Monday, 11 February 2019
To show Possession.
That means, to indicate that something belongs to someone/something. For example, "John's pen" means the pen belonging to John.
The very general rule of thumb is that if the word ends in s the apostrophe comes after the s, if it doesn't the apostrophe comes before the s.
The child's book, which is a children's book is currently at the parents' house.
The musician's flute is currently in Lewis' locker.
The exception with regard to names are circumstances where you would naturally pronounce the s, for example "It's Charles's pen"
One key exception is where the word itself denotes possession, for example, ours, theirs, his, hers.
There are other, less usual exceptions, so if you're not sure, check.
To Indicate an Ommission
Sometimes it is possible to run two words together or shorten a word by taking out letters. In those cases the missing letter or letters are replaced with an apostrophe.
Example "I should have" can be shortened to "I should've" the h and a are taken out and replaced by the apostrophe.
Again, in the words "It's" "That's" "What's" etc the apostrophe replaces an i "It is" "That is" "What is"
In the words "They'd" We'd" "You've" "They've" the apostrophe replaces h and a "They had" "We had" "They have" "You have"
If you're wondering whether a word should have an apostrophe, then check if you can expand it into two words or more.
It's and its. Ask yourself is the word a contraction of two words (it is) or is it a word that denotes possession (belonging to it)? "It's (It is) unlikely the chicken would have noticed one of its eggs (The eggs belonging to it) was missing."
Your and you're "You're(you are) wrong if you say your eyes (the eyes that belong to you) are not pretty."
Their and they're "They're (they are) in no hurry to get their arses (the arses belonging to them) out of my way."
I hope this has made the apostrophe's role a little clearer. Remember, there will always be exceptions and if anyone has any further pearls of wisdom please feel free to drop them in the comments. I love to learn.
Thursday, 7 February 2019
With the release of Lab Rat tomorrow, I've been thinking about my process of writing, and how much writing a book is like writing an English essay (and it's been a long time since I've written one of those).
For me, writing goes in phases. Sometimes it flows and I can't type fast enough, my heart speeds up and live each moment with the characters. At other times each word is torn painfully from my fingers and I count and re count on average about every fifty words, disappointed there aren't more. It's like writing an essay at school when you take to rambling, repetition and filler words. Then again are the periods when I can't write at all.
Thankfully I have emerged from a pit of black despair to the point where the words are flowing again. I almost worry about how easy it is and wonder, am I waffling and filling for word count, or are the descriptions a riveting and the conversations as witty and meaningful as I think they are?
However, by the time you get to the end, when you've rewritten chunks, deleted chunks, got bored, got scared, got depressed, you come up with a masterpiece. This work is polished until it's shiny, with the best characters, speaking the best dialogue, in the best situations. The writing is smooth, the characters are well rounded, the grammar is perfect. You hand it fearfully over to a publisher who accepts it, thereby confirming it's the best thing ever written.
Then the editors get their hands on it, once again tearing down those oh so carefully constructed walls of faith and optimism. Yet again you're plunged into the pit of despair and are sure you're the worst writer ever. The very nature of edits means they generally point out only the flaws, and just like that English essay, it comes back covered in red.
You read the comments and come to the conclusion the editor just doesn't "get" you or your characters. You dig in your heels because how dare they criticise your work after all the sweat blood and tears you put into it. They don't understand your characters like you do. They don't understand the context like you do. They don't understand the way you work, the way your voice sounds. They're trying to change you. They don't know what they're talking about. You blow off steam, rant a bit, then realize they're probably right and get on with it.
The very best editors are those who suggest, not demand, who explain themselves when they make a suggestion--it was at least three books in before I knew what "show not tell" actually means and I was tearing my hair out by then because what the hell else was in that scene I could show you? I described everything down to the colour of the tablecloth--and who intersperse the occasional positive remark. Amongst all that red it is a HUGE relief to see a smiley face after a piece of dialogue or a significant paragraph, and comments like "This made me laugh" or "I needed a tissue here" mean the world
After three rounds of edits and the galley, you start to hate the damn book, and then you're presented with the cover and told "this is it whether you like it or not." Sometimes they'll change the font, if you beg, or tweak something a little, but they leave you wondering if they ever actually read the Cover Information Form. or actually know anything about the content of the book Okay that doesn't always happen but this is one of the most stressful parts of all for me. I've been known to have a full autistic meltdown ater a first glimpse of a cover.I'm a very visual person, and the cover is the most important part of the book for me I've hated more than one, like this one.
And I have loved many, like these,
and of course, Lab Rat
Finally, finally the book is done, finished and out there. But that's not the end of the process because then comes the marketing and promotion. From my point of view, the least said about that the better and it's matter for another post. I'll leave you all with a parting thought.
Why the hell do I bother? Because at the end of the day writing is in my blood and despite everything, when I hold that book in my hand and see my name on the cover, every painful second is worth it.
Tuesday, 5 February 2019
Coming Very Soon From eXtasy Books
Lab Rat finally releases on Friday 8th and I'm excited for my lovely Gabriel. Lab Rat is probably the most angst-ridden book I've ever written, as it's the first person perspective of a tortured character who thinks himself entirely unworthy of love, and is running from a tortuous part of his past that just won't leave him alone, and is about to rip him apart for the second time. I had such fun torturing and tormenting Gabriel, then sticking him back together with Laurie's love - to the point that Laurie wasn't speaking to me.
You can run, but sometimes the farther you go the closer you are to where you started.
Gabriel’s life ground to a halt some time ago, but he’s still running—from his past, his family, and now the new man in his life. A man who just won’t get the message that Gabriel isn’t interested in love anymore.
Laurie won’t give up on the beautiful man who is broken and intent on running away. Even though he doesn’t know what Gabriel is running from, he’s determined to be at his side no matter what.
When Gabriel’s past finally catches up, they both stop running and find themselves plunged into something Laurie could not have dreamed of, and Gabriel never stopped having nightmares about.
Reader Advisory: This book contains a scene of attempted suicide.
Life sucks. I mean really sucks. I’m a good person, so why do bad things keep happening to me? While I’m not the type to help old ladies across the road—I’d probably scare them into a heart attack—I don’t go out of my way to hurt people either. And yet…
My family has pretty much disowned me, and I don’t blame them. They can’t cope with me, never could. Hell, I can’t cope with myself. They kind of tried for a while, in their own way. The thing is—it wasn’t my way. It wasn’t a good way. It wasn’t the right way.
When I was thirteen, something bad happened to me—really bad. They never got over it. Neither did I, but that didn’t matter. I got into drugs and alcohol in a big way. I became dark, too dark. Then, when I was fifteen, it all got to be too much. I couldn’t hold it all in anymore—the memories, the pressure, the…problems it left me with.
They say I had a breakdown. I don’t know what that is, but I ended up in hospital. I don’t know how long I was there or what happened to me there. I only know that I felt safe. For the first time since it happened, I felt safe. I didn’t want to come out. I wasn’t ready to come out, but they pronounced me cured because I could string sentences together and go for days without screaming or hiding under the bed.
My parents knew, though. They knew I wasn’t cured, that I never would be. They tried for a while, but they couldn’t cope. Not with the screaming in the night. Or the staggering in at three in the morning, either high or pissed—to stop the screaming in the night. They couldn’t cope with the physical conditions, the mental problems, the attitude, the violence. They couldn’t cope with watching the child they loved change into a monster.
When I was sixteen, I moved out and went off the rails. Surprisingly, I still managed to go to school now and again, and I got decent results in my exams. This led to the headmaster persuading me to go back for my A levels, and even more surprisingly, given what I was doing to my body by that time, I got three A levels in one year. And thus ended my academic career.
There was talk about going on to university, but to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered. I still had the nightmares, and I was afraid to go out into the world. I felt vulnerable and exposed in unfamiliar places and situations. I guess I was—I am—a complete nut job.
At the moment, I’m living in a grotty room, in a grotty house, on a non-descript street, in a second-rate town, that is…nowhere. I have two housemates who are used to me and know when it is and isn’t safe to talk to me, and who ignore the screams.
Tonight, I’m going out. It’s Saturday night. I always go out on Saturday nights. I go to the same place, see the same people, and do the same things. You’d think I’d get bored, but it’s safe.
I give myself a last look in the mirror and am reasonably satisfied with what I see. I need a haircut, and I’m way too pale, but at least the shadows around my eyes are camouflaged by the kohl, and where I’m going the vampire look is par for the course. The black lips in the mirror smile at me, but there isn’t any humour in them or in the piercing blue eyes that stare coldly at me when I allow myself to catch their gaze.
Ah well. This is the best it’s going to get tonight. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I don’t feel up to going out. I’m not myself at the moment, mentally or physically. It’s not as if I can even get pissed anymore. I learned the hard way that alcohol and my meds don’t mix, or do mix. Blegh.
But then, today hasn’t been a good day. If my head’s anything to go by, it’s not going to be a good night either, so what’s the point in being good? What’s the point in trying to look after myself? Fuck it.
I check my wallet to make sure I have enough for taxis and plenty of booze. Then I flick my hair over my shoulder and stalk out of the room.
I intimidate people easily, and I don’t know why. I’m a nice person—to everyone but myself. Okay, I’m not the most sociable. I have friends, but I don’t let anyone get too close. What’s the point? I’m not a good friend to have. I try, but good friends don’t turn cold for no reason. They don’t run away, don’t get so angry they have to hit the wall so they don’t hit you, for no reason at all. Real friends can be relied on, can give, can communicate and don’t drag you down.
Surprisingly, I do have real friends. Even though I’m such a bad friend, there are people who somehow seem to like me despite it all. I’m a shit to them. I spend all my time trying to push them away, and they spend all theirs trying to save me. I wish they wouldn’t. Although…sometimes it’s nice to have someone hold my hand when I wake up in hospital, or on the floor, or…worse.
Sometimes it’s nice not to be alone. But it’s not safe.