Category Archives: Literature & Writing

The broke writers toolbox of 8 ABSOLUTELY FREE APP’s for 2018

I’m a terrible writer. Ever so often I growl in envy, that some people simply have the skill to build words in such a manner that they create the most vivid scenes in a mere fraction of the composition. And ever so effortlessly, these people seem to do this in the first draft, with perhaps a few comma’s thrown in for editing. Life. Is. Just. Not. Fair!

Okay, I’m done sulking.

For the rest of us, there are tricks, check-boxes and most importantly free applications to use to improve our prose. Here I’d like to pause. Unfortunately, no application, book or quick fix can magically wave a wand over you and turn you into J.K. Rowling. And even the greats need a human editor… However used often, some of these do actually in time improve your writing. Or maybe writing and reading improves your writing, but then …

In the past year, where I’ve taken on re-writing one of my yawn effect drafts into something hopefully one day enjoyable, I’ve gone looking for something to help me along the way. And since everyone seems to be sharing their, ‘must read list for 2018’(or at least they were when I first drafted this) it seems fitting to throw in my ‘very useful app list for writers in 2018’.

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1. WordWeb ( https://wordweb.info/free/ )

Back in the day, any writer with merit would have told you a good dictionary is like the screwdriver in a mechanic’s toolbox. In 2018 we have a time-saving app for that. It is definitely much easier to type in the word you want to look up. It’s also lighter to carry if you decided you wanted to go sit in the spare office during your lunch hour to get some writing time in.

And while a search in your preferred App-Shop, would probably reveal many a program worth using – I like to use WordWeb. Not only does it explain the word to you, like that heavy, bulky, The Concise Oxford Dictionary, but it often also suggests alternative words to use. It’s like a dictionary and thesaurus thrown into one. Best of all, no pop-up ads, and it works off-line. I have mine installed on my phone. The app is available for Android, iPhone and Windows.

2. Libre Office Writer ( https://www.libreoffice.org/ )

If like me, you bought your computer, tablet or another writing device with only Windows Home or similar installed on it, you know that this does not come with the Microsoft Office package. It seems that even though, there are several other writing programs, which I’ll discuss later, on a writer’s most wanted list – Microsoft Word is still a must-have – or not. I use Libre Office Writer, which is just as good as the Microsoft version. Best of all, this Open Source software is, wait for it, ABSOLUTELY FREE! The writer comes along with the entire Libre Office package, which also includes a spreadsheet and a drawing program. And to top it all off, Libre can easily open and save your files in the popular Microsoft formats.

3. AbiWord ( http://abisource.com/ )

If you simply don’t want, need or have a lack of space for the Libre Office package – Abi Word may be more appealing. It too is an Open Source, ABSOLUTELY FREE, software which only features a writing application similar to Word. No spreadsheets applications are thrown in.

4. Grammarly (https://www.grammarly.com/)

Grammarly is like your spell check on steroids. It spots so much more than your average Language Tool. Used over time, Grammarly will help you spot mistakes on your own. You can use Grammarly for free, online. The only pitfall is that it will not work offline, even the paid version. But otherwise, it is a seriously excellent, spelling and grammar checking application.

5. Pro Writing Aid (https://prowritingaid.com/)

Like Grammarly, Pro Writing Aid is your spell check on steroids. Also, like Grammarly, you can use it for free online. Again like Grammarly, it only works online – even the trial version downloadable app needs a working internet connection. The free version is limited and checks only 500 words per go. Unlike Grammarly, this App has what it calls reports. It will check more than just your spelling and grammar. There are reports to tell you if you have overused a word, reports to tell you how readable your text is and much, much more.

6. Hemingway App ( http://www.hemingwayapp.com/ )

Like Pro Writing Aid, Hemingway is yet another grammar checking application, which will point out adverbs, passive voice, and hard to read sentences. I’ve not had the chance to fully explore this app yet, but unlike its counterparts, the paid desktop app will work off-line.

7. yWriter6 ( http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter6.html )

If you are into writing full-fledged novels, yWriter6 is a very useful App. The windows version is free to download. It’s primarily there to help you organize your scenes and chapters into one workable document. There are also some very nifty tools, such as a read out loud feature, a word counter to tell you how many times you have used a certain word, a word per minute meter, basic spell check, and more. It’s an excellent tool to write your first draft on. And while it’s not as colorful as it’s pricey counterpart Scrivener – yWriter does come packed with many features.

Recently, an app has been added to Android devices, but this is not free.

8. Bibisco ( http://www.bibisco.com/ )

Bibisco is another App you can use to organize your chapters into one workable document. Unlike Ywriter which is classified as Freeware, Bibisco is Open Source.While it certainly seems not to be created for smaller devices such as tablets, it’s an app I still plan on exploring further.

Open Source versus Free-Ware

In case you were wondering, Open Source Software is a group project for programmers. The programming code is open to being downloaded for free. Anybody can contribute towards making the program better. These contributors are often not paid for doing so.

Freeware is usually created by only one individual or company who will distribute the program or part of the program for free. Often you are required to purchase the program to gain access to all its features, such as Grammerly and Pro Writing Aid.

There are many more applications to help you improve your writing, many, many more. These are only a few which I found seemed most popular and useful. As I continue discovering other applications, I may write another post to expand on this one. For now, I hope you find something on this list to help shape you into a better writer.

About the Author

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

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6 Perfect quotes on perfection

Perfection. It’s been somewhat of my theme for the year. This ideal of perfection, holds us back in our creative endeavours, our relationships, our goals, and our self-compassion. Perfection, very often is a shackle of fear. So as I look over my blog and social media for the year, here are some quotes I came across.

“It all does not need to be perfect.”

From the my post titled, to the blog posts I did not write. It’s this little poem which prompted me to look at my creative outlet a little less critical.

Eventually, I realized that the criticism in my internal chatter is not just limited to this blog. Neither is that of many other people.

“You are perfect to me”

Pink from the song Perfect, which I featured on my post 15 Motivational Songs to kick A**

“Underneath our perfect is where the true connection lie”

From my post, in the age of Social Media is the fear of rejection keeping us from genuine friendships?

“Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful”

This little snippet of wisdom was smiling at me as I was walking past a coffee shop. I snapped the picture and posted it on Instagram.

#inspiration #motivation is everywhere. Took this pic while out shopping.

A post shared by Sarina (@shiningseeds) on

In the post titled, how to overcome relationship disaster taught to us by bedtime stories, I explored this concept of expectation of perfection we have in our partners.

“Mister wrong, is not necessarily wrong because he is not perfect. He may be wrong because you have an unrealistic expectation”

I love this Jeffrey Allen quote on the matter:

“It’s so wonderful that people don’t have to be perfect to be perfect for each other”

“Sometimes it’s the flaws in life, which make life interesting.”

Admittedly, while the above quote does not actually have the word “perfect” in it you get the general idea that flaws are there when something is not perfect. This is the closing line on the post titled, sometimes flaws are beautiful, a look at the 2017 NaNo Poblano badge.

Often perfection is an unrealistic ideal, an expectation too heavy to carry. Sometimes it’s boring and dull. And sometimes, it is our own imperfect perception which is in error. Some things are perfect, just as they are – but we think they are not.

And sometimes a situation, person, thing, whatever may just be perfect for you – but not perfect for someone else. We are all unique beings. Why are we always looking for a uniform ideal?

This has been the 12th and last post for the 12 days of it does not need to be perfect, suitably ended with a post on perfection.

About the Author

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

Find her here:

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Rainbows are magical

Rainbows are magical, it’s a cliché if I may.

 promises, wishes I pray.

they’re a portal

To a better world for those of us who are mortal.

***

If blue birds fly, why oh why can’t I?

***

Rainbow nation.

I had a dream.

Rainbows are magical. So they say.

Unicorns, kittens and the sparkling ray.

***

Somewhere over the rainbow, I heard a song

***

The dreams that I dare to dream,

ripped

I spy, with my little eye

Why, why you gotta be so mean?

***

Once in a lullaby, I heard that Rainbow’s are magical.

So she sings. He grows wings.

Magical, Magical, Magical things.

***

 

NanoPoblano 2017

About the Author

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

Find her here:


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#Haiku prompt challenge: Broken & Over 

Greater forces broke

That which provided shelter

Grows over again.

***

Thanks for Haiku prompt words Broken & Over. Traditionally Haiku poetry is written about an observation in Nature. This one about a tree which has been struck by lightning.  Often you will find a new tree growing at the site. But the poem could be an observation on something completely different.  This is why I enjoy Haiku.

This post links to a month’s long daily blogging challenge, during November. See who else has signed up to be a Little Pepper HERE. It’s called NANO POBLANO/ NaBloPoMo.

NanoPoblano 2017

About the Author

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

Find her here:

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As a child, what was your favorite fairy tale?

I wanted to ask what your favorite bedtime story was as a child,  but then not all of us were read to. Reading was not a big thing in my own upbringing. But we did have an old vinyl record with several fairy tales on it.  And we had a TV. Later, once I could read I could discover fairy tales for myself.

I’ve always loved them, in general, but had a particular fondness for a select few.

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1. Cinderella

First on my list was Cinderella.  The original version,  not the Disney movie. I loved when Cinderella visits her mother’s grave and could request anything from the tree growing on it. Then later Cinderella leaves her mean step-sisters behind to go live a dream life. What’s not to like?

2. Disney’s – The Little Mermaid

The second was The Little Mermaid. The movie came out when I was about 7, or at least at that time it became very popular.  I later went to our school library to loan a fairy tale collection with the original version just cause was curious as to where Disney came up with their plot. The original was somewhat sad really if I recall. But obviously, in Disneyland, everyone lives happily ever after. Now, who doesn’t want to be a Mermaid?

3.  The valiant little tailor

The third fairy tale I loved is titled: the valiant little tailor. Now here is a fairy tale Disney should adopt into an animation.  It’s got all the trademarks of an excellent tale. It ends happily ever after. There’s believing in yourself and the subsequent overcoming of impossible odds sown into the plot. And, personal growth of the protagonist as a result.

So, what about you? What was your favorite fairy tale?

This post links to a month’s long daily blogging challenge, during November. See who else has signed up to be a Little Pepper HERE. It’s called NANO POBLANO/ NaBloPoMo.

NanoPoblano 2017

About the Author

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

Find her here:


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One word obsession #poetry

Lost, Mindless lines – tap, tap. Stencil

Word graffiti with a pencil.

Always same, name, same, game

A cliché with no counter-claim.

Obtrusive. Can’t move on. Turn back so long,

When was the last time? Something wrong.

One word. One proclamation. One script.

The page pressed deep, the pen ripped.

Verified, no abbreviation. Agitation. Frustration.

Mind numbing concentration.

Only this precise letting is enough.

I’ll give you a tip, it rhymes with dove.

Easy spelling, complicated meaning

Far fetched, wider than california dreaming.

Cherished, passionate adoration

What word evokes this sensation?

It can only be …

Love.

loveGraffiti

I have an obsession with the word – Love.  So I put it in a poem. The above picture I did with Inkscape. Similar grafitti was found in my Math books. It’s now found on my deskpads. Sketchpads.

It’s been a while since I took to poetry…

This post links to a month’s long daily blogging challenge, during November. See who else has signed up to be a Little Pepper HERE. It’s called NANO POBLANO / NaBloPoMo.

NanoPoblano 2017

About the Author

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

Find her here:


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Word of the day – satire

As most other bloggers, I write this blog because I’m bored and can’t find a better pass time. To indulge my craving to fill this blog with something else than chocolate, I’ve let slip this ‘word of the day feature’. It’s not like people can easily open the dictionary and discover words for themselves.

Not to mention, after twelve years of schooling most English-speaking humans, are proficient in the usage of the word – ‘satire’. It’s one I was faced with in a History class, which most of my classmates loved. Memorizing things, to repeat them like a parrot during exam time, undoubtedly prepares you for the real world. Spoon feeding truly helps you develop independent thought.

And then, you enter the friendly world of FaceBook. You read something strange on Reddit. Perhaps one of your peers decides to mix things up and posts an internet meme, instead of a selfie on Snapchat or Instagram. Or some Vlogger’s video goes viral on What’s App. At first you think it’s kind of funny, but don’t get it. Suddenly you are forced to do something which you have never done before. Your own mind has to wrap itself around a complex joke. She was joking, right?

frogReadingFaceBook

Writing satire as you can see by my inapt attempt there (in the first two paragraphs), is not all that easy—although to some people it comes as natural as breathing. I’m not one of them, but I enjoy reading the art-form. Yes, it is an art-form, to construct words in such a manner they poke fun at society in constructive criticism. Satire is another way to convey an opinion and focuses on the writers observation on society, politics and such.

A well-constructed satire will force the audience to some internal reflection. The modern day satire it is not restricted to writing. Satire can also be in form of a comic strip, a video, lyrics, an internet meme.

The official definition from ‘the Concise Oxford Dictionary, 7th Edition, first printed in 1982,’ is:

“satire n. 1. composition in verse or prose ridiculing vice or folly or lampooning individual(s), this branch of literature, thing that brings ridicule upon something (our lives are a satire upon our religion); use of ridicule, irony, sarcasm, etc., in speech or writing to expose or discourage vice or folly.

2. poetic medley, esp. Poem ridiculing prevalent vices or follies.”

“Eish”, remind me to never quote that dictionary again. One needs another dictionary to define that which has already been defined.

I think Wikipedia in this case is easier understood:

“Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purposes is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.”

Wikipedia continues and explains that a feature of satires are they use sarcasm and irony. They also feature exaggeration, utilize words in such a manner they could have a double meaning (double entrendre) and show comparisons.

Let me show you a few examples….

Satires have really been exploding all over the internet lately.

This video, has been making the rounds. It criticize our use of Social Media to find the perfect partner.

Madam and Eve, is a local comic strip which is printed in newspapers and can be bought in special edition books. The illustrator is brilliant. This specific one has been doing the rounds via What’s App. In it he compares South African President, Jacob Zuma to American President, Donald Trump. It’s a comparison most people in the region have been making since Trump came into office.

(Please note, I don’t have copy right on the above material. I display it as “fair use” as an embed from their respective fan page. )

There are many, many more examples. I thought I’d sample some of the more light hearted ones. With the recent feminist hash-tag making the rounds, I found some vile comments from people who clearly did not understand that the author was writing a satire or was using sarcasm.

NanoPoblano 2017

This post links to a month’s long daily blogging challenge, during November. See who else has signed up to be a Little Pepper HERE. It’s called NANO POBLANO / NaBloPoMo.

About the Author

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

Find her here:


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What’s the best writer’s joke you know?

Today I hope to make you chuckle. This little spark was on the radio  many moons ago, while I was driving home. Due to the fact that I blogged it way back when, I can still share it with great detail.

There once was this boy, blond hair with summer speckles, named John. From the earliest age, John dreamt of only one profession.

One day Grandma while stationed in her kitchen cooking  asked, “John me boy, what do you want to become when you grow up?” He looked up into her grey eyes. Her hair was up in a bun and the aroma of her cooking filled the room.
“Well Grans, you know I really want to become a writer” his innocent ten-year old voice replied.
“Oh! Why that is certainly interesting. What kind of things would you write?” she beamed.
“I want to write things, which will make people cry. They must become angry. They must be overcome with emotion. They must want to jump up and scream!” John said earnestly.

Years passed since then. So what do you think John does today?

*
*
*
*

smilingsheep

John is employed by Microsoft. He writes their error messages.

This post links to a month’s long daily blogging challenge, during November. See who else has signed up to be a Little Pepper HERE. It’s called NANO POBLANO.

About the Author

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

Find her here:


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#Book Review: Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One by @HHBasquiat

When it comes to sarcasm, there is a fine line between rude and witty. That line is even harder to walk when it comes to writing. Helena Hann – Basquiat and her co-conspirator Penny seem to have it down to a fine art. This is what I enjoy most about the writings of this author. She seems to be able to take everyday situations and turn them into enlightened forms of sarcastic humor.

memoirs-one-cover

Her memoirs have a sense of ‘je ne se qua’. Sophisticated and artistic pop culture commentary. Relatable stories, which seem to be inspired by real life. The blurb on the back of the book explains it well:

“Most – okay, some – of what follows is true.”

It was really hard to believe that a man (since the Author uses a female pen name) wrote some of the more painful stories, stories which seem too feminine of an experience. Perhaps men and women are really not very different after all.

Among my favorite in the collection of memoirs is the one titled:

Gotta catch ‘em all! (the modern young woman’s guide to choosing friends)

Sincerely, if you were to buy the book to only read that particular chapter it would have been money well spent. It is an excellent piece of sarcastic commentary on how shallow our society seems to have become. How labels have replaced human beings and us as a society seem to take offense with everything.

I recommend this book for anyone and everyone. It’s something a little bit different. Most likely it is not like anything you have ever read before. Defiantly something that will make you think about the world we live in. It’s charming, it’s painful, it’s fiction, it’s fact.

I give this a five out of five stars.

You can read my review of Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two here, which I would also recommend to everyone.

Find it on Amazon.

Find it on Goodreads.

Author links:

Author Blog:

 About the reviewer

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

Find her here:

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African Me and Satellite TV by @jorobinson176 #BookReview

African Me and Satellite TV is a novel by South African born author Jo Robinson. The story line is a prime example of Robinson’s love of writing about human frailty.

african-me-satellite-tv-cover

The story takes place in modern-day Zimbabwe (after Morgan Tvangirai’s party merged government with ruling party led by Robert Mugabe 2009 – 2013).

After years of depression, the heroine, Suzette Herzog is faced with two very dangerous racists. After a series of events, this married couple makes it their life’s mission to destroy Suzette.

It is unfortunate, but true that such people do still very much exist in the region today. As someone who lives in Southern Africa, I find the plot and characters to be very realistic.

Other characters in the book were also very entertaining and well thought-out.

The issues of human rights and animal cruelty form part of the main plot and large chunks of the book are dedicated to this topic as viewed from the point of view of Suzette.

Apart from a few easily overlooked typo’s the language flows effortlessly. Overall the book was an enjoyable read, which also made me think about the issues we face in the region.

I recommend the book for anyone who wants to read a genuine African story. If you enjoy stories of triumph of the human soul then this would be your book.

I give the book 3 out of 5 Stars.

Links:

Find the book on Amazon here.

Jo Robinson blog: africolonialstories.wordpress.com

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About the reviewer

profile-pic-2Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.

Find her here:

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