Monday, March 2, 2009

Miss Malaprop types again!

HALLIE: The other day I was typing a letter and at the end, I typed:

Such a great typo, because "beset" is what I truly feel, half the time. So not Zen.

Then, this morning I was writing a scene in my book and my character dropped her purse and "lounged for her lipstick" as it rolled away. Lounged for instead of lunged for. Another typo with great possibilities, possibly even a better verb.

Then, in "Never Tell a Lie" (thank you Hank for catching this one) I wrote: There were narrow aisles with housewares, mixing bowels and kitchen utensils and dish towels, alongside weed whackers and paint supplies. Bowels and towels. Maybe I was trying to rhyme?

Could be that it's genetic. My daughter tells me she wrote an entire paper about Janis Joplin's addiction to heroine. And then an essay on Savannah's pubic squares. She's also the one who, celebrating her first Passover in her own apartment, had her (Catholic) best friend hide the Kofi-annan instead of the Afikomen). Okay, you have to be Jewish to appreciate that.

Do you exhibit some creative unawareness, perhaps some Freudian insight in your typos?

RHYS: Remind me never to go to that store where they have the bowels and the kitchen utensils side by side. You have quite put me off my breakfast! I wonder if there is a Freudian side to typos? Mine are usually homonyms--there for their etc--because my brain has rushed on ahead and left my fingers to themselves. Sometimes it's just my bad spelling. I was a terrible speller as a child, unlike my best friend, who had been to a school where they got one hit with the cane for every spelling word they got wrong. Consequently she was the best speller I have ever met. Modern educators take note??

RO: Now that I'm working on a mini (2-3 days a week) I have tons of typos because the keyboard is smaller than a standard size and my chubby little fingers are flying all over the place. I have to be super careful, otherwise my writing looks like pig latin (no wisecracks!!)
On a regular basis..I misspell my own name and type Rosemray.

HALLIE: I have a computer with one of those mini-keyboards. The only way I can get even close to correct spelling is to poke the keys, one-finger typing.

Just got an email from a panel moderator for an upcoming conference who began her message by addressing the panelists as "Kindley authors" instead of "kindly."

HANK: Are you sure that was a mistake?

ROBERTA: I'm trying to think of typos, but my mind seems to be a dead bank. (Hallie had to help me with that one.) My last name is a fallow field when it comes to typos...Isbeil, Isabub, even one day, a letter came addressed to Rupert Sleiba. Then one day in the newspaper that usually screwed everything up, it was spelled perfectly--the day I came in dead last in a golf tournament, with a very high, extremely embarrassing score. I-S-L-E-I-B. Sigh.

HALLIE: ACK! You're reminding me of when I was giving a talk with my then co-author and I got introduced as Nora Ephron and he got introduced as Peter Zak (our character).

I'm howeling (oops) with laughter. I mean--how do you gracefully correct something like that?

I'm also laughing because I'm right now in the midst of proofing the typeset pages for my dear AIR TIME (I'm in a phase of liking it very much right now and that's fun. MIRA Sept 2009.)

Anyway, in one scene, I have the new Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office of the FBI talking.

"Your question is duly noted," the SAC replies. "But I repeat, classified. We're following big money. International smuggling. Child labor. Legitimate companies ripped off for millions."

Except in the typset version, it says: International snuggling.

I literally laughed for fifteen minutes. And I'm still laughing now. I guess it's a romantic suspense thing.

JAN: Lately, I've been mispelling my name a lot, ending emails Jn, instead of Jan. As if JAN is just so long, it requires an abbreviation. I think the nature of email and online communication is just going to provide more of these opportunities for humor and humiliation. Although I don't like typos, they bother me less when they are obvious typos. The kind everyone can spot. The public/pubic one is the most embarassing.

HALLIE: And Jan leaves us wondering if she's being deliberately ironic...

What's your favorite typo...and don't you hate it when your computer "fixes" a mistake and makes it even worse? (Like just now I almost used the SPELLCHECKER on this blog.)


  1. I often think of the occasion when Peter Wimsey, acting the silly twit, says in horror, "Smug-druggling?"

  2. International snuggling :-)

    Most horrible typo ever: In the climactic sentence of A CITIZEN OF THE COUNTRY, one character is supposed to say to another "I want you to..." In the galleys it was fine. In the published book it was "I want to..." Ick ick ick.

  3. Ahhh...SarahWriter..that's AWFUL. Makes my stomach hurt. How did it happen?

    And it's especially terrifying since I'm in the midst of proofreading the typsets of Air Time (as I said) and I'm listing pages and pages of
    typos. Anyone else find lots at this stage?

    And in Air Time, Charlie is texting and types "Need more ifno." (Which I meant as a typo, because it's so hard to text. And he next line is "No time to spellcheck.")

    So we'll see if an intentional typo makes it through unfixed.

  4. I worked in the PR department for a Baptist university a long time ago, and while proofreading a press release before it went out, caught this typo:

    X university offers athiest education ...

    instead of X university offers a theist education ...

    My funniest typo probably comes from the days I was a "host" in a fantasy writing forum on AOL. My host bartender character (our job, to keep the collaborative story going) was a Jack Russell terrier named 'Tizzah.' Tiz was great fun to write and to play, but one evening a character Tiz didn't much like fell down drunk in front of the bar, and instead of Tizzah "peering over the bar", I typed "pees over the bar".

    Accidental. I think.

  5. Hey Susannah - sure you didn't misspell Tizzah's name to start with a W instead of a T?

    Oy, Sarah..that's a horrific one.

    Yeah, Hank, I find a gazillion typos in galleys, and by then I am thoroughly sick of that book and so onto the next that I'm the very last person likely to want to read it carefully. Once in a typeset galley I didn't catch a deletd decimal point on a medicine dosage. Heard lots of screams from health care professionals about that.

  6. Susannah,

    I love the atheist typo!

    And Hallie, I always have a good friend read the galleys after me because I can't see it anymore.

    I'm always amazed at how much editing goes into any manuscript and how there is always at least one error that escapes all detection. But the typos bother me less than the information errors. I'm still mad at myself for a Pawsox scene in Yesterday's Fatal, I had a character call a baseball score the way tennis scores are called. Because I play so much tennis, it never even occurred to me that not every sport calls its teams score first. (as in my score is Love-30) In baseball, you say the winning score first, then the team name. Three different highly qualified editors didn't catch it either. Now I have my son read for sports errors.

  7. When I worked as a newspaper copy editor, our biggest fear was that "public" would be "pubic." I caught that mistake a lot, but I'm sure it managed to sneak in every once in a while.

  8. There's a pretty funny chick-lit book by Kristen Gore called Sammy's Hill, where the public/pubic typo plays a pretty significant part in the final chapter..

    Thanks, Hallie, for the reassurance. Glad to know it's not just mine. Sheesh. Scary.

    There's some saying--anyone know the real one? That's someithng like--its an absolute of the universe that any author will open the first copy of their book to the page that has the typo.

  9. Well, I'm a horrible typist and am always typing "teh" for "the" (guess I have a quick "e" finger. But one moment that really sticks out for me, in my first novel, in one scene, my character is looking at her "stained-glass" windows--except somehow, in all the galleys and drafts no one noticed that the "glass" part was left out, so that it just referred to "stained windows." Okay, not the hugest deal, until the day I chose that scene to read aloud at a signing. I'm merrily reading away and I get to that line, whiz right over it and then stop. I go back and look at it (yes, during the reading) and I think, holy crap, how'd that get in there?

    Oh well.

  10. Hallie, I snorted coffee out my nose over your daughter's typos! I'm usually pretty good about spotting them in other people's work; my own not so much.

    Just finished a Katie MacAlister and this typo'd sentence was toward the end of the book: "Would the dragon shard let me love Gabriel the same why?" D'uh...huh?

    I proofed a story for a friend taking a writing class. In the printed version, the hero's name was...Gorge. Ho-kay. Was he Latino and it was actually Jorge and she didn't know better? I made a note to ask her. Then I discovered that he was a "paid escort" and he had a big...*gorge* and it was *ENgorged*--a lot. Turned out, his name was "George".

  11. Oh, you all are scaring me.

    And see, there was even a typo in my last posting.

    My dad, a long-tine newspaper reporter, always says "There's always another typo."

    Happily, people read so fast they don't knotice. You know that old matchbook thing:

    U Can gt a gud job with moer pay!

    And isn't there a recent study that says you brain fills in mistakes and misspellings and left out letters?

  12. In Deadfall, the latest Level Best Books anthology of which I'm an editor, my story has a typo:

    Potholes and poor lighting plagued it, and he'd helped it along by breaking two more of the overheard lights...

    Hmmm, I wonder what the lights were saying.

    What hurts is I'm known as "eagle eye" when I proof the SinC newsletter or the Crime Bake program book.

    I can't tell you how many times I read the story, it's only 725 words, and so did my two writers groups and we never noticed.

    Great topic. Of course, I enjoy reading JRW everyday.

  13. Ruth,
    If it makes you feel any better, I had to read it TWICE to see the typo even after you pointed it out.

    I'm guessing if it slipped by your eagle eye, it slipped by 90 percent of the readers.

    This presents a philosophical question akin to the tree falling in the forest.

    If nobody else picks up the typo, did it really exist?

    Okay, it still exists. But can we be absolved from fretting about it?

  14. OK, so here's the question: if I, as your reader, notice a typo in your printed book, do you want me to bring it to your attention? (Preferably in an email, not a public blog posting!) I'm never quite sure, but as one of those genetically eagle-eyed people, a gene my sons have inherited so I'm SURE it's a gene, I wonder. I wouldn't want to offend anyone, but if it were me who had the great privilege of having a book in print (not yet, but still hopeful), I know I would like to be notified. Let me know!


  15. Oh, Edith. That is SUCH a good question. What do you think, everyone? If I can't change it, I don't want to know. But then, if there's another printing
    :-) I would want it to be fixed...

    And, because I'm still proofing Air Time, allow me to share the latest from page 168:

    I pause, hands clamped over my hears to keep out the airport noise...


  16. And Edith, is there something you are thinking about telling us about one of our books????

  17. On Edith's question -- I have a good friend who is an editor, and whenever I have a new book out it's barely a heartbeat before my friend sends me an email with a typo or plot gotcha discovered in my JUST PUBLISHED book. Do I want to know? Frankly, no. Confession: What I want to know is THAT my friend read my book -- doing this for a friend who's an author is a great gift. AND I want to hear how much my friend loved-loved-loved. Yes, even if that's a lie.

    We have critics out there to steamroll us, plenty of bloggers and readers who delight in puncturing what they see as author's inflated egos.

  18. Well, that's why I asked. Noticing one typo absolutely doesn't take away from my great pleasure in reading books by each of the excellent JR writers or other good storytellers and I absolutely wouldn't want to be viewed as an ego-deflater! I would view it more as a professional courtesy, but as you say, the book has already gone out, so I think I'll continue to keep what I notice to myself. And speaking of reading pleasure, Never Tell a Lie was the latest one - fantastic storytelling, Hallie. Thank you!


  19. Two typos I came across in the yellow pages. The first was when I was looking up a street address for the library:

    Red Lake Falls Pubic Library

    The second was in a box ad under physical therapists:

    Contact John Farmer, The rapist

  20. In a lawsuit, I once received a response to a written request for information that said "Objection, calls for legal confusion."

    It should have been "legal conclusion."

    Happily, I'm not the lawyer who wrote the question!

  21. Oh, Leslie - I love that":

    "Objection, Your Honor. That calls for legal confusion."

    How perfect. Could have been written for the Marx Brothers!

  22. Gosh, wonder what was in that library???

  23. Gosh, wonder what was in that library???

  24. Leslie, that's so funny. When I was marshal of a state appellate court, we got a brief talking about the SOUL heir. That got lots of snickers from the judges.

  25. Found this funny poem on ...

    Eye halve a spelling chequer

    Eye halve a spelling chequer
    It came with my pea sea
    It plainly marques four my revue
    Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
    Eye strike a key and type a word
    And weight four it two say
    Weather eye am wrong oar write
    It shows me strait a weigh.

    As soon as a mist ache is maid
    It nose bee fore two long
    And eye can put the error rite
    Its rarely ever wrong.

    Eye have run this poem threw it
    I am shore your pleased two no
    Its letter perfect in it's weigh
    My chequer tolled me sew.

    (Sauce unknown)