Anyone can find the big mistakes, the part where you’ve suddenly changed your protagonist’s eyes from green to brown or your antagonist’s body type from slim to stout. But it’s what I like to call the “niggly” stuff that authors have the hardest time finding, not because we don’t want to, but because we’ve read and reread our work so many times.
Here are some examples, found in my “final” draft of my new release, Skeletons in the Attic (rest assured, they have been corrected!):
Misty Rivers, psychic to Callie Barnstable, protagonist: “I’ll leave you my card. Please call me if you find yourself needing any assistance, any assistance at all. And thank you for the tea and cookies.”
Editor: The tea was never poured. [Impressive catch]
Callie Barnstable to Royce Ashford, contractor/next-door neighbor/possible love interest: “I really like the way you knocked down that wall in your house.”
Editor: When was she in his house? [Answer: In a previous draft, but certainly not in this one.]
Callie: I stopped my Garmin and closed my eyes, trying to remember standing there.
Editor: What’s a Garmin? [Answer: A GPS for running that shows pace/time/mileage etc. When you’re into a sport (I’m a runner), you assume everyone in the world knows the lingo. Bad assumption. I changed it to my GPS wristwatch.]
Now, you might be thinking, these really are niggly. And you’d be correct. But it’s the small things that pull us out of a book. Sometimes we’re not even sure why, we just know something is “off.” The best editors will point those niggly things out. It’s up to the author to make it right.
Skeletons in the Attic
What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…
Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: She must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.
Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?
Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016. Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Find Judy on her website/blog at www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.
Skeletons in the Attic is now available for preorder on Amazon Kindle for the special introductory price of .99 (reg. $4.99).
You can also find it at http://www.imajinbooks.com/skeletons-in-the-attic
Lourdes Venard is a freelance editor and copyediting instructor.