Long Time Coming

I’ve been meaning to update my blog for a while, and I know this has been a long time coming. I’ve been exhausted though, and somewht distracted. Exams finished almost a month ago, but they left me feeling drained. I had a whole entry I was going to write about the top things I learned after my first year at Durham, and all I can think to say is just don’t do it.

That’s not true, of course. Totally do it, it’s, I’m sure, worth it in the long run. But it’s just such a different experience than community college, or even American universities. It’s so intense. I’ll still write the entry, I think, but I’m still getting over the stress.

Since finishing the year, I’ve been trying to work on other things. I’ve been working on brandng for a pen name I have in mind in which I write according to certain tropes. It’s an experiment and also a means of me trying to figure out self publishing before I consider whether or not I want to put something out there I’m really proud of. Part of this pen name experiment is that I’m looking at a bunch of writer self-help books, taking their advice and trying to put it to use. This includes advice from groups like 20booksto50K, which encourages writers to publish a book every three months, and books like 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox.

I’ve also finsihed revising my (hopefully) finally draft of my novel that I’ve been working on for the past four years. It’s in the hands of beta readers at the moment, and I have somewhere I’m looking to sumbit it to this month. I’ve also been working on a couple of short stories, one which I’ve submitted as well. I’m waiting to hear back on those. Last year my goal was to submit three things for publication, which I did. This year is to double that. Once I submit this novel, I’ll be four in, with two to go. We’ll see how it all goes.

And finally I’ve been doing things regarding my wrist, which is still causing me problems. Granted, they’re nowhere near as bad as they were, these problems, but I still have issues with it. I went to a musculo-skeletal doctor (however that’s spelled), who sent me to have an MRI done. I did that the other day, which was a very weird experience. Then next week I’ve got to have elctronic pulses or something along those lines sent through my nerves.

I do have to say, as I always do, kudos to the NHS. I wouldn’t be able to get any of this done in the States, nor, I’m sure, would a doctor recommend having these things done.

But that’s the brief catch up. That’s where I’m at.

Wonderbox Publishing

The last week has been pretty productive, though I don’t want to share too much about the projects I hopefully have in the bag just yet–I don’t want to jinx anything.

However, one thing I will talk about is Wonderbox publishing.

I mentioned a while ago that my story was submitted and accepted in November. Things got a little delayed, and while I’ve been paid, the actual publication hasn’t come out yet. Well, it’s about to. But I need your support.

They’ve created a Kickstarter Campaign to raise some money to pay the contributing authors (that’s me!) more money as well as to create a hardback version of the anthology. Their goal isn’t particularly much (considering I saw another Kickstarter for an author who was asking for $10k for her second book), only £1,600. However, anything you can do to share, to donate, whatever, would be amazing.

Thanks guys!

Normal Deviation: 
The Completed Weird Fiction Anthology

Normal Deviation

All Over But Nowhere

A couple of years ago, I changed the name of this blog to ‘Scribing English All Over the Place’ because of a philosophy teacher I had. He said that people would tell him his lectures were all over the place, and that the key part of the comment was ‘the place’. It’s still centered, despite being everywhere.

That’s the way I’ve been feeling while on break. I have opened WordPress and closed the tab so many times, initially with the idea of reading the blogs I follow and writing a bit while I’m at it. But then I thought that I should be making flashcards to study for exams next month (NEXT MONTH!!!!!!), or I should be working on editing my novel–or that oh wait, I have another novel I want to get done that I think I can pump out really fast if only I have a detailed enough outline, but then really I should be acquiring more editing work. Of course, all the while I should be sowing the seeds for our vegetable garden so we can eat next winter, but oh dear, the weather has been conveniently crap–and now the eggs are hatching and really I shouldn’t leave the chicks when they’re this young on their own…..

And so on and so forth.

All over the damn place. But, I’m still in the place. I’m still productive. While I’m working on a hundred things at a time, I’m still focussed on an overarching goal, still being productive, and still keeping things interesting.

So no, I haven’t actually written in my blogs for a while, nor have I been a good reader for the blogs that I follow. But I’ll get back in the swing of things. Recently I’ve just been enjoying the freedom to tool around over here, then over there, and then back over to the north side of the whatever, without demand of a schedule.

I will study.

I will edit my novel.

I will sow my garden (at least I freaking hope I will).

But for now, I’m happy doing a little bit here and there and just getting things nudging along slowly.


Please feel free to visit my website at www.authornjthompson.com and subscribe to my newsletter. I’m also accepting manuscript for proofreading and development editing.

Exploring New Genres

There’s not really any reason for it, at least, not that I can tell. But it’s drawing me–no, dragging me across the floor as I claw desperately to stop it. I don’t know why my feeble nails are useless against it.

I have this strange interest developing in Science Fiction Westerns. I know, it’s weird, right? I write contemporary fiction these days, with the occasional splash of horror. Where does science fiction come into it? Or Westerns for that matter?

Though, let’s be clear: I’m not writing Space Westerns. Nope. I have no interest in producing something like Firefly (which I really just did not get into at all), but rather something involving technology advancing–not using steam (that would then alter the genre to steampunk)–in some odd way.

I did have the brilliant idea that it could involve time travel, and then I realized that what I was thinking of was the plot to Back to the Future 3, which would then make that a no-go. Aliens could come from the sky, but I think there was a Harrison Ford movie about Cowboys and Aliens, or something along those lines. I never saw it.

So I guess what I’m wondering is if anyone reads science-fiction westerns that aren’t space westerns, that I could read and get a feel for the genre. I’d like to know if this is a passing I’m-on-break-for-a-month-and-can’t-get-my-brain-to-shut-up-so-I’ll-explore-something-completely-different-and-weird, or something I can truly get behind.

It’s on my to-do list to check out TVTropes.org and see if I can find anything interesting on there regarding the subject, but I’d much rather hear from actual people with their own experiences. Please feel free to share them with me!

A General Update: What is Going On with Writing

Of course, as to be expected, university and general life has kept me pretty busy.  But I do have some writing news that I thought I would share.

New News

First of all, I am now an editor of Durham University’s online magazine, The Bubble, specifically an editor of the environment section. I am one of three, and since our writers are pretty few and far between, I am essentially one of the writers for it as well.

Wonderbox Anthology

I haven’t heard any more regarding my publication with Wonderbox, so I think they’re running a bit behind. Initially they had said they hoped the digital copy would be released by the end of February, though it’s pretty close to it and I haven’t heard anything about it, nor seen any advertisement on their social media.

Carpe Nocturne

Carpe Nocturne has also had a few setbacks, and the winter issue that was meant to come out in the middle of January should be hopefully released at the end of this month as well, though the communication has been pretty scant.

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Blogs

However, despite the addition of projects and setbacks of other publications, I have had time to get a little bit of blogging in on my other two blogs:

Hodgepodge and Food Gathering, my frugal-living blog: 10 Things I’ve Learned About Incubating Chicken Eggs
As someone who hasn’t really done the incubating thing other than when I was maybe 7 and in elementary school (I recall a whole farm unit. I think I had a teacher obsessed with cows), I don’t really know too much about incubating eggs. So I thought I’d share what I learned.

Hopscotch and Woolgathering, my travel blog: Brancepth, County Durham
We happened upon a very quaint little village, and thought I would share our experience.

Other

I have a new project that I’m working on through the university, though until it gets at least slightly off the ground, or starts rolling in one way or another, I don’t know that I’m ready to talk about it. So that’s about all you get from that!

 

American Vs. British Grammar and Style

Because I’m gearing up to go to university in the UK, and I’ve been brought up to know Americanese, I decided I should look into any potential problems I might come across when writing my essays at uni. I was mostly thinking along the lines of punctuation rules, though as it turns out, there’s quite a few differences!

Singular and Plural Group Nouns

Group nouns are nouns (person, place, or thing) that have to do with a group of people or beings. So, a pack of wolves, the government, the staff, a team, etc. Apparently, while Americans will always have a singular verb following, depending on the context, British English with have either singular or plural.

The examples given by One Stop English are as follows:

British:
My team is winning.
The other team are all sitting down.

American:
Which team is winning?

British:
Which team is/are losing?

To go a little further, The Writer makes mention that Americans have a tendency to view brand names as teams, and thus will treat them as a single entity, while in British English, it is treated as a plural.

British:
Amazon have changed their logo

American:
Google is making a new phone

Take and Have

In American English, some verbs use “take” in front of them. However, in similar verbs, British English would use “have” instead of “take”. .

Have a shower –> Take a shower
Have a holiday –> Take a vacation
Have a nap –> Take a nap

Past Tenses

We’ll work with the generic term of past tense, for now, and just ignore the various past tenses that branch out from taking about events which have gone. However, there are some terms that are used one way in one country, and differently in the other. I’ll only point out the blaring ones, but you can read the whole of the table here.

American | British

Gotten      | got
Pleaded/pled |pleaded
Proven      | proved
Stank/stunk | stank
Woke/waked | woke

Spellings

When looking at the spelling differences between American English and British English, it’s easy to see the connection to France. Many of the British English spellings are similar to the French spellings of similar words. I can’t say why American English decided they were cool enough to alter language and the history that comes with it, but I suppose that makes a statement about the country itself.

–our

There are some of the obvious ones, that if you speak a latin-based alnaguage on the side of English, happen to live very close to Canada, or just love to read British books, you’ll already know. These ones are the general insertion of the letter u into certain, or the reversing of “er” in other words:

color–>colour
neighbor–>neighbour
valor–>valour
theater–>theatre
center–>centre
fiber–>fibre

There are exceptions to this. Words like acre, massacre, mediocre, and ogre all carry the same spelling in all versions of English.

–og

Words which end in -og in American English are not exempt from spelling alterations. In British English, this will glue back on some vowels, –ue, to be precise. Words like:

analog–>analogue
epilog–>epilogue
catalog–>catalogue

However, as both SpellZone and my American spellcheck assure me, the –ue ending is acceptable in US spellings as well.

–se

Other words trade out an s for a z (by the way, in the UK, and basically every other English-speaking country other than the US, a z is called “zed”). In words ending in -ize in American English, the British kick out the zed and turn it to an s:

realize–>realise
demonize–>demonise
sensationalized–>sensationalised

–ce

However, in American English, we hold on to the s, in some words, while in British English, it might be a c. These are generally words ending in –se such as:

defense–>defence
license–>licence
offense–>offence

But it gets a little more complicated than that. While in American English, we’re happy to have many words have the same spelling for their verb as their noun, in English spelling they will change the spelling.

American English, words like practice, license, and advice are all spelled the same regardless of whether they’re an action word or a thing. However, in British English:

Noun | Verb

Practice | Practise
Licence | License
Advice | Advise

–ae/–oe

Then there’s the obscure ones, such as words written with a ae/oe in British English. Those words, when translated into American spellings, shift to just an e. So, words like:

anemia–>anaemia
osophagus–>osoephagus
pediatric–>paediatric

-l/-ll

This gets interesting. Let’s start with the basic, present tense. There are American English words which end in -oll and -ill, which when written in British English, drop one of the l’s:

fulfill–>fulfil
enroll–>enrol

However, if something generally ends in -ll (like skill), but there is a modifier on it which turns it to an adjective, American English will just tack the modifier on without change. British English, will get rid of the l’s in the root word before doing this:

skillful–>skilful

If there is a modifier which alters the verb, but still keeps it a verb, then there is no change in spelling. Example words are:

signaling
propelled
revealing

There is an exception to this rule, and unfortunately, I can’t give any details as to why this is an exception. But in British English, turning label to past tense warrants an extra l in there at the end, whereas in American English, it doesn’t.

Labeled–>labelled
cancel–>cancelled
traveled–>travelled

There is a more extensive list of these anomalies here, or you can see more sources in the links at the bottom of the page.

Odd ones out

There are more odd ones out, and a few will be listed here (American spelling first, as has been the trend in this post), though a more extensive list can be found this Quora Forum.

Hiccup–>hiccough
Mold–>mould
Donut–>doughnut
Tires–>tyres (the wheel)
Program–>programme
check–>cheque
grey–>gray

Punctuation

Quotation Marks

General

Most people have read something published in the UK, and might have spotted the difference when it comes to quotation marks. In the US, the double marks are used (as you’ll have seen earlier in this post, but incase you haven’t, these are “double quotations”). In British literature, you’ll see the ‘single quotations’. This is also the only reason why I made sure every one of my Harry Potter books were purchased in the UK.

With other punctuation

This one gets a little tricky to explain, so I’ll take a quote right from the Oxford University Style Guide:

“If the quote would have required punctuation in its original form, place the punctuation inside the quotation marks. (if it is unclear, try writing the whole sentence out without quotation marks and ‘he said’ etc, and replace the resulting punctuation.)

Bob likes cheese –>    ‘Bob’, I said, ‘likes cheese.’ OR
‘Bob likes cheese,’ I said.

Bob, do you like cheese? –>  ‘Bob,’ I asked, ‘do you like cheese?’

Out, damn’d spot!–>  ‘Out,’ said Lady Macbeth, ‘damn’d spot!’

‘You’re engaged to Florence?’ I yipped, looking at him with wild surmise.

“Place any punctuation which does not belong to the quote outside the quotation marks (except closing punctuation if the end of the quote is also the end of the sentence).

After all, tomorrow is another day. –>
‘After all,’ said Scarlett, ‘tomorrow is another day.’ OR
‘After all, tomorrow’, said Scarlett, ‘is another day.’

‘The kitchen’, he said, ‘is the heart of the home.’”

Terminology

Sentence Ending

This actually has nothing to do with the use of it, but rather the terminology. In American English, the end of the sentence is generally (though not always) concluded with a period. In British English, it’s concluded with a full stop. It’s the same dot at the end, just different ways of comment on it.

Lettering

Likewise, while there is different terminology for the end of a sentence, there is different terminology at the beginning of it (as well as other applications). The first word of a sentence is always capitalized/capitalised. In the UK, it’s common to say capitalised lettering and small letters, whereas in the States, they’ll be referred to as upper and lower cases.

[()]

There are two meanings for the word “bracket”. In the US, a bracket is the square looking things that we might use in math problems, and sometimes in journalism and quoting: [ ]. In the UK, however, they are the rounder ones, the ones that are called, in the US, parentheses, as well as the square ones. They differentiate in terms, calling them round brackets ( ) and square brackets [ ].

 

Helpful Note

  • According to One Stop English, in international classrooms—so classes on both sides of the pond—both forms of English are accepted.
  • There are plenty of online sources if confusion does occur
  • If you start with British English in a piece/paper, carry through in British English style. Likewise with American English. The moral of the story, is don’t mix and match.

More Links

 

 

Have you noticed some key gramatical differences between Englishes? What have I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Why Welsh Autumns Are the Best

I have a love/hate relationship with North Wales. I have spent my whole life visiting here, and while I’ve always loved seeing my granny and going to the beach when I was a child, moving here straight out of high school was a whole different experience. Being that it’s pretty touristy, I would go from manic summers where I was working 60-100 hour weeks (divided (mostly) between jobs), to having so little work that I needed benefit assistance to get me through the winter. It’s kind of intense.

I did that for the first four years of my adult life, and when I did finally move back to the States, I said I’d never do it again.

Well, here I am. I’ve just survived the insanity of the summer (with an injury this time–60 hours work is not my game any more, it would seem), and entering into the autumn. And I realize now why it is that I stayed for so long. The autumns here are the best.

img_3654

  1. It’s Quiet
    This is something that you wouldn’t really think of to notice unless you went through the summers here. People come from all over the country, and sometimes the world, to visit North Wales during the summer. It’s a beautiful place and there’s plenty to do–from the coastal paths to sailing to surfing, to just spending too much money.
    The village I live in, at the time that I first lived here, had a permanent population of 800 people. I read one year that during Wakestock (a now extinct festival), the population rose to 20,000. That is insane! Then you have all the sailing races that the rich folk like to be there for, and all the other events that are now catering to the business of the season.
    So when it’s done, and school kicks in and everyone goes home, the villages are like ghost towns. It’s amazing.
    You can find parking. People aren’t getting in your way because–let’s face it–people in herds get dumb. People are there to relax opposed to spend money, so they’re more likely to be friendly and take the time to be polite. It’s just nice, relaxing, and quiet.
    img_3620
  2. The Weather
    img_3623I have so many locals disagree with me on this one, but I swear it’s true–the weather is better when there’s no tourists. I’m not saying the tourists drive the weather to rain, because I’ve totally been here during the summer months, as a tourist, and had beautiful weather. No, what I’m saying is that the best weather months are May and September through October. All the rest of the months are just rain, kind of bleh, for the most part. There are the odd nice days, or partially cloudy days, but not nice nice. Or if they are, they’re too hot (for my liking at least).
    But the reason why the autumn nice weather is better than the May nice weather is because it’s relaxing weather. Coupled with the calm after the storm, the sun and the mild warmth is pleasant. It seems to seep into the bones more. You want to be in it, but you want to relax in it. In May, you’re so energized of breaking through the lethargy of the winter that there’s too much to do, to much want to do any of it. But after the summer, the warmth soaks into you with a slight breeze that carries my next point…
  3. The Leaves
    img_3558I know, I know, it’s everyone’s favorite part of autumn. But it truly is worth noting. After the trees have been lapping up the delicious summer rain, they’re drying up and ready to change and shed their leaves, and they just smell divine.
    I come from a place that looks like it’s been carved out of the trees. I’m not a stranger to masses of trees and their leaves changing. And I love it. There is a heavy dose of ecstasy when I watch the swirls of leaves across the road.
    But there’s something different when the leaves are coming from the Welsh Snowdonia mountains. I spend a lot of time in the slate-mine village of Blaenau-Ffestiniog, and so I drive and walk through the woods quite a bit. And I cannot tell you how much joy those leaves bring me.
    The tips of the leaves are singing to orange and yellow, and they are just so eager to act as a veil to my destination. Combine that with the rolling quilt of the farmlands that look like they’re lumpy with kittens–it is something breathtaking.
  4. Mushroom Hunting
    As a budding mushroom hunter, I cannot get over how many varieties of fungus there is around here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m spoiled rotten for the fungus amung us in the Pacific NorthWest, but here is just as lush with specimens. When I was growing up, in August, Granny and I would always pick field mushrooms just outside her house. I could see the fairy rings they grew in from the windows, and loved to just marvel at them. Now, as an adult, I’m on the hunt for culinary purposes, and just general curiosity. I have a fascination with them, and there are a plethora all over the Snowdonia National Park.

Until you experience it, you won’t know the difference between a Welsh autumn and that of one in Scotland, The Pacific Northwest, or Germany. And in all honesty, I’ve only experienced one of the three I just mentioned. But if you have the chance to spend a month and a half in Wales, make it the last half of August through to October. It’s worth it, I promise.

Happy Equinox, dear reader.

What is your favorite seasonal experience? Is there any location that you find to be unique with its seasons? I want to know! Let me know in the comments!