In Praise of Ebooks

Girl Sitting on Large Book ReadingI have just bought three books. What’s so special about that? Nothing. A few years ago I would not even have commented had I bought ten. But now it is a rare event.

I do much of my research for teaching, editing and writing online. I mention these jobs in order of time spent annually on each rather than order of preference. Each of these is my favorite while I’m doing it. Writing only comes last because it’s sporadic and I find, and have always found it, such hard work.

But as the the first novella of the Creektown Chronicles to be published is a cozy mystery, I felt I needed the tools of the trade on hand. And so I bought Frederick Gillam’s Poisonous Plants in Great Britain. The recycled paper and antique prints which illustrate it are lovely and the book itself is hand-size, small and light. The presentation and the etchings and drawings which illustrate Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart make it another small book to cherish while the wicked humour of John Robertson and the arresting cover of Is That Cat Dead? by John Robertson.made it a must buy.

Having my new reference books on hand made me realize how far I have travelled from the days when I thought a “real” book was far superior to a digital book

Why choose Ebooks?

I never thought I’d see the day when I’d choose an ebook over a printed book but the time has come, and for various reasons.
#My reference books take up space on my desk, I am forever flipping between them, using paper slips as bookmarks and finding it hard to track down a misremembered anecdote or fact. Perhaps if I had a tablet to reproduce illustrations I’d have chosen an e book but I hate reading on computer. When I’m on computer I want to write. However had I chosen ebooks, I could have made notes and bookmarks and always found the information I wanted at the click of a button.

#It’s much easier to carry a mobile reading device, a mobile phone, tablet, ipad than a sack of books. Better for the posture too. This lets you work anywhere at any time. Yes, you can carry a notebook and pencil—I do. But I can’t carry as many reference books as I need nor even as many manuscript pages as I want to revise.

# Work documents, reports, newspapers, magazines are easy to convert to a format which suits any ereader through Calibre software which is free and improving all the time. It’s indispensable for quickly changing file formats to suit various devices.
#There are innumerable advantages for the older reader—you can adjust to a font size that suits, it’s light to hold and easy to flip from book to book for night time reading without having a leaning tower of books imminently ready to topple from the bedside table. And amassing a library of free books, too many to read in one lifetime, is wondrous. .

And when it simply comes down to housekeeping:

stack 0f books
typical bedside book pile

#Downsizing into a tiny house no longer means getting rid of your library.

#Traveling by plane no longer means buying a book you hate on spec at the airport, and no longer means overweight baggage on the flight.

# Sadly books are not the easiest things to keep clean. And if you’ve hundreds of books, you’re unlikely to have time to be feather dusting them every day far less opening them, shaking them and banging them closed to get rid of the dust.

#Traveling light has taken an unexpected weight from my shooulders—I never realized what a burden it was to have alll these books looking down on me reproachfully, waiting to be read.

. #And again at bedtime, books are heavy and crash noisily off the bed when you fall asleep reading. My e-reader, fortunately in a case, slips out of my fingers quietly, never loses its place and so far seems to bounce.

To Split or Not to Split The Infinitive

Well, Hamlet did not say “To be or to not be.” That just sounds silly.

So when it comes to the infinitive, to split or not to split?

Split infinitive
Split infinitive

What is the matter with saying your MC intended to walk quickly? Apart from the fact that  better writing would demand a stronger verb that meant to walk quickly lol. (Suggest to hurry, to scamper, to do anything to avoid the adverb and produce a more precise visual experience for the reader.)

Yes, another of my pet peeves hit the spotlight this week–the split infinitive. Now, I’m not exactly as finicky as the French Academy when it comes to upholding conventional grammar. I understand that any language must evolve and grow over time.

But two things make me very sad. The dumbing down
of language is leading to the loss of the richness and
variety of vocabulary which add precision to writing.
And the split infinitive is increasing its pincer-like grip
on popular fiction.

(I have already lost the war on collective nouns taking
singular verbs and given in with good grace. It seems
ignorance is acceptable when it comes to twenty-first
century writing.)

With more and more people claiming to be “writers,”
more and more grammatical errors are perpetuated
to claim recognition as acceptable.

But there is no rhyme and reason in calling something
an infinitive and then splitting it unless you’re the next
writing Einstein.

Keep infinitives intact

In any language, the infinitive is, as it says, infinite. It
is simply the name of the verb: to run, to dance, to
laugh. No-one does it, it has no time frame–not
present tense, nor past, nor future. It is indivisible.

The verb on its own is a command–Run! Dance!
Play! It has someone doing it–you! It has a time
frame –now.

Brian Klems’ article for Writer’s Digest set me a-
fuming again this week. I’m glad to say he stuck to his
standards and decided rules are rules.Those who
commented pointed out it was a Latin construction
imposed on English…yes, it was. But it is also a
concept.

All languages have an infinitive form of the verb. In all
other languages, I believe, the infinitive is a single
word. In Bulgarian it holds the present tense ending
for first person I. In English the infinitive is made up of
two words which must stay together to express its
sense.

In my job as editor I see the poor litttle thing mangled
out of recognition again and again. When authors
insist, I leave their writing as is. After all, it’s not my
book but theirs.

But I reserve the right not to write using split
infinitives, not to edit lazily and not to resist pointing
them out whenever they appear.

Do you agree or do you happily split those infinitives without a care in the world? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 Anne D

 

 

International Apostrophe Day

, via Wikimedia Commons”]Greengrocer's_apostrophe_correction

Friday August 16

Delighted to find this photo by Sceptre to celebrate International Apostrophe Day. Good to see the vandal has the right idea.

For more apostrophe catastrophes check out the apostrophe catastrophe blog — not a good idea  for the apostrophe challenged as the pictorial bombardment of erroneous it’s, you’re, and plain plurals decorated with apostrophes could lead to lifelong confusion.

And yet another on Wikimedia Commons from the U.K.

Errant_apostrophe_-_geograph.org.uk_-_987281

 err…for the HGV’s what ? Its wheels?Its contents? Its driver presumably.

And the apostrophes don’t just fly up willy-nilly in Britain.

Photographers on Wikimedia Commons are vigilant snapping and sharing the errant apostrophes flying round the world.

So good to see the Europeans have problems too.

, via Wikimedia Commons”]Apostrophitis: photo by Felix H, released under Creative Commons Licence

Perhaps the German signwriter didn’t speak French?

Après , the French word for after, takes a grave accent. The apostrophe was just a grave mistake.

Wearing my editor’s hat, I hate seeing these flying commas landing in all the wrong places.

How about you? Are you a stickler for precision or do you think it’s time we let the apostrophes loose to do their own thing, wherever they happen to land?

Happy Apostrophe Day!

Why choose a publisher rather than self publish?

Dear Author,

, via Wikimedia Commons”]Bookstore in Florence

I appreciate your frustration. We all knew books took a long time to produce  with a traditional publisher. But your work, when it finally hit the bookshelf, had the weight of a known and respected imprint stamped on the cover and inside.

But even with the proliferation of Indie publishing houses, your book can  idle for months waiting on the verdict from an overworked acquisitions editor, probably trying to wear three hats at the same time.

Your book may still take over a year to see the light of day as an e-book. You may need massive sales before it will be considered as a print book. Depressing…

You’ve written your book. You’ve sent it out to seek its fortune in the big publishing pond. You want to hold it in your hand, smell the ink on the paper.You want to see it succeed now.

So why not self-publish?

Five reasons to stick with your publisher

 

  • You have the credibility of being backed by an organisation that has chosen your book, thinks it will sell. A publisher has outlay costs, staff to pay. No-one wants to risk a flawed book that no-one wants to read.

  • You have the support of everyone in the organisation from editors to fellow authors to spread the word about your book. A ready made cheer-leading team.

  • You will have professional editors working with you to make this the best book you ever wrote. Maybe you will have as many as four edits, maybe you will have several editors. This can cost a lot of money if you’re going it alone. Just look it up… And if you think of doing without an editor, remember the books full of grammatical errors, rambling constructions and content, and typos galore you can find on Kindle… aargh. Don’t go there.

  • You will have a professional artist design your cover. Yep you may not agree with what you’re given but it will be a cover designed to sell. To do it yourself might be fun but you’re not guaranteed the best result.

  • Of course you can learn everything there is to know about self-publishing and formatting but it’s time taken out of your valuable writing time. Unless you’re interested in the technical aspects of producing a book for yourself, it’s better to let someone experienced take the strain.

Anne D.

Anne Duguid.

G is for Ghosts and Gradatio

Tales of ghoulies and ghosties abound in every country throughout the world and now ghosts are tipped to be the next thing on the publishing wish list.

Dust off a historic ghost or two and rewrite them into a fictional tale as Elysabeth Eldering did with Bride-and-Seek, breathing life into the nineteenth century legend from Covington Manor.

Or choose a modern slant. Drs. Dave and Sharon Oester at Ghost Web have collected scary stories from many members of their International Ghost Hunters’ Society and have published them in a free pdf e-book. Find the offer about half way down their home page.

May be good for inspiration.

From MuseItUp Publishing blog, here are two story-based entries

Of Churches, Ghoulies, Ghosties and Things

Ghosts in the Kitchen. Ghosts in the Attic

Gradatio

One of my favourite ways of building a climax through patterning where the last word or words in the first clause are repeated to start the following clause and this repetitive pattern continues through three or more clauses.

From the Sentence Openers blog, How to Write a Sentence or Sentences that Hook. I have chosen Rosalind’s words in Shakespeare’s As You Like It:

“For your brother and my sister no sooner met but they looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner loved but they sighed; no sooner sighed but they ask one another the reason; no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have theymade a pair of stairs to marriage.”

I’ll try one tomorrow–too tired tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

F is for Fun, Fonts and Figures of Speech

Day Six of the A – Z Challenge

Fun

…and there’s never enough of it. Here’s something you can easily use yourself on your blog or website to create an interactive space for visitor comment or daily writing.

This is Wall Wisher–still in beta–but it has proved very easy to use.  Click on the sticky to see my how-to  Slow and Steady Writers  post when I embedded in Blogger. Double click on the board to add a new sticky–you don’t need to sign in, but I have asked to moderate posts before they go live in case of spam. Use the pink tabs to access the big screen.

Two things I forgot to say in my original post if you are building your own wall:

  • After you choose title and subtitle, you need to choose or upload an image for your wall.

  • It does not seem to like short links when it comes to linking. Use the original URL of the link.

    Fonts

Fonts come in different sizes depending on the typeface you use and the point size you choose. Always use the suggestion made in your chosen publisher’s guidelines.

This is Arial 12 pt

This is Times New Roman 12 pt

This is Courier New 12 pt

This is Calibri 12 pt

Print books normally use 11 or 12pt but web print looks better at 14 pt.

And my fonts are behaving fractiously today. Shall publish anyway and fiddle with them later lol.

Figures of Speech

What use are they?

  • Do you think figures of speech are useful to browse through to find ideas for varying your writing style or sentence construction?

    Do you use loads of figures of speech naturally and have no interest in what they are called.

    Let me know on the wall or in the comments below.

A blessed Good Friday to all this Easter.

E is for Editor and Enallage

Day Five A-Z Challenge

Kate McInnes’s Office

Kate McInnes's Officefrom Envato’s photostream on Flickr

Today’s post is late. late, late. A busy editing day, a social evening and then hours spent looking for a suitable image instead of taking a quick photo of my own desk which is nowhere nearly as tidy as the one above.

I have a tower for the desktop, a second keyboard, a  back-up external drive, a USB hub,  a second mouse and innumerable sheets of paper to the left of my laptop. On the right there is the desk light, a chinese vase filled with pens and pencils, a paperweight, a hole punch, a keyboard hoover, an inbox of to do notes and CDs of software and back-up photo files, a flash drive–what’s that doing there?–a set of file cards, a journalist’s notebook, an A4 folder, post-its,  loose biros and more paper.

At my feet, I have my reference books, dictionaries, language dictionaries (authors often use foreign language dialogue or quotations which must be checked), thesaurus and  Chicago Manual of Style.

If you want to more about editors and what they do, please read

Tips on Editing: Part 1

What is Editing?

By Nancy Carty Lepri

which you will find at Writers on the Move where I guest post on the 24th of each month (hint hint).

I love editing, discussing plots (and sometimes plot holes lol) and ironing out the grammar that sometimes makes sentences so difficult to read. And for that reason, I am pretty cross about the next figure of speech.

Figure of Speech: Enallage

I cannot believe that we have a figure of speech to accredit grammatical mistakes. Every day we hear grammatical errors in  dialogue . Some we find funny and repeat and perpetuate them– a favorite child talking about foots or mouses is endearing.

But using a singular verb after a plural subject: we was eating our tea when the taxi arrived–may make for  picturesque and authentic dialect but does it deserve to be ennobled by calling it a figure of speech?

Some definitions claim that enallage is when an author changes one form  (e.g. singular)  for another (e.g. plural) intentionally for dramatic effect.

Here’s one editor who claims that the mistake is more likely to be a typo  or grammatical lapse than a deliberate example of a figure of speech 🙂 What do you think?

D is for Dance, Dystopia and Dystmesis

Day Four of the A to Z Challenge

Why dance?

Dance is the earliest form of creative expression, and the perfect counterbalance to depression and the difficult aches and pains suffered by writers, editors and other deskbound professions. It is for me one of the best treats when I allow myself an “artists’s date” as prescribed by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way.

It’s also gives me a great chance to share this video of 93-year-old Mathilda Klein dancing the quickstep, high heels and all. Inspirational.

The Dystopian Novel

Dystopia was a word coined by philosopher John Stuart Mill in the nineteenth century when he accused the British government of the day of being dystopian with reference to one of their policies on Ireland. “…Utopian,” he said, “is something too good to be practicable but what they…favour is too bad to be practicable.”

Animal Farm  and 1984 are examples of dystopian novels, set in a harsh, repressive society. The Hunger Games is typical of the modern dystopian trend in YA fiction

No place for the Mathildas of this world in Dystopia.

Figures of Speech

Dystmesis is when we separate the syllables of a word by inserting another word in between them. There’s only one way for me to describe Mathilda–abso-jolly-lutely fabulousDystmesis in action. lol

I’d love to read your opinions of dancing through life, the trend for dystopian novels and/or your favourite examples of dystmesis. Please keep visiting and commenting. It’s such a delightful way to get to know other writers through the A to Z challenge.

C is for Copyright and Chiasmus

Day Three of the A to Z Blogging Challenge
Greeting Card

C is for card and the earliest greeting cards were often elaborately sewn and decorated. This New Year card is reproduced from the collection of photographs uploaded by the Center for Jewish History and shared on Flickr through a Creative Commons license. There are no known copyright restrictions though the Center for Jewish History has a page of copyright information and a rights statement which just proves how tricky the whole copyright issue is.

Authors of blogs and educational materials may argue “fair usage” for short quotations from public or previously published work. But as soon as you write commercial fiction or charge for your work, you must be very careful indeed about respecting the copyright of others.

Researching illustrations for B is for Bestiary, I was amazed to find that although the manuscripts are hundreds of years old, most of the illustrations have been placed under copyright restrictions by the photographer or museum or owner of the original work. So much for feeling safe if the original artist or writer is long dead.

So I would like to call for three cheers for every creative artist who offers to share work under a Creative Commons licence and for every collector, museum and body who also share their collections freely in that way through Flickr.

More Figures of Speech

And back to the figures of speech. So many of these begin with C. Wikipedia lists cacophony, cataphora, classification. climax, commoratio and consonance as well as my choice for today chiasmus.

The word chiasmus comes from the Greek letter chi  or x. The Greeks loved using this particular criss-cross construction in their rhetoric and writing.  But it was in use long before them and Barack Obama still uses  it most effectively in speeches today.

“Fair is foul and foul is fair” is a famous quotation from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

And Samuel Johnson is quoted as saying: ” Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.”

B is for Bestiaries and Bathos

illustrated manuscript page from bestiary, Royal Library, Denmark

Bestiaries were illustrated manuscripts portraying real and mythical animals with stories relating to each. They were very popular in the Middle Ages but hardly scientific. Instead, they entertained with fables and spiritual content as the stories were often allegorical.

The illustration above comes courtesy of the Royal Library, Denmark and features a page from a later Latin manuscript. It is easy to find wonderful illustrations from and features on bestiaries but difficult to reproduce anything because of copyright restrictions.

The Royal Library, Denmark very generously allows use and reproductions of texts and pictured from their site under Creative Commons license BY-NC-ND.  Find further information on this manuscript at The Medieval Bestiary .  Just looking at the home page of the Medieval Bestiary is temptation enough to browse. Plenty of food for a writer’s imagination here  ranging from horror to fantasy.

And back to the figures of speech. From the sublime to the prosaic,  B is for Bathos. Bathos is exactly that–when a highly hyped emotional moment is brought down to earth by a prosaic comment. It is a highly prized technique in comedy.

English poet Alexander Pope introduced the term in the 18th century and used it to great effect in his mock-heroic poem Rape of The Lock.

If you have the time to check out some comedy examples, take a look at Duncan McKenzie’s Writing Tips. I find Bathos funny. Hope you do too.