Mnemonics, as a word, is no advert for English spelling. And English spelling most certainly needs help. What’s the point of that silent M at the start? (Blame the Greeks. Their spelling isn’t easy either.)
English spelling (and pronunciation) may well be the world’s worst. How many students, trying to learn English as a foreign language, have been flummoxed by:
through, thorough, cough, enough, hiccough, sough, dough?
I often have problems with words where changing the spelling changes the meaning: practise/practice and the like. The spellchecker is no help to me with that, of course.
My regular bugbear is affect/effect. I have to stop to work out which is correct when I’m writing.
The Oxford Dictionary tells me that affectand effectare quite different in meaning, though frequently confused. (A statement of the bleedin’ obvious?) Continue reading →
Authors often agonise over titles for their books. Not just odd titles — any title. And finding the right title may be the very last thing an author does. Sometimes, authors never find their title at all; their publisher supplies one instead. (And the angst that process can create could be a subject for several blogs, on its own.)
Odd Titles Competition
Mice — but not nude at all, in this Rackham illustration
The images above (in case you were wondering) show various plants from my drought-ridden garden, specifically: rose, ivy, catmint, bay (laurel). Anything strike you about them?
Yes, three of them also provide female names. At least, they do in English.
I don’t think it’s usual to call a baby girl “Catmint”. Unless you know someone called that?
But Rose, Ivy, and Laura (Laurel) used to be fairly common.
Along with Pansy,
the occasional Delphine (Delphinium),
and loads more… Continue reading →
Writer on holiday is not a natural role for me. I admit it. I’m not good at holidays. We never had them when I was a child and somehow I’ve never really got the knack of it. But sometimes I accompany The Birdwatcher on one of his birding trips. It is a delight.
Well, for me it is a delight. And The Birdwatcher is kind enough to say he enjoys it too, in spite of my not knowing much about either ornithology or birdwatching etiquette.
I probably won’t read much but I get uneasy if I haven’t got a book to hand. So I like to take one non-fiction and one novel, both chosen wholly for fun.
This time my non-fiction was a memoir by Lev Parikian, Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?The author’s situation is the reverse of mine. Basically he knows what he is doing in the matter of puffin-bothering and just fell out of the habit when he grew up. Whereas I have been going along with it for a while, without ever getting much better. He decided that he would take it up again for a year.
His book is a thoughtful and very entertaining saunter through his bird pursuits, memories, music, encounters with experts and much else. It’s a charming journey with delicious laugh-out-loud moments and life-enhancing digressions. Continue reading →
Authors have different ways of naming characters. Some label their key characters hero and heroine until they have finished the first draft, others need names for their characters before they can write a word.
(And some need to know all the character’s backstory before they start to write… But that’s another blog altogether.) Continue reading →
This weekend Easter Memories came flooding back to me unexpectedly. And they stopped me dead in my tracks. Disturbed me. Then, made me smile.
Easter Memories – Anniversary
Easter was a turbulent time of year for my family when I was a child. My parents had married on 29th March – on the same day as the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the Grand National and the Football Cup Final. So there were lots of uneasy-making reminders for my otherwise oblivious father.
I well remember being sent out on an emergency mission to buy “flowers for your Mother’s Wedding Anniversary”.
Fortunately she thought it was funny – and she always loved the flowers. That stinging smell of daffodils always reminds me of her laughing. Continue reading →
As some of our readers will know, Sophie and I gave an editing workshop — complete with black panther — at the RNA Conference in mid-July 2017. (Fantastic conference, by the way.)
About 70 people attended. That’s a lot — we normally limit our workshop numbers to 12!
Our topic was editing to add Sparkleto our writing in order to hook and hold readers. Since we only had an hour, rather than our normal 2 full days, it was more of a twinkle.
But it was fun. And we hope that those who attended found it useful.
We certainly did. It taught us some salutary lessons which I’ll share in a moment.
First, let me introduce you to Rose… Continue reading →