Making merry

4c1b095e-38ab-40db-834e-ca9aa61d24fd So, you’re looking for the perfect gift for the language lover in your life? Look no further than the book jackets above and to the right. LOL. Seriously, though, I’ve been thinking about a gift I could give my readers, and came up with something novel. Purchase a copy of Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch along with an additional copy of either Vex, or Sin & Syntax and you will qualify for a free half-hour consultation from me (a $60 value). But you must make both purchases before the end of the year! Buy two books, bone up, then send me your best stuff and I’ll help you make it better. To participate, scan your receipt and send a PDF to Please be sure that the name of the vendor and the date are legible. (This offer is valid through December 31, 2015.) Say you want even more inspiration when it comes to deploying words—or you need a different sort of book to give to friends. Here are three new word books I enjoyed:
  1. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris (W.W. Norton, 2015).  This bestseller, a mix of memoir and grammar guidance, by New Yorker copyeditor Mary Norris is instructive and humorous.
  1. That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us by Erin Moore (Gotham, 2015). Moore is an American writer and former editor living in England who writes about language with authority and wit. I loved her definition of “scrappy,” which has a slightly different valence on each side of the pond.
  1. The Art of X-Ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing by Roy Peter Clark (Little, Brown and Company, 2016). Though it hasn’t hit the bookshelves yet, The Art of X-Ray Reading will be published in late January 2016 and is available for pre-order.
Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood to save your pennies, how about some free inspiration? As you wait for the holidays to arrive, warm up with the latest batch of “Heavenly Verbs, Headache Verbs.” I aim to amuse you, not bemuse you....

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