Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Eccentric Olivia Chatham has found her life's calling. Crime buster.

Tucker Monroe, the small Wisconsin town's mysterious new resident, discovers he, too, has a mission...Keeping up with her.


Cyndia Depre was born in Iowa, and has lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Minnesota. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, with a second major in Finance, from Northern Illinois University. After running her own business for ten years, she closed the doors and began writing full-time. She now lives in a suburb of the Twin Cities with her husband and their miniature Schnauzer. They keep an old, but much loved, boat at a marina on Lake Minnetonka, and use it as often as possible. Cyndia is currently working on her third novel.

Here's her post on some of her pet peeves. Do you share any of them?

I’m pretty sure we all have a book peeve or two. Here are some of mine. I’d love to hear yours!

Coincidence-Coincidence happens in life. But to paraphrase what someone, I think Mark Twain, said, “The difference between life and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.” How true. If something happens in a book, there better be a reason for it. Two egregious examples of far too much leap to mind. In one a medical examiner was consulting in a distant city. Not the next county, but thousands of miles from her home. While there a body turned up, which just happened to be someone from her town. Someone she knew. That was a bit much, but I kept reading. The coincidences kept piling up. Instead of taking the novel seriously, I finished it wondering when the next unbelievable event would occur, and laughing when it did. That was the last book I read by that author.

Another had a medical examiner (they do seem to pop up often, don’t they?) happen to drive by a river where police and rescue people happened to have discovered a body. It was December, in a cold climate, but the ME happened to have scuba gear in the trunk and naturally was able to save the day and help with the body. Then she went home and made lasagna, clear down to preparing her own mozzarella. I couldn’t finish that book, and never bought another by the author. Both these writers are wildly popular, so I’m sure it’s a ‘me’ thing. But I gave up on them.

Editing-Once an author is popular, they sometimes get more free rein from editors. This can badly. One recent novel read more as a travelogue than fiction. The writer had been to Italy, and clearly loved it. Readers were going to get the detailed tour whether they wanted it or not. I didn’t. Just because your books sell doesn’t mean everything you write is a pearl. Listen to editors. Please.

Loose Ends-Several recent novels just ended. Like the authors were in a contest and the buzzer went off. What about Aunt Sue? Did they ever find Jim’s missing money? Did Lulu get her operation? If you throw something out there, something to add to the tension, resolve it. Loose ends make me nuts.

Repetition-I read a book with a hero and heroine falling in love. However, their families had been feuding for years. That was repeated over and over and over and over….Readers aren’t dumb. Don’t talk down to us by repeating something we know. It irritates us.

Dialect-Another recent book had young people in London speaking in dialect to the point it was hard to understand. I’d rather the author establish their way of talking, then go back to ‘normal’ dialog. I hear the accent once I know it’s part of the character. And I don’t waste time and get pulled out of the story by strange phrases. The same is true with a Southern accent. It’s lovely to hear. I adore Paula Deen’s ‘Y’all’. But I just can’t read it in every line. I hear it anyway, so leave it out. Again, this is all just my taste.

Ignored Pets-If you have a character with a pet, don’t forget the poor animal. Feed it. Hug it. Exercise it. Don’t stick it in the kitchen with a bowl of water and another of kibble. Once I see an animal in a story, I worry about it. Same with kids. If they’re in the novel, make sure they’re taken care of.

That’s my list. How about you?


  1. I love how you worry about pets in books- so do I... :) Great blog, thanks for sharing.

    Thanks for hosting, Morgan.

  2. Great article!

    Repetition in books drives me crazy. I once read a book that was over 500 pages long. It would probably have been 200 pages less if I wasn't forced to go through the same event from every major character's POV.

    Forgotten characters drive me up the wall too. I read a book where the author brought in a new character later in the book--also what I thought was a no, no--had him forge a strong friendship with the MC, and then he disappeared off the face of the planet.

    I'm guilty of the dialect thing. I guess I never noticed how difficult that could be for people, but my Irish fellow uses specific words and phrases to identify him all the time.


  3. Anonymous10:45 AM

    Thanks so much for having me, Morgan! This blog was fun to write because I vented, and that felt good.

    I think pets worry a lot of us animal lovers. In movies, too. Once I see a furry critter, I fret until I know it's okay.

    Ah, the forgotten character. That one slipped my mind, but you're right. Irritating as can be!

    Dialect is very tricky. I love a Scottish author, and he sprinkles dialect all over. But it's done so well I don't notice. I think it depends on if it seems forced and heavy-handed or a natural part of the character. Some words, like the British 'gobsmacked', tickle me whenever I see them. But since 'y-all' is such a large part of southern speech, I hear it even if it isn't in the sentence. I hope that makes sense. LOL

    This is great fun! I bet we get some great peeves today!


  4. I don't have much problem with dialect and forgotten kritters gets me too (I write a lot of kritter stories), but what amazes me is how well the classic (Dickens, Steinbeck, etc) are written and they had to do everything by hand. The editors had to wade through page after page of handwritten or typed material.Nowadays there is email, fax, computer, why is editing so hard? That is a sign of being lazy, in my book.

  5. Anonymous11:26 AM

    I know what Cyndia means about the pets. You wonder if they were a walk-on part for that chapter to never be seen again! :)

  6. Hi Cyndia,
    Just got back from a book signing for a book club. I thought it would be about 10 people. Turned out to be 100!

    Anyway, welcome to my blogspot. I hope you're having fun venting and sharing other people's vents.

    My peeves -
    I don't care for lots of dialect in books. Also, if I don't like the name of a major character, I won't buy that book.

    Morgan Mandel

  7. I LOVE the work gobsmacked.
    Pets in books getting lost I agree with.
    I hate when someone gets a hobby or profession wrong when a few phone calls could have cleared it up.
    I'm involved in EMS and I once read a mystery writer who had a NJ EMT pronouncing someone. NOT. All he had to do was call an ambulance squad to find out the correct method. Ack!

  8. Preternatural made me nauseous. Anne Rice used it all the time to describe Lestat. Every time I see the word in a book, I want to throw up.
    Repetition in the way an author repeats something over and over again about a character, on the same page, just in case we forgot three paragraphs earlier. Readers aren't stupid, they can follow a plot.

  9. I love this blog post - it really made me think. Thanks Mary, and Cyndia:)

  10. Anonymous6:20 PM

    Excellent post. I'll add on massive amounts of description. I have a book about 700 pages long that would probably be half that without all the tedious description.

  11. Ooh, the woes of reading poorly edited material...

    I've noticed that some of the smaller presses seem to have limited editing capabilities. Okay, that's saying it nice. In doing book reviews, I've found it difficult to handle some small press titles that have skimped on the process. I'm not saying that this never happens in the big houses, but it's far less often. *Please don't think I'm trying to dog on small presses. Several people I know have had fine work put out by small presses.*

    I reviewed some titles in a now-defunct online publisher. They ended up asking me to be an editor because I caught so many errors, but they went out of business before I got any real work done.

    As a wannabe editor, it drives me nuts to see all the grammar and punctuation errors. Cyndia is partially right that some of these things get past through sheer laziness. There are other factors, such as heavy workloads... It's unfortunate. Not only do readers suffer from the irritation, but the authors suffer, too. Poor editing makes good authors look bad. Yes, authors are supposed to submit well-written material, but the editors are supposed to support that effort. Not every master storyteller has the skills to use great technique.

    So, where have the good editors gone? Are they so swamped they can't adequately do their jobs?

    Yeah, that's one of my major pet peeves, too. Can you tell?

    Finally, let me say this. DON'T SAY "I COULD CARE LESS." Please, don't do it! Use proper grammar!

    *end rant*

  12. Anonymous5:00 PM

    Wow, Morgan! Huge congrats on the signing turnout! That's a lot of people! 80 turned out for one of my signings, but to be candid, I have to admit we offered free food and wine. LOL

    Another peeve: Why does Amazon package orders so firmly you need tools, actual tools, to open the box?! Grrrr


  13. Anonymous6:42 AM

    I love my pet a lot and definitely worry for him very much, I liked your ideas very much and I have more information about how to care for your pets as I keep on searching.


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