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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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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

This Time Forever, by Linda Swift, Reviewed.

This American Civil War romance does much that genre readers will expect of it. I was introduced to
it by a friend of a writing friend who knows of my interest in the romance genre. It is clearly written with a female readership in mind, and I have no argument with that.

The central romance runs the course of hope, challenge, new hope, further challenge, etc. But it does it well, with some fairly detailed history of the times it presents. I suspect US readers will find it more familiar, since it’s a part of their history. For me, as a Brit, there were odd references that were obscure, and some geographical aspects that had little meaning. But these didn’t detract from the story and didn’t interrupt the flow. Pacing is good, as is the use of language.

The characters, always a vital aspect of any story for me, are well drawn. They have their faults and their positive qualities, and none is a caricature or stereotype. The different attitudes of both sides in the war are well expressed, and, as should be expected in our more enlightened times, the evils of slavery are depicted in subtle but definite ways. Certainly, the right wing, greedy, and abusive way of life of those in the Confederacy are demonstrated, but these are not thrust down the reader’s throat.

The story moves well, slowing for the romance, speeding up for the action. There is a good deal of tension between both family members and the main protagonists. Evil and good are well represented as are loyalty and betrayal. Love, of course, is given a good ride and drives much of the action in the story, as it should. The author has managed to get inside the contemporary religious hang-ups of the age, describing the mistaken guilt and hypocritical judgment that would have been common at the time.


In spite of a slightly slow start, the story develops a good pace as the action progresses and conflicts rise to the surface. This is a good read and one of the better examples of the romance genre. I enjoyed it and found I was eager to reach the denouement and the satisfactory conclusion. Recommended.

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice #12

English: So many words to keep track of!.
English: So many words to keep track of!. (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: At An End
Emotional: Over

‘The tour of the museum is now at an end; we hope you have enjoyed your visit.’

‘It’s over. What else is there to say? We’re finished. Sorry.’

Intellectual: Demise
Emotional: Death

‘It is with great sorrow that I must announce the demise of our esteemed leader. He died in his sleep last night.’

‘God, that metaphor’s been done to death. Find a new one!’

Intellectual: I Regret
Emotional: I’m Sorry

‘I regret to inform you that your luggage has been sent in error to Helsinki. We will endeavour to have it returned to your airport of arrival at Wellington as soon as we are able. Have a nice stay.’


‘I’m sorry, but there’s no more left. You’ve had the lot.’

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.’