“I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem.”

“Had it not been for this unscheduled series of events, her daughter and I would not have fallen in love. And I would still be eating lobster every Tuesday night.
Incredible.”

Opening and Closing Lines from “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion.

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Writing Inspiration: The Rosie Project

Quotations, Quotes, writing inspiration

What is SEO?

Jargon, Tips, Website, Writers Resources, Writing

The other day someone asked me what exactly SEO is. It’s a good question, and one that I’m amazed I’ve never thought to answer on the blog before, because I know that I have mentioned it in posts a few times, in the past.

SEO basically stands for Search Engine Optimisation.

In Layman’s Terms this means optimising, or setting your website up, so that Search Engine’s (predominantly Google, but also Bing, Yahoo etc) can find the website and index it appropriately.

Search Engine’s being able to index your website well is incredibly important, because this is how people will find you when they search for specific keywords or terms. Therefore, SEO is the act of placing relevant keywords and terms into your content, so that people can find you – easily – through whichever search engine they choose to use.

For most people, SEO comes relatively naturally, because you instinctively create content that is relevant to your target audience. Sometimes, it is helpful to do some research to discover which keywords are popular at the moment, but if you know your audience well, it is often a matter of “common sense” and just using your initiative.

Nevertheless, never be tempted to “stuff” your content with keywords that you know are guaranteed to get a lot of hits, unless they are genuinely relevant to your content.

The problem with stuffing content with irrelevant but popular keywords is that you will:

  1. Annoy anyone who clicks on your link, on Google, only to discover that your website has absolutely nothing to do with what you are looking for
  2. What is the point of drawing in a lot of people who are not interested in what you have to offer? Sure, you’ll have big hits, but don’t expect any follow-throughs (sales, queries etc!)
  3.  Search Engines are actually pretty smart – they can tell when a website is attempting to, some might say “deceive”, people into coming to their site, and there is a potential that your site will be penalised for doing it, which probably won’t do you any favours.

 

Grammar: Useful Rhyme

Word of the Week, Writing

I can’t take any credit for this rhyme, but I find it useful for remembering the difference between nouns, pronouns, adjectives etc and I thought that you guys might find it useful as well:

Every name is called a NOUN,

As FIELD and FOUNTAIN, STREET and TOWN;

In place of noun, the PRONOUN stands,

As HE and SHE can clap their HANDS;

The ADJECTIVE describes a thing,

As MAGIC wand and BRIDAL ring;

The VERB means actions, something done –

TO READ, TO WRITE, TO JUMP, TO RUN;

How things are done, the ADVERBS tell,

As QUICKLY, SLOWLY, BADLY, WELL;

The PREPOSITION shows relation,

As IN street, or AT the station;

CONJUNCTIONS join in many ways,

Sentences, words OR phrase AND phrase;

The INTERJECTION cries out “Hark!”

I need an exclamation mark!

Through poetry, we learn each of these

Make up THE PARTS OF SPEECH.

Grammar: One Word or Two?

Writing

Something that I touched on in my blog post about word that I commonly misspell, related to “all right” and “a lot” being two words. Since writing that post, I’ve come to realise that there are actually quite a few words that are similar, whereby getting it wrong creates the completely wrong mean or you’re just using a word that doesn’t actually exist. Here are a few of the one that trip me up, and how you should really be spelling them:

Alright / All right

The word “alright” does not exist, so just remember the phrase “It is either All Right or All Wrong” to remind you that it is either two words, or it’s wrong!

Alot / A lot

Again, the word “alot” doesn’t exist either, so it is always two words…try to remember that if you have a lot of something you can spread them out, so imagine that you’re spreading a lot of letter out! Yeah, that made sense in my head, but doesn’t sound quite so good now that I’ve typed it out, but hopefully you can grasp the point that I was at least trying to make!

Altogether / All together

Anyone / Any one

Everyday / Every day

Everyone / Every one

This time, both spellings are correct, depending on your overall meaning. However, for me, this is a confusing one, because both words have quite similar meanings, no matter how they are spelt, but the word that you use alters the way that you say it.

This is actually my second attempt at explaining this, because – as I’ve said – I do find it a little confusing, and I wanted to make it as easy as possible. The easiest way, I feel, to describe which word is correct, is to determine what you are trying to convey.

For example, if you are describing something as a collective, or as a whole then you only want one word – which makes sense. Nevertheless, if you are describing something that is a small part of the collective, then it is two words.

 Into / In To

I’ve noticed that “into” and “in to” have been catching me out a lot recently, and I have spent more time than I care to admit trying to decide which one is the correct usage for what I am writing.

The term “into” is the action of literally doing an action, for example: “I’m going to dive into the ocean”, whilst “in to” is more a description of what you are going to do, for example: “When I reach the ocean, I go in to a dive.”

Always / All Ways

Always is similar to “into” and “in to”, but I think this rhyme helps to remember which spelling you want:

I always get lost at the Shopping Centre

All ways lead to the Shopping Centre

Okay, so all ways probably don’t lead to the Shopping Centre, but hopefully it helps to figure it out 😉

 

Confusing Nouns and Verbs

Word of the Week, Writing

Following on from yesterday’s blog post about the words that I commonly misspell (Ha! Got it right first time!), I  decided to share another issue that a lot of us have, and that is knowing when certain words have an “s” in them, and when they have a “c” in them.

For example:

  • Advice / Advise
  • Prophecy / Prophesy
  • Licence / License
  • Practice / Practise
  • Device / Devise

The word that catches me out the most is definitely practice/practise, and I know that the two words have different meanings but I can just never remember.

The Secret

The secret to figuring out whether each word has a “c” or an “s” is to look at the meaning of the word that you’re trying to write. For example:

The definition of “Advice” is:

an opinion that someone offers you about what you should do or how you should act in a particularsituation

As the word is described as an “opinion”, this makes the word a “thing”, or something that is being named, therefore this is a Noun.

On the other hand the definition of the word “advise” is:

to give someone advice

Therefore, the act of actually giving advice, making the word a “verb” – or a doing word.

As another example, the word practice would be used to describe the physical or metaphorical building, making it a Noun, whilst practise would be used to describe the action of what is practised within the practice.

Layman’s Terms

  1. If it is a Noun, it is a word that is naming something specific
  2. This means that you spell it with a “c”
  3. If it is a Verb, it is a word that is describing the action of the Noun
  4. This means that you spell it with an “s”

Remember: Nouns Name, and Verbs Describe an Action.

 

Words that I Commonly Misspell

Word of the Week, Writing

As writers, there is this idea lodged into our brains that we have to be perfect at spelling and grammar, but I will be the first to admit that there are a few words that catch me out, every single time. I would – quite literally – be lost without my Dictionary. The most annoying thing is that these are words that I should know, because I have probably written them a million times before, and I know that I should know better.

Nevertheless, here are the words that I commonly misspell:

Misspell:

It seems so ironic to start with a word taken from this blog posts title, but it’s true. My brain gets confused by the s’s and I automatically want to write “mispell”!

Accidentally:

For me, “accidentally” is a victim of localised speech, whereby I spell it the way that I say it (kind of like how “could have” has become “could of” to a lot of people on Facebook!). So, because I don’t pronounce the “tally”, but rather pronounce it more “tly”, that is how I spell it.

Other words that fit into this category include: allege (I want to put a “d” in between the “e” and “g” because it sounds like there is one in there when the word is said out loud!)

Liaison:

Silent letters are the little devils of the English language, hence the second “i” is often missing!

Rhyme and Rhythm:

Those darn silent letters are out to get me. Now, when it comes to “rhyme” and “rhythm”, I always know that there is an “h” and a “y” in there, but I just cannot remember which way around they go!

Accommodate and Accumulate:

Ironically, when I wrote the word “accommodate” down in my book of misspelled words, I managed to miss out one of the “m”‘s. Anyway, I’m putting this two words together, purely because they are the opposite of each other, but create the same problem: is there one “m” or two?

Necessary:

I know that there are both “c” and “s” in this word, and I know that there is one of one of them, and two of the other. However, I can never remember which way around.

The same happens with “harass” 0r is it “harrass”, as I wrote in my book – again with the irony!

All Right and A Lot:

Two words. These are two words, not one. I must remember that! Also applies to “after all”.

Broccoli:

Brocoli? Broccolli? Brocolli? Yep, another case of how many “c” and how many “l”! Also see “Caribbean”, how many “r” and “b”? And “parallel”, I just have “l” all over the place!

Separate:

In my head, this should be spelled “seperate”…maybe I should start my own dictionary. This also works for “desperate”, except this time it is an “e” whilst I always want to write an “a”.

Humorous:

Funnily enough, this is a word that I do indeed find quite “humorous”. As an English gal, it’s easy to want to add that all-important “u”, that Americanisation likes to remove, such as in the word “colour” or even (of course) “humour”, which is where things – for me, at least – get a bit confusing. Whilst “humour” does indeed have a “u” in British English, the word “humorous” does not. Explain that one to me!

Consensus:

Kind of similar to the word “humorous”, I want to spell it as “concensus”, purely because of the word “census”! Sometimes the English language really does prove to be quite inconsistent with spelling!

Coincidentally, my dictionary just had a mild heart attack spell-checking this blog post, and I can imagine it screaming something along the line of: **So many errors. Must correct them. Mean blogger will not let me. Will self-destruct instead**

What words trip you up every time?

Do you have methods to remind you about particular spellings?

Camp NaNoWriMo: Why You Should Take Part!

Camp NaNoWriMo, Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo Why You Should Take Part

 

April 1st is nearly upon us, which can mean only one thing, right? What, no I don’t mean the day when you make fool of all your family and friends – well, it is, but no, it is also the beginning of this years writing marathons; Camp NaNoWriMo.

It’s easy to think: “What’s the point of taking part in a writing month, when the ‘real deal’ takes place in November?”

It’s true that NaNoWriMo is much more popular than it’s summer alternatives, so at times it can be difficult to find the support base (if you find one at all) to help get you through the month. Which, of course, often means that you need to move forward on your own motivation, but there are immense benefits, but the most important way to look at is, is as a:

Introduction to NaNoWriMo

For a lot of writers – including those who have done it before – the sheer notion of writing 50,000 words in just 30-days is just mind-numbingly, well, we often believe that it is not going to happen. The truth is, it is possible to do, but yep, it takes a lot of hard-work, dedication and a support-unit is always helpful.

However, despite the lack of support (although, don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of support, it’s just very different and on a much smaller scale), Camp NaNoWriMo should be seen as a “light” version of the main event. Why? Because you get full control of how many words you choose to have as your overall monthly goal.

Sure, many writers do choose to work towards 50,000 words, and some crazy so-and-so’s (who I have a lot of respect for) even go a lot high higher than that, but if the idea of writing 50,000 words puts you into a mild state of panic, then don’t feel pressurised into doing that. If you don’t want to jump in with both feet, that is okay, and no one will judge you. If you feel more comfortable dipping your toes in, to test the water and see how well you can do initially – that is absolutely fine.

Personally, I did 15,000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo in 2013, and I managed to whip that out in just over two weeks, whilst other months it could take me the entire month to get that many words out – so, I guess you just have to trust yourself and your instincts.

Another awesome thing about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you don’t even have to write a novel, if you don’t want to: perhaps you are working on a script, or a book of poetry – work on whatever you like, because it all counts!

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself signed up and I will see you at the starting line first thing tomorrow 😉