Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Ye Olde #Grammarian (No. 6): A Hodgepodge, Plus Some E-Book #Formatting Tips from Lorinda J. Taylor

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This is the second post from the archives of fantasy author Lorinda J. Taylor who has two blogs for me to choose from.

Ye Olde Grammarian (No. 6): A Hodgepodge, Plus Some E-Book Formatting Tips from Lorinda J. Taylor

Otherwise known as a potpourri, pastiche, melange, mishmash, or gallimaufry!

I recently read somewhere about certain conventions of print books that I realized I had been flagrantly violating. (I checked a bunch of books that I own and by golly, both these things are true.)

First, don’t use “by” on the cover and title page. Unfortunately, I have done that consistently, until the last two books in the Ki’shto’ba series, where I dropped the “by” on the cover. I did, however, retain it on the title page, again for the sake of consistency.

The other convention is that the first paragraph of a chapter or chapter section is not indented. Sometimes they even use a few letters in all caps. After I learned this, I tried not indenting, but it just didn’t look right to me, so again for the sake of consistency I persisted in indenting the first paragraph.

So I make my mea culpas. In my next publication, I may amend my ways. In the meantime, if it really bothers you that I use “by” on the cover and t.p. or that I indent the opening paragraphs, I guess you just can’t read my books, or you can read the e-books, where clarity is the only rule that really applies.

I am very much aware that a writer should italicize the names of ships. I didn’t do that in v. 5 and 6 of The Labors of Ki’shto’ba Huge-Head. Somehow I thought it seemed artificial. I think the Shshi consider their ships as something more than inanimate objects, so, since one does not italicize the names of individuals, it seemed wrong not to treat ships the same way. You’ll notice that I did italicize the name of the human ship in v. 6. And that’s saying more than I should.

So I don’t want to hear any complaints that I don’t know that rule!

Now I want to talk about backward apostrophes. In Word, most people use curly apostrophes and when you type a single apostrophe, it comes out like this: He said, ‘I see you.’ An initial single apostrophe always opens to the right, which is correct for a quotation mark. But when the apostrophe signifies an omission, it shouldn’t open to the right — it should open to the left. Wrong: Eat ‘em up! It should be Eat ’em up! So how did I make it go the right way? I type this: Eat ‘’em up! and then go back and delete the first apostrophe. I get irked every time I read a book formatted by somebody who doesn’t know you can do this.

So what’s with the word or words “alright” and “all right”? Here is the Usage Note under “alright” in

“The form alright as a one-word spelling of the phrase all right in all of its senses probably arose by analogy with such words as already and altogether. Although alright is a common spelling in written dialogue and in other types of informal writing, all right is used in more formal, edited writing.”

It may be becoming common to spell it “alright,” but it still irks me when I encounter it in an otherwise well-edited book.

I have always had problems knowing whether to use “a while” or “awhile.” Read what Grammar Girl has to say about it — it’s basically what I finally came up with on my own.

“Awhile” is an adverb. “I stayed awhile.” “He stared at the girl awhile and then approached her.”

“A while” is simply an article plus a noun, and that construction is required when an object is involved, for example, in prepositional phrases: “I stayed for a while.” “He left after a while.” Grammar Girl gives this example, which may confuse some people. “It’s been a while since he visited.”

The reason you use the noun form here is that “to be” in a copular, or linking, verb and takes a predicate nominative or a predicate adjective rather than an adverb. (You wouldn’t say, “He’s been quietly for a while,’ would you? You would say, “He’s been quiet for a while.” “Quiet” is an adjective modifying “he.”) Esoteric, you say? You should have heard my mother expounding on linking verbs! Some other linking verbs are “to become,” “to feel ,” to smell,” etc. If you’re interested in pursuing this further, go here.

I’m going to reiterate what I said in an earlier post about using commas in terms of address.

It’s the old “Let’s eat, Grampa” vs. “Let’s eat Grampa” dichotomy. In my earlier post I said this: “The use of the vocative (i.e., an instance where you are addressing someone) is related to this. … Here is another [example] as to why you should set off the name of the person addressed with a comma:

What don’t you want to tell John?

What don’t you want to tell, John?

I recently read a book where the language got really confused because of the omission of commas. I was always having to stop and go back and figure out what the author meant. I think it’s a British tendency to omit commas in this sort of construction, but I do wish people would return to the old rule.

To read my other Olde Grammarian posts, go to

Summary of how to do ToC links on Smashwords

Now I’m going to add a bit on e-book formatting using Word — how to easily create a linked Table of Contents. Smashwords insists that you do this, but Kindle doesn’t care. I get irritated when an e-book doesn’t have a ToC linked to the chapters and also chapters linked back to the ToC, because it’s so easy to lose your place in an e-book and this way you can always skip through by chapter. I recommend that everybody do this on all their e-books. It takes a little time, but it’s not difficult and your readers (or at least I) will thank you.

Make your Table of Contents (remove all links based on style, e.g., Heading 1 or ToC1, etc.)
Select each chapter heading in the text and create Insert Bookmark (on Insert menu).

Remember, no spaces in bookmark names; abbreviate as much as you like as long as it’s clear (e.g., Ch1 for Chapter One or Note for Note to the Smashwords Edition).

Go to ToC list and select each Chapter designation. Then add a Hyperlink, using the Insert menu or the right-click menu. Click on “Place in this document.” Select the corresponding bookmark and then click on OK.

Then make a bookmark for the heading “Table of Contents.” Smashwords suggests using “ref_ToC”

Go one more time through the document text, selecting each chapter heading and making a hyperlink using “ref_ToC.” This will link each chapter back to the top of the Table of Contents.
Double check to make sure the ToC entries link to the correct chapters.

©Lorinda J. Taylor

My thanks to Lorinda for clearing up some common grammar issues and a tip on making sure your ebook has a Table of Contents.

About Lorinda J. Taylor

A former catalogue librarian with two graduate degrees, Lorinda J. Taylor was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and worked in several different academic libraries before returning to the place of her birth, where she now lives. She has written fantasy and science fiction for years but began to self-publish only in 2011. To this point, she has published fifteen science fiction/fantasy novels, including seven volumes of a series retelling myths in terms of her intelligent termite civilization. Her writings combine many aspects of science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, future history, off-world adventure, psychological fiction, and even a love story. She always strives to engage readers emotionally and give them something to think about at the end of each book.

A small selection of  books by Lorinda J. Taylor

One of the reviews for part five of the series – Phenix Rises

To ensure I don’t inadvertently add any ‘spoilers’, I have decided to write this review when I am only two thirds of the way through Ms Taylor’s latest ‘block-buster’. Once again, the author has produced a large and satisfying chunk of intergalactic travel, spiced with inter-related struggles between the friends and colleagues of Captain Robbie. I have read all of the series and this time the ‘atmosphere’ has mellowed, so (I hope and suspect) all will be nicely resolved by the end of the book. Such empathy from the writer with her characters, can only have been created by ‘living’ the story (in her imagination) through them. I am still not overly fond of ‘our hero’ but his friends are a wonderfully rich mixture of interesting and varied personalities which keep me coming back for more. The author must be a keen observer of human nature to have included so many different guises so seamlessly within the narrative. Another tour-de-‘force – which I hope will be with her’, for many more stories to come.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Lorinda on Goodreads:

Connect to Lorinda

Blog 2:
MeWe: Lorinda J. Taylor

My thanks to Lorinda for allowing me to share posts from her archives and I hope you will head over and enjoy exploring yourselves. thanks Sally

18 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Ye Olde #Grammarian (No. 6): A Hodgepodge, Plus Some E-Book #Formatting Tips from Lorinda J. Taylor

  1. Thanks so much for the share, Sally! As I was reading this over, I was thinking how absolutely everybody seems to be using “alright” these days, but I remain a hold-out and still use “all right.” Also, I discovered that instead of using ref_ToC as Smashwords suggests, it’s quicker to use something like Aref_ToC because the list is alphabetical, so the A places the bookmark at the top of the list and you don’t have to keep scrolling down.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Useful tips – thanks for those.
    We don’t use ‘awhile’ much in the UK, but most of my writing group use “whilst” instead of “while” a lot. I don’t change it when I’m editing for our anthology, but it seems dated to me.
    I’ve changed my Word defaults to straight quotes in my own writing, to avoid spending time doing as you do when writing dialogue (as in, “keep ’em coming”). Trouble is, I don’t always remember to adjust this when editing; our writers mostly use curly quotes. It’s just a click on the “format” shortcut I set up (top left of my Word screen) or else I copy and paste from elsewhere in their story, but I tend to forget until my proofing software pulls me up for consistency.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This gets into the nitty-gritty of ebooks! Formatting can be a challenge, but one feels such a sense of accomplishment when it’s done. I switched to “straight quotes” after struggling with the curly ones that didn’t curl properly. And I had no clue about not indenting the first paragraph of a chapter, but mended my ways with my most recent book. Agreed about including a linked TOC, and (for fiction) using chapter titles. When I’m reading, I don’t always remember in what chapter something happened, in case I need to go back and check. Chapters with titles make this easier. Thanks for this post, Lorinda and Sally.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Solar Minimum, Jazz Guitar, Vitamin Deficiency, Italian Cookery and Mischief in the court of Charles II | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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