This was my answer, probably too much of one.

Hi, Sadie:

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked Fit to Curve and I hope you will like Heart Attack, too. The third book (Ghost Walk) is just about ready to publish, the forth (Little Fishes) is finished, first draft, but needs cleaning. I’m currently working on the fifth (Drosselymeyer Chronicles).

The twin/triplet subplot sort of grew by itself. The sisters engage in lots of coming and going, often concealed, and they see (and can comment on) the comings and goings of the other characters. They helped to uncover and connect. They came from a woman I met who talked about her “twin sister” and got me truly confused because there seemed, from her stories, to be more than one. I asked if she had two sisters, who were twins (not including her), thinking I had figured out the only explanation. No, she said, they were all twins, also her fourth sister, but whenever they said triplet or quadruplet people pulled away, because it made them freaks. So they all just said “twin,” because it was true, and kept people from having weird reactions. One of those filed away things.

English is funny with second person plurals. You/your/yours used to be plural, with thee/thy/thine for singular. When you became both, 4-500 years ago, it could be confusing whether somebody meant one person or more than one. Now we use a bunch of plural versions: youse, you guys, you all, you-all, y’all, ya’ll, yawl, all y’all. They tend to be regional, but move around over time. What I like about you-all is that the meaning is clear. A yawl is also a little boat, ya’ll sometimes means “you will” (ya’ll have to buy some new tires). The pronunciation I intend is yawl. You’re right that anybody who sounds out the you in you-all is a non-southerner being condescending or trying to sound chummy. There’s always a tiny bit of another vowel sound in y’all: yi’all, ye’all, yu’all but it’s so tiny a catch sound it gets weird and wrong if you try to spell it out. I think it varies from place to place around the south, but I couldn’t begin to say which goes where. You’ve lived in more southern places than I have. Does this last make any sense?

My wife agrees with you, and tried to get me to use y’all several years ago. I think, between her arguments (she’s an Atlanta girl) and now you, that I was wrong. There’s still the sticky business of y’all versus ya’ll. The second one has strong champions, even though it’s clearly the underdog. The argument is that it comes from ya or ye for you, joined to all. Besides which, it was favored by Faulkner and Hemingway and McCullers. I think I’ll stick with y’all unless I mean to mark someone as not southern (neither of my main characters is, by birth; Ellen’s ear is good, Geoff’s not so much, he could get it wrong).

All of this is moot, in the part of the south my wife and I moved to thirty-five years ago, from Massatusets. Up here, in the hills, it’s not y’all at all, but yu-uns and yur-uns and (my favorite) yursensus. This is the land of chimleys and bullnozers and bob-war, where visitors told it’s time to go home hear “yu-uns stay with us now.” and people “kindly like” things and other people.

On “couple things” versus “couple of things,” I’ll have think about that. I say and write both. I think “couple of” is more correct expository writing, not necessarily so in conversation. “Couple things I need to know: is the gun loaded, are you left-handed?” But if you’re right about “a lot of ‘couple things,’” that’s a tic, and that’s lazy, and not good. Thanks for noticing. And thanks again for taking the trouble to write.