Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Biggest Fear About Being Published

I harbor many irrational fears. As New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane puts it, "Sometimes the brain is a dungeon." Just ask my husband about the phase I went through in college when I became convinced that a cinder block was going to hit me on the head (thrown off a dorm balcony during spring cleaning, of course).

Here's the thing: I'm not scared people will hate my book. (I hope they don't, but if they do, I can accept that. Everyone has different taste in stories. It's really okay.)

No. What frightens me are the people who will dislike what they think has occurred in my book, rather than what has actually occurred. The Misinterpreters, I'll call them.

A friend of mine wrote a project a few years back, in which the words "[FirstName] Effing [LastName]" showed up as a tribute to a celebrity. (You know, like when you think someone's "effing awesome.") This phrase was used on a few occasions, within a larger context of showing that the author had idolized the celebrity and wished to emulate her. Well, an early reviewer claimed that the words, "Eff You, [First Name, Last Name]" were used, and lambasted my friend for being crude and disrespectful toward the celebrity. In short, the reviewer had not only missed the point, he or she had gotten it backwards, and then reviewed the wrong information.

What's frustrating is that there's no recourse in those situations. It's not a matter of opinion or taste, it's a matter of being factually incorrect, but pointing this out risks looking defensive or whiny.

So now you know all about my fear.

Writers: What are your publishing fears?

Reviewers: If you were to misremember or misinterpret something, would you want to be corrected (not by the author, but perhaps by other readers)? Or would you consider that a breach of the reader/reviewer code?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Purposeful Errors

If you knew a book had purposeful errors, would you still read it?


Well, guess what -- you already have. Hahaha!

That was kind of a mean trick question. You see, every single book has purposeful errors.

Let me explain. There comes a time in an author's life when he or she will face copyedits (copy edits?). For me, that time was this week. Copyeditors (or copy editors? I DON'T KNOW ANYMORE) are brilliant, detail-oriented people who not only spot and fix typos, grammar mistakes, and spelling errors, but also serve as continuity experts (comparable to script supervisors in TV and film, which means they notice if your character is wearing a green sweater at the beginning of the scene but a purple one by the end).

In short, they save authors from super embarrassing mistakes and also help prose shine before books get published. They're invaluable.

Sometimes, however, writers choose to keep a sentence or word that's incorrect because it suits their character's voice, either in actual dialogue or in narration.

For example, the main character of BRUISED, my YA novel, is a 16-year-old girl who loves martial arts more than anything. She struggles to make Cs in school, so it wouldn't make sense for her to speak with proper grammar all the time. This is not to say all teenagers spend their days spouting purposeful errors; a different teenager in a different book would speak with correct grammar but my girl Imogen's not one to say "whom."

So next time you read a book and think, "That's flat-out wrong! How did that slip by?" It didn't. It was noticed, possibly agonized over, and deliberately kept.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Observations During a Walk - A Mystery

1. Hipster boy at the elementary school pre-first bell, outside in the recess/lunch area, wearing a baseball cap, tres cool sunglasses, and a necktie over jeans and a T. I'm kind of obsessed. Who is this kid? Is he the school fixer? Where does he fit in the hierarchy, or does he not play those reindeer games? Also: am pleased to see that Converse are still in, for both genders.

2. Tiny sock, missing its mate, under a bit of shrubbery at the edge of the lake. Normally this would've looked sinister, but my own son is constantly kicking his socks off so I know exactly how this happened.

3. Woman in skinny jeans, high heels, and chiffon-like fancy black cardigan walking her dog. Not caring who sees, and despite her ridiculous shoes, she scales the wall to the community clubhouse. It is not a small wall, ya'll.

There's a story in here somewhere, I just know.