Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the month “August, 2011”

Sum werdz too wotch owte four

There is nothing better than picking up a book, newspaper, or turning to a blog post, that is full of typos, spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. If you need hours of entertainment I highly recommend playing “Spot the Error”.

Now I can’t claim to be an expert in all things writing, so instead I have found this great article from Mike at the Book Making blog to help. 

Accommodate has a double “c” AND a double “m.” 

A lot is two words, not one. 

Argument does not have an “e” like “argue.” 

Awhile or A while can both be legitimate. The noun is spelled as two words: “I napped for a while.” The adverb is spelled as a single word: “I napped awhile.” 

Believe follows the old “i-before-e except after c” rule. However, foreign, forfeit, sovereign, surfeit, caffeine, casein, codeine, either, geisha, inveigle, keister, leisure, neither, protein, seize, sheik, and Sheila do not. 

Bellwether has nothing to do with the weather. A “wether” is a castrated sheep or goat that wears a bell and leads a herd. The lack of cojones made it less likely that the leader of the pack would stray. 

Cannot v. can not: “Cannot” is a word, one word. Some word mavens insist that it is not supposed to be split into two words. This is weird, because “can” and “not” are legitimate words. I won’t be pissed off if you can not go along with “cannot.” 

Carburetor has just one “a,” like “car.” 

Cemetery does not end in “ary” or begin with “s.” 

Changeable, unlike argument, retains its “e” so you know the “g” is soft, pronounced like “j.” 

Collectible is not “able.” No rule applies here, just memory. 

Coolly has a double “l” when it’s not a noun. When it is a noun, it’s spelled “coolie.” 

Criteria v. criterion: Confusing these two nouns is a common error, even among highly educated people. “Criteria” is the plural of “criterion,” but many people aren’t even aware of the word “criterion.” If you’re discussing various requirements that must be met, use “criteria” but if you are writing about one major requirement to be met, use “criterion.” (During Sheila’s many years as a technical writer, one of her colleagues — an English major who graduated from a top college — was working on a software users’ manual that dealt with various criteria. But, when this writer referred to one criterion, she continued to use “criteria.” How did she graduate, especially as an English major?) 

Deceive does obey the “i before e except after c” rule. So does receive, but not frequencies or science or species. 

Drunkenness should have a double “n” when spelled by so­ber people. 

Dumbbell has a double “b,” you dummy (not “dumby”). 

Embarrass (ment) has a double “r” and a double “s.” 

Epic is a big important book, poem, or movie. Epoch is an im­portant era. You can write an epic about an epoch. 

Exceed does not end with “cede.” Nothing exceeds like excess. 

Existence does not have an “a.” 

Flier is someone who flies (not “flys”). It’s also a leaflet, or a golf ball that goes too far. Airlines frequently say “frequent flyer.” They’re frequently wrong. 

Flyer can be part of a proper name for transportation (“Radio Flyer,” “Flexible Flyer,” “Rocky Mount­ain Flyer”) or a sports team (“Philadelphia Fly­ers” and “Dayton Flyers”), or even sneak­­ers (“PF Flyers”). 

Gauge is a verb or a noun with a silent “u.” For the thickness of wire or metal, or the space between train rails, or the size of a shotgun, you can ditch the “u.” Gouge means to scoop, dig, swindle, or extort; or a tool for gouging. 

Grateful has just one “e.” It’s not so great. It has the same root as “gratitude.” 

Guarantee does not end like “warranty” except in a proper name like Morgan Guaranty Trust. 

Harass has just one set of double letters.

Inoculate has no double letters. 

Jibe (NOT Jive) means to agree. Jibe and gibe mean to taunt. Jibe also means to move a sail to change direction. 

Layout is a noun. Lay out is a verb. A designer will lay out a layout. 

Lightning is the spark in the sky, or part of the name of Lightning Source, the printer of this book. Lightening removes weight. 

Maintenance has just one “ain,” unlike “maintain.” 

Maneuver is a French-ish word, that’s easier to spell than the British version: “manoeuvre.” 

Medieval refers to the MIDdle Ages, but is spelled more like “medium.” Some of those wacky Brits use “mediaeval.” (TA note: Brits founded the language they are more likely to be right) 

Memento reminds you of a moment, but the first vowel is an “e” not an “o.” Don’t ask why; just remember it. 

Millennium was spelled wrong millions of times back in 1999 and 2000. It still is. It gets a double “l” and a double “n.” 

Minuscule means mini, but it’s spelled more like “minus” (except when it’s being spelled by people who prefer “miniscule.”) Pick one version, and be consistent. 

Misspell is frequently misspelled. It needs a double “s” but no hyphen. 

Noticeable gets a silent “e” to keep the “c” from being pronounced like a “k.” 

Occasionally has a double set of double consonants.

Occurrence has two traps: the occurrence of double double consonants, and “ence” not “ance” at the end. 

Pharaoh uses the “a” twice. 

Plenitude is right. Plentitude is wrong, but is used a lot. 

Possession possesses two double letters. 

Principal is a school’s boss or the most important element of something. A principle is a rule or an important point. 

Privilege is not edgy. It has no “d.” 

Reevaluate does not have a hyphen. (TA note: my spell checker doesn’t agree. Don’t trust your spell checker!) 

Relevant is not “revelant,” “revelent” or “relevent.” 

Separate has an “a” as the second vowel. 

Sergeant, unlike the affectionate “Sarge,” has no “a” up front, but it does have a silent “a” later on. 

Sleight of hand is a group of techniques magicians use to secretly manipulate objects. It’s not “slight of hand” or “slide of hand, “Sleight” comes from an Old Norse word for clev­erness, cunning, and slyness.

Supersede is not spelled like “succeed” or “precede” and may be the only “sede” word we have. 

Threshold does not have a double “h.” 

Until gets just one “l” even though it’s often a perfect substitute for “till.” Wilson Pickett sang, Wait Till the Midnight Hour or Wait ‘Til the Midnight Hour, depending on who transcribed the lyrics. 

Weird is weird because it breaks the “i before e except after c.” rule. Seize is weird, too.

This, of course, ignores all the fun that can be had with the incorrect way that Americans spell words like neighbour (neighbor), centre (center) and metre (meter – in fairness the Americans do prefer to crash billions of dollars worth of scientific equipment into Mars rather than use the metric system).

Thanks again to Mike at the Book Making blog.

Trying Hard

A lot of people like to talk about talent. Somehow you are either born with talent or you are doomed to only ever write meaningless emails and policy documents in a carpet lined cubicle. The “born with talent” hypothesis does tend to necessitate ignoring all the time and effort spent learning to: read, write, conjugate verbs and using a keyboard to hit your agent with. Clearly anyone born with talent doesn’t need anything other than to crawl out of the womb and sit down in front of a computer. Every great novelist started this way, publishing their first book not long after they learnt to walk.
The rest of us have to try hard, we have to work at writing. There are two types of try hards in writing: the try hard and the trying hard. So are you a try hard or do you try hard?
A TRY HARD
It’s fair to say that their are try hards present in every aspect of life. The attention whore, the rude guy, the politician; all trying hard. These are the people that are going through the motions. They are the continuously frustrating people in front of you in the ATM queue that take forever to withdraw $10. They are the person walking aimlessly in the shopping mall who suddenly stop to stare at their feet. Try hards lack purpose and drive, but most of all they seem to be everywhere sabotaging others efforts with their very presence.
In writing we are starting to see more try hards. The “I can’t afford an editor” and the “they wanted me to make changes, screw them” self published authors are great examples. Stephen Leather made the point that it seems odd that there is more talk of marketing than there is of writing in the self publishing world: the try hards at work once again. Their presence sabotages everyone else, except for those already successful, they exist in an altered plain of reality where beer is always cold and spending hours writing gives you sculpted abs, something every successful author needs.

TRYING HARD
Then there are those who are trying hard to make the most of things. This is what you do in order to achieve things: work. Now you may not have natural talent, ability or wads of cash that you use specifically for lighting cigars, but you are working at it. Hard work and effort directed at your writing craft, study on writing techniques, research on your story, general goofing around on the internet; all aimed at improving your skills. Trying hard isn’t just about the writing though, it is about bringing your voice to an audience. Are you really a writer if no-one has actually read your work? Are you really a writer if you have wads of cash specifically for lighting cigars?
Trying hard is all about putting the effort into the important stuff. Try hards are out to cut corners and impress everyone. The people who are working hard know that there are no short cuts – except that left at Albuquerque. Impressing people comes from a job well done, not by bragging to everyone about it.
Or of course you could just get a room full of typewriters and monkeys.

Hard-copy books need to fight

There is a call to arms for all lovers of books. No longer can we stand by and have e-books take our readers. They may take our ink, they may take our paper, but they may never take our reading material!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/ct-oped-0804-books-20110804,0,3970003.story

I think they are right. Books have been derailed by technology. So, to combat this, I have recruited a top advertising agency to help out. They will be promoting the smell, feel, taste and texture of real books. The smell of gold leaf that was painstakingly applied by the hands of a skilled monk. The smell of candle wax that was used for light by the monks. The texture of papyrus and hemp paper. The acrid taste in your mouth from inhaling calligraphy inks. The weight of a clay or stone tablet as it crushes your hands.

Gutenburg was wrong when he brought in mass production print. We must fight back and stop these false books from becoming the norm.

Rally behind the stone tablet and the scroll. Say no to the printing press!

Training Masterclass #4

We have come to the last in the Training Masterclass videos. In the previous three Training Masterclass posts (12, 3) I presented my friend Dan and his training videos. I hope that you have all learnt about back training, blasting that chest, and performing a chin-up that will impress friends. The last in this series is arguably the most important: legs.

Call them legs, wheels, pins, gams, or do-hickies, but training the legs is very important. Your legs are your key mobility tool and also the number one device in the fight against obesity. Us desk jockeys spend a lot of time sitting down, a lot of time with the legs doing nothing. It’s definitely time to learn how to bring the sexy in the leg department.

Top 5 Most Over-rated Drinks

Any author needs a drink on hand to help with the hours of writing, research and dicking around. Some great novelists have preferred to have a scotch on hand, others can’t start writing without a pot of coffee. Which brings me to today’s topic: over-rated drinks. For so long there have been a number of beverages that people will wax lyrical about and yet they are really nothing special. Whether it be tradition, reputation or the cool factor, these drinks have earned a coveted place in our society that is not based upon merit, just like Snooki.

1. Coffee
Walk around most cities and you will not be able to travel more than 10 metres without passing a coffee shop. In America this coffee shop will most likely be a Starbucks. The close proximity of these stores is indicative of the unhealthy addiction people have to caffeine. The worst part of it is that you can have a barista spend 5 minutes making you a tall mocha frap with a pump of vanilla and an extra shot of espresso, yet ask them to make you a cup of tea and they hand you a paper cup with some hot water and a tea bag floating in it.

Honestly, why don’t people do cocaine or amphetamines if they need the energy boost?

2. Champagne
Champagne is really just bubbly vinegar. People don’t actually drink the stuff, they spray it all over people they’ve just beaten in a race, or spray it over women who are about to be taken advantage of.

I think the fact that someone invented a glass specifically to make champagne actually palatable says a lot about how bad this drink is.

3. Dry Martini
The Dry Martini is really just paint stripper and methylated spirits served in a fancy glass with an olive in it instead of an old tin with a paint brush sitting in it. Just because James Bond drinks it doesn’t make this a good drink. Remember James Bond was very self destructive and was probably using the Martini to cure his VD.

4. Fruit Juice
There isn’t much to say about a beverage that takes all the goodness of fruit, removes the goodness, keeps the sugar, and adds flavour. There are many popular fruit juices that contain as much as 5% real fruit. There are others that are the equivalent of drinking a can of Coke, except with 2% more fibre. Of course, you could really go out on a limb and eat fruit.

5. Bottled WaterYes, bottled water is over-rated. Especially if the water has added vitamins and nutrients. We get this stuff free from our tap and yet someone managed to bottle it and sell it to us. I bet right now that marketing genius has just closed a sale on a bridge and is heading to the Arctic to sell some Inuits ice.

Scene from Heathers
Officer Milner: [arriving on crime scene] So, what’s the deal?
Officer McCord: Suicide. Double suicide. They shot each other!
Officer Milner: Hey, that’s Kurt Kelly!
Officer McCord: And the line backer, Ram Sweeney.
Officer Milner: My God, suicide. Why?
Officer McCord: [holds up bottle of mineral water found next to one of the bodies] Does *this* answer your question?
Officer Milner: [appalled] Oh man! They were fags?
Officer McCord: [grimly] Listen up: [reading from forged suicide letter]
Officer McCord: “We realized we could never reveal our forbidden love to an uncaring and un-understanding world.”
Officer Milner: [disgusted] Jesus H. Christ!
Officer McCord: The quarterback, buggering the linebacker… [shaking head]
Officer McCord: What a waste!
Officer Milner: Oh, the humanity!

Finding 30 the British Way

Australia has a campaign to get its citizens from becoming Americans, called Find 30. They advocate finding 30 minutes every day to exercise, based on the research that suggests you need 60-90 minutes of moderate activity daily to control weight and health.

The British have taken a slightly different approach to finding 30.

This recreational rioting is fantastic cardio for the British. There is even a bit of resistance training from hurling those rocks at police. It won’t be long and gyms will be offering this group training class. The French might be one of the first to offer this class.

Book Review: Holiday reading

I’m back from my holiday, refreshed, revived and vertical. To kick off my post-holiday blogging I thought I’d review the books that entertained me over the break.

On Writing – Steven King
I finished this book off on a rainy afternoon. I immediately sat down and wrote a lovely little short story that will tie in with my first novel – Overturned Stones. I can’t recommend this memoir highly enough to writers. Although I must warn everyone that you may incur a sore neck from nodding in agreement.

The Emperor’s Tomb – Steve Berry
I bought this book the week it came out in Australia in paperback, only now have I managed to read it. This is another solid thriller from Berry, with Cassiopeia and Cotton trying to stop a power brawl in China. He also touches on the much debunked abiotic oil theory (1, 2).

When the Women Come Out to Dance – Elmore Leonard
This is a collection of Leonard’s short stories; including Fire in the Hole, upon which the TV show Justified is based. There is the characteristic Leonard dialogue and characterisation present in some great little stories. Aside from the last story in the collection, I quite enjoyed this book.

The Dead Man: Blood Mesa – James Reasoner, Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin
In fairness, I actually read this before I went on holiday, but didn’t get around to posting my review. My review: bloody good. Matt and his axe are back and a bunch of archaeologists get the sharp end after the touch of Mr Dark. James has done a great job, as Lee and Will continue to find very talented writers to help with this series.

Implant – Jeffrey Anderson, Michael Wallace
I’ve been plugging away at this book for a while now. I’ve finally given up on it as it hasn’t grabbed me. Nothing wrong with the book – it is well written, the concept is solid, the characters interact well – it just doesn’t appear to be to my taste. I’ll probably come back to this one at a latter date.

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