Pesky Typos Happen To The Best Of Us

There’s this funny—or at least it makes me chuckle as well as groan—bit of snark seen on Facebook, posted among writers groups, that goes something like this, although I’ve embellished it herein for effect and to indulge personal flair:

Here’s to all the typos, misspellings, and other inexplicable maddening glitches that persevere despite a  writer’s constant edits and due diligence, regardless of the eagle eyes of numerous beta readers, and in spite of the pricy yet worth it line-editing by a professional trained in the art of making novels better—and keeping authors from looking like they don’t know how to spell. We salute you and we hate you—the typos, not the myriad people the little blooper buggers got past to soar through in all of their grisly glory to final and irreversible publication, bringing subsequent and searing mortification.

In defense of my wonderful professional editor, some of my typos are more likely due to me screwing things up in a rewrite after I’ve incorporated her redlining and addressed her comments and suggestions.

In any event, I know this post-publication pain well. Because I’ve produced six novels in my Other Worldly series since 2020 and, no matter what, I’ll be rereading the entire series as I constantly do to keep track of the story line and other pertinent details, and wham! The brutal kick in the gut that the eyes can’t deny, leaping off the page to pummel my psyche and my ego.

Most recently, after re-reading Altogether Alien for the third time since it launched last spring, I finally found the inevitable exasperating and glaring mistake: “Cornered looked” as opposed to “cornered look.” I’ve often noticed during the drafting phase that this kind of blip is one the eye tends to miss—and the hand tends to mistype in a cloud of creative fervor. Plus, it’s something spellcheck doesn’t cover.

But the other error in Altogether Alien that I’ve found so far—because sure as tootin’ there’ll be more rearing their ugly smug little heads—involves me attributing an action to the wrong character. In my defense, I’m dealing with alien all-female sextuplet children, so it’s probably surprising it hasn’t happened before.

In Alien Sensation published in 2022, early on there’s the very embarrassing typo of an “its” that should be “it’s,” when, ironically, that mistake usually occurs the other way around. But the really awful error was a blatant misspelling of protagonist Rowan Layne’s name as Rowen. Here’s the rub. One of those aforementioned sextuplets has the name Rowena, named after Rowan and a yummy alien dude named Owen, so you can see how that little picadillo fell through the editing cracks.

All of this is to say that every now and then I read something other than my own novels, usually the latest by a favorite author, and I find myself constantly looking for typos in books produced by major brick-and-mortar publishing houses. Just to make myself feel better. Which doesn’t happen because I haven’t come upon any such picadilloes by the powerhouse publishers.

Until last week. My treat to myself to end the year was reading John Grisham’s latest, The Exchange, the sequel to his second and highly successful legal thriller, The Firm. And there it was, close to the end of the novel when suspense was high and one tends to read more quickly to find out what happens.

I, however, wasn’t reading too fast to notice the word soldier misspelled as solider. The kind of thing that spellcheck tends to catch, as it certainly did as I typed this blog post. It’s still up there on the line above, underlined in blue, glaring at me. But if I fix it, that will defeat the purpose and point of this paragraph.

Anyway, we can be sure it’s (as opposed to its) not Grisham’s fault that two letters in one word remained reversed all the way to the final hardback version of his latest novel. And Grisham most definitely wrote an excellent and satisfying sequel to the story of Mitch and Abby McDeere, fifteen years after The Firm ended. Hence, it was set in 2005, which I admit was kind of confusing for me at first.

Also, international law can be excruciatingly boring, a fact that Grisham conveyed all too well in The Exchange, maybe to the detriment of the story’s pacing. But details are details and his are well-researched and succinctly described.

Besides, who am I to criticize when I have to constantly look up the correct spelling of my own Other Worldly characters, especially Red MacLeod. I had to double-check spelling of McDeere to write this post—and I actually had it typed correctly, though spellcheck doesn’t like it. It doesn’t approve of the spelling of my first name, Lauryne, either, so spellcheck can bite me for that—it’s my parents’ fault.

Any typos found in this blog post, however, are wholly the fault of the drafter by the same name, because she didn’t allow herself time to repeatedly edit this prior to hitting the publish button. And, yikes, I just reread this and that word flair in the very first sentence appeared as flare. You can’t make this mortifying stuff up. Maybe I should blame all of those discombobulating flares going off for hours on New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year, terrible typos and all. They’re coming for sure in 2024 within the next Other Worldly novel, Aliens Watch. No matter how many eyes are watching over its production.

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