When I was a kid, we moved every two years or so. Non-military, but the life of a young family always searching for adventure…and usually finding it. Stuffed animals were forgotten under beds and dolls were abandoned in the sand at the playground, but books were always the first and most important things packed. Because no matter where we went in the world, I always felt at home in the pages of a great story. Despite the many years that have passed since I was that skinny little towheaded kid, I can still find my happy place immersed in words. (I deeply regret that I am no longer skinny or towheaded, but you can’t have everything.)
My mother was a teacher, her sister was a teacher, their mother was a teacher. Me? I went into television production. What? I can’t do any kind of job where I have to dress up and wear real shoes. It just doesn’t suit me. I’m a jeans and flip-flops girl. But luckily, I love my work—and its nonexistent dress code—not only because it’s fun, but also because it provides me the opportunity to travel. (On someone else’s dime. That’s really the best way.) On all those long trips, I get to see different parts of the world than I saw as a kid, broadening my knowledge of the cultural and linguistic differences around the globe.
I know how to correctly punctuate “y’all” and that “chop meat” is a region-specific term for what I have always called “ground beef.” I know that when I’m cold, I get “goose bumps,” but if you’re from Alabama, you might get “chill bumps” in the same situation. I can say “Thank you” in a bunch of different languages and can advise you how to describe the location of the best—and cheapest!—wine shop in Florence. I know that you don’t always want your characters to speak like they just completed finishing school and that sometimes it’s OK to use a semicolon in dialogue. (Gasp! Did I really say that? Yep, I did. It’s true. Commence with the stoning.)
The beauty of words is that they have the power to transport the readers into worlds they’ve only dreamed of. But in order to accomplish this goal, those words have to be used effectively and properly. Because what all of this boils down to is that the only person you want to silently correct your grammar is your editor.