Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Did I do that...?

by Josh

Yes, it's true. By way of introduction I quoted Steve Urkel, not because I was a fan of his show but because, well, of all fictional characters in the history of the narrative form, he is the one whom I most resemble.

Let me elaborate with a topical example.

Like any good neurotic scribe, I devote as much thought to my Acknowledgments page as I do the rest of the novel. Should I thank my father before my mother, and if I do, does that mean no more surprise sweaters from Mom? If I ignore my friends from high school, does that mean they'll ignore me at our 20th reunion? Decisions, decisions. But, finally, after I believe the 99th rewrite, I decided that my Acknowledgments page for my first novel, Nuclear Winter Wonderland, was finalized and I zipped it off to my editor.

A few months later, the proof for said book arrived. Mmmm, proof of said book, argchghgh...

Once I'd finished fondling my proof, I studiously perused its contents to circle any errata. This was it. I was the last defense between my baby and the public. I was going to be diligent. I was going to be exacting. I was going to need a lot of red pens.

Finished with my task, and proud of my hard work, I sent the proof back to my editor and awaited the day when my novel would be in the hands of Barnes & Nobles customers all around the country.

MOTHER: Oh, Virginia, you have to read this new book - there are no typos!
DAUGHTER: Really? Is he single?

Ah, hubris. Because, as it turned out, there was one glaring mistake, and it was right there on the much-deliberated Acknowledgments page. Perhaps I could have caught it during my perusal of the proof, but I, in my foolishness, had concentrated on the contents of the novel. And now it was out there, in the world, irretrievable.

MOTHER: Oh, Virginia, can you believe the author forgot to mention his stepmother in his special thanks?
DAUGHTER: He must be single.

Yes. Yes, it's true. My stepmother's name was not there. Had she been an Evil Stepmother, the kind who colloquied with mirror mirrors, that omission might have been excusable, but my father's new wife was and is the warmest, most lovable, and most giving person ever born in the state of Minnesota. When my father was in despair over his divorce from my mother, when he was lonely and despondent, this woman, Shiela Aldes (correct spelling), appeared in his life and she changed his life (and thus, by extension, mine). I would have preferred a thousand typos to this one boneheaded mistake.

And as it turns out, there were a thousand typos as well - but more on that another time.


Jen Forbus said...

Hi Joshua...welcome to the Criminal Minds blog. You should introduce yourself! I was confused at first as to why Rebecca was referring to herself in male pronouns! ;)

So are you dedicating book #2 to your step-mother?

Joshua Corin said...

Hi Jen, and thanks for the welcome! I made the change you suggested.

Book #2 is actually dedicated to my nephew Benji, who is about to turn 10 months old. But you better believe that Shiela is going to be listed on the Acknowledgments page!

Sophie Littlefield said...

that is a very sweet story. Makes me want to go check my own acks however...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Welcome, Josh of the male pronouns!

I would suggest putting her in the acknowledgments twice for the second book. You can't thank someone too much!

I just got my final edits for Book 2. I dedicated it to my mother, but the copy editors changed it to my father! I double checked my original electronic file and I DID have it correct. Bottom line: you gotta check for typos everywhere, and not just the ones you create yourself...

Joshua Corin said...

Yeah, I think that's the lesson I'm walking away with: check everything.

Rebecca, did your father by any chance bribe your editor to switch the names...?

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks for joining the Merry Band of Misfits, Josh!! And what a wonderful, hilarious post!!

I'm just glad to know that I'm not the only paranoid obsessive-compulsive microscopically checking acknowledgments. ;)

Can't wait to hear about the copy editing!


Rebecca Cantrell said...

It'd be a good trick if he had, as my father has been dead for over 20 years. But my sister tried to bribe me to dedicate the book to her and one other sister (leaving my third sister out completely, and she didn't even care which sister got left out). My kind side won out though, as much fun as it would have been to mess with their heads.

Shane Gericke said...

Good to see another author obsessed with the acknowledgements page, Josh. I do the same thing--obsess over placement and order of people, worry that I might leave someone out, is my sister seriously enough about her boyfriend to call him "family" in the acknowlegement? The acknowledgements page contains some of the most creative writing in a novel, I think. Anyway, great post.

As for your stepmom, dedicate the next book to her and you're in like Flynn.