Monday, June 14, 2010

"I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar."

Alabama law student turns judge with book on poor grammar

By The Associated Press
December 21, 2009, 11:56AM

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Sharon Eliza Nichols' quiet, polite voice doesn't sound like it belongs to the type of person who would author a book called "I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar."

I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar

But when Nichols begins to talk about the experience of writing a book, a more fun, even mischievous, side comes out.

"I think you've really made it when you get hate mail," said the 25-year-old University of Alabama law student, laughing. "I got one the other day that said I was un-American and I should be focusing on important things."

But most of the responses Nichols has received on her book have been positive, so much so that the publisher has ordered a second printing.

Nichols, an avid blogger, started a Facebook group in 2007 called "I judge you when you use poor grammar."

She created the group out of boredom, figured a few of her friends would join, they'd laugh about it and that would be the end.

Instead, the group has grown to more than 400,000 members who have uploaded more than 10,000 examples of poor grammar, from business signs to T-shirts to hair gel labels.

In fall 2007, The New York Times caught wind of the group and interviewed Nichols for a story.

"It just kind of snowballed from there," Nichols said. "My agent contacted me and said that he thought we had a great idea for a book."

So Nichols asked all the members of her Facebook group to start e-mailing her the pictures that now comprise her book, which she completed by writing short and snarky captions for each picture.

The publisher ordered 15,000 copies of the book for the first printing, and Nichols said 7,500 are scheduled for the next.

"It's amazing, and I was really shocked," she said. "I know I don't have 15,000 friends, so it's not just them who are buying it."

When asked why she thinks the book has been so successful, Nichols said it goes back to just how important language is to life.

"I can't explain the reasons why people care about this certain thing above other things, except to say that words are the one thing that bring us all together and the foundation of how we communicate with each other," she said.

Nichols said that if the second printing sells out, as well, she is considering doing a second book.

"I'm really not sure what that would look like, but there are a lot of possibilities," she said. "We could do one themed around retail stores, or we could do another book of assorted pictures.

"It really depends on what the publisher thinks."

Nichols, who is from Troy, is in her third year of law school and said she would like to end up in Washington, D.C., eventually.

"I'm open to a lot of possibilities, but maybe something behind the scenes politically," she said.

Nichols said the book, which has helped her pay off some of her student loans, has been a welcome surprise in her life.

"The perfect word for it is a blessing," she said.

(Wayne Grayson of The Tuscaloosa News authored this report.)

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