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typos

Hi, everyone.  The air has changed in Southern California.  The heat of late summer that drives my breath back into my lungs, has suddenly dissolved into a cool, clear breeze.  It feels as if the world has come back into focus.  I’ve broken out the Pumpkin Spice candles and the Gingerbread tea and wrapped the house in garlands of silk autumn leaves that I bought on sale at Michael’s because the trees in SoCal are not going to provide real ones.  (Sigh!)

Our new puppy has come home.  Summer Moon.  She’s an English Golden Retriever. She isn’t golden, at all, of course.  She’s as white as the full moon.  Hence her name.  “Moon” because of her color.  “Summer” because she came home in late summer.  She looks like an angel but is full of mischief.  Her big brother, Rhythm, doesn’t quite know what to make of her.  She has two speeds: “on” and “off.”  And when she’s “on,” nothing in the house is safe from her tiny teeth, including Rhythm’s tail.

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I’ve just finished uploading the corrected manuscripts for Mirror, Mirror, so now the paperback version will soon be available on Amazon.  I used three proofreaders this time for the manuscript, and the last one read every one of the 120,710 words aloud plus punctuation marks.  When I was an editor/proofreader, before I went to law school, this is the way we read the final version of manuscripts because we had the best chance of catching errors by reading aloud.  So this time I thought I was safe from complaints about TYPOS.  But alas!

About a week after Mirror, Mirror had been published as an ebook, I got the message from Irate Reader.  “I like your book BUT—” Insert drum roll, thunder and lightning. “BUT it has TYPOS!!”  No hint of what those TYPOS might be.  I felt as if someone had sent one of my children home from school with a message pinned on his/her back, “Your child has CHICKEN POX!  Your HORRIBLE EXCUSE for a Mother!”

My first reaction was to protest.  Three proofreaders, I told her!  Every word and punctuation mark scrutinized, aloud!  But, alas!  Irate Reader was unrelenting.   Her next email cut even deeper. She called me, “UNPROFESSIONAL!” I had a big Breneˊ Brown moment after that.  If you don’t know about Breneˊ Brown, she describes herself as a “shame researcher.”  She is a professor at the University of Houston, who has written on the topic of shame and how it affects our lives.  When Irate Reader’s wrath descended upon me, I had been reading Dr. Brown’s book, I Thought It Was Just Me (But It isn’t).  And I knew that the paralyzing, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach was shame.

Despite my best intentions, I’d humiliated myself in public, by telling a story that I had hoped many people would enjoy.  I wasn’t a woman with three post-graduate degrees, all cum laude.  I was an UNPROFESSIONAL with TYPOS.   Sort of like a careless excuse for a mom who’d sent her kid to school with CHICKENPOX and now the child had to be sent back to the incompetent parent.

I was deeply hurt by having my imperfections hurled in my face.  I thought about taking the book down.  FOREVER.  I’d worked so hard on it every night for six long months.  I’d worked on it on the nights when my heart had been breaking because my Golden Retriever Melody was dying.  I’d worked on it on the nights when I’d been so tired that I couldn’t see the page because I’d been writing for the courts of appeal all day.  But I had kept on going because I had thought my characters were telling me a story that would entertain and touch hearts.  And I’d launched that story into the world after so much time and care, happy and proud, and hoping to find readers with hearts to be touched.  But, now, within a week of its publication, it had been deemed worthless. TYPOS!  UNPROFESSIONAL! All because I’m not, and never will be, PERFECT.

“The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting.”  Breneˊ Brown

Since self-publishing has become an option for writers, a myth has grown up that self-published writers are the only ones who launch books with typos.  That was the gist of Irate Reader’s “UNPROFESSIONAL” (SNIFF) label.   I got a does (dose, get it?) of this prejudice early on when I published my first novel, Dance for A Dead Princess.  At some point, one of the TOP 100 AMAZON REVIEWERS got her 3-star hands on it.   But she didn’t stop at 3 grudging stars.   She went straight to the top, to THE ZON itself and advised that I was illiterate. Why, there were whole sections of the book that hadn’t even been spellchecked!   REALLY!  THE NERVE!

Turns out, Ms. TOP 100 didn’t understand that the Tudor diary of Thomas, Carey, the First Duke of Burnham, is written in my approximation of Tudor English. That means the way Shakespeare wrote and spelled.   THE ZON backed way down after I explained the development of the English language and added, “Bet you wouldn’t have sent a QUALITY CONTROL NOTICE to Random House!”

So, just in case anyone else out there besides Irate Reader and Ms.Top 100 thinks that TYPO’s are the exclusive manifestation of the ignorance of self-published writers and that all the brains belong to the traditionally published ones, let me offer the following examples of TYPOS from novels you will recognize (and by the way, editions of these WITH TYPOS are worth hundreds of dollars)

Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy

Characters are referred to as “harmoniously abandoning themselves to the rhythm of the music—like two small chips being tossed about on a rough but friendly sea.”

Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth

A wall against which people set up their huts being described as “It stretched out long and grey and very high, and against the base the small mat sheds clung like flees to a dog’s back.” Editions of the book that include the misspelling can go for as much as $9500.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Some copies of this book are valued at a small fortune for this reason. On page 53, in a list of school supplies that young wizards are expected to bring to Hogwarts: “1 wand” is listed at both the beginning and at the end. That said, the typo did reappear in a few later printings even after it was caught in the second round, so it’s only the true first editions that are worth beaucoup bucks. [This example illustrates just how hard these pesky little TYPOS are to eliminate even after they have been found.]

“The Wicked Bible”

The1631 edition of the King James Bible by Robert Baker and Martin Lucas included an accidental new twist on the 7th Commandment, informing readers that “Thou shalt commit adultery.” This managed to incense both King Charles I and the Archbishop of Canterbury—its publishers were hauled into court and fined £300 (a little over $57,000 in today’s U.S. dollars) for the oversight and they had their printing license revoked. Most of the copies were subsequently burned, and the book picked up the sobriquet “The Wicked Bible” or “The Sinners’ Bible.” Only about 10 copies remain today—one was put up for sale by British auction house Bonhams just last year.

As for me, I went back over the book one more time.  I found some commas that only I would notice were out of place.  There were a couple of repeated words, a few line breaks, and an “it” for an “in.”  One very kind reader wrote to tell me that my dates were wrong at the beginning of one of the chapters.  (Bless her.)

So the corrected version is up.  I’m sure there are more TYPOS out there because perfection is unattainable for me.  But here’s the deal.  If you find any more and email me with the error, its location, and your address, I’ll send you a Starbuck’s gift card for a cup of coffee.  And I’ll send you my greatest thanks for liking my stories and for being my friend.   Even though I’m not perfect.

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Hello, World!  I’m back.  I didn’t plan to be away so long.  A lot has happened since I last was regularly posting.  First, I finished and published Dark Moon, A Legal Thriller, chapters of which I posted here as I worked on the book.  My heartfelt thanks to everyone who read those early posts and to everyone who has since purchased and enjoyed the finished product. A special thank you to everyone who has written to me about his or her experience with Dark Moon.

 

Then in August of last year, I published my second legal thriller, The Death of Distant Stars.  Whereas Dark Moon is the story of a criminal trial, The Death of Distant Stars is about a civil trial, a wrongful death suit that Kathryn Andrews brought against the pharmaceutical company that made the drug that killed her husband, Tom.  Again, my thanks to everyone who has enjoyed Distant Stars, and my deepest thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write to me.  It is the best thing in the world to wake up to an email from a reader who has enjoyed one of my books.
My characters have a way of refusing to go away at the end of a novel.   Sarah Knight, one of the central figures in Dark Moon, came back in Distant Stars to defend Hugh Mahoney, who was accused of obstruction of justice.   Hugh, who sees the world differently after his experiences with Kathryn and Sarah in Stars, is returning in my latest legal thriller, Mirror, Mirror.   Although he plays a smaller role in this book, the way that Sarah did in Distant Stars, his brash, hard-charging personality is once again on display.  Hugh, like most of my characters, is not black or white but many layers of gray. Carrie Moon, ex-wife of the formidable Howard Morgan, of Ride Your Heart Til It Breaks, also has a minor role in Mirror, Mirror.  For all the readers who thought she was a silly wimp to stick with Stan Benedict, you’ll discover what Carrie is really made of.
The hero of Mirror, Mirror is Jeff Ryder, who at thirty-three, is on top of the legal world as the story opens. He is on the verge of making partner at Warrick, Thompson, and Hayes, the law firm you all first met in Ride Your Heart.  But Jeff is knocked off his perch on the day that he wins one of the biggest cases of his career, and his downward descent is rapid and terrifying until he finds himself in jail, accused of four murders, and with an alibi that he cannot use because it will destroy the woman Jeff loves.  More next time.

 

 

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Back in the day when newspapers arrived on the doorstep in the morning instead of on iPads, Nooks, and Kindles, people had careers as newspaper columnists. Anne Landers, who died recently, was one. Erma Bombeck was another. Depending on whether the column was published daily or weekly, the writer labored on a regular basis to produce copy audiences wanted to read.

Now I fully understood that a serious blogger has the same responsibility when I opened my little word shop on WordPress some months ago. I figured the Christmas holidays would be my temptation to backslide. Wrong. I sailed through Christmas with flying blogger colors.

No, it was January that derailed my weekly posts, and work that snuck up on me on little cat feet like the fog in Carl Sandburg’s poem. My job involves three things: reading, writing, and staying sane reading about crime for a living. I am the appellate version of the public defender, and I tell the stories of guilty people who have made some pretty bad mistakes. I tell their stores to the mid-level courts of appeal here in California and to the California Supreme Court and write lots of legal reasons why they should get new trials. (That doesn’t happen, much, as you’ve guessed.) You lose in the trial, court I’m your next step in the food chain.

How do you represent guilty people, most people gasp at this point. It’s not hard. Here’s why: a good lawyer is like a car mechanic. Think about it. Your mechanic does not get emotionally upset when you and the tow truck arrive at his shop. (Well, truth to tell, they do get kind of emotional about MiniCoopers, but that’s another story and an exception to the rule. Every lawyer knows there is an exception to every rule and probably more than one. But that’s another story, too.)

Your friendly car mechanic does not give you a lecture or cite scripture or otherwise have an opinion about fault and broken machinery as your car exits the tow truck. No, the mechanic looks at the problem, gives you an estimate, and goes about the job of fixing what he can.
His blood pressure never rises.

And that’s what I do. I read what happened at the trial and write the story for the court according to a prescribed set of legal rules. I do not judge. That is not my job. The jury judges. I just write.

The other way to look at what I do is to consider baseball. I’m the pitcher. My job is to throw the balls across the plate. The umpire (the court of appeal) calls the balls and strikes and says when the batter is out.

Anyway, although I am paid by the state, I am a subcontractor, which means I am self-employed. I had no background in self-employment until I began this job. My father was a government employee, and I had always had salaried jobs, too. The downside to salaried work is you work according to hours your boss sets, on projects your boss dictates, and according to rules your boss makes. In exchange for giving up these freedoms, you get a paycheck at promised intervals from your boss. But self-employed people only get paychecks when they have completed the work they have contracted to do. Sometimes that means a lot of paychecks, and sometimes it means not so much. Work flow is uneven. The perks are you have more control over your time and the projects you agree to do. You set your own hours and work in you jammies if you want to. (Me the fashion plate does not often want to. But that’s another story, too.)

There are advantages and disadvantages to both forms of employment, and everyone is different; so it is not a one-size-fits-all world. It took me a long time to learn how to manage my little business, but I’ve done a good job, and I’m very proud of my achievement. I’m rainmaker, CEO, chief partner in the firm of one, accountant, secretary, and gopher.

To my great delight, January rolled around with a bumper crop of good projects for me. Smile! But that meant giving up a lot of my own time to read and get ready to write the briefs that will be due over the next few months. Sigh! So I’ve not forgotten my responsibility as a serious blogger. I’ve just had it temporarily derailed by a sudden influx of work. Instead of blogging at night, I’ve been reading about murder. And not murder as in Agatha Cristie or Inspector Morse.

I’ve missed blogging, but self-employed people must never, never look a gift horse in the mouth. It is very bad luck. Always, always be grateful when you have too much work to do. Beating the bushes looking for work is not fun. This is the first and the greatest law of self-employment.

I suppose I could make up for my lapse by posting in rapid-fire succession all the posts that have been on my mind over the last few weeks. But I kind of dislike being bombarded. I respect my fellow bloggers who, like me, have fallow times. Four posts a week from the same source, as entertaining as they can be, sometimes overwhelm me. I want to take in everyone’s info and express my gratitude, but there’s only so much of me to go around.

Anyway, I am back. I intend to adhere to one a week, and I am grateful for the New Year, for my readers, and for all the pages and pages of murder trials that are hanging around my office waiting to be spun one by one into unbrief briefs. (Only a lawyer would call 25,500 words a “brief”!)

iah109ts

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