Monday, August 26, 2013

You Say Tomato...

Hello, all! Thank you for the lovely supportive comments on last week's blog post!

It's a Bank Holiday Monday here, the 'hood is alive with the sounds (and rubbish) of Notting Hill Carnival, and I'm on my way out the door. So I'm pleased to hand over the blog to the wonderful Laura Pepper Wu today. Take it away, Laura!

You say tomato, I say tomato. You say eggplant, I say WTH?!

 As a Brit living in Seattle, I love reading Talli’s blog and hearing all about the happenings “back home”, and of course her perspective on them as a Canadian in the UK!

When you move to a country other than the one you grew up in, you expect culture and language differences to hit you almost immediately. And they do; I say rocket, you say arugula, I say duvet you say comforter, and so on.

There are plenty of subtle things that creep up on you only as time goes by however. The longer I’m here in the US, the more I realise that there are a myriad of social and cultural differences that are harder to spot. Though we speak a common language, the US and UK have different ways of socialising, making friends, interacting, humour, and what’s ok - and what’s not ok to talk about or do can be contrasting, too.

It takes some analysis to understand why a conversation bombed, why you felt totally misunderstood, or why you were left feeling as though you just did something utterly inappropriate and awkward! But it’s all part of the fun of traveling or living overseas, right? Entering my fourth year living in North America, here are the language differences that I’ve come to understand of late!

The British use of negatives to describe something positive

-       The other day the nice man at the smoothie bar asked me how my day was going - in typical West Coast friendliness – and I replied cheerfully “Not bad, thanks!” This was met with lots of laughter. As he filtered strawberries and banana into the blender, he periodically threw his head back to giggle, saying under his breath, “not bad, not bad!” I felt a little flummoxed by this until I read recently that Brits are infamous for using a negative to describe something positive. Case in point: That Talli is awfully nice, isn’t she?

Calling me out

-       A few years ago, I asked a new acquaintance “What is your son called?” She asked me to repeat the question several times, and then looked a little peeved as she responded, with a wee bit of attitude, “you mean his name?”

I sort of forgot about this incident until a couple of weeks ago when a friend asked me where I had just come from. “Oh I was just having coffee with this woman called Liz…” I started. “What did you just say?!” she laughed, going on to explain that in US English, using the term “to call someone” is pretty rude. Rather, Americans might say  “I was having coffee with this woman named Liz…” I cannot tell you how many times I must have said or written this over the last few years. Holy shitake.

What’s in a name?

-       In the UK, you could have a lengthy conversation with a strange in a pub, or sit next to someone on a train or plane for hours without ever exchanging names. You might know the man down the street as ‘the bloke with the red car’, even though you say hi to him every morning!

In the US, names seem to be much more important – people often introduce themselves as soon as you meet them, even if you’re likely only to be talking for a few minutes and may never see them again. It’s just not that important to us Brits to be so name-aware – or at least we have a different sense of privacy than in the US where greetings are often accompanied by revealing your identity.

I know that readers of Talli’s blog are from the US, Canada, UK, Oz… and we speak all kinds of le English! I’d love to hear your stories about times you felt completely awkward or embarrassed when using a kind of English that wasn’t familiar to the other person… and the consequences of course! Leave a comment J

Laura Pepper Wu is Editor at The Write Life Magazine. She grew up in the UK before spending 3.5 years in Japan, and the last 3.5 years in the US. She loves culture, travel, and exploring Seattle’s best coffee shops! Find out more about her and the lifestyle magazine for writers – The Write Life Magazine – at The digital magazine is available for free download from the App Store now.  Say hi on Twitter @LauraPepWu!

Thank you, Laura. Have a great week, all!

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's a Bit of a Struggle

I'll be honest here. Writing a novel while caring for a baby? It's a bit of a struggle. I love Baby TR with every cell in me, and I can't imagine life without him now. But looking back PBTR (pre-Baby-TR), I honestly had no idea how much time I had. I want to bellow at the old me now: Enjoy it! Lie on the sofa! Savour the silence! Take that nap! Because you'll never, ever be able to fully relax again! I am constantly twitching at each and every little noise, thinking it's the baby crying.

While I do manage to get the odd uninterrupted nap (I only write while he's napping), more often than not, I'll just be getting into a scene when he lets out a wail. I'll tip-toe in, settle him, creep back out and sit down at the desk . . . and another wail erupts.

No-one is forcing me to write while my baby is still young. But writing is a part of me -- I need to do it. I can't imagine not having a story playing out in my mind; not having that creative outlet. It's a piece of me I can't (and don't want to!) let go, no matter how hard it may be.

On the positive side, though, Baby TR has forced me to be extremely disciplined about sitting down at the desk. When I know I only have a limited window, suddenly it's not so hard to turn off Twitter and write like the wind, even if I'd much prefer to a. take a nap!; b. lie on the sofa and savour the (occasional) silence; or c. drink a freakin' HUGE glass of wine.

Writing a novel is hard work. Taking care of a baby is hard work. The two of them together? Well . . .  Where's that wine?

(And if you tell me to cherish these moments, I will virtually slap you with a very wet nappy.) 

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Will Never Be One of Those Writers

Happy Monday, all! Hope you had a glorious weekend.

As I tear my hair out over the second draft of The No-Kids Club - which I thought I'd finished and got everything spot on... so not the case!), I have finally come to terms with the fact that I will never be one of those writers. You know, the ones who have everything planned out on neat little PostIts or glossy whiteboards -- and who somehow manage to stick to it.

How? How do they do it? (Can you hear me howl?) Because no matter how many times I vow I've got it right, and that this is the time I've got everything sorted beforehand, inevitably once I've started drafting I'll take a look at my meticulous plot and think: naaahhhhhh. And then blithely go on my merry writing way.

I've written oven ten novels now -- not many by some standards but not a paltry sum, either -- and I have finally made peace with my writing process. The only way my writerly mind makes sense of things is by writing, rewriting, rewriting the rewrites, and rewriting some more. Sigh!

But as frustrating as that may seem sometimes, it's part of the fun, too. You never know what road you'll go down, what new characters might come up, or what the finished product will resemble (hopefully not a pile of poo).

So here's to never being one of those writers!

What kind of writer are you?

Monday, August 05, 2013

Party Like It's... 2013

Hello, all!

I'm a little late posting today due to some earlier high jinx, but it's wine o'clock, Baby TR's in bed, my writing for the day is finished, and a takeaway is simmering in the oven. Ahhhhhhhhh.

Today, I'm delighted to be hosting Janice Horton, writer and partier extraordinaire.

Take it away, Janice!

How To Party Online 

Social media applications are perfect forums for parties – the venue capacity is infinite, the guest list can be global, and all the fun and games can lead to bestselling success!

One of my top tips for creating online fun is to think carefully about the party date. Consider factors that might affect your guest’s attendance. If it’s a school holiday, for instance, will that be a negative or a plus for your party? Red letter days like Halloween and Valentine’s Day might tie in nicely with your theme, but be aware that lots of other online party peeps might have the same thought and therefore it might be harder for you to get noticed. 

In the same regard, public holidays like May Day and Easter Weekend might take people away from home or away from their social media networks. Essentially, once you have chosen your party day, work backwards on a timeline to make sure you can fit in all the planning.

I decided to write ‘How To Party Online’ after hosting several successful online parties and then being contacted by party peeps who wanted to know how I went about organising them. The result was ‘How To Party Online’: a guide that aims to help you to find fun and success while you party online!

“Social media marketing could be her specialist subject on Mastermind.” DG Life Magazine

 How To Party Online is available exclusively for Kindle on Amazon UK and

About the author: Janice Horton escaped a city-chic lifestyle and a career in corporate brand placement to live in a remote cottage on the side of a hillside in Scotland. Previously traditionally published and now writing as an Indie, Janice writes fiction with humour and heart and a hint of tartan. When not writing novels, Janice writes lifestyle articles and has had work published in national and international magazines. She has also been involved in BBC Scotland's 'Write Here Write Now' incentive. Janice is a regular blogger and you'll often find her partying on Facebook and Twitter.

Janice’s BlogFollow her on Twitter: @JaniceHortonLike her Facebook PageLink to her Amazon Author PageCheck out her GoodreadsFeatured Author & Associate Editor at:

Thank you, Janice!

Have a lovely week, everyone. See you next Monday!