Below is a copy of a blog posted by my co-author Penny Reid. I don’t often post here but today something happened that really hit home with both of us and we truly want to give it the attention it deserves. Growing up, I had a sibling with a learning difficulty. He was bullied relentlessly for it and even now it’s difficult to think about what he went through without feeling emotional. The fact I might have caused someone else a similar pain with my words is horrifying. Being an author comes with a lot more responsibility than one might think, and I take that responsibility very seriously. You are reaching people through your writing, and with that comes the ability to affect them in many different ways. I am not perfect. Sometimes I make mistakes, but when I do I like to hope I do everything in my power to make amends for them. I would never ever want to cause anyone emotional hurt or pain in any way, and so from the bottom of my heart I apologise to anyone who has been affected by our careless mistake.
Now I will leave you with Penny. She says it better than I ever could.
Love and hugs,
I was a weird kid. Or rather, I heard often from many, many people: “You are weird.”
Unfortunately, I heard other things too. But I’ll get to that later.
Back to me being ‘weird.’
I have dyslexia. Like, super hardcore dyslexia. Like I couldn’t read or write when I was 8. Back in the 80’s, when I was a kid, they diagnosed me as “retarded.” This was before a wealth of research had been done on dyslexia, autism, sensory processing disorders, OCD, ADHD, etc. So all kids fell into one basket: Slow. Weird. Retarded.
Words have meaning, we all know this. We know how words can cut and make you bleed. How they leave scars that are unseen. The right words and the wrong words color a person’s perspective for his/her entire life. I know this because I used to come home from school every day with cuts caused by words. How I think, how I respond to life is filtered through my scars.
My most current book, ‘The Cad and the Co-ed’, uses a word that was once applied to me many, many times. It is a word that used to send me home to cry in my bed, believing that I was stupid and worthless.
This word should never be used unless to show that a person is a villain, to demonstrate the depth of that person’s callousness. The problem is, our *hero* used that word. It was a throwaway line, where the hero was referring to himself, which almost makes it worse.
It was written by someone who lives in Ireland (and, believe me, this has been a learning experience for her) I didn’t catch it when I read it 100 times (I’m in the USA). Nor did our editors or proofreaders (located in Australia and Canada). But it’s not their fault, it’s not their job, it’s our job as the authors.
Specifically, it’s my fault. Because words have cultural connotations. This word isn’t applied in the same way in Ireland as it is in the USA. It was my job to catch it and I failed.
When the word was brought to my attention via a private message by a reader less than an hour ago, I was HORRIFIED. I immediately did a word search and found it and all those horrid memories came back.
I was 8 again, crying because I’d been called a “fucktard” by Rhena. She’d whispered it in my ear when she passed. Or Will had said it when he wouldn’t let me sit at his table. Or Kara when she’d passed me a note with a single word which I struggled to decipher.
In the USA, in my cultural experience, this word is not okay. It’s never okay. It’s not a knife, it’s a sword. I know this. I have the scars to prove it. And I will be eternally dismayed and disheartened that it make it into a book that *I* published, as I believe LH is as well.
We write books meant to lift people up, because we *love* love. And this word is only ever used to tear people down.
We’ve already replaced the manuscript file with a corrected one, removing the word. We’re appealing to Amazon Kindle Publishing, asking them to push a replacement of the file ASAP on all devices. I don’t know if we’ll succeed, but I pray that we do.
I apologize. I am so deeply sorry. I hope you can forgive me, but I understand if you cannot. I know what that word feels like to wear. So, I understand if this is something that you cannot look past.
Wish you would do the same while using the word Nazi to describe someone uptight, anal, orderly, strict etc…
As an author its up to you to built characters!!
Have you replaced the word Nazi in “Hearts of Blue” ? Or do Jewish lives dont matter?
FYI Grammar-nazi was borne out of the show Seinfeld, written by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, both of whom are Jewish. The episode, “the soup nazi” popularized the colloquialism of adding “nazi” to a noun, making it a pejorative insult, as a way to denote a person is authoritarian, autocratic, or inflexible; one who seeks to impose his or her views upon others.
So, either Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David don’t think Jewish lives matter, or you (Deb James) are completely wrong and ignorant about the origin and meaning of the colloquialism “grammar nazi”.
You should apologize for your ignorance, as LH Cosway did so eloquently above.
I apologise profusely if anything I wrote in my books caused you upset. I promise that is never, ever my intention. I write books only to uplift people. As with the comment above, I didn’t use that word to inflict any hurt or ill will, simply as the modern colloquialism. I completely understand your issue with the word but please know it was not used in a manner denigrate any person/people. That is not something I would ever do or condone.
The two comments made to Goodreads were deleted purely to avoid the creation of unnecessary drama and you are welcome to discuss the matter further here on my blog. I value the input of every reader and I hope you understand <3
LH- Thank you for apologizing. As a mother of a special needs child, I really appreciate it. Thanks to you and Penny for taking such swift action and being open to feedback on your books. I bet you have some people who want to be offended by everything, so it has to be hard to know when to listen and when to change things. Kudos to your both for doing the right thing.
Thank you L.H and Penny for your letters. I really enjoyed your story. It is very important what you both did to acknowledge your readers responses because in your popularity are reaching diverse audiences. This is awesome moment for us all to see it’s ok to make mistakes and your apologies are appreciated. Also, sharing your personal stories I hope will help anyone offended because in the end we are all human with personal experiences that shape how we respond to the world. I hope this experience empowers you both to keep writing and collaborating with a keener editor but don’t for a moment let it squash your inspiration. Trust me- your stories are some of my favorites because they are smart, unique and filled with heart. Keep up the good work and thank you again for being intuned with your readers. All the Best!!