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Quick Writing and Editing Tips – Adverbs #Writing #Editing

Adverbs modify verbs. If you’re using an adverb to modify a verb, then ask yourself why you need to. Is the verb not doing its job? If the verb alone can’t tell your reader how someone or something is doing something without an adverb, then is it the right one to use?

For example:

John walked quickly down the street.

You want your reader to know how John walked, so if he’s walking quickly, then say so – right? Well, no. 

John hurried down the street.

One word instead of two – hurried – tells us exactly how John is moving.

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Salmon #Scotland – A Speyside Odyssey by Norman Matheson

A lovely review for ‘A Speysde Odyssey’.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I was delighted to receive a copy of A Speyside Odyssey by Norman Matheson and having read it this week, I have a deeper respect for a fish that I have eaten all my life and its incredible life cycle.

About A Speyside Odyssey

Filled with beautiful illustrations, “A Speyside Odyssey” details the fascinating life story of the Atlantic Salmon as it undertakes one of the most remarkable, and most deadly, journeys in nature.

The story begins with conception in a remote highland burn, and follows the hazardous journey the salmon take through small tributaries, to the River Spey, and from the estuary on to distant oceanic feeding grounds.

After gorging for one or more years on the prolific food sources of the North Atlantic, the odyssey draws to its conclusion as, with remarkable accuracy, the salmon complete the long journey home, to spawn in the burn of their origin.

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Quick Writing and Editing Tips – Writing Action Scenes #Writing #Editing

  • Have events happen in real time. This helps your reader feel involved in the scene and brings them closer to a character.
  • Use physical movements but don’t describe every single action in great detail.
  • Have your character make quick decisions and react quickly to the situation/event.
  • Minimise dialogue especially if it creates a pause in the action.
  • Choose the verbs you use carefully for maximum effect.
  • If you’re having trouble visualising the actions involved in the scene act it out! (It helps if you can get someone else to join in!)
  • Read other writers and see how they write successful or unsuccessful action scenes. What didn’t work can be as important as what did work.
  • Keep it real. Unless you’re writing fantasy where anything is physically possibly, keep the scenes within the bounds of reality (see acting it out above!)

‘Love Lives Here’ by Amanda Jette Knox #BookReview #FridayReads

All Amanda Jetté Knox ever wanted was to enjoy a stable life. She never knew her biological father, and while her mother and stepfather were loving parents, the situation was sometimes chaotic. At school, she was bullied mercilessly, and at the age of fourteen, she entered a counselling program for alcohol addiction and was successful. 

While still a teenager, she met the love of her life. They were wed at 20, and the first of three children followed shortly. Jetté Knox finally had the stability she craved–or so it seemed. Their middle child struggled with depression and avoided school. The author was unprepared when the child she knew as her son came out as transgender at the age of eleven. Shocked, but knowing how important it was to support her daughter, Jetté Knox became an ardent advocate for trans rights.

But the story wasn’t over. For many years, the author had coped with her spouse’s moodiness, but that chronic unhappiness was taking a toll on their marriage. A little over a year after their child came out, her partner also came out as transgender. Knowing better than most what would lie ahead, Jetté Knox searched for positive examples of marriages surviving transition. When she found no role models, she determined that her family would become one. 

The shift was challenging, but slowly the family members noticed that they were becoming happier and more united. Told with remarkable candour and humour, and full of insight into the challenges faced by trans people, Love Lives Here is a beautiful story of transition, frustration, support, acceptance, and, of course, love
.

I started following Amanda Jette Knox a couple of years ago on Twitter – admiring the grace patience and humour she showed when dealing with sometimes horrific abuse directed not only at her, but also at her children. 

A brief glance through Twitter most days of the week and you’ll see some of the horrible things transgender people have said to them – things I’m sure people wouldn’t be brave enough to say to their faces. There’s so much misinformation out there about transgender people and transitioning. I would really encourage everyone to read this wonderful book to hear the truth about what transitioning actually entails from a family that actually knows.

The book is honest, brave, sometimes heart-breaking, ultimately uplifting. The author reveals a great deal about herself, her fears, her hopes, and is honest about mistakes she’s made. And it’s all told in a way that makes you feel as though you’re sitting down with her for a chat over coffee – the warmth and humour – and the love – comes through so clearly.

I remember Section 28 in the late eighties, and the misery it caused. I remember the homophobia of those times and it’s dreadful to hear the same old tropes and lies now being used against transgender people. It’s so depressing. It’s so important that transgender voices are heard, that the real people going through this are listened to and reading this book certainly is a great way to do that.

Incredibly important, well-written, honest and authentic, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Smorgasbord Coffee Morning – Bring a Guest – Editor Alison Williams and Author Norman Matheson – A Speyside Odyssey

It was a pleasure to work on these lovely books – thanks so much to Sally for a great post.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Recently I ran a series Public Relations for Authorswhich focused on how we are perceived by those who view our profile photographs, biographies and presence on social media. This included guest posts on other writer’s blogs. Here is an opportunity to not only promote your own blog or books, but those of someone you admire as well.

Is there an inspiring individual, blogger or an author you would like to give a boost to who might enjoy joining you for a coffee and a piece of cake with us all? 

Details on how to participate are at the end of this first post in the series.

Smorgasbord Coffee Morning – Alison Williams and guest Norman Matheson

For the first post in this new series, editor Alison Williams has brought author Norman Matheson as her guest. Norman as you will discover, is an inspiration to all of us who might…

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Quick Writing and Editing Tips – Past and Passed #Writing #Editing

Passed is the past tense of the verb ‘to pass’. It’s used to describe things that have already happened. It’s also the past participle of ‘to pass’ so it’s used for the passive voice (the law was passed) and perfect tenses (thirty years have passed by so quickly).

Passed is only ever a verb form.

Past, however, has lots of different functions – it is an adjective, a noun and a preposition.

As a noun:

  • The time before the present moment (we didn’t use that method in the past)
  • The history of a place or person (he never talks about his past)

As an adjective:

  • Gone by in time or no longer existing (his best years are past)
  • Happening before and leading up to the time of speaking or writing (he’s really grown in the past year)

As a preposition:

  • From one side of something to the other (he ran past her and into the house)
  • Telling the time (it’s past midnight)
  • Further than a specific point (I can see past the harbour and out over the sea)

As an adverb:

  • To move  from one side so as to move from one side of something or someone to the other (she saw a car going past) 
  • time going by (a year went past before she saw him again) 

‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ by Isabel Allende #BookReview #FridayReads

September 3, 1939, the day of the Spanish exiles’ splendid arrival in Chile, the Second World War broke out in Europe.

Victor Dalmau is a young doctor when he is caught up in the Spanish Civil War, a tragedy that leaves his life – and the fate of his country – forever changed. Together with his sister-in-law, the pianist Roser, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile. 

When opportunity to seek refuge arises, they board a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda to Chile, the promised ‘long petal of sea and wine and snow’. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world.

A masterful work of historical fiction that soars from the Spanish Civil War to the rise and fall of Pinochet, A Long Petal of the Sea is Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.

I read ‘The House of the Spirits’ a few years ago and have since been meaning to read more of Allende’s work. But time and a huge TBR pile mean that I’ve only just got round to this (newish) book.

And it’s as wonderful as I expected it to be – an absolutely beautiful book. Allende has a brilliant command of both the history and politics of the Spanish Civil War and of Chile and Venezuela, brought out through the compelling stories of a variety of interesting and authentic characters.

Their stories, the terrible things they endure, the happiness they find in life and in each other make this an outstanding read, and one of the best books I’ve read in ages.

It is heavy on the history, but, in my opinion, the level of detail is necessary, because you need to understand that history to understand the motivations, actions and reactions of the characters. The historical and political aspects don’t drag the narrative down in any way – in fact they add so much to the story and are told in an accessible way. And I learned so many things, particularly about the way refugees from the Spanish Civil War were treated – it really does seem that humans never learn. You could swap out the nationality for any number of alternatives, and the rhetoric, the inhumanity, the cruelty would be the same.

There are plenty of lighter moments too, and lovely, warm characters whose resilience and love are a joy to read.

Highly recommended. 

Quick Writing and Editing Tips – Capitalising Kinship Names #Writing #Editing

Kinship names are the words we use to indicate family members, like mum, mom, dad, aunt etc. 

Capitalise when the name immediately precedes a personal name, or when the name is used alone in place of an actual name. So:

Did you remember to get Mum a birthday card?

We went to see Dad when he was in hospital.

Lily and Joe loved visiting Aunt Susie’s house.

I was seven when I last saw Grandma.

Don’t capitalise when these words follow the personal name, when they don’t refer to a specific person or when they are used with possessive nouns or pronouns.

So:

The Sinfield sisters always stuck together.

There aren’t many dads who would do that.

My aunt wasn’t feeling well.

I bought a card for my mum.

Sally’s grandma lived next door.

‘Cucina Tipica’ by Andrew Cotto #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog #Italy #Travel

I read ‘Cucina Tipica’ for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Escaping to Italy was the easy part. Figuring out how to stay forever is where the adventure begins…

When disheartened American Jacoby Pines arrives in Italy on vacation, he has no idea that a family photograph from the previous century would start a search for ancestry through the streets of Florence and the hills of Tuscany.

Jacoby’s quest includes encounters with a septuagenarian ex-pat, an elusive heiress in hiding, a charming Australian museum guide, a Pearl Jam-crazed artisan shoemaker, malevolent hunters, a needy border collie and one very large wild boar. Along the way there are magnificent, wine-soaked meals at every turn and immersion in the sensory splendor and la dolce vita of Il Bel Paese.

At the end of the novel, on the morning of Jacoby’s dreaded return to America, a chance of remaining in Italy arrives in stunning news from abroad. But is it too late?

I’ve only visited Italy once, a few days in Rome followed by a week by the sea down the coast from Naples. It was a fabulous holiday – it isn’t clichéd to say the people are incredibly friendly, the weather is fabulous, the scenery stunning and as for the food, it’s wonderful. So this book, although set in a different part of Italy, had a lot that appealed and that was enjoyable.#

I love my food, and some of the descriptions of the meals were wonderful. And the descriptions of the countryside and the people really made you feel as though you were there. The author can certainly write, and write well, and this would be a lovely book to take on holiday.

That said, the descriptions did begin to wear a little thin after a while and, to be honest, the book could be a great deal shorter. I didn’t feel that invested in the characters, and there were a couple that I didn’t like at all. I do think the book would be improved with less detail about the food and more depth to the characters.

That said, it’s an enjoyable read.

‘The Memory Wood’ by Sam LLoyd #bookreview

Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, chess prodigy Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .

There were moments reading this book when I honestly couldn’t put it down. When Elissa is abducted the tension was almost unbearable, and the idea that her mum was just a few metres away was devastating. This part of the novel is so well-written, truly tense. And Elissa herself is a fabulous character, absolutely lovely. She is terrified and young, but she shows a strength and intelligence that is refreshing to read – too often the ‘victims’ in these books are two-dimensional, whereas Elissa is so authentic.

Elijah was a little less convincing, in my opinion, and I do think the author relied a little too much on stereotypes when it came to him. That said, the twist is so well-done, and written very sympathetically.

Máiréad, the detective, is a great character too, human, relatable and, like Elissa, very authentically written.

In terms of plot, it did all come together, but there didn’t seem to be a clear reason for the abductions.

So just a couple of niggles, but overall, a chilling and compelling read.