Writing roundup – 4 great topics to help you write better

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Here are the latest ‘shorty’ posts I’ve been sharing on social media recently … the first two are about books, and the last two are about writing in general. Enjoy!

writing tips

Can you tell if a book has been produced professionally? Here’s how
  1. The cover should still be readable and attractive when its image is small, e.g. on Amazon
  1. The back cover ‘blurb’ must be enticing and correct, and text on the book’s ‘spine,’ straight and centred.

[Read more…]

Trying to write and sweat at the same time…

If you’re working from home and do not benefit from the rewards (hopefully healthful) of working in a fully airconditioned office building, right now during COVID-19 issues anyway … have a read. I sympathise. And right at the bottom is a suggestion to take a leaf out of our Canadians’ book…

SWEET, SWEATY SUMMER

It’s 34 degrees outside
Perfect for dear old Dubai
But western Bedfordshire’s not quite
So suited to such temps that high.

I open all my windows up
Expecting cooler air to share
Oh, “wrongeroonie” I exclaim
It’s f***ing hellish-hot out there!

funny poem about working during a heatwave with no air conditioning

As I sweat and look just ghastly, I think back to babyhood…

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How to create a brilliant nonfiction book cover: tutorial

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover? Oh, yes, you should, because potential readers will. Especially when your book is going to be sold online.

article about how to design good book covers

Janis, The Body and Me book covers: with my sincere thanks to Simon & Schuster for the loan of this brilliant image.

A book’s cover has two jobs to do apart from the obvious one of sharing its title, tagline and author’s name: one, to indicate the book’s ‘genre,’ and two, to show that the book has been professionally designed and produced. Here’s a swift tutorial – both for self-publishing authors and their (hitherto uninitiated) graphic designers…

Is yours going to be a self-published business or self-help book?

[Read more…]

The secrets of a brilliant nonfiction book proposal

Writing a nonfiction book? Want to have a go at getting it published by a traditional publisher like HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster?

Nowadays many traditional publishers accept online submissions for nonfiction, especially for business and self-help titles. With publishers still being a little on the pernickety side you must absolutely following their submission guidelines to the letter.

article on book publishingThe bad news is, each one will have a slightly different set of questions. The good news is, they normally are very like each other.

Here are the main elements of proposal forms that you’re likely to encounter, and how to ring the right bells…

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How not to get trapped by a translation app

Please welcome Christine Camm, an expert French-English translator whom I met recently via social media. Despite my being bilingual English-French myself I’ve often wondered how the hell professional translators manage to sleep at night, given the ridiculous differences between these two lingos.

And … how English speakers, in particular, manage to destroy whatever co-comprehension there might remain considering that the Brits still feel the French will understand their English provided that they shout it loudly enough, and the French think anyone living from the White Cliffs of Dover northwards is a totally unhinged rosbif who probably needs not only French lessons but also to stop shouting and get a life.
 article about english to french translation

Christine takes up the story with a charming anecdote … 

A young London couple, Carol and Simon, start planning their next short holiday

“Let’s go to Paris,” suggests Simon.

Carol raises one eyebrow and instantly pictures the two of them on a boat, gently floating along the Seine past Notre Dame, sipping champagne and grabbing that all important click of the sun setting behind the Eiffel Tower against the deep blue Parisian sky. The air is warm and accordion music is gently playing. [Read more…]

How important are grammar and spelling? Really?

Now that the mass media with its “newspeak” vocabulary has been part of our lives for several generations we really can’t afford to be pompous about spelling and grammar any more.

Even the stuffiest of academics has had to admit that stiffly formal writing is not clever; it’s boring. They may look down their noses at the language of popular websites, social media, blogs and so-on, but that’s the language nearly everyone speaks today.

article about spelling and grammarI won’t waste your time with my theories on why that has happened, but the bottom line is that English as a language has become simpler and less complex than it was 100 years ago.

And quite right, too. I’ve never understood why some people get so uppity about the fact that a language has evolved.

Well, you and I haven’t got time to mourn the relegation of Shakespearean English to the theatre, even if we want to. We’ve got work to do here and now, and these days we write as we speak.

“Writing as people speak” is not a cop out

[Read more…]

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