Quality control

Mignon Fogarty

Did you know the Grammar Girl from the Oprah Winfrey show and the blogosphere makes her home in Reno? We caught up with her in Phoenix as she kicked off the national book tour in support of her new book Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. She’ll sign books at Sundance Bookstore, 1155 W. Fourth St., on July 28, at 6:30 p.m.

Tell me about the name Mignon.

I was named after a flower called the mignonette. It’s a tiny little white groundcover. It was my great, great grandmother’s favorite name. It’s a family name.

I immediately went to filet mignon.

I know, most people do. It’s easy to remember, but I wasn’t named after a steak.

How does one become a grammar maven?

Quite by accident, actually. I was a technical writer, and I noticed errors over and over again in people’s writing, and at the same time I developed an interest in podcasting. I happened to put the two together as a hobby, and it became something that took off. It was really quite amazing. I just saw in my editing work that people needed help with simple tips, and I thought it would be fun to create a five-minute podcast that would help people every week. It became so successful that now I have a book coming out. My book is out.

I know, I have it sitting right here on my desk. You’re coming through Reno to read at Sundance, right?

Right. I live in Reno, actually.

How old are you?

I’m 41.

Then why not Grammar Woman?

Well, Grammar Girl has a better sound to it. It’s more fun to say.

Have you been in Reno for a long time?

I’ve been there for about eight months. My sister lives in town, and my father has a vacation home nearby. My husband and I moved there to be closer to family—closer to the Bay Area, where we used to live.

What’s a national tour like?

It’s amazing. This is my sixth interview of the day. I’ve been up since 3 a.m., and I still have my book signing to do tonight. It’s been quite a whirlwind. I’m really happy with the amount of media attention I’m getting. It’s so encouraging that so many people are interested in writing well and good grammar.

Horrible grammar aside, I misspelled a word on the cover last week.

My show Proofreading Tips is one of the most popular I’ve ever done. Everyone has been embarrassed by a typo. [Grammar Girl’s archived podcasts are available at grammar.quickanddirtytips.com.]

So on your tour, you do a reading and then people come up to sign the thing?

Yeah, that’s how it’s going to work. I have a few fun giveaways. We have temporary tattoos of the Grammar Girl logo, and I give away Smarties because those are the candy for smart people, and I have little USB drives to give away, a couple of those. We’re trying to make it fun.

What kind of people show up to a grammar book tour?

I don’t know. My first signing is tonight. Today’s the first day of the tour, and I have my first signing tonight, so I actually have no idea.