Sometimes Writers Goof

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 under artwork, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,

As if you didn’t know that already.    But last year’s goof (not recognized as a goof at the time)  has made the last week….difficult.   I’m swiping a post I made over at  so I don’t have to write the embarrassing thing twice, but being a writer, I had to edit and revise it.

The smart writer/cartographer stores EVERY version of maps for the book in the same map tube or she regrets it.    It’s not like I hadn’t already lost one master map, 20-odd years ago.    But sure enough…

Regret, worry, frustration has been the story of my days since this time last week, when the master map was finally getting flat enough to really look at.

And I discovered that data in the map for Oath of Fealty had never made it onto the master.  And I remembered why (after the first hours of shock and horror) but that didn’t help.  In order to get the Oath map done more quickly, and with less chance of a kitchen accident ruining the whole thing, I had blocked out the master map–and then, realizing how long it would take to finish the whole thing, traced what I’d done so far onto a smaller piece of drafting vellum and worked that (which covered the area needed for Oath) into final form.  The smaller piece also fit on the kitchen table without lopping over the side, and was easier to protect.   I made several versions,  deciding what would still show when the map was reduced, etc.

For reasons known not to me at this point, I then stored the big map and its various backup sheets in a large map tube, but put the smaller sheets into a smaller map tube not in the same place as the big map tube.  Can we say REALLY BAD IDEA?  I thought we could.  I certainly can.

In the course of the year, the small map tube got buried in other stuff.    I knew where the big one was. I had forgotten that all the data hadn’t been transferred back to the big map (including some important tributaries of rivers, the location of Duke’s Stronghold and so on) and the reason for THAT was having to dive into other things the minute the map was done.   Of course, the ideal writer/cartographer would have remembered, and in the first spare moment would have carefully traced onto the master anything on the sub-map that wasn’t there yet.  (Spare moments?  I’ve heard of that, but never actually SEEN one!)

Of course I looked in what I thought was every map tube in the house.  Some had prints in them.  Some were empty.   That t0ok a day or so because a) I’m not the world’s most organized housekeeper and b) the house had just been disrupted by moving things around for our son’s move to an apartment.

In the meantime, I had decided that as a stopgap I could use the image of last year’s map in the computer, and try to find a size to print it that would match the existing master (using the twists of the Honnorgat as the criterion.)  I now have many, many printouts of the north half of last year’s map (what I needed) in various percentages of its full size.   This process was interrupted by a variety of other chores, business, household, personal, etc.

I had just run another series this afternoon (each one one-percent up or down from the previous) that didn’t quite fit but was closer, swearing that this was the last day I’d waste like this–I’d just have to make up (from the map in the book) those impossible-to-imitate wiggles and claim the maps in Kings were made by a different cartographer–Tsaian?  Finthan?  A disgruntled Dzordanyan?–when–walking back in to print another one, the right map tube fell onto my foot.

“Hi!  I’m your friendly local desperately-needed-map-tube!  You called?”

It was only a week lost.


The last place you look is where you find whatever it is.   The  little darlings, all curly from their year in durance vile, are safe.   They’re now flattening, a process that takes at least 24 hours, esp. as this map tube, being smaller in diameter, curled them more tightly.  As soon as they’ve let go a little, I’ll put them in the pad of vellum they came from, in the midst of flat sheets, and weight the whole thing.  They should be ready to work by tomorrow morning.

I will never,  no never, no never again put the pieces of that puzzle in different map tubes.    (And this is why I’ve been ominously absent in here this week.)


  • Comment by tuppence — June 3, 2010 @ 4:49 pm


    Simyits strikes. Were you by any chance involved doing something to Arvid around the time that the maps went into the fifth dimension?

    I’ve just finished a reread of ‘Oath’. Oh Stammel.

    I hope that someday a good reader does an audio version. I find it interesting the slightly different feel that I get for a well loved book when I hear it read aloud. (But its got to be a good voice for that book!)

  • Comment by Kip Colegrove — June 3, 2010 @ 5:48 pm


    One’s interior memory palace has only a partial connection to the palace in which one actually lives, alas.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 3, 2010 @ 8:57 pm


    Incomplete mapping of one function onto another? Hmmm…can I get a story out of this?

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 3, 2010 @ 8:58 pm


    Audio rights have been licensed and at this point it’s up to the licensee to choose the right voice actors. Oddly enough, for one of my audiobooks I’ve had both glowing comments and snarly comments about the same person’s reading, so clearly it’s a very individual thing.

  • Comment by Adam Baker — June 3, 2010 @ 9:44 pm


    Oh man, how I can so relate to this!! Ive never misplaced a map I was drawing, haha, but Ive done this sort of thing w/ study material for my college classes on several occasions, and its something that makes me want to rip out what little hair I might have on my head.

  • Comment by june — June 4, 2010 @ 6:24 am


    Yes, “safe” places are so safe they are hard to find again, very frustrating. Hate it when I decide something must go in a “safe” place.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 4, 2010 @ 12:53 pm


    Maybe we need new motto: There Is No Safe Place (at least not with MY housekeeping.)

  • Comment by Cassi Saily — June 4, 2010 @ 12:59 pm


    Hello Elizabeth,

    I recently discovered your Paksenarrion books, thanks to my husband, and read all 3 of them and the 2 Gird books as fast as I could! Afterwards I knew I needed more of Paksenarrion and found out Oath of Fealty had come out recently. It came in the the mail about a week ago, and I finally finished it this morning at 3:30, having read every spare moment I could.
    I just discovered your blog here, and have been catching up on some of your posts and I am SO excited and happy to know you have at least 2 more books on the way!

    I love reading about Paks and Keiri and especially Dorrin. I am really enjoying her character now that you have explored it more. I think I am enjoying your books more than The Lord of the Rings series! (probably because of the strong, female main character that I find so awesome) THANK YOU for sharing your great imagination with us and I can’t wait for KINGS to come out.

  • Comment by Adam Baker — June 4, 2010 @ 9:18 pm


    I think I should start putting things in a place I know I will forget, but I cant seem to ever remember where I put things so that I will remember where they are at.

  • Comment by Michelle — June 5, 2010 @ 9:56 pm


    I do the same…putting things in “safe” places and then forgetting about it. Although sometimes that means I come across pleasant surprises, like the time I found $50 tucked away in a sock. 🙂

    My husband finally! finished Oath so now I can talk about it with him. It’s been killing me not to be able to discuss the book with him, especially since he was the one who introduced me to Paks. He is as anxious as I am for the next one. Of course, Stammel is his favorite since he is a SNCO in the Corps. 🙂

  • Comment by AmyG — June 6, 2010 @ 6:15 am


    I’ve had the same trouble with finding things.
    I generally remember that I’ve put it in a “safe” place—but not where that place is! The strange thing is that in our house, my brother’s bedroom acts like a black hole. Whenever something is lost, the saying in our family is “go and look in hiss room.” Unfortunately this hasn’t worked for my iPod Touch which has been AWOL for six months now.

    I’m a long-time fan, first-time poster so I’m going to gush for a little bit here :).

    I think the first book of yours that I read was “Sheepfarmer’s Daughter”, but then went on to the “Gird” series – both of which I thought were pretty good. However, when I found your science-fiction books I really liked them. I started off with the Serrano books and thought that they were good, but I fell in love with Kylara Vatta and went into a reading (and buying) frenzy. I think that I have all of your books (apart from Oath)as well as your short story collections – although not the limited edition “Fencing In” which I can’t find anywhere.

    Now, back to the main topic…

    I’ve been reading Oath of Fealty over and over again (the library is getting slightly annoyed with me) and I look forward to buying the audiobook when it comes out. So far, I’ve found that I like Jennifer Van Dyck’s readings of your books which makes it very pleasant when I’m driving long distances (I am re-listening to Oath of Gold). I also love the Graphic Audio adaptations!

    I know quite a few authors who will say “I’m not a mapmaker so this map is not to scale, or representative of anything”, so kudos to you for taking the time to do it right!

  • Comment by june — June 7, 2010 @ 9:54 pm


    The older I get the more I blame losing something in a safe place on age. Problem is I have always lost things, find them too. I remember getting a set of Simpsons toys for my daughters Xmas present when they first came out. Found them a few years back in the bottom of the china cab. when I took the time to clean it. Thought it was a picher I had bought in that sack. The toys are worth more money now, but she would have been thrilled to get them at the time. By the way that was sometime in the 80’s when I purchased them at KMart and just found them around 6 years ago when I moved the china and had to empty it. Good housekeeper I am not.

  • Comment by Dave Ring — June 8, 2010 @ 12:23 pm


    Regarding “No Safe Place”, Ursula Leguin wrote, “There is no safety and there is no end. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss”. I’m not sure if she had housekeeping in mind.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 8, 2010 @ 12:58 pm


    She would have if she’d seen my house.

    That’s a perfect quote…the terrible abyss…

  • Comment by Osi — June 10, 2010 @ 2:43 pm


    I am currently reading Point of Honor, and at the beginning it states that we will learn more about Arvid in Oath of Fealty and its sequels ..

    I found this odd because I dont remember any mentioning of him in Oath. So I went through the book again, and lo and behold, he is not in there ..

    Was he removed, is he only in the sequels, or?

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 10, 2010 @ 3:29 pm


    I know he’s mentioned, if not by name by his actions. Paks speaks to Dorrin that the regalia remind her of the necklace Arvid gave her, and later there’s mention of the thief who got Paks away after her ordeal, and then helped with the clearing out of Liartians. I think it’s in the Council meeting that someone suggests asking their Thieves Guild liaison to keep an eye/ear out for any southern spies seeking information about the regalia.

    “Point of Honor” was originally in Oath, but it didn’t connect to any other plot points well enough to justify a place in the book proper. I was very glad to have it online as a side-story. But I think I forgot how much had been cut.

    In Kings of the North and in III (which doesn’t have a title yet), Arvid has much more stage time. As a result of coming to official notice by saving Paks from Barranyi and helping with the cleansing of the Guild (sort of–they think) Arvbid has become almost respectable. His familiarity with the necklace leads him into one situation after another, none of them very…um…healthy. These sections are integral to the long-arc plot, and thus are unlikely to be cut.

  • Comment by Osi — June 10, 2010 @ 3:43 pm


    You, are my hero 🙂 I love the books in this universe 🙂 Always a great read.

    Do you have any plans or such of any more books in the universe past book III ?

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 10, 2010 @ 4:26 pm


    Publishing realities may get in the way, but I don’t think I can finish this in three books. Editors and publishers have the last word, though. To be horribly blunt, Kings of the North needs to sell better than Oath did, and Oath needs to go on selling through the summer and autumn. III is due in January and I’ll try to deliver it before that, but that’s when discussions about funding the next book(s) start.

  • Comment by Alex — June 11, 2010 @ 11:28 pm



    Were you aware that The Deed of Paksenarrion was being used as the primary literature for a business course on leadership at Southwestern University in Georgetown? I took the course last fall and just finished Oath of Fealty. I wonder if our professor knew you lived just 10 minutes down the road?! I’m sure you would have loved some of the aesthetic performances that we did using Paks’ world as inspiration.

    Unfortunately, the professor just retired, so the class is no longer offered. I will tell you that you have many fans in Georgetown, TX!

  • Comment by ValarieC — June 12, 2010 @ 1:35 am


    Arvid IS mentioned in Oath; one instance I recall is when Arcolin (I think) is getting or giving the whole story on Paks’ ordeal, and describes him as either a thief or in the employ of the Thieves Guild.

    I need to know where these online postings of short storiea are. Where is “Point of Honor”? Are there more? Talk to me!!

    Don’t sweat the map debacle. If cartographers are like artists, you put the smaller drawings in a smaller tube because you were concerned they would get lost or damaged if the big tune was unrolled carelessly. I love that it bothers you, though. Your details make for fine writing.

    Thanks again.


  • Comment by elizabeth — June 12, 2010 @ 9:35 am


    The online bits (or maybe only one bit–I sent two and can’t recall if the other was used) are at publisher’s blogsites…but did I have the sense to make a handy file of the URLs? I did not! Hey, anyone! If you read one of those, please give the URL. Right now I have a fast-unrolling scene with Stammel and I don’t want to let it go stale. Plus of course the maps.

    Thank you, Valarie, for your comments on the map thing and for the reminder that you folks (the broad ground of Paks fans) are probably much better at retrieving details than I am. An interviewer yesterday (I had a really fun interview with a journalist from the UK, though getting us both in the same place at the same time wasn’t easy) was astonished that I hadn’t looked for fan sites and databases to check up on details I’d lost/couldn’t remember/etc. It hadn’t occurred to me, and not because I thought of stalkers. Just…duh.

    So you can now expect questions from the writer, which will no doubt convince you it’s a miracle I can write coherently at all. (“She doesn’t remember THAT? Should we alert medical services??”)

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 12, 2010 @ 9:38 am


    Alex, yes, I was aware of that. In fact, one year I was able to come, speak to the class, and see the performance (that year it was a video.) Last fall, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to come, because of travel out of state. (Mild correction–it’s not ten minutes down the road unless you drive well over the speed limit…I drove to Georgetown yesterday to meet my interviewer. Those two new traffic lights before I-35 do slow things down and even before it was 20-30 minutes depending on whether you were stuck behind a farm truck or quarry truck…)

  • Comment by PamelaL — June 12, 2010 @ 3:39 pm


    Just finished ‘Oath’. I was apprehensive because it’s been so long since your last fantasy books and I had heard that Paks only appeared a few times. Silly me. I loved it.

    Stammel. Oh my. He’s one of my favorite characters. When it’s been a horrible bad day and I need to read a little something the first few chapters of Sheepfarmer’s daughter are often just the thing. It was gut wrenching when I realized what happened to him. My dogs came running to find out what was wrong.

    Here’s the URL for ‘Point of Honor’ and ‘Cross Purposes’
    Kieri and Elis? That’s going to be fun!

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 12, 2010 @ 3:42 pm


    Thank you! I’m going to add that URL to the LINKS page here and the next update of the website will add it there.

  • Comment by PamelaL — June 12, 2010 @ 5:26 pm


    You’re welcome. Although the fireworks between Elis and Kieri would be fun I hope for both their sakes they don’t end up married. Unless she grows up a whole lot before then.
    He needs someone mature and able to shoulder her share of the load. A widow who knows where all the bodies are buried in the noble families would be perfect. Maybe someone who brings her daughter to court and isn’t even thinking about the king for herself.
    I’m looking forward to seeing more of Arvin.
    I liked the multiple plot lines. I was annoyed for a second every time one segment ended but then happy to be reading the new one.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 12, 2010 @ 5:43 pm


    There are other fireworks than those between Elis and Kieri…(evil grin of author.)

  • Comment by Wanda — June 12, 2010 @ 9:08 pm


    Loved the omnibus Deed Of Paksenarrion which I got when it was first issued, and the two Gird books. Did somersaults of joy when I read that Oath Of Fealty was released, and have reread it umpteen times already (Have Mikeli’s King’s Pardon speech to Dorrin practically memorized, LOL.) Oath HAS to sell well, I can’t stand it if more Paksworld books aren’t published. It’s a tossup as to whether this universe, Katherine Kurtz’ Deryni world, or P C Hodgell’s Kencyrrath saga, is my absolute favorite 🙂 I was actually rather hoping that Kieri would end up with one of Hanlin’s granddaughters or nieces, to be honest. I also want to find out more about Dorrin and that crown, and what Sergeant Stammel ultimately ends up doing.
    By the way, have you considered attaching a “clapper” to the mapcase, LOL?
    Please keep writing. Inquiring minds want to know more 🙂

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 12, 2010 @ 10:13 pm


    It’s too bad, in a way, that Hanlin is past childbearing…that could have been verrry interesting indeed, if she’d been the right age to set her cap at him. How to annoy a lot of people in at least three realms… The girls themselves are both interesting, as young people, but they’re…girls. And at the moment quite sulky girls, which doesn’t improve their chances. Though I now know how things go with Elis, I still don’t know where the other one ends up.

    Dorrin and the crown, yes. But also Dorrin and Verrakai renegades, and Dorrin and the other nobles and their families, and Dorrin as a householder. Proportionally, the next book has more of Kieri and less of Dorrin and Arcolin, but the proportions may change again in III.

    The chapter I was working on today hit a snag (I went off-track somewhere; everything was fine up until page x, and then got stiffer and stiffer until it hardened into NO. It will come back.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — June 13, 2010 @ 4:26 pm



    As far as sales go. Talk to the publisher. I don’t think they did enough for pushing it to the stores. I saw it at one place and then when I went back the one copy on the shelf in the SFF section was gone. Went to another shop and it wasn’t there at all. I asked. They said there were copies in the store and then went hunting and found them all in the new releases. Not a one in the SFF section. Never did ask at the first shop to see where their copies were.

    One was Barnes and Noble the other Borders, the order doesn’t matter. But those two chains certainly didn’t advertise it to the in store browsers who were likely going to buy OoF.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2010 @ 4:35 pm


    Actually I think the publishers tried hard. But both chains and store managers make some decisions on their own. Chains decide how many they will order. And if it was in “new releases” table or dump, this is a publisher push–failure to keep at least one copy on the SFF shelf is a store decision (or lack of decision.)

    This is not the first book of mine to have been stuck in the back in a box, rather than on the shelf, at some store or other. It takes an enthusiastic employee, often, to unpack “my” box first and be sure it’s out on the floor…stores have thousands of titles to service. Unpacking boxes, putting books on the shelf, keeping some copies on end dumps or tables, takes someone physically doing that work. So except in the rare case of a clerk taking a dislike to a writer (and this has been reported) I tend to blame overworked clerks and understaffed stores. (Though not in the case of original orders, where the bookstore national buyers are definitely in the hot seat.)

  • Comment by ValarieC — June 14, 2010 @ 2:54 am


    I can at least contribute something positive here. When I ordered the series that I donated to the library, I demanded to talk to the store manager. I told him how pissed I was at the way they’ve been burying and understocking good sci fi & fantasy books. So many of the new books out are just a mighty hunt to see when I can did them. I told him I usually end up ordering online now, rather than dropping my $250 a month book budget in his store the way I used to.

    He thanked me for ordering from them and my comments and said that so much depends on who is overseeing eachgenre. He said right now there’s a big push on graphic novels and teen books. My reply was fairly biting; I wanted him to think just for a second, shouldn’t take more than that, on the fact that he owned a BOOK STORE, not a comic book store, and asked him how much his average daily sales were for teens versus, oh, I don’t know, adults with real income who budget for their books AND who pay for the books of the majority of teens and kids.

    He stammered something about “Twilight” and I waved in his face the receipt for the entire hardback collection of Paksworld which I had JUST purchased and asked if he was getting the idea. Then I pointed out that the Twilight series was written and available in ADULT fiction til it hit the movies.

    Argh! I have kids. I buy tons of books for them. My husband buys books I buy books. But if they can’t figure out how to market the ones we want, I think authors like you should self-publish your works and offer them up to readers like me. I just want the book, Elizabeth. I don’t care — would probably prefer it, actually — if you got the whole $25 a hardback & paid your editor & publisher directly from that.

    They think drug addiction is an issue, and it is. Keep screwing up the book world, and there will be a totally unanticipated revolution of happy, wealthier authors, happy readers, and bewildered middlemen waving helplessly at their bookshelves stocked with books their teenagers and comic book geeks prefer, wondering where they went wrong.

    (sigh!). Ok, I feel better. Go finish writing a kickass life for Stammel,
    and thank you for that incredible scene of Dorrin in the well at the village.


  • Comment by Arthur — November 7, 2010 @ 9:47 pm


    Hurrah Valerie! I got my copy form the library, and was the first to get at that volume(luckily)! I’d love to see authors get the full cost of their books and a profit, rather than (royalties) that are relatively tiny. I have all of Ms. Moon’s books, and ( having been shut out of the internet because of a move) just found out Kings of the North is coming out November 12th! I’m in a golden had fog I’m so enthused. Dragons! Elves! Warring kingdoms! Good and evil at war! HURRAH! CRY HAVOC! ….. Sorry.

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