English is a Funny Language

As I write this post, I am going back and editing my recently published novel, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice, via Grammarly. I do this as a result of a review that claimed I had quite a few errors in my book, which I took as a personal affront, as I freelance as an editor. Grammarly tagged quite a few “errors” that really aren’t errors in the true sense of poor grammar and/or typographical errors (although, admittedly, there were a few, but I could count these on my fingers and still have a few left over). I’ve decided to write this and other posts to set the record straight with respect to grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

OR vs. OUR

Both Canadians and Brits spell words like colour, neighbour, and favour (and a whole host of other words with similar endings) with an extra “u”, probably as a result of our French roots.

L vs. LL

Many words ending in “l” double the letter before adding the ending. Travelling is one of these words (as opposed to “traveling” in American English). There are exceptions to this rule, and “instalment” is one of them, spelled with a single “l” in Canadian but a double “l” (installment) in American. Weird.

The elusive E

It is perfectly acceptable to add an extra “E” in words such as “acknowledgement” and “judgement” in Canadian English (“acknowledgment” and “judgment” in American English respectively). Interestingly enough, the word “jewellery” is the proper, Canadian/British spelling of the American “jewelry”, contrary to what one of my reviewers criticized.

In Canadian English, “insure” tends to refer to issuing and insurance policy, whereas “ensure” means to make sure. Though some sites, like Writer’s Digest,  insist there is a difference, other sites, like The Oxford English Dictionary, say that while the primary meaning for “insure” is the insurance connection, it is sometimes used in American English to mean “to make sure”. It is for this reason that my American clients insist using “insure” throughout.

C vs. S

Many American spellings favour “se” rather than “ce”. Examples of this include “licence” (Canadian) vs. “license” (American); “offence” (Canadian) vs. “offense” (American) ; and “defence” (Candian) vs. “defense” (American).

Commas Inside or Outside of Quotation Marks?

While we’re on the subject of Canadian vs. American, it’s important to note that in American English, the commas and periods go on the inside of quotation marks, while in Canadian and British English, they go on the outside. Note that this does not apply to dialogue. For example,

American: Canadian spellings are frequently tagged by American reviewers as “errors.”

Canadian: Canadian spellings are frequently tagged by American reviewers as “errors”.

Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg?

“Dialogue”, as it is spelled above, is correct in Canada, with Americans preferring “dialog”. Some websites say that “dialogue” is to be used for conversation and “dialog” for a pop-up box to communicate with a computer. I also read that “dialogue” is gradually being replaced, primarily in America, for the shorter, “dialog”. I have to wonder if the reason the shorter spelling is used for the computer is because dialog boxes originate in the States, and therefore, the American spelling is used. Definitely a chicken or egg scenario.

Interestingly enough, Canadian English distinguishes between “blonde” for a woman with blonde hair, and “blond” for a man. This is largely due to ties with the French, as this is the rule in French grammar. While some sites say that “blond” is common for both men and women, others say “blond” is always used though it is still acceptable to use “blonde” for a woman in Canadian English. I would argue that this is not the case in Canada and that one should always use “blonde” for women, but with such a loosey-gooesy rule, one can hardly call this an error, unless you use “blonde” to refer to a male.

In Conclusion…

Keep in mind that I come at this from a uniquely Canadian perspective. Many of the “errors” Grammarly marked in my manuscript were simply the difference between American and Canadian spellings, and these should not be considered errors. As most of my clients are American, I’ve learned a few things regarding the differences between Canadian, British, and American English, and I’ve learned that one rule does not fit all, and just when you think you have it, there’s an exception to the rule, and you’ve broken it! Much of what I know about spelling American, is recently learned, as to me, spelling Canadian is the norm (and I’d like to think I’m quite good at it, having won more than a few spelling bees in my youth). An American can no more call the Candian and/or British spelling of a word an error, any more than a Canadian or a Brit can call the American spelling an error.–if you’re going to read, and/or review indie books, you simply

The bottom line is, if you’re going to read, and/or review indie books, you simply must be aware of the differences. Hopefully, my posts will help.

5 Sites to Promote Your book on a Shoestring Budget

shoestringbudget

graphic from http://edgewatertech.files.wordpress.com/ 2009/03/2955706736_a31585470e.jpg

[Tweet “Calling all indie authors: read 5 Sites to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget”]

When it comes to promoting your book, you have to spend money to make money.

How many of you have been told that?

The first time I heard it, my heart filled with desolation. I live in the real world where disposable income is as rare as the unicorn–in other words, it doesn’t exist. What chance do I have of being successful with my marketing endeavours without the coin to back it?

The answer is: I don’t know. My book is relatively new (just over a month old at the time of my writing this) and it’s really too soon to tell. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share some of the places I’ve found online that allow me to advertise my book for free. Here are the 5 sites that top my list so far.

Indies Unlimited

The vetting process on this site is incredibly helpful. I submitted my novel for their free promotion. About 6 weeks later, the site contacted me with an excellent critique of my book description as well as suggestions on how to improve it. I made the corrections and received a second critique and even more suggestions–all for free! As far as I’m concerned, this site is indie author gold, for that reason alone.

[Tweet “@IndiesUnlimited is indie #author gold! See 5 Sites to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget.”]

Online PR News

This site provides a free place to post and distribute a press release. You have to write the press release yourself, but this is an excellent opportunity to reach people to which you might not otherwise have access.

[Tweet “@PRnews reaches people U otherwise might not. 5 Sites to Promote Your Book on Shoestring Budget”]

New Book Journal

Free author announcements for anything author related. Announce your book release or a book signing…the possibilities are endless.

[Tweet “@R_K_Alan & New Book Journal 4 author related stuff. 5 Sites to Promote UR Book on Shoestring”]

Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing

This website posts a list of new Sci Fi releases each week. I sent an email to the site administrator asking if my book could be included in the next list and he was happy to oblige. This taught me never to be afraid to send a query to anything online I’d like to be a part of. The worst that could happen is my request will either be ignored or rejected. To my surprise, that rarely happens.

[Tweet “@AISFPodcast lists new sci fi releases every week. 5 Sites to Promote UR Book on Shoestring Budget”]

My Book Addiction’s zOctober Event

I read about zOctober on a news feed site I frequent and sent an email and was accepted right away. I am posting a “Mad Lib” style puzzle and a short story on My Book Addiction’s site in October. Great publicity for my book and my brand, all of it absolutely free!

[Tweet “@Toni_BookAddict sponsors #zOctober 5 Ways to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget”]

That’s my list so far, opaline pearls in a sea of seemingly barren oysters.  Do you have any other hidden gems you are willing to share? Post them here and I’ll feature them on my next post with a link to your online pages–another great, free place to publicize!

My Biography

English teacher and former archaeologist Elise Abram is proud to announce the release of PHASE SHIFT, her first fiction publication. Abram has been writing ever since she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Having to research writing and the writing process gave her the confidence she needed to actually put proverbial pen to paper. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back. Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and try to publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

PHASE SHIFT documents the adventures of archaeologists Molly McBride and her husband, Dr. Palmer Richardson after they are given an unusual artifact with the ability to take them to a doppelganger Earth. Palmer Richardson, forensic anthropologist and head of the Archaeology department at the University of Toronto, is a character Abram first conceived in 1987 when taking a Science Fiction English course at The University of Waterloo (Clinton Johns, co-star of THE GUARDIAN was also conceived at that time). Writing a short story as the final assignment for that course was the first time she’d melded her passion for archaeology with storytelling.

Abram continues to write, no easy task, given the demands of teaching three English courses each semester, and raising three teenagers simultaneously. Currently, she is working on another Molly McBride adventure, tentatively called THE NEXT COMING RACE, and inspired by Edward Bullwer-Lytton’s classic “The Coming Race”, which melds known pseudo-scientific and paranormal phenomenon in a race to save the world from certain destruction after a device left behind by aliens in the future is activated by construction in the present. Also in the works is THE REVENANT, a take on the current young adult vampire craze, and CHICKEN OR EGG: A LOVE STORY, revolving around a time travel love triangle.

Look for the publication of eBook novellas THE MUMMY WORE COMBAT BOOTS, which follows Palmer Richardson in a case in which he consults for the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department to figure out the origins of an errant mummy found in the Royal Ontario Museum’s holdings, and THROWAWAY CHILD, in which Molly joins with Police Constable Michael Crestwood (also starring in THE MUMMY WORE COMBAT BOOTS and THE NEXT COMING RACE) to investigate a child’s skeleton found beneath a historic house.

Amazon author’s site: http://www.amazon.com/author/eliseabram

I’m Published!

My hands were literallly shaking as I entered the information on the Kobo Writing Life web page. I have resisted self-publishing for many years, but I resolved myself to give it a go. My first book, Phase Shift, is now officially published as and E-book at KoboBooks.com (at least it will be within the next 24 to 48 hours). I decided that this was not a venture about money, but one about building an audience. The more books I sell (at a moderately priced CDN$6.99), the more people will purchase and read and then then I can go to a publisher with my next manuscript and audience in tow.

The synopsis of this book goes like this:

Two planets, Earth and Gaia, co-exist in the same space-time though slightly out of phase. When archaeologists find an artifact allowing them to travel between the two worlds, they discover that environmental issues on both planets have caused the planets’ phase variances to grow more alike. Upon exploring Gaia, they realize trade between the planets has been ongoing for decades, and the act of traveling between the worlds only serves to bring the phase variances closer together.  It’s up to the archaeologists, together with scholars from Gaia, to do what they can to stop the impending disaster.

I will post again with the ISBN number once I get it (in 3 – 6 business days) and a link to the page so you can purchase it if you wish. I appreciate any and all feedback. In future novels, I have cast Robert Carlyle in the part of Palmer Richardson, though for this one, it was another actor. I’d love to hear your opinion of how Mr. Carlyle might bring life to this role.

This is exciting. The first glimpse of My Own Little Storybrooke will soon be published. Unlike the OUAT Storybrooke, all visitors are welcome!