Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.
Last year, the first installment of her new series, It’s Murder, My Son was released. The Mac Faraday Mysteries take place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, where Lauren and her family vacation. The second installment is entitled Old Loves Die Hard. Both are getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing consultant, editor, and interior layout designer for independent authors.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made speaking appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions.
She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Last week, the proof forIt’s Murder, My Son arrived and I immediately poured a glass of iced tea, put up my feet, and proceeded to read it from cover to cover.
A book reads differently when you’re not reading it on a laptop screen or a stack of papers with a red pen in hand. The words flow differently when you are holding it bound in a cover, sitting with your feet up, and a glass of cranberry iced tea at your elbow. When it comes to the proof, the author needs to put themselves in reader mode and try to pick up on what their readers will pick up.
When I did this with It’s Murder, My Son, I sucked in a deep breath that comes with the feeling of horror when I reached page 74. Holding my breath, I reread the section praying that I was not reading it the way the average reader would read it. It didn’t do any good. No matter how many times and ways I read it, it read the same.
Multi-millionaire playboy Mac Faraday has come across a witness for Niles Holt’s murder. He calls police officer David O’Callaghan to inform him that said witness had given a statement to the police at the time, but his statement, which contained pertinent information, seems to have gotten buried. Why?
On page 74, David O’Callaghan goes to the file room to retrieve the case file. On this page I state that he had read over the file so many times that he had it memorized. A few paragraphs later, for the first time, he is reading the witness’s statement.
The question hit me: If David had reviewed the case file so many times that he had it memorized, why didn’t he know anything about that witness statement? Why didn’t he know anything about the witness? The statement was right there in the file.
Luckily, this was the proof and it was an easy fix before going public. It’s Murder, My Son has been through two editors, which means two fresh pair of eyes have looked at it, but still no one noticed that David missed that witness statement after memorizing the case file.
That is why authors must go over every proof even if they feel like their eyes are going to bleed if they have to read “that thing” one more time.
I take comfort in knowing that it happens to the best of us.
Celia Hayes, author of To Truckee's Trail and The Adelsverein Trilogy, calls proofing “the ritual humiliation of authors”. She confesses, “There was an essential part of a word omitted in Chapter 4 of To Truckee's Trail which still aggravates the heck out of me. On pg 60, there is a description of wagon-train emigrants breaking camp, and mention of 'the privy-pits with the last shovel thrown upon their contents’ when it should have been ‘last shovel-full’. I am still embarrassed by it.”
Celia recalls the most potentially embarrassing typo; which she mercifully did catch in the ARC, and was able to correct in the released book; was in Adelsverein: The Gathering. In the dedication and thanks, she had misspelled the name of a person who had been enormously helpful and encouraging. If she had not caught this error, Celia says it would have been “embarrassment of the most heinous.”
Recalling one of his own bloopers, Dr. John Yeoman suggests, “We worry too much about published 'mistakes' that the reader will probably never spot but we never see those errors, too late to amend, that they joy in disclosing to us.”
Yeoman recalls, “My PhD thesis in creative writing referred throughout to one 'K J Rowling' as the author of the Harry Potter novels. This mistake appeared in several places, although I had proofread the thesis umpteen times. My examiners awarded me a doctorate magna cum laude, but neither referred to my howler. This rather suggested they had not read my thesis. The error only came to light when my wife flipped through the bound volume, about to be lodged in the campus library, and whooped with delight. No, I did not correct it."
Maybe it is because of those who do delight in pointing out our mistakes after a book’s release, even in a jovial manner, that authors feel particularly sensitive to any literary misstep. It’s been ingrained in our psyche as writers that our work must be perfect. Literary agents and publishers only accept work that is error free. One mistake and you’re out, especially if that mistake goes live in a published book.
Authors can assume that those who make it to the best seller lists don’t make any mistakes like having a detective find a report tucked into a case file that he has long memorized, or not knowing the name of a famous author. After all, isn’t it their perfection that separates them from the rest of us?
Mistakes happen, even to the best of us. So many in fact that one website is dedicated to listing them for our enjoyment…and emotional support:
According to website the Best Book Mistakes, the master of suspense, Stephen King had trouble deciding which of Eddie’s arms was broken in his book IT. It went back and forth between the left and the right.
In the start of Part 6, in King’s The Green Mile, the men let Percy out of the closet. They take the tape off his mouth and he starts to rub his lips, then lowers his hand to speak. The problem is that he's in a straight-jacket at this point.
In Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, when Edward is telling Carlisle's history to Bella, he says that around 1660-1670 Carlisle found a coven of true vampires that lived hidden in the sewers of the city. According to Best Book Mistakes, the vampires couldn't have been hidden inside the sewers because there weren't any. The sewage system was only built around 1859.
In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, while being sorted into houses, Harry looks up at the Sorting Stool, and there are only three people left to be sorted. Professor McGonagall then calls out the names of four more kids.
So, boys and girls, the moral to this blog post is that we can take comfort in our imperfections. This is not to say that we can let down our guard and write with wreckless abandonment and a total disregard for facts, grammar, and continuity. But, if we do make a mistake, even if it goes public, we can shake our head, say, “Oops! I did it again,” and keep on writing.
If any of you have had a chance to check out my Facebook page you will see my plea: Am I your Guest Blogger?
For the last week I have been struggling with my current crisis: My laptop crashed.
No, when it happened I didn’t scream and run around in circles with my hands on my head like one of those cartoon characters my son watches on Nick. I was prepared. I had a backup. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover until I restored my files that my backup didn’t include my Outlook. So I lost my e-mails, contacts, and calendar. It didn’t hit me until much later how bad it really was.
Two days after the crash, I was drinking my coffee feeling mighty pleased with myself over being so prepared for the crash and not losing any of my books when I realized something: When I lost my Outlook files, I also lost my calendar and in doing so…my guest blog schedule and blogger contacts.
That was when I started running around in circles and screaming like one of those cartoon characters that my son watches on Nick.
Why don’t I use a proper organizer? I tried. I do admire those who I see whip out one of those leather bound notebooks that are broken up into various sections: one for addresses and phone numbers, the other for the calendar in which to record your dates, and then the section in which to slip in business cards. They look so…so… ORGANIZED. They even smell impressive.
As soon as I get one of those I’ll fill out the front page with my information on the first page. I’ll write it out carefully using my best penmanship. Then I’ll fill out some of the contact information and put in a couple of dates on the calendar so that it will look like I lead a life in which appointments are made and kept in a premeditated manner; anything to create the illusion that my life is not a hodgepodge of happenstance.
I am usually able to maintain this illusion for three and a half days. Then I will tire of breaking out my organizer to write things down and decide to save time jotting notes down on a yellow stickie that happens to be within reach of the phone. Why waste time writing said note twice? Why not just stick the yellow stickie (Hey! They call it a stickie for a reason!) to the appropriate page on the calendar in the organizer.
At least I’m using the organizer!
Then, I’ll slip the organizer into my Mommy bag, where it will fall to the bottom and get buried under old grocery shopping lists written out on yellow stickies. Yes, I know the organizer has a writing pad on which to make up said lists, but first I would have to dig it out from the bottom of my purse to use the writing pad.
At the bottom of my purse, my organizer will remain along with my lost open pens that will mark up the pages and the leather cover, which in no time starts smelling like the back of my closet.
It is usually rediscovered around September.
After thirteen organizers and fifteen years of trying to get organized, I gave up. That was about the time I discovered Outlook.
This I can handle. I do most of my communication with e-mail anyway. So, when I get a date that I have to remember, with a couple of keystrokes I simply save the email, along with all the contact information into my Outlook calendar and with another keystroke, I’m back in my e-mail. No hunting down pads of yellow stickies and working pens to write out my stuff. That organizer can stay at the bottom of my purse for discovery by the archeologists in a couple hundred years to land in the Museum of Natural History. Then I’ll be famous.
I thought I had it all figured out—until my computer crashed and I discovered that the Windows 7 backup does not include Outlook, which includes my calendar, with all my contact information, including my Guest Blog dates and the contact information for the Bloggers.
So, this week I have been feeling like a fool hunting down bloggers to ask: Are you missing a guest blogger?
Please pass this message and e-mail link around to any bloggers you may know who are missing a guest blogger. My missing guest spots were for sites about books and writing. The dates and contact information I am missing are in August. I am to send the post in at the beginning of July.
Thank you to everyone who contacted me offering to let me guest on your blogs even though you weren't my mystery blogger. I will be in touch since I am setting up a blogging tour with the release of It's Murder My Son on July 1!