Dyslexia, Irlen Syndrome and Alexia. (This has nothing to do with Amazon gadgets)

This post focuses on writing blogs, website content, social media and emails rather than stories and books.

As independent authors, our ability to write such is of paramount importance to our promotional and marketing strategy. Yet the way you write could be alienating those who are not quite as apt as you or me at reading.


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A couple of years ago, I had a wonderful comment from a person who suffered from dyslexia about a post.

Although his comments were primarily about the content and not the presentation of the post, he mentioned he found my post far easier to read than many, if not most.

Curiosity got the better of me.

Why I wondered, could he read and understand my posts, when he struggled to read so many others?

Over the next few days, he and I conversed, by email, about his reading on a personal AAEAAQAAAAAAAAxCAAAAJDdmZDE5N2IxLWUxZmUtNGMwNi04YzE3LWYyNGUxYjA3MDE1MQlevel and Dyslexia in general.

 

Before I carry on and explain the outcome of our conversations, I think as writers we should all know and understand what dyslexia and some of the most common reading difficulties are. So, I am including the following few paragraphs & bullet points, (which I cribbed from the internet), for clarity.

 

A formal definition of dyslexia used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states, “It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. “

Unsurprisingly, the International Dyslexia Association defines it in simple terms. “Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.”


In contrast, Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder, meaning that it relates specifically to how the brain processes the visual information it receives. It is not a language-based disorder and phonics-based instruction will not help someone with Irlen Syndrome improve in the same way it will help someone with dyslexia improve their reading skills.

At its core, Irlen Syndrome is a light sensitivity, where individuals are sensitive to a specific wavelength of light and this sensitivity is what causes the physical and visual symptoms that people with Irlen Syndrome experience. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty reading not because their brains have difficulty connecting the letters they see with the sounds those letters make, but because they see distortions on the printed page, or because the white background or glare hurts their eyes, gives them a headache, or makes them fall asleep when trying to read.

Unlike dyslexia, difficulties experienced because of Irlen Syndrome can reach well beyond just reading. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty processing all visual information, not just words on a printed page, so they often have trouble with depth perception, driving, sports performance, and other areas not generally connected with dyslexia.


Alexia is a form of dyslexia, but dyslexia is developmental, meaning that it does not happen from an occurrence such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Alexia is an acquired reading disability because of an acquired event such as a stroke. It is most common for alexia to be accompanied by expressive aphasia (the ability to speak in sentences), and agraphia (the ability to write).

All alexia is not the same, however. You may have difficulty with the following:

Recognizing words ● Difficulty identifying and reading synonyms ● Difficulty with reading despite your ability to sound out pronunciation of words.

Although you can read words, it is too difficult to read for very long ● Blind spots blocking the end of a line or a long word ● Focusing on the left side of the paragraph or page ● Double vision when trying to read ● Reading some words but not others. Of course, this makes reading impossible.

A stroke survivor with alexia that can read larger words, but cannot read tiny words such as “it,” “to,” “and,” etc. ● Any combination of some of these traits.

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My conversations with, (I shall call him ‘Jay’ during this post), led me to take a close look at how I was presenting my blogs, what made them so different and, could I improve them further?

It turns out the style I chose… I was going to say developed, but that sounds arrogant. So, the style I was using at the time was to write in small(ish) chunks, using relatively short sentences and paragraphs, as I have so far in this post.

Unlike the following.

This differed to most blogs and posts on the interweb which were, (and still are), long blocks of continuous sentences and sub-sentences, forming large paragraphs with very little line spacing or breaks. This may be a ‘style’ welcomed by universities and those writing technical/medical/professional and some literary journals. I have seen many papers which follow this style. I have even read a few and I must agree it makes for extremely uncomfortable reading. To read such a document, one must concentrate fully and focus on each word of each line. Whenever the eye moves from its forced liner motion, even for a moment, is when the reader finds some difficulty in returning to the exact location they were at previously, often meaning one must, annoyingly, re-read sections already read. Like you have possibly just done when reading with this last long drivelling, over worded paragraph I have written in just such a manner to illustrate my point that it makes for uncomfortable reading, even for those of us blessed with good eyesight and adequate skill. A point which I hope I have now made adequately clear with this paragraph which is representative of many blogs.

Writing in this form creates such a large block of words it becomes challenging to separate them into clear concise ‘bite-sized‘ and manageable ‘lots’ of information.

This is one of the areas of written presentation which was highlighted to me by Jay.

I already used a style of writing which broke long paragraphs into much smaller ones, whenever practicable, but I was not aware of the impact doing so made on the reader. From then on, I broke paragraphs down even further than I did ‘pre-‘Jay’

I was also made aware of unnecessarily long sentences, sentences with too many superfluous words.

This simply meant cutting out all those unnecessary words to make sentences read far more precisely and clearly.

OR

Eliminating irrelevant words.

You see, this is not fictional or creative literature as when writing a novel, or even a short story. This is describing and sharing thoughts, ideas, information and data. Another skill set entirely.

Authors often discover this when having to write a precise about their latest book, like the back-cover blurb, an agent’s query synopsis, or for a promotional activity.

We all know, or at least should, that mixing sentence lengths makes for better reading. But so does spacing and breaking them up, like I have done in most of this post.

Please do not get me wrong.

I am not solely writing or directing my words specifically to those with reading difficulties, but I am looking to be as inclusive as possible and not simply because I am attempting to be politically, or socially correct.

I do it because I want as many people as possible to read my words. That is why I write.

Looking at how one presents their posts on the screen does not take much effort. Neither does adjusting one’s style to make it clearer and easier to read… for everybody, including you and me.

To finish, look at this Git-Hub virtual reality page. It shows how we can best comprehend the way those suffering from dyslexia and associated reading difficulties may see the written word.

https://geon.github.io/programming/2016/03/03/dsxyliea

My lesson following my conversations with ‘Jay’ is, “We can all learn from others, even those we may have previously considered had nothing to give us. After all, I never thought a dyslexic could teach an established author how to write clearer, even better. How wrong I was.”

Thank you for reading another of my Ramblings. Please subscribe to this blog if you will.

I am open to all comments and try to reply to them all personally.

Keep happy, Paul


Oh, take a peek at my website, I have a ton of good stuff waiting there 

Your book is out-of-stock (not)

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I often hear authors sound flabbergasted when their books, even their newly launched publication, the one they have been working on for so long and spent a fortune, in both time and effort promoting and marketing, shows as OUT OF STOCK on major bookstore sites.

I mean, how can a brand-new novel, only published yesterday, already be out of stock? Besides, it has been published as a POD (print on demand) so it can never be out of stock… can it?

Why, if it is available from one site, is it showing as out of stock in another? It all seems so confusing.

I have been asked, “Surely if my potential reader sees out of stock against my book, they will simply by another book, someone else’s book… won’t they?”

My answer is “It is a possibility, even a probability.”

So, why can/does your newly published book show out of stock on some site and stores listings.

There are a few reasons. Much depends on who has published your book. CreateSpace, another online book publisher like Babybook.com or a private printing company and who holds your prime stock, if any.

That last part may sound a strange inclusion when speaking of POD books, but some places will/do hold stock, physical stock of POD books… I bet you never considered that before, did you?

Okay, so let me clarify some of this.

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First let’s speak of those who may hold actual stock of your books.

These are varied, so this is a general overview rather than a focused statement.

Many high street book stores, even some of the larger chains, do hold some independent authors books. You may have to get ‘lucky’ (or have a proven ‘bestseller’) for your book to take up valuable shelf space which is at a premium at this level of retail, but it can happen.

There are even a few re-sellers and wholesalers who are looking closely at getting more indie authors books in front of the high-street public… but that’s another story (Pun intended.)

Book stores generally order their books on a fortnightly basis, often guided by their sales/buying/distribution agents convoluted algorithms, which are designed to predict purchasing patterns. Hence, if your book has continued/constant high-volume sales on a site such as Amazon, your book could, possibly, maybe, end up on the shelves of your local book store.

This is how the book store, should they have an internet presence, (I don’t know one that does not), may list your book as out-of-stock. This does not mean your book cannot be purchased via that particular site, only that the store does not have it on the shelf, or on their warehouse, but your order will be dispatched as soon as the new fortnights order arrives from the wholesale/re-sale company.

The agent will order your book as a multiple/bulk order and distribute copies to the relevant stores they supply the inventory for the two-week cycle. It is these companies who would, for example, buy from Amazon as part of the ‘Expanded distribution’ should you have enabled that option.

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Now, let’s get to grips with the sites that do not hold any, or very little, stock and why they may mark your book as out of stock. (This post is Amazon focused, simply because they are the largest bookseller and I am certain almost every indie has, or has had, dealings with them.)

Historically the biggest times of out of stock, or two to three weeks delivery came when Amazon was solidifying its position as the major book distributor in the world. It had a long ongoing, but quiet battle with Lightning Source and the two main suppliers Amazon used as dropships, Ingram and Baker& Taylor.

As part of the ever-growing Amazons domination it needed warehouse space and to reduce costs, which can spiral, expedientialy even for a massive organisation.

Thus, Amazon reduced its stock levels of all POD books re-ordering necessary stock on a daily basis. But this was not always enough time for POD printers to supply demand in the timespan, hence out of stock messages appeared.

Now, all this and the continued adjustments since, created a shift change in the market place. CreateSpace is now undoubtedly the main supplier of indie books to Amazon. So, for the least chance of having your book listed as out of stock, or as a delayed delivery, CreateSpace is your best bet.

Lightning Source, Blurb, Babybooks, Lulu and so on take a secondary seat in the ongoing war for profits, which is what effects your book sales the most. You cannot blame Amazon or Barnes & Noble, Ingram or anybody else, this is what business is about, maximising revenue and profits.

So, on that basis, not one of these companies actually cares about you, or your book. (on an individual basis). It is nothing personal, your book is just another item of stock/listing among the many millions, which needs to be sold. So, if your POD company does not supply in time, has an issue with Amazon, your book may be tagged as out of stock.

Oh, occasionally it is a genuine mistake, someone clicks the wrong button, but that is far and less often than many would have you believe.

Even if your book is not listed on the major sites, the POD wholesale/agent distribution factors do still influence your books availability.

The note to take from this post, if nothing else, is the misconception most indies have in believing all orders from a POD publisher are printed there and then, to order, on order, of each customer. This is not necessarily true, as I have explained above.

Which is why you could see that unwanted message, ‘out of stock’ on your books sales pages, no matter which site(s) you use.

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Finally, as a personal disclaimer, arse covering statement… there are far more book publishers/printers/distributors/suppliers than I have mention here, like TOAD Publishing… oh that’s my own!

The secret is to choose the one, (or the several), which suits you and your needs the best.


Writer Picture

 

That’s it from me just now. I hope this post has been helpful.

Please subscribe to Ramblings from a Writers Mind, then you will know when one of these sporadic articles has been posted.

 

 

In the meantime, you could sit back and relax with some Tales of Crime & Violence… go on, you know you want too. https://goo.gl/8aY9XR

Choose from volume 1, 2 or 3. Better still, grab all three and save yourself from coming back for another!

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Get the complete set, today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watching the sun rise

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As the sun rose and the darkness faded, the sky took on a burnished amber hue.

Birds started to welcome the dawn with the melody of their chorus.

I breathed in the sharp crispness of the morning air and looked up, a few wispy clouds hung motionless in the stratosphere.

It was such a fresh, bright morning I predictably recalled the hymn ‘Morning has broken’; in this instance, my mind heard it being sung by Cat Stevens. I half consciously found myself humming along, out of tune of course.

This was soon followed by the voice of Bob Marley and ‘Three little birds’. I smiled inwardly as I realised both these voices were inside my head.

However, the realisation itself began another thought process… I wondered why on earth we become so full of angst when someone admits to hearing voices in their own minds, or indeed fearful if they inhabit our own?

This morning, as the sun rose higher and the amber tones dissipated to reveal an azure blue sky, I found I was comforted by the voices in my head, the voices I heard singing to me.

Regardless of the scientific, cognitive or physiological explanations, of which I do not give one iota of ‘care’ for, I was quite amused by my own insight of this experience

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As a writer, I constantly think of ‘Funny things that make me laugh’ (Re- ‘Arthur’ aka Dudley Moore’.) I hope you have seen that film?

Anyway, this was one of those times, when even lateral thinking was unable to keep up with the speed of the random leaping of my thoughts. I have coined a personal term for this, I refer to it as ‘Geometric Surging’.

 

I love it, because this is where all the odd ball, wild, whacky and seemingly unconnected notions, concepts, opinions and theories I have somehow find common ground, which allows them to become authentic and viable concepts.

This is one state of mind where many of my inspirational stimuli collected from far and wide, many over long periods of time, meld into solid ideas.

All I need is a moment of ambiance, an atmosphere which can induce the right frame of mind.

Today, it was watching the sun rise.

 

Thanks for reading this Rambling

Paul.


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While you are here, take a look at this wonderful lamp.

It is a gift which, I am sure, any book lover or author would love to have in their home.

Why not treat yourself, or get one as a birthday or Christmas present.

Order yours, today from right HERE 

 

A bit on Anthologies

Euphoric winner winning at home

This year I have only two stories destined for anthologies. One is for a summer anthology, due out soon, another a children’s book scheduled for Christmas.

This is the lowest number of stories I have given for inclusion into collective tomes for several years.

I know some writers stay away from this form of publication. There are many reasons.

Some do not write short fiction, others focus on just one genre, some believe these books a waste of effort, while others only give licence if the book is a charitable or fundraising edition.

I appreciate everyone’s point of view on this matter.

To give a story away, even secured by a simple first serial rights licence, is a big thing. To take time out to write a specific tale for one is a commitment. Then, there is the fact of finding the extra time to write in the first instance.

If someone does not wish to commit to an anthology, so be it.

I, however, am a sucker for these books.

Partly, it is because I am a prolific writer of short stories and flash fiction. I always have some unpublished works on hand which need a good home. Another reason is, I enjoy writing from simple, given prompts. I belong to some writer’s groups, such as ‘500 – Iron writer’s spin-off‘ who regularly exercise their quills by doing just so.

I find scribbling a short tale a fantastic writing exercise, as I do with poetry and blog writing, even this post you are reading now is teaching me something about my trade as a wordsmith.

It is called, gaining experience.

I believe we can and should always strive to become better writers and, like modern athletes and sportsmen, we should ‘cross -train’. That may mean writing poetry and short stories, trying our hand with a genre we have never approached before, writing non-fiction too. Whatever it takes, we should often step outside of our comfort zone, we should do it to improve ourselves.

For me, committing to someone as a guest blogger, or agreeing to contribute a piece to an anthology, encompasses that training; it allows me to be creative, try something ‘new to me’, or come at a subject from an alternative perspective. It also allows me to get my work in front of readers who may not have found me otherwise.

It is not something I do for a direct reward. I have, where there have been shared royalties, had my allocation directed to charity.

Which brings me nicely to this point.

Many collections of short stories are put together as fundraisers, or for creating http://authl.it/6boawareness for worthwhile causes.Looking into the Abyss: Saving the Rhinoceros one story at a time’ an anthology designed to spread the word about the Rhino’s fight for survival, and ‘Sticks & Stones and Words that Hurt Me’ which supports anti-domestic violence, along with ‘Storybook, Individually together, Vo 1 (no longer available) are three charitable books I have close association with.

 

However, not all anthologies have to be for charitable causes.

awethologyLIGHTSMASHWORDSThe ‘Awethors’, a group of likeminded indie authors from across the globe, have created three anthologies crammed with a wealth of wonderful tales. These books, The Awethology Dark, The Awethology Light and the December Awethology Dark & December Awethology Light, were produced for several reasons.

These books are to show what an alliance of indie authors, living in various countries around the world, can achieve when working in unison.

The Awethors collective produced not one, but Four great works, proving such co-operative action can be repeated and maintained.

These anthologies also bring the contributing authors closer together, it strengthens the collective and in some cases, creates new, long lasting, genuine friendships.

If you have never contributed to an anthology before, I ask you to consider doing so. I am certain you will know at least one other writer who has a link with at least one. Do it for yourself, for a literary exercise, for learning, for betterment, but most of all do it for fun.

To finish, I quite fancy contributing to a Sci-Fi collection, (I don’t write Sci-Fi), or something from a female perspective perhaps?

Any offers, contact me.

 

Thank you once again for reading my Ramblings, Paul.


Looking for something different, a gift with thought? Take a look at the Pussers Cook Book.

 http://amzn.to/2usvZxQhttps://www.createspace.com/7008835

Say what you mean

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This blog, as its sub-title states, is where I write about writing for writers.

When I do so, I want to make it clear what each of my posts are about, so you can choose to indulge in my words, or skip on to something else which blows your frock up in the moment.

The point is ‘CLARITY’.


Allow me to explain where my thoughts are…

I read an awful lot of stuff about writing and being an indie author; articles, blogs, books, newspapers, social media posts, written by other writers, authors and publishers with the intent of giving advice or insight into the ‘black art‘ of a writer’s life.

Generally… and I know one should not generalise by right, but on this occasion, I shall… Generally, all these posts are written with a single perception in mind, that of fiction writer.

It is assumed, by most authors of these posts, articles and essays that ‘writing’ or being a ‘writer’ means you are working on a fictional novel.

Do not simply take my word, browse away all you like, look for yourself.

I can understand why.

Most of these articles are written, with good intent, by authors of fiction, reaching out to help others. Sharing knowledge and accumulated wisdom. Something which is rarely done in other areas where another person could be perceived as being and often is your competition.

This is one matter where the indie writer’s community excels. It is supportive and encouraging to all whom venture within the dark realms of the quill.

Yet the terms writer means so much more and covers a far wider sphere, than fiction alone.

I try to be as inclusive as possible in my own posts.

If I am not writing directly about a particular aspect of fiction, I try to make my posts content as equally applicable to those writing a blog, a historical article, poetry, or a non-fictional account, as I am to the writers of fiction alone.

A writer could be a reporting journalist, a diarist, a playwright, or engaged in composing a technical manuscript as well as engaging in stories of fantasy and fiction.

So, come on all you other bloggers who tap away on your keyboards. Make it clear from the outset of you post if it is about something which affects all forms of writing, such as grammar, or your view on the loneliness a writer may endure.

Please alert people if it is specific to a certain genre or area of writing, like romantic fiction, historical recording, technical manuscripts or horror. ZGPIAp

Why?

Well, I for one do not want to start reading your post, which I am sure you will have made as interesting and comprehensive as possible, to find, a few paragraphs in, it is covering a subject which I have no connection with and is therefore of absolutely no interest to me.

Being unnecessarily drawn into such, will only make me disregard any future article you post, even if it then covers a subject I am concerned about.

You can still have a ‘catchy’ headline or title if you don’t want a fully descriptive header. Just ensure, for those browsing a subject they want to read, that you clarify, in the first few lines, the subject matter of the post.

It will help the reader find what they want and it will help you gain followers who like your subject matter.

That’s all I have to say for now.

Enjoy the rest of your day, Paul.

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Why I am talking art on a writing blog.

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I have, at last, found enough time to catch my breath and write a new, long overdue post for this blog.

You see, I have had a busy start to this year.

First was the publication, in January, of my first children’s book, The Rabbit Joke, which is designed primarily as a ‘read to me‘ book.

A book for parents or older siblings, to read to the younger ones. The Rabbit Joke lends itself to being read to groups in schools and kindergartens too.

The Rabbit Joke is an outsized, hardcover, fully illustrated, perfect bound, landscape book, from https://www.peecho.com/print/en/263512

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In February, I released ‘Life in the War Zone’ a collection of stories, based on true accounts, of what life is like living between warring factions in an area of conflict.

Life in the War Zone takes a serious, no holds barred look at the devastation and trauma of life in the battlefields of the Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Israel, Palestine, Libya, Lebanon and El Salvador.

Ebooks are available direct from me, via my website. http://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

Paperbacks from Amazon.

USA https://www.amazon.com/Life-War-Zone-collection-personal/dp/1542338700  

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-War-Zone-collection-personal/dp/1542338700

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Also during February, I published a ‘Coffee Table’ book called ICONIC, or to give it its full title, Iconic – Legends of music immortalised in art.

Iconic is an 8 x 8 inch, hardcover, perfect bound, glossy, book, containing a number of my own artworks, portraits of some of the most well-loved musical talent ever known, such as David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis and many more.

With each portrait is an abridged biography of each artist, covering their life and times. https://www.peecho.com/checkout/14716200169619823/279042

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March saw the publication of The Pussers Cook Book.

This became an instant hit and an Amazon bestseller. It is still, as I write this over a month after the books launch, at number three in its Amazon category.

The Pussers Cook Book details twenty-two of the best loved dishes, served on Royal Naval ships circa 1960’s to 1980’s. Along with the recipes, there are plenty of jokes and tall stories, some legendary myths are also dispelled!

You do not have to be a sailor to enjoy the Pussers Cook Book. It makes the perfect gift for a freind or loved one.

Paperbacks from Amazon. goo.gl/eTwfWN  

Hardcover from my printers.  www.peecho.com/print/en/282666

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You will see by this, why my time this year has been at a premium.

Now, I have touched on art, as in the title of this post, by mentioning my tribute to the great musicians in the book, ICONIC. Which clearly shows the link between writing, books and art.

As do all those millions of books with illustrations, photographs, pictures and images inside. Let alone the amazing and wonderful artistry shown by many book cover designers.

In that respect, books and art are almost inseparable, and never exclusive.


But there is more…

Art has always been a ‘go to‘ place for me, when I need to rest my mind from concentrating on writing. Whilst my form of art, digital painting, is still a creative discipline, it is creative in a totally differing way to the mindful concentration needed for writing.

In that respect, I find creating digital art relaxing, even ‘freeing up‘ the subconscious mind to continue its own creative endeavours, whilst I take my consciousness on a holiday of colour and form.

The problem arises, much as it does when writing, or I should say, when one has finished writing and has published their book.

Who will see it, who will read it, who will buy it?

It is all well and dandy to have a book, three books, ten? Sitting on the shelves getting dusty and covered in cobwebs. What we want, what we need is someone (Many someones) to come along and actually read our words.

The same is true of art. What is the point of creating wonderful, thought provoking, stimulating images if they are simply going to be stored as a digital code on a memory stick. If they are never going to be made onto a canvass, or a poster, or even printed onto a tee-shirt or coffee mug?

Both of those scenarios are, in my humble opinion, a total waste of time, effort and creative energy.

So…what to do about it all?

Firstly, I have made a Facebook page to help direct people to my works.

The main site is my artwork website, where you can browse through a selection of works albums and find links to the other places my work is available. https://goo.gl/pyPI7i

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That is why I am talking about art on a writing blog.

Thanks for reading this…if you have read this far!

I will be back to posting my normal Ramblings from now on.

Cheers, Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

Yoghurt Tasting.

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We often talk of how important punctuation and grammar are when writing. I think this is also true of the spoken word, oration and pronunciation should be a foremost concern.

NOT, I hasten to add, for everyday conversation where colloquialisms, dialects and vernaculars colour our conversations and lives, but when the spoken word is transmitted by mainstream media.

I believe, broadcasters have a duty to society to articulate, to use elocution and enunciation to the highest standard and, by doing so, enable our young to learn the wonders of well-versed dialogue, gain the ability for constructive discourse and communication.

How can we expect our young to learn to speak clearly and precisely, to acquire the ability to explain, to communicate effectively, if the denizens of our communications industry cannot do so themselves?

Personally, I do not think ‘dumbing down’ standards to ‘accommodate’ those considered, in correct ‘PC’ terms to be ‘less fortunate’ is the answer. This only has the effect of decreasing the overall standards by suggesting the lowering of general standards are acceptable. Which, of course, they are not.

I fear for the future.

Today I found myself disappointed by such a badly enunciated sentence.

“…blah, blah, blah…27-year-old Emma, a Yoghurt taster from Essex…. blah, blah, blah…”

Now…I have, as many of you do, a writers mind. This is a strange and oft uncontrollable beast. One which will pick-up on tid-bits and oddities which would, for the greater part, pass most people by without causing a ripple in their lives.

But for those of us who are cursed, or blessed, with such minds will know once this beast has focused on its intended target, once it has its victim firmly caught, there is little we can do until it has satisfied its hunger, or passions, or whatever desires need stating.

This was my situation earlier today. As soon as that sentence had been spoken my muse went into overdrive.

A quick and personal excuse (Disclaimer!): I was not watching or listening to the programme being broadcast, it was just ‘on’. My wife had switched the TV on earlier and it was playing away in the background.

So, where was I? Oh, yes my muse awakening, giving me a jolt.

Questions started to flood my head, ‘Yoghurt taster’ what kind of a job was that? Was it a flavour tasting position or simply to ensure the product was of a certain quality? Maybe this was a taste panel for R&D, for new products, new lines?

How did one get a job like that? Could I get a job like that? What qualifications, besides liking yoghurt, did one need?

My muse was excited; could this be part of a plot? A Poisoning?  Mass poisoning…holding corporations to ransom? Maybe the start of strange happenings in a small town… Zombie like conditions…Mmmm? My mind continued to race.

However, I love that word so I’ll say it again!

However, somewhere beside my overly stimulated muse, I had a nagging doubt such a position, a job as a yoghurt taster, actually existed. Food taster, yes. But I could not believe anyone could be employed solely as a Yoghurt taster.

No, I convinced myself, something was wrong. (Much to the annoyance of my muse!).

Thanks to modern technology, satellite, cable, Digi-boxes etc. we are able to do so many things with ‘live’ and ‘on-air’ television which have previously been impossible. One of these is instant ‘re-wind’.

This is what I used to take the programme back to the point where the ‘voice-over’ presenter stated that Emma was a ‘Yogurt taster’ from Essex.

This time I would actually be watching and listening to the broadcast, rather than having it grumbling away in the background, where only my subconscious was taking note.

Sitting too close and staring at the screen, like a six-year-old child, I pressed ‘play’. The images began to move and the narrator started to speak.

DarkAngelcaps_008

“…blah, blah, blah…27-year-old Emma, a Yoga teacher from Essex…. blah, blah, blah…”

I played this over and again, four times in total, until I was absolutely certain this version was the correct one.

Emma was a yoga teacher and not a yoghurt taster, as I had first thought.

This was not me miss-hearing, it was clearly a case of shameful presentation.

I must say, I was more than a little disappointed.

I am sure, in the world of yoghurt, tasters are required? although I am uncertain of what the progression of seniority may be in such a profession. Perhaps one starts with the ‘own label’ products, progressing to ‘natural’ before moving to thick ‘Greek-style’ yoghurts. Maybe, an alternative route would be to delve into the technical realm of flavours, or the scientific corridor of ‘low-fat’ and ‘healthy’ options.

I guess I shall never know.

A divergent track that leads me, by some circuitous route, back to where I began this post; which is where I stated my belief that major broadcasters and, in many respects, our respective Governments, should take responsibility for the clarity and precision of language when transmitting programmes.

The above is a prime example of bad annunciation and elocution, the equivalent in my book, (note the pun!), of bad grammar and punctuation in writing.

Besides, my restless muse was unnecessarily disturbed.

Now I have to find an excuse NOT to write a novel about a wicked dairy farmer, who decides to get his revenge on the local townsfolk by plying them with infected yoghurt, thus turning them into pliable and malleable zombie-like humanoids who forever more will do the farmers bidding. Of course, as with all good pulp-fiction, there is always one young girl who hates all milk type products, regardless of flavour. Perhaps it is she who can fight back against the forces of evil and bovine product manipulation to save the earth…or at least the local town?

That is all I am going to say on the matter!

Milkmaid

So, until next time, enjoy your writing, even if your inspiration has been stimulated by a miss-print or badly spoken presenter. But please, please take care with your grammar. You never know when someone may read your work live on air, they may even be an ex yoghurt taster venturing into a new career!

 

Thank you for reading, Paul.

You may like to visit my website and see what else I am writing? http://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

© Paul White 2016    RTWM310716/975

Getting intimate with your readers.

8-Romantic-Gestures-From-the-Olden-Days-That-Need-To-Come-Back

 

By intimate I mean really intimate, telling your readers about your ‘ills’, your personal peccadillos, your most secret sexual pleasures.

Sounds like something you would never do?

Well, maybe you should.

Now, bear with me whilst I, in my usual rambling fashion, seem to digress. I assure you all will become clear as you read on.

 

A short while ago I read an article by…(I forget who!)…which said, that reading is just using words to make suggestions, it is the readers mind that creates the images and makes the story.

To explain this further; when you introduce a character into your story, regardless of your own imagination, each reader will ‘build’ their own personal vision of how that character is; what they are wearing, how they walk, the tone and rhythm of their voice.

The finite details of the car or train they ride in will appear in the reader’s head like a movie scene. Each person will imagine this in a style which is unique to them.

As the reader turns page after page, the houses, the streets, the towns and cities evolve to create that readers own singular and distinctive world. Your words become their (the readers) own story, set in their own world.

All you have done, as the writer, is string one suggestive idea after another; the rest is perception, imagination and vision of the individual holding your book.

This is something I find fascinating; the ability to share thoughts and ideas with another person, a person who you, most likely, will never meet. Moreover, this ability to ‘suggest’ to place guided concepts into another’s mind has no limitations regarding time or space.

Whether the reader is a few meters or a million miles away; or indeed is reading your book a year, a decade or in a thousand years from now, your suggestive words will still stimulate their own imaginations, still allow and encourage them to create a version of that nether-world, a world you fashioned from thought in some timeless point and place.

At this juncture you may be asking yourself “what does any of this have to do with intimacy?

Allow me to continue.

We all have personal and private thoughts; many we never share, even with those closest to us. This is not a fault or a weakness of character. It is simply what we do, as humans, as people.

Now, these things can be simple; like a certain smell evoking a memory. Possibly a memory from childhood, good or bad. But because it is an innermost secret we never reveal the emotions it stirs within us.

Another could be sexual pleasure, a certain touch, in a certain place, given by a former lover or during self-stimulation? Possibly, probably, never shared with another. The reason could again be many, primarily held within to protect us from the possibility of ridicule, however unjust or superficial that may be in reality.

Often not revealing such is matter privacy, of not wanting to be embarrassed, or at least not wanting to give someone else the opportunity to embarrass us. Sometimes it may be protection of another sort, defense against the risk of giving leverage; presumed or real.

That all said and done, I know not a single person upon this earth who are not holding such personal secrets close. We all have them. Even you. Although sometimes we try to hide them from ourselves because of the pain, the hurt, the sorrow or guilt they dredge up from our pasts.

This is the form, the type of intimacy that I believe, as authors, we should share with our readers.

Now, before you shout at me, call me crazy, deluded or worse, let me clarify my train of thought regarding this matter.

I am not saying we should all blatantly reveal our souls; neither am I proposing a mass catharsis. I am simply expressing my view that, as each and every reader is creating their own version of your basic story, as suggested by the words you have written, that to get under the skin of your readers, to endear them to your story, your style of writing, your narration and, of course, to identify with your characters; what better way than to share with them some of the most intimate, emotive and emotional secrets a person can hold?

Doing so will further the perception of true-life, of reality for your readers. Just as you share some of your secrets with those closest to you, your partner, husband, wife, best friend, mother?

Such intimacy builds trust, strengthens relationships, cements bonds. What better way to endear your readers?

This does not mean you have to write a ‘tell-all’ revelation of your own life.

It does mean that you can and, in my humble opinion, should draw on your own life experiences, even those dark and deeply personal ones, to share with your readers. Remember they shall be relating your words to the intimate areas of their own lives not yours.

As fiction writers we cloak reality with fiction, mix fact and fantasy on a daily basis. Nothing changes; what may be perceived as fact is realised to be false and vice versa.

You can become as intimate as you wish with your readers when you draw on your most confidential of life’s experiences. They shall not be judging you, they will be judging you work…and their own lives.

If you still hold concerns about this, let me leave you with these words:

“Everything I write is fiction, except the bits that are true. Although my readers tend to think the truth is fiction and fiction the truth. I just wish I knew the difference”.

Thank you for reading yet another ‘Rambling from a Writers Mind’ blog post.

You may want to read my new book collection, ‘Tales of Crime & Violence’, a number of short (& not so short) stories, focusing on the cognitive and emotional aspects of those involved with, or caught up in, unusual circumstances.

 

C&Vfront2

 

 

UK Paperback  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Crime-Violence-Paul-White/dp/1522904565/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451428092&sr=1-1&keywords=tales+of+crime+%26+violence+volume+3

 

 

 

C&Vfront1USA Paperback  http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Crime-Violence-Paul-White/dp/1522904565/ref=sr_1_2_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451428456&sr=8-2&keywords=Tales+of+crime+%26Violence+volume+3

 

 

 

Box set C&V

 

 

Kindle Worldwide http://authl.it/B019VNDE5E

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking the writing rules

Happy Writer

 

How often do you read an article telling you how to write?

Quite often I guess. I know I do. I have even been guilty of writing some myself, all well intentioned of course.

Ninety nine, or ninety five per-cent of the time these rules should be followed. They should be adhered to as far as possible, because they are the benchmark from which all writing is judged.

However…I love that word! So I’ll say it again.

However, I am a strong believer that a writer should push their own boundaries from time to time. They should break out of the glass cage.

I often do so by playing about, experimenting. Call them ‘writing exercises’ if you will.

In the past I have written in a minimalistic fashion, told a story using underutilised and obscure words. In another I used metasyntactic terminology. My poetry often pushes whatever limits are generally imposed.

So it is I regular break writing conventions.

Doing this has helped me enormously with that wonderful black art of wordsmithing. Undertaking such exercises challenges ourselves and our, often self-imposed, perceived limits. Such tasks enable us to extend descriptive narrative, create depth of characters and make our stories flow.

While I would not recommend that anyone attempts to write an entire novel ‘outside the box of rules’, I do encourage each and every one to task themselves with such matters.

The following is one such exercise. It is a short story, a flash fiction if you wish, of almost six-hundred words.

The point of this particular task was to see if I could construct a story using a string of very short sentences, whilst including only the most minimal of descriptive words and then when only absolutely necessary.

The reason for that is, when a long string of short sentences are used it tends to become monotonous for the reader. Generally, sentences must vary in length to convey the ‘feel’ of each part of the narrative.

Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are of course basic stock of a writer’s armory. So removing these, as far as possible, presents another contest against one’s abilities.

I hope I have succeeded in my mission. You are more than welcome to comment on the story itself, or on my attainment or failure in this test.


Mano-De-Autoestopista-90269

Hitchhiker

 

I am old school.

From a time when life seemed simpler, less hectic, less complicated.

It was not. It was just different.

Some will say that ‘way back when’ life was safer, people were happier, times were better.

They were not. Life was simply lived at a slower pace.

There was less fear. Less anxiety and more acquiescence.

I think life was more honest.

We were more honest.

With ourselves.

Life holds risks. You have to live with that.

Take your chances. Accept the possibilities.

Face the consequences.

That is how it goes.

We recognised that. Acknowledged that.

That is what made life simpler.

 

Like hitchhiking.

Like the figure I see ahead of me now. Checked shirt, blue jeans, backpack, thumb-out.

Quite rare nowadays, hitchhikers.

Too much fear. Mostly unwarranted.

Nurtured and spread by the media.

But who should hold that apprehension.

The driver?

I could drive on past. No one will make me stop.

Is the hiker a danger? A mass murderer?

A Rapist?

Is their thumb a lure for the unsuspecting?

Or

The Hiker?

Simply travelling home.

Should they get into the car?

Could I be a psychotic killer?

Could I be the Rapist?

Is my car a trap?

 

As I get closer I see the expectant look on the hiker’s face.

A bright smile.

Willing me to slow.

To stop.

I feel a compulsion.

An obligation to a fellow human.

I have been there myself. Thumb out. Waiting, hoping.

Praying for the next car to stop.

To give me a ride.

A ride to somewhere warm. Somewhere with hot coffee.

The hiker looks clean. Normal.

Conventional.

I slow. Maneuver towards the roadside.

Stop a few yards beyond.

Looking in my mirror.

Watching.

 

The hiker picks up a small rucksack.

Running towards me.

I lock the doors.

Clunk. Safe.

I can leave. Go.

Put my foot on the accelerator.

Speed away.

The hiker is close now.

My last chance.

Decision time.

A smiling face appears at the window.

I smile back.

Still time.

Go?

Stay?

 

I press a switch.

The window hums. Open.

Half open.

I hear my voice. “Heading North” it says.

“Me too” the hiker replies.

I nod.

The hiker smiles.

Expectancy.

I smile back.

Trepidation.

Time stands still.

Momentarily.

 

Click.

I unlock the doors.

My own thumb jerks, a backward motion.

“Put your back in the back” my voice speaks again.

Autonomously.

The bag lands on the rear seats.

Drive away, I think.

Take the bag.

Go. Now.

What is in the bag.

Some clothing.

An iPad.

Money.

Or the hiker’s life?

Their entire possessions.

A lifetime or memories.

Lost loves, lost mother.

A bag of dreams, hopes for the future?

Is that where they are heading now?

The future.

Thiers. Mine. Ours? Has this moment inexorably entwined our lives?

Left an indelible mark.

Or just a scratch. Unnoticeable, hidden. One that will fade, become rubbed out

As life progresses?

 

Getting-In-a-Strangers-Car

 

The door opens.

Blue eyes, bright teeth, pale skin.

The hiker sits next to me.

“Thank you” she says.

“That’s okay” I reply.

I put the car in gear, heading North.

Our lives are meshed. At least for the next one hundred miles.

If she makes it that far.

If I make it that far.

Who knows?

Life holds risks. You have to live with that.

Take your chances. Accept the possibilities.

Face the consequences.

That is how it goes.

You see, I am old school.

I know what makes life simple.

 

© Paul White 2016

Feel free to visit my website, browse around, poke you nose into every corner. Make yourself at home!

http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white