Tag Archives: Word

No Neutral Words

Word PowerWord Power

The first summer after I came to the United States my parents sent me to spend the summer on the same farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where my father had spent his summers while growing up.

English: The midway at the Orange County Fair,...

At the end of haying season the farmer took us all for a day away from haying to the county fair. Like most everything those first few months away from my home in the Congo, everything was new, startling and amazing. I had never seen anything like the midway at a county fair.

One of the attractions was called, Power of Sound. I don’t remember what the banners in front of the tent said, but I remember the brilliant colors of: red, silver, gold, yellow, orange and the black of words and objects exploding.

I remember the barker saying something like, “Come in and see what your words look like. – Not the printed letters, but an actual picture of the sound of your words.”

I am sure that he said it in a more irresistible way than that because I paid some of my hard-earned summers pay to go in and see what sounds looked like.

There weren’t many in that tent. None of Clarence’s three sons were interested in that show so I bravely went in alone. Now you have to remember that I was just recently out of the jungle, so to speak, and most things in the civilized world were, if not a little frightening, somewhat intimidating.

Heathkit Oscilloscope OM-2

The showman had some kinds of electronic gadgets and one with a glowing porthole like thing with cross-lines in it. I later learned it was an oscilloscope of some kind.

He started out by telling his audience that all sounds had electronic energy called frequency that could be seen visually on the screen. Even as he talked into the mike the white line moved across the screen.

He played a few notes on a trumpet, fired a cap pistol and each time the line moved differently. He invited people up from the audience and showed how each person’s voice was different.

His final act was to put a wine glass on a stand next to the oscilloscope. A large but attractive woman came out and started to sing. I didn’t much care for what she was singing. It was the opera kind of stuff that my mother liked to listen to on the radio on Saturday afternoons after we got to the States. But on the radio there was usually instrument playing along with the singing.

The woman kept singing, the line on the oscilloscope changed along with her singing. She hit a real high note. The line on the oscilloscope jumped and the glass on the stand shattered.

I walked out of that tent wondering if it was a trick or not, but at the same time aware that the words I speak had a force to them. I have since learned that the shattered glass was not a trick, but was done by the high frequency of the note that woman sang.

I have also learned that there are no neutral words; you are either speaking encouragement or fear. I am a writer, among other things, and like most writers I am pleased when someone likes what I’ve written. Whether or not someone reads what I have written is entirely up to them, but what I say is entirely up to me. The words I speak have an energy to both build up or shatter others and myself and I should be very careful what I say and how I say it.


Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99. – Soon to be available as an audiobook.

Murder Sets Sail  now available from Second Wind Publishing and on AmazonKindle and Nook versions just $4.99,

Body On the Church Steps coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under books, fiction, writing

A Word… or Two

I use Microsoft Office Word 2007 to craft my novels in. It’s user friendly and it has features over the older versions that I just love such as smart spell check.

A fellow author asked me a couple of questions about why Word takes curvy quotation marks and apostrophe’s and makes them straight. I had no idea why it did that but a quick find and replace fixed all of those buggers. Then, we wanted to know why it happened in the first place and how to stop it.

So, here are some helpful tips:


The annoyances

Behavior How to turn it off
#1: Word creates a hyperlink when you type a Web page address. Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options and select the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Under Replace As You Type, deselect the Internet And Network Paths With Hyperlinks check box and click OK.
#2: Word changes capitalization of text as you type it. A host of settings can trigger this behavior. Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options and select the AutoCorrect tab. Here, you can deselect whichever check boxes govern the unwanted actions: 

  • Correct Two Initial Capitals
  • Capitalize First Letter Of Sentences
  • Capitalize First Letter Of Table Cells
  • Capitalize Names Of Days
  • Correct Accidental Use Of Caps Lock Key
#3: Word inserts symbols unexpectedly, such as trademark or copyright characters or even inserts an entire passage of text. Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options and select the AutoCorrect tab. This time, find the Replace Text As You Type check box. Either deselect it to suppress all replacements or select and delete individual items in the list below it.It might make sense to keep the feature enabled and selectively remove items, since the list includes scores of common misspellings that are actually nice to have corrected for you.
#4: Word superscripts your ordinal numbers, such as 1st and 2nd. Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options and click the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Deselect the Ordinals (1st) With Superscript check box and click OK.
#5: Word converts fractions into formatted versions. Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options and click the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Deselect the Fractions (1/2) With Fraction Character option.
#6: Word turns straight apostrophes and quote marks into curly characters. Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options and click the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Deselect the Straight Quotes With Smart Quotes check box and click OK.
#7: When you try to select a few characters within a word, the highlight jumps to select the entire word. Go to Tools | Options and click the Edit tab. In the right column under Editing Options, deselect the When Selecting, Automatically Select Entire Word check box and click OK.
#8: When you type three or more hyphens and press Enter, Word inserts a border line. Go to Tools | AutoFormat and select the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Deselect the Border Lines check box and click OK.A similar option exists for inserting a table, but it’s generally not going to sneak up on you: When the Tables check box is selected, typing a series of hyphens and plus marks before pressing Enter will insert a table (with the hyphens representing cells). You can turn off that option if you think you might stumble into an unwanted table insertion.
#9: Word automatically adds numbers or bullets at the beginning of lines as you type them. There are two flavors of this potential annoyance. First, if you start to type something Word thinks is a bulleted list (using asterisks, say) or type 1, a period, and some text, it may convert what you type to bulleted or numbered list format when you press Enter.To prevent this, go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options and select the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Then, deselect the Automatic Bulleted List and/or Automatic Numbered list check boxes and click OK.A related aspect of this behavior is that once you’re entering automatic list items, pressing Enter will perpetuate it — Word will keep inserting bullets or numbers on each new line. To free yourself from this formatting frenzy, just press Enter a second time, and Word will knock it off.
#10: When you type hyphens, Word inserts an em dash or an en dash. If you type a word, two hyphens, and another word (no spaces), Word will convert the hyphens to an em dash. If you type a space before and after the hyphens, it will convert them to an en dash.To disable this feature, Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options and select the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Deselect the Hyphens (–) With Dash (-) check box and click OK.

Bonus fixes

Word may cause your users some additional grief in various other ways besides automatic behaviors. It goes a little something like this:

User: My document if full of weird code stuff and my pictures are gone.
Culprit: Field code display has been toggled on.
Solution: Suggest that the user press Alt+F9 to restore the display of field code results.

User: I’m seeing gray brackets around a bunch of my text.
Culprit: Bookmark display has been enabled.
Solution: Go to Tools | Options and select the View tab. Then, under the Show options, deselect the Bookmarks check box and click OK.

User: I’m typing and everything in front of the cursor is disappearing.
Culprit: The evil Overtype mode has been activated.
Solution: Go to Tools | Options and select the Edit tab. Then, under Editing Options, deselect the Overtype Mode check box and click OK. (It might be quicker to double-click OVR on the status bar, if you can point the user to it.)

User: Everything’s gone, all my toolbars and menus and everything — there’s nothing here but text.
Culprit: The user has landed in Full Screen view.
Solution: Direct the user’s attention to the Close Full Screen View button at the bottom of the window (depending on the version) or tell them to press Alt+V to display the View menu. They can then select Full Screen to turn off that view mode and return to familiar territory.

Accessing the options in Word 2007

All the settings we’ve discussed here are accessible via the Office button in Word 2007:

  • To get to the AutoCorrect dialog box, click the Office button, select Word Options at the bottom of the menu, and choose Proofing from the pane on the left. In the pane on the right, click the AutoCorrect Options button, and Word will display the AutoCorrect dialog box containing the AutoCorrect and AutoFormat As You Type tabs.
  • To get to editing options, click the Office button, select Word Options at the bottom of the menu, and choose Advanced from the pane on the left. Word will display Editing Options at the top of the pane on the right. In that section, you’ll find the When Selecting, Automatically Select Entire Word check box and the Use Overtype Mode option. If you scroll down to the Show Document Content section, you’ll find the Show Bookmarks check box.
  • The successor to Full Screen view in Word 2007 is Full Screen Reading view. Users shouldn’t get stuck there, but if they do, the Close button in the upper-right corner of the window will take them back to Print Layout view.

~ Claire Collins


Filed under writing

Pens, Paper, and Word – Oh, My

An unprecedented event happened two days ago that made me realize how dependent I am on my technology.

I live in the Deep South, nestled in a small town above a warm lake fed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Our inclement weather usually involves hurricanes and thunderstorms. Most of the time, we coast through the winter complaining that it’s never really winter weather down here during the cold months of the year.

Many a winter holiday, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, see the Deep South populace roaming around in shorts and t-shirts. The most snow that we might see every decade or two would be around a half-inch that quickly melts as soon as the sun rises.

Not this year. Yesterday, December 11, 2008, my daughter called me at six-thirty in the morning to tell me it was snowing. Expecting to see a light dusting of white on the ground, I was stunned to see three inches of snow already with more coming down. Before the day’s end, I had seven inches of snow in my yard.

Excitement quickly turned to dismay with the cracking sounds of snow-laden limbs falling from trees in the neighborhood. In the white stillness, the sounds echoed like rifle shots.

Shortly afterward, the electricity went out. Now, I’m used to the electricity going out during hurricane season, but not during the winter months. This is not supposed to happen, especially when I am trying to finish writing my latest book.

Although I have access to power and Internet right now at my daughter’s apartment, I will have to go home eventually to a darkened and cold house devoid of power and heat.

I realized how very dependent I am on technology. I rely on Word to help correct my erratic spelling errors and I depend on the Internet for research pertaining to my writing.

Most of all, I need power to keep the laptop going so that I can write. It has been a very long time since I have had to write the old-fashioned way. I am not sure if I have a notebook to write in and I do not know if I even have a pen that is not dried up and useless.

Over the last twenty-four hours, I have come to appreciate the authors before me who wrote lengthy novels with only pen and paper or, in older times, quill, ink, and parchment.

J J Dare is the author of “False Positive” and “False World,”

the first two novels in the Joe Daniels’ trilogy

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Filed under life, musings, writing