Death of a Doxy

I would like to introduce my guest today, author Chris Longmuir, of Montrose, Scotland.

What a challenge my author/friend, Chris Longmuir, has undertaken. Her latest series of crime novels features Kirsty Campbell, a policewoman in Scotland during and after WWI.

Death of a Doxy is dedicated to the memory of Jean Forsyth Thomson, Dundee’s first policewoman. The fictional Kirsty Campbell goes through much of the lack of acceptance and the condescension that Ms. Thomson did in real life. In Death of a Doxy, Kirsty Campbell does her best to be taken seriously as a competent policewoman, but it is an uphill struggle against the nearly all-male staff. She is keen to prove herself and solve the crime when a local prostitute is murdered.

We sympathize with Kirsty as she faces obstacles typical of the ones that plagued women in the work force nearly 100 years ago. Many of the townspeople thought a woman had no place in the police force. She should be at home minding the children and keeping the house for her husband.

In  Death of a Doxy, a prostitute is killed in the city of Dundee. Ms. Longmuir must keep her characters, the setting, and the events true to post WWI times. Attitudes were different in 1919. Clothing was of a different style. Some postwar food shortages still existed. Many inventions we take for granted today, were not even thought of yet. The author had a huge challenge not to slip up and mention something in her novel that was yet to be invented.

Ms. Longmuir’s writing is convincing as she transports us back to those post WWI days, showing us the frustration Kirsty (and working women of her time) endured.

The closer Kirsty comes to tracking down the killer, the more she puts her own life in danger.

The author keeps the tension rising as she guides us through the investigation.

I felt as if I were watching a movie that kept me well entertained.

About Chris Longmuir

Chris Longmuir is an award winning novelist who has published three novels in her Dundee Crime Series. Night Watcher, the first book in the series, won the Scottish Association of Writers’ Pitlochry Award, and the sequel, Dead Wood, won the Dundee International Book Prize, as well as the Pitlochry Award. Missing Believed Dead is the third book in the series.

Chris also publishes a historical crime series, The Kirsty Campbell Mysteries, set during and just after the Great War. This series features Kirsty Campbell, one of Britain’s first policewomen. There are currently three books in this series; The Death Game, Devil’s Porridge, and Death of a Doxy.

Her crime novels are set in Dundee, Scotland, and have been described as scary, atmospheric, page turners. Chris also writes historical sagas, short stories and historical articles which have been published in America and Britain. Writing is like an addiction to me, Chris says, I go into withdrawals without it.

To find out more about Chris Longmuir and her books, visit her blogsite and her website:

http://chrislongmuir.blogspot.ca

https://www.chrislongmuir.co.uk/

 

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Moleskine or Moleskin?

Today I’ve just discovered what most people probably have known for years; that the Moleskine notebook is not named after the hide of a little mouse-like creature. I used to think that the Moleskine notebook was perhaps originally made with a soft, fuzzy cover that resembled the fur of a tiny mole and that the name had stuck and future notebooks were named in honour of these little creatures with soft hides.

Every serious writer should have a little notebook (a Moleskine) with him at all times, as you never know when a fantastic idea will pop into your head and you know you’ll forget it if you don’t write it down immediately.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that Moleskine is the company co-founded by Maria Sebregondi in Milan, Italy, in 1997. Ms. Sebregondi approached the Modo & Modo Company to produce the notebooks styled after those produced in Paris in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Writers love them because the acid-free pages are stitched rather than glued so they lie flat, and the elastic holds the book closed when not in use.

Below is the mole (whose species was not used to make the famous notebooks). Perhaps I was the only one who thought the notebooks were named for the soft feel of this little animal’s fur. I feel a bit foolish for even thinking that now.

Get your notebook from the “Moleskine” Company and don’t even think of skinning me for a “moleskin” notebook.

I did find out that moleskin is the name of a heavy cotton fabric used to make clothing, especially trousers. The German army used it for making their uniforms from the 1960s to the 1990s.

And have you ever had a blister on your foot? You may have put a strip of “moleskin” on it. The fuzzy material can have an adhesive backing to stick on your foot like a Band-Aid, but there is a hole cut out so it doesn’t rub on the blister, and the thick soft moleskin around it prevents further chafing of the blister.

I will no longer think of little mice and shrews and moles when I scribble my all-important author’s notes in my Moleskin notebook.

Trouble Times Four

Over the years I have found that having a gimmick to remember things works well for me. I’d like to share some of them to help you choose the right form of these four sets of words that cause many people grief. 

  1. their, they’re, there
  2. your, you’re
  3. its, it’s
  4. lets, let’s

First the three kinds of their/there/they’re.

They’re = they are. We use they’re when we mean the short way of saying “they are.”

They’re my best friends.

They’re is correct because you could say, “They are” in place of they’re.”

***

Their = owning something

That is their new red car.

This word is often misspelled, so remember that it has the word the at the beginning (THEir).

***

There = Not here, but over there, farther away. The word “there” has “here” in it.

If you think of it as “not here,” you will always remember how to spell there and which one is the correct form of “there/they’re/their.

There is a plant in the pot.

The plant is over there, in the pot.

***

You’re = you are

You’re the one for me. Use you’re if you can replace the word with you are.

***

Your = ownership. Think of our (belongs to us), and so your (which has “our” in it) belongs to you.

Your mother loves you.

***

It’s = it is

If you can replace it’s with it is, then you have the correct form of its/it’s.

It’s a beautiful day.

***

Its – belonging to “it”

The car stood with its door open. (The door belongs to the car.)

***

Let’s = let us (the apostrophe takes the place of the letter “u.”

Let’s go to the dance.

***

Lets – allows

I’ll come if my mom lets me.

***

Let’s hope that this post helps make life easier for you and lets you write with more confidence.

It’s easy to see its benefits once you start using the correct words.

You’re going to feel your confidence boosted.

Your friends over there will be proud to know that they’re going to have a good writer as their friend.

How We Speak

How we speak tells our listeners a lot about us. We don’t need to sound like Wikipedia, but if we sound as if we are uneducated others tend to judge us accordingly.

I find it annoying when a person has purposely taken up the habit of using bad grammar. This usually affects how the person  is perceived  by others, and makes a negative impression.  I see  little advantage to this, unless the poor speaker is desperate to be “one of the boys” (or girls). Perhaps I’m misjudging the reason for that kind of speech, but in some cases I have seen and heard, this seems to fit.

The kind of language I’m talking about is not so much the sentences with the *F* word thrown in  before every noun and verb in the sentence, but rather something more common — using the wrong tense of see, come, say, go, and several other verbs.

Also notice the insecure use of “this” instead of “a” or “the,” with the sentences going higher in pitch at the end so they sound like a question.

Here is an example of a conversation with the errors marked in red:

Me and my buddy seen this ad in the paper? We rented an upstairs room in this boarding house? The first day I gets up early because I hears this noise downstairs? I come down the stairs in a hurry and I seen this guy? He’s leaving the house with this black bag in his hand?

I would’ve went after him, but I never seen which way he went. So I says to my buddy, “Hey buddy! I just seen this burglar take off with this black bag.”

“Oh, that’s just the guy that’s renting the downstairs room. Probably going to school. I think he’s in college.”

“Hmpf! Good thing we got our jobs. We don’t need no grammar lessons. I could’ve went  to college  but I seen the Help Wanted sign. Don’t need no grammar.”

“But your job is to be a reporter. You need good English for that.”

“Naaahhh! I’ll just get Anneli to copy-edit my work for me.”

*****

Have you heard people speaking like this? Why do you think they do it, when they know it’s not good English?

Three Sets of Troublesome Words

 

penProbably everyone who ever wrote anything has some words they find troublesome. Here are a few that many people struggle with.

  1.  passed or past

Passed is used when you mean the past tense of the verb to pass (go by, or beyond something).

Past refers to a time that has gone by.

Examples:

I passed a car that was traveling too slowly on the highway.

My great-grandmother passed away when I was a baby (in the past).

She passed (handed out) the exams papers to the students. We all hoped we had passed the exam (passed  beyond the required grade).

Neither of us wanted to talk about our past (time gone by).

It was already past the hour (the time) when we usually went to sleep. We hadn’t realized how quickly the time had passed (gone by).

It does get tricky. You can be in a car that has passed a bicycle. That means you have gone past the bicycle. Yikes!!! Hang in there. It does make sense. Your car did the action of passing the bicycle and you went past the bicycle (to a point beyond it).

That was a tricky one. The next ones should be easier.

2. advice or advise, and

3. affect or effect

Advice is the noun and advise is the verb. I will also add the use of affect (a verb) and effect (usually a noun, but can be used as a verb).

Examples:

Long ago when the Captain and I were in a pub and a couple at the next table invited us to play shuffleboard with them, I said I had never played it before. The man came over to me, draped his arm over my shoulder and placed his hand on the back of my hand as I held one of the “pucks,” meaning to guide my hand as I slid the puck.

“Let me give you some advice (noun),” he said.

At this point the captain came over and said to the man, “I advise (verb) you to take your hands off her.”

This had the desired effect (noun) and the man moved away. How did this affect (verb) the rest of the game? Not at all. If you want to effect (here it is a verb) change, sometimes you have to speak up to get the effect (noun) you want. It need not affect (verb) the mood in the room at all.

Whew! That was hard work. I think I need to go LIE (not LAY) down.

 

 

 

 

Lay or Lie

pen

Do you have trouble knowing the correct form of lay or lie to use in your writing?

Why not copy and paste this chart? Print it out either with your printer or by hand, onto a piece of paper that you can keep handy by your desk for a quick reference.

A quick version of how “lie” and “lay” are used with the pronoun “I.”

To Lie (down)

I lie (present)

I lay (preterite)

I have lain (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

 

To Lay (to set an object down)

I lay (present)

I laid (preterite)

I have laid (present perfect)

I am laying (present continuous)

 

To Lie (tell an untruth)

I lie (present)

I lied (preterite)

I have lied (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

For more about lay and lie, you can check out my post from a year ago:

https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/lie-lady-lie/

Good work! Now have a cookie.

cinnamon stars

 

Clauses other than Santa

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An independent clause is a group of words with a noun or pronoun as a subject and a verb as a predicate. We have been calling it a sentence. When two clauses are put together and linked, they become a compound sentence (basically, two sentences in one).

Eg.

The bell rang to end the last session.

We left the school.

The bell rang to end the last session, and we left the school.

Each clause could stand independently.

We also have subordinate clauses. They do not stand independently. They still have a subject and a predicate, but because they start with words such as when,  which, that, and as, they are dependent (or subordinate) to another clause.

Here are examples of subordinate clauses and independent clauses. You’ll see that the blue ones could stand alone.

As we climbed higher up the mountain, the weather became worse.

When my dog sees a cat, she wants to chase it.

She called for help which was the sensible thing to do.

We also have clauses which act as other parts of speech. Some groups of words act as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.

Here are some examples where noun clauses act as:

a subject: That I am old is easy to see.

a direct object: Emma knows which bowl is hers.

a predicate noun: The answer is whatever you want it to be.

Adjectival clauses:

That is the dish that ran off with the spoon.

Adverbial clauses:

The show ended when the rain began to pour onto the stage.

I suppose you could call these other little clauses Santa’s Helpers. He’s the big Claus and these are all the little clauses.