Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Misspelled and Misused words



In his latest book, The Sense of Style, Harvard cognitive scientist and linguist Steven Pinker explores the most common words and phrases that people stumble over.
It is reminiscent of Strunk and White's classic The Elements of Style, but is based on linguistics and updated for the 21st century.
Pinker has identified the 51 most commonly misused words and phrases from his book and among them are Adverse, Depreciate, Flaunt (a lot of authors get this one wrong), Literally, and Staunch.

For the entire story go here: http://www.theage.com.au/world/our-51-most-commonly-misused-words-and-phrases-20151202-gldkqf.html

To test yourself on commonly misspelled and misused words try these two games:
http://bitecharge.com/play/grammartricky/h3
http://bitechargemedia.com/play/misspelled/h7

I got them all right. How about you?

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Use Grammar Like Yoda


In recognition of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Grammarly have dissected a few classic Yoda-style quotes in order to better understand the patterns that #yodify the English language. Thanks to Grammarly https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check for the infographic.

Yodify your Grammar Infographic



Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The worst typos in the Bible



An extremely rare and valuable edition of the bible went on sale late in 2015. It’s the Sinner’s Bible, the edition brought out by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas in 1631. It included several typos, but the most famous is the omission of the word *not* before the word *adultery* in the Ten Commandments.
The correct wording of Exodus 20: 14 is “You shall not commit adultery.”

There is also a 1682 edition of the bible nicknamed “The Cannibal’s Bible” because of a typo that said, “If the latter husband ate her” in Deuteronomy 24:3, which is meant to read: “If the latter husband hate her.”

All of which is proof, I suppose, that no matter how careful writers and editors might be, there’s always one error that slips through.


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gender Neutral words



Every now and then writers tie themselves in knots over the issue of gender specific terms.

“Suffragette”, for instance, has historic imagery tied to it of women fighting for the right to be allowed to vote. Google it and you’ll find all sorts of cartoons and stories explaining why women were considered not physically or mentally capable of deciding which political candidate to choose. So when a writer uses the word “suffragette” readers get a visual of a specific time in history and all the baggage that went with it.

(Just as an aside here, women first attained the right to vote in South Australia in 1895, and all Australian states permitted it by 1908, a long time before the USA – 1920).

Other female word forms, however, such as Chaucer’s herdess and charmeress, and Shakespeare’s soldieress, have long gone.

Even “waitress” and “stewardess” along with “executrix” mostly disappeared in the 1970s.

My advice would be always to use gender neutral terms, unless you are aiming to give the reader a particular image, such as those of the suffragettes.


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

The world’s costliest typos


Typos can be a lot more than just embarrassing.

Mental Floss has compiled a list of possibly the most expensive typos in the world.
This is why it’s important for everyone to proofread any important document or email before hitting send.

My personal favorite story is the missing hyphen in the coding of NASA’s Mariner I space probe. Five minutes after launch the Mariner had to be recalled because of that missing hyphen which had the spacecraft veering off course. That cost around $80 million. (http://www.wired.com/2009/07/dayintech_0722/)

Then there was the car dealership that mailed out 50,000 scratch tickets, one of which was supposed to be worth $1000. Instead ALL of them were winners. That made a total of $50 million which the car dealership, not surprisingly, was unable to pay.

In a typo costing half a million dollars, New York City’s Transportation Authority had to recall 160,000 maps and posters that announced the recent hike for the minimum amount put on pay-per-ride cards from $4.50 to $5.00. The only problem was they said the new price was $4.50.



You can read more typo stories here (http://mentalfloss.com/article/49935/10-very-costly-typos). But to avoid starring in one of them yourself, always proofread your documents!


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Explaining the subjunctive



The subjunctive is one of the most difficult concepts to understand in grammar. In fact, it’s so complicated, that many publications ignore it. If the writer understands and uses the tense, or the editor is on top of her game and corrects it properly, that’s good. If it’s wrong well, too bad so sad.

However, to be professional, it’d be good to try to grasp the concept.

F.L. Bicknell, in The Grammar Police said, “Was and were, however, often suffer PMS. They have moods just like people do.”

The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a wish, a suggestion, a command, or a condition that is contrary to fact.
For example, “I was the proud owner of two hundred frogs.” This is a true past statement.
“If I were the owner of two hundred frogs I’d be really happy.” I don’t own them, but I’d like to, so subjunctive.

Because the subjunctive is about something that is not currently true, a hint that *was* ought to be *were*, is often *if*… followed by could or would.
“If I were rich I could buy two hundred frogs.”

Remember, the subjunctive tense applies only to something that isn’t currently true.


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Author collaboration



Like all relationships, author collaboration can be a wonderful time of sharing and helping each other or an absolute disaster.

It makes sense for several authors to work together on joint promo events like book signings, marketing, and sharing resources. But this can go downhill fast, if authors don’t respect each other’s boundaries. Pushing in on a conversation between an author and a reader to promo your own book is a major no-no, as is inviting yourself to someone else’s book signing/party after the event has been planned.

Giving each other blurbs and reviews can also be a great way to promo. But once again, things can head south fast if one person doesn’t keep to the timeline. If you don’t like their book and can’t honestly praise them it’s important to tell them immediately so they can arrange for someone else to do the review.

Always be polite, professional and show gratitude and good manners. Something that doesn’t work out today may be a good idea tomorrow. Even if it isn’t, remaining calm and professional is the way to behave. There’s no need to burn bridges unnecessarily.

Author collaborations are just like any other alliance. They take work to realize their full potential.


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Banned Books Week



Because I’m an Australian, I’ve always found Banned Books Week rather a head-scratching experience. Yes, books do get challenged and even banned in Australia, but almost invariably there’s a logical reason for it, such as age-inappropriate content.
Australia has rarely suffered the kind of wholesale banning of a title that some other countries introduce.

Out of a list of Banned Classics in the USA, the following books were on my compulsory reading list at High School. “The Lord of the Flies” we actually read in Seventh Grade!

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
48. Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence

The Harry Potter books were the most challenged books in America from 2000-2009. I can recall people saying that the first Harry Potter book would “lead a generation of children astray”. But I would have thought that nine years later people would have realized that hadn’t happened. Apparently not if the books were still the #1 request to be banned.

One book that has been banned in Australia was Kathleen Winsor’s bodice ripper, “Forever Amber”. She was only twenty-four when the book was published. The book has more than nine hundred pages and I read it as a young teenager, entranced by the character of Amber and the rich historical tapestry of the background. Fortunately by then it was no longer banned. It’s still a story worth reading.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Oh look! Shiny new words!



One of the exciting advantages of online dictionaries, is that unlike their printed forefathers, new words can continually be added without having to delete older words to make room for them. I hate the idea of losing words, so I’m all in favor of this system.

One thousand new words have been recently added to OxfordDictionaries.com in its quarterly update. One of my favorite new words is “manspreading”. Nothing raises the ire of a woman forced to squeeze herself into half a seat on public transport, as much as the man who can’t sit any other way than with his legs so wide apart he needs all of his seat and most of hers as well.

After two years “hangry” has finally made its way in, along with Grexit, NBD (no big deal) and nine hundred plus others.

For the full story check out: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/how-a-new-word-enters-an-oxford-dictionary

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween quiz


I’m a little late but oh well…

Here’s a fun Halloween Quiz from Grammarly (https://grammarly.com/grammar-check) to find out what literary monster you are. Are you a really bad person? Or just misunderstood?

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts



Three very large publishers signed deals with Amazon gaining the right to set prices themselves. Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, and Simon & Schuster were very pleased with winning this battle, but it’s starting to look as though the readers were a lot less impressed.

For centuries publishers have told readers what they can read, how long they have to wait to get it, and how much they have to pay for it, by their method of choosing which books to publish, when to release them, geoblocking sales zones, and rigidly controlling writers’ contracts.

But just as vast numbers of authors have gone digital and self-published, avoiding the traditional publishers, to the great delight of readers, it is starting to look like readers are avoiding the higher prices these three publishers are setting for their new digital releases. While large numbers of books from these publishers are priced at $13.99 and $14.99, no title priced at more than $9.99 was on the top twenty bestseller lists.

Food for thought.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Writing emails 101



Sending a clear, concise and grammatically correct email seems like a no-brainer yet consistently, mistakes are made. Most of the time, these mistakes are minor and quickly forgotten, but sometimes they can be disastrous.

A well-written email is about presentation and professionalism. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, but a sound grasp of basic spelling and grammar is essential.

1. Incorrect names or titles. While spell checkers and auto-correct are important tools in eliminating spelling and grammatical errors, they can trip you up when it comes to writing names accurately. Ensuring you spell people’s names correctly, use their preferred title, and address them as the correct gender is about basic research.

2. Everyone knows that work isn’t always rainbows and lollipops, but never let the frustration bleed into an email. Take a deep breath, consider the recipient and the content of the email, and write to that point. Remember that long after your anger is gone, the email will live on in someone else’s inbox as a relic of your bad mood.

3. The subject line needs to grab the attention of prospective readers quickly, and convey what your email is about succinctly. Make sure it doesn’t sound like spam.

4. ALWAYS check the addressee and never hit “Reply All” or “Forward” without checking. The internet is full of horror stories about emails sent to the wrong person.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Passive Voice


Many readers lose the plot (quite literally) when the author starts to use passive voice. Passive voice is when things happen to something or someone, instead of people doing things.
“The grass was mown by Fred from next door.”
No!
In active voice it’s much better. “Fred from next door mowed the grass.”
See the difference. Second time around we want to know all about it. Did the person watching enjoy the scent of fresh-mown grass? Was Fred from next door young and handsome? Or was he a senior citizen that had our reporter wondering if she ought to take him a cool drink before he developed heat stroke?

Some writers (and school students) struggle to know whether what they’ve written is active or passive. A simple test is if you can insert “by zombies” after the verb you have passive voice.

In our first example above “was mown” is the verb.
“The grass was mown by zombies” is passive voice.
In our second example “mowed” is the verb.
“Fred from next door mowed by zombies”. Nope that doesn’t work. The sentence is in active voice.

So now you know. If you want to kill off the bad habit of writing in passive voice, be sure to check by adding “by zombies” after your verb.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Intensive purposes



People often use words and phrases in speech and writing that they have heard or misheard. A common one is: “Intensive purposes”. The correct phrase is “for all intents and purposes”. It means “practically speaking.”

Another annoying error is “I could care less”. If you could care less it means you do care. What people mean is “I could NOT care less”. In other words I don’t care at all.

“Decimate”: This means to take ten percent. It’s often used incorrectly to indicate something is almost totally destroyed. Taking ten percent is a lot but it’s nothing like wiping something out completely. If you decimate someone’s army you still have a very big battle ahead of you to get rid of the other 90%.

Travesty: Means mockery. Many people use it incorrectly to mean tragedy.

For twenty-five commonly misused words check out: http://www.trendzified.net/common-words/

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Eight Tips For Writing Explosive Action Scenes


Tracy Lawson, who’s a choreographer in her day job, as well as a writer, has written an interesting blog post on choreographing action scenes. One thing I particularly likes was the way she said it meant actions could be shown, through the senses, rather than told.
Other tips she shared included advancing the story through the characters’ movements, making sure body language is appropriate, field testing your scenes, and using maps to orient yourself in the action.
This article is well worth reading.
http://www.bookdaily.com/authorresource/blog/post/1715186


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The top 20 misspelled words quiz



It's time to test yourself? How well did you do?

PS. Yes, I got them all correct.


http://bitecharge.com/play/top20/h5


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Marie Force’s Reader Survey



Ms. Force is careful to say that her survey isn’t scientific. She sent it out into the world and it’s a compilation of those readers who responded to it. However, since almost 6000 readers filled the survey in, it’s well worth spending a few minutes reading the executive summary if not the entire document.

Note: All these percentages and numbers are of those who replied to the survey, not of the total population.

51% of readers are between the ages of 36 and 55.
95% are women.
Contemporary fiction is the most popular genre and Kindle the most popular ebook format.
Facebook is also the most popular way for readers to get information about authors (69%). Author websites came in second at 53%.

Free books continue to be a good way for authors to introduce themselves to new readers. 40% of readers said a free book introduced them to a new author they wouldn’t otherwise have tried.

For the full story see here: https://marieforce.com/images/docs/2015ReaderSurveyExecSummary.pdf

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Friday, September 4, 2015

The $19billion typo


An American nuclear waste facility, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, took 20 years and $19 billion to build and a simple typo has shut it down. A radioactive drum burst open on Valentine’s Day last year. Drums of radioactive material were trucked in from around the US, where they were placed in salt caverns that would eventually be collapsed, burying the waste.

But investigations have shown that instead of INorganic (clay) kitty litter being added to the contents of the drums to stabilize it, a revised policy manual in 2012 instructed workers at the laboratory to use organic kitty litter to soak up excess liquid in drums of nitrate salts.

Which in turn led to the inevitable kaboom. A site that was supposed to last for 10,000 years is now being closed after just fifteen years.

It really would have been much cheaper to get their manual edited and proofread professionally by a couple of grammar Nazis.

The full story is here: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/eric-schlosser-exposes-our-nuclear-delusions-at-festival-of-dangerous-ideas/story-fn5fsgyc-1227478302666


*Bonus points to anyone who noticed the typo in the picture.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

10 Common Mistakes Writers Overlook



Writers’ Life recently published a list of ten common mistakes writes overlook.

They include ones I’ve mentioned many times before. In fact, you should all be able to recite them. Things like telling instead of showing the reader what is happening, and repeating “pet” or “crutch” words. Then there are run-on sentences, and empty words that are pure padding and don’t forward the story at all.

One good point they make that’s slightly different is to watch the dialogue. Do all the characters speak the same? Is someone more a caricature than a character? Try reading the dialogue out loud and see if it makes you cringe.

The full article is at: http://writerslife.org/10-common-mistakes-writers-overlook/ and is well worth reading.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Bestseller Book That Didn’t Exist


This is an absolutely brilliant hoax. It's hard to believe it ever happened, but the way it was pulled off is amazing.
I find human nature endlessly fascinating, and an author's fans should never be underestimated.
Go, read, laugh, enjoy.

http://www.jmarkpowell.com/the-bestseller-book-that-didnt-exist-how-the-author-of-a-beloved-christmas-classic-pulled-off-the-hoax-of-the-century/

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The 35 most actionably useless corporate buzz words




“By leveraging our stakeholders' core competencies, this low hanging fruit could be actioned by close of play.”

Do you know what that means? No? I’m pretty sure no one else does either, but it sounds kind of official and businesslike so it must be okay? Right?

Wrong.

This article is for everyone stuck in a job where the management really speaks like this. Or a country where the politicians do. (“Heavy lifting” any Aussies?)

It’s also a warning for writers. Please ensure only a villain uses these terms except as a joke with their friends after work.
If you aren’t convinced look at some of the words critically. “Blue sky thinking”. Because in other businesses they have green skies? Are all ideas going to be considered? Really? Or just the ones the boss likes and thinks he can fit into the budget?
Or how about “upselling”? Because no one ever grinds their teeth when the kid at Maccas totals up their order and says, “Would you like fries with that?”

The full story is at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/these-are-the-35-most-actionably-useless-corporate-buzz-words/story-fnkd6ppg-1227324911537#itm=newscomau%7Chome%7Cnca-homepage-masthead-feature%7C3%7Cheading%7Chomepage%7Chomepage&itmt=1430211972954


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Positive words to change your brain


A new study shows that positive words can change the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning.

According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, in their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, a single negative word can increase the activity in our amygdala (the fear center of the brain). This releases dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn interrupts our brains’ functioning, especially with regard to logic, reason, and language. They said, “Angry words send alarm messages through the brain, and they partially shut down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes.”

On the other hand, the longer someone concentrates on positive words, the more the positives begin to affect other areas of the brain. Functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes a person’s perception of themself and the people around them. People perceive reality with less suspicion and mistrust and their logical thinking is much clearer.

The full story is here: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/11/30/words-can-change-your-brain/

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The history of swear words



About two-thirds of the words in the English language come from the romance languages: predominantly Latin and French. Yet most of our swear words have a base in the Germanic languages.

When William, Duke of Normandy defeated Harold Godwinson at the battle of Hastings in 1066 William made French the language of Britain. That meant that French became the “polite” language and the old Germanic-based English was considered crude.

In turn, that meant calling your annoying neighbor an arsch rather than a cul.

But more than that, our everyday words tend to be from the Germanic root. It’s not hard to work out what Haar, Hand, and Fuss mean, for example.

For the whole story see: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/06/swear-words-etymology-and-the-history-of-english/

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UK Grammar Test




Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary in the UK, is apparently a Grammar Nerd. (Grammar Nerds are cool!) Recently he released a short test to see if people in the department were good enough at grammar to please him. He believes the little details, like good grammar, are very important.
His full list of instructions is here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/michael-gove-instructing-his-civil-servants-on-grammar-10334298.html
but for a short fun test go here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11690785/Can-you-pass-Michael-Goves-grammar-test.html
I actually disagree with him on one of the items, but see how you go!


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2015



The Write Life has published a list of what they consider to be the top one hundred websites for writers.

I didn’t look at all one hundred, and I most definitely didn’t attempt to weigh up all the pros and cons between them and rate them all, but the top ones certainly appeared helpful to me.

They’ve broken the list into eight categories: blogging, creativity and craft, entrepreneurship, freelancing, literary agents, marketing, publishing, and writing communities. The sites are listed in alphabetical order within each category, and the numbers are included for easy tracking rather than as a ranking.

Whatever your interests in the writing arena might be, it’d be worth checking out the top blogs in that category.

The post is here: http://thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-for-writers-2015/

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Grammar Nerds Rule!


This fun story proves that people who know their grammar are not only smart, but also get out of paying their parking fines legally.

A woman was given a parking fine for leaving her pickup truck in a restricted area. The sign said those who couldn’t park there were: “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle”. She decided a pickup didn’t fit the categories and parked.

The judge, apparently another grammar nerd, agreed. He said she didn’t have to pay the fine and the sign needed to have a comma after vehicle (before camper).

Which just goes to show that grammar nerds really do rule.

The full story is here: http://www.mamamia.com.au/entertainment/comma-usage-parking-fine/


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.



Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cut “should” from your writing



Marisa Goudy has written an interesting article on removing the word “should” from your writing. She says it’s preachy and divisive, telling people where they have failed instead of suggesting ways to improve.
She advises people to substitute a more evocative, specific word and watch their writing take on a new tone that invites people to learn more from the writer – the compassionate, down-to-earth authority who is always there to help rather than criticize.
The article is well worth reading and can be found here: http://marisagoudy.com/want-to-connect-with-your-reader-cut-should-from-your-writing/

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Read more


People attending the recent Book Expo America were asked to offer advice as to why people should read more.
Buzz Feed has chosen twenty-six of them to feature in a story. I was excited to see an author I know among them!
For reasons why you should read, check out: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jarrylee/reasons-to-read-more#.uaxg0VPyj


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Self publishing: WARNING NSFW link



This is an excellent article about the mistakes authors continue to make in self-publishing. Just one note the writer uses a lot (and I do mean a lot) of swear words to make his point. Close your mind to the bad language and pay attention to his points. They’re worth noting.

Among his points are: Ensure your work is edited properly, lay out your pages properly, get a good cover, have interesting and accurate back matter, and work on your craft. Making the book the best it can be is up to the author. Authors need to take every step of the process seriously.

Here is the full article:
http://johnhartness.com/2015/05/21/why-your-self-published-book-looks-like-a-pile-of-ass-and-wont-ever-make-you-any-money/


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Why (and why not) to change a book’s cover


One of the definite advantages of self publishing is that you have to provide your own cover for your book. The good news is, if you get it wrong, it’s not too hard to change it.

Marketing for writers lists six reasons to change your book’s cover. These include to make it more relevant to the book’s theme or genre, to get rid of a bad cover, to update the book if it was looking tired and dated, and to link it to other books in a series.

They also advise against changing the cover too often or readers might get confused and possibly annoyed.

As with every part of preparing your book for sale, work hard to produce (or commission) the most appropriate cover for you book. But don’t panic. If it turns out you made a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.

The full article is here:
http://www.marketing4writers.net/home/6-good-marketing-reasons-for-changing-your-book-cover-and-2-reasons-not-to

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Monday, June 15, 2015

An excellent article re self promotion


Over and over and over again all the studies show that the absolutely best promo for an author is to write another good book. Yet the vast majority of authors still spend many precious writing hours on every social media site known to mankind, trying to build a platform, struggling to make their brand stand out, and their name lodge in the minds of readers.

Facebook has many staff whose job it is to keep rearranging their algorithms so the way your fans see your messages is via paid posts, or only if they are among the 10% allowed see any given post. Amazon has much the same way of managing things so its own books always come up at the top of a search.

Blog hits, tweets, pins and so on don’t necessarily sell books. Oh a reader here or there might be excited by what she reads and buy something or download a free book, but they’re the exception. Not the rule. How many pairs of RayBan sunglasses have you purchased because that ad keeps turning up in your Facebook feed?

Social media is meant to be just that. Social. Talking to people, getting to know their pets, their gardens, their families, and also what book they’re writing. Building relationships takes time. Hours, weeks, months even.

Delilah Dawson has written two excellent articles about author self-promotion.
“There is no road map to success here. Most of the authors seeing the results I would like have either been writing for 20 years, have publishers dead-set on a bestseller and paying mad bank to help it happen, or wrote a book better than what I believe I'm capable of writing, and all I can do is keep trying to level up.… Let's write better books. Quietly.”

Read the articles here: http://www.whimsydark.com/blog/2015/4/13/please-shut-up-why-self-promotion-as-an-author-doesnt-work
http://www.whimsydark.com/blog/2015/4/14/wait-keep-talking-author-self-promo-that-actually-works

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Just Don't



I’ve just read an amazing article on the power of the word Just.

Just think for a moment about how you use that little word. Just four letters, but it’s such a powerful word. However, so often it’s putting the user down, making the speaker/writer seem insecure, excusing themselves for their own thoughts and actions. It almost always puts the user in the subservient position.

If you don’t believe me pick out the word in my few previous sentences. I’ve tried to use it in as many different ways as possible to illustrate the article I’ll give you the link for in a moment.

“just read”: I’m entreating you to pay attention because this is all new.

“just think”: I’m begging you, not telling you. “Think” alone would tell you what to do.

“just four”: again I’m downplaying it. “Four” conveys all the needed information by itself.

Okay, here’s the article. It’s well worth reading.
http://www.dailylife.com.au/life-and-love/real-life/the-four-letter-word-thats-holding-you-back-20150609-ghjwes.html


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Libraries list the most popular books borrowed


Library and Information Week has just ended in Australia and the Australian Library and Information Association has published its annual list of the most borrowed books.
Remember, this is an Australian list, but I’m sure readers will recognize many of the titles.

ADULT FICTION TITLES
1. Never Go Back by Lee Child
2. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
3. The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connolly
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
5. Eyrie by Tim Winton
6. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
7. Inferno by Dan Brown
8. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
10. A Wanted Man by Lee Child


CHILDREN'S BOOKS
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
2. 13-Storey, 26 Storey and 39-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
3. Geronimo and Thea Stilton series by Elisabetta Dami
4. Spot series by Eric Hill
5. The Wrong Book by Nick Bland
6. Just! series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
7. Once by Morris Gleitzman
8. Peck Peck Peck by Lucy Cousins
9. Selby series by Duncan Ball
10. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Most Popular Word of 2014 was—



For the very first time, the most popular word of 2014 wasn’t a word at all. It was the heart emoji.


Global Language Monitor (GLM), a Texas-based language analysis firm, scoured blogs, Twitter, Facebook and 250,000 global news outlets to determine the year’s most popular words. And for the first time in fifteen years, they chose a non-word.
In terms of popularity, the heart emoji was followed by ‘hashtag’ and then ‘vape’ -- which was also named Oxford Dictionaries’ 2014 Word of the Year. The list was rounded out by ‘blood moon’, ‘nano’, ‘photobomb’, ‘caliphate’, ‘white privilege’, ‘bae’ and ‘bash tag.’

‘Ebola’ was the name that scored the most appearances.


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Q without U


Almost all Australians recognize the word, Qantas, one of very few words in the English language where it’s correct to have a Q without a following U. It’s the third oldest airline in the world founded in November 1920 as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, but The Flying Kangaroo, has been known as Qantas for a long time now.

13 April was National Scrabble Day, and in honor of all those people who have thrown their tiles across the room when they drew a Q and no U, Plugged In has provided a list of nine genuine scrabble approved words with a Q and no U. They even give you their scrabble scores!

Qi, Qat, Faqir, Qwerty, Qaid, Qadi, Sheqel, Qindar, and Qoph.

And here I’d always thought sheqel was spelled shekel. Sigh.

For their meanings, scrabble scores and more details see: https://au.games.yahoo.com/blogs/plugged-in/9-perfectly-legal--scrabble--words-that-use-q-but-not-u-195802589.html

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why not end a sentence with a preposition?


How do you end sentences?
What do you use to end a sentence with?
Sentences? How should they end?

“Never use a preposition to end a sentence with.”
“This is just the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put.”

Here’s a video from “Ask the Editor” with the definitive answer about using prepositions at the end of sentences. It includes a fascinating peek back into history, reminding me why my high school made us study Latin for a year!
http://writerscircle.com/2015/03/straight-from-the-editors-mouth-the-verdict-on-ending-sentences-with-prepositions.html


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why Can’t Romance Novels Get Any Love?


The Smithsonian Magazine has published a long and thoughtful article on why romance fiction is ignored, and not studied seriously.

Kathleen Woodiwiss’s bodice ripper "The Flame and the Flower" was a stunning success way back in the early 1970s, yet scholars still deride the genre of romance with exactly the same arguments they used 250 years ago. And this is despite EL James and the Fifty Shades books being the fastest selling paperbacks of all time.

In 2007, Frantz Lyons started the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance along with Professor Eric Selinger, a scholar of American poetry who teaches popular romance at DePaul University in Chicago. The IASPR has hosted conferences worldwide and in 2010 launched a peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Popular Romance Studies. Their hope is for a scholarship foundation at a PhD-hosting institution and a full-fledged graduate program.
It will be interesting to see what happens next.


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Romance Industry


Laurie Kahn spent four years making a documentary about the romance industry. She’s listed ten “surprising” things she’s learned about the romance industry during that time.

Some of them will be no surprise at all to romance authors. A few of them have even finally started to penetrate the heads of businessmen, telling them how they failed to recognize an opportunity and are now playing catch up to get a foot in the door.

One such piece of information is that romance novel sales total more than a billion dollars a year—as much as sci-fi, mystery, and fantasy combined. Even as recently as five years ago men were shaking their heads and saying romance was only read by frustrated uneducated elderly single women. Apparently, they were wrong.

Another point she makes is that the majority of romance authors help and support each other, teaching newbies skills, helping them climb the ladder and finish writing that book. It’s a community of people engaged in a love of books and reading.

Romance authors pioneer new technologies and methods. They were the first to use ebooks, the first to use social media, the first to build communities with their readers, and the first to embrace self-publishing.

Her final point is that romance writing isn’t easy. Some days it seems like every second person is going to write a book. Some have even started one. But the number who have actually completed the book, had it edited, had a professional cover made, had the polished book formatted and put up for sale, is a lot smaller.
Writers are multitalented, hardworking people.

For the full article go here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/laurie-kahn/romance-novels_b_7109458.html


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Oxford comma is officially dead, but





People refuse to let it go to a peaceful burial. The argument for and against continues to be waged.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/33637/best-shots-fired-oxford-comma-wars

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Hated and incorrect buzz words



The Sydney Morning Herald (Aussie newspaper) did an article on the most hated buzzwords. I have to say mine is “invite” used as a noun. Despite everything Facebook might tell you, invite is a verb. I might invite you to my party. But the piece of paper or email I send you telling you about my party is a noun, invitation.
So imagine my joy when they chose Gifted as #10 on their list, with this comment, “Used incorrectly as a verb to mean to give a gift. Gifted is not a verb. The word is gift, which is a noun. If you don't know the difference between the various parts of speech, you probably need a refresher in primary school English.”
The same goes with invite.

Other buzz words they disliked were “big data” especially when used by people to mean any old data, “double down”, and literally, misused when people mean figuratively.

For the complete list check out: http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/trends/blogs/the-big-idea/the-most-hated-buzzwords-of-2015-20150205-3pjdf.html


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Don’t compare yourself with others


The absolutely worst thing possible for an author to do, is to try to model their writing/book/blog/website/book trailer or anything else, on the one they’ve seen of SallySellsALotofBooks. What works for Sally is unlikely to work for you simply because it’s not your voice, your style, your passion.

I fully understand that your passion might be to get rich as fast as possible, but readers want a book that draws them in, where they relate to the characters and stay up way past their bedtime reading because they absolutely have to know what happens next.
That intensity is almost impossible to achieve by modeling yourself on anyone else.

Certainly you can use their editor, their cover artist, their color scheme. But do those things work for your story? She likes yellows and sunshine and your book is all about disaster and death. That color scheme is not going to work for you.

Be yourself. Write what is your own personal passion.

By all means hire a good editor, even SallySellsALot’s editor, and cover artist. But ensure your book cover, your trailer, your blog, is all about your book and your passion.

Readers aren’t stupid and they don’t like fakes. Besides, no one knows what the next big thing will be, and it just might be the book you want to write that no one is interested in as yet.


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Can You Correctly Use These Commonly Misused Words?


Two of these were seriously tricky (or maybe it’s because I’m an Aussie not an American) but most you should know immediately.

http://www.playbuzz.com/toddbv10/can-you-correctly-use-these-commonly-misused-words?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=page-posts&utm_campaign=can-you-correctly-use-these-commonly-misused-words

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Point of View explained



POV explained by Kristen Lamb

Editor Kristen Lamb said, “P.O.V. used properly can create entire worlds, and breathe life into characters. Used improperly, it can make your reader feel like she’s been bungee-corded to Satan’s Merry-Go-Round—not good. P.O.V. stands for Point of View. Although this literary device is one of the most vital tools an author possesses, it is probably the number one style problem I encounter as an editor.”

When an author is writing in one person’s POV that person can only comment on or experience what they know and see. Convention indicates that the POV stay with that person for an entire scene. This means that if a person is killed, or goes to sleep, or just leaves, that scene needs to end immediately.

Sometimes in a long scene there can be a line break and a POV change but its best avoided. It’s better if the main characters take turns at telling the story. It’s also best if the story is told only from a few different POVs so the reader doesn’t get confused.

Make sure whatever is happening in a scene is something that could be filtered through that character’s five senses. Unless this is a paranormal story and he has the power of mindreading, he does not know what the other people are thinking.

It’s no use complaining that Famous Author head hops, POV shifts and puts two lines in at random from the POV of her pet koala bear. Until you too, are famous, I suggest not irritating your readers by giving them a headache trying to work out who knows what in your book.

Kristen Lamb’s article is here: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/point-of-view-what-is-it-how-to-find-the-perfect-voice-for-your-story/

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The worst things that can happen to a book lover


The worst things that can happen to a book lover

I can relate to a lot of these! Tell me which one is you.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariannarebolini/worst-things-that-can-happen-to-a-book-lover#.ndmw1DREA


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Looking for a job? Fix your grammar!



Byron Reese is CEO of Knowingly, which recently launched Correctica, a tool that scans websites looking for errors that spell checkers miss. "When I look for these errors on LinkedIn profiles they're all over the place--tens of thousands," he said.
Correctica recently scanned a handful of prominent websites. Here is Reese's list of the some of the most commonly misused phrases on the Web.

1. Prostrate cancer. That would be a cancer you get from lying down. They mean prostate.
2. First-come, first-serve. That means they have to serve everyone else. There should be a d on the end of serve.
3. Sneak peak. It’s pretty hard to hide a mountain. Try peek.
4. Deep-seeded. Should be seated. Even the White House website had this one wrong.
12. Piece of mind. I don’t think they mean brain surgery. For serenity try peace.
18. Do diligence. I like the idea of people being diligent, but if you’re talking about the business and legal term it’s due.

If you want to be educated or just need to giggle at things people get wrong, go to:
http://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/20-embarrassing-phrases-even-smart-people-misuse.html?cid=sf01002


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The English language is crazy!



English is a difficult language to learn. Compared to some other languages where simple rules are always true, English is a mish-mash of rules and exceptions to those rules.
Like this one: I before e, except after c, unless you're running a feisty heist against a weird beige neighbor who owns a rottweiler.


Then there are apostrophes. Ignoring the exceptions for a moment there are basically two rules for when you DO use an apostrophe.
1. To indicate a letter is missing: they’re instead of they are
And
2. To indicate possession: Helen’s frog

PLURALs don’t require an apostrophe. One apple, two apples.

See? It’s not really that hard at all.

For a full explanation read this: http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2015/follow-these-guidelines-to-avoid-an-apostrofail/


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.