Archive for October, 2017

A Great Book for Young Soccer Fans

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Problems with proofreading


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.


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.


Good writing.


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.


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.


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.