at all but a continuation of an old project.

With one novel just starting the rounds of publishers, I'm working on getting my next more finished than what it was. That is, it sat "finished" at 30,000 words. Not enough, but I couldn't think what else to do with it. Giving it a break of a year [or so] and having talked to the Creative Director at Varuna House, I've decided to get it back out, dive into some more research and get it really finished. I'm also thinking that I need a better title but that will come later.

So, the one doing the rounds is set in New Mexico/Colorado with forays into other areas [such as Ancient Mesopotamia... naturally] and is very much an adventure story with a hero-type, sidekicks and, of course, a quest that will save the world. There's also some magic thrown in, a murder or two and a good dose of hurt/comfort.

The novel I'm working on now is set only in New Mexico [what can I say, I really like New Mexico] but in two different timezones. Time/story 1 is around the time of the Desert Archaic or BasketMaker peoples and time/story 2 is in the late 1870s. Both stories deal with monsters of their time and the defeat of the monsters. There is a connection between the two stories, of course, but not a direct one.

I find that digging deep with research [which translates as lots and lots of reading - my favourite activity] helps me with a few aspects of writing. The first is that it puts me in the mood to write generally and specifically, and gives me new ideas and paths to consider. My reading is as widespread as I can make it from internet articles, museum & information centre pages [see my article on location research], blogposts and books [non-fiction and fiction]. I also listen to music and look at pictures. Doing these last two help with movement [of story and characters] and description. For instance, if I show a character is feeling the deep resonance of drums from inside out, I draw that from listening to drums myself and putting into words what I feel when I do.

Active research [such as listening/dancing to music] is an important tool for the writer and includes contacting other people for more information including direct experiences as well as detailed knowledge. Not everyone a writer contacts is going to be an "expert" in a specific field - that is, university professors etc. Of equal importance are the ordinary people with similar interests who like to talk about what they know, think and feel. A writer can learn a lot from casual conversation whether it be real life, via e-mail or through blog commenting and discussion boards.

I also try and find some short courses/seminars to attend that cover the area I'm researching. Not only are these a good source for professional information but the other people attending are great for the all-important casual conversation. I usually spend the "lecture" time scribbling down notes from the instructor as well as ideas and details I want to remember for my stories. I try to follow a similar pattern when I go to museums and art galleries and, as there's no instructor to listen to, ask questions of the curator or attendents.

Right now, I'm trying to find somewhere that I can experience Native American drumming live. That's not easy in Sydney, Australia but I'm sure I heard of someone running workshops in this area a few years ago. I'm also combing blogs and other websites looking for tidbits on BasketMaker culture [if you've got any you want to share, don't be shy and let me know]. My favourite blog to visit at the moment is Mark Hinton's Chaco Canyon site. He has some really great images of Chaco and other areas plus maps and an interesting [and easy to read] travelogue of his trips.

A great place to go for pictures is the Wild West Art Gallery right here in Sydney. It's great because it's only 10 minutes down the road from where I live and they have quite a good collection of prints including Bana, Terpning, Doolittle & McCarthy and books from Civil War topics to Native American, Cowboys & Trappers as well as beautiful art books. Drop in to their website - they import from America so whatever they have you can certainly obtain the same in the States.

My next novel is set a little closer to home so maybe I'll post my own "travelogue" of research and pictures... just as soon as I drag myself away from New Mexico that is.

[image: Chaco Canyon 2005]

Monday, October 15, 2007

Imaginative Journeys

or what I learned on the weekend...

1. Spring days are the best days

2. Little Athletics is hard work [for the parents that is, the kids have got it easy!]

3. Orchids are beautiful

4. Spending a few hours on a warm spring day is much more preferrable to attending to laundry needs

5. Having a coffee with your best bud is a predestined event that you shouldn't bother trying to fight.

Somewhere in that weekend I had a few profound moments that lifted a run-of-the-mill couple of days to pretty darn good days. I learned patience. At the Orchid Spectacular I went to on Sunday I restrained myself from buying every pretty flower I could find and purchased only one. If I manage to get that one to grow, flower and, hopefully, thrive, then next year I will buy another. I'm new to the whole orchid grower scene so it's baby steps for me.

I ran into my best bud at the local shopping mall mere seconds after thinking about her and wondering if she'd like to go get coffee in that afternoon. She couldn't, but invited me to go get coffee right away. I couldn't. However, in the afternoon, I was sitting at the cafe sipping coffee and who walked by? My best bud. She couldn't stay so we organised to meet up properly on Wednesday instead. That was this morning. There's something very satisfying about chatting with a friend in a cafe - away from home and work, relaxed, good atmosphere. Coffee always tastes better too!

How does all this contribute to my writing? On one level, not a lot. On a variety of others; through physical experience and activity, imagination, relaxing, going with the flow. These all help toward building character, story, background and plot. They also help clear the head, bring you out of any corners you may be stuck in, and if you do get that perfect spring day, share the realisation that life is great and can only get greater.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Oft Beaten Path 3

Back to this writer’s retreat. As of this exact point of writing time [late August 2007], I am nearing the end of day one.

At the exact moment in time after the above, I switched from writing this to working on my novel [that is why I’m here] so now I’m at the end of day 3. Sorry about that but let me fill you in.

I’ve had two sessions with the creative director who is a marvellously sincere gentlemen, a great reader, makes wonderful observations and comments on each and every work, and has an amazing memory.

In our first session he advised that I work on character development. This observation was not exactly a surprise because I’d been discussing something similar with my teenage daughter. However, he went in to what was missing from my characters in such a way that I was able to pinpoint where and when such development could be slipped into scenes. He like the rhythm and pace of the action scenes but said they needed to be balanced, and would be given further impact, if the reader could relate just a little more to the main character.

No prob. I spent the afternoon after that pinning up notes on my corkboard on who need work. There is something immensely satisfying about pinning notes up on a board I found. I felt like a real writer. Someone who was creating something, constructing a work that was a physical piece of art. Typing into a computer is just not the same thing.

Day 3 brought another session with the director. We discussed mostly similar themes. I read to him the developments I had made and he thought they worked well. Not overdone and adding just enough to connect to the reader.

The hours after that were even busier than previous as I read through page after page of manuscript with a red pen in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. It was a hard balancing act but I managed and came up with, what I think is quite a good scene involving one of my main female characters and the man she loves. I won’t go into details, but I do like it. I shall look at it again in the morning however, to make sure I haven’t gotten carried away with myself. You may be surprised to learn this, but that does happen quite a bit.

We have no sessions tomorrow so I will concentrate on the second half of my novel and see if I can’t get it finished (yet again) by the end of the week.

Now, let me tell you about some of the other things I’ve learned so far this week. Go and read those nine points I made above – just a quick skim through is fine.

From the lips of the creative director [with only a little twist or two from me] – they are all true!

How a writer is supposed to find a way through all this, I’m not sure. It does happen of course though to those of us who are yet unpublished (in the traditional sense), it remains a mystery. I find myself asking whether or not publishers and agents recall at any time that they have their work because there are people out there who actually write the stories they publish?

I know they do and that I am being cynical, but, hell (or heck, if you don’t like to curse), it sure doesn’t seem like it at times.

Then, of course, I recall that writers (like you and me) really are a dime a dozen. What a depressingly realistic thought.

I’m going to start the next chapter with a few tips on how us “newbie” writers might be able to help ourselves along. One of those tips includes going on a writer’s retreat!

Go make yourself a cuppa (or stock up on whatever is your preferred form of refreshment) while I prepare...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I miss the train...

Back when I used to commute 45 minutes each way to work by train, I read a lot. Or, if I'd had a big night, I dozed or put the minutes toward thinking. It was really easy to do. On the way to work, I knew to start paying attention to stops as soon as the train went underground. My stop was the second one into the subway. On the way home, no worries at all. My stop was at the end of the line immediately preceded by a long and gentle curve where the railway line slid out of built-up suburbia and in to parks and a sparkling bay dotted with boats.

Originally, I had to bustle down to the public wharf and catch the ferry to my home town - through the boat-sprinkled bay and across the more open stretch of water known as Port Hacking. As soon as I had enough money though, and a partner as it so happened, I moved to the end-of-the-line town and cut 1/2 an hour off my commute.

90 minutes a day is just enough time to think up some great plans for the WHOLE weekend, just enough to read a Larry & Stretch Western from start to finish, and more than enough time to flick through a newspaper or catch up on missed snack-times.

I really miss all that. Even Larry & Stretch.

Now, I have a 20-minute walk [depending on what music I'm plugged in to] or a 5-minute drive to my work place, and no time to read anything other than traffic lights. When I first embarked on this new routine, I thought it was great. Working so close to home has been super convenient on more than a dozen occasions. But as my children grew up, life became busier and reading/thinking time was slashed. I've become quite nostalgic for the good old days of rail commutes and enforced time alone.

If only reading while walking was easier to manage.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Oft Beaten Path - part 2

Remember how I said at the beginning that this story was originally intended to be part fictional? It occurred to me that the only really fictional part was my character, the hapless writer being run over by a tourist bus. I will endeavour to avoid such a tragedy and keep that event as fictional as possible.

In the meantime, let’s look at the crooked path a writer needs to travel before reaching their golden gate of paradise [that being the open and welcoming arms of enthusiastic agents and publishers].

I started writing fiction in late 1998. I was writing really bad poetry at the time. Not a lot [thank god] but enough to know that I loved to write. I started on a poem about a woman who was a messenger, of sorts, from the gods. Celtic history was a passion at the time so it had a lot to do with legends from Ireland. After a few A4 size pages of scribble it occurred to me that fiction might be a better option so I switched and started my first “novel”. I was hooked from that point on.

My first novel for publication [yeah, I’m still waiting for the publication bit], was started in late 99 and completed in very early 2000. Since that time, I’ve rewritten, deleted, added, polished, rewritten and rewritten. That novel is why I’m here in Katoomba. Either this retreat will lead to a publishing contract or I stick it in the bottom drawer of my desk and forget about it.

That’s not the only thing I’ve worked on in that time though. I’ve written another novel set in Sydney, a novella set in New Mexico and Colorado, a few short stories and two plays. All of these I have sent to agents and publishers with no luck.

And yet I keep going. I must be a true writer because I’m a bloody idiot who won’t give up on this whole writing journey!

Here’s a brief summary of what I’ve learned along the way.

1. There’s always another writing course you can take to improve your technical skills and knowledge

2. books on writing are prolific and expensive, tell you mostly the same thing and aren’t that helpful in the end

3. published novels are amazing in their variety, especially when it comes to good writing and bad. I’ve seen dozens of books that are complete drivel and yet they’re published and I’m not! Go figure.

4. Do not compare your work to published work. It will only make you feel depressed, frustrated or angry and all of these feelings are not particularly conducive to a great writing experience

5. Plenty of writers, advisor, editors and people who have an opinion on just about everything will tell you that you don’t really need an agent to reach a publisher. Great news! Agents are as hard to lure in as publishers

6. Many of the bigger publishing houses and those who think themselves big state on their websites that they will a) not accept unsolicited manuscripts b) will only work with literary agents

7. Publishers will tell you that they expect queries that grab their interest from the first sentence, are brief yet detailed, filled with marketable promises yet are original. Literary agents will tell you pretty much the same thing

8. Most publishers will not tell you whether you are being sent a form rejection letter because they are truly not interested in your novel or just because your query writing ability sucks

9. If you get a form letter that advises that your work does not fit in with the publisher’s line at this point in time, but, hey, good luck anyway, then they probably didn’t even read your query letter to start with

There’s heaps more but I don’t want to overwhelm you.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

David Airey - graphic design blog

I've been subscribed to David's blog for a few months now and it's one of the few I regularly check back on, save the email notices for new articles, search through for information and comment on.

David is an Irish graphic designer with a great website full of informative information [currently term of the month in my house] on a great variety of topics from advertising & marketing to design & art and music.

One of my favourite places to hang out!

So, the reason for this blog and recommendation is for all of the above plus, it's David's one year blogging anniversary and he has some great giveaways. Go check them out, and while you're there, don't forget his portfolio, articles and blog posts.

The Oft Beaten Path

Being the [mis] Adventures of a Struggling Author

This was going to start out as a short story. A quickie if you will, about an author – part auto-biographical, part fictionalised – who after years of writing and re-writing novels, novellas, short fiction, articles and the odd play or two [most of it unpublished], goes on a writing retreat to the mountains. From the moment she leaves her front door this writer is inspired to write and write and write. Unfortunately, for that author, I was going to kill her off on the very first day of her week-long retreat. Something to do with tourist buses, narrow winding roads and the best story she’s ever dreamt up.

On the first day of this writing retreat [my writing retreat, in fact] I felt, inspired yes, but also disjointed. A little bit like a phony. Actually, a lot like a phony. I’m dead certain that the tutor at this retreat is going to tell me my novel, which he has read the first chapter of several times, and by now has read the whole thing, is utter crap. Which would be a great pity, because I think the story is wonderful!

Interesting correlation between the fictional author and me on the inside. So, instead, I went for a walk up and down a few hills [one doesn’t come to the mountains for flat country-side after all], returned to my slightly disappointing room [more about that later], made myself a cuppa and had a lay down. My thinking was, at that point, that maybe I could lose the disjointed feeling if I had some semi-formal separation from busy real life to writing life and a nana-nap seemed like just the right action to take.

I lasted half an hour having spent the whole 25 minutes “writing” my feelings and five minutes worrying over whether I would be able to sleep later if I actually managed to fall asleep then. I promptly came up with some ideas, including the title for this piece and decided I should turn on my lap-top and physically write instead of just think.

Writer’s, well, I do anyway, come to terms with things in the form of stories. On the way to the mountains [Katoomba to be specific] I mentally started a memoir of sorts about the train ride I was undertaking – the old Victorian style houses I was passing, the people on the platforms, the book I was reading… I thought it quite a good story but dismissed it as not very market worthy unless I was famous [which I am emphatically not]. One day, perhaps, not today.

When I arrived at the retreat, an old art deco house that takes five writers at a time and has a great library, I mentally wrote a story about the disappointment I felt on being ushered to my room.

My room is at the end of the corridor. I like that. The writing part of my room is a separate room with a shared bathroom in between. I don’t like that. The other rooms have a writing “room” attached to the sleeping area. If I had one of those rooms I could sit at my laptop naked if I wanted to. Might be a bit chilly but I had the choice. I like the idea. However, my writing space is quite large and I do like that. It also over looks the courtyard on two sides. I like that too. My bedroom over looks the back yard and has a big tree that, in summer and with leaves on it, must look fantastic. My space covers two corners of the top floor, and if I didn’t have to share the bathroom would be perfect. I don’t like that my bedroom shares a wall with the bathroom and I dread to think that I’ll be laying in bed listening to people pissing and showering.

In the backyard, of which I have such a sunny aspect, is a studio room. I drip with jealousy of the writer who has that space. Should I come back at any time I shall specifically request the studio. I wonder if it has a private bathroom?

In the middle of all that mental complaining, my writer’s view notices that I may be aesthetically disappointed but that I’m on my second page and am moving on from that pretty darn quick.

After all, my desk is really large, not cluttered with the paraphenalia of a writing mum with three kids and someone will be supplying dinner at 7. I will eat, clean up my mess and then retire to my space to either write into the night or collapse in bed and get some sleep.

With that, I will depart from my first impressions of my first writer’s retreat and embark on phase two of this manuscript – second impressions, plans and how I got to be sitting in Katoomba at the end of winter while my family stays at home in Sydney.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Back Online

After being virtually rendered computerless by phone lines that wouldn't work, connections that wouldn't stay connected and a creakingly old computer, I am well on my way to being back in the world of the cyber-living.

My phone line is fixed and I'll soon be getting broadband.

My old pc has been retired and a sparkling new model adopted.

And I have a pile of articles to post to this blog.... just as soon as I get Word and all my other applications re-installed, which means finding the disks. Cue the shuddering fearful me - my little office is a shambles. I had to pull it apart to allow the phone guy access to my phone line and to replace my pc box. This only happened yesterday and I've been at work all day today. Still a mess in other words!

Hopefully I'll be in full action by the weekend.

Until then

cheers all

Friday, July 20, 2007

A little chat at the end of a long week....

I'm having a bit of a brain drain this week. Over the last couple of weeks I've had to fine tune a logo design, create a publicity flyer and research/develop a handbook for the local Little Athletics Club. At work, I've been creating and finetuning several flyers, webpages, and information packages for various events and arts programs. In between all that creating I've been researching local community arts for the community arts journal I edit, looking for inspiration for an editorial for said journal as well as scouring the countryside for public art.

It's been challenging and fun, but at the end of the week [like right now] I'm at a loss for something to actually write about. So, I'm just going to chat a bit about what else I'm up to.

In a few weeks I go off to a writer's retreat in the mountains to work on, and get lots of advice on, the novel I've been trying to offload onto agents and publishers for the last couple of years. This is my last expenditure of time on this particular piece of work. I will polish it off and do the round of publishers/agents and then I shall move on.

I have a novella which I've been considering posting here. However, it is not professionally edited so I'm still thinking about that one. What else does one do with completed novels that publishers aren't interested in?

The above two novels are set in the USA. One completely spec fic and the other more speculative thriller [if there is such a thing]. One modern-day, the other set in the second half of the 1800s.

My third novel is set in Australia, Sydney to be specific, cause that's where I live and it's much easier to write a story set on your home turf. I haven't submitted it to that many places yet. Mainly because I'm not sure it's quite ready, but can't decide and so it sits on my hard drive waiting. I gave a copy to a friend today. I'm not sure why I did that. Last time I shared, really all the times I've shared, the story either doesn't get read or I don't hear back whether or not they actually liked it. Frustrating! Anyway, I've done it and am keeping a lid on expectations.

That's it for the moment as I have a sport-filled weekend approaching - not to mention a trip to the bookstore with my eldest child for the final instalment of Harry Potter first thing in the morning.

Good wishes to you all

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I first heard this word a couple of years ago when I was talking to a colleague about Australian Aboriginal culture and philosophy. The word can be a bit of a tongue-twister (though perhaps that's just me) but the meaning behind it fascinated me. I also found out, after some research, that although I hadn't heard this particular term before, the concept was not new (to me) and is often the backbone behind most religions. It seems that, at times, our major religions and their followers have forgotten this fundamental tenet.

What it means, in a most basic sense, is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "pay it back". That is, if someone does you a service or gives you a gift - tangible or intangible, then that "giving" should be returned. It makes perfect sense and I try to follow this philosophy to my utmost.

You may find the thought rather simple. The best ones often are. But imagine if everyone paid back a kindness with a kindness, respect with respect, service with service, how much happier we would be as a whole society. Levels of bitterness would drop and caring would rise. Ignorance would recede and learning come forth. The world's population needs reciprocity. You, dear Reader, need it. I need it.

Here are a few quotes from various religions (and via Wikipedia) that express their philosophy of reciprocity.

 "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD." — Torah Leviticus 19:18
 "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." — Jesus (c. 5 B.C.E. - C.E. 32 ) in the Gospels, Matthew 7:12, Matthew 22:39, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:27
 "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." — Torah Leviticus 19:33-34
 "This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you." — Mahabharata (5:15:17) (c. 500 B.C.E.)
 "What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others." — Confucius (ca. 551 - 479 B.C.E.)
 "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man." — Hillel (ca. 50 B.C.E. - C.E. 10)
 "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." — Muhammad (c. C.E. 571 - 632), Hadith 13 of al-Nawawi's Forty Hadith.

I'm not sure I like the wording of all the above, but I'm not a big fan of dogma at any time. I came to my understanding of reciprocity without the benefit of religious learning as I'm sure many of us do. After all, it's so simple and I think it's simple because it's a human instinct - too often warped by ignorance and wrong-learning - but an instinct nevertheless. Perhaps I'm naïve - nothing wrong with a little bit of naivety.

Yes, there are varying interpretations of this concept, but let's not over-analyse it. That's a cop-out. If someone does something for you then you should do something for them. Not exactly the same thing, but something, even if it's as easy as a well-meant and sincere thank-you.


PS: If you're interested in performing some random acts of kindness then the Dare To Be An Angel website has lots of links for just this sort of thing.

PPS. The boomerang image is from the cover of a book entitled, Boomerang. For more information visit the Singapore Institute of Management.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I've already written an article on my dyslexic fingers. If you've read it, you may have thought I was joking. I've decided to write this entire article without editing any of it.

1. this will show you how bad my "condition" can be. I am a trained touch-typist capable of around 80 - 90 words per minute on a good day and used to be able to attain that level without a single eorror.

2. I hope to also show readers, especially beginner writers, that the good published work you read, you know the stuff you compare your own work to, starts in a fairly similar way to this article - in dire need of editing

now. You may be thinking that I'm not doing too bad so far. And okay, I haven't mucked anything major up, but I'm still warming up and a certain part of me is e… oops, I just edited out a word without thinking. As I was saying part of me is editing ias I go and it's very hard to stop it. For instance I tend to slow down when to think about what I want to say. That's good too, in every other article except this one. Also, Word keeps turning my - oops, did it again. I was going gto say little letter I's and then thought how immature, it should be lowercase i. Look at that, didn't do it.

Another thing you may notice is that I tend to ramble even more than usual. I find that in order to stop editing myself atuomatically I must attempt to free write. In other words sjust top thinking. It must be working notice the increase of typographical errors.

Critics might like to suggest that I just couldn't think of anything else to write about. They could be write I suppose but I have been thinking about this exericse of a couple of days now which suggests at least some forward planning on my part… I hope.

The point of this readers is that while you should read as much as you can on lots of topics, especially anything in your preferred writing genere, you really shouldn't be comparing your rought draft [no matter how many times you've rewritten it] to an already published piece. The difference between your work and ther published is, oc course, the services of an editor. At some time between when you've finished reading, I mean writing your great novel, and the time it gets put on the bookshelves and selling out over night t in order to make you a billionaire and household name, an editor has been employed. The editor [this was going to be one really long sentence but I just couldn't do it to you] picks up all the spelling mistakes, grammatical and punctuational errors and any other necessary fixer-uppers, and, well, fixes them so that you have a lovely polished work of art to present to your admising public.

Until the day you an actually afford a top-notch editor, you will need to do a bit of editing yourself. The better you get at this, the better your work will be. Do note one little detail though, sneaky little typos nearly always get in somewhere. If editing isn't your strong point, there a re plenty of books around on the subject. Read ca couple. Pay attention to what they say and take the time to read over your work. Use a ruler as aguide under each line, follow each word with a pen. Some people read th elines backward. I've tried this but only succeeded in making myself confused.

Make use of spellcheck but don't rely on them completely. After all, the y are computer progarms not reading humans and what makes sense to them will bmaboozle the rest of us. Bambaoozled yet? I'm actually a very good speller too. Where were we… ah, yes - also pay attention to cadence which will be altered quite quickly if the punctuationis in the wrong spot or missing entirely. Repetitions are a real story-stopper and anything that stops the flow of story is bad, bad, bad. If you say the same word more than twice in once sentence or even in one paragraph there had better be an excellent reason. If the word is unuusual and you say it in more than one chapter, tehre had also better be a good reason. And it's not just word repetition - phrases and terms used over and over bog good stories down.

Sentence length is another important point. Variable is best. Too many long sentences and thes tory gets boring. Too many short and the story gets lost and then boring. Paragarphs are best varied too. Readers can only take so much solid blocks of text at one time before their eyes get sore, eyelids droop and before htye know it they've closed the book and gone off for a nana-nap.

These a re just a few tips to get you started. The rest is up to you!

One little reminder, the article above has been deliberately left (mostly) unedited and while I would dearly love to tidy it up and cut a lot of it out, that would destroy the point of the exercise.

If you need drastic help tidying up your words, contact me at trish.anders@gmail.com with a description of your work and what sort of editing or critique you need. I'll get back to you with a quote post haste!

cheers - TrishA

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Apple Branch: a path to celtic ritual

I'm researching for a new novel and thought I'd share a few notes on the books I'm using. So, if you're interested in Celtic culture & history, this one's for you:

The Apple Branch: a path to celtic ritual
written by Alexei Kondratiev and published by The Collins Press, Ireland - 1998
ISBN: 1-898256-420X

This is a serious book for people really interested in bringing celtic ritual into their lives. It is not a new-age, self-help, "pop" publication.

The book starts off with a detailed and well-researched history of the Celts, including their movement around Europe, their evolving society and the flexible, family-oriented laws they lived by. Social connections were judged by who a person was related to rather than how much they owned or their position within the society. Family groups were often self-ruling, separated by fields from the other families in their tribe. This self-reliance encouraged strong individualism in the warrior class and was the opposite of the centralised "states" they would later fight against. Even if you're not that into Celtic ritual, the historical chapters alone are worth the read.

I am truly bothered about cultural borrowings: take the good bits, ignore the bad bits and don't bother to make a deep commitment to the culture you're borrowing from. I do not display Native American dreamcatchers on my walls or any other "borrowed" paraphenalia. It's not my culture, though I am deeply fascinated by it, and I have no intention of changing religions or lifestyles, so I won't use their symbols in my life. The writer of "The Apple Branch", seems to feel the same way.

He talks about the need to study language when involving oneself in another's culture because only through a knowledge of the language can one truly understand, appreciate and interpret the culture. Learning about celtic culture but not learning the language is like paying shallow lip-service to the depth and meaning of being celtic.

When it comes to ritual, "The Apple Branch" goes first into history and meaning, and then into procedure and words.

"Every activity of the Tribe involves, in the end an interaction with the Land." And this world view is interlaced with every ritual, step and song. The relationship with the Land is all important in Celtic culture. Each ritual is connected to a cycle - between Earth and Sun, the Moon, Events and the Tribe - and fits into the seasonal pattern of life. All outlined and explained to great affect.

The passages on the Druids were very informative and cut right through fable and myth to give the reader a realistic picture of their purpose within Celtic life.

If you are researching or studying this culture, or the history of the six modern-day Celtic nations (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Mann) then I recommend this book to help you along. It will be worth the search at your local library.

If you'd like to add "The Apple Branch" to your personal library, then Amazon currently have two copies available.

For more information on things Celtic and for articles written by Mr Kondratiev, stroll along to The Celtic League and The Celtic League, America. To find out more on Alexei Kondratieve, just enter his name into your favourite search engine and you will find entries from Wikipedia as well as several other websites.

Oh, and I found it quite helpful for my research purposes. The symbolism of the apple tree and the cycle of the moon, in particular.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

I wish...

that I had the time (and peace and quiet) to read every book on my "To Read" list

that I had the patience to sit down and teach myself to play a musical instrument

that I could know for sure that everything I am teaching my children is the right stuff to be teaching them

that I could put 100% effort into everything instead of divvying it all up

that wine didn't make me tipsy after the second glass

that I could understand what I'm doing at places like MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, StumbleUpon, etc instead of just muddling on through a bit at a time

that I could spend hours wandering around art galleries and museums, and not think about anything else apart from art and history

that I could write and read and write and read... and someone would pay me for that

that a literary agent or publisher would discover my work without my having to "pound the pavement" to get their attention

that I could paint, draw, knit, watch old movies, and read books, and still have time to write and have the family I aim to have

that I still sang and danced around the house the way I used to.

I wish...

We all have lots of wishes, for more time, for some recognition, for knowledge, but those wishes won't and cannot come true without some planning and effort on our part. We can through ourselves to the Universe as much as we like, but opening ourselves to possibility, planning how we can achieve our goals and working toward them one step at a time has much more chance at success than passively wishing on a star.

Lisa Gates, over at Design Your Writing Life, has some wonderful words to help set you on the right path, and you don't have to be a writer to benefit. What she has to share can be used for whichever path you're aiming for. Go and take a look. It's worth it.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Editing your work

When I wrote this piece, I was aiming it at high school students. However, the information can help anyone whether they're still at school, at university or (like me) are well and truly out of the education system.

Remember, that if you'd like to borrow any of my articles for your own web-site or simply to pass along to a friend, take my bio as well. My name and the url to Beginnings, Middles, Ends is fine. If you want more, grab a full bio from my profile.
cheers all

Editing your work.

You've done the research. You have pages full of writing. The next step is to edit all your words into a manageable, easy to read work that not only covers all the requirements of the assignment, it leaves the teacher smiling.

You'll need two things: highlighter pens in different colours and the ability to be ruthless.

1. Print your work out and then read through the whole piece.

2. Read through it again, but this time highlight the points that directly relate to the assignment question.

3. Read again and, with a different colour pen, highlight the paragraphs that support your answers or arguments. Hopefully, this will include an introduction and conclusion, but don't worry too much if it doesn't. You can add them in later.

4. Go back to your computer, open up your workfile and click "save as". Change the name of the file slightly by calling it "edit1" or "draft1" - whatever works for you really - but keep the original title in the new name.

5. In your newly named copy, delete all the sections that are not highlighted on your print out.

6. Start again with your new streamlined piece and this time, correct any clunky sentances, repetitions, overly passive statements, weak sentance beginnings, etc

7. Make sure your arguments are strong.

8. Polish off the intro and conclusion, or write them now if they didn't survive the first cut. Your intro should answer the questions and show how you plan to support your answers. The conclusions should show how you answered and supported your answers.

9. Print it out and read through again. Highlight anything that still needs adjusting.

10. With any luck this is your final draft. Make adjustments according to your last brush with the highlighters. Read it. Yes, again! Make sure it says what the teacher wants it to say. If it does and you're happy with it, add your name to the top, print it out and take it to the teacher.

You're done!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Writing in temperatures...

If you're in the southern hemisphere of planet Earth, I hope you enjoyed a reasonably happy winter solstice and Yule. For those north of the equator, greetings on the recent summer solstice is in order. Hope the warm weather is treating you well. If you're not on the planet earth, thanks for reading and I hope the weather's great wherever you are.

As I alternate typing with keeping my fingers warm by wrapping them around a hot cup of tea, I contemplate the difference that weather, and temperature, make to writing. Specifically, the ideas created for articles.

Does a writer whose fingers are shaking in time to their chattering teeth, prefer to tackle warm weather topics? Perhaps they might wander off to sunnier climes, at least in their imagination anyway. Does the pounding of wind on the windows effect or affect the writer's mood enough to shape the words that flow from the keyboard?

I find that when it's cold [like right now if you're in Sydney, Australia] I tend to let my mind hover on deserts and tropical islands. Sweaty, high temperature days seem much more appealing in the middle of winter than they are when you're sweltering through them. In summer, if I can bear to be at my computer at all, I write about flash floods and snow storms and can bring them to mind clear enough that I almost shiver. Almost! Summer in Sydney is a bit hard to shiver through.

That's in fiction. Articles seem to be a different matter. I guess that would be because the goals are different, outlines are more specific. And quite possibly, at least for me, because I'm writing from a list of ideas that has been developed over a period of time. This time covering all seasons and the ideas covering experiences and knowledge that I've gathered along the way.

Getting my fingers to move properly and hit the right keys is another story.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

3. Non-fiction

Third and final part of Being a Writer

Articles, books, essays, letter-writing [presumably] may be your interest. That's great! Start with articles and develop a list of things that interest you and/or that you know a lot about. Stop right there if you're thinking you know nothing! My first article idea list ever garnered me over 30 possible projects from childcare and women's health to travel and writing. Mridu Khullar's website has some good articles on article writing. A simple web search will find you hundreds of helpful articles, tips and ebooks. As a starting point for a relaxed and friendly writing style, edit everything you produce for mistakes and ensure your facts are facts not fiction. If you would like to publish there are plenty of free article directories on the web. You don't get paid but you do have the pleasure of seeing your name and work in "print" so to speak and you can track your articles to see where they end up.

All writing requires some level of research. Non-fiction books especially. Readers expect to be reading the truth backed up with reliable resources. You will need things like bibliographies, expert's quotes, possibly some images, diagrams and tables. Don't be put off, non-fiction writing is just as creative as fiction and equally satisfying for the writer. Read up on things like developing outlines that will help you plan your work and how to research and keep records. You don't want to lose any scrap of information in the process through sloppy files or note-taking.

You don't have to be an "expert" to write non-fiction, but be prepared to have become one by the time you are finished. Good research skills and dedication will get you most of the way there. Good writing will carry you through the rest.

It doesn't really matter whether you're published and earning money from writing, whether you blog or keep a journal, write letters or that no one other than you reads your work. If at the end of the day, writing makes you happy in some way and you do it regardless of other outside outcomes, then you are a writer. Whether you take your craft out of the hobby arena and into the semi or full professional is up to you and other interests/ambitions you may have. Being a writer is something you are born with. Writing well and being able to craft a piece that is interesting and has an impact on its audience is something you learn along the way. You don't have to sign up for university. You do have to be prepared to work at it, learn, and keep practicing.

The way to better writing is to keep writing.

My ebook - Plan to Write, Plan to Succeed - has some articles in it you may find of interest to further you along your writing path. It's available free by emailing me at - trish.anders@gmail.com - and putting "plan to write" in the subject line.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Feedback for Plan to Write, Plan to Succeed

I've received some great feedback for my first ever ebook and wanted to share it with you. Writing takes more than talent and knowledge, it takes "butt in seat" work and a fair bit of determination. I'm so happy that I finally have something to show for the hours of typing and researching and planning...

Hi Trish,

I've just finished your e-book. Very informative and thanks for the mention! It must have taken you ages. Well done. It does tend to make me realise what a sloppy writer I am in terms of organisation.... Anyway, enjoyed the read and hope plenty of people get to read it and benefit from your experience.


and this one,

Hi Trish
Had to let you know I found your e-book interesting and informative,
espec for me in the Keeping Records section. My bete-noire!
Thanks for the chance to read it.

Thanks Jo and Sheryl. I appreciate the time you've taken to share your thoughts.

If anyone else would like a) a copy of Plan to Write, Plan to Succeed or b) to leave some feedback, just drop me a line at trish.anders@gmail.com

2. Fiction

Pretty much the same goes for stories as it does for poetry. Pick up a pen or open a word processing document and write. Your first draft will form the basis from which you can add bits, take away other bits and work on things like plot, characters and dialogue. Everything we write needs a beginning, middle and an end so get an idea of what yours will be and write it down. This is your outline and will give you some direction and act as a reminder for where you want your story to go.

I can't suggest strongly enough how useful it will be to pick up a few books on writing fiction. Plot development, characters and dialogue takes planning. Books on writing abound so start at your local library until you get a feel for what you want. Stephen King's "On Writing" is popular, easy to read and understand, and inspiring. There are hundreds, if not thousands, to choose from.

Join a writing group; online if you're a bit nervous about real live people. Check as many out as you can first and go with the groups that sound the friendliest and helpful. Another form of writing group to consider is via fan fiction. Fan fiction is fiction written by fans of television shows and movies. The stories in these groups go where the screen versions don't go. You can usually pick up a few beta-readers or editors connected to the group that will help you develop your story or, at least, point out grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors.

If you're worried about spelling, word-use or any technical aspect of writing, there are books to cover that as well. Start with a dictionary and thesaurus. Next consider a book or two on word usage. That is, something that explains the difference between words such as "lay" and "lie", when to use them, etc. Bill Bryson's "Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words" is a good start.

If you have a growing pile of short stories that have been polished as close to perfection as you can manage try submitting them off to a few competitions. You can find lists of competition information through various writing newsletters and groups, or join your local writing centre. Writing centre's provide access to groups, courses, competitions and information for writers of all abilities. To find the one closest to you either do a web search or inquire at your local library.

You will go through stages of thinking that your writing is not good enough. You will compare it to the work of other writers and consider it lacking. We all do this at some point or another. Welcome to the world of the creative artist! Mull over your apparent lack of talent for a bit, then get over it and get back to writing. If you seriously feel you need extra help in a specific area, ask for it via a critique or writing group. Work on your weak areas and they will grow stronger.
This post has just come up at Modern Matriarch. Go visit her blog for some samples of spoken poetry. This is a great idea and I hope it really catches on.

Modern Matriarch

Poetry: the Spoken Word
Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 in reading, audio clips, literature, poetry, writing, blogging

Poetry is an artform ment to be spoken; ment to be heard with the ear not scanned with the eyes. Hearing the words roll off the lips of the poet gives the poetry a new dimension. There is a texture in the emphasis, in the rhythm, in the pregnant pause that can not be duplicated on paper.

A fellow poet from Editred recorded some of her poetry on a my music page. A myspace service originally intended for indie musicians, my music has been co-opted by poets seeking an outlet for their spoken word. It’s a fascinating trend that I hope will gain ground, perhaps even inspire a dedicated service (please let me know if there is already one I don’t know about).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

1. Poetry

Does the urge to write poetry sometimes hit you when you least expect it? Don't worry about whether you produce good, bad or somewhere in between poetry. Pick up a pencil, grab a notebook and just write it. For the first draft, write whatever comes to you. You can polish it when the words are all out. Keep all your masterpieces in one notebook, something special if you can manage it and add favourite quotes and other poems. Make sure you sign and date your own work so you can look back over it later on and know exactly which words are yours.

Polishing your poetry can be as technical as you like it. If you really want to delve into the murky depths, obtain a copy of a book like Stephen Fry's "The Ode Less Travelled" and learn as much as you can. A step down from that is to simply read lots of poetry and copy the styles that you like best. On an even simpler level, go over your poem and, if it reads fine to you, leave it. If, on re-reading, you can think of better words or lines to use, use them and leave it.

If you want to publish your poetry, but don't feel skilled enough at writing, try either attending a poetry writing course or workshop, or search the web for online groups. You'll want one that welcomes beginners and offers critiques. Strict critiquing guidelines are okay as long as they also offer help with how to critique. If you're not sure of your ability to crit work, let the group moderator know and ask for help and/or flexibility in requirements.

Do I write poetry? Yes. I call it "bad poetry". I think it's fine, mainly because each piece reflects something about me at the time I wrote it. An inspiration, an idea, or just a feeling I absolutely had to get out. I call it "bad" because 1. I have no intention of ever publishing it and 2. On the off-chance that someone actually reads it, they can't say I didn't warn them. I have no pretensions. The poetry is written for me and me only. Of course, my "bad" is in comparison to people who I think write great poetry...

Somewhere, in all my writings about writing, I've said - don't compare yourself and your work to other writers, it's not good for you - or something along that line. I obviously have work to do on my poetry-writing confidence levels.

In the meantime, I keep it to myself.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Being a writer

If you have a secret desire to write stories or poems, if you feel the need to voice an opinion or share knowledge through the written medium, then that is enough to make you a writer. But, if you didn't go past highschool education, did not excel in English at school and aren't familiar with a lot of the technical aspects of writing, then you may be wondering where to start.

The World Wide Web is a wonderful tool for writers and prospective writers alike. Where else can you tap into writing groups full of like-minded people willing to help you out, for free, without leaving the comfort of your computer monitor and keyboard. Following are a bunch of tips on how to get started as a writer and a few pointers about what being a writer means.

Being a writer does not only mean being published in print. Writers are people that use the written word to express themselves either in journals, through poetry, stories, articles, essays or letter-writing. There are as many different forms of written expression as there are ways to paint a picture.

Coming up will be some posts that take a quick look at what the "really new to writing" writer can do to help themselves proceed down their chosen path.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Unite to Write

Unite to Write is a collection of reprintable articles on a variety of topics such as:

  • Herbs and plants

  • Grief and widowhood

  • Writing for Children

  • Coping with Insomnia

  • Freelance writing

  • business know-how

  • Do it yourself Home Repair

  • Dealing with Coworkers

  • Medical Articles

  • Marketing and Networking

and I'm in it! I had completely forgotten about this, but one of the outcomes of the Article Challenge I participated in last year was the ebook Unite to Write. I was wandering around the web earlier and reading some of the articles on Yvonne Perry's blog when I rediscovered it.

Hop on over to Writers in the Sky and pick up a free copy. All the articles are free to be used as web content so long as the individual author's bio/resource box is used as well.

Thanks for the help

It seems the subscription link is indeed working. Thank you for all those that responded. I'll have to resubscribe myself... perhaps it was all the bad weather we'd been having. Speaking of bad weather, it's batten down the hatches time here in Sydney. The latest weather reports have gale force winds, lots and lots of rain and even some hail expected later on tonight. The day started off quite pleasant, some sunshine making it through the rainclouds [it rained heavily all night last night] and not too cold. It all went down hill from there. By mid-morning the temperatures had dropped and the sun had snuck back behind the cloud cover. Lunchtime saw the return of the rain and now, dinnertime, it's raining and quite cold.

I am happy to report that some rain is at last falling over our dam catchment area. Warragamba Dam reported a 53mm fall over the past 24 hours. Sydney has not gone completely dry just yet! Just a few million more millilitres to go and I can finally go back to the long hot showers I prefer.

My neurotic dog is loving the weather. She spent last night on the lounge with "dad" who, grumbling true, vacated his snug warm bed so she would settle [and the rest of the family could sleep]. What a man! He didn't get much sleep though so it will be my turn tonight, I'm sure. Our pooch doesn't like the rain, or the wind, or thunder, or any sort of loud noise really, and has mastered the "pathetic" look to perfection. Imagine a skinny-looking whippet with her tail tickling her ribcage, shivering violently and one front paw lifted... it works nearly everytime.

I have just had a number of articles published at ezinearticles.com and am almost 1/2 way through the LK Spring Article Challenge. My daughter had a look at my article list and said, "Loofahing? You're writing about loofahing?"

"Yes," I replied. "I'll write about anything." [and I do love a good loofah, so why not share it with the world!]

I also have a couple of articles about PowerPoint presentations. As I'm immersed in producing advertising for big screen presentations [I'm talking big, big screen here] for work, why not share some of the ins and outs?

Enjoy your reading and why not drop a line or two in the comments section. I love to see who's been around...


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I've just added a subscription button to my blog [over there on the left]. I'm not sure if it's working. Either I've done something wrong or my free subscription to Feedburner doesn't allow for blog subscriptions.

I would greatly appreciate someone other than myself clicking on the icon and letting me know what happens after they've filled in the form. I especially want to know if the form is the last you hear of the whole subscribe to Beginnings, Middles Ends blog thing.

Many thanks

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Another word or two on common errors

I just wanted to add a few more words on the subject of misused words; pet peeves, if you will.


These are two different words with two different meanings. "Loose" refers to things like, "loose change" or, "the cows are loose in the back paddock again, Ma!". That sort of thing.

"Lose" is related to "lost", like when you lose an aeroplane full of hapless people somewhere over the Pacific Ocean and then later decide to make a neverending television series about it. Though that may refer more to "losing the plot" - or it could just be me.

A couple of others, which are more a change in style yet to catch on than peeves, are:

Adding "st" to the end of words, such as whilst, amongst, amidst. The "st" is on its way to meet the dinasaurs. Modern useage is to leave the words intact. Eg. while, among and amid.

Double quotation marks instead of single. That is, "dialogue" rather than 'dialogue'. Doubles are out. Singles are in. Why? Singles save space and, therefore, save paper. Kind of like using one space after a fullstop/period or colon, instead of two. Note that the whole single versus double rule does not include quotes.

By the same reasoning, you could also change useage of words such as, towards and backwards, to, toward and backward.

What do you think? Have any pet peeves?


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Winter has finally hit!

It has been raining for almost two days solid, wild winds to go with it. North of Sydney serious damage and deaths have occurred. Now, I'm told the real storm, as if what we've been experiencing isn't enough, is coming our way.

My in-laws lost their verandah roof at 1am this morning. My brother-in-law and family have been without electricity for nearly 24-hours. I'm just thankful that I live where I do in a relatively safe part of Sydney.

I drove down to the beach today. The beachside roads are buried under golden sand. The wind was too strong to allow a stroll over the dunes and to the beach, but surely the giant waves have cut a swathe along their lengths.

Take a look at the picture. Where the white sign is should be a wide bitumen path. Right next to that is the road. It's all still there, of course, just buried under a few inches of mushy sand.

I think I'll stay home the rest of this long weekend and enjoy the opportunity to catch up on critiques, articles and a bit of marketing. I've had enough of weather for now.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Misused and Abused

Here's a great article by freelance writer, Kendy Sproul. Drop in and visit her blog. She has some great words of advice and many other articles.


Misused and Abused

As a freelance writer and editor, the more I read, the greater my awareness of the confusion most of us experience over the correct use of English. And understandably so. You don't have to be uneducated to make mistakes that might make you seem less than the literate person you are.

In an attempt to clear up a small portion of this confusion, I have made a list of commonly abused words. Don't be ashamed if you see words on this list that you often misuse yourself, the abuse of these words can be commonly found in the correspondence of even the most prestigious offices in our country.

Learn their correct uses and you will hold your head high the next time you are asked to write a report or letter, knowing that no words will be abused in the process.


accept:to receive willingly.except: to exclude or leave out.I accepted payment from everyone there, except Ryan.


affect: when used as a noun it means to influence or stir the emotions of. It can only be applied to subjects that have emotions and can be influenced.effect: to bring about by a cause; result (hence the phrase; cause and effect).What we say as parents, greatly affects our children. The effect can be disastrous.


aggravate: to make worse; to annoy.irritate: to provoke to anger; to make inflamed or sore.Brian tried to irritate his little sister. The situation was aggravated by the barking dog.


anxious: worried or uneasy.eager: keenly desiring or impatient.I was eager to go, but anxious about the slick roads.


continually: repeated often.continuously: without interruption, unbroken.Ted has to put fuel in the generator continually to keep it running continuously.


i.e.: short for the Latin, id est, meaning, "that is."e.g.: short for the Latin, exempli gratia, meaning, "for example."I prefer neutral colors; i.e. beige, sand, brown, etc.The twins have several differences; e.g. Ellen is taller than Susan.


imply: to indicate indirectly; to suggest.infer: to conclude by reasoning; to draw meaning from something known or assumed."Wow, that's some hair color," she said, implying that my hair looked unnatural. "Your hair is Red!" he said, inferring to the color.

into/in to

into: to enter (Go into the kitchen.); to change form (He turned into a frog.); continue in the midst of (We danced into the night.); to make contact with or strike (She ran into the door. or, I ran into an old friend.).in to: used in most other instances.Patricia T. O'Conner simplifies things in her book, Woe is I, where she advises; If you can drop the in without losing the meaning, the term you want is in to. Bring the guests (in) to me, then we'll all go (in) to dinner.


it's: the contraction of "it is."its: the possessive form of "it."These two are commonly confused but not interchangeable.It’s so warm outside that the yard is beginning to lose its winter look.


lay: always applies to an object; to place an object somewhere.lie: to rest in a horizontal or reclined position.First, I will lay my book on the shelf, then I will lie down on the bed.


nauseated: caused to feel nausea; to be make sick.nauseous: an adjective referring to something causing nausea; something sickening.I’m nauseated by that nauseous odor.Got it? Good! Far too many of us go through life mistakenly (or not) admitting that we are sickening (nauseous).


sit: to rest oneself upon the buttocks; to be seated.set: always applies to an object; something is being placed.Set your cup on the counter, then sit in the chair.


than: use when comparing elements.One is bigger than the other.then: use when signifying a sequence of events or regarding time.We will go for a walk, then have lunch. I was younger then.

This is only a portion of my list of commonly misused words. But, by spreading the knowledge of their proper use, there just may be fewer cases of word abuse in the world.

by Kendy Sproul


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Free Ebook finally ready!

I have put the final touches to my first free e-book - Plan to Write, Plan to Succeed. It's taken months to battle through the trenches of real life and all its demands. Now, I just have to figure out how to get it attached to this website!

Plan to Write is a collection of articles, some already published, some written exclusively for the ebook focussing on the importance of planning. Whether you're planning school or university writing assignments or the next great novel, you'll find a little something to give you reason to stop and think first.

Planning a Student Writing Assignment
Writing What You Know: Figuring Out What You Know
Turning Ideas Into Stories
Researching on the World Wide Web
Keeping Records I: Papertrails & Bibliographies
Keeping Records II: Using Excel to Keep Track of Your Work
What is Copyright?
Bio/Resource Boxes

If the e-book is not up yet, please email me at: trish.anders@gmail.com and I'll send you a copy by return. Just put "Plan to Write" in the subject line.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Anosmia: Ten Handy Links

Anosmia is the inability to smell and is more common than widely believed. If you suspect someone you know, or even yourself, is anosmic, you'll find some great info in the Ten Handy Links below. They include scientific, anecdotal and support information and contacts.

Happy linking!

1. http://www.anosmiafoundation.org/index.shtml

2. http://www.maxuk.net/fascin.html out of date but some interesting stuff in the archived content

3. http://personal.ecu.edu/wuenschk/anosmia.htm

4. http://www.golgotha.org.uk/useful/anosmia.html

5. http://md1.csa.com/crw/web/web-smell.html

6. http://www.hhmi.org/senses/

7. http://hubel.sfasu.edu/courseinfo/SL99/anosmia.html

8. http://www.simplykristi.com/me/my_life/conditions/anosmia/

9. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,1334975,00.html

10. http://www.leffingwell.com/links5.htm

bonus link! http://www.anosmia.net/index.php online support group for congenital anosmics. That is, if you haven't smelled anything ever you'll find like affected people right here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Well, the Christmas break is just about over. In Australia, students are on holidays from just before Christmas until the end of January. That’s a whole lot of time where fitting in some writing is even harder than usual. I’m one of those people who require some peace and quiet in order to concentrate – at the very least, an absolute minimum of interruptions. Unfortunately, I’m also one of those people that have children at home.

Before Christmas I was two articles short of producing my first e-book tentatively titled, Plan to Write, Plan to Succeed. Plan to Write is a collection of articles – some already published, some not –looking at different aspects of writing that need attention during the planning phase. Whether you are a student, freelancing, budding novelist or write for business, Plan to Write, will help get you started. The e-book is relatively short, six to eight articles, and covers such topics as, keeping records, planning a writing piece/assignment/project, and copyright. It should be ready in another couple of weeks and will be offered, free, right here.

I also have plans to start up a new mailing list and hope to make that announcement at the same time as I release Plan to Write.

In the meantime, I’m excited to be starting work with a new student in February. Emma is a high school student keen to improve her writing and analytical skills. We’ll be talking books [one of my favourite topics] and general planning & writing for school.

On the fiction front, I’m in the early planning stages for a website where I’ll be selling my first novel, Web of the Wise, in e-book format as well as Print On Demand. Web is in the final editing phase and should be up and ready in the first half of 2007.

What an exciting year ahead!