WHAT YOU'RE TELLING YOUR READERS ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU WRITE!
I'll bet you never gave a lot of thought to what you are revealing about yourself when you write a book, especially if the setting is contemporary. Some people don't even think about the words they use to describe certain things, but they will give the reader a very good idea of where you live.
Let me give you a couple of examples. If you are writing a contemporary mystery and you refer to a body draped over the bonnet of a car, or that the thief chased the woman into a car park, you reader will know you are from the
British Isles. Why? Because in the Western
Hemisphere the bonnet refers to something a woman or a child wears
on her head. The metal covering of a car engine in America
is called a hood. Then there's the car park. In the US
we call it a parking lot. If you look hard, you'll find a lot of language
But it gets even more complicated in the States, even in
The words you choose are going to tell as lot about you. Canadians like to
insert an 'eh' into their sentences, especially in Eastern half of the country.
Let me give you another quick example. I'm from the Midwest,
or at least I was born and lived a lot of my life there. I grew up with
groceries being placed in a sack. Then I met and married my hero, a guy from
the east coast. We've been arguing about my 'sack' ever since. In the east and
the south, people put groceries in bags, plastic or paper. People just look at
me when I say a plastic sack is fine. Try arguing about the names of drinks.
Coke, pop, Dr. Pepper, soda. I'll even throw in sweet tea here. Every section
has a different name.
But the arguments don't end there. I always though a bread roll was something you put a hot dog into. And of course, in the
I think catsup goes on everything. Imagine my surprise when a bread roll turned
out to be something that was smeared with butter and eaten for breakfast after
you dunked it into coffee. A bun to me
was either something for a hamburger or a twisted piece of sweet yeast dough
with cinnamon, apples, or raisins, or both and glazed, a real breakfast treat.
However, chances are you are looking at a danish in the south or the east. And
of course, to an Easterner, catsup on a hot dog is a sacrilege. Mustard and sour kraut only please!
And it's not confined to the east, the
or the south. Hawaii's favorite
sandwiches are often made with spam. And they have a special roll, a different
form of a Japanese treat made with spam. I'm sorry I don't remember the name,
but it is not something I ever associated with spam.
Of course, certain phrases will give you away. In the south 'a far piece' is a long distance, and fixin' can be used for about everything. "I'm fixin' dinner, I'm fixin' to go to church."
Even in the
Midwest there are certain
phrases that will give you away. We pick up the house, (meaning to straighten),
we rid up the dishes, (meaning clear the table).
All of this is great if you want your characters to speak as if they are natives to a particular section of the country, but be aware, certain words and phrases are going to tell the reader from where you hail. My only comment - Isn't language great!
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In the hospital they keep calling her Sam and telling her she's married to Alex Porter but she doesn't know this Alex. Then she discovers she's lost more than a year of her life and Alex can't, or won't, tell her what happened. He refuses to let her see or talk to her father and there is also something very important about Samantha, she can't remember.
Alex Porter can't explain how Sam was either pushed or jumped from a moving car traveling away from him, or why Sam's memory disappeared but he's sure her father played a role. All he can do is offer support as she recovers and wait for her to come to him as she had before the accident, hoping against hope, Sam's father has not ruined his marriage and driven away the woman he is starting to love.
Sam opened her eyes and felt more alert. Her head ached, but the pain wasn’t as sharp. Morning sun shone through a window opposite her bed, but the bright light didn’t seem to start the awful pounding in her head the way it had before. The thumping sound beside her head didn’t seem as loud. She was even aware of noise outside her door.
The doctor said she’d been in an accident. She blinked, trying to remember what had happened to her.
She closed her eyes, hoping she could concentrate and remember how had she gotten hurt. Driving home from work? Her dad would know. Knowing how possessive he was, he’d be here soon. Then she’d ask him about this marriage nonsense.
When more voices registered, she strained to hear what was being said. The first doctor and the familiar deep, husky voice were talking. She needed to open her eyes to see if they were close, but that would mean twisting her head and she wasn’t ready for that.
“Post traumatic amnesia...”
“But it won’t last, will it?” The man’s voice rushed through her, and she drew a rapid breath. Why did it sound so familiar?
“Look, Mr. Porter, I know this has been difficult for you, but your wife sustained massive injuries.” The doctor’s words jolted her. Wife? No!
“A head injury…her coma was not unexpected. We still don’t know how much damage was done and it will be some time before we do. You have to be patient. She is talking and beginning to move, so that’s encouraging.”
“How long before you know the extent of damage?”
“Well, after I’ve run more tests...” The voices faded away.
Sam struggled with what she had heard.
Damage. What had happened to her?
She couldn’t remember, but they had it all wrong. This was some kind of horrible misunderstanding. They had to have mistaken her for someone else, someone who looked like her.
Aunt Jewel would know. Sam smiled. Of course, her wonderful aunt, the only mother she’d ever known, would clear this up immediately. All it would take was a phone call. Aunt Jewel would be able to confirm her identity.
Maybe Aunt Jewel had flown in when she heard Sam had been hurt. Since her aunt practically raised her, it would make sense that she was here. As blunt as she was, Aunt Jewel would clear this up in short order.
Now, where was her father? She thought he’d be here by now. She gasped. If he checked on her, he had to have been here, so why hadn’t he corrected the doctor and the nurses and told them she wasn’t this Mrs. Porter?
None of it made any sense. As anxiety started to build, a massive headache developed. It felt like a thousand little men were in her head, each one pounding on a drum. She closed her eyes to block out the agony. Anything to stop the pain.
Concentrate, she ordered, and wiggled in bed before trying to lift her arms and legs. She could move her arms and one leg a bit. The other leg seemed to be immobile. But best of all, if she moved her head slowly, she could turn without the sensations nearly blinding her.
The room was large with a window on one side. A long, wooden shelf held a vase of red and white carnations, and a display of cards lined the rest of the wood. She’d have to ask a nurse if she could see the cards. Something might indicate why everyone had made such a mistake.
Dr. Burton sauntered into the room. “Good morning, my dear. Glad to see you’re awake, because we need to do a few more tests.”
A nurse stuck her head around the door. “Doctor, Mr. Porter is waiting.”
“All right, send him--”
“No! No, please. I’m not married,” she pleaded. “It’s all a mistake. I don’t have a husband.”
About the Author
Allison Knight began her writing career like many other authors when she read a book she didn't like. Her children scoffed when she said she was also going to write a book. After lots of rewrites and the support of her husband, she garnered a three book contract for her first historical romances.
Today, with her husband's continued support and to the delight of her children, she writes the genres she loves, musing about her writing life on her own blog or as a guest blogger and eagerly praising the growing digital and the convenience of an e-reader.
Allison's first contemporary romance for Champagne Books, "Betrayed Bride" came out in May of 2013. "
Lynbrook's Lady" is to be released in August.