They’ve gone ad infinitum….

What does it mean?


The meaning of ad infinitum is ‘to infinity’ or ‘forevermore.’ Ad infinitum and beyond! (Couldn’t resist that one…)


‘Infinitum’ in Latin literally means ‘to infinity.’ The translation from Latin is as is. An early written use of the term is in Jonathan Swift’s ‘On Poetry: A Rhapsody’ in the 17th century.

Improper Use

As ad infinitum is less commonly used in everyday speech, coming across improper use is rare. However, people may use it to express a long period of time. Pedantic though it may sound, this is incorrect; ad infinitum should only be used when referring to a literal forever. However, it sounds great when used sarcastically…

Proper Use

In its context, ad infinitum means ‘for eternity.’ It can also be abbreviated to ‘ad inf.’ Some examples:

‘The human race should continue ad infinitum.’
‘Space goes on ad infinitum.’


What does it mean?

Many of us recognise the Verbatim as the name of a company which produces memory and media storage products. The term act719083ually means ‘word for word,’ or ‘direct quotation.’


Verbatim comes from Medieval Latin, with its earliest recorded use in the late 15th century. It comes from the Latin ‘verbum,’ which, in the singular, means ‘word.’ In the plural, it refers to general speech.

Improper use

‘Verbatim’ is perhaps not as common in everyday speech as some of the other Latin terms we have covered. It is more often used in a formal, scholarly or legal context, therefore improper everyday use is rare.

Proper use

It can be used in any sentence when describing a situation where speech has been copied word for word. It can also be used to describe a person who is able to copy speech or the written word perfectly. Some examples of its use would be:

‘I typed up his dictation verbatim, as requested.’
‘He copied her essay verbatim because he couldn’t write his own.’
‘He can remember and repeat everything you say verbatim. How clever!’

Stay tuned for more Latin expressions in modern use.

Self-publishing: how to get an ISBN number in the UK and the US

ISBNWhat is an ISBN number?                                  

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and every book has one. It is a 13 digit number which uniquely identifies the title, edition and format.

So, how do I get one?

The answer to this question depends on whether you want to register a book in the UK or the United States. To register in the UK, you will need to register with a company called Nielsens. In the US, Bowker are the company you’ll need to approach.

Bowker will sell you a single ISBN number for $125. This sounds pricey, but you can also buy a collection of ISBN numbers in bulk for a lot less. If you do this, the price can go down to less than $1 dollar per number.

Nielsens in the UK will not sell you less than 10 ISBN numbers at a time. It will cost you 125 GBP for ten numbers, which compares very well with a single number in the States! Again, buying ISBN numbers in bulk will save you money, and some packages will bring the price down to less then 1 GBP per book. If you produce a paperback in the UK, you will need to file six library copies with various ISBN agencies around the UK, so bear this in mind when buying.

Buying in bulk sounds like the best option. Would it be wise to have more than one ISBN number?

Yes, for two reasons – 1. if you have self-published or are planning to self publish several books, or 2. if your book(s) are going to be available in more than one format. Each format of your book will need a new ISBN number, whether that be mobipocket, hardback, paperback etc – if it’s a new edition, it will need a new IBSN number. Simple.

We hope this advice was helpful to anybody who may be looking to self-publish. Remember, we ourselves offer a range of services for self-publishers that may be useful. For more information on this, return to our homepage:

How to write a good villain

625063A villain is important to the plot of many stories. This might be a supernatural entity, or a seemingly average Joe with sociopathic tendencies. Which is right for your story? What will give your readers chills? Is your villain charismatic and charming alongside their evilness, or just downright detestable? And most importantly: how can you write these characters effectively?

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when creating your villain.

What kind of villain are you portraying?

Is your villain ‘serial killer evil,’ or evil in the sense that they quietly manipulate and slowly destroy everyone around them? Remember, sometimes the most frightening people in our lives are right under our nose. Shakespeare’s Iago, Lionel Shriver’s Kevin Katchadourian, Julia Davies’ Jill Tyrrel; these villains appear charming, kind and relatively typical to the majority of people around them. Is it obvious to your readers that this character is actually a villain or will it be a secret until the very end when their crimes are revealed? Or will only your characters be in the dark, and your reader in the know all along?

Other types of villain make no secret to anybody of their terrible intentions. Think of The Joker. What about him is so successful? Is it the believability of his character or his audacity? Do you want, for lack of a better term, a more ‘in-yer-face’ villain?

Then we have our supernatural villains, such as Anne Rice’s Lestat. Although he is a vampire, he still has many features of the classic villain; charming, manipulative, self-serving, cold, etc. Don’t neglect your villain’s character just because they are not human, or let the ‘supernatural’ label do all the work. They still have to be gripping and effective.

Think about your favourite villains. What can you learn from them?

Who are your favourite villains and why do you love (or indeed, love to hate them) so much? A powerful villain has an effect on the reader like no other type of character. They are memorable, gripping, unpredictable, and have a tendency to haunt you long after you close the book. But why? Think about what it was about your favourite villains that had you so hooked. Was it their smooth, sociopathic charm? Were they so realistic that they made you think twice about some of the people around you? Or did they simply keep you guessing until the very end?

Born this way?

Like with all characters, think about your villain’s motivations. This is not the same as sympathising with them or justifying their actions. Is it an incurable mental illness that makes them behave the way they do? Did they have a troubled or abusive childhood? Did a traumatic event change them and make them evil? Or were they simply born that way? You might want to watch some crime documentaries for help here, particularly ones with a lot of psychology and behavioural analysis. This can help you on your way to building someone very believable and chilling.

And lastly… don’t be shy.

‘I can’t write this, it’s too horrible. People will think I’m sick! Nobody will want to read this!’

Forget about that. People have a natural morbid fascination, and like to be shocked. Why do you think controversial books sell so well? As long as your villain’s abhorrent actions fit with the character and your plot, you’re good to go. Think about it differently:

‘This is really horrible. If it shocks people, it means my work has made an impact, which is what I set out to do.’

Feel better now?

Have fun writing your villain, but don’t forget to take him or her seriously. Ask yourself questions about how realistic he or she is as you go along; make sure you are remaining true to the character you have created. And don’t let them get too far inside your head…

And vice versa…

854060What does it mean?

Vice versa means, quite literally as you’ll hear it used, ‘the other way round.’


Vice versa is a Latin term. It loosely translates to English as ‘position to turn.’ The first recorded use of it as part of the English language was as early as 1601.

Proper Use

The proper use of ‘vice versa’ is to describe something that is ‘the other way around,’ ‘likewise,’ ‘back to front,’ etc. A few examples would be:

‘She dislikes him, and vice versa.’

‘He got her a present for her birthday, and vice versa.’

‘Elephants can’t walk like humans can, and vice versa.’

Improper Use

Vice versa is used within the English language so commonly that it is rare to hear it misused in terms of meaning. The most common improper use of vice versa is the spelling; it is often misspelt, and mispronounced, ‘visa versa.’ It’s a mistake that’s easy to make in your writing, considering how regularly we hear or read it spelt this way. Be wary of it.

Finding time to write

643023In theory, writers love to write. In reality, it’s much more difficult than that.

Let’s face it: Writing is hard. Not only the act itself, but everything that comes with it; the frustration, distractions, dry spells of ideas and, of course, finding the time. This can often be the most difficult thing at all. Writing takes time; and in this world, none of us have very much of it.

Being a writer takes a great deal of commitment. The fact is, if you want the time to write, you have to make that time. If you wait for a ‘good moment’ to come along, you are going to be waiting for some time. The following are some tips on how to get yourself writing regularly, thus being more productive, and more satisfied with your output.

1. Stop procrastinating.

You might be having trouble finding time to write because you are giving other things that can wait priority. When you get a free couple of hours, thinking, ‘I could write now, but I need to rearrange my bookshelf/tidy my desk/vacuum my car’ isn’t good enough. These are things that can probably wait, and do not need to take priority over your valuable writing time. Making the excuse that you are ‘uninspired’ or ‘not in the mood’ isn’t good enough either. Give yourself a push. Sit down at your computer or notebook and just get started. Once you’ve got a couple of word down, you might find you can’t stop. If your apathy does remain, don’t give up on yourself. You can always try again tomorrow.

2. Start writing every day.

Though it’s certainly easier said than done, one sure-fire way to make sure you are more productive is to get into the habit of writing every day. It doesn’t have to be for long; a few words while you’re having a cup of coffee in the morning, or during your lunch break; whenever you find a spare moment. You might think that having such little time means that it isn’t worth writing anything, but only writing little bits and pieces will soon build up. Alternatively, decide that you are going to set aside half an hour, at the same time every day, to write. Stick to it. It might be hard at first, but a little self-discipline and motivation and you’ll find yourself sitting down at your set time every day automatically. Most importantly, enjoy it

3. Read regularly.

The best writers are the best readers. If you are not reading regularly, how do you expect to expand your vocabulary and pick up new techniques from other authors? Reading will always provide you with inspiration, which will make you want to write. It’s much easier to find time for something when you really want to do it.

4. Rearrange your schedule.

If you go to bed and get up at the same time every day, change it. Either go to bed an hour or so later and give yourself that extra time to write, and, if possible, sleep in for an extra hour in the morning. Or vice versa; go earlier and awaken earlier. Whichever works better. Sleep is important, of course, but small sacrifices and changes to your daily routine may need to be made, if you really want that precious time to write.

5. Don’t tell yourself that if you can’t write thousands of words every day, then it’s not worth writing at all.

This is completely untrue. Just 500 words a day will keep your writing skills sharp, and, every day, you will feel a sense of accomplishment at getting something written. Over time, these small amounts will add up. True, it might not be possible for you to be as productive as somebody who has all the time in the world to write; but just remember, few of us are lucky enough to have that time. Most well-known writers, past and present, had or have day jobs. If they found the time to write their masterpieces, then so can you.

Finding time to write is just as much about making yourself write as it is making yourself want to write. If being a successful writer is your dream, you can’t just wait for the right time. You have to make it happen.

How not to quit smoking – book excerpt


Have nails, need coffin

If I can cope with tough situations without a cigarette, and I get used to that early on, then I can cope with just about anything. Can, will.

If I gave up whilst life was easy and stress free, I might find it easier. I might find it easier to take a step back, take a deep breath. Take a moment. Keep focussed. I’m calm, I just need a cigarette.

I might go a month. A month smoke-free. Life is still low key and low on stress.

What happens when stress comes out of the blue?

What happens when something I wasn’t expecting comes up and bites me on the arse?

What happens when everything hurtles into my life at once and leaves me clinging to my sanity by my fingertips?

I’ll remember how smoking used to help with stress.

I might be an ex-smoker. But just one won’t hurt. One to cope with the stress.

I’ve never had to cope with real stress without a cigarette before.

I take a puff on my friend’s smoke.

I later decide I want more. I apologetically ask a stranger on the street for a cigarette, trying not to wither with guilt and embarrassment as he begrudgingly opens his packet of Marlboro Lights. Not my favourite, but any brand will do right now.

I get home. All evening I’m losing my mind. Cigarettes. Smoke. I want to smoke a ****ing cigarette.

It’ll just be the one packet, I tell myself as I head down the shop. I won’t tell anyone. Just this one, I’ll smoke them slowly, then I’ll give up again. No one needs to know I faltered, had this delightful little moment of weakness. It’ll be my guilty secret. I’ll be smoke free again as soon as this packet is gone.

By the next evening I’ve finished, or am close to finishing, the packet. I’m an addict once more. I’m angry with myself, I’m feeling guilty. I feel worthless for not being able to keep it up. People know I’m smoking again. They smelt it on me. They are disappointed. ‘I mean, it’s your life man, but you were doing so well…’

I’m upset now.

So I buy another packet of cigarettes.

I’m a smoker again.

I’m an addict.

And I’ve been ever since I took that one puff on my friend’s cigarette to chill out.

Hitting The Target

Autographed photo - William Tell - thumbOn camera again today is Aiming True author, Conrad Phillips, describing his life and the events which took him from being a serviceman in World War II to playing the lead role in a prime-time television series. He tells of his many ups and downs, his disastrous first marriage, the William Tell filming injury that prematurely put paid to his acting career, and of the many fascinating characters whom he met along the way.

Conrad also speaks about the time with his second wife Jennie and, in particular, the period during which they bought, restored and ran a tumbledown Scottish hill farm – all on a shoestring. Despite great hardships, they overcome whatever life has to throw at them and come out the other side with an even stronger and closer relationship.

Conrad is being interviewed by Network On Air – click on the link to view this fascinating video.

Other relevant links

Aiming True

Conrad Phillips – autographed photos

A Bolt For Freedom by Jennie Phillips

Skeoch – Our New Life on a Scottish Hill Farm by Jennie Phillips

How do you spot a fake review?

Mouse trap

Don’t get caught by a fake review

Have you ever been ‘persuaded’ to buy a book on the back of its good reviews? If so, you may have fallen prey to the effects of one or more fake reviews which had been placed at the bequest of the author, their publisher or their fans.

But, how can you spot a fake review? There are four main indicators that you may (repeat ‘MAY’) be looking at a phoney review.

1. Date

This is the biggest clue. For most authors, reviews come in dribs and drabs. If someone’s bought a batch of reviews, they’ll appear within a few days of each other – usually around the time of the book’s launch (for added implausibility). Not only that, they’ll all be glowing and uncritical.

2. Similarity

Fake reviews are often ‘spun’. This means that a review is rewritten a number of times with the main words replaced (thesaurus-style). This allows a reviewer with multiple user names to upload as many reviews.

3. Vagueness

If you’re writing a review, even if you’ve no experience of doing one, you’re going to praise or carp about at least one specific aspect of the book. Someone who’s writing a fake review won’t have had time to read it so their review will be woolly and ‘general’ – 3 to 4 sentences which could easily have been written about any title.

4. Plot summary

Does the review sound more like the back cover? If so, it may well be that it’s the author behind it. This type of review is the exact opposite of the last one but put the two together and you still won’t have a genuine review!

Like I said, just because a review seems to fall into one of the above categories, it doesn’t make it a fake but it should set off alarm bells in your head. There’s no law against being sceptical or suspicious – those words are just euphemisms for commonsense.


Does anyone miss carbon paper?

Pencil sharpener

A blast from the past

When we think about revolutions in writing, we tend to think about the act of writing itself, that is, the shift from forming letters on a page, to tapping keys and having the letters appear on a screen. It’s a huge difference, of course, and not all positive.

There’s something immensely cosy and romantic about the idea of scratching away with a nib pen by the light of a candle; at least I think so. There’s also some part of the ability to spell which dwells in the hand: it’s easier to spell a word correctly when you drift from one letter to the next in classic joined-up writing.

And yet the speed! The facility for correcting mistakes! We’ve come so far in these departments.

But we tend to overlook what I consider an even more dramatic change: in methods of duplicating.

It started with armies of scribes sitting with bowed heads, writing away with aching wrists as they listening to a text being read out, and woe betide them if they fell behind due to having to erase a mistake with pumice stone.

Then we had printing (a revolution in itself, that), then carbon copies (which are still going, see the BBC article and video), photocopying, scanning, and simplest of all, just pressing the button ‘Copy’ followed by ‘Paste’ to duplicate a document on the same electronic device or another electronic device.

It’s almost too easy. In fact it’s so much too easy that there’s a whole industry in stealing people’s intellectual property.

There’s something to be said for old, safe techniques like making carbon copies, whether it be for restaurant orders, or credit card numbers, or parking tickets. You can keep track of all the copies if you want to, and you don’t get the feeling that you’ve posted your literary gems through a hole into the winds of the universe.

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