Saturday, December 5, 2009

Guilty. Again.





















By Michael


As I join Josh, CJ, Jeannie, Kelli, Joshua, Sophie, Shane, Tim, and Gabriella – “Criminal Minds” whose writing I greatly admire – I wish could say that I’ve been innocent of making mistakes in my writing. The man who made them may have looked like me, but I was out of town, at home asleep, anywhere but at the scene of the crime. I wish. But while my readers have been too kind to alert me to the mistakes I’ve made, my editors have saved me from a few, ranging from small to very large, that otherwise would have gone into print.

One of the small: In THE LAST STRIPTEASE, a corrupt ex-judge, living the high life, owns a 280 Sun Sport powerboat. I’ve never been on a 280 Sun Sport. I’ve never even seen one in person. But I Google with the best of them and I decided that this boat had the right amount of testosterone for a guy like the ex-judge. I did have enough experience with boats, though, to know that a 280 Sun Sport must be 28 feet long, unless the 280 meant 280 feet, which it didn’t since ads for the boat showed bikini models stretched most of the length of the front deck and I knew they weren’t taller than six or seven feet at most, including the legs. So, I wrote the following lines: “If you stood the judge’s boat on its end, you could use it as a rocket. Twenty-eight feet of speed and power.” Except the 280 Sun Sport isn’t twenty-eight feet long. As my copyeditor informed me, it’s twenty-nine. Why my copyeditor bothered to check that fact I never asked. But I was grateful.

One of the large: THE LAST STRIPTEASE wasn’t originally called THE LAST STRIPTEASE. It was called LITTLE DOGS IN LEATHER CORSETS. It’s a name that’s close to my heart and if I ever buy a 280 Sun Sport I’ll paint it on its stern. But my first readers looked confused after finishing the manuscript and said in the kind of soft tones one uses with the sadly misguided, “Mike, there are no dogs in the book. And no leather corsets.” I corrected them: there are, in fact, two dogs and both of them wear leather corsets, if only for a moment and in an incidental scene. But I took the concern to heart and changed the title to UNROBED. St. Martin’s bought the book under that name, but my editor’s first question was “What do you think of your title” – this in a tone that said how little she thought of it – and I answered, “Actually, I’d prefer to call it LITTLE DOGS IN LEATHER CORSETS.” After an uncomfortable pause, she said, “What do you think of THE LAST STRIPTEASE.” “I love it,” I said.

Thank God for editors.

14 comments:

Thomas said...

So..."LITTLE DOGS IN LEATHER CORSETS?" A sly reference to "Mules in Horses' Harness?" Are you writing the "Gone With the Wind" of crime literature?

Michael Wiley said...

In this case, the corseted dog is just a corseted dog. These things happen, though they probably shouldn't.

Jen Forbus said...

Welcome Michael! I've heard many an author bemoan the title-creation process. It sounds like a nightmare at times.

Hope the future brings you many wonderful titles.

Kelli Stanley said...

Michael! Welcome aboard, my friend, and thanks for the Saturday AM chuckle!! :) A wonderful post ... and I'm looking forward to seeing your yacht with "Little Dogs in Leather Corsets" painted on the side! ;)

xoxo

Kelli

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Jen. Really, I don't bemoan the process very much (at least I'm no longer bemoaning it). THE LAST STRIPTEASE fits the book pretty well. And St. Martin's didn't ask me to change BAD KITTY LOUNGE (That one I would have bemoaned!).

Thanks for having me on board, Kelli. When one is on a cruise like this -- in close quarters and all -- it's great to be among fellow passengers one likes and admires.

Shane Gericke said...

Welcome to the Titanic, Michael. We shall enjoy your help rearranging the furniture ...

Seriously, glad you're here. I loved your story about the titles. I haven't had one of my own stick yet in three books, but I'm hopping that someday It Shall Be Mine. Then again, I wind up loving the title my editor comes up with, so I can't feel too bad about it.

Joshua Corin said...

See, I think LITTLE DOGS IN LEATHER CORSETS is a kickass title!

Sure, your book might have been been filed next to Larry Flynt's, but just imagine the gifts your publicist could have crafted to go along with that title...

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Shane and Josh. Along with my second book, BAD KITTY LOUNGE, I could have had an animal theme --like Gabriella's series, but with g-strings.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

What kinda weird kennels do you hang out at, Michael? Maybe I don't want to know.

I also like the LITTLE DOGS IN LEATHER CORSETS title. I wanted to call my first book QUEER BIRD, then EVEN SMOKE LEAVES A TRACE (a line in the book) and somehow it got changed to A TRACE OF SMOKE. But I did come up with the title for the second one, A NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES and so far I'm getting to keep it. Actually, ARCs go out soon with that name so I think it's official.

For book 3 I like A GAME OF LIES. We'll see if I win that one...

Kaye Barley said...

LITTLE DOGS IN LEATHER CORSETS made me spit! I love it! and - - I would buy that book based solely on the title.

Welcome, Michael - Great to see you here!!

Kaye

Michael Wiley said...

Oh, the kennels I've known. . . . I like QUEER BIRD, and I love A NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES. EVEN SMOKE LEAVES A TRACE is great, though it might make potential buyers work too hard? I do like A TRACE OF SMOKE too.

I'm convinced (again) that the title belongs on a book -- later if not sooner. Thanks, Kaye.

Sophie Littlefield said...

so wait, are these like...you know....bondage corsets? Cause if so we might have to talk. Hrrghhm. Research, you know, for my next stella book...

Shane Gericke said...

Corsets? Dang, Sophie, I think I need to read everything you've ever published, just cause it would add to my, you know, education about Such Things ...

Michael Wiley said...

Even in these tough economic times, businesses seem to survive by selling dog corsets, though they tend more toward Victorian underwear than bondage. I'm not sure that I really want to imagine the possibilities.

A few links:

http://www.poshpetglamourboutique.com/index.cfm/fa/subcategories.main/parentcat/19890/subcatid/47436;

http://www.kooldawgtees.com/Cha_Cha_dog_couture.html;

http://www.glamourdog.com/hip-swt-cor.html