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!

AT HOME:
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.

FILM/TV:
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.

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.

WRITING:
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.

Update August 2021

Hi Everyone!

AT HOME:

Been recovering from Covid, mostly. Read a lot, watched TV, slept and slept, and slept again. A dry cough remains, and my taste still isn’t 100%. Alas, it also set back the advances I’d made owing to acupuncture. Not sure whether I’ll have more sessions — I’ll wait until the medical services allow my acupuncturist back to work and then discuss the situation. Hate needles and, though prepared to give it another go, I won’t continue going through this if he can’t do more (there are a few ways to ‘tweak the prescription’). Our good most immediate neighbours moved out. Missing them already, though we’ve no chance yet to know what the new ones are like.

FILM/TV:

Still re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and will be for some weeks as there were several seasons. Completed Prodigal Son. Sorry to see Fox cancelled it, but such is the way with some many shows, especially those from the US. Was still worth watching what episodes there are for the excellent stories and performances. Still, it deserved one more episode or a special to finish it. Drives me crazy when these production companies show fans such little respect by cutting shows off without a proper conclusion. Have watched nothing else especially noteworthy.

READING:

The Elementals, Michael McDowell

I’m so pleased to have read this. I loved the setting and the characters, which create a unique atmosphere for this haunted house story. The heat portrayed makes you want to lie around doing nothing but melting and reading this book. There are some truly spooky scenes, though I found the buildup more sinister than the ending. Towards the end, the book feels a little rushed because of the languid though absorbing journey to get there. Indeed, I found the slower parts of the book carry the more eerie aspects, so that when the story speeds up, as a climax should, it almost diminishes the scare, leaving me feeling the novel was over too fast. Still, the curious happenings and daunting disturbances are worth spending time with.

Stolen Tongues (ebook), Felix Blackwell

This book came to attention on Reddit leading to publication, so it created something of a stir on social media recently. Like many others, curiosity led me to read it. I like the background to the story and the reasons for the author writing it (detailed in the author’s afterword), and some parts of the book have a decidedly creepy factor. However, it didn’t scare me and I felt the story went on for too long. I could often picture this being far more unsettling if filmed.

Grave Sight, Charlaine Harris

The first good thing about the book is the protagonist has a decidedly different feel to that of Charlaine Harris’s most famous leading lady. There’s no confusing Harper Connolly with Sookie Stackhouse. I immediately liked many of the characters, and Harper comes across as strong but vulnerable, an intriguing combination. The series appears to be very much mystery thriller and has a more focused and mature quality to the work. I enjoyed trying to figure out the culprit. The end is logical and entertaining, but the twists to get there more so. One of four. I’m reading on.

Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris

The second novel in the series featuring Harper Connolly, a woman with a strange talent for sensing the dead. This book features a well-rounded mystery, though this time I figured out a few lead suspects of which one was right. We also learn more about Harper and Tolliver, although I’m not sure I found the romantic aspect entirely feels right or even necessary.

An Ice Cold Grave, Charlaine Harris

The third of four Harper Connolly novels — the woman who senses the dead. This is the most brutal of these well-plotted mysteries so far, and I’m getting better at choosing likely suspects as I get more used to the series. Still undecided about the romance included here.

Grave Secret, Charlaine Harris

The last of the Harper Connolly novels, we at last learn the truth behind the question of her sister’s death, although this feels somewhat abrupt, almost as though the first 3 books were a setup of Harper’s romantic interest, before the grand reveal. Entertaining enough, I’m glad to have read them.

Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris

At first, I thought this was a fifth book in the Harper Connolly series, but it’s more of an extended spin-off because it contains Manfred, a character from those books. Extended, because there are some wild, and wacky, and supernatural inhabitants of Midnight, and it’s mostly those that keep this mystery going. There are apparently two more books and I’m so taken with the people living in Midnight, I’ll read on.

WRITING:

To the possible spammer who tried to convince me I’d spelled Fether wrong on my website so needed spelling correction, good try (and if you’re not a spammer, apologies, but this kind of thing happens too often to take that kind of remark as anything else). That was a name as part of a title of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. I’m impressed anyone would bother looking so hard, though, unless they did it with some kind of programme.

Cosmic released. Re-edited by me and added to, although at heart the same, I’m glad to see this one out again, as I like these characters.

I also worked on and subbed a short story at request. I’ll let you know about that as soon as I know anything more.

I’ve more than a bit of self-editing to do before I write more, but am understandably behind having spent time getting back to feeling well.

Stay happy and healthy!

Hi Everyone!

AT HOME:

Been recovering from Covid, mostly. Read a lot, watched TV, slept and slept, and slept again. A dry cough remains, and my taste still isn’t 100%. Alas, it also set back the advances I’d made owing to acupuncture. Not sure whether I’ll have more sessions — I’ll wait until the medical services allow my acupuncturist back to work and then discuss the situation. Hate needles and, though prepared to give it another go, I won’t continue going through this if he can’t do more (there are a few ways to ‘tweak the prescription’). Our good most immediate neighbours moved out. Missing them already, though we’ve no chance yet to know what the new ones are like.

FILM/TV:

Still re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and will be for some weeks as there were several seasons. Completed Prodigal Son. Sorry to see Fox cancelled it, but such is the way with some many shows, especially those from the US. Was still worth watching what episodes there are for the excellent stories and performances. Still, it deserved one more episode or a special to finish it. Drives me crazy when these production companies show fans such little respect by cutting shows off without a proper conclusion. Have watched nothing else especially noteworthy.

READING:

The Elementals, Michael McDowell

I’m so pleased to have read this. I loved the setting and the characters, which create a unique atmosphere for this haunted house story. The heat portrayed makes you want to lie around doing nothing but melting and reading this book. There are some truly spooky scenes, though I found the buildup more sinister than the ending. Towards the end, the book feels a little rushed because of the languid though absorbing journey to get there. Indeed, I found the slower parts of the book carry the more eerie aspects, so that when the story speeds up, as a climax should, it almost diminishes the scare, leaving me feeling the novel was over too fast. Still, the curious happenings and daunting disturbances are worth spending time with.

Stolen Tongues (ebook), Felix Blackwell

This book came to attention on Reddit leading to publication, so it created something of a stir on social media recently. Like many others, curiosity led me to read it. I like the background to the story and the reasons for the author writing it (detailed in the author’s afterword), and some parts of the book have a decidedly creepy factor. However, it didn’t scare me and I felt the story went on for too long. I could often picture this being far more unsettling if filmed.

Grave Sight, Charlaine Harris

The first good thing about the book is the protagonist has a decidedly different feel to that of Charlaine Harris’s most famous leading lady. There’s no confusing Harper Connolly with Sookie Stackhouse. I immediately liked many of the characters, and Harper comes across as strong but vulnerable, an intriguing combination. The series appears to be very much mystery thriller and has a more focused and mature quality to the work. I enjoyed trying to figure out the culprit. The end is logical and entertaining, but the twists to get there more so. One of four. I’m reading on.

Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris

The second novel in the series featuring Harper Connolly, a woman with a strange talent for sensing the dead. This book features a well-rounded mystery, though this time I figured out a few lead suspects of which one was right. We also learn more about Harper and Tolliver, although I’m not sure I found the romantic aspect entirely feels right or even necessary.

An Ice Cold Grave, Charlaine Harris

The third of four Harper Connolly novels — the woman who senses the dead. This is the most brutal of these well-plotted mysteries so far, and I’m getting better at choosing likely suspects as I get more used to the series. Still undecided about the romance included here.

Grave Surprise, Charlaine Harris

The last of the Harper Connolly novels, we at last learn the truth behind the question of her sister’s death, although this feels somewhat abrupt, almost as though the first 3 books were a setup of Harper’s romantic interest, before the grand reveal. Entertaining enough, I’m glad to have read them.

Midnight Crossing, Charlaine Harris

At first, I thought this was a fifth book in the Harper Connolly series, but it’s more of an extended spin-off because it contains Manfred, a character from those books. Extended, because there are some wild, and wacky, and supernatural inhabitants of Midnight, and it’s mostly those that keep this mystery going. There are apparently two more books and I’m so taken with the people living in Midnight, I’ll read on.

WRITING:

To the possible spammer who tried to convince me I’d spelled Fether wrong on my website so needed spelling correction, good try (and if you’re not a spammer, apologies, but this kind of thing happens too often to take that kind of remark as anything else). That was a name as part of a title of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. I’m impressed anyone would bother looking so hard, though, unless they did it with some kind of programme.

Cosmic released. Re-edited by me and added to, although at heart the same, I’m glad to see this one out again, as I like these characters.

I also worked on and subbed a short story at request. I’ll let you know about that as soon as I know anything more.

I’ve more than a bit of self-editing to do before I write more, but am understandably behind having spent time getting back to feeling well.

Stay happy and healthy!

Sharon x

Covid Interruption

About this time I should prepare my monthly update, but I’m putting that off until next week, and I didn’t blog last week because despite doing all the right things when we could and going above and beyond, having food delivered, not having seen family since Christmas 2019, and living like hermits, we’ve had Covid.

Of course, the husband knew the weak spot was his work. His supervisor allowed someone coughing and sneezing to stay — he’d done 2 lateral flow tests, both of which said negative. We’ve since learned lateral flow tests are only for people not showing symptoms. It understandably upset us, especially as we were due to visit family on the 19th for a week, and now do not know when we’ll be able to.

And double-jabbed person to double-jabbed person, to the husband, to me. Would interest us to know what strain it is. He got a PCR test right away. Unfortunately, not thinking, I didn’t arrange one at the same time and by then it was too late to do so. I could have had one sent to my home, but I was too poorly by then to post it back, and Test and Trace had advised for everyone in the household to isolate (though we’re confused by this as the regulations are changing, and so many ‘rules’ don’t seem to make sense). As I didn’t have a PCR test, they won’t add it to my medical records. Trust me, I KNOW I had. What that tells me is all those daily figures of infections are ‘only’ PCR positive results. Anyone who doesn’t know they’re infected or simply doesn’t get a PCR (and you may not even qualify sometimes) isn’t registered. So those infection numbers must be way down.

As to the question of how they developed these vaccines so fast, I had it explained to me they didn’t. They tweaked an existing vaccine, and that is all they do nowadays. And as for those saying you’ll just get ‘flu’, I can reliably state this is worse than flu. It’s truly horrible. I’ve had nothing like this and never want it again. Our breathing was fine, which was the main thing.

My symptoms started with a slightly dry throat and barely there headache. Then I ended up with a metallic taste, especially icky when drinking plain water, though that’s the best thing to drink. Splitting headache, sometimes migraine level, 24/7. Painkillers took the edge off but didn’t block it. Head ‘full of cotton wool’. Sinus pain. Coughing (though intermittent. Flu-like ache all over the body, but also PAIN in large muscle groups — like thighs and biceps. Pain in joints, particularly elbows and knees. Flash pain — came and went throughout the body; I had it 3 ‘flash pains’ in my right foot during one night. It’s like it attacks any weak spot in the body — if you’ve an ache somewhere, you’ll feel it more. Loss of appetite. Nausea. Vomiting. Fever (mostly the husband; though my head was hot, I didn’t perspire). Sleeping sickness. Sleep is what we mostly did around the clock. Fatigue. Making a cup of tea called for another 2 hours of sleep. We shuffled around like a pair of geriatrics.
And yes, despite all this, I believe we did well. The worst of the illness lasted about 4 days. Once we ate, we got well, so my advice is don’t let it weaken you.

Looking ahead, I don’t know what we’re going to do. If there’s a chance of continually catching this, what might it do to you? And who wants to feel lousy several times a year? Flu… I can go 5 or 7 years without catching. This I can imagine catching 4 times a year without precautions, so how we’re all supposedly going to live with it only time will tell. For now, we’re left with an occasional dry cough and our taste has diminished about 20%. The thing I can taste the most is chocolate; just a pity it’s not permissible to live on it, eh?

Cosmic re-released

Though I’ve posted this around elsewhere, I’m a week late announcing this on my primary site because of pressing life issues and I also felt last week’s blog too important to overshadow. Originally published by Loose Id, I have re-edited this edition for greater characterisation and depth, but the story remains essentially the same.

Can three hearts break harder than two? While on a mission, the last thing the crew of the Sovereignty expects is to gain an addition crew-member, but when an unknown assailant attacks, Axel has no choice but to beam the stranger on board the spacecraft. Already in a sexual relationship with ‘Snake’, a rare species of alien, Axel certainly isn’t looking for another person to complicate his already challenging existence.

The trouble is he cannot deny his growing attraction to the newcomer, who is a striking and intelligent woman. Sela’s so intelligent she’s already worked out Snake is an alien and the two men are in a somewhat turbulent relationship. Still, Axel isn’t the only one who likes Sela. Snake likes her too, and Sela doesn’t appear to mind the idea Axel and Snake are lovers, especially after she sees them together… But can they truly battle their differences and natural distrust, while fighting a corrupt government and dealing with a zealot of a leader? One man, one woman, and one alien; two males and one female, all fighting corruption and their own desires. In a universe at war, it’s natural to keep secrets, but can too many confidences mean they’ll never find peace?

Available from all good outlets, but if possible, please consider purchasing directly from publishers (in this case, JMS Books — if in the U.S.) to support smaller publishers and authors.

There’s Plagiarism and Then There’s This…

This week I’m not writing a blog myself but draw your attention to a blog excellently written by the author Mitzi Szereto. I know Mitzi’s work, and I know how she edits. She’s not an easy editor to please, holding high standards for work she accepts. These days she’s currently focusing on her True Crime series. I can assure you she writes nothing like the trash someone has put her name to. In addition, if the perpetrator has taken someone’s name, you can bet they stole the content.

This is an important topic for writers, publishers, AND readers because you don’t want to buy a piece of rubbish you believe written by your favourite author and mark them down for substandard work, when the work isn’t theirs. My advice, though I hate to complicate already busy lives, is to check author websites, if in doubt contact the author, as now one cannot take a listing even on Amazon as assurance of a legal and genuine product. You don’t want to hand over your hard-earned money to a criminal. It’s also identity theft and a serious crime. Yes, you heard right. There’s plagiarism and then there’s THIS.