I’m thrilled to announce that Sin & Syntax has now sold—well, not exactly a gazillion copies, but well over 100,000. This is a huge milestone for me, and I’m in the mood to celebrate. I thought I’d tell you a little of the back story, as well as offering you a way to get a very very very affordable copy. (If you’ve read the book, you know I discourage the use of that adverb “very”—unless repeated three times. LOL.)
Copyeditor Mary Norris has had a fascinating career at The New Yorker over the past three decades. She writes about that, and many other things in Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (W. W. Norton). Because readers of this blog (and the site generally) seem to have such a taste for dictionary talk, I thought I’d share what Mary says about her go-to dictionaries.
As the authors of, between them, eight books, the faculty at the 2015 Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat will draw on wide experience as they share their wisdom with writers at the Hawaii gathering. They’ll have a whole week to guide writers through exercises, but we asked them to share just one secret with readers of this blog.
It may seem old-fashioned to consult a dictionary while writing, but I can’t imagine working without a reputable dictionary nearby. “Working with word books strengthens our imaginative muscles, and in turn, strengthens our own mental thesauruses, our ability to call up precise words,” I wrote in Sin and Syntax. But what happens to the dictionary in an era of e-publishing?
How do we write about ourselves without narcissism? I recently gave a public talk at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, on that perennially perplexing question: How do we writers “find our voice”? A couple of days later I led a workshop on crafting personal stories and memoirs. I’ve devoted an entire New York Times column […]
I love reaching new readers, so I’ve come up with a special offer on my books through December. Buy a copy of Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch or Sin & Syntax from me, and I’ll send a bonus copy of either one to you.
English grammar evolves with majestic disregard for the susceptibilities of classical scholars,” Philip Howard wrote in his 1978 book Weasel Words. So, apparently, do the rules for pluralizing words that have come to us from Latin and Greek.
For many writers and editors, knowing these rules is a point of pride. But nowadays the rules that exist threaten to disregard, or at least confound, everyone’s “susceptibilities.”
I am getting tired of keynote speeches at writers conferences (like ones I heard in 2014) that go for bombast and ignore the merits of traditional publishing. Sometimes I want to say to speakers who overlook the tremendous value that remains for writers who land a contract with a traditional publisher, “Thou doth protest too much.”
I have been taking some time over the last few months to think creatively about how to continue writing, given how hard it is to make even the $1 per word fee that used to be my minimum. Of course, I thought it was just me having a rough time (that inner critic is alive and well!). But my colleague Laura Fraser commented on her own similar experience in a recent SF Chronicle story. (It prompted her to start a new publishing platform for women, Shebooks.)
II’m just back in California after leading a writers retreat on the beach where I grew up, in Hawai‘i. So it’s time to share some good reads and to let you know about a few cool updates on this Web site. Oh, and to let you know about the next retreat!