Archive for June, 2013

Work in Progress: Drosselmeyer Chronicles



       The page header tab above will take you to the first chapter of the book I’m currently working on. Geoff and Ellen get to stay home for this one, it takes place in Roanoke. They are supernumeraries in the Roanoke Festival Ballet production of the Nutcracker.  Events unfold. Comments welcome (text riddled with typos, I know, it’s rough).




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And the band plays on.

   The boys in the band, they play and they play. But nobody throws underwear, or room keys, at a clay pot.

The boyz.


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This was my answer, probably too much of one.

Hi, Sadie:

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked Fit to Curve and I hope you will like Heart Attack, too. The third book (Ghost Walk) is just about ready to publish, the forth (Little Fishes) is finished, first draft, but needs cleaning. I’m currently working on the fifth (Drosselymeyer Chronicles).

The twin/triplet subplot sort of grew by itself. The sisters engage in lots of coming and going, often concealed, and they see (and can comment on) the comings and goings of the other characters. They helped to uncover and connect. They came from a woman I met who talked about her “twin sister” and got me truly confused because there seemed, from her stories, to be more than one. I asked if she had two sisters, who were twins (not including her), thinking I had figured out the only explanation. No, she said, they were all twins, also her fourth sister, but whenever they said triplet or quadruplet people pulled away, because it made them freaks. So they all just said “twin,” because it was true, and kept people from having weird reactions. One of those filed away things.

English is funny with second person plurals. You/your/yours used to be plural, with thee/thy/thine for singular. When you became both, 4-500 years ago, it could be confusing whether somebody meant one person or more than one. Now we use a bunch of plural versions: youse, you guys, you all, you-all, y’all, ya’ll, yawl, all y’all. They tend to be regional, but move around over time. What I like about you-all is that the meaning is clear. A yawl is also a little boat, ya’ll sometimes means “you will” (ya’ll have to buy some new tires). The pronunciation I intend is yawl. You’re right that anybody who sounds out the you in you-all is a non-southerner being condescending or trying to sound chummy. There’s always a tiny bit of another vowel sound in y’all: yi’all, ye’all, yu’all but it’s so tiny a catch sound it gets weird and wrong if you try to spell it out. I think it varies from place to place around the south, but I couldn’t begin to say which goes where. You’ve lived in more southern places than I have. Does this last make any sense?

My wife agrees with you, and tried to get me to use y’all several years ago. I think, between her arguments (she’s an Atlanta girl) and now you, that I was wrong. There’s still the sticky business of y’all versus ya’ll. The second one has strong champions, even though it’s clearly the underdog. The argument is that it comes from ya or ye for you, joined to all. Besides which, it was favored by Faulkner and Hemingway and McCullers. I think I’ll stick with y’all unless I mean to mark someone as not southern (neither of my main characters is, by birth; Ellen’s ear is good, Geoff’s not so much, he could get it wrong).

All of this is moot, in the part of the south my wife and I moved to thirty-five years ago, from Massatusets. Up here, in the hills, it’s not y’all at all, but yu-uns and yur-uns and (my favorite) yursensus. This is the land of chimleys and bullnozers and bob-war, where visitors told it’s time to go home hear “yu-uns stay with us now.” and people “kindly like” things and other people.

On “couple things” versus “couple of things,” I’ll have think about that. I say and write both. I think “couple of” is more correct expository writing, not necessarily so in conversation. “Couple things I need to know: is the gun loaded, are you left-handed?” But if you’re right about “a lot of ‘couple things,’” that’s a tic, and that’s lazy, and not good. Thanks for noticing. And thanks again for taking the trouble to write.


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Sadie said it would be okay to use her email as a post.

Mr. Crawford–

I just completed reading Fit to Curve I have never contacted an author before, but I was compelled to write you as soon as I finished the book. Two things—the first is that I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was well written, the plot was intricate but believable, and the characters came to life on the pages. I did wonder about the inclusion of the little side mystery of the twins who turned out to be triplets, but of course that is your prerogative as the author and did not make my enjoyment of the book any more or any less. There was something that bothered me throughout the book, though, and that is what prompted me to write to you. Before contacting you, I looked up your background to verify that you are not a native southerner. I see that you are presently living in North Carolina, but I have to tell you I was really put off throughout the book by your use of the term “you-all”. If you have lived in North Carolina any length of time, you have to have noticed that in that state as well as most, if not all, southeastern states, the form of address for a group of two or more people is “y’all”, pronounced “yawl”. While my home state is Alabama, I have lived in Georgia and Virginia and have spent considerable lengths of time in every other southeastern state over the last 65+ years. The only time I have heard the term “you-all” is from non-southerners who just do not hear the distinction between the two terms. I am aware that the contraction “y’all” is a shortening of the term “you-all”, but it is still a shortened version that is used extensively, and it just bothers me to see it written incorrectly. One other thing, there is also a colloquialism that I’m thinking is a southern thing. I really don’t know what the correct grammatical version is, but we generally speak of “two things” but a “couple of things” rather than a “couple things”. I only bring this up because there were a lot of “couple things” in the book.

Thank you for providing me with enjoyment and entertainment, sans an obvious agenda, political or otherwise, other than entertainment. I am assuming Fit to Curve was your first book, and I look forward to reading the remaining ones. When I read a new author who has more than one publication, I try to read the books in order of publication. Please think about a possible correction concerning the “you-all” term, though.

Sadie K. Osburn

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more about you

      There’s hundreds of these maps, made by Joshua Katz at North Carolina State University. Many follow the westward-sinking Mason-Dixon line here, but many, in fascinating ways, do not. Here’s a link to the project: Worth many long looks.

      The immediate interest for me was the continuation of the discussion started by Sadie K. Osborne about correct southern usage. From the map it looks like the form I picked is only common along the west-facing coast of Maryland and a big chunk of central Kentucky. Clearly in the green, where my stories have been set, “it’s y’all, all y’all, dammit!” Or “ya’ll.”

plural you

plural you