A Great Book for Young Soccer Fans

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Birthday

A few days ago my grandson had his ninth birthday. He had previously made a long list of things he would like for his birthday. This sure helps old grandfathers like me in the selection process. I am usually quite hopeless in choosing appropriate gifts for family members.

Birthday list

One of the items on his list included books in the Tiny Timmy series written by Australian soccer star, Tim Cahill and co-written by Julain Gray. My grandson only had Book 1 in a six-book series. I read this book and I was very impressed. It has been many years since I read mostly children’s books. That was when I was a teacher/librarian and a classroom teacher in primary schools.

Tiny Timmy books

The book I read this last week was Tiny Timmy: Soccer Superstar. Being the first in the series, the protagonist Tim is mad keen on becoming a soccer star. He desperately wants to play on the school soccer team. There are just three main problems: he is smaller than his teammates, he is constantly teased by the other players, and the coach doesn’t pick him in the team. Tim is not discouraged, though even his attempts at being the team’s orange boy are disastrous.

Perseverance

Although the authors don’t use the word perseverance, this book shows young, enthusiastic soccer players that hard work, dedication and trying hard to improve will pay off. Little Timmy keeps practising and helping out until he discovers that he has a unique skill the other players do not possess.

Review

I loved this book. It is easy to read. It encourages young people to keep trying. It teaches children to stay focused on what they want to achieve. It is easy to read with appropriate illustrations on every page. The chapters are short and filled with action. I cannot find any information regarding how biographical these books are, and they are listed by the publisher as fiction. It doesn’t matter; they are great little books for anyone aspiring to improve in any endeavour, sporting or otherwise.

Recommendation

I highly recommend this book for readers ages 8 to 10, especially if they are keen to improve in any sport, not just soccer. I was so impressed with the first book in the series that I went and bought books 2 and 3 for my grandson. I think he was impressed.

Reference:

Cahill, Tim and Gray, Julian: Tiny Timmy: Soccer Superstar. Scholastic Australia, Sydney, 2015.

Problems with proofreading

PROOFREADING IS IMPORTANT

I get very annoyed when I read posts on social media which contain simple spelling errors. Don’t these people ever CHECK what they have written? You cannot always rely on your device’s spellchecker.

Okay.

I admit.

I am something of a literary snob. Point taken.

After 35 years of trying to teach children how to write correctly, it is firmly part of my makeup. It annoys me. I want to get out a red pen and draw a firm line through the offending words. Errors on signs in public places such as shops also irk me, as do mistakes in our local newspaper (which always has a few).

I saw a classic example of this over the entrance to a restaurant in Kathmandu, Nepal. It was called “Sweet Memorize”.  I certainly have memorised that sign, and memories of it are always sweet. I should add that I didn’t eat in that restaurant. Goodness knows what they did to their menu – especially if it was translated into English.

Restaurant in Kathmandu, Nepal

Restaurant in Kathmandu, Nepal

I know it is petty of me to talk about this in disparaging terms. Providing there is communication, I guess that is all that counts.

Errors in published books

For publishers to allow errors of spelling in printed books is a totally different matter. I can accept the occasional typo, and even a small spelling mistake. But to allow a totally wrong word to be used is beyond comprehension. Someone in the proofreading department was asleep at the wheel, I think.

I am starting to read more and more eBooks, and some of these have been self-published. This is where the errors are creeping in, and standards are dropping rapidly, often with amusing consequences. I was recently reading a wonderful novel which was spoiled for me by totally missed out words.

It had a completely incorrect word.

Glaring error

I won’t mention the name of the book, or the name of the author. I don’t wish to embarrass them, but this error made me laugh out loud. The angry protagonist was said to “utter a string of obscurities.”

I concede that the words “obscurities” and “obscenities” are close enough to get the spelling incorrect, but surely someone picked up this glaring error before going to print?

Whatever happened to allow this error to creep in is a lesson for us all. Proofreading one’s writing before it goes public is crucial, no matter what the format. Getting someone else to check your writing is also important.

Now, before I post this article, I had better go back and check every word.

Twice.

Good writing.

Trevor

Further reading:

 

Doing the Writer’s Happy Dance

Last week I had an occasion to indulge in the Writer’s Happy Dance.

Well – I didn’t actually do a proper dance – more of a geriatric gyration. With lots of clicks and groans in my ancient bones.

The reason for this joyous occasion was a notification that one of my stories has been accepted for publication in an anthology. It also means that I am in the running to win a prize in a writing competition. The competition was jointly run by Radio 1079 Life (Life FM) and Tabor College. Tabor was where I did my Masters Degree in Creative Writing; I can highly recommend their creative writing programme which can be studied externally.

The competition is called “Stories of Life” and are based on true-life experiences and must contain some element of one’s Christian faith. I initially found it challenging to come up with a viable story concept, but once I started, the words flowed easily. I must admit that I put myself under a little pressure, leaving my submission to the very last day and posting it the website at 11:35 pm, just 25 minutes before the closing time of midnight. I always say that I shouldn’t put myself under so much stress, but it happens far too often.

The story I wrote was based on one of my experiences while travelling in Nepal about ten years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday in Nepal and vividly remember many of my amazing experiences. You can read some my experiences here.

Competitions

Submitting stories and poems to competitions is an excellent way of improving your writing skills. I must admit that I don’t do this nearly often enough. By pitting one’s writing against other writers, you get to hone your writing, editing and proofreading skills. Some competitions even give feedback from the judges. This helps you to further improve your writing until you regularly get listed in the short list or get a commendation from the judges. Winning some prize money is wonderful, of course, but this should never be the prime reason for entering. A prize is a lovely bonus. Constantly improving your writing should be your main aim.

When writing for a competition follow these simple hints:

  • Write the very best story you can.
  • Rewrite, edit and proofread the story until it sparkles. Or grabs the readers’ throats.
  • Read – and reread – the rules set out by the organisers.
  • Stay within the word limits, not too short and never over the maximum word count.
  • Read your story out aloud, or get someone else to read it – this will help you to find typos and errors in grammar.
  • Submit before the due date.

Poetry

The same rules apply to poetry, except that the organisers usually stipulate the maximum length and sometimes the theme. A few years ago I was delighted to actually win a national poetry competition. I not only did the Writer’s Happy Dance, I think I also gave a yell of delight. The prize money was a wonderful bonus, too. I can now put “Award-winning poet” on my resume – how cool is that? You can read some of my poetry here.

A personal goal

As I said above, I don’t enter nearly enough competitions. I have hundreds of suitable poems and dozens of good stories ready to go. It is one of those things I always intend to do, but I need to enter far more regularly. I do have this as one of the goals for this year, but I am a long way off reaching my goal.

Good writing. 

Trevor

Some ways to improve your blogging

Blogging and writing

I am always on the lookout for interesting articles about improving my writing and blogging. I am sure that I am not alone in this; we all want to improve our writing and develop more readers.

In the last few weeks, I have managed to get back to more regular writing, including blogging here on this site and also several other sites which I manage or write for. I plan to write more posts more often in the coming months. I hope.

Over the last few months, however, I have been a sporadic publisher of new articles here on this blog. I have also been unable to add much to my other sites as well (Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels). Sometimes life just gets in the way. I could give you a long list of reasons why this has happened, including illness, family responsibilities, involvement in various speaking engagements and so on. I won’t bore you with the details. Life happens. And sometimes, writing doesn’t.

Increase in Readership

One of the best ways to increase the readership of your blog is to persist at your writing. If you are regularly adding new material to your blog, no matter what the topic or niche in which you write, your writing will attract more readers, Don’t be like me and only post every now and then! Like once every couple of months. By posting on a regular basis, you are more likely to develop not only new readers, but also loyal visitors to your site.

Regular posting of new material

Some bloggers are able to post a new piece of writing every day, and some are even able to post several times a day. I find that far too demanding, and most writers I know would be the same. Most of us simply do not have the time, nor do we have the material to write about. It is far better to set a realistic goal and persist at posting every three days, or once a week if that is all you can achieve.

Persistence

I mentioned above the importance of persistence. Success in blogging, it seems, is usually only achieved through long-term, consistent and persistent attention to the basics. One article I read recently was the transcript of a talk given by Darren Rowse of Problogger. You can read the transcript or listen to the 40-minute podcast here: 6 ordinary things can lead to extraordinary results with your blog. At the risk of stating spoilers here, his final point is persistence. Keep at it and you will be more successful than the vast majority of bloggers.

Further reading:

Over my nearly 12 years of writing blog posts here and on my other sites, I have written a number of articles about blogging. Here is a very small selection – or you can use the search facility at the top of each page:

Good writing. Good blogging.

Trevor

On hearing about Stephen King’s 70th Birthday

Just a few thoughts today about Stephen King, Writing, Reading and Life.

It happens to be the great writer’s 70th birthday. I, too, will also be 70 in a few weeks’ time, but the comparison ends there.

I just wrote that he is a ‘great’ writer. Many people would undoubtedly agree with that statement, but I don’t agree – or disagree – with that assessment. I can only go on what other people have said and written. This is because I have only ever heard or read about his written works. I cannot recall ever having read any of his stories, so I really cannot pass any kind of judgement.

Not a fan

I should also say that I am not about to race out and buy any of his books.

There are two reasons for this:

  • I don’t particularly enjoy reading the kinds of books that he writes, so I am not a fan.
  • I have far too many unread books on my bookshelves and on my eReader to justify buying any more. At this stage.

I am sure that he is a fine writer. His popularity and his impressive number of major awards testify to this fact. He has the track record to show that he is a highly regarded writer by many people. I have no problem with that. But now I must come clean with a confession: I have actually bought one of his books and it has sat unopened, unread and unloved on my bookshelf for more than 4 years now. I speak of his book On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftI bought it with the view of studying the writing craft as seen by one of the greats.

And so I will. Soon, I hope.

Great Stephen King Quotes

Today I came across a list of 70 great Stephen King Quotes on his 70th Birthday. This is a great list of wonderful quotes about reading, writing, life and a whole range of topics. While I don’t particularly like some of them, many of them are great, and some of them are very well known, like this one:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”—On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I agree wholeheartedly. These two things I have been trying to do over the last 13 years since I retired from being a classroom teacher. All through my life, I have been an avid reader, but much of that reading was classroom based. I would voraciously read children’s books, always searching for the next great book to share with my students. For eight of my 35 years of teaching I was a teacher-librarian, so books have always been foremost in my professional life.

Me – the writer

All through my teaching career, I struggled to find the time to write. While I always regarded myself as a writer, my writing was largely confined to weekends and school holiday periods. Since retiring, however, I have given myself permission to write every day, and during some periods have considered myself to be a full-time writer. Life has a habit of getting in the way, and there have also been lean writing times – like the last few months caring for my ill wife. (She is improving – thanks for being concerned.) During these years of my second career, I have had some publication success, and I have written nearly three million words, many of them published on my various blog sites. ( Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels.)

Me – the reader

Now that I have the time, and the freedom, to read whatever I want to, I am finding so many great writers and books to explore. My family is convinced that I will die with a very high pile of unread books alongside my bed. This is probably true – and they will find many unread books on my eReader as well. Still, I love the freedom of reading whatever I want to read, and exploring the works of authors and genres I didn’t have time to read in earlier years.

So – Happy Birthday Stephen King.

Good reading and good writing to you all.

Trevor