When Less is Less and Fewer, Fewer

fewer, less, grammar usageOne of my greatest pet peeves about modern writing is the flagrant misuse of the word “less”.  I see it everywhere, even so called professional journalists are saying such things as “…we have 20 less laps to go in the race…”  Advertisements claim, “Now with less calories” or “We have less waiting lines”.  Less has become the defacto identifier for all quantity comparisons.

Prior to the eighteenth century, this would have been perfectly acceptable, but since that time it has been accepted that “fewer” is to be used when talking about things that can be counted individually, “less” when taking about items or amounts that are not individually countable.  Let’s look at some examples. Continue reading “When Less is Less and Fewer, Fewer”

This Business of Writing: Ordinary and Necessary Expenses

Today, Dear Reader, we continue the series on the business of writing and welcome back Brigitte A. Thompson as she shares her professional advice as an accountant and author.

writer, author, business, bookkeeping, accounting
All rights reverved: iStockphoto.com

Bookkeeping is an essential part of the business of writing, especially identifying and tracking expenses. Business expenses are considered an operating cost.  The more legitimate business expenses that we can document, the lower our tax payments will be.

Ordinary and Necessary Business Expenses for Writers:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that our writing expenses be ordinary and necessary in order for them to be acceptable. An ordinary expense is defined as common and accepted in our profession. A necessary expense means we need to spend this money in order to operate the business. The expenses must not be considered extravagant. They must be an essential part of doing business as a writer. It is important to differentiate between personal expenses and business expenses.  Continue reading “This Business of Writing: Ordinary and Necessary Expenses”

A Visit from Toby Neal: 7 Things I’ve Learned About Writing

novel, crime, mystery, Hawaii, toby nealToday, Dear Readers, I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming published author, psych-therapist and island girl Toby Neal.  More about Toby in just a bit, but first she will share with us some important things she has learned about writing from her own journey.

7 Things I’ve Learned About Writing

  1. Notice everything. The world is filled with sounds, smells, textures, and fabulous stories unfolding all around you. Take the time to notice, and keep something handy to jot down new thoughts/ways to describe that sensory input as it comes to you. Sometimes, when I really let myself experience any given moment in time, I’m overwhelmed by all that’s going on. Life is a series of amazing moments. Continue reading “A Visit from Toby Neal: 7 Things I’ve Learned About Writing”

About This Business of a Writing Business

writing business
iStockphoto image, all rights reserved

I have a friend, a retired aerospace engineer turned artist, who hates bookkeeping.  He sells his art at local art shows, and from his home.  When he makes a sale, the money goes into a steel cash box.  When he buys supplies the money come out of the box.  When he wants to know how much money he has made from his art, he counts the contents of the cash box.  This is elegant in its simplicity, but would be a nightmare should he ever be audited.  Are you a hobby writer or a writing business?   Continue reading “About This Business of a Writing Business”

Star Trek Economics – A Lesson in World Building

Promo photo found on Wikipedia

This morning my wife, Marie, and I were talking economics over breakfast.  This was not the stereotypical husband/wife economics discussion, which usually seems to be about how high the bills are and which one of them is going to sell a kidney to pay those bills.  No, we were actually talking “economics” when out of the blue Marie asks, “And what about those people on Star Trek: they never get paychecks, never pay bills, never have to buy stuff, never get fired.  How do they do that?”

The remainder of this post is a distillation of our discussion of that topic, and it seems relevant to this blog because it is a valuable lesson in world building.   Continue reading “Star Trek Economics – A Lesson in World Building”


Ken Consaul is, like many writers, a man of diverse backgrounds.  He has been a custom home builder, general contractor, cabinet shop owner, restorer of classic cars, waterbed salesman, loan officer, and several less savory vocations we will not discuss. He is a painter and writer and makes reproduction antique furniture as a hobby.  He blogs on occasion at bonnershouse.com
Ken Consaul is the author of Bonner’s Road West, a family saga about two young people, their fortunes joined by the tragedy of a cholera outbreak.  Together they decide to continue on to Oregon with another party of emigrants.  They marry and, at Fort Laramie in Wyoming, hear tales of the discovery of gold in California.  They split from their party and form another, determined to make their fortune in the new territory. Serialized into five segments, Bonner’s Road West is available at Amazon.


It’s the middle of the night when inspiration jolts you awake.  What a great idea for a new writing project, you say.  Leaping from bed, you start writing down ideas so you don’t fall asleep and then forget everything by morning (BTDT).  The words line up effortlessly.  The sentences are concise, clever, and lead effortlessly to the next gem.  Finally, with notes appended for future scenes, the muse departs and you return to a self-satisfied rest.   Continue reading “AVOID LITEARY PRATFALLS”

Whence Blows the Wind?

Photo by Allan Douglas

As the orange orb of the sun slid down behind English mountain, splashing the sky with rose, vermillion and mauve, the day’s heat began to wane.  The air started to move; a cool caress of their faces as they sat in their rockers on the porch before it drifted off to play among the trees.  The rustling leaves were like soft music.

The breeze wafted first from the south, then paused, and resumed again from the northwest, paused and swung back again as though it were playing a game.  “I wonder what makes the wind change like that.” She sighed.   Continue reading “Whence Blows the Wind?”

Steampunk – What It Is, What it’s Not

I have been a fan of Science Fiction since I was old enough to pick up a book and read it for myself.  Normally I prefer hard science Sci-Fi to any form of fantasy.  However I have been captivated by the old Wild, Wild West television show and movies such as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and books like Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and From the Earth to the Moon, H.G. Wells’s First Men in the Moon and The Time Machine.  All of these combine a Victorian environment with high-tech achievement but without high technology.  Confused?  So was I when I first heart the term “Steampunk”.

The ‘punk’ part misguided my brain onto thinking it was some urban-new wave sort of stuff and I paid it no mind.  But as the term was bandied around more, I became curious, and found that it is in fact that odd, red-headed  stepchild of Sci-Fi with which I was so fascinated.  But I still was not clear on what the rules were; where are the boundaries.  Then I came across this PBS mini-documentary that cleared it up nicely.  If you are less than certain, I hope it will do the same for you.

Continue reading “Steampunk – What It Is, What it’s Not”

Watch What You Say…

I suppose these days, what with people sitting around in restaurants and wandering through stores talking loudly on their cell phones about Aunt Geraldine’s latest visit to the gynecologist or Cousin Sam’s messy divorce, people probably just tune out everyone else when in a public place.  Except me, I have a hard time ignoring loud talk and find it quite rude to be exposing everyone within 50 feet of you to the intimate details of your life.

However, I too was caught up in a similar situation once.  It was long ago, I was collaborating with a woman named Ann on a murder mystery novel.  This one day it turned out to be more convenient for us to meet at a restaurant for lunch and discussion of our progress.

It was getting noisy, as the place filled up and we found ourselves having to talk louder to hear while we discussed various plot twists and character attributes.  One particularly tricky bit finally flashed into inspirational focus for Ann and in her excitement she fairly shouted, “…and we could have the gardener kill Mr. Murdle and throw the body down the old well!”

We noticed immediately that the place was unusually quiet.  Looking around, all eyes were glued to us in shocked amazement.  Some were thinking about calling the police: we could see it in their eyes.

“It’s OK; we’re writers,” I explained, “we’re working on a book.”

Most of them gave us an “Oooohhh, I see” sort of look and went back to their meals.  A few, however, kept casting sidelong glances at us and seemed to be trying to listen in.

That was the only time we met at a restaurant to discuss our work!

Saturday Fun Stuff – Farewell to Cyborg Wars

At this point, the “story” falls back into a set of notes.  This section is fairly coherent, so I will post it as the final offering.  Beyond this point, the file is just a collection of events and ideas, so with this I will wave farewell to this project. If you’ve just stumbled in, you might want to Start at the Beginning

The alarm went out across the quadrant and every ship carrying any type of weapon was sent out to fire upon any Cyborg ship it found. Borga was sterilized, enhancing the stun effect on the remaining Cyborg. In their dormant state, the Cyborg ships were fairly easily destroyed. And many were. But no one knows how many regained sentience and escaped to hide among the stars.  Continue reading “Saturday Fun Stuff – Farewell to Cyborg Wars”