Loving a Harvey Girl Controversy

I had so much fun writing my contribution to The Cowboys novella collection because I got to play with the hero of this romance, Cal Stephens.

Actually, I did what most authors do these days and went very deep into his POV, writing all his scenes as if he were the one talking. And, since he’s a cowboy with limited education, his grammar is . . . shall we say rough?

Granted, not everyone who lives in the country and rides a horse has poor grammar, but I’ve personally known several who do. Relatives in Georgia, friends here in Texas—even my own husband, who was raised deep in the Texas countryside, has a questionable grasp on the English language.

Because I know all these people, I’m aware of how they talk. Their speech is not always correct, but that doesn’t reflect on their intelligence or sense of humor. My husband is the king of common sense. He just has his own way of expressing it.

So herein lies the controversy: Many of the people who reviewed The Cowboys dinged Loving a Harvey Girl because of Cal’s grammar. One reader said this: “I had a really hard time with this novella. The uneducated talk and slang of the cowboys did not make it easy to read and I felt some of it was overdone. ”

I’m not sure I understand. The heroine, Eva Knowles, has good grammar and just as much time on the page, so it’s not like the entire novella is rough. A friend of mine writes Historical Romances set in Scotland, complete with a depiction of the Scottish accent. Another writes Victorian Romances, complete with Cockney. Regardless of their chosen settings, many authors try to present characters’ speech patterns and dialects. Does everyone get dinged?

But one reviewer said this about Loving a Harvey Girl:

Linda Yezak’s Loving a Harvey Girl features big-hearted Cal Stephens who befriends Eva Knowles who needs a job to help her family make ends meet. The “cowboy language” used added authenticity to this story and it felt to me like at times I was right there with Cal riding the horse and hearing the creak of the saddle. This was a very well-planned historical love story as was evidenced by the mannerisms, foods, clothing, and many other touches artfully placed in this story.

This reader recognized what I was trying to do—bring “authenticity” to the story. She is now one of my most favoritist people.

Here’s the good news:

You have the opportunity to read—for free!—the entire collection, and when you get to mine (the last novella in the collection), you can decide for yourself whether I overdid it. Actually, drop me a note and let me know. I might have to adjust the way I write!

Good until February 17th!

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
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4 Responses to Loving a Harvey Girl Controversy

  1. I loved the way Cal talks. There are times I wished I were back in Texas so I could hear it again.i lived there as a young child. My hubby has some cousins from Arkansas. They have a unique way of saying things too. I have a co-worker from New York and the way she says some words sets her apart from us Illinoisans. And those from Southern Illinois sound different then northerners. And the further south you travel in the state the dialect sounds more like Kentucky. I think it’s important to add those touches. You did just that wiht the Harvey Girls.

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    • I think it’s funny how we’re influenced by different areas. I think the Texans down south have far more of a Mexican influence than the rest of us, but we all are under their spell. Around the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a bit of Asian influence considering the Vietnamese who live in the area. There’s a touch of Cajun too, closer to the LA border. But for the most part, I think Texans just sound like Texans.

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  2. I had no problem with Cal’s dialect. I too grew up around people with similar speech patterns and it seemed very natural to me. Reviews are only one person’s opinion, which they are entitled to, but doesn’t reflect on the quality of the writing. As the old saying goes, “You can’t please everyone.”

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