Author Archives: Amos M. Carpenter

Happy Anniversary to me… ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

One year ago to the day, on 28 February 2014, I wrote my first blog post, Introductions are in order.

So… Happy Anniversary to my blog! Yay! :-)

Happy Anniversary

‘Cause baby you’re a fiiiirework… (Though I don’t actually think that makes much sense, but anyway. Image from wikimedia commons.)

Over this past year, I published 90 blog posts; most of them about writing or writing-related, some about miscellaneous things such as my pets, a few rants, rather fewer technology-related ones than I’d planned, one about my favourite game, Guild Wars 2, and once I may even have gotten a little political, though I reserve the right to deny that if asked directly.

(Actually, looking back through a whole bunch of my post topics, I just realised I should probably clean up and re-tag/re-categorise them before someone notices… sshh!)

The busiest time was probably in April, when I participated in the A-Z Challenge, which I spent more time on than I’d anticipated but it ended up being a good blog-baptism-by-fire, I think. One of the highlights was probably meeting Nicholas C. Rossis through blogging and getting an older short story published in his anthology.

I’ve met and followed some great fellow bloggers, am honoured to be followed by some in turn (though some of my followers are those silly I’ll-follow-you-even-though-I’ll-never-read-your-blog-and-hope-you-follow-me-in-return type people for whom I have very little respect; if I’m following your blog, it’s because I’m interested in what you have to say and try to keep up with reading it when time allows), and am now getting a decent, though by no means high, amount of regular traffic.

From the beginning, I’ve made it clear (I think) that my blog isn’t my primary concern, but I wanted to have a go at it so that I know what I’m getting into if and when I later set this up as a promotional platform for my writing. I’ve learned heaps about blogging (and writing), followed some good advice, and ignored plenty of other good advice because my blogging currently isn’t about getting many followers or maximising traffic to my blog. It’s more like a mixture between my personal soapbox and the quiet corner where I can go to get things off my chest by writing about them. My regular readers are relatively few, but I’m ok with that, because I feel I know them quite well and treasure them all the more for that.

One-year anniversary

My blog is one year old today!

As I continue on my journey of trying to get my book published the traditional way (a goal which I may never reach, or I may at some point have to reassess and consider self-publishing), I will most likely carry on in a similar vein. Family (my wife and three kids) has to come first, work has to be up there because it pays the bills (and with three kids in private high school this year, those bills are astronomical), writing, researching and editing gets most of the time left over (except when I indulge in playing GW2), and blogging… well, when I have time. But 90 posts in a year isn’t that terrible, is it? (Ok, maybe it is – I really don’t know.)

Thanks to anyone and everyone who’s ever managed to read through one of my 90 blog posts! I’m even more thankful for anyone who’s ever liked and commented on any of them (hint-hint!). :-)

Cheers,

AMC

Recommendation: Hire a Mercenary Proofreader (and Editor)

Things have been crazy busy at my end of the world, but I wanted to take some time to give a well-deserved shout-out to a fellow blogger whose meticulous proofreading/editing services I’ve recently had the chance to experience.

I’ve been following the blog of Thomas Weaver for quite some time now (well, just about since I started blogging myself), and have consistently enjoyed his Grammar Rants, amongst other posts. I’d like to believe that we’re similar in some respects (perfectionists, sticklers for detail, and grammar na… er, ninjas), but I can’t claim to have any seriously honed editing skills (though I did rant myself about things an editor should’ve picked up in a book written by my favourite author that I just couldn’t overlook). So, since I remembered from first browsing his site a long time ago that he was also an editor who offered a free sample of his proofreading/editing skills for up to 5000 words – and because I knew I would soon be submitting my first chapter, which therefore had to be extra polished –  I thought I’d see whether he’d be able to find any little errors I may have overlooked in my own writing. I was pretty convinced that there wouldn’t be more than a few, and that those would have been ones that crept in with recent edits to said first chapter.

Boy, was I naïve.

 

The Red Pen

Who doesn’t love editing? Oh, put your hands down… *sigh*. (Image from wikimedia commons.)

Thomas not only found a few errors that had crept in, he also managed to remind me of how inconsistent I’d become with my commas and semicolons (in more places than I’d like to admit publicly), and of my bad habit with adding a fourth dot to an ellipsis when it’s at the end of a sentence, which isn’t correct.

I did have the audacity to disagree with some of his suggested edits, and, in our interesting email conversation about several aspects of editing and grammar, rather than being a “my way or the highway” kind of guy, he was happy to agree with some of my reasoning and answer my questions about some of the finer points of… stuff.

Oh, and, as a bonus, he came up with this gem regarding ellipses that cracked me up:

Then thou must write three dots upon the page. Three shall be the number of the dots, and the number of the dots shall be three. Four dots shall thou not write, neither shall thou write two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the three dots, three being the number of the dots, be written…

It helps to know the Monty Python original to appreciate it:

So, clearly, if you’re in need of professional proofreading and/or editing, I can whole-heartedly recommend Thomas’ services. Not only will you get first-class service, you’ll also be communicating with a guy who is very approachable, who knows way more than just his commas and semicolons, and who has a great sense of humour.

You can even try out his free sample offer so you have an idea of what you’ll get for hiring him. And if you do, please tell him Amos sent you – maybe I’ll get a discount when I need more of his excellent editing skills. ;-)

I just wrote a love scene…

… and it’s either insanely good, wonderfully romantic and tender and sweet… or hopelessly cheesy and pathetically inadequate. Dammit, how do I know which it is?!?

Aaarrgghh!

A couple of inspiring success stories

Just a quick one to share two success stories that are inspiring to anyone looking to break into the ranks of (traditionally) published authors.

Lynette Noni

First, Lynette Noni, who is starting to officially freak out! She wrote a bunch of lovely blog posts last year about getting a publishing deal with Pintera Press, and since then has worked hard (I’m sure) to get her book, Akarnae, polished for publication. The big date for her is the 2nd of February 2015, so just three days away… if you haven’t already, go visit her blog and send her some love and well-wishes. :-)

Akarnae, by Lynette Noni

Lynette Noni’s new book, Akarnae, is about to be published!

Good luck for the book release, Lynette! (The cover looks awesome, by the way.)

Sarah Joy Carlson

Secondly, Sarah Joy Carlson has just announced that she has signed with an agent in Ireland, which is also awesome news. In her post “Drumroll, please… I’ve signed with an agent!” she tells all about her journey of overcoming a few rejections, persisting and believing, and finally getting her dream agent for her novel, Hooligans in Shining Armour. (The blog post also contains pretty much every gif about excitement that currently exists on the Internet. :-) )

Congratulations to both of these great authors!

Happy Australia Day 2015!

To celebrate having survived the first of several days around 38°C (that’s just over 100 for those still stuck with Farenheit), I want to wish all Aussies and non-Aussies alike a Happy Australia Day :-)

For a bit of fun, here are two very contrasting funny bits. The first is about how cold it gets in Norway, the second about how hot it gets in Australia.

Norwegian weather

+15°C / 59°F
This is as warm as it gets in Norway, so we’ll start here. People in Spain wear winter-coats and gloves. The Norwegians are out in the sun, getting a tan.

+10°C / 50°F
The French are trying in vain to start their central heating. The Norwegians plant flowers in their gardens.

+5°C / 41°F
Italian cars won’t start. The Norwegians are cruising in cabriolets.

0°C / 32°F
Distilled water freezes. The water in Oslo Fjord gets a little thicker.

-5°C / 23°F
People in California almost freeze to death. The Norwegians have their final barbecue before winter.

-10°C / 14°F
The Brits start the heat in their houses. The Norwegians start using long sleeves.

-20°C / -4°F
The Aussies flee from Mallorca. The Norwegians end their Midsummer celebrations. Autumn is here.

-30°C / -22°F
People in Greece die from the cold and disappear from the face of the earth. The Norwegians start drying their laundry indoors.

-40°C / -40°F
Paris start cracking in the cold. The Norwegians stand in line at the hotdog stands.

-50°C / -58°F
Polar bears start evacuating the North Pole. The Norwegian army postpones their winter survival training awaiting real winter weather.

-70°C / -94°F
The false Santa moves south. The Norwegian army goes out on winter survival training.

-183°C / -297.4°F
Microbes in food don’t survive. The Norwegian cows complain that the farmers’ hands are cold.

-273°C / -459.4°F
ALL atom-based movement halts. The Norwegians start saying “Faen, it’s cold outside today.”

-300°C / -508°F
Hell freezes over, Norway wins the Eurovision Song Contest.

Australian summer

You know it’s hot in Australia when:

1) The best parking spot is determined by shade, not distance.
2) Hot water comes out of both taps.
3) You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
4) The temperature drops below 32 degrees C and you feel chilly.
5) You know that in January and February it only takes two fingers to steer a car.
6) You discover you can get sunburnt through your windscreen.
7) You develop a fear of metal door handles.
8) You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7am.
9) Your biggest bicycle accident fear is: “What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the road, getting cooked?”
10) You realise that asphalt has a liquid state.
11) Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to prevent them from laying hard boiled eggs.
12) The trees are whistling for dogs.
13) While walking back barefoot to your car from any event, you do a tightrope act on the white lines in the car park.
14) You catch a cold from having the aircon on full blast all night long.
15) You realise that Westfield Shopping Centres aren’t just Shopping Centres – they are temples where we worship Air Conditioning.
16) Sticking your head in the freezer and taking deep breaths is considered normal.
17) A cup full of ice is considered a great snack.
18) A black-out is life threatening because your aircon and your fans no longer work.
19) No one cares if you walk around with no shoes on.
20) You keep everything in the fridge, including potatoes, bread and clothing.
21) People have enough left over beer cans to make a boat and compete in a regatta.
22) The effort of towelling yourself off after a shower means you need another shower right away.
23) You will wait patiently until the day it starts raining to go on a run.
24) You worry your ceiling fan is spinning so fast it will fly off and kill you.
25) You laugh because this list is so accurate.

Skyworks on Australia Day in Perth, Western Australia

Perth Skyworks: half an hour of awesome fireworks, synchronised to music broadcast on radio. #LoveThisCity

Happy Australia Day, and loads of fun to all those heading down to the Perth foreshore or to King’s Park for tonight’s Skyworks (the biggest in Australia!).

Can’t… blog… in… zone

Ok, quick break from writing, just long enough to say…

… Sorry, the main part of my mind is somewhere completely different right now.

… I’m making good progress with my last couple of chapters.

… Thanks heaps, Thomas, I’ll get around to that blog post when I have a chance (that is, when it doesn’t mean breaking out of the Zone), and will reply to that email. Just… not right now. (You’ll notice lots of 3-dot ellipses, though!)

… Another great picture my wife took that sort of fits the topic:

In The Zone

My attention is probably somewhere completely different right now…

… No, it’s not the Twilight Zone. (But thanks for your concern.)

… Your blog visit is very important to us. The next available Amos will be with your comment… er, later. Probably. Gotta go!

Fearing agents’/editors’ pet peeves

I just came across Thomas Weaver’s great post on Thinking to myself – or not that raised an interesting point about sometimes having circumstances where you need to dare to break some of the “rules” that seem to be so important to literary agents and editors.

Reading the beginning of the post, where Thomas explains the redundancy of adding “to oneself” after “thought”, at first I thought to m— I mean, I just, er, thought, “Heh, silly noob mistakes.” (Then I ran off and searched my manuscript for occurrences of “to herself”, “to himself”, and “to myself”.)

But seriously in all seriousness(*), I find it scary that agents/editors seem to have all these semi-undocumented pet peeves and the poor sods who submit their hard work and may commit one or two of them (which may soon be me!), despite the fact that these faux pas are easily corrected easy to correct, may never hear back from them nor ever find out what they did wrong.

(*) See what I did there? I avoided triggering someone’s pet peeve against adverbs (against which I’ve ranted previously) by using an adverbial phrase. Same thing, really (except it’s less succinct), but strangely enough, the same people that really mind adverbs don’t seem to mind adverbial phrases. Hypocritical of them, I know, I know… but they seem to “make” the rules.

I hope that there are more “reasonable” agents and editors out there than I realise (despite the fact that I understand how they came to be that way; I’m sure some of the things they have to read are just… shockingly bad). Because I’ll be running that gauntlet soon(ish). #amwriting

Wise Old Tree

Even this Wise Old Tree doesn’t know all the pet peeves that need to be avoided. (Oh, fine, I admit it – the tree doesn’t really have anything to do with this post’s topic. I just wanted to sneak another one of my wife’s great photos into my blog. Sue me.)

Does anyone have (or know of) a list of these types of pet peeves, or unwritten rules, for authors to avoid? And please don’t point me to the Turkey City Lexicon – in my opinion, that’s just common sense mixed with “never do this!” overreactions to serial-pattern-abusers.

New year, new theme

I believe…!

(*clears throat and climbs up on his soapbox, manifesto in one hand, microphone in the other*)

I believe...

… that there are a few things I need to say at the start of the new year, 2015.

General

  • … that people who wonder about the meaning of life either don’t have kids or don’t pay enough attention to them.
  • … that love, humour and hope are the three main ingredients for happiness.
  • … in happy endings in real life. (In stories, they sometimes make me cringe, though. Even if I did silently hope for them.)
  • … in the importance of people being able to talk to each other… non-electronically.
  • … that you don’t need to drink alcohol in order to have fun.
  • … that smoking should be outlawed except for people willing to wear a permanently sealed-off helmet, and that the influence of tobacco lobbyists and the like are despicable. We all know what it does… why is it still around?
  • … that America and the UK need to stop hanging on to their confusing versions of the imperial system of units and finally go metric (your medical and military people are doing it… no, not with each other, I mean they use the metric system). Also, the US need to stop insisting on formatting dates with the middle value followed by the smallest value followed by the largest value. WTF? Oh, while you’re at it, guys, fix where punctuation goes on quotes that are less than a “complete sentence”.
  • … that bullies are almost always cowards too weak to stop doing to others something similar to what’s been done to them.
  • … that the most wonderful sound in the whole wide world is that of my kids laughing uncontrollably.
  • … that I’m the luckiest guy alive because my awesome wife, best friend and soulmate gets me and loves me including all my faults.

Politics

  • … that religious extremism of any sort makes this world a darker place, and that the rest of the world should take heed of how Australia handled her first real encounter with it. #IllRideWithYou
  • … that Australia needs to get rid of its current village idiot, climate-change-denying leader to start moving in the right direction again. We’re the joke of the world, being pretty much the only country in the world that is moving away from actively doing something about global warming, and it’s a friggin’ disgrace.

Software

  • … that OSS (open-source software) is the way to go wherever there’s a choice.
  • … that DRM (digital rights management) is wrong.
  • … that I couldn’t live without some of my favourite pieces of software (sounds like a future blog topic to me!).
  • … that installing a piece of software on my PC or an app on my phone doesn’t give it the right to do things like collect data about me without my explicit agreement, to not give me a choice of when it can dial home or check for updates, or to access any information on my system it doesn’t absolutely need to function. Worst offenders being companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe, but also increasingly “do-no-evil” Google. (I love Cyanogen!)
  • … that it’s a crying shame that Smalltalk isn’t more widely used as a programming language (try Pharo and Seaside if you like to tinker, you won’t want to go back).
  • … that I am fully within my rights, when I see an email from someone that ends with “sent from my iPhone” to add to my own response, “Sent from my 64GB/3G Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz Quadcore OnePlus One with Cyanogen 11S that kicks your iPhone’s arse (and costs less than half as much)”.

Work (in IT)

  • … that programmers shouldn’t have to wear business clothes.
  • … that software architects should have the guts to recommend the right software for the job, not based on which sales reps can throw more money at decision-making board members who still believe that more expensive must mean better.
  • … that IT recruiters are right up there with lawyers and other blood suckers. The fact that they charge between 10% and 40% (or even more) on top of a developer’s rates without really knowing anything beyond buzz words is just appalling.

Blogging

  • … that I should take the time to blog a bit more. (Yeah, like that’ll happen. *sigh*)
  • … that there are too many good, honest blogs out there to read – how I wish I had more time to invest in being a good follower!
  • … that following another blog without really being interested in what it’s about, i.e. just to get them to follow you back, is akin to lying. Thanks to all those who do occasionally read my humble scribblings, and I hope to find more time to read all your blogs. (I _am_ interested in those I follow! I just roll my eyes whenever someone new follows me whose blog is about “making money by blogging” or the like.) For now, though, my aim is simply to have (not necessarily build) a platform while I focus on writing my book. Building my platform will come later, when I have more time for that sort of thing….
  • … that WordPress is great, but they should finally accept that I like the “old” stats page better and stop asking me to vote in their silly survey every time I load it.
  • … that WordPress needs to finally find a way to fix the “invalid certificate” bug that causes security errors. I keep forgetting that certain things only work in certain browsers because of it, and that it sometimes causes my “likes” of other blogs to be lost. Not cool!

Writing

  • … that I’ve had enough of distopian future stories whose premise I don’t buy, or whose premise I buy, but they then make ridiculous assumptions about human nature that I just can’t swallow (might be another future blog post).
  • … that everyone should take grammar seriously. Not just grandpa. All jokes aside, don’t let our language decay because people have to fit everything into 140 characters. Do your part, write things out, learn how it’s done right without needing a spell checker, and gently educate those who fall short. Or, like, mercilessly correct them, or… whatever.
  • … that my story is worth telling.
  • … that 2015 will be the year I finally finish my story. Watch this space. #amwriting

Conclusion

  • … that you should all have a Happy New Year! All the best for 2015 (and beyond).
  • … that it’s about time I stepped off this soap box. Ahem. Sorry for ranting, but occasionally it’s nice to get this sort of stuff off my chest. Now somebody give me a hand getting down, it’s higher than it looks. Huh? What do you mean, the microphone wasn’t on?!?

YAMCBP (Yet Another Merry Christmas Blog Post)

Just logged in and saw a few nice “Merry Christmas” blog posts, and, at the risk of being very unoriginal, thought I’d hop on the bandwagon.

So, a very quick but jolly

Merry Christmas

to everyone around the world from sunny Perth, Australia.

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