Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Checking Everything Carefully or Being Mightily Embarrassed

© Marilyn Meredith 2008 all rights reserved

It's an honor and pleasure to welcome our friend, Marilyn Meredith, back to Murder By 4 on the launch date of her latest novel, KINDRED SPIRITS.

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As you probably guessed, I’ve been mightily embarrassed—but it could’ve been worse.

In my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, KINDRED SPIRITS, I dedicated the book to the person who inspired the story, two of the main characters, and was my primary source about the Tolowa people.

Unfortunately, due to me not paying enough attention, her name is wrong in the dedication. The first one is correct, but the last one is the one I gave to one of the characters. It’s easy enough to see how this happened, probably when I did one of the spell checks, the right last name came up and I thought it was a mistake in the body of the work and switched it.

Since my book launch is in the town where part of the book takes place, and the woman I dedicated the book to will be there, I made the correction on each of the books sold there.

As usual, there was a time crunch with the publication of the books. The time for my launch was drawing near and as yet I hadn’t received the edits. Just before they arrived, the woman who arranged the launch emailed with the scary news that some of what I’d learned when I was in the area the last time might not have been quite right—and she wanted to make sure I had it right in the book.

No, I didn’t have it right because I was relying on my primary source and what she told me. Some was correct, but some wasn’t quite correct. The tribal status of the Tolowa people was taken away by President Eisenhower in 1963. However, this status has since been reinstated.

My primary source wants the Tolowa to be recognized as a nation so has refused to accept the benefits of being a part of the Tolowa tribe. What she told me was that the Tolowa were not recognized and she didn’t receive benefits—which I later learned was by her own choice.

Of course I’d used the wrong information in the book. I told the publisher and as soon as the edits came I made all the necessary changes. Without the changes, this could have been extremely embarrassing for me—and destroyed my credibility as an author.

Yes, I did do other research, however I never discovered anything about the tribal status one way or the other.

I’m still grateful to my primary source. She opened my eyes to a Native American people group that I knew nothing about, a people who were nearly wiped out in an attempt at genocide encouraged by the Governor of California in 1851. She also told me many facts about the Tolowa people, the rich history and colorful legends. I would never have written this book without her inspiration.

This has taught me a great lesson, when writing about real people and situations—even though everything has been fictionalized—I will triple check my facts.

Hopefully, this may be a warning to other writers to keep them from being mightily embarrassed.
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Marilyn Meredith is the author of award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series as well as over twenty published novels. The latest is, Kindred Spirits, from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, the latest, Smell of Death, from Tigress Press.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, EPIC and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. Visit her at


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Marilyn, the Lord keeps us humble! I, too, have felt the sting of discovering something not "perfect" and regretting that I didn't check it 95 times instead of just 94. LOL. It will happen to the best of us - and all we can do is dig in and focus the very best we can, whether it's research or typos. But we're all human, and hopefully our readers will accept and forgive.

Cheryl said...

On my first article for writer2writer I noticed a typo when I read it online and so did one of my readers--who as a fellow writer felt the need to point it out and increase my embarrassment.

Nonetheless, you've written an excellent book, given us some great advice, and left me eagerly anticipating Tempe's next adventure.

Best of luck with your tour, Marilyn!


Anonymous said...

Bless your heart. Your baby is born and you have to worry about that. I'm sure your friend understands. I just wanted to pop in and tell you good luck on your virtual book tour, Marilyn. I haven't had a chance to contact you much, but I see that you're in good hands with Cheryl. She's a pro. And you are a wonderful woman to worry about this. Enjoy your book; I know your friend understands.

Tracee said...

Things like this happen to the best of us - I think it is wonderful that you changed these all by hand. Sounds like an excellent book - it is on my TBR pile:) Good luck on tour!

Marta Stephens said...

If we didn't make mistakes, we wouldn't be human. We're all in good company!

No matter how many times we proofread our work, our brain "fixes" the typos (because it's smart and knows how the text is supposed to read) and we skip over typos. In my soon to be released novel, a line of dialogue was suppose to read, "Where would he have ..." I tpyed it "Were would he..." I must have read it a million times, finally caught it in during the final proofreading!

Thanks so much for letting MB4 be one of our launch stops. Best of luck with Kindred Spirits!!

Kim Smith said...

Welcome Marilyn! Kindred Spirits looks like a fabulous read. Thanks for joining us on MB4

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thank you for a most enjoyable time spent on your blog! It was great fun.