Category Archives: writing

2 frequently misused words

scrabble-2378253_1280

 

There are two words that most people get wrong, these days. Strangely, they do not have similar spelling, nor similar sounds. When they are used wrongly, it grates on me.

Many well-educated people do not seem to be able to get it right, either.

What are these words?

They are Number and Amount.

The word ‘Number’ is rarely misused but ‘Amount’ is. All the time.

Let me try to explain the difference.

NUMBER This refers to, not surprisingly, the number of things.

It is used when we count things. 1,2,3,4,5 etc.

We can also say, for those techies amongst us, it is a digital word.

It tells us how many of something there is.

AMOUNT This refers to a measurement.

It is used when we don’t actually count individual things.
It is an analogue word.

It tells us how much of something there is.

Thus, to say ‘The amount of people at the party was 30′ is wrong. We are counting those people, not measuring them.

However, it is correct to say ‘The amount of rain that fell in October was less than normal.’ We are measuring the rainfall.

I don’t thing I’ve ever heard number used for a measurement, unless it is something like ‘The number of inches of fabric you need is…’, but then it’s counting, not measuring.

I would like this to get to as many people as possible, as I am getting increasingly stressed by this incorrect usage. Please re-blog it for my sanity’s sake.

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The Storm

A lovely day, the sun was warm
It had shone on us since dawn.
The heat oppressed us all the day,
Even as in bed we lay.

110exteriorstthomasleipzig

We went to Leipzig in the heat.
In Thomaskirke we took our seat
To hear St John by J.S.Bach.
It did not end till after dark.

When we emerged it was in rain.
We rushed to find our car again.
The thunder rolled across the sky,
The lightning flashed, but now we’re dry.

 

germany-870135_1280

We drove towards Chemnitz and saw
O’er Dresden, flashes like the War’
Was it ’45 again
With bombs falling like the rain?

The lightning flashed, the thunder boomed.
We thought that wewere surely doomed’
It must at least be Armageddon,
Such brightness in a sky so leaden.

lightning

The storm went of for several hours
Showing nature’s awesome powers
And even though it scared us some
We were impressed. It struck us dumb.

 

If you liked my poem, which was written after an actual storm in Germany, please add a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you woul like to re-blog it I would be very grateful.

Time on the world of Vimar

For some reason, this post got posted as a page, not a post. Twice! I’ve removed it as the 2 pages, and just in case anyone didn’t see it, I’m re-posting it as this week’s blog. If you’ve already seen it, my apologies.

 

The time of Vimar, the planet on which the continent of Khalram stands, is calculated differently from that of Earth. Here is a little about it.

From early times, it was known that the planet Vimar took almost exactly three hundred and sixty days to travel around its sun, the people divided this into twelve months of thirty days each. This number, and the three hundred and sixty days in the year meant that the number six took on a significance, and so they further divided each month into five ‘weeks’ of six days each. This was called a ‘sixday’.

The months were unrelated to moon phases as the planet has two moons, Lyndor and Ullin, each with a different cycle, but the study of the moon phases became important as they were believed to indicate something of the future, both for individuals and the world as a whole.

The year was deemed to begin at the Vernal Equinox when life was beginning to spring anew, and each of the twelve months was named after one of the gods of Vimar. (See Appendix 2)  the first month of Grilldar was called after the god Grillon, god of nature.

The months are as follows:

Spring                            Remit of God               Ruling God

Grilldar                              Nature                           Grillon

Kassidar                             All                                 Kassilla

Zoldar                                Knowledge                      Zol

Summer

Candar                               Weather and Sea          Candello

Sylissdar                            Life and Healing           Sylissa

Allendrindar                 Persuasion and deceit        Allandrina

Autumn

Pardar                               Agriculture                    Parador

Rothdar                             Mining and                     Roth

metalworking

Bardar                                   War                           Barnat

Winter

Bramadar                     Marriage and the family    Bramara

Majordar                            Magic                          Majora

Khaldar                      Death and the underworld    Khalhera

Days used to begin at dawn whatever the season or place in the world, but eventually it was seen fit to begin them at the time of dawn at the Vernal Equinox in all parts of the world, which was the equivalent of 6 am on Earth. Each day was about the same length as that of Earth, and because of the importance of the number six and its multiples, each day was divided, as on Earth, into twenty four hours and hours into sixty minutes. Seconds not usually considered on the planet as timing to that accuracy was neither needed nor for most people possible. Thus the second hour of the day would be equivalent to 8 am on Earth. Noon on Earth corresponds to the sixth hour on Vimar etc.

You can buy books 1 and 2, The Wolf Pack and The Never Dying Man by following the links below.

http://myBook.to/thewolfpack

http://myBook.to/NeverDying

Horselords Part 4

wild_horse_marsh_pony_assateague_island

 

Kimi mounted the horse the young warrior brought her. He held its head as she vaulted onto its back. She recognised it as one of the ones the Prowling Lynx had stolen from her parents’ ranch. A chestnut with a blaze down his face and four white socks. She had been particularly fond of this animal, and she delighted to be riding him on her way home, if by a roundabout way.

‘I thought you would prefer to ride one of your own horses,’ he told her.

She nodded and took the reins from him, gripped the horse with her knees and squeezed. The horse responded and trotted off after the others, who had rounded up the spare horses and had begun to herd them westwards.

Kimi became aware of the young warrior riding up beside her. They rode in silence for some time. Kimi looked sideways at him. She still felt that he looked frightening and became uncomfortable when he looked at her. True, he had promised to take her home as soon as he had delivered the thieves to his father, but could she trust him? Her experiences with the previous tribesmen made her anxious.

The young warrior, after riding alongside her for around an hour, suddenly broke his silence.

‘My name’s Davrael,’ he said. ‘What’s your’s?’

Kimi jumped, then told him her name. He smiled at her and she noticed his eyes for the first time. They were a soft brown and had a spark of humour in them, as well as a kindness. Perhaps he had a fearsome appearance, but somehow she knew that he had a soft side.

Little more was said during the rest of the day, then the band stopped by the side of a stream. They put the captives in one tent, still tied up, and erected a separate tent for Kimi. Davrael smiled at her as he held the tent flap back for her to enter.

‘I’ll bring you some food in a few minutes,’ he said, and disappeared. Kimi unrolled the blankets left for her and sat down cross-legged on them to think about her situation.

Shortly, Davrael returned. He carried two bowls and wooden spoons. He sat down opposite her and handed her one of the bowls and a spoon.

‘Sorry it’s not better food,’ he said, looking at his bowl, ‘but we have only trail rations. We cooked dried meat to soften it, but it’s not good.’

Kimi shrugged, looking at her own bowl. ‘It’s better than going hungry. I’ve eaten worse.’ She began to scoop the food into her mouth and chew. The meat was tough, but it was nourishment and so she ate every last bit.

Neither of them spoke while they ate, then, after finishing, Davrael called to one of his men and handed him the bowls. He came back and sat down again. Kimi frowned. Why did he not go? He was not going to be like he other one, was he? Was he going to try to take advantage of her? At that thought, she shrank back a little.

Davrael noticed. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘I’m not a Lynx. The Swooping Hawks don’t take advantage of vulnerable women. We have honour. Neither do we steal from others.’

Kimi sighed and resumed her position.

‘Tell me about yourself and the Swooping Hawks, Davrael. I am from the Settled Tribes. We have forgotten much of the lives of the Wandering Tribes.’

‘We have our own territories,’ Davrael replied, ‘and we stick to them. At least, the Swooping Hawks do. Other tribes don’t always. When there is an infringement, the chiefs will usually try to settle it peacefully, but occasionally there is war.’

‘I’ve heard that the Wandering Tribes are always fighting each other,’ said Kimi.

Davrael shrugged. ‘If war is needed to settle a matter, then we fight. Some tribes steal, horses or land, like those Lynx.’ He spat in the direction of the tent where the Lynx were being held. He stood, and drew himself up to his full height, looking every inch the proud son of a Tribal Chief. ‘The Swooping Hawks do not steal, but we will defend what is ours.’

He strode out of the tent, leaving Kimi alone.

Each day for the next sixday, Davrael rode at Kimi’s side, and each evening he came to her tent to talk. He did not say much more than he needed to in order to answer Kimi’s questions. She decided he was a man of few words. Then, he asked her about her own life. Kimi found herself beginning to like this young man more and more, She became used to the tattoo on his face, and it no longer frightened her. She smiled at the thought.

‘What are ;you smiling at,’ he asked her.

‘Just that I wonder, now, why I was so frightened of you when we first met. I feel as if I’ve known you for ever, and we’ve always been friends.’

Davrael’s eyes lit up when she said this. ‘I’m glad you said that, Kimi. I feel that way too. We’ve always known each other.’

The ride continued over the plains. Grassland stretched away into the distance. They passed the occasional copse, and many streams. Once they had to cross a wide river at a ford. Davrael stuck to her side all the way until a camp appeared in the distance.

‘My father’s camp,’ Davrael told her. ‘Soon we’ll be rid of these Lynx dogs and get them tried and condemned then I can take you home.’

What will happen at the camp of Davrael’s father? How long will the trial take? And what are the feelings Kimi is beginning to feel for Davrael?

Find out on the first Tuesday of next month.

Please leave a comment in the comments box, and I’ll get back to you.

Some thoughts on the Arts today.

kitten-1582384_1280

The kitten has nothing ot do with this post, but I thought it cute!

 

I’ve been thinking a bit recently about the Arts, and how there is a similar feel to most of them these days. what I am going to say might just make some people say ‘Well, what do you expect from an old person,’ and that’s fine.

First let’s think about Music.

I grew up in a musical family. Although she did not play any instruments herself, my grandmother made sure her daughters learned the piano. She was a bit old-fashioned, I suppose, because her sons did not learn to play any instruments.

Her eldest daughter had a beautiful singing voice. She was a contralto and she had proper training. Her voice had been likened to that of Kathleen Ferrier, a very famous contralto of the time.

She told the tale of being on holiday with her husband and another couple, lifelong friends. They were in a group, on a boat, I think, and the group started singing. A distinguished white-haired man came up to her and gave her his card. He said ‘You have a beautiful voice, my dear. Come to my hotel tomorrow and I can help you get a career in music.’

She said no way was she going to go to the hotel of an unknown man. Who he was she never found out, but her voice was outstanding enough for her to be picked out. She could also play the piano by ear.

My youngest aunt had a music degree and taught the piano as well as music in schools. She played the organ, too. A famous tenor, who sang at the local performance of Handel’s Messiah, said she was one of the best accompanists he’d sung with.

My mother, although she could play the piano and enjoyed singing in a choir, was not exceptional, musically.

When we had family get-togethers, there was always music. We children were encouraged to sing or play and when we did something as a family, it was always in harmony. Everyone, it seemed could harmonise.

I myself learned to play the piano and the violin (or vile din, as my mother called it), and have been in several choirs.

I tell you all this so you can know something of my musical background.

I was listening–no, it came on while I was in the car–to a piece of modern music by Stephen Crowe. It began with a trumpet. the sounds from the trumpet were unmusical to say the least. If it were a child learning to play it would have been unacceptable, but no, this was supposed to be music. I didn’t hear much more because my husband changed the channels.

Much of the modern music of today (and here I’m talking classical) is discordant and atonal. It is not beautiful. To me it grates on my ears. Sometimes it sounds as if the orchestra is just tuning up.

I once heard an interview with a conductor, many years ago, when he was asked if he would be able to tell if a player made a mistake. He said he wouldn’t.

Now the visual arts. I’ve visited galleries of modern art and been singularly unimpressed. I have some minor talent with painting and drawing, and I know how difficult it is to produce a masterpiece. I’ve gazed in awe at the work and talent of the Great Masters.

I sat for a long time in Firenze, looking at Michelangelo’s David, and in the Vatican at his Pieta. Beautiful works, and it took an immense talent to realise them.

Tracey Emin’s unmade bed? The pile of bricks that was in the Tate at one time? A pickled calf, by Damien Hirst?

Speaking of Damien Hirst. Why was a large anatomical model of a human, just like a big version of the ones we had in school, a work of art? The parts weren’t painstakingly carved by Mr Hirst unlike the wonderful marble sculptures I’ve seen, and the bronzes, too.

Paintings of black and white stripes, or a square on a background, whatever the colour are not difficult to do. Similarly the very simple, ‘flat’, childlike paintings many artists do are not greatly difficult. That’s why they are ‘childlike’, of course.

Poetry has gone the same way. Modern ‘poems’ are just prose divided into lines. Yes, they might have ‘poetical language,’ but they have no rhythm. I heard one being read on the radio the other day. I forget the poet, but he might just as well have been reading a bit of prose, because that’s what it sounded like. Poetry MUST have at least rhythm. That’s the most important thing. Rhyme, yes, but I’ll allow for blank verse. I’ve written blank verse myself, but they did have rhythm.

So what am I saying in all this?

It seems to me that art is reflecting life. Music is chaotic and so is the world today. People don’t want to spend large amounts of time doing anything. We are in a world where everything is a rush, so an artist won’t spend years completing a work of art.

Modern cathedrals are stark in comparison to the ones built in the middle ages. We think we don’t have the ‘time’ to spend years and decades building them (except for the Familia Sagrada in Barcelona, of course).

Listen to some Bach and then some modern composer. One is sublime, the other–not.

Look at a painting by Titian or Rembrant. The work and talent that has gone into it is tremendous. Unlike the painting of black and white stripes I saw many years ago in the Fitzwilliam museum, Cambridge.

We have become lazy in our art as in much else in life these days. So much, I think, that much art the majority of people could do. I could put random notes down on a manuscript and say it’s a piece of music, or record random noises for the same thing.

Anyone can paint squares, on a canvas, or drop a pile of bricks, or leave their bed unmade, or cast sheets into a stream. (Yes, I read someone had got a grant to do this very thing.)

Poetry. Now that’s another thing. ‘Poems nowadays seem to be prose broken into lines. I’m not saying that some of these aren’t poetic, just that they aren’t poems. Poems don’t have to rhyme, but they must have some structure. The only way I can tell, sometimes, that it is a poem being read is by the tone of voice of the reader (often the poet). If it were read in a ‘normal’ voice, I suspect no one would know it was a poem.

Anyone can string words together and call it poetry.

There’s no skill in that. The skill comes in being able to convince everyone else that it’s art. That’s the true art with these people, not in their works.

Feel free to add a comment.

Time on the World of Vimar

The time of Vimar, the planet on which the continent of Khalram stands, is calculated differently from that of Earth. Here is a little about it.

From early times, it was known that the planet Vimar took almost exactly three hundred and sixty days to travel around its sun, the people divided this into twelve months of thirty days each. This number, and the three hundred and sixty days in the year meant that the number six took on a significance, and so they further divided each month into five ‘weeks’ of six days each. This was called a ‘sixday’.

The months were unrelated to moon phases as the planet has two moons, Lyndor and Ullin, each with a different cycle, but the study of the moon phases became important as they were believed to indicate something of the future, both for individuals and the world as a whole.

The year was deemed to begin at the Vernal Equinox when life was beginning to spring anew, and each of the twelve months was named after one of the gods of Vimar. (See Appendix 2)  the first month of Grilldar was called after the god Grillon, god of nature.

The months are as follows:

Spring                            Remit of God               Ruling God

Grilldar                              Nature                           Grillon

Kassidar                             All                                 Kassilla

Zoldar                                Knowledge                      Zol

Summer

Candar                               Weather and Sea          Candello

Sylissdar                            Life and Healing           Sylissa

Allendrindar                 Persuasion and deceit        Allandrina

Autumn

Pardar                               Agriculture                    Parador

Rothdar                             Mining and                     Roth

metalworking

Bardar                                   War                           Barnat

Winter

Bramadar                     Marriage and the family    Bramara

Majordar                            Magic                          Majora

Khaldar                      Death and the underworld    Khalhera

Days used to begin at dawn whatever the season or place in the world, but eventually it was seen fit to begin them at the time of dawn at the Vernal Equinox in all parts of the world, which was the equivalent of 6 am on Earth. Each day was about the same length as that of Earth, and because of the importance of the number six and its multiples, each day was divided, as on Earth, into twenty four hours and hours into sixty minutes. Seconds not usually considered on the planet as timing to that accuracy was neither needed nor for most people possible. Thus the second hour of the day would be equivalent to 8 am on Earth. Noon on Earth corresponds to the sixth hour on Vimar etc.

You can buy books 1 and 2, The Wolf Pack and The Never Dying Man by following the links below.

http://myBook.to/thewolfpack

http://myBook.to/NeverDying

A Recipe from Viv’s Family Recipes

I thought I’d do something different today. Instead of writing about writing, I decided to give you a recipe from the recipe book I published. Most of the recipes are family ones, some very old, dating back to 1909. You may not want to cook some of these as they are very high in fat and stodge, but are nonetheless interesting.

This recipe was one of my favourites that my grandmother used to cook. She used what she called ‘sweet herbs’. I’m not sure what they were, but substituting Herbes de Provence works well. I suspect the ‘sweet herbs’ were similar in composition.

Anyway, here’s the recipe.

 

vivsfamilyrecipecover

Savoury Pancake filling
(Grandma’s recipe)

Ingredients

125g large open capped mushrooms

2 small onions

2 tomatoes

½ x1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

Method

Fry the onion a little and add the mushrooms and tomatoes.

Continue cooking until all vegetables are done, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot on pancakes, rolled up.

 

This makes an interesting first course or light lunch.

 

You can buy this book by clicking on the cover in the sidebar.

Please leave a comment in the comments box.

 

 

Horselords 3

horses

 

The raiding party moved ever westwards. the mountains the Horselords called The Barrier, retreated ever further away until they were just a blue haze on the horizon. Kimi looked longingly at them as she rode surrounded by Prowling Lynx warriors. Her home was at the foot of those mountains. Would she ever see it again? She prayed for a miracle, but the days passed and none arrived.

One evening, just as the men began to set up the camp, Kimi heard the sound of galloping hooves. She was inside her tent with a guard as they had put her tent up first. Not for any chivalrous reasons. Just that they thought she would be less likely to escape if she were safely in her tent with a guard.

Sounds of shouting came through the thin walls of the tent, followed by the noise of fighting. Horses whinneyed in fear, men shouted and the sound of metal on metal rang through the air. Kimi’s guard was in the process of tying her up, but when he heard the sounds, he rushed out to help his friends, leaving her alone and free. She thought of trying to make a break, but the sounds of fighting were all around. She thought she might be safer in here than out there.

Then suddenly, all was silent. Kimi crept to the tent door and peeped out. Her captors were now the captives. They stood in a huddle, surrounded by other men. A few bodies lay on the ground, and several of the captives had sustained wounds.

I hope the chief’s son is hurt, she thought, surprising herself at this thought. She had never been vindictive. But then, she had never been kidnapped and threatened with marriage to a violent man before.

One man walked round the group of captives. she listened to what he said.

‘You dare to cross the lands of the Swooping Hawks? You will come with us to our chief. There you will be tried.’

Kimi tried to slip back into the tent, but the man saw her and came over.

Kimi shrank back. This man was fairly tall, around five foot eleven, with a proud bearing. He wore his dark hair long and tied with a bandana to keep it from his eyes.

It was not his height or bearing that made Kimi afraid, though. On his face was a tattoo. This tattoo was in the shape of a hawk with its wings spread over his forehead, head down his straight nose and talons on his cheeks.

‘Who are you?’ he asked her. ‘I’m surprised they brought a woman on their raid. Even if they are Prowling Lynx ‘

‘I…I’m not with them,’ she stuttered.

He raised his eyebrows, making the hawk’s wings seem to flutter.

‘Then what are you doing here?’

Kimi swallowed. They raided my family’s ranch and took our best horses. When we went to try to get them back, they captured me.’ She took a deep breath to try to stop tears. ‘They were going to make me marry their chief’s son. He was cruel. He taunted and hit me.’

Now Kimi could no longer be brave, and tears began to fall. The young warrior strode out of the tent without looking back.

She heard the sounds of his feet striding towards the group of prisoners. Then she heard the young warrior’s voice calling to them. He called a name, but no one replied. There was silence for a while, then she heard quiet voices before the sounds of someone being beaten.

Shortly, the young warrior returned.

‘I taught him a lesson,’ he said. ‘Now we go to my father for him to judge them for trespassing and theft. Come.’

He left the tent before Kimi could reply, leaving her to follow.

When she caught up, he turned and said, ‘You ride one of your horses. We go back to my people.’

‘Why can’t you take me to my people?’ Kimi replied.

‘We need to take these men back first. See my father then see what he says.’

Has Kimi fallen into the hands of another tribe? What will they do with her?

Find out on the first Tuesday of next month.

Review of Judas by Roy Bright

jesus-501753_640

 

Judas Iscariot. A name reviled down the ages. It was thought he committed suicide when he realised the enormity of what he had done in betraying Jesus Christ, but his punishment is far worse.

God condemned him to walk the Earth forever, never able to die.

Now he has been given a task. He has to look after a small girl until she passes her seventh birthday. Just a few days. that’s all. A simple task, you would think, but, of course, it’s never that simple. This is a special girl. One who will prevent Lucifer from entering the world.

Lucifer actively seeks the child, sending his devils in disguise. Murder and meyhem ensue…

I am not saying any more about the plot of this book. I don’t want to spoil it for you.

The character of Judas is well drawn. He is complex, as one might expect, having lived 2,000 years. The other characters are believable, too. There is the policeman who is forced to re-evaluate his religious beliefs when confronted with the evidence of his own eyes, and also the hooker dragged into the conflict, who shows courage she didn’t know she had.

Finally, Charlotte, the little girl. She is very much like a typical six-year-old, except for the fact that the horrors she witnesses do not seem to faze her. Yes, she is afraid, but a normal child of her age would be traumatised. But then, she’s not a normal child, is she?
The writing is good. The pace keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next event. At first, I thought I would not like the fact that it is written in the present tense, but as I got into the book, I realised it adds to the immediacy and tension of the story. It also helps wit flashbacks, which are written in the past. You know that this is a previous event.

There is one thing that I found a bit disconcerting, though, Towards the cmimax of the story, the author does rather a lot of ‘head-hopping’, jumping from one charachter’s point of view to another.

All in all, a good read,