by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
If you are a native speaker of English, then you probably intuitively conjugate verbs without really knowing why they are used in certain ways. It wasn’t until I moved to Ecuador and started learning Spanish that I really began to understand English conjugation. English, however, can take some odd twists and turns, and if you are like my friend Cyndi, it may occur to you that some just sound funny as it did when she was struggling with a past perfect verb tense issue.
But perhaps none sounds as funny as the subjunctive mood. I’ve seen many confused expressions, as well as heard gleeful chortles, from people who were sure that I made a grammar snafu when I used the subjunctive mood. I certainly do make my share of mistakes, but not this time.
The subjunctive mood is used when something hasn’t happened; it is a hope or desire. If the verb is not a form of ‘to be’ then simply use the past or past perfect tense; however, the confusion comes when a form of ‘to be’ is used in the subjunctive mood. In that case, substitute ‘were’ for ‘was.’
• I wish I were on vacation.
• If I were only richer, I would go on vacation.
• If I were you, I would go on vacation.
Besides showing that I obviously need a vacation, these are the phrases that raise eyebrows. I agree that in some circles it sounds snooty, but I can’t bear to break the rule for the sake of acceptance.
The subjunctive mood does have honest roots. Scholar LM Berk theorizes that it comes from old English but it is being used less as time passes, and others believe that it is fading from use completely.
I wish that weren’t true.
by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
Thanks to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other platforms, self-publishing electronically is more accessible than ever. For the first time, authors can bypass traditional publishing companies and test the waters, and markets, for their writings. While this development is exciting, there are three big no-nos that new e-publishers should be aware of before uploading their first books.
1. Copyright Infringement: Copyrights are, simply put, the right a person has to publish writings. A copyright protects the author from having another person use the information or writing as his or her own. This includes re-publishing for profit, photocopying, modifying an original piece or performing without permission. You own your original writings, but conversely, you can’t use someone else’s unless it is out of copyright or you have permission. Penalties for copyright infringement are stiff—from fines up to $150,000 and even jail. Copyright law is enormously complicated, and it is a good idea to become familiar with the basics, and if in doubt, don’t publish it.
These are two good sources of copyright information:
o http://www.benedict.com/ Website Copyright has information about the rights of all media.
o http://www.copyright.gov/ The federal copyright office is the ultimate source for copyright information.
2. Technical SNAFUs: While e-publishing seems like it should be a breeze, as they say, the devil in the details. Most people who dive into the world of e-publishing have at least one horror story of technological mayhem. From a personal perspective, I learned my lesson about over formatting and relying on Word functions too heavily the hard way and had to painfully reformat and republish several of my own books. Because this is a relatively new medium, there are some glitches; although, the platforms are updated often. A number of writer/publisher groups have sprung up, and it’s a good idea to get involved early and start sharing ideas. There are also a number of very well-done books on the subject; do your research for the best chance of success.
http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/ The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing has suggestions, articles and support for new and experienced e-publishers.
3. Premature Publishing: In the near-instant gratification of the e-publishing world, it is very tempting to send your baby out into the world before it’s ready. If you are publishing yourself, remember all the things a conventional publisher would do, and apply these standards yourself.
Proofread and edit very carefully. If you don’t find the mistakes, your readers will.
Create an eye-catching cover. Even in the e-publishing world, readers are drawn to a well-done cover.
Create a marketing plan. Your e-book won’t sell if readers don’t know it’s there.
If it gets overwhelming, hire a pro to help you out with any or all of the steps, or consider publishing with an established e-publisher. It will most likely be money well spent, and some, like Word Branch Publishing, only take a percentage of the royalties so there are no up-front fees.
While this white paper is copyrighted material, the author gives her permission for reprinting as long as
the following is included:
“Three E-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid” by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh
by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh" President, word Branch Media
Nothing seemed to be working for me Internet-wise today, so to put wings to the word on the tip of my tongue, I thought I’d write a blog that was long overdue. My grad school advisor told me that I was too much of a prude to be a serious student of literature, so this one is for you Henry.
Yes gentle readers, I’m talking about the “mother of all swear words,” fracking, fricking, fudge . . . the f-bomb.
So where did the most taboo of all English words come from? How did it get such a bad rap? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the viral email explaining the origins is not correct; although, the etymology is vague. Variations of the word can officially be traced back to the 1400s, and perhaps to a similar German word meaning to breed. The harshness of the sound of the word combined with religious taboos of talking about the act made it the outlawed word it is today.
Contemporary usage dates to the mid-19th century, and in the 20th century it took on the meaning as to mess up. Modern writers use the word for emphasis, reality, anger, and crudeness, and sometimes they use it too much. The bomb has the power to make readers squirm, giggle, blush, and gasp, and it still makes the headlines when celebrities use it in public.
So is it ever appropriate or needed? I’m not here to make judgment calls, but as with all profanity, I do think that overuse kills the shock value of it both in writing and life. I’ve heard people who use it very frequently, and I wonder if it is a desperate plea for attention rather than making a commentary on free speech or an artistic license. On the other hand, an unexpected and uncharacteristic dropping of the bomb can be explosive and memorable.
So Henry, perhaps you are right. I have managed to write a 300 word blog about the F-word without actually saying it. I’ve danced around it, used silly euphemisms, and have seriously thought about it, but I haven’t actually muttered the word.
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