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Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm Sorry This Individual Never Had a Female Dog OR Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt OR I Rant Therefore I AM

First thing I'll do is post a recent review of Bubba and the Dead Woman, my parody/comedy mystery set in rural Texas.  This was the criticism of an individual who apparently didn't think much of my work.

This native small-town Texan says please, please pass.,

Seldom do I leave a mildly intriguing plot-line unread, but I simply could not get past the inaccurate and absurd attempts at Texan dialect, the ridiculous name of every other character (Lurlene? Willodean? REALLY?), and the numerous misspellings (the Good Will store instead of Goodwill, the often-mentioned Camero, etc), the seemingly lost-in-the-stereotyped-50's portrayal of Texan life, and the ever-present, if random, addition of commas into sentence structure.  
A note to the author, as well as to other non-Texans: We don't harbor fantasies of "naturally Southern women" (in fact, we barely consider ourselves Southerners - we're Texans), we're not likely to have heard the word carpetbagger mentioned seriously in the last two generations, it's not illegal to have a social poker game for money, and for heaven's sake, in a non-Texan-related observation, female dogs do not mark tires. (This was actually the last page that I read. I simply couldn't take it any longer.)

There is a reason why the first bit of advice given to any potential author is "write what you know." If you are from Texas, expect to be enraged by the sheer enormity of how "wrong" the portrayal is, and if you are not from Texas, please know that this is so off the mark as to be utterly and completely insulting.
That being said.  I shall say this.  Criticism is good.  Criticism can help authors improve their work as long as they take it in the proper vein.  Absolutely.  Of course, I prefer positive criticism but negative criticism can be helpful too.

Now I have to make some other comments before I can really get down to brass tacks.  Bubba and the Dead Woman is the book that's downloading best on the epubs.  Yea.  Free enterprise!  There are folks who just love Bubba to death.  In fact, the sequel, Bubba and the 12 Deadly Days of Christmas, is selling very well.  All gravilicious there.  (Yes, I made up a work.  Gravilicious: it's all good stuff.  Gravy + Delicious = Gravilicious.  Possibly an adjective.  Could be a noun depending on context.)  Anyhoo, Bubba is a good old boy in rural Texas whose ex-fiancee shows up and gets murdered.  Everyone is looking at Bubba as the bad guy and Bubba has to figure who done did it.

Good book.  I always liked Bubba.  He's a fun character and I enjoy writing about him and the imaginary town of Pegramville.  That being said, I'd like to say to the reviewer, who was quoted above, that the book is FICTIONAL.  That means made-up.  It means that I created the characters, the town, and the setting in my head and wrote it down in a book.

Things to clear up.  1).  Although I'm not a native Texan, I lived there for a very, very long time.  (Decades.)  I do know what some Texans sound like and I do know the way they speak.  Certainly not all Texans sound like the personalities in my novel, but these are characterizations.  (That means they're made-up, concocted, or fictional, if you'd prefer.)

2).  Do I really think that small town Texas is just like Pegramville?  Does anyone who reads my books think that?  No, of course not.  Again.  It's for humor's sake.  It's a parody.  It's supposed to be funny and quaint and adorable.  And certainly, there are parts of Texas that are just that, a truly delightful place.

3).  Let's address 'absurd names,' as mentioned above.  In Bubba and the Dead Woman I did something that I hadn't done before.  I was tired of using a baby name book, so I picked up the phone book.  (Some of you are smiling right now.)  With the exception of Bubba, which is a name that I specifically wanted to use in the book because of the connotations, every name in Bubba and the Dead Woman was selected from a telephone book.  Demetrice, Adelia, Annalee, Lurlene, Willodean, Foot Johnson, George Bufford, Daniel Gollihugh, Roscoe Stinedurf, and every other name in the book, again with the exception of Bubba, were selected out of the phone book of a small Texas town in which I lived at the time I wrote this book.  (Granted not all the names were matched up with the last names but believe it or not there was a Foot Johnson listed in the town I was living in at the time I wrote the book.)  So much for absurdity.

4.  Misspellings galore.  Yes, there were misspellings in the book.  Misused words, too.  I just finished fixing them and it's reposted on Amazon.  Also on smashwords.  It might take a few weeks for smashwords to get the document downloaded to so be patient.  I corrected Camero to Camaro.  (My abject apologies to Chevy fans everywhere, I did not mean to take the classic car's name in vain.  Seriously.  I love Chevy.  I also love Ford.  My husband has a 1954 Chevy truck sitting in the garage right now and it's the best storage device I've ever had.  I love that truck.)  I also fixed Goodwill from Good Will.  (I may go to hell for that error by itself.)  I incorrectly used gage for gauge once and that's taken care of.  I fixed every one that I could find.  I admit my sins.

Now I'll tell a typo story.  The first book I ever sold was Bayou Moon. I've written about it before. It's a Gothic mystery set in the south. (I should hope so.) I sold it to St. Martin's and it came out in hardback. Then I went around promoting the heck out of it. I must have read that sucker twenty times before it got published. Then there was my editor who must have read it twenty times too. HIM, the man to whom I'm married, read it multiple times. Several friends and relatives read it. Then there was a line editor who tore it apart with a red ink pen. Sounds like it was proofread, right?  About a month after the book came out I was doing a signing in Plano, Texas when a lady came up to me with a list. She said, "Here's a list of all the typos in your book, dear. I made note of them so you can change them in the future." Wasn't that nice of her? At the time I was mildly insulted. I looked at her list and looked in my book and said, "Shit, there are still typos in the book. There really are." And there were. Still are in Bayou Moon, if you care to find them. I never changed them, although I meant to, if Bayou Moon had come out into a paperback, which it did not. I was polite to this lady and thanked her for her principled interest. Now, I'm like, 'Thanks for the heads up.' Seriously.

The point of the story is there will always be typos in a book.  It's not the end of the world.  But if you feel perky send me a list and I will fix them.  I'm good about that.  I don't want them in there any more than you want to read them.
5.  Back to my reviewer's words.  Commas, well, yeah, heck, commas, what, was, I, thinking, with, too, many, commas?  Sheesh.  ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.  There.

6.  The crack about naturally Southern bred women doesn't really need to be commented about but I will.  Refer back to parody.  The individual might want to look it up in the dictionary for clarification.  Do Texans and Southerners harbor secret fantasies about 'naturally Southern bred women?'  Well, yes, yes some of them do.  They also harbor secret fantasies about all kinds of other women.  Probably some of them about men, too.  But then that's perfectly normal.

7.  Texans vs. Southerners.  I've heard Texans say both.  Many times.  Some of them are fiercely Texan.  I've heard some refer to themselves as Southerners, and yes, Texas was part of the South.  It's official.  Nothing wrong with that either.  It's one of the reasons that Texas is such a great place to be.  And it makes for a wonderful topic to write about, too.  I've also heard Texans refer to 'carpetbaggers' too.  Especially older Texans, so I guess the reviewer isn't very happy about older Texans and Southerners.  That's the reviewer's problem, I suppose.

8.  Social gambling is still illegal in some parts of Texas.  (Gambling for profit is illegal in many places.)  That's a no-brainer.

9.  And OMFG, I'm sincerely sorry that this person never had a female dog.  (That's called a bitch, and now I'm really laughing.)  This person really missed out.  As a point of elucidation, I checked with HIM's sister, who happens to be a licensed veterinarian, and get this, she's a licensed veterinarian in the state of Texas.  (I'm really laughing now.)  Yes, female dogs do mark things like tires.  Some of them even lift their legs to do it.

10.  Finally, it was never my intention to insult Texans.  I can't make it any more clear than this.  I love the state of Texas.  My daughter was born in Texas.  Some of my family and some wonderfully dear friends live in Texas.  It's a simply fantastic place to be.  One day, when the economy and life permits, we'll move back there.  Yes, I will write more Bubba books.  Furthermore, I'll be giggling when I do it.

In conclusion: Texas is GOOD!  Texas is WONDERIFIC!  I LOVE TEXAS!  I love my fans.  I even love the reviewers who don't like my work but are constructive.  (Thanks for the feedback.  I'll certainly keep it in mind.)  Bubba is GOOD!  Bubba in TEXAS is even better.  Go Bubba.

In further conclusion, and because I can't keep myself from adding this, this reviewer left his or her comment on  Amazon permits others to commit on reviews.  While I'm restraining myself here, I would tell folks to feel free to leave a comment on this person's review.  And here's the link:

Peace.  Out.  Y'all be good hear?

PS.  Thanks to my wondrous sister-in-law, Amy, who is undoubtedly the best veterinarian in Texas, and possibly in the world, and who is gracious and wise for answering my weird questions.  Also thanks to Mark Twain for saying, 'Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.'


stuff said...

I posted a response to that lunatic's review... when is the next episode in the Bubba saga coming out?

C.L. Bevill said...

Yea, first amendment rights!

Thanks, stuff!

Bubba and the Missing Woman (Bubba Book 3) coming out hopefully around November/December. I'm writing! I'm writing!

stuff said...

I really love Bubba. I find it particularly amusing because on of my other favorite writers has a Bubba character too -- Charlaine Harris. Add to that the coincidental locales, and all the dead people, and I just get silly.