Monday 28 February 2011

Quote of the week - Descriptions

A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it

Henry Louis Mencken

What I love about this quote is that it illustrates so well how we can shape the way we describe something. We could simply describe what we see. We could describe, as Mr Mencken suggests, its essence based on the personalities of the people who live in it. We could describe it in terms of the thoughts and memories it evokes in us as an author, or for a character in the story. We could describe it from the point of view of its history. There is no end to the different aspects, or combinations of aspects, we can use in a description.

The aspects we chose to use in our descriptions help to define the character of our writing. It places that character under our control and gives us infinite scope for expression.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Pork Pies and a Thank You

First of all, I'd like to say a big thank you to all of my new followers. You are what makes the world go round. Less than three weeks ago I had fifty followers, and now I have nearly a hundred and fifty awesome people following my blog! Thank you all for your support, your lovely comments and your own entertaining, interesting and fun blogs.

In my last post I told a little porky. Lots of you have guessed at it, and some of you got it right, but first I have to say, I love rabbit - Margo makes a spectacularly tasty rabbit pie. In fact game is really quite popular around here. Many restaurants will serve dishes with rabbit, pheasant or venison, and you'll even occasionally find such things as pidgoen. All worth a try, and all really tasty (unless, of course, you're a vegetarian).

I'm also a bit uncouth, really, because I'll have red wine with just about any dish. I don't ignore the 'accompanying wine' recommendations, but I do love a glass of red.

So what was my porky? Well, sorry to disappoint, but I've never wanted to dress up in women's clothes and I've never wanted to play pantomime dame. Sad, aren't I? Thank you to those who said they thought I'd be a great drag queen, although pantomime dame isn't generally regarded as cross dressing around here because of the hairy legs and wellies.

Porky - rhyming slang: Pork pie - lie.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Crusade first challenge - and an award thank you

The challenge is here, and if you click on the link it will all start to make sense (... sort of).

In this post I intend to bloviate interminably on the given subjects for the First Crusade Challenge. One thing I love, more than anything, is to go, with the Lovely Margo, to a restaurant and have some exotic fuliguline or rabbit dish, accompanied by a glass of the red. It's probably annoying to others that I have red wine with inappropriate dishes, but I'm a cool blade, and I don't care.

Margo says that one of my best character traits is that I am a kind and tolerant person. The trouble is I have no time for impatient or intolerant people. There's a conundrum.

Talking of intolerance, I have a secret to share with you. It's something I've never shared with anyone before. (Sound of trumpets heralding an anouncement...)

Here it is....

I've always wanted to dress up in womens' clothes and be the pantomime dame. The combination of hairy legs with wellington boots and a lacy frock... I'd probably have to get some transfers that look like tattoos, and put on a wig, and there you have it. Widow Twanky. Now I've shared my darkest secret I can't wait for the offers to come in for pantomime 2012.

Something I said here is just not true. Can you believe that? Well, sad to say, I've lied. What do you think I lied about?

And now for something completely different...

I've been awarded the Stylish Blogger award by the lovely Misha at My First Book. Thank you, Misha. In order to accept this award I have to:

1. Link back to the award givers (check).
2. State Seven things about myself.
3. Pass on the award to 3 recently discovered bloggers.

Ok, well here goes with seven things about myself:

1: I'm a Scorpio (Libra cusp)
2: I like being different. Can't stand conformity
3: I love pretty much every kind of music.
4: I play guitar, melodeon, bodhran and violin, but I also have (and occasionally play) mandolin, ukulele, phono-fiddle, banjo, lyre, bowed psaltery, appalachian dulcimer, bones, spoons, penny whistle, didgeridoo... need I go on?
5: Margo is the one. (No. This doesn't rate #5 in my priorities, but I didn't want to come across as too sappy)
6: We don't have a gas supply here, but the previous people here installed a gas fire that runs off bottled gas. It has a remote control. (Oooh! I hear you say).
7: North Devon, UK, where we live is the most windy, rainy place on planet Earth.

And here I pass the award on to three recently discovered bloggers whose blogs I enjoy:

Shelly Batt
Gen @ Living On Earth
Liz @ Laws of Gravity

Do drop in on them and say Hi!

Friday 18 February 2011

Quote of the week - Communication

The problem with communication... is the illusion that it has been accomplished.

George Bernard Shaw

The Four Facets of Communication

I see four facets of verbal communication that have an impact on its effectiveness.

1 - What I intended to say

2 - The words I used

3 - The words the listener heard

4 - What the listener thought I said

What I Intended to Say

This could be very simple, but mostly what we say is not as simple as we might think. As an example, I might say “it's time for lunch”. There is a lot of meaning in this that is not conveyed simply by the words. I always have a hot lunch, but you may not know that. When I say it's time for lunch, I haven't made it clear that this means I want to eat hot food within a few minutes rather than maybe within a couple of hours. What I think I have conveyed with these few words is largely dependent on my world picture.

The Words I Used

These are just a representation of what I intended to say. Words are never a perfect representation of the intended message, since they are hampered by both the limitations of the language, and the speaker's command of the language. I choose the words based on my experience of what I think it would take to convey what I intended to say. If I am talking to someone face to face, then I also have body language information that I have conveyed to the recipient, whether I am aware of it or not. If I am using a phone, or a video-conference, then some dimensions of the body language are lost, and if I am using written word, then most of the dimensions of body language are lost (but not all – think about such aspects as the exact timing of when you convey the written words).

The Words the Listener Heard

Normally we like to think this is exactly the same as the words I used. Unfortunately it frequently happens that someone hears something different from what was said. This can happen due to background noise, unclear speaking, conflicting body language, listeners expectations and many other causes.

What the Listener Thought I Said

The listener heard certain words, but the way they interpret them, and hence the message that they receive, is coloured by their world view. It is very likely that whoever you are talking to will have a different world view than you, and the more different their world view, the more likelihood there is of a misunderstanding.

So What?

As a writer these facets of communication affect me in two basic ways. Firstly the written word, as much as speech, is subject all four facets, and this can easily lead to the reader getting something different from my writing than intended.

Secondly I can use these facets to bring some spice to the dialoge between my characters. This can be surprisingly difficult to do, but if done well, can lead to some intriguing situations in the story.

The 'Four Facets of Communication' is an extract from my non-fiction ms 'Balancing Act'

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Bernard Pivot Blogfest and...

Today, February 16th is the Bernard Pivot Blogfest, hosted by the fabulous Nicole Duclerior at her blog One Significant Moment at a Time. For more about the blogfest you can see details, including links to all the participants here. The idea is to get to know eachother by answerin the Bernard Pivot questionairre.

Here it is, with my answers:

1. What is your favorite word?


2. What is your least favorite word?


3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Music has always been a passion of mine and I find it truly inspiring. There is one problem though. If I have music playing while I write, I find myself staring into space, enjoying the music, instead of writing. Sadly that means I usually write in silence.

4. What turns you off?

Inconsiderate behaviour or unkindness, most body fluids, politicians.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

Bugger! If you've never said it - with passion - you really must try.

6. What sound or noise do you love?

Pop - glug, glug, glug...

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

Persistent barking from my neighbor's dogs (or is it from my neighbor?)

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I always thought it would be fun to be an astronaut.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

There's a really nice chap who comes here once every couple of years to empty our sceptic tank. I *really* don't want his job.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

101 was a great old age, well done!

Thanks for coming by. Do drop in on the other participants and say Hi to them. Thanks Nicole for a fun blogfest.

...and Thank You

I'd like to say a big thank you to J C Martin, Fighter Writer for awarding me the Write Hard award.

I'm particularly grateful because J C Martin has been an inspiration to me. Her writing is amazing, her talent is great and she is a lovely person. If you haven't seen her blog, then please do visit it here. You'll be glad you did.

Monday 14 February 2011

A Valentine's Day Wish

I'd like to wish everyone a happy Valentine's Day.

Today the wonderful Margo and I had a romantic Valentine's day lunch followed by a walk in the Broomhill Sculpture Gardens. Now we're settling with a Rusty Nail and looking forward to a cosy evening together.

I am blessed to be married to the most wonderful person in the Universe.

The button I've shown was created by Jules at Trying To Get Over The Rainbow. Share the Love 2011. It's a great way to say thank you for reading my blog and to pass on the love.

Saturday 12 February 2011

Quote of the week

With Valentine's Day coming up I thought I'd bring you one of my favourite quotes from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. This verse is one that my dad used to quote to my mum when he was being romantic. This is from Edward Fitzgerald's second edition of his translation.

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness,

Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Image, Edmund Dulac Art Images. If you like this image, then please take a look at his website here