Grammar Manners Matter

Exemplary Behavior – by Horatio Henry Couldery (1832-1893)

 

Having and using good manners will always be important to me. Although I don’t feed my dogs at the table, I couldn’t help admiring the good manners displayed by the dogs in this painting.

My old “Good Manners for All Occasions” says it’s polite for the man to open the door for the lady, and for that matter, for any younger person to open it for the older one. This custom is considered to be polite, but in the penguin world, letting someone else go first is based on survival.

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Penguins stand in a line at the edge of the ice, ready to go for a dip in the ocean for a bit of fishing. Who will test the waters first? The crowd gathers at the water’s edge jostling each other until finally, one of them falls in. If he isn’t attacked by a lurking leopard seal in the next few moments, the rest of the penguins dive in.

But surely, we humans have evolved from these primitive, yet effective, tactics. We now consider it polite to allow others to go first. We offer others the first choice from the food platter, even though it occasionally backfires on us.

This was the case when at dinner, Joe passed the meat platter to his brother Bob first before helping himself. When Joe complained because Bob took the biggest piece, Bob asked, “What would you have done?”

Joe sniffed. “I would have taken the smaller piece, of course.”

“Well, you have it,” Bob said. “So what’s the problem?”

*****

In spite of these odd cases, modern society generally agrees that we should let others go first. And so it is with grammar.

We name the other person(s) first and then ourselves. If it is that simple, why is it still such a problem in our writing?

Following are some tips and guidelines.

When naming others first, we would not begin a sentence with: Me and Joe, Me and him, Me and her, I and Joe.

Okay, we know we should name Joe first, but even so, is it Him and me, Joe and me, or Joe and I?

Let’s look at some sample sentences where you and Joe are the subjects of the verb. Here are the possibilities:

Joe and me / Joe and I / Him and me / Him and I / He and me / He and I / drove to town.

 

When in doubt, leave Joe out. Without Joe in the car, you are in the driver’s seat and of course you would say “I drove to town” not “Me drove to town.” When you take on that extra passenger, if you need to get the feel of whether it’s Joe or him or he, try leaving yourself out. “Joe drove to town” or “Him drove to town” or “He drove to town”?

“Him drove to town” simply does not work, so you can use either “Joe” or He.”

*****

I’m still shocked when I see sentences like “Me and him went to the party.” You would never say “Me went to the party” or “Him went to the party,” so why would you say “Me and him” or even “Him and me” (went to the party)? Same goes for “She” and “Her.”

And now we come to the other situation where you and Joe are the objects of the verb. Which is correct? The sun shone on:

me and Joe

Joe and me

Joe and I

him and me

him and I

he and I

First rule is to mention others first so that narrows it down to Joe/him/he and me/I. Second, leave out me/I and we have “The sun shone on Joe (or him).” Then leave out Joe and we have “The sun shone on me” (you wouldn’t say “I”). So together we have “The sun shone on Joe/him and me.” Better yet, say “The sun shone on us.”

Now may the sun shine on your grammar and mine.

Anneli new footer c

 

Big E-book Sale!

All through July you can get my four novels at bargain prices through Smashwords.com.

This reliable company can provide you with e-books whether you have a Kindle, Nook, Sony, or Kobo, and most likely any other that I haven’t thought of.

For each book, click on the link under the cover image and you can download your half-price book. The Wind Weeps is still FREE, and the other three are $1.50 each. What a bargain that is! Just enter the coupon code SSW50 for each one at the checkout.

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/560503

eBOOK_ORIONS_GIFT

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Over the Moon about June and her New Book

My guest is June Moonbridge.

J.Moonbridge aka P.RovereAbout the author:
June was born in June and she always loved the moon. She comes from Slovenia, a country which got its independence almost three decades ago.

She studied economics, and quickly realized she hated it. Afterwards, she found herself working in  mainly male-dominated businesses; at first in automotive and later steel products. She can choose the best steel for your project, but don’t, please don’t, ask her which lipstick brand you should use.

She started to write in high school and was criticized by her teacher. Stubborn as she is, that didn’t stop her. Under different pen names, she had stories published in magazines, and then went on to publish three books.

After having two children, and learning that her second child has autism, she married their father and carried on working. Work and family life left her with little free time. But the desire to write didn’t die. When life somehow sorted itself out, she decided to write a novel in English and her first submissions were rejected.

For what happened then, re-read the third paragraph, second sentence above.

***

If you’re like most readers, you like to know what you’re getting into, so have a look at the “blurb” on the back cover of June’s new book.

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Here is an excerpt:

…It took most of my strength to get out of bed. Although I spotted my shoes by the bed, I stayed barefooted. While still feeling dizzy, the previous evening came back slowly to me. I started to count how many glasses of champagne I’d had, but it was just too much for me to remember.

Looking around the room again, I tried to think where I was. How had I got here? Who’d undressed me? My eyes stopped on the bed I’d slept in. It was messy, but not only on the side where I slept, but on the other too.

A name finally surfaced from my heavy head. Lorcan. I’d left the Crest Charity Ball with him. The next question that came to my mind was: Where the hell is Harry? Why didn’t he come to get me? He knew who accompanied me when I left.

Seeing myself in the mirror made me grimace. I tried to get my hair sorted at least, and I started to comb it with my hands but it was far too knotty. So I picked up a ribbon that I’d had in my hair the previous night and made myself a firm knot at the base of my neck. I felt a little better, but the taste in my mouth was awful and I was still unaware of where I was or what time it was.

I could hear someone talking on the other side of the door: Harry and Lorcan. How much conversation I’d missed I didn’t know.

“I don’t understand,” I heard Harry say. Lorcan answered him with a question.

“What?”

“I don’t understand how she fell asleep in the car. She drank two, maybe three glasses of champagne … Alright, there was that glass of brandy in the car…”

“What? How much?”

“She drank a glass of brandy in the car and those two glasses at the table…” Harry’s voice was a little broken. And then silence again. I wondered myself how much I’d drunk and was unable to recollect, but was pretty sure I drank a lot more than Harry said. The painful throbbing in my head was proof of that.

“From the moment I arrived, she drank at least six glasses of champagne. How much she had drunk before—I’m not sure. The last one…”

“What did you say?”

I could just imagine the astonished expression on Harry’s face. I sighed. The men didn’t know I was awake or that I was listening to their conversation.

“You heard me. It looks like she’s not accustomed to heavy drinking. So what made her drink?” Lorcan’s voice was calm.

Silence again. I started to wonder if Harry would tell him what was going on in our life to make me behave the way I did. So much was going on, not least Lorcan Shore!

“I’m not the one to tell you. She’ll have to tell you herself. If she wants to.” I had a hard job hearing Harry’s quietly spoken voice. “What I think is … and don’t misunderstand me … but getting involved with you doesn’t help her at all. We’ll solve her problems alone.”

I realised we were on a slippery slope. I had to stop myself from entering the sitting room.

“What problems?” The tone of Lorcan’s voice changed. I didn’t like it. No one liked to hear that someone had problems…

***

You can buy June’s books here:

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FW23QTC

Learning to Love

I have a lovely guest author on my blog today. Sheryl Browne from the UK is here to tell us all about her latest release, “Learning to Love.” Speaking of love, you can only tell that Sheryl loves her dogs, and anyone who loves dogs is okay by me. But while I love dogs, too, I really love Sheryl’s books. They have me chuckling to myself and feeling for the characters until they get their happy ending. For an enjoyable read, you can’t go wrong with any of Sheryl’s books.

Sheryl and Dogs Photo

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Sometimes help comes from the most unlikely places …

Living in a small village like Hibberton, it’s expected that your neighbours help you in a time of need. But when Andrea Kelly’s house burns down, taking all her earthly possessions with it, it’s the distant and aloof Doctor David Adams – the person she would least expect – who opens his door not just to her, but to her three kids and slightly dotty elderly mother as well.

Andrea needs all the help she can get, dealing with aftermath of the fire and the suspicious absence of her husband, Jonathan. But, as she gets to know David and his troubled son, Jake, she begins to realise that maybe they need her help as much as she needs theirs …

~~~

You may have gathered, Learning to love is here! Could it have ever found a more perfect home than with Choc Lit, where heroes are like Chocolate: irresistible? Could it have ever found a more beautiful cover?

Would you like to see the video?

https://youtu.be/h5qbZycC8y4

 

Read a brief excerpt? The good doctor, it seems, has some explaining to do:

‘Were you ever going to mention you’d slept with her, David?’

‘Yes,’ David said quickly. ‘Of course, I was. I just …’

‘Wanted to choose the right moment?’

David exhaled slowly. ‘I suppose.’

Andrea nodded thoughtfully. ‘And that right moment was obviously going to be after you’d had sex with me, wasn’t it, David?’ She kept it clinical, purely physical. It hurt less that way.

‘No!’ David locked alarmed eyes with hers. ‘I mean, I didn’t think we … Jesus, Andrea, what happened between us wasn’t about sex. You must know how I feel.’

‘I don’t know how you feel, David, do I? I don’t know you, other than what you’ve told me.’

David looked at her levelly. ‘The truth.’

‘The truth?’ Andrea was really incredulous now. ‘Apart from the one or two inconsequential little things you forgot to tell me? Or was it more than that, David? Three? Four? A hundred?’

‘Two! Twice. Bloody hell, Andrea …’

And that made it all right? She forced back the tears she desperately didn’t want to cry in front of him, again. ‘And I thought Jonathan was being devious. You take the biscuit, David, you really do.’ Shaking her head, Andrea moved to walk past him.

So were the enigmatic doctor’s explanations good enough? Does he deserve a chance to love again? Does Andrea? Does Dougal?

Yorkie

LTL Sky Tree RTB

Tempted? Even I am, having read some of the gorgeous pre-release reviews.

You can grab your copy here: Amazon

Thank you so much, Anneli, for featuring me on your lovely blog. Thank you too to all those readers and bookbloggers whose support is tremendously appreciated. The road to publication can sometimes be a little bit bumpy. Without you, I might still be languishing down the potholes.

For anyone kind enough to purchase the book, I would love your feedback. Because, at the end of the day, the fate of Doctor Adams is in the hands of the reader.

Keep safe all!

Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you sassy, sexy, heart-wrenching fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon US | Pinterest

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Choc Lit | Romantic Novelists’ Association

 

To be or not to be ….

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The verb “to be” has been causing trouble since Shakespeare’s time and possibly even longer.

I became aware of the potential damage this verb could cause when I joined the local writers’ club, many years ago. The authors in this group provide mutual help and support. Part of each meeting is devoted to readings. Writers may read a sample of their work and have it critiqued by the other members.

I had worked on a little story that I thought was not bad, so I volunteered to read it. My hands shook and my face turned bright red as I stammered through two pages of writing. Nervously, I awaited the critiquing. I was shocked to hear that all my writing and rewriting and polishing was still lacking, and, swallowing lumps of misplaced pride in my work, I began to learn how to write.

I will never forget that first critiquing comment. “Right at the beginning, you used the words ‘there were.’”

Yes, I thought. What’s wrong with that?

“You should avoid the verb ‘to be’ if at all possible.”

This was new to me. Wasn’t “to be” the most basic of verbs? Why not use it?

I didn’t volunteer to read aloud for the group again for a long, long time—it took a while to regain my confidence—but I listened carefully and made notes when others had their work critiqued. I learned SO much! I am still learning every day.

Today, I’d like to share with you what I found out about using “to be.”

It’s not that there is anything wrong with “to be” in all its forms and tenses; the problem is that when you use it, you’re not using anything better. “To be” is rather static, inactive, and boring. Most sentences using this weak verb can be rephrased to become much more interesting, and, if not action-packed, at least not comatose.

Let’s take some examples:

Before:

There were about a hundred people in the street.

Now, imagine the scene. Surely these one hundred people were not simply standing limply in the street. I have to come up with a good strong verb; one that is active, or makes us feel that action is imminent.

After:

In the street, one hundred people … milled around, shook their fists, threw rocks (choose one of many possibilities)….

Or maybe: One hundred people shouted for justice in the street.

Before:

A cat was in the yard.

After:

A stray cay slunk across the yard.

In each case, by shuffling the words around, we added action and interest.

Naturally, we sometimes need to use the verb “to be,” but when you are writing, be aware of it in its many forms and, if possible, try to substitute a stronger, more active verb.

Here are some of the variations of “to be”: is, are, am, was, were, have been, has been, had been, will be, was being, were being.

Next time you’re writing, look back at a section of your work and mark all the cases of the verb “to be.” Then see if you can find a way to improve the text by exchanging “to be” for a stronger verb. You may have to do some re-arranging of words and phrases, but in the end, it will probably make your story sing where previously it only droned.

 

Desert Camping, Hot Love

While camping in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, I noticed a woman sitting alone in a van parked near the beach. I never saw her get out of her vehicle. She sat in the driver’s seat most of the time, listening to audio tapes and chain smoking cigarettes.

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The beach was beautiful, the sun shone every day, the water was clear and inviting, the place was a paradise. Why would she not get out and inhale that fresh air, go for a walk or a swim, or enjoy this little bit of heaven? I certainly did.

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It puzzled me and I wondered what her story was. Her plates said San Diego. I mulled over many scenarios. Why was she alone? Why did she never get out of her van? Was she trying to kill herself with the first and secondhand smoke in the enclosed vehicle?

The seeds  of a novel were germinating in my head. A California girl comes to Baja alone. But why? I would make her health-minded, young, and beautiful. Yes, the character was taking shape in my head.

palapa 2

She would need to find a love interest, but who would be down here on his own and why? Men come to Baja alone, looking for … something ….

Each of the characters had good reasons for being on the run, but would that interfere with them starting a new relationship? What if the attraction was so strong, they couldn’t resist?

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But what if their past troubles are coming after them? Will the new lovers stick together? Will they panic, split, and run to escape their pursuers? And what about that drug runner who is out for revenge for a slight on the road?

sunset at La Perla

Life could be so perfect, if only those nasty people from their past weren’t coming after them.

For a gripping story of love and suspense wrapped up in a Baja adventure, why not spend a big $2.99 and download Orion’s Gift from amazon.com or smashwords.com today?

Cover design for Orion’s Gift is by Anita B. Carroll. Thank you, Anita for a great cover image. You can contact Anita at anita@race-point.com

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Why Hire a Copy Editor?

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You have an amazing story to tell. Aunt Mary says, “Why don’t you write a book about it, dear?” So you do, and you rush to self-publish your first book just the way thousands of authors are doing these days.

But, wait!

You may feel you’ve just written the next bestselling novel, but the truth is, most first novels are full of errors.

When you rewrite the first draft (and the second and third, and so on) except for small improvements your work will still have weak sections. You can’t fix something if you don’t know what is wrong. At some point you will need outside help. Even experienced authors benefit from an impartial eye, so that help should not come from your loving Aunt Mary. Support, yes, but writing advice, no. Not unless she’s a successful author herself.

Have you taken the time to go to a writing conference or join a writers’ group? If you have ever had your writing analyzed by an expert, you were most likely shocked by their comments. You had no idea there was still so much to learn about writing. Taking a course in creative writing, joining a local writers’ group, going to writing conferences, and reading some of the many books on writing can teach you techniques for making your novel a success. You will pick up writing tips and learn how to structure a novel.

After you’ve rewritten your novel employing all your newfound knowledge, you may think you are ready to publish. Not so. This is the most dangerous stage, where many writers become impatient and “just want to get it published.”

Take a step back. You have a wonderful plot and you’ve told the story in a way that makes the reader want to turn the pages, but you can ruin it all by publishing before it is ready. Some people say poor editing doesn’t make them stop reading. Does that mean they don’t care about the fine craft of writing? If they will read anything, regardless of quality, perhaps they will write without quality too. Not something worthy of much respect.

Imagine you are going to a job interview. Would you present yourself before the interviewer  with your hair scraggly and unwashed, wearing a beautiful brand new outfit and dirty old sneakers? Would you think it doesn’t matter because you know you’re a great person inside?  I can guarantee you won’t make a good impression. The interviewer will have nothing good to say about you. He is judging you by what he sees.

And so it will be with your book. If you want the readers to love it and recommend it to others, don’t publish it if it hasn’t been cleaned up. And I don’t mean a quick read through by Aunt Mary who declared it the best thing she’d ever read. Even that friend with a college degree who pointed out some grammatical things and a spelling mistake is not going to catch everything. Get your book professionally copy-edited and publish quality work confidently.

If you have not worked at shaping your novel with the help of books, courses, critiquing groups, and workshops, you may need a substantive editor for putting the scenes and events in the best order. Chances are that you are past this stage and feel the book is ready. Don’t hire a proofreader. That won’t do you much good unless you only want spelling, punctuation, and typos fixed, but a good copy editor will check all these things. You pay once and get the benefit of having any mistake or problem pointed out to you.

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Here are some of the things a copy editor will draw your attention to.

  • poorly phrased sentences
  • lack of balance in the sentence (perhaps where the verb at the beginning does not match with the clause or phrase you have added onto the main sentence frame)
  • overused words
  • repeated words within two or three sentences
  • incorrect grammar usage
  • incorrect capitalization
  • misuse of possessives and plurals
  • wrong word meaning
  • punctuation mistakes, especially in the use of dialogue
  • typos, missing words, and repeated words (the the)
  • incorrect information (fact checking)
  • consistency throughout the work (does Jane become Jayne later in the work?)
  • misspelled words (breath or breathe, loath or loathe)
  • misuse of homonyms (peek, peak, or pique)
  • incorrect verb tense (lie, lay, laid, lain, etc.)
  • boring repetition of the same sentence pattern
  • incorrect use of pronouns after a preposition (between him and I? or him and me?)
  • use of clichés that are not part of the dialogue

These mistakes and many more will be drawn to your attention. It’s well worth spending the time and money to have the errors corrected. A good copy editor will help make your writing shine.