Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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The plural of ‘you’.

It used to be Australians used the term ‘youse’ and some still do. I don’t think I do and it’s generally considered one of those ‘bogan’ words the rest of us avoid. Well-known Texan, Dr Phil, uses y’all, which has a nice ring to it if you have the right accent, but I suspect that’s the American version of youse and is not universally acceptable now in the US if it ever was.

So what is the plural of ‘you’? In the news today our Australian of the Year, David Morrison, has chastised people for using the term ‘guys’ to refer to people of both genders. I must admit I’ve never been offended by this. If you were to call me a guy, as an individual, I might be, but if, for example, I get a text saying “Are you guys home?” it’s clear that refers to both my husband and me. If the text said “Are you home?” then it refers to me only. I’d probably be offended, or puzzled at least, if I got a text saying “Are you men home?” but the term ‘guys’ has somehow become gender neutral, hasn’t it?

I have five adult sons and I tend to still call them ‘the boys’ but since they now all have wives or girlfriends I might use the term ‘guys’ if I’m talking about the guys and the gals together. I’d be interested to see some feedback from our friends in the USA, since we obviously took over ‘guys’ from you. Has the usage changed there? Is it more or less non-gender specific or are we just lazy? Maybe we should speak correctly and say “Are you and your husband at home?” Generally language issues do annoy me but in everyday speech and texts I think we should all just take a chill pill. The language is evolving and BookCoverImageconnectionsit will continue to. She’ll be right mate.

sanctuary cover 2014

‘Sanctuary’, my Sci-fi novel for young adults, is free right now (June 1-5) on Amazon and my collection of short stories, ‘Connections’, will be free from the 3rd to the 7th. For details on all my books please visit my author pages at Amazon.com or Amazon UK.

 

 

 

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Sins of the Media

 

Live television is to blame for many grammatical errors and I don’t envy those brave souls who put themselves in that position. The occasional mistake, such as ‘getable’ or ‘most remotest’, which I’ve heard recently, should probably be expected with the pressure of being put ‘on the spot’.What annoys me more than these one-off errors are the continual mispronunciations, such as Antartica, instead of Antarctica and def’nally, instead of definitely. It appears to be laziness but it might be that the speakers are not aware of their mistake, in which case their employers or the viewers should point it out to them! Our children are watching and unless we want them to pick up bad habits we need to take a stand.

Pollie speak, such as ‘the end of the day’ and ‘at this point in time’ have also crept into the media and into everyday life and hopefully are only temporary. They are annoying but not incorrect. What is becoming more common in the media is the phrase ‘one of the only’, which is not only annoying but poor grammar. It doesn’t make sense, people! What they mean is ‘one of the few’, which is fine, or they could say ‘one of only a few, or a small number’. Please, not ‘one of the only’.

Another common mistake is using ‘unique’ with any intensifier—unique means the only one of its kind. It is not possible to be ‘very unique’ or ‘slightly unique’. A thing is either unique or it isn’t. If that one word is not enough for you, choose a different one.

 ‘Literally’ is another example of a commonly misused word. Some throw it around as if it were a meaningless word that just emphases their statement.  ‘I literally died of shock when I saw my ex in the street!’ No, you didn’t or you wouldn’t be here to tell us about it. Nor did you literally become incontinent when you were similarly shocked by such an event. Or perhaps you did, but if you’re using that word, literally, it means what you are saying is the truth, not an exaggeration.

The Subject of the Verb.

Growing up, John Watson was the principal of the school.

 Police kept a gunman at bay for several hours before being brought down in a hail of bullets.

He was hit by a man wearing a balaclava that was armed with a machete.

 His wife and niece intervened.

 The above sentences are all examples of media mangling, with changes to minor details. Yes, we know what they mean, but why on earth can’t they say it? The first sentence tells us that John Watson was the principal of a school while he was growing up. Is that likely? What the speaker meant was that the other person he had referred to in a previous sentence was a student at the school when John Watson was the principal. In this sentence though, the subject of the verb is clearly John Watson.

The next sentence tells us police were brought down by a hail of bullets and is quite a possible scenario and therefore a more confusing one. The rest of the news story made it quite clear that it was the gunman who was shot, not the police, but in this sentence the subject of the verb is not the gunman but the police. The gunman is the object of the verb – police kept gunman at bay. In order to have this sentence actually say what was intended it could read: Police kept a gunman at bay for several hours before they brought him down in a hail of bullets. Not a particularly good sentence but it is at least clear.

The next example is amusing and obvious – we know the balaclava wasn’t armed with a machete! Neither could we say: He was hit by a man wielding a machete wearing a balaclava. Clearly the machete wasn’t wearing a balaclava any more than the balaclava was wielding a machete!  An easy correction would be simply to say he was hit by a man wearing a balaclava and wielding a machete.

The last sentence would be correct if the man was married to his niece. More likely it’s another example of lazy speech. His wife and his niece intervened is more likely what the speaker meant.  Again, we know what they meant, but why not say that? It’s entirely possible that some people listening would presume that the man was married to his niece.

 Every day I see examples in the media of poor grammar and misuse of words and I urge you again to please encourage your children to read—whether they’re reading the classics or Harry Potter or the Twilight series, get them reading!

The above rant is an excerpt from my free book at Smashwords: What Did You Say?

Please see Amazon for details on my other books.

http://www.amazon.com/Christine-Gardner/e/B00AY80A08

this one book2 karinya ebook

 


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Who’s been sleeping in whose bed?

I recently wrote a blog on the misuse of the apostrophe with possessive pronouns; I’ve just realised I missed ‘whose’, which is another word that causes problems for some. The rule is the same–if you’re using an apostrophe you need to understand what it’s for. If the word you’re using is ‘who’s’ the meaning is ‘who is’ or ‘who has’: “Who’s going to take the rubbish out?” (Who is going to take the rubbish out?)

If you want to indicate possession the correct term is ‘whose’: “Whose rubbish is it?” (Who does the rubbish belong to?) When we know the owner of the rubbish we do use an apostrophe: “It’s Jimmy’s rubbish. He can take it out.” When we know whose it is but not his name, we might point to the owner and say: “It’s his rubbish.” No apostrophe is needed in his, whose, or its when used as a possessive pronoun. An apostrophe always indicates something missing and, for those of you who didn’t read my previous blog on apostrophes, the practice dates back to an old form of English when possession was written in a more complicated way. To indicate possession a writer would have to say “Jim, his rubbish,” and we now use an apostrophe to replace that pronoun ‘his’. (Jim’s rubbish)

A lecturer told me that when I was at uni and whether it’s actually true or not it’s quite a useful way of remembering which is the correct form of ‘its, whose, and their.’ For more easy to understand help on grammar I have a free ebook on Smashwords.

It’s Good Friday here today and autumn at last! I think we’re all happy to see the end of summer. Autumn is lovely here in central Victoria but with such a late start it won’t be long before we’re complaining about the cold! Time to curl up with a good book in front of the heater. My sci-fi for young adults, Sanctuary, is FREE today only at Amazon and I have others coming up free next month, Beast of War, Connections, and The Inheritance so keep checking in. For all info on my books on Amazon check out my Author Page.

 

 


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Its and the Decorative Apostrophe

‘Its’ is a possessive pronoun, just as ‘his’ and ‘hers’ are.  If you add an apostrophe to its it is no longer a possessive pronoun. It’s means it is or it has.  Always. Adding an apostrophe to its is no different to adding an apostrophe to any other pronoun. Apostrophes are always there for a practical reason, not to decorate the page. Many people laugh at the ‘grocer’s apostrophe’, which is frequently seen on signs at the front of all types of stores but sometimes even on major signs by professional sign writers. I’m talking about the use of apostrophes seemingly thrown in at random, usually before an ‘s’ at the end of a word. Most readers and writers know better than that but there are very many who don’t get their ‘its’ right!

While I’m ranting about apostrophes and pronouns I’d better give ‘their’ a mention. Their is a possessive pronoun too and is probably next in line for causing the maximum error rate. They’re means they are. Always. Not a possessive pronoun. There means not here, but over there, and I’m including the reference to ‘here’ because the similarity makes it an easy one to remember. If you add ‘t’ to ‘here’ it becomes ‘there’, right? Easy.

I’m not sure about the veracity of this, but if a university lecturer is a good enough source–an apostrophe always takes the place of something else; it indicates something is missing. Once upon a time people spoke and wrote English quite differently and they would say, or write, ‘the dog, his bone’, rather than ‘the dog’s bone,’ as we do now. The apostrophe was introduced in place of ‘his’ in this example. If we move the apostrophe across, as in ‘the dogs’ bone’, we know there’s more than one dog sharing the bone. Of course when using a pronoun there’s no need for the apostrophe because it makes no sense to say ‘It, its bone’ or ‘Him, his bone.’

That’s the end of my rant for the day–please feel free to pass this on. It’s a small thing, an apostrophe, but whether you’re a signwriter, a book writer or just have a facebook account, please don’t use the poor little misunderstood mark to decorate your page.

Please visit my Amazon author page for details on all my books.

 

 

 


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Freebies on Amazon and Smashwords

Has anyone had any luck making their ebooks permanently free on Amazon? I have a couple of small ones free on Smashwords, one a short story, an excerpt from my short story collection, and the other a book on grammar and punctuation. The short story, obviously, is a promotional effort, leading to the collection, while the other one, at only 19 pages, I’d simply like to give away to help anyone who needs to improve their written English. It’s not, by any means, a comprehensive guide to the English language but I have a few little tricks to help remember where apostrophes go and indeed what they are actually for, among other things.

I read somewhere to go to the book’s page on Amazon and scroll down to Product Details and then below that to ‘tell us about a lower price’, then type in Smashwords URL and the price. I did do that and I also emailed Amazon, who said they can’t offer any books for free, apart from the 5 days through KDP Select. They do though and I suspect if I can get enough people to inform them of the lower price available on Amazon they will eventually match the zero price.what did

It might seem an odd request, to help me get my book prices lowered to zero, but I’d appreciate it if you take a minute to do that for me and I’ll let you know if it works.

The books in question are ‘Brown Dog’, at Amazon and at Smashwords, and ‘What Did You Say?’ at Amazon and at Smashwords.

My YA book, Sanctuary, is free on Amazon for two days, July 1st and 2nd, and I have a Countdown offer on Not Guilty, starting at 99c on June 30th and then 1.99 on July 1st. Not Guilty is a true story about a mother who killed her three children, in 1910, in a country town in Australia.

It’s freezing here, and wet. Winter is well and truly with us and I’ve had enough of it and am ready for some sunshine. Still it’s nice and cosy inside and I’ve been getting stuck into some writing–hit the 10,000 word mark in my latest novel today so pretty pleased with myself. Trying to discipline myself with a deadline of sorts and commit to 1000 words per day, except when I really have to go shopping or babysit, or anything else that comes along . . .


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Giving Smashwords one more try

I decided I may have been unfair to Smashwords, writing them off as too much work for too little return. I have several books with them but not as many as I have with Amazon; much easier, with formatting etc and besides they just sell a lot more books!

Still, the books I’ve had problems formatting with Smashwords have been mostly those I wrote some time back, when my own Word formatting was pretty rough; also I hadn’t put any of my top sellers on there, partly because of formatting issues and partly because I thought I just might want to make use of Amazon’s KDP Select, which requires exclusive rights.

I’ve now put my outback romance, Stony Creek, on Smashwords, which I think is giving them as good a chance as I can. It’s doing very well on Amazon and apart from a few minor hiccups I had no problems with the formatting, so we’ll see how it goes. Since I have absolutely no intentions of giving any away I decided there was no reason for it to be exclusive with Amazon–haven’t seen any results yet though and I have to say Amazon absolutely rules! One thing I like about Smashwords is that I can make books free whenever I want and I have a small ebook on grammar, What Did You Say? and a short story free. There’s also an interview with yours truly and if you have any suggestions as to what I might add to that I can do that at any time.

not guilty 2014 coverIs there a particular type of book that does well there, I wonder? I’ve found with Amazon my non-fiction, Not Guilty, has done very well as has my outback romance. The others have all sold a few but no-where near the numbers of those two. I’d quite like to put Not Guilty on Smashwords but I think the formatting would be too hard, because it contains different fonts and different spacing for newspaper reports and public records etc. It’s all easy on Amazon, although I must admit Createspace was tricky. I have most of my books on Createspace for PODs and it’s taken me a while to get the hang of it but it’s not too bad now. Amazon ebooks are very simple but if you go through Createspace they can send it over to Amazon and convert it for you.beastfromkindlecover

I have one freebie this week on Amazon, Beast of War, a fantasy about three teens in a land called Breeland. There are three different tribes–different kinds of ‘people’, farmers, cave-dwellers and those who live off the sea, and they are all at risk.  According to prophecy only Terrus, Cener and Airien can save Breeland; they must put aside tribal differences and prejudices and journey together to fight the beast in his lair. I did write this for kids but I’m finding adults enjoy it as well–I know I loved writing it and was rather sad when I finished it and had to say goodbye to the characters! It’s free from the 16th to the 18th of June, so check it out.


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Stuck in a time warp?

Do you tend to read or write in one particular era? I have an aversion to the 1920s, possibly because I’ve seen too many bad movies about that era. Other than that my first love was historical fiction, simply because I find history fascinating, and my second love was science fiction because I’m equally fascinated with the future. I’m always interested in the way different writers imagine our world in the future, or indeed other worlds.

When I started writing, my first novel was set in the 26th century and my second novel was set in both contemporary times and the 19th century, so no favoritism there! My latest two (Stony Creek and Dark Innocence) are set mainly in the 1960s and 1970s and I do find I rather enjoy writing about a time I have some personal memories of. I’ve just started another set in the 70s, which has some of my own experiences of living in Queensland and camping on the beach but most of it is pure fiction. I don’t have a name for it yet and I’ll probably be asking for help when I’ve finished, but that won’t be for a while yet. I’m not a very well-disciplined writer, unfortunately–life gets in the way sometimes. Often.

It’s looking like winter has arrived here and it is in fact the first day of winter so I can’t complain. It’s wet but not that cold yet–at least not inside! The trees are beautiful but they’ll soon be bare and we’ll be looking forward to spring. Not summer though. I don’t like summer much at all.

I have a couple of freebies for you this week–one from the future and one from the past! ‘Demented Mothers‘ is about infanticide in the early 20th century in Australia. This is not written as a true crime; it is a university thesis, so won’t be for everyone, but if you have an interest in the subject check it out. Free one day only, June 1st (USA time). Link for UK readers.doglastkinblog

The other one is ‘Last Chance’, which I wrote for pre-teen kids, but I’d be interested in others’ opinions as to what age it’s best suited to. It’s about a town destroyed by war and the aftermath, which sounds pretty grim, but ultimately it’s about hope. Anyway it’s free, so you may as well grab it, right? Free for 2 days, June 1st and 2nd. UK readers.

Cheers and happy first day of summer or winter, depending on where you are.