Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Giving Talks About Writing

Lately I've read several blogs about what to do when appearing on TV or giving talks. I love giving talks about writing and about my books.

This video was taken when I gave a talk at the Hanford CA library about my books.


I had a runny nose that night, which you’ll certainly pick up on as I keep wiping my nose. My daughter-in-law is sitting by the books, and she is who I picture in my mind when I’m writing about Deputy Tempe Crabtree.

This is more or less how I look and sound when I’m giving a talk most anywhere–though I don’t usually have a runny nose.

I recently gave a talk on Self-Editing to a pleasant and welcoming group of authors at a lovely bookstore in the foothills on the way to Yosemite National Park. Everyone was welcoming–and no one challenged me after they realized I really did know what I was talking about. Another thing that helps is I always tell mistakes I’ve made and managed to get through into my published books, despite all the eyes that looked at it in manuscript form.

The biggest goof was in Deadly Omen, the first in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. Tempe drives around in a Blazer which becomes a Bronco and then turns back into a Blazer, and this happens several times. I admit it, I don’t pay much attention to cars. Whenever I get a new one I make sure that my adhesive banner with my website on it is stuck on the back of the new car so I won’t have trouble finding it in a parking lot.

In Calling the Dead there’s a name change on a page–the man is called something, then his name changes (it’s a close name) then changes back. When a reader pointed it out to me, I informed the publisher and it was changed before the next round of printing.

I always warn all writers to print out their manuscript when they are ready to proof-read. Proofing on the computer just doesn’t work. Your eye seems to fix all the mistakes.

Once when I had a broken ankle, I decided to work on an old manuscript because I didn’t feel like starting anything new. I went through the novel zealously, changing words, making sure pronouns agreed with nouns, all the things I know to do when editing. But–I didn’t print the book out. Instead I sent it off to a publishing house that has always published everything I sent. What I received from them was a polite note that I should consider what the first reader had to say, and if I fixed all my mistakes, send it back for another look through.

When I read it again, I was horrified to see that in many cases where I changed a word, I left the old word in too. There were other mistakes too–ones that I’d have easily caught if I’d printed out the manuscript and edited it one last time before sending it off. And no, I’ve never tackled it again.

Another good idea is to put the manuscript aside for at least a week, then go over it one more time.

Going back to the presentation, I hope that I saved those writers from the humiliation that I felt when I received that message from the publisher.

All in all, it was a terrific afternoon. I enjoyed meeting new writers, seeing two old friends, and talking about my favorite subject–writing.



  1. Evelyn David's next book is in the editing stage. Thanks for the timely tips!

    Some day I want to give a presentation and have as many books as you do sitting on display table beside me!

    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

  2. Sometime I think it would be much easier not to have so many books to sell.

    People always ask me how I had the time to write so many books--well, I've been writing for ever!

    There are three or four books that never saw the light of day.