Author Jenny Baranick is an English professor whose students can’t believe she’s actually that into grammar. Upon experiencing the joys of grammar at an early age, raising grammar awareness became Jenny’s raison d'être. By spreading her remarkably user-friendly and hilarious approach to grammar, she hopes everyone will experience the satisfaction of a properly placed comma, a precisely used semicolon, and a correctly deployed en dash.
Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares shows grammar as it’s never been seen before: uncomplicated, laugh-out-loud funny, and, dare we say, a little risqué.
Jenny: Grammar excites me because I was the same as you. I was a big reader, so by osmosis I got by grammatically in college. I’d get a few red marks but not enough to affect my grade. Then, I was assigned to teach a remedial English class that focused on grammar, and I was cocky enough to think that I could just wing it. And then something horrible happened: the students started actually asking questions, and I was stuck. I couldn’t explain why, for example, a comma went there; I just knew it did. So it was terribly embarrassing, and I studied my butt off during the quarter break only to realize how liberating it was to actually know the rules. I no longer had to rearrange sentences because I wasn’t sure if a comma went there or not, and, even more exciting: I learned the purpose of a semicolon. I want everyone to experience that sense of liberation.
Jenny: The idea for the book came before the idea of the blog. I started the blog to get a platform for the book. However, I don’t think I could have actually written the book without the blog because blogging is how I actually discovered and gained confidence in my writing voice.
Jenny: It has been a long road! I think I saw a draft from 2008 the other day. When I started the process, as I’m sure is the case with many writers, I didn’t know about querying or proposals or any of that. I think perfecting the proposal took almost as long as the book. And there was so much rejection! I had agents telling me that no one would want to publish a book like this, that they liked the concept but not the way it came across on the page, that they thought I was ugly and worthless (okay, not really, but that’s what it felt like). After MUCH revision, it all finally came together. The day I finally got my agent, Neil Salkind—who has been wonderful to work with—was up there with the day I found out Johnny Depp was back on the market.
Jenny: Many of my ideas do come from my students’ errors, but they don’t make me sign a confidentiality agreement because—and herein lies the problem—grammar is the last thing on their minds. My students know I am the crazy lady who drives the grammar car, and many of them know I wrote a book. However, they’re fashion students, so they’re like call me when you’ve started your own fashion line.
Jenny: I borrowed (okay, copied) this technique from the author Tom Robbins. I was always so tickled by how he would start a chapter discussing something and weave his way into his actual point. I loved the surprise of where I landed. I love surprises.
Jenny: First of all, I am not a big fan of apples. I always feel hungrier after eating an apple than I do before. And that scene from Dead Poet’s Society was amazing. It was Ethan Hawke’s character who started the whole standing on the desk thing, and he was the one that was so timid in the beginning. I would love to inspire that kind of change and passion in my students. And I have a penchant for the dramatic. And I love attention.