The phoenix arises

Posted on February 12, 2011 (Subscribe to Blog)

Whenever I get time, I delve into the world(s) of Hal and his friends. This is usually late at night when the wife, child, four cats, one dog and three goldfish are in bed. (Not all in the same bed, obviously, as that would be ridiculous.)

I write until my eyes start closing, push on past sleepiness with my cup of tea, and eventually stop around 1.00am when I realize that I have to get up at 6.45am and am only going to get about five hours of sleep. Time flies when I'm writing, and it always annoys me how little I seem to have got done. But I'm getting there; I'm halfway through chapter five at the moment.

While the main plot is pretty well established, ideas for sub-plots have been bubbling up. One is about an ancient phoenix being reborn from its own ashes, and the startling results of that rebirth. I decided to name that phoenix Jacob, because of a young reader of the same name who read Island of Fog recently and kindly told me about a typo he found. This makes me wonder if anyone else spotted it! It's fairly obvious; see if you can spot it on page 181.

Anyway, I like it when readers let me know of typos. Obviously I don't want there to be typos anywhere, but if there are any, then I want to know about them so I can put them right. The moment someone tells me of a typo, I correct my original manuscript so that my next printed editions will be slightly more perfect than the last. As a reward for 12-year-old Jacob telling me about this typo, I plan to name the ancient phoenix after him. Jacob replied:

OHHHHH!!!!!!! WOW!!! Thank you so much!!!! I would really like to be a phoenix!!! I can't wait to read those books!!!! ... I can't wait to see what is in store for your new character, I mean MEEEEE!!!!!!

I'm way ahead of myself again. I'm only five chapters into Book IV, Lake of Spirits, and I'm already thinking about Book V, which has a tentative title but I'm not going to mention it yet. In case you're wondering, there's no sign of Book VI in my mind yet; I suspect this won't start revealing itself until I'm writing Book V – which is probably a good thing as I don't think I'd be able to stand the wait. I wish I'd hurry up!!

More soon.

Comment by JAIME on Saturday, February 12, 2011...

I'm so excited about your next book!

Comment by ROGER ESCHBACHER on Saturday, February 12, 2011...

"I wish I'd hurry up!!"

Boy, can I relate to that! Good problem to have, I suppose. I'd rather have too many ideas jostling for position than not enough. There is an art to knuckling down and finishing what you start before moving on to the next project. Sounds like you're well in control.

Comment by MICHELLE on Saturday, February 12, 2011...

It's wonderful and fascinating how different we are! I am just like you Keith and would want to know about any error I'd missed. With my own work I edit and edit and edit till I'm exhausted and will still find another the next day... so I'd be thrilled if others were spotting for me also. I am one of those readers who spots typos... it's like I stub my toe each time I find one! ;P

I have to say that the worst proof-read books I have read have been released by some of the largest publishing houses in the world! However I had an experience last year that would make me hesitate pointing out a typo ever again.

I won't say who but the author was completely thrown by my pointing one out - I adored his book so much that I felt it deserved to be perfect. He was a self-publisher so I thought it would be simple for him to fix for future prints. I was as polite as I could be and asked him first if he would like me to point it out for him. Instead of thanks I got an author having a meltdown and was made to feel guilty for him forever knowing it wasn't perfect.

..... as I said the world is full of amazingly different people. It's not always possible to follow your own instincts 'cause mine were no use that day. :D

I'm working with someone at the moment who has asked me to edit his 2nd book and thankfully he is like you and I .... very very glad to have mistakes pointed out.. phew!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Saturday, February 12, 2011...

Glad you're excited, Jaime! :-)

Roger, I don't know if I'm "well in control" or not, but I do know that one of the worst things a writer can do is to keep starting new projects while not finishing anything. I have quite a few unfinished projects myself, from years and years ago. Since I buckled down and finished Island of Fog (which was one of those old unfinished projects) I've managed to stay on track and get things done in a methodical "I-will-not-stray" kind of way. There are two or three other old projects I'd like to dust off and work on someday, but meanwhile, anything I start these days is something I intend to finish.

Michelle, don't fret about that author you upset. My view is, if the author gets that upset over having a typo pointed out, he probably shouldn't be writing — for health reasons. Imagine if he made it big and thousands, perhaps millions of people read his book, and there were the inevitable bad reviews posted on the internet. He'd probably have a nervous breakdown over those. "Oh, woe is me!! What's the point of it all?" I think you have to be pretty relaxed about it, take all criticism on the chin and thank those who offer reasons why the story sucks. And definitely thank those who take the time to point out typos. I find that people who write to criticize in some way, or point out typos, are usually not trying to be clever; they're actually looking out for me, offering some way to help improve things, or trying to save me embarrassment over a daft error. Which is what YOU did for this author you mentioned. You just have to do for others what you hope readers will do for you. If it upsets a few people, well, so be it. If you say nothing, chances are the author is one of those who WANTS to know about the typo and is annoyed that nobody informed him.

Also, if someone asks you to edit his book, then he's literally ASKING for typos and all other mistakes to be pointed out, so don't hold back! :-)

Comment by ROGER ESCHBACHER on Sunday, February 13, 2011...

@ Keith — You're absolutely right. Unless the project turns out to be absolutely horrid (Have I been there? Ohhhh yes!), you have to finish what you start. I think not to do so invites sort of a "writing mojo split focus", causing all of your work to suffer. Even though you're not consciously thinking about the unfinished projects, they drag along behind you like Jacob Marley's chains in "A Christmas Carol". There are few things more satisfying than finishing a writing project and "lightening the load".

@ Michelle — Keith's nicer than I am. That author is a fool and, frankly, criminally immature. As a "typo king", I'm down on my knees grateful for any catch like that. I like to think most authors are more like Keith (and myself) so please continue to offer your kind assistance.

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