March 4, 2013
I can not begin to tell all of you how much fun I've been having with Shell Games. I absolutely love going out to visit with readers, and I've been blessed by having a full schedule of book readings and events. At the same time, I've been thinking about something quite a lot lately. Before I moved into writing literary nonfiction, I had written over twenty textbooks -- and was one of the most hated people in America! Why? Simple: because I was the person who did the books from which students had to do their homework -- with books ranging from those for children in the early elementary grades up through books for those in college classes. I can recall being in classrooms in the schools and finding my textbooks in the rooms, books with my picture in the back of them. In many cases, students had drawn on my pictures arrows through my head, horns coming out of my hair, and assorted scars and other marks all across my face. Yep -- I was not exactly their favorite person... Now, however, it is so much fun and makes my heart smile so much to see people actually enjoying what I write! So, I feel so lucky - and so blessed.
Whenever I've done book readings for events related to Shell Games, I've given a "challenge" to the folks in attendance. Here's the background of that challenge: Whenever a writer crafts a piece about a time period some distance back (Shell Games took place almost exactly a hundred years ago), he/she must make sure that all words, phrases, and pieces of background material match what would have been said and done in that time period. I call this "No Lincoln with a cell phone!" Catching words and phrases that don't belong is tricky -- and is something both the author and the publisher really concentrate upon in the editing phases of a manuscript. Well, to make a long story short, I made a big mistake with one phrase/expression in Shell Games. Even though the manuscript was gone through with a fine-toothed comb, I still managed to use a phrase/expression that would not have been used at the time the story unfolded. As a matter of fact, the phrase/expression in question would not have been used until almost twenty years after the story ends! These things just happen at times. So, I've been giving a challenge to those who attend my readings and other book events: find the mistake! So far, I've had dozens of readers write to me and ask if a certain phrase/expression is the one that slipped through. None had -- that is, none had found it until this past Saturday when a reader sent me a note stating she "thought" she had found it. Well, she really had found it! Bravo to Judy! I'm now going to send out to her, as a prize for finding the out-of-place phrase/expression, a good half dozen pearl buttons that were made in the same plant where Pearl McGill worked -- at the same time Pearl was there! There is no way of knowing whether Pearl actually handled these buttons when she worked in the Shipping Department of the plant, but there is always that possibility....... I've also decided I'll open this up this challenge to all my readers. If you can find the phrase/expression that doesn't fit the time period of the story, I'll send to you a half dozen of the original pearl buttons as your prize! I'll be interested to see how many of you can find it. Have fun with this!
I've also been asked quite a few times recently how the work is progressing on my next book. I'm happy to report I'm well into the story -- and having a wonderful time putting it together (and am really excited about it). I'll have more about the progress on that manuscript in the next entry.
In the meantime, I wish all of you health, happiness -- and great reading experiences!