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!