Etymology Excavation: quarantine
Quarantine stems from the C15th Venetian/Italian word ‘quarantena’, meaning ‘forty’. During the outbreak of the Black Plague in Europe, forty days was the period that ships must remain isolated before off-loading.
Etymology Excavation: neither heads nor tails
Neither heads nor tails – not heads nor tales, but sometimes neither head nor tail in the UK. Is Cicero responsible for this phrase, or does it tie back to the old tradition of flipping a coin if the braining gets too hard?
Etymology Excavation: chasten, chastise
These days, the word ‘chastise’ is generally seen as a little kinky. Ironically, the origin of chastise is from the Latin ‘castus’, ‘morally pure, chaste’.
Twitter basics for authors – what is Twitter?
What is Twitter? Twitter is a micro-blogging service, and if you’re an author, it’s great way to meet other writers and artists and learn new things.
Scene it here?
A scene. Loosely defined as the smallest unit of book building, built of many of the sub-units of book building known as mugs of coffee.
Twitter chats and how to find them
What are Twitter chats, and why should I care? Twitter chats depend on a hashtag topic, and are like the coffee bar of the Twitterverse, where you meet new people and discuss stuff.
Etymology Excavation: Judas goat
The term ‘Judas goat’ refers to a goat that is trained to make itself familiar to a herd, which then leads them to the slaughterhouse, and refers to the legend of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to his death in the Bible.
Etymology Excavation: When push comes to shove
‘When push comes to shove’ means when you get down to something, when a subject or situation is stripped down to essentials, when the point is reached at which a commitment must be made.
Etymology Excavation: Raining cats and dogs
‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ is a primarily British English expression, verging on dated, and means a very hard rain. There’s a number of intriguing theories on the origin of the phrase, some of them debunked, but others still up for grabs.
E-book publishing 101: Draft 2 Digital
Draft 2 Digital is a content aggregator. Think of it as a central point where you can upload your manuscript for distribution to multiple booksellers: one set of reports, one payout, one set of formatting requirements.
Don’t write what you know
Instead of ‘write what you know’ coming in on every channel, let’s try a little ‘write something new and different’, or ‘write whatever you can’t stop writing.’
Etymology Excavation: At full tilt
“At full tilt” means flat out, at top speed, as fast as possible. Its origins don’t have anything to do with being unsteady, at an angle, or, indeed poker.
Chapter quotes – why add them?
Chapter quotes can be an insight into the world backdrop, a good laugh, or a context-setter, depending on what the author is doing with them and with their book. Personally, I enjoy them, so I put them in.
Ryder Author Resources – book reviews and more
Ryder Author Resources do exactly what it says on the tin, reliably and within budget; including book bloggers, promo images, blog tours, and social media.
Etymology Excavation: coming down the pike
‘Coming down the pike’ can be used to indicate something coming to prominence, up-and-coming, making itself noticed. I’ve also seen it used as a warning phrase, e.g. ‘something big’s coming down the pike – better get ready.’
Hidden Gems – author services
Hidden Gems advertises as an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) program, although they also accept published books for their reviewers. At time of writing, their review rate was 80%.
Etymology Excavation: strong suit
'Strong suit' is a phrase meaning a strength, something you are good at. You can easily substitute 'strong point' or 'forte'. A common mis-spelling is 'strong suite', which may have its roots in common terms like 'Microsoft suite'. It is nonetheless...
Self-publishing 101 – Part 1, print-on-demand
Print on demand: the real pay-off was the moment my book proof showed up on my doorstep, and I got my book in my hands looking like a real book.
How do I get started writing?
How do I get started writing? Write whatever way blows your skirt up. There is no set of commandments. The only restrictions are your imagination and your writing ability.
Self-editing for dummies, or how to not annoy your readers
Self-editing: is it as good as a professional edit? Probably not. But at least you can minimise the chance that someone’s going to use your precious manuscript for toilet paper because the typos, homophones, and other easily-avoidable technical eff-ups are making their brains hurt.
Etymology Excavation: sabotage
To sabotage something, today, means to damage it, to render it unusable or in need of repairs, or to perform a task so badly as to make it pointless.
Etymology Excavation: fascinating
Long story short, unless whatever you’re saying is fascinating is at least as good as a flying penis that wards off the evil eye, you’re probably using it wrong and blaspheming to boot.
Websites 101 covers everything the fledgling author or webmaster doesn’t know that they should know about. Back-ups, databases and add on domains, oh my.
Etymology Excavation: Toe the line
‘Toe the line’ means to follow orders, to do as you’re told, conform to a set standard, or to not rock the boat. An alternative phrase that means exactly the same thing is ‘toe the mark’.
E-book publishing 101: Amazon KDP
You’ve decided to publish independently. Good for you. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, or Amazon KDP for those of us in the biz, is the one that comes immediately to mind. Amazon is well-known, they’re everywhere, and best of all, they make it really easy for novice authors.
Amazon Author Central – Undercover to El Dorado
Amazon Author Central seems to be conceived as a hybrid of the very familiar Kindle Direct Bookshelf, where you can add books and track sales, and a personal profile page for you, the author.
Etymology Excavation: Quixotic
Today’s excavation concerns the word ‘quixotic’. It’s a fun dig. Let’s start off with the dictionary definition as used today, courtesy of the Cambridge English Dictionary: ‘having or showing ideas that are different and unusual but not practical or likely to succeed’.
Writing Myths: Slay the Dragon
Writing Myths that need slaying: I must write something other people will like and approve of. I must write at a level everyone will understand. I must write something that will sell. Writing is a slog, a chore. Writing is like giving yourself homework every night for the rest of your life.