The importance of grammar and punctuation 

To those who consider grammar and punctuation to be unimportant in today’s fast-moving world of 140 character soundbites, I urge them to consider this example.

If anyone is offended by the text on this image, they'd better not watch

Whether you use a comma or not can make all the difference in even a simple sentence.

45 Writing Tips

The wonderful Caitlin Lambert has written a post with 45 Writing Tips From Actual Writers. I am truly honoured that she’s chosen to include a writing tip that I suggested:

Try to write every day, even if it’s just for a minute. Next week, aim for five minutes, then ten, then fifteen. Good habits are difficult to get into but if you can write every day it will give you the best possible start.”

I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I don’t always follow my own damn advice. Some days I just don’t get around to doing it, or I’m just not feeling that the muse has struck me (or is stood behind me with a mallet threatening me with a beating if I don’t hit that keyboard), even though in those moments I should write about what it’s like to not feel those itchy writing fingers. Mea culpa, dear reader; despite any rumours to the contrary, I’m only human. ;p

This is me after five minute with Gmail's new layout

Writer’s block, thy name is evil.

A User Roadmap to Free Photo Websites

As a blogger, I like to keep things interesting by adding relevant images to my posts that engage you. Walls of text on their own will just make your eyes glaze over, so a bit of colour is no bad thing. Help is at hand in the form of User Roadmap that provides reviews to 95 – yes, I did just say 95, count ’em – Free Photo Websites.

Free images are a Good Thing™. Not merely free as in beer, although who wants to pay when you can get stuff for nothing? However, you also want to use images that are free as in speech; that is even more important than not having to pay for them in the first place.

Pretty, isn't it?

One of the many CC0+ Curated images available from Pexels.

Why is that so important? OK, let me put it like this; see that pretty photo just above this paragraph? Would you like to get sued for using it? For thousands of pounds or dollars? No, nor me oddly enough, but that is exactly what can happen if you don’t have permission from the copyright holder to use said image, or breach the license of the image… or if you really put your foot in it, both at once. I am not a lawyer, so if you’re unsure about this sort of stuff, you can read the section on their website that answers the question “What are licenses and why should I care about them?”

The main part of the site is the “Shop” except you’re paying zip for access and nothing for the images you use. Perhaps “Directory” would be a better term, but that’s just linguistic quibbling. The default listing is in alphabetical order by site name, but you can switch to popularity and newness (whether that’s of the content or of the site itself, I’m unsure), You can also filter by License, resolution, Attribution requirements, sign-in required, if they use a search box (eighteen don’t, which just boggles me) and if they provide image releases. There’s even a handy reset button once you’ve utterly confused matters by trying every filter at the same time – hey, don’t judge me, I’m a software tester too, remember?

I must confess I’ve not heard of most of the websites listed here so this is a real treasure trove for me. The breadth and depth of available content is impressive. There is a huge range of subjects and the sheer number of images is staggering. As an example, the image I’m using in this post comes from Pexels, which has about 30,000 images on it; that puts it at the smaller end of the spectrum compared to some others listed on User Roadmap. Safe to say I will be happy to use this resource for years to come. 🙂

If…

No, not the well-known poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling (much as I love it), but a sort of “If Remix” more in tune to the chaos, panic and disorder of today’s troubled times. It may not be quite as lyrical, but it certainly makes the point with just as much force and eloquence.

statue-of-libery-silhouetted-by-the-sun-via-pablo

If you voted for the President because you believe in fiscal conservatism, you should be furious that your tax dollars are going to build a wall that will have zero impact on the effects of immigration.

If you hate the left because of “Political Correctness,” you need to be asking yourself if you’re okay with the President censoring communications from MULTIPLE government organizations like the National Park Service, the EPA and more.

If you voted because you hated Secretary Clinton’s email server, I expect you to be calling your representatives to ask why Steve Bannon and others continue to use their unsecured personal emails and why your president is still using an unsecured Android device.

If you believe that fertilized eggs are people but refugee children are not, you need to stop acting like your concerns are religious.

If you voted because you believed they would better protect you against terrorists, you need to ask yourself why it’s okay that your president just took away $130 million in anti-terror funds from New York with his punishment of Sanctuary Cities.

If you are angry that your insurance is too expensive, you should ask why your senators are repealing ACA without a replacement, an action that will leave 20 million people without insurance at all.

If you believe the Clinton Initiative provided unequal treatment to countries that supported their foundation, you should be livid that your president has moved to block visas from Muslim countries like Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, but not places where he has business ties like Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

[I have no idea who the original author of these words is, but I shall salute the anonymous one all the same. My appreciation for anyone that can point me in the correct direction to give due credit.]

 

A roll of the dice

 

january_prompt_-_large

A roll of the dice.

 

Having found the Scottish Book Trust’s 50-word fiction competition page a few days ago, it inspired me to enter my own submission. The prompt was to “write a story featuring a roll of the dice” along with the picture shown. Under the terms of the competition I still retain copyright of my work (which is as it should be) and since the deadline has passed, here’s my effort for you to read.

Ciarán drew ragged breath as he hauled himself towards the cliff edge in a desperate attempt to escape. Yet still they closed.

He peered over the edge. The oncoming storm whipped up churning waves below. Trusting to luck as they closed on their quarry, he leapt out into the void.

 

I’ll be interested to read constructive feedback in the comments below. I’m not expecting to win as they probably receive dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of submissions each month. I did it for the fun and the challenge of it.  🙂