Category Archives: Recommended Sites

Grammar: By Zombies

Last post before Christmas.  And a handy bit of advice from the English Grammar Facebook ( page via my sister.  An easy way to identify the passive voice (where the object comes before the subject in the sentence, producing a slightly deadening construction) is to see whether you can add the words ‘by zombies’ after the verb.  Thus:

  1. We attended the meeting (by zombies) – Active
  2. The meeting was attended (by zombies) by us. – Passive

Or even:

  1. Zombies taught (by zombies) us about the passive voice.
  2. We were taught (by zombies) by zombies about the passive voice.

Next post on 6th Jan.  See you in the New Year.


Recommended Sites: Interesting Literature

Did you know that in Shakespeare’s time there was a sweet white wine called Bastard, and it’s mentioned in Henry IV Part One?  Or that on days when he gave public readings, Dickens had two tablespoons of rum with fresh cream for breakfast, and a pint of champagne for tea?  Or that George Eliot was the first person to refer to ‘pop music’ in a letter in 1862?

All this and more can be found at  There are more scholarly articles but ‘Best Anecdotes Featuring Oscar Wilde’ and ‘Interesting Literary Facts about Halloween’ will do for me.


Writing Fiction: Jane Austen’s Advice

See link below for a collection of advice gleaned from her letters.  I particularly like the fact that she referred to people who were too obsessed with punctuation as ‘dull elves’.  Try saying that the next time someone starts a discussion on the apostrophe.  Also, she sums up everything about persistence by saying, ‘I am not at all in a humour for writing, I must write on till I am.’

Recommended Site: Brain Pickings Weekly

And a bit of a crossover into the discussion of persistence.  It is well worth subscribing to the newsletter for this site.  There’s always something a bit odd with a literature/arts slant (see the Bob Dylan book about dogs for kids on this week’s newsletter).  The reason I’ve picked it out this week is for the article about Grit.  Psychologist Angela Duckworth explains why the ability to persist with a project is more important than IQ in predicting success.  There’s even a little quiz you can take to assess your own.  I came out as 4/5, but as any scientist worth their salt would tell you, I was probably heavily influenced by having read the article.  Anyway, enjoy:


Recommended Sites 2

I’m away for yet another extended cup of tea.  Back at the end of the month.  In the meantime let me recommend the Twitter page and blog for a writer who calls himself Scribbles.  The headline on his Twitter page says, ‘Aiming for a writing career. As we’re in recession, I need luck. Going to see if I can project plan some into my life. If not, will probably bitch about boss.’  On his blog he describes himself as, ‘Married with kids, mortgage, cats that puke and a crappy motor.’  His tweets are a constant stream of effort and avoidance: There are three consecutive tweets about skiving, he gets distracted by a feed on ants, keeps trying to set targets and meet them.  The latest is a massive rant against his boss.  To me, he is some sort of patron saint of writers.

His blog is at:

And his Twitter Feed at

Alternatively, have a look at this article on Cormac McCarthy’s theory of punctuation, which I found via @WritingMatters1 (which is also very good).  Very hard core: full stops, capital letters, and commas; that’s it.

Recommended Sites 1

Allow me to recommend a couple of great blogs.  The first is Paul McVeigh’s, which has almost every writing competition, interview, event of interest for writers in the UK.  I think of it as the IMDB of UK writing sites, and is a huge relief for those of us who used to look jealously over the shoulders of those reading the latest copy of Mslexia for the adverts.

The second seems to have started out at about the same time as mine did.  It’s an attempt by the writer to read 100 classic novels and to record the results.  Lovely graphics, humorous asides.  The great thing is, she’s just started (Northanger Abbey) so you’re in at the start.

Finally, my sister sent me a link to this, which is an explanation of literary terms with reference to Disney films.  Great fun.