Blogging Part 2: Editing Your Own Blog Post

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*This could be seen as an extension of  my previous blogging post so I’m treating it as a part 2.  And just to let you know, I am not an expert.*

Self editing is a big bone of contention for me.  As  a writer, whether said writer is professional or amateur, we are more used to the actual act of putting our thoughts and fancies on the page and not double or triple checking our output. It seems that when we edit our own work, we tend to miss the more obvious mistakes while looking for the more eclectic ones.

For example: recently I uploaded a post that I had taken ages to edit. *”Ages” to me means more than three passes over the article, it doesn’t really equate to a real time.*  Once I was satisfied that every thing looked okay, I posted it. Only to cringe with embarrassment when I first read the posted product. My first sentence had a word missing!

Face Palm moment.

Of course one of the great things about WordPress is that we can always go back and re-edit our stuff after we’ve posted it. But that really isn’t what we should be doing. We should do a decent edit before we send our baby out to be read by strangers (and friends) who will most likely not be impressed by the fact that we cannot spell or write an intelligent  sentence.

I don’t read other blogs nearly as much as I should. I am, by my very nature, lazy. I only have so much energy and attention span available to me and I have to share it with everything from doing the housework to taping a video for YouTube. So in my mind three passes is the longest that I can take to edit my own written material.

But when I do read other blogs, I cringe when I see a barrage of misspellings and sentences that have great holes in them where a word should be. Now I will admit that I have an almost phobic distaste for writers who cannot get the difference between to, two and too. I also have real problems with those who cannot differentiate between their, there and they’re.

*My most cringeworthy moment came when I’d incorrectly used their instead of they’re. I was mortified.*

With the use of spell checker software that is available, not just on WordPress, but on every word processing software in the world, I find it inconceivable that these common mistakes still appear on people’s blogs and (I’m sad to say) their books. I know that I have not followed a blog that has been full of spelling mistakes and despite the content being fantastic, I couldn’t in all honesty follow someone who did not care enough about what they wrote to edit it properly.

Editing is boring and tedious. Why is this chap smiling.
Editing is boring and tedious. Why is this chap smiling.

Granted we are writers and not editors, the two things are not mutually inclusive. Being good at one does not automatically mean you are good at the other. But, and this is a big but, we have to make that effort. If we don’t take ourselves seriously enough to send out a polished product when we upload, how can we expect anyone else to. (and that is to not too or two)

And we do want to be taken seriously, don’t we? The blogging world is full of people who can write just as well as we can and a lot more folks who can write better.  A lot of successful bloggers don’t just add pictures and videos and GIF‘S (that’s for you Tyson) they add a professional touch that includes ruthless editing.

Editing Tips:

1) Try reading the blogpost in reverse order. It’s a lot easier to spot boo-boo’s that way.

2) Have a trusted person read the post. My daughter used to do this for me and me for her. It works.

3) Try reading the post out loud. A lot of times this will save you from making sentencing mistakes.

4) Leave your post alone for a bit. Go do something that is not writing related and then come back, the mistakes will sometimes leap off that page at you.

5) Take your time. There is no rush. No-one is breathing over your shoulder screaming hurry up.

6) Last one I promise. Try reading it in preview mode (WordPress). I find mistakes show more clearly on preview.

Now following these tips is no guarantee that your future blog posts will be mistake free. But they will go a long way toward making it read more smoothly and improving the look of it.

I do feel that standards are slipping. I’ve read no less than three Freshly Pressed articles that were “shot-gunned” through with misspellings. Great stories all, but to read? I kept stumbling over misspelt words and it took the enjoyment out of the article. Just as it takes the enjoyment out of posting my own articles and discovering that I’d either turned word-check off, or I hadn’t bothered to really edit properly.

Just things like using the wrong “tense” or the wrong adverb or adjective can throw the reader out of the moment or cause them to miss your point. This can lose you views, followers and the confidence you need to continue writing.

We owe it to the good people who take the time to read, like, or comment on our babies. More importantly we owe it to ourselves. Because  we are writers, damn it and we are proud of that fact.

Do you have any editing tips that work for you? If so, please feel more than free to share them. We’d love to hear them, I know I can use all the help I can get.

What we do.
What we do.

Second Chances

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Yes you read the title correctly, it says second chances – plural. I know that a lot of folks never get a second chance – singular. They go through their lives either successfully, poorly, middle-of-the-road-ly, or otherwise and they never get another snatch at the brass ring or another bite of the apple.

I seem to have spent my entire life getting these “back-hand” second chances.

I remember when I turned my back on acting the first time. My first wife did not like me being “in the business” and since I was very young and very much in love, I turned my back on my passion. Years passed, the bloom went off the rose of my first marriage and I got divorced.

I didn’t handle it well. Too young and too broken-up, thoughts of ending it all danced around the periphery of my mind. Not seriously though, thank who-ever: but I was pretty damn miserable for a long time. I moved to England, courtesy of Uncle Sam, and not long after arriving in the UK, I was drafted into an amateur theatre group.

I was back to acting again and I was loving it.

Then my job began to interfere and I had to turn my back on it again. Time moved on. I got married again and just before I got reassigned to The Netherlands (Holland) a mate of mine got me a job as an extra on an American TV movie, The Last Days of Patton. I worked for over 12 hours playing a WWII soldier who goes through a rifle drill with a whole platoon and we then got to meet General Patton (George C Scott).

The giant mansion behind "Patton" head is where we filmed.
The giant mansion behind “Patton’s” head is where we filmed.

It  was a memorable moment. Mr Scott was personable and approachable. He spent his time between takes talking to us Air Force guys who’d learned to do a rifle drill after a couple of hours of training by the film’s technical advisor. I remember thanking the “guy upstairs” for giving me this, a sort of taste of what I’d been missing.

Later when we’d settled in at our new Dutch home, I got to do some radio work and through the AFN guys, I got some film and TV work. Again getting a little taste of what I had turned my back on so many years ago. My daughter was born on the day that I had two auditions for a couple of American television commercials. I decided that my daughter’s entrance into this world was more important and called the casting folks up to express my apologies.

I got a few more little jobs here and there and met some interesting people and almost got a couple of great acting jobs. But fate had another idea and these close grabs at the brass ring, missed.

Later, when we moved back to the UK, I got out of the Air Force (I didn’t retire, I got out via the early out cut-back program) and did some more voice-over work. I even did some extra work. But reality kept creeping in and kicking me in the face. I kept trying to write the whole time I was being diverted from the acting side of my life. That activity was as doomed as the acting. Something always got in the way.

Lack of privacy; lack of ideas; lack of concentration; lack of confidence. All these things interfered with any sort of creative process and more. I finally decided to turn my back on any sort of creativity.

All thoughts of creating something either physically or mentally were killed off and buried.

The proud, the few, the under-appreciated...
The proud, the few, the under-appreciated…

Life went on, I found a good job that allowed me the time to enjoy my family and watch my daughter grow up. The job also came with a great retirement set up. It wasn’t the best job in the world and it was not anything that I’d have chosen for myself as the “last” job I’d ever do.

Then, injured at work and off for just under six months. Right after I start back to work, I have a heart attack. Two surgeries; one an emergency surgery that left me with pretty much permanent damage. The end result of this was my life was saved, barely, and I was ill-health retired from my job.

I won’t lie. I was a little depressed about losing this job that I’d done for just under ten years. I didn’t love it, but I like most of the people I worked with and I’d finally gotten top pay for my job. I felt like the character on films and TV that shrugs and says, “Eh, it’s a living.” But I was panic-stricken.

I had no idea what I was going to do.

I still don’t; but I’ve finally woken up to the fact that, for what ever reason, I’ve been given another second chance.  I’m not sure how many this is now, but it’s a lot. I don’t know if I’ll wind up doing anything creative or not. I do know that I’ll keep blogging, because it is a bit addictive now that I’ve started it, but I kind of feel like the sky’s the limit at the moment.

What is really evident to me is that of all the second chances I’ve been given, this one is perhaps the most important. All the previous ones were sort of career or personal goal oriented.

This one is a second chance at life.

I am going to try not to waste it.

Boldly going to where I've never gone before. Sorry Captain Kirk...
Boldly going to where I’ve never gone before. Sorry Captain Kirk…

The Corridor (2010): Canadian Chill at its Finest

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The Corridor is Evan Kelly‘s first feature film, although he has a good list of films that he has been assistant director on and he directed a short filmQuality Viewing in 2002. Despite the fact that it appears he’s not done anything recently I expect great things from this director.

Amazingly this film was so low-key that it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. *Surely this more than anything else shows how the world has moved into the internet verse of informative websites.*   There is not a whole lot of information on IMDb either. The only information that one can glean from this site is that is was shot in 2010 and not released until 2012.

Due to the lack of budget and box office information, I am guessing that the film was released straight to DVD. After watching it I could only ask why? Was the film so outside the box that the production company or the producers could not figure out how to market the film? What ever the reason, it is ridiculous that this film is so unknown.

The guys still don't quite trust Tyler.
The guys still don’t quite trust Tyler.

The Cast:

Stephen Chambers
Tyler Crawley
James Gilbert
Everett Manette
David Patrick Flemming
Chris Comeau
Matthew Amyotte
Robert ‘Bobcat’ Comeau
Glen Matthews
Jim ‘Huggs’ Huggan
Mary-Colin Chisholm
Pauline Crawley

*Courtesy of IMDb.*

The Plot:

The film starts with a “freaked out” Tyler hiding in a hallway closet. He is looking at an apparently dead woman on the floor in front of him outside the closet. His roommates come into the hallway and when they find the body, Tyler comes out of hiding waving a knife and  slashes one friend on the face and stabs another through the hand. An unspecified time later, all of the men get together to scatter the woman’s ashes (her name was Pauline and she was Tyler’s mother) at a cabin deep in the woods.

The corridor...
The corridor…

The Device:

A corridor that “magically” appears in the forest when Tyler scatters Pauline’s ashes. As he is alone when this happens and he suffers from schizophrenia and is on “heavy” medication he doesn’t think it is real. He talks his friends into investigating this phenomenon and they  all get affected by this corridor.

The Twist:

The one who survives to the end of the movie isn’t who you think it will be.

The Verdict:

This film was complex and very intertwined. If you didn’t pay attention, you would miss something. However, it is clever and well constructed. There is not a lot of blood and gore so if you’re expecting a tribute to Takashi Miike you’ll be disappointed. But if you like films that are thoughtful, slow-burning, and different; this film is for you. I was genuinely surprised at the ending and after watching it I put in on my list of favourites

The Score:

This is a chilly 4 stars out of 5. It would have gotten a full 5 but there are bits in the film that are confusing. But the entire premise and the way that Evans presents it drives the score up. I really don’t know why they waited 2 years to release this film, but I’m glad that they finally did.

*I’m still playing around with the format here. Thanks.*

Tyler "freaking out."
Tyler “freaking out.”

My Soul to Take (2010): The Film Critics Love to Hate?


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Written and directed by “tongue-in-cheek” horror master Wes Craven, My Soul to Take opened to almost universal pans. No-one, it appears, liked the film and critics united in an effort to slam this film. As a huge Wes Craven (and fan of all the Screams) I am amazed at the amount of “Craven-bashing” that took place when this film premiered.

It is almost like a rerun of Craven’s other film, Cursed; which to be fair was a pretty messy affair (being re-shot no less than 3 times) and critics again rallied to beat Craven metaphorically about the face and eyes in their rush to show their hatred for this film. I waited for the film to be released on DVD and watched it.

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I liked the rated and un-rated version…

I liked it.

So when critics slammed the s**t out of  My Soul to Take, I withheld my judgement (as usual) until I’d seen it. Unsurprisingly, I liked it. In fact, I liked it so much I bought a Blu-ray copy of the film. So while I have to restrain myself from giving the middle finger of disdain to the world’s film critics, I have no problem with sending a huge raspberry their way.

Starring:

Max Thieriot
Denzel Whitaker
Raul Esparza
Shareeka Epps
Bug looking pretty damned guilty.
Bug looking pretty damned guilty.

The Plot:

On the night that an almost unstoppable serial killer with a split-personality is seemingly dispatched, 7 babies are born in the local hospital. 16 years later on their birthday, they are all hunted down by the presumed dead serial killer and one boy, Adam ‘aka Bug’ (Thierot), finds out that his dad was the serial killer. Adam must figure out who is killing all his peers and stop him or her.

The Device:

*Warning: this could be seen as a spoiler.*

All the film’s action hinges on the device of “soul eating” and that when a person dies their soul is consumed by their killer. Apparently, when the original serial killer died, his soul was split into 7 parts and each baby born on that night took a portion.

The Twist:

The killer isn’t who you (repeatedly) think it is.

The Verdict: 

The film is honestly not as bad as the critics would have you believe. Okay, so some of Craven’s sly humour is missing here. The overall plot is not too complex and basically folks, if you’re expecting another version of the Scream verse; you’re going to be disappointed. It’s not as clever as Scream or Cursed (which I liked remember) so be prepared.

It does feature another “super-human” Big Bad that is fairly impressive. So overall, I really cannot understand the total lack of love that this film gets.

The Score: 

I would have to give this a solid 4 out of 5 stars just for the split-personality angle and the 7 souls schtick. A good popcorn munchin’ film with solid performances by all.

*This is an experimental review format that I’m trying out for this film. Let me know what you think. Vote on the format you like best and I’ll try to write future reviews in that format.*

*Just to let you know, I’m popping my Poll cherry here, please be gentle! I’ll “post” the results after a week or so. Thanks guys.*

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SERENDIPITY

A while ago, Garry and I watched what is I am sure among the lowest grossing movies of all time. I don’t say this lightly. In its theatrical run, it grossed exactly (according to both Wikipedia and IMDB) $1100, which even in our world is not a huge amount of money. No, there aren’t any zeroes missing. That’s the real number.

This is not the lowest grossing movie ever. The 2012 movie  Playback cost $7.5 million to film but only grossed $264 — the lowest-grossing film of 2012. And 2006’s Zyzzx Road, starring Katherine Heigl grossed $30

Flypaper only cost $5,000,000 to make, so they only lost $4,998,900 which, for a Hollywood bomb, is small potatoes. The movie was universally panned, opened in just one movie house (where?) on two screens, then disappeared, never to be heard from again until it popped up the other night on one of our cable…

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Madison County (2011): A Southern Slasher on the Cheap

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Madison County is a low-budget “slasher” horror film that was filmed in and around Russellville Arkansas. Written and directed by local boy Eric England, the film looks good. The production values are incredibly good, no doubt because England shot the entire film on the Sony Red digital camera.

I’ve written about the Red before in an earlier post: Film-making, the Times they are A-Changing. Monsters (2010). I was most impressed with the ability of the film-makers on Monsters who used the Sony Red exclusively on their film and actually used common software to edit the film in their hotel rooms while on the shoot.

I have no idea whether England did the same, but his film has the same high quality look as Monsters. Also, for a low-budget horror film, the sound is outstanding. Phillip Bladh who was the production sound engineer did a superb job of not “drowning out” the actors with the soundtrack.

My only complaint about the sound was the ADR which sometimes did not completely match the actors when they were speaking. This did not happen often enough to be really noticeable but it did show, perhaps, some of the actors’ inexperience with the whole “looping” process.

The film opens with an homage to Tobe Hooper‘s 1974 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This opening shot told me two things: 1) That the director was a horror fan, and 2)That this film was going to be a ‘cut’ above the rest of its low-budget peers. I was not wrong. While the film received mainly negative reviews when it premiered at the LA Screamfest; Dread Central gave it an overall favourable review with a 3 out of 5 star rating. *Screamfest and Dread Central information courtesy of Wikipedia.*

Uh-oh, wheres old leather face?
Uh-oh, wheres old leather face?

The film follows the story of a group of college kids who are travelling to Madison County to interview the author who wrote an account of a local serial killer.  When they reach the area that the writer lives in, they stop “in town” for directions. They go into the local general store/gas station/diner to get information on the writer.

The lady running the diner tells the kids that the writer doesn’t live there anymore and that local folks don’t care too much for outsiders. One of the funniest lines in the film occurs in this little exchange. One of the boys asks if the whole town suffers from “staring disease” as the full diner’s occupants all stop and stare unabashedly at the group when they enter the premises.

The scene outside and in the diner also seemed to give a nod towards another film dealing with the vagaries of the south and its denizens, Deliverance.

"We don't care much for outsiders here, young man."
“We don’t care much for outsiders here, young man.”

Once the group go off to find the writer, we reach the heart of the story and the action. Nothing too blazingly original here, but England’s choice of location serves the film well and the introduction of a “pig-headed” serial killer (with one eye staring off to the corner of its socket) is a great touch and the actor who played the killer Damien (Nick Principe) does a great job interacting with his victims.

And now that I’ve mentioned one of the actors, here is the entire cast list:

*Courtesy of Wikipedia.*

Despite an ending that was “signposted”, the actual end of the film did surprise me a little as it came from a quarter not entirely expected. This film definitely did not deserve the negative reviews it received, I’ve seen much worse (just in the area of production quality alone, we won’t talk about sound) and in fact watched two films prior to Madison County this evening that were pure unadulterated dross and this  was head and shoulders above these films.

The lead protagonist James is played by another local lad, Colley Bailey; this was his first feature film and he did a passable job. He must be doing something right as he is still working in the industry. The whole cast acquitted themselves admirably on a location that must have been full of ticks, poisonous snakes and spiders and incredibly rocky terrain.

That section of Arkansas has more ornery critters per square inch than most other locations in the US. It also has an overabundance of rocks; ask any farmer. I probably enjoyed the film more than most, because it was filmed in an area just 2 hours away from where I grew up. This “inside” knowledge of the surrounding area increased my viewing pleasure.

My final (and slightly biased) verdict for the film is a 3.5 stars out of 5. Mainly for the pig-headed killer and the excellent production values of the film. I could not find an estimated budget for the film, but I am very willing to bet it was way under the million dollar mark. Yet the film does not look it or sound it. A great popcorn movie of the southern slasher variety.

Body language.
Body language.

Just another helpful tips from the helpful folks at WordPress.com

The WordPress.com Blog

When you become a part of WordPress.com, you’re actually getting two awesome services for the price of none: your blog plus your Reader, which brings every WordPress.com blog together in one easy-to-search place. Your blog is where your ideas come to life, and your Reader is where you connect with other WordPressers, our community hub. It’s the place to find bloggers who inspire you, teach you, tug your heartstrings, and make you laugh — and who just may be your next biggest fans.

When you log in to WordPress.com and go to the actual http://wordpress.com — as opposed to going directly to your blog — you’ll land in your Reader. It looks a little something like this — familiar?

reader

With several ways to discover content that speaks to you, it’s a powerful tool not only for finding great reads, but for making connections. We call it “your” Reader on purpose…

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