By Phyllis Burton, 28-Aug-2012 18:51:00
I would like to give emphasis and three CHEERS to the proper use of English.
There is a big and continuing debate about examination results in English Language in the United Kingdom. Over the last few years, examination passes in English have been increasing. Isn’t that a good thing, I hear you say? No it isn’t.
Since taking over in 2010, our Government has been trying to give priority to improving the standard of English taught in our schools.
I am afraid to say that the STANDARDS of spoken and written English have fallen quite markedly in recent years. This may in part be due to the resistance of teachers to mark too harshly so as not to discourage students, or simply the teaching itself that is at fault. If a child is not told the correct way to write, spell or make their way in the world, how are they going to get the job they want if their applications are full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes? We have all heard of employers tearing their hair out when receiving badly written job applications. Surely we owe it to future generations to make sure that they know how to apply for a job, they know how to write a convincing Curriculum Vitae and how to generate a good well-written and grammatically correct letter to go with it? Without this knowledge, they will probably fail to even reach the first rung on the job application ladder, let alone reach the top!
The English language relies quite heavily on the correct use of ‘tense’. There is one rule in particular which is being abused now by all sorts of people, even politicians. Take the verb ‘to sit’. More often than not, you now hear people say … ‘I was sat…’ when clearly it should be… ’I was sitting…’. When bad English is not corrected, everybody starts using it and the correct way is gradually forgotten, which is a dreadful shame.
Pronounciation of the letter “H” has also been changing over the last few years. The spelling of the word “aitch” in any dictionary is clearly written and should be pronounced ‘Aitch’ and not as is often used nowdays, ‘Haitch’. I wince when I hear this!
Another rule which now seems to be disappearing is the one that says ‘You should never end a sentence with a preposition.’ For instance, take the sentence: “Good language is the subject I am referring to.” The word “to” should never be placed at the end of a sentence: the correct wording should be…’The word to which I am referring…’.
These are just three examples of the way English has been downgraded over the last decade. Ah well, if as people say we are living in a rapidly changing world, people who were taught to write and speak properly (I’m not including in this, the question of regional accents etc.), will just have to put up with the use of the new ‘bad’ language and forget how GLORIOUS the English written and spoken words used to be.
By Phyllis Burton, 21-Aug-2012 12:06:00
A photograph taken during my recent PAPER DREAMS book-signing session at the Godalming, Surrey, branch of WATERSTONES.
By Phyllis Burton, 09-Mar-2012 08:00:00
As a writer, do you love the characters in your book, or don’t you care what happens to them?
You have to care for them a great deal, after all you created them, so you must be a just a little concerned about their welfare. Therefore it follows that you should know everything about them. What makes them tick? What are their needs and hopes for the future? What is their financial status, or what sign of the Zodiac were they born under. What do they look like? Are they fat, thin, or just perfect? I always find that when your main character looks into the mirror, it is quite easy to describe what or who they look like. Or you could ask another character to describe them for you. You must know all of these things, in order to make them seem alive to your readers. They can never be just cardboard cut-outs.
Would you send your principal character into danger? Yes, you would probably say, because you and you alone know that you can rescue them whenever you want to: in fact you hold the key to their life and their future. But why make them suffer in the first place? The answer to that one is easy, because it wouldn’t be a very interesting story without conflict of some kind.
I have been known to lie awake at night worrying about the main character (librarian, Katie Nicholson) in my latest book PAPER DREAMS. I had placed her in an impossible situation. The poor girl was locked in the attic of a very old and creepy, crumbling mansion and as far as I was concerned, this was the stuff of which nightmares are made. Katie had always been a bit of a dreamer in a “Walter Mittyish” kind of way and I had placed her in an incredibly awkward and positively dangerous situation.
Her protagonist, Harold Hapsworth-Cole, was hoping to inherit the old house, following upon the death of his aunt, elderly owner, and wealthy widow Marjorie Hapsworth-Cole. Katie had found evidence whilst cataloguing books in the house’s old attic, that another possible heir existed! So of course, my evil intentions towards Katie of whom I was supposed to be very fond, had to come out of Harold’s mind. He had entered the old house in secret and hidden in the shadows of the large wooden staircase…and whilst listening to a telephone conversation between Katie and her employer about the letter she’d found in an old book, had plotted to steal the evidence and make sure that she couldn’t escape from her creepy prison.
At this point, I feel like saying…”it’s nothing to do with me Guv!” But of course it had something to do with me and yes, I had found a way of rescuing her. Katie’s involvement in this drama ended up with her being placed in an even more dangerous situation later in the story, but I digress…
Katie had been treated badly by her boyfriend at the beginning of the story. She suffered as we all would at a time like that, so I found her a new love: Stuart Wells. So, I had salved my conscience by giving her a man who adored her…and everyone lived happily ever after.
Well, nearly every one!
Principal female characters in stories seem destined either to be ‘damsels in distress’, or perhaps become the more modern forward looking women, who single-handedly take care of their own lives and futures. I know which ones I prefer to write about, and despite their suffering, my readers can both cry and laugh with them.
A small part of a review I have received on this story ends with the words…”I do love a happy ending.”
By Phyllis Burton, 10-Jan-2012 12:15:00
Title: Paper Dreams
Author: Phyllis J Burton
I have always been a lover of novels that don’t confine themselves to one genre. I recall Dean Koontz saying that he likes to sit down before writing a new book and decide which genres he’s going to use in it.
That puts me very much in mind of Paper Dreams by Phyllis Burton.
I first came across Paper Dreams on Harper Collins’ Authonomy site where the author had posted sections of the book online. On the site, it should be said that the author’s blurb on the story was a lot simpler and straight forward compared to the enigmatic “recipe” on the back of the published book, but it didn’t have the air of mystery about it. in its current form, the blurb compliments the mysterious aspects of the book’s plot so a good decision in the end.
So, about the book itself. The story centres on Katie, a young woman who, like so many, has had a failed relationship but soon has a new man in her life. Add into this the death of the owner of the old mansion Epton Hall and the resulting need for Katie, as librarian, to catalogue the books in the building’s library, which leads to the discovery of a letter and a birth certificate that appears to make life a little more difficult for would-be heir of the estate, Harold. And so truly begins the story of deceit, murder and greed that is promised from the outset.
The characters in the book are generally pleasant to read about, even those who are not too pleasant in themselves and some of the things they do. The good have their flaws, the bad aren’t just a caricature of evil. A good mix of characters also means that they are easy to differentiate between and you don’t find yourself constantly thinking, “Who was that again?” or “What did they do earlier?”
The story reads at a good pace, an intense plot weaving nicely from the mysterious outset, through a little melodrama and finally into a suspense story to rival the best in the business. The plot is complex, but the writing has a simple way of drawing you in and without wanting to sound cliché holds you until the last page.
Overall, Paper Dreams does not change the world, but there aren’t many books that do these days. Instead it gives a good read, takes you away from your own troubles and puts you in the path of someone else’s, just like a good book should and I would highly recommend it for anyone who loves mystery, intrigue and something for a dark winters night.
Reviewer: Anthony Lund, Allbooks Review Int. www.allbooksreviewint.com
Title – Paper Dreams
Author – Phyllis J Burton
Publisher – Matador
ISBN : 978-1848767-898
Price : £7.99
For more info:
By Phyllis Burton, 10-Jan-2012 12:13:00
This is my first BLOG ever! I think it is about time that I learned how to blog: even the name sounds alien to me. How does one go about writing A BLOG? In fact who invented the BLOG? They have given thousands, or even millions of people a reason for writing down their thoughts, their hopes, their dreams, in the hope that there is someone out there, who is going to read them.
What shall I blog about? Me perhaps – but who would be interested in me? My writing? Well someone might be interested in my two published books. I suddenly feel excited, elated even.
But not for long: now I feel positively…deflated, because I can’t think of anything that anyone might be remotely interested in. But then I am supposed to be a writer, so it should be one of the easiest things in the world to do. So come along…think my girl…THINK.
I know, I’ll write about the weather. It is winter here in the U.K.…Oh no, I feel deflated again. I hate the winter but I love being warm – not HOT though: my favourite temperature is around 22oC (or about 72oF), as anything above that is almost alien to me living as I do in England, where it rarely gets much hotter. When it does everyone says we are having a heatwave! I heard yesterday that the temperature in parts of Australia was around 40oC – help I can feel my blood boiling already.
At the other end of the scale, we in southern England (not Scotland, because it tends to be much colder there) are having a relatively mild winter. This compares with the last 2/3 winters when we have had snow practically up to our knees, with temperatures way below zero. I live in a bungalow and last winter the icicles were hanging down from the gutter to about three inches from the ground. I remember looking out of my window – yes I did open the window, thus letting the cold air in – I saw a tiny bird clinging desperately to the end of an icicle and trying to drink from it! Poor little thing. I immediately braved the elements and poured some warm water into the bird bath and…within 5 minutes it had frozen over.
So you can now see why I dislike the winter and why I dislike very hot weather. I always vote for the middle line you see: moderation in all things is my motto.
HELP…help: it is blowing a gale outside…and I don’t like wind either!!!
I am waiting for SPRING when my garden will be alive with bird song, daffodils, bluebells, harebells and all the other bells I can think of and until then, I think I’ll go and hibernate!
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