Try TO get it right

There is no such phrase as ‘try and’. No one tries and to do something. It’s try to. Try and is grammatically incorrect.

In a sentence the main verb is Try, but another verb comes after the And, so you have two actions. You’re trying AND doing something else. When you’re trying to do something, you’re not doing it, so you have two parts of a sentence, one of which isn’t complete. A person can’t try AND do a thing at the same time. You can try to (make the attempt), or you can do (in which case the thing is being done). You cannot be trying and doing simultaneously.

To help, break such a sentence down.

I’m going to try and get my aunt to take me with her on holiday.

I’m going to try and run a marathon.

Try and get me some vegetables while you’re down at the shop.

I’m going to try is a statement of itself. To grammarians, it reads as though part of the sentence is missing.

I’m going to try (to), and get my aunt to take me with her on holiday.

I’m going to try (to), and run a marathon.

Try (to), and get me some vegetables while you’re down at the shop.

None of these make sense, so something is missing. The and is a cursor to another action. You’re going to try to (what?), AND you’re doing something.

I’m going to try to (save for a break), and get my aunt to take me with her on holiday.

I’m going to try to (take up exercise), and run a marathon.

Try to (remember your chores) and get me some vegetables while you’re down at the shop.

Some people will argue that try and is simply informal speech, and therefore acceptable sometimes. To a point I agree, but not because of the reasons many of those sites specify.

If seen in a book (I feel) it would be just about okay in dialogue or if a book is written in close first person point of view, where we’re hearing a more casual rhythm of someone’s natural speech in the narrative; however, when you listen to people saying this, a good portion of those (I argue) aren’t even saying try and. It’s more abbreviated even than that. It’s try ’n’.

Simply put, it takes more effort to say try to, and over time and (I’m sure) owing to dialects been shortened to more of a sound than anything else. The ‘to’ is shortened the way people say gonna, instead of going to.

I’m going to try’n go out. I’m going to try’n buy that jacket. These are simply lazy ways of saying try to.

When I see try and in narrative I’m with the grammarians who argue it’s wrong because it pulls me out of a story. But I might use it in dialogue because speech should sound natural. But editors will spot this, and many will correct the writer or at least question this. Worse case, they’ll feel the author cannot grasp the correct use of grammar.

Dragon #14

Quite a cheap dragon this week. Not the sort I usually go for. So why did I pick up this one?

I bought this dragon many years ago in part to support a book and trinket shop in Tintagel, Cornwall; what was King Arthur’s Bookshop at the start of the path leading to the ruins. I often found interesting books in there, and I quite liked the shop. Sadly, it’s now a pasty shop, though the bookshop stayed open for a good many years after I found this dragon, and at least it’s not closed. On this occasion, there were no books I wanted, but not wishing to leave the shop without showing a local business some support, I opted for this chap. I mean, a dragon… sitting on a book. Had to be the logical choice.

Update Oct 2021

Hi Everyone!

Went to a local market for the first time in… it’s got to be 20 months at least. Still keeping ourselves as safe as we can (too many seem to have forgotten you can still catch the virus whether you’re vaccinated), but trying to have something of a life. Sounds a simple thing, but it delighted us to buy pasties, sausage rolls (fabulous sausage, cheese, and red onion marmalade flavour!), fresh bread, and a lovely bunch of roses. Time out definitely makes you appreciate the simple things in life.

Watching Squid Game on Netflix along with what seems most of the population — a rather brutal live or die dark fiction drama, but Episode 6 was so sad and a real pull on the heartstrings. Episode 7 had to potential to give me vertigo. Only two episodes to go.

Catching up with BBC’s Ghosts, which I watch mostly because it’s so close to something I wrote as a child, it’s almost like seeing my idea come to fruition. Of course, I was too young to pull it off, but the basic idea was the same. Proves timing is everything, and that authors share ideas all the time.
We finally got around to watching No One Get Out Alive. Alas, as I expected, it’s nowhere near as good an experience as reading the book, in part because it’s rewritten and reset for an American audience. Still, the film version had some concepts I liked, but whatever one thinks of the film, I’d recommend the book.

I have now started listening to audiobooks, a thing I’ve done in the past, but gave up because I often found my concentration wandering. I would need to rewind too often. Fortunately, I’ve discovered I can listen when cycling, when drawing, and when preparing dinner, so I’ve added audiobooks to my ‘reading’ experience again. There are also a lot of dramatisations worth paying attention to. I’ll include and mark any books which I’ve enjoyed audibly.

Night Shift, Charlaine Harris
The last book in the Midnight series, this ties up the loose ends nicely, although I felt the big showdown falls back somewhat on a tired cliche. I felt Manfred was a little under-used, seeing as he’s been the main character from the start. Here, all the characters get their screen time, and it’s the characters that make the books entertaining. Now I’ve finished them, the series almost feels too short. Of course, Mr Snuggly (a talking cat) had to have the last word.

The Ruins, Scott Smith
A book with a slightly misleading title, in that it led me to expect adventurers finding something terrible buried beneath the earth or in some old tomb. If I say it’s about a strange vine, no doubt many will want to move on, but this book’s saving grace and what lifts it above B-Movie status is it’s so well written. There’s no letup, and no doubt left in the reader’s mind. The narrative draws you into the characters’ plight, makes you root for them regardless of their personalities. Makes the reader plead for a rescue. The narrative, sadness, predicament, and dread are simply relentless. This completes for a read of the year.

Imaginary Friend, Stephen Chbosky
This is a tough book to rate. The writing is too basic for many adults, yet age appropriate for the protagonist who is a child. Note: The golden rule used to be if the main character was a child, then it was a book for children because publishers believed adults wouldn’t be interested in what happened to children. We’re somewhat past this now, following on from the success of the Harry Potter books which gained an adult audience. However, there’s not enough to differentiate between the characters in… well, character, or age. And I imagined the children as far older than purported to be. What drives this book — the purpose of the book, if you like — is subtext. I didn’t find the horror in the book all that horrific because of the child-like narrative. The author uses far too many fragmented sentences for every paragraph to be enjoyable. Though I don’t know what I’d cut, this is a HUGE book. Far too long. The subtext covers many things… seems sometimes to talk about how we treat each other, how people operate in society and behave towards their neighbours, our family and friends, as much as it includes religion — a criticism I’ve seen, though I’m left uncertain whether the author is for or against. It touches on the personal note and a bigger picture. The story has stayed with me, but I’m uncertain if I care about that the book offered, and though there was no way I was going to stop reading and I’m an avid and determined reader, the book was too long even for me because it became repetitive in the last quarter. The book has something to say, but the question is whether you’ll want to hear any of it. There are several deliciously creepy parts. There are characters you want to know more about and become invested in, but I’m not sure that for such a long book there was a big enough pay off for the characters I cared about. For every plus, I found a negative. I’m honestly torn. Though the scope is impressive, it left me with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I neither like nor dislike the book.

Get a F*cking Grip, Matthew Kimberley (audio book)
A five and a half hour giggle with the only self-help book anyone truly needs. May also be the only proverbial kick anyone needs. We all know these things — the book tells us nothing new — but it states more than a few home truths many people won’t enjoy hearing and won’t let themselves pay attention to. Yes, there’s some silliness too, but the author puts all the advice you ever knew and didn’t want to listen to together entertainingly, and has the perfect voice to present it.

Ask an Astronaut, Tim Peake
I’ve taken several weeks to read this book, dipping in an out, but having loved, ‘Hello, is this planet Earth?’, Tim’s pictorial look at travelling to space reading this was a simple decision. Tim has put together a fascinating and informative book that answers every question most of us would ever want to ask and answers them in a way most anyone can understand. From training, to launch, to working in space, what a spacewalk is like, and how it feels to return to Earth, as well as what’s coming in the future. A fun narrative and must-read book for anyone who has ever looked up at the stars and wondered what’s out there.

Pine, Francine Toon
I found this story interesting, and the book is an easy read. It’s certainly atmospheric, even mystical, but I found small sections felt choppy. Some conversations likewise, perhaps to lead the reader astray. At first, I thought I was reading a ghost story. Ultimately, as much as some of the book is lovely, other parts feel flat, and the reveal happens too fast. The supernatural elements never reach a satisfactory pay off. As a debut novel, it’s good, but I have to wonder what the editorial staff were thinking; they’re there to work with authors to make sure the book meets its potential, and this book leaves too many threads blowing in the wind. Even down to Lauren’s apparent bullying at school, and her questionable ability to weave some kind of spell to put a stop to it — is this real? Or the desperation of a tormented child? I can only think the author intended to leave such questions unanswered, which would be fine if there weren’t so many of them. Despite this, I enjoyed the read, though the book is going into the charity pile.

I’ve sorted out my work in progress and hope to have a finished book by the end of the month. Publication wise, next February might be good timing owing to the subject… providing I’m happy with the finished result. Anything I’m dissatisfied with gets trunked these days. One thing I would like to do is to write some more short stories.

Stay happy and healthy!
Sharon x

A Walk around Siblyback Lake

I’ve not been able to share much in the way of days out for some time owing to the Covid situation and a few ailments, but with the lifting of restrictions and a little perseverance, I’ve managed to get out and about lately. Here’s one of my recent days out, walking around Siblyback Lake. We went on quite a cloudy day, but the sun showed itself enough to make for a pleasent visit.

Part of the S.W. Lakes Trust, Siblyback Lake sits within the stunning landscape of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Offering numerous recreational pursuits from a simple walk around the supposedly 3 mile circumference of the lake, which also provides an Activity Centre for those who wish to hire equipment for water sports.

Note: I say supposedly because many of these distances seem to be measured ‘as the crow flies’ and we measured with the aid of my pedometer and our judgement more at four to four and a half miles, but the path is well-laid out and the walk enjoyable lasting a comfortable time at a steady pace.

If you can believe anyone with half a brain cell would want to try it, there are signs instructing visitors not to dive from Siblyback Dam, or to cycle or skateboard down the steps.

There is a cafe which has a great reputation; unfortunately, the day we visited, although we arrived before 11am, they’d already run out of most supplies, and it was a 25 minute wait for anyone wanting cooked food brought to a table. I’m assuming this was something to do with misjudging the demand, a problem with the supply chain, and possibly staff storages owing to the Covid situation. If this was normal service, I don’t see how they would keep their high rating. We could only buy a single sausage roll and a brownie which we shared. Both were nice (brownie better than the sausage roll), though came at a price.

The way in isn’t too bad with only a small stretch being a single track road where you might meet oncoming cars, and there’s additional parking before you reach the Activity Centre which is where the main parking is situated.

Got or Gotten?

Editing requires compromise between editor and writer. Editing shouldn’t occur in one direction, but I’ll likely talk about that another time. The point is edits should be open for discussion, so it may be a surprise to hear me say there’s one word I’ve always insisted not appear in my work. That word is gotten.

In the USA and Canada, gotten is the past participle of got (some say it’s also the past participle of get, but it’s more complicated).

In the UK got is the past participle of get. UK dictionaries list gotten as North American and Archaic.

To put it another way and further explain, the past tense of get is got, but in British English, got is also the past participle. In American English, it depends on the situation. Though it’s a little hard for me to get my head around (seems unnecessarily convoluted), it depends on whether the circumstances are ‘static’ meaning possessing or needing, or ‘dynamic’ meaning acquiring or becoming.

So one might say, I got a new dog, but equally, I’ve gotten a new dog. In both cases, a Brit would simply use got.

Both versions are ancient, but the simple got has been the accepted use for so long in the UK most people don’t know gotten ever existed or even does. For a long time when younger if I came across gotten in a book, I assumed the writer was using slang, particularly when the word formed part of speech. To be fair, for someone who had never come across the word in an English lesson, and for which it sounded so jarring, it’s not an implausible assumption to make.

There are plenty of words which become part of the British language, and I don’t mean those we’ve imported from the United States, particularly by watching an influx of American television shows. Many words in many languages originate from other sources, and even form the basis of words we know today. Many of these enrich our vocabulary, but gotten has never worked for me. Neither does scarf (as in scarf down food — in the UK we would say to scoff down food).

So, why do I dislike gotten so much, especially as it’s one of those words creeping back into the English language? Language everywhere has always been pliable. New words form; equally words drop out of usage. Gotten ‘to my ear’ sounds lazy (and I stress only what I hear, not in criticism of its use elsewhere), because it sounds like slang. Simple as. Also, the UK use is far simpler. But more than that I’ve written mostly English characters based in the UK (or in space and yes, some fantasy settings), but for those contemporary works, I know most British characters wouldn’t use the word, so it makes no sense for it to appear in the narrative. I would argue the same in the scarf/scoff example. If I were writing an American character, I would equally insist on word appropriate language.

Update September 2021

Hi Everyone!

Been out and about for the first time in almost 2 years. At long last visited relatives, and shortly after we spent a week in the Tamar Valley, Cornwall. We mostly walked around gardens and did our best to stay away from people. Morning and evening we enjoyed the view. Because of needing to book and limited entry numbers, health issues, and the weather, we weren’t able to do all we might usually have done, but it was a much appreciated break. Maybe more on that another time.

Watched Hausen, a strange dystopian German drama that I would say fits dark fiction rather than horror. The building is as much a character as any of the people, maybe the lead of this slightly surreal reflection of tenement life. The dark gloop that infests the outrageously tall block of flats seems to be a manifestation of the bleakness in some lives. It’s overlong and a little slow, but worth a watch if you like this type of genre… but ‘only’ if it’s your type of programme.

Sticking to the dark/horror themes, we’re watching Brand New Cherry Flavor, a Netflix original that’s as bizarre as it is interesting.

We want to watch No One Get Out Alive asap — more on that below in Reading.

This month I read a couple of ebooks that were so odd and somewhat distasteful, I’m not giving them air time. The subjects were peculiar and both could have done with editing. Lesson learned I shouldn’t always listen to group recommendations.

Watchers, Dean Koontz
A re-read for me, and I must start by saying that it’s possible but surprising the author was not aware back in 1987 that human chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but I would hope any reprints of this book would have the scenes where Travis feeds the dog such treats removed. There’s also a flippant remark about washing the dog almost ‘too much’. Dogs should not be washed more than once or twice a year because it upsets the balance of oils in their coats. Short lesson aside, maybe it’s a sign of changing times, but although I remember enjoying this book the first time around, a protagonist who indulges in shooting any living thing for ‘fun’, even if it is a snake, seems a strange choice, although Travis becomes a good lead, with Nora perhaps more so. Of course, the star of this book is the retriever. Again, one has to wonder if some parts of this book work today — putting out a cover story about a medical research dog having gone astray now might have as many people looking for the dog to hide it as to hand it in. The book also has the ultimate antagonist (more than one), which is to be as pitied as feared. Though a great thriller, this speaks to anyone who has loved a dog, has had to show the greatest loyalty in return by being there in times of heartbreak. This remains one of Koontz’s more famous novels with a following of dog lovers everywhere. Touched me as much now as it did when first read.

Quite Ugly One Morning, Christopher Brookmyre
I have to admit some of the Scottish colloquiums escaped me, though I got the gist. This humorous thriller set in the shady world of the NHS is so perfectly plausible and entertaining, it’s almost a must-read. I loved the character of Parablaine and would definitely read more work by Brookmyre if not for my to-be-read mountain. Highly recommend.

Day Shift, Charlaine Harris
We learn more about the strange community living in Midnight in this book, with Manfred especially facing threats from outside which endangers them all, including the peculiar reopening of an old hotel. This is a fun fantasy, and while I enjoyed much of Harris’s work, I think I like this series most of all. Although it’s not the fastest pace, this makes for comfortable reading with characters interesting enough to capture attention. They all have strengths (some supernatural), and yet very human weaknesses. We particularly learn more about Olivia’s past, the Rev’s nature, and Joe and Chuy in this one. There’s one more book, which is a relief considering my to-be-read mountain. Yet another part of me is sorry there’s only one more to go. Not every plot point is perfect, but the characters carry this through.

The Great Mordecai Moustache Mystery, Kyril Bonfiglioli
Although I dithered whether to read this one, it’s the novel which features the disagreement over Mordecai’s moustache, so I went ahead. A little disappointed Jock didn’t have more time on the pages, and though this book finished well (completed after Bonfiglioli’s death) I could tell the difference; something about parts of this feels like an easier read than previous books. Either the reader gets the Mordecai dry humour and appreciates it, or doesn’t. I can see it’s not for everyone. Reminiscent of many a classic and a blend of many. Incidentally, the film took a little from all the books to create a mash-up.

No One Gets Out Alive, Adam Nevill
I would plough through Adam Nevill’s work if not for my to-be-read mountain and the fact that would leave me waiting for him to write more books to devour. In anticipation of the upcoming Netflix adaptation, I wanted to read the novel first. This is a horror story of two worlds, urban despair and cruelty wrapped up with supernatural dread and distress, and it’s difficult to know which contains the most terror. The story also takes a necessary tangent towards the end that piles on more anxiety, questioning the main character’s sanity. Much of the story is relentless, and now I’m waiting for the husband to finish the book before we watch the film… which I’m sure will be nowhere near as good as the reading experience. So far this is my read of the year.

I’m halfway through the first round of edits on a work in progress, which I confess I should have finished long before now. I feel catching Covid a few weeks ago sucked away not only my imagination but motivation.
Stay happy and healthy!
Sharon x

Dragon #13

To choose a thirteenth dragon, I thought I would opt for one of my largest. Something grand. I ordered this online many years ago, and what surprised me the most was although I saw him pictured, there was nothing to suggest the wingspan. Indeed, I took these photos some time ago in a different house and area to the one where I’m living now, and gave up trying to get the whole dragon in the photo. I don’t think I had quite such a fabulous camera, and trying to focus on both the height of the dragon and the wings proved difficult. I hope these photos show this dragon off to its full splendour.