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Thoughts From The Corner

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Once upon a time, many moons ago but still within living memory, a little boy sat in a classroom corner.

Not so long, pupils who were considered disruptive, or simply stupid because they couldn’t answer the teacher’s questions, were sent to ‘the corner’. Facing the corner, away from the class, the pupil would have a ‘Dunce’s Cap’ with a letter ‘D’ on it, put on his head.

Alone in the corner, mocked by teachers and peers alike, every minute seemed like an hour. The little boy had a lot of time to think because he spent many hours of his educational life there

That little boy grew up to become a lecturer and private English tutor.

The experience of being isolated and ridiculed as a little boy has never left him. Left alone in the corner for many hours, all he had were his ‘thoughts from the corner’.

Today, he uses that expression (‘thoughts from the corner’) to post some of the many thoughts, stories and events that have happened to him throughout his life, on this blog.

Each post is a small, self-contained anecdote leading to a conclusion of where his thoughts have led him during the writing of the piece. Some will be amusing, some will be sad. Hopefully, all will be thoughtful.

Pinterest -The Novel Continues

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Regular readers will know that I have been putting together an 80,000 word manuscript called ‘Seeing Unseen’ for the past 18 months. That MS is now in the hands of a professional editor. Who knows, it may even be out in time to put in Santa’s sack or downloaded onto all those shiny new ebooks, also in Santa’s sack. How does he ever manage without getting a hernia. . .

story

Shouldn’t he have a hernia?

A few weeks ago I entered new territory by starting to build my novel on Pinterest in pictures and captions. That is progressing nicely and I have added to my ‘Seeing Unseen’ board on Pinterest. Please venture over there and see where Seth (my anti-hero) is at: http://www.pinterest.com/privatetuition/seeing-unseen-a-novel-by-dlnixon/

Again I found this challenging. I have found it impossible to simply continue with my text without ‘back-filling’. Information about Seth, which comes out later in the novel I have included in the latest pin. Hopefully, I won’t spoil the novel by giving too much away in these early stages. I think that with my pin next week I can take you right back to the second sentence of the manuscript.

For those of you unsure of what Pinterest is – it is a social networking site where you pin images (with or without captions) on boards and build collections of anything you want. There can also be ‘open’ boards which invited pinners can pin on. You can see six of these on my site.

I have found it to be fun and relaxing. There is an amazing world out there that people are pinning about. Boards can range from Selfies to Inspirational Quotes to Eroticism to Cute Dogs. The world is your oyster. It is also possible to pin the Pinterest logo to your favourites bar so that any image you browse can be easily clicked on and pinned on your boards.

 

 

 

Guest Post: Knowledge in Books

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Thoughts From The Corner

As this private English tutor merrily sailed along on the good WordPress, safe, secure and sanitized from the the outside world of other social networking blog sites, I received a request from a guest blogger. Interestingly it came from Blogger.

There are bloggers out there, beavering away to produce interesting posts on a whole myriad of interests, posting on sites such as Blogger, Tumblr and Boing Boing. ‘Boing Boing,’ I hear you ask. Out there in the blogosphere, the Chinese Boing Boing is the most widely read blog in the world.

Below is the post from Malacast Agent pondering on ‘Knowledge in Books’. I have posted it in its entirety, so I take no credit or otherwise for its content or its typos, should you spot any!

Thank you Malacast for trusting me with your work.

 

Before we jump into this blog post, I should probably tell you a bit about myself: I’m Malacast Agent, lead (and currently, only) writer of the Malacast Editorial (mcasteditorial.blogspot.com) I specialize in writing about books, video games, movies, television, and more recently writing. I do post reviews and previews on occasional, but the bulk of the site is made up of editorials that speak about whatever captures my fancy that day. 

    I’m an outsider to common beliefs and practices, but as I get older, I find myself becoming more and more practical, especially when it comes to social issues. I’m a fan of art, theater, and I love a book, whether it comes in paper, or across the digital flow of time and space.
    If you like (or hate) what you read here, be sure to stop by my site,  and tell me, as explicitly as you want, just how you feel about my writing. I’d like to thank Mr. Dean Nixon for this opportunity to put my writing on his website, it was very generous of him to give me this shot, and I hope I don’t stink up his site with this post. Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy this post on knowledge in books.
     Books, books, and more books, but what about the book that makes you just say hurrah! What about that work? I’ve read hundreds of books in my lifetime, and I never learned to appreciate a book more than when I learned something new. Today, I’m reading through Stephen King’s Magnus opus, The Dark Tower series. These stories are a testament to Stephen King’s career, and most of his fans believe the Dark Tower to be among his greatest works. Now before I go too far in, and make you think this is a discussion about the Dark Tower series, let me squash that for now, because this post is not about King’s illustrious work, it’s about books that speak, and grow with every reading. All books are knowledge, and not because of some philosophical idea that all knowledge is indeed power, nor can I transcribe a tome about the complete history of time and space being equal to the latest copy of Uncanny X-Men. The point I make is that all books, are knowledge because all writing from Shakespeare, to the entomology of the banana slug, to even the script of the last Hangover film, is knowledge. The importance, and quality of that knowledge however, is what I aim to question:
      I read comics, because I’m a nerd, but more because I like Science fiction, especially the likes of Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and Orson Scott Card. I enjoy the stories that put character on the back-burner, and tell stories in a way that reminds of a time when community gathered around a fire, that heart of the village powered by ember and oral tales, passed down before anyone ever thought of penning them down on paper. I enjoy learning, even if what I’m being taught requires a deeper train of thought, rather than robotic language that spells everything out in dull description.
   I want to feel mystified, and surrounded by great storytelling, all-the-while I’m learning about the subject at hand. I love to learn about obscure history and social blunders/wonders. I also love satire, and books that appeal to the child at heart in all of us, especially since the said child is being pushed out by a lack of stimulation for many of us. I believe we are caught in this Charybdis of adulthood, and the misappropriation of childhood wonder, replaced by faceless fact-finding, and short-term memory learning.
   So when I think of books, I think of knowledge, far more than what I see from the vast majority of learning today. We no longer drill our minds with knowledge, we instead use the search engines to quickly discover our answers, instead of exploring a text book, or even holding a discussion with our fellow human being. Obviously that is how it is going to be from now until we reach the point of copying and pasting the brain, so it does the thinking and learning for you, so am I wrong to say all books, no matter the content is a form of knowledge, and learning?
     Knowledge from Gray’s Anatomy can (for some people) be more rewarding than say reading about Michio Kaku’s Physics if the Impossible, which is more for the mass market than a textbook, whereas the later of Gray’s Anatomy is clearly a well dialogues textbook for anyone interested in the working and structure of the human body. Both books provide any reader with a vast rewarding knowledge in a field of science, and both are skeptical to questioning by scholars of those said fields, ( in this case, the fields of Anatomy and Physiology, and Theoretical Physics)  because they are not end-all-be-all authorities on the fields they cover.
   Okay, maybe this example works for some, lets try another example, this time on the comparison of two sources, and the subjectivity of their importance to knowledge and education.
    Let’s discuss the idea of mainstream writing. You know, the type of writing that garners fans, Hi-Lo books, and contemporary hardcovers that are in the new arrivals section of most brick and mortar, and digital download stores. Are books written by the mainstream authors educative? Could a book written by Chuck Palahuniuk, be as educating as a book written by Stephen Hawking? Or are we in one of those apples and oranges debates that really are more apt to cause extreme disagreement, than force an intelligent conversation.  Luckily, I’m hear to tell you that apples and oranges can be compared, and the answer to the question I pose is an emphatic yes.
     The rule that all books are knowledge stands to be a fairly accurate rule. Who are we to say that one might not learn from Stephen Hawking, and not equivocally learn another lesson from any work of Chuck Palahuniuk’s?
      I know the argument I am making seems pointless, because I should be making the point that reading books by the great Stephen Hawking yields a far more rewarding use of one’s time, where reading Chuck Palahuniuk might be a fun experience, and it may even teach you a bit, depending on the novel, you might say that reading The History of the Universe, is a lot more thought-provoking than reading Fight Club, but they doesn’t mean Fight Club is not its own thought-provoking commentary. Both examples, and the multitude of examples in-between define intelligent, thoughtful introspective commentary that really speaks to humanity as a whole. Who is to say a book about the likes of Genghis Khan, who killed hundreds of thousands of people across the steppes, is more insightful to reading a book about the guy down the block that opened a bakery. Both are historical, both serve to change the course of history, albeit one in a far greater way, and both historical references could verily affect you, because you might be in awe of the horrors of Genghis Khan, of you may love croissants.
   So why do we teach about Genghis Khan, and not Joe’s bakery? Because one has been labeled knowledgable information, while he other is passive information that is not important to the majority of people. Perhaps a food critic will care about Joe’s bakery, but history professors probably wouldn’t know Joe from John, or Stephen Hawking.
     Books are a lot like Joe’s bakery, there’s a ton of them out there, and not all of them can vie for your attention. This doesn’t mean one book is any less important than another, hence knowledge is no less important than what form it comes in, providing it matters more to you.
   If you want to work in the comic book industry, and you never read a comic book, that can either be enlightening, or ignorant, depending on the type of comics you want to create.  If you want to be an English professor, and you can’t publicly speak well enough to have confidence to lecture a whole class, then perhaps you better learn to speak in front of crowds, or rethink your career. Knowing something, anything that is required of you in your profession is great, but knowing a bit more than what is expected keeps you in the frontline of being the best of the best in your profession.
   This goes without saying that knowledge is a powerful ally in this world today, and the type of knowledge you have is t just for the benefit of your career, but having to deal with people who have to find you interesting, and who will need you to get the job done.
  I believe that education is fundamental, but only if it benefits you, and not just because you were told to go to school, a pressure many young people are compelled to do. Granted, a stellar education is unquestionably the most rewarding pleasure to a flag rowing mind, but it may not always be the very path to take through life. I recommend trying it at least once, just to get a feel for it, even though it might not be your best option, nor is it always your only option.
    I may not have stuck with schooling, and my future will show the consequences, or rewards for that decision, but I believe life is full of what-ifs, and I don’t know if regret is a survival mechanism, but I think deep down that regrets are a part of life that we have to deal with every time we make a life-alternating decision.  I only say that you should do what feels right, and know its never too late to learn, or fix the mistakes in your life. That may not be true in all aspects, but I believe it’s better to fail at one dream, than fear trying any dream.

Pinterest – Using it to Publish a Novel

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Q: Can it be done?

A: In a fashion/kind of/probably not satifactorily

I am two weeks into an experiment to see if my 80,000 word manuscript can be translated into a series of images on Pinterest; not strictly true because I do also put captions underneath the images. The results so far are that it can be done in a fashion/kind of/probably not satifactorily. . .

Starting off was relatively easy. I set the scene with two images representing my two main characters and summed up the novel in a few words. So far so good.

The next pin also seemed to work okay. I found an image with a quote from Ray Bradbury and then included the opening sentence from my novel underneath. So, the scene is set – where now?

Not so easy. Simply finding another image and putting the second sentence of my book in the caption box didn’t work. The line, on its own,  was out of context with what had proceeded it. It works in the book because the following sentences can read immediately. The ‘line of thought’ following the images was brought to an abrupt halt. Time does not allow one sentence per week on on my Pinterest board. I suspect I would be in my box before I got to the end of the 80,000 words and you would be considerably older. :-)

So, how to proceed so that readers of my ‘Seeing Unseen’ novel board would be able to follow the narrative of the book? My decision this week has been to sum up the professional character of Seth in a caption, in order to keep the reader in the picture and allow for some development of the narrative.

I would welcome your input here – do the images ‘flow’? Have I left you confused? If so, it’s back to the drawing Pinterest board.

Please jump over and take a look: http://www.pinterest.com/privatetuition/seeing-unseen-a-novel-by-dlnixon/

 

Pinterest Creates More Interest than BDSM

In my last post I posed the question, ‘Pinterest – Useful or Useless?’

Throughout the last week I have received an above average number of views for the post. In fact, ‘Pinterest’ created more interest than when I included ‘BDSM’ in my post. :-)

I have decided to use Pinterest to layout the skeleton of my forthcoming novel – ‘Seeing Unseen’. The subject matter deals with cyberstalking which results in an underage relationship. Heavy subject matter maybe but very relevant to today’s society.

Throughout the past week I have spent a few minutes daily, following boards on Pinterest and pinning images to my boards. My following has risen from 5 to 21. Through the haze of social media mist, I assume that is good but I don’t really understand why. I am not convinced that those followers will keep returning to look at my pins. I would welcome your opinion on that.

What has been interesting is that I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. It is a kind of ‘no-brainer’ looking at pictures, many with wonderful quotes, and clicking ‘Pin’ so that they transferred to one of my boards. It’s bright and it’s cheerful, far less intense than reading blog posts.

The board that I am laying my novel on is called ‘Seeing Unseen’ and garnered 12 followers. Will they return to view the progress of my novel as I pin? Who knows. . .

Like all forms of social media, it takes time to ‘cultivate’ a loyal following. One week is too short a time to gauge interest, so onwards and upwards into week two.

I have pinned the opening sentence of my novel to the following board:

Please click above, take a trip across there and follow if you have half an interest. The Pinterest link you see above does not contain the board description or comments beneath each image that I include.

 

 

Pinterest – Useful or Useless?

Yes, I joined.

Two years ago (this coming May) I started this blog, joined: Pinterest, Goodreads, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Facebook, Linkedin and Tumblr with Twitter coming a year later.

Why the headlong rush into social media? Simple, I wanted to write a novel.

I want to write a novel.

I saw regular blog writing as a way to train myself to write on a daily basis and perceived wisdom indicated that social networking sites were necessary to get my novel out to the big wide world once ready to market.

Does all that seem cold and calculated? Yes it does.

So here I am, two years later, the proud owner of a multitude of useful/useless (delete as applicable) networking sites and in possession of an 80,000 word manuscript. Has my original plan been a success?

Well, kind of.

Although I haven’t really had that much time to network (writing a novel remember. . . ), I do have more virtual friends than real ones (How sad is that?) but I haven’t set the networking world on fire. As for the novel – well, it’s taken countless hours over 18 months and is still only a manuscript, not a physical product sitting on the shelves of bricks and mortar book shops or even sitting on virtual shelves for e-book readers to download in their 10s/100s/1000s/10s of 1000s – delete as applicable.

Will my book sit on a book shelf?

I KNOW! I KNOW! Stop shoutin’ at me. . . I’m getting around to the Pinterest question that I opened with. Bear with me while I meander through this social network maze. :-)

So where does this all leave me in the marathon succinctly termed ‘novel writing’?

To be perfectly honest with you – I’m not sure. With regards to the novel, I am within a gnat’s todger of contacting editors in an attempt to employ one. With regards to Stumbleupon, Facebook, Linkedin and Tumblr I simply click the button at the bottom of my blog post and send it to those sites. Goodreads I tune into occasionally and write a short review of the book I have just read. As for Reddit, I couldn’t get along with it, so I just ignore it. This blog I have put time into and post regularly.

Getting to know you with social media

That brings us around to Pinterest. So, is it useful or useless? Meaning, will it help me with regards to my novel?

In the past 2 years I have gained a few followers on Pinterest – 5! I guess that if I haven’t been playing the game – I can’t complain. However, all that is now about to change. I have read that it can be a powerful weapon in the armoury of a self-publisher.

So this is my cunning plan. :-) I am going to have a board (that’s what they do over on pinterLand) dedicated to my novel. I intend to provide an image plus a quote/description from a piece of the novel week by week. I will reveal, bit by bit, an outline of the narrative. I can’t promise any cliffhangers such as we used to get at the conclusion of each Batman episode but I think it will fun – although ‘fun’ is probably not the correct word for the subject matter of my novel. Titled ‘Seeing Unseen’, it could perhaps be summed up as cyberstalking leading to an underage relationship.

I will include a link to the Pinterest board every time I post to this blog – usually weekly. Please feel free to follow on Pinterest, let me know and I’ll happily follow you also.

The link is: http://gb.pinterest.com/privatetuition/seeing-unseen-a-novel-by-dlnixon/

‘One Step at a Time’ advises Private Tutor

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Thoughts From The Corner

As a private English teacher, many of my students see passing their GCSE English as the be-all-and-end-all of our private tutoring.

As we commence our studies, it is as if they feel they are at the foot of an unclimbable mountain. The dizzying heights seem unreachable. The start is tinged with tension the conclusion lost in the mists of time.

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Mountain – Alaska’s Denali (Photo credit: blmiers2)

I assure them that it’s only a matter of one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. The GCSE English curriculum is merely a path of hurdles. I tell them that I will guide them down the path and together we will stride over the hurdles.

The year progresses, the lessons are ticked off one by one and we arrive at examination time; and sure enough, the ascent has been successful, the peak reached and GCSE English passed. I receive a phone call/text/email/tweet from a very excited student and are asked about private tuition for the next level – ‘A’ level English.

Then a sense of deja vu as the first lesson commences. Nerves, stress, tension, talk of the unclimbable mountain ahead of them. I remind them of the mountain scaled in passing their GCSE and assure them, once again, that we are about to start on a path of hurdles. We will take the journey together one step at a time, one hurdle at a time.

So we start. It may be ‘Hamlet, then on to John Donne, then on to T.S.Eliot, then on to Samuel Beckett. Each one comes and each one goes. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. Sometimes the ascent seems shrouded in mist and other times it’s simply that the gradient is too steep. Eventually, the peak is reached, the exam. completed and then the nervous wait for results.

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John Donne

The deja vu kicks in again. Contact by phone/text/email/tweet; ‘A’ level English passed and a place at university accepted.

I know that when the university mountain has been climbed and the peak reached three years later, the student will look back at on the GCSE and ‘A’ level and wonder what all the panic was about. Perhaps even wonder if a private English tutor was required at all!

Stand upon the highest ridge, and see, how small the other mountains seem.

Du Fu, Tang Dynasty (618-907)

Editor Wanted – Can You Help?

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Thoughts From The Corner

I am looking for an editor of adult material in a novel.

The theme is cyber stalking resulting in an underage relationship. Although the relationship is non-sexual there are scenes containing erotic fantasies with graphic sexual details.

For the past 16  months I have been beavering single-mindedly, ferreting for snippets of facts and figures whilst squirreling away ‘useful’ information in order to publish the novel.

I started with a desire to write, a kernel of an idea and a vague plan in my head. 80,000 words later I found that I was a ‘pantster’ rather than a planner. Sitting there cogitating, contemplating and naval gazing, ideas poured forth like tea through a strainer – hopefully leaving the dregs behind in favour of savouring the flavour.

I am about to undertake a second edit, probably a 6-8 week task. Following the conclusion of the first edit four weeks ago, I have attempted to clear my head of the novel and research into editors, publishers and self-publishing. Oh how complicated!

Developmental/substantive/copy editing/proofreading/KDP/POD/LS/CS and on and on. Confused? I was – still am? Slowly but surely the penny seems to have (almost) dropped, the pieces (almost) fallen into place. I need someone to take my work by the scruff of the neck and shake it to within an inch of its life.

Although I have made one or two initial contacts, I am looking for an editor that will look at a small part of my manuscript for free. I hear there are editors out there who are willing to do this. I have come to realise just how important this next step is and I want to be able to have communication with three or four editors to see what they do with my work and how we ‘communicate’. The thought of letting go of my work is scary and I need to feel confident in my choice.

Second Bit of Help

Should I come through that process relatively unscathed, I would appreciate any experience you have had of dealing with Smashwords, Lightning Source and those companies that are willing to do certain tasks for you e.g. Troubadour, Bubblecow, Kazoo, Bookbaby, Silverwood and the list goes on and on and on. It really is difficult to see the wood for the trees or is the trees for the wood. . .

Any words of wisdom that you can cast my way would be most welcome. Thank you.

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Write out 1200 times: ‘I will finish this edit, I will finish this edit, I will finish this edit. . . ‘

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