The Most Pernicious Problem in Punctuation Today . . .

Oops.

wyndham_apostrophe_typo_600px.jpg

I encountered this abomination in a motel in Bentonville, Arkansas. Lest you try to foist the blame on the Arkansas education system, Wyndham Hotel Group is headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, across the Hudson from NYC.

I blame Bill Gates. The geniuses at Microsoft have yet to come up with a solution for this egregious error; never mind that they’ve had three decades to do it. But some folks seem to believe it is OK. After all, Microsoft Word and other word processing software automatically “correct” it. (They have dubbed it “smart quotes.”) Ergo, it must be correct if Gates and MS Word and their counterparts say it is.

Sigh.

What’s the problem, you may ask? The “ ‘em” word. I see this frequently in manuscripts I edit. The punctuation mark preceding em should be an apostrophe — “ ’em” — not a single quotation mark. They are not the same; they have distinctly different shapes and functions.

An apostrophe (looks like the “close quote,” not the “open quote”) indicates missing characters, in this instance the “th” in them, but more commonly in contractions, such as  “you’ve” (you have).

However, a quotation mark, whether single or double, signals to the reader the beginning of a quotation and requires its partner mark at the end of the quotation; e.g., ‘em.’

Note the correct usage of the apostrophe in the companion cup: “you’ve” — I love the irony.

wyndham_apostrophe_typo_pair_600px.jpg

However, the so-called smart quotes will not allow an apostrophe to follow a space, even when that space precedes a truncated word. So, smart quotes reverses the mark, turning it into a single quotation mark.

What’s the solution for you victims of unintended consequences?

See: Ten Most Common Errors Made by Writers — #2: Apostrophic Calamity: Apostrophe vs. Dumb Quotes

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Death Penalty Extends Trauma

Good thoughts . . .

Survivors of Violent Loss

Check out this editorial by the LA TIMES 3/31/17

The death penalty doesn’t bring closure so much as it extends trauma
http://fw.to/Sz7fJdh

Quote: “studies have found that capital-murder trials and executions rarely bring a sense of closure, or peace, to the families.”

Quote: “Grief, as those who have experienced it can attest, never really goes away. But it does fade with time. It takes much longer to fade, however, if the criminal justice system, in its misguided thirst for taking one life to atone for loss of another, forces the grief-stricken and traumatized to keep reliving the moment — cruel and unusual punishment, if you will, for those who are guilty of nothing.”

Thanks to Larry Edwards for forwarding this information. In my work with families since 1995, I concur with this editorial as this is the sentiment  I hear from most families.

Appreciations to all who ask the important…

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New Book: Food & Provisions of the Mountain Men

What did Rocky Mountain fur trappers eat? Not tofu, nor kale wraps

Food & Provisions of the Mountain Men
offers glimpse of 19th century frontier diet

3rd edition expanded to 80 pages, color cover,
three new chapters, 50+ illustrations

SAN DIEGO, CA, April 3, 2017—What did the Rocky Mountain fur trappers eat? Not tofu, nor kale wraps, that’s for sure.
Murder Survivor's Handbook: Real-life Stories, Tips & Resources
Food & Provisions of the Mountain Men: A Guide to Authentic Provisions of Fur Trappers, Traders and Explorers in the Early American West, offers a glimpse of the 19th century frontier diet, which consisted mostly of meat. But during “starvin’ times,” they’d resort to whatever they could find, whether it be thistle root or rattlesnake.

The book takes the reader back to a diet touted at the time as “the most wholesome food to the constitution of man.”

Author Larry “Friar” Edwards created this guide for those who participate in re-enactments of mountain man rendezvous and historical encampments. However, it’s also for anyone interested in history, and the lifestyles and hardships endured by these adventurous folks at a time when beaver fur was worth more than gold.

The items presented have been gleaned from trappers’ and explorers’ journals, and diaries of travellers to the Far West, as well as trading post inventory records, and lists of provisions for the annual fur-trapper rendezvous in the 1820s and 1830s.

This third edition has been expanded to 80 pages and features a color cover, three additional chapters, additonal recipes, and more than 50 illustrations.

Available at Amazon and other retail outlets.

Learn more at: Food & Provisions of the Mountain Men: A Guide to Authentic Provisions of Fur Trappers, Traders and Explorers in the Early American West

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Larry Edwards to Speak on Impact of Violent Death, Feb. 11

Larry Edwards, Connie Saindon to Speak at

 San Diego Chapter of Sisters in Crime, February 11

Partners in Crime, the recently reestablished San Diego chapter of the national organization Sisters in Crime, welcomes Larry Edwards, author of several books including the true-crime memoir Dare I Call It Murder?: A Memoir of Violent Loss, and Connie Saindon, author of the Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources and The Journey: Learning to Live with Violent Death.

Larry M. Edwards - Dare I Call It Murder?—A Memoir of Violent Loss

Larry M. Edwards speaking at Barnes & Noble.

Their subject will be The Aftermath of Murder: Impact on Families/Survivors. They will discuss how traumatic grief and complicated bereavement affect the families/survivors following the violent death of a loved one—and how this aspect of a murder gets little attention in crime fiction. Both have endured the violent death of loved ones.

The reader at the meeting will be Indy Quillen, author of Tracker, a Fox Walker novel.

Books will be available for purchase.

The meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. at San Diego Writers Ink, 2730 Historic Decatur Rd., Suite 202 (located above the Womens Museum) at Liberty Station in San Diego, California.

Sisters in Crime is a national organization with local chapters. It supports mystery and crime writers, and promotes reading the genre. The organization comprises authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers, and librarians bound by their affection for the mystery genre and support of women who write mysteries. It is open to participation by everyone, including men.

San Diego chapter meetings are held on the second Saturday of the month, starting with a social period with refreshments, followed by a brief membership meeting.

Larry M. Edwards is an award-winning investigative journalist and the author of four books. He won first place in the 2014 San Diego Books Awards for Best Published Memoir for Dare I Call It Murder?: A Memoir of Violent Loss. The book was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize (2014).

Edwards served as business editor, investigative reporter, and feature writer for San Diego Magazine. He also served as editor of The T Sector magazine, Maritime Quarterly, and San Diego Log, as well as a staff writer for the San Diego Business Journal and San Diego Log; he worked as a stringer for the Associated Press, covering the America’s Cup sailing regatta.

He currently works as a freelance writer, book editor, and publishing consultant to Wigeon Publishing, and has served as a judge for the San Diego Book Awards since 2005. Outside of writing and editing, Edwards plays the fiddle in old-time music and bluegrass bands. He lives in San Diego, California, with his birding-enthusiast wife, Janis Cadwallader.

Connie Saindon, author, Murder Survivor's Handbook: Real-life Stories, Tips & ResourcesConnie Saindon is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and among the few specialists in the field of violent death bereavement. She is the founder of the non-profit Survivors of Violent Loss Program in San Diego, which began in 1998. She also is the author of the Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources—winner of a prestigious Gold Award in the 2015 Benjamin Franklin book awards competition—as well as The Journey: Learning to Live with Violent Death. Her commitment to violent death bereavement is related to the loss of her sister, aged 17, to homicide in 1961.

indy_quillenIndy Quillen is the author of Tracker, a Fox Walker novel, and has just finished editing her second novel, Pursuit. She grew up in Indiana, lived in Colorado, and now resides with her husband in the San Diego area. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, camping, hiking, gardening, traveling, bike riding, and swimming.

 

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Book Review: “Charcoal Joe” by Walter Mosley; Hypnotic

charcoal_joe_coverI love this hypnotic book, the 14th in Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series—best book I’ve read in ages.

Easy’s childhood friend Mouse introduces him to Rufus Tyler, a man everyone calls Charcoal Joe. Joe, for reasons unclear at the outset, wants a young black man—Seymour (top of his class in physics at Stanford)—cleared of charges that he murdered two white men. Joe tells Easy he will pay well to see this young man exonerated, but seeing as how white cops—more inclined toward a quick close than seeking justice—found Seymour standing over the dead bodies, that exoneration requires puppetry that only Easy can manage.

Charcoal Joe has a depth and literary quality lacking in most books of the mystery genre, yet the pace never slows below a fast trot, and quickly returns to its former gallop. I pretty much read it in one day (Christmas—best present I’ve given myself in a long time). It mesmerized me to the degree that I read it again the next day—to make sure I hadn’t missed anything and to savor Mosley’s fine writing and storytelling that much longer.

The depth comes from Mosley’s portrayal, from a black man’s perspective, of race relations in Los Angeles in the late sixties. Race relations that do not seem to have improved much in the ensuing five decades, the civil rights movement notwithstanding. Yet, the story goes beyond that as an observation of human frailty and humanity’s enigmatic see-saw between self-preservation and self-destruction.

Charcoal Joe also has a enough humor to elicit regular chuckles. My favorite line in the book (a comment by one of the characters): Charcoal Joe is just a tombstone waitin’ for a name. A close contender: We might as well have been two dogs snarling at the bait of pheromones on the air.

Mosley’s descriptions (and at times snarky remarks) of the attire worn by the characters is right up there with Archie McNally in the beloved series by Lawrence Sanders.

Yeah, this book has a lot of characters; I’ve read a number of reviews complaining about it—saying, in effect, that “it’s complicated.” And the problem is? I’d say those complaints are more of a reflection of the readers than the writer. Life is a series of complications; criminal life adds more layers to that complication. That’s what keeps this book so interesting and entertaining.

As an editor, writing coach, and instructor, I will be holding up this near-perfect book as an example of writing to emulate.

Sadly—and I lay this on publisher Doubleday’s editors—this delightful book is scuffed by editorial errors that I have come to anticipate in self-published books but should not be evident in a book from one of the holier-than-thou, self-righteous Big Five. Not only the number of typos and style errors, but out-of-place text that either fell onto the wrong page through an errant cut-and-paste mouse click, or a hurried edit, or the text should have been cut but never was. This jumps out on page 65, and in one or two other places later in the book.

But I don’t think Mosley should be punished for that with a reduced rating. Even if he introduced those errors, the Doubleday editors should have caught them. (Let that be a lesson for those of you who exalt over (or aspire to) a publishing deal with one of these culprits. In today’s world, the care and hand-holding of the likes of legendary Scribner editor Maxwell Perkins are merely that—the stuff of legend.)

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Good Yule, Good Health

Good Yule
(and Happy Holidaze)

Waes Hael — Drinc Hael

larry_janis_12-25-2015_400px      toyon_tecolote_canyon_2016

Wishing you good health and joy in the coming new year.
May you live as long as you want and
never want as long as you live.

♩ ♫ ♩ ♫ ♩ ♫ ♩

                                Larry and Janis

2016 Highlights

•  Book News:

•  In the better-late-than-never department, book trailer (video) for Dare I Call It Murder?: A Memoir of Violent Loss.
Book sales have trailed off but remain at a steady, if modest, pace. I continue to be gratified by the overwhelmingly positive reception it has received, and I am glad to hear from those who say the book has helped them deal with a similar tragedy in their lives.

•  Author Connie Saindon and I are pleased that Murder Survivor’s Handbook and The Journey are helping many people deal with the traumatic grief and related issues that often accompany the violent death of a loved one. The books are highly regarded by therapists and those who provide victim support services, as well as by individuals who directly benefit from them.

•  What the Private Saw: The Civil War Letters & Diaries of Oney Foster Sweet continues to be well regarded and received a laudatory endorsement from Midwest Book Review:

This first-hand account . . . is an invaluable addition to the growing library of American Civil War memoirs and biographies. A compelling read from beginning to end, . . . [it] is very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Civil War collections.

•  Blog: More in the better-late-than-never department, I revitalized the Polishing Your Prose blog with the series From the Editor’s Eye: The 10 Most Common Errors Made by Writers (And How to Fix Them)

•  More Book News: I edited a number of books over the past year, all of which merit publication, and one was published: Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife by Barbara McNally (Koehler Books). This book offers an intimate look into the chaotic and demanding lives of military spouses, partners, and families as they adjust to living with combat veterans who have been injured, physically and emotionally. Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife addresses a subject matter critical to our society; I am proud to be included this worthwhile project and highly recommend this book.

•  Music Arena: Janis took a break from her globe-trotting bird trips (Africa, Alaska, Australia, et al.; she’s now a member of the 700 Club) and in July we went cross-country to Winston-Salem, NC, to visit Richard Chance and Christie Anderson. We enjoyed a delightful old-time music jam session, and Richard and I recorded some tunes, including:
•  Moonshiner Stomp
•  Spellbound Waltz

Related Links

Photos: (L) Larry and Janis viewing the sculptures of Ricardo Breceda in Borrego Springs, California; (R) Toyon, also known as the California Christmas tree.

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A Day in the Life: Author, Editor, and Independent Publisher

A Day in the Life Presents: Author, Editor, and Independent Publisher, Larry M. Edwards

Interview with yours truly by Terrie Relf, founder of the Ocean Beach Writers Networking Group.

The group meets most Thursdays at Te Mana Café in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., or until we run out of things to talk about.

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