Thursday, May 14, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--STUPID MISTAKES (My Own!)

Today my guest is author Clea Simon, is the author of the Theda Krakow and Dulcie Schwartz mystery series.

Somewhere around page 150, the carpet changed color.

I don’t know how this happened or when, but it went from green to blue – and it really bothers me. Now, usually, our pet peeves are things other people do. Saying “my bad” instead of “I’m sorry.” Putting milk containers back in the fridge with only a half teaspoon of milk in them. But this one is on me (my bad?), and it’s driving me nuts. My pet peeves today are my own mistakes.

The magical carpet I’m referring to is in my upcoming Dulcie Schwartz mystery, “Shades of Grey.” I discovered its weird powers while reading page proofs (the book pubs in the UK in June, US in September).

I know how it happened, at least I think I do. When my heroine first gets a new carpet (the old one being soaked in the blood of her roommate), she notes that it is “a strange green, like you’d see at the bottom of an aquarium.” That’s page 8. The carpet isn’t a major factor in the book, so it doesn’t get a lot of attention. But when it’s commented on again, around page 158, it has become “aquamarine.” Now, I sort of understand the evolution – “like an aquarium” made me think “aqua” – but those are very different colors.

And why it drives me nuts is that page proofs are the absolute last stage of the publishing process. The book is set in type at this point, and usually proof mistakes are of the slight misspelling or odd word break type. I love reading proofs because the book looks like a real book at this point. It even has page numbers. But finding something like this? Argggg.... It’s driving me up the wall!

I should explain, “Shades of Grey” was not written quickly on deadline. This book was the kind of project that has been with me for several years. I wrote it for myself, while deep in my Theda Krakow series. And I rewrote it and reworked it seemingly ad nauseum. Several friends read it. My agent read it. My editor read it twice (when she bought it, and after I made the revisions she suggested). The copy editor read it. My husband has read it at least four times. And I’ve re-read it at every stage of the game. But somehow nobody ever caught my stupid, stupid mistake: the magical changing carpet.

Probable Claws In a way, it doesn’t matter. Critics will always find something to jump on. My new (April) mystery, “Probable Claws,” got some nice pre-pub reviews. But one, from Booklist, said: “An otherwise solid mystery is made somewhat unbelievable when Theda is immediately arrested and charged with murder but has no contact with the cops after she’s out on bail.” Now, originally I did have a scene in which Theda is interrogated after she gets out on bail. But in a fit of fact checking, I called my contact at the Cambridge Police Department (they have a very nice and very tolerant public information officer). And he told me, nope, after someone is out on bail, the cops wouldn’t be talking to her. It’s all between the lawyers at that point. So I took that scene out! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, I guess. Some people will like my books, some won’t – and some will blame me for mistakes without taking the time to find out the truth. I can’t help that.

But the mistakes that are my own – now those really bother me!

And what's bugging YOU today?
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Clea SImon Clea Simon is the author of the Theda Krakow and Dulcie Schwartz mystery series, as well as three nonfiction (“real”) books. In April, her fourth Theda Krakow mystery, “Probable Claws,” published by Poisoned Pen, is now available, and in September, Severn House will debut her first Dulcie Schwartz mystery, “Shades of Grey.” “Shades of Grey” has cats AND ghosts AND a murder mystery, so she is expecting to take flak for it. You can read more at her home site or on her blog.