Malaprop 4: Wrath of the Malapro

“Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance.”

The usual mandate of my Malaprop posts is to share bits of bad writing I gather from sources all over the place (usually the net), ranging from the rabid comments sections of the blogosphere to the esteemed pages of the New York Times. I tend also to focus mainly on instances where people misuse words or phrases, like writing “they were chomping at the bent” instead of “they were champing at the bit.” Awful spelling, grammar, and generally fucked-up writing are all too easy to find on the web, so I don’t bother calling attention to them.

I also don’t source the screw-ups, as I’m not really trying to target anybody specifically for their errors.

Today, however, we have a very special episode of Malaprop. I will be showing you the latest batch of culls, of course (including a clever use of the word “armature” I got a kick out of), but also I’d like to introduce you to our first malapro, writer Jacqueline Howett.

Ms. Howett is a human being, and obviously a very emotional one, so I’m going to try to be as kind as I can…though simply sharing any of her writing (like the tidbit atop this post) and discussing her behavior is, in itself, gonna be innately rough on her. But I think discussing her is valuable because she’s a stark object lesson for any writers out there (or, really, artists of any ilk) in how not to act.

Ms. Howett is the author of a self-published novel called The Greek Seaman (just make sure to spell that last word correctly). Here’s her book description from Amazon:

What is an eighteen year old newly wed doing traveling on a massive merchant ship anyways? Hadn’t she gone to Greece on tour in a ballet as a dancer? These are questions, Katy asks herself while traveling the high seas with Don her chief officer. However, little do they know a smuggling ring is also on board for this ride, on a blue diamond exchange and when explosions and threats to sink the ship also happen, they must try to save themselves.

Getting to know the smugglers, the Arabic and Pakistani deck hands and Don, the Greek Seaman is an exciting sea adventure with enough suspense and romance that will make you laugh and cry. It will take you on a voyage to experience the magnificent soothing wonders and beautiful scenery at sea, dolpins, flying fishes and takes you through storms and hurricanes where Katy finds herself navigating through it with a seasick crew. From Piraeus, Greece, your visit the ports of Lebanon and Libya and enjoy the exotic magic of the bazaar. The love between Don and Katy, in their ordeal at sea makes this a memorable story.

Now, that doesn’t inspire much confidence, but doesn’t in itself distinguish Ms. Howett from many, many, many authors out there who can’t write very well, self-published and otherwise.

No, what sets her apart is that, in her attempts to promote her work, she solicited a review from book blogger “BigAl,” who gave her a two star review which actually sort of complimented her basic sense of story (“If you read The Greek Seaman from the start until you click next page for the last time I think you’ll find the story compelling and interesting…”) but implied the book was a hard read because of “numerous proofing, typo, and grammar issues” (“…the spelling and grammar errors…come so quickly that, especially in the first several chapters, it’s difficult to get into the book without being jarred back to reality as you attempt unraveling what the author meant”).

Not the worst review an author might get, and you might even say it qualifies as constructive criticism, with the flashing neon message (to any author looking to improve) GET SOMEBODY TO EDIT YOUR BOOK.

Ms. Howett took it as a personal attack. She challenged BigAl in the comments section under the review with stuff like this:

My writing is just fine!…

…Look AL, I’m not in the mood for playing snake with you, what I read above has no flaws. My writing is fine. You were told to download a new copy for format problems the very next day while they were free at Smashwords, so you could choose any format you wanted to read it in and if their were any spelling mistakes they were corrected. Simply remove this review as it is in error with you not downloading the fresh copy i insisted. Why review my book after being told to do this, and more annoying why have you never ever responded to any of my e-mails?…

…This is not only discusting and unprofessional on your part, but you really don’t fool me AL.

Who are you any way? Really who are you?
What do we know about you?

You never downloaded another copy you liar!
You never ever returned to me an e-mail

Besides if you want to throw crap at authors you should first ask their permission if they want it stuck up on the internet via e-mail. That debate is high among authors.

Your the target not me!
Now get this review off here!

BigAl very reasonably defended himself, but Ms. Howett’s comments (betraying not only a lack of professionalism and possible emotional issues, but the very dire need of an editor indicated by the review) got more beligerent. Other folks jumped into the fray, and she attacked them. Her final point wound up being a hearty “Fuck off!” to BigAl and his supporters.

You can read the review and watch the fight at this link.

Ms. Howett swiftly became a meme, spreading like a rash through Twitter and forums full of writers, readers, agents, editors, and publishers all over the world. None of whom will ever want to read, represent, or publish anything she writes. And her tantrum, along with all assorted commentary (including this very blog post), is now, in the parlance of bad teachers everywhere,  on her permanent record.

Don’t let this happen to you.

But enough about her. Here’s some malaprops to chuckle over. The first is appropriate to the lesson I hope we’ve all learned from Ms. Howett…

Writers are road to success is strewn with obstacles.

Don’t ever lose sight of that truth.

The acting in this game is so bad, I can only assume it was done by complete armatures.

Stanley McChrysal was an arrogant, wreckless, and bigoted rogue warrior.

As long as they don’t bale on the original concept, i’m sold indeed.

Last night was a super exciting night for those watching the Miss USA pageant and routing for the contestant representing their home state!

Is in she worth like half a billion?

There were some mistakes made in the original series because of editorial degree that he might give a plausible explanation for.

You think you know it all, given that you’ve poured over the 13 episodes (and feature extension) of Joss Whedon’s scifi oater, but you’d be wrong.

And when Hellboy decides to wail on someone, you feel it.

Kinda like when a malapro doesn’t like what you say about her writing…

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2 comments on “Malaprop 4: Wrath of the Malapro

  1. Cory says:

    Belligerent is mispelled in your blog. Sometimes even the best do it. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever found a mispelled word or lack of grammer usage in neither your blog, nor in your book, until now. Keep up the good work.

    • Tim Byrd says:

      But that’s a simple typo, which I’m still annoyed with, but it’s not a misused or badly used word, which is my focus with these posts. I’ll leave the error in because, as you say, sometimes even the best make errors.

      Thanks for the comments about my usual spelling and grammar. I try to make my stuff as clean as possible.

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