Déjà vu

If this post seems familiar to some of you, it should do. I originally posted it on the 15th of February, 2015. Later I reblogged it. But as you know WP only allows a post to be reblogged once by any given individual. Hence the repost today with a couple of additional points included. Why? Because in these days of don’t read anything longer than a tweet, its message is still relevant – probably more so…



How much wood could a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

If you are of a certain age, chances are that you learnt that tongue twister in primary school, just as I did back in the early nineteen-fifties. It is a perfect example of the overuse of specific words, even though in this case it’s just a fun thing for kids to learn and to attempt to recite.

Many emerging writers tend to rely on a limited vocabulary, even though most words have perfectly acceptable alternatives. How many times have you seen specific words endlessly repeated by a new writer? Either that, or the incorrect versions of words.

Chances are you will come across examples of words when writing, which while sounding similar when used in actual conversation between two people, are completely wrong in a given instance within any piece of writing.

Note to self – hmm, a lot of words beginning with ‘w’ in that last sentence. Must watch that. Damn, there’s another one!

If you want an example of similar sounding words think about there, they’re and their. They all sound exactly alike. But in each instance they have a totally different meaning. Even simple words we all use such as and, can and do become seriously overused by most writers. I’m no different in that regard. I’ve even been known to start a sentence with it on occasion, for example the one word question – “And?” But only during a conversation between some of my characters.

What I’m about to say, I’ve said in previous posts here on my blog. But just for you, here it is again – once you have written that first draft, go back over it many times during its edit phase. Make sure that one of your editing sessions is solely dedicated to deliberately finding alternatives of those words you are so fond of overusing.

How? Use the synonym function incorporated into your writing software in conjunction with a dictionary and thesaurus. Even better, why not rewrite certain sentences using completely different words, that convey the same meaning as the original one?

Before some of you feel an attack of righteous indignation coming on, and are thinking of going on the offensive, I am fully aware that I have used several words in this post more than once. In this instance I am completely justified as I’m merely pointing out that every one of us needs to pay heed to the way we write.

In short folks, do your darndest to avoid using certain words too often. Here are some more similar sounding words that writers tend to get wrong – your and you’re, to and too. Allowed is yet another example of a word that sounds the same when spoken even when spelt differently. Its cousin aloud has a completely different meaning. The list is endless. Is it any wonder that so many people find the English language hard to come to grips with?


Next, I would just like to point out something to all of the various types of literary cowards who insist upon hiding behind pseudonyms, such as a number of the armchair critics, pedants, grammar nazis, literary snobs etc, who inhabit the darker recesses of the Internet, each of them purporting to know far more about the written word than most writers.

None of us likes a smart arse who deliberately sets him or herself up as a scathing critic.

To all of the above – I can only surmise that what you appear to be suffering from is the literary equivalent of penis envy. Remember this, apart from being counterproductive, jealousy tends to feed on itself. Never forget that. It’s the only reason I can think of for why you deem it absolutely necessary to be so vicious towards not only the newcomers, but also seasoned writers, whether Indie or traditionally published?

First of all, may I suggest that you get over yourselves. Secondly, instead of endlessly criticising new and seasoned writers, by issuing those interminably boring, often repetitious one and two star reviews you are so fond of placing in the public arena, in your pathetic attempts to destroy a writer’s reputation, as some of you still tend to do on Goodreads and Amazon (you know who you are), why not actually try to write a book yourself. Maybe you already have, which probably accounts for the way you behave. But go on, give it another try. Far better to occupy your time by writing a book. Once you do, prepare yourselves for when it is torn to shreds by your fellow trolls. In other words, I’d think long and hard if I were you before you feel the overwhelming desire coming on, to rubbish someone else’s work.

Like most writers, I always refrain from reviewing some books, especially those written by new writers, if they did not succeed in gaining my full attention by drawing me into the story. Believe me when I say that it’s always better to do that, rather than to publicly condemn, and by definition, earn yourself a reputation as yet another vicious troll.

Just cast your minds back to the so-called review of my historical story Autumn 1066 , which I posted here on my blog a few weeks back… If I ever feel the need to offer criticism, it’s usually in the form of advice offered privately, well away from the gaze of the general public, either by email or when chatting to my fellow writers on Facebook.

All disenchanted individuals should try doing the same thing instead of attacking…


A cautionary tale


The following is a true story from my younger days


After getting my car license aged twenty-two, I bought my first car – a secondhand bright red 1966 Morris Mini, 850cc. I already had my motorbike licence. But I needed a car for when the weather was inclement. Plus back then the parents of any potential girlfriend regarded any young bloke turning up on a motorbike to take their daughter out, as trouble. At about the same time I also sat for and got my firearms licence.

Before I move on, I should say that I had received excellent firearms training during my military service. But as you will see, despite that training, in this particular instance stupidity ruled.

My first recreational firearm in civilian life was a French Gevarm .22 calibre, semi-automatic rifle, perfect for shooting rabbits, hares, and especially possums.hqdefault Because of the silencer fitted to its relatively short barrel, you would be hard put to hear it from fifty feet away, especially in the thick undergrowth of the bush. The Gevarm is a gas recoil weapon with a fifteen shot magazine. Each time you pull the trigger, the gas generated by the explosive force of the round, automatically throws the firing piston back, compressing its internal spring, while expelling the spent shell casing and replacing it with a fresh round in the chamber. In other words, you only need to cock it once. After that all you need to do is keep on pulling the trigger each time. The only way to make it absolutely safe is to first remove the magazine and then pull back the cocking slide to empty the chamber.

At the time I was working as a surveyor’s chainman, employed by the Lands and Survey Department’s Hamilton office in New Zealand. One of my fellow chainmen – Barry, shared my youthful and impossibly idealistic vision of ridding the countryside of those pesky unwanted Aussie imports – the possums. New Zealand is overrun with them. At last count their numbers exceeded sixty-five million despite poisonous 1080 baits being laid by the farmers, Lands and Survey, Forestry, Department of Conservation, etc, etc. They were and probably still are slowly but surely destroying not only the young trees by chewing the new growth, but also the native bird population by eating their eggs.

Barry and I had decided on where we were going to do our bit to rid a tiny section of bush north of the west coast town of Kawhia, on the coast road to Raglan.

The mini ate up the miles with no difficulty; we were in high spirits as we drew ever closer to our destination. Eventually we turned off the main gravel road and halted about a half hour from the specific area we wanted, deep inside the coastal bush that still grew there. We knew we had to wait until dark before we began our hunt as the possum normally lies up during the hours of daylight, preferring to conduct its destructive rampage, especially regarding the nesting birds, at night when they are roosting. Armed with our rifles and a torch each, taped beneath the barrel, we began our ‘stalk’.

Barry and I between us put paid to more than twenty of the furry vermin before calling it a night, happy that it would be a while before more possums inhabited this precious piece of bush. Both of us were tired, but content as we headed back to the car for the journey home. Our lives were about to change as I unlocked the driver’s door.

Call it sheer stupidity – I did, and still do to this day. Without thinking I dropped the loaded rifle across the back seat of the Mini as I leaned over to open the passenger’s door for Barry. I heard him yelp in pain. The simple act of dropping it caused it to fire off a round that went straight through the side panel of the Mini and into Barry’s knee.

I got him into the passenger’s seat and wrapped a towel around his thigh to act as a tourniquet. The drive back home was a one-handed affair as I used my left hand to alternatively change gear and apply pressure to his knee. That little Mini positively flew as the miles between where the accident had happened and the A&E department of the Waikato Hospital slowly reduced.

When we finally arrived at the entrance to the A&E, the last thing I remember was seeing Barry being wheeled inside. The next thing I knew, I was being offered a hot sweet cup of tea by a pretty young nurse. I had collapsed in the car park, overcome by the whole ordeal. Because of my stupidity, my friend had been wounded.

A few days after the incident, I went round to Barry’s home to apologise to his parents for what had happened. That was by far the hardest thing I ever had to do; to publically admit my stupidity and to place myself in their hands. Barry’s father did something I was not expecting. He shook my hand and said that by coming round to their home and apologising and admitting my stupidity, both he and his wife would take it no further. Thank god the police never got to hear about it, thanks to Barry telling his parents his side of things. All parties realised it was tragic mistake on my part. Quite frankly I know I got off lightly. Despite the accident Barry and I remain friends.

Needless to say, within a few days I took the hacksaw to the Gevarm, chopping it up into tiny pieces, destroying it forever. Since that time I have owned many firearms – a Pedersoli replica Kentucky .45 calibre black powder long-rifle and a Ruger 30/30 Winchester action carbine to name but two.

Never again would I leave a weapon loaded, nor would I treat them as casually as I did that terrible day when my friend was shot in the knee.

Never leave a firearm loaded!


Please Do Not Spam!!!


Sorry about this folks, but it appears that I need to repeat myself once again…

To all of those who are new to any form of ‘Social Media’, in particular blogs, there are certain rules of etiquette that must be strictly observed, particularly when offering a comment for consideration. New writers please take note – if you wish your comment to appear on my blog, or any other, never ever include a link to your book. There are lines that must never be crossed when it comes to good manners on the Internet. Doing the aforementioned breaks just about every unspoken rule of commonsense and etiquette.

I don’t do it, and neither should you!

While you may see nothing wrong in engaging in a bit of spam promotion on sites like Facebook when commenting, believe me when I tell you that what you are doing is guaranteed to turn people off. Should the owners of the posts consider that your comment is nothing more than spam, all they have to do is report it to Facebook to ensure that you lose your account!

Take a moment here folks. What do we do with all that unsolicited junk mail that comes through our letter boxes at home, or in our email Inboxes? We consign it to the bin – right?

So don’t inflict your internet equivalent on others…

As for adding a ‘buy my book’ link to any comment on any blog, not just mine, it ensures only one outcome – the offending comment will end up where it belongs in the Spam Bin. Even though this is only the third day of a new month, already I have consigned five offending comments there.

There are appropriate blogs for any form of advertising, or in some cases, what appears to be nothing more than sheer desperation, or ignorance, by certain individuals new to the writing game. I mentioned two in yesterday’s post, specifically set up for the purpose.

Once again just for you, here are their links:


Owned and operated by Derek Haines, where for a fee he will do a sterling job in promoting your book or books. The other is Chris Graham’s

The StoryReadingApe

Start by clicking on both of those highlighted links. They are not the only ones. There are many more out there. All you have to do is engage your brain for once in your lives and do a Google search to find them.

PS – If I consider your book worthy of my advertising it by adding its link on any post of mine here on my blog, I will.

Rant over…