Sometime over the past year or so I was accused of being a “Grammar Nazi.” I disputed this, and was told: “You ARE, because you’re always picking people up on mistakes.”
I was a bit taken aback at that bald statement, because I absolutely NEVER pick up anyone’s typos and questionable grammar simply for the sake of it. I want that on record here and now, and if you know me, and you really think about it, you’ll know that’s true. Granted, I have been known to find some typos funny, and have pointed out why they amused me; it’s always because they have turned something into a joke. ALWAYS. And I do have a low irritation threshold for careless grammar on public notices, but these people are paid to get it right. I don’t believe that, in all my time on social media (going back to the early 1990s when I first started visiting forums etc) I have ever ridiculed anyone — particularly a friend — for iffy spelling, or dodgy grammar, unless it’s either been funny/ironic, and my comment has been accompanied by all the right smileys, or else they’ve had a pop at me about something and have tripped themselves up during a spat. (Then I’m all over it, because, y’know, why not?)
The reason for this is very simple: I don’t know much about grammar. Surprised? Maybe not! But the thing is, I read a lot, and I write a lot, and I see an awful lot of very clever conversations going on about various parts of speech, and rules pertaining to dangling participles (I don’t even know what they are, but it sounds like something that should be attacked with some sharp scissors and a tube of Germolene.) I can string together the kind of sentence people generally enjoy reading, when I want to; I can write formal letters; I’ve written 8 complete novels and published 6, and I still don’t know what a modifier is, (or even if that’s a grammar thing, but it sounds like one, so I’m going with it!) I know the basics that any primary school-age child knows: yer verbs, adjectives and wotnots, but when you start getting into subjunctives and… see? I can’t even think of another one. Those kind of things make me blink and go, “huh? Yeah, but did you like the story?”
(Knowing the correct form of to/two/too and there/their/they’re isn’t grammar, it’s spelling. I know spelling, mostly.)
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not asking for advice or information about these things, because I actually don’t care. I really don’t. I write by instinct; if something sounds right, I’ll leave it. If it doesn’t, *zzzip* out it comes. But it won’t be because I’ve looked at it and thought: “ooh, that’s a (insert grammarly stuff here) I mustn’t do that.” It’s because I’ve read it and thought, “blimey, that stinks.” I have the Oxford Style Guide to hand for checking things I’m unsure about, and the required style alters between publishers, and even between editors, so I’ll never get it absolutely right. But my point is that instinct is not to be sniffed at; it can work. You don’t have to be a grammar fiend, or an English graduate, to write a good sentence. You just have to read a lot and work out what sounds right.
I just wanted to set the record straight on this whole “You’re a Grammar Nazi” thing, because it’s been burning in the back of my mind since this person, who I used to be quite matey with, (or, with whom I used to be quite matey?!) let me know what she really thinks of me. If you’re thinking: well, actually, she’s right, I want to ask you to think hard about that for a minute. People expect it of me, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. I think you’ll find most writers are so terrified of making mistakes on public posts, because of the glee we know would result, that we wouldn’t dare pick on someone else even if it was in our nature to do it. I pointed this out to my decrier, but it cut no ice. Ho hum.
If you spot any typos and/or grammar mistakes in this post, please feel free to never mention them.
Thanks for reading! As always, comments welcomed either here or on the FB link when it’s posted.
As many of you know, I’ve been gearing up for the event that would have marked the proudest moment in my writing career: the launch of the paperback edition of Maid of Oaklands Manor. However, due to a glitch at the despatch hub, the books were delayed and not marked as event items, so they didn’t arrive at the Waterstones branch where the party was to take place.
At the time I was hugely disappointed — and embarrassed (as they say, pride goeth before a fall) — but once I’d put the word out, and had some lovely responses and encouragement, I stopped being a whinge-bucket and thought about it rationally: it was the party that was cancelled, not the launch, and although there has been some delay, still, in getting the books onto shelves, it WILL be there. Me! My book, my dream, in my favourite shop, for me to grin at whenever I walk past. My beautiful author copies arrived that afternoon, and yes, I cried a bit more.
Clouds, silver linings, all that happy stuff. You know how it goes.
I also received these gorgeous flowers from Piatkus on release day. That was completely unexpected, it was always just something that happened to other people!
So what’s next? Well, I’ve been asked to re-schedule, and I probably will, but of course it will be re-billed as a book-signing event, not a launch party. Which feels a bit pretentious, if I’m honest, but an awful lot of people have said they’d like it to happen, so I’ll swallow this feeling of the faintly ridiculous, and buy myself a new pen. Watch my Twitter and Facebook feeds for dates/times – and if you haven’t followed and/or friended me yet, please do, I’d love to hear from you.
In other news: I’m working on book 2 in The Penhaligon Saga. Book 1 (Penhaligon’s Attic) is with the publisher, and currently has a paperback release date of December 1st. It’s available for pre-order now, but there is no blurb, and no cover, so tread warily! 😉
Also exciting, is that large print and audio rights to Maid of Oaklands Manor were recently picked up by Magna, who are part of Ulverscroft. I hope they’re able to do something with those rights, so stay tuned and I’ll let you know when I hear more.
So while Lizzy is out there doing her thing, the two sequels are trundling along, still being ignored by their publisher, but getting fantastic reviews. I’ve asked about the chance of a print run for them, and basically been told it’ll never happen. Sagas (mine, at least) are apparently destined to be digital-only, and, according to Carina UK, are only worth about £2 each. Ho hum.
One thing is absolutely certain: I’ve learned to never again split a series between two publishers. If the subsequent books in the new Cornish series aren’t picked up by Little, Brown, I will self-publish them. They feature some familiar characters, and will eventually meet up with the Oaklands story once they pass the time frame set out in that series (1917.)
On the — much larger — plus-side: my self-published Lynher Mill series is still being appreciated by its readers, so I’m more than happy there! I still love this series SO much, and I can’t wait to write more of it. I feel a bonus novella coming on 😉
Thanks for reading! As always, I’d love to read your comments, either below or on the FB link.
I have a couple of bits of spiffy (if a tad old) news I’ve just realised I’ve not yet blogged about, but first: why I turned down a three-book deal, and why I don’t feel the slightest twinge of uncertainty that I’ve done the right thing.
My most recent publishers offered me this deal way back this year, and for a day or two I thought my reaction was delight. However, I quickly realised it wasn’t, at all. It was relief that they wanted me to write more, because they liked what I wrote. I still feel gratified, and I’m still pleased to have been asked, but I’ve known for some time that this was utterly the wrong publisher for me, and I’m the wrong writer for them; I don’t fit their ideal list. Not even sideways, squished up, and with a good hard shove. Nope. Not happening.
I think, what I’m getting at here, is that while a three-book deal sounds like the holy grail, if it’s with the wrong people, you WILL regret it, eventually. So tread carefully, do your homework, and check with other authors IN YOUR GENRE who write for the same publisher.
Anyway, that said, I now have a paperback deal with Piatkus Books (part of the Little, Brown Book Group) for my new series, currently known as The Penhaligon Saga. It’s only for the first book in the series, but I would take a single-book contract with this publisher over that 3-book one any day of the week… and not only because the other deal was a digital-only one! I have a new editor, a male one, and I can’t help hoping that’s really going to help with the deeper characterisation of my male protagonists.
Aaaaand, Good News the Second: Daughter of Dark River Farm, the last in the Oaklands Manor series, has been short-listed in the Love Stories Readers Award, in the Best Historical category. This means all three books in the series have now been short-listed in the same category, for the past three years – I can’t adequately express my delight at this! I’m up against some real heavy-weights though, including Saskia Sarginson, who I admire SO much, so I have no illusions that this year will be any more successful than it is now. But the third nomination, for this last book… absolutely bloody magic!
Onward and upward… going to have a launch party in Waterstones next March, for the paperback release of Maid of Oaklands Manor (also with Piatkus Books.) Proper excited!
I’m delighted to have been given the chance to host a cover reveal today, for the fabulous Rebecca Raisin! Her new book, The Little Bookshop on the Seine, (book one in the Little Paris Collection) will be released on October 16th.
The Little Bookshop on the Seine.
Le Vie En Rose
Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?
Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!
Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.
But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…
A deliciously feel-good Christmas romance perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Julia Williams
The Little Paris Collection:
The Little Bookshop on the Seine
The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower
The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées
Also by Rebecca Raisin
The Gingerbread Café trilogy:
Christmas at the Gingerbread Café
Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Café
Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café
The Bookshop on the Corner
Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1LfJJzO
Amazon US http://amzn.to/1KR2Wck
is a bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in various short-story anthologies, and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous men who have brains as well as brawn is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and, most importantly, believe in true, once-in-a-lifetime love.
Follow her on twitter @jaxandwillsmum
Yesterday I sent the last book in The Lynher Mill Chronicles out into the world. Today I went and had a look through the notes I’d made for the first book, The Dust of Ancients. Oh, my word! I don’t remember exactly when I started, but evidently it was prior to 2002, and I suspect it might actually have been in the late 90s. That’s how long this story has been waiting to be told.
This is a short extract, from a notes document that ran to over 41,300 words – and that wasn’t the end of the book, either, I was still puzzling it out at that point! Some of the character names are different, but it was fun to watch the process of the plot being teased out of the mess of ideas I’d been struggling with. (caution: some profanity included in this extract!)
Big emphasis on Westcountry fairy legends…
Main change, introduce “SPRIGGANS” to guard the treasure that they have found. Use Folklore.doc to get ideas.
Also, does Laura need to be in America…probably, yes. She needs to be away from Jonathan.
But still need to know what/who the spirit is that’s inhabiting Jonathan, and why him – what’s the connection, is it using him as a weapon…and if so, for what and against whom?
Play up the images of “cutesie” fairy combined with utterly awful horror scenes. Lots of cackling, viciousness and tiny prickly terrors. Let’s have even the pretty fairies act as baddies somewhere along the line. Maybe the Spriggans turn out to be goodies after all? How about The Knockers? Maybe they’re the real baddies in this, they sound even uglier than the Spriggans, that’s for sure.
Is there something that Richard isn’t telling Laura? Maybe somehow he’s connected with all of what’s going on ~ maybe descended from whoever the spirit has a grudge against… too much of a coincidence, or all part of fate and her whacky sense of humour?!
How would that work?
How would the spirit have known Richard and Laura would get together?
Subplots needed; a whole take on the Spriggans and their job of guarding the treasure. The jar? What was in it? And why did it matter so much that the sodding thing got broken?
Dunno. It just did.
More subplots, involving Jim? Or some other families from the area on Bodmin Moor where the mine was? Maybe both?
Jim has to be involved somewhere along the line, as he’s the one who knows all about that kind of thing. Why would he have become an expert in that knowledge if he didn’t have a vested interest? Okay, so it doesn’t matter about Richard and Laura getting together, the factor that brings them to the end of the book in this situation is Jim and HIS history.
But isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that he’s Richard’s best friend?
Where is Jim from?
How did he meet Richard and when?
Maybe he’s the one who sought out Richard, knowing something about his history, but then the coincidence would be Laura. Shit. This is fucking awful.
Ooookay! Having written the short story version [The Guardians] here’s a thought: The jar which broke was the same as the one in The Guardians – ie: holding souls in torment. Naturally then, one or more may have gone into Jonathan, right?
Okay, so – Jonathan is now ‘hosting’ the soul of someone, we don’t know who, or how old, so we can play with that and change the events which scare him as a boy. Maybe he starts behaving oddly, feeling some kind of empathy with miners etc, etc. Becomes one himself maybe?
So, as you can see, I can get a bit sweary when I’m working things out! The entire document is in that same vein; gradually the story I recognise as The Dust of Ancients fights its way out of the morass, but it’s a long struggle!
Later, I wrote a blog post which you can find here, in which I muse over whether or not the story is finished, mostly because I’ve loved writing it so much that I can’t quite bear the thought of never visiting that world, and those characters, again.
There are now three books in the series, but now I’m faced with the same sense of loss – except that this time I know there will be more. I don’t think there’s another novel in it, but there will be stories, and maybe a novella or two, and I think these will be given away as either free e-books, or straightforward downloads from my website.
The short story mentioned above, The Guardians, is currently available on The Dark Archive blog, along with a short piece about the series and its origins. You will need to scroll down to see it.
The Dust of Ancients is, until tonight (Sunday August 2nd) free to download from Amazon.
The Battle of Lynher Mill has begun!
It’s a sunny Saturday in my home town of Plymouth… wait, no, it’s raining. Wait. Sun’s out again… should I put the washing out? What if… Oh, who cares? I HAVE NEWS!
Yes, news from the sofa/office, and it’s GOOD news. You might recall a little post I made some time ago, called I’m No Hypocrite, But… (in essence, it’s a bit of a foot-stamping post about how no-one will take me seriously in my home town as I’ve only had 3 books published, and in digital format so they don’t count. Also in the not-counting category are my self-published paperbacks. They must be rubbish, right?)
Well, earlier this month Piatkus, the Little, Brown imprint who published my debut novel, Maid of Oaklands Manor, announced to the world that they are sending the book to print! PRINT, dammit! On paper (one assumes) and even in bookshops – Waterstones and Smiths have been mentioned – but even if that part of it falls through, it will be available to buy, and you’ll have to check the delivery options on this one!
I know I already have two paperbacks out, and a third about to launch. But those are my self-published ones, and it’s a whole different kind of a thrill. When I look at my Lynher Mill books I feel all this immense love for them, for the characters, the world I’ve helped them build (or they’ve helped me build) and the gorgeous, solid reality of them is a feeling unlike any other. (So, just because I can, I’m going to post the covers here, with further thanks to the magical combination of cover designer Jeanine Henning, and artist Sean Ryan, who between them took my rather dull photographs, of Cornish tin mines on a non-descript kind of a day, and turned them into the beauties you see here.)
This blog isn’t about the selling, so these are not links, simply images. However, if you’re interested in reading more about this Cornish Mythic Fiction series, please visit my website where you’ll find a few more details, and information on how to buy, or download a free sample.
But now onto Maid of Oaklands Manor. This one is also very, very special to me, and that’s mostly because it was inspired by the stories told to me by my late maternal grandmother Mary Nixon, nee Deegan (whose name you might recognise if you’ve read the book.) The story is not hers, although some of the events within it are true, but all the way through I had her in my head, talking to me in her slight, lilting Liverpudlian accent. I dedicated the book to her.
The difference between my self-published paperbacks being available, and the decision to send this one to print, is that this time someone else has decided it’s worth the financial cost – the book will print at over 430 pages – and that it’s fit to sit on the shelves alongside some of the greatest names in the world of books.
Piatkus have designed a gorgeous new cover for it, to tie it in with the second and third books in the series, and so, with a grin of utter delight, I give you the final, the perfect, Lizzy Parker:
“This blog isn’t about the selling,” she says! Well of course I’m going to have to leave a link to the pre-order page for this paperback, aren’t I? But the bonus of having had it available as an e-book for two years already, is that you can check out the reviews, and even view a free sample, before you decide whether you think it’s worth ordering the paperback.
Thank you for reading, and, as always, please feel free to comment here or on the shared post on my Facebook page.
I’d like to welcome to my bog today, super Carina author A L Michael, whose new book: If You Don’t Know Me By Now, has just been released. This quote makes me laugh every time!
Want to win a coffee-themed goodie bag? There’s a super prize draw, through Rafflecopter, HERE.
About the book:
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Imogen has come to London to make it as a writer. At least, that was the plan. Finding herself in a dead-end job serving coffee to hipsters was not on her to-do list. And even if gorgeous colleague Declan does give her more of a buzz than a triple-shot cappuccino, Imogen can feel her dreams evaporating faster than the steam from an extra-hot latte.
Until her anonymous tell-all blog about London’s rudest customers goes viral – and suddenly, Imogen realises that landing the worst job in the world might just be the best thing that’s ever happened to her! As long as she can keep her identity to herself…
A.L. Michael is a twenty something writer from London. She works as a creative facilitator, running workshops in creative writing, writing for wellbeing, and children’s lessons. She has a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, and is working towards an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She is not at all reliant on her student discount card.
When she’s not writing or talking about writing, she bakes, runs, plays with her puppy, and gets continually distracted by shiny things on Pinterest.
Today I went to the first in what I hope will be a series of “indie bookshop crawls,” in Totnes, Devon. While there, I was talking to a fellow Plymothian (during which conversation it emerged that the collective noun for Plymothians is “an excellence.” Okay, I might have made that up…) who was asking me who I knew, and which clubs and reading nights I frequented. I had to admit to not taking part in many at all, and explained that, because I work full-time, the weekends and days off I do get, I have to spend writing as opposed to talking about writing.
Which led me to ponder, on the way home; how much time should we spend at open-mic nights, readings, groups, etc? Are we doing ourselves a disservice if we shun 90% of these, in favour of actually writing? Does it make a difference that our agent is calling for 40k words towards our new novel a.s.a.p, or is that only an excuse?
I’m finding it hard striking a balance between trying to mingle with other writers –getting myself known locally, and spending time listening to their work–and actually nailing those damned words to the page. I was met with a surprised look today, when I said I hadn’t been to such-and-such a group, didn’t know this or that person, and didn’t really get out to many of these reading groups, but then the person to whom I was talking said he’d be lucky to get 40 thousand words out in a year.
With so much writing time already taken up with marketing online, preparing and posting updates and tweets, learning from other writers in Facebook groups, updating the website, and generally scattering myself all over Facebook in the hopes of scoring a couple of extra sales, can I really afford to take time out to sit in a room and listen to poems and short stories, in order not to be seen as distancing myself?
Where’s that balance, and how do I avoid coming over as aloof and/or non-committed if I ultimately come down on the side of producing work instead of talking about it?
Answers on a postcard please… or in the comments here or on Facebook 🙂