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Get It Right!

Monday, April 04, 2005
I'm good at suspending disbelief. I'm good at losing myself in an author's world. Minor issues don't usually bother me and when a writer has done a good job, I can lose myself in a book and not think "craft" thoughts all the way through.

But damn.

I couldn't sleep last night, so I picked up an anthology I bought at the UBS on my last trip. I'd ODd on Regencies a while back, but I'm slowly getting back into them, mostly by way of anthologies. This was a recent collection, only a couple of years old, put out by a Big Name Publisher.

You know it's going to be bad when you can't get through the first page. And you know the first page is only half a page long due to formatting. shudder

Like I said, I'm pretty easy to get along with. I can forgive a lot of things, but even before I knew anything I knew a few things. Such as -- a peer of the realm is never, ever, EVER referred to as Earl Wilmington* in conversation. I mean, WTF?? How lazy-ass an author can you be not to check the BASICS of the era in which you're writing? This is Regency 101 stuff. Earl Wilmington sounds like he carries a spit cup with him when he goes with his cousin Billy Bob to the NASCAR races. (No offense to those who chew, have cousins named Billy Bob, and/or attend NASCAR.)

According to my favorite Regency appellation page, Earl Wilmington ought to have been referred to as "the Earl of Wilmington." Since our intrepid heroine was a member of the family (not immediate), he should have been "LORD Wilmington" or in more familiar terms, "Wilmington."

Not to mention the fact that his daughter ought not to have been "Miss Wilmington" since Wilmington is the title, not the family name. She should have been "Lady Beatrice Hartwell" or to friends "Lady Beatrice."

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

And you know how difficult it was to find all this out? Not very. Probably took me less than 10 minutes all those eons ago to find this page and bookmark it for future reference. But LAA (Lazy-Ass Author) couldn't be bothered to do the most basic sort of research. Dipwad. FWIW, she has quite a backlist of titles. Yikes.

Equally scary is the fact that this story was deemed acceptable for publication. Makes you wonder if the editors at Big Name Publisher are paying attention to these things. Perhaps this editor usually reads contemporaries or paranormals. Still not much of an excuse when the other two stories in the book used titles more accurately. These errors really jumped off the page.

Just wrong, wrong, wrong. Do the research. It's not that hard and it can be a lot of fun. We have this nifty new thing called The Internet now that can make finding things out much easier. If you're not willing to build the foundation, then your story is going to fall flat. And I'll make it a point never to pick up your backlist!
4/04/2005 09:58:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 10 Comments


Oh my Lawd! (Not Wilmington, snert) Woman, you crack me up. lol. But you're right. LAA, indeed.

By Blogger Jaye, at 6:07 PM  

You're snarkalicious and I love it. LOL - I think you should change the name of this blog to "The Snarkalicious Diva" and just get it over with.

Rock on!

By Anonymous Kristen, at 10:53 PM  

You could blame it on the LAA, but you should also blame it on the LAE (Lazy Ass Editor and more importnatnly COpy Editor) They should have caught those mistakes. It is a copy editor's job to query such things. So obviousl the BN publisher does not care about such things. Which is Too Bad as it gives the whole genre a bad name.
Modes of address will not sink a novel for a publisher in the same way lack of emotional conflict will BUT it is the little things which will cause a reader not to return to a particular author.

By Blogger Michelle Styles, at 1:32 AM  

That is exactly why I dislike historicals. My degree is in History and Anthropology. I thought I might be overly critical, but apparently not.


By Anonymous Sheila, at 9:57 AM  

I think what you're saying is that it's not just finding an historical mistake in a book (it happens even with the best efforts of both authors and editors), but when it's something really basic that gives you the feeling that the author really does not care. You've paid good money for a book, and you have certain expectations as a reader.

Read a so-called 'historical' romance set in the Regency recently which involved a murder. The thing that really irritated me was that the proceedural details were wrong. Or, to be fair, hadn't been researched at all. Where was the Justice of the Peace? Or the constable? Or coroner?

The body was just buried, with no inquest! There was a funeral (which the women went to - not normal) and then at the end someone from Bow Street turned up. What? Story wasn't set anywhere near London.

By Blogger Kate Allan, at 2:53 AM  

I put down a book on the first page when it used the word 'suburbs' in reference to the area surrounding Washington DC in about 1800. Really...suburbs...you don't say...

By Anonymous MartyK, at 10:16 AM  

Are you sure it wasn't Lord Talladega? *VBESEG* I'm LMAO@Nascar.....that's just funny. You know that's funny.

By Blogger Amie Stuart, at 9:10 PM  

I'm LOL at your SEG! I think we've all had these experiences. And just to prove there's at least one OTB (On The Ball) editor out there, check out Crimson Ink and Caviar Dreams.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 9:26 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 9:27 PM  

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By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 9:27 PM  

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