5 ways to make your use of English language more interesting

5 ways interesting englishIf you feel like you repeat yourself a lot, and that everything you can say has already been said, every word has already been heard, there are a few simple tricks that you can use to spruce up your use of the English. Life hacks, as the children are calling them these days. These tricks can be applied at all levels of learning, to ensure that you get new reactions to the things you say – and to make sure people are really listening to you. Or just to amuse yourself. So, here’s how to make English more exciting: Continue reading

Cutting out words to improve Mad Max’s summary

mad max fury road summaryI don’t know who’s responsible for the summary of Mad Max: Fury Road that’s currently loitering on the film’s IMDB page, but it’s got too many words and reads like someone’s trying too hard to sound dramatic. It may be that some random Joe has written this summary, someone with nothing to do with the film itself. Or it may be the production put it forward themselves. Whatever the case, it’s a good candidate for improving. So here’s a little challenge – can this descriptively over-the-top summary be improved simply by removing some words? Have a look below, and you decide: Continue reading

A Treatise on Lindt Chocolate Advent Calendars

lindt advent calendarFor the past few years, I’ve been trying to reconcile the prospect of a waking each morning to the indulgence of a Lindt chocolate Christmas treat with the expense of such an advent calendar. £6 seemed an awful lot considering it’s a piece of card with a moderately feeble gram value of chocolate content, especially as it’s really aimed at children and a grown man shouldn’t be partaking in such tomfoolery. But hey, this year I thought I’d go for it. And received a sharp, burning lesson in everything that is wrong with Christmas. Continue reading

Gun City Bohemian – my new urban fantasy novel

urban fantasy novelA long time coming – I’m finally releasing my new novel, Gun City Bohemian. This urban fantasy charts the early days of a student romance, as layabout Will Carter falls for hard-working medic Lucy Shelling. And their new found bond inevitably leads to hellish conspiracies rising up around them. With an eminently readable narrative and a delicately complex plot, it bridges a rampant mix of genres, from romance, to thriller to horror. Continue reading

What a lovely pile of books

printed booksIt’s a splendid the feeling, as an author, of seeing a pile of your books in print. Even more so when you know all those printed books are going to (hopefully…) good homes. Even when you plan on giving them all away.

This is a bundle of printed copies of my new book, The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide – a short reference that covers the aspects of English, for English learners. With colourful pictures and examples. It’s a specialised book, for foreign students reaching towards fluency (and for the eminently curious) – but I think its nice matt cover and fantastic artwork would make it desirable on any bookshelf. Maybe I’m biased, though.

I did a print run of these books specifically to be given away – each of these copies will be offered as part of upcoming promotions over the next few months. If you’re interested in being in with a chance of winning yourself a copy, be sure to follow me on Goodreads for updates, or (important if you’re really interested in the world of learning English language!) join my English Lessons Brighton mailing list. Fun times ahead!

A Time to Curse: When is it appropriate to use swearwords in creative writing?

swearwords in creative writingA while back, I took all of my most complete manuscripts and, for curiosities’ sake, tallied up the number of swearwords in each. I made an interesting discovery – that the new novels seemed to have increasingly higher number of swearwords, and, rather surprisingly, my most light-hearted and least violent novel had the second highest total. As I am now re-editing that novel, Gun City Bohemian, for publication, I thought it a prudent time to step back and ask why these patterns emerged – and to muse on appropriate levels of swearing in creative writing in general. Continue reading

How to use the past perfect to build effective narratives

past perfect narrative useGetting back to some gritty basic English grammar, it struck me that it would be useful to publish some of the tips from The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide to help with general creative English writing. Though aimed at foreign learners of English, these fundamental building blocks of the language offer some handy tips for anyone trying to master the craft. For example, a solid understanding of the past perfect can be essential to building an effective narrative. The past perfect helps to create atmosphere, feeding new information into a narrative at crucial moments. Continue reading

The language of cons – an etymology

con man etymologyCon artists and their elaborate cons are rife in fiction and film for obvious reasons. Tales of trickery and the sort of guile it takes to pull off a good con are clear fodder for suave characters, a bit of danger and a good old-fashioned twist in a story. And they’re rich in interesting vocabulary that is, of course, always exciting to pick apart. If you’re into that sort of thing. Part of what makes the language of cons so interesting is that a lot of it has filtered out of criminal, underground and travelling circus slang. Which are areas whose origins aren’t normally well documented. Continue reading

An English grammar guide of 100 pages just to tell time…

english grammarGrammar is a fun loving thing. Not everyone may think so, but starting out pondering over when to use each tense and discovering a year later you’ve just about decided on how best to explain constitutes a fascinating journey for me. It was around a year ago that I started writing a short English grammar guide for foreign students, which should have been around 14 pages long. Now I’m about to release it as a resolute eBook, at some 114 pages, and feel that, if only for having more time, it could’ve been so much longer…

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House of Tragic She – madness in performance art

house of tragic sheThe Six Lips Theatre troupe returned to Brighton this Fringe with their latest offering, The House Of Tragic She. I was eager to catch up with their work after last year’s grandly gothic Poe, and this latest adaptation promised an even deeper visual representation of the madness that seeps out of literature and art. Described as an ongoing research project presenting the constant reinterpretations of loneliness and insanity over the last few centuries, in literature, film and art, the group set a high bar for this hour-long performance. And, to my satisfaction, they were more than up to the task. Continue reading