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Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Fun! We All Speak English here, right?

Summer is approaching. For many that means travel season. One popular destination for American tourists is Ireland. As an American who has lived in Ireland for over seven years, I'd like to share a little insight with you. Here are some phrases or words that are typical here with meanings that are slightly different.

In other words- We all speak English here, right? That reminds me of the I Love Lucy episode: Lucy Meets the Queen, where they say, "You'll have to excuse us. We're Americans and we don't understand English."

1) Are you all right? -or shortened to You all right? - or even just Y'a'right?
Photo via Pinterest
What it means is -- "How may I help you?" and it's typically used by people in shops or restaurants when taking your order

2) You're very good.- This basically means- I really appreciate what you did or I'm obliged.

3) Sorry- This is near universal for "excuse me", although I have on occasion heard younger Irish (think under 15) say "excuse me". It's part of an American swing in some Irish ways, that has also included an upsurge in Halloween pumpkins and Mexican food.

4) Trad- This is shorthand for traditional music or dancing, especially music. You may see it on a sign, especially on a pub, saying "Trad Night".

5) The North- This means Northern Ireland, but you don't hear locals say Northern Ireland. They always say "the North".

6) Jelly- This isn't jam or preserves, but rather what we call Jello.

7) Chips- Not potato chips, but rather french fries- typically very large and dense.

8) Crisps- These are what we think of as potato chips.

9) You're grand- typically lengthened to Ah, you're grand- It basically means that it's all right, as in when you apologize or excuse yourself.

10) Thanks a mil- This means thanks a million, although it's not used interchangeably as we might use, Thanks very much or thanks so much when we really, really mean it. Instead, it's pretty much used all the time as thanks or thank you.

Bonus! No one says "Top of the mornin'!" unless they're in a movie.

My best to you all,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday- Books I read for School

Today's Top Ten Tuesday, from the Broke and the Bookish, is a freebie. I've decided to talk about ten books that I read for school, either in high school or college, that left a lasing impression.

1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This book is achingly beautiful. Go Set a Watchman is high on my list to read this summer.

2) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I read this on a train on the way back from Switzerland in high school. It was my first Austen. Although her works aren't plays, they lend themselves beautifully to theater and I've seen Pride and Prejudice as well as Sense and Sensibility performed.

3) The Tempest by William Shakespeare
I <3 Shakespeare. For Real. This wasn't the first Shakespeare that I read. That was Romeo and Juliet. I also read Julius Caesar, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, and Othello in high school and college and that inspired my completed project of reading all of Shakespeare. I'm picking The Tempest, though, to discuss here as it's thrilling as many believe that it was influenced by the newly founded colony of Jamestown in VA (Some of my ancestors were very early settlers there) and so it perfectly shows how history and current events can influence a writer. For more on how Shakespeare's world influenced him, I highly recommend Shakespeare's Restless World by Neil MacGregor.

4) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Atmosphere. This is a quintessential story in how horror can arise from atmosphere rather than gory details and how the strongest point can be made by examining the moral limits of the animal called man.

5) Der Richter und sein Henker by Friedrich Durrenmatt
I went to high school in Germany, at an American school, but I did take four years of German class. This was the first complete novel that I read in German. The title translates as The Judge and His Henchman and it examines the moral dilemma of what happens when a past crime goes unpunished and a police detective investigates a new crime.

6) Antigone by Sophocles
Oedipus Rex is perhaps better known, but Antigone is a part of the trio that continues the story. She's Oedipus's daughter and her strength far exceeded Oedipus's to me. It was amazing to see an early Greek female character embodying such character.

7) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
This book is slightly disturbing, though less so than 1984 (which I also read in high school). We spent weeks on it in my English class, though, and that meant that every detail could be dissected. I remember writing pages on the conch shell and the symbolism of every character and element of the story. I still love symbolism- reading it and writing it.

8) A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
Ah, Nora. Questionable motives. Proto-feminist. Iconic character. This play was full of twists, not only in plot but also in motivation and was very interesting to study.

9) The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and Tartuffe by Moliere (translated by Richard Wilbur)
I'm grouping two in one, because I read both of them for my literature: drama class in college and I found both of them to be hilarious. Words can be wonderfully amusing. These playwrights did that for me. I like smart humor. These works accomplish that.

10) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

In AP Literature, we were asked to pick an author and read two works by him or her and then write a paper on the author. I picked Charles Dickens and read A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities. My paper examined Dickens' views of capitalism and a longing for the past. It was one of my favorite high school papers to write. And, as in The Lord of the Flies, it provided ample opportunity for an abundance of examining symbolism.

Which books from school left a lasting impression on you? What were your favorite assigned reads? Which would you have preferred not to be assigned to read?

My best to you all,

Monday, May 18, 2015

A writer's, editor's and former college writing teacher's 5 Top Tips for Writer's Block


Yes, I'm all three of those title characters in today's blog. I'm a writer, an editor and I taught a course on writing to college students. What that means is that I've encountered "writer's block" in many forms. Some people debate if writer's block even exists and suggest that if a writer sits down to actually write, it will disappear. The way that I'm defining writer's block, for the purpose of this post, is any time a writer encounters a problem and doesn't know what next to write.

                                                 In other words, you want to be like this...

But instead, you're like this....

The story of the orange chair-
After I'd given my students a writing prompt, I noticed that some of them were looking more like Tom Hanks than Kermit the Frog.
"I don't know what to write." "I have nothing to say." "What should I write about?"
These are the questions and comments of many writers at some point in their writing life and those were the comments of my students on that day.
When I was in middle school, one English teacher was especially beloved by her students. She once tap-danced for us on the table to show the importance of subjects working with verbs in sentences. Each shoe was labeled as one half of the sentence. I didn't get on the table myself in my own classroom, but I was inspired by her actions.
In the middle of the room was an orange chair. I picked it up and set it on top of the table and I started asking my students questions about the chair.
"What is it made of?"
"What are its uses?"
"Describe the color, its shade and what else is the same hue."
As they began to answer my questions, I pointed out to them that if they had so much to say about a simple, orange, plastic chair they would be able to find something to say about the prompt. In short, there is always something to write about. Sometimes the words just need a little coaxing, like my students did.

My top 5 tips...

1) Choose a different way to record your words. Do you always type? Take out a pen and paper. Always write by hand? Try typing. Something as simple as writing with a different tool can help new thoughts come.

2) Like I did with my students, start asking questions. If you're writing a novel and you're on a difficult scene, ask yourself "What needs to happen here?" "What is the motivation?" "What do the readers need to learn?" "How does this connect?" "Why does character A feel that way?" Ask yourself as many questions as you can think of, by writing them down. Then, go back and answer them. For this exercise, write down the first thing that comes to mind. Your instincts will often be right. If not, you can always fix it during revision and editing.

3) Write a summary of the story. Many people wait until the end of writing to make a synopsis. That's perfectly fine and it makes sense since a synopsis explains what happens, both in terms of plot and character and it also gives away the ending. You may not know all of this until you write. You can, however, write a summary of what's going to happen in the story, what you've already written and what still needs to happen. This will help you see what areas are missing and what to write next. Connections are important for fluidity.

4) Psst.. You over there, the one reading this, I have a secret... Lean in. Are you ready? You don't have to write a story in order. That's right! You can write a story in any order that you want or in any order that the characters tell it. Writing is not like baking a cake. You can't frost a cake before you put the eggs in, but you can write the ending before the beginning. If you're having trouble on a particular section, or if you get real excited about another area and want to work on it, do it. There's no need to wait. And, as a bonus, if you're not writing filler- waiting to get to the next exciting section, chances are your book will be a lot more exciting. It will be a series of sections that you were thrilled to write and really excited about as you were writing. Just make sure to put your sections all into order when you're finished.

5) Go do something else creative. If you've tried everything and the words just aren't coming, that's ok. Step away and do something else. One really important thing that you should be doing, even when you're not stuck, is reading. Reading boosts brain activity for up to five days after you read a novel. So, guess what? If you're a writer and you're reading a lot, you'll always be in a more creative mindset. Other creative activities, art for example, can also awaken the creative areas of your mind and help your words fly. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then sometimes creating a picture can get you exactly that, 1000 words, or more.

With these easy tips, you'll be an accomplished writer and then you can look like this...

And when you're finished, in order to make your work shine the brightest, feel free to contact me at Extra Ink Edits. I offer query help, synopsis help, submission packages, and polishes for pages or full manuscripts. I also help indie authors with title suggestions and back cover blurbs.

My best to you all and happy writing!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Fun: Art and Websites


On today's Friday Fun I'd like to share with you my redesigned websites. Art is something that I enjoy, including painting, drawing, and photography. One of my photographs is on my new front page of MeganEasleyWalsh.com.

My other newly designed website is ExtraInkEdits.com.

Here's a chuckle for you. Have a great weekend!

My best to you all,

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Poetry with Emily Dickinson

Hello! On today's Writer Wednesday, I'm looking at Emily Dickinson's poem of watching a bird in her garden. While gardening recently, I was joined by this cheerful companion. I imagine Emily's visitor must have looked much the same.

Part Two: Nature by Emily Dickinson


A BIRD came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.
And then he drank a dew         
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.
He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad,—         
They looked like frightened beads, I thought
He stirred his velvet head
Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers         
And rowed him softer home
Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
Leap, plashless, as they swim.

My best to you all,

Monday, May 11, 2015

Encouragement to Let Your Light Shine, especially for writers

You have a unique perspective, a story inside of you that has never been written before. That's magic! The words, the characters, the setting, the themes, they are there to breathe life into truths inside of you, bursting to break free of their confines and shine in the world. It's that simple and that complicated. Even when clouds of rejection roll across your sky though, just remember that the sun (your unique gift and story) is still always there. It may look like night, but the sun still shines. And by night, we learn to dream, to remember the sunlight and welcome it when we see it again. 
In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "Believe you can and you're halfway there." Let your light shine! Unlike other work, no one can take your place. If you're absent, there are no substitutes. If you don't write your story, it will never be told.
You are the only person in the entire world that can write what you do. Believe. Keep Going. Shine. 

In case you missed it before... 
Sometimes we all need a bit of extra help. I'm offering 10% off all my editing services on Extra Ink Edits, if you book by May 15th! In addition, all full manuscripts always receive a complimentary query and synopsis critique. 

My best to you all,