How to Write Effective Constructive Criticism

Good advice for any writer, and especially those who are asked to critique a work in progress.

little dahlia

Have you wanted to help a writer, but wasn’t sure what to say? Have others asked for your critique or have you simply wanted to improve your critiquing skills?

That’s what this guide is for! I’ll be going over the general steps that need to be taken along with tips on how to do them.

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10 Signs Your Book Is Ready To Come Out Of You #MondayBlogs #ASMSG #Writing — BlondeWriteMore

I have experienced many challenging writer situations in my time; getting so emotional whilst writing the death of a character that I could no longer see the laptop screen, failing to control my obsession with clichés, struggling to keep a lid on a fictional character crush and fighting a powerful urge to dance in the […]

via 10 Signs Your Book Is Ready To Come Out Of You #MondayBlogs #ASMSG #Writing — BlondeWriteMore

Re-blogging this entertaining post from a great blogger.

A List of Things That Don’t Make You A Writer

Gabino Iglesias nails it…
Follow the blue click road, and read.


When I moved to Austin, I was surprised to learn that every guy and gal hanging out at a coffee shop was a novelist, every barista was sitting on a few truly outstanding, and unpublished, literary masterpieces, and everyone with a beard, a bike or a flowery skirt was either a great poet, the next Flannery O’Connor or the creator of the most amazing movie script in the history of scripts. It took me a week to figure out it was all bullshit. Then I learned that it’s even worse online. To help you figure it out faster, and to clarify things for all the “writers” out there, here’s a list of things that don’t make you a writer:

  1. Owning a laptop.
  2. Going to a coffee shop.
  3. Owning a cat.
  4. Putting the word author in your Twitter bio.
  5. Drinking/talking about/enjoying coffee.
  6. Living next to a university.
  7. Hanging out with writers.

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If Toffee Could Talk…

“Hey, Mum. I can’t get inside. There’s this orange meshy thing across it. Lift me over, please?”

“Hey Mum, look. I’ve climbed over the orange thingy across the door! Aren’t you glad? Can I have a cuddle?

“Hey, Mum? There’s a big flat sheet of wood across the door. I can’t climb it. Lift me over for a cuddle, please?”

“Hey, Mum, look! I jumped over the wood! I’m so proud of myself. Aren’t you? Can I have a cuddle?”

“Hey, Mum! I managed to get through the cat door, and find you. I’m so happy to see you! Can I have a cuddle?

“Hey, Mum! I like my new house on the porch! Come out and give me a cuddle?

“Hi, Mum. Let’s just sit here while you do that smoky thing. Then we can go for a walk, yeah?”

“Hey, Mum, there’s a weird animal over the road, making loud shouts at  me, Can I walk right beside you?

“Hey, Mum, I stopped at the kerb, like you wanted. Will you be telling me ‘Toffee…Run home!’ today?”

“Hey, Mum. I beat you home. Can I have a cuddle now, or a treat?”

“Hey Mum? Someone shouted ‘Toffee, run home,’ and I did – but you’re here. So who shouted? And can I have a treat? Or a cuddle?”

“Hey, Mum…I did what you said. I went up the steps and waited on the platform, Thanks for the treat!”

“Hey, Mum. I climbed the steps like you said. But there’s only one treat. Can we go for a run?”

“Okay, Mum, I’m not climbing the steps for just one treat! Can I chase the cat instead?”

“Hey Mum, why is he building a higher fence around my yard? Shall we sit together and watch him, and have a cuddle?

“Hey, Mum. I can see he’s left a gap. I could get through that. Can you take my chain off, please?

“Hey, Mum…my paw’s hurt. There’s red stuff all over my blankets. Can I have a cuddle?”

“Mum! That’s water! You know I don’t like water! Let go of my collar, Now!”

“Mum, what’s this blue thing that man put around my paw? Can I take it off?”

Mum, I got the bigger blue thing off. I’m going to pull the little black things out.”

“Hey Mum. I can’t get this thick white thing off.”

“Morning, Mum. It’s so cold, and I’m too tired to wake up for breakfast. I’ll just sleep a bit longer.”

 “Hey, Mum. Don’t cry. I just could not wake up this morning. It was too cold. It’s not your fault, Mum. I’ll see you, later, and we can have a cuddle.. Don’t cry.”

Written as a “quick-write” exercise at Rotorua Writers Group, then extended. The starter was “If your pet could talk, what would s/he say to you. Toffee was my basenji, and my favourite of all pour family dog’s, as he was mine. Died 2016. Much missed


P, Meth, call it what you like…

…the stuff needs more chemistry and electronics whiz-kids to come together.

It’s a shit substance, cooked up illegally and immorally by ass-holes, sold illegally and immorally by ass-holes, bought illegally and immorally by muck-witted idiots, smoked illegally and immorally by muck-witted idiots –who include sick-minded parents of children suffering what amounts to child abuse.

The a-holes who cook it leave toxic residue in the “labs”. This residue sticks around, affecting any who come to live in the place after the “cooks” have moved on to ruin some other property.

Rental properties, in which the “cooks” have no vested interest, are the most common “kitchen”. But a rental, after the cooks have shifted out, may be in no condition to be re-leased to new tenants. The property will need checking, registering as a contaminated building, decontaminating (and sometimes extensive repairing), and re-testing to a safe standard before the landlord can rent it out again. Some properties cannot be made safe, and have to be demolished. In some countries, rental property insurance will not cover P contamination’s financial losses, as they are due to illegal activity.

But the property owner is not the only victim, or loser. The whole community is affected in some way, as during the fix up period prospective tenants, including homeless or low income families, have reduced chances of finding a place to rent.

So…where do our chemists and electronic technicians come in to this? If you’re in one of those fields, now I’m talking to you.

For the love of god, would you please partner up with someone in that other field, and come up with an invention for a specialised gadget?

It should, at the very least…

  • Work like a smoke alarm
  • Recognise/Detect methamphetamine in the air of a “kitchen”
  • On recognition of meth, send an electronic alarm to the landlord
  • Be obvious to the tenant – a proactive deterrent
  • Be tamper-proof, physically, or send a “tampering” signal
  • Be proofed against scrambling or blocking its wireless signals

Who’s going to fund the development of your gadget? Think insurance companies, landlord consortiums, government housing departments…
Who’s going to benefit from your gadget? Think landlords, tenancy agencies, new tenants, child health agencies, drug police, government… If you’re smart enough to have earned your degree, you’re smart enough to see the potential. You’re smart enough to find the developmental funding.

Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive, powerful stimulant. It produces wakefulness, hyperactivity and a euphoric effect.
Methamphetamine is also known as speed, pure, P, burn, goey, crank, meth, crystal, ice and yaba.
Methamphetamine is manufactured … in clandestine (secret) drug laboratories, known as ‘clan labs’, or imported in crystal form.
here are risks in the process due to the poisonous, explosive, corrosive, toxic and extremely flammable chemicals used.
Exposure to chemicals found in clan labs can cause various symptoms including headaches, watery or burning eyes, nausea, burning skin, coughing or choking, diaphragm pain, feeling of coldness or weakness, shortness of breath or dizziness, decreased cognitive function, vertigo and convulsions.
{ Retrieved May 2017 from…Methamphetamine and the Law }

Depressant drugs include: alcohol, Valium, Xanax, Librium, and barbiturates
Hallucinogenic drugs include LSD, PCP, MDMA (Ecstasy), marijuana, mescaline, and psilocybin.
Opiate drugs include heroin, morphine, codeine, and OxyContin.
Stimulant drugs include: cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, MDMA (Ecstasy), nicotine, and caffeine.
{ The above list and links were found at Villanova University. }

For Landlords— Are you wondering why this should concern you? Then please read these reasons.
In New Zealand there is a commercial service which monitors your property and reports to you,.
If  you decide you would prefer to have a monitoring and reporting service working for you, protecting your property investment, check out the NZ developed gadget MethMinder, at Meth Solutions.
Their Meth-Minder device comes in three “packages”, the cheapest of which is the Short Term Protection Package, at $59.95 per month ($13.83 / week).
This includes property monitoring & device lease for a 12 month minimum term. Their central control room monitors all installed devices, and depending on the device readings, either calls the landlord, or immediately calls the Police.
There is a set up and installation fee, and baseline meth testing is carried out.
This is suited to a landlord without the confidence to receive the warnings at home.
All prices are GST inclusive and include a3 Year Warranty.
Read the company’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I welcome comments about other, similar, rental property
Meth detection and reporting in any country reading this.

Disclaimer: This site cannot be responsible for verification
of links posted in such comments.



“Yarp, Yarp, Yarp” – Mother-in-law bird

Some people get a “bee in their bonnet”;

Borrowed from

I have a bird on the brain.


It’s a bird I first heard while up in the hill farmland over Hawkes Bay, long before I saw it. It has a distinctive call. ‘Yarp, yarp, yarp, yarp…’ I asked one of the local farmers about it. He named it the ‘Mother-In-Law’ bird – really, the Spur-Wing Plover.

The farming community did not approve of it, as it is a ground nesting bird, making its scrape in the centre of an open space. It is also extremely protective of its scrape, at which one partner of the other is always in attendance, if not covering the clutch of eggs.

If any person or farm beast approaches too closely, they will rise and swoop ferociously at the intruder,  screaming, and trying to rake their spurs – complete with poison glands – across any part they can swipe over.

I saw a couple in Palmerston North, in the front grounds of the Research complex. For weeks they strutted around their scrape. Staff there mentioned how the groundkeeper never mowed their real estate, leaving them a wide berth. One Monday morning, there was only one. I learned from a scientist there that they mate for life, and if one is killed, the other will stay around their site for years before giving up. I would see the lone mate on the peak of the roof, and hear it calling to its spouse. I fell in love with the bird, right then.

The next time I saw them was in Masterton, in a new housing area on what had been a football club’s ground. I left the car to move closer to the scrape, over which the pair were already wheeling. And, yes, they swept over towards me. They didn’t rake me – I’d lowered my head, and turned back to the car.

Now in Rotorua, I’ve heard a pair flying over our house during the evening, just around sun down, every autumn.

‘Yarp, yarp, yarp, yarp…’ I love their call. It’s as if one is calling to the other ‘Come on, I’m taking you home’, while the spouse calls back ‘I’m coming, I’m coming’.

20170523_124346I know where they go. I’ve seen their scrape one year, in an open green space between a clothing outlet and a large hotel. The space is so wide, truckers have, in summer, parked their rigs there for the public to see them up close, and rides are given to special children.

20170523_124438Last year, I didn’t see the Plovers – only their abandoned scrape, after a week-end’s ‘paddock bashing’ by hoons spinning across their nesting site that autumn. I only saw the mess of their scrape – two shattered shells, abandoned.

The marks of their tyres are still there now, along with the marks of a go-cart, being ridden by a child under Dad’s supervision, during summer when the plovers would have been back in farmland.

2017-05-23 12.51.44Today I caught some pictures of the couple.
They seem to have chosen a nesting site a little
closer to the hotel, but still with a
clear space for lookout duty all around them.

They may start their family.


That is a freaking CAT prowling around!

They may get through the autumn and winter
without being disturbed, or killed. I hope so.




For better images than mine, visit the New Zealand Birds Online site… and learn more about this raucous couple.



Cole’s Funny Picture Book 1

Cole was a book dealer in Melbourne, whose “Book Arcade” was the biggest book outlet of its day.

Cole published two Picture Books for children, and one included a section titled Smoking Land (among other sections titles as, for example, Naughty Girls, Boys’ Names, Puppy Land, School Land…).

The Gutenberg Press has converted the Coles Funny Picture Book 1; from this I rediscovered some of the (now, fairly horrendous) rhymes written for children in 1879.