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Monday, February 27, 2012

Of Typos and Perspective

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. It's always great to have you drop by for a visit. I know there is a lot of competition for your attention each and every week, and I really appreciate your visits. I have basically only been posting once a week on Mondays and it has helped free me up to visit your sites as well, but still not as often as I would like. There is just not enough time in the day, is there?

So, I came here today to tell you a story that happened to me this past week. It's not a very good story. In fact, I'd rather keep the whole thing to myself, but I feel compelled to share it, since it affects everyone who reads my debut, Dance on Fire.

Thursday night, I sat in a room in Fresno, Ca. with local authors, Marilyn Meredith and Lorie Ham. We have been doing library events periodically. This was our third. The three of us also contribute articles for Lorie's on-line magazine, Kings River Life. In any event, when it became my turn to speak, I introduced myself to the few who had joined us that evening. Once that was done, I read the blurb for the book and then launched into a reading. I feel bad for the other two, having to listen to the same bit of my book each and every time; however, it is a very good place to share and very convenient for me. I started reading and saw the mistake immediately. My heart sank! I had taken twenty years to write this novel, and had been reading the same passage for two years, and I had never caught the error before. I continued on as if nothing had happened, but I felt my temperature rise and the beginning of some perspiration start to develop.

I managed to finish and hold it together, but I was pretty devastated. The error is so juvenile, so Bush League, as they say in baseball terms. I really don't want to draw any one's attention to it. It has to do with time and occurs early in my story, but if no one has caught it as of yet, I really don't want to taint the book. Perhaps it has been caught, but no one wants to bring it up - I don't know. If you have seen it, thanks for ignoring it and not allowing it to detract from what I think is still a very good story.

I have contacted my publisher to see whether we might be able to correct this as well as one other thing. A buddy of mine just pointed out that I had used the word "peek" with the incorrect spelling (waves to Natalie). That drives me crazy, too, but not nearly as bad as the time goof that is sitting there and threatens to outlive me.

As I mentioned, I was really upset by this turn of events. However, on Saturday morning, I sat in a church and offered my support to a friend of mine that I went to school with, who was burying his young daughter (nearly 19), who died tragically the previous weekend. I won't dishonor my friend or the memory of his child that he has lost by offering her as fodder for one of my posts, except to say that it gave me some perspective on the whole thing. He and I are the same age and my sons are just a few years younger than his son and daughter, and now just son. It could very easily have been me sitting in that front row.

My perspective is this: it's a good book. Is it great? I'm guessing not, but many people have come to me, whether in person or on the world wide web to say that they liked it, and that is enough for me. Have I learned some lessons? Yes, and I darn well better get some other eyes to read my manuscripts from now on! Any beta readers out there? *begs* I had hoped that I had a clean book after all of this time, but much better novels than mine have had egregious errors and have lived to grace many famous book shelves and have been considered classics. I will strive to do my best to never let this happen again as I get better as a novelist.

Yet, in the grand scheme of things, there are far worse things to be devastated about. My love and deepest sympathies to my friend, his ex-wife, their son and entire family as they attempt to carry on without her.

We'll talk soon.


  1. Thank you for this, on a day when I really need to get perspective. I was just thinking about this earlier: how it's easy to place so much importance on things like having no typos and great reviews, but in the wider scheme of things -- in life -- how important is it, really?

  2. Typos happen.

    Peak/peek is one that usually trips me up too. But I know this so I look for it.

    As a matter of fact it was this word that made the rounds to five beta readers, three editors, and me, and no one caught it until I read it one last time before I let it go.

  3. I'm so sorry for your friend, Jimmy. Wishing he and his family comfort and peace.

    I know what you mean about errors in writing no matter how small. It bugs me, too, when I catch one of my errors that somehow slipped by me! Oh well. You contacted your publisher to see what can be done about it and that's all you can do for now. I'm sure no one even noticed it while reading your gripping novel!

  4. When considering "peek/peak" don't forget the other homonym: "pique" - that's one that a lot of people get wrong!

    It sounds like you worked hard on this book and wanted to be certain it was perfect. Don't beat yourself up - there is a REASON that editors are a necessary part of the process. You see, YOU know what you are trying to say, what you mean to write. Your mind will play tricks on you, making you see something that is not necessarily there. Beta readers are good, but it is not the job of a beta reader to edit the manuscript - it is their job to evaluate the plot. If you need an editor, I provide that service, and I also know several other people whom I could recommend.

  5. Firstly, Jimmy, you have a great book. I think I may have noticed the peek/peak, but I'm just not the type who would drag you over the coals about it. (^;

    My self-published book had all sorts of stuff in it I couldn't afford to have fixed when I found them. I was allowed something like 40-50 freebees.

    It's difficult to catch mistakes in your own work because you are familiar with it. A beta reader would be a good idea, but sometimes they miss things too.

    I'm very sorry to hear about your friend's tragety. It is a reality check, for sure.

  6. Comforting post. I was reading the "final" version of my novel and found a glaring error that I and all my readers and editors had missed. Now I don't feel so bad (and I'll make sure it's fixed in the released version, but I'm sure there'll be more.)

    Your experience in church certainly puts it in perspective and reminds me to count my blessings.

  7. I'm with you on this Jimmy. I had so many people read my book AND professionally edited, and guess what? Yep, someone found a few mistakes after all those read throughs! We are all human and we all make mistakes. I like to chalk up every time that the mistakes were not found, they were just enjoying the read without worrying about how the words looked. I hope? Anyway, I think you have great perspective here, Jimmy :)

  8. Thank you so much for stopping by, gang. I really appreciate it. Since I only post on Mondays, I usually start thinking about the next post by Tuesday or so; however, last week, I really had nothing until I was driving home from that Library event on Thursday night. I was feeling sorry for myself for so embarrassing an error, and I felt that way for about a day. Then, as I began to think about my friend's memorial service for his child, that was when I realized that I was being ridiculous.

    @Talli - Absolutely. Our novels are being appreciated now. Imagine how much better we're going to get as we continue along this path. Let's not stress, but just keep looking forward.

    @Maria - We can make ourselves crazy, worrying about what might be missed! Ugh!

    @Laura - Thanks for your kind words. They were very appreciated.

    @Katy - Thanks. I may very well take you up on that offer!

    @Lorelei - Thanks, dear! Reality check for sure. I need to start texting him soon. He shared a home with his daughter and now will be alone once the family all start leaving town...

    @Sheila - Thanks for visiting. I found you on Google +. *waves* I definitely am counting those blessings!!

    @L.J. - Thanks, my friend. So very sad! Talk to you soon.


  9. The same thing happened to Anne Lamott at a public reading. Take heart.

  10. I feel your pain, Jimmy, as you well know. For me, I failed to upload the latest version on Smashwords for whatever reason. Even then, I still found a place where there was an omitted word, after going through three people. But we can only do so much.

    And yeah, in the big picture, it's all small stuff.

    I hope you're feeling better about it.

  11. Oi! I used clamor instead of clamber in my novel. So annoying! Are you working on another novel? I am working on the sequel for my novel. If you want to be betas for each other that would be great. I'm not anywhere near done yet though. I have one other person who will be betaing for me so far. Extra eyes are good. I didn't beta my first novel because I didn't get involved in this whole writer world until after I published my first one. Peace my man! Mistakes are necessary to learn to be better.
    ...and here's a star :)

  12. Hi James.
    As I said earlier, I am so sorry for your friend's loss. Losing a child must be devastating for all involved.
    I feel for you regarding the errors, but it's so good that you have found perspective. We all strive for perfection, but with a great story, I'm sure, these tiny little problems can be overlooked. Slippy little suckers, aren't they?

  13. I so love it when my favorite people drop by! Thanks, ladies!

    @Linda - Thanks, I held it together, but I was very bothered; not just for the few in the room that heard it, but for the many who had already read it. Hopefully we can get that corrected very soon.

    @Diana - Perhaps a road trip to Vegas will soothe my pain! ;)

    @Kellianne - I just need to check w/ my publisher and see how getting beta readers will affect our timetable. Otherwise, that would be great. Thanks for the star. I'm so easy to please!!

    @Jane - Yes, they are slippery! So many years later and so many edits, and still there were errors! *sigh*

    Love you guys! Take care.


  14. Perspective is an amazing, painful dose of truth that we all need. It's also a gift. No matter how many mistakes we find, it means nothing compared to what we COULD be going through. So sorry for your friend. There is nothing worse. I've been known to beta read a quite a few *cough* manuscripts in my time. All genres. You know where to find me if needed:)

  15. That is my worst nightmare. I have found stupid errors in my posts days later, but a book is so large, I would imagine the risk is 1000 fold. I will be so OCD about it and will have pay several people to review it for errors. It happens to the best of authors and I have found then in several best sellers so I wouldn't worry about it.

  16. I forgot to say that I am so sorry for your friend and my heart goes out to him. My son's first girlfriend died a couple years ago at 19 in a car crash. It was and still is the hardest death for me to get over probably because it was avoidable and I had kids around the same age and couldn't imagine how I would go on after a tragedy like that. It sure does give you perspective...

  17. First of all, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's loss.

    I wouldn't lose too much sleep over a typo. I know how much we want to produce perfect content, but typos happen, a lot of times no matter how many proofreaders are involved. I find typos in traditionally published books all the time.

    As a reader, I'm willing to forgive the occasional typo. It's only when I start to find several glaring ones in a row that I start to feel like the author/publisher couldn't be bothered to use a simple spell/grammar check and get annoyed.

    Not sure if this helps, but I use Serenity Editor Software and Diana Cox's novel proofreading services. I find both very helpful and affordable.

  18. James...I too have gone through this with my novel and you know something, no one who has read it found anything wrong in it, even though I know it is there, but I've got nothing but rave reviews from those who love it. I know it'll never make it big and I don't care. What matters to me is that those who read it love it and its in three bookstores and that's enough of a success for me. As for my sequel...I will do much better this time round. I don't know if this made any sense or has helped you any.

  19. @Michele - Thanks for your offer, my friend. I'm not nearly as bothered as I was coming home that night. We'll get those corrections as soon as possible, and then I'll feel even better. I just pray my friend finds a reason to get out of bed each day...

    @Susie - That's exactly right. That first week was tough for me because I kept putting myself in my friend's shoes. It nearly broke me down a few times just thinking about it. Thanks for stopping by.

    @Jacquelyn - Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out. Yeah, I really just could not believe the time error. The other mistakes bugged me, but not nearly as much as that one. *sigh*

    Thanks, ladies. *waves*


  20. Typos are to be found in every single work out there.
    I am reading Dracula and find them.
    Everyone does it. Even the big publishers. I've seen typos in King's work and a lot more.
    We're not perfect. It happens.
    I know how you feel, Jimmy but you wrote a great book that i loved and frankly, i never noticed anything wrong!
    so there!

  21. Jimmy I think in perspective the errors in your book are minor. The loss of a child - major.
    Thanks for bringing light to what matters on planet earth
    Maybe when I hop back into Fresno time (from the moon) I will stop by and visit your group.
    Thanks always for your visits to my blog they make me smile :)
    Happy March

  22. Sounds to me like you got yourself some perspective. ;) Good for you. So what if there's a little error... yeah I know it's frustrating, but it happens. I find them in printed books all the times, even the trad pubbed ones.
    But you've got a hold on it now... and man, I'd be horrible without my betas. Each one offers a different perspective that makes my stories a different caliber.

  23. I just want to thank everyone for stopping by this week. It has meant so much, not because I was still upset or needed a shoulder to lean against or anything, but just because your visits make my day. Those 11 hours at work are tough when all that I really want to be doing is writing and networking with my like-minded friends.

    @Carole - You have been a wonderful friend and I cherish and adore our friendship. Thanks for your kind words.

    @Leslie - Yes, that would be awesome. If you ever come back to the planet near Fresno, make sure you stop near Sun-Maid and let me know! ;)

    @PK - Thanks, my friend. It's always great to hear from you. *waves*


  24. First of all, I am so sorry for your friend's lost. To lose a child, there are no words...

    Regarding the typo, I've yet to read a book (traditional or indie) that doesn't have at least one error in it. We're all human, right? *Hugs*

  25. I'm a perfectionist as well so I know how you feel. It bugs me if I have a typo in one of my comments or posts. However, it is but a small thing when compared to the grand scheme of life.

  26. Typos happen all the time, I notice them in books I read but it doesn't take away from the story or the reading. Most of the time our brains would never notice.

  27. I would be remiss if I didn't thank Liz, Alex and Susan for dropping by this past weekend. It was very sweet of you guys to stop by. You have a great week, okay!



Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate you taking the time. I'll get back to you here or on one of the other social networks. It's not like we're not on all of them, right? ;) Also, if you're here to give me an award - bless you. However, your friendship and visits are more than enough. Thanks and blessings.