Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Writer's Desperation.....LOL

My friend Donnell has given me permission to post her article. I think we can ALL relate! LOL Enjoy. . .

Sometimes this business gets downright frustrating. Ever send out a manuscript, turn around and read it later and find a typo when you read the darn thing over and over? Well, my friend Robin Searle and I had a discussion that turned silly, but also turned out to be so much fun, we had to share it with you.

The Typo:
By Donnell Ann Bell

My phone rang early one Saturday morning, and checking the caller I.D., I saw it was my critique partner Robin. I picked up immediately, knowing she’d been fretting about getting her manuscript to Star Abernathy, aka Star Literary Agency and also Robin’s dream agent.
“Did you send it?” I asked.
“Yes.” The sigh on the other end was audible. “It cost me $13.29 to mail, but it’s gone. Finis. Now if only she likes it.”
“She’ll love it,” I replied. Number one I’d critiqued it, number two my partner’s an awesome writer. “So what are you going to do today?”
“Clean the house I let go while I edited and proofread this manuscript.”
“Good plan,” I said. “I’m going to hole up in my office and--”
The scream on the other end pierced my ear drum. “Oh my gosh,” I cried. “Robin, what’s happening? Should I call 9-1-1?”
“Just shoot me now,” she said. “I can’t believe it.”
“What? What?” If I had to drive up to Briargate from the south end of Colorado Springs to foil a murder, I needed to leave now. “Talk to me, Robin. What’s happening?”
“I found a typo.”
“A what?”
“You heard me. A typo. My sentence reads, ‘You almost cut off my ear off.’”
“Oh.” I knew a despondent moment. I’d been there. How many contests had I entered where I thought the darn thing was perfect? On one manuscript I’d sent my heroine said, “Peas… peas,” rather than “Please...please.” Remembering the incident, my face grew hot. “She probably won’t notice,” I said.
“Are you out of your mind? Of course she’ll notice,” Robin shouted. “She’s Star Abernathy. Her web page says don’t bother submitting if you can’t pay attention to detail. Do you think ‘Cut off my ear off?’ is paying attention? I’m doomed.” She moaned. “Doomed.”
For anyone else I might have said get over it, but Robin and I are both known to border on melodramatic so I said, “Maybe she won’t notice.”
“Or maybe she’ll reject me so fast my head still will be spinning at the next chapter meeting.”
“There are other agents,” I reasoned.
“Not for me,” Robin said, determination steeling her voice. “Pack a bag. We’re flying to New York.”
Three hours later we were en route to the Big Apple. I’m still not sure how she talked me into it. Something about how she’d do it for me, and how if I didn’t she’d kill me. I didn’t want to die unpublished so I relented.
We landed at La Guardia, and I finally had the nerve to ask, “What happens now? Should we book a hotel?”
Robin looked at me like I was nuts. She flagged a taxi cab driver and directed him to drive us to Wal-Mart.
“Why Wal-Mart?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes. “Because we need something black and I’m on a budget.”
Three hours later, the sun going down, we were dressed in black and standing on Fifth Avenue. But this was New York and as people passed by, no one seemed to notice. I glanced at Robin helplessly. “It’s Saturday. I’ll bet Star Abernathy’s not even in her office.”
“Duh,” Robin said. “Come on. That’s the plan.”
We entered the lobby to find a security guard sitting behind a marbled counter complete with security cameras. No wonder Robin wanted Star to represent her. The lady had done well. “Okay, you distract him,” she said quietly.
“Excuse me?” I mumbled through the side of my mouth.
“Ask for directions, make chit chat,” she said, reaching into her purse.
Chit chat? Me? I approached the guard. “Pardon me, sir. Can you direct me to the Eiffel Tower?”
The man who bore the demeanor of an off-duty cop frowned. “The Eiffel Tower’s in Paris, ma’am.”
I turned to Robin. “Boy, did you make a wrong turn.”
She shoved me aside. “My friend doesn’t get out much. She means the Statue of Liberty. Say, you wouldn’t happen to know if Star Abernathy’s in today, would you?”
A knowing look came over the guard’s face. “You’re writers here to pester Ms. Abernathy.”
Robin grinned at him sheepishly.
“Hold on,” the man said. “I don’t think she’s in, but I’ll check.”
When he turned away, Robin dumped a couple of pills into his coffee.
Unable to believe my eyes, I pulled her away from the counter. “What did you just do?”
“I gave him sleeping pills.”
“You take sleeping pills?”
She shook her head, clearly annoyed with me. “Of course not. You know better than that. But for purposes of this article we need to knock him out.”
“Oh,” I said her explanation all at once making sense.
“Sorry, ladies, she’s not in,” the guard said, conveniently taking a gulp of coffee and not objecting at all to author intrusion. “Come back on Monday.”
“We’ll do that,” Robin said.
Outside we waited…and waited until finally the guard lay his head down and fell fast asleep.
“Let’s go.” She tugged on my arm and my dream of being a successful author vanished. Instead of black I’d be wearing stripes, and at what the awful look would do to my figure, I sighed.
As luck would have it, we found the keys to Star’s office in a metal drawer below the security desk and minutes later rode the elevator up to the agent’s plush office. In the reception area, wall-to-wall manuscripts lined the file cabinets, and dread crept into my being. No way did we have enough time to rummage through the numerous piles.
We entered Star’s suite, and again fate smiled, and for purposes of this article, we found Robin’s manuscript alone on Star’s desk.
Unfortunately our luck had run out and we suffered a black moment like no other. In a matter of two days, the U.S. Postal Service, and with the volume of manuscripts awaiting her perusal in the outer office, Star had chosen Robin’s historical.
Worse, the manuscript was turned to page forty-three and the words ‘cut off my ear off’ were circled in red. Robin’s shoulders slumped. It was too late. A rejection was only a heartbeat away.
I rounded the desk and scanned the note that said, “Star, this one has a typo.” Signed Nelda Reader.
Tears streamed down my friend’s face. I, however, saw an all-is-not-lost scenario. “Robin, I don’t think Star has read it.”
Robin stifled a sob. “She hasn’t?”
“No. Look.”
Even with the blinds drawn and nighttime descending, sunshine illuminated the room. I logged onto Star’s computer, using Star Abernathy as the password… the woman was so predictable…and retyped the errant page.
Both of us proofed and proofed until at last we were satisfied. Then removing Nelda Reader’s damning note, we wrote, “Star, this one’s perfect,” then caught the next plane leaving New York.

Donnell Ann Bell is a member of RWA®’s PPRW, CRW, KOD, the contest coordinator for the Daphne du Maurier Contest for the Kiss of Death Chapter and, oh yeah, an aspiring author.

Robin here...I have SO felt this way before. How about YOU?


:-)Ronie said...

SOOOOOO been there! If only...if only... LOL

Heather Diane Tipton said...


Jeff said...

Very good, Robin. I almost laughed off my butt off! hehe :)

Robin Caroll said...

I can well relate! I've had fantasies along these lines!

Mirtika said...

Ha. It's in the air. Typo-related blog posts. My last post's first entry is on my Genesis entry and the FOUR typos I found AFTER I mailed it. Yes, oh, yes, the Mir knows how it feels...

The Mir

Trista Bane said...

Oh, yes. I do know this feeling. LOLOL at the article and LMAO at Jeff's post.

Camy Tang said...

Hahaha! I should send this story to every writer who emails me about their Genesis entry.

Shesawriter said...

ROFLMAO! That's a keeper. :-)


CHickey said...

I definitely laughed off my butt off. Thanks for the pick me up this morning!

Dana Pollard said...

lol, ok, Robin, I just KNOW you'd do this for me too, right?

What creative minds you ladies have.

Robin Caroll said...

The sad thing is, I think visions like these have crossed my mind a time or two! LOL

Sabrina L. Fox said...

LOVE IT! Very fun. At least we all get it. It's not like we have to worry we're the only one's who screw up.

My favorite part was "But for purposes of this article we need to knock him out." Love that dry humor.

Now about that Genesis entry. Sigh...

Dineen A. Miller said...

Too funny! LOL! If only it were true...

Michele said...

OK, Call me on the carpet. When I first started reading, I thought the NY trip was true!!! Until the pills in the coffee. Duh!
I am SO guillable......

Corina Bowen said...

LOL!! I loved it~~~ why is it I can picture this really happening?
If you ever need xtra bucks you could become the "Typo Retrieval Team".. seem pretty good at it! hehe

Judson Knight said...

GREAT story, Donnell!

And Michele, it's obviously fiction--did you notice how she suggested that Star's office (i.e., the office of a literary agent), was need and orderly enough that you could actually find something--a manuscript, to wit--in it? Everything else was plausible: the easy availability of a flight from Denver to NYC on short notice, w/o costing twice as much as a first-class ticket overseas; their lack of difficulty in getting around, even to a Wal-Mart in Manhattan; other instances of deus ex machina, but THAT? Surely it's fiction, or should I say--in the spirit of the post--friction.

BTW, Robin, if you feel bad, just ask Gena Showalter about typos--try, not a typo on a random page, but let's just say... in the dedication of a book that went to press before anybody noticed. And a particularly horrifying typo at that. But Gena, as classy as a human being as she is talented as a writer, held her head high and managed to laugh about it.

Michele said...

Oh My Gosh, I remember that goof!!
What a riot! And her response was not only funny and clever, but classy too.
Judson's right. I have a copy. I won't give it away for anything, just because I remember her blog response when she discovered it!!

And Judson! The pills in the coffee cup happened before they went up to find the neat office.
Truthfully though, were it not for that, being totally ignorant of the habits of famous editors and agents, having a neat desk wouldn't have clued me at all. The easy password was a no brainer though. No one is as simple as President Scroob in SpaceBalls ... you know..the combination to not only his luggage but the air shield??

I'll go crawl under my Tire now....

Margo Carmichael said...

That was a scream, Robin! Loved it! "Peas! Peas!"

Robin Caroll said...

Isn't Donnell hilarous? She cracks me up. I read her article and immediately asked if I could post it here! Thought you guys would appreciate it! :)

Mel Francis said...

this is a brilliant article! I love it!

Judson Knight said...

You know what's funny is that, looking back over my own post above, I found a typo--"the office . . . was need and orderly." Hey, Robin--thanks to you, Michele, and other kind and generous encouragers, I have actually posted something new on my blog! Will miracles ever cease?