Category Archives: Writing tips

To diverse or not to diverse your writing

While looking for something completely different, I came upon this wonderful video by the author Francina Simone. It is called “Diversity isn’t about adding POC or LGBT”. If you are sensitive to a “fuck” or two, be warned.

By the way. I ordered Francina Simone book. She lives what she preaches.

An Aspie’s method of reviewing books

I was surprised when Ms. Sofras asked me if I wanted to say something about my review process – from the point of view of an ASD person. This is what reviewing looks like in my version of an Aspie brain.

How I Read ~ A Guest Reviewer Writes ~ #ASD #Asperger’s

I came across Lise Lotte when looking for bloggers to read and review my latest book, Cocktails and Lies.  I became so fascinated by Lise’s story, that we struck up a kind of correspondence which resulted in me inviting her to write a guest post on her reading experiences for my blog.  As a former English teacher, I’m always fascinated to hear about readers’ perspectives, and because Lise’s autistic spectrum disorder, I thought her story might be of interest to authors and readers everywhere.  Over to Lise.

(Pic not included)

My name is Lise Almenningen and I am the owner of the blog humanitysdarkerside.com. Along with that I run a few other blogs on various topics. I also happen to be ASD/Asperger’s/Autistic.

I did not know I had Asperger’s until about the same time I started my first blog, 2012. Until then, I just figured I had some unusual quirks that I tried very hard to suppress. When I realized all of that strangeness was normal for me, I stopped fighting it so hard. Surprise. Surprise. Life got simpler.

I believe the greatest commonality in Aspies, is how different we perceive what we see/observe/feel to non-ASDs (or neurotypicals/normals as you like to call yourselves). That is both our best friend and our worst enemy depending on what we are doing and who we are with. As a reviewer (once I let myself out of my preconceived idea of a reviewer), I believe being Asperger has shed new light on texts.

I am addicted to reading and will try to read anything. That does not mean I will finish, because not all writing is worth finishing. Whether a text is worth finishing has nothing to do with the author’s level of education, expertise or category. I have read academic texts whose authors cannot have been beta-ed and “trashy” authors whose writing is so poignant, I am incapable of putting the text down. Sometimes a text is so technical, I am incapable of ever understanding it. I would not know if the author is good or not in such cases. But I will give them a try.

The rest of the article can be read on ManicScribbler

“Ass” – US English intensifier

Back in the olden-not-so-golden-days I used to know a bit of Latin. I would translate swear-words into Latin and use them on people who were particularly annoying. At home, our mouths would be washed with soap if we were caught swearing or one of us told on the other. All four of us were awful tattletales, especially if revenge was the goal. Some of these usages of “ass” were new to me.

| JUNE 1, 2016

IN WHICH WE GET TO THE BOTTOM OF SOME CRAZY-ASS LANGUAGE

This is one crazy-ass ass. | via Flickr

Let’s face it, there is no depth to which linguists will not sink in their hunt for the oddities of language. And that includes getting to the bottom of some of the weirdly versatile uses of strong, coarse, foul, no good, very bad language.Now you may think that strong language is useful only when practicing to be a longshoreman in the comfort of your own home (or so I assume), but no. As it turns out not only is strong language a powerful invective that you may not wish to use in front of a policeman, in casual speech it’s often used in innovative and productive ways that have changed colloquial American English grammar—rather unexpectedly.

We saw, for instance, how abso-bloody-lutely fan-freaking-tastic it could be to add a swear word infix to a humble polysyllabic like “Minne-fucking-sota,” in a process called “expletive infixation.” But while expletive infixation may be used for emphasis in casual speech, its usage is still fairly marked. It hasn’t made as insidious an infiltration into mainstream language as one other surprisingly popular curse word:ass. If you’re unconvinced about the grammatical versatility of “ass,” worry not, the linguists are on it!

Just to emphasize, yes, there are actual serious-ass, um, analyses about the word “ass.” (Well, perhaps not that serious). The Annals of Improbable Research recently popularized one such study—a short paper in Snippets Journal by linguist Daniel Siddiqi on the subject of “ass” as a modern intensifier, which gained some mainstream attention. I say “modern,” but in fact fancy-ass examples of the phenomenon have been noted as far back as the 1920s. Even before Siddiqi, there’s been abundant scholarship on the subject, including Diana Elgersma’s elegantly titled 1998 paper “Serious-ass morphology: The anal emphatic in English.”

So what is the so-called “ass” intensifier?

Once, we were all happy enough using rather dull words like “very” and “really” as intensifiers, as in “a very big car” or “a really crazy idea.” They’ve often become so (another intensifier) overused and diluted in effect that many complain bitterly about their use at all. In casual speech, using “-ass” as an intensifier suffix attached to an adjective, we might express the same ideas as the more colorful “a big-ass car” and “a crazy-ass idea.” Obviously, we’re not talking about actual posteriors being big or crazy, so the curse word has developed into a kind of functional linguistic morpheme, carrying a more effective and emphatic weight. Although this is still a marked form that you mostly find in colloquial contexts, it’s getting increasingly common for the “-ass” intensifier to make appearances in mainstream media, as the linguistic register of record becomes ever more casual, perhaps in an effort to become more approachable.

You would never think that the word “ass” could give us so much in the way of grammatical delights…….

The rest of the article may be read at JSTOR

15 words you should eliminate from your vocabulary to sound smarter

Guilty as charged. Perhaps you are too?

Censored-paper

Image: Masterfile/Corbis
Newsprint is on life support,emoji are multiplying faster than hungry Gremlins, and 300 million people worldwide strive to make their point in 140 or fewer characters.People don’t have the time or the attention span to read any more words than necessary. You want your readers to hear you out, understand your message, and perhaps be entertained, right? Here’s a list of words toeliminate to help you write more succinctly.

1. That

It’s superfluous most of the time. Open any document you’ve got drafted on your desktop, and find a sentence with “that” in it. Read it out loud. Now read it again without “that.” If the sentence works without it, delete it. Also? Don’t use “that” when you refer to people. “I have several friends that live in the neighborhood.” No. No, you don’t. You have friends who. Not friends that.

2. Went

I went to school. Or the store, or to church, or to a conference, to Vegas, wherever it is you’re inclined to go. Instead of “went,” consider drove, skated, walked, ran, flew. There are any number of ways to move from here to there. Pick one. Don’t be lazy and miss the chance to add to your story.

3. Honestly

People use “honestly” to add emphasis. The problem is, the minute you tell your reader this particular statement is honest, you’ve implied the rest of your words were not. #Awkward

4. Absolutely

Adding this word to most sentences is redundant. Something is either necessary, or it isn’t. Absolutely necessary doesn’t make it more necessary. If you recommend an essential course to your new employees, it’s essential. Coincidentally, the definition of essential is absolutely necessary. Chicken or egg, eh? ………..

The rest of the article can be read at The Muse

hawkgrrrl: My So-Called Post

March 31, 2015

I’m a word nerd, so I always find it interesting when a simple change to grammar alters the meaning of a word or sentence.  Time magazine recently pointed out one grammatical faux pas:  using “actually” can be a red flag. From this article (reprinted from Inc.):

Extra words used in a sales presentation or investor pitch are unnecessary. They subconsciously point listeners to question if there’s more unspoken information. The word “actually” serves as a spoken pause, giving the presenter’s brain time to catch up and decide how to resolve the conflict in their mind between the question asked and reality.

Actually can point to something in contrast to what is expected; for example, (per the article) if you ask someone “Did you get milk at the store?” and they respond, “Actually, I went to the gas station,” they are pointing out that you expected them to get milk at the store, but ha-ha, there is justification to get milk at the gas station, which is what they did, thwarting your heteronormative patriarchal expectations.  Or something like that.

If you ask your son, “Did you finish all your homework?” and he starts with “Actually . . . ” well, as parents, we are immediately suspicious. [1]  He may be deciding how to answer while he’s stringing out the “actually.” ….

The rest of the article can be found at Wheat and Tares

Pollard, Belinda: What is a beta reader and why do I need one?

You might have seen the term ‘beta reader’ as you’re browsing writing websites, or maybe this is the first time you’ve heard of it.

Basically, a beta reader gives you feedback on your finished manuscript, so you can adjust it before you set it loose on the world. I consider them the superheroes of self-publishing (and great for traditional publishing, too).

What a weird term!

“Beta reader” has apparently been adapted from the software industry, where programmers release a ‘beta’ version of a new program to people who will test it. The beta version comes after the alpha version (which to a writer might be the first draft). I would have thought the alpha version was the one that goes on sale, but apparently not. Confusing, huh?

Don’t worry, just remember: Beta Reader means someone who evaluates a manuscript.

Beta testers find the bugs and improve the software’s usability before the final “release” version goes on sale. A beta reader tests your manuscript (by reading it), and tells you about the ‘bugs’ so you can improve its readability, its usefulness and even its saleability.

It’s an especially valuable step if you are planning to self-publish, but can also help you in the quest to get an agent or publisher if you are planning on going the traditional route with your book.

How to say it

Unfortunately, it’s one of those tomayto-tomahto kinda words. I say it “beeta”, like most Australians and quite a few Brits. In the US, it often seems to be “bayta”. And apparently in some parts of the world, it’s more like “betta”!

I think the take-home message is: Say “beta readers” however you like, just get some! :-)

Why do I need a beta reader?

The fact is, we spend so much time on our own manuscripts that we can’t see them objectively — no matter how diligently we self-edit. These can be some of the outcomes (there are plenty more):

  • We create anticipation or an expectation early in the book, but forget to deliver on it.
  • We describe events in a way that is clear to us but not clear to a reader who can’t see the pictures in our head. (At least, we hope they can’t see them. Are you looking inside my head??? Eek!)
  • We leave out vital steps in an explanation and don’t realise it, because we know what we mean.
  • The characters in our books (whether fictional, or real as in a memoir or non-fiction anecdote) are not convincing, because we know them so well we don’t realise we haven’t developed them thoroughly on paper………………………….

You can read the rest of this article and other articles regarding Beta-readers on Small Blue Dog Publishing