Cherry Saturday, November 2, 2017

Today is Book Lovers Day, which is sort of pointless here since we do that every Thursday.  It’s also National Novel Writing Month, which I try to do every day to keep the lights on and the dog cookie tin filled.   So let’s go with World Numbat Day because the numbat’s numbers are decreasing.  Let’s get those numbat numbers up, people.  We have a species to save.  Here are a number of numbats (never gonna get tired of that):

Or if you are numb to the numbat problem, we can talk about Nano.  Anything, really.  It’s Cherry Saturday.

45 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, November 2, 2017

  1. Welp, while I’m waiting for my kindle to charge up I googled numbats, the poor things. They’re main diet is termites which incidentally isn’t a bad thing. Native to Western Australia.
    There must have been a glitch in the system today because I lost you this morning and me being me thought it was something I wrote. But it is all good now. I haven’t finished one book I’ve started so today I’ve begun a new series hopefully I’ll enjoy it. The title is The Lawyer by John Ellsworth. Probably on the idea of a John Grisham book. So far I’m hanging in.

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    1. Sunday into Monday of this week we lost power due to a storm and I didn’t plug my kindle in overnight and woke up to no power all day. My husband brought up the camp stove so we could have coffee or tea and then got the generator operating to keep the refrigerator going. Then went to my supply of paperbacks, there okay during the day but not so much with candle light. I’m so spoiled now with my kindle.

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      1. Battery packs. You can charge your devices from them and they’re not horrendously expensive. Well worth it if you live in a place where the power goes out (which at this point is everywhere).

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    2. I have no idea what happened. Mollie said this time it was a domain issue, not a host issue, but still, ARGH.

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  2. Oh, those numbats are adorable! Not that creatures should have to be adorable to warrant being saved. But still: cute!

    I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year. I work best with firm deadlines, so it helps me stay focused and on track. I can really use that this year. Too much other stuff going on that could easily derail me. And I’m being a NaNo rebel this year, revising instead of writing something new because that’s where I happen to be at the moment. Finally, in my guise as a librarian, I’m hosting a NaNo write-in event this afternoon at my library. So I get to spend 3 hours today working AND writing. Yay!

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  3. I never new numbats nexisted. Neither did my predictive text, changing it to number.

    Brain picking time, I need to write a dissertation next year. I want it to be interesting and readable. I am so good with vocabulistics (thank you, Rocket Racoon) and over at Betties, Lani once told me that I have a graceful writing style.

    I want to do a readable, engaging narrative so the examiners will give me top marks/scores/grades.

    Does anyone have *free* online courses to recommend? Or books to read and exercises to do to get me to bring a better writer by January when I start typing literature review?

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    1. Well, speaking as an editor, my best advice to authors is to write as if you’re talking to an interested person, who’s intelligent but unfamiliar with your subject. So you could pretend you’re telling any of us, for example. When I’m editing, I’m always trying to cut anything that obscures the natural rhythm of the language, as well of course as sorting out anything that obscures the meaning/message. I think you’d be best served by getting into the writing habit, if you’re not in it already – for example, by journalling.

      Good luck!

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    2. What Jane said.

      Write it out as if you were explaining it to somebody who’s as intelligent as you are, but doesn’t know the jargon and the complexities of what you’re writing about.

      Have a logical progression and restate the important points using different words and phrases. Looking at the piece as a whole, think of the Old Preacher’s formula: Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, tell ’em what you told them, just do it so they don’t realize you’re repeating yourself.

      There’s also the basic five paragraph theme structure which can be five sentences or a hundred paragraphs but which boils down to:
      1. State your argument in the first sentence/paragraph/chapter/whatever clearly and succinctly.
      2. Figure out three (or more) reasons why your argument is true/the best answer/whatever WITH CONCRETE EXAMPLES. People will remember narrative/story much better than they’ll remember abstract concepts.
      3. Organize those reasons from weakest to strongest (you always want to end on your strongest argument).
      4. Sum everything up in the final sentence/paragraph/chapter using different words from the beginning and drawing on your three/whatever number reasons (or Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, tell ’em what you told them.)

      The repetition of ideas is because people do not memorize what they’re reading unless they have to take a test on it later. So you tell them what the paper/whatever is about so you’ve got a contract with the reader, then you explain why your thesis is legit, correct and compelling by demonstrating it with concrete examples, and then you sum it up memorably.

      The part they’re most likely to remember? The last sentence.

      I taught college comp for a LONG time.

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    3. Don’t have any tips on on-line courses or books to read for preparing to do your dissertation, but as someone who lived through writing a dissertation (and got “magna cum laude” on it, so proud of myself still, haha), I can tell you a couple of things.

      First, the advice that Jane B and Jenny gave was excellent. (As expected!)

      To that I would add that a dissertation is, to a certain extent, a “sales pitch” of your original work and conclusions, in that you are trying to convince the reader of the validity of your conclusions, as well as their value to the body of knowledge, i.e., where everything fits in / modifies / enriches the field. You want to write convincingly, but, remember, you are supposed to be writing for intellectuals, and a certain language niveau is expected. Not quite sure what you meant by “readable and engaging” because you do want to be taken seriously. Smooth, flowing text, clear and unambiguous explanations, and convincing, well-founded concept development and presentation are the goals (which I am sure you will reach).

      One really odd (to me), but unexpectedly positive reaction I got from all of the members of my doctoral committee was that I had, for each chapter, a couple of very focused quotations applicable to the material in the chapter. They ranged from Pliny the Elder to Bertrand Russell to Lewis Carroll to Shakespeare to Dick Francis (yes, the mystery writer) to Terry Prachett (his “million to one chances crop up nine times out of ten” from Mort was one of the quotes on the chapter discussing quantifying linguistic uncertainty) to Donald Rumsfeld (which made me want to gag, but his “unknown unknowns” was pertinent to my topic of manifestations of uncertainty in natural language), and the whole dissertation started out with an excerpt from BBC’s “Yes, Prime Minister” (“The Grand Design” — in which you find the bizarre sentence “Yes, but even though they probably certainly know that you probably wouldn’t, they don’t certainly know that, although you probably wouldn’t, there is no probability that you certainly would!”), so I started off on a light (albeit confusin) note.

      For whatever reason, EVERY DAMNED ONE of my committee members was totally impressed with this. Go figure. It was probably one of the least “intellectual” parts — except they all thought I had provided a “context” for each chapter, even the more controversial ones, by the careful selection of applicable quotes.

      Not sure if this is a tip, per se, but it might suit your work as well. I scoured some quotation sites, but also found some stuff in papers I was reading, and, in the case of the Dick Francis quote, it was pure serendipity ’cause I was reading something light to get my mind off the dissertation (smile).

      Anyway, the only real tip I can give you is “don’t give up” — it’s damned hard work! But worth it in the end!

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      1. OMGoddess. Now I want to read your dissertation. I’m on track for Cum Laude through coursework. Just need to work smarter now.

        I don’t want to use academic language only. Or have ornate vocabulary. I want the people who I interview to be able to read it as if we were speaking to each other.

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        1. I love how you want to do it, but would just say – echoing GCB – that academics ALWAYS prioritize impressing their fellow academics over communicating clearly to non-specialists. They love displaying their knowledge of jargon and difficult vocabulary. It drives me nuts, since the books I’m editing are supposed to be for the general reader. But given that you’re writing your dissertation to impress such people, I’d think seriously about showing off and even being pretentious rather than accessible. Go for being readable once you’re got your degree!

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          1. I did my general exams for the PhD, and the one person on my committee who’d never had me in class asked the others if they could pass me on the papers because I’d written them colloquially. The others said, “Yes,” emphatically and she was okay with the content, just not the style, so she passed me, too. It was an interesting couple of hours with the orals on those.

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          2. I suggest you reread Strunk and White. Clarity and making every word count is invaluable. No uncertain antecedents. Ask someone what your personal writing tics are and then use search to find and remove them. Get a smart person who is not in the field to read it and mark wherever it is unclear . Using technical language is fine but jargon is different. Personally I would also get rid of the passive voice although it’s beloved of academics. I think the passive voice is an evasion of responsibility.

            And then see what your advisor says since he or she should know what the readers prefer…

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          3. A little extra chime-in on the subject of style books. I’ve always loved Steven Pinker’s writing, even when it annoyed me, so it’s no surprise that I love his stylebook, The Sense of Style. He advocates for academic writing that is clear, fresh and engaging. (-: He may be too cutting edge for your faculty, if they are the types who cling to jargon and fustification. But maybe you know by now what flies and what crashes to the ground and burns as far as paper-writing goes in your department.

            YMMV; his style is mostly North American, and if you are writing for people in South Africa, you may need something a little more on the Oxford side of the scale. Still, I found it a clear, fresh and engaging read! (I’m a bit haphazard in the application, LOL, so y’all, please don’t judge the book by my writing!)

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          4. Looking back over my dissertation, I don’t think I ever actually used “difficult vocabulary” (i.e., “fancy words”) in place of more straightforward, “business-like” ones. I kept the tone expository and clear (e.g., no superfluous adjectives, avoided flowery prose) although with the occasional touch of lightness. For example, I had a chapter subsection titled “Hedges, boosters, downtoners and other creatures” — and, when looking at various definitions of “hedge” (in the linguistic sense), I wrote that Merriam-Webster defined the word “with a slightly ominous twist”… And, as I mentioned above, the quotations at the beginning of the chapters were sometimes humorous. For example, one chapter is devoting to the explanation of why I selected a specific term for use (there are three that various linguists favor, but no common agreement or understanding — indeed, often contradiction). So I used the HumptyDumpty scene from Through the Looking Glass:

            “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
            “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things”
            “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that is all.”

            That set the stage for my selecting the “master” term that I used through the rest of the work.

            The second quote I had on that chapter was from Shakepeare:

            “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

            This sent the message that, whether others agreed with my selection of the specific term, it did not change the concept itself I was discussing (i.e., nothing to be gained in arguing over my choice of name).

            I would say that people who know me would say I used my own voice throughout it. I think that’s important.

            (BTW, if you really want to have a look at my dissertation, google the subsection title I gave above and you will get the link to it at the University of Bonn where it’s published electronically. )

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          5. Oh, yeah, I wanted to respond to Debbie’s comment about passive voice being “an evasion of responsibility” with a small anecdote.

            She’s quite right: academics/researchers do in fact use it as a distancing mechanism (even if they are not aware of it) because, well, the sun used to revolve around the Earth, until we learned more. Passive voice means “but I might be wrong” — the academic version of YMMV (“your mileage may vary”).

            I discussed this in a lecture I did a couple of years back and an Italian colleague said, huh, that’s weird. I always thought the use of passive voice in English was STRONGER than active and that’s why it’s used by scientists. Interesting twist, I find.

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  4. I’ve wanted to visit Western Australia for the wild flowers for years; here’s another good reason. (Not that I’m probably going to get there; I’ve got a long list of places I’d love to visit for the wild flowers, and there are plenty closer to home.)

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  5. I will go with the Book Lovers Day. Numbats are cute, true, but I don’t like rodents. Especially now, when one of them set house in my apartment. Even after a guy from pest control came in and did his job, I hear it sometimes. The darn mouse. Books are much better.

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    1. Watch out in case it turns out to be a book lover, too. I had mice in a cottage I was renting years ago, and they started eating the manuscript I was editing. I didn’t think the publisher would buy ‘The mouse ate my homework’.

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    2. Olga, they aren’t rodents, they’re marsupials. And I’ve never heard of them living in someone’s house – there just isn’t enough food available for them, as they eat termites not people food.

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  6. Jennifer, are you still writing novels? Please say yes! Also, thank you for highlighting the numbat, so many species need help these days, the little guys get overlooked.

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      1. I am so glad to hear that you are working on a book now. I have read all of yours, most of them more than once, so now I have something to look forward too!

        Do authors make less from sales of ebooks than of printed book sales?

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        1. Tricky question.
          We make a percentage of the purchase price. So we make the most from each hardcover, but we don’t sell that many hardcovers. We sell a lot more ebooks, so overall we make more from that edition even though we make less per book because the purchase price is lower. Same with paperbacks. So it depends. Really, we’re thrilled anybody is reading the story in any form.

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  7. Those numbats are adorable. I’d still rather have a book. I was rearranging my (overloaded) shelves and realized that I had enough Jennifer Cruise and Lani Diane Rich books together to take up one whole shelf unit.

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  8. Ooh ooh, we’re visiting Western Australia (Perth to Albany) next year about this time. Now, in addition to gorgeous heritage roses, I shall have to look sharp for the numbats. Perhaps they’re not gorgeous, but they are cute.

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      1. Numbats! Quokkas! Gilbert’s potoroos! Never heard of them before, so I can really justify surfing the net and visiting the Argh Ink blog instead of going to bed early because I’ve learned something new.

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  9. What cute little guys those numbats are! Thanks for the introduction. I’ll send good thoughts for their increased fertility.

    I’m doing NaNo this year, and I do admit, I am writing more good stuff. But, it’s drowned in a mess of really bad stuff (because word counts), and I feel really discouraged and depressed. I just wrote my first fake orgasm scene. I didn’t want the story to go there, but there it went. I keep telling myself it’s just NaNo, and that I can strike-through it all and go back to the happy time before the fake orgasm and start anew. But . . . I have a feeling the scene is there for a reason, and not only that, I’m going to have to re-write the damn thing multiple times before I get it right.

    Ah well. Anyway, it’s done. Maybe tomorrow will be more fun.

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  10. Thanks k you for your help. I’m going to print this out and stick it in my research note book. I have an A4 hardcover of 198 pages and aim to make a good sent in it this December hols.

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  11. Numbats are so cute! I had never heard of them before; thanks for posting this.

    Despite how cute Numbats are, I am going with Book Lovers Day. I just finished listening to Faking It and am still laughing from the final scene with Clea, Mason, Rabbit, Davy, Tilda, and Gwen. For some reason, this hit my funny bone even more than when I last read/listened to it. (I also wanted a refresher on Tilda’s ancestor who is referenced in your new book 😉)

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  12. Aaahhhhhh these numbats are so adorable~~ !

    I’m not doing NaNo this year because I need to focus on grad school applications *flails* but I am definitely cheering on everyone who is!

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  13. Thanks for the cuteness & writing advice. I have an annual review every year and there’s a large narrative part that I suck at writing. I’ve thought about doing bulleted lists but I work for an academic institution & they do like their words. So, while I’d be happier with a list, it wouldn’t help get me a raise.

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