Friday, January 25, 2013

PedXing and other linguistic mysteries

recreation of sign from memory

One of the greatest challenges in mastering any language is slang, acronyms and colloquialisms. Here’s one that had me stumped for weeks when I first arrived in the US (a long time ago).

Living in Hawaii at the time added another layer to the puzzle as Hawaii is such a diverse community.

I figured out the “PED” relatively quickly; it had to mean “Pedestrian” particularly since the sign was found at a crosswalk. But the “XING” had me stumped.

As I was still very literal in those days, I read it as sounding like ‘zing’ or ‘ksing’, not understanding yet how in American English words are often abbreviated or broken down into a type of short-hand, or its component parts. Nobody had explained to me the short hand for ‘crossing’ which is X-ing.

For several weeks I puzzled over ‘XING’, thinking perhaps it was some Asian word for pedestrian which was added to the sign as a courtesy to the many Asian visitors to Hawaii. Although why they would would use a word that seemed more Chinese to me when the majority of Asian tourists were from Japan made no sense.

Finally, I decided to ask someone, regardless of how of stupid it might make me seem. I chose a new colleague, who seemed genuinely willing to help this ‘stranger in paradise’, and asked her. At least she was kind enough not to laugh out loud, and I had my answer.

That moment must have been when I started to read differently and learned how to puzzle out the signs for myself, and perhaps grew a few new neural pathways.

I don’t think I’ll be using creative abbreviations in my writing though.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Interview with Richard Hardie

Today I welcome UK author Richard Hardie to my blog for a chat over coffee and apple pie.

Welcome Richard.
Let me cut the pie and pour the coffee! Ice cream with that pie?
That would be lovely, Lynn. Vanilla ice cream and good strong coffee, please. I’m still a bit jetlagged after the flight over here! By the way, many thanks for inviting me.

First let me congratulations on the successful launch of your e-book "Leap of Faith". The first in what promises to be a very fun series for teens.
Many thanks, Lynn, I’m thrilled. By the way, it’s not just teens, I hope. Many of my readers are adults of all ages who bought the books for their kids and found that they loved them too.  My publisher asked me how many books would be in the series and I told him that as long as the main characters wanted to continue with their adventures and I was enjoying writing about them there would be more books. The second book “Trouble With Swords” was published last December and I’m half way through the third which I hope will be out in May this year.

What inspired you to pick the time travel and detective themes?
Good question! The original idea for “Leap of Faith” originated from a stage show I wrote for the Scout Association in the UK. The core was right for a book, but the storyline needed considerable  reworking .  I kept the idea of Merlin being a woman and once she and Arthur became an item it seemed logical that her two apprentices and her sister should carry on Merlin’s work somehow. A detective agency seemed ideal for their level of inquisitiveness and time travel gave them the opportunity of much more interesting crimes to solve, as well as far better toilet facilities. I love detective stories and now I’m writing them I can make the cases as complicated as I want and pop as many clues into them as I feel necessary.  Great fun!

If you had the temporal detective agency's time portal, where would you travel to first?
Wow! There are so many places I’d love to go to. I suppose there are two answers to that. Firstly there are events I would love to witness and historical characters I’d love to see. Secondly there places I’ve been to that are now in ruins and I’d love to see what they looked like at the height of their powers. Obvious places would be Petra, Machu Picchu and Pompeii, but I’d loved to have been at the Battle Waterloo and seen the look on Napoleon’s face when he lost. 

eBooks vs traditional publishing?
I don’t think eBooks will ever replace the traditional book. There’s a magic about the feel and smell of paper and I have to admit I have quite a library of hardback books that I constantly add too. Without a doubt though, there is a revolution in the publishing world, to a large extent being led by Amazon. Now that people can self-publish many writers who never had the opportunity of showing the world what they can do have that chance. What they don’t have is the marketing clout of the traditional publisher. That’s where companies like my own publisher, Publerati,  have great strength when they concentrate on the eBook market. They can chose the right books to publish, edit professionally, ensure that what goes onto Amazon, Kobo and the other sites is faultless and provide marketing to drive volume sales. Most importantly an eBook can be available to the buying public within weeks of the words “The End” being typed, whereas a traditional publisher can take a year or more to achieve the same thing. Having said that I still want The Temporal Detective Agency series to be in print, because I can’t imagine any greater thrill than for someone to ask me to sign a copy of my book!

Paper & pen or a computer?
I write my books on my favourite Dell Studio laptop. It’s small. Powerful and has good battery life. There was a time when my job in IT frequently took me to India and I used the 8 hour flights to write. When I travel by train to London I still use my laptop to write, though if I’m making plot notes I tend to use pen and paper. I know many authors prefer to use pen and paper to actually write their novels, but I love the ability to cut and paste and the thought that I’ll never run out of ink!

What do think is the most important thing a writer can do, aside from write well, to increase their chances success? (Some days it feels like a business as well as a creative endeavor.)
Writing is a business. A hobby stops being a hobby the moment you depend on it for an income, no matter to what extent. A writer has to bear in mind a number of things, the most important of which is that he or she is writing for their readers, not for themselves. An agent I once had gave me a piece of paper with the letters GOWTS on it and told me to put it on top of my computer. She explained that the letters stand for Get On With The Story and although she taught me many things, that was a fantastic lesson. I don’t need that piece of paper any more because the letters GOWTS are embedded on my writer’s brain.

What secret talent do you have? Which everyone who reads this blog will promise to keep secret. And does it help you write?
I’m not sure if it’s a talent, but I have the same sense of humour as my Young Adult audience. I was a Scout leader for 15 years and that helped me to empathize with kids and understand what gets them interested, what keeps their attention and what makes them laugh. Talents over and above that? None especially, though I’ve always wanted to be a successful author and I’ve worked hard to achieve it as a goal. Just wanting it isn’t good enough.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview and happy scribbling.
It’s been a pleasure, Lynn. Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk to your readers. The apple pie was great by the way, but my coffee’s gone cold. Could I have a freshener?

For more information about Richard Hardie and his Temporal Detective Agency series:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Wishing you all a wonderful 2013!

Looking forward to blogging more, writing more, publishing more.

This month will also bring a new feature to this blog: a monthly interview with an author, agent or publisher.

Stay tuned.