Saturday, June 27, 2009

Grammar & Spelling Made Easy ...

© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved

... but I haven't seen pigs fly yet!

My daily morning routine is to turn on the news in the morning while I'm getting ready to go to work. This week was no exception. The commentators served up some more of the same stuff we've been hearing about for months; the hike in crime, rise in costs, more failed industries, and the steady increased percentage of unemployment. News about our economy came while I dried my hair, I put on my make-up to word from Iran, and I slipped on my clothes while I listened to the latest celebrity gossip.

If life isn't frustrating enough, what I heard next made me sit up, take notice, and gnash my teeth.

New British guidelines are telling teachers that the standard grammar rule, i before e except after c is too confusing and because the rule isn't consistently used, citing examples such as sufficient, veil and their. Hence, that rule should no longer be taught. Don't believe me? Here's a link to one of the articles from CBS News.

Come on, now. Who are we kidding? The English language is full of inconsistencies. Let's not stop with poor little i and e. How about if we make a few other spellings more consistent while we're at it?

Let's start with that "shun" sound. Why is the word operation written with a "tion", circumcision with a "sion", and suspicion written with "cion"? Wouldn't it be easier to remember these spellings if we could write, operashun, circumcishun, and suspishun? Add to this words that have the same "shun" sound but end in "cian" like beautician. I mean, if you read the following sentence, you'd know what it meant, right?"

Sweatheart, I'm going to see my beautishun. I just pulled my hair out and can't do a thing with it!"

Which brings me to words like phone, phantom, philosophy, and phenomenon. What's that all about? Just drop the ph and spell them with an f for crying out loud! Oh, now there's another example, why is out loud two words, but outlook one? Hmmm?

Okay, we're making some progress. Let's move on to homonyms (words that sound alike but have different meanings like air (what we breathe), e'er (contraction of "ever"), ere (eventually), err (a mistake), and heir (one who will inherit). Still with me? Good, for more homonyms check out:

Synonyms are different words with similar meanings, here's proof: For example, a synonym for the word train is locomotive, engine, or depending on your age, choo-choo. However, if you're in a new job, someone will surely train or teach, coach, educate, instruct, guide, prepare or tutor you on the proper procedures of your new position.

Antonyms are the easiest to remember because they are simply words opposite in meaning to other words, such as fast is an antonym of slow, and complicated is the opposite of easy.

But if the Brits are really concerned about easing up on the confusion of the English language, I say do something about, effect/affect and advice/advise! No matter how often I use them, I always have to look them up.

Now I ask you, is it any wonder the English language is the hardest to learn? I don't know about you, but I feel just a little smarter this morning because most of the rules are nicely tucked in the back of my head, especially i before e except after c which has been one of the easiest to remember. Maybe if someone could come up with a cute rhyme for me to remember when to use the words lie, lay, laid and lain, I wouldn't need to fone my beautishun as often which would help me save money on gas and wear/where/ware on my car/auto/vehicle. More money in my pocket, now wouldn't that be a great site/cite/sight?

As always, my final word on the subject: life is grand if you don't weaken! ;)

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Marta Stephens is the author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series published by BeWrite Books (UK)
THE DEVIL CAN WAIT - (2008), Bronze metal finalist, 2009 Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY), Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)
SILENCED CRY (2007), Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"The Devil Can Wait" 2009 IPPY Bronze Medal Finalist

I received word a few weeks ago that the second book in my Sam Harper Crime Mystery, "The Devil Can Wait" tied for the bronze medal in the 2009 Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY) -- a finalist in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. The winners were announced on May 29, at the BookExpo in New York City.

I was unable to attend the May 29, event and I've been waiting to receive the medal and other materials in the mail. After several e-mails I found out tonight that everything was shipped to my publisher in the UK. I had hoped to take a picture of it to post, but now it looks like it will be a while longer.

According to the IPPY site , of the 3,380 books entered in the national contest, 120 entries made it into the mystery suspense/thriller.When I consider the competition, I'm honored and amazed. I'm also extremely grateful to be blessed with some pretty awesome people in my corner during the writing of this book. To view my list, please visit my post on Murder By 4.

For those interested, here's the blurb:

The city of Chandler, Massachusetts is plunged into terror when the bodies of three local teenagers wash ashore. While homicide detective Sam Harper hunts down the guilty, a sinister plot emerges overseas. From the Vatican to the jungles of South America, a cursed black pearl ring, the demonic prophecy it represents, and the men who pursue its powers find their unfortunate way onto Harper's turf.Enthralled by the ring's story and a front-page spread, newspaper reporter Jennifer Blake agrees to pick up the ring at a local pawnshop for her former college professor. When she does, unforeseen events shoot Blake to the top of Harper's prime suspect list. Soon, the seemingly unrelated cases converge and the heat is on for Harper to expose the truth behind a Vatican secret and stop the self-righteous man who does the unthinkable in the name of God.

For more information, reviews, a chance to buy an autographed copy, please visit: