Update

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Josephine in Blue 2015 Greetings to you who are so kindly and enthusiastically supporting my debut novel by signing up for notifications on its progress.

The entire series is progressing! I have completed the first draft of Book II, not titled yet, and am one third of the way towards completing a first draft of Book III.

In addition to the March launch of In Those First Bright Days of Elvis, a short story I wrote called The Petticoat Skipper will be published in the March 2016 issue of Cricket, a magazine for kids aged 9-14.  This story is about Mary Greene, who was one of the first women riverboat captains.

Editing has begun on Book I and two chapters have been added to the ending. Pen-L Publishing has told me that the ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) will come out in December. I am so excited to see them!

I am resigning from my job as self-employed grammar cop. Why? For one thing, it is a hopeless endeavor. The mistakes people make today could well become the rules of tomorrow. Nevertheless, I must voice my opinion.

Since the first cave person grunted a vowel to communicate with another person, we have struggled to perfect our means of communication.  Our language rules developed out of a need to accurately exchange ideas and information. It took years of honing our language to achieve the accuracy in communication that is possible today—IF we use the language correctly. Every day I hear more people in television ads and on news programs using incorrect grammar. Doesn’t anybody know the difference anymore between fewer and less? You can see that mistake in grocery stores. And who knows the difference between to lie and to lay?  (Lie as in recline, not as in fib.)

I also see mistakes in books of award-winning writers. (I won’t name names, but I’m sure you’ve seen them, too.) It makes me wonder if the reason editors don’t correct the mistakes is because they don’t know any better themselves. Or maybe an editor has changed what was a writer’s correct usage to something incorrect. (I’m not referring to grammar in dialogue, where incorrect grammar is used to delineate character.)

Certain grammar gaffs, such as subject/verb agreement, appear so frequently I begin to question my own knowledge. And, of course, I’m not trying to say that I don’t make mistakes; everyone does, but, I marvel at how the reporters keep their jobs and how writers continue being published when their business is accurate, precise communication using language.

On Face Book people habitually omit punctuation, presumably with the idea that we’ll know what they mean. We don’t always know. People are not typically mind readers; they read what is written. My theory on this is that people don’t want to take the time to switch back and forth from letters to punctuation marks on their devices. Consequently, the messages are often not at all what was intended.

I am convinced that the English language as we know it will be lost as a result of texting, and a new language will evolve, one that substitutes numbers for words, and makes it almost impossible to transfer ideas from one mind to another.

With such a cavalier attitude towards our language, one wonders why so many care whether English is the language of our country.  Being able to have others understand what we say is important, sometimes even crucial, to us as a nation. With so much change will English maintain its position as the language of business and diplomacy? When I was growing up, French was the language of diplomacy. I fear that through laziness and carelessness we are losing the art of accurately communicating the thoughts that spring from that marvelous part of us—the brain.

On a lighter note, two of the most interesting things I ever was taught in school are: 1. It is against the law for a cat to walk across London Bridge, and 2. There is a law against steamboats passing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge until the shadow of the bridge reaches the third floor of the building that used to be Alcatraz prison.

Anybody know why? Leave the answer in the comments section.

That’s all for now. See you next month.

Josephine

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Michele Myers Beuerlein
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Michele Myers Beuerlein

Loved the post, Josephine, but I refuse to accept your resignation as a Grammar Cop. Wear that badge proudly, and keep gunning for those lawbreakers. Sure, language evolves, and even laws can change. Chances are, cats who cross the London Bridge that was moved to Arizona aren’t prosecuted. But until it changes officially, stay the course. And if things change, well it’s nice to remember where we came from anyway. Or from whence we came.
Diagramming sentences was immensely useful to me, by the way.
Also, congratulations on the “Petticoat Skipper” article! Mary Greene is a wonderful subject.

Arlene Porter
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So happy to see you plunging into one of your loves. For years, I wished that I could do proofreading for our small local newspaper. I am not a journalist – far from it – but some of the mistakes in written material even make me cringe. While I am not in the least concerned with Facebook message posts or texts, written material as well as news broadcasting should be well edited.

Cynthia Emmet
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Congratulations! Thought I was the only person in the world who cared or even understood the fewer and.less, and the over and under when it pertains to age. Diagraming sentences is an invention of the devil and an annoying waste of time and effort. Grammer is important, but some of the most important ideas do not use words; mathematics, for example. Even as a graduate of the best college of journalism, I have to say words get in the way. We all seem to believe we must use the fewest number of words and letters possible. That’s where children’s books… Read more »
Clint Bramkamp
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Congratulations on being published! Part of the problem with poor usage in published English is our reliance on computer programs to do the editing for us. Diagramming sentences or just reading our copy out loud are better ways, but we don’t like to take the time.

Johanne Presser
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Congratulations on your achievements thus far, Josephine! I agree with your rant on grammar. At least once a day during softball season, I have to correct a player asking, “Can me and so and so do something?” Also, it’s between you and ME not I for Pete’s sake! When I try to explain the objective case to these kids, they look at me like I have two heads. We need to return to diagramming sentences and Latin (or at least one of them) to learn structure!

Andrea Pelleschi
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I’m so excited to hear about your upcoming books. And congratulations on getting published in Crickets. I love their stories, and I can’t wait to read yours.

Kathy Myers
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Hi Josephine, A great big AMEN SISTER! I, too, am constantly dismayed by the rapid decay of our language. I think the last twenty years have seen more decline than the past two centuries. Yes, the rise of new forms of communications has accelerated this. But I think it started a while ago, with grammar and spelling not being emphasized in school. So the teachers of today can’t possibly teach the next generation these things because they never learned them properly themselves. (God bless those nuns who drilled it into me!) It will be very difficult to break out of… Read more »
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