Clue or Red Herring


Whilst reading a book or watching a film, even a TV drama, I do enjoy picking up on clues. Those little moments when the writer throws in a stepping stone for us to move a little bit closer to solving the old question. Whodunnit?

I like to marvel at just how many of these clues are not really that, but so-called Red Herrings.

Where does the term Red Herring come from?

 According to an entry in Wikipedia

The origin of the expression is unknown. Conventional wisdom has long supposed it to be the use of a kipper (a strong-smelling smoked fish) to train hounds to follow a scent, or to divert them from the correct route when hunting; however, modern linguistic research suggests that the term was probably invented in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, referring to one occasion on which he had supposedly used a kipper to divert hounds from chasing a hare, and was never an actual practice of hunters. The phrase was later borrowed to provide a formal name for the logical fallacy and literary device.>

I’ve always been interested in the origin of expressions we use every day without thinking. Those which have a meaning completely unrelated to its words. There are so many of these we mostly don’t even think about them:

  1. Bite the bulletUsed as a type of anaesthetic, patients would be given a bullet to bite
  2. Break the iceWhen ships were stuck the nearest nation would send their vessels to release it
  3. Mad as a hatterNothing to do with Lewis Carrol’s books but from a disease of hat makers, caused by Mercury used in the process, which brought about strange behaviour
  4. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwaterIn the early 1500s, people only bathed once a year. Not only that, but they also bathed in the same water without changing it! The adult males would bath first, then the females, leaving the children and babies to go last. By the time the babies got in, the water was clouded with filth. The poor mothers had to take extra care that their babies were not thrown out with the bathwater.
  5. Give the cold shoulderIn medieval England, it was customary to give a guest a cold piece of meat from the shoulder of mutton, pork, or beef chop when the host felt it was time for the guest to leave. This was a polite way to communicate, “You may leave, now.”

These are just a few of the many sayings we have in the English language.

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Reading Your Novel on a Kindle

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I have recently discovered this trick. For anyone who is writing their first, second, third, tenth great novel and are at the stage where they are reading its first/second/whatever draft then this could be for you. I used to have a Kindle tablet but now just use the Kindle app on my iPad and Android phone and it works great on these too.

You can actually send your unedited masterpiece to your Kindle and then read and annotate it, just as you would if it was an ebook you had purchased.

One of the great advantages of using this method is that:

a. It’s easy to do.

b. It looks like a book.

c. It’s in book reading format

d. It’s free

The last item is a real bonus as there is also no paper cost or printer ink. If you prefer to print and read then that’s fine. You could still use this method after you have done that level. The choice is yours. All you have to do is to email to your (Or someone else’s) Kindle email address. Each Kindle account has a unique email address which you’ll find in the settings of the tablet/app. Then you simply attach your novel to an email and send it that address. Sync the Kindle and there it will be for you to work with.

You can find full and detailed instruction on the Amazon website for your individual country.

Why not give it a try? Can’t hurt.

Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide To The Kindle Store is FREE

David Gaughran

Amazon DecodedLet’s Get Digital 3 was announced this week and it is going very well indeed, with 1,000 copies pre-ordered already. The amount of sharing and recommending and tweeting has been spectacular – I’m very grateful to you all.

In fact, I have a gift for you.

Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide to the Kindle Store is now available. And it’s FREE. All you need to do is sign up to my mailing list to get a copy. That’s it. And you can unsubscribe right after if you wish, I don’t mind at all! Really.

If you need more convincing, here’s the blurb:

The author of Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible is back to reveal the inner machinations of the biggest bookstore in the world. By reading Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide To The Kindle Store, you will:

  • learn what “visibility marketing” is and how factoring Amazon’s…

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The Pomodoro Technique – Making Time

There is never enough time, is there?

Time is a commodity we all crave; whether it’s:

  • Time in bed
  • Leisure time
  • Family time
  • Time of life
  • Time to write

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These are just some of the things that the modern, fast, pace of life robs us of. So how do we find the time to finish, or even start, that novel that everyone has inside them? All the best selling writers have differing ideas. David Hewson (Author of over 20 books) has a clear and defined writing schedule and he stuck rigidly to it. He never writes at the weekend. Stephen King, one of the most prolific of modern writers, has set times for reading and for writing. Both of these writers and many others too began writing novels whilst working full time and juggling their time between, work, family and writing. Even Anthony Trollope, who wrote over 40 novels in Victorian Britain, and held down a demanding job in the Post Office.

So where do these great novelists find the time? They use their available, stolen, time productively. Trollope wrote for three hours every morning before heading off to work. It’s rumoured that he paid a servant to wake him at five each day so that he could write.

Allocating time to write is important but once you have the time; what then? We’ve all stared at a notepad or computer screen hoping that inspiration will come. Been distracted by an email or news item which we must read. When that happens and the inspiration doesn’t come we feel a little cheated knowing that time is lost forever.

In the late 1980’s Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer, shaped like a tomato, to focus his mind on the work in hand. The word Pomodoro comes from the Italian word for tomato.

There are six steps in the original technique:

  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
  3. Work on the task.
  4. End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
  6. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.

The idea is to make the focus on the time available. When the alarm rings (After 25 mins) take a break. Reset the timer to cover a break and when it rings again, your break is over. Reset the timer and off to work again. No other distractions should interfere with your productivity.

Maybe it’s worth a try in our fight against procrastination.

How I Found Scrivener.

Like most people who write anything, I started by using a pencil and paper. It’s untrue that I began with a chalk board or chiselling letters on a stone tablet! Then, at school, I used pen and ink. Those pens made terrific darts and still managed to write okay afterwards.

Later came the portable typewriter with gallons of correction fluid and waste paper baskets filled with spoiled sheets of type. I can still feel the heavy clatter of keys and hear the dull thud of metal levers hitting the drum, padded with blue Xerox paper so I could have a second copy of my efforts.

Technology advanced and I purchased a stand alone word processor, a marvellous innovation which allowed me to change words right there on the single line of green text. It also allowed me to save my work on to floppy discs which could be annotated with the name of the project for future reference.  This was a great innovation and once I had completed the work I could print it as many times as I required. Fantastic,

Suddenly computers were all the rage and writing software was developed that could be used with the new technology. Initially, it was supplied on floppy disc, as downloads were slow and rare.  The different software could be added or removed from the computer as required. The further advances of computer and internet use meant a rapid acceleration of affordability. In the early 1990’s I bought a Gateway computer with a 36mb hard drive (Yes, mb). This was my first foray into Microsoft Windows and Word. I thought it was marvellous and in many ways, it still is, though not for writing long texts. Using Word with a word count in the thousands is no fun, and soon becomes problematic and unmanageable. Although I’m certain there are thousands of books written using Word and, by the same token, millions of books written using pen and paper, it’s not my preferred medium.

The advent of CD-ROM and DVD meant that software development increased and improved. Suddenly there was almost anything you needed for your computer and companies were producing excellent writing software, easily obtained by mail order.

The increase in download speeds via broadband replaced the old dial-up speeds. Almost overnight it was possible to buy a software package, download it, and have installed on your home computer in minutes. Gone was the mail order, waiting for the package to drop through the letterbox. Life had become instant.

During that time I tried many writing packages; they were still not yet called apps. Too many to name here, but they all had something but not everything I required. In late 2012, I read an online article which extolled the virtues of a piece of incredible software called Scrivener. Developed, in the UK for the Mac, it had recently become available on the Windows platform. So I downloaded the trial offer and tried it out. Wow, it blew me away with its simplicity and power. It was exactly what I needed. Some of the features of the Mac version were unavailable on Windows and there was always the question, in the forums, ‘When will it catch up?’ Well, I never found out the answer as I bought a MacBook and purchased the version for that. They even kindly discounted it as I’d already, previously, bought the Windows version.

Then came the iOS version, and although it was a long time coming it was well worth the wait. I was involved in the Beta testing and as soon as I downloaded it I was hooked. Like many, I had a few problems with synchronising with Dropbox but that was soon sorted and was more down to my inexperience than the program itself.

Scrivener 3 is due to be released later this year and although that promises to be a paid-for update, I’m happy to do it. I’ve had five years of use of this superb piece of kit so I can’t complain about making a contribution to help fund the great work that goes on behind the scenes.

Oh, and just to add, I’ve even used the free Linux version of Scrivener successfully.

Ulysses v Scrivener

Anyone who’s read any of my blog posts will know that I use writing software to keep my work on track, organised and to generally make life a bit easier. I primarily use Scrivener for lengthy work but, some time ago, an author I follow recommended Ulysses. Unlike Scrivener, it had no try-before-you-buy period, at that time. So on the author’s recommendation, last August, I purchased it and I’ve used it extensively for the past year but mainly just for short stories and I have to admit that it’s cross platform functionality is second to none, thanks to iCloud link. (It’s only available on Apple products.)

For me, however, I just don’t like it as much as I love Scrivener. It’s a simple choice. I have two paid-for writing apps but one, Ulysses, I only use for writing short stories and Scrivener, which I use for my much longer pieces. So no problems there, you would think.

Then, I now discover that the product I bought and paid for a year ago is moving to subscription only. Which means I will have to pay $40 a year to use the software I’ve already purchased? I’m sure that there are many positives for the development and for improving the app but as I don’t really use it to its full potential, why would I bother to subscribe? Particularly as I love using Scrivener anyway. I know that Scrivener 3 is on the way and that I’ll have to pay to upgrade to that. I’ll do that happily, as I’ve already purchased Scrivener for Windows, Mac and iOS.

You can download Scrivener and use it free for thirty days from

https://www.literatureandlatte.com/

Give it a try, you have nothing to lose.

 

NaNoWriMo Approaches

It’s that time of year again. The time when I decide whether or not to take up the November writing challenge. I did it last year, won and have spent ever since trying to make my effort into something readable. I’m still working on it and its grown to over 90,000 words as I try to get it to a suitable ending.

In the past, I’ve always struggled to start or got bogged down in the middle somewhere. Lost focus or lost interest or just found that time had overtaken me and then it was difficult to get started again. I’ve been lucky to be able to use Scrivener to break it up into manageable chunks and lately I’ve started using Ulysses, which does the same but in a different way. In fact, I’m writing this in Ulysses as it allows me to post straight into WordPress and onto my blog. Easy.

I need to make up my mind shortly though as that will give me time to research and plan during October. Although I’m pretty sure that things will be busy for me in that month so as you can see. I’m a long way from deciding as we head towards the end of September. Have to wait and see I suppose.

If I abandon my 90,000+ word project for a couple of months whilst I indulge myself on NaNoWriMo will I ever start it again? On the other hand, if I do that and then come back to it will reading it again guide me to a suitable ending? Dilemma – I’ll let you know.