What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

In the last three weeks I’ve aged ten years.Well, maybe I just look like I’ve aged ten years? I think Charley may have aged twenty years, but he still looks great.

The premature aging is a direct result of trying to get this “cursed”  book (that’s what we are now calling it) completed in time for its launch party. I may add, we’ve changed the date of this celebration three times. Luckily, no publicity was sent out initially so, although it’s been very stressful, little harm was done.

This saga all began two years ago when I was doing signings for my children’s’ book, A Berkshire Tale. It’s set in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, about three hours from Rhode Island. Not very far away. But here in RI, we are sometimes quite parochial and driving twenty minutes to work can be a monumental feat to some. Invariably, when I would be peddling my ZuZu Series of ten tales here in RI, people would say, “So, you’ve written a book set in the Berkshires. Have you written anything set here in Rhode Island?”

After hearing this on numerous occasions, I began to actually feel disloyal to my home state. On one of those days I returned home and announced to Charley that I had given up and was going to write a book set not only in RI but right here in Kingston, my home town.

I must have been dealing with some inner demons because I chose to write a murder mystery which can be quite cathartic if you are harboring thoughts of killing someone, but don’t want to do the jail time. I had read Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and it had given me an idea – an inspiration. I can’t tell you what it is, because I’ll give away the plot and I have some potential fans of my work (you know who you are) who are extremely averse to knowing who dunnit before actually reading the mystery.

I’d decided what my settings would be but it took me a while to create the characters. Developing the plot around the initial idea entailed a detailed time-line. As in any good mystery, it was crucial to play fair, giving ample clues and adding in red herrings as the plot unfolded. This became complicated at times and right up until the very last proof edit, changes were needed.

And then there was the research. As I was dealing with local historical settings, I needed to get the facts straight. The South County History Center housed in the old jail was a wonderful resource.

Old Jail House

In addition, I had to become educated on the correct police procedures used in a small town. The detective in my series, is a woman and we only have two women on our police force. One of them graciously offered help answer all of my questions.

Then, there was the drug problem. I needed to gain some understanding of certain types of medicines, but I won’t go into much more here because of those aforementioned fans. I had some good sources for this because our university has a great pharmacy program which I’m sure I will continue to use as a resource in the future. Did I mention that this is the first in a series?

I also had to learn a bit about forensics and the university has classes open to the public on these topics. Charley and I decided to attend the one scheduled on crime scene trace evidence. Unfortunately,  there’d been a change in the syllabus and we ended up at a two-hour class on incendiaries bombs. If I decide to blow someone up in one of my next books, I still have the notes.

As the year moved on, I finished taking photos for illustrations as I continued to create this new world with interesting, developing characters . I found a young artist to design the cover and after much blood, sweat and tears the book was completed.

I sent it to my publisher and that is when the cold, hard reality hit – it wasn’t anywhere near completed. The blood, sweat and especially the tears recommenced.

Editing and formatting are a crucial part of preparing a book for print. It came to a point where I never wanted to read the words, I had so caringly placed on those cursed pages, ever again. I knew the book by heart.  Over fifty thousand words, punctuation, spelling and consistency issues rose up to torment me into the early morning hours until finally it was ready to request a proof.

It was at this point I realized I do not edit well from a computer screen. I couldn’t believe the number of errors glaring out at me in the first hard copy.

Roxie felt the only plausible solution was to trash the whole project and write a book about her.

Roxie and the four proofs

But the corrected proof was eventually submitted and a computer copy sent. I sat up in the early morning hours perusing it on my laptop and at about 2:45 AM  I realized something strange had occurred. Two scenes which should have been in the Thursday chapter showed up in the Friday chapter. Now, in a mystery, this can prove to be a plot killer. Because if someone dies on one day and then wakes up two days later, readers are going to, at the very least, scratch their heads. I sent out a frantic email to my publisher: Stop the presses! (I had the presence of mind not to call him at 3 AM.)

The error was corrected but formatting had to be redone. The third proof was ready to be sent. And it arrived – with the wrong cover. The inside text was fine, although I found a few more errors which will have to be corrected on a second printing. Anyone buying the first printing is welcome to send me the list of mistakes: the quotation marks going the wrong way; the Mrs instead of Ms; the needless “to”; the indent error. I have them all circled in my latest proof, the one with the correct cover.

But today it is time for the “cursed” book to “Get out of this house” (Charley’s words) and be printed so I’ll have copies in time for people who come to the Book Launch Party in two weeks. The publisher agrees and has sent it on its way to press.

I’ve already begun the next mystery in the series, Last Rose on the Vine. It’s set at the university and will have some of the same characters and the settings will be historic buildings and places on campus. The murder takes place in the rose garden where I’ve worked as a master gardener volunteer. It seems like this book is much easier to write than the first one. The characters are created; I know the  settings well; I’ve made most  of the mistakes already on the previous book. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Post Script: I pushed “Publish” and the first draft of this post was sent. I thought I corrected it, but I didn’t. So, this is the finished post. And that is the answer to my question: What else could possibly go wrong?

Have a peaceful weekend.

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87 thoughts on “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

  1. Oh goodness, that sounds like quite the ordeal! But I still say congratulations for a job well done, and I haven’t seen the book yet. I just have a feeling!
    I’m with you, I can’t edit on a computer screen nearly as well as in print. One day I’ll have to answer for all the trees I’ve killed. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, CJ. Which copy of this post did you get? The original draft, the 10 revisions or the final corrected post? The final post should have a photo of Roxie and a post script about pushing “Publish” too fast . Obviously I need to get back to blogging because I’ve forgotten how.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And here I was making plans of writing my first book 😦 Now I’m getting second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts! But the good thing is, it’s finally over for you (at least for the time being) and congratulations for that!

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  3. And here I was making plans of writing my first book 😦 Now I’m getting second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts! But the good part is, it’s finally over for you (at least for the time being) and congratulations for that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Arti. Please go ahead with those plans. But definitely hire another pair of eyes to edit. I tend to try to do everything myself and that is a true recipe for disaster – or certainly for a whole lot of angst. Hopefully you only got one copy of this post and not the draft and the ten revisions!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is 1AM and that is the nicest thing anyone has said to me today – or the past few months, even. Thanks, Arti. Within the last two years, my topics have evolved from reading with children to so many other areas – even into expressing my strong views on the current state of the US. I guess we’re never too old to evolve.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Definitely and terms like ‘too old’ do not exist for people like you Clare. Keep those posts coming, people love ’em. By the way it’s 10:40 AM here. You better catch some sleep

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      3. Arti, I think you are in a most exciting and exhilerating time of your life. But you must see it as that – a positive – in order to enjoy it. Don’t be afraid. You have so many years in your future to settle should you choose for that life style. Just go along with the lovely flow of the vibrations around you and tuck away all the experiences and feelings so that you’ll have a treasure trove of things to write about when you take out that pen and paper.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. There is no place to comment on the Dreams post, so I’ll do it here. The dialogue moves beautifully and you’ve captured the young girl and her heart’s flutterings so well. It brought me back a hudred years ago when I was young and had a crush on a boy and stood by at the weekly dance hoping he’d come by and take my hand. Alas, it never happened. When I was older, I realized how insecure young boys can be. But their youthful uncertainty appears to young girls as a rebuff or total disinterest. If only we knew when we were young that boys and girls can become friends and the realtionship may or may not some day blossom into a deeper relationship. But the start is always showing kindness and making each other feel they are safe within the comfort of a friendship. That is my 1:30 AM wisdom. I’ll keep up with your serial and root for that lovely girl.

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      1. Name it, control it! My nana used to have a whole vocabulary that floats to the top of my memory every now and then. Along with funny sayings. No doubt everyone’s grandma had similar. Another was: ‘grace under pressure’. More widely used but appropriate for the peevish Roxie.

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  4. An ordeal well completed and the result will be a winner, I am certain. I await with impatience the moment I can purchase my copy. The Bean is convinced that Roxie has a brilliant future as a best-selling author but is less convinced that she really really wants to do all that editing. This is, she says, all that has held her back thus far and she fears it maybe the same for her friend. I am thinking of setting up a specialised Literary Agency to take the pain out of the process for these potential stars. I think its a winner …. Much love to and many congratulations on putting the book to bed. For now 😉 ❤️ 📚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t blogged in so long, I actually pushed “publish” and sent off the first draft. I didn’t know how to fix it, but bumbled around and hope you received the final one with Roxie and the PS. I think your idea of a Literary Agency is BRILLIANT! You would be absolutely perfect and I would be your first client. Hugs to the Bean and the hubby and you, too of course.

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  5. Wow, dear Clare, my congratulations! You did it no matter of anything. I can imagine what do you feel. I am working on my book yet, it is not ready even, not to mention any editing or anything else. I even do not have any publisher, I guess I won’t be able to find anyone interested in it. Self-publishing is the choice, I guess, and maybe even only electronic ones, I hardly can afford hard copies. Anyway, I do talk too much, I am so happy for you! Will your book be available for sale somewhere at internet? I would love to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ann, you know I am encouraging you to do your book and then you can make it into a feature film (or documentary). I’m actually self-published but I use a publishing service to do some of the formatting and such and arrange for the printing. You can do this, too. Just keep on filming and writing and, of course, blogging. Blogging is such a wonderful way to hone your craft. Yes, it will be on Amazon Create Space and I will provide the link as soon as the publisher sends it to me. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m no longer a Crazy Woman! (I know Jack and Charley would disagree). Finally I can now get on to enjoying summer with my friends. We need to make a plan. thank you and I hope it’s sunny at the Cape. Hugs to you all. 😎

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  6. What a journey Claremary. What a process. You are teaching me the definition of patience as I follow your lead. We are so happy for your mighty accomplishments and you are more beautiful now then before and we know Charley will agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! We haven’t chatted in a bit and I really need to stop by and find out where you two are gallavanting this week. Thank you for your lovely words and I will pass them on to my hubby who has been very patient with me lately. And this fiasco all happened during his birthday month! Writing a blog is very rewarding and filled with lovely friends like you to share in the ups and downs of our journeys. Take care and I hope the sun is shining on you today.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks and unfortunately, I’ve read it so many times, I’m not sure if it is any good at this point. Seriously, next book I’m hiring a professional editor, and just concentrating on the writing. It will save what little sanity there is left. But it will be on Amazon and I would appreciate any feed back (Good or bad) from those who like the genre. It will give me some perspective and help as I write the next in the series.

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  7. How frustrating that must have been for you. I’m impressed you still have hair left. I would’ve torn mine all out! Isn’t it amazing how we can read the book a zillion times and still find typos in the proof? But it’s only onto better things for you now. A big congrats on the book and best of luck with the launch!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Carrie. Some of the errors were directly on my doorstep and some on the publishing process itself (the wrong cover and not correcting errors I’d delineated for them)). But I learn well from mistakes, so, I guess right now I am totally brilliant???🤓

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    1. Thank you, my friend. I am just going to enjoy planning the launch party with friends and not having to spend hours on editing any more. No frets today. It began with a thunderstorm and then the sun came out and it is marvelous! Oh Frabjous Day!

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  8. If it makes you feel any better, I am up to my eyeballs in half-unpacked boxes, so breezed right over any incorrect initial versions you might have published! Haha. I am sure that your hard work will result in an enjoyable end-product! Congrats on your latest achievement!

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    1. Thanks, Peg. I’ve been checking things on face book and you have had a crazy month with moving and guests and the graduation. Congratulations Mom! And I really hope you are settling in to a future life of leisure.

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  9. Congratulations on getting there in the end. It does sound very stressful. I’m in the first editing stage so it’s not too bad – yet. I hope you can take soem time out this weekend and relax.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. I need a new process so there isb\n’t so much editing in the end. Have you given yourself a timeline for your book? I’m wondering if you outline first.
      I haven’t touched the book proof all day! And I survived. Now to plan for the party and that should be fun – unless the cursed books don’t get here on time!!!!!!!

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      1. No, I haven’t given myself a deadline which is probably a big mistake as it means I can keep leaving it to one side while I do other things. As well as the Goldfish memoir I have a slim collection of short stories which have been to a professional editor and only need some tweaks but… Tomorrow is the start of a new week and I have a couple of days with nothing else planned so hope to get my head down.
        I hope your launch party goes really well. Will the book be available on Amazon?

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  10. I have said it before but its worth repeating….I DONT KNOW HOW YOU DO WHAT YOU DO AND STAY SANE!! I am exhausted just reading all of your exploits – let alone have a walk on part in the Play. You have so much going on, but isn’t that more fun than just sitting at home. Clare – you’ve never had a quiet day in your life, and I don’t think you would want want. Keep on Truckin; babe ( as the song goes)

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    1. It’s so good to hear from you, especially since I’ve been on hiatus, on and off, for so long. I often think about the cast of characters surrounding you and hope they’re not giving you too much angst. The lack of sleep is catching up to me and I’m slowing down a bit. Summer is quite lovely and Roxie is hoping I’ll grab a book or a crossword puzzle and just sit with her in the gazebo for an afternoon. I think maybe I’ll do that today. And I’ll visit with some of my blogging frineds, too. The last time I checked, you hadn’t posted, so I’ll try again today. Take care and who really needs to be sane, Looney B?

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    1. Russ! Thanks! I really need to catch up on A Grateful Man although I’ve been pretty good about checking Face Book. How is your novel doing? I’ll find out when I visit and I must order it if it’s available.
      This is a bit different – making the jump from Children’s stories with happy endings to murder mysteries. But I enjoy both genres. This is going to be a series, so I’ll be living with these characters for a while. I’m not sure there’s enough room in the house???? Have a peaceful Sunday, my friend. Clare

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  11. Hey Roxie, can you ask Clare when and where the launch party is going to be? Oh, unless you are still angry that the book isn’t about you. Maybe you make a cameo appearance in the mystery. (Wait, did you do it Roxie? I’m sure that’s a possibility….)

    Can’t wait to read more about your publishing process Clare!

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    1. It’s taking place on July 9th right in the middle of town at the Fellowship Hall in Kingston Congregational Church. Charley is setting up a toy train set. There’ll be “Train” music, and prize baskets and munchies and two cakes in the shape of trains. One is actually a donut cake. Hopefully the “cursed” books will arrive in time! you’re invited, of course! (Two of my previous cats, George and Gracie, are mentioned in the book, but, alas, no Roxie)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your launch party sounds amazing! If only I had plans to travel your direction that week I would celebrate with you and eat “donut cake.” (I do not know what donut cake is, but I love donuts, so this combined dessert must be delicious.) Please post about how your event goes. I will be cheering you on from afar.

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      2. It is an extremely large donut made especially for a group of people who have absolutely no concern about cholesterol levels skyrocketing and leading to immediate cardiac arrest. You can have it cut into any shape you please and then decorated with frosting and colored sprinkles. I would love to send you a piece but fully realize how much your daughter cherishes you, so, I will not endeavor to put your life in any sort of danger. I really do wish you lived closer and thanks for the cheers. I will be documenting with photos.

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  12. I am bursting with empathy, Clare, and I hope you will soon settle down and enjoy the glow. Well known fact: the hardest books to edit are the ones you write yourself. Now that I’ve read the biography of the book, I’m hoping your editor will publish it as a Kindle e-book. That’s how I do most of my reading now. Raising a glass to you down under!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. How exciting! Please let us know when the book is available for sale. Better, when and where can we get a signed copy — for those of us living too far for the launch party. Good luck with the book’s success!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I will be posting a link for purchasing the book from Create Space and Amazon after the book launch on July 9th. But for those who want an inscribed book, I’ll make sure I include that info, too.

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  14. You’ve done remarkably well to get through all of that with sanity and marriage intact, even if a certain cat would prefer a different subject! I wish you well for your new book, and hope that the next one is a much easier ride.

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    1. Thank you, Clive, My poor publisher has just about had it with me. Although I ordered 150 books to arrive in time for the launch, those books still had a few errors that I’d found at the last minute. So, I’ve been going back and forth with the corrections and tomorrow he is going to send them in and we will do a new proof and print run without the errors. Then I’ll order some more books. But the first 150 will be collectors’ items because they will have those mistakes which didn’t get caught in time even after countless edits! The Create Space order site and Amazon should have the corrected book up just after the launch date. I can’t help but think the second mystery will be so much easier. (Famous last words)

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      1. Have you thought about creating a real collectors’ market by hand correcting the first print run? Autograph the corrections too – you could make a fortune! I know how difficult it is though – I proof read my daughter’s book last year and I bet there’s something I missed in there somewhere! Good luck, I hope it’s a runaway success for you 😊

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    1. We had the book launch today and Roxie was wild! We were packing the car and she knew we were going to a party without her. It’s nighttime and she is sulking in the hallway. She refuses to come up on the bed. I’m not sure how long this all will last. Methinks she may be pacified if I let her do a blog post. I haven’t done one in a while and need to get back to my routine. I’ll definitely check out what is happening in your neck of the world tonight.

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  15. Do let’s know how the book launch went. Recently I’ve had a break from blogging (and not spent much time the internet, either), so I’ve a lot of catching up with other peoples’ blogs to do, but I’m all caught up with yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Denise, Quite a few regular bloggers took a break this year. Many of them are working on books, too. I’m glad of that because when I do get to their blogs, I can catch up a little easier. Lately I’ve been reading , liking and not commenting. That’s not like me, I have to comment oon everything! But I want to know everything that’s going on in other parts of the universe, not just here in South County. The launch was great fun and friends are just emailing me pictures today. I had no time to take any photos, but at least I’ll have these for the blog. I still have 4 of your posts to read. I fell asleep relatively early last night and have spent the day painting a room. I’m off to do more blog reading. Take care. Clare

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