Friday, May 25, 2012

Grammar - Pet Peeves Sound-off
The verbal fisticuffs started with a simple comment. The writer expressed her chagrin at an author’s persistent use of the non-word “irregardless,” and the battle was on: "irregardless" vs "regardless, "altogether" vs "all together." Several rounds involved dialect as opposed to "proper" English. There was even some sparring over the use of slang as opposed to "ordinary" language. Accusations flew, suggesting those who clung more strictly to a Strunk and White version of grammar were elitist.  

This battle was waged on a recent LinkedIn discussion. Shortly after it began, I offered a comment or two then sat back and followed as new remarks were added day after day after day. At last count, there were seventy-six comments added to the thread, enough to weave a virtual rope. The influx has finally tapered off, but the debate still continues and, no doubt, always will.  

What constitutes proper grammar is a topic that may rank right up there with religion and politics. The word alone elicits moans and groans. It causes eyes to roll and eyebrows to arch. It almost invariably causes conflict.
Like everyone else, I've got personal pet peeves when it comes to grammar. Here’s an example of something that makes me cringe: He poured himself a cup of coffee. Arrrrgh! That and countless other variations of it make their way into writing every day. In actuality, he didn't pour himself; he poured a cup of coffee for himself. Do I understand the meaning of the first version? Sure I do, but the writer might just as well write: Throw me down the stairs my shoes. Frankly, I don't want to read that either. 

I think we, as writers, should be aware of and use “proper” grammar when it’s appropriate. On the other hand, I think fiction writing has its own set of ground rules. Weird analogy or not, like a centerline down a highway, I see quotation marks as the indicators of what we are and aren’t allowed to do in that regard. Unless it's first-person narration, anything outside quotation marks needs to adhere to proper usage. As for anything inside quotation marks, whether it's slang, dialect, or dropping 'g's, whatever your characters choose to say, however they choose to say it, anything goes, because it’s the writer’s job to make dialogue sound natural no matter how grammatically incorrect it may be. It just has to be kept in line with the character's background, education and personality.  

Let me share a laugh aimed at grammarians everywhere. This is from a birthday card I received from a good friend and member of my critique group. Picture two women chatting at a table.

First woman: "Where's your birthday party at?"
Second woman: "Don't end a sentence with a preposition."
First woman: "Okay. Where's your birthday party at, bitch?"

What are YOUR pet grammar peeves? Post them here. Let’s hear 'em!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Self-Promotion Sucks
I'm sorry, but it does, doesn't it? Here I sit with my fingers worn down to nubs, callouses forming on my fingertips while I try to increase exposure for my novel Dear Crossing. Okay, so I exaggerate ... a little.

Not everyone who stops by here is a writer, but for those of you who are, you know what I'm talking about. If you're like me, you're working as hard as you ever have, glued all the while to your computer chair--no physical activity except for drinking quarts of coffee and running back and forth to the restroom to make room for more. *I haven't swept the floor, or vaccumed the carpeting in longer than I care to admit. Clean dishes are still sitting in the dishwasher, and the dust is getting so thick that, soon, my cats' paw prints will be visible on the window sills. (Okay, I've already admitted I exaggerate--not so much about that last part, though.) Guys, I'm sure you have your own list of "masculine" chores you've been neglecting as well. (Politically incorrect? Oops, sorry!)

Worst of all is that I haven't done any writing for... for... Well, for so long I've forgotten the last time I did that. Oh, I've been writing, all right: blogs, socializing on a number of social networks, requesting book reviews. But I can't seem to get down to work on the writing that I want to do most--my own. Sound familiar?

I'm convinced that publishing a book--like prescription drugs--has side effects. (*See above) At least it does if you're taking it seriously, and who of us doesn't? Twitter. Facebook. Amazon. LinkedIn. Goodreads. The list goes on and on. All good. All a help to writers, but--dare I use the term--necessary evils? Do we need them? Oh, yes! Do they take up a lot of our limited personal writing time? Uh-huh. Could we succeed without them? Doubtful. Do I have a solution? Heck, no! I'm just grumbling and offering a shoulder to cry on. (Yes, I know better than to end a sentence in a preposition. Ignore that. Normally, I talk real good English. LOL)

So, what's the point of all this. Well, first of all it helped me blow off a little steam. Secondly, I do have a bit of helpful advice for writers who aren't already aware of this.

If you're looking for book reviewers, go to Indiebookreviewer. 'Nuf said. You'll see.

As for each of those reviewers, God bless them. Whether they accept a request or not, they deserve a big hand for lending a hand.  

If you'd like to share your experience with self-promotion, have some advice of your own, or just feel like blowing off some steam like me, feel free to leave a comment for the rest of us. We'd like to hear from you.

See you next time! Write on!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Divine Intervention
Okay, divine might be going a bit overboard, but I feel like I just spent time with my guardian angel.If he reads this, his face will probably flush a bright red because he's a humble, "Aw, shucks" kind of guy. But what else would you call a man who willingly (no, no kidding ... willingly) undertook the chore of formatting your e-book, created a .mobi file and, on more than one grueling occasion, walked you through finally getting your book into print? Tonight he added another feat to his accomplishments. He helped me create a more visually appealing blog site. Those of you who were good enough to read my debut blog last week know what an improvement this is. The original had all the appeal of a slab of wet cardboard. (You can see I'm not done yet, but thanks to him, it's no longer an eyesore.)

Impressed? Well, hold onto your britches; I'm not done. All that would be remarkable enough if I had a hint what I was doing, but uh-uh, I was the poster child for "Clueless".  With his help I've gotten better but it's painfully slow going. (My fault not his.) For me, writing is a cinch compared to all the computer-related hoops I'm learning to jump through to let readers know I've written a darned good book I'd like them to read. Still, he never raised his voice or stopped smiling. (Or was that snarling? No ... I'm pretty sure it wasn't--90% certain anyhow.) Regardless, if he ever had thoughts about where he could hide my body, he never let it show.

By now every female reading this knows I'm probably not talking about my husband. (Love you, honey!) After all, that kind of patience usually fades away almost as fast as the last echo of the wedding vows leaves the church. (I'm a kidder. I'm really not all that cynical.)

Now pay attention; I'm about to divulge this man's identity. (I feel like I'm about to unmask the Lone Ranger here.) I've been talking about Darren Kirby. He's married to his highschool sweetheart Amy. (Great taste, Darren!)  Not only does he work full-time, he's in training to run a marathon in the near future, plus he's a writer, too. And a terrific one at that!

Darren recently released his novella, Coordinates for Murder, a chilling story of two friends whose geocaching adventure turns into a struggle for survival as they face a vicious man known only as the Woodsman. Check it out! If you hurry, you can sign up to win a free copy on Goodreads.

I just wanted to let Darren know how terrific he is. And having done that, I realize I also owe him for providing me with material for my second blog! Is there no stopping this guy?

If there's someone you'd like to thank for similar help along the way, feel free to do that right here on my blog ... or in a blog of your own. It doesn't matter where or how you tell them, just do it! (Hey, I sound like a Nike ad.)

See you next time!