Thursday, 22 December 2011


I did a short review of Pete McCarthy's great book 'McCarthy's Bar' in which I mentioned a couple of his rules for the traveller. Here's the full list of those which are included in the book.  You'll notice there are a few numbers missing, so that's the challenge for everyone... fill in the gaps!
1. On arrival, buy a local paper and go for a drink.
2. The more bright the primary colours and ancient Celtic symbols outside the {Irish} pub, the more phony the interior.
3. Never bang on about how wonderful some unspoiled place is, because next time you go there, you won’t be able to get in.
7. Never eat in a restaurant with laminated menus.
8. Never pass a bar that has your name on it.
13. Never ask a British Airways stewardess for another glass of wine until she’s good and ready.
16. However exotic the country, the local radio phone-in quiz induces the traveller with a sudden and dramatic downturn in the will to live.
17. Never try to score dope from Hasidic Jews while under the impression they’re Rastafarians.
19. When perusing a menu, never consider anything containing the words “goujon”, “platter” or “cheesy.”
26. Any Italian travelling abroad will be accompanied by an even more glamorous person of the opposite gender.
28. Never get drunk with soldiers.
Anyone up for the challenge? We might even accept great new rules even if they aren't from the original list.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Mini Saga - it doesn't take many words to make a brilliant story!

Ken Magee Does anyone remember the UK Daily Telegraph 50-word sagas? Each story had to be exactly 50 words... here's a wonderful example called Targets by Gaynor Derbishire.

Every night he pretended to shoot himself in front of her. He enjoyed her pleas and screams of terror as the blanks went off.

Time for change, she decided wearily, swapping live bullets for the blanks.

Time for change, he decided jauntily; tonight I will pretend to shoot the baby.

Classic or what?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Compound words - a spelling lesson

When my editor/proofer returned my manuscript of Dark Tidings, I was surprised to see so many corrections to, what I discovered later are referred to as, compound words. Compound words can be used as nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs and can be spelled as one word, two words, or hyphenated. It sometimes depends on how the word is used and where it appears in the sentence. For example, word processing... a PC used for word processing will usually run a word-processing package.

Apparently I had adopted a very 'relaxed' style, which means I had spelt words in the way I felt made it easiest for the reader. I actually liked the style, but my publisher wanted formal spelling rules to be followed.

This was quite traumatic because I had to check all the compound words in the book... and that was after I had researched the subject and discovered that there are twenty-one (numbers are always hyphenated) basic rules. Here is an example of the rules.
A hyphenated compound is simply a combination of words joined by hyphens. The hyphen unites, and separates, the component words in a way that aids understanding, readability and the correct pronunciation e.g. well-to-do. An open compound is a combination of words so closely associated that they convey a specific idea or concept, but they are spelled as unconnected words e.g. lowest common denominator.
So now I have the basic rules sorted out, I can write the sequel without the worry of revisiting (not re-visiting) the whole text later. A word of warning though, have a good dictionary to hand at all times because the rules don't always give you the right answer.

And if you can't proofread the whole text, at least spot-check it (right or wrong?).

What word do you always struggle to spell?