Tuesday 2 March 2021

Do You Have a Favourite Word?

 A few weeks ago, an authoress whose newsletter I subscribe to (Christine Bernard. Check her out) sent out an email, asking people what their favourite words are.

This got me thinking. I really enjoy the old irregular past tense forms of words and use them whenever they're available. Words like shone, dreamt, learnt, etc. Personally, I just feel like those "old" forms are more poetic, more aesthetically beautiful. In fact, if I'm reading a book and I read dived or sneaked, my brain always translates them to dove or snuck.

Having recently read Lynn Murphy's The Prodigal Tongue: The Love–Hate Relationship Between British and American English, I now know that the Americans sought to simplify the language, remove exceptions, and make it seem more normalised and standardised, easier to learn.

I can understand that, and I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with it, but I've never been a fan of that approach, neither in English nor in Software Development. I think the goal of having "one-size-fits-all" rules that you can apply in any situation makes life boring. It's why I was never very good at maths: maths requires learning a set of hard-and-fast rules, and I feel it doesn't really allow people to exercise their own judgment or think about the context. I don't want to live in a world where two plus two always equals four, with no room for interpretation. I want to live in a world where if the art requires it, two plus two can be three or five. Just because I feel like it. Hard rules scare me.

For similar artistic reasons, I'm also a fan of gender-specific terms for things. I like waitress vs waiter, hostess and actress vs host and actor, editrix and dominatrix (heh) vs editor and dominator.... There are hundreds more of these that we don't use anymore, or use very seldom. Comedienne, anyone?

Obviously, that’s a bit more controversial in today’s world, where a person’s gender can differ from their sex. Still, to me it’s more poetic and beautiful, and, as long as you use the form that respects a person’s preferred pronoun, I see nothing wrong with it. And if the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun, or they're someone who doesn't want their gender known, then go ahead and use a "generic" form. But please don't use server as a substitute for waiter/waitress; after a lifetime in IT, it's all-but impossible for me to think of a "server" as anything other than a computer! (Waitron works, though, I guess. It's better than server, at any rate.)

True, some of these are a bit clunky and old-fashioned these days. I described Christine Bernard as an "authoress" above to be ironic, but in general, I would still refer to a female author as an author. Same with a female editor. I guess that also has something to do with the fact that in my experience dealing mostly with indie authors and their editors, most of them tend to be women anyway, these days (I think traditional publishing is still largely male-dominated, but traditional publishing is becoming less relevant with every passing day).

Also, I'm rather fond of compound contractions: wouldn't've and shouldn't've are pretty awesome! And I feel like we've lost a lot by dropping thee and thou, because other languages still have different words for formal and informal address, and that was our thee and thou.

Of course, none of that answers the question of what my favourite word is. I guess my all-time favourite word, and I wish it would come back into vogue, is hitherto. Once again, it just has a nice mouth-feel to me.

What about you? Do you have a favourite word in the English language? Do you agree with mine? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Valentine's Day: Do You Love It or Hate It?

Valentine's Day, huh? Some love it, some hate it.

Let me ask you a question: have you ever been in love with someone who had no idea you existed? I'm talking head-over-heels infatuated, obsessed with them.

I know I have, and it hurt more than I can put into words.

Now, let me ask you this: did that person eventually start to notice you, talk to you, be nice to you? 

I bet that felt amazing. But how do you know they weren't just using you?

That's the dilemma that a young woman called Carla faces, in my romantic crime story, Heritage of Deceit. She's been desperately in love with one of her colleagues at the office for the longest time, and had finally resigned herself to the idea that it wasn't to be.

One day, he starts paying attention to her, seeking her out, even asking her on a date!

Of course, she's over the moon, but is there something more to his attention? Could it be that she just had something he wants, and he's using her affections for him to get his hands on it?

If you'd like to buy the book and find out what happens, click the cover below to view it on my website. It's available in ebook or paperback format from a whole range of outlets. You'll find all the links 

Already read it?

If you've already read and enjoyed Heritage of Deceit, then please consider sharing this blog post with all your friends and family on social media. Every little bit helps.

Also, have you written a review for it on Goodreads? Don't forget, your review could win you $5....

Tuesday 26 January 2021

Here's Your Favourite Book of All Time (For 2021)

 Happy New Year!

I'm a week late with these results, I know. Sorry about that, but look on the bright side: you had more time to vote....

And now, I can tell you that for the second year in a row, the book you voted as your favourite book of all time is....

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

by J. R. R. Tolkien

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. 

If you haven't read this book yet, you really should consider picking up a copy. It truly is a classic, a hallmark of modern fantasy literature!

Click the cover to find out where you can get your hands on a copy.

Tuesday 12 January 2021

If You Do What You Love, You'll Never Work a Day in Your Life?

 We’ve all heard the famous Marc Anthony quote: If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

As an author, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. 

In the first place, let’s get this clear: I believe all authors should be fairly paid for their work. But I’m not a subscriber to the above philosophy. Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take what you love doing and turn it into something you rely on for an income.

I think as soon as what you love becomes your sole source of income, you start to love it a little less, and resent it a little more every day.

I’m an author, and like most authors, I have a day job. In my case, that’s software development. I love it and would never want to leave it. Most days, it’s a joy to go to work, but other days... it’s just a job. It’s what I have to do, regardless of whether I’m in the mood, whether I’m feeling particularly inspired, or whether the project I’ve been assigned speaks to me.

It’s my job, and I’m okay with that.

The thing is, I never want that to become my writing reality. I love writing; I love telling stories, and I love the idea of people reading them and reviewing them (a little extra pocket money doesn’t hurt either, because authors, like any artists, should be fairly compensated for their work).

I guess that’s a big part of why it never occurred to me to pursue traditional publishing. I want to write and publish on my terms and only on my terms. I never want to have obligations or deadlines, or feel like I have to compromise the stories I want to tell — and how I present and package them — just to survive.

I know that for plenty of authors, writing full time is the ultimate dream. It’s not my dream, and I wonder how many of those authors have really considered what a full-time career as an author would mean, in terms of all those sacrifices and obligations. 

I’m also intimately aware that not everyone is as lucky as I am. Not everybody has a job that fulfils, challenges, and lifts them up. Many authors are stuck in soul-destroying day jobs that suck all their creativity away, for whom getting up in the morning is something they dread more than anything. To those people, I might say to be even more careful about dreaming of a full-time writing career. Not only is the grass always greener on the other side, but when you’re in this situation, it feels like absolutely anything would be better than what you’re going through now.

To these people, I’d say they should absolutely look for a different job. Perhaps in the same career but a different company with different people (that can make a massive difference to your job satisfaction), perhaps in a slightly different career: one that exercises their creative muscle somewhat, perhaps closer to writing — blog posts or marketing copy or something? — but not the kind of writing that fills them with joy. That kind of writing should be reserved for their relaxation time. The times when they feel inspired. The times when they’re moved and called to write. Not things they’re forced to do in order to make a living and survive.

What do you think?

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Win a $5 Ebook Voucher Every Month. Here's How...

Do you enjoy writing reviews? Do you wax lyrical on Goodreads, for hundreds and hundreds of words, describing in fine detail what you liked about the last book you read?

Or do you consider yourself not much of a writer, but you still enjoy bashing out a few sentences on Goodreads, to let the world know you enjoyed it?

What if you got rewarded for your efforts with free ebooks every month?

Would you like that?

Are you on both Facebook and Goodreads?

Well then, you, my friend, have come to the right place!

Ebook Vouchers for Reviews

All you have to do is go to Goodreads and write a review for one of my books

Then, post a link to that review in our private Facebook group, Graham’s Super Secret Reader’s Circle.

Before you can post in that group, you need to be a member. And before you can join the group, you need to be on my email mailing list.

Sign up Today

Click here to visit the Get Free Stuff page on my website. You can choose from a selection of my books to get free as a “Thank you” for signing up. You can write a review for this book and use it as an entry into the competition!

Once you’ve selected which book you would like, enter your email address and tick the boxes to agree to receive emails from me. 

Click Send Me My Free Book and follow the instructions in the email you receive.

Your initial “Welcome” email will also contain instructions on how to join the secret Facebook group. Follow those steps, then wait for me to approve your group membership (don’t worry, you’ll be able to leave the group at any time, but in order to enter the monthly competition, you must remain a member).

Once approved, be sure to read the full terms and conditions of the competition in the Pinned Post at the top of the group.

Good luck!

Tuesday 29 December 2020

My Favourite Books of 2020

 It's time again for my favourite books of the year. Of all the books I read during the course of 2020, these are the books I gave five star reviews to. Which is quite an achievement, because if you know me and follow my reviews regularly, you'll know that I'm very strict with my ratings. For me to give a book five stars, it has to be perfect. I mean absolutely flawless. It needs a perfect plot and perfect editing, with not a single typo or writing issue.

And this year has been a bumper year, because there are no less than five of them!

So without further ado, here they are, covers and synopsis. Click on the cover to read my review of the book in question on Goodreads, or click the link below each one to find out where you can get your hands on a copy.

Mute by Christine Bernard


Is it possible to live in the world without speech? How much would you change if you had to live only in your head?

This is exactly what thirty-three-year old Rebecca Marley is about to find out, as she embarks on this self-induced nine-month challenge. Will it be the peaceful reprise that she so desperately seeks? Or will she be forced to face aspects of herself that a noisy world helps hide so well?

[ Buy this Book ]

The Giver by Lois Lowry


In a perfect world, Jonas begins to see the flaws…

THE GIVER is the classic award-winning novel that inspired the dystopian genre and a major motion picture adaptation for 2014 starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift.

It is the future. There is no war, no hunger, no pain. No one in the community wants for anything. Everything needed is provided. And at twelve years old, each member of the community has their profession carefully chosen for them by the Committee of Elders.

Twelve-year old Jonas has never thought there was anything wrong with his world. But from the moment he is selected as the Receiver of Memory, Jonas discovers that their community is not as perfect as it seems.

It is only with the help of the Giver, that Jonas can find what has been lost. And it is only through his personal courage that Jonas finds the strength to do what is right…

The Giver is the award-winning classic of bravery and adventure that has inspired countless dystopian writers as the forerunner of this genre.

[ Buy this Book ]

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson


Technology makes them superhuman. But mere mortals want them kept in their place. Enter a stunning world where technology and humanity clash in terrifying and surprising ways.

Some people are implanted with upgrades that make them capable of superhuman feats. The powerful technology has profound consequences for society, and soon a set of laws is passed that restricts the abilities - and rights - of 'amplified' humans.

On the day that the Supreme Court passes the first of these laws, 29-year-old Owen Gray discovers that his seizure-supressing medical implant is actually a powerful upgrade. Owen joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as 'amps' and is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumoured, a group of the most enhanced amps are about to change the world - or destroy it.

[ Buy this Book ]

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry


The fascinating sequel to THE GIVER which inspired the dystopian genre and is soon to be a major motion picture starring Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift.

GATHERING BLUE is a return to the mysterious but plausible future world of THE GIVER. It tells the story of Kira, orphaned, physically flawed, and left with an uncertain future until she is summoned by the Council of Guardians…

On her quest for truth that follows, Kira makes discoveries that will change her life and world forever.
Award-winning author Lois Lowry challenges readers to imagine what our world could become, how people could evolve and what could be considered valuable in this fascinating follow-up to THE GIVER.

[ Buy this Book ]

Messenger by Lois Lowry


Strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to new strangers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village's closing and try to convince Seer's daughter to return with him before it's too late. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.

[ Buy this Book ]

Do you agree with my picks? Or have I given you any great books to add to your TBR pile?

Of all the books you read in 2020, which ones are your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.

See you in 2021!

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Here's the shortlist: Your Favourite Book of all Time

 As promised last month, the shortlist is out for your favourite book of all time is out.

See below for the list, and vote for your favourite.

If your favourite book of all time isn't on the shortlist, then I apologise; you'll get another opportunity next year. In the meantime, vote for your favourite out of the following:

Just like last time, I'll keep this voting open for a month or so, and I'll announce the winner on 19 January 2021.

Good luck!